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The more things change in the USA casino capitalism the more they stay the same

Cruise to Frugality Island for stock holding  401K Lemmings

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“When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product
of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”

John Maynard Keynes

"Life is a school of probabilities."

Walter Bagehot

Note: Some thoughts  on 2019  added on Jan 3, 2019.

Neoliberal economics (aka casino capitalism) function from one crash to another. Risk is pervasively underpriced under neoliberal system, resulting in bubbles small and large which hit the economy periodically. The problem are not strictly economical or political. They are ideological. Like a country which adopted a certain religion follows a certain path, The USA behaviour after adoption of neoliberalism somewhat correlate with the behaviour of alcoholic who decided to booze himself to death. The difference is that debt is used instead of booze.

Hypertrophied role of financial sector under neoliberalism introduces strong positive feedback look into the economic system making the whole system unstable. Any attempts to put some sand into the wheels in the form of increasing transaction costs or jailing some overzealous bankers or hedge fund managers are blocked by political power of financial oligarchy, which is the actual ruling class under neoliberalism for ordinary investor (who are dragged into stock market by his/her 401K) this in for a very bumpy ride. I managed to observe just two two financial crashed under liberalism (in 2000 and 2008) out of probably four (Savings and loan crisis was probably the first neoliberal crisis). The next crash is given, taking into account that hypertrophied role of financial sector did not changes neither after dot-com crisis of 200-2002 not after 2008 crisis (it is unclear when and if it ended; in any case it was long getting the name of "Great Recession").

Timing of the next crisis is anybody's guess but it might well be closer then we assume. As Mark Twain aptly observed: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes" ;-):

This morning that meant a stream of thoughts triggered by Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed, particularly this:

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

As most 401K investors are brainwashing into being "over bullish", this page is strongly bearish in "perma-bear" fashion in order to serve as an antidote to "Barrons" style cheerleading. Funny, but this page is accessed mostly during periods of economic uncertainty. At least this was the case during the last two financial crisis(2000 and 2008). No so much during good times: the number of visits drops to below 1K a month.

Some thoughts  on 2019

It was clear that 2017 stock market run was detached from fundamentals. Mostly speculative run. And the current stock market decline could well happen three months aerler or three month later but it was in the cards. It is difficult to estimate the power of inertia in such speculative runs. Also layoffs and decline of the standard liming of workers and lower middle class still can continue to improve the balance sheet until "Yellow Vests" moment stops them.

Jobs created now are mostly "inferior" low paid or temp/contractor jobs and the numbers just mask the cruel reality of the USA job market.

Which in reality is dismal, especially for young and old workers. several more or less paid specialties disappeared in 2018 due to automation (cash office worker is one). automatic cashier is supermarkets are also now more visible.  So spontaneous cases of vandalism, killings of coworkers and other form of "action of desperation" (as well as the rate of death from opioids -- which is yet another form of the same) would not be too surprising in such an atmosphere. Even with the power of the current national security state. Trump is playing with fire trying to cut on food stamps and implementing some other action in this program of "national neoliberalism" which is in internal policy is almost undistinguishable from neofascism.  He risk facing "Macron situation" sooner or later.

In any case at some point Minsky moment should arrive for the stock market. I am not sure that the current decline is that start of such an event. It might be postponed further down the line for a year or two.  But it will eventually come.  We can only guess what form it might take, but with the current Apple troubles and valuations of tech sector I think it might take the form of something similar to dot-com bubble deflation No.2

I do not see Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft and other tech high flyers completely immune to the stock crash of 50% magnitude or more. For example, Google is overly dependent on advertising revenue which can grow only by strangulating small sites owners which use it as the advertizing platform (which it successfully implements fro several years now). But at some point owners might revolt and start dropping it for Microsoft or other platform.  Facebook might face a backlash, if people understand that selling data about them in the part of the business model, not an aberration.

One of the most unexplainable things that happened in 2018 was dramatic fall of oil prices in the Q4. This was quite surprising (and destructive) after the period of little or no capital investment in the new fields for three years or so.  Shale oil production increases in the USA are only possible if junk bonds can be produced along with it. Junks bonds that will never be paid. With the current debt load and prices below $50 most of the USA shale oil companies are zombies. Most if not all of thenm are losing money.  Only return of ~$70 oil prices can save them, if anything at all. WSJ touched this topic recently.

So this surprising fall of oil prices (from around $70 to around $43 WTI) looks connected to the speculations in the "paper oil" market.

Financialization allows for oil price to be completely detached from fundamentals for a year or even two (Saudis need over $80 I think to balance the budget, I think; this represents "fair price" as they are one of the three largest producers).

But you will never know this unless there are shortages at gas stations. The difference is covered by inflated statistics from IEA and similar agencies as well as "paper oil" -- future contracts which are settled in dollars.

This is the reality of "casino capitalism" ( aka neoliberalism ) with its rampant and destructive financialization.


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[May 21, 2019] CounterPunch

May 21, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

May 20, 2019 Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings by Eileen Appelbaum Surprise medical bills are in the news almost daily. Last Thursday, the White House called for legislation to protect patients from getting surprise doctor bills when they are rushed to the emergency room and receive care from doctors not covered by insurance at an in-network hospital.

The financial burden on patients can be substantial -- these doctor charges can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

What's behind this explosion of outrageous charges and surprise medical bills? Physicians' groups, it turns out, can opt out of a contract with insurers even if the hospital has such a contract. The doctors are then free to charge patients, who desperately need care, however much they want.

This has made physicians' practices in specialties such as emergency care, neonatal intensive care and anesthesiology attractive takeover targets for private equity firms.

As health reporter Bob Herman observed , acquisition of these health services "exemplifies private equity firms' appetite for buying health care providers that wield a lot of market power."

Emergency rooms, neonatal intensive care units and anesthesiologists' practices do not operate like an ordinary marketplace. Physicians' practices in these specialties do not need to worry that they will lose patients because their prices are too high.

Patients can go to a hospital in their network, but if they have an emergency, have a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit or have surgery scheduled with an in-network surgeon, they are stuck with the out-of-network doctors the hospital has outsourced these services to.

This stands in stark contrast to other health-care providers, such as primary-care physicians, who will lose patients if they are not in insurers' networks.

It's not only patients that are victimized by unscrupulous physicians' groups. These doctors' groups are able to coerce health insurance companies into agreeing to pay them very high fees in order to have them in their networks.

They do this by threatening to charge high out-of-network bills to the insurers' covered patients if they don't go along with these demands. High payments to these unethical doctors raise hospitals' costs and everyone's insurance premiums.

That's what happened when private equity-owned physician staffing firms took over hospital emergency rooms.

A 2018 study by Yale health economists looked at what happened when the two largest emergency room outsourcing companies -- EmCare and TeamHealth -- took over hospital ERs. They found:

" that after EmCare took over the management of emergency services at hospitals with previously low out-of-network rates, they raised out-of-network rates by over 81 percentage points. In addition, the firm raised its charges by 96 percent relative to the charges billed by the physician groups they succeeded."

TeamHealth used the threat of sending high out-of-network bills to the insurance company's covered patients to gain high fees as in-network doctors. The researchers found:

" in most instances, several months after going out-of-network, TeamHealth physicians rejoined the network and received in-network payment rates that were 68 percent higher than previous in-network rates."

What the Yale study failed to note, however, is that EmCare has been in and out of PE hands since 2005 and is currently owned by KKR. Blackstone is the once and current owner of TeamHealth, having held it from 2005 to 2009 before buying it again in 2016.

Private equity has shaped how these companies do business. In the health-care settings where they operate, market forces do not constrain the raw pursuit of profit. People desperate for care are in no position to reject over-priced medical services or shop for in-network doctors.

Private equity firms are attracted by this opportunity to reap above-market returns for themselves and their investors.

Patients hate surprise medical bills, but they are very profitable for the private equity owners of companies like EmCare (now called Envision) and TeamHealth. Fixing this problem may be more difficult than the White House imagines.

This column first appeared on The Hill .

[May 20, 2019] The dirty art of politicians entrapment: Blackmail, smear campaigns, various traps via honey or corruption, hookers, gay sex, pedophilia, or what-have-you, all or in combination

Highly recommended!
That remind me how old Kushner tried to smear his relative...
Notable quotes:
"... They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts. ..."
"... The "Russian" female is notably very attractive with a slender build. There is a honey-trap angle here as well. This would likely inspire the boasting (in order to impress her) on the part of the wingnut politician. ..."
"... The far-right is the Troy Horse of transnational corporations and capital and already discredited neoliberal stablishment which comes now disguised under the softening label of "populists". Beware, there seems to be a coordinated effort at several blogs in the ten previous days of the European elections to whitewash the far-right. ..."
"... So this very much hints something more. Right now there is a debate of cocain being visible on the table but this accusation points more towards schnickle with a babe imho. The babe to his right is not that ugly, admittely. ..."
"... As expected the hysteria of "russian" meddling have now publicized to weaken FPÖ in the EU election. Winners? NATO/US parties. ..."
"... Seems indeed to be a honeypot aspect to the entrapment, and it's quite possible Strache stepped down at once to avoid that part to come to light, so that the public revelations would be limited to the economic shenanigans and influence-peddling level. ..."
"... Also, this goes to show that the bulk of our Western politicians, across all the political spectrum, are a bunch of mediocre and quite corrupt fools. For him not to smell that this was a setup from the very first minute, it must be that such proposals are common place all across the board - which will only reinforce my suspicion that our societies, peoples and mankind as a whole would only benefit if we fully wiped out our economic, financial and political establishment and started from scratches. ..."
"... Blackmail, smear campaigns, various traps via honey or corruption, hookers and blow, gay sex, paedofilia, or what-have-you, - all or in combination. Politicians are "all" compromised in these ways. Buck the system or threaten the status quo - whereby it gets somebody's serious attention and the shite hits the fan. ..."
"... The savages in this neoliberal order use the secret services to subvert democracy. Deception and manipulation are the means used to corrupt the public domain. They would push the most pliable and ruthless leaders into office. Catastrophe and violence and disinformation are their most powerful weapons. But I still think that political processes and elections do matter; and what counts is a struggle to improve and reform the system of government. Doing our best to protect and maintain the integrity of electoral processes is something that requires both protests and political campaigns. ..."
"... The very strong implication certainly seems to be that there may be further video of Strache sleeping with the honey pot. He obviously knows what happened that night. If there were video cameras hidden everywhere, that was obviously one of the intentions behind the sting from the outset. ..."
"... B, please do an article on the Nazi penetration of the German security services, Interior Ministry, Army, CDU etc, and links to the NSU affair, shredding of millions of documents by the Interior Ministry when demanded by the courts as evidence, links with the Board members and advisory board members of German big business especially Siemens and Deutche Bank and Bayer, etc. ..."
"... It is a wonder Strache's remark "Journalists are the biggest whores on the planet" and how he says he can subvert an entire media outlet to his political agenda by even firing the few remaining fringe elements. ..."
"... I don't think Strache is as harmless as you portray him, B. You fall for his defence strategy if you attribute all his statements to the influence of alcohol. At that time, the man was very confident that he would soon be at the levers of power, which then materialized. It remains to be proven whether he did not put into practice anything of what he talked about at that house in Ibiza. After all, he was talking about the by far most influential newspaper in Austria. ..."
"... Of course it is true that it is the neoliberal globalisers who have brought us to where we stand today. But that doesn' make people like Strache and Salvini any less dangerous. If they rise to total power, the result will be a naked dictatorship. Strache was beaten with his own weapons, you don't have to be under any illusions. ..."
"... Who could have ordered such an elaborate sting operation? ..."
"... The sophisticated operation using actors and a villa prepared with hidden cameras and microphones shows that this is hardly a normal case of dirty campaigning by political opponents. Most likely, either it was an action by a secret service or someone with deep pockets hired former secret agents. ..."
"... If it was an action by secret services, the most plausible explanation seems to be that Western secret services targeted Strache because FPÖ is one of the parties who is in favor of restoring normal relations with Russia ..."
"... François Fillon comes to mind, a French conservative candidate who also had a quite a friendly attitude towards Russia - shortly before the elections, it was revealed (at least claimed) that Fillon had given his wife ficticious employment, and Fillon lost popularity, which helped Macron enormously. ..."
"... Probably, some of the things Strache said during this sting operation were inacceptable, and Fillon may also not be innocent, but if there is a systematic selective targeting of European politicians who want to normalize relations with Russia by secret services, that would be a huge problem for democracy. ..."
"... In 2016, Joseph Mifsud invited George Papadopoulos to Rome and introduced him to "Putin's niece" with the intent of smearing Trump as "Russian puppet" and destroying his election chances. In 2017, someone (who?) invited Heinz-Christian Strache to Ibiza and introduced him to "Russian billionaire's niece" with the intent of smearing Strache as "Russian puppet" and destroying his party's election chances. Notice a pattern? ..."
"... This is a clear case of Germany interfering in Austrian elections. Austria should deport 60 German diplomats, shut down German embassy in Vienna, and impose sanctions on Germany. Also put a German girl interested in Austrian politics in jail for 18 months. ..."
"... Thinking about it, after revealing e-mail of HRC, Podesta etc. were published, their core supporters were enraged about the dirty trick and did not pay attention to the disclosed content, while for the core opponents of HRC she was already sufficiently vilified so the net change in voting intentions that can be attributed to that incident was modest. ..."
"... Anyone who does not directly have his or her family's nose in the EU trough at this point knows that the policies espoused by transatlantic puppets like Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron push our countries and our continent towards self-destruction. Life in Europe, post-1968 and pre-2013, has been pretty damn good. There's absolutely no good reason for us to rip up our traditions or turn into a continent of immigrants and mobile job seekers. ..."
"... As Strache explains in the video, Austrian dirty tricks are done "via another country". ..."
"... To those who fill that politics of Strache are obnoxious and that justifies entrapment, remembers that methods of that type are not improvised, and that means that there is an apparatus that does it. We noted similarities with provocations against George Papadopoulos. In the latter case the target was cautious, after all, we had to be well aware of such methods. But anyone who is despised by NATO establishment are similar group can be on the receiving end, think about Assange. ..."
May 20, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

During the last days a right wing politician in Austria was taken down by using an elaborate sting. Until Friday Heinz-Christian Strache was leader of the far right (but not fascist) Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) and the Vice Chancellor of the country. On Friday morning two German papers, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel published (German) reports (English) about an old video that was made to take Strache down.

The FPOe has good connections with United Russia, the party of the Russian President Putin, and to other right-wing parties in east Europe. It's pro-Russian position has led to verbal attacks on and defamation of the party from NATO supporting and neoliberal circles.

In July 2017 Strache and his right hand man Johann Gudenus, who is also the big number in the FPOe, get invited for dinner to a rented villa on Ibiza, the Spanish tourist island in the Mediterranean. They are told that the daughter of a Russian billionaire plans large investments in Austria. It was said that she would like to help his party. The alleged daughter of the Russian billionaire, who is actually also Austrian, and her "friend" serve an expensive dinner. Alcohol flows freely. The pair offers a large party donation but asks for returns in form of mark ups on public contracts.

Unknown to Strache the villa is professionally bugged with many hidden cameras and microphones.


A scene from the video. Source: Der Falter (vid, German)

During the six hour long party several schemes get proposed by the "Russian" and are discussed. Strache rejects most of them. He insists several times that everything they plan or do must be legal and conform to the law. He says that a large donation could probably be funneled through an endowment that would then support his party. It is a gray area under Austrian party financing laws. They also discuss if the "Russian" could buy the Kronen Zeitung , Austria's powerful tabloid, and use it to prop up his party.

The evening goes on with several bottles of vodka on the table. Starche gets a bit drunk and boosts in front of the "oligarch daughter" about all his connections to rich and powerful people. He does not actually have these.

Strache says that, in exchange for help for his party, the "Russian" could get public contracts for highway building and repair. Currently most of such contracts in Austria go to the large Austrian company, STRABAG, that is owned by a neoliberal billionaire who opposes the FPOe. At that time Strache was not yet in the government and had no way to decide about such contracts.

At one point Strache seems to understand that the whole thing is a setup. But his right hand man calms him down and vouches for the "Russian". The sting ends with Strache and his companion leaving the place. The never again see the "Russian" and her co-plotter. Nothing they talked about will ever come to fruition.

Three month later Strache and his party win more than 20% in the Austrian election and form a coalition government with the conservative party OeVP led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Even while the FPOe controls several ministries, it does not achieve much politically. It lacks a real program and the government's policies are mostly run by the conservatives.

Nearly two years after the evening on Ibiza, ten days before the European parliament election in which Strache's party is predicted to achieve good results, a video of the evening on Ibiza is handed to two German papers which are known to be have strong transatlanticist leanings and have previously been used for other shady 'leaks'. The papers do not hesitate to take part in the plot and publish extensive reports about the video.

After the reports appeared Strache immediately stepped down and the conservatives ended the coalition with his party. Austria will now have new elections.

On Bloomberg Leonid Bershidsky opines on the case:

Strache's discussion with the Russian oligarch's fake niece shows a propensity for dirty dealing that has nothing to do with idealistic nationalism. Nationalist populists often agitate against entrenched, corrupt elites and pledge to drain various swamps. In the videos, however, Strache and Gudenus behave like true swamp creatures, savoring rumors of drug and sex scandals in Austrian politics and discussing how to create an authoritarian media machine like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's.

I do not believe that the people who voted for the FPOe (and similar parties in other countries) will subscribe to that view. The politics of the main stream parties in Austria have for decades been notoriously corrupt. Compared to them Strache and his party are astonishingly clean. In the video he insists several times that everything must stay within the legal realm. Whenever the "Russian" puts forward a likely illegal scheme, Starche emphatically rejects it.

Bershidsky continues:

Strache, as one of the few nationalist populists in government in the European Union's wealthier member states, was an important member of the movement Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been trying to cobble together ahead of the European Parliament election that will take place next week. On Saturday, he was supposed to attend a Salvini-led rally in Milan with other like-minded politicians from across Europe. Instead, he was in Vienna apologizing to his wife and to Kurz and protesting pitifully that he'd been the victim of a "political assassination" -- a poisonous rain on the Italian right-winger's parade.
...
This leaves the European far right in disarray and plays into the hands of centrist and leftist forces ahead of next week's election. Salvini's unifying effort has been thoroughly undermined, ...

This is also a misreading of the case. The right-wing parties will use the case to boost their legitimacy.

Strache was obviously set up by some intelligence services, probably a German one with a British assist. The original aim was likely to blackmail him. But during the meeting on Ibiza Strache promised and did nothing illegal. Looking for potential support for his party is not a sin. Neither is discussing investments in Austria with a "daughter of a Russian oligarch." Some boosting while drunk is hardly a reason to go to jail. When the incident provided too little material to claim that Strache is corrupt, the video was held back until the right moment to politically assassinate him with the largest potential damage to his party. That moment was thought to be now.

But that Strache stepped down after the sudden media assault only makes him more convincing. The right-wing all over Europe will see him as a martyr who was politically assassinated because he worked for their cause. The issue will increase the right-wingers hate against the 'liberal' establishment. It will further motivate them: "They attack us because we are right and winning." The new far-right block Natteo Salvini will setup in the European Parliament will likely receive a record share of votes.

Establishment writers notoriously misinterpret the new right wing parties and their followers. This stand-offish sentence in the Spiegel story about Strache's party demonstrates the problem:

In the last election, the party drew significant support from the working class, in part because of his ability to simplify even the most complicated of issues and play the common man, even in his role as vice chancellor.

The implicit thesis, that the working class is too dumb to understand the "most complicated of issues", is not only incredibly snobbish but utterly false. The working class understands very well what the establishment parties have done to it and continue to do. The increasing vote share of the far-right is a direct consequence of the behavior of the neoliberal center and of the lack of real left alternatives.

Last week, before the Strache video appeared, Craig Murray put his finger on the wound:

The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.
...
The rejection of the political class manifests itself in different ways and has been diverted down a number of entirely blind alleys giving unfulfilled promise of a fresh start – Brexit, Trump, Macron. As the vote share of the established political parties – and public engagement with established political institutions – falls everywhere, the chattering classes deride the political symptoms of status quo rejection by the people as "populism". It is not populism to make sophisticated arguments that undermine the received political wisdom and take on the entire weight of established media opinion.

If one wants to take down the far right one has to do so with arguments and good politics for the working class. Most people, especially working class people, have a strong sense for justice. The political assassination of Christian Strache is unjust. What was done during the 2007-8 banking crisis was utterly corrupt and also unjust. Instead of going to jail the bankers were rewarded with extreme amounts of money for their assault on the well being of the people. The public was then told that it must starve through austerity to make up for the loss of money.

While I consider myself to be a strong leftist who opposes the right wherever possible, I believe to understand why people vote for Strache's FBOe and similar parties. When one talks to these people issues of injustice and inequality always come up. The new 'populist' parties at least claim to fight against the injustice done to the common men. Unlike most of the establishment parties they seem to be still mostly clean and not yet corrupted.

In the early 1990s Strache actually flirted with violent fascists but he rejected their way. While he has far-right opinions, he and his like are no danger to our societies. If we can not accept that Strache and his followers have some legitimate causes, we will soon find us confronted with way more extreme people. The neoliberal establishment seems to do its best to achieve that.

Posted by b on May 19, 2019 at 01:10 PM | Permalink


james , May 19, 2019 1:40:31 PM | 1

b - thanks .. i agree "elaborate sting" and "the video was held back until the right moment"... clearly this was a set up.. strache says he is going to pursue this legally..

"working class people, have a strong sense for justice. The political assassination of Christian Strache is unjust." injustices are being done on a constant basis now and being justified by the msm regularly.. i think this is part of the reason people are seeking alternatives - whatever they might be... power to the people..screw the neoliberal agenda and blackmail artists that are so rampant at present...

Bratislav Metulski , May 19, 2019 1:40:51 PM | 2
Funny thing is e.g.- a German comedian Jan Böhmerman knew before. Already in April he said in a Video call live in Austian television duringthe TV-prize-giving of the trophy "Romy" that he couldn´t attend personally to receive the price because right know he was sitting together with some FPÖ-buddies in a Russian oligarch-villa on Ibiza, sniffing cocain, drinking and negotiating the takeover of the "Krone-Zeitung" (the biggest rag in Austira, smth like the "Bild" in Germany or "The sun" in Britain).

Böhmers management released a statement yesterday that Böhermann did know before but didn´t name the source he knew it from.
https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article193725535/FPOE-Vize-Strache-Was-Boehmermann-mit-dem-Video-zu-tun-hat.html

Cui bono?

Paul Damascene , May 19, 2019 1:43:18 PM | 3
Your article here raises a number of important issues. More or less at random:

* If I understand your characterization of your political leanings, based on this and on the perspectives MoA offers, I share many of your views. And whereas there may be a certain Schadenfreude at seeing a right-wing, B-team operator reveal himself, I agree that the forces behind the sting itself are of potentially far greater interest (and danger)..

* For every sting and smear such as this that we see, how many others take place sub rosa, corrupting our political and social landscapes, leaving no evidence that might trigger criticism or resistance?

* I'm not sure of how this plays out legally, but this seems not just to have been a sting, but entrapment, in which (if these were law enforcement agents) we could protest that the only illegal activity being proposed, was by those conducting the sting.

* If this was, as you suggest, authored by the BND, then this would be a clear instance of election "meddling" -- though not of the sort that our shining democracies are now being warned against. (At least President Putin will not be accused of conducting it, for once. That oligarch's daughter could have come from anywhere, but of course Russia.) Russia gets smeared is probably the larger aim, rather than this particularly Austrian politician.

hallelujah hinton , May 19, 2019 1:55:07 PM | 4
The "Russian" female is notably very attractive with a slender build. There is a honey-trap angle here as well. This would likely inspire the boasting (in order to impress her) on the part of the wingnut politician.
somebody , May 19, 2019 1:56:55 PM | 5
I think the word is protofascist. b. you have got a blind spot seeing geopolitics everywhere. Truth is most of this is simply a battle of billionaires. The key to understand the Ibiza video is the product placement. Everybody there drinks Red Bull plus alcohol (I am not sure about the alcohol the loss of control of the politicians who are present suggests cocaine).

The owner of Red Bull is an Austrian billionaire called Dietrich Mateschitz. Mateschitz is a right wing crank building a media empire in Austria including an "investigative platform" called addendum that is something like the Austrian version of Breitbart.

For some reason "addendum" began to shoot against Rene Benzko, an Austrian real estate billionaire, who intends to take over Kronenzeitung.

And guess what, Rene Benzko was mentioned in the video "as a friend", and a large part of the conversation centered on taking over Kronenzeitung something Rene Benzko is involved in.

Strache, Vice Chancellor of Austria, explained in the video for every Austrian to understand, that his party's scheme is based on accepting illegal contributions via a ngo, and lowering taxes in return. According to what he says in the video he also intends to charge for water by selling the right to the Latvian/Russien "niece of a Russian oligarch" or someone else prepared to pay to his party's ngo.

Anybody who is not a billionaire voting for FPÖ after this must be braindead.

Arioch , May 19, 2019 1:58:49 PM | 6
> with United Russia, the party of the Russian President Putin

Putin himself though stresses his non involvement in that party, he also tried to bootstrap organizations that could supplant or even challenge U.R. at least in some niches.

While U.R. probably is party of Russian ruling elites, it is hardly one-man-show of LDPR/Zhirinovsky kind and whether Putin is "gray cardinal" of U.R. is very questionable.

Sasha , May 19, 2019 2:05:52 PM | 7
It is said that children and drunk people always say the truth... Why is it not to be taken into account what he said once drunk enough?

For to be a strong leftist, b, you spend a great effort in discharging this man, while whitewashing the far-right saying they are no danger for our societies and assuring that they are clean, when that is a thing you do not know since they have not had yet the possibility to rule.

They are neither cleaner nor inocuous for our societies. For starters they have chosen as scapegoat the migrants when who is to blame for the wave of migration is the US, NATO and their imperial ambitions, so as to throw poor against poor and that way the elites could continue quietly looting us, while we fight each other. You will never heard anything agsint banks ans elites from anybody in the far-right.

FYI, it is not Matteo Salvini who is forming a coalition of the far-right to conflude to European elections, but it is Bannon from his HQ in a Cisterciense monastery in Italy who is commanding this operation. Salvini is really a piece, having supported Guiado and the Venezuelan coup intend, and said what he would do with the Yellow Vests , "I don't go to the Yellow Vests with Molotov cocktails, if anything, I put them in prison" ...

Then it is AfD, who goes also in the block, whose members have claimed the Germans should be proud of the performance of the German Army during both WW....

Then Vox, financed by MEK and Israeli lobby and promoted by Bannon and the WH, who only wear clear neoliberal economic policies in their, for the rest, confusing program.

The best to test what the far-right will do in Europe is taking a look at what is happening in Brazil during these last days, an attack on education and research as if it was a military target ...This, after the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem and wide support to coup d´etat in Venezuela...He is also widely supported and financed by the US and Zionists.

The far-right is the Troy Horse of transnational corporations and capital and already discredited neoliberal stablishment which comes now disguised under the softening label of "populists". Beware, there seems to be a coordinated effort at several blogs in the ten previous days of the European elections to whitewash the far-right.

Bratislav Metulski , May 19, 2019 2:20:38 PM | 8
@4 hallelujah hinton
https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Neuwahlen-Der-gefeierte-Stratege-Kurz-hatte-keine-Optionen-mehr-4425362.html
Telepolis one of the oldest and biggest non-commercial online news and discussion platforms in Germany states in the following article, commenting on his statement at his resignation declaration:

"Glaubt er, man wäre bei Alkohol nachsichtiger? Offenbar schien er sich betrunken kaum mehr im Griff zu haben - und dies ist wohlgemerkt seine Erklärung für die Äußerungen im Video. Erst gegen Ende beginnt er eigenes Fehlverhalten einzuräumen und bittet insbesondere seine Frau um Verzeihung, mit der er ein wenige Monate altes Kind hat. Kenner Straches ahnten an dieser Stelle bereits, dass dieser sich bereits für Dinge entschuldigt, die zu diesem Zeitpunkt der Öffentlichkeit noch gar nicht bekannt sind."

Does he (Strache) really assume he would get more indulgence by blaming it on the alcolhol? Obviously when being drunken he wasn´t in control of himself anymore - and this is actually his explanation for his statements in the video. Somehow at the end he finally begins admitting own misconduct and especially asks his wife for forgiveness, with which he has a few months old child. Experts on Strache suspected from this moment on, that he apologized for things which at this moment are not known to the public, yet"

So this very much hints something more. Right now there is a debate of cocain being visible on the table but this accusation points more towards schnickle with a babe imho. The babe to his right is not that ugly, admittely.

Jackrabbit , May 19, 2019 2:26:38 PM | 9
somebody @5:
battle of billionaires.... Anybody who is not a billionaire voting for FPÖ after this must be braindead.
Anyone who believes voting will change anything is braindead. Only supporting protest Movements (like Gillet Jeune) and free press/citizen journalism (Wikileaks/Assange) will have any real effect.
Zanon , May 19, 2019 2:30:32 PM | 0
Great piece - I dont see how Strache actually made anything wrong or atleast nothing not normal to politicians that constantly seek out support by big, powerful people. Most likely the deep state in Austria struck FPÖ just like FBI struck Trump.

As expected the hysteria of "russian" meddling have now publicized to weaken FPÖ in the EU election. Winners? NATO/US parties.

Arioch , May 19, 2019 2:36:33 PM | 1
@hallelujah hinton #4

Also notice how she pretended to be a niece.

Not some very close relative like daughter or sister, which may be fearsome, as "russian mafia" oligarch could be expected to "protect" her of ladykillers viciously. But also not some far relative who would be seen alien and have no financial support.

Just enough distance to be safe to hit on and try to share the oligarch's money. It was both honey&gold trap.

Sasha , May 19, 2019 2:38:57 PM | 2
Anyone who believes voting will change anything is braindead.

@Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 19, 2019 2:26:38 PM | 9

If voting would be such a waste, why would had taken so hard and long to achieve voting for minorities and women? Why the parties go to such efforts to campaign and disguise themselves as wolves with sheepskin like the far-right?

Why would certain forces need to go to such editorial coordinated efforts through their several blogs out there to give an impression of certain candidates which is opposite to what they really are? Wikilieaks/Assange are part of this efforts, btw

Clueless Joe , May 19, 2019 2:44:05 PM | 4
Metulski:

Seems indeed to be a honeypot aspect to the entrapment, and it's quite possible Strache stepped down at once to avoid that part to come to light, so that the public revelations would be limited to the economic shenanigans and influence-peddling level.

Also, this goes to show that the bulk of our Western politicians, across all the political spectrum, are a bunch of mediocre and quite corrupt fools. For him not to smell that this was a setup from the very first minute, it must be that such proposals are common place all across the board - which will only reinforce my suspicion that our societies, peoples and mankind as a whole would only benefit if we fully wiped out our economic, financial and political establishment and started from scratches.

Sasha , May 19, 2019 2:44:10 PM | 5
Spanish Colonel ( ret.) Pedro Baños, who was postulated for head of the CNI by the Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez, was object of slander campiagn as "pro-Russian" by the Spanish cluster of Integrity Initiative, only for declarations on the prejudice of sanctions for Spain, and nobody made such noise....
hallelujah hinton , May 19, 2019 3:03:31 PM | 6
Blackmail, smear campaigns, various traps via honey or corruption, hookers and blow, gay sex, paedofilia, or what-have-you, - all or in combination. Politicians are "all" compromised in these ways. Buck the system or threaten the status quo - whereby it gets somebody's serious attention and the shite hits the fan.

Enforcement and and penalties are selective. Selective enforcement. It's how "The Law" operates. Not defending the wingnut pig in the article. I appreciate Sasha's Trojan Horse allegory above.

the pair , May 19, 2019 3:16:52 PM | 7
wow...a bunch of elitist neoliberals with contempt for anyone lacking 10 zeroes on their paychecks and zero useful policies use "russian collusion" to entrap and embarrass a pseudo-right wing politician. who could ever imagine such a scenario? and why learn from the masses you represent when james o'keefe gives you all the inspiration you need?

but at least they blocked the ascension of someone who would trade political favors for money. that kind of nonsense simply won't do in western society.

karlof1 , May 19, 2019 3:24:47 PM | 8
Thanks for this explanation, b! I first saw this reported at Geroman's Twitter and used machine translation of the article he linked, but it lacked the context which you provided. This incident is subsumed within the larger conflict that's trying to keep EU from combining with BRI/EAEU, which means its roots/culprits are NATO/Outlaw US Empire--it points to desperation on their part.
Jackrabbit , May 19, 2019 3:25:34 PM | 9
the pair @17

Some will fail to see the sarcasm. Best to use the /sarc tag.

somebody , May 19, 2019 3:34:51 PM | 0
Posted by: hallelujah hinton | May 19, 2019 1:55:07 PM | 4

Sorry, you don't see the Latvian/Russian woman. You see Gudenus' wife who is from Serbia. Whatever the publishing papers got, it was a copy. More will come out.

Copeland , May 19, 2019 4:01:44 PM | 1
The savages in this neoliberal order use the secret services to subvert democracy. Deception and manipulation are the means used to corrupt the public domain. They would push the most pliable and ruthless leaders into office. Catastrophe and violence and disinformation are their most powerful weapons. But I still think that political processes and elections do matter; and what counts is a struggle to improve and reform the system of government. Doing our best to protect and maintain the integrity of electoral processes is something that requires both protests and political campaigns.
BM , May 19, 2019 4:14:36 PM | 2
So this very much hints something more. Right now there is a debate of cocain being visible on the table but this accusation points more towards schnickle with a babe imho. The babe to his right is not that ugly, admittely.
Posted by: Bratislav Metulski | May 19, 2019 2:20:38 PM | 8

The very strong implication certainly seems to be that there may be further video of Strache sleeping with the honey pot. He obviously knows what happened that night. If there were video cameras hidden everywhere, that was obviously one of the intentions behind the sting from the outset.

---

On the issue of "populism" and right-wing parties I confess I have a problem. I certainly want to see the Establishment thrashed, and especially in next week's EU elections, and there is no question that at the moment the right-wing parties have far more potential to upset the establishment than the left. If "Populist" parties are able to radically upset the EU Parliament, that should bring a much-needed hammer and axe to the anti-populist activities of the EU, and hopefully lead to the breakup of the EU.

On the other hand, unlike B, I do have extremely strong worries about the rising power of the far right and their connections to Nazis and neo-Nazis. I am concerned - even without the involvement of Bannon, but far more so with - that the rise of "populism" is a calculated policy of a Nazi segment of the Establishment that is designed specifically to usher in an international Nazi movement across Europe and Latin America under the leadership of and proxies of the - ever more and more Nazi behaving - US (which itself is in so many very real ways descended from Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party and the Japanese war criminals including Bush's family, tight connections with Nazi war criminals in the CIA, and historical leadership figures in the CIA). The large scale and extremely high level infiltration of hardcore Nazis in the German security services, Interior Ministry, Army, and CDU politics is a ticking timebomb waiting for its moment. There seems to be similar high level Nazi infiltration in many other countries.

We have to be careful what we wish for!

B, please do an article on the Nazi penetration of the German security services, Interior Ministry, Army, CDU etc, and links to the NSU affair, shredding of millions of documents by the Interior Ministry when demanded by the courts as evidence, links with the Board members and advisory board members of German big business especially Siemens and Deutche Bank and Bayer, etc.

Sasha , May 19, 2019 4:21:50 PM | 3
On how there is real danger with these wolves on sheepskin who only try to divide and conquer the working masses of the world, this old article by Ho Chi Minh on the importance of class conscience and the great labor of the University of the East in the former USSR to get workers of the world conscous and united in the common struggle. Also on the importance of having the right to vote:
Colonialism is a leech with two suckers, one of which sucks the metropolitan proletariat and the other that of the colonies. If we want to kill this monster, we must cut off both suckers at the same time. If only one is cut off, the other will continue to suck the blood of the proletariat, the animal will continue to live, and the cut–off sucker will grow again. The Russian Revolution has grasped this truth clearly. That is why it is not satisfied with making fine platonic speeches and drafting "humanitarian" resolutions in favor of oppressed peoples, but it teaches them to struggle; and helps them spiritually, as proclaimed by Lenin in his theses on the colonial question. To the Baku Congress, twenty–one Eastern nations sent delegates. Representatives of Western workers' parties also participated in the work of this congress. For the first time, the proletariat of the conquering Western States and that of the subject Eastern countries fraternally joined hands and deliberated in common on the best means to defeat their common enemy, imperialism .

Following this historic congress, despite internal and external difficulties, revolutionary Russia has never hesitated to come to the help of peoples awakened by its heroic and victorious revolution. One of its first important acts was the founding of the University of the East.(...)

The sixty–two nationalities represented at the University form a "Commune." Its chairman and functionaries are elected every three months by all the students.

A student delegate takes part in the economic and administrative management of the University. All must regularly and in turn work in the kitchen, the library, the club, etc. All "misdemeanors" and disputes are judged and settled by an elected tribunal in the presence of all comrades. Once a week, the "Commune" holds a meeting to discuss the international political and economic situation. From time to time, meetings and evening parties are organized where the amateur artists introduce the art and culture of their country.

The fact that the Communists not only treat the "inferior natives of the colonies" like brothers, but that they get them to participate in the political life of the country, is highly characteristic of the "barbarity" of the Bolsheviks. Treated in their native country as "submissive subjects" or "protéges," having no other right but that to pay taxes, the Eastern students, who are neither electors nor eligible for election in their own country, from whom the right to express their political opinion is withdrawn, in the Soviet Union take part in the election of the Soviets and have the right to send their representatives to the Soviets. Let our brothers of the colonies who vainly seek a change of nationality make a comparison between bourgeois democracy and proletarian democracy.

These students have suffered themselves and have witnessed the sufferings of others. All have lived under the yoke of "high civilization," all have been victims of exploitation and oppression by foreign capitalists . Moreover, they passionately long to acquire knowledge and to study. They are serious and full of enthusiasm. They are entirely different from the frequenters of the boulevards of the Latin Quarter, the Eastern students in Paris, Oxford, and Berlin. It can be said without exaggeration that under the roof of this University is the future of the colonial peoples.

The colonial countries of the Near and Far East, stretching from Syria to Korea, cover an extent of more than 15 million square kilometers and have more than 1,200 million inhabitants. All these immense countries are now under the yoke of capitalism and imperialism. Although their considerable numbers should be their strength, these submissive peoples have never yet made any serious attempts to free themselves from this yoke. Not yet having realized the value of international solidarity, they have not known how to unite for the struggle. Relationships between their countries are not yet established as they are among the peoples of Europe and America. They possess gigantic strength and do not yet realize it. The University of the East, assembling all the young, active, and intelligent leaders of the colonized countries, has fulfilled a great task, namely:

-It teaches to the future vanguard militants the principles of class struggle, confused in their minds by race conflicts and patriarchal customs.
-It establishes between the proletarian vanguard of the colonies a close contact with the Western proletariat, thus preparing the way for the close and effective cooperation which will alone ensure the final victory of the international working class.
-It teaches the colonized people, hitherto separated from one another, to know one another and to unite, by creating the bases of a future union of Eastern countries, one of the wings of the proletarian revolution.
-It sets the proletariat of colonialist countries and example of what they can and must do in favor of their oppressed brothers
.

This is why it is needed to throw the workers from the West against the migrants from the East and South, to avoid the invincible force they would constitute together. This dirty work is made by the far-right in the name of corporate liberal elites. They can play that they fight each other, but as soon as they get seats at the European Parliament, you will find the previous allegedly opponents all together aligned in the same Eurogroup. Time to time.

Bacchante , May 19, 2019 4:38:44 PM | 4
It is a wonder Strache's remark "Journalists are the biggest whores on the planet" and how he says he can subvert an entire media outlet to his political agenda by even firing the few remaining fringe elements. Yet here we can still talk about he was drunk, how his being set up was unjust, and how the poor guy will have to miss his lovers' right cause in Italy. Those vulgar masses are at it again! There can be no justification about the masses' support of far-right causes and the clowns like him. If you think otherwise it is the likes of moonofalabama next in line to be "fired", or eliminated. Legitimize their causes and it is Germany in 1920s all over again.

Two wrongs do not make a right, unfortunately.

Walter , May 19, 2019 4:56:04 PM | 5
"Left/right", I agree, is nearly without semantic value. Nevertheless class interests remain...how is it that this is so? Think about that, comrades.

And then consider wsws report about "At the annual meeting of the Bundeswehr reserve in autumn 2016, Veith announced: "I dream that in 2026 there will be a provincial regiment in each state with a charismatic commander, a troop flag and an organization of between 800 and 2,000 reservists to support the police and the Bundeswehr in emergency situations." " see> "German government prepares troops for domestic missions" @ wsws.org

Considering the overall aspects, it's rational to expect all parties in Europe to make plans, is it not? Of course the working class is not permitted to make such plans...is it?

Pnyx , May 19, 2019 5:04:18 PM | 6
I don't think Strache is as harmless as you portray him, B. You fall for his defence strategy if you attribute all his statements to the influence of alcohol. At that time, the man was very confident that he would soon be at the levers of power, which then materialized. It remains to be proven whether he did not put into practice anything of what he talked about at that house in Ibiza. After all, he was talking about the by far most influential newspaper in Austria.

Of course it is true that it is the neoliberal globalisers who have brought us to where we stand today. But that doesn' make people like Strache and Salvini any less dangerous. If they rise to total power, the result will be a naked dictatorship. Strache was beaten with his own weapons, you don't have to be under any illusions.

I agree with you that this is not the big setback for the right the mainstream parties dream of. But it won't help the fascists in spe in the future either.

Adrian E. , May 19, 2019 5:25:25 PM | 7
Who could have ordered such an elaborate sting operation?

A first association might be the dirty, deceptive campaigning SPÖ used against Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) - the Silberstein affair -, but I think the methods that were chosen are too different to make a common source likely, Strache was targeted in a much more sophisticated way. The Silberstein affair may, however, be the reason why the tapes have partially been published now rather than before the last Austrian elections - at that time, dirty campaigning might have been discredited too much for the tape to have the desired effect,

The sophisticated operation using actors and a villa prepared with hidden cameras and microphones shows that this is hardly a normal case of dirty campaigning by political opponents. Most likely, either it was an action by a secret service or someone with deep pockets hired former secret agents.

If it was an action by secret services, the most plausible explanation seems to be that Western secret services targeted Strache because FPÖ is one of the parties who is in favor of restoring normal relations with Russia.

François Fillon comes to mind, a French conservative candidate who also had a quite a friendly attitude towards Russia - shortly before the elections, it was revealed (at least claimed) that Fillon had given his wife ficticious employment, and Fillon lost popularity, which helped Macron enormously.

Probably, some of the things Strache said during this sting operation were inacceptable, and Fillon may also not be innocent, but if there is a systematic selective targeting of European politicians who want to normalize relations with Russia by secret services, that would be a huge problem for democracy.

In the case of Strache and FPÖ, a different motive may also be plausible. There are connections between FPÖ and neonazis, and there are, in my view, legitimate concerns that Strache is too close to such far-right networks. I don't think it is good when right-wing populists whose rise is mainly due to the unpopularity of the neoliberal elites are equated with Nazis too quickly.

But in the case of FPÖ, this is less far-fetched than in the case of other European right-wing parties - historically, Nazis played an important role in FPÖ in post-war Austria, and it is one of the current right-wing parties that probably has more connections to the extreme right (e.g. via Burschenschaften) than others. I could imagine that someone might have ordered and financed the sting operation out of antifascist principles. While I may recognize the motivation as ethical and even partially agree with it, I don't think the right means were chosen, and such dirty methods can backfire.

Michael Droy , May 19, 2019 5:33:51 PM | 8
"While I consider myself to be a strong leftist who opposes the right wherever possible, I believe to understand why people vote for Strache's FBOe and similar parties"

Quite. It seems to me that only the Right and the Left have a clue right now, because they have an instinctive mistrust of what they are told in the media.
People like "b" and Craig Murray are to be thanked for explaining that to us middling voters.

You miss the most glaring "injustice". That which shows that GDP in most western countries had doubled in the last 30 odd years, that earnings for the top quartile have gone up by factors of 3 or 4. But that median earnings in US are unchanged, and in say UK are only up 10% or so (unless one is seeking to buy one's own house or flat).

All the improvements in inequality from 1930s to 1980s have been reversed in full. "Populists" (or better "anti-elitists") are driven mostly by sheer anger at how a small group had taken all the Economic gains of the last 35 years.

somebody , May 19, 2019 5:35:30 PM | 9
Posted by: Pnyx | May 19, 2019 5:04:18 PM | 26

I don't know what b. saw in the video what I saw was a discussion of an Orban like take over of Austria by FPÖ.

In other news people are arguing the following
- who will profit most - ÖVP
- why was the video not published after it was produced in 2017 - because ÖVP wanted a coalition with FPÖ
- why was it published now - ÖVP has been renting advertising space for weeks for an election in September (renting before the video came out), Sebastian Kurz will be the saviour who will get the disappointed FPÖ vote
add
- why the emphasis on Kronenzeitung,
who were the people producing the video
why Red Bull everywhere - Red Bull media empire billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz publicly announced that he would back Sebastian Kurz in 2017

ÖVP/Kurz/Mateschitz have moved so far to the right that there is not much space for FPÖ anyway. His problems will return when he needs another coalition.

brian , May 19, 2019 5:37:28 PM | 0
'The FPOe has good connections with United Russia, the party of the Russian President Putin, and to other right-wing parties in east Europe'

other?

Erelis , May 19, 2019 6:09:06 PM | 1
While the right wing parties in Europe don't have a problem with Putin, it does seem that much of the Western European establish has gone full McCarthyite hysterical where they see any contact for any reason with a Russian is automatically criminal. Aside from being a setup it relied the underlying false flag of presenting the woman as a Russian (and hence guility of some crime against the Austrians).

In fact, a suggestion for a column--personal impressions on whether everyday Europeans are falling for anti-Russian propaganda. Polls in the US indicate that Americans simply do not care (they could believe it, but not effecting their daily lives).

S , May 19, 2019 6:36:42 PM | 2
1. The ER (United Russia) party was founded by Sergey Shoygu, Yuriy Luzhkov, and Mintimer Shaymiev. Its chairman is Dmitriy Medvedev, not Vladimir Putin. Putin is not even a member of ER. Putin is the leader of ONF (All-Russia People's Front), which is a nation-wide discussion platform for politicians, professionals, and NGOs.

2. Russian billionaire Igor Makarov denies having a niece: "I was the only child in the family." ( Forbes.ru , in Russian).

3. In 2016, Joseph Mifsud invited George Papadopoulos to Rome and introduced him to "Putin's niece" with the intent of smearing Trump as "Russian puppet" and destroying his election chances. In 2017, someone (who?) invited Heinz-Christian Strache to Ibiza and introduced him to "Russian billionaire's niece" with the intent of smearing Strache as "Russian puppet" and destroying his party's election chances. Notice a pattern?

4. This is a clear case of Germany interfering in Austrian elections. Austria should deport 60 German diplomats, shut down German embassy in Vienna, and impose sanctions on Germany. Also put a German girl interested in Austrian politics in jail for 18 months.

Piotr Berman , May 19, 2019 6:37:32 PM | 3
Thinking about it, after revealing e-mail of HRC, Podesta etc. were published, their core supporters were enraged about the dirty trick and did not pay attention to the disclosed content, while for the core opponents of HRC she was already sufficiently vilified so the net change in voting intentions that can be attributed to that incident was modest.

Leaving aside the discussion of of various factors in that election, this public reaction is typical. Actually, in both cases the core supporters may be energized by the suspicion that this trick was performed by a foreign government. I do not think that there is a particular hostility toward Germany in Felix Austria, but the to the right wing Merkel government is like red cape for a bull. The women who unleashed a wave of refugees. On top of that, traditionally major parties of Austria gained reputation of dirty patronage, so the voters who care about that issue probably do not vote for them.

I do not expect Austrians to demand expulsions of German diplomats -- interference in our democracy -- or other sanctions, but nevertheless it stinks. Making sting operations on politicians has corrupt potential even if it is done by domestic law enforcement, but foreign intelligence services really do not have any excuse.

Thinking about it, the stings against George Papadopoulos described in his book were remarkably similar.

Piotr Berman , May 19, 2019 6:45:53 PM | 4
Great minds think alike, S!

That said, Austrians have a reputation of good manners etc., they will not unload their frustration on a girl. BTW, why there are suspicions of Germany being involved? Again, even extremist Austrians probably would like to have some proof before doing anything. I guess, America is indeed exceptional.

Uncoy , May 19, 2019 6:49:33 PM | 5
For all those of you whining about the corruption of Strache, this is how business and politics is done in Austria. Strache was just talking about the FPÖ's fair share after an election which they would win.

This all starts with Austrian's Presidential Election of 2016. The FPÖ won the presidential election a couple of years ago in May 2016. After the bell, postal votes overturned it! – postal votes more than 90% in favour of the establishment candidate Van der Bellen. Some constituencies full of Van der Bellen votes turned out to have 148% turn out. There was a court case by the FPÖ about procedure and hinting at ballot falsification. The case was judged by a (non-corrupt but under serious pressure) judge to have enough merit that the elections had to be annulled and the election rerun six months later . Austria went without a president at all for six months!

For six months the mainstream Austrian media campaigned non-stop against the FPÖ and Norbert Hofer. Huge efforts were made for voter turnout (it included huge bussing of potential anti-FPÖ constituencies and bribing pensioners to vote against the FPÖ via parties and cakes). With all of that, Van der Bellen scraped in on 4 December 2016, by 348,231 votes. Despite the non-stop anti-FPÖ propaganda and banging on drums, votes for Hofer's fell by less than 100,000 (95,993 votes to be exact). It's just that with six months to prepare the establishment had found enough "dead souls" to win the second round.

In the parliamentary elections of 15 October 2017, the FPÖ were set to win a strong majority in parliament. To defeat the FPÖ and Strache, the conservatives (Völkspartei) were forced to elect a male model non-university graduate 30 year old sex symbol with no work experience outside of politics as party leader. Of course Sebastian Kurz was mainly a figurehead for establishment figures in the venerable Völkspartei. Kurz does have a mind of his own though (I had the opportunity to interact with him personally at a local political discussion group in 2015) and it's hard to know exactly how much of his policy is dictated to him and how much is off his own bat.

Going back to Austrian corruption, there are enormous sums at stake. There is a long entrenched system of corruption in the establishment parties, the Völkspartei and the SPÖ. Strabag does win most of the government contracts. Favour is regularly granted on quid pro basis. The media landscape is very partisan and mostly for sale. Kurz's spiritual predecessor as a powerful head of the Völkspartei if not direct predecessor Wolfgang Schüssel was forced to retire from politics in 2011 due to never-ending corruption scandals. Schüssel's longstanding finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser was caught carrying bags of cash to Lichtenstein and is still under investigation. If his mother-in-law were not the richest woman in Austria (Swarovski Crystal) and devoted to her daughter (Grasser's wife), he would long ago have been in jail.

Politically, Grasser knows where a lot of the bodies are buried from the Schlüssel political machine so either he has to be kept out of jail or he may take others down with him. In elite Austrian circles turning informant would be considered unsportsmanlike so there's an uneasy truce still fought to this day in the courts where Grasser is kept out of jail via procedural methods (detect a pattern) and Grasser doesn't rat out the others.

Strache's sin is not planning to use the advantages which accrue to the governing Austrian party but getting caught out talking about it. Strache is something of a lout, not terribly loyal (he was the Brutus who threw Jörg Haider under the bus in 2005 in a palace putsch). He's a smoker in power who used his power to overturn some very positive anti-smoking laws. But he's less corrupt than any of his equivalents in the Völkspartei and is only a nose ahead of the his equivalents in the SPÖ. His politics and policies of Austria for Austrians are pretty simple. Hence people vote for these policies.

Here's a sample of the SPÖ's wares in the 2010 Vienna elections:

The FPÖ has historically been weakest in Vienna but in 2010 they took 27% of the vote in this SPÖ stronghold, their first step in what has been a steady march to power.

Anyone who does not directly have his or her family's nose in the EU trough at this point knows that the policies espoused by transatlantic puppets like Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron push our countries and our continent towards self-destruction. Life in Europe, post-1968 and pre-2013, has been pretty damn good. There's absolutely no good reason for us to rip up our traditions or turn into a continent of immigrants and mobile job seekers. We instinctively abhor what is happening to our nations. By nature Strache is inclined this way himself (he's no great thinker) and has the good sense to ride the wave.

somebody , May 19, 2019 7:11:44 PM | 6
Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 19, 2019 6:45:53 PM | 34

As Strache explains in the video, Austrian dirty tricks are done "via another country".

somebody , May 19, 2019 7:21:16 PM | 7
For all those of you whining about the corruption of Strache, this is how business and politics is done in Austria. Strache was just talking about the FPÖ's fair share after an election which they would win.

So why did he step down?

Here's a sample of the SPÖ's wares in the 2010 Vienna elections:

You mean FPÖ wares .

Hoarsewhisperer , May 19, 2019 7:29:57 PM | 8
...
"This stand-offish sentence in the Spiegel story about Strache's party demonstrates the problem:"

In the last election, the party drew significant support from the working class, in part because of his ability to simplify even the most complicated of issues and play the common man, even in his role as vice chancellor.

"The implicit thesis, that the working class is too dumb to understand the "most complicated of issues", is not only incredibly snobbish but utterly false..."

I can't agree that Spiegel's attitude to Strache's party is condescending toward the working class. Right-wing parties tend to spout a lot of aggressively authoritarian spin tank bullshit to encourage voters to tune out when a R-w politician is telling them what to think. If Strache is adept at separating fact from fiction and superfluous verbiage, then people would appreciate his candor.

In a Democracy, and in theory at least, politicians are supposed to represent and defend the views of the people who voted for them, not vested intere$t$. Or so we've been led to believe...

I'll always remember Spiegel as the folks whose photo-journalists torpedoed Crooked Hillary's feeble-minded Cheonan (NK-SK) bullshit. That story vanished overnight. It's not even referred to in NK smear campaigns. Dead & buried.

somebody , May 19, 2019 8:15:54 PM | 9
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 19, 2019 7:29:57 PM | 38

In a Democracy, and in theory at least, politicians are supposed to represent and defend the views of the people who voted for them, not vested intere$t$. Or so we've been led to believe...

You are making this theory up.

Let's take the American constitution .

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

That's it.

The German constitution is absolutely clear that members of parliament represent all of the people (ie different views and interests) and are bound by their own judgement and conscience only.

As we are discussing Austria, lets see what the Austrian constitution says. Austria has "linguistic and cultural diversity" and the protection of its grown native peoples in its constitution, this means Slovenian, Croatian, Czech, Slovakian, Roma and Hungarian. So the Austrian constitution has a concept of a multinational state where different peoples grow and are protected even if the Viennese "Stammtisch" does not like them.

There is no "democratic theory" that suggests representatives should follow the uninformed and prejudiced views of their electorate against their better judgement.

Strache seems to have specialized in "fake news" - ie mostly invented stuff claiming Muslims, immigrants or whoever were treated in a better way than native Austrians or threatened native Austrians.

It is a very convenient technique when you plan to cut social services, you have someone to blame.

Piotr Berman , May 19, 2019 9:05:45 PM | 0
To those who fill that politics of Strache are obnoxious and that justifies entrapment, remembers that methods of that type are not improvised, and that means that there is an apparatus that does it. We noted similarities with provocations against George Papadopoulos. In the latter case the target was cautious, after all, we had to be well aware of such methods. But anyone who is despised by NATO establishment are similar group can be on the receiving end, think about Assange.

[May 19, 2019] Household debt hits $13.6T

[Video]
May 19, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

For the 19th consecutive quarter, household debt increased to $13.67 trillion, according to a new report from the New York Fed. Yahoo Finance's Aarthi Swaminathan joins The Final Round to discuss.

[May 19, 2019] Some Shocking Facts on the Concentration of Ownership of the US Economy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction. ..."
"... In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). ..."
"... In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies. ..."
"... A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2). ..."
"... Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4). ..."
May 19, 2019 | russia-insider.com

A close-knit oligarchy controls all major corporations. Monopolization of ownership in US economy fast approaching Soviet levels

Starting with Ronald Reagan's presidency, the US government willingly decided to ignore the anti-trust laws so that corporations would have free rein to set up monopolies. With each successive president the monopolistic concentration of business and shareholding in America has grown precipitously eventually to reach the monstrous levels of the present day.

Today's level of monopolistic concentration is of such unprecedented levels that we may without hesitation designate the US economy as a giant oligopoly. From economic power follows political power, therefore the economic oligopoly translates into a political oligarchy. (It seems, though, that the transformation has rather gone the other way around, a ferocious set of oligarchs have consolidated their economic and political power beginning from the turn of the twentieth century). The conclusion that the US is an oligarchy finds support in a 2014 by a Princeton University study.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has not seen these levels of concentration of ownership. The Soviet Union did not die because of apparent ideological reasons but due to economic bankruptcy caused by its uncompetitive monopolistic economy. Our verdict is that the US is heading in the same direction.

In a later report, we will demonstrate how all sectors of the US economy have fallen prey to monopolization and how the corporate oligopoly has been set up across the country. This post essentially serves as an appendix to that future report by providing the shocking details of the concentration of corporate ownership.

Apart from illustrating the monopolization at the level of shareholding of the major investors and corporations, we will in a follow-up post take a somewhat closer look at one particularly fatal aspect of this phenomenon, namely the consolidation of media (posted simultaneously with the present one) in the hands of absurdly few oligarch corporations. In there, we will discuss the monopolies of the tech giants and their ownership concentration together with the traditional media because they rightfully belong to the same category directly restricting speech and the distribution of opinions in society.

In a future instalment of this report, we will show that the oligarchization of America – the placing it under the rule of the One Percent (or perhaps more accurately the 0.1%, if not 0.01%) - has been a deliberate ideologically driven long-term project to establish absolute economic power over the US and its political system and further extend that to involve an absolute global hegemony (the latter project thankfully thwarted by China and Russia). To achieve these goals, it has been crucial for the oligarchs to control and direct the narrative on economy and war, on all public discourse on social affairs. By seizing the media, the oligarchs have created a monstrous propaganda machine, which controls the opinions of the majority of the US population.

We use the words 'monopoly,' 'monopolies,' and 'monopolization' in a broad sense and subsume under these concepts all kinds of market dominance be it by one company or two or a small number of companies, that is, oligopolies. At the end of the analysis, it is not of great importance how many corporations share in the market dominance, rather what counts is the death of competition and the position enabling market abuse, either through absolute dominance, collusion, or by a de facto extinction of normal market competition. Therefore we use the term 'monopolization' to describe the process of reaching a critical level of non-competition on a market. Correspondingly, we may denote 'monopoly companies' two corporations of a duopoly or several of an oligopoly.

Horizontal shareholding – the cementation of the oligarchy

One especially perfidious aspect of this concentration of ownership is that the same few institutional investors have acquired undisputable control of the leading corporations in practically all the most important sectors of industry. The situation when one or several investors own controlling or significant shares of the top corporations in a given industry (business sector) is referred to as horizontal shareholding . (*1). In present-day United States a few major investors – equity funds or private capital - are as a rule cross-owned by each other, forming investor oligopolies, which in turn own the business oligopolies.

A study has shown that among a sample of the 1,500 largest US firms (S&P 1500), the probability of one major shareholder holding significant shares in two competing firms had jumped to 90% in 2014, while having been just 16% in 1999. (*2).

Institutional investors like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and JP Morgan, now own 80% of all stock in S&P 500 listed companies. The Big Three investors - BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – alone constitute the largest shareholder in 88% of S&P 500 firms, which roughly correspond to America's 500 largest corporations. (*3). Both BlackRock and Vanguard are among the top five shareholders of almost 70% of America's largest 2,000 publicly traded corporations. (*4).

Blackrock had as of 2016 $6.2 trillion worth of assets under management, Vanguard $5.1 trillion, whereas State Street has dropped to a distant third with only $1 trillion in assets. This compares with a total market capitalization of US stocks according to Russell 3000 of $30 trillion at end of 2017 (From 2016 to 2017, the Big Three has of course also put on assets).Blackrock and Vanguard would then alone own more than one-third of all US publicly listed shares.

From an expanded sample that includes the 3,000 largest publicly listed corporations (Russell 3000 index), institutions owned (2016) about 78% of the equity .

The speed of concentration the US economy in the hands of institutions has been incredible. Still back in 1950s, their share of the equity was 10%, by 1980 it was 30% after which the concentration has rapidly grown to the present day approximately 80%. (*5). Another study puts the present (2016) stock market capitalization held by institutional investors at 70%. (*6). (The slight difference can possibly be explained by variations in the samples of companies included).

As a result of taking into account the common ownership at investor level, it emerges that the US economy is yet much more monopolized than it was previously thought when the focus had been on the operational business corporation alone detached from their owners. (*7).

The Oligarch owners assert their control

Apologists for monopolies have argued that the institutional investors who manage passive capital are passive in their own conduct as shareholders as well. (*8). Even if that would be true it would come with vastly detrimental consequences for the economy as that would mean that in effect there would be no shareholder control at all and the corporate executives would manage the companies exclusively with their own short-term benefits in mind, inevitably leading to corruption and the loss of the common benefits businesses on a normally functioning competitive market would bring.

In fact, there seems to have been a period in the US economy – before the rapid monopolization of the last decade -when such passive investors had relinquished control to the executives. (*9). But with the emergence of the Big Three investors and the astonishing concentration of ownership that does not seem to hold water any longer. (*10). In fact, there need not be any speculation about the matter as the monopolist owners are quite candid about their ways. For example, BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink sends out an annual guiding letter to his subject, practically to all the largest firms of the US and increasingly also Europe and the rest of the West. In his pastoral, the CEO shares his view of the global conditions affecting business prospects and calls for companies to adjust their strategies accordingly.

The investor will eventually review the management's strategic plans for compliance with the guidelines. Effectively, the BlackRock CEO has in this way assumed the role of a giant central planner, rather like the Gosplan, the central planning agency of the Soviet command economy.

The 2019 letter (referenced above) contains this striking passage, which should quell all doubts about the extent to which BlackRock exercises its powers:

"As we seek to build long-term value for our clients through engagement, our aim is not to micromanage a company's operations. Instead, our primary focus is to ensure board accountability for creating long-term value. However, a long-term approach should not be confused with an infinitely patient one. When BlackRock does not see progress despite ongoing engagement, or companies are insufficiently responsive to our efforts to protect our clients' long-term economic interests, we do not hesitate to exercise our right to vote against incumbent directors or misaligned executive compensation."

Considering the striking facts rendered above, we should bear in mind that the establishment of this virtually absolute oligarch ownership over all the largest corporations of the United States is a relatively new phenomenon. We should therefore expect that the centralized control and centralized planning will rapidly grow in extent as the power is asserted and methods are refined.

Most of the capital of those institutional investors consists of so-called passive capital, that is, such cases of investments where the investor has no intention of trying to achieve any kind of control of the companies it invests in, the only motivation being to achieve as high as possible a yield. In the overwhelming majority of the cases the funds flow into the major institutional investors, which invest the money at their will in any corporations. The original investors do not retain any control of the institutional investors, and do not expect it either. Technically the institutional investors like BlackRock and Vanguard act as fiduciary asset managers. But here's the rub, while the people who commit their assets to the funds may be considered as passive investors, the institutional investors who employ those funds are most certainly not.

Cross-ownership of oligarch corporations

To make matters yet worse, it must be kept in mind that the oligopolistic investors in turn are frequently cross-owned by each other. (*11). In fact, there is no transparent way of discovering who in fact controls the major institutional investors.

One of the major institutional investors, Vanguard is ghost owned insofar as it does not have any owners at all in the traditional sense of the concept. The company claims that it is owned by the multiple funds that it has itself set up and which it manages. This is how the company puts it on their home page : "At Vanguard, there are no outside owners, and therefore, no conflicting loyalties. The company is owned by its funds, which in turn are owned by their shareholders -- including you, if you're a Vanguard fund investor." At the end of the analysis, it would then seem that Vanguard is owned by Vanguard itself, certainly nobody should swallow the charade that those funds stuffed with passive investor money would exercise any ownership control over the superstructure Vanguard. We therefore assume that there is some group of people (other than the company directors) that have retained the actual control of Vanguard behind the scenes (perhaps through one or a few of the funds). In fact, we believe that all three (BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) are tightly controlled by a group of US oligarchs (or more widely transatlantic oligarchs), who prefer not to brandish their power. It is beyond the scope of this study and our means to investigate this hypothesis, but whatever, it is bad enough that as a proven fact these three investor corporations wield this control over most of the American economy. We also know that the three act in concert wherever they hold shares. (*12).

Now, let's see who are the formal owners of these institutional investors

In considering these ownership charts, please, bear in mind that we have not consistently examined to what degree the real control of one or another company has been arranged through a scheme of issuing different classes of shares, where a special class of shares give vastly more voting rights than the ordinary shares. One source asserts that 355 of the companies in the Russell index consisting of the 3000 largest corporations employ such a dual voting-class structure, or 11.8% of all major corporations.

We have mostly relied on www.stockzoa.com for the shareholder data. However, this and other sources tend to list only the so-called institutional investors while omitting corporate insiders and other individuals. (We have no idea why such strange practice is employed

[May 19, 2019] The OPCW, Douma, The Skripals

Notable quotes:
"... The neocon faction in the US is usually (and reasonably) regarded as the motivator behind much of the western aggression in the Middle East. ..."
"... Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma "initiative" is a continuation of their longterm policy. It's also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense. ..."
"... A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time. ..."
"... The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation. ..."
"... The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences were cricket chirps tell us all we need to know. ..."
"... The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect. ..."
"... Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, a "novichok" (whatever that precisely means in this case) may not have been the only substance found in those samples, and a compound called "BZ", a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America, has been discovered and suppressed in the OPCW report (more about that later). ..."
"... The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn't want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all. ..."
"... She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has "specially trained officers helping to take care of" her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it's hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day. ..."
"... If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that's been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East. ..."
"... So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, or a fake event, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility? ..."
"... This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen (as claimed by Russia) even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma "attack" seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. The UK needed the second part to happen in order to distract from the first. ..."
"... If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and "responded" to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law. Worst of all, if the Russians aren't bluffing, they have some evidence to prove some of the most egregious parts of this. ..."
"... But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval. ..."
"... The UK were the most vocal about Syria, and desperately tried to drum up support over Skripal, but it all came to nothing much in the end. ..."
"... Theresa May's political career still hangs by a thread, and her "Falklands moment", at best, staved off the inevitable for a few months. A washout in the EU elections, a very real threat from Farage's Brexit party, and rumblings inside her own party, make her position as unstable as ever. ..."
"... In the US, generally speaking, it seems that the Trump admin – or at least whichever interested parties currently have control of the wheels of government – have called time on war in Syria. Instead, they've moved on to projects in Venezuela and North Korea, and even war with Iran. ..."
"... The failure of the Douma false flag to cause the war it was meant to cause, and the vast collection of evidence that suggests it was a false flag, should be spread far and wide. Not just because it's a truth which vindicates the smeared minority in the alternate media. ..."
May 19, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Via Off-Guardian.org,

In view of the latest revelations from the leaked report, which seem to prove that at least some elements of the Douma "chemical attack" were entirely staged, we want to take look back at the chaotic events of Spring 2018.

The following is an extract from an article by Catte originally published April 14th last year, which takes on a greater weight in light of certain evidence – not only that the Douma attack was faked, but that the OPCW is compromised.

You can read the whole article here .

* * *

PRIMARILY UK INITIATIVE?

The neocon faction in the US is usually (and reasonably) regarded as the motivator behind much of the western aggression in the Middle East.

Since at least 2001 and the launch of the "War on Terror" the US has led the way in finding or creating facile excuses to fight oil wars and hegemonic wars and proxy wars in the region. But this time the dynamics look a little different.

This time it really looks as if the UK has been setting the pace of the "response".

The fact (as stated above) that Mattis was apparently telegraphing his own private doubts a)about the verifiability of the attacks, and b)about the dangers of a military response suggests he was a far from enthusiastic partaker in this adventure.

Trump's attitude is harder to gauge. His tweets veered wildly between unhinged threats and apparent efforts at conciliation. But he must have known he would lose (and seemingly has lost) a great part of his natural voter base (who elected him on a no-more-war mandate) by an act of open aggression that threatened confrontation with Russia on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Granted the US has been looking for excuses to intervene ever more overtly in Syria since 2013, and in that sense this Douma "initiative" is a continuation of their longterm policy. It's also true Russia was warning just such a false flag would be attempted in early March. But in the intervening month the situation on the ground has changed so radically that such an attempt no longer made any sense.

A false flag in early March, while pockets of the US proxy army were still holding ground in Ghouta would have enabled a possible offensive in their support which would prevent Ghouta falling entirely into government hands and thereby also maintain the pressure on Damascus. A false flag in early April is all but useless because the US proxy army in the region was completely vanquished and nothing would be gained by an offensive in that place at that time.

You can see why Mattis and others in the administration might be reluctant to take part in the false flag/punitive air strike narrative if they saw nothing currently to be gained to repay the risk. They may have preferred to wait for developments and plan for a more productive way of playing the R2P card in the future.

The US media has been similarly, and uncharacteristically divided and apparently unsure. Tucker Carlson railed against the stupidity of attacking Syria. Commentators on MSNBC were also expressing intense scepticism of the US intent and fear about possible escalation.

The UK govt and media on the other hand has been much more homogeneous in advocating for action. No doubts of the type expressed by Mattis have been heard from the lips of an UK government minister. Even May, a cowardly PM, has been (under how much pressure?) voicing sterling certitude in public that action HAD to be taken.

Couple this with the – as yet unverified – claims by Russia of direct UK involvement in arranging the Douma "attack", and the claims by Syria that the perps are in their custody, and a tentative storyline emerges. It's possible this time there were other considerations in the mix beside the usual need to "be seen to do something" and Trump's perpetual requirement to appease the liberal Russiagaters and lunatic warmongers at home. Maybe this time it was also about helping the UK out of a sticky problem.

THE SKRIPAL CONSIDERATION

Probably the only thing we can all broadly agree on about the Skripal narrative is that it manifestly did not go according to plan. However it was intended to play out, it wasn't this way. Since some time in mid to late March it's been clear the entire thing has become little more than an exercise in damage-limitation, leak-plugging and general containment.

The official story is a hot mess of proven falsehoods, contradictions, implausible conspiracy theories, more falsehoods and inexplicable silences were cricket chirps tell us all we need to know.

The UK government has lied and evaded on every key aspect.

  1. It lied again and again about the information Porton Down had given it
  2. Its lawyers all but lied to Mr Justice Robinson about whether or not the Skripals had relatives in Russia in an unscrupulous attempt to maintain total control of them, or at least of the narrative.
  3. It is not publishing the OPCW report on the chemical analyses, and the summary of that report reads like an exercise in allusion and weasel-wording. Even the name of the "toxic substance" found in the Skripals' blood is omitted, and the only thing tying it to the UK government's public claims of "novichok" is association by inference and proximity.

Indeed if current claims by Russian FM Lavrov turn out to be true, a "novichok" (whatever that precisely means in this case) may not have been the only substance found in those samples, and a compound called "BZ", a non-lethal agent developed in Europe and America, has been discovered and suppressed in the OPCW report (more about that later).

None of the alleged victims of this alleged attack has been seen in public even in passing since the event. There is no film or photographs of DS Bailey leaving the hospital, no film or photographs of his wife or family members doing the same. No interviews with Bailey, no interviews with his wife, family, distant relatives, work colleagues.

The Skripals themselves were announced to be alive and out of danger mere days after claims they were all but certain to die. Yulia, soon thereafter, apparently called her cousin Viktoria only to subsequently announce, indirectly through the helpful agency of the Metropolitan Police, that she didn't want to talk to her cousin – or anyone else – at all.

She is now allegedly discharged from hospital and has "specially trained officers helping to take care of" her in an undisclosed location. A form or words so creepily sinister it's hard to imagine how they were ever permitted the light of day.

Very little of this bizarre, self-defeating, embarrassing, hysterical story makes any sense other than as a random narrative, snaking wildly in response to events the narrative-makers can't completely control.

Why? What went wrong? Why has the UK government got itself into this mess? And how much did the Douma "gas attack" and subsequent drive for a concerted western "response" have to do with trying to fix that?

IS THIS WHAT HAPPENED?

If a false flag chemical attack had taken place in Syria at the time Russia predicted, just a week or two after the Skripal poisoning, a lot of the attention that's been paid to the Skripals over the last month would likely have been diverted. Many of the questions being asked by Russia and in the alt media may never have been asked as the focus of the world turned to a possible superpower stand-off in the Middle East.

So, could it be the Skripal event was never intended to last so long in the public eye? Could it be that it was indeed a false flag, or a fake event, as many have alleged, planned as a sketchy prelude to, or warm up act for a bigger chemical attack in Syria, scheduled for a week or so later in mid-March – just around the time Russia was warning of such a possibility?

Could it be this planned event was unexpectedly canceled by the leading players in the drama (the US) when the Russians called them out and the rapid and unexpected fall of Ghouta meant any such intervention became pointless at least for the moment?

Did this cancelation leave the UK swinging in the wind, with a fantastical story that was never intended to withstand close scrutiny, and no second act for distraction?

So, did they push on with the now virtually useless "chemical attack", botch it (again), leaving a clear evidence trail leading back to them? Did they then further insist on an allied "response" to their botched false flag in order to provide yet more distraction and hopefully destroy some of that evidence?

This would explain why the UK may have been pushing for the false flag to happen (as claimed by Russia) even after it could no longer serve much useful purpose on the ground, and why the Douma "attack" seems to have been so sketchily done by a gang on the run. The UK needed the second part to happen in order to distract from the first.

It would explain why the US has been less than enthused by the idea of reprisals. Because while killing Syrians to further geo-strategic interests is not a problem, killing Syrians (and risking escalation with Russia) in order to rescue an embarrassed UK government is less appealing.

And it would explain why the "reprisals" when they came were so half-hearted.

If this is true, Theresa May and her cabinet are currently way out on a limb even by cynical UK standards. Not only have they lied about the Skripal event, but in order to cover up that lie they have promoted a false flag in Syria, and "responded" to it by a flagrant breach of international and domestic law. Worst of all, if the Russians aren't bluffing, they have some evidence to prove some of the most egregious parts of this.

This is very bad.

But even if some or all of our speculation proves false, and even if the Russian claims of UK collusion with terrorists in Syria prove unfounded, May is still guilty of multiple lies and has still waged war without parliamentary approval.

This is a major issue. She and her government should resign. But it's unlikely that will happen.

So what next? There is a sense this is a watershed for many of the parties involved and for the citizens of the countries drawn into this.

Will the usual suspects try to avoid paying for their crimes and misadventures by more rhetoric, more false flags, more "reprisals"? Or will this signal some other change in direction?

We'll all know soon enough.

* * *

Back to today...

...and while things have moved on, we're still puzzling over all the same issues.

All these questions stand, and are important, but more important than all of that is the lesson: They tried it before, and just because it didn't work doesn't mean they won't try it again.

Last spring, the Western powers showed they will deploy a false flag if they need too, for domestic or international motives. And they have the motives right now.

The UK were the most vocal about Syria, and desperately tried to drum up support over Skripal, but it all came to nothing much in the end.

Theresa May's political career still hangs by a thread, and her "Falklands moment", at best, staved off the inevitable for a few months. A washout in the EU elections, a very real threat from Farage's Brexit party, and rumblings inside her own party, make her position as unstable as ever.

Britain had the most to gain, of all NATO countries, and that is still true. We don't know what they might do.

This time they might even receive greater support from France this time around – since Macron is facing a revolution at home and would kill (possibly literally) for a nice international distraction.

In the US, generally speaking, it seems that the Trump admin – or at least whichever interested parties currently have control of the wheels of government – have called time on war in Syria. Instead, they've moved on to projects in Venezuela and North Korea, and even war with Iran.

That's not to say Syria is safe, far from it. They are always just one carefully place false-flag away from all-out war. Last year, Mattis (or whoever) decided war with Syria was not an option – that it was too risky or complicated. That might not happen next time.

Clearly, the US hasn't totally seen sense in terms of stoking conflict with Russia – as seen by the decision to pull out of the INF Treaty late last year. And further demonstrated by their attempts to overthrow Russia's ally Nicolas Maduro. Another ripe candidate for a false flag.

The failure of the Douma false flag to cause the war it was meant to cause, and the vast collection of evidence that suggests it was a false flag, should be spread far and wide. Not just because it's a truth which vindicates the smeared minority in the alternate media.

But because recognising what they were trying to do last time , is the best defense when they try it again next time .

[May 18, 2019] If Washington were able to control everything, including "Big Prize" Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, "decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington."

May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , May 18, 2019 2:15:40 AM | link

Without the oil, Trump has lost. Pepe Escobar is starting to get the picture

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/05/17/the-dead-dont-die-they-march-to-war/

"If President Trump had ever read Mackinder -- and there's no evidence he did -- one might assume that he's aiming at a new anti-Eurasia integration pivot centered on the Persian Gulf. And energy would be at the heart of the pivot.

If Washington were able to control everything, including "Big Prize" Iran, it would be able to dominate all Asian economies, especially China. Trump even said were that to happen, "decisions on the GNP of China will be made in Washington."...

...Arguably the key (invisible) takeaway of the meetings this week between Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi, and then between Lavrov and Pompeo, is that Moscow made it quite clear that Iran will be protected by Russia in the event of an American showdown. Pompeo's body language showed how rattled he was.

What rattled Pomp: "Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, be it small-scale, medium-scale or any other scale, will be treated as a nuclear attack on our country. The response will be instant and with all the relevant consequences,"

Trump may not have read Mackinder but Kissinger sure would have.

[May 16, 2019] Boom in Dodgy Wall Street Deals Points to Market Trouble Ahead

May 16, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

The fourth-quarter stock market rout that wiped out $12 trillion in shareholder value and sparked a bout of Christmas Eve panic may have quickly been forgotten by most Americans, but not by the salespeople and financial engineers of Wall Street.

No, the selloff, it would appear, wound up triggering fears that time was running out on the longest bull market in history. And so, when early 2019 delivered a miraculous rebound, they wasted no time in peddling all sorts of deals and arrangements that test the limits of risk tolerance: from health-food makers fast-tracked into public hands to stretched retailers wrung for billions by private equity owners in the debt market.

Junk bonds are flying out the door once again. Deeply indebted companies are borrowing even more to pay equity holders . And while you can't say the megadeal IPOs got rushed to market, two that were held up as heralding a return to IPO glory days have been flops. It's quickly turning Uber and Lyft into poster children for Wall Street eagerness amid an equity-market bounce that has all but banished memories of the worst fourth quarter in a decade.

"At some point, people are going to get burned," said Marshall Front, the chief investment officer at Front Barnett Associates and 56-year Wall Street veteran. "People want to take their companies public because they don't know what the next years hold, and there are people who think we're close to the end of the cycle. If you're an investment banker, what do you do? You keep dancing until the music stops."

[May 16, 2019] I have never seen such transparently obvious bullshit from UK elite befores"

May 16, 2019 | www.unz.com

Tsigantes , says: May 9, 2019 at 5:14 pm GMT

@MarkU Bravo!

As to their "cleverness", there was a time when UK politicians were known for their slippery qualities and subtlety, but those days are long gone. What we have now is barefaced lies, relying purely on repetition and monolithic corporate media ownership. They are not winning arguments because they are clever, I have never seen such transparently obvious bullshit before.

'Clever is as clever does' – once said with a snort – is a compliment too far for the deeply corrupted, vulgar, mediocre nobodies who comprise the self-styled 'elites'. In this group 'cleverness' simply means the lies they are paid to say repeated loudly and often. And because they have the reins on power, the non-compliant are punished by thugs.

[May 16, 2019] Global fossil fuel subsidies hit record $5.2 trillion

May 16, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Hightrekker

says: 05/15/2019 at 9:51 am

Global fossil fuel subsidies hit record $5.2 trillion –
https://desdemonadespair.net/2019/05/global-fossil-fuel-subsidies-hit-record-5-2-trillion.html

The Free Market in action.

[May 15, 2019] Tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs...

The key factor here is that the USA is a neoliberal state which means profits before people and outsourcing to area with lower labor cost. Like leopard can't change its spots, neoliberalism can't change it "free movement of goods and labor" principles, or it stop being neoliberalism.
No jobs will come back to the USA as financial oligarchy is transnational body that uses the USA military as an enforcer for their gang. It does not care one bit about the common people in the USA.
May 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Originally from: Pepe Escobar Warns Over US-China Tensions The Hardcore Is Yet To Come

... ... ...

Where are our jobs?

Pause on the sound and fury for necessary precision. Even if the Trump administration slaps 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, the IMF has projected that would trim just a meager slither – 0.55% – off China's GDP. And America is unlikely to profit, because the extra tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs to the US – something that Steve Jobs told Barack Obama eons ago.

What happens is that global supply chains will be redirected to economies that offer comparative advantages in relation to China, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. And this redirection is already happening anyway – including by Chinese companies.

BRI represents a massive geopolitical and financial investment by China, as well as its partners; over 130 states and territories have signed on. Beijing is using its immense pool of capital to make its own transition towards a consumer-based economy while advancing the necessary pan-Eurasian infrastructure development – with all those ports, high-speed rail, fiber optics, electrical grids expanding to most Global South latitudes.

The end result, up to 2049 – BRI's time span – will be the advent of an integrated market of no less than 4.5 billion people, by that time with access to a Chinese supply chain of high-tech exports as well as more prosaic consumer goods.

Anyone who has followed the nuts and bolts of the Chinese miracle launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in 1978 knows that Beijing is essentially exporting the mechanism that led China's own 800 million citizens to, in a flash, become members of a global middle class.

As much as the Trump administration may bet on "maximum pressure" to restrict or even block Chinese access to whole sectors of the US market, what really matters is BRI's advance will be able to generate multiple, extra US markets over the next two decades.

We don't do 'win-win'

There are no illusions in the Zhongnanhai, as there are no illusions in Tehran or in the Kremlin. These three top actors of Eurasian integration have exhaustively studied how Washington, in the 1990s, devastated Russia's post-USSR economy (until Putin engineered a recovery) and how Washington has been trying to utterly destroy Iran for four decades.

Beijing, as well as Moscow and Tehran, know everything there is to know about Hybrid War, which is an American intel concept. They know the ultimate strategic target of Hybrid War, whatever the tactics, is social chaos and regime change.

The case of Brazil – a BRICS member like China and Russia – was even more sophisticated: a Hybrid War initially crafted by NSA spying evolved into lawfare and regime change via the ballot box. But it ended with mission accomplished – Brazil has been reduced to the lowly status of an American neo-colony.

Let's remember an ancient mariner, the legendary Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng He, who for three decades, from 1405 to 1433, led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, reaching Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Mogadiscio, Mombasa, bringing tons of goods to trade (silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, iron tools, leather utensils).

That was the original Maritime Silk Road, progressing in parallel to Emperor Yong Le establishing a Pax Sinica in Asia – with no need for colonies and religious proselytism. But then the Ming dynasty retreated – and China was back to its agricultural vocation of looking at itself.

They won't make the same mistake again. Even knowing that the current hegemon does not do "win-win". Get ready for the real hardcore yet to come.


Tachyon5321 , 35 minutes ago link

The Swine fever is sweeping china hog farms and since the start of 2019 200+ millions hogs have been culled. Chinese hog production is down from 2016 high of 700 million to below 420 million by the end of the year. The fever is not under control.

Soybeans from Ukraine are unloaded at the port in Nantong, in eastern China. Imports of soy used to come from the US, but have slumped since the trade war began. Should point out that the Ukraine soy production matures at a different time of the year than the US soybean. The USA planting season starts in Late april, may and june. Because of the harvest time differences worldwide the USA supplies 80% of the late maturing soybeans needed by October/Nov and December.

A propaganda story by the Asian Times

BT , 46 minutes ago link

Orange Jesus just wants to be re-elected in 2020 and MIGA.

Son of Captain Nemo , 52 minutes ago link

Perhaps this is one of the "casualties" ( https://www.rt.com/news/459355-us-austria-embassy-mcdonalds/ ) of economic war given the significance of China and just how important it is to the U.S. in it's purchases of $USD to maintain the illusion of it's reserve currency status and "vigor"...

Surprised this didn't happen first at the U.S. Embassies in Russia and China?... Obviously Ronald McDonald has turned into a charity of sorts helping out Uncle $am in his ailing "health" these dayz!...

SUPER SIZE ME!... Cause I'm not lovin it anymore!... I'm needin it!!!!

joego1 , 52 minutes ago link

If Americans want to wear shoes they can make them or have a robot make them. Manufacturing can happen in the U.S. **** what Steve Jobs told Oblamy .

ElBarto , 1 hour ago link

I've never understood this "jobs aren't coming back" argument. Do you really think that it will stop tariffs? They're happening. Better start preparing.

ZakuKommander , 1 hour ago link

Oh, right, tariffs WILL bring back American jobs! Then why didn't the Administration impose them fully in 2017? Why negotiate at all; just impose all the tariffs!?! lol

Haboob , 1 hour ago link

Pepe is correct as usual. Even if America tariffs the world the jobs aren't coming back as corporations will be unable to turn profits in such a highly taxed country like America would be. What could happen however is America can form an internal free market again going isolationist with new home grown manufacturing.

Gonzogal , 41 minutes ago link

You VERY obviously have ZERO knowledge of Chinas history and its discoveries/inventions etc USED BY THE WEST.

I suggest that you keep your eyes open for "History Erased-China" on Y Tube. The series shows what would happen in todays world if countries and their contributions to the world did not happen.

here is a preview: https://youtu.be/b6PJxuheWfk

[May 15, 2019] If anything, the severity of the next Bear Market should be laid at the feet of the LONG period of "Quantitative Easing"

Notable quotes:
"... Trump is playing a high stakes game without any backup plan. Plus he has alienated our allies repeatedly. My guess is that many in the world would like to see the US taken down a peg or two. ..."
May 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Edward , May 13, 2019 at 5:28 pm

I'm a bit concerned that the stock market IS due for a crash. It is simply a fact that Bull and Bear markets inevitably alternate. If anything, the severity of the next Bear Market should be laid at the feet of the LONG period of "Quantitative Easing", but you can bet than when the next Bear Market does begin, it will unfairly be pinned on Trump. I think Trump understands all this and has tried to position the economy to best ride out the coming crash.
JeffK , , May 14, 2019 at 7:00 am
@Edward
May 13, 2019 at 5:28 pm

" you can bet than when the next Bear Market does begin, it will unfairly be pinned on Trump. I think Trump understands all this and has tried to position the economy to best ride out the coming crash."

And more than doubling the annual deficit by giving massive tax cuts to those that least need the money will have nothing to do with it? Starting a trade war with China will have nothing to do with it? Potentially clashing with Iran, with a subsequent stoppage of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, followed by $120/bbl oil will have nothing to do with it?

Trump is playing a high stakes game without any backup plan. Plus he has alienated our allies repeatedly. My guess is that many in the world would like to see the US taken down a peg or two.

But if anything goes wrong it will all be the Democrats fault. Life must be grand in Trumpland where mistakes and bad outcomes are always the fault of somebody else.

[May 14, 2019] Tesla Suddenly Catches Fire in Hong Kong Parking Lot, Times Says

May 14, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

The Tesla Model S had been been parked in San Po Kong Plaza for about half an hour on May 12 before the battery started emit to smoke and flames appeared, according to the report. There were sounds of explosions and firefighters took about 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze, the Economic Times reported.

It was the first fire of its kind in the city, the report said.

Tesla didn't have a comment on the matter, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the company said. Hong Kong's Fire Services Department is investigating the May 12 fire, a representative said, declining to identify the make of the car.

Last month, videos on social media showed a car bearing a Tesla logo in Shanghai emitting smoke before bursting into flames, while rival NIO Inc. said one of its ES8 electric vehicles caught fire in the north-west Chinese city of Xi'an while being repaired. Tesla and NIO said they were looking into the reports.

The incidents have fueled concern over the safety of EVs in China. In 2018, China recorded at least 40 fire-related incidents involving new-energy vehicles, a fleet that includes pure battery electric, hybrid plug-in and fuel-cell vehicles, according to the State Administration for Market Regulation.

[May 14, 2019] Employers say this is the most annoying characteristic of new grads

"Excessive zeal" is really a problem with people on their first job. But at the same the companies try to pressure new hires to do more.
Notable quotes:
"... "Patience is the one word I would tell [new grads] to think about and remember," Wolfe says. "You're not going to know everything walking in the door, especially if you've just graduated college. Really be a sponge and ask tons of questions." ..."
May 14, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

A new pack of college grads are gearing up to enter the job market -- this year, 1.9 million people will graduate with a bachelor's degree, and another 1 million will graduate with a master's or doctorate degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics .

Employers plan to hire 17% more graduates than in previous years, and with the unemployment rate at 3.6% , it's a great time to enter the job market. According to LinkedIn , Amazon , EY (Ernst and Young) , Price WaterHouse Coope r, Deloitte , and Lockheed Martin plan to hire the most new grads this year. Graduates are flocking toward professions like software engineer, registered nurse, salesperson, teacher and accountant, according to LinkedIn.

It's important to have your resume ready and your interview skills polished as you start the application process. It typically takes five months to find a job, according to a study by Ranstad Recruiting . But once you secure a position, it's important to prepare for the professional world by keeping your expectations in check, says Paul Wolfe , senior vice president at Indeed .

"Patience is the one word I would tell [new grads] to think about and remember," Wolfe says. "You're not going to know everything walking in the door, especially if you've just graduated college. Really be a sponge and ask tons of questions."

[May 14, 2019] 33 Ways to Get Higher Yields by John Waggoner

May 03, 2019 | www.kiplinger.com
For more than a decade, income investors have been plagued by paucity wrapped in misery. The bellwether 10-year Treasury note has doled out an average 2.6% interest since 2008. Although the Federal Reserve has nudged its target interest rate range to 2.25% to 2.50%, it has signaled that it's done raising rates for now. Even worse, the yield on the 10-year T-note briefly sank below the yield on the three-month T-bill -- an unusual inversion that can sometimes herald a recession and lower yields ahead. The takeaway: Locking your money up for longer periods is rarely worth the negligible increase in yield. What could increase your yield these days? Being a little more adventurous when it comes to credit quality. When you're a bond investor, you're also a lender, and borrowers with questionable credit must pay higher yields. Similarly, stocks with above-average yields probably have some skeletons in their balance sheets.

You can ameliorate credit risk -- but not eliminate it -- through diversification. Invest in a mutual fund, say, rather than a single issue. And invest in several different types of high-yielding investments -- for example, investment-grade bonds, preferred stocks and real estate investment trusts -- rather than just one category. Despite such caveats, income investing is not as bad as it was in 2015, when it was hard to milk even a penny's interest out of a money market. Now you can get 3.3% or more from no-risk certificates of deposit at a bank. We'll show you 33 ways to find the best yields for the risk you're willing to take, ranging from 2% all the way up to 12%. Just remember that the higher the payout, the greater the potential for some rough waters.

SEE ALSO: 20 of Wall Street's Newest Dividend Stocks Prices, yields and other data are as of April 19.

Check Out Kiplinger's Latest Online Broker Rankings

Short-term interest rates largely follow the Fed's interest rate policy. Most observers in 2018 thought that would mean higher rates in 2019. But slowing economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the near-death experience of the bull market in stocks changed that. The Fed's rate-hiking campaign is likely on hold for 2019. Still, money markets are good bets for money you can't stand to lose. Money market funds are mutual funds that invest in very-short-term, interest-bearing securities. They pay out what they earn, less expenses. A bank money market account's yield depends on the Fed's benchmark rate and the bank's need for deposits.

The risks: Money market mutual funds aren't insured, but they have a solid track record. The funds are designed to maintain a $1 share value; only two have allowed their shares to slip below $1 since 1994. The biggest risk with a bank money market deposit account is that your bank won't raise rates quickly when market interest rates rise but will be quick on the draw when rates fall. MMDAs are insured up to $250,000 by the federal government. How to invest: The best MMDA yields are from online banks, which don't have to pay to maintain brick-and-mortar branches. Currently, a top-yielding MMDA is from Investors eAccess , which is run by Investors Bank in New Jersey. The account has no minimum, has an annual percentage yield of 2.5% and allows six withdrawals per month. You'll get a bump from a short-term CD, provided you can keep your money locked up for a year. Merrick Bank , in Springfield, Mo., offers a one-year CD yielding 2.9%, with a $25,000 minimum. The early-withdrawal penalty is 2% of the account balance or seven days' interest, whichever is larger. The top five-year CD yield was recently 3.4%, from First National Bank of America in East Lansing, Mich.

SEE ALSO: 7 Best Ways to Earn More on Your Savings

Your primary concern in a money fund should be how much it charges in expenses. Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund (symbol VMMXX , yield 2.5%) charges an ultralow 0.16% a year and consistently sports above-average yields. Investors in high tax brackets might consider a tax-free money fund, whose interest is free from federal (and some state) income taxes, such as Vanguard Municipal Money Market Fund ( VMSXX 1.6%). To someone paying the maximum 40.8% federal tax rate, which includes the 3.8% net investment income tax, the fund has the equivalent of a 2.7% taxable yield. (To compute a muni's taxable-equivalent yield, subtract your tax bracket from 1, and divide the muni's yield by that. In this case, divide 1.6% by 1 minus 40.8%, or 59.2%). The fund's expense ratio is 0.15%.

SEE ALSO: 12 Bank Stocks That Wall Street Loves the Most //www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4908

Muni bonds are IOUs issued by states, municipalities and counties. At first glance, muni yields look as exciting as a month in traction. A 10-year, AAA-rated national muni yields 2.0%, on average, compared with 2.6% for a 10-year Treasury note. But the charm of a muni bond isn't its yield; it's that the interest is free from federal taxes -- and, if the bond is issued by the state where you live, from state and local taxes as well. As with tax-free money funds, investors should consider a muni fund's taxable equivalent yield; in the case above, it would be 3.4% for someone paying the top 40.8% federal rate.

Yields get better as you go down in credit quality. An A-rated 10-year muni -- two notches down from AAA but still good -- yields 2.3%, on average, or 3.9% for someone paying the top rate. The risks: Munis are remarkably safe from a credit perspective, even considering that defaults have inched up in recent years. But like all bonds, munis are subject to interest rate risk. If rates rise, your bond's value will drop (and vice versa), because interest rates and bond prices typically move in opposite directions. If you own an individual bond and hold it until it matures, you'll most likely get your full principal and interest. The value of muni funds, however, will vary every day.

SEE ALSO: 9 Municipal Bond Funds for Tax-Free Income

How to invest: Most investors should use a mutual fund or ETF, rather than pick their own individual bonds. Look for funds with rock-bottom expenses, such as Vanguard Limited-Term Tax-Exempt ( VMLTX , 1.8%). The fund charges just 0.17%, and yields the equivalent of 3% for someone paying the highest federal tax rate. It's a short-term fund, which means it's less sensitive to interest rate swings. That means its share price would fall less than longer-term funds' prices if rates were to rise. The average credit quality of the fund's holdings is a solid AA–. Fidelity Intermediate Municipal Income ( FLTMX , 2.0%), a member of the Kiplinger 25 , the list of our favorite no-load funds, gains a bit of yield (a taxable equivalent of 3.4% for those at the top rate) by investing in slightly longer-term bonds. The fund's expense ratio is 0.37%; the largest percentage of assets, 39%, is in AA bonds. Vanguard High-Yield Tax-Exempt Fund Investor Shares ( VWAHX , 2.9%) also charges just 0.17% in fees and yields 4.9% on a taxable-equivalent basis for someone at the highest rate. The extra yield comes from investing in a sampling of riskier bonds. But the fund's average BBB+ credit rating is still pretty good, and its return has beaten 96% of high-yield muni funds over the past 15 years.

SEE ALSO: How Smart a Bond Investor Are You? //www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4908

You get higher yields from corporate bonds than you do from government bonds because corporations are more likely to default. But that risk is slim. The one-year average default rate for investment-grade bonds (those rated BBB– or higher), is just 0.09%, going back to 1981, says Standard & Poor's. And corporate bonds rated AAA and maturing in 20 or more years recently yielded 3.7%, on average, while 20-year Treasury bonds yielded 2.8% and 30-year T-bonds, 3.0%. You can earn even more with bonds from firms with lightly dinged credit ratings. Bonds rated BBB yield an average 4.0%. The risks: The longer-term bond market moves independently of the Fed and could nudge yields higher (and prices lower) if inflation worries pick up. Though corporate defaults are rare, they can be devastating. Lehman Brothers, the brokerage firm whose bankruptcy helped fuel the Great Recession, once boasted an investment-grade credit rating.

How to invest: Active managers select the bonds at Dodge & Cox Income ( DODIX , 3.5%). This fund has beaten 84% of its peers over the past 15 years, using a value-oriented approach. It holds relatively short-term bonds, giving its portfolio a duration of 4.4 years, which means its share price would fall roughly 4.4% if interest rates rose by one percentage point over 12 months. The fund's average credit quality is A, and it charges 0.42% in expenses. If you prefer to own a sampling of the corporate bond market for a super-low fee, Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond Index Fund Admiral Shares ( VICSX , 3.6%) is a good choice. Vanguard recently lowered the minimum investment to $3,000, and the fund charges just 0.07%. Interest-rate risk is high with Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF ( BLV , $91, 3.8%). The exchange-traded fund has a duration of 15, which means fund shares would fall 15% if interest rates moved up by one percentage point in a year's time. Still, the yield on this long-term bond offering is enticing, and the fund's expense ratio is just 0.07%. SEE ALSO: The 7 Best Bond Funds for Retirement Savers in 2019 //www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4908

Dividend stocks have one advantage that bonds don't: They can, and often do, raise their payout. For example, Procter & Gamble ( PG , $106, 2.7%), a member of the Kiplinger Dividend 15 , the list of our favorite dividend-paying stocks, raised its dividend from $2.53 a share in 2014 to $2.84 in 2018, a 2.3% annualized increase. Preferred stocks, like bonds, pay a fixed dividend and typically offer higher yields than common stocks. Banks and other financial services firms are the typical issuers, and, like most high-dividend investments, they are sensitive to changes in interest rates. Yields for preferreds are in the 6% range, and a generous crop of new issues offers plenty of choices.

The risks: Dividend stocks are still stocks, and they will fall when the stock market does. Furthermore, Wall Street clobbers companies that cut their dividend. General Electric slashed its dividend to a penny per share on December 7, 2018, and the stock fell 4.7% that day. How to invest: Some slower-growing industries, such as utilities or telecommunications firms, tend to pay above-average dividends. Verizon Communications ( VZ , $58, 4.2%), a Kip 15 dividend stock, is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. Its investment in Fios fiber-optic cable should pay off in coming years. SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 High Dividend ETF ( SPYD , $39, 4.3%) tracks the highest-yielding stocks in the S&P 500 index. The fund has 80 holdings and is sufficiently diversified to handle a clunker or two. Utility PPL Corp. ( PPL , $31, 5.3%) derives more than 50% of its earnings from the United Kingdom. Worries that the U.K.'s departure from the European Union will pressure PPL's earnings have weighed on the stock's price, boosting its yield. Nevertheless, PPL's U.S. operations provide strong support for the company's generous payout. Ma Bell is a Dividend Aristocrat , meaning that AT&T ( T , $32, 6.4%) has raised its dividend for at least 25 consecutive years (35 straight years, in AT&T's case). The company has plenty of free cash flow to keep raising its payout. SEE ALSO: 9 High-Yield Dividend Stocks That Deserve Your Attention //www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4908

You can invest in two types of REITs: those that invest in property and those that invest in mortgages. Both types must pass on at least 90% of their revenue to investors, which is partly why they have such excellent yields. Typically, REITs that invest in income-producing real estate have lower yields than those that invest in mortgages. The average property REIT yields 4.1%, compared with the average mortgage REIT yield of 10.6%, according to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. Why the big difference? Property REITs rack up expenses when they buy and sell income properties or lease them out as landlords. Mortgage REITs either buy mortgages or originate them, using borrowed money or money raised through selling shares as their capital.

The risks: When the economy slows down, so does the real estate market, and most REITs will take a hit in a recession. Mortgage REITs are exceptionally sensitive to interest rate increases, which squeeze their profit margins, and to recessions, which increase the likelihood of loan defaults. REIT dividends are not qualified dividends for tax purposes and are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. How to invest: Realty Income Corp. ( O , $69, 4.0%) invests in property and rents it to large, dependable corporations, such as Walgreens, 7-Eleven and Fed-Ex. It's a Kiplinger 15 dividend stalwart and pays dividends monthly. Fidelity Real Estate Income ( FRIFX , 4.0%) isn't a REIT, although it invests in them (among other things). The fund puts income first. It has 43% of its assets in bonds, most of them issued by REITs. The fund lost 0.6% in 2018, compared with a 6% loss for other real estate funds. Investors will forgive a lot in exchange for a high yield. In the case of iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF ( REM , $44, 8.2%), they're choosing to accept a high degree of concentration: The top four holdings account for 44% of the ETF's portfolio. Although concentration can increase risk, in this instance the fund's huge position in mortgage REITs has helped returns. Falling interest rates late in 2018 pushed up mortgage REITs, limiting the fund's losses to just 3% in 2018. Annaly Capital Management ( NLY , $10, 12%) is a REIT that borrows cheaply to buy government-guaranteed mortgage securities. Most of those holdings are rated AA+ or better. Annaly boosts its yield by investing in and originating commercial real estate loans and by making loans to private equity firms. Its 2018 purchase of MTGE Investment, a mortgage REIT that specializes in skilled nursing and senior living facilities, will help diversify the firm's portfolio. Annaly is the largest holding of iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF.

SEE ALSO: A Dozen Great REITs for Income AND Diversification

If you think interest rates are low in the U.S., note that most developed foreign countries have even lower rates because their economies are growing slowly and inflation is low. The U.K.'s 10-year bond pays just 1.2%; Germany's 10-year bond yields 0.1%; Japan's yields –0.03%. There's no reason to accept those yields for a day, much less a decade. You can, by contrast, find decent yields in some emerging countries. Emerging-markets bonds typically yield roughly four to five percentage points more than comparable U.S. Treasury bonds, which would put yields on some 10-year EM debt at about 7%, says Pramol Dhawan, emerging-markets portfolio manager at bond fund giant Pimco.

The risks: You need a healthy tolerance for risk to invest in emerging-markets bonds. U.S. investors tend to be leery of them because they remember massive defaults and currency devaluations, such as those that occurred in Asia in the late 1990s. But in the wake of such debacles, many emerging countries have learned to manage their debt and their currencies better than in the past. But currency is still a key consideration. When the U.S. dollar rises in value, overseas gains translate into fewer greenbacks. When the dollar falls, however, you'll get a boost in your return. A higher dollar can also put pressure on foreign debt denominated in dollars -- because as the dollar rises, so do interest payments. How to invest: Dodge & Cox Global Bond ( DODLX , 4.5%) can invest anywhere, but lately it has favored U.S. bonds, which were recently 48% of the portfolio. The fund's major international holdings show that it isn't afraid to invest in dicey areas -- it has 11% of its assets in Mexican bonds and 7% in United Kingdom bonds. Fidelity New Markets Income ( FNMIX , 5.6%), a Kip 25 fund, has been run by John Carlson since 1995. That makes him one of the few emerging-markets debt managers who ran a portfolio during the currency-triggered meltdown in 1997-98. He prefers debt denominated in dollars, which accounts for 94% of the portfolio. But he can be adventurous: About 6.5% of the fund's assets are in Turkey, which is currently struggling with a 19% inflation rate and a 14.7% unemployment rate. IShares Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF ( EMHY , $46, 6.2%) tracks emerging-markets corporate and government bonds with above-average yields. The holdings are denominated in dollars, so there's less currency risk. But this is not a low-risk holding. It's more than twice as volatile as the U.S. bond market, although still only half as volatile as emerging-markets stocks. SEE ALSO: 39 European Dividend Aristocrats for International Income Growth

Junk bonds -- or high-yield bonds, in Wall Street parlance -- aren't trash to income investors. Such bonds, which are rated BB+ or below, yield, on average, about 4.7 percentage points more than the 10-year T-note, says John Lonski, managing director for Moody's Capital Markets Research Group. What makes a junk bond junky? Typical high-yield bond issuers are companies that have fallen on hard times, or newer companies with problematic balance sheets. In good times, these companies can often make their payments in full and on time and can even see their credit ratings improve. The risks: You're taking an above-average risk that your bond's issuer will default. The median annual default rate for junk bonds since 1984 is 3.8%, according to Lonksi. In a recession, you could take a big hit. In 2008, the average junk bond fund fell 26%, even with reinvested interest.

How to invest: RiverPark Strategic Income ( RSIVX , 4.8%) is a mix of cash and short-term high-yield and investment-grade bonds. Managers choose bonds with a very low duration, to cut interest rate risk, and a relatively low chance of default. Vanguard High-Yield Corporate ( VWEHX , 5.5%), a Kip 25 fund, charges just 0.23% in expenses and invests mainly in the just-below-investment-grade arena, in issues from companies such as Sprint and Univision Communications. SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond ETF ( JNK , $36, 5.8%) charges 0.40% in expenses and tracks the Barclays High Yield Very Liquid index -- meaning that it invests only in easily traded bonds. That's a comfort in a down market because when the junk market turns down, buyers tend to dry up. The fund may lag its peers in a hot market, however, as some of the highest-yielding issues can also be the least liquid. Investors who are bullish on the economy might consider Northern High Yield Fixed Income Fund ( NHFIX , 7.0%). The fund owns a significant slice of the junkier corner of the bond market, with about 23% of its holdings rated below B by Standard & Poor's. These bonds are especially vulnerable to economic downturns but compensate investors willing to take that risk with a generous yield.

SEE ALSO: 12 Dividend Stocks That May Be Income Traps //www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4908

You might be surprised to learn how much income you can generate from moving hydrocarbons from one place to another. Most MLPs are spin-offs from energy firms and typically operate gas or oil pipelines. MLPs pay out most of their income to investors and don't pay corporate income taxes on that income. Those who buy individual MLPs will receive a K-1 tax form, which spells out the income, losses, deductions and credits that the business earned and your share of each. Most MLP ETFs and mutual funds don't have to issue a K-1; you'll get a 1099 form reporting the income you received from the fund.

The risks: In theory, energy MLPs should be somewhat immune to changes in oil prices; they collect fees on the amount they move, no matter what the price. In practice, when oil gets clobbered, so do MLPs -- as investors learned in 2015, when the price of West Texas intermediate crude fell from $53 a barrel to a low of $35 and MLPs slid an average 35%. Oil prices should be relatively stable this year, and high production levels should mean a good year for pipeline firms. How to invest: Magellan Midstream Partners ( MMP , $62, 6.5%) has a 9,700-mile pipeline system for refined products, such as gasoline, and 2,200 miles of oil pipelines. The MLP has a solid history of raising its payout (called a distribution) and expects a 5% annual increase in 2019. The giant of MLP ETFs, Alerian MLP ETF ( AMLP , $10, 7.2%), boasts $9 billion in assets and delivers a high yield with reasonable expenses of 0.85% a year. Structured as a C corporation, the fund must pay taxes on its income and gains. That can be a drag on yields compared with MLPs that operate under the traditional partnership structure. EQM Midstream Partners ( EQM , $46, 10.1%) is active in the Appalachian Basin and has about 950 miles of interstate pipelines. The firm paid $4.40 in distributions per unit last year and expects to boost that to $4.58 in 2019.

SEE ALSO: 7 High-Yield MLPs to Buy as Oil Prices Climb

Closed-end funds (CEFs) are the forebears of mutual funds and ETFs. A closed-end fund raises money through an initial stock offering and invests that money in stocks, bonds and other types of securities, says John Cole Scott, chief investment officer, Closed-End Fund Advisors. The fund's share price depends on investors' opinion of how its picks will fare. Typically, the fund's share price is less than the current, per-share value of its holdings -- meaning that the fund trades at a discount. In the best outcome, investors will drive the price up to or beyond the market value of the fund's holdings. In the worst case, the fund's discount will steepen.

The risks: Many closed-end income funds borrow to invest, which can amplify their yields but increase their price sensitivity to changes in interest rates. Most CEFs have higher expense ratios than mutual funds or ETFs, too.

How to invest: Ares Dynamic Credit Allocation Fund ( ARDC , $15, 8.5%) invests in a mix of senior bank loans and corporate bonds, almost all of which are rated below investment grade. Borrowed money as a percentage of assets -- an important indicator for closed-end funds known as the leverage ratio -- is 29.6%, which is a tad lower than the average of 33% for closed-end funds overall. The fund's discount to the value of its holdings has been narrowing of late but still stands at 12.1%, compared with 11.2%, on average, for the past three years.

Advent Claymore Convertible Securities and Income Fund ( AVK , $15, 9.4%), run by Guggenheim Investments, specializes in convertible bonds, which can be exchanged for common stock under some conditions. The fund also holds some high-yield bonds. Currently, it's goosing returns with 40% leverage, which means there's above-average risk if rates rise. For intrepid investors, the fund is a bargain, selling at a discount of 10.6%, about average for the past three years.

Clearbridge Energy Midstream Opportunity ( EMO , $9, 9.7%) invests in energy master limited partnerships. It sells at a 12.1% discount, compared with a 6.6% average discount for the past three years. Its leverage ratio is 33% -- about average for similar closed-end funds.

SEE ALSO: The 10 Best Closed-End Funds (CEFs) for 2019

[May 14, 2019] How Much Money Do You Need to Be Wealthy in America

May 14, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

(Bloomberg) -- Rich is relative.

Merely having a net worth of $1 million, it seems, doesn't mean you're wealthy. In Charles Schwab's annual Modern Wealth Survey, the amount people said it took to be considered rich averaged out to $2.3 million. That, the company said, is "more than 20 times the actual median net worth of U.S. households."

It's also a very slight drop from the $2.4 million average in the two previous iterations of the survey.The older one gets, the higher the bar goes, predictably. Among baby boomers (roughly age 55 to 73), the average net worth you need to be considered wealthy is $2.6 million, 35% higher than what millennials envision as the admission price to the plutocracy.

For someone to be deemed merely financially comfortable, the required net worth shrinks significantly. The average amount was $1.1 million, and only Generation Z (about age 9 to age 22, though Schwab's sample was 18 to 22) cited a number below $1 million ($909,600, to be exact.)

The Schwab survey, which took a national sample of 1,000 Americans between the ages of 21 and 75, also revealed that the majority of Americans really crave real estate. More than 50% of respondents across generations said that if they got a $1 million windfall, they'd spend it, and the most popular purchase would be a place to live -- particularly among millennials (roughly age 22 to 37). Those millennials also took issue with the premise of the survey. More than three-quarters of them said their personal definition of wealth was really about the way they live their lives, rather than a discrete dollar amount.

Nevertheless, 60% of them aren't all that worried, since they plan to be wealthy within one to 10 years. The survey results suggest an interesting strategy to help them get there -- ignore their friends' social media posts.

How's that? Well, it seems virtual covetousness has taken on a life of its own for the digital generation. According to the survey, overspending because of what they see on social media (in tandem with the ease with which it takes your cash) was the largest "bad" influence on how they managed their money.

And the negative influence of social media on spending is only going to grow. In March, Instagram announced that it's testing a shopping feature called Checkout that lets users buy things directly within the app, rather than being directed to a retailer's website. So much for one-stop shopping. Now you won't even have to stop.With 59% of the Americans surveyed saying they live paycheck to paycheck, instant gratification comes with a high price. While a strong economy and low unemployment are helping consumers stay current on their debt payments, the largest U.S. banks are seeing losses on credit cards outpace those of auto and home loans at a rate not seen in at least 10 years.And when the bottom does finally fall out, the last thing most Americans will be thinking of is whether they qualify as wealthy.

To contact the author of this story: Suzanne Woolley in New York at swoolley2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

[May 13, 2019] Markets Tumble As China Unveils Retaliatory Tariffs, May Dump Some Treasuries

May 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

After vowing over the weekend to "never surrender to external pressure", Beijing has defied President Trump's demands that it not resort to retaliatory tariffs and announced plans to slap new levies on $60 billion in US goods.

China's announcement comes after the White House raised tariffs on some $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on Friday (however, the new rates will only apply to goods leaving Chinese ports on or after the date where the new tariffs took effect).

Here's a breakdown of how China will impose tariffs on 2,493 US goods. The new rates will take effect at the beginning of next month.

In further bad news for American farmers, China might stop purchasing agricultural products from the US, reduce its orders for Boeing planes and restrict service trade.

There has also been talk that the PBOC could start dumping Treasurys (which would, in addition to pushing US rates higher, could also have the effect of strengthening the yuan). Though if China is going to dump Treasuries, will they also be dumping US stocks and real estate?

Hu Xijin 胡锡进 @HuXijin_GT

China may stop purchasing US agricultural products and energy, reduce Boeing orders and restrict US service trade with China. Many Chinese scholars are discussing the possibility of dumping US Treasuries and how to do it specifically.

[May 13, 2019] Not Just Ukraine; Biden May Have A Serious China Problem As Schweizer Exposes Hunter s $1bn Deal

Highly recommended!
Neoliberal corruption in full display. As we see forms of nepotism evolve with time...
Notable quotes:
"... Two years of investigations by journalist Peter Schweizer has revealed that Joe Biden may now have a serious China problem. And just like his Ukraine scandal , it involves actions which helped his son Hunter, who was making hand over fist in both countries. ..."
"... Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash and now Secret Empires discovered that in 2013, then-Vice President Biden and his son Hunter flew together to China on Air Force Two - and two weeks later, Hunter's firm inked a private equity deal for $1 billion with a subsidiary of the Chinese government's Bank of China , which expanded to $1.5 billion, according to an article by Schweizer's in the New York Post . ..."
"... Hunter Biden and his partners created several LLCs involved in multibillion-dollar private equity deals with Chinese government-owned entities. ..."
"... Perhaps most damning in terms of timing and optics, just twelve days after Hunter and Joe Biden flew on Air Force Two to Beijing, Hunter's company signed a "historic deal with the Bank of China ," described by Schweizer as "the state-owned financial behemoth often used as a tool of the Chinese government." To accommodate the deal, the Bank of China created a unique type of investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). According to BHR, Rosemont Seneca Partners is a founding partner ..."
"... It was an unprecedented arrangement: the government of one of America's fiercest competitors going into business with the son of one of America's most powerful decisionmakers . ..."
"... It doesn't stop there. While Hunter Biden had "no experience in China, and little in private equity," the Chinese government for some reason thought it would be a great idea to give his firm business opportunities instead of established global banks such as Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs. ..."
"... The following August, Rosemont Realty, another sister company of Rosemont Seneca, announced that Gemini Investments was buying a 75 percent stake in the company. The terms of the deal included a $3 billion commitment from the Chinese, who were eager to purchase new US properties. Shortly after the sale, Rosemont Realty was rechristened Gemini Rosemont. ..."
"... "We see great opportunities to continue acquiring high-quality real estate in the US market," said one company executive, who added: "The possibilities for this venture are tremendous." ..."
"... Then, in 2015, BHR partnered with a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned military aviation contractor Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in order to purchase American precision-parts maker Henniges - a transaction which required approval from the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the same rubber-stamp committee that approved the Uranium One deal. ..."
"... The vice president was bringing with him highly welcomed terms of a United States Agency for International Development program to assist the Ukrainian natural-gas industry and promises of more US financial assistance and loans. Soon the United States and the International Monetary Fund would be pumping more than $1 billion into the Ukrainian economy. ..."
"... The next day, there was a public announcement that Archer had been asked to join the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural-gas company. Three weeks after that, on May 13, it was announced that Hunter Biden would join, too. Neither Biden nor Archer had any background or experience in the energy sector. - New York Post ..."
"... Then Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in US loan guarantees to Ukraine unless President Petro Poroshenko fired his head prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into natural gas firm Burisma Holdings. ..."
"... Biden bragged about the threat last year, telling an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations: "I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko. ..."
"... As we head into the 2020 elections, it will be interesting to see how Joe Biden dances around his son's lucrative - and very potentially daddy-assisted deals around the world. ..."
May 13, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 05/13/2019 - 14:30 111 SHARES

Two years of investigations by journalist Peter Schweizer has revealed that Joe Biden may now have a serious China problem. And just like his Ukraine scandal , it involves actions which helped his son Hunter, who was making hand over fist in both countries.

Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash and now Secret Empires discovered that in 2013, then-Vice President Biden and his son Hunter flew together to China on Air Force Two - and two weeks later, Hunter's firm inked a private equity deal for $1 billion with a subsidiary of the Chinese government's Bank of China , which expanded to $1.5 billion, according to an article by Schweizer's in the New York Post .

" If it sounds shocking that a vice president would shape US-China policy as his son -- who has scant experience in private equity -- clinched a coveted billion-dollar deal with an arm of the Chinese government, that's because it is " - Peter Schweizer

Perhaps this is why Joe Biden - now on the 2020 campaign trail - said last week that China wasn't a threat.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/sD9d3TUYHNo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a shot at Biden's comment during a speech at the Claremont Institute's 40th anniversary gala, saying "Look how both parties now are on guard against the threat that China presents to America -- maybe except Joe Biden."

Back to Hunter...

Schweizer connects the dots, writing that "without the aid of subpoena power, here's what we know :"

It was an unprecedented arrangement: the government of one of America's fiercest competitors going into business with the son of one of America's most powerful decisionmakers .

Chris Heinz claims neither he nor Rosemont Seneca Partners, the firm he had part ownership of, had any role in the deal with Bohai Harvest. Nonetheless, Biden, Archer and the Rosemont name became increasingly involved with China.

Archer became the vice chairman of Bohai Harvest, helping oversee some of the fund's investments. - New York Post

National Security implications

As Schweizer also notes, BHR became an "anchor investor" in the IPO of China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) in December 2014. The state-owned energy company is involved with the construction of nuclear reactors.

In April 2016, CGN was charged by the US Justice Department with stealing nuclear secrets from the United States , which prosecutors warned could cause "significant damage to our national security." CNG was interested in sensitive, American-made nuclear components that resembled those used on US nuclear submarines, according to experts.

More China dealings

It doesn't stop there. While Hunter Biden had "no experience in China, and little in private equity," the Chinese government for some reason thought it would be a great idea to give his firm business opportunities instead of established global banks such as Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs.

Also in December 2014, a Chinese state-backed conglomerate called Gemini Investments Limited was negotiating and sealing deals with Hunter Biden's Rosemont on several fronts. That month, it made a $34 million investment into a fund managed by Rosemont.

The following August, Rosemont Realty, another sister company of Rosemont Seneca, announced that Gemini Investments was buying a 75 percent stake in the company. The terms of the deal included a $3 billion commitment from the Chinese, who were eager to purchase new US properties. Shortly after the sale, Rosemont Realty was rechristened Gemini Rosemont.

Chinese executives lauded the deal. - New York Post

"Rosemont, with its comprehensive real-estate platform and superior performance history, was precisely the investment opportunity Gemini Investments was looking for in order to invest in the US real estate market," said Li Ming, chairman of Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Limited and Gemini Investments. "We look forward to a strong and successful partnership."

That partnership planned to use Chinese money to scoop up US properties.

"We see great opportunities to continue acquiring high-quality real estate in the US market," said one company executive, who added: "The possibilities for this venture are tremendous."

Then, in 2015, BHR partnered with a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned military aviation contractor Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in order to purchase American precision-parts maker Henniges - a transaction which required approval from the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the same rubber-stamp committee that approved the Uranium One deal.

Tying it back to Ukraine

While we have previously reported on the Bidens' adventures in Ukraine, Schweizer connects the dots rather well here ...

Consider the facts. On April 16, 2014, White House records show that Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's business partner in the Rosemont Seneca deals, made a private visit to the White House for a meeting with Vice President Biden. Five days later, on April 21, Joe Biden landed in Kiev for a series of high-level meetings with Ukrainian officials . The vice president was bringing with him highly welcomed terms of a United States Agency for International Development program to assist the Ukrainian natural-gas industry and promises of more US financial assistance and loans. Soon the United States and the International Monetary Fund would be pumping more than $1 billion into the Ukrainian economy.

The next day, there was a public announcement that Archer had been asked to join the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural-gas company. Three weeks after that, on May 13, it was announced that Hunter Biden would join, too. Neither Biden nor Archer had any background or experience in the energy sector. - New York Post

Hunter was paid as much as $50,000 per month while Burisma was under investigation by officials in both Ukraine and elsewhere.

Then Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in US loan guarantees to Ukraine unless President Petro Poroshenko fired his head prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.

Biden bragged about the threat last year, telling an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations: "I said, ' You're not getting the billion .' I'm going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ' I'm leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money, '" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko.

" Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time."

Joe Biden says that he had no idea Hunter was on the board of Burisma (for two years after he joined), and that the two never spoke about the Burisma investigation. The former VP claims that Shokin's removal was required due to his mishandling of several cases in Ukraine.

As we head into the 2020 elections, it will be interesting to see how Joe Biden dances around his son's lucrative - and very potentially daddy-assisted deals around the world.


Bastiat , 2 minutes ago link

Stick a fork in Creepy Uncle Sniffy.

Feel it Reel it , 8 minutes ago link

Biden is another scumbag Democrat Lawyer who's the original 'pay for play' politician...A 40+ year history in Political Office with Zero accomplishments except enriching himself and his family...A complete fraud and hypocrite liar.....Lawyers should have never been allowed to run for Office at any level.....Look at all the corruption that has been and is being exposed at the different bureaucracies...Virtually all the corruption has been willfully committed by Lawyers....Pathetic....

LOL123 , 16 minutes ago link

Interesting.... I put: "The Steele Dossier has so many British agents involved it sounds like a British failed coup to overthrow an elected President because he stands in " the way of "profiting goals of " international goals" of global monopoly run by unelected councils and retired instigators as facilitators of discord.

But came out:The Steele Dossier has so many British agents involved it sounds like a British failed coup to overthrow an elected President because he stands in the profiting goals of " international goals" of global monopoly run by unelected councils and retired instigators as facilitators of discord.

To make it sound as if it is Trump profiting.... By no means is that true... Its the " long term" Washington officals that have been profiting. Not a possible 8 year President.

My phone also wont let me thumbs up people i would like to but only a few and also replying is " verboten".

These algorhythms and blocks and censorship is an abuse of constitutional rights which is bad enough, but even worse is that these rights got monopolized by various corporations who bought stock in facebook/ googles options that was stolen from Leader technologies source code ( which Mark zukerberg couldnt write on a good day... He is a front guy and again we have British privy council involed with Clegg head of facebook now voice for Mark... Because Mark is a cut out).

This whole social media internet thing has been hijacked and weaponized by Washingtons same people as Dossier scandel... James Chandeler attorney and backstaber of Leader technology.

See leader technology vs facebook..... But i digress.

We have lost control of the internet.

https://www.fbcoverup.com/docs/library/Michael-T-McKibben-AFI-backgrounder.html

Michael T. McKibben's career spans two phases: international Christian music ministry, and technology innovation. In 2006, he was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,139,761 for what is now called "social networking."

Psadie , 21 minutes ago link

Biden & Kerry aren't the only ones with a China problem. "Secret Empires" also listed Mitch McConnell having a huge China problem through his wife's shipping company. I bet he doesn't run for re-election. Winning.

Bricker , 23 minutes ago link

Biden thinks he knows something about trade. If thats the case how did America get here?

We got here from career politicians selling America for votes.

#FuckBiden

cleg , 46 minutes ago link

China owns the Clintonista mob.

onewayticket2 , 43 minutes ago link

they all own one another - that's the essence of the problem in politics. and why they have tried so hard to get that outsider, trump, out of the country club.

Koba the Dread , 30 minutes ago link

China funded Bill Clinton's election campaigns through James Riady, an Indonesian Chinese man involved in hard drug smuggling and arms trafficking. The money was laundered through Little Rock banks and corporations. (See Victor Thorn's Hillary and Bill , all three volumes.)

JamcaicanMeAfraid , 48 minutes ago link

"Come on man! This is a joke! He's my son and he's a great buddy. I mean yeah he was drummed out of the Naval Reserve because of his cocaine habit, but come on man, you know, everybody does it! Just ask my good friend Barack, he's a clean, good looking darkie whose done his share of blow. And yeah Hunter fucked his dead brother's widow, but come on man! Have you seen her **** and ***. I might have made a move on her myself, but hey man I'm married."

Joe Biden, From the endless Fear and Mongering Presidential campaign of 2020.

JibjeResearch , 49 minutes ago link

How can a deal of such magnitude escape the Treasury FINCEN?

Get on it ... you IRS/SEC/FBI people!

Koba the Dread , 25 minutes ago link

IRS/SEC/FBI are not investigatory agencies. They are barrier agencies. They protect the anointed, letting them do as they wish, and stomp on anyone else who tries to get in on the gravy train.

Rico , 55 minutes ago link

ah, sociopaths in action...from an earlier post:

//

Sociopaths are the reason all governments, regardless of the particular 'ism', eventually fail...

Looking at human history, fascism is the most common form of government for humans. At least it is the most honest - that the sociopaths are ******* everyone else.... These days we try to hide it by lofty idealism that is incompatible with a predator/prey real world.....

Representative democracy, socialism and communism all fail and all fail for the same reason - sociopaths...

We should be honest with ourselves that there is a small, but statistically significant percentage of the human population that are sociopaths (and more are being born every generation). We can call them predators and we are the prey...any concentration of power attracts sociopaths regardless of the fancy label we put on the political system. Within a short time the system is inundated with sociopaths who invariably game the system to death for their own individual benefit....

Don't like the reality in which you find yourself? Stop voting for sociopaths, stop giving them power...

What political party or system even acknowledge the sociopath problem? That's right, none...so don't expect anything to change after the reset...the pleubs will chose a new sociopath for their leader, who will **** them, and things will go on as they always have...

Only way to combat this is to decentralize power as much as possible...this doesn't solve the sociopath problem, but it does spread them out and keeps them from ganging up together to **** over the peasants...but I won't hold my breath....

Fish Gone Bad , 1 hour ago link

I bet Hunter's tax records must be VERY interesting. Someone really needs to step up and show those bad boys.

pilager , 1 hour ago link

Yes, selling America out again.

TeethVillage88s , 52 minutes ago link

Is this a good time to take a look at 1) Front Men 2) Front Companies 3) Shell Companies 4) Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV/SPE) 5) Offshore Accounts, Offshore Donations, Offshore Campaign or PAC or Party Contributions, Paradise Papers, Panama Papers 6) USA as Tax Haven for foreign accounts 7) USA as an Empire 8) The Rise Of The Fourth Reich notes in book by Jim Marrs

[May 13, 2019] Buffet bet is a bet that the ol price will go up

May 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

shallow sand x Ignored says: 05/08/2019 at 2:05 pm

Buffett put it very simply. If oil prices go up OXY can make a lot of money.

$100 oil they will make a lot, especially on their CO2 projects in the Permian, and in Oman, where they own a decent chunk of flowing BOPD.

It's a bet on oil going up, plus getting 8% interest for loaning them $10 billion. They go with preferred stock for the favorable dividend tax treatment.

It is only a bad deal if oil stays here or below long term. Assuming a 10-15 year cycle, by 2025-2030 oil will surely rocket up.

Boomer II x Ignored says: 05/09/2019 at 12:41 am
It's a good deal for Berkshire, but not a good deal for Occidental.

"The 8 percent yield on the preferreds is way above Oxy's pre-bidding dividend yield of 4.7 percent and equivalent to a pre-tax cost of debt of about 10 percent, roughly triple the company's bond yield. That's before counting the warrants, equivalent to 9 percent dilution on the pro forma share count, plus the redemption premium.

This wasn't a bet on Oxy, the Permian shale basin or even oil prices; Buffett could have just bought stock in the open market for that. This was about extracting as much as possible from a company that really needed the promise of a big slug of cash."

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-05-08/chevron-vs-occidental-for-anadarko-what-will-winning-mean

Boomer II x Ignored says: 05/09/2019 at 12:45 am
If Occidental gets the deal, its bond rating will go down.

https://seekingalpha.com/news/3460887-moodys-says-likely-downgrade-occidental-wins-anadarko

Boomer II x Ignored says: 05/08/2019 at 2:17 am
According to Buffett, he is betting on oil prices and the Permian.

Also, Berkshire might have bought Anadarko directly, if asked. Which seems odd.

"Asked why Berkshire wouldn't just buy Anadarko itself, Buffett said, 'That might have happened if Anadarko came to us, but we wouldn't jump into some other deal that we heard about from somebody else coming to us seeking financing.'

Later in the interview, longtime investing partner and vice chairman Charlie Munger responded to the question as well, saying, 'Nobody asked us to.'"

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/06/buffett-says-occidental-petroleum-investment-is-a-bet-on-oil-prices-over-the-long-term.html

[May 13, 2019] Will Trump pressure on Iran result in the spike of oil prices?

May 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 05/07/2019 at 4:51 pm

currently they are forecasting about a 750 kb/d increase annually from Dec 2018 to Dec 2020.

Yes, but they are predicting the lions share of that gain in 2019. That is they are predicting a US increase in production of 1,200 kb/d in 2019 and a gain of 350 kb/d in 2020. (Dec. to Dec. in each case.)

Note: This is C+C, not Total Liquids.

Obviously, they are expecting a slowdown in the oil patch in 2020. That slowdown just may come about a year earlier than expected.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 05/08/2019 at 7:42 am
Ron,

I agree, 2019 is too high, but I still think the overall change from Dec 2018 to Dec 2020 will be about right (2019 increase will be less than STEO, but 2020 increase will be greater).

It is doubtful their forecast will be precisely correct, nor will anyone's, but the overall increase from Dec 2018 to Dec 2020 seems pretty reasonable. I agree that the expected increase in 2019 will be less than the 1.2 Mb/d the EIA currently forecasts, about 700 kb/d this year and 850 kb/d next year seems more reasonable if Brent oil prices gradually rise to $85/b (2018$) over the May 2019 to Dec 2020 period as I expect (with lots of volatility along the way). Basically I expect the centered average 5 week Brent spot price may reach $85/b some time before Dec 31, 2020.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 05/08/2019 at 8:19 am
Dennis, the EIA clearly sees the slowdown in the shale oil patch coming. They think it will hit next year, 2020. The EIA has a history of being overly optimistic. Yet yet, in this case, you think they are being pessimistic. You see shale production increasing in 2020 over 2019. That just seems very strange to me.

However, I will just have to leave it at that. We will both just have to wait and see.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 05/09/2019 at 7:27 am
Ron,

I expect oil prices will be higher towards the end of 2019, profits for tight oil producers will be higher, there will be a higher well completion rates (higher capital spending budgets) in 2020 as a result and the rate of increase in tight oil output will increase a bit (I am assuming 700 kb/d in 2019 and 800 kb/d in 2020, this is essentially no change in the rate of increase). In the end we don't know as we don't know future oil prices and how they will affect investment decisions. The main point is that in the end the output in Dec 2020 may be pretty close to the EIA estimate. That estimate is neither pessimistic or optimistic, it is realistic. The path that output will take from March 2019 to Dec 2020 is impossible to predict, a straight line guess is as good as any.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 05/09/2019 at 7:49 am
I understand Dennis, hope springs eternal in the shale oil patch, for some folks anyway.

I agree that oil prices are about to spike. World oil production is currently falling like a rock. Brent prices are in backwardation, meaning traders also expect prices to rise. However, I do not believe, as you do, that this will automatically cause a dramatic increase in oil production. The effect will be feeble at best. Well, in my opinion anyway.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 05/09/2019 at 1:27 pm
Hi Ron,

I also do not expect a dramatic increase, I actually expect the recent rate of annual increase of 1.6 Mb/d to slow to about half of the previous rate (0.8 Mb/d) and continue to slow over time to near zero by 2024.

We'll see.

[May 13, 2019] Does EIA preducttion of dramatic rise in shale oil output means that they predict dramatic rise on oil prices: shale is not profitable for most companies below $70-$80 a barrel.

May 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ovi x Ignored says: 05/07/2019 at 5:04 pm

Attached are the changing monthly STEO projections for February, March and April for the lower 48 production. Today's projection, April, has added 230 kb/d day by year end 2019 to the March projection and close to 300 kb/d in 2020. The April projection also shows an increase of 960 kb/d from Dec 18 to Dec 19. For Dec 19 to Dec 20, the increase is only 420 kb/d, less than half of the 18 to 19 increase. Any speculation/ideas for the lower increase for 19 to 20. The G of M drops by 70 kb/d from Dec 19 to Dec 20.

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 05/07/2019 at 5:37 pm
Thanks, Ovi.

You notice that the April 19 STEO has the lowest production numbers for Jan. Feb. and April 2019 but the highest numbers as they move into the second half of 2019 and all of 2020.

I don't know what to make of this except that I find it rather amusing.

GuyM x Ignored says: 05/07/2019 at 6:27 pm
I found it insulting to my intelligence (not an exceptionally difficult task), but now that you mention it, I can imagine some Lewis Carroll feel to it.
ProPoly x Ignored says: 05/07/2019 at 4:48 pm
How are they adding 100k+ net non-Gulf when their own drilling productivity reports have the Permian at less than half that growth? With Eagle Ford and Bakken not growing. Doesn't add up even before taking out legacy decline elsewhere.

[May 13, 2019] Price range $55-65 WTI would still be ok for small traditional producers, but shale producers need $75-80

Notable quotes:
"... A word about the LTO metric of the month, free cash flow. Cash flow ain't "free" if one is still in debt. IMO, 1Q19 was awful for the US shale oil industry. It used cash flow for buy backs, to meet dividend demands by pissed off investors, to pay absurd prices for undeveloped acreage in the Permian, for reserve replacement (75% of ALL wells now drilled in America's shale basins simply offset last year's annualized decline) and still eked out a little growth. Nothing to very little went of nothing went to voluntary deleveraging. At less than $75-80, it can't be done. ..."
May 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

shallow sand x Ignored says: 05/11/2019 at 11:32 pm

Dennis. Things were going good until 11/18, when the price started to crater. Thankfully we are back up. However, our price for December through March averaged $48 and change, which is making money, but not much.

Expenses have stayed relatively stable. Labor goes up a little each year. Electricity has actually dropped a few percent. Chemicals have stayed the same since we received a 10% cut in 2016. Steel is up some, so rods and tubing are a little higher.

$55-65 WTI would still be ok. Liked $70s last fall, before the Donald got involved with Iran waivers and tweets.

My comment was poking at the Donald, et al, who think that since $25 was a great price in 1990 it should still be ok today.

Clearly, although $55-65 is good for us, maybe not good enough for others. In particular, the service companies who continue to lay bleeding to death on the side of the road.

We still have no plans to drill. Have five workovers planned for summer to fight the decline.

Mike Shellman x Ignored says: 05/12/2019 at 10:37 am
Dennis, you are kind; thank you. My belief is that if one can't make money at $50/2.50, and cope with 30% price swings for months at a time, one should be in the lawn mowing business instead. The US shale oil industry could therefore keep most of America looking like Augusta National.

A word about the LTO metric of the month, free cash flow. Cash flow ain't "free" if one is still in debt. IMO, 1Q19 was awful for the US shale oil industry. It used cash flow for buy backs, to meet dividend demands by pissed off investors, to pay absurd prices for undeveloped acreage in the Permian, for reserve replacement (75% of ALL wells now drilled in America's shale basins simply offset last year's annualized decline) and still eked out a little growth. Nothing to very little went of nothing went to voluntary deleveraging. At less than $75-80, it can't be done.

Hughes has a new report out clearly showing Mother Nature is having Her say in the shale oil phenomena. Nobody messes with Mother Nature.

Dennis Coyne x Ignored says: 05/12/2019 at 11:27 am
Thanks Mike,

Agree higher oil prices are needed for tight oil producers to reduce their debt. If long term oil prices remain $50/b, they are toast.

I read a blurb on the new Hughes paper, but I am a bit of a cheapskate and was not willing to put down $250 for the report so I have not read it.

From your perspective, do you think oil prices are likely to remain $50/b long term? (lets call it the 52 week average oil price). It seems to me there will not be adequate supply on the World oil market at $50/b, perhaps $65 or $70/b (in 2019 US$) would do it.

You know infinitely more than me about the oil business and you have been in it for a while (40+ years as an owner I believe), so your take would be of interest to me and I imagine everyone who reads this blog.

Synapsid x Ignored says: 05/12/2019 at 11:46 am
Mike,

Robert Rapier has an article–new, I think–about Free Cash Flow at OilPrice. Nicely detailed.

[May 13, 2019] Samuelson points out how flawed economists are. And that includes projection of oil production

May 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Boomer II x Ignored says: 05/12/2019 at 9:09 pm

As many of you, I don't expect business as usual to continue. We get projections based on past trends, but with oil being finite and the globe already showing the effects of climate change, I think we are in for a tumultuous future.

Samuelson points out how flawed economists are.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/economists-often-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/2019/05/12/f91517d4-7338-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html

[May 12, 2019] Is rabid warmonger, neocon chickenhawk Bolton a swinger? That s a mental picture that s deeply disturbing yet funny at the same time

Highly recommended!
In this case he looks like Bill Clinton impersonalization ;-) That's probably how Adelson controls Bolton ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Larry Flint had offered a Million dollars to anyone who had proof of republican sexual exploits. He was quickly fingered by someone who attended those clubs. He was forced to accept a temporary position and quietly resigned after a few months so as to avoid facing questions. ..."
May 12, 2019 | www.unz.com

FB , says: Website May 11, 2019 at 4:46 pm GMT

@J. Gutierrez Thanks for putting together this commentary J

Bolton a swinger ? LOL that's a mental picture that's deeply disturbing yet funny at the same time

J. Gutierrez , says: May 11, 2019 at 10:42 pm GMT

@FB Yeah brother, that POS was called out during his confirmation hearings during baby Bush's presidency. Larry Flint had offered a Million dollars to anyone who had proof of republican sexual exploits. He was quickly fingered by someone who attended those clubs. He was forced to accept a temporary position and quietly resigned after a few months so as to avoid facing questions.

Someone said they saw him proposition a teenage girl outside one of the swinger clubs he frequented.

Glad you enjoyed the piece take care brother.

[May 11, 2019] Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the US

Access to the college is a privilege that typically is granted to children with high IQ. In europlpe that is doene via entrance exams. If you pass you are in, if not, so be it. So the very notion of college is discriminative in this sense, as it should be. All this posturing about neighborhoods with bad schools does not change the fact that individual with high IQ can prosper and pass entrance earn to the college even graduating from "bad schools", so mostly marginal individual are affected.
But if you need to pay for the college that poor kids with high IQ are cut out. Forever. and that's grossly unfair (as many things under neoliberalism)
Notable quotes:
"... As a matter of principle, an egalitarian society of the future that I'd want to help building would in fact contain free or inexpensive access to any level of education, at a high base standard of quality. Like, every school is a good school, there is a mechanism for tackling exceptions, and everyone can access whatever level of basic education or fundamental vocational training without having to pay for it in major financial hardship. (There are of course many ways to implement such a system.) ..."
"... I'm surprised at the number of people on this thread who seem to think the purpose of free university education is to help lift people out of poverty. How many times do you have to be shown that this upward mobility thing is a Ponzi scheme? The goal of free education is to ensure that poor people can get access to the same things rich people can, so that everyone is able to live a fulfilling life. ..."
"... Harry @82 -- my understanding is that while the NHS has improved health outcomes for everyone, it has also (counter-intuitively) increased health inequality. More affluent people are better able to take advantage of healthcare. The interventions which tend to reduce health inequality are things like clean water and closing the sewers, not universal access to care. ..."
"... (*) Under German law, students can sue their parents if they have the means but refuse to fund an adequate education. But of course you would rather not sue your parents. ..."
"... Poor children should be able to go to university. That's a simple statement of what is right. Warrens offering a fix for ONE of the two big barriers to doing that. Her fix also helps middle class kids. Lucky them! Why should a poor kid care? ..."
"... I think focusing on high income parents is a bit misleading. Yes the very poorest don't go to college, but plenty of kids from median income, and sub-median income, households do. And plenty of kids are graduating from college and getting jobs that don't pay particularly well, and probably will never pay brilliantly. ..."
"... Also once again: we target income inequality, not variation. We don't oppose a program because 30% of the population won't use it. If you're going to make that your yardstick for public investment then you should at least try to address the consequences for public funding of women's health, childcare, and indeed universal health coverage! ..."
May 11, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

nastywoman 05.07.19 at 6:30 am ( 52 )

@Christina.H
"Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the U.S".

"Having grown up in the US, Italy and Germany and gone to university in Germany -(for FREE) I very well understand -- that there are tuition supporters on the so called political left in the U.S. -- as firstly -- if you ever have grown up in a family where most of the members have such a emotional -(and funny) attachment to "their schools" -(and universities) -- as "them Anglo-Saxons" you very well understand that:

2. -- how far the so called "left" in the U.S. is -- concerning "being progressive" -- so "many moons" behind the European Left -- which get's illustrated by this what did Nia Psaka write: "one of those supposedly-left-but-actually-right arguments that I get so tired of."

Ben 2 05.07.19 at 2:56 pm ( 65 )
"Opportunity cost" is bearing a huge load in the argument, and it can't take the weight

Is there an opportunity cost in the sense that the US can't afford to do Warren's plan and also spend the same amount on prek-12 ? No.

Is there an opportunity cost politically? Also no. An administration that can create a new wealth tax ex nihilio to free wage slaves from debt bondage -- for this what this is -- is also an administration that can spend huge sums on prek-12 at the same time

We're left with an opportunity cost for airing policy ideas during a campaign. Here there *are* actual trade offs involved; attention / time is limited etc.

But, uh, a quarter of that wealth tax which pays the college plan goes toward establishing universal pre-k.

What we're left with is an argument that "Warren's proposal for universal prek and writing down college debt / cheap state college is crowding out talk during the campaign for increased k-12 spending"

Which rests on the assumptions 1) "a campaign which talks about universal prek / fixing college debt won't increase k-12 spending on the same scale once in power unless it's talked about during the campaign"

and

2) "the best way to get k-12 spending talked about during the campaign is to denigrate the fixing college debt proposal"

Neither of which, at least to me, is obvious or that coherent.

Contrast this with a shrewd political calculation for *not* mentioning massive k-12 funding increases during the campaign. It's a charged issue which cuts across usual infra-coalition groups, so the effect of bringing it up is complex and the positives are mitigated more than prek / college. And, as explored above, an admin which can do prek / college can also do k-12. (The Arne Duncan example cuts both ways; the 08 campaign wasn't caught over massive changes in fed education policy, but it still happened.)

Lastly, prek/fixing college debt are *overwhelmingly popular*. It's *tremendous political terrain to occupy*. It gets people used to spending huge sums of money on education, and it does so in a way that even non-brain-worked Republicans have to nod in agreement makes good fiscal sense.

Muddying those waters based on the dubious assumptions above, and ignoring the other political dynamics, seems unwise.

steven t johnson 05.07.19 at 3:46 pm ( 69 )
Somehow I thought the main topic of the OP was how Warren's plan would increase inequality, which still strikes me as highly dubious, especially as argued in the link. Apparently the real topic is supposed to be how funding public college tuition for all students increases inequality by diverting funds from primary education (and maybe secondary?)

I'm not convinced the implicit premise that a poor education is the main generator of inequality. I rather think lack of high-paying jobs, unemployment, inordinate rewards to owners of property, a multitude of secondary forms of exploitation such as higher prices for necessities in poor neighborhoods and so on, endlessly, have much more to do with that. Improvements to primary and secondary education like Warren's improvements to tertiary education, are a reform, of minor effect in the end as regards to reducing inequality.

Insofar as some colleges and universities graduate credentials more acceptable to the bosses, credentialism is not to be reformed by increasing funding to preK12 schooling. The fact that you can't say "a degree from a comprehensive regional university is worth as much as a degree from a public flagship" also reduces all benefit of education to simple monetary returns. Further, it abstracts from the benefits to social mobility in the lower ranks of society. Personally I think economic anxiety fuels status anxiety, that the prospect of no change or even descent goads people into seeking scapegoats who will be the historical ones.

In short, I tend to think the primary inequality in other words is in property.

Further the massive funding increases imagined as the alternative excluded by Warren will still have their effects undercut but a multitude of structural deficits. The lesser revenues from the poor districts are bad enough. Any reform that could help that would be desirable. But in the long run the suburbs need to be reintegrated into urban life, the elite need to be reintegrated into common life and those areas where social decay has rotted the fabric of society need to be rebuilt. And by the way, those rotted areas also include rural ones and deindustrialized ones as well as inner cities.

Matt 05.07.19 at 8:49 pm ( 74 )
The break in the pipeline comes well before college. Poor neighborhoods have bad schools and rich neighborhoods have good schools, because they're locally funded. This is not to say that the cost of education from a state college is not a problem, but rather that there is a bigger problem which might be easily solved with a lot of money.

I think it's even harder than equalizing funding. According to Ballotpedia's analysis of spending in America's largest school districts , the Baltimore City Public School System actually spends more per student than the Palo Alto Unified School District. But it has a lower graduation rate and I suspect that their graduates would not fare well against the Palo Alto graduates on measures of academic skills. Comparisons like this are a right-wing favorite for showing that the "real" problem is not insufficient spending on students but actually unions, or bureaucracy, or big city corruption

I think that the problem is that some school districts have much harder jobs than others, because some students live desperate lives outside of school. Desperation among students is not uniformly distributed across school districts.

Some students start the school year prepared to acquire and apply academic knowledge from day 1. Some students start with a raft of unmet basic needs. Like food, shelter, and safety.

You can deliver more education-per-dollar if the schools just focus on education and medical services/psychological counseling/basic nutrition/law enforcement are well-handled elsewhere. That seems to me the greatest advantage of affluent school districts, charter schools, and schools in other developed nations: they don't have to compensate as often for overwhelming problems in their students' lives that come from outside the campus. Affluent districts also having newer books, more electives, and less crowded classrooms is just the icing on the cake.

steven t johnson 05.07.19 at 9:12 pm ( 75 )
Ben2@72 writes of "tools to resist " This would be one of the nonmonetary benefits to Warren's college reform excluded from Baum and Turner's presentation. It's one reason why I think the benefit of the college education to the lower income families isn't measured by the extra $7 700 higher (not highest, though,) income families would receive. But even solely in money terms, I still fancy that most under $35 000 families will find $2 300 makes a bigger difference in meeting necessities than the over $120 000 families will get from $11 000.

To quote from the link, again:
""'Free tuition' is the opposite of progressive policymaking
It's presented as leveling the playing field. It would worsen economic inequality."

Baum and Turner's essential criticism is about the money payments, discussed in a misleading way. Two working parents, both with an income about $60 000, would get maybe, at most, $11 000 in a year. IN US politics this is supposed to be middle class, but I think real middle class people own property (not a mortgage.) No, I don't think we're talking about Warren making the world more unequal.

Most of the other thrown in criticisms, like the different monetary values of credentials from regional comprehensive vs. public flagship, do indeed implicitly assume that educational inequality is a prime cause, if not the cause, of inequality. I still haven't followed the logic of how Warren's college reform makes this worse.

Warren's plan is a school voucher plan for that part of the school system that isn't free. Extra subsidies to some parents when there is a publicly provided alternative, as in primary and secondary education, does actually have the regressive effects wrongly claimed by Baum and Turner. Doing away with this bug in Warren's proposed college system could be resolved by price controls to equalize college tuitions, which requires public provision of schools in the long run to keep the system from collapsing, which to be effective would probably require in the long run some sort of industrial policy giving a better idea of labor needs. And that might end up giving students stipends to go into areas where anticipated needs are highest. Etc. Etc.

Chris (merian) W. 05.08.19 at 1:51 am ( 79 )
I think one of the reasons this policy proposal isn't discussed in these terms, and comes across as progressive, is that it is being framed not as higher education funding, but as debt relief.

And I think that the levels of debt that people get themselves into just for wanting an education in line with their interests and talents (even leaving aside the whole aspects of preparing for certain types of jobs) is, to me, a problem. As a first generation higher education graduate (from Europe, now living in the US) with no family money this sort of situation would have put me into even more of a state of permanent anxiety. College graduates of not even very long ago talk of times where you could finance a year of tuition at a solid state school by working through the summer. This time is very far from the realities of today, even in places where in-state tuition is considered "affordable" (as in the institution I consider my home).

As a matter of principle, an egalitarian society of the future that I'd want to help building would in fact contain free or inexpensive access to any level of education, at a high base standard of quality. Like, every school is a good school, there is a mechanism for tackling exceptions, and everyone can access whatever level of basic education or fundamental vocational training without having to pay for it in major financial hardship. (There are of course many ways to implement such a system.)

I'm not really fundamentally feeling much in conflict with Harry's argument, though, because OF COURSE PreK-12 has the bigger impact for fighting inequality. So we'd disagree about priorities, mostly. (I hope, because I hope that inexpensive access to tertiary and non-tertiary post-secondary education is also something Harry subscribes to.)

A twist, though, is that I'm not sure it's only money that K-12 is missing. Sure, there are means-starved districts that first and foremost need MONEY. But others have, at least on an international scale, a lot of funding, but it doesn't lead to good educational outcomes. The reasons for this are myriad: For good outcome, you also need high-quality curricula, teaching being a valued profession, and students who are psychologically and physically in a position to focus on learning. Schools alone can't heal traumatized communities. So much as I will always join the cries for more funds for education, it would be a mistake to think you can just throw money at the problem, at least not through the channels that money has been used traditionally.

faustusnotes 05.08.19 at 5:09 am ( 81 )
I'm surprised at the number of people on this thread who seem to think the purpose of free university education is to help lift people out of poverty. How many times do you have to be shown that this upward mobility thing is a Ponzi scheme? The goal of free education is to ensure that poor people can get access to the same things rich people can, so that everyone is able to live a fulfilling life.

Also I'm surprised at the number of people who, after the last 30 years of vicious anti-poor rhetoric from the right and from "centrists" (i.e. crypto-rightists), still think it's a good idea to propose programs that target only the very poor through tight means testing. Yes, they are ultimately more "progressive" since they definitely help the poor more than those on middle incomes. They are also extremely vulnerable to political attack because the majority of the population doesn't benefit from them.

I mean, does anyone on here seriously think that if the UK National Health Service (NHS) were designed only to benefit people on welfare, it would still be around now after Thatcher? The only thing that stopped her from completely killing it was the fact that her own constituency depended on it.

Also, imagine someone in the Labour left in 1944, talking like Harry (and others) about the NHS: saying that this universal health coverage thing is not progressive because middle class people would also benefit. They would be laughed out of the party room. It's madness to talk this way. If something -- education, healthcare, transportation, environmental protection -- is a public good you fund it publicly so everyone can afford it and access it, and then no matter how much the rich and their centrist shills may hate it, they'll never be able to cancel it.

Mrmister 05.08.19 at 1:32 pm ( 84 )
Harry @82 -- my understanding is that while the NHS has improved health outcomes for everyone, it has also (counter-intuitively) increased health inequality. More affluent people are better able to take advantage of healthcare. The interventions which tend to reduce health inequality are things like clean water and closing the sewers, not universal access to care.

This is also part of why I think an absolute prioritarian/progressivism is misguided. Beyond the working poor who were helped by the NHS, just less than the middle and upper classes were, the genuinely worst off people are another group entirely: the mentally ill, homeless, addicted, those trapped in domestic violence and sex trafficking, etc. They will often fail to benefit from even generally downward distribution programs because the problems with reaching and helping them are technical and complex. But we should not wait on the problems resolution or, worse yet, political resolution before pursuing other moderate forms of downward distribution aimed at helping eg the working poor.

With respect to Warren's proposal, it is not maximally progressive but is more progressive than the status quo and additionally strikes me as an excellent way to convince lower middle through upper class people that they, too, are part of the Great Society, which is important given that their political influence is considerable. People still wax nostalgic about the days that a tradesman's kid could go to a flagship state school on summer job money and enter into the professional world -- despite the fact that a tradesman's kid, and presumably bright, is far from the worst off, that still seems worth bringing back.

TM 05.08.19 at 1:45 pm ( 85 )
Isn't it true that the wealthy can get substantial tax reductions by deducting educational expenses, and those deductions are higher the wealthier the parents and the more expenses their education? If I understand correctly, those tax savings need to be counted against the benefits that would accrue to the wealthy.

I studied at University in Germany on a means tested benefit (for living expenses -- remember there was and is no tuition) which unfortunately was converted to a repayable grant in the 1980s and later to 50% repayable. Wealthy parents of students could actually get higher benefits from tax deductions than the poor students could get from this program. I wouldn't have begrudged the affluent kids the same benefit that I enjoyed -- in fact I felt it was unfair that they had to depend on their parents while I was entitled to my own money (*). But I think it exceedingly unfair that their parents could get those tax deductions. Best would be to raise the taxes and fund a living wage for all.

(*) Under German law, students can sue their parents if they have the means but refuse to fund an adequate education. But of course you would rather not sue your parents.

Faustusnotes 05.08.19 at 2:21 pm ( 87 )
Mrmister is wrong, the NHS helped all people in Britain including the very poor.

Harry, I don't get your response. Are you trying to say that free education only helps the most educated? This is true in the trivial sense that it only helps people who can qualify for university. Similarly free cancer care only helps those with cancer! What of it? Unless you think anyone who wants to go to university should be allowed in, this is irrelevant. Perhaps you're trying to imply that warrens proposal only helps the wealthy because only the wealthy get good high school? Well yes, and the nhs gave better health outcomes to wealthier people and non-smokers, so what? That's not an argument against making it universal, it's an argument for banning smoking. You shouldn't conflate the problems in high school funding with university funding, because the upshot of that is that the few poor kids (of whom I am one) who manage to fight free of our shit high school education have done it for nothing because we can't get into uni because it's too expensive. Yes it's better to do both! But as people above have observed it's hard for the federal govt to fix secondary education (fuck, they can't even stop school shootings!) So fix what you can and come back to the next stages later. America has sooooo many problems that it's madness to oppose fixing the ones you can because some people who are benefiting from an inequality the federal govt can't fix will benefit a little more from its efforts to fix the ones it can fix.

Poor children should be able to go to university. That's a simple statement of what is right. Warrens offering a fix for ONE of the two big barriers to doing that. Her fix also helps middle class kids. Lucky them! Why should a poor kid care?

Cian 05.08.19 at 3:27 pm ( 90 )
I think focusing on high income parents is a bit misleading. Yes the very poorest don't go to college, but plenty of kids from median income, and sub-median income, households do. And plenty of kids are graduating from college and getting jobs that don't pay particularly well, and probably will never pay brilliantly.

Secondly there is the way that college has increased very rapidly in the past 10 years, mostly at the state level. There are a range of reasons for this, but a generation of students have been forced to pay more money than previous generations for higher education, during a period when college education is becoming necessary for a wider range of jobs.

Thirdly there is the debt element. Not only is student debt becoming a more and more significant problem (affecting career choices and the economy), but the way that students are unable to escape it even into bankruptcy is an outrage.

I don't particularly care if wealthier parents also benefit from this. The solution would seem to be to tax them more. And one could also craft this in ways which would be less helpful to them (for example focus solely on state colleges and remove tax savings for education).

I also think we should spend more on K-12 schooling, preschool and a range of other things. I don't see these two things as particularly incompatible. The advantage of this policy is (like healthcare) is that it is good politics as it would have a quick and measurable impact, which would build political credibility (which could then be used for tougher fights, like increased taxation for education, infrastructure, transport, etc). There was an interesting interview with one of Corbyn's ex-advisors recently, who pointed out that you can't just raise taxes immediately. Instead you have to build people's trust that taxes will be used in ways that benefit them, and that will then change the way people think about taxes. This is one way to change that conversation.

You also need to be careful interpreting recent studies like those by Dixon et al (I used to work with Anna and I know the context of her studies). The NHS has gone backward since the end of the Labour government, and a lot of studies published in the last 10 years are actually showing the consequence of Tory attacks on the system, not the long-term outcomes of the NHS as a whole. Also the NHS was massively underfunded relative to European systems during the Thatcher era, and that has long-term implications for the structure of the system and its effects on inequality, which New Labour was not in power long enough to reverse.

Harry I think this is important:

Warren or any other President in the near future is going to do more than one big thing altogether, let alone in education, and I want people to take seriously the opportunity cost of this being the one big thing in education.

But I think you're underestimating how transformative the end of student debt will be for a lot of poor people. And given that a lot of the other strategies you identify are not feasible for the federal government (due to the states), I think you overstate this issue in this case.

David J. Littleboy 05.10.19 at 6:38 am ( 111 )
The problem with "vouchers" in a K-12 context is that they are used to steal funding from public schools and give it to private and/or religious schools. They're a scam. If you are doing vouchers for public college, they don't have that problem. (Leo Casey has this right.)

Also, on means testing. I think that means testing is largely a bad idea. If you are funding things from a progressive income tax, then the very rich are getting much less back than they are putting in, and that's fine. Also, it's easy for means testing to be made demeaning to recipients of the aid. If everyone gets and has to use vouchers*, that can't happen. Also, implementing means testing isn't free, and a lot of the time, it'll cost as much as it saves. And finally, if you can force rich folks to declare the benefit as income, you can tame much of it back in taxes (this works great for the sort of childbearing encouragement programs the Japanese ought to be implementing, i.e. direct, generous, flat rate (same amount for any child) child support payments to everyone who has a child.)

*: In my fantasy world here, the vouchers are more of payments to the schools for educating people than benefits to the students. Sort of like how Obamacare only pays insurers if they actually pay for medical care. (Obamacare is way more wonderful than you think.)

TM 05.10.19 at 9:52 am ( 113 )
TJ 93: "There are some tax breaks available, but these income out for a couple at earned income of around $230,000"

Can you tell us how much in annual college cost an affluent family could at the most deduct? And is it restricted to tuition? Until what age do the parents get a dependent deduction for a child in college and how much does it save them in taxes?

I don't know the details of the plan discussed here but if it is true that the parents can save taxes by having a child in college/uni (as is the case in Germany) then it would seem fair to me to publicly fund the college expenses for everybody while at the same time denying affluent parents the deduction (as is not the case in Germany).

Collin Street 05.11.19 at 12:04 am ( 117 )
Also, on means testing. I think that means testing is largely a bad idea.

Means testing for education specifically is a problem because basically nobody has "means" when they're twenty. [and absolutely nobody has means when they're fifteen]. Practically when people say means-testing here they mean -- although they may not recognise it or admit it -- parental means testing, and

Remember: the core of opposition to welfare is that it weakens dependence on rich relatives and other patronage networks, and thus reduces the ability of abusers to find people willing to subject themselves to abuse. Because education and student means-testing effectively means parental means-testing, a means-testing framework basically eliminates the children-of-the-rich -- a-fortiori the children-of-rich-abusers -- from protection. Of course the abusers are OK with means-tested welfare here, it leaves their targets unprotected. [see slavery: more expensive and lower productivity than free labour, but you can rape people and beat them to death, which some find more attractive than money, enough to fight a war over.]

[which is to say: if you make a model of right-wing thinking that supposes the sole motivation of right-wingers is to emotionally and physically abuse people and to create spaces and situations where that can happen, you get something that's like 90% accurate to what the actual right actually propose and implement. I mean, slavery! Free workers are more productive and cost about the same or less [lower overheads through savings in chains] but you can't rape them or beat them to death and that was worth fighting a war over.]

[I did once consider an education voucher that was structured with a taper like some welfare payments: for every extra dollar put in by the parents/holder, the voucher goes down fifty cents ]

[vouchers rely on individual selection, of course, and there are well-known problems with quality guarantees here with education, given the long timeframes and &c]

[the thought just struck me that the education and professional-development elements of employment -- which have to be hugely important if we're not doing lifetime jobs -- are also underserved by market self-regulation ]

Faustusnotes 05.11.19 at 1:32 am ( 118 )
Harry, what is this? You say it's means tested and you also say it doesn't help the poor. Are you saying warrens plan is means tested to ensure it only goes to the wealthy? Because that doesn't seem likely to me.

Also once again: we target income inequality, not variation. We don't oppose a program because 30% of the population won't use it. If you're going to make that your yardstick for public investment then you should at least try to address the consequences for public funding of women's health, childcare, and indeed universal health coverage!

nastywoman 05.11.19 at 3:06 pm ( 122 )
@
"I want the most talented kids taking the course they're most suited for."

Me too -- and as "Free Public Education" in "Civilised Western Democracies" wants exactly the same thing -- there is no reason -- for anybody -- to support any kind of educational system which depends on "privatized" -- aka "privately financed" education" -- as it allows "Rich kids --
even if they are NOT the most talented --
to become doctors and vets".

So "the most talented kids" should become doctors and vets -- Right? -- And they only can become doctors and vets -- if they don't have to buy themselves into becoming doctors and vets.

Right?

As buying yourself -(without talent) into "better education" -- (of whatever level) -- is only possible in a society where school kids and students have to pay for their education.

Right?

It's like currently trying to get a Green Card for my homeland -(or a permit to reside in the UK) You can buy it with absolutely NO talent.

Or in other words: That's why (civilised and social) countries like France -(or Germany) never will go back to any type of education where -- YOUR -(or your families) dough matters MORE -- than your talent.

One of the major ("policies"?) in fighting inequality!

And could this comment please be posted?

[May 11, 2019] Is Warren's college plan progressive -- Crooked Timber

Notable quotes:
"... It's not obvious to me that universal access to college education is a progressive goal. ..."
"... I think it is extremely important to understand where Warren is coming from on this. Warren initially became active in politics because she recognized the pernicious nature of debt and the impact it had on well-being. I ..."
"... Warren's emphasis in this particular initiative, it seems to me, is to alleviate debt so that individuals can pursue more advanced functionings/capabilities. ..."
"... The more a college degree is the norm, the worse things are for people without one. Making it easier to get a college degree increases the degree to which its the norm, and will almost inevitably have the same impact on the value of a college degree as the growth in high-school attendance (noted by Sam Tobin-Hochstadt above) had on the value of a high school degree. ..."
"... The debate on this subject strikes me as misguided because it says nothing about what students learn. A good high school education should be enough to prepare young people for most kinds of work. In most jobs, even those allegedly requiring college degrees, the way people learn most of what they need to know is through on the job training. Many high school graduates have not received a good education, though, and go to college as, in effect, remedial high school. ..."
May 11, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Is Warren's college plan progressive?

by Harry on May 6, 2019 Ganesh Sitaraman argues in the Garun that, contrary to appearances, and contrary to the criticism that it has earned, Elizabeth Warren's college plan really is progressive, because it is funded by taxation that comes exclusively from a wealth tax on those with more than $50 million in assets. Its progressive, he says, because it redistributes down. In some technical sense perhaps he's right.

But this, quite odd, argument caught my eye:

But the critics at times also suggest that if any significant amount of benefits go to middle-class or upper-middle class people, then the plan is also not progressive. This is where things get confusing. The critics can't mean this in a specific sense because the plan is, as I have said, extremely progressive in the distribution of costs. They must mean that for any policy to be progressive that it must benefit the poor and working class more than it benefits the middle and upper classes. T his is a bizarre and, I think, fundamentally incorrect use of the term progressive .

The logic of the critics' position is that public investments in programs that help everyone, including middle- and upper-class people, aren't progressive. This means that the critics would have to oppose public parks and public K-12 education, public swimming pools and public basketball courts, even public libraries. These are all public options that offer universal access at a low (or free) price to everyone.

But the problem isn't that the wealthy get to benefit from tuition free college. I don't think anyone objects to that. Rather, the more affluent someone is, on average, the more they benefit from the plan. This is a general feature of tuition-free college plans and it is built into the design. Sandy Baum and Sarah Turner explain:

But in general, the plans make up the difference between financial aid -- such as the Pell Grant and need-based aid provided by states -- and the published price of public colleges. This means the largest rewards go to students who do not qualify for financial aid. In plans that include four-year colleges, the largest benefits go to students at the most expensive four-year institutions. Such schools enroll a greater proportion of well-heeled students, who have had better opportunities at the K-12 level than their peers at either two-year colleges or less-selective four-year schools. (Flagship institutions have more resources per student, too.) .

For a clearer picture of how regressive these policies are, consider how net tuition -- again, that's what most free-tuition plans cover -- varies among students at different income levels at four-year institutions. For those with incomes less than $35,000, average net tuition was $2,300 in 2015-16; for students from families with incomes between $35,000 and $70,000, it was $4,800; for those between $70,000 and $120,000, it was $8,100; and finally, for families with incomes higher than $120,000, it was more than $11,000. (These figures don't include living expenses.)

Many low-income students receive enough aid from sources like the Pell Grant to cover their tuition and fees. At community colleges nationally, for example, among students from families with incomes less than $35,000, 81 percent already pay no net tuition after accounting for federal, state and institutional grant aid, according to survey data for 2015-16. At four-year publics, almost 60 percent of these low-income students pay nothing.

... ...

.


Mike Huben 05.06.19 at 1:16 pm ( 1 )

If you take progressivism to mean "improvement of society by reform", Warren's plan is clearly progressive. It reduces the pie going to the rich, greatly improves the lot of students who are less than rich, and doesn't harm the poor.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

nastywoman 05.06.19 at 1:37 pm ( 2 )
@
"Is Warren's college plan progressive"?

Who cares – as long as this plan -(and hopefully an even more extended plan) puts an end to a big part of the insanity of the (stupid and greedy) US education system?

In other words – let's call it "conservative" that might help to have it passed!

Trader Joe 05.06.19 at 1:49 pm ( 3 )
The difficulty with the plan as proposed is not whether it is progressive or not but that it targets the wrong behavior – borrowing for education. If the goal is to make education more accessible – subsidize the university directly to either facilitate point of admission grants in the first place or simply bring down tuition cost to all attendees.

Under this proposal (assuming one thinks Warren would win and it could get passed) the maximizing strategy is to borrow as much as one possibly can with the hope/expectation that it would ultimately be forgiven. If that's the "right" strategy, then it would benefit those with the greatest borrowing capacity which most certainly is not students from low income families but is in fact families which could probably pay most of the cost themselves but would choose not to in order to capture a benefit they couldn't access directly by virtue of being 'too rich' for grants or other direct aid.

L2P 05.06.19 at 1:50 pm ( 4 )
"Rather, the more affluent someone is, on average, the more they benefit from the plan. "

This doesn't seem like a fair description of what's going on. If Starbucks gives a free muffin to everyone who buys a latte, it's theoretically helping the rich more than the poor under this way of looking at things. The rich can afford the muffin; the poor can't. So the rich will get more free muffins. But the rich don't give a crap. They can easily just buy the damn muffin in the first place. They're not really being helped, because the whole damn system helps them already. They're just about as well off with or without the free muffin.

Same here. My kid's going to Stanford. I'm effin rich and I don't give a crap about financial aid. If it was free I'd have an extra 75k a year, but how many Tesla's do I need really? How many houses in Hawaii do I need? But when I was a kid I was lower middle class. I didn't even apply to Stanford because it was just too much. Yeah, I could have gone rotc or gotten aid, but my parents just couldn't bust out their contribution. Stanford just wasn't in the cards. And Stanford's a terrible example, it had needs blind admissions and can afford to just give money away if it wants.

This sort of analysis is one step above bullshit.

bianca steele 05.06.19 at 2:02 pm ( 5 )
I don't understand the fear, in certain areas of what's apparently the left, of giving benefits to people in the middle of the income/wealth curve.

The expansion of the term "middle class" doesn't help with this, nor does the expansion of education. These debates often sound as if some of the participants think of "middle class" as the children of physicians and attorneys, who moreover are compensated the way they were in the 1950s.

The ability to switch between "it's reasonable to have 100% college attendance within 5 years from now" and "of course college is only for the elite classes" is not reassuring to the average more or less educated observer (who may or may not be satisfied, depending on temperament and so on, with the answer that of course such matters are above her head).

Ben 05.06.19 at 2:12 pm ( 7 )
The actual plan is for free tuition at public colleges. So not "the most expensive four-year institutions" that Baum and Turner discuss. [HB: they're referring to the most expensive 4-year public institutions]

There's also expanded support for non-tuition expenses, means-tested debt cancellation, and a fund for historically black universities, all of which make the plan more progressive. And beyond that, I could argue that, for lower-income students on the margin of being able to attend and complete school, we should count not only the direct financial aid granted, but also the lifetime benefits of the education the aid enables. But suffice it to say, I think you're attacking a caricature.

Dave 05.06.19 at 2:17 pm ( 9 )
the college plan does not actually offer 'universal access'

Given that something like one third of Americans gets a college degree, Warren's plan seems good enough. It's not obvious to me that universal access to college education is a progressive goal.

Michael Glassman 05.06.19 at 3:46 pm ( 16 )
I think it is extremely important to understand where Warren is coming from on this. Warren initially became active in politics because she recognized the pernicious nature of debt and the impact it had on well-being. If you are trying to get out from under the burden of debt your capabilities for flourishing are severely restricted, and these restrictions can easily become generational. One of the more difficult debts that people are facing are student debts. This was made especially difficult by the 2005 bankruptcy bill which made it close to impossible for individuals to get out from under student debt by entering in to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Warren's emphasis in this particular initiative, it seems to me, is to alleviate debt so that individuals can pursue more advanced functionings/capabilities. So if you think that the definition of progressive is creating situations where more individuals in a society are given greater opportunities for flourishing then the plan does strike me as progressive (an Aristotelian interpretation of Dewey such as promoted by Nussbaum might fall in this direction). There is another issue however that might be closer to the idea of helping those from lowest social strata, something that is not being discussed near enough. Internet technologies helped to promote online for profit universities which has (and I suppose continues to) prey and those most desperate to escape poverty with limited resources. The largest part of their organizations are administrators who help students to secure loans with promises of high paying jobs once they complete their degrees. These places really do prey on the most vulnerable (homeless youth for instance) and they bait individuals with hope in to incurring extremely high debt. The loan companies are fine with this I am guess because of the bankruptcy act (they can follow them for life). This is also not regulated (I think you can thank Kaplan/Washington Post for that). Warren's initiative would help them get out from under debt immediately and kick start their life.

I agree k-12 is more important, but it is also far more complicated. This plan is like a shot of adrenaline into the social blood stream and it might not even be necessary in a few years. I think it dangerous to make the good the enemy or the perfect, or the perfect the critic of the good.

nastywoman 05.06.19 at 5:28 pm ( 22 )
– and how cynical does one have to be – to redefine a plan canceling the vast majority of outstanding student loan debt – as some kind of ("NON-progressive") present for "the rich"?
Sam Tobin-Hochstadt 05.06.19 at 5:59 pm ( 25 )
I think this work by Susan Dynarski and others really makes the case that reducing price will change access and populations significantly: https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-U-of-Michigan-Appealed-to/245294

But even apart from that, the argument of the post seems like it would suggest that many things that we currently fund publicly are not progressive in a problematic way. Everything from arts to national parks to math research "benefits" the rich more than the poor. There's possibly a case that public provision of these goods is problematic when we as a society could spend that money on those who are more disadvantaged. But that's a very strong claim and implicates far more than free college.

Finally, it's worth comparing the previous major expansion of education in the US. The point at which high school attendance was as widespread as college attendance is now (about 70% of high school graduates enroll in college of some form right away) was around 1930, well after universal free high school was available. I think moving to universal free college is an important step to raise those rates, just as free high school was.

Leo Casey 05.06.19 at 7:31 pm ( 29 )
It strikes me that the argument made here against a universal program of tuition free college is not all that different than an argument made against social security -- that the benefits go disproportionately to middle class and professional class individuals. Since in the case of Social Security, one has to be in gainfully employed to participate and one's benefits are, up to a cap, based on one's contributions, middle class and professional class individuals receive greater benefits. Poor individuals, including those who have not been employed for long periods of time, receive less benefits. (There are quirks in this 10 second summary, such as disability benefits, but not so much as to alter this basic functioning.)

Every now and again, there are proposals to "means test" social security, using this functioning as the reasoning. A couple of points are worth considering.

First, it is the universality of social security that makes it a political 'third rail,' such that no matter how it would like to do away with such a 'socialist' program, the GOP never acts on proposals to privatize it, even when they have the Presidency and the majorities that would allow it to get through Congress. The universality thus provides a vital security to the benefits that poor and working people receive from the program, since it makes it politically impossible to take it away. Since social security is often the only pension that many poor and working people get (unlike middle class and professional class individuals who have other sources of retirement income), the loss of it would be far more devastating to them. There is an important way, therefore, that they are served by the current configuration of the system, even given its skewing.

Second, and following from the above, it is important to recognize that the great bulk of proposals to "means test" Social Security come from the libertarian right, not the left, and that they are designed to undercut the support for Social Security, in order to make its privatization politically viable.

Most colleges and universities "means test" financial aid for their students, which is one of the reasons why it is generally inadequate and heavily weighted toward loans as opposed to grants. I think it is a fair generalization of American social welfare experience history to say that "means tested" programs are both more vulnerable politically (think of the Reagan 'welfare queen' narrative) and more poorly funded than universal programs.

There are additional argument about the skewing of Social Security benefits, such as the fact that they go disproportionately to the elderly, while those currently living in poverty are disproportionately children. This argument mistakes the positive effects of the program -- before Social Security and Medicare the elderly were the most impoverished -- for an inegalitarian design element.

The solution to the fact that children bear the brunt of poverty in the US is not to undermine the program that has lifted the elderly out of poverty but to institute programs that address the problem of childhood poverty. Universal quality day care, for example, provides the greatest immediate economic benefits to middle class and professional class families who are now paying for such services, but it provides poor and working class kids with an education 'head start' that would otherwise go only to the children of those families that could afford to pay for it. And insofar as day care is provided, it makes it easier for poor and working class parents (often in one parent households) to obtain decent employment.

So the failings of universal programs are best addressed, I would argue, by filling in the gaps with more universal programs, not 'means testing' them.

To the extent that Warren's 'free tuition' proposal addresses only some of the financial disadvantages of poor and working people obtaining a college education, the response should not be "oh, this is not progressive," but what do we do to address the other issues, such as living expenses. It is not as if there are no models on how to do this. All we need to do is look at Nordic countries that provide post-secondary students both free tuition and living expenses.

christian h. 05.06.19 at 9:15 pm ( 31 )
Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the U.S. It's true that free college isn't universal in the same sense free K-12 education is. But neither are libraries (they exclude those who are functionally illiterate completely, and their services surely go mostly to upper middle class people who have opportunity and education to read regularly), for example. Neither are roads – the poor overwhelmingly live in inner cities, often take public transport – it's middle class suburbanites that mostly profit. Speaking of public transport, I assume Henry opposes rail; it is very middle class, the poor use buses. (The last argument actually has considerable traction in Los Angeles, it's not completely far fetched.)
SamChevre 05.06.19 at 11:57 pm ( 40 )
I agree that Warren's free college and debt forgiveness plans would not be very progressive, but I'd propose that I think the dynamic mechanism built in would make it worse than a static analysis shows.

(Note that most of my siblings and in-laws do not have college degrees; this perspective is based on my own observations.)

The more a college degree is the norm, the worse things are for people without one. Making it easier to get a college degree increases the degree to which its the norm, and will almost inevitably have the same impact on the value of a college degree as the growth in high-school attendance (noted by Sam Tobin-Hochstadt above) had on the value of a high school degree. (We're already seeing this: many positions that used to require a college degree now require a specific degree, or a masters degree.) This will increase age discrimination, and further worsen the position of the people for whom college is unattractive for reasons other than money.

To give a particular example of a mechanism (idiosyncratic, but one I know specifically). Until a couple decades ago, getting a KY electrician's license required 4 years experience under a licensed electrician, and passing the code test. Then the system changed; now it requires a 2-year degree and 2 years experience, OR 8 years experience. This was great for colleges. The working electricians don't think the new electricians are better prepared as they used to be, but all of a sudden people who don't find sitting in a classroom for an additional 2 years attractive are hugely disadvantaged. Another example would be nursing licenses; talk to any older LPN and you'll get an earful about how LPN's are devalued as RNs and BSNs have become the norm.

Dr. Hilarius 05.07.19 at 12:39 am ( 42 )
I suspect tuition reform will be complex, difficult and subject to gaming. Being simple minded I offer an inadequate but simple palliative. Make student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. You can max out your credit cards on cars, clothes, booze or whatever and be able to discharge these debts but not for higher education. The inability to even threaten bankruptcy gives all the power to collection companies. Students have no leverage at all. The threat of bankruptcy would allow for negotiated reductions in principal as well as payments.

Bankruptcy does carry a lot of negative consequences so it would offset the likely objections about moral hazards, blah, blah. I would also favor an additional method of discharging student debt. If your debt is to a for-profit school that can't meet some minimum standards for student employment in their field of study then total discharge without the need for bankruptcy. For-profit vocational schools intensively target low income and minority students without providing significant value for money.

John Quiggin 05.07.19 at 1:44 am ( 44 )
Progressivity looks much better if the program sticks to free community college, at least until there is universal access to 4-year schools. That's what Tennessee did (IIRC the only example that is actually operational).
Gabriel 05.07.19 at 3:03 am ( 47 )
Harry: it doesn't seem as if you responded to my comment. I'll try again.

1. A policy is progressive if it is redistributive.
2. Warren's plan is redistributive.
3. Thus, Warren's plan is progressive.

Comments about how effective the redistribution is are fine, but to claim a non-ideal distribution framework invalidates the program's claims to being progressive seems spurious. And I don't think this definition of progressive is somehow wildly ideosyncratic.

Nia Psaka 05.07.19 at 4:01 am ( 48 )
To whine that free college is somehow not progressive because not everyone will go to college is a ridiculous argument, one of those supposedly-left-but-actually-right arguments that I get so tired of. To assume that the class makeup of matriculators will be unchanged with free college is to discount knock-on effects. This is a weird, weird post. I guess I'm going back to ignoring this site.
Kurt Schuler 05.07.19 at 4:04 am ( 49 )
The debate on this subject strikes me as misguided because it says nothing about what students learn. A good high school education should be enough to prepare young people for most kinds of work. In most jobs, even those allegedly requiring college degrees, the way people learn most of what they need to know is through on the job training. Many high school graduates have not received a good education, though, and go to college as, in effect, remedial high school.

Readers who attended an average American high school, as I did long ago, will know that there are certain students, especially boys, who are itching to be done with school. It is far more productive to give them a decent high school education and have them start working than to tell them they need another two to four years of what to them is pointless rigamarole.

Rather than extending the years of education, I would reduce the high school graduation age to 17 and reduce summer vacations by four weeks, so that a 17 year old would graduate with as many weeks of schooling as an 18 year old now. (Teachers would get correspondingly higher pay, which should make them happy.)

Harry Truman never went to college. John Major became a banker and later prime minister of Britain without doing so. Neither performed noticeably worse than their college-educated peers. If a college education is not necessary to rise to the highest office in the land, why is it necessary for lesser employment except in a few specialized areas?

An experiment that I would like to see tried is to bring back the federal civil service exam, allowing applicants without college degrees who score high enough to enter U.S. government jobs currently reserved for those with college degrees.

[May 11, 2019] Leaked USA s Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela. ..."
"... Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ... ..."
"... intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ... ..."
"... Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ... ..."
"... To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ... ..."
"... Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government." ..."
May 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Leaked: USA's Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/05/2019 - 11:20 2 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via Off-Guardian.org,

A detailed plan from "UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND" dated "23 FEBRUARY 2018" was issued with the title "PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP 'MASTERSTROKE'" and is here presented complete.

This document was personally signed by Admiral Kurt W. Tidd , who was the Commander (the chief), at SOUTHCOM , and he was thus the top U.S. military official handling Venezuela. But this was far more than just a military plan.

It was comprehensive -- directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies -- regarding the Trump Administration's planned "Overthrow" of Venezuela's Government. His plan has since guided the Administration's entire operation, including "the capacities of the psychological war," regarding Venezuela.

It instructed SOUTHCOM:

Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises." ...

intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures." ...

Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population." ... compelling him to fall into mistakes that generate greater distrust and rejection domestically" ...

To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba." ...

Appealing to domestic allies as well as other people inserted from abroad in the national scenario in order to generate protests, riots and insecurity, plunders, thefts, assaults and highjacking of vessels as well as other means of transportation, with the intention of deserting this country in crisis through all borderlands and other possible ways, jeopardizing in such a way the National Security of neighboring frontier nations. Causing victims and holding the Government responsible for them. Magnifying, in front of the world, the humanitarian crisis in which the country has been submitted to."

Structuring a plan to get the profuse desertion of the most qualified professionals from the country, in order 'to leave it with no professionals at all', which will aggravate even more the internal situation and along these lines putting the blame on of Government."

the presence of combat units from the United States of America and the other named countries, under the command of a Joint General Staff led by the USA."

It was posted online at the Voltairenet site , and was first copied to a web archive on 14 May 2018 . So, it has been online since at least that date. However, because the photo in it of the document wasn't made available via software which includes the individual symbols, but presented only the full visual image of the paper document, it still hasn't yet gone viral on the Web.

Here, therefore, is the first appearance, on the Web, of the full document, that's manually copied, character-by-character, so that each phrase in this document becomes, for the first time, web-searchable, and thereby conveniently available for journalists and historians to quote from.

This prophetic document -- the source for what has happened afterward in and to Venezuela -- might therefore finally receive the public attention that it so clearly merits.

The document starts with propaganda against Venezuela's existing Government (and it totally ignores the extent to which the pre-existing U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela had actually caused these problems ), and it then proceeds to present the U.S. plan to overthrow the 'dictatorship'. (Tidd refers to Maduro only as "the Dictator," except at the very start and very end.

At the end, he commands "the denouncement toward Maduro's regimen" and he also uses the phrase "the enemy" to refer to him -- as if there had been the U.S. Constitutionally required authorization, by the U.S. Congress, of this "war." The close urges "the dispatch of a UNO military force for the imposition of peace, once Nicolas Maduro's corrupt dictatorship is defeated." The U.N. is militarily to "impose" "peace," after the U.S. and its allies have conquered Venezuela.)

Although Tidd placed 100% of the blame for Venezuela's problems upon Maduro, and ignored the crucial extent to which U.S. economic sanctions had caused them, his plan emphasized that the U.S. must actively make things even worse for the Venezuelan public than America's economic sanctions had yet done.

His coup-plan is loaded with such statements, and, in fact, opens with one:

"Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises."

So: he wasn't naive. America's induced suffering upon Venezuelans was part of his plan for Venezuelans, in order to get them to do what the U.S. regime wants them to do -- overthrow Maduro. Furthermore, the United States Government has had extensive successes in previous such operations. One example is that this was how Chile's Salvador Allende was brought down in 1973 (at a time when the U.S. Government's claims to have done it for 'national security' reasons had much more credibility than its current excuse of helping the Venezuelan people does, because the supposedly ideological Cold War was still on).

The only excuse that the perpetrators can come up with, this time around, is "to put an end to the Venezuelan nightmare and the awakening of theirs beloved nation at a luminous dawn, in which the vision of fortune, true peace and tranquility predominate for their fellow citizens."

Impoverish the nation, in order to help Venezuelans attain "true peace and tranquility." That's the plan.

Here is the document's entire text:

SOUTHCOM
TOP SECRET
23 FEB 2018

PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP "MASTERSTROKE"

UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND 23 FEBRUARY 2018

TOP SECRET/20180223

CURRENT SITUATION

The Venezuelan Chavista dictatorship staggers as a result of its frequent internal problems; there is a great shortage of foodstuffs, an exhaustion of the sources of foreign currency and a rampant corruption. The international support, won with petrodollars, becomes scarcer each time and the purchasing power of its national currency is in a constant downfall.

Such scenario is not supposed to change, but the Venezuelan present-day leaders, as they usually do, in their despair to preserve their power, are capable to appeal to new populist measures that perpetuate their positions of privilege; the only mechanism that sustains them obstinate to the struggle to hold on their positions.

Maduro's corrupt regimen will collapse but regrettably, the divided opposing forces, legitimate defenders of democracy and the well-being of their people, do not have power enough to put an end to the Venezuelan nightmare and the awakening of theirs beloved nation at a luminous dawn, in which the vision of fortune, true peace and tranquility predominate for their fellow citizens.

The internal disputes, the supreme particular likings, the corruption similar to the one of their rivals, as well as the scarcity of rooting, do not grant them the opportunity to make the most of this situation and to give the necessary step to overturn the state of penury and precariousness in which the pressure group, that exercises the leftist dictatorship, has submerged the country. We are at the presence of an unprecedented criminal action in Latin America.

This affects the entire region, there is no respect to international right and local political alternatives are unacceptable.

Democracy spreads out in America, continent in which radical populism was intended to take over. Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil are examples of it. The rebirth of democracy has the support of the most valuable determinations, and the conditions in the regions run in its favour.

It is the time for the United States to prove, with concrete actions, that they are implicated in that process, where overthrowing Venezuelan dictatorship will surely mean a continental turning point.

It is the first opportunity of the Trump Administration to bring forward the vision in reference to security and democracy. Showing its active commitment is crucial, not only for the administration, but also for the continent and for the world.

The time has come to

Step to speed up the definite overthrow of Chavismo and the expulsion of its representative:

Undermining the decadent popular support to Government. Securing he the present-day dictator's irreversible deterioration Increasing the internal instability to a critical level. Using the army officers as an alternative of definite solution. Information Strategie

[signature]

K.W. TIDD

Admiral, USN

COMMANDER


WorkingClassMan , 9 minutes ago link

The US military learned their international terrorism activities from the best, the Mossad. This country is run (since at least Lincoln) by terrorists. Money stolen from us every year in the form of taxes used for ******** that destabilizes nations, destroys heritage and expands greater isn'treal.

All this and **** none of us even heard of yet...while our own borders remain wide open and our infrastructure crumbles.

Good use of money you ******* scum.

frankthecrank , 17 minutes ago link

It's fake. The military doesn't engage in such things, the spooks at the CIA do-along with the NSA. Just looking at that pic is humorous -- as if that's what they would title the document.

Gullible people.

fezline , 13 minutes ago link

Who is Gulible now??

https://documents.theblackvault.com/documents/jfk/northwoods.pdf

PeterLong , 9 minutes ago link

https://www.southcom.mil/Portals/7/Documents/Posture%20Statements/SOUTHCOM_2017_posture_statement_FINAL.pdf?ver=2017-04-06-105819-923

Joiningupthedots , 8 minutes ago link

The golden rule of finding yourself in a hole.......

STOP DIGGING!

gdpetti , 26 minutes ago link

BLah, blah, blah... in other words, the usual.... same as always... CIA's Crowley complained about these idiots after he retired... one example is the difference in Bush 1 and Bush Jr....

This plan is just the usual regime change script written about in many books... the only difference is how 'western' it is in targeting the mind of the masses... which only happens in 'democracies'.... real ones make you do that....

Wait till the puppets in DC really get frustrated... .and then see how frustrated their puppet masters get when their plans go awry as well... time is running out for both puppet and its master... Imagine being Putin and having to deal with these freaks.

mailll , 30 minutes ago link

I have a conspiracy theory. Since one of my theories is this: We want to gain control of Venezuela oil in order to secure oil imports coming into the US for when we attack Iran for the sake of Israel. The 22% of imports we get from the middle east, much of which comes from the Persian Gulf region, will be disrupted due to this war. And we would have a shortage here in the US along with skyrocketing oil prices. And we would surely bitch about it. But Venezuela oil will keep the oil coming into the US uninterrupted. And for those of you who believe we are energy independent, we are not. We use about 19 million barrels of oil per day, we produce about 12 million barrels per day, and we import about 6-7 million barrels of oil per day to help feed our craving for oil.

But to add to this conspiracy theory, I believe the window of opportunity is closing and the Zionists have to act quickly. So they will just say, OK, lets take Venezuela with our military and see how the world responds. We will never know until we try, so let's do it. And if it was a bad idea, don't worry boys, we are untouchable. We got away with it in Iraq, so let's do it again. Venezuela today, Iran tomorrow, and Israel always. They pay very well.

But this is just a conspiracy theory of mine, perhaps even a foolish one.

[May 10, 2019] Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Propose 15% Cap On Credit Card Rates; Visa, MC Tumble

May 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Propose 15% Cap On Credit Card Rates; Visa, MC Tumble

by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:37 3 SHARES

America's revolution to a socialist, government-planned society complete with reserve currency helicopter money also known as "MMT", may or may not be successful but it certainly will be attempted, and every moment will be not only televised but also tweeted.

On Thursday morning, Visa and MasterCard tumbled after the democratic party's "progressive" socialist wing consisting of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, announced they would introduce legislation on Thursday to cap credit card interest rates at 15%, a sharp drop from current levels . The proposal follows not long after AOC also proposed the "Green New Deal" - which among its various policy proposals urged to give a generous and recurring cash handout to any and every American, regardless if they work or not, and which according to analysts would cost the US as much as $100 trillion over the next several years.

In addition to a 15% federal cap on interest rates, states could establish their own lower limits, under the legislation.

Sanders, the socialist Vermont senator running for the Democratic nomination for president, told the WaPo in an interview that a decade after taxpayers bailed out big banks, the industry is taking advantage of the public by charging exorbitant rates. " Wall Street today makes tens of billions from people at outrageous interest rates," he said.

Ocasio-Cortez, the socialist New York representative who is expected to run for the Democratic nomination for president as soon as she is eligible, will introduce the House version of the bill.

According to some, the proposal is quite timely, and comes just as credit card rates recently hit an all time high despite artificially low interest rates, according to Creditcards.com, which has been tracking the data since 2007 and compiles data from 100 popular cards. The median interest rate was 21.36% last week compared with 20.24% about a year ago and 12.62% about a decade ago, according to the website.

Rates have been rising fastest for those with the lowest credit scores , said Ted Rossman, an industry analyst for Creditcards.com. "Issuers are taking an opportunity to charge people with lesser credit a bit more," he said.

https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4855

For borrowers with high credit scores the average rate was 17.73 percent last week compared with 16.71 percent a year ago. For those with poor credit scores, the average is now about 24.99 percent compared with 23.77 percent a year ago. The difference in the increase is about 20 basis points higher for customers with a low credit score. A basis point is a common way to measure changes in percentages.

"It may not sound like that much, but that is just in one year," Rossman said. And even small increases in rates can be crippling to a cash strapped borrower, he said. "It is the ultimate slap in the face when you're already down."

That may well be, but we wonder what Sanders and AOC will do when the bulk of their supporters, those with the lowest credit rating and by implication paying the highest interest rates - are de-carded as credit card companies tighten standards "just enough" to eliminate all those who would be in the 15%+ interest universe anyway . Will they then force credit card companies to issue cheap (or free) debt to anyone? Inquiring minds want to know...

Meanwhile, considering that in a time of inverted yield curves banks are scrambling for every dollar in interest income, the proposal is expected to meet stern resistance from the banking industry, which brought in $113 billion in interest and fees from credit cards last year, up 35 percent since 2012, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. It also has zero chance of passing the Senate for at least the next two years, where Republicans hold the majority.

"I am sure it will be criticized," Sanders said of the legislation. "I have a radical idea: Maybe Congress should stand up for ordinary people."

Quoted by the WaPo , the 15 percent cap would be the same as the one Congress imposed on credit unions in 1980, Sanders said. (The National Credit Union Administration, the industry's regulator, raised that cap to 18 percent in 1987 and has repeatedly renewed it at that higher level.)

The full proposal is below


Archeofuturist , 6 minutes ago link

Why not just ban all usury? Why stop at 15%?

Would that be considered anti-semitic?

Posa , 6 minutes ago link

Shrewd move from Sanders and AOC.. end usury now!

Silver Willie , 7 minutes ago link

Subprime consumers would discover their credit lines would be eliminated overnight. Could create a wave of bankruptcies in short order. If they really want to crack down they need to start tinkering with the rates these payday loan companies charge.

anduka , 14 minutes ago link

The banks own Congress. How is this ever going to pass?

3-fingered_chemist , 13 minutes ago link

Interest rate reflects that credit card debt is unsecured. If you cap it, most people will simply not have access to credit cards as the banks won't take the risk. Next, there will be a bill that ensures everyone has a credit card. Going into debt is an American past time, right?

beenlauding , 23 minutes ago link

This is an antisemitic attack on usury.

Wait, 15%-scratch that.

elctro static , 31 minutes ago link

Sure, lowering the interest rates banks can charge on credit cards is a good idea - at first glance - but, in reality, it is simply another "gatekeeper" move. That means addressing a symptom of an issue, rather than it's real causative reason for existing. The central banking system, and the banks it controls internationally, including the Fed and headquartered in Basil, Switzerland - is a criminal enterprise designed to transfer the wealth of sovereign nations into the pockets of a tiny minority of fiends, and in the process, handing over all power to govern victim nations - through the influence of money in politics. This tiny group of very sick people are behind 90% of the misery and death in this world - including all wars and profits derived therein. Since they also control the media they have also foisted an incredibly successful mind control program on their victims. Here in the US, people run around after whatever the latest "big story" is purported to be - always making sure to box themselves into their manufactured personalities, repeating what they have been programmed to say. Everyone is watching the giant circus, and misses the machinations of profound evil - resulting in horrific consequences for all life on Earth.

The Fed and the banks need to exposed for what they are and destroyed, and the fiends behind them exposed, stripped of all assets, and sentenced to hard labor. Unfortunately, the US government and it's various branches of "justice" is owned by said fiends and would have to be overthrown to do what needs to be done.

Either way, apocalypse is approaching.

[May 08, 2019] Elizabeth Warren Student Loan Debt Forveness propasal: critique from the conservarives

Not all specialties are created equal. It is clear that a person who take loan to became obtain a degree in communications is deeply misguided as chances to get a well paying job with this specially are close to zero. Many "humanitarian" specialties are similar -- unemployment is almost guaranteed and if a person was misled we should prosecute greedy university administrators and jail some of them. Such specialties should have a disclaimer: employment is difficult to obtain. Unemployment is almost garanteed. Take the courses at your own risk.
At the same time for STEM degrees Warren proposal makes more sense as people who enrolled into those specialties tried a more realistic approach, but probably job market turned bad or level of talent is not enough or both. while people in this specialties are needed but their chances for employment are crippled by the flow of H1B applicants so part of those costs should be subsidized by fees for large H1B employers, such as Microsoft and Google. Or something like that.
At the same time why we should forgive a person the debt if the particular person specialized in, say, dance? What is the social value of oversupply of dancers? So probably subsidies should be selective and limited to STEM specialties and selected "high social value" humanitarian specialties.
So the loan forgiveness is a crippled, somewhat unfair but still a reasonable approach.
But the key problem is not loads but greed of neoliberal educational institutions. Cost of tuition skyrocketed after 1980 and that's not accidental: this is drect result of neoliberalism corruption of higher education. The ability of government to prosecute "too greedy" colleges is important. Limits of salary of administrators and especially president and vice president and deens are critical.
Notable quotes:
"... The total cost of Warren's plan would be $1.25 trillion over 10 years, with the debt forgiveness portion consisting of a one-time cost of $640 billion. Warren plans to pay for her plan by imposing an annual tax of 2 percent on all families that have $50 million or more in wealth. ..."
"... Warren is right to focus attention on the matter of student loans. This is a major issue for young people and experts have been warning of a crisis for years. ..."
"... After all, they are victims of a scam perpetrated by the education cartel and the federal government. ..."
"... Here's how it works: the education cartel sells the lie that only those with four-year college degrees can succeed in life. Then they steer everyone with a pulse towards a university. ..."
"... The government steps in and subsidizes student loans that allow almost anyone to go to college, regardless of their ability to pay the loans back. ..."
"... College is not for everyone and there's no reason to keep promoting that idea. ..."
"... Reduce the overabundance of administrators. The number has exploded since the 1990s. ..."
"... A lot of required courses are just padding to make the experience drag on for four years. That creates unneeded expenditures of time and money. ..."
"... several nations currently do offer virtually free college educations & I don’t believe their diplomas are of less value for it. ..."
May 08, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren recently jolted the Democratic presidential primary race by tackling one of the most important issues of our time: student loans and the cost of higher education. Warren called for canceling up to $50,000 of student loan debt for every American making under $100,000 a year. In addition, she would make two- and four-year public college tuitions free for all new students.

The total cost of Warren's plan would be $1.25 trillion over 10 years, with the debt forgiveness portion consisting of a one-time cost of $640 billion. Warren plans to pay for her plan by imposing an annual tax of 2 percent on all families that have $50 million or more in wealth.

Warren is right to focus attention on the matter of student loans. This is a major issue for young people and experts have been warning of a crisis for years.

But in most cases, it isn't right to blame student loan borrowers for their predicaments. After all, they are victims of a scam perpetrated by the education cartel and the federal government.

Here's how it works: the education cartel sells the lie that only those with four-year college degrees can succeed in life. Then they steer everyone with a pulse towards a university.

The government steps in and subsidizes student loans that allow almost anyone to go to college, regardless of their ability to pay the loans back. These loans are a trap, and not just with regard to their cost. The government, which took over the student loan industry , forbids borrowers from discharging that debt in bankruptcy proceedings.

How do such cheap and easy student loans affect universities? For starters, they have caused a proliferation of degrees that offer poor returns on investment . In addition, they have led to the dilution of the value of previously marketable degrees such as those in the humanities and international relations, as more students enter those programs than could ever hope to work in their respective fields. For example, in 2013, half of all those who had graduated from college were working in jobs that did not require degrees .

But worst of all, the easy access to student loans has destroyed the price mechanism, which is so important for determining the real supply and demand of a product. Since government is the ultimate payer, tuition has been pushed sky high. The rate of tuition increase has actually outpaced inflation threefold .

Is Elizabeth Warren's plan the solution? No! It will only make things worse.

For starters, the wealth tax that she would use to fund her plan is likely unconstitutional . But even if it was upheld by the Supreme Court, it would still be bad policy. Countries that have imposed wealth taxes like France and Sweden have found that the rich simply leave and take their assets with them rather than pay more.

As for the idea of universal student loan debt forgiveness, it is a bad policy on the merits. For starters, it does not make economic sense to forgive the debts of those who will earn at least $17,500 more a year than those who don't go to college.

Also, although the student loan bubble has been inflated by the actions of both the education cartel and government, at the end of the day, loans are a contract. Those who are able to pay them down should and not be bailed out.

... ... ...

Finally, we need to promote alternatives to college. There are many well-paying jobs out there that don't require degrees . There are also apprentice programs offered by organizations like Praxis . We should encourage entrepreneurship, which is how so many in this country have lifted themselves out of poverty. College is not for everyone and there's no reason to keep promoting that idea.

Kevin Boyd is a freelance writer based in Louisiana. He is a contributor to The Hayride, a southern news and politics site. He has also been published in , The Federalist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution , and The New York Observer among other publications.


Lert345, says: May 8, 2019 at 3:14 pm

How to make college cost effective. Two major reforms

1. Reduce the overabundance of administrators. The number has exploded since the 1990s.

2. Restructure college. Most programs don’t need to be four years long. Most can be cut to 2 1/2 – 3 years. A chemistry student should be taking courses required for a chemistry degree, nothing more (unless he/she wants to). A lot of required courses are just padding to make the experience drag on for four years. That creates unneeded expenditures of time and money.

After doing the above, then maybe we can talk about “free” college.

mrscracker, says: May 8, 2019 at 4:04 pm
I personally believe that we should each pay our own way through life as much as possible, but several nations currently do offer virtually free college educations & I don’t believe their diplomas are of less value for it.

I agree with you that other avenues like trades should be encouraged. A four year degree isn’t necessary for everyone.

DavidE, says: May 8, 2019 at 5:46 pm
@workingdad. If a wealth tax is unconstitutional, do you consider a property tax also unconstitutional?

[May 08, 2019] How Accurate Are the US Jobs Numbers? by Jack Rasmus

Notable quotes:
"... Current Establishment Survey (CES) Report ..."
"... Current Population Survey (CPS ..."
"... The much hyped 3.6% unemployment (U-3) rate for April refers only to full time jobs (35 hrs. or more worked in a week). And these jobs are declining by 191,000 while part time jobs are growing by 155,000. So which report is accurate? How can full time jobs be declining by 191,000, while the U-3 unemployment rate (covering full time only) is falling? The answer: full time jobs disappearing result in an unemployment rate for full time (U-3)jobs falling. A small number of full time jobs as a share of the total labor force appears as a fall in the unemployment rate for full time workers. Looked at another way, employers may be converting full time to part time and temp work, as 191,000 full time jobs disappear and 155,000 part time jobs increase. ..."
"... The April selective numbers of 263,000 jobs and 3.6% unemployment rate is further questionable by yet another statistic by the Labor Dept.: It is contradicted by a surge of 646,000 in April in the category, 'Not in the Labor Force', reported each month. That 646,000 suggests large numbers of workers are dropping out of the labor force (a technicality that actually also lowers the U-3 unemployment rate). 'Not in the Labor Force' for March, the previous month Report, revealed an increase of an additional 350,000 added to 'Not in the Labor Force' totals. In other words, a million–or at least a large percentage of a million–workers have left the labor force. This too is not an indication of a strong labor market and contradicts the 263,000 and U-3 3.6% unemployment rate. ..."
"... Whether jobs, wages or GDP stats, the message here is that official US economic stats, especially labor market stats, should be read critically and not taken for face value, especially when hyped by the media and press. The media pumps selective indicators that make the economy appear better than it actually is. Labor Dept. methods and data used today have not caught up with the various fundamental changes in the labor markets, and are therefore increasingly suspect. It is not a question of outright falsification of stats. It's about failure to evolve data and methodologies to reflect the real changes in the economy. ..."
"... Government stats are as much an 'art' (of obfuscation) as they are a science. They produce often contradictory indication of the true state of the economy, jobs and wages. Readers need to look at the 'whole picture', not just the convenient, selective media reported data like Establishment survey job creation and U-3 unemployment rates. ..."
May 08, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

The recently released report on April jobs on first appearance, heavily reported by the media, shows a record low 3.6% unemployment rate and another month of 263,000 new jobs created. But there are two official US Labor dept. jobs reports, and the second shows a jobs market much weaker than the selective, 'cherry picked' indicators on unemployment and jobs creation noted above that are typically featured by the press.

Problems with the April Jobs Report

While the Current Establishment Survey (CES) Report (covering large businesses) shows 263,000 jobs created last month, the Current Population Survey (CPS ) second Labor Dept. report (that covers smaller businesses) shows 155,000 of these jobs were involuntary part time. This high proportion (155,000 of 263,000) suggests the job creation number is likely second and third jobs being created. Nor does it reflect actual new workers being newly employed. The number is for new jobs, not newly employed workers. Moreover, it's mostly part time and temp or low paid jobs, likely workers taking on second and third jobs.

Even more contradictory, the second CPS report shows that full time work jobs actually declined last month by 191,000. (And the month before, March, by an even more 228,000 full time jobs decline).

The much hyped 3.6% unemployment (U-3) rate for April refers only to full time jobs (35 hrs. or more worked in a week). And these jobs are declining by 191,000 while part time jobs are growing by 155,000. So which report is accurate? How can full time jobs be declining by 191,000, while the U-3 unemployment rate (covering full time only) is falling? The answer: full time jobs disappearing result in an unemployment rate for full time (U-3)jobs falling. A small number of full time jobs as a share of the total labor force appears as a fall in the unemployment rate for full time workers. Looked at another way, employers may be converting full time to part time and temp work, as 191,000 full time jobs disappear and 155,000 part time jobs increase.

And there's a further problem with the part time jobs being created: It also appears that the 155,000 part time jobs created last month may be heavily weighted with the government hiring part timers to start the work on the 2020 census–typically hiring of which starts in April of the preceding year of the census. (Check out the Labor Dept. numbers preceding the prior 2010 census, for April 2009, for the same development a decade ago).

Another partial explanation is that the 155,000 part time job gains last month (and in prior months in 2019) reflect tens of thousands of workers a month who are being forced onto the labor market now every month, as a result of US courts recent decisions now forcing workers who were formerly receiving social security disability benefits (1 million more since 2010) back into the labor market.

The April selective numbers of 263,000 jobs and 3.6% unemployment rate is further questionable by yet another statistic by the Labor Dept.: It is contradicted by a surge of 646,000 in April in the category, 'Not in the Labor Force', reported each month. That 646,000 suggests large numbers of workers are dropping out of the labor force (a technicality that actually also lowers the U-3 unemployment rate). 'Not in the Labor Force' for March, the previous month Report, revealed an increase of an additional 350,000 added to 'Not in the Labor Force' totals. In other words, a million–or at least a large percentage of a million–workers have left the labor force. This too is not an indication of a strong labor market and contradicts the 263,000 and U-3 3.6% unemployment rate.

Bottom line, the U-3 unemployment rate is basically a worthless indicator of the condition of the US jobs market; and the 263,000 CES (Establishment Survey) jobs is contradicted by the Labor Dept's second CPS survey (Population Survey).

GDP & Rising Wages Revisited

In two previous shows, the limits and contradictions (and thus a deeper explanations) of US government GDP and wage statistics were featured: See the immediate April 26, 2019 Alternative Visions show on preliminary US GDP numbers for the 1st quarter 2019, where it was shown how the Trump trade war with China, soon coming to an end, is largely behind the GDP latest numbers; and that the more fundamental forces underlying the US economy involving household consumption and real business investment are actually slowing and stagnating. Or listen to my prior radio show earlier this year where media claims that US wages are now rising is debunked as well.

Claims of wages rising are similarly misrepresented when a deeper analysis shows the proclaimed wage gains are, once again, skewed to the high end of the wage structure and reflect wages for salaried managers and high end professionals by estimating 'averages' and limiting data analysis to full time workers once again; not covering wages for part time and temp workers; not counting collapse of deferred and social wages (pension and social security payments); and underestimating inflation so that real wages appear larger than otherwise. Independent sources estimate more than half of all US workers received no wage increase whatsoever in 2018–suggesting once again the gains are being driven by the top 10% and assumptions of averages that distort the actual wage gains that are much more modest, if at all.

Ditto for GDP analysis and inflation underestimation using the special price index for GDP (the GDP deflator), and the various re-definitions of GDP categories made in recent years and questionable on-going GDP assumptions, such as including in GDP calculation the questionable inclusion of 50 million homeowners supposedly paying themselves a 'rent equivalent'.

A more accurate 'truth' about jobs, wages, and GDP stats is found in the 'fine print' of definitions and understanding the weak statistical methodologies that change the raw economic data on wages, jobs, and economic output (GDP) into acceptable numbers for media promotion.

Whether jobs, wages or GDP stats, the message here is that official US economic stats, especially labor market stats, should be read critically and not taken for face value, especially when hyped by the media and press. The media pumps selective indicators that make the economy appear better than it actually is. Labor Dept. methods and data used today have not caught up with the various fundamental changes in the labor markets, and are therefore increasingly suspect. It is not a question of outright falsification of stats. It's about failure to evolve data and methodologies to reflect the real changes in the economy.

Government stats are as much an 'art' (of obfuscation) as they are a science. They produce often contradictory indication of the true state of the economy, jobs and wages. Readers need to look at the 'whole picture', not just the convenient, selective media reported data like Establishment survey job creation and U-3 unemployment rates.

When so doing, the bigger picture is an US economy being held up by temporary factors (trade war) soon to dissipate; jobs creation driven by part time work as full time jobs continue structurally to disappear; and wages that are being driven by certain industries (tech, etc.), high end employment (managers, professionals), occasional low end minimum wage hikes in select geographies, and broad categories of 'wages' ignored.

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com .

[May 08, 2019] Syrian oil embargo

May 08, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Christian J Chuba , May 6, 2019 7:21:22 PM | link

Syrian oil embargo

Yep, not even letting Iran give Syria oil by blocking the Suez Canal; not even mentioned in the U.S. MSM except by gloating Neocons who think making people suffer is a success. https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-evidence-trumps-iran-policy-is-working-20190502-xwjyle54rbed5jcounqz5d4tjm-story.html "Iranian oil deliveries to Syria have plummeted from 66,000 barrels a day at the end of 2018 to nothing, precipitating gasoline shortages that have forced Syrians to que for up to nineteen hours."

trucks vs rail vs pipeline vs tanker
Regarding using trucks via an overland route, that is extremely expensive and asking a lot of Iran. The most efficient means to transport oil is by pipeline, less than 50 cents per barrel of oil, tanker is almost but not quite as good, when you get to truck and rail we get into the $5 - $10 range. Even with the differential in labor it would still be expensive for Iran to use trucks, assuming they have that many.

Can't stand our politicians or our newspeople, they talk about the U.S. as being the most generous country on earth when we are the most mean spirited, petty and vicious but we cannot salute ourselves enough.

There used to be a pipeline between Iraq and Syria but it has fallen into disrepair and if it was repaired I'd bet my last dollar the Israeli's or even the U.S. would find an excuse to bomb it.

Krollchem , May 6, 2019 8:18:58 PM | link

james@42

Half of the Syrian-Iraq border is South of Deir ez Zur and Al Bukamal and is completely controlled by Syrian and Iraqi troops/paramilitaries. The old oil pipeline runs along the highway and the Syrian Army controls the critical T4 pumping station and the Tiyas airbase just South of the highway.
https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/syria/tiyas.htm

You will recall the Paveway4 first brought the importance of this T4 pumping station about a year ago.

Unfortunately ISIS still has forces in the desert just North of the highway. Time for some Russian Night Hunter search and destroy missions!

[May 07, 2019] Syria - Russian And Syrian Airforce Prepare The Ground For An Attack On Idlib Province

May 07, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Krollchem , May 6, 2019 3:53:54 PM | link

The US and Great Britain are trying to economically cripple Syria via cutoff of oil supplies as "The Syrian government is scrambling to deal with its worst fuel crisis since the war began in 2011, aggravated by U.S. sanctions targeting oil shipments to Damascus."
https://www.apnews.com/a99a22ad2598474ca39a7d8cde560c31

"(Syrian) Prime Minister Emad Khamis, quoted in local press, said Iranian tankers supplying Syria had been halted due to U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
Oil tankers bound for Syria have been barred from using Egypt's Suez Canal for six months, he added."
https://en.radiofarda.com/a/sanctions-on-damascus-and-tehran-have-led-to-serious-fuel-shortages-in-syria/29880330.html

"Under the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Great Britain, no Iranian oil tankers are allowed to transit the Suez Canal if they are destined for a Syrian port, a Syrian military source told Al-Masdar News this morning."

"The source said Iranian oil tankers are allowed to enter Mediterranean waters if the ship is destined for Turkey; however, due to U.S. and U.K. sanctions, the vessels cannot transit again if they dock at a Syrian port."
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syria-says-iranian-oil-tankers-blocked-at-suez-canal-if-shipment-is-destined-for-syrian-port/

US news sources confirm the Syrian Prime Minister's statement.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-sanctions-hit-irans-oil-lifeline-to-syria-11553267539

Thus the Egyptian government is apparently technically lying about their role in the sanction when they state "Egypt's government denied Wednesday banning the passage of oil tankers to Syria through the Suez Canal. Navigation in the canal is going according to international conventions and treaties that guarantee the right of safe navigation to all tankers without discrimination."
https://syrianobserver.com/EN/news/49720/cairo-denies-syrian-accusations-on-banning-iranian-oil-tanker-passage.html

Consequently, Iran is shipping Syria oil via tanker trucks.
"1200 Iranian tankers loaded with oil products reached Syria through Iraq in the past week," Al- Iraqia reports, adding, "The number of Iranian oil tankers are expected to reach 1500 per week, and after providing current Syrian needs, they will be fixed at 500 tankers per week."

"Syria consumes 100,000 barrels of oil a day and produces about 24,000 barrels, Mustapha Hammouriyyeh, head of the Syrian fuel distribution company, told Al-Ikhbariyya TV."
https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-reportedly-shipping-oil-to-syria-overland-as-suez-not-accessible-/29883951.html

To try to get around US sanctions Iran has reflagged their oil tankers from Panama to Iran registry and in many cases have switched off their AIS transponders.
https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1126731/Iran-oil-exports-on-the-rise-as-national-tanker-fleet-reflags


Christian J Chuba , May 6, 2019 4:09:17 PM | link

Hospitals being bombed

A sign that this attack is serious is that already the propagandists are already crying about Hospitals being bombed ... https://www.yahoo.com/news/violence-escalates-northwest-syria-claiming-more-lives-112458233.html

After Idlib ...

The Syrians will be able to take back the oil fields from the 5%.

Krollchem , May 6, 2019 5:23:33 PM | link

james@24

Those that oppose US and Israeli world domination has to buy time and promote economic collapse within the Empire. Eventually the Sparta like militarism will bankrupt both countries. The wild card is Venezuela - if they can get their hands on this oil they, and their allies, can continue to spread chaos for a couple more decades. As it now stands the US proven oil reserves are between 36-39 billion barrels and the US is consuming that oil at a rate of about 4.3 billion barrels/year.

The US is also putting pressure on Turkey in hopes of deposing the current government that supports the GNA in Libya and opposes the gulf states and Saudi Arabia. Turkey needs the Iranian heavy crude for its Tupras refinery. Substituting heavy crude from Russia is an issue as Russia has already contracted with Italy and Greece to supply heavy crude to their refineries.
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/04/turkey-iran-usa-ankara-seeks-alternative-sources-iranian-oil.html

psychohistorian , May 6, 2019 5:51:51 PM | link
B wrote
"The Syrian oilfields, which could produce enough to keep the country running, are under control of the U.S. proxy forces. The U.S. prohibited to sell that oil to the Syrian government."

It is about the money. It is another spinning plate trying to be war just like Iran, Venezuela, etc. And when the money music stops (which is only when enough nations stop buying US Treasuries) the elite are going to say that the poor should pay for those attempts at war.

I like the comment by frances above about the drunk on the canal boat and China/Russia/et al are trying to keep us alive, hoping the drunk passes out.....and we all get to watch and learn how not to run a world where the drunk owns the punch bowl.

[May 06, 2019] Warren Buffett Slams Private Equity at Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

May 06, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

Warren Buffett, who has long slammed the hedge fund industry for charging high fees, escalated his criticism of private-equity firms that have been raising record sums of money in recent years.

"We have seen a number of proposals from private equity funds where the returns are really not calculated in a manner that I would regard as honest," Buffett said Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s annual meeting. "If I were running a pension fund, I would be very careful about what was being offered to me."

Buffett has a consistent history of blasting asset managers for charging high management fees and collecting performance fees on gains that sometimes don't beat broader markets. The presence of private-equity firms looking for leveraged buyouts of companies has also made it tougher in recent years for Buffett to find large acquisitions for Berkshire.

"We're not going to leverage up Berkshire," Buffett said.

Buffett and Berkshire Vice Chairman Charles Munger criticized how some private equity firms portray performance. Firms will include money that's sitting in Treasury bills waiting to be deployed when charging management fees, but will exclude it when calculating a so-called internal rate of return, the performance measure in which most funds are judged, Buffett said.

"It makes their return look better if you sit there a long time in Treasury bills," Buffett said. "It's not as good as it looks."

Munger described the practice as "lying a little bit to make the money come in." He added that many pensions are picking private equity because they don't have to mark down the value of the assets as steeply in a downturn, saying that this was "a silly reason to buy something."

Buffett has previously criticized the use of debt by private equity funds, saying in his 2014 letter to shareholders that Berkshire offers another, more permanent buyer, when people are looking to sell their businesses. He acknowledged on Saturday that leveraged investments would outperform in good environments, but he cited the 1998 collapse of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management as an example of the downside.

While some have argued that Berkshire has embedded leverage by being able to use cash flows from its insurance businesses in acquisitions, Buffett said he wouldn't be adding debt to chase deals.

"Covenants to protect debt holders have really deteriorated," Buffett said. "I would not get excited about so-called alternative investments."

-- With assistance by Katherine Chiglinsky, and Hannah Levitt

[May 06, 2019] America's $1.6 trillion student debt woe spurring suicidal thoughts survey The Japan Times

May 06, 2019 | japantimes.co.jp

America's $1.6 trillion student debt woe spurring suicidal thoughts: survey

Bloomberg

WASHINGTON - The $1.6 trillion in U.S. student debt may not pose a direct threat to the economy, but it's causing anguish that goes far beyond financial concerns for the people who owe it.

One in 15 borrowers has considered suicide due to their school loans, according to a survey of 829 people conducted last month by Student Loan Planner, a debt advisory group.

Most student debt is held by people with balances on the lower end of the scale, with only 0.8 percent of the U.S. population owing more than $100,000, according to Deutsche Bank economists. They have labeled the issue as a "micro problem" for individuals, rather than a macro problem for the economy.

Yet that still equates to 2.8 million people with around $495 billion in debt as of March, according to Department of Education data. Even more worrying is that it's an increase of almost $61 billion since the end of 2017.

Student loans are the second-biggest kind of debt in America behind home mortgages and often more expensive to service relative to the amount owed because interest rates are generally higher. Not to mention that unlike buying a home, an education isn't a tangible asset that can be sold.

It's also turning into a hot political issue as next year's presidential election approaches. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a plan to cancel loans for many borrowers, while former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed some of the knock-on effects for the economy in a presentation at the Milken Institute conference earlier this week.

"Of course millennials would love to buy a house," Hickenlooper said April 30 in Los Angeles. But, "they're buried in debt!"

The following scenarios show the monthly costs associated with different levels of student debt. The first envisages a 10-year loan at 6 percent. To put the figures into perspective, a 30-year mortgage of $400,000 at current interest rates would cost about $2,000 per month.

In the second scenario, loans are shown over a 20-year term with rates at 7 percent. Monthly payments are smaller but the overall burden is bigger, with total interest payments on $100,000 of debt rising above $86,000.

[May 06, 2019] So the financial markets are already tanking as expected. Empire is cranking the FEAR dial to max and will take advantage of any opportunity to keep it there

Notable quotes:
"... Trump may actually have been ordered to out the neocons in the way this is playing out as part of the world wide deals made behind the scenes as set up to this public kabuki transition to the "New Order" that leaves global private finance some niche. ..."
May 06, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian , May 6, 2019 12:31:00 AM | link

@ Jackrabbit with the China trade link

So the financial markets are already tanking as expected. Empire is cranking the FEAR dial to max and will take advantage of any opportunity to keep it there.

Its interesting that it will only have "domestic" effect and be seen as just more bullying and brinksmanship by others.

I have come to see the inter-elite cat fight as a conscious culling of the rich in preparation for the "New Order" that will evolve from these coming events.

Trump may actually have been ordered to out the neocons in the way this is playing out as part of the world wide deals made behind the scenes as set up to this public kabuki transition to the "New Order" that leaves global private finance some niche.

Interesting times indeed.

[May 06, 2019] Neoliberal Universities are corrupt by definition

May 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Hugh: , July 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Lobbying and campaign finance are two forms of legalized bribery. Citizens United legalized political corruption for corporations and showed the complete corruption of the Supreme Court which decided it. Astroturfed political organizations, the manufacture of "popular consent", are another form of corruption in politics. The hiding of contributors to these and other groups gives cover to their corruption.

The media are corrupt, even a lot of the blogosphere is. It is all propaganda all the time, just segmented and tailored to different audiences of rubes.

Universities are corrupt. They no longer fulfill an educational mission rather they are purveyors of the status quo. They are corrupt in their corporate structure, in their alliances with other corporations, and in their foisting of debt on to their students.

Academia is corrupt. There is the whole publish or perish thing that results in most of academia's research product being worthless and useless. This is even before we get to the quack sciences like economics. Academic economics is completely corrupt. The dominant politico-economic system of our times is kleptocracy. Yet almost no academic economist will acknowledge it let alone make it central to their point of view.

The judicial system and the judiciary are corrupt. How else to explain our two-tiered justice system? The great criminals of our times, the largest frauds in human history, are not only not prosecuted, they are not even investigated. And how can anyone take the Supreme Court to be anything but corrupt? This is an institution that except for a couple of decades around the Warren Court has, for more than 200 years, always been on the side of the haves against the have-nots, for the powerful, against the powerless, pro-slavery, pro-segregation, and anti-worker. How can anyone take decisions like Bush v. Gore or Citizens United to be anything other than corrupt, politics dressed up as legal thinking?

In a kleptocracy, all the institutions, at least those controlled by the rich and elites, are put into the service of the kleptocrats to loot or justify and defend looting and the looters. So corruption is endemic and systemic.

[May 06, 2019] Brain Drain and the Polarization of America

May 06, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Brain Drain and the Polarization of America The highly educated are concentrating together, depriving struggling communities and dividing the country. By Rachel Sheffield and Scott Winship May 3, 2019

Detroit, Michigan | Credit: Hotforphotog; Shutterstock Are we more divided as a nation today than we were before? Our new research within the Joint Economic Committee's Social Capital Project suggests that we are. The findings indicate that Americans are more frequently dividing themselves geographically and along lines of education. Highly educated Americans have increasingly moved to a handful of states over the last several decades, leaving other places behind.

This "brain drain" has clear economic implications. Beyond economics though, it's also likely draining social capital from many places, as communities lose talent and resources that would help support civic institutions. Brain drain and educational sorting exacerbate political and cultural divides as well: Americans segregate themselves into communities where they more frequently reside near those similar to themselves, decreasing the likelihood of rubbing shoulders with those who see the world differently.

The Rust Belt, the Plains, and some states in New England are experiencing high levels of brain drain.

It's not news that highly educated Americans are more likely to move. America's highly educated have consistently been more prone to pack up their bags and seek opportunity outside their hometowns. But surprisingly, there have been few attempts to quantify the magnitude of the problem and assess whether it is getting worse. To rectify that, we created brain drain measures that compare the share of people leaving their birth states who are highly educated to either the highly educated share of people staying in their birth states or the share entering the states who are highly educated. We found that today, highly educated movers in the U.S. tend to leave certain states and regions of the country at higher rates than in the past and concentrate in a smaller group of states that are home to booming metropolitan areas. This leads to growing geographic divides between areas that are thriving and places that struggle. With fewer states retaining and attracting talent, more areas are left behind.

A handful of states have become exclusive destinations for the highly educated. They not only hold onto more of their homegrown talent, but they also gain more highly educated adults than they lose. These talent-magnet states are along the West Coast, as well as the Boston-Washington corridor.

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Beyond the coasts, a few other states, like Texas, are retaining their homegrown talent while simultaneously winning a balance of talent from elsewhere.

These "brain gain" states are like an elite club whose members trade among themselves. For example, California draws the greatest share of its highly educated entrants from other brain gain states: New York, Illinois, and Texas, which are ranked third, fourth, and eighth, respectively, on net brain gain. New York pulls in highly educated entrants primarily from New Jersey (ranked sixth on net brain gain) and California. Massachusetts (ranked second) is also among its top five sending states. The most common origins of Texas's entrants include California, Illinois, and New York. New Jersey draws its highly educated from the likes of New York, Massachusetts, California, and Illinois. New York and New Jersey are among Massachusetts' most common sending states. New York, New Jersey, California, and Virginia (ranked seventh) are among the top states sending highly educated natives to Maryland.

On the opposite side of the coin are the many states that are not only bleeding highly educated adults but failing to attract others to replace them. Rust Belt states -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri -- are particularly plagued by brain drain. Several Plains states -- Iowa and the Dakotas -- as well as states in New England -- Vermont and New Hampshire -- are also experiencing high levels of brain drain. Although this is hardly a new phenomenon for the Rust Belt, it's become a worsening problem over the last 50 years for the other high brain-drain states mentioned.

Brain drain's effects on state economies are obvious. Places that lose more of their highly educated adults are likely going to be economically worse off than those that retain or attract highly educated adults. And if the highly educated are concentrating in fewer areas, then more parts of the country will be prone to economic stagnation. But beyond the economic implications, brain drain also has an impact on social capital. If areas are drained of their most highly educated, those left behind may struggle to support churches, athletic leagues, parent-teacher associations, scouting groups, and so forth. These institutions matter for the well-being of communities, as they bring people together in purposeful relationships, ultimately creating the social fabric of our nation.

Another way that brain drain's educational divides can deplete social capital is by creating deeper political and cultural divides between Americans. The highly educated more often hold liberal political views compared to those with less than a college education. America's major metropolitan areas (many of the states that win the highly educated are home to thriving cities) tend to vote Democratic , while most other areas of the country vote Republican . Those living in urban areas are also more likely to hold liberal political views , whereas those living in rural areas are more commonly conservative.

Thus, as a result of brain drain and self-sorting, Americans are now more likely to live in communities where they are isolated from people who hold different ideologies and values. Less association between people of different viewpoints can exacerbate political divides, as people become more steeped in their own beliefs. When those who are different are further away, it is easier to cast them as a faceless group of opponents upon whom all blame for America's problems belongs, rather than as neighbors with whom to find common ground. Ultimately, social segregation weakens the idea that, as Americans, we share something important in common with one another.

A growing federal government only adds to the problem of geographic divide. Naturally, neither heartland traditionalists nor coastal cosmopolitans want to be ruled by the other camp. However, with more power at the national level, national elections have higher stakes for everyone. Each camp feels threatened when its party loses control. With less association among those with different viewpoints, political discourse turns into fever-pitched discord.

The strength of our relationships is crucial to the strength of our nation. Americans will have to work to make their communities places in which not only the most highly educated benefit, but others as well. We must find ways to reach across the divides that separate us.

Rachel Sheffield is a senior policy advisor in the chairman's office of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, and Scott Winship is the executive director of the committee.

[May 06, 2019] We would have to sacrifice considerable sovereignty to the world organization to enable them to levy taxes in their own right to support themselves.

May 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

LOL123 , 53 minutes ago link

When you hear the same cue words you know exactly where it comes from.

Peace as its goal through staged wars ( undeclared since WW11).

"

February 9, 1950 -- The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee introduces Senate Concurrent Resolution 66 which begins:

"Whereas, in order to achieve universal peace and justice, the present Charter of the United Nations should be changed to provide a true world government constitution."

The resolution was first introduced in the Senate on September 13, 1949 by Senator Glen Taylor (D-Idaho). Senator Alexander Wiley (R-Wisconsin) called it "a consummation devoutly to be wished for" and said, "I understand your proposition is either change the United Nations, or change or create, by a separate convention, a world order." Senator Taylor later stated:

"We would have to sacrifice considerable sovereignty to the world organization to enable them to levy taxes in their own right to support themselves."

Me**** the problem with this draft of war plan is that if you are pointing fingers of a " Presidential coup" at home and expect the Treasonous culprits to do time, you can't purpose the same scheme in a foreign country without reprecusions.

And I think that is the Traitors in the White House plan to save their slimy asses.... Expose the undeclared coup through media ( weaponized as usual) and bring down Barrs attempts to clean up our own swamp.

As commander in chief Trump has a n op problem.

Whoever inititated this because of ecconomic warefare ( bankers... How the web catches you at every corner) both at home ( USA) and world.

War, undeclared, declared, either way and use universal peace as goal equals profits for the war machine and depopulation for the world.

Win win situation for the original planers of one world govetnment.

You remember Dulles don't you ( Dulles airport).

New plan same as the old plan:

April 12, 1952 -- John Foster Dulles, later to become Secretary of State, says in a speech to the American Bar Association in Louisville, Kentucky, that "treaty laws can override the Constitution." He says treaties can take power away from Congress and give them to the President. They can take powers from the States and give them to the Federal Government or to some international body and they can cut across the rights given to the people by their constitutional Bill of Rights.

A Senate amendment, proposed by GOP Senator John Bricker, would have provided that no treaty could supersede the Constitution, but it fails to pass by one vote."

[May 05, 2019] If rate cuts don't happen soon, is the economy going to tank? Williams says

So far those who predicted that recession will start in the first half of 2019 proved to be wrong. Now it is postponed till 2020. We will see ;-)
Many people predicted massive "Trump's recession" from 2017. It did not materialize... So there are chances that Trump administration would be able able to kick the can down the road 2020 elections.
May 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

me width=

" We have a recession in place. It's just a matter of playing out in some of these other funny numbers. The reality is on the downside, where you have mixed pressures right now. People who are really concerned about the economy right now, and that includes President Trump looking at re-election, he's been arguing that the Fed should lower rates, and I am with him. The Fed created this circumstance. They are pushing for the economy on the upside because they want to continue to keep raising rates. Banks make more money with higher rates, and they are still trying to liquidate the problems they created when they bailed out the banking system back in 2008."

Williams strips out all the financial gimmicks in his work that make things look better than they really are to give a true picture of the real financial health. Take for example the recent reportedly good news of the trade deficit narrowing. Williams says,

"What we saw was the very unusual narrowing of the deficit . . . that's generally good news . . . but if you look at why the trade deficit was narrowing, it wasn't that we were having new surging exports . . . instead, we were having collapsing domestic consumption. People weren't buying things. People were not buying goods. So, the imports were falling off, and that narrowed the deficit. That is not a healthy sign. The last time you saw something like that was the beginning of the Great Recession (2008–2009). . . . We still haven't recovered from the Great Recession."

If rate cuts don't happen soon, is the economy going to tank? Williams says,


JohannSennefelder , 1 hour ago link

Greg Hunter is a no nonsense reporter. He has his nuts in a vise to report no ******** news. Williams is old school. The guy you always went to for a solution to a complex problem. God bless them both.

johngaltfla , 1 hour ago link

I remember interviewing John before the 08' crash. His tone this time is a lot sharper and somewhat more concerning than then.

Let it Go , 1 hour ago link

Questioning the whole "Trump Economy" may seem in poor taste to those who have benefited so much but it is something we should do. What is being ignored is the structural issues that haunt America's competitiveness and far outweigh the benefits of lower taxes.

We must also face the fact that deficit spending can only take the economy so far and carries with it a fair amount of negatives. The article below explores Trumponomics in all its glory and why this won't end well.

https://The "Trump Economy" Is A Mirage Based On Spending.html

quesnay , 1 hour ago link

John Williams also claims inflation is either 5% or 10% (depending on what method you use). How can he reasonably ask for interest rates to be lowered if he believes inflation is 5% at a minimum? Or does he not believe his own data and methods?

Born2Bwired , 1 hour ago link

Greg Hunter asks him what he thinks the inflation rate is in the interview. He says 8-9% if remember correctly. His numbers and commentary are obviously using old school methods back when they did not attempt to mask the bad numbers.

quesnay , 1 hour ago link

Yes. And so thinking real inflation is 8-9%, how can he then reasonably turn around and ask that interest rates be lowered (driving up inflation even more)? That's insanity.

[May 05, 2019] Jesse's Café Américain Stocks and Precious Metals Charts - 'The Envy of the World'- Bloomberg Cites 'the Endless Rally'

May 05, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

Stocks are soaring to highs. Or as Bloomberg noted today, stock buybacks from corporations flush with tax cut money are fueling an 'endless rally.'

"If individuals aren't enthusiastic, who's buying stock and pushing prices up? It's impossible to know precisely, but one set of usual suspects is clearly doing a lot of the heavy lifting: corporations themselves. They've had plenty of profits in recent years, which have been boosted by federal tax cuts, and have used a chunk of them to buy back their own stock. Share repurchases rose 22 percent in the first quarter, to an estimated $270 billion, according to Bank of America Corp., easily eclipsing the amount of money withdrawn from mutual funds. That companies don't see more opportunities to invest in their actual businesses -- say, in factories and research and development -- instead of shares may be a bad omen for growth, but for now it's keeping the party going."

Michael Regan, The U.S. Stock Market Can't Stop, Won't Stop Its Endless Rally

This could be quite impressive, both in the extent of the high, and in the ferocity of its descent. As I seem to recall, those who bought and held stocks in 1929 did not break even again until most of their life was past, in the 1950's. Have we truly given ourselves and our childrens' futures over to such reckless and arrogant characters? It appears to be so. Sooner or later a crash is coming. And it may be terrific.

What has been hidden wll be revealed. What is secret will be made known.

"You have to hear all the truth,
Even if they do not like it."

Sebastian Brant, Ship of Fools

"Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a star-gazer, someone who speaks foolishness, and a good-for-nothing?"

Plato, Republic

"Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right...
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you."

Stealers Wheel, Stuck in the Middle with You

"You'll never find the solution if you don't see the problem."

Gilbert K. Chesterton

And if you don't see any of the problems, well, then all must be well. The problems are ignored by the many, who lose themselves in distractions and animated outrage and madness. And reform is ridiculed, cheated, and spurned by the comfortable few, who do not care if the ship is sinking as long as they have first class seats.

The registered, or deliverable gold at these current prices in the Comex warehouses has fallen back to historic lows. I have included a chart below that is current as of Thursday of last week. We had a further decline reported today. I have included that clearing report below as well.

US stocks plunged today as Jay Powell spoke glowingly about the strong economy. This sort of skittishness is typically seen in markets that are topping, because of thinly justified, and rather high, valuations that make it difficult for people to be 'investors' rather than speculators for the moment.

This is what the Fed and our regulatory system have created and nutured: not an efficient capital allocation system, but a casino, and a dodgy one at that.

01 May 2019 Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

"People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.

What we would like to do is change the world: make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do. We can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.

We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. There is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as well as our friend.

I am sure that God did not intend that there be so many poor. The class structure is of our making and our consent, not His. It is the way we have arranged it, and it is up to us to change it.

Turn off your radio. Put away your daily paper. Read one review of events a week and spend some time reading good books. They tell too of days of striving and of strife. They are of other centuries and also of our own. They make us realize that all times are perilous, that men live in a dangerous world, in peril constantly of losing or maiming soul and body. We get some sense of perspective reading such books. Renewed courage and faith and even joy to live.

Do what comes to hand. Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. After all, God is with us. It shows too much conceit to trust to ourselves, to be discouraged at what we ourselves can accomplish. It is lacking in faith in God to be discouraged. After all, we are going to proceed with His help. We offer Him what we are going to do. If He wishes it to prosper, it will. We must depend solely on Him. Work as though everything depended on ourselves, and pray as though everything depended on God."

Dorothy Day

A Warning For the Faithful, In Perilous Times

We are now in a great falling away, a time when the gospel of prosperity and a false, ostentatious, and hypocritical observance of the self causes many to lose themselves -- and their hearts harden, and the love of most grows cold.

"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven." Matt 7:21

"They do not see the image of Almighty God before them, and ask themselves what He wishes: if once they did this they would begin to see how much He requires, and they would earnestly come to Him, both to be pardoned for what they do wrong, and for the power to do better.

And, for the same reason that they do not please Him, they succeed in pleasing themselves. For that contracted, defective range of duties, which falls so short of God's law, is just what they can fulfill; or rather they choose it, and keep to it, because they can fulfill it.

Hence, they become both self-satisfied and self-sufficient; – they think they know just what they ought to do, and that they do it all; and in consequence they are very well content with themselves, and rate their merit very high, and have no fear at all of any future scrutiny into their conduct, which may befall them.

And such, I say, is the religion of the natural man in every age and place; – often very beautiful on the surface, but worthless in God's sight; good, as far as it goes, but worthless and hopeless, because it does not go further, because it is based on self-sufficiency, and results in self-satisfaction...

Yes, it is the ignorance of our understanding, it is our spiritual blindness, it is our banishment from the presence of Him, who is the source and the standard of all Truth, which is the cause of this meagre, heartless religion of which men are commonly so proud.

In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, traitors, heady, high-minded having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." John Henry Newman\

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." 1 Cor. xiii

"Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is a pious, hollow hypocrisy." Luke 12:1

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees -- hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. You outwardly appear righteous, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:27-28

"And they took offense at him." Matthew 13:57

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.'

Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal consumption prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'

And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'

And they will go away into eternal darkness without hope, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

Matthew 25: 31-46

[May 05, 2019] Apres Moi le Deluge by Paul Craig Roberts

The jobs reports are fabrications and that the jobs that do exist are lowly paid domestic service jobs such as waitresses and bartenders and health care and social assistance. What has kept the American economy going is the expansion of consumer debt, not higher pay from higher productivity. The reported low unemployment rate is obtained by not counting discouraged workers who have given up on finding a job.
May 03, 2019 | www.unz.com

I was listening while driving to rightwing talk radio. It is BS just like NPR. It was about the great Trump economy compared to the terrible Obama one. The US hasn't had a great economy since jobs offshoring began in the 1990s, and with robotics about to launch Americans are unlikely ever again to experience a good economy.

The latest jobs report released today claims 236,000 new private sector jobs. Where are the jobs, if they in fact exist?

Manufacturing, that is making things, produced a mere 4,000 jobs.

The jobs are in domestic services. There are 54,800 jobs in "administrative and waste services." This category includes things such as employment services, temporary help services, and building services such as janitor services.

"Health care and social assistance" accounts for 52,600 jobs. This category includes things such as ambulatory health care services and individual and family services.

And there are 25,000 new waiters and bartenders.

Construction, mainly specialty trade contractors, added 33,000.

There are a few other jobs scattered about. Warehousing and storage had 5,400 new jobs.

Real estate rental and leasing hired 7,800.

Legal services laid off 700 people.

Architectural and engineering services lost 1,700 jobs.

There were 6,800 new managers.

The new jobs are not high value-added, high productivity jobs that provide middle class incomes.

In the 21st century the US economy has only served those who own stocks. The liquidity that the Federal Reserve has pumped into the economy has driven up stock prices, and the Trump tax cut has left corporations with more money for stock buybacks and dividend payments. The institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reports that 60 Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes on $79 billion in income, instead receiving a rebate of $4.3 billion. https://itep.org/notadime/

The sign of a good economy is when companies are reinvesting their profits and borrowed money in new plant and equipment to meet rising demand. Instead, US companies are spending more on buybacks and dividends than the total of their profits. In other words, the companies are going into debt in order to drive up their share prices by purchasing their own shares. The executives and shareholders are looting their own companies, leaving the companies less capitalized and deeper in debt. https://systemicdisorder.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/work-harder-for-speculators/

Meanwhile, for the American people the Trump regime's budget for 2020 delivers $845 billion in cuts to Medicare, $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, and $84 billion in cuts to Social Security disability benefits.

History is repeating itself: Let them eat cake. After me the deluge.

The French Revolution followed.

[May 04, 2019] The Next US Recession Is Likely to Be Around the Corner naked capitalism

May 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." –Satchel Paige

By Franck Portier, Professor, University College London and CEPR Research Fellow. Originally published at VoxEU .

Business economists argue that the length of an expansion is a good indicator of when a recession will hit. Using both parametric and non-parametric measures, this column finds strong support for the theory from post-WWII data on the US economy. The findings suggest there is good reason to expect a US recession in the next two years.

This summer, the current US expansion, which started in June 2009, is likely to break the historical post-WWII record of 120 months long, which is currently held by the March 1991-March 2001 expansion. It is already longer than the post-WWII average of 58 months. Should we be worried? Is the next recession around the corner?

Yes, according to business economists. For example, according to the semi-annual National Association for Business Economics survey released last February, three-quarters of the panellists expect an economic recession by the end of 2021. While only 10% of panellists expect a recession in 2019, 42% say a recession will happen in 2020, and 25% expect one in 2021.

No, according to the conventional wisdom among more academic-oriented economists, who believe that "expansions, like Peter Pan, endure but never seem to grow old", as Rudebusch (2016) recently argued. As he wrote, "based only on age, an 80-month-old expansion has effectively the same chance of ending as a 40-month-old expansion". This view was also forcefully expressed last December by the (now ex-) Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, who said " I think it's a myth that expansions die of old age. I do not think they die of old age. So the fact that this has been quite a long expansion doesn't lead me to believe that its days are numbered".

My research with Paul Beaudry and Dana Galizia tends to favour the former view, that we should be worried about a recession hitting the US economy in the next 18 months.

There are two reasons why we reach this conclusion. The first relies on a statistical analysis that uses only the age of an expansion to predict the probability of a recession. The second digs deeper into the very functioning of market economies.

First, we estimate in Beaudry and Portier (2019) the probability of the US economy entering a recession in the following year (or following two years), conditional on the expansion having lasted q quarters. This can be done in a parametric way based on the Weibull distribution, or non-parametrically using Kaplan and Meier's estimator of the survival function. Regardless of the method, and using post-WW2 US data, there is consistent evidence of age-dependence, as shown in Figure 1. For an expansion that has lasted only five quarters, the probability of entering a recession in the next year is around 10%, while this increases to 30-40% if the expansion has lasted over 35 quarters. Similarly, if looking at a two years window, we find the probability of entering a recession in the next two years raises from 25-30% to around 50-80% as the expansion extends from five quarters to 32 quarters (the exact probability depends on whether we use a parametric or a non-parametric approach).

Figure 1 Probability of an expansion ending in the next year, next year and a half, or next two years (parametric and non-parametric approach)

Notes : the dots are the non-parametric estimates. The thick lines are smoothed version of the dots. The dashed lines are the parametric estimates. Estimation is done using quarterly NBER data for expansions and recessions for the post-war sample (September 1945 to January 2019). The age of the expansion is in quarters.

The non-parametric estimates suggest that duration dependence is minimal for expansions lasting up to 25 quarters. But after 25 quarters, the duration becomes very apparent. For example, when an expansion ages from six years to nine years, the non-parametric estimates suggest that the probability of a recession within a year almost triples. If one looks in more detail at the initial phase of an expansion – up to eight quarters – there is also some evidence of positive duration dependence, reflecting the possible occurrence of double-dip recessions. Then from eight to 25 quarters, there appears instead to be negative duration dependence as the expansion takes hold, that is, during this phase the probability of entering a recession appears to decrease as the expansion ages. Finally, after 25 quarters the probability of entering a recession increases rapidly as the expansion gets old. This suggests that, when they are older than six years, expansions may be favouring the growth of certain vulnerabilities that may make the onset of a recession more likely. In other work (Beaudry et al. 2016), we have shown that US real and financial series tend to follow a cycle of length about ten years. Of course, this does not mean that there are deterministic cycles of ten years, but such a statistical regularity makes a recession all the more probable when the expansion reaches ten years of age. Obviously, we recognise that all our calculations are based on a small sample of data since recessions are rather rare. Our results are the best inference possible given this limited data.

Second, our recent work (Beaudry et al. 2016, 2017) has shown that a market economy, by its very nature, may create recurrent boom and bust independently of outside disturbances. This idea is well captured by the statement that "a bust sows the seed of the next boom". Although, such an idea has a long tradition in the economics literature (e.g. Kalecki 1937 or Hicks 1950), it is not present in most modern macro-models. According to this view, the economy builds up sources of vulnerabilities in expansions. Those vulnerabilities could be of a financial nature (for example the accumulation of debt/leverage or the concentration of risk or collateral among small sets of agents) or of a real nature (for example the excessive accumulation of durable goods or investment in housing). Because of such a build-up, one need not expect a bad shock to trigger a recession. Such a mechanism creates the type of duration dependence we have seen in the data, namely that as an expansion grows old, eventually the probability of a recession should increase.

To conclude, let us emphasise that the evidence and theory we are bringing forward do not imply a deterministic view of the business cycle. We shall not expect a recession to happen with probability one when the expansion reaches ten years of age. Analysts might find reasons to be concerned (Chinese slowdown, yield curve inversion, etc.). What we suggest is that, even in the absence of a sudden adverse shock, a recession is most likely to happen in the next one to two years, and that this risk is higher than what it was two years ago.

References available at original .

John Beech , May 4, 2019 at 9:23 am

Come on Lambert, the next recession is always just around the corner. But this one isn't ready to manifest in my opinion. Money is too cheap, employment is too strong, and the vested interests aren't setting conditions for it yet. Is it coming? You betcha, you're right to bring this up. Before 2020 voting? I doubt it. Democrats are going to have to win on the strength of their ideas.

ambrit , May 4, 2019 at 10:34 am

The definition of "employment" has changed since the end of WW-2.
Secondly, "money is too cheap" for only a small set of 'economic actors.' Here on "the Street,' money is as hard to find as it has ever been. Go to a bank and ask for a small loan. You'll get the eternal reply; "You can get a loan from us only if you don't need it."
Thirdly, remember "stagflation?" Watch out for the neo version.
Sequentially, "the next recession is always just around the corner." Well, the corollary is; "Good times are just around the corner." That corner gets a lot of traffic, going in both directions.
Finally, the Economic Boffins have staked out a position based on the premise that Macro drives Micro. From my degraded perspective, the opposite has just as much of a chance of being true.

tegnost , May 4, 2019 at 10:46 am

Democrats are going to have to win on the strength of their ideas.
Pretty sure that's snark but I'll fix it anyway
Democrats are going to have to win on another epic bait and switch

John Zelnicker , May 4, 2019 at 2:23 pm

@ambrit
May 4, 2019 at 10:34 am
-- -- -

Hi, ambrit. Excellent debunking of the previous comment.

Your last paragraph warrants a discussion, but this might not be the right place.

However, just consider that in mainstream academic economics, it's the "rational actor" with rational expectations and full knowledge of the future making decisions to maximize his marginal utility that drives the overall economy.

flora , May 4, 2019 at 4:06 pm

re your last para: I think in MBA school "rational actor" means "if you find a goose that lays golden eggs then kill it to get all the eggs inside it for yourself." /s

ambrit , May 4, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Hi John, how're you handling the inundation bands there? I see tons of rain moving through your area with great regularity. It doesn't rise to the level of a true monsoon, but it's pretty close for my taste.
I will steal the line from Lambert and say that the word 'rational' is carrying a lot of the load with mainstream economics. (I'd go so far as to characterize 'bubbles' of all sorts as examples of 'irrational expectations.') If the preceding were even somewhat true, then the "movers and shakers" of the economy would be essentially trying to manage a semi chaotic process. That prompts me to characterize the Fed as a national level "Economic Emergency Room," or EER. Alas for many of us, this EER has adopted the tried old casualty management technique of 'Triage.'
Hope your tax season treated you well.
ambrit and Phyl

jrs , May 4, 2019 at 10:52 am

I think non-recession could ride for awhile, wages haven't increased much, even if employment, by some definitions of employment (with a proliferation of contract and gig work, low labor force participation etc.), is strong.

Oregoncharles , May 4, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Again: since Clinton, the "major" parties have a deal: they take turns in the Presidency, 2 full terms at a time. I thought 2016 would be an exception, but no. Do you see anything to indicate that deal has been revoked?

Four .more .years.

Oregoncharles , May 4, 2019 at 2:01 pm

Come to think: which probably also means, no recession till after the next election.

ambrit , May 4, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Realistically, the "next" recession, (given that many of the people I meet every day 'on the Street' haven't recovered from the last one,) can start say, six months before the election proper and still not rise to political prominence by election day. The real killer here is the extent of this next recession. All the 'usual suspects' are lined up, but the underlying economy has suffered from some significant damages that haven't been repaired yet, if they ever will. With the 'extractive economic model' being applied to the socio-economic sphere, the changes will be pronounced and dire.
Short term thinking results in long term damage.

DHG , May 4, 2019 at 7:29 pm

Any Dem who breathes has better ideas than Trump, period

Summer , May 4, 2019 at 10:10 am

Boom bust will return to its regular schedule after people stop talking about that "scary" socialism.

flora , May 4, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Wonder if the ramp up in the US push against Venezuela is designed to create the "socialism is bad" meme in the US news ahead of the coming US election.

jsn , May 4, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Yes, I've recently had two NeoLib acquaintances try to argue there is no space, institutionally, between extractive NeoLib financial capitalism as practiced at present in the US and Bolshevism/Venezuela: it's either this or that.

It's absurdly brittle, but maybe plausible on social media, of which I'm totally ignorant except for what Lambert shares.

tegnost , May 4, 2019 at 10:37 am

I've been thinking about recession for a few days now and I must agree with Summer that in the current framework bernie style social democracy is the big fear, and the PTB, such as they are able, and I think it's safe to say when it comes to control fraud they are pretty able, will stave off a recession if it looks like a bernie style candidate is likely to win and dump it on their doorstep as they enter office. If they can find legs for a centrist dem, the recession will be dumped on trump. It must be an uncomfortable time in the halls of power. In the end, committed as they are to being moderate republicans, the pelosi dems would rather have trump, and the coming recession, which on the ground here I see little evidence of, will be saved for a reformer. That said I don't think the country can handle more homeless people it starts to look like the army at valley forge after a while. We'll see I guess

Oregoncharles , May 4, 2019 at 1:56 pm

The multitude of homeless are a feature of depressions. This one seems very well disguised, but we might want to reread ambrit's post, just above.

And speaking of " the army at valley forge" – remember the "bonus army?" Even FDR repressed them. That's probably what's next.

Wukchumni , May 4, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Hoover was the one that repressed the Bonus Army in 1932.

There was to be a 2nd Bonus Army march in 1933, but FDR made WW1 vets the first enlistees in the CCC, alleviating the problem.

They were paid their bonus in 1936, 9 years ahead of schedule.

Oregoncharles , May 4, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Sorry I got the culprit wrong. But one implication is that FDR, by the time he took office, had literally been read the riot act. At least he was rational enough to respond accordingly.

The bonus was due in 1945 – the end of WWII (and my year of birth)? Weird coincidence.

ambrit , May 4, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Another thing about the 'Bonus Army' of 1932 was that it was violently 'put down' by the Army, under the command of Douglass MacArthur, with D D Eisenhower an aide to MacArthur and G S Patton in charge of the cavalry contingent of the troops.
MacArthur was generally described by his contemporaries as a quintessential 'American Patrician.'

Jeremy Grimm , May 4, 2019 at 2:32 pm

I am growing very wary of economic and other analysis that draw sweeping inferences using statistical tools and data like " age of an expansion to predict the probability of a recession." I far prefer analysis that " digs deeper into the very functioning of market economies." However, I'm not sure the observation:
" the economy builds up sources of vulnerabilities in expansions. Those vulnerabilities could be of a financial nature (for example the accumulation of debt/leverage or the concentration of risk or collateral among small sets of agents) or of a real nature (for example the excessive accumulation of durable goods or investment in housing."
quite captures digging deeper into the "very functioning of market economies."

The current US economic 'expansion' seems an odd kind of expansion. Sitting at the side of this 'expansion' I am confused. What expanded? Looking in the local neighborhood, and in the side streets and at the centers of nearby cities, the expansion I see has a strange shape. I see homeless. I see harried faces rushing to unpleasant destinations. I see empty storefronts. And I see monstrous constructions of new buildings for the taste and grandeur pleasing a very few with monstrous taste. What kind of expansion is characterized by what appears to me like a growing market for used cars, used clothing, cheap easily discarded or dismantled furniture.

To me, this expansion appears an expansion based on returns extracted by reducing wages, leveraging corporate income streams to drive stock prices, and monopoly price gouging as markets are consolidated. I don't see any of the 'innovations' and increased productivity or increased affluence that drove some earlier 'expansions'. Through my lens this expansion appears one-sided and increasingly unstable. The processes driving the 'expansion' have a finite extent -- wages, income streams, and markets can only be squeezed so far before they can be squeezed no further. The economy has been restructured in ways that complicate monetary and fiscal policy blunting and redirecting their effects, when they are applied. I believe this further adds to the instability. The structure and processes of this expansion really do seem different this time. I suspect the crash will also be different this time.

polecat , May 4, 2019 at 7:22 pm

I'll tell you what 'expanded' .. Out of Business sales, for rent or lease, mucho garage/ yard sales .. selling mucho junk ! , vagrancy × ratty tents, panhandlers , "Will _ _ _ _ (pick a desperation !) for _ _ _ _ ( pick a need, real or otherwise), crowded Dollar Stores, fewer WallyWorlders, fewer farmer's market patrons, scummy vigiante types routing the homeless, increase in desperate food-bank recipients .. with children no less ! , savings dwindling whilst EVERY municiple tick and Corpserate Conenose sucks the lowly pleb to a dry husk while, conisidentally, always GETTING THEIRS' !!!! , BS politicians campaigning predicated on srcewing the commons, polecat doing what he can for self and family .. on the wing, because he sure as Hades ain't gonna start that small business he once desired, due to a GFC that NEVER REALLY ENDED !!! .. and has much fewer quatloos to hand over to the Man, be they local .. or those at the pinnacle of Empire !

I'm ready for the appearance of a benevolent dictator -- someone who'll ACTUALLY GET THINGS DONE for me and mine, for a change !

Ignacio , May 4, 2019 at 11:48 am

For me de question is what will be the canary in the coalmine next time. Are industrial new orders in Germany indicating a global slowdown or will prove temporary? Boeing? Oil?

ambrit , May 4, 2019 at 6:05 pm

I'm looking toward some large municipal debt defaults. Much of the recent infrastructure repair and replacement looks to be fuelled by municipal bonds, yet the underlying local economies are degrading. Already, the 'breaking point' for average people's ability to pay local taxes and fees is being reached. A cascade of defaults and 'restructurings' looks inevitable.

Wukchumni , May 4, 2019 at 6:10 pm

Look at the lawsuits municipalities are paying out, $20 million for that Australian lady murdered by a cop in Minneapolis

polecat , May 4, 2019 at 7:35 pm

Gravel roads will once again become popular along with the requisite amounts of choking dust and attendent potholes ! .. but hey at least it's a permeable membrane .. and mules can still navigate on, around, and through it

polecat , May 4, 2019 at 7:41 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if the more than the occasional bureaucrat gets 'restructured' as a result of increased rent/fee/assessment/tax skullduggery in a rather diminshed fiscal environment .

dcblogger , May 4, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I suspect that heroic measures will be taken to guarantee that any stock market crash will be delayed until after the November election.

JBird4049 , May 4, 2019 at 2:56 pm

They will try and probably succeed, but like in 2008, the system is such that it will soon crash, and if those conditions, like last time, happen there is nothing they can do.

McWatt , May 4, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Out here in retail land business is tough. We are still not back to 2006 sales levels. 13 years of rising costs, property taxes, etc. but still the same size sales pie to carve it all out of.

The big town put computerized parking boxes in and took out the old meters. You have to climb over snow drifts to start the process, then run back to car to try to get your license plate number, then use your credit card. Too complex for suburban punters. Now even in spring weather customers are voting with their feet.

The town has put a $1.50 per hour toll booth in front of our stores and the software vendor is getting a $.35 convenience for every credit card used.

"I just want to dip my hand in the money stream that flows outside my window"

Merf56 , May 4, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Ha!! That's exactly why I no longer go to our large nearby city to shop anymore and the same with the mid size town close by. Nice shops, great prices but messing around with the new central box parking is a no go for me if it isn't '70F and clear and I am not In a hurry. And that occurs here In the NE like twice a year public transport is not nearby to my home and would take me an extra 11/2 hr minimum to even try to use it. I know because I tried several times. It's also creepy filthy and chronically late

Cal2 , May 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Exactly why most of our friends in San Francisco boycott the city for commercial reasons. They time their drive over to California's wealthiest, healthiest and most educated county, Marin, to shop and spend the day avoiding rush hour or weekends. Unlimited free parking, far better weather, no car break ins, no piles of steaming human feces on the sidewalks, nor raving street crazies like in the city.

In addition, people are nicer and it's less crowded, with higher quality and less expensive stores than the city. Also, one is not handing their sales taxes to the city government that has, is and will continue to destroy San Francisco. Vote with your wallet.

Ten bucks in gas and the bridge toll for a delightful day and personal safety is worth it, versus paying upwards of six bucks an hour at parking meters in the city, if you can find parking then coming back and finding your are one of the 36,000 (per year) victims of a car break in.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/san-francisco-auto-burglary-hot-spots-12756952.php

Wukchumni , May 4, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Most people here never lock their car or home doors, I have to remind myself to do so when going to the Big Smokes.

marku52 , May 4, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Mixed bag out here in our little town of Medford OR. The chances of getting a job are clearly better than at any time under Blessed Obama. Almost every store and fast food joint has a "help wanted" sign. I even hear help wanted ads on commercial radio.

OTOH, lots of store fronts and houses are still boarded up, and the cardboard sign army gets bigger each year. Tons of trashy encampments around and through the local Bear Creek parkway.

"There's a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign, sitting there next to the left turn line
Flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze, one leg missing, both hands free

We can't make it here any more"

James McMurtry, Bard of the lost deplorables in middle America.

Merf56 , May 4, 2019 at 3:45 pm

I cannot understand why people are believing the employment numbers as meaning things are great. We are solidly upper middle class living in a solidly middle class area (Philadelphia western burbs). Within a couple of mile radius of my home just in the people we know their are 22 people, aged 59 to 19 (most with a college degree if they are over 22/23 or so) who are working part time or two or three part time jobs. Some lost really good professional type positions in downsizing ( a couple of engineers, a biologist and some computer geeks etc). Others are new grads who cannot get. Full time secure job( ie not on commission) , others had your old fashioned white collar jobs in finance, communications, marketing ,health and safety, Human Resources, insurance industry and on and on and were let go also in downsizing, moving jobs to cheAper places in the world and companies just cutting back
None of these part time pieces of garbage jobs come with any benefits whatsoever. They also do not allow people to work regularly scheduled hours so planning anything like a family outing or picnic or even a trip to the dentist is super difficult. Some weeks they get lots of hours some hardly any. Many are on Medicaid expansion now for their healthcare. God knows what will happen to them if some idiot gets in and does away with it.. I shudder to think
Is this really what America has become now going forward? If this is considered full employment by anyone in any profession of any party affiliation I would say we are now in the movie Idiocracy for real .. and we are in an ocean liner full of trouble going forward.

Tom Bradford , May 4, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Is the next recession around the corner?

If it wipes the smirk off Trump's face it might almost be worth it.

VietnamVet , May 4, 2019 at 6:04 pm

This is a strange article about a very strange world. There are no observations or data but it seems to be simply say that if the past is any guide to the future maybe hold onto your hat. NBC news last night had a glowing segment on how great the economy is doing and how unemployment is the lowest level since 1969 and wages are starting to raise. I remember 1969, besides flying off to Vietnam, there was no homelessness, education and healthcare were affordable and I easily got a summer job the year before working at the Seattle USDA lab. For the working middle class, it was a hell of lot better than today. The only way I can reconcile the cognitive dissidence between NC and NBC is that corporate media has gone completely over to the dark side and there is no correlation with state propaganda and reality. The scary part is that this is the exact same reason why the Soviet Union collapsed. There is no planning for the future. "Trust the invisible hand". But, it isn't a recession that we should worry about; it is the collapse of Empire and the global economy when the dollar stops being a world's reserve currency and the huge pile of debt that can't be paid off. Not to mention, in addition, blowback from the new Cold War with Russia, climate change, and the psychotic response of the elite to any loss of their wealth.

[May 03, 2019] Tucker Carlson Takes On Venezuela Intervention by Brad Griffin

Notable quotes:
"... As much as Trump has proven to be a disaster with his appointments of Bolton/Pompeo/E Abrams, things could still be worse. We could have wound up with Little Marco, the John McCain of his generation. All praise to Tucker for having the guts to go against the grain. ..."
"... The answer here is simple. When the President of of the US stated that he believed Russia under the instructions of Pres. Putin attempted to sabotage the democratic process, and from the mouths many of our leadership -- was successful he made a major power on the world stage a targeted enemy of the US. When that same president accused Pres. Putin of plotting the same in Europe and ordered the murders inside those sovereign states -- ..."
"... He essentially stated that our global strategic interests include challenging the Russian influence anywhere and everywhere on the planet as they are active enemies of the US and our European allies. What ever democratic global strategic ambitions previous to the least election were stifled until that moment. ..."
"... Sanctions and blockades are acts of war. Try doing it to Washington or one of its vassals, and watch the guns come out. ..."
"... Historically, sanctions are not an alternative to war; they are a prelude to it. Sanctions are how Uncle Scam generally softens up foreign countries in preparation for an invasion or some sort of 'régime-change' operation. ..."
"... All of this is smoke in mirrors. The real story is that Washington is headed for default on it's 22 trillion dollar debt and the Beltway Elites are losing it. They are desperate to start a conflict anywhere, but especially with an oil rich nation like Venezuela or Iran install their own puppets and keep this petro-dollar scam running a little while longer. ..."
"... Syria, Iraq and Libya were not destroyed for oil. Oil provided cover for the real reason. In fact, oil companies opposed war for oil. It doesn't benefit the US or those companies. Those three countries were and are Israel's primary enemies and neighbors and that is why they were destroyed. Only if you stick your head in the sand and ignore the enormous power of Israel and their Jewish supporters which is constantly on full display constantly can someone not see that. ..."
"... Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world. I'm pretty sure there are still lots of guns around. They're not using rocks to kill one another. The U.S. military richly deserves to get itself trapped in a Gaza type situation of house to house fighting in the favellas above Caracas. ..."
"... Trump is a Trojan horse under zionist control who had 5 draft deferments but now is the zionists war lord sending Americans to fight and die in the mideast for Israel just like obama and bush jr. , same bullshit different puppet! ..."
"... America is Oceania , war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength and I would add to what Orwell said, war in the zio/US is perpetual for our zionist overlords. ..."
"... Imperialists always see themselves as spreading good things to people who will benefit from them. And imperialists necessarily always dilute their own culture. ..."
"... If the imperialist culture is already rootless cosmopolitan, it will see no downside to the above. If the Elites of a culture have become cosmopolitans divorced from any meaningful contact with their own people (i.e. those of their own blood and history), then they will lead their people into ever more cultural pollution and perversion. ..."
"... Remember. The choice was between Trump and Clinton. Not Trump and Jesus. ..."
"... The funny thing is, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is united to a man on opposing the Trump administration's military interventions in Syria, Iran and Venezuela, but has failed at articulating its own ardent opposition to imperialism and its commitment to humanity and international peace. No one in American politics is more opposed to destructive regime change wars. ..."
"... I'm not sure what "Alt-Right" or "2.0 movement" really means in the current shills-vs-people wars but all the best and the brightest in our ranks are clearly against the globalists. ..."
May 03, 2019 | www.unz.com

H/T Daily Stormer

Venezuela illustrates why a 3.0 movement is necessary.

The funny thing is, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is united to a man on opposing the Trump administration's military interventions in Syria, Iran and Venezuela, but has failed at articulating its own ardent opposition to imperialism and its commitment to humanity and international peace. No one in American politics is more opposed to destructive regime change wars.

The Trump administration's interventions in Syria and Venezuela are victimizing mainly poor brown people in Third World countries. And yet, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is extremely animated and stirred up in a rage at the neocons who are currently running Blompf's foreign policy. Similarly, it has cheered on the peace talks between North Korea and South Korea.

Isn't it the supreme irony that the "racists" in American politics are the real humanitarians while the so-called "humanitarians" like Sen. Marco Rubio and Bill Kristol are less adverse to bloodshed and destructive wars in which hundreds of thousands of people die than the "racists"?


Endgame Napoleon , says: May 2, 2019 at 4:48 am GMT

It is ironic. There is also the issue of economic-based US interventionism, particularly in the oil-gifted nations mentioned. It's their oil. Since the US economy is oil-dependent -- and since fracking is a short-lived "miracle" of unprofitable companies that have already extracted the easy pickings -- it is the role of US leaders to make sure that we can buy oil from nations like Venezuela, keeping relations as good as possible for those means. But US leaders have no business telling them who should rule their country, much less stirring up trouble that can end up in bloodshed.

There's a comment on here about US forces and the Kurds in Syria, helping themselves to oil, while Syrians wait in long lines for gas in a country that is an oil fountain. I have no idea whether or not it is true, and since the US press would rather gossip than report, we'll probably never know. But since oil prices have gone up recently in the USA, it might be true, especially since politicians always want to pacify the serfs facing other unaffordable expenses, like rent. If true you can see how that would make the people in an oil-rich country mad.

lavoisier , says: Website May 2, 2019 at 12:44 pm GMT

Isn't it the supreme irony that the "racists" in American politics are the real humanitarians while the so-called "humanitarians" like Sen. Marco Rubio and Bill Kristol are less adverse to bloodshed and destructive wars in which hundreds of thousands of people die than the "racists"?

There is nothing ironic about your simple statement of fact. The humanitarians you mention are about as much interested in human rights as John Wayne Gacy. There is gold in them there hills, and their "friends" no longer control that gold. So we must go to war.

Rubio is running neck and neck in my mind as one of the most disgusting political whores of all time.

No simple accomplishment that.

follyofwar , says: May 2, 2019 at 2:01 pm GMT
@lavoisier

As much as Trump has proven to be a disaster with his appointments of Bolton/Pompeo/E Abrams, things could still be worse. We could have wound up with Little Marco, the John McCain of his generation. All praise to Tucker for having the guts to go against the grain.

Joe Stalin , says: May 2, 2019 at 4:31 pm GMT
V.I. Kydor Kropotkin: "Look, you want to save the world? You're the great humanitarian? Take the gun!"

[Hands James Coburn full-auto AR-15]

Dr. Sidney Schaefer: [firing machine gun] " Take that you hostile son of a bitch! " " The President's Analyst" (1967)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062153/

https://www.youtube.com/embed/mHQYPZqZ_kI?feature=oembed

conatus , says: May 2, 2019 at 5:21 pm GMT
Why not ship some AR-15s and and few million rounds with some 20 round clips?.Venezuela seized all private guns in 2012 to 'keep the people safe'
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-18288430

How is that working out now? Those are rocks those guys are throwing..right? Why not let THEM do the fighting and keep the guys from Ohio and Alabama here?

lavoisier , says: Website May 2, 2019 at 6:34 pm GMT
@follyofwar Yeah, McCain immediately comes to mind as the front runner.
A123 , says: May 2, 2019 at 8:37 pm GMT

The funny thing is, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is united to a man on opposing the Trump administration's military interventions in Syria, Iran and Venezuela

What Trump administration military intervention? Number of Boots on the ground:

It is quite amazing that Trump Derangement Syndrome [TDS] can take ZERO troops and falsely portray that as military intervention. In the real, non-deranged world -- Rational thought shows ZERO troops as the absence of military intervention.

Trying to use non-military sanctions to convince nations to behave better is indeed the exact opposite of military intervention. If the NeoConDem Hillary Clinton was President. Would the U.S. have boots on the ground in Iran And Venezuela?

Why is the Trump Derangement Syndrome [TDS] crowd so willing to go to war for Hillary while misrepresenting TRUMP's non-intervention?

Those who pathologicially hate Trump are simply not rational.

PEACE

EliteCommInc. , says: May 2, 2019 at 9:05 pm GMT
The answer here is simple. When the President of of the US stated that he believed Russia under the instructions of Pres. Putin attempted to sabotage the democratic process, and from the mouths many of our leadership -- was successful he made a major power on the world stage a targeted enemy of the US. When that same president accused Pres. Putin of plotting the same in Europe and ordered the murders inside those sovereign states --

He essentially stated that our global strategic interests include challenging the Russian influence anywhere and everywhere on the planet as they are active enemies of the US and our European allies. What ever democratic global strategic ambitions previous to the least election were stifled until that moment.

Until that moment foreign policy could have been shifted, but after that moment

-- fo'ge'd abou'd it.

Fidelios Automata , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:50 am GMT
Don't forget the genocide in Yemen. Wanting to exclude Yemenis from the USA means you're an evil racist, but turning a blind eye to mass murder is A-OK.
Biff , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:14 am GMT
@A123 Sanctions and blockades are acts of war. Try doing it to Washington or one of its vassals, and watch the guns come out.
wayfarer , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:28 am GMT
"Guiado Attempts a Coup in Venezuela."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/WAvbX3A7igk?feature=oembed

"Venezuela Uprising Day Two."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/edvjV0HfRRo?feature=oembed

xwray-specs , says: May 3, 2019 at 5:52 am GMT
Gold, Black Gold and Pirates : all about wealth and people getting in the way of the 21st Century Privateers who will stop at nothing including overthrowing governments in Syria, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere.
Anon [358] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 6:11 am GMT
Our deep state sure hates losing elections don't they? The lengths they will go to nullify voter will is a sight.
Digital Samizdat , says: May 3, 2019 at 6:32 am GMT
@A123 Historically, sanctions are not an alternative to war; they are a prelude to it. Sanctions are how Uncle Scam generally softens up foreign countries in preparation for an invasion or some sort of 'régime-change' operation.

I appreciate the fact that Team Trump has not actually sent in the tanks yet, whereas Hellary probably would have by now. Believe me, that is probably one of the very few good arguments in favor of Trump at this point. But if we want to make sure that he never does attack, then now is the time to make some noise– before the war starts.

Paul , says: May 3, 2019 at 8:20 am GMT
We do not need yet another U.S. imperialist adventure in Latin America.
JEinCA , says: May 3, 2019 at 8:26 am GMT
All of this is smoke in mirrors. The real story is that Washington is headed for default on it's 22 trillion dollar debt and the Beltway Elites are losing it. They are desperate to start a conflict anywhere, but especially with an oil rich nation like Venezuela or Iran install their own puppets and keep this petro-dollar scam running a little while longer.

If we weren't on the brink of economic collapse I could never see the Washington Elites risking it all with a game of nuclear chicken with Russia and China over Ukraine and Taiwan.

Anonymous [578] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 8:49 am GMT
This commentator lost me when he decided Guaido was as socialist as Maduro. Nope. He would not have US backing were that the case. I checked out Telesur on Youtube on April 30 – its continued functioning was one sign the coup attempt had failed. The comments section was full of Guaido supporters ranting about how much they hated Chavistas and socialists and some were asking where Maduro was, probably trying to sustain the myth that he had fled.
PeterMX , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:05 am GMT
"When was the last time we successfully meddled in the political life of another country" The answer to that, Tucker, depends on who you ask. While Syria, Iraq and Libya were "failures" because we were told we would bring peace and prosperity to those countries, that was not the goal of the architects of those wars, neither was it oil. The primary goal was to pacify these countries and neuter them so they would not stand up to their neighbor and enemy Israel. And if they had to be destroyed to accomplish that, that's fine. Minus Egypt, those three countries were Israel's primary enemies in the three Arab-Israeli wars. Venezuela is not "another" war for oil, but it might be the first.
PeterMX , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:19 am GMT
@Endgame Napoleon

Syria, Iraq and Libya were not destroyed for oil. Oil provided cover for the real reason. In fact, oil companies opposed war for oil. It doesn't benefit the US or those companies. Those three countries were and are Israel's primary enemies and neighbors and that is why they were destroyed. Only if you stick your head in the sand and ignore the enormous power of Israel and their Jewish supporters which is constantly on full display constantly can someone not see that.

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:20 am GMT
@EliteCommInc. The russians are not the ennemies of the europeans , the russians are europeans , the yankees are nor european .

If the yankees were the allies of the europeans , why they should need hundreds of military occupation bases in Europe ? why they should impose on europeans self defeating trade sanctions against Russia ? , strange " allies " .

Anon [424] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:28 am GMT
@conatus you are late conatus , the russians are building in Venezuela a factory of Kalasnikov rifles , and Maduro is traing a militia of two million men , to help the army .

https://www.defensa.com/venezuela/fabricacion-venezuela-fusil-ruso-ak-103-comenzara-2019

War for Blair Mountain , says: May 3, 2019 at 11:52 am GMT
If JFK were alive ..and POTUS in 2019 he would give the order to overthrow the Maduro Goverment .
Johnny Smoggins , says: May 3, 2019 at 12:13 pm GMT
@conatus Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world. I'm pretty sure there are still lots of guns around. They're not using rocks to kill one another. The U.S. military richly deserves to get itself trapped in a Gaza type situation of house to house fighting in the favellas above Caracas.
Avery , says: May 3, 2019 at 12:25 pm GMT
@War for Blair Mountain {If JFK were alive ..and POTUS in 2019 he would give the order to overthrow the Maduro Goverment .}

JFK was alive way back then, when he gave the order to overthrow Castro and the result was the Bay of Pigs disaster. And – for better or worse – Cubans are still running their own country, not some foreign installed puppet.

'The order to overthrow Maduro' today would have the same disasterous end.
It should be obvious by now, that despite all the hardships, majority of Venezuelans don't want a foreign installed puppet.

Z-man , says: May 3, 2019 at 12:28 pm GMT
Tucker ' Iz Da Man' ! Unfortunately he has to skate a fine line to dodge the arrows* of the Cabal of the right and the Cabal of the left .

*Arrows? No, BULLETS.

War for Blair Mountain , says: May 3, 2019 at 12:37 pm GMT
US Military Intervention in Venazuela .
Mick Jagger gathers no Mosque , says: May 3, 2019 at 12:52 pm GMT
What is really going on in Venezuela was anticipated long ago

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z1QVthvDhPo?feature=oembed

DESERT FOX , says: May 3, 2019 at 12:52 pm GMT
Carlson is right on Venezuela but was wrong on 911 truthers which he said back in September 2017, that 911 truthers were nuts! 911 which was done by Israel and the zionist controlled deep state lead to the destruction of the mideast for Israel and the zionist NWO!

Trump is a Trojan horse under zionist control who had 5 draft deferments but now is the zionists war lord sending Americans to fight and die in the mideast for Israel just like obama and bush jr. , same bullshit different puppet!

America is Oceania , war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength and I would add to what Orwell said, war in the zio/US is perpetual for our zionist overlords.

One more thing, if Venezuela did not have oil the zio/US would not give a damn about it!

Jake , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:15 pm GMT
Imperialists always see themselves as spreading good things to people who will benefit from them. And imperialists necessarily always dilute their own culture.

If the imperialist culture is already rootless cosmopolitan, it will see no downside to the above. If the Elites of a culture have become cosmopolitans divorced from any meaningful contact with their own people (i.e. those of their own blood and history), then they will lead their people into ever more cultural pollution and perversion.

Jews are a people who fit the opening sentence of the preceding paragraph. The WASP Elites fit the second sentence.

Fool's Paradise , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:19 pm GMT
If "no one is more opposed to destructive regime-change wars than the Alt-Right", it means that the Alt-Right are traditional conservatives, paleo-(as opposed to neo)conservatives. Real conservatives have always opposed getting into foreign wars that posed no threat to the U.S. They opposed Wilson lying us into WW1, Roosevelt lying us into WW2. When the neo-conservatives (American Jews loyal to Israel) got Washington under their thumb, we started our decades of disastrous regime-change wars based on lies, starting with the invasion of Iraq. Those neocon mf ers are still in charge.
DESERT FOX , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:46 pm GMT
@Johnny Walker Read Agree, the great zio/warlord got 5 deferments, but he will bomb any country the zionists put the hit on at the drop of a maga hat!

Trump is a zionist judas goat leading America to destruction for his zionist masters, and by the way his son-inlaw is mossad!

War is peace, ie the peace of the dead!

friendofanimals , says: May 3, 2019 at 1:52 pm GMT
Maduro was trading oil in non-Fed Reserve, Jew-Dollar just like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria. can't have that .
Anonymous [392] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:02 pm GMT
An Alt Right 2.0 concept that is compassionate with the damage done by US war and economic exploitation against the poorest people of the world who are mostly brown people is an interesting concept.

But I think it will ultimately fail, since so many of the white people who make up the Alt Right are angry with minorities and see them as a lower race. And these white people are more interested in playing the victim card anyways.

TKK , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:07 pm GMT
@A123 You speak truth and cite facts, these loons go bananas.

Thank God they have no real power.

Hopefully they don't even own a hamster . probably would make the little fella read Mien Kempf.

Because a hamster reading is just as cogent and linear as their arguments.

They are frustrated they cannot find a way to blame the Jews! for Maduro being a greedy murdering sweathog who lets zoo animals starve while he looks like animated male cellulite.

Funny- in their prostrations to dictators ( these retards actually defend and admire Jong-Un) they conveniently have omitted Putin is cutting Russia from the WWW- the Internet.

They will have a Russia intranet.

Pointing out to the obtuse daily commenters that under the tyrants that practically fellate- they would be arrested and tortured for their Unz hissy fits and word diarrhea

-Does not compute.

TKK , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:16 pm GMT
@Johnny Walker Read All those words, and nary a coherent point made.

Nationwide radio talk show? Wow! What's the station name, number and air time?

If you listen to people with actual media shows, they don't call people TROLL just because they have a different opinion. They don't engage in female hysterical ranting because someone has a different idea about the mechanics of the world.

Who are your sponsors? I can't imagine you would not want the free publicity .

wayfarer , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:22 pm GMT
"Venezuela 'Coup Attempt' Footage They Don't Want You to See." https://www.youtube.com/embed/6OzF5ktFiCk?feature=oembed

"Massive Deception Coming From Corporate Media on Venezuela." https://www.youtube.com/embed/JjXzw51GZtc?feature=oembed

peter mcloughlin , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm GMT
I agree, there is irony in labels, in trying to tell who is more disposed towards 'bloodshed and destructive wars in which hundreds of thousands of people die'. Why do we fight? It is for power. Power (manifested as interest) has been present in every conflict of the past – no exception. It is the underlying motivation for war. Other cultural factors might change, but not power. Interest cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics – everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interest. It is power, not any of the above concepts, that is the cause of war. And that is what is leading the world to nuclear Armageddon.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
Johnny Walker Read , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:42 pm GMT
@TKK My sponsors are truth and America first. All Zionist hucksters are on my hit list. Again, I suggest you and yours consider "making aliyah".
https://www.nbn.org.il/
HallParvey , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:47 pm GMT
@A123

What Trump administration military intervention?

Number of Boots on the ground:
-- Syria -- Reduced vs. Obama, at most a few thousand
-- Iran -- ZERO
-- Venezuela -- Again ZERO

We will see in the future. Trump has to stir the pot. The foaming at the mouth media and his political opposition, in both parties, need something to blather on about. Jus like rasslin'. Remember. The choice was between Trump and Clinton. Not Trump and Jesus.

Gapeseed , says: May 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm GMT
@TKK Oh, I see a point there, and it's an interesting one – openly Christian presidents discredit their Christianity by engaging in non-righteous wars. After contemplating the point, I don't think the foreign policy of W or Trump is anywhere close to being the primary factor in the decline in church attendance. After all, the Catholic Church and other denominations are mired in myriad sex scandals, the internet pulls people from God with private depravity, science offers compelling hows if not whys, entertainment options abound, and so on. Nonetheless, an orthodox and faithful Christian president committed to peace and not fighting for oil or foreign interests would be a thing to behold. With caveats relating to perceived sanity, that person would get my vote.
Anon [398] Disclaimer , says: Website May 3, 2019 at 2:52 pm GMT
But nothing seems to happen to the scumbags.
EliteCommInc. , says: May 3, 2019 at 3:00 pm GMT
"The russians are not the ennemies of the europeans , the russians are europeans , the yankees are nor european . "

These comments don't make any sense to me based on what I wrote. My comments have no bearing on whether the Russians are an actual threat or not. I see them as competitors with whom there are some places to come to some agreements. They doesn't mean I truth them.

Furthermore, my comments have no bearing on the territorial nature of Russian ethos. That's not the point. Europeans have been at each other since there were Europeans. From the Vikings and before to Serbia and Georgian conflicts. But none of that has anything to do with my comments.

You might want to read them for what they do say as opposed to what you would like them to say.

Agent76 , says: May 3, 2019 at 3:04 pm GMT
Jul 26, 2017 CIA director hints US is working to topple Venezuela's elected government

CIA Director Mike Pompeo indirectly admitted that the US is pushing for a new government in Venezuela, in collaboration with Colombia and Mexico.

Feb 22, 2019 An Ocean of Lies on Venezuela: Abby Martin & UN Rapporteur Expose Coup

On the eve of another US war for oil, Abby Martin debunks the most repeated myths about Venezuela and uncovers how US sanctions are crimes against humanity with UN investigator and human rights Rapporteur Alfred De Zayas.

EliteCommInc. , says: May 3, 2019 at 3:09 pm GMT
"After all, the Catholic Church and other denominations are mired in myriad sex scandals . . ."

Not even to the tune of 4%, and I am being generous. The liberals have managed to make the Church look a den of NAMBLA worshipers -- hardly. In the west the Churches are under pressure from the same sex practitioners to reject scriptural teachings on the behavior, but elsewhere around the world, Catholic institutions, such as in Africa -- reject the notion.

The scandal is more fiction that reality --

A123 , says: May 3, 2019 at 3:11 pm GMT
@TKK Thanks. Ignoring mindless trolls is a necessary skill for the site.
____

Given the end of the Mueller exoneration, both Trump and Putin are looking to strengthen ties. Thus it is:

-- Unlikely that Putin is heavily committed to helping Maduro. The numbers are too small for that. Also, what would Putin do with Maduro? The last thing Putin needs is a spoiler to the developing detente.

-- Much more likely the troops have a straightforward purpose. Brazilian military/aerospace technology would jump ahead 20 years if they could grab an intact S-300 system. Russia doesn't want a competitor in that market, so they have a deep interest in reclaiming or destroying S-300 equipment as Maduro goes down.

PEACE

Gapeseed , says: May 3, 2019 at 3:40 pm GMT
@EliteCommInc. You are certainly right. I have no doubt that the vast majority of priests are good men innocent of these charges, and that there are more public school sex scandals (by both raw numbers and percentage) then similar Church scandals. The scandals do have public currency and legs, though, and are one reason often cited as to why the pews are empty. I am at fault for helping to keep this ruinous perception alive with my online rhetoric, and thank you for pointing it out.
Wally , says: May 3, 2019 at 3:47 pm GMT
@PeterMX Bingo!

' It's the oil ' canard has always been the excuse cultivated for suckers, and boy do suckers fall for it.

US oil companies have not received the big oil deals in countries where the US, at the behest of "that shitty little country", have interfered militarily. However, Russia, China, & to a limited degree, a few European companies have.

follyofwar , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:06 pm GMT
@PeterMX Bibi's biggest enemy, his main prize, has always been Iran. He is afraid that, if Trump refuses to do his bidding now, it may well be too late in an election year. One way or another Bolton and Pompeo are going to convince their token boss to green light a massive bombing campaign, especially if Iran attempts to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. It will happen this year if Trump fails to come to his senses.
Digital Samizdat , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:33 pm GMT
@Scalper In the first place, your bizarre partisan rant is a little out of place. There aren't too many QAnons here at Unz, and there are probably a fair number of regulars here who wouldn't even identify as Republicans or 'conservatives' (whatever that term means today).

Secondly, some of your talking points aren't even accurate:

Trump administration will declare Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, increasing the animosity from Arab countries in the ME to unbelievable levels. This includes non Arab country Turkey also, a traditional ally until neocon Trump took power.

If Trump were truly to declare the Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization, a lot of Arab rulers would actually thank him. You see, the Brotherhood is actually illegal in most Arab countries today, precisely because it has a history of collaborating with foreign intelligence services such as MI6, the CIA and Mossad. More recently, it was strongly associated with failed régime-change projects in countries like Egypt and Syria; so with a few exceptions (like Qatar), the Brotherhood is not well liked by Arab rulers.

Immigration restrictionism is a traditional pro working class, leftist policy.

Traditionally leftist? Sure up until the Hart-Celler Act of 1965! The sad fact is, we don't an anti-immigration party in the US at all today. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have any interest whatsoever in halting–or even just slowing down–immigration.

follyofwar , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:34 pm GMT
@PeterMX It's obvious that FOX is giving Tucker a lot of latitude. They continued to support him when advertisers left, and when accusations of racism emerged from a radio interview he'd done years ago with a shock jock. They dare not fire him as he has the largest and most fervent base of supporters on cable news. But Tucker knows that there is one big issue, the Elephant in the room, of which he dare not speak. It's that shitty little country calling the shots, whose name begins with an I.
Digital Samizdat , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:40 pm GMT
@Anonymous I think there may be more alt-righters opposed to foreign wars and exploitative 'free' trade treaties than you assume. Most of the alt-righters I know oppose the current régime's "invade the world, invite the world" policies (to borrow a phrase from our own Steve Sailer). But unlike the anti-imperialist left (with whom they often do ally), they usually argue against such policies based on popular self-interest rather than abstract universal morality. They usually choose to argue that being a mighty world empire has worked to the detriment of the majority of people in America; that the whole thing is just a scam to enrich and empower a small, corrupt élite.
joe webb , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:45 pm GMT
what goes unremarked here and elsewhere is the ethnic composition of Venezuela. From a few searches, Whites are only about one-third of V.

The Tipping Point for chaos is clear. Brazil is half White, Argentina is near 100 % White, ditto Chile. (Argentina ca. 1900 exterminated a large number its "Indigenous." ) The most stable of Latin America is Costa Rica, which is apparently about three quarters White.

Meanwhile the jewyorktimes reports the narco-traffickers in the Maduro administration.

Hopeless. Any Brown or Black Country is doomed. Brazil works cuz Whites know how to control the 45% mulattos and 5 % Blacks. For now anyway. Mexico is a narco-state with the only 9% Whites able to control the half breeds and Indigenous thru co-option. Wait for Mexico to blow up.

Joe Webb

Republic , says: May 3, 2019 at 4:46 pm GMT
Tucker's viewpoints seem to indicate a split in the US ruling class. US Bipartisan Unity on Venezuela Starting to Crumble. which is very good news!
DESERT FOX , says: May 3, 2019 at 6:02 pm GMT
@joe webb The major drug runners in the world are the cia and the mossad and mi6.
twocalves , says: May 3, 2019 at 6:31 pm GMT
@Endgame Napoleon https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-30/us-troops-syria-long-haul-atop-lot-oil-resources-top-pentagon-official
tldr ; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East says us occupying syria, because we much stronger
DESERT FOX , says: May 3, 2019 at 6:49 pm GMT
@anonymous Agree, and the same can be said of Hannity, who is another warmonger for his zionist masters.
Mike P , says: May 3, 2019 at 7:11 pm GMT
@follyofwar

It's that shitty little country calling the shots, whose name begins with an I.

Yes, those gosh-darn Icelanders.

Anonymous [173] Disclaimer , says: May 3, 2019 at 7:35 pm GMT

The funny thing is, the Alt-Right or the 2.0 movement is united to a man on opposing the Trump administration's military interventions in Syria, Iran and Venezuela, but has failed at articulating its own ardent opposition to imperialism and its commitment to humanity and international peace. No one in American politics is more opposed to destructive regime change wars.

That's an amazing point. I'm not sure what "Alt-Right" or "2.0 movement" really means in the current shills-vs-people wars but all the best and the brightest in our ranks are clearly against the globalists.

Robjil , says: May 3, 2019 at 9:59 pm GMT
@Avery The Deep state/CIA did the Bay of Pigs. JFK was not informed about it before it happened. JFK was fighting the CIA and deep state throughout his presidency. He wanted to shatter the CIA into a million pieces. Read "JFK and the Unspeakable" by James W. Douglass. His peace speech on June 10, 1963 was too much for our deep state. That speech was the biggest triggers that set the motion for his assassination.
Realist , says: May 3, 2019 at 10:24 pm GMT
@War for Blair Mountain

US Military Intervention in Venazuela .

=

Unending Wounded Warrior Project Infomercials

Why do the naive people have to beg for donations ..make the warmongers pay.

Realist , says: May 3, 2019 at 10:26 pm GMT
@Jake

Imperialists always see themselves as spreading good things to people who will benefit from them.

No they don't .They see power and wealth.

Acknowledging Gravity , says: May 3, 2019 at 10:45 pm GMT
Whatever anyone thinks about the Alt-Right it did expose a lot of things about our current era, our history, our politics, and power paradigms that once seen can not be unseen.

And what are you going to do about it? What can anyone really do, honestly?

Not too much at least in America. Eastern Europe still has a good chance.

In America, the trajectory and machinations of power have been set for a long time and revolutionary romanticism tends to work better for the Left than the Right. A quick look at the data easily reveals this.

So what do you do when you realize how so much of everything that's presented as real and true isn't real or true? And there are so many truly bad human beings with major power over our culture, politics, and society?

Well, when has that not been the case in human history? At some point, acknowledging all the black pills is sort of like accepting your human limits, your finitude, your genetics, the unanswered mysteries of existence, the nothingness of Earth in the grand scheme, and just basic gravity.

You could become a courageous online revolutionary and eventually trigger some unstable person to get things shut down and deplatformed.

Or you could organize with socially and psychologically healthy and mature adults who try to prioritize attainable and realistic goals and gain some moralizing victories that can buffer against the demoralizing defeats.

Luckily, out of the winter of our discontent have emerged many healthy tendrils of new growth.

[May 02, 2019] If The U.S. Economy Is So Great, Why Are So Many Workers Miserable

May 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

If The U.S. Economy Is So Great, Why Are So Many Workers Miserable?

by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/02/2019 - 17:45 2 SHARES Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Millennial and generation Z workers are becoming increasingly miserable with their jobs and careers. Since we are told several times a day by the media that the economy is booming, why are so many young workers so disastrously melancholy all the time?

The mental well being of the American worker hit an all-time low in 2018, according to a report by Barron's . That's a bit shocking considering the economy is booming and wages are rising, right? Well, wages aren't rising that much, and much of the consumer spending is being put on credit cards , creating a vicious cycle of depression and consumerism that will repeat for a lot of folks.

Americans Are Financially And Mentally Unstable: Crippling Debt Is Linked To Chronic Depression

"When you're struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives," said Helen Undy the institute's chief executive. "Yet despite how connected these problems are, financial services rarely think about our mental health, and mental health services rarely consider what is happening with our money."

So why are we constantly being told everything is fine? The mainstream media loves to say that the U.S. is nearly ten years into one of the longest economic expansions in history, unemployment is the lowest it's been in almost half a century, and employees have more job choices than they've had in years. But there's just one problem. That's not actual truthful when taking all of the data into consideration. Sure, unemployment is low the way the government calculates it, but there's a reason for that. 102 million Americans are no longer "in the workforce" and therefore, unaccounted for.

Michael Snyder, who owns the Economic Collapse Blog s ays: "Sadly, the truth is that the rosy employment statistics that you are getting from the mainstream media are manufactured using smoke and mirrors."

When a working-age American does not have a job, the federal number crunchers put them into one of two different categories. Either they are categorized as "unemployed" or they are categorized as "not in the labor force".

But you have to add both of those categories together to get the total number of Americans that are not working.

Over the last decade, the number of Americans that are in the "unemployed" category has been steadily going down, but the number of Americans "not in the labor force" has been rapidly going up.

In both cases we are talking about Americans that do not have a job. It is just a matter of how the federal government chooses to categorize those individuals. – Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog

That could partially explain the misery some are feeling, but those who have jobs aren't happy either. They are often reeling from student loan and credit card debt. Being depressed makes shopping feel like a solution, but when the bill comes, the depression once again sets in making this a difficult cycle to break for so many just trying to scrape by.

Depression and suicide rates are rising sharply and other than putting the blame on superficial issues, researchers are at a loss as to the real reason why. But could it possibly be that as the elite globalists continue to take over the world and enslave mankind, people are realizing that they aren't meant to be controlled or manipulated, but meant to be free?

There's something we are all missing all around the globe. Could it possibly be free will and a life of freedom from theft and violent coercion and force that's missing?


Sick , 31 minutes ago link

Freedom to assemble is gone. That would be the only way for the awake people to make a change. Unfortunately everyone is glued to their electronics

CashMcCall , 57 minutes ago link

When even your own article lies to everyone... so the modern person that does well are those who lie the best and are the best con artists. Trump is an example. Low talent High con.

Example the US unemployment number.

Only the pool of unemployed that is Presently eligible for unemployment benefits is counted in the Unemployment number. That means self employed, commissioned workers, contractors etc are not included in the pool of unemployment even if they are out of work because they are unemployment ineligible.

Thus, over time, as unemployment benefits are lost, the unemployment pool shrinks. This is called a mathematical regression. How far does it shrink? To the point of equilibrium which is roughly 4% in which new persons enter the work force to the same extent of those losing benefits and being removed and become invisible.

Thus, Unemployment is a bogus number grossly understating truthful Unemployment. This method was first used under Obama and persists today under the Orange poser.

Nepotism and Affirmative action

Why would this make people unhappy? Chronic underemployment. Advancement is mostly by nepotism or affirmative action the flip side of the same coin. The incoming Harvard Class this year was 30% legacy student... and 30% affirmative action and the rest be damned. Happy?

Feminism has gripped the workplace.

Men hate working for female bosses. They don't trust them, they don't trust their judgment which often looks political and never logical. Men feel those women were promoted because of gender.

I saw this years ago in a clean room at National Semiconductor. A woman was put in charge of a team of roughly 30 white nerd males. She was at them constantly for not locking doors behind them and other menial infractions. She could not comprehend the complexity of the work or how inspiration operates but she would nag them and bully them.

At another facility there was a genius that would come to work and set up a sleeping bag and go to sleep under his desk. He was a Unix programmer and system engineer. So when something went wrong they would wake him and he would get up, solve the problem and go back to sleep.

Then the overstuffed string of pearls showed up as the new unit boss. She was infuriated that somebody would dare sleep on the clock and so blatantly. So she would harass him and wake him. Then one day she got so mad she started kicking him while he was sleeping. He grabbed his sleeping bag and briefcase and stormed out.

Ultimately the woman's boss took her to task and explained to her that it didn't matter if that employee slept under his desk because when he worked to solve problems only he could solve he saved the company millions. She was fired. As a token stipulation the sleeping genius came back and a sign was posted on his desk. "Kicking this employee is grounds for immediate dismissal."

Usually the nerd walks and just gets replaced by some diversity politician and string of pearls then sets the tone by making the workplace ****. Women simply are not as intelligent as men and pretending they are just wrecks morale of the people who are really intelligent. The rise of the shoulder padded woman string of pearls bully is a scourge to one and all.

bizznatch14 , 2 hours ago link

Simple answer: because people are spineless and terrible negotiators.

Long answer: for years the adage has been "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" or "find a good job and never leave" or "work your way to the top" or "be a hard worker, trust your leadership, keep your head down, and don't make waves."

********.

If you do what you love, you'll learn to hate it. Welcome to misery.

Upward mobility doesn't happen unless you leave. If you're a good little productive worker drone, management has no incentive to give you more than 1-3% raises every year to keep you 'loyal.' Once you've wasted 20 or so years being a robot, welcome to misery.

Nobody gets promoted unless you're a useless ***-kisser who fails to be productive and hasn't done anything egregious enough to get canned. Once you've been passed by for that promotion you want enough times, welcome to misery.

The people making the decisions at the top are the useless ***-kissers that can't do what you do but they talk a good game. Most of them are case studies in the Peter Principle. Once you realize that the 'top' consists of nothing but fuckwads, welcome to misery.

The only way to get ahead and get what you want out of a career is to develop the skills you need and market yourself top someone who'll pay you what you're worth.

Develop strong negotiation skills early, know your market value, and don't be afraid of change.

Employer loyalty is a farce; if you think your employer is loyal to you, I've got some oceanfront property in New Mexico to sell you.

Interested_Observer , 2 hours ago link

All the good jobs are being taken over by "imported labor" who are getting paid 1/2 of what Americans are getting paid.

There is no longer upward mobility unless you are part of an Indian Mafia.

Enjoy working for these freaks who treat everyone like crap?

[May 01, 2019] Ray Dalio: Capitalism Is Broken; Dalio Was The Highest Earning American Of 2018

May 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Less than a month ago, Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio was warning the world that there would be a "revolution" unless the country could fix its income inequality problem. He's also been repeatedly claiming that capitalism is broken.

Broken, that is, for everyone other than Ray Dalio , who was last year's best paid hedge fund manager, according to DealBook ; and since hedge funders generate the highest current income of all "workers", he was effectively the highest paid American in 2018 (this, of course, excludes capital gains and other non-current income), when it is estimated that Dalio earned $2 billion over the last 12 months , up from a reported $1.3 billion in 2017.

Dalio beat out other big names like Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies, who earned $1.5 billion, Ken Griffin of Citadel, who earned $870 million, David Shaw of D.E. Shaw, who earned $500 million, Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management, who earned $465 million and Steve Cohen of Point72, who earned a tiny, by his standards, $70 million.

Of course, this raises the obvious question of whether or not Dalio is doing enough to reform a system that he rails against. "As most of you know, I'm a capitalist, and even I think capitalism is broken," Dalio wrote on Twitter in early April. He then defended the hedge fund business model to NPR last week, stating: "If you were to ask the pensioners and you were to ask our clients, who are teachers or firemen, whether we've contributed to their well-being, they would say that they, we, contribute."

Andrew Ross Sorkin questioned whether or not Dalio is putting his money where his mouth is: "...the magnitude of the hedge fund managers' compensation raises a very basic question about whether capitalism is 'broken'. Even if Mr. Dalio took home $500 million, the rest of his income could pay 10,000 families $150,000 each. "

For a little over a year now, Dalio has been warning any journalist who will listen that the looming market crash and economic downturn, which always seems to be between a year or two years away, will stress the fraying fabric of our disintegrating capitalist system to the point where it simply breaks apart. Central banks, already out of ammo from their pre-crisis stimulus programs will be powerless to pull us back from the precipice, and with our federal debt burden already so heavy, Congress will have little wiggle room to spend us out of the mess (that is, unless they finally cave to the MMTers).

But in his latest 18-page treatise entitled "Why and How Capitalism Needs To Be Reformed (Part 1)" , published - as per usual - on LinkedIn, Dalio kicks his fearmongering approach up to '11', surpassing redistributive rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and going straight for Vladimir Lenin.

According to Dalio, the flaws in the American capitalist system are breeding such horrific inequality between the wealthy and the poor that at some point in the not-too-distant future, the only sensible recourse for the unwashed masses will be a bloody revolution.

To support this theory, Dalio points to statistics showing that the bottom 60% of Americans are lagging further and further behind the top 40% in the areas of education, social mobility, assets, income and - crucially - health. American men earning the least will likely die ten years earlier than those making the most.

In previous essays, Dalio has warned about the threat of economic populism (the anti-establishment trend that helped deliver both Brexit and President Trump's stunning upset victory over Hillary Clinton). Now, he's apparently identifying with populists of a different stripe (namely, those on the left). All of these sources of inequality, Dalio argues, represent an "existential threat" to the American economy, that will only be exacerbated by falling competitiveness relative to other nations and the "high risk of bad conflict."

Conveniently absolving himself and his fellow billionaires of any blame for this sad state of affairs, Dalio claimed that the cause of this sad state of affairs was simply a poorly designed system that can, with a little effort, be corrected.

"These unacceptable outcomes aren't due to either a) evil rich people doing bad things to poor people or b) lazy poor people and bureaucratic inefficiencies, as much as they are due to how the capitalist system is now working," Dalio said.

Maybe we're just conservative old fashioned pragmatists, but isn't there a bit of extremely convenient hypocrisy in calling for socialism in the year that capitalism made you the best paid person in America? And, if we're mistaken, why isn't Dalio shelling out his billions for the cause he so loudly has been advocating for?

John Law Lives , 18 minutes ago link

That's brilliant. The middle class is getting blown away like dust in the wind, and one dude makes an estimated $2 Billion in 12 months betting on a rigged game. It this what has become of the American dream?

Banana_Republic_FUBAR

[Apr 30, 2019] Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision

She rips the Obama White House for its allegiance to Citibank. But she does nto understadn that the problem is not with Citibank, but with the neoliberalism as the social system. Sad...
Democrats and Republicans are just two sides of the same coin as for neoliberalism. Which presuppose protecting banks, like Citigroup, and other big corporations. The USA political system is not a Democracy, we have become an Oligarchy with a two Party twist (Poliarchy) in whihc ordinary voters are just statists who have No voice for anyone except approving one of the two preselected by big money candidates. It's time we put a stop to this nonsense or we'll all go down with ship.
Anyway, on a positive note "Each time a person stands up for an ideal to improve the lot of others, they send forth a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistence." RFK
Dec 12, 2014 | www.youtube.com

http://warren.senate.gov

Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke on the floor of the Senate on Dec. 12, 2014 about the provision that Citigroup added to the omnibus budget package.


Amazing Atheist , 4 years ago (edited)

The fact that it is almost shocking to see a politician actually advocating for the interest of their constituency is rather sad, don't you think? 

Nature Boy , 4 years ago

I wonder what kind of defamation scheme the Citi conmen are cooking up in response to Senator Warren's speech. She is truly a diamond in the rough-

cabiker91 , 4 years ago

This budget deal is absolutely disgusting. More financial deregulation, the potential for a second TARP, cuts to pensions, and cuts to funding for Pell Grants to help out students. Once again, the people lose.

dan10things , 4 years ago

So tough, so strong, and so right. And I love that she's not afraid to rip into Democrats and the White House for their complicity in selling out our country and tax dollars to the big banks. We need more strong politicians on both sides of the aisle like this.

Mark A. Johnson , 4 years ago

I wish more politicians had the courage to stand up to Wall Street the way you do. Loved your speech and please keep the heat on.

TheBambinoitaliano , 4 years ago

It's not party specific, though the Republicans are the worst. Both parties are to be blame. The biggest blame goes to the Americans who do not vote and those who have no clue who or what they are voting for. The government is the way it is, it's because of the attitude of Americans towards politics. Majority do not give a shit and hence you have that pile up in Washington and states legislature.

Elizabeth Warren is like a fictional do gooder character from Hollywood. No one take her seriously.

Blame all the politicians you want, you Americans voting or not voting are the lousiest employers in the world, because you hire a bunch of corruptors into your government. These corruptors in fact control your lives.

They abuse your money, spending every penny on everything but on you. You would not hand over your wallet or bank accounts to a strangers, yet are precisely doing that by putting these corruptors in the government.

Author F.E Feeley Jr. , 4 years ago

"I agree with you: Dodd Frank isn't perfect-- it should have broken you into pieces." Give em Hell Elizabeth! 

Stikibits , 4 years ago (edited)

The USA is run by crooks. There'll be a few changes when Senator Warren is President Warren. Warren/Sanders 2016!

Nick Lento , 4 years ago (edited)

This speech encapsulates and exposes all that is wrong with America in general and with our governance in particular. Taking the heinous provision out of the bill would be a great first baby step toward cleaning up our politics, economy and collective spirit as a nation. All the "smart money" says that Warren is engaged in a Quixotic attempt to do something good in a system that is irredeemably corrupted by money and the lust for power. The cynics may be right, perhaps America is doomed to be consumed by the parasites to the last drop of blood...but maybe not. Maybe this ugly indefensibly corrupt malevolent move to put the taxpayers back on the hook for the next trillion dollar bail out theft will be sufficient to wake up hundreds of millions of us. When the people wake up and turn on the lights, the crooks and the legally corrupt will slither away back into their hole...and many may just wind up in prison, where they belong. But so long as corrupt dirty dastardly interests can keepAmerica deceived and asleep, they will continue to drain our nation's life's blood dry. Please share this video widely. If half as many folks watch this speech as watched the Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball" YouTube, the provision to which Warren is objecting will be taken out very quickly indeed.

Gregory Ho , 4 years ago

Socialize the costs and privatize the profits! Yeeha! - Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup

JIMJAMSC , 4 years ago (edited)

As George Carlin said a decade ago,who are we going to replace these politicians with? They did not fall out of the sky or come from a distant planet. They are US. You can vote all you want and replace every last one of them but nothing will change. It is human nature. Besides the road from being on the local town council, to the mayor,Gov then into the Capital is littered with test to weed out anyone who might really pose a danger to the system. The occasional odd one that does make it to power is castrated or there simply to give the illusion that elections matter. Unless you can eliminate the attraction of greed,ego and power nothing will ever change. Just a quick look back at history tells you what is happening now and what will be going on in our future. The only difference is there are more zeros.

[Apr 30, 2019] Concerning net revenue and production. The problem is not future price of oil. The problem is the past price of oil. Two-thirds of the total lifetime production of one of these shale wells comes out of the ground in the first two years

Notable quotes:
"... In a properly accounted world all of those wells from 2 years ago which cannot be repay their debt should have that debt apply to the new wells that are drilled now -- and erase their profit. This is forever, by the way. Anytime oil drops below whatever 60, or 55 or 50, the wells drilled then and the money borrowed to drill them is essentially guaranteed to get applied to future wells. ..."
"... But this won't happen. When you have to have the oil you get the oil. ..."
Apr 30, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher : 04/26/2019 at 2:32 am

Not going to scroll up for the spreadsheet above, not easy where I am sitting right now.

Concerning net revenue and production. The problem is not future price of oil. The problem is the past price of oil. Two-thirds of the total lifetime production of one of these shale wells comes out of the ground in the first two years. The price was sub-60 a couple of years back and that oil flowed and generated only that much money. That well's debt is not going to get repaid by that well. The oil came out at a lower price and that deal is done.

This means that the month number where revenue becomes negative is much sooner. And if things were logical and money was not created from thin air, the fact that the well in question cannot repay its debt does not make the debt go away.

In a properly accounted world all of those wells from 2 years ago which cannot be repay their debt should have that debt apply to the new wells that are drilled now -- and erase their profit. This is forever, by the way. Anytime oil drops below whatever 60, or 55 or 50, the wells drilled then and the money borrowed to drill them is essentially guaranteed to get applied to future wells.

But this won't happen. When you have to have the oil you get the oil.

[Apr 30, 2019] Can Trump bully OPEC to maintain low oil price necessary for his reelection?

Notable quotes:
"... Currently the only countries on Earth with production capacity above their production is Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Canada, and possibly Russia. The rest are producing at their capacity. ..."
"... Russia is within 100,000 barrels per day of their peak possible production. ..."
"... Sending troops into Venezuela in the 2020's might be the coup de grace to both our budget and sense of unity as a nation. Here's hoping the politicians don't go there. ..."
"... For years and years Ukraine paid GAZPROM a price for natural gas roughly 1/3 what the EU was paying. But heavens, that must never actually have happened because no one would ever price things lower than the "free market". Coup actions were then taken to put a stop to this, because of the evils of Ukraine paying a lower price. ..."
"... And, is that Brent or WTI, not that it makes that much of a difference. I don't think it will ever get close to the $50 range in my limited lifetime. ..."
"... The law of supply and demand is an example of a perfectly useless law. It can be used neither to predict future prices nor supply. What is it good for? I think it much more instructive to think about feedback cycles. ..."
Apr 30, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

TechGuy : 04/28/2019 at 11:41 am

"The OPEC nations are not philanthropists. They don't give a shit about what Trump wants. They are laughing at him."

I don't believe they are laughing at him at all. All they need to do is recall what happened in Iraq and Libya to know the US controls them. KSA, Kuwait, Iraq, etc are all puppet states of the US. To believe otherwise is just folly. The USA seeks to control all of the remaining independent Oil producers. This is why the US is in Syria, and is working on controlling Venzeula via a political Coup. If the Coup fails in VZ, it will eventually send in Troops (probably by the early 2020s)

It does not matter who the President it is, Obama followed the path after Bush with Wars in Syria & Libya. if Hillary won, she would be doing the same thing as Trump. Who ever wins in 2020 will continue the same long term plan to control as much foreign oil as they can.

Ron Patterson : 04/28/2019 at 12:16 pm
Just what would be the definition of a "Puppet State"? That would be someone who does the bidding of the puppeteer. No OPEC state does the bidding of Trump, or did the bidding of any previous president. Yes, we played havoc with their people and sometimes their economy. But the King of Saudi Arabia or the Emir of any of the other OPEC states are not at the beck and call of Trump.

And yes they are laughing at him. Trump actually thinks he could pick up the phone and tell the King of Saudi Arabia, or the director of OPEC, to do what is necessary to lower the price of oil. That is laughable. Trump is an embarrassment to all the people of the United States.

Frugal : 04/28/2019 at 12:02 pm
OPEC Unfazed By Potential Supply Shortage

On Wednesday Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al-Falih said that the kingdom will not be taking any immediate action to increase oil production, ..

"Inventories are actually continuing to rise despite what is happening in Venezuela and despite the tightening of sanctions on Iran. I don't see the need to do anything immediately," Falih was quoted by CNBC in Riyadh. "Our intent is to remain within our voluntary (OPEC) production limit."

Ron Patterson : 04/28/2019 at 12:37 pm
Thanks, Frugal, from your link:

One major group, however, seems surprisingly unruffled. Even after Trump mentioned the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries by name, suggesting that they will be stepping up to fill in any supply gaps once Tehran is edged out, members from OPEC themselves have remained extremely measured on the issue, saying that they will not be rushing to ramp up production.

They are saying, "screw you, Trump, we are not raising production."

On Wednesday Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al-Falih said that the kingdom will not be taking any immediate action to increase oil production, adding that they respond to market fundamentals as opposed to pricing and that the nation, the top oil exporter in the world, will remain focused on maintaining a balanced global oil market above all other concerns.

"Other concerns", meaning doing Trump's bidding. Or more correctly, not doing Trump's bidding.

Frugal : 04/28/2019 at 12:54 pm
In my opinion, if there's no sustained output increase before the end of the year from the big OPEC producers Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Iraq, it's because these countries have peaked. And I don't count emptying storage tanks as output increase.

Currently the only countries on Earth with production capacity above their production is Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Canada, and possibly Russia. The rest are producing at their capacity.

Ron Patterson : 04/28/2019 at 1:40 pm
Russia is within 100,000 barrels per day of their peak possible production.
GuyM : 04/28/2019 at 8:01 pm
They are in the driver's seat now. Of course they are not going to ramp up production. They are going to make a nice profit, before doing anything. By then, it will be far, far too late. But, it's already too late, anyway. I don't even think reversing directions on Iran would stop the slide.
Tom Wilson : 04/28/2019 at 3:14 pm
Sending troops into Venezuela in the 2020's might be the coup de grace to both our budget and sense of unity as a nation. Here's hoping the politicians don't go there.
Watcher : 04/28/2019 at 4:04 pm
Let's examine this absurdity of pricing oil lower, because this would ignore the "free market." Imagine how absurd it is to think anyone would do such a thing.

My God, if you did that then Iran would not ship oil to Syria, knowing Syria cannot pay for it. They would never do such a thing. And if you dared to laugh at the concept of free market, my God, then Saudi citizens from 2000-2006 would have had to endure the horrors of paying $1/gallon for gasoline while the rest of the world paid double or triple that. No one would ever do such a thing.

Argentina's Vaca Muerta is going to flow about a 50% increase in shale oil and gas this year over last year, because they, too, would never dare to declare a price to be something other than what this "free market" says.

For years and years Ukraine paid GAZPROM a price for natural gas roughly 1/3 what the EU was paying. But heavens, that must never actually have happened because no one would ever price things lower than the "free market". Coup actions were then taken to put a stop to this, because of the evils of Ukraine paying a lower price.

Of course, if you owe $22 Trillion and are absolutely desperate to have inflation cheapen that debt, maybe lower prices for anyone for anything becomes, indeed, the horror of horrors.

Ron Patterson : 04/28/2019 at 4:20 pm
Watcher, of course, nations often subsidize their products to their own citizens. They sacrifice the price they could get on the open world market in order to keep their citizens happy and supporting the status quo. That doesn't prove a goddamn thing as far as the free market goes.

Bottom Line:
People, companies, and nations sell their product for the highest price they can get.
People, companies. and nations buy products for the lowest price they can find.

That is just common sense. You arguing against supply and demand reminds me of people who still argue that the earth is flat.

GuyM : 04/28/2019 at 9:07 pm
Never paid any attention to the technicals. Only fundamentals. Made some good money on calls over the past year, but I don't see it in puts for a good while. Only short term swings, and I don't have the nerve for those. And, is that Brent or WTI, not that it makes that much of a difference. I don't think it will ever get close to the $50 range in my limited lifetime.
Watcher : 04/29/2019 at 2:08 am
The Earth is measurably not flat. Curvature is a physical parameter. It can be measured from orbit. It has been measured from orbit.

The number of occasions when a transaction takes place with a price determined by something other than this alleged psychological behavior derived from supply and demand almost certainly far exceeds the number of occasions when such a thing might determine price. We've done this before. Through all history, every item ever stolen, every item ever acquired via conquest, every item ever acquired via donation, every item ever acquired via inheritance, via Royal award -- these far, far exceed the number of, and certainly the value of, transactions in a marketplace.

So why aren't these methodologies considered the definitive pricing technique for transactions in general, and simply accept that only the most rare and quaint of transactions take place via a marketplace.

Oh and by the way, since this pricing process is psychological, determined by the minds of buyer and seller, you do realize you are saying that the price is determined by something imagined by both parties, meaning their presumption of supply and demand. You do realize this means that the actual supply and the actual demand does not determine the price, even for these rare transactions.

You are saying that reality doesn't determine the price. Only imagination. How can anyone think this is a science or a law of nature.

Frugal : 04/29/2019 at 8:51 am
Watcher, you've likely seen the following scenario. Two service stations kitty corner to each other. One sells gas for a few pennies less than the other one and has way more people filling up than the more expensive one. This is a real life example of demand driven by lower cost.
Schinzy : 04/29/2019 at 2:37 pm
I'm with you on this Watcher,

The law of supply and demand is an example of a perfectly useless law. It can be used neither to predict future prices nor supply. What is it good for? I think it much more instructive to think about feedback cycles.

A couple of other examples off the top of my head:

A school, I believe in Israel, experimented with charging parents for bringing their children to school late. The result was more late children when the parents were charged. The explanation was that parents felt less guilty for bringing children to school late if they could pay off the school.

Paying people to give blood can reduce the number of donors. Giving blood for a cause can make people feel good, if they get paid to give the blood they lose the good feeling. The hospital taking the blood decided to give an option to have the payment go to a charity.

During times of famine, farmers do not make more money (this is a comment in Graeber's book). For example in Venezuela where food security is currently very critical the government is forcing farmers to sell their production below cost.

robert wilson : 04/29/2019 at 4:54 pm
Does basic supply and demand theory not incorporate "feedback cycles"?
https://www.investopedia.com/university/economics/economics3.asp
Energy News : 04/29/2019 at 5:17 pm
It seems that there are 230 legacy rigs still working in the USA. These are the less efficient & slower rigs. And so there is still some room for efficiency gains when those legacy rigs are replaced.
It reads like he is saying that 600 to 700 legacy rigs have gone since 2014

2019-04-25 (Seeking Alpha) Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (HP) CEO John Lindsay on Q1 2019 Results – Earnings Call Transcript
I think it's also important when we have this conversation that we also mentioned that there's still about 230 legacy rigs, mostly SCR but even some mechanical rigs that have been upgraded in some capacity or another to do some of this more challenging horizontal work. And those rigs are out there working today, obviously, much fewer SCR rigs working today than what you saw in 2014.
Seeking Alpha -> https://seekingalpha.com/article/4256850-helmerich-and-payne-inc-hp-ceo-john-lindsay-q1-2019-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

Legacy SCR -> AC VFD power system enables efficient rig power distribution compared to DC SCR
https://www.worldoil.com/magazine/2007/december-2007/special-report/rig-floor-equipment-ac-vfd-power-system-enables-efficient-rig-power-distribution

Helmerich & Payne, Inc. January presentation. Super-Spec Specifications is on page 12.
https://helmerichandpayneinc.gcs-web.com/static-files/49217d51-c885-4484-9b70-fc745fae1787

A chart showing HP's super spec rig count increasing over the years (Just HP not the US total)

... ... ...

[Apr 29, 2019] OPEC vs AIPAC

Apr 26, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Energy News : 04/26/2019 at 10:03 am

It seems President Trump called on OPEC to bring down oil prices
Reuters headline https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D5FZA8VW4AA6QNI.png
GuyM : 04/26/2019 at 11:52 am
I can't imagine that moron influencing much.
Ron Patterson : 04/26/2019 at 12:03 pm
He called OPEC? Just whom at OPEC did he speak with? OPEC is a group of oil exporting nations. They meet once every six months or so to decide what they will do, if anything.

No one can just call OPEC and OPEC will decide to produce more oil. They have to meet, talk it over, and decide what to do.

This just shows what a fucking liar Trump really is.

Iron Mike : 04/26/2019 at 12:35 pm
Trump probably just called his employer .AIPAC.

[Apr 28, 2019] Why You Should Consider Putting Some Money in CDs

Apr 28, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

Looking for a risk-free place to park some savings? You could open a garden-variety savings account, but your interest might be microscopic. A high-interest or high-yield savings account is smarter, but an even better option is a certificate of deposit, or CD.

While the top rates on high-yield savings accounts are currently topping 2%, you can find CDs paying more than 3%. But to earn that kind of interest, you better believe that you're going to have to give the bank something in return.

How CDs work

When you put your money into a CD, you agree to let the bank hold it for a certain period of time.

So, here's the not-so-fine print with CDs: You'll have to agree to let the bank hold on to your money for months or years. That's called the CD's term.

You might choose to stash your money away in six-month, two-year or five-year CDs. Normally, the longer the term, the higher the interest rate.

The potential payout from a long-term CD might be very enticing. Who doesn't want to earn better returns?

But you may have to lock your money away for a loooooooong time.

If some financial emergency comes along and you need to get at your money, tapping your CDs could be costly.

You'll face penalties if you try to withdraw money from your CDs too early.

Yeah, we know -- we said at the beginning that CDs were risk-free. That's true in one sense: You can put up to $250,000 in CDs and will never lose that money as long as your account is with a bank insured by FDIC or a credit union insured by NCUA.

But if you go back on your bargain with the institution and need to withdraw your money early, you'll face the risk of penalties. The rules vary, but generally you'll have to give up a chunk of your interest.

For example, if you close out a one-year CD too soon, you could say goodbye to six months' worth of interest. If you've had the CD only two months, the penalty would eat into your original deposit amount. Ouch!

The early withdrawal penalty for a five-year CD might be a full year of interest.

Another risk is that interest rates might rise while you've got your money locked up, and your savings will miss out on the opportunity to earn better returns.

A CD ladder can help you take advantage of rising interest rates.

All of that describes the workings of a traditional CD. There are other varieties that allow you to make withdrawals more easily ("liquid" CDs) or take advantage of rising interest rates ("bump-up" CDs).

To get some of that flexibility, you might have to accept a lower interest rate when you open the account.

But there is a trick that can allow you to grab onto rising rates using just plain-vanilla, regular CDs. It's called laddering .

You divide your investment across staggered CDs so that every year you have CDs that are maturing.

This way, you can enjoy the higher initial interest rates from longer-term CDs, and also have regular opportunities to invest in new CDs at even better rates.


You can open a CD at your nearest bank or credit union.

Opening a CD is as simple as visiting your nearest bank or credit union, or just going online.

Smaller, local banks or credit unions will give you better rates than the big national institutions, and online-only banks can offer great deals because of their lower expenses.

You may need to fund your CD with a minimum deposit of $500 or $1,000, although some banks have CDs with no minimum opening requirements.

You'll want to comparison-shop for the best rates and find CDs at your sweet spot, with a good yield and a term that's doable. How long will you want to lock away your money?

Putting cash out of reach for years may be tough -- unless you've just got it languishing in a low-rate savings account that you never touch. In that case, put that money into CDs pronto!

Ready to start saving? Take a look at today's best rates on CDs and other savings accounts .

[Apr 28, 2019] Trump's biggest domestic political vulnerabilities going into 2020 is rising retail gasoline prices

Rising gasoline prices is what Bolton and Pompeo essentially prepared for Trump in 2020.
Notable quotes:
"... So while Trump cheerleads more oil production through fracking and deregulation, he also implores Saudi to keep production up for the same reason. ..."
"... No one, including Trump, is very worried about the financial health of the US oil oligarchy. ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
donkeytale , Apr 27, 2019 2:55:16 PM | link

...falling oil prices benefit US consumers more than consumers anywhere else. In fact, one of Trump's biggest domestic political vulnerabilities going into 2020 is rising retail gasoline prices.

The other oil producing countries are more dependent on petroleum exports than the US where the energy sector, while huge, has a smaller impact on the health of the overall economy.

So while Trump cheerleads more oil production through fracking and deregulation, he also implores Saudi to keep production up for the same reason. He's more concerned with lowering oil prices than he is with supporting the profits of US petroleum companies.

No one, including Trump, is very worried about the financial health of the US oil oligarchy.

[Apr 28, 2019] The US Deep State truly exists on another plane of unreality

That's a clear sign of degradation of the US political elite.
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Hoarsewhisperer , Apr 28, 2019 11:56:12 AM | link

That such pieces as Bugajski's article and the RAND Corporation report have appeared about the same time is in itself a suggestion that the US Deep State truly exists on another plane of unreality. I wouldn't be surprised if a third hit-piece advocating regime change in Russia were to come out soon, either in the US or in the UK, but if that happens then we'll know we're really on a path to self-destruction.
Posted by: Jen | Apr 27, 2019 5:38:18 PM | 19

It's easy to be mesmerised into focusing on Fink Tank drivel instead of the stuff happening outside the stale atmosphere of their unventilated tanks. The French peasants seem to have woken up to the fact that the Macron NeoLib govt has betrayed them and is only pretending to listen. It's only a matter of time until the Gillet Jaunes remember the words of jocular Neoliberal poster-boy Grover Norquist about "government small enough to drown in the bathtub."

Of course, when funny-man Grover said that he meant govt too small to responsibly oversee and administer all of its obligations to The People, thereby necessitating the 'outsourcing' of the juiciest govt obligations to Private Profiteers. Unfortunately, when a govt becomes too small and pompous to listen and respond to the legitimate concerns of The People, it runs the risk of having its size compared with the size of the Disenchanted demographic and, eventually, drowned. Hopefully metaphorically, although History says that when the French neglect reform for too long, metaphorical solutions tend to be neglected too.
And France is just the tip of the iceberg. Again.

[Apr 27, 2019] Free Speech, Safety and the Triumph of Neoliberalism naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Amen. This attitude of fearing speech reflects a deeper problem which is valuing fear and cowardice as a virtue. ..."
"... The "fight" against "Hate Speech" is a cunning maneuver of Our Ivy-League overlords. They are materialists , living A Bucket List existence. Their lives are "felt" as a succession of positive and negative experiences. "God is dead. We are gods!" ..."
"... Thus if someone says for instance "migrants come to steal your job or reduce your salary" this is not purely hate as it has a persuasive intent so it can pass. Then if you "say migrants are ugly thieves" it has more hate content but still a persuasive intent so it can pass under this free speech rule. If you finally say "migrants are ugly" it is pure hate and forbidden. Did I get it? ..."
"... Slightly sideways, but another indication that neo-liberalism is just another religion: ..."
"... So when we come to considering the social environment inside a bourgeois institution like a university, we must consider it from a certain point of view, a certain framing, connected to its purposes and performance from the point of view of those who have relevant power. The primary purposes of most such institutions currently seem to be class filtering, indoctrination, and vocational training. ..."
"... This post makes an interesting encapsulation of Neoliberalism: "life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility". I am not convinced this formulation is sufficient to characterize Neoliberalism. How well would this formulation distinguish between Neoliberals and Epicures? ..."
"... All about the motive, eh? That is neoliberal–i.e. sure we wrecked the economy and bombed the smithereens out of some foreign countries but we meant well. ..."
"... Shutting off debate is the worst way to prepare for a society that is undergoing undying stresses and even deformations of freedoms plastered over the word democracy. ..."
"... The neoliberal preference for comparing measurable effects, scoring them as costs or benefits, is the standard MBA religion. Why if you can't measure it, it mustn't exist! ..."
"... The problem is just about anything "becomes" "hate speach" as a means of censorship. Calling out Isrial's influence on US politics becomes antisimitism. Being critical of Hillary is misogany. Hell, not liking Campain Marvel is an example of hate speach. Recently negative reviews of the movie were removed from Rotten Tomatos as an example. ..."
"... An example of how this plays out mentioned in comments is about the conflating of anti-Israel and antisemitic being the one and the same ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

ambrit , April 26, 2019 at 2:51 pm

From this jaundiced perspective, what makes the proposed "neo-liberal speech" Marketplace(TM) inauthentic is that it bases it's existence upon the realm of 'social ephemera.'

If the long run winners in the hurly burly of ideological struggle are at present unknown, then it behooves us to place no limits upon the nature of the originating "entry level" concepts, memes, etc. Such early selection is a purely serendipitous process. Then, not reason, nor "utility" determines the eventual outcome, but chance. Now there's a philosophy for you. Chaos Theory as Political determinate.

David , April 26, 2019 at 2:55 pm

´ .how bad speech can make us feel.´

Sorry, no. How we feel is up to us. We are not machines and we are not robots. We are in charge of our emotions and our reactions.
What I find astonishing about this line of argument is that it completely ignores thousands of years of wisdom literature, from ancient India through Greece and Rome to the mystics of different traditions up to today's Cognitive Behavior Therapies , all of which remind us' in different ways, that whilst we cannot control the outer world, we can control our reactions to it. If I didn't know better I would think that the current ´don't say that it makes me unhappy' movement was a Russian plot to destroy the West by promoting a epidemic of mental illness.

Chris Cosmos , April 26, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Amen. This attitude of fearing speech reflects a deeper problem which is valuing fear and cowardice as a virtue. It reminds me of the male attitude towards upper class women in Victorian times as hopelessly in need of protection from crude language and the dirt from the hoi poloi.

Sometimes I feel like being part of the alt-right because this perverse form of political correctness is way too Maoist for my taste.

clarky90 , April 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm

The "fight" against "Hate Speech" is a cunning maneuver of Our Ivy-League overlords. They are materialists , living A Bucket List existence. Their lives are "felt" as a succession of positive and negative experiences. "God is dead. We are gods!"

"The decor is fabulous. The waiters hair is unkempt. We had to wait to be seated. My fork was not polished. The soup was delicious. The crab was over salted "

The empty lives of "the feelers".

The People of the Land watch incredulously; this slow motion train wreck.

Sanxi , April 26, 2019 at 5:15 pm

'we can control our reactions to it.' – Indeed we can with training and with that on occasion it's good to listen to those that are [family blog] because it's good to know what's going on inside their heads. It also good to know where they are. Hate to say it but the founders of this country really encouraged free speech and then all loyalists were rounded out of it or made extremely miserable.

Ignacio , April 26, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Thus if someone says for instance "migrants come to steal your job or reduce your salary" this is not purely hate as it has a persuasive intent so it can pass. Then if you "say migrants are ugly thieves" it has more hate content but still a persuasive intent so it can pass under this free speech rule. If you finally say "migrants are ugly" it is pure hate and forbidden. Did I get it?

Sanxi , April 26, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Ya, but its all free speech. You'd need to say a lot more than 'ugly'. The whole notion of 'hate speech' is problematic. As it usually is associated with illegal actions, i.e., crimes it has not become a first amendment issue but it should be. Historically, one had a right to say what one wanted and historically, the people often did everything, up to and including, killing one for doing it. The question then becomes what speech is tolerated in what manner. There are no absolute answers, just absolute people.

a different chris , April 26, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Slightly sideways, but another indication that neo-liberalism is just another religion:

>what affect does salmon restoration have on your sense of preference satisfaction, on your utility or disutility?

What affect does it have on the salmon, (family blog) what *I* feel, is my reaction. And saying that, I do notice the further hogwash where "utility" which sounds all manly and right-thinking is actually all about our tender feelings.

Anarcissie , April 26, 2019 at 5:04 pm

'What affect does it have on the salmon, (family blog) what *I* feel, is my reaction. '

That's what 'utility' means: 'stuff I like', such as getting basic survival needs met, and so on up. Most people don't care about the utility of the salmon because the salmon have no power, not because they lack feelings. So generally we only consider people's feelings about the salmon.

So when we come to considering the social environment inside a bourgeois institution like a university, we must consider it from a certain point of view, a certain framing, connected to its purposes and performance from the point of view of those who have relevant power. The primary purposes of most such institutions currently seem to be class filtering, indoctrination, and vocational training.

These purposes (utilities) seem to be damaged or impeded by certain kinds of speech and other social practices, so those forms of speech and practice are likely to be restrained or forbidden on the institution's turf. I don't see how the ruling class and other elites can do otherwise if they want to preserve their system as it stands, which of course most of them do because it is the system which supports their way of life and privileges.

h2odragon , April 26, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Few are able to have their errors explained without feeling bad about being wrong. I hate being wrong, don't you? And yet I'd rather learn of, and from, my mistakes than cheerfully continue being wrong.

Therefore, in the spirit of the Golden rule, I have to say "no one should have the right to make us feel bad." is WRONG. If that means I am speaking hate, and need to be ignored and de-platformed and possibly further censured by society I've never been that social anyway. Fuck 'em.

Tom Doak , April 26, 2019 at 3:36 pm

I tend to think it would always be better if people just said what they were really thinking, instead of trying to figure out what they can say that will be politically correct.

If what they have to say is hateful, at least you know where they are really coming from, and you can treat them accordingly going forward.

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 3:50 pm

This post makes an interesting encapsulation of Neoliberalism: "life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility". I am not convinced this formulation is sufficient to characterize Neoliberalism. How well would this formulation distinguish between Neoliberals and Epicures?

"Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from "hedonism" as colloquially understood."

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism]

Is 'utility' greatly different than 'pleasure' as Epicures frame that word?

I do like the last sentence of the post: "It's the greatest power of an ideology that it can seep into the worldview of those who claim to oppose it." I think that applies to all too many of those debating about how to deal with Climate Chaos in terms of the economic costs, price per kilowatt, carbon taxes, or jobs lost or created. Economic issues are not unimportant but some of the consequences of Climate Chaos are clearly "priceless" to ape a recent credit card commercial.

vegasmike , April 26, 2019 at 4:38 pm

I think Peter Dorman is being coy. In 2017 at his college there was the "Day of Absence" Controversy. A biology professor refused to cancel his classes on the Day of Absence and became the subject of much rage. He and his wife left the college and taught else where.

I remember the Free Speech movement of the earl 60s. At some public universities, members of the communist party were banned from speaking on campus. We protested this ban. Eventually the bans were lifted. Nobody cared whose feeling were hurt.

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 4:57 pm

The topic of free speech per se free speech was excellently covered by Howard Zinn in his talk "Second Thoughts on the First Amendment". [I received a copy of the mp3 of this speech as a premium from my contribution to Pacifica Radio WBAI. The lowest price mp3 or written transcript for the speech was at https://www.alternativeradio.org/products/zinh006/ transcript for $3 or mp3 download for $5.]

Zinn's speech made it clear that free speech was no simple matter contained within the meaning of the words 'free speech'. There are questions of the intent of speech -- the effects of a speech bad feelings? inciting a riot -- capacity for speech that spreads fear spreading unwarranted panic the classic yelling "Fire" in a crowded building -- questions of the forum? There is free speech on a street corner and free speech on television, and they differ greatly in kind, and there is defamatory and slanderous speech.

I am open to allowing any speech. I heard enough unpleasant and upsetting speech from my ex-wife to last several lifetimes but my ears grew deaf to the sounds she made and remained acute to other speech, even became more acute. The equation between speech and money our 'Supremes' made is little short of the complete debasement of the Supreme Court as a forum of jurisprudence. The 'prudence' must be expunges from any characterizations of their judgments FAVORABLE or otherwise. The Supreme Court does not interpret the laws of the land. Like our Legislatures they are 'bought' and 'bot' to the whims of money.

Carolinian , April 26, 2019 at 5:13 pm

All about the motive, eh? That is neoliberal–i.e. sure we wrecked the economy and bombed the smithereens out of some foreign countries but we meant well.

My library just put a sign next to the entrance saying "This is a safe space–no racism or sexism allowed." I haven't bothered to object to what was doubtless considered boilerplate–nor will I–but that's a highly political statement and especially for a library where free speech should be paramount. For example some claim that Huckleberry Finn is racist (and it is a bit). Off the shelves? Once you start judging motives then the slope is quite slippery.

IMHO we should be worrying about the real dangers and abuses and not the imagined ones. Those college students need thicker skins.

dutch , April 26, 2019 at 5:34 pm

1) No one has a right not to feel bad.
2) Everyone has a right to speak his/her mind.
3) Everyone has the right to ignore someone.

Sanxi , April 26, 2019 at 5:38 pm

If to ignore someone, permits their death, that's ok? Thought, experiment, my friend.

Disturbed Voter , April 26, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Unfortunately death is guaranteed. It is unavoidable. We all try to avoid it. And most of us try to not be responsible for causing it (in humans). But there are systemic ills that magnify the risks of mortality (lead in water supply etc). And the limits to "paying attention" are part of those systemic ills. Deliberately ignoring someone, of course, is callous.

JCC , April 26, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Relative to free speech, that almost sounds like "moving the goalpost".

RWood , April 26, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. A translation of the famed passage by Voltaire, Essay on Tolerance

In college, an antidote to what is called "hate speech" used to be teach-ins. Setting these up could be an exercise in arguments or debates, depending on the vehemence and sanctimony of participants, and taking part in the selection of moderators and agendas, but it could be done so long as there were those dedicated to hearing, sharing and holding onto the value of information and debate.

Shutting off debate is the worst way to prepare for a society that is undergoing undying stresses and even deformations of freedoms plastered over the word democracy.

twonine , April 26, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Heard on Democracy Now this afternoon, that U Mass Amherst will be allowing an appearance/discussion re Palestine with Roger Waters and others, to go on regardless of protests against.

Adam Eran , April 26, 2019 at 7:06 pm

I'd suggest the dispute is theological. Everyone wants a "higher power" to bless their particular approach. The neoliberal preference for comparing measurable effects, scoring them as costs or benefits, is the standard MBA religion. Why if you can't measure it, it mustn't exist!

The whole approach doesn't require too much thinking, and has the imprimatur of "science" and "reason" both Excellent gods, all. Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years makes a good case for the way our confusion of monetary with ethical comparisons has managed to bamboozle humanity for literally thousands of years. You see rich people deserve their wealth. They are good , and you can tell by the amount of money they have. See!

Code Name D , April 26, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Some speech has as its primary purpose making others suffer, through insult or instigating fear, and has little or no persuasive intent. That's hate speech, and I don't see a problem with curtailing it.

The problem is just about anything "becomes" "hate speach" as a means of censorship. Calling out Isrial's influence on US politics becomes antisimitism. Being critical of Hillary is misogany. Hell, not liking Campain Marvel is an example of hate speach. Recently negative reviews of the movie were removed from Rotten Tomatos as an example.

You might imagin that a line could be drawn some where. But when ever you draw that line, it always migrates over time.

Bernalkid , April 26, 2019 at 8:39 pm

Isn't part of the question what intellectually backs up drone strikes that demonstrably cause innocent casualties along with the various physical aggressions against the enemy by the empire.

Mirror shot time with Nuremberg principles in the background for the now grizzled neo leaders one hopes.

The Rev Kev , April 26, 2019 at 9:00 pm

I can imagine a professor at Evergreen State College having firm views of freedom of speech after what has been happening to that place over the past coupla years. Last year it ranked as one of the worst colleges in the US for free speech-

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/02/14/25815286/evergreen-ranks-as-one-of-the-worst-colleges-in-the-us-for-free-speech

A college tailored to the demands of these extremist students would be a very sterile place indeed for original thinking. In college, ideas are supposed to undergo savage debate and examination to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Of course at this point I will not bring up the fact that CalPERS's Marcie Frost is a graduate from here as being an example of what is being produced.

Those more recent students will find themselves in a radically new environment when they graduate. It will be called the real world. But I have no doubt that many of them will be able to junk their ideas when it comes to earning a living as those ideas would have served their purpose of giving them power while in college.

An example of how this plays out mentioned in comments is about the conflating of anti-Israel and antisemitic being the one and the same. But if you give this idea a pass, who is to say that in a generation's time that a new wave of students may define pro-Israeli as being anti-American? It could happen you know. Until a few years ago the obvious flaw of conflating two such different identities would have been taken down promptly but no longer. And why? Because it has been found to be an expedient tactic, especially by politicians. A way of shutting down critics and right-thinkers. But there will be blowback for making this part of the norm and I predict that it will be massive.

Anon , April 26, 2019 at 9:43 pm

Of course at this point I will not bring up the fact that CalPERS's Marcie Frost is a graduate from here as being an example of what is being produced.

But she's not .

The Rev Kev , April 26, 2019 at 10:10 pm

My mistake. I meant to type "is an attempted graduate" but lost track of my thread of thought. Thanks for the pointer to my mistake.

meadows , April 26, 2019 at 10:11 pm

A point to remember is that to obtain a conscientious objector status (which I had in 1971) one had to object to ALL war as a pacifist and not just the Vietnam War

Try telling that to a bunch of WW2 vets on your draft board!

[Apr 27, 2019] IPOs Rising

Apr 27, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com


"The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil. Perhaps this is inherent. In a community where the primary concern is making money, one of the necessary rules is to live and let live. To speak out against madness may be to ruin those who have succumbed to it. So the wise in Wall Street are nearly always silent. The foolish thus have the field to themselves. None rebukes them."

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

"Surprising real GDP growth rate of 3.18% is a contrived illusion. - BEA used a unique inflation deflator of 0.64%! More commonly used deflator BLS CPI-U inflation rate 2.27%. If BLS deflator used, GDP growth rate 1.56% (Half BEA #). Setting aside trade and inventory build (goods produced but not bought), BEA says growth rate of real final sales of domestic products was 2.53%, but if BLS CPI-U deflator used real final sales was 1.0%. "Goldilocks" moment was achieved through growing inventories, increased governmental outlays, crashing import values and materially understated inflation."

Harald Malmgren

[Apr 27, 2019] Fundamental news moving paper oil market: Trump said something

Apr 27, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Eulenspiegel x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 9:52 am

The oil price is falling hard today.

Is there any news, Trump giving waivers or some new source of oil available?

Ok, found it.
Fundamental news: Trump said something:
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-26/oil-tumbles-after-trump-says-he-called-opec-gas-prices-are-coming-down

So we get 40$ oil soon ;).

Energy News x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 10:03 am
It seems President Trump called on OPEC to bring down oil prices
Reuters headline https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D5FZA8VW4AA6QNI.png
GuyM x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 11:52 am
I can't imagine that moron influencing much.
ProPoly x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 3:47 pm
It can manipulate short term trading because that's driven by headline reading computers and other algos. Anything longer than that, talking price doesn't work if there's a serious supply or demand issue. It's a near-zero elasticity industrial commodity.
Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 12:03 pm
He called OPEC? Just whom at OPEC did he speak with? OPEC is a group of oil exporting nations. They meet once every six months or so to decide what they will do, if anything.
No one can just call OPEC and OPEC will decide to produce more oil. They have to meet, talk it over, and decide what to do.
Iron Mike x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 12:35 pm
Trump probably just called his employer .AIPAC.

[Apr 27, 2019] Damn, and all along I thought Trump got the credit. Just pay attention to how fast the ship is sinking.

Apr 27, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 8:05 pm

Oil price recedes after 'knee-jerk' reaction to Russian suspensions

The price of oil slipped on Friday, more than offsetting Thursday's gains on a "knee-jerk" reaction to the suspension of some Russian exports on quality concerns.

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, on Thursday rose above $75 a barrel for the first time in six months as Germany and Poland halted imports from Russia because of contamination in the Druzhba pipeline.

But analysts said the market had over reacted and Brent pared its gains later in the day, with the slip in price continuing into Friday as the marker fell 1.3 per cent to $73.39.

"Fears of a supply shock were greatly exaggerated," said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM. "After all, refineries usually hold ample crude stockpiles to guard against such disruptions. Little wonder then that the initial knee-jerk price reaction petered out."

Damn, and all along I thought Trump got the credit. :-)

GuyM x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 8:53 pm
Well, I wouldn't classify the loss of one million barrels a day as exactly a knee jerk reaction. We are supposed to have a 1.3 million barrel a day increase in demand. Ok, that's 2.3 more we need. Oops, US can't supply that, Canada is down, and Brazil and Argentina will be essentially flat. Oh, oh, we need to add another 600k loss from Venezuela, and probably another million from Iran, making about 3.9 million more needed. Other depletion .3 to .6 million? Spare capacity from OPEC is 3 million? Or, that's the fairy tale. Yeah, it's ok to dream.

Just pay attention to how fast the ship is sinking.

[Apr 27, 2019] EIA us using unlimited, cheap shale oil resources propaganda as a foreign policy tool

Apr 27, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Mike x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 2:30 pm

It should, don't you think? Ninety nine out of 100 people in America believe the USGS "discovered" 50 billion more barrels of oil last year in West Texas. Neither it nor the EIA go to near enough lengths to qualify these type of "surveys;" accordingly they are misleading and confusing to an uneducated public, including but not limited to, politicians in charge of implementing America's energy policies.

The USGS mean average EUR in the Delaware Basin does not come close to paying out a $9MM well. How then can operators drill 244K more wells in the Delaware costing nearly $2.4 trillion dollars to recover 46.2 billion more barrels of oil? What earthly good does it do anybody to make an assessment of remaining resources over 8,000 square miles "if economics are not considered?" As stupid as the shale oil industry is, even its smart enough to know better than that.

My comment was directed at using so called unlimited, cheap shale oil resources as a foreign policy tool, not getting in a pissing match about the USGS.

[Apr 27, 2019] U.S. Economy Fed Needs to Start Fighting the Next Recession Now by Narayana Kocherlakota

thehill.com

Almost 10 years after the Great Recession ended, the growing threat of a new economic slowdown raises a troubling question: When the next recession strikes, what can the world's central banks do?

With interest rates low and their balance sheets still loaded with assets bought to fight the 2008 crisis, do they have the tools to respond? This column is one of six looking at that question.

... ... ...

The Fed will have arguably less firepower than in any previous recession. Consider its ability to stimulate growth by lowering interest rates. In the early 2000s, when the tech bubble burst, it had to lower rates more than 5 percentage points to keep the unemployment rate from rising much above 6 percent. In the last recession, amid the severe shock delivered by the financial crisis, even that wasn't enough: Unemployment rose into the double digits despite interest-rate cuts of more than 5 percentage points. Now, it looks like the neutral interest rate over the next few years -- the central bank's starting point when the next downturn comes -- could be as low is 2.5 percent. So unless it takes rates into negative territory, which seems unlikely, its response can be only about half as large as in the last two recessions.

[Apr 27, 2019] Trump called OPEC?

Apr 27, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 12:03 pm

He called OPEC? Just whom at OPEC did he speak with? OPEC is a group of oil exporting nations. They meet once every six months or so to decide what they will do, if anything.
No one can just call OPEC and OPEC will decide to produce more oil. They have to meet, talk it over, and decide what to do.

This just shows what a fucking liar Trump really is.

Iron Mike x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 12:35 pm
Trump probably just called his employer .AIPAC.
GuyM x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 1:40 pm
He probably did call someone, and the conversation went kinda like this:
This is Donald Trump.
Aren't you the guy who owns all those hotels?
Yes, but I am also the President of the United States.
I'm sorry to hear that, what can I do for you?
We need for you to pump more oil, and lower gasoline prices.
Why? They are not high enough, yet.
We think they are, and if you don't get pumping I will agree to Nopec.
Then, we will no longer use the dollar to trade with, and you can watch the value of your currency plummet.
Don't you realize who you are talking to? I am the President of the United States!
Oh yeah. The US, we used to trade with you. Good luck, and good bye!
Energy News x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 1:40 pm
President Trump didn't say who he had spoken to. Various OPEC officials say that they haven't spoken to him

Wall Street Journal: OPEC Chief Barkindo Has Not Spoken to President Trump -- Source
Saudi officials: President Trump Has Not Discussed Lowering Oil Prices With Saudis

Ron Patterson x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 2:24 pm
OPEC and Saudis both deny speaking with Trump about lowering oil prices

Trump said he called OPEC
One of the reasons oil prices sank today was because Trump said he "called OPEC" and asked them to lower oil prices.

OPEC Chief Barkindo said he hasn't spoke with Trump, according to a report. Saudi officials also say they haven't discussed lowering oil prices with Trump.

Update: Trump is now back and saying he spoke to Saudi Arabia and others about oil prices.

Lies just roll off Trump's tongue. He thinks people will believe everything he says without checking anything. What a blooming idiot.

Fell off the peak x Ignored says: 04/26/2019 at 1:59 pm
OPEC must have put Trump on hold as gas price is still the same in my neck of the woods. Laughed like hell when I saw the headline earlier today. Probably eighty percent of folks believe he can actually do that. The heads of the OPEC countries probably laughed so hard they spit out their dentures. Difficult to satirize this guy as he does a stellar job of it himself!

[Apr 27, 2019] The Essence Of Evil Sex With Children Has Become Big Business In America

Apr 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Sex trafficking -- especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls -- has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.

As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins notes, "It's become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns . A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day -- and a 'righteous' pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings."

Consider this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry .

According to USA Today , adults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.

Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life.

" They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse ," writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.

In Georgia alone, it is estimated that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) seek to purchase sex with adolescent girls each month , averaging roughly 300 a day.

On average, a child might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude .

It is estimated that at least 100,000 children -- girls and boys -- are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year , with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are forcefully abducted, others are runaways, and still others are sold into the system by relatives and acquaintances.

"Human trafficking -- the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution -- is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S. ," said prosecutor Krishna Patel.

This is an industry that revolves around cheap sex on the fly, with young girls and women who are sold to 50 men each day for $25 apiece , while their handlers make $150,000 to $200,000 per child each year.

This is not a problem found only in big cities.

It's happening everywhere, right under our noses, in suburbs, cities and towns across the nation.

As Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children points out, " The only way not to find this in any American city is simply not to look for it ."

Don't fool yourselves into believing that this is merely a concern for lower income communities or immigrants.

It's not .

It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged child sex workers in the U.S. These girls aren't volunteering to be sex slaves. They're being lured -- forced -- trafficked into it. In most cases, they have no choice.

In order to avoid detection (in some cases aided and abetted by the police ) and cater to male buyers' demand for sex with different women, pimps and the gangs and crime syndicates they work for have turned sex trafficking into a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked girls, boys and women constantly being moved from city to city, state to state, and country to country.

For instance, the Baltimore-Washington area, referred to as The Circuit , with its I-95 corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations and truck stops, is a hub for the sex trade.

No doubt about it: this is a highly profitable, highly organized and highly sophisticated sex trafficking business that operates in towns large and small, raking in upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and selling young girls for sex.

Every year, the girls being bought and sold gets younger and younger.

The average age of those being trafficked is 13. Yet as the head of a group that combats trafficking pointed out, "Let's think about what average means. That means there are children younger than 13. That means 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds. "

"For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women who are brought in by the traffickers. Unfortunately, they're not 18- or 20-year-olds anymore," noted a 25-year-old victim of trafficking. " They're minors as young as 13 who are being trafficked. They're little girls."

Where did this appetite for young girls come from?

Look around you.

Young girls have been sexualized for years now in music videos, on billboards, in television ads, and in clothing stores. Marketers have created a demand for young flesh and a ready supply of over-sexualized children.

"All it takes is one look at MySpace photos of teens to see examples -- if they aren't imitating porn they've actually seen, they're imitating the porn-inspired images and poses they've absorbed elsewhere," writes Jessica Bennett for Newsweek . "Latex, corsets and stripper heels, once the fashion of porn stars, have made their way into middle and high school."

This is what Bennett refers to as the " pornification of a generation ."

"In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn't take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives ," concludes Bennett . "Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007 study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit content at least once."

In other words, the culture is grooming these young people to be preyed upon by sexual predators. And then we wonder why our young women are being preyed on, trafficked and abused?

Social media makes it all too easy. As one news center reported, "Finding girls is easy for pimps. They look on MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. They and their assistants cruise malls, high schools and middle schools. They pick them up at bus stops. On the trolley. Girl-to-girl recruitment sometimes happens." Foster homes and youth shelters have also become prime targets for traffickers.

Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many start out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or larger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.

Debbie , a straight-A student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., is an example of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie's captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with children, and the money that Debbie "earned" for sex was given to her kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days.

While Debbie was fortunate enough to be rescued, others are not so lucky. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 800,000 children go missing every year (roughly 2,185 children a day).

With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem that's going away anytime soon.

For those trafficked, it's a nightmare from beginning to end.

Those being sold for sex have an average life expectancy of seven years , and those years are a living nightmare of endless rape, forced drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the constant fear of being killed or, worse, having those you love hurt or killed.

Peter Landesman paints the full horrors of life for those victims of the sex trade in his New York Times article " The Girls Next Door ":

Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners--toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens--as well as what she called a "damage group." "In the damage group, they can hit you or do anything they want to," she explained. "Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it's always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group."

What Andrea described next shows just how depraved some portions of American society have become. "They'd get you hungry then to train you" to have oral sex. "They put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older, I'd teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn't hurt."

Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., report that when it comes to sex, the appetites of many Americans have now changed. What was once considered abnormal is now the norm. These agents are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet . As one agent noted, "We've become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit."

This trend is reflected by the treatment many of the girls receive at the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who purchase them. Peter Landesman interviewed Rosario , a Mexican woman who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years. She said: "In America, we had 'special jobs.' Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder."

A common thread woven through most survivors' experiences is being forced to go without sleep or food until they have met their sex quota of at least 40 men . One woman recounts how her trafficker made her lie face down on the floor when she was pregnant and then literally jumped on her back, forcing her to miscarry.

Holly Austin Smith was abducted when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year in prison.

Barbara Amaya was repeatedly sold between traffickers, abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, trafficked, beaten, and jailed all before she was 18 years old. "I had a quota that I was supposed to fill every night. And if I didn't have that amount of money, I would get beat, thrown down the stairs. He beat me once with wire coat hangers, the kind you hang up clothes, he straightened it out and my whole back was bleeding."

As David McSwane recounts in a chilling piece for the Herald-Tribune : "In Oakland Park, an industrial Fort Lauderdale suburb, federal agents in 2011 encountered a brothel operated by a married couple. Inside 'The Boom Boom Room,' as it was known, customers paid a fee and were given a condom and a timer and left alone with one of the brothel's eight teenagers, children as young as 13. A 16-year-old foster child testified that he acted as security, while a 17-year-old girl told a federal judge she was forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a night."

One particular sex trafficking ring catered specifically to migrant workers employed seasonally on farms throughout the southeastern states, especially the Carolinas and Georgia , although it's a flourishing business in every state in the country. Traffickers transport the women from farm to farm, where migrant workers would line up outside shacks, as many as 30 at a time , to have sex with them before they were transported to yet another farm where the process would begin all over again.

This growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open.

Trafficked women and children are advertised on the internet, transported on the interstate, and bought and sold in swanky hotels.

Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , the government's war on sex trafficking -- much like the government's war on terrorism, drugs and crime -- has become a perfect excuse for inflicting more police state tactics (police check points, searches, surveillance, and heightened security) on a vulnerable public , while doing little to make our communities safer.

So what can you do?

Educate yourselves and your children about this growing menace in our communities.

Stop feeding the monster: Sex trafficking is part of a larger continuum in America that runs the gamut from homelessness, poverty, and self-esteem issues to sexualized television, the glorification of a pimp/ho culture -- what is often referred to as the pornification of America -- and a billion dollar sex industry built on the back of pornography, music, entertainment, etc.

This epidemic is largely one of our own making, especially in a corporate age where the value placed on human life takes a backseat to profit. It is estimated that the porn industry brings in more money than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo .

Call on your city councils, elected officials and police departments to make the battle against sex trafficking a top priority, more so even than the so-called war on terror and drugs and the militarization of law enforcement.

Stop prosecuting adults for victimless "crimes" such as growing lettuce in their front yard and focus on putting away the pimps and buyers who victimize these young women.

Finally , the police need to do a better job of training, identifying and responding to these issues; communities and social services need to do a better job of protecting runaways, who are the primary targets of traffickers; legislators need to pass legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers and "johns," the buyers who drive the demand for sex slaves; and hotels need to stop enabling these traffickers, by providing them with rooms and cover for their dirty deeds.

That so many women and children continue to be victimized, brutalized and treated like human cargo is due to three things: one, a consumer demand that is increasingly lucrative for everyone involved -- except the victims; two, a level of corruption so invasive on both a local and international scale that there is little hope of working through established channels for change; and three, an eerie silence from individuals who fail to speak out against such atrocities.

But the truth is that we are all guilty of contributing to this human suffering. The traffickers are guilty. The consumers are guilty. The corrupt law enforcement officials are guilty. The women's groups who do nothing are guilty. The foreign peacekeepers and aid workers who contribute to the demand for sex slaves are guilty. Most of all, every individual who does not raise a hue and cry over the atrocities being committed against women and children in almost every nation around the globe -- including the United States -- is guilty.


dibiase , 1 hour ago link

How many teenage drug addicts and runaway die a year with out the police doing anything when they are found dead of an overdose with a man 40 years their senior???

Anthony Aaron , 1 hour ago link

The penalties for this need to be really severe -- capital punishment should be on the table in every case.

One day, when the law fails too much for too long, folks will get out their 2nd Amendment hardware and start to take back their streets and their cities and their lives and that will be when all of the **** starts coming to a halt.

dibiase , 59 minutes ago link

Then why are epstien/dershawitz/clinton/trump, etc still alive...???

Remember epstien used mar a largo to find his girls... TRUMPTARDS

DemandSider , 22 minutes ago link

And Bill was one of Epstein's best buddies, and flew on his plane, often.

dibiase , 18 minutes ago link

Bill was also buddies with zump....

Troy Ounce , 1 hour ago link

Here are the paedophile logos.

See the somewhere? Be aware?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3560069/The-symbols-pedophiles-use-signal-sordid-sexual-preferences-social-media.html

Lord Raglan , 1 hour ago link

I'd like to see the sources of data in this story. I find most of it hard to believe. Everything now is so exaggerated and over the top. A man has to be out of his mind to have sex with an underage girl. In my state, it is probably a 30 year prison sentence, not to mention being in possession of kiddy ****. I'm sure it is a problem but nothing like that portrayed in this sensationalizing article. I've been in every big city in the US and I've never seen a hooker that is obviously underage.

adr , 1 hour ago link

If you have enough money and are part of the protected class, you can do anything you want.

Pizzagate would have blown the whole thing wide open. Wall St tycoons, politicians, celebrities, all part of a massive operation. The story was quickly buried because it would have brought about a total revolution. It also would have tanked the stock market as the CEOs of a lot of Fortune 500 companies would go down.

Behind it all are the Tribesmen who see those who aren't them as livestock to feed those who want and will pay handsomely for it.

There is no doubt in my mind that Tim Cook has a harem of adolescent boys. People think Kevin Spacey is a pig, bit they have no idea. The moral depravity of high society in today's world is unfathomable to most people. They simply can not believe it because they are hopelessly naive.

himmelhund , 1 hour ago link

this is not the "protected class" paying 50$ for little kids. The protected class pays much more if they pay at all and they get "volunteers" in many cases.

this is ordinary shitheads paying for child slavery

[Apr 25, 2019] The Great Deformation Why Income Inequality Has Become Intractable

Apr 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Details III

"Middle class" households (in the 61 st to 99 th
percentiles of the size distribution) rely mainly on
wage incomes.

Bottom 60% households rely roughly equally on
wages and fiscal transfers net of taxes. They
appear to have negative saving and negligible
wealth.

After transfers and capital gains, the share of the
top 1% has risen, while the bottom 60% income
share has been stable. Hence the middle class
has been squeezed.

https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html

https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync