Sep 162022
 


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Dora Maar 1939

 

Fall Like A Thunderbolt (Schryver)
Don’t Listen To Those Asking To Stop Supporting Kiev, EU’s Borrell Says (RT)
US Openly A Party To Ukraine Conflict – Russia (RT)
Zelensky Guard Appears To Wear Nazi Insignia (RT)
A Turning-Point Once Every 500 Years (Batiushka)
American Patience With Germany Wearing Thin – Media (RT)
Pentagon Finds Hypersonic Research Partner (RT)
Moscow Responds To UN Nuclear Watchdog Resolution On Ukrainian Plant (RT)
Special Master Appointed, DOJ Bid To Delay Mar-a-Lago Ruling Rejected (Pol.)
Democrats Are Trying To Trump-Proof The Government (Lucas)
How Bill Gates And Partners Took Over The Global Covid Response (Pol.)
Tucker Carlson Notices the Missing Jubilation in Martha’s Vineyard (CTH)
Illinois Governor Declares Emergency Disaster As Migrants Bused In (JTN)
Switching To Renewable Energy Could Save Trillions (BBC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC reporting on DPRK (North Korea) overlaid on queen funeral procession

 

 

 

 

Ode to King

 

 

Lowkey @Lowkey0nline
“The British Crown legally owns 6.6 billion acres of land across the world. That is a sixth of the earth’s surface. Charles is now the world’s largest landowner, but I am sure that has nothing to do with colonialism…”

 

 

 

 

“Maskirovka is a Russian word meaning literally “masking” or “disguise”..”

Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Fall Like A Thunderbolt (Schryver)

[..] as the true nature of the events of the past two weeks comes into clearer focus, it is now possible to see that the Russians acted deliberately to provide the NATO commanders of this reconstituted Ukrainian force with some low-hanging fruit to blood their untested army, and provide it with a victory that would not only bolster its battlefield confidence, but more importantly serve essential political purposes at a time when western public support was flagging to a very discernible degree.More importantly, from the Russian perspective, providing NATO commanders a temptation they could not resist would draw this fresh army into the open field of battle where it could then be isolated and ultimately destroyed.

Therefore the Russians commenced, several weeks ago, to withdraw all but a token force from the area containing the towns of Balakliya, Kupyansk, and Izyum – thereby presenting an irresistible opportunity for the commanders of this NATO-trained, NATO-equipped, and NATO-led force to demonstrate, as they imagine it, the superiority of western combined-arms warfare. The subsequent attack achieved seemingly extraordinary success against the relative handful of Donbass militia and Rosgvardia troops left to defend Balakliya and Kupyansk. The Ukrainians and their “foreign volunteer” shock troops advanced mostly unopposed and occupied a fairly significant piece of real estate extending all the way to the Oskil River.

Relatively little soldier against soldier fighting has occurred. In fact, Ukrainian reports euphorically trumpeted the fact that the Ukrainian advance could not even keep up with the speed of the Russian retreat! The “glorious victory” of this quasi-NATO army has – at least for the time being – launched the western media narrative into an unprecedented spasm of triumphalism. Delusional reports of hundreds of abandoned tanks, thousands of casualties, and tens of thousands of captured Russian soldiers are circulating widely, willingly believed by those whose biases find them pleasing. Western think-tank monkeys and retired-generals-for-hire move from one mainstream news studio to the next spouting fantastical nonsense about next liberating the Donbass, then Crimea, followed by deposing Putin and hauling him before a tribunal at The Hague.

And if that were not enough, many have even begun to openly discuss the long-desired western pipe dream of dismantling Russia altogether; cutting it up into a dozen or more smaller republics that will then obediently fall in line with the rest of the “rules-based world order”. It’s all quite breathtaking to behold.

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Borrell has to go from Brussels, along with Von der Leyen. Their delusions are too costly.

Don’t Listen To Those Asking To Stop Supporting Kiev, EU’s Borrell Says (RT)

The EU must tackle elements of the public that want the Ukraine conflict to be over as soon as possible, and Kiev’s recent offensive in the northeast helped with that, according to Josep Borrell, the top EU official for foreign relations and security. “There is a temptation to abandon [Ukraine] in part of European society,” he told El Mundo newspaper in an interview published on Thursday. People “want to end the war because they cannot bear the consequences, the costs. We have to combat that mentality. The offensive on the northeastern front helps with that.” Borrell was referring to last week’s Ukrainian operation, in which Kiev’s troops pushed Russian forces out of large swathes of Kharkov Region.

Some US officials claimed credit on behalf of the American intelligence community for the advances. According to Borrell, the Ukrainian offensive was a “breath of fresh air” for Brussels since it serves as affirmation that its strategy was “sound.” He has stated on several occasions that Russia had to be defeated on the battlefield for the hostilities in Ukraine to stop. The official told the newspaper that the EU strategy to punish Russia required a long time for sanctions to act, and people should be prepared for it. “It’s like a diet. In a week you may not lose a kilo, but you have to continue,” he said, reiterating the metaphor he used on Tuesday during a speech in the European Parliament.

The EU joined the US in sending military aid to Ukraine and imposing economic sanctions on Russia. It came at a serious cost to European economies, which now have to deal with skyrocketing energy prices and potential shortages of natural gas due to the decision of their governments to decouple from Russian supplies. Borrell downplayed grim predictions that the upcoming winter could become a disaster for the EU. “There are political opposition forces that say we are going to freeze to death. Some of those people who say that are not ideological radicals, they insist that the way we are going is a crazy one,” he said. He suggested that the EU government had to do a better job of “educating” people about the situation.

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“Only naive, short-sighted politicians who know history poorly can talk about victory over Russia on the battlefield.”

US Openly A Party To Ukraine Conflict – Russia (RT)

It is cause for “deep concern” that the US government is “openly boasting” that Ukraine’s battlefield successes were achieved with the Pentagon’s direct involvement, the Russian ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said in an interview on Wednesday. “Against this background, Washington’s statements that the US is not a party to the conflict sound absolutely ridiculous and unfounded,” Antonov told RIA Novosti. “Facts and interviews of former and current politicians and generals say otherwise.” “Videos currently shown on Western channels clearly demonstrate that soldiers and officers who speak fluent English, many with pronounced British and American accents, are fighting against us,” the ambassador added.

The US has done everything to turn Ukraine into a dumping ground for its obsolete weapons, but also a testing range for new NATO equipment, Antonov said, pointing out the insatiable appetite of the US military-industrial complex for profits. By the Pentagon’s own admission, the US has sent Ukraine “more than $17.2 billion in security assistance” since 2014, and another $14.5 billion since February. Kiev’s patrons are “hungry for power and money” and not interested in peaceful solutions, said Antonov. There is little to no talk in the West about negotiations, only about sending more weapons to Ukraine, he added. “Their main main goal is to defeat Russia by any means, and subsequently prevent it from playing a key role in the international arena. And if possible, break it into pieces,” the ambassador said.

“They will not stop pushing Ukraine into further suicidal adventures, such as the ‘offensives’ that were doomed from the start.” Ukraine has claimed its recent advances in the Kharkov region are a “turning point” in the conflict. On Monday, the New York Times reported that the US and UK had been involved in planning the operation, including the admission by the Pentagon’s policy chief Colin Kahl that the US military “did do some modeling and some tabletop exercises,” which it shared with Kiev. “The current situation of Washington inciting Kiev against us is an indisputable, obvious fact,”said Antonov. If the Americans go along with Ukraine’s “insane” demands for long-range rockets, he added, “such a scenario would mean direct involvement of the US in a military confrontation with Russia.”

Even so, this will “not lead to real change on the frontline,” Antonov said, “Only naive, short-sighted politicians who know history poorly can talk about victory over Russia on the battlefield.” Russia’s mission is to “lay down the foundations of a multipolar world order and send the American ‘rules-based world order’ into the dustbin of history,” and Moscow’s diplomats “have no doubt that we will achieve victory,” he concluded.

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His own office published the photo. It appears to be gone now.

Zelensky Guard Appears To Wear Nazi Insignia (RT)

One of the armed guards of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has been spotted with insignia resembling a symbol of Nazi Germany unit used during World War II. The image shared by the office of the leader was made during his visit to the recently re-captured town of Izyum on Wednesday. The controversial skull-and-bones image was featured on the back of a heavily armed Ukrainian trooper, who appeared to be part of Zelensky’s security detail during the trip. It can be seen in one of the photos, which the president’s office released on social media. The symbol was the insignia of the SS-Totenkopfverbande units, the part of the Nazi paramilitary Schutzstaffel responsible for security at the death camps.

It was also adopted by the elite Panzer Division ‘Totenkopf’ of the Waffen-SS, which was formed from the death camp guards and fought on the Eastern front and committed multiple war crimes. In modern times, it was adopted by various far-right and nationalist groups in Ukraine, which got their inspiration from Ukrainian nationalist forces that collaborated with the Nazi Germany during World War II and fought against the Soviet Union. Organizations monitoring extremists consider it a hate symbol. In May, Zelensky’s office included a photo of a Ukrainian artillery trooper wearing a similar ‘death head’ patch on his chest in a selection posted on social media on the occasion of the Allied victory in the European theater of war. The same photo was also shared by the country’s defense ministry that day.


Russia cited the influence that extremists groups have in the Ukrainian national guard and military as one of the reasons for sending troops into the country in late February. Zelensky was elected president in 2019 on a platform of reconciliation with rebel forces in the east and normalization of ties with Russia. His initial attempts to deliver on the campaign promises were met with fierce criticisms and street protests by nationalist groups, which called for tougher policies and suppression of Donbass. The Ukrainian president has since reinvented himself as an uncompromising political figure seeking a complete defeat of Russia and its allies and rejecting any calls for peace talks.

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I cannot do Batiushka, the Orthodox priest, justice in the aggregator format. But I can point you to him.

A Turning-Point Once Every 500 Years (Batiushka)

I recall some forty years ago meeting an elderly English lady, a farmer’s wife called Mrs Dove, who had been present as a schoolgirl at the funeral of Queen Victoria. ‘When the old Queen died all those years ago’, she reminisced nostalgically, ‘everything was draped in black and everyone was dressed in black’. Now Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter, the new ‘old Queen’, is dead, the news announced beneath a rainbow over Windsor Castle. This is the town whose name the Queen’s grandfather, George V, had adopted as the family name, instead of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Windsor name was officially adopted on 17 July 1917, just after the British-orchestrated Russian ‘Revolution’ of 1917, one year to the day before the Tsar and his Family were murdered in Ekaterinburg, on the very frontiers of Europe and Asia. The Russian Tsar had been betrayed by his look-alike cousin, King George V.

Whatever you say about Queen Elizabeth II, she personally had modesty, she had dignity, she had presence, she actually believed in something, she had all that her descendants seem utterly to lack. Perhaps her end was hastened by the behaviour of her son Prince Andrew, her grandson Prince Harry and the imbeciles who inhabit 10 Downing Street, the latest of whom she had to appoint Prime Minister only two days before she died. Why live any longer? She must have been fed up with it all. This is the final, final end of the Protestant Empire of Great Britain (1522-2022) (1), whose collapse began exactly three generations ago in 1947 in India. Perhaps the decline will go swiftly now under the disliked King Charles III (called in Russian Karl III) (2), who finds himself without Queen Diana, the only one who could have saved him. Expect the break-up of the UK to be rapid.

The 96 year-old Queen Elizabeth II died in Scotland, in Victoria’s castle at Balmoral, a relic of the 19th century and its British Empire. Her curious, clipped Germanic accent – no English people talk like that – betrayed the Queen’s foreign origins as the last of the rulers shaped by German Protestantism, imported by the City of London merchant and financial class just over 300 years before. However, it is not only her, it is the other leaders of the Western world, relics of the 20th century, who are dying out too. They are gerontocrats. In the USA Biden, born in the first half of the 20th century and soon to be 80, should really be in an old folk’s home. It is cruel to keep parading him in front of the media like that and asking him to remember things. As for Pope Francis, aged 85, he can hardly walk and says that he too might go early, like his predecessor, still alive at 95, a relic forced to serve in the Hitler Youth.

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“Washington has “doubts” about Germany’s fundamental loyalty to Kiev, questioning whether it wants Ukraine to “win” or just “not to lose.”

American Patience With Germany Wearing Thin – Media (RT)

Berlin appears to be increasingly out of step with its allies across the pond when it comes to arming Ukraine, Germany’s Die Welt daily reported on Thursday, adding that the issue is impacting relations between the NATO allies. The US allegedly wants Germany to take a more resolute approach towards military assistance for Kiev, it said. Last Sunday, the US ambassador to Berlin, Amy Gutmann, told the German broadcaster ZDF that she expects Germany to “take on a greater leadership role.” She acknowledged Berlin’s military assistance to Kiev, but said her expectations are “even higher.” “So far, Germany has done what we asked for,”a US official told Die Welt on Thursday, adding that Berlin could be moving “faster.”

The paper reported that Washington has “doubts” about Germany’s fundamental loyalty to Kiev, questioning whether it wants Ukraine to “win” or just “not to lose.” On Tuesday, the German tabloid Bild claimed that US officials allegedly sent a diplomatic note to Berlin, in which Secretary of State Antony Blinken supposedly said Washington would “welcome” a decision by Germany to send battle tanks to Ukraine while stopping short of directly asking for such a step. A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Berlin, however, denied this claim, telling Bild that no such outreach was made. “It is not true that we told Germany that they had to supply tanks,” a US official also told Die Welt on Thursday, adding that the US would rather see Germany take a greater leadership role, which now “means helping Ukraine.”

Last week, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told journalists that Berlin would not be the first to send Western-made tanks to Ukraine when no other nation had done so. The reports of Washington’s dissatisfaction with Germany’s response came as Lambrecht announced a fresh weapons package for Kiev. The new batch will include two Mars II multiple rocket launchers and 200 missiles for them, as well as 50 Dingo armored personnel carriers, she told journalists on Thursday.

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I still haven’t seen anyone explain how the US got so far behind on hypersonics. Spending 10x what Russia spends, and still be 10 years behind.

Pentagon Finds Hypersonic Research Partner (RT)

The Pentagon has agreed to work with Japan to find new ways to defend against hypersonic weapons, as the US rushes to produce a missile to compete with similar platforms under development in China, and already deployed by Russia. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Japanese counterpart, Yasukazu Hamada, at the Pentagon headquarters on Wednesday, where they discussed future military coordination between the two nations and focused on China’s “coercive actions” toward Taiwan in recent weeks. “The ministers concurred that Japan and the United States would further accelerate cooperation in the area of equipment and technology to ensure technological edge of the alliance,” including “joint analysis on counter-hypersonic technology,” the Japanese Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry noted that Washington and Tokyo would “cooperate closely and seamlessly” to prevent any “unilateral change in the status quo” in the Indo-Pacific region, where American warships frequently conduct ‘freedom of navigation’ missions through contested waters claimed by Beijing. Both Austin and Hamada “strongly condemned China’s ballistic missile launches in early August,” with Tokyo claiming some of the projectiles landed within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The two also accused Beijing of provocative military drills near Taiwan – which China considers part of its own territory – following a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. In the Pentagon’s readout of Wednesday’s meeting, Austin vowed to “modernize the US-Japan alliance, bolster integrated deterrence, and further cooperate with like-minded partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” though the release made no mention of hypersonic technology.

While various hypersonic missile designs have long been under development by the US defense establishment, no platform has been adopted into service. Following a test of the hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) last May, the Air Force declared it a “major accomplishment,”though the missile failed to reach its theoretical top-speed of Mach 20 (or 20 times the speed of sound). China, too, is working on a hypersonic munition, which it has test-fired on a number of occasions, while Russia’s hypersonic Kh-47M2 Kinzhal has been in service for several years, seeing its first real-world operational deployments during the conflict with Ukraine.

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The IAEA cannot choose sides. But it does. Next they’re going to call for Russia to withdraw from the plant, though they know that will never happen.

Moscow Responds To UN Nuclear Watchdog Resolution On Ukrainian Plant (RT)

Russia has criticized the resolution adopted by the UN nuclear watchdog on the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. The document passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is “anti-Russian” and does not say a single word about the Ukrainian shelling of the facility, Russian diplomats have said. The facility, the largest of its kind in Europe, is located in Ukraine but currently controlled by Russian forces. On Thursday, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a document demanding Russia “immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine.” The text also said the board “deplores the Russian Federation’s persistent violent actions against nuclear facilities in Ukraine.”

Russia’s mission to the IAEA responded by saying that the document was “pushed through” by the West, while “the majority of humanity refused to support it.” The resolution passed with 26 votes in favor. Russia and China, which are also on the board, voted against it, while seven nations – Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Burundi, Vietnam, India, and Pakistan – abstained. Those supporting the document mostly consisted of the US and its allies in Europe and elsewhere. The Russian diplomats also blasted the fact that the resolution fails to mention the shelling of the station, the evidence for which Moscow had provided several times. The officials also accused Western nations of “supporting and shielding” Kiev in “every possible way,” while blaming Ukraine for the attacks.

The document was passed in the wake of the IAEA mission that visited the Zaporozhye plant in early September. On Wednesday, in a phone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the IAEA’s work, which is contributing to the safety of the facility. This was the second resolution adopted by the IAEA amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The first one was passed in March before Russian forces had taken control of the power plant. The documents are similar in nature and in both cases were introduced by Canada and Poland on behalf of Ukraine, which is not on the agency’s board, according to Reuters. Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of shelling the grounds of the plant. Kiev has denied the accusations and instead blamed Russia for the incidents, despite the area already being under Moscow’s control.

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George Webb – Investigative Journalist @RealGeorgeWebb1: “Dearie is Special Master. yep, the Carter page FISA guy.”

Special Master Appointed, DOJ Bid To Delay Mar-a-Lago Ruling Rejected (Pol.)

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday rejected a Justice Department demand to let federal prosecutors continue their review of records marked classified that were recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. In her ruling, Cannon refused to accept department officials’ contention that the records they are trying to review as part of an ongoing criminal investigation remain highly classified or contain extraordinarily sensitive defense information that could damage national security if released. “The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion,” Cannon, a Trump appointee, wrote in her 10-page ruling denying the Justice Department’s request to essentially exclude about 100 documents marked classified from the special master process.

Cannon instead appointed Raymond Dearie, a senior federal judge in New York, to lead an independent review of the seized materials. He was one of two potential special masters proposed by the Trump team, and prosecutors said they found him acceptable even though he was not one of their initial picks. In a signed filing released by the court on Thursday night, Dearie accepted the task. Cannon urged him to complete his review by Nov. 30 — more than a month after the Oct. 17 deadline the Justice Department had most recently asked Cannon to set. While Cannon’s timeline appears to extend Dearie’s review well past the November midterm elections, she did instruct him “to prioritize review of the approximately 100 documents marked as classified (and papers physically attached thereto),” meaning it’s possible prosecutors could regain access to some or all of those materials before they get another look at the other records seized in the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of the Trump’s Florida estate.

Last week, the Justice Department appealed Cannon’s order to appoint a special master and indicated it would seek relief from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if she did not agree to delay aspects of her ruling by Thursday night. The ruling is another setback for federal prosecutors, who have expressed alarm at the extraordinarily sensitive records they found in boxes intermingled with Trump’s personal items in his Mar-a-Lago storage room, as well as some recovered from his office. The Justice Department has warned that Cannon’s Sept. 5 order — which enjoined the department from furthering its criminal review of the documents seized by FBI agents — had also disrupted a parallel risk assessment of those documents by the intelligence community. Though Cannon allowed that review to continue, the Justice Department emphasized that her order had sown confusion within the executive branch.

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“The silliness of it all is that Trump might be the only Republican–at least top tier Republican–who could lose to either Joe Biden or Kamala Harris in 2024.”

Democrats Are Trying To Trump-Proof The Government (Lucas)

Trump Derangement Syndrome is clearly real. To be clear, it’s not necessarily better or worse than Trump sycophancy. Americans–whether serving in public office or everyday working stiffs–should never base their life around idolatry of or seething hatred for one prominent leader. But, of course, that has happened with Trump. I suppose polarizing is a shorter way to put it, but that term seems so trite. Anyway, the anti-Trump side is presently being more ridiculous and pettier. If Trump sycophancy becomes a legislative agenda, I’ll reconsider that judgment. The silliness of it all is that Trump might be the only Republican–at least top tier Republican–who could lose to either Joe Biden or Kamala Harris in 2024.

While that’s questionable, House Democrats are advancing bills through committee as if they think he’s a sure thing come January 2025 – or water down a second Trump term as much as possible by weakening presidential authority. Also, some of the bills are based on silly anti-Trump conspiracy theories. The bills would effectively politicize executive branch agencies that shouldn’t be. HR 8326, dubbed the Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census Act would make it more difficult for a president to fire a Census Bureau director, while also granting the director broad new authorities to conduct statistical sampling. It would expand the number of Census Bureau employees with civil service protections. It also constrains future censuses from inquiring about citizenship–which could favor Democrats for enumeration and apportionment.

When the oversight committee advanced the bill in July, committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., complained about the “Trump administration’s illegal efforts to weaponize the Census Bureau for political gain.” House Oversight Committee Democrats Reps. Gerald Connolly of Virginia and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania co-sponsored H.R. 302, dubbed the Preventing a Patronage System Act. The theory is that if Trump is elected, he would eliminate the civil service system and return to a spoils system. The press release for the bill references Trump’s final months in office, when he signed an executive order creating a “Schedule F” category of federal employees.

The order determined that career employees with civil service protections involved with “policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating” positions that are “not normally subject to change as part of a presidential transition” could be more easily removed for insubordination, which was a problem during the Trump administration. This would affect a maximum 50,000 federal employees out of the 2.2 million federal workforce. That’s far from a patronage system. The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act, or H.R. 2988, certainly is a more innocuous sounding name, since many Republican lawmakers love whistleblowers that rat out Democrats. But this bill practically encourages bad actors in the federal workforce to simply engage in meritless accusations–thus abuse the legal whistleblower protections.

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Filling a vacuum with money.

How Bill Gates And Partners Took Over The Global Covid Response (Pol.)

When Covid-19 struck, the governments of the world weren’t prepared. From America to Europe to Asia, they veered from minimizing the threat to closing their borders in ill-fated attempts to quell a viral spread that soon enveloped the world. While the most powerful nations looked inward, four non-governmental global health organizations began making plans for a life-or-death struggle against a virus that would know no boundaries. What followed was a steady, almost inexorable shift in power from the overwhelmed governments to a group of non-governmental organizations, according to a seven-month investigation by POLITICO journalists based in the U.S. and Europe and the German newspaper WELT.

Armed with expertise, bolstered by contacts at the highest levels of Western nations and empowered by well-grooved relationships with drug makers, the four organizations took on roles often played by governments — but without the accountability of governments. While nations were still debating the seriousness of the pandemic, the groups identified potential vaccine makers and targeted investments in the development of tests, treatments and shots. And they used their clout with the World Health Organization to help create an ambitious worldwide distribution plan for the dissemination of those Covid tools to needy nations, though it would ultimately fail to live up to its original promises.

The four organizations had worked together in the past, and three of them shared a common history. The largest and most powerful was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the world. Then there was Gavi, the global vaccine organization that Gates helped to found to inoculate people in low-income nations, and the Wellcome Trust, a British research foundation with a multibillion dollar endowment that had worked with the Gates Foundation in previous years. Finally, there was the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, the international vaccine research and development group that Gates and Wellcome both helped to create in 2017.

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Martha’s Vineyard finally gets diversity.

Tucker Carlson Notices the Missing Jubilation in Martha’s Vineyard (CTH)

A strange thing happened. After lecturing the nation on the virtues of mass migration, the white liberal democrats on Martha’s Vineyard did not celebrate the arrival of the non-white immigrants they have been demanding for years. Fox News host Tucker Carlson noted in his monologue that Martha’s Vineyard famous nimby residents, including former President Barack Obama, did not welcome the people of color as one would expect. Instead of celebrating the new diversity, oddly the residents quickly moved to find alternate off island locations to accept the arriving immigrants.

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“Border officials have seen more than 4 million encounters with foreign nationals attempting to cross the southern border since Biden first took office.”

Illinois Governor Declares Emergency Disaster As Migrants Bused In (JTN)

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday issued an emergency disaster proclamation in response to several hundred foreign nationals being bused to the state from the southern border by Texas’ governor. Pritzker activated about 75 members of the Illinois National Guard “to ensure all state resources are available to support asylum seekers arriving nearly daily to Chicago from the state of Texas,” the governor’s office said in a news release. It also “enables the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and other state agencies, in close coordination with the City of Chicago, Cook County, and other local governments, to ensure the individuals and families receive the assistance they need. This includes transport, emergency shelter and housing, food, health screenings, medical assessments, treatments, and other necessary care and services.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began busing foreign nationals who crossed the border into Texas illegally to Washington D.C. in April, to New York City this summer, and then to Chicago beginning late last month. All three cities are so-called “sanctuary cities” that proclaim to welcome illegal immigrants and not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. “Today, I signed a disaster proclamation allowing the state to speed up the procurement of the immediate resources needed to help Chicago, Cook County, and other jurisdictions provide humanitarian assistance to the asylum seekers who are being sent to our state with no official advance notice by the Governor of Texas,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Let me be clear: while other states may be treating these vulnerable families as pawns, here in Illinois, we are treating them as people.”

Abbott argues the crisis at the southern border was created by President Joe Biden’s open border policies and has called on the mayors of these sanctuary cities to demand that Biden enforce U.S. immigration law. Border officials have seen more than 4 million encounters with foreign nationals attempting to cross the southern border since Biden first took office. Texas has had to deal with the majority of them. The administration has released hundreds of thousands of them into Texas and other border state communities.

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“probabilistic” modelling..

Switching To Renewable Energy Could Save Trillions (BBC)

Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12tn (£10.2tn) by 2050, an Oxford University study says. The report said it was wrong and pessimistic to claim that moving quickly towards cleaner energy sources was expensive. Gas prices have soared on mounting concerns over energy supplies. But the researchers say that going green now makes economic sense because of the falling cost of renewables. “Even if you’re a climate denier, you should be on board with what we’re advocating,” Prof Doyne Farmer from the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School told BBC News. “Our central conclusion is that we should go full speed ahead with the green energy transition because it’s going to save us money,” he said.

The report’s findings are based on looking at historic price data for renewables and fossil fuels and then modelling how they’re likely to change in the future. The data for fossil fuels goes from 2020 back more than 100 years and shows that after accounting for inflation, and market volatility, the price hasn’t changed much. Renewables have only been around for a few decades, so there’s less data. But in that time continual improvements in technology have meant the cost of solar and wind power have fallen rapidly, at a rate approaching 10% a year. The report’s expectation that the price of renewables will continue to fall is based on “probabilistic” modelling, using data on how massive investment and economies of scale have made other similar technologies cheaper.

“Our latest research shows scaling-up key green technologies will continue to drive their costs down, and the faster we go, the more we will save,” says Dr Rupert Way, the report’s lead author from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

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Water man

 

 

 

More hands

 

 

 

 

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Feb 262017
 
 February 26, 2017  Posted by at 9:29 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


DPC Elephants in Luna Park promenade, Coney Island 1905

 

President Trump: Replace The Dollar With Gold (F.)
Marine Le Pen’s Aides Meet With Bankers To Discuss Euro Exit (BBG)
Dutch Parliament Commissions Report On Future Of Euro (R.)
Dutch Voters Are About To Set The Stage For Europe’s Elections (G.)
Fannie, Freddie Investors Lose In Court (Econ.)
Underground Network Readies Homes To Hide Undocumented Immigrants (CNN)
Washington Governor Bans Employees From Aiding Trump Immigration Crackdown (I.)
Be Clear About What Happened To Keith Ellison (Bruenig)
Half of Germans Against Debt Relief For Greece (R.)
The Living Fabric Of The World Is Slipping Through Our Fingers (G.)

 

 

Using the Fed to go for gold?

President Trump: Replace The Dollar With Gold (F.)

What would be the outcome of Trump’s following his instincts and going for the gold? Prosperity, that’s what. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan just provided a barely noticed Big Reveal. In an interview with the World Gold Council’s Gold Investor Chairman Greenspan, stating “I view gold as the primary global currency,” went on to explicitly reveal, for the first time to my knowledge, that “When I was Chair of the Federal Reserve I used to testify before US Congressman Ron Paul, who was a very strong advocate of gold. We had some interesting discussions. I told him that US monetary policy tried to follow signals that a gold standard would have created.”

The period of “following signals that a gold standard would have created,” called the Great Moderation under President Clinton, was one of the most equitably prosperous in modern American history. That era saw the creation of over 20 million jobs. Robust growth converted the federal deficit into a surplus. It was, if only virtually rather than institutionally, a golden age. After the Fed abandoned its Great Moderation America experienced almost no net job creation under President George W. Bush and very mediocre job creation under President Obama. Sad! I want the American Dream back. We all do, very much including President Trump. How might President Trump go about turning this around? He has a unique opening to forcefully pivot America toward epic prosperity.

As Paul-Martin Foss of the Menger Center astutely points out the Federal Reserve Board currently has three vacancies. If Trump were to fill those vacancies with three sophisticated gold standard advocates from the short list of Lewis E. Lehrman (whose eponymous Institute I formerly served), Dr. Judy Shelton (who served as an advisor on his presidential economic transition team), former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and John Allison, former CEO of BB&T (preferably as vice chairman for regulation) the president would create a super “beachhead team” at the Fed to seriously restore equitable prosperity.

These appointments would be the safe and sure first steps out of economic stagnation for America. Couple these with a White House “Team B” to plan the enactment of the Jack Kemp Gold Standard Act and removal of the regulatory and tax barriers to using gold as currency. Then watch an American economic miracle take place. Mr. President: “No such thing as a global currency?” The dollar is the global currency. Want prosperity? Heed Chairman Greenspan and do not just view but restore “gold as the primary global currency.” President Trump: replace the dollar with gold as the global currency to make America great again. We have the gold.

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Not if but when.

Marine Le Pen’s Aides Meet With Bankers To Discuss Euro Exit (BBG)

Top advisers to French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen have met with strategists and analysts from BlackRock, Barclays and UBS, among other firms to explain their economic program and plans to withdraw France from the euro. While such meetings are common for campaign officials from mainstream parties in France and other European countries, this is the first time Le Pen’s National Front has been approached, the candidate’s chief economic adviser Bernard Monot and her business aide Mikael Sala said in interviews. In the last seven months, they have met with analysts from British and American financial institutions in Paris, Brussels and Strasbourg at the firms’ request.

The interest from financial markets underlines how seriously financial analysts take the possibility that Le Pen may win power in the euro zone’s second-largest economy. Polls have shown her holding a lead in the first round of voting for more than a year, though all surveys predict that she will also lose the run-off ballot on May 7. “These strategists see that Le Pen may be the next president of France and they are doing their due diligence,” Monot said. “They’re very much looking for a detailed account of our plans.” Monot and Sala, who head Le Pen’s business advisory council Croissance Bleu Marine, said they also met or spoke with representatives from the Medley Advisors and CheckRisk consultancies. Monot added that he met with U.S. pension funds without naming them.

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Every EU country should do this, and do it honestly.

Dutch Parliament Commissions Report On Future Of Euro (R.)

The Netherlands’ future relationship with the euro will be comprehensively debated by its parliament following elections in March, after lawmakers commissioned a report on the currency’s future. The motion approving the investigation by the Council of State, the government’s legal advisor, coincides with a rising tide of euroscepticism in Europe, which populist parties are hoping to tap into in a series of national elections this year also taking in euro zone powerhouses France and Germany. The probe will examine whether it would be possible for the Dutch to withdraw from the single currency, and if so how, said lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt. Omtzigt, of the opposition Christian Democrats, tabled the parliamentary motion calling for the investigation, which legislators passed unanimously late on Thursday.

It was prompted by concerns the ECB’s ultra-low interest rates are hurting Dutch savers, especially pensioners, and doubts as to whether its bond purchasing programmes are legal, he said. Its findings will be presented in several months, by which time the make-up of parliament will have changed dramatically. While most Dutch voters say they favour retaining the euro, the eurosceptic far-right party of Geert Wilders is expected to book large gains though it is unlikely to win enough votes to form a government. The most probable outcome of the March 15 vote is a new centrist coalition including some parties, such as Omtzigt’s Christian Democrats, that have been vocal in their opposition to current ECB policy. “The problems with the euro have not been solved,” Omtzigt said. “This is a way for us to look at ways forward with no taboos.” Thursday’s motion instructs the Council to look at “what political and institutional options are open for the euro,” and “what are the advantages and disadvantages of each.”

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“Whatever the outcome, it will only strengthen political dissatisfaction, creating more fragmentation and polarisation, leading to even less loyalty and even more voice.”

Dutch Voters Are About To Set The Stage For Europe’s Elections (G.)

Across Europe, we can see three trends in elections, which can be described in the famous terms of the German-American economist Albert Hirschman: exit, voice and loyalty. In two of these the Dutch lead the way, but one bucks the broader trend. To start with exit (non-voting), throughout Europe turnout in national and European elections has been dropping. Although the trend is not universal, the past 10 years has seen a sharp drop in several countries. Perhaps most shocking is the situation in Greece, a country that has compulsory voting, although it is not really enforced. In 1985 the abstention rate in national elections was “just” 16.2%, in 2004 it was 23.4%, and in the last elections, in September 2015, it was a staggering 44%. In other words, in a country with compulsory voting a modest majority of 56% turned out.

Compared with that, the decrease in turnout in Dutch national elections is modest: in 1986 turnout was 86% and in the last two elections it was still a commendable 75%. Expectations are that turnout might actually go up in this year’s elections. With regard to loyalty (the vote for established parties), the Netherlands is very much in line with the European trend. Most European countries have seen a sharp decline in electoral support for established parties. While this development is related to societal changes that date back to the 1960s and 1970s, such as secularisation and a shrinking working class, the decline of the established parties only became a broader issue in the 1990s, and has significantly increased during the great recession. The process has been particularly pronounced in the Netherlands.

Throughout the 1980s the three established parties – the Christian democratic CDA, the social democratic PvdA, and the conservative VVD – received around 80% of the vote. In 2002 that dropped to about 60% as a consequence of the rise of Fortuyn’s LPF, and it stayed like that until 2012 – although Rutte’s VVD is now bigger than the CDA and the PvdA. However, in the most recent polls the three parties only have some 40% of the vote, half of what they had in the 1980s. At the same time, voice (the support for populist parties) has increased significantly. In the 1980s populist parties barely got more than a few seats in parliament, whereas in 2002 the left populist SP and Fortuyn’s right populist LPF together gained more than 20%. In the latest polls Wilders’s PVV is the largest party, or at least running neck-and-neck with the Rutte’s VVD, while the SP is struggling a bit – and has become less populist. Together they are close to 30% of the vote, of which the PVV would get almost two-thirds.

[..] The two most likely outcomes of the Dutch elections are either a very broad coalition of four or five parties, with or without Wilders’s PVV, or a minority government, dependent upon temporary coalitions to get some policies through. Whatever the outcome, it will only strengthen political dissatisfaction, creating more fragmentation and polarisation, leading to even less loyalty and even more voice. That is the main European lesson of the Dutch elections.

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Wait till the new bubble pops too, and the hedge funds want to transfer their losses to the public.

Fannie, Freddie Investors Lose In Court (Econ.)

One unresolved issue from the financial crisis is the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two firms that stand behind much of America’s housing market. Fannie and Freddie purchase mortgages, bundle them into securities and sell them on to investors with a guarantee. When America’s housing market collapsed a decade ago, the government had to bail them out. Its treatment of the firms since then has created a titanic legal struggle. Shareholders have cried foul. On February 21st, a federal appeals court upheld a ruling in the government’s favour. At issue is the Obama administration’s decision in 2012 to hoover up all of Fannie and Freddie’s profits. Until then, it had received a fixed dividend on its investment. The timing of the shift was striking—just before a surge in the firms’ profitability. Since 2008 the Treasury has sucked in about $250bn from the firms, 30% more than the cost of the bail-out.

The change enraged hedge funds who had bought Fannie and Freddie’s shares and found themselves expropriated. The investors’ lawsuit held that the government overstepped its authority by seizing all profits. A federal court dismissed that claim in 2014; it has taken until now for an appeals court to uphold the most important parts of the decision. An odd aspect of the ruling is that it largely ignored the substantive arguments but concluded the court lacked the authority to curb the government’s actions. Its ruling sent shares in Fannie and Freddie tumbling (see chart). That reversed about half of the rally sparked by Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election. Investors reckon that Mr Trump’s administration will be more favourable to Fannie and Freddie’s investors. Initially Steve Mnuchin, now treasury secretary, told a business-news network that Fannie and Freddie should be privatised again.

But in his confirmation hearing before the Senate in January, he seemed to roll back those remarks. The firms are hardly robust. The Treasury is running down their capital by $600m a year. By 2018 they will have none left. From then on, should the firms make a loss, they will need to draw on an emergency line of credit from the government. Doing so would be characterised by some as a second bail-out. That worrying prospect should provide some impetus to the search for an alternative solution. But it will be hard to find an ownership structure for Fannie and Freddie that satisfies everyone. The firms keep mortgages cheap by lumping taxpayers with a staggering amount of risk. (If the housing market collapsed, the cost to the Treasury could be 2-4% of GDP, according to an analysis by The Economist). Few will want investors to make profits on the back of such a taxpayer guarantee.

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Oh man, it’s WWII in Europe. The Underground Railroad in the US. And here we were thinking that was in the past.

Underground Network Readies Homes To Hide Undocumented Immigrants (CNN)

A hammer pounds away in the living room of a middle class home. A sanding machine smoothes the grain of the wood floor in the dining room. But this home Pastor Ada Valiente is showing off in Los Angeles, with its refurbished floors, is no ordinary home. “It would be three families we host here,” Valiente says. By “host,” she means provide refuge to people who may be sought by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The families staying here would be undocumented immigrants, fearing an ICE raid and possible deportation. The purchase of this home is part of a network formed by Los Angeles religious leaders across faiths in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. The intent is to shelter hundreds, possibly thousands of undocumented people in safe houses across Southern California. The goal is to offer another sanctuary beyond religious buildings or schools, ones that require federal authorities to obtain warrants before entering the homes.

“That’s what we need to do as a community to keep families together,” Valiente says. At another Los Angeles neighborhood miles away, a Jewish man shows off a sparsely decorated spare bedroom in his home. White sheets on the bed and the clean, adjacent full bathroom bear all the markers of an impending visit. The man, who asked not to be identified, pictures an undocumented woman and her children who may find refuge in his home someday. The man says he’s never been in trouble before and has difficulty picturing that moment. But he’s well educated and understands the Fourth Amendment, which gives people the right to be secure in their homes, against unreasonable searches and seizures. He’s pictured the moment if ICE were to knock on his door. “I definitely won’t let them in. That’s our legal right,” he says. “If they have a warrant, then they can come in. I can imagine that could be scary, but I feel the consequences of being passive in this moment is a little scary.”

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Great legal battles.

Washington Governor Bans Employees From Aiding Trump Immigration Crackdown (I.)

A state governor has banned his employees from cooperating with Donald Trump’s policies on immigration. Jay Inslee signed an executive order that bars the state of Washington’s agencies from denying services to people based on their citizenship or legal status and from helping detain immigrants for breaking civil rules. It came after memos were released by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly showing his department planned to prioritise the removal of undocumented immigrants who “have been convicted of any criminal offence”, following directives from the President. This will include those who “have abused any programme related to receipt of public benefits”.

Governor Inslee said: “Washington will not be a willing participant in promoting or carrying out mean-spirited policies that break up families and compromise our national security and community safety. “Our officers are here to keep the public safe by enforcing the criminal laws, not to act as [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers or enforce civil violations.” He added that it reaffirmed “the state’s commitment to tolerance, diversity, and inclusiveness” and the order was “designed to ensure that all state agencies under my executive authority carry out only those duties and responsibilities prescribed to them in state and federal law.” He said: “In Washington state we know this: we do not discriminate based on someone’s race, religion, ethnicity or national origin. That remains true even as federal policies create such uncertain times.”

Washington agencies must comply to the extent to which they are permitted under federal law, he said. The agencies are ordered not to collect any more information about people than is necessary to perform their basic duties. Mr Inslee’s office said immigrants make up 17% of Washington’s workforce and contribute some $2.4bn in taxes. Mr Kelly has insisted there will be “no mass deportations” during the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. He told reporters in Mexico City there would be “no use of military force for immigration operations” and said enforcing new policies would be done legally and with respect for human rights.

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The losers are still in charge.

Be Clear About What Happened To Keith Ellison (Bruenig)

On the Monday after the 2016 election, Keith Ellison announced that he intended to run for DNC chair. At the time of his announcement, Ellison had the support of prominent establishment Democrats (Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer) and prominent left-wing Democrats (Bernie Sanders, Raúl Grijalva). He was the clear frontrunner. His challengers were mostly insignificant or bygone figures that nobody thought posed a threat to his bid. Around a week after he announced, the New York Times reported that Obama’s people were not happy with Ellison and that they were scouring the benches for someone to beat him: But after steadily adding endorsements from leading Democrats in his bid to take over the party, Mr. Ellison is encountering resistance from a formidable corner: the White House.

In a sign of the discord gripping the party, President Obama’s loyalists, uneasy with the progressive Mr. Ellison, have begun casting about for an alternative, according to multiple Democratic officials close to the president. The Obama people did not rally around an existing candidate in the field that they thought was better. They went out and recruited someone. The point of this recruitment was to beat back the left faction that Ellison represented. They considered many potential avatars for this anti-Ellison effort and eventually settled on Tom Perez. On December 15, Tom Perez came into the DNC race. Around the same time, the establishment forces mounted a brutal smear campaign against Ellison, placing stories all over the place about how he was (or still is) an anti-semitic, Farrakhan-loving, Nation of Islam guy. This effort ultimately paid off with Perez narrowly winning the DNC chair election over Ellison.

During and after the DNC chair race, many moderate pundits and posters took the position that who wins the DNC chair does not really matter and also that infighting between left and right factions of the Democratic party is unhelpful in the times of Trump. But this, bizarrely enough, wasn’t self-criticism of the moderate establishment wing of the party. No, it was criticism that was and continues to be lobbed at the left-wing sorts who backed Ellison. Before this gets turned into another thing where the establishment Democrats posture as the reasonable adults victimized by the assaults of those left-wing baddies, let’s just be very clear about what happened here. It was the establishment wing that decided to recruit and then stand up a candidate in order to fight an internal battle against the left faction of the party. It was the establishment wing that then dumped massive piles of opposition research on one of their own party members. And it was the establishment wing that did all of this in the shadow of Trump, sowing disunity in order to contest a position whose leadership they insist does not really matter.

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What happens when nobody tells them the truth.

Half of Germans Against Debt Relief For Greece (R.)

Around half of Germans are against granting debt relief to Greece and around three in 10 want it to quit the eurozone, a survey showed on Friday. The INSA poll for the Bild newspaper showed 46.4% of people living in Germany, Europe’s paymaster, thought giving Greece debt relief would be unfair for other eurozone countries. That compared with around a fifth (18.4%) who did not share that view and 9.1% who said they did not care.

Athens and its creditors agreed on Monday to resume talks on a long-stalled review of Greece’s bailout, but only after Greece accepted examination of its reforms for 2019 onward. The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, said on Wednesday that Greece does not need a haircut on its debt at the moment but added that debt restructuring and interest rate cuts on bailout loans were necessary. The German government, preparing for an election on September 24, is against debt relief for Greece.

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Half of all species could be extinct by the end of the century. Or before.

The Living Fabric Of The World Is Slipping Through Our Fingers (G.)

One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather on Monday to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere. “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican this week. Threatened creatures such as the tiger or rhino may make occasional headlines, but little attention is paid to the eradication of most other life forms, they argue. But as the conference will hear, these animals and plants provide us with our food and medicine.

They purify our water and air while also absorbing carbon emissions from our cars and factories, regenerating soil, and providing us with aesthetic inspiration. “Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” said biologist Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University in California. “We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”

Monday’s meeting is one of a series set up by the Vatican on ecological issues – which Pope Francis has deemed an urgent issue for the Catholic church. “We need to unravel the processes that led to the ills we are now facing,” said one of the conference’s organisers, the economist Sir Partha Dasgupta, of Cambridge University. “That is why the Vatican symposia involve natural and social scientists, as well as scholars from the humanities. That the symposia are being held at the Papal Academy is also symbolic. It shows that the ancient hostility between science and the church, at least on the issue of preserving Earth’s services, has been quelled.”

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Feb 102017
 
 February 10, 2017  Posted by at 10:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Al Capone’s free soup kitchen, Chicago, 1931

 

US Appeals Court Upholds Suspension Of Trump Travel Ban (AP)
The Crash Will Be Violent (David Stockman)
Foreign Governments Dump US Treasuries as Never Before; Who is Buying? (WS)
Impediments to Growth (Lacy Hunt)
A Game Of Chess (BP)
Biography of President Donald Trump, a.k.a. “Wayne Newton” (Jim Kunstler)
What Would it Cost a Country to Leave the Euro? (WS)
Varoufakis Accuses Creditors Of Going After Greece’s ‘Little People’ (Ind.)
Greece Hopeful Of Imminent EU Debt Deal Despite German Warning (G.)
Greek Crisis Descends Into Blame Game (Tel.)
China Bitcoin Exchanges Halt Withdrawals After PBOC Talks (BBG)
Where US Immigrants Have Come From Over Time (BI)
The World According to a Free-Range Short Seller (BBG)
Radiation at Japan’s Fukushima Reactor Is Now at ‘Unimaginable’ Levels (Fox)
Ground-Breaking Research Uncovers New Risks of GMOs, Glyphosate (NGR)
‘No One Accepts Responsibility’: Thirteen Refugees Dead In Greece (IRR)

 

 

It is crucial for the US political system to be tested this way. So far, it seems to work, but we’re in very early innings. Important to recognize that Trump and Bannon merely attempt to use the broader executive powers developed under Clinton, Bush and Obama. A major problem can be that the judiciary has alredy become very politicized, with presidents getting to pick judges.

US Appeals Court Upholds Suspension Of Trump Travel Ban (AP)

Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, dealing another legal setback to the new administration’s immigration policy. In a unanimous decision, the panel of three judges from the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible. The court rejected the administration’s claim that it did not have the authority to review the president’s executive order. “There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” the court said. The judges noted that the states had raised serious allegations about religious discrimination.

Following news of the ruling, Trump tweeted, “See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake!” U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The ban temporarily suspended the nation’s refugee program and immigration from countries that have raised terrorism concerns. Justice Department lawyers appealed to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism. The states said Trump’s travel ban harmed individuals, businesses and universities. Citing Trump’s campaign promise to stop Muslims from entering the U.S., they said the ban unconstitutionally blocked entry to people based on religion.

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“..the first half of the year will be consumed in nasty partisan battles over cabinet appointments, the Gorsuch nomination, interminable maneuvers over the travel ban and follow-on measures of extreme vetting and the Obamacare repeal/replace battle.”

The Crash Will Be Violent (David Stockman)

[..] What will be coming soon, however, is the mother of all debt ceiling crises — an eruption of beltway dysfunction that will finally demolish the notion that Trump is good for the economy and the stock market. The debt ceiling holiday ends on March 15, and it appears that the rudderless Treasury Department — Mnuchin has not yet been approved as Treasury Secretary and there are no Trump deputies, either — may be engaging in a bit of sabotage. That is, the cash balance has run down from a peak of about $450 billion to just $304 billion as of last Friday. Unless reversed soon, this means that the Treasury will run out of cash by perhaps July 4th rather than Labor Day. After that, all hell will break loose.

Washington has been obviously dysfunctional for years, but the virtue of the Great Disrupter is that his tweets, tangents, inconsistencies and unpredictabilities guarantee that the system will soon shut down entirely. Consequently, the first half of the year will be consumed in nasty partisan battles over cabinet appointments, the Gorsuch nomination, interminable maneuvers over the travel ban and follow-on measures of extreme vetting and the Obamacare repeal/replace battle. Then, the second half of 2017 will degenerate into a non-stop battle over raising the debt ceiling and continuing resolutions for fiscal year (FY) 2018 which begins October 1. That will mean, in turn, that there is no budget resolution embodying the Trump/GOP fiscal agenda, and therefore no basis for filibuster-proof “reconciliation instructions” on the tax cut.

This latter point, in fact, needs special emphasis. The frail GOP majorities now in place will be too battered and fractured by the interim battles to coalesce around a ten-year budget resolution that embodies the $10 trillion of incremental deficits already built into the CBO baseline — plus trillions more for defense, veterans, border control, the Mexican Wall, an infrastructure bonanza and big tax cuts, too. It will never happen. There is not remotely a GOP majority for such a resolution. But without an FY 2018 budget resolution, inertia and the K-Street lobbies will rule. Without a 51-vote majority rule in the Senate, a material, deficit-neutral cut in the corporate tax rate would be absolutely impossible to pass. Yet that’s exactly what the casino is currently pricing-in.

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Foreign investors.

Foreign Governments Dump US Treasuries as Never Before; Who is Buying? (WS)

It started with a whimper a couple of years ago and has turned into a roar: foreign governments are dumping US Treasuries. The signs are coming from all sides. The data from the US Treasury Department points at it. The People’s Bank of China points at it in its data releases on its foreign exchange reserves. Japan too has started selling Treasuries, as have other governments and central banks. Some, like China and Saudi Arabia, are unloading their foreign exchange reserves to counteract capital flight, prop up their own currencies, or defend a currency peg. Others might sell US Treasuries because QE is over and yields are rising as the Fed has embarked on ending its eight years of zero-interest-rate policy with what looks like years of wild flip-flopping, while some of the Fed heads are talking out loud about unwinding QE and shedding some of the Treasuries on its balance sheet.

Inflation has picked up too, and Treasury yields have begun to rise, and when yields rise, bond prices fall, and so unloading US Treasuries at what might be seen as the peak may just be an investment decision by some official institutions. The chart below from Goldman Sachs, via Christine Hughes at Otterwood Capital, shows the net transactions of US Treasury bonds and notes in billions of dollars by foreign official institutions (central banks, government funds, and the like) on a 12-month moving average. Note how it started with a whimper, bounced back a little, before turning into wholesale dumping, hitting record after record (red marks added):

The People’s Bank of China reported two days ago that foreign exchange reserves fell by another $12.3 billion in January, to $2.998 trillion, the seventh month in a row of declines, and the lowest in six years. They’re down 25%, or almost exactly $1 trillion, from their peak in June 2014 of nearly $4 trillion (via Trading Economics, red line added):

China’s foreign exchange reserves are composed of assets that are denominated in different currencies, but China does not provide details. So of the $1 trillion in reserves that it shed since 2014, not all were denominated in dollars. The US Treasury Department provides another partial view, based on data collected primarily from US-based custodians and broker-dealers that are holding these securities for China and other countries. But the US Treasury cannot determine which country owns the Treasuries held in custodial accounts overseas. Based on this limited data, China’s holdings of US Treasuries have plunged by $215.2 billion, or 17%, over the most recent 12 reporting months through November, to just above $1 trillion.

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From a Mish article quoting an unpublished report. I wonder when all these people will begin to understand my point that growth is gone. Only then will the pieces fall into place. Note: calling Weak Global Growth and Impediment to Growth sounds a bit silly.

Impediments to Growth (Lacy Hunt)

1. Unproductive Debt At the end of the third quarter, domestic nonfinancial debt and total debt reached $47.0 and $69.4 trillion, respectively. Neither of these figures includes a sizeable volume of vehicle and other leases that will come due in the next few years nor unfunded pension liabilities that will eventually be due. The total figure is much larger as it includes debt of financial institutions as well as foreign debt owed. The broader series points to the complexity of the debt overhang. Netting out the financial institutions and foreign debt is certainly appropriate for closed economies, but it is not appropriate for the current economy.

Total debt gained $3.1 trillion in the past four quarters, or $5.70 dollars for each $1.00 of GDP growth. From 1870 to 2015, $1.90 of total debt generated $1.00 dollar of GDP. We estimate that approximately $20 trillion of debt in the U.S. will reset within the next two years. Interest rates across the curve are up approximately 100 basis points from the lows of last year. Unless rates reverse, the annual interest costs will jump $200 billion within two years and move steadily higher thereafter as more debt obligations mature. This sum is equivalent to almost two-fifths of the $533 billion in nominal GDP in the past four quarters. This situation is the same problem that has constantly dogged highly indebted economies like the U.S., Japan and the Eurozone.

2. Record Global Debt The IMF calculated that the gross debt in the global non-financial sector was $217 trillion, or 325% of GDP, at the end of the third quarter of 2016. Total debt at the end of the third quarter 2016 was more than triple its level at the end of 1999. Debt in China surged by $3 trillion in just the first three quarters of 2016. Chinese debt at the end of the third quarter soared to 390% of GDP, an estimated 20% higher than U.S. debt-to-GDP. This debt surge explains the shortfall in the Chinese growth target for 2016, a major capital flight, a precipitous fall of the Yuan against the dollar and a large hike in their overnight lending rate. Such policies lose their effectiveness over time. [As stated by] Nobel laureate F. A. Hayek (1933):“To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about.”

3. Weak Global Growth Based on figures from the World Bank and the IMF through 2016, growth in a 60-country composite was just 1.1%, a fraction of the 7.2% average since 1961. Even with the small gain for 2016, the three-year average growth was -0.8%. As such, the last three years have provided more evidence that the benefits of a massive debt surge are elusive. World trade volume also confirms the fragile state of economic conditions. Trade peaked at 115.4 in February 2016, with September 2016 1.7% below that peak, according to the Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis. Over the last 12 months, world trade volume fell 0.7%, compared to the 5.1% average growth since 1992.

4. Eroding Demographics World trade volume also confirms the fragile state of economic conditions. Trade peaked at 115.4 in February 2016, with September 2016 1.7% below that peak, according to the Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis. Over the last 12 months, world trade volume fell 0.7%, compared to the 5.1% average growth since 1992.

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Absolutely delightful.

A Game Of Chess (BP)

Chess is a game where the number of possible positions rises at an astronomical rate. By the 2nd move of the game there are already 400 possible positions and after each person moves twice, that number rises to 8902. My coach explained to me that I was not trained enough to even begin to keep track of those things and that my only chance of ever winning was to take the initiative and never give it up. “You must know what your opponent will do next by playing his game for him.” was the advice I received. Now, I won’t bore you with the particulars but it boiled down to throwing punches each and every turn without exception. In other words, if my opponent must always waste his turn responding to what I am doing then he never gets an opportunity to come at me in the millions of possibilities that reside in the game. Again, if I throw the punch – even one that can be easily blocked, then I only have to worry about one combination and not millions.

My Russian chess coach next taught me that I should Proudly Announce what exactly I am doing and why I am doing it. He explained to me that bad chess players believe that they can hide their strategy even though all the pieces are right there in plain sight for anyone to see. A good chess player has no fear of this because they will choose positions that are unassailable so why not announce them? As a coach, I made all of my students tell each other why they were making the moves that they made as well as what they were planning next. It entirely removed luck from the game and quickly made them into superior players.

My Russian coach next stressed Time as something I should focus on to round out my game. He said that I shouldn’t move the same piece twice in a row and that my “wild punches” should focus on getting my pieces on to the board and into play as quickly as possible. So, if I do everything correctly, I have an opponent that will have a disorganized defense, no offense and few pieces even in play and this will work 9 out of 10 times. The only time it doesn’t work for me is when I go against players that have memorized hundreds of games and have memorized how to get out of these traps.

With all that said, let’s see if President Trump is playing chess. First, we can all agree that Trump, if nothing else, throws a lot of punches. We really saw this in the primaries where barely a day could go by without some scandal that would supposedly end his presidential bid. His opponents and the press erroneously thought that responding to each and every “outrage” was the correct thing to do without ever taking the time to think whether or not they had just walked into a trap. They would use their turn to block his Twitter attack but he wouldn’t move that piece again once that was in play but, instead, brought on the next outrage – just like my coach instructed me to do.

Second, Trump is very vocal in what he is going to do. Just like I had my students announced to each other their plans, Trump has been nothing but transparent about what he intends to do. After all, announcing your plans only works if your position is unassailable. It demoralizes your opponent. You rub their face in it. Another benefit to being vocal is that it encourages your opponent to bring out his favorite piece to deal with said announced plans. This is a big mistake as any good chess player will quickly recognize which piece his opponent favors and then go take them.

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“Fraid Jim lost it.

Biography of President Donald Trump, a.k.a. “Wayne Newton” (Jim Kunstler)

And so it happened years ago on the Trump family’s annual Christmas pilgrimage to Paraguay that Papa Fred and Mama Mary Anne fell in socially with the circle around Klaus Furtwänkler, Waffen-SS Gruppenführer (ret.) in the little resort village of Nueva Bavaria. The former commandant of the Flossenbürg work camp (granite quarries) introduced young Donald to the song “Danke Schoen” popularized by the vocalist Eva Braun at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Since earliest childhood, with his love for the “spotlight,” Donald had entertained the family with renditions of Disney’s beloved hits, “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah,” “When I See an Elephant Fly,” and “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (an Actor’s Life for Me).” The next evening, on Furtwänkler’s 3,000-hectare estancia, before an audience of fifty “special guests” at the Heiliger Abend buffet (Arapaima snapper with red cabbage and potato salad), Donald performed “Danke Schoen” to wild applause, propelling him into a career in show business. Not a few of the frauleins present fainted.


Young Donald or someone else?

To protect Papa’s real estate business interests in Queens, New York, Donald adopted the professional name “Wayne Newton” and was withdrawn from military school to perform on the county fair circuit across the states that would later self- identify by the color “red” — but which, given our adversarial relations with the USSR at the time, styled themselves red, white, and blue. Six month’s later, “Wayne” caught the eye of Las Vegas promoter Sal “Cukarach” Vaselino while playing the Refrigeration Engineers annual meet-up at the Sands Hotel, and then after a six-week smash engagement at the Golden Nugget in 1963, “Wayne” was inducted into the notorious Frank Sinatra / Dean Martin Rat-pack as its first underage member. (Rat-pack consigliere Peter Lawford introduced the talented lad to the concept of “sloppy seconds”).

[..] Back on the convention circuit with Jules the Singing Jackrabbit, Wayne played the 1983 National Realtors Association Pump-and-Dump Expo and was influenced to get his first real estate license. “Why pay for milk when you can own the cash cow,” keynote speaker Ivan Boesky advised “Wayne,” prompting him to return to his New York City “roots” and resume his identity as “The Donald,” son of “The Fred” Trump. A carefully orchestrated life of public appearances at Gotham charity events and a lavish wedding to model Ivana Zelníková reestablished Donald Trump as a fixture on the glittering Manhattan scene – meanwhile, a Greyhound Bus mechanic and aspiring country crooner named Bud Gorch, a “dead-ringer” look-alike for the erstwhile “Wayne Newton,” was recruited by the Trump Organization to impersonate the once-again in-demand Las Vegas star. Gorch-as-Wayne successfully premiered his new act at the National Colorectal Surgeons Association Chron’s and Colitis Congress and the “great switch” was achieved. The rest, as they say, is history!


Who actually was it onstage at the National Organ Transplant Association Convention, 1967?

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The door is ajar.

What Would it Cost a Country to Leave the Euro? (WS)

[Le Pen] is campaigning on taking France out of the euro (after holding a referendum) and re-denominating the entire €2.4 trillion pile of French government debt into new franc. Then the government can just print the money it wants to spend. There are some complications with her plan, including that the diverse and bickering French political class will unite into a slick monolithic bloc against her during the second round. And if she still wins, her government will face that bloc in parliament. But hey. And now people are seriously thinking about it. Greece was on the verge of leaving the euro, but then within a millimeter of actually taking the step, it blinked and inched back from the precipice in the hot summer of 2015. And so for now still no one knows what the cost would be to leave…

[..] Now ECB President Mario Draghi is stumbling into the fray. “The euro is irrevocable,” he told the European Parliament on Monday, to counter the populist rejection of the euro. “This is the treaty,” he said. Which evoked memories of the good ol’ days of the sovereign debt crisis, when, to put an end to it in July 2012, Draghi said that the euro was “irreversible” and that the ECB was “ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.” At the time, the Spanish 10-year yield was above 7% and the Italian 10-year yield was above 6%. So now, same tune, different scenario. It’s not a debt crisis. It’s just a question of whether or not it’s possible to leave the euro, and if yes, how much it would cost. And that question has already been raised officially.

On January 18, Draghi had sent a letter to European Union lawmakers Marco Valli and Marco Zanni, telling them: “If a country were to leave the Eurosystem, its national central bank’s claims on or liabilities to the ECB would need to be settled in full.” That was the opening – the IF. “If a country were to leave…” It meant that a country could leave! It was the first official admission that this was actually possible. It was just a matter of cost. That’s how Zani saw Draghi’s response. Bloomberg: “I wanted to bring up the issue of exit from the euro and how it can happen,” he said in an interview before the testimony. “Draghi has now clearly admitted that such an exit is possible and now there is need to have more clarity about the cost. I’m sure that in case of Italy’s exit from the euro, benefits exceed costs.”

Alas, in his testimony before the European Parliament, Draghi refused to put a price tag on leaving the euro. Valli asked him whether the “liabilities” Draghi had referred to that would “need to be settled in full” were the so-called Target2 imbalances. These are a result of payment settlements within the European System of Central Banks. They’d soared during the debt crisis to hundreds of billions of euros, a sign of the underlying financial tensions between debtor and creditor countries. But Draghi dodged the question: “I cannot answer a question that is based on hypotheses, on assumptions which are not foreseen” by the European treaties, he said. “What I could do is send you a written answer which compares our Target2 system with the Federal Reserve-based system.” Which was very helpful.

But even though he refused to put a price tag on leaving the euro, the whole exchange confirmed that it’s possible to leave the euro, though there is nothing in the treaties that mentions leaving the euro.

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Yanis is spot on right. The Greeks are now being sacrificed on the altar of incumbents afraid to lose elections. The insane narrative that Germans and Dutch ‘give’ billions to Greece persists. That says a lot about the press in these countries.

Varoufakis Accuses Creditors Of Going After Greece’s ‘Little People’ (Ind.)

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has said that everyday life in Greece is unsustainable and that the country’s European creditors are going after the “little people” rather than “corrupt oligarchs”. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the 55-year old economist said that the country has been put on a fiscal path which makes everyday life “unsustainable” in Greece. “The German finance minister agrees that no Greek government, however reformist it might be, can sustain the current debt obligations of Greece,” he said. Earlier in the day, Wolfgang Schäuble told German broadcaster ARD that Greece must reform or quit the euro. “A country in desperate need of reform has been made unreformable by unsustainable macroeconomic policies,” Mr Varoufakis said.

He said that “instead of attacking the worst cases of corruption, for six years now the creditors have been after the little people, the small pharmacists, the very poor pensioners instead of going for the oligarchies”. Greece in 2010 was given a huge loan that Mr Varoufakis said was not designed to save the bankrupt country but to “cynically transfer huge banking losses from the books of the Franco German banks onto the shoulders of the weakest taxpayers in Europe”. Earlier this week, the IMF warned Greece’s debts are on an “explosive” path, despite years of economic reform. The IMF has insisted on additional debt relief and reduced fiscal targets before it participates financially in Greece’s current bailout program. Germany, which faces national elections, has resisted such moves. Statistics agency ELSTAT said on Thursday that Greece’s jobless rate came in at 23% in November, unchanged from the previous month. But although the jobless rate has come down from record highs, it remains more than double the euro zone’s average of 9.8% in November.

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Why try anymore?

Greece Hopeful Of Imminent EU Debt Deal Despite German Warning (G.)

The Greek government has expressed hope of an imminent deal with its EU creditors, despite a warning from the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, that the country could cut its debts only by leaving the single currency. Athens is in a familiar stand-off with the German finance ministry as it seeks easier repayment terms on its €330bn debt pile, which the IMF has described as unsustainable and explosive. The IMF has so far declined to get involved in the latest Greek rescue effort, a three-year EU bailout worth €86bn set to run until August 2018. The fund says it will only join if Greece gets significant debt relief, although its board is split. Germany and the Netherlands, which both face elections this year, think the IMF’s involvement is crucial for the bailout plan to continue.

Tensions – and Greek borrowing costs – have risen in recent weeks, ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on 20 February, which is widely seen as the last moment to reach agreement before the eurozone election cycle. The Dutch go to the polls in March; French presidential elections follow in April-May and German elections in the autumn. George Katrougalos, Greece’s Europe minister, voiced confidence that a deal was within reach: “I am optimistic that we can have such an agreement before the Eurogroup of 20 February.” He told journalists in Brussels that Europe was not the problem. “If we had just to deal with the Europeans we would have already completed this review in December. All the delay is due to the ambivalence of the IMF to participate or not to participate.”

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“Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, argued that “Greece’s debt situation does not have to be cause for alarm”…

Greek Crisis Descends Into Blame Game (Tel.)

Greece is under mounting pressure to embark on a new wave of economic reforms, as its international creditors demand extra efforts to drag the country out of its latest crisis. At the same time Germany is facing fresh demands from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to write off some of the money it loaned to Greece in the most recent €86bn (£73bn) bailout. And the IMF has been forced to defend its dire predictions of permanent economic gloom as the Greek government rejects the IMF’s assessment of its reforms, public finances and economic performance. On top of that, the IMF itself is split, with a minority of directors pushing for extra spending cuts and tax hikes in Greece to try to improve its public finances. The IMF tried to address its internal splits, stressing that it wants debt relief for Greece combined with economic reforms, not austerity. It does still demand serious action, though – unless the economy picks up and debts are slashed, it has warned Greece’s debts are on an “explosive” path.

“Our strong preference is for a primary [Greek budget] surplus target of 1.5pc and that this should be accompanied by significant debt relief. We’ve referred to this as the ‘two legs’ of the programme that we think is required,” said Gerry RIce, the IMF’s spokesman. “We think this target, the 1.5, can be obtained by the policies envisaged by the current European Stability Mechanism programme – in short, the IMF is not asking for any more austerity for Greece.” That passes much of the pressure on to Germany and the other nations which have loaned Greece money, but are unwilling to write off the debt. Germany renewed the pressure on Greece to press ahead with more economic reforms. Its finance minister Wolfgang Schauble told a German TV station that the Lisbon Treaty prevents governments from writing off these debts.

Instead, he argued, Greece must continue reforming to make its economy more competitive. Meanwhile Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, argued that “Greece’s debt situation does not have to be cause for alarm”. Writing in the Financial Times, he said that the IMF has failed to fully appreciate the amount of support on offer from other eurozone countries to Greece, largely in the form of very generous loans. “It is hard to overestimate the significance of this pledge, made by the finance ministers of the eurozone. Solidarity with Greece will continue,” he said. “We would not have lent this amount if we did not think we would get our money back,” he said, ruling out debt relief and backing more economic reforms.

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Beijing decides what bitcoin is.

China Bitcoin Exchanges Halt Withdrawals After PBOC Talks (BBG)

China’s three biggest bitcoin exchanges took steps to prevent withdrawals of the cryptocurrency amid pressure from the nation’s central bank to clamp down on capital outflows. BTC China subjected all bitcoin withdrawals to a 72-hour review, while Huobi and OKCoin suspended them completely, the three venues said in separate statements on Thursday. They all said the measures were in response to central bank requirements. Conversion to and from the yuan is not affected and the curbs will be dropped after updates to compliance systems, the exchanges said. The People’s Bank of China told nine bitcoin venues at a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday that it will close exchanges that violate rules on foreign exchange management, money laundering, and payment and settlement.

Chinese authorities are scrutinizing the cryptocurrency amid concerns it’s being used to spirit money out of the country, undermining official efforts to clamp down on capital outflows and prop up the yuan. Demand from investors in Asia’s largest economy, home to most of the world’s bitcoin trades, has fueled a 160% rally versus the dollar over the past year. Huobi and OKCoin said it will take about a month to upgrade systems in line with new PBOC guidelines. BTC China did not give a timing for when any upgrade would be completed. “The Chinese government is worried about capital flight,” said Arthur Hayes, a former market maker at Citigroup who now runs BitMEX, a bitcoin derivatives venue in Hong Kong. “Bitcoin is seen as another way to move money out of China, even though most people trade it for onshore capital appreciation and as another asset in their portfolio.”

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A long history of immgrant bans.

Where US Immigrants Have Come From Over Time (BI)

President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration may have reignited public debate, but Americans have long harbored anti-immigrant sentiments. One-third of Americans said in a 2016 Pew Research Center survey that immigrants are a “burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing and health care,” and 38% say immigration should be decreased. On the flip side, 59% of Americans say immigrants “strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents” and either think immigration should stay at its present level or increase. Today, immigrants make up 13.5% of the US population — on par with the share in 1860, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The overall number of immigrants coming to the US peaked from 2000-05 at 5 million, and has been declining since then. Here are the major regions where immigrants entering the US have come from since 1820:

US immigrants were largely of European descent in the 1800s, and started coming from the Americas (largely Mexico) in the 1960s. The sharp decrease in the 1920s is due to Congress passing the Exclusion Act, which set limits on the number of immigrants who could enter the US, based on a quota system of the percentage of nationalities already in the country. Barely anyone from Asia could enter at all. Congress revised the law in 1952, and immigration started to tick up again.

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Wonderful story.

The World According to a Free-Range Short Seller (BBG)

Some of the most respected people in the investing industry say that, dating back to the 1980s, nobody has had a better nose for sniffing out fraud than the 56-year-old Cohodes. He’s exposed suspect accounting at a number of high-profile companies, including the Belgian speech-recognition software developer Lernout & Hauspie, which went bankrupt in 2001 after being valued at about $10 billion, and mortgage lender NovaStar Financial, where his efforts earned him a Harvard Business School case study published in 2013. “I would not want to be his adversary if I was still a criminal today,” says Sam Antar, who was sentenced to six months of house arrest and 1,200 hours of community service for cooking the books at New York consumer-electronics chain Crazy Eddie in one of the largest securities frauds unearthed in the 1980s. “A character like Marc”—the two crossed paths later in his life when both were focused on detecting fraud—“you stay away from.”

And that’s been relatively easy for at least part of the past eight years. In 2008 the hedge fund Cohodes worked at for more than two decades went out of business under controversial circumstances. He maintains that Goldman Sachs, its prime broker, closed it too hastily by making needless margin calls, a claim Goldman disputes. The fallout spurred a bout of what Cohodes likens to post-traumatic stress disorder. “What happened to me would put the average person under,” he says. He retreated to his farm, where he recuperated by spending his days delivering eggs to San Francisco, cheering on the Oakland Raiders, and traveling to see a friend’s rock band, Collective Soul. Besides, the vast majority of stocks were rising because of central bank stimulus, depriving him of ideal opportunities as a short seller.

Now Cohodes is back. His time among the horses and chickens—outside the money management industry—may even have helped him return to the top of his game. Slimmed down and fighting fit, he’s been winning big on a series of short bets against Canadian companies since he made his comeback. Cohodes says he’s been betting against embattled Valeant Pharmaceuticals International since the summer of 2015. Around the same time, he began shorting another debt-laden Canadian drugmaker, Concordia International, which he calls “the poor man’s Valeant.” Both stocks lost most of their value last year. Cohodes says he’s committed to exposing companies that he believes may be ripping off ordinary, unwary investors—“Joe Six-pack,” as he puts it. “Legitimate companies don’t know who the f— I am. And they don’t care,” Cohodes says. “The bad guys? They know. And they do care.”

And he’ll go to great lengths to chase them down: dumpster-diving to find clues of wrongdoing, lambasting enemies on Twitter (where his rambunctious character is on full display), and hotfooting it across Las Vegas to check whether new business offices reported by NovaStar were real. (They weren’t, according to Cohodes; one was a private home, another a massage parlor.) “I’m a pretty driven guy,” he says.

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Still trying to find a good report on this, it’s frustrating. One detail: radiation levels are measured at a certain distance from the source, having some suggest real levels at that source could be 5000 sievert.

Radiation at Japan’s Fukushima Reactor Is Now at ‘Unimaginable’ Levels (Fox)

The radiation levels at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are now at “unimaginable” levels. Adam Housley, who reported from the area in 2011 following the catastrophic triple-meltdown, said this morning that new fuel leaks have been discovered. He said the radiation levels – as high as 530 sieverts per hour – are now the highest they’ve been since 2011 when a tsunami hit the coastal reactor. “To put this in very simple terms. Four sieverts can kill a handful of people,” he explained.

He said that critics, including the U.S. military in 2011, have long questioned whether Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and officials have been providing accurate information on the severity of the radiation. TEPCO maintains that the radiation is confined to the site and not a risk to the public. It’s expected to take at least $300 billion and four decades to fix it. Housley said small levels of radiation are still being detected off the coasts of California and Oregon and scientists fear it could get worse. “The worry is with 300 tons of radioactive water going into the Pacific every day, what is that doing to the Pacific Ocean?” said Housley. He added that critics are now questioning whether the radiation has been this severe all along.

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Keep paying attention.

Ground-Breaking Research Uncovers New Risks of GMOs, Glyphosate (NGR)

Within just a few weeks, two studies were published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports that cast new doubts on the safety of genetically modified foods and glyphosate herbicide. The first found that a genetically modified corn, NK 603, was not substantially equivalent to a non-GMO counterpart, which is contrary to claims of GMO proponents. The second study found that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, can cause a serious liver disease at doses thousands of times lower than that allowed by law. Dr. Michael Antoniou, Head of the Gene Expression and Therapy Group at King’s College London in the United Kingdom, led the ground-breaking research.

The main focus of research within Dr. Antoniou’s group is the study of the molecular mechanisms of the regulation of gene function. He has used these discoveries to develop efficient gene expression systems for efficacious and safe biotechnological applications, including gene therapy. More recently, Dr. Antoniou has expanded his research program to include using molecular profiling “omics” methods in evaluating the safety of foods derived from GMO crops, low dose exposure from their associated pesticides, and other chemical pollutants. Dr. Antoniou is also a co-author of GMO Myths and Truths, an evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety of genetically modified crops and foods.

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Too many parties involved see misery as being a positive for their goals. Very few aim at actually solving the problems.

‘No One Accepts Responsibility’: Thirteen Refugees Dead In Greece (IRR)

The IRR has been trying to ascertain the circumstances in which thirteen refugees and migrants died since April 2016 in Greece, with six of these deaths occurring in hotspots. In only one of these cases are we in a position to provide the full name of the deceased; the only available identifier is nationality. At least six of the dead were refugees from Syria, including Syrian Kurds, three were from Afghanistan. Five of the dead were living at the hotspot at Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos where over 3,000 refugees are accommodated, well above stated capacity. Those who died here did so because the heaters and gas canisters they had obtained in order to keep warm or cook food were faulty, or used in dangerous situations. An Iraqi man died of a cardiac arrest at a hotspot in Samos (refugee population around 1,800 in a place designed for less than half that number).

Since the Idomeni makeshift migrant camp close to the Macedonian border was cleared by police in May 2016, sub-standard government refugee camps lacking basic amenities have been set up, with three of the dead living in such facilities around Thessaloniki. The oldest to die was a grandmother of 66, the youngest a two-month-old baby. There are three children amongst the dead. The remaining two deaths we have recorded were of men who died of hypothermia after having crossed from Turkey via the river Evros. It’s likely that they made the perilous crossing in order to avoid being detained in the hotspots on the Greek islands. Autopsy results are shrouded in secrecy. Nevertheless, the facts speak for themselves. Overcrowded, unprotected and dangerous conditions are all symptoms of institutional neglect. The simple truth is that the securitisation of asylum policy has come at the expense of refugee protection, as well as basic human rights.

[..] The deaths that have occurred over the winter have at least been reported in the media, partly because human rights defenders, wary of the positive communication strategy of the UNHCR and the EU, issued a number of press releases. Even so, officialdom does not appear over- anxious to investigate. What is particularly worrying is the secrecy shrouding autopsy results, which, if left unchallenged, will ensure that completely avoidable deaths such as these become the new normal. Philippa Kempson, of the Eftalou/ Molovos refugee support group on Lesbos, told IRR News of her fear that the ‘deaths could be subject to cover ups’, and her particular concern that ‘the “accidental” deaths in Moria still do not have a conclusive cause of death’. She also drew attention to the escalation in suicide attempts, particularly amongst unaccompanied minors, at Moria. ‘No one accepts responsibility for what is going on, just a circle of blame,’ she said.

In fact, evading accountability is hard-wired into the way refugee reception is organised in Greece, as there is no central authority responsible for the camps’ administration but a number of actors – a mixture of EU officials, the Greek army and other Greek institutions, the Red Cross and the UNHCR. This means that when anything goes wrong, the various actors end up blaming each other – something academics refer to as a process of distanciation, in which complex chains of responsibility make it difficult to connect cause (ie, government policies) with effect (ie, border-related deaths). Guardian journalist Patrick Kingsley made a similar point in his recent exposé of how a multi-million pound fund administered by the EU’s aid department ECHO, implemented in Greece by UNHCR and aimed at creating adequate facilities to protect refugees from the winter, has been mishandled. Kingsley points out that as ‘no single actor has overall control of all funding and management decisions in the camps, this has allowed most parties to distance themselves from blame’.

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