Jan 202024
 
 January 20, 2024  Posted by at 9:40 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Jackson Pollock Man with knife 1938-40

 

Dems Have Resurrected Law as a Weapon that Serves Power (Paul Craig Roberts)
Fani Willis: Wife of Lover an Adulterer and Political Conspirator (Turley)
Atlanta DA Fani Willis Just Stepped on a Rake (CTH)
Georgia Prosecutors Should Go, But That Won’t End the Trump Case (Turley)
Trump’s Lawyers Warn Of Nationwide ‘Chaos’ (RT)
Trump Warns Of Years Of Trauma If Presidents Don’t Have Total Immunity (Hill)
Gaza Will Be The Grave Of The Western-Led World Order (Takahashi)
Houthis Declare Safe Passage For All Russian, Chinese Ships In Red Sea (ZH)
Russia and the US Are Set For A Long Confrontation (Sushentsov)
The Ukraine Charade, Revisited (Pepe Escobar)
Western Mercenaries Used To Fill Kiev’s Expertise Gaps – Larry Johnson (RT)
French Mercenaries Dying For A Nazi Regime – Russia’s Top MP (RT)
Americans Enslaved Themselves to the State When They Accepted Income Tax (PCR)
The Biden Laptop is Proven Authentic as Past Deniers Double Down (Turley)
The Goddess of the WEF (Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

Crooke
https://twitter.com/i/status/1748027526666965195

 

 

Heritage

 

 

Tucker Robbins

 

 

Orban

 

 

 

 

We may be in for a full year+ of this. Why would it stop on November 8?

Dems Have Resurrected Law as a Weapon that Serves Power (Paul Craig Roberts)

Fani Willis, the incompetent and apparently corrupt black female Atlanta district attorney reportedly put in office by George Soros’ billions, is in more hot water than Trump is in from her fabricated case against him. Fani appointed Nathan Wade, who is believed to be her lover, special prosecutor to aid in Trump’s kangaroo trial. According to county records reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton County paid Wade $654,000 in tax payers’ money since January 2022. The money appears to be what financed the couple’s lavish vacations. The white liberal Democrats are disturbed that Willis was so stupid as to damage her case against Trump by destroying her credibility and public perception of her integrity. Fani’s defense is, of course, that the race card is being played against her as she and her lover are black. There are two ways you can look at her self-justification.

One is that blacks have learned from Jews that a claim of victimhood is a shield against being held accountable. The other is that she has no comprehension of acceptable behavior for public officials. We have an interesting situation in which the prosecutions at the state and county level against Trump are in the hands of black women put in office by George Soros. Why is Soros doing this? Some people think that Soros himself got away with stealing his billions from the Bank of England via his manipulation of the British currency. Where was James Bond when the British needed him? Criminal justice in America is in a serious situation when one billionaire can staff up state and local district attorneys with blacks taught to hate “white exploiters” who are sicced on Trump, his attorneys, and his supporters. The trials are unconstitutional, because a black jury consisting of people taught to hate “white racists” does not constitute a “jury of peers” for a white person.

What happened to the justice system that a president of the US finds himself the target of weaponized law used for racial, ideological, and political reasons, and there is not a peep from law schools, bar associations, judges, or media? How can citizens have confidence in the veracity of prosecutions, the veracity of judges, law schools, bar associations? “Fulton County Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade allegedly did not disclose payments he received from working on the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump to his wife, leaving her without financial support throughout their divorce proceedings, according to a court document obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Wade, who was appointed to work on Trump’s case by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, is allegedly romantically involved with her and used the compensation he received from his position to take her on cruises and vacations, according to a motion filed Monday by a Trump co-defendant.

In separate filings for his divorce case obtained by the DCNF, Wade’s wife alleges he did not disclose to her over $700,000 in earnings from the county. “Wade’s wife alleges he has continued to draw from her bank account, leaving it “routinely overdrawn” despite “the clear inequity in financial circumstances.” His wife has been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and relied on Wade for support during the course of their marriage, according to the filing. “Willis was subpoenaed earlier this week to testify in Wade’s divorce proceedings, according to CNN. “Wade filed for divorce on November 2, 2021, the day after his contract with Willis began, according to court filings. He had his divorce case sealed on February 10, 2022, according to the Monday motion filed by Trump co-defendant Michael Roman.

“Republican US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene sent a criminal referral Wednesday to Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr asking for an investigation into Willis and expressing “serious concerns” about the allegations. Greene suggested Willis could have violated a number of Georgia statutes, including violations of public oath, bribery, improper influence of a government official and more.”

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A DA should not be throwing mud.

Fani Willis: Wife of Lover an Adulterer and Political Conspirator (Turley)

In an surprising filing, Fulton County’s district attorney Fani Willis has accused the estranged wife of her alleged lover of conspiring to undermine the Trump prosecution by seeking her deposition in the messy divorce case of Nathan Wade. Willis, again, does not deny having an affair with Wade, who she appointed lead prosecutor in the case. Instead, she accuses Joycelyn Wade of an affair that broke up the marriage and suggests that she is coordinating with Trump forces to interfere with the prosecution. Willis is accused of major ethical violations in appointing her alleged lover to the position as she went on lavish vacations with him. She previously denounced those raising obvious ethical concerns as being racist due to the fact that both Willis and Wade are black. She did not, however, deny the intimate relationship or the allegation that Wade paid for her vacation expenses.

At issue in the filing is the demand for a pretrial deposition in the divorce case of Nathan and Joycelyn Wade on January 23. Willis’ counsel leveled a full attack on the motivations and associations of Joycelyn Wade. She accused Joycelyn Wade of having an adulterous relationship with a longtime friend of Nathan Wade’s. Willis’ counsel Cinque Axam then added that Joycelyn Wade “has conspired with interested parties in the criminal election interference case to use the civil discovery process to annoy, embarrass and oppress District Attorney Willis.” The filing noted that the allegations against Willis were used by Trump codefendant Mike Roman to seek judicial review and remedy for the alleged conflict of interest. A hearing has now been set by the court for Feb. 28th.

Willis bases her conspiracy theory on the fact that, on January 8, Roman’s filing was made public and on the same day, she was served a subpoena and Merchant moved to unseal the Wades’ divorce case. That certainly makes this all a bit different from the usual “other woman” element in the divorce case. However, it is not a smart move. The level of animus and vexatious language in the filing only magnifies the concern over the Willis-Wade relationship. By attacking the estranged wife of her alleged lover, Willis only increases concerns over the professional separation between Willis and Wade in making decisions in the case. Accusing the estranged wife of your alleged lover of being a political conspirator is about as compelling at accusing people raising ethical concerns of being virulent racists.

For example, if Wade were to exceed his authority or act unprofessionally in the case, Willis would be forced to take action against not only an alleged lover but someone she has had to defend as the ideal choice for the position. Their personal relationship would presumably weigh in the balance in any supervisory review or decision. Likewise, if Willis was taken on vacations by Wade and their relationship is continuing, the termination of his contract could have an economic impact on Willis. In the end, the accusatory motion was a mistake in my view. Willis could have objected to the necessity of the deposition on factual and legal grounds (as she does) without escalating the rhetoric and recriminations.

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”The scale of Lawfare stupid, perhaps driven by hubris and/or an entitled sense of just being above the rules, is simply off-the-charts. Crazy stuff.”

Atlanta DA Fani Willis Just Stepped on a Rake (CTH)

Boy howdy… when things get interesting, they REALLY get interesting. In an effort to deflect attention from the gross corruption she initiated in the prosecution of Donald Trump, Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis stepped into the middle of a contentious divorce between Willis’s married lover and appointed Special Prosecutor, Nathan Wade, and his wife, Joycelyn Wade. After discovering details of the relationship between Nathan Wade and Fani Willis, lawyers representing Mrs. Joycelyn Wade wanted a deposition of Fani Willis. At issue are the finances in the marriage and Mrs. Wade’s discovery that her husband, Nathan Wade, and Fani Willis had been living a life of indulgence from the marital income received (more than $650, 000) as a result of DA Willis hiring Nathan Wade to prosecute Donald Trump.

In an over-the-top court filing trying to avoid the deposition, the Fulton County’s district attorney accused the estranged wife of conspiring to undermine the Trump prosecution by seeking her testimony. Fani Willis does not deny the affair; instead, she accuses Joycelyn Wade of coordinating with Trump people and co-defendants to interfere with the prosecution. (VIA AJC Politics) – “Fulton County’s district attorney on Thursday fired back at allegations she has engaged in an “improper” relationship with her top deputy, accusing his estranged wife of trying to obstruct her prosecution of Donald Trump and his allies.” That approach by Fani Willis opened up a can of worms the district attorney likely didn’t expect. Because Mrs. Jocelyn Wade has credit card statements and receipts showing how her husband booked and paid for lavish travel, expenses and indulgences using Fani Willis’s real name as his companion.

The details and credit card statements are attached to the filing, which substantiates and supports the originating court filing by one of the co-defendants who made the allegation against Fani Willis and Nathan Wade. (via AJC Politics) […] “The records have emerged as part of the Wades’ contentious divorce proceedings in Cobb County Superior Court and have rocked Fulton’s sweeping racketeering case against the former president and 14 remaining defendants. One defendant is seeking to disqualify Willis and her office because of her alleged “improper, clandestine personal relationship” with Wade.”

[..] Nathan Wade was a lawyer specializing in family matters prior to being appointed by District Attorney Fani Willis. Mr. Wade never prosecuted a single felony case in his legal career. Judge Scott McAfee ordered District Attorney Fani Willis to file a written response by Feb. 2. He said he will hold a hearing on the allegations on Feb. 15.

Additionally, according to White House visitor logs, Mr. Nathan Wade visited White House lawyers prior to the indictment of President Trump. Also, DA Willis met with staff (Mary McCord) from the January 6 Committee prior to the indictment. The Georgia prosecutor meeting with Biden lawyers, prior to the indictment against Biden’s political opposition, is a big issue that has yet to surface in front of Judge McAfee. Something is going to change in this case as a result of these explosive findings. I suspect by Monday of next week Ms. Fani Willis will have to remove herself from any involvement in the case. Something substantive is going to change in Atlanta as a result of the discovery of her grossly inappropriate/unethical conduct, and the now exposed financial and personal relationship with the prosecutor she hired, Nathan Wade. The scale of Lawfare stupid, perhaps driven by hubris and/or an entitled sense of just being above the rules, is simply off-the-charts. Crazy stuff.

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“If these allegations are true, Willis is not just outside of the ethical navigational beacons. She is off the map.”

Georgia Prosecutors Should Go, But That Won’t End the Trump Case (Turley)

Chris Christie once said that Donald Trump is often portrayed by legal counsel as “the unluckiest S.O.B. in the world.” Perhaps, but when it comes to his enemies, Trump sometimes seems to find advantages despite his worst efforts. Many of us have criticized Trump for his personal attacks on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as being racist and unethical; he even accused her of having an affair with a gang member, a claim that was widely contested as unfounded and denied by key figures. This month, however, Willis has seemingly imploded with an ethical scandal which, unlike Trump’s prior claims, appears perhaps to be more well-founded, as it appears in an official court filing. It involves reports of an intimate relationship with Nathan Wade, appointed by Willis as lead prosecutor in the Trump case.

While a recusal or removal of Willis may delay the case, it will not end the legal threat for Trump. Willis is accused of having a romantic relationship with Wade when she appointed him in this historic prosecution of a former president. Wade has no experience in racketeering law, yet he reportedly was paid more than an expert on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) cases. Willis and Wade allegedly went on lavish vacations together, and the costs allegedly were covered by Wade, who has received nearly $654,000 in legal fees since January 2022 — approved, ultimately, by Willis. Wade has presented himself as the “only individual in the DA’s office who had authority to enter into agreements pertaining to the investigation.” Wade also has been held in contempt in his messy divorce.

The Georgia courts have established that a district attorney should be disqualified when there is a personal interest in the defendant’s conviction (Whitworth v. State, 275 Ga. App. 790, 793, 622 S.E.2d 21 [2005]). In this instance, Willis has staked much of her career on this case and appointed a prosecutor who’s alleged to be romantically involved with her; likewise, if the allegations are true, Willis may have an interest in furthering Wade’s career and benefits. Of course, Trump, the other defendants, and the public are entitled to disinterested prosecutors in this major case. Moreover, the Fulton County Code of Laws § 2-66 bars conflicts of interest “in fact and in appearance.” It expressly states that no “officer or employee shall, by his or her conduct, give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or her, or unduly enjoy his or her favor, in the performance of any official acts or actions.”

These provisions are in addition to prohibitions on the receipt of gifts due to one’s office, such as possibly receiving alleged lavish vacations paid for by your subordinate. These are just some of the grounds supporting a motion by Michael Roman, one of the defendants in the massive racketeering case brought by Willis. If these allegations are true, Willis is not just outside of the ethical navigational beacons. She is off the map.

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“..if other states follow Colorado’s lead, it would “unleash chaos and bedlam.”

Trump’s Lawyers Warn Of Nationwide ‘Chaos’ (RT)

Donald Trump’s lawyers have warned that the entire entire US could be plunged into chaos if the country’s Supreme Court upholds the state of Colorado’s decision to remove the republican presidential frontrunner from its ballot. Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump ineligible to run for re-election and removed him from the ballot for the presidential primary on March 5. The court cited the 14th Amendment, which bans insurrectionists from holding public office. Trump’s lawyers argued again on Thursday that the former president had not instigated the riot on January 6, 2021. The Colorado ruling, which was the first of its kind, has been left in limbo pending a decision by the US Supreme Court, with the first oral arguments in the case set for February 8.

“The court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot-disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. They added that, if other states follow Colorado’s lead, it would “unleash chaos and bedlam.” The former president’s legal team also noted that the piece of legislation invoked by the Colorado Supreme Court can only be applied to an “officer of the United States,” which Trump is not. The attorneys insisted that the Republican firebrand was not inciting insurrection when he called on his supporters to “fight like hell” on January 6, and was merely “raising concerns about the integrity of the recent federal election.”

According to Trump’s defense team, he used the phrase strictly metaphorically, not expecting his supporters to interpret it as a call for violence. They added that, as events began to unfold on Capitol Hill that day, Trump “repeatedly called for peace, patriotism, and law and order.” House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several other Republican lawmakers have also called on the US Supreme Court to void Colorado’s “insurrectionist ban.” A number of GOP secretaries of state also warned the judges that Trump’s potential removal from ballots would lead to a “foreseeable and unfortunate parade of horribles.” On January 6, the Maine secretary of state passed a tentative ballot ban similar to that in Colorado, with multiple lawsuits filed in other states as well. The final say, however, rests with the US Supreme Court.

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“..full immunity, without which it would be impossible for him/her to properly function. Any mistake, even if well intended, would be met with almost certain indictment by the opposing party at term end..”

Trump Warns Of Years Of Trauma If Presidents Don’t Have Total Immunity (Hill)

Former President Trump said there would be “years of trauma” if presidents are not awarded total immunity from prosecution for their actions in the White House — even if those actions “cross the line.” “A president of the United States must have full immunity, without which it would be impossible for him/her to properly function. Any mistake, even if well intended, would be met with almost certain indictment by the opposing party at term end,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post early Thursday morning, writing in all capital letters. “Even events that ‘cross the line’ must fall under total immunity, or it will be years of trauma trying to determine good from bad,” he added. “There must be certainty.”

Trump compared the president to a police officer, who Trump argued should not be stopped from “doing the job of strong and effective crime prevention” simply because of a “bad apple,” adding, “Sometimes you just have to live with ‘great but slightly imperfect.’” Trump’s comments come one week after his attorney, John Sauer, made a similar case before a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals for a motion from Trump’s team to toss his election interference federal charges. During the hearing, the judges appeared skeptical of the argument that presidents could only be prosecuted if they had already been impeached and convicted by the Senate.

When asked whether a president who directed SEAL Team Six to kill a political opponent would then be immune from prosecution for that action, Sauer answered with a “qualified yes,” unless the president was convicted by the Senate first. One judge on the panel noted that, under that framework, a president could take any action on his or her last day in office without fear of criminal prosecution or simply resign shortly thereafter — preventing Congress from impeaching and convicting in time.

The appeals court seems poised to reject Trump’s argument in the case, and Trump has signaled his intention to appeal an unsatisfactory ruling to the Supreme Court. Trump again hinted at his intention to appeal to the high court in his post Thursday. “All presidents must have complete & total presidential immunity, or the authority & decisiveness of a president of the United States will be stripped & gone forever,” Trump wrote. “Hopefully this will be an easy decision. God bless the Supreme Court!” he added.

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“..However, it is too little, too late. Western credibility has been shredded irrevocably..”

Gaza Will Be The Grave Of The Western-Led World Order (Takahashi)

No matter how it concludes, South Africa’s lawsuit in the International Court of Justice arguing Israel has violated the Genocide Convention will go down in history. It will either be remembered as the first step towards finally holding a rogue state accountable for repeated, longstanding violations of international law; or as the last, dying breath of a dysfunctional, Western-led international system. For the hypocrisy of Western governments (and the Western political elite as a whole) has finally brought the so-called “rules-based world order” they purport to lead to the point of no return. Full-throttled Western support for Israel’s genocidal rampage in Gaza has truly exposed the double standards of the West with regard to human rights and international law. There is no turning back, and the West has only its own arrogance to blame.

The litany of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel in Gaza are clear as the light of day for anybody who has access to a smartphone. Social media feeds are overflowing with videoclips of hospitals and schools being bombed, fathers pulling out the lifeless bodies of their children from under destroyed buildings, mothers crying over the corpses of their babies. And yet, the reaction of Western governments – besides seemingly limitless military and political support – has been to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism and attempt to ban outright any expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Regardless of this oppression, tens of thousands of people are coming out on the streets day after day expressing their disgust at Israeli atrocities and Western complicity. Desperate to regain some semblance of credibility, Western governments (including the US) have recently started to be marginally critical of Israeli attacks. However, it is too little, too late. Western credibility has been shredded irrevocably.

Of course, Western hypocrisy is nothing new. According to Western governments, the world should be up in arms about Russian aggression but should be perfectly happy with Israeli brutality and flouting of international norms. Ukrainians who throw Molotov cocktails at Russian occupation forces are heroes and freedom fighters, while Palestinians (and others) who dare to speak out against Israeli apartheid are terrorists. White-skinned refugees from Ukraine are more than welcome, while black and brown-skinned refugees from conflicts in the Middle East, Asia and Africa (most of which the West are behind) can sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean. The Western attitude has truly been: rules for thee, not for me. The Western position towards China exhibits the same insincerity. China is virtually encircled by American and allied military bases, armed to the hilt. Yet it is China that is guilty of… what? Unable to point to any concrete infraction, Western governments and media can only accuse China of “increased assertiveness”, ie, not knowing its assigned subjugate place in the Western hegemonic order.

International justice has become a sick joke. Were the International Criminal Court (ICC) functioning effectively, Israeli leaders would be on trial even as we speak, and there would have been no need for South Africa to approach the ICJ. As it stands, though, the ICC only indicted Africans until 2022, when it announced an investigation into the Russian invasion of Ukraine less than a week after its start. The ICC issued indictments, including for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, in less than a year. Conversely, it took over six years for the ICC to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine, and even now, years later, meaningful action has yet to be taken. While Israel continued its orgy of violence against the people of Gaza, Karim Khan, the British Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, visited Israel and stressed the need for Hamas’s crimes to be prosecuted, while going soft on Israeli crimes. Little wonder many civil society organisations are calling for him to be fired.

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“It represented pressure on Israel only, it did not represent pressure on any country in the world.”

Houthis Declare Safe Passage For All Russian, Chinese Ships In Red Sea (ZH)

In a remarkable development, and at a moment European retailers and factories are beginning to bear the brunt of the global shipping chaos and soaring Red Sea transit risk, the Houthis have declared safe passage for Russia and China. A senior Houthi official, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, mentioned these US rivals by name in an interview with the Russian outlet Izvestia on Friday. “As for all other countries, including Russia and China, their shipping in the region is not threatened,” he said, stipulating this will remain as long as they are not linked to Israel or its supporters. “Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safe passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation plays a significant role for our country,” he added, but then underscored that attacks on ships will continue if they are “in any way connected with Israel.”

The spokesman went on to blame the Red Sea crisis on Israel’s (and its backers) refusal to reverse course in Gaza, given its aerial and ground campaign as continued. “Ansar Allah [the group’s formal name] does not pursue the goal of capturing or sinking this or that sea vessel,” he claimed. “Our goal is to raise the economic costs for [Israel] in order to stop the carnage in Gaza.” Some of the vessels which have come under attack thus far actually have connection to dozens of countries, but ships with Russian or Chinese ownership, or deep ties, have yet to be attacked. Another Houthi official told Reuters separately that the group doesn’t seek to expand its campaign, after a fragile peace took effect with Saudi Arabia and the EUA concerning the Yemeni civil war:

Yemen’s Houthis have said they do not intend to expand their attacks on shipping in and around the Red Sea, beyond their stated aims of blockading Israel and retaliating against the US and Britain for airstrikes. In an interview with Reuters, spokesperson Mohammed Abdulsalam, who is also the chief Houthi negotiator in peace talks over Yemen’s decade-old civil war, said the group had no plans to target its longstanding foes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “We do not want the escalation to expand. This is not our demand. We imposed rules of engagement in which not a single drop of blood was shed or major material losses,” said Abdulsalam. “It represented pressure on Israel only, it did not represent pressure on any country in the world.”

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“.It was that the West would deal Russia a quick defeat, a lot of economic resources would be freed up, and relations with Moscow would be rebuilt on a different platform, more favorable to the EU..”

Russia and the US Are Set For A Long Confrontation (Sushentsov)

Relations between Russia and the United States have entered a prolonged phase that can be described as a “long confrontation.” If the interaction between Moscow and Washington were still the central process of international life, as was the case during the Cold War, this new phase might be considered temporary. But the Moscow-Washington confrontation is now one of many. More importantly, it is taking place in conditions that occur once every few centuries – a period of global redistribution of power and resource potential. This process affects our country and the US only in part. Within a few decades, the center of global production and consumption will finally shift to Asia, and the center of world economic gravity will be on the border of India and China. In this context, the long-standing Russian-American confrontation will remain one of the main fault-lines, but certainly not the only one.

Why do I think this confrontation will be protracted? Despite significant resource advantages and strong positions in key areas, the US finds itself in a situation where its pursuers are catching up fast. Washington is faced with an increasingly dense international environment that poses obstacles to previously unfettered American action. The four US strengths that underpin its offensive strategy are: first, its still-advanced military power; second, its central global financial system, which provides an international settlement infrastructure and a convertible currency; third, its strong position in a number of technological fields; and fourth, its ideology and values platform, which, together with the other three dimensions, provide what can be tentatively called a “pyramid of credibility” for American strategy in the world.

This pyramid exists in the economic and financial spheres as well as in foreign policy. Trust explains the irrational behavior of some European states. Incapable of a balanced analysis of the consequences of their decisions, for example on the Ukraine crisis, they are now forced to ask themselves, as the German magazine Der Spiegel does: “What if the United States has no permanent allies? Western Europeans trusted the logic offered by the United States, they literally ‘bought’ the proposal. It was that the West would deal Russia a quick defeat, a lot of economic resources would be freed up, and relations with Moscow would be rebuilt on a different platform, more favorable to the EU. The belief was that it would be an effective strategy.”

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“..There is no “Biden”. Just Team Biden: a corporate combo featuring low-rent messengers such as de facto neocon Little Blinkie..”

The Ukraine Charade, Revisited (Pepe Escobar)

Selected players scattered around the Beltway silos of power, diligently working as messengers for the people who really run the show in the Hegemon, have concluded that a no holds barred confrontation with Russia would lead to the collapse of all of NATO; undo decades of US iron grip on Europe; and ultimately cause the Empire’s downfall. Playing brinkmanship games sooner or later would meet the indestructible red lines inbuilt in the unmovable Russian object. US elites are smarter than that. They may excel on calculated risk. But when the stakes are this high, they know when to hedge and when to fold. The “loss” of Ukraine – now a graphic imperative – is not worth risking the loss of the whole Hegemonic ride. That would be too much for the Empire to lose.

So even as they get increasingly desperate with the accelerated imperial plunge into a geopolitical and geoeconomic abyss, they’re frantically changing the narrative – a domain in which they excel. And that explains why discombobulated European vassals in NATO-controlled EU are now in total panic. Davos this week offered bucketloads of Orwellian salad. The key, frantic messages: War is peace. Ukraine is not (italics mine) losing and Russia is not winning. Hence Ukraine needs way more weaponizing. Yet even Norwegian Wood Stoltenberg was told to toe the new line that matters: “NATO is not moving into Asia. It’s China that is coming close to us.” That certainly adds a new wacky meaning to the notion of moving tectonic plates. There is a total void of “leadership” in Washington.

There is no “Biden”. Just Team Biden: a corporate combo featuring low-rent messengers such as de facto neocon Little Blinkie. They do what they’re told by wealthy “donors” and the financial-military interests that really run the show, reciting the same old cliché-saturated lines day after day, bit players in a Theatre of the Absurd. Only one exhibit suffices. Reporter: “Are the airstrikes in Yemen working?” The President of the United States: “Well, when you say working, are they stopping the Houthis? No. Are they gonna continue? Yes.” The same in what passes for “strategic thinking” applies to Ukraine. The Hegemon is not being lured into fighting in West Asia – as much as the genocidal arrangement in Tel Aviv, in tandem with US Zio-cons, wants to drag it into a war on Iran.

Still, the imperial machine is being steered to keep the Forever Wars engine running, non-stop, at varying speeds. The elites in charge are way more clinical than the whole Team Biden. They know they will not win in what will soon be country 404. But the tactical victory, so far, is massive: enormous profits out of the frantic weaponizing; totally gutting European industry and sovereignty; reducing the EU to the sub-status of a lowly vassal; and from now on plenty of time to find new proxy warriors against Russia – from Polish and Baltic fanatics to the whole Takfiri-neo ISIS galaxy.

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“I think Russia sent a very clear message in killing these mercenaries: If you are going to send them over here, if you are going to send that materiel, we’re gonna kill you..”

Western Mercenaries Used To Fill Kiev’s Expertise Gaps – Larry Johnson (RT)

Ukraine is probably experiencing a shortage of soldiers who can handle complex Western weapons systems, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson has told RT. A Russian report this week about a strike on “French mercenaries” in Kharkov may be a warning to would-be clandestine arms technicians that Paris plans to supply, he believes. France has denied having mercenaries in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world, responding to the statement by the Defense Ministry of Russia. Moscow said some 60 foreign fighters, most of them French, died in the long-range attack. Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to supply additional air-launched SCALP cruise missiles to support Kiev’s fight.

“I strongly suspect that many of those French ‘mercenaries’ – and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brits and Americans scattered in there as well – are being brought in to help operate systems that they’ve been trained on previously in prior military careers,” Johnson said. He named the US-made long-range Patriot anti-aircraft missile and the Storm Shadow, the British counterpart to SCALP, as examples of donated arms that may require competent foreign staff to deploy. France is making itself a target by openly arming Kiev, Johnson told the broadcaster, contrasting current events with how the US acted in the past, when it sought to undermine the USSR. “When the US ran covert operations through the CIA to fund the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets, it was done with some measure of secrecy and at least keeping up a pretense that we were not directly in conflict,” he pointed out.

“I think Russia sent a very clear message in killing these mercenaries: If you are going to send them over here, if you are going to send that materiel, we’re gonna kill you,” the analyst added. Johnson believes that Moscow could have acted in a far bolder manner in targeting Ukraine’s foreign donors, and that its reluctance to do so has been taken in the West as a sign of weakness. “It’s not that, but the West has a track record of misinterpreting Russia on many points,” he commented.

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“There was a time when our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought together against fascism. Now, it turns out that French mercenaries are dying for the Nazi regime in Ukraine..”

French Mercenaries Dying For A Nazi Regime – Russia’s Top MP (RT)

The French public and lawmakers should be aware that their compatriots are fighting and dying as mercenaries in Ukraine, Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said on Friday. The senior lawmaker was commenting on an announcement by the Defense Ministry in Moscow earlier this week, which said some 60 foreign fighters, most of them French citizens, were killed by a Russian long-range strike on the city of Kharkov on Tuesday. The Russian military described them as “mercenaries,” although the French Foreign Ministry disputed this description, insisting that Paris “has no ‘mercenaries’ either in Ukraine or anywhere else.”

In a post on social media, Volodin said the lower chamber of the Russian parliament will soon consider a formal request to French lawmakers about the incident. “There was a time when our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought together against fascism. Now, it turns out that French mercenaries are dying for the Nazi regime in Ukraine,” he stressed. On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned French Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Levy in connection with the incident. Ukrainian officials have denied the veracity of the Russian military’s announcement and have claimed that Moscow’s forces only hit civilian targets in Kharkov on Tuesday.

Last summer, the Le Monde newspaper reported that French national intelligence estimated the number of its nationals fighting in Ukraine at 320. The overall pool of would-be recruits was put at 800, including 120 identified as far-right and 40 deemed ultra-left in terms of ideology. Overwhelmingly, they wanted to fight for Kiev rather than Moscow. The report followed the arrest in April of two men who had returned to Paris from Ukraine, illegally carrying assault rifle magazines and optical sights. The local press described them as far-right individuals who were previously known to the French General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI). Both were sentenced to 15 months in jail, nine of which were suspended.

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“A “free American” has ceased to exist. Such an American predates 1913..”

Americans Enslaved Themselves to the State When They Accepted Income Tax (PCR)

It was not until 1913, 137 years after the Declaration of Independence established a free people who are no longer free, that there was an income tax. Years ago I researched and wrote the story of how it happened. It exists somewhere in print. In the old analogue, library card file days, it would have been easy to find. The income tax required a Constitutional Amendment. I remember some of the story. What I remember is this: The threshold for being subject to income tax was high, and the first rate was 1%. The Georgia legislature voted to ratify the amendment because as one legislative leader concluded, “there’s no one in Georgia with an income high enough to be subject to the tax. Let the Yankees tax themselves. Why should we object.” There was no vision of the future. 1913 was also the year that the Federal Reserve, with its policy of depression, inflation, recession, and inflation, was established and unleashed on America, and it was also the year that World War I and its inflation was about to be launched by the French, Russian, and British Governments.

War and inflation quickly brought income tax home to insouciant Americans who thought they were exempt.In 1963 prior to the Kennedy tax rate reductions the top tax rate was 91% on incomes above $200,000. Kennedy left it at 70%. Reagan left it at 50%. Today it is 39.6%, or with rounding 40% The highest medieval tax rate on serfs was 30%. Anything higher and they revolted and killed the feudal lords. 50% was the highest tax rate on cotton plantation slaves. The other 50% of their work went for their food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. What is indisputable is that for more than a hundred years the tax rate on American citizens has been higher or equal to the tax rate on medieval serfs and 19th century plantation slaves. What does this mean? It means that Americans and the entirety of Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders are slaves in the same sense that blacks were slaves on southern cotton plantations.

The historical fact is that a free person is a person who owns his own labor. Just as a slave does not own his own labor, neither does any person who is subject to income tax. In the anti-South propaganda in the 19th century, such as the propagandistic “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” southern slave owners are portrayed unrealistically as demoralizing their work force and destroying their capital investments in human labor by demoralizing and alienating their slaves by separating families and whipping, beating, and raping their work force. A slave was expensive. To abuse him or her is the equivalent of abusing an expensive piece of machinery. It makes no sense for an owner to abuse his own resources. Yet southern planation owners are portrayed as people who ran torture prisons.

Neither the South nor the United States are responsible for black slaves in America. The slaves that came to the New World came from the Black Kingdom of Dahomey’s slave wars. The captured slaves were carried to the New World in ships often financed by Jews. The southern plantations were not responsible for the origin of their work force. Indeed, it was an inherited institution. For decades as April 15 approached, I pointed out that it is today’s white people who pay the income taxes who are the real victims of slavery. Even after the Reagan marginal tax rate reductions, Americans pay a higher rate of tax, that is, they are more enslaved, than medieval serfs and are almost exploited by “their government” to the same extent as 19th century black slaves. So what is “white privilege”? It is to be a slave owned by Washington, used to support privileged people of color, including millions of immigrant-invaders settled by Democrats on American slaves who pay for their upkeep?

A “free American” has ceased to exist. Such an American predates 1913. The American liberal-left doesn’t mind being enslaved to a good cause–the coercive use of American citizens to support causes that the people reject, such as the normalization of sexual perversion, the genocide of the Palestinians, the demonization of white people, the use of the “justice system” to destroy ideological and political opponents. Today the insouciant American people are enslaved for causes that are to their detriment, unlike the plantation’s agenda of growing cotton. The American people voluntarily accepted slavery, because they thought it would apply to others–the rich. But as multi-billionaire Warren Buffet has said, his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.

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“I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen.”

The Biden Laptop is Proven Authentic as Past Deniers Double Down (Turley)

After years of suppressing the story and casting doubts over its authenticity, many in the media in the last year have belatedly and reluctantly acknowledged that the Hunter Biden laptop is real. Some of us reached that conclusion years ago due to the self-authenticating emails confirmed by third parties. However, the denials and doubts have continued, including most recently by Rep. Dan Goldman (D., N.Y.) in hearings. The Justice Department has now again confirmed the authenticity and added details on why these denials are unsupported. This week, the Justice Department confirmed that the laptop was authenticated through forensic examination and a search warrant on Hunter’s Apple iCloud. Hunter’s electronic devices were backed up on the Cloud and “the results of the search were largely duplicative of information investigators had already obtained from Apple.”

That is only the latest such confirmation, but some have continued to desperately cast doubts the laptop, which Hunter himself said might be the product of Russian intelligence. Once again, the last dogs in this fruitless fight are the most partisan among us. Rep. Goldman, for example, recently lambasted witnesses who referenced the laptop and challenged the credibility of a journalist who cited the laptop. Goldman attacked Journalist Michael Shellenberger and declared “You have no idea, you know hard drives can be manipulated. Hard drives can be manipulated by Rudy Giuliani or Russia. There is actual evidence of it, but the point is it’s not the same thing.” Goldman has never revealed the “actual evidence” showing that the laptop is fake or why the Justice Department and FBI are making the same false claim in court if such evidence exists.

The same week that the Biden Administration again confirmed the authenticity of the laptop, one of the loudest laptop deniers wrote a telling column on why the public should avoid researching such questions on their own. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has repeatedly pushed false stories from Lafayette Park to Russian collusion to the laptop. Even after many in the media admitted that the laptop was authentic, Bump was still declaring that it was a “conspiracy theory.” Recently, in response to a column on these false claims, the Post remarkably declared that Bump’s original claims on Lafayette Park, the Hunter Biden laptop, and Russian collusion were true and they stand by them. This week, Bump warned citizens that they needed to continue to get their news from the media and not try to learn the truth on their own.

In a column titled “Doing your own research is a good way to end up being wrong,” Bump states without an sense of self-awareness that citizens will often “embrace dubious information supporting their belief than information that corroborates the allegations” — precisely what critics have accused Bump of doing for years on the laptop and other false stories. Bump’s column is a must read for understanding the sense of entitlement of columnists in today’s age of “advocacy journalism.” It is consistent with what Bump said in an interview last year before he walked out after being confronted about false stories. In a podcast interview with Noam Dworman, Bump became exasperated and said “I’m gonna lose my mind” when Dworman offered facts contradicting his view. Ironically, when Dworman noted that half of the country does not believe his positions, Bump shot back “I know, because half the country doesn’t actually dig into the issues.”

However, Bump does not believe that they should actually dig into the issues but accept his view. He chastised Dworman and the public “because you don’t listen to the press. I’m sitting here and I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen … you refuse to listen to what I’m saying to you. You asked me on to present evidence. I keep telling you.” Indeed, Bump and others kept telling people that the laptop was a “conspiracy theory” and possible Russian disinformation. Now, he is reminding people not to do their own research as the Post expressly declared that the prior false claims in his columns were actually true. This is why, at the start of our Republic, alternative media sprang up with pamphleteers like Thomas Paine. Citizens rejected the state-supporting media and searched for their own sources. Today citizen journalists can be found on the Internet in blogs and other sites that carry opposing views or accounts.

The media is already moving to be sure that the public is limited in what they are allowed to see or hear. After Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained to viewers that the network had decided that they should not hear Trump’s victory speech because he would only tell them “untrue things.” As noted by Bump, citizens are much safer to just accept what they are given and avoid the temptation to do their own research. Censorship is now actually proclaimed as a form of virtue signaling, assuring viewers that they will not have to hear certain opposing views or figures. There is little tolerance for those who insist on seeking out such news. After all, as the Post’s Bump explained, “I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen.”

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“.. the loving smile of the life-giver caressing humanity like a spring zephyr wafting through the piney Schwarzwald on a June morning..”

The Goddess of the WEF (Kunstler)

Tell me: is there a fairer grandmotherly face than this in all of Western Civ? Does it not seem to radiate eons of aggregate wisdom, maternal kindness, bountiful nurture, caring, and healing, and even a hint of fun in the nursury. . . the rectified essence of Teutonic beauty, fertility, vitality, and virtue. . . the loving smile of the life-giver caressing humanity like a spring zephyr wafting through the piney Schwarzwald on a June morning? That is exactly why Ursula von der Leyen was (s)elected President of the European Commission, and why she was sent out to front the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week in her keynote speech to the assembled global grandees of Davos in the dead chill of January. It’s one thing when a cadaverous goblin such as Yuval Noah Harari tells you to eat bugs, and quite another thing when Oma Ursula tells you Keine Sorge, Kinder. Alles ist gut.

Ursula did offer us children-of-the-world one wee note of caution, though, as every good “grammy” might give to the global kindergarten: watch out for misinformation and disinformation on the internet! Like the evil imps of the Germanic Märchen, these wicked forces lurk and propagate on the internet — waiting to dash all of the WEF’s benevolent plans for our utopian future. That’s why, she explained, the European Commission has drawn up the Digital Services Act — because misinfo and disinfo can fluoresce into hate speech, the most dangerous thing in the world. It must be stomped out! Ground into the dirt under a boot heel! Misinfo and disinfo about what, exactly? Ursula omitted to specify, but we can guess, can’t we? For instance, about how more and more every year the WEF seems to operate like a global racketeering operation, seeking the levers of control in all the naughtiest sovereign nations of the earth overpopulated with “useless eaters” who are remorselessly busy wrecking the climate to enjoy, say, in the case of the USA, their loathsome motor-sports, mega-churches, gun shows, hot-tubs, and Golden Corral All-You-Can-Eat buffets!

The WEF, a racket? A cabal of haughty control freaks? What a hateful thing to say, after everything kindly onkel Schwabenklaus has done for mankind! It hurts our feelings to hear this! Yet, why do scores of billionaires flock to the yearly Davos meet-up and coordinate their funding streams into countless NGOs and shadowy activist organizations aimed at manipulating the activities of governments around the world? I assure you it’s hardly for the fabulous hors d’oeuvre platters or the even more fabulous on-call hookers. (The nabobs of finance must be satisfied with the services of their personal chefs and masseuses.) Ursula says the WEF notables meet annually “because our democracies and our businesses have interests that align: creating prosperity, wealth and security for people, creating a stable environment to unlock innovation and investment, and creating equal opportunity and freedom.”

I have some disappointing news for you: grandmother Ursula is lying (alas, we live in time of epic disappointments). If the WEF wanted “stability” you would not see Alex (and papa George) Soros pouring money into every county DA election from Maine to California to make sure that looting, car-jacking, and mayhem go unpunished. . . or that men of military age from every failed state on the planet get flown across the oceans to NGO-supported waystations in Central America so that the cartels of Mexico can take over the final leg of their illegal entry into the USA. . . or ditto the boats ferrying Africans and Arabs across the Mediterranean to overwhelm the societies of Europe — including especially Grammy Ursula’s Germany.

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Ruyi bridge

 

 

Elephant

 

 

 

 

Lynx


“One of the best examples of cryptic plumage and mimicry in Australian birds is seen in the tawny frogmouth, which perch low on tree branches during the day camouflaged as part of the tree”

Meet my mum

 

 

 

 

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Oct 112018
 
 October 11, 2018  Posted by at 1:22 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Triumph of Death 1562

 

Finally financial ‘markets’ go through a substantial dip, which Steve Mnuchin claims is just temporary and Donald Trump says is caused by the fact that the Fed is ‘loco’. Mnuchin may well be right, but it won’t be because he knows something you don’t.

And Trump is certainly right, but in reality the Fed has been loco for many years, so why be surprised if it acts crazy now? The reason Mnuchin and a million other ‘experts’ may be right without realizing it is that the Fed has been crazy enough to kill the financial markets.

Or at least killed what made the markets functional, and beneficial to society. And that may well be exactly what Jay Powell is trying to repair, but he may well not be aware of that either. Looked at from a ‘benign’ angle, Powell is perhaps raising rates so people can regain insight into what they’re buying.

The pre-Powell Fed pushed up asset prices (don’t let’s say ‘values’) to such heights nobody has any insight anymore into what anything is truly worth. And in what was formerly known as the financial markets that was not important, because what were formerly known as investors were making heaps of money regardless.

Surely they must all have known that this wouldn’t continue?! That it’s just a matter of timing, of knowing when it would end? Oh, but that’s not really possible, is it, without the very price discovery process the Fed successfully strangulated?

Still, there must also be tons of people left thinking the Fed can kick that can six times to the moon and back, or sixty. If only because they’ve never bothered to think about price discovery, and what role it plays in the very ‘markets’ they volunteer to spend their money in.

And along those same lines, many acknowledge housing bubbles in Sydney and Vancouver but think the US has learned its lesson a decade ago. And the loco Fed plays its role there too: mortgage rates have been ultra-low, enticing the last left batch of greater fools not mortally wounded by the last fire to jump in this time. Wolf Richter’s Case-Shiller graph says plenty in that regard:

 

 

But of course things tend back to normalcy, and it doesn’t take all the overleveraged stock- and home buyers longing for price discovery; it takes just a few to get the engine started. And then everyone will be along for the ride. So from that angle Jay Powell looks anything but crazy raising rates, we just can’t be sure if he knows what the consequences will be.

Not that it matters all that much what he does or does not know. What was formerly the market is like a pendulum swung so far out of balance that it costs ever more effort and money to keep it from moving towards equilibrium, and that process has only one possible outcome.

For mortgage rates, it looks something like this, and to make anyone able to buy any home at all higher rates will of necessity mean lower prices. You can’t, nobody can, not the Fed or the government can, keep that pendulum away from its tendency towards equilibrium forever.

 

 

For stocks it looks much the same. So why try, you’d think?! To prevent incumbents and ruling classes from being exposed as swimming naked, that’s why. They invented a way to make the entire nation swim naked, thinking they’d never be found out because the water levels were so high.

Whether yesterday’s 831-point Dow dip is temporary or not is of little interest. Much more important is that the entire asset prices situation is temporary. It doesn’t matter if the Fed pumps $1, $10, or $100 trillion into what once were markets, in the end it all comes down to how many people can pay how much money for the assets.

And since there is never an unending supply of greater fools, we know where this is going. The easy money and low rates and asset purchases at central banks and stock buybacks by companies can and will result only in more profits and more wealth for a few, and sheer endlessly less for the many.

Inequality in the US has now reached such extremities that the country’s AAA rating threatens to be taken away –as Moody’s indicated-; the government has so many people it must support financially (or let perish) that its financial position comes under pressure. Which is, again, negative for the many, for the few; they don’t care about that rating.

Yes, too many people are on some form of welfare in America. And Washington would love to throw many of them off of it. The many have no representation on Capitol Hill anymore. Just about any senator and congress(wo)man is a millionaire or certainly well-off.

 

How can the country get its rating back, or at least not lose it due to its increasing inequality? There seem to be two ways: let the 80 million now on welfare die by the side of the road, or provide them with jobs that allow them a fruitful life. That may sound like socialism or something, but it’s really the exact opposite.

It’s not the government’s role to give people jobs, but it is its role to make sure conditions are in place for the private sector to provide them. Trump’s ‘trade wars’ look crazy to many, but the intent is to get jobs back to the US. But there is much more.

America was once prosperous. What changed?

Here’s one thing: In what was -arguably?- America’s wealthiest time as a nation, the post-World War II period, income taxes for the richest were as high as 90% (1952: 92%); they were slowly brought down towards 70%. Only when Ronald Reagan took over in 1980 did they really fall (1982: 50%). This was ‘justified’ by lowering the highest income bracket (1982: $85,600, it had been between $200,000 and $400,000 for years).

In 1988, the top rate plunged to 28%, and the highest bracket to $29,750. Today, the top rate is 39.6% and the high bracket $400,000. In a graph, the consequences look like this:

 

 

The corporate tax rate, meanwhile, pulled this one, and don’t get started on tax havens etc.:

 

 

And that situation has led to a huge financial crisis, to the Fed going crazy and handing out trillions to the exact wrong part of society, those who already have a lot of money, and the result has been an absolute disaster, at least for the country; not so much for its elites.

But as even Moody’s now recognizes, you can’t run an AAA-rated country on elites alone. Despite the crazy Fed trillions, the US has achieved negative growth (imagine where it would be without):

 

 

Something must be done. Problem is, with only those millionaires in charge in the House and Senate, the likelihood of boosting income tax levels up to where they were when America was most prosperous is extremely low. And Trump’s tariffs are not on their own going to bring back the jobs; they can’t rebuild the lost infrastructure, for one thing.

Something must be done, and it’s entirely unclear what, or rather, who’s going to do it. The Democrats have nothing, or nothing but frustrated millionaires and Bernie Sanders. The GOP has only Trump. None of these people are going to vote to double their income taxes.

Much of what needs to be done will be classified as socialism, ridiculed and thrown out the window, even if the country was anything but socialist under Eisenhower and Kennedy, during its -at least economic- Golden Age.

It’s a nice puzzle, isn’t it? Well, maybe not so nice after all.

 

 

Apr 122015
 
 April 12, 2015  Posted by at 9:14 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Byron Street haberdashery, New York 1900

Top 20% of US Earners Pay 84% of Income Tax (WSJ)
Stocks Surge: Nikkei Tops 20,000, Europe Hits 15-Year High (Reuters)
Eurozone Officials Shocked By Greece’s Stance, Says German Newspaper (Reuters)
Yanis Varoufakis and Joseph Stiglitz (INET)
ECB Sees Risks In Greece’s Planned Home Foreclosure Law (Reuters)
Druckenmiller: This Could End ‘Very Badly’ (CNBC)
GE Plan Opens Escape Path From Fed Too-Big-To-Fail Label (Bloomberg)
New Zealand Rock Star Economy Takes Centre Stage As Currency Climbs (Guardian)
Italy Rescues 978 Migrants Attempting to Cross the Mediterranean (Bloomberg)
China-Led Infrastructure Bank to Welcome U.S. ‘Anytime’ (Bloomberg)
Anonymous Declares Cyber War On ISIS Twitter Users (RT)
China Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet (NY Times)
The Universe May Not Be Expanding As Fast As We Thought (NatMon)

And get 99% of income?!

Top 20% of US Earners Pay 84% of Income Tax (WSJ)

Who pays what in income taxes? With April 15 just around the corner, filers may be curious about where they fit into the system as a whole. The individual income tax remains the most important levy in the U.S., providing nearly half of federal revenue. This is unusual: On average, developed nations get only one-third of their revenue from income taxes. Typically they also impose national consumption taxes, such as a value-added tax, that raise as much revenue as their income tax. The pressure on the U.S. income tax has prompted lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to seriously consider a national consumption tax. But liberals worry that such a levy could unduly burden the poor, while conservatives fear it would be too easy to dial up the rate and collect more revenue.

As a result, experts say, there is little chance of tax overhaul this year. The data come from estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a Washington-based research group, as Internal Revenue Service data for 2014 won’t be available for at least two years. Unlike IRS data, it includes information about nonfilers—both people who didn’t need to file and people who should have filed but didn’t. The total also includes Americans living overseas and others, which is why it is greater than the U.S. Census estimate of 319 million. Another important difference: The income cited in the tables includes untaxed amounts for employer-provided health coverage, tax-exempt interest and retirement-plan contributions and growth, among other things. This can be significant.

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When this bubble bursts, an awful lot of ‘money’ will be lost.

Stocks Surge: Nikkei Tops 20,000, Europe Hits 15-Year High (Reuters)

World equity markets tested record highs on Friday on hopes of more stimulus from top central banks, while the dollar strengthened on favorable government debt yields compared to those of most other developed countries. Wall Street scored solid gains after U.S. conglomerate General Electric said it plans to sell assets and buy back up to $50 billion of its stock. This propelled GE shares to their highest since September 2008, ending up 10.8% at $28.51 in heavy volume. Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei index rose above 20,000 points for the first time in 15 years while top European shares advanced to their highest since 2000. Oil prices rose on lowered expectations of an Iran nuclear deal that would allow more Iranian oil into the market. Gold rose on the day but snapped a three-week winning streak on a stronger dollar.

“We are in a honeymoon period for risk assets, and will be for another quarter,” said Sandra Crowl, an investment committee member at Paris-based asset managers Carmignac Gestion. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 98.92 points, or 0.55%, to 18,057.65, the S&P 500 ended up 10.88 points, or 0.52%, to 2,102.06 and the Nasdaq Composite finished 21.41 points, or 0.43%, higher at 4,995.98. Tokyo’s Nikkei closed down 0.2% after breaching the 20,000-point mark. Buoyed by gains in Asia and the renewed drop in the euro, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 share index reached a 15-year high of over 1,640 as its ninth week of rises in the last 10 took it to its highest since 2000. Germany’s DAX also scored a record high. The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, rose 0.4% to 435.72, a shade below its record high.

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“..in particular its reluctance to talk about cutting civil servants’ pensions.” Ergo, Syriza can’t allow for Greece to remain in the eurozone.

Eurozone Officials Shocked By Greece’s Stance, Says German Newspaper (Reuters)

Eurozone officials were shocked at Greece’s failure to outline plans for structural reforms at last week’s talks in Brussels, a German newspaper on Saturday cited participants as saying, adding the Greek representative behaved like a “taxi driver”. A meeting of deputy finance ministers on Thursday gave Athens a six working day deadline to present revised economic reform plans before eurozone finance ministers meet on April 24 to consider unlocking emergency funding to keep Greece afloat. Eurozone sources told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that they were disappointed and shocked at Athens’ lack of movement in its plans, and in particular its reluctance to talk about cutting civil servants’ pensions.

The mood between Greece’s leftist government and its eurozone partners, especially Germany, has deteriorated in the last few weeks, with personal recriminations flying between ministers and calls from Athens for Berlin to pay war reparations. The paper said at last week’s meeting the Greek representative just asked where the money was “like a taxi driver”, according to sources, and insisted his country would soon be bankrupt. The eurozone sources told the paper that Greece’s creditors do not believe this is the case and that it would be a domestic political issue if Athens is unable to fully pay salaries and pensions. The paper also said that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has taken a tough line towards Greece in bailout talks, would have to get the Bundestag lower house of parliament to vote on any fundamental changes to the reform programme.

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Very impressive.

Yanis Varoufakis and Joseph Stiglitz (INET)

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“About 28.1% of home loans extended by Greek banks, which were worth a combined €69 billion, were non-performing or unpaid for more than 90 days, as of September 2014..”

ECB Sees Risks In Greece’s Planned Home Foreclosure Law (Reuters)

Greece’s draft law to protect primary residences from foreclosures goes beyond protecting low-income debtors and could encourage strategic defaults, the ECB said in a legal opinion on Saturday in a potential setback to the plan. Greece’s Economy Ministry had asked for the ECB’s views on the draft legislation, which seeks to protect indebted citizens from losing their primary homes – and fulfills a pledge by the governing SYRIZA party to deal with a humanitarian crisis brought on by the country’s debt crisis. The draft law offers protection to primary homes valued up to €300,000 and requires that borrowers do not have an annual income of more than €50,000 to be eligible. It also sets an upper limit of €500,000 for borrowers’ total wealth, of which bank deposits and other liquid assets cannot exceed €30,000.

The conditions are more generous than under Greece’s previous foreclosure law, which expired last year. It provided protection for homes valued at 200,000 euros or less and required that borrowers had an annual income of 35,000 euros maximum and total wealth of 270,000 euros or less. “The very broad scope of eligible debtors, which goes beyond the protection of vulnerable and low-income debtors, may create moral hazard and could lead to strategic defaults, undermining the payment culture and future credit growth,” the ECB said. “The draft law sets out significantly broader eligibility criteria in terms of the value of the protected property, the annual household income, the value of immovable and movable assets and the amount of deposits,” the ECB said, comparing it to the previous law.

It said that broad-based prohibitions on primary home auctions was not a sustainable solution to tackle the high level of non-performing loans at Greek banks. “It is likely that the prohibitions in the draft law will incentivize debtors who are not in real need of protection to stop meeting their obligations or reduce them significantly, even if they have the means to meet them in full.” The ECB supervises Greek and other eurozone banks. Greek banks’ bad loans rose to 34.2% of their loan portfolios by the end of the third quarter of last year, from 31.9% in December 2013, according to Greek central bank data.

About 28.1% of home loans extended by Greek banks, which were worth a combined €69 billion, were non-performing or unpaid for more than 90 days, as of September 2014, according to latest Bank of Greece data. That was up from 26.1% in 2013. Home loans accounted for a third of banks’ total loans as of last September.

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“..we’ve had money building up four to six years in terms of a risk pattern, I think it could end very badly.”

Druckenmiller: This Could End ‘Very Badly’ (CNBC)

Billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller has once again warned that the easy money policies of recent years could end poorly. “I know it’s so tempting to go ahead and make investments and it looks good for today,” the retired founder of Duquense Capital Management said, “but when this thing ends, because we’ve had speculation, we’ve had money building up four to six years in terms of a risk pattern, I think it could end very badly.” The investor’s comments were made at an event in Palm Beach, Florida on Jan. 18, but the transcript was just circulated on Friday. Druckenmiller cited warning signs like the high number of initial public offerings of companies that are unprofitable, and high levels of debt issued to companies, often with poor credit ratings and without many lending restrictions—so called covenants.

Druckenmiller also said that comparing modern day economic policy to that of the Great Depression-era was totally inaccurate. He implied that the U.S. Federal Reserve would not cause to another recession by tightening the flow of money into the system. Druckenmiller showed slides at the event displaying how net worth per household hadn’t returned to pre-1929 levels in 1937, before rates began rising. He compared that to how wealth has risen today far beyond pre-crash levels in 2007. “We’re not even close to the kind of numbers we had in 1937,” he said.

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Fooling the system.

GE Plan Opens Escape Path From Fed Too-Big-To-Fail Label (Bloomberg)

General Electric’s plan to exit most lending operations could make its finance arm the first entity to escape the grip of the Federal Reserve’s too-big-to-fail oversight, a move that would free the company from strict capital requirements and reduce government monitoring. As part of a broad restructuring announced Friday, GE General Counsel Brackett Denniston said the finance unit will apply to lose its systemically important label sometime next year. GE has already discussed its overhaul, which includes the sale of $26 billion of real estate, with U.S. regulators who will decide whether the company can go free. “We think we’ve come a long way and you can argue we’re not systemic right now,” Denniston said an in interview.

“When the plan is further advanced, when we think the argument is even stronger and more compelling, that’s the right way to do it.” GE Capital is one of four non-banks hit with the tighter scrutiny, which applies to firms that regulators believe could threaten the U.S. economy if they failed. Companies have sought to avoid the capital, liquidity and leverage constraints that can come with being selected, with insurer Metlife Inc. suing the U.S. government to try to escape. Instead of fighting, Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE is slimming down. The company’s shares rose $2.48 to $28.21, or 9.6%, at 2:41 p.m. in New York trading. It was the biggest daily increase since March 2009, according to Bloomberg data.

Decisions on which companies are systemically important are made by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group of regulators set up under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew leads. A designation subjects a company to supervision by the Fed, allowing the central bank to scrutinize it the same way it does large banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan. To get out, GE Capital will have to convince the FSOC that its collapse wouldn’t hurt the broader financial system. Once the restructuring is complete, GE’s ending net investment in GE Capital – a balance-sheet gauge that excludes non-interest bearing liabilities and cash – will fall to $90 billion from $363 billion, the company said. Just $40 billion of that will be in the U.S., making it “inconceivable” that the company could be considered systemic, Denniston said.

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NZ exports fell 27% in 2014. What more does anyone need to know?

New Zealand Rock Star Economy Takes Centre Stage As Currency Climbs (Guardian)

Australians are going to have to get used to New Zealanders going on about how much better their economy is. Paul Bloxham, the HSBC economist who first called New Zealand a rock star economy, says the New Zealand dollar is going to be strong for some time because the NZ economy is strong. The New Zealand dollar was at 98.27 Australian cents on Friday, up from 98.18 cents on Thursday and it is expected to reach parity. The last time the New Zealand dollar passed the Aussie dollar was on 18 October 1973 and it only managed it for a few hours, Bloxham said on TVNZ’s Q+A program on Sunday. The New Zealand economy is outperforming every other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economy. “That’s why we’ve been describing New Zealand as a rock star,” Bloxham said.

It was the fastest growing of the 34 OECD economies in the past year. “And, we think that situation’s going to continue this year as well,” Bloxham said. The Australian economy, in contrast, is at the end of a mining boom. Mining investment is falling and the rest of the economy is “so-so”. “So it makes sense that the New Zealand dollar is strong relative to the Aussie dollar, and we expect the situation to persist for some time,” Bloxham said. In New Zealand, there was an upturn in construction from the Canterbury rebuild and the housing market was booming in Auckland. Bloxham acknowledged dairy prices had fallen sharply but said dairy production was still rising and the domestic economy was doing very well.

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So what does Brussels say? Nothing.

Italy Rescues 978 Migrants Attempting to Cross the Mediterranean (Bloomberg)

The Italian navy and coast guard engaged in three different rescue operations Friday in order to bring to safety 978 migrants attempting to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, according to a coast guard Twitter post. The migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast following distress calls made from the boats via satellite phone, daily Corriere della Sera reported in its online edition. The government is continuing its “taxi service” to help the criminals that ferry these people over the sea, leader of the opposition Northern League party Matteo Salvini posted on social media following the rescues.

Migration to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea has increased as people flee wars and conflict in countries like Libya, Syria and Somalia. Last year, 218,000 irregular migrants tried to reach Europe, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The same year, Italy saved 100,250 people through its rescue operation Mare Nostrum at a cost of 114 million euros ($120 million), according to the Italian Interior Ministry. That operation was discontinued in November due to its high cost and criticism from politicians like Salvini that it was helping criminals exploit migrants. Operation Triton, a more limited effort coordinated by European Union border police agency Frontex, has replaced it.

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Ha! Let’s see what Hillary thinks.

China-Led Infrastructure Bank to Welcome U.S. ‘Anytime’ (Bloomberg)

China is keeping the door open for the U.S. to join its new development bank “anytime,” the lender’s chief said, after the Obama administration failed to persuade most allies to snub the lender. The U.S. is “welcome to the kitchen to work with us,’ Jin Liqun, secretary general of the secretariat for establishing the bank, told reporters in Singapore on Saturday. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s founding membership will probably be ‘‘short of 60,” he said. “China itself has benefited enormously from contributions by the World Bank” and Asian Development Bank, Jin said at a forum in Singapore. “Now it’s time for China to contribute more to this region, and hopefully China’s contributions will spill over to other regions.”

The U.S. suffered a diplomatic setback as allies including Australia, the U.K, and Germany opted to become founding members of the China-led bank. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said this week he doesn’t view the development lender as heralding an end to the global economic order forged by the U.S. The AIIB will be owned by all members, not solely China, and will have a mandate to promote broad-based socio-economic development, Jin said. As it will focus exclusively on infrastructure funding, while the World Bank and Asian Development Bank address poverty reduction, there is more complementary territory than “head-on competition,” he said.

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Enemies and friends?!

Anonymous Declares Cyber War On ISIS Twitter Users (RT)

Hacktivists from the Anonymous group have attacked hundreds of pro-Islamic State websites and thousands of social networks’ accounts used by the terrorist group. ISIS has hit back though, threatening another 9/11 terror act against the US. A faction of the Anonymous group, called GhostSec, is carrying out a cyber campaign called #OpISIS against the Islamic State (IS). They are looking to target members and supporters of the terrorist organization, who want to spread propaganda over the internet. Anonymous are monitoring social media accounts as well as websites operated by the group formerly known as ISIS/ISIL to disrupt their online operations as they try to “cure the ISIS virus.”

The GhostSec division of Anonymous has been keeping itself busy. They have been compiling a list (f websites “frequently used by the Islamic State through Twitter and other social media platforms for transmission of propaganda, religion, recruitment, communications and intelligence gathering purposes,” the group said in a statement. On Wednesday, the Anonymous group reported of “casualties” among the enemy ranks, which included 233 websites, which had been attacked, 85 websites that had been “destroyed” and 25,000 “terminated” Twitter accounts. Not everyone is happy with the actions undertaken by Anonymous. Security services have criticised the group for taking matters into their own hands. These intelligence bodies say the elimination of jihadist websites and social media accounts prevents them from gathering valuable information concerning their activities.

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“..a “man in the middle attack.”

China Said to Use Powerful New Weapon to Censor Internet (NY Times)

Late last month, China began flooding American websites with a barrage of Internet traffic in an apparent effort to take out services that allow China’s Internet users to view websites otherwise blocked in the country. Initial security reports suggested that China had crippled the services by exploiting its own Internet filter — known as the Great Firewall — to redirect overwhelming amounts of traffic to its targets. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Toronto say China did not use the Great Firewall after all, but rather a powerful new weapon that they are calling the Great Cannon. The Great Cannon, the researchers said in a report published on Friday, allows China to intercept foreign web traffic as it flows to Chinese websites, inject malicious code and repurpose the traffic as Beijing sees fit.

The system was used, they said, to intercept web and advertising traffic intended for Baidu — China’s biggest search engine company — and fire it at GitHub, a popular site for programmers, and GreatFire.org, a nonprofit that runs mirror images of sites that are blocked inside China. The attacks against the services continued on Thursday, the researchers said, even though both sites appeared to be operating normally. But the researchers suggested that the system could have more powerful capabilities. With a few tweaks, the Great Cannon could be used to spy on anyone who happens to fetch content hosted on a Chinese computer, even by visiting a non-Chinese website that contains Chinese advertising content.

“The operational deployment of the Great Cannon represents a significant escalation in state-level information control,” the researchers said in their report. It is, they said, “the normalization of widespread and public use of an attack tool to enforce censorship.” The researchers, who have previously done extensive research into government surveillance tools, found that while the infrastructure and code for the attacks bear similarities to the Great Firewall, the attacks came from a separate device. The device has the ability not only to snoop on Internet traffic but also to alter the traffic and direct it — on a giant scale — to any website, in what is called a “man in the middle attack.”

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Guesstimating dark matter.

The Universe May Not Be Expanding As Fast As We Thought (NatMon)

Two papers recently published in the Astrophysical Journal suggest that the universe may not be expanding at the rate that textbooks claim that it is. That conclusion would also imply that the amount of dark energy in the universe is less than current estimates claim it is. The team reached this conclusion by studying Ia supernovae, which are thought to be uniform enough to be used as beacons to measure distances in the cosmos. The team found that the supernovae were not, in fact, uniform but fell into different populations. “ The findings are analogous to sampling a selection of 100-watt light bulbs at the hardware store and discovering that they vary in brightness,” according to a statement. If their findings are correct, it means that a great deal of the math which astronomers use to measure the universe needs to be re-done.

Among other things it would mean that many of the measured distances to objects, the rate at which the universe is expanding and the amount of dark energy involved are currently wrong. “We found that the differences are not random, but lead to separating Ia supernovae into two groups, where the group that is in the minority near us are in the majority at large distances — and thus when the universe was younger. There are different populations out there, and they have not been recognized. The big assumption has been that as you go from near to far, type Ia supernovae are the same. That doesn’t appear to be the case,” said Milne, an associate astronomer with the UA’s Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory.

The current view of the universe is that it is continuing to expand at an ever increasing rate, pulled apart by dark energy. This view resulted in the Nobel Prize for Physics for Brian Schmidt, Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess in 2011. The three researchers independently arrived at the conclusion that many supernovae appeared to be fainter than predicted because they had moved farther away than they should have given the accepted rate of universal expansion. “The idea behind this reasoning. is that type Ia supernovae happen to be the same brightness – they all end up pretty similar when they explode. Once people knew why, they started using them as mileposts for the far side of the universe. The faraway supernovae should be like the ones nearby because they look like them, but because they’re fainter than expected, it led people to conclude they’re farther away than expected, and this in turn has led to the conclusion that the universe is expanding faster than it did in the past,” explained Milne.

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