Jan 072023
 
 January 7, 2023  Posted by at 9:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  89 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Interieur au Pot de Fleurs 1953

 

Ukraine On ‘NATO Mission’ – Defense Minister (RT)
Ukrainian Political Scientist: Putin Needs Truce To Prepare New Offensive (Az.)
US To Send Ukraine Dozens Of Bradleys In $2.85b Aid Package (RT)
US To Arm Kiev With Sea Sparrows – Politico (RT)
WWIII HAS BEGUN: Medvedev Wants Hypersonic Missiles Near Washington (Celente)
McCarthy Elected House Speaker After Last-minute Call From Trump To Gaetz (PM)
Senators Make New Demand Regarding FBI, Hunter Biden, Obama White House (CB)
2 Yrs After Jan. 6: 1,000 Arrests; Zero ‘Insurrection’ Charges (Attkisson)
Jan. 6 Comm. Releases Social Security Numbers Of Trump Officials, Allies (Fox)
Adam Schiff’s Assault on the First Amendment (BB)
Ted Cruz Slams Joe Biden for Turning Pharmacies Into Abortion Centers (LN)
Biden Spokeswoman Blames Trump Ahead Of Border Visit (Fox)
Repentance (Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

VSRF

 

 

 

 

‘Unavoidably Unsafe’
https://twitter.com/i/status/1610373150767824901

 

 

Disturbing trend

 

 

 

 

 

 

What? Has NATO denounced this? Since when can NATO not do its own business?

Ukraine On ‘NATO Mission’ – Defense Minister (RT)

Kiev is shedding blood to carry out the mission NATO set for itself and expects the “civilized West” to provide weapons and ammunition in return, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov has said in an interview for a domestic TV channel. Appearing on the 1+1 network’s TSN channel on Thursday evening, Reznikov pointed out that at the Madrid summit last summer, NATO declared Russia the greatest threat to the US-led bloc. “Today, Ukraine is addressing that threat. We’re carrying out NATO’s mission today, without shedding their blood. We shed our blood, so we expect them to provide weapons,” he said.

Reznikov also claimed that his NATO colleagues have told him, both in conversations and via text messages, that Ukraine is the “shield of civilization” and “defending the entire civilized world, the entire West.” Ukrainian officials, from President Vladimir Zelensky on down, routinely make public appeals for tanks, missiles, artillery and ammunition. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told the General Staff in December that Moscow was de facto fighting the collective West. By his estimates, the government in Kiev has received almost $100 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and other supplies in 2022 alone. Reznikov has led that effort, boasting to the US outlet Politico in October that he had figured out the Pentagon’s political process. His goal, he said, was to keep raising the bar until Ukraine received main battle tanks.

While that particular threshold has yet to be crossed, on Friday Washington announced the delivery of 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, the most modern armor sent to Kiev so far, as part of a $3 billion weapons package. Earlier this week, France pledged a number of wheeled ‘light tanks’ as well. These shipments are intended to replace Ukraine’s battlefield losses. Last month, Kiev’s top general Valery Zaluzhny told The Economist he would need 300 more tanks, up to 700 infantry fighting vehicles, and 500 howitzers to conduct offensive operations. This is more than the number of such vehicles in British or German inventory. Moscow insists that Western weapon deliveries only serve to prolong the conflict, and has repeatedly warned Ukraine’s backers that this could result in an all-out military confrontation between Russia and NATO.

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Yeah, Putin needs just 36 hours for that.

Ukrainian Political Scientist: Putin Needs Truce To Prepare New Offensive (Az.)

On January 5, Vladimir Putin instructed the Russian Defense Ministry to introduce a ceasefire along the entire line of contact from 12:00 on January 6 to 24:00 on January 7. Kyiv rejected this proposal, calling it a cover and declaring Russia’s intention to bring equipment, ammunition and military personnel closer to the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Ukrainian political scientist believes that Vladimir Putin needs this truce in order to prepare a new offensive in Ukraine by February-March. “Russia is now short of shells, and for them this truce was necessary,” Reichel said. According to him, Russia now has only one option for a mediator in the person of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because Western leaders will not talk with Putin: “Negotiations with China made it clear that the country wants to distance itself from the conflict without providing special support either to Russia or to Ukraine.


India is not up to the war in Ukraine now, it already has so many internal and external problems with Pakistan and China. Therefore, Erdogan is now the only person with whom Moscow can talk and whom Kyiv can listen to. Using his mediating experience Turkiye has offered Russia the idea of a truce, thereby taking a step towards future negotiations, in which Putin is very interested,” he added. According to the expert, it was immediately obvious that Kyiv would not agree to a truce. “This truce is nothing but a political cover, Ukraine does not need it,” he said. Yuri Reichel explains this by the fact that any truce is beneficial for Russia, which is now trying to accumulate certain reserves in the Donbas, Zaporizhzhia in order to prevent a possible Ukrainian offensive, which, according to Western and Ukrainian experts, is being prepared in February-March.

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Do US taxpayers now pay twice for these obsolete machines?

US To Send Ukraine Dozens Of Bradleys In $2.85b Aid Package (RT)

The U.S. will send Ukraine nearly $3 billion in military aid, in a massive new package that will for the first time include several dozen Bradley fighting vehicles, U.S. officials said Thursday, in the Biden administration’s latest step to send increasingly lethal and powerful weapons to help Ukraine beat back Russian forces, according to AP. European allies also stepped up their weapons commitments. Germany announced it will provide armored personnel carriers and a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine, and France said it will soon hold talks to arrange for the delivery of armored combat vehicles.


All of the announcements, however, fall short of sending heavier battle tanks, which are more complex to use and have a longer-range gun. The Bradley, an armored carrier used to transport troops to combat, is not a tank but is known as a “tank-killer” because of the anti-tank missile it can fire. The latest U.S. aid — totaling about $2.85 billion and about 50 Bradleys — is the largest in a series of packages of military equipment that the Pentagon has pulled from its stockpiles to send to Ukraine. It is aimed at getting as much to the Ukrainian forces as possible during the winter months, before spring sets in and an expected increase in fighting begins.

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“..fitting US-made munitions onto Soviet-made launchers suggests heavy US involvement in such an upgrade..”

US To Arm Kiev With Sea Sparrows – Politico (RT)

The US may supply Ukraine with RIM-7 Sea Sparrow short-range anti-aircraft missiles, Politico reported on Thursday, citing unnamed officials. The missiles are expected to be fitted onto Soviet-made Buk launchers in an attempt to mitigate a shortage of munitions for the systems remaining in Kiev’s inventory. The missiles, developed in the early 1960s, are expected to be included in a new upcoming military aid package to prop up Ukraine in the ongoing conflict with Russia. “The package will for the first time include radar-guided Sea Sparrow anti-air missiles, which can be launched from the sea or on land to intercept aircraft or cruise missiles. In a bit of battlefield innovation, the Ukrainian military has managed to tweak its existing Soviet-era Buk launchers to fire the Sea Sparrow,” the outlet wrote, citing “two people familiar with the matter.”

Politico did not explain how Kiev came up with this “battlefield innovation,” but given that Ukraine has never been in possession of RIM-7 missiles, fitting US-made munitions onto Soviet-made launchers suggests heavy US involvement in such an upgrade. The missiles in question had previously been successfully fitted onto the Kub anti-aircraft launchers, the predecessor of the Buk system, in a collaboration between Raytheon and the Polish defense manufacturer WZU Sa. The upgrade to Soviet-made launchers was first unveiled in the early 2010s.

The inclusion of unspecified “surface-to-air” missiles into the new massive $3 billion aid package for Ukraine was confirmed by White House officials during a news briefing on Friday. In recent months, Western backers of Kiev have intensified their efforts to bolster Kiev’s anti-aircraft defenses, struggling to deal with a ramped-up bombing campaign against critical Ukrainian infrastructure launched by Moscow in the aftermath of the Crimean Bridge blast. Recent deliveries to Ukraine have included US-made short-range NASAMS systems, German IRIS-T air defense systems, while at least one battery of the US Patriot system, the backbone of NATO’s anti-aircraft defense, is expected to be transferred to Kiev in the near future.

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Seems a bit overdone.

WWIII HAS BEGUN: Medvedev Wants Hypersonic Missiles Near Washington (Celente)

Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s national security council, on Thursday called for Moscow’s hypersonic Zircon missiles to be placed about 100 miles off of the coast of the U.S. in retaliation for Washington’s support of Ukraine. He called for these missiles to be in close striking distance to Washington, D.C. and called them a New Year gift. Business Insider reported that the Kremlin announced Wednesday that it will sail the Admiral Gorshkov warship armed with the Zircons “on a long-range voyage that would pass through the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean Sea.” The ship is one of Russia’s most advanced warships. In 2019, the ship docked at a Havana, Cuba, the port.


The AP reported at the time: All of the Russian naval missions to Cuba have been seen as a projection of military power close to U.S. shores, although neither Cuba nor Russian have described them as anything other than routine. His threat came after a U.S. embassy video emerged that supported Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported. We reported in May that Moscow said it successfully fired its Zircon from a warship in the Barents Sea that traveled 625 miles and hit its target in the White Sea. The missile can reportedly travel nine times the speed of sound. In April, Russia also successfully test fired its new Sarmat superheavy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile that can reportedly deploy 10 or more nuclear warheads on each missile.

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Theater.

McCarthy Elected House Speaker After Last-minute Call From Trump To Gaetz (PM)

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy won a late night vote to become Speaker of the House on Friday night after Donald Trump called Matt Gaetz, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to The Post Millennial. Gaetz was leading the charge to oppose McCarthy along with Rep Lauren Boebert, and had opposed McCarthy in nearly every vote since Monday. This after McCarthy made major concessions to the 20 GOP holdouts who spent the week vocally opposing his leadership. Those concessions, however, were not as key as the head of the MAGA movement insisting its members stop rejecting the victory of a GOP-led House.


The final vote saw the hold-outs Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, Crane, Good and Rosenthal not stand in the way of McCarthy’s leadership This after a vote earlier on Friday saw the flip of 14 in the GOP who had been consistently voting against his speakership. Florida’s freshman Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna posted some of the concessions made by McCarthy. She had offered her vote for McCarthy on Friday, making a note in the House of the successful negotiations between the Trump-backed speaker hopeful from California and the MAGA contingent.

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What investigations will we see?

Senators Make New Demand Regarding FBI, Hunter Biden, Obama White House (CB)

Two GOP senators who have been investigating alleged Biden family corruption for years have stepped up their efforts. After Facebook and Twitter suppressed, to an extent, explosive revelations about Hunter Biden’s laptop in October 2020, Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin want more answers. Grassley and Johnson have sent a letter to Zuckerberg noting that in October 2020, “when the New York Post published articles based on evidence from Hunter Biden’s laptop, many news and social media organizations inappropriately rushed to censor and discredit the initial reporting and falsely labeled it as ‘disinformation.’” Mainstream media outlets have finally admitted that the information gleaned from the laptop was not Russian disinformation but was in fact real.

“You recently appeared to indicate that the reason why Facebook made the unwise decision to censor articles about Hunter Biden’s laptop was based on an alert from the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the senators wrote. Whistleblowers have also alleged to Senator Johnson that local FBI leadership instructed its employees not to look at the Hunter Biden laptop immediately after the FBI had obtained it,” the senators noted further, going on to say that Americans “deserve to know whether the FBI used Facebook as part of their alleged plan to discredit information about Hunter Biden.” “Congress and the American people require clarity with respect to the extent the FBI communicated with Facebook during the 2020 election about Hunter Biden-related information,” they added.

Expected incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan believes there’s been a seismic shift regarding the ongoing federal investigation of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The Ohio Republican suggested “something is up” with the probe because of a new interest in the story by many of the same media outlets that initially dismissed reports of corruption evidence stemming from materials and emails obtained from a laptop he reportedly abandoned at a computer repair store in Delaware in 2019. “It sure looks like Joe Biden was involved,” Jordan added. “So, my, how this story has changed. And now, we find out these text messages and emails that link the entire family, not just Hunter and Joe and — but also uncle, the — Joe’s brother, James Biden, is involved in this as well.”

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“..there was no evidence proving that Byrd did not fear that Babbitt could kill him..”

2 Yrs After Jan. 6: 1,000 Arrests; Zero ‘Insurrection’ Charges (Attkisson)

Two years after the January 6 pro-Trump rally and Capitol riots, the Dept. of Justice has charged nearly 1,000 people with crimes. However, nobody has been formally accused of “sedition,” “treason,” or “insurrection,” according to officials. Sedition is defined as: Conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch. Insurrection is defined as: A violent uprising against a government or authority. Treason is defined as: Betrayal of one’s own country by attempting to overthrow the government through waging war against the state or materially aiding its enemies. The closest related charge made is “seditious conspiracy,” which is planning or plotting with at least one other person to incite rebellion against the authority; not necessarily, personally, committing an act of sedition.

Several suspects pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy. At least one of them, a member of the “Oath Keepers” group, was not present at the US Capitol on January 6. To date, it is inaccurate and arguably libelous to refer to January 6 defendants as “insurrectionists.” Most of the defendants, approximately 860, are charged with entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or grounds. Typically, when Congress is conducting business on the House or Senate floor, the public has a right to enter the US Capitol and watch the proceedings. However, members of the public were blocked from attending on January 6, and there would not have been space for the many thousands to observe in the normal gallery seats. So far, the Dept. of Justice reports, about 192 people have been sentenced to jail or prison.

Officials say 52 people have pleaded guilty to federal charges of assaulting law enforcement officers. The only person shot at the US Capitol on January 6 was an unarmed protester named Ashli Babbitt. The US Capitol Police officer who killed her, Lt. Michael Byrd, was not charged with a crime. Officials kept his identity secret for weeks while they investigated the shooting. Prosecutors eventually found there was no evidence proving that Byrd did not fear that Babbitt could kill him. A shooting by an officer in fear of his life is typically considered to be justified. In an interview, Byrd claimed he’d “saved countless lives” by killing Babbitt, even though Babbitt was unarmed, and there was no evidence she attacked or intended to attack anyone.

July 6th
https://twitter.com/i/status/1611491464537862144

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“..inadvertently..”

Jan. 6 Comm. Releases Social Security Numbers Of Trump Officials, Allies (Fox)

When the House Jan. 6 committee released hundreds of documents from its investigation online at the end of the year, it inadvertently made public nearly 2,000 Social Security numbers belonging to high-profile individuals who visited the White House in December 2020, according to a report. The Washington Post reported Friday that the leaked Social Security information was included in a spreadsheet buried within the “massive cache” of records from the committee’s work. Social Security numbers belonging to at least three members of Trump’s cabinet, a few Republican governors, and several Trump associates were reportedly compromised. The data was part of the White House visitor logs published by the committee.


While many Social Security numbers in the logs were redacted, the Post reported that around 1,900 of them were not. The Government Publishing Office (GPO), which was responsible for publishing the file, does not appear to have notified any of the individuals whose private information was released, the report said. Those whose Social Security information was made public include South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and her family, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. Others include an unnamed federal district court judge and a federal appeals court judge, at least half a dozen people who testified before the Jan. 6 committee, and a lawyer who represented another witness before the committee, the Post reported.

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“..Sperry’s reporting was never refuted..”

Adam Schiff’s Assault on the First Amendment (BB)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) violated the First Amendment and, arguably, his oath to uphold the Constitution in 2020 when his office demanded that Twitter suspend the account of Paul Sperry, an investigative journalist. Sperry happens to be the journalist who reported in 2019 that the “whistleblower” who worked with Schiff to engineer the impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump was Eric Ciamarella, a CIA analyst who had worked at the White House. Though Democrats convinced the media and Silicon Valley to suppress the story, Sperry’s reporting was never refuted, and the article remains live at RealClearInvestigations today.

This week, investigative journalist Matt Taibbi revealed in the “Twitter Files” that Schiff’s office at the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee sent a list of requests to Twitter, including that it suspend Sperry. Schiff claimed, without evidence, that Sperry was spreading “QAnon conspiracy theories.” (Sperry denies he has ever done so, anywhere.) Twitter declined that request, but suspended Sperry in 2022 with no explanation. The attempt by any member of Congress to suppress the freedom of expression of a journalist is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, which specifically restricts Congress from interfering in a free press. That violation is even more egregious when perpetrated by a congressional leader with unique access to secret information, and who implies that he has evidence no one else does and is acting to protect national security.

Schiff, who is now considering a run for U.S. Senate, is a frequent guest on mainstream media news programs, who have given him wide latitude for years to promote unfounded claims, such as the “Russia collusion” hoax. These journalists, who described Trump as a threat to press freedom merely for insulting the media, have a professional and ethical duty to demand that Schiff explain why he thought he could censor any journalist. It is also worth revisiting Schiff’s egregious record on civil rights in general. Last year, this author outlined five reasons that a new Republican-run Congress should subpoena Schiff — as he has subpoenaed so many others.

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“This decision was not made with the wellbeing and health of women in mind..”

Ted Cruz Slams Joe Biden for Turning Pharmacies Into Abortion Centers (LN)

Senator Ted Cruz, a longtime pro-life Texas senator, is not happy with Joe Biden’s recent ruling from his FDA that essentially turns pharmacies into abortion centers. As LifeNews reported, the FDA will allow pharmacies to sell the dangerous abortion drug that has killed millions of babies and injured thousands of women. Previously, mifepristone could only be dispensed by clinics, medical offices, and hospitals or under the supervision of a licensed physician. Following the decision, Walgreens and CVS announced they will sell the abortion drug that has killed millions of babies. Cruz slammed the decision, saying that not only will it expand abortions that kill babies, it will put women’s health at risk because the mifepristone abortion pill has killed at least dozens of women and injured countless thousands more.


“This decision was not made with the wellbeing and health of women in mind,” he said. “We should all be able to recognize that these pills can cause very serious side-effects, and should never be taken without medical supervision.” Cruz continued: “This is a reckless decision that puts the lives of women and girls in Texas and America in danger in order to push a pro-abortion agenda. This decision is not based on science, but on radical politics, and I am deeply disappointed by the callousness of the FDA.” The FDA has already lifted its in-person requirement for a doctor visit which is a medical necessity because taking the abortion pill in a variety of situations such as an ectopic pregnancy can be fatal for women. The decision will set up the ability of customers to purchase the abortion pill via teleconference — denying women the doctor’s visit they should be getting to avoid potential death or major complications.

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After two years of absence…

Biden Spokeswoman Blames Trump Ahead Of Border Visit (Fox)

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday blamed the previous administration for the immigration crisis facing the Biden administration, accusing Republicans of making the problem worse by opposing Democratic proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. Ahead of President Biden’s first visit to the southern border as president, Jean-Pierre told reporters that immigration reform is a “high priority” for the administration and that Biden is looking for Congress to act in the face of historic rates of illegal immigration overwhelming resources at the border.

“The president inherited a mess because of what the last administration did. We inherited a mess. And, you know, Republicans in Congress made it worse by blocking comprehensive immigration reform,” Jean-Pierre said at the daily White House press briefing. “And so what you’re seeing from this president is he’s acting. He’s acting to protect, to continue to protect the border, secure the border, and also deal with irregular migration.” Biden announced several changes to his immigration policies Thursday in a major speech from the White House. His speech came after more than 2.3 million migrant encounters were reported in FY 2022, breaking the historic 1.7 million record encountered in FY 2021.

So far in FY 2023, which began in October, the first two months have outpaced the same period last year — with 233,740 encounters in November, compared to 174,845 in 2021 and 73,994 in 2020. To address this crisis, Biden will expand a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelan nationals to include Haitians, Cubans and Nicaraguans, allowing some 30,000 individuals per month from those countries to be paroled into the U.S. for a two-year period if they meet certain conditions. Those who attempt to cross the border illegally will be ineligible for the program.

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“..Something will emergently replace this monster we call “health care.”

Repentance (Kunstler)

And what are they going to do now? Pretend that none of this is happening? Continue to demonize, discredit, and punish the few doctors who won’t pretend? My PC doc doubles as Chief Health Officer of his group practice. He’s fired doctors and others on the staff who refused to take the shots his company mandated. He’s dishonored his Hippocratic oath. He’s in mid-life with, one would assume ordinarily, many working years ahead of him. The information about vaccine deaths and disabilities is going to get worse, and his own behavior around the crisis is going to look worse, probably even to himself. There are hundreds of thousands of doctors like him. As of now, early 2023, there is no general movement among them to explain or apologize for their actions. What will happen?

I’ll tell you what will happen: medicine as we’ve known it is going to collapse, along with most other activities in our society. Apart from ethical offenses against the public in the single instance of the Covid-19 emergency, doctors and their administrative cohorts have stealthily surrendered to a racketeering business model that had already badly damaged the practice of medicine before Covid-19 came on the scene. Remember: as a general principle, organisms and systems often assume their greatest size just before the go extinct or fail. That’s exactly what you’re seeing in the conglomeratization of hospitals in the USA. If the idea was to remove redundancies for the sake of “efficiency,” then they did exactly what destroys ecosystems. Anyway, the net effect of all that hospital consolidation was just to make access to health care much more difficult for the average citizen, and the only benefit was to make multi-millionaires of the executives who run the hospitals.

Then Covid-19 came along and they decimated their own workforce with vaccine mandates. Now, many hospitals can barely function, and many have had to shut down specific services. Quite a few hospitals are going bankrupt, which only feeds the predatory consolidation still ongoing. When the financial, banking, and insurance disorders ahead start to bite later this year, hospitals will be shutting down. In the meantime, a lot of people will lose their lives to the disastrous side-effects of the vaccines. It is already the case, that the vaccine-injured who seek help from the medical system are lied-to, mis-treated, or ignored. Some of these are the doctors themselves and other health professionals who collide with reality the hard way. Something will emergently replace this monster we call “health care.”

Maybe it will still think of itself medicine, but it will operate at a much smaller scale, minus a lot of the expensive and rather miraculous high-tech developed in our time, but also minus a lot of hazardous high-tech interventions, especially pharmaceuticals, that were used as revenue streams despite the adverse blowbacks they induced. Will the doctors recover the trust of the public? It’s going to be a slog for them. They’ll have a long way to go just to recover their own honor and self-respect. Some sort of organized act of apology and repentance will have to happen first.

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It takes time

 

 

 

 

Speed
https://twitter.com/i/status/1611121105640505350

 

 

Ant hill

 

 

 

 

Glass octopus

 

 

Tiger mom

 

 

 

 

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Apr 222018
 


Vincent van Gogh Green Wheat Field With Cypress 1889

 

US Hints at China Truce as World Warns of Trade-War Threat (BBG)
US Banks Push Mortgage Apps As Home Lending Slows (R.)
Chinese Gangs Are Laundering Drug Money Through Vancouver Real Estate (GN)
New Zealand’s Ban On Home Sales To Foreigners Is “Discriminatory” – IMF (BBG)
Whirling Whirling (Jim Kunstler)
Home Office Under Theresa May Was Urged in 2014 To Act On Windrush (Ind.)
Tory Ministers Milking The System Are The Real Shirkers (G.)
Theresa May’s Hateful ‘Hostile Environment’ Immigration Policy (O.)
Europe’s Depopulation Time Bomb Is Ticking in the Baltics (BBG)
Members of European Parliament Call For Boycott of FIFA World Cup in Russia (UAW)
World Bank Recommends That Countries Eliminate Minimum Wage (BB)
Hopes For Greek Debt Deal Low Amid EU-IMF Discord (K.)
Turkish Justice Minister: Greece ‘A Gathering Place For Criminals’ (K.)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb Has Never Borrowed a Cent in His Life (Esq.)

 

 

At least in words, China has caved.

US Hints at China Truce as World Warns of Trade-War Threat (BBG)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’s considering a trip to China amid a trade dispute with Beijing that finance chiefs warn could derail the global economic upswing. Mnuchin said he’s “cautiously optimistic” of reaching an agreement with China that bridges their differences over trade. “A trip is under consideration,” Mnuchin told reporters on Saturday in Washington at the IMF’s spring meetings. “I’m not going to make a comment on timing, nor do I have anything confirmed.” China’s Ministry of Commerce said Sunday it is aware that the U.S. is considering a visit to Beijing to negotiate economic and trade issues and welcomes such a move.

A visit by the U.S. Treasury secretary to China could signal a breakthrough in the spat between the world’s two-biggest economies, whose threats to slap tariffs on each other have rattled markets and raised fears of a trade war. It would come at a sensitive time for the region’s geopolitics, with negotiations under way on a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Mnuchin’s remarks came as finance ministers and central bankers at the IMF meetings gave their latest economic assessments, often citing trade as a threat looming over the strongest upswing in seven years.

[..] Mnuchin said he met with Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, at the IMF gathering this week. The discussions focused on issues related to the Chinese central bank, not trade, said the secretary. Mnuchin said they also discussed China’s planned further opening of some markets, a move that U.S. has encouraged and “appreciated.” “China will vigorously push forward the reform and opening-up of the financial sector, significantly relax market access restrictions, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen the protection of intellectual properties and actively expand imports,” Yi said in a statement on Saturday. China has announced plans to gradually remove foreign ownership caps for limits for car-, ship- and aircraft-makers.

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“Buying a house is supposed to be a joyful thing..”

US Banks Push Mortgage Apps As Home Lending Slows (R.)

Big U.S. banks are racing to launch websites and mobile apps to make getting a mortgage faster and easier, investments that may have modest near-term payoffs as home lending activity slows. Lenders have been spending on digital tools to cut costs, eliminate error-prone paperwork and appeal to younger home buyers. However, they are chasing a shrinking pool of refinancing business and new home loan volumes are still below pre-crisis levels. Bank of America has spent $1 billion on its digital banking services in the last six years and launched its lineup of techy mortgage products last week. Wells Fargo rolled out its website and app service during the first quarter, and JPMorgan Chase, which is investing $1.4 billion in technology in 2018, plans to launch its offering later this year.

Bank of America’s app automatically fills in a customer’s address, employment history and other information that the bank already has, cutting out hundreds of boxes customers would otherwise have to fill. JPMorgan’s lets customers e-sign important documents. Quicken Loans was the first to gain traction with digital home loans following its 2016 Rocket Mortgage launch. The app is now key to its mortgage sales with more than 98 percent of the $20 billion in first-quarter lending volume accessing Rocket Mortgage at some point in the mortgage process, Quicken spokeswoman Brianna Blust said.

Quicken was the biggest home lender by volume in the fourth quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018, Blust said. It was the second-largest U.S. mortgage lender for the full year 2017, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance Publications. “Buying a house is supposed to be a joyful thing,” said Steve Boland, Bank of America’s head of consumer lending. “Filling out 330 fields is not, I think, something that brings you joy.” Refinancing volumes have plunged as interest rates have risen, meaning lenders must compete for a much smaller revenue pie in fresh home purchases.

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Bit over the top?

Chinese Gangs Are Laundering Drug Money Through Vancouver Real Estate (GN)

Criminal syndicates that control chemical factories in China’s booming Guangdong province are shipping narcotics, including fentanyl, to Vancouver, washing the drug sales in British Columbia’s casinos and high-priced real estate, and transferring laundered funds back to Chinese factories to repeat this deadly trade cycle, a Global News investigation shows. The flow of narcotics and chemical precursors — and a rising death count in western Canada caused by synthetic opioids — is driven by sophisticated organized crime groups known as Triads. The Triads have infiltrated Canada’s economy so deeply that Australia’s intelligence community has coined a new term for innovative methods of drug trafficking and money laundering now occurring in B.C.

It is called the “Vancouver Model” of transnational crime. Details of the Vancouver Model are outlined in a November 2017 report obtained by Global News from B.C.’s provincial government, in a freedom of information request. The report, by John Langdale of the department of security studies and criminology at Macquarie University, was presented to Australian intelligence officers and Austrac, the country’s anti-money laundering agency. B.C. Attorney General David Eby has reviewed the report, and recently travelled to Ottawa to inform a federal committee of his concerns. His message was blunt. Eby testified that Canada’s anti-money laundering system has completely failed. He told the committee that gangsters have been openly carrying hockey bags stuffed with hundreds of thousands in drug cash into B.C. casinos, and there has not been a single prosecution.

In an interview with Global, Eby said the Australian report shows “that Vancouver is now recognized internationally as a hub of transnational money laundering.”

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Is this also about Chinese gangs?

New Zealand’s Ban On Home Sales To Foreigners Is “Discriminatory” – IMF (BBG)

The IMF has criticized New Zealand’s “discriminatory” ban on home sales to foreigners, saying it’s unlikely to improve housing affordability. “Foreign buyers seem to have played a minor role in New Zealand’s residential real estate market recently,” the IMF said in a statement Tuesday, after concluding its annual Article IV mission to New Zealand. If the government’s broader housing policy agenda is fully implemented, that “would address most of the potential problems associated with foreign buyers on a less discriminatory basis,” it said. The new Labour-led government has pledged to fix the nation’s housing crisis with a raft of measures, including a ban on foreign speculators buying residential property, removal of tax distortions and an ambitious building program.

House prices have surged more than 60% in the past decade amid record immigration and a construction shortfall, shutting many out of the housing market. [..] Proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act, which the government says will bring New Zealand into line with neighboring Australia, will classify residential land as “sensitive,” meaning non-residents or non-citizens can’t purchase existing dwellings without the consent of the Overseas Investment Office. While non-resident foreigners will be allowed to invest in new construction, they will be forced to sell once the homes are built.

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“Their parting shot to an unjust world was voting for Donald Trump. Next time, they won’t even be around.”

Whirling Whirling (Jim Kunstler)

It begins to look like The USA will litigate itself into Civil War Two with the first battle being half the lawyers in the Department of Justice prosecuting the other half until Anthropogenic Global Warming puts the DC Swamp completely underwater and all parties concerned scuttle off into the deep blue sea. It was rather a shock to see the photo lineup of all those familiar faces — Comey, Hillary, McCabe, Loretta Lynch et. al. — in the criminal referral “matters” sent over to the DOJ by congress on Wednesday, as if they were some mob of goombahs caught running a waste management kickback racket in the Hackensack mud-flats.

But the evidence trail has been in plain sight for more than a year that Justice Department officials of various ranks and stripes colluded to bring off a legalistic coup d’etat against the loathed and despised winner of the 2016 election — with a little help from (of all things and personae) Russia, as in that political smallpox blanket known as the Steele Dossier. Mixed metaphors aside, it looks like all the clones of Ricky Ricardo and Lucy engineered in some CIA black lab will never satisfy the amount of ’splainin’ that needs to be done, and that the ensuing trials may last longer than the lifetimes of millennials still struggling on campus with their gender presentation. There may be even more line-ups to come.

I’m thinking players like Susan Rice, the Podesta brothers, Huma Abedin, John Brennan, James Clapper, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and perhaps the gentleman who preceded the Golden Golem of Greatness in the oval office. This melodrama will make The Lord of the Rings look like a knock-knock joke. Meanwhile, the Republic actually whirls around the drain, both as a legitimate polity between Montauk Point and the Farallon Islands, and as an actor on the world stage. The Washington bureaucracy is not the only swamp that needs to be drained. There’s also the reeking Okeefenokee wasteland known as the US economy, led by its financial avatars on Wall Street who engineered the orgy of asset-stripping that chewed through the industrial states like some flesh-eating bacteria.

There is nothing left in Flyover-land. I drove through part of it yesterday on a book-reporting chore: the “quiet corner” of northeastern Connecticut south of Worcester, Mass, a valley of decrepitating mill towns and opiate addiction, like some place out of H.P. Lovecraft’s demon-haunted imagination, where the sun comes up twenty minutes later than anywhere else, and a dwindling population of malevolent diseased imbeciles shriek their lonesome agonies of failure and destitution to a God that never returned from lunchbreak one day in 1985. Their parting shot to an unjust world was voting for Donald Trump. Next time, they won’t even be around.

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No accident.

Home Office Under Theresa May Was Urged in 2014 To Act On Windrush (Ind.)

Home Office officials were urged four years ago to act on the growing problems facing the Windrush generation, it has emerged, including recommendations to create a specialist taskforce which was only set up this week. It follows intense pressure on the government department and Theresa May over their handling of the Windrush scandal that has highlighted the plight of members of a generation of immigrants who arrived as British citizens in the mid-twentieth century. This week both Amber Rudd, the home secretary, and the prime minister have personally apologised for the debacle, promising compensation for those affected and setting up a new dedicated team in the Home Office tasked with helping members of the Windrush generation prove their right to British citizenship.

But the government now faces renewed criticism after it emerged that a similar recommendation – the creation of specialist Home Office unit – was made in October 2014 while Ms May was in charge of the department as home secretary. In a detailed report, published in October 2014 by the Legal Action Group, it was also warned that thousands of migrants who have been in Britain legally for decades were falling victim to the “hostile immigration” policies aimed at illegal immigrants in the UK. The recommendations of the Chasing Status report also included maintaining applicants’ ability to work and claim benefits while their status is resolved.

[..]The Labour MP David Lammy, who has been a leading campaigner for those members of the Windrush generation experiencing difficulties, told The Independent: “It is utterly extraordinary that the Home Office was clearly aware of the impact that their pernicious policies would have, yet ignored all the warnings and impact assessments. “The apologies made by the home secretary and prime minister are merely crocodile tears given that they were fully aware of the human cost that their policies would have. It’s time for a proper and independent review of our immigration policy and the hostile environment.”

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“Lose one form, and you lose cancer treatment and your liberty – lose a generation’s forms, and you’re the effing PM..”

Tory Ministers Milking The System Are The Real Shirkers (G.)

If I were editing a tabloid newspaper this week – and I’m always open to guest stints – I would have had advertising vans out since Monday. They would have been crawling v-e-r-y slowly back and forth past the houses of Theresa May, Amber Rudd, Nick Timothy and David Cameron – and those just for starters. Instead of the repulsive GO HOME message that adorned the infamous vans May’s Home Office sent out, which resulted in the eventual deportation of precisely 11 migrants, I would have something along the lines of STAY HOME. Stay home, permanently. Whether they would get the message is uncertain. Collectively, Britain did its very best to provide a hostile environment for May with the election result. The message was very clear: take a hike. Not a hiking holiday, but the full hike.

Yet the import does not seem to have got through to the prime minister, or the various arse-coverers around her. It’s fair to say we are dealing with a very specific class of unworthy here. There are few groups who take less responsibility for their actions, as this week in the Windrush scandal has laid starkly bare. Some of the most senior political figures in the land are – in the purest sense of one of their favourite terms – shirkers. They are feckless. They act like these things are happening to them, as opposed to because of them. Given the judgments they like to visit on the weaker members of society for comparatively minuscule transgressions, this makes them the most raging hypocrites too.

[..] And on they all go. If the government is in any doubt as to why so many millions think it’s one rule for them and another for the little people, then this week couldn’t be a better primer. You lose one form and you lose your job, your cancer treatment, your benefits, your liberty; you lose a generation’s forms and you’re the effing prime minister. Those condemned to battle the systems that ministers design know what happens if they make tiny errors. Furthermore, they know that if they messed up a tenth as badly in their jobs, they’d be sacked. But in the arse-over-tit world of government, you’re safe because your sacking would make the big boss – May – look weak. Just like your HR department, right? Except on crystal meth.

I don’t want to fall back on a series of politicians’ best-loved cliches, but this level of irresponsibility is just scrounging with a red box. They play for high stakes – but never their own. It’s the sort of system-milking demonised in a benefits office in Grimsby but regarded as career progression in Westminster. It makes it appear there’s no glass ceiling in modern political life, just a reinforced lead floor. Once you’re in, you basically have to die to stop earning rewards.

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“Children as young as 10 who were born in the UK are subjected to a “good character” test when they apply for citizenship..”

Theresa May’s Hateful ‘Hostile Environment’ Immigration Policy (O.)

History will judge Theresa May harshly. In recent weeks, the appalling stories about the impact of the government’s “hostile environment” policy reported by our sister paper, the Guardian, have continued to grow in number. They paint a shocking picture of a Kafkaesque state that has denied people who came to the UK from the Commonwealth as children their rightful entitlement to work, to housing and to healthcare. May has maintained these are people who have been wrongly caught up in her 2013 decision as home secretary to create a “really hostile environment” for people living in Britain illegally. But their tragic stories are the direct consequence of a policy so punitive that it would inevitably make life intolerable for legal British residents.

People without a passport are now being required to provide an absurd level of proof – four pieces of documentary evidence for each year of residence – of their legal status. Without this, they can no longer work, rent a home, open a bank account or access NHS care and may be detained and threatened with deportation. Doctors, bank clerks and landlords have become obliged to snoop on their fellow citizens by checking up on their immigration status.

[..] Those who become caught up in this are confronted with a cruel Home Office bureaucracy that operates outside the principles of natural justice. Officials are incentivised to reject applications for the tiniest of technical errors; immigration application fees are so high they are generating profits of up to 800% for the state, and there is no longer any right of appeal or legal aid available in most types of immigration cases. Children as young as 10 who were born in the UK are subjected to a “good character” test when they apply for citizenship; if they have been cautioned, their application can be refused.

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The EU fails everywhere, and spectacularly. It sucks the periphery dry. Just like Rome did.

Europe’s Depopulation Time Bomb Is Ticking in the Baltics (BBG)

With much of Eastern Europe already in the European Union or looking to join, living standards have been rising in the cities that dot these former Soviet satellites. More storefronts beckon to western tourists, who have grown more eager to wander among the cobblestones of historic capitals that were once less than hospitable. But a closer look outside the central squares reveals a different reality. According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, nine of the world’s countries most at risk of losing citizens over the next few decades are former East bloc nations. Porous borders and greater opportunity in the west have lured people away. Meanwhile, the populist wave sweeping the continent has made it next-to-impossible for African or Middle Eastern refugees to take their place.

Former Latvian economic minister Vjaceslavs Dombrovskis, now head of the Certus think tank, compared the westward migration of young eastern Europeans to the industrial revolution, when peasants rushed to large urban centers. He said these countries risk turning into what ancestral villages are for city dwellers: “a lovely place where you might spend an odd weekend with your folks.” The trend is hitting especially hard in the Baltics. Latvia, with a current population of 1.96 million, has lost about 25% of its residents since throwing off Soviet control in 1991. The UN predicts that by 2050, it will have lost an additional 22% of its current population—second only to Bulgaria—and by 2100, 41%.

In Estonia, with a population of 1.32 million, the UN foresees a 13% decline by 2050, growing to 32% by 2100. And in Lithuania, the current population of 2.87 million is expected to drop by 17% in 2050. By 2100, it will have lost 34%. As bad as those numbers look, the trend looks even worse for Ukraine and Moldova. The UN predicts 36% and 51% declines in those nations by the end of the century, respectively. Russia, meanwhile, is expected to lose 13% by 2100. Several factors are contributing to the depopulation of Eastern Europe, and Latvia has all of them: low income, compared with more developed EU nations; insufficient growth; and strong anti-immigrant sentiment. The average annual take-home pay among all EU nations was 24,183 euros ($29,834) in 2015, according to Eurostat, while in Latvia it was only 6,814 euros ($8,406).

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There are 751 members. 60 support this.

Members of European Parliament Call For Boycott of FIFA World Cup in Russia (UAW)

60 members of the European Parliament called on EU member states to boycott the FIFA World Cup in Russia, DW reports. The initiator of this appeal is a representative of the Green Party, Rebecca Harms. She believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot be a host of the World Cup while the war continues in Syria and Ukraine. She also pointed out that Russia supports right-wing extremist and anti-democratic parties in the EU and has been trying to influence elections. Overall, the statement was signed by representatives of 5 factions of the European Parliament from 16 countries. The authors of the document indicate that Russia itself is pushing Europe towards such steps.

A group of deputies reminded others about the poisoning of former GRU agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, which they called a mockery of European values. MEPs believe that EU member states should take the UK and Iceland as good examples of the countries which counter the “strengthening of the authoritarian and anti-Western course of the Russian president.” The authors also draw attention to the unsatisfactory situation with human rights and freedoms in Russia, especially the violation of freedom of speech. Earlier, a White House representative urged British and American fans to think twice before going to the World Cup in Russia.

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Let’s shut down the World Bank. It’s been rotting for too long.

World Bank Recommends That Countries Eliminate Minimum Wage (BB)

A draft of the World Bank’s annual flagship World Development Report says that its creditor-states (the poorest countries in the world) should eliminate their minimum wage rules, allow employers to fire workers without cause, and repeal laws limiting abusive employment contract terms. The bank argues that this is necessary to stop employers from simply investing in automation and eliminating workers altogether. The report does not contemplate the possibility that the world’s governments would just raise taxes on corporations and their investors to provide for all their citizens.

Poor countries – especially decolonized countries – are often in debt to organizations like the World Bank and IMF, sometimes because they were forced to literally buy their freedom (like Haiti, whose slave-descended population had to remit a sizable portion of its annual GDP to the descendants of French slavers until 1947), sometimes because their wealth was looted by colonists during and after the colonial period, and sometimes because rich creditor nations were complicit in the exfiltration of the nation’s treasure by gangster-politicians, a practice that continues to this day.

Countries generally carry more debt than they can hope to repay, and teeter on the brink of continuous default, putting them at the mercy of creditor-organizations, who can order changes to national laws, sell-offs of public industries and assets, and other measures that further reduce debtor-states’ ability to prosper, creating more debt and deeper concessions. The World Bank’s recommendations feel like the beginning of the end-game of late-stage capitalism, a recognition that the post-war era in which cruel exploitation of workers was considered a bug rather than a feature is drawing to a close, and a return to a kind of market feudalism, where property rights – no matter how corrupt their origins – always trump human rights.

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Divide and rule.

Hopes For Greek Debt Deal Low Amid EU-IMF Discord (K.)

Hopes for a breakthrough on the issue of Greek debt relief at a summit of eurozone finance ministers in Sofia on Friday are muted following a lack of progress in talks between European officials and representatives of the IMF in Washington over the weekend. Talks involved all of the key players in the debate on Greece’s debt, including IMF chief Christine Lagarde, European Monetary and Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovci, and the finance ministers of Germany, Italy, Spain and France. But a long-standing rift between EU and IMF officials over how a debt relief mechanism should operate continued, with the Fund representatives insisting that it should be automatic and the Europeans saying it should be tied to conditions.

In view of the resistance put up chiefly by Germany, the EU’s largest economy, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos expressed his concern that the debt relief being considered for Greece would be inadequate. Another worry is over creditors’ objections to a growth plan proposed by Greece. European officials responded with a 30-page memo to Greece’s 85-page proposal, requesting more detail and a stricter time frame. The growth plan was one of the issues discussed by leftist SYRIZA’s political secretariat during a session chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday.

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What you say about a neighbor you want good relations with.

Turkish Justice Minister: Greece ‘A Gathering Place For Criminals’ (K.)

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has written to his Greek counterpart Stavros Kontonis saying “Greece is becoming a gathering place for criminals” following a court ruling releasing one of eight Turkish servicemen seeking asylum in Greece, Anadolu reported on Saturday. Gul’s letter came a day after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim slammed the Council of State ruling, saying Greece was becoming a “safe haven” for Turkey’s enemies. The ruling issued on Thursday by Greece’s highest administrative court relates to Süleyman Özkaynakçı, who piloted the helicopter in which he and seven other Turkish servicemen fled to Greece in July 2016 following Turkey’s failed coup.

However it is expected to apply to all eight servicemen. In his comments on Friday, Yildirim said it was “unacceptable” for people who took part in the coup attempt in the summer of 2016 to be protected by Greece. “Unfortunately, recently, criminals of the FETO organization have started seeing Greece as a safe haven,” he said, referring to what Ankara describes as a terrorist group led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. “I hope they will extradite the members of this organization,” he said, adding that Turkish authorities “do not desire a negative impact on Greek-Turkish relations because of members of the FETO organization.”

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“We have to worry about the 2 percent—the intellectuals and politicians making the big decisions who don’t have skin in the game and are messing the whole thing up for everybody else.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb Has Never Borrowed a Cent in His Life (Esq.)

People ask me my forecast for the economy when they should be asking me what I have in my portfolio. Don’t make pronouncements on what could happen in the future if you’re immune from the consequences. In French, they use the same word for wallet and portfolio. I have never, ever borrowed a penny. So I have zero credit record. No loans, no mortgage, nothing. Ever. When I had no money, I rented. I have an allergy to borrowing and a scorn for people who are in debt, and I don’t hide it. I follow the Romans’ attitude that debtors are not free people. I carry euros, dollars, and British pounds. What I do with my money is personal. People who say they give it to charity, that’s a no-no in my book. Nobody should ever talk about a charitable act in public.

Better to miss a zillion opportunities than blow up once. I learned this at my first job, from the veteran traders at a New York bank that no longer exists. Most people don’t understand how to handle uncertainty. They shy away from small risks, and without realizing it, they embrace the big, big risk. Businessmen who are consistently successful have the exact opposite attitude: Make all the mistakes you want, just make sure you’re going to be there tomorrow. Don’t invest any energy in bargaining except when the zeros become large. Lose the small games and save your efforts for the big ones. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, so long as you pay the price. A used-car salesman speaks well, they’re convincing, but ultimately, they are benefiting even if someone else is harmed by their advice.

A bullshitter is not someone who’s wrong, it’s someone who’s insulated from their mistakes. There is less “skin in the game” today than there was fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago. More people determine the fates of others without having to pay the consequences. Skin in the game means you own your own risk. It means people who make decisions in any walk of life should never be insulated from the consequences of those decisions, period. If you’re a helicopter repairman, you should be a helicopter rider. If you decide to invade Iraq, the people who vote for it should have children in the military. And if you’re making economic decisions, you should bear the cost if you’re wrong.

Ninety-eight percent of Americans—plumbers, dentists, bus drivers—have skin in the game. We have to worry about the 2 percent—the intellectuals and politicians making the big decisions who don’t have skin in the game and are messing the whole thing up for everybody else. Thirty years ago, the French National Assembly was composed of shop owners, farmers, doctors, veterinarians, and small-town lawyers—people involved in daily activities. Today, it’s entirely composed of professional politicians—people who are just divorced from real life. America is a little better, but we’re heading that way.

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