en US Lawmakers Draft Bill 'Protecting' Cryptocurrencies From Government Interference <p>Several members of the US Congress are drafting legislation that is intended to recognize certain digital currencies and <strong>&#39;protect&#39; them against interference from the federal government</strong>. The question is - does the &#39;protection&#39;</p> <p><a href=""><img height="337" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href=""><em>CoinTelegraph reports </em></a>that the bill, which will provide protection to cryptocurrencies that <strong>comply with certain minimum requirements to prevent them from being used by those engaged in illegal business practices like drug traffickers and terrorists, </strong>is expected to be filed in September 2017, according to&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">DailyCaller</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Based on a reliable source,<strong> at least one Republican senator and two Republican congressmen are working on the draft legislation.</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The legislators, however, have requested that should not be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue and the complexity of the proposed solution.</p> <p dir="ltr">A source close to the effort <a href="">told TheDC,</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;the <strong>center piece of the plan is to mainstream digital currency so it can be treated just like the American dollar. </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">First, there is a new entity that is considering issuing a brand new digital currency that is compliant with anti-money laundering laws unlike any other in circulation.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Although cash has some of the same problems being used to pay for illegal activities, the perception that digital currencies are being used for illegal activities is seen as the primary roadblock to wholesale acceptance by the American public.</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="">The source told TheDC </a>the new model is going to follow federal laws that prevent money laundering. This is a break through and could lead to the use of digital currencies replacing the dollar for many transactions.<strong>&nbsp; The legislation is expected to be introduced in early September.</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The source asked the members of Congress involved in drafting the bill not be identified yet, explaining, &ldquo;this is a very complicated issue and staff are working through some issues that have in the past stopped alternative currencies from being launched.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">They continued that:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;<strong>...the law needs to be changed to protect digital currencies from federal government harassment to make sure that a complaint currency can be backed by value, the currency cannot be treated like a security or investment, and that transfers are protected against taxation. </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">The bottom line is that Congress needs to remove all the obstacles to a vibrant digital currency that has voluntarily taken the initiative to keep the bad guys from using it.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">What is perhaps most ironic here is that government lawmakers are attempting to codify rules to stop government lawmakers interfering with the free and open exchange of a decentralized currency... by setting rules that potentially interfere with the free exchange of said currency.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="707" height="397" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alternative currencies Banknote Congress Cryptocurrencies Currency Digital currencies E-commerce Economy federal government Finance Financial cryptography Money Money laundering Politics U.S. Congress Virtual currency Sun, 20 Aug 2017 23:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 601996 at Barclays Installs Sensors To Monitor How Long Employees Spend At Their Desks <p>As we reported <a href="">last month, </a>a Wisconsin company called Three Square Market has become the first company in the US to offer microchip implants to its employees. The firm, which designs software for breakroom markets, wants employees to use microchips to help facilitate vending-machine payments. <strong>The firm wanted to use its employees as test subjects for their product. And though the program was strictly voluntary, it marks an uncomfortable beginning of a trend that could someday result in all humans being involuntarily microchipped. </strong></p> <p><strong>Now, across the pond, companies are escalating efforts to monitor their employees.</strong></p> <p>Barclays Plc has installed devices at its London headquarters that track how much time bankers spend at their desks. While a spokesperson for the bank says the devices aren&rsquo;t meant <strong>to evaluate employees&rsquo; performance, their introduction has clearly spooked members of the rank-and-file,</strong> who leaked the story to <a href="">Bloomberg.</a></p> <p>The devices are manufactured by OccupEye and use heat and motion sensors to record how long employees are spending at their posts.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 249px;" /></a></p> <p>According to <a href="">Bloomberg,</a> employees inundated management with questions about the devices after they first appeared under their desks. The bank reportedly didn&#39;t neglected to inform some employees ahead of time.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Managers were peppered with queries when investment bank staff in London discovered black boxes stuck to the underside of their desks in recent months, according to several Barclays employees who asked not to be identified speaking about their workplace<strong>. They turned out to be tracking devices called OccupEye, which use heat and motion sensors to record how long employees are spending at their posts.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>There was a &ldquo;phased roll-out&rdquo; of the devices, and Barclays staff and the Unite union were notified before they were installed, although the bank did not send out a specific memo about them, according to spokesman Tom Hoskin. </strong>The Barclays employees said they don&rsquo;t remember being informed about the boxes, but spokespeople for the bank said there have been no official human-resources complaints.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The devices, <strong>made by Blackburn, U.K.-based Cad-Capture, </strong>are pitched as a way for companies to find out how they can reduce office space, providing a multicolored dashboard to show managers which workstations are unoccupied and analyze usage trends.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;The sensors aren&rsquo;t monitoring people or their productivity; they are assessing office space usage,&rdquo;</strong> the bank said in an emailed statement. <strong>&ldquo;This sort of analysis helps us to reduce costs, for example, managing energy consumption, or identifying opportunities to further adopt flexible work environments.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>While the devices could be part of CEO Jes Staley&rsquo;s efforts to reduce the company&rsquo;s real-estate footprint, Barclays employees have a reason to be paranoid. According to <a href="">Bloomberg,</a> many investment banks have been taking steps to more closely monitor their employees as banks face shrinking profit margins in key businesses like trading.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Investment banks are increasingly using technology to keep tabs on how their staff spend their time. <strong>Barclays has introduced a computer system to track how much is earned from every client, allowing bosses to determine how much time traders, analysts and salespeople should spend with each customer.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>An officer with UK trade union Unite said the union was promised that data collected from the boxes wouldn&rsquo;t be used to evaluate employees.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;We were given assurances that the boxes did not monitor individuals or their performance,&rdquo; </strong>Unite national officer Dominic Hook said in a statement. The union &ldquo;will keep a close eye on the situation to make sure that the sensors are never used to spy on staff or as a means to measure productivity.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Lloyds Banking Group, which, like Barclays has been trimming its London office space, also uses similar devices. Sources inside major US investment banks like J.P. Morgan Chase &amp; Co., Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup Inc. told <a href="">Bloomberg </a>that they don&rsquo;t use devices like these.<br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="729" height="363" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank Barclays Barclays Bloomberg L.P. Business Business CAD Citigroup Clan Barclay Economy Finance Financial services goldman sachs Goldman Sachs increasingly using technology Investment banking Labor Lloyds Office SPY Technology Sun, 20 Aug 2017 22:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 601972 at Marc Faber: In The Age Of Cyber-Terrorism, Every Investor Must Own Gold <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Shannara Johnson via Hard Assets Alliance,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Take it from &ldquo;Dr. Doom&rdquo;: own some <a href="" target="_blank">physical gold</a> and keep it out of the banking system.</strong></p> <p>Dr. Marc Faber, a legendary investor and the editor/publisher of the <em>Gloom, Boom &amp; Doom Report</em>, is well known for his contrarian investing style.</p> <p>In a recent <a href="" target="_blank">Metal Masters interview</a> with the Hard Assets Alliance, he noted that the<strong> biggest geopolitical risk for Americans today is not a conventional war but rather cyber-attacks that could take down the US power grid.</strong></p> <p>In such a scenario, gold would become an irreplaceable medium of exchange. But it&rsquo;s not the only reason to own gold today.</p> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Diversified Assets Outside the Banking System</strong></span></h3> <p>Faber grew up in Switzerland right after World War II, a tough time that caused his family to distrust paper money and taught him the importance of precious metals as a safety net.</p> <p>Faber remembers how his father talked about rich people as millionaires.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&ldquo;</em>That, in the &lsquo;50s and &lsquo;60s and &lsquo;70s, was a lot of money. Today, a million is nothing at all&mdash;small change. Unfortunately. When people talk about, &lsquo;Oh, there is no inflation in the system,&rsquo; this is nonsense. Compared to assets, money has lost a tremendous amount of purchasing power.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>After working on Wall Street for over two decades, Faber&rsquo;s assets consisted mainly of bonds, equities, and real estate. He says it was in the 1990s when he realized that &ldquo;it&rsquo;s good to have a diversified asset outside the banking system and not financially related&rdquo; and began to purchase some <a href="" target="_blank">physical gold</a> every month.</p> <p><strong>The Fed largely ignores gold as an asset, he says, because &ldquo;gold is an embarrassment to central banks.&rdquo;</strong></p> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>When the Lights Go Out, Bitcoin Goes Too</strong></span></h3> <p>Regarding a possible war, Faber believes it&rsquo;s unlikely that anyone will ever invade China or the United States. He thinks the true vulnerability lies in &ldquo;wars that are fought not with tanks&mdash;they are fought by, say, somebody could switch off the light in New York, or the electricity, or the Internet. If you switched off the Internet, what would happen?&rdquo;</p> <p>This is where the merits of <a href="" target="_blank">gold bullion</a> become obvious, he says: &ldquo;In these times, you actually want to have access to something physical that is a recognized medium of exchange.&rdquo;</p> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>&ldquo;Gold Is Driven by Money Printing&rdquo;</strong></span></h3> <p>When the Fed pursues loose monetary policies, Faber states, the people who benefit the most are the super-elite, the 0.01%. They have been moving ahead while the average American suffers:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;50% of American people have no assets. &hellip; They don&rsquo;t benefit from money printing. Actually, they&rsquo;re hurt because their cost of living is going up, and it&rsquo;s going up more than the CPI would indicate.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>He believes &ldquo;that the recovery, globally, is very weak&rdquo; and the rapidly growing unfunded liabilities are a clear threat that could lead to another financial collapse.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;By being in equities and by <a href="" target="_blank">being in gold</a>, and also having some exposure to bonds, you have some diversification,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Then you can hope when the hour of truth occurs, you will only lose, say, 50% of your assets, but your neighbor loses everything. So relatively speaking, you will have done very well.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to watch the full interview with Marc Faber for more advice on how to weather a crisis.</a></p> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank"><img class="img-responsive" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 306px;" /></a></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="681" height="393" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Asset Bank Banking Bitcoin Bitcoin Bond Central Banks China Contrarian investing CPI Economic history of Italy Economy Finance Hard Assets Alliance Inflation Investment Marc Faber Money Precious Metals Purchasing Power Real estate recovery Switzerland US Federal Reserve Sun, 20 Aug 2017 22:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 601995 at Women's March Organizer Sarsour Sees Convicted Terrorist Friend Stripped Of Citizenship, Banned Forever From US <p>Rasmieh Yousef Odeh lost her citizenship and will be banned from America forever for<strong><em> intentionally falsifying her US immigration documents to hide a previous terrorism conviction</em></strong>. <a href="">As Daily Caller reports,</a> <strong>Women&#39;s March organizer Linda Sarsour has a long history of defending the soon-to-be-deported terrorist</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="348" src="" width="529" /></a></p> <p>Following an in-depth investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement&rsquo;s Homeland Security Investigations, a statement entitled <a href=""><strong><em>&quot;Convicted terrorist stripped of citizenship, ordered deported for failing to disclose ties to deadly bombing&quot; </em></strong></a>was released...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 70, lost her United States citizenship, and will be deported from the United States for having obtained her United States citizenship unlawfully, </strong>Daniel L. Lemisch, acting United States Attorney announced. Joining Lemisch in the announcement was Steve Francis, HSI Detroit special agent in charge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s court action clears the way for this defendant&rsquo;s removal from the United States and should serve as an unequivocal message that the U.S. will never be a haven for those seeking to distance themselves from their past atrocities,&rdquo;</strong> said Steve Francis, HSI Detroit special agent in charge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Odeh, a Chicago-area resident, was sentenced by United States District Judge Gershwin A. Drain. <strong>During the sentencing hearing, Judge Drain indicated that he would sign an order, today, revoking Odeh&rsquo;s United States citizenship.</strong> As a result of that order, Odeh will no longer have legal status in the United States, will be deported to her nation of citizenship, Jordan, and is barred for life from reentering the United States. Judge Drain said Odeh intentionally falsified her U.S. citizenship documents and this sentence should be a deterrent to others thinking of lying to gain admission into the United States and citizenship.</p> </blockquote> <p>Lemisch explained <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Odeh&rsquo;s past as a convicted terrorist before she immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 on an immigrant visa</strong></span>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In 1969, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine conducted two bombings in Jerusalem, Israel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One was at a Supersol supermarket, in which two individuals were killed and many more wounded. The second bombing was at the British Consulate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Defendant Odeh was arrested and charged with participation in the bombings, and in 1970 was convicted. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released in 1979 after ten years&rsquo; imprisonment, as part of a prisoner exchange.</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In numerous television and video interviews throughout the years, <strong>other admitted participants in the bombings named Odeh as the person who chose the supermarket as a target, scouted the location and placed the bomb.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As a reminder, far-left Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour (who so many women seem to look up to as organizer of the Women&#39;s March), <strong>recently called for Muslims to wage a form of &ldquo;Jihad&rdquo; against President Donald Trump.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="269" src="" width="529" /></a></p> <p>In April, <strong>Sarsour spoke alongside Odeh at an event and gave her a warm embrace,</strong> The Daily Caller&nbsp;<a href="">reported</a>&nbsp;at the time.</p> <p>The New York Post&nbsp;<a href="">reported</a>&nbsp;at the event <em><strong>Sarsour said she felt &ldquo;honored and privileged to be here in this space, and honored to be on this stage with Rasmea.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Why Every Black Activist Should Stand With Rasmea Odeh by <a href="">@marclamonthill</a> <a href=""></a> <a href="">#BlackLivesMatter</a> <a href="">#FreePalestine</a></p> <p>&mdash; Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) <a href="">October 13, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Targeting, criminalizing, deporting torture victims like Rasmea Odeh reminds me once again how we lost our way as a nation. <a href="">#Justice4Rasmea</a></p> <p>&mdash; Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) <a href="">November 11, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p><a href="">Daily Caller notes that,</a> <strong>in her plea agreement, Odeh admitted to lying about her criminal history by claiming that she had never been arrested, convicted of a crime, or imprisoned.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&ldquo;Had Odeh revealed the truth about her criminal history, as she was required to by law, she never would have been granted an immigrant visa, admitted to the United States, allowed to live here for the last 22 years, or granted United States Citizenship,&rdquo;</strong></em> ICE also noted in their statement.</p> </blockquote> <p>Dear &#39;Left&#39; - defend that!</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="529" height="269" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> British Consulate Detroit Donald Trump Gershwin A. Drain Irregular military Israel Israeli–Palestinian conflict Law Linda Sarsour New York Post Odeh Palestinian militants Palestinian-American Politics Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Rasmea Odeh Sarsour United States Attorney Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 601993 at Real Vision's "Killer Charts" For Q3 2017 <p>How do you spot a market top? Is risk being mispriced? What is the greatest macro opportunity of the next decade? These were some of the questions Real Vision asked as part of the latest quarterly deck compilation of so-called "Killer Charts".</p> <p>Reaching out to its close group of financial experts, Real Vision Publications has tried to filter out the relentless noise from these unusual times because as RealVision writes, "when the POTUS is spending half his time tweeting about the stock market, something doesn’t add up. As a result, navigating financial markets have never been more precarious and hazardous for your wealth."</p> <p>To provide some insight for investors, Real Vision Publications is sharing 26 hand-picked charts from some of the more prominent thinkers in investment research.&nbsp; From macro big picture themes to market signals (you only see at the top) and other more opaque investment ideas, RealVision has attached 6 of its latest charts, 5 of which exclusively with ZeroHedge readers, and won’t be shared with other media houses.&nbsp; </p> <p>According to Raoul Pal and the folks over at RealVision, "this chart pack will be sure to get you thinking in a whole new direction."&nbsp; And even if it doesn't, it should at least make BTFD somewhat more informed if not enjoyable. </p> <p><em>Here are some perspectives:</em></p> <p><strong>Oil: Time to Sell?: </strong>Oil has been in a choppy but somewhat predictable range for the last 14 months. Nautilus’s analysis suggests oil should fall to the $40 – $42.50 range.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="389" /></a></p> <p><strong>Can the Fed Successfully Shrink Its Balance Sheet? </strong>US equity markets have moved in lockstep with the Fed’s B/S. Should we worry about the Fed pulling the rug? Work from MI2 suggests Fed B/S reduction is likely to upset the apple cart.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="406" /></a></p> <p><strong>The Most Expensive Market Ever: </strong>As TTMYGH points out, the CAPE ratio is a better metric of valuation, as it strips out any shenanigans from corporate management. As you can see in this great chart from Dr John Hussman, with regard to valuations, we are in newly charted territory.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="387" /></a></p> <p><strong>Alarm Bells Ringing:</strong> Cantillon Consulting’s stock market thermometer, the Sotheby Indicator, is flashing warning signs. When Sotheby’s hits these stock price peaks, it’s a sign people have more money than sense!</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="350" /></a></p> <p><strong>Peak Complacency: </strong>The Credit Strategist points out that European junk bonds are trading at the same yield/credit risk as US Treasuries. Someone isn’t doing their due diligence.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="420" /></a></p> <p><strong>Sell the S&amp;P – the stars have aligned</strong>: Hedge Fund Telemetry make a living out of market timing. The stars have aligned: DeMark counts, seasonality, and sentiment suggest the S&amp;P is about to fall.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="420" /></a></p> <p><em>To download all 26 charts for free, <a href="">click here</a>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="2681" height="300" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Apple B+ B.S. Business Cantillon Cantillon Capitalism Economic history of the Netherlands Equity Markets John Hussman John Hussman Market Timing Real Vision Stock market US Federal Reserve Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:16:57 +0000 Tyler Durden 602007 at A 1970s self-help guru’s hint why investors may be duped (again) <p><strong><a href="">Contributed by Sprott Money. Click <span style="text-decoration: underline;">here</span> for the original</a></strong></p> <p>America’s top forecasters missed the 2008 market crash, during which stock investors lost half their money. Now with stocks approaching bubble territory it looks they are again ignoring warnings signs. What gives?</p> <p>The biggest red flag is the S&amp;P 500 index, which groups 500 of America’s largest public companies and is trading near record highs. This despite a sluggish US economy driven by record government spending, borrowing and money printing.</p> <p>In short, conditions look exactly like those that prevailed just before the 2008 financial crisis, when equities investors lost half their money in a matter of months. </p> <p>So why haven’t the experts, many of whom are near-genius-level, ivy-league professionals, provided clear warnings about the risks in the system? </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="lightbox[mpblog_4430]"><img src="" style="display: block; margin: auto; max-width: 432px;" /></a> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>The S&amp;P 500 index</em> </p> <h3>Wisdom from a 1970s self-help guru? </h3> <p>One clue might come from consulting creative thinkers from outside the economics profession, like er…Robert Ringer? </p> <p>Yes that Robert Ringer. The self-help guru, who in his 1970s best-seller Looking out for #1, outlined a useful template to use when assessing human behavior.</p> <p>“All people act in their own interest all the time,” writes Ringer, who believes that people re-define self-interested actions to make themselves look virtuous. </p> <p>What Ringer calls the “definition game” enables politicians, like recently-retired ex-Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose who took home nearly $5 million in salaries and pension benefits for just 13 years work, to describe herself as a “public servant.”</p> <p>Ringer’s “human nature group” theory in many ways explains modern human action better than Hobbes, Nietzsche and even Ayn Rand, yet appears dark when applied to individuals – even to politicians. However it has a strong basis in academic theory. </p> <p>Foreign policy experts, for example, broadly accept that governments (which combine individual actions on a massive scale) act in their own interests all the time – and that they invent justifications as they go along. Otto von Bismark, a key innovator in international relations theory, describes this as realpolitik. If governments act that way, it should be no surprise that politicians - and the people who voted for them - would do so as well. </p> <p><strong>Are economics and financial forecasters "Looking out for #1?"</strong><br />To apply Ringer’s theory to explain why expert, <a href="">ivy-league-trained forecasters</a> <a href="">and regulators are all wrong, all the time when predicting recessions and stock</a> <a href="">market crashes</a>, we would start by asking where their interests lie.</p> <p>Consider: </p> <p><em>Governments want you to spend</em><br />Ringer’s theory suggests that - however well-intentioned they are - that politicians’ main interests are not to do a good job, but to get re-elected, and, more broadly, to maximize their lifetime potential earnings and prospects.</p> <p>If Ringer is right, then it should not be surprising that politicians would condone optimistic forecasts that encourage governments, consumers and businesses to borrow and spend because the resulting short-term economic activity would help them win the next election.</p> <p>In this scenario accumulated debts would only matter to those politicians if the issue showed signs of imploding on their watch.</p> <p>F<em>inancial Institutions want you to borrow</em> <br />Economists and forecasters at the big financial institutions are among the world’s best trained and highly-respected. This despite the fact they too missed the 2008 crash and recession.</p> <p>If we believe Ringer’s theory that financial sector forecasters are acting in their own interests all the time, this would suggest that they are likely working for bosses who are more concerned with generating new business than with being accurate. In that scenario the accuracy of their forecasts would be less important than how much activity they encouraged.</p> <p>It would also suggest that any big bank forecaster that had a consistently and markedly bearish outlook would be fired. </p> <p><em>Auditors and regulators prioritize rent extraction</em><br />Experts say that one of the American financial system’s major advantages is the high quality its watchdogs, such as the SEC, FINRA, FASB, public accountants, ratings agencies and other regulators. </p> <p>Yet despite positive reports from all major public accounting firms and US regulatory bodies, all the major US banks and much of the auto sector had to be bailed out during the last financial crisis. None, have provided any warning of significant threats this time around. </p> <p>Ringer’s “self-interest theory” would argue that the reason for this is that regulators are more incentivized to extract rents from the system than in serving the public. </p> <p>If that is true, you would expect to find regulatory bodies adding rules (such as voluminous Dodd-Frank regulations), staff and boosting salaries, but also making sure that their departments would only have undefined responsibilities, so they would not be blamed if another crisis hits.</p> <p>They could then use a subsequent crisis to ask the public for even more funds, powers and staff. </p> <p> <em><strong>Speak nicely, but verify </strong></em> </p> <p><em><strong></strong></em>If Ringer is right why doesn’t mainstream media, or even independent analysts, report this? One reason, is that in polite society, it is very hard to question someone’s motives. Particularly if you have to deal with that person regularly and he (or she) may one day have an opportunity to help you (or to extract payback). </p> <p>The Economist magazine balances its posture by only questioning the motives of leaders of countries outside the western orbit like North Korea, China, Iran and Russia, whom they regularly describe as “solely interested in keeping power.” However the actions of Western governments, whom the magazine courts, are generally reported as acting for the public good. </p> <p><strong>Hedge your bets</strong> </p> <p>The idea that a 1970s self-help guru’s theory provides a guide as to why another financial crisis may be inevitable seems laughable.</p> <p>However the fact that our Harvard economics PhDs, industry CFAs and regulators are so consistently wrong suggests that they may be putting their interests before those of the public. </p> <p>It also suggests that individual investors had better hedge their bets. </p> <p><em>(Note: Mr. Ringer, who is nearing his 80th birthday, but continues to blog regularly at (<a href=""></a>, did not respond to requests for comment</em>). </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-blog"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_blog" width="710" height="392" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business China conservative party Credit rating agency Economic bubbles Economy Economy of the United States Finance Financial crisis Financial crisis of 2007–2008 FINRA FINRA Great Recession Harvard Iran Market Crash Money None North Korea ratings Ratings Agencies Recession Recession Robert Ringer S&P 500 Stock market crashes Systemic risk The Economist U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:11:13 +0000 peterdiekmeyercontributor 602006 at NASA Unveils Plan To Stop Yellowstone "Supervolcano" Eruption, There's Just One Catch <p>A NASA plan to stop the Yellowstone supervolcano from erupting, <strong><em>could actually cause it to blow... triggering a nuclear winter that would wipe out humanity.</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em><a href=""><img height="319" src="" width="560" /></a></em></strong></p> <p><a href="">As we have detailed recently</a>, government officials have been closely monitoring the activity in the Yellowstone caldera.</p> <p>However, <a href="">as;s Mac Slavo details</a>, <strong>scientists at NASA have now come up with an incredibly risky plan to save the United States from the super volcano</strong>.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font"><a href="" target="_blank">A&nbsp;NASA&nbsp;scientist has spoken out</a> about the true<a href="" target="_blank"> threat of super volcanoes</a> and the risky methods that could be used to prevent a devastating eruption.&nbsp;Lying beneath the tranquil and beautiful settings of<a href="" target="_blank"> Yellowstone National Park </a>in the US lies an enormous magma chamber,<a href="" target="_blank"> called a caldera.</a> It&rsquo;s responsible for the geysers and hot springs that define the area, but for scientists at NASA, it&rsquo;s also one of the<a href="" target="_blank"> greatest natural threats to human civilization</a> as we know it.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Brian Wilcox, a former member of the<a href="" target="_blank"> NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense</a>, shared a report on the natural hazard that hadn&rsquo;t been seen outside of the agency until now.&nbsp;Following&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">an article published by BBC about super volcanoes last month</a>, a group of NASA researchers got in touch with the media to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat Yellowstone poses, and what they hypothesize could possibly be done about it.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p class="mol-para-with-font"><strong>&ldquo;I was a member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,&rdquo; </strong>explains Brian Wilcox of <a href="">Nasa&rsquo;s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology. </a><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">&nbsp;</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font"><strong>&ldquo;I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Yellowstone currently leaks about 60 to 70 percent of its heat into the atmosphere through&nbsp;stream water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks, while the rest of the heat builds up as magma and dissolves into volatile gasses.&nbsp;The heat and pressure will reach the threshold, meaning an explosion is inevitable. When <a href="" target="_blank">NASA scientists considered the fact that a super volcano&rsquo;s eruption </a>would plunge the earth into a volcanic winter, destroying&nbsp;most sources of food, starvation would then become a real possibility. &nbsp;Food reserves would <a href="" target="_blank">only last about 74 days, according to the UN</a>, after an eruption of a super volcano, like that under Yellowstone. &nbsp;And they have devised a risky plan that could end up blowing up in their faces. &nbsp;Literally.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font"><strong>Wilcox hypothesized that if enough heat was removed, and the temperature of the super volcano dropped, it would never erupt.</strong> But he wants to see a 35% decrease in temperature, and how to achieve that, is incredibly risky.&nbsp;One possibility is to simply increase the amount of water in the supervolcano. As it turns to steam. the water would release the heat into the atmosphere, making <a href="" target="_blank">global warming alarmists</a> tremble.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p class="mol-para-with-font">&ldquo;Building a big aqueduct uphill into a mountainous region would be both costly and difficult, and people don&rsquo;t want their water spent that way,&rdquo; Wilcox says. &ldquo;People are desperate for water all over the world and so a major infrastructure project, where the only way the water is used is to cool down a supervolcano, would be very controversial.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p class="mol-para-with-font"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>So, NASA came up with an alternative plan.</strong></span> They believe the most viable solution could be to<a href="" target="_blank"> drill up to 10km down into the super volcano and pump down water at high pressure. </a>The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F), thus slowly day by day extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46 billion, it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians (taxpayers) to make the investment.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p class="mol-para-with-font">&ldquo;Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,&rdquo; Wilcox says. &ldquo;Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p class="mol-para-with-font">Of course,<a href="" target="_blank"> drilling into a super volcano comes with its own risks</a>, like the eruption that scientists are desperate to prevent. Triggering an eruption by drilling would be disastrous.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p class="mol-para-with-font"><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>&ldquo;The most important thing with this is to do no harm,&rdquo; Wilcox says.</strong></span></em></p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">&nbsp;</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font"><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>&ldquo;If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.&rdquo;</strong></span></em></p> </blockquote> <p class="mol-para-with-font"><strong>The cooling of Yellowstone in this manner would also take tens of thousands of years, but it is a plan that scientists at NASA are considering for every super volcano on earth.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,&rdquo; Wilcox says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;People thought, &lsquo;As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.&rsquo; Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. <strong>But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>So what would happen?</strong></u></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="560" height="319" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Caldera California Institute of Technology Climate forcing agents Doomsday scenarios Environment Geology Geothermal Global Warming Igneous rocks Magma NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense National Aeronautics and Space Administration Supervolcano United Nations Volcano Volcanology Yellowstone Caldera Yellowstone hotspot Yellowstone National Park Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 601966 at Which States Have The Most Mortgage Fraud <p>In a <a href="">recent blog post by CoreLogic</a>, the real estate consultancy has determined the regions of the U.S. that have the highest correlation with the National Mortgage Fraud Risk index.&nbsp; <strong>The regions that are most highly correlated with fraud risk are areas that will be the best predictors of nationwide mortgage fraud</strong>.&nbsp; In fact, one can look at a few highly correlated regions to predict fraud risk on a national scale. </p> <p><strong>The heatmap (figure 3) shows the correlation of each region to the National Trend</strong>.&nbsp; Mousing over a region shows the region name, the tracking score, and the percentage level of the lowest to highest possible tracking score (-1.0 to 1.0).&nbsp; The heatmap has two layers (that can be toggled in the top-right menu of the map), one for state and one for CBSA.&nbsp; The CBSAs are limited to the top 50 CBSAs based on population. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="465" /></a></p> <p>California and Maryland have the highest correlation with the national trend for risk (see figure 2).&nbsp; </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="604" height="385" /></a></p> <p><strong>The two states have tracking scores of 0.49 and 0.47 respectfully.&nbsp; To put this in perspective, the next highest correlated state is Massachusetts with a tracking score of 0.1.&nbsp;</strong> All other states have a tracking score less than a 0.&nbsp; When California and Maryland are combined by averaging, the tracking score climbs to 0.72.&nbsp; The correlation typically increases the more regions that are added because the national score is a combination of all regions.&nbsp; However, the combined correlation gets worse when combining more states in descending order of correlation. It requires combining more than 6 states before it becomes better than combining California and Maryland alone. </p> <p>Finding the states that are correlated is good but looking at smaller<br /> regions is better.&nbsp; <strong>Smaller regions have a reduced number of<br /> contributing fraud factors to analyze</strong>.&nbsp; Along with the states, CoreLogic also<br /> looked at the correlation for metropolitan areas, commonly referred to<br /> as core-based statistical areas (CBSA).&nbsp; Utilizing the same process, the<br /> number of CBSAs that best fits the national trend can be reduced to<br /> three.&nbsp; CBSAs are smaller than states and are less likely to be<br /> predictive of the national trend (see figure 1).&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="394" /></a></p> <p> However, combining<br /> only three CBSAs provide a strong correlation to the National Fraud Risk<br /> Trend.&nbsp; The three CBSAs are Baltimore-Columbia-Townson with a tracking<br /> score of 0.43, San Francisco-Oakland-Heyward with a tracking score of<br /> 0.26, and San Diego-Carlsbad with a tracking score of 1.6.<br /> Boston-Cambridge-Newton is the only other CBSA with a tracking score<br /> higher than 0.&nbsp;&nbsp; The top 3 CBSAs combined has a tracking score of 0.64.&nbsp;<br /> Combining more CBSAs will slightly increase the correlation percentage<br /> but not significantly. &nbsp;There are 935 CBSAs in the Nation and the top<br /> three most correlated CBSAs only cover 12.2 Million out of 319 Million<br /> people (3.8%) in the US. </p> <p>According to CoreLogic, the national trend is not influenced by the largest population CBSAs as one might expect, due to more fraud instances given a larger volume of mortgages.&nbsp; The top three CBSAs based on population (New York City, Las Angeles, and Chicago) with the highest of the three having a tracking score of -0.96 and a combined tracking score of -1.0.&nbsp; The same is true for CBSA’s with the highest fraud risk (Miami, Daytona Beach, and New York City), each one having a tracking score of -1.0. </p> <p>Understanding the highly correlated regions helps to identify the contributing factors that lead to fraud.&nbsp; When looking across the nation, the number of potential factors is large and with the combination of the factors, the number becomes very large.&nbsp; This make it almost impossible to find the contributing factors.&nbsp; It is useful to see that the correlated regions are limited to just a couple of CBSA because it might reduce the number of potential factors to the point allowing analysts to identify the contributing factors.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>* * * </p> <p>Meanwhile, a separate <a href="">analysis from Bankrate has revealed the Top 10 states for mortgage fraud</a>: it found that Florida led the way by a large margin, with eight times the number of expected mortgage fraud investigations, according to the LexisNexis Mortgage Fraud Index. Nevada came in second, with just more than 2.5 times the number of expected investigations. Those two states showed some of the worst declines during the collapse of the housing bubble.</p> <ol> <li>Florida&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Nevada&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Arizona&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Delaware&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Illinois&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>New Jersey&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>California&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Michigan&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>Georgia&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> <li>New York&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </li> </ol> <p>The most common type of mortgage fraud involves false information on applications, according to the FBI. This category includes incorrect borrower names, lies about the borrower's job or income, misrepresentations about debts or assets, mismatched signatures, invalid Social Security numbers, and untruths about occupancy -- in other words, the borrower says the home will be a primary residence when it's really an investment property.</p> <p>Other common types of fraudulent activity include: lying on tax returns and financial statements; Appraisal fraud; False information about the borrower's bank deposits; Faked verifications of employment; Fraudulent escrow or closing documents; Falsified credit documents.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="787" height="385" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Core-based statistical area CoreLogic Crimes Demographics of the United States Economy FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Florida Fraud G factor Housing Bubble Illinois Law LexisNexis Mortgage Fraud Loans Michigan Money Mortgage fraud National Mortgage Fraud Risk New York City Property crimes Real estate Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:39:40 +0000 Tyler Durden 602005 at North Korea Threatens "Merciless Strike" As US-South Korea Wargames Begin <p>Residents of <a href=""><strong>Japanese coastal towns are holding evacuation drills</strong></a> as North <a href="">Korea warned Sunday</a> that the upcoming US-South Korea military <strong><em>exercises are &quot;reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.&quot;</em></strong></p> <p>Nearly 130 people took part in the drill in Kotoura, which has a population of 18,000, a town official said. <a href="">Reuters reports</a> that<strong> for 10 minutes, people ducked down covering their heads with their arms. </strong>Many of those taking part said they were worried. North Korea has in the past threatened to attack Japan, a staunch U.S. ally and host to U.S. military bases.</p> <p>As sirens blared from speakers in the town of Kotoura, children playing soccer outside ran to take shelter in a school, along with their parents and their team coach.</p> <p><em><strong>&quot;I&#39;ve been concerned every day that something might fall or a missile could fall in an unexpected place due to North Korea&#39;s missile capabilities,&quot; </strong></em>said the coach, Akira Hamakawa, 38.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="350" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>As a reminder, <strong><em>Japan is the only country in the world to be attacked with nuclear weapons, </em></strong>and so perhaps the threats from North Korea today are a little closer to heart than for many around the world.</p> <p>Following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un&#39;s statement last week that he would<em><strong> &quot;watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees,&quot;</strong></em> as US-South Korean military exercises begin, <a href="">CNN reports</a> that Pyongyang also declared that its army can target the United States anytime, and <strong>neither Guam, Hawaii nor the US mainland can &quot;dodge the merciless strike.&quot;</strong></p> <p>The messages in Rodong Sinmun, the official government newspaper, come a day before the US starts the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises with South Korea.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;The Trump group&#39;s declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against the DPRK ... is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war,&quot;</strong> Rodong Sinmun said, using the acronym for Democratic People&#39;s Republic of Korea, the nation&#39;s official name.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It described <strong>North Korea as the &quot;strongest possessor&quot; of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the US mainland from anywhere.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The Korean People&#39;s Army is <strong>keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies. </strong>It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted,&quot; it said.</p> </blockquote> <p>China has urged both Washington and Pyongyang to tone down the rhetoric, warning via the government&#39;s mouthpiece Global Times...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;<strong>The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more,</strong> and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response,&quot; it said in an editorial.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;If South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Kim&#39;s threats come after <strong>both US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week that the US was keeping military options on the table</strong> in dealing with North Korea.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1128" height="658" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> army China Forms of government Government Guam Japan KIM Kim Jong-un Korea Korean People's Army Kwangmy?ngs?ng-3 Newspaper North Korea North Korea Politics Reuters Rex Tillerson Rodong Sinmun Ulchi-Freedom Guardian War Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 601986 at In Nationwide Address, Trump To Unveil "New Path Forward" On Afghanistan Tomorrow <p>With the anti-neocon Steve Bannon out, and nobody left in Trump's inner circle to halt the simmering push for war in Aghanistan, North Korea, the Middle East and virtually everywhere else courtesy of Generals Kelly and McMaster, this morning <a href=";utm_content=5999900704d30118d05e37a4&amp;utm_medium=trueAnthem&amp;utm_source=twitter">Reuters reported</a>, quoting Defense Secretary Mattis that Trump has a made a decision on the United States' strategy for Afghanistan after a "sufficiently rigorous" review process.</p> <p>However, Mattis did not provide details on when the White House would make an announcement or what the decision was on Afghanistan, where fighting still rages more than 15 years after U.S. forces invaded and overthrew a Taliban government. The Defense Secretary said he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by Trump. </p> <p>"I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a pre-set position," Mattis told reporters traveling with him aboard a military aircraft to Jordan. "The president has made a decision. As he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people."</p> <p>As reported earlier in the year, soon after taking office in January the Trump administration began a review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan, which has expanded into a broader South Asia review. After Trump met with his national security aides on Friday to review an array of options for Afghan strategy, the White House said no decision had been made on whether he would commit more troops to America's longest war. However, Trump tweeted on Saturday: "many decisions made, including on Afghanistan".</p> <p>U.S. officials have told Reuters that the president was expected to be briefed on options ranging from a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to a modest increase. Out bet is on the latter, and scrap the "modest" part: after all, if there was ever a time Trump need a "war diversion" it is now. </p> <p>Luckily, we won't have long to wait: according to a statement issued moments ago by the White House, "<strong>Trump will address our Nation's troops and the American people tomorrow night at 9:00 pm (EDT) from Fort Meyer in Arlington, VA, to provide an update on the path forward for America's engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia."</strong></p> <p><img src="" width="600" height="224" /></p> <p>Meanwhile, signaling that the U.S. military expects its mission to continue, Bloomberg reports that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army's new special operations corps, declaring that "we are with you and we will stay with you." </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Gen. John Nicholson's exhortation of continued support for the Afghans suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that America's military must stay engaged in the conflict in order to insure terrorists don't once again threaten the U.S. from safe havens in Afghanistan. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nicholson, speaking prior to the White House announcement, <strong>said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghan's special operations forces are critical to winning the war</strong>. "I assure you we are with you in this fight. We are with you and we will stay with you," he said during a ceremony at Camp Morehead, a training base for Afghan commandos southeast of Kabul.</p> </blockquote> <p>Furthermore, as Bloomberg notes, the Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>According to a senior U.S. military officer in Kabul, increasing the number of American troops would allow the military to quickly send additional advisers or airstrike support to two simultaneous operations. Right now, the official said, they can only do so for one. The officer said it would allow the U.S. to send fighter aircraft, refueling aircraft and surveillance aircraft to multiple locations for missions. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The officer was not authorized to discuss the details publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pulling out American forces "would be a total failure," Col. Abdul Mahfuz, the Afghan intelligence agency chief for Qarahbagh, north of Kabul, said Saturday. And he said that substituting paid contractors for U.S. troops would be a formula for continuing the war, rather than completing it.</p> </blockquote> <p>As such, anyone harboring any hope that with two generals whispering strategy in Trump's ear, and with anti-interventionist Bannon out of the picture, that Trump will announce an accelerated withdrawal of US troops from the war-battered country, should probably not hold their breath. Meanwhile, keep a close eye on Mattis, Kelly and McMaster: once Trump announces the inevitable boost in military activity in Afghanistan first (and soon, everywhere else), it will be the three generals who - together with Goldman Sachs when it comes to domestic policy - are now officially in control of the U.S. executive branch. </p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1374" height="741" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghan army Afghan intelligence Afghanistan Afghanistan–United States relations Alt-right America's military American people of German descent Climate change skepticism and denial Donald Trump Donald Trump presidential campaign First 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency Foreign policy of the Donald Trump administration goldman sachs Goldman Sachs International relations Invasions of Afghanistan James Mattis Middle East Middle East Military Military history by country national security North Korea Pentagon Politics Reuters South Asia Steve Bannon Taliban Taliban The Apprentice Trump Administration United States US military War War in Afghanistan White House White House WWE Hall of Fame Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:06:05 +0000 Tyler Durden 602003 at