en Welcome To New York City's Taxpayer-Funded $2 Million Bathroom <p><a href=""><em>Authored by John Stossel via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Did you see the $2 million dollar bathroom?</strong> That&#39;s what New York City government spent to build a &quot;comfort station&quot; in a park.</p> <p><strong>I went to look at it.</strong></p> <p><strong>There were no gold-plated fixtures. It&#39;s just a little building with four toilets and four sinks.</strong></p> <p><strong><a href=""><img height="316" src="" width="600" /></a></strong></p> <p>I asked park users,<em><strong> &quot;What do you think that new bathroom cost?&quot;</strong></em></p> <p><em>A few said $70,000. One said $100,000. One said, &quot;I could build it for $10,000.&quot;</em></p> <p>They were shocked when I told them what the city spent.</p> <p><u><strong>No park bathroom needs to cost $2 million. </strong></u>An entire six-bedroom house nearby was for sale for $539,000.</p> <p>Everything costs more when government builds it.</p> <p><em><strong>&quot;Government always pays above-average prices for below-average work,&quot;</strong></em> says my friend who makes a living privatizing government activities.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>--Obamacare&#39;s website was supposed to cost $464 million. It cost $834 million and still crashed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>--Washington, D.C.&#39;s Visitor Center rose in cost from $265 million to $621 million.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>--The Veterans Affairs medical center being built near Denver was projected to cost $590 million. Now they estimate $1.7 billion.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Government spends more because every decision is tied up in endless rules.</strong> Rigid specs. Affirmative action. Minority outreach. Wheelchair access. &quot;The process is designed to prevent any human from using judgment, or adapting to unforeseen circumstances,&quot; says Philip Howard of the government reform group Common Good, adding, &quot;The idea of a commercial relationship, based on norms of reasonableness and reciprocity, is anathema.&quot;</p> <p><strong>But New York City&#39;s bureaucrats are unapologetic about their $2 million toilet. </strong>The Parks Department even put out a statement saying, &quot;Our current estimate to build a new comfort station with minimal site work is $3 million.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;$3 million?!&quot; I said to New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, incredulously.</p> <p><em><strong>&quot;New York City is the most expensive place to build,&quot; he replied. As a result, &quot;$2 million was a good deal.&quot;</strong></em></p> <p>I pointed out that entire homes sell for less. He said,<strong><em> &quot;We built these comfort stations to last. ... (L)ook at the material we use compared to that of a home. These are very, very durable materials.&quot;</em></strong></p> <p>They have to be, he says, because the bathroom gets so much use. <em><strong>&quot;We&#39;re going to expect thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of visitors. ... So we have to build it to last.&quot;</strong></em></p> <p>Yet not far away, Bryant Park has a bathroom that gets <em>much </em>more use. That bathroom cost just $300,000. Why the difference?</p> <p>Bryant Park is privately managed.</p> <p><strong>New York politicians also order contractors to pay &quot;prevailing&quot; wages. That usually means union wages, and that adds 13-25 percent to all bills.</strong></p> <p>When I asked Commissioner Silver about that, he said, &quot;This is a city that does believe strongly in labor.&quot;</p> <p>New York Democrats act as if &quot;labor&quot; means union labor. It&#39;s an insult to laborers. Most don&#39;t belong to unions. Unions, however, fund Democrats&#39; campaigns.</p> <p><strong>Since government spends other people&#39;s money, they don&#39;t care that much about cost and they certainly don&#39;t care much about speed. Many Parks Department projects are years behind schedule.</strong></p> <p>Commissioner Silver says he&#39;s made improvements. &quot;We&#39;ve now saved five months out of what used to be four years.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s still terrible!&quot; I said.</p> <p>&quot;We believe strongly in engaging the public,&quot; he replied. &quot;We have a process that includes design, procurement and construction.&quot;</p> <p><strong>But so does the private sector, which gets the job done faster.</strong></p> <p>Silver added: &quot;[Privately managed] Bryant Park did a renovation. ... (W)e do it from the ground up!&quot;</p> <p><strong>But no one forced the city to build from the ground up. </strong>Anyway, renovation can cost as much as new construction. Governments just spend more.</p> <p>Sometimes, people get so fed up that they take matters into their own hands.</p> <p>Toronto&#39;s government estimated that a tiny staircase for a park would cost $65,000-$150,000.</p> <p>So a local citizen installed a staircase himself.</p> <p>Cost? $550.</p> <p>Did the bureaucrats thank him? No. They say they will tear his staircase down. Can&#39;t have private citizens doing things for themselves.</p> <p><strong>Because private builders save so much money on staircases and bathrooms, imagine what we could save if government turned construction of government housing, airports and roads over to the private sector.</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="699" height="368" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bryant Park Fox Business Network John Stossel Libertarianism in the United States New York City New York City Department of Parks and Recreation New York City government New York City Parks Obamacare Parks Department Politics of the United States Television in the United States Television news in the United States Toronto's government US Federal Reserve Washington D.C. Fri, 28 Jul 2017 08:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600617 at Paul Craig Roberts Sees "A Ray Of Light" From Europe <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,</em></a></p> <p>America has been a discouraging landscape ever since the neoconservatives took over US foreign policy during the Clinton regime and started the two decades of war crimes that define 21st century America and ever since US corporations betrayed the US work force by moving American jobs to Asia.</p> <p><strong>The outlook became darker when the Obama regime resurrected the Russian Threat and elevated the prospect of military conflict between the nuclear powers. </strong></p> <p>As Europe is caught in the middle, <strong>in normal circumstances European countries would have insisted that Washington cease the gratuitous provocations of Russia</strong>. But normal circumstances have not existed.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 304px; height: 146px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>Since the end of WW2, European countries have been vassals without independent economic and foreign policies. </strong></p> <p>Europe hosts US military bases that threaten Russia. Europe has backed Washington&rsquo;s wars of aggression against Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Washington&rsquo;s air attacks on provinces of Pakistan, and Washington&rsquo;s use of Saudi Arabia to fight its proxy war against Yemen.</p> <p>Europe has backed Washington&rsquo;s gratuitous economic sanctions against Iran and Russia, sanctions that have cost Europe much and Washington little.</p> <p><strong>Accustomed to having its way with Europe, Washington commits Europe without even consulting the vassal governments. </strong></p> <p><u><strong>Now it seems Washington&rsquo;s extraordinary arrogance and hubris has resulted in overreach.</strong></u> Confronted with a new round of sanctions against Russia, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission told Washington that the time has passed when Washington can put its interests first and Europe&rsquo;s last.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 602px; height: 317px;" /></a></p> <p><u><strong>The new sanctions have devastating economic and political consequences for Europe.</strong></u></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Juncker said that if<em><strong> Europe&rsquo;s &ldquo;concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>The German and French foreign ministries added their support to Juncker. The German foreign ministry said:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&ldquo;It is not in the Americans&rsquo; right to judge or stipulate which way European companies may engage in cooperation with any third parties &ndash; particularly, with Russian energy companies.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>The French foreign ministry said: the sanctions &ldquo;contradict international law&rdquo; due to their &ldquo;extraterritorial reach.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Europe views the sanctions as a tool of US industrial policy that elevates US business interests over Europe&rsquo;s business interests.</strong></p> <p>Let&rsquo;s hope that Washington&rsquo;s arrogance will not permit Washington to back down and that Europe will give Washington the finger and disengage from the American Empire.</p> <p>Without Europe to host its military bases and to parrot its propaganda, Washington&rsquo;s ability to threaten Russia would significantly decline. Indeed, a continuation of the hostile threatening attitude toward Russia would leave Washington isolated in the world.</p> <p><strong>No country wants the risk of experiencing nuclear war merely for the sake of Washington&rsquo;s unilateralism.</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="304" height="146" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan Chivalry Economic sanctions Economy European Commission Foreign relations of Russia International relations International sanctions International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis International trade Iran Iraq Jean-Claude Juncker Politics Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia Fri, 28 Jul 2017 07:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600636 at Amazon Hosts Robotics Competition To Figure Out How To Replace 230,000 Warehouse Workers <p>There is little doubt that Amazon operates some of the most technologically advanced warehouses in the world.&nbsp; As of the end of 2016, the <a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;utm_campaign=article_left_1.1">Seattle Times</a> noted that the company 'employed' roughly 45,000 robots spread across 20 fulfillment centers around the country.&nbsp; </p> <p>As can be seen in the video below, the KIVA robots, a company which Amazon bought for $775 million in 2012, move product bins around the company's massive warehouses with relative ease.&nbsp; The bins are delivered by the KIVA robots on a just in time basis to human 'pickers' who grab whatever products are needed and finish the packing process before boxes are shipped off to customers.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="337" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But while they've seemingly mastered the art of moving bins around a warehouse floor with, for all essential purposes, miniature robotic forklifts,<strong> a solution to automating the simple task of picking individual items out of those bins has remained elusive.</strong>&nbsp; And, with 1,000's of very expensive, sickly and generally needy humans currently fulfilling that task, you can bet Amazon is eagerly pursuing that solution with some level of urgency.</p> <p>In fact, just this weekend, Amazon will be hosting a robotics competition with 16 teams from around the world who will get a chance to show off their robotic "picking" technology for the chance to win a share of $250,000 in prize money.&nbsp; Per <a href="">Bloomberg</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>Sixteen teams of robotics researchers are traveling to Japan this week to help Inc. solve its warehouse problem.</strong> The company has a fleet of robots that drive around its facilities gathering items for orders. But it needs humans for the last step — picking up items of various shapes, then packing the right ones into the correct boxes for shipping.<strong> It’s a classic example of an activity that’s simple, almost mindless, for humans, but still unattainable for robots. </strong>Starting Thursday, the company is running the Amazon Robotics Challenge, the third annual contest for robots that push those limits. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Both academic and commercial roboticists have been putting a lot of energy into solving what’s sometimes referred to as the “picking” challenge, and Amazon is trying to direct that energy towards its specific needs. </strong>In one part of the contest, teams fill a shelf with a random assortment of items that Amazon provides — a champagne glass, a roll of duct tape, scissors, a children’s book entitled “Robots, Robots Everywhere” — and their robots pull out specific items, packing them into boxes that represent pretend Amazon orders. In another, robots confront a jumble of items, and pack them onto shelves that resemble those in Amazon warehouses, remembering where each one went. There’s about $250,000 of prize money at stake, including $80,000 for the top prize. </p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, for a company that spent $775 million on KIVA, $250,000 in prize money is just a drop in the bucket if it helps them to identify a grad student who could potentially solve their 'picking' problem.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>Startups privately grumble that Amazon is using the contest to outsource development on the cheap.</strong> In a market where Google paid a single engineer $120 million to help develop automated vehicles, $250,000 for any usable information on automated warehouse robots basically rounds down to zero. Laboring -- even indirectly -- below the market rate for one of the world’s most valuable companies, they say, is insane.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Startups like Right Hand Robotics and Universal Logic claim that their systems are far more sophisticated than what has come out of Amazon’s challenge so far. Yaro Tenzer, a co-founder of Right Hand Robotics, is in Japan for RoboCup 2017, the conference where Amazon's contest takes place. He says he may recruit participants, but sees little reason to show off his company's techniques publicly. "The value for us is staying ahead of everyone else," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So why do it? Some participants in Amazon's contest, who are mostly grad students and academics, are looking for jobs. And while there have been complaints about Amazon’s stinginess, the rewards this year are about three times as high as past prizes. Ashley Robinson, a spokeswoman for Amazon, says the company raised the prize levels because the contest is harder than it used to be. </p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Just another 230,000 people who are about to suffer the very real world consequences of Bernie's "Fight for $15."</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="621" height="319" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Amazon Robotics Business Distribution Duct Tape E-commerce Economy Google Japan Logistics RoboCup Robot Supply chain management Technology Warehouses Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600640 at The Historical Turning-Point Has Arrived <p><em><a href="">Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,</a></em></p> <p><strong>It affects both international relations, and America&rsquo;s domestic policies...</strong></p> <p><strong><a href=""><img height="337" src="" width="600" /></a></strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>We see it all around us.&nbsp;</strong></em></span></p> <p>Regarding international relations: On June 29<sup>th</sup>, Politico bannered&nbsp;<em><strong><a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;House panel votes to force new debate on terror war&raquo;</a>, </strong></em>and reported that,<strong><em> &laquo;Congress may finally be getting fed up with war on autopilot. A powerful House committee voted unexpectedly Thursday to require Congress to debate and approve US military action in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other far-flung countries&raquo;.&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>On July 23<sup>rd</sup>, the always-insightful Wayne Madsen at Strategic Culture Foundation headlined<strong>&nbsp;&laquo;<a href="" target="_blank">The End of the &lsquo;New American Century&rsquo; Pronounced by the Pentagon&raquo;</a>, and reported that, &laquo;The days of US-led dubious &laquo;coalitions of the willing&raquo; taking unilateral military action are over&raquo;. </strong>He summarized an extremely important new study, which had been commissioned by the Obama Administration but was issued only recently (last month), titled&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;AT OUR OWN PERIL: DOD RISK ASSESSMENT IN A POST-PRIMACY WORLD&raquo;</a>, which calls for the US government to abandon unilateralism altogether, and to employ military power only in conjunction and cooperation &mdash; as&nbsp;equals&nbsp;&mdash; with a small circle of four historically long-term international allies (page 100) &laquo;the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and France are particularly active US global partners&raquo; on a global basis, but &laquo;the regional variety&raquo; of ally includes (in addition to those four) &laquo;Japan and the Republic of Korea in the Pacific, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel in the Middle East come to mind in this regard. Obviously, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Alliance is a clear example of a regionally-based entente as well&raquo;.</p> <p>In other words (page 103): <em><strong>&laquo;There is universal recognition as well that the United States and its defense establishment no longer exercise the degree of unchallenged strategic dominance enjoyed from the end of the Cold War through the immediate post-9/11 period&raquo;.</strong></em> Bullying by America (&laquo;regime-change&raquo;) is, in so many words, said to be passé &mdash; not wrong, just no longer practicable (except, perhaps, when it has the participation of those &lsquo;allies&rsquo;, such as it did in Iraq, and in Libya, and &mdash; what are they&nbsp;really&nbsp;trying to say there &mdash; other than, perhaps, what they think the new President, Trump, might be wanting them to say?).&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>For such a document to be asserting that NATO &mdash; America&rsquo;s oldest, largest, most formalized, and most clearly military, alliance &mdash; is of only &laquo;regional&raquo; military concern to the United States, comparable to the military concern that the US has regarding individual countries such as Jordan or Japan elsewhere, is a huge break away from prior US military thinking.</strong></u> It is certainly a repudiation of the Cold War conception of US military commitments and objectives. It upends them.</p> <p>This is also (whatever&nbsp;it is) <strong>a repudiation of Barack Obama&rsquo;s famously repeated assertions that all other nations except the US are &laquo;dispensable&raquo;.</strong> In the imperial view, only the imperial nation is essential; all other nations are mere vassal-states, of subordinate (if any) concern. It was always the view that imperial nations held. It might even be said to define &laquo;imperialism&raquo;. Typical from Obama was this &mdash; that imperial President&rsquo;s most thorough statement of the imperial doctrine, on 28 May 2014, to graduating cadets at West Point,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;Remarks by the President at the United States Military Academy Commencement Ceremony&raquo;</a>:</p> <p>Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth; our businesses the most innovative. Each year, we grow more energy independent. From Europe to Asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivaled in the history of nations. America continues to attract striving immigrants. The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe. And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. (Applause.) So&nbsp;the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.</p> <p><strong>But the world is changing with accelerating speed.</strong> This presents opportunity, but also new dangers. We know all too well, after 9/11, just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. Russia&rsquo;s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China&rsquo;s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago.</p> <p><strong>It will be your generation&rsquo;s task to respond to this new world. The question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead.</strong></p> <p>He was telling America&rsquo;s future military leaders that they would be waging wars for the&nbsp;only&nbsp;&laquo;indispensable nation&raquo;, against the BRICS nations, where &laquo;rising middle classes compete with us&raquo; (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), wars under the guise or cover of excuses such as &laquo;the values of our founding&raquo; and &laquo;to attract striving immigrants&raquo; and in instances such as when &laquo;masked men occupy a building in Ukraine&raquo; (<a href="" target="_blank">whom his own Administration had actually hired to execute his coup to overthrow the then-existing Russia-friendly President of Ukraine by a rabidly anti-Russia fascist regime on Russia&rsquo;s very border</a>&nbsp;&mdash; but he didn&rsquo;t mention any of that), etc.</p> <p>When Obama&rsquo;s agent who handled Ukraine told the US Ambassador in Ukraine, 23 days before the coup culminated, to appoint &laquo;Yats&raquo; to run that country after the coup would be completed, and she said there privately to that American Ambassador,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;F&mdash;k the EU!&raquo;</a>&nbsp;this was Obama&rsquo;s unilateralism,&nbsp;in the raw, not fit for public consumption but far more real than his exquisitely deceitful public words ever were. (George W. Bush had lacked such PR skill, of which Obama was a master.) And, now, this landmark military study, which his Administration had commissioned, says: It&rsquo;s over. That era is ended. The era which culminated with the regimes of George W. Bush and of Barack Obama, is now a proven disaster and&nbsp;must therefore be replaced. <em>(That it&rsquo;s a proven disaster is known to everyone except the propagandists &mdash; including &lsquo;news&rsquo;media &mdash; for America&rsquo;s Establishment; but, that America&rsquo;s military policy must be changed in accord with this recognition, is, until now,&nbsp;real&nbsp;news, to everyone.)</em></p> <p><strong>And, the evidence that the historical turning-point has arrived regarding also America&rsquo;s domestic policies, was clearly shown and explained in my article&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;Obama US Economic Recovery was America&rsquo;s Weakest&raquo;</a>;</strong> and, it was additionally placed into the broader global economic perspective by the current Chief Economist for the World Bank, Paul Romer, when he delivered a now-historic address on 5 January 2016 titled&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;The Trouble With Macroeconomics&raquo;</a>, in which he documented that (the mostly US-created, but globally regnant) macroeconomic theory itself, is a lie, and is known privately among economists to be fraudulent, though they don&rsquo;t say so in public. Bloomberg News bannered about that speech, on 18 November 2016,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">&laquo;The Rebel Economist Who Blew Up Macroeconomics&raquo;</a>, which reported that the lecture &laquo;landed among Romer&rsquo;s peers like a grenade&raquo;. Only outside of the world of professional economists does the fact that economic theory is fraudulent remain still unknown, or in any sense &laquo;news&raquo;.</p> <p><u><strong>We are living in a new world, and don&rsquo;t really know yet where it&rsquo;s going. </strong></u>The only thing that&rsquo;s clear is that the turning-point has been reached, and that we are there, right now. <strong>The turning-point is now. But where the US and the world are heading, can only barely be glimpsed. The latest landmarks, summarized here, might indicate the way forward.</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="624" height="350" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan American people of German descent Australia Barack Obama Barack Obama Bloomberg News Brazil BRICs China Congress Department of Defense ETC European Union federal government France House Committee Illinois India Iraq Israel Japan Middle East Middle East North Atlantic Treaty Organization Obama Administration Obama administration Pentagon Politics Project for the New American Century recovery Saudi Arabia Strategic Culture Foundation Ukraine United Kingdom United States United States Military Academy US government War World Bank World Bank Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600634 at The Globalist One World Currency Will Look A Lot Like Bitcoin <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Brandon Smith via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>This week the International Monetary Fund shocked some economic analysts with an announcement that America was &quot;no longer first in the world&quot; as a major economic growth engine. </strong>This stinging assertion falls exactly in line with the narrative out of the latest G20 summit; that <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">the U.S. is fading away</a> leaving the door open for countries like Germany and China to join forces and fill the power void. I wrote about this rising relationship between these two nations as well as the ongoing controlled demolition of America&#39;s economy in my article <a href="">&#39;The New World Order Will Begin With Germany And China&#39;.</a></p> <p>I find it interesting that the<strong> IMF is once again taking the lead on perpetuating the image of a failing U.S.,</strong> just as they often push for the concept of a single global currency system to replace the dollar as the world reserve. The most common faulty counter-argument I run into when outlining the globalist agenda to supplant the dollar with the Special Drawing Rights basket system is that &quot;the IMF is a U.S. government controlled organization that would never undermine U.S. authority.&quot; Obviously, the people who make this argument have been thoroughly duped.</p> <p><strong>The IMF is constantly and actively undermining America&#39;s economic position, because the IMF is NOT an American controlled organization; its loyalty is to globalism as an ideology as well as the international financiers that dominate central banking.</strong> America&#39;s supposed &quot;veto power&quot; within the IMF is incidental and meaningless &mdash; it has not stopped the IMF from chasing the replacement of the the dollar structure and forming the fiscal ties that stand as the root of what they sometimes call the &quot;global economic reset.&quot;</p> <p>To illustrate how the IMF narrative supports the globalist narrative, I suggest comparing the 2009 &quot;predictions&quot; of <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">George Soros on China replacing the U.S.</a> as the world&#39;s economic engine to the IMF&#39;s latest analysis on the decline of America.</p> <p>The IMF cares only about centralizing everything, from currency to trade to governance. If the sacrifice of the old world system (the U.S. dollar) is required to create their new world system, then that is what they will do. If you have read my article <a href="">&#39;The Federal Reserve Is A Saboteur &mdash; And The &quot;Experts&quot; Are Oblivious&#39;</a>, then you understand that the Fed is also perfectly on board with this plan for a global reset. The central bankers, regardless of the nation they happen to reside, stick together and function as agents of larger controlling organisms like the <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">Bank for International Settlements</a>.</p> <p><strong>The agenda is not really veiled in secrecy, as it has been openly admitted to on numerous occasions by globalist media outlets.</strong> Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO of PIMCO, recently praised the concept of using the <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">IMF SDR as a world currency mechanism</a> and as a means to combat &quot;the rise of populism.&quot; However, the most &quot;honest&quot; of these incidences of admission was, of course, the article <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">Get Ready For The Phoenix</a> published in the Rothschild controlled magazine The Economist in 1988; an article which announced the beginning of a new global currency mechanism using the SDR as a bridge starting in 2018.</p> <p><strong><em>I have noticed in the past month that there has been a concerted disinformation campaign on the internet attempting to debunk the article from The Economist by stating that it &quot;never really existed&quot; and is merely a product of conspiracy websites. So, I will put that claim to rest right now, permanently, by pointing out that magazine and research archives completely unrelated to &quot;<a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">conspiracy theory</a>&quot; have the Phoenix issue on record. It is undeniable &mdash; the article was indeed published by <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">The Economist</a> and does in fact exist.</em></strong></p> <p><u><em><strong>Moving on...</strong></em></u></p> <p>Critics of the notion of a single global monetary framework tend to dismiss any evidence of the plan, usually due to their poor understanding of how currencies rise and fall and a poor understanding of the current monetary climate. They will argue that the SDR basket does not have the capacity to replace the dollar and that there is no other mechanism in the world with the liquidity to do so. In other words, <em><strong>&quot;Where is this global currency going to come from?&quot;</strong></em></p> <p><strong>The fact is, it already exists, and it is right under their noses.</strong></p> <p>When The Economist wrote about a global currency being launched in 2018, they perhaps did not have a precise inkling back then on how it would come about. They do mention clearly the strategy of using the IMF&#39;s SDR as a stepping stone to that global currency, calling it the &quot;Phoenix,&quot; as an example. They also mention the decline of the U.S. as being necessary in the wake of this shift into complete centralization.</p> <p>These two events are taking place right now, with the American economy in steady and ever steeper destabilization, as well as the rise of the SDR basket as a &quot;stopgap&quot; for nations seeking to decouple from the dollar as the world reserve. But what about the currency itself? The SDR might be the framework that will reign in various nations under one nefarious economic umbrella, allowing the IMF to dictate currency exchange rates at will until their one world system can be established, but what will the average person ultimately be using as a unit of trade and how will the globalists maintain monetary subjugation over the public?</p> <p><u><strong>Cryptocurrency and the creation of blockchain technology is the answer.</strong></u></p> <p><a href=""><u><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 486px; height: 319px;" /></strong></u></a></p> <p><strong>When The Economist wrote about a global currency being initiated in 2018, they were not making a prediction, but a proclamation &mdash; a self fulfilling prophecy.</strong> This does not mean that the new currency will develop in an obvious and open way. In reality, I can&#39;t think of very many 4th generation psy-ops as clever as cryptocurrencies.</p> <p>Consider this; after 2007/2008, the weakness of globalism and economic interdependency is exposed for all the world to see. It is a sacrifice the international banks are willing to make, because through the credit and derivatives crash they can now enforce extreme monetary policies. These policies will do nothing to save the general economy, but they will jeopardize the very currency and debt frameworks of some nations, including the U.S. The stage is set for a new and even greater crisis, a crisis which will soften the public to the idea of a single world monetary system and a single economic authority.</p> <p>The massive flow of data which the globalists covet as a means of &quot;total information awareness&quot; is a double-edged sword. Sovereignty and liberty activists grow in awareness and in number and influence. Millions begin preparing to weather the potential crisis being engineered by the globalists. Methods of counteracting an economic downturn or currency implosion are fielded. Activists start bartering and buying up precious metals as a shield, and as an alternative unit of trade. The alternative market, at least the core of it, is born.</p> <p><strong>What is a power hungry cabal to do?</strong> How do they stop the natural progression of the revolution against them? Well, they don&#39;t stop it; instead, they attempt to redirect it to work for them. That is to say, they trick the liberty movement into helping them while letting us think we are poking them in the eye.</p> <p><u><strong>Enter cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. </strong></u>Bitcoin arrives seemingly from nowhere, conjured by a magical crypto-wizard by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, a label supposed to represent a person or group of people that no one has ever seen or heard from. We are simply meant to have faith that they don&#39;t work for the NSA or a similar entity. But who cares who they are, right!? It doesn&#39;t matter because bitcoin is such a work of art it is nearly infallible &mdash; the perfect countermeasure to a monetary world lorded over by the dollar and the Federal Reserve.</p> <p><strong>Numerous libertarians and anarchists collectively orgasm. </strong>They join what appears to be a grassroots effort to bring bitcoin and blockchain technology into the mainstream. They stop trading as many of their fed notes for gold and silver as before and buy digital nothings instead. To question the validity of the idea elicits dramatic displays of indignance from the bitcoin cult bordering on zealotry. The &quot;smartest guys in the room&quot; know bitcoin is the solution to everything &mdash; don&#39;t you want to be one of those guys, too? Bitcoin is the way, the truth, the life...</p> <p><strong>Some of us are unconvinced, and even rather suspicious, and with good reason. </strong>For example, the advancement of cryptocurrencies into mainstream consciousness has been helped expertly by the corporate media, which frankly, does not make sense if they are a real threat to the central banking monolith. As they say, when the real revolution happens, it will not be televised. Bitcoin is televised everywhere.</p> <p>On top of this, nearly all major international banks are ingraining blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies into their business models, including globalist foundation banks like Goldman Sachs. <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">Goldman Sachs LOVES blockchain technology</a>; they even refer to it as the &quot;new technology of trust.&quot; Just take a look at their rave reviews on how it will change the world <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p><strong>What is Goldman&#39;s favorite aspect of the blockchain and crypto? The fact that every single transaction is compiled, cataloged and tracked in the blockchain &quot;ledger.&quot;</strong></p> <p>For years, one of the major original selling points of bitcoin was that it was &quot;<a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">anonymous</a>.&quot; It always surprised me that so many people in the liberty movement bought into this scam. Surely after the revelations exposed by Edward Snowden and organizations like Wikileaks, it is utterly foolish to believe that anything in the digital world is truly &quot;anonymous.&quot; The feds have been proving <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">there is no anonymity</a>, even in bitcoin, for some time, as <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">multiple arrests</a> using <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">bitcoin tracking</a> have indeed occurred when the FBI decided it was in their interest. Meaning, when the feds want to <a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">track bitcoin transactions</a>, they can, and it does not matter how well the people involved covered their actions.</p> <p><strong>The early promise of anonymity in cryptocurrencies was a lie.</strong></p> <p>Thus, we have the reason why central bankers and international financial conglomerates are piling into bitcoin like it&#39;s the hottest tech stock on the Nasdaq. Imagine a trade system in which every single transaction is compiled and nothing is private; that is the blockchain.&nbsp; <strong>Now, anonymity might not matter much when you are dealing with regular people, but what about when you are dealing with governments with the tendency towards corruption and the power to imprison and confiscate?</strong></p> <p>The loss of all privacy in trade IS<em> </em>the next quantum leap in monetary centralization, and cryptocurrencies achieve this in spectacular fashion. Not only this, but complete loss of privacy becomes rationalized, because without &quot;transparency&quot; the blockchain does not properly function.&nbsp; This is what makes the blockchain different from all other digital trade mechanisms - with the blockchain, surveillance of transactions is no longer a violation of privacy rights, it is expected.</p> <p>While the fantasy is that crypto is about decentralization and freedom, it is actually a key to institutionalizing the opposite. I believe the incredible amount of capital being dumped into blockchain developments by major financiers and verbal support from central bankers is a signal that blockchain technology IS the basis for the currency system of the &quot;new world order.&quot;</p> <p><strong>While there is something to be said for crypto and its potential to limit fiat money, I still remain skeptical. </strong>Mainly because anyone can create a cryptocurrency out of thin air. Just look at the confusion building over bitcoin vs. ethereum; which tulip is worth more, everyone wonders? Being that crypto is not tangible and is completely based on perceived value according to perceived demand rather than real demand, I think it is fair to argue that cryptocurrencies rely entirely on hype and fad in order to maintain market strength. Not that regular fiat currencies are any better, but isn&#39;t that the point?</p> <p><u><strong>So where does it end?</strong></u> If ethereum replaces bitcoin like Facebook replaced MySpace, how is stability in any digital currency provided? Through the force of government and the backing of international banks, obviously. And whichever cryptocurrency system the bankers choose to back or create, that currency will destroy the value of all other crypto around it. Again, perception, not tangible value, rules over bitcoin and its peers, and institutional power often rules over perception.</p> <p><strong>The proclamations of The Economist of a world currency launch by 2018 are happening today, right on schedule, right in front of us. </strong>The blockchain is going to &quot;change the world;&quot; this has been excitedly announced by the very same banking elites the blockchain was supposedly engineered to defeat. <strong><em>When the next reserve currency system is established using the SDR basket as a foundation, I have no doubt it will be digital and based on the same exact tech that today&#39;s activists wrongly assume will set them free.</em></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="486" height="319" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alternative currencies Bitcoin Bitcoin bitcoin and blockchain technology Blockchain Business China Corruption Cryptocurrencies Currency Economy FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Reserve Finance Foreign exchange market G20 George Soros Germany goldman sachs Goldman Sachs International Monetary Fund International Monetary Fund International Monetary Fund LOVES blockchain technology Monetary hegemony Money NASDAQ NASDAQ 100 PIMCO Precious Metals Reality Reserve Currency Stop Trading technology of trust The Economist Transparency US Federal Reserve US government World currency Fri, 28 Jul 2017 03:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600627 at Labor Disputes In China At All-Time-High <p>As Foxconn promises to bring 10s of thousands of jobs to Wisconsin amid billions of dollars of investment in new plants,<strong> one wonders what is going on in China that makes this economic</strong> <a href=""><em>(aside from the $3 billion 'incentives')</em></a>...</p> <p>Perhaps this...</p> <p><a href="">Statista's Isabel von Kessel writes</a> that in 2016, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) in&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">China&nbsp;</a>registered <strong>1.8 million labor disputes – an increase of almost 118 percent compared to the previous year.</strong> </p> <p><a href="" title="Infographic: Labor Disputes in China at All-Time-High | Statista"><img src="" alt="Infographic: Labor Disputes in China at All-Time-High | Statista" width="600" height="428" /></a> </p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="">Statista</a></em></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Is this reason enough for local enterprises to outsource their production? </strong></em></span></p> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Taiwanese&nbsp;</a>electronics supplier for Apple, Foxconn, plans to open its first major factory in the U.S. President&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Trump</a>, who is seeking to bolster domestic manufacturing&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">welcomes this investment</a>:<strong><em> </em></strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong><em>“This is a great day for American workers and manufacturing, and for everyone who believes in the concept and the label, ‘Made in the USA.’”</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Foxconn&nbsp;</a>however, has come under massive criticism in recent years with several labor disputes arising from the company’s working conditions.</p> <p>In fact<strong>, labor disputes in general have become a major problem in China.</strong> One of the many reasons might be the insufficient mediation between employees and the management by the national All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).</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="399" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> All-China Federation of Trade Unions All-China Federation of Trade Unions Apple Business China Economy Foxcon Foxconn Labor Labor disputes Labor unrest Manufacturing Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security Fri, 28 Jul 2017 03:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600626 at Silicon Valley Censorship <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Samuel Westrop via The Gatestone Institute,</em></a></p> <ul> <li>If it is ever &quot;toxic&quot; to deem ISIS a terrorist organization, then -- regardless of whether that is the result of human bias or an under-developed algorithm -- the potential for abuse, and for widespread censorship, will always exist. The problem lies with the very concept of the idea. <em><strong>Why does Silicon Valley believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not?</strong></em></li> <li><strong>Conservative news, it seems, is considered fake news. Liberals should oppose this dogma before their own news comes under attack. </strong>Again, the most serious problem with attempting to eliminate hate speech, fake news or terrorist content by censorship is not about the efficacy of the censorship; it is the very premise that is dangerous.</li> <li>Under the guidance of faulty algorithms or prejudiced Silicon Valley programmers, when the <em>New York Times</em> starts to delete or automatically hide comments that criticize extremist clerics, or Facebook designates articles by anti-Islamist activists as &quot;fake news,&quot; Islamists will prosper and moderate Muslims will suffer.</li> </ul> <p>Google&#39;s latest project is an application called Perspective, which, as <em>Wired</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>, brings the tech company<strong><em> &quot;a step closer to its goal of helping to foster troll-free discussion online, and filtering out the abusive comments that silence vulnerable voices.&quot;</em></strong> In other words, <em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Google is teaching computers how to censor.</strong></span></em></p> <p><u><strong>If Google&#39;s plans are not quite Orwellian enough for you, the practical results are rather more frightening. </strong></u>Released in February, Perspective&#39;s partners include the <em>New York Times,</em> the <em>Guardian</em>, <em>Wikipedia</em> and the <em>Economist</em>. Google, whose motto is &quot;Do the Right Thing,&quot; is aiming its bowdlerism at public comment sections on newspaper websites, but the potential is far broader.</p> <p>Perspective works by identifying the &quot;toxicity level&quot; of comments published online. Google <a href="" target="_blank">states</a> that Perspective will enable companies to &quot;sort comments more effectively, or allow readers to more easily find relevant information.&quot; <a href="" target="_blank">Perspective&#39;s demonstration website</a> currently allows anyone to measure the &quot;toxicity&quot; of a word or phrase, according to its algorithm. What, then, constitutes a &quot;toxic&quot; comment?</p> <p>The organization with which I work, the Middle East Forum, studies Islamism. We work to tackle the threat posed by both violent and non-violent Islamism, assisted by our Muslim allies. We believe that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.</p> <p><u><strong>Perspective does not look fondly at our work:</strong></u></p> <table align="center" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 600px;"> <tbody> <tr> <td style="max-width: 600px; border: 1px solid black;"><img border="0" height="196" src="" width="600" /><br /> <p style="font-size: 82%; margin: 4px 6px;">Google&#39;s Perspective application, which is being used by major media outlets to identify the &quot;toxicity level&quot; of comments published online, has much potential for abuse and widespread censorship.</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><strong>No reasonable person could claim this is hate speech.</strong></p> <p>But the problem does not just extend to opinions. <strong>Even factual statements are deemed to have a high rate of &quot;toxicity.&quot;</strong> Google considers the statement &quot;ISIS is a terrorist group&quot; to have an 87% chance of being &quot;perceived as toxic.&quot;</p> <div style="display: block; margin-bottom: 10px;"><img border="0" height="186" src="" width="600" /></div> <p>Or 92% &quot;toxicity&quot; for stating the publicly-declared objective of the terrorist group, Hamas:</p> <div style="display: block; margin-bottom: 10px;"><img border="0" height="198" src="" width="600" /></div> <p><strong>Google is quick to remind us that we may disagree with the result. </strong>It <a href="" target="_blank">explains</a> that, &quot;It&#39;s still early days and we will get a lot of things wrong.&quot; The Perspective website even offers a &quot;Seem Wrong?&quot; button to provide feedback.</p> <p>These disclaimers, however, are very much beside the point.<em><strong> If it is ever &quot;toxic&quot; to deem ISIS a terrorist organization, then -- regardless of whether that figure is the result of human bias or an under-developed algorithm -- the potential for abuse, and for widespread censorship, will always exist.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>The problem lies with the very concept of the idea. Why does Silicon Valley believe it should decide what is valid speech and what is not?</strong></em></p> <p><u><strong>Google is not the only technology company enamored with censorship.</strong></u> In June, Facebook <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> its own plans to use artificial intelligence to identify and remove &quot;terrorist content.&quot; These measures can <a href="" target="_blank">be easily circumvented</a> by actual terrorists, and how long will it be before that same artificial intelligence is used to remove content that Facebook staff find to be politically objectionable?</p> <p>In fact, in May 2016, the &quot;news curators&quot; at Facebook <a href="" target="_blank">revealed</a> that they were ordered to &quot;suppress news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network&#39;s influential &#39;trending&#39; news section.&quot; And in December 2016, Facebook <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> it was working to &quot;address the issue of fake news and hoaxes&quot; published by its users. The <em>Washington Free Beacon</em> later <a href="" target="_blank">revealed</a> that Facebook was working with a group named Media Matters on this issue. In one of its own pitches to donors, Media Matters <a href="" target="_blank">declares</a> its dedication to fighting &quot;serial misinformers and right-wing propagandists.&quot; The leaked Media Matters document states it is working to ensure that &quot;Internet and social media platforms, like Google and Facebook, will no longer uncritically and without consequence host and enrich fake news sites and propagandists.&quot; Media Matters also <a href="" target="_blank">claims</a> to be working with Google.</p> <p><strong>Conservative news, it seems, is considered fake news. Liberals should oppose this dogma before their own news comes under attack.</strong> Again, the most serious problem with attempting to eliminate hate speech, fake news or terrorist content by censorship is not about the efficacy of the censorship; it is the very premise that is dangerous.</p> <p>Under the guidance of faulty algorithms or prejudiced Silicon Valley programmers, when the <em>New York Times</em> starts to delete or automatically hide comments that criticize extremist clerics, or Facebook designates articles by anti-Islamist activists as &quot;fake news,&quot; Islamists will prosper and moderate Muslims will suffer.</p> <p><strong>Silicon Valley has, in fact, already proven itself incapable of supporting moderate Islam.</strong> Since 2008, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has granted $330,524 to two Islamist organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamic Relief. Both these groups are <a href="" target="_blank">designated</a> terrorist organizations in the United Arab Emirates. SVCF is America&#39;s largest community foundation, with <a href="" target="_blank">assets of over $8 billion</a>. Its corporate partners <a href="" target="_blank">include</a> some of the country&#39;s biggest tech companies -- its <a href="" target="_blank">largest donation</a> was $1.5 billion from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The SVCF <em>is</em> Silicon Valley.</p> <p>In countries such as China, Silicon Valley has previously <a href="" target="_blank">collaborated</a> with the censors. At the very least, it did so because the laws of China forced it to comply. In the European Union, where freedom of expression is superseded by &quot;the reputation and rights of others&quot; and the criminalization of &quot;hate speech&quot; (even where there is no incitement to violence), Google was <a href="" target="_blank">ordered</a> to delete certain data from search results when a member of the public requests it, under Europe&#39;s &quot;right to be forgotten&quot; rules. Rightly, Google opposed the ruling, albeit unsuccessfully.</p> <p>But in the United States, where freedom of speech enjoys protections found nowhere else in the world, Google and Facebook have not been forced to introduce censorship tools. They are not at the whim of paranoid despots or unthinking bureaucrats. Instead, Silicon Valley has <em>volunteered</em> to censor, and it has enlisted the help of politically partisan organizations to do so.</p> <p><strong>This kind of behavior sends a message. Earlier this year, Facebook <a href="" target="_blank">agreed</a> to send a team of staff to Pakistan, after the government asked both Facebook and Twitter to help put a stop to &quot;blasphemous content&quot; being published on the social media websites. In Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death.</strong></p> <p>Google, Facebook and the rest of Silicon Valley are private companies. They can do with their data mostly whatever they want. The world&#39;s reliance on their near-monopoly over the exchange of information and the provision of services on the internet, however, means that mass-censorship is the inevitable corollary of technology companies&#39; efforts to regulate news and opinion.</p> <p><strong>At a time when Americans have <a href="" target="_blank">little faith</a> in the mass media, Silicon Valley is now veering in a direction that will evoke similar ire. If Americans did not trust the mass media before, what will they think once that same media is working with technology companies not just to report information Silicon Valley prefers, but to censor information it dislikes?</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="544" height="252" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alphabet Inc. anti-Islamist artificial intelligence China Computing Council on American-Islamic Relations Deception Digital media European Union European Union Facebook Fake news Fake news website Gatestone Institute Google Google Google Search Hamas Internet privacy Middle East New York Times Newspaper Propaganda techniques Silicon Valley Community Foundation Technology The Economist Twitter Twitter under-developed algorithm World Wide Web Fri, 28 Jul 2017 03:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600628 at As Opioid Crisis Rages, Federal Drug Prosecutions Hit 25-Year Low <p>Members of the legal marijuana industry, who for months have been nervously anticipating a federal crackdown led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, can breathe a sigh of relief. According to data from the Justice Department, the number of federal drug-crime prosecutions has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years, and the decline has continued to accelerate since President Donald Trump took office.</p> <p>The latest data show that federal law-enforcement agencies prosecuted fewer drug offenders over the past 12 months than at any time during the last quarter century. During the first five months of the Trump administration, <strong>only 8,814 drug offenders were prosecuted by the federal government, a drop of 9 percent as compared with the 9,687 federal criminal cases prosecuted between February and June 2016.</strong></p> <p>Prosecutions fell sharply in June on a month-to-month basis following a spike in May. Over the long term, the six-month average has been declining slowly since 2003.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong>During the month of June 2017, only 1,578 new prosecutions for drug crimes were brought - down 16.1 percent from the number in May.</strong> And prosecutions over the past year are even lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that drug prosecutions in U.S. district courts are down 27.6 percent from levels reported in 2012.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 253px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>According to the report, most (75.8%) federal drug prosecutions involve trafficking charges, while another 21.8% are related to organized crime.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong>So far during the first nine months of FY 2017, about 1 in 5 cases (21.8%) were the result of organized crime task force efforts. </strong>An additional three out of four (75.8%) fell under drug trafficking programs, while simple drug possession was the nature of the offense in the remaining 2.5 percent of cases.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lead investigative agency for the largest number of prosecutions so far during FY 2017 was the Drug Enforcement Administration. <strong>It was the lead investigative agency in nearly four out every ten (38.9%) federal criminal prosecutions filed.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>If the decline continues at the current rate, the US is on track to see a sharp drop in the number of per-capita prosecutions in 2017.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;During FY 2016 the Justice Department said the government obtained 68.9 narcotics/drugs prosecutions for every one million people in the United States. <strong>If pace during the first nine months of FY 2017 continues at the same rate, narcotics/drugs prosecutions for one million people in the United States this year will be 65.3.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>While the long-term trend appears to ignore the worsening opioid epidemic, some of the largest year-over-year increases occurred in regions where opioid abuse has surged since the beginning of the decade. The Northern District of West Virginia, a state with the largest number of opioid prescriptions written per capita, saw the largest year-over-year increase. Over the past five years, Wyoming saw the largest increase n prosecutions, up 242%. The district with the largest projected drop in the rate of prosecutions was New Mexico, with 30%.</p> <p>The most-active district is unsurprisingly situated along the US-Mexico border. <strong>The Southern District of California, which encompasses San Diego, saw 453.6 prosecutions per million people last year, while the District of Arizona ranked second. &nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Sessions has insisted that stepped up enforcement of drug laws is essential to combating the worsening opioid abuse crisis, but the decline&nbsp; But the decline in prosecutions suggests that law enforcement agencies have been somehow less active in targeting high-level drug offenders, even as overdose deaths rise to all-time highs thanks to powerful synthetic opioids that have penetrated the markets for heroin, cocaine and even prescription pills. Given the high stakes, and the actions against drug manufacturers recetly ataken by a nmber of states&#39; attorneys general, the decline in prosecutions at the federal level makes little sense.</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="772" height="539" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Counterculture Counterculture of the 1960s Department of Justice Donald Trump Drug control law Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Enforcement Administration Drug policy federal government Government Law Law Mexico Opioid epidemic Prohibition of drugs Social conflict Social Issues Trump Administration West Virginia Fri, 28 Jul 2017 02:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600635 at Senate Releases Full Text Of "Skinny" Obamacare Repeal Bill, Vote Expected After Midnight <p>With the Senate healthcare vote expected sometime between midnight and 2am, moments ago the full text of the Senate "Skinny" bill which may or may not pass, has been released. Here is the summary version of what is hereby known as the "<strong><em>The Health Care Freedom Act</em></strong>":</p> <ul> <li><strong>REPEAL THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE </strong>— Obamacare's individual mandate forced the American people to purchase insurance they frequently didn't want, couldn't afford or actually use. This plan permanently protects Americans from this onerous mandate.</li> <li><strong>REPEAL THE EMPLOYER MANDATE </strong>— Obamacare's employer mandate too often forced job creators to forgo hiring new workers or keep an employee's hours low. This anti-jobs mandate is repealed for eight years, which provides employers a greater incentive to hire more employees.</li> <li><strong>PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY TO STATES (1332 WAIVERS)— </strong>States can access additional flexibility to use waivers that exist in current law to provide more options for consumers to buy the health insurance they want. It also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to approve waivers faster.</li> <li><strong>INCREASE HSA CONTRIBUTIONS </strong>— Increase contribution limits to tax-free Health Savings Accounts for three years to help pay for out-of-pocket health costs and expensive prescription medications.</li> <li><strong>REPEAL THE MEDICAL DEVICE TAX </strong>— Both Democrats and Republicans have opposed this tax on medical innovation. The legislation repeals this tax for three years.</li> <li><strong>FUND COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS </strong>— Prioritize health funding for Community Health Centers across the country.</li> </ul> <p>The full bill also includes a provision for defunding Planned Parenthood, which is the reason for the community health center language.</p> <p>As the NYT <a href="">reports</a>, after three days of debate, Republican leaders had little to show for it and were struggling to devise even a stripped-down plan on which at least 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans could agree. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was doing whatever he could to secure votes and win Senate approval on Friday for a bill that would repeal at least a few provisions of the Affordable Care Act. That raised the spectacle of senators pressed by their leaders to vote on legislation that some of them despise, with a promise that a “yes” would not really be approval, just a vote to start House-Senate negotiations on something better.</p> <p>Senators Lindsey Graham South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, all Republicans, simply demanded ironclad assurances from House leaders that the bill would not be enacted.</p> <p>“I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done,” Mr. Graham said, calling the stripped-down bill a “disaster” and a “fraud” as a replacement for the health law. </p> <p>Five GOP senators,&nbsp; Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), David Perdue (Ga.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), spoke with Ryan via phone in Sen. John Cornyn's leadership office outside of the Senate floor.&nbsp; </p> <p>"Yes, he said, listen why would we want to own a bill that increases premiums and doesn't fix ObamaCare — that's all I wanted to hear from him," <a href="">Graham told reporters </a>when asked if Ryan guaranteed the House wouldn't pass a paired down Senate repeal bill.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Pressed if he would vote "yes" on the Senate GOP healthcare bill after his conversation with Ryan, Graham said he would. Johnson added that "of course" the talk with Ryan was enough to assuage his concerns.&nbsp; "We just wanted to hear it right from Paul. ... We got that assurance. He said we could tell you — this is going to go to conference," the conservative GOP senator said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Johnson added that any bill that passes the Senate "will not pass the House. This will go to conference. ... That's what we got." Johnson and Graham, as well as GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and John McCain (Ariz.),&nbsp; warned earlier Thursday that they could not support moving forward with a "skinny" repeal bill until they got a guarantee that the House would not leapfrog a conference with Senate and pass the bill. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Paul issued a statement saying the House was "willing" to go to conference on the healthcare bills, but that it was up to Senate Republicans to first show they could pass a bill.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>McCain told reporters while heading into the Senate chamber for a pair of votes that Ryan's statement wasn't sufficient. He then appeared to walk that back slightly, telling Bloomberg that he declined to say how he would vote, saying he wanted to talk to his state's governor.</p> </blockquote> <p>Earlier, Sen, Shelley Moore Capito told reporters while leaving the GOP caucus room that she "didn't know how to interpret" Ryan's statement. </p> <p>Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will need 50 of 52 GOP senators to support the "skinny" repeal proposal, which he unveiled on the Senate floor on Thursday night</p> <p>Some further observations on the bill from Politico's Burgess Everett (via Twitter):</p> <ul> <li>McConnell says the bill "restores freedom to Americans, that Obamacare took away."</li> <li>McConnell is selling the skinny bill as good policy and also as a path to conference.</li> <li>This bill was not designed for Collins and Murkowski, so GOP looking for everyone that voted to open debate to support the skinny bill.</li> <li>Murphy: "This is nuclear grade bonkers what is happening here"</li> </ul> <p>Some more from NBC's Frank Thorp (via Twitter):</p> <ul> <li>Sen Rounds on mtg with @SpeakerRyan: "He acknowledged that this particular bill was designed to get us to conference..."</li> <li>More Rounds: "(@SpeakerRyan) said we will bring it to conference. And we asked, can we say that publicly, and he said, yes."</li> <li>Sen Rounds: "(Speaker Ryan) has given us about as good of an assurance as you can get that he intends to send this to conference."</li> <li>The vote series including the vote on the 'skinny repeal' bill is expected to happen around midnight tonight.</li> </ul> <p>Having been written off earlier, it increasingly looks as if the bill may just have enough support to pass, with the tie-breaking vote from Mike Pence who is expected to be present for a potential vote later.</p> <p><em>The full text of the pared-down "skinny bill" is below (<a href="">link</a>):</em></p> <p><iframe src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-XNozvsaT5L3y5fyc3DbB&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></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="840" height="526" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 111th United States Congress 115th United States Congress American Health Care Act Barack Obama Department of Health and Human Services Efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Excises Internal Revenue Code Internal Revenue Service John McCain John McCain Labor Mitch McConnell Obamacare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Politics Presidency of Barack Obama Republican Party Senate Social Issues Sons of the American Revolution South Carolina Statutory law Ted Cruz Twitter Twitter United States Fri, 28 Jul 2017 02:25:36 +0000 Tyler Durden 600644 at One Chart Shows The Awful Fiscal Trajectory Of Chicago Area And Illinois <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Mark Glennon via,</em></a></p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;Net position&rdquo;</em> is the government accounting term used for a balance sheet snapshot.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 461px;" /></a></p> <p><em>The chart shows net positions, in billions, for each of the last ten year ends, taken from the most recent CAFR, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, for Illinois, the City of Chicago (which are plotted on the right axis) and for Chicago&rsquo;s two largest overlapping units of government, Cook County and the Chicago Public School District (which are plotted on the left).</em></p> <p>Some of the drop in net position results from changes in pension assumptions and restatements resulting from changes in accounting standards. In particular, the drops from 2014 to 2015 are due largely to restatements based on new government accounting standards for pensions.</p> <p><strong>However, that doesn&rsquo;t mean those losses should be disregarded.</strong> New assumptions and standards represent an admission that prior ones weren&rsquo;t fairly representing financial condition.</p> <p>Had the new standards been in place earlier, the losses would only have been pushed back into earlier years.</p> <p><u><strong>Aside from the terrifying trend, the chart also exposes the silliness of &ldquo;balanced budget&rdquo; claims. </strong></u></p> <p>All these units of government, to my knowledge, operated under budgets they claimed were balanced in each of these years (except the State of Illinois for 2016, during which it had no budget).</p> <p>I asked Bill Bergman of <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Truth in Accounting</a> for his reaction to the chart:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>It&rsquo;s fun, or sad and scary, or all of the above, to consider what this means for a citizen of the City of Chicago. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That person is not only a citizen of the City of Chicago, but is <strong>also impacted by the financials of the Chicago Public Schools, Cook County, and the State of Illinois.&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adding things up, back in 2007, he was being told that things were basically flat.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The latest aggregate net position came to over $250 billion &mdash; negative.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s a lot of dough.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Importantly, he added, <em><strong>&ldquo;The accounting changes aren&rsquo;t over.&nbsp; We have yet to recognize retiree health care and other retirement benefits on the balance sheet, for example. We have a lot of ditch-digging ahead of us.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p><em>Here&rsquo;s a promise: The trend will continue. Recent tax increases will have little impact. Only drastic policy reversals, which aren&rsquo;t in the cards with this General Assembly, would turn this around.</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="666" height="512" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Accounting Balance sheet Business economics Chicago Public School District Comprehensive annual financial report Economy Financial reporting Financial statement General Assembly Government Accountability Office Illinois Political corruption Social Issues Truth in Accounting United States administrative law United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Fri, 28 Jul 2017 02:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600637 at