en Why Bond Traders Have Never Been More Confused: "The Rates Market Is Sending Diametrically Opposite Messages" <p>Last weekend, as Deutsche Bank's derivatives strategist <a href="">Aleksandar Kocic was looking</a> at the spread between the short and long end of the curve, and while contemplating the lack of market volatility, he concluded that "given where long rates are, Fed appears as overly hawkish <strong>– it has only two more hikes to go and, for volatility and risk premia to reprice higher, the gap has to widen. </strong>As is appears unlikely that the Fed will be cutting rates any time soon, the gap could widen only if the Long rates sell off." In practical terms - if only for bond traders - this meant that "for anything to happen, 5Y5Y sector has to move higher", however the $6.4 trillion question is whether this sell off in long rates will be violent or controlled. As Kocic concluded, <strong>"This is the catalyst for everything." </strong></p> <p>In other words, those lamenting the pervasive complacency and the ubiquitous lack of volatility in the market, may not have much more to wait: after just two more rate hikes, absent a parallel move wider across the rest of the curve, the Fed's "breathing space" will collapse, and Yellen, or rather her successor, will lost control of both vol markets and long-dated yields, as the Fed effectively hikes into a self-made recession, where it itself inverts the yield curve. That would be a problem. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="262" /></a></p> <p>Incidentally, among Wall Street's rates and derivatives strateigsts, the mixed - and polar opposite - signals being sent by the rates market has been all the rage in recent weeks, and everyone is eager to explain what happens next. For those who are unfamiliar, the conflicting dynamic sent by the bond curve is that "<strong>while the short end is optimistic, the long end has never been more pessimistic"</strong>, in the words of BofA's rates strategist Shyam Rajan. And yet, in a paradoxical feedback loop, rarely has the near term meant more to the long term than today.</p> <p>Here is how Rajan summarizes the "two-faced rates market", in which the 2s10s is so flat it is a clear warning that all else equal, <a href="">a recession is approaching</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>The rates market is sending diametrically opposite messages over the last few weeks</strong>. <strong>The front of the curve is increasingly confident about a Fed that will hike not only in December but at-least two more times next year. But, the flattening in the intermediate to long end of the curve is sending a clear end of business cycle message</strong>. </p> </blockquote> <p>To say the least this is painfully confusing, because while the two can be squared off with a "hawkish policy mistake" message, "<strong>such an interpretation would not be consistent with the stock market reaching new highs or the dollar largely moving sideways this month</strong>" according to Rajan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="505" height="268" /></a></p> <p>It's not just equities whose all time highs make no sense in light of this paradox: There is another notable problem with these divergent views about the future sent by the yield curve:&nbsp; </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The problem with this disconnect in our view, is that rarely has the longer term outlook been more dependent on the short term - <strong>in fact, the next three months will provide us clarity </strong>on 1) The ability of Congress to muster the votes on the budget resolution and the possible tax reform bill 2) The outcome of the looming government shutdown on Dec 8 - and the possible leverage used by both the President and the Democrats over this key event risk 3) The geopolitical tension between US and North Korea aka the outcome of the <a href="">key game of chicken outlined in this Cause and Effect</a>.</p> </blockquote> <p>The silver lining is that all of the above triggers - which are all critical regimes changers - will be unveiled soon enough:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Unlike economic data which has only a near term impact, the above three all have the potential to be regime switchers <strong>- tax reform moves us from a low r* to possibly higher r* world, geopolitics from low vol to high vol, and government shutdown from partisan politics to bipartisanship</strong>. Ultimately, <strong>we find it hard to believe that a Fed that is closer to its "perceived" neutral rate would hike several times before having some evidence that the neutral rate itself or inflation is going higher.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="189" /></a></p> </blockquote> <p>... Unless of course, the Fed is no longer concerned about the economic consequences from its actions, but merely eager to burst the stock market bubble, in which case should Yellen (or Powell, or Warsh, or Taylor) keep hiking until it inverts the curve, volatility is set to explode. </p> <p>Which, incidentally, brings us to the latest note from DB's derivatives expert, Aleks Kocic, who picks up on his note from last week, which as we pointed out last week highlighted that the Fed has 2 (at most 3) more rate hikes before it loses control. In logical continuation, Kocic asks "<strong>How much more can the curve flatten?"</strong> Here is his answer:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Although economic and political reality has not been lacking in excitement, the underlying uncertainties do not seem to convert into market volatility. Depressed long rates remain hostage to the long-term secular trends like demographics, global demand and potential growth, which is constricting the maneuvering space and gradually extinguishing risk premia across all market sectors<strong>. In rates, the playground defined by the gap between the long rate and near-term Fed expectations has shrunk to about 60bp</strong>. <strong>This means that there is room to price only two more hikes beyond what is already in the curve</strong>. The tightness of this gap is a function of the risk distribution which is forcing a gradual, but persistent, Fed. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In our view, <strong>the only way volatility and risk premia can return to the markets is if long rates sell off and free some room for the rest of the curve to start moving</strong>. The figure shows the history of the long rate and short term Fed expectations (Target or the Shadow rate) as extracted by our affine model. The long rate defines the upper bound for rate hikes."</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="337" /></a></p> <p>Kocic concludes that exceeding this boundary "leads to unsustainable inversions of the curve. By hiking beyond long rates, Fed would stifle growth and reduce inflation expectations which would encourage the savings rate and withdraw consumption and investment." In short, the Fed could - and maybe would - cause a recession:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p> Overly flat or inverted curve inhibits credit disintermediation and generally inspires forces that go against it. Investors are incentivized to borrow (and therefore pay) long term and deposit short term and receive higher rate,which tends to steepen the curve. In addition, in flat curve environment, lenders are reluctant to engage which would widen the spreads. In response, either the Fed cuts rates as a stimulus, or the curve itself bear steepens</p> </blockquote> <p>Which, in turn, goes back to what we wrote over a month ago <a href="">when we described what the real "$2.5 Trillion Question</a>" is:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Is the Fed now actively seeking to launch the next recession (under president Donald Trump no less)? Perversely, it would make a lot of sense: <strong>with the business cycle now broken as a result of so much undue implicit reliance on asset prices, all of which are in a bubble - something which the Fed also understands - it would be beautifully symmetric that the same agent, the US Federal Reserve, that broke the business cycle and unleashed one of the longest, if artificial and on the back of trillions in central bank liquidity, economic expansion is now eager (and hoping) to be the catalyst for the next recession. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Or said simply, is the Fed now eager to accelerate the next economic recession in order to undo its own damage to a business cycle which has forgotten there should also be a contraction?</p> </blockquote> <p>One month later, this remains the real $2.5 trillion question. No wonder everyone, not just bond traders, is so confused... </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="790" height="381" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 2s10s 2s10s 2s10s. Bond Business Business cycle Congress Demographics Donald Trump Economics Economy Federal Reserve Fixed income Investment Macroeconomics North Korea Reality Recession Recession Savings Rate Unemployment US Federal Reserve Volatility Warsh Yield Curve Yield curve Sat, 21 Oct 2017 19:07:07 +0000 Tyler Durden 605746 at 450,000 Take To Barcelona's Streets, Led By Catalan Separatist President, Chanting "Time To Declare Independence" <p>With Spain officially <a href="">pulling the trigger on Article 155</a>, and activating the Spanish Constitutional "nuclear option" this morning, when PM Rajoy said he would seize control of the Catalan government, fire everyone and force new elections in six months, attention has shifted to the Catalan response. And as we waited for the official statement by Catalan separatist president Carles Puigdemont, expected at 9pm local time, we found him taking to the streets, where he led hundreds of thousands of independence supporters in protest around Barcelona on Saturday, shouting "freedom" and "independence" following the stunning news from Madrid earlier on Saturday. </p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="420" /></p> <p>The protest in the center of the Catalan capital had initially been called to push for the release of the leaders of two hugely influential grassroots independence organisations, accused of sedition and jailed pending further investigation. <strong>But it took on an even angrier tone after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced his government would move to dismiss the region's separatist government, take control of its ministries and call fresh elections in Catalonia.</strong></p> <p>According to municipal police, over 450,000 people rallied on Barcelona's expansive Paseo de Gracia boulevard, spilling over on to nearby streets, many holding Catalonia's yellow, red and blue Estelada separatist flag.</p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="333" /></p> <p><em>Catalan regional vice-president Oriol Junqueras and Catalan regional president </em><br /><em>Carles Puigdemont attend a demonstration on October 21, 2017 in Barcelona </em></p> <p>Protesters greeted Puigdemont's arrival at the rally with shouts of<br /> "President, President." The rest of his executive was also there.</p> <p>For at least some locals, the time to split from Spain has come: <strong>"It's time to declare independence," </strong>said Jordi Balta, a 28-year-old stationery shop <a href="">employee quoted by AFP</a>, adding there was no longer any room for dialogue.</p> <p>Others disgree: "The Catalans are completely disconnected from Spanish institutions, and particularly anything to do with the Spanish state," said Ramon Millol, a 45-year-old mechanic.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Meritxell Agut, a 22-year-old bank worker, said she was "completely outraged and really sad." "They can destroy the government, they can destroy everything they want but we'll keep on fighting."</p> </blockquote> <p>Catalonia is roughly split down the middle on independence, but residents cherish the autonomy of the wealthy, northeastern region, which saw its powers taken away under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Which is why, as many have warned, <strong>Madrid's move could anger even those against independence.</strong></p> <p>Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau, who <strong>opposes </strong>the independence drive, tweeted: "<strong>Rajoy has suspended the self-government of Catalonia for which so many people fought. A serious attack on the rights and freedoms of everyone."</strong></p> <p><strong><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="333" /></a><br /></strong></p> <p>Meanwhile, the anger keeps rising: as a police helicopter hovered above, protesters booed and gave it the finger. "I wish they would just go," said Balta, looking up at the sky.</p> <p>The Spanish government's proposed measures still have to be approved by the Senate. But the upper house is majority-controlled by Rajoy's ruling Popular Party and he has secured the support of other major parties, meaning they will almost certainly go through.</p> <p><strong>Puigdemont is expected to make a statement at 9 p.m. </strong>For Catalonia, and Spain, it will - literally - mean the difference between independence and remaining part of Spain. It could also mean the difference between peace and a violent crackdown by Madrid on what it has seen since day one as an illegal independence process. For the Catalan leader, the stakes are huge:&nbsp; <strong>El Pais reported Puigdemont faces a charge of sedition, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if he formally declares independence or tries to change the Spanish constitution.</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="800" height="431" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Autonomous communities of Spain Carles Puigdemont Catalan government Catalan independence movement Catalonia Estelada Generalitat de Catalunya Mariano Rajoy Operation Anubis Oriol Junqueras Politics Politics of Catalonia Popular Party Senate Spanish constitutional crisis Spanish government Sat, 21 Oct 2017 18:28:43 +0000 Tyler Durden 605744 at Bearish Fund Traders Head For Early Hibernation <p><strong>&#39;Speculators&#39; have never been so confidently complacent that &#39;all is well&#39;. </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="314" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Speculative positioning in VIX futures and options remains at its most short in history as traders refuse to back away from &#39;what works&#39; as <strong>realized volatility collapses to its lowest in over 60 years...</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 392px;" /></a></p> <p><a href="">And as Dana Lyons notes</a>, <strong>assets in mutual funds designed to rise when stocks fall have dropped to an all-time low.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 599px; height: 321px;" /></a></p> <p>In the Northern hemisphere here, bears typically begin their hibernation stage in November-December. However,<strong> that process has begun early this year for some bears on Wall Street. </strong>Specifically, traders of the Guggenheim (formerly Rydex) group of inverse mutual funds are showing very little sign of life at the moment. We say that due to the fact that assets in such funds have shrunk to their lowest level in history.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 396px;" /></a></p> <p>We&rsquo;ve covered this data on multiple occasions in the past, as we have found it to be a helpful read on investor sentiment. Unfortunately (perhaps) for bulls right now, this data, like most sentiment related indicators, has worked best in a contrarian manner. From a TLS post last March, this section is still applicable:</p> <p><strong>Inverse funds, or bear funds, are of course designed to rise when stocks fall. </strong>Rydex originally introduced these funds for active traders to utilize in playing the downside in the stock market, or hedging. Like most sentiment measures, assets in these bear funds typically hit contrary extremes at turning points in the market, i.e., assets soar near market bottoms and plunge at tops. <i>(Note: for purposes of this study, we are using the combined assets of the most popular 1X and 2X inverse S&amp;P 500, Nasdaq 100 and Russell 2000 funds).</i></p> <p>Now, as anyone familiar with the topic knows, mutual fund assets, in general, have been in a structural decline for about 10 years coinciding with the proliferation of ETF&rsquo;s. Even so, the level in bull and bear assets have continued to cycle within shorter time frames with the ebbs and flows of the market.</p> <p>For example, during the 2015-2016 stock market decline, bearish assets jumped from an all-time low around $126 million near the May 2015 top to nearly $500 near the February 2016 market low. Therefore, while mutual fund assets are in a structural decline, in general, their current all-time low level around $111 million should still be considered an extreme relative to the recent period.</p> <p><strong>That said, we will say the new low does not automatically suggest <i>the</i> top must be at hand. For one, given the fact that the market is at or near all-time highs, we shouldn&rsquo;t be surprised that bear assets are at an all-time low. In fact, we should rather expect it. That is how sentiment-based flows work. Furthermore, there is no law saying bearish fund assets can&rsquo;t go even lower, i.e., the extreme can get more extreme. In that last cycle, bearish assets dropped to a new low in early December 2014 but did not bottom out (along with the stock market top) for another 5 months.</strong></p> <p>Perhaps the best takeaway of this data point is as a measurement of <i>potential risk</i>. That is how we often like to think of sentiment indicators. In other words, if the stock market were to experience a selloff, how much potential downside might there be? Of course, there are countless factors that go into such a consideration; however, the potential risk based just on this <i>bearish fund asset</i> indicator is substantial. If, for example, assets were to simply mean revert close to that $500, or even $400, million mark, odds are very good that the move would be associated with a significant pullback in stocks. Considering how low assets are now, it would likely take either a serious and/or extended decline to spur the accumulation of so many bearish fund assets.</p> <p>In summary, we are not calling for the end of the rally based on this indicator of bearish fund assets. Sentiment is not a timing tool and the indicator can get even more extreme in its scarcity. However, <strong>we would consider it a sign of significant <i>potential </i>risk should the market turn lower given the traders&rsquo; lack of hedging and ability to withstand much downside currently.</strong></p> <p><i>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</i></p> <p><i>This is a free look at the &ldquo;all-access&rdquo; versions of our charts and research that we post daily (among much more) on our new site, <a data-rapid_p="19" href=";t=YzFiZmM2Njk1MjU4MTI1NzY0MzhjNTk5NDNhMjVjMTNjOWM2MDQ4NyxwWHB2Q3JwcA%3D%3D&amp;b=t%3AiVABxSjy5YaHIczRO2xAuw&amp;;m=0" target="_blank">The Lyons Share.</a> TLS is currently running a 30th anniversary <a data-rapid_p="20" href=";t=NTQyMDBmNmZhOTQyYTY1MmIxNzczYmIwMGNiNTYyMmNhYzJlNWFkMSxwWHB2Q3JwcA%3D%3D&amp;b=t%3AiVABxSjy5YaHIczRO2xAuw&amp;;m=0" target="_blank">1987 Crash Commemoration SALE</a>, offering a discount of 22.6%, or the equivalent of the Dow&rsquo;s 1-day drop 30 years ago. The SALE ends October 22 so considering the discounted cost and a potentially frothy market climate, there has never been a better time to reap the benefits of our risk-managed approach. Thanks for reading!</i></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="407" height="218" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Behavioral finance Business Capitalism Dow 30 Economic history of the Netherlands Economy Finance Financial markets Investor Sentiment Market sentiment Money NASDAQ Nasdaq 100 NASDAQ 100 Options strategy Russell 2000 Russell 2000 Rydex S&P 500 Short Stock market VIX Volatility Sat, 21 Oct 2017 17:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 605743 at Bannon Blasts "Embrarrassing" Bush, Slams Silicon Valley's "Lords Of Technology" <p>Freed of any need to be marginally politically-correct, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon took his fight to the Republican establishment during a speech to a capacity crowd at an almost oxymoronic California Republican Party convention.</p> <p>The ubiquitous protesters were there...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="440" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>But were kept behind steel barricades on a plaza across an entrance road at the hotel and no arrests were made, as <strong>Bannon blasted former President George W. Bush for &#39;embarrassing himself&#39; for his comments suggesting a Trump America led to &#39;nativism&#39; and &#39;casual cruelty.&#39;</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Bannon said<strong> Bush has no idea whether &ldquo;he is coming or going, just like it was when he was president.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><strong>&ldquo;There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush&rsquo;s,&rdquo; </strong>Bannon added, as boos could be heard in the crowd at the mention of Bush&rsquo;s name.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=";utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_medium=AP">As AP reports,</a> the remarks came during a <strong>speech thick with attacks on the Washington status quo, echoing his call for an &ldquo;open revolt&rdquo; against establishment Republicans.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="313" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>He called<strong> the &ldquo;permanent political class&rdquo; one of the great dangers faced by the country.</strong></p> <p>Bannon said that while <strong>John Mccain &#39;deserves our respect, as a politician, he&#39;s just another Senator from Arizona.&#39;</strong></p> <p>Bannon also took aim at the Silicon Valley and its &#39;lords of technology,&#39; predicting that <strong>tech leaders and progressives in the state would try to secede from the union in 10 to 15 years. He called the threat to break up the nation a &#39;living problem.&#39;</strong></p> <p>Bannon also argued that the coalition that sent Trump to the White House, including conservatives, Libertarians, populists, economic nationalists, evangelicals, could hold power for decades if they stay unified.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;If you have the wisdom, the strength, the tenacity, to hold that coalition together, we will govern for 50 to 75 years,&rdquo; </strong>he said.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>He also tried to cheer long-suffering California Republicans, in a state that Trump lost by over 4 million votes and where Republicans have become largely irrelevant in state politics.</strong></p> <p>In Orange County, where the convention was held, several Republican House members are trying to hold onto their seats in districts carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&#39;You&#39;ve got everything you need to win,&#39; he told them.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>He ended his speech with a standing ovation.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 361px;" /></a></p> <p>Bannon is promoting a field of primary challengers to take on incumbent Republicans in Congress. But in California, the GOP has been fading for years. <strong>Republicans are now a minor party in many California congressional districts, </strong>outnumbered by Democrats and independents. Statewide, Democrats count 3.7 million more voters than the GOP.</p> <p><strong>Not all Republicans were glad to see Bannon though</strong>. In a series of tweets last week, former state Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes said he was shocked by the decision to have the conservative firebrand headline the event.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a huge step backward and demonstrates that the party remains tone deaf,&rdquo; </strong>Mayes tweeted.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=";utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_medium=AP">As AP concluded,</a> California Republicans have bickered for years over what direction to turn - toward the political center or to the right.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 604px;" /></a></p> <p><em><strong>&#39;Steve Bannon is a natural fit for a party that is hungry for a revolution, and the party in California is definitely hungry for a revolution,&#39; </strong></em>former Orange County Republican leader Scott Baugh said.</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="808" height="421" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bannon California Republican Party House John McCain Politics Republican Party Republican Party Steve Bannon United States White House Sat, 21 Oct 2017 17:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 605740 at Are You Infuriated Yet? <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Chris Martenson via,</em></a></p> <div class="content clearfix"> <p><strong>More and more, I&#39;m encountering people who are simply infuriated with how our &quot;leaders&quot; are running (or to put it more accurately, ruining) things right now. And I share that fury.</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s perfectly normal human response to be infuriated when an outside agent hurts you, especially if the pain seems unnecessary, illogical or random.</p> <p>Imagine if your neighbor enjoyed setting off loud explosives at all hours of the day and night. Or if he had a habit of tailgating and brake-checking you every time he saw your car on the road. You&rsquo;d been well within your rights to be infuriated.</p> <p>Or to use a much more common example from the real world : <strong><em>When your politicians repeatedly pass laws that hurt you in favor of large corporations -- that, too, is infuriating. Especially if those actions run directly counter to their campaign promises.</em></strong></p> <p>There&rsquo;s a lot of be infuriated about in the world today, so go ahead and embrace your rage. By doing so, you&rsquo;ll be in a better mindset to understand things like Brexit, Catalonia, and Trump, each of which is a reflection of the fury of your fellow citizens, who are finally waking up to the fact that they&#39;ve been victims for too long.</p> <p><strong>An easy prediction to make is that this simmering anger of the populace is going to start boiling over more violently in the coming years. Welcome to the Age of Fury.</strong></p> <h2><strong><u>&#39;Over The Top&#39; Dumb</u></strong></h2> <p><em><strong>Do you ever get the sense that, as a society, we&#39;re being dangerously reckless? Perhaps so dumb that we might not recover from the repercussions of our stupidity for many generations, if ever?</strong></em></p> <p>There are economic and financial idiocies in motion that are, by themselves, unsolvable predicaments without a peaceful solution. But when combined with resource depletion and declining net energy, they&#39;re positively intractable.</p> <p>Take for example the hundreds of trillions of dollars-worth of underfunded entitlement and pension promises. Those promises cannot be kept and they cannot be paid. Everybody with a basic comprehension of math can conclude as such.</p> <p>Yet we continue to operate as if the opposite were true. We comfort ourselves that, somehow, all the promised future payouts will be made in full -- even though the funds are insolvent, their returns are much lower than the actuarial projections require, and payout demand mercilessly rises each year.</p> <p><strong>Spoiler alert: This isn&rsquo;t some future disaster lying in wait. It&rsquo;s unfolding right now.</strong></p> <p>Take these headlines spanning the past several years:</p> <ul> <li style="line-height: 19.5px;"><a href="">Congress approves plan to allow pension cuts</a>&nbsp;(Dec 2014)</li> <li><a href="">273,000 union workers and retirees brace for pension cuts</a> (May 2, 2016)</li> <li><a href="">In unprecedented move, pension plan cuts benefits promised to retirees</a>&nbsp;(Jan 27, 2017)&nbsp; -- note the laughable use of &quot;unprecedented&quot; here</li> <li><a href="">Teamsters face 31 percent pension cut</a> (Mar 7, 2017)</li> <li><a href="">New York State Teamsters pension fund cuts approved </a>(Sept 13, 2017)</li> </ul> <p>When it comes to broken retirement promises, the future is now. It will be with us for a very long time.</p> <p><strong>Why? Because the math simply doesn&rsquo;t work. It&rsquo;s broken, it&rsquo;s been broken for a long time. You can&#39;t put too little in the piggy bank at the start, then raid it over time, and still expect to have enough at the end.</strong></p> <p>And yet we, as a society, have preferred to pretend as if that weren&rsquo;t the case. Which, it turns out, was a terrible &ldquo;strategy.&rdquo;</p> <p>But if you think that&#39;s bad, you&rsquo;re going to positively hate this chart:</p> <p class="rtecenter"><img alt="S&amp;P 500 chart" src="" style="height: 432px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p>The pension liabilities now blowing up are contained within the thin green smear in the middle of this chart. Think on the nation&#39;s inability to handle that single crisis, and now reflect on how overwhelmed it&#39;s going to be by the far larger predicaments that lie elsewhere on the chart.</p> <h2><u>The Infuriating Plunder-fest That Is Health Care</u></h2> <p>The Medicare liabilities (the orange and largest band on the above chart) are immense, and will only become more so as our largest demographic, the baby boomers, further ages. But they become especially infuriating when seen in the larger context of the racketeering that drives the health care system in the United States.</p> <p>Instead of doing anything constructive about the high number of IOUs building up within Medicare, Washington DC politicians are sidestepping the most obvious elements that contribute the most to the problem. Enormously wasteful, the &ldquo;healthcare&rdquo; system is entirely out of control and spiraling deeper into an abyss that threatens to literally destroy the most productive segment of the US social structure: the middle and upper middle classes.</p> <p><strong>That should be a topic of serious discussion in the halls of power. But none is being had.</strong></p> <p>Literally each day brings worse news on the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. But, as with most topics,&nbsp; the media mostly focuses on the symptoms (prices) rather than the causes of the issue.</p> <p>The real culprits here are the insurance cartel and a hospital system that has the most unfair, incomprehensible, and inhumane billing process ever devised. One easy to grasp feature of both the insurance companies and conspire to pay the executives far more than they actually deserve or are truly worth.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Health care premiums for 2018 set to go up by as much as 50 percent</strong></p> <p>Oct 5, 2017</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several states have announced rates for health insurance premiums on the Obamacare exchanges for 2018. Topping the list is <strong>Georgia, with rates that are 57 percent higher than last year, while Florida said some premiums will be 45 percent higher.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Among the reasons for these increases is the uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act. </strong>President Donald Trump has vowed to repeal and replace the health care law, which was passed under his predecessor President Barack Obama.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Insurers are raising premiums in the face of repeated threats from President Trump to stop funding so-called cost-sharing reductions, payments to insurers that cover out-of-pocket costs for some low-income consumers.&nbsp;</strong>Trump previously referred to these payments as &ldquo;bailouts&rdquo; for insurance companies and threatened to stop making the payments so as to &ldquo;let Obamacare implode&rdquo;.</p> <p>(<a href="">Source</a>)</p> </blockquote> <p>That&rsquo;s the story the health insurers are going with: they have to raise rates because they&#39;re uncertain whether they will get AS MUCH LOOT under the new rules being considered as they did under the utterly disastrous Obamacare provisions.</p> <p><strong>How much loot are we talking about?</strong> Look at this chart of the stock price of United Healthcare (UNH) since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare):</p> <p class="rtecenter"><img alt="S&amp;P 500 chart" src="" style="height: 372px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p>If this chart showing massive near-4x gains in just 5 years, coupled with your steep annual premium increases, doesn&rsquo;t infuriate you, you are just not getting it.</p> <p><strong>Even if your employer pays for your health care (somewhat obscuring the true impact of premium increases), the cost to you is fewer and lower pay increases, as well as steady yearly reductions in covered services along with higher co-pays and deductible amounts.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>Still not infuriated?</strong></u> Ok, maybe this will do the trick. Here how much executive compensation at the major insurers was last year:</p> <p class="rtecenter"><img alt="S&amp;P 500 chart" src="" style="height: 457px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p class="rtecenter">(<a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>)</p> <p>The average family health care insurance premium in 2016 was $18,764, meaning that Mark Bertolini from Aetna alone required 100% of the premiums from more than 2,200 families just to pay him in 2016. Of course, the &ldquo;C-suite&rdquo; of these health care insurers are loaded with other high-paid parasites who are just as busy gouging the young and old alike.</p> <p>This is a complete travesty and joke. Congress and the Senate, sitting on their deservedly low approval ratings, pretend they cannot do anything about it. Too complicated they say. Bullshit I say. Go after the obscene pay packages and profits of the insurance industry as a first matter of business. Then make it a crime for hospitals to bill people differently for the exact same services.</p> <p><em><strong>That&rsquo;s a no-brainer. Can you imagine if your mechanic had a secret pricing formula for every customer that was, literally, based on their maximum ability to pay? Nobody would stand for it, it&rsquo;s disgusting that we tolerate this when it comes to something as vital and necessary as our health and even lives.</strong></em></p> <p>Fury, not tolerance, is what&#39;s needed now.</p> <h2><u><em>Conclusion (to Part 1)</em></u></h2> <p><strong>The future has arrived. The pension losses are here and just getting started and the future will have a lot more of those sorts of broken promises.</strong></p> <p>The health care insurance crisis has been with us for 20 years or so now and Obamacare just put some extra accelerant on that fire, which is now consuming middle class households by the tens of thousands.</p> <p>Both the pension and health care crises are infuriating and self-inflicted wounds. We could have avoided them by making wiser choices in the past. We didn&#39;t. We could limit their damage by making better choices today. We almost assuredly won&#39;t.</p> <p>Current conversations and proposals are thinly disguised sleight-of-hand movements whose purpose is to deflect attention from the thefts underway. Anybody who studies the system and its math comes to the same conclusion: the corporations have all the power and they are misusing it for private gain.</p> <p><strong>Why there aren&rsquo;t more politicians willing to call a spade a spade and actually protect their constituents is a real mystery. But the next wave of populist candidates certainly won&rsquo;t be. People are sick and tired of being asked to give more and more while corporations and wealthy elites keep taking more and more.</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s simply infuriating.</p> <p><strong>But that&rsquo;s not the worst of it. The mistakes we are making right now in terms of energy policy and ecological destruction are far more dangerous to your personal health, liberty and future prospects than a simple market crash.</strong></p> <p><em>In <a href="" target="_blank">Part 2: It&#39;s Time For Action</a>, we uncover the hidden downside risks in today&#39;s financial markets and explain how, as destructive as a coming market crash will be, the longer-term damage to society and risks to your well-being are rooted in the potential breakdown of the systems we depend on to live. As with pensions and health care, we are pursuing similar dangerously misguided policies in our farming &amp; food systems, extraction of industrial resources, and ecological management -- to name just a few.&nbsp; There&#39;s an appropriate time for fury. And that time is now -- provided we use the anger to spur us into constructive action. Get your fury on. <a href="" target="_blank">Click here to read Part 2&nbsp;</a>of this report&nbsp;(free executive summary,<a href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;enrollment&nbsp;</a>required for full access)</em></p> </div> <p>&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="287" height="178" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 111th United States Congress Barack Obama Chris Martenson Congress Donald Trump Finance Florida headlines Health Health insurance Healthcare reform in the United States Insurance Insurance Companies Internal Revenue Code Internal Revenue Service Labor Market Crash Medicare Medicare Medicare Money New York State None Obamacare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Presidency of Barack Obama Racketeering ratings Senate Social Issues Sat, 21 Oct 2017 16:35:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 605738 at Shkreli Lawyer Distances Himself From 'Most Hated Man In America' As Trial Begins <p>While former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli languishes inside a federal jail in Brooklyn, the trial of his former attorney - and alleged co-conspirator - Evan Greebel is just beginning, with the defense and prosecution giving opening statements Friday.</p> <p>The timing is unfortunate. Shrekli&rsquo;s trial - which ended in him being convicted of three out of eight counts of fraud - briefly revived the public rancor over his many misdeeds. Given Shkreli&rsquo;s toxic public image, <strong>it comes as no surprise that Greebel&rsquo;s lawyers are already seeking to distance their client - who was arrested on the same day as Shkreli and whose picture was splashed across cable news networks alongside Shkreli&rsquo;s - from the disgraced pharma executive, who was jailed last month after a judge revoked his bail following a series of controversial and vaguely threatening Facebook posts,</strong> <a href="">Bloomberg </a>reported.</p> <p>As many will remember, Shkreli&rsquo;s comfortable life as a successful young pharmaceutical CEO began to unravel in September 2015 when the New York Times reported that Turing had hiked the price of a life-saving toxoplasmosis drug by 5,000%, thrusting Shkreli into an uncomfortable public spotlight and drawing a public rebuke from Hillary Clinton, then presumed to be the next president of the United States.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 278px;" /></a></p> <p>Following his indictment, Shkreli seemingly set out to destroy any lingering public sympathy by antagonizing the federal government and harassing female journalists - actions that ultimately led to his jailing. <strong>Prosecutors have accused Greebel of helping Shkreli steal $11 million from Retrophin, a pharmaceutical company Shkreli founded and ran before being forced out in 2014. Greebel was terminated as Retrophin&rsquo;s counsel soon after.</strong></p> <p>Shkreli allegedly used the money, along with Retrophin stock, to repay investors in two failed hedge funds by signing them on to sham consulting agreements with salaries and stock grants. Greebel is also accused of helping Shkreli manipulate the price of Retrophin stock.</p> <p>Fortunately for Greebel&rsquo;s defense team, their client has a somewhat more resepectable public image than his associate. He has a family and was once a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and Kaye Scholer LLP. They&rsquo;re essentially trying to sell a narrative of him being a quiet family man who got in over his head.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In opening statements on Friday, Greebel&rsquo;s lawyer told jurors that the 44-year-old father of three and Shkreli, a former biotech executive notorious for aggressive drug-pricing tactics, were as<strong> &quot;different as two people can be.&quot; </strong>Greebel was by no means Shkreli&rsquo;s <strong>&quot;right-hand man,&quot;</strong> defense lawyer Reed Brodsky told jurors at the trial in Brooklyn, New York.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Greebel <strong>&ldquo;lived a quiet life,&rdquo; </strong>Brodsky said, while Shkreli was &quot;cultivating this public personality and persona, blogging and tweeting.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s no mystery why Greebel, a former corporate lawyer, would want to separate himself from Shkreli, who is in jail after his conviction for lying to hedge fund investors (although jurors weren&rsquo;t told about that). Greebel wants to show that Shkreli lied to him as well, and that Greebel had no reason to believe he was being asked to do anything wrong.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;Mr. Shkreli is kind of a contradiction,&quot; </strong>Brodsky said, arguing that Shkreli managed to con people with his &quot;image&quot; of success, brilliant ideas and &quot;photographic memory.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, prosecutors allege he knowingly helped Shkreli loot his company and manipulate its share price for profit.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In the government&rsquo;s opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kessler said Greebel started working for Shkreli&rsquo;s companies around 2011 and used his legal talents to aid Shkreli&rsquo;s fraud. Kessler said Greebel wanted to please Shkreli to make millions of dollars in fees for his firm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;Agreeing to help the CEO of a company steal from the company is a crime,&quot;</strong> Kessler said. &quot;Agreeing to help illegally control the stock market is a crime.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg </a>noted, Greebel&rsquo;s demeanor in court couldn&rsquo;t have differed more from Shkreli&rsquo;s. He sat quietly by his defense team, smiling briefly but otherwise remaining expressionless.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Shkreli&rsquo;s was on the receiving end of more bad news this week when a Brooklyn judge refused to return his $5 million bond, saying the money might be needed to offset any monetary penalties that may be levied against Shkreli, the <a href="">New York Post </a>reported.</p> <p>Shkreli&rsquo;s lawyer Ben Brafman asked her to release the money so his client &mdash; No. 14 on New York state&rsquo;s list of top delinquent taxpayers &mdash; can start paying taxes.<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="789" height="438" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Benjamin Brafman Bond Business Business Economy of the United States federal government Finance Katten Muchin Rosenman Law Martin Shkreli New York Post New York State New York Times Shkreli Turing Pharmaceuticals Sat, 21 Oct 2017 15:59:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 605736 at McCain As Metaphor <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Justin Raimondo via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Some people are living symbols, sheer embodiments of a concept that fits their persona as snugly as their skin:</strong> <em>e.g. the Dalai Lama personifies Contemplative Piety, Harvey Weinstein is the incarnation of Brazen Vulgarity, and John McCain&rsquo;s very person exudes the sweaty blustery spirit of Empire.</em></p> <p>His entire history &ndash; born in the Panama Canal zone, son of an admiral, third-generation centurion, the War Party&rsquo;s senatorial spokesman &ndash; made it nearly impossible for him to be other than what he is: <strong>the country&rsquo;s most outspoken warmonger and dedicated internationalist.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 280px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>As George Orwell remarked, &ldquo;After forty, everyone has the face they deserve,&rdquo; and in McCain&rsquo;s case this is doubly true. </strong>That Roman head, fit for a coin of high denomination, looks as if it might sprout a crown of laurel leaves at any moment:&nbsp; Grizzled brow, wrinkled with the tension of an inborn belligerence, eyes alight with a perpetual flame of self-righteous anger, McCain is Teddy Roosevelt impersonating Cato the Elder. In the extreme predictability of his warlike effusions, he&rsquo;s become a bit of a cartoon character. Who can forget his enthusiastic rendition of &ldquo;<a href="">Bomb bomb bomb Iran!</a>&rdquo; to the tune of &ldquo;Barbara Ann&rdquo;?</p> <p><strong>The Senator from Arizona represents something relatively new on the American scene: the emerging class of colonial administrators, Pentagon contractors, and high-ranking military personnel, and their families, many of them stationed overseas. </strong>These people have a material interest in the expansion of our role as global cop, they number in the tens of thousands, and they are strategically placed in the social order, with enough social power to constitute an influential lobby.</p> <p>As the prototype of this mutant species of <em>Homo Americanus</em>, <strong>McCain is the perfect enemy of the new nationalism that handed the White House to Donald Trump and sundered the Brits from the EU.</strong> It&rsquo;s no surprise he&rsquo;s become the antipode of the Trumpian &ldquo;America First&rdquo; foreign policy doctrine &ndash; a doctrine that is almost never implemented, but that&rsquo;s another column. <a href="">His latest philippic</a> perfectly summarizes the spirit and content of the brazen imperialism that is his credo and the credo of his class, We get the whole grand tour of McCainism as a worldview, from the rather odd idea that &ldquo;America is an idea&rdquo; and not an actual <em>place</em> to the glories of the &ldquo;international order.&rdquo; There is much shedding of blood &ldquo;to make a better world&rdquo; &ndash; a cause we are told has &ldquo;made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.&rdquo; Now here is <a href="">crackpot Keynesianism</a> with a vengeance: the destruction of World War II was good for the economy!</p> <p><strong>Having &ldquo;liberated&rdquo; the world from itself, the United States, as the champion of World Order, is in danger of turning away from its sacred duty to always be shedding lots and lots of blood on behalf of Others. </strong>And we know just who McCain is talking about:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain &lsquo;the last best hope of earth&rsquo; for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The idea that we led and organized the world for the entire postwar era erases the cold war from history, a neat trick given McCain&rsquo;s record. And as for our &ldquo;ideals&rdquo; and this &ldquo;last best hope&rdquo; business, none of that is worth a single American soldier &ndash; nor does it have anything to do with a soldier&rsquo;s proper job, which is protecting this country. Yet what is one to expect from someone who actually believes &ldquo;we live in a land of ideals, not blood and soil.&rdquo; <strong>Blood never comes into it for McCain unless it&rsquo;s being shed in some ill-conceived totally unnecessary war. </strong>And as for soil &ndash; there is none. There&rsquo;s just &ldquo;ideals,&rdquo; floating in a void.</p> <p>While admitting that the Trumpian version of American nationalism is somewhat undercooked &ndash; and, perhaps, not all that digestible &ndash; one has to wonder: <em><u><strong>where does a supporter of the Iraq war, who assured us it would be a glorious victory, get off calling anybody or anything half-baked?</strong></u></em></p> <p><strong>McCain doesn&rsquo;t even try making a coherent argument: instead, he simply lies by claiming that, having taken the road to Empire, &ldquo;we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did.&rdquo;</strong> It&rsquo;s utter nonsense, of course: empires are an expansive luxury. We spend more on the military than the top ten powers combined, and the national debt is at historic heights. We&rsquo;re effectively bankrupt thanks to out-of-control military spending and McCain&rsquo;s favored wars of choice.</p> <p><strong>The idea that we have a &ldquo;moral obligation&rdquo; to enforce McCain&rsquo;s beloved &ldquo;international order&rdquo; is rooted in the <a href="">crazed post-millennial pietism</a> that has motivated so much that is mischievous in American history.</strong> The <a href=";lpg=PA62&amp;ots=GAvYfnRRgo&amp;dq=rothbard%20post%20millennial&amp;pg=PA62#v=onepage&amp;q=rothbard%20post%20millennial">old religious impulse</a> that motivated Prohibition and the &ldquo;anti-vice&rdquo; campaigns of the nineteenth century has, today, been secularized and internationalized. The old fundamentalists sought to remake the country, their secular successors seek to <a href="">remake the world</a>. This accounts for the quasi-religious tone of McCain&rsquo;s remarks, this talk of &ldquo;moral obligation&rdquo; and &ldquo;shame&rdquo; if we fail to take up the burden of Empire, manfully and willfully, because &ldquo;We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn&rsquo;t deserve to.&rdquo;</p> <p>In other words: <em><strong>Americans have no right to live their lives in peace, and to leave others in the same condition: they must perpetually be sticking their noses in other peoples&rsquo; business, sniffing out &ldquo;injustice&rdquo; and making sure the trains run on time.</strong></em></p> <p>McCain hails the crusade to &ldquo;help make another, better world&rdquo; &ndash; <strong>yet the American people don&rsquo;t want another world, they want to live in <em>this world</em> in peace and security,</strong> rather than sacrificing themselves to some imaginary &ldquo;duty&rdquo; to uplift the world on Uncle Sam&rsquo;s shoulders. That&rsquo;s one reason why Trump is in the White House <strong>and McCain is on the outside looking in.</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="955" height="446" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Arizona Donald Trump European Union Fail George Orwell International Republican Institute Iran Iraq John McCain John McCain keynesianism McCain Military brats Military personnel National Debt Nationalism None Pentagon Recipients of the Legion of Merit United States White House White House Sat, 21 Oct 2017 15:24:47 +0000 Tyler Durden 605737 at 3 Stories That Show Big Brother is Alive and Well <p><a href="">Via The Daily Bell</a></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;"><a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; font-weight: bold;">Getting Clever with Fear to Restrict the Internet.</span></a></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Representatives from the seven countries (UK, USA, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, and Japan) known as the G7 which form the Council on Foreign Relations met to discuss what to do about extremist jihadi content on the internet. They want to work with tech giants to make sure anything that could recruit or train terrorists is taken down within two hours.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">The United Kingdom actually proposed jailing anyone who even views extremist content online for up to 15 years! Of course, the governments will define “extremist content.” And as most things go, their definition will likely get looser over time.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">For instance,&nbsp;<a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">when SWAT teams were introduced in America</a>, the government claimed they would only be used in hostage situations. Today SWAT teams&nbsp;are used thousands of times a year, even for small-scale drug raids on non-violent suspects.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif; text-align: center;">&nbsp;<a href=";qid=1508594463&amp;sr=1-1&amp;linkCode=li3&amp;tag=joejarme-20&amp;linkId=6256b835f24d8c6cb473e6deb2e240cb" target="_blank" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;" rel="noopener"><img src=";ASIN=1610394577&amp;Format=_SL250_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=joejarme-20" border="0" style="box-sizing: border-box; vertical-align: middle; max-width: 100%; height: auto !important;" /></a></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;"><a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; font-weight: bold;">Prosecutors Pick a Target, THEN Find a Crime.</span></a><img src=";l=li3&amp;o=1&amp;a=1610394577" width="1" height="1" border="0" style="box-sizing: border-box; vertical-align: middle; max-width: 100%; display: block; border-width: initial !important; border-style: none !important; height: auto !important;" class="aligncenter" /></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Practically anybody could be indicted for a crime if enough investigation went into their lives. There are so many laws, that we can’t go a day without breaking&nbsp;<em style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px;">some</em>&nbsp;statute.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Of course, most of us are not popular enough to draw the attention of U.S. prosecutors. But that is how they keep “the little guy” in line, by making examples out of the government’s enemies.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Reports indicate that Robert Mueller is on a fishing expedition to indict members of Trump’s team. If he can’t find any crimes, he will twist the law until something fits. Mueller and his team have done this in the past.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">That’s the state of “justice” in America.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;"><a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; font-weight: bold;">Fitbit and Pacemaker Info Used to Catch Criminals</span></a></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">Here’s the tough thing about Big Brother technology. In the beginning, it really is just used against actual criminals.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">In one instance, a woman’s Fitbit, a watch monitoring her activity, cast doubt on her husband’s story. He said she was murdered by an intruder. He told the police a story about when she came home, what she did in the time before the supposed intruder showed up, and that she ran down into the basement. Based on information from the device, they could see the story was a fabrication.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">In another case, prosecutors successfully subpoenaed&nbsp;information from a man’s heart rate monitor which proved he was awake when he claimed to be asleep before a fire started. He is going to trial for the arson, and a judge ruled that the evidence will be allowed to be presented.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">The problem is the precedent it sets. Much like the&nbsp;<a href="" style="box-sizing: border-box; background: 0px 0px; color: #0c5b3c;">SWAT raids</a>&nbsp;in the example above, this information may at first be used to solve arsons and murders.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; padding-bottom: 8px; color: #303030; font-family: Georgia, &quot;Times New Roman&quot;, Times, serif;">But what happens when it is used to fish for crimes instead? Or to frame someone in the wrong place at the wrong time?</p> Big Brother technology Council on Foreign Relations Fitbit France G7 Germany Government Italy Japan Law Law Law enforcement Law enforcement in the United States Police Quest Prosecutor SWAT Swat District United Kingdom Sat, 21 Oct 2017 15:17:18 +0000 TDB 605735 at Meet The Eccentric, Euroskeptic, Czech Billionaire Who Will Become Prime Minister <p>The Czech election is taking place today, with the &ldquo;Czech Donald Trump&rdquo;, <a href="" target="_blank" title="Billionaire Profile">Andrej Babis</a>, expected to be voted in as Prime Minister. As we <a href="">noted last week</a>, Babis is the Czech Republic&rsquo;s second wealthiest person, is demanding the return of greater sovereignty from the EU, rejects the Euro and is against Muslim immigration. He has pledged to run the country like a business, while eliminating corruption. Oh, and he is also facing criminal charges for fraud. Babis&#39;s anti-establishment party ANO stands for &quot;Action of Dissatisfied Citizens&quot; and is also the Czech word for &quot;yes&quot;.</p> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 284px;" /></p> <p><em>Czech billionaire, Andrej Babis, and his wife Monika</em></p> <p>The Prague Daily Monitor (PDM) <a href="">reports </a>that <strong>&ldquo;</strong><strong>ANO is the clear favourite of (sic) the election that will take place on Friday and Saturday. Opinion polls indicate that ANO is likely to win two times more votes than the CSSD, which may be narrowly overcome by the Communists (KSCM) and possibly even the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement of populist Tomio Okamura or the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS).&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>In last night&rsquo;s final one-and-a-half hour televised confrontation, Babis sparred with Foreign Minister, Lubomir Zaoralek, of the social democratic CSSD party. Behind in the polls, Zaoralek didn&rsquo;t pull his punches &ldquo;Zaoralek called Babis a parasite in connection with the work of the cabinet. &lsquo;He pretends that all that was good about the government was him,&rsquo; Zaoralek said in reaction to Babis&rsquo;s criticism of the outgoing government that comprises the CSSD, ANO and the smaller Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). Babis is a predator who insolently liquidated his competition, Zaoralek said. He said the financial authorities issued property-freezing orders that liquidated companies that were rivals of firms from the giant Agrofert holding (owned by Babis).&rdquo;</p> <p>Until May this year, Babis was Czech Finance Minister, but was forced to vacate the post by incumbent Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, due to &ldquo;controversial financial transactions, alleged misuse of media against his political rivals and a suspected subsidy fraud.&rdquo; Babis has been charged with transferring a 50 million koruna EU subisdy to one of his business interests. Babis claims that the allegations are untrue and deliberately made to remove him from politics.</p> <p>Despite the allegations, <a href="">Bloomberg reports </a>that &ldquo;the Slovak-born businessman solidified his popularity in the more than three years that he served as finance minister&hellip;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Boom Won’t Save Czech Premier’s Party as Rival Steals Spotlight">Taking credit</a> for the&nbsp;European Union&rsquo;s lowest unemployment, one of its fastest rates of economic growth, and a balanced budget, Babis has portrayed himself as a competent manager struggling against traditional parties he brands as inept and corrupt. While that&rsquo;s lifted his ANO party, his attacks against Muslim immigration and criticism of the EU have helped fuel the rise of anti-establishment political forces similar to Germany&rsquo;s AfD and Austria&rsquo;s Freedom Party. It&rsquo;s also <a href="" target="_blank" title="Europe Could See Another Brexit-Like Rupture—Beyond Spain">raised concern</a> that he may follow the governments of Poland and Hungary, which have clashed with Brussels over democratic values.&rdquo; One of Babis&rsquo;s unconventional proposals is to make it compulsory for retailers to link cash registers to the Finance Ministry to increase revenue and reduce tax evasion.</p> <p>Fraud charges aside, If Babis wins, it&rsquo;s unlikely to be plain sailing for the new Prime Minister. The Bloomberg report quotes Prague-based political analyst, Jacob Charvat saying &ldquo;It will be a very fragmented parliament, and it will make coalition talks difficult. There is also a great deal of personal animosity among politicians, which may complicate things further.&rdquo; Based on last night&rsquo;s TV debate, he&rsquo;s not kidding.</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="670" height="381" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Andrej Babiš ANO ANO ANO Party Bohuslav Sobotka Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) Corruption CSSD party Czech Czech Republic Donald Trump European Union European Union Finance Minister of the Czech Republic Finance Ministry Freedom party Germany Government of the Czech Republic Hungary Poland Politics Politics of the Czech Republic Unemployment Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:49:59 +0000 Tyler Durden 605734 at Trump To Allow Release Of 3,000 Never Before Seen Documents On JFK Assassination <p>Following years of delays, President Trump announced on Twitter on Saturday morning that he will allow the release of more than 3,000 of classified documents from the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The unexpected announcement means that a trove of previously unseen documents will be released by the National Archives by October 26.</p> <p>“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.</p> <p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">October 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>In 1992, Congress mandated that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, unless the president asserts that doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. The still-secret documents include more than 3,000 that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been released previously, but with redactions, according to CBS. Trump's decision means that thousands of formerly classified documents related to Kennedy’s assassination will be unveiled next week in compliance with the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which states that the federal government must release them by Oct. 26, 2017.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="283" /></a></p> <p>JFK scholars hope the new documents may provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing, during which he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies. Oswald's stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but much about the trip remains unknown. </p> <p>Among other protected information slated for release are details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, said Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota. Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post reporter who has written extensively about the Kennedy assassination papers, said <strong>the remaining documents might include files on senior CIA officers from the 1960s who likely knew details of the agency’s surveillance of Oswald in Mexico City</strong>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“What’s in those files could tell us how those men did their jobs,” said Morley, who wrote a 2008 book on the agency’s Mexico City station chief.&nbsp; “Is there JFK material in there? Could be. There might be stuff on why we were interested in the Cuban consulate, how we surveilled the consulate, how we did our audio work, and how did we recruit spies there? We might understand much better why they were watching Oswald.” </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Morley is also eager to read a never-before released transcript of testimony given by James Angleton, the CIA’s legendary chief of counterintelligence from 1954 to 1975, to senators in September 1975 investigating abuses committed by the intelligence community. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The files on Angleton and the other CIA officers are important because “these are not just major players in the agency’s history, they are major players in the Oswald story,” said Morley, who has a new book on Angleton, “The Ghost,” coming out Oct. 24. “Oswald didn’t come out of nowhere. Angelton was targeting him for intelligence purposes at the Cuban consulate in Mexico City.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Not everyone is happy, however, and many experts fear that such a large release of secret JFK assassination documents will spur “a new generation of conspiracy theories.” </p> <p><a href="">Additionally, Politico reported </a>that Trump administration officials were concerned that some of the documents created in the 1990s contain information on recent U.S. intelligence programs and might not be released. Nonetheless, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that the White House is aiming “to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public" under the act. </p> <p>Overnight, <a href="">the WaPo confirmed</a>, reporting that <strong>President Trump is being urged to withhold the last batch of government documents that could shed more light on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>A National Security Council official said in an interview that federal agencies are asking the president not to release an unknown number of files held by the National Archives and Records Administration related to Kennedy’s murder. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There will be a request made to the President to withhold documents, absolutely no question about that,” said the NSC official, who agreed to be interviewed only on the condition of anonymity. “There are definitely files related to sources and methods that agencies are asking to withhold.” </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The official declined to identify which agencies are asking Trump to keep some of the Kennedy files secret, saying only that the security council is coordinating the requests.</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, as <a href="">we reported last week</a>, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was urging Trump to release the files, and said in a recent interview he felt “optimistic” that Trump would make it happen. Stone claimed that the CIA is urging President Donald Trump to delay disclosing some of the files for another 25 years. “<strong>They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead.” </strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Earlier this month, Roger Stone, the political consultant and Trump confidante, <a href="">reported on his website</a>, “Stone Cold Truth,” that CIA Director Mike Pompeo wants the president to delay the record release for another 25 years. Stone, who co-authored a best-selling book in 2013 called, “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ,” said in a Post interview that he opposes any delay. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“<strong>What is the government hiding?” he asked. “The issue now is transparency.”</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Earlier this week, Stone told <a href="">Alex Jones </a>that&nbsp; he spoke to Trump himself and urged the president to release all the documents.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“Yesterday, I had the opportunity to make the case directly to the president of the United States by phone as to why I believe it is essential that he release the balance of the currently redacted and classified JFK assassination documents,” Stone said on Jones’s show. “A very good White House source — not the President — told me that the Central Intelligence Agency, specifically CIA director Mike Pompeo, has been lobbying the President furiously not to release these documents. Why? Because I believe they show that Oswald was trained, nurtured and put in place by the Central Intelligence Agency.”<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Stone said it wasn’t clear what Trump will do. “He did not tip off his current decision,” Stone told Jones. “We’re going to have to wait .&thinsp;.&thinsp;. but he was all ears. He took it all in .&thinsp;.&thinsp;. I think he’s going to do the right thing.” This morning it appears that Trump has decided to side with Stone over the arguments from the NSC and various other "covert" U.S. agencies.</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="600" height="339" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> B+ Central Intelligence Agency Congress Cuban consulate Cuban consulate in Mexico City Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation federal government James Jesus Angleton Lee Harvey Oswald Mexico National Archives and Records Administration national security Politics Politics President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act Roger Stone Testimony Transparency Twitter Twitter U.S. intelligence United States White House White House Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:08:18 +0000 Tyler Durden 605733 at