en We've CoMe A LoNG WaY... <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="" width="1024" height="624" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> Sat, 29 Nov 2014 04:15:45 +0000 williambanzai7 498403 at “An Unstoppable Zombie Holiday” – Humanity Shudders As America Exports Black Friday To the World <p>Because nothing gives &quot;Thanks&quot; like Americans fighting over things they don&#39;t need...</p> <p><a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Exhibit 1:</strong></span></a> Doorbuster deals at a Wal-Mart in Michigan City, Indiana, had shoppers literally stealing items from other people&rsquo;s carts.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Things appeared to get a little out of hand Thursday night, as shoppers swarmed the Wal-Mart in Michigan City</strong>, pushing and shoving as they fought to grab heavily discounted merchandise.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A shopper named Rich grabbed his cell phone camera and filmed as one man tried to grab what appeared to be a home theater system from another man in a Bears jersey. The Bears fan was able to wrestle it away, and get out of the scrum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Some bystanders seemed amused by the chaos, others looked a little frightened.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It appeared the scene was about to repeat itself, with a woman as the victim, but she also managed to get away with her prize.</p> </blockquote> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Exhibit 2:</strong></span> 2 Women Fight At Norwalk Walmart Over Barbie Doll</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p> <script type='text/javascript' src=';;playerWidth=620;playerHeight=349;isShowIcon=true;clipId=10898054;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=CBS.LA%252Fworldnowplayer;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlay'></script></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Authorities said two women got into a pushing and shoving match &mdash; with at least one of them reportedly throwing a punch &mdash; over a Barbie doll on Thanksgiving evening.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sheriff&rsquo;s Deputies has to be called to the Walmart store in the 11700 block of Imperial Highway after reports of the fight broke out.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Witnesses said the two women began fighting over a Barbie doll just before 7 p.m.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Deputies were able to diffuse the situation and said no one was arrested.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Officials also said no one was injured in the altercation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;The whole thing was pretty stupid,&rdquo; said a shopper named Sonia, &ldquo;that was very dumb.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>But it&#39;s not just America, it appears the UK as caught the post &#39;Thanksgiving Day&#39;? bug...</p> <p><u><strong>Exhibit 3: </strong></u>Girls fight over cheap panties...</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>Exhibit 4:</strong></u> Americans celebrating Thanksgiving in Britain may have felt right at home as Black Friday shopping chaos caused disruptions.</p> <p>The practice of offering bargain basement prices the day after Thanksgiving has spread across the Atlantic, with some retailers opening overnight to lure shoppers.</p> <p>Police were called early Friday morning to help maintain security at some supermarkets and shopping outlets that offered deep discounts starting at midnight.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 399px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><u><em><strong>As Liberty Blitzkrieg&#39;s Mike Krieger notes,</strong></em></u></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>Greater Manchester Police said two arrests were made and injuries reported as police closed some stores to prevent more severe problems. One woman was injured by a falling television set.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The force tweeted &ldquo;Keep calm, people!&rdquo; at one point.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>There were problems in many parts of Britain, including Wales and Scotland.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ndash; From the <i>Associated Press</i>:&nbsp;<a href="">Black Friday Chaos Hits Britain</a></p> </blockquote> <p>Black Friday is one of those days when&nbsp;all the hope and optimism one possesses for the future of humanity is threatened by the gross, primal, in-your-face reality. I&rsquo;ve written about the holiday before, specifically,&nbsp;in the piece,&nbsp;<strong><a href="">The SDR: The Same Demented Regime</a></strong>.&nbsp;Here&rsquo;s an excerpt:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>The great game is of course the never-ending global struggle for power and dominance.&nbsp; The current entrenched powers that be have been in their positions for a very long time and they have no intention of giving up that role.&nbsp; What the moral and decent percentage of humanity need to understand in no uncertain terms is that these folks and their minions have no conscience.&nbsp; They could care less how many starve to death, get blown to bits in war or waste their lives away in front of the television set watching Snookie on the Jersey Shore.&nbsp; In fact, I am certain that they totally get off on these things.&nbsp; Degrading humanity into an animal-like state clearly appears to be their aphrodisiac.&nbsp; Notice how the media encourages people to go out and trample each other for a $2 waffle maker on Black Friday.&nbsp; The scenes of people running into Wal-Mart or Best Buy in the early morning hours when they should be at home with their families having conversation after Thanksgiving dinner reminds me of scenes of cattle being shuffled into a sorting pen.&nbsp;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>It was always a uniquely American embarrassment. A day when the rest of the world could smugly and confidently&nbsp;sneer at the their consumption-obsessed, overweight, and violent brothers and sisters abroad; secure in the fact that were&nbsp;distinctly different.</p> <p>Well, as Bob Dylan sang, &ldquo;The Times They are a Changin&rsquo;,&rdquo; and the highest-holy day of the American religion of consumerism is coming your way whether you like it or not. Naturally, it is gaining its&nbsp;most robust foothold in the United Kingdom. I thought Arriana Huffington summarized&nbsp;it well in the following tweet:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>How did <a href="">#BlackFriday</a> migrate to the UK without <a href="">#Thanksgiving</a>? It&rsquo;s like an unstoppable zombie holiday <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) <a href="">November 28, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <p>Here are some of the observations from that article:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>LONDON (AP) &mdash; Americans celebrating Thanksgiving in Britain may have felt right at home as Black Friday shopping chaos caused disruptions.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The practice of offering bargain basement prices the day after Thanksgiving has spread across the Atlantic, with some retailers opening overnight to lure shoppers.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Police were called early Friday morning to help maintain security at some supermarkets and shopping outlets that offered deep discounts starting at midnight.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Some of the worst problems were in the Manchester area in northwestern England where police were summoned to seven Tesco supermarkets after disturbances.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Greater Manchester Police Chief Peter Fahy said he was &ldquo;disappointed&rdquo; that stores did not have enough security personnel on duty for the after-hours shopping.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;This created situations where we had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers,&rdquo; he said.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Fights broke out at some stores and major websites stopped functioning because of too much traffic as shoppers sought online bargains.</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>But that&rsquo;s just the tip of the iceberg. As Glenn Greenwald notes, the Black Friday virus has also infected his adopted home country of Brazil. See below:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>&quot;Black Friday&quot; everywhere in Thanksgiving-free Brazil <a href="">#infection</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) <a href="">November 28, 2014</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Think you&rsquo;re safe in Africa? Think again. Check out this piece <a href="">from <em>MarketWatch</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>NEW YORK (MarketWatch) &mdash; Funmi Adeyemi has been saving all year for Black Friday. Since October, she&rsquo;s been surfing U.S. websites and has picked out $300 worth of merchandise, including Ralph Lauren apparel for her two-and four-year-old kids and shoes from Neiman Marcus for herself.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>And she&rsquo;s made her selections from the comfort of home &mdash; in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Black Friday &ldquo;is when I wait to do most of my shopping,&rdquo; Adeyemi said. &ldquo;I can buy everything in one day. I buy whatever catches my eye and whatever is the right price. It&rsquo;s a big thing here and has gone viral. A lot of people are waiting for (U.S.) Black Friday sales.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The 32-year-old project manager is waiting until Friday to see what discounts she can get before placing final online orders. And she&rsquo;s a pro. This is the fifth Black Friday that she has spent shopping for U.S. deals from Nigeria with the help of mobile shopping app,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_new">MallforAfrica</a>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Major U.S. retailers do not ship directly to Nigeria, so MallforAfrica acts as middleman, shipping the goods bought on U.S. websites to the West African country. MallforAfrica CEO and founder Chris Folayan, a Nigerian who lives in the U.S., said there has been a spike in signups to the app in the past two days.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>And Adeyemi and her fellow Nigerians aren&rsquo;t alone. While&nbsp;<a href="">Black Friday</a>, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally kicks off the U.S. holiday shopping season, may be&nbsp;<a href="">losing its sizzle in its home market</a>, it&rsquo;s gaining ground overseas.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve certainly exported the Black Friday madness to the world,&rdquo; said Borderfree&nbsp;CEO Michael DeSimone. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s become a big shopping day around the world. We don&rsquo;t just see (orders) from Canada and Australia but also the Middle East and China.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Here&rsquo;s a billboard&nbsp;from Nigeria:</p> <p><img alt="Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 11.58.37 AM" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-19346" height="349" src="" width="620" /></p> <p>Just in case you needed further&nbsp;proof that the religion of consumerism knows no borders.</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="456" height="338" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Australia Black Friday China Indiana Michigan Middle East Sat, 29 Nov 2014 03:20:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498378 at Thought Crime? Navy Vet Fired For Posting Images Of DHS Vehicles On Facebook <p><em>Submitted by <a href="">Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog</a>,</em></p> <p>You probably haven&rsquo;t heard of&nbsp;Mark Paffrath, the 28-year-old Navy veteran, and former employee of the Drury hotel chain, who was fired from his job and called a &ldquo;terrorist&rdquo; for taking pictures of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) vehicles and posting them to his personal Facebook page.</p> <p>The story of his recent job termination is further proof of fascism&rsquo;s relentless bull market within these United States. What happened to Mr. Paffrath could easily happen to any of us, and it&rsquo;s imperative that we support him and reject the type of backwards fear-mongering being perpetrated by his control-freak employer.</p> <p>Just two weeks ago, we saw a <strong><a href="">90-year-old vet threatened with&nbsp;jail for feeding homeless people</a>&nbsp;</strong>in Florida. Now this.</p> <p><a href=""><em>TechDirt </em>reports</a> that:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><i>Mark says that on Thursday after work he snapped 2 photographs and a short video of several dozen Homeland Security vehicles in the parking garage. He then uploaded them to his Facebook page. In his post he writes &ldquo;why are all the cop cars here&hellip;I wonder if it has anything to do with Ferguson&rdquo;, he also included the hashtags #Ferguson #NoJusticeNoPeace.</i></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>On Friday, shortly after arriving to work at the Drury Plaza Hotel, Mark stated that he was called to the office of Jeff Baker, the General Manager. <strong>Upon arriving Mr. Baker advised Mark that he needed to remove the photos and video from Facebook. Mark immediately complied and removed the post. Mark then continued and finished his shift.</strong></i></p> </blockquote> <p>That should be the end of it, but of course it&rsquo;s not&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><i>Saturday, Mark stated after being at work no more than 30 minutes, he was again called to the General Manager&rsquo;s office. <strong>Waiting for him was Jim Bohnert, Director of Security for Drury Hotels Company, LLC. Mark told ASN that Mr. Bohnert advised him that his Facebook posts almost cost the company a $150,000 contract with the Department of Homeland Security and because of this he was being terminated.</strong></i></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Jim Bohnert &mdash; formerly of the Secret Service and the St. Louis Police Department &mdash; had more to say on the matter.<strong> He called the former military member a &ldquo;terrorist&rdquo; and told him he had &ldquo;dishonorably served his country&rdquo; by posting pictures of vehicles parked in a garage where any guest or employee of the hotel could have seen them.</strong> In fact,&nbsp;any&nbsp;member of the public could have seen them simply by entering the garage, which is not secured. Argus Streaming News writers were able to see &ldquo;over 100&Prime; DHS vehicles in the garage while driving through it on their way to speak to the hotel&rsquo;s manager. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Bohnert also threatened Paffrath with arrest if the photos were reposted (presumably by someone with more power than Director of Security for Drury Hotels, Bohnert&rsquo;s current position).</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Specifically, this is what <a href="">Bohnert supposedly said</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Mark stated that <strong>Mr. Bohnert ended the conversation with &ldquo;if you repost the photos and video you will have the federal government knocking on your door and you will be incarcerated&rdquo;.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>We must all support Mr.&nbsp;Paffrath, and let&nbsp;Drury Hotels know that it is their behavior that is unacceptable, not Mark&nbsp;Paffrath&rsquo;s. It&rsquo;s perfectly representative of the addled, insane society we live in that the hotel&rsquo;s security director had the nerve to call a U.S. veteran a &ldquo;terrorist&rdquo; for posting pictures to Facebook. I think we all know who&rsquo;s actually behaving like a terrorist in this case. The time for getting outraged has long since passed.</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="293" height="240" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Florida Sat, 29 Nov 2014 03:10:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498385 at Black Friday And The 'Ferguson' Effect <p>Of the 10 days on which the FBI has conducted the most background checks since December 1998, two are the last two Black Fridays.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="609" height="455" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="">As WaPo reports</a>, it's not just Best Buy and JCPenney that sees throngs of Americans herding hungirly in anticipation of a 'deal', many hope for a discounted firearm at stores like Cabela's - and guns make popular gifts. However, the flood of demand on Black Friday is actually a problem for the oh-so-efficient government... </p> <p><strong>In 2013, 186,000 people were allowed to buy weapons without a<br /> background check at all, according to the AP, after the FBI was unable<br /> to process their applications within the legal window of three days</strong>. <em>This year demand is even higher...</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="608" height="501" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Nothing to see here, move along.</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="608" height="501" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Best Buy Black Friday FBI JCPenney Sat, 29 Nov 2014 02:30:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498384 at The Only Way To Stop The Empire <p><em>Submitted by <a href="">Dmitry Orlov via Club Orlov blog</a>,</em></p> <p><strong>The final days of US empire are fast approaching. </strong>Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain. Overexpansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll&mdash;as all past empires have discovered. <strong>Empires are like bacteria in a Petrie dish; unthinking, unseeing, unfeeling, they expand until they run out of food or contaminate their environment with their waste, and then they die. They are automatons, and they just can&rsquo;t help it: they are programmed to expand or die, expand or die, and, in the end, expand and die.</strong></p> <p><strong>What does the empire feed on? It feeds on money and fear; your money and your fear, both obtained with your cooperation. </strong>It is bigger now than when it faced an actual adversary in the Soviet Union. Russia is no adversary; all it wants is to be a normal country, at peace with the world. But the empire won&rsquo;t let it, will it? It must create enemies. Who are our enemies? According to the authors of endless war they are North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Islamic terrorists. Are any of them actually capable of threatening the US? Well, yes, but they are all quite easy to deter. But the plan of the authors of endless war is not to deter them; it is to back them into a corner with political instability and sanctions, while whipping up the population on both sides into fear-filled frenzy.</p> <p><strong>We all know that the US military-industrial complex has become a self-perpetuating and uncontrollable organism, just like Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in 1961.</strong> Everyone knows the phrase and Eisenhower&#39;s warning&mdash;it is part of our collective memory. At a trillion dollars a year and growing, with over 1000 bases ringing the planet, it has expanded far beyond what Eisenhower could have imagined in his worst nightmare. We can&rsquo;t say we didn&rsquo;t know: he warned us. After the National-Socialist episode in Germany, many good Germans voiced regrets at not speaking up, claiming that they didn&rsquo;t know what was being done in their name. But we do not have that excuse: we all knew all along.</p> <p><strong>Nor was it the first time we were warned. </strong>General Smedley Butler told us before, in 1933, and his words are still with us, <a href="" target="_blank">posted online</a>. Why is it that everyone, generals included, suddenly gain wisdom immediately upon reaching retirement? Butler offered an explanation: his &ldquo;mind was in suspended animation while serving as a soldier and following orders.&rdquo; In 1933 Butler told us that he &ldquo;was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.&rdquo; He said:</p> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><p>&ldquo;I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912&hellip;I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.&rdquo;</p></blockquote> <p><strong>This empire is nothing new, and we knew what it is and what it does all along. We can&rsquo;t say we didn&rsquo;t know. We have watched throughout our lives as the US put down every popular uprising against local autocrats and oligarchs, placed countries under US control, then helped organize and train the death squads that killed off the opposition.</strong> Think of Indonesia, Argentina, or Honduras. We watched as the empire crushed every democratic government that threatened US business interests under the false pretext of &ldquo;anti-communism,&rdquo; starting with Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and proceeding to Congo, Haiti (numerous times), and most notably and infamously Chile in 1973 (assassinating president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973), Nicaragua in the 1980&rsquo;s, and many, many others. (For details see William Blum&rsquo;s <i><a href="" target="_blank">Killing Hope</a></i>.) And of course, many of us lived through the epic lies and genocide of millions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the so-called &ldquo;Vietnam War.&rdquo; We knew, we watched, and we paid taxes that paid for the bullets and the bombs.</p> <p><strong>More recently we&rsquo;ve seen the barefaced lies of empire laid out for all to see in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Georgia, Pakistan, Yemen, Ukraine... they never end!</strong> But the trouble we stir up in other places never seems to come home and ring our doorbell, does it? Maybe that&rsquo;s why it keeps on going. We think that we can just ignore it and go on with our lives&mdash;that it won&rsquo;t affect us. Or does it?</p> <p><strong>Let&rsquo;s leave aside the destruction of democracy that always accompanies a militarized, fascist police state that the US has gradually turned into. And let&rsquo;s ignore the violence that pervades US society, or the vast gulag of incarceration that disposes of our useless eaters. </strong>Consider that the only military attack on US soil that actually scored a palpable hit since Pearl Harbor was 9/11. Pearl Harbor was on the periphery, way out in the Pacific, &ldquo;A Day that will live in Infamy,&rdquo; the more so since FDR knew it was coming and did all he could to provoke it by cutting Japan off from oil supplies, directly provoking it into launching the attack. But Hawaii is the periphery while 9/11 struck at the heart of the empire, the financial center in New York that drives the imperial wealth pump, and the Pentagon, which is charged with the mission of US world domination.</p> <p>Whether you believe that 19 Arabs armed with box cutters who couldn&rsquo;t fly propeller planes took down 3 World Trade buildings that plummeted straight down at the speed of freefall in what looked like controlled demolition (yes there were 3, look up &ldquo;Building 7&rdquo;), and destroyed a section of the Pentagon, or whether you believe it was an inside job, doesn&rsquo;t matter. <strong>The point is, in that act of destruction, the wars of the empire finally came home.</strong></p> <p>What was the result? Did these events cause us to reconsider what we are doing? Of course not! Instead, we went all-in for war. Remember, the empire is an automaton, a self-perpetuating organism, living on money and fear. What better way to whip up fear than to stage, or to allow, or to simply fail to prevent, an attack on the &ldquo;homeland&rdquo;&mdash;which is, by the way, a Nazi propaganda term. The purpose of war is simply to cause more war, since it is so profitable for the badly misnamed &ldquo;defense industry.&rdquo; Butler told us in 1933 that &ldquo;war is a racket,&rdquo; and documented massive war profiteering during WWI. Do you know how much money Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon et al. are making from the &ldquo;War on Terror&rdquo;? The sums are astronomical.</p> <p><strong>As you read these words, the empire is busy doing its work in Ukraine.</strong> <em>Here is how that works. First, it overthrows the elected government in a US-backed coup. Next, it directs its local puppet regime to unleash a military attack and organize death squads to deal with the population in the east that won&#39;t go along with the US-backed coup, in this case using actual Nazi-branded death squads, <a href="" target="_blank">complete with Nazi SS Insignias</a>. (Anyone can verify these facts with the most cursory internet search.) And for the final, consummate imperialist touch, <a href="" target="_blank">it votes in the UN (together with Canada) against</a> a resolution condemning the Ukrainian Nazis and other racist murderers, while the Europeans shamefacedly abstain. This sort of plan used to work really well, and so the empire keeps repeating it over and over again, even though the results are worse every time.</em></p> <p><strong>Vast numbers of Americans support the empire&rsquo;s wars of conquest because they help maintain their lavish lifestyles. </strong>They bother some of us more than others. Many of us are adamantly against them, but only a few find it emotionally unbearable to countenance the destruction of millions of lives in our names and with our money. What makes them different? Who knows, you would have to ask a psychologist.</p> <p>The question for those who oppose endless war is, What have we done about it? A mass movement in the 1960&rsquo;s that added up to an uprising by a vast segment of society perhaps had something to do with ending the conflict in Vietnam. In spite of these protests, the empire was able to extend the war by an extra five years all the way to 1973, when it agreed to end it on the same terms that had been offered in 1968 to Nobel &ldquo;peace laureate&rdquo; Henry Kissinger. <strong>There has been no significant anti-war protest since then, and certainly none that succeeded in preventing or ending war. Why?</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>First, the draft was ended.</strong> This put an end to the involvement of average US families in the wars of empire, and therefore ending the requirement for consent of the governed. The strategists realized that the draft was a disaster for the empire. The new, much better and cheaper way to procure cannon fodder for the endless war is to enlist the children of the underclass, by using economic oppression in order to deprive them of any other means of advancement except military service.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Second, the military has been outsourced and privatized,</strong> requiring even less involvement by US families in the military, and less need for their consent. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re all volunteers, so shut up&rdquo; is the attitude.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Third, the vastly increased scope of domestic spying by the NSA and other government agencies </strong>has helped keep everyone under control and stifle dissent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Fourth is the tight government/corporate control of the US media, </strong>which has become consummately successful in brainwashing and propagandizing the population.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Finally, there is the war on whistleblowers and journalists who expose the truth,</strong> from Tom Drake to William Binney, Sibel Simons, Jesselyn Radack, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. If necessary, the police, who are vastly more militarized than in the past, together with national guard troops, can squash any dissent like a bug. All these measures ensure that efforts at reform pursued through legal, nonviolent means such as voting, protest, civil disobedience, civil resistance, etc. will have absolutely no effect. The only action that can possibly stop the empire in its tracks is cutting off its food supply&mdash;the tax money on which it lives. We have to starve the beast through divestment, capital expatriation, tax resistance, tax refusal and tax revolt. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig told us this flat out in the 1980&rsquo;s when, being confronted with huge protests over US Central American policy, he said: &ldquo;Let them protest all they want as long as they pay their taxes.&rdquo; Truer words were never uttered by a US official. Is there any evidence to contradict his statement? Has any other measure had any impact on the war machine? The honest answer is no. Millions of people around the world protested before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These protests were ignored. No amount of protest or other efforts can stop it, because it doesn&rsquo;t cut off the empire&rsquo;s food supply of money and fear. Only by cutting off its funds by not paying taxes can we stop the empire.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Many have said that the US doesn&rsquo;t need tax money as it survives on endless debt.</strong> Yes, the empire lives on debt, but the ability to sell debt is based on the bond rating of US treasury bonds. Most recently in June, 2014 S&amp;P gave the US a AA+ rating with &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">stable outlook</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>If there is any doubt about the US credit rating, the ability to sell debt to continue financing the empire comes into question. <strong>The ability to collect taxes is what maintains the US bond rating.</strong> Any reduction of the US bond rating, and interest rates have to go up in order to continue attracting more investment. Then the interest on the debt balloons out of control and becomes unrepayable&mdash;never mind the principal, which they have no intention of ever paying back. By the way, the Tea Party&rsquo;s efforts to shut down government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling was helping this effort for a time, although for different reasons. They thought that the welfare system is bankrupting the country. This is a laughable claim, because welfare spending looks negligible when compared to military spending. Still, they did manage to lower the bond rating for a time. Shutting down the federal government is a step in the right direction, and since in recent years only the Tea Party has managed to do it, lets give them some credit</p> <p>If the US became unable to reliably collect taxes, then its ability to finance the empire with debt would be diminished, and the US would have to turn to increasing taxes&mdash;another politically unpalatable choice, especially in the age of the Tea Party, when the empire&rsquo;s main constituency is dead-set against more taxes. So it is absolutely clear that the only thing that could stop the empire is a tax revolt. It wouldn&rsquo;t even have to be that big; the slightest question about the ability of the federal government to collect taxes could reduce the bond rating. Even a minor reduction could raise interest rates enough to make the US debt unrepayable.</p> <p><strong>Let&#39;s get down to brass tacks: How do you avoid paying taxes, when the IRS withholds our salaries, and the tables are rigged to withhold about 15% more than necessary on average, so 80% of people get a refund? Did you think that this is a coincidence?</strong> No, this is a one-year interest-free loan to the empire from taxpayers. But it&rsquo;s actually quite simple not to pay taxes. Get a W-4 form, write EXEMPT in the space provided, and turn it in to your friendly HR office. Your employer is not allowed to change it unless directed by the IRS. Normally they have no reason to question it.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s what happened last time it was tried on a big scale. In 2007, Code Pink joined the War Resisters League to organize a national project for war tax refusal, to &ldquo;Stop Bush&rsquo;s Wars.&rdquo; This was not a true tax revolt, just more or less a referendum on how many people would potentially support withholding a portion of their taxes owed, even a token amount. The online petition asked people if they would be willing to commit to withhold some of their taxes, even $1, if 100,000 other people would agree to do the same. Out of the US population of 316 million, how many people do you think signed it? About 2,000. So you see, there is not much evidence that people will do the only thing that could stop the empire: a true Tea Party tax revolt.</p> <p><u><strong>What this implies is that the empire will continue to churn along, and debt will continue to build up, because any other approach to paying for it is not feasible, and therefore collapse is inevitable. The aftermath of collapse is unpredictable; maybe there will be a soft landing, maybe not. But unless you are willing to engage in some form of tax revolt, collapse is inevitable. You will get to live with the results: stage a tax revolt now, or face collapse later.</strong></u></p> <p><strong>Are you sure you want to take your chances on collapse?</strong> The results of a personal tax revolt are predictable: retribution with penalties and interest from the IRS; living in fear of having your salary, your property, even your house seized, or worse, your door broken down by federal agents (although these extreme measures don&rsquo;t happen too often, they happen often enough to instill fear). Perhaps there would be loss of income, or even your job. Losing one&rsquo;s job often leads to depression, divorce, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. So you may prefer collapse after all: loss of your savings, no heat, electricity or trash removal, shops looted or closed, armed gangs roaming the streets... Your choice!</p> <p><strong>On the other hand, collapse might go well!</strong> Hope springs eternal in the optimistic American heart. We are (or used to be) the &ldquo;can-do&rdquo; people. Maybe we can-do collapse better than anyone else? Doubtful though if you read Dmitry Orlov&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">Collapse Gap</a> presentation.</p> <p><strong>The results of collapse later are likely to be worse then the effects of tax revolt now.</strong> Especially, since the IRS takes years to catch up to exempt W-4 forms, and it would be even harder to crack down if it were being was done en masse. But it&rsquo;s perfectly understandable if you opt to do nothing now and suffer no consequences, while engaging in ineffective protest to assuage your conscience. You probably have a family to support, an expensive hobby, or some other excuse. So you decide to take your chances with collapse later. After all, collapse might turn out OK for you! <strong>This psychology is quite understandable. I truly hope that collapse will be as painless as you wish it will be, but somehow I doubt it. Good luck though! Whatever happens, you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life&mdash;be it long or short.</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="263" height="229" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan Boeing Bond China Debt Ceiling End of Empire ETC Fail Germany Henry Kissinger Iran Iraq Japan Mexico None North Korea Racketeering Somalia Ukraine World Trade Sat, 29 Nov 2014 01:47:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498383 at Italy's Temporary "Glass Half Full" Insanity <p>Yesterday it was the French, with record high unemployment and record low bond yields. Today, it is the turn of the Italians as the<strong> unemployment rate rose to 13.2% - the highest since records began</strong> - as bond yields continue to plumb new &quot;lower rates will spur lending which will spur economic growth which will create jobs&quot; lows...</p> <p><a href=""><em>As Bloomberg reports,</em></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Renzi said today&rsquo;s increase in the unemployment rate is partly due to more people starting to look actively for a job. The so-called <strong>&ldquo;discouraged&rdquo; workers</strong> who are not looking for work are not counted in the Istat jobless data.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Unemployment data are worrying,&rdquo; said Renzi, whose comments on the sidelines of an event in Catania were broadcast by SkyTG24.<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong> &ldquo;We cannot deny the problems out there, still we shouldn&rsquo;t see the glass half empty either.&rdquo;</strong></span></p> </blockquote> <p>Is this worrying?</p> <p><a href=""><img height="313" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As we asked - entirely rhetorically - before - just what is it that ECB sovereign QE supposed to achieve?</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><a href="">As Reuters reports, </a>deflation looms...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Italy is stuck in a rut of diminishing expectations. </strong>Numbed by years of wage freezes, and skeptical the government can improve their economic fortunes, Italians are hoarding what money they have and cutting back on basic purchases, from detergent to windows.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;I see an enormous danger that we will still be in this situation in six months&#39; time, and the longer it lasts the harder it is to get out,&quot; </strong>says Gustavo Piga, an economics professor at Rome&#39;s Tor Vergata University.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I always tell myself that if we can get through this period we will come out very strong, <u><strong>but I&#39;m honestly not optimistic about the future.&quot;</strong></u></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">But it is considerably more worrisome than that...</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Fully 70% of new jobs in Italy in the third quarter of this year were filled by temporary contracts, according to labour ministry statistics released Friday that highlighted the precariousness of the employment picture.</strong></em></span></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>All Europe needs is bond-buying-backed lower rates and it will reach escape velocity... right?</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="961" height="501" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bond Italy Reuters Unemployment Sat, 29 Nov 2014 01:00:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498382 at This Sunday May Mark The End Of Western Monetary Dominance <p><em>Submitted by<a href=""> Simon Black via Sovereign Man blog</a>,</em></p> <p><strong>Walking down the streets of Constantinople in the early Middle Ages, you would have immediately felt the energy and prosperity.</strong></p> <p>Constantinople was one of the wealthiest, most advanced cities in the world, and some historians estimate its population could have been as high as 500,000 people.</p> <p>Byzantine architecture in Constantinople was world famous, and local artists were producing mosaics that are still regarded as some of the finest ever made.</p> <p>At this point in history, wealth and power in the world was clearly concentrated in the East.</p> <p>Europe was nothing more than a plague-infested backwater. Constantinople flourished. And even further to the east, China was sporting some of the most advanced technology in the world.</p> <p><strong>But times changed.</strong></p> <p><strong>By the 13th century, the Byzantine Empire was in clear decline. Its borders were shrinking and the empire was at the center of almost constant warfare.</strong></p> <p><strong>And more importantly, they had begun to debase their currency. Again.</strong></p> <p>For centuries, the Byzantine gold solidus had acted as sort of de-facto international reserve currency. It contained roughly 4.5 grams of pure gold and was used in trade and commerce around the world for nearly seven centuries.</p> <p><em>(Modern archaeologists have unearthed medieval gold solidus coins as far east as Inner Mongolia!)</em></p> <p>Problem is&ndash; war is terribly expensive. And they paid for it by debasing by their currency. By the 11th century, the gold content in the solidus had been debased to the point that it was no longer worth anything.</p> <p><strong>So they gave it another try. Fool me once. Shame on you.</strong></p> <p>The successor to the solidus was called the hyperon; it was initially struck at 20.5 carats of gold (roughly 85% purity). But this was quickly reduced to 18 carats, then 15, then 12.</p> <p>Fool me twice. Shame on me.</p> <p><strong>Enough was enough, and the rising powers in Europe demanded an alternative.</strong></p> <p>It was the Italians (the most advanced power in Europe at the time) who solved the problem.</p> <p>Florence, Genoa, and Venice were all minting their own gold coins by the 13th century, and the 3.5g Florentine florin soon became the new international reserve standard used across Europe.</p> <p>In many ways, this marks the beginning of the West&rsquo;s rise to dominance: it all started with declaring their monetary independence from a declining power and a currency they could no longer trust.</p> <p><strong>Fast forward several centuries and we can see that the tables have clearly turned.</strong></p> <p>The West has been the dominant superpower for centuries. Yet like the Byzantines before, the West is in obvious decline.</p> <p>At this point insurmountable debts and deficits plague nearly all Western governments. And they make up the difference by debasing their currencies.</p> <p>This has created massive distrust, especially in the world&rsquo;s most dominant reserve currency today, the US dollar.</p> <p>Like the Venetians and Florentines before them, rising powers in Asia are starting to take matters into their own hands.</p> <p>The Chinese renminbi (<a href="" target="_blank">though surely not a one-way bet</a>) is rising in international prominence. And China is at the center of a new emerging global financial system being set up in partnership with Russia, India, Brazil, etc.</p> <p><strong>Western dominance was born from a distrust in the dominant reserve currency at the time. Its decline will be because they followed the same route.</strong></p> <p><strong>And the canary in the coal mine is what&rsquo;s happening in Switzerland this weekend.</strong></p> <p>On Sunday, the people of Switzerland are going to the polls to vote on a return to the gold standard.</p> <p>It was only 14 years ago that the Swiss franc, traditionally seen as a safe haven currency due to Switzerland&rsquo;s reputation for stability, was still on a gold standard.</p> <p>In fact, of all the major currencies, the Swiss franc was the last to abandon prudent monetary standards.</p> <p>Ever since then, the Swiss National Bank&rsquo;s balance sheet has absolutely exploded.</p> <p>Now there&rsquo;s a national election to return to a gold standard and conservative monetary policy.</p> <p>Right now the polls suggest that the Swiss are leaning towards &lsquo;NO&rsquo;, i.e. they want to continue to abandon prudent practices and hand over total control of the money supply to unelected central bankers.</p> <p>And if the country that has the world&rsquo;s strongest traditions for financial stability chooses to turn its back on sound money, what hope is there for the rest of the West?</p> <p><strong>If the Swiss vote NO this weekend, I view that as a major watershed moment in signaling the beginning of the end of Western monetary dominance.</strong></p> <p><strong>We can already see the signs everywhere.</strong></p> <p>Across Europe, government bond yields are NEGATIVE, i.e. you have to PAY these bankrupt governments for the privilege of loaning them money.</p> <p>And as IMF director Christine Lagarde said last week that a diet of high debt, low growth and high unemployment may yet become &ldquo;the new normal in Europe&rdquo;.</p> <p>Each of these data points signals an obvious long-term trend. We can see where this is going.</p> <p>But here&rsquo;s the good news: none of this need affect you. The power is in your hands.</p> <p>Even if the Swiss divorce themselves from prudent policy, and even if your government refuses to maintain sound money, you still have options.</p> <p>You can choose to maintain a portion of your savings at a well-capitalized bank abroad in stronger currencies.</p> <p>You can choose to hold some physical precious metals (or even cryptocurrency) overseas at a secure location where it can&rsquo;t be confiscated by a bankrupt government.</p> <p>You can choose to own productive assets abroad or collectibles that cannot be conjured out of thin air by central bankers.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">All of these tools and resources already exist today</a>. And for now, they&rsquo;re available for anyone to take advantage of.</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="610" height="462" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bond Brazil China ETC India Monetary Policy Money Supply New Normal None Precious Metals Renminbi Reserve Currency Swiss Franc Swiss National Bank Switzerland Unemployment Sat, 29 Nov 2014 00:00:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498381 at Moar Stuff <p>Essential...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="604" height="425" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><em>Source: Cagle</em></a></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="604" height="425" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 23:00:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498380 at What Can Hong Kong And Cuba Teach Us About Economic Policy? <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Daniel Mitchell</em></a>,</p> <p>Early this year, I shared <a href="">an amusing but accurate image</a> that showed an important difference between capitalism and socialism.</p> <p>And in 2012, I <a href="">posted a comparison of Detroit and Hiroshima</a> to illustrate the damage of big government.</p> <p>Well, if you combine those concepts, you get this very pointed look at the evolution of Cuban socialism and Hong Kong capitalism.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" class="alignnone" src=";h=554" style="width: 600px; height: 462px;" /></a></p> <p>Some might dismiss these photos as being unrepresentative, and it&rsquo;s reasonable to be skeptical. After all, I&rsquo;m sure it would be easy to put together a series of photos that make it seem as if the United States is suffering from decay while France is enjoying a boom.</p> <p>So let&rsquo;s go to the data. In previous posts, I&rsquo;ve shared comparisons of long-run economic performance in market-oriented nations and statist countries. Examples include <a href="">Chile vs. Argentina vs. Venezuela</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">North Korea vs. South Korea</a>, <a href="">Cuba vs. Chile</a>, <a href="">Ukraine vs. Poland</a>, <a href="">Hong Kong vs. Argentina</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">Singapore vs. Jamaica</a>, and the <a href="">United States vs. Hong Kong and Singapore</a>.</p> <p>Now let&rsquo;s add Cuba vs. Hong Kong to the mix.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" class="alignnone" height="401" src="" width="562" /></a></p> <p>Wow, this is amazing. Through much of the 1950s, Hong Kong and Cuba were economically similar, and both were very close to the world average.</p> <p>Then Hong Kong became a poster child for capitalism while Cuba became an outpost of Soviet communism. And, as you might expect, the people of Hong Kong prospered.</p> <p>What about the Cubans? Well, I suppose a leftist could argue that they&rsquo;re all equally poor and that universal deprivation somehow makes Cuban society better Hong Kong, where not everybody gets rich at the same rate.</p> <p>But even that would be a lie since Cuba&rsquo;s communist elite doubtlessly enjoys a very comfortable lifestyle. So while the rest of the country endures hardships such as <a href="">a toilet paper shortage</a>, the party bosses presumably drink champagne and eat caviar.</p> <p>The bottom line is that statists still don&rsquo;t have an acceptable answer for <a href="">my two-part challenge</a>.</p> <p style="padding-left:30px;"><strong>1. Can you name a nation that became rich with statist policies?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">Before you say <a href="">Sweden</a>, or even <a href="">France</a>, note that I asked you to name a nation that became rich during a period when it followed policies of interventionism and big government. Countries in Western Europe became rich during the 1800s and early 1900s <a href="">when government was very small</a>. <a href=""><img alt="" class="alignright" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 460px;" /></a></p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">Indeed, government spending consumed only about 10 percent of economic output in Western Europe prior to World War I and there was <a href="">almost no redistribution</a>. That&rsquo;s more libertarian than what you find today in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore.</p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">Speaking of which, what I&rsquo;m really asking my leftist friends is that they give me the left-wing versions of Hong Kong and Singapore. These jurisdictions were relatively impoverished at the end of World War II, but they are now <a href="">both very rich by global standards</a>. And libertarians and other advocates of small government and free markets can make a very strong case that good policy played a role in their amazing rise to prosperity.</p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">So where&rsquo;s the role model for statists? What nation can they put forth as a successful example?</p> <p>I won&rsquo;t hold my breath waiting for an accurate answer.</p> <p>Now for the other part of the challenge.</p> <p style="padding-left:30px;"><strong>2. Can you name a nation that with interventionism and big government that is out-performing a similar nation with free markets and small government?</strong></p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">Before you embarrass yourself by asserting that, say, <a href="">Denmark</a> is richer than <a href="">Paraguay</a> because of statism, you need to look at the data. Denmark has a bigger welfare state than Paraguay, but it&rsquo;s much more pro-market in other respects. Indeed, it is ranked #14 in the <em><a href="">Economic Freedom of the World</a></em>, compared to #89 for Paraguay. You&rsquo;d be more clever to ask why, for example, #42 Belgium is richer than #6 Mauritius.</p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">But this is why I asked for a comparison of similar nations. In other words, find two countries that are, or were, roughly equal in terms of demographics, economic development, resource endowments, and other factors. And then I want an example of a nation with statist policy that has out-performed a nation that instead chose small government and free markets. Or the jurisdictions don&rsquo;t even need to be that similar. Just show me a statist nation that grows faster, over a meaningful period of time, than a pro-market jurisdiction.</p> <p style="padding-left:30px;">From a libertarian perspective, I can cite lots of examples, such as <a href="">Chile vs. Argentina vs. Venezuela</a>. Or <a href="">North Korea vs. South Korea</a>. Or <a href="">Ukraine vs. Poland</a>. Or <a href="">Hong Kong vs. Argentina</a>. Or <a href="">Singapore vs. Jamaica</a>. Or the <a href="">United States vs. Hong Kong and Singapore</a>. Or even <a href="">Sweden vs. Greece</a>. I could continue, but I think you get the point.</p> <p>I will patiently wait for my left-wing friends to provide examples that support their perspective, but cobwebs will form before they fulfill my challenge.</p> <p>In the meantime, here&rsquo;s <a href="">a video</a> that explains the simple recipe that countries should follow if they want to enjoy growth and prosperity.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>You&rsquo;ll notice that the video heavily borrows from <a href=""><em>Economic Freedom of the World</em></a>.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s no surprise. There&rsquo;s no better source for making apples-to-apples comparisons to see whether countries are following good policy.</p> <p>The bad news is that the United States has <a href="">taken a dive in the wrong direction</a> in these rankings.</p> <p>When Bill Clinton left office, the United States had the world&rsquo;s 3rd-freest economy. Today, thanks to <a href="">years of statism under both Bush and Obama</a>, we&rsquo;ve dropped to #17.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" class="alignleft" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 395px;" /></a></p> <p>This Lisa Benson cartoon is a very painful illustration of what&rsquo;s happening.</p> <p>America is copying the nations that are in deep trouble because of excessive government.</p> <p>Which is the same message you find in <a href="">this Glenn Foden cartoon</a> and <a href="">this Michael Ramirez cartoon</a>.</p> <p>But maybe some leftist can answer one or both of the questions above and we can stop worrying about the ever-expanding welfare state.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><em>P.S. If you prefer stories rather than images or data, this<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span><a href="">updated version of the fable of the ant and the grasshopper</a><span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span>makes a key point about incentives and redistribution. And you get a similar message from the<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span><a href="">PC version of the Little Red Hen</a>.</em></p> <p><em>P.P.S. Cuba&rsquo;s system is so wretched that <a href="">even Fidel Castro confessed it is a failure</a>. So maybe there&rsquo;s hope that Obama will have a similar epiphany about American-style statism!</em></p> Belgium Demographics Detroit France Greece Hong Kong North Korea Poland Ukraine Fri, 28 Nov 2014 22:10:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 498379 at The First Oil-Exporting Casualty Of The Crude Carnage: Venezuela <p>In the aftermath of OPEC's failure to cut oil production, Russia has been acting surprisingly sanguine, perhaps as a result of less leverage in its system as compared to America's own high yield-funded shale complex - now that it is a race to who will default first and be <em><strong>forced </strong></em>to take production offline - with <a href="">Putin today saying </a>"Russia will cope with the rout in crude oil",&nbsp; and adding that “we are satisfied overall with the situation and do not see anything so extraordinary in what is happening. Winter is coming and I am sure that the market will come into balance again in the first quarter or toward the middle of next year." Maybe it will, or maybe not, if indeed as those with a working frontal cortex suggest the plunge in crude prices is merely a function of a collapse in global demand now that the worldwide slowdown which has gripped Japan, Europe and China. In that case, the race to the bottom between Russia with its higher cash costs, and the US shale sector, loaded to the gills with billions in junk bonds, will be an epic one to watch. </p> <p>But one country whose fate is now virtually assured - with a happy ending now sadly out of the picture - is the same one <a href="">that stormed out furious</a> at yesterday's failure by OPEC's cartel members to carve out a consensus leading to higher oil prices: Venezuela. </p> <p>Here pretty much everything is about to go unhinged, with what now looks like an almost inevitable sovereign default as the endgame, coupled with the removal of a few million barrels of oil from the global supply chain, something which all the other OPEC members will be delighted by. </p> <p>For confirmation one can merely look at the Venezuela bolivar, <strong>which earlier today feel to a record low of 150.76 VEF/USD </strong>on the black market according to, which tracks rate at Colombian border, and as reported by Bloomberg moments ago. Indicatively, the official rate is 6.3 VEF/USD; the <em><strong>first </strong></em>unofficial rate that based on Sicad I, is 12 VEF/USD, while the <em><strong>second </strong></em>unofficial rate, per Sicad II is 50 VEF/USD. </p> <p>But what best shows that for Venezuela it is essentially game over, is that as the chart below shows, Venezuela’s international reserves declined $1.3 billion in the week after President Nicolas Maduro transfered $4 billion of Chinese loans to the central bank. In other words, the scrambling oil exporter was forced to <strong>burn one third of its Chinese bail-out loan to keep itself solvent.&nbsp; </strong>The country’s reserves dropped to $22.2 billion today, according to central bank data. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="320" /></a></p> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg also notes</a>, Maduro on Nov. 18 ordered the Chinese loan proceeds to be moved from an off-budget fund, so that they would show up in reserves and help boost investor confidence in an economy beset by the world’s highest inflation and widest budget deficit. The following day, Venezuelan bonds rose the most in six years in intraday trading.</p> <p>“<strong>If the plan was to calm the bondholders, then burning through a third of that money in five working days doesn’t do it in any way</strong>,” Henkel Garcia, director of Caracas-based consultancy Econometrica, said in a telephone interview. But while Venezuela's bondholders will be livid, Venezuela's "friends" from the OPEC cartel will be delighted: after all its default means one less producer on line, and a natural increase in the price of oil. </p> <p>Trading in Venezuela’s dollar bonds was closed today for a U.S. holiday. It will reopen on Monday at which point we expect the market to be as close to "offer-only" as possible, because burning through over $1 billion in reserves in 1 week with crude plunging to under $70 means that Venezuela now may have about 6 months of liquidity left at best, since one thing is certain: China will not throw more good money, as in Venezuela bailout loans, after bad. </p> <p>The only thing that is uncertain is how long until some army general figures out what is going on and decides to go "Kiev" on that paragon of best efforts socialism, Venezuela's soon to be ex-president Nicolas Maduro. </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="719" height="383" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Budget Deficit China Crude Crude Oil default Japan OPEC Sovereign Default Fri, 28 Nov 2014 20:31:36 +0000 Tyler Durden 498386 at