en The Transformation Of Our Nation Into A Surveillance State Is Almost Complete <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via,</em></a></p> <p><a href=""><img height="358" src="" width="560" /></a></p> <p>The headlines are awash with the recent tensions with North Korea, and most are focused intently upon this act of the play that has been running hot for several years, now.&nbsp; <strong>Akin to the proverbial frog in cold water, however, we are not paying as much attention to the surveillance state that is <a href="" target="_blank">continuing to wrap its tentacles around us</a>.</strong>&nbsp; Eurasia is our ally, Eastasia is our enemy&hellip;and nobody notices that the chocolate ration has been diminished.&nbsp; While everyone focuses on what is reported in the headline news, everybody misses what is happening right before their eyes.</p> <p>Point of Sale is the new jail, the ubiquitous surveillance system that records your every purchase and stores it in a personal database&hellip;an algorithm&hellip;in the <a href="" target="_blank">government storage facility in Utah</a>.&nbsp; Look above that register.&nbsp; It doesn&rsquo;t matter whether you have a debit or credit purchase or not.&nbsp; Paying cash?&nbsp; <strong>Your anonymity only lasts until your image is captured in the little black dome camera right above your head</strong>&hellip;right next to the register.&nbsp; The sale is recorded, as well as your image.</p> <p>Now the biometrics are becoming advanced enough to be able to measure the spacing between your eyes, the shapes of the ears, and other idiosyncrasies that are peculiar to each individual.&nbsp; But these differences do not matter, as long as they can be <em>catalogued</em>. &nbsp;&nbsp;All the states pretty much have Real ID, now, with driver&rsquo;s licenses all linked into a central database and passed through the fusion centers and police departments at local, state, and national level.&nbsp; 1984 is now.</p> <p>Here is an excerpt from the <strong>Passports page of the State Department</strong> of <strong>January 12, 2016</strong>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Friday that Real ID-compliant identification, such as a passport or a driver&rsquo;s license from a Real ID-compliant state, will not be required to fly domestically until 2018.</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, this is serious.&nbsp; Laws are not in place yet to prevent you from disguising yourself or <a href="" target="_blank">altering your appearance</a>.&nbsp; Yet.&nbsp; They do make it a crime to alter your appearance in the commission of a crime.&nbsp; The question becomes when do they make it a crime to vary from their THX-1138 program for us and keep them from recording you?&nbsp; Probably very soon.</p> <p>In previous articles, it was mentioned that it is a rollercoaster with the administrations and the amount they can push the peoples&rsquo; perceptions of what is intolerable.&nbsp; As many of you have pointed out, the political party doesn&rsquo;t matter&hellip;the surveillance state inches forward in increments: steadily and without respite.&nbsp; We are in a &ldquo;slow&rdquo; phase right now.&nbsp; President Trump is &ldquo;in,&rdquo; and the people are riding the crest of their &ldquo;newfound freedoms,&rdquo; right?&nbsp; Not so fast.&nbsp; Bush Jr. was certainly better than Clinton; however, his actions enabled the Warner Defense Act of 2006 and the abrogation of Constitutional rights in that 100-mile buffer zone around the Continental United States.&nbsp; The Patriot Act had already been in place, and many refinements were made to alter limitations on presidential actions concerning disclosure on actions overt and covert initiated by the Commander-in-Chief.</p> <p><strong>Obama came in and took the driver&rsquo;s seat, and took away so many more of our individual rights and protections that the staggering populace is just now beginning to realize exactly what he did.</strong>&nbsp; Those actions have not been negated, and may even be promulgated.&nbsp; Most of the limaceous public is unaware, because the handouts and entitlements keep them stultified and obedient to whatever politician throws them the free Gaines Burgers.</p> <p><u><em><strong>The surveillance state is almost ubiquitous, and it has been made so through the efforts of our own complacencies.</strong></em></u></p> <p>Let us return to the point of sale.&nbsp; It isn&rsquo;t simply for &ldquo;inventory.&rdquo;&nbsp; The main reason these corporations claim to store your demographics is for &ldquo;marketing purposes,&rdquo; but all of them are (at a minimum) &ldquo;back-doored&rdquo; by the NSA and other agencies who are scanning your information.&nbsp; They also have that cellular telephone to work with&hellip;the one that transmits a &ldquo;pulse&rdquo; every 4 seconds and stores information&hellip;metadata for large groups of people or geographic peculiarities&hellip;and personal information.</p> <p>The happy cell phone is off and in your blazer, but it has sent a pulse out with your GPS location&hellip;in front of Cabela&rsquo;s.&nbsp; <strong>When you go in and buy the ammo?&nbsp; The camera records your image and there&rsquo;s a tie-in with the real-time purchase on your receipt.&nbsp; You&rsquo;re known.&nbsp; Your vehicle is known, your itinerary for the day is known.&nbsp; It is also recorded.</strong></p> <p>All your shopping habits, everywhere you drive, where you shop for gas, and stop for a coffee break.&nbsp;<strong> All the cameras are recording.</strong>&nbsp; In addition, our fellow citizens, the &ldquo;Muppets&rdquo; are always communicating with you and photographing things with their little cameras.&nbsp; All of your activities, all of your banking, your entire life&rsquo;s actions are all right there for them to paint a picture of you&hellip;and catalogue you for a later date&hellip;information stored and ready at their fingertips to access.</p> <p><strong>Edward Snowden spilled the beans concerning the surveillance that is becoming even more out of control.&nbsp; </strong>The satellites are being fine-tuned and honed, and it is occurring all over the world.&nbsp; Whole generations are being taught to conform now, while they are in their youth&hellip;in the schools, that are merely cages where children are taught only what they need to be functional.&nbsp; Children are made into <a href="" target="_blank">obedient little beasts of conformity that can be controlled later</a>&hellip;<em>later</em>, by those with power and money who were schooled to think creatively and to actually <em>think</em>, instead of regurgitating useless bits of information.</p> <p><strong>The funding for all of these actions come right from our taxes.&nbsp;</strong> We pay our jailers to create larger, more ingenious prisons to control us.&nbsp; Eventually come the chains for the ankles, and the abattoir materializes.&nbsp; There is less of a gap between total surveillance and &ldquo;Soylent Green&rdquo; than most people realize.&nbsp; For a good read, check out an older article written by Brandon Smith entitled <a href="" target="_blank">Low-Tech Solutions for High-Tech Tyranny</a>. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s a good &ldquo;starter piece&rdquo; for your consideration if you have not thought of these things.&nbsp; Pick up <a href="" target="_blank">Citizen Four</a>, a documentary about Edward Snowden.</p> <p>This stuff is happening <em>now</em>.&nbsp; Just because we are rid of Obama does not mean we are rid of the Globalist agenda and the transformation of our nation into a complete surveillance state.&nbsp; It is almost in place.&nbsp; Almost.&nbsp; The important thing is to know about it and not be lulled into a false sense of security that all is well, when it is not.&nbsp; It hasn&rsquo;t happened yet, but &ldquo;yet&rdquo; can mean that it happens tomorrow.&nbsp;<strong> It is going to depend on us: seeing it for what it is, and refusing to go &ldquo;gently into that good night.&rdquo;</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="560" height="358" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> cellular telephone Crime prevention Demographics Department of Homeland Security Department of State Edward Snowden GPS headlines Law enforcement Learning National security North Korea Security Surveillance United States Army Special Forces Wed, 29 Mar 2017 03:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591937 at "Something Stinks Here" - CrowdStrike Revises, Retracts Parts Of Explosive Russian Hacking Report <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,</em></a></p> <p><em><a href=""><img height="387" src="" width="600" /></a></em></p> <p>Last week, I published two posts on cyber security firm CrowdStrike after becoming aware of inaccuracies in one of its key reports used to bolster the&nbsp;claim that operatives of the Russian government had hacked into the DNC. <strong>This is extremely important since the DNC hired CrowdStrike to look into its hack, and&nbsp;at the same time denied&nbsp;FBI access to its servers.</strong></p> <p>Before reading any further, you should read last week&rsquo;s articles if you missed them the first time.</p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to Credibility of Cyber Firm that Claimed Russia Hacked the DNC Comes Under Serious Question">Credibility of Cyber Firm that Claimed Russia Hacked the DNC Comes Under Serious Question</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to What is CrowdStrike? Firm Hired by DNC has Ties to Hillary Clinton, a Ukrainian Billionaire and Google">What is CrowdStrike? Firm Hired by DNC has Ties to Hillary Clinton, a Ukrainian Billionaire and Google</a></em></p> <p>Now here are the latest developments courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Voice of America</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year&rsquo;s American presidential election campaign.</strong> The shift followed a&nbsp;<a class="underline" href="" target="_blank">VOA report that the company misrepresented data</a>&nbsp;published by an influential British think tank.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In December, CrowdStrike said it found evidence that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, contributing to heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine&rsquo;s war with pro-Russian separatists.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>VOA reported Tuesday that the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which publishes an annual reference estimating the strength of world armed forces, disavowed the CrowdStrike report and said it had never been contacted by the company.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence.</strong> The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by &ldquo;Fancy Bear,&rdquo; a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>CrowdStrike&rsquo;s claims of heavy Ukrainian artillery losses were widely circulated in U.S. media.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>On Thursday, CrowdStrike walked back key parts of its Ukraine report.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The company removed language that said Ukraine&rsquo;s artillery lost 80 percent of the Soviet-era D-30 howitzers, which used aiming software that purportedly was hacked. Instead, the revised report cites figures of 15 to 20 percent losses in combat operations, attributing the figures to IISS.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Finally, CrowdStrike deleted a statement saying &ldquo;deployment of this malware-infected application may have contributed to the high-loss nature of this platform&rdquo; &mdash; meaning the howitzers &mdash; and excised a link sourcing its IISS data to a blogger in Russia-occupied Crimea.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In an email, CrowdStrike spokeswoman Ilina Dmitrova said the new estimates of Ukrainian artillery losses resulted from conversations with Henry Boyd, an IISS research associate for defense and military analysis. She declined to say what prompted the contact.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Dmitrova noted that the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community have also concluded that Russia was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s campaign manager.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Here&rsquo;s the problem. </strong></span>Yes, the FBI has agreed with CrowdStrike&rsquo;s conclusion, but the FBI did not analyze the DNC servers because the DNC specifically denied the FBI access. This was noteworthy&nbsp;in its own right, but it takes on vastly increased significance given the serious errors in a related hacking report produced by&nbsp;the company.</p> <p>As such, serious questions need to be asked. Why did FBI head James Comey outsource his job to CrowdStrike, and why did&nbsp;he heap praise on the company? For instance, back in January,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Comey&nbsp;referred to CrowdStrike</a> as a&nbsp;&ldquo;highly respected private company.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>In a hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon outlining the intelligence agencies&rsquo; findings on Russian election interference, <strong>Comey said there were &ldquo;multiple requests at different levels&rdquo; for access to the Democratic servers, but that ultimately a &ldquo;highly respected private company&rdquo; was granted access and shared its findings with the FBI.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Where does all this respect come from considering how badly it botched the Ukraine report?</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Something stinks here, and the FBI needs to be held to account.</strong></span></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="768" height="495" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Computer security Computing Congressional Campaign Committee CrowdStrike Cybercrime Cyberwarfare Democratic National Committee Democratic National Committee Democratic Party Dmitri Alperovitch Fancy Bear FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation Google International Institute for Strategic Studies James Comey National security Politics Russian government Russian intelligence Security engineering Senate Intelligence Committee U.S. intelligence Ukraine Wed, 29 Mar 2017 03:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591936 at LA, Chicago, & New York Vow To Defy Trump Over Sanctuary City De-Funding <p><strong><em>&quot;We are going to become this administration&#39;s worst nightmare.&quot;</em></strong> Leading officials from Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York have come out swinging a day after <a href="">AG Sessions demanded yesterday</a> that the country&#39;s so-called &#39;Sanctuary Cities&#39; stop breaking Federal laws (or their funding will be cut, or worse).</p> <p>Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the surprise appearance at Sean Spicer&#39;s daily White House press briefing to announce that his DOJ will be taking steps to not only require that so-called &quot;sanctuary cities&quot; enforce federal immigration laws but would also be seeking to claw back past DOJ awards granted to those cities if they refuse to certify compliance.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;Today, I&#39;m urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws.&nbsp; Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for DOJ grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition for receiving those awards.&quot;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;This policy is entirely consistent with the DOJ&#39;s Office of Justice Programs guidance that was issued just last summer under the previous administration.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;This guidance requires jurisdictions to comply and certify compliance with Section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants.&nbsp; It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding grants, termination of grants and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;The DOJ will also take all lawful steps to claw back any fines awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates Section 1373.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Attorney General Sessions says sanctuary cities &#39;cannot continue&#39; <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) <a href="">March 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Sessions&#39; demands were not well met by the major cities&#39; leaders...</p> <p><a href="">New York was vocal.</a>..</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;We are going to become this administration&#39;s worst nightmare,&quot; said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, </strong>who was among officials gathered in New York for a small conference that attracted officials from cities including San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mark-Viverito and others promised to block federal immigration agents from accessing certain private areas on city property, to restrict their access to schools and school records and to offer legal services to immigrants in the country illegally.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">California was angry</a>...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>California Senate leader Kevin de León called Sessions&#39; message, &quot;nothing short of blackmail. ...</strong> Their gun-to-the-head method to force resistant cities and counties to participate in Trump&#39;s inhumane and counterproductive mass-deportation is unconstitutional and will fail.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday he will fight efforts by the Trump administration to take away federal funding needed for law enforcement in Los Angeles.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Garcetti said that such actions would be unconstitutional, adding that the city&rsquo;s policies are &ldquo;designed to keep our residents safe.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Slashing funds for first-responders, for our port and airport, for counterterrorism, crime-fighting and community-building serves no one &mdash; not this city, not the federal government, not the American people,&rdquo; </strong>he said. &ldquo;We will fight to protect the safety and dignity of all Angelenos, and we will work closely with our representatives in Congress to make sure that Los Angeles does not go without federal resources that help protect millions of people every day.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>And <a href="">Chicago was welcoming</a>... to immigrants...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel doubled down on his own promise that<strong> Chicago will &ldquo;continue to welcome&rdquo; immigrants.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&quot;I&#39;ve always seen Chicago as a welcoming city,&rdquo; </strong>Emanuel said in an interview from the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York on Monday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;It welcomed my grandfather 100 years ago, we continue to welcome entrepreneurs, immigrants, and I would just say think of it this way: Half the new businesses in Chicago and the state of Illinois come from immigrants, nearly half,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;Half the patents at the University of Illinois come from immigrants, and so we want to continue to welcome people, welcome their ideas, welcome their families to the city of Chicago, who want to build the American dream for their children and their grandchildren.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>As a reminder, in Sessions&#39; view, <strong><em>these cities &quot;make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets.&quot;</em></strong></p> <p>We are sure the tax-paying people of these great cities will be happy to support more taxation to pay for that loss of safety.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Under Trump&rsquo;s order, mayors defending their sanctuary city status are essentially imposing a defiance tax on local residents. On average, this tax amounts to $500 per man, woman and child.</strong></span> Major cities like Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago have the most to lose, and nearly $27 billion is at stake across the country.</p> <p>Here are the top&nbsp;10 takeaways from our findings:</p> <ol> <li><strong>$26.741 billion in annual federal grants and direct payments flowed into America&rsquo;s 106 sanctuary cities (FY2016).</strong></li> <li>On average,<strong> the cost of lost federal funding for a family of four residing in one of the 106 sanctuary cities is $1,810 &ndash; or $454 per person.</strong> A total population of 46.2 million residents live in the 106 sanctuary cities according to census data.</li> <li>Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Illinois governments received the highest amount of federal funding per resident and, therefore, have the most to lose by maintaining their sanctuary status.Washington, D.C. municipal government received the highest amount of federal funding on a per capita basis: $3,228 per person; $12,912 per family of four; or $2.09 billion total. The City of Chicago, IL received the second highest amount of federal funding on a per capita basis: $1,942 per person; $7,768 per family of four; or $5.3 billion total.</li> <li>In cities with populations of 100,000 and above, the communities with the least per capita federal dollars &lsquo;at risk&rsquo; are St. Paul, Minnesota ($47 per person, $14.2 million total); Downey, California ($36 per person, $4.2 million total) and Miami, Florida ($67 per person, $29.7 million total).</li> <li><strong>$15.983 billion in federal funds flowed into just twelve major American cities where 1 in 5 illegal entrants reside (FY2016).</strong></li> <li>Department of Justice grants to law enforcement &ndash; i.e. city police departments &ndash; totaled $543.97 million (FY2016). Typically, this funding was only a small percentage of the local law enforcement budgets.</li> <li><strong>$4.23 billion in federal funding of the 106 sanctuary cities flowed via the &lsquo;direct payment&rsquo; type.</strong> These payments funded municipal services such as housing, education, community development, and schools.</li> <li>$21.5 billion in federal funding of the 106 sanctuary cities flowed via the &lsquo;grant&rsquo; payment mechanism. These payments funded local police and fire departments, schools, housing, and city services.</li> <li><strong>In Los Angeles, fully 1 in 5 city residents (22-percent) are illegal entrants.</strong> However, the amount of federal funding amounts to only $126 per resident; $504 per family of four; or $502.5 million total.</li> <li>In Newark, New Jersey, 19-percent of city residents are undocumented entrants. However, the amount of federal funding amounts to $733 per resident; $2,932 per family of four; or $206.7 million.</li> </ol> <p><strong>The threat of losing nearly $27 billion in federal funding seems to be having an effect on some cities. In fact, Miami already reversed their sanctuary city policy.</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="352" height="242" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> California California Senate Congress Demography Department of Justice Department of Justice DOJ Eric Garcetti Fail federal government Florida Fox Business Illinois Immigration Jews NASDAQ New York City New York City Council Rahm Emanuel Sanctuary city Social Issues Trump Administration Twitter Twitter University of Illinois Washington D.C. White House White House Wed, 29 Mar 2017 03:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591891 at Foundation & Empire - Is Donald Trump 'The Mule'? <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,</em></a></p> <p>In <strong><a href="">Part One</a></strong> of this article I analyzed the similarities of Isaac Asimov&rsquo;s Foundation Trilogy to Strauss &amp; Howe&rsquo;s Fourth Turning, trying to assess how Donald Trump&rsquo;s ascension to power fits into the theories put forth by those authors. <strong>Now I will compare Trump to the most interesting character in Asimov&rsquo;s classic &ndash; The Mule.</strong></p> <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Mule</span></h3> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>&ldquo;A horse having a wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man&rsquo;s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. </em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him. &ldquo;The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: &lsquo;Now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.&rsquo; &ldquo;Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, &lsquo;Never!&rsquo; and applied the spurs with a will.&rdquo;</em> &ndash; <a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=789693348822eb1ce5483249f2ae4b2c&amp;creativeASIN=0307292061"><strong>Isaac Asimov</strong>, <strong>Foundation</strong></a></p> <p><img class="aligncenter" src="" /></p> <p>I had not thought about the Foundation Trilogy for decades, until someone recently mentioned it in a comment on my website.<strong> They pondered whether Trump&rsquo;s arrival on the scene represented The Mule&rsquo;s advent during the decline of the Galactic Empire.</strong> Trump&rsquo;s numerous enemies would love to portray him as an evil mutant freakish warlord, bent on using his persuasion powers to mislead the populace into doing his bidding. I don&rsquo;t necessarily see Trump as The Mule, but as a disrupting factor, disturbing the best laid plans of the establishment and helping reveal the hidden agendas of the <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ccd91ea3bbabeb44e3246c77d9637230&amp;creativeASIN=0143109936">Deep State</a></strong>.</p> <p>Seldon&rsquo;s science of psychohistory was outstanding at predicting the behavior of large populations but worthless in trying to predict what an individual might do. The emergence of the Mule, a mentalic mutant with an acute telepathic ability to modify the emotions of human beings, could not have been predicted by the Seldon Plan, focused as it was on the statistical movements of vast numbers of peoples and populations across the galaxy.</p> <p><strong>The Mule was the unpredictable variable in the equations of history and the greatest threat to the Seldon Plan.</strong> He&nbsp;disrupts the inevitability of the continued evolution of the First Foundation and potential early ending of the Dark Age. The Mule, through telepathic manipulation, defeats and takes over the Foundation&rsquo;s growing empire, which has become&nbsp;increasingly control-oriented and out-of-touch with the outer planets in its rapidly expanding realm of influence.</p> <p>There are certainly parallels between Trump&rsquo;s arrival on the scene and The Mule&rsquo;s psychohistory defying disruption of Seldon&rsquo;s Plan.<strong> The Mule was described as a freak and the subject of derision. This fueled his ambition to take over the galaxy.</strong> I believe Trump decided he was going to be president on April 30, 2011 during the Correspondence Dinner at the White House when Obama unrelentingly mocked and derided him in front of the corrupt Washington power establishment. This public ridicule from an empty suit community organizer president, who never worked a real day in his life, angered Trump to his core and propelled him to seek and win the presidency.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter" src="" /></p> <p><strong>The Mule enters the scene disguised as a clown named Magnifico Giganticus.</strong> Over time, he uses his psycho-manipulative abilities to sway the masses to his side and eventually takes over the galaxy. When Trump announced his candidacy, it was taken as a public relations stunt to further his faltering reality TV career. He has a magnificent gigantic ego. His persona was that of an irascible self-made billionaire with an enormous ego and hunger for the spotlight. He was the butt of many orange hair and orange skin jokes.</p> <p>For the most part, he went along with the joke, as any publicity is good publicity when you are selling yourself as a brand. He put his name on buildings, Chinese made clothing, scam universities, and just about anything that would produce a buck. He became more famous for his TV show The Apprentice, and his tag-line &ldquo;You&rsquo;re Fired&rdquo;, than for the billion dollar real estate empire he had built.</p> <p><strong>Like The Mule, Trump used the GOP establishment&rsquo;s disdain and underestimation of his persuasion abilities to capture control of the party from the out of touch elitist party hacks. </strong>At the outset of his candidacy I was among the libertarian minded skeptics who didn&rsquo;t take him seriously. I found him entertaining, but didn&rsquo;t think he had the gravitas to be president. I liked his rhetoric about not interfering in foreign conflicts, protecting our borders, enforcing the rule of law, repealing the disastrous Obamacare law, and his relentless trashing of the left wing mainstream media and Washington establishment.</p> <p>I wasn&rsquo;t a big fan of his bloviating about inconsequential matters. As time passed I began to realize he was probably the Grey Champion of this <a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ea5733609f1dcee0d0971eb4338f041f&amp;creativeASIN=0767900464"><strong>Fourth Turning</strong></a> and the regeneracy towards the next phase would be his unexpected election to the highest office in the land. <strong>He was the only person capable of destroying the fetid pustule known as the <a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ccd91ea3bbabeb44e3246c77d9637230&amp;creativeASIN=0143109936">Deep State</a>.</strong></p> <p><img class="aligncenter" height="306" src="" width="522" /></p> <p>The Mule&rsquo;s tormented childhood of alienation, combined with his mental ability to alter human emotions led to his desire for power, in order to exact revenge upon the human race which caused him so much pain. Trump&rsquo;s childhood was no walk in the park, but it was far from being tortured. His father did send him to military school at the age of 13 to instill some discipline in him. It does seem like his drive to succeed was spurred by a desire to prove himself to his father and be more successful than his old man. Unlike The Mule, his motivation is not revenge motivated, unless you consider it revenge upon Obama for the abuse he withstood during that dinner.</p> <p>The Mule had the mental capabilities to turn antagonists into followers, converting feelings of animosity into those of intense loyalty. He could also stimulate feelings of pervasive fear and panic among his enemies. He used the subtle influence of the subconscious to conscript individuals to his cause. The Mule used his mental powers to disrupt Seldon&rsquo;s plan by invalidating his assumption no single individual could have a quantifiable impact on historical trends predicted by his theory of psychohistory.<strong> The Mule is a Grey Champion-like character rising to power at a crucial time in history as the disruptive factor to the best laid plans of over-confident elitists. The Mule uses his extraordinary cerebral abilities to conquer the unprepared and over-confident <a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=4b8b64051b9923275d897a236bef8f40&amp;creativeASIN=0307292061">Foundation</a>.</strong></p> <p><img class="aligncenter" height="380" src="" width="503" /></p> <p><strong>Trump has been underestimated every step of the way for the last two years. </strong>He has thrown sand into the gears of the political establishment, made up of both parties, and controlled by Deep State players used to getting their way. Trump was able to use his powers of persuasion to overcome the left wing media propaganda and motivate a large swath of disaffected Americans to come over to his side. The never ending barrage of misinformation and fake news spewed by the <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ccd91ea3bbabeb44e3246c77d9637230&amp;creativeASIN=0143109936">Deep State</a></strong> controlled media ignores the fact he won 53% of the white women vote, along with huge numbers of union workers from blue collar states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.</p> <p>As documented during the campaign by Scott Adams, <strong>Trump&rsquo;s phenomenal power of persuasion overcame all obstacles thrown in his way by the crooked establishment. </strong>He had no support from the GOP power players, was despised and ridiculed by the horribly corrupt Democratic establishment machine, scorned and mocked by the fake news corporate media, and undermined by the surveillance apparatus at the behest of the rancid resentful reprobate occupying the oval office. Their pure unadulterated hatred for the man resulted in them becoming blindsided and baffled by his tactics, strategy, and Svengali-like ability to draw huge crowds of normal Americans in flyover country.</p> <p>Trump has disrupted the ongoing <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ccd91ea3bbabeb44e3246c77d9637230&amp;creativeASIN=0143109936">Deep State</a></strong> capture of our political, economic, financial, social, and cultural systems as a once in a lifetime figure destined to govern during a time of domestic disorder, global upheaval, civil chaos and ultimately war on a grand scale. The looting and pillaging campaign of the ruling class, disguised as free market capitalism and democracy, has been put at risk by an uncontrollable unpredictable outsider who doesn&rsquo;t act according to their Plan.</p> <p><strong>The staged violent response by the billionaire funded left wing faux anarchists, fake news Russian conspiracy propaganda, and NSA/CIA/FBI campaign to discredit and/or overthrow the Trump presidency is the kind of response you would expect from a dangerous threatened animal backed into a corner. </strong>The establishment will not relinquish control without a bloody drawn out fight to the finish.</p> <p>Since we know Asimov modeled the trilogy on Gibbons&rsquo; <a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=3c142cd092ea459ccc0bb368e23d48a7&amp;creativeASIN=0753818817"><strong>The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire</strong></a>, there has been much conjecture as to who The Mule represented. He has historical parallels with Attila the Hun, Tamerlane, Charlemagne and Roman Emperor Augustus. Based on the historical time frame in which he was writing (1941 &ndash; 1950), I think it is safe to assume he modeled some of The Mule&rsquo;s traits after Adolf Hitler. His disturbed childhood, trauma during the First World War, hypnotic ability to manipulate the emotions of the German people, boldness in attacking his perceived enemies, and attempt at world conquest, parallels much of The Mule&rsquo;s story.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter" height="381" src="" width="508" /></p> <p>When I try to find parallels to our current situation and the role Trump is playing, I see the <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=4b8b64051b9923275d897a236bef8f40&amp;creativeASIN=0307292061">Foundation</a></strong> trilogy in a different light. Isaac Asimov was an intellectual. He had a PhD in biochemistry and was a life-long member of Mensa. He was a university professor for most of his life. Academics believe in theories and academic mumbo jumbo, as we can see from decades of academics running the Federal Reserve, destroying our currency and forcing millions into economic servitude.</p> <p>Hari Seldon is an intellectual who creates the <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=4b8b64051b9923275d897a236bef8f40&amp;creativeASIN=0307292061">Foundation</a></strong>, made up of other academic intellectuals. Then he sets up a Second Foundation of even more talented intellectuals as a backup plan in case the <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=4b8b64051b9923275d897a236bef8f40&amp;creativeASIN=0307292061">Foundation</a></strong> fails. The true ruling powers on this planet always have a backup plan. You never know whether the leaders or organizations you support are really part of a bigger plan you have not considered. Keeping the populace off-balance, confused, and seeking unseen enemies is just part of the plan.</p> <p><strong>The inevitable decline of the Galactic Empire was entirely predictable by Seldon, as every empire in world history has ultimately declined.</strong> Whether the Roman Empire was ruled by a despot, wise man, or idiot, it continued its centuries long decline from glory to destruction. Empires are created by fallible men whose failings, weaknesses, and desires never change. John Adams foresaw the future of an American Empire two centuries before it became an empire. The American Empire is in the process of committing suicide and a single individual, no matter how bold and resolute, will not be able to save it from its inevitable destruction.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>&ldquo;I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. &hellip; Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. </em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.&rdquo; &ndash;</em> <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=e15dfd3bb9262d366451f490f09e2ab5&amp;creativeASIN=0743223136">John Adams, The Letters of John and Abigail Adams</a></strong></p> <p><strong>I don&rsquo;t see Trump as an evil Mule character in this Shakespearian tragedy, as it progresses towards its ill-fated denouement.</strong> I also don&rsquo;t see Seldon and his ensemble of elitist intellectuals as the saviors of the universe. I see The Foundation as the Washington and Wall Street elite who are the face of the establishment &ndash; Pelosi, Schumer, Ryan, McConnell, Yellen, Dimon, Blankfein, Immelt, Gates, Buffet, etc. <strong>The Second Foundation was hidden in plain sight, operating in the shadows, unknown to the masses, and controlling the galaxy from behind the curtain. They were the Galactic <a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ccd91ea3bbabeb44e3246c77d9637230&amp;creativeASIN=0143109936">Deep State</a>.</strong></p> <p><strong>The Seldon Plan smells like a current day Soros Plan. </strong>Wealthy, highly educated, egotistical, hubristic, evil snakes who believe they are the smartest men in the world operate behind the scenes as the invisible government, manipulating the mechanisms of society and pulling the wires controlling the public mind. Soros, along with other shadowy smug billionaires, are not fans of populism.</p> <p><strong>They believe they are entitled to run the world as they choose, with no input or resistance from the ignorant masses. </strong>With the basket of deplorables rising up and electing Trump, the <strong><a href=";linkCode=w00&amp;linkId=ccd91ea3bbabeb44e3246c77d9637230&amp;creativeASIN=0143109936">Deep State</a></strong> players are now openly fighting back and revealing their warped thought process. Elitist billionaire Ray Dalio recently revealed his populism fears and those of his fellow billionaires. He doesn&rsquo;t consider himself a common man.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter" height="408" src="" width="495" /></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong><em>Populism is a political and social phenomenon that arises from the common man, typically not well-educated</em></strong><em>, being fed up with 1) wealth and opportunity gaps, 2) perceived cultural threats from those with different values in the country and from outsiders, 3) the &ldquo;establishment elites&rdquo; in positions of power, and 4) government&nbsp; not working effectively for them.&nbsp; These sentiments lead that constituency to put strong leaders in power.&nbsp; Populist leaders are typically confrontational rather&nbsp;than collaborative and exclusive rather than inclusive.&nbsp; As a result, conflicts typically occur between opposing factions (usually the economic and socially left versus the right), both within the country and between countries.&nbsp; These conflicts typically become progressively more forceful in self-reinforcing ways.&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>In other words, populism is a rebellion of the common man against the elites to some extent, against the system. The rebellion and the conflict that comes with it occur in varying degrees. Sometimes the system bends with it and sometimes the system breaks.&nbsp; Whether it bends or breaks in response to this rebellion and&nbsp;conflict depends on how flexible and well established the system is.&nbsp; It also seems to depend on how reasonable and respectful of the system the populists who gain power are. Classic populist economic policies include protectionism, nationalism, increased infrastructure building, increased military spending, greater budget deficits, and, quite often, capital controls. </em></p> <p><img class="aligncenter" height="365" src="" width="487" /></p> <p>Dalio, Soros and their fellow billionaires see populism as a threat to their wealth, power, and control of the world. But, it&rsquo;s much ado about nothing. <strong>It&rsquo;s like jockeying for the best seat on the Titanic as it sinks into the frigid ocean depths of the Atlantic.</strong> The American Empire is in shambles and no one can reverse its course at this point. I&rsquo;ll address that distressing situation in <strong><a href="">Part Three</a></strong> of this article.</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="442" height="298" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> ado Central Intelligence Agency Donald Trump Donald Trump ETC FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Reserve Fiction Foundation series Foundation universe Galactic Empire Indiana Mensa Michigan Mule Nationalism Obamacare Ohio Psychohistory Ray Dalio Real estate Reality Republican Party Roman Empire Science fiction Second Foundation Seldon Plan Speculative fiction The Foundation Trilogy US Federal Reserve White House White House Wed, 29 Mar 2017 03:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591930 at New Study Says Robots Took All Of Detroit's Jobs, Not Mexico <p>As Trump gets ready to renegotiate NAFTA and impose tariffs on companies looking to outsource production to Mexico, a new study from MIT and Boston University suggests that industrial robots, not Mexico, may be the bigger factor contributing to the high levels on unemployment in the Midwest.&nbsp; </p> <p>Entitled "<a href="">Robots and Jobs: Evidence From US Labor Markets</a>," the authors of the study found that the addition of 1 robot per 1,000 workers results in an 18-35 bps reduction in the employment-to-population ratio and 25-50bps reduction in wages.&nbsp; Per <a href="">Bloomberg</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>One additional robot per thousand workers reduces the employment-to-population ratio by 0.18 percentage points to 0.34 percentage points and slashes wages by 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent, based on their analysis.</strong> To put that in context, the U.S. saw an increase of about one new industrial robot for every thousand workers between 1993 and 2007, based on the study.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>"The employment effects of robots are most pronounced in manufacturing, and in particular, in industries most exposed to robots; in routine manual, blue collar, assembly and related occupations; and for workers with less than college education,"</strong> the authors write.<strong> "Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly, we do not find positive and offsetting employment gains in any occupation or education groups."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Worth noting: the authors estimate that <strong>robots may have increased the wage gap between the top 90th and bottom 10 percent by as much as 1 percentage point between 1990 and 2007.</strong> There's also room for much broader robot adoption, which would make all of these effects much bigger. </p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="Robots" width="617" height="523" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the study found that only 360,000-670,000 jobs had been lost to robots over the past couple of decades, <strong>estimates indicate that an additional 3.5 million permanent jobs losses could occur over just the next 10 years which would increase the natural unemployment level by over 2%.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Because there are relatively few robots in the US economy, <strong>the number of jobs lost due to robots has been limited so far (ranging between 360,000 and 670,000 jobs, equivalent to a 0.18-0.34 percentage point decline in the employment to population ratio)</strong>. However, if the spread of robots proceeds as expected by experts over the next two decades (e.g., Brynjolfsson and McAfee, 2012, especially pp. 27-32, and Ford, 2016), the future aggregate implications of the spread of robots could be much more sizable. For example, BCG (2015) offers two scenarios for the spread of robots over the next decade. In their aggressive scenario, the world stock of robots will quadruple by 2025. <strong>This would correspond to 5.25 more robots per thousand workers in the United States, and with our estimates, it would lead to a 0.94-1.76 percentage points lower employment to population ratio and 1.3-2.6 percent lower wage growth between 2015 and 2025.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, the impact is even more dramatic when you consider that the job losses are heavily concentrated in a handful of industries.&nbsp; The automotive industry employs 39% of existing industrial robots, followed by the electronics industry (19%), metal products (9%), and the plastic and chemicals industry (9%).<br /><a href=""><img src="" alt="Robots" width="600" height="369" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the following maps help to highlight the exposure of various regions of the country to industrial automation, imports and offshoring of jobs.&nbsp; <strong>Not surprisingly, the heaviest concentration of robots has developed in the rust-belt region where they've replaced 1,000s of UAW workers.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="Robots" width="600" height="613" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that economists had prematurely predicted the demise of labor markets due to technological advances:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>"We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come—namely, technological unemployment" - <strong>Keynes, 1930</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“Labor will become less and less important. . . More and more workers will be replaced by machines. I do not see that new industries can employ everybody who wants a job” - <strong>Leontief, 1952</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <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="512" height="298" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Boston University Causes of unemployment in the United States Detroit Economics Economy Education Entertainment Ford Industrial robot Labor Macroeconomics Mexico MIT Robot Robotics Social Issues Structure Technological unemployment Technology Unemployment Unemployment Wed, 29 Mar 2017 02:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591917 at Brodsky: "A Socialized Market With Guaranteed Positive Returns For All Must Fail" <p><em>Submitted by Paul Brodsky via <a href=""></a></em><a href=""></a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“Selfishness is a virtue.”</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <em>- Ayn Rand</em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“Selfishness is profitable, but for institutionalized investors it takes courage to be selfish.”</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <em>- Paul Brodsky</em></p> <p><strong>Self-Serve</strong></p> <p>In <a href=""><em>Passive Aggressive</em></a>, we made the case that ETFs can be useful vehicles for thoughtful active investors. A few people agreed with our self-assessment in the piece that we were being self-serving because we are launching a modestly priced pro-volatility fund that actively manages ETFs. To some this might raise the issue of whether the report was truly objective. It was, and in fact we would argue that opening a fund using the approach endorsed in Passive Aggressive shows our high level of conviction towards it. It would be unconscionable were we not to not share an opportunity we see as worthy of opening a business.</p> <p>Objective analysis is objective because the ideas and conclusions are free of bias, not because the analyst is free of a potential conflict of interest. Full-disclosure separates self-interest from self-dealing.<br />We have argued recently that US and global output growth are declining fast, Trump’s economic initiatives would have little impact (best case), long-duration Treasuries should be bought and high yield credit sold, gold should be owned, US housing and retail sectors should be shorted, as well as other macro trends and applications. Most of our suggestions have been counter-consensus and would benefit from a general increase in economic and market volatility. By discussing the ETF approach within the context of MAI, it is our hope that subscribers value the overall strategy enough to consider acting on it in some measure, whether it is with us, with someone else, or on their own. But enough about that...</p> <p>Who pursues which investment strategies and why got us thinking about a broader question: <em>can an alternative-investment style without widespread acceptance have merit, or should it be avoided by practical investors? The crux of the issue is when should an investor consider an unconventional approach she has not considered before? Our answer: now, at least for a portion of the portfolio.</em></p> <p><strong>A Precarious Setup</strong></p> <p>On one level, it is satisfying to watch investors migrate to lower-cost passive investment vehicles because higher-cost active management has consistently under-performed. One might say the market for investment intermediation is rational. One might also argue passive investing is not rational at all because it is not forward looking<strong>. Rising markets, an unwillingness to acknowledge fat tails (unlikely knowns), and the inability to model Black Swans (unknown unknowns) have concentrated popular wealth into a narrowly distributed range of highly vulnerable assets and investment strategies</strong>.</p> <p>The trend towards passive investing implies the preponderance of a type of investment behavior called reflexivity - basically, an established trend begets the continuance of it. This mindset is typically embraced by traders, but less prevalent among investors who generally regard themselves as fundamental long-termers. The irony is that for long-term investors, the broad migration to passive investment vehicles is occurring in full revolt against longer term macroeconomic and commercial fundamentals.</p> <p>When we step back and look at the broad macroeconomic setup, characterized by aging populations in the world’s largest economies, declining overall birth rates among the world’s wealth holders, record sovereign and household leverage, the continued economic emphasis of finance over production, the reliance on over-accommodating central banks (even during the Fed’s current rate hike phase), historically high equity, bond and real estate prices and record low asset and liability values (in real terms);<strong> <em>we cannot help but conclude that asset prices are generally rising due mostly to inertia, in spite of unreason, and that the most likely outcome will be something unexpected and disappointing.</em></strong></p> <p>Even though it is a rejection of the established secular bull market in assets and the social, economic, political and financial cultures established and tweaked over the span of our career (almost to the day), our heart and mind (not to mention the vast sweep of investment and economic history) tell us structural change is coming. We can use our experience to forecast specific events and new trends that might occur, and we have, but we cannot know exactly what form structural change will take or when it might begin.</p> <p><strong>Into the Breach</strong></p> <p><strong>A socialized market framework with implicitly guaranteed perpetual positive returns for all must fail.</strong> The best approach is to confront the point of criticality head-on, where “wealth” seems to be permanent but is not. Turning popular passive instruments on themselves to take advantage of great market distortions promises to be an aggressive hedge against misguided inertia - an effective portfolio offset that strikes at the belly of the beast. <strong>ETFs are here to stay, but their market prices and liquidity profiles are not.</strong></p> <p>Serve yourself. All investors and trustworthy market professionals should be expected to act selfishly by seeking to identify and profit from unsustainable distortions. If investors must put that in a more virtuous context to satisfy their consciences (or fiduciary charters), then they can make themselves feel better by knowing that helping to close unsustainable distortions is the only way capitalism can survive. Capitalism without failure is like Catholicism without hell. In this case, investors can do well by doing good if/when market hell arrives.</p> <p>Selfishness is profitable, but for institutionalized investors it takes courage to be selfish.</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="1179" height="571" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Black Swans Bond Business Capitalism Central Banks Economy Exchange-traded fund Fail Finance Financial services Funds High Yield Investment Investment fund Investment strategy Investment style Money Passive management Real estate Reflexivity US Federal Reserve Volatility Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:48:25 +0000 Tyler Durden 591941 at House Committee Passes Bill To "Audit The Fed" <p>The Republican-controlled Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved a bill earlier today to allow for a congressional audit of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy, a proposal Fed policymakers have opposed and likely faces a difficult path to final approval in the Senate.&nbsp; Under the bill, the Fed’s monetary policy deliberations could be subject<br /> to outside review by the Government Accountability Office.&nbsp; </p> <p>While similar bills have garnered some support from Democrats in the past, they uniformly spoke against the current proposal during a meeting of the House of Representatives suggesting the current iteration would face stronger resistance from an increasingly polarized environment in Washington D.C..</p> <p>The House previously passed similar versions of this legislation twice before in 2012 and 2014, with dozens of Democrats joining nearly unanimous Republican support.&nbsp; That said, those bills both died in the Senate and likely would have faced a Presidential veto from Obama had they survived anyway.</p> <p>That said, Trump expressed interest in passing such legislation multiple times during the 2016 campaign cycle which means the 3rd time might just be the charm for Republicans.&nbsp; </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">It is so important to audit The Federal Reserve, and yet Ted Cruz missed the vote on the bill that would allow this to be done.</p> <p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">February 22, 2016</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">President-elect <a href="">@realDonaldTrump</a> has stated his support for <a href="">#AuditTheFed</a>. Let’s send him the bill this Congress. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) <a href="">January 4, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And while proponents of the bill argue that the Fed wields too much power over the U.S. economy with minimal oversight, opponents assert that Fed decisions should be informed purely by economic indicators and completely insulated from "political pressure"...<strong>and we presume those same opponents would argue that Yellen's decision to wait until just after the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential election to start hiking rates had absolutely nothing to do with politics.</strong>&nbsp; Per <a href=";feedName=topNews&amp;utm_source=twitter&amp;utm_medium=Social">Reuters</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Proponents of the measure argue that the Fed is too powerful and lacks sufficient oversight for its interest rate decisions. But Fed officials from Yellen on down, as well as other critics, have warned that such a policy could subject the Fed to undue political pressure and discourage it from taking unpopular steps for the good of the overall economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>"We should not in any way hinder their independence,"</strong> said Representative Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, echoing the sentiment of Fed policymakers who say they could come under political pressure to avoid making unpopular decisions such as raising interest rates to slow growth and control inflation.</p> </blockquote> <p>The next step for the bill would be a floor vote by the entire House, where Republicans hold a solid majority, followed by a Senate vote that would be much more difficult given Republcans' narrow lead.</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="833" height="382" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 111th United States Congress Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Congress Donald Trump Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System Federal Reserve Transparency Act Government Accountability Office House of Representatives Monetary Policy Monetary policy Politics Politics of the United States Rand Paul Reuters Ron Paul Senate United States United States Congress US Federal Reserve Washington D.C. Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:34:29 +0000 Tyler Durden 591922 at Congress Poised To Obliterate Broadband Privacy Rules <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Lauren McCauley via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong>Privacy advocates on Monday are urging Americans to <a href="">call their elected officials</a>, warning that there are<strong> only 24 hours left to &ldquo;save online privacy rules&rdquo;</strong> before the U.S. House of Representatives votes on a measure that would <strong>allow major telecom companies to collect user data and auction it off to the &ldquo;highest bidder.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>Wasting no time, the House is expected to begin debate late Monday on S.J. Res. 34, a <a href="">Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution </a>to repeal the Federal Communications Commission&rsquo;s (FCC) privacy provision, implemented under former President Barack Obama, which requires that providers such as Comcast, AT&amp;T, and Verizon get a user&rsquo;s permission before collecting or selling sensitive data.</p> <p>As <em>Common Dreams</em> <a href="">reported</a>, 50 Republican senators voted to advance the resolution last week.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;We are one vote away from a world where your [Internet Service Providers or ISP] can track your every move online and sell that information to the highest bidder,&rdquo;</strong> Kate Tummarello, policy analyst for the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), <a href="">said </a>Monday.</p> </blockquote> <p>Explaining how the FCC&rsquo;s &ldquo;commonsense&rdquo; rules would have prevented ISPs from doing a &ldquo;<a href="">host of creepy things</a>,&rdquo; Tummarello wrote: &ldquo;Those rules were a huge victory for consumers. Of course, the ISPs that stand to make money off of violating your privacy have been <a href="">lobbying Congress</a> to repeal those rules. Unfortunately, their anti-consumer push has been working.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Meanwhile, the opposition is responding with a campaign of its own to pressure lawmakers&mdash;said to be in the pocket of the telecom industry&mdash;to protect <a href=";vertical=default&amp;src=hash">#broadbandprivacy</a>.</strong></p> <p>On Monday, the grassroots advocacy Fight for the Future <a href="">announced</a> that it will unleash billboards in Washington, D.C. and other select districts exposing any Congress member who votes to gut internet privacy rules.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;Congress should know by now that when you come for the internet, the internet comes for you,&rdquo; </strong>said Evan Greer, the organization&rsquo;s campaign director, who added that &ldquo;these billboards are just the beginning. People from across the political spectrum are outraged, and every lawmaker who votes to take away our privacy will regret it come Election Day.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Similarly, encrypted communications provider Private Internet Access has taken out a full-page ad in the <em>New York Times</em><strong> naming the senators who &ldquo;voted to monitor your internet activity for financial gain.&rdquo;</strong></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Private Internet Access, a VPN provider, takes out a full page ad in the <a href="">@nytimes</a> calling out 50 senators <a href="">#Broadbandprivacy</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Zuri Berry (@zuriberry) <a href="">March 26, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, <strong>the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) enumerated on the implications of the resolution,</strong> concluding that House lawmakers should &ldquo;stand up against industry pressure to put profits over privacy &amp; reject the resolution to overturn the FCC&rsquo;s privacy rule.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">The resolution also prohibits the FCC from issuing rules that are substantially the same in the future.</p> <p>&mdash; ACLU National (@ACLU) <a href="">March 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Without FCC rules, companies would be able to sell your sensitive data to advertisers, big data brokers, and even the government.</p> <p>&mdash; ACLU National (@ACLU) <a href="">March 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">The House should stand up against industry pressure to put profits over privacy &amp; reject the resolution to overturn the FCC&rsquo;s privacy rule.</p> <p>&mdash; ACLU National (@ACLU) <a href="">March 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Further, Muhammad Saad Khan at<em> The Next Web</em> <a href="">explained</a> how a <strong>rollback of privacy rules could usher in a new wave of cyber attacks</strong>.</p> <p>&ldquo;Considering what is at stake here, and how much data ISPs already have on us, it will not come as a surprise if in the long run, the number of cyberattacks increase by leaps and bounds,&rdquo; Khan wrote. <em><strong>&ldquo;Monitoring activities and data theft will rise significantly, as if they were already not a menace. With gadgets, households and even cars being connected to the internet as part of the IoT (the Internet of Things), it is not that hard to imagine how deadly a cyberattack could possibly be if things turn for the worst; which they will, as history suggests.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="711" height="356" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American Civil Liberties Union American Civil Liberties Union Barack Obama Comcast Congress CRA Electronic Freedom Foundation Federal Communications Commission Federal Communications Commission Government Internet of things Internet privacy ISP Law Medical privacy New York Times Politics Politics Privacy Technology Twitter Twitter US House of Representatives Verizon VPN Washington D.C. Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591907 at Morgan Stanley Finds A "Stunning Divergence" In The Economic Data <p><a href="">Since we first highlighted the data</a>, there has been a great deal of attention paid to the post-election divergence between the so-called soft (sentiment) data in the US, and the hard (quantifiable) data.</p> <p>Morgan Stanley&#39;s chief equity and rates strategists note<strong><em> &quot;the divergence is stunning.&quot;</em></strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 310px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Upside surprises appear to be completely driven by the soft data while hard data are simply coming in about as expected.</strong> This was underscored by the fact the Fed made little revision to its economic forecasts at the March FOMC meeting. Essentially, <strong>the hard data are unfolding in line with the Fed&#39;s 2017 outlook.</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>There is a Record Gap Between the Strength of &#39;Hard&#39; and &#39;Soft&#39; US Macro Data</strong></span></p> <p><a href=""><img height="317" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Simply put, the hard data on the economy is still looking far too soft.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Morgan Stanley offers an additional compelling take on capturing this hard versus soft divergence.</strong></span></p> <p>Compare the New York Federal Reserve Bank&rsquo;s current 1Q GDP tracking vs ours - FRBNY is currently tracking 1Q GDP at 3.0% versus us around 1%. The difference is larger than usual and is being driven by the fact that the New York Fed incorporates soft data into its tracking (attempting to tie it econometrically to GDP, a very hard thing to do especially in real-time). Our method translates the incoming hard data into its GDP equivalent. Note that the Atlanta Fed&rsquo;s GDPNow tracking also focuses on hard data and is currently tracking 1% for 1Q GDP (Exhibit 2).</p> <p><img height="343" src="" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Will the hard and soft data reconcile, and in what direction? </strong></span>Optically, a 2Q GDP bounce back would perhaps be taken by markets as the hard data correcting to the soft data&mdash;in other words, risk appetite may find renewed inspiration as positive hard data unfolds. But from an economist&rsquo;s point of view, smoothing through the volatility simply looks like the outlook for around 2% growth remains intact. Moreover, we do expect that the breadth of the 2Q rebound in hard data will be fairly limited, with a swing in consumption as the main driver of the expected 2Q upside, followed by a slightly better net trade and inventory profile. <strong>As a consequence, we would not necessarily expect &#39;hard data&#39; surprise indices to start racing higher</strong> if the factors behind the 2Q growth rebound remain narrowly confined to a few sectors as we expect.</p> <p><a href=""><em>Additionally, as we noted previously,</em></a> the problem - for the hope enthusiasts - is the last 5 times that the gap between perceived economic reality and actual economic reality was near this high,<strong> the S&amp;P 500 had a troblesome few weeks/months after:</strong></p> <ul> <li>JUL 2007 -12%</li> <li>JUN 2009 -9%</li> <li>APR 2010 -17%</li> <li>MAR 2011 -19%</li> <li>NOV 2014 -6%</li> </ul> <p>Still, this time will probably be different.</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="962" height="508" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Atlanta Fed Business Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Bank Gross domestic product Hard and soft March FOMC Morgan Stanley National accounts New York Fed New York Fed New York Federal Reserve Bank Reality S&P 500 Technology US Federal Reserve Volatility Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 591915 at Here's The Story Behind Trump's Podesta-Russia Tweet <p>President Trump took to Twitter this morning to remind Americans that the <em>&quot;It was Russia&quot; stone-throwers</em> on the left may have been living in <em>Russia-funded glass-houses</em> after all...</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Watch <a href="">@foxandfriends</a> now on Podesta and Russia!</p> <p>&mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">March 28, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>The story behind this Podesta-Russia link is explained in full gore by <a href=""><em>Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog;</em></a><em> </em>dot connectors, Twitter diagram creators and <strong>newly minted Russia-conspiracy sleuths</strong> from sea to shining sea take note.</p> <p><em><a href=""><img height="219" src="" width="346" /></a></em></p> <p><strong>Since anything connected to Russia is now considered treasonous, I&rsquo;ve got a great story for you to sniff out.</strong></p> <p>It relates to John Podesta, but&nbsp;<strong><em>somehow I doubt you&rsquo;ll be interested in this one&hellip;</em></strong></p> <p><a href=";utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_medium=Social" target="_blank"><em>The Daily Caller</em></a> reports:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>John Podesta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s 2016 national campaign chairman, may have violated federal law by <strong>failing to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company when he joined the Obama White House in 2014,</strong> according to the Daily Caller News Foundation&rsquo;s Investigative Group.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Joule Unlimited Technologies &mdash; financed in part by a Russian firm &mdash; &nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">originally awarded</a>&nbsp;Podesta 100,000 shares of stock options when in 2010 he joined that board along with its Dutch-based entities: Joule Global Holdings, BV and the Stichting Joule Global Foundation.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>When Podesta announced his departure from the Joule board in January 2014 to become President Obama&rsquo;s special counsellor, the company officially&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">issued</a>&nbsp;him 75,000 common shares of stock.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Schedule B section of the federal government&rsquo;s form 278 which &mdash; requires financial disclosures for government officials &mdash; required Podesta to &ldquo;report any purchase, sale or exchange by you, your spouse, or dependent children&hellip;of any property, stocks, bonds, commodity futures and other securities when the amount of the transaction exceeded $1,000.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The same year Podesta joined Joule, the company agreed to accept 1-Billion-Rubles &mdash; or $35 million &mdash; from Rusnano, a state-run and financed Russian company with close ties to President Vladimir Putin.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Anatoly Chubais, the company CEO and two other top Russian banking executives worked together with Podesta on the Joule boards. The board met six times a year.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director said because of the Kremlin backing, it was essential Podesta disclose the financial benefits he received from the company.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;I think in this case where you&rsquo;re talking about foreign interests and foreign involvement, the collateral interest with these disclosure forms is put in the forefront of full disclosure of any foreign interest that you may have,&rdquo; he told TheDCNF in an interview.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The existence of the 75,000 shares of Joule stock was first revealed by the Government Accountability Institute&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;issued last year.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>But Podesta didn&rsquo;t pocket all the shares. Correspondence from Podesta to Joule instructed the firm to transfer only 33,693 shares to Leonidio Holdings, a brand-new entity he incorporated only on December 20, 2013, about ten days before he entered the White House.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Leonidio is registered in Delaware as a limited liability corporation. Podesta listed the address of his daughter, Megan Rouse, in the incorporation papers. His mother and father also appear to be co-owners of Leonidio.</em></p> <div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>TheDCNF made multiple inquiries to OGE and received no reply. TheDCNF inquiries to Mr. Podesta were not returned.</em></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>That&#39;s <a href="">not the end of the story though, </a>as <strong>John Podesta&#39;s brother, Tony, confirmed Russia&#39;s largest bank had hired the Podesta Group to lobby for an end to sanctions</strong>...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Russia&#39;s largest bank, Sberbank, has confirmed that it hired the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton&#39;s presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in the United States and proactively seeking the removal of various Obama-era sanctions, the press service of the Russian institution <a href="">told TASS on Thursday</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group. Engagement of external consultants is part of standard business practices for us,&quot; Sberbank said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img height="286" src="" width="500" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Previously, <a href="">The Daily Caller reported </a>that Tony Podesta was proactively lobbying for cancellation of a range of anti-Russian sanctions against the banking sector. In particular, he represented interests of Sberbank and was paid $170,000 for his efforts over a six-month period last year to seek to end one of the Obama administration&rsquo;s economic sanctions against that country.&nbsp; <strong>Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, </strong>according to Senate lobbying <a href=";jsonp=vglnk_148908109373915&amp;key=e7609c039c08d3ae00aebd97e6f0bffd&amp;libId=j02nrti3010110e3000DA7ev6s6f4&amp;;v=1&amp;;;title=Lobbyist%20Podesta%20Got%20%24170K%20To%20End%20US%20Sanctions%20On%20Russia%20%7C%20The%20Daily%20Caller&amp;txt=forms">disclosure forms</a>. His firm received more than $24 million in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, <a href=";jsonp=vglnk_148908191139014&amp;key=e7609c039c08d3ae00aebd97e6f0bffd&amp;libId=j02or6c6010110e3000DA1k53z5iqdbu38&amp;;v=1&amp;;title=Lobbyist%20Podesta%20Got%20%24170K%20To%20End%20US%20Sanctions%20On%20Russia%20%7C%20The%20Daily%20Caller&amp;txt=according">according </a>to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Regular readers will recall that the Sberbank-Podesta relationship goes back many years. <strong>Sberbank was the lead financial institution in the Russian deal to purchase Uranium One</strong>, owned by one of Bill Clinton&rsquo;s closest friends, Frank Giustra. Giustra and Bill Clinton lead the Clinton-Giustra Enterprise Partnership, an integral part of the Clinton Foundation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Consider if any or all of the above had taken place among any of the Trump administration - what would have occurred? How villified would the offender have been? As <a href="">Mike Krieger concludes,</a> personally, I doubt any of the above is a huge deal, and I certainly don&rsquo;t think Podesta is working for Vladimir Putin under the table. <strong>However, just imagine the hysteria if the above narrative could&rsquo;ve been connected to anyone in Trump&rsquo;s orbit.</strong> It would&rsquo;ve been plastered on the front page of <em>The Washington Post</em> and <em>The New York Times</em> with headlines like, &ldquo;More Financial Ties Emerge Between Those in Trump&rsquo;s Orbit and Putin.&rdquo;</p> <p>Naturally, you won&rsquo;t see this story hyped because <em><strong>it doesn&rsquo;t fit the corporate media narrative, and the narrative is all they care about.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="346" height="219" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> B+ Banking in Russia Business Center for Responsive Politics Clinton Foundation Daily Caller News Foundation Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation federal government Foreign Interest Government Accountability Institute headlines Hillary Clinton presidential campaign John Podesta New York Times Obama Administration Obama administration Podesta Podesta Group Political campaign staff Politics Politics Politics of the United States President Obama Sberbank of Russia Senate Stichting Joule Global Foundation Trump Administration Twitter Twitter United States Uranium Uranium One Vladimir Putin White House White House Wed, 29 Mar 2017 00:51:47 +0000 Tyler Durden 591878 at