en The Future Of Artificial Intelligence (According To Pop Culture) <p>The <strong>unpredictable nature of super-intelligent, self-improving machines</strong> lends itself quite nicely to the dramatic storylines of movies and books.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a science fiction writer&rsquo;s dream - <a href="">as Visual Capitalist&#39;s Jeff Desjardins warns</a>: <strong><em>if AI becomes smart enough to create more advanced versions of itself, pretty much every outcome is on the table</em></strong>. Machines could empower humanity to become enlightened and virtuous. On the less optimistic side? Machines could instead ruthlessly enslave all of humankind to tickle their own warped sense of satisfaction.</p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;">POP CULTURE PERSPECTIVES</span></h2> <p>From the plot of movies like&nbsp;The Terminator&nbsp;to&nbsp;The Matrix, pop culture offers up innumerable examples of what could happen from the rise of the machines &ndash; and most of them, as you can imagine, steer towards the less optimistic side of the spectrum.</p> <p>Today&rsquo;s infographic from&nbsp;<a href="">BBC Future</a>&nbsp;provides an entertaining take on these scenarios, organized by potential likelihood.</p> <div style="clear:both"><a href=""><img src="" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; height: 5962px; width: 600px;" /></a></div> <div><em>Courtesy of: <a href="">Visual Capitalist</a></em></div> <p><strong>Some experts see AI having a&nbsp;<a href="">$15.7 trillion impact</a>&nbsp;on our economy, but pop culture offers up a slightly different perspective of what the future may hold.</strong></p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;">FUTURE AI SCENARIOS</span></h2> <p>Here are just some of the scenarios offered up in mainstream movies, books, and television shows. Some are apocalyptic and dystopian, and some seem just plain bizarre:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Seductive Siris</strong>:&nbsp;In 2013&rsquo;s&nbsp;Her, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an intelligent operating system named Samantha.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Self-Replicating AI:</strong>&nbsp;In 1995&rsquo;s&nbsp;Screamers, scientists create a self-replicating weapon with one purpose: to destroy all life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Singularity:&nbsp;</strong>AI vies to take over the world in 1982&rsquo;s classic&nbsp;Tron.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Rampaging Robots:&nbsp;</strong>In 1973&rsquo;s Westworld, recently re-envisioned as a different TV series by HBO, murderous androids go on a killing spree in a futuristic Disney-style theme park.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Feeling Machines:&nbsp;</strong>In the 1999 movie&nbsp;Bicentennial Man, a household robot experiences emotions, creative thoughts, and eventually develops sentience.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Androids Among Us:&nbsp;</strong>Artificial beings infiltrate society undetected in TV series&nbsp;Battlestar Galactica.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Human Enslavement:</strong>&nbsp;In the 1999 movie&nbsp;The Matrix, all life on Earth is an elaborate facade. The robots are really the ones in command, but you wouldn&rsquo;t know it until you take the &ldquo;red pill&rdquo;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Mind Upload:&nbsp;</strong>Digitized humans gain immortality and then wreak havoc, such as in 2014&rsquo;s&nbsp;Transcendence.</p> </blockquote> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;">ONE CERTAINTY</span></h2> <p><em><strong>While some of these ideas seem far-fetched, it&rsquo;s worth noting that not all future scenarios are as distant as they may seem.</strong></em></p> <p>With computing power increasing exponentially, the tail end of the hockey stick could happen sooner than we may think.</p> <p><img height="338" src="" width="600" /></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="633" height="346" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Artificial general intelligence artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence in fiction Computational neuroscience Cybernetics Entertainment Future operating system Robot Screamers Self-replicating machines in fiction Technology The Matrix Time Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603732 at Paul Craig Roberts Exhorts "Whatever Happened To America?" <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,</em></a></p> <p><em>Dear Friends and Supporters, this is my quarterly call for your financial support. There is no one who will write for you more frankly and truthfully than I do. This article is long. Read it. Twice, three times. You will learn an important part of your history that has been cast into the Memory Hole. You will learn the nature of the danger that we as a people face. And you will learn a lot about yourselves. PCR</em></p> <h3><u><strong>Whatever Happened to America?</strong></u></h3> <p>Over the course of my lifetime, <strong>America has become an infantile country.</strong></p> <p><strong>When I was born America was a nation.</strong> Today it is a diversity country in which <strong>various segments divided by race, gender, and sexual preference, preach hate toward other segments</strong>. Currently white heterosexual males are losing in the hate game, but once hate is unleashed it can turn on any and every one. Working class white males understand that they are the new underclass in a diversity country in which everyone has privileges except them. Many of the university educated group of heterosexual white males are too brainwashed to understand what is happening to them. Indeed, some of them are so successfully brainwashed that they think it is their just punishment as a white male to be downtrodden.</p> <p><strong>Donald Trump&rsquo;s presidency has been wrecked by hate groups,</strong> i.e., the liberal/progressive/left who hate the &ldquo;racist, misogynist, homophobic, gun nut working class&rdquo; that elected Trump (see Eric Draitser, &ldquo;Why He Won,&rdquo; in CounterPunch, vol. 23, No. 1, 2017). <strong>For the liberal/progressive/left Trump is an illegitimate president because he was elected by illegitimate voters.</strong><br />Today the American left hates the working class with such intensity that the left is comfortable with the left&rsquo;s alliance with the One Percent and the military/security complex against Trump.</p> <p>America, the melting pot that produced a nation was <strong>destroyed by Identity Politics</strong>. Identity Politics divides a population into hate groups. This group hates that one and so on. <strong>In the US the most hated group is a southern white heterosexual male.</strong></p> <p>To rule America,<strong> Identity Politics is competing with a more powerful group - the military/security complex supported by the neoconservative ideology of American world hegemony.</strong></p> <p>Currently, Identity Politics and the military/security complex are working hand-in-hand to destroy President Trump. <strong>Trump is hated by the powerful military/security complex because Trump wanted to &ldquo;normalize relations with Russia,&rdquo;</strong> that is, remove the &ldquo;Russian threat&rdquo; that is essential to the power and budget of the military/security complex. Trump is hated by Identity Politics because the imbeciles think no one voted for him but racist, misogynists, homophobic gun-nuts.</p> <p><strong>The fact that Trump intended to unwind the dangerous tensions that the Obama regime has created with Russia became his hangman&rsquo;s noose. </strong>Designated as &ldquo;Putin&rsquo;s agent,&rdquo; President Trump is possibly in the process of being framed by a Special Prosecutor, none other than member of the Shadow Government and former FBI director Robert Mueller. Mueller knows that whatever lie he tells will be accepted by the media presstitutes as the Holy Truth. However, as Trump, seeking self-preservation, moves into the war camp, it might not be necessary for the shadow government to eliminate him.</p> <p><strong>So the Great American Democracy, The Morally Pure Country, is actually a cover for the profits and power of the military/security complex.</strong></p> <p>What is exceptional about America is the size of the corruption and evil in the government and in the private interest groups that control the government.</p> <p><u><strong>It wasn&rsquo;t always this way.</strong></u></p> <p><em><strong>In 1958 at the height of the Cold War a young Texan, Van Cliburn, 23 years of age, ventured to show up at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.</strong></em> Given the rivalry between the military powers, what chance did an American have of walking away with the prize? The cold warriors of the time would, if asked, had said none.</p> <p>But Van Cliburn electrified the audience, the Moscow Symphony, and the famous conductor. His reception by the Soviet audience was extraordinary. The judges went to Khrushchev and asked, &ldquo;Can we give the prize to the American?&rdquo; Khrushchev asked, &ldquo;Was he the best.&rdquo; The answer, &ldquo;Yes.&rdquo; &ldquo;Well, then give him the prize.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The Cold War should have ended right there, but the military/security complex would not allow it.</strong></p> <p>You can watch the performance here:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><strong>In other words, the Soviet Union, unlike America today, did not need to prevail over the truth. </strong>The Soviets gave what has perhaps become the most famous of all prizes of musical competition to an American. The Soviets were able to see and recognize truth, something few Americans any longer can do.</p> <p>The supporters of this website are supporters because, unlike their brainwashed fellows who are tightly locked within The Matrix, they can tell the difference between truth and propaganda. The supporters of this website comprise the few who, if it is possible, will save America and the world from the evil that prevails in Washington.</p> <p><strong>Van Cliburn came home to America a hero. </strong>He went on to a grand concert career. If Van Cliburn had been judged in his day, as Donald Trump is today for wanting to defuse the dangerously high level of tensions with Russia, Van Cliburn would have been greeted on his return with a Soviet prize as a traitor. The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR and the rest of the presstitutes would have denounced him up one street and down another. How dare Van Cliburn legitimize the Soviet Union by participating in a music competition and accepting a Soviet prize!</p> <p><strong><em>Did you know that Van Cliburn, after his talented mother had provided all the music instruction she could, studied under a RUSSIAN woman? What more proof do you need that Van Cliburn was a traitor to America? Imagine, he studied under a RUSSIAN! I mean, really! Isn&rsquo;t this a RUSSIAN connection?!</em></strong></p> <p>How can we avoid the fact that all those music critics at the New York Times and Washington Post were also RUSSIAN agents. I mean, gosh, they actually praised Van Cliburn for playing RUSSIAN music in MOSCOW so well.</p> <p><strong>Makes a person wonder if Ronald Reagan wasn&rsquo;t also a RUSSIAN agent. Reagan, actually convinced Van Cliburn to come out of retirement and to play in the White House for Soviet leader Gorbachev, with whom Reagan was trying to end the Cold War.</strong></p> <p><strong><u>I am making fun of what passes for reasoning today.</u></strong><em><strong><u> </u></strong>Reason has been displaced by denunciation.</em> If someone, anyone, says something, that can be misconstrued and denounced, it will be, the meaning of what was said not withstanding.</p> <p>Consider the recent statement by the Deputy Prime Minister of Japan, Taro Aso, in an address to members of his ruling political party. He said: <strong><em>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t question your motives to be a politician. But the results are important. Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good, even if his motives were right.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p><strong>To anyone capable of reason, it is perfectly clear that Aso is saying that </strong><em><strong>the ends don&rsquo;t justify the means. </strong>&ldquo;Even if&rdquo; is conditional.</em> Aso is saying that even if Hitler acted in behalf of a just cause, his means were impermissible.</p> <p>Aso, a man of principle, is instructing his party&rsquo;s politicians to be moral beings and not to sacrifice morality to a cause, much less an American cause of Japanese rearmament so as to amplify Washington&rsquo;s aggression toward China.</p> <p><strong>The response to a simple and straight forward statement that not even in politics do the ends justify the means was instant denunciation of the Deputy Prime Minister for &ldquo;shameful&rdquo; and &ldquo;dangerous&rdquo; remarks suggesting that Hitler &ldquo;had the right motives.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>Arrgh! screamed the Simon Wiesenthal Center which saw a new holocaust in the making. Reuters reported that Aso had put his foot in his mouth by making remarks that &ldquo;could be interpreted as a defense of Adolf Hitler&rsquo;s motive for genocide during World War Two.&rdquo; Even RT, to which we normally look for real as opposed to fake news, joined in the misreporting. The chairman of the Japanese opposition party joined in, terming Aso&rsquo;s statement that the ends don&rsquo;t justify the means &ldquo;a serious gaffe.&rdquo;</p> <p>Of course the South Koreans and the Chinese, who have WWII resentments against Japan, could not let the opportunity pass that the Western media created, and also unloaded on Japan, condemning the Deputy Prime Minister as a modern advocate of Hitlerism. The Chinese and South Koreans were too busy settling old scores to realize that by jumping on Aso they were undermining the Japanese opposition to the re-militarization of Japan, which will be at their expense.</p> <p><strong>Aso is astonished by the misrepresentation of his words. He said, &ldquo;I used Hitler as an example of a bad politician. It is regrettable that my comment was misinterpreted and caused misunderstanding.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>It seems that hardly anyone was capable of comprehending what Aso said. He clearly denounced Hitler, declaring Hitler &ldquo;no good,&rdquo; but no one cared. He used the word, &ldquo;Hitler,&rdquo; which was sufficient to set off the explosion of denunciation. Aso responded by withdrawing Hitler as his example of a &ldquo;bad politician.&rdquo; And this is a victory?</p> <p>The media, even RT alas, was quick to point out that Aso was already suspect. In 2013 Aso opposed the overturning of Japan&rsquo;s pacifist constitution that Washington was pushing in order to recruit Japan in a new war front against China. Aso, in the indirect way that the Japanese approach dissent, said &ldquo;Germany&rsquo;s Weimar Constitution was changed [by the Nazis] before anyone knew. It was changed before anyone else noticed. Why don&rsquo;t we learn from the technique?&rdquo; Aso&rsquo;s remarks were instantly misrepresented as his endorsement of surreptitiously changing Japan&rsquo;s constitution, which was Washington&rsquo;s aim, whereas Aso was defending its pacifist constraint, pointing out that Japan&rsquo;s pacificist Contitution was being changed without voters&rsquo; consent.</p> <p>An explanation of Aso&rsquo;s words, something that never would have needed doing prior to our illiterate times, has its own risks. <strong>Many Americans confuse an explanation with a defense. Thus, an explanation can bring denunciation for &ldquo;defending a Japanese nazi.&rdquo;</strong> Considering the number of intellectually-challenged Americans, I expect to read many such denunciations.</p> <p><u><strong>This is the problem with being a truthful writer in these times.</strong></u> More people want someone to denounce than want truth. Truth-tellers are <em>persona non grata</em> to the ruling establishment and to proponents of Identity Politics. It is unclear how much longer truth will be permitted to be expressed. Already it is much safer and more remunerative to tell the official lies than to tell the truth.</p> <p>More people want their inculcated biases and beliefs affirmed by what they read than want to reconsider what they think, expecially if changing their view puts them at odds with their peers. <strong>Most people believe what is convenient for them and what they want to believe. Facts are not important to them. Indeed, Americans deny the facts before their eyes each and every day</strong>. How can America be a superpower when the population for the most part is completely ignorant and brainwashed?</p> <p><strong>When truth-tellers are no more, it is unlikely they will be missed.</strong> No one will even know that they are gone. Already, gobs of people are unable to follow a reasoned argument based on undisputed facts.</p> <p><strong>Take something simple and clear, such as the conflict over several decades between North and South leading to the breakup of the union. The conflict was economic. It was over tariffs. The North wanted them in order to protect northern industry from lower priced British manufactures. Without tariffs, northern industry was hemmed in by British goods and could not develop.</strong></p> <p>The South did not want the tariffs because it meant higher prices for the South and likely retaliation against the South&rsquo;s export of cotton. The South saw the conflict in terms of lower income forced on southerners so that northern manufacturers could have higher incomes. The argument over the division of new states carved from former Indian territories was about keeping the voting balance equal in Congress so that a stiff tariff could not be passed. It is what the debates show. So many historians have written about these documented facts.</p> <p><strong><u><em>Slavery was not the issue, because as Lincoln said in his inaugural address, he had no inclination and no power to abolish slavery. Slavery was a states rights issue reserved to the states by the US Constitution.</em></u></strong></p> <p><strong>The issue, Lincoln said in his inaugural address, was the collection of the tariff. </strong>There was no need, he said, for invasion or bloodshed. The South just needed to permit the federal government to collect the duties on imports. The northern states actually passed an amendment to the Constitution that prohibited slavery from ever being abolished by the federal government, and Lincoln gave his support.</p> <p><strong>For the South the problem was not slavery. </strong>The legality of slavery was clear and accepted by Lincoln in his inaugural address as a states right. However, a tariff was one of the powers given by the Constitution to the federal government. Under the Constitution the South was required to accept a tariff if it passed Congress and was signed by the President. A tariff had passed two days prior to Lincoln&rsquo;s inaugeration.</p> <p>The South couldn&rsquo;t point at the real reason it was leaving the union&mdash;the tariff&mdash;<em>if the South wanted to blame the north for its secession.</em> In order to blame the North for the breakup of the union (the British are leaving the European Union without a war), the South turned to the nullification by some northern states of the federal law and US Constitutional provision (Article 4, Section 2) that required the return of runaway slaves. South Carolina&rsquo;s secession document said that some Northern states by not returning slaves had broken the contract on which the union was formed. South Carolina&rsquo;s argument became the basis for the secession documents of other states.</p> <p><strong>In other words, slavery became an issue in the secession because some Northern states&mdash;but not the federal government&mdash;refused to comply with the constitutional obligation to return property as required by the US Constitution.</strong></p> <p>South Carolina was correct, but the northern states were acting as individual states, not as the federal government. It wasn&rsquo;t Lincoln who nullified the Fugative Slave Act, and states were not allowed to nulify constitutional provisions or federal law within the powers assigned to the federal government by the Constitution. Lincoln upheld the Fugative Slave Act. In effect, what the South did was to nullify the power that the Constitution gives to the federal government to levy a tariff. Apologists for the South ignore this fact. The South had no more power under the Constitution to nullify a tariff than northern states had to nullify the Fugative Slave Act.</p> <p>Slavery was not, under the Constitution, a federal issue, but the tariff was. It was the South&rsquo;s refusal of the tariff that caused Lincoln to invade the Confederacy.</p> <p>You need to undersand that in those days people thought of themselves as citizens of the individual states, not as citizens of the United States, just as today people in Europe think of themselves as citizens of France, Germany, Italy, etc., and not as citizens of the European Union. In was in the states that most government power resided. Robert E. Lee refused the offer of the command of the Union Army on the grounds that it would be treasonous for him to attack his own country of Virginia.</p> <p><em><strong><a href="">Having explained history as it was understood prior to its rewrite by Identity Politics</a>, which has thrown history down the Orwellian Memory Hole, I was accused of &ldquo;lying about the motivations of the South&rdquo; by a reason-impaired reader.</strong></em></p> <p>In this reader we see not only the uninformed modern American but also the rudness of the uninformed modern American. I could understand a reader writing that perhaps I had misunderstood the secession documents, but &ldquo;lying about the motivations of the South&rdquo;? It is extraordinary to be called a liar by a reader incapable of understanding the issues. President Lincoln and the northern states gave the South complete and unequivable assurances about slavery, but not about tariffs.</p> <p><em><strong>The reader sees a defense of slavery in the secession documents but is unable to grasp the wider picture that the South is making a states rights argument that some northern states, in the words of the South Carolina secession document, &ldquo;have denied the rights of property . . . recognized by the Constitution.&rdquo; The reader saw that the documents mentioned slavery but not tariffs, and concluded that slavery was the reason that the South seceded.</strong></em></p> <p>It did not occur to the reason-impaired reader to wonder why the South would secede over slavery when the federal government was not threatening slavery. In his inaugural address Lincoln said that he had neither the power nor the inclination to forbid slavery. The North gave the South more assurances about slavery by passing the Corwin Amendment that added to the existing constitutional protection of slavery by putting in a special constitutional amendment upholding slavery. As slavery was under no threat, why would the South secede over slavery?</p> <p><strong>The tariff was a threat, and it was a tariff, not a bill outlawing slavery, that had just passed.</strong> Unlike slavery, which the Constitution left to the discretion of individual states, tariffs were a federal issue. Under the Constitution states had no rights to nullify tariffs. Therefore, the South wanted out.</p> <p>It also does not occur to the reason-impaired reader that if the war was over slavery why have historians, even court historians, been unable to find evidence of that in the letters and diaries of the soldiers on both sides?</p> <p>In other words, we have a very full context here, and none of it supports that the war was fought over slavery. But the reader sees some words about slavery in the secession documents and his reasoning ability cannot get beyond those words.</p> <p><strong>This is the same absence of reasoning ability that led to the false conclusion that the Deputy Prime Minister of Japan was an admirer of Hitler.</strong></p> <p>Now for an example of an emotionally-impaired reader, one so emotional that he is unable to comprehend the meaning of his own words. This reader read Thomas DiLorenzo&rsquo;s article (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) and my article (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) as an &ldquo;absolution of the South&rdquo; and as &ldquo;whitewashing of the South.&rdquo; Of what he doesn&rsquo;t say. Slavery? Secession? All that I and DiLorenzo offer are explanations. DiLorenzo is a Pennsylvanian. I grew up in the South but lived my life outside it. Neither of us are trying to resurrect the Confederacy. As I understand DiLorenzo, his main point is that the so- called &ldquo;civil war&rdquo; destroyed the original US Constitution and centralized power in Washington in the interest of Empire. I am pointing out that ignorance has spawned a false history that is causing a lot of orchestrated hate. Neither of us thinks that the country needs the hate and the division hate causes. We need to be united against the centralized power in Washington that is turning on the people.</p> <p>Carried away by emotion, the reader dashed off an article to refute us. My interest is not to ridicule the reader but to use him as an example of the emotionally-impaired American. Therefore, I am protecting him from personal ridicule by not naming him or linking to his nonsensical article. My only interest is to illustrate how for too many Americans emotion precludes reason.</p> <p>First, the reader in his article calls DiLorenzo and I names and then projects his sin upon us, accusing us of &ldquo;name-calling,&rdquo; which he says is &ldquo;a poor substitute for proving points.&rdquo;</p> <p>Here is his second mistake. DiLorenzo and I are not &ldquo;proving points.&rdquo; We are stating long established known facts and asking how a new history has been created that is removed from the known facts.</p> <p><u><strong>So how does the emotionally-disturbed reader refute us in his article? He doesn&rsquo;t. He proves our point.</strong></u></p> <p><em><strong>First he acknowledges &ldquo;what American history textbooks for decades have acknowledged: The North did not go to War to stop slavery. Lincoln went to war to save the Union.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p>How does he get rid of the Corwin Amendment. He doesn&rsquo;t. He says everyone, even &ldquo;the most ardent Lincoln-worshipping court historian,&rdquo; knows that the North and Lincoln gave the South assurances that the federal government would not involve itself in the slavery issue.</p> <p>In other words, the reader says that there is nothing original in my article or DiLorenzo&rsquo;s and that it is just the standard history, so why is he taking exception to it?</p> <p>The answer seems to be that after agreeing with us that Lincoln did not go to war over slavery and gave the South no reason to go to war over slavery, the reader says that the South did go to war over slavery. He says that the war was fought over the issue of expanding slavery into new states created from Indian territories.</p> <p><strong>This is an extremely problematic claim for two indisputable reasons.</strong></p> <p>First, <em>the South went to war because Lincoln invaded the South.</em></p> <p>Second, <em>the South had seceded and no longer had any interest in the status of new territories. </em></p> <p>As I reported in my article, it is established historical record that the conflict over the expansion of slavery as new states were added to the Union was a fight over the tariff vote in Congress. The South was trying to keep enough representation to block the passage of a tariff, and the North was trying to gain enough representation to enact protectionism over the free trade South.</p> <p>It is so emotionally important to the reader that the war was over slavery that he alleges that the reason the South was not seduced by the Corwin Amendment is that it did not guarantee the expansion of slavery into new states, but only protected slavery in those states in which it existed. In other words, the reader asserts that the South fought for an hegemonic ideology of slavery in the Union. But the South <em>had left the Union</em>, so clearly it wasn&rsquo;t fighting to expand slavery outside its borders. Moreover, the North gave the South no assurances over the South&rsquo;s real concern&mdash;its economic exploitation by the North. The same day the North passed the Corwin Amendment the North passed the tariff. Clearly, it was not assurances over slavery that mattered to the South. Slavery was protected by states rights. It was the tariff that was important to the South.</p> <p>Whereas the tariff was the issue that brought the conflict to a head, correspondence between Lord Acton and Robert E. Lee shows that the deeper issue was liberty and its protection from centralized power. On November 4, 1866, Lord Acton wrote to Robert E. Lee: &ldquo;I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy.&rdquo; Acton saw in the US Constitution defects that could lead to the rise of despotism. Acton regarded the Confederate Constitution as &ldquo;expressly and wisely calculated to remedy&rdquo; the defects in the US Constitution. <a href="">The Confederate Constitution, Acton said, was a &ldquo;great Reform [that] would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics.&rdquo;&nbsp; </a></p> <p>Lee replied: &ldquo;I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>A present day American unfamiliar with the 18th and 19th century efforts to create a government that could not degenerate into despotism will see hypocrisy in this correspondence and misread it. </strong>How, the present day American will ask, could Acton and Lee be talking about establishing true freedom when slavery existed? The answer is that Acton and Lee, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, understood that there were more ways of being enslaved than being bought and sold. If the battle is lost over the character of government and power becomes centralized, then all are enslaved.</p> <p><strong>Lee&rsquo;s prediction of a government &ldquo;aggressive abroad and despotic at home&rdquo; has come true. What is despotism if not indefinite detention on suspicion alone without evidence or conviction, if not execution on suspicion alone without due process of law, if not universal spying and searches without warrants?</strong></p> <p>What I find extraordinary about today&rsquo;s concern with slavery in the 1800s is the lack of concern with our enslavement today. It is amazing that Americans do not realize that they were enslaved by the passage of the income tax in 1913. Consider the definition of a slave. It is a person who does not own his own labor or the products of his own labor. Of course, if the slave is to live to work another day some of his labor must go to his subsistance. How much depended on the technology and labor productivity. On 19th century southern plantations, the slave tax seems to have been limited short of the 50% rate.</p> <p><strong>When I entered the US Treasury as Assistant Secretary, the top tax rate on personal income was 50%. During the medieval era, serfs did not own all of their own labor. At the time I studied the era, the top tax rate on serfs was believed to have been limited to one-third of the serf&rsquo;s working time. Given labor productivity in those days, any higher tax would have prevented the reproduction of the labor force.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>So what explains the concern about wage slavery in 1860 but not in 2017?</strong></u></p> <p>The answer seems to be Diversity Politics. In 1860 blacks had the burden of wage slavery. In 2017 all have the burden except for the rich whose income is in the form of capital gains and those among the poor who don&rsquo;t work. Identity Politics cannot present today&rsquo;s wage slavery as the unique burder of a &ldquo;preferred minority.&rdquo; Today those most subjected to wage slavery are the white professionals in the upper middle class. That is where the tax burden is highest. Americans living at public expense are exempted from wage slavery by lack of taxable income. Consequently, the liberal/progressive/left only objects to 19th century wage slavery. 20th Century wage slavery is perfectly acceptable to the liberal/progressive/left. Indeed, they want more of it.</p> <p><strong>People can no longer think or reason. There seems to be no rational component in their brain, just emotion set into action by fuse-lighting words.</strong></p> <p>Here is an example hot off the press. This month in Cobb County, Georgia, a car was pulled over for driving under the influence of alcohol. The white police lieutenant requested the ID of a white woman. She replied that she is afraid to reach into her purse for her license, because she has read many stories of people being shot because police officers conclude that they are reaching for a gun. Instead of tasering the woman for non-compliance, yanking her out of the car, and body slamming her, the lieutenant diffused the situation by making light of her concern.<strong><em> &ldquo;We only shoot black people, you know.&rdquo; </em></strong>This is what a person would conclude from the news, because seldom is a big stink made when the police shoot a white person.</p> <p>The upshot of the story is that the lieutenant&rsquo;s words were recorded on his recorder and when they were entered as part of the incident report, <em><strong>the chief of police announced that the lieutenant was guilty of &ldquo;racial insensitivity&rdquo; and would be fired for the offense.</strong></em></p> <p>Now think about this. A little reasoning is necessary. How are the words racially insensitive when no black persons were present? How are the words racially insensitive when the lieutenant said exactly what blacks themselves say? And now the clincher: Which is the real insensitivity, saying &ldquo;we only shoot black people&rdquo; or actually shooting black people? How is it possible that the officer who uses &ldquo;racially insensitive&rdquo; words to diffuse a situation is more worthy of punishment that an officer who actually shoots a black person? <em><strong>Seldom is an officer who has shot a black, white, hispanic, Asian, child, grandmother, cripple, or the family dog ever fired.</strong></em></p> <p>The usual &ldquo;investigation&rdquo; clears the officer on the grounds that he had grounds to fear his life was in danger&mdash;precisely the reason the woman didn&rsquo;t want to reach into her purse.</p> <p><em><strong>For a person who tries to tell the truth, writing is a frustrating and discouraging experience. What is the point of writing for people who cannot read, who cannot follow a logical argument because their limited mental capabilities are entirely based in emotion, who have no idea of the consequence of a population imbued with hate that destroys a nation in divisiveness?</strong></em></p> <p>I ask myself this question everytime I write a column.</p> <p><strong>Indeed, given the policies of Google and PayPal it seems more or less certain that before much longer anyone who speaks outside The Matrix will be shut down.</strong></p> <p>Free speech is only allowed for propagandists. Megyn Kelly has free speech as long as her free speech lies for the ruling establishment. Her lies are proteced by an entire media network backed by the Shadow Goverment and the Deep State.</p> <p><u><strong>My truth is backed only by your support.</strong></u></p> <p><em><a href="">So, if you want the truth, or as close as I can get to it, support my website.</a></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="363" height="197" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business China Classical music Cliburn Congress Corruption Donald Trump Donald Trump ETC European Union European Union FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation federal government France Germany Google Italy Japan Moscow Symphony New York Times None Personal Income Politics Reuters Shadow Government Simon Wiesenthal Center Social Issues South Carolina The Matrix U.S. Treasury Union Army United States Van Cliburn White House White House Wed, 20 Sep 2017 04:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603813 at "It's All Fun & War-Games" In Russia, Until... <p><a href="">Amid Russia&#39;s largest wargames yet, with over 100,000 taking part in &quot;Zapad 2017&quot; according to NATO, </a>independent news site has released <strong>footage of a rather shocking event.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 560px; height: 360px;" /></a></p> <p><a href="">Reuters reports</a> that <strong>a military helicopter on a rural training exercise in western Russia mistakenly fired rockets at a group of parked vehicles, knocking at least one person to the ground,</strong> footage posted by Russian news sites and on social media showed.</p> <p>The clip below shows <strong>a helicopter firing a salvo of rockets at a military truck covered in camouflage netting in open countryside,</strong> with three vehicles with no military markings visible, parked a few meters away. <strong>A man in civilian clothes who had been standing close to the truck was engulfed in a cloud of dust. </strong>The person filming the clip, who was slightly further away, could be seen sprawled on the ground.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>The Russian Defence Ministry&rsquo;s western military district, in a statement cited by Interfax news agency, said that <strong>during a training exercise a helicopter&rsquo;s targeting system had mistakenly acquired a target</strong>, but denied anyone had been injured.</p> <p>The representative cited by Interfax did not say when the incident happened, or where, or if the exercise was part of the &ldquo;Zapad-2017&rdquo; war games.</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;As a result of a strike by an unguided rocket, a cargo vehicle with no people on board was damaged,&rdquo;</em></strong> Interfax quoted a representative of the military district as saying.</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="1146" height="553" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Eastern Bloc media Exercise Zapad Interfax Mass media North Atlantic Treaty Organization Politics Reuters War western Russia Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:35:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603776 at Russian Collusion? New Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton Invited Putin To "Pay For Play" Event <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Mac Slavo via,</em></a></p> <p>In <strong>newly released emails which the mainstream media is willfully ignoring,</strong> Hillary Clinton invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to a Clinton Foundation event. <strong>The Russian collusion between Hillary Clinton is becoming very apparent.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="226" src="" width="493" /></a></p> <p><strong>Hillary Clinton likes to talk a tough game about Russian President Vladimir Putin.</strong> And she likes to put him on the <a href="" target="_blank">list of those at fault for her loss in the election</a> last November to Donald Trump. <strong><a href="" target="_blank">But that didn&rsquo;t stop her from inviting</a> him and other top Russian officials to a Clinton Foundation gala right after she became Secretary of State.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Clinton Foundation director of foreign policy Amitabh Desai sent dozens of invitations to world leaders including then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, emails recently obtained by&nbsp;<em><a href="">Judicial Watch</a>&nbsp;</em>revealed.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>While Democrats blast any Republican who has the nerve to even look Russia&rsquo;s direction, Hillary and her minions in the Clinton&nbsp;Foundation were begging the Russians to come to an event put on by the <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;pay for play&rdquo; organization</a>. </strong></p> <p>Hillary offered political favors in exchange for money filtered through the Clinton Foundation.</p> <p>On March 13, 2009, Desai emailed the list of invitations to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, who then forwarded the email to top Clinton aide, Jake Sullivan. <strong>This happened at approximately the same time that the newly appointed Clinton&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">tried</a><a href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;to &ldquo;reset&rdquo; U.S. relations with Russia.</a>&nbsp;</strong>Yet, Donald Trump has been blasted for trying to do the same thing. The propaganda in the media is becoming clear as they continue to brush this story under the rug too.</p> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton repeatedly attacked Putin</a> during her 2016 presidential campaign and often tried to link president Donald Trump to the Russian leader.</strong> Clinton and her staff, with help from Barack Obama and the media also allegedly concocted the <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;Russian hacking&rdquo; narrative</a> within 24-hours of her election defeat, as documented in the Clinton campaign tell-all book,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><i>Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s Doomed Campaign</i></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn&rsquo;t entirely on the up-and-up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Clinton&rsquo;s public display of contempt for Putin</a> does not match her track record of how she interacted with the Russian leader in the past as <a href="" target="_blank">controversy swirled following a uranium deal she approved while at the State Department.</a> The deal was quickly followed by a massive donation to her foundation, proving the &ldquo;pay for play&rdquo; policy<a href=";refURL=;referrer=" target="_blank"> she herself used to become wealthy.</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;One year after inviting Putin to the Clinton Foundation event, she approved the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">sale</a><a href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;of 20% of America&rsquo;s uranium</a> capacity to Russia,&rdquo;</strong>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><i>Conservative Review</i></a>&nbsp;noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Shortly thereafter, donors connected to the company that was sold to Russia&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">contributed</a><a href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;$145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation.&rdquo;</a></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>These newly released emails simply prove what most already knew &ndash; Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s collusion with Russia is far deeper than Donald Trump&rsquo;s.</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="493" height="226" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Bill Clinton Clinton Foundation Clinton Foundation Department of State Donald Trump Donald Trump Draft:Timeline of the Trump-Russia Scandal Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton presidential campaign Judicial Watch Politics Politics Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections United States Uranium Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin Wed, 20 Sep 2017 03:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603812 at The Obamacare "Death Spiral": Health Plans Now Cost Employers More Than A New Car <p>With the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare replacement now officially dead, it appears Senate Republicans will be unable to pass a repeal-and-replace bill before the Sept. 30 deadline announced by the Senate Parliamentarian arrives &ndash; though it&rsquo;s impossible to rule out another long-shot plan gaining momentum in the coming days.</p> <p>After the deadline, Senate Republicans would need 60 votes for their repeal-and-replace bill, effectively killing the repeal-and-replace effort, at least for now.</p> <p>As Republicans struggle to fulfill their campaign promises to the American people, the <a href="">Wall Street Journal </a>has published a report showing that rising premiums are forcing some small business owners to stop offering benefits, the latest sign that Democrats ignored Republican rhetoric about the bill&rsquo;s job-killing potential at their own political peril.</p> <p>As we&rsquo;ve reported time and time again, the bill has increased cost pressures on businesses, forcing them lay off employees or pare back benefits to stay in business.</p> <p>According to <a href="">WSJ</a>,<strong> the average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed toward $19,000 for a family plan this year, while the share of firms providing insurance to workers continued to edge lower</strong>, according to a major survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 382px;" /></a></p> <p>Annual premiums rose 3% to $18,764 for an employer plan in 2017, from $18,142 last year, the same rate of increase as in 2016, according to an annual poll of employers conducted by Kaiser and the Health Research &amp; Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association.</p> <p>Premiums for employers have been climbing for several years, though, as <a href="">WSJ </a>notes, their rise has been slowed somewhat by a shift toward larger out-of-pocket costs for employees in the form of higher deductibles. That move slowed this year, as deductibles were roughly flat, compared with 2016.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 406px;" /></a></p> <p>Kaiser foundation officials said it wasn&rsquo;t clear why the growth in deductibles appeared to pause this year. The average general deductible for single coverage among all workers, including those with no deductible, this year was $1,221 &ndash; the same as last year, but up sharply from $802 in 2012. This year, 28% of covered workers were enrolled in high-deductible plans that can be paired with savings accounts that aren&rsquo;t taxed, compared with 29% last year and 19% five years ago.</p> <p>Drew Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser foundation, said it was too soon to tell if the growth in deductibles would quickly resume next year, or if employers are reluctant to keep pushing the tactic.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll have to watch it,&rdquo; Mr. Altman said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s possible it&rsquo;s playing itself out or reaching some kind of natural limit.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Still, the rise of premiums over time has resulted in family health plans that can annually cost more than a new car, though often most of the cost is borne by employers. Employees paid on average $5,714, or 31%, of the premiums, for a family plan in 2017, according to Kaiser.</p> <p>In what should be interpreted as clear-cut evidence of the bill&rsquo;s job-killing potential, Gary Claxton, a vice president at the foundation, said that the overall cost of insurance appears to be driving small firms, particularly those with low-wage workers, to stop offering health benefits. Indeed, among small employers that didn&rsquo;t offer health insurance, 44% said the biggest reason for not providing the benefit was its cost. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s harder for them to maintain coverage when it&rsquo;s so expensive,&rdquo; Mr. Claxton said.</p> <p>However, among small employers that didn&rsquo;t provide health coverage, 16% did give workers some money they could use toward purchasing a plan themselves.</p> <p>None of this should surprise readers, as we&#39;ve been writing for years that the entire Obamacare system is on the &quot;verge of collapse&quot; as premiums soar, risk pools deteriorate and insurers were pull out of exchanges all around the country leaving many Americans with just a single &#39;option&#39; for health insurance.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 320px;" /></a></p> <p>Meanwhile, for an individual worker, the average annual cost of employer coverage was $6,690 in the 2017 survey, up 4% from last year, with employees paying 18% of that.</p> <p>In another troubling trend highlighted by WSJ, the number of employers offering health insurance as a benefit to employees has been declining even as the labor market has purportedly been tightening. This appears to jive with stagnant hourly earnings, which have shown little movement as most of the new jobs being created in the US are low-level, low-skill and low-pay.</p> <p><strong>The Kaiser survey was conducted between January and June of this year and included 2,137 randomly selected employers that responded to the full telephone survey.</strong><br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="765" height="407" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> 111th United States Congress American Health Care Act American Hospital Association Deductible Economy Excises Health insurance Healthcare reform in the United States Insurance Internal Revenue Code Internal Revenue Service Kaiser Family Foundation Labor None Obamacare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Social Issues Statutory law Wall Street Journal Wed, 20 Sep 2017 02:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603805 at Did Obama Know About Comey's Surveillance? <p><a href=""><em>Authored by James Freman op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,</em></a></p> <p><em><strong>The media is less interested in Obama Administration wiretapping than in how Trump described it...</strong></em></p> <p><a href=""><img height="334" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>This week CNN is reporting more details on the Obama Administration&rsquo;s 2016 surveillance of people connected to the presidential campaign of the party out of power. <strong>It seems that once President Obama&rsquo;s appointee to run the FBI, James Comey, had secured authorization for wiretapping, the bureau continued its surveillance into 2017.</strong> CNN <a class="icon none" href="" target="_blank">reports</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>This means the wiretapping was authorized more than ten months ago and perhaps more than a year ago. </strong></p> <p>It was presumably a tough decision for a judge to issue a secret warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, <strong>enabling the administration to spy on someone connected with the presidential campaign of its political adversaries. </strong></p> <p><strong>One would presumably only approve such an order if the request presented by the executive branch was highly compelling</strong> and likely to produce evidence that the subject of the wiretap was in fact working with Russia to disrupt U.S. elections.</p> <p><u><strong>Roughly a year later, as the public still waits for such evidence, this column wonders how this judge is feeling now</strong></u>, especially now that CNN has reported that at least two of its <strong>three sources believe the resulting evidence is inconclusive.</strong></p> <p>One would also presume&mdash;or at least hope&mdash;that seeking to wiretap associates of the leader of the political opposition is not an everyday occurrence in any administration. At the very least, it seems highly unlikely that such a decision would be made by a mid-level official. CNN notes,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>It seems reasonable for the public to know exactly which officials made this decision and who else they consulted or informed of their surveillance plans. <em><u>Was the President briefed on the details of this investigation?</u></em></strong></p> <p>And as for the information showing suspicion, where did the FBI come up with that? A September 7 column from the Journal&rsquo;s Kim Strassel raises disturbing questions, based on recent events and a Washington Post story from last winter. Ms. Strassel <a class="icon none" href="">writes</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The House Intelligence Committee&rsquo;s investigation took a sharp and notable turn on Tuesday, as news broke that it had subpoenaed the FBI and the Justice Department for information relating to the infamous Trump &ldquo;dossier.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>That dossier, whose allegations appear to have been fabricated, was commissioned by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and then developed by a former British spook named Christopher Steele. ..</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Washington Post in February reported that Mr. Steele &ldquo;was familiar&rdquo; to the FBI, since he&rsquo;d worked for the bureau before. The newspaper said Mr. Steele had reached out to a &ldquo;friend&rdquo; at the FBI about his Trump work as far back as July 2016. The Post even reported that Mr. Steele &ldquo;reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Oddly, even though CNN is the source of this week&rsquo;s news, <strong>the media outlet seems less interested in President Obama&rsquo;s knowledge of the surveillance activities</strong> that occurred on his watch and against his political adversaries <strong>than in how President Trump has described them</strong>.</p> <p>CNN&rsquo;s scoop doesn&rsquo;t even mention Mr. Obama except in the context of Mr. Trump&rsquo;s accusations of wiretapping against the former president that appeared on Twitter in March. <strong>CNN has followed up with <a class="icon none" href="" target="_blank">another story </a>saying that Mr. Trump&rsquo;s accusations have still not been proven.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>That&rsquo;s true, although Mr. Trump&rsquo;s argument may be getting stronger.</strong></u> And whatever Donald Trump&rsquo;s tweets say, Americans deserve to know how our government came to spy on people associated with the presidential campaign of the party out of power.</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="851" height="474" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Christopher Steele Department of Justice Donald Trump Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation GPS House Intelligence Committee James Comey KIM Links between Trump associates and Russian officials Newspaper Obama Administration Obama administration Paul Manafort Politics President Obama Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections SPY Telephone tapping the Washington Post Trump Tower wiretapping allegations Twitter Twitter UN Court United States Wall Street Journal Wed, 20 Sep 2017 02:20:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603811 at Fed’s Massive QE is Ending – Here Comes the Boom! By Michael Carino <p class="MsoNormal">The Federal Reserve has manipulated bond prices for the last<br /> 10 years.&nbsp; Yields in the US and abroad<br /> are lower now than during the Great Depression – a period in time that could<br /> justify such low yields.&nbsp; For those with<br /> short memories, bond markets are more expensive than before and right after the<br /> financial crisis of 2008.&nbsp; Longer dated<br /> yields are at least 300 basis points richer than typical when inflation is<br /> running around 2% as it is today.&nbsp; Yes,<br /> the bond market in the US and globally are the most overpriced ever. &nbsp;We are now on the precipice of the catalyst<br /> for the greatest bond market trade unwind ever - the end of the Fed’s quantitative<br /> easing program.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I have heard all the arguments for why yields are so<br /> low.&nbsp; Inflation is low, growth is slow,<br /> the Fed is raising rates or lowering rates, buying bonds or selling bonds and a<br /> plethora of the sky is falling fodder is credited for reasons to buy or hold<br /> onto current positions in the bond market.&nbsp;<br /> You can backfill this story any way you like.&nbsp; The truth is that the bond market has been<br /> manipulated by the Federal Reserve lowering the Fed Funds rates to zero, buying<br /> 5 trillion of bonds and giving forward guidance that it is safe to come along<br /> on the Fed induced bond buying binge.&nbsp;<br /> The Fed’s commitment that they would not take the punch bowl away from<br /> the party had definitely contributed to the bond buying bonanza.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Party Over!&nbsp; The Fed<br /> has been warning the markets that the party has come to an end, Fed Funds will<br /> keep going higher and their portfolio will be rolling off and reduced.&nbsp; Even though it’s last call, many participants<br /> are lining up to load up on drinks, hoping the lights to the bar stay on a<br /> little longer.&nbsp; Long term bond yields<br /> have been manipulated by some of the largest bond trading firms during low<br /> volume periods pushing yields back down to lows seen only during depressions or<br /> catastrophes.&nbsp; These market distorting<br /> strategies are masked by the Fed’s market distorting strategies.&nbsp; Even though short term rates are pinned near<br /> the Fed Funds rate, long term rates have been manipulated to where the yield<br /> curve is rather flat.&nbsp; You pick up very<br /> little yield to compensate for the embedded duration risk, or price risk from<br /> rising interest rates as you look out the interest rate curve.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">As the Fed continues to raise rates and now unwinds their<br /> massive bond purchases, the historically low bond yields leave the market is in<br /> a tenuous position.&nbsp; Any day, and for any<br /> reason, the bond market can experience parabolic moves higher in yield.&nbsp; As volatility increases, more bond managers<br /> will evacuate the market place that has limited yield to compensate for the<br /> volatility risk.&nbsp; Cash is now a viable<br /> alternative and there is only a minimal yield give up with none of the risks in<br /> longer dated bonds. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">To be honestly blunt, investors are taking massive amounts<br /> of risk in the bond market – consciously or unconsciously.&nbsp; Yes, some of the biggest risks with little<br /> compensation.&nbsp; We have learned nothing<br /> since the 2008 bond market meltdown.&nbsp; And<br /> now we are at lower yields and higher prices since then.&nbsp; Worse, the bond market has almost doubled in<br /> the last 10 years.&nbsp; I have to repeat<br /> myself again.&nbsp; Doubled in the last 10<br /> years!!! &nbsp;&nbsp;Lower yields in a market that<br /> is twice as large and we still think this is going to end well? </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Fed has fostered and encouraged the current bond market<br /> situation.&nbsp; They know their departure<br /> from the market will be disruptive and have been trying to set the market up<br /> for this for some time.&nbsp; Instead of<br /> positioning accordingly, large participants have been high volume trading the<br /> markets at the detriment to those that have tried to prepare for this next<br /> chapter.&nbsp; This leaves the market poorly<br /> positioned for the Fed’s withdrawal of market support. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The bond market has changed greatly from that of a decade<br /> ago and there are a few large balance sheets that hold significantly large<br /> positions.&nbsp; This distribution in the bond<br /> market makes it impossible for the largest holders to ever sell their<br /> positions.&nbsp; Any attempt to sell (to who?)<br /> and yields would shoot higher.&nbsp; The best<br /> they can do is to keep providing liquidity, supporting markets at these most<br /> expensive levels and hope some event comes along to bluff the market into<br /> holding these levels until they retire or sell their firms.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So what should the markets expect?&nbsp; I was vocally warning anyone who would listen<br /> in 2006 and 2007 that the risks built in the system would be catastrophic when<br /> they unwound.&nbsp; I continue to ring the<br /> alarms now. &nbsp;After 10 years of driving<br /> and pinning yields to ultimate lows and the fundamentals significantly divergent<br /> from the market, market participants are unprepared for the end of the Fed’s QE<br /> program.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">With the end of QE and the largest buyer of Treasuries non-existent,<br /> volatility will increase.&nbsp; Yields cannot<br /> be justified when volatility increases and selling in the bond market will<br /> begin.&nbsp; Money will move to cash and<br /> redemptions submitted to bond funds and other fixed income hedge funds.&nbsp; But yields will move higher before the bond<br /> fund redemptions are paid leaving larger losses and more panicked investors. &nbsp;Higher bond yields will not be met with the<br /> buy the dips attitude.&nbsp; Rather, selling<br /> will beget selling, liquidity will disappear and yields will start to gap<br /> higher.&nbsp; Funds that knew nothing except<br /> inflows will, unfortunately, need to limit redemptions and gate their<br /> investors.&nbsp; As volatility increases and<br /> liquidity decreases, the markets will crescendo into a financial debacle that<br /> will only end when a large or a couple of large and popular funds that have<br /> outperformed over the past 10 years have to close down.&nbsp; This will alleviate selling, but more<br /> importantly, reprice the bond markets to a yield level that compensates for<br /> risks and starts to attract sound investors.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">This may seem like a dire prediction but it’s not.&nbsp; This is part of any normal market process<br /> where prices go up and down.&nbsp; The<br /> unfortunate result of 10 years of Fed market manipulation is that many bond<br /> market managers are clueless as to how normal markets operate. &nbsp;Some traders were 10 years old during the last<br /> bond market debacle! &nbsp;What worked for the<br /> last 10 years will not work for the next 10.&nbsp;<br /> As the Fed turns off the lights and locks up the bar, don’t find yourself<br /> stuck inside looking for a way out. &nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">by Michael Carino, Greenwich Endeavors, 9/19/17</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Michael Carino is the CEO of Greenwich Endeavors and has<br /> been a fund manager and owner for more than 20 years. &nbsp;He has positions that benefit from a<br /> normalized bond market and higher yields. &nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-blog"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_blog" width="675" height="693" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bond Bond Business Economy Federal Reserve Finance Financial markets fixed Fixed income Funds Great Depression Hedge funds Interest rate Market Manipulation Meltdown Monetary policy Money None Quantitative easing US Federal Reserve Volatility Yield curve Wed, 20 Sep 2017 02:19:25 +0000 Greenwich Endeavors 603816 at Full Preview Of Tomorrow's "Historic" FOMC Meeting <p>It is virtually guaranteed that tomorrow the FOMC will make history by officially announcing the Fed's plan to begin shrinking its balance sheet through the gradual phasing out of bond reinvestments, which however in a world in which <strong>other </strong>central banks continue to pump $125 billion per month, will hardly by noticed by markets at least in the beginning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="332" /></a></p> <p>So aside from the start of balance sheet renormalization what else should traders expect tomorrow? Earlier today, <a href="">we showed a cheat sheet from ING</a> that broke down the various USD bullish and bearish permutations of how Yellen could still surprise the market, including the Fed's signalling on policy rates, economic projections, a shift in the "dots", comments on asset prices and, last but not least, whether Yellen will stay or leave when her term expires in Feb 2018. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="346" /></a></p> <p>* * * </p> <p>For those seeking a more in-depth preview, <a href="">here courtesy of RanSquawk</a>, is the full "historic" September 20 FOMC Preview.</p> <ul> <li><strong>FOMC likely to maintain rates between 1.00-1.25%; there will be focus on whether it flattens the rate hike trajectory</strong></li> <li><strong>The formal announcement of balance sheet reduction is expected; it’s unclear what size the Fed wants to return it to</strong></li> <li><strong>Growth and unemployment projections unlikely to see major changes; inflation may be trimmed again</strong></li> </ul> <p><strong>RATES</strong></p> <ul> <li>Money markets price a very slim chance that the FOMC will hike rates this week, with an overwhelming 98.6% implied probability that the Federal Funds Rate target will remain between 1.00% to 1.25%. Looking ahead, markets now assign a 58% chance that rates will be lifted again in 2017.</li> <li>Federal Funds futures currently price in just two more hikes over the Fed’s current forecast horizon; the FOMC’s June forecasts pencilled in seven rate rises over that timeframe. Note, this week’s forecast will extend the horizon out to 2020.</li> <li>Given the cautious tone of comments from FOMC participants in recent weeks, it will be interesting to see whether the central bank lowers its trajectory for the rate path down, in line with the market’s view. However, analysts at Barclays do not expect a major revision to the median view of the rate profile, but sees the average falling: “We expect the median policy path to remain unchanged, but the average policy path should decline. We believe the average funds rate will decline by 15-25bp across the forecast horizon, and we believe as many as seven participants may signal that they prefer no further rate hikes this year (against nine participants who view one or more as appropriate).”</li> </ul> <p><strong>BALANCE SHEET</strong></p> <ul> <li>It is an almost a forgone conclusion that the FOMC will formally announce the start of its balance sheet programme; indeed, ‘several’ were ready to make the announcement in July. The Fed has also been given some leeway not that the debt ceiling has been extended until December.</li> <li>In June, the FOMC suggested a plan where it will allow $6bln of maturing Treasuries and $4bln of maturing MBS to roll-off per month for a three-month period; that amount would then be raised to $12bln for Treasuries and $8bln for MBS for another three months, and after a year, redemptions would be capped at $30bln for Treasuries and $20bln for MBS per month.</li> <li>The plan ensures the Fed wouldn’t have to outright sell any of its holdings immediately, which would cause a market reaction. In fact, Fed commentary suggests that the central bank wants to avoid any “shock and awe”; Loretta Mester (non-voter) said the intention is to set the policy, then “forget it”, suggesting that balance sheet would not be an active policy tool.</li> <li>Some questions remain unanswered; for instance, what size the FOMC is ultimately seeking to cut the balance sheet to. It is currently around $4.5trln; pre-crisis, it was around $800mln, but it is unlikely that the Fed intends to bring it down to that size. It seems as though the FOMC is still undecided: William Dudley (NY Fed, permanent voter) sees the balance sheet falling to between $2.4trln and $3.5trln – a wide range, but there doesn’t seem to be any firm consensus as yet.</li> </ul> <p><strong>STAFF ECONOMIC PROJECTIONS</strong></p> <ul> <li>The Fed meets amid an improving tone in US economic data: The labour market has been ticking along nicely for some time, with the rate of joblessness beneath the Fed’s estimate of NAIRU. The second estimate of growth in Q2 was revised higher to 3.0%, well above the Fed’s longer-term view between 1.8% and 2.0%. Inflation has been the Achilles heel, but there are some signs of improvement here too. Recent CPI data showed upside surprises to headline and core rates; but the Fed’s preferred measure – core personal consumption expenditures – lingers at the lowest since Q4 2015 at (1.4% vs Fed’s June forecast of 1.7% in 2017); additionally, wage growth continues to disappoint, which may give the Fed ammunition to remain dovish.</li> <li>Analysts at Oxford Economics say “a key focus will be on the FOMC’s view of recent inflation readings and its degree of conviction about whether inflation will hit the 2% target over the medium-term,” adding “this in turn will underpin the committee’s decision about raising rates further this year and the pace of rate increases next year.” FOMC Chair Janet Yellen has previously attributed the weak inflation to temporary factors and called for patience. Many will look out for commentary on whether the Committee has reached a consensus on the extent to which low inflation is transitory, and how much patience should be extended. The likes of Neel Kashkari (voter, dovish) expressed outright concerns on inflation, whereas centrists like William Dudley see a return to target in the medium-term; others, like Robert Kaplan (voter) want to see more evidence before committing to a tighter monetary policy path.</li> <li>It is worth noting that the Fed’s forecast horizon will be extended out to 2020, and the FOMC’s June forecasts and the current market view are generally in line, with the exception of inflation, suggesting growth and unemployment forecasts will be little changed, though its short-term inflation views may be cut.</li> </ul> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="346" /></a></p> <p><strong>PRESS CONFERENCE WITH CHAIR YELLEN</strong></p> <ul> <li>Chair Janet Yellen will likely adopt her usual balanced approach in her press conference, according to SGH Macro Advisors, to ensure that the FOMC still has the option of a rate hike in 2017. “She will certainly give voice to dovish concerns over the persistence in low inflation and the possibility of a new inflation dynamic emerging,” SGH says, “but on balance, we still expect her to modestly tilt her remarks to a base rate path that would warrant a possible third-rate hike in December.”</li> <li>In addition to inflation, the Fed’s forecasts, and the immediacy of near-term rates hikes, Yellen may also be quizzed on FOMC personnel following the early resignation of Stanley Fischer. Tradition dictates that outgoing Governors do not usually attend the last meeting of their term; however, the Fed has confirmed that Fischer will be in attendance, though it is unclear whether he will be submitting economic forecasts.</li> <li>The upshot of Fischer’s resignation means that there would be four vacancies on the Fed’s Board of Governors; but additionally, there remains doubt around Chair Yellen’s own position when her term expires next year, and on top of that, the position of President of the Richmond Fed (which will have a vote in 2018) remains unfilled.</li> </ul> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="250" /></a></p> <p>* * * </p> <p>Finally, here are select sellside research takes on what to expect tomorrow:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Barclays</strong>: We believe the Fed will begin balance sheet normalization as described in the June 2017 Addendum to the Committee's Policy Normalization Principles and Plans. Beyond this, the committee will likely engage in extensive discussions about how much the underlying trend rate of inflation has slowed. We do not believe the committee will reach consensus on the extent to which slower inflation is transitory and, in turn, how much “patience” is needed before proceeding with further policy rate normalization or whether it is worth the risk to financial stability to run the domestic economy hotter. Yet, we believe some members will reflect their view that some of the slowing in inflation will be persistent and mark down modestly their inflation forecast for 2018. Although we do not expect the median policy rate path to change, we do expect the average federal funds rate projection to decline.</li> <li><strong>Credit Suisse: </strong>We expect the Fed to keep the fed funds rate unchanged and to begin reducing the size of their balance sheet. We expect an announcement in line with their June policy normalization plan which stated that reinvestments are ended up to a gradually-increasing cap. The caps are likely to begin at a modest $10bn per month, but are scheduled to rise every quarter before levelling off at $50bn. Aside from the balance sheet reduction, we expect a dovish tone from the September meeting.</li> <li><strong>Goldman Sachs: </strong>We expect the FOMC to officially announce next week that balance sheet runoff will begin in October. As the Fed has already communicated extensively about its plan for a gradual and predictable runoff, we expect markets to focus instead on the outlook for the federal funds rate. The key question is whether the committee’s expectations for the federal funds rate have declined in light of the surprising deceleration in the inflation data since the start of the year. Several Fed officials have expressed reduced confidence in the view that the recent decline is a blip and that inflation will reaccelerate. Despite this week’s stronger-than-expected CPI report, Fed officials will still be looking at year-over-year core PCE and CPI inflation rates that are three tenths and five tenths lower, respectively, than in March. We therefore look for lower core inflation in the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) and expect the “dot plot” to show a decline in the average projected funds rate path. While risks are tilted to the downside, we still expect the median projection to continue to show a third rate hike this year, 3 hikes in 2018 and a longer-run funds rate at 3%. Ultimately, there are three reasons why we expect only minor dovish changes. First, several influential FOMC members have highlighted that there is not yet enough data in hand to abandon the view that the economy is close to full employment and that diminishing spare capacity will gradually push inflation back up to the target. Second, growth momentum has remained very firm and while hurricanes will make the activity data noisier in the near term, they are unlikely to derail firm underlying trend growth. Third, financial conditions have continued to ease even as the FOMC moved to a path of quarterly tightening last December.</li> <li><strong>ING</strong>: We think this may be one of the more difficult meetings and press conferences for Chair Yellen to navigate, not least because of the growing dichotomy within the FOMC over the appropriate near-term policy approach. Our base case is for the doves to prevail, with a lower conviction over the pace and extent of future policy tightening visible in the Fed's dot plot. While the median 2017 dot is still set to tentatively pencil in a Dec rate hike, we expect to see more members calling for a pause for the remainder of the year; anything more than five would suggest that hopes of a Dec hike stand on a fragile footing. More telling of a dovish shift would be if the 2018 dot also moves lower; here we require five or more members to downgrade their views over future policy hikes, a scenario that cannot be ruled out given the softer US inflation dynamics. What is highly likely is that we'll see the 2019 and longer-run dots moving lower – with Fed officials acknowledging that a 2% handle for the terminal Fed funds rate is more realistic in the prevailing US economic environment.</li> <li><strong>Morgan Stanley: </strong>Our US economists expect the Fed to announce balance sheet normalization at its September meeting. They also expect the median dots to remain as they were in June, with the Fed adding a final rate hike in 2020 (see FOMC Preview: Auto Pilot). In our view, the risks to this outcome are that the 2018 median dot falls to 1.875% from 2.125% and the longer-run median dot falls to 2.75% from 3.00%. To assess the risks, we constructed the September 2017 dot-plot scenario in Exhibit 4. First, we attempted to match up dots in 2017 with dots in 2018. This allows us to create the following scenarios we felt were reasonable. We assume: 2 more FOMC participants pencil in no further hikes in 2017 and decrease the # of subsequent hikes in 2018 to 2from 3; 2 participants keep the third hike in 2017, but decrease the # of subsequent hikes in 2018 to 2 from 3;and 2 participants decrease the # of hikes in 2017 to 3 from 4, but keep 4 hikes in 2018. Given we assumed only 2 more participants join the "no more hikes in 2017" camp, the 2017 median dot remains at 1.375%. However, given our other assumptions, half of the Committee ends up with a 2018 dot below 2.00% and half ends up with a dot above 2.00% – leaving the median between 1.875 and 2.125% versus its 2.125% position in June. It is possible that Randal Quarles is confirmed by the Senate and sworn in before the meeting, thereby allowing a 17th dot to be added. But, at this point, the Senate has not scheduled his confirmation hearing. As a result of our scenario analysis, we think there is a reasonable risk that the 2018 median dot falls by 25bp,even though it's not our base case.</li> </ul> <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="780" height="439" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Banking Barclays Bond Business Central bank Central Banks CPI Credit Suisse Debt Ceiling Economy fed Federal funds rate Federal Open Market Committee Federal Reserve Bank of New York Federal Reserve System Fed’s Board of Governors Financial services FOMC goldman sachs Goldman Sachs Janet Yellen Janet Yellen Monetary Policy Monetary policy Money Morgan Stanley Neel Kashkari NY Fed Open market operation Personal Consumption RANSquawk Richmond Fed Senate Unemployment William Dudley Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:53:23 +0000 Tyler Durden 603814 at Happy Birthday CIA: 7 Truly Terrible Things The Agency Has Done In 70 Years <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Carey Wedler via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>On Monday, President Trump&nbsp;<a href="">tweeted</a>&nbsp;birthday wishes to the Air Force and the CIA. </strong>Both became&nbsp;<a href="">official</a>&nbsp;organizations 70 years ago on September 18, 1947, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 312px;" /></a></p> <p>After spending years as a wartime intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services, the agency was solidified as a key player in the federal government&rsquo;s operations with then-President Harry Truman&rsquo;s authorization.</p> <p>In the seventy years since, <strong>the CIA has committed a wide variety of misdeeds, crimes, coups, and violence</strong>. Here are seven of the worst programs they&rsquo;ve carried out (that are known to the public):</p> <h3><u><strong>1.Toppling governments around the world</strong></u></h3> <p>The CIA is best known for its first coup, Operation Ajax, in 1953, in which it ousted the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh, reinstating the autocratic Shah, who favored western oil interests. That operation, which the CIA now&nbsp;<a href="">admits</a>&nbsp;to waging with British intelligence, ultimately resulted in the&nbsp;<a href="">1979 revolution</a>&nbsp;and subsequent U.S. hostage crisis. Relations between the U.S. and Iran remain strained to this day, aptly described by the CIA-coined term &ldquo;<a href="">blowback</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>But the CIA has had a hand in&nbsp;<a href="">toppling</a>&nbsp;a number of other democratically elected governments, from Guatemala (1954) and the Congo (1960) to the Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), and Chile (1973). The CIA has aimed to install leaders who appease American interests, often&nbsp;<a href=";q=led+by+george#v=snippet&amp;q=led%20by%20george&amp;f=false">empowering</a>&nbsp;oppressive,&nbsp;<a href="">violent dictators</a>. This is only a partial list of countries where the CIA covertly attempted to exploit and manipulate sovereign nations&rsquo; governments.</p> <h3><u><strong>2. Operation Paperclip</strong></u></h3> <p>In one of the more bizarre CIA plots, the agency and other government departments employed Nazi scientists both within and outside the&nbsp;United States to gain an advantage over the Soviets. As&nbsp;<a href="">summarized</a>&nbsp;by&nbsp;<em>NPR</em>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>The aim [of Operation Paperclip] was to find and preserve German weapons, including biological and chemical agents, but American scientific intelligence officers quickly realized the weapons themselves were not enough.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;<em>They decided the United States needed to bring the Nazi scientists themselves to the U.S. Thus began a mission to recruit top Nazi doctors, physicists and chemists &mdash; including Wernher von Braun, who went on to design the rockets that took man to the moon.</em>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>They kept this plot secret, though they&nbsp;<a href="">admitted</a>&nbsp;to it upon the release of&nbsp;<a href=""><em>Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists To America</em></a>&nbsp;by Annie Jacobsen. In a book review, the CIA wrote that &ldquo;<em>Henry Wallace, former vice president and secretary of commerce, believed the scientists&rsquo; ideas could launch new civilian industries and produce jobs.&rdquo;&nbsp;</em></p> <p>They praised the book&rsquo;s historical accuracy, noting &ldquo;<em>that the Launch Operations Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was headed by Kurt Debus, an ardent Nazi</em>.&rdquo; They acknowledged that &ldquo;<em>General Reinhard Gehlen, former head of Nazi intelligence operations against the Soviets, was hired by the US Army and later by the CIA to operate 600 ex-Nazi agents in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany</em>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Remarkably, they noted that Jacobsen &ldquo;<em>understandably questions the morality of the decision to hire Nazi SS scientists,</em>&rdquo; but praise her for pointing out that it was done to fight Soviets. They also made sure to add that the Soviets hired Nazis, too, apparently justifying their own questionable actions by citing their most loathed enemy.</p> <h3><u><strong>3. Operation CHAOS</strong></u></h3> <p>The FBI is widely known for its&nbsp;<a href="">COINTELPRO</a>&nbsp;schemes to undermine&nbsp;<a href="">communist movements in the 1950s and anti-war, civil rights</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="">black power</a>&nbsp;movements in the 1960s, but the CIA has not been implicated nearly as deeply because, technically, the CIA cannot legally engage in domestic spying. But that was of little concern to President Lyndon B. Johnson as opposition to the Vietnam war grew. According to former&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tim Weiner, as documented in his extensive CIA&nbsp;<a href="">history</a>,&nbsp;<em>Legacy of Ashes</em>, Johnson instructed then-CIA Director Richard Helms to break the law:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>In October 1967, a handful of CIA analysts joined in the first big Washington march against the war. The president regarded protesters as enemies of the state. He was convinced that the peace movement was controlled and financed by Moscow and Beijing. He wanted proof. He ordered Richard Helms to produce it.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;<em>Helms reminded the president that the CIA was barred from spying on Americans. He says Johnson told him: &lsquo;I&rsquo;m quite aware of that. What I want for you is to pursue this matter, and to do what is necessary to track down the foreign communists who are behind this intolerable interference in our domestic affairs&hellip;&rsquo;</em>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Helms obeyed. Weiner wrote:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>In a blatant violation of his powers under the law, the director of central intelligence became a part-time secret police chief. The CIA undertook a domestic surveillance operation, code-named Chaos. It went on for almost seven years&hellip; Eleven CIA officers grew long hair, learned the jargon of the New Left, and went off to infiltrate peace groups in the United States and Europe</em>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>According to Weiner, &ldquo;<em>the agency compiled a computer index of 300,000 names of American people and organizations, and extensive files on 7,200 citizens. It began working in secret with police departments all over America</em>.&rdquo; Because they could not draw a &ldquo;clear distinction&rdquo; between the new far left and mainstream opposition to the war, the CIA spied on every major peace organization in the country. President Johnson also wanted them to prove a connection between foreign communists and the black power movement. &ldquo;<em>The agency tried its best</em>,&rdquo; Weiner noted, ultimately noting that &ldquo;<em>the CIA never found a shred of evidence that linked the leaders of the American left or the black-power movement to foreign governments.</em>&rdquo;</p> <h3><u><strong>4. Infiltrating the media</strong></u></h3> <p>Over the years, the CIA has successfully gained influence in the news media, as well as popular media like film and television. Its influence over the news began almost immediately after the agency was formed. As Weiner explained, CIA Director Allen Dulles established firm ties with newspapers:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>Dulles kept in close touch with the men who ran the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the nation&rsquo;s leading weekly magazines. He could pick up the phone and edit a breaking story, make sure an irritating foreign correspondent was yanked from the field, or hire the services of men such as Time&rsquo;s Berlin bureau chief and Newsweek&rsquo;s man in Tokyo</em>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>He continued:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>It was second nature for Dulles to plant stories in the press. American newsrooms were dominated by veterans of the government&rsquo;s wartime propaganda branch, the Office of War Information&hellip;The men who responded to the CIA&rsquo;s call included Henry Luce and his editors at Time, Life, and Fortune; popular magazines such as Parade, the Saturday Review, and Reader&rsquo;s Digest; and the most powerful executives at CBS News. Dulles built a public-relations and propaganda machine that came to include more than fifty news organizations, a dozen publishing houses, and personal pledges of support from men such as Axel Springer, West Germany&rsquo;s most powerful press baron</em>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The CIA&rsquo;s influence had not waned by 1977&nbsp;when journalist Carl Bernstein&nbsp;<a href="">reported</a>&nbsp;on publications with CIA agents in their employ, as well as &ldquo;<em>more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty?five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>The CIA has also successfully&nbsp;<a href="">advised on and influenced</a>&nbsp;numerous television shows,&nbsp;<a href=";printsec=frontcover&amp;pg=GBS.PT4.w.1.0.194">such as</a>&nbsp;<em>Homeland&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<em>24</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="">films</a>&nbsp;like&nbsp;<em>Zero Dark Thirty&nbsp;</em>and&nbsp;<em>Argo</em>, which push narratives that ultimately favor the agency. According to Tricia Jenkins, author of&nbsp;<a href=";printsec=frontcover&amp;pg=GBS.PT5"><em>The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film &amp; Television</em></a><em>,&nbsp;</em>a concerted agency effort began in the 1990s to counteract negative public perceptions of the CIA, but their influence reaches back decades. In the 1950s, filmmakers produced films&nbsp;<a href=""><em>for</em>&nbsp;the CIA</a>, including the 1954 film adaptation of George Orwell&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Animal Farm</em>.</p> <p>Researchers Tom Secker and Matthew Alford, whose work has been&nbsp;<a href="">published</a>&nbsp;in the<em>&nbsp;American Journal of Economics and Sociology</em>, say their recent Freedom of Information Act requests have shown that the CIA &mdash; along with the military &mdash; have&nbsp;<a href="">influenced</a>&nbsp;over 1,800 films and television shows, many of which have nothing to do with CIA or military themes.</p> <h3><u><strong>5. Drug-induced Mind control</strong></u></h3> <p>In the 1950s, the CIA began experimenting with drugs to determine whether they might be useful in extracting information. As<em>&nbsp;Smithsonian Magazine</em>&nbsp;has&nbsp;<a href="">noted</a>&nbsp;of the MKUltra project:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>&ldquo;</em><em>The project, which continued for more than a decade, was originally intended to make sure the United States government kept up with presumed Soviet advances in mind-control technology. It ballooned in scope and its ultimate result, among other things, was illegal drug testing on thousands of Americans</em>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Further:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>The intent of the project was to study &lsquo;the use of biological and chemical materials in altering human behavior,&rsquo;&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em>according to</em></a><em>&nbsp;the official testimony of CIA director Stansfield Turner in 1977. The project was conducted in extreme secrecy, Turner said, because of ethical and legal questions surrounding the program and the negative public response that the CIA anticipated if MKUltra should become public.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;<em>Under MKUltra, the CIA gave itself the authority to research how drugs could:&rsquo; &lsquo;promote the intoxicating effects of alcohol;&rsquo; &lsquo;render the induction of hypnosis easier;&rsquo; &lsquo;enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion;&rsquo; produce amnesia, shock and confusion; and much more. Many of these questions were investigated using unwitting test subjects, like drug-addicted prisoners, marginalized sex workers and terminal cancer patients&ndash; &lsquo;people who could not fight back,&rsquo;&nbsp;</em><a href=""><em>in the words of</em></a><em>&nbsp;Sidney Gottlieb, the chemist who introduced LSD to the CIA.</em>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Further, as Weiner noted:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>Under its auspices, seven prisoners at a federal penitentiary in Kentucky were kept high on LSD for seventy-seven consecutive days. When the CIA slipped the same drug to an army civilian employee, Frank Olson, he leaped out of the window of a New York Hotel.&rdquo;</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Weiner added that senior CIA officers destroyed &ldquo;almost all of the records&rdquo; of the programs, but that while the &ldquo;<em>evidence that remains is fragmentary&hellip;it strongly suggests that use of secret prisons for the forcible drug-induced questioning of suspect agents went on throughout the 1950s.</em>&rdquo;</p> <p>Years later, the CIA would be accused of distributing crack-cocaine into poor black communities, though this is currently less substantiated and&nbsp;<a href="">supported</a>&nbsp;mostly by accounts of those who claim to have been involved.</p> <h3><u><strong>6. Brutal torture tactics</strong></u></h3> <p>More recently, the CIA was&nbsp;<a href="">exposed</a>&nbsp;for sponsoring abusive, disturbing terror tactics against detainees at prisons housing terror suspects. An extensive 2014 Senate report documented agents committing sexual abuse, forcing detainees to stand on broken legs, waterboarding them so severely it sometimes led to convulsions, and imposing forced rectal feeding, to name a few examples. Ultimately, the agency had very little actionable intelligence to show for their torture tactics but&nbsp;<a href="">lied</a>&nbsp;to suggest they did, according to the torture report. Their torture tactics&nbsp;<a href="">led</a>&nbsp;the International Criminal Court to suggest the CIA, along with the U.S. armed forces, could be guilty of war crimes for their abuses.</p> <h3><u><strong>7. Arming radicals</strong></u></h3> <p>The CIA has a long habit of arming radical, extremist groups that view the United States as enemies. In 1979, the CIA set out to support Afghan rebels in their bid to defeat the Soviet occupation of the Middle Eastern country. As Weiner wrote, in 1979, &ldquo;<em>Prompted by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter signed a covert-action order for the CIA to provide the Afghan rebels with medical aid, money, and propaganda.</em>&rdquo;</p> <p>As Weiner detailed later in his book:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<em>The Pakistani intelligence chiefs who doled out the CIA&rsquo;s guns and money favored the Afghan factions who proved themselves most capable in battle. Those factions also happened to be the most committed Islamists. No one dreamed that the holy warriors could ever turn their jihad against the United States</em>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Though some speculate the CIA directly armed Osama bin Laden, that is yet to be fully proven or admitted. What is clear is that western media&nbsp;<a href="">revered</a>&nbsp;him as a valuable fighter against the Soviets, that he&nbsp;<a href="">arrived</a>&nbsp;to fight in Afghanistan in1980, and that al-Qaeda emerged from the mujahideen, who were beneficiaries of the CIA&rsquo;s program. Stanford University has&nbsp;<a href="">noted</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;Bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, a prominent Palestinian cleric, &ldquo;<em>established Al Qaeda from the fighters, financial resources, and training and recruiting structures left over from the anti-Soviet war</em>.&rdquo; Much of those &ldquo;structures&rdquo; were provided by the agency. Intentionally or not, the CIA helped fuel the rise of the terror group.</p> <p>Weiner noted that as the CIA failed in other countries like Libya, by the late 1980s &ldquo;<em>Only the mujahideen, the Afghan holy warriors, were drawing blood and scenting victory. The CIA&rsquo;s Afghan operation was now a $700-million-dollar-a-year-program</em>&rdquo; and represented 80% of the overseas budget of the clandestine services. &ldquo;<em>The CIA&rsquo;s briefing books never answered the question of what would happen when a militant Islamic army defeated the godless invaders of Afghanistan</em>,&rdquo; though Tom Twetten, &ldquo;<em>the number two man in the clandestine service in the summer of 1988</em>,&rdquo; was tasked with figuring out what would happen with the Afghan rebels. &ldquo;<em>We don&rsquo;t have any plan</em>,&rdquo; he concluded.</p> <p>Apparently failing to learn their lesson, the CIA adopted nearly the exact same policy in Syria decades later, arming what they called &ldquo;moderate rebels&rdquo; against the Assad regime. Those groups ultimately&nbsp;<a href="">aligned</a>&nbsp;with al-Qaeda groups. One CIA-backed faction made headlines last year for&nbsp;<a href="">beheading</a>&nbsp;a child (though President Trump cut off the CIA program in June, the military&nbsp;<a href="">continues</a>&nbsp;to align with &ldquo;moderate&rdquo; groups).</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><strong>Unsurprisingly, this list is far from complete.</strong> The CIA has engaged in a wide variety of&nbsp;<a href="">extrajudicial practice</a>, and there are likely countless transgressions we have yet to learn about.</p> <p><strong>As Donald Trump cheers the birthday of an agency he himself once&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener">criticized</a>, it should be abundantly clear that the nation&rsquo;s covert spy agency deserves scrutiny and skepticism &mdash; not celebration.</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="720" height="374" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan Air Force al-Qaeda B+ Black site Brazil British intelligence Central Intelligence Agency Central Intelligence Agency Code names Director of Central Intelligence Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation federal government Florida Freedom of Information Act George Orwell Germany Government headlines Human rights abuses International Criminal Court Iran Islamic army Launch Operations Center McLean, Virginia mind-control technology national security New York Times office of Strategic Services office of War Information Pakistani intelligence Politics Project MKUltra Richard Helms Senate Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture Smithsonian South Vietnam SPY Stanford University Testimony Torture in the United States United States United States Army United States government Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603810 at Illinois Unpaid Vendor Backlog Hits A New Record At Over $16 Billion <p><strong>Back in July, the state of Illinois narrowly avoided a junk bond rating with a last minute budget deal that included a 32% in hike in income taxes.</strong>&nbsp; Republican Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the budget and called it a "disaster," but both houses of the state legislature voted to override his veto.&nbsp; Meanwhile, S&amp;P and Moody's were apparently both convinced that the budget deal was sufficient for the state to remain an investment grade credit and all lived happily ever after, if just for a few months.&nbsp; Per <a href="">CNN</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Illinois narrowly avoided becoming the first U.S. state ever slapped with a "junk" credit rating from S&amp;P Global Ratings after it passed its first budget in more than two years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ratings firm removed the threat of an imminent downgrade for the fifth most populous state in the country on Wednesday, ruling that the Illinois budget deal has lowered the risk of a "liquidity crisis." Now the state is rated one-notch above "junk" territory, and S&amp;P said the odds of a downgrade within the next year have "substantially diminished."</p> </blockquote> <p>Back in July, <strong>S&amp;P defended its IG rating</strong> by saying that the budget package brought the state's revenue and spending closer to parity and <strong>"reduced the near-term uncertainty that had come to characterize its financial operations."&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>Of course, if that's true, then someone is going to have to explain to us <strong>why the state's unpaid payables balance continues to balloon higher with each passing day and now <a href="">stands at a record $16,046,145,423.20</a></strong> according the comptroller's office...&nbsp; </p> <p><a href=" - IL 2.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 227px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...which is only a 3-fold increase over the past two years.</p> <p><a href=" - IL 1.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 435px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, if you're a resident of Illinois, or worse yet a pensioner in one of the state's <a href="">massively underfunded pension plans</a>, Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza would like for you to know that there is no reason for concern as she has the perfect solution to the state's debt problem: <strong>$6 billion in more debt.</strong>&nbsp; Per <a href="">Reuters</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The bill backlog is growing despite the enactment of a fiscal 2018 spending plan and income tax increase in July that ended a budget impasse between Illinois’ Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“What is going to take this backlog down is the borrowing,”</strong> said Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A provision in the budget enacted by lawmakers over the vetoes of Governor Bruce Rauner authorized the sale of up to <strong>$6 billion of general obligation bonds to pay bills from vendors and service providers</strong> that are accruing late payment penalties of as much as 12 percent.</p> </blockquote> <p>That said, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner points out that there is a <strong><em>small</em></strong> problem with Mendoza's magical $6 billion debt cure-all, namely that <strong>there is no funding available to pay 12 years worth of interest payments.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>But on Monday, the governor told reporters that the bonds do not solve any problem because lawmakers failed to set aside money to make principal and interest payments over the 12 years the debt would be outstanding.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“We need to come up with roughly half a billion (dollars) of cuts just to be able to service a bond offering,”</strong> he said, adding that he planned to meet with legislative leaders for discussion.</p> </blockquote> <p>That said, we're almost certain that if bondholders didn't care about that near-bankruptcy experience back in July, they're also not going to have any problem underwriting another $6 billion worth of debt that has no shot of ever being repaid.</p> <p><a href=" - IL Bond 2.jpg"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 334px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And we're pretty sure these guys won't care either...</p> <p><a href=" - IL Ratings.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 182px;" /></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="772" height="477" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American people of German descent Bond Bruce Rauner Business Economy Finance High-yield debt Illinois Illinois Budget Impasse Investment Grade Leslie Munger Money Politics ratings Reuters Social Issues state legislature Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 603806 at