en Retired Green Beret Fears The Final Government Objective: Enslave Or Kill Us All <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via,</em></a></p> <p><a href=""><em><img alt="" src="" style="width: 551px; height: 318px;" /></em></a></p> <p><strong>In the world situation, we are all aware of the &ldquo;hot spots,&rdquo;</strong> such as North Korea, Syria, and Ukraine that could escalate into a full-blown regional war and then expand even further, either on their own or with &ldquo;assistance&rdquo; from governments and oligarchs alike.&nbsp; <strong>We also have seen a rekindling of the tensions that existed during the first Cold War and the shaping of a new Cold War with Russia.</strong>&nbsp; Meanwhile, with all foreign policy in shambles and diplomatic ties in a limbo-vacuum, the U.S. government has adjusted its pace domestically.&nbsp; The President was sworn in with a tide of almost &ldquo;messianic&rdquo; fervor; however, 6 months has elapsed with little change evident and many of his reforms stopped dead in the water for the time being.</p> <p>Domestically the U.S. government was instituting and initiating &ldquo;reforms&rdquo; at a running pace under Obama.&nbsp; <strong>The reforms were actually <em>removals</em> of more and more of our liberties.&nbsp; This pace has slowed down, but has not ceased.</strong>&nbsp; Read the article <a href="" target="_blank">Senate Bill: Travelers Must Register Cash and Digital Amounts Over $10K or Face 10 Years in Prison and Full Asset Seizure</a><strong>.</strong>&nbsp; Labeled Senate Bill 1241, this nefarious totalitarian measure also contains provisions for wiretapping anyone suspected of &ldquo;drug trafficking or money laundering&rdquo; to fit the bill for asset seizure and further torment by the government.</p> <p><u><em><strong>They want to know everything you have, everything you&rsquo;re doing, everywhere you&rsquo;re going, and track you in real time with your happy cellular telephone.</strong></em></u></p> <p>We may appear to digress, now, but this next item is chillingly interrelated to the information previously mentioned.&nbsp; Another article by a neuroscientist, a Miss Shelly Fan<strong>.</strong>&nbsp; <strong>The government has been working on technologies such as this one for some time</strong>.&nbsp; Here is the first step, in Miss Fan&rsquo;s article <a href="" target="_blank">Forget Police Sketches: Researchers Perfectly Reconstruct Faces by Reading Brainwaves</a><strong>.</strong></p> <p>There you have it, <strong>straight out of George Orwell&rsquo;s &ldquo;<em>1984</em>,&rdquo; </strong>where Winston Smith was confronted and tortured by O&rsquo;Brien.&nbsp; <strong>The latter informed Smith there were two problems for the State (Oceania) to overcome: How to kill off hundreds of millions in an instant, and how to know exactly what a human being is thinking.&nbsp; Well, here we are.</strong>&nbsp; If they can pattern facial recognition technology to create sketches of people from the human mind, how long will it be before they can take your thoughts and formulate words or other images&hellip;even place them on a screen and store them for later use.&nbsp; Will such a thing hold up in a court?&nbsp; Probably not.&nbsp; Nowadays, they don&rsquo;t need probable cause to snag you&hellip;only &ldquo;reasonable suspicion,&rdquo; and they can doggedly pursue you across the ends of the earth.</p> <p><strong>Each week or even more often, we are seeing more technological advances, along with more Draconian, totalitarian edicts termed &ldquo;legislation.&rdquo;&nbsp;</strong> Here we see the enemy of the people in the form of a tyrannical state that has abused its powers and privileges afforded it by the Constitution and the vote of the people.&nbsp; Here we see an almost bankrupted government, running on the fumes of Fiat currency and the treaties made in the birthing of the vampiric Petrodollar&hellip;a medium created with the Saudis that (as evidenced by Qatar) they may very well be the ones to plunge the stake through the heart of the vampire.&nbsp; Here we see the last stages of a Republic&rsquo;s collapse into totalitarianism.</p> <p>The almost omnipresent police state&hellip;the federalization local and state police departments and Sheriff&rsquo;s departments, the fusion centers, the data collection facility in Utah, the steadily-hatching CCTV &ldquo;chickadees&rdquo; popping up on every corner, in every gas station, public building, and convenience store.&nbsp; It is a well-known fact that before an empire slips completely into tyranny, it enslaves, torments, brutalizes, and kills its citizens.&nbsp; <u><em><strong>Foreigners come and go, illegally and with a passport, carte blanche: Americans are the ones subjected to the scrutiny when they travel.&nbsp; An empire can&rsquo;t have its subjects&hellip;taxpaying, system-supporting subjects&hellip;going &ldquo;off&rdquo; the reservation, now, can they?</strong></em></u></p> <p>If there is a war, I have stated (and stand by the assertion) in previous articles that the<strong> war will be initiated with an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack.&nbsp;</strong> Stefan Stanford penned a brilliant article entitled, <a href="" target="_blank">This &lsquo;Game Changer&rsquo; Could Lead to 270 Million Dead Americans and Foreshadows a Massive False Flag on the Horizon</a><strong>.</strong>&nbsp; Stefan&rsquo;s belief is that <strong>an EMP may be too severe for TPTB to recover from without losing a great deal of their assets.</strong>&nbsp; He expostulates an excellent theory that it will be a <strong>controlled cyberattack that accomplishes exactly what the EMP attack would, minus the recovery time.</strong></p> <p><em>He also mentioned the show &ldquo;Revolution&rdquo; that had a couple of seasons and then was discontinued abruptly and for no reason when the ratings were good&hellip;a show that had a cyberattack that brought down the whole shooting match as its theme.&nbsp; Readers also undoubtedly recall the &ldquo;Jericho&rdquo; series that lasted only 2 seasons that had nuclear devices exploded in 23 American cities to collapse the country and usher in a new era of chaos and &ldquo;warlord&rdquo; type engagements between factions claiming to be &ldquo;the&rdquo; legitimate government. </em>Stefan and I are in complete agreement with the fact that these cancellations are way too obvious when you consider the predictive programming policies carried out by the U.S. government and Hollywood, the puppet-lackey of the State.&nbsp;<strong> The scenarios are too feasible to be discounted.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>In the meantime, the public plods through the day, dulled to the everyday events that lead us closer to the corral, and eventually into the <em>cages</em>.&nbsp;</strong> We need to focus upon these changes as they are made and keep abreast of what is happening.&nbsp; Such measures are neither &ldquo;cheap,&rdquo; nor are they instituted by our wonderful Congressional members for no reason.&nbsp; It would be a lack of reason to discount such actions as anything other than plans for the future&hellip;their plans to rule it, as well as their plans to &ldquo;deal&rdquo; with us.</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="551" height="318" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> cellular telephone Electromagnetic compatibility Electromagnetic pulse Electromagnetic radiation Energy Energy weapons facial recognition technology federalization local and state police George Orwell North Korea nuclear devices Nuclear weapons Oceania Political philosophy Politics Pulsed power ratings recovery Stanford Totalitarianism Totalitarianism Ukraine United States Army Special Forces US government We Sat, 24 Jun 2017 03:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598574 at Mapping The U.S. States That Smoke The Most (And Least) <p><strong>The number of people&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">smoking&nbsp;</a>in the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">U.S.</a>&nbsp;has fallen considerably over the years.</strong></p> <p>The most recent figures from&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>&nbsp;show that <strong>just 15 percent of adults are cigarette smokers - down from 20.9 percent in 2005</strong>.</p> <p>There is <strong>considerable variation between states though</strong>, as this infographic shows.</p> <p><a href="" title="Infographic: The U.S. States That Smoke The Most | Statista"><img alt="Infographic: The U.S. States That Smoke The Most | Statista" src="" style="height: 428px; width: 601px;" /></a></p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="">Statista</a></em></p> <p><a href=""><em>As Statista&#39;s Martin Armstrong notes,</em></a> the <strong>most smoke-free state is Utah</strong>, where 9.1 percent of adults admit to the habit.</p> <p>On the other end of the scale, <strong>26 percent of Kentucky residents represent the most prolific tobacco consumers.</strong></p> <p>Outside of the 50 states, Guam actually has the highest rate of smokers, at 27.4 percent.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Puerto Rico</a>, on the other hand has the second lowest rate - 10.7 percent.</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="694" height="345" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Behavior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cigarette Electronic cigarette Guam Habits Human behavior Martin Armstrong Prevalence of tobacco consumption Puerto Rico Smoking Smoking in Egypt Tobacco smoking Sat, 24 Jun 2017 02:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598571 at Russia-Gate Flops As Democrats' Golden-Ticket <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Robert Parry via,</em></a></p> <p><strong><em>The national Democrats saw Russia-gate and the drive to impeach President Trump as their golden ticket back to power, but so far the ticket seems to be made of fool&rsquo;s gold.</em></strong></p> <p>The national Democratic Party and many liberals have <strong>bet heavily on the Russia-gate investigation as a way to oust President Trump</strong> from office and to catapult Democrats to victories this year and in 2018, but the gamble appears not to be paying off.</p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_22316" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-22316" height="225" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>A sign at the Women&rsquo;s March on Washington points out that the demonstration attracted a larger crowd than Donald Trump&rsquo;s inauguration. Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Chelsea Gilmour)</em></p> </div> <p>The Democrats&rsquo; disappointing loss in a special election to fill a congressional seat in an affluent Atlanta suburb is just the latest indication that <strong>the strategy of demonizing Trump and blaming Russia for Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s 2016 defeat may not be the golden ticket that some Democrats had hoped</strong>.</p> <p>Though it&rsquo;s still early to draw conclusive lessons from Karen Handel&rsquo;s victory over Jon Ossoff &ndash; despite his raising $25 million &ndash; one lesson may be that a Middle America backlash is forming against the over-the-top quality of the Trump-accusations and the Russia-bashing, with Republicans rallying against the image of Official Washington&rsquo;s &ldquo;deep state&rdquo; collaborating with Democrats and the mainstream news media to reverse a presidential election.</p> <p><strong>Indeed, the Democrats may be digging a deeper hole for themselves in terms of reaching out to white working-class voters</strong> who abandoned the party in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to put Trump over the top in the Electoral College even though Clinton&rsquo;s landslide win in California gave her almost three million more votes nationwide.</p> <p>Clinton&rsquo;s popular-vote plurality and the #Resistance, which manifested itself in massive protests against Trump&rsquo;s presidency, gave hope to the Democrats that they didn&rsquo;t need to undertake a serious self-examination into why the party is in decline across the nation&rsquo;s heartland. Instead, they <strong>decided to stoke the hysteria over alleged Russian &ldquo;meddling&rdquo; in the election as the short-cut to bring down Trump and his populist movement.</strong></p> <h3><u><strong>A Party of Snobs?</strong></u></h3> <p>From conversations that I&rsquo;ve had with some Trump voters in recent weeks, I was struck by how they <strong>viewed the Democratic Party as snobbish, elitist and looking down its nose at &ldquo;average Americans.&rdquo;</strong> And in conversations with some Clinton voters, I found confirmation for that view in the open disdain that the Clinton backers expressed toward the stupidity of anyone who voted for Trump. In other words, the Trump voters were not wrong to feel &ldquo;dissed.&rdquo;</p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_23692" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-23692" height="200" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>Hillary Clinton at the Code 2017 conference on May 31, 2017.</em></p> </div> <p>It seems the Republicans &ndash; and Trump in particular &ndash; have done a better job in presenting themselves to these Middle Americans as respecting their opinions and representing their fears, even though the policies being pushed by Trump and the GOP still favor the rich and will do little good &ndash; and significant harm &ndash; to the middle and working classes.</p> <p>By contrast, <strong>many of Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s domestic proposals might well have benefited average Americans but she alienated many of them by telling a group of her supporters that half of Trump&rsquo;s backers belonged in a &ldquo;basket of deplorables.&rdquo; </strong>Although she later reduced the percentage, she had committed a cardinal political sin: she had put the liberal disdain for millions of Americans into words &ndash; and easily remembered words at that.</p> <p>By insisting that Hillary Clinton be the Democratic nominee &ndash; after leftist populist Bernie Sanders was pushed aside &ndash; the party also ignored the fact that many Americans, including many Democrats, viewed Clinton as the perfectly imperfect candidate for an anti-Establishment year with many Americans still fuming over the Wall Street bailouts and amid the growing sense that the system was rigged for the well-connected and against the average guy or gal.</p> <p>In the face of those sentiments,<strong> the Democrats nominated a candidate who personified how a relatively small number of lucky Americans can play the system and make tons of money while the masses have seen their dreams crushed and their bank accounts drained.</strong> And Clinton apparently still hasn&rsquo;t learned that lesson.</p> <h3><u><strong>Citing Women&rsquo;s Rights</strong></u></h3> <p>Last month, when asked why she accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking to Goldman Sachs, <strong>Clinton <a href="">rationalized her greed</a> as a women&rsquo;s rights issue,</strong> saying: &ldquo;you know, men got paid for the speeches they made. I got paid for the speeches I made.&rdquo;</p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_3257" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-3257" height="225" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>The Wall Street bull statue by Arturo Di Modica</em></p> </div> <p>Her excuse captured much of what has gone wrong with the Democratic Party as it moved from its working-class roots and New Deal traditions to<strong> becoming a party that places &ldquo;identity politics&rdquo; ahead of a duty to fight for the common men and women of America.</strong></p> <p>Demonstrating her political cluelessness, Clinton used the serious issue of women not getting fair treatment in the workplace to justify taking her turn at the Wall Street money trough, gobbling up in one half-hour speech what it would take many American families a decade to earn.</p> <p><strong>While it&rsquo;s a bit unfair to personalize the Democratic Party&rsquo;s problems, Hillary and Bill Clinton have come to represent how the party is viewed by many Americans.</strong> Instead of the FDR Democrats, we have the Davos Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, the Hollywood Democrats, the Silicon Valley Democrats, and now increasingly the Military-Industrial Complex Democrats.</p> <p>To many Americans struggling to make ends meet, the national Democrats seem committed to the interests of the worldwide elites: global trade, financialization of the economy, robotization of the workplace, and endless war against endless enemies.</p> <p>Now, the national Democrats are clambering onto the bandwagon for a costly and dangerous New Cold War with nuclear-armed Russia. Indeed, it is hard to distinguish their foreign policy from that of neoconservatives, although these Democrats view themselves as liberal interventionists citing humanitarian impulses to justify the endless slaughter.</p> <p><strong>Earlier this year, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found only 28 percent of Americans saying that the Democrats were &ldquo;in touch with the concerns of most people&rdquo; &ndash; an astounding result given the Democrats&rsquo; long tradition as the party of the American working class and the party&rsquo;s post-Vietnam War reputation as favoring butter over guns.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 250px;" /></a></p> <p>Yet rather than rethink the recent policies, the<strong> Democrats prefer to fantasize about impeaching President Trump and continuing a blame-game about who &ndash; other than Hillary Clinton, her campaign and the Democratic National Committee &ndash; is responsible for Trump&rsquo;s election</strong>. Of course, it&rsquo;s the Russians, Russians, Russians!</p> <h3><u><strong>A Problem&rsquo;s Deep Roots</strong></u></h3> <p>Without doubt, some of the party&rsquo;s problems have deep roots that correspond to the shrinking of the labor movement since the 1970s and the growing reliance on big-money donors to finance expensive television-ad-driven campaigns. Over the years, the Democrats also got pounded for being &ldquo;weak&rdquo; on national security.</p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_19535" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-19535" height="200" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 1997. (White House photo)</em></p> </div> <p>Further, faced with Republican &ldquo;weaponization&rdquo; of attack ads in the 1980s, many old-time Democrats lost out to the Reagan Revolution, clearing the way for a new breed of Democrats who realized that they could compete for a slice of the big money by cultivating the emerging coastal elites: Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and even elements of the National Security State.</p> <p>By the 1990s, President Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council defined this New Democrat, politicians who reflected the interests of well-heeled coastal elites, especially on free trade; streamlined financial regulations; commitment to technology; and an activist foreign policy built around spreading &ldquo;liberal values&rdquo; across the globe.</p> <p>Mixed in was a commitment to the rights of various identity groups, a worthy goal although this tolerance paradoxically contributed to <strong>a new form of prejudice among some liberals who came to view many white working-class people as fat, stupid and bigoted, society&rsquo;s &ldquo;losers.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>So, <strong>while President Clinton hobnobbed with the modern economy&rsquo;s &ldquo;winners&rdquo; &ndash; with sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom and parties in the Hamptons &ndash; much of Middle America felt neglected if not disdained.</strong> The &ldquo;losers&rdquo; were left to rot in &ldquo;flyover America&rdquo; with towns and cities that had lost their manufacturing base and, with it, their vitality and even their purpose for existing.</p> <h3><u><strong>Republican Fraud</strong></u></h3> <p><strong>It wasn&rsquo;t as if the Republicans were offering anything better.</strong> True, they were more comfortable talking to these &ldquo;forgotten Americans&rdquo; &ndash; advocating &ldquo;gun rights&rdquo; and &ldquo;traditional values&rdquo; and playing on white resentments over racial integration and civil rights &ndash; but, in office, the Republicans aggressively favored the interests of the rich, cutting their taxes and slashing regulations even more than the Democrats.</p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_20522" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-20522" height="200" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>The run-down PIX Theatre sign reads &ldquo;Vote Trump&rdquo; on Main Street in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. July 15, 2016. (Photo by Tony Webster Flickr)</em></p> </div> <p>The Republicans paid lip service to the struggling blue-collar workers but control of GOP policies was left in the hands of corporations and their lobbyists.</p> <p><strong>Though the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president, raised hopes that the nation might finally bind its deep racial wounds, it turned out to have a nearly opposite effect. </strong>Tea Party Republicans rallied many white working-class Americans to resist Obama and the hip urban future that he represented. They found an unlikely champion in real-estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump, who sensed how to tap into their fears and anger with his demagogic appeals and false populism.</p> <p>Meanwhile,<strong> the national Democrats were falling in love with data predicting that demographics would magically turn Republican red states blue. </strong>So the party blithely ignored the warning signs of a cataclysmic break with the Democrats&rsquo; old-time base.</p> <p>Despite all the data on opioid addiction and declining life expectancy among the white working class, Hillary Clinton was politically tone-deaf to the rumbles of discontent echoing across the Rust Belt.<strong> She assumed the traditionally Democratic white working-class precincts would stick with her and she tried to appeal to the &ldquo;security moms&rdquo; </strong>in typically Republican suburbs by touting her neoconservative foreign policy thinking. And she ran a relentlessly negative campaign against Trump while offering voters few positive reasons to vote for her.</p> <h3><u><strong>Ignoring Reality</strong></u></h3> <p>When her stunning loss became clear on Election Night &ndash; as the crude and unqualified Trump pocketed the electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin &ndash; <strong>the Democrats refused to recognize what the elections results were telling them, that they had lost touch with a still important voting bloc, working-class whites.</strong></p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_22801" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-22801" height="166" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>The crowd at President Trump&rsquo;s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from</em></p> </div> <p><strong>Rather than face these facts, the national Democrats &ndash; led by President Obama and his intelligence chiefs &ndash; decided on a different approach, to seek to reverse the election by blaming the result on the Russians.</strong> Obama, his intelligence chiefs and a collaborative mainstream media insisted without presenting any real evidence that the Russians had hacked into Democratic emails and released them to the devastating advantage of Trump, as if the minor controversies from leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton&rsquo;s campaign chairman John Podesta explained Trump&rsquo;s surprising victory.</p> <p>As part of this strategy, <strong>any Trump link to Russia &ndash; no matter how inconsequential, whether from his businesses or through his advisers &ndash; became the focus of Woodward-and-Bernstein/Watergate-style investigations.</strong> The obvious goal was to impeach Trump and ride the wave of Trump-hating enthusiasm to a Democratic political revival.</p> <p>In other words, there was no reason to look in the mirror and rethink how the Democratic Party might begin rebuilding its relationships with the white working-class, just hold hearings featuring Obama&rsquo;s intelligence chieftains and leak damaging Russia-gate stuff to the media.</p> <p>But<strong> the result of this strategy has been to deepen the Democratic Party&rsquo;s reliance on the elites, particularly the self-reverential mavens of the mainstream media and the denizens of the so-called &ldquo;deep state.&rdquo;</strong> From my conversations with <strong>Trump voters, they &ldquo;get&rdquo; what&rsquo;s going on, </strong>how the powers-that-be are trying to negate the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump by reversing a presidential election carried out under the U.S. constitutional process.</p> <h3><u><strong>A Letter from &lsquo;Deplorable&rsquo; Land</strong></u></h3> <p>Some Trump supporters are even making this point publicly. Earlier this month, a &ldquo;proud deplorable&rdquo; named Kenton Woodhead from Brunswick, Ohio, wrote to The New York Times informing the &ldquo;newspaper of record&rdquo; that he and other &ldquo;deplorables&rdquo; were onto the scheme.</p> <div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_20351" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-20351" height="199" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br /> <p class="wp-caption-text"><em>New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)</em></p> </div> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;I wanted to provide you with an unsophisticated synopsis of The New York Times and the media&rsquo;s quest for the implosion of Donald Trump&rsquo;s presidency from out here in the real world, in &lsquo;deplorable&rsquo; country. &hellip;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Every time you and your brethren at other news organizations dream up a new scheme to get Mr. Trump, we out here in deplorable land increase our support for him. &hellip;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Regardless of what you dream up every day, we refuse to be sucked into your narrative. And even more humorously, there isn&rsquo;t anything you can do about it! And I love it that you are having the exact opposite effect on those of us you are trying to persuade to think otherwise.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I mean it is seriously an enjoyable part of my day knowing you are failing. And badly! I haven&rsquo;t had this much fun watching the media stumble, bumble and fumble in years.<strong> I wonder what will happen on the day you wake up and realize how disconnected you&rsquo;ve become.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So, despite Trump&rsquo;s narcissism and incompetence &ndash; and despite how his policies will surely hurt many of his working-class supporters &ndash; the national Democrats are further driving a wedge between themselves and this crucial voting bloc. By whipping up a New Cold War with Russia and hurling McCarthistic slurs at people who won&rsquo;t join in the Russia-bashing, the Democratic Party&rsquo;s tactics also are alienating many peace voters who view both the Republicans and Democrats as warmongers of almost equal measures of guilt.</p> <p><strong><em>While it&rsquo;s certainly not my job to give advice to the Democrats &ndash; or any other political group &ndash; I can&rsquo;t help but thinking that this Russia-gate &ldquo;scandal&rdquo; is not only lacking in logic and evidence, but it doesn&rsquo;t even make any long-term political sense.</em></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="262" height="159" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> ABC News Alt-right Barack Obama Basket of deplorables Bernie Sanders Climate change skepticism and denial Crude Davos Democratic Leadership Council Democratic National Committee Democratic Party Democrats Demographics Donald Trump Donald Trump Donald Trump presidential campaign Electoral College goldman sachs Goldman Sachs Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton presidential campaign Main Street Michigan national security New York City New York Times Newspaper Ohio Party of Snobs Politics Politics Politics of the United States President Obama Reality Republican Party Rodham family Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections United States White House White House Sat, 24 Jun 2017 02:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598573 at "They Can And Should Do More" Australian State Slams Banks With $280 Million Tax <p>Australian bankers are furious after the country&rsquo;s smallest state levied <strong>a &ldquo;surprise&rdquo; tax on the country&rsquo;s five biggest banks that could siphon off $280 million in profits during its first four years on the books, </strong><a href="">according to Reuters.&nbsp; </a>The tax was imposed by South Australia, which is struggling with the country&rsquo;s highest unemployment rate and thanks the banks should be doing more to pitch in.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 361px;" /></a></p> <p>The decision, which provoked <strong>&ldquo;howls of outrage from the sector,&rdquo;</strong> represents an added financial burden on the largest banks <strong>beyond a $4.2 billion federal tax that was imposed last year - not to mention the country&#39;s record-low interest rates.&nbsp;</strong> The banks, struggling with low public favorability after a series of scandals and unified support in the country&rsquo;s legislature, accepted that tax with minimal pushback. <strong>However, some are already threatening to pull investment as a form of retaliation.</strong></p> <p>The head of the Australian Bankers Association Anna Bligh called the tax <strong>&quot;an outrageous cash grab without policy substance&quot;.</strong> Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said the move could provoke a backlash from banks as they could decide to curtail investment in the state.</p> <p>South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the five banks, which together collect about $30 billion in profit annually,<strong> can and should do more to help boost employment and contribute more to the state&#39;s economy. The tax revenues will be used to fund job-training programs, Koutsantonis said.</strong></p> <p>Australia&rsquo;s bankers fumed, saying they already do enough to prop up the country&rsquo;s economy.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;All businesses will rightly question the political risk associated with investing in a State with a Government prepared to unfairly target an industry that has played a significant role in supporting its lagging economy,&quot;</strong> ANZ Chief Executive Shayne Elliott said in a statement.</p> </blockquote> <p>The decision provoked speculation about whether the country&rsquo;s other four states would impose similar taxes, with at least one analyst suggesting that at least a few states will.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;I would say it is definitely on the cards for other states,&quot;</strong> said Morningstar analyst David Ellis said. &quot;For any cash-strapped state it looks like it is just an easy option.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>However, he said it was unlikely that the country&#39;s largest state, New South Wales, would impose a similar tax because it had a strong budget surplus and would want to maintain Sydney&#39;s reputation as an Asia-Pacific financial services hub.</p> <p><strong>The tax will be equivalent to 6 basis points on 6 percent of the assets being taxed by the federal government. </strong>Koutsantonis reasons this is fair because South Australia&rsquo;s economy a<strong>ccounts for only 6% of national GDP.</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="606" height="437" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Asia-Pacific Australia Australian Bankers Association Bank Banking Business Economy federal government Federal Tax International taxation Money Morningstar New Zealand Politics Reuters South Australia south Wales Tax Tom Koutsantonis Unemployment World economy Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598507 at Exposing Our Lawless Central Bank <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,</em></a></p> <div class="body-content"> <p><strong>The economic arguments against central banks are numerous to say the least.</strong> Through the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard we have a wide variety of critiques that explain the many ways the central banks distort economies, cause booms and busts, punish savers, and chose winners and losers through monetary policy.&nbsp;</p> <p>But, even if confronted with these arguments, and one remains supportive of central banks, <strong>other<em>&nbsp;non-economic</em>&nbsp;arguments must still be addressed.</strong></p> <p>For example,<strong><em> it is becoming increasing important &mdash; in our current age of &quot;non-traditional&quot; monetary policy &mdash; to take note of the fact that central banks, and especially the Federal Reserve, are essentially unrestrained by law.&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>Economists themselves often defend this total unmooring from legal or political accountability, saying it is necessary for the Fed to have &quot;independence&quot; from elected officials.&nbsp;</p> <p>In reality, however,<strong> this &quot;independence&quot; is best described as &quot;total lack of accountability.&quot;&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Writing in today&#39;s <em>Dallas Morning News</em>, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter <a href="" target="_blank">writes</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>A phenomenal amount of time and money is spent trying to anticipate what the Fed will do and, afterwards, what the ramifications will be.&nbsp;The reason it takes so many experts to weigh in on Fed behavior is because the Fed&#39;s actions are fundamentally&nbsp;<em>unpredictable</em>.&nbsp;This is a huge defect in an organization of such public importance&nbsp;in a nation whose founding principles include the sanctity of the rule of law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Rule of law&quot; does not merely mean &quot;according to some official procedure.&quot; In order to be truly lawful, the behaviors of government entities must adhere to a more general framework of rules, so that these behaviors are not arbitrary.&nbsp;The more general rules must be more or less fixed, known in advance, and &mdash;&nbsp;most importantly &mdash;&nbsp;not subject to reinterpretation by those whose hands the rule is supposed to bind.&nbsp;This concept of the rule of law is central to&nbsp;classically&nbsp;liberal constitutionalism and jurisprudence, which underlies the American experiment in ordered liberty.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The behavior of the Fed fails to meet any of these criteria.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fed activities are more or less unpredictable on any given day, as indicated by the need for various financial houses to devote significant resources to Fed-watching.&nbsp;Congress has almost entirely abdicated its responsibility in holding the Fed accountable, so Fed&#39;s actions are not in conformity with any general rule other than what the Fed Board of Governors thinks is expedient.&nbsp;This means the Fed is a judge in its own cause and a law unto itself.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In recent years, some observers &mdash; <a href="">Robert Higgs, for instance</a> &mdash; have focused on &quot;regime uncertainty&quot; which is a problem arising from &quot;a pervasive lack of confidence among investors in their ability to foresee the extent to which future government actions will alter their private-property rights.&quot;</p> <p>Much of the focus in this research has been on the presidency and the Congress and the courts while ignoring the central role of the Fed itself in promoting this uncertainty.&nbsp;</p> <p>As Salter notes,<strong> the Fed is now unpredictable, and it&#39;s anyone&#39;s guess what policy change might be coming down the road at any given time.</strong> Needless to say, this isn&#39;t great for economic growth for all the reasons laid out in the regime-uncertainty research.&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, <strong>the Fed has always essentially been unaccountable to any outside institutions. </strong>Nevertheless, both political ideology and prevailing views among many economists helped to restrain Fed action over the past century. Since World War II, another important factor has been the fact that the US economy has often been relatively strong, and there rarely appeared to be ample justification for the sorts of radical monetary policy now routinely being discussed among Fed policymakers.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a perfect example of how radical monetary thought has become&nbsp;might be the discussion surrounding Marvin Goodfriend, who was recently revealed to be a leading candidate for appointment by Donald Trump to the Fed&#39;s board of governors. <a href="" target="_blank">According to the <em>Financial Times</em></a>, <strong>Goodfriend possesses &quot;a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">radical willingness to embrace deeply negative rates</a>.&quot;</strong></p> <p>As a member of the Fed&#39;s board, <strong>would Goodfriend push for negative rates under the &quot;right&quot; conditions?&nbsp;Who knows?&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>But if he was successful in winning over a majority of voting members to such a position what could anyone do about it? <strong><em>More importantly, what documents, guidelines, or statutes&nbsp;would indicate for us ahead of time what the &quot;right&quot; conditions would be for implementing negative rates?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>There are none. Whether or not the &quot;time is right&quot; for negative rates is completely up to the whims of Board members.&nbsp;</p> <p><u><strong>This situation is, as Salter points out, the complete opposite of &quot;the Rule of Law&quot; and has no place in a legal or political regime that claims to respect such a concept.&nbsp;</strong></u></p> <p>Moreover, the situation that now prevails at the Fed is exactly the sort of thing F.A. Hayek warned about in <em>The Road to Serfdom </em>when Hayek outlines the incompatibility between the rule of law and an economy controlled by government planners.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hayek writes:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>...stripped of all its technicalities, [the rule of law] means that government in all its actions is bound by rules&nbsp;fixed and announced beforehand &mdash; rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one&#39;s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Serious problems begin to arise, Hayek continues, when &quot;<em>ad hoc </em>actions&quot; on the part of government planners prevent market actors from planning for their own economic futures.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, &quot;<em>ad hoc</em>&quot; would appear to be one of the most apt phrases for describing how the Fed functions in today&#39;s world.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Fed&#39;s defenders will tell us that this unrestrained capriciousness must be tolerated or else the Fed will no longer have its precious &quot;independence.&quot;&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><u><strong>Of course, applying this logic to any other political institution &mdash; and the Fed most certainly is a political institution &mdash; would be immediately denounced as absurdly authoritarian.&nbsp;</strong></u></p> <p>And rightly so.</p> <p>But the Fed&#39;s lack of accountability continues to be sacrosanct among many in power &mdash; and it continues in spite of a decade of lackluster economic performance under the Fed&#39;s &quot;leadership. Salter is forced to conclude:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>But when money is governed by the arbitrary rule of central bankers, things become much more uncertain.</strong> Trade slows. The economy stagnates, jobs are hard to come by, and the gains from trade mostly accrue to politically connected financial elites.<strong> The Fed bears no small responsibility for the past 10 years of anemic economic performance.</strong></p> </blockquote> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="232" height="148" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Central bank Central Banks Congress Donald Trump Economy Fed Board of Governors Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System Financial services fixed Friedrich Hayek Ludwig von Mises Mises Institute Mises Institute Monetary Policy Monetary policy Murray Rothbard None Politics Reality US Federal Reserve Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598570 at New York's "Billionaires Row" Suffers Biggest Foreclosure In History <p>In the latest sign that NYC&rsquo;s ultra-high end property market is on the verge of imploding after a wave of overly aggressive development, another luxury condo at Manhattan&rsquo;s One57 tower, <strong>a member of &ldquo;Billionaire&rsquo;s Row,&rdquo; a group of high-end towers clustered along the southern edge of Central Park, has gone into foreclosure - the second in the span of a month.</strong></p> <p>The 6,240-square-foot (580-square-meter) full-floor penthouse in question, One57&rsquo;s Apartment 79, sold for $50.9 million in December 2014, making it the eighth-priciest in the building.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><u><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s probably the most-expensive foreclosure we&rsquo;ve ever seen in luxury development,&rdquo;</strong></u> said Donna Olshan, president of high-end Manhattan brokerage Olshan Realty Inc. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know of a foreclosure that&rsquo;s larger than that.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="">According to Bloomberg,</a> the shell company that purchased the property took out an unusually large mortgage and promised to repay in full a year later.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In September 2015,<strong> the company took out a $35.3 million mortgage from lender Banque Havilland SA, based in Luxembourg. The full payment of the loan was due one year later, </strong>according to court documents filed in connection with the foreclosure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The<strong> borrower failed to repay,</strong> and now Banque Havilland is <strong>forcing a sale to recoup the funds</strong>, plus interest.</p> </blockquote> <p>And, in what&rsquo;s become a strong contender for the <em>&ldquo;no sh*t&rdquo; quote of the day</em>, a spokeswoman for Extell Developments, the developer that built One57, said there&#39; s a lesson to be learned from this unfortunate situation.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;This shows that too much leverage is probably not wise,&rdquo;</strong> Anna LaPorte, an Extell spokeswoman, said of the most recent default.</p> </blockquote> <p>A June 14 auction was scheduled for a 56th-floor apartment at the same tower. <strong>That condo was purchased in July 2015 for $21.4 million.</strong> Public records have yet to reveal any transfer of ownership for that property.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 369px;" /></a></p> <p>Investors across the NYC property spectrum should take note; prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have risen so quickly they&rsquo;ve effectively pushed marginal buyers out of the market and forced renters to devote a greater share of their income to housing. <strong>Today, <a href="">more than 30% of Americans pay half their income in rent - the highest percentage in decades. </a></strong></p> <p><a href=""><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 326px;" /></strong></a></p> <p>And with more investors in the city concentrating on luxury properties, <strong>some ultra-luxury buildings like One57 are struggling with unsustainable <a href="">vacancy rates of nearly 40%.</a></strong></p> <p>Until last month, no apartments on Billionaires&rsquo; Row, which also includes 432 Park Ave., had been subject to a foreclosure auction, according to PropertyShark. <strong>The loss of a Manhattan residential property to creditors is a rare event, regardless of the unit&#39;s price-tag: Only 27 new residential foreclosures in the borough in the first quarter</strong>.</p> <p><strong>Could this be the start of a trend? We think so. Which leads us to our next question: How, exactly, does one short the luxury real-estate market?</strong></p> <p>We also look forward to The Left deciding that a probe into this transaction is warranted, just in case it was some complex way to transfer Russian funds to Trump... (only half-kidding).</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="473" height="265" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Business Creditors default Finance Foreclosure Foreclosures Midtown Manhattan Money Mortgage Mortgage loan One57 PropertyShark Real estate The Left United States housing bubble Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598572 at UN Report Reveals Nations Producing Most Refugees Were Targets Of US Intervention <p><a href="">Authored by Whitney Webb via,</a></p> <p><strong><em>A UN report has shown that more than 65 million people were forced to leave their home countries last year, becoming refugees due to deadly conflict. The top nations from which refugees fled have one thing in common, they were all targets of US intervention.</em></strong></p> <p>A United Nations<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> report</a> has shed light on the world&rsquo;s burgeoning crisis of displaced peoples, finding that a record 65.6 million were forced to vacate their homes in 2016 alone. More than half of them were minors.</p> <p>The<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees</a> (UNHCR), which drafted the report, put the figure into perspective, stating that increasing conflict and persecution worldwide have led to <strong><em>&ldquo;one person being displaced every three seconds &ndash; less than the time it takes to read this sentence.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi called the figure<strong> &ldquo;unacceptable&rdquo; and called for &ldquo;solidarity and a common purpose in preventing and resolving the crisis.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>However, <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>what the UN report failed to mention was the role of U.S. foreign intervention, indirect or direct, in fomenting the conflicts responsible for producing most of the world&rsquo;s refugees.</strong></span></p> <p>According to the report, three of the nations producing the highest number of refugees are Syria (12 million refugees created in 2016), Afghanistan (4.7 million) and Iraq (4.2 million).</p> <p><em>Watch the&nbsp;UNHCR&rsquo;s New Global Trends Report:</em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are known to be<a href=""> the direct result of U.S. military invasions</a> in the early 2000s, as well as the U.S.&rsquo; ongoing occupation of those nations.</strong> Decades after invading both countries, the U.S.&rsquo; destabilizing military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan<a href=""> has continued to increase</a> in recent years, with the Trump administration most recently announcing<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> plans to send thousands</a> of soldiers to Afghanistan in the coming months. It is worth noting that each U.S. soldier in Afghanistan<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> costs U.S. taxpayers $2.1 million.</a></p> <p><strong>While the U.S. has yet to directly invade Syria, <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">the U.S. role in the conflict is clear</a> and Syria&rsquo;s destabilization and the overthrow of its current regime <a href="">have long been planned</a> by the U.S. government.</strong> The U.S. and its allies, particularly <a href="">Israel</a> and <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Saudi Arabia</a>, have consistently funded &ldquo;rebel&rdquo; groups that have not only perpetuated the Syrian conflict for six long years, but have also <a href="">committed atrocity after atrocity</a> targeting civilians in Syrian cities, towns, and communities &ndash; <a href="">a major factor</a> in convincing Syrians to leave their homes.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people.<a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) <a href="">January 26, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The report ranks Colombia as the world&rsquo;s second-largest producer of refugees, with 7.7 million Colombians displaced in 2016. Like Syria, the U.S. has not directly invaded Colombia, but is<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> known to have extensively funded paramilitary groups</a>, also known as &ldquo;death squads,&rdquo; in the country since the 1980s, when then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan declared a &ldquo;war on drugs&rdquo; in Colombia.</p> <p>U.S. efforts <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">have long helped fuel</a> the civil war between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and pro-government, U.S.-funded paramilitary groups. This conflict has lasted for more than half a century.</p> <p><strong>In 2000, then-President Bill Clinton&rsquo;s administration funded<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> the disastrous &ldquo;Plan Colombia&rdquo;</a> with $4 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds, ostensibly to fight drug trafficking and insurgents.</strong> Almost all of this <strong>money was used to fund the Colombian military and its weapon purchases</strong>. &ldquo;Plan Colombia&rdquo; ultimately intensified armed violence, military deployments, human rights abuses by the Colombian military, and &ndash; of course &ndash; the internal displacement of Colombians. The legacy of U.S. policy in Colombia and its continuing support of the nation&rsquo;s right-wing, neo-liberal regime have ensured that the chaos continues into the present.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Clinton ran on Plan Colombia and its sponsoring right wing death squads. <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Tailfoot McWalshy (@BuglegsMcWalshy) <a href="">March 10, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>In addition to the above, U.S foreign policy is also to blame for the conflict in South Sudan, </strong>where the UN report found was home to the fastest-growing displacement of people in the world. In 2011, the U.S. pushed South Sudan to secede from Sudan, as South Sudan holds the vast majority of Sudan&rsquo;s oil reserves &mdash; the largest oil reserves in all of Africa. The U.S.&rsquo; push for the creation of an independent South Sudan<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> dislodged Chinese claims</a> to Sudanese oil, as the Chinese had previously signed oil contracts with the (now Northern) Sudanese government.</p> <p>But when nation-building efforts went awry and civil war broke out just two years later,<a href=""> some analysts suggested</a> that the conflict only started when South Sudan&rsquo;s president began to cozy up to China. According to the UN report, approximately 3.3 million people in South Sudan have fled their homes since the war began.</p> <p><em><strong>Grandi has called on the world&rsquo;s nations to help prevent and resolve the global refugee crisis. But he would also do well to point out the common cause uniting many of the world&rsquo;s worst conflicts &ndash; the U.S. military-industrial complex&rsquo;s insatiable lust for conquest, power and profit.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="657" height="349" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan Aftermath of war China Colombian military Demography Forced migration Geography of Africa Human geography Internally displaced person Iraq Israel Least developed countries Member states of the United Nations Politics Refugee Refugee crisis Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Right of asylum Saudi Arabia Social Issues South Sudan South Sudan Sudanese government then-President Bill Clinton’s administration Trump Administration United Nations United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees US government US military War Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:35:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598535 at The Real Healthcare Crisis: Retiring Seniors Need $500k To Cover Premiums Even With Obamacare <p>As Congress spends the next week and a half, if everything goes well, wrestling over how they can screw up healthcare in America even more, perhaps they should take notice of a new study from HealthView Services which highlights the fact that the real source of the healthcare crisis in this country is rising costs.</p> <p>As <a href="">Bloomberg</a> notes, healthcare cost inflation is expected eclipse overall inflation and Social Security COLAs over the next decade.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>U.S. retiree health-care costs are likely to increase at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent over the next decade. </strong>That's nearly triple the 1.9 percent average annual inflation rate in the U.S. from 2012 to 2016 and more than double the projected cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on Social Security benefits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The premiums on supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, that many people buy to cover costs that Medicare doesn't, such as co-payments; on Medicare Part B, which covers payments for doctors, tests, and other medical services; and on Part D, prescription drug coverage. Here's how your Social Security benefits are likely to stack up against some of those costs.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=" - Healthcare 1.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 331px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Shockingly, the reality is that <strong>a couple retiring today can expect to pay nearly a half million dollars in just insurance premiums over the course of the remainder of their lives.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>For a healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year with a future adjusted gross annual income of less than $170,000 after adding in any tax-exempt income, <strong>projected lifetime health-care premiums add up to $321,994 in today's dollars.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Take a moment to appreciate that figure. It includes premium payments for Medicare Parts B and D, supplemental insurance premiums, and dental premiums. (The supplemental premium figure used is a national average, and premiums can vary greatly from state to state.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadly, and shockingly, that doesn't reflect the full range of likely expenses. <strong>Add in deductibles, co-pays, and costs for hearing, vision, and dental care, and the total rises to $404,253 in today's dollars.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And, given the shocking inflation of healthcare costs in this country, the <strong>situation only looks worse for younger people.</strong></p> <p><a href=" - Healthcare 3.JPG"><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 164px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course, <strong>excessively rising costs</strong>, for our legislators who may not be so good with the math, is <strong>usually the result of demand outstripping supply and/or perverse regulations that serve to distort free market forces.</strong>&nbsp; In the case of Obamacare, we have both.&nbsp; </p> <p>As an example, before Obamacare many healthy young people, who we'll refer to collectively as John Doe, chose not to even carry health insurance because it was a truly wasteful expense for them.&nbsp; As it turns out, millennials can actually do some basic math and figured out that they didn't need to spend $5,000 a year for an insurance plan when the odds are that they'll get a cold one time, pay $150 to visit a doctor and $40 to buy some antibiotics.</p> <p>But then Obamacare came along and forced John Doe to, not only purchase insurance, but to purchase a 'souped up,' expensive plan with all sorts of bells and whistles.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Now, Democrats knew that that 'souped up' healthcare plan was really just a thinly veiled tax on John Doe...he wasn't supposed to actually use it.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>But John Doe, didn't see it that way.&nbsp; From his perspective, if he's paying for a service, he might as well use it...and hence the demand issue.</p> <p>Moreover,<strong> that simple example says nothing about the adverse selection bias created by Obama's subsidies and exchanges</strong> where people with absolutely no "skin in the game" can get 'free healthcare,' courtesy of the millionaire, billionaire, private jet owners in the country, and consume as much healthcare as they want basically free of charge.&nbsp; </p> <p>To make a long story longer, the net effect of Obamacare was that it added a ton of demand to an already undersupplied healthcare market which is why healthcare premiums are soaring.&nbsp; <strong>Perhaps, just maybe, basic economic principles actually work and more 'skin in the game,' rather than less, and more people making their own decisions, rather than less, are actually good things?</strong>&nbsp; Just a hunch but we hear that a lot of work has been done on the topic.</p> <p>Of course, we highly doubt that any of this will stop our politicians from turning the healthcare debate into a fued between young and old and the rich and poor...afterall sowing division is how elections are won...and lost.</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="380" height="212" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> B+ Congress Economy Federal assistance in the United States Health Health Health economics Health insurance Healthcare reform in the United States Labor Medicare Medicare Medicare Medigap Obamacare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson Private Jet Publicly funded health care Reality Social Issues United States National Health Care Act Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598559 at Saudi Hypocrisy: The Great Gas War Is Looming <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Golem XIV,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Astonishing hypocrisy!</strong> Saudi and its affiliates demand end to support of terrorism while they themselves are some of its largest funders.</p> <p>Their list of demands, <a href="">as reported in the Guardian</a>, <strong>should be translated as:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>1) Curb ties with Iran = <strong>No talking to Shia Muslims.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2) Sever all ties to terror organisations = Declare Muslim Brotherhood terrorists who we find threatening internally and <strong>only Saudi should decide which terror organisations get funded. Not you</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3) Shut down al-Jazeera = <strong>We don&rsquo;t allow press freedom you can&rsquo;t have it either.</strong> Especially one that criticises us. Shut down what is, for all its significant faults, one of the best media outlets in the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4) Shut down all other media Qatar funds = <strong>Only Saudi propaganda allowed.</strong> al-Jazeera was far too willing to report government repression during the Arab Spring. So close down all non Saudi controlled media.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5) Close down Turkish military bases in Qatar = <strong>Qatar isn&rsquo;t allowed its own diplomatic sovereignty.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>6) Stop funding anyone Saudi calls a terrorist = Stop funding anyone who opposes Saudi or other undemocratic regimes in the ME. <strong>No democratic dissent allowed.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>7) Handover terrorist figure = <strong>Hand over to us all dissidents we want to imprison or behead.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>8) Stop interfering in other countries affairs = Hand over people we don&rsquo;t like that have taken refuge in Qatar. <strong>We do the interfering (see this list of demands) not you.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>9 -12) <strong>Make yourself a vassal state of Saudi,</strong> pay us money, let us control your treasury and foreign policy and agree to all this NOW. Or else, Saudi, its minions, the US and Israel will try to paint you as part of a new axis of evil.</p> </blockquote> <p><em><strong>Oh and by the way oil rules! Not the gas you and Iran want to sell!</strong></em></p> <p>The Great Gas War is gathering towards a major escalation.</p> <p><img alt="Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done. " class="wp-image-209344" height="353" src="" width="501" /></p> <p>The Northern Front in Ukraine has gone quiet. Or at least unreported. <strong>But its Southern Front from Syria to Yemen, Turkey&nbsp;to Iran is hotting up.</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="502" height="301" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Al Jazeera Arabian Peninsula Asia Geography of Asia Iran Israel Member states of OPEC Member states of the Arab League Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member states of the United Nations Middle East Muslim Brotherhood Muslim Brotherhood Politics Qatar Saudi Arabia Turkey Ukraine Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598569 at Brexit One Year On: Political Chaos, Pounded Currency, & Pressured Consumers <p><strong>It is exactly one year since the UK held the historic referendum vote on EU membership.</strong> As Deutsche Bank&#39;s Jim Reid notes, <strong>whether you think that has passed quickly or not probably depends on if you&rsquo;re a Sterling FX trader, in which case it&rsquo;s more than likely been a long year.</strong> With today being the anniversary we thought we would see how assets have performed over the past year since the vote...</p> <p><strong>First and foremost the standout is the currency has been pounded </strong>with a huge decline for Sterling versus both the Dollar (-15%) and Euro (-13%). That massive move in the currency has <strong>helped to prop up local currency returns however</strong> and we&rsquo;ve seen the FTSE 100 surge an impressive +22% (clearly boosted by big UK exporters) while GBP credit has returned between +8% and +15% and Gilts have returned +7%.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="315" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Under the covers of the index - there are <strong>big winners and big losers (in local currency terms)</strong> also...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 568px;" /></a></p> <p>However it is <strong>the USD hedged returns which are of most interest </strong>and this is where we have <u><strong>seen UK assets really underperform.</strong></u></p> <p><a href=""><img height="317" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Gilts have returned -9%, GBP credit -2% to -8% and the FTSE 100 a more benign +4%.<strong> Indeed the FTSE 100 has underperformed all other equity markets in our sample in USD terms.</strong> The Athex (+32%), Hang Seng (+26%), IBEX (+23%), DAX (+22%), European Banks (+21%) and Nikkei (+20%) are all up over 20% while the S&amp;P 500 is also up an impressive +18%. Credit returns outside of GBP credit are more muted but still flat to +11% generally.</p> <p><strong>Where we have seen some weakness however is in rates. </strong>While bond markets initially rallied in the first week or two post the vote yields have for the most part edged higher ever since. Gilts still standout for their underperformance but Bunds (-3%), BTPs (-3%), Treasuries (0%) and Spanish Bonds (0%) haven&rsquo;t rewarded investors as one might expect given the huge uncertainty that the result created. Indeed the same can also be said for Gold (-1%). <strong><em>If you exclude currencies, then 33 out of 43 assets in our sample have a positive total return in local currency terms and 26 out of 43 assets in USD terms have a positive total return.</em></strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 290px;" /></a></p> <p>So, as Deutsche&#39;s Reid notes, <strong>it&#39;s been an impressive rally for risk despite an outcome which has seen political Europe enter unknown territory.</strong> On that any hopes that the UK political situation would be resolved or at least stabilise essentially came to an end following the snap election earlier this month.</p> <p><strong>Since the referendum result <a href="">we have seen Political Chaos</a>:</strong></p> <ul> <li>A year of leadership contests within the two main political parties in Britain;</li> <li>Court cases trying to prevent Brexit from happening;</li> <li>Embarrassing leaks demonstrating Prime Minister Theresa May&#39;s weak ability to negotiate with the EU.</li> <li>Volatile markets, the decimation of the pound, and preparations for job relocations;</li> <li>A disastrous general election that has put Britain in line for a Brexit deal that looks very similar to what we have now;</li> <li>A&nbsp; government in disarray;</li> <li>And finally the possibility that Brexit could be reversed ...</li> </ul> <p>The possibility of another election in the future hasn&rsquo;t necessarily gone away either while the Conservatives and DUP parties are still to come to an agreement. What that means for Brexit talks is also still a bit of an unknown which is why there is a fair bit of focus on the two-day EU summit which kicked off yesterday. This is the first summit since the election for Theresa May and also coincides with Brexit negotiations having kicked off on Monday. Yesterday May proposed a &ldquo;fair and serious&rdquo; offer to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, telling leaders of the EU that no EU citizens living in Britain lawfully at the time in which Britain leaves the EU would be asked to leave.</p> <p>And finally, the <strong>consumer has been pressured</strong> by soaring prices as inflation bites...</p> <p><em>&quot;The main financial effect of Brexit has been felt in the pound, though weaker sterling has <strong>pushed up inflation</strong> and also boosted the stock market. Holidaymakers have probably been the most obvious losers from Brexit so far, <strong>though inflation is also gradually ratcheting up the pressure on consumers more broadly,</strong>&quot; </em>said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="315" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>Finally, Khalaf sums up the year...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&quot;The performance of capital markets over the last year tells us that the financial effects of Brexit are about as predictable as the British weather.&quot;</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="959" height="503" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Aftermath of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum Bond Brexit Capital Markets Conservative Party Currency Deutsche Bank Economic effects of Brexit Equity Markets Euro European Union Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom FTSE 100 Gilt-edged securities Gilts Jim Reid Nikkei Pound sterling S&P 500 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:20:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598552 at