en Trump Attorney Quashes Rumors Of Impending Mueller Firing <p>An Attorney for President Trump has vehemently denied rumors that special counsel Robert Mueller will be fired over revelations of politically motivated malfeasance by the FBI towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump, including disturbing text messages which were sent between top FBI investigators implying the Trump-Russia investigation may have been launched as an "<strong><a href="" target="_blank">insurance</a></strong>" policy in the event Trump won the 2016 election. Furthermore, GOP lawmakers have asserted that FBI top brass relied on a salacious and unverified "dossier" to launch the Trump-Russia investigation. Also noted by critics is the fact that Robert Mueller's "<a href="" target="_blank">right hand man</a>," Aaron Zebley represented Clinton IT staffer Justin Cooper - a Bill Clinton aide who "<a href="" target="_blank">jerry-rigged</a>" Hillary Clinton's "private, illegal" server in her Chappaqua home.&nbsp;</p> <p><em><a href=""><img src="" width="550" height="417" /></a><br />Peter Strzok, Robert Mueller, Ty Cobb</em></p> <p>Despite all of that, Trump attorney Ty Cobb told <em>Politico</em>, "<strong>As the White House has repeatedly and emphatically said for months, there is no consideration at the White House of terminating the special counsel</strong>.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in the day we reported that Trump transition team attorney Kory Langhofer sent a <a href="" target="_blank">seven-page complaint</a> to House and Senate oversight committees investigating the 2016 election to lodge a complaint that the special counsel improperly obtained "<strong>many tens of thousands</strong>" of emails from the Trump transition team from the General Services Administration - the government agency responsible for setting up and administering the transition email system which uses a "" address. Kanghofer says these emails were obtained through <strong>"unlawful conduct</strong>,<strong>" </strong>and that the Trump team had been segregating emails with "Executive Privilege" in anticipation of giving the rest to Mueller's team.&nbsp;</p> <p>On Friday, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was a <strong>rumor floating around DC that President Trump will fire Mueller before Christmas, but after congress leaves for winter recess</strong>.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller," Speier told California's KQED News.</p> </blockquote> <p>"We can read between the lines I think," Speier told KQED, adding "I believe this president wants all of this shut down. <strong>He wants to shut down these investigations, and he wants to fire special counsel Mueller</strong>."</p> <p>Speier joined Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) over concerns that the House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation would be shut down by the end of the year.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="550" height="342" /></a></p> <p><em>Reps Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA)</em></p> <p>Schiff shot off a series of nine tweets explaining why he's "<strong>increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation</strong>," pointing to the fact that "<strong>Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on."&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Read the rest by clicking on Schiff's tweet and scrolling down.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation at the end of the month. </p> <p>Here’s why:</p> <p>— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) <a href="">December 15, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src=""></script><p>White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied rumors that President Trump was considering firing Mueller in October, stating "There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel," adding "<strong>I think we should let the process play through before we start looking at that.</strong>"</p> <p>Perhaps GOP lawmakers would be more comfortable with Mueller's special counsel if Attorney General Jeff Sessions would appoint a second special counsel to investigate the FBI? Alas, it looks like that may be nothing more than <a href="" target="_blank">wishful thinking</a> for the time being.&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="534" height="286" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Adam Schiff Dismissal of James Comey Donald Trump Donald Trump FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation General Services Administration Hillary Clinton House Intelligence Committee James Comey None Politics Republican Party Robert Mueller Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Senate Special Counsel investigation Trump campaign–Russian meetings United States White House White House Sun, 17 Dec 2017 04:28:46 +0000 Tyler Durden 609300 at Debunking The Myths About An Attack On North Korea <p><em><a href="">Submitted by The Saker,</a></em></p> <p><strong>First, the bragging dummies</strong></p> <p>Trump and Haley are still at it.&nbsp; They want to force China to take action against the DPRK by threatening to take North Korea &ldquo;into their hands&rdquo; if China refuses to comply.&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="">Haley said</a>, &ldquo;But to be clear, China can do more, (&hellip;) and we&rsquo;re putting as much pressure on them as we can. The last time they completely cut off the oil, North Korea came to the table. And so we&rsquo;ve told China they&rsquo;ve got to do more. If they don&rsquo;t do more, we&rsquo;re going to take it into our own hands and then we&rsquo;ll start to deal with secondary sanctions.&rdquo;</p> <p>First, let&rsquo;s reset this scene in a kindergarten and replay it.</p> <p>Kid A has a fight with Kid B.&nbsp; Kid A threatens to beat up Kid B.&nbsp; Kid B then tells Kid A to go screw himself.&nbsp; Kid A does nothing, but issues more threats.&nbsp; Kid B keeps laughing.&nbsp; And then Kid A comes up with a brilliant plan: he threatens Kid C (who is much much bigger than Kid B and much much stronger too!) by telling him &quot;<em>if you don&rsquo;t make Kid B comply with my demands, I will take the issue in my own hands!&quot;</em>.&nbsp; The entire schoolyard erupts in hysterical laughter.</p> <p>Question: how would you the gauge the intelligence of Kid A? Anyway...</p> <p>This would all be really funny if this was a comedy show.&nbsp; <strong>But what this all is in reality is a slow but steady progression towards war.</strong>&nbsp; What makes this even worse is the media&rsquo;s obsession with the range of North Korean missiles and whether they can reach Guam or even the USA.&nbsp; With all due respect for the imperial &ldquo;only we matter&rdquo; (and nevermind the &quot;gooks&quot;), there are ways &ldquo;we&rdquo;, i.e. the American people can suffer terrible consequences from a war in the Korean Peninsula which have nothing to do with missile strikes on Guam or the USA.</p> <p><em><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 231px;" /><br />Image via The Saker</em></p> <p><strong>The lucrative target: Japan</strong></p> <p>This summer I mentioned one of the most overlooked potential consequences of a war with the DPRK and I want to revisit this issue again.&nbsp; First, the relevant excerpt from&nbsp;<a href="">the past article</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>While I personally believe that Kim Jong-un is not insane and that the main objective of the North Korean leadership is to avoid a war at all costs, what if I am wrong?&nbsp; What if those who say that the North Korean leaders are totally insane are right? Or, which I think is much more likely, what if Kim Jong-un and the North Korean leaders came to the conclusion that they have nothing to lose, that the Americans are going to kill them all, along with their families and friends?&nbsp; What could they, in theory, do if truly desperate?&nbsp; Well, let me tell you:&nbsp;<strong>forget about Guam; think Tokyo!</strong>&nbsp; Indeed, while the DPRK could devastate Seoul with old fashioned artillery systems, DPRK missiles are probably capable of striking Tokyo or the&nbsp;<a href="">Keihanshin region</a>&nbsp;encompassing&nbsp;Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe including the key industries of the&nbsp;<a href="">Hanshin Industrial Region</a>.&nbsp; The Greater Tokyo area (Kanto region) and the Keihanshin region are very densely populated (37 and 20 million people respectively) and contain an immense number of industries, many of which would produce an ecological disaster of immense proportions if hit by missiles.&nbsp; Not only that, but a strike on the key economic and financial nodes of Japan would probably result in a 9-11 kind of international economic collapse.&nbsp; So if the North Koreans wanted to really, really hurt the Americans what they could do is strike Seoul, and key cities in Japan resulting in a huge political crisis for the entire planet.&nbsp; During the Cold War we used to study the consequences of a Soviet strike against Japan and the conclusion was always the same: Japan cannot afford a war of any kind.&nbsp; The Japanese landmass is too small, too densely populated, to rich in lucrative targets and a war would lay waste to the entire country. This is still true today, only more so.&nbsp; And just imagine the reaction in South Korea and Japan if some crazy US strike on the DPRK results in Seoul and Tokyo being hit by missiles!&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="">The South Koreans have already made their position unambiguously clear</a>, by the way. As for the Japanese, they are officially&nbsp;<a href="">placing their hopes in missiles</a>&nbsp;(as if technology could mitigate the consequences of insanity!).&nbsp;&nbsp;So yeah, the DPRK is plenty dangerous and pushing them into their last resort is totally irresponsible indeed, nukes or no nukes.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Yet, for some reason, the western media rarely mentions Japan or the possible global economic consequences on a strike against Japan.</strong>&nbsp; Very few people know for sure whether the North Koreans truly have developed a usable nuclear weapon (warhead and missile) or whether the North Korean ballistic missile truly can reach Guam or the USA.&nbsp; But I don&rsquo;t think that there is any doubt whatsoever that North Korean missile can easily cover the roughly 1000km (600 miles) to reach the heart of Japan.&nbsp; In fact, the DPRK has already&nbsp;<a href="">lobbed missiles over Japan in the past</a>.&nbsp; Some red blooded US Americans will, no doubt, explain to use that&nbsp;<a href="">the US THAAD system can, and will, protect South Korea and Japan from such missile strikes</a>.&nbsp; Others, however,&nbsp;<a href="">will disagree</a>.&nbsp; We won&rsquo;t know until we find out, but judging by the&nbsp;<a href="">absolutely dismal performance of the vaunted US Patriot system in the Gulf War</a>,&nbsp; I sure would not place my trust in any US made ABM system.&nbsp; Last, but not least, the North Koreans could place a nuclear device (not even a real nuclear warhead) on a regular commercial ship or even a submarine, bring it to the coast of Japan and detonate it.&nbsp; The subsequent panic and chaos might end up costing even more lives and money than the explosion itself.</p> <p>Then there is Seoul, of course.&nbsp; US analyst Anthony Cordesman&nbsp;<a href="">put is very simply</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;A battle near the DMZ, directed at a target like Seoul, could rapidly escalate to the point at which it&nbsp;<strong>threatened the ROK&rsquo;s entire economy</strong>,&nbsp;<strong>even if no major invasion took place.&quot;</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>[Sidebar: Cordesman being Cordesman, he proceeds to hallucinate about the effects of a DPRK invasion of the ROK and comes up with sentences such as &ldquo;<em>Problems drive any assessment of the outcome of a major DPRK invasion of the ROK, even if one only focuses on DPRK- ROK forces. The DPRK has far larger ground forces, but the outcome of what would today be an air &ndash; land battle driven heavily by the overall mobility of DPRK land forces and their ability to concentrate along given lines of advance relative to the attrition technically superior ROK land and air forces could inflict is impossible to calculate with any confidence, as is the actual mix of forces both sides could deploy in a given area and scenario</em>&ldquo;.&nbsp; Yup, the man is seriously discussing&nbsp;<a href="">AirLand battle</a>&nbsp;concepts in the context of a DPRK invasion of the South!&nbsp; He might as well be discussing the use of&nbsp;<a href="">Follow-on-Forces Attack</a>&nbsp;concept in the context of a Martian invasion of earth (or an equally likely Russian invasion of the Baltic statelets!).&nbsp; It is funny and pathetic how a country with a totally offensive national strategy, military doctrine and force posture still feels the need to hallucinate some defensive scenarios to deal with the cognitive dissonance resulting from clearly being the bad guy.]</p> </blockquote> <p>Why does Cordesman say that?&nbsp; Because<a href="">&nbsp;according to a South Korean specialist</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;DPRK artillery pieces of calibers 170mm and 240mm &ldquo;<em>could fire&nbsp;</em><strong><em>10,000 rounds per minute</em></strong><em>&nbsp;to Seoul and its environs</em>.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp; During the war in Bosnia the western press spoke of &ldquo;massive Serbian artillery strikes on Sarajevo&rdquo; when the actual rate of fire was about 1 artillery shell per minute.&nbsp; It just makes me wonder what they would call 10,000 rounds per minute.</p> <p><strong>The bottom line is this: you cannot expect your enemy to act in a way which suits you;</strong> in fact you should very much assume that he is going to do what you do not expect and what is the worst possible for you.&nbsp; And, in this context, the DPRK has many more options than shooting an ICBM at Guam or the USA.&nbsp; The nutcases in the Administration might not want to mention it, but an attack on the DPRK risks bringing down both the South Korean and the Japanese economies with immediate and global consequences: considering that rather shaky and vulnerable nature of the international financial and economic system, I very much doubt that a major crisis in Asia would not result in the collapse of the US economy (which&nbsp;<a href="">is fragile anyway</a>).</p> <p>We should also consider the political consequences of a war on the Korean Peninsula, especially if, as is most likely, South Korea and Japan suffer catastrophic damage.&nbsp; This situation could well result in such an explosion of anti-US feelings that the US would have to pack and leave from the region entirely.</p> <p>How do you think the PRC feels about such a prospect?&nbsp; Exactly.&nbsp; And might this not explain why the Chinese are more than happy to let the USA deal with the North Korean problem knowing full well that one way or another the USA will lose without the Chinese having to fire a single shot?</p> <p><strong>The terrain</strong></p> <p>Next I want to re-visit a threat which is discussed much more often: <strong>North Korean artillery and special forces.</strong>&nbsp; But first, I ask you to take a close look at the following three maps of North Korea:</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 715px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 609px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 735px;" /></a></p> <p><em>These full-size maps can be downloaded from&nbsp;<a href="">here</a>.</em></p> <p>What I want you to see is that the terrain in North Korea is what the military call &ldquo;mixed terrain&rdquo;.&nbsp; The topography of North Korea article in Wikipedia actually explains this very well:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east.&nbsp; Early European visitors to Korea remarked that the country resembled &ldquo;a sea in a heavy gale&rdquo; because of the many successive mountain ranges that crisscross the peninsula. Some 80 percent of North Korea&rsquo;s land area is composed of mountains and uplands, with all of the peninsula&rsquo;s mountains with elevations of 2,000 metres (6,600&nbsp;ft) or more located in North Korea. The great majority of the population lives in the plains and lowlands.</p> </blockquote> <p>Being from Switzerland I know this kind of terrain very well (it&rsquo;s what you would see in the Alpine foothills called &ldquo;Oberland&rdquo; or &ldquo;Préalpes&rdquo;) and I want to add the following: dense vegetation, forests, rivers and creek with steep banks and rapid currents.&nbsp; Small villages and *a lot* of deep, underground tunnels. There are also flat areas in North Korea, of course, but, unlike Switzerland, they are composed mostly of rice fields and marshes.&nbsp; <strong>In military terms this all translates into one simple and absolutely terrifying word: infantry.</strong></p> <p>Why should the word infantry scare so much? Because infantry means on foot (or horses) with very little airpower (AA and MANPADS), satellites (can&rsquo;t see much), armor (can&rsquo;t move around), gunships, submarines or cruise missiles can do.&nbsp; Because infantry means &ldquo;no lucrative targets&rdquo; but small, dispersed and very well hidden forces.&nbsp; Company and even platoon-level warfare.&nbsp; Because infantry in mixed terrains means the kind of warfare the US Americans fear most.</p> <p><strong>The adversary</strong></p> <p>And with that in mind, let&rsquo;s repeat that besides its huge regular armed forces (about a million soldiers plus another 5 million plus in paramilitary organizations) <strong>the DPRK also has 200,000 special forces.&nbsp;</strong>&nbsp; Let&rsquo;s assume that the Western propaganda is, for once, saying the truth and that the regular armed forces are poorly equipped, poorly trained, poorly commanded and even hungry and demotivated (I am not at all sure that this is a fair assumption, but bear with me).&nbsp; But spreading that amount of soldiers all over the combat area would still represent a huge headache, even for &ldquo;the best and most powerful armed forces in history&rdquo; especially if you add 200,000 well-trained and highly motivated special forces to the mix (I hope that we can all agree that assuming that special forces are also demotivated would be rather irresponsible).&nbsp; How would you go about finding out who is who and where the biggest threat comes from? And consider this: it would extremely naive to expect the North Korean special forces to show up in some clearly marked DPRK uniforms.&nbsp; I bet you that a lot of them will show up in South Korean uniforms, and others in civilians clothes.&nbsp; Can you imagine the chaos of trying to fight them?</p> <p>You might say that the North Koreans have 1950&#39;s era weapons.&nbsp; So what?&nbsp; That is exactly what you need to fight the kind of warfare we are talking about: <strong>infantry in mixed terrains.</strong>&nbsp; Even WWII gear would do just fine.&nbsp; Now is time to bring in the North Korean artillery.&nbsp; We are talking about 8,600 artillery guns, and over 4,800 multiple rocket launchers (<a href="">source</a>).&nbsp; Anthony Cordesman&nbsp;<a href="">estimates</a>&nbsp;that there are 20,000 pieces in the &ldquo;surrounding areas&rdquo; of Seoul.&nbsp; <strong>That way is more than the US has worldwide</strong> (5,312 according to the 2017 &ldquo;Military Balance&rdquo;, including mortars).&nbsp; And keep in mind that we are not talking about batteries nicely arranged in a flat desert, but thousands of simple but very effective artillery pieces spread all over the &ldquo;mixed terrain&rdquo; filled with millions of roaming men in arms, including 200,000 special forces.&nbsp; <strong>And a lot of that artillery can reach Seoul</strong>, plenty enough to create a mass panic and exodus.</p> <p><strong>Think total, abject and bloody chaos</strong></p> <p>So when you think of a war against North Korea, don&rsquo;t think &ldquo;Hunt for Red October&rdquo; or &ldquo;Top Gun&rdquo;.&nbsp; Think total, abject and bloody chaos.&nbsp; Think instant full-scale FUBAR.&nbsp; And that is just for the first couple of days, then things will get worse, much worse.&nbsp; Why?</p> <p>Because by that time I expect the North Korean Navy and Air Force to have been completely wiped-off, waves after waves of cruise missiles will have hit an X number of facilities (with no way whatsoever to evaluate the impact of these strikes, but nevermind that) and the US military commanders will be looking at the President with no follow-up plan to offer.&nbsp; As for the North Koreans, by then they will just be settling in for some serious warfare, infantry-style.</p> <p>There is a better than average that a good part of the DPRK elites will be dead.&nbsp;&nbsp; What is sure is that the command and control of the General Staff Department over many of its forces will be if not lost, then severely compromised.&nbsp; <strong>But everybody will know that they have been attacked and by whom.</strong>&nbsp; You don&rsquo;t need much command and control when you are in a defensive posture in the kind of terrain were movement is hard to begin with.&nbsp; In fact, this is the kind of warfare where &ldquo;high command&rdquo; usually means a captain or a major, not some faraway general.</p> <p>You might ask about logistics?&nbsp; What logistics I ask you? The ammo is stored nearby in ammo dumps, food you can always get yourself and, besides, its your home turf, the civilians will help.</p> <p>Again, no maneuver warfare, no advanced communications, no heavy logistical train &ndash; <strong>we are talking about a kind of war which is much closer to WWII or even WWI than Desert Storm.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>[Sidebar: as somebody who did a lot of interesting stuff with the Swiss military, let me add this: this kind of terrain is a battlefield were a single company can stop and hold an entire regiment; this is the kind of terrain where trying to accurately triangulate the position of an enemy radio is extremely hard; this is the kind of terrain where only horses and donkeys can carry heavy gear over narrow, zig-zagging, steep paths;&nbsp; entire hospitals can be hidden underground with their entrance hidden by a barn or a shed; artillery guns are dug in underground and fire when a thick reinforced concrete hatch is moved to the side, then they hide; counter-battery radar hardly works due to bouncing signals; radio signals have a short range due to vegetation and terrain; weapon caches and even company size forces camps can only be detected by literally stepping on them; underground bunkers have numerous exits; air-assault operations are hindered by the very high risk of anti-aircraft gunfire or shoulder-fired missiles which can be hidden and come from any direction.&nbsp; I could go on and on but I will just say this: if you want to defeat your adversary in such a terrain there is only one technique which works: you do what the Russians did in the mountains in southern Chechnia during the second Chechen war &ndash; you send in your special forces, small units on foot, and you fight the enemy on his own turf.&nbsp; That is an extremely brutal, dangerous and difficult kind of warfare which I really don&rsquo;t see the Americans doing.&nbsp; The South Koreans, yes, maybe. But here is where the number game also kicks in: in Chechnia the Russians Spetsnaz operated in a relatively small combat zone and they had the numbers.&nbsp; Now look at a map of North Korea and the number of North Korean special forces and tell me &ndash; do the South Koreans have the manpower for that kind of offensive operations?&nbsp; One more thing: the typical US American reaction to such arguments would be &ldquo;<em>so what, we will just nuke them!&quot;</em>.&nbsp; Wrong.&nbsp; Nuke them you can, but nukes are not very effective in that kind of terrain, finding a target is hard to begin with, enemy forces will be mostly hidden underground and, finally, you are going to use nukes to deal with company or platoon size units?!&nbsp; Won&rsquo;t work.]</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>If you think that I am trying to scare you, you are absolutely correct. I am.&nbsp;&nbsp;You ought to be scared.</strong>&nbsp; And notice that I did not even mention nukes.&nbsp; No, not nuclear warheads in missiles.&nbsp; Basic nuclear devices driven around in common army trucks.&nbsp; Driven down near the DMZ in peacetime amongst thousands of other army trucks and then buried somewhere, ready to explode at the right time.&nbsp; Can you imagine what the effect of a &ldquo;no-warning&rdquo; &ldquo;where did it come from?&rdquo; nuke might be on advancing US or South Korean forces?&nbsp; Can you imagine how urgent the question &ldquo;are there any more?&rdquo; will become?&nbsp; And, again, for that the North Koreans don&rsquo;t even need a real nuclear weapon.&nbsp; A primitive nuclear device will be plenty.</p> <p>I can already hear the die-hard &ldquo;rah-rah-rah we are number 1!&rdquo; flag-wavers dismissing it all saying &ldquo;ha! and you don&rsquo;t think that the CIA already knows all that?&rdquo;.&nbsp; Maybe they do and maybe they don&rsquo;t &ndash; but the problem is that the CIA, and the rest of the US intelligence community, has been so hopelessly politicized that it can do nothing against perceived political imperatives.&nbsp; <strong>And, frankly, when I see that the US is trying to scare the North Koreans with B-1B and F-22s I wonder if anybody at the Pentagon, or at Langely, is still in touch with reality.</strong>&nbsp; Besides, there is intelligence and then there is actionable intelligence. And in this case knowing what the Koreans could do does not at all mean know what to do about it.</p> <p>Speaking of chaos &ndash; do you know what the Chinese specifically said about it?</p> <p>Can you guess?</p> <p>That they will &ldquo;<a href="">not allow chaos and war on the peninsula</a>.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Enter the Chinese</strong></p> <p>Let&rsquo;s talk about the Chinese now.&nbsp; They&nbsp;<a href="">made their position very clear</a>: &ldquo;<em>If North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States then China should stay neutral, but if the United States attacks first and tries to overthrow North Korea&rsquo;s government China will stop them</em>.&quot;&nbsp; Since there is no chance at all of a unprovoked North Korean attack on the South or the USA, especially with this threat by the Chinese to remain neutral if the DPRK attacks first, let&rsquo;s focus on the 2nd part of the warning.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 675px;" /></a></p> <p>What could the Chinese do if the US decides to attack North Korea?&nbsp; There basic options depend on the nature of the attack:</p> <ol> <li>If the US limits itself to a combination of missile and airstrikes and the DPRK retaliates (or not), then the Chinese can simply provide technical, economic and humanitarian aid to the DPRK and denounce the US on a political level.</li> <li>If the USA follow up with a land invasion of some kind or if the DPRK decides to retaliate in a manner which would force the USA into a land invasion of some kind, then the Chinese could not only offer directly military aid, including military personnel, but they could also wait for the chaos to get total in Korea before opening a 2nd front against US forces (including, possibly, Taiwan).</li> </ol> <p>That second scenario would create a dangerous situation for China, of course, but it would be even far more dangerous for US forces in Asia who would find themselves stretched very thin over a very large area with no good means to force either adversary to yield or stop.&nbsp; <strong>Finally, just as China cannot allow the USA to crush North Korea, Russia cannot allow the USA to crush China.&nbsp; Does that dynamic sound familiar?</strong>&nbsp; It should as it is similar to what we have been observing in the Middle-East recently:</p> <ol> <li>Russia-&gt;Iran-&gt;Hezbollah-&gt;Syria</li> <li>Russia-&gt;China-&gt;DPRK</li> </ol> <p>This is a very flexible and effective force posture where the smallest element is at the forefront of the line-up and the most powerful one most removed and at the back because it forces the other side to primarily focus on that frontline adversary while maximizing the risks of any possibly success because that success is likely to draw in the next, bigger and more powerful adversary.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion: preparing for genocide</strong></p> <p>The US has exactly a zero chance of disarming or, even less so, regime changing the DPRK by only missile and airstrikes.&nbsp; To seriously and meaningfully take the DPRK &ldquo;in their hands&rdquo; <strong>the US leaders would need to approve of a land invasion.</strong>&nbsp; However, even if that is not the plan, if the DPRK decides to use its immense, if relatively antiquated, firepower to strike at Seoul, the US will have no choice to move in ground forces across the DMZ.&nbsp; If that happens about 500,000 ROK troops backed by 30,000 US military personnel will face about 1 million North Korea soldiers backed by 5 million paramilitaries and 200,000 special forces on a mix terrain battlefield which will require an infantry-heavy almost WWII kind of military operations.&nbsp; By definition, if the USA attacks the DPRK to try to destroy its nuclear program such an attack will begin by missile and air strikes on DPRK facilities meaning that the USA will immediately strike at the most valuable targets (from the point of view of the North Koreans of course).&nbsp; This means that&nbsp;<strong><em>following such an attack the US will have little or no dissuasive capabilities left and that means that following such an attack the DPRK will have no incentive left to show any kind of restraint</em></strong>.&nbsp; In sharp contrast, even if the DPRK decides to begin with an artillery barrage across the DMZ, including the Seoul metropolitan area, they will still have the ability to further escalate by either attacking Japan or by setting off a nuclear device.&nbsp; Should that happen there is an extremely high probability that the USA will either have to &ldquo;declare victory and leave&rdquo; (a time-honored US military tradition) or begin using numerous tactical nuclear strikes.&nbsp; Tactical nuclear strikes, by the way, have a very limited effectiveness on prepared defensive position in mixed terrain, especially narrow valleys.&nbsp; Besides, targets for such strikes are hard to find.&nbsp; <strong>At the end of the day, the last and only option left to the USA is what they always eventually resort to would be to directly and deliberately engage in the mass murder of civilians to &ldquo;break the enemy&rsquo;s will to fight&rdquo; and destroy the &ldquo;regime support infrastructure&rdquo; of the enemy&rsquo;s forces</strong> (another time-honored US military tradition stretching back to the Indian wars and which was used during the Korean war and, more recently, in Yugoslavia).&nbsp; Here I want to quote an article by Darien Cavanaugh in&nbsp;<a href="">War is Boring</a>:</p> <p>On a per-capita basis, the Korean War was one of the deadliest wars in modern history, especially for the civilian population of North Korea. <strong>The scale of the devastation shocked and disgusted the American military personnel who witnessed it,</strong> including some who had fought in the most horrific battles of World War II (&hellip;).&nbsp; These are staggering numbers, and the death rate during the Korean War was comparable to what occurred in the hardest hit countries of World War II. (&hellip;)&nbsp; In fact, by the end of the war, the United States and its allies had dropped more bombs on the Korean Peninsula, the overwhelming majority of them on North Korea, than they had in the entire Pacific Theater of World War II.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The physical destruction and loss of life on both sides was almost beyond comprehension, <strong>but the North suffered the greater damage, due to American saturation bombing and the scorched-earth policy of the retreating U.N. forces,&rdquo;</strong> historian Charles K. Armstrong wrote in an essay for the Asia-Pacific Journal.&nbsp; &ldquo;The U.S. Air Force estimated that North Korea&rsquo;s destruction was proportionately greater than that of Japan in the Second World War, where the U.S. had turned 64 major cities to rubble and used the atomic bomb to destroy two others. American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea&mdash;that is, essentially on North Korea&mdash;including 32,557 tons of napalm, compared to 503,000 tons of bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theatre of World War II.&rdquo;&nbsp; As Armstrong explains, this resulted in almost unparalleled devastation.&nbsp; &ldquo;The number of Korean dead, injured or missing by war&rsquo;s end approached three million, ten percent of the overall population. The majority of those killed were in the North, which had half of the population of the South; although the DPRK does not have official figures, possibly twelve to fifteen percent of the population was killed in the war, a figure close to or surpassing the proportion of Soviet citizens killed in World War II.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Twelve to fifteen percent of the entire population was murdered by US forces in Korea during the last war&nbsp;</em></strong>(compare these figures to the so-called &lsquo;genocide&rsquo; of Srebrenica!).&nbsp; That is what Nikki Haley and the psychopaths in Washington DC are really threatening to do when they speak of taking the situation &ldquo;in their own hands&rdquo; or, even better, when Trump threatens to &ldquo;<a href="">totally destroy</a>&rdquo; North Korea.&nbsp; What Trump and his generals forget is that we are not in the 1950&#39;s but in 2017 and that while the Korean War and a negligible economic impact on the rest of the planet, a war the middle of Far East Asia today would have huge economic consequences.&nbsp; Furthermore, in the 1950&#39;s the total US control over the mass media, at least in the so-called &ldquo;free world&rdquo; made it relatively easy to hide out the murderous rampage by US-lead forces, something completely impossible nowadays.&nbsp; The modern reality is that irrespective of the actual military outcome on the ground, <strong>any US attack on the DPRK would result is such a massive loss of face for the USA that it would probably mark the end of the US presence in Asia</strong> and a <strong>massive international financial shock</strong> probably resulting in a crash of the currently already fragile US economy.&nbsp; In contrast, China would come out as the big winner and the uncontested Asian superpower.</p> </blockquote> <p>All the threats coming out of US politicians are nothing more than delusional hot air.&nbsp; A country which has not won a single meaningful war since the war in the Pacific and whose Army is gradually being filled with semi-literate, gender-fluid and often conviction or unemployment avoiding soldiers is in no condition whatsoever to threaten a country with the wide choice of retaliatory options North Korea has.&nbsp; The current barrage of US threats to engage in yet another genocidal war are both illegal under international law and politically counter-productive.&nbsp; The fact is that the USA is unlikely to be able to politically survive a war against the DPRK and that it now has no other option than to either sit down and seriously negotiate with the North Koreans or accept that the DPRK has become an official nuclear power.</p> <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="864" height="400" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Aftermath of the Korean War Air Force B+ Central Intelligence Agency China Cognitive Dissonance East Asia Foreign relations of North Korea General Staff Department Government of North Korea Guam Hizballah International relations Japan KIM Korea Korean Demilitarized Zone Middle-East Military of North Korea North Korea North Korea North Korean Navy North Korea’s government China North Korea–South Korea relations nuclear devices Nuclear Power Pentagon Politics Politics Reality Swiss military Switzerland U.S. intelligence Unemployment United Nations US Air Force War Sun, 17 Dec 2017 04:15:02 +0000 Tyler Durden 609283 at Stunning Visualization Of The Explosion Of ICO Activity In The Last Four Years <p><a href=""><em>Via,</em></a></p> <p><em>This graphic shows every token sale that successfully raised at least $100k, from the beginning of 2014 through the end of last month, November 2017. The bar chart at the bottom displays the total dollar amount raised in each month (details below).</em></p> <p><iframe allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <h3 id="howbigistheicoakatokensalemarketreally"><u>How big is the ICO (aka token sale) market really?</u></h3> <p>It seems like this should be an easy question to answer. After all, blockchains are <a href="">open data layers</a> that contain a complete record of every transaction ever made. However, we&#39;ve found the answer to this question to be surprisingly elusive.</p> <p>We surveyed the web for data on token sales and turned up over 100 ICO listing sites. Estimates on the total dollar amount that has been raised via ICOs to date range from about <strong>$3.5 billion</strong> to <strong>$4.5 billion</strong>.</p> <p>Why such a big discrepancy?</p> <p>As far as we can tell, all of these estimates rely strictly on reported figures -- either by the ICO issuer itself or by another third party. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Many data providers in the financial world collect their information this way. However, why rely strictly on reported figures when the actual transactions are available directly from the blockchain?</p> <p>We decided to estimate the size of the ICO market ourselves by going directly to the source.</p> <p>The figures in this post are based on our own deep dive into the Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains. We searched for every token, crowdsale, and <a href="">multisig wallet</a> we could find. We then identified the corresponding owners and added up the total amount of contributed funds -- taken either from the blockchain itself or as reported by the fundraiser.</p> <p>In total, we estimate about <strong>$6.4 billion</strong> has been raised via ICOs to date - materially larger than what is being reported elsewhere.</p> <p>Perhaps more surprising than the fundraising total is the trend over time. The ICO market is not dying down, as many <a href="">have reported</a>. It&#39;s still growing.</p> <h3 id="theriseandriseoficos"><u>The rise and rise of ICOs</u></h3> <p>This chart is a labeled version of the one at the top of the post. It shows the ICO fundraising amounts by month.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 560px; height: 336px;" /></a></p> <p>Contrary to the commonly heard narrative that the ICO party is coming to an end, ICO fundraising in November was only slightly off its high point the month before.</p> <p>The current run rate of over <strong>$1.3bn</strong> per month surpasses traditional early stage fundraising by a multiple. Angel and seed-stage VC investments were running at less than $300 million per month as of July (<a href="">Goldman Sachs via CNBC</a>).</p> <p>The trend is even more stark when you look at the total <em>count</em> of ICOs that closed each month (minimum raise of $100k).</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 560px; height: 336px;" /></a></p> <p>By this measure, the token sale market is not only still going strong. It&#39;s accelerating!</p> <p>November set a new record for number of closed token sales with 148, an increase of 36 compared to the month before.</p> <p>We view this metric, the number of token sales, as a better gauge of market activity than the fundraising total. The total dollar amount raised is not only susceptible to fluctuations in crypto exchange rates, it may also be driven by just a handful of outliers, rather than the true underlying trend. For example, just two ICOs (Tezos and EOS, which raised $236m and $200m respectively) account for nearly half of July&rsquo;s total fundraising.</p> <p>The number of ICOs completed each month shows a much clearer trend, and one that shows no sign of slowing down.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="ICO bubbles" src="" style="height: 316px; width: 559px;" /></a></p> <p><em>To play around with the graphic yourself, click here to view the <strong><a href="">interactive bubble chart</a></strong>.</em></p> <h3 id="tldr"><u>TL;DR</u></h3> <ul> <li>ICOs have closed over <strong>$6.3bn</strong> of fundraising to date.</li> <li>Contrary to widespread perception, the ICO market is <strong>still growing</strong>.</li> <li>Total fundraising in November was down slightly from its high point in October (<strong>$1.38bn</strong> vs <strong>$1.39bn</strong>).</li> <li>November set the record for number of ICOs that closed with <strong>148</strong>.</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="1082" height="660" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bitcoin Blockchains Business CD278 Computing Cross-platform software Cryptocurrencies Culture Eli Lilly and Company Ethereum Fiction Fundraising goldman sachs Goldman Sachs ICO party Icos Initial Coin Offering Sun, 17 Dec 2017 03:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609293 at "Look At That Thing!" - The NYT Reveals The Pentagon's Mysterious UFO Program <p>When tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theories cross paths with massive &#39;defense&#39; budgets and excited politicians, <strong><em>&quot;stranger things&quot; happen.</em></strong></p> <p><a href=""><img height="263" src="" width="480" /></a></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Welcome to The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.</strong></span></p> <p><a href=""><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 480px; height: 209px;" /></strong></span></a></p> <p><a href=""><em>As The New York Times exposes,</em></a> within the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the program was <strong>almost impossible to find.</strong></p> <p>Which was <strong>how the Pentagon wanted it.</strong></p> <p>For years, the <strong>program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects</strong>, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon&rsquo;s C Ring, deep within the building&rsquo;s maze.</p> <p>The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012.<strong> But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence</strong>. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.</p> <p>The shadowy program &mdash; parts of it remain classified &mdash; <strong>began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, </strong>the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena.</p> <p><strong>Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid&rsquo;s, Robert Bigelow,</strong> who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.</p> <p>And while the clapping of crony capitalism screams alod from those two last sentences, one watch of the following video (just one of many), suggests the boondoggle may be based in some kind of reality after all... <em>(the footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. &ldquo;<strong>There&rsquo;s a whole fleet of them,&rdquo; one exclaims. </strong>Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.)</em></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="321" id="nyt_video_player" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="" title="New York Times Video - Embed Player" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,&rdquo; </strong>Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I&rsquo;ve done something that no one has done before.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it&rsquo;s worth investigating seriously,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But, she added,<strong> &ldquo;what people sometimes don&rsquo;t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><em>Read more here...</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="657" height="286" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American Airlines Flight 77 Congress Economy MIT National Aeronautics and Space Administration navy New York Times Pentagon Politics Reality Senate Virginia Sun, 17 Dec 2017 03:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609295 at This Map Shows You The Richest Politician In Every State <p dir="ltr">Did you know that George Washington was so rich that he wanted to reject his presidential salary?<strong> Wealth has always been a part of American politics, but, recently, political wealth crossed a new milestone (most Congresspeople&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">are millionaires</a>).</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">This map from <a href=""></a> shows the richest politician in every state, and reveals just how rich they really are.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href=""><img alt="" src="" /></a></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href=""><em>Source:</em></a></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>There are 34 states with Republicans as their richest politicians, 15 with Democrats,</strong> and one with an Independent. Interestingly, every single one is in Congress. There are no executive branch politicians, including governors, whatsoever.</p> <h3><u>Geographic Influence</u></h3> <p dir="ltr">In many places, the results were predictable. <strong>No richest-in-state Democrats can be found in the South,</strong> but there is a cluster in New England.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are a few surprises, though. For instance, <strong>the richest politicians in Democratic strongholds California and New York are Republicans.</strong> The Midwest is split evenly. And despite being severely outnumbered, there are a few very wealthy Democrats in the top five on this list.</p> <h3><u>Top 10&nbsp;Richest Politicians in Each State</u></h3> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p dir="ltr">1. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) - $330M</p> <p dir="ltr">2.&nbsp;Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) - $313.6M</p> <p dir="ltr">3.&nbsp;Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) - $238.2M</p> <p dir="ltr">4. Rep. John K. Delaney (D-MD) - $232.8M</p> <p dir="ltr">5. Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI) - $177.1M</p> <p dir="ltr">6. Rep. Vernon Buchanan (R-FL) - $115.5M</p> <p dir="ltr">7. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) - $81.7M</p> <p dir="ltr">8. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) - $75.3M</p> <p dir="ltr">9. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) - $66.4M</p> <p dir="ltr">10. Rep. Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ) - $64M</p> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">The 50 politicians on this map are worth just under $2.5B altogether. These ten officials have a cumulative net worth of nearly $1.7B by themselves.</p> <h3><u>Gender Disparity</u></h3> <p dir="ltr"><strong>We already know that the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">gender pay gap</a>&nbsp;is pervasive. This remains true in politics.</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Of the 50 highly paid politicians on our visualization, only six are women. We couldn&rsquo;t find any patterns explaining why these states had such wealthy female politicians. Among the women, there is a 4:2 Republican advantage and they are scattered across all parts of the country, from Hawaii to New England.</p> <p dir="ltr">The wealthiest among them is Tennessee&rsquo;s Republican Representative, Diane Black ($75.3M).</p> <h3><u>Political Wealth vs. General Wealth</u></h3> <p dir="ltr"><strong>While some politicians are very wealthy, not all are. </strong>Over 100 members of Congress actually have negative net worths, and a handful are right around zero. (Check out Roll Call&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Wealth of Congress Index</a>&nbsp;for a deep dive into Congressional finances.).</p> <p dir="ltr">We also found that political wealth pales in comparison to the state-by-state wealth of non-politicians. <strong>Nearly&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">every state&rsquo;s richest person</a>&nbsp;is a billionaire, but no politicians (aside from Donald Trump, who doesn&rsquo;t represent a single state) have reached that pinnacle.</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Editor&rsquo;s Note: Al Franken, the junior Senator from Minnesota, has announced his resignation, after<a href="" target="_blank">&nbsp;being accused of sexual misconduct by several women</a>. Until his resignation is official, he remains the wealthiest politician in Minnesota, with a net worth of $7.1M.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href=""><em>Source:</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1520" height="835" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Caucuses of the United States Congress Congress Darrell Issa Donald Trump New England Politics Richard Blumenthal United States midterm elections Sun, 17 Dec 2017 02:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609289 at Nomi Prins: 'Dark Money' Runs The World <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Nomi Prins via The Daily Reckoning,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Few people know financial markets&rsquo; biggest secret...</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 301px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>For the last 40 years, most people believed the stock market always goes up.</strong> Simply buy and hold long enough, the theory went, and you could sit back and watch the money accumulate in your account. No thought or hard work needed.</p> <p>It was a nifty strategy &mdash; until the idea burned most investors in 2008. Almost a decade later, the scar tissue is still fresh for many investors.</p> <p>Even today, after the U.S. stock market has rallied by 271% since the bottom on March 6, 2009 &mdash; nearly tripling investors&rsquo; money &mdash; only about half of Americans are invested in the stock market, according to NPR. That&rsquo;s down from two-thirds compared to a decade ago.</p> <p>The rest are in cash on the sidelines. Maybe that&rsquo;s been you.</p> <p>And who can blame you? &ldquo;<em>Fool me once, shame on you</em>,&rdquo; the saying goes. &ldquo;<em>Fool me twice, shame on me</em>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Last June, <em>Fortune</em> surveyed readers. 71% of respondents said &ldquo;the economic system in the U.S. is rigged in favor of certain groups.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>A few years earlier, the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> reported &ldquo;<em>Poll finds 64% of voters believe stock market is rigged against them&hellip;</em>&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>They&rsquo;re not wrong.</p> <p>Somebody&rsquo;s made gains from all of those sectors in the stock market. It just hasn&rsquo;t been Main Street.</p> <p>Since I&rsquo;ve left the world of big banking, I&rsquo;ve made it my mission to change that. That leads me to the catalyst for my new project&hellip;</p> <p><u><strong><em>Dark money.</em></strong></u></p> <p><em><strong>Dark money is the #1 secret life force of today&rsquo;s rigged financial markets. It drives whole markets up and down. It&rsquo;s the reason for today&rsquo;s financial bubbles.</strong></em></p> <p>On Wall Street, knowledge of and access to dark money means trillions of dollars per year flowing in and around global stock, bond and derivatives markets.</p> <p>I learned this firsthand from my career on Wall Street. My first full year working on Wall Street was in 1987.</p> <p>I wasn&rsquo;t talking about &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; or central bank collusion back then. I was just starting out.</p> <p>Eventually, I would uncover how the dark money system works&hellip; how it has corrupted our financial system&hellip; and encouraged greed to the point of crisis like in 2008.</p> <p>When I moved abroad to create and run the analytics department at Bear Stearns London as senior managing director, I got my first look at how dark money flows and its effects cross borders.</p> <p><strong>The &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; comes from central banks. In essence, central banks &ldquo;print&rdquo; money or electronically fabricate money by buying bonds or stocks. They use other tools like adjusting interest rate policy and currency agreements with other central banks to pump liquidity into the financial system.</strong></p> <p>That dark money goes to the biggest private banks and financial institutions first. From there, it spreads out in seemingly infinite directions affecting different financial assets in different ways.</p> <p><strong>Yet these dark money flows stretch around the world according to a pattern of power, influence and, of course, wealth for select groups. To be a part of the dark money elite means to have control over many. How elite is a matter of degree.</strong></p> <p>These is not built upon conspiracy theories. To the contrary, alliances make perfect sense and operate publicly. Even better, their exclusive dealings and the consequences that follow are foreseeable &mdash; but only if you understand how the system works and follow the dark money flows.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to see how this dark money affects the stock market at a high level, because we can monitor its constant movement.</p> <p><strong>Here&rsquo;s the smoking gun:</strong></p> <p class="centered"><img alt="Dark Money" class="centered aligncenter" src="" style="height: 423px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p>The red line shows you how much &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; the Federal Reserve has printed since 2008.</p> <p>The blue line shows you the S&amp;P 500.</p> <p><strong>They move together &mdash; more dark money drives the market higher. Much higher.</strong></p> <p>There are dark money charts from around the world, just like the one I showed you for the Federal Reserve and U.S. stock market.</p> <p><strong>Look at this &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; chart from Japan, for example:</strong></p> <p class="centered"><img alt="Japan" class="centered aligncenter" src="" style="height: 423px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p>The blue line shows the dark money created by their central bank, The Bank of Japan. The red line shows Japan&rsquo;s major stock index, the Nikkei 225, going up as well. The dark money drove the market much higher over the past eight years.</p> <p><strong>Or, look at this &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; chart from the U.K.:</strong></p> <p class="centered"><img alt="England" class="centered aligncenter" src="" style="height: 423px; width: 600px;" /></p> <p>Again, the blue line shows the &ldquo;dark money&rdquo; created since 2009 by the U.K.&rsquo;s central bank, The Bank of England. The red line shows how the FTSE 100, their stock index, has followed higher in lock-step.</p> <p><strong>To invest profitably in financial markets, you need to understand the hidden power relationships that drive financial and political events. Ideologies and personal associations among elites are oblivious to political party lines and international boundaries. So is dark money.</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="787" height="395" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank Bank of England Bank of England Bank of Japan Bank of Japan Banking Bear Stearns Bond Business Central Banks Economy Federal Reserve Finance Financial markets Financial system FTSE 100 Japan Main Street Market liquidity Nikkei Nikkei 225 S&P 500 Stock market U.K.’s central bank US Federal Reserve Wall Street Sun, 17 Dec 2017 02:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609294 at Whats really driving the price of Bitcoin through the roof <p><span style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: medium;">Although Bitcoin is electronic and moves quickly, the real world doesn't.&nbsp; Since Bitcoin (which is colloquially BTC/USD) has been in the news, millions have decided to put their own money into the Crypto world and press their luck.&nbsp; So here's what's driving the price.&nbsp; Let's say you want to buy Golem, it's not offered on Coinbase, you need to first get an account at Bittrex or Cryptopia which are only fundable in Crypto.&nbsp; That means if you are not a hacker or computer expert, you need to first connect your Coinbase account to your bank account at Wells or BOFA and then buy BTC paying the egregious 7% fee (which ironically is similar to an FX transaction).&nbsp; Then, and only then, you can fund your Bittrex with BTC and buy XRP or whatever.&nbsp; So this is driving the price of BTC higher, as there is precious little supply of BTC.&nbsp; We call this in FX 'real money flows' - as DB noted recently, Japanese men have become 'crypto day traders' - but the real upward pressure is by using BTC as a base/funding currency, which is only beginning.&nbsp; Crypto exchanges are experiencing huge bottlenecks, which means this squeeze has only started.&nbsp; This week the price of BTC/USD can run up 100% or more due to this demand.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <div style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: medium;">That means, millions of people investing thousands of dollars, is driving the price of BTC up, and will likely continue to do so, until there are viable alternatives, which there will be.&nbsp; Currently BTC is really the only choice for many - although it is slow, inefficient, and feature poor.</div> <div style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: medium;"></div> <div style="font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; font-size: medium;"><a href="" target="_blank">To learn more about Bitcoin and the Blockchain checkout Splitting Bits&nbsp;</a>&nbsp;or see our resource page here&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">;</a></div> Bitcoin Bitcoin Coinbase Cryptocurrencies Currency E-commerce Money Sun, 17 Dec 2017 02:01:53 +0000 globalintelhub 609299 at Moody's Considers Municipal Ratings Changes That Could Push Illinois Into Junk Territory <p>A few weeks ago, <a href="">we expressed</a> some level of astonishment that the rating agencies, in their infinite wisdom, decided to bestow an investment grade rating upon a new $3 billion bond issuance by the City of Chicago.&nbsp; Of course, this wouldn't be such a big deal but for the fact that the state of Illinois is a financial disaster that will undoubtedly be forced into bankruptcy at some point in the future courtesy of a staggering ~$150 billion funding gap on its public pensions, a mountain of debt and <a href="">$16.4 billion in accrued AP</a> because they can't even afford to pay their bills on a timely basis.&nbsp; Here are just a couple of our recent posts on these topics:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Illinois Pension Funding Ratio Sinks To 37.6% As Unfunded Liabilities Surge To $130 Billion</a></li> <li><a href="">Illinois Unpaid Vendor Backlog Hits A New Record At Over $16 Billion</a></li> <li><a href="">The State Of Illinois Is "Past The Point Of No Return"</a></li> </ul> <p>Alas, as <a href="">Capitol Fax</a> notes this morning, it seems as though Moody's may finally be waking up to the farce that is their own municipal ratings system and is currently in the process of seeking comments from market participants on proposed changes for states’ general obligation credit ratings, which would include an <strong>increased emphasis on debt and pension obligations.</strong>&nbsp; Of course, <strong>with their GO rating just one notch above junk, all of those long-only bond funds that have scooped up billions in 'juicy' 4% Illinois paper over the past couple of months should probably take notice.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Under the proposed changes, <strong>debt and pension obligations will have a 25% weight on state credit ratings, up from 20% currently. The individual state’s economy, another factor in Moody’s ratings, will also have a 25% weight, up from 20%.</strong> Governance will fall to 20% from 30% and finances will be maintained at 30%.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The debt and pension factor “is critical because debt and pension obligations are the primary long-term liabilities that states have,” Moody’s said in an announcement on the proposed changes Tuesday. “As these liabilities grow, states face rising expenses to pay debt and pension benefits. High fixed debt service and pension costs can crowd out other budgetary priorities and force states to raise taxes in order to meet them. Debt and pensions can curtail a state’s budgetary flexibility and heighten the risk that it will seek to deleverage through a debt restructuring.”</p> </blockquote> <p><img src="" alt="Illinois" width="600" height="371" /></p> <p>Of course, the proposed changes come just after Fitch put out their 2017 State Pension Update which showed that<strong> Illinois’ pension crisis is the worst in the nation with an underfunding of more than $151 billion...or $60 billion more than second worst state: New Jersey.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“Six states have long-term liability burdens that Fitch considers elevated [in excess of 20 percent of personal income],” the report said, “with Illinois carrying the highest liability burden at 28.5 percent of personal income.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fitch Senior Director Doug Offerman said taxpayers should care because the burden takes up more than 28 percent of all personal income in Illinois, “which is essentially a proxy for the wealth level, the resource base of a given government.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“For the last several years the [pension] increases did grow faster, and I would say do crowd out other spending that might have otherwise taken up organic revenue growth,” [Fitch Ratings Senior Director Karen Krop] said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, State Senator Dan McConchie (R) noted, as have we on multiple occasions, that people are already fleeing Illinois in droves because of its financial crisis and resulting tax burdens.&nbsp; <strong>“Whether it’s through their property taxes or because of the recent income tax increase, they just can’t afford to [stay here],” </strong>McConchie said. <strong>“This day of reckoning is fast approaching us. I don’t think we want to wait until the absolute last minute to try and do everything we can to really right the ship.”</strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, Mr. McConchie, we're afraid your proverbial ship is taking on so much water at this point that it hasn't a hope of surviving the crushing weight of your state's mounting debts...<strong>perhaps it's better at this point to simply seek a life raft and follow your constituents to Texas.</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="772" height="477" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bond Business Credit rating agencies and the subprime crisis Credit rating agency Economy Finance Fitch fixed Funding Gap Illinois Investment Grade Labor Money Moody's Investors Service Pension Pension Crisis Pensions crisis Personal Income Rating Agencies ratings Social Issues Systemic risk United Kingdom national debt Sun, 17 Dec 2017 01:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609246 at Goldman Sachs: 2017 In 100 Charts <p>Goldman Sachs&#39; Sumana Manoghar, Hugo Scott-Gall, and Navreen Sandhu wax lyrical in their introduction to the <strong>100 most interesting charts of 2017...</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In this very special edition, straight from our hearts, We pro?le 100 of our best and most compelling charts. <strong>They tell the story of a changing world; </strong>and below it starts. But for now we&rsquo;ll quickly run you through the major parts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>We begin with rising capex: Who is spending to defend? Is disruption overrated? Who else can Amazon upend? The potential in India? Can China&rsquo;s overcapacity mend? Are people eating healthier? How do millennials spend?</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We explore each of these themes and tell you how they link. We have some fun charts in here too. And surprises. Wink wink. We hope they join the thematic dots as you see them in sync, But most of all we hope that these charts make you think.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are quotes, stats, and a crossword also in here, Plus a thematic poster to spread the holiday cheer. Let us know what you think and if anything is unclear, We&rsquo;ll be back soon with more. Until then, Happy New Year.</p> </blockquote> <p>The over-arching theme appears to be that of <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>disruption... and survival</strong></span>.</p> <h3><u>The Empire Strikes Back: 2017 has been a year of incumbents defending against disruption</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img height="755" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <h3><u>The Force Awakens: Seeking a revival in global capex</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 672px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 739px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 654px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 795px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 685px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>Disruptive new entrants&hellip;</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 730px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>&hellip;often trigger a response from incumbents </u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 731px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>Innovation to disruption: Tracking tech cost curves</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 682px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 761px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>The Last Jedi: Japan remains a unique opportunity</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 773px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>Attack of the Clones: Automation and the future of jobs</u></h3> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 733px;" /></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 803px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>Who is disrupted by automation? Labour</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 732px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 722px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 717px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>Can the pricing power of brands be restored?</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 729px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>The Phantom Menace: Obesity and deconstructing the notion of healthier eating </u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 750px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 709px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>A New Hope: The deregulatory wave</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 769px;" /></a></p> <h3><u>Where does China stand out?</u></h3> <p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 756px;" /></p> <h3><u>On a parting note, some charts that surprised us</u></h3> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 730px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Source: Goldman Sachs</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <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="600" height="63" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Banks China Economy of New York City Goldman goldman sachs Goldman Sachs Goldman Sachs Holiday Cheer India Japan Millennials Software Subprime mortgage crisis Wink Sun, 17 Dec 2017 01:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609248 at The Media's Reign Of Error Exposed <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Mark Hemingway via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Covering the Trump presidency has not always been the media&rsquo;s finest hour, but even grading on that curve, the month of December has brought astonishing screwups. </strong></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 279px;" /></a></p> <p>Professor and venerable political observer Walter Russell Mead tweeted on December 8,<em><strong> &ldquo;I remember Watergate pretty well, and I don&rsquo;t remember anything like this level of journalistic carelessness back then. The constant stream of &lsquo;bombshells&rsquo; that turn into duds is doing much more to damage the media than anything Trump could manage.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>On December 1, ABC News correspondent Brian Ross went on air and made a remarkable claim. </strong>For months, the media have been furiously trying to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Ross reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had just pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was prepared to testify that President Trump had instructed him to contact Russian officials before the 2016 election, while Trump was still a candidate. If true, it would have been a gamechanger. <strong>But Ross&rsquo;s claim was inaccurate.</strong> Flynn&rsquo;s documented attempts to contact the Russians came after Trump was president-elect, allegedly trying to lay diplomatic groundwork for the new administration. Ross was suspended by ABC for four weeks without pay for the error.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Later that same weekend, the <em>New York Times</em> ran a story about Trump transition official K.&thinsp;T. McFarland,</strong> charging that she had lied to congressional investigators about knowledge of the Trump transition team&rsquo;s contacts with Russia. The article went through four headline changes and extensive edits after it was first published, substantially softening and backing away from claims made in the original version. The first headline made a definitive claim: &ldquo;McFarland Contradicted Herself on Russia Contacts, Congressional Testimony Shows.&rdquo; The headline now reads &ldquo;Former Aide&rsquo;s Testimony on Russia Is Questioned.&rdquo; The website Newsdiffs, which tracks edits of articles after publication, shows <strong>nearly the entire body of the article was rewritten</strong>. (The <em>Times</em> website makes no mention of the changes.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Still in that first weekend of December,</strong> Senator Orrin Hatch criticized the excesses of federal welfare programs, saying, &ldquo;I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won&rsquo;t help themselves.&rdquo; The quote was taken wildly out of context. MSNBC&rsquo;s Joe Scarborough as well as journalists from <em>Mic</em>, <em>Newsweek</em>, and the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> reported that Hatch was directly criticizing the Children&rsquo;s Health Insurance Program, with some suggesting Hatch thought children should be put to work to pay for subsidized health care. <strong>Not only was Hatch not criticizing the CHIP program, he cowrote the recent bill to extend its funding.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>On December 5, Reuters and Bloomberg reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank account records of President Trump</strong> and family members, possibly related to business done in Russia. The report was <strong>later corrected</strong> to say Mueller was subpoenaing &ldquo;people or entities close to Mr. Trump.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Then on December 8, another Russia bombshell turned into a dud. </strong>CNN&rsquo;s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb reported Donald Trump Jr. had been sent an email on September 4, 2016, with a decryption key to a WikiLeaks trove of hacked emails from Clinton confidant and Democratic operative John Podesta&mdash;that is, before the hacked emails were made public. (WikiLeaks is widely surmised to act as a front for Russian intelligence.) MSNBC and CBS quickly claimed to have confirmed CNN&rsquo;s scoop. Within hours, though, CNN&rsquo;s report was discredited. The email was sent on September 14, <em>after</em> the hacked Podesta emails had been made publicly available. <strong>CNN later admitted it never saw the email it was reporting the contents of.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>This is just eight days&rsquo; worth of blundering.</strong></u></p> <p>Since October of last year, when Franklin Foer at <em>Slate</em> filed an erroneous report on a computer server in Trump Tower communicating with a Russian bank, there have been an <strong>unprecedented number of media faceplants, most of them directly related to the Russia-collusion theory.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>The errors always run in the same direction&mdash;they report or imply that the Trump campaign was in league with Moscow. </strong></u></p> <p>For a politicized and overwhelmingly liberal press corps, the wish that this story be true is obviously the father to the errors. Just as obviously, there are precedents for such high-profile embarrassments in the past. (Remember Dan Rather&rsquo;s &ldquo;scoop&rdquo; on George W. Bush&rsquo;s National Guard service?) But flawed reporting in the Trump era is becoming more the norm than the exception, suggesting the media have become far too willing to abandon some pretty basic journalistic standards.</p> <p><strong>Editors at top news organizations once treated anonymous sourcing as a necessary evil, a tool to be used sparingly. Now anonymous sources dominate Trump coverage.</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s not just a problem for readers, who should rightly be skeptical of information someone isn&rsquo;t willing to vouch for by name. It&rsquo;s a problem for reporters, too, because anonymous sources are less likely to be cautious and diligent in providing information. According to CNN, the sources behind the busted report on Trump Jr.&rsquo;s contact with WikiLeaks didn&rsquo;t intend to deceive and had been reliable in the past. Maybe so, but given the network&rsquo;s repeated errors it&rsquo;s difficult to just take CNN&rsquo;s word for it.</p> <p><u><strong>But it&rsquo;s one thing to use anonymous sources; it&rsquo;s quite another to be entirely trusting of them.</strong></u> CNN decided to report the contents of an email to Donald Trump Jr. based only on the say-so of two anonymous sources and without seeing the emails. &ldquo;I remember when I was [a staffer] on the Ways and Means committee and I would try and give reporters stories, and I remember the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> demanded to see a document,&rdquo; former Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer tells The Weekly Standard. &ldquo;They wouldn&rsquo;t take it from me if I didn&rsquo;t give them the document, and I thought, &lsquo;Good for them!&rsquo;&thinsp;&rdquo;</p> <p style="display: block;">What makes the botched story of the WikiLeaks email more troubling is how quickly MSNBC and CBS ran with CNN&rsquo;s scoop.<strong><em> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard to imagine how independent people could repeatedly misread a date on an email and do so for three different networks,&rdquo; says Fleischer. &ldquo;Whose eyesight is that bad?&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p style="display: block;">This points to an additional problem with the sourcing on these unfounded reports.<strong> The only way three networks could claim to have verified the same specious story is if they were all relying on the very same sources.</strong> Many of the flawed Trump reports appear to be sourced from a very narrow circle of people, who no doubt share partisan motivations or personal animus.</p> <p style="display: block;">Certainly, it appears a number of recent spurious stories have<strong><u> originated as leaks from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee</u></strong>. In Raju and Herb&rsquo;s report, they revealed that Trump Jr. had been asked about the WikiLeaks email in closed-door testimony before the committee. After CNN&rsquo;s scoop imploded, a spokesman for Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, issued a classic non-denial denial, telling <em>Politico</em> &ldquo;that neither he nor his staff leaked any &lsquo;non-public information&rsquo;&thinsp;&rdquo; about Donald Trump Jr.&rsquo;s testimony.</p> <p style="display: block;">Meanwhile,<strong> the Russia investigation has been very good for raising Schiff&rsquo;s profile. </strong>A December 13 press release from the Republican National Committee notes the congressman has at that point spent 20 hours, 44 minutes, and 49 seconds on television since Trump took office, talking mostly about the investigation (pity the low-level staffer who must have had to do the research for that release). During that time, Schiff has always declined to discuss the particulars of the intel committee&rsquo;s work. Nonetheless, consideration of <strong>his sensitive position hasn&rsquo;t stopped him from offering all manner of innuendo to national TV audiences about evidence suggesting Russia collusion.</strong></p> <p style="display: block;"><u><strong>For their part, the media don&rsquo;t seem to be coming to grips with the damage they&rsquo;re doing to their own credibility. </strong></u>CNN, which calls itself &ldquo;the most trusted name in news,&rdquo; didn&rsquo;t retract their WikiLeaks report but rewrote it in such a way as to render the story meaningless. They also came to the defense of Raju and Herb, saying the reporters acted in accordance with the network&rsquo;s editorial policies. And of course they didn&rsquo;t out their sources&mdash;the ultimate punishment news organizations can mete out to anonymous tipsters who steer them wrong.</p> <p style="display: block;">It understandably infuriates the media that President Trump remains unwilling to own up to his own glaring errors and untruths, while news organizations run correction after correction. And it also understandably upsets the media to watch the president actively attack and seek to undermine their work, which remains vital to ensuring accountability in American governance.</p> <p style="display: block;"><u><strong>What they haven&rsquo;t grasped is how perversely helpful to him they are being</strong></u>: On a very basic level, President Trump&rsquo;s repeated salvos against &ldquo;fake news&rdquo; have resonance because, well, there does indeed appear to be a lot of fake news.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p style="display: block;"><em><strong>&ldquo;There is nothing wrong with holding powerful people accountable. There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with investigating whether or not collusion took place. But there&rsquo;s a lot wrong when because you want to believe in the story so much you suspend skepticism,&rdquo; </strong></em>says Fleischer.</p> <p style="display: block;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="display: block;">&ldquo;You let your guard down. You abandon the normal filters that protect journalistic integrity. And you fail to also hold to account powerful leakers, or powerful members of Congress who themselves have an anti-Trump agenda. It&rsquo;s called putting your thumb on the scale.&rdquo;</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="788" height="367" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> ABC News American people of German descent Bush Administration Business CNN Congress Deutsche Bank Donald Trump Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Fail FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Government House Intelligence Committee Links between Trump associates and Russian officials MSNBC National Guard national security New York Times Podesta emails Politics Republican National Committee Reuters Russian government Russian intelligence Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Testimony Wall Street Journal Ways and Means Committee WikiLeaks Sun, 17 Dec 2017 00:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 609290 at