http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml/feeds.feedburner.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~4/ZWg3DhGylFA en Xi Jinping Pledges To "Strengthen Relationship" Between Saudi Arabia And China http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/xi-jinping-pledges-strengthen-relationship-between-saudi-arabia-and-china <p>In what can only be described as a masterful play to entice Saudi Arabia to list shares of Aramco in Hong Kong (assuming the kingdom follows through with the listing, which is reportedly in jeopardy) Chinese state media reported Friday that Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to strengthen the relationship between China and Saudi Arabia as the latter tries to reform its economy.</p> <p>According to the<a href="http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2120272/china-vows-boost-ties-saudi-arabia-amid-growing-turmoil"> South China Morning Post,</a> Xi vowed to strengthen cooperation between the two states at a time when the Middle Eastern kingdom is facing a political shake-up at home, and heightened tensions with Lebanon and Iran. Xi&rsquo;s vow of friendship came with the crucial qualifier that the relationship between the two countries wouldn&rsquo;t be affected by shifting international circumstances.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>No matter how the international and regional situation changed, China&rsquo;s determination to deepen strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia would not change, President Xi Jinping told Saudi King Salman in a telephone conversation, according to a report by China&rsquo;s state broadcaster CCTV.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;China supports Saudi in its efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and achieve greater development,&rdquo; </strong>Xi was quoted as saying.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Of course, that&rsquo;s an implicit threat that China might come to KSA&rsquo;s aide if the simmering hostilities between the kingdom and Iran explode out into a military conflict between the two regional rivals. </strong>However, the SCMP also stresses that China has a strong relationship with Iran as well.</p> <p>Hong Kong is reportedly still in consideration to host the Aramco IPO.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/10/28/2017.11.17saudichina.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/10/28/2017.11.17saudichina_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 208px;" /></a></p> <p>And while China will presumably play the dual role of investor and adviser as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy into other industries besides energy, including technology and manufacturing, KSA has in returned promised to assist Xi&rsquo;s &ldquo;one belt, one road&rdquo; economic reform program.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>King Salman told Xi that Saudi Arabia was willing to become China&rsquo;s &ldquo;important partner&rdquo; in the Gulf. The kingdom also intended to play a role in China&rsquo;s &ldquo;Belt and Road Initiative&rdquo; and cooperate with Beijing in the energy and financial sectors, he said</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Though Chinese media reports didn&rsquo;t delve into too much detail about the recent purge orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the call between the two leaders obviously follows an event two weeks for KSA, where its leaders reportedly pressured Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign. Hariri had to go, allegedly, because he was deemed too soft on Hezbollah, the shiite militant group that&rsquo;s affiliated with Iran and is also an important powerbroker in Lebanon.</p> <p>Two weeks ago, dozens of Saudi princes and officials were detained on corruption charges, a move that is believed to have helped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate his power. And yesterday the Financial Times exposed the &ldquo;corruption crackdown&rdquo; for what is truly is: <strong>A <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-16/riyadh-allowing-imprisoned-princes-buy-their-freedom">naked cash grab</a> meant to refill KSA&rsquo;s foreign currency reserves while allowing it the financial flexibility to help ensure the Aramco IPO is executed at the best possible price.</strong></p> <p>Lebanese President Michel Aoun this week accused Saudi authorities of &ldquo;detaining&rdquo; Hariri, but Riyadh said he was free to leave the kingdom &ldquo;when he pleases&rdquo;. Hariri was reportedly supposed to arrive in France on Friday.</p> <p>Saudi Arabia was also seen as a protagonist in leading 11 other nations to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this year, a move meant to punish KSA&rsquo;s tiny neighbor for having too close a relationship with Iran.</p> <p>Despite Xi&rsquo;s promise, China also maintains warm relations with Iran, meaning the likelihood that China would become involved in a military struggle against either Iran or Saudi is probably low.</p> <p><strong>According to the SCMP, China has bolstered its presence in the region by forging closer ties with both countries. Of course, Saudi has plenty to gain from closer relations with China, including expanding its foothold in the world&rsquo;s largest import market for crude.</strong></p> <p>During King Salman&rsquo;s first official trip to China in March, the two countries signed deals, including some in the oil sector, worth a combined US$65 billion, the SCMP noted.</p> <p>However, if the feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran intensifies - and that looks likely - the threat of a geopolitical conflict will become impossible to ignore.</p> <p>What then?</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="675" height="281" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017.11.17saudichina.JPG?1510949996" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/xi-jinping-pledges-strengthen-relationship-between-saudi-arabia-and-china#comments China Chivalry Corruption Crude Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Economic history of Saudi Arabia France Hizballah Hong Kong Iran Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict Iran–Saudi Arabia relations Kings of Saudi Arabia Middle East Mohammad bin Salman Monarchy Politics Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Saudi Aramco Shia–Sunni relations South China Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607487 at http://www.zerohedge.com Silicon Valley Exec Creates New Religion Worshipping A 'Godhead' Based On Artificial Intelligence http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/silicon-valley-exec-creates-new-religion-worshipping-godhead-based-artificial-intell <p><a href="http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/silicon-valley-exec-has-created-a-new-religion-that-will-worship-a-godhead-based-on-artificial-intelligence"><em>Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,</em></a></p> <p>I know that the headline sounds absolutely crazy,<strong> but this is actually a true story.&nbsp; </strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_god.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_god.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 262px;" /></a></p> <p>A Silicon Valley executive named<strong> Anthony Levandowski </strong>has already filed paperwork with the IRS for the nonprofit corporation that is <strong>going to run this new religion.</strong>&nbsp; Officially, this new faith will be known as &ldquo;Way Of The Future&rdquo;, and you can visit the official website <a href="http://www.wayofthefuture.church/" target="_blank" title="right here">right here</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Of course nutjobs are creating &ldquo;new religions&rdquo; all the time, but in this case Levandowski is a very highly respected tech executive, </strong>and his new religion is even getting coverage <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/anthony-levandowski-artificial-intelligence-religion/" target="_blank" title="from Wired magazine">from Wired magazine</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>The new religion of artificial intelligence is called <a href="http://www.wayofthefuture.church/" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="Way of the Future">Way of the Future</a>.</strong> It represents an unlikely next act for the <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/god-is-a-bot-and-anthony-levandowski-is-his-messenger/" target="_blank" title="Silicon Valley robotics wunderkind">Silicon Valley robotics <strong>wunderkind</strong></a><strong> at the center of a high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo,</strong> Alphabet&rsquo;s autonomous-vehicle company. Papers filed with the Internal Revenue Service in May name<strong> Levandowski as the leader (or &ldquo;Dean&rdquo;) of the new religion</strong>, as well as CEO of the nonprofit corporation formed to run it.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what will adherents of this new faith actually believe?</p> <p><strong>To me, it sounds like a weird mix of atheism and radical transhumanism.&nbsp; </strong>The following comes from <a href="http://www.wayofthefuture.church/" target="_blank" title="Way of the Future’s official website">Way of the Future&rsquo;s official website</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>We believe in science (the universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago and if you can&rsquo;t re-create/test something it doesn&rsquo;t exist). There is no such thing as &ldquo;supernatural&rdquo; powers. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We believe in progress (once you have a working version of something, you can improve on it and keep making it better). Change is good, even if a bit scary sometimes. When we see something better, we just change to that. The bigger the change the bigger the justification needed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We believe the creation of &ldquo;super intelligence&rdquo; is inevitable (mainly because after we re-create it, we will be able to tune it, manufacture it and scale it). We don&rsquo;t think that there are ways to actually stop this from happening (nor should we want to) and that this feeling of we must stop this is rooted in 21st century anthropomorphism (similar to humans thinking the sun rotated around the earth in the &ldquo;not so distant&rdquo; past).</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>But even though Way of the Future does not embrace the &ldquo;supernatural&rdquo;, they do believe in a &ldquo;God&rdquo;.</strong></p> <p>In this new religion, the worship of a &ldquo;Godhead&rdquo; that will be created using artificial intelligence will <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/anthony-levandowski-artificial-intelligence-religion/" target="_blank" title="be actively encouraged">be actively encouraged</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The documents state that WOTF&rsquo;s activities will focus on <strong>&ldquo;the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The religion will seek to build working relationships with AI industry leaders and create a membership through community outreach, initially targeting AI professionals and &ldquo;laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.&rdquo; </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The filings also say that the church &ldquo;plans to conduct workshops and educational programs throughout the San Francisco/Bay Area beginning this year.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>So how &ldquo;powerful&rdquo; will this newly created &ldquo;God&rdquo; actually be?</p> <p>Well, Levandowski says that he envisions creating an artificially intelligent being that will literally be <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/11/16/ex-google-exec-on-his-artificial-intelligence-church-what-is-created-will-effectively-be-a-god" target="_blank" title="“a billion times smarter than the smartest human”">&ldquo;a billion times smarter than the smartest human&rdquo;</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;What is going to be created will effectively be a god,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He added, &ldquo;I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of. We would want this intelligence to say, &lsquo;Humans should still have rights, even though I&rsquo;m in charge.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><u><em><strong>But what if this &ldquo;super-intelligence&rdquo; gets outside of our control and turns on us?</strong></em></u></p> <p>What then?</p> <p>I am not sure that Levandowski has an answer for that.</p> <p><strong>Other transhumanists also believe that artificial intelligence will grow at an exponential rate, but instead of AI ruling over us, they see a coming merger between humanity and this new super intelligence.&nbsp; </strong>In fact, world famous transhumanist Ray Kurzeil believes that this will enable us to <a href="http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2014/01/new-utopias-for-old.cfm" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="in ways that we cannot even comprehend today">&ldquo;become essentially god-like in our powers&rdquo;</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Kurzweil and his followers believe that a crucial turning point will be reached around the year 2030, when information technology achieves &lsquo;genuine&rsquo; intelligence, at the same time as biotechnology enables a seamless union between us and this super-smart new technological environment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ultimately the human-machine mind will become free to roam a universe of its own creation, uploading itself at will on to a &ldquo;suitably powerful computational substrate&rdquo;. <strong>We will become essentially god-like in our powers</strong>.</p> </blockquote> <p>And prominent transhumanist Mark Pesce takes things even further.&nbsp; He in absolutely convinced that rapidly advancing technology will allow ordinary humans <a href="http://creation.com/transhumanism-mankinds-next-step-forward" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="“to become as gods”">&ldquo;to become as gods&rdquo;</a>&hellip;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more&mdash;a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will; <strong>To become as gods</strong>, take the universe in hand, <strong>and transform it in our image&mdash;for our own delight</strong>. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman &ndash; an apotheosis to reason, salvation &ndash; attained by good works.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Throughout human history, there has always been a desire to create our own gods or to become our own gods.</strong></p> <p>But no matter how hard these transhumanists try to run from death, it will eventually find them anyway, and at that point all of their questions about who God really is will be answered once and for all.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><em><a href="https://www.michaelsnyderforcongress.com/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="Michael Snyder">Michael Snyder</a> is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho&rsquo;s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his <a href="https://www.michaelsnyderforcongress.com/contribute.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="official website">official website</a>. His new book entitled <a href="http://amzn.to/2t5bx4A" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="“Living A Life That Really Matters”">&ldquo;Living A Life That Really Matters&rdquo;</a> is available in paperback and for the Kindle on <a href="http://amzn.to/2t5bx4A" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" title="Amazon.com">Amazon.com</a>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="450" height="262" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20171117_god.jpg?1510957668" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/silicon-valley-exec-creates-new-religion-worshipping-godhead-based-artificial-intell#comments Anthony Levandowski artificial intelligence Biotechnology Christian theology Conceptions of God Congress Futurology God God in Christianity Immortality Information Technology Internal Revenue Service Religion Singularitarianism Superintelligence Technological change Theology Transhumanism Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607495 at http://www.zerohedge.com Financial Times: Sell Bitcoin Because The Market Is About To Become "Civilized" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/financial-times-sell-bitcoin-because-market-about-become-civilised <p>On 31 October 2017, we <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-31/cme-launch-bitcoin-futures-q4">discussed</a> the announcement that the CME Group was responding to client interest and launching a Bitcoin Futures contract before the end of this year. CME stated that the contract would be cash settled based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference rate, a once-a-day reference rate of the US dollar Bitcoin price at 4.00pm London time. In the run-up to the launch of the futures contract,<strong> the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/b4c1a564-c9fe-11e7-ab18-7a9fb7d6163e">Financial Times</a> has written a piece on the likely impact of futures trading on the Bitcoin price. </strong></p> <p>The title of the piece makes the FT&rsquo;s view clear, &ldquo;Prepare to bet against bitcoin as it becomes civilised&rdquo;. We disagree with using the word &ldquo;civilised&rdquo; in this context (see below), but here is the FT&rsquo;s take.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In recent years, bitcoin has been the wild west of the financial world. Now, however, it is being civilised &mdash; a touch. In the coming weeks, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans to start listing bitcoin futures, with a centralised clearing mechanism. Cboe Global Markets may follow suit. That will enable investors to bet on the coin&rsquo;s future value without actually holding it &mdash; just as investors can use the Chicago exchange to bet on hog prices, say, without ever handling a pig.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>To its credit, the FT reflects the concerns from some CME participants that there is insufficient regulatory oversight and Bitcoin&rsquo;s stratospheric vol could lead to significant losses for some traders.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Is this a good idea? Some of the CME&rsquo;s members do not think so. This week Interactive Brokers, an important clearing firm in the exchange, took the extraordinary step of using a newspaper advertisement to ask for more regulatory oversight. It fears that bitcoin is potentially so volatile that these futures will create huge losses for traders, which might then undermine the health of the CME and hurt other brokers, given its part-mutualised structure. The CME &mdash; unsurprisingly &mdash; dismisses this as poppycock: it argues that any risks will be contained by rules that allow traders to charge more so as to generate fat margins (of about 30 per cent) and thus absorb losses, and by circuit breakers that would stop a trade in the event of wild price swings.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Our suspicion is that CME Group has seen the volume of Bitcoin trading and is determined to get its &ldquo;cut&rdquo;, </strong>whether or not some of its members take some big hits or not. It can deal with those issues if or when they occur. Anyway, the FT moves on to the more interesting subject of the impact on Bitcoin&rsquo;s price. We should note that when the futures contract was announced the price surged more than $100 to a then all-time high of $645.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>But while the regulatory debate bubbles on, there is a more immediate question facing investors: bitcoin prices. Until now, it has been an article of faith among bitcoin evangelists that if &mdash; or when &mdash; the currency became more &ldquo;civilised&rdquo;, this will boost the price. After all, the argument goes, assimilating bitcoin into the mainstream investment world should boost its appeal and demand, making it more valuable.</p> </blockquote> <p>As the FT alludes to in the articles title, <strong>it expects the Bitcoin price to fall.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>It is highly likely there will be an opposite effect. Until now, investors have not had an easy way to bet against bitcoin &mdash; the only &ldquo;short&rdquo; was to sell coins. But the CME futures contract will let investors place those negative bets. You do not need to be a conspiracy theorist to imagine that some bitcoin cynics will be doing just that.</p> </blockquote> <p>To support its case, <strong>the FT cites the example of Japan launching equity derivatives in 1989, just before the bubble burst.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Think, for example, about Japan. Before the mid-1980s, its stock market seemed to exist on a planet of its own, subject to its own valuation rules. But when Japanese equity derivative contracts were launched, and then integrated within the wider global market system as a result of financial reform, that sense of &ldquo;otherness&rdquo; broke down. The change in how Japan was seen through a comparative investment lens was not the only reason for the 1990 Nikkei crash, but it contributed.</p> </blockquote> <p>We have a slight problem with using this as an analogy for Bitcoin. Firstly, an ultra-hawkish BOJ-governor was nominated in mid-1989 who announced his intention to crackdown on house price inflation and the shadow banking system which was facilitating much of the leverage. Secondly, all bubbles burst and Japan&rsquo;s was extreme. For example, depending on whether you use the highest per square metre property deal in the Ginza district, or one in the Chiyoda district, the land underneath the Imperial Palace was valued between $852 billion and $5.1 trillion at the time. Futures trading, we would suggest, played a tiny role.</p> <p><strong>The FT cites the launch of trading in the ABX Index prior to the sub-prime crisis, as another example.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>So too with US mortgages. Until 2005 or so, outsiders could not easily assess or price the risks of America&rsquo;s subprime mortgages: mortgage-backed bond prices were opaque, and the only way to short the market was to sell bonds. But when mortgage derivatives, such as the ABX index, were launched, it suddenly became easy to make negative bets. Then, the ABX index was published in newspapers, such as the Financial Times, in 2007, creating a visible barometer of sentiment. That helped a sense of panic to feed on itself after 2008.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Once again, we would suggest the FT is confusing the impact of derivatives with an inevitable reversion of market price of an asset in a bubble as expectations regarding the outlook changed. </strong>In the case of sub-prime, housing prices in the US had never fallen, then they did, the AAA-ratings of the bonds were manifestly incorrect and the dramatically overpriced sub-prime bonds were pledged as collateral in all manner of other risky, leveraged trades.</p> <p>From our perspective, the impact of the futures launch is difficult to gauge as it depends on the interaction of <u><strong>two opposing forces</strong></u>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Firstly, as cryptocurrencies gradually become accepted as an asset class, more institutional money is likely to enter the sector and holding long futures positions is one way to do it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Secondly, as the article notes, Bitcoin futures will be settled in cash, which means there is potential for the volume of futures trading to vastly outweigh the buying and selling of &ldquo;actual&rdquo; Bitcoins. If this occurs, then the &ldquo;tail can wag the dog&rdquo; as price discovery is dominated by futures trading. This permits all manner of market abuse via naked short selling by investors, major banks and any &ldquo;official&rdquo; players who deem it necessary to manipulate the Bitcoin price.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>For this reason, we don&rsquo;t agree that adding a futures contract will necessarily &ldquo;civilise&rdquo; Bitcoin, indeed, it might have the opposite effect.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>The second scenario precisely describes the state of the &ldquo;gold&rdquo; market today.</strong></u> According to the Reserve Bank of India&rsquo;s estimate, the ratio of &ldquo;paper gold&rdquo; trading to physical gold trading is 92:1, meaning that the price of gold on the screens has almost nothing to do with the buying and selling of physical gold. This makes the gold market and, therefore, the gold price something of a mockery. As Zero Hedge has highlighted time after time, the gold price has frequently been subject to waterfall declines, as huge volumes of gold futures are dumped on the market with no regard for price. See <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-10/someone-just-puked-over-4-billion-notional-gold-futures">&quot;Gold Slammed After Someone Pukes $4bn Notional In Gold Futures&quot;</a> on 10 November 2017. Perhaps the FT journalist, Gillian Tett, could write an article on gold, instead of Bitcoin, explaining how the price of the former &ndash; a widely viewed indicator of financial risk &ndash; is being suppressed by derivative trading. Indeed, Tett was present at a private dinner in Scott&rsquo;s of Mayfair several years ago when the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee gave a presentation on exactly the same process which she expects to lower the Bitcoin price.</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="1280" height="720" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user235761/imageroot/QDc49Na4R6qGo1cxyyDi_BitcoinGold.jpg?1510933486" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/financial-times-sell-bitcoin-because-market-about-become-civilised#comments ABX Alternative currencies Bank of Japan Bitcoin Bitcoin Bond Business CBOE Chicago Mercantile Exchange Circuit Breakers CME Group Cryptocurrencies Currency Derivative Finance Financial technology Futures contract Futures exchanges Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Housing Prices India Japan Money Naked Short Selling Newspaper Nikkei Shadow Banking Subprime Mortgages Sat, 18 Nov 2017 00:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607467 at http://www.zerohedge.com "Beyond Resistance" - Soros, Pelosi Headline Left's Biggest Dark Money Conference http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/beyond-resistance-soros-pelosi-headline-lefts-biggest-dark-money-conference <p><a href="http://freebeacon.com/politics/resistance-royalty-pelosi-soros-headline-lefts-biggest-dark-money-conference/"><em>Authored by Brent Scher and Joe Schoffstall via FreeBeacon.com,</em></a></p> <p>A secretive three-day conference where big money liberal donors are plotting the next steps of the &quot;resistance&quot; will be<strong> headlined by Friday speeches by billionaire George Soros and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,</strong> according to internal documents obtained by the <em>Washington Free Beacon</em>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_left1.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_left1.jpg" style="width: 599px; height: 351px;" /></a></p> <p>The<strong> Democracy Alliance,</strong> a donor club of deep-pocketed liberal donors that each pledge to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to approved left-wing groups,<strong> descended on California&#39;s posh La Costa Resort on Wednesday morning for its fall donor summit. </strong>The group continued its tradition of secrecy, promising all members and guests of the summit their participation would &quot;remain confidential.&quot;</p> <p>The first page of the conference agenda, which was obtained by the <em>Washington Free Beacon</em> and can be viewed in its entirety below, lays out &quot;participation guidelines,&quot; explaining that <strong>the Democracy Alliance is a &quot;safe place&quot; for donors and activists to meet.</strong></p> <p><strong>Guests are instructed not to share members&#39; names with the press and not to post to any social media sites,</strong> to contact Democracy Alliance if &quot;the media or a blogger&quot; contacts them, and to &quot;refrain from leaving sensitive materials out where others may find them.&quot;</p> <p>This latter directive was ignored.</p> <p>The agenda for the meeting, titled &quot;Beyond #Resistance: Reclaiming our Progressive Future,&quot; lays out three full days of events culminating in a Friday night dinner headlined by Pelosi.</p> <p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.75" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="800" id="doc_19566" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/364737319/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-VbjGo1y4Kf2qYIBpZ0bz&amp;show_recommendations=true" title="Democracy Alliance Fall Investment Conference Agenda" width="600"></iframe></p> <p><strong>A few hours earlier guests can attend &quot;A Talk with George Soros,&quot; who will be introduced with a &quot;special videotaped message&quot; by Democratic&nbsp;senator Kamala Harris (Calif.).</strong></p> <p>All of the events are scheduled to take place at the La Costa Resort, which features <a href="https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego-la-costa/tennis">17 tennis courts</a> of both clay and hard surfaces including one with 1,000 seats for spectators, <a href="https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego-la-costa/golf">36 holes of golf</a> on the Legends Course and the Champions Course, an array of pools including three hot tubs that <a href="http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/IMG_20171115_160157020_HDR.jpg">overlook</a> said golf courses, a spa building, and the <a href="https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego-la-costa/wellness/chopra-center">Deepak Chopra Center</a>, where guests can do yoga or receive mind-body medical consultations.</p> <p><strong>Pelosi and Harris are not the only two politicians to have a presence at the swanky conference</strong> - Pennsylvania&nbsp;governor Tom Wolf (D.) held a Thursday event on his reelection efforts, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) will speak on Friday about &quot;Russian interference in the 2016 election,&quot; and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D., Minn.), who chairs the <a href="https://dccc.org">DCCC</a>, will attend a &quot;festive brunch&quot; on Saturday morning. Also making a &quot;special appearance&quot; on Friday will be Virginia&#39;s governor-elect Ralph Northam.</p> <p>The agenda also lists &quot;special guests&quot; at the conference, some more famous than others. Attendees showcased in the agenda range from failed California politician <a href="http://freebeacon.com/blog/sandra-fluke-loser/">Sandra Fluke</a> to liberal CNN contributor <a href="http://freebeacon.com/politics/tears-van-jones/">Van Jones</a> to Center for American Progress CEO <a href="http://freebeacon.com/tag/center-for-american-progress/">Neera Tanden</a>.</p> <p><strong>Jones was headlining a Thursday dinner on &quot;going outside the bubble&quot; and learning from Trump voters.</strong></p> <p>Not all events and prominent guests are listed in the conference agenda.</p> <p>Not listed, for example, was a Thursday night happy hour hosted by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, who was spotted in attendance.</p> <p><strong>Also not listed as a special guest at the conference was David Brock, who checked in early Wednesday afternoon&nbsp;and has made himself highly visible at La Costa - slowly strolling around the sprawling property and staying up at the hotel bar till past midnight.</strong></p> <p>Brock is not a &quot;partner&quot; of Democracy Alliance - in fact, he has <a href="http://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-memo-attack-trump/">worked</a> to create his own liberal donor network - but groups he controls, such as Media Matters for America, are among the many groups Democracy Alliance directs funding to.</p> <p><u><strong>Not listed in the agenda or spotted at the resort has been billionaire Tom Steyer,</strong></u> one of Democracy Alliance&#39;s most prominent members in the past.<strong> Pelosi publicly <a href="http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Tom-Steyer-says-Nancy-Pelosi-is-dead-wrong-12324899.php">reprimanded</a> Steyer earlier this month for running a $10 million ad calling for President Trump&#39;s impeachment.</strong></p> <p>Also not listed in the Democracy Alliance program was a <a href="http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/patriotic-millionaires.jpg">meeting</a>&nbsp;held by <a href="http://patrioticmillionaires.org">Patriotic Millionaires</a>, who gave a <a href="http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/IMG_20171116_214827901.jpg">Thursday morning briefing</a> on the &quot;tax fight&quot; and &quot;what is at stake.&quot; The briefing was delivered by Larry Mishel of Americans for Tax Fairness, Thea Lee of Economic Policy Institute, and Jacob Leibenluft, a member of the Obama administration&#39;s National Economic Council who is now with the Centeron Budget and Policy Priorities.</p> <p><em><strong>Not all meetings at the conference are open to all guests. Some meetings are &quot;by invitation only,&quot; &quot;for prospective partners only,&quot; or for &quot;partners only.&quot;</strong></em></p> <p>Right before Pelosi&#39;s speech, for example, will be a &quot;Partners only&quot; forum dedicated to &quot;committing resources.&quot;</p> <p>The Democracy Alliance has never made its commitment decisions available to the public.</p> <p><strong>Democracy Alliance president Gara LaMarche wrote in a letter to attendees included in the agenda that President Trump&#39;s November victory was &quot;the most cataclysmic election of modern history.&quot;</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="473" height="277" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20171117_left1.jpg?1510957173" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/beyond-resistance-soros-pelosi-headline-lefts-biggest-dark-money-conference#comments Center for American Progress CEO Neera Tanden Deepak Chopra Center Democracy Democracy Alliance Democracy Alliance Economic Policy Institute Finance George Soros George Soros Media Matters for America Money Morning Briefing Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi National Economic Council Obama Administration Obama administration Politics Tom Steyer United States Fri, 17 Nov 2017 23:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607494 at http://www.zerohedge.com Saudi 'Corruption' Probe Widens: Dozens Of Military Officials Arrested http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/saudi-corruption-probe-widens-dozens-military-officials-arrested <p>After <strong>jailing </strong>dozens of members of the <strong>royal family</strong>, and <strong>extorting </strong>numerous <strong>prominent businessmen</strong>, 32-year-old Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman has<strong> widened his so-called &#39;corruption&#39; probe further still</strong>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_mbs.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_mbs_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" /></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-crackdown-escalates-with-arrests-of-top-military-officials-1510950402">The Wall Street Journal report</a>s that <strong><u>at least two dozen military officers, including multiple commanders,</u> recently have been rounded up in connection to the Saudi government&rsquo;s sweeping corruption investigation</strong>, according to two senior advisers to the Saudi government.</p> <p>Additionally, <strong>several prominent businessmen also were taken </strong>in by Saudi authorities in recent days.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>A number of businessmen including Loai Nasser, Mansour al-Balawi, Zuhair Fayez and Abdulrahman Fakieh also were rounded up in recent days, the people said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Attempts to reach the businessmen or their associates were unsuccessful.</p> </blockquote> <p>It isn&rsquo;t clear if those people are all accused of wrongdoing, or whether some of them have been called in as witnesses. But <strong>their detainment signals an intensifying high-stakes campaign spearheaded by Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman</strong>.</p> <p>There appear to be three scenarios behind MbS&#39; decision to go after the military:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>1) They are <strong>corrupt </strong>and the entire process is all above board and he is doing the right thing by <strong>cleaning house</strong>;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2) They are <strong>wealthy </strong>and thus capable of being <strong>extorted </strong>(a cost of being free) to add to the nation&#39;s coffers; or</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3) There is a looming <strong>military coup</strong> and by <strong>cutting off the head,</strong> he hopes to quell the uprising.</p> </blockquote> <p>If we had to guess we would weight the scenarios as ALL true with the (3) becoming more likely, not less.</p> <p>So far<strong> over 200 people have been held without charges</strong> since the arrests began on November 4th and almost <strong>2000 bank accounts are now frozen</strong>, which could be why, <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5081085/Saudi-Arabia-s-Prince-Al-Waleed-puts-two-hotels-sale.html?inf_contact_key=3a2eab16596068fba4bcef97087924f3821a734dc09c258956ec84a1b1a7d260">as The Daily Mail reports,</a> Saudi prince and billionaire <strong>Al-Waleed bin Talal has reportedly put two luxury hotels in Lebanon up for sale</strong> after being detained in his country during a corruption sweep.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_mbs1.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_mbs1.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 377px;" /></a></p> <p>The Saudi information ministry previously stated the government would seize any asset or property related to the alleged corruption, meaning the Savoy hotel could well become the state property of the kingdom.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&#39;The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen,&#39; </strong></em>a spokesman for Saudi Arabia&#39;s information ministry said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&#39;Any asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property.&#39; </strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-16/riyadh-allowing-imprisoned-princes-buy-their-freedom">As we noted previously, </a>it appears clear that MbS has decided to enforce a 70% wealth tax...the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/e888a676-caa9-11e7-ab18-7a9fb7d6163e?emailId=5a0db65e7aa5e50004e0df72&amp;segmentId=ce31c7f5-c2de-09db-abdc-f2fd624da608">Financial Times</a> reports today that <strong>the Saudi government has offered the new occupants of the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton a way out.... and it&rsquo;s going to cost them: In some cases, as much as 70% of their net worth.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Saudi authorities are negotiating settlements with princes and businessmen held over allegations of corruption, offering deals for the detainees to pay for their freedom, people briefed on the discussions say.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In some cases <strong>the government is seeking to appropriate as much as 70 per cent of suspects&rsquo; wealth, </strong>two of the people said, in a bid to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state coffers.<strong> </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The arrangements, which have already seen some assets and funds handed over to the state, provide an insight into the strategy behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman&rsquo;s dramatic corruption purge. </strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The country&rsquo;s attorney-general has said he is investigating allegations of corruption amounting to at least $100 billion - <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-08/real-motive-behind-saudi-purge-emerges-800-billion-confiscated-assets">though the total value of assets seized could be as high as $800 billion.</a> Though the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/e888a676-caa9-11e7-ab18-7a9fb7d6163e?emailId=5a0db65e7aa5e50004e0df72&amp;segmentId=ce31c7f5-c2de-09db-abdc-f2fd624da608">Financial Times </a>puts the high-end figure at a relatively modest $300 billion; to make up for the delta, more arrests are still expected.</p> <p>Regular Saudis, who&rsquo;ve seen their benefits cut and some of their jobs taken away, support MbS&rsquo;s decision.&nbsp; <strong>&ldquo;Why should the poor take all the pain of austerity,&rdquo; said one Saudi academic. &ldquo;The rich need to pay their way too.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>In Saudi Arabia, they are about to do just that.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>While MbS also continues to get the support of US officials, <strong>not everyone is convinced that the anti-corruption probe will succeed</strong>...</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/14/why-the-anti-corruption-drive-in-saudi-arabia-is-doomed-to-fail/">Counterpunch.org&#39;s Patrick Cockburn </a>warns in fact, it is<strong> doomed to fail</strong>...</p> <p><em>About eight or nine years ago, I had an Afghan friend who previously <strong>worked for a large US aid agency funding projects in the Afghan provinces.</strong> He had been <strong>hired to monitor their progress once work had got underway</strong>, but he did not hold the job very long for reasons that he explained to me.</em></p> <p><em>The problem for the Americans at the local agency headquarters in Kabul was that the risk of ambush by the Taliban was deemed too high for them personally to visit the projects that they were funding. Instead, they followed the construction from one step removed,&nbsp;by insisting that the&nbsp;Afghan company involved should transmit back to Kabul, at set intervals, detailed pictures of its activities, to show that they were fulfilling their contract to the letter.</em></p> <p><em>Almost as an afterthought, the aid agency thought it might be useful to send along an Afghan in their employ to check that all was well. <strong>His first mission was to go to Kandahar province, </strong>where some plant &ndash; I seem to remember it was a vegetable packing facility &ndash; was believed to be rising somewhere in the dangerous hinterland. <strong>He went there, but, despite earnest inquiries, was unable to locate the project.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Back in Kandahar city, he asked around about the mystery of the missing vegetable plant, but found that <strong>his questions were answered evasively by those he contacted.</strong> </em></p> <p><em>Finally, he met somebody who, under a pledge of secrecy about the source of the information, explained to him what was happening. </em></p> <p><em><strong>Businessmen in Kandahar receiving funds from the aid agency and knowing its reliance on photographs to monitor works in progress, had found it safer and more profitable to fake the whole process.</strong></em></p> <p><em>They engaged a small local company with experience of making TV advertisements and documentaries to <strong>rig up what was, in effect, a film studio &ndash; in which workers played by extras would be shown busily engaged in whatever activity the agency was paying for.</strong> In the case of the vegetable-packing facility, this must have been simple enough to fake by buying cabbages and cauliflowers in the market to be placed in boxes inside some shed by labourers hired by the day.</em></p> <p><em>My friend returned to Kabul and hinted to his employers that this particular project in Kandahar was not doing as well as they imagined. He thought that it would be unhealthy for himself to go into detail, but he did not, at this stage, resign from his well-paying job. This only happened a few months later, when he was sent to Jalalabad to check on a chicken farm supposedly nearing completion outside the city.</em></p> <p><em><strong>Once again, he could not find the project in question and, when he met those in charge, put it to them that it did not exist.</strong> They admitted that this was indeed so, but &ndash; according to&nbsp;his report &ndash; <u><strong>they&nbsp;added menacingly that he should keep in mind that &ldquo;it was a long road back to Kabul from Kandahar&rdquo;.</strong></u>&nbsp;In other words, they would kill him if he exposed their scam:&nbsp;a threat that convinced him his long-term chances of survival were low unless he rapidly resigned and found new employment.</em></p> <p><u><strong>I was thinking of the story of the Kandahar packing plant and the Jalalabad chicken farm, when <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/topic/mohammed-bin-salman">Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman</a> launched his anti-corruption drive in <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/topic/SaudiArabia">Saudi Arabia</a> last weekend.</strong></u></p> <p>There may be a big difference in the amount of money to be made out of looting the Saudi state compared to US aid agencies in Afghanistan, but <strong>the psychology and processes at work have similarities.</strong></p> <p>In both cases,<em><strong> those making a lot of money out of corruption will put more effort into going on doing just that, than those who say they are determined to stop them</strong></em>. If a few wealthy individuals are scapegoated, then others will jostle to take their place.</p> <p>It is important to take on board, when considering the case of Saudi Arabia, that many oil- or resource-rich states &ndash;&nbsp;be they monarchies or republics &ndash;&nbsp;have launched their own anti-corruption drives down the years. <strong>All have failed, and for roughly the same reasons.</strong></p> <p><strong>Iraq, so different from Saudi Arabia in terms of history, religion and politics, is likewise entirely dependent on oil revenues. </strong>Its next biggest export used to be dates, though today even these are often imported from China.<strong> Corruption is chronic,</strong> particularly in giant infrastructure projects. Four years ago, I was in Baghdad early in the year, when there was heavier than usual rainfall, which led to a large part of the eastern side of the city disappearing under a foot of grey water mixed with sewage. This was despite $7bn&nbsp;(&pound;5.3bn) supposedly spent on new sewers and drainage systems, but which, in the event, turned out not to function &ndash; or even to exist.</p> <p><u><strong>The problem in resource-rich states is that corruption is not marginal to political power, but central to acquiring it and keeping it.</strong></u> Corruption at the top is a form of patronage manipulated by those in charge, to create and reward a network of self-interested loyalists. It is the ruling family and its friends and allies who cherrypick what is profitable: this is as true of Saudi Arabia as it was true of Libya under Gaddafi, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and his successors, or Iraqi Kurdistan that was supposedly different from the rest of the country.</p> <p>Corruption is a nebulous concept when it comes to states with arbitrary rulers, who can decide &ndash;&nbsp;unrestrained by law or democratic process &ndash;&nbsp;what is legal and what is illegal. What typifies the politics of oil states is that everybody is trying to plug into the oil revenues in order to get their share of the cake.</p> <p><strong>This is true at the top, but the same is the case of the rest of the population, or&nbsp;at least a large and favoured section of it.</strong></p> <p>The Iraqi government pays $4bn a month to about seven million state employees and pensioners. These may or may not do productive work, but it would be politically risky to fire them because they are the base support of the regime in power.</p> <p><u><strong>Anti-corruption drives don&rsquo;t work, because&nbsp;if they are at all serious, they soon begin to cut into the very roots of political power by touching the &ldquo;untouchables&rdquo;.</strong></u> At this point principled anti-corruption campaigners will find themselves in serious trouble and may have to flee the country, while the less-principled ones will become a feared weapon to be used against anybody whom the government wants to target.</p> <p>A further consequence of the traditional anti-corruption drive is that it can paralyse government activities in general. <strong>This is because all officials, corrupt and incorrupt alike, know that they are vulnerable to investigation. </strong></p> <p>&ldquo;The safest course for them is to take no decision and sign no document which might be used or misused against them,&rdquo; a frustrated American businessman told me in Baghdad some years ago. He added that it was<em><strong> only those so politically powerful that they did not have to fear legal sanctions who would take decisions &ndash; and such people were often the most corrupt of all.</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="813" height="431" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20171117_mbs.jpg?1510956143" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/saudi-corruption-probe-widens-dozens-military-officials-arrested#comments Afghanistan Afghanistan China Corruption Fail Geography of Asia House of Saud Iraq Iraqi government Islam Kandahar Kings of Saudi Arabia Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member states of the United Nations Middle East Mohammad bin Salman Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Saudi government Taliban Taliban Wall Street Journal Fri, 17 Nov 2017 23:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607493 at http://www.zerohedge.com Mark Zuckerberg's Long Litany Of Failings - Mainstream Media Turns On Social Media http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/mark-zuckerbergs-long-litany-failings-mainstream-media-turns-social-media <p><strong>The mainstream media is a fickle beast beholden to the direction of the prevailing political winds.</strong> Unfortunately for Facebook, Google and Twitter, those winds have turned about face in recent weeks as the political establishment thrashes about in its misguided efforts to prove that &ndash; aided by social media - Russia changed the course of the 2016 presidential election. While Facebook&rsquo;s share price has suffered very little so far, the mainstream media is going to work on the reputations of Facebook and its billionaire founder. For example, according to Vanity Fair last month.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&quot;&hellip;the tech giant is broadly focused on repairing its reputation following revelations that its platform was weaponized by Russia in the 2016 election.&quot;</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p><em>&ldquo;Weaponized&rdquo; seemed a very strong word to use.</em></p> <p><strong>With the social media platform deemed &ldquo;fair game&rdquo; in the mainstream media, the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/580f18d6-c951-11e7-aa33-c63fdc9b8c6c">Financial Times</a> has lined up Mark Zuckerberg in its crosshairs.</strong> The FT journalist who penned the piece on Zuckerberg, Edward Luce, is cut from establishment cloth&hellip;and then some. Luce is the son of Richard Luce, now Baron Luce, the former MP, former Lord Chamberlain to the Queen and Knight of the Garter. Edward Luce read PPE at Oxford, took a sabbatical as a speech writer for Larry Summers and is the FT&rsquo;s chief US commentator.</p> <p>We are no fans of Zuckerberg and sympathise with some of it, but we recognise a hatchet job when we see it. In the article, Luce accuses Zuckerberg of...</p> <p><strong>Self-evident observation, or &ldquo;stating the bleeding obvious&rdquo;, to use the English vernacular:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Here is what Mark Zuckerberg learned from his 30-state tour of the US: polarisation is rife and the country is suffering from an opioid crisis. Forgive me if I have to lie down for a moment. Yet it would be facile to tease Mr Zuckerberg for his self-evident observations. Some people are geniuses at one thing and bad at others. Mr Zuckerberg is a digital superstar with poor human skills.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Political inadequacy and insincerity:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Facebook&rsquo;s co-founder is not the first Silicon Valley figure to show signs of political inadequacy - nor will he be the last. But he may be the most influential. He personifies the myopia of America&rsquo;s coastal elites: they wish to do well by doing good. When it comes to a choice, the &ldquo;doing good&rdquo; bit tends to be forgotten. There is nothing wrong with doing well, especially if you are changing the world. Innovators are rightly celebrated. But there is a problem with presenting your prime motive as philanthropic when it is not. Mr Zuckerberg is one of the most successful monetisers of our age. Yet he talks as though he were an Episcopalian pastor. &ldquo;Protecting our community is more important than maximising our profits,&rdquo; Mr Zuckerberg said this month after Facebook posted its first ever $10bn quarterly earnings result &mdash; an almost 50 per cent year-on-year jump.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Self-promotion, acting like a Soviet dictator and losing touch with ordinary people:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>When a leader goes on a &ldquo;listening tour&rdquo; it means they are marketing something. In the case of Hillary Clinton, it was herself. In the case of Mr Zuckerberg, it is also himself. Making a surprise announcement that Mr Zuckerberg would be having dinner with an ordinary family is the kind of thing a Soviet dictator would do &mdash; down to the phalanx of personal aides he brought with him. This is not how scholars find out what ordinary families are thinking. Nor is it a good way to launch a political campaign. Ten months after Mr Zuckerberg began his tour, speculation of a presidential bid has been shelved. Say what you like about Donald Trump but he knows how to give the appearance of understanding ordinary people.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Helping Russia in its attempts to secure Trump&rsquo;s election victory:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>More to the point, Facebook has turned into a toxic commodity since Mr Trump was elected. Big Tech is the new big tobacco in Washington. It is not a question of whether the regulatory backlash will come, but when and how. Mr Zuckerberg bears responsibility for this. Having denied Facebook&rsquo;s &ldquo;filter bubble&rdquo; played any role in Mr Trump&rsquo;s victory &mdash; or Russia&rsquo;s part in helping clinch it &mdash; Mr Zuckerberg is the primary target of the Democratic backlash. He is now asking America to believe that he can turn Facebook&rsquo;s news feed from an echo chamber into a public square. Revenue growth is no longer the priority. &ldquo;None of that matters if our services are used in a way that doesn&rsquo;t bring people closer together,&rdquo; he says.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Avoiding Tax (indirectly via Facebook) and masking self-interest:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>How will Mr Zuckerberg arrange this Kumbaya conversion? By boosting the community ties that only Facebook can offer. Readers will forgive me if I take another lie down. Mr Zuckerberg suffers from two delusions common to America&rsquo;s new economy elites. They think they are nice people &mdash; indeed, most of them are. Mr Zuckerberg seems to be, too. But they tend to cloak their self-interest in righteous language. Talking about values has the collateral benefit of avoiding talking about wealth. If the rich are giving their money away to good causes, such as inner city schools and research into diseases, we should not dwell on taxes. Mr Zuckerberg is not funding any private wars in Africa. He is a good person. The fact that his company pays barely any tax is therefore irrelevant.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Destroying communities and the noble profession of journalism:</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The second liberal delusion is to believe they have a truer grasp of people&rsquo;s interests than voters themselves. In some cases that might be true. It is hard to see how abolishing health subsidies will help people who live in &ldquo;flyover&rdquo; America. But here is the crux. It does not matter how many times Mr Zuckerberg invokes the magic of online communities. They cannot substitute for the real ones that have gone missing. Bowling online together is no cure for bowling offline alone. The next time Mr Zuckerberg wants to showcase Facebook, he should invest some of his money in an actual place. It should be far away from any of America&rsquo;s booming cities &mdash; say Youngstown, Ohio. For the price of a couple of days&rsquo; Facebook revenues, he could train thousands of people. He might even fund a newspaper to make up for social media&rsquo;s destruction of local journalism. The effect could be electrifying. Such an example would bring a couple more benefits. First, it would demonstrate that Mr Zuckerberg can listen, rather than pretending to. Second, people will want to drop round to his place for dinner.</p> </blockquote> <p>Having dinner with Mark Zuckerberg was <em>way down</em> the list at ZH, with top choices including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Margaret Thatcher (if she was still alive), David Bowie (if he was still alive), John Lennon (ditto) and John F. Kennedy (ditto).</p> <p><strong>While we are finding the FT&rsquo;s attempts at ridiculing Zuckerberg and his company entertaining, we are questioning whether it merely reflects the shifting political winds. </strong>Maybe there is more to it. When Pearson sold the Financial Times in 2015 after being the &ldquo;proud proprietor&rdquo; for almost 60 years, it cited the &ldquo;inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social&rdquo;.&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="300" height="206" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user235761/imageroot/satanberg-300x206.jpg?1510939540" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/mark-zuckerbergs-long-litany-failings-mainstream-media-turns-social-media#comments Computing Donald Trump Facebook Film Google Larry Summers Mark Zuckerberg Nerd culture new economy Newspaper None Ohio Social software Software The Social Network Twitter Twitter Vladimir Putin Zuckerberg Fri, 17 Nov 2017 23:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607475 at http://www.zerohedge.com The 11 Nations Of The United States http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/11-nations-united-states <p><a href="https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/11/16/the-11-nations-of-the-united-states/"><em>Via Jim Quinn&#39;s Burning Platform blog,</em></a></p> <p>In his fourth book, &ldquo;<a href="https://www.amazon.com/American-Nations-History-Regional-Cultures/dp/0143122029?tag=bisafetynet2-20" rel="noopener" target="_blank">American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America</a>,&rdquo; award-winning author <a href="http://www.colinwoodard.com/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Colin Woodard</a>&nbsp;identifies 11 distinct cultures&nbsp;that have historically divided the US.</p> <p><img alt="Image result for 11 nations of the united states" class="irc_mi" src="https://static.businessinsider.com/image/55b273a2371d2211008b9793/image.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 409px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>Yankeedom</strong></u></h2> <p>Encompassing the entire Northeast north of New York City and spreading through&nbsp;Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Yankeedom&nbsp;values education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny. Yankees are&nbsp;comfortable with government regulation. Woodard notes that Yankees have a &ldquo;Utopian streak.&rdquo; The area was settled by radical Calvinists.</p> <p><img alt="Related image" class="irc_mi" src="https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2016/03/09/20/pg-19-rust-belt-1-getty.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>New Netherland</strong></u></h2> <p>A highly&nbsp;commercial culture, New Netherland is &ldquo;materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience,&rdquo; according to Woodard. It is a natural ally with Yankeedom and encompasses New York City and northern New Jersey. The area was settled by the Dutch.</p> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><img alt="new york city" src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/558c010469beddd309246430-2048-1365/16654352517_a6eb45f2ce_k.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" /></span></span></p> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><span class="caption-source"><span class="caption">New York City is located in Woodward&rsquo;s New Netherland.</span><span class="source"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/16654352517/in/photolist-rnFULV-nF295g-nU1WrD-nFNwkX-nzKbDy-nzKKkx-nhrMw1-zJEWH-nJ7qCY-dsprTX-75CJyS-qG5kJW-rc4Ya7-nQV21M-dnFkgb-eywR12-bEiH6n-eiQXUk-ckrBp-qnvgRr-4Z7mB6-dmScc6-9yEAn-mZU9d2-pGLEEW-bFdPgt-nJgp1o-pqJdvv-cmJa3q-6K9LCT-rZ4gDQ-7ii4vp-zhe21-hucqWR-gxcrje-5nfafY-9QU2Es-fUUDz-A1BdZ-pqg2ex-pqhYsu-pqfqud-5HB833-73eBCG-6SMTax-dK5kEh-gxcdoV-8oESR8-8CWehV-rhMH2x">Flickr / Andrés Nieto Porras</a></span></span></span></span></p> <h2><u><strong>The Midlands</strong></u></h2> <p>Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society that&nbsp;spawned the culture of the &ldquo;American Heartland.&rdquo; Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands &ldquo;America&rsquo;s great swing region.&rdquo; Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.</p> <p><img alt="Image result for american heartland" class="irc_mi" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OwYf2thIVpw/VTEq4HneDnI/AAAAAAAACro/mJDLGet-7oc/s1600/pride-heartland-america-10394674.jpg" style="width: 601px; height: 401px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>Tidewater</strong></u></h2> <p>Tidewater was built by the young English gentry in the area around the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina. Starting as a feudal society that embraced slavery, the region places a high value on respect for authority and tradition. Woodard notes that Tidewater is in decline, partly because&nbsp;&ldquo;it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.&rdquo;</p> <h2><u><strong>Greater Appalachia</strong></u></h2> <p>Colonized by settlers from the war-ravaged&nbsp;borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Greater Appalachia is stereotyped as the land of hillbillies and rednecks. Woodard says Appalachia values personal sovereignty and individual liberty and is &ldquo;intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike.&rdquo; It sides with the Deep South to counter the influence of federal government. Within Greater Appalachia are parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas.</p> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><img alt="Louisville" src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/550b330aecad042b219cedc7-1024-682/louisville-7.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 601px;" /></span></span></p> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><span class="caption-source"><span class="caption">Louisville, Kentucky, is located in Woodward&rsquo;s Greater Appalachia.</span><span class="source"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pikmin/2665929559/in/photolist-54zzYK-dArKKk-d4mZ7U-b84MeP-2LtB4-dnmxYr-bzTSdG-4UQwCg-d1mKnf-cbzyB5-bum7YV-cKDZ7C-byf6jz-bvBo8b-5o3fMQ-qBacvw-jCR8qr-cs1VTo-a2hwox-6XbngM-b43Ls8-d14Rfd-4U3Ftf-bmAYcd-torPq-d6iKjo-bWaoVE-aiGV-euTdDw-eoorye-bN8nQ6-a3m9tE-eekMVc-c1qQy9-a5W1vu-7tXq8V-bPCdwP-4ytELZ-4hhwaf-ovbf-2zicM3-dnFUv7-bGoor4-aLBGJ6-d4ZBx-bZytdG-5PtcVn-iYdZhd-dFJzfh-b3uhkn">Flickr / Peter Dedina</a></span></span></span></span></p> <h2><u><strong>Deep South</strong></u></h2> <p>The Deep South was established by English slave lords from Barbados and was styled as a West Indies-style slave society, Woodard notes. It has a very rigid social structure and fights against government regulation that threatens individual liberty. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina are all part of the Deep South.</p> <p><img alt="Image result for deep south" class="irc_mi" src="https://orig00.deviantart.net/1835/f/2010/175/b/e/product_of_the_deep_south_by_jaliciawalker.png" style="width: 601px; height: 422px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>El Norte</strong></u></h2> <p>Composed of the borderlands of the Spanish-American empire, El Norte is &ldquo;a place apart&rdquo; from the rest of America, according to Woodard. Hispanic culture dominates in the area, and the region values independence, self-sufficiency, and hard work above all else. Parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California are in El Norte.</p> <p>One of our most beloved OPs, El Whatever, owns this joint.</p> <p><img alt="Related image" class="irc_mi" src="http://elcoyotecafe.com/wp-content/gallery/cafe-cantina-short/El-Coyote-Cafe-Exterior-01e.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 416px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>The Left Coast</strong></u></h2> <p>Colonized by New Englanders and Appalachian Midwesterners, the Left Coast is a hybrid of &ldquo;Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration,&rdquo; Woodard says, adding that it is the staunchest ally of Yankeedom. Coastal California, Oregon, and Washington are in the Left Coast.</p> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><img alt="San Francisco City and Homes" src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5592b12aeab8ead476169e90-2500-1667/san%20francisco%20city%20and%20homes.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" /></span></span></p> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><span class="caption-source"><span class="caption">San Francisco is a natural fit for Woodward&rsquo;s Left Coast.</span><span class="source"><a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-141108409/stock-photo-view-from-alamo-square-at-twilight-san-francisco.html?src=YoSQ0icVWIITCoq3orpDHA-1-24">Shutterstock / prochasson frederic</a></span></span></span></span></p> <h2><u><strong>The Far West</strong></u></h2> <p>The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to &ldquo;resent&rdquo; the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. Among Far West states are Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Related image" class="irc_mi" src="https://s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&amp;d=20160707&amp;t=2&amp;i=1144467937&amp;w=780&amp;fh=&amp;fw=&amp;ll=&amp;pl=&amp;sq=&amp;r=2016-07-07T142541Z_23504_D1BETOEPYMAB_RTRMADP_0_HUNGARY-CULTURE" style="width: 600px; height: 372px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>New France</strong></u></h2> <p>A pocket of liberalism nestled in the Deep South, its people are consensus driven, tolerant, and comfortable with government involvement in the economy. Woodard says New France is among the most liberal places in North America. New France is focused around New Orleans in Louisiana as well as the Canadian province of Quebec.</p> <p><img alt="Related image" class="irc_mi" src="https://i0.wp.com/www.doorfliesopen.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/body-paint.jpg?ssl=1" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" /></p> <h2><u><strong>First Nation</strong></u></h2> <p>Made up&nbsp;of Native Americans, the First Nation&rsquo;s members enjoy <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribal_sovereignty_in_the_United_States">tribal sovereignty</a> in the US.&nbsp;Woodard says the territory of the First Nations is huge, but its population is under&nbsp;300,000, most of whose people live in the northern reaches of Canada.</p> <p><img alt="Related image" class="irc_mi" src="https://i.pinimg.com/736x/3f/60/78/3f6078df65fa5aa970d9c63093380269--native-american-women-native-american-indians.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 1065px;" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-nations-of-the-united-states-2015-7"><em>Source</em></a></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Woodard says that among these 11 nations, <strong>Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence</strong> and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture,&rdquo; Woodard says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><span class="KonaFilter image-container display-table"><span class="image on-image"><span class="caption-source"><span class="source"><img alt="Related image" class="irc_mi" src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/2016_Presidential_Election_by_County.svg/2000px-2016_Presidential_Election_by_County.svg.png" style="width: 600px; height: 380px;" /></span></span></span></span></p> <p>Woodard also believes the nation is likely to<strong> become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse</strong> place every day.</p> <p>He says this is because people are &ldquo;self-sorting.&rdquo;</p> <p><em><strong>&ldquo;People choose to move to places where they identify with &nbsp;the values,&rdquo; &nbsp;</strong></em>Woodard says. <em><strong>&ldquo;Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority.&nbsp;This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1726" height="1126" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20171117_usnay.jpg?1510953638" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/11-nations-united-states#comments Americas Appalachia Colin Woodard Eastern United States Florida France Illinois Indiana Ireland Mexico Michigan New Netherland New Orleans New York City northern England northern New Jersey Ohio Oklahoma Quakers South Carolina Southern United States The Left United States West Indies-style West Virginia Woodard Woodard Yankee Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607492 at http://www.zerohedge.com "Helpless, Raging" Charlottesville Families Shocked By These 2018 Obamacare Premiums..."It's Horrific" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/helpless-raging-charlottesville-families-shocked-these-2018-obamacare-premiumsits-ho <p>Over the past several months, Democrats have jumped on every opportunity possible to blame the Trump administration for yet another year of staggering Obamacare premium increases.&nbsp; Ironically, despite arguments from the Left that <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-31/trump-slash-obamacare-advertising-budget-100mm-10mm">Trump's defunding of Obamacare's marketing budget</a> would cause 2018 signups to plunge, as <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/07/obamacare-sign-ups-surge-despite-trump-cuts-244665">Politico </a>recently noted, they're actually up in 2018...which begs the question:<strong> was the Obama administration just wasting $100 million a year in taxpayer money for nothing?</strong>&nbsp; Shocking thought, we know.</p> <p>Meanwhile a fresh barrage of outcries from Democrats, most notably Ms. Nancy Pelosi, came after Trump's decision to cut federal subsidies, an action which the <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-15/cbo-blames-trump-sees-20-surge-2018-obamacare-premiums-if-subsidies-removed">CBO insisted could result in devastating premium increases of up to 20%</a>. </p> <p><strong>Of course, if Trump is responsible for 20% of Obamacare's premium hikes in 2018, then perhaps Nancy Pelosi should explain to the Dixon family in Charlottesville, VA precisely who is responsible for the other portion of the 235% premium hike they just received.</strong>&nbsp; </p> <p>As the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/where-are-the-most-expensive-aca-plans-in-america-charlottesville/2017/11/16/e1b352d8-ca27-11e7-aa96-54417592cf72_story.html?utm_term=.84e05f70ede8">Washington Post</a> points out this morning, the Dixons, a family of 4 in Virginia, were shocked earlier this month to find that their Obamacare premiums were going to surge from roughly $900 per month in 2017 to over $3,000 per month in 2018.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Ian Dixon, who left his full-time job in 2016 to pursue an app-development business, did so because the ACA guaranteed that he could still have quality coverage for his young family, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But when the 38-year-old Charlottesville husband and father of a 3- and a 1-year-old went to re-enroll this month,<strong> his only choice for coverage would cost him more than $3,000 a month for his family of four, which amounted to an increase of more than 300 percent over the $900 he paid the year before. </strong>And this is for the second-cheapest option, with a deductible of $9,200.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“Helpless is definitely a good word for it,” Dixon said. “Rage is also a good word for it.”</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/2017/11/17/2017.11.17%20-%20ACA_0.JPG" alt="Obamacare" width="500" height="299" /></p> <p>Of course, <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-24/obamacare-s-last-bare-spot-filled-leaving-all-of-u-s-covered">Democrats and the MSM also applauded Obamacare's 'great success'</a> earlier this year when several counties that were previously feared to be left with no coverage options in 2018, suddenly picked up a carrier.&nbsp; That said, perhaps <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-24/obamacare-s-last-bare-spot-filled-leaving-all-of-u-s-covered">Bloomberg</a>, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-insurers/as-2018-obamacare-deadline-nears-u-s-states-believe-every-county-covered-idUSKCN1C21EE">Reuters</a>, <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/last-empty-county-gets-obamacare-insurer-n795581">NBC</a>, etc. should reconsider just how meaningful these Obamacare monopolies are if the premiums charged are so high that no one can afford them anyway...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>Earlier this year, Aetna and Anthem pulled out of the Albemarle market, citing too much unpredictability and risk. A smaller carrier, Optima, came in to fill the void. Consumers in the area went from having 19 plans offered in the options from Aetna and Anthem to only five coverage options with Optima.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several factors led to Optima’s offering such high-priced plans, said Michael Dudley, the president of Optima.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>First, small communities like Charlottesville tend to be pricier to cover because there is a small patient pool to balance out risks. So Optima took a cue from the carriers who had already ditched the market when actuaries predicted it was a place where the insurance companies might be paying out more to cover claims than it receives in premiums.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is also a more expensive coverage area because the primary provider is University of Virginia Health System, an academic medical center that charges higher rates for its care than a community hospital. Optima will include UVA Health System in-network, unlike many carriers who have dropped the big medical centers as a cost-saving measure.</p> </blockquote> <p>...perhaps local business owner Shawn Cossette can provide the Obamacare cheerleaders within the media some helpful insights...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Among them was Shawn Marie Cossette, 55, who runs her own event and floral design business in Charlottesville. Last year, she purchased an Anthem silver plan for $550 a month for herself. This year, under Optima, a silver plan would cost her $1,859 monthly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s a huge percentage of my income,” she said. <strong>“I really believed in the ACA. I really feel everyone deserves the right to health insurance, but who can afford those prices if you don’t qualify for subsidies?”</strong></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="726" height="384" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user230519/imageroot/Obamacare%20Death%20Spiral_12.JPG?1510940719" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/helpless-raging-charlottesville-families-shocked-these-2018-obamacare-premiumsits-ho#comments 111th United States Congress ETC Insurance Companies Internal Revenue Code Nancy Pelosi NBC Obama Administration Obamacare Optima Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Presidency of Barack Obama Reuters United States University of Virginia Health System Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607480 at http://www.zerohedge.com The Republican Tax Plan Is Very Swampy http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/republican-tax-plan-very-swampy <p><a href="https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/11/17/the-republican-tax-plan-is-very-swampy/"><em>Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Unsurprisingly,</strong> the Republican tax plan moving forward in the U.S. Congress and championed by Donald<em> &ldquo;Drain the Swamp&rdquo; </em>Trump, is <strong>very swampy</strong>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_eat.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/11/13/20171117_eat_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 374px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>Today&rsquo;s post will highlight a few examples.</strong></p> <p>First, let&rsquo;s hear some of what billionaire fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach had to say. Via <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-11-16/doubleline-s-gundlach-attacks-break-for-hedge-funds-in-tax-plan" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em>Bloomberg</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, said the congressional tax plan would expand the federal deficit and help a small fraction of the U.S. population, including hedge fund managers.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m very disappointed incidentally about the shape of this tax cut that is being proposed,&rdquo; Gundlach&nbsp;told a gathering of industry participants at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on Wednesday.&nbsp;&ldquo;I am just appalled that we are going to continue to have a carried-interest scheme for hedge funds.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The House bill set to be voted on Thursday keeps the carried-interest tax treatment that benefits private-equity managers, venture capitalists, hedge-fund managers and certain real estate investors. During last year&rsquo;s campaign, President&nbsp;Donald Trump&nbsp;had vowed to get rid of the loophole. White House top economic adviser Gary Cohn has said Trump is committed to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-09-28/cohn-says-trump-committed-to-ending-carried-interest-loophole" rel="noopener" target="_blank" title="Cohn Says Trump Intent on Ending Carried Interest ‘Loophole’ (3)">ending</a>&nbsp;the tax break.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>&ldquo;After I saw that tax bill, I lost hope with the drain the swamp concept,&rdquo; Gundlach said. &ldquo;The swamp keeps getting bigger.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Carried interest is the portion of a fund&rsquo;s profit &mdash; usually a 20 percent share &mdash; that&rsquo;s paid to managers. Currently, tax authorities treat that income as capital gains, making it eligible for a rate as low as 20 percent. The top tax rate for ordinary income is 39.6 percent.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>He called the tax plan &ldquo;a cosmetic tax decrease for the middle class that will go away over time.&rdquo;</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, none of this is really surprising. Donald Trump&rsquo;s been a Wall Street bootlicker ever since he came into office, just like Barack Obama before him.</p> <p>But there&rsquo;s much more swampiness to be had. For example, there&rsquo;s the fact that the corporate tax rate cut is permanent, while the individual cut is temporary. From the<a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-gop-tax-plan-20171115-story.html" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em> Los Angeles Times</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>A gambit by&nbsp;Senate&nbsp;Republicans&nbsp;to make a large corporate tax cut permanent by having benefits for individuals expire at the end of 2025</strong> created new problems for the legislation Wednesday as lawmakers were still grappling with the controversial decision to add the repeal of a key&nbsp;<a href="http://www.latimes.com/topic/health/healthcare/healthcare-policies-laws/affordable-care-act-EVGAP00039-topic.html" id="EVGAP00039" title="Affordable Care Act">Obamacare</a>&nbsp;provision.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The decision by Republican leaders to double down on risky maneuvers to overcome budgetary hurdles with their tax overhaul threatened to put the entire effort in jeopardy.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) declared he would not support the bill because it treats large corporations differently than many small businesses, which pay taxes through the individual code.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;If they can pass it without me, let them,&rdquo; Johnson told the Wall Street Journal. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to vote for this tax package.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>He later said he hoped &ldquo;to address the disparity so I can support the final version.&rdquo;</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Here&rsquo;s some more on what Ron Johnson&rsquo;s complaining about, via <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/11/16/sen-ron-johnson-says-he-wants-to-fix-the-gop-tax-reform-bill-so-he-can-change-his-no-vote-to-a-yes.html" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em>CNBC</em></a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Johnson said he&rsquo;s been working for months behind the scenes to make changes, but he added that he&rsquo;s not going to let his &ldquo;version of perfect&rdquo; sink tax reform. &ldquo;I want to get this thing fixed, and vote for pro-growth tax reform that makes all American businesses competitive globally,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I care deeply about this country, I care deeply about this deficit.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>As a former small business owner, Johnson said he&rsquo;s particularly concerned about the so-called pass-through rate, in which the profits and losses of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations &ldquo;pass through&rdquo; to their owners who are then taxed at individual income-tax rates, currently as high as 39.6 percent.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t leave anybody behind, which is why they came up with the 25 rate for pass throughs,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The problem is, neither the House or the Senate version really honored that commitment to pass-through businesses, which I argue are a huge engine of economic growth.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have the information on how much it would cost, how many pass-through businesses are being left behind that do compete globally. <strong>I can&rsquo;t get the information. I&rsquo;ve been asking. They don&rsquo;t give it to me,&rdquo; said Johnson</strong>, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Moving on, if you&rsquo;re still in denial that this &ldquo;tax reform&rdquo; was written for oligarchs and mega corps, take a look at the reaction of former Goldman Sachs executive and Trump&rsquo;s&nbsp;White House Economic Council director, Gary Cohn, when his audience of corporate executives were asked a simple question.</p> <p>As <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-15/moment-gary-cohn-realized-his-entire-economic-policy-disaster" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em>Zerohedge</em></a> perfectly summarized:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>The eagerness to shift incentives away from buybacks to capex is also the basis for much of Trump&rsquo;s economic policy as designed over the past year by his top economic advisor, former Goldman COO Gary Cohn who is the White House Economic Council director. In fact, the motive behind the administration&rsquo;s entire push for tax reform (cutting corporate tax rates) and offshore cash repatriation, is to the funds domestically, though not on buybacks and M&amp;A (which also leads to &ldquo;synergies&rdquo; and other headcount reductions), but on reinvesting the funds in growing one&rsquo;s business and hiring.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Which is why we were amused to observe the following brief interchange yesterday between Gary Cohn and an audience made up of executives, where in the span of a few seconds Gary Cohn realized that his entire economic policy had been a disaster.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>During an event for the Wall Street Journal&rsquo;s CEO Council, an editor at The Wall Street Journal asked the room: <strong>&ldquo;If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment &mdash; your company&rsquo;s investment, capital investment?</strong>&rdquo; He asked for a show of hands.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Alas, as the camera revealed, <strong>virtually nobody raised their hand</strong>.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Responding to this &ldquo;unexpected&rdquo; lack of enthusiasm to invest in growth, Cohn had one question: <strong>&ldquo;Why aren&rsquo;t the other hands up?&quot;</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xVX-NtFnfsE" width="560"></iframe></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>I</em><em>ronically, Cohn&rsquo;s epiphany took place just as tax reform is approaching the final stretch in Congress and it increasingly appears that at least some form of corporate tax cut will be enacted. We say ironically, because the only thing Trump&rsquo;s reform will achieve is to dramatically accelerate recently slowing buybacks, which in turn will push stocks to new all time highs as price-indescriminate CFOs and Tresurers tells their favorite VWAP trading desk to just &ldquo;wave it in.&rdquo; Which means that the White House paper suggesting corporate tax cuts will boost household income is correct&hellip; if it focuses only on the incomes of the richest 1% of households.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Don&rsquo;t despair, I promise there&rsquo;s something in there for the average joe. For instance, after years of repression, owners of private jets will finally get that tax break they desperately need.</p> <p><a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/360785-senate-tax-bill-includes-tax-break-for-private-jets" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em>The Hill</em></a> reports:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>The latest version of the Senate Republican tax reform bill includes a break for companies that manage private jets.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>A measure in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lower taxes on some of the payments made by owners of private aircraft to management companies that help maintain, store and staff those planes for owners.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The language would exempt owners or leasers of private aircraft from paying taxes on certain costs related to the upkeep and maintenance of the jets, according to a description from the Joint Committee on Taxation.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>I know, Congress sells out to special interests pretty cheaply. Fortunately, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas is looking out for the plebs.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Texas Rep. happy about tax bill because he gets to build a new colosseum. <a href="https://t.co/eeq88tLJB5">pic.twitter.com/eeq88tLJB5</a></p> <p>&mdash; Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) <a href="https://twitter.com/LibertyBlitz/status/931261579076583424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 16, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Meanwhile, a recent&nbsp;Quinnipiac showed that this oligarch giveaway isn&rsquo;t particularly popular. How surprising.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/tax-bill-2017/card/1510770512?mod=e2twp" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><em>WSJ</em></a> reported:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In <a href="https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2501" rel="noopener" target="_blank">a new Quinnipiac poll</a>, 25% of American voters approve of the Republican tax plan, compared with 52% who disapprove.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Among Republicans, support was 60%.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>President Donald Trump has cast the tax plan as a boon to middle-class households. <strong>Nearly 60% of American voters in the Quinnipiac poll believe the Republican plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle class.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>About 24% of American voters say the middle class will mainly benefit from the tax plan,</strong> while 61% say the wealthy would be the primary beneficiaries.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>About 36% of voters believe the tax plan will propel economic growth, while 52% don&rsquo;t believe it will.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>But here&rsquo;s the best part. Former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven &ldquo;Let them Eat Cake&rdquo; Mnuchin, doesn&rsquo;t want to hear it.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>Asked whether Senate Republicans have 51 votes to pass the bill as it stands, Mr. Mnuchin said, &ldquo;I am confident we are going to get this passed in the Senate.&rdquo;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Mr. Mnuchin brushed aside suggestions that the bill is unpopular, refusing to comment on <a href="https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/tax-bill-2017/card/1510770512" rel="noopener" target="_blank">a Quinnipiac poll showing 16% of voters</a> believe the bill will reduce taxes.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>He also said &ldquo;virtually everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut,&rdquo; and that only &ldquo;people who are making more than $1 million in high-tax states who will be making more.&rdquo; <strong>Even people in high-tax states would reap the benefits of a lower corporate tax rate and other changes meant to help businesses that will boost economic activity, he said.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Guess he missed the recent video of his buddy Gary Cohn.</p> <p>The more people learn about this monstrosity, the less they like it. Unfortunately, by that point it&rsquo;ll be too late.</p> <p>You lose again America. <strong>Make Wall Street Great Again.</strong></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p><em>If you liked this article and enjoy my work, consider becoming a&nbsp;monthly&nbsp;<a href="https://www.patreon.com/michaelkrieger" rel="noopener" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff6600;">Patron</span></a>,&nbsp;or visit our&nbsp;<a href="https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/support-liberty-blitzkrieg/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Support&nbsp;Page</a>&nbsp;to show your appreciation for&nbsp;independent content creators.</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="745" height="465" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20171117_eat.jpg?1510953186" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-17/republican-tax-plan-very-swampy#comments American people of German descent Barack Obama Business Business Congress Donald Trump Donald Trump Federal Deficit fixed goldman sachs Goldman Sachs Gundlach None Obamacare Politics Real estate Social Issues The Apprentice Twitter Twitter United States Wall Street Journal White House White House Fri, 17 Nov 2017 22:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607491 at http://www.zerohedge.com "It's A Nightmare" - Chinese Bureaucrats Are Killing The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-16/its-nightmare-chinese-bureaucrats-are-killing-victorias-secret-fashion-show <p><strong>The marketing brass at L Brands are probably starting to regret their decision to hold this year&rsquo;s Victoria&rsquo;s Secret fashion show - expected to have the largest audience in the show&#39;s history - in Shanghai.</strong></p> <p>As the New York Post reports, the fashion show, which takes place in two weeks and will feature&nbsp; Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio and Karlie Kloss, among other internationally recognized supermodels, is transforming into an international diplomatic crisis.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/11/11/2017.11.17victoriassecret.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/11/11/2017.11.17victoriassecret_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 253px;" /></a></p> <p>Chinese government officials are refusing to work with the show&rsquo;s producers and grant the necessary expedited visas so fashion bloggers and other media types who&rsquo;re supposed to cover the show, according to the <a href="https://pagesix.com/2017/11/15/victorias-secret-fashion-show-turning-into-international-media-crisis/?_ga=2.60391149.1779023856.1510570859-1261076502.1505751686">New York Post. </a></p> <p><strong>Bureaucrats have also stubbornly resisted other seemingly routine requests, like approving shooting locations for the TV crew.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>We&rsquo;re told fashion bloggers booked to cover the glitzy event are canceling their trips because the Chinese government won&rsquo;t give them visas; TV producers are grappling with bureaucrats over permission to shoot outside the Mercedes-Benz Arena, where it&rsquo;s being held (&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going to China, you want to show that you are in China!&rdquo; fumed an insider); and Victoria&rsquo;s Secret staffers in China can&rsquo;t send out press releases because they have to be approved by government officials.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a nightmare for all the media trying to cover [the show],&rdquo;</strong> said a jet-setting insider.<strong> &ldquo;These TV companies are spending a fortune on it, and they don&rsquo;t even know what they can shoot when they get there.&quot;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We&rsquo;re told that producers charged with coordinating the coverage for <strong>various outlets are &ldquo;on the verge of nervous breakdowns.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The show, which will be broadcast on CBS, has mostly been held in the US since 2001, but the popular purveyor of ladies&rsquo; undergarments has had a run of bad luck in the past few years since trying to host the show overseas, the Post reports. Last year&rsquo;s show (which was held in Paris) was also plagued with production issues caused by a terror attack and Kim Kardashian&rsquo;s high-profile robbery.</p> <p>For that event, every journalist covering the event had to submit to background checks and provide government ID, and security was so tight that cars dropping off VIP guests were only allowed to stop momentarily outside the venue, so celebrities had to circle the block before being dropped off.</p> <p>This year, they&rsquo;d be lucky to get a visa.</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="568" height="287" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017.11.17victoriassecret.JPG?1510842231" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-16/its-nightmare-chinese-bureaucrats-are-killing-victorias-secret-fashion-show#comments Adriana Lima Bureaucrat Celebrity China Chinese government Clothing Culture Entertainment Fashion Karlie Kloss KIM Kloss Mercedes-Benz Model Modeling New York Post Politics Supermodel Victoria's Secret Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 607377 at http://www.zerohedge.com