http://www.zerohedge.com/fullrss2.xml/%2A en Trump's Slide Into Endless-War Syndrome http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/trumps-slide-endless-war-syndrome <p><em><a href="https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/07/24/trump-slide-into-endless-war-syndrome.html">Authored by Ivan Eland via The Strategic Culture Foundation,</a></em></p> <p>During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump touted his nationalist &ldquo;America First&rdquo; foreign policy, which<strong> implied that he wanted to stay out of foreign brushfire wars</strong>. Even before that, he tweeted his disapproval of American involvement of the Afghan War.</p> <div id="attachment_23191"> <p><img src="https://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/1491607088542.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p><em>The photograph released by the White House of President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria</em></p> </div> <p><strong>Yet now he has delegated the authority to his Secretary of Defense to send several thousand more troops to Afghanistan to join the almost 9,000 that remain there advising and assisting Afghan forces and hunting Islamist terrorists.</strong> And that is not the only instance in which the Trump administration has gone against his original inclination or is contemplating it.</p> <p>Trump appears to be delegating the troop re-escalation decision for Afghanistan to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, because <strong>the president wants to be able to dodge responsibility in case that policy is ultimately unsuccessful, </strong>just as he blamed the botched Special Operations raid in Yemen on the military. Re-escalation is likely to fail, because the administration has no strategy for turning the already-lost conflict around. Adding 3,000 to 5,000 troops, according to a U.S. military that never wants to admit losing a war, would allow American troops to &ldquo;advise&rdquo; Afghan troops in battlefield areas, instead of remaining at higher headquarters, and also to call in U.S. air and artillery strikes in support of those local forces.</p> <p><strong>Yet the Afghan War is the longest conflict in American history, and no conception of &ldquo;success&rdquo; can be realistically imagined. </strong>How can an augmented force of 13,000 or 14,000 American advisers have success helping a still pathetic Afghan military (even after 16 years of U.S. training), when 100,000 much more potent U.S. combat troops could not defeat the Taliban during all those prior years of conflict?</p> <p>And if the Taliban&rsquo;s gains on the battlefield aren&rsquo;t enough, the continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has caused some Islamist militants to pledge allegiance to the even more radical and brutal ISIS group. One can easily see that when the 3,000 to 5,000 troops have little effect on the battlefield, which is the probable outcome, the military will begin demanding a more sizeable re-escalation of the endless conflict.</p> <p><em><strong>Should we give the U.S. military a blank check for perpetual war until it comes up with a face-saving way to exit with honor? Such a ruse didn&rsquo;t fool anyone in the Vietnam War.</strong></em></p> <h3><u>India&rsquo;s Interests</u></h3> <p><strong>The original U.S. enemy, Al Qaeda, is already a spent force in that part of the world.</strong> In addition, the Indian government is assisting Afghanistan economically and Afghan forces militarily and would have an incentive to do much more if the United States withdrew from the fight. India doesn&rsquo;t want its arch rival Pakistan&rsquo;s support of the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan to result in a Taliban-controlled or influenced Afghan government that will augment Pakistan&rsquo;s power in the South Asian region.<strong> Thus, the United States could let India, which has greater strategic interest in this local war than does the United States these days, take over countering the Taliban and ISIS in the region.</strong></p> <div id="attachment_23220"> <p><img src="https://consortiumnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/170405-A-PG801-002C.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 599px;" /></p> <p><em>Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilots fly near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 5, 2017. &nbsp;(Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris)</em></p> </div> <p><strong>In addition to re-escalating an already unsuccessful Afghan War, some in the Trump administration want to ramp up the fight in Syria and assistance to the Saudi Arabian-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are loosely aligned with Saudi-rival Iran.</strong></p> <p>Trump, seemingly only to prove he was tougher than President Obama was in Syria, mounted a for-show cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base after an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime.<strong> Before the U.S. attack, the Trump administration warned the Russians and the thus the Syrians that it was coming, thus severely mitigating its effect.</strong></p> <p>Lately, however, <strong>some in the Trump administration want to widen the war against ISIS in Syria to include Iranian-sponsored militias that are also fighting ISIS.</strong> Yet the perils of escalation in Syria became apparent when a Syrian government plane dropped bombs near U.S.-sponsored rebels, U.S. aircraft shot down the plane, and then the Russians declared that any American aircraft flying over Syrian government-controlled areas would be tracked as potential targets. Russian downing of an American aircraft or vice versa would be an unneeded and dangerous escalation between two nuclear-armed great powers over the outcome of a civil war in a country that is not strategic to the United States.</p> <p><strong>The desire of some Trump administration officials to go after Iranian-sponsored militias in Syria is part of a larger Trump inclination to support Saudi Arabia in its regional rivalry with Iran in the Persian Gulf.</strong> That regional rivalry is also playing out in the destitute country of Yemen, with the United States selling the despotic Saudis a fresh batch of expensive military equipment, some of which will probably be used to kill Houthis in Yemen, including lots of civilians. Yet if Syria is not strategic to the United States, the poor nation of Yemen is certainly not either.</p> <p><strong>In the Syrian civil war, the United States should sit back and watch its adversaries fight each other</strong> &mdash; ISIS and other radical Sunni Islamists versus Iran, Iranian-sponsored militias, the autocratic Syrian government, and Russia.</p> <p><strong>In the internecine conflict in Yemen, the Saudi coalition, which has already killed many civilians, is hardly better than Iran. </strong></p> <p><strong>In the Afghan civil war, the United States should accept defeat, withdraw its forces </strong>&mdash; instead of re-escalating the war &mdash; and let India fully take over assisting the Afghan military in its fight against the Taliban and ISIS.</p> <p>In sum, Trump should avoid getting co-opted by the U.S. military and <strong>honor his campaign rhetoric, which implied staying out of non-strategic brushfire wars.</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="585" height="301" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_trumpwar.jpg?1500947339" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/trumps-slide-endless-war-syndrome#comments Afghan Civil War Afghan government Afghan military Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan–Pakistan relations al-Qaeda Contemporary history Donald Trump Fail India Indian government Iran ISIS Military history by country Persian Gulf Politics Presidency of Donald Trump President Obama Proxy wars Saudi Arabia Strategic Culture Foundation Syrian Civil War Syrian government Taliban Taliban Trump Administration US military War War in Afghanistan Warlordism White House White House World history Tue, 25 Jul 2017 06:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600409 at http://www.zerohedge.com Al-Shabaab Propaganda Video Bashes "Brainless Billionaire" Trump As "Stupidest President A Country Could Have" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/al-shabaab-releases-propaganda-video-calling-trump-brainless-billionaire <p>Since taking office, President Donald Trump has stepped up US military strikes against al-Shabaab, the ISIS-affiliated terrorist group based primarily in Somalia, despite promises to avoid more foreign entanglements. In May, <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-05/navy-seal-killed-somalia-fourth-us-service-member-death-past-week">a Navy SEAL died</a> during a mission targeting a compound of al-Shabaab militants, becoming the first US soldier to die in Somalia since 1993, when 18 US service members were killed in what became known as the battle of Mogadishu, later memorialized in the film &ldquo;Black Hawk Down.&rdquo; <strong>In June, <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-11/us-strikes-al-shabaab-militants-somalia">the US killed 8 militants</a> during a drone strike against what US officials described as one of the group&rsquo;s primary training camps and bases.</strong></p> <p>While al-Shabaab lacks the resources to launch an effective counterattack against the US, the group instead opted to mock Trump in a new propaganda video. In it, the group responds to Trump&rsquo;s violent escalation by calling him a <strong>&ldquo;brainless billionaire&rdquo;</strong> and criticizing US voters for electing <strong>&ldquo;arguably the most stupid president a country could ever have&quot; - echoing sentiments commonly expressed by left-leaning voters in metropolitan hubs like New York City. </strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24trumpshabaab.JPG"><strong><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24trumpshabaab_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 256px;" /></strong></a></p> <p>Trump, the militants claim, is <strong>&quot;making the United States the greatest joke on Earth and is now propelling it further to its eventual defeat and destruction,&quot;</strong> according to <a href="https://www.rt.com/news/397359-shabab-threatens-trump-brainless/">Russia Today,</a> which cited the Associated Press and the SITE Intelligence Group.</p> <p>In addition to authorizing more drone strikes against Somalian while also categorizing parts of the country&rsquo;s south as an area where active hostilities are taking place, <strong>Somalia was included as one of six countries in the Trump administration&rsquo;s travel ban. &nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The group also criticized its neighbor Kenya, which has declared a new offensive against the extremists, sending in troops to take part in a multinational African Union force. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for a number of terror attacks inside Kenya, including the 2015 shooting at a mall in Nairobi.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;Your military&rsquo;s invasion of Somalia will continue to destabilize your country,&rdquo;</strong> the video states.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;When we do strike, your government will not be able to protect you.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The group has also vowed to carry out more attacks against Somalia&#39;s recently elected government.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.rt.com/news/397359-shabab-threatens-trump-brainless/">RT,</a> this isn&rsquo;t the first time the group has referenced Trump in its propaganda. In a recruitment video released early last year, the group included inflammatory sound bites from then-candidate Trump, including his notorious call for a &ldquo;complete and total shutdown&rdquo; of Muslims entering the US. Since being pushed out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, al-Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia&#39;s cities and towns. <strong>But it still retains a strong presence in swathes of the south and center and still carries out major gun and bomb attacks. </strong>The group killed more than 4,200 people in 2016, according to the Pentagon-supported Africa Center for Strategic Studies.<br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="764" height="391" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017.07.24trumpshabaab.JPG?1500931075" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/al-shabaab-releases-propaganda-video-calling-trump-brainless-billionaire#comments Africa Center for Strategic Studies African Union Al-Shabaab Battle of Mogadishu Contemporary history Donald Trump Irregular military Military New York City Pentagon Politics Somalia Somalia Trump Administration War War in Somalia Tue, 25 Jul 2017 05:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600394 at http://www.zerohedge.com Google Is The Biggest Lobbying Spender In Tech http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/google-biggest-lobbying-spender-tech <p>The fact that many major tech companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley doesn’t mean they don’t have a <strong>voice in Washington as well.</strong> As <a href="https://www.statista.com/chart/10393/lobbying-expenditure-of-tech-companies/">Statista's Feliz Richer notes, </a>according to documents filed in accordance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act, <strong>companies such as&nbsp;<a href="https://www.statista.com/topics/1001/google/" target="_blank">Google</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.statista.com/topics/751/facebook/" target="_blank">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and Amazon spend millions every year trying to legally influence D.C. lawmakers. </strong></p> <p>The following chart shows how the lobbying expenditure of Google,<br /> Apple, Facebook and Amazon has<strong> developed over the past few years.</strong> For<br /> additional information please refer to the<a href="https://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=processSelectFields" target="_blank">&nbsp;official database</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.statista.com/chart/10393/lobbying-expenditure-of-tech-companies/" title="Infographic: Google Is the Biggest Lobbying Spender in Tech | Statista"><img src="https://infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_10393_lobbying_expenditure_of_tech_companies_n.jpg" alt="Infographic: Google Is the Biggest Lobbying Spender in Tech | Statista" width="600" height="428" /></a> </p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="https://www.statista.com/">Statista</a></em></p> <p>Interestingly, the quarterly filings not only reveal how much the companies spend on their lobbying efforts, they also provide us with information on<strong> which issues these efforts are related to. </strong></p> <p>Take Google for example: <em><strong>in the second quarter of 2017, the search giant spent $5.9 million on lobbying with respect to issues ranging from more obvious ones such as regulation of online advertising and immigration of highly skilled individuals to more surprising ones such as wind power and unmanned aerial systems technology. </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="723" height="388" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_GOOGL.jpg?1500947127" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/google-biggest-lobbying-spender-tech#comments Alphabet Inc. Amazon.com Apple Computing Google Google Lobbying Lobbying in the United States Political terminology Statista Technology Technology unmanned aerial systems technology World Wide Web X Tue, 25 Jul 2017 04:35:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600408 at http://www.zerohedge.com Russia's Real Endgame http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/russias-real-endgame <p><a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/russias-real-endgame/"><em>Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,</em></a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Russia’s Putin has never taken his eye off the ball. <strong>His ambition is not global hegemony</strong> or European conquest. Putin seeks what Russia has always sought: <strong><em>regional hegemony and a set of buffer states in eastern Europe and central Asia that can add to Russia’s strategic depth</em></strong>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is strategic depth - the capacity to suffer massive invasions and still survive due to an ability to retreat to a core position and stretch enemy supply lines - that enabled Russia to defeat both Napoleon and Hitler. Putin also wants the modicum of respect that would normally accompany that geostrategic goal.</span></p> <p><strong>Understanding Putin is not much more complicated than that.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the twenty-first century, a Russian sphere of influence is not achieved by conquest or subordination in the old Imperial or Communist style. It is achieved by close financial ties, direct foreign investment, free trade zones, treaties, security alliances, and a network of associations that resemble earlier versions of the EU.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Russian military intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is best understood not as a Russian initiative, but as a Russian reaction. It was a response to U.S. and U.K. efforts to attack Russia by pushing aggressively and prematurely for Ukraine membership in NATO. This was done by deposing a Putin ally in Kiev in early 2014.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>This is not to justify Russia’s actions, merely to put them in a proper context. </strong>The time to peel off Ukraine for NATO was 1999, not 2014.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Russian-Ukraine situation is a subset of the broader U.S.-Russian relationship. Here, <strong>the opposition comes not just from domestic opponents but from the globalist elite.</strong></span></p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The Globalist Roots of Today’s Brewing Conflict</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Globalization emerged in the 1990s as a consequences of the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. </strong>For the first time since 1914, Russia, China and their respective empires could join the U.S., Western Europe and their former colonies in Latin America and Africa in a single global market.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Globalization relied on open borders, free trade, telecommunications, global finance, extended supply chains, cheap labor and freedom of the seas. Globalization as it existed from 1990 to 2007 made steady progress under the Bush-Clinton duopoly of power in the U.S. and like-minded leaders elsewhere. The enemy of </span><a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/obama-blunder-trump-gambit/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="font-weight: 400;">globalization was nationalism</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, but nationalism was nowhere in sight.</span></p> <p><strong><em>The financial crisis of 2007–2008, caused by the elites’ own greed and inability to grasp the statistical properties of risk that was covered in&nbsp;<a href="https://agorafinancial.com/publications/awn/">Strategic Intelligence</a>, put an end to the easy gains from globalization.</em></strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ironically, globalization gained in the short-run despite financial calamity. The same elites who created disaster were empowered to “fix” the situation under the auspices of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. This global rescue began with the first G20 summit hastily organized by George W. Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy, then the President of France, in November 2008.</span></p> <p><strong>Despite the financial bailouts and central bank easy money of the decade following the crisis, robust self-sustaining growth in line with pre-crisis trends never returned. Instead the world suffered through a ten-year depression (defined as depressed below-trend growth), which continues to this day.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What little growth emerged was captured mostly by the wealthy, which led to the greatest income inequality levels seen in over 80 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Discontent was palpable in middle-class and working class populations in the world’s major developed economies. </strong>This discontent morphed into political action. The result was the U.K. decision to leave the EU, called “Brexit,” the election of Donald Trump, and the rise of politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France, among others.</span></p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Nationalism Strikes Back at the Global Elites</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>What unites these politicians and political movements is nationalism. </strong>This can be defined as a desire to put national interests ahead of globalization. Nationalism can mean closing borders, restricting free trade to help local employment, fighting back against cheap labor and dumping with tariffs and trade adjustment assistance, and rejecting multilateral trade deals in favor of bilateral negotiations.</span></p> <p><strong>This brings us to the crux of the U.S.-Russia relationship.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Simply put, Putin and Trump are the two most powerful nationalists in the world. <strong>Any rapprochement between Russia and the U.S. is an existential threat to the globalist agenda.</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>This explains the vitriolic, hysterical, and relentless attacks on Trump and Putin. </strong>The </span><a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/g20-beyond-public-agenda/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="font-weight: 400;">globalists have to keep Trump and Putin</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> separated in order to have any hope of reviving the globalist agenda.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just as Trump and Putin are the champions of nationalism, President Xi Jinping of China and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have emerged as the champions of the globalist camp. Understanding this dynamic requires consideration of the paradoxical roles of Xi and Merkel.</span></p> <p><strong>Xi positions himself as the leading advocate of globalization. The truth is more complex. President Xi is the most nationalist of all major leaders. He continually puts China’s long-term interests first without particular regard for the well-being of the rest of the world.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, China’s military and economic weakness, and potential social instability, require it to cooperate with the rest of the world on trade, climate change, and supply-chain logistics in order to grow. Xi is in a paradoxical position of being nationalist to the core, yet wearing a globalist veneer in order to pursue the nationalist long game.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany is also in a paradoxical position — but the opposite of Xi’s role. Merkel knows Germany must embrace globalism both because of its unique historical burden of being the source of three major wars (Franco-Prussian, World War I, and World War II), and the necessity of German integration with the EU and Eurozone. At the same time, Merkel has advanced her globalist agenda by promoting German interests through exports and cheap foreign labor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>For the globalists, the world breaks down into Manichean struggle between the nationalists, Trump and Putin, and the globalists, Xi and Merkel. </strong></span>Globalists may be playing a two-sided game of nationalists versus globalists, but they need to widen the aperture to see that the </span><a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/hidden-subplots-g20-summit/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="font-weight: 400;">world today is really a three-party game</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><strong>There are really only three superpowers in the world today — Russia, China and the U.S. All other nations are secondary or tertiary powers who may be aligned with a superpower, neutral or independent, but who otherwise lack the ability to impose their will on others.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Some analysts may be surprised to see Russia on the superpower list, </span><a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/political-noise-cant-drown-out-russias-potential/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="font-weight: 400;">but the facts are indisputable</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Russia is the twelfth largest economy in the world, has the largest landmass, is one of the three largest energy producers in the world, has abundant natural resources other than oil, has advanced weapons and space technology, an educated workforce and, of course, has the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons of any country.</span></p> <p><strong>Russia has enormous problems including adverse demographics, limited access to oceans, harsh weather, and limited fertile soil. Yet, none of these problems negate Russia’s native strengths.</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Notwithstanding the prospect of improved relations, Putin remains the geopolitical chess master he has always been. <strong>His long game involves the <a href="https://dailyreckoning.com/the-russian-resurgence/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">accumulation of gold</a>, development of alternative payments systems, and ultimate demise of the dollar as the dominant global reserve currency.</strong></span></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="571" height="207" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_russia.jpg?1500946728" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/russias-real-endgame#comments Angela Merkel Central Asia China China’s military Demographics Donald Trump Donald Trump Eastern Europe Eastern Europe eastern Ukraine Europe European Union Eurozone France G20 Germany Globalization Government Latin America Napoleon Nationalism Netherlands Nicolas Sarkozy None North Atlantic Treaty Organization Politics of Russia Reserve Currency Russia Russia–United States relations space technology Strategic Intelligence Ukraine Vladimir Putin western Europe World Tue, 25 Jul 2017 04:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600407 at http://www.zerohedge.com "Time Is Running Out" - China Is Planning For A Crisis Along North Korean Border http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/time-running-out-china-planning-crisis-along-north-korean-border <p>Despite Chinese officials reassurance that <strong><em>&quot;military means shouldn&rsquo;t be an option,</em></strong>&quot; <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-prepares-for-a-crisis-along-north-korea-border-1500928838">WSJ reports </a>that <strong>China has been bolstering defenses along its 880-mile frontier with North Korea </strong>and realigning forces in surrounding regions to prepare for a <strong>potential crisis across their border, including the possibility of a U.S. military strike</strong>.</p> <p>While all eyes in America are once again distracted by &quot;Russia&quot;-related narratives and the dismal GOP efforts to replace, repeal, re-who-knows-what Obamacare, the threat of North Korea has not gone away... and neither has China&#39;s preparations. As President Trump stepped up the rhetoric, pressuring China to do more to &#39;solve&#39; the North Korean problem, and threatening military action to halt Kim&#39;s nuclear weapons program ambitions, it is clear that<strong> China has used this crisis to not just prepare for potential problems with North Korea but to reinforce military forces elsewhere</strong>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-prepares-for-a-crisis-along-north-korea-border-1500928838">The Journal writes </a>that a review of official military and government websites and interviews with experts who have studied the preparations show that <strong>Beijing has implemented many of the changes in recent months after initiating them last year</strong>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>Recent <strong>measures include establishing a new border defense brigade, 24-hour video surveillance of the mountainous frontier backed by aerial drones, and bunkers to protect against nuclear and chemical blasts</strong>, according to the websites.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China&rsquo;s <strong>military has also merged, moved and modernized other units in border regions</strong> and released details of recent drills there with special forces, airborne troops and other units that experts say could be sent into North Korea in a crisis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They include a live-fire drill in June by helicopter gunships and one in July by an armored infantry unit recently transferred from eastern China and equipped with new weaponry.</p> </blockquote> <p>China&rsquo;s Defense Ministry didn&rsquo;t respond directly when asked if the recent changes were connected to North Korea, saying only <strong>in a written statement that its forces &ldquo;maintain a normal state of combat readiness and training&rdquo; on the border</strong>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_china.jpg"><img height="435" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_china_0.jpg" width="600" /></a></p> <p><strong>While Chinese authorities have been preparing for North Korean contingencies -</strong> including economic collapse, nuclear contamination, or military conflict - according to U.S. and Chinese experts who have studied Beijing&rsquo;s planning, perhaps more intriguing, as Mark Cozad, a former senior U.S. defense intelligence official for East Asia, now at the Rand Corp, explains..</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>China&rsquo;s contingency preparations &ldquo;go well beyond just seizing a buffer zone in the North and border security.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, China is not letting a good crisis go to waste. Coad goes to note:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Once you start talking about efforts from outside powers, in particular the United States and South Korea, to stabilize the North, to seize nuclear weapons or WMD, in those cases then I think you&rsquo;re starting to look at a much more robust Chinese response.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going to make me place bets on where I think the U.S. and China would first get into a conflict, it&rsquo;s not Taiwan, the South China Sea or the East China Sea: I think it&rsquo;s the Korean Peninsula.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>As<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-prepares-for-a-crisis-along-north-korea-border-1500928838"> The Journal further notes</a>, <strong>Beijing also appears to be enhancing its capability to seize North Korean nuclear sites and occupy a swath of the country&rsquo;s northern territory if U.S. or South Korean forces start to advance toward the Chinese border</strong>, according to those people. That, they say, would require a much larger Chinese operation than just sealing border, with special forces and airborne troops likely entering first to secure nuclear sites, followed by armored ground forces with air cover, pushing deep into North Korea.<strong> It could also bring Chinese and U.S. forces face to face on the peninsula for the first time since the war there ended in 1953 with an armistice</strong> - an added complication for the Trump administration as it weighs options for dealing with North Korea.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_china1.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_china1_0.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 294px;" /></a></p> <p>China has long worried that economic collapse in North Korea could cause a refugee crisis, bring U.S. forces to its borders, and create a united, democratic and pro-American Korea. <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-prepares-for-a-crisis-along-north-korea-border-1500928838">But as WSJ&#39;s Ben Kesling&nbsp; reports,</a> <strong>China&rsquo;s fears of a U.S. military intervention have risen since January</strong> as Pyongyang has test-fired several missiles, including one capable of reaching Alaska. In a notably outspoken article written in May, retired Maj. Gen. Wang Haiyun, a former military attaché to Moscow now attached to several Chinese think tanks, made his view clear (while carefully noting he did not speak for the PLA)...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>China should &ldquo;draw a red line&rdquo; for the U.S.</strong>: If it attacked North Korea without Chinese approval, Beijing would have to intervene militarily.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Time is running out,... We can&rsquo;t let the flames of war burn into China.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China should demand that any U.S. military attack result in no nuclear contamination, no U.S. occupation of areas north of the current &ldquo;demarcation line&rdquo; between North and South, and no regime hostile to China established in the North, his article said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;If war breaks out, China should without hesitation occupy northern parts of North Korea, take control of North Korean nuclear facilities, and demarcate safe areas to stop a wave of refugees and disbanded soldiers entering China&rsquo;s northeast,&rdquo;</strong> it said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Beijing&rsquo;s interests &ldquo;now clearly extend beyond the refugee issue&rdquo; to encompass nuclear safety and the peninsula&rsquo;s long-term future, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, an assistant professor at Georgetown University who has studied China&rsquo;s planning for a North Korean crisis.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;<strong>China&rsquo;s leaders need to make sure that whatever happens with (North Korea), the result supports China&rsquo;s regional power aspirations and does not help the United States extend or prolong its influence</strong>,&rdquo; Ms. Mastro said.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, China may appear to be preparing for a North Korean crisis... but is really building its capabilities should President Trump decide the time is right for more international distractions.</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="718" height="521" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_china.jpg?1500938281" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/time-running-out-china-planning-crisis-along-north-korean-border#comments Aftermath of the Korean War China China’s Defense Ministry China’s military China–South Korea relations East Asia East China eastern China Foreign relations of Korea Forms of government Georgetown University International relations KIM Korean conflict Member states of the United Nations North Korea North Korea North Korea–South Korea relations Obamacare Politics Presidency of Donald Trump Republican Party Republics South China South Korea Trump Administration War Tue, 25 Jul 2017 03:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600403 at http://www.zerohedge.com Banks Are Scheming To Dominate A Future Cashless Society http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/banks-are-scheming-dominate-future-cashless-society <p><a href="http://theantimedia.org/go-bankless-not-cashless/"><em>Authored by Shaun Bradley via TheAntiMedia.org,</em></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_cash.jpg"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_cash.jpg" style="width: 510px; height: 310px;" /></a></p> <p><strong>Visa recently announced its new&nbsp;<a href="https://usa.visa.com/about-visa/cashless.html" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Cashless Challenge</a>&nbsp;program, which offers $10,000 to restaurants willing to transition into accepting only digital payments. </strong>&nbsp;As the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2017/05/23/strong-growth-in-volumes-boosts-visas-u-s-credit-card-market-share-to-over-52/#60a48a836659" rel="noopener" target="_blank">largest</a>&nbsp;credit card processor in the U.S., it&rsquo;s no surprise Visa is spearheading this campaign.</p> <p>Under the guise of increasing transparency and efficiency, t<strong>hey&rsquo;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.visa.com/visagovernmentsolutions/docs/Visa_Government_Solutions_Brochure_Print.pdf" rel="noopener" target="_blank">partnered</a>&nbsp;with governments around the world to help convert financial systems into cashless models,</strong> but their real incentive is the billions of dollars in extra transaction fees it would generate.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;We are declaring war on cash,&rdquo;&nbsp;Visa spokesman Andy Gerlt proudly proclaimed&nbsp;after the program was announced.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The food-based small businesses Visa is targeting are among those that benefit most from accepting cash from customers. When transactions are for amounts less than $10, the fees charged cut significantly into profits.&nbsp;<a href="https://mobile-cuisine.com/features/mcm-poll-results-72-percent-of-mobile-food-vendors-only-accept-cash/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Only 28%</a>&nbsp;of food trucks currently accept credit card payments because of the huge losses they incur from them. <strong>The bribe from Visa may seem appealing up front but will be mostly paid back to them over the next few years in fees alone.</strong></p> <p>Liz Garner, Vice President of the Merchant Advisory Group, which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.merchantadvisorygroup.org/get-involved/join-the-mag" rel="noopener" target="_blank">represents</a>&nbsp;over 100 of the largest businesses in the U.S.,&nbsp;<a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/287373-cash-is-king-helping-small-businesses-survive" rel="noopener" target="_blank">explained</a>&nbsp;some of the hurdles faced when dealing with card networks:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>&ldquo;For many businesses &ndash; both large and small &ndash; the cost of accepting plastic cards and other forms of electronic payments is one of their highest operating costs. Most business owners have no qualms about paying reasonable fees for business services, and they do so every day for items such as cleaning services, security systems, Wi-Fi, and other basic needs. However, they have the ability to negotiate for those services in a fair and transparent marketplace, which they do not with the two major credit and debit card networks&hellip;.Credit card and debit card fees are dictated directly by Visa and MasterCard and are imposed on the majority of merchants in a take-it-or-leave-it fashion. Most businesses feel that failing to accept these major card brands is not a competitive option so they continue accepting electronic payments even though the costs are squeezing their business, and the inflexible acceptance rules fly in the face of free market enterprise,&rdquo;</em></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>This ongoing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-economy-cash-idUSKBN17S001" rel="noopener" target="_blank">push</a>&nbsp;for a cashless society in&nbsp;<a href="http://theantimedia.org/cash-europe-moves-elimination-paper-money/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Europe</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://theantimedia.org/indian-eliminated-80-percent-cash/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Asia,</a>&nbsp;and the Americas is about much more than just phasing out paper money &mdash; it&rsquo;s about central planners solidifying control over the public&rsquo;s wealth.</strong> This ongoing merger of corporate and government interests is the definition of crony capitalism. Regardless of the blatant collusion, the choices individuals make will still ultimately decide the direction for the future. Buying material goods on credit has become a lifestyle for millions, but the long-term costs of those decisions must be understood if there&rsquo;s any chance for progress.</p> <p>Americans have made a huge mistake by running up a staggering $<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/why-credit-cards-more-popular-than-debit-cards-2017-6" rel="noopener" target="_blank">1 trillion dollars</a>&nbsp;in credit card debt with an average interest rate of over&nbsp;<a href="http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/interest-rate-report-7517-up-2121.php" rel="noopener" target="_blank">16%</a>. Thanks to the Federal Reserve system, companies like Mastercard, Discover, and American Express can issue bonds paying&nbsp;extremely low-interest&nbsp;rates to the investors while simultaneously lending that money out to credit card holders at sky high rates.<strong> Companies will always take advantage of opportunities to increase profits, but the people&rsquo;s willingness to keep borrowing from them is at the core of the problem.</strong></p> <p>Access to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2015/05/12/the-feds-low-interest-rates-are-increasing-inequality/#4882a4ae78e9" rel="noopener" target="_blank">cheap capital</a>&nbsp;has been extended to the largest corporations for over a decade, but when it comes to small businesses or individuals there is a completely different&nbsp;<a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/080713/how-banks-set-interest-rates-your-loans.asp" rel="noopener" target="_blank">set of standards</a>. The pressure to consistently increase revenues and stock prices has led to an unnatural parasitic relationship between these companies and their customers. <strong>Cash is one of the last options that allows people a way to avoid dealing with this kind of shakedown</strong>.</p> <p><strong>More than&nbsp;<a href="http://www.frbsf.org/cash/publications/fed-notes/2016/november/state-of-cash-2015-diary-consumer-payment-choice" rel="noopener" target="_blank">30% of all payments</a>&nbsp;in the U.S. are still conducted in cash,</strong> but&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-23/mastercard-visa-poised-to-reap-spoils-of-india-s-war-on-cash" rel="noopener" target="_blank">financial intermediaries</a>&nbsp;that charge processing fees are&nbsp;<a href="http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/banking/finance/banking/visa-mastercard-lobby-government-to-ensure-they-dont-lose-out-to-homegrown-apps-like-upi-bhim/articleshow/58187456.cms" rel="noopener" target="_blank">joining</a>&nbsp;with the State and central banks to ensure the public has no room to innovate. Credit and debit cards have been the most convenient way to make purchases for over a decade, but emerging competition is slowly making them irrelevant.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/042215/bitcoin-transactions-vs-credit-card-transactions.asp" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Bitcoin</a>&nbsp;and smart contract platforms have introduced an entirely new marketplace for businesses and individuals outside the dominion of the old financial vanguard.</strong> Dozens of large corporations have founded the&nbsp;<a href="https://entethalliance.org/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Enterprise Ethereum Alliance</a>&nbsp;to build support for other developing alternative blockchain technologies aside from Bitcoin. This ongoing evolution towards peer-to-peer payments will eventually doom companies like Visa to the same fate as Blockbuster. Those in power may champion the benefits of going cashless, but going bankless may be the&nbsp;only way out of this extortion matrix.</p> <p><u><strong>The efforts by governments and the financial industry to eliminate cash are only going to intensify.</strong></u> Those who adapt to the new paradigm of peer-to-peer payments will thrive, while those who don&rsquo;t will have their hard earned money extracted to support a failing system. The illusion of banks being safe should have been&nbsp;shattered after the 2008 crisis, but eventually, the reality of how unstable the current institutions are will become apparent. <strong><em>Educating entrepreneurs and businesses on the benefits of Bitcoin and other decentralized options is the only way to shift this economy away from the control of central planners and towards a free and voluntary market.</em></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="510" height="310" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_cash.jpg?1500934503" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/banks-are-scheming-dominate-future-cashless-society#comments American Express American Express Bitcoin Bitcoin Business Central Banks credit card processor Credit cards Cryptocurrencies Debit cards developing alternative blockchain technologies E-commerce Federal Reserve Finance Financial services MasterCard Money Payment systems peer-to-peer Reality Transparency US Federal Reserve Visa Inc. Tue, 25 Jul 2017 03:20:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600400 at http://www.zerohedge.com Trump-Bezos War Escalates: "Is WaPo 'Lobbyist Weapon For Amazon' Against Congress?" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/trump-bezos-war-escalates-wapo-lobbyist-weapon-amazon-against-congress <p>After a <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/889654862379589633">quiet few hours contemplating the National Scout Jamboree</a>, President Trump just unleashed 'hell' once again at Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post, and Amazon.com.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_bezos.jpg"><img src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_bezos_0.jpg" width="600" height="323" /></a></p> <p>President Trump took his first shot at what appears to be referencing an article about his decision to end a CIA program that backed Syrian rebels. The Post&nbsp;<a href="http://thehill.com/news-by-subject/defense-homeland-security/342772-trump-shuts-down-cia-program-to-arm-syrian-rebels" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reported</a>&nbsp;last week that Trump shuttered a CIA program to support Syrian rebels in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a major victory for Russia. Russian officials had reportedly seen the program as an attack on the country’s interests...</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad.....</p> <p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/889672374458646528">July 25, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>Which seemed to stir him up even more, taking a shot at CNN and once again reminding his followers of Amazon's tax position...</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">So many stories about me in the <a href="https://twitter.com/washingtonpost">@washingtonpost</a> are Fake News. They are as bad as ratings challenged <a href="https://twitter.com/CNN">@CNN</a>. Lobbyist for Amazon and taxes?</p> <p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/889673743873843200">July 25, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>Which then rapidly escalated to what could - by some - be seen as a threat...</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?</p> <p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/889675644396867584">July 25, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script><p>It is <strong>not the first time that Trump has suggested that Amazon should be paying more than it currently does in taxes</strong>. In a speech outlining his 100-day action plan last October in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Trump remarked that “Amazon, which through its ownership controls the Washington Post, should be paying massive taxes but it’s not paying. It’s a very unfair playing field and you see what that’s doing to department stores all over the country.”</p> <p>It’s unclear exactly what tax issue Trump was referring to in his criticism of Amazon, the e-commerce giant has been collecting sales taxes in all states that have a sales tax since April 1. States are generally barred from requiring remote sellers to collect sales taxes unless they have a physical presence in the state under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling. The issue has split Republicans in Congress, with some supporting legislation that would give states more collection authority and others pushing to codify the Supreme Court ruling.</p> <p>With Jeff Bezos now a few ticks away from becoming the richest man in the world, one wonders if the only chance a relatively 'poor' Donald Trump has is under the guise of government to go after the serial propagandist newspaper.</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="728" height="392" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_bezos.jpg?1500951158" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/trump-bezos-war-escalates-wapo-lobbyist-weapon-amazon-against-congress#comments Amazon.com Amazon.com controversies American people of German descent Business Central Intelligence Agency Climate change skepticism and denial Congress Donald Trump Donald Trump Economy of the United States Jeff Bezos Legal affairs of Donald Trump Newspaper Politics ratings Supreme Court The Apprentice United States WWE Hall of Fame Tue, 25 Jul 2017 02:55:06 +0000 Tyler Durden 600413 at http://www.zerohedge.com "It's Not Good In The Long Run" Tokyo Exchange Chief Slams Kuroda's "Constant Market Distortions" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/tokyo-exchange-head-says-bojs-qqe-creates-constant-distortion-its-not-good-long-run <p>When the chief of a country&#39;s biggest stock exchange is warning that the central bank is buying too many equities, then you know you have a problem. <strong>Japan Exchange Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Akira Kiyota has become the latest member of Japan&rsquo;s financial establishment to publicly criticize the BOJ for its longrunning ETF buying program,</strong> according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-19/japan-bourse-head-turns-surprise-critic-of-kuroda-etf-purchases">Bloomberg</a>.</p> <p>To the litany of reasons why the program is bad for markets, the two most obvious biggest being that the bank is artificially inflating valuations while hurting efforts to make public companies more efficient, Kiyota, whose company operates the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the country&#39;s biggest, has added one more: <strong>That the central bank&rsquo;s buying artificially suppresses volatility, which makes traders less willing to trade.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not good in the long run,&rdquo;</strong> Kiyota said in an interview in Tokyo last week. <strong>&ldquo;If you keep buying 6 trillion yen a year, that means constant distortion.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>He later said that <strong>&ldquo;The BOJ buying ETFs during the market&rsquo;s infancy is welcome.&quot;</strong> But <strong>&ldquo;ETFs need to be able to grow as a market by themselves, without the BOJ&rsquo;s help.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24bojfive.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24bojfive_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 375px;" /></a></p> <p>As recently as September, Kiyota said he saw no problem with the ETF buys, believing that the Japanese equity market&rsquo;s capitalization of around 500 trillion yen would be too large for the central bank&rsquo;s purchases to distort the market and that, even if they did, the central bank would find a way to handle it. <strong>But then he took a closer look at trading volumes on the exchange.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;A gauge tracking volatility on the Nikkei 225 has been hovering near 12-year lows, hitting the least since July 2005 on Friday. Kiyota points to how the value of shares changing hands on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell below 2 trillion yen on some days last quarter, even as he acknowledged the BOJ buying &ldquo;supports&rdquo; stock prices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;The stock index levels themselves might be good, but Japan&rsquo;s cash market isn&rsquo;t really active,&rdquo;</strong> Kiyota said. <strong>&ldquo;When volatility decreases, trading volume also shrinks.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-19/japan-bourse-head-turns-surprise-critic-of-kuroda-etf-purchases">Bloomberg</a> explains, Kiyota&rsquo;s outburst is notable not just for his criticisms but for the fact that he chose to spoke out. Members of Japan&rsquo;s financial establishment rarely criticize other parts of the establishment, and it could be a sign that public opinion is turning against BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroa&rsquo;s QQE efforts. Bloomberg recently reported that some inside the BOJ were said to be concerned about the program&rsquo;s sustainability.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24bojfour.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24bojfour_0_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 281px;" /></a></p> <p>Through its ETF-buying program, which began in 2010, the BOJ has become the single largest whale operating in the country&rsquo;s equity market. <strong>Last July, the central bank opted to double the size of the program to 6 trillion yen (or $54 billion) from 3 trillion yen.</strong> As of the end of June, the BOJ owned about 71 percent of all shares in Japan-listed ETFs at the end of June, according to a Bloomberg analysis of data from the central bank and Japan&rsquo;s Investment Trusts Association. <strong>That&rsquo;s equivalent to about 2.5 percent of Japanese stock market capitalization. By the <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-14/bank-japan-will-be-top-shareholder-55-companies-end-2017">end of this year, </a>the central bank will have become the top shareholder in 55 of the companies included in Japan&rsquo;s main stock index, the Nikkei 225.</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24boj.JPG"><img alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/2017.07.24boj_0.JPG" style="width: 500px; height: 263px;" /></a></p> <p>Furthermore, the <a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-05/bank-japan-bought-dip-over-half-time-last-4-years">Financial Times</a> recently presented evidence of the BOJ&rsquo;s willingness to step in and buy the dips &ndash; the exact practice that Kiyota is criticizing &ndash; <strong>by showing that the central bank stepped in on half of the market&rsquo;s down days between 2013 and 2017. Of the 1,038 business days between April 2013 and March 2017, there were 449 sessions where the market was down: the BOJ bought during more than half of them.</strong></p> <p>While the BOJ doesn&rsquo;t buy individual shares directly, it&rsquo;s the ultimate owner of stakes purchased through ETFs. <strong>Estimates of the central bank&rsquo;s underlying holdings can be gleaned from the BOJ&rsquo;s public records, regulatory filings by companies and ETF managers, and statistics from the Investment Trusts Association of Japan.</strong></p> <p>Last week, the BOJ kept monetary policy, including the ETF program, unchanged after the close of its two-day policy meeting, as was widely expected.</p> <p>Critics complain that the BOJ purchases are giving a free ride to poorly-run firms and crowding out shareholders who would otherwise push for better corporate governance. But a far more substantial question is often ignored: <strong>Just how will the BOJ ever unwind its unprecedented holdings of not only bonds, which are now roughly 100% of Japan&#39;s GDP, but also of stocks, without crashing both markets?</strong><br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="477" height="271" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_japan.jpg?1500940692" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/tokyo-exchange-head-says-bojs-qqe-creates-constant-distortion-its-not-good-long-run#comments Bank of Japan Business Ch??, Tokyo Economy Economy of Japan Finance Investment Trusts Association Japan Japan’s Investment Trusts Association Monetary Policy Nihonbashi, Tokyo Nikkei Nikkei 225 Stock market Stock market index Tokyo Tokyo Stock Exchange Volatility Yen Tue, 25 Jul 2017 02:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600404 at http://www.zerohedge.com Tulsi Gabbard: US Addicted to Regime Change; CIA Funded and Armed Al Qaeda in Syria http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/tulsi-gabbard-us-addicted-regime-change-cia-funded-and-armed-al-qaeda-syria <p><em>Content originally published at <a href="http://ibankcoin.com/">iBankCoin.com</a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> In a brazen attempt at honesty, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) of Hawaii went on Tucker Carlson tonight and declared the US was addicted to regime change and that we armed and funded Al Qaeda in Syria.</p> <p>In late 2016, Gabbard introduced the '<a href="https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/video-rep-tulsi-gabbard-introduces-legislation-stop-arming-terrorists">Stop Funding Terrorist Act</a>' to Congress -- but hardly anyone on the left or on the neocon right listened. Over the course of the past two years, we've seen Russia on the right side of history, aiding the only legitimate government in Syria -- which has provided the media with endless demonization campaigns depicting both Assad and Putin as monsters, who both gassed innocents and bombed out hospitals, whilst ignoring the horrors and the blind hatred of the people attempting to overthrow Assad.</p> <p>The stated goal of Putin's meddling in Syria was to protect Russian's sole Mediterranean port and aid an ally of Russia who has been loyal to the Kremlin for decades. US policy has been soft on ISIS and hard on Assad, seeking to support so called 'moderate rebels' to overthrow him. The most important fallacy about these 'moderate rebels' is that they are, in fact, an Al Qaeda spinoff, working in conjunction with ISIS to install the Caliphate in Syria. In other words, we're now supporting the same people who allegedly attacked us on 9/11.</p> <p>When Trump ended the brainless CIA project to arm and fund terrorists in Syria, the media painted it as ceding to the demands of Putin. However, what our lawmakers have failed to do is sell America on the idea of extended war in Syria, which would undoubtedly cost inordinate amounts of money and lives. Instead, they simply point towards isolated events to monsterize Assad and draw on the feeble emotional strings of the American normie. </p> <p>If US policy is to not negotiate with terrorists, then why the heck are we arming them? Let the regional players sort Syria out and leave us the hell out of it.</p> <p>One of the only sane democrats, Tulsi Gabbard, weighs in.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QAafPR55Wns" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/tulsi-gabbard-us-addicted-regime-change-cia-funded-and-armed-al-qaeda-syria#comments al-Qaeda Bashar al-Assad Central Intelligence Agency Congress Gabbard Geography of Asia International relations Islam Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Mediterranean Non-interventionism Politics Politics of Syria Syria Terrorism Terrorism in Syria Tulsi Gabbard Western Asia Women in the United States Army Tue, 25 Jul 2017 02:36:37 +0000 The_Real_Fly 600411 at http://www.zerohedge.com UC-Berkeley Adds "Laser Hair Removal" To Student Health Plan http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/uc-berkeley-adds-laser-hair-removal-student-health-plan <p><a href="http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=9469"><em>Authored by Adam Sabes via CampusReform.org,</em></a></p> <p>The University of California, Berkeley will soon add<em><strong> &ldquo;laser hair removal&rdquo; </strong></em>and <em><strong>&ldquo;fertility preservation&rdquo; </strong></em>to the list of <em><strong>&ldquo;transgender student services&rdquo;</strong></em> covered by its student health insurance plan.</p> <p><a href="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_hair.jpg"><img height="309" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/07/16/20170724_hair_0.jpg" width="600" /></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.dailycal.org/2017/07/19/berkeley-ship-adds-new-healthcare-benefits-transgender-students/">According to <em>The Daily Californian</em></a>, the two new services will be officially added on August 1, complementing existing services for transgender students that are <a href="https://uhs.berkeley.edu/insurance/ship-benefits/insurance-benefits-transgender-students">already covered</a>, including &ldquo;gender confirmation (reassignment) surgery,&rdquo; &ldquo;breast augmentation (MTF top surgery),&rdquo; &ldquo;female to male top surgery,&rdquo; &ldquo;hormone therapy,&rdquo; and more.</p> <p>Bahar Navab, who manages the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) for University Health Services, explained that fertility damage is a common side-effect of the hormones that some transgender individuals take, and that fertility preservation treatments enable those individuals to become pregnant or produce sperm without having to stop taking the hormones.</p> <p><strong>Navab also pointed out that most health insurance plans do not cover services such as &ldquo;male-to-female top surgery&rdquo; and hair removal because they consider them cosmetic procedures, whereas Berkeley&rsquo;s plan views them as treatments for &ldquo;gender dysphoria,&rdquo; </strong>though they will also be offered to student with other medical necessities.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Our Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee (SHIAC) had discussed adding these benefits for transgender patients two years ago,&rdquo; Kim LaPean, communications manager at University Health Services Tang Center, told <em>Campus Reform</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;When we brought the benefit additions back up for discussion with SHIAC this past year, the student representatives expressed their support and requested to expand the benefits to anyone with medical necessity as well (e.g. a patient with ovarian cancer may who may also want fertility preservation).&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>LaPean acknowledged that &ldquo;less than 0.3% of utilizing members currently receive transgender surgery,&rdquo;</strong> a figure that university officials do not expect to increase significantly, but said &ldquo;it&rsquo;s important to reiterate that the expanded benefits apply to anyone with medical necessity as well (e.g. a patient with ovarian cancer may who may also want fertility preservation).&rdquo;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;There are an infinite number of ways that someone can identify in regard to gender,&rdquo; asserted Laura Alie, chair of the Transgender Care Team at the UHS Tang Center, <a href="http://news.berkeley.edu/2017/07/17/tang-centers-transgender-services/">told Berkeley&rsquo;s News department</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s our goal to make sure trans or gender-nonconforming students feel completely at home in the Tang Center, no matter what department they go to.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Recently-elected student senator Juniperangelica Cordova, however, told <em>The Daily Cal</em> that while she thinks the university has been doing &ldquo;a good job&rdquo; of accommodating transgender students such as herself, she plans to work with the Tang Center to go even further.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a matter of making sure that everyone who works at Tang is up-to-date in terms of using our names and our pronouns,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m excited to see new procedures and new coverage being added and I&rsquo;m looking forward to working with Tang this year in making sure trans folks are healthy.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Navab indicated openness to Cordova&rsquo;s goals, saying, &ldquo;Future benefit additions will be considered if they are requested by our clients and SHIAC.&rdquo;</p> <p>According to <a href="https://uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/shiptransgenderflier.pdf">an updated health insurance plan</a>, which was revised in 2016 to incorporate several services for transgender students, <strong><em>students can pay as little as 10 percent of the cost of most transgender services, including &ldquo;top surgery,&rdquo; &ldquo;bottom surgery,&rdquo; and hormone therapy.</em></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="853" height="439" alt="" src="http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20170724_hair.jpg?1500934062" /> </div> </div> </div> http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/uc-berkeley-adds-laser-hair-removal-student-health-plan#comments Fertility preservation Gender Gender dysphoria Gender transitioning Genderqueer Health KIM laser LGBT Sex reassignment surgery Social Issues Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee Tang Center Trans man Transgender Transgender health care Transgender legal history in the United States UHS Tang Center University Health Services Tang Center University of California University of California, Berkeley Tue, 25 Jul 2017 02:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 600399 at http://www.zerohedge.com