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My friends, it is frightening how simple we are and how easily we are manipulated simply because we are intellectually lazy.
The U.S. establishment has confused cause and effect by and through a flag-waving mania in America. "Patriotism" throughout history has covered a multitude of mischief. We are seeing it now!
Phony patriotism is strong leverage against a population ignorant of the ways of treason by its own government. I also have no doubt that U.S. history is full of wars "for democracy" killing millions under the propaganda of patriotism with the majority support of the people and the full support of all but a small cadre of "elected representatives" — who are paid by the federal government, incidentally. In addition the millions of foreign dead, these wars have left hundreds of thousands of American military members dead or maimed physically and/or emotionally.
The whole world knows about the U.S. military industrial complex war machine and its pursuit of profits. But Americans tend to turn a blind eye.
When George Washington said "government is force," he meant that government is force against its own people.
Since by definition government is force, then it follows that government will use any ruse imaginable to increase its power. Increased use of government force or power could backfire unless skillfully handled and justified in the public mind. Therefore governments rarely take action unless accompanied by skillful propaganda.
The brouhaha over certain NFL players' refusal to stand for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner has erupted anew. The reaction of most Americans — who claim to believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights — is that this expression cannot be tolerated... it is un-American... it is "unpatriotic."
But is it? Or is it not the most American of all things to resist and rebel against what we perceive as tyranny and its symbols?
If we deny one — whether through intimidation and threats, monetary sanctions or government force — his rights, are we not creating a situation where rights are just privileges that can be denied on a whim? If we support police power to invade our homes and wallets and steal our property just because government has made it "legal," are we not again conceding that rights are merely privileges?
You cannot say, "I believe in the 1st Amendment, but...; I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but...; I believe in the 4th Amendment, but..." There is no but.
And if that government making "legal" the assaults on our liberty is represented by a symbol, shouldn't we conclude that that symbol is a symbol of tyranny? I wrote about the phony patriotism of flag worship when the Colin Kaepernick stir occurred last year.
In light of the new kerfuffle over NFL players refusing to stand, and comments to some of our columns on preserving liberty of late, I felt it was time to run it again. Here it is:
The American golden calf
As a young boy, I enjoyed my family's bantam chickens that laid very small eggs and hatched very small chicks. Theirs was a small and miniature world.
One day one of my bantams started sitting on eggs to hatch its chicks. Something happened to her eggs but she continued to sit, so I decided to put a duck egg under her. Duck eggs are at least three times bigger than bantam eggs and take a few days longer to hatch, but she dutifully sat on the egg several days longer. She hatched the duckling and, as you can imagine, it thought that his world was normal and that the bantam hen was his mother.
The duckling eventually grew into a full sized mallard duck, probably five or six times the size of its bantam mother. The full-grown duck would follow its hen mother around as would normal chicks. It was a funny sight to watch.
But I remember thinking, even as a small boy, that the duck's entire reality was that the bantam hen was his mother and that was the way the world worked. He had no need to consider anything else.
This is the world of the American people today. Their perceptions of reality control them and they who control their perceptions control the American people.
Our perception of America has always been that she is the mother country and ordained by God, good and just and a beacon of freedom. This is hammered into our psyches from our early days.
From pre-school up, we are taught to worship the state. I don't know if it is still done, but in the public (non)education system, for many years, schoolchildren across the South — and elsewhere, I suppose — recited the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. Political rallies and government meetings are still often begun with a recitation of the pledge.
People say it with patriotic fervor, with their hands placed dutifully on their hearts.
Sporting events, political rallies and other public venues are often kicked off with the playing and/or singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Before the song begins, people are instructed to rise, men to remove their hats,and people place their hands over their hearts. They don't realize its value as a propaganda tool.
We have come to equate the flag, the pledge and the national anthem with patriotism, and patriotism with government, country and support for government, support for foreign wars and veterans. Anything less is "un-American."
Beyond its patriot fervor is the almost religious fervor and religious symbolism of the American people's actions when the pledge and the national anthem begin: the ritual standing, removal of hats, placing of hands and rote recitation. In the book of Daniel, Israelites Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) refused to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar contrary to the king's decree. The king ordered them to be thrown into the furnace after it was turned up to seven times its normal temperature.
NFL player Colin Kaepernick created a stir last week when he refused to stand for the national anthem. He was not subsequently ordered into the furnace by the king, but he was burned symbolically by many football fans who torched their jerseys. Americans fumed that he should "leave" America if he can't support the flag and that he had disrespected the flag, the nation and veterans.
What are we saying when we say that someone "disrespected the flag," "disrespected the country," "disrespected the veterans" if he chooses to not stand for the national anthem? What is the flag but a piece of cloth? By the reaction to Kaepernick, it seems it has become more of a golden calf to represent mother country or the god of government.
Our mother has become a witch. Yes, same symbols, same flag, same pledge of allegiance, but a decadent spirit controlling the perceptions of the American people, keeping them on the animal farm (controlling their perceptions) long enough to impoverish and enslave them.
Time and gradualism can change a system all the way from human liberty to slavery (the animal farm) over a few generations without anyone being aware except a very few, those who ask questions.
"America, love it or leave it," is a tired canard. One cannot leave it except at great cost. Recall that in 1860-1861 11 states attempted to "leave it" in order to preserve their liberty and rights as sovereign states. They were branded as "insurrectionists" and attacked by the War Party and the result was their economic and social destruction, subjugation and the deaths of some 850,000 people (the equivalent of about 8.5 million people today). When one talks of secession today he's branded as a racist, crazy or a radical and told secession is "illegal."
One can love his country but hate his government and its actions. I love America but not the people who control America and its government. I love America, but its rulers are alien to individual freedom, its government now anathema to liberty.
If the flag is symbolic of government and that government lies at every turn, enslaves its people, steals from their labor, passes laws that are an execration to their Christian faith, takes from them their liberty, mandates the murder of 1 million babies a year, imports tens of thousands of immigrants to replace American workers and drive down wages, and that makes war on other countries that have not threatened us, why should any acknowledge its presence with more than a sneer?
Wars are not for patriotism and "democracy," as we are propagandized. And our freedom has not been threatened by outside forces in 200 years. Wars are to kill; i.e., mass ritual murder. Additionally, big business and globalist banksters in league with Satan reap massive profits for the killing and sacrifice of young men (lambs) on all sides of combat.
If the flag is symbolic of the Constitution, that Constitution died long ago — destroyed by a crony railroad lawyer and mercantilist who made war on a sovereign people to benefit monied interests.
If the flag is symbolic of freedom, that freedom no longer exists — stolen long ago by crony corporations and globalist banksters and unaccountable oligarchical black-robed satanists and idol worshippers who usurped their authority created laws out of thin air under the guise of "interpreting the Constitution" a dictate not granted them under the original document.
The phony form of patriotism instilled within the population is strong leverage against independent thinking, keeping people ignorant of the treason by our own government.
America today is a more advanced state of fascism than World War II Germany and Italy. Fascism never identifies itself as totalitarianism. It always calls itself democracy.
Democracy is the politically correct word and cover term for modern American fascism.
American fascism has all the attributes and trappings of benevolent totalitarianism. No, benevolent totalitarianism is not an oxymoron.
The word benevolent in this instance means that the general perception of the population of the American system is that it is benevolent. This is only to say that modern America is full-blown fascism with a pretty face. It is every bit as deadly to human liberty as any tyranny in history and I would add far more sinister because of its propaganda sophistication.
Any regime that can spin tons of fiat paper money with printing presses or electronically is a slave system regardless of what it calls itself or regardless of the general population's perception of it.
Our mother has been transformed into a witch no matter how much we love her.
Just before North Korea’s foreign minister was due to address the United Nations, the Pentagon announced that U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday, in a show of force which "demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump." The flight was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any U.S. fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon added.
B-1B Lancer prepares to take off from Andersen AFB, Guam, Sept. 23, 2017
According to Reuters, the B-1B Lancer bombers came from Guam and the U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts came from Okinawa, Japan. The Pentagon saod the operation showed the seriousness with which it took North Korea’s “reckless behavior.”
— U.S. Pacific Command (@PacificCommand) September 23, 2017
“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, calling North Korea’s weapons program “a grave threat" adding that “we are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”
#PACOM stands prepared to use our full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies if called upon to do so.
— U.S. Pacific Command (@PacificCommand) September 23, 2017
The DMZ is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th Parallel, separating North Korea from South Korea. It was created in 1953, following the armistice which ended the Korean War.
The patrols came after officials and experts said a small earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday was probably not man-made, easing fears Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its last one. Reversing its original assessment, China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor.
While the US has flown similar sorties before, according to The Aviationist, the show of force is a bit more interesting than usual, for four reasons:
- it is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century;
- unlike all the previous ones, the latest sortie was flown at night, hence it was not a show of force staged to take some cool photographs;
- no allied aircraft is known to have taken part in the mission at the time of writing, whereas most of the previous B-1 missions near the Korean Peninsula involved also ROKAF (Republic Of Korea Air Force) and/or JASDF (Japan’s Air Self Defense Force) jets;
- it was a U.S. Air Force job: no U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth jet took part in the show of force this time, even though the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has taken part in all the most recent formations sent over Korea to flex muscles against Pyongyang. The photo here below shows the “package” assembled for Sept. 14’s show of force.
Spain found itself on the verge of a full-blown sovereign crisis on Saturday, after the "rebel region" of Catalonia rejected giving more control to the central government in defiance of authorities in Madrid who are trying to suppress an independence referendum on Oct. 1.
As tensions rise ahead of the planned Catalan referendum on October 1, and as Madrid's crackdown on separatist passions took a turn for the bizarre overnight when as we reported Spain’s plan to send boatloads of military police to Catalonia to halt the referendum backfired with dockers in two ports staging a boycott and refused access, on Saturday Spain's Public Prosecutor's Office told Catalan Police chief Josep Lluis Trapero that his officers must now obey orders from a senior state-appointed police coordinator, Spanish news agency EFE reported on Saturday.
The Catalan Police, however, disagreed and as Bloomberg reports, the SAP union - the largest trade group for the 17,000-member Catalan Police, known as Mossos d'Esquadra - said it would resist hours after prosecutors Saturday ordered that it accept central-government coordination. The rejection echoed comments by Catalan separatist authorities.
“We don’t accept this interference of the state, jumping over all existing coordination mechanisms,” the region’s Interior Department chief Joaquim Forn said in brief televised comments. “The Mossos won’t renounce exercising their functions in loyalty to the Catalan people.”
The Mossos are one of the symbols of Catalonia’s autonomy and for many Catalans the prosecutor’s decision may be reminiscent of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when the Mossos were abolished.
In a joint press conference today with the Catalan home affairs minister Joaquim Forn and the Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Forn said that the move by Spain was "unacceptable".
“We denounce the Spanish government’s will of seizing the Mossos, as they did with Catalonia's finances" Forn said adding that that "the Catalan government does not accept this interference, it bypasses all the institutions that the current legal framework already has in place to guarantee the security of Catalonia." Additionally, Trapero expressed his intention to not accept the measure, which he described as "interference by the state", and also warned that "it skips over all the bodies of the legal framework to coordinate the security of Catalonia".
Earlier on Saturday, El Pais reported that Civil Guard Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos, chief of staff of the Interior Ministry’s security department, was named by a prosecutor to coordinate the efforts of the Civil Guard, the National Police and the local Mossos. Spanish media reported unnamed Home Office sources as saying the measure did not mean withdrawing any powers from the Mossos formally, but rather requiring them to submit to a joint coordination operation to stop the Catalan referendum taking place on October 1.
However, shortly after the reshuffling, Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero rejected giving up control to the central government during a meeting with the heads of the other police forces on Saturday, adding that all possible legal challenges would be studied. According to La Vanguardia Trapero "protested at that meeting about the decision to impose central government control" on the regional police force.
Also on Saturday morning, as the police meeting in Barcelona took place, the regional interior minister, Forn, published a defiant message on Twitter: "We will encounter many difficulties. The state wants to take control of our self-government, but they will not stop us! #HelloRepublic".
— Joaquim Forn (@quimforn) September 23, 2017
Ironically, as Bloomberg writes, while Mossos chief Trapero reports to the regional government, his force’s funding is mostly provided by Madrid and it’s supposed to take orders from judges and prosecutors from across the country. Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution lets the central government take control of a regional administration if it poses a threat to the national interest. Rajoy has already made moves in that direction.
Earlier this week, the budget ministry took over management of Catalan’s finances and will issue paychecks to more than 200,000 public workers in the region, including the police.
That said, any more direct challenge to the Mossos would be fraught with risk because Trapero, its leader, has become something of a local hero since leading the response to the terrorist attacks in August. Separatists are selling T-shirts with his face printed on them.
According to Reuters, the Catalan government also believes that the Mossos takeover bypasses the Catalan statute - article 164 - and constitutional law and the Spanish prosecutor that ruled in favour of Madrid taking control had overstepped his legal boundaries, saying that it had no power to rule on who had the authority to issue orders to Mossos.
The prosecutor had ordered that the Catalan police, the Spanish National Police and Spain's Guardia Civil be managed from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Madrid. The decision, according to the prosecution, aims at "reinforcing the operation to prevent crime and to keep public order" a week before the October 1 independence referendum.
The decision was announced during a meeting between the prosecutor and the chiefs of the three police forces.
The disobedience will fuel further speculation the Mossos will not work with the national Civil Guard in Spain’s largest regional economy. The standoff came a day after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government acknowledged it’s sending more reinforcements to help control street demonstrations and carry out a separate court order to halt the vote.
Additionally, the latest move by Madrid will also increase the tension between the two sides which increasingly looks like it could descend into a direct confrontation as neither side appears to be willing to back down.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont speaking a pro-independence rally
Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s president, called the independence vote in an attempt to push the secession movement forward after decades of political and legal fights over the region’s traditions and language. Since Rajoy took office in 2011, he’s had persistent clashes with separatists seeking to foment a backlash against Madrid. Catalonia is home to about 7.5 million people, or 16 percent of the population, but accounts for a fifth of the economy, on a par with Portugal and Finland.
Several pro-independence groups have called for widespread protests on Sunday in central Barcelona. “Let’s respond to the state with an unstoppable wave of democracy,” a Whatsapp message which was used to organize the demonstration read.
The Catalonian government opened a new website on Saturday with details of how and where to vote on Oct. 1, challenging several court rulings that had blocked previous sites and declared the referendum unconstitutional.
“You can’t stem the tide,” Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont said on Twitter in giving the link to the new website.
But Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted again that the vote should not go ahead. “It will not happen because this would mean liquidating the law,” he said at the PP event in Palma de Mallorca. Acting on court orders, the Spanish state police has already raided the regional government offices, arrested temporarily several senior Catalan officials accused of organizing the referendum and seized ballot papers, ballot boxes, voting lists and electoral material and literature. The finance ministry in Madrid has also taken control of regional finances to make sure public money is not being spent to pay for the logistics the vote or to campaign.
How this escalating clash between Madrid and Catalonia is resolved over the coming week will define the fate of Spain for years to come.
As HowMuch.net notes, the debt will only grow higher unless President Trump and the U.S. Congress can agree to unprecedented spending cuts combined with tax increases.
Don’t count on that happening anytime soon. Most people think that an eye-popping $20+ trillion debt is insurmountable, and in fact, it is the largest in the world by far.
But when you look at another fiscal measure - the ratio of debt-to-GDP - the U.S. is not in the worst situation...
HowMuch.net's visualization allows you to quickly see how the U.S. government’s debt compares to other countries around the world. The size of the country correlates to the size of the debt. The U.S. and Japan stand out because they have the highest debts in the world ($20.17T and $11.59T, respectively). Other countries, like Germany and Brazil, appear much smaller because their debts are comparatively tiny ($2.45T and $1.45T, respectively). We then color-coded each country according to its debt-to-GDP ratio. Green countries have a healthy margin, but dark red and fuchsia countries have debts that are even bigger than their entire economies.
Top 10 countries with the Worst Debt-to-GDP Ratios
- Japan (245% at $11.59T)
- Greece (173% at $338B)
- Italy (138% at $138B
- Portugal (133% at $274B)
- Belgium (111% at $111B)
- Spain (106% at $106B)
- Canada (106% at $106B)
- Ireland (105% at $105B)
- France (98% at $98B)
- Brazil (82% at $82B)
The debt-to-GDP ratio is a critical metric for evaluating a country’s fiscal health. It makes a lot of sense for the American government to have a higher debt than a much smaller country, like Germany. Think about it like this: Bill Gates is worth $86 billion, so he can afford a much higher credit card bill than me or you.
That’s why it’s important to consider the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of each country, a number which represents the sum of all transactions occurring in the economy.
Once you understand the public debt as a percentage of GDP, you get a level playing field for countries on different economic scales. When you think about it like this, the U.S. isn’t even among the ten worst sovereign debts in the world.
China has begun construction of the first Type 075 Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD).
Construction most likely started in January or February of this year, with some satellite imagery and digital photos appearing online of at least one pre-fabricated hull cell. The Type 075 will be the largest amphibious warfare vessel in the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with similar displacement and dimensions as the U.S. Navy Wasp Class LHD. The PLA has also made it known that the force plans to expand the current PLA Marine Corps from 20,000 personnel to 100,000.
As China completes preparations for its new military base in Djibouti, located in the strategic Horn of Africa, it has also continued its substantial investment in developing the port of Gwadar, Pakistan. Not only will Gwadar become a key logistics hub as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the “One Belt, One Road” trade initiative, but will also be a key naval base in providing security for China’s maritime trade in the region. When these developments are viewed in conjunction with the decision to reduce the size of the army by 300,000 personnel, it is obvious that China has reassessed the strategic focus of the nation’s armed forces.
The PLAN’s intends to expand the current force structure of the PLA Marine Corps fivefold, from two brigades to ten brigades. At the same time, the PLAN will be increased in size and capabilities, with many new, large displacement warships of varying types added to the fleet. Of particular interest, are the addition of at least two Type 055 destroyers, an indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier of a new class, two more Type 071 LPDs, and the first Type 075 LHD.
China is rapidly gaining the ability to project power and naval presence at increasing distances from its shores. Not only is the PLAN expanding in tonnage, but its new vessels are considerably more capable. The PLAN will be striving to add and train an additional 25% more personnel over the next half a decade, in an effort to add the skilled crews, pilots, and support personnel that will facilitate such an ambitious expansion.
The Chinese military leadership previously decided to double the number of AMIDs starting in 2014. A 100% increase in the PLA AMIDs and a 500% increase in the PLAMC denotes a major strategic shift in the defense strategy of the Chinese state. With the successful growth of the Silk Road Economic Belt/Maritime Silk Road Initiative, it becomes readily apparent that China must focus on securing and defending this global economic highway. China has made a massive investment, in partnership with many nations, in ensuring the success of a massive system of economic arteries that will span half of the globe. Many of these logistics arteries will transit strategic international maritime territories. In light of these developments, a military shift in focus away from fighting a ground war in China, to a greater maritime presence and power projection capability are quite logical.
China began construction of a maritime support facility in Djibouti in 2016, to protect its interests in Africa, facilitate joint anti-piracy operations in the region, and to provide a naval base to support long range and extended deployments of PLAN assets to protect the shipping lanes transiting the Strait of Aden. In addition, China invested approximately $46 billion USD in developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, including major investment in the infrastructure of the port of Gwadar. The governments of both nations desire the stationing of a flotilla of PLAN warships in the port, and possibly a rapid reaction force of PLA Marines. Gwadar is well positioned to not only protect China’s economic interests in Pakistan, but also to react to any crisis threatening the free passage of maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. The forward positioning of naval forces will allow the PLAN to protect the vital crude oil and natural gas imports transiting the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and into the Indian Ocean from routes west of the Horn of Africa. In light of the fact that 6% of natural gas imports and 34% of crude oil imports by sea to China transit this region, the desire to secure these waterways becomes readily apparent. Not only would the presence of PLAN warships and marines help to secure China’s vital interests in Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in particular, but would also afford the PLAN a base of operations close to the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 51% of all Chinese crude oil imports by sea transit the strait, as well as 24% of seaborne natural gas imports. Any closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to a theoretical military conflict or an act of terrorism or piracy would have a huge impact on the Chinese economy.
Although the maritime trade routes transiting the Indian Ocean are of vital importance to keeping the manufacturing engine of China running uninterrupted, the South China Sea is of even greater importance. Not only does the region facilitate the passage of $5 trillion USD in global trade annually, but much of this trade is comprised of Chinese energy imports and exports of all categories. The geographic bottle neck of the Strait of Malacca, to the southwest of the South China Sea, affords the transit of 84% of all waterborne crude oil and 30% of natural gas imports to China. The closure of the strait, or a significant disruption of maritime traffic in the South China Sea, would have a devastating impact on the Chinese state. It is in the vital national interest of China to secure the region based on this fact alone. In addition, establishing a series of strategically located island outposts, covering the approaches to the South China Sea, affords China a greater ability to secure the entire region, establish Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) and defend the southern approaches to the Chinese mainland, while enforcing the nation’s claims to valuable energy and renewable resources in the region.
China continues to expand and reinforce its island holdings in both the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. The massive construction on Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef will likely be completed later this year. These three islands, in conjunction with the surveillance stations, port facilities and helicopter bases located on a number of key smaller atolls, afford China the capability to project power and presence in the region at a level that no other regional or global power can match.
As China moves forward in expanding the PLAMC and the amphibious divisions of the PLA, it has maintained a swift schedule in shipbuilding which aims to provide a balanced and flexible amphibious sealift capability. China intends to tailor a modern and sizable amphibious warfare fleet that is capable of defending the growing maritime interests of the nation, and which can provide a significant power projection capability that can be employed across the full breadth of the Maritime Silk Road.
The first two classes of amphibious vessels that were seen as essential to design, construct and supply to the PLAN were the Type 072A class Landing Ship Tank (LST) and the Type 071 class Landing Platform Dock (LPD). There are a total of six Type 071 LPDs planned, with four currently in service and the fifth vessel reaching completion this year.
Plans to build a large LHD began in 2012, with a number of different designs contemplated. The class was known in intervening years as the Type 075 or Type 081. The Type 075 design was finalized and plans were made to begin construction in 2016. Although many analysts believe that the PLAN intends to build two such vessels, there will most likely be a need for one or two additional vessels of this class to meet the growing maritime security and power projection requirements of the nation. All signs point to the PLAN’s intentions of establishing two to three Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), as they have slowly and methodically developed a modern amphibious warfare skillset over the past two decades. They have taken a similar approach to establishing a modern carrier-based naval aviation arm.
From what is known, the Type 075 will displace 40,000 tons, have an LOA of 250 meters, and a beam of 30 meter. The Type 075 will be fitted with a large well deck, allowing for amphibious operations by LCACs, AAVs, and conventional landing craft. Each LHD could theoretically carry approximately 1,500 to 2,000 marines, a full complement of MBTs and AAVs (approximately 25-40 armored vehicles), 60 to 80 light vehicles, and ample cargo stowage space. The helicopter compliment will most likely consist of approximately 20 Z-8 transport helicopters, two Z-18F ASW helicopters, one or two Ka-31 AEW helicopters, four Z-9 utility helicopters, and possibly 6 to 8 naval versions of the Z-10 attack helicopter. With no VSTOL fixed wing attack aircraft in service, the PLAN would most likely opt for using a rotary wing attack element for the LHDs.
China has been slowly and methodically building the foundations of economic and military security and is offering those nations that cooperate as part of the New Silk Road/Maritime Silk Road a seat at the table. In order to create a mutually beneficial trade and transportation network, one that may soon supersede or compete against others, China must secure its vital interests, backed up by military force, and build a viable and sustainable naval presence in key maritime regions.
China has clearly signaled that its defense strategy is changing.
The Chinese leadership feels that the sovereignty of mainland China is secure and is shifting focus to securing the vital maritime trade lifeline that not only ensures the security of the nation, but will allow China to increase its economic prosperity and trade partnerships with a multitude of nations.
Whether the United States decides to stand in the way of China’s growth or chooses to participate more constructively in a mutually beneficial relationship is yet to be determined. Without a doubt, China has set its course and will not deviate from this course unless some overwhelming force is brought to bear.
Apparently, this is what Steve Bannon meant when he swore he would never turn on his old boss during a series of interviews he gave after leaving the West Wing.
The simmering feud between Breitbart and President Donald Trump intensified on Friday as the Trump communications team barred a Breitbart reporter from the press pool during a Trump rally in Alabama, where the president was campaigning for Luther Strange (aka "Big L") - his pick to permanently fill the Alabama senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump announced his support for Strange weeks ago, eliciting howls of outrage from Bannon and Breitbart, who have accused Strange of being a “swamp creature” and blasted him for his association with former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned earlier this year following a widely publicized sex scandal. Strange served as attorney general of Alabama (Sessions’ old job) under Bentley, and has been working with Trump for months after being appointed by Bentley to temporarily fill Sessions' old seat.
— Jeff Poor (@jeff_poor) September 22, 2017
But for better or worse, Strange is Trump's man - for now, at least - and the president showered him with praise during the rally. But while cycling through his greatest hits (everything from the second amendment, to Hillary-bashing, to his promised border wall), he found time to slip in a subtle dig at Bannon, joking that he had "fired" certain former staffers for disloyalty. Bannon and Breitbart have consistently supported Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore, who will face off against Strange in Tuesday's crucial Republican runoff primary.
Anyone who has closely followed the many staffing changes at the White House will, of course, remember that Bannon and the White House communications department have offered conflicting accounts of the terms of his departure, with Bannon insisting that he left voluntarily, while the communications staff have suggested that he was fired.
A similar ambiguity exists surrounding the terms of Bannon loyalist and former Breitbart employee Sebastian Gorka's departure, who, as luck would have it, appeared on Fox Business just minutes before Trump took the stage to slam the president over his support for Strange.
In a brief segment, Gorka criticized Strange for his association with Bentley and claimed that Moore was the true “MAGA” candidate.
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Of course, when Bannon – who is back running Breitbart – promised that he wouldn’t use the website as a cudgel against Trump, he did so with the caveat that Breitbart would hold the administration accountable should it abandon the nationalist, populist agenda that Trump promised the American people during the campaign.
To wit, Breitbart has become increasingly frustrated with Trump’s perceived abdication of his nationalist agenda by sending more troops to Afghanistan (after promising to bring troops home) and, more intolerably, his decision to allow DACA to be preserved in law by striking a deal with “Chuck and Nancy.”
And now it’s decided to turn its guns on Trump, publishing now fewer than hald a dozen anti-Strange or anti-Trump headlines during the Trump rally last night.
More than a half dozen anti-Trump headlines running on Breitbart tonight
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) September 22, 2017
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And now, Axios is reporting that Steve Bannon has been confirmed to headline a Roy Moore rally in Alabama Sunday night, alongside Phil Robertson of the popular show “Duck Dynasty.” Axios, which noted that Strange is also the pick of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a perennial Bannon foe, explained that “for Bannon to make a rare public appearance in such close proximity to Trump shows how invested he is in the race specifically, and attacking McConnell more generally.” But in attacking McConnell, in this instance, he is also striking at Trump.
In keeping with his promise to always support Trump against the establishment forces that Bannon says are trying to co-opt the Trump presidency, Axios reported that the Bannon camp is trying to spin the attacks against Strange as an indirect way of “supporting” Trump.
"Steve is coming to Alabama to support President Trump against the Washington establishment and Mitch McConnell. Steve views Judge Moore as a fierce advocate of Trump and the values he campaigned on."
To be sure, Breitbart’s strategy may be working. Trump appeared to admit during the rally last night that his Strange endorsement may have been a mistake, and that he would support Moore if he wins.
While the crowd at Friday’s rally cheered mightily for Trump, the cheers for his chosen candidate were less enthusiastic. As of Saturday afternoon, Moore leads Strange by nearly 9 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Whoever wins Tuesday’s primary has a virtual lock on the senate seat. And as the race draws closer, we expect to hear more from Trump. But will Breitbart succeed in convincing him to change his endorsement?
Given Trump’s distaste for “losers”, we imagine it’s not out of the question.
Do you ever hear something so startlingly mind numbingly ridiculous you realize it must be a sign things have gotten so fucked up something has got to give?
As I was driving to work yesterday morning on the Schuylkill Expressway a commercial comes on the radio from a plastic surgeon advertising for anyone looking for a better set of boobs. I had never heard a plastic surgeon commercial before, so I thought that was unusual. But, that wasn’t the best part. This plastic surgeon was offering no money down 18 month interest free financing on your new boobs.
I wonder if they are moving boobs with subprime debt the same way the auto companies have used subprime debt to move cars. Of course, when a deadbeat defaults on an auto loan the car is easily repossessed. What happens when a bimbo defaults on her boob loan? How narrow minded of me.
What happens when some dude who wants to be a bimbo defaults on his/her loan? I guess it was just a matter of time before breast enhancement met debt enhancement in this warped world of materialism, narcissism, financialization, and delusions.
Now that revolving credit has reached a new all-time high of $1 trillion and total consumer debt outstanding has exceeded it’s 2008 peak at $12.8 trillion, the Fed has completed its job of helping the average American again in-debt themselves up to their eyeballs. This is considered a success story in this twisted, perverted, bizarro world we call America today. The solution to an epic debt induced global financial catastrophe caused by Federal Reserve easy money, Wall Street fraud, and Washington DC corruption has been to increase global debt by 50% since 2007, with virtually all of it created by central bankers and the governments they control.
In what demented Ivy League educated academic mind would piling $68 trillion more debt on the backs of taxpayers as a cure for a disease caused by the initial $149 trillion of debt be considered rational and sustainable? It’s like having pancreatic cancer and trying to cure it with a self inflicted gunshot. And no one seems to care about or even notice the coming reset when this mass debt induced hysteria of delusion turns into the biggest financial collapse in the history of mankind.
This entire ponzi scheme edifice of debt is nothing but a confidence game. When people begin to realize they can’t repay their own debts, start to understand their governments will never honor their debt based promises, and realize central bankers are nothing more than pretend wizards behind a curtain, the confidence will evaporate in an instant and a collapse which will make 2008/2009 look like a walk in the park will ensue. That’s when civil and global war will engulf the world and teach people real lessons about the real world.
The boobs on credit commercial I heard this week is just another example of Wall Street and their Deep State crony co-conspirators completing their scheme to financialize every aspect of our lives and entrap us in chains of debt, beholden to these modern day Wall Street slave owners. When you see the record number of retail bankruptcies and store closings happening when GDP is supposedly rising by 3% and witness with your own two eyes the number of vacant storefronts and restaurants across our great land of materialism, you might wonder why revolving credit card debt is at a new all-time high.
The answer is Wall Street has successfully financialized virtually every aspect of our day to day lives. Consumer and taxpayer transactions which required cash or check ten years ago can now be paid with a credit card. You can pay your IRS bill with a credit card. You can pay your real estate taxes with a credit card. You can pay your utilities with a credit card. You can pay your school tuition with a credit card. You can pay your rent with a credit card. You can “buy” furniture and appliances without paying for seven years. And guess what? That’s what millions of average Americans are doing. In addition, they are driving “rented” $35,000 automobiles on seven year nothing down payment plans.
This massive debt induced fraud of a recovery gives the appearance of normalcy and stability. The stock market is at all-time highs is used as the narrative of central banker success. We’ve experienced extremely low volatility as the central bankers around the world have coordinated their money printing/debt creating schemes to purposely elevate financial markets to give the masses confidence that all is well. Anyone with critical thinking skills knows all is not well. The longer this fake stability is maintained the greater the collapse. Success breeds disregard for the possibility of catastrophe.
So you can call me the boy who cried wolf, but our Minsky Moment is approaching.
Sometimes they do ring a bell at the top.
In this case they are shaking fake boobs at the top.
“Stability leads to instability. The more stable things become and the longer things are stable, the more unstable they will be when the crisis hits.” – Hyman Minsky
Elon Musk isn’t the only one whose afraid that advances in artificial intelligence will leads to something akin to the creation of Skynet.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed reservations about artificial intelligence, even asking the head of Russia's largest tech firm 'how long do we have before the robots eat us'?
The Russian president was speaking to Arkady Volozh, chief of internet firm Yandex, during a tour of the company's Moscow headquarters, the Daily Mail reports. Volozh was discussing the “potential” of AI when he discovered that Putin has a dramatically different interpretation of what that might be.
According to state-funded Russian broadcaster RT, the question baffled Volozh.
“I hope never”, he replied after taking a pause to gather his thoughts. “It’s not the first machine to be better than humans at something. An excavator digs better than we do with a shovel. But we don’t get eaten by excavators. A car moves faster than we do…”
But Putin seemed unconvinced. “They don’t think,” he remarked.
Volozh acknowledged that it was true and scrambled back to his speech on AI’s merits.
Putin hasn’t always harbored such a pessimistic view of AI. When asked earlier this month by a group of kids about who would rule the world in the future, Putin said it would be whatever country manages to perfect artificial intelligence.
As RT points out, tech firms like Google and Facebook are developing new AI technology as an increasing number of online services rely on algorithms, including search engines, automated translation between languages, image enhancement and targeted advertising, an area that recently got Facebook into hot water when its self-reporting ad algos created a targeting category using the keywords "jew hater."
Musk has repeatedly warned that AI could cause World War III. Unless the technology is properly regulated, he said, it represents a much bigger threat to the security of the US than North Korea.
Of course, Musk has been criticized for his paranoid views by such tech luminaries as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said he was “optimistic” about AI’s potential.
Whatever happens with AI, hopefully it doesn’t come to this.
“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” – President Herbert Hoover
The Hoover administration thought there was no room and was ideologically opposed to fiscal expansion to stimulate aggregate demand. Furthermore, Keynesian theory was not even developed at the time. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was not published until February 1936.
A policy error, partially due out of ignorance, that led to the Great Depression, though it was monetary policy and the Fed’s failure as “lender of last resort” that “put the Great in the Great Depression.”
…what happened is that [the Federal Reserve] followed policies which led to a decline in the quantity of money by a third. For every $100 in paper money, in deposits, in cash, in currency, in existence in 1929, by the time you got to 1933 there was only about $65, $66 left. And that extraordinary collapse in the banking system, with about a third of the banks failing from beginning to end, with millions of people having their savings essentially washed out, that decline was utterly unnecessary – Milton Friedman
Here is Ben Bernanke,
The problem within the Fed was largely doctrinal: Fed officials appeared to subscribe to Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s infamous ‘liquidationist’ thesis, that weeding out “weak” banks was a harsh but necessary prerequisite to the recovery of the banking system. Moreover, most of the failing banks were small banks (as opposed to what we would now call money-center banks) and not members of the Federal Reserve System. Thus the Fed saw no particular need to try to stem the panics. At the same time, the large banks – which would have intervened before the founding of the Fed – felt that protecting their smaller brethren was no longer their responsibility. Indeed, since the large banks felt confident that the Fed would protect them if necessary, the weeding out of small competitors was a positive good, from their point of view. – Ben Bernanke
06/29/1929 = 16,931,088,484.10 (16.8 % of GDP)
09/20/2017 = 20,179,769,858,967.22 (104.9 % of GDP)
Source: U.S. Treasury Department
How many generations can keep “kicking the can down the road”?
Ernest Hemingway “kicking the can the down the road” in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Have we finally bumped up against the upper bound of the debt limit? “This Time Is Different.”
Prepare for the “clash of generations.”
It has already started.
By Victor Shvets of Macquarie Capital
Japan Debt Mountain: does it matter?
For almost 25 years, Japan’s debt burden has been the poster child of what would happen to others if capital is misallocated, bubbles burst and then clearance and required reforms are either delayed or not implemented. Indeed, at more than 5x GDP, Japan is shouldering a greater debt burden than other key jurisdictions. It is also facing severe demographic challenges, while its labour market remains constrained and the state maintains a sway over the private sector. Since WW II, Japan has always been more statist than most other major economies, with Korea and China subsequently following Japan in developing a similar model. The conventional argument has been that Japan’s debt would ultimately crush its economy and severely crimp public sector spending, while the private sector would be unable to adjust, and hence lose competitiveness. Eventually, the private sector might lose confidence and stop repatriating cash and the country would then suffer from massive capital outflows.
Not only were these dire projections wrong for decades, but as the rest of the world joined Japan in secular stagnation and unorthodox monetary policies, it is no longer perceived as an exception but rather as a pointer to the future. Japan’s success in navigating disruption, deep financialization and permanent overcapacity is now studied and imitated. While there are local nuances, Japan shows the way forward. QEs associated with the Fed were invented in Japan more than a decade earlier. The same applies to fiscal stimuli, collapsing velocity of money and strong disinflation. Whatever are the policies, Japan has already tried them. Japan is far more advanced in fully monetizing its debt by utilizing multiple asset classes, from bonds to equities. It also accepts that normalization is not feasible, and unlike the Fed, it has no illusions that rates could ever rise or that immigration and deep labour market reforms are either possible or desirable. When the US is focusing on returning outdated factories, Japan is building for the future, when labour inputs would no longer be the key.
Although Japan’s cultural and labour market constraints reduce its ability to fully commercialize inventions, it has not prevented the country from maintaining its rating as the most complex economy in the world, while keeping leadership in patents and yielding above-average labour and multi-factor productivity. Japan’s stagnant domestic economy is overshadowed by its competitive externally-facing sectors that are becoming complementary rather than directly competing against China. Even financial repression that Japan practised for decades is becoming a global norm, nowhere more so than in Eurozone. We expect BoJ to quietly abandon its inflation targets while maintaining flexibility in asset acquisitions to keep cost of finance close to zero. This would be a recipe for continuing twilight for years to come, with debt burden neither derailing the economy nor financial markets, even as BoJ assets rise beyond 100% of GDP (~45%+ of JGBs).
Assuming that Abenomics is dead and that there is neither desire nor capacity to lift inflationary outcomes, then it would be positive for ¥. Higher ¥ would erode Topix’s ROEs (corporate governance is unlikely to offset lower returns) but it should also highlight the strength of its globally competitive and thematic plays. In our global portfolios we currently have Yaskawa, Fanuc, Mitsubishi Electric, Nintendo, Nidec, Murata, Keyence, Tokyo Electron and Yamaha. Any further ¥ appreciation should also reduce pressure on Korea and China while extending EM reflationary cycle and its investment ‘goldilocks’.
Why is Debt Mountain not crushing Japan?
“We know that advanced economies with stable governments that borrow in their own currency are capable of running up very high levels of debt without crisis.”
— Paul Krugman
This quote by Paul Krugman neatly encapsulates the main reasons as to why Japan has not been crushed by ever-rising public sector debt. Japan is state with a high degree of credibility and it borrows almost exclusively in its own currency, with debt owned predominantly by its own citizens. Financial crisis is all about perception rather than reality.
However, one issue that Krugman has not emphasized but which is increasingly important is the ability of central banks (CBs) to support and distort the governments’ cost of funds. Given that the CBs are not economic agents, their bids and bond acquisitions are not designed to discover appropriate pricing levels, but rather to support governments’ objectives (usually to simulate economies by lowering cost of capital). In the past, such aggressive interventionist policies were unique and infrequent events (accompanying wars or other major dislocations), but over the last two decades, they have become an increasingly acceptable tool in the governments’ armoury. Japan has been leading from the front for more than two decades, followed by the rest of the world after GFC.
Thus, there are essentially four reasons as to why most bets against Japan failed on a consistent basis:
- Japan is a homogeneous society, with relatively egalitarian income and wealth distribution, and hence, pain has been shared fairly evenly, thus preserving economic and societal coherence.
- Japan maintained credibility by selectively boosting and adjusting national commitments to elderly and medical care while irregularly pushing up consumption tax. Although some of these measures were counter-productive on a longer-term basis, they have placated global markets.
- Japan borrows in its own currency and the bulk of JGB holders are Japanese residents (over 88%). This massively reduces the degree of external vulnerability.
- BoJ has been exceptionally aggressive in driving money supply up and cost of capital down. This aggressiveness coincided with the growing global disinflationary trend, which eroded bond yields and significantly reduced the proportion of the government spending that is spent financing interest commitments.
As can be seen below, despite massive rise in the governments’ gross and net debt burden, the proportion of state spending that is dedicated to servicing interest has declined significantly over the last decade and is now below 5% of total expenditure.
The extent to which BoJ has become the key to Japan’s perceived longer-term sustainability can be seen from the explosion of its balance sheet and how its asset base increased at a pace much faster than state requirements. BoJ has by now accumulated almost 45% of the entire JGB’s market (vs 10% only five years ago), and its balance sheet is rapidly closing on 100% of the country’s GDP (vs 37% G4 average). Also, BoJ is not just buying state paper but it has become actively involved in the corporate and ETF (equities) markets. BoJ already controls 75% of all of Japanese ETFs (although only 4% of overall equities) and as much as 15% of the Japanese corporate bonds.
The public sector over the last two decades did not really have an option but to become far more aggressive in transferring excess debt from private sector and onto government books. While this private sector de-leveraging was largely complete by 2005, the combination of GFC as well as subsequent earthquake (2011), continued to suppress private sector desire for more aggressive spending. Private sector sectoral savings even today remain at ~6% of GDP, whilst velocity of money is at best only stabilizing.
If public sector did not step in, the country would have undergone a massive and uncontrolled deflationary bust. Instead, Japan had simply kept its nominal demand intact, despite the private sector sustaining losses (real estate and equities) of equivalent to 100% of Japan’s GDP in ‘90/91 (or ~US$5 trillion). For perspective, consider that the GFC caused initial contraction of only around 1/3 of the US GDP. In other words, bursting of an asset bubble in the ‘90s Japan was at least three times more powerful than the GFC’s impact.
The net outcome of aggressive public sector policies offsetting sluggish and deleveraging private sectors was a ‘tranquil autumn’ of a civilized relative decline.
The Japanese economy is today a fraction of its importance several decades ago. Whereas in the late ‘80s, Japan was responsible for ~10% of global merchandise exports, its share is now below 3.8%. In the same period, Germany’s share eased from 10%-11% in ‘80s to around 8%, while the US’s share is down from 12% to ~9% and France’s share is down from 5% in the ‘80s to ~3%. The same occurred to Japan’s share of global GDP (whether on a nominal or PPP basis). The growth rates have compressed massively, but the country managed to maintain its overall aggregate demand and per capita income intact.
Japan emerged from this traumatic experience, as land of no inflation (indeed mild deflation for most of the time) and steady demand funded by the fiscal stimulus and resilient private sector productivity.
It has become a land where the central bank has been effectively cancelling national debt by acquiring more securities than the government needed to fund its deficits. While this poses many questions (such as ability of life and insurance companies to price their products, in the absence of a viable JGB market), it also implies that Japan is shifting closer to embracing far more extreme (but necessary) policies, such as minimum income guarantees and abandoning any further consumption taxes.
In the world where labour inputs are becoming increasingly less relevant and where robotics, automation, AI and social capital are likely to play an increasingly important role, even the traditional argument of a negative impact of demographics no longer dooms Japan to oblivion and collapse. It also implies that the conventional arguments in favour of large-scale increase in immigration is not only irrelevant but is likely to be faulty on both theoretical and practical grounds. It is likely that the current age of ‘declining return on humans and conventional capital’ will become far more pronounced over the next decade. It so happens that Japan is in the forefront of this evolution.
It is highly unlikely that Japan would ever accept large-scale immigration (whether it applies to high or low skill labour). It is equally unlikely that the Japanese themselves would ever prefer to work and live in foreign jurisdictions. At the same time, the pace of human replacement (whether it is waiters in the restaurants or nurses in hospitals) is accelerating in Japan at a far more robust pace than elsewhere. The unique nature of Japan is also translating into sustainably high levels of private sector productivity while containing income and wealth inequalities. Although Japan is today more unequal than it was in late 1980s-early 1990s, it still remains one of the most egalitarian societies in the world.
While Japan is yet reluctant to accept the most radical of policies, it is far more advanced in fully monetizing its debt burden and unlike most other countries it no longer requires an ever accelerating pace of financialization (or addition of new debt-driven generations). The objective in Japan is to maintain per capita income rather than generating growth to accommodate a rising population and keeping society intact. The extent to which Japan would be able to achieve this objective would depend critically on Japanese corporates and its overall economy maintaining productivity gains.
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In part 2 tomorrow: "Global lessons from Japan - the future is Red"
NFA News Releases
Elite Forex Blog - Market Research & Analysis
The Trump administration agrees with Dr. Paul, saying 1615 would “restrict development of new space launch systems, including those whose development is significantly funded by industry … [limiting] domestic competition, which will increase taxpayer costs by several billions of dollars through FY 2027 and stifle innovation.”
NFA orders Chicago, Ill., introducing broker Kingsview Futures LLC to pay a $50,000 fineSeptember 14, Chicago—NFA has ordered Chicago, Ill., introducing broker Kingsview Futures LLC to pay a $50,000 fine.The Decision, issued by an NFA Hearing Panel, is based on a Complaint authorized by NFA’s Business Conduct Committee (BCC) and a settlement offer submitted by Kingsview Futures.The Hearing Panel found that Kingsview Futures failed to diligently supervise its operations and activities.
217 Kingsview Futures customers with self-directed accounts traded in 2015.
203 of these customers (or 9 %) incurred total losses that exceeded $1.9 million.
More than 70% of the customers experienced losses exceeding $1,000, and
approximately 10% of them experienced losses exceeding $20,000. One
customer’s losses exceeded $225,000. In contrast, thirteen customers reported
gains in 2015, and only three of them had net profits exceeding $1,000. During
the same period, Kingsview Futures made commissions totaling more than
$208,000 from these customers.235 Kingsview Futures customers with self-directed accounts traded in 2014.
226 of these customers (or 96%) incurred total losses of more than $1.5 million.
Hurricane Harvey brought an abrupt and catastrophic end to the 12 year long major hurricane landfall drought in the US. Were climate engineering programs a factor in the Harvey disaster scenario? Available data has already made clear the answer is yes. How much decimation will the manipulation of Hurricane Irma inflict? The US government has been actively engaged in hurricane modification programs for a minimum of 70 years, historical documents prove this fact conclusively. Yet, the power structure controlled circles of academia (and corporate media) continue to fuel total denial of the climate engineering hurricane modification reality, this should not be a surprise. How much decimation have global geoengineering / weather warfare programs already caused? What are the primary objectives and agendas? How much worse will it get? The short video below provides verifiable data to confirm that climate engineering is a reality, and exposes some of the primary objectives.Exposing and halting the ongoing climate engineering / weather warfare / biological warfare assault is the great imperative of our time. The best chance we have of accomplishing this monumental task is by raising an army of the awakened, by reaching a critical mass.
Environmental modification techniques have been applied by the US military for more than half a century. US mathematician John von Neumann, in liaison with the US Department of Defense, started his research on weather modification in the late 1940s at the height of the Cold War and foresaw ‘forms of climatic warfare as yet unimagined’. During the Vietnam war, cloud-seeding techniques were used, starting in 1967 under Project Popeye, the objective of which was to prolong the monsoon season and block enemy supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.The US military has developed advanced capabilities that enable it selectively to alter weather patterns. The technology, which is being perfected under the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), is an appendage of the Strategic Defense Initiative – ‘Star Wars’. From a military standpoint, HAARP is a weapon of mass destruction, operating from the outer atmosphere and capable of destabilising agricultural and ecological systems around the world.
Owned and operated by NOAA, JPSS is an “end-to-end” system that includes sensors; spacecraft; command, control and communications; data routing; ground based processing and dissemination of weather data to users around the globe, such as NOAA’s National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. The data provided by Suomi NPP and the JPSS satellites contribute to NASA’s study of earth climate trends.JPSS polar orbiters carry a complement of advanced imaging and sounding sensors, which increase NOAA and DoD capabilities to monitor the entire planet and produce weather and climate predictions at a much higher fidelity and frequency. These advanced capabilities enable NOAA to better fulfill its mission to protect lives and property by increasing the timeliness and accuracy of public warnings and forecasts of weather and climate events.
JPSS CGS DELIVERS CRUCIAL DATA FOR NATIONAL WEATHER FORECASTSRaytheon brings more than four decades of high-availability, reliable, precision-based, command-and-control systems experience to Suomi NPP and future JPSS missions. Suomi NPP is the bridge between existing polar-orbiting satellites and the launch of JPSS-1, scheduled for 2017. Providing critical data for Earth observation, Suomi NPP data is used to generate environmental data products, such as measurements of clouds, vegetation, ocean color and land and sea surface temperatures — all significant inputs to improve weather forecasting capabilities.
VALUE TO THE PUBLICWhile Suomi NPP and JPSS will not prevent severe weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes or blizzards from occurring, Raytheon’s advanced technologies enable meteorologists and forecasters to make more timely and accurate weather predictions that support NOAA’s “Weather Ready Nation” campaign and help save lives, protect property and decrease the devastating economic impacts caused by severe weather.
Raytheon’s proven radars and sensors work together to help experts see further, track longer and prepare smarter.Our Air and Missile Defense Radar stacks together like building blocks to increase detection ranges and accuracy on naval destroyers. Our VIIRS sensor — famously known for its ”Blue Marble” photo of Earth — orbits the planet to provide meteorologists with unparalleled environmental data. And our Multi-Spectral Targeting System combines lasers with infrared sensors to enable pinpoint military operations.
Raytheon Company is a technology company, which specializes in defense and other government markets. The Company develops integrated products, services and solutions in various markets, including sensing; effects; command, control, communications, computers, cyber and intelligence; mission support, and cybersecurity. The Company operates through five segments: Integrated Defense Systems (IDS); Intelligence, Information and Services (IIS); Missile Systems (MS); Space and Airborne Systems (SAS), and Forcepoint. The IDS segment develops and produces sensors and mission systems. The IIS segment provides a range of technical and professional services to intelligence, defense, federal and commercial customers. The MS segment is a developer, integrator and producer of missile and combat systems. The SAS segment is engaged in the design, development and manufacture of integrated sensor and communication systems for missions. The Forcepoint segment develops cybersecurity products.
- To make it rain
- For military purposes
- Pollution control
- Terraforming (For example what they are doing in UAE)
Cloud seeding is the opposite of cloud busting. For one thing, it’s a real thing. The process has been replicated numerous times both in the lab and in the field and is backed up by years of peer-reviewed scientific research. For another, it impregnates clouds to instigate the precipitation process rather than magically gathering them using dark energies. Cloud seeding is currently used all over the world—including throughout the United States, China (where it is used to clear smog in Beijing), India, and Russia—to enhance precipitation, both rain and snow, while inhibiting hail and fog. And it actually works.
The UAE’s Ionizers: Tearing the Sky a New OneThe United Arab Emirates is a land rich in wealth but poor in precipitation. That’s why president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has had the nation’s top scientific minds secretly toiling for years to create a new means of weather manipulation that would work more effectively in the region’s extreme temperatures. The result: The biggest Ionic Breeze on Earth.Ionic Breeze devices are giant ionizers mounted atop tall steel poles and were built by the Swiss company, Metro Systems International. The devices generate massive ionic fields, positively charged ions ground back to the Earth while the negatively charged ions rise into the atmosphere. As they rise, the negative ions (electrons) collect particles of dust on the way up. These flecks act as seeds for ice crystal formation, much as silver iodide does except without the need for clouds. As long as the atmospheric humidity is at least 30 percent, the system supposedly works even in clear skies.In the summer of 2010, 100 such emitters were spread over five sites in the Al Ain region. During July and August alone, when the area typically receives zero rainfall, it reportedly rained on 52 separate occasions, often with gusting winds and sometimes hail. The Max Planck Institute for Meteorology monitored the project and backed the study’s findings. This could be huge for the Middle East, where water is often in short supply and desalinization plants are nine-figure investments (and another eight-figures a year to run). The ionizers reportedly only cost $10.5 million to build and $8.9 million a year to operate.
- The weather is controlled, USG owns the tech for years, this is likely organized by Raytheon (RTN) although there’s no public information to prove this (it’s classified)
- There can be political motivations for storms, for hitting or not hitting populated rich areas like Miami or Tampa. There is a clear economic and military benefit to such operations as PsyOps and as logistic tests of population control, i.e. FEMA camps and other new systems to be tested
The Triffin dilemma or Triffin paradox is the conflict of economic interests that arises between short-term domestic and long-term international objectives for countries whose currencies serve as global reserve currencies. This dilemma was first identified in a 1929 book, Gold and Central Banks, by Polish economist Feliks Młynarski, who identified a fundamental instability in a gold-based international monetary system, that the reserve currency countries would tend to accumulate foreign reserves, but as the volume of these grew relative to the country’s gold reserves, international investors would begin to fear suspension of convertibility; later in the 1960s, it was rediscovered in the context of the Bretton Woods system by Belgian–American economist Robert Triffin, who pointed out that the country whose currency, being the global reserve currency, foreign nations wish to hold, must be willing to supply the world with an extra supply of its currency to fulfill world demand for these foreign exchange reserves, thus leading to a trade deficit. Due to Młynarski’s precedence in articulating the problem, Barry Eichengreen has suggested renaming the problem to “the Młynarski dilemma“.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in how the world of money really works
This should be the first book anybody reads before beginning forex trading. Joe is not selling a "get rich quick" trading strategy or some such nonsense, but provides a thorough, non-biased explanation of how both forex and the financial system in general operate. Anybody thinking about beginning forex trading should read this book first before ever opening a MT4 terminal, a few bucks spent up front will save you a lot of money in the long run.See more reviews and buy the book directly from Amazon (Paperback, Hardcover, or Kindle) by clicking here.
Who is Mike Connor?
Professional risk manager and former member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the futures and options industry.
What is the story behind Alpha Z Advisors?
Professor William Ziemba started Alpha Z Advisors, LLC with trading capital from friends and family. The initial investors were individuals he knew from the academic world in addition to a few referrals from the initial investors. The fund has grown in size from trading profits from the initial capital without attracting new investors.
How has the performance been?
2015 had great performance, more than 100% return, but it probably will never happen again due to a management decision to reduce initial margin to equity risk.
Why has it been so consistent?
The fund primarily trades options based on CME’s S&P 500 E-mini contract. Trading centers around the extreme prices of puts on the E-mini contract. The big money in trading options is made from being long, but returns are inconsistent (but the risk is usually very well controlled). The consistent money is made by being short options, but it comes with risk, and to stay in the game the risk has to be controlled.
How do you control the risk?
By properly hedging the positions either with other options or a futures position, and by margin to equity control. Short (selling) options positions are no different than an insurance company policies – you are selling price insurance. Like any insurance company, we’re going to have occasional disasters, like Katrina – but they should be manageable. Over a long time horizon, well managed market disasters should not prevent us from continuing to perform. We have had our share of ups and downs, and fortunately we have been able to survive all drawdowns. Good risk control and position sizing are the most important factors in any trading campaign.
What factors may impact the strategies’ performance?
Implied Volatility. Volatility is opportunity, but left unchecked it can be a horrible threat.
Considering the results, why do you think there’s not larger AUM?
Until recently we have not solicited publicly. This is our first concentrated effort at soliciting investors. In addition, we put together a minimum account size so high ($250K for the managed account, $100K for the fund). Our account size should eliminate many potential investors. We are looking for sophisticated investors that can take a part of their portfolio and take greater risk for a higher return.
How can investors ‘prove’ that the performance is ‘real’ – is there an institutional My FX Book ? There’s been a lot of CTA frauds that were real CTAs but used fake performance to lure investors – what assurances can we offer them about Alpha Z?
All the accounts – all the funds’ assets – all the performance results are compiled every month by an independent CPA firm. The statements themselves can be verified by the FCM.
Positions are manually stress-tested intra-day.
What makes Alpha Z Advisors LLC different than other CTAs?
I’m not sure if that’s the case, we have a very professional trading plan. You can go to Amazon and buy books published by our founder Dr. William Ziemba, actually he’s published more than 50 books on statistical abnormalities and opportunities in the stock market. It certainly does not mean we cannot lose, or have losing open positions – we are going to have losing positions there is no way around it. But overall, if we can control the risk and keep margin to equity at a reasonable level we should be able to survive during the bad times. We have, I think, enough excess margin to sit through a significant rise in implied volatility and still survive, if the positions and margin to equity can be properly controlled. Like any market position whether it is options or futures an unexpected giant gap opening is always a threat to open market position’s stability.
What makes the strategy different?
Trades are well positioned and I believe are market entry timing is very good. Our exposure is laid out over a broad time horizon (we don’t trade in nearby month, for example). If futures were a bullseye, you’d have to hit the target almost dead center to make a profit, with options, you can just hit the wall and still make a profit – of course, only with properly controlled risk and other parameters. I do not know how other CTA’s manage their positions and stress test their market risk, but I am confident our process is robust. What we do is not magic, it’s simply neutralizing the risk as much as possible, and there is a number of ways we accomplish that. It is all about understanding what the options can do if they move against you, and how you can respond adverse market activity.
The execution is done by a professional service. One way we keep our costs down other than accounting, is to try and soft dollar expenses through a soft dollar basis.
Customers are free to choose any brokerage house they want that clears at the CME. If customers do not have any preference, we are happy to set them up with our preferred FCM.
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Or visit www.alphazadvisors.com
This article/interview is for information/educational purposes only and is privileged, confidential and proprietary. This article/interview is NOT an offer to sell or a solicitation of any investment products or other financial product or services, is NOT an official confirmation of any transaction, or an official statement. Past performance is not indicative of future results. There is a substantial high and unlimited level of risk of loss in trading commodity futures, options, options writing, equities and off-exchange foreign currency products; such trading is not suitable for all investors. Investors should only invest money they can afford to lose.
"So if you were wondering how Bitcoin suddenly appreciated in value by a factor of 10 within the span of one month, well, this is why. Not Chinese investors, not the Silkroad bust – these events may have contributed, but they certainly were not the main reason. But who did it? and why?"
- Places large bids ($2 million and up) for Bitcoin, usually just under a smaller bid order, only to remove them once someone starts to sell. These orders usually have a lifetime of minutes, or sometimes as short as 5–10 seconds to manipulate the price up (more common)
- Places large asks ($2 million and up), for Bitcoin when he wants the price to go down, or stop going up (less common)
- Occasionally ‘Spoofy’ will allow orders deep in the orderbooks to remain for a few hours, usually $50–$100 below the current price. For example, during the recovery above $2,000, he had roughly 4,000 BTC of false orders in the $1,900 range that were unlikely to execute, and ultimately were never executed.
“Spoofy makes the price go up when he wants it to go up, and Spoofy makes the price go down when he wants it to go down, and he’s got the coin… both USD, and Bitcoin, of course, to pull it off, and with impunity on Bitfinex.”
A single entity (entity could be a trader, or a group of traders), single handedly wash traded 24,000 Bitcoins in shorts. In order to do this, you would need to have at least 24,000 BTC on Bitfinex and the USD to buy them with.
“After the methodology announcement on July 27th, several accounts began large-scale manipulation tactics in an attempt to obtain BCH tokens at the expense of exchange longs and lenders on the platform, causing the distribution coefficient to artificially plummet.We have determined that this kind of manipulation?—?including wash trading and self-funding shorts?—?is in violation of Bitfinex’s terms of service. Those who intended to take unfair advantage of the circumstances surrounding the BCH distribution at the expense of other users have been sanctioned accordingly.”
Here we can see how the ETCBTC shorts simply vanished, from 60,000 ETC short, to a low of 93 ETC. But let’s not just look at ETCBTC, what about ETCUSD?A giant middle finger. Notice the dramatic increase and decrease in longs with no effect on price.I'm not sure what to make of these, but it calls into question the legitimacy of this data. The point I’m trying to make by showing the ETCBTC/ETCUSD margin pairs also engaging in very funny business at the same exact time, how are we supposed to know that the BTCUSD longs on Bitfinex are not also subject to this manipulation?ETCBTC Shorts = Clear evidence of manipulation
ETCUSD Longs =Clear evidence of manipulation
BTCUSD Shorts = Clear evidence of manipulation (and admitted by Bitfinex)
BTCUSD Longs = BTCUSD Longs in terms of USD, has never been higher in Bitfinex’s history. See the green line.
People underestimate how much exchanges follow each other. Manipulation on one exchange will affect prices on other exchanges. You have traders that watch all of the exchanges and if one exchange starts to pull ahead, they too buy on cheaper exchanges.You don’t just have people, but you also have bots that will do the same thing, so price reactions can be immediate.
The much anticipated document (press release and link to full document) released by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the Trump administration aimed to reduce the U.S. trade deficit by improving access for U.S. goods exported to Canada and Mexico and contained the list of negotiating objectives for talks that are expected to begin in one month. Topping Trump’s list is a “simple” objective: “improve the U.S. trade balance and reduce the trade deficit with Nafta countries.” Among other things the document makes the unexpected assertion that no country should manipulate currency exchange to gain an unfair competitive advantage,which according to Citi’s economists was the only notable surprise in the entire document: That line of focus centers on FX: “Through an appropriate mechanism, ensure that the Nafta countries avoid manipulating exchange rates in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage.” ..While Canada and Mexico are not formally considered currency manipulators by the US Treasury, the reference in the list of objectives will likely set a template for future trade deals such as the pending negotiation to modify a 5 year old free trade deal with South Korea, a country in far greater risk of being branded a currency manipulator as it sits on the Treasury’s monitoring list for possible signs of currency manipulation.
On 15 July, he is going to sell 560 million “tokens” — digital units of payment that will be necessary to use Pillar, once it’s ready — in exchange for ether, an up-and-coming cryptocurrency exchanged on public blockchain Ethereum. His target is the equivalent of $50 million; if that sounds like a lot, be aware that Pillar’s “token pre-sale”, some days ago, raised $4 million worth of Ethereum’s currency, ether — in 34 minutes.
“I couldn’t raise any money for Twenty Thirty from investors, because they didn't get what we were doing; now we have ordinary people hammering our email about Pillar,” Siegel says. “These people really want to fund this open source project.”
Siegel’s fund-raising model is called Initial Coin Offering, or ICO — and you might have heard of it, as it is the latest big thing in the frenzied world of cryptocurrencies.
The mechanism has been around for a while — the first instance was MasterCoin in 2013, followed in 2014 by Ethereum’s first ether sale, and more recently by the ill-fated autonomous VC firm The DAO — but it really surged over the first half of 2017. Tens of projects have amassed millions of dollar within days, hours, or seconds, with superstars such as blockchain architecture firms EOS and Tezos soaring over $150 million and $200 million. In June, bitcoin news website Coindesk announced that funds raised through ICOs had overcome VC money as the first source of investment in the blockchain sector in 2017. “Tokens” might sound like Monopoly money, but their impact on the real world is growing by the day.
The question is: why? Ask people in the field and they tend to reflect two main narratives, one optimistic, the other decidedly sceptical.
The positive one is that ICOs are a new, smart way to finance projects that struggle to get VC’s backing.
Etienne Brunet, an investment executive at FinTech VC firm Illuminate Financial, points to investors’ recent interest in private blockchains (members-only ledgers banks and financial institutions are experimenting with) as the root cause for ICOs. “In 2016 it was very hard to raise funding unless you were doing private blockchains,” he says. “So, all the people trying to build open source projects for the public blockchain had to find a new way to get funds.”
The side effect is that millions are going to entities which, apart from tokens and a project outline — crypto parlance: “white paper” — have very little to offer. Take for example “Useless Ethereum Token”, a parody initiative which still managed to raise $40,000 in funding. Or, for a grimmer story, look at OneCoin: a Ponzi scheme which had amassed over $350 million before being busted by the Indian police.
Some of the more obvious security problems are being addressed by the crypto community at large: it has been recommended that funds from ICO be locked in an escrow mechanism — giving access only to limited sums after milestones have been reached — in order to prevent crypto heists. And Ethereum’s wunderkind guru Vitalik Buterin has turned to game theory to suggest some tips for designing fairer ICO auctions, such as as splitting them up in smaller, spaced out sales over time.
The elephant in the room, has to do with financial regulation: with tokens being auctioned, traded, and speculated on as if they were securities, should we regard them and regulate them as securities? (The fact that ICO is even phonetically reminiscent of IPO, or initial public offering, is hardly a coincidence.)In most countries, the answer would be no: if something is not formally a security, it won’t be treated as such. But that is different in the US, whose security regulation extends to “investment contracts” — defined in a landmark case (centered on an orange orchard in Florida) as investments made with an “expectation of profits.”
Whether that applies to tokens— bizarre entities that have a sort of intrinsic value (as theoretical payment units) but are also being flipped around like stocks, is anybody’s guess. Right now, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has been silent on the matter, explains Peter Van Valkenburgh, a researcher at blockchain-focussed think tank Coin Center.
“SEC’s default position is ‘we're proceeding cautiously because, while we are worried about investor protection, we're not certain this is within our purview, and we don't want to stifle innovation’,” he says. “There's no indication that anything is gonna happen in the very short term.”
Some effort is required to protect your privacy with Bitcoin. All Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the network, which means anyone can see the balance and transactions of any Bitcoin address. However, the identity of the user behind an address remains unknown until information is revealed during a purchase or in other circumstances. This is one reason why Bitcoin addresses should only be used once. Always remember that it is your responsibility to adopt good practices in order to protect your privacy. Read more about protecting your privacy.
Two resources available almost exclusively to central banks could soon be opened up to additional users as a result of a new digital currency project designed by a little-known startup and Swiss bank UBS. One of those resources is the real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system used by central banks (it’s typically reserved for high-value transactions that need to be settled instantly), and the other is central bank-issued cash. Using the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) unveiled today, the five-member consortium that has sprung up around the project aims to help central banks open-up access to these tools to more customers. If successful, USC has the potential to create entirely new business models built on instant settling and easy cash transfers. In interview, Robert Sams, founder of London-based Clearmatics, said his firm initially worked with UBS to build the network, and that BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, ICAP and Santander are only just the first of many future members.
Google Ventures and China-based IDG Capital Partners are the second group of tech investors in two months to place a bet on OpenCoin, the company behind the currently-in-beta Ripple open-source payments protocol. OpenCoin announced today that it had closed an additional round of funding — the amount wasn’t specified — with Google Ventures and IDG Capital Partners. (Hat tip to GigaOM for the news.) Last month, OpenCoin wrapped up an earlier angel round of funding from another high-profile group of technology VCs: Andreessen Horowitz, FF Angel IV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vast Ventures and the Bitcoin Opportunity Fund.
Soon after these stories were published, authorities in Australia raided the home of Mr Wright. The Australian Taxation Office said the raid was linked to a long-running investigation into tax payments rather than Bitcoin.
Questioned about this raid, Mr Wright said he was cooperating fully with the ATO.
“We have lawyers negotiating with them over how much I have to pay,” he said.
The New Yorker published a piece pointing at two possible Satoshis, one of whom seemed particularly plausible: a cryptography graduate student from Trinity College, Dublin, who had gone on to work in currency-trading software for a bank and published a paper on peer-to-peer technology. The other was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, Vili Lehdonvirta. Both made denials.
Fast Company highlighted an encryption patent application filed by three researchers – Charles Bry, Neal King and Vladimir Oksman – and a circumstantial link involving textual analysis of it and the Satoshi paper which found the phrase “…computationally impractical to reverse” in both. Again, it was flatly denied.
The NSA was one of the first organizations to describe a Bitcoin-like system. About twelve years before Satoshi Nakamoto published his legendary white paper to the Metzdowd.com cryptography mailing list, a group of NSA information security researchers published a paper entitled How to Make a Mint: the Cryptography of Anonymous Electronic Cash in two prominent places, the first being an MIT mailing list and the second being much more prominent, The American Law Review (Vol. 46, Issue 4 ).The paper outlines a system very much like Bitcoin in which secure financial transactions are possible through the use of a decentralized network the researchers refer informally to as a Bank. They list four things as indispensable in their proposed network: privacy, user identification (protection against impersonation), message integrity (protection against tampering/substitution of transaction information – that is, protection against double-spending), and nonrepudiation (protection against later denial of a transaction – a blockchain!).“We will assume throughout the remainder of this paper that some authentication infrastructure is in place, providing the four security features.” (Section 1.2)It is evident that SHA-256, the algorithm Satoshi used to secure Bitcoin, was not available because it came about in 2001. However, SHA-1 would have been available to them, having been published in 1993.
In October 2000 Iraq insisted on dumping the US dollar – ‘the currency of the enemy’ – for the more multilateral euro. The changeover was announced on almost exactly the same day that the euro reached its lowest ebb, buying just $0.82, and the G7 Finance Ministers were forced to bail out the currency. On Friday the euro had reached $1.08, up 30 per cent from that time.Almost all of Iraq’s oil exports under the United Nations oil-for-food programme have been paid in euros since 2001. Around 26 billion euros (£17.4bn) has been paid for 3.3 billion barrels of oil into an escrow account in New York. The Iraqi account, held at BNP Paribas, has also been earning a higher rate of interest in euros than it would have in dollars.
Claims that the NSA created Bitcoin have actually been flung around for years. People have questioned why it uses the SHA-256 hash function, which was designed by the NSA and published by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). The fact that the NSA is tied to SHA-256 leads some to assume it’s created a backdoor to the hash function that no one has ever identified, which allows it to spy on Bitcoin users.“If you assume that the NSA did something to SHA-256, which no outside researcher has detected, what you get is the ability, with credible and detectable action, they would be able to forge transactions. The really scary thing is somebody finds a way to find collisions in SHA-256 really fast without brute-forcing it or using lots of hardware and then they take control of the network,” cryptography researcher Matthew D. Green of Johns Hopkins University said in a previous interview.
The CIA Project, a group dedicated to unearthing all of the government’s secret projects and making them public, hasreleased a video claiming Bitcoin is actually the brainchild of the US National Security Agency.The video entitled CIA Project Bitcoin: Is Bitcoin a CIA or NSA project? claims that there is a lot of compelling evidences that proves that the NSA is behind Bitcoin. One of the main pieces of evidence has to do with the name of the mysterious man, woman or group behind the creation of Bitcoin, “Satoshi Nakamoto”.According to the CIA Project, Satoshi Nakamoto means “Central Intelligence” in Japanese. Doing a quick web search, you’ll find out that Satoshi is usually a name given for baby boys which means “clear thinking, quick witted, wise,” while Nakamoto is a Japanese surname which means ‘central origin’ or ‘(one who lives) in the middle’ as people with this surname are found mostly in the Ryukyu islands which is strongly associated with the Ryūkyū Kingdom, a highly centralized kingdom that originated from the Okinawa Islands. So combining Nakamoto and Satoshi can be loosely interpreted as “Central Intelligence”.
Certainly, anonymity is one of the biggest myths about Bitcoin. In fact, there has never been a more easily traceable method of payment. Every single transaction is recorded and retained permanently in the public “blockchain”. The idea that the NSA would create an anarchic, peer-to-peer crypto-currency in the hope that it would be adopted for nefarious industries and become easy to track would have been a lot more difficult to believe before the recent leaks by Edward Snowden and the revelation that billions of phone calls had been intercepted by the US security services. We are now in a world where we now know that the NSA was tracking the pornography habits of Islamic “radicalisers” in order to discredit them and making deals with some of the world’s largest internet firms to insert backdoors into their systems.
Nonetheless, Svintsov’s remarks count as some of the more extreme to emanate from the discussion. Svintsov told Russian broadcast news agency REGNUM:“All these cryptocurrencies [were] created by US intelligence agencies just to finance terrorism and revolutions.”Svintsov reportedly went on to explain how cryptocurrencies have started to become a payment method for consumer spending, and cited reports that terrorist organisations are seeking to use the technology for illicit means.
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The FBI employs 35,000 people, including special agents and support professionals such as intelligence analysts, language specialists, scientists, and information technology specialists. Learn how you can join us at FBIJobs.gov. For details on our executives and organizational structure, see our Leadership & Structure webpage.
As of 2013, 8,500 witnesses and 9,900 family members have been protected by the U.S. Marshals Service since 1971.
For 30 years, DeVecchio was one of the FBI 's most important mob busters.
DeVecchio was Scarpa's handler, and Scarpa was more than an ordinary stool pigeon -- he had also allegedly served as muscle for the FBI when the bureau needed some extra legal assistance in making difficult cases. As a result, he was allegedly accorded special, sometimes questionable, favors, including tips on coming indictments that allowed Scarpa's associates to skip town in advance. But, in aiding his informant to commit murder, prosecutors now allege that DeVecchio went too far in protecting his valuable mob asset. Law enforcement sources say DeVecchio may have also enriched himself in the process.
WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. has significantly increased its use of stings in terrorism cases, employing agents and informants to pose as jihadists, bomb makers, gun dealers or online “friends” in hundreds of investigations into Americans suspected of supporting the Islamic State, records and interviews show.
Undercover operations, once seen as a last resort, are now used in about two of every three prosecutions involving people suspected of supporting the Islamic State, a sharp rise in the span of just two years, according to a New York Times analysis. Charges have been brought against nearly 90 Americans believed to be linked to the group.
The increase in the number of these secret operations, which put operatives in the middle of purported plots, has come with little public or congressional scrutiny, and the stings rely on F.B.I. guidelines that predate the rise of the Islamic State.
While F.B.I. officials say they are careful to avoid illegally entrapping suspects, their undercover operatives are far from bystanders. In recent investigations from Florida to California, agents have helped people suspected of being extremists acquire weapons, scope out bombing targets and find the best routes to Syria to join the Islamic State, records show.
But defense lawyers, Muslim leaders and civil liberties advocates say that F.B.I. operatives coax suspects into saying and doing things that they might not otherwise do — the essence of entrapment.“They’re manufacturing terrorism cases,” said Michael German, a former undercover agent with the F.B.I. who researches national security law at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. In many of the recent prosecutions, he said, “these people are five steps away from being a danger to the United States.”
French bank BNP Paribas was fined $350 million by the New York State Department of
Financial Services for lax oversight in its foreign-exchange business that
allowed “nearly unfettered misconduct” by more than a dozen employees involved
in exchange rate manipulation, officials announced Wednesday.
From 2007 through 2013, a trader on the bank’s New York desk, identified in the
consent order as Jason Katz, ran a number of schemes with more than a dozen
BNPP traders and salespeople on key foreign exchange trading desks to
manipulate prices and spreads in several currencies, including the South
African rand, Hungarian forint and Turkish lira, officials said.
He called his group of traders a "cartel" and they communicated in a
chat room called "ZAR Domination," a reference to the rand’s trading
symbol, according to the consent order. The group would push up the price of
the illiquid rand during New York business hours when the South African market
was closed, moving the currency in whichever way they chose, and thus
depressing competition, officials said.
Katz also enlisted colleagues at other banks to widen spreads for orders in
rands, increasing bank profits and limiting competition at the customer’
expense, the order says. Some of the traders engaged in illegal coordination
and shared confidential customer information, officials said. As part of a
cooperation agreement with prosecutors, Katz pled guilty in Manhattan federal court in
January to one count of conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the
“Participants in the foreign exchange market rely on a transparent and fair
market to ensure competitive prices for their trades for all participants,”
Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said in a statement. “Here the
bank paid little or no attention to the supervision of its foreign exchange
trading business, allowing BNPP traders and others to violate New York state
law over the course of many years and repeatedly abused the trust of their
BNP Paribas, which employs nearly 190,000 people and has total assets of more
than €2.1 trillion (approximately $2.36 trillion), said in a statement that the
$350 million fine will be covered by existing provisions. It said it had
implemented a group-wide remediation initiative and cooperated fully in the
“The conduct which led to this settlement occurred during the period from 2007
to 2013. Since this time, BNP Paribas has proactively implemented extensive
measures to strengthen its systems of control and compliance,” the bank said in
its statement. “The group has increased resources and staff dedicated to these
functions, conducted extensive staff training and launched a new code of
conduct which applies to all staff.”
Three BNPP employees were fired, seven more resigned and several others were
disciplined for misconduct or supervisory shortcomings in relation to the
probe, the order says.
Katz’s attorney, Michael Tremonte of Sher Tremonte LLP, did not respond Wednesday to a call seeking
SAN DIEGO – Jeffrey Spanier, a 51-year-old former owner of Amerifund Capital Finance, LLC located in Boca Raton, Florida, was convicted by a federal jury today for his role in an elaborate stock-loan fraud scheme in which executives and shareholders of publicly traded corporations collectively lost over $100 million when the stock they pledged as collateral for loans was immediately sold in order to fund the loans.
The first timeshare in the United States was started in 1974 by Caribbean International Corporation (CIC), based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It offered what it called a 25-year vacation license rather than ownership. The company owned two other resorts the vacation license holder could alternate their vacation weeks with: one in St. Croix and one in St. Thomas; both in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands properties began their timeshare sales in 1973 with owners Hillie Meyers, Don Saunders, and Arthur Zimand.
- Analysts upgrading HGV are not considering the 'dark side' of this industry.
- Potential liabilities can spring up anytime that can change this tune.
- Angry customers complain, which can soon become lawsuits, with deleterious consequences.
We see no reason to sign up for RCI except to give the company money. We are new members who tried to use RCI for the first time. We wanted to visit El Dorado Suites, Riviera Maya, using our exchange. Through RCI, we have to pay a $399 fee for a mandatory 7-day visit. RCI requires we also pay a $2500 "Mandatory all inclusive" fee for the El Dorado. So that's the cost of our RCI membership, plus a $399 fee, plus a $2500 all-inclusive fee. Curious, we logged into El Dorado's home page and found we could sign up for the exact same vacation, not using RCI, for a total cost of $2200, also all-inclusive. So the all-inclusive fee alone is more than the actual cost of staying at the El Dorado Suites, without having ever met an RCI salesperson....I have been with RCI approx 12yrs. My previous issues have been the fact that they charge for unused points... Live and learn. My complaint is that I had to cancel a reservation. It's unfortunate but situations do arise and plans have to get changed. I cancelled 5-days prior to my check-in date. RCI WILL NEITHER REFUND NOR CREDIT my charge of $99.00! They say they have a 24-hour 'grace period'. I feel this is a major RIP-OFF to consumers and extremely bad business practice. I have contacted them by email, customer service and 'blabbering' supervisor. I was told "they have to keep the lights on" in order to provide their service. Well, RCI, my lights need to be on as well!! BUYER BEWARE.
Nomura reiterated their buy rating on shares of Hilton Grand Vacations Inc in a research note published on Friday morning. The brokerage currently has a $43.00 price target on the stock.
Kosovo, self-declared independent country in the Balkans region of Europe. Although the United States and most members of the European Union (EU) recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, Serbia, Russia, and a significant number of other countries—including several EU members—did not.
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But there are plenty of other reasons to want to bring supply chains back to the U.S. High-value-added manufacturing — robot factories pumping out goods — creates jobs for Americans in other ways. As economist Enrico Moretti explains in his book “The New Geography of Jobs,” high-tech manufacturing creates higher-paying service-sector jobs in a local area. The dollars that come into a town with a robot factory get spent on doctors and waiters and personal trainers, and the money circulates throughout the community, leaving everyone better off.from another article:Moretti demonstrates that there really are two Americas — one that’s healthy, rich and growing, and a second that’s increasingly being left behind. The two nations-within-a-nation are divided not so much by region or race or religion, but by the kinds of industries they support. Those cities and towns that are home to innovative industries — information technology, pharmaceuticals, advanced manufacturing and the like — are wealthier, healthier and safer, while the places without these industries are steadily declining.
After predicting the 2008 economic crisis, the Brexit vote, the U.S. presidential election and other events correctly, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Incerto series on global uncertainties, which includes The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, is seen as something of a maverick and an oracle. Equally, the economist-mathematician has been criticised for advocating a “dumbing down” of the economic system, and his reasoning for U.S. President Donald Trump and global populist movements. In an interview in Jaipur, Taleb explains why he thinks the world is seeing a “global riot against pseudo-experts”.
Putting my work online motivates me to go deeper into a subject. I put it online and it gives some structure to my thought. The only way to judge a book is by something called the Lindy effect, and that is its survival. My books have survived. I noticed that The Black Swan did well because it was picked up early online, long before the launch. I also prefer social media to interviews in the mainstream media as many journalists don’t do their research, and ‘zeitgeist’ updates [Top Ten lists] pass for journalism.
Well, I’m talking about the United States where I get more credible news from the social media than the mainstream media. But I am very impressed with the Indian media that seems to present both sides of the story. In the U.S., you only get either the official, bureaucratic or the academic side of the story.
Oh, absolutely! The last crisis  hasn’t ended yet because they just delayed it. [Barack] Obama is an actor. He looks good, he raises good children, he is respectable. But he didn’t fix the economic system, he put novocaine [local anaesthetic] in the system. He delayed the problem by working with the bankers whom he should have prosecuted. And now we have double the deficit, adjusted for GDP, to create six million jobs, with a massive debt and the system isn’t cured. We retained zero interest rates, and that hasn’t helped. Basically we shifted the problem from the private corporates to the government in the U.S. So, the system remains very fragile.
Of course. The whole mandate he got was because he understood the economic problems. People don’t realise that Obama created inequalities when he distorted the system. You can only get rich if you have assets. What Trump is doing is put some kind of business sense in the system. You don’t have to be a genius to see what’s wrong. Instead of Trump being elected, if you went to the local souk [bazaar] in Aleppo and brought one of the retail shop owners, he would do the same thing Trump is doing. Like making a call to Boeing and asking why are we paying so much.
Not the Islamic State, but al-Qaeda at the time, and I said the U.S. administration was helping fund them. See, you have to have courage to say things others don’t. I was lucky financially in life, that I didn’t need to work for a living and can spend all my time thinking. When Trump was running for election, I said what he says makes sense to a grocery store owner. Because the grocery guy can say Trump is wrong because he can see where he is wrong. But with Obama, he can’t understand what he’s saying, so the grocery man doesn’t know where he is wrong.
Exactly. Trump never ran for archbishop, so you never saw anything in his behaviour that was saintly, and that was fine. Whereas Obama behaved like the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was going to do good but people didn’t feel their lives were better. As I said, if it was a shopkeeper from Aleppo, or a grocery store owner in Mumbai, people would have liked them as much as Trump. What he says makes common sense, asking why are we paying so much for this rubbish or why do we need these complex taxes, or why do we want lobbyists. You can call Trump’s plain-speaking what you like. But the way intellectuals treat people who don’t agree with them isn’t good either. I remember I had an academic friend who supported Brexit, and he said he knew what it meant to be a leper in the U.K. It was the same with supporting Trump in the U.S.
Well, if you’re a businessman, for example, what Trump said didn’t bother you. The intellectual class of no more than 2,00,000 people in the U.S. don’t represent everyone upset with Trump. The real problem is the ‘faux-expert problem’, one who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and assumes he knows what people think. An electrician doesn’t have that problem.
Well, with Trump, Modi, Brexit, and now France, there are some similar problems in those countries. What you are hearing is people getting fed up with the ruling class. This is not fascism. It has nothing to do with fascism. It has to do with the faux-experts problem and a world with too many experts. If we had a different elite, we may not see the same problem.
I often say that a mathematician thinks in numbers, a lawyer in laws, and an idiot thinks in words. These words don’t amount to anything. I think you have to draw the conclusion that there is a global riot against pseudo-experts. I saw it with Brexit, and Nigel Farage [leader of the U.K. Independence Party], who was a trader for 15 years, said the problem with the government was that none of them had ever had a proper job. Being a bureaucrat is not a proper job.
I don’t understand how a left-wing person can defend Salafism, or religious extremism. In a democracy, you can allow people to have any view, but they can’t come with a message to destroy democracy. Why should people who come to the West come with a message to finish the West? This is where the discourse goes haywire. So in Yemen, the [Saudi] intervention is good, but the intervention [by Russia] in Aleppo shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t think Trump was racist when he said Mexican criminals shouldn’t be allowed into the U.S.; he was targeting criminals. If you are Naziphobic, you are not against Germans. If I oppose Salafism, I am not an Islamophobe. Obama also deported Mexicans and refused to accept immigrants.
I am not anti-globalisation, but I am against big global corporations. One of the reasons is what they cost. Today, every project sees cost overruns because these projects have to factor in global risks as well. In nature there is an ‘island effect’. The number of species on an island drops significantly when you go to the mainland. Similarly, when you open up your small economies, you lose some of your ethnicity or diversity. Artisans are being killed by globalisation. Think of the effect on so many artists who have been put out of work while people are buying wrinkle-free shirts and cheap mobile phones. I’m a localist. The problem is globalisation comes through large global corporates that are predatory, and so we want to counter its ill-effects.
I don’t think it will go left or right, and I don’t know about the short term. But I think in the long term, the world can only survive if it lives like nature does. Many smaller units of governance, and a collection of super islands with some separation, quick decision-making, and visible implementation. Lots of Switzerlands, that’s what we need. What we need is not leaders, we don’t need them. We just need someone at the top who doesn’t mess the system up.