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Before a technological concept is introduced to the wider public, it is common for it to first undergo beta testing to iron out any deficiencies that may not be immediately obvious to the developers. An example of this in the UK is the latest instalment of the Football Manager franchise. Every year the maker Sports Interactive issues a beta version which players painstakingly test prior to the official release of the game. After feedback is analysed and acted upon, the aim then is for a smooth launch of the finished product.
Whilst on a much grander scale, beta testing will serve as an equally important aspect in how central banks plan to successfully implement their own variants of digital currency.
In one of my recent articles I discussed an appearance by Federal Reserve board member Lael Brainard at an event held in Washington D.C. called, ‘The Future of Money in the Digital Age‘. Present also at this event was the Governor of Sweden’s central bank (the Sveriges Riksbank) Stefan Ingves. During a panel discussion, Ingves laid out a six step criteria for the introduction of central bank digital currency. Before expanding on Sweden’s specific role pertaining to CBDC’s, here is a summary of the six steps in question:
Large value and retail payments must be settled in central bank money anywhere around the world – in real time – 24 hours a day
Cross currency and cross border payments must also be settled in central bank money under the same conditions
A re-definition of what constitutes legal tender in the digital age
A digital currency issued directly by the central bank and certified as legal tender
Government sponsored digital identification as part of new regulations and a reinforcement of financial inclusion
A requirement for physical money and a system to distribute banknotes in the event that the digital network goes down, to be under the control of the central bank
Out of all the six steps, number five is perhaps the most ambiguous. What it refers to is something Bank of England governor Mark Carney discussed in a speech at Mansion House in London last year. As part of the BOE’s objective to reform the UK’s RTGS payments system, they have been looking to utilise what is known as the ‘Legal Entity Identifier.’ This would mean that every transaction undertaken within the renewed RTGS could be traced back directly to each participating individual. This is significant not just in terms of privacy, but also because as Victoria Cleland of the BOE has mentioned, the vast majority of consumers are completely dependent on RTGS. If implemented, the LEI would, according to Carney, be a format that ‘defines international best practice‘. Central banks hope to deflect concerns over LEI by claiming it will combat terrorist financing and prevent money laundering. In reality it has more to do with depriving consumers of any last vestiges of anonymity.
A good starting point for appreciating the significance of Ingves’ vision is to look at the Riksbank’s commentary on digital currency. Exactly one year ago Ingves gave a speech that outlined the central banks’ ‘e-krona‘ project. Since 2017 the Riksbank have been engaged in an extensive research programme on the potential for issuing a digital version of its Krona currency that would eventually supersede physical money.
Ingves confirmed that the bank is building a pilot version of e-krona. There are two possible models for how it could be introduced. The first is through e-kronas held in an account at the Riksbank, with the second allowing the general public to hold money with the central bank through digital tokens stored on a bank card or mobile app. What the two have in common is that no matter which option was implemented, both would see the public’s money held directly at the Riksbank.
As many readers will already be aware of, physical cash is classified as central bank money. The digital variant of banknotes, for example debit cards, is commercial bank money. Put simply, the private bank you and I hold accounts with have the authority to hold our money electronically and allow us at any time to convert it back into cash e.g. central bank money. Judging by what the Riksbank have said, an e-krona currency could allow individuals to hold electronic money with the central bank, bypassing the traditional commercial banking system.
As for why Sweden in particular are spearheading the digital currency movement
in Europe, one reason is that according to several news sources, a spate of high profile robberies after the year 2000 served to change people’s perception of cash for the worse. A growing number of businesses have ever since been seeking to abandon cash in favour of digital only payments. Even Swedish unions have been campaigning for cash free workplaces, on the grounds of protecting their members.
Aside from this, Sweden’s small population of ten million is looked upon as a pioneer of digital technology within the field of payments. In a survey conducted by the Riksbank in 2018, just 13% said they paid for their most recent purchase using cash. In 2010 that figure was 39%. Cash is no longer accepted in a growing swathe of restaurants and shops, and cannot be used to park your car or pay taxi and bus fares. These circumstances have provided Riksbank governor Ingves with the ammunition to declare that Sweden must now prepare for an all digital payment future.
This is where point three of Ingves’ six step plan comes into focus. With banknotes in rapid decline, the Riksbank is stressing the need to review the Sveriges Riksbank Act that governs their control of the money supply. Chapter five of the act states that banknotes and coins issued by the Riksbank are legal tender. But there are no provisions within the act to accommodate an e-krona, which is why Ingves wants the country’s legal tender legislation re-evaluated.
In April this year the Riksbank proposed a review of the concept of legal tender, arguing that within the near future cash usage could become almost non-existent and leave a void in terms of who has jurisdiction over the issuance of money:
The general public no longer having access to any form of central bank money can make it more difficult for the Riksbank to promote a safe and efficient payment system in Sweden, not just in times of crisis and war but also in peacetime. The Riksbank has previously expressed concern over this development and has therefore analysed the scope for introducing a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
What the Riksbank want, in their own words, is a review of ‘the state’s role with regard to means of payment in a digitalised economy and the role and responsibility of both the state and the private sector on the payment market.’ This is very similar language to what has been emanating from the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve – a collaborative approach whereby the state and private sector work hand in hand. It is why these same central banks are now in the process of reforming their payment systems to be compatible with the technology being developed by private firms.
In the spring of 2019 the Riksbank made it known that they had begun the process of procuring suppliers for the development of an e-krona. By 2020 they hope to be in a position where a technical platform for e-krona payments can be developed and tested.
Through their communications the bank have attempted to present e-krona as a means of guaranteeing that the Swedish public would continue to have access to state issued money in the absence of cash. They caution that by not pressing ahead with it, the population would be left to depend on private payment alternatives, which in turn would hinder the Riksbank’s ability of promoting a ‘safe and efficient payment system.’
They have yet to release a pilot of e-krona, but Ingves has raised the prospect that such a currency could conceivably connect to the ECB’s 24/7 TIPS payment network. As with all globalist objectives, Ingves believes that it is necessary to begin progress towards an e-krona ‘with small steps forward and to learn along the way.’ This is no surprise given that gradualism is the preferred model for global planners.
To remain at the forefront of the global monetary system, it stands to reason that central banks will over the medium to long term adopt digital currencies. What many in the independent media fail to recognise is that their apparent hostility to entities such as Bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra project is not indicative of hostility towards digital money. They openly want to digitise all capital, but also want to retain jurisdiction over how it is supplied.
As with other central banks, the Riksbank aim is to work in conjunction with private payment providers, not against them. They propose this within a report published in October 2018, ‘The Riksbank’s e-krona project – Report 2‘:
For it to be practically possible to use e‐krona for online purchases or in physical shops, the e‐krona platform, which contains the underlying register for e‐krona, needs to interact with a number of other systems and agents. Banks and other companies, for example, need to be able to join the e‐krona platform in order to be able to develop and offer payment services to households and companies.
Within this report the importance of being able to ‘record transactions and safeguard who is the rightful owner of the digital krona’ is also raised. The Riksbank make it quite plain that all digital transactions with e-krona would need to be traceable, and from their perspective this is where the focus should be during development.
Going by one of Governor Ingves’ most recent publications – ‘How to ensure the future of the Swedish krona‘ – if an e-krona becomes a reality, the Riksbank are not going to abolish cash overnight. It will be far more subtle than that. Instead they are pledging that citizens will have access to state money in both physical and digital form, and be able to choose either as a means of payment. They expect that once an e-krona becomes part of people’s everyday existence, they will gravitate further away from cash until it eventually disappears from circulation. This way it looks to the wider world like the natural evolution of money rather than a premeditated plan to make the tangible intangible.
But something else to consider is how Ingves frames the necessity for an e-krona. He stated that ‘it is time to act to secure the future of the Swedish krona.’ A narrative I have picked up on over the past year is that if central banks do not develop cash alternatives soon and governments fail to define what constitutes legal tender in the digital age, it could leave the financial system prone to a widespread currency crisis. Particularly with the expansion of cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and the prospect of Facebook’s Libra. The current crop of fiat currencies – led by the dollar’s role as world reserve – could therefore be in jeopardy. Through the eyes of globalists this would be fertile ground for moving the cashless agenda forward to the concept of a global currency framework, led by the linchpins of the system the BIS and the IMF.
Sweden is a template for where internationalists want to take the world in a monetary sense. As the digital currency agenda widens, do not be surprised if fiat currencies in their present guise become more unstable and susceptible to major fluctuations in value. The onset of crises have been shown over the centuries to be an opening for globalists to advance their goals for a ‘new world order‘. Be in no doubt that digital currencies are a vital cog in that ambition.
There's been talk that the Federal Reserve will slam interest rates to zero or even negative when the next recession strikes. President Trump's support for negative interest rates has quickly increased in the last several months as the latest tracking estimates for Q4 GDP have tumbled to sub 0.4%.
It seems that policy rates in the US are too high -- and will likely conform to the rest of the world, which is near zero to negative territory. This has undoubtedly alarmed UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti, who said banks have "no choice" but to pass on the negative rate pain to customers.
Ermotti said UBS "will not pass negative rates to smaller clients, the personal banking clients," that's because if UBS and other EU banks actually passed along negative rates to poor and middle-class families -- that would quickly spark unwanted social unrest that could crash the entire system.
"Right now, the threshold is very high still," Ermotti said. "It's difficult to make a prediction right now, but we are quite convinced it's not going to go down to smaller investors."
And of course, banking elites are smart enough not to pass on negative rates to poor people, but as per the Bloomberg interview, Ermotti will be targeting high-net-worth investors with more than 500,000 euros or 2 million Swiss francs.
G4 policy rates are near zero, with the exclusion of the US. But with the Federal Reserve embarking on a new interest rate cut cycle in response to collapsing global growth, it seems that policy rates across the world could go deeper into the negative territory through 2020.
The ECB and SNB have slammed rates into negative territory in recent years in hopes to stimulate domestic and regional growth by charging banks to deposit funds, rather than lending to consumers or businesses, Bloomberg noted.
Negative interest rates have been in an absolute disaster in Europe, with Germany teetering on the edge of a recession.
Though Trump on Twitter has been begging for negative rates for the last several months as the US economy grinds to halt in Q4. Trump could see negative rates, but it will be for all the wrong reasons, and then US banks will have to make the decision that European banks are currently going through, which is how to pass along negative rates to customers.
The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term. We have the great currency, power, and balance sheet.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019
The failure of monetary policy in Europe has pushed the region to a near recession with EU banking stocks down 13% on the year.
And as UBS's Ermotti said in the interview, he has no other choice to pass through negative rates to clients, but at the moment, his bank will charge only wealthy clients. This means wealthy depositors will have to pay UBS to store their money in the bank.
Spain's populist party, Vox, more than doubled its seats in parliament after winning 3.6 million votes in general elections held on November 10. The fast-rising conservative party, which entered parliament for the first time only eight months ago, is now the third-largest party in Spain.
Vox leaders campaigned on a "traditional values" platform of law and order, love of country and a hardline approach to anti-constitutional separatists in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia.
Vox's meteoric rise is a direct result of the political vacuum created by the mainstream center-right Popular Party, which in recent years has drifted to the left on a raft of domestic and foreign policy issues, including that of uncontrolled mass migration.
The Socialist Party won the election with 28% of the vote — far short of an outright majority. The Popular Party won 20.8% and Vox won 15.1%. The rest of the votes went to a dozen other parties ranging from the far-left party Podemos (9.8%), the centrist libertarian party Ciudadanos (6.8%), Basque and Catalan nationalist parties and a hodge-podge of regional parties from Aragón, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Galicia, Melilla and Navarra. In all, more than a dozen political parties are now represented in parliament.
Spain has had a multi-party system since the country emerged from dictatorship in 1975, but two parties, the Socialist Party and the Popular Party, predominated until the financial crisis in 2008. After it, both parties underwent ideological splits that resulted in the establishment of breakaway parties.
The fragmentation of Spanish politics has made it difficult to form a coalition government: the November election was the fourth in four years. In the election held in April 2019, Vox won 2.6 million votes, or 10.3%, and entered Parliament for the first time with 24 seats. In the November vote, Vox won nearly a million additional votes and will now have 52 seats in Parliament.
Vox was established in 2013 in response to concerns that mainstream politicians in the Popular Party were failing to stop the Catalan independence movement, halt mass migration and combat the "cultural hegemony" of the left.
Vox's rise has been fueled by its uncompromising stance after Catalan separatists in 2017 declared independence from Spain. Mainstream politicians, fearful of fueling the independence movement, have appeared weak and wavering. Vox leader Santiago Abascal, by contrast, has called for a state of emergency to be imposed in Catalonia, and for Catalan separatist parties to be outlawed.
Politicians on both the left and the right have sought to undermine Vox by branding the party, among other terms, as fascist, racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, reactionary, homophobic and anti-democratic.
Vox, however, does not fit the traditional left-right paradigm: an estimated 300,000 voters who normally vote for the Socialist Party are believed to have voted for Vox in this election.
After Vox entered Parliament in April, prosecutors in Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, said that they were investigating Javier Ortega Smith, the second-ranking leader of Vox, for an alleged hate crime after they received a complaint from a Muslim group called "Muslims Against Islamophobia" (Musulmanes Contra la Islamofobia).
At a rally in Valencia on September 16, 2018, Ortega Smith had declared that Europe's "common enemy" is the "Islamist invasion":
"Our common enemy, the enemy of Europe, the enemy of freedom, the enemy of progress, the enemy of democracy, the enemy of the family, the enemy of life, the enemy of the future is called the Islamist invasion.
"What is at stake is what we understand or know as civilization. It is under serious threat. We are not alone. More and more Europeans are standing up because they are suffering in their cities, on their streets and in their neighborhoods due to the application of Sharia law. They are not willing to have their cathedrals torn down and forcibly replaced with mosques.
"They are not willing to have their women cover their faces with a black cloth and be forced to walk ten steps behind — to be treated worse than camels. They are not willing to extinguish what we understand as civilization and a respect for rights and freedom."
The criminal inquiry appeared aimed at silencing critical discussion of Islam ahead of national elections.
Spain's media establishment has also prohibited representatives of Vox from appearing on national television — apparently in an effort to prevent Spanish voters from knowing more about the Vox platform.
After Vox entered Parliament in April 2019, however, Abascal and other Vox leaders were granted more media exposure. Vox received a major boost after Spanish television was required to allow Abascal to participate, for the first time, in a nationally televised presidential debate, on November 4. More than eight million voters tuned in to the debate, in which Abascal was confident, relaxed, looked his opponents directly in the eye and exuded common sense. Millions of Spaniards who had never before seen the Vox leader speak learned first-hand that the party is patriotic, not the fascist threat portrayed by its detractors in the media.
Vox (based on the Latin word for voice) describes itself as a socially conservative political project aimed at defending traditional Spanish values from the challenges posed by mass migration, multiculturalism and globalism. Vox's foundational mission statement affirms that the party is dedicated to constitutional democracy, free-market capitalism and the rule of law. In foreign policy, Vox is pro-Israel, pro-American and pro-NATO. Party leaders have called for Spain to double its defense spending to meet its commitments to the transatlantic alliance. In domestic policy, Vox's stated priority is to enact constitutional reforms aimed at preventing the territorial disintegration of Spain from threats by Basque nationalism and Catalan separatism.
Vox says that it is "a movement created to put the institutions of government at the service of Spaniards, in contrast to the current model that puts Spaniards at the service of the politicians." Its mission statement says:
"Vox is the common-sense party, which gives voice to what millions of Spaniards think in their homes; the only party that fights against suffocating political correctness. Vox does not tell Spaniards how they should think, speak or feel. We tell the media and the parties to stop imposing their beliefs on society.
"Our project is summed up in the defense of Spain, of the family and of life; in reducing the size of the state, guaranteeing equality between Spaniards and expelling the government from your private life.... Our discourse stems from our convictions, regardless of whether they are more or less popular. In short, Vox is the party of a living Spain, free and brave.
A 100-point electoral program shows that Vox is not "far right" or "extreme right" but rather a traditional conservative party. Vox's electoral program includes the following policy proposals:
Spanish Unity and Sovereignty: Implement a series of legal measures aimed at ending Catalan separatism; provide "maximum legal protection" to national symbols and emblems, especially the flag, the national anthem and the Spanish Monarchy; create a comprehensive plan for the education, dissemination and protection of national identity and Spain's contribution to civilization and universal history, "with special attention to the deeds and feats of our national heroes."
Immigration: Deport illegal immigrants; deport legal immigrants who commit serious crimes in Spain; increase the legal penalties for those involved in people smuggling; increase the language and integration requirements for the acquisition of Spanish nationality; and adapt immigration quotas to the needs of the Spanish economy.
Defense, Security and Borders: Close all mosques that adhere to Wahhabism, Salafism of other fundamentalist interpretation of Islam; require Islamic leaders in Spain to collaborate with Spanish authorities to detect Islamic radicals; prohibit the teaching of Islam in public schools; include in national crime statistics data about the nationality and countries of origin of offenders.
Economy and Resources: Reduce public spending; eliminate redundant government positions or organizations; reduce income taxes; introduce a flat tax; eliminate inheritance taxes; improve the tax situation for families with one or more children; promote the reindustrialization of Spain; make it easier to open new businesses by reducing red tape.
Healthcare: Eliminate free healthcare for illegal immigrants and require co-payments for anyone who has lived in Spain for less than ten years.
Europe and Abroad: Promote a new European treaty along the lines defended by the Visegrad Group of countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) in terms of borders, national sovereignty and respect for the values of European culture; increase the weight of Spain in EU decision-making; reduce the EU budget; promote bilateralism in international relations; withdraw from supranational organizations if they are contrary to the interests of Spain; creation of an agency to help threatened Christian minorities, imitating the initiative of Hungary.
Vox's growing appeal also rests on the fact that it is the only political party in Spain fundamentally to reject political correctness. Vox leaders speak with a frankness and clarity of conviction long unheard of in multicultural Spain.
"We are neither a fascist party, nor the extreme right, nor do we eat children, nor are we totalitarians," Ortega Smith recently said in an interview with the Espejo Público television program.
"We are the only party that is defending the constitution and democracy [against Catalan separatists]."
Vox could best be described as "civilizationist," a term coined by historian Daniel Pipes to describe parties that "cherish Europe's and the West's traditional culture and want to defend it from assault by immigrants aided by the left." In an essay titled, "Europe's Civilizationist Parties," Pipes wrote:
"Civilizationalist parties are populist, anti-immigration, and anti-Islamization. Populist means nursing grievances against the system and a suspicion of an elite that ignores or denigrates those concerns....
"Civilizationist parties, led by Italy's League, are anti-immigration, seeking to control, reduce, and even reverse the immigration of recent decades, especially that of Muslims and Africans. These two groups stand out not because of prejudice ('Islamophobia' or racism) but due to their being the least assimilable of foreigners, an array of problems associated with them, such as not working and criminal activity, and a fear that they will impose their ways on Europe.
"Finally, the parties are anti-Islamization. As Europeans learn about Islamic law (the Shari'a), they increasingly focus on its role concerning women's issues, such as niqabs and burqas, polygamy, taharrush (sexual assault), honor killings, and female genital mutilation. Other concerns deal with Muslim attitudes toward non-Muslims, including Christophobia and Judeophobia, jihadi violence, and the insistence that Islam enjoy a privileged status vis-à-vis other religions."
Addressing voters after the November 10 election results, Abascal said:
"For us, the main urgency today, beyond debates about electoral acts, is to demand from the government the complete restoration of the constitutional order in Catalonia and the return of freedom to millions of Catalans who feel kidnapped by a separatist coup that acts with impunity....
"We estimate that approximately 300,000 Spaniards who voted for the Socialist Party on April 28 have now opted for Vox. These results make Vox a true containment dike and a hope for millions of Spaniards. The containment dike is against Catalan separatism and against the totalitarian legislation of the progressives who, for the first time in a long time, will have a firm opposition and close vigilance."
A Spanish political commentator called "Elentir" wrote about the significance of Vox's electoral success:
"Some thought that the progressive dictatorship had no turning back, that little or nothing could be done in the face of the imposition of gender ideology and the culture of death, in the face of the efforts of the big parties to impose a social-democratic consensus that puts an increasing share of our wealth in the hands of politicians, in the face of multiculturalism and illegal immigration, in the face of a leftist feminism that criminalizes males, and in the face of an absurd territorial model that has put the necessary resources in the hands of separatists to break our national unity. A handful of brave men, however, kept the flame of hope burning and refused to surrender. They decided to do what until then was a taboo in public life: to engage in a battle of ideas against this progressive dictatorship....
"The rise of Vox began with the 12 deputies elected in the Andalusian elections in December 2018. In April 2019, Vox won 24 seats in Parliament becoming the fifth-largest political force in all of Spain. Today Vox has achieved what only a year ago seemed impossible: to become the third-largest force. And it does so by overcoming the barrier of the 50 deputies.
"This number is not trivial. According to Article 162 of the Constitution, the number of 50 deputies enables a party to present resources for unconstitutional actions. If with 24 deputies Vox already made themselves felt considerably in the Congress of Deputies, with their current strength they will have a very important role in Spain's national life. Thanks to those resources, Vox will be able to start acting before the Constitutional Court against the laws that threaten our rights and freedoms.
"Long live Spain!"
Angela Merkel and her Christian Democrats have lost the mantle of being Germany's most trusted and authoritative leaders. And in their place, a nascent left-wing movement is rising.
According to RT, German politician Sahra Wagenknecht, the leader of the Left in Germany's Bundestag, has surpassed Merkel in the latest survey carried out by the authoritative INSA pollster for Germany’s Focus magazine, beating her by three points in a poll that asked Germans to name which politician they felt best represented their interests.
This is an important category in German political polling, and Merkel's slide isn't a new development. Her popularity started to shrink during the refugee crisis in 2015 when she proclaimed that Germany would have an "open door" policy for asylum seekers.
Merkel's CDU has suffered politically from this decision, and has come up short in several local and national elections since.
On the other hand, Wagenknecht became popular last year when she started a new political movement called Aufstehen (‘Stand Up’), which she says aims to be a voice for workers across Europe. The new left-wing movement champions workers' issues, while also calling for limits on migrants who come to Germany to work.
Wagenknecht's growing popularity is the latest problem for the CDU, which is struggling to redefine itself for the post-Merkel era. Merkel's one-time anointed successor, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, came up short in the poll, placing 18th on the list. Often dubbed AKK, Kramp-Karrenbauer stepped into the spotlight last year when she was tapped as Merkel's successor, though a conflict with the Chancellor this year has soured their relationship and left AKK's future uncertain. AKK has also succumbed to several gaffes that have harmed her popularity.
On the CDU's other flank is the right-wing AfD, or Alternative for Deutscheland, which surged from nothing to win top positions in regional elections in the state of Thuringia last month. Though the AfD's leaders didn't rank too high on Focus magazine's latest poll.
Still, this is just the latest warning for Merkel and her party: If they hope to hang on to power, they're going to need a new plan.
Authored by Michael Msika, Equity markets reporter for Bloomberg
European equity investors, especially those betting on banking stocks, are gearing up for the new ECB President Christine Lagarde’s first public speech, at a banking conference today. The central bank’s lower-for-longer rates have hit lenders’ margins in recent years, and Lagarde’s words will be scrutinized for any signs of potential changes on that front.
Beyond potential clues on rate policy, investors will specifically look for any comments on banking integration, which could potentially provide fresh impetus to the banking sector’s rebound that has stalled this month. The rally has been fueled by expectations that there are no more cuts to the deposit rate on the table, as well as by comments from German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz that progress toward a European Union banking union is gaining momentum.
Having a well-connected politician like Lagarde at the helm of the ECB might turn out useful, according to Fidelity Investments CIO Romain Boscher. It could help push financial integration, such as a banking union, Boscher said during an event in Frankfurt on Tuesday. It would also be useful should the ECB need to take even more “unconventional measures” to support the economy, he added.
Banking stocks were buoyed earlier this month by Scholz’s proposal to break a deadlock over the European banking union. A deal in principle could be possible by December, Scholz said. Lagarde’s views on the matter will be especially important, considering the plan got a mixed welcome from euro-area governors.
Goldman Sachs analysts believe the banking union completion would reduce systemic risk, remove barriers to cross-border flow of funds and introduce incentives for cross-border banking, including M&A. They see the completion of the union as a precondition for the EU to construct a stronger, safer and profitable banking system. Key beneficiaries would be large EU banks with cross-border business models as well as pan-Central and Eastern European banks, the analysts say. They see buy-rated BNP, ING, KBC and Unicredit, as well as neutral-rated Societe Generale and Nordea, as well positioned.
More broadly, the big picture for the sector has improved in the past few weeks. The macroeconomic data showed some signs of stabilization and bond yields are trending higher. On top of that, the earnings season was not disastrous.
That prompted Morgan Stanley’s analysts to upgrade European banks to “attractive” going into the next year, citing among reasons a growing confidence that earnings expectations will bottom out in the second half of this year. Better cost efficiency, clarity on capital plans and improving profitability are the key themes Morgan Stanley is looking for, and names Unicredit, Santander and Lloyds are top picks in that context.
The buy side is slowly turning bullish too. Pictet Asset Management chief strategist Luca Paolini upgraded financials to overweight to gain exposure to the current rotation into value stocks. Paolini says the trend has further to go after value shares lagged growth stocks over the past decade. The recent inflection is not a surprise, he says, as value tends to outperform during times of modest growth. He expects the business cycle to move to a more mature phase.
The near-term prospects look less rosy for the sector on the technical front, with the Euro Stoxx Bank Index hitting its longer-term downtrend again and failing to break through.
“I doubt the sector has any legs from here and technically the SX7E chart doesn’t look good to me,” says Aurel cross-asset sales Gurmit Kapoor. The gauge could easily drift back to 90 points or even 85 points, he says.
The major Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun revealed this week that Chinese officials issued a stern to warning to Japan and South Korea against any move to host intermediate-range missiles on their soil.
Citing both Japanese and US sources, the newspaper said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued the message to his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in August — an action apparently triggered by President Trump's announced official withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia.
Given a key administration criticism of the INF is that it doesn't account for developing technology and advanced missiles of major powers like China, Beijing is said to be worried over the fallout of a potential new US-Russia arms race for southeast Asia.
According to the report:
With the INF now invalidated, Beijing is concerned that Washington plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Japan and South Korea where they would be capable of reaching China.
Foreign Minister Wang reportedly told then Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Kono: “If the United States deploys intermediate-range missiles in Japan, that would have a major effect on Japan-China relations” — a message also relayed in a separate bilateral meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
Japan's Kono reportedly responded firmly with “Chinese missiles are capable of hitting Japan, so China must first work toward reducing its arsenal.”
And further: "Kang told Wang that China should first end its retaliatory measures against South Korea for the deployment of the U.S. military’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, the sources said."
The revelation comes at an interesting moment, given US-South Korea relations reached a low-point this month after the Trump administration in negotiations with Seoul demanded a $4.7 billion annual price tag to keep 28,000+ US troops in South Korea.
Simultaneously, China has signed a defense agreement with South Korea promising to develop greater security ties. The agreement lays out a near-term plan to “foster bilateral exchanges and cooperation in defense”.
It seems like a simple and easy to identify pattern, but for some reason the public keeps falling for the same old globalist tricks. A well-worn tactic the money elites use to endear certain puppet political candidates to Americans is to encourage those candidates to use anti-elitist rhetoric, only to then flood their cabinets with those same elites once they get into office. The rule of politics seems to be, “Say whatever you want to get the people on your side, but once you're in office, you do as we tell you...”
These candidates will aggressively attack the banks, corporations and wall street, lamenting the rapid decline of the middle class or “working class”. They will point out that a mere handful of ultra-rich, the top 1%, control more wealth than nearly half of the population combined. They will seize upon the travesties of the poor and argue for “change” to bring balance back to the system. They will pretend to expose the crimes of the banking cabal and the upper echelons of Wall Street. They will put on a grand show; and then, they will do the bidding of their masters and play the role they were groomed for...
Americans are suckers for fake “people's candidates” and always have been.
But perhaps I should expand on this with some real world examples. How about Jimmy Carter, who started out his presidential campaign with a dismal 4% in the Democratic polls. Carter would go on to explode in popularity after attacking what he referred to as the “Washington insiders”, the elites that ran the show from behind the curtain. A widely distributed paperback book that promoted Carter during his campaign called “I'll Never Lie To You: Jimmy Carter In His Own Words” quoted the candidate as saying at a Boston rally:
“The people of this country know from bitter experience that we are not going to get … changes merely by shifting around the same group of insiders.”
His own top aide, Hamilton Jordan, promised:
“If, after the inauguration, you find a Cy Vance as Secretary of State and Zbigniew Brzezinski as head of National Security, then I would say we failed. And I’d quit.”
Carter was portrayed as a statesman free from connections to the globalists; a religious man and veritable white knight pure in his associations. This was viewed as an important image to maintain at the time. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the presidential candidacy of true anti-globalist Barry Goldwater and the highly questionable role of Henry Kissinger in Richard Nixon's administration, the public was growing increasingly suspicious of the nature of government and who was really in charge. Carter was initially seen as a cure for the public's distrust.
Of course, as soon as Carter entered office he injected no less than ten members of the globalist Trilateral Commission and numerous other elites into key positions in his administration, including Cy Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski. And of course, his top aide never quit. The elites knew exactly what the public wanted at that moment in history, and so they gave it to them in the form of Jimmy Carter. Carter's administration would go on to serve numerous globalist interests, but this attracted the ire of the American public, who felt betrayed.
How about another example of fake anti-globalists and anti-elites?
Enter Ronald Reagan, the anti-Carter. The conservative (and former democrat) who wasn't afraid to point out that Carter was surrounded by Trilateral Commission ghouls and question his honesty. Reagan attacked Carter while maintaining a distance from more “conspiratorial” language. Reagan stated in 1980 during his campaign:
“I don’t believe that the Trilateral Commission is a conspiratorial group, but I do think its interests are devoted to international banking, multinational corporations, and so forth. I don’t think that any Administration of the U.S. Government should have the top nineteen positions filled by people from any one group or organization representing one viewpoint. No, I would go in a different direction...”
Reagan, like Carter, was touted as having no affiliations with the elites. He was pure and unsullied by the globalists. But alas, Reagan also quickly picked at least 10 Trilateral Commission members for his transition team once he was elected, and he served the interests of the elites throughout his two terms in the White House (for the most part) under the watchful eye of George H.W. Bush.
If this is starting to sound familiar then you are probably more awake and aware than most. The elites use the same strategies over and over and over again, usually with minor variances to keep things fresh. As many of my readers are well aware, I have been consistently pointing out the fraudulent anti-globalist image of Donald Trump the past few years, and his administration has followed a very similar path to those described above with a few important differences.
Trump ran his campaign as a populist and opponent of the elites. His image was that of a person untouched by the influence of the establishment. In fact, the primary argument among his supporters was that Trump was “so rich” that he “could not be bought”. He criticized Hillary Clinton and her deep state connections with banks like Goldman Sachs and announced that once in office he would “drain the swamp” of special interests in Washington.
He also made bold accusations against the Federal Reserve, pointing out that the supposed “economic recovery” and the stock market rally was a fraud; a bubble created through stimulus and near zero interest rates that he didn't want to inherit. Trump was yet another pure white knight ready to expose and do battle with the globalist dragon.
As many liberty activists are well aware by now, Trump is the furthest thing from an anti-globalist. Like Carter and Reagan, Trump swiftly loaded his cabinet with elites from the Council on Foreign Relations, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc. His background was also not so pure; Trump had in fact been bought a couple decades in advance by the Rothschild banking family. Rothschild agent Wilber Ross was the man who brokered the deal to bail Trump out of his massive debts in multiple properties in Atlantic City, saving Trumps fortune and his image. Today, Wilber Ross is Trump's commerce secretary.
Trump also completely shifted his position on the economy, taking full credit for the stock market bubble as well as the fake GDP numbers and fake unemployment numbers he had attacked during his campaign. Trump has now completely tied his administration to the Everything Bubble – a bubble that has been popped and is now deflating into a hard recession.
Trump's theatrical character is different from Carter and Reagan in a couple of ways.
First, in the Carter era, the public had a wider trust of the mainstream media, and so, Carter was presented as a media darling. Today, the majority of the public has a severe distaste of the media, and so, Trump was presented as their enemy; a thorn in their side. The media attacks on Trump only garnered him MORE attention and favor with conservatives and independents.
Second, Trump's acting role as an anti-globlist in the new world order screenplay is far more important to the elites than Carter or Reagan. Trump is meant to become a symbol of ALL anti-globalism, a nexus point and representative of sovereignty activism. He is meant to co-opt the entire liberty movement, and then sink it into oblivion. In other words, as the economy crumbles around Trump, conservatives and liberty proponents are made guilty by association.
Trump serves the elites by pretending to be starkly anti-establishment while at the same time taking credit for their economic works, not to mention the blame for the collapse of the bubble the establishment created.
But what happens after Trump? Who is next in line to take the lead role in the globalist theater for the American masses? Again, it's important to remember that the elites are not very imaginative, but they do have a lot of practice with tried and true tactics. They will present us with a candidate that is decidedly anti-Trump, but who also continues certain projects that Trump started.
Enter Elizabeth Warren...
Warren is yet another candidate that is being groomed as "unaffiliated" with the elites. Her image as the “daughter of a janitor” from the American midwest who went on to succeed as a woman in a “man's world” is heavily pushed in the media. But here is why I think Warren is the most likely political anti-thesis to Trump and the most likely Democratic candidate; the screenplay essentially writes itself...
Consider this – Warren grows up in a lower middle class family in Oklahoma, the daughter of a lowly service worker. Trump grows up rich, the son of a real estate tycoon who inherits a fortune.
Trump is a billionaire businessman and member of the 1% whose economic policies and tax cuts have consistently favored corporations and stock markets over the middle class. Warren claims she is a “capitalist”, but wants restrictions on stock market buybacks and Wall Street in general, accusing it of being nothing more than a money generator for the super wealthy.
Trump has faced bankruptcy on numerous occasions and his administration sits at the doorstep of the highest national, consumer and corporate debt levels in American history. Warren's background is in bankruptcy and bankruptcy law.
Trump has taken full credit for the economic bubble and boasts about his influence over markets regularly while completely ignoring the crash in fundamentals as well as his own warnings in 2016. Warren is the ONLY democratic candidate so far to predict an economic crash in the near term.
The differences in image are important here, but there are also some similarities between Trump and Warren in terms of policy.
Trump's economic policies demand ever lower interest rates and higher levels of central bank stimulus in order to work. He won't get exactly what he wants, but he is demanding endless central bank intervention all the same. Elizabeth Warren is a proponent of Neoclassical Economics, which is closely tied to Keynesian economics. Warren was also on the oversight committee for the TARP bailout, and can claim that she's intimately familiar with monetary stimulus measures. Real QE4 and near zero interest rates (not just repo purchases) would be more likely under Warren, after the “Trump collapse”. In fact, it is likely that Warren would demand and get MMT (modern monetary theory) policies passed.
Trump has instituted aggressive tariff measures against China and the trade war continues unabated so far. Warren also wants to continue hard-line policies against China, while at the same time blaming Trump for starting the conflict in the first place.
Finally, like Trump, Warren has long been a hawk in support of Israel and it is likely that US troops will be staying in the Middle East for many years to come if she is elected. She will criticize certain aspects of Israel's Palestinian policy to appeal to the Democratic base. But, like Trump, her actions will not match her rhetoric.
The setup of this story is almost too perfect. Midwestern middle class girl and self made professional takes on a boastful arrogant billionaire and the 1%. Democrat voters love this kind of garbage. But it doesn't stop there...
Warren's attacks on billionaires are gaining extreme media attention, and the media loves it. Her latest ad campaign criticized four rich guys by name, including Leon Cooperman, the former Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts, the former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the investor Peter Thiel. Some of these men have responded publicly and angrily, and so another great farce of a wrestling match begins and propels another supposedly anti-establishment candidate into stardom.
But here's the thing – Warren's wealth tax is not so anti-establishment. Elites like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have been openly calling for higher taxes on the super-rich. In tandem with the wealth tax, her climate change position is seen as a shot across the bow of oil companies and the financial power structure. Yet, her policies are almost exactly in line with the Green New Deal and the UN's Agenda 2030, which the globalists greatly desire.
Warren's image as anti-establishment? It's as fake as Trump's image.
Warren has been featured multiple times in the magazine Foreign Affairs, the official magazine of the Council On Foreign Relations. On top of that they published her article "A Foreign Policy for All: Strengthening Democracy - at Home and Abroad”. For those that are unaware, the CFR is the premier globalist organization and its membership roster is saturated with many of the billionaire elites Warren claims to stand against. Yet, she has courted Foreign Affairs many times and they have written about her favorably.
Another interesting little fact is that the CFR does not publish articles by presidential candidates often. In fact, candidates that do get their articles published by Foreign Affairs tend to become president, or get a massive boost in their polling numbers and cash support. An example of this would be Richard Nixon, who suffered a stream of campaign failures until his article “Asia After Vietnam” was published in Foreign Affairs in October 1967. A little over a year later he entered the White House. Another example would be Barack Obama, who published articles in Foreign Affairs in the early stages of his 2008 campaign. Getting an article accepted by the CFR seems to be a signal that the candidate in question is ready to be useful to the establishment.
Warren's explosion in the polls relative to candidates like Joe Biden started a few months after her article was published in the CFR magazine. So far she is the only candidate graced with an article in Foreign Affairs.
Does this mean that the elites want Warren over Donald Trump in 2020? Not necessarily. It is still too early to identify the trend and the signals for the next election. I believe next spring will bring clarity on the matter. However, the point remains that almost every candidate that is given serious consideration within the system is controlled or is seeking favor with the elites. The election process is highly moderated. Good people are not allowed to get though the net. Those that get close are ridiculed and then ignored until their campaigns fade into obscurity.
The candidates that serve the purposes of the elites get endless attention in the media, sometimes positive and sometimes negative, but they are never ignored. And, above all, the candidates that are most likely to be chosen as president are those that pretend to be anti-establishment. This is what sells with the American public, and the globalists know it. Warren is following this pattern, just as Trump did.
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Ever wonder exactly what would happen to your everyday items in the event of a nuclear blast?
Well, so does Russia. In fact, because Russian military vehicles may need to withstand such a blast, they are actually tested for durability in the face of the type of damage that could occur from a nuclear-style explosion, according to RT.
While Russia doesn't actually conduct nuclear explosions for testing purposes, there are testing facilities that are set up to produce "near-perfect" models of the effects of a nuclear explosion: an avalanching blast wave, thermal radiation and a devastating electromagnetic pulse.
And in addition to nuclear blasts, the testing facility also makes sure that Russian military equipment can withstand occurrences like lightning strikes.
The facility – known as the Russian Defense Ministry’s 12th Central Research Institute – recently tested a "family" of military unmanned ground vehicles that includes five models ranging from a small recon robot to a 13 ton armed personnel carrier, which can be manned or under remote control.
In addition to the robots, the facility also tested the command posts that would hold the robot's operators.
One test has a blast wave simulated by using a special blast tube that is over 110 meters long. An explosion at one end of the tunnel is used to create a shockwave that is similar to what happens in a nuclear blast. The blast is enough to "send a seven-ton Soviet BMD-1 infantry fighting vehicle tumbling like a papier-maché model," according to the report.
Includes some interesting archive footage of a BMD-1 test from another site pic.twitter.com/I8eV1VepV2— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) November 10, 2019
Civilian vehicles didn't hold up well, either, during the tests. Shockwaves were strong enough to crush a civilian car flat. But the command post mounted on a truck, shown here...
...can withstand the force, however.
Other tests involved checking if remotely controlled vehicles could endure electromagnetic pulses and other disturbances. Many of these pulses can knock out electronics, which can be fatal to robots controlled from a distance.
You can watch the setup and full tests in this 30 minute Russian TV program that tracked the process closely:
The developing story about how the US intelligence and national security agencies may have conspired to influence and possibly even reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election is compelling, even if one is disinclined to believe that such a plot would be possible to execute. Not surprisingly perhaps there have been considerable introspection among former and current officials who have worked in those and related government positions, many of whom would agree that there is urgent need for a considerable restructuring and reining in of the 17 government agencies that have some intelligence or law enforcement function. Most would also agree that much of the real damage that has been done has been the result of the unending global war on terror launched by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, which has showered the agencies with resources and money while also politicizing their leadership and freeing them from restraints on their behavior.
If the tens of billions of dollars lavished on the intelligence community together with a “gloves off” approach towards oversight that allowed them to run wild had produced good results, it might be possible to argue that it was all worth it. But the fact is that intelligence gathering has always been a bad investment even if it is demonstrably worse at the present. One might argue that the CIA’s notorious Soviet Estimate prolonged the Cold War and that the failure to connect dots and pay attention to what junior officers were observing allowed 9/11 to happen. And then there was the empowerment of al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war followed by failure to penetrate the group once it began to carry out operations.
More recently there have been Guantanamo, torture in black prisons, renditions of terror suspects to be tortured elsewhere, killing of US citizens by drone, turning Libya into a failed state and terrorist haven, arming militants in Syria, and, of course, the Iraqi alleged WMDs, the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. And the bad stuff happened in bipartisan fashion, under Democrats and Republicans, with both neocons and liberal interventionists all playing leading roles. The only one punished for the war crimes was former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed some of what was going on.
Colonel Pat Lang, a colleague and friend who directed the Defense Intelligence Agency HUMINT (human intelligence) program after years spent on the ground in special ops and foreign liaison, thinks that strong medicine is needed and has initiated a discussion based on the premise that the FBI and CIA are dysfunctional relics that should be dismantled, as he puts it “burned to the ground,” so that the federal government can start over again and come up with something better.
Lang cites numerous examples of “incompetence and malfeasance in the leadership of the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” to include the examples cited above plus the failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the domestic front, he cites his personal observation of efforts by the Department of Justice and the FBI to corruptly “frame” people tried in federal courts on national security issues as well as the intelligence/law enforcement community conspiracy to “get Trump.”
Colonel Lang asks “Tell me, pilgrims, why should we put up with such nonsense? Why should we pay the leaders of these agencies for the privilege of having them abuse us? We are free men and women. Let us send these swine to their just deserts in a world where they have to work hard for whatever money they earn.” He then recommends stripping CIA of its responsibility for being the lead agency in spying as well as in covert action, which is a legacy of the Cold War and the area in which it has demonstrated a particular incompetence. As for the FBI, it was created by J. Edgar Hoover to maintain dossiers on politicians and it is time that it be replaced by a body that operates in a fashion “more reflective of our collective nation[al] values.”
Others in the intelligence community understandably have different views. Many believe that the FBI and CIA have grown too large and have been asked to do too many things unrelated to national security, so there should be a major reduction-in-force (RIF) followed by the compulsory retirement of senior officers who have become too cozy with and obligated to politicians. The new-CIA should collect information, period, what it was founded to do in 1947, and not meddle in foreign elections or engage in regime change. The FBI should provide only police services that are national in nature and that are not covered by the state and local jurisdictions. And it should operate in as transparent a fashion as possible, not as a national secret police force.
But the fundamental problem may not be with the police and intelligence services themselves. There are a lot of idiots running around loose in Washington.
Witness for example the impeachment hearings ludicrous fact free opening statement by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (with my emphasis):
“In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire.”
And the press is no better, note the following excerpt from The New York Times lead editorial on the hearings, including remarks of the two State Department officers who testified, on the following day:
“They came across not as angry Democrats or Deep State conspirators, but as men who have devoted their lives to serving their country, and for whom defending Ukraine against Russian aggression is more important to the national interest than any partisan jockeying…
“At another point, Mr. Taylor said he had been critical of the Obama administration’s reluctance to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other lethal defensive weapons in its fight with Russia, and that he was pleased when the Trump administration agreed to do so…
“What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn’t simply the abuse of power by the president, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally under constant assault by Russian forces. ‘Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last four years…’ Mr. Taylor said.”
Schiff and the Times should get their facts straight.
And so should the two American foreign service officers who were clearly seeing the situation only from the Ukrainian perspective, a malady prevalent among US diplomats often described as “going native.” They were pushing a particular agenda, i.e. possible war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine, in furtherance of a US national interest that they fail to define. One of them, George Kent, eulogized the Ukrainian militiamen fighting the Russians as the modern day equivalent of the Massachusetts Minutemen in 1776, not exactly a neutral assessment, and also euphemized Washington-provided lethal offensive weapons as “security assistance.”
Another former intelligence community friend Ray McGovern has constructed a time line of developments in Ukraine which demolishes the establishment view on display in Congress relating to the alleged Russian threat. First of all, Ukraine was no American ally in 2014 and is no “critical ally” today. Also, the Russian reaction to western supported rioting in Kiev, a vital interest, only came about after the United States spent $5 billion destabilizing and then replacing the pro-Kremlin government. Since that time Moscow has resumed control of the Crimea, which is historically part of Russia, and is active in the Donbas region which has a largely Russian population.
It should really be quite simple. The national security state should actually be engaged in national security. Its size and budget should be commensurate with what it actually does, nothing more. It should not be roaming the world looking for trouble and should instead only respond to actual threats. And it should operate with oversight. If Congress is afraid to do it, set up a separate body that is non-partisan and actually has the teeth to do the job. If the United States of America comes out of the process as something like a normal nation the entire world will be a much happier place.
Global growth is quickly plunging to levels not seen since the financial crisis as the risk of long-term stagnation has developed, according to the OECD's latest Economic Outlook.
The world economy is expected to grow at a decade-low of 2.9% this year and remain in a subdued range of 2.9% to 3% through 2021. Global GDP has quickly decelerated from peaking at 3.5% in 2018.
The Paris-based policy forum warned that several years of escalating trade disputes between the US and China have resulted in a synchronized global downturn that has pushed down global growth to alarming levels, not seen since the last financial crisis.
The fragility of the world has led to a cycle of vulnerability where a global trade recession could be imminent or has already arrived.
"The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. Unless governments take decisive action to help boost investment, adapt their economies to the challenges of our time and build an open, fair and rules-based trading system, we are heading for a long-term future of low growth and declining living standards, "OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría recently said.
OECD warns that China, the driver of global growth the bailed everyone out during the last financial crisis, might not be able to stimulate the global economy this time around as trade tensions soar and a rebalancing of the Chinese economy continues.
China will accept sub 6% GDP in 2020, as it's likely Beijing will not turn on its massive credit spigots anytime soon.
China's credit growth slowed more than expected in October to the weakest pace since at least 2017 as a continued collapse in shadow banking, weak corporate demand for credit, and seasonal effects all suggest that a rebound in the domestic and global economy aren't likely in the near term.
To make things even more complicated for the global economy, the Trump administration has created a perfect storm that will likely paralyze the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) appeals body in December that could lead to further escalations in the trade war and damage the global economy into a depression.
Without WTO's working appeals system, international trade disputes will go unresolved and could escalate into tit-for-tat tariff wars that spiral out of control.
"At that stage, the whole thing gets out of hand," said Stuart Harbinson, Hong Kong's former representative at the WTO, now a trade consultant at Hume Broph. "I think that will be the doomsday scenario."
And with global growth at decade lows, China not able to jump-start the global economy, and the risk that trade tensions could continue escalating -- it seems that global equities have priced in a recovery that was only fantasy -- what happens next could be a repricing event for risk assets.
The BIG FREEZE is upon us.
The volatility in weather that our computer has been forecasting on a long-term basis should result in this winter being colder than the last. In Britain, the snow has hit an already flood-ravaged country as temperatures plunged to -7C. This is part of the problem we face. The ground freezes down and this prevents winter crops.
During the late 1700s, the ground froze to a depth of 2 feet according to John Adams. When John Adams set out to travel to Philadelphia, it was bitterly cold and there was a foot or more of snow that covered the landscape that had blanketed Massachusetts from one end of the province to the other. Beneath the snow, after weeks of severe cold, the ground was frozen solid to a depth of two feet. Packed ice in the road made the journey very hazardous.
In a letter to his wife, John Adams wrote:
“Indeed I feel not a little out of Humour, from Indisposition of Body. You know, I cannot pass a Spring, or fall, without an ill Turn — and I have had one these four or five Weeks — a Cold, as usual. Warm Weather, and a little Exercise, with a little Medicine, I suppose will cure me as usual. … Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
On September 8, 1816, Jefferson described the weather in a letter to Albert Gallatin:
“We have had the most extraordinary year of drought and cold ever known in the history of America. In June, instead of 3¾ inches, our average of rain for that month, we had only 1/3 of an inch; in August, instead of 9 1/6 inches our average, we had only 8/10 of an inch; and it still continues. The summer too has been as cold as a moderate winter. In every state North of this there has been frost in every month of the year; in this state we had none in June and July but those of August killed much corn over the mountains. The crop of corn through the Atlantic states will probably be less than 1/3 of an ordinary one, that of tobacco still less, and of mean quality.”
It is global cooling, not global warming, that we should fear the most. Climate change people may get their wish to reduce the population. That is usually the result of global cooling, which creates famine as we are witnessing already in North Korea. The past winter 2018/2019 experienced record breaking cold temperatures. We should beat that this winter 2019/2020... and here's why...
Professor Valentina Zharkova gave a presentation of her Climate and the Solar Magnetic Field hypothesis at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in October, 2018. The information she unveiled should shake/wake you up.
Zharkova was one of only two scientists to correctly predict solar cycle 24 would be weaker than cycle 23 — in fact, only 2 out of 150 models predicted this.
Zharkova’s models have run at a 97% accuracy and now suggest a Super Grand Solar Minimum is on the cards beginning 2020.
Grand Solar Minimums are prolonged periods of reduced solar activity, and in the past have gone hand-in-hand with times of global cooling.
The last time we had a GSM (the Maunder Minimum) only two magnetic fields of the sun went out of phase.
This time, all four magnetic fields are going out of phase.
Two days ago, the Nikkei reported that the millennium's most iconic juggernaut of epic malinvestment, Japan's SoftBank - which may well be this bubble era's "short of the century" - was in talks to receive about 300 billion yen ($2.76 billion) in financing from Japan's leading banks, as the company scrambled to fund a turnaround at its co-working startup, the scandal plagued and terribly misnamed WeWork... which earlier today fired 20% of its workforce.
Why did Softbank need the money? Because as part of its bailout of arguably the most disastrous investment of this century, SoftBank had to fund a $3 billion tender offer to raise its stake in WeWork, and provide an additional $3.3 billion through loans and other methods.
At this point SoftBank ran into a problem: while the bank/telecom/venture capital arm of Japan's richest man, Masayoshi Son, had more than 2 trillion yen on hand, or about $19 billion, it was hoping to borrow additional funds so it can maintain a certain level of cash reserves. For banks - such as SoftBank's main lender, Mizuho Financial - this presented a rare moneymaking opportunity amid Japan's ultralow interest rates.
Here, Softbank ran into another, bigger problem: many of Japan's top banks had already lent large amounts of money to SoftBank and were cautious about taking on further risk. Adding insult to injury, these banks were also investors in the SoftBank Vision Fund which suffered a massive loss over WeWork's aborted initial public offering, not to mention the dismal investment in Uber, and were said to be nixing an investment in a second fund proposed by SoftBank.
And then there was the biggest problem: Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s biggest bank, was said to withhold additional loans to finance SoftBank’s $9.5 billion rescue package for WeWork, the FT reported overnight. While WeWork had gotten a tacit approval from the bank consortium consisting of Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui, the third member of SoftBank's lending group, MUFG said it would turn down the request, if the loans are to be used to save WeWork.
And just like that the radioactivity of Adam Neumann's former company turned gamma.
According to the FT, Sumitomo also did not want to lend to the WeWork bailout, but acknowledged that it had no real control over how SoftBank used any corporate loans once they had been extended (which is odd because clearly MUFJ had no such qualms).
According to analysts, the unprecedented cautious stance - in which SoftBank's closest circle of lenders effectively issued a vote of no confidence in Son's investment capabilities - could signal a turning point in the close relationship between Japanese banks and SoftBank’s deal-driven founder Masayoshi Son. It would also mean that what we predicted before, is now virtually assured - the next time SoftBank needs money, it will go to the BOJ directly.
When is the BOJ's bailout of Softbank?— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 5, 2019
To be sure, such a snub of a core client is unheard of, especially in always polite Japan. However, after SoftBank's recent massive $6.4 billion quarterly loss, and since the "valuation issues" at WeWork which brought down the value of the office subletting company from $47 billion to essentially zero, there has been “a definite change in mood” among the Japanese banks and doubts have emerged over some parts of SoftBank’s investment strategy, said a banker close to SoftBank.
So what is SoftBank to do?
Well, as Bloomberg reported late on Thursday, SoftBank execs - finding themselves in a liquidity crunch - have been forced to admit they overpaid for WeWork again, this time when they bailed it out of bankruptcy, and are now looking for a way to reduce the size of a $3 billion offer for WeWork stock as part of its rescue package.
The discussions at SoftBank center around shrinking a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares owned by founders, employees and investors, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Such a move would be designed, first and foremost, to limit the amount paid to the company's megalomaniacal co-founder Adam Neumann, said Bloomberg's sources.
Yet while there would be a collective cheer if Neuman were to see his platinum parachute reduced to flaming plastic bag, it’s unclear how SoftBank could renege on its agreement with WeWork investors and most of all, with Neumann. Any effort to re-draw terms could result in an unprecedented, and even more humiliating, legal battle as SoftBank takes on the company that until recently was at the forefront of its historic investment spree and, no joke, "AI Revolution" as SoftBank calls its crazy rollup of dozens of startups.
As part of the deal, Neumann would sell almost a billion dollars, or $970 million worth of largely worthless WeWork stock to SoftBank. Some more details from Bloomberg:
In recent internal discussions at SoftBank, some executives have said the payout to Neumann is too generous, the people with knowledge of the talks said. It may be a case of buyer’s remorse after WeWork employees expressed outrage over the favorable deal given to Neumann while the business was in turmoil. Representatives for Neumann, SoftBank and WeWork declined to comment.
Neumann, who just days before the now infamously imploded WeWork IPO was treated as a god by the bank's underwriters including JPMorgan and Goldman, departed the company’s board as part of the rescue package and was replaced by SoftBank executive and newly appointed Chairman Marcelo Claure. Meanwhile, the size of Neumann’s payout, which also included millions in consulting fees, has incensed some WeWork employees, which dropped by 17% today after the latest mass layoff by the company.
To be sure, as Bloomberg notes, no decision has been made yet and SoftBank may choose to fulfill the $3 billion tender offer in its entirety without haircuts, however that may prevent the bank from getting the money it hopes to receive from its banks; indeed, as noted above, it now appears that Mitsubishi UFJ will only grant Masa Son the money if Adam Neumann ends up with nothing (at least metaphorically speaking).
Big the biggest joke of all here is that at a recent briefing in Tokyo, SoftBank's billionaire founder Masayoshi Son acknowledged that this month’s financial results were “a mess” and that overvaluing WeWork was a judgment error. Well, isn't it ironic that after he massively overvalued WeWork when it was solvent, he also overvalued the office rental company (which.is.not.a.tech.company) when it was about to file for bankruptcy.
Son said that he had consulted with lawyers to see if he could back out of a $1.5 billion warrant SoftBank had pledged to WeWork, but they said he couldn’t. Instead, Son decided to buy even more shares at a discounted price, lowering the average cost of SoftBank’s equity in the business.
Because somehow throwing good money after an idiotic investment is supposed to be... good? smart?
We don't know the answer, but one thing we are sure of is what we said earlier this week: "Japan is without doubt the dumbest money this bubble cycle."
Japan is without doubt the dumbest money this bubble cycle https://t.co/uCduPdM461— zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 18, 2019
In 2016, China admitted its economic data was fake, pointing out that "some local statistics are falsified, and fraud and deception happen from time to time."
In 2017, China (again) admitted its economic data was fake, saying that a nationwide audit found some local governments inflated revenue levels and raised debt illegally, with some local GDP data as much as 20% "over-cooked."
In 2018, we exposed China's "cooked" numbers in China's industrial profits growth data.
And early in 2019, a team of researchers from the Brookings Institute published a carefully researched paper detailing the exact mechanism by which authorities in Beijing inflate the country's GDP figures, while estimating that China's economy is roughly 12% smaller than the official figures would suggest.
And so here we are, nearing the end of 2019 and China's economic growth is lagging badly - at or near the lowest since record began over 30 years ago (and expected to grow at less than 6.0% next year for the first time) - we get new from China's National Nureau of Statistics that 2018's GDP data is to be adjusted...
Can you guess which way the adjustment went?
Based on China's gross domestic product (GDP) accounting system and the results of the fourth national economic census, the National Bureau of Statistics revised the preliminary accounting figures for 2018. The main results are as follows:
In 2018, the gross domestic product was 91.93 trillion yuan, an increase of 1.8972 trillion yuan over the initial accounting, an increase of 2.1%.
The revisions were almost entirely focused in the tertiary sector of the economy, whose growth was "adjusted" 4.29% higher while the primary sector barely moved and the output of the secondary sector was actually adjusted 0.32% lower.
We look forward to 2019's goal-seeked adjustments... to ensure China's growth remains above the 'mandated' 6%.
Australia's once squeaky clean banking industry has lost its good reputation, and now the country's second largest bank, Westpac, has broken anti-terror and AML laws requiring the bank to closely screen transactions with an international component. All told, the bank said it has documented no fewer than 23 million transactions that didn't receive an adequate level of scrutiny. This includes failing to report $7.5 billion in international transfers.
But here's the kicker: According to Australian banking laws, each individual breach could warrant a fine of up to A$21 million ($14 million). That means AUSTRAC, the country's financial watchdog, could legally choose to pursue hundreds of trillions of dollars in fines, though that likely far outpaces the bank's ability to pay, WSJ reports.
Though it's not clear exactly what the bank's oversight failures mean, in the case it brought against the bank on Wednesday, AUSTRAC accused Westpac of enabling payments from "high risk" countries, and counterparties with specific histories of sex trafficking.
According to Reuters, the lawsuit dwarfs a case AUSTRAC brought against the larger Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which agreed last year to pay a record A$700 million ($476 million) penalty after admitting that it didn't properly screen 53,750 payments that violated similar protocols.
Court filings from AUSTRAC said the transactions that Westpac failed to monitor took place between 2013 and 2018.
The filing said Westpac maintained relationships with offshore banks without assessing their risks, products, customers or payments, even when those banks disclosed relationships with counterparties in "high risk or sanctioned countries including Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, and Democratic Republic of Congo."
"The risk posed to Westpac was that these high risk or sanctioned countries may have been able to access the Australian payment system," AUSTRAC said.
The Sydney-based bank has known about some of these risks since 2013, when it became aware of "heightened child exploitation risks associated with frequent low value payments to the Philippines and South East Asia" but it didn't set up an automated detection system until 2019.
One customer who had served a prison sentence for child exploitation set up several of the Westpac accounts in question. Westpac detected suspicious activity in one account, but failed to review the other accounts and “this customer continued to send frequent low value payments to the Philippines through channels that were not being monitored appropriately”, AUSTRAC said.
The breaches were "the result of systemic failures in its control environment, indifference by senior management and inadequate oversight by the board," Austrac said in court documents. "They have occurred because Westpac adopted an ad-hoc approach to money laundering and terrorism financing risk management and compliance."
We just witnessed one of the most monumental events of the entire decade, and yet most Americans still don’t understand what has happened.
In recent months, the global economy and stock markets around the world have been buoyed by the hope that the U.S. and China would soon sign a new trade agreement. Unfortunately, there is no way that is going to happen now. On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019”, and the House of Representatives passed the same bill by a 417 to 1 vote on Wednesday.
Needless to say, the Chinese are beyond angry that Congress has done this. In part one of this article, I showed that China is warning the U.S. to “rein in the horse at the edge of the precipice” and that there will be “revenge” if this bill is allowed to become law. And it looks like this bill will actually become law, because Bloomberg is reporting that President Trump is fully expected to sign it…
President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation passed by Congress supporting Hong Kong protesters, setting up a confrontation with China that could imperil a long-awaited trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.
Before I go any further, there is something that I want to address. Earlier today, one of my readers emailed me and accused me of siding with China because I am warning about what will happen if trade negotiations fail. Of course that is not true at all. I have been writing about the horrific human rights abuses in China for many years, and they are one of the most tyrannical regimes on the entire planet today. But our two economies have become deeply intertwined over the past two decades, and there are going to be very serious consequences now that we are rapidly becoming bitter enemies. Anyone that doesn’t see this is simply not being rational.
As I have detailed repeatedly in recent months, the global economy has already entered a very serious slowdown. One of the only things that could reverse our economic momentum in the short-term would be a comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and China. But now that our relationship with China has been destroyed, there isn’t going to be a deal.
Some mainstream news sources are reporting that all of this rancor about Hong Kong could delay a trade deal, but that is just more wishful thinking.
Over in China, they are being much more realistic. In fact, the editor of the Global Times, Hu Xijin, just said that the Chinese are “prepared for the worst-case scenario“…
Few Chinese believe that China and the US can reach a deal soon. Given current poor China policy of the US, people tend to believe the significance of a trade deal, if reached, will be limited. China wants a deal but is prepared for the worst-case scenario, a prolonged trade war.
And he followed that up with another tweet that openly taunted U.S. farmers…
So a friendly reminder to American farmers: Don’t rush to buy more land or get bigger tractors. Wait until a China-US trade deal is truly signed and still valid six months after. It’s safer by then.
As the two largest economies on the entire planet decouple from one another, it is going to cause global economic activity as a whole to dramatically slow down. Corporate revenues will fall, credit markets will start to tighten, and fear will increasingly creep into global financial markets.
I have repeatedly warned that conditions are ideal for our first major crisis since 2008, and this conflict with China could be more than enough to push us over the edge.
And already we are getting more bad economic news day after day. For example, we just learned that U.S. rail traffic this month is way down compared to last year…
Nowhere is the slowdown in the U.S. economy more obvious than in places like Class 8 Heavy Duty Truck orders and rail traffic. We already wrote about how Class 8 orders continued to fall in October and new data the American Association of Railroads (AAR) now shows that last week’s rail traffic and intermodal container usage both plunged.
The AAR reported total carloads for the week ended Nov. 9 came in at 248,905, down 5.1% compared with the same week in 2018. U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 266,364 containers and trailers, down 6.7% compared to 2018, according to Railway Age.
Unless a miracle happens with China, the economic numbers are going to continue to get worse.
Sadly, a miracle seems exceedingly unlikely now. As I pointed out in part one, the only way that our relationship with China can be fixed is if Congress repeals the bill that it just passed, and there is no way that is going to happen.
And we better hope that our trade war with China doesn’t escalate into a real war at some point.
According to a report that was released earlier this year, we are very ill-prepared to fight any sort of a conventional war with China in the Western Pacific…
The University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre’s new report Averting Crisis, said: ‘China’s growing arsenal of accurate long-range missiles poses a major threat to almost all American, allied and partner bases, airstrips, ports and military installations in the Western Pacific.
‘As these facilities could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict, the PLA missile threat challenges America’s ability to freely operate its forces from forward locations throughout the region.’
In addition, U.S. military officials are deeply concerned by how rapidly China has been upgrading their strategic nuclear arsenal. For example, they now possess a “submarine-launched missile capable of obliterating San Francisco”…
China has tested a new submarine-launched missile capable of obliterating San Francisco, an insider has revealed, in a massive boost to the country’s ‘deterrent’.
The Chinese navy tested its state-of-the-art JL-3 missile in Bohai Bay in the Yellow Sea last month, sources said.
The nuclear-capable missile has a 5,600 mile range, significantly longer than its predecessor the JL-2, which could strike targets 4,350 miles away.
We certainly aren’t at that point yet, but without a doubt the Chinese now consider us to be their primary global enemy.
For the moment, it is just a “cold war” that we are facing, and the Chinese are quite adept at playing global chess. They have lots of ways that they can hurt us, and most Americans don’t realize this.
But in the end nobody is going to “win” this conflict, and the entire planet is going to suffer.
Collectively, the economies of the United States and China account for approximately 40 percent of the GDP of the entire world.
As we cause chaos for one another, everyone else is going to experience tremendous pain as well.
The stage is set for a global nightmare, and at this point it doesn’t appear that there is a way that we will be able to escape it.
Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon to federal charges in the "Healthy Holly" book scandal, reported WJZ Baltimore.
Pugh pleaded guilty to four of the 11 charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the US, and two counts of tax evasion. The disgraced mayor faces up to 35 years in federal prison, sentencing is expected in late February 2020.
Maryland US Attorney Robert K. Hur told reporters on the steps of the US District Court in Baltimore that "the city of Baltimore faces many pressing issues. We need dedication and professionalism from our leaders, not fraud and corruption, if we have any hope of fixing these problems."
Pugh's attorney Steven D. Silverman said her client "sincerely apologizes to all of those that she let down, most especially the citizens of Baltimore whom she had the honor to serve in multiple capacities for decades."
Former Mayor Catherine Pugh left federal court in Baltimore without comment. She has pleaded guilty to 4 cts in fraud/tax evasion case against her.— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) November 21, 2019
It is unusual for a defendant to get dropped off and picked up at the curb of the courthouse in a private vehicle pic.twitter.com/MDsz5ZhExo
The indictment alleges Pugh used her position of power to defraud the customers of "Healthy Holly" children's book series for personal use and also to fund her mayoral campaign.
"The indictment alleges that from November 2011 until March 2019, Ms. Pugh conspired with Gary Brown to defraud purchasers of 'Healthy Holly' books to enrich themselves, promote Ms. Pugh's political career and fund her campaign for mayor," Hur said. "Mr. Brown helped Ms. Pugh solicit nonprofit organizations and foundations to buy the 'Healthy Holly' books."
The indictment said for years Pugh evaded paying taxes on the sales of the book.
"For the tax year 2016, Ms. Pugh claimed her taxable income was a little over $31,000 and the tax due was a little over $4,000, when in fact her taxable income was over $322,000 with an income tax due of approximately over $100,000. In other words, her taxable income was more than 10 times what she reported to the IRS for that year and she owed more than 20 times more in taxes than she actually paid for that year," Hur said.
Pugh resigned in May after the FBI and IRS raided her home amid speculation, she was involved in large book sales to disguise hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from the University of Maryland Medical System and managed-care consortium KaiserPermanente.
Fraud runs deep in Baltimore...
There are a lot of unpleasant things in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. Spying screens. Torture and propaganda. Victory Gin and Victory Coffee always sounded particularly dreadful. And there is Winston Smith’s varicose ulcer, apparently a symbol of his humanity (or something), which always seems to be “throbbing.” Gross.
None of this sounds very enjoyable, but it’s not the worst thing in 1984. To me, the most terrifying part was that you couldn’t keep Big Brother out of your head.
Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, the authoritarians in 1984 aren’t that interested in controlling behavior or speech. They do, of course, but it’s only as a means to an end. Their real goal is to control the gray matter between the ears.
“When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will,” O’Brien (the bad guy) tells the protagonist Winston Smith near the end of the book.
We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.
Big Brother’s tool for doing this is the Thought Police, aka the ThinkPol, who are assigned to root out and punish unapproved thoughts. We see how this works when Winston’s neighbor Parsons, an obnoxious Party sycophant, is reported to the Thought Police by his own child, who heard him commit a thought crime while talking in his sleep.
"It was my little daughter," Parsons tells Winston when asked who it was who denounced him.
"She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?”
Who Are These Thought Police?
We don’t know a lot about the Thought Police, and some of what we think we know may actually not be true since some of what Winston learns comes from the Inner Party, and they lie.
What we know is this: The Thought Police are secret police of Oceania—the fictional land of 1984 that probably consists of the UK, the Americas, and parts of Africa—who use surveillance and informants to monitor the thoughts of citizens. The Thought Police also use psychological warfare and false-flag operations to entrap free thinkers or nonconformists.
Those who stray from Party orthodoxy are punished but not killed. The Thought Police don’t want to kill nonconformists so much as break them. This happens in Room 101 of the Ministry of Love, where prisoners are re-educated through degradation and torture. (Funny sidebar: the name Room 101 apparently was inspired by a conference room at the BBC in which Orwell was forced to endure tediously long meetings.)
The Origins of the Thought Police
Orwell didn’t create the Thought Police out of thin air. They were inspired to at least some degree by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), a complicated and confusing affair. What you really need to know is that there were no good guys, and it ended with left-leaning anarchists and Republicans in Spain crushed by their Communist overlords, which helped the fascists win.
Orwell, an idealistic 33-year-old socialist when the conflict started, supported the anarchists and loyalists fighting for the left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, which received most of its support from the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin. (That might sound bad, but keep in mind that the Nazis were on the other side.) Orwell described the atmosphere in Barcelona in December 1936 when everything seemed to be going well for his side.
The anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing ... It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle,
he wrote in Homage to Catalonia.
[E]very wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle ... every shop and café had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized.
That all changed pretty fast. Stalin, a rather paranoid fellow, was bent on making Republican Spain loyal to him. Factions and leaders perceived as loyal to his exiled Communist rival, Leon Trotsky, were liquidated. Loyal Communists found themselves denounced as fascists. Nonconformists and “uncontrollables” were disappeared.
Orwell never forgot the purges or the steady stream of lies and propaganda churned out from Communist papers during the conflict. (To be fair, their Nationalist opponents also used propaganda and lies.) Stalin’s NKVD was not exactly like the Thought Police—the NKVD showed less patience with its victims—but they certainly helped inspire Orwell’s secret police.
The Thought Police were not all propaganda and torture, though. They also stem from Orwell’s ideas on truth. During his time in Spain, he saw how power could corrupt truth, and he shared these reflections in his work George Orwell: My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943.
...I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened.
In short, Orwell’s brush with totalitarianism left him worried that “the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.”
This scared him. A lot. He actually wrote, “This kind of thing is frightening to me.”
Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe,” Rudyard Kipling once observed.
The struggle to remain true to one’s self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about “the smelly little orthodoxies” that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts"—something of a rarity in humans—even though it often hurt him in British society.
In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power.
More Prophetic Than He Knew?
It might be tempting to dismiss Orwell’s book as a figment of dystopian literature. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Modern history shows he was onto something.
When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.
When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what’s frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn’t just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around.
Nor did the use of state spies to prosecute thoughtcrimes end with the fall of the Soviet Union. Believe it or not, it’s still happening today. The New York Times recently ran a report featuring one Peng Wei, a 21-year-old Chinese chemistry major. He is one of the thousands of “student information officers” China uses to root out professors who show signs of disloyalty to President Xi Jinping or the Communist Party.
The New Thought Police?
The First Amendment of the US Constitution, fortunately, largely protects Americans from the creepy authoritarian systems found in 1984, East Germany, and China; but the rise of “cancel culture” shows the pressure to conform to all sorts of orthodoxies (smelly or not) remains strong.
The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984, but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE’s Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they’re “walking on eggshells” and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation.
That’s a lot of pressure, especially for people still learning the acceptable boundaries of a new moral code that is constantly evolving. Most people, if the pressure is sufficient, will eventually say “2+2=5” just to escape punishment. That’s exactly what Winston Smith does at the end of 1984, after all. Yet Orwell also leaves readers with a glimmer of hope.
“Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad,” Orwell wrote.
“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
In other words, the world may be mad, but that doesn’t mean you have to be.
Jussie Smollett, whose ham-handed hate crime hoax led to the cancellation of Empire, thinks we're all morons.
The unemployed actor who paid his drug dealing Nigerian friends to buy MAGA hats, bleach and a rope before staging a 2am attack in "MAGA country" - also known as downtown Chicago, has demanded that the city of Chicago, the Nigerian brothers, and former police superintendent Eddie Johnson pay him for conspiring to frame him for concocting the hate crime, according to the Cook County Record.
Smollett's case case was mysteriously quashed after Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, leaned on Cook County top prosecutor Kim Foxx after a grand jury slapped Smollett with a 16 count indictment for lying to the police.
According to a counterclaim to a lawsuit brought by the city of Chicago, however, Smollett is the victim of a conspiracy.
On Nov. 19, Smollett, through his lawyer, William J. Quinlan, of the Quinlan Law Firm, filed a counterclaim in Chicago federal court against the city, former police superintendent Eddie Johnson, the Nigerian brothers alleged to have helped Smollett and others. The counterclaim came as the centerpiece of Smollett’s formal answers to the lawsuit brought earlier this year by the city of Chicago, which demands Smollett be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to compensate the city and taxpayers for the costs of the large police investigation into Smollett’s attack claims.
In the counterclaim, Smollett asserts the hoax allegations emerged as a result of a 48-hour “interrogation” conducted by Chicago Police of brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, and was then seized on by Chicago Police to advance the story Smollett had orchestrated the attack to gain publicity and public sympathy after he allegedly became unhappy with the lack of response from television executives and others to a threatening racist and homophobic letter he claims to have received weeks earlier. -Cook County Record
Smollett claims that Chicago PD deliberately ignored exonerating evidence from the alleged attack in the very liberal, very upscale Streeterville neighborhood. According to Smollett, his attackers shouted "This is MAGA country," before physically assaulting him while he was innocently walking home at 2am from getting a Subway sandwich.
After evidence suggested it was staged, the two "attackers" - the Osundario brothers - admitted that Smollett paid them $3,500 to carry out the hoax, and that the three of them had practiced beforehand.
They also said that Smollett was involved in creating a racist letter containing a white substance that was sent to the actor on the Chicago set of Empire. When the letter failed to achieve the desired level of national outrage, the Osundario brothers say Smollett concocted the hate-crime.
Or - bear with Jussie - the Osundarios and Chicago PD conspired to frame him for the hate crime hoax.
California’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Nov. 21 that a law requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot there violates the state’s constitution.
Senate Bill 27, which was sponsored by Democrats and became chapter 121 of the California Elections Code after being signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 30, requires presidential candidates to file their income tax returns for the five most recent taxable years with the secretary of state in order to have their names listed on a primary election ballot. The secretary of state’s office would make redacted versions of the returns available to the public on its website within five days.
The bill lays out the same requirements for the candidates for governor but applies to primary elections, not general elections.
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye delivers her State of the Judiciary address before a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on March 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
The court said the law - the first of its kind in the nation and widely believed to be aimed squarely at President Donald Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, but recently said he would do so before the 2020 election - was unconstitutional because its requirement for disclosure of tax returns to qualify for the ballot added exclusivity.
“This additional requirement … is in conflict with the Constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the 7–0 decision.
“Ultimately, it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a ‘recognized candidate throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States’ to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box.”
A U.S. judge had temporarily blocked the bill from becoming state law, in response to a different lawsuit; the high court ruled quickly because the deadline to file tax returns for getting on the primary ballot is next week.
The state’s Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson challenged the bill, saying it singled out Trump.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for every California voter,” Patterson said in a statement.
“We are pleased that the courts saw through the Democrats’ petty partisan maneuvers and saw this law for what it is—an unconstitutional attempt to suppress Republican voter turnout.”
California Republican Party chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson listens as lawyers present their arguments for and against a recently approved state law requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to be on the state’s primary ballot, before the California Supreme Court in Sacramento on Nov. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
The state defended the law, saying the release of tax returns is a simple way for voters to weigh candidates’ financial status.
California Democrats are one of several groups who are pushing for Trump’s tax returns to be made public. On Nov. 18, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stopped a lower court order requiring Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, to turn over his tax returns to House Democrats amid their impeachment inquiry.
In a separate case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in favor of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office requiring Trump’s accountants to turn over tax returns.
Trump’s attorneys have submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn that ruling. The justices haven’t said whether they would consider the appeal.
Update 2: The Washington Post claims that "Horowitz found that the employee erroneously indicated he had documentation to back up a claim he had made in discussions with the Justice Department about the factual basis for the application. He then altered an email to back up that erroneous claim, they said."
The attorney forced out of the agency after the incident was discovered.
The Post says the conduct "did not alter Horowitz's finding that the surveillance application of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had a proper legal and factual basis."
The Justice Department inspector general has found evidence that an FBI employee may have altered a document connected to court-approved surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, but has concluded that the conduct did not affect the overall validity of the surveillance application, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The person under scrutiny has not been identified but is a low-level FBI lawyer who has since been forced out of the FBI.... -Washington Post
Update: CNN has updated their story to include that the individual under investigation is a former FBI line attorney.
Moyer:— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) November 22, 2019
The FBI line attorney did not believe it was a close call.
The FBI line attorney believed there was probable cause to support the Page FISA app.
May also have worked on the Hillary Mid Year Exam investigation. pic.twitter.com/GQye617Np7
Over the next few weeks, those who didn’t go to law school will start learning about the “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine. https://t.co/JEE6TUrZmS— Mark R. Weaver (@MarkRWeaver) November 22, 2019
An FBI official is under criminal investigation for fabricating evidence related to the agency's surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page, according to CNN.
According to the report, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's review of the FBI's warrant applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) revealed an altered document which - we assume - was used to bolster the application to obtain the warrant and/or subsequent renewals.
Evidence of the fabricated document was turned over to John Durham, the federal prosecutor tasked earlier this year by Attorney General William Barr with launching a broad investigation into the FBI's activities surrounding the 2016 US election.
As CNN notes, however, "it's unknown how significant a role the altered document played in the FBI's investigation of Page and whether the FISA warrant would have been approved without the document." What we do know, however, is that it was significant enough to warrant a criminal investigation.
Some witnesses who have been interviewed in Horowitz's investigation have said they expect the inspector general to find mistakes in the FBI's handling of the FISA process, but that those mistakes do not undermine the premise for the FBI's investigation.
Horowitz's investigators conducted more than 100 witness interviews in their review. During one of interviews this year, they confronted the witness about the document. The witness admitted to the change, the sources said.
The identity or rank of the FBI employee under investigation isn't yet known, and it's not clear whether the employee still works in the federal government. No charges that could reflect the situation have been filed publicly in court. -CNN
On Thursday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced that Horowitz would release his report on December 9, and would testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee two days later.
The U.S. Constitution states:
Article 1, Section 8
1. The Congress shall have Power …
5. To coin Money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin….
6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting … current coin of the United States.
Article 1, Section 10
- No state shall … emit Bills of Credit and make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.
The intent of the Framers could not have been clearer. The Constitution clearly and unequivocally brought into existence a monetary system based on gold coins and silver coins being the official money of the United States.
Notice that the states are prohibited from issuing “bills of credit.” What are “bills of credit.” That was the term used during that time for paper money. The Constitution expressly prohibited the states from publishing paper money and making anything but gold and silver coins official legal money.
What about the federal government? The Constitution didn’t expressly prohibit it from emitting “bills of credit” like it did with the states. Does that mean that the federal government was empowered to make paper money the official money of the United States?
No, it does not mean that. In the case of the federal government, its powers are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution. If a power isn’t enumerated, then the federal government is automatically prohibited from exercising it.
Therefore, it was unnecessary for the Framers to provide for an express prohibition on the federal government to make paper money the official legal tender of the nation. All that was necessary was to ensure that the Constitution did not empower the federal government to issue paper money.
The powers relating to money that are delegated to the federal government, which are stated above, expressly make it clear that gold coins and silver coins, not paper, were to be the official money of the country. That is reflected by the power given the federal government to “coin money.” At the risk of belaboring the obvious, one does not “coin” paper. Paper is published or “emitted.” It is not coined. Coins are coined.
The provision on counterfeiting also expressly confirms that the official money of the United States was to be gold coins and silver coins. The Framers didn’t provide for punishment for counterfeiting paper money because there was no paper money. They provided for punishment for counterfeiting “current coin of the United States.”
Add up all of these provision and there is but one conclusion that anyone can logically and reasonably draw: The Constitution established a monetary system in which gold and silver coins were to be the official money of the United States.
The power to borrow
That’s not to say, of course, that federal officials could not borrow money. The Constitution did give them that power:
Article1, Section 8
1. The Congress shall have Power …
2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States.
When the federal government borrows money, it issues debt instruments to lenders, consisting of bills, notes, or bonds. But everyone understood that federal debt instruments were not money but instead simply promises to pay money. The money that they promised to pay was the gold and silver coins, which were the official money of the country.
And in fact, that was the monetary system of the United States for more than a century, one in which gold coins and silver coins were the official money of the American people.
It is often said that the “gold standard” was a system in which paper money was “backed by gold.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no paper money. The “gold standard” was a system where gold coins, along with silver coins, were the official money of the country.
Monetary debauchery and destruction
It all came to an end in the 1930s, when the Franklin Roosevelt regime ordered all Americans to deliver their gold coins to the federal government. Anyone who failed to do so would be prosecuted for a federal felony offense and severely punished through incarceration and fine if convicted.
In return, people were give federal debt instruments, ones that promised to pay money. But since the money was now illegal, the debt instruments were promises to pay nothing. That’s reflected by the Federal Reserve Notes that people now use to pay for things.
Roosevelt’s actions were among the most abhorrent in the history of the United States. In one fell swoop, he and his regime destroyed what had been the finest and soundest monetary system in the history of the world, one that contributed mightily to the tremendous increase in prosperity and standards of living in the 19th century.
What is also amazing is that Roosevelt did it without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. To change a system that the Constitution established requires a constitutional amendment. That is an arduous and difficult process, which is what the Framers wanted. Roosevelt circumvented that process by simply getting Congress to nationalize people’s gold.
The result of Roosevelt’s illegal and immoral actions regarding money and the Constitution? Moral, economic, and monetary debauchery, which has entailed almost 90 years of plundering and looting people through monetary debasement and devaluation to finance the ever-burgeoning expenses of America’s welfare-warfare state way of life.
The solution to all this monetary mayhem is go further than the Framers did: Separate money and the state entirely, in the same way that our ancestors separated church and state. Terminate all government involvement in money, including by ending the federal government’s central bank, also known as the Federal Reserve. Establish a free-market monetary system, one in which people are free to choose their own media of exchange. That would go a long way toward restoring liberty, peace, and prosperity to our land.
Three months after a major and still somewhat mysterious rocket explosion in Russia's far north which caused radiation levels to spike at least sixteen times above normal, President Putin confirmed in statements Thursday that his military is developing a weapon that has "no equal in the world," according to Interfax news agency.
“The very fact of possessing such unique technologies is today the most important reliable guarantee of peace on the planet,” Putin is reported to have said while meeting with the families of those killed, Interfax reports further. It's believed that the blast was the result of a failed experimental test of a hypersonic cruise missile powered by a nuclear core.
Prior statements of top Russian officials indicated that the Aug. 8 radiological accident at the northern port city of Severodvinsk had involved a “small-scale nuclear reactor” and had further confirmed an explosion that centered on an “isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine”.
This information was revealed despite an initial attempt at covering up the radioactive nature of the accident in the days after the explosion:
Russia covered up the deadly nuclear reactor explosion in August during the salvage at sea of one of Vladimir Putin’s new superweapons, a nuclear-powered cruise missile called Skyfall, a senior State Department official disclosed.
There had been an alarming run on iodine pills after area residents were warned by emergency alerts that a major event had taken place.
“They led a complex, responsible and critical mission,” Putin said of the five scientists that died in the blast while offering condolences. At least three others had been injured in the explosion.
“We are talking about the most advanced and unparalleled technical ideas and solutions, weapons that are designed to ensure sovereignty and security for Russia for decades to come,” Putin said.
At the time Reuters cited dangerously high levels of radiation emitted from the military test facility: "Greenpeace has cited data from the Emergencies Ministry that it said showed radiation levels had risen 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Nyonoksa."
Enough official descriptions of the experimental weapon had been pieced together for analysts to speculate at the time that it had been a prototype nuclear-powered cruise missile known in Russia as the 9M730 Burevestnik and by Nato as the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
Putin had first unveiled the experimental technology during a 2018 speech showcasing Russian defense technology developments. The chief stunning claim behind the hypersonic missile is that it can traverse the globe indefinitely at "faster than Mach 5" based on its nuclear powered core.
These latest statements reported in Interfax provide further confirmation that Russia continues to pursue its futuristic hypersonic weapons program even after the latest major setbacks.
House Democrats have voted to keep funding the PATRIOT Act in a flurry of partisan hypocrisy. The surveillance legislation that should have every person fearing for their rights and privacy was recently shoehorned through the House, folded into a resolution to keep the federal government funded for three more months. The spending bill was pushed through with not a single Republican vote.
The PATRIOT Act passed in 2001 during the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack, but it was originally conceived by former Vice President Joe Biden as the 1995 Omnibus Counterterrorism Act; the law has long been regarded as a major infringement on civil liberties and a reactionary piece of legislation which has passed its time in the sun.
The re-authorization was introduced late and offered lawmakers only 72 hours to read the entire continuing resolution. High-profile members of the progressive “Squad,” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who had previously spoken out against the act, were among those who voted to renew it. On her website, Ocasio-Cortez bemoans the creation of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency as part and parcel of the PATRIOT Act and its associated legislation. She opines:
“The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was created in 2003, in the same suite of post-9/11 legislation as the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Its founding was part of an unchecked expansion of executive powers that led to the widespread erosion of Americans’ civil rights.”
Why, then, would she now choose to cast a vote extending said powers?
A Whiff Of 2020?
Every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted for the resolution bar two, who abstained. The fact that those few who demurred were not brave enough to vote against the extension tells us something of interest: This was a party whip. It appears the upper echelons determined that the spending would go through come hell or high water, and woe betide those who go against the party leadership. Is there perhaps an element of self-interest at play here? Each decision made and vote taken in Congress sets a permanent record for individual members; is it beyond the party machine to lay traps for primary candidates who the management team does not view as “suitable”? Or perhaps the whole exercise was designed to test loyalty to the party line?
For a group that touts itself as being the defender of civil rights, it was a bold decision for Democrats to publically place themselves in the firing line of those who see the PATRIOT Act as an invasive, right-wing Trojan Horse.
An Opportunity For Trump?
If the partisan vote in the Senate matches that in the House, Republicans will decline to pass this resolution. The GOP will get the blame if a budget is not passed by midnight Thursday, in time for President Trump’s signature – but perhaps this could be a vote winner in 2020.
If the president rallies Republican senators to shoot the bill down, he can lay claim to a position in defence of civil liberties and drag along with him the Fourth Estate, which would have a hard time advocating a Bush-era policy that it has argued against for almost two decades. Add in a smattering of social media, and Trump could become the Civil Rights President … at least until the next storm in a teacup is served.
Attorneys for Jeffrey Epstein accusers have called on the FBI to speak with disgraced British royal Prince Andrew over his years-long association with Jeffrey Epstein, which would demonstrate "justice and accountability for the victims."
Attorney Lisa Bloom told The Telegraph that while it's "great" that Prince Andrew is stepping away from his royal duties, he needs to cooperate with US investigators.
"It's great that he's stepping away from his royal duties, but it's really not about that — it's about justice and accountability for the victims, so it's important that he says he's going to cooperate with law enforcement," said Bloom.
Bloom said Prince Andrew should answer questions from all the accusers' attorneys — in particular the attorney of Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges she was coerced into having sex with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions when she was 17.
Giuffre has offered a detailed account of a March 10, 2001, encounter in which she said she danced with the prince at Tramp nightclub in London before he had sex with her.
Guiffre publicly released a photograph of her and Prince Andrew in which he has his arm around her waist, which she says was taken at the house of Ghislaine Maxwell, who an ex-girlfriend of Epstein's who has been accused of acting as his "fixer" at the time. -Business Insider
Meanwhile, attorney Gloria Allred who also represents Epstein accusers, urged the prince to provide any evidence that might help victims seek justice "without conditions and without delay," including emails, texts and calendars - adding that the prince's staff should also provide relevant information, according to the BBC.
Allred added that if the prince didn't offer information voluntarily, he might be asked to speak under oath in a criminal investigation into potential Epstein co-conspirators, along with civil lawsuits brought by Epstein's accusers.
"I haven't made a determination yet as to ... whether we will need to take Prince Andrew's deposition," said Allred, adding "But I'm saying he should provide it in any civil case as well, where his testimony might be relevant."
"It's totally extraordinary," veteran royal watcher and Majesty magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward told CBS on Thursday. "You don't expect a member of the royal family to be caught up in the life of a seedy pedophile. You just don't."
Rudy Giuliani claims that US diplomats have been acting to further the interests of billionaire George Soros in Ukraine in what he described as a "massive pay-for-play" scheme which included falsifying evidence against President Trump.
"The anti-corruption bureau is a contradiction," Giuliani told Glenn Beck, regarding Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), which Joe Biden helped establish when he was the Obama administration's point-man on Ukraine.
As a bit of background, in December of 2018, a Ukrainian court ruled that NABU director Artem Sytnyk "acted illegally" when he revealed the existence of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's name to Journalist and politician Serhiy Leschenko in a "black ledger" containing off-book payments to Manafort by Ukraine's previous administration. The ruling against Sytnyk and Leshchenko was later overturned on a technicality.
In December, The Blaze obtained audio of Sytnyk bragging about helping Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US election.
"They took all the corruption cases away from the prosecutor general, they gave it to the anti-corruption bureau, and they got rid of all the cases that offended Soros, and they included all the cases against Soros' enemies," Giuliani told Beck.
The Soros connection"
"One of the first cases they dismissed was a case in which his [Soros's] NGO, AntAC, was supposed to have embezzled a lot of money, but not only that, collected dirty information on Republicans to be transmitted, gotten by Ukrainians, to be transmitted to this woman Alexandra Chalupa and other people who worked for the Democratic National Committee," Giuliani continued.
"The first case that [former prosecutor Yuri] Lutsenko tanked was that case at the request of the ambassador," he added.
Elsewhere in the interview, Giuliani described his reaction when he discovered the Ukrainian collusion that undermined the accusations of the Democrats made against the president.
"Hallelujah! I now have what a defense lawyer always wants: I can go prove somebody else committed this crime!" Giuliani said.
Giuliani explained to Beck that he had gone to Ukraine seeking exculpatory evidence, that which would exonerate his client, the president, in the special counsel Robert Mueller investigation.
When Giuliani was asked directly about the identity of the whistleblower, he said that he could not speak about the matter publicly, and could not indicate if he knew the identity or not.
He also claimed that there were several prosecutors in Ukraine currently who were willing to testify about the collusion, but they were being blocked by the U.S. State Department. When prompted by Beck, he said he would provide for him the names of those individuals off air.
"The case is a massive pay-for-play multimillion-dollar scheme, and it is an absolute travesty of justice," Giuliani said. -The Blaze
Last month Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has invited Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to explain allegations of rampant corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine. The former New York Mayor has yet to accept.
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"The Bank is not aware of any OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control) violations arising out of the continuing internal investigation," Swedbank said in a statement.
"How individual employees have acted in different situations is also part of the ongoing internal investigation," Swedbank said. "If there has been unethical behavior as described in Uppdrag Granskning, we should of course get to the bottom of it.""It is a good thing that the bank is being investigated and I welcome Uppdrag Granskning’s reporting,” CEO Jens Henriksson added.
Ukraine is corrupt pass it onhttps://en.interfax.com.ua/news/press-conference/625831.html …
MPs demand Zelensky, Trump investigate suspicion of U.S.-Ukraine corruption involving $7.4 blnKYIV. Nov 20 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Ukrainian members of parliament have demanded the presidents of Ukraine and the United States, Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald Trump, investigate suspicions of the...en.interfax.com.ua
"The existing landscape for accessing Bitcoin is incomplete," Steve Kurz, head of asset management at Galaxy Digital, said in a phone interview. "We are trying to offer secure service providers, low fees, simple access to Bitcoin. We wanted to create something that could plug into the existing infrastructure."
"You are seeing Bitcoin way outperform other coins right now, and I think that will continue until these coins start to get used for things," Novogratz said. "You also get more credentialed people - there are probably 20 billionaires I could name that made their money outside of crypto and are in crypto now. Every speculative asset needs people to tell the story, and people are buying the story."
Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine and China has attracted criticism from President Trump and other Republicans. In an unrelated fraud case from last year, his name was invoked as a selling point in transactions that turned out to be fraudulent, although Mr. Biden‘s lawyer said his client knew nothing about it.The case involved a $60 million securities fraud based on bonds issued by an economic-development company affiliated with a Native American tribe in South Dakota, according to prosecutors’ statements in a federal trial in Manhattan last year.The proceeds were supposed to be used to build a distribution center and other projects, but were instead diverted for the personal use of Jason Galanis, prosecutors said prosecutors said, describing him as the scheme’s ringleader. Mr. Galanis and others also sought to use the bonds to advance a strategy that involved buying up financial firms to merge them into a larger one called Burnham Financial Group, in a deal called a “roll up,” according to prosecutors.
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is reportedly working toward implementing a new law that would allow law enforcement to seize Bitcoin and other digital assets, beginning in 2021, according to Russian news outlet RBC. Specifically, the new law would allow police to seize computers, hard drives or mobile devices containing cryptocurrency wallet addresses from individuals suspected of a crime. From there, authorities could then search through the contents of the devices and see about accessing the wallets and the cryptocurrencies they might contain.
The dye is a common antiseptic in Russia and has been used in protests there and in Ukraine. "It looks funny but it hurts like hell," Mr Navalny tweeted.It is not clear who carried out the attack, which happened near the offices of the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) that he founded. According to one report (in Russian) he was diagnosed with a chemical burn to the eye.
Oleg, you followed Biden story from its very inception. Biden is not the only Dem politician involved in the Ukrainian corruption schemes, is he?
Indeed, John Kerry, the Secretary of State in Obama’s administration, was his partner-in-crime. But Joe Biden was number one. During the Obama presidency, Biden was the US proconsul for Ukraine, and he was involved in many corruption schemes. He authorised transfer of three billion dollars of the US taxpayers’ money to the post-coup government of the Ukraine; the money was stolen, and Biden took a big share of the spoils.It is a story of ripping the US taxpayer and the Ukrainian customer off for the benefit of a few corruptioners, American and Ukrainian. And it is a story of Kiev regime and its dependence on the US and IMF. The Ukraine has a few midsize deposits of natural gas, sufficient for domestic household consumption. The cost of its production was quite low; and the Ukrainians got used to pay pennies for their gas. Actually, it was so cheap to produce that the Ukraine could provide all its households with free gas for heating and cooking, just like Libya did. Despite low consumer price, the gas companies (like Burisma) had very high profits and very little expenditure.After the 2014 coup, IMF demanded to raise the price of gas for the domestic consumer to European levels, and the new president Petro Poroshenko obliged them. The prices went sky-high. The Ukrainians were forced to pay many times more for their cooking and heating; and huge profits went to coffers of the gas companies. Instead of raising taxes or lowering prices, President Poroshenko demanded the gas companies to pay him or subsidise his projects. He said that he arranged the price hike; it means he should be considered a partner.Burisma Gas company had to pay extortion money to the president Poroshenko. Eventually its founder and owner Mr Nicolai Zlochevsky decided to invite some important Westerners into the company’s board of directors hoping it would moderate Poroshenko’s appetites. He had brought in Biden’s son Hunter, John Kerry, Polish ex-President Kwasniewski; but it didn’t help him.Poroshenko became furious that the fattened calf may escape him, and asked the Attorney General Shokin to investigate Burisma trusting some irregularities would emerge. AG Shokin immediately discovered that Burisma had paid these ‘stars’ between 50 and 150 thousand dollar per month each just for being on the list of directors. This is illegal by the Ukrainian tax code; it can’t be recognised as legitimate expenditure.At that time Biden the father entered the fray. He called Poroshenko and gave him six hours to close the case against his son. Otherwise, one billion dollars of the US taxpayers’ funds won’t pass to the Ukrainian corruptioners. Zlochevsky, the Burisma owner, paid Biden well for this conversation: he received between three and ten million dollars, according to different sources.AG Shokin said he can’t close the case within six hours; Poroshenko sacked him and installed Mr Lutsenko in his stead. Lutsenko was willing to dismiss the case of Burisma, but he also could not do it in a day, or even in a week. Biden, as we know, could not keep his trap shut: by talking about the pressure he put on Poroshenko, he incriminated himself. Meanwhile Mr Shokin gave evidence that Biden put pressure on Poroshenko to fire him, and now it was confirmed. The evidence was given to the US lawyers in connection with another case, Firtash case.
What is Firtash Case?
The Democrats wanted to get another Ukrainian oligarch, Mr Firtash, to the US and make him to confess that he illegally supported Trump’s campaign for the sake of Russia. Firtash had been arrested in Vienna, Austria; there he fought extradition to the US. His lawyers claimed it is purely political case, and they used Mr Shokin’s deposition to substantiate their claim. For this reason, the evidence supplied by Shokin is not easily reversible, even if Shokin were willing, and he is not. He also stated under oath that the Democrats pressurised him to help and extradite Firtash to the US, though he had no standing in this purely American issue. It seems that Mrs Clinton believes that Firtash’s funds helped Trump to win elections, an extremely unlikely thing [says Mr Tsarev].
Talking about Burisma and Biden; what is this billion dollars of aid that Biden could give or withhold?
It is USAID money, the main channel of the US aid for “support of democracy”. First billion dollars of USAID came to the Ukraine in 2014. This was authorised by Joe Biden, while for Ukraine, the papers were signed by Mr Turchinov, the “acting President”. The Ukrainian constitution does not know of such a position, and Turchinov, “the acting President” had no right to sign neither a legal nor financial document. Thus, all the documents that were signed by him, in fact, had no legal force. However, Biden countersigned the papers signed by Turchynov and allocated money for Ukraine. And the money was stolen – by the Democrats and their Ukrainian counterparts.Two years ago, (that is already under President Trump) the United States began to investigate the allocation of 3 billion dollars; it was allocated in 2014, in 2015, in 2016; one billion dollars per year. The investigation showed that the documents were falsified, the money was transferred to Ukraine, and stolen. The investigators tracked each payment, discovered where the money went, where it was spent and how it was stolen.As a result, in October 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a criminal case for “Abuse of power and embezzlement of American taxpayers’ money”. Among the accused there are two consecutive Finance Ministers of the Ukraine, Mrs Natalie Ann Jaresko who served 2014-2016 and Mr Alexander Daniluk who served 2016-2018, and three US banks. The investigation caused the USAID to cease issuing grants since August 2019. As Trump said, now the US does not give away money and does not impose democracy.The money was allocated with the flagrant violation of American law. There was no risk assessment, no audit reports. Normally the USAID, when allocating cash, always prepares a substantial package of documents. But the billions were given to Ukraine completely without documents. The criminal case on the embezzlement of USAID funds had been signed personally by the US Attorney General, so these issues are very much alive.Sam Kislin was involved in this investigation. He is a good friend and associate of Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and an ex-mayor of New York. Kislin is well known in Kiev, and I have many friends who are Sam’s friends [said Tsarev]. I learned of his progress, because some of my friends were detained in the United States, or interrogated in Ukraine. They briefed me about this. It appears that Burisma is just the tip of the scandal, the tip of the iceberg. If Trump will carry on, and use what was already initiated and investigated, the whole headquarters of the Democratic party will come down. They will not be able to hold elections. I have no right to name names, but believe me, leading functionaries of the Democratic party are involved.Poroshenko was aware of that; he gave orders to declare Sam Kislin persona non grata. Once the old man (he is over 80) flew into Kiev airport and he was not allowed to come in; he spent the night in detention and was flown back to the US next day. Poroshenko had been totally allied with Clinton camp.
And President Zelensky? Is he free from Clintonite Democrats’ influence?
If he were, there would not be the scandal of Trump phone call. How the Democrats learned of this call and its alleged content? The official version says there was a CIA man, a whistle-blower, who reported to the Democrats. What the version does not clarify, where this whistle-blower was located during the call. I tell you, he was located in Kiev, and he was present at the conversation, at the Ukrainian President Zelensky’s side. This man was (perhaps) a CIA asset, but he also was a close associate of George Soros, and a Ukrainian high-ranking official.His name is Mr Alexander Daniluk.He is also the man the investigation of Sam Kislin and of the DoJ had led to, the Finance Minister of Ukraine at the time, the man who was responsible for the embezzlement of three billion US taxpayer’s best dollars. The DoJ issued an order for his arrest. Naturally he is devoted to Biden personally, and to the Dems in general. I would not trust his version of the phone call at all.Daniluk was supposed to accompany President Zelensky on his visit to Washington; but he was informed that there is an order for his arrest. He remained in Kiev. And soon afterwards, the hell of the alleged leaked phone call broke out. Zelensky administration investigated and concluded that the leak was done by Mr Alexander Daniluk, who is known for his close relations with George Soros and with Mr Biden. Alexander Daniluk had been fired. (However, he did not admit his guilt and said the leak was done by his sworn enemy, the head of president’s administration office, Mr Andrey Bogdan, who allegedly framed Daniluk.)This is not the only case of US-connected corruption in Ukraine. There is Amos J. Hochstein, a protege of former VP Joe Biden, who has served in the Barack Obama administration as the Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources. He still hangs on the Ukraine. Together with an American citizen Andrew Favorov, the Deputy Director of Naftogas he organised very expensive “reverse gas import” into Ukraine. In this scheme, the Russian gas is bought by Europeans and afterwards sold to Ukraine with a wonderful margin. In reality, gas comes from Russia directly, but payments go via Hochstein. It is much more costly than to buy directly from Russia; Ukrainian people pay, while the margin is collected by Hochstein and Favorov. Now they plan to import liquefied gas from the United States, at even higher price. Again, the price will be paid by the Ukrainians, while profits will go to Hochstein and Favorov.In all these scams, there are people of Clinton and spooks who are fully integrated in the Democratic Party. A former head of CIA, Robert James Woolsey, now sits on the Board of Directors of Velta, producing Ukrainian titanium. Woolsey is a neocon, a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), pro-Israel think-tank, and a man who relentlessly pushed for Iraq war. A typical Democrat spook, now he gets profits from Ukrainian ore deposits.One of the best Ukrainian corruption stories is connected with Audrius Butkevicius, the former Minister of Defence (1996 to 2000) and a Member of the Seimas (Parliament) of post-Soviet Lithuania. Mr AB is supposedly working for MI6, and now is a member of the notorious Institute for Statecraft, a UK deep state propaganda outfit involved in disinformation operations, subversion of the democratic process and promoting Russophobia and the idea of a new cold war. In 1991 he commanded snipers that shoot Lithuanian protesters. The kills were ascribed to the Soviet armed forces, and the last Soviet President Mr Gorbachev ordered speedy withdrawal of his troops from Lithuania. Mr AB became the Minister of Defence of his independent nation. In 1997 the Honourable Minister of Defence “had requested 300,000 USD from a senior executive of a troubled oil company for his assistance in obtaining the discontinuance of criminal proceedings concerning the company’s vast debts”, in the language of the court judgement. He was arrested on receipt of the bribe, had been sentenced to five years of jail, but a man with such qualifications was not left to rot in a prison.In 2005 he commanded the snipers who killed protesters in Kyrgyzstan, in Georgia he repeated the feat in 2003 during the Rose Revolution. In 2014 he did it again in Kiev, where his snipers killed around a hundred men, protesters and police. He was brought to Kiev by Mr Turchinov, who called himself the “acting President” and who countersigned Joe Biden’s billion dollars’ grant.In October 2018 the name of Mr AB came up again. Military warehouses of Chernigov had caught fire; allegedly thousands of shells stored for fighting the separatists had been destroyed by fire. And it was not the first fire of this kind: the previous one, equally huge, torched Ukrainian army warehouses in Vinnitsa in 2017. Altogether, there were 12 huge army arsenal fires for the last few years. Just for 2018, the damage was over $2 billion.When Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios investigated the fires, he discovered that 80% of weapons and shells in the warehouses were missing. They weren’t destroyed by fire, they weren’t there in the first place. Instead of being used to kill the Russian-speaking Ukrainians of Donetsk, the hardware had been shipped from the port of Nikolaev to Syria, to the Islamic rebels and to ISIS. And the man who organised this enormous operation was our Mr AB, the old fighter for democracy on behalf of MI6, acting in cahoots with the Minister of Defence Poltorak and Mr Turchinov, the friend of Mr Biden. (They say Mr Matios was given $10 million for his silence).The loss was of Ukrainian people, and of US taxpayers, while the beneficiaries were the Deep State, which is probably just another name for the deadly mix of spooks, media and politicians.
"Throughout that period, Cohen, who was employed at a large international bank ("Investment Bank A") carried out the scheme by misappropriating from his employer material nonpublic information concerning impending corporate transactions," court documents read.
The US banking system is the largest and was once one of the most dynamic in the world. It enabled a generation of growth fueling the biggest economic boom known in modern history. But as the world changes, the US Banking system is aging and the big banks aren't looking to repair it anytime soon. ..BAC is covered widely in the financial media, and is held by many mutual funds. One could even say that it's over-covered. What we're looking at in this article isn't bashing, it's the word on the street. Anecdotal evidence is powerful, as we have watched the Cryptocurrency market grow from nothing to a multi-billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, it hasn't taken off as expected. But we believe it will.
Two U.S. lawmakers want the Federal Reserve to consider creating a digital dollar. In a letter sent to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) outline concerns they have about risks to the U.S. dollar if another country or private company creates a widely used cryptocurrency, and ask whether the central bank is looking into creating its own version. First reported by Bloomberg Law, the letter details how the Fed has the right to create and manage U.S. currency policy.“The Federal Reserve, as the central bank of the United States, has the ability and the natural role to develop a national digital currency,” the Congressmen wrote, adding: “We are concerned that the primacy of the U.S. Dollar could be in long-term jeopardy from wide adoption of digital fiat currencies. Internationally, the Bank for International Settlements conducted a study that found that over 40 countries around the world have currently developed or are looking into developing a digital currency.”
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