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[Politics] Christine Blasey Ford moves closer to deal with Senate Republicans to testify against Kavanaugh Ford has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Published:9/23/2018 7:27:31 PM
[Opinion] Our Precious I’ve long theorized that one’s moral character is inversely proportional to the number of syllables in one’s Starbucks order. (Yes, this is a tech column. We’ll get to that. Have faith.) To which a friend pointed out that what Starbucks offers is control — your drink, exactly how you want it — and the smaller […] Published:9/23/2018 7:27:31 PM
[Politics] BREAKING!! NEW KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS!! Oh man, I thought this might happen, I said it in a previous post, and here it is – there are more allegations coming out about Kavanaugh. And Michael Avenatti is involved: . . . Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[Uncategorized] Poll: Interest in Midterms Lags For Key Democrat Voting Blocs (Young Voters, Independents, Non-white Voters) This is not a time to be precious and demand party purity Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[The Blog] The bogeyman of the right and left

Coming to get ya. Not really.

The post The bogeyman of the right and left appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[Brett Kavanaugh] The FBI in nominee ambush cases, then and now (Paul Mirengoff) One of the Democrats’ main talking points regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh is that the FBI should investigate before the Senate Judiciary Committee hears from Ford and Kavanaugh. In support of this talking point, Democrats and their friends in the media note that the FBI investigated Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas prior to Hill and Thomas testifying before the Committee. Hill herself says the Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[2018 News] Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years. Here it is if you want to read it. Like clockwork. We suspicion more will come out about goody-two-shoes in the next couple of days, just like Dr. Ford. Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[Markets] Nomi Prins: 10 Years Later, A Debt Crisis Is Building Again

Authored by Nomi Prins via The Daily Reckoning,

Though it seems like only yesterday, it’s been a decade since my former employer, Lehman Brothers, went bankrupt, and in the process, helped instigate a massive global financial crisis.

That collapse catapulted the Federal Reserve on a mission to, in its own narrative, save the economy from further collapse. In fact, its creation of $4.5 trillion to purchase U.S. treasury and mortgage related bonds from the big private banks in exchange for continued liquidity was the biggest subsidy in U.S. history.

In some ways, we seem much better off now. Employment is at record highs in most developed nations outside the Eurozone. Global economic growth has picked up overall and stock markets have recovered.

Indeed, many stock markets around the world have regained or passed their former record highs. Asset prices are booming.

But that only tells half the story.

That’s because the last financial crisis was about debt and debt levels have increased substantially since 2008. The entire “recovery” was built on debt.

From 179% before the financial crisis, the global debt-to-GDP ratio has jumped to 217% today. Companies and governments have piled on more debt than before. Emerging-market debt, led by China, is also at a record. The big banks are even bigger, and remain “too big to fail.”

Eliminating all that debt is the ultimate solution for avoiding another crisis. That’s because if interest rates drift higher, it can lead to problems in debt repayment, followed by defaults, followed by crisis as defaults spread like a contagion. But there’s no magic bullet for doing that.

First, you should know that no two crises are exactly the same. The last one was met with huge debt on the back of the Fed’s quantitative easing policy. Central bank credit, or what I call dark money, tended to go to the wealthy and into financial assets.

“Dark money” comes from central banks. In essence, central banks “print” money or electronically fabricate money by buying bonds or stocks. They use other tools like adjusting interest rate policy and currency agreements with other central banks to pump liquidity into the financial system.

That dark money goes to the biggest private banks and financial institutions first. From there, it spreads out in seemingly infinite directions affecting different financial assets in different ways.

Dark money is the #1 secret life force of today’s rigged financial markets. It drives whole markets up and down. It’s the reason for today’s financial bubbles.

On Wall Street, knowledge of and access to dark money means trillions of dollars per year flowing in and around global stock, bond and derivatives markets.

Now, ten years after the financial crisis, there are major complications building with the deluge of debt created on the back of quantitative easing policy.

When the next shoe drops from our inflated bubble markets, it will be the debt markets that lead the way. Whether the financial bubble begins to pop in emerging markets, over-leveraged corporate sectors or from over-stretched consumers — the reality is that a storm is brewing.

All of this is a recipe for another crisis. Meanwhile, a new article lists ten warning signs of a recession by 2020.

Written by Nouriel Roubini, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business and CEO of Roubini Macro Associates and Brunello Rosa, co-founder and CEO at Rosa & Roubini Associates, shows why 2020 could be the year of the next financial crisis.

They range from the economic to the geopolitical triggers. They posit that the “current global expansion will likely continue into next year, given that the U.S. is running large fiscal deficits, China is pursuing loose fiscal and credit policies, and Europe remains on a recovery path.”

After that, however, they believe that conditions will lead to a financial crisis, and then a global recession. The main four reasons are:

  1. By 2020, “a modest fiscal drag will pull growth from 3% to slightly below 2%.”

  2. Trump’s trade wars “will almost certainly escalate, leading to slower growth and higher inflation” around the world.

  3. Growth outside of the U.S. will likely slow down – especially, if more countries retaliate against U.S. protectionism. In addition, China would have to slow its growth to reduce its level of “excessive leverage” in order to avoid “a hard landing.” Plus, emerging markets can get hurt by a double whammy of trade wars and dollar-strengthening.

  4. In the event of a correction, “the risk of illiquidity and fire sales/undershooting will become more severe.” That could result in high-frequency/algorithmic trading that produces “flash crashes” which could hurt exchange-traded and dedicated credit funds.

The main difference between 2008 and now is that central bank sheets are dramatically higher today. They just don’t have the room to accommodate nearly as much easing this time around.

Now, J.P. Morgan Chase, another of my former employers, sees a problem. The next crisis may become so serious a recent JPM report suggests, “that the next financial crash may be so cataclysmic that the Federal Reserve may have to enter the market to buy up stocks…”

So let’s get this straight. JPM has spent tens of billions of dollars over the past several years buying back its own stock to boost the price. Now they want the Fed to directly bail out the stock  market — and JP Morgan stock by implication. Call it whatever you want, just don’t call it the free market.

What all of this means that the Fed will either stop its current tightening program, re-invoke QE, or get its central bank allies to do the same when necessary. It means that further rounds of quantitative easing (through various dark money ploys), in addition to all the help they’ve received, will continue. The banks can see no other option.

All of those options could prop up the market through volatile periods ahead and drive the current bull market even further.

In the long run, this is not sustainable. No one can say exactly when the next crisis will arrive, but there are lots of signs it may be getting close.

In the meantime, you can take steps to prepare yourself by taking profits and allocating money into cash or gold if signs of a crisis grow stronger. By staying diversified in your portfolio and watching stories like these you can be well prepared for market turmoil when it arrives.

While we aren’t there yet, I’ll be watching for signs of risks and opportunities along the way.

Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[worldNews] Britain's Labour Party to vote on motion including second Brexit referendum: BBC political editor Britain's opposition Labour Party will vote on a motion this week to keep all options on the table including a second Brexit referendum if the party cannot get a national election, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter.
Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[US News] ‘Flimsier than the original’: Is the new Ronan Farrow-Kavanaugh story already FALLING APART?

We’re starting to see some reaction from conservatives on the new piece from Ronan Farrow accusing SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh of exposing his penis to a woman at a college frat party and “caused her to touch it without her consent.” Matt Walsh calls the allegations “flimsier than the original”: Dear Lord. This is insane. […]

The post ‘Flimsier than the original’: Is the new Ronan Farrow-Kavanaugh story already FALLING APART? appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[Markets] Yen climbs as China halts trade talks with U.S.; oil rallies The safe haven yen gained on Monday in holiday-thinned trading as China cancelled upcoming tariff talks with the United States, ratcheting up tensions while oil prices jumped after top producers including Russia ruled out boosting crude output. Most of the action was in currencies as financial markets in Japan, China and South Korea were closed for a holiday. Investors were squarely focussed on the Sino-U.S. trade war as China added $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list, retaliating against duties on $200 billion of Chinese imports that come into effect on Monday. Published:9/23/2018 7:27:30 PM
[worldNews] Among leaders making U.N. debut: a new mother with baby in tow At the United Nations this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has to contend with some daunting challenges - her debut before world leaders and the sleep schedule of her 3-month-old baby.
Published:9/23/2018 6:57:50 PM
[Markets] JPM Is Worried That Trump Is Getting So Cocky, He Is About To Make A "Major Miscalculation"

It has been one of the pronounced paradoxes of this market: the harder Trump pushes and escalates trade wars with various opponents - mostly China - the more the market rewards him by setting new all time highs, leading the president to believe he is "winning" and resulting in even more aggressive future escalations. Perhaps as a result, earlier today Goldman said that following Trump’s threat of further escalation in the trade war with China, the bank now thinks the probability that all imports from China will ultimately be subject to tariffs has risen to 60%.

And, in a note from JPMorgan's strategists over the weekend, the bank expressed a similar - if even more nuanced - concern, warning that it is starting to make "forecast and strategy changes" around issues emerging from the US-China conflict.

One is the growing possibility that the US-China trade war enters Phase III in 2019, resulting in tariffs on all +$500bn of imports from China, similar to Goldman's conclusion. The bank notes that without more policy easing, this scenario implies weaker China growth, which directly impacts the commodity complex’s incipient recovery. And depending on the weight authorities give to monetary versus fiscal measures over the next 6 to 12 months, the renminbi could depreciate sufficiently to pull EM Asia and the non-oil commodity complex lower.

The other, and more interesting, concern is that US economic and equity market resilience - despite tariffs - will embolden the President on all geopolitical fronts – autos, NAFTA and particularly Iran – and thus risk a major miscalculation from sanctions that are tough to calibrate.

This possibility is the driver behind JPM’s revised oil price forecast for the next several quarters, from a previous average price forecasts for Brent of the low $60s (mid-$50s on WTI) in Q4 2018 and Q1 2019 to $85/bbl (WTI $76/bbl) over the next six months, with even a spike to $90/bbl increasingly likely. As a reminder, some analysts still believes sthat it was oil's superspike in the summer of 2008 that ultimately catalyzed the collapse of Lehman. Incidentally, the main driver of this upward price revision is the higher estimate of how much Iranian crude exports might decline due to multi-country respect for US sanctions that should come into effect on Nov 4th. While initially JPM had expected some 500kbpd to drop off the market, it now models a loss of 1.5mn barrels per day as more countries agree to comply with Trump's sanctions, and coming at a time when Saudi tolerance for oil prices above $80/bbl appears to be increasing.

Meanwhile, should Trump escalate trade war with China and impose 25% tariffs on all imports from China, it would take $8 off consensus 2019 EPS projections of $179 and reduce next year’s EPS growth from 10% to 5% year-on-year.

"Even with a forward multiple of 17, an EPS downgrade this large would end the US stock rally unless some other offset materialized."

In a similar analysis two weeks ago, Goldman predicted that a 10% tariff imposed by the US on all global imports would lead to a 25% drop in the S&P, to as low as 2,200, resulting in a bear market, and wiping out $6 trillion in market cap.

Trump's cockiness aside, going back to the latest market rally, JPMorgan also asks if it is the beginning of an unmissable strategic opportunity (lasting six months or more, delivering at least 10% upside) or just a more tactical one (lasting another week or two, delivering about 5% upside)?

In its response, JPM believes that on one hand a "strategically bullish view" is based on risk premia which are so high in assets like EM, the DAX, Autos, Base Metals and Metals & Mining stocks that they can absorb escalation, since by now most observers accept that this conflict will endure at least as long as Trump remains President.

The arithmetic behind this view could run like this: (1) the nominal sums affected by announced and threatened tariffs are trivial relative to the size of the US and Chinese economies, so don’t justify any more than a 0.25-0.5% cut in global growth through first round income effects; and (2) many cyclical assets have fallen so much this year that they discount a least a 1% slowdown in global growth from its current 3.5% pace. Even if catalysts are small, the value proposition seems huge.

Alternatively, a "strategically neutral but tactically positive view" runs like this:

  1. any estimates of first-round effects should be doubled or tripled given the immeasurable second-round effects around confidence, supply-chain disruption and tighter financial conditions, so apparently-cheap assets no longer look so compelling when adjusted for uncertainties;
  2. country-level improvements in key markets have been incremental rather than transformational;
  3. short covering could extend a few percent over the next week around the Sep 26th FOMC if the committee removes the word “accommodative” from its statement describing its monetary stance, thus suggesting that it might be near the end of its hiking cycle.

For what it's worth, JPM's increasingly cautious view - in light of Trump's unpredictability - is that when asked if the rally is "unmissably strategic", or "tactical", the conviction across the bank's various research teams, "is higher around the latter than the former." In other words, ride it out but be ready to bail.

Published:9/23/2018 6:57:50 PM
[Politics] BREAKING!! NEW KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS!! Oh man, I thought this might happen, I said it in a previous post, and here it is – there are more allegations coming out about Kavanaugh. And Michael Avenatti is involved: . . . Published:9/23/2018 6:57:50 PM
[topics:things/smoking] Obesity to overtake smoking as top cause of cancer in women Published:9/23/2018 6:57:50 PM
[worldNews] Australian filmmaker freed from Cambodia prison arrives in Sydney An Australian filmmaker arrived in Sydney on Sunday after a pardon by Cambodia's king released him from a six-year jail sentence for espionage that he received after flying a drone over an opposition rally.
Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[US News] DRUDGE SIREN: New Yorker set to publish new Ronan Farrow story on Kavanaugh and another woman that involves a sex toy

On Drudge Report right now: Oh boy. Drudge saying that another woman is about to come out against Kavanaugh in a new Ronan Farrow/Jane Meyer story. — Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 23, 2018 And now this update. Somehow the story involves a woman who is allegedly in the #NeverTrump camp and a sex toy. […]

The post DRUDGE SIREN: New Yorker set to publish new Ronan Farrow story on Kavanaugh and another woman that involves a sex toy appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[topics:things/pollution] Seabirds found with more than 250 pieces of plastic lodged in their stomachs Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[2018 News] Another woman and a dildo? Another woman and a dildo? How long has this been waiting in the wings in case of a fail with Dr. Ford and who leaked it to Ronan Farrow? Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[Entertainment] Teen Mom's Catelynn Lowell "Can't Wait" to Meet Her Baby as She Shares a Picture of Her Sonogram Catelynn Lowell, Tyler Baltierra, MTV Video Music Awards, VMA, CouplesTeen Mom favorite Catelynn Lowell shared a picture of her sonogram with the world on Sunday. In her Instagram, Catelynn expressed her eagerness to meet baby no. 3. "Already can't...
Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[Entertainment] Man pulls gun, pistol whips friend of 50 years over Bruno Mars song Police said a man turned to his gun instead of Google to end an argument with his buddies over who sang a song. But which Bruno Mars song was it?
Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[Markets] The Living Reality Of Military-Economic Fascism Exposed

Authored by Robert Higgs via The Mises Institute,

"The business of buying weapons that takes place in the Pentagon is a corrupt business - ethically and morally corrupt from top to bottom. The process is dominated by advocacy, with few, if any, checks and balances. Most people in power like this system of doing business and do not want it changed."

– Colonel James G. Burton (1993, 232)

In countries such as the United States, whose economies are commonly, though inaccurately, described as "capitalist" or "free-market," war and preparation for war systematically corrupt both parties to the state-private transactions by which the government obtains the bulk of its military goods and services.

On one side, business interests seek to bend the state's decisions in their favor by corrupting official decision-makers with outright and de facto bribes. The former include cash, gifts in kind, loans, entertainment, transportation, lodging, prostitutes' services, inside information about personal investment opportunities, overly generous speaking fees, and promises of future employment or "consulting" patronage for officials or their family members, whereas the latter include campaign contributions (sometimes legal, sometimes illegal), sponsorship of political fund-raising events, and donations to charities or other causes favored by the relevant government officials.

Reports of this sort of corruption appear from time to time in the press under the rubric of "military scandal" (see, for example, Biddle 1985, Wines 1989, Hinds 1992, "National Briefing" 2003, Pasztor and Karp 2004, Colarusso 2004, Calbreath and Kammer 2005, Wood 2005, Babcock 2006, Ross 2006, and "Defense Contractor Guilty in Bribe Case" 2006). On the other, much more important side, the state corrupts business people by effectively turning them into co-conspirators in and beneficiaries of its most fundamental activity — plundering the general public.

Participants in the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC) are routinely blamed for "mismanagement," not infrequently they are accused of "waste, fraud, and abuse," and from time to time a few of them are indicted for criminal offenses (Higgs 1988, 1990, xx-xxiii, 2004; Fitzgerald 1989; Kovacic 1990a, 1990b).

All of these unsavory actions, however, are typically viewed as aberrations — misfeasances to be rectified or malfeasances to be punished while retaining the basic system of state-private cooperation in the production of military goods and services (for an explicit example of the "aberration" claim, see Fitzgerald 1989, 197–98). I maintain, in contrast, that these offenses and even more serious ones are not simply unfortunate blemishes on a basically sound arrangement, but superficial expressions of a thoroughgoing, intrinsic rottenness in the entire setup.

It is regrettable in any event for people to suffer under the weight of a state and its military apparatus, but the present arrangement — a system of military-economic fascism as instantiated in the United States by the MICC — is worse than full-fledged military-economic socialism. In the latter, the people are oppressed, because they are taxed, conscripted, and regimented, but they are not co-opted and corrupted by joining forces with their rapacious rulers; a clear line separates them from the predators on the "dark side."

With military-economic fascism, however, the line becomes blurred, and a substantial number of people actively hop back and forth across it: advisory committees, such as the Defense Science Board and the Defense Policy Board and university administrators meet regularly with Pentagon officials (see Borger 2003 for a report of an especially remarkable meeting), and the revolving door spins furiously — according to a September 2002 report, "[t]hirty-two major Bush appointees are former executives, consultants, or major shareholders of top weapons contractors" (Ciarrocca 2002, 2; see also Hamburger 2003, Doward 2003, Stubbing 1986, 90, 96, and Kotz 1988, 230), and a much greater number cross the line at lower levels.

Moreover, military-economic fascism, by empowering and enriching wealthy, intelligent, and influential members of the public, removes them from the ranks of potential opponents and resisters of the state and thereby helps to perpetuate the state's existence and its intrinsic class exploitation of people outside the state. Thus, military-economic fascism simultaneously strengthens the state and weakens civil society, even as it creates the illusion of a vibrant private sector patriotically engaged in supplying goods and services to the heroic military establishment (the Boeing Company's slickly produced television ads, among others, splendidly illustrate this propagandistically encouraged illusion).

Garden-variety Military-Economic Corruption of Government Officials

We need not dwell long on the logic of garden-variety military-economic corruption. As pots of honey attract flies, so pots of money attract thieves and con men. No organization has more money at its disposal than the US government, which attracts thieves and con men at least in full proportion to its control of wealth. Unscrupulous private parties who desire to gain a slice of the government's booty converge on the morally dismal swamp known as Washington, DC, and take whatever actions they expect will divert a portion of the loot into their own hands. Anyone who expects honor among thieves will be sorely disappointed by the details of these sordid activities.

Although headlines alone cannot convey the resplendently lurid details, they can suggest the varieties of putrid sloughs that drain into the swamp:

  • Audit Cites Pentagon Contractors [for widespread abuse of overhead charges]

  • Ex-Unisys Official Admits Paying Bribes to Get Pentagon Contracts

  • Top Republican on a House Panel Is Charged With Accepting Bribes

  • Ex-Pentagon Officials Sentenced [for taking monetary bribes and accepting prostitutes' services from contractors]

  • Northrop Papers Indicate Coverup: Documents from '80s Show Accounting Irregularities Were Hidden from Pentagon

  • Revolving Door Leads to Jail: Former Acquisition Official Convicted of Steering Business to Boeing for Personal Gain

  • Contractor "Knew How to Grease the Wheels": ADCS Founder Spent Years Cultivating Political Contacts

  • Graft Lurks within Pentagon's "Black Budget": Top-secret Items Escape Oversight

  • Contractor Pleads Guilty to Corruption: Probe Extends Beyond Bribes to Congressman

  • From Cash to Yachts: Congressman's Bribe Menu; Court Documents Show Randall "Duke" Cunningham Set Bribery Rates

  • Defense Contractor Guilty in Bribe Case

(Sources for these headlines appear, respectively, in the citations given in the third paragraph of this article.) Anyone who cares to accumulate all such news articles may look forward to full employment for the rest of his life.

Yet, notwithstanding the many culprits who are caught in the act, one must realistically assume that a far greater number get away scot-free. As Ernest Fitzgerald, an extraordinarily knowledgeable authority with extensive personal experience, has observed, the entire system of military procurement is pervaded by dishonesty: "Government officials, from the majestic office of the president to the lowest, sleaziest procurement office, lie routinely and with impunity in defense of the system," and "the combination of loose procurement rules and government acquiescence in rip-offs leaves many a crook untouched" (1989, 312, 290).

Among the instructive cases now making their way through the justice system are several related to recently convicted congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham, a war hero and longtime titan of the MICC who currently resides in a federal penitentiary. Chief among the persons under continuing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is Brent Wilkes, a DC high-flyer who is alleged to have been involved tangentially in events leading to the recent sacking of former congressman and Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss. According to a May 7, 2006, report in the New York Daily News, ongoing FBI and CIA investigations of Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, formerly the third-ranking official at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who resigned in May 2006 amid a swirl of allegations,

have focused on the Watergate poker parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, a high-school buddy of Foggo's, that were attended by disgraced former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham and other lawmakers.

Foggo has claimed he went to the parties "just for poker" amid allegations that Wilkes, a top GOP fund-raiser and a member of the $100,000 "Pioneers" of Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, provided prostitutes, limos and hotel suites to Cunningham.

Cunningham is serving an eight-year sentence after pleading to taking $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to cronies.

Wilkes hosted regular parties for 15 years at the Watergate and Westin Grand Hotels for lawmakers and lobbyists. Intelligence sources said Goss has denied attending the parties as CIA director, but that left open whether he may have attended as a Republican congressman from Florida who was head of the House Intelligence Committee. (Sisk 2006)

In your mind, multiply this squalid little scenario by one thousand, and you will begin to gain a vision of what goes on in the MICC's higher reaches. Evidently, the daily routine there is not all wailing and gnashing of teeth over how to defend the country against Osama bin Laden and his horde of murderous maniacs — our country's leaders require frequent periods of rest and recreation. If this sort of fun and games at taxpayer expense is your idea of responsible government, then you ought to answer "yes" when the pollster calls to ask whether you favor an increase in the defense budget. Our government is clearly at work — at work making chumps out of its loyal subjects and laughing at these rubes all the way to the bank.

Legal Corruption of Government Officials

The truly big bucks, of course, need not be compromised in the least by this sweaty species of fraud and workaday corruption (Kovacic 1990a,89–90, 103 n197; 1990b, 118, 130 n94–101). Just as someone who kills one person is a murderer, whereas someone who kills a million persons is a statesman, so the government officials who steer hundreds of billions of dollars, perhaps without violating any law or regulation, to the Star Wars contractors and the producers of other big-ticket weapon systems account for the bulk of the swag laundered through the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. (Lest the latter organization be overlooked, see the enormously revealing account by Bennett 2006.)

I am not saying that this huge component of the MICC is squeaky clean — far from it — but only that the corruption in this area, in dollar terms, falls mainly under the heading of legal theft, or at least in the gray area (Stubbing 1986, 407). As a Lockheed employee once wrote to Fitzgerald, "the government doesn't really need this stuff. It's just the best way to get rich quick. If they really needed all these nuclear bombs and killer satellites, they wouldn't run this place the way they do" (qtd. in Fitzgerald 1989, 313; see also Meyer 2002). I personally recall Fitzgerald's saying to me twenty years ago at Lafayette College, "A defense contract is just a license to steal."

Absence of Proper Accounting Invites Theft

Indeed, Fitzgerald appeared as a witness at Senator Chuck Grassley's September 1998 hearings titled "License to Steal: Administrative Oversight of Financial Control Failures at the Department of Defense." At those hearings, Grassley released two new audit reports prepared by the General Accounting Office and another report prepared by his staff in cooperation with the Air Force Office of Financial Management. According to Grassley's September 21, 1998, press release, "These reports consistently show that sloppy accounting procedures and ineffective or nonexistent internal controls leave DoD's accounts vulnerable to theft and abuse. Failure by the DoD to exercise proper accounting procedures has resulted in fraud and mismanagement of the taxpayers' money."

Although this sort of complaint has become an annual ritual, dutifully reported in the press, the Pentagon has never managed to put its accounts into a form that can even be audited. Like Dick Cheney, who chose not to fight in the Vietnam War, the military brass seems to have had other priorities, even though for more than a decade the Defense Department has invariably stood in violation of the 1994 federal statute that requires every government department to make a financial audit (Higgs 2005, 55–61).

Testifying before a congressional committee on August 3, 2006, Thomas F. Gimble, the department's acting inspector general, emphasized "financial management problems that are long standing, pervasive, and deeply rooted in virtually all operations."

Expanding on this general observation with specific reference to the fiscal year 2005 agency-wide principal financial statements, he stated: "We issued a disclaimer of opinion for the statements because numerous deficiencies continue to exist related to the quality of data, adequacy of reporting systems, and reliability of internal controls."

Of the nine organizational components "required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare and obtain an audit opinion on their FY 2005 financial statements," only one received an unqualified opinion and one a qualified opinion. "All the others, including the agency-wide financial statements, received a disclaimer of opinion, as they have every year in the past…. The weaknesses that affect the auditability of the financial statements also impact other DoD programs and operations and contribute to waste, mismanagement, and inefficient use of DoD resources. These weaknesses affect the safeguarding of assets and proper use of funds and impair the prevention and identification of fraud, waste, and abuse" (US Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General 2006, 1–2, emphasis added).

In Iraq since the US invasion in 2003, billions of dollars have simply disappeared without leaving a trace ("Audit: US Lost Track" 2005, Krane 2006). Surely they did not all evaporate in the hot desert sun. The accounts at Homeland Security are in equally horrible condition (Bennett 2006, 110–11).

No one knows how much money or specific property is missing from the military and homeland-security departments or where the missing assets have gone. If a public corporation kept its accounts this atrociously, the Securities and Exchange Commission would shut it down overnight. Government officials, however, need not worry about obedience to the laws they make to assure their credulous subjects that everything is hunky-dory inside the walls. When they are of a mind, they simply flout those laws with impunity.

PAC Contributions to Politicians and Their Parties Are Bribes

Political action committees (PACs) evolved and eventually obtained legal validation as vehicles for making lawful bribes to candidates for federal offices and to their political parties. Candidates now count on them for a large share of their campaign funds, and everyone over eleven years of age with an IQ above 70 understands that these contributions are made with an understanding that they will elicit a quid pro quo from the recipients who win the elections.

Military-economic interests have not been timid about forming PACs and transferring huge sums of money through them to the candidates. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, "defense" PACs transferred more than $70 million to candidates and parties in the election cycles from 1990 to 2006. Individuals and soft-money contributors (before soft-money contributions were outlawed after the 2002 elections) in the "defense" sector added more than $37 million, bringing the total to nearly $108 million (the figures are available here).

No one knows how much was added by illegal and hence unrecorded contributions made by military interests, but the addition might well have been substantial, if we may judge by the many accounts of individual instances of such contributions that have been brought to light over the years.

Figure 1 shows the amounts transferred during the past nine election cycles.

Figure 1. Contributions by "Defense" Interests in Federal Elections, 1990–2006

Source: Center for Responsive Politics Note: Soft money contributions (defined as those that do not explicitly urge voters to cast their ballots for specific candidates) after the 2002 elections were banned by the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act.

One may deny, of course, that PAC contributions constitute a form of corruption, inasmuch as they are legal within the statutorily specified limits, but such a denial would elevate form over substance. Both the givers and the receivers understand these payments in exactly the same way that they understand illegal forms of bribery, even though they never admit this understanding in public — political decorum must be served, if only to protect the children.

How Government Corrupts Business

A brief review of the history of US military contracting helps to clarify my claim that military-economic transactions tend to corrupt business. The most important historical fact is that before 1940, except during wartime, such dealings amounted to very little. The United States had only a tiny standing army and no standing munitions industry worthy of the name. When wars occurred, the government supplemented the products of its own arsenals and navy yards with goods and services purchased from private contractors, but most such items were off-the-shelf civilian goods, such as boots, clothing, food, and transportation services.

To be sure, plenty of occasions arose for garden-variety corruption in these dealings — bribes, kickbacks, provision of shoddy goods, and so forth (Brandes 1997) – but such malfeasances were usually one-shot or fleeting transgressions, because the demobilizations that followed the conclusion of each war removed the opportunity for such corruption to become institutionalized to a significant degree in law, persistent organizations, or ongoing practice.

Like gaudy fireworks, these sporadic outbursts of corruption flared brightly and then turned to dead cinders. No substantial peacetime contracting existed to fuel enduring corruption of the military's private suppliers, and much of the contracting that did take place occurred within the constraints of rigid solicitations and sealed-bid offers, which made cozy deals between a military buyer and a private seller difficult to arrange. At late as fiscal year 1940, the War Department made 87 percent of its purchases through advertising and invitations to bid (Higgs 2006a, 39).

All this changed abruptly and forever in 1940, and the situation that existed during the so-called defense period of 1940–41, before the United States became a declared belligerent in World War II, and the manner in which it was resolved had an enduring effect in shaping the contours of the MICC and hence in establishing its characteristic corruption of business.

The Roosevelt administration, desperate to build up the nation's capacity for war after the breathtaking German triumphs in the spring of 1940, made an abrupt about-face, abandoning its relentless flagellation of businessmen and investors and instead courting their favor as prime movers in the buildup of the munitions industries. Most businessmen, however, having been anathematized and legislatively pummeled for the past six years, were reluctant to enter into such deals, for a variety of reasons, chief among them being their fear and distrust of the federal government (Higgs 2006a, 36–38).

To placate the leery businessmen by shifting the risks from them onto the taxpayers, the government adopted several important changes in its procurement laws and regulations. These included negotiated cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts, instead of contracts arrived at within the solicitation-and-sealed-bid system; various forms of tax breaks; government loan guarantees; direct government funding of plants, equipment, and materials; and provision of advance and progress payments, sparing the contractors the need to obtain and pay interest on bank loans.

All of these arrangements, with greater or lesser variations in their details from time to time, became permanent features of the MICC (US Senate, Committee on Armed Services 1985, 35, 42, 553–67).

Even more important, as the new system operated on a vast scale during World War II, the dealings between the military purchasers and the private suppliers took on a fundamentally new style. As described by Wilberton Smith, the official historian of the Army's economic mobilization during the war:

The relationship between the government and its contractors was gradually transformed from an "arm's length" relationship between two more or less equal parties in a business transaction into an undefined but intimate relationship — partly business, partly fiduciary, and partly unilateral — in which the financial, contractual, statutory, and other instruments and assumptions of economic activity were reshaped to meet the ultimate requirements of victory in war. Under the new conditions, contracts ceased to be completely binding; fixed prices in contracts often became only tentative and provisional prices; excessive profits received by contractors were recoverable by the government; and potential losses resulting from many causes — including errors, poor judgments, and performance failures on the part of contractors — were averted by modification and amendment of contracts, with or without legal "consideration," whenever required by the exigencies of the war effort. (1959, 312, emphasis added)

Although Smith was describing the system as it came to operate during World War II, almost everything he said fits the postwar MICC as well (Higgs 2006a, 31–33), especially his depiction of the buyer-seller dealings as constituting "an undefined but intimate relationship" and his recognition that "contracts ceased to be completely binding."

Thus, the institutional changes made in 1940–41 and the wartime operation of the military-industrial complex in the context of these new rules put permanently in place the essential features of the modern procurement system, which has repeatedly demonstrated its imperviousness to reform for the past sixty years — it was too good a deal to give up even after the demise of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, and with breathtaking chutzpah, the system's kingpins parlayed the box-cutter attacks of 9/11 into an excuse to pour hundreds of billions of additional dollars into purchases of Cold War weaponry (Sapolsky and Gholz 2001, Isenberg and Eland 2002, Higgs 2004, Makinson 2004).

Under the old, pre-1940 system, a private business rarely had anything to gain by wining and dining military buyers or congressmen. Unless a firm made the lowest-priced sealed-bid offer to supply a carefully specified good, it would not get the contract. The military buyer knew what he needed, and he had a tightly limited budget with which to get it. After 1940, however, the newly established "intimate relationship" opened up a whole new world for wheeling and dealing on both sides of the deal — often it was difficult to say whether the government agent was shaking down the businessman or the businessman was bribing the government agent.

In fact, until the military purchasing agency certified a company as qualified, the firm could not make a valid offer, even in the context of competitive bidding. In the post-1940 era, only a small fraction of all contracts emerged from formally advertised, sealed-bid competition, and most contracts were negotiated without any kind of price competition (Higgs 2006a, 39; Stubbing 1986, 226, 411).

Deals came to turn not on price, but on technical and scientific capabilities, size, experience, and established reputation as a military supplier — vaguer attributes that are easier to fudge for one's friends. From time to time, deals also turned on the perceived need to keep a big firm from going under. For example, Fen Hampson observes that in the early 1970s, "The bidding [for production of the C-4 (Trident I) missile] was not opened to other companies because Lockheed was encountering financial difficulties at the time and desperately needed the business" (1989, 92).

Indeed, scholars have identified an extensive pattern of rotating major contracts that has been dubbed a "follow-on imperative" or a "bailout imperative," a virtual guarantee against bankruptcy, regardless of mismanagement or other corporate ineptitude (Nieburg 1966, 201, 269; Kurth 1973, 142–44; Kaufman 1972, 289; Dumas 1977, 458; Gansler 1980, 49, 172, 227; Stubbing 1986, 185–89, 200–04).

Subcontracts could also be used to prop up failing firms, and in nearly every large-scale project they served as the principal means of spreading the political patronage across many congressional districts (Kotz 1988, 128–29; Mayer 1990, 218–31). In truth, deals — especially the many important changes introduced into them after their initial formulation ("contract nourishment"), permitting contractors to "buy in now, get well later" (Stubbing 1986, 179–84) — came to turn in substantial part on "who you know." In Richard Stubbing's words, "Often it is raw politics, not military considerations, which ultimately determines the winner" (1986, 165).

All the successful major prime contractors — such as Lockheed Martin (see Cummings 2007), General Dynamics (see Franklin 1986), Rockwell (see Kotz 1988), Bechtel (see McCartney 1988), and Halliburton (see Briody 2004), for example — demonstrated beyond any doubt that in the MICC, cultivating friends in high places yields a high rate of return. Indeed, without such friends, a firm may be hard pressed to survive in this sector at all.

The tight budget constraints of the pre-1940 peacetime periods became vastly looser as trillions of dollars poured out of the congressional appropriations process during the endless national emergency of the Cold War and its sequel, the so-called war on terror. As Nick Kotz observed, "Now that the stakes in profits and jobs were far higher than those of any government program in history, dividing the spoils ensured that the game of politics would be played on a grand scale" (1988, 50). (Of course, the game of politics in reality, as distinct from the high-school-civics idealization, is essentially the game of corruption.) In fiscal year 2007, for example, the Department of Defense anticipates outlays of approximately $90 billion for procurement, $162 billion for operations and maintenance, $72 billion for research, development, testing, and evaluation, and $8 billion for military construction — components that sum to $332 billion (US Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense 2006, 15). Nearly all of this loot will end up in the pockets of private contractors; military personnel costs are separate from these accounts.

With plenty of money to go around, all that a would-be contractor needs is an old buddy in the upper reaches of a military bureaucracy or a friend on the House military appropriations subcommittee or in the Senate. (Nowadays, more than ever before, a single member of Congress can create magnificent gifts for his friends by making "earmarks," furtive amendments to an appropriations bill that everyone understands to be nothing but an individual legislator's pound of flesh taken out of the taxpayer's unfortunate corpus.)

If one does not have such a friend in high places, one can acquire him (or her, as the infamous Darleen Druyun illustrates [see Colarusso 2004]) by ponying up the various forms of bribes to which many Pentagon officials and members of Congress have shown themselves to be highly receptive. After all, it's not as if the bureaucrat or the member of Congress is giving away his own money.

To keep this gravy train on the track, contractors and their trade associations, as well as the armed forces themselves, devote great efforts to increasing the amount of money Congress appropriates in total for "defense," and now also for "homeland security." Their campaign contributions and other favors go predominantly to the incumbent barons — congressional leaders and committee chairmen — and to the "hawks" who've never met a defense budget big enough to please them. As Fitzgerald notes, "In Washington you can get away with anything as long as you have the high moguls of Congress as accessories before and after the fact" (1989, 91).

Furthermore, as Kotz observes, "[t]here is a multiplier effect as the different military services, members of Congress, presidential administrations, and defense industries trade support for each other's projects" (1989, 235). In other words, the defense budget is not simply the biggest logroll in Congress (Stubbing 1986, 98), but the biggest logroll in Washington, DC. Fen Hampson remarks: "bureaucratic and political interests approach weapons acquisition and defense budget issues as non-zero-sum games; that is, as games where there are rewards and payoffs to all parties from cooperation or collusion" (1989, 282). Only the taxpayers lose, but their interests don't count: they are not "players" in this game, but victims.

To give the public a seeming interest in the whole wretched racket, the contractors also spend substantial amounts of money cultivating the public's yearning to have the military dish out death and destruction to designated human quarry around the world — commies, gooks, ragheads, Islamo-fascists, narco-terrorists, and so forth — who are said to threaten the precious "American way of life."

For example, Rockwell, a military contractor whose massive secret contributions helped to reelect Richard Nixon in 1972 (Kotz 1988, 103–04, Fitzgerald 1989, 84), once mounted "a secret grass-roots campaign code-named Operation Common Sense" that included "a massive letter-writing campaign … solicitation of support from national organizations … and production of films and advertisements as well as prepared articles, columns, and editorials that willing editors could print in newspapers and magazines" (Kotz 1988, 134–35) — all the news that's fit to print, so to speak.

Much money goes into producing glorification of the armed forces, and reports of those forces' stupidities and brutalities in exotic climes are dismissed as nothing but the fabrications of leftists and appeasers or, if they cannot plausibly be denied, alleged to be nothing more than the isolated misbehavior of a few "bad apples" (Higgs 2006b).

Lest the armed forces themselves prove insufficiently imaginative in conceiving of new and even more expensive projects for the lucky suppliers to carry out, the contractors hire battalions of mad geniuses to design the superweapons of the future and regiments of former generals and admirals to market these magnificent creations to their old friends and subordinates currently holding down desks at the Pentagon.

Thus, as General James P. Mullins, former commander of the Air Force Logistics Command, has written, "the prime contractors are where the babies really come from." He explains: "[T]he contractor has already often determined what it wants to produce before the formal acquisition process begins…. The contractor validates the design through the process of marketing it to one of the services. If successful, the contractor gets a contract. Thus, to a substantial degree, the weapon capabilities devised by contractors create military requirements" (1986, 91; see also Stubbing 1986, 174).

In sum, the military-supply firms exemplify a fundamentally corrupt type of organization. Their income comes to them only after it has first been extorted from the taxpayers at gunpoint — hence their compensation amounts to receiving stolen property. They are hardly unwitting or unwilling recipients, however, because they are not drafted to do what they do. No wallflowers at this dance of death, they eagerly devote strenuous efforts to encouraging government officials to wring ever greater amounts from the taxpayers and to distribute the loot in ways that enrich the contractors, their suppliers, and their employees.

These efforts include both the licit and the illicit measures I have described, spanning the full range from making a legal campaign contribution to providing prostitutes to serve the congressman or the Pentagon bigwig after he has become bored with playing poker in the contractor's suite at a plush DC hotel.

(Note well: such "entertainment" expenses are likely to be accounted "allowable costs" by the defense contractor who bears them, and with only routine audacity he may add to them an "overhead" charge — the entire sum to be reimbursed ultimately by the taxpayers. [In general, "overhead proves to be a huge moneymaker for defense firms" (Stubbing 1986, 205).] Kotz [1988, 137], describes Rockwell's billing for entertainment, public relations, and lobbying in connection with its contract to build the B-1 bomber. Fitzgerald [1989, 197, 198–99] describes similar charges by General Dynamics, as well as boarding expenses for an executive's dog, and by Pratt and Whitney, including $7,085 for hors d'oeuvres at a Palm Beach golf resort and $2,735 for strolling musicians at another bash. Sometimes the contractors billed the government twice for the same outrageous expenses.)

Can Anything Be Done?

The short answer is "probably not." The MICC is deeply entrenched in the US political economy, which itself has been moving steadily closer to complete economic fascism for more than a century (Higgs 1987, 2007). Decades of studies, investigations, blue ribbon commission reports, congressional hearings and staff studies, and news media exposés detailing its workings from A to Z have scarcely dented it (Higgs 2004). For the most part, the official scrutiny is just for show, whereas the unofficial scrutiny is easily dismissed as the work of outsiders who don't know what they are talking about, not to mention that they are "America haters."

Official evaluations, at their frankest, conclude that "[p]ast mistakes — whether in the procurement of a weapon system or in the employment of forces during a crisis — do not receive the critical review that would prevent them from recurring…. The lessons go unlearned, and the mistakes are repeated" (US Senate, Committee on Armed Services 1985, 8). Such evaluations, though seemingly forthright and penetrating, strike me as far-fetched. Of course, people sometimes makes mistakes, but if people with the power to change an arrangement refrain from doing so for decades on end, the most reasonable conclusion is that they prefer things as they are — that is, as a rule, there are no long-lasting "failed policies," properly speaking.

To apply here what I wrote twelve years ago in regard to several other kinds of policies: "Government policies succeed in doing exactly what they are supposed to do: channeling resources bilked from the general public to politically organized and influential interest groups" (Higgs 1995; see also Kotz 1989, 242–45).

Therefore, one must conclude that the MICC serves its intended purposes well, however much its chronic crimes and intrinsic corruption sully its self-proclaimed nobility. What you and I call corruption is, after all, precisely what the military-economic movers and shakers call the good life.

Ultimately, the most significant factor is that the post-World War II US foreign policy of global hegemony and recurrent military intervention places a strong floor beneath the MICC and serves as an all-purpose excuse for its many malfeasances (Eland 2004, Johnson 2004).

As Ludwig von Mises observed, "The root of the evil is not the construction of new, more dreadful weapons. It is the spirit of conquest…. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war" (1966, 832; see also Higgs and Close 2007). Until the scope of the US government's geopolitical ambitions and hence the scale of its military activities are drastically reduced, not much opportunity will exist for making its system of military-economic fascism less rapacious and corrupt.

Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[Entertainment and Lifestyle] WATCH: Lucas the Spider overcomes a handicap in ‘Spinning Webs’

By Hanna Heller -

Amerca’s favorite spider isn’t about to let a little adversity get him down. In “Spinning Webs”, he confronts those who tell him that he can’t spin a web because he’s a Jumping Spider and he does it in true Lucas form. This also appears to be the first video in ...

WATCH: Lucas the Spider overcomes a handicap in ‘Spinning Webs’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[] Gun Thread: To Clean or Not to Clean [Weasel]
Published:9/23/2018 6:27:27 PM
[Markets] He’s one of the only humans at work — and he loves it Zou Rui is one of four babysitters who oversee hundreds of robots that pack roughly 200,000 boxes each day inside a warehouse the size of seven football fields. Analysts say it’s a peek at the future of manual work in China and beyond — a place where a chosen few tend to the machines, while most workers have been rendered obsolete. Published:9/23/2018 5:58:46 PM
[INTC] AMD: A New Hope Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[Politics] Kavanaugh to Provide 1982 Calendars to Show He Was Not at Party Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh will hand over to the Senate Judiciary Committee calendars from his years in high school as proof of his denial of sexual assault allegations, The New York Times reported on... Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[Entertainment] Jennifer Lopez falls during celeb-filled Las Vegas show, and she recovers like a champ Ouch! Jennifer Lopez rebounded quickly when she lost her footing at her Las Vegas show this weekend, as Selena Gomez and Jessica Alba cheered her on.
Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[Markets] The New York Times As Judge And Jury

Authored by Joe Lauria via,

Seeking to maintain its credibility, The New York Times dispenses with the criminal justice system and basic principles of journalism to weigh in again on Russia-gate...

We’ve seen it before: a newspaper and individual reporters get a story horribly wrong but instead of correcting it they double down to protect their reputations and credibility - which is all journalists have to go on - and the public suffers.

Sometimes this maneuver can contribute to a massive loss of life. The most egregious example was the reporting in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Like nearly all Establishment media, The New York Times got the story of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction—the major casus belli for the invasion—dead wrong. But the Times, like the others, continued publishing stories without challenging their sources in authority, mostly unnamed, who were pushing for war.

The result was a disastrous intervention that led to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and continued instability in Iraq, including the formation of the Islamic State.

In a massive Times‘ article published on Thursday, entitled, “A Plot to Subvert an Election: Unravelling the Russia Story So Far,” it seems that reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti have succumbed to the same thinking that doubled down on Iraq.

They claim to have a “mountain of evidence” but what they offer would be invisible on the Great Plains.

With the mid-terms looming and Special Counsel Robert Mueller unable to so far come up with any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election—the central Russia-gate charge—the Times does it for him, regurgitating a Russia-gate Round-Up of every unsubstantiated allegation that has been made—deceptively presented as though it’s all been proven.

Mueller: No collusion so far.

This is a reaffirmation of the faith, a recitation of what the Russia-gate faithful want to believe is true. But mere repetition will not make it so.

The Times’ unsteady conviction is summed up in this paragraph, which the paper itself then contradicts only a few paragraphs later:

“What we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come. Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.”

But this schizoid approach leads to the admission that “no public evidence has emerged showing that [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia.”

The Times also adds: “There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.”

This is an extraordinary statement. If it cannot be “proved or disproved” what is the point of this entire exercise: of the Mueller probe, the House and Senate investigations and even of this very New York Times article?

Attempting to prove this constructed story without proof is the very point of this piece.

A Banner Day

The 10,000-word article opens with a story of a pro-Russian banner that was hung from the Manhattan Bridge on Putin’s birthday, and an anti-Obama banner hung a month later from the Memorial Bridge in Washington just after the 2016 election.

On public property these are constitutionally-protected acts of free speech. But for the Times, “The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history.”

Kremlin: Guilty, says NYT. (Robert Parry, 2016)

Why? Because the Times tells us that the “earliest promoters” of images of the banners were from social media accounts linked to a St. Petersburg-based click-bait farm, a company called the Internet Research Agency. The company is not legally connected to the Kremlin and any political coordination is pure speculation. IRA has been explained convincingly as a commercial and not political operation. Its aim is get and sell “eyeballs.”

For instance the company conducted pro and anti-Trump rallies and social media messages, as well as pro and anti-Clinton. But the Times, in classic omission mode, only reports on “the anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messages shared with millions of voters by Russia.” Sharing with “millions” of people on social media does not mean that millions of people have actually seen those messages. And if they had there is little way to determine whether it affected how they voted, especially as the messages attacked and praised both candidates.

The Times reporters take much at face value, which they then themselves undermine. Most prominently, they willfully mistake an indictment for a conviction, as if they do not know the difference.

This is in the category of Journalism 101. An indictment need not include evidence and under U.S. law an indictment is not evidence. Juries are instructed that an indictment is merely an accusation. That the Times commits this cardinal sin of journalism to purposely confuse allegations with a conviction is not only inexcusable but strikes a fatal blow to the credibility of the entire article.

It actually reports that “Today there is no doubt who hacked the D.N.C. and the Clinton campaign. A detailed indictment of 12 officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency, filed in July by Mr. Mueller, documents their every move, including their break-in techniques, their tricks to hide inside the Democrats’ networks and even their Google searches.”

Who needs courts when suspects can be tried and convicted in the press?

What the Times is not taking into account is that Mueller knows his indictment will never be tested in court because the GRU agents will never be arrested, there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Russia and even if it were miraculously to see the inside of a courtroom Mueller can invoke states secrets privilege to show the “evidence” to a judge with clearance in his chambers who can then emerge to pronounce “Guilty!” without a jury having seen that evidence.

This is what makes Mueller’s indictment more a political than a legal document, giving him wide leeway to put whatever he wants into it. He knew it would never be tested and that once it was released, a supine press would do the rest to cement it in the public consciousness as a conviction, just as this Times piece tries to do.

Errors of Commission and Omission

There are a series of erroneous assertions and omissions in the Times piece, omitted because they would disturb the narrative:

  • Not mentioning that the FBI was never given access to the DNC server but instead gullibly believing the assertion of the anti-Russian private company CrowdStrike, paid for by the DNC, that the name of the first Soviet intelligence chief found in metadata proves Russia was behind the hack. Only someone wanting to be caught would leave such a clue.

  • Incredibly believing that Trump would have launched a covert intelligence operation on live national television by asking Russia to get 30,000 missing emails.

Trump: Sarcastically calls on Russia to get Clinton emails.

  • Ignoring the possible role of the MI6, the CIA and the FBI setting up Trump campaign members George Papadopoulos and Carter Page as “colluders” with Russia.

  • Repeating misleading statements about the infamous Trump Tower meeting, in which Trump’s son did not seek dirt on Clinton but was offered it by a music promoter, not the Russian government. None was apparently produced. It’s never been established that a campaign receiving opposition research from foreigners is illegal (though the Times has decided that it is) and only the Clinton campaign was known to have obtained any.

  • Making no mention at all of the now discredited opposition research dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC from foreign sources and used by the FBI to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page and potentially other campaign members.

  • Dismissing the importance of politicized text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page because the pair were “skewered regularly on Mr. (Sean) Hannity’s show as the ‘Trump-hating F.B.I. lovebirds.’”

  • Putting down to “hyped news stories” the legitimate fear of a new McCarthyism against anyone who questions the “official” story being peddled here by the Times.

  • Seeking to get inside Putin’s head to portray him as a petulant child seeking personal revenge against Hillary Clinton, a tale long peddled by Clinton and accepted without reservation by the Times.

  • Pretending to get into Julian Assange’s head as well, saying he “shared Mr. Putin’s hatred of Mrs. Clinton and had a soft spot for Russia.” And that Assange “also obscured the Russian role by fueling a right-wing conspiracy theory he knew to be false.”

  • Ignoring findings backed by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity that the DNC emails were leaked and not hacked.

  • Erroneously linking the timing of WikiLeaks’ Podesta emails to deflect attention from the “Access Hollywood” tape, asdebunked in Consortium News by Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, who worked with WikiLeaks on those emails.

Distorts Geo-Politics

The piece swallows whole the Establishment’s geo-strategic Russia narrative, as all corporate media do. It buys without hesitation the story that the U.S. seeks to spread democracy around the world, and not pursue its economic and geo-strategic interests as do all imperial powers.

The Times reports that, “The United States had backed democratic, anti-Russian forces in the so-called color revolutions on Russia’s borders, in Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004.” The Times has also spread the erroneous story of a democratic revolution in Ukraine in 2014, omitting crucial evidence of a U.S.-backed coup.

The Times disapprovingly dismisses Trump having said on the campaign trail that “Russia was not an existential threat, but a potential ally in beating back terrorist groups,” when an objective view of the world would come to this veryconclusion.

The story also shoves aside American voters’ real concerns that led to Trump’s election. For the Times, economic grievances and rejection of perpetual war played no role in the election of Trump. Instead it was Russian influence that led Americans to vote for him, an absurd proposition defied by a Gallup poll in July that showed Americans’ greatest concerns being economic. Their concerns about Russia were statistically insignificant at less than one percent.

Ignoring Americans’ real concerns exposes the class interests of Times staffers and editors who are evidently above Americans’ economic and social suffering.  The Times piece blames Russia for social “divisions” and undermining American democracy, classic projection onto Moscow away from the real culprits for these problems: bi-partisan American plutocrats. That also insults average Americans by suggesting they cannot think for themselves and pursue their own interests without Russia telling them what to do.

Establishment reporters insulate themselves from criticism by retreating into the exclusive Establishment club they think they inhabit. It is from there that they vicariously draw their strength from powerful people they cover, which they should instead be scrutinizing. Validated by being close to power, Establishment reporters don’t take seriously anyone outside of the club, such as a website like Consortium News.

But on rare occasions they are forced to take note of what outsiders are saying. Because of the role The New York Timesplayed in the catastrophe of Iraq its editors took the highly unusual move of apologizing to its readers. Will we one day read a similar apology about the paper’s coverage of Russia-gate?

Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[The Blog] Actual gender neutral person wins passport case

Reasonable accommodations required

The post Actual gender neutral person wins passport case appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[Uncategorized] Sen. Kamala Harris accidentally RIPS Barack Obama (and self!) over sexaul assaults on military installations

Linking to a TIME magazine tweet declaring that “more than 500 sexual assaults happen in a single year at some military installations,” Sen, Kamala Harris (D-CA) called it “inexcusable”: This is inexcusable. — Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 23, 2018 We agree. Now tell us more about who was president in 2014, the time period […]

The post Sen. Kamala Harris accidentally RIPS Barack Obama (and self!) over sexaul assaults on military installations appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[Brett Kavanaugh] Kavanaugh has calendars (Scott Johnson) Peter Baker reports in the New York Times that Judge Kavanaugh has calendars covering the months of June through August 1982 that he will hand over to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Though they note getaways, basketball games, football practices, college interviews and parties, the calendars “do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, according to someone working for his confirmation.” Baker does not Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[In The News] Research shows twice as many illegal aliens in U.S. than previously thought

By R. Mitchell -

There are roughly twice as many illegal aliens in the U.S. than previously thought, according to a new study by MIT Sloan School of Management’s Mohammad Fazel-Zarandi, Edward Kaplan and Jonathan Feinstein. The study, published Friday, estimates that there are about 22.1 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.; the most prominent current estimate is 11.3 million. ...

Research shows twice as many illegal aliens in U.S. than previously thought is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:9/23/2018 5:58:45 PM
[World] Asia and Australia Edition: Your Monday News Briefing: Brett Kavanaugh, China, Japan Here’s what you need to know to start your day. Published:9/23/2018 5:29:28 PM
[Entertainment] 30 hours in a coffin? Theme park offers chance to try Six Flags St. Louis is offering a 30-hour Coffin Challenge. The winner gets $300, season passes, a prize package and the coffin.
Published:9/23/2018 5:29:28 PM
[Entertainment] Kristin Cavallari Is Excited for The Hills Reboot and Very Cavallari Season 2 Kristin Cavallari, 2018 iHeartRadio Music FestivalWhile Kristin Cavallari is busy with her own E! reality series, Very Cavallari, she holds a special place in her heart for The Hills and is excited about MTV's upcoming reboot. In...
Published:9/23/2018 5:29:28 PM
[Uncategorized] When justice becomes “social justice” there is no justice . . . or mercy "there’s a constant natural conflict between justice and mercy," a conflict the left resolves by redefining justice Published:9/23/2018 5:29:27 PM
[Media] SURPRISE! Kavanaugh set to present evidence to help clear his name but it’s already being questioned by journos, libs

It looks like SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh will bring some evidence with him to next week’s hearing in the form of calendars from the summer of 1982 to help clear his name: Kavanaugh has calendars from summer 1982 that he plans to give the Senate that don't show a party that matches Blasey Ford's description, […]

The post SURPRISE! Kavanaugh set to present evidence to help clear his name but it’s already being questioned by journos, libs appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 5:29:27 PM
[Markets] Futures, Yuan Slump At Open After China Cancels US Trade Talks

Having rallied 800 points last week on hopes that US-China trade tensions were on a path to de-escalation, Dow futures are opening down just 100 points (and Yuan is lower) after China escalated and canceled two planned trade talk visits.

After President Trump slapped a fresh round of tariffs on Chinese goods, targeting 10 percent duties on $200 billion of goods; the two camps were scheduled to meet in order to dial back tensions.

That was what sparked hope that this was just a trade skirmish (as Jamie Dimon attempted to play down), sending stocks soaring all week.

However, that is all over now.

The Journal  just reported on Friday that, according to sources, China has rescinded the proposals to send two delegations to Washington.

Chinese officials have said such pressure tactics wouldn’t induce them to cooperate.

By declining to participate in the talks, the people said, Beijing is following up on its pledge to avoid negotiating under threat.

“Everything the U.S. does hasn’t given any impression of sincerity and goodwill,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing Friday.

“We hope that the U.S. side will take measures to correct its mistakes.”

And the result at the Sunday night futures open... Dow futures are opening down...


As are the rest of the US equity futures markets...

And Yuan is down modestly also after ramping for four days on trade hopes...

Meanwhile, WTI futures are up over 1% following OPEC's tepid response to President Trump's demands to lower the oil price...

The timing of this trade tension news, after the exuberant equity week, is also noteworthy as it follows Ray Dalio's, founder of Bridgewater, warnings that the current trade tensions mirror those of the 1930s:

"I think that the 1935-40 period is most analogous to the current period and that it is worth reflecting on what happened then when thinking about US-Chinese relations now. 

To be clear, I’m not saying that we are on a path to a shooting war, but I am saying that we have to watch what path we are on, given these cause-effect relationships that history has taught us and that are described in the template. This excerpt describes how the economic and political conditions of the late 1930s evolved into the wars that followed. "

Read more here...

We have discussed this case-effect relation before...



Published:9/23/2018 5:29:27 PM
[Entertainment and Lifestyle] House With a Clock, Simple Favor and Nun take top spots at U.S. box office

By Hanna Heller -

Movie Theaters

This weekend’s box office winners feature a dark comedy, mystery thriller and a supernatural horror flick, according to comScore’s estimates. “Warner Bros.’ horror hit ‘The Nun’ scares up another $45.65 million at the global box office for a worldwide total to date of nearly $300 million,” comScore’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “Notably, Jack Black in Universal’s ...

House With a Clock, Simple Favor and Nun take top spots at U.S. box office is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:9/23/2018 5:29:27 PM
[Markets] The New York Post: Tiger Woods captures first PGA Tour title in five years More than five years since his last win, Tiger Woods tasted victory on the PGA Tour again, winning the Tour Championship on Sunday with a 1-over 71 to finish 11-under, two strokes ahead of Billy Horschel.
Published:9/23/2018 5:29:27 PM
[topics:things/classical-concerts] Concert pianist with Tourette’s Syndrome has accused top orchestras of branding him 'trouble' Published:9/23/2018 4:58:41 PM
[Entertainment] Serena Williams Says She and Meghan Markle Have Been "Relying on Each Other A Lot Lately" Meghan Markle, Serena Williams Serena Williams is thankful for Meghan Markle. Both women are royals in their own right (one figurative and one literal), but at the end of the day, these two women are really just best...
Published:9/23/2018 4:58:41 PM
[Politics] Don’t fire Rosenstein – make him TESTIFY under OATH! says Alan Dershowitz Alan Dershowitz is trying to square the circle on Rosenstein for the president, and he thinks he’s done it. He doesn’t think it would be smart to fire him because that would . . . Published:9/23/2018 4:58:41 PM
[Politics] Don’t fire Rosenstein – make him TESTIFY under OATH! says Alan Dershowitz Alan Dershowitz is trying to square the circle on Rosenstein for the president, and he thinks he’s done it. He doesn’t think it would be smart to fire him because that would . . . Published:9/23/2018 4:58:40 PM
[Markets] Poll Shows GOP Enthusiasm Rising As Midterms Loom; 70% 'Satisfied' With Trump's Economy

With US stocks trading at record highs despite almost universal underperformance in global markets and the US economy benefiting from a late-cycle boom, Republicans are ready to do everything in their power to ensure that President Trump and his Congressional allies retain their unilateral control of the federal government after the midterms.

According to the latest WSJ/NBC News poll, 61% of Republican voters say they're very interested in voting on Nov. 6, when Republicans will be looking to stop the Dems from retaking control of the House. To put that number in context, the poll showed that 65% of Democrats said they're very interested in the vote. Over the first eight months of 2018, Democrats boasted an aggregate 12-point advantage over the Republicans on this metric - an advantage that has shrunk considerably.


To be sure, Republicans are still facing an uphill battle in the House. According to the poll, a sizable majority of voters say they would rather see Democrats wrest back control of Congress.

The Democratic lead on voter preference for control of Congress is the largest in Journal/NBC polling since Mr. Trump took office. It reflects gains for the party among white, working-class women, as well as among suburban voters and other groups that had been more favorable to the GOP in the past.

"Republicans have had a series of weak surveys; this is beyond weak," said Bill McInturff, the GOP pollster who conducted the survey with Democrat Fred Yang. "This is a survey that says the Republican coalition at the moment is unhinged and not connected."

Mr. McInturff emphasized that the poll reflected political conditions "at the moment."

With the Nov. 6 midterm vote less than two months away, 52% of registered voters said they would rather see Democrats walk away with control of Congress, while 40% said they would prefer Republicans to hold on to both chambers.

That lead is up from 8 points in August. To be sure, when the pool of respondents was reduced to only likely voters, the Democrats' advantage also shrunk.

Among those considered most likely to vote, a smaller pool than those identified as registered voters, Democrats held an 8-point advantage on the question of which party should control the next Congress. This is the first time in the midterm campaign that the Journal/NBC News poll has delineated which voters are most likely to cast ballots.

Despite most voters’ sunny view of the economy, 59% in the survey said they wanted a change from the direction Mr. Trump has been leading. That group included nearly one-third of Republicans.

Though it's worth pointing out that Hillary Clinton boasted a similar advantage two months before the 2016 vote (an advantage that turned out to be an illusion).

When the poll turned to issues-based questions like voters' satisfaction with the president's performance and the economy, Democrats' lead faded. Voters are extremely satisfied with the economy, and Trump's approval rating has remained stable at 44%, among the highest readings since he took office. On the economy alone, voters' approval has jumped from 63% to nearly 70%.

The poll also found that Mr. Trump’s job approval rating remained stable from August, at 44%. The share of voters satisfied with the economy jumped to 69%, up from 63% in a Journal/NBC News poll in June, and a plurality said Mr. Trump’s policies had helped economic conditions.

In other words, the "blue wave" that the mainstream media has promised its devotees is hardly a guarantee. Indeed, Democrats could endure another dramatic upset in November that could trigger flashbacks of 2016...


Published:9/23/2018 4:58:40 PM
[Trump Administration] US praises international efforts to stem North Korea’s illegal shipping practices

By R. Mitchell -

The U.S. Treasury said Saturday that international efforts to enforce U.N. sanctions against North Korea are effective, but North Korea continues attempts to circumvent them. The United States welcomed, in the statement, the coordination on international efforts to stop North Korea’s illicit shipping activities, including the prohibited ship-to-ship transfers of any goods ...

US praises international efforts to stem North Korea’s illegal shipping practices is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:9/23/2018 4:58:40 PM
[US News] “Character assassination sometimes works”: How badly have the allegations against Kavanaugh hurt him?

New poll on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

The post “Character assassination sometimes works”: How badly have the allegations against Kavanaugh hurt him? appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Perma-bear Albert Edwards warns stocks have ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’ as recession looms Albert Edwards, global strategist at Société Générale, cautions that the moment of reckoning for stocks is near and investors should stop buying into the fantasy of a robust economy.
Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[The Blog] Congress to regulate shrinking airline seats?

It shouldn't have to be this way

The post Congress to regulate shrinking airline seats? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[Politics] AP: Trump Polled Staff on Air Force One Whether to Fire Rosenstein On the flights both to and from a Missouri rally, Trump polled staff on the plane, called his outside network of advisers and kept a careful eye on what his favorite hosts on his favorite network were recommending. Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[Entertainment] Meghan reveals the 'something blue' she wore at royal wedding came from first-date dress The former Meghan Markle revealed she had a piece of blue fabric from the dress she wore on her first date with Harry sewn into her wedding dress.
Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[Markets] Iran's Supreme Leader Calls Attack On Parade A "US Plot"; Tehran Summons Western Ambassadors

Iran's top cleric and leader Ayatollah Khamenei has pointed the finger at the West for a terror attack on a military parade that took place early Saturday in the Southwest city of Ahvaz, which left 25 people dead and over 60 wounded. 

Khamenei's condemnation of "plots hatched by US stooges in the region" came simultaneous to Iran summoning the diplomatic envoys of Western countries including the Netherlands, Denmark and Great Britain, for harboring Iranian opposition groups in their countries

“It is not acceptable that these groups are not listed as terrorist organizations by the European Union as long as they have not carried out a terrorist attack in Europe,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by IRNA, per Reuters.

Government officials also indicated the gunmen which unleashed a hail of bullets on men women and children were disguised as Iranian soldiers: “The terrorists disguised as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basiji (volunteer) forces opened fire at the authorities and people from behind the stand during the parade," the regional Governor of Khuzestan Gholam-Reza Shariati told state media

Iranian state IRNA news identified that the self-proclaimed "Saudi-affiliated" Al-Ahwaz terrorist group claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Indeed it appears that a group identifying itself as the "Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front" had announced on Twitter some 13 hours before the attack that "Al-Ahvaz will create a challenge for the Iranian occupiers with an attack," according to a translation of the tweet

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in the aftermath that “US masters” and regional terrorist forces should be held accountable for the bloodshed.

Meanwhile Iran's Supreme Leader ranted against Western and US plotting in his Saturday message, according to a translation and paraphrase by PressTV:

The Leader said the "tragic and sorrowful" incident in Ahvaz and the killing of people by mercenary terrorists once again exposed the cruelty of the enemies of the Iranian nation.

These savage mercenaries who open fire on innocent civilians, including women and children, are linked with the same liars who claim to advocate human rights, Ayatollah Khamenei added.

Khamenei then specifically identified US plotting as motivating the attack: "Their crime is the continuation of plots [hatched] by the US-led governments in the region who aim to create insecurity in our dear country."

But on Saturday night the US State Department issued a rare statement of solidarity with Iranians in the wake of the terror attack: “We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time. The United States condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives,” according to the official statement

Many prominent Western and Gulf-based media outlets refused to use the word "terrorism" in relation to the attack, which reportedly included children among the casualties.

Iran has in the past accused the United States, Saudi Arabia, and European countries for giving support to the MEK and using the opposition group as a proxy force for attacks withing Iran. The controversial Iranian opposition in exile Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK) is considered by Iran and many other countries as a terror organization (and not long ago by the US State Deptartment, though delisted as a terror group under Obama ), but is now given close support by US Congresspersons and Trump admin officials alike. 

Essentially a paramilitary cult, the MEK is suspected of conducting assassinations of high level Iranian figures, especially nuclear scientists and engineers for years, likely at the bidding of foreign intelligence services.

Currently, it is unclear exactly how much external support the Al-Ahwaz separatist group, which has claimed responsibility for the terror attack, receives, if any at all  though Tehran is pointing the finger at Saudi Arabia and its allies.  

Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[worldNews] Cuba's new president makes first trip to old Cold War foe United States Cuba's new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, arrived in New York on Sunday for his first trip to the United States, where he will denounce the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on his country at the U.N. General Assembly, state-run media reported.
Published:9/23/2018 4:28:10 PM
[topics:things/cake] Wedding cakes being swapped for giant cheeses as couples join backlash against sugar, Waitrose data shows Published:9/23/2018 3:57:54 PM
[US News] More (D)elays: With the Ford hearing set, here is a new hypothetical timetable for a Kavanaugh vote

When will they vote?

The post More (D)elays: With the Ford hearing set, here is a new hypothetical timetable for a Kavanaugh vote appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 3:57:54 PM
[worldNews] Opposition leader Solih says he has won Maldives election Maldives opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who fought a bitter election campaign against President Abdulla Yameen, said he had won Sunday's presidential vote with a 16 percent margin after 92 percent of the votes had been counted.
Published:9/23/2018 3:57:54 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Oil producers say they can ramp up output as needed to meet any shortages in global oil market Saudi Arabia and Russia signal at a meeting of oil producers that they have the capacity to further ramp up production to match global supply disruptions, while keeping crude price steady, even as they deferred any concrete decisions on output levels to later this year.
Published:9/23/2018 3:57:54 PM
[Markets] Judiciary Committee's Lindsey Graham: "I'm Not Going To Ruin Judge Kavanaugh's Life Over This"

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the 11 men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, made it clear on Sunday that he will hear out Kavanaugh accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, but that he hasn't heard enough evidence to "ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this." 

"What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation?" Graham asked Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, adding: "I don't know when it happened, I don't know where it happened. And everybody named in regard to being there said it didn't happen. I'm just being honest. Unless there's something more, no I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this." 

"But she should come forward, she should have her say. She will be respectfully treated," he added.

Graham repeatedly expressed doubt about the allegation during the interview Sunday based on the amount of time that has passed since the alleged assault and the lack of evidence. 

"This accusation has to be looked at in terms of our legal system, Graham said. 

"Everything I know about Judge Kavanaugh goes against this allegation," he continued. "I want to listen to Dr. Ford. I feel sorry for her. I think she's being used here." -USA Today

Graham also said he think that people are taking advantage of Ford: 

Both Ford and Kavanaugh are scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Published:9/23/2018 3:57:54 PM
[Entertainment] Kanye West and Saint West Throw First Pitches at Cubs-White Sox Game Kanye West, Saint WestIt's good to be the son of Kanye West. The 41-year-old rapper and his and wife Kim Kardashian's 2 and 1/2-year-old boy Saint West, their middle child, both threw a ceremonial...
Published:9/23/2018 3:30:22 PM
[Left Column] When will Iceland pay their climate debt? Iceland volcano ‘set to erupt’ – Releasing ‘staggering amounts of CO2 is being emitted’

In the journal, the team wrote: “Through high-precision airborne measurements and atmospheric dispersion modelling, we show that Katla, a highly hazardous subglacial volcano which last erupted 100 years ago, is one of the largest volcanic sources of CO2 on Earth, releasing up to five percent of total global volcanic emissions.”

Published:9/23/2018 3:30:22 PM
[Uncategorized] Ben of Ben and Jerry’s Asks Twitter For Progressive Ice Cream Names, Hilarity Ensues Who's up for some Maxine's Harass Mint and Utopian Breadline Pudding ice cream? Published:9/23/2018 3:30:22 PM
[topics:people/len-mccluskey] Labour adopted anti-Semitism rules to 'ease' Corbyn attacks, says Len McCluskey Published:9/23/2018 3:30:22 PM
[Politics] Blasey Ford Will Testify Before Kavanaugh Senate Panel Thursday Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[2018 News] Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Ties To China Go Way Deeper Than An Alleged Office Spy Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Ties To China Go Way Deeper Than An Alleged Office Spy. Yet this old bitch has the audacity to question Kavanaugh with her Congressional clown show. Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[worldNews] German government agrees solution to spymaster crisis that threatened coalition Germany's interior minister said on Sunday that Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition had agreed on a way to solve a crisis over the future of Germany's scandal-tainted spymaster that had threatened their alliance.
Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Dell to interview banks for IPO in lieu of tracking-stock acquisition Dell Technologies Inc. is exploring the possibility of launching a traditional IPO instead of going public through a proposed acquisition that has met resistance from several investors.
Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[Sports] “Absolute joke”: The NFL is getting SHREDDED, and this time it has nothing to do with the national anthem

Bad day for the NFL.

The post “Absolute joke”: The NFL is getting SHREDDED, and this time it has nothing to do with the national anthem appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[Markets] Understanding The Volatility Storm To Come, Part 1: Fragility In The Market's Medium

Authored by Christopher Cole via Artemis Capital Management,

What Is Water In Markets? Volatility and the Fragility of the Medium

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how's the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”.

-David Foster Wallace, This is Water (2005)

“This is Water” is the title of a commencement speech delivered by David Foster Wallace that has become a masterpiece of meta-thinking. If you haven’t listened to it, put down this paper and do so now. It is worth 20 minutes of your life.

The Foster Wallace parable of two young fish ignorant of the medium that defines their reality is so important on many levels. Foster Wallace contends that we swim in a world defined by self-centered thoughts, that serve to make reality visible, but should never be mistaken as fundamental truth. 

In capitalism the medium that defines reality is fiat money. To this point, does money exist? This seems silly to ask but it is very important philosophically. Yes, money exists in the sense that you can purchase goods and services with it. At the same time, money is only important because of a collective belief in it, and is worthless without that. This is true of any human construct: markets, words, brands, and nation-states… all abstract mediums that have meaning because we collectively believe they do, and hence they give form to reality, but are not real independent of our thoughts.

In markets and in life, we swim in mediums of thought abstractions… the same way a fish swims in water. When the medium collapses, so does the reality… causing us to question the nature of both. As Foster Wallace eloquently explains, “The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.”  

Volatility is always the failure of medium... the crumpling of a reality we thought we knew to a new truth. It is the moment where we learn that we are a fish living in a false reality called water... and that reality can change... or there are other realities. True volatility isn’t the change of the thing, it’s the changing of the medium around it and the realization that the thing never really existed in the first place. 

This is all you need to know to understand when the volatility storm will truly come. It is not about valuations, money printing, or where the VIX is at any point. When the collective consciousness stops believing growth can be created by money and debt expansion the entire medium will fall apart violently, otherwise it will continue to be real. The belief that the medium is the reality is what holds the edifice together temporally. 

This letter is divided into three key themes: The first part will discuss fragility of the market medium; the second will discuss how the volatility in February was a symptom of a much greater liquidity problem; and the third will discuss how flows are more important than fundamentals when the medium dominates truth. 

Out of the fishbowl and down the drain we go...

Part 1: Fragility in the Medium

Investors swim in a pond of bid and ask prices. Without a bid and ask there is no price discovery… and the market… like a fish out of water… dies. Now here is an interesting question: does the market create value, or can value exist without a medium to facilitate it? A silent revolution is now being fought for the soul of investing between two contradictory schools of meta-thinking, each with their own strategies and central planning philosophies to support them. These two schools are the following:

1) Value is independent of the medium and intrinsic to the asset: The classic school of investing embodies the value investing principals of Graham and Dodd as put into practice by investors like Warren Buffet (younger version), Seth Klarman, and David Einhorn. In this school, the bid and ask prices of an asset do not represent value any more than a picture of a “pipe” is a real pipe. Liquidity is a highly flawed medium to express value. Although prices may fluctuate they are independent from the intrinsic worth of an asset. If you want to smoke a pipe, the picture is not sufficient to provide value. 

2) Value is generated from the medium. In the second school, liquidity is the sole determinant of value as defined by a constant bid and ask price. An asset is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at any given moment. If Facebook, Snapchat, Tesla, Ethereum, and Ripple keep going up, who cares why, as long as someone is willing to pay. When market participants gain confidence in a quantitative investment factor (growth, low volatility, cat ownership of company management), it becomes real, regardless of whether it makes sense. As long as people supply a bid and ask price, the medium is the reality, so to speak. The school is also supported by modern central banking policies.  If a picture of a pipe looks like a pipe, it is a damn pipe, especially if people buy more tobacco. 

The second meta-view of value is now winning the revolution and dominating central banking and institutional asset flows. Passive and factor-based investments are just the most obvious symptom of this new worldview. If value is “created” by the medium of money, you don’t need to pay people to find it, hence active investors should be replaced by passive index funds, systematic trading, and factor-based quantitative investments.  Today fundamental discretionary traders only account for 10% of trading volume in stocks according to J.P. Morgan, while rules-based strategies account for 60%. Since the recession $2 trillion in assets have migrated from active to passive strategies. Starting this year, over 50% of the assets under management in the U.S. will be passively managed according to Bernstein Research. Almost a decade of unprecedented global monetary stimulus resulted in the best risk-adjusted returns for passive investing in over 200 years between 2012 and 2017. Large capital flows into stocks occur for no reason other than the fact that they are highly liquid members of an index, and those capital flows chase the hottest ETFs and collections of stocks (FANGs). 

Value investing has had the longest period of underperformance in history when compared to buying whatever is “hot”. The chart above shows the performance of a pure value strategy versus momentum. Deep value significantly underperformed momentum just prior to recessions in 1999 and 2007. If you are old enough you may remember the December 1999 Barron’s cover article titled “What’s Wrong, Warren?”. The article asserted Buffet’s value strategy was old fashioned and he was “losing his magic touch”. Recently the WSJ has printed several similar articles discussing how active managers are underperforming and losing assets due to stubborn adherence to value principals. 

As it turns out, the institutional investors herding into passive and factor investments may be smoking something out of their own Magritte Pipe. Passive is just a crowded “liquidity momentum” trade and its outperformance compared to active managers may be self-fulfilling and ultimately de-stabilizing in the long run.   When passive investing becomes dominant ‘excess returns’ are actually diminished and volatility should rise.  What they claim as being low cost, actually comes at great expense in the long-run. What they think of as diversification is actually dangerous herding. What they see as alpha is actually an illusion of value created by the reliance on the medium. 

Michael Green at Thiel Macro first introduced me to his theory that passive investing crowds out the excess return (‘alpha’) available to active management. Mike also challenged me to prove it to myself by building my own theoretical model. I took his advice and built a market simulation whereby the main variable is the influence of passive vs. active participants. My simulation generates 25,000 days of equity returns using a supply-demand model randomized according to geometric Brownian motion with a drift factor based on constant percentage passive flows. Active participants become engaged based on varying degrees of intensity depending on whether the market drifts too high (selling pressure) or too low (buying pressure). The active players then impact the market by helping to push prices back into equilibrium. It is important to note that in this simulation the proportion of active to passive investors remains constant. In real life, this will shift over time.

Two key themes emerge when the market is dominated by passive investing as seen above:

1) “Excess Return” or Alpha available to active managers is diminished (blue line in graphic)

2) Volatility is amplified. (black line in graphic)

Green’s theory that the alpha available to active managers is destroyed by the dominance of passive flows was not intuitive to me at first. I was inclined to believe the exact opposite: that the greater the degree of passive actors the more inefficiencies are available for exploitation. That is true to a certain point. When the market is dominated by passive players prices are driven by flows rather than fundamentals (see right tail of blue line). In my simulation, the excess alpha available to active participants peaks when passive investors comprise 42% of the market, then drops dramatically the more the passive share increases. When passive participants control 60%+ of the market the simulation becomes increasingly unstable, subject to wild trends, extreme volatility, and negative alpha. In the real world, because the ratio between active to passive is not constant, the instability threshold will occur at a much lower threshold as investors shift their preference to passive in real-time. 

A good metaphor is to think of passive investors as a drunk man at the bar and active investors as his sober guide. The drunk man is hoping to walk home safely but is highly influenced by the prevailing flow of foot traffic. Fortunately, when the drunkard gets too far off the safe path, his sober guide takes over and corrects him. Now, the dual journey home is a choppy pull and push affair, but everyone gets home safe. Now in a world where passive dominates, the drunk become so strong that his sober guide is not strong enough to influence him. Unencumbered the drunk man can now move much faster in any given direction, right or wrong, but he is also more likely to get lost. The drunk man walks from the bar... starts heading toward his house... takes a wrong turn up a mountain... and right off a cliff... to his death.

The irony of the Bogle-head crowd is that they tout efficient market hypothesis to support passive investing while simultaneously failing to comprehend how the dominance of the strategy causes markets to become highly unstable and inefficient. The most immediate realities are the ones that are the hardest to see… If you want to know when volatility will truly arrive, watch the shift in the medium.

* * *

Part 2: Volatility Reflexivity and Liquidity coming soon...

Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[] Food Thread: Pizza-->Calzone: The Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Men...
Published:9/23/2018 3:30:21 PM
[KIM] 4 Reasons Wall Street Is Dead Wrong About This 6.7% Yielding Stock Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[Politics] Trey Gowdy REVEALS what’s IN the docs Trump ordered declassified… Trey Gowdy talked about what is mostly in the documents that Trump ordered declassified and it’s gonna anger a lot of people. From the Hill: Gowdy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” . . . Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[TC] Happy anniversary, Android It’s been 10 years since Google took the wraps off the G1, the first Android phone. Since that time the OS has grown from buggy, nerdy iPhone alternative to arguably the most popular (or at least populous) computing platform in the world. But it sure as heck didn’t get there without hitting a few bumps […] Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[The Blog] Dem Sen. Mazie Hirono: Kavanaugh’s probably guilty of attempted rape because he’s a judicial conservative

Of course.

The post Dem Sen. Mazie Hirono: Kavanaugh’s probably guilty of attempted rape because he’s a judicial conservative appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[worldNews] Maldives opposition candidate says he has won presidential election Maldives opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who fought a bitter election campaign against President Abdulla Yameen, said that he had won Sunday's presidential vote with a 16 pct margin after 92 pct of votes had been counted.
Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[Markets] Andy Xie: Change Is Coming & With It, A Reckoning

Authored by Andy Xie, op-ed via The South China Morning Post,

Andy Xie says both China and the US have built their economies on financialisation while ignoring the people’s concerns, and the trade war will hasten the reckoning both countries need...

The door for compromise and restoring a functional relationship between the United States and China appears to have closed. The 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods, rising to 25 per cent from January 1, is the final straw. There will be more negotiations to come. At some point, there may be announcements of compromises and a positive outlook. But, for now, the reality is that China and the US have gone into rivalry mode – a rivalry that will define the 21st century.

The dispute began with US President Donald Trump’s complaints about the bilateral trade balance and access to China’s market. It then morphed into a dispute on intellectual property rights violations and China’s economic model of subsidising technology development. Now, it is about global strategic rivalry.

The US’ contention is that China makes money from the US and is using it to push America out of Asia and elsewhere. It is difficult to see how the US could climb down from this position. To follow its rhetoric, it will try to cut off China from its market and block technology exchanges.

This rivalry may bring short-term pain to both nations, and to the world, but it may prove beneficial to all in the long run.

The lack of external checks has led to rising internal imbalances in both countries. Since the end of the cold war, the US has been marred by surging inequality, while bubbles and ignorant hubris have come to occupy the central ground in China’s economic management and political thinking.

Financial speculation and corruption have become normalised around the world. The titanic rivalry between the world’s No 1 and No 2 economies will put all on their toes. Some of the most egregious trends could be reversed.

The short-term pain is quite visible in China. Its stock marketis plummeting. And the property market is on edge and may soon follow. It would be wrong to blame it on the trade war.

China’s stock market bubble didn’t fully deflate in 2015. The government used multiple instruments to prop up the market, and it was trying to revive it with a tech bubble.

Hence, the market has never reached a sensible valuation. Tech concept stocks came down from a 10-mile high to a five-mile high but never touched the ground. What’s happening to the stock market should be viewed as unfinished business from 2015. The trade war was merely a catalyst.

Property is the big one among China’s bubbles. Its bursting would have a major impact on the construction industry and, more importantly, local government finance. The current monetary easing is clearly aimed at shoring up the market. There could be more supporting measures to come.

We can’t rule out a 2008-style stimulus with a very low mortgage rate and small down-payment requirements. While these measures may slow the process, the property market will burst.

East Asian economies have experienced property bubbles due to export promotion through undervaluing exchange rates, which leads to a monetary boom. When exports slow, the bubble bursts.

There are arguments about how export dependent China is. At 20 per cent of GDP, China’s export ratio seems much lower than that of other East Asian countries during their boom. The low figure is actually due to China’s hinterland effect. The Eastern Seaboard of four provinces and one city account for two-thirds of the country’s exports.

They also account for all the financial support for the central government, and the subsidy transfers to the hinterland. The efficient part of China’s economy is as export dependent as the other East Asian economies were.

The US has suffered little from the trade war so far. The damage to farmers from declining soybean prices is the most visible aspect, and the government is coming up with money to cover their losses. The US stock market has been very resilient despite lofty valuations, rising interest rates and the trade war.

The key support seems to come from stock buybacks, thanks to Trump’s tax cut and tax amnesty for repatriating offshore profit. I believe the tax cut is merely delaying the market’s fall. The delayed timing, though, has emboldened the Trump administration to pursue the trade war.

The big cost will come if and when supply chains are moved out of China. The process is inflationary. It is not just inflating the US$500 billion of imports from China. Imports from other countries will also rise, due to less competition from China. Inflation raises living costs for most Americans who live from pay cheque to pay cheque.

It will also force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more than expected. The US has been experiencing one bubble after another for the past two decades. The low interest rate, justified by imported deflation, is the main culprit. The US’ bubbles seem resilient for now. They will soon follow China’s and burst.

Bubbles bursting is a necessary condition to bring sense to all players. Policymakers have been paying too much attention to asset prices. One major factor is that they hang out with speculators at places like Davos. This is why, despite incredible economic growth since 1989, most people are discontent.

The world needs a new generation of policymakers who don’t hobnob with billionaire speculators and who understand workers’ concerns.

Unfortunately, the change will not come smoothly. Political turmoil in the West is very much about this. A heavy price has to be paid to bring about the change.

The Sino-US rivalry is the main driving force to bring about the needed global change. The Beijing-Wall Street axis has been driving the global economy towards speculation and inequality.

In 2008, Beijing and Washington pumped in massive amounts of money to bail out speculators in the name of saving the economy and helping workers. The reality is that they used workers’ money to enrich parasites.

We are living in a world in which wealth is theft, as Karl Marx once said. The sooner this world ends, the better. People may despair in the coming years over the ensuing chaos, but a better world will emerge.

As in everything else, competition enhances efficiency. At the end, both China and the US will become better countries.

Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[topics:places/australia] Four sharks killed after attack on swimmers near Great Barrier Reef Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[Markets] Key Words: Graham expresses doubt over Kavanaugh accuser’s story, says it won’t sway his vote South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will listen to the testimony of Christine Blassey Ford, but it will likely not change his vote on the nomination.
Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[Entertainment] “OVER & SO ARE YOU!” And now a message for “OLD REPUBLICAN MISOGYNISTS” from none other than Cher

Ah, Cher.

The post “OVER & SO ARE YOU!” And now a message for “OLD REPUBLICAN MISOGYNISTS” from none other than Cher appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[e1b02a1b-befd-4a0b-96f6-53365aa2f58d] NFL player-turned-pastor Miles McPherson on his journey to finding God: We must 'honor what we have in common' In the early hours of the morning nearly four decades ago, Miles McPherson's life changed forever. Published:9/23/2018 2:58:42 PM
[Entertainment] North West makes 'Thriller'-inspired runway debut with mom Kim Kardashian in attendance North West, 5, made her runway debut at the L.O.L. Surprise Fashion Show on Saturday and mom Kim Kardashian couldn't have been prouder.
Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[World] Ignoring the reality of human nature is a mistake

George Barna, in his book "What Americans Believe," points out that 87 percent of non-Christians and 77 percent of self-described born-again Christians agreed with the statement "People are basically good." Our culture by and large has discarded the idea of original sin.

The educated among us roll our eyes and ... Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM

[worldNews] Panama revokes registration of last migrant rescue ship in central Mediterranean The Panama Maritime Authority has revoked the registration of search and rescue ship Aquarius 2 in a move that means there will be no charity rescue ships off the Libyan coast in the near future unless the vessel can find a new flag to sail under.
Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[Markets] New Footage Shows China Testing "Rare" Hypersonic Glide Weapon

First discovered by The Drive on Friday, new footage has surfaced on social media showing the Chinese military testing three hypersonic glide vehicles from a high altitude balloon. The footage is a reminder that a hypersonic arms race is indeed underway, with the US, China, and Russia.

The Drive cannot authenticate if the wedge-shaped payloads harnessed underneath the high-altitude balloons are, in fact, hypersonic weapons, but @Defengchao who posted the footage on Twitter is confident that they are.

"A test using a high-altitude balloon to launch the flight vehicle has been successfully performed, allegedly, this was exactly the test which closed a large area of airspace in the Northwest of China," tweeted @Defengchao.

@Defengchao then posted a video showing the launch of the high-altitude balloon carrying the hypersonic weapons from a military facility in northwestern China.

This balloon could have been launched into what is termed "near space," defined as the area of Earth's atmosphere between the Armstrong limit (11–12 mi) above sea level, where the hypersonic weapons were then released and glided back to Earth reaching speeds plus Mach 5 (+3,836 mph).

Early Saturday morning, @Defengchao released more footage of the hypersonic weapons. Cao said the three scale models (D18-3S, D18-1S & D18-2S) released in the test, were manufactured by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Cao specifically said one of the weapons had a cantilever wing design, a rare hypersonic configuration that hints China's hypersonic program is rapidly accelerating.

In another tweet on Saturday morning, the mysterious Twitter user, most likely directly or indirectly connected to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said to expect more tests in the future.

Last month, we reported that China allegedly tested a new hypersonic missile that would be capable of penetrating any missile defense system in the world.

The Starry Sky-2, which is an experimental design known as "waverider," rides the shock waves generated during flight. The missile could one day carry conventional and or nuclear warheads undetected through US missile defense shields.

According to the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), an aerodynamic research institution in Beijing and part of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), conducted the hypersonic missile test in northwestern China.

The CAAA released a statement, indicating the Starry Sky-2 was carried into space by a solid-propellant rocket before separating.

After separation, it descended to lower altitudes as it autonomously conducted extreme turning manoeuvers, reaching Mach 5.5 for more than 400 seconds, and reached a top speed of Mach 6, or 7,344km/h (4,563mph), the CAAA WeChat statement said.

The test was deemed a "complete success," stated CAAA, which posted a series of behind the scenes images of the experiment on social media. “The Starry Sky-2 flight test project was strongly innovative and technically difficult, confronting a number of cutting-edge international technical challenges.”

However, the CAAA did not mention what the intended purpose of the missile would be used for, other than commenting on how hypersonic technologies could further China’s aerospace industry.

Although, the missile is still in the development stage and probably a few years out from series production, waveriders could be used to carry conventional and or nuclear warheads capable of penetrating the world’s most advanced anti-missile defense systems.

Earlier this year, Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US is extremely vulnerable to future attack via hypersonic missiles.

"The first, most important message I want to deliver today is that the forces under my command are fully ready to deter our adversaries and respond decisively, should deterrence ever fail. We are ready for all threats. No one should doubt this," Gen. Hyten said in his opening statement.

However, in a follow-on conversation with Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, Hyten cautioned:

"we [US] don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon [hypersonic missiles] against us."

Hyten suggested the US is powerless against hypersonic weapon threats and has to rely on nuclear deterrence. He added, "so our response would be our deterrent force which would be the triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat."

In mid-April, Lockheed Martin announced that it had won a $928 million contract to develop a hypersonic missile for the Air Force to counter Chinese and Russian missile defense systems.

During the recent discussion at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C., Gen. Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said China has yet to "mass deploy hypersonics or long-range [tactical] ballistic missiles," however, "they are able now to deploy those capabilities at a large scale" if they decide to move in that direction, he added.

Gen. Selva then dropped a bombshell indicating the Pentagon is behind in the demonstration of hypersonic technologies, but he did mention that the Pentagon still holds an advantage when it comes to sensor and sensor-integration technologies.

"If we just sit back and don’t react we will lose our technological superiority" over China, Selva said.

While the Chinese continue to further their hypersonic program, it seems as the US is falling further behind the curve.

Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[2baafafb-4eb2-4a84-a53d-a6b07cb391db] Hillary Clinton appears on 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert' to ask FBI to investigate Kavanaugh As the nation continues to focus on the contentious process to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court amid accusations of sexual assault, Hillary Clinton appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and called on the FBI to investigate the situation. Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[Politics] Trey Gowdy REVEALS what’s IN the docs Trump ordered declassified… Trey Gowdy talked about what is mostly in the documents that Trump ordered declassified and it’s gonna anger a lot of people. From the Hill: Gowdy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” . . . Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[structure:news] Schoolgirl with allergy suffers fatal reaction to Pret baguette Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[Entertainment] “Shut your mouth”: Stacey Dash shows Kirsten Gillibrand NO MERCY over Weinstein/Clinton connections

"You campaign with Bill Clinton."

The post “Shut your mouth”: Stacey Dash shows Kirsten Gillibrand NO MERCY over Weinstein/Clinton connections appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[TC] The New York Times sues the FCC to investigate Russian interference in Net Neutrality decision The ongoing saga over the FCC’s handling of public comments to its net neutrality proposal continues after The New York Times sued the organization for withholding of information that it believes could prove there was Russian interference. The Times has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests for data on the comments since July 2017, […] Published:9/23/2018 2:26:29 PM
[US News] OH, the IRONY: You’ll never guess what the ABC panel accused Chris Christie of doing to Dianne Feinstein

Now, where have we heard this before?

The post OH, the IRONY: You’ll never guess what the ABC panel accused Chris Christie of doing to Dianne Feinstein appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 1:58:26 PM
[Politics] NBC/WSJ Poll: Trump, GOP Polling Poorly Among Latinos President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are polling very poorly among Latinos, with nearly two-thirds of registered voters preferring to see a Democratic majority in Congress and just one-fifth preferring a Republican one, according to the... Published:9/23/2018 1:58:26 PM
[Entertainment] North West Makes Her Runway Debut and Kim Kardashian Is So Proud North West, Kim Kardashian, Runway Debut, L.O.L. Surprise! Fashion ShowLooks like Kim Kardashian's daughter North West may be following in the footsteps of her aunt, model Kendall Jenner! The 5-year-old child made her runway debut on Saturday, walking in...
Published:9/23/2018 1:58:26 PM
[d57a5a0b-ba99-4b9b-8f67-311365b5fa89] Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 11/9' falls flat at the box office with dismal $3 million opening Audiences showed considerably less interest in Michael Moore's Donald Trump-themed documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," than his George W. Bush-era one. Published:9/23/2018 1:58:26 PM
[Markets] WaPo Concealed Kavanaugh Party Claim From Public After Coordinating With Accuser: Strassel

The Washington Post has been busted by WSJ columnist Kimberly Strassel for intentionally withholding information from their reporting of Christine Blasey Ford's claim that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the early 1980s, which "further undercuts the Ford accusation." 

Strassel obtained a copy of the email WaPo sent to Mark Judge, one of the teenagers Ford claims was at the party - revealing that the Post knew the names of those at the alleged party, as well as the fact that one of them was a woman - Ford's "longtime" friend Leland Keyser (then Ingham).

Publicly, the Post reported that there were four boys at the party the same day they revealed to Judge that they knew there was a girl. 

What's more, WaPo now writes: "Before her name became public, Ford told The Post she did not think Keyser would remember the party because nothing remarkable had happened there, as far as Keyser was aware." 

And instead of reporting this, the Post allowed Ford's claim tha there were four boys at the party stand until word of Keyser's alleged attendance became public knowledge late last week. 

Scroll down to read: 

Published:9/23/2018 1:58:26 PM
[World] Brett Kavanaugh Protesters Refuse To Denounce Rep. Keith Ellison Over Abuse Claims

The Daily Caller's Stephanie Hamill spoke to people who were protesting Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanuagh over a sexual assault allegation to see if they're also outraged over the accusations against Rep. Keith Ellison.

Published:9/23/2018 1:28:21 PM
[structure:news/uk-news] Joanna Lumley claims her famous Avengers photo was an example of sexist 'upskirting' Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[Uncategorized] Will the Kavanaugh Hearing Drama Impact California Senate Race? Half of California's Republican voters were undecided before Feinstein upended the Kavanaugh nomination process Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[The Blog] How did Christine Ford not remember her “lifelong friend” in her letter?

Curiouser and curiouser

The post How did Christine Ford not remember her “lifelong friend” in her letter? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[Brett Kavanaugh] NY Times Wants to Know About Your High School Sex Life (John Hinderaker) Christine Ford’s allegation against Brett Kavanaugh has put high school sex into the public conversation. That’s what the New York Times thinks, anyway: “Men, Tell Us About Your High School Experience.” This is actually an online form that you can fill out. The first question is, “Did you ever, as a teenager or younger man, behave toward women in ways you may now regret? If so, how? And how has Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[Entertainment] Beau Willimon shows us the path to Mars in ‘The First’ Beau Willimon, the screenwriter and playwright who created Netflix’s “House of Cards”, has turned his attention from Washington, D.C. to outer space in his latest series “The First”. The shows have more in common than I expected. Sure, “The First” is about a future expedition to Mars, not present day political machinations. And instead of […] Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[Markets] Is The Oil Burden A Rising Problem?

Authored by Daniel Lacalle via,

While markets become increasingly bullish, oil prices are close to a “warning zone” where the barrel could be one -if not the only- catalyst of a major slowdown.

In my book “Escape from the Central Bank Trap”, I explain the concept of the “Oil Burden”. It is the percentage of global GDP spent on buying oil. It is often said that when the oil burden reaches 5-6% of GDP it can be a cause of a global slowdown.

The mistake that many make is to think that the oil burden is a cause and not a symptom.

In the past, we have seen that a period of abrupt increases in oil prices was followed by a recession or a crisis. However, not because oil prices rose rapidly, but because the dramatic increase in commodities’ prices was caused by a bubble of credit and excess monetary stimuli.

In reality, the oil burden is perfectly manageable at 5% of GDP because the energy intensity of GDP growth is diminishing. We are less dependent on energy to create growth in the economy.

Global energy intensity (total energy consumption per unit of GDP) declined by 1.2% in 2017, slightly below its historical yet unstoppable trend (-1.5%/year on average between 2000 and 2017 and -1.8% in 2016). In fact, global energy intensity is down 54% since 1990.

So the problem is not the oil burden by itself but the cause of the price spike.

When oil prices rise abruptly we should be concerned, because they can cause a domino effect on the real economy. When the reason for the price increase is not fundamental, we have a major problem.

Why are oil prices rising abnormally in recent months?

  • Supply manipulation.  Despite inventories falling, OPEC has maintained a tight grip on supply, unjustified from the premise of an oil glut that is inexistent or from the premise of “low” prices, which are comfortably above $70 a barrel. By being greedy and keeping supply tight, OPEC is hurting its customers -mainly Europe- and creating the foundations of a forthcoming bust cycle.

  • Iran sanctions. The reality is that Iran sanctions have a very small impact on the supply market, 600,000 barrels a day reduction in exports. These could be easily offset by higher OPEC and non-OPEC output, but if supply limits remain, the impact on marginal prices is exaggerated. OPEC produced 32.79 million barrels per day in August, up 220,000 bpd (barrels per day)from July’s revised level and the highest this year. However, the lid remains on the maximum output despite Libya coming back to normalized levels.

  • Venezuela production collapse. The Maduro regime’s disastrous management of the state-owned PdVSA has led the country to cut production to 1.4 mbpd (million barrels per day) and likely end 2018 at 1mbpd. The combined impact of Venezuela and Iran could have easily been offset by higher Saudi and OPEC production, helped by higher non-OPEC output.

  • Inventories continue to fall. Crude inventories fell for the fifth consecutive week. Stocks are at 394.1 million barrels at the end of the week (22nd Sept 2018) in the US, the lowest level since early 2015. OPEC cannot hang on to the message of an oil glut. It is not evident anywhere anymore.

  • US oil production continues to rise and provide positive surprises. U.S. crude oil production is expected to rise 1.31 mbpd to 10.68 mbpd in 2018,  according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Production will average 11.7 mbpd in 2019.

  • What about demand? High prices are already affecting oil demand in India and Europe. India total demand fell month-on-month in July. Demand was 358 kb/d lower, and demand growth has stalled. In Europe, a slowdown in industrial production and consumer spending is evident, while the emerging market crisis and China slowdown are also clear risks to the optimistic expectations of demand growth posted by OPEC and the EIA.

The risk, therefore, is that too much greed may break the camel’s neck. Imposing artificially higher prices on the world through supply management always backfires. Many oil analysts wonder why oil is not at $100 a barrel with all the above-mentioned issues.

The supply management’s desired “boom” is smaller than expected due to lower energy intensity and high global debt, and the risk of an abrupt bust is exacerbated because price increases are not based on fundamentals.

The global oil burden will rise to 3.1% of global GDP in 2018 from 2.4% in 2017 and -if Brent goes to $80 for an entire year- could soar to 4% of global GDP. This is deemed as manageable by most analysts. However, “manageable” is a scary concept that was used numerous times in the past before a bust.

The risk for the economy may not be the oil burden in itself, but a rising oil burden that is entirely driven by supply manipulation, disconnected from supply and demand reality and affordability.

If you believe rising oil prices prove the success of OPEC’s boom cycle creation, be careful about the bust. It will be self-inflicted.

Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[worldNews] Nigerian maritime agency identifies nationalities of 12 abducted ship crew Twelve crew members of a Swiss merchant vessel kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria are from the Philippines, Slovenia, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia and Bosnia, the West African nation's maritime agency said on Sunday.
Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[] All Aboard The Good Ship KristolPop
Published:9/23/2018 1:28:19 PM
[ff88d777-c368-4eb5-baa4-50c55bb48e10] Bill Cosby to be sentenced for sexual assault, could face 30 years in prison Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault in April after a jury heard allegations from Andrea Constand. Now, the 81-year-old comedian is about to be sentenced for his crimes, which could see him on probation, house arrest or thrown in prison. Published:9/23/2018 1:00:53 PM
[Quick Takes] Enrollment at University of Montana is Lowest in Twenty-Five Years "has seen a 28.5 percent drop in enrollment over the past seven years" Published:9/23/2018 1:00:53 PM
[worldNews] Tanzania ferry death toll rises to 224, ship's managers detained Tanzanian authorities said on Sunday the number of people who died in a ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria had risen to 224 and the vessel's managers had been detained for questioning.
Published:9/23/2018 1:00:53 PM
[Politics] Graham: 'Unless There's More' From Blasey Ford, I'm a 'Yes' for Kavanaugh Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday he intends to vote for confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh even after his accuser testifies "unless there's something more" than has been already revealed.In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," the South Carolina Republican, who... Published:9/23/2018 1:00:53 PM
[Entertainment] Halston Sage and Charlie Puth Show PDA in a Pool Amid Dating Rumors Charlie Puth, Halston SageThings may be heating up between Halston Sage and Charlie Puth. Earlier this month, the 25-year-old star of The Orville and the 26-year-old pop star sparked romance rumors when he posted...
Published:9/23/2018 1:00:53 PM
[US News] Day and time set for Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee

The delay of the vote continues.

The post Day and time set for Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 1:00:53 PM
[structure:news] Russia blames 'misleading' Israeli intelligence for downed plane in Syria  Published:9/23/2018 1:00:52 PM
[Entertainment] 'Dazed and Confused' turns 25: Where are the stars now? It's the 25th anniversary of 'Dazed and Confused'! Where are they now? Catch up on the stars we met when Richard Linklater's retro gem hit theaters.
Published:9/23/2018 1:00:52 PM
[Markets] Dershowitz Damns Ford's "Outrageous" Demands: "Every Civil Libertarian Should Be Outraged...It's Insane"

We suspect after this weekend that liberal, Democrat, Harvard Law School professor, and civil-libertarian Alan Dershowitz will be persona non grata among the establishment cognoscenti.

Dershowitz did nothing to ingratiate himself with the 'deep state' when he proclaimed that there is no doubt that President Trump has the legal authority to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and then suggesting that he be grilled under oath:

“No president has to tolerate in his midst somebody who may have tried to pull off a palace coup, but we ought to have hearings on this. Put him under oath, put the other people who were in the room under oath.”

But it is his comments about the seemingly untouchable Christine Blasey Ford, who went public with her allegations of sexual abuse against Judge Brett Kavanaugh last week, that likely triggered more than a few #MeToo'ers to find their safe spaces.

TheGatewayPundit's Jim Holt reminds us of the current situation surrounding Ford's allegations:

  • There are no witnesses who have confirmed Ford's accusations.

  • Patrick Smyth, a former high school classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, has denied attending the alleged party where Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her in the 1980s.

  • Alleged witness Mark Judge defended Brett Kavanaugh again Tuesday in a letter through his lawyer to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.

  • And now, Leland Ingham Keyser, a life-long friend of Christine’s has denied the accusations.

  • Judge Kavanaugh vehemently denies the allegations.

  • Ford's lawyer confirmed committed to open hearing at 10am Thursday, but notes key procedural, logistical issues remain unresolved.... "Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her."

And it appears to be the latter that triggered Dershowitz, who raged about Ford and her far-left activist lawyer's ridiculous demands in an interview on Fox Business Network.

"Every civil libertarian in the country, liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, led by the Civil Libertarian Union should be outraged by this demand. It is so un-American.

You’re the accuser. You get on the witness stand. You testify. You make your accusation. You get cross-examined. THEN the accused responds.

It turns the entire legal system on its head. It is INSANE to ask an accused person to deny the accusation before he has heard the accusation being made and cross-examined.

Sure, the FBI should continue its background check.

It should also call everyone else who may have been at this party.

All of that is true.

But the idea that he goes first? I want to hear from the American Civil Liberties Union. Where are they? This is the most fundamental denial of due process."


Published:9/23/2018 1:00:52 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Kavanaugh accuser will testify Thursday before Senate Judiciary Committee The woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault will appear Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her lawyers said, setting up a high-stakes face-off.
Published:9/23/2018 1:00:52 PM
[SPY] The Bond Selloff That Nobody Noticed Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[topics:events/budget] Leaked recording exposes Italian government's bitter budget row Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[Entertainment] Jennifer Lopez Parties With Selena Gomez and Other Top Female Stars Backstage at Her Show Jennifer Lopez, Las Vegas, BackstageGuess our invite to Jennifer Lopez's awesome girl power party got lost in the mail... Selena Gomez, Sofia Vergara, Jessica Alba, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Becky G, Ireland Baldwin and...
Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[Politics] Trump Calls Rosenstein 'Coup' Controversy 'Sad Situation' President Donald Trump on Sunday called it a "sad situation" that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly talked about secretly recording, and even removing him from office. Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[Politics] ‘We’re THROWING OUT over a 1,000 YEARS of law saying we presume the innocent of the accused’ Jonah Goldberg nails the problem with the Kavanaugh accuser in this short clip from Meet the Press this morning, and democrats follow it up with the stupidest of objections. He says that . . . Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[Politics] ‘We’re THROWING OUT over a 1,000 YEARS of law saying we presume the innocent of the accused’ Jonah Goldberg nails the problem with the Kavanaugh accuser in this short clip from Meet the Press this morning, and democrats follow it up with the stupidest of objections. He says that . . . Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[Markets] Presumed Guilty: WSJ Opines On "The New Liberal Standard" 

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has penned a scathing Op-Ed, claiming that "the Democratic standard for sexual assault allegations is that they should be accepted as true merely for having been made." 

The Journal says that while the last-minute accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is an "ugly spectacle" by itself - liberals have abandoned the entire notion of due process and the burden of proof in order to fit a political agenda. 

Via the Wall Street Journal: 

The Presumption of Guilt

The new liberal standard turns American due process upside down.

“As Judge Kavanaugh stands to gain the lifetime privilege of serving on the country’s highest court, he has the burden of persuasion. And that is only fair.”

—Anita Hill, Sept. 18, 2018

“Not only do women like Dr. Ford, who bravely comes forward, need to be heard, but they need to be believed.”

—Sen. Maize Hirono (D., Hawaii)

The last-minute accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is an ugly spectacle by any measure. But if there is a silver lining, it is that the episode is providing an education for Americans on the new liberal standard of legal and political due process.

As Ms. Hill and Sen. Hirono aver, the Democratic standard for sexual-assault allegations is that they should be accepted as true merely for having been made. The accuser is assumed to be telling the truth because the accuser is a woman. The burden is on Mr. Kavanaugh to prove his innocence. If he cannot do so, then he is unfit to serve on the Court.


This turns American justice and due process upside down. The core tenet of Anglo-American law is that the burden of proof always rests with the person making the accusation. An accuser can’t doom someone’s freedom or career merely by making a charge.

The accuser has to prove the allegation in a court of law or in some other venue where the accused can challenge the facts. Otherwise we have a Jacobin system of justice in which “J’accuse” becomes the standard and anyone can be ruined on a whim or a vendetta.

Another core tenet of due process is that an accusation isn’t any more or less credible because of the gender, race, religion or ethnicity of who makes it. A woman can lie, as the Duke lacrosse players will tell you. Ms. Hirono’s standard of credibility by gender would have appalled the civil-rights campaigners of a half century ago who marched in part against Southern courts that treated the testimony of black Americans as inherently less credible than that of whites. Yet now the liberal heirs of those marchers want to impose a double standard of credibility by gender.

A third tenet of due process is the right to cross-examine an accuser. The point is to test an accuser’s facts and credibility, which is why we have an adversarial system. The denial of cross-examination is a major reason that campus panels adjudicating sexual-assault claims have become kangaroo courts.

It’s worth quoting from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling this month in Doe v. Baum on a sexual-assault case at the University of Michigan.

“Due process requires cross-examination in circumstances like these because it is ‘the greatest legal engine ever invented’ for uncovering the truth,” wrote Judge Amul Thapar. “Not only does cross-examination allow the accused to identify inconsistencies in the other side’s story, but it also gives the fact-finder an opportunity to assess a witness’s demeanor and determine who can be trusted. So if a university is faced with competing narratives about potential misconduct, the administration must facilitate some form of cross-examination in order to satisfy due process.”


Consider the limited facts of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Judge Kavanaugh. It concerns an event some 36 years ago that she recalls in only partial detail. She remembers the alleged assault and rooms she entered with some specificity, but not the home where it occurred. She doesn’t know how she traveled to or from the home that evening.

She told no one about the incident for 30 years until a couples therapy session with her husband. Her therapist’s notes say there were four assailants but she says there were only two. Two of the three other people she says were at the drinking party that night say they know nothing about the party or the assault, and Mr. Kavanaugh denies it categorically.

Democrats claim that even asking questions about these facts is somehow an unfair attack on her as a woman. Her lawyer is demanding that Ms. Ford testify after Mr. Kavanaugh, and that only Senators ask questions—no doubt to bar Republicans from having a female special counsel ask those questions.

We’re told Ms. Ford even wants to bar any questions about why she waited so long to recall the alleged assault and who she consulted in finally going public this year. Such a process is designed to obscure the truth, not to discover it. None of these demands should be tolerable to Senators who care about finding the truth about a serious accusation.

We don’t doubt that Ms. Ford believes what she claims. But the set of facts she currently provides wouldn’t pass even the “preponderance of evidence”—or 50.01% evidence of guilt—test that prevails today on college campuses. If this is the extent of her evidence and it is allowed to defeat a Supreme Court nominee, a charge of sexual assault will become a killer political weapon regardless of facts. And the new American standard of due process will be the presumption of guilt.

Appeared in the September 22, 2018, print edition.

Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[worldNews] Opposition candidate takes early lead in Maldives presidential election Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has taken a 15 percentage point lead over incumbent Abdulla Yameen in the Maldives' presidential election, according to early provisional counts reported by local media.
Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[Markets] The New York Post: Haley denies Giuliani’s claim of Iran ‘revolution,’ says U.S. not seeking ‘regime change anywhere’ United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley shot down the assertion by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that the U.S. was plotting a “successful revolution” in Iran.
Published:9/23/2018 12:27:35 PM
[World] Tomi Lahren Calls Out Media for Using Negative Language to Describe President Trump

Tomi Lahren joined Jesse Watters on "Watters' World" to react to a Media Research Center study that found the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts overwhelmingly described President Trump with negative language.

Published:9/23/2018 11:56:05 AM
[Politics] GOP Senator Perdue Denies 'Rush' to Confirm Kavanaugh Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said Sunday "there's no rush here" to confirm of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh amid a decades-old accusation of sexual assault.In an interview on NBC News' "Meet The Press," Perdue said the Senate Judiciary Committee was following "a very... Published:9/23/2018 11:56:03 AM
[b1ec9c9f-26b8-4995-b88d-afdec85a77b4] Allman Brothers star Dickey Betts' brain surgery deemed a success Allman Brothers Band founding member Dickey Betts has had successful surgery after slipping and hitting his head while playing with his dog in Florida. Published:9/23/2018 11:56:03 AM
[Entertainment] 'The House With A Clock in Its Walls' ticks to the top, winning box office with $26.9M Families chose the soft scares of 'The House With A Clock in Its Walls,' while 'Life Itself,' from the 'This Is Us' creator, was a box-office bust.
Published:9/23/2018 11:56:03 AM
[Media] Nice try, BUT NO! Jennifer Rubin’s claim about Ford on #AMJoy PROVES she’s od’d on stupid juice

Joy Reid had her favorite ‘conservative,’ Jennifer Rubin, on to talk about Ford and how even though the four witnesses (other than herself) she claimed would corroborate her story have done just the opposite she could still find someone who might ‘remember’ what happened. Sure, Ford herself can’t remember exactly when or where the so-called […]

The post Nice try, BUT NO! Jennifer Rubin’s claim about Ford on #AMJoy PROVES she’s od’d on stupid juice appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 11:56:03 AM
[The Blog] NFL week 3 open thread

Depression sets in

The post NFL week 3 open thread appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 11:56:03 AM
[Markets] Goldman Warns Of A Default Wave As $1.3 Trillion In Debt Is Set To Mature

Ten years after the Lehman bankruptcy, the financial elite is obsessed with what will send the world spiraling into the next financial crisis. And with household debt relatively tame by historical standards (excluding student loans, which however will likely be forgiven at some point in the future), mortgage debt nowhere near the relative levels of 2007, the most likely catalyst to emerge is corporate debt. Indeed, in a NYT op-ed penned by Morgan Stanley's, Ruchir Sharma, the bank's chief global strategist made the claim that "when the American markets start feeling it, the results are likely be very different from 2008 —  corporate meltdowns rather than mortgage defaults, and bond and pension funds affected before big investment banks."

But what would be the trigger for said corporate meltdown?

According to a new report from Goldman Sachs, the most likely precipitating factor would be rising interest rates which after the next major round of debt rollovers over the next several years in an environment of rising rates would push corporate cash flows low enough that debt can no longer be serviced effectively.

* * *

While low rates in the past decade have been a boon to capital markets, pushing yield-starved investors into stocks, a dangerous side-effect of this decade of rate repression has been companies eagerly taking advantage of low rates to more than double their debt levels since 2007. And, like many homeowners, companies have also been able to take advantage of lower borrowing rates to drive their average interest costs lower each year this cycle.... until now.

According to Goldman, based on the company's forecasts, 2018 is likely to be the first year that the average interest expense is expected to tick higher, even if modestly.

There is one major consequence of this transition: interest expenses will flip from a tailwind for EPS growth to a headwind on a go-forward basis and in some cases will create a risk to guidance. As shown in the chart below, in aggregate, total interest has increased over the course of this cycle, though it has largely lagged the overall increase in debt levels.

The silver lining of the debt bubble created by central banks since the global financial crisis, is that along with refinancing at lower rates, companies have been able to generally extend maturities in recent years at attractive rates given investors search for yield as well as a gradual flattening of the yield curve.

According to Goldman's calculations, the average maturity of new issuance in recent years has averaged between 15-17 years, up from 11-13 years earlier this cycle and <10 years for most of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

And while this has pushed back the day when rates catch up to the overall increase in debt, as is typically the case, there is nonetheless a substantial amount of debt coming due over the next few years: according to the bank's estimates there is over $1.3 trillion of debt for our non-financials coverage maturing through 2020, roughly 20% of the total debt outstanding.

What is different now - as rates are finally rising - is that as this debt comes due, it is unlikely that companies will be able to roll to lower rates than they are currently paying. A second source of upward pressure on average interest expense is the recent surge in leverage loan issuance, i.e., those companies with floating rate debt (just 9% in aggregate for large caps, but a much larger percent for small-caps). The Fed Funds Futures curve currently implies four more rate hikes (~100 bp) through year-end 2019 (our economists are looking for 2 more than that, for a total of six through year-end 2019). While it is possible that some companies have hedges in place, there is still a substantial amount of outstanding bank loans directly tied to LIBOR which will result in a far faster "flow through" of interest expense catching up to the income statement.

While rising rates has already become a theme in several sectors such as Utilities and Real Estate, Goldman warns that this has the potential to be more widespread:

We saw evidence of this during the 2Q earnings season, where a number of companies cited higher interest expense as a headwind to reported earnings and/or guidance. Some examples:

  • “... we’re anticipating an increase in interest. It’s going to be n probably up in the $3.5mm, $4mm range, depending on interest rate increases... Obviously, we are anticipating floating rate increases if you think through the rate curve, so we embed that thinking into our forecast.” - Brinker International, FY4Q2018
  • “We expect net interest expense will be approximately $144 million [vs. $128 mn for the year ending February 3, 2018], reflecting an expectation for two additional rate increases as implied by the current LIBOR curve.” - Michaels Cos., 2Q2018
  • “Due largely to the effects of rising interest rates on our variable rate conduit facility, vehicle interest expense increased $9 million in the quarter... We continue to expect around $20 million higher vehicle interest expense due to rising U.S. benchmark interest rates.” - Avis Budget Group, 2Q2018

What does that mean for the bigger picture?

While many cash-rich companies have a remedy to rising rates, namely paying down debt as it matures, this is unlikely to be a recourse for the majority of corporations. The good news is that today, corporate America looks extremely healthy against a solid US economic backdrop. Revenue growth is running above trend, and EPS and cash flow growth are even stronger, boosted by Tax Reform.

And while Goldman economists assign a low likelihood that this will change anytime soon, there has been a sharp pickup in the “Recession 2020” narrative as of late. Specifically, along with the growth of the fiscal deficit which will see US debt increase by over $1 trillion next year, the fact that debt growth has outpaced EBITDA growth this cycle has implications for investors if and when the cycle turns.

Which brings us round circle to the potential catalyst of the next crisis: record debt levels.

According to Goldman's calculations, Net Debt/EBITDA for its coverage universe as a whole remains near the highest levels this cycle, if not all time high. And while the bank cannot pinpoint exactly when the cycle will turn, it is easy to claim that US companies are “over-earning” relative to their cycle average today, a key points as the Fed continues "normalizing" its balance sheet. Indeed, this leverage picture looks even more stretched when viewed through a “normalized EBITDA” lens (which Goldman defines as the median LTM 2007 Q1-2018 Q2).

There are two main factors that have driven this increase: net debt has increased while cash levels have declined:

  • the % of highly levered companies (i.e. >2x Net Debt/EBITDA) have nearly doubled vs. 2007 levels (even after EBITDA has improved for a large part of the Energy sector.)
  • The number of companies in a net cash position has declined precipitously to just 15% today down from 25% from 2006-2014.

Meanwhile, and touching on another prominent topic in recent months in which many on Wall Street have highlighted the deterioration in the investment grade space, i.e., the universe of "near fallen angels", or companies that could be downgraded from BBB to junk, Goldman writes that credit metrics for low-grade IG and HY have been moving lower. If the cycle turns, the cost of debt could increase, with convexity suggesting that this turn could happen fast.

Picking up on several pieces we have written on the topic (most recently "Fallen Angel" Alert: Is Ford's Downgrade The "Spark" That Crashes The Bond Market"), Goldman specifically highlights the potential high yield supply risk that could unfold.

Here are the numbers: currently there are $2tn of non-financial bonds rated BBB, the lowest rating across the investment grade scale. The amount has increased to 58% of the non-financial IG market over the last several years and is currently at its highest level in the last 10 years.

And for those wondering what could prompt the junk bond market to finally break - and Ford's recently downgrade is precisely such a harbinger - Goldman's credit strategists warn that this is important "because a turn in the cycle could result in these bonds being downgraded to high yield."

From a market standpoint, too many bonds falling to the high yield market would create excess supply and potentially pressure prices. Looking back to prior cycles, approximately 5% to 15% of the BBB rated bonds were downgraded to high yield. If we assume the same percentages are applied to a theoretical down-cycle today, a staggering $100-300bn of debt could be at risk of falling to the high yield market in a cycle correction, an outcome that would choke the bond market and shock market participants. It is also the reason why Bank of America recently warned that the ECB can not afford a recession, as the resulting avalanche of "fallen angels" would crush the high yield bond market, sending shockwaves across the entire fixed income space.

And while such a reversal is not a near-term risk given solid sales/earnings growth and low recession risk, "it is potentially problematic given the current size of the high yield market is only $1.2tn."

Should the market indeed turn, prices would need to adjust - i.e. drop sharply - in order to  generate the level of demand that would require a potential 25% increase in the size of the high yield market – especially at a time when risk appetite could be low.

Careful not to scare its clients too much, Goldman concedes that an imminent risk of a wave of credit rating downgrades is low, but warns that "the market could potentially be overlooking the underlying cost of capital/financial risks (high leverage, low coverage) for certain issuers based on their current access to market."

* * *

As for the worst case scenario, it should be self-explanatory: a sharp slowdown in the economy, coupled with a major repricing of bond market risk could result in a crash in the bond market, which together with the stock market has been the biggest beneficiary of the Fed's unorthodox monetary policies. Furthermore, should companies suddenly find themselves unable to refinance debt, or - worse - rollover debt maturities, would lead to a wave of corporate defaults that starts at the lowest level of the capital structure and moves its way up, impacting such supposedly "safe" instrument as leveraged loans which in recent months have seen an explosion in issuance due to investor demand for higher yields.

To be sure, this transition will not happen overnight, but it will happen eventually and it will start with the riskiest companies.

To that end, Goldman has created a watch list for those companies that are most at risk: the ones with a credit rating of BBB or lower that are paying low average interest rates (less than 5%), have limited interest coverage (EBIT/Interest of <5x) and high leverage (Net Debt/EBITDA>2.5x) based on 2019 estimates; the screen is also limited to companies where Net Debt is a substantial portion of Enterprise value (30% or higher). The screen is hardly exhaustive and Goldman admits that "there are much more highly levered companies out there that could be more  exposed to a turn in the cycle." However, the bank focuses on this subset given the low current interest cost relative to the risk-free rate, "suggesting investors could be complacent around their financing costs."

In other words, investors who are exposed to debt in the following names may want to reasses if holding such risk is prudent in a time when, for the first time in a decade, the average interest expense is expected to tick higher.

Published:9/23/2018 11:56:03 AM
[World] Ben Shapiro: 'Pretty Disgusting' for Democrats to Turn Kavanaugh Accusation Into '2018 Get Out the Vote Effort'

Ben Shapiro blasted Democrats for using the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a "2018 get-out-the-vote-effort."

Published:9/23/2018 11:25:31 AM
[World] The ‘bride price’ in China keeps rising. Some villages want to put a cap on it. The custom has been around for centuries, but costs are swelling as the country copes with one of the biggest demographic imbalances in history. Published:9/23/2018 11:25:31 AM
[46b1d9a1-a666-45f1-aa40-8cdcb0ce2a7a] #MeToo has morphed into a career-destroying angry mob Somehow “I disagree with you” or even “I disagree with the thing you published” has turned into “your career must be destroyed.” Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Politics] Hirono: Kavanaugh Doesn’t Get Presumption of Innocence Because of His ‘Ideological Agenda’

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) on Sunday dodged a question about four witnesses denying knowledge of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by talking about his views on abortion.

The post Hirono: Kavanaugh Doesn’t Get Presumption of Innocence Because of His ‘Ideological Agenda’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Uncategorized] Cal State Long Beach removing “Prospector Pete” statue because 1849 Gold Rush now politically incorrect Will be sent from visible campus plaza to another location, because of the impact the 1849 gold rush had on indigenous people. Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Media] Looking worse and WORSE! Erick Erickson perfectly sums up why Ford now officially has ZERO credibility

Ford is her own worst enemy. She provided the names of five people who she said would and could corroborate her story … and we all know how that’s worked out for her. Ford provided 5 people who she says can corroborate her story.Smyth: Denies it under penalty of perjury.Judge: Denies it under penalty of […]

The post Looking worse and WORSE! Erick Erickson perfectly sums up why Ford now officially has ZERO credibility appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Politics] GOP Senator Purdue Denies 'Rush' to Confirm Kavanaugh Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said Sunday "there's no rush here" to confirm of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh amid a decades-old accusation of sexual assault.In an interview on NBC News' "Meet The Press," Perdue said the Senate Judiciary Committee was following "a very... Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Democrats are leading Republicans for control of Congress, new poll shows The Democratic Party’s political advantage has grown in the home stretch of the midterm campaign, powered by strong support among women and a majority looking for a change from President Trump’s course, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.
Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Entertainment] Jack Black, Cate Blanchett are magical in 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls' Jack Black stars as a warlock and Cate Blanchett is a good neighbor witch in the magical adventure 'The House With A Clock in Its Walls.'
Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[Markets] Donald Trump's Rosenstein Dilemma

Authored by Mark Penn, op-ed via The Hill,

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

That is the dilemma President Donald Trump faces as he decides whether to fire Rod Rosenstein following revelations that the deputy attorney general allegedly talked about taping the president and rounding up Cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment. 

There were several people present at this meeting in the aftermath of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Despite the fact that Rosenstein wrote the key memo trashing Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, he reportedly was angry and uncertain after the president actually did it, using his memo as a justification. 

The prime source for this information appears to be none other than fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who faces investigation by a grand jury and whose memos are being declassified. McCabe appears to be even angrier at the Department of Justice (DOJ) brass who fired and humiliated him just for leaking and lying when he may have far worse on his comrades.

This is the deep state unraveling.

People bristle when I sometimes adopt and use that term: “deep state.” But as an outside observer, watching the unmasking of the actions of one official after another at the FBI, CIA and DOJ, I have come to accept that an unelected group of well-educated, experienced individuals running these departments became inebriated with their own power during the last election campaign and apparently came to believe they were on a mission to stop, defeat or remove President Trump and his associates for crimes they would find or, if necessary, manufacture.

Perhaps Rosenstein was joking when he referenced the 25th Amendment, as another meeting participant reports. But Rosenstein’s statement in response to the news accounts carefully avoids denying having discussed wiring himself or others in some effort to entrap Trump. This cabal is meeting and planning, post-Comey’s firing, despite the fact that Rosenstein himself in his memo to President Trump said Comey was “wrong” and the FBI could not regain lost public trust without a new director who understood his errors. 

It seems Rosenstein also may have believed we needed a new president. Just days into his expanded role and after these conversations, he appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel with a still-secret charter to investigate the Trump campaign and administration; the precipitating act was the very firing he recommended. 

Whether it involved sending missiles to Syria after chemical attacks on civilians, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, or firing Comey, Trump actually has moved ahead and done some of the things that Washington elites complain about but go along with out of some extreme sense of caution and timidness. And those acts are then branded as some kind of lunacy.

Perhaps the true headline item in Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear,” is that Trump was so incensed at the murdering of women and children by Syria’s Bashar Assad that he actually raised the idea of taking out the dictator responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own people. Sheer madness? Hardly. President Obama stood idly by as mass murder happened in Syria, and President Clinton’s biggest regret is that he did too little to stop the massacres in Rwanda; he believes 300,000 lives could have been saved had he sent in troops earlier. It’s presidential inaction in the face of madness that has proven most dangerous to the world. Ask the Crimeans. 

I say this not to defend all of the actions of President Trump,  many of which I might disagree with, but to condemn the arrogance of those in the deep state who convinced themselves that they would rescue our country from ourselves. They were on a mission, it turns out, not to save our country but to undo our democracy, and Rosenstein finally has been unmasked as having the attitudes and conflicts we all suspected.

There has been an eerie pattern of events involving Rosenstein. Remember how he became downright testy in front of Congress when asked why he signed the fourth surveillance warrant against Carter Page and whether he even read it. In response to lawful demands for documents as to the origins of the investigation, he responded that he wouldn’t be “extorted” by Congress. And, in another one of his jokes (he appears to have quite a wry sense of humor), he raised turning the tables on Congress by reviewing the emails of members and staff who were there to gather information from the FBI. Just kidding. 

Until now, Rosenstein has escaped real scrutiny despite this series of defiant statements and actions. He managed to make it impossible for the president to step in and remove him, or for Congress to supervise him, claiming he reports to some higher authority that he defines as his commitment to the rule of law. 

And, yet, our laws and our Constitution set up no politically unaccountable officials in the executive or legislative branches of government. It is disappointing to see leaders like Sen. Charles Schumer(D-N.Y.) ignore the actions uncovered here in favor of anything that damages Trump, no matter how egregious the activities of these government officials.

Of course, the president is stuck here. Firing Rosenstein, even if deserved, would be spun like an act of impetuous madness just before the midterms. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who would have the acceptable power to do so, appears unable or unwilling to act in any bold manner. All Trump can do is get out all the documents and call upon the inspector general to fully investigate these reports.

After the midterms, though, he could instruct the attorney general to appoint — or, perhaps, do so directly himself — a second special prosecutor to investigate the actions of the FBI, CIA and DOJ in the Clinton and Trump investigations. Over 70 percent of Americans in the Harvard/CAPS poll believe such a counsel should be appointed now. If Democrats take over Congress, there will be no way without that appointment to continue investigations that have turned up real malfeasance of the sort by these officials. Democrats have other plans for their investigative powers, if they get them.

Whatever you want to call these well-heeled members of the intelligence community and Justice Department, many of whom now have book and speaking contracts, it is clear they all engaged in a conspiracy to bring down this administration on the basis of unverified information, and to turn the most basic acts of presidential power, like the firing of Comey, into obstruction of justice.

The more information that comes out here, the ever more egregious the actions of all of these officials appear in the light of day.

Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[] NYC Subway: It Would Run Great If It Weren't For Those Awful Customers! So...if I am reading this corrctly, it's the customers who are screwing up an otherwise fine operation! What a typical, clueless, elitist, obtuse and ignorant thing to say.New York City's Subways Are Slow, Crowded and Smelly -- Officials Say Part... Published:9/23/2018 11:25:30 AM
[World] National Sheriff's Association Crowdfunding for Trump's Border Wall Due to Inaction From Congress

With the effort to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border seemingly stalled in Washington, D.C., the National Sheriffs' Association has launched a crowdfunding effort to help pay for President Trump's long-promised border wall.

Published:9/23/2018 10:58:27 AM
[topics:organisations/nhs] Victims accuse ministers of breaking funding promise for contaminated blood inquiry  Published:9/23/2018 10:58:26 AM
[Markets] The Ratings Game: iPhone lines were shorter this year, though that might not mean much for Apple Waiting in line for an iPhone doesn’t seem to hold the allure it once did, but a dwindling band of analysts still camp out with Apple Inc.’s superfans and try to glean insight from their presence and preferences.
Published:9/23/2018 10:58:26 AM
[Quick Takes] Scholars at James Madison U. Organizing ‘Feminist Scholarship’ Fellowship "dedicated to sustaining feminist scholarship both on-campus and in [applicants’] own research projects” Published:9/23/2018 10:58:26 AM
[Politics] Haley: Take Politics, Second-Guessing Out of Kavanaugh Accuser Hearing The accuser of Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh "deserves to be heard," and should not be blamed or second-guessed beforehand, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday... Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[Politics] Nikki Haley RIPS INTO Iran’s anti-US conspiracy theory, AND Russia in Syria!!! This is a very good interview with what God-willing will be our next president, Nikki Haley. Right out of the gate she hits back at Iran for accusing the U.S. of being . . . Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[Politics] Nikki Haley RIPS INTO Iran’s anti-US conspiracy theory, AND Russia in Syria!!! This is a very good interview with what God-willing will be our next president, Nikki Haley. Right out of the gate she hits back at Iran for accusing the U.S. of being . . . Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[Media] Did she REALLY go there?! Sen. Mazie Hirono’s reasoning for doubting Kavanaugh’s credibility is MADDENING (video)

Sen. Mazie Hirono clearly has an agenda. And that agenda is not about making sure Ford sees justice when it comes to her allegations against Kavanaugh. In all reality, Ford is another of the Democrat’s favorite ‘useful idiots’ who are nothing more than a means to an end. Watching Jake Tapper interview Mazie, and her […]

The post Did she REALLY go there?! Sen. Mazie Hirono’s reasoning for doubting Kavanaugh’s credibility is MADDENING (video) appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[Markets] Norwegian Power Trader Facing Bankruptcy After Massive "Black Swan" Loss

The saga of Einar Aas, the Norwegian trader whose 15-year golden run came to a calamitous end earlier this month when he was caught on the wrong side of a stunning blowout in power-price spreads, has ended, as many anticipated, with the liquidation of Aas' estate and an expected bankruptcy filing. 

According to Reuters, Nasdaq’s Nordic commodities exchange has reached an agreement with Aas' attorneys on the sale of Aas' assets that will allow him to cover a 114 million euro ($134 million) hole in the exchange's clearing-house buffers that nearly brought trading to a grinding halt.

Nasdaq’s Nordic commodities exchange has reached agreement on the sale of assets belonging to a private trader who defaulted on his commitments last week, it said on Friday.

Einar Aas, a Norwegian derivatives trader who made large bets on the power market, left a 114 million euro ($134 million) hole in Nasdaq’s Nordic clearing house buffers when his funds ran out.

Within just two working days of the default, members of the exchange, and Nasdaq itself, were forced to replenish the funds in order to continue trading.


Funds recovered via the process will be distributed to default fund participants on a pro rata basis, it added.

"Nasdaq would support liquidation of the assets in a swift and timely manner consistent with realization of maximum value for members and will liaise with members in relation to this matter," the exchange said.

Aas' lawyers added that the estate sale would likely lead to their clients' personal bankruptcy (he has already paid out all of his liquid assets). To put his personal losses in context, just two years ago, Aas was Norway's biggest taxpayer.

While Aas had run out of cash, he still owns real estate and other assets that could be sold.

"Nasdaq would like to inform our members and clients that Mr. Aas and his lawyers have agreed to submit to a consensual arrangement with creditors to liquidate Mr Aas’s estate," Nasdaq Clearing Commodities said in a statement on Friday.

For readers who haven't been following one of the most stunning cautionary tales about the failure of risk oversight and its consequences, Aas - a legendary power trader with a seat on the Nasdaq Nordic commodities exchange - wracked up a staggering loss that when the spread between German and Norwegian power prices widened by 17 times during a single trading day, an incident that Nasdaq has described as a "a true black swan event."

The blowout was triggered by an extremely unlikely confluence of factors: A jump in the price of European carbon allowances, which caused German power prices to soar, and forecasts for unusually heavy rains in the hydropower-reliant Nordic region, which caused Nordic power prices to drop.



At the time, Aas had a huge open position betting that the spread would narrow. So when it widened by such an extreme degree, Aas was forced to surrender all of his liquid assets to cover his margin. But it wasn't enough, and the exchange was forced to liquidate his position at a massive discount in what is typically an unusually illiquid market (European power markets, once rife with hedge funds and other traders, have seen trading activity plunge over the past two decades as volatility stabilized, eliminating the incentive for speculation).

When the dust had cleared, other exchange members were forced to contribute back-up capital to cover the loss, narrowly averting what could have been a catastrophic collapse.

"Nasdaq has dropped the ball on this one," said Stephen Connelly, an associate professor in law at University of Warwick and a former financial litigator in London. "It’s really surprising in this day and age.

For its part, Nasdaq said it has implemented safeguards to ensure (to the best of its ability) that one monstrously sour trade won't drive the exchange to the brink of insolvency. It's increasing its margin requirements and hiring consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Regulators in Sweden, where Nasdaq Nordic is based, say they are planning to investigate how Nasdaq allowed such a massive failure of oversight.

"This is a question that Nasdaq Clearing has to answer," said Daniel Gedeon, director of financial markets infrastructure supervision at the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority. "As a supervisor we are investigating the situation thoroughly."

But perhaps the biggest irony here is the fact that Aas could have avoided responsibility for such staggering risk if he had only bothered to register his own trading firm - a relatively simple process, according to Aas' old boss.

"When you operate on this scale and with this liquidity risk, I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t done anything about that," Eckhardt said. "It would have taken him a day to register the company and maybe a week to transfer contracts."

Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[The Blog] The top five reasons why top five lists don’t work: Sunday reflection

Mark 9:30–37.

The post The top five reasons why top five lists don’t work: Sunday reflection appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[worldNews] Man arrested with taser at UK's Buckingham Palace visitor entrance: police A man has been arrested at the visitors' entrance to Queen Elizabeth's Buckingham Palace residence for possession of a taser, London's Metropolitan Police said on Sunday.
Published:9/23/2018 10:58:25 AM
[World] 'Life, Liberty & Levin': Mark Levin Says Democrats Have 'Hijacked' Kavanaugh Confirmation Process

This week on a special "Life, Liberty & Levin," Mark Levin exposes the Democratic Party’s destruction of the Supreme Court confirmation process over the past 30 years and examines the Brett Kavanaugh case.

Published:9/23/2018 10:26:29 AM
[Brett Kavanaugh] The farce this time (Scott Johnson) The Washington Post has played a key role in promoting the farce this time. Kim Strassel looks back at two wrinkles in the Post’s reporting in this Twitter thread. I have taken a screenshot of the end of the Twitter thread and embedded it below. Drudge links to this accessible version of the long Washington Post story on “the GOP’s effort to save Kavanaugh[,]” as the San Antonio Express headline Published:9/23/2018 10:26:28 AM
[National Security] Haley: We’re Not Going to Pay for Reconstruction of Syria As Long As There Is Iranian Influence There

The post Haley: We’re Not Going to Pay for Reconstruction of Syria As Long As There Is Iranian Influence There appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/23/2018 10:26:28 AM
[Entertainment] Allman Brothers’ Dickey Betts recovering after successful brain surgery Allman Brothers founding member Dickey Betts slipped and hit his head while playing with his dog. He underwent successful brain surgery on Friday.
Published:9/23/2018 10:26:28 AM
[The Blog] Will Christine Ford testify before the Judicial Committee Thursday?

Fourth named witness denies being at the party.

The post Will Christine Ford testify before the Judicial Committee Thursday? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 10:26:28 AM
[Media] WOMP WOMP! Daily Beast editor’s claim that Keyser’s statement isn’t a ‘setback’ BACKFIRES, hits Ford HARD

If even the New York Times is admitting Keyser’s statement is a setback for Ford’s allegations you KNOW it IS a serious setback. Setback for Ford team: Leland Keyser, believed to have been identified as one of 5 people at the party, told the cmte she “does not know Kavanaugh and she has no recollection […]

The post WOMP WOMP! Daily Beast editor’s claim that Keyser’s statement isn’t a ‘setback’ BACKFIRES, hits Ford HARD appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 10:26:27 AM
[worldNews] Iran's Revolutionary Guards threaten to avenge military parade attack Iran's Revolutionary Guards vowed on Sunday to exact "deadly and unforgettable" vengeance for a shooting attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, including 12 of their comrades, and Tehran accused Gulf Arab states of backing the gunmen.
Published:9/23/2018 10:26:27 AM
[Politics] Fox News Poll: Kavanaugh Support Wanes Amid Accusations Judge Brett Kavanaugh's support among voters has waned, as 50 percent of voters now oppose his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the latest.... Published:9/23/2018 10:26:27 AM
[Markets] UK Begged Trump Not To Declassify Russia Docs; Cited "Grave Concerns" Over Steele Involvement

The British government "expressed grave concerns" to the US government over the declassification and release of material related to the Trump-Russia investigation, according to the New York Times. President Trump ordered a wide swath of materials "immediately" declassified "without redaction" on Monday, only to change his mind later in the week by allowing the DOJ Inspector General to review the materials first. 

The Times reports that the UK's concern was over material which "includes direct references to conversations between American law enforcement officials and Christopher Steele,the former MI6 agent who compiled the infamous "Steele Dossier." The UK's objection, according to former US and British officials, was over revealing Steele's identity in an official document, "regardless of whether he had been named in press reports." 

We would note, however, that Steele's name was contained within the Nunes Memo - the House Intelligence Committee's majority opinion in the Trump-Russia case.

Steele also had extensive contacts with DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who - along with Steele - was paid by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the anti-Trump campaign. Trump called for the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Ohr, which would ostensibly reveal more about his relationship with Steele. Ohr was demoted twice within the Department of Justice for lying about his contacts with Fusion GPS. 

Perhaps the Brits are also concerned since much of the espionage performed on the Trump campaign was conducted on UK soil throughout 2016. Recall that Trump aid George Papadopoulos was lured to London in March, 2016, where Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud fed him the rumor that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was later at a London bar that Papadopoulos would drunkenly pass the rumor to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer (who Strzok flew to London to meet with). 

Also recall that CIA/FBI "informant" (spy) Stefan Halper met with both Carter Page and Papadopoulos in London. 

Halper, a veteran of four Republican administrations, reached out to Trump aide George Papadopoulos in September 2016 with an offer to fly to London to write an academic paper on energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.

Papadopoulos accepted a flight to London and a $3,000 honorarium. He claims that during a meeting in London, Halper asked him whether he knew anything about Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails.

Papadopoulos had other contacts on British soil that he now believes were part of a government-sanctioned surveillance operation. -Daily Caller

In total, Halper received over $1 million from the Obama Pentagon for "research," over $400,000 of which was granted before and during the 2016 election season. 

In short, it's understandable that the UK would prefer to hide their involvement in the "witch hunt" of Donald Trump since much of the counterintelligence investigation was conducted on UK soil. And if the Brits had knowledge of the operation, it will bolster claims that they meddled in the 2016 US election by assisting what appears to have been a set-up from the start.

Steele's ham-handed dossier is a mere embarrassment, as virtually none of the claims asserted by the former MI6 agent have been proven true. 

Steele, a former MI6 agent, is the author of the infamous and unverified anti-Trump dossier. He worked as a confidential human source for the FBI for years before the relationship was severed just before the election because of Steele’s unauthorized contacts with the press.

He shared results of his investigation into Trump’s links to Russia with the FBI beginning in early July 2016.

The FBI relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier to fill out applications for four FISA warrants against Page. Page has denied the dossier’s claims, which include that he was the Trump campaign’s back channel to the Kremlin. -Daily Caller

That said, Steele hasn't worked for the British government since 2009, so for their excuse focusing on the former MI6 agent while ignoring the multitude of events which occurred on UK soil, is curious. 

Published:9/23/2018 10:26:27 AM
[topics:places/buckingham-palace] Man arrested at Buckingham Palace on suspicion of carrying a firearm Published:9/23/2018 10:26:27 AM
[Politics] Graham: Grassley 'Bent Over Backwards' to Meet Blasey Ford's Demands Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, "bent over backwards" to accommodate the accuser of Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday.In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," the South Carolina Republican said the... Published:9/23/2018 9:55:28 AM
[Markets] OPEC, Russia Defy Trump Demand To Boost Oil Production

Less than three months after Trump's latest tweet slamming OPEC, in which he warned the petroleum cartel that it must "REDUCE PRICING NOW!", Trump was at it again and on Thursday morning, with Brent hitting $80 per barrel and higher gasoline prices creating another headache for Republicans ahead of the midterm elections, the president lashed out at OPEC, saying that the US protects the countries of the Middle East, and warning these nations that "they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember."

Trump's latest threat, however, was summarily ignored on Sunday when OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest non-OPEC oil-producer ally, Russia, ruled out additional increase in crude output, defying Trump’s calls for action to cool the market.

"I do not influence prices," said the Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih during a press conference in Algiers for a meeting that ended with no formal recommendation for any additional supply boost, Reuters reports.

In recent weeks, oil prices have moved back to 4 year highs, a rally that according to analysts has been mostly due to a perceived decline in oil exports from Iran due to fresh U.S. sanctions, stemming from Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear deal. As a result, as much as 1.5 million barrels of output are in danger of being taken off the market.

And while Falih said Saudi Arabia had spare capacity to increase oil output, he said that no such move was needed at the moment. Instead, Falih blamed refiners for not converting enough product: "My information is that the markets are adequately supplied. I don’t know of any refiner in the world who is looking for oil and is not able to get it" he said.

Still, indicating that Saudi Arabia was quite ready to steal even more market share from Iran, Falih said that Saudi Arabia was ready to increase supply if Iran’s output fell: “Whatever takes place between now and the end of the year in terms of supply changes will be addressed.”

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak echoed the comments, saying that no immediate output increase was necessary, although he believed a trade war between China and the United States as well as U.S. sanctions on Iran were creating new challenges for oil markets.

Separately, Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhy and Kuwaiti counterpart Bakhit al-Rashidi told reporters that producers had agreed they needed to focus on reaching 100% compliance with production cuts agreed in June, which means offsetting and compensating for falling Iranian production. However, Al-Rumhy said the exact mechanism for doing so had not been discussed.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh also chimed in and said that Trump’s tweet "was the biggest insult to Washington’s allies in the Middle East." Iran, understandably, is furious at Trump because without the latest round of sanctions against Tehran oil prices would be sharply lower. After agreeing to boost output by 1 million bpd in June to offset declining Iranian production - a move that Tehran sees as OPEC butting in and taking its market share - in August, OPEC and non-OPEC nations cut production by 600,000 bpd more than their pact required, mainly as a result of falling output in Iran as customers in Europe and Asia reduced purchases ahead of the U.S. sanctions deadline.

As we noted last week, Iran told OPEC its production had been steady in August at 3.8 million bpd, however, according to secondary sources such as researchers and ship-trackers, Iranian output had dropped to 3.58 million bpd.

* * *

Going back to Iran's arch enemy, Saudi Arabia, its energy minister said returning to 100% compliance was the main objective and should be achieved in the next two-three months, although he "refrained from specifying how that could be done." Then again it is largely implied: Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity.

“We have the consensus that we need to offset reductions and achieve 100 percent compliance, which means we can produce significantly more than we are producing today if there is demand,” Falih said adding that "the biggest issue is not with the producing countries, it’s with the refiners, it’s with the demand. We in Saudi Arabia have not seen demand for any additional barrel that we did not produce."

If he is right, and demand is indeed has indeed plateaued - largely due to the recent slowdown in China even with the boost resulting from the US fiscal stimulus - it could have more profound consequences for the global economy.

Finally, on Sunday OPEC also decided to change the dates of its next meeting to Dec. 6-7 from the earlier-agreed Dec. 3.The joint OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee will next meet on Nov. 11 in Abu Dhabi.

Published:9/23/2018 9:55:28 AM
[Media] ‘How DARE you’?! Tammy Bruce FINALLY gives Dianne Feinstein the tweet-whoopin’ she SO deserves

Dianne Feinstein has been doubling (tripling?) down on the messaging that Ford pushing off her testimony is somehow the GOP’s fault for bullying her. Forget that Grassley has literally bent over backward (it wasn’t pretty) to make sure Ford felt safe, that they’ve given her extension after extension, that they’ve offered to fly to her […]

The post ‘How DARE you’?! Tammy Bruce FINALLY gives Dianne Feinstein the tweet-whoopin’ she SO deserves appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 9:55:28 AM
[Entertainment] Paul Simon says farewell to touring with a giddy final show in Queens At Saturday's final show on Paul Simon's farewell tour, he told the audience in Queens, N.Y., that their cheers "mean more than you can know."
Published:9/23/2018 9:55:28 AM
[topics:places/australia] Australian army called in to rescue stranded Golden Globe sailor Published:9/23/2018 9:55:28 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: OPEC expects U.S. shale growth to slow significantly in less than 5 years U.S. shale oil production will peak by the late 2020s, triggering renewed demand for OPEC crude after an expected decline and stagnation, the oil cartel said Sunday.
Published:9/23/2018 9:55:28 AM
[World] Portland, Multnomah County Oregon Approve Million-Dollar Illegal Immigrant Legal Defense Fund Budget

The Portland City Council approved a $500,000 grant for potential deportees' legal services, and Multnomah County is matching that amount.

Published:9/23/2018 9:27:00 AM
[structure:news/world-news] Disney redraws first black princess after anti-racism campaigners claim her skin is 'too white' Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[Media] END THE CHARADE! WaPo straight-up LIES in piece claiming witness Keyser ‘says she believes Ford’

Wowza. The media is working overtime to disregard Leland Keyser’s statement since it completely contradicts Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. From The Daily Beast to The Washington Post, so-called journos are doing their very best to pretend her statement didn’t just completely decimate Ford. Which tells us they know it really did. And c’mon, after the […]

The post END THE CHARADE! WaPo straight-up LIES in piece claiming witness Keyser ‘says she believes Ford’ appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[Uncategorized] Will Kavanaugh accuser really testify now that all her eyewitnesses dispute her story? All four of the people Christine Blasey Ford says were at the party in question deny being there, including a female Democrat. Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[Politics] PATHETIC Mazie Hirono DEFLECTS on believing victims after KEITH ELLISON is brought up! Check out Mazie Hirono’s pathetic response to the allegations against Keith Ellison after whining and crying that victims aren’t believed when making sexual harassment allegations. She immediately pivots away from Ellison and . . . Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[Politics] PATHETIC Mazie Hirono DEFLECTS on believing victims after KEITH ELLISON is brought up! Check out Mazie Hirono’s pathetic response to the allegations against Keith Ellison after whining and crying that victims aren’t believed when making sexual harassment allegations. She immediately pivots away from Ellison and . . . Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[2018 News] Christine Ford third witness doesnt back up her story either Christine Ford’s third witness doesn’t back up her story either. All three witnesses cited by this nutjob have now come forward and formally announced they know nothing about such an incident… and don’t even remember such a party. This woman is supposedly Ford’s best friend and this is the statement from her lawyer: “Simply put, […] Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[worldNews] Rebel attack in Congo Ebola zone kills 18 At least 14 civilians and four soldiers were killed on Saturday in a six-hour attack by rebels on the town of Beni in eastern Congo, the army and local officials said, warning the unrest could hamper efforts to quash an Ebola epidemic in the area.
Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[Markets] Farage Fumes At EU's Article 7 "Soviet Show Trial" Against Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban provoked a seething response from his fellow European Union members when he decided to close Hungary's borders and passed legislation to ban foreign influence peddling funded by billionaire financier George Soros. And earlier this month, the European Parliament voted to trigger Article 7 proceedings against Hungary for "undermining democratic values and the rule of law." Indeed, because he's steadfastly refused to accept migrants in according with the policies of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, Orban has been labeled a tyrant, despite Orban's Fidesz Party securing a majority in the country's most recent Parliamentary elections.

Despite the "extreme bullying" to which Orban has been subjected by his European colleagues, he traveled to Brussels earlier this month to face his accusers ahead of the European Parliament vote. After Orban delivered his address to the room, MEP Nigel Farage, who famously helped orchestrate the UK's vote to leave the EU back in 2016, stepped up to say a few words in Orban's defense.

"Thank God there's at least one European leader who is willing to stand up for his principles, his nation, his culture and his people in the face of such extreme bullying."

Farage argued that the vote conjured memories of Soviet-era show trials, and likened the EU Parliament to a bunch of unelected bureaucrats hypocritically lecturing Orban - whose party holds an outright majority - about democratic principles. Specifically, Farage targeted Frans Timmermans, the unelected Dutch diplomat serving as first Vice President of the European Commission. Timmermans and the rest of the Commission backed the EU Parliament in condemning Hungary for allegedly mistreating migrants and Roma communities, arguing that "democracy and the rule of law cannot exist without the protection of fundamental human rights."  

"All I can say, and I'm sure for Hungarians of a certain age, today will have brought back many dark memories. You're here at a show trial where a bunch of political nonentities get up and point the finger and scream enjoying themselves with their afternoon hate, and the chief prosecutor, the commissar that comes from the unelected government, he has the audacity he has the audacity to lecture you on democracy. You don't know what you're talking about."

Farage then compared Article 7 to an updated version of the Brezhnev Doctrine - the Cold War-era policy of overweening Soviet influence that led to the USSR's brutal repression of the Hungarian Spring uprising.

"What is really happening here, Mr. Orban, is they're just updating the Brezhnev Doctrine of limited sovereignty there's no point pretending in this union you're independent there's no point pretending you've run your own country. An Article 7 is the new method of adopting that. They want to strip you of your voting rights. They want to stop giving you European funding and all of it because you have the audacity to stand up to George Soros, the man who was poured $15 billion all over the world in trying to break down the nation-states to get rid of our traditional forms of democracy."

The authorization of Article 7 proceedings isn't just an insult to Hungary - it is a direct insult to Orban personally, Farage said. He then suggested that Hungary follow in the UK's footsteps and abandon the Union entirely.

"Mr. Orban you keep saying you want to stay a member of this European Union but it's not just your country that's been insulted today - you've been insulted. Come and join the Brexit club - you'll love it."

Watch the full speech below:

Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[Politics] Sean Spicer: 'Elite Media' Espousing 'Personal Animus' Against Trump The "elite media" has allowed themselves to carry their "personal animus" against President Donald Trump into their reporting, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Sunday."They don't like conservatives in general," Spicer told "The Cats Roundtable" on 970... Published:9/23/2018 9:26:59 AM
[SPY] Bulls Charge To All-Time Highs Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[US News] Is THIS why Dems won’t hand the letter over?! Even the WAY Ford ‘submitted’ her letter to Feinstein is shady AF

Did we mention things just seem to be getting worse and worse for Ford because WHOA NELLY, do they ever. So, about that letter … Wait, let’s try that again. THAT letter. You know, the one Feinstein keeps refusing to hand over to Republicans without it first being censored? The one where Ford made her […]

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Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[Quick Takes] Ithaca College Republicans Accused of Racism for Speaking Out Against Illegal Immigration “Illegal immigrants come to our country and have no respect for the rule of law." Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[The Blog] Julian Assange: International diplomat?

The Russian connection, part two

The post Julian Assange: International diplomat? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[worldNews] Survivor pulled from capsized Tanzanian ferry as death toll reaches 218 (This new version of the story corrects number of dead in lede.)
Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[Politics] Pompeo Defends Lawmakers' 'Conspiratorial' Tone Toward FISA Docs Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says it's sometimes "appropriate" for Congress to be "conspiratorial" - including in the case of demands to see Russian meddling-related documents classified under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[Markets] Faking The Online Debate On Iran - Inside The MEK

Via Al Jazeera's 'The Listening Post',

How keyboard warriors target journalists, academics and activists who favor dialogue instead of war with Iran...

Last month, Google, Facebook and Twitter announced the shutdown of pages and accounts they say were linked to Iran. While the effectiveness of Iran's online disinformation networks is far from established, the Islamic Republic has now joined Russia in the popular consciousness as another government using the internet to destabilise its adversaries.

Meanwhile, a widespread campaign of social media manipulation by actors who are opposed to the government in Tehran has had many analysts eyeing Iran's enemies for clues to who might be behind the project.

"The turning point was really [Donald] Trump's election," says journalist and New America fellow Azadeh Moaveni.

"Once it became clear that there would be heightened hostility with Iran, there was a profusion of new accounts, anonymous accounts who were single-mindedly and purposefully going after people who wrote about, talked about Iran with nuance."

While Twitter did not respond directly to questions about the methodology it used to detect organised manipulation of its platform, lecturer in Middle East history at Exeter University, Marc Owen Jones, shared with us how he uses freely available Twitter metadata to detect the presence of bots.

"We would receive daily orders highlighting the main ongoing issues in Iran, for example, high prices, unemployment, poverty... we had to bring them to the attention of the world by tweeting them and blaming them on the Islamic regime in one way or another! This was our duty on a daily basis in cyberspace."

Most of the accounts identified had only a few dozen or a few hundred followers and used generic profile pictures. The vast majority tweet almost exclusively in opposition to the Islamic Republic with many exhibiting sympathies with an exiled Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK).

Hassan Shahbaz, former MEK member

"If you want to use bots to be effective you need a lot of accounts, which means you might create a lot of accounts on a specific day or week or month," explains Jones.

"The majority of the accounts tweeting on the #FreeIran and #Iran_Regime_Change hashtag from late December up to May, were created within about a four-month window. What that would suggest is that a lot of the activity on those hashtags came from bots."

The MEK was instrumental in Iran's 1979 revolution but turned to violent attacks on civilian targets after being sidelined by Ayatollah Khomeini. A violent backlash forced the group into Iraqwhere they allied with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

In 2013, the MEK moved to Albania at the behest of the United States. The group has long lobbied for policies to overthrow Iran's government.

The MEK declined our request for an interview citing, "terrorist threats of Iranian regime and mobilising the agents of Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the guise of journalist".

However, former MEK members still stranded in the Albanian capital, Tirana, having left the group, described how the MEK uses thousands of fake Twitter accounts to both promote their organisation and to boost online calls for regime change.

"Overall I would say that several thousand accounts are managed by about 1,000-1,500 MEK members," former MEK member, Hassan Heyrani, told The Listening Post.

"It was all very well organised and there were clear instructions about what needed to be done."

The MEK online unit was especially active during several weeks of protests beginning in December 2017. Members were ordered to emphasise the anti-regime character of the demonstrations.

"Our orders would tell us the hashtags to use in our tweets in order to make them more active," says Hassan Shahbaz, another former MEK member.

"It was our job to provide coverage of these protests by seeking out, tweeting and re-tweeting videos while adding our own comments."

MEK keyboard warriors would also target journalists, academics and activists who favor dialogue rather than confrontation with Iran.

"Because of my platform, I have received a significant amount of Twitter attacks of this kind, but I am nowhere near being alone," Trita Parsi, author of, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy, said. "This is actually a very pervasive phenomena, the big victim of this is that we don't have a rational conversation about policy towards Iran."

Since access to Iran for journalists is restricted, social media can become a proxy for where the debate is going, leaving open the possibility that both state and non-state actors can use platforms like Twitter to create and manipulate trends in ways that suit their agenda.

"It's not like what happens on social media stays there any more," Marc Owen Jones said.

"It filters its way into mainstream media. There is so much propaganda, so much fake news that it would take very little to create a wave of what looks like popular Iranian opinion against the government that's not necessarily real."

*  *  *


Trita Parsi - Author, Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy'
Azadeh Moaveni - Fellow, New America
Marc Owen Jones - Lecturer in Middle East History, Exeter University
Hassan Heyrani - Former MEK member
Hassan Shahbaz - Former MEK member

Published:9/23/2018 8:55:49 AM
[World] Judge Jeanine Pirro Opening Statement on Brett Kavanaugh Accusation, Democrats' Reaction

In her Opening Statement on Saturday, Judge Jeanine Pirro weighed in on the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Published:9/23/2018 8:24:58 AM
[Media] GAME OVER! Kimberley Strassel shares WaPo reporter’s email further DISCREDITING Ford (and the media!)

Things seem to be getting worse and worse for Christine Blasey Ford. And for the Democrats. Ford’s allegations have almost completely faded in the zoo this whole process has become, Republicans bending over backward to accommodate Ford so she can testify, Ford hemming and hawing through her team of obviously biased and politically powerful attorneys, witnesses […]

The post GAME OVER! Kimberley Strassel shares WaPo reporter’s email further DISCREDITING Ford (and the media!) appeared first on

Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[Politics] Blasey Ford's Friend Denies Knowledge of Kavanaugh Attack A life-long friend of Brett Kavanaugh's accuser has denied any knowledge of the allegations against the Supreme Court justice nominee, CNN has reported. Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[Brett Kavanaugh] The story so far (Scott Johnson) Now that we have heard from Leland Ingham Keyser — what, no Keyser Söze? — NR’s Charles Cooke has provided this handy summary of the story so far: Well, we seem to have hit a brick wall. All four of the people named by Kavanaugh’s accuser have now given their accounts to the Senate. And all four of them have said either that Kavanaugh is innocent of all charges, or Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[Markets] Pompeo Vows "Series Of Actions" Against Venezuela's Maduro "In The Coming Days"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an incredible statement to Fox News on Friday, vowing to take "series of actions" in "the coming days" against Nicolas Maduro's government in Venezuela.

The threat was couched in terms of being in the "best interest" of Venezuelans, and though Pompeo didn't specify details, he said the US is “determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say.”

“I think you’ll see in the coming days a series of actions that continue to increase the pressure level against the Venezuelan leadership folks who are working directly against the best interest of the Venezuelan people,” Pompeo told Fox.

Image via Reuters

It is the broad nature of the threat that makes it unusual, but particularly the timing and context, as it follows the early August failed assassination attempt on Maduro which interrupted a live television broadcast from Caracas. Maduro had been speaking at a military parade when two explosive-laden drones said to be flying in the direct of the podium exploded in the area. 

In the aftermath the Venezuelan socialist leader blamed the United States and allied right-wing groups for being behind the attack, in a speech describing“They tried to assassinate me today," while blaming the attack on right-wing factions specifically connected to Columbia and Florida.

He claimed at the time that "several of those intellectually responsible and the financiers of this attack live in the United States, in the state of Florida," and called on U.S. President Donald Trump to "fight these terrorist groups".

The live broadcast on state television showing the assassination attempt:

Washington has steadily increased sanctions on Venezuela over the past number of months after Trump administration officials have accused the Maduro government of stamping out democracy and jailing opposition leaders. Maduro for his part has blamed the country's ills, specifically the collapsed economy and now worthless currency, on Washington plotting and subversion. 

Under Maduro the country is now beset by annual inflation running at 200,000 percent, resulting in basic stables and medicines disappearing from store shelves, resulting in a significant uptick in emigration for people with means. 

But lately a series of statement and stories in the media have served to fuel and confirm his suspicions that the US is planning covert regime change. Certainly Pompeo's latest comments will add to Maduro's fears that more major "plotting" is afoot.

Early this month the The New York Times revealed in an explosive story that the Trump White House held covert meetings with Venezuelan military coup plotters seeking to topple the Maduro government. The US had set up a "clandestine channel" which involved contacts with what were described as "rebellious officers" bent on bringing about regime change with the help of Washington.

The NYT report detailed several secret meetings between the Trump administration and military officers to talk about potential coup plans, but according to Times sources "the coup plans stalled". The meetings were spearheaded by someone simply described as a "career diplomat".

Pompeo's Friday warning, which likely hints at more economic warfare and sanctions to be leveled against Venezuela, comes ahead of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York next week. Maduro has not attended UN meetings since 2015 out of fear that he could be assassinated.

Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[worldNews] Iran Revolutionary Guards threaten to avenge military parade attack Iran's Revolutionary Guards vowed on Sunday to wreak "deadly and unforgettable" vengeance for a shooting attack on a military parade that killed 25 people, including 12 of their comrades, and Tehran accused Gulf Arab states of backing the gunmen.
Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[Markets] Married men earn more than everyone else (including single men) Yet there is virtually no difference in wages between married women and single workers of both sexes.
Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[Collaborative Consumption] Airbnb wants to give its hosts equity in its business Airbnb wants to give the homeowners who power its service the opportunity to own a piece of its business. That’s why, as Axios reports, the $31-billion-valued company has written to the SEC to ask if its rules around security ownership can be revised. Specifically, Airbnb is seeking a change to the SEC’s Rule 701 — which […] Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[] Sunday Morning Book Thread 09-23-2018 Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes. Oh, and we've got a new category of readers, escaped oafs and oafettes. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a... Published:9/23/2018 8:24:56 AM
[Markets] 'Fort Trump' Offer Given Serious Consideration: Poland To Host US Military Base

Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Actually, there is nothing new about Polish President Andrzej Duda urging President Donald Trump during a joint news conference on Sept. 18 to deploy more American troops and military equipment in Poland, suggesting that the US establish a permanent military base to be named "Fort Trump."

According to Politico, “This proposal outlines the clear and present need for a permanent US armored division deployed in Poland, Poland's commitment to provide significant support that may reach $1.5-2 billion by establishing joint military installations and provide for more flexible movement of US forces."

Poland has been pushing for a larger US permanent presence for a long time. The suggestion of a base was made in late May by the Defense Ministry. The US didn’t take it too seriously until President Duda’s visit to Washington and his talks with President Trump. It’s a change of attitude that’s truly new, because this time the US president said he was open to the idea, on the condition that Poland pay — something it is obviously willing to do.

Warsaw has already offered more than $2 billion to set up a base on Polish soil. Donald Trump promised that the offer was being taken “very seriously." He said Washington is “in discussions with numerous countries” about paying for American military bases. In his words, "We're looking at that more and more from the standpoint of defending really wealthy countries."

This is the first time the issue has been raised during a summit and actually publicly approved by the US administration, at a time when President Trump is ordering a review of the costs of basing US troops in Germany. He has complained about the expense of the American military presence in Germany and South Korea.

The US administration appreciates Poland’s contributions of over 2% to NATO, its decision to purchase American Patriot air-defense systems, and its staunch opposition to the Russian-European Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline.

In a clearly pointed gesture, Moscow’s expected reaction was not mentioned, but the presidents agreed that Russia was “aggressive.” “Russia has acted aggressively,” the US president said at the news conference, adding, “They respect force, they respect strength, as anyone does.”

Nor was NATO  mentioned, thus  making this a bilateral deal and chipping away at the unity of the alliance. The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act states that “in the current and foreseeable security environment,” NATO would not seek “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces” inside nations close to Russia. Previously the forces had been deployed on a rotational basis. The establishment of a permanent American base in Poland would be the kiss of death for that act, as well as for other provisions that are still preventing the already tense situation in Europe from deteriorating further. Nothing was said about it during the US-Polish summit.

A full, armored division is a huge force. Setting one up in Poland would mean a return to the darkest days of the Cold War. It would require reliable protection from the air. Additional Air Force units and missile-defense systems could be stationed in Poland and other countries, such as the Baltic states, which are also asking for more American military deployments on their soil. The foreign ministers of the Baltic states visited Washington in May to ask for a larger military presence within their borders.

While anti-US sentiments are growing stronger in Europe, Poland and the Baltic states are obviously united by their anti-Russian, pro-US stand. At the same time, the UK is boosting its defense cooperation with Poland through the Quadriga talks. In December 2017, those parties signed the Treaty on Defense and Security Cooperation. The UK-Poland Defense Action Plan is in the works and will be signed soon. The UK is to leave the EU in March, and the EU-Poland rift is growing, making Polexit a possibility. Those two have a lot in common.

With NATO and the EU teetering on the brink, a new military alliance may emerge at a time when the bonds between Europe and North America are under strain. The planned US deployment in Poland is just part of the process. Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland, non-NATO countries, are forming an alliance of their own with the United States.

The US sees Warsaw’s suggestion of a military base as a purely commercial enterprise. Turning a profit is a good thing, but with the NATO-Russia Founding Act no longer in effect, this will trigger an unfettered arms race. Evidently not all European states will support this policy. Unlike the days of the Cold War, the Western camp is divided into groups pursuing different interests and goals. The problems of migrants and other divisive issues, added to an arms race and a military standoff with a stronger Russia, may be too heavy a load for it to bear. The West will split, with its unity undermined once and for all. That will happen at a time when a West vs. China confrontation is looming on the horizon, a US-Chinese trade war is already in progress, and military preparations are underway as tensions continue to grow in the South China Sea.

Getting paid for defense may look like a lucrative deal but a substantial US military deployment in Poland will have far-reaching consequences. The US military will inevitably find itself overstretched, with commitments in the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and in Europe. No payments from other states or hikes in defense budgets will be able to help. The mood of the public in the pro-US European states may also change, once the voters become unhappy about their homelands being turned into prime targets for Russia’s armed forces as a result of a provocative policy that actually benefits no one.

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[The Blog] Sunday morning talking heads


The post Sunday morning talking heads appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/23/2018 7:24:36 AM
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