Anyone who thinks democracy doesn’t matter may be in for a rude shock later this year, when we know the result of America’s mid-term elections. The Deep State is on course to take control of Congress. If this happens, it will be the next step in a global trend of side-lining democracy in the West, driven in large part by American foreign policy. It has led to governments everywhere increasing control over their people, in an inversion of democratic principles.
It affects us all. Since the Twin Towers tragedy, American foreign policy has taken the lead in extending personal surveillance to every nation in the formerly free world. It has forced banks to divulge their customers’ private affairs in the name of preventing terrorism, crime and tax evasion. Governments that resist these moves have been destabilised, and independent agencies, such as the SWIFT banking system, have been forced to implement America’s foreign policy.
All countries have been made to go along with America’s imperatives, admittedly often willingly. Swiss banking confidentiality no longer exists, and over one hundred countries automatically swap financial information on their citizens and their businesses. The Americans routinely spy on their allies, as Mrs Merkel found out in 2015.
The erosion of democracy in America is a problem that was anticipated in its founding constitution. The rights enshrined in it are there to protect the individual from the Federal Government, yet the Federal Government chips away at those rights, as the founding fathers doubtless feared it would. The right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment, always a contentious issue, was framed by James Madison so that a local militia would be able to repel a standing [Federal] army. Americans still have the right to bear arms, due to the efforts of the National Rifle Association, but as the Bundy family discovered in Nevada, don’t expect the Federal government to respect your constitutional rights.
Few people think of freedom in these terms today, but a further erosion of democracy is an urgent issue facing American voters in November. It appears that a large number of former and current military and intelligence operatives are seeking nomination as Democrats for the 2018 mid-term elections. And if the Democrats succeed in getting a majority in the House of Representatives, which is the current prediction, they could comprise as much as half of the new members, in effect controlling Congress by holding the balance of power.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified 102 seats as “competitive” in its red-to-blue campaign programme. Eighty of these seats are vulnerable Republicans, and 22 are seats where the incumbent is retiring. 57 of the 221 candidates standing for the Democratic nomination in these 102 districts are current or past agents of the military-intelligence complex. And of those 102 districts, 44 have one of these candidates, 11 have two, and one has three. Furthermore, there are indications that the financial backers of the Democratic Party are supporting this influx of intelligence operatives, and that they are well-funded.
Why should we worry?
These candidates either represent or have strong links with the military-intelligence complex. This complex, the Deep State, has already regained a high degree of influence over the White House following the last Presidential election, to the point where it now appears to have gained control over foreign policy.
It also dictates homeland security. Unsatisfied with the degree of control it has over the White House, the Deep State now appears to be seeking to control Congress as well, by having politicians in its pocket on both sides of the House, thereby holding the balance of votes.
While the military-intelligence complex has had a tight grip on America’s foreign policy for some time, this is a new development. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the leading candidates for the Presidency, the CIA appears to have been managing the democratic process for decades, so that their preferred candidate wins. First, there was Papa Bush, ex-Director of the CIA. He was followed by Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas, where it has been alleged the CIA used Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport as a drop point for secret operations. Whether this was true or not, Clinton was followed by Bush Junior, when 9/11 became the justification for the second Iraq invasion. And there can be little doubt Obama quickly toed the CIA line with the appointment of a compliant Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
Following Obama, who was little more than a puppet president, Hillary was the anointed one, but then the voters rebelled and elected The Donald instead.
There can be no doubt that the chaos in the White House since Trump’s victory has reflected a fight behind the scenes for control of foreign policy, homeland security and military spending. It has been about the CIA’s ultimately successful attempts to ensure Trump backtracked on relevant electoral promises and complies with its own agenda. So far, Trump has backed down on Russia, North Korea, Iran and on military spending, suggesting he is well on the way to becoming the Deep State’s lackey. It now seems the CIA wants to control the balance of power in Congress.
This should be deeply troubling for Americans looking to draw a line under the erosion of their democracy. The US is already on its way to becoming a hidden dictatorship, where even the President is a captive of an unelected secret agency pursuing its own belligerent agenda. America’s allies should also be worried about taking direction from America’s intelligence community, no longer pursuing a balanced diplomatic itinerary, but one of geopolitical warmongering.
Seeking to control Congress is a logical extension of pre-existing Deep State policies. We have gone from the invention of weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to topple Saddam Hussein, to false-flag operations and other wars in the Middle East and Eurasia. And how much of the current anti-Russia rhetoric is concocted by American intelligence agencies, we may never know, but given the intelligence services’ stock in trade is disinformation and propaganda, it is hard to believe indisputable facts are involved.
There can be little doubt that moving missile systems towards Russia’s borders in the years after the collapse of the old Soviet Union has ensured America would continue to be seen by the Russians as an aggressor. The better, more democratic course, would have been to open borders to trade and cultural influence. And who knows, the need for a nationalistic strong man may not have arisen and Putin, if he continued in power in these altered circumstances, might be behaving very differently. But that would have meant the intelligence-military complex would have no purpose, beyond America’s diminishing domestic security.
Money is the root of this evil
For a long time, the senior operators at the top of the CIA must have felt that they are the masters of the human race. Regimes came and went at the CIA’s behest, but the CIA carried on regardless. To maintain this power, at a time when China and Russia are emerging as the powerhouses of Asia, requires more money, and lots of it. Money to bribe and subsidise foreign states: China is now the greatest source of funds for the world’s independent regimes. Money for technology and hardware: Russia’s military technology and missile capability is now potentially more advanced than America’s.
Therefore, the Deep State has a looming funding problem if it is to keep up with Russia and China on its accustomed terms. Government military funding is by means of the discretionary spending allocation that is set by Congress through the annual appropriations process. As well as that, there’s a classified amount allocated for the main intelligence departments, including the CIA. Taken together, Department of Defense and Overseas Contingency Operations, which includes funding wars on foreign soil, are budgeted at $886bn for 2019, a minor increase over 2018.
These amounts will have to be increased significantly for 2020, if the Deep State is to pursue its objectives. President Trump is now onside, but Congress will need to be compliant in order to ensure the funds required will be available. That appears to be the explanation why the Deep State is seeking to take control of Capitol Hill.
This will take the geopolitical conflict with China and Russia to a new level. Their own intelligence services will almost certainly be fully aware of the American Deep State’s congressional manoeuvres. It might explain the timing of Russia’s pre-emptive announcement, that it has missiles capable of delivering a punch at Mach 20. It might also explain China’s recent announcement of its intention to increase military spending, even though the timing is likely to have been set by the recent National Peoples’ Congress.
If the US military-intelligence complex manages to pack out Congress, it will be the killer blow for any democracy remaining in America. It will clear the field for a secret state organisation, which has shown little or no regard for human life and the rule of law, to accelerate its warlike agenda. It will have unfettered access to the national finances to accelerate its programme of global aggression, and damn the consequences for anyone else.
The stakes could hardly be higher.
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Japanese crypto regulators sent crypto prices spiraling lower earlier this month when they announced a heavy-handed crackdown on seven local cryptocurrency exchanges (and ordered month-long suspensions for two more).
As CoinTelegraph reports, the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has sent “punishment notices” to seven crypto exchanges and temporarily halted the activities of two more after a round of inspections prompted by January’s Coincheck hack, CNBC reports Thursday, March 8.
The FSA issued business improvement orders for a lack of “the proper and required internal control systems” to seven exchanges, including Coincheck, which was specifically cited as lacking a system for preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The crackdown followed a historic theft of more than $500 million of NEM tokens from the Japanese exchange CoinCheck, which had been attributed to the fact that the exchange stored its customers’ funds in a low-security wallet. Regulators also discovered that an employee at unlicensed exchange Bit Station had improperly accessed customers’ coins.
And yesterday, the FSA warned Binance, a popular Hong Kong based exchange that was launched last year after issuing an initial coin offering, that it must either obtain a license or cease operating in Japan.
Meanwhile, in what appears to be a bid to avoid scrutiny from the FSA, Japan’s 16 licensed cryptocurrency exchanges are planning to launch a self-regulatory body similar to FINRA.
Perhaps sensing an opening, Yahoo Japan is planning to launch a regulated bitcoin exchange, according to a Nikkei report published Friday. Instead of building the exchange from scratch, Yahoo Japan plans to acquire a 40% stake in BitARG Exchange Tokyo, one of the 16 licensed exchanges, and use its technology to build a new exchange, to be launched in April 2019, or later.
The shares will be purchased for 2 billion yen ($19 million) via BitARG’s subsidiary YJFX, a forex trading platform.
The news had no discernible impact on crypto prices, which continued to drift lower Friday morning.
Earlier this week, Japanese officials attending the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires defended cryptocurrencies, arguing they were not a threat to broader financial stability…
Unlike so many of his peers, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has refused to slam cryptocurrencies – instead choosing to highlight the crypto “wealth effect” which he said could have a positive impact on GDP.
Japan became the first G-10 country to adopt a comprehensive regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies last year when legislation recognizing bitcoin as money – and clearing the way for financial institutions to deal in crypto – was signed into law.
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40% of American adults are obese, a sharp increase from a decade earlier and a record high. according to federal health officials.
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sampling of 27,449 adults with a BMI between 30 and 40 found that among those aged 20 years and older, obesity went from 33.7% in 2007-2008 to 39.6% in 2015-2016. Severe obesity – those with a BMI above 40, jumped from 5.7% to 7.7% over the same period.
The increase in obesity among the 16,875 youth sampled was much lower, going from 16.8% a decade ago to 18.5% in 2015-2016. Still pretty bad.
For reference, this kid was considered fat in 1985…
The CDC has prepared handy list of statistics as well as maps of average obesity by state, as well as by race. In a nutshell, the south is a hotbed of obesity.
- Obesity decreased by level of education. Adults without a high school degree or equivalent had the highest self-reported obesity
- Young adults were half as likely to have obesity as middle-aged adults.
Obesity Prevalence in 2016 Varies Across States and Territories
- All states had more than 20% of adults with obesity.
- 35% or more adults had obesity in 5 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia).
- The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (32.0%), followed by the Midwest (31.4%), the Northeast (26.9%), and the West (26.0%).
Public health experts said that they were alarmed by the continuing rise in obesity among adults and by the fact that efforts to educate people about the health risks of a poor diet do not seem to be working. –Miami Herald
“Most people know that being overweight or obese is unhealthy, and if you eat too much that contributes to being overweight,” says Dr. James Krieger, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington and executive director of the advocacy group Healthy Food America. “But just telling people there’s a problem doesn’t solve it.”
Unfortunately, as The Herald notes, the recent reports on American “greatness” comes at a time when the food industry’s pushback against nutritional labeling was answered by a Trump administration proposal during recent NAFTA negotiations which would limit the ability for the U.S., Mexico and Canada to require prominent labels warning of health risks.
So transparency over nutrition looks to be shrinking…
Meanwhile, here’s a 2011 map of states in which U.S. adults are meeting aerobic and muscle-strengthening guidelines, courtesy of the CDC.
And as The Herald also notes, Americans are cramming their craws with more fast food than ever…
While the latest survey data do not explain why Americans continue to get heavier, nutritionists and other experts cite lifestyle, genetics and, most importantly, a poor diet as factors. U.S. fast-food sales rose 22.7 percent from 2012-2017, according to Euromonitor, while packaged-food sales rose 8.8 percent. –Miami Herald
In other words, Novo Nordisk is probably going to sell a lot of insulin in the coming decades, notwithstanding the development of a lab-grown pancreas or similar scientific breakthroughs.
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It should come as no surprise that Jamie Dimon makes a lot of money; after all, one of the trademark statements by the CEO of the bank that was first handed Bear Stearns on a silver platter for pennies on the dollar and just a few months later was bailed out by the government, is “that’s why I am richer than you.“
To underscore this, in 2015 Dimon, whose bank was forced to disclosure to clients and investors that it was caught rigging the FX market…
… officially became a billionaire, largely thanks to JPM’s soaring stock price.
“The odds are much, much lower for a bank CEO becoming a billionaire than a guy going to a hedge fund or private equity,” said Roy Smith, a professor at New York University Stern and a former Goldman partner who started on Wall Street in 1966. “The real lucre in this business has always been on the transactional side. The CEOs of Wall Street have to deal with litigation, regulation and the relatively short tenures you have at the top of the pile.”
However, the odds soar when JPM, like every other bank, got a multi-billion bailout courtesy of US taxpayers after it – and its other bank peers – had taken on so much risk the entire system imploded. One wonders what Jamie’s net worth would have been had Americans not collectively “decided” it is time to make Jamie the richest bank CEO currently to have a job.
And while one can debate “what would have been” until one is blue in the face, there is no debating that last year Jamie Dimon went from stinking rich to stinking richer, by $28.3 million to be precise.
None of the above is new. What may comes as news to some, however, is that Dimon makes 364 times the median JP Morgan employee who received $77,799 last year, including firm-paid benefits. In other words, in one day Jamie Dimon earned as much as a typical JPM employee made in one whole year.
As the FT breaks down, “Dimon’s total award of $28.3m included perks such as personal use of corporate aircraft ($73,921), personal use of cars ($29,848) and the cost of “residential and related security” ($48,259). But the bulk of his pay came in stock awards ($21.5m), bumped up after a year of record annual net income of $26.5bn, excluding the effects of the tax reform, on record revenues of $104bn.”
Third in line is Charlie Scharf of Bank of New York Mellon – Dimon’s protégé, who raked in nearly $20 million after becoming BNYs CEO last July. Scharf’s payout puts him at 354x the average BNY Mellon employee.
The median ratio for all listed U.S. banks is 135x according to Autonomous.
The disclosures of pay multiples, mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, finally came into effect for all listed US companies this year. Critics say such figures are a crude metric, telling investors very little about the composition of a company’s workforce or the particular ways in which it has identified the “median” worker. But advocates say the tool is necessary as a way to restrain pay for top executives, which has consistently outpaced gains for lower-ranked workers. –FT
The pay ratio figures – mandated by the Dodd-Frank act, were arrived at by taking its top 10 most populous countries – which constitute approximately 97% of JPMorgan’s employee headcount of 253,500. Salaries of employees hired during 2017 were annualized.
As FT reports, JP Morgan began using so-called “performance share units” as part of variable pay for management following a 2015 challenge by investor advocacy groups calling for a stronger tie between compensation and performance. JP Morgan’s three-person compensation committee led by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond said “In determining Mr. Dimon’s compensation, the independent members of the Board took into account the Firm’s strong performance in 2017 and through the cycle, across four broad categories: Business Results; Risk, Controls & Conduct; Client/Customer Focus; and Teamwork & Leadership.”
Dimon has never sold a share of JP Morgan in his 14-year career at the bank. In fact, as FT reports, sometimes he buys more during dips, and famously purchased 500,000 JPM shares in February 2016, the so-called “Dimon Bottom“, just before the Shanghai Accord, which sent global stocks soaring, and more than doubled the value of his $26.6 million investment.
* * *
Of course, being a shrewd investor with a remarkable sense of imminent central bank bailouts – or simply the recipient thereof – is not the only reason why Jamie makes tens of millions each year and is a billionaire. Here are some other reason why, from the bank which has paid hundreds of millions in legal settlements and criminal charges over the years:
Misleading CDO Investments
- JP Morgan fined $153.6 million
- Settled on 6/21/2011
- Case Details
The SEC settled with JP Morgan after it was discovered that the company misled investors on the complexity of a number of CDOs that were being offered. Specifically, the firm failed to notify investors that it had taken short positions in more than half of the assets bundled in said CDOs. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing or deny the allegations, but it agreed to pay $18.6 million in disgorgement, $2 million in prejudgment interest, and $133 million as a penalty. It was also required that the company change how it reviews and approves certain mortgage securities.
Anticompetitive Conduct in Municipal Bonds
- JP Morgan fined $228 million
- Settled on 7/7/2011
- Case Details
JP Morgan settled an anticompetitive case with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in which it was forced to admit wrongdoing and knowledge of its illegal actions. “By entering into illegal agreements to rig bids on certain investment contracts, JPMorgan and its former executives deprived municipalities of the competitive process to which they were entitled” said Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney of the case. The charges stemmed from actions the company took from 2001 to 2006.
Foreclosure Abuses and “Robo-Signing”
- JP Morgan fined $5.29 billion
- Settled on 2/9/2012
- Case Details
This gargantuan settlement came as the DOJ fined the five largest mortgage servicers in the nation. The entire suit was for $25 billion and was centered around “robo-signing” affidavits in foreclosure proceedings, “deceptive practices in the offering of loan modifications; failures to offer non-foreclosure alternatives before foreclosing on borrowers with federally insured mortgages; and filing improper documentation in federal bankruptcy court.” All banks involved, including JP Morgan, have until 2/9/2015 to comply with the settlement [see also The Unofficial Dividend.com Guide to Being an Investor].
More Mortgage Misrepresentation
- JP Morgan fined $269.9 million
- Settled on 11/16/2012
- Case Details
Settled with the SEC, this case focused on JP Morgan misstating the delinquency status of mortgage loans that were collateral for residential mortgage-backed securities in which JP Morgan was the underwriter. It was found that investors lost $37 million on undisclosed delinquent loans. “Misrepresentations in connection with the creation and sale of mortgage securities contributed greatly to the tremendous losses suffered by investors once the U.S. housing market collapsed” said Robert Khuzami, Director of SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
Improper Foreclosures Pt. 2
- JP Morgan fined $1.8 billion
- Settled in 01/2013
- Case Details
Continuing from the 2/9/2012 fine, JP Morgan tacked on another $1.8 billion to its already massive fine of $5.29 billion, totaling just over $7 billion. Combined, it is the company’s largest fine ever up to that point. That record would not stand for long, as the latter half of 2013 had other plans for the financial blue chip.
Electricity Trading Scandal
- JP Morgan fined $410 million
- Settled on 7/30/2013
- Case Details
This fine was brought on by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as it was discovered that JP Morgan was manipulating energy markets in California and the Midwest. In total, $125 million of unjust profits were returned and $285 million came as a civil penalty to be sent back to the U.S. Treasury.
Illegal Credit Card Practices
- JP Morgan fined $389 million
- Settled on 9/19/2013
- Case Details
This fine was the result of JP Morgan deceiving customers into signing up for costly, unnecessary services when opening a new credit card. Broken down, $309 million of that figure was dedicated to repaying consumers, there was a $60 million civil penalty, and a separate $20 million penalty from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The London Whale
- JP Morgan fined $920 million
- Settled on 9/19/2013
- Case Details
One of the most infamous cases over the last few years is the “London Whale,” which refers to two former JP Morgan traders who committed fraud to cover up massive losses (approximately $6 billion) in a trading portfolio. “JPMorgan failed to keep watch over its traders as they overvalued a very complex portfolio to hide massive losses” said George S. Canellos, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. The SEC slapped JP Morgan with the fine and also forced the firm to admit to wrongdoing.
The Fannie and Freddie Fines
- JP Morgan fined $5.1 billion
- Settled on 10/25/2013
- Case Details
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) acted as a conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in this settlement. The fine included a $4 billion charge to address infractions of both state and federal laws while another $1.1 billion went to Fannie and Freddie themselves – $670 million to the former and $480 million to the latter. Yet another case that was based on mortgage-related securities at its core, which is something of a theme for the company.
Institutional Mortgage Securities
- JP Morgan fined $4.5 billion
- Settled on 11/15/2013
- Case Details
No surprises here, yet another case where JP Morgan was accused of shelling out less-than-stable mortgages. This time, however, the focus was on 21 institutional investors as opposed to a mass of retail investors. The $4.5 billion settlement covers the losses incurred from instruments that were sold between 2005 and 2008. Shortly before this case settled, the company disclosed for the first time that it had $23 billion set aside for legal expenses and penalties.
The Big One: Misleading “Toxic Mortgages”
- JP Morgan fined $13 billion
- Settled on 11/19/2013
- Case Details
In the largest fine (of any single company) in corporate history, JP Morgan settled for $13 billion in November of 2013. The charges stemmed from misleading investors on what regulators dubbed “toxic mortgages.” The settlement also dictated that the company had to admit wrongdoing in that it knowingly misled investors on the quality of these securities. This has been one of the few times in recent memory that the company has actually offered a “mea culpa.” Of the $13 billion, $9 billion will be used to settle federal and state civil claims while $4 billion will be used as relief to aid consumers harmed by the unlawful practice.
Libor Rigging Scandal
- JP Morgan fined $108 million
- Settled on 12/4/2013
- Case Details
The alleged manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) was one of the biggest European cases in recent memory. When the dust finally settled, it was found that a number of banks, including Citigroup (C ) and JP Morgan were involved. JP Morgan settled for $108 million as the investigation could not find any evidence that management had knowledge of the actions of the two traders who committed the act [see also The Ten Commandments of Dividend Investing].
- JP Morgan fined $1.7 billion
- Settled on 1/6/2014
- Case Details
The Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme is one of the most infamous in the history of the investing world. After faking portfolio gains and eventually losing billions for his clients, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison (after pleading guilty) and had to forfeit $17.179 billion. His scheduled release from Federal prison is on 11/14/2139. The high profile case cost JP Morgan $1.7 billion along with an onslaught of negative press.
- JP Morgan fined $1.34 Billion
- Settled on 11/21/2014
- Case Details
JP Morgan joined the likes of UBS, Citigroup, and Royal Bank of Scotland in being fined for currency manipulation and collusion-like efforts on the part of the financial institutions. Investigations revealed instant messages between traders of the institutions showing plans to buy and sell currencies after market close in order to manipulate foreign exchanges in their favor. JP Morgan was fined $996 million by U.S. and U.K. regulators along with an additional $350 million dollar fine from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
And so on, and so on, and so on…
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Western society is flirting with a disturbing trend where people are being denied the time-honored ‘presumption of innocence’. The same undemocratic method is even being used against nations in what is becoming a dangerous game.
Imagine the following scenario: You are a star football player at the local high school, with a number of college teams hoping to recruit you. There is even talk of a NFL career down the road. Then, overnight, your life takes an unexpected turn for the worse. The police show up at your house with a warrant for your arrest; the charges: kidnapping and rape. The only evidence is your word against the accuser’s. After spending six years behind bars, the court decides you were wrongly accused.
That is the incredible story of Brian Banks, 26, who was released early from prison in 2012 after his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, admitted that she had fabricated injurious claims against the young man.
Many other innocent people, however, who have been falsely accused in the West for some crime they did not commit, are not as fortunate as Brian Banks. Just this week, for example, Ross Bullock was released from his private “hell” – and not due to an accuser with a guilty conscience, but by committing suicide.
“After a ‘year of torment’… Bullock hanged himself in the garage of the family home, leaving a note revealing he had ‘hit rock bottom’ and that with his death ‘I’m free from this living hell,’” the Daily Mail reported.
There is a temptation to explain away such tragic cases as isolated anomalies in an otherwise sound-functioning legal system. After all, mistakes are going to happen regardless of the safeguards. At the same time, however, there is an irresistible urge among humans to believe those people who claim to have been victimized – even when the evidence suggests otherwise. Perhaps this is due to the powerful emotional element that works to galvanize the victim’s story. Or it could be due to the belief that nobody would intentionally and unjustly condemn another human being. But who can really say what is inside another person’s heart? Moreover, it can’t be denied that every time we attempt to hunt down and punish another people, tribe, sex, religion, etc. for some alleged crimes against victims, there is a real tendency among Westerners to get carried away with moralistic zeal to the point of fanaticism.
A case in point is last year’s scandal that rocked the entertainment industry as the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually assaulting numerous women over the span of a 30-year career. Eventually, over 80 females, emboldened by the courage displayed by their peers, drove Weinstein straight out of Hollywood and into the rogue’s gallery of sexual predators. Few could deny this was a positive thing.
But then something strange began to happen that has been dubbed the ‘Weinstein effect.’ Powered by the social media #MeToo movement, women from all walks of life began to publicly accuse men for all sorts of sexual violations, some from decades ago. Certainly, many of the claims were legitimate. However, in many cases they were not. Yet the mainstream media, which has taken great delight in providing breathless details of every new accusation, has shown little interest in pursuing those stories of men who went on to suffer divorce, ruined reputations, and the loss of jobs without so much as a fair hearing in a court of law.
As far as the mainstream media is concerned, and to be fair they don’t seem that concerned, the victim’s story is the only story that matters. Indeed, it was almost as if the victim had become judge, jury and executioner. This is, in reality, just one step from mob rule, and woe to anyone who questions the motives of the movement, as French star Catherine Deneuve discovered.
The (female) writer, D.C. McAllister, described the poisonous “environment of suspicion” that has beset relations between men and women.
“While women’s willingness to hold men accountable for criminal sexual behavior is to be applauded, the scorched-earth approach we are seeing today is destructive because it undermines trust,” McAllister wrote in The Federalist.
“When anything from a naive touch during a photo shoot to an innocent attempt at a kiss is compared to rape and sexual abuse, we are not healing society but infecting relationships with the poison of distrust.”
In other words, neither men nor women have gained anything from this otherwise-well-intended campaign against sexual improprieties. However, this is not the first time the West has allowed raw emotions to knock the train of progress right off the tracks. History books are replete with examples of Western campaigns rising out of sheer mass hysteria. But at least in those wild times there was still some semblance of justice, complete with trials and investigations. Now compare that with our ‘modern’ times, when all it took for the United States to win approval for an illicit attack on Iraq was for Colin Powell to shake a vial of faux anthrax in front of the UN General Assembly.
With these historical hiccups in mind, it is possible to argue that the West has truly forgotten the lessons of history because they are certainly repeating them today.
By way of example, consider where the great bulk of US troops are encamped today – in and around the Middle East – and then ask yourself how they got there.
The answer is by hook and by crook, and not a little public manipulation and chicanery. That is because, in our insatiable desire to defend victims – the good guys, we are told – we are allowing ourselves to ignore crucial evidence while placing blind faith in what we are being told is the truth. Clearly that has not been the case to date.
From the accusations that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction to launch against innocent people, to the current claims that the Syrian government of Bashar Assad is using chemical weapons against his own people, the West is gambling that claims based on zero evidence will always work to fulfill ulterior motives. So far, the ploy seems to be working with the gullible public, but sooner or later truth will catch up, indeed, as truth usually does.
Just this month, for example, an assassination attempt was made against Sergei Skripal – a former double agent who had moved to Salisbury, England following a spy-swap in 2010. Any guesses as to who the British authorities have ruled – without a trial, evidence or motivating factor – is the main culprit? Yes, Russia. Yet, even the usually loyal British press has started expressing reservations over the dubious claims.
This should come as no surprise since the UK, a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), has staunchly refused to provide samples of the alleged nerve agent to Russia for analysis. Why would it do that? Would anyone be surprised if this investigation goes the same way it did for all those Russian athletes who were, unjustly, banned from the Winter Olympic Games this year?
Or perhaps the same way it went following the 2016 US presidential elections, when Russia was accused of meddling on behalf of Donald Trump – zero evidence to back up the slanderous accusations, which are responsible for putting US-Russia relations into a free fall.
In conclusion, the unsightly spectacle of Western capitals backtracking on legal precedent – from domestic cases to international – makes it all the more clear why it is so anxious to win back the media mountaintops – it has no evidence whatsoever to support the reasons behind its increasingly illicit behavior. It is therefore incumbent upon them to own the narrative, as well as the justice system. How long this democratic charade can last is anybody’s guess.
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The government of South Korea is trying to curb a “culture of working overtime,” and has mandated that federal employees must power down their computers by 20:00 (8 p.m.) on Fridays and leave work, in the first of three phases of the program.
South Koreans work some of the longest hours in the world – with government employees clocking an average of 2,739 hours per year, around 1000 more than workers in other developed countries which have an average of 1,763, according to Yonhap.
According to a survey by the Ministry of Personnel and Management, the average overtime worked in 2017 was 70.4 hours per month for around-the-clock employees, and 31.5 hours per month for ordinary workers.
Officials of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries had the most overtime hours with 158.3 hours a month, followed by the National Fire Agency with 144.8 hours, the Coast Guard with 132.2 hours and the Korea Customs Service with 110.1 hours. –Yonhap
The mandated 20:00 Friday shutdowns will begin on March 30, while the second phase in April will add mandated shutoffs at 19:30 on the second and fourth Friday of theat month.
After May, the program will mandate shutoffs at 19:00 (7 p.m.) hours every Friday.
While South Korea’s emphasis on a work-life balance is commendable, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), 67.1% of government workers have asked to be exempt from the forced lights-out.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s national assembly passed a law earlier this month to cut the maximum weekly working hours from 68 to 52.
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Central bank credit that supports markets – is not just creation of the Fed, but by central banks and institutions around the world colluding together. Global markets are too deeply connected these days to consider the Fed in isolation.
Since last month’s correction, the world has been watching the Fed because its policies have global implications. And worldwide sell-offs sent a clear sign to Fed Chair Powell to relax with the rate hikes.
When fears arise that central bank QE will recede on one side of the world, we see more volatility and rumors of hawkishness.
To counter those fears, there will be a move toward dovish policy on the other side of the world.
Central banks operate in collusion. When the Fed signals it is raising rates, or markets over-react negatively to the threat, another central bank steps in. By colluding, other central banks offer even more dark money-QE to keep the party going.
The net result is a propensity toward the status quo in global monetary policy: a bullish, asset bubble-inflating bias in the stock markets and caution in the bond markets.
Here’s what’s going on with some of the most powerful central bankers right now, starting with Japan…
While U.S. markets were correcting earlier this month, Japan’s financial benchmark, the Nikkei 225 index fell more than 1,200 points. At the same time, the rumors of Japan’s central bank curbing its dark money-QE programs are just that.
While investors have speculated that the BoJ could be moving towards an exit from dark money policy (despite the BOJ denying this), we know that central banks are too scared of the outcomes.
In an economic pinch, the Bank of Japan (BoJ), will keep dark money flowing.
Confirming my premise, when Japanese Government Bond prices were dipping too fast, the BoJ announced “unlimited” buying of long-term Japanese government bonds. This is simply the continuation of the policy the BoJ already has in place.
It was also, as CNBC reported, “the first time in more than six months that the BOJ has conducted special operations to buy bonds to achieve the yields it wants to see…”
That’s a clear sign of more manipulation of the bond market. And now we have confirmation that Japan likely has more dark money coming…
For the past year, there have been media rumblings that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe would relieve current Bank of Japan (BoJ) head, Haruhiko Kuroda. The dark money maven was set to end his term on April 8.
Seeing through the media craze, I have repeatedly detailed that it would not be the case. Abe and Kuroda go together like peanut butter and jelly. Abe specifically chose Kuroda to implement a massive dark money strategy in what has been referred to as a monetary “bazooka.”
A piece in Japan Today confirms this view. It concludes that 73-year-old Kuroda will stick around for a second five-year term, through 2023. So as the article notes, “He would be the first BoJ governor to serve two terms in half a century.”
Kuroda has implemented the most aggressive dark money manufacturing on the planet since taking the helm of the BOJ in 2013. Prime Minister Abe has become the longest-standing Japanese prime minister in years with the success of the snap elections he called for last fall.
Logically, why would he seek to end a partnership that is lifting the Japanese markets and making its economy appear rosy? (Though as in the U.S., wage growth and consumption remain tepid.)
With core inflation rising just 0.5% last year, well below Kuroda’s 2% target, you should expect that he’ll be pumping even more dark money into Japanese markets. For investors that means more opportunities in Japanese stocks. Currently, I’m focused on sectors related to the 2020 Olympics and the infrastructure projects that come with it.
Japan offers us a clear roadmap. Financial markets in Japan are clearly addicted to dark money.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, on Feb. 5, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi told a European parliamentary hearing in Strasbourg, France, that the ECB can’t yet “declare victory” in its fight to resurrect inflation.
To calm financial markets, he noted, “Monetary policy will evolve in a fully data-dependent and time-consistent manner.” That means more central bank intervention to bolster markets when they buckle.
Draghi espoused some concerns for the strong euro. Draghi’s euro concerns translate into keeping interest rates lower for longer as a way to cool off euro strength. That means more dark money.
In the U.K., the jobless rate rose for the first time since 2016 and wage growth isn’t hitting the Bank of England’s 3% target. Here are the implications: The Bank of England, despite having hinted at tightening, can keep rates where they are given that elements of economic weakness still prevail. More dark money could be coming if economic conditions warrant it.
Of course, one of the most powerful dark money leaders is the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde.
That’s because the French leader manages the organization that directs an internationally accepted currency basket and coordinates global monetary policy. Lagarde provided a highly optimistic message at the recent World Economic Forum amongst the elites in Davos. Now she is attempting to step in again to sooth markets.
As one report reveals, while speaking at another elite gathering on global business in Dubai, Lagarde said, “I’m reasonably optimistic because of the landscape we have at the moment.” She also warned that, “we cannot sit back and wait for growth to continue as normal.”
When Lagarde speaks, we should listen. While it is true that global markets sank after the optimism at Davos, the elites have quickly pivoted. Their optimism and associated perception of inflation served to add to market volatility and contributed to the correction. So, they’ve now dialed it back.
“I’m ringing not the alarm signal, but the strong encouragement and warning signal,” Lagarde told an ultra-wealthy Dubai audience.
What central bankers don’t want you to know is that after a decade of cheap money policy to fix the worlds’ economies – they’ve only inflated asset bubbles. That’s why Lagarde repeated last month’s IMF forecast, singing the chorus that the global economy would hit 3.9% growth in 2018 and again in 2019.
Don’t expect this to happen.
But Lagarde’s dark money leadership wasn’t completely oblivious to a developing crisis. Of course, she tried to cast away blame from central bank collusion to other scapegoats. She noted, “We need to anticipate where the next crisis will be. Will it be shadow banking? Will it be cryptocurrencies?”
What this statement should signal to you is that central bankers are hitting their limits. They don’t want you to know how ineffective dark money policies have been for real economic growth.
The concept of central bank collusion is not one that is built upon conspiracy theories. To the contrary, the alliances make perfect sense and operate publicly.
If the Fed rate hike this week teaches us anything, its that Jerome Powell will eventually embrace the same unlimited easy money policy on any sign of market weakness, while the global web of central banks remain as omnipresent as ever.
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Earlier in the week, Nomi appeared on Lance Roberts’ “Real Investment Hour” to discuss the Fed’s rate hike decision this week and the end result of the ongoing surge in debt combined with continued Central Bank interventions.
Spoiler Alert: “It Ain’t Good.”
Nomi, is also graciously giving our readers an “exclusive 40% discount” on her upcoming book “Collu$ion” just by clicking here: Pre-Order “COLLU$ION” Now – 40% OFF
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Last year, North America lost its status as the region with the highest number of millionaires and billionaires to the Asia-Pacific region – largely due to the rapidly rising inequality in nominally communist China.
…But even though China is rapidly catching up to the US in terms of the number of ultra-wealthy individuals (not to mention the exasperating breadth of wealth inequality), strong stock-market performance and rising real-estate valuations caused the ranks of American millionaires to expand by a solid 700,000, according to data from the Spectrum Group, via CNBC.
According to Spectrum, the US now has more than 11 million millionaire households, up more than 6% from 2016. The number of new millionaires and the total population of millionaires set records. By Spectrum’s definition, millionaire households are those with at least $1 million in investible assets – not including their primary residence.
Of the factors that contributed to this rise, soaring equity values had perhaps the biggest impact. Excluding dividends, the S&P 500 climbed 19% last year.
“It was the equity markets that really pulled these folks up,” said George Walper, president of Spectrem Group. “This is the group that has the most equity holdings, so the biggest change is at the high end.”
Meanwhile, members of the American working class, who have little or no money invested in the equity market and often rent instead of owning their own homes, found it harder than ever before to support their families and pay their bills without going deeper into debt…
In an interesting twist, the impact of bitcoin’s torrid rally (and subsequent crash) was conspicuously absent from the Spectrum Group report.
Of course, this is hardly a new trend. To wit: the number of millionaire households has nearly doubled. In 2009, there were just under 6 million millionaire households. It’s grown every year since, and is now well past the precrisis level of 9 million millionaires.
As the old saying goes, “it takes money to make money.” That’s especially true for America’s high net worth individuals. Because as Spectrum points out, the richer the individual, the more wealth they saw created this year.
The number of households worth $5 million to $25 million grew by 84,000, to 1.35 million households. The number of households worth more than $25 million jumped by 10 percent, increasing by 16,000 to a total of 172,000.
And barring an all-out stock-market collapse – which, if you listen to Bill Gross, Scott Minerd and handful of other investing luminaries is entirely within the realm of possibility – the wealthiest Americans are bound to see their wealth multiply again in 2018.
“I think people are pretty optimistic,” he said. “But a lot has to do with whether the Democrats take the House and whether we see changes in the tax law. But right now I could see a similar increase next year.”
In addition to their investment returns, the rich also stand to benefit from a Trump tax reform package that, by many estimates, allots more than 80% of its returns to the top 1%…
Meanwhile, working and middle class Americans are being forced to accept an ever-shrinking piece of the pie…
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Submitted by Denison Smith,
Recently, Elon Musk – the same “political grandstander” that once stormed out of President Trump’s advisory councils and said he doesn’t have the right character to be the leader of the free world – tweetstormed the president about having China impose the “same [low automobile] import duties, ownership constraints & other factors” as the United States.
Funny thing, though: Musk is doing more to empower the Chinese government than nearly anyone else in the country. The quality of his products emits more of a “Made in China” feel than they do a “Made in America” one, and their shocking unreliability is risking our diplomatic standing on the global sphere.
Last week, CNBC reported that current and former employees of Musk’s Tesla have found the company is “manufacturing a surprisingly high ratio of flawed parts and vehicles.” One of the company’s workers predicted that 40 percent of the parts flowing through Tesla’s Fremont factory require repair, while another said that the “defect rate is so high that it’s hard to hit production targets.”
Although Tesla’s travails may disappoint the 400,000 customers that have reserved Model 3s, at least these issues don’t empower rogue nations like China at our expense. That’s a problem that SpaceX – Musk’s aerospace company – and its Deep State backers are already instigating.
Around the same time that Tesla’s quality control problems were exposed, SpaceX’s unreliability was highlighted by NASA in a public summary report of its high-profile 2015 explosion.
The document stated that Musk’s brainchild implemented rocket parts “without adequate screening or testing of the industrial grade part, without regard to the manufacturer’s recommendations for a 4:1 factor of safety when using their industrial grade part in application, and without proper modeling or adequate load testing of the part under predicted flight conditions.”
We can only assume that the succeeding failed missions SpaceX was a part of were due to similar degrees of carelessness. Disturbing findings from the Defense Department’s Inspector General and NASA’s Aersopace Safety Advisory Panel don’t help to alleviate these negative speculations.
Despite knowing about the ostensible wounds Musk has imposed on our national security, last Thursday Pentagon staffers provided SpaceX with yet another near-$300 million contract to launch a military GPS satellite – a brow-raising decision that may have significant implications on our national security.
Upon hearing the news, leaders from the People’s Republic of China must have laughed with glee. By providing more high-priced contracts to SpaceX, American appropriators are exacerbating the growing disparity in space readiness between China and the United States. That’s alarming because according to Rick Fisher, the country’s goal is “to achieve control of low earth orbit in order to defeat the United States on Earth.”
China recognizes that the United States’ space presence is one of the things that make it the dominant military power that it is today. The country’s political class rightfully believes that gaining an edge in space will give them the ability to gauge what its adversaries are doing. Defeating the United States in the upper reaches will allow China to gain improved leverage over matters relating to international economics and diplomacy, and, perhaps eventually, make it the world’s newest superpower. That’s why the country has proposed tripling their annual spending on space investment – it will do whatever it takes to get ahead.
As things stands now, China is projected to climb ahead of the United States. The country is currently expected to reach Mars within a few years at a time when our government is becoming increasingly dependent on explosion-inducing, delay-ridden companies like SpaceX to get us there by 2022.
While China’s leaders emit rays of confidence about their abilities, contractors like Musk are remarking that the prospect of their companies not causing launch pad damage should be considered a national win. It’s no wonder why the US Air Force has expressed concern about what it sees as the US’s “50-year journey” to reach the stars, which pales in comparison to China’s fast-paced “ten-year plan.”
Utilizing SpaceX to the extent that the United States has over the past four years has likely already set the country back significantly in the international space race. China’s ambition and high bar for rapid success is not leaving us with much more of a failure cushion.
There are more reliable contractors available. It’s crucial that the government uphold standards that will propel our program forward. The strength of our national defense is counting on it.
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Denison Smith is chairman of Longevity Health Foundation, a new start-up devoted to lowering health care costs through research and education. Smith is a former assistant attorney general for the state of Idaho, staffer for Sen. James McClure (R-Idaho), and trustee of the Reason Foundation. He has over three decades of experience in investment banking, including as the former regional vice president of the Pioneer Fund of Boston, the fourth oldest mutual fund in the United States.
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