As Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service. Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country’s democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by the civil war that’s seen pro-Russian separatists seize control of two regions in eastern Ukraine. Lawmakers must now disclose their assets and wealth in an online database.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2017.
When there is an epic financial crash in the U. S. that collapses century old Wall Street institutions and brings about the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, one would think that the root causes would be chiseled in stone by now. But when it comes to the 2008 crash, expensive corporate media real estate is happy to allow bogus theories to go unchallenged by editors. What is happening ever so subtly over time is that the unprecedented greed, corruption and unrestrained manufacture of fraudulent securities by iconic brands on Wall Street that actually caused the crash are getting a gentle rewrite. The insidious danger of this is that Wall Street is never reformed or adequately regulated – that it remains a skulking financial monster with its unseen tentacles wrapped tightly around every economic artery of American life, retaining its ever present strangulation potential. On August 10 of this year, Wall Street Journal reporter James Mackintosh penned the following astonishing sentence: ‘The global financial crisis began 10 years ago this week, when a French bank suspended three money-market funds. What savers thought was money turned out to be merely credit, and the realization rapidly trashed U. S. money-market funds and the global banking system.’
There’s a very simple principle that helps form the bedrock of any prosperous and civilized society. When people do bad things, they should be punished for it. The moment that rule is turned upside down, and the wicked and weak are rewarded for their behavior, society will crumble. There’s no way around it. Every society that rewards bad behavior is on the fast track to destruction. You might think that would be obvious, but there are plenty of nations throughout history that have fallen under the weight of corruption, in one form or another. Our species has made this mistake countless times. We never learn, and we always pay for it. Next on the chopping block of history is Denmark, where the police in the city of Aarhus are now essentially rewarding people who have been accused of being terrorists.
This post was published at shtfplan on August 14th, 2017.
Senator Marco Rubio may have been targeted for assassination by one of Venezuela’s most powerful lawmakers and long time secretive head of the country’s security services. According to the Miami Herald, the US Department of Homeland Security disseminated a sensitive memo to federal agencies last month which identified Diosdado Cabello Rondon as behind the “order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,” while also noting the intelligence to be unverified as ‘no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far.” Cabello Rondon is widely believed to be Venezuela’s second most-powerful man and head of the country’s military and security services. US media has referred to him as “the Frank Underwood of Venezuela” (from the TV series House of Cards) for his well-known history of corruption, suspicion of drug trafficking, and Machiavellian plotting against rivals and involvement in pro-Chavez military crackdowns. As a behind the scenes influential military leader he’s kept both the late president Hugo Chavez and current socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro in power.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
Japan’s economy grew by 1% sequentially, and 4% on an annualized basis in Q2, smashing expectations of a 2.5% print and well above the upward revised 1.5% in the first quarter; it was also the the highest quarterly growth since a 5% print in Q2 2015, Japan’s Cabinet Office reported, and the 6th consecutive quarter of expansion for recently embattled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has plunged in the polls following a series of corruption scandals.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
Here is what Donald Trump should call for this morning. This is the right time to up his ante in the struggle against the Lgenpresse. All his efforts to fix the sinking ship of the US society are in vain with a breach below the waterline. If the Fake News applauds every jerk in a mantle who stops a presidential decree, the jerks will multiply and president’s decrees will be worth what? A collector’s rarity. A quirky exhibit from the days of Donald Trump’s short-lived presidency. The fake news media ridiculed the POTUS so completely, that this big man with big orange hair shrunk down to Lilliput’s finger. Trump can’t get out of his disposition by foreign policy acts. Forget about North Korea. It is a big hedgehog: a lot of bother to catch and kill, many prickles and no meat. The only thing Kim wants to tell Trump is ‘I am not a soft target, go look elsewhere’. Is North Korea dangerous? Only for those who want to step on it. P G Wodehouse’s Mr Mulliner argued with anti-smoker lobby: ‘They come and tell me that if they place two drops of nicotine on the tongue of a dog the animal instantly dies and when I ask them if they have ever tried the childishly simple device of not placing nicotine on the dog’s tongue, they have nothing to reply They are nonplussed. They go away mumbling something about never having thought of that before.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 13, 2017.
According to an exclusive report from the Daily Caller, Representative Brian Babin (R-TX) has apparently circulated a letter in DC asking for congressmen to sign onto an effort to force special counsel Robert Mueller testify publicly in an open congressional hearing. Among other things, Babin says that Congress has a right to question the independence of Mueller’s investigative staff and the scope of his investigation. Babin’s letter, which was obtained by TheDC, was sent out to congressmen Thursday and asks for members to cosign a letter he plans to send to House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte and Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley. ‘Every nominee for United States Attorney must be confirmed by the Senate, a process that brings to the forefront any concerns regarding the nominee’s ability to hold their position in a decent and impartial manner. However, as Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team of lawyers investigate our very own president, we as a nation wait in the dark with very little information about those given this great authority,’ Babin wrote in the letter to his fellow representatives. Babin writes in the letter that there are ‘serious concerns’ about conflicts of interest with regard to members of Mueller’s counsel who donated ‘generously’ to Democrats or even represented Clinton herself.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 11, 2017.
Written by Patrick Lawrence of The Nation, It is now a year since the Democratic National Committee’s mail system was compromised – a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment. The president’s ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia’s energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation’s economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War’s worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole. All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that ‘hack’ and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 10, 2017.
A frequently repeated claim is that loopholes in the tax code are ‘inefficient.’ A more efficient tax, economists say, is a flat and all-encompassing tax that is inescapable. Why? Because this means no one will waste resources on tax planning and thus tax avoidance. In other words, more resources will be used in production, which is better for the ‘economy.’ Leaving the moral and ethical argument about tax avoidance aside, the efficiency argument too is completely wrong. It shows how much economists have deviated from understanding what they supposedly try to learn about: the market. The loophole inefficiency argument is based on the view that seemingly unproductive uses of resources are a waste because they don’t contribute to the overall economy. But this is a backward argument, and in fact the same argument as that against ‘hoarding’ of funds. And it assumes that people (or, more specifically, their owned resources) are for the economy, rather than the economy for people.
If there’s one word that can sum up Hillary Clinton’s political career, it’s ‘corruption.’ That won’t stop her from seeking fulfillment in a different field, but this one may surprise a few. The corrupt and embattled Democrat is considering becoming a Methodist preacher. I thought they were taught not to lie, cheat, and steal? Listening to Hillary preach about kindness and compassion will be like listening to children attempt to explain quantum mechanics to each other. Who can forget John Podesta, Hillary’s campaign chairman, and his spirit cooking creepiness revealed in the Wikileaks emails? It sure seems like Hillary is continuing to lie her way through her hypocritical and corrupt life.
The rights of the American people have been, and are being trampled into the dust, as the pseudo-representatives glut themselves from the trough of lobbyists and oligarchs alike. It could be proven, but won’t be proven: the investigating ‘authority’ is not accountable to the people and there is no oversight. The FBI, and any investigations under special counsel? Look at Fast and Furious and how the Attorney General’s office covered that one up. What is needed to prove it? Something that doesn’t exist. Here is what is needed: A team of spotless individuals with a leader of unquestionable character and service…with complete authority and impunity: unable to be hindered by any federal, state, or local police and army of ‘authorities.’ This Special Investigative Team would have the power to investigate fully any and all ties to Congressmen, Senators, and Supreme Court judges…to find evidence of bribery, kickbacks, and influence peddling…and then arrest them and bring them to trial. Everyone can jump up and down, desiring to boil in oil anyone making such a suggestion; however, without some kind of accountability, these elected officials are running rampant and trampling the rights of the citizens. Who is going to stop it? The courts? The courts are the biggest pack of crooks of all. Yes, ‘Your Honor,’ and ‘The Honorable,’ ad infinitum. I guarantee that a Special Investigator with impunity would have found plenty of coral snakes under Chief (in)Justice John Roberts’ front porch…if Obama and Holder had been made to step aside and an investigation had been done. This should have been done after he cast his deciding vote on Obamacare. Going back a few years, Obamacare would have never made it to the floor of the Senate if Olympia Snow (R, ME) had not allowed it to come up for a vote. Who paid her off? In order to follow the money, you have to be allowed to follow it: or you’ll just end up arrested or dead. The special unit of investigators I suggested? They need to be armed to the teeth, and they need giant, shiny badges that every human in the Western Hemisphere will recognize. And why not? It worked for Elliot Ness and his team. This won’t be done, of course, for one reason:
This post was published at shtfplan on August 7th, 2017.
Apparently the Banks have been lobbying heavily, and expending significant amounts of money again, leaning on their Congressmen and pressuring regulators, saying that their capital standards need to be relaxed so that they can make more loans to stimulate economic growth. But that, according to the FDIC Vice-Chairman, is utter nonsense. “Hoenig, who was a high-ranking Federal Reserve official during the crisis, cautioned Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and the committee’s senior Democrat, Sherrod Brown, “against relaxing current capital requirements and allowing the largest banks to increase their already highly leveraged positions.” Using public data to analyze the 10 largest bank holding companies, Hoenig found they will distribute more than 100 percent of the current year’s earnings to investors, which could have supported to $537 billion in new loans.
Officers planting evidence appear to be growing a tree of corruption at the Baltimore Police Department, as the second release of suspicious body camera footage in two weeks has led to more dropped drug charges. On Tuesday evening, Baltimore defense attorney Josh Insley released BPD body camera footage showing officers apparently faking the recovery of drugs from a woman’s vehicle. The three videos led the Baltimore state attorney’s office to drop charges against Insley’s client, Shamere Collins, on Monday, the Baltimore Sun reported.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 3, 2017.
Documents released yesterday in a lawsuit against Monsanto have resulted in new questions about the company’s efforts to influence the news media and scientific research and revealed internal debate over the safety of its highest-profile product, the weed killer Roundup. As the New York Times notes today, new internal emails, among other things, reveal ethical objections from former employees to “ghost writing” research studies that were pawned off as ‘independent’ analyses. The documents underscore the lengths to which the agrochemical company goes to protect its image. Documents show that Henry I. Miller, an academic and a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015. Mr. Miller could not be reached for comment. A similar issue appeared in academic research. An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, appeared to express discomfort with the process, writing in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, ‘I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.’ He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: ‘We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.’ The newly disclosed emails also reveal internal discussions which cast some doubt over whether internal scientists actually believed in the company’s external messaging that Roundup was, in fact, safe.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 2, 2017.
Mining bitcoins is a notoriously electricity-intensive process better suited for areas where resources are subsidized by the government (like the mountainous Northern China, where a cluster of some of the world’s largest mining pools are located), or are at least exceedingly cheap. Cities like New York, are, of course, not ideally suited for the task of mining. But then again, if you’re not paying for the electricity, then it may as well be free, right? *** That, essentially, was New York City teacher Vladimir Ilyayev’s plan when he started mining bitcoin on his work computer, running the software during the evening while monitoring it from home, according to CoinDesk, which discovered paperwork relating to Ilyayev’s hearing before the BOE’s Conflicts of Interest Board. ‘According to a recently published disposition from the City of New York Conflicts of Interest Board, department employee Vladimir Ilyayev admitted to mining bitcoin between for a period of several weeks between March and April 2014. Bitcoin mining is an energy intensive process by which new transactions are added to the blockchain, generating new coins with every block that is created.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 1, 2017.
The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko, in an interview with Breitbart News, said the U. S. has been ‘drowning’ Afghanistan in money, wasting millions and creating conditions for corruption. ‘You can drown somebody in goodness,’ Sopko told Breitbart. ‘It’s the comedy of the absurd when it comes down to [American] assistance [to Afghanistan] and we are just drowning Afghans in money. And when you drown somebody in money, you can’t be surprised that some of it gets wasted.’ Sopko said the American people should care about the Afghan war as a natural security issue, but should also demand accountability for their government’s reckless use of tax dollars in the conflict. The office of the SIGAR is charged with overseeing reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, conducting audits and investigations to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. To date, the U. S. has appropriated a total of some $700 billion for the war, including the $120 billion spent on ‘reconstruction’ which Sopko’s office is tasked to track and account for.
House Judiciary Committee member, Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ), is calling on Robert Mueller, special counsel for the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation, to resign over an alleged “conflict of interest” resulting from a personal relationship with James Comey who is a person of interest in the investigation. Per the Washington Examiner: “Bob Mueller is in clear violation of federal code and must resign to maintain the integrity of the investigation into alleged Russian ties,” Franks said. “Those who worked under them have attested he and Jim Comey possess a close friendship, and they have delivered on-the-record statements effusing praise of one another.” “No one knows Mr. Mueller’s true intentions, but neither can anyone dispute that he now clearly appears to be a partisan arbiter of justice. Accordingly, the law is also explicitly clear: he must step down based on this conflict of interest,” Franks said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 1, 2017.