Over the past two days there have been some rather substantial developments in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into alleged ties between President Trump and the Kremlin. First came the news yesterday that Mueller planned to expand his probe to review Trump’s personal business transactions, an announcement which sent stocks tumbling on the day (see: Mueller Expands Probe Into Trump Business Transactions: Dollar Tumbles, Stocks Slammed). Meanwhile, just this morning we learn that the Trump legal team has been shaken up with Kasowitz out (not terribly surprising after his recent email meltdown) and Corrallo resigning (see Trump Legal Shake Up: Kasowitz Out As Personal Attorney, Corrallo Resigns). Now, as the New York Times points out, Trump may be preparing a counter-offensive aimed at identifying potential conflicts of interest among the people hired by Mueller in order to force recusals. President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation – or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort. The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F. B. I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation. The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 21, 2017.
America’s Central Intelligence Agency is among the most secretive of the 17 or so U. S. intelligence outfits, but when it isn’t covering up scandal and corruption, the agency’s obsession with opacity can be outright ridiculous. MuckRock’s Mara Berg in 2013 sent written inquiries to several federal agencies, including the CIA, regarding the agencies’ guidelines for office apparel.
In a desperate bid to survive its economic meltdown, Venezuela is lobbying other OPEC members to agree to steeper oil production cuts, a move that would likely lead to higher oil prices. Venezuelan officials have reached out to their counterparts in Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia to press them on more collective action, according to Argus Media. If there was enough interest, the next step would be an ‘extraordinary meeting,’ which would weigh the option of cutting deeper. The rumors about deeper OPEC cuts have been floating around since June, when oil prices collapsed into the low-$40s. The markets have grown deeply pessimistic about the health of the oil market, and doubt the OPEC cuts will balance the market by the end of the compliance period in March 2018. But the behind-the-scenes effort from Venezuelan officials is notable, if only because the South American OPEC members was one of the earliest and most aggressive supporters of the original deal to reduce output. In 2016, for months the more powerful members of the cartel rebuffed Venezuelan pleas, but in the end they agreed to reductions in November after oil prices continued to wallow below $50 per barrel.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 19, 2017.
Reading the news on America should scare everyone, and every day, but it doesn’t. We’re immune, largely. Take this morning. The US Republican party can’t get its healthcare plan through the Senate. And they apparently don’t want to be seen working with the Democrats on a plan either. Or is that the other way around? You’d think if these people realize they were elected to represent the interests of their voters, they could get together and hammer out a single payer plan that is cheaper than anything they’ve managed so far. But they’re all in the pockets of so many sponsors and lobbyists they can’t really move anymore, or risk growing a conscience. Or a pair. What we’re witnessing is the demise of the American political system, in real time. We just don’t know it. Actually, we’re witnessing the downfall of the entire western system. And it turns out the media are an integral part of that system. The reason we’re seeing it happen now is that although the narratives and memes emanating from both politics and the press point to economic recovery and a future full of hope and technological solutions to all our problems, people are not buying the memes anymore. And the people are right.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 18, 2017.
Three months ago we introduced China’s “silent hunter” experimental laser gun, and now, as CNN reports, in the waters of the Persian Gulf looms the US Navy’s first – in fact, the world’s first – active laser weapon. *** The LaWS, an acronym for Laser Weapons System, is not science fiction. It is not experimental. It is deployed on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship, ready to be fired at targets today and every day by Capt. Christopher Wells and his crew. CNN was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test of the laser. For the test, the USS Ponce crew launched the target — a drone aircraft. Immediately, the weapons team zeroed in. “We don’t have to lead a target,” Hughes explained. “We’re doing that engagement at the speed of light so it really is a point and shoot — we see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target.” In an instant, the drone’s wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea. The strike comes silently and invisibly.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 18, 2017.
A lot of people have in inquiring about changing transcripts by judges in federal court in Manhattan. Some have reported it is taking place in other courts now. Corruption is consuming the Judiciary and we have no power to stop it. The rule of law has been so destroyed that those in the legal profession do not grasp what they are doing to the nation. Once you become biased and start playing with court rules, documents, and evidence to win convictions and protect local industry, you have destroyed property rights. How can anyone do business in New York City with confidence that they can sue a bank and actually win? This is part of the decline and fall of the West. We are sealing our own fate with judicial corruption.
When it imposed its net neutrality rules on the telecom industry, the FCC was fixing a problem that didn’t exist. While proponents of Net Neutrality have long claimed that the regulations are necessary to impose fairness for internet usage, access to the internet has only become more widespread and service today is far faster for users – including ‘ordinary’ people – than it was twenty years ago. Nevertheless, when the FCC in recent months – now under pressure from the Trump Administration – announced that it may step back from net neutrality, supporters immediately began claiming that net neutrality was necessary to keep internet access affordable and “fair.” In truth, net neutrality has never fostered fairness or better access for consumers, and has instead created conditions that will encourage less competition and more monopolistic power for large firms within the industry. Instead of relying on the market place to allocate goods, net neutrality ensures that politics will determine who gets what, instead. This is hardly a recipe for fairness or neutrality. In the marketplace, goods and services tend to be allocated according to those who demand the goods the most. Where demand is highest, prices are highest.
Over the past 9 months, as the media has launched an all out offensive on the Trump administration for crimes that have yet to be even identified with any level of specificity much less proven, former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has tried to be a voice of reason by appearing on numerous talk shows to discuss facts and legal precedents as opposed to innuendo and baseless accusations. Just last week Dershowitz blasted the New York Times for suggesting that Trump Jr.’s meeting with the now infamous Russian lawyer was an “act of treason” saying that while such actions may be “reprehensible” they’re not technically illegal. Meanwhile, Dershowitz has argued all along that “not all political actions that smell or look like corruption can be prosecuted criminally without Congress specifically making such conduct criminal by precisely worded legislation.” Per an opinion piece from Dershowitz published by The Hill: My critics have argued for an extraordinarily broad definition of corruption capable of being expanded to fit nearly everything Trump has done – from firing FBI Director James Comey, to asking him to consider dropping the investigation of General Michael Flynn, to his son’s meeting with Russian surrogates. This is the way the New York Times put it in its story about the court’s narrowing the meaning of corruption in the context of federal criminal law: ‘There was a time when political corruption might have been described – as a former Supreme Court justice once said of pornography – as something you knew when you saw it.” In other words, it was in the eye of the beholder rather than in a precise statutory definition.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 17, 2017.
New York City real estate, particularly the luxury market, is a popular refugee for world’s corrupt, self-dealing public servants and the crooked businessmen who bribe them. China cracked down on wealthy citizens seeking to stash their wealth in international real estate by adding several deterrents to its capital controls earlier this year (Among them, Chinese investors moving money out of the country must now sign a pledge saying it won’t be used to buy real estate, or investment securities). Shortly after, the New York real-estate – literally half a world away – was rattled by a crush of stalled deals. So, it’s unsurprising that the mystery behind the largest residential foreclosure auction in NYC history would have this kind of sordid backstory. Last month, we met Kola Aluko, a Nigerian oil magnate and the purported owner of One57’s Apartment 79, a $50 million apartment that will be sold next week in what appears to be the largest foreclosure auction in New York City history.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 16, 2017.
The shock landslide defeat of PM Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the recent Tokyo metropolitan elections – and the triumph there of Tokyo Governor Koike’s new party (Tomin First) – has lit a faint hope that the radical Japanese monetary expansion policy could be on its way out. The flickering light though is not strong enough to soothe the mania in Japan’s carry trades and so the yen continued to slide in the aftermath of the elections. Between mid-June and early July the Japanese currency depreciated by some 5% against the US dollar and 10% against the euro. The perception in currency markets is that Japan will not be embarking on monetary normalization this year or next, in contrast to Europe where ECB Chief Draghi has hinted that the train (to monetary normalization) will start next year, even though the journey promises to be very slow. The US train to normalization continues at a glacially slow pace including some periods of reverse movement. Moreover the monetary climate prior to the journey commencing is even more extreme in the case of Japan than in Europe or the US. It was possible to imagine that the shock election setback for the LDP could have caused Shinzo Abe to withdraw support from his money-printer in chief, Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda (whose term ends in April 2008), thereby signaling an early end to negative interest rates and quantitative easing. But markets in their wisdom have concluded this is not to be. Many elderly Japanese are pleased with their stock market and real estate gains even though they complain about negative interest rates and the threat of inflation. In any case it was young voters, responding to the stink of alleged corruption scandals, who turned out en masse for Governor Koike’s new party.
Almost exactly ten years ago, on September 12, 2007 Japan’s current prime minister Shinzo Abe resigned less than a year into a tenure dogged by scandals, the suicide of a minister, a raft of resignations and corruption allegations, and a humiliating election drubbing for his Liberal Democratic Party. Never one to shrink away from resposibility, Abe blamed it on crippling diarrhea: Shinzo Abe resigned as Prime Minister, claiming that diarrhea was preventing him from carrying out his duties. The diarrhea was due to ulcerative colitis, a bowel illness caused by ulcers. Abe had suffered from this illness for decades, but after becoming Prime Minister, the stress of his job apparently made the symptoms worse. Apparently it did not prevent him from taking on the job again some five years later, when he was reinserted in the prime ministerial position again, largely as a smokescreen meant to keep the government together as BOJ’s then-new governor Haruhiko Kuroda unleashed the greatest “wealth creation” and bond monetization experiment in the history of Japan, which has culminated with the Japanese central bank owning nearly 100% of Japan’s GDP in Japanese Government Bonds. Unfortunately for Abe, it may be time to buy Imodium again.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 16, 2017.
The mainstream media’s silence over Klaus Eberwein’s death is deafening. Eberwein was a former Haitian government official who was expected to expose the extent of Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice next week. He has been found dead in Miami at the age of 50. The circumstances surrounding Eberwein’s death are also nothing less than unpalatable. According to Miami-Dade’s medical examiner records supervisor, the official cause of death is ‘gunshot to the head.’ Eberwein’s death has been registered as ‘suicide’ by the government. But not long before his death, he acknowledged that his life was in danger because he was outspoken on the criminal activities of the Clinton Foundation. Eberwein was a fierce critic of the Clinton Foundation’s activities in the Caribbean island, where he served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance conomique et social, for three years. ‘The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,’ Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year. Eberwein was due to appear on Tuesday before the Haitian Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he was widely expected to testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors. But this ‘suicide’ gets even more disturbing…
This post was published at shtfplan on July 16th, 2017.
Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org, ‘Is Russia an enemy of the United States?’ NBC’s Kasie Hunt demanded of Ted Cruz. Replied the runner-up for the GOP nomination, ‘Russia is a significant adversary. Putin is a KGB thug.’ To Hillary Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, the revelation that Donald Trump Jr., entertained an offer from the Russians for dirt on Clinton could be considered ‘treason.’ Treason is giving aid and comfort to an enemy in a time of war. Are we really at war with Russia? Is Russia really our enemy? ‘Why Russia is a Hostile Power’ is the title of today’s editorial in The Washington Post that seeks to explain why Middle America should embrace the Russophobia of our capital city: ‘Vladimir Putin adheres to a set of values that are antithetical to bedrock American values. He favors spheres of influence over self-determination; corruption over transparency; and repression over democracy.’ Yet, accommodating a sphere of influence for a great power is exactly what FDR and Churchill did with Stalin, and every president from Truman to George H. W. Bush did with the Soviet Union.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 14, 2017.
Forget spraying pesticides on your food, now they’ll be genetically engineered to be in your food, thanks to Monsanto’s latest quiet approval via the US Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA just told Monsanto they could go ahead and bypass spraying our crops with carcinogenic chemicals like Round Up and just go ahead and breed them right into the crops themselves. Using a process called RNA interference, Monsanto’s RNAi plant will supposedly kill pesky rootworms when they come along to chomp on them- but what else will these genetically modified crops do to beneficial bugs, the soil, and human health? The EPA has no idea, because they haven’t done a single trial on RNAi-altered crops. Nonetheless, the EPA quietly gave Monsanto a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card by allowing them to move forward with their genetically modified corn strain. Some are calling this a genetic weapon, in its infancy. Others are concerned that RNAi will have ramifications for the biosphere that – just like all of Monsanto’s other products – don’t come to light for years to come. For instance, the National Honey Bee Advisory Board said in comments submitted to the E. P. A. before a ‘meeting’ in which this controversial genetic technology was to be reviewed,
On Wednesday, Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee. Though the hearings lost much of their appeal when Dr. Ron Paul retired from Congress, the House Republicans have maintained a reputation for being far more hostile to the Federal Reserve than their colleagues in the Senate – managing to generate some worthwhile moments. While little news was made, with Yellen maintaining her support for generally low interest rates, there were some points made today worth noting. 1) Republicans Continue to Push on the Fed’s Subsidy to Wall Street Starting in 2008, the Federal Reserve has paid interest on excess reserves parked at the Fed. While this had never been done prior to the financial crisis, this policy has now become a vital tool for the Fed in setting short-term interest rates. As the Fed has increased the Federal funds rate, so too has it increased its ‘Interest On Excess Reserves’ (IOER), now paying 1.25% on the over 2 trillion banks hold at the Fed. This policy has drawn increasing criticism from House Republicans, and Yellen faced criticism from both Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Rep. Andy Barr, who hold Dr. Paul’s old position as chairman of the monetary subcommittee. Accurately, both men highlight that this policy means the Federal Reserve – and by extension the US Treasury that would otherwise receive these interest payments – are directly subsidizing large Wall Street and foreign banks. Considering these IOER payments are projected to be $27 billion this year, it’s good to more attention be brought to this obvious example of Wall Street cronyism.