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.
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.
President Donald Trump might’ve been on to something when he accused the Washington Post of being a ‘lobbyist weapon For Amazon.’ In a rambling five-page email published by WaPo, the CEO of Birkenstock USA threatened to cut off authorized retailers who sell even a ‘single pair’ of its shoes to Amazon.com Inc., a continuation of his crusade against the online retailer, which began about a year ago when he demanded that the e-commerce powerhouse do more to ferret out fakes being sold on its platform. In the missive, CEO David Kahan blasted Amazon for soliciting Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy the company’s shoes from them for full price. Birkenstock stopped selling its shoes on Amazon earlier this year, citing a rise in counterfeit products and unauthorized sellers. Though the paper disclosed its conflict of interest, the story was obviously intended to embarrass a business rival of WaPo owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, despite the paper’s smoothly neutral tone. ‘In the email, Kahan called the entreaty a ‘desperate act’ and a ‘PERSONAL AFFRONT.’ ‘Birkenstock does NOT sell [to] Amazon,’ he wrote in the email to retail partners. ‘And it is clear that they are seeking back-channel means by which to obtain our brand.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 26, 2017.
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.
Today we reveal a massive NATO-based international weapons trafficking hub run out of Baku, Azerbaijan supplying conflict zones worldwide including terrorists in Syria, UK Tory MPs now lobbying for a ‘Authorisation of the Use of Military Force in Syria to respond to chemical attacks, and US now asking to share a ‘No Fly Zone’ with Russia in Syria, More revelations with Grenfell Tower in London and much more…
With Illinois facing a Friday night deadline by which it has to come up with its first fiscal budget in three years or face a downgrade to junk resulting in what a policymaker called a “death spiral“, another mini drama is taking place in Connecticut, which is also facing big budget problems as wealthy residents, hedge funds and major corporations flee the state’s high taxes and its fiscal future gets murkier by the day. Just today, we reported that Aetna, the insurance giant founded in Hartford where it has been for the past 164 years, announced it would move its headquarters to New York City despite intensive lobbying efforts by Connecticut officials. The move, which followed a departure by GE of its Fairfield HQ of 40 years, is a blow to the company’s hometown, which is facing severe financial problems. Hartford’s problems are a representation of the troubles facing the entire state: while Illinois’ story is familiar, Connecticut has the distinction of the third-worst ratings in the country, only behind Illinois and New Jersey after S&P, Moody’s and Fitch all downgraded the state last month in what officials described as a “call to action” for state leaders. ‘We’ve been downgraded by everybody in the last six months, and in the last year two or three times,’ Senate Republican President Len Fasano said cited by Fox news. ‘If we don’t pass a budget, I think we will see a further downward spiral.’ And, just like Illinois (and 14 other states), Connecticut faces a Friday day of reckoning: the state has yet to pass a fiscal 2018 budget by the June 30 deadline. ‘We must immediately take the necessary steps to mitigate the current year deficit and then balance the … budget with recurring measures to reduce spending and structural solutions to our long-term problems,’ a spokesperson for the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management said in response to Moody’s downgrade.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 30, 2017.
While the public’s attention is keenly focused on whether Illinois will reach a budget deal in the next 2 days ahead of the next fiscal year which begins on July 1, avoiding the first ever downgrade to junk for a US state as the state piles up some $15 billion in unpaid bills and now oews more than $800 million in interest on the unpaid balances alone, the financial peril facing Connecticut is just as dire. We laid out the big picture one month ago in “Connecticut State Capital Prepares For Bankruptcy Amid Collapse In Hedge Fund Revenue.” And now, as the state rushes to iron out its own budget deal ahead of the June 30 deadline, another major hit for the fiscally challenged state has emerged because one of the state’s most reliable sources of corporate tax revenue, Aetna, is leaving Hartford and moving to New York. According to the NYT, Aetna, the insurance giant founded in Hartford, where it has been for the past 164 years, announced Thursday that it would move its headquarters to New York City despite intensive lobbying efforts by Connecticut officials. The move is a blow to the company’s hometown, which is facing severe financial problems, and a potential boon for Aetna, which stands to receive $24 million in tax breaks over the next decade, among other benefits, for its new headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 29, 2017.
As the opioid epidemic spirals out of control, and more die on the streets in Big Pharma’s war on us, many are becoming aware of the cause of the crisis. One doctor in Oklahoma is now facing justice for over prescribing the medications that lead to the death of five of her patients. An Oklahoma doctor was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the overdose deaths of at least five patients from the powerful painkillers and other drugs she prescribed, often in combinations that made up an addict’s ‘holy trinity’ of pills, state investigators said. Oklahoma’s attorney general announced five second-degree murder counts against Regan Nichols, whose patients died while she worked at a Midwest City clinic. An Oklahoma County judge also issued a warrant for her arrest. But Nichols isn’t the only doctor in trouble for the epidemic. Although this crisis could be traced back to Big Pharma and their lobbying the government for privileges, doctors seem to be taking the fall for their refusal to say ‘no’ the pushy and disingenuous pharmaceutical companies. Opioids, which are primarily prescription painkillers and heroin, were factors in more than 33,000 deaths across the U. S. in 2015, and opioid overdoses have more than quadrupled since 2000, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s interactions with Turkish officials has expanded to include Flynn’s former business partner, Bijan Kian, Reuters reported Tuesday. However, the news agency said it’s unclear whether Kian is suspected of criminal activity, or if investigators are just trying to understand the role he played in a transaction involving their old company, Flynn Intel Group, and a Netherlands-based company owned by a Turkish businessman who’s believed to have connections with the Turkish government. The announcement also has implications for the Trump administration. Kian had a hand in picking intelligence agency personnel and was privy to high-level conversations regarding US intelligence as a member of President Donald Trump’s national security transition team. He also led most of the Flynn Intel Group’s research and lobbying for the Turkish businessman in question, the Associated Press reported. ‘Investigators are also looking at whether payments from foreign clients to Flynn and his company…were lawful, according to two separate sources with knowledge of the broad inquiry into Flynn’s business activities. That includes payments by three Russian companies and a Netherlands-based company, Inovo, controlled by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, they said. The FBI’s interest in Kian has not been previously reported. Kian played a central role in securing and overseeing the Inovo contract, two people with knowledge of that project said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 20, 2017.
As with all other highly manipulated data, the financial media has a blind bias toward the ‘bullish’ story attached to the housing market. Understandable, as the National Association of Realtors spends more on special interest interest lobbying in Congress than any other financial sector lobby interest, including Wall Street banks. New home sales were down last month, according to the Census Bureau, 11.3% and missed Wall Street’s soothsayer estimates by a rural mile. Strange, that report, given that new homebuilder sentiment is bubbling along a record highs. Existing home sales were down 2.3%. You’ll note that the numbers reported by the Census Bureau and NAR are ‘SAAR’ – seasonally adjusted annualized rates. There is considerable room for data manipulation and regression model bias when a monthly data sample is ‘seasonally adjusted/manipulated’ and then annualized. You’ll also note that mortgage rates have dropped considerably from their December highs and May is one of the seasonally strongest months for home sales. It’s becoming pretty clear to me that the housing market’s ‘Roman candle’ has lost its upward thrust and is poised to fall back to earth. I believe it could happen shockingly fast. Fannie Mae released its home purchase sentiment index, which FNM says is the most detailed of its kind.
If you weren’t outraged before you certainly have reason to be now — both at Amazon and the press. First, Amazon. They’re now “offering” to anyone on welfare reduced-price “Prime” memberships. Let’s cut this down to size: There is utterly nothing that “Prime” offers that one can today, or should be able to now or in the future, buy with “food stamps” (electronic or not.) Prime’s “pantry” items are all, by definition (sorry folks, truly fresh food that is not laden with sugars and hydrogenated oils doesn’t ship well!) high carb trash. A big part of the reason we have a monstrous obesity epidemic in this country, especially among poor people, is that we stopped handing out literal government cheese (and eggs, meats, etc) as “food assistance” and went first to coupons and then to what are effectively prepaid debit cards. Yes, there are “some” restrictions (e.g. no booze purchases, etc) but if you look at what’s in a typical EBT shopper’s cart you will find things that will both make you fat and diabetic. True “government cheese”, when it was how food assistance was distributed, was both nutritious and did not promote obesity and metabolic dysfunction. Amazon today cannot take an EBT card. But they are lobbying to be allowed to, and if they are permitted to do so that will simply make the obesity and diabetes problem worse among the poor. Unless you support abusing poor people that standing alone is enough to cancel your PRIME membership and tell Amazon to **** off.
The only way to rebuild a Common Good is to radically decentralize political, financial and media concentrations of ownership and power. The theory of American civics is that the competitive process of every group advocating for its narrow self-interests will magically generate the Common Good, that is, a political and social order that serves everyone’s common/shared interests. Unfortunately, that’s not how civic life functions in real-world America. We have completely lost any sense of a Common Good. All we have now is a cut-throat competition between entrenched special interests for a fatter slice of the pie while the bottom 95% have essentially no political voice and a rapidly diminishing say in the economy. The problem with the theory that competitive advocacy magically generates the common good is advocacy is horrendously asymmetric: corporations and the wealthy have massively well-funded campaign and lobbying industries as their advocates, while the bottom 95% have no equivalent resources or organized efforts to advocate for their interests.
President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Paris climate deal, a cornerstone of his predecessor’s legacy, was met with disdain from everyone on the left. That includes Elon Musk. Musk is now threatening Trump saying that he will step down from the president’s advisory councils if Trump decides to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Trump has said he intends to officially exit the agreement next week despite the insistence from the left that he stay. The CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX tweeted Wednesday that he’s done everything possible to lobby the president to keep the U. S. in the treaty. ‘Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain,’ Musk said. ‘Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain,’ Musk said. Don't know which way Paris will go, but I've done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017
While tense trade negotiations between the US and Mexico over the price and quota for U. S. imports of Mexican sugar continue (a happy ending appears unlikely, especially after a Mexican sugar company on Friday called on the government to take action against American fructose producers and protect the local industry from US deals), a new protectionist measure involving sugar half way around the globe was unveiled on Monday when China – the world’s biggest importer of the sweet substance – said it will impose significant penalties on sugar imports following lobbying by domestic mills. According to the ruling first described by Reuters, up to a third of China’s annual sugar imports will be impacted by an extra tariff for the next three years on shipments that the government said had “seriously damaged” the domestic industry. The details: China currently allows just over 1.9 million tonnes of imports at a tariff of 15% as part of its commitment to the World Trade Organization. All imports above this amount are slapped with a 50% levy. After Monday’s ruling, the total sugar duty will nearly double, with Beijing imposing an additional 45% tax to these imports in the current fiscal year taking the total to 95%. This will fall to 90% next year and 85% a year later, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement. The ruling exempted 190 smaller countries and regions from the new duty, including smaller producers such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Myanmar.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 22, 2017.
Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that he might support breaking up big banks, Wall Street isn’t worried. Yet. The calm is fueled by signals from administration aides in private meetings with industry executives to discuss rolling back financial rules, a Trump priority. While not making any assurances, the officials aren’t harping on the issue, according to people who have participated in or been briefed on the discussions. In fact, the topic of reviving Glass-Steagall, the 1933 law separating investment and commercial banking, rarely comes up. Just last month, Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn eased the concerns of at least two bank chief executives officers who called him after he spoke approvingly of Glass-Steagall in a meeting with senators, people familiar with the matter said. Neither Cohn nor the Treasury Department’s Craig Phillips made a case for splitting up banks when they met recently with an important financial lobbying group, said some attendees. There is also a sense in the industry that lawmakers have little appetite to take on another controversial legislative fight, especially one that would anger big donors. Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, are particularly loath to support such a dramatic reshaping of the banking system.
Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom. If we accept that our financial system is nothing but a wealth-transfer mechanism from the productive elements of our economy to parasitic, neofeudal rentier-cartels and self-serving state fiefdoms, that raises a question: what do we do about it? The typical answer seems to be: deny it, ignore it, get distracted by carefully choreographed culture wars or shrug fatalistically and put one’s shoulder to the debt-serf grindstone. There is another response, one that very few pursue: fanatic frugality in service of financial-political independence. Debt-serfs and dependents of the state have no effective political power, as noted yesterday in It Isn’t What You Earn and Owe, It’s What You Own That Generates Income. There are only three ways to accumulate productive capital/assets: marry someone with money, inherit money or accumulate capital/savings and invest it in productive assets. (We’ll leave out lobbying the Federal government for a fat contract or tax break, selling derivatives designed to default and the rest of the criminal financial skims and scams used so effectively by the New Nobility financial elites.)
Growth in U. S. personal consumption expenditures in the first quarter of 2017 was slowest since 2009, according to data released Friday by the Commerce Department. A big reason for that was the second-largest contraction in spending by non-profits (i.e. election-related lobbying/spending) in 57 years of data. As Bloomberg details, according to monthly consumption data through February, the drag seems to owe to a sharp decline in spending by professional advocacy groups, which always surges during U. S. presidential elections, and hit a record high in November.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 1, 2017.