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Archive for December 2018

Martin Armstrong Exposes The Dick Cheney / Donald Rumsfeld Conspiracy

Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com,

I went to go watch VICE – the story about how Dick Cheney took over the government with the aid of his wife – Lynne Cheney. Vice is a film that seeks to bring complicated information about the inner corruption in Washington and transform it into a digestible and entertaining format. There is no question that Christian Bale delivered a very impressive performance of how Dick Cheney really is – a secretive and distant man whose eyes were always filled with naked contempt. Amy Adams gave a fantastic performance as well and captured the real character of the former Second Lady Lynne Cheney who was very much like her husband – ambitious, and equally just as ruthless.

While the film captures the reality of what took place, it completely misses the real story behind the scenes as to even how Cheney came to be Vice President. The film shows that he was out of politics and had effectively retired for some time. It pretends that George Bush called him to be his Vice President and they negotiate that Cheney will have most of the power and Bush was too stupid to understand what he was agreeing to.

As always, for whatever reason, I seem to be always in the middle of just about every major event for the past 30+ years. I have stated before that I was asked to fly around the country and meet with Republicans who wanted to run for President. Prior to 1999, they were told I was there to advise them on the world economy and how it functioned. I have been to White House dinners and testified before Congress. I have taken calls from Washington in times of crisis. So meeting with people who wanted to run for President was nothing unusual for me. The real issue was not that I was giving them advice, but I was to assess whether they were capable of comprehending how the world functioned economically as well as politically. I was regarded as the unbiased adviser around the world. Europeans loved me because I was not one of them. They knew I would advise according to the cycles and markets. I cannot even bring staff with me to meetings in Brussels today for the problem because they are European and will have skin in the game. The same was true when I was asked to fly to Beijing during the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis.

The real story how Cheney got that power is significantly different from how the movie portrayed that aspect. It did a fantastic job in covering what he did once in power, with the exception of the meeting when 911 took place. The film portrays everyone in that room and its sources were correct in saying they were all confused but Cheney was more concerned about talking to his lawyer in that meeting. What I do know is that the first World Trade Center bombers were in MCC prison in Manhattan and they were given markers by the recreation officer Mr. Kumb. They drew on the walls of their cell the twin towers with planes flying into them one year BEFORE the incident. In creating Home Land Security, Congress merely stated that various agencies had information but did not share it with one another. Cheney had personal offices in all the agencies and I believe he knew well what took place on 911.

The movie correctly portrays Donald Rumsfeld as his co-conspirator. Just the day before 911 on September 10th, the Inspector General reported that $2.3 trillion was missing from the Defense Department accounting. Rumsfeld stated before Congress an investigation was necessary. The next day, the plane that struck the Pentagon hit the precise room where all those records were stored.

The World Trade Center 7 collapsed like a pancake when no plane ever touched it. That building has all the evidence of many things we will never know about. I have 20 years worth of recordings that would have been enough to put all the major New York trading banks in prison. Tapes that admitted paying bribes to Russian officials and all sorts of market manipulations. All of those tapes from my case vanished that same day. I personally believe that Cheney knew what was in the works. The mere fact that the terrorists drew the WTC on the wall of their cell 1 year before and the MCC took pictures and made a big deal out of it tells me that information had been passed on.

Now to the issue of Cheney becoming Vice President. I was asked to go to Texas to meet with George Bush, Jr during the early summer of 1999. I was told that “this is different. He’s really stupid.” Up to that point, the entire process I was involved in was to assess the qualification of those who wanted to run for President. Suddenly I was told this was different. When I asked why would you make someone stupid President, the response was “he has the name.”

I was then asked if I would accept the position of Chief Economic Adviser in the White House. I was told BECAUSE Bush was stupid, which they pay well in the movie, that they needed to surround him with smart people. I declined because to take such a position meant I would have to shut down my operation. I said thanks, but no thanks.

The kingmakers who I would go visit potential candidates for selected the people to put around Bush. Cheney had been Chief of Staff so he knew the game. He was inserted into the White House DELIBERATELY to be the default, President. The movie makes it sound that Bush Junior had to convince him to be his VP. That is absolutely NOT the way this selection process worked. They would NEVER have allowed the very person they said was “stupid” to select the people to run the country. They were selected to be the babysitters. I know this because I was one of the people asked and declined.

California Women's March Cancelled For Being "Overwhelmingly White"

California Women's March Cancelled For Being "Overwhelmingly White"

Organizers of a women's march rally planned for a predominantly white area in Northern California have decided to cancel the rally over concerns that attendees would have been "overwhelmingly white" and thus not representative of the area's true demographic diversity.

March

In a news release, the organizers of the Eureka, Calif. march (situated about 270 miles north of San Francisco) said Friday that "the decision was made after many conversations between local social-change organizers and supporters of the march," Fox News reported.

"Up to this point, the participants have been overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community," the news release continued.

Assuming the march's organizers expected the march to involve mostly women from the area, the fact that its participants would be "overwhelmingly white" shouldn't have been a surprise. According to Census Bureau data, Humboldt County is 74% non-Hispanic white.

March Two

One participant was surprised to learn of the cancellation, and questioned why a cancellation would be beneficial.

"I was appalled to be honest," Amy Sawyer Long told the Washington Times. "I understand wanting a diverse group. However, we live in a predominantly white area...not to mention how is it beneficial to cancel? No matter the race people still want their voices heard."

The Jan. 19 rally was planned to mark the third anniversary of the original Women’s March - which was held on Jan. 21, the day after Trump's inauguration.

Instead, the event's organizers are hoping to reschedule the event for March, where it would instead honor International Women's Day.

Though the demographic makeup of participants probably isn't likely to change. Though this likely won't stop Black and Latina organizers from complaining that the women's march movement has often overlooked or disregarded their concerns.

The West Is In Disarray, And It Will Only Get Worse

The West Is In Disarray, And It Will Only Get Worse

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

We are witnessing the withdrawal from Syria of the American military contingent, protests in France, the prospect of a British hard Brexit, the political decline of Angela Merkel in Germany, Netanyahu in crisis, and Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia suddenly becoming an international pariah. The contemporary crisis of leadership in Europe, the United States and among their main allies has thrown the West into chaos, leading it to one of its most critical junctures in recent decades. It is a situation brought on by the United States and its contradictory politics, which results in diminishing the sovereignty and decision-making power of Washington's allies.

Well before the election of Donald Trump, European Union leaders Merkel, Cameron and Hollande were already faltering and evidencing signs of failure.

Hollande fell in the polls because of policies favoring the interests of the elites at the expense of the increasingly poor and indebted French population. Cameron, to stave off a Labour victory under Jeremy Corbyn, promised a vote on Brexit, a decision that would eventually end up costing him his political career. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, the undisputed master of the German political scene, suffered for the first time in fifteen years heavy electoral defeats stemming from recent migration policies. The Chancellor, harshly criticized for these results, resigned from the position of president of the party, leaving the CDU split into two factions. The situation worsened in the UK and France over the next twelve months, with Cameron resigning following the Brexit vote and Hollande forced to give up on the the idea of ​​running for reelection given his unpopularity.

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron then replaced Cameron and Hollande. Macron immediately committed to revolutionizing French politics, promising a French renaissance. May (with a view to sabotaging it) promised to negotiate vigorously with the EU to obtain the best possible conditions for the UK’s Brexit, scheduled for March 2019. Both have acted contrary to their promises, sealing their political fates.

Meanwhile in the United States there has been strong jostling between the political-financial-war elites for the dominance of Trump's foreign policy. The President, either out of inexperience, ineptitude or intentionally, soon succumbed to the foreign-policy establishment, with its usual offerings of neoliberalism and brutal imperialism. Trump’s weaponized use of the dollar thereby ended up in an unintended blue-on-blue attack, with Trump’s money bags, Saudi Arabia and Israel, receiving some friendly fire in addition to the intended targets, Iran, Russia and China. An understanding between Trump and the foreign-policy establishment has therefore been reached, sealed with the appointments of Bolton and Pompeo, establishing a modus vivendi between competing interests.

This dogma of neoliberalism and brutal imperialism espoused by the foreign-policy establishment is at the heart of the problems between the United States and the rest of the world, Europe especially, only serving to accelerate the transition to a multipolar world order, about which I wrote the day after Trump’s victory. Neoliberalism and American exceptionalism are now entrenched in an “America First” policy, combining the worst elements of US imperialism and the interests of the financier oligarchy.

Washington’s adoption of aggressive economic policies, aimed at draining resources from allies while simultaneously isolating its enemies, has further accentuated the differences between Europe and the US. The use of tariffs and customs duties, combined with sanctions against Moscow and Tehran, have ended up distancing Macron from Trump, placing the French president firmly in the liberal-globalist camp, standing shoulder to shoulder with Merkel. May is isolated, criticized by virtually everyone -- Brussels, Trump, Merkel -- and especially by Corbyn in Parliament.

May finds herself managing a situation beyond her, with a total failure of the British negotiating position with the EU. The closer we get to March 29, the more the British media like the BBC will holler about the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit, the prospect of which is very likely given that May has done everything possible to sabotage the negotiation process with the EU. The aim is to convince the population that it is not only legitimate but above all else necessary to revoke the request for implementation of Article 50 of the EU in order to avoid the catastrophe of a hard Brexit. It is a perfect example of how the elite create a problem (intentionally failing the negotiations for Brexit) to justify acting in a certain direction, contrary to what the population has voted for.

Macron, in addition to a repeated series of internal political disasters, further demonstrated his abiding fidelity to the financier globalist elites by conceiving a new tax on petrol in the interests of greater environmental sustainability, a heedless provocation to the French people, already weighed down by taxes and an incommensurate lack of government services. This move was enough to unleash major protests in France, the biggest in over twenty years, which will not stop until the resignation of the puppet Macron.

In Germany, Angela Merkel's migrant policies over the last few years have ended up consuming her credit in terms of popularity. She was recently replaced by her protégé, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as head of the CDU. Merkel has already affirmed that she will withdraw from political life at the end of her term as chancellor. With Merkel as with May and Macron, dancing to the tune of the globalist elites ends up being politically costly.

What has fueled the erosion of the political consensus amongst European leaders has much to do with their countries bearing the costs of being mere executors of US interests. The ripping up of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran created significant frictions between Washington and EU countries. The sanctions on Russia, the tariffs on the European countries and the trade war with Beijing have done the rest, pushing Macron, and even May, to positions directly in opposition to Donald Trump, the latter increasingly attempting a rapprochement with Angela Merkel as her position progressively worsens. May, Macron and Merkel are hanging on by a thinning thread. The attempt to divert attention to other countries like Russia, in the case of the British (the Skripal affair), or Syria, in the case of the French (bombing the country), only widens the rift between Europeans and the likes of Russia and Iran, hurting EU companies and workers in the process.

The risk is that the precarious situation in which European leaders find themselves could lead them into an open provocation against Iran or Russia in Syria (a false-flag chemical attack in Idlib?) or in Ukraine (a false-flag attack in Mariupol?). This is a very real danger. The elites in Kiev seem to be willing to offer their country as a staging area from which to launch a final provocation against Moscow. Yet neither Merkel, May nor Macron seem to be particularly attracted to the prospect of turning Europe into a pile of rubble just to please the Euro-American financial and military elites. Besides, none of them (fortunately) has the political capital that would allow them to engage in such demented moves.

In this generalized chaos characterizing the West, Trump has perhaps made the first sensible move of his presidency in announcing the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, in the face of howls of protests from the globalist imperialists. Washington is being ushered out of the Middle East as a result of its repeated failures. Moscow is the new destination for all negotiations concerning the Middle East and beyond. Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and Turkey seem to have already got the message, with various levels of negotiations launched directly or indirectly with Moscow to salvage the little influence still held in Syria by Doha, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. The case is a little different with Ankara, which, through Idlib, still maintains some influence in Syria.

Meanwhile, the US Congress has voted to condemn Saudi actions in Yemen and withdraw US support for Riyadh’s war effort. This is motivated less by a concern for the plight of Yemeni civilians, suffering under the onslaught of American-supplied bombs, than it is by the desire by the deep state to further lay into Trump by undermining his ally Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who has been pronounced anathema by the Euro-American political and financial elites.

In Israel, Netanyahu finds himself in tricky situation, with his wife being investigated for corruption and his majority in government becoming increasingly precarious. Israel’s recent capitulation in Gaza, that precipitated the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, together with the recent incident with the Russians in Syria as well as the unrealistic prospect of a war with Hezbollah, has reduced Bibi to a joke within Israel. His time is almost up.

As if the situation for Western leaders were not compromised enough, their few joint actions are decided in Washington and aimed at antagonizing China, Russia and Iran. After 24 months of the Trump presidency, European countries have ended up giving up even whatever little semblance of autonomy and sovereignty they retained. Trump demands absolute loyalty, without giving anything in return.

Blind obedience to a neoliberal globalist ideology, combined with Trump's damage to friends and enemies alike, has led to European leaders and Middle Eastern allies finding themselves in a precarious situation that risks throwing Europe into chaos in the coming years or even months, with a financial debt crisis also looming more than ever.

Macron, May, Merkel, Netanyahu and MBS will continue to offer resistance and try to hang on; but the writing is evidently on the wall.

We close, ironically by throwing back at the Western imperialists, like a boomerang, the mantra that they frequently levelled at the likes of Bashar al Assad: May, Merkel, Macron, MBS and Netanyahu must go!

US Army Awards Raytheon $200 Million Contract For Phalanx Gatling Guns

US Army Awards Raytheon $200 Million Contract For Phalanx Gatling Guns

According to Raytheon, the Phalanx LPWS (Land Phalanx Weapon System), part of the Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) system, is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun that can detect and destroy incoming: aircraft, artillery, mortar rounds, and rockets in the air before they hit their intended land-based targets. 

As a self-contained package, the Phalanx automatically carries out functions usually performed by multiple systems: search, detection, threat evaluation, tracking, engagement and kill assessment.

Consisting of a radar-guided 20 mm Vulcan cannon mounted on a swiveling base, the Phalanx has been widely used by the US Army to protect bases. It defended the Green Zone and Camp Victory in Baghdad, and the British Army base in southern Iraq. In 2012, the LPWS  systems were deployed to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

In a statement, announced Friday by Department of Defense, as first reported by Defense Blog, Raytheon was awarded a massive, $205.2 million contract by the Army for the procurement of Phalanx Gatling guns. The estimated completion date of the entire order is dated for Dec. 27, 2023.

Defense Blog said the Phalanx can be integrated with a multitude of sensors and systems designed to provide an overarching protection umbrella for military bases.

The rapid-fire technology has also been installed on all Navy combat ships.

The 20 mm rounds consist of a 15 mm penetrator encased in a plastic case and a lightweight metal pusher. Each bullet fired by the Phalanx cost around $30 each, and the gun typically shoots +3,000 rounds per minute when engaging a target.

The Phalanx cannons are usually activated as a last resort, and the effective range is approximately 5.5 miles.

As to why the Army needs $200 million of high-tech Gatling guns for its military bases is beyond our wildest imagination, then again, as we have mentioned before, the US, China, and Russia are on the brink of Cold War 2.0.

 

Don't Use Underwear Sales As An Economic Indictor, China Warns

Don't Use Underwear Sales As An Economic Indictor, China Warns

This past week, as the Chinese leadership pledged economic reforms and promised additional stimulus to help revive softening growth in the world's second-largest economy, a post in the English language Global Times quietly went viral.

It cited a steady rise in sales of men's underwear in the northeast province of Liaoning as a sign that an economic rebound was underway in the province, which has lagged the rest of the country as it the former industrial powerhouse has transitioned to a more service-based economy. For the sake of context, we pointed out that the Men's Underwear Index is a legitimate economic indicator created by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who argued that, during economic downturns, men put off buying staples like underwear, opting to get more use out of their briefs before buying new pairs.

But when the economy begins to rebound, sales of underwear rise as consumers start feeling more secure and ramp up their purchases of staples.

Underwear

According to the GT post, sales have been steadily climbing for three years. And aside from buying more pairs, men in Liaoning are also opting for underwear of a higher quality.

But alas, hopes that a turnaround in the MUI might portend a broader economic rebound may be...wait for it...brief. Because over the weekend, the GT returned with a second article arguing that, while the MUI might have proven to be a reliable indicator during the early days of the post-GFC recovery in the US, the same principles likely aren't applicable to China.

A widely circulated post claimed that a rise in the sale of men's underwear in Northeast China's Liaoning Province signals an economic recovery in the long-lagging province.

Once a famed industrial base, Northeast China is undergoing a painful economic transition. Officials have announced plans to revitalize the region through reforms. Does a rise in sales of men's underwear raise the prospects of an economic recovery?

The Men's Underwear Index (MUI), which claims that upswings in sales predict an improving economy, was long favored by former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. The MUI may be a barometer of the US economy, but it's perhaps not very adaptable to China.

Spending habits differ vastly between American and Chinese consumers, the post argued. And it's equally likely that the 32% climb in underwear sales in Liaoning witnessed since the beginning of the year could be attributable to a harsh winter.

Chinese and American consumers have very different spending habits, so it doesn't make sense to say that rising sales of men's underwear mean anything in China, just because the MUI works in the US. Some Chinese netizens said sales have risen in Liaoning because the weather this winter is more variable and humid, so people need to buy more underwear.

We cannot be overly optimistic about an economic recovery in Liaoning and more stimulus policies are still needed. With 5.6 percent GDP growth in the first half of 2018 and 5.4 percent growth in the third quarter, the province continued to underperform the national economy. It's unlikely that the province will revive next year and serve as an engine for the national economy. As China's economy has matured, its real GDP growth rate has slowed significantly. In 2019, economic expansion is likely to further decelerate. Stimulus measures should be planned to ensure economic stability amid the trade conflict with the US.

Predictably, the post argues that what Liaoning needs is more stimulus. And with manufacturing activity in the country on the verge of contraction, it's increasingly likely that more stimulus will come.

The Recline And Flail Of Western Civilization And Other 2019 Predictions

The Recline And Flail Of Western Civilization And Other 2019 Predictions

Authored by Economic Prism's MN Gordon, annotated by Acting-Man's Pater Tenebrarum,

The Recline and Flail of Western Civilization and Other 2019 Predictions

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to buy.  Really a great opportunity to buy.”

 – President Donald Trump, Christmas Day 2018

Darts in a Blizzard

Today, as we prepare to close out the old, we offer a vast array of tidings.  We  bring words of doom and despair.  We bring words of contemplation and reflection.  And we also bring words of hope and sunshine.

Famous stock market investment adviser Field Marshal D. Trump [PT]

After all, the New Year’s nearly here.  What better time than now to turn over a new leaf?  New dreams, new directions, and new delusions, are all before us like a patch of ripe strawberries.  Today’s the day to make a double-fisted grab for all of them – and more.

Rest assured, 2019 will be the year that everything happens precisely as it should.  Some good.  Some bad.  Indeed, each day shall unfold before you in symbiotic disharmony.  You can count on it.

But what else?  What are the essential anticipations as we embark on a new voyage around the sun?  What about stocks, the 10-Year Treasury note, gold, and everything else?  Are we fated for complete societal breakdown?  Will this be the year the Fed put finally bites the dust?

Today we attempt to answer these questions – and many others – with meekness and modesty.  Predicting the future, like Fed monetary policy, is primarily guesswork.  But unlike the Fed, we acknowledge we’re merely throwing darts in a blizzard.

By all accounts, our methodology is as unscientific as prophecy via tarotology.  We shun common forecasting techniques for a conjectural approach.  First, we engage all matters of fact, fiction, fakery, and fraud.  Then, through induction, deduction, biased interpolation, gut check filtration, and metaphysical reduction, we arrive at precise, unequivocal answers.

But before we get to it, a brief disclaimer’s in order.  This proviso from Yogi Berra should do:

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Two styles of forecasting: the all-knowing Zoltar, and the less certain Yogi Berra (here at bat), who  inter alia noted that “a lot can be observed by watching”  and “it ain’t over until it’s over” – both of which we find to be true. And don’t forget, when you come to a fork in the road, take it. [PT]

With that out of the way, we face our limitations with purpose and intent.  What follows, for fun and for free, are several simple guesses for the year ahead.

Stocks, Treasuries, and Gold in 2019

Stocks – A Major Meltdown

We recognize the stock market’s comprised of many stocks and that they don’t all move in tandem.  Certainly, it’s presumptuous of us to lump all stocks into the same prediction.  But today’s conjectures, by their very nature, are presumptuous.  Thus, stocks, for our purposes here, are the broad U.S. stock market – the S&P 500.

S&P 500 Index with a possible wave count. Note: this wave count suggests that the index is currently in the third wave of an initial impulsive wave 1 down, in other words it represents the  alternative indicating a beginning bear market. There are always other possibilities (alternate counts) that may only reveal themselves at a later stage as the fractals evolve. This one strikes us as the one that currently has the highest probability, given the many technical warning signs accompanying the peak in late September. [PT]

To begin, the great stock market break that’s followed the S&P 500’s all-time high of 2,940, which was notched on September 21, will gain momentum as 2019 progresses.  In fact, the S&P 500 won’t see 2,940 again for at least a decade – possibly much longer.  Here’s why…

The Fed’s monetary tightening program of increasing the federal funds rate and reducing its balance sheet has dented the structure of the stock market, which has been fabricated over the last nine years.  A vital prerequisite of the bull market – ultra cheap credit, courtesy of the Fed – has been removed.  Without it, the stock market is unable to hold its extreme valuations.

The garrote chart: Assets held by the Fed vs. the effective FF rate. [PT]

Over the first six months of the New Year, wild hundred point swings in the S&P 500 will be commonplace.  Pre-programmed algorithmic trades will trip the market back and forth in wild stomach churning gyrations.  Bulls and bears – both human and artificial – will fight to the death for the upper hand.

By mid-year, however, the bulls will have exhausted their resources.  Shrewd investors will sell the multiple bounces leading up to the summer months, and go to cash and gold.  About this time, the brief boon to businesses from President Trump’s tax cuts will be over.  The economy will be en route to recession.

Predictive models based on faulty earnings estimates will be thrown out the window.  Pre-programmed buying will morph to pre-programmed selling, and an abrupt collapse will be triggered.  The bottom will drop out of the stock market in short order.

By October, as Wall Street and Washington scream for the Fed to do something, new experiments in ZIRP, NIRP, QE, and Fed equity purchases, will be rolled out with poise and confidence.  Yet the Fed’s efforts to pump liquidity into the financial system will have little avail.  Reality will be delivered to investors like buckets of ice water to the face.

An abrupt, yet destructive, bear market will extend into early 2020.  When the dust clears, the S&P 500 will have decline by 60 percent from its record high. Yet that’s nothing.  Treasury investors are in for much greater levels of capital destruction…

The End of the Great Treasury Bond Bubble

As we close out the year, the yield on the 10-Year Treasury note has settled at about 2.77 percent.  This is down from a yield of about 3.20 percent as recently as early November.  Still, the current yield of 2.77 is above the 2.40 percent the 10-Year Treasury note yielded this time last year.

From a historical perspective, a 10-Year Treasury note yield of 2.77 percent is extraordinarily low.  But it’s more than double that of July 2016, when the 10-Year Treasury note bottomed out at a yield of just 1.34 percent.  What to make of it?

10-year Treasury note yield, weekly: amazingly, 10-year yields declined to a new post-WW2 low of 1.34% in mid 2016. Since then, the trend has been up. The recent stock market downturn and a decrease in inflation expectations (per market-based measures) have pushed yields down from their recent highs, but not to the extent one would normally expect. [PT]

We have anticipated the conclusion of the great Treasury bond bubble for at least 8 years.  But over much of this time, we were consistently fooled by brief episodes of rising rates, followed by even greater periods of declining rates.

Over the last 30 months, the trend that commenced in 1981, a trend of ever lower interest rates, has reversed.  Moreover, we are 100 percent certain that 2019 will be the year that yields commence their long-term rise in earnest.  After many years of being wrong about the end of the great Treasury bond bubble, it is about time we were right.

The price of credit will become more and more expensive over the next several decades.  This one thing will change everything.  What’s more, the Fed won’t be able to stop it…

Death to the Fed Put

A fallacy that is borne out of the last three decades of extreme credit market intervention is the dogma that the Fed disappears risk from financial markets.  That by expanding and moderating the money supply by just the right amount, and at just the right time, stock and bond prices can grow within a pleasant setting of near nonexistent volatility.

There is also unwavering trust that whenever a major stock market crash occurs, the Fed can soften the landing and quickly put things back upon a path of righteous asset price inflation.  Believers in the all-powerful controls of the Fed have a 30 year track record they can point to with conviction.

Over this period, the Fed has inflated stock and bond markets with steadfast rigor. But what if the Fed’s adventures in fabricating a market without risk are approaching the end of the road?

A brief history of Alan Greenspan and his infamous put. [PT]

When Alan Greenspan first executed the “Greenspan put” following the 1987 Black Monday crash, markets were well positioned for this centrally coordinated intervention.  Interest rates, after peaking out in 1981, were still high.  The yield on the 10-Year Treasury note was about 9 percent.  There was plenty of room for borrowing costs to fall.

The mechanics of the Greenspan put – and later the Fed put – are extraordinarily simple.  When the stock market drops by about 20 percent, the Fed intervenes by lowering the federal funds rate. This typically results in a negative real  yield, and an abundance of cheap credit.

This gimmick has a twofold effect of seen and observable market distortions.  First, the burst of liquidity puts an elevated floor under how far the stock market falls.  Hence, the put option effect.  Second, the interest rate cuts inflate bond prices, as bond prices move inversely to interest rates.

Wall Street money managers wholeheartedly endorse the reciprocal forgiveness of the Fed put.  For this form of central planning largely mitigates market uncertainty; markets can be expected to behave in more or less predictable ways.

With the Fed put backstopping the market, a portfolio manager can sleep soundly at night during a stock market crash because they know their bond holdings are rising.  Then, after a pleasant dip buying opportunity, their stocks soon run back up to new highs.  This constituted U.S. financial markets and money management from 1987 to 2016.

No doubt, there were several gut wrenching sell offs during this period – like 1987, 2001, and 2008.  But each time the Fed came to the rescue by cutting interest rates, bumping up bond values, and engineering an extended stock market rally.  Few questioned whether this Fed intervention would ever cease to be available.

Over the decades, risk management strategies were invented that advocated the virtues of a 60/40 stock-to-bond allocation portfolio. And why not?  The Fed put brought a comforting certainty to the market.  When stocks go down, bonds go up. But what if, in the year 2019, the flight to bonds is no longer a flight to safety; but, to danger?

What may come as a great big surprise in the next market downturn is that this relationship between stocks and bonds is not set in stone.  And over the next decade we suspect this relationship will be revealed to have been an aberration; an artifact of a now defunct disinflationary world.

You see, the conditions that made the Fed put possible are the opposite of the conditions that exist today.  Rates are low and are moving higher.  The world’s over-saturated with debt.  Policies of mass money debasement have bubbled stocks and Treasuries out to extremes well beyond what is honestly conceivable.

Yes, the doom and gloom of a combined stock and bond market meltdown may arrive in 2019.  And when the Fed lowers the federal funds rate to counteract the dual busts, expect the unexpected to happen.  The Fed put – the market savior – will be overwhelmed by a panic that’s so massive and so violent it’ll have little effect.  The Fed put will be exposed to be a myth of a prior era.

Gold Shines

Gold has had a terrible run since peaking out at $1,895 per ounce in 2011.  After that, gold fell to around $1,200 at the start of 2015.  Then it slid to $1,060 per ounce by the close of 2015.  That’s a loss of about 44 percent in dollar terms.  At the close of 2018, gold is priced at about $1,275 per ounce – roughly the same as this time last year.

However, the trends that pushed gold up 645 percent from 2001 to 2011 are still in place.  The federal debt – now approaching $22 trillion – continues to rise unabated.  The dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency continues to become increasingly suspect.

Gold, monthly candles. Will it shine in 2019? Gold bottomed in 1999 at $255 per ounce. In April 2001 it revisited the $270 level for one last time before taking off for good. The long term chart looks like a temporally stretched version of the 1970s bull market. If this similarity persists, a resumption of the secular bull market would definitely be in the cards. The fundamental backdrop for gold has become increasingly bullish in recent weeks. This bullish shift in gold’s macroeconomic drivers is not yet unequivocal, but things are clearly beginning to turn in the precious metal’s favor. [PT]

The combined stock and bond market collapse will leave few options for investor’s precious capital.  Gold and cash will be the two asset classes left standing.  Gold – a much better option than the fiat dollar – will inevitably resume its uptrend as the safe haven of last resort.

As of late-2018, despite the awful beating over the last several years, gold’s price has stabilized and is setting up for a considerable rebound.  What’s more, gold mining stocks are incredibly cheap.  Quite frankly, this could be the mother of all speculations.

The Recline and Flail of Western Civilization

Complete Societal Breakdown

By and large, the tests facing the economy have little to do with markets and everything to do with central government.  Over the last 30 years, as the Fed and the Treasury colluded to rig the financial system in totality, wealth has become ever more concentrated in fewer and fewer insider hands.  The effect over this latest period of expansion has been a disparity that is so magnified few can ignore it.

This trend will be further intensified by the forthcoming depression, which we anticipate will be in full swing in 2020.  Bitterness and contempt for wealthy insiders is already much higher than it was during prior business cycles.  Without question, this bitterness and contempt will increase to a fever pitch when this business cycle turns down.

Discontent throughout the broad population will take a financial crash and an economic collapse, and transform it into a complete societal breakdown.  Then the central government will fail the test of its making.

Rather than employing small government and sound money solutions, the discord will provide Washington the perfect cover for a much larger central authority.  They’ll offer promises to fix things while delivering a much wider range of wealth inequality.

When big government pops in to spread its love…  [PT]

In short, big government will grow bigger in 2019 and the years to follow.  At the same time, dissatisfaction, disappointment, and discontent will simmer over into mass movements, often having little clarity of purpose or tangible objective.  Many will demand big government solutions to problems of big government.

What’s left of the middle class will be destroyed as society breaks down and ceases to function.

Culture Circling the Toilet Bowl

This past year brought forward many novel insights.  New areas of enlightenment pushed out via social media came fast and furious.  The impetus for much of it came courtesy of public Universities and a foolish ethos of political correctness.

For example, on Thanksgiving Day, we learned that Charlie Brown is racist.  According to highly intelligent twitter users, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is prejudiced because Franklin, the lone black character, is shown seated by himself on one side of the table.  Do you follow the logic?

Another innovative achievement was realized here in California, with the legal recognition of a third – non-binary – gender option.  Hence, if you’re uncertain about your gender, or the nature of your gender, when applying for a driver’s license or state identification card, you can select ‘non-binary’ and move on.  Problem solved.

We also learned, while navigating the sensitivities of Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas, that the old Christmas hit song, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, is about rape.  Having this new knowledge, many radio stations in the U.S. and Canada banned it from their playlist.

The world viewed through the SJW lens…  [PT]

Alas, the countless examples like these are not signs of a culture that’s becoming more enlightened and intelligent.  Rather, they’re evidence of the recline and flail of western civilization.

To clarify, the recline and flail stage is one of many interim downward steps of the greater decline and fall of western civilization that’s been underway for the last 50 years.  Regrettably, western culture will further circle the toilet bowl in 2019.

Fake News Haymaker

But it’s not all doom and despair in 2019.  In fact, we shall end our speculations with words of hope and sunshine…

Bright minds of honest intent and high aims are working overtime to deliver an epic haymaker to the fake news media.  Be on the lookout for a major disruption in mid-2019.

Here’s to a healthy and prosperous New Year!

An Economy With Zero Human Beings In It?

An Economy With Zero Human Beings In It?

How much of the internet and digital environment many now live their lives entirely engulfed in is completely fake? A new disturbing report in New York Magazine lays out some key facts, beginning with the following astounding trend

For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

Some of the methods and data revealing just how we arrived at a largely "fake internet" were revealed by alarming Justice Department findings based on unsealed indictments against eight people involved in what's widely considered among the largest digital ad-fraud operations ever uncovered, as the accused fleeced advertisers to the tune of $36 million.

NY Mag explains of their methods, which are indicative of what's happening more broadly:

The two schemes at issue in the case, dubbed Methbot and 3ve by the security researchers who found them, faked both. Hucksters infected 1.7 million computers with malware that remotely directed traffic to “spoofed” websites — “empty websites designed for bot traffic” that served up a video ad purchased from one of the internet’s vast programmatic ad-exchanges, but that were designed, according to the indictments, “to fool advertisers into thinking that an impression of their ad was served on a premium publisher site,” like that of Vogue or The Economist. 

This resulted in an army of bots that could imitate humans producing “faked clicks, mouse movements, and social network login information to masquerade as engaged human consumers” — as one exhaustive study demonstrated. 

Studies compiled over past years suggest a general trend, notes NY Mag, that less than 60 percent off all web traffic is human, with some researchers finding a "healthy majority" of this to be bots. 

There are also perhaps simpler, or less technologically sophisticated means employed to generate fake clicks — namely the "click farm" phenomena.

The report finds, for example, that a YouTube creator wishing to up their clicks and subscribers, and thereby increase ad revenue, can hire a click farm to produce 5,000 video views for as little as $15.

The NY Mag report explains the following:

And maybe we shouldn’t even assume that the people are real. Over at YouTube, the business of buying and selling video views is “flourishing,” as the Times reminded readers with a lengthy investigation in August. The company says only “a tiny fraction” of its traffic is fake, but fake subscribers are enough of a problem that the site undertook a purge of “spam accounts” in mid-December. These days, the Times found, you can buy 5,000 YouTube views — 30 seconds of a video counts as a view — for as low as $15; oftentimes, customers are led to believe that the views they purchase come from real people. More likely, they come from bots. On some platforms, video views and app downloads can be forged in lucrative industrial counterfeiting operations. If you want a picture of what the Inversion looks like, find a video of a “click farm”: hundreds of individual smartphones, arranged in rows on shelves or racks in professional-looking offices, each watching the same video or downloading the same app.

Could we indeed be headed for — as LA Times journalist Matt Pearce put it — an economy with zero human beings in it? 

Jamal Khashoggi: Journalist Or Agent Of Influence?

Jamal Khashoggi: Journalist Or Agent Of Influence?

Authored by Jeff Charles via Liberty Nation,

Was Khashoggi more than a write and activist?

A recent article published by The Washington Post seems to reveal that there was more to Jamal Khashoggi than initially suspected. The journalist and Saudi national was allegedly murdered by the Saudi Arabian government at a consulate in Turkey during October 2018. After his disappearance, contradictory accounts regarding his identity were disseminated by the media and among Washington elites.

Jamal Khashoggi

New information has potentially revealed another layer of who Khashoggi was, and the true nature of the objective he was pursuing. But more importantly, this case also demonstrates the often-overlooked role that information warfare is constantly playing out in American society.

Ties To Qatar

In the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance, he was widely portrayed as a moderate reformer, a crusader for equality and human rights. He was an activist who had emigrated and who stood against the apparent corruption of the Saudi Arabian government by writing scathing pieces in The Washington Post, excoriating the country’s leadership. Journalists, leaders, and politicians used his death to pressure the Trump administration to take action against Riyadh and the House of Saud royal family.

But it appears there may have been more to Khashoggi’s crusade than was presented to the American public. According to The Post’s recent article on the journalist, he was working with an organization supported by the Qatari government. “Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government,” the paper reported.

Of course, the Qatar Foundation denies that they were paying Khashoggi to produce content critical of Saudi Arabia’s government. But the Security Studies Group (SSG), a think tank that deals with counterterrorism and national security issues, has found that Qatar might not be telling the truth. In a piece written for The Federalist, Jim Hanson, president of the SSG, states that sources have informed the group that “documents showing wire transfers from Qatar” were discovered in Khashoggi’s apartment in Turkey. These sources claim the Turkish authorities quickly hid the documents to conceal the alleged collusion between the journalist, Turkey, and Qatar. It’s worth pointing out that nearly all of the details relating to Khashoggi’s death were provided by Turkey’s government, which is no friend to Saudi Arabia.

According to Hanson, it is possible that Khashoggi may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act if he created propaganda for Qatar’s government without filing the appropriate paperwork with the United States. One only has to look at the legal troubles of General Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort to understand the gravity of such a revelation.

Engineering The News

People who pay attention to news and politics are aware that various players are attempting to influence policy and society through the media and other communication methods. But audiences don’t always recognize the deeper forces behind the information that is circulated on our airwaves.

It seems possible that Qatar was using Khashoggi – and possibly others – to launch an information warfare campaign against Saudi Arabia. After the journalist’s death was confirmed, many Americans urged President Trump to cut ties with Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s human rights record– was there was a concerted effort to use Khashoggi’s murder to drive a wedge between Washington and Riyadh?

Qatar has been in the midst of a diplomatic conflict with Saudi Arabia, plus it is a strong ally of Turkey and has been strengthening its ties with Russia and Iran, two countries that are often at odds with the interests of the United States and Saudi Arabia. In light of this, it makes sense that Qatar’s government would seek to undermine diplomatic ties between Trump and the up-and-coming Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who many blamed for Khashoggi’s killing.

The Information War Continues

This story demonstrates the importance of questioning the sources of the information we consume. Many may have read Khashoggi’s pieces in The Washington Post and assumed that he was a simple activist fighting against the tyranny of the Saudi Arabian government. This may be true, but it does not tell the entire story. If the recent allegations are true – and the evidence is compelling – it would appear that Khashoggi was more than an activist; he was an agent of a foreign government, fighting in an information war on behalf of Qatar. Not only that, but he was formerly associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization which has spawned multiple radical Islamic terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda.

To be fair, The Post claims that they did not know of Khashoggi’s alleged connection with the Qatari government, and there is no evidence proving that they did. However, the notion that actors working on behalf of hostile governments could use major U.S. news outlets to disseminate propaganda is disturbing.

Americans already have to sift through screeds of deceptive stories published by these outlets which seek to promote a left-wing agenda; the reality that consumers must also account for the possibility that foreign governments might manufacture U.S. news makes it even more difficult to discern fact from fiction.

Trump: Only Warren's Psychiatrist Knows Whether She Thinks She Can Win In 2020

Trump: Only Warren's Psychiatrist Knows Whether She Thinks She Can Win In 2020

In the first published excerpt from a telephone interview with Fox's Pete Hegseth that is set to air tonight during the cable news channel's New Year's Eve coverage, President Trump mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who earlier today became the first Democratic contender to formally plan a run for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Asked by Hegseth whether Warren really thinks she can defeat him in the general election, Trump responded "well, that I don't know...you’d have to ask her psychiatrist."

Trump

After Hegseth brought up Warren's announcement, Trump reminded viewers of an embarrassing political misstep from earlier this year when Warren angered Native American tribes by releasing the results of a DNA test that showed she had almost no Native American heritage - inadvertently validating the president's doubts about her claims of Native American heritage. The test showed that Warren may have had a Native American ancestor between six and ten generations ago, meaning she could be as little as 1/1,024th Native.

"Elizabeth Warren will be the first," Trump told Hegseth in the phone interview. "She did very badly in proving that she was of Indian heritage. That didn't work out too well."

"I think you have more than she does, and maybe I do too, and I have nothing," Trump said, referring to tribal heritage. "So, we’ll see how she does. I wish her well, I hope she does well, I’d love to run against her."

Trump said earlier this year that he hoped Warren would run because she would be "very easy" to beat, and that if she were elected, she would turn the US into "Venezuela." Moving on from Warren, the excerpt noted that Trump said he was waiting for top Democrats to join him in Washington to cut a deal that would resolve the federal government shutdown - though he insisted that funding for a border wall would be an essential component of any deal.

"I’m in Washington, I'm ready, willing and able. I'm in the White House, I'm ready to go," Trump said. He added that Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "can come over right now, they could've come over anytime."

Fox reported that several details of a possible deal have been floated - one of which would include $5.7 billion in funding for the wall in exchange for Congressional authorization of DACA - the Obama-era policy that allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to remain in the country.

Trump added that he had canceled his plans to travel to Mar-a-Lago during the holidays to try and work out a deal to end the shutdown.

"I spent Christmas in the White House, I spent New Year’s Eve now in the White House," Trump said. "And you know, I'm here, I’m ready to go. It's very important. A lot of people are looking to get their paycheck, so I'm ready to go whenever they want."

He added: "No, we are not giving up. We have to have border security and the wall is a big part of border security. The biggest part."

The full interview will air some time after 10 pm ET, which is when Fox's New Year's Eve coverage is set to begin.

Canadian Facing Death Penalty For Drug Smuggling As China Orders Retrial

Canadian Facing Death Penalty For Drug Smuggling As China Orders Retrial

A Chinese court has ordered a retrial for a Canadian national accused of smuggling "an enormous amount of drugs" into the Communist nation, arguing that his initial sentence of 15 years imprisonment followed by immediate deportation was too light.

The sentence, which had not been previously reported, was apparently handed down on Nov. 20. But at a hearing on Saturday, the Canadian citizen, Robert Schellenberg, prosecutors accused him of playing a key role in a major drug smuggling operation and argued that his sentence was far too light, according to Reuters.

The Associated Press reported that few details about Schellenberg's case have been released.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was tried in 2016 but his case has been publicized by the Chinese press following the Dec. 1 arrest of the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei on U.S. charges related to trading with Iran.

Drug offenses are typically punished severely in China, and drug smuggling offenses are often met with the death penalty - as in the case of a British national who was put to death in 2009 for smuggling more than 4,000 grams of heroin into the country. The initial sentence was handed down by the high court in Dalian, the top court in the northeastern province of Laioning.

Canada

The Canadian government said it has been offering consular support to Schellenberg in the case, and that it has also been in contact with Chinese officials. Canadian diplomats were at the court when the retrial was ordered. Canada has been following the case for several years, but said it couldn't offer any more details citing privacy concerns.

Though some fear that a retrial could heighten tensions between China and Canada after China detained two Canadians on charges of endangering national security, Ottawa celebrated a decision by Beijing to release a third Canadian who had been detained for allegedly working illegally in the country. China said her deportation would be counted as an "administrative punishment."

In one development that could lessen tensions, a Canadian government spokesman said on Friday that a Canadian citizen who was detained in China this month had returned to Canada after being released from custody.

The spokesman did not specify when the Canadian was released or returned to Canada. Earlier in the day, broadcaster CBC identified the citizen as teacher Sarah McIver.

China’s Foreign Ministry said this month that McIver was undergoing "administrative punishment" for working illegally.

McIver was the third Canadian to be detained by China following the Dec. 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], but a Canadian official said there was no reason to believe that the woman’s detention was linked to the earlier arrests.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland didn't mention the woman last week when she demanded that Beijing release the detained Canadians, though she did reveal that the former diplomat and businessman currently in custody in Beijing had only been allowed one visit with consular officials.

Beijing is still seething over Canada's decision to arrest Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the US. She is now out on bail as she awaits extradition. Should Schellenberger face the death penalty, it would likely ratchet up tensions between Ottawa and Beijing, which has threatened "escalation" in its ongoing diplomatic dispute with Canada.

Soros 'Person Of The Year' Indeed - The Year Globalists Pushed People's Patience To The Edge

Soros 'Person Of The Year' Indeed - The Year Globalists Pushed People's Patience To The Edge

Authored by Robert Bridge, op-ed via RT.com,

Since 2015, the proponents of neoliberalism have been pushing ahead with their plans for open borders and globalist agenda without the consent of the people. The last 365 days saw that destructive agenda greatly challenged.

In light of the epic events that shaped our world in 2018, it seems the Yellow Vests – the thousands of French citizens who took to the streets of Paris to protest austerity and the rise of inequality - would have been a nice choice for the Financial Times’ ‘person of the year’ award. Instead, that title was bestowed upon the billionaire globalist, George Soros, who has arguably done more meddling in the affairs of modern democratic states than any other person on the planet.

Perhaps FT’s controversial nomination was an attempt to rally the forces of neoliberalism at a time when populism and nascent nationalism is sweeping the planet. Indeed, the shocking images coming out of France provide a grim wake-up call as to where we may be heading if the globalists continue to undermine the power of the nation-state.

It is no secret that neoliberalism relentlessly pursues a globalized, borderless world where labor, products, and services obey the hidden hand of the free market. What is less often mentioned, however, is that this system is far more concerned with promoting the well-being of corporations and cowboy capitalists than assisting the average person on the street. Indeed, many of the world’s most powerful companies today have mutated into “stateless superpowers,” while consumers are forced to endure crippling austerity measures amid plummeting standards of living. The year 2018 could be seen as the tipping point when the grass-roots movement against these dire conditions took off.

Since 2015, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants into Germany and the EU, a groundswell of animosity has been steadily building against the European Union, perhaps best exemplified by the Brexit movement. Quite simply, many people are growing weary of the globalist argument that Europe needs migrants and austerity measures to keep the wheels of the economy spinning. At the very least, luring migrants with cash incentives to move to Germany and elsewhere in the EU appears incredibly shortsighted.

Indeed, if the globalist George Soros wants to lend his Midas touch to ameliorating the migrant’s plight, why does he think that relocating them to European countries is the solution? As is becoming increasingly apparent in places like Swedenand France, efforts to assimilate people from vastly different cultures, religions and backgrounds is an extremely tricky venture, the success of which is far from guaranteed.

One worrying consequence of Europe’s season of open borders has been the rise of far-right political movements. In fact, some of the harshest criticism of the ‘Merkel plan’ originated in Hungary, where its gutsy president, Viktor Orban, hopes to build “an old-school Christian democracy, rooted in European traditions.” Orban is simply responding to the democratic will of his people, who are fiercely conservative, yet the EU parliament voted to punish him regardless. The move shows that Brussels, aside from being adverse to democratic principles, has very few tools for addressing the rise of far-right sentiment that its own misguided policies created.

Here it is necessary to mention once again that bugbear of the political right, Mr. Soros, who has received no political mandate from European voters, yet who campaigns relentlessly on behalf of globalist initiatives through his Open Society Foundations (OSF) (That campaign just got some serious clout after Soros injected $18bn dollars of his own money into OSF, making it one of the most influential NGOs in the world).

With no small amount of impudence, Soros has condemned EU countries – namely his native Hungary – for attempting to protect their territories by constructing border barriers and fences, which he believes violate the human rights of migrants (rarely if ever does the philanthropist speak about the “human rights” of the native population). In the words of the maestro of mayhem himself: “Beggar-thy-neighbor migration policies, such as building border fences, will not only further fragment the union; they also seriously damage European economies and subvert global human rights standards.

Through a leaked network of compromised EU parliamentarians who do his bidding, Soros says the EU should spend $30 billion euros ($33bln) to accommodate “at least 300,000 refugees each year.” How will the EU pay for the resettling of migrants from the Middle East? Soros has an answer for that as well. He calls it “surge funding,” which entails “raising a substantial amount of debt backed by the EU’s relatively small budget.

Any guesses who will be forced to pay down the debt on this high-risk venture? If you guessed George Soros, guess again. The already heavily taxed people of Europe will be forced to shoulder that heavy burden. To finance it, new European taxes will have to be levied sooner or later, Soros admits. That comment is very interesting in light of the recent French protests, which were triggered by Emmanuel Macron’s plan to impose a new fuel tax. Was the French leader, a former investment banker, attempting to get back some of the funds being used to support the influx of new arrivals into his country? The question seems like a valid one, and goes far at explaining the ongoing unrest.

At this point, it is worth remembering what triggered the exodus of migrants into Europe in the first place. A large part of the answer comes down to unlawful NATO operations on the ground of sovereign states. Since 2003, the 29-member military bloc, under the direct command of Washington, has conducted illicit military operations in various places around the globe, including in Iraq, Libya and Syria. These actions, which could be best described as globalism on steroids, have opened a Pandora’s Box of global scourges, including famine, terrorism and grinding poverty. Is this what the Western states mean by ‘humanitarian activism’? If the major EU countries really want to flout their humanitarian credentials, they could have started by demanding the cessation of regime-change operations throughout the Middle East and North Africa, which created such inhumane conditions for millions of innocent people.

This failure on the part of Western capitals to speak out against belligerent US foreign policy helps to explain why a number of other European governments are experiencing major shakeups. Sebastian Kurz, 32, won over the hearts of Austrian voters by promising to tackle unchecked immigration. In super-tolerant Sweden, which has accepted more migrants per capita than any other EU state, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party garnered 17.6 percent of the vote in September elections – up from 12.9 percent in the previous election. And even Angela Merkel, who is seen by many people as the de facto leader of the European Union, is watching her political star crash and burn mostly due to her bungling of the migrant crisis. In October, after her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) suffered a stinging setback in Bavaria elections, which saw CDU voters abandon ship for the anti-immigrant AfD and the Greens, Merkel announced she would resign in 2021 after her current term expires.

Meanwhile, back in the US, the government of President Donald Trump has been shut down as the Democrats refuse to grant the American leader the funds to build a wall on the Mexican border – despite the fact that he essentially made it to the White House on precisely that promise. Personally, I find it very hard to believe that any political party that does not support a strong and viable border can continue to be taken seriously at the polls for very long. Yet that is the very strategy that the Democrats have chosen. But I digress.

The lesson that Western governments should have learned over the last year from these developments is that there exists a definite red line that the globalists cross at risk not only to the social order, but to their own political fortunes. Eventually the people will demand solutions to their problems – many of which were caused by reckless neoliberal programs and austerity measures.

This collective sense of desperation may open the door to any number of right-wing politicians only too happy to meet the demand.

Better to provide fair working conditions for the people while maintaining strong borders than have to face the wrath of the street or some political charlatan later. Whether or not Western leaders will change their neoliberal ways as a populist storm front approaches remains to be seen, but I for one am not betting on it.

Louisiana Police Departments Offering "Home Visit" To Test Meth For Zika Virus

Louisiana Police Departments Offering "Home Visit" To Test Meth For Zika Virus

This is not The Onion, but an actual public safety notice issued by police in Louisiana. The Harahan Police Department is asking people who might have crystal meth in their possession to get it tested for the deadly Zika Virus by bringing it to their local police station

The invitation and warning was posted to the department's Facebook page to spread awareness of the "threat" while offering "test" batches of meth "for free" at their department, and further advising all state residents possibly in possession of crystal methamphetamine to bring it to a local police department. 

And in what appears the most epic police attempt yet at uncovering and busting meth labs across the state, the department goes so far as to offer a home visit for "those not comfortable going to the police station." The post is signed Officer Moody. 

The Harahan Police Department announcement adds to the dubitable offer:

For those not comfortable going to the police station, if you make the call, an officer will be glad to come to you and test your Meth in the privacy of your home. Please spread the word!

We can only imagine the paranoid and hilarious conversations to ensue among area meth producers and addicts. Perhaps police will have the "success" stories later posted online as well in the form of police reports and mug shots? 

It turns out that it is a tongue-in-cheek tactic to fight the dangerous drug epidemic involving the homemade ultra-addictive substance that came to greater national attention by the hit series Breaking Bad. Other police departments over the past few years have tried it, apparently with little to no results, though surely it gets a big laugh at police stations — especially on the rare occasion that someone just might actually bring their meth to police. 

 

For example, police in a small Michigan town once tried to same thing with almost the exact same post:

Bailey said he put it out as a joke, but said the post has drawn attention to crystal meth and other drug issues.

"Crystal meth is poison. It's evil. Anything that will take a mother's love from a child is a bad drug. Anything that will make a man lose custody of his children and not be able to see them is evil. Yeah, we're going to combat it any way we can," Bailey said.

Bailey said no one has turned in their meth, yet.

And another public "Zika warning" related to meth out of Ohio drew national attention years ago, but with no results, perhaps just a lot of laughs, per CNN:

Can meth really be a host for Zika? No, the virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Has anyone taken the police up on their offer? No.

So what, then? "Make a catchy post, people see it, people share it," Assistant Police Chief Dennis Blankenship said.

Meanwhile, in Idaho...

Nope...i'm not falling for it again.

Other past public notices have involved "testing Meth for Gluten" for those needing to go with Gluten-free meth. 

If the police are going to attempt to "fool" the public, we only ask that should they actually make a meth bust via a gullible dealer calling them for a "home visit" to a makeshift lab on some remote country property, that they film and document every moment of it for posterity.