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20 января, 02:25

Marshawn Lynch On Trump: "That Motherf***er Says A Lot Of Sh*t"

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After a lull of more than a year, the feud between President Trump and Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch has been brought back to life. During an appearance on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher", the football player most famous for winning a Superbowl with the Seattle Seahawks and coining the phrase "Beast Mode" offered a few choice criticisms of President Trump, becoming the latest celebrity to pile on the president since the shutdown began. Ask about Trump's accusations that Lynch behaved unpatriotically by sitting for the national anthem (before returning to his feet for the Mexican national anthem), Lynch didn't mince words. “That motherf---er say a lot of shit,” Lynch told host Maher during the program. “But at the end of the day,” Lynch continued,  “you call me unpatriotic but you come to the neighborhood where I'm from and you'll see me take the shirt off my back and give it to someone in less need, what would you call that?” After Lynch's controversial act in November 2017, Trump blasted him in a tweet. Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017 Lynch had previously captured headlines by wearing a shirt that read "Everybody vs. Trump". Beast mode went there.... pic.twitter.com/UdeILDolym — Damien Woody (@damienwoody) October 1, 2017 Maher has repeatedly made his show a platform for critics of the president...though he has also occasionally taken shots at Trump's former campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.

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20 января, 02:00

Hypersonic Weapons Unlikely To Become A Bargaining Chip

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Authored by Vladimir Kozin via Oriental Review, There is a marked unease in US military and defence industry circles regarding advances in high-precision hypersonic weapons that they believe are being actively developed in Russia and the People’s Republic of China. The debates at various US forums in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of this one, as well as expert publications on the subject, show that Washington sees the situation as a serious threat both to itself and to its NATO allies. In November 2018, the weekly magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly published a detailed and alarmist article entitled “Strategic Impact” about the six new types of Russian strike weapons that Russian president Vladimir Putin announced in his address to the Federal Assembly in March of the same year. In December 2018, it was expressly stated in the US Government Accountability Office that the United States lacks the defences needed to protect itself against Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons. In an article published in early January 2019 in the online edition of The Hill, retired Major General Howard Thompson, a former chief of staff for the US Northern Command, talks about “fourth dimension” weapons, which he believes have already been mastered by Russia and China. He also notes with concern that both countries have long been developing such weapons. By way of example, he referred to the recent flight test of a Russian hypersonic glide vehicle known as the Avangard, which official reports say reached 27 times the speed of sound. This means that the object was moving at a speed of over 30,000 km/hour. America is also concerned about Beijing’s capabilities in this area. As noted by Howard Thompson, China is also proving itself in its attempts to reach a similar level of high-tech weapons. According to Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Dr Mike Griffin, Beijing has conducted “more tests in the past year than the United States has conducted over the past decade”. As well as acknowledging the fact that the US is lagging far behind Russia and China in this area and urging the country to catch up, Washington is also thinking about how convenient it would be to force Moscow and Beijing to abandon their success or, at the very least, to slow down the further development of emerging high-precision hypersonic systems. Various information-based, demonstration, and diplomatic techniques have been used to accomplish this aim. It was deliberately leaked to the US media that the US Air Force is working on the development of a hypersonic glider that will allegedly be able to travel five times faster than the speed of sound, and that the US Army is planning to adopt a similar platform, called the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which will have a slightly shorter flight range. As was pointed out, however, these developments are still far from complete. It is clear that the Pentagon was simply trying to make an impression on China and Russia last year when the US Navy tested around 20 hyper velocity projectiles it is planning to use with both ground and naval artillery systems. American engineers behind the technology were unable to attract even the attention of experts at the US Naval Institute, however, since such projectiles only approach the speed of hypersonic flight or slightly exceed it. With regard to Russia, there was a naive proposal in 2018 that the United States would scrupulously adhere to the INF Treaty if Russia abandoned its Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle. It is too late, however, since Moscow will not now give up a system on the development of which America has been lagging behind for decades. It is too late to try and rectify the complicated situation that the United States now finds itself in, by its own doing, after withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and beginning an uncontrolled build-up of anti-missile weapons along with the deployment of strike components and surveillance and reporting systems on the borders of Russia and its allies. It is too late when the US has already decided to completely overhaul and modernise its strategic and tactical nuclear weapons while maintaining its first-strike strategy against Russia and China. It is too late given that the United States and its NATO allies have unjustifiably started to increase the number of heavy conventional weapons and the number of military exercises and manoeuvres on Russia’s borders. It is also extremely one-sided, because Washington should simply abide by the INF Treaty in full without any artificial links or unrelated clauses if it still somehow considers the treaty to be important in the sphere of arms control. It is one-sided because Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle does not fall under the restrictions of this open-ended treaty, despite America’s vain efforts to try and shoe horn it in. In fact, it will enter into service with the Russian Armed Forces this year. In this context, it is worth reminding the US State Department and the US Department of Defense that on 11 December 2018, while testing the effectiveness of its global missile defence system, US naval forces intercepted a medium-range target that is prohibited under the INF Treaty. This test was America’s 96th violation of the treaty in the past 17 years. In 2019, the Pentagon intends to violate the treaty another 12 times. Doesn’t that seem like far too many US violations of a single treaty when Russia has not violated it once? The above number suggests that America actually withdrew from the treaty a long time, but is brazenly trying to accuse the other party of non-compliance while misleading the entire global community. The country also withdrew from the treaty politically when, at the UN General Assembly in December 2018, it was unequivocally opposed to the adoption of a draft resolution in support of the INF Treaty. Given all these circumstances, it is unlikely that Washington will be able to count on certain trade-offs with Moscow in the sphere of hypersonic systems. Why? Because Moscow will get a whole lot of nothing in return. That’s why any bargaining between Moscow and Washington is simply inappropriate.

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20 января, 01:35

This Is The Reason Smart TVs Are So Cheap 

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A significant reason why a smart TV, or perhaps a new 65-inch 4K smart TV with HDR capability, can be purchased for about $500, is because some manufacturers are harvesting data from users. Vizio’s Chief Technology Officer, Bill Baxter, outlined the strategy to The Verge during the Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada last Monday. "This is a cutthroat industry. It's a 6% margin industry," Baxter said. "The greater strategy is I really don't need to make money off of the TV. I need to cover my cost." More specifically, electronic manufacturers like Vizio have figured out that they can sell smart TVs at, or around cost, and concentrate on data harvesting and post-purchase monetization. As Baxter put it: "It's not just about data collection. It's about post-purchase monetization of the TV." He explained there are several ways to monetize smart TVs: "You sell some movies, you sell some TV shows, you sell some ads, you know." Baxter said, without the additional forms of revenue, consumers would be paying higher premiums for smart TVs. "We'd collect a little bit more margin at retail to offset it." Listen to the full interview here  Vizio TVs, have the ability, with user opt-in, track anything that is on the TV, what the company calls “automatic content recognition.” That data used to be sold off to third-party data aggregators, but after the Federal Trade Commission and New Jersey slapped the company with a multi-million dollar fine in 2017.  Legal documents from the case reportedly show that Vizio installed software on 11 million smart TVs to track viewing habits without consumers' knowledge. Now, Vizio keeps the data but sells targeted advertising in a platform model like Google and Facebook. So you must be wondering how much data is Vizio collecting from smart TVs? Well, the Verge’s editor-in-chief, Nilay Patel, tweeted that a connected VIZIO P-Series Class 4K HDR Smart TV pings a server over 500,000 times a week or nearly once every second, much more than the typical device. My parents’ brand new Vizio P-Series TV (which is not set up to stream anything, they have an Apple TV) pings a server 10x more than any other device they own pic.twitter.com/C7BHyFmzAh — nilay patel (@reckless) January 6, 2019 Vizio is watching you...

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20 января, 01:10

Decentralization Is The Solution To The Government Shutdown Problem

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Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, The partial shutdown with the federal government has helped, perhaps more than any other recent political event, to illustrate some of the biggest problems that come with centralizing an ever-larger number of government activities within a single, centralized institution. Were the US government more decentralized, we'd not now be facing a nationwide systemic failure that has continues to cripple the private sector in many ways. Held Hostage by a Shuttered Regulatory State The federalization of resources and regulatory power over the past century has created a situation in which numerous industries depend on licensing and regulatory approval from federal regulators to function. And yet, thanks to the shutdown, these industries can do little when facing a federal government that imposes mandates, but won't provide the agency "services" necessary to allow agencies to function under those mandates. For example, As The Washington Post has reported , those areas where the federal government has a large regulatory footprint — such as Alaska — are at the mercy of politicians thousands of miles away. Most (61 percent) of Alaska is government land managed by five different federal agencies, according to the congressional Research Service. The state’s main industries, including fishing, tourism and oil and gas, all depend on the day-to-day actions of federal workers and regulators. The fisheries have so far avoided major disruption, despite a few close calls. Most boats are still getting by on licenses and inspections which occurred before the shutdown. But time is running out. Major commercial boats are required to carry onboard observers to monitor their catch. But when they return from a trip, those observers must be debriefed by the National Marine Fisheries Service — and it’s not holding debriefings during the shutdown. Alaska is an extreme example, but other states that also have sizable federal ownership of land (which includes most western US states) are also affected. Nationwide, states with coastal states that depend on the smooth-functioning of federal regulation of fisheries and natural resources affected as well. And it doesn't end with natural resources. With the Tax and Trade Bureau shut down , breweries can't ship beer. That leaves an entire industry up in the air, and small craft brewers are affected the most. As the shutdown continues, more of these workers can expect their paychecks to eventually dry up due to a lack of revenue. Meanwhile, the FTC, the SEC, and the FCC are all partially shut down . Some anti-government activists might look at this and say, "great, we don't need those agencies anyway!" But here's the problem: although those agencies' staff members may be staying home, that doesn't mean the private sector is no longer subject to the mandates and regulations those agencies oversee. Private companies still must obtain all the usual licenses and regulatory approvals from federal agencies. It's jsut that federal agencies are no longer available to make approvals or answer questions. That's hardly something to celebrate. In short, all the usual federal roadblocks exist to stymie the private sector. Except now, there are even fewer ways to get around those roadblocks. What's even worse is that this problem is nationwide. Were these regulatory powers and agencies decentralized out of the hands of the federal government, of course, we wouldn't be looking at a nationwide problem. Were a single state to experience a "shutdown" — something that is extremely rare at the state level, by the way — we wouldn't now be facing a nationwide problem in which whole industries are facing crippling regulatory bottlenecks. Problems would be limited to single states. And those states that were prone to shutdowns or other regulatory bottlenecks would see an exodus of industry and capital. Nor would we be facing a situation in which 800,000 federal employees — nationwide — are currently unpaid. This is a problem that has been made much larger in scope by the centralization of government power. The Federal Government Has Too Many Issues on Its Plate Another reason to decentralize is to end a situation in which government shutdowns are more likely due to the broad scope and complexity of the federal budget and federal responsibilities. In the United States, the federal government's prerogatives have expanded over the past century to include everything from old-age pensions, to highways, to health care regulation, to farming subsidies, and much more. This has all been added on top of the more traditional federal prerogatives of foreign policy. It's only natural then that the likelihood of shutdowns would increase as the number of areas for political conflict increases. After all, the current shutdown does not come out of only a dispute over of a border wall. It is a larger issue that stems from the fact that the Democrats want to use the wall's potential funding for a myriad of other uses. And, the larger the federal government has grown, the possible targets for government spending has grown ever larger. Moreover, even the issue of building border walls was not always a federal issue. Prior to the late nineteenth century, state governments were the governments that dealt with the issue of limiting migrants in-flows. Although some conservatives now create ornate legal arguments in attempts to prove immigration — a separate issue from naturalization — has always been a job of the federal government, the actual historical experience makes it clear the federalization of immigration policy is itself a later innovation. So, we're now left with a federal government where the president and the legislature can argue endlessly over every little thing under the sun. If it's the federal government's job to control and fund everything from cancer research to national parks, then it's only matter of time until we endure a political impasse over one of the countless issues being discussed. Nor is it just the scope of issues. The sheer size and scope of the United States is itself problematic. The US is so large, and culturally and demographically diverse, that significant disagreements over how federal prerogatives ought to be used are inevitable. A less fragile and more responsive system grows out of a decentralized political system that allows for diversity in policies that affect travel, education, poverty relief, and more. If education policy, for instance, is decided at the state level, then we can be sure we'll never see a federal shutdown over funding of schools. It simply becomes a non-issue at the federal level. The Solution Lies in Decentralization The solution lies in removing from the federal government its authority over such a wide range of issues, and to allow diversity and localism in government. This naturally includes welfare programs, public lands, airport security, law enforcement, military land forces, immigration, and the regulatory state. As it is, American governmental institutions — being so dependent on federal funding and regulatory oversight — are now fragile, bloated, unresponsive, and prone to political bottlenecks. We now see this at work.  The problems we now encounter with the shutdown ought to placed squarely at the feet of those who have called endless for ever greater levels of federal control over state and local communities, while centralizing both financial and regulatory power under within a single institution. Not everything needs to turn into a nationwide systemic problem when the federal government encounters a political impasse. We ought to take steps now to limit the damage the feds can do.

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20 января, 01:00

Review: Anson Calder Calfskin iPhone Case

New York's Anson Calder offers a luxury minimalist iPhone case in calfskin leather.

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20 января, 01:00

Papua New Guinea Clans Unite Against Exxon

Papuan landowners and communities in the vicinity of Exxon’s Papua New Guinea LNG project are growing increasingly disgruntled about how the company and the national government are handling royalty distribution, a Reuters investigation has found. This sentiment has led to inter-communal clashes in some areas and might lead to more serious trouble for the project. “Our clans fought each other, but now there is peace; we are one team fighting Exxon.” These are the words of a local clan leader, Johnson Tape, one of 16 such leaders…

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20 января, 00:53

Dee Ford And Others 49ers Should Watch On NFL Championship Sunday

The San Francisco 49ers are not playing on NFL Championship Sunday. But here are five players, including Dee Ford, the team should be watching.

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20 января, 00:45

This Is The One Chart Every Trader Should Have "Taped To Their Screen"

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After a year of tapering, the Fed’s balance sheet finally captured the market’s attention during the last three months of 2018. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Fed had finished raising the caps on monthly roll-off of its balance sheet to the full $50bn per month (peaking at $30bn USTs, $20bn MBS, although on many months the B/S does not actually shrink by this full amount which depends on the redemption schedule) and by end-Q4 markets also experienced some of the largest volatility and drawdowns in nearly a decade. As Nomura's George Concalves writes in a Friday letter, whether it was a coincidence or not, broader markets questioned the Fed’s original view that B/S roll-off was going to be like “watching paint dry.” Indeed, recent Fedspeak has shifted to being more open-minded, with Fed policy makers suggesting that they are prepared to be “flexible” in implementing their balance sheet policy. The reason for that is that as both the market and the Fed (and especially Chicago Fed president Charles Evans) were violently reminded, just as QE added liquidity and boosted all asset prices, so QT is draining liquidity from the system. Worse, as Marko Kolanovic wrote in his latest report from Jan 16, given the recent collapse in liquidity and the toxic feedback loop of flows- liquidity-volatility which we discussed last week, "investors are very attentive to monetary policy measures that may affect liquidity." And since the most closely watched metric of systemic liquidity is once again the pace of the Fed’s balance sheet change, and specifically, reduction, Kolanovic notes the recent example of a sharply negative market reaction to the comment that balance sheet reduction (Quantitative Tightening or QT) will be on autopilot (and positive reaction when this statement was later modified). Additionally, even casual remarks on the balance sheet has dramatic and "significantly negative intraday impacts on markets" (such as Powell's recent remarks that the balance sheet should be "substantially smaller"). But why, Kolanovic asks rhetorically, is there such a focus on the Fed’s balance sheet from investors? The answer is obvious: by now only clueless hacks will deny that adding liquidity in the form of QE was the single, most important factor driving asset classes higher over the past decade. According to JPMorgan, the impact of QE was ~20% of equity prices (see the bank's report here). Yet while qualitatively the answer is simple, complications arise when one tries to quantify the impact of the balance sheet shrinkage. Specifically, as the JPM quant notes, the questions investors struggle with are how negative was/will be the impact of the QT, to wit: "It is plausible that dollar for dollar, QT has a significantly larger impact than QE." The reason for that, according to Kolanovic, has to do that may be the previously discussed fragility feedback loop. During QE, both central banks and investors, and certainly HFTs and algos, would broadly buy assets in an environment of low volatility/ increased liquidity when the impact is small, while during QT "assets are typically sold while liquidity is removed, compounding the negative impact of other outflows." Others have also tried to quantify the impact of QT on risk assets, most recently Morgan Stanley, which last week calculated that every $20 billion decline in Mortgage Backed Securities held by the Fed leads to a 0.37% drop in the S&P (curiously, MS found that S&P 500 returns are not significantly correlated with changes in the Fed's Treasury holdings, although that observations will surely be retested soon). As a result, Morgan Stanley calculates that based on the recent MBS runoff of $15bn per month, the projected S&P 500 return impact is -3.3% for 2019, with the real estate sector hit the hardest. Yet while Morgan Stanley believes it may have found the causality link between the Fed's B/S size and its impact on the market, JPM disagrees, and in his note Kolanovic assets that to his knowledge, "there is no broadly accepted understanding of the exact mechanics and magnitude of QT’s impact (e.g., how much it is a signal to the market, vs. mechanical supply/demand and price impact)." Instead, he suggests that while there is a significant relationship between the Fed’s balance sheet changes and the market, the big drivers of this relationship are points when the large QE programs were announced such as March 2009 (e.g., when this point is taken out, the relationship no longer appears statistically significant). In other words, unlike Morgan Stanley's attempt to extrapolate correlation into causation, JPMorgan is more intellectually honest, stating that "whatever the real mechanical impact of QT is, the indirect impact on market sentiment is likely much larger", in other words stocks drop as traders expect QT to drain liquidity and impair stocks, selling in the process and resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a somewhat similar analysis, Nomura fixed income strategist George Concalves suggests a compromise option, noting that while his own analysis found little correlation of the smaller balance sheet to the SP500 ("unlike what was seen during the QE days where stocks had an eerie visual relationship to the actual size of the B/S") he did notice weekly B/S changes could be impacting markets. As an example, he notes that the weeks where MBS holdings were paying down and/or weeks around the time the total size of the roll-off for both UST and MBS exceeded $20bn, markets would come under pressure with the most striking of those periods at the time being the February VIX shock. Additionally, in 2018 there were some “chunky” roll-off and around those weeks there was market volatility and drawdowns (especially in late October and November). To fine tune its analysis, Nomura looked at market performance for a few weeks after large roll-off weeks. It found that while in Feb 2018 it looks like the higher 10yr rates impulse was just as easily the driver of the SP500 declines a couple weeks later, by end-2018 the QT narrative was well entrenched and even then stocks would decline either before or after the larger rolloff periods. So confirming Kolanovic's view that QT is a self-fulfilling prophecy, Goncalves muses that perhaps "markets were anticipating these moves and discounted them. Meanwhile, going back to Kolanovic's reflexive take on QT and the market, the JPM strategist notes recent intraday movements on balance sheet mentions, as well as the price action of the S&P 500 during Q4 shown in the chart below. So what does all this mean for markets? The answer remains generally unclear, with Nomura concluding that while it believes that "QT is tightening", it is not "straight forward and seems to come in rolling aftershocks of liquidity draining and markets adjusting positions." Meanwhile, the more actue impact of MBS QT on markets "makes sense as those securities are not zero-risk weight (as are USTs) and take up capital and/or need to be a substitutes for other credit products (which impacts FCI)." Going back to Kolanovic, the JPM quant generally agrees with Nomura, and writes that while there may be little or no mechanical impact on equity prices, most macro traders will not "fight the Fed", meaning when liquidity is added they are buying assets, and when liquidity is removed they are selling assets. Finally, to justify his thesis that QT, for now at least, impacts markets largely as a result of feedback loops and quirks in behavioral finance, Kolanovic also notes that over the past months, "we have heard a large number of  anecdotes where investors avoid buying risky assets during (or actively sell into) weeks when there is a significant balance sheet reduction, e.g., traders taping the schedule to their screens, blogs and email chains, etc.." JPMorgan's conclusion: whatever the mechanism or sequence of events by which QT affects markets, there is no denying that the shrinking of the Fed's balance sheet does affect the S&P in an adverse way: "balance sheet reductions put significant strain on market sentiment, on flows and on the weakest link in the market – the liquidity-volatility-flow feedback loop. If the balance sheet reduction is a signal to sell, volatility increases, liquidity decreases, and additional systematic flows are triggered." As a result, Kolanovic warns that "balance sheet driven market fragility is thus increasing the risk of market disruptions and ultimately the risk of a recession – which is in contrast to policy makers’ intentions." Naturally one can argue this point very easily, and note that if true, then Kolanovic's assessment suggests that absent the Fed's balance sheet, the world would be in a singular depression right now if indeed the modest shrinkage of the Fed's balance sheet from $4.5TN to $3.9TN risked a recession. Consider that there is still another almost $2 trillion to go before the Balance sheet is "renormalized" and one can see why the Fed is not only trapped, but will never be able to renormalize without jeopardizing both the fake market and global economy erected over the past decade on the back of $16 trillion in central bank balance sheet expansion, i.e. liquidity. But that's a problem for another day. For now, we'll conclude with the schedule that JPMorgan says "traders tape to their screens, blogs and email chains" - the complete QT calendar consisting of past and projected Fed Balance sheet QT periods, courtesy of Nomura's George Goncalves. Needless to say, self-fulfilling prophecy is most likely to be validated during the "dangerous" QT weeks which are highlighted in red, when the Fed's balance sheet shrinks especially aggressively,such as Feb 20, April 3, and May 1 and 15.

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20 января, 00:27

The Disappointing 'Glass' Plot Twist, Explained

What it meant, and why it was disappointing.

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20 января, 00:22

Democrats Reject Trump's "BRIDGE Act" Deal, Say "Not A Good Faith Effort"

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Well that didn't take long. In fact, even before President Trump has issued his "major announcement," Democratic leaders were pre-emptively rejecting his ideas. Trump's BRIDGE Act made two offers to Democrats in exchange for $5.7 billion in funds for a border wall: Extend DACA protections for Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. Half an hour before the speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement: "Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives." Pelosi further slammed the deal for not including “the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.” Additionally, Democratic Whip Dick Durbin also issued a statement: "First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today.  Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate.  Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues." A Democratic aide characterized the forthcoming offer from Trump as "non-serious product."  "Dems were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously. It’s clearly a non serious product of negotiations amongst [White House] staff to try to clean up messes the president created in the first place. [The President] is holding more people hostage for his wall," the aide said.  Day 30 of the shutdown seems inevitable...

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20 января, 00:20

Curious Bedfellows: The Neocon And Progressive Alliance To Destroy Donald Trump

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via OffGuardian.com, The Roman poet Ovid’s masterful epic The Metamorphoses includes the memorable opening line regarding the poem’s central theme of transformation. He wrote In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, which has been translated as “Of shapes transformed to bodies strange, I purpose to entreat…” Ovid framed his narrative around gods, heroes and quasi-historical events but if he were around today, he would no doubt be fascinated by the many transformations of the group that has defined itself as neoconservative. The movement began in a cafeteria in City College of New York in the 1930s, where a group of radical Jewish students would meet to discuss politics and developments in Europe. Many of the founders were from the far left, communists of the Trotskyite persuasion, which meant that they believed in permanent global revolution led by a vanguard party. The transformation into conservatives of a neo-persuasion took place when they were reportedly “mugged by reality” into accepting that the standard leftist formulae were not working to transform the world rapidly enough. As liberal hawks, they then hitched their wagon to the power of the United States to bring about transformation by force if necessary and began to infiltrate institutions like the Pentagon to give themselves the tools to achieve their objectives, which included promotion of regime change wars, full spectrum global dominance and unconditional support for Israel. The neocons initially found a home with Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, but they moved on in the 1970s and 1980s to prosper under Ronald Reagan as well as under Democrat Bill Clinton. Their ability to shape policy peaked under George W. Bush, when they virtually ran the Pentagon and were heavily represented in both the national security apparatus and in the White House. They became adept at selling their mantra of “strong national defense” to whomever was buying, including to President Obama, even while simultaneously complaining about his administration’s “weakness.” The neoconservatives lined up behind Hillary Clinton in 2016, appalled by Donald Trump’s condemnation of their centerpiece war in Iraq and even more so by his pledge to end the wars in Asia and nation-building projects while also improving relations with the Russians. They worked actively against the Republican candidate both before he was nominated and elected and did everything they could to stop him, including libeling him as a Russian agent. When Trump was elected, it, therefore, seemed that the reign of the neocons had ended, but chameleonlike, they have changed shape and are now ensconced both in some conservative as well as in an increasing number of progressive circles in Washington and in the media. Against all odds, they have even captured key posts in the White House itself with the naming of John Bolton as National Security Adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Bolton’s Chief of Staff is Fred Fleitz, a leading neocon and Islamophobe while last week Trump added Iran hawk Richard Goldberg to the National Security Council as director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction. Goldberg is an alumnus of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is the leading neocon think tank calling incessantly for war with Iran. Meanwhile, the neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint. Glenn Greenwald reports that, based on polling of party supporters, the Democrats have gone full-Hillary and are now by far more hawkish than the Republicans, unwilling to leave either Syria or Afghanistan. The neocon survival and rejuvenation is particularly astonishing in that they have been wrong about virtually everything, most notably the catastrophic Iraq War. They have never been held accountable for anything, though one should note that accountability is not a prominent American trait, at least since Vietnam. What is important is that neocon views have been perceived by the media and punditry as being part of the Establishment consensus, which provides them with access to programming all across the political spectrum. That is why neocon standard-bearers like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have been able to move effortlessly from Fox News to MSNBC where they are fêted by the likes of Rachel Maddow. They applauded the Iraq War when the Establishment was firmly behind it and are now trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency because America’s elite is behind that effort. Indeed, the largely successful swing by the neocons from right to left has in some ways become more surreal, as an increasing number of progressive spokesmen and institutions have lined up behind their perpetual warfare banner. The ease with which the transformation took place reveals, interestingly, that the neocons have no real political constituency apart from voters who feel threatened and respond by supporting perpetual war, but they do share many common interests with the so-called liberal interventionists. Neocons see a global crisis for the United States defined in terms of power while the liberals see the struggle as a moral imperative, but the end result is the same: intervention by the United States. This fusion is clearly visible in Washington, where the Clintons’ Center for American Progress (CAP) is now working on position papers with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). One of the most active groups attacking President Trump is “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” founded by Bill Kristol in January 2018, as a component of Defending Democracy Together(DDT), a 501(c)4 lobbying group that also incorporates projects called The Russia Tweets and Republicans Against Putin. Republicans Against Putin promotes the view that President Trump is not “stand[ing] up to [Vladimir] Putin” and calls for more aggressive investigation of the Russian role in the 2016 election. DDT is a prime example of how the neoconservatives and traditional liberal interventionists have come together as it is in part funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire co-founder of eBay who has provided DDT with $600,000 in two grants through his Democracy Fund Voice, also a 501(c)4. Omidyar is a political liberal who has given millions of dollars to progressive organizations and individuals since 1999. Indeed, he is regarded as a top funder of liberal causesin the United States and even globally together with Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. His Democracy Fund awarded $9 million in grants in 2015 alone. Last week, the Omidyar-Kristol connection may have deepened with an announcement regarding the launch of the launch of a new webzine The Bulwark, which would clearly be at least somewhat intended to take the place of the recently deceased Weekly Standard. It is promoting itself as the center of the “Never Trump Resistance” and it is being assumed that at least some of the Omidyar money is behind it. Iranian-born Omidyar’s relationship with Kristol is clearly based on the hatred that the two share regarding Donald Trump. Omidyar has stated that Trump is a “dangerous authoritarian demagogue... endorsing Donald Trump immediately disqualifies you from any position of public trust.” He has tweeted that Trump suffers from “failing mental capacity” and is both “corrupt and incapacitated.” Omidyar is what he is – a hardcore social justice warrior who supports traditional big government and globalist liberal causes, most of which are antithetical to genuine conservatives. But what is interesting about the relationship with Kristol is that it also reveals what the neoconservatives are all about. Kristol and company have never been actual conservatives on social issues, a topic that they studiously avoid, and their foreign policy is based on two principles: creating a state of perpetual war based on fearmongering about foreign enemies while also providing unlimited support for Israel. Kristol hates Trump because he threatens the war agenda while Omidyar despises the president for traditional progressive reasons. That hatred is the tie that binds and it is why Bill Kristol, a man possessing no character and values whatsoever, is willing to take Pierre Omidyar’s money while Pierre is quite happy to provide it to destroy a common enemy, the President of the United States of America.

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