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Zero Hedge
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16 февраля, 07:10

Trifecta Of Folly: Pritzker Admin's Pension Plan For Illinois Will Center On The Three Worst Ideas Available

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Authored by Mark Glennon via WirePoints.com, Deputy Governor Dan Hynes today released the first details of the Pritzker Administration’s plan for addressing Illinois’ pension crisis. The administration will pursue three of the worst ideas available: First, the state will borrow to pay off pension debt by offering a $2 billion pension obligation bond. We and many others have already written very extensively on why pension obligation bonds are irresponsible.  One credit card to another solves nothing and adds risk. Second, the state will kick the can on its ramp for taxpayer pension contributions out seven years. The new goal for reaching 90% funding (which is still inadequate) will be 2052. Your grandchildren will fully understand why pensions are called “intergenerational theft. Third, the state will gift public assets to the pensions. The particular assets and their value remain to be identified, but speculation has centered on the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Lottery and government office buildings. The concept goes by the name “asset transfer.” We explained why it’s a sham in an article just yesterday. A pension actuary writing in Forbes did the same. The combined effect of the first two is odd. All $2 billion from the bond offering will go immediately to the pensions, but the regularly scheduled pension contribution for the upcoming fiscal year will drop by $800 million. That $800 million will be needed by the administration to balance the upcoming budget, to which it has firmly committed. Pritzker’ budget speech will be on February 20 and will have the details. We have no idea how Pritzker will be able to claim a balanced budget, even with that $800 million and even using all the gimmicks available under the phony budget accounting rules used by the state. Those phony accounting rules show the upcoming budget to be $3.2 billion short, according to the Pritzker administration. But see my colleagues’ article showing why, if the state were truly paying its bills, the shortfall would be $9 billion. In other words, the true shortfall amounts to almost one-fourth of the budget, almost three times the government number Pritzker is using, which most of the press falls for. We can’t say this often enough: The budget numbers the regular press focus on are junk, and shortfalls of the magnitude Illinois faces cannot be fixed without drastic, structural remedies. Deputy Governor Hynes and Governor Pritzker The pension specifics were part of a speech delivered by Hynes at the City Club, the full text of which is linked here. Also in the speech, Hynes repeatedly trumpeted a progressive income tax as the gold at the end of the rainbow. “The fair income tax will change the arc of this state’s finances in a very positive way – forever,” he said. He already has some of it spent. The state, he says, will dedicate $200 million per year out of the additional revenue from a progressive income tax to pensions, in addition already scheduled taxpayer contributions. Good grief. $200 million per year is almost meaningless. Currently, pension and related healthcare contributions are running about $6 billion short of what actuaries say they should be, as my colleagues’ piece today explains. And the progressive tax requires a constitutional amendment that the public will have to vote on, which can be no earlier than 2020. We think its chances are slim. Pritzker and his party seem drunk on their overwhelming election success last year, believing their own you-know-what about the progressive utopia they painted for voters. In reality, the “fair tax” panacea for our fiscal crisis is myth, which is why Pritzker has never offered specifics. We’ve documented why repeatedly. It either won’t raise much money or the rates would be absurdly high, even for the middle class. Pritzker’s own budget advisor during his transition offered a specific set of rates that he admitted would raise just $2 billion per year, not even enough to cover the current budget deficit. Reality is on the march. So is math. In its first skirmish with them, the Pritzker Administration fled the battlefield.

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16 февраля, 06:50

Visualizing America's Crime Rate Perception Gap

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There’s a persistent belief across America that crime is on the rise. Since the late 1980s, Gallup has been polling people on their perception of crime in the United States, and, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley notes, the majority of respondents consistently indicate that they see crime as becoming more prevalent. As well, a recent poll showed that more than two-thirds of Americans feel that today’s youth are less safe from crime and harm than the previous generation. Even the highest ranking members of the government have been suggesting that the country is in the throes of a crime wave. We have a crime problem. […] this is a dangerous permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk. - Jeff Sessions, Former Attorney General Is crime actually more prevalent in society? Today’s graphic, amalgamating crime rate data from the FBI, shows a very different reality. Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist DATA VS PERCEPTION In the early ’90s, crime in the U.S. was an undeniable concern – particularly in struggling urban centers. The country’s murder rate was nearly double what it is today, and statistics for all types of crime were through the roof. Since that era, crime rates in the United States have undergone a remarkably steady decline, but public perception has been slow to catch up. In a 2016 survey, 57% of registered voters said crime in the U.S. had gotten worse since 2008, despite crime rates declining by double-digit percentages during that time period. There are many theories as to why crime rates took such a dramatic U-turn, and while that matter is still a subject for debate, there’s clear data on who is and isn’t being arrested. ARE MILLENNIALS KILLING CRIME? Media outlets have accused millennials of the killing off everything from department stores to commuting by car, but there’s another behavior this generation is eschewing as well – criminality. Compared to previous generations, people under the age of 39 are simply being arrested in smaller numbers. In fact, much of the decline in overall crime can be attributed to people in this younger age bracket. In contrast, the arrest rate for older Americans actually rose slightly. There’s no telling whether the overall trend will continue. In fact, the most recent data shows that the murder rate has ticked up ever-so-slightly in recent years, while violent and property crimes continue to be on the decline. A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE Perceptions of increasing criminality are echoed in many other developed economies as well. From Italy to South Korea, the prevailing sentiment is that youth are living in a society that is less safe than in previous generations. As the poll above demonstrates, perception gaps exist in somewhat unexpected places. In Sweden, where violent crime is actually increasing, 53% of people believe that crime will be worse for today’s youth. Contrast that with Australia, where crime rates have declined in a similar pattern as in the United States – yet, more than two-thirds of Aussie respondents believe that crime will be worse for today’s youth. One significant counterpoint to this trend is China, where respondents felt that crime was less severe today than in the past.

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16 февраля, 06:30

Veni, Vidi, Tweeti - An Obituary For The Republic

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Authored by Tom Engelhardt via TomDispatch.com, What dreamers they were! They imagined a kind of global power that would leave even Rome at its Augustan height in the shade. They imagined a world made for one, a planet that could be swallowed by a single great power. No, not just great, but beyond anything ever seen before — one that would build (as its National Security Strategy put it in 2002) a military “beyond challenge.” Let’s be clear on that: no future power, or even bloc of powers, would ever be allowed to challenge it again. And, in retrospect, can you completely blame them? I mean, it seemed so obvious then that we — the United States of America — were the best and the last. We had, after all, outclassed and outlasted every imperial power since the beginning of time. Even that other menacing superpower of the Cold War era, the Soviet Union, the “Evil Empire” that refused to stand down for almost half a century, had gone up in a puff of smoke. Imagine that moment so many years later and consider the crew of neoconservatives who, under the aegis of George W. Bush, the son of the man who had “won” the Cold War, came to power in January 2001. Not surprisingly, on viewing the planet, they could see nothing — not a single damn thing — in their way. There was a desperately weakened and impoverished Russia (still with its nuclear arsenal more or less intact) that, as far as they were concerned, had been mollycoddled by President Bill Clinton’s administration. There was a Communist-gone-capitalist China focused on its own growth and little else. And there were a set of other potential enemies, “rogue powers” as they were dubbed, so pathetic that not one of them could, under any circumstances, be called “great.” In 2002, in fact, three of them — Iraq, Iran, and North Korea — had to be cobbled together into an “axis of evil” to create a faintly adequate enemy, a minimalist excuse for the Bush administration to act preemptively. It couldn’t have been more obvious then that all three of them would go down before the unprecedented military and economic power of us (even if, as it happened, two of them didn’t). It was as clear as glass that the world — the whole shebang — was there for the taking. And it couldn’t have been headier, even after a tiny Islamist terror outfit hijackedfour American jets and took out New York’s World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. As President Bush would put it in an address at West Point in 2002, “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.” In other words, jihadists aside, it was all over. From now on, there would be an arms race of one and it was obvious who that one would be. The National Security Strategy of that year put the same thought this way: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” Again, anywhere on the planet ever. Look at more or less any document from the period and you’ll sense that they weren’t shy about touting the unprecedented greatness of a future global Pax Americana. Take, for instance, columnist Charles Krauthammer who, in February 2001, six months before the terror attacks of September 11th, wrote a piece swooning over the new Bush administration’s “unilateralism” to come and the “Bush Doctrine” which would go with it. In the process, he gave that administration a green light to put the pathetic Russians in their nuclear place and summed the situation up this way: “America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will.” “How Did USA’s Oil Get Under Iraq’s Sand?” And soon enough after September 11th, those unapologetic, implacable demonstrations of will did, in fact, begin — first in Afghanistan and then, a year and a half later, in Iraq. Goaded by Osama bin Laden, the new Rome went into action. Of course, in 2019 we have the benefit of hindsight, which Charles Krauthammer, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of that crew didn’t have as they applied their Roman-style vision of an imperial America to the actual world. It should be added, however, that the millions of people who hit the streets globally to protest the coming invasion of Iraq in the winter of 2003 — “How did USA’s oil get under Iraq’s sand?” said a typical protest sign(which Donald Trump would have understood in his own way) — had a far better sense of the world than did their American rulers-to-be. Like the Soviets before them, in fact, they would grievously confuse military power with power on this planet. More than 17 years later, the U.S. military remains stuck in Afghanistan, bedeviled in Iraq, and floundering across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa on a planet with a resurgent Russia, and an impressively rising China. One-third of the former axis of evil, Iran, is, remarkably enough, still in Washington’s gunsights, while another third (North Korea) sits uncomfortably in a presidential bear hug. It’s no exaggeration to say that none of the dreams of a new Rome were ever faintly fulfilled. In fact, if you want to think about what’s been truly exceptional in these years, it might be this: never in history has such a great power, at its height, seemed quite so incapable of effectively applying force, military or otherwise, to achieve its imperial ends or bring its targets to heel. And yet, wrong as they may have been on such subjects, don’t sell Krauthammer and the rest of that neocon crew short. They were, in their own way, also prophets, at least domestically speaking. After all, Rome, like the United States, had been an imperial republic. That republic was replaced, as its empire grew, by autocratic rule, first by the self-anointed emperor Augustus and then by his successors. Arguably, 18 years after Krauthammer wrote that column, the American republic might be heading down the same path. After all, so many years later, the neocons, triumphantly risen yet again in Washington (both in the administration and as its critics), finally have their Caesar. Hail, Donald J. Trump, we who are about to read your latest tweet salute you! A Rogue State of One Let’s note some other passing parallels between the new Rome and the old one. As a start, it’s certainly accurate to say that our new American Caesar has much gall(divided into at least three parts). Admittedly, he’s no Augustus, the first of a line of emperors, but more likely a Nero, fiddling while, in his case, the world quite literally burns. Still, he could certainly say of campaign 2016 and what followed: Veni, Vidi, Tweeti (I came, I saw, I tweeted). And don’t forget the classic line that might someday be applied to his presidency, “Et tu, Mueller?” — or depending on who turns on him, you can fill in your name of choice. One day, it might also be said that, in a country in which executive power has become ever more imperial (as has the power of the Senate’s majority leader), blowback from imperial acts abroad has had a significant, if largely hidden, hand in crippling the American republic, as was once true of Rome. In fact, it seems clear enough that the first republican institution to go was the citizen’s army. In the wake of the Vietnam War, the draft was thrown out and replaced by an “all-volunteer” force, one which would, as it came to fight on ever more distant battlefields, morph into a home-grown version of an imperial police force or foreign legion. With it went the staggering sums that, in this century, would be invested — if that’s even the word for it — in what’s still called “defense,” as well as in a vast empire of bases abroad and the national security state, a rising locus of power at home. And then, of course, there were the never-ending wars across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa that went with all of that. Meanwhile, so much else, domestically speaking, was put on the equivalent of austerity rations. And all of that, in turn, helped provoke the crisis that brought Donald Trump to power and might, in the end, even sink the American system as we’ve known it. The Donald’s victory in the 2016 election was always a sign of a deep disturbance at the heart of an increasingly unequal and unfair system of wealth and power. But it was those trillions of dollars — The Donald claims seven trillion of them — that the neocons began sinking into America’s “infinite” wars, which cost Americans big time in ways they hardly tracked or noticed. Those trillionsdidn’t go into shoring up American infrastructure or health care or education or job-training programs or anything else that might have mattered to most people here, even as untold tax dollars — one estimate: $15,000 per middle-class family per year — went into the pockets of the rich. And some of those dollars, in turn, poured back into the American political system (with a helping hand from the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision) and, in the end, helped put the first billionaire in the Oval Office. By the 2020 election campaign, we may achieve another all-American first: two or even three of the candidates could be billionaires. All of this not only gave Americans a visibly unhinged president — think of him, in axis-of-evil terms, as a rogue state of one — but an increasingly unhinged country. You can feel so much of this in President Trump’s confused and confusing attempts to both end American wars and ratchet them up, 17-and-a-half — he always claims “almost 19” — years after the invasion of Afghanistan. You can feel it in his gut-level urge to attack the “deep state” and yet fund it beyond its wildest dreams. You can feel it in his attempts to create a corps of “my generals” and then fire them all. You can feel the unhinged nature of events in a world in which, after so many years of war, America’s enemies still seem to have the formula for staying afloat, no matter what Washington does. The Taliban in Afghanistan is on the rise; al-Shabaab in Somalia, is still going strong; the Houthis in Yemen remain functional in a sea of horror and starvation; ISIS, now without its caliphate, has from Syria to the Philippines, Africa to Afghanistan, become a distinctly global brand; al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula thrives, while terror groups more generally continue to spread. You can feel it in the president’s confused and confusing explanations for his urges to withdraw American troops in days or four months or whenever from Syria and do the same or maybe not exactly in Afghanistan. (As he said in his State of the Union address, American troops would both withdraw and “focus” on “counterterrorism” in that country.) You can feel it in the way, after so many years of visible failure, the neocons are once again riding high in Washington, ascendant both in his administration and as critics of its global and military policies. These days, who even remembers that classic early Cold War question — who lost China? — that rattled American domestic politics for years, or later, the similar one about Vietnam? Still, if Donald Trump ever truly does withdraw American forces from Afghanistan (undoubtedly leaving this country’s allies in a Vietnam-style ditch), count on foreign policy establishmentarians in Washington and pundits around the country to ask an updated version of the same question: Did Donald Trump lose Afghanistan? But no matter what happens, don’t make the mistake of blaming him. It’s true that he tweeted endlessly while the world burned, but he won’t be the one who “lost” Afghanistan. It was “lost” in the grisly dreams of the neocons as the century began and it’s never truly been found again. Of course, we no more know what’s going to happen in the years ahead than the neocons did in 2001. If history has taught us anything, it’s that prediction is the diciest of human predilections. Still, think of this piece as an obituary of sorts. You know, the kind major newspapers write about those still living and then continually update until death finally occurs. Think of it not as an obituary for a single loopy president, a man who, with his “great, great wall,” has indeed been an opiate of the masses (for his famed base, at least) in the midst of an opioid crisis hitting them hard. Yes, Donald J. Trump, reality TV star and bankruptee, he of the golden letters, was elevated to a strange version of power by a troubled republic showing signs of wear and tear. It was a republic feeling the pressure of all that money flowing into only half-noticed distant wars and into the pockets of billionaires and corporate entities in a way that turned the very idea of democracy into a bad joke. Someday, if people ask the obvious question — not who lost Afghanistan, but who lost America? — keep all those failed imperial wars and the national security state that went with them in mind when you try to answer. Cumulatively, they had a far more disruptive role than is now imagined in toppling the dominos that sent us all careening on a path to nowhere here at home. And keep in mind that, whatever Donald Trump does, the Caesarian die was cast early in this century as the neocons crossed their own Rubicon. Hail, Caesar, we who are about to die salute you!

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16 февраля, 06:10

Russians Told To "Prepare For Worst Outcome" As US Prepares New Sanctions

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A bipartisan team of US senators is preparing to hit Russia with additional sanctions over its 2016 US election interference and military operations in Syria and Ukraine. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are spearheading the measure, called the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, which includes a wide range of financial penalties targeting Russia's energy complex, financial industry and "political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin," reported The Independent. Threats of the sanctions rocked Russian stock and government bond markets at the end of the week, and the country's debt insurance costs jumped alongside FX volatility. Moscow has responded to the prospect of new sanctions with anger. A former minister told Russians to prepare for the worst outcome; the Kremlin accused the US of “racketeering.” “We see clear symptoms of emotional Russophobia,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “But behind the emotions … is an entirely pragmatic, assertive trade calculation, and … nothing less than an attempt to engage in dishonest competition.” Frants Klintsevich, a member of the Defence and Security Committee of Russia’s upper house, described the new sanctions as a “dangerous habit” similar to “smoking a pipe before breakfast, poisoning all those around." The head of Russia's largest bank and its former economics minister, Herman Gref, warned that the sanctions could damage the already slowing economy.  "We need to prepare for the very worst of situations,” Gref warned. The sanction also includes support for NATO, including requiring a two-thirds majority in the Senate for the US to leave the alliance. It includes plans to make it easier to transfer military hardware to NATO countries to reduce their dependences on Russian arms. The possibility of new sanctions suggests that the US is ready to increase its economic war against Russia. As the global economy rapidly slows in 2019, relations with the US and the rest of the world are at tense levels, the possibility of a geopolitical flare-up is right around the corner. Should we be looking in the East China Sea or the South China Sea for potential conflicts, or maybe hone in our attention on the Ukraine and Russia border? Judging by the additional sanctions, all eyes should be on Europe. 

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16 февраля, 05:50

The 'Disappearing Democrat' Scandal - Part 1

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Authored by Tim Donner via Liberty Nation, This is the first of a two-part series on a massive scandal that has gone largely unreported, based on an interview on Liberty Nation Radio with Luke Rosiak, author of Obstruction of Justice: How the Deep State Risked National Security to Protect the Democrats. Have we had enough of scandals - fake or real - in Washington? On one side, we’ve been hearing for two years about accusations of collusion between Trump and Russia - no proof found. From the other side comes claims that innocent Trump campaign operatives were drawn into an FBI trap to trigger an unfounded investigation - plenty of proof on that one. But if you think you have a handle on all the scandals pervading the DC swamp, think again. There was another truly shocking turn of events involving Congress that flew mostly under the radar in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign. An unvetted Pakistani national given to blackmail gained access to the computer files of more than 30 Democrats in the House of Representatives, and from there the story reads like a spy novel. Some have called it the biggest scandal in congressional history, notwithstanding the lack of publicity surrounding it. Luke Rosiak, investigative reporter at The Daily Caller, has unmasked the scandal in his new book, Obstruction of Justice: How the Deep State Risked National Security to Protect the Democrats. And he dove into the details on Liberty Nation Radio. Luke Rosiak: Imran Awan was an IT guy for Congress for many years. He was working for Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other members of Congress. In the heat of the 2016 election, actually the same week that the DNC was hacked, Congress’ own internal police caught him hacking Congress. So although he was the IT guy, he was taking much more data than he should have had access to, impersonating members of Congress, and logging into their accounts and so on, and shuttling data off the House network and taking steps to hide what he was doing. So obviously, especially with the context of what was going on in the DNC, this was a huge deal. And yet no one ever heard about it from month to month to month. Even after that, you never heard anything about it. So it turned out after I pulled the thread on this for two years and found everywhere I looked literally just James Bond stuff, just the absolute wildest things. This guy was taking money from an Iranian government minister and laundering it through a front company called CIA LLC. After he was banned from Congress, he had a back door into the House network, because he was impersonating an intelligence staffer. The list goes on and on. So, they kicked the can down the road until after the election. They let him continue to log in to Congress this whole time while they’re building this Russian narrative. After the election, they still don’t want this to really go public. So they kick him off the network and they fire him, but they don’t arrest him. That’s when I find out that he’s still got access. He goes into Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ office at midnight, takes her laptop, after he’s been banned from Congress, and leaves it in a phone booth. So as I say, truly this is a surreal tale. As I investigated it, I just couldn’t believe what I was learning, and yet this was concealed from the American public. Imran Awan Tim Donner: Did Mr. Awan have so much on so many Democrats that there was a great hesitancy to really bring down the full weight of the law on him? Luke Rosiak: Actually that’s what he himself said. So a couple of reasons why they wanted this to go away. The first is the Russian narrative. They didn’t want this competing hack involving Pakistanis that they had failed to vet. And there were a series of very embarrassing missteps by the Democrats that allowed this happen, and incompetence. Then the other thing is, what you just said. I mean, this guy had access to everything. I think there was the worry that he would release it if they didn’t kind of make this thing go away. So his own wife goes to the FBI and says, “My husband told me that he’s a mole in Congress from Pakistan. He told me that he knows so much that he can never be prosecuted. So it’s okay.” And then she says, “I’m going to go to the FBI.” And he goes, “Well, I’ve been surveilling you. I’ve got videotape, a sex tape. I’m going to release that in Pakistan if you come forward.” So here we are. This is a guy hacking Congress and he’s caught, and he starts blackmailing people to prevent them from going to the FBI. His stepmother comes forward, and it’s virtually the identical story. She says, “I’ve been held in captivity by this guy to prevent me from coming forward. He said he’s going to have my family killed in Pakistan.” They basically intimidate this woman, and witnesses are scared. Evidence starts disappearing, and really this remarkable coverup is in full swing. The funniest part of all is the Democrats who are working frantically behind the scenes to orchestrate this coverup. Publicly they kind of say, “Oh, what are you talking about? That sounds crazy. It must be a conspiracy theory. I bet it’s Donald Trump somehow behind this being Islamophobic.” Meanwhile, these poor women, who are, of course, Muslim, are basically begging for their lives, and they’re being hung out to dry while this guy’s being protected. *  *  * In part two of this series, Mr. Rosiak discusses the Capitol police investigation, how a server with critical evidence suddenly disappeared, and the media’s refusal to cover this scandal.

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16 февраля, 05:30

Deutsche Bank Renegs On Pledge To Help Distressed Homeowners

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This ought to win Deutsche Bank some badly needed good will with global prosecutors investigating the bank for its involvement in various financial frauds - not to mention Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters. According to a Bloomberg report on Friday, DB has decided - apparently with the blessing of a federally appointed monitor - that it won't pay out the $4 billion balance on its commitment to help distressed homeowners impacted by the housing collapse. The bank had agreed to spend billions of dollars on consumer relief during the waning days of the Obama administration as part of a massive settlement with the DOJ over its role in selling mortgages. Instead, the bank will use the money on providing new loans. The bank's monitor said the decision might disappoint some homeowners who had reached out to the bank for relief over the past two years...but, to be fair, DB has already paid out $1.5 billion as part of the program. The decision reverses pronouncements by the bank and the U.S. Justice Department that some of the funds - part of an overall $7.2 billion settlement over bad mortgage bonds sold before the 2008 crisis - would go to aiding people who were in imminent risk of defaulting on their mortgage payments, have especially high interest rates or owe more on their mortgage than in the value of their home. The change in plans “may disappoint distressed homeowners and others, including the many individuals who have reached out to the monitor over the past two years, hoping to receive different types of consumer relief from the bank,” Bresnick wrote in the report, which was posted online. Bresnick, a partner at the law firm Venable LLC and a former U.S. prosecutor, declined to comment for this article. The Justice Department didn’t have an immediate comment. The bank rationalized its decision by saying the "most effective" form of consumer relief would be to provide loans to consumers so they can purchase homes (though, presumably, those distressed consumers wouldn't qualify under the more stringent lending standards of the modern era). The decision reverses pronouncements by the bank and the U.S. Justice Department that some of the funds - part of an overall $7.2 billion settlement over bad mortgage bonds sold before the 2008 crisis - would go to aiding people who were in imminent risk of defaulting on their mortgage payments, have especially high interest rates or owe more on their mortgage than in the value of their home. The change in plans “may disappoint distressed homeowners and others, including the many individuals who have reached out to the monitor over the past two years, hoping to receive different types of consumer relief from the bank,” Bresnick wrote in the report, which was posted online. Bresnick, a partner at the law firm Venable LLC and a former U.S. prosecutor, declined to comment for this article. The Justice Department didn’t have an immediate comment. Unlike other bank settlements from the Obama era, DB's settlement didn't require the bank to spend the money on consumer relief; instead, DOJ and DB had what amounted to a handshake agreement. The money earmarked for consumer relief wasn't specifically earmarked for loan modifications, which means the bank is free to use it for loans at its discretion. By comparison, similar settlements reached during the Trump era haven't required money be set aside to help consumers. Earlier monitor reports said the bank was planning to offer loan relief and had entered into financing arrangements with two companies specializing in modifications. "The bank now has declined to pursue these options for relief," the latest monitor report said. "It will not, after all, help any underwater homeowner by forgiving a portion of the principal owed on a mortgage, offer forbearance to any homeowner finding it difficult to make a monthly mortgage payment, or provide any of the other relief addressed in the monitor’s prior report." The settlement - which initial reports suggested could be as high as $14 billion - instead required the bank to pay a roughly $3 billion fine and offer the $4 billion for consumer relief. But rest assured, the bank's new Democratic overlords on the House Financial Services Committee likely won't forget this.

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16 февраля, 05:10

Why Schumer And Sanders Are Wrong On Buybacks

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Authored by Ben Steil and Benjamin Della Rocca via CFR.org, In a widely discussed New York Times op-ed, Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders excoriated share buybacks as “corporate self-indulgence,” diverting profits away from investment and worker compensation.  Is this true? Logically, there is no basis for believing that a firm prevented from buying back its stock will, in consequence, increase investment or compensation. If it can’t find other ways to return excess cash to its owners, it can always park it in, say, Treasuries. More importantly, other companies do need cash for equipment, R&D, attracting workers, and the like. And it makes sense for investors to re-allocate funds from companies that don’t need it to those that do. So if buybacks are happening for sound economic reasons, we would expect to see them at firms whose return on capital is falling—that is, companies with deteriorating investment opportunities. Is this the case? Take a look at the left-hand graphic above, which plots the growth in buyback activity between the first halves of 2017 and 2018 and the change in return on capital relative to the post-crisis (post-2010) average. The relationship is as we would expect. Firms that experience a deterioration in return on capital boost buybacks, which is a logical way to return underperforming cash to investors. And, as expected, the sector in which buybacks increased the most—Information Technology (IT)—is also the sector that experienced the biggest decline in return on capital. Now look at the right-hand graphic. This one shows that the three sectors experiencing the largest decline in return on capital - IT, Health Care, and Energy - account for nearly 80 percent of the rise in buyback activity in the first half of last year. In short, Schumer and Sanders have this wrong. The data show clearly that buybacks are being undertaken overwhelmingly by companies that should be returning cash to investors - companies that don’t have good uses for it. That cash is not disappearing into the vaults of billionaires, but is being reinvested in firms that do have good uses for it - like capital investment and worker retention. And isn’t that what Schumer and Sanders say they want?

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16 февраля, 04:50

IMF Discreetly Preps Massive Aid Package For "Day After" Maduro's Fall

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The International Monetary Fund is reportedly making plans for the "day after" embattled President Nicolas Maduro's fall, according to Bloomberg. Though there's been little momentum in military defections following US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido's offer of amnesty to any army officer that switches loyalties, Washington sanctions have effectively strangled state-owned PDVSA's access to global markets. News of IMF maneuvering also comes amidst fresh reports the US is amassing aircraft, troops and armored vehicles on the Venezuelan border under the pretext of getting humanitarian aid into the country.  The only significant cash flow that remains after the oil sanctions is through India, Venezuela’s second-biggest oil market after the United States, which still recognizes the Maduro government, and is now reportedly seeking to avoid purchases through US banks and even financial institutions with a heavy US presence. According to a Reuters report on Friday, "India has asked one buyer of Venezuelan oil to consider paying the South American nation’s national oil company PDVSA in a way that avoids the U.S. financial system, an Indian government source said, after Washington imposed fresh sanctions on Venezuela last month." Image source: BloombergIf oil buyers pay PDVSA through American institutions, US authorities can seize the funds. But the IMF reportedly sees cash dwindling from oil sales at such a rapid pace that Maduro can't possibly hold on, even with the staying power of his loyal armed forces. This also comes as the White House mulls a possible next step of blocking foreign entities all together from dealing with the PDVSA.  Citing an anonymous official due to the sensitivity of the matter, Bloomberg reports the IMF is planning for a near-term Maduro exit by discreetly preparing a massive financial aid package to rescue the nosediving economy, for years choked by US-led sanctions and corrupt socialist leadership, following transition of power. Forbes also forewarned earlier this month what a new Caracas government would be facing, by comparison to other regional economies in crisis:  It is unclear just how much aid Venezuela needs or will be able to get. To put things into perspective for a moment, Argentina has a $56 billion aid package from the IMF and while their economy was leveled due to the closed-door, quasi-socialist policies of Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s social unrest is nothing like what is taking place in Venezuela today. Last year Colombia reportedly contacted international lending agencies about crafting a $60 billion aid package. Given the massive investment needs of the Venezuelan economy, access to international financing will be essential to lift the country of its version of the Great Depression. And this will come, Forbes noted, via the IMF and World Bank, which "will require massive structural reforms, including a return of foreign investment and foreign companies into the Venezuelan oil market." This followed after Bloomberg reported in November of last year that Venezuela hadn’t reported GDP and inflation data since 2016, for which its central bank prepared a report sent to the IMF in accord with a Nov. 30 deadline while "hoping to avoid sanctions that included the loss of voting rights or a potential expulsion from the lender." Bloomberg also noted at that time that the IMF was already eyeing drastic action: "Expulsion from the fund would cause Venezuela to lose access to what little remaining funds it has associated with the lender, but more importantly, it could trigger a cross-default on some sovereign bonds." Again, it was noted last November:  While Venezuela often lambasted the IMF for its policy recommendations under former President Hugo Chavez and his successor Maduro, the central bank has repeatedly used special drawing rights held at the fund. Venezuela still has access to $52 million, which it has drawn down from $2.5 billion according to IMF data. Thus with the international noose tightening around Maduro led by Washington and European countries which recognize only Guaido as "Interim President", and with internal unrest continuing, it appears the IMF too is now ready to run with the opportunity and cut off the regime's last desperate potential cash lifeline.

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16 февраля, 04:30

A Dispatch From The Kamala Harris Presidency, Dated 2021

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Submitted by James E. Miller, Diary entry - January 30, 2021 Quitting would be the honorable thing to do. But I can’t. Not at this juncture. There’s so much to unburden myself with. The latest order decreed from on high has me finally connecting the dots and able to adumbrate the entire whitewashing scheme going on, like Tom Sawyer painting the fence, but this time using us F.B.I. underlings to erase history. President Harris - or Kammy, as she asks her immediate subordinates to call her, Kamala is for the low-tier help - has ordered higher-ups to monitor whether or not anyone leaves abruptly after this. I know, because her email to Deputy Director Nadler came across my surveillance feed. “Please let Director Schiff know if anyone notable takes an unexpected leave of absence after the announcement. Don’t hesitate to jump to conclusions - act decisively. We’re turning the page. Anyone who doesn’t want to keep reading can have the book taken away.” That email, likely dictated word-to-word to Harris’s chief of staff John Podesta, his shriveled, dusky hands jotting down the President’s commands, her five-inch-heeled shoes resting irreverently on the Resolute Desk, clicking back and forth in metronomic time. I can see Harris’s face coldly giving the order: her drawn, dark features painted over with layers of makeup painstakingly applied by a crew of three stylists every morning. Her mien, so hardened by years of prosecuting crime in California, never flinching when throwing men’s lives away, showing no trepidation over bending low-level staffers to her will. The subsequent memo coursed through the Bureau the very same day. “It is hereby ordered by the President of the United States that all investigative activity of foreign influence in the last presidential election will cease. Another federal task force has been created to look into the matter. All of your hard work to this point will be transferred to the new department–there is no individual need to take any action. President Harris thanks you for your patriotism and dedication to keeping our country safe. If you have any concerns, please talk to your supervisor.” No task force will actually be created. Everyone knows it and accepts it as an inevitable truth. The memo will never be reported on in the media despite high-minded, low-level agents clandestinely passing it along to press contacts. This was a gag order, plain and simple. The note was signed by Director Adam Schiff, the former California congressman who has spent less than one week on the job after being fast-tracked through the Democrat-controlled Senate. His confirmation hearing was perfunctory at best. He gleefully answered questions from Judiciary Committee Democrats about his favorite movies. Republican senators were met with cold silence when they asked about his conspiratorial, mad-eyed scrutiny into Trump-Russian collusion as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff probably never saw the memo. So far, he’s acted as a rubber stamp for Harris, approving her dictates without question while running interference on any uncomfortable questions asked of the Bureau. He’s made sure Harris’s word is an omerta. That’s why writing all this down in here may eventually cost me my job. But, hey, maybe it’ll land me a deal with Regnery Publishing one day. Either way, clearing my conscience on paper is all I can do at this point. The normal whistleblowing channels have broken down. Harris wasted no time dismantling them after taking the oath. The media has also gone silent. Reporters ask us nothing. I heard of one guy in the department, in a division far removed from mine, who reached out to Greg Miller of The Washington Post. Miller—who pursued the Trump-Russia collusion story of the last four years with aplomb - never returned the call. Shortly after, that agent left the Bureau, under not-so-favorable circumstances, from what I gather. It’s highly disconcerting, and not just to me. Plenty of the Bureau’s finest are concerned.  They don’t know if they’re being duped or what. For years, we were on guard against foreign influence in our elections. After 2016, when the Russians paid a bunch of Eastern Europeans basement-dwellers to post divisive memes on Facebook, we were told—no, ordered—to monitor all financial activity outside the U.S. that had any connection with elections, no matter how tenuous. With help from the N.S.A., we did just that. My division, which, after Trump’s election, had its focused changed to preventing election meddling in 2020. In short, we failed in our mission. But not for a lack of trying. Early in the election year, just as the Democratic primary field was winnowing and Harris was carving out her place as the kind of minority candidate Democrats love—mixed racially but with the mannerisms of a well-to-do white bluestocking—we started to see an increase of subversive activity. Doctored videos of Donald Trump saying blatantly racist things began popping up on disparate Facebook newsfeeds. The clips looked almost real to the unsuspecting eye–a big improvement over the crude memes of 2016. They featured Trump at one of his patented rallies holding court, praising dictators and white supremacists. “That Hitler, one hell of a guy, really stood up for his people. Put Germany first!” Trump bellowed to a roaring crowd in one video. In another, Trump was being interviewed by Leslie Stahl for “60 Minutes.” In surreal fashion, he admits to approving a program for “the mass extermination of blacks, Hispanics, dark-looking people, what have you.” The videos were preposterously fictitious. But that didn’t stop them from spreading like digital wildfire just before being snuffed out. The clips our team were able to procure, facsimiles of the originals, had all the markings of Russian propaganda. Trump’s dialogue was clipped and inflected at points not common for a native English speaker. But most importantly, our scanning equipment was able to pick up on particular digital signatures that are common in the low-quality content emanating out of the troll farms in Eastern Europe. Some of the videos, which were shot second-hand because they disappeared so quickly, ended up on YouTube, where they enjoyed further notoriety before being deleted by the video platform’s censors. Even so, we had a hard time tracking the exact source of the videos for a number of reasons. Facebook executives refused to hand over the origin data, citing its privacy policy, despite being more than willing to assist our efforts tracing ad-buying in 2016. Likewise, technologists acted evasive when questioned about the “deepfake” technology behind the videos. I actually got to interview one engineer from Silicon Valley, a wiry character named Dexter. The quintessential Valley type, whose wardrobe consisted of jeans, gingham shirts, tennis shoes, and clear-framed glasses, when I was finally able to pin him down in his Palo Alto studio, he demurred at my questions, scratched at the stubble on his pale chin, and referenced me to Facebook’s ad division. I asked why his colleagues were more open to the F.B.I.’s questioning in 2016. He replied nonchalantly, “You know.” I did. And that ended our interview. Harris’s order now means the whole business of Russian interference in the 2020 election is being memory-holed. For four years, the F.B.I. worked diligently to ensure that what happened in 2016 was never repeated. Rank and file agents, many of whom I call friends, acted in the best interest of our country to preserve our electoral system, thwart bad actors, and uphold our oath to the Constitution. The media was with us. But, now journalists have clammed up, almost as if they got the same order we received. Headlines these days are all about President Harris’s efforts to put the ugliness of the past four years behind us. “President Harris Moves Swiftly to Erase Trump’s Legacy,” was just one Orwellian headline that ran in the New York Times recently. After years of flashing the red signal over foreign interference in our elections, the pundits all piped down on Election Night when Harris took Florida and then Ohio. But then—9:27 P.M—the race was declared over and CNN deliberately illuminated its studio, subtly signaling a new dawn for America. I have it on good authority from a college buddy they had light dimmers prepared for Trump’s reelection. Fake tear droplets prepared as well. The country is seemingly moving past what was once regarded as a national threat. I remember in early 2018 when then Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned about foreign interference in the upcoming presidential election. The media and Democrats excoriated President Trump for not doing enough to combat it. And, yet, after it happened, but only to the other side’s benefit, we’re all of a sudden supposed to forget, to wipe it from our minds, to decline to give it a second look. Only right-wing fringe sites gripe about the Russians helping Harris win the White House. Most elected officials, including many Republicans, shrug their shoulders and shake their head while softly denouncing foreign meddling. Vladimir Putin now wears a permanent smile after foiling our attempts to stop him. We were played by a foreign adversary. Again. The Russians successfully sowed more discord among our easily duped electorate. And, this time, nobody in Washington is saying anything about it. Except for the former Commander-in-Chief, who continues to tweet about the sabotage from his penthouse in Trump Tower, an old man shouting in empty, gilded halls to nobody of importance other than his silent government-provided security. Like Solzhenitsyn, I hope my record will help others see what is increasingly becoming a more arbitrary and despotic system of government. Fortunately, I’m not facing the threat of the gulag for shining a light on these dark machinations. But, like many Americans, I face something almost as troubling: the erasure of history for political gain. Such is the foundation authoritarian regimes are built on. I hope mine is not the only voice speaking out against this murder of the past. - A concerned American

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16 февраля, 04:10

International Fake News "Grand Committee" Will "Demand" Who's Who Of Tech Giants Testify

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An international "fake news" committee is set to hold hearings on May 28 in Canada, and plans to include will "demand" testimony from a who's who of powerful internet and social media giant CEO's. The list of invitees includes Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, Apple CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams, and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, according a list obtained by CBS News. If the formal name for the initiative — the "International Grand Committee" (or rather the fuller version, the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News) — isn't creepy or Orwellian sounding enough, the group which also includes lawmakers from various countries around the world, will spotlight "foreign influence in our democracies" (read: Russia, Russia, Russia!) according to an official press release. The Grand Committee's first go-round at British Parliament on Nov. 27, with Mark Zukerberg's conspicuous absence.Specific issues that are near and dear to the western elite establishment's heart to be investigated include: "foreign meddling" in the election of Donald Trump and advertising campaigns surrounding Brexit. The CBS report announcing the news sounds like The Onion, as essentially something calling itself a "Grand Committee" stacked with international government officials thinks transparency, objectivity, accuracy and truth will be best represented by the Jeff Bezos's, Eric Schmidt's and Mark Zuckerberg's of the world! Though the committee brands itself as "adversarial," we don't expect much to come of powerful government elites "grilling" powerful corporate elites.  The "Grand Committee" has in the past attempted to gain some PR mileage by "shaming" Zuckerberg for refusing to participate in an initial inquiry in November which was sponsored by British Parliament.  9 countries. 24 official representatives. 447 million people represented. One question: where is Mark Zuckerberg? pic.twitter.com/BK3KrKvQf3 — Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (@CommonsCMS) November 27, 2018 And it's being held in a country which, it should be remembered, recently criminalized as a potential hate crime the refusal to conform to an individual's "preferred personal pronoun" through Canada's 2017 Bill C-16. Noting that the committee will "demand" the appearance of the list of internet giant company heads, CBS reports: "The list, which was confirmed to CBS News by the committee's co-chair, Canadian Member of Parliament Bob Zimmer, includes several of the world's wealthiest people, who control the most dominant companies in computing and social media." A full report from the committee's initial UK hearing is expected to be published within the next week. Predictably, it looks to go in the direction of impugning conservative and contrarian populist movements such as Brexit and the rise of Trump. CBS describes of the forthcoming findings:  It has sought to shine light on the use of intimate personality datasets on more than 80 million people as part of advertising campaigns surrounding the "Brexit" campaign and Donald Trump's presidential run. The campaigns were run by a British company called SCL Elections, its American affiliate Cambridge Analytica, and a Canadian company called Aggregate IQ. The committee's first hearing on which the report is based was last year on Nov. 27, and a number of the big names were no shows, for example Facebook sent company vice president for public policy Richard Allan, and not Zuckerberg. US lawmakers are also expected to be invited to the May 28 hearings in Canada, which will tackle "holding digital platforms to account... foreign influence in our democracies, and data as a human right," according to a prior February press release.  However, we doubt Putin or any Russian representatives will be invited to observe the hearings. 

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16 февраля, 04:01

Mueller Recommends 19 - 24 Years In Prison For Manafort

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison for his conviction last August in a Virginia courtroom on eight financial crimes, including bank fraud and tax fraud related to money he earned working for Ukrainian politicians.  "In the end, Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars," wrote prosecutors with the special counsel's office. "The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct."  Mueller's office said that the 69-year-old Manafort's age should not play a role in reducing the lobbyist's sentence, according to CNN.  "Manafort's age does not eliminate the risk of recidivism he poses -- particularly given that his pattern of criminal activity has occurred over more than a decade and that the most recent crimes he pled guilty to occurred from February to April 2018, when he conspired to tamper with witnesses at a time when he was under indictment in two separate districts," wrote prosecutors.  Judge T.S. Ellis, who has not set a sentencing date, will decide Manafort's fate.  Separately, Manafort has pleaded guilty in a Washington D.C. federal court, where he is scheduled to be sentenced next month on similar charges.  Manafort has spent some five months in jail for violating the terms of his bail by attempting to contact witnesses in his case.  Jurors in his Alexandria, VA trial heard how the once slick and well groomed lobbyist raked in millions of dollars per yar from his wealthy Ukrainian clients via secret offshore bank accounts - mostly housed in Cyprus. He used the proceeds to live a lavish lifestyle - which he supported even after the money dried up by doctoring financial statements which he used to secure millions in mortgages.  He was convicted on eight counts; five of tax fraud, defrauding banks for two loans, and hiding a foreign bank account. Each of the tax fraud charges carries a maximum sentence of three years, while the foreign banking charge  carries a five-year maximum. The bank fraud charges have 30-year maximum sentences each. Last September the former Trump campaign chairman struck a plea agreement with prosecutors in his D.C trial, agreeing to admit to the allegations and "fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly" cooperate in the Mueller probe in exchange for dropping the other charges.  After nine interviews and two sessions of testimony, however, prosecutors accused Manafort of lying several times - including about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik - a former Russian colleague.  On Wednesday, D.C. federal judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort lied in three of five instances cited by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, invalidating his plea agreement with federal prosecutors.  In particular, the judge ruled that Mr. Manafort lied about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, as well as payments to a law firm and another unspecified matter. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has assessed that Mr. Kilimnik, a Russian political operative who worked in Ukraine with Mr. Manafort and was also indicted by Mr. Mueller, has ties to Russian intelligence. Mr. Kilimnik remains at large. -Wall Street Journal As a result of the ruling, Manafort won't receive any credit for his cooperation with prosecutors - and may serve out the rest of his natural life in jail on charges of tax evasion and unregistered lobbying. 

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16 февраля, 03:50

Climate Change Religion And Related Cover-Ups: What The Hell Is NASA Hiding?

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk, The shrill voices of climate change hucksters get louder every day. Supposedly the world will end in 12 years. It won't. Someone asked me on Twitter today "who are you to debate climate scientists." Well, who are priests and clergy to debate Darwinism? Should we prevent debate that does not suit us? Here's a widely held view: Climate Change Denial Should Be a Crime In 1663, leading scientists all thought the sun revolved around the earth. The Catholic Church Convicted Galileo of Heresy for disputing the claim. Supposedly, we are brighter today. But why do we have scientists faking data and suppressing data that does not meet the cause? Climategate The Climate Scandal of the Decade involves fundamentally flawed methods and data manipulation to produce a "hockey stick" rise in temperatures. When the statistical methods used to create the "hockey stick" were first exposed as fundamentally flawed by an expert Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre , an increasingly heated battle has been raging between Mann's supporters, calling themselves "the Hockey Team", and McIntyre and his own allies, as they have ever more devastatingly called into question the entire statistical basis on which the IPCC and CRU construct their case. There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre's blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt's blog Watts Up With That ), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws. They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based. This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones's refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got "lost". Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence. But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? What the Hell Is NASA Hiding? Forgive me for asking, but What the Hell Is NASA Hiding? If you click on that link it will display this message. The article has been suppressed since 2010. I commend an unknown person who made the following screen shot. I saw it in a Tweet, captured the image, but failed to record the person who snapped the image or the Tweet itself. Blocked Article ​ The above image is difficult to read as presented, but I enlarged the image many times to make the transcript below. The words are all legible. Here is a partial transcript starting with the opening paragraph, with all pertinent views from both sides captured fully. Emphasis is mine. The Sun is the primary forcing of the Earth's climate system. ... In short, the Sun drives almost every aspect of our world's climate system and makes possible life as we know it. Earth's orbit around and orientation toward the Sun change over spans of many thousands of years. In turn, these changing "orbital mechanics" force climate to change because they change where and how much sunlight reaches Earth. (Please see for more details). [Mish Comment: Unfortunately we can't.] Thus, changing Earth's exposure forces climate to change. According to scientists' models of Earth's orbit and orientation towards the sun indicate that our world should just be beginning to enter a new period of cooling - perhaps the next ice age. Human Impact The text does discuss humans. After the industrial revolution, humans introduced increasing amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and changed the surface of the landscape to an extent great enough to influence climate on a local and global level. I can accept that. I can also accept that temperatures are rising, while disputing the amount for many reasons. NASA Conclusion Scientists are using NASA satellites to monitor all of the aforementioned forcings of Earth's climate system to better understand how they are changing over time, and how any changes in them affect climate. Left Unsaid Any data that does not agree with climate foregone conclusions, will be wiped away. I just offered strong evidence. What else has NASA suppressed? Why do we need to suppress well-written articles when many scientists have doubts? Precession That's right. It's called * Präzession * Earth needs ca. 25.000 years for orbit the sun. The position earth to sun makes the planet warmer or colder pic.twitter.com/9w24JThWVH — Agnes de Berlimont 💥 💚‼️⭐⭐⭐‼️🇩🇪🌷 (@AgnesdeBerlimon) February 12, 2019 Humans Humans breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Perhaps we have a solution that no one will endorse. At the very minimum, why aren't any of the global warming advocates promoting distribution of free birth control pills? Earth's Magnetic Field Flip Could Happen Sooner Than Expected Scientific American reports the Earth's Magnetic Field Flip Could Happen Sooner Than Expected. Changes measured by the Swarm satellite show that our magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than originally predicted, especially over the Western Hemisphere Scientists do not know why. What else don't they know? What do they think they know, that's false? Background Radiation - Cloud Mystery - Cosmic Rays The Cloud Mystery is a documentary that explores the published theory by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark on how galactic cosmic rays, the earth's position in the Milky Way, and solar activity affect cloud cover, and how this influences the earth's climate. Svensmark believes the earth's position in the milky way as it moves in and out of various spiral arms affects the amount of radiation hitting the earth and affecting long temperature cycles. Fossil evidence suggest his theory is reasonable, if not entirely correct. Perhaps Svensmark is the modern day Galileo. The video is long. But please play it! "You must take the Milky Way Into account if you want to take past variations of the climate into account. The whole solar system rotates around the Milky Way once every 250 million years. That's one galactic year". Those clips start at about the 30 minute mark or so. The video is quite fascinating. I suggest you play it all. Hardly anyone will. Most prefer to believe Al Gore's lies. Inconvenient Truth - Al Gore Lies On October 12, 2007, ABC news commented on An Inconvenient Verdict for Al Gore. One day before Friday's announcement that he was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a British High Court judge ruled that Gore's global warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth," while "broadly accurate," contained nine significant errors. High Court Judge Michael Burton said that the film is "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact" but that the errors were made in "the context of alarmism and exaggeration." In the late 2000s, Al Gore made a series of high-profile statements suggesting the possibility that Arctic sea ice could be completely gone during the summer by around 2013 or 2014. Gore said the probability was 75%, a figure he claims was from other scientists. Onward, Climate Soldiers ​ Please consider 'Onward, Climate Soldiers' Former politician and current entrepreneur Al Gore has been preparing an army of devotees to fight for the atmosphere. This air force has been trained in multi-day indoctrination sessions via slick PowerPoint slides that have become part and parcel of the former vice president’s tactic. Such training, under the flag of the Climate Reality Project, has reportedly produced more than 15,000 Climate Reality leaders worldwide. The Climate Reality website urges participants to: “Fight like your world depends on it.” The political world of command and control certainly does. Prophets of doom use the power of the purse to pursue penitent proselytes to produce profits from PowerPoints. OK, the alliteration may be a bit much, but the catastrophe promoters certainly reap fortune from misfortune. The misfortune includes skewed science. Everyone seems to be cashing in on the doomsday predictions, from private companies (consulting and technology firms) and academic institutions (university research and education) to governments with their expanding power and workforces. The big losers are, as usual, the ones stuck paying the bill — the middle-class taxpayers and the world’s poor. Science also ends up losing thanks to a system of penalties and rewards favoring the crisis-mongers. Yet, onward, climate soldiers, marching as to war, with the power and purse of politics going on before. Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and author of “In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail” (Stairway Press, 2016). Complex Systems Reducing extremely complex systems that evolve over hundreds of millions of years to a single component, CO2, measured over hundreds or even thousands of years, is logically absurd. I am willing to concede - and always have - that man is responsible for a percentage of global warming. I do not know what that percentage is, but it is clear that it has been exaggerated and that contrary evidence has been suppressed. True Believers The true believers think we can take "all of the aforementioned forcings of Earth's climate system", reduce them to man-made CO2 and ignore the sun, ignore random fluctuations, ignore Precession, ignore the earth's position in the Milky Way, ignore background radiation, ignore sunspot cycles, and ignore any other scientific data that does not fit their model. Of course, that means ... Mish is a Climate Denier Criminal Who am I? Who is Galileo, and How Dare NASA Scientists Write That! Despite the lies, the data manipulations, the article suppression, and Lord only knows what we don't see but should, anyone who does not accept obvious bullshit that the earth will end in 12 years (or whenever) is a criminal climate denier. Who am I? Scientifically Nobody I may be nobody, but scientist Henrik Svensmark is somebody, and he makes sense to me. Fossil evidence supports his theory. Sunspot cycle theories also make sense to me. On the other side we have the blatant lies of Al Gore, coverups and lies by hockey stick proponents, data manipulations, and evidence suppression by NASA and elsewhere. The fact that we have all these lies, coverups, data revisions, and even theory revisions is damning evidence that something is seriously wrong with the simple man-made CO2 global warming thesis presented. To top it off, we have totally absurd hype by AOC who warns us the World Will End in 12 Years if we do not address climate change. People are willing to embrace such total and complete nonsense while ignoring genuine debate from reputable scientists who by the way do not manipulate data to their benefit. Misinterpreted No doubt I will be branded as a denier. Curiously, I am not. I accept that temperatures measurements have been rising. I agree with the climatologists that in isolation, an increase in CO2 will lead to an increase in temperature. I am all in favor of reducing pollution. China is a basket case. China is literally poisoning its population right now. Regarding point number one, many temperature measurements are distorted beyond belief. Gauges are in places like airports and cities surrounded by asphalt and accompanied with increasing airline exhaust and traffic. Watts Up With That has an entire series on absurdly placed temperature gauges. That link is to rebuttal number 30! Regarding point number two, I seriously question what percentage of the temperature increase is man-made as opposed to long-term cycles, solar activity, Milky Way Radiation, random fluctuations, or something we just do not understand. Why Should I Give a Damn? I care about pollution. It affects me here and now. Those with kids can also relate. But global warming? This question will shock some, but quite frankly: Why should I, or anyone else give a damn about global warming, even if one believes the absurd hype? The Yellow Vest Movement in France has as its heart, that very question. French president Emmanuel Macron raised gasoline taxes to save the world. In the face of massive protests, now going on 14 weeks Macron rescinded the gas taxes. Fake Sense of Urgency The world will not end in 12 years or even 200 years. But, no one would be concerned about problems 200 years from now, would they? Thus, the false prophets must create a fake sense of urgency today. They did. And they succeeded. Thus we see AOC's Stunningly Absurd "New Green Deal": Far More Ridiculous Than Expected. Amusingly, the World needs $90 Trillion infrastructure overhaul to avoid climate disaster, according to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which is co-chaired by prominent climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern. Regardless of what you believe, the notion that the government would do something sensible about this problem or any problem is ludicrous in and of itself. Governments don't solve problems, they create waste. Yet, we are told the world will end in 12 years if we do not act today. Florida Question of the Day To those living in Florida, if you believe the claims, why are you still there? Seriously, get the hell out because the entire state will soon be underwater. Time's a wastin! Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies, cause everyone goes. Evacuate now! Global Warming Religion Global warming is a religion. Anyone who doesn't believe is branded as a heretic. It's religiously sexy and very easy to promote end of the world doomsday scenarios, until people are told their taxes need to quadruple. The alternative, "There is no story here because the world won't end tomorrow" is not easy to promote. The media has no interest. Similarly, the media does not want to hear or repeat anything by scientists like Henrik Svensmark. Doom sells. Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn In France, people decided, and rightfully so, they were a bit more concerned about living today than supporting the religious belief that the world will end in 12 years if we don't raise taxes today. Looking back, the earth was here 4.5 billion years ago. It has survived countless warming and cooling cycles. I am confident it will survive another set of cycles. Finally, I am tired of the ridiculous hype, fake sense of urgency, and absurd fearmongering. Taking all of the above points into consideration, please ponder this entirely logical position: Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn, and I wouldn't even if I believed your preposterous lies.