Saturday, July 30, 2016

Leading sedentary lifestyle just as deadly as smoking, say researchers

Sad-Man-TV-Television-Remote-Watching-Co (NaturalNews) If you think of dangerous jobs, chances are things like mining, skyscraper construction, and fighting fires may come to mind. However, a team of international experts found that working on a computer in an office all day can be just as deadly as smoking.Given the...


Obese children who quit sugar for just a few days significantly slash their risk of heart disease, study finds

Overweight-Child-Eating-Apple.jpg (NaturalNews) All it takes is one trip to the local mall to learn why nearly 20 percent of American children between the ages of 6 and 11 are obese. While the healthy food movement has sparked a revolution, encouraging food makers to churn out healthier products, junk food and its...


Friday, July 29, 2016

BEST OF THE WEB: Margot Kidder: My fellow Americans: We are fools


© Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

There is something I am going to try and explain here after watching the Democratic National Convention this evening that will invite the scorn of many of my friends. But the words are gagging my throat and my stomach is twisted and sick and I have to vomit this out. The anti-Americanism in me is about to explode and land god knows where as my rage is well beyond reason. And I, by heritage, half American in a way that makes me "more" American than almost anyone else in this country except for the true Americans, the American Indians, am in utter denial tonight that I am, as you are, American as well.

I am half Canadian, I was brought up there, with very different values than you Americans hold, and tonight — after the endless spit ups and boasts and rants about the greatness of American militarism, and praise for American military strength, and boasts about wiping out ISIS, and America being the strongest country on earth, and an utterly inane story from a woman whose son died in Obama's war, about how she got to cry in gratitude on Obama's shoulder — tonight I feel deeply Canadian. Every subtle lesson I was ever subliminally given about the bullies across the border and their rudeness and their lack of education and their

self-given right to bomb whoever they wanted in the world for no reason other than that they wanted something the people in the other country had, and their greed, came oozing to the surface of my psyche.

I just got back from a rather fierce walk beside the Yellowstone River here in Montana, trying to let the mountains in the distance reconnect me to some place of goodness in my soul, but I couldn't find it. The scenery was as exquisite as ever, but it just couldn't touch the rage in my heart.

The visions of all the dead children in Syria that Hillary Clinton helped to kill; the children bombed to bits in Afghanistan and Pakistan from Obama's drones, the grisly chaos of of Libya, the utter wasteland of Iraq, the death and destruction everywhere caused by American military intervention.

The Ukraine, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, you name it — your country has bombed it or destroyed its civilian life in some basic way.

When I heard all the Americans cheering for the military and the pronouncements of might coming from the speakers in the Wells Fargo Centre, I loathed you. I loathed every single one of you. I knew in my gut that what I was taught as a child was true, which is that

YOU are the enemy. YOU are the country to be feared. YOU are the country to be disgusted by. YOU are ignorant. And your greed and self-satisfaction and unearned pride knows no bounds.

I am not an American tonight. I reject my Puritan ancestors who landed in this country in 1648. I reject the words I voiced at my citizenship ceremony. I reject every moment of thrilling discovery I ever had in this country.

You people have no idea what it is like for people from other countries to hear you boast and cheer for your guns and your bombs and your soldiers and your murderous military leaders and your war criminals and your murdering and conscienceless Commander in Chief. All those soaring words are received by the rest of us, by us non-Americans, by all the cells in our body, as absolutely repugnant and obscene.

And there you all are tonight, glued to your TVs and your computers, your hearts swelled with pride because you belong to the strongest country on Earth, cheering on your Murderer President. Ignorant of the entire world's repulsion.

You kill and you kill and you kill, and still you remain proud.

We are fools.

Margot Kidder is an actress and activist living in Montana.


Why the DNC Leak Is Much Bigger Than Just Bernie Sanders


(TRUTHINMEDIA) It is the worst possible scenario for the Democrats on the week of their convention as 20,000 emails were hacked and leaked by Wikileaks, emails that prove the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign did, in fact, rig the primary to protect Clinton and stop Bernie Sanders.

The DNC has now apologized to Sanders and his supporters, but is it enough?

This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.

For months, Reality Check has told you about allegations that the Democratic party leadership and the Clinton campaign were gaming the primary for Clinton. Now, 20,000 leaked DNC emails prove that was in fact happening. I am going to talk about the 3 major themes that have emerged so far.

The first theme: that the DNC worked with the Clinton campaign to create narratives that would harm Sanders with certain voting blocks.

One email, written May 5 to DNC communications director Luis Miranda from another party official, suggests looking at Bernie Sanders’ faith, saying, “It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief,” The email went on to say, “Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

In one email exchange, after Sanders upset Clinton in Indiana, Jordan Kaplan, the National Finance Director for the DNC, said that Clinton’s loss means that Sanders will raise another $4 million and will “be more obnoxious.” And when Sanders wanted to debate Clinton before the California primary, DNC staffers exchanged emails laughing at him.

The second theme of those emails is that the DNC colluded with major media organizations to control the narrative around their primary.

Kenneth Vogel, a reporter for Politico, sent a copy of his story about Hillary Clinton’s fundraising to the DNC in late April before publishing it. The subject line read: “per agreement … any thoughts appreciated.” The agreement was that they could see his story before Vogel’s editors even saw it, as long as he didn’t share it. An email titled “WaPo Party” between two DNC staffers brings up the question about whether the DNC was planning a party with the Washington Post.

And then there was the narrative that was pushed that the DNC had nothing to do with Sanders not winning the nomination and instead it was the fault of his campaign’s disorganization. This is the third major theme.

Mark Paustenbach, on staff with the DNC, emailed communications director Luis Miranda three weeks before the California primary. He pitched an anti-Bernie story that the campaign was a huge mess. In fact, it seems strange to some that this story may have been used because media around that time were reporting that Bernie was doing a poor job of educating his delegates about convention rules.

What you need to know is that Bernie Sanders spoke at the DNC last night and once again this morning and in both cases encouraged his supporters to back Clinton and Kaine and stop Donald Trump.

“In my view, it’s easy, it is easy, to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency,” said Sanders.

And there, once again for the second day in a row, Bernie Sanders was booed by his own supporters. The reason for that is pretty simple. These emails aren’t about the DNC disenfranchising the candidate Bernie Sanders. They prove that the DNC disenfranchised voters.

The 13 million people who cast a vote for Sanders  believed they were doing it in a fair system. They feel disenfranchised. The tens of thousands of others who were blocked from votinng in places like New York where the rules stopped them, they too feel disenfranchised.

If Clinton was selected and not elected, then it doesn’t matter how many concessions the Clinton campaign can make. It doesn’t matter how much Bernie Sanders endorses her. In the minds of millions of Sanders supporters, the DNC has proven they do not care about the people they are supposed to represent.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about it on Twitter.

This article (Why the DNC Leak Is Much Bigger Than Just Bernie Sanders) by Ben Swann originally appeared on and was used with permission. Tune in! The Anti-Media radio show airs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Gage Skidmore. Help us fix our typos:


The 50 Altered States Of American Housing


Via Danielle DiMartino Booth,

Oh the horror! Movies that is. Its summertime and once again they’re out there, all those shriek-worthy trailers just waiting to pounce. They’ll grab you by the psyche and parade just for you and your mind’s viewing pleasure an all-inclusive review of your horror genre past. And if you happen to have been born squeamish and came of age in the ‘80s, you know it only took sitting through a handful of scream inducers before you gave up the fight and relinquished the field. A little Halloween here, a dash of Friday the 13th there with some Freddy K thrown in for good measure and yours truly duly checked out for life.

Sadly, swearing off the blood and gore didn’t do the trick. It was there, just waiting, a whole new dimension of mental anguish. Altered States was its name, the psychological was its game and late night channel surfing its domain. While it’s true the film was a cinematographic groundbreaker, it’s also true that scenes such as those featuring hideously hallucinogenic ever-narrowing hallways were enough to make one wish British filmmaker Ken Russell hadn’t been so desperate for work in the late 1970s. Russell was the 27th director Warner Brothers approached when the 26th, Arthur Penn, abandoned the project after a failed six-month stab at success.

As the New York Times review said at the time, “Russell, using special effects…combines electronic music, video imagery and all manner of visionary artifacts in a fast, ear-splitting, spectacular array.” All those special effects might be fascinating for some, but, if one “ahem” should need a certain amount of uncluttered mental space to maintain one’s wellbeing, combining the above with hellishly narrow hallways certainly lingers to unnerve an unsuspecting subconscious.

Lucky for us, we live in an airy, not scary, new world of wide open floorplans. We live in the 21st Century of big houses as far as the eye can see. Consider if you will that in the late 1970s, when Russell first set foot on the Altered States movie set, the median home in America was just over 1,500 square feet. Stretch your leg room and fast forward to today – the median home size has grown to 2,500 square feet and the living space of the average occupant has doubled.

If anything, this impetus to expand has accelerated since 2010. After a brief reprieve in the immediate aftermath of the onset of the housing crisis, the pace of growth in home sizes has actually picked up. In the event this makes absolutely no sense vis-à-vis what you’ve been reading in the papers about millennials’ financial wherewithal, rest assured, there is a perfectly rational explanation.

It all comes down to economics, though not of the kind associated with the dismal science variety. Economics in this case refers to the economics of the deal, as in making the math work so there is a profit in the end. This has proven to be no easy feat against backdrop of stagnate median incomes and near-zero interest rates, which are but two of the factors at work against housing in recent years.

The Wall Street Journal reported that fees on everything from the cost to service roads, sewers and parks to environmental quality standards and the required number of bricks on a home’s exterior have risen appreciably in recent years. Add it all up and the cost to comply with regulations has leaped by 29.8 percent over the past five years. That’s helped catapult the growth of the median price of a new home to roughly a third over the growth of existing home prices.

In the adding-insult-to-injury department, at least from the perspective of a potential first time home buyer, builders have done the math and determined that the real money to be made is in larger, more luxurious homes. Are builders wrong-headed in their actions? The short answer is no if they intend to stay in business.

For validation of their logic, look no further than the latest new home sales figures, which beat the forecast by a mile: consensus was calling for sales to come in at annualized rate of 562,000; instead they clocked in at a 592,000 rate, the highest in over eight years though still shy of the 25-year average of 715,000. But here’s the catch – the lift came from homes priced north of $400,000. Homes priced below that point fell over the past month.

As of June, the median new home price was north of $300,000, up 6.1 percent over last year. Is it any wonder plans to buy a home are hovering near their lowest level in a year?

“I think we can let go of the idea that if builders build more homes, then somehow homes overall will be more affordable,” wrote housing guru Logan Mohtashami in his latest missive. “We have a permanent housing inflation problem that started four decades ago and will not be easily cured by dithering with the inventory of larger homes.”

At least, and this is a stretch, housing inflation is not quite as hot in the resale market where price appreciation has slowed to 5.2 percent over last year, the slowest pace in eight months. Perhaps this slight cooling can be explained by the relative resurgence in first-time homebuyers. At 33 percent, the June data revealed that first time homebuyers had the healthiest showing since mid-2012.

The question is where does the market go from here? Bank of America’s Michelle Meyer and her crack team of housing analysts recently endeavored to answer that very question.

“Looking ahead, a strong labor market and rising incomes should support the renter-to-homebuyer transition,” the report started off optimistically. Then the however arrived in the form of, “though tight credit conditions remain a challenge.”

Wait a minute. Haven’t we been reading for months about the renaissance in mortgage lending tied to a relaxation of standards? It is certainly the case that larger credit unions have been underwriting mortgages at a fair clip. And there’s plenty of proposed legislation out there to ease the regulatory burden.

For now, at least according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Credit Availability Index (MCIA), it’s become increasingly difficult to qualify for a mortgage despite mortgage rates being just above their lows for this cycle. As of June, the MCIA was at its lowest level since February 2015; it’s been sliding for eight months now. At the same time, the difference between jumbo (for homes priced above $417,000) and conventional mortgage rates is the widest since March 2011.

“This shows that despite falling interest rates, there is a heightened sense of risk aversion in the market,” concluded BofA’s team.

Where does that leave potential homebuyers?

One answer to this question is, “at home,” as in the home they grew up in. A recent analysis by the Pew Research Center found that for the first time in 130 years, Americans between the ages of 18-34 are more likely to be living with their parents compared to any other living arrangement. Some 32.1 percent are bunked up with their parents while 31.6 percent live with a spouse or significant other; only 14 percent live alone.

The sunny side of the story first. The stigma of living at home has worn off. It’s just economically easier to get that law degree or MBA while living at home. And then there’s always mom’s cooking (if she’s a good cook, that is.)

The less bright reason is also culturally-driven. It’s no secret that many millennials are drawn to big cities. The problem, as per a recent Zillow study, is that lower income earners would need to fork over 30 percent or more of their monthly income to make a mortgage payment in one third of major housing markets. The brighter the lights and bigger the city, the more you would spend leaving less for every other expense. So you live with your folks…if that’s an option.

The truth is, in recent years, millions who can’t afford to buy a home have been forced into the rental pool where inflation has also been unbridled. Typically, the rental inflation captured in the consumer price index is too kind, tracking at unrealistically low levels; for the record, it’s risen by 3.8 percent over the last year.

Clearly we’ve crossed the Rubicon to atypical. Today, the market inflation rate captured by private firms is running below that of the CPI; it’s at 3.5 percent over the last year as oversupply finally collides with unaffordability. That’s bound to be welcome news as rent inflation has been running closer to five percent since 2014.

The culprit in the apartment arena may have a familiar ring to it. Last year, three out of every four apartments constructed were for the luxury sector, continuing a trend that’s been firmly in place since 2012. Making matters worse, realistic and mutually beneficial public/private partnerships have also dried up in recent years, yet another reflection of the gridlocked economic potential trapped inside the Beltway.

It’s easy enough to say that something has to give. For the moment, it appears as if that something is apartment rental rates, a welcome development. Over the longer haul, though, even the millennials have to settle down and have 2.4 kids and get a dog who enjoys a backyard in a home they own.

We can only hope Mohtashami is wrong though his reasoning is sound: “I call it the ‘Tiffany Effect.’ Just like most couples cannot afford an engagement ring that comes in that distinctive blue box, only the very fortunate few will be able to afford a new home.”

Of course the hope is that household formation kicks up to two million a year or more from here on out as the sheer number of millennials entering their prime earning years simply forces up the ranks of first-time homebuyers.

The massive demographic push that will come in years 2020-2024 will increase housing demand,” concedes Mohtashami. “But it won’t be as strong as some of my bullish friends in the housing community are betting on.”

What a beginning to the century it’s been for housing. It started with low interest rates fueling unfathomable home price appreciation. Sixteen years later, it’s an Altered State of being with low interest rates driving rampant rental inflation, even as median incomes remain 1.5-percent below their 2000 levels.

On whose watch was this fright show produced? Who wrote the script being played out in all its gory detail across all 50 states of the residential real estate map?

Meddling in markets never ends well. Though much hope is pinned on housing being the exception to this rule, the odds are stacked against a miracle outcome. They say power corrupts absolutely. After nearly 30 years, one can only hope the lesson has also been learned that lower for longer also distorts indefinitely.


10 shocking reasons why Zika virus fear is another fraudulent medical hoax and vaccine industry funding scam

Zika-Virus-South-America.jpg (NaturalNews) Think the Zika virus is responsible for all the cases of microcephaly in South America? Think again: There is no reliable scientific evidence linking the two. The developmental deformities are actually caused by exposure to toxic insecticide and larvicide chemicals,...


IMF Studies Sovereign Debt Restructurings, Admits Its Policy Was Responsible For Greek Depression


It appears causing an economic depression and significantly deteriorating life expectancy in Greece is not enough for the IMF.

In a paper published this month, the IMF seeks to study the relationship between GDP and sovereign debt restructuring using data from 1970-2010. Its main conclusion may be shocking: “the central finding of this paper is that sovereign debt restructurings with external private creditors can affect per capita GDP growth performance in the years after debt restructuring.“ And these are the people in charge of advising nations on managing their economy…

The paper continues with the following insight “we find that there are bad and good (or “not so bad”) debt restructurings for growth. Growth generally declines following a debt restructuring operation; however, restructurings that allow countries to exit a default spell (i.e., final restructurings) lead to significant improvements in growth performance in the aftermath of the debt operation, with the effect being persistent over time.

Final restructurings are good for growth because they reduce countries’ debt (in NPV terms), and the lower the post restructuring debt is, the better the post restructuring growth performance for any given level of debt relief.

These results suggest that there is a difference between addressing debt sustainability and debt overhang issues.

While final restructurings supposedly address immediate debt sustainability issues and allow a country to exit default, they are important for growth if they address countries’ debt overhang issues and leave the country with a relative low debt ratio. These results can help to inform the policy debate concerning what to expect from different forms of restructuring”

Two interesting questions arise from this paper in our opinion: 1) Why is the Greece restructuring (2012) excluded from the analysis, especially considering that it is the largest sovereign restructuring in history? 2) If indeed final restructurings are important for growth, why has the Troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) essentially condemned Greece to a vicious cycle of debt re-negotiations, austerity and unsustainable expectations?


The Addiction Conspiracy: How Government and Big Pharma Created an Epidemic



By Dr. Mercola While most drugs come with a long list of potentially devastating side effects, painkillers — courtesy of their addictive nature — tend to be among the most lethal.Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years,1and Americans use 80 percent of the world’s opioids.2 In Alabama, which…


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Government just beginning to process 4-year-old Benghazi public info request


On July 26, I received an urgent call from a State Department Freedom of Information (FOI) office.

“I’m calling about your Freedom of Information request for information/communications regarding the Benghazi attack.”

First, the officer wanted to know if I still want the records. A reasonable question. After all, it’s been four years. I’ve since changed jobs, gotten a new dog, received my fourth degree blackbelt, received a couple more Emmy awards and an Edward R. Murrow and my kid is about to graduate from college (Under federal law, a response to my FOIA request was required within about 30 days, but the law never seems to stand in the way of a good stonewall…)

“I only have a couple” of documents he added. That part confused me a little because there are at least thousands of pages of State Department public records related to the Benghazi attacks and aftermaths. This much we’ve discovered in the past four years.

The other thing he wanted to know was if I would “agree within those documents we could limit the scope to just matters concerning Benghazi attack or situation.”

So to summarize: I needed the information for a story I was working on in 2012. Now, nearly four years late, the State Department has a few pages of documents to provide and wants me to agree to narrow down within those pages a smaller subset.

“No,” I said. I have come to realize that their requests to “narrow” documents sometimes means the federal government is trying to keep a particular piece of public information from becoming public.

No?!?” he exclaimed, as if offended.

“No,” I repeated. “I’ll take all of them.”

“Well,” he sputtered, “that’s going to mean I have to get a LOT of approvals from MANY MANY people.”

“Any idea how long that will take?” I asked. “It’s been four years and it was due within 30 days.”

“It could take a LONG time!”


New Jersey Student Loan Agency to Staff: Don’t Tell Borrowers About Help Unless They Ask



by Annie Waldman

Some restaurants have secret menus, special items that you can only get if you know to ask. New Jersey’s student loan program has secret options, too — borrowers may be able to get help from the agency, but only if they know to ask.

New Jersey has the largest state-based student loan program in the country, with particularly stringent terms that can lead to financial ruin, as ProPublica and the New York Times recently detailed. The agency overseeing the program says it has a policy to help some families if the children who were supposed to benefit from the loans die.

But internal emails show that staffers at the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, or HESAA, have been instructed not to tell families that they may qualify for help unless they explicitly ask.

“Families of deceased borrowers (or surviving cosigners) must inquire if HESAA has a policy on loan forgiveness,” a supervising staffer wrote in an email to employees in May 2016. “We should not be volunteering this information.”

View note

Similar instructions were sent out three years earlier. “Only advise the cosigner/coborrower about loan forgiveness when asked,” wrote the same staffer in a 2013 email about what to do when borrowers die. A senior supervisor was cc’ed on both emails.

View note

The agency said that the instructions were not agency policy.

“The emails you shared with us do not accurately reflect the Authority’s policy or practice on loan forgiveness,” said Marcia Karrow, the agency’s chief of staff, in an emailed statement. (Read the agency’s full response.)

Karrow did not provide any emails from management correcting the instructions circulated in 2013 or 2016 after they were sent out. Instead, she said, “in person training was provided.”

The agency says that over the past four years, they have helped 35 of 50 cosigners or co-borrowers who have requested assistance after a borrower died or became disabled. But it is impossible to know how many could have been helped if they knew to ask.

It’s not the first time that New Jersey has required borrowers to jump through hoops to get help.

After Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey in November 2012, thousands of residents faced financial ruin: Nearly 350,000 homes were destroyed, about 100,000 workers filed unemployment claims, and business losses totaled over $8 billion.

Given how overwhelmed many residents were, the agency’s chief executive said New Jersey did not tell credit agencies about any late payments in the month after the storm.

“No one who made a late payment has to worry about their credit rating being adversely affected,” Executive Director Gabrielle Charette said at the board meeting in January 2013.

But that wasn’t what happened. Instead, the agency only erased late payment reports if a borrower requested it.

“All reportings from Nov 2012 can be removed when disputed,” a program officer instructed staff in an August 2013 email related to Hurricane Sandy credit reporting appeals.

View note

Following the storm, the agency did put a note on its website telling borrowers to contact them if they were struggling and says it sent written notice about the delinquency policy to borrowers.

When asked about credit reporting after the storm, initially Karrow stood by the statements of the executive director. “Regarding Hurricane Sandy, no delinquencies were reported to any credit agency during the month of November, 2012,” she said in an emailed statement to ProPublica.

But when ProPublica showed that a borrower had indeed been reported late in November 2012, the agency changed its response to say officials had discovered that credit reporting had not been suspended, “as had been directed by the Executive in the early days following the storm.”

The instructions to staff illustrate just one side of the agency’s hard-nosed approach in dealing with struggling student borrowers.

As we have detailed, repayment of New Jersey’s loans cannot be based on income and borrowers who struggle to find a job or face financial hardship are given few breaks.

In one case, HESAA insisted that a mother continue to pay off loans she cosigned with her son even after he was murdered.

New Jersey’s agency has collection powers that surpass those of even the most predatory for-profit lenders. Backed by the power of the state, the agency can garnish wages, revoke state income tax refunds, suspend professional licenses and even take away lottery winnings — all without getting a court’s approval. Once borrowers default, the agency cuts off contact with them, sending their accounts to a collection firm that can tack on an extra 30 percent in attorney fees.

Karrow previously told ProPublica and the New York Times that “the vast majority of these borrowers are happy with the program and are pleased that NJCLASS provided them the opportunity to pursue the higher education of their choosing.” (Read the agency’s responses to our previous questions.)

In response to our reporting, New Jersey Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, who chairs the state assembly’s higher education committee, called on New Jersey to review student loan issues at the agency.

“Our state must review the existing system with a more compassionate eye to those situations that have such a destructive impact on people who simply sought to better their lives by earning a college degree,” Jasey said in a statement.



Patriot Games


“Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

  – Sir John Harington (1561-1612)



There has been a break-in at the Democratic National Committee. Documents were stolen with the apparent intention of manipulating the results of a presidential election.


Did this happen in 1972, at the Watergate complex, or in 2016, at 430 South Capitol Street Southeast? Was the break-in a physical burglary, or was it a digital theft? Were the apparent perpetrators naturalized Cubans, or were they Russians in the service of the SVR? To paraphrase Mark Twain, history never repeats itself exactly, but there are occasions when it rhymes.

The crucial difference between 1972 and 2016 is that in the former instance, there was no collusion between an American politician and a foreign state. In the present case, even if there is not (yet) any incontrovertible evidence of collusion, there is a serendipitous congruence of economic interests between Donald Trump and a foreign power, as well as the striking coincidence of his campaign manager, his top European foreign policy adviser and others associated with the candidate’s campaign having economic or career ties with Russia.

The idea that a major-party candidate would conspire with a foreign power to influence a US election is an implausible hypothesis that the mainstream media may have difficulty reporting on, and not merely because of bias or caution, but because the public may not fully absorb it.

The idea that a major-party candidate would conspire with a foreign power to influence a US election is an implausible hypothesis that the mainstream media may have difficulty reporting on, and not merely because of bias or caution, but because the public may not fully absorb it. As Marshall McLuhan observed, “Only the small secrets need to be protected. The large ones are kept secret by public incredulity.” Or, unfortunately, indifference.

One secret that has been hiding in plain sight for almost 50 years also involves Richard Nixon, the author of the Watergate affair, but this time with the participation of a foreign government. The occasion was a closely fought 1968 election that hinged on the candidates’ stance on the Vietnam War, and on the progress of the Paris peace talks.

The incumbent president, Lyndon Johnson, never did succeed in obtaining an agreement with the North Vietnamese on a bombing halt before the election, an achievement that would have favored the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey. Instead, Nixon, claiming a “secret plan to end the war,” narrowly defeated Humphrey and proceeded to continue pointless military involvement for his entire first term.

There have long been rumors that the Nixon campaign colluded with Anna Chennault, a stalwart of the old China lobby, to open a back channel between Nixon’s campaign and the South Vietnamese government. Since that government already took a very hard line against North Vietnam (any peace agreement with the North would likely undercut the Saigon government’s legitimacy), it would be more than willing to block agreement on a bombing halt. In the event, there was no agreement, and Nixon won a narrow victory.

Now, thanks to a remarkable book by Ken Hughes, we know that the rumor is actually incontestable fact. The author produces archival evidence from the Johnson presidential library, intercepts from the FBI and NSA and the Johnson tapes themselves to demonstrate not only that Nixon was conspiring with a foreign power to undermine US diplomacy (an act of treason on its face) but that Johnson knew it and concealed it — which is why most Americans don’t know it.

Why didn’t Johnson blow the whistle, when he himself knew it was treason? One reason was the old chestnut of “sources and methods,” meaning protecting the secrecy of the FBI and NSA intercepts. Another was the argument (which the proverbial man from Mars would find amazing) that the American people’s naïve faith in their institutions and politicians had to be protected at all costs, even in the face of illegality and treason. The foremost advocate of this outrageous thesis was Johnson’s defense secretary, Clark Clifford, a slippery Deep State operative who later came to grief himself over shady dealings with foreign entities.

But I suspect the foremost reason was Johnson himself. By that point, the strain of dealing with the Vietnam War had fatally warped his judgment. He became so obsessed with defending his (futile) Vietnam policy that he was willing to give Nixon (himself a hawk) a pass. By contrast, he had bullied his vice president, Humphrey, for so long that he had lost all respect for him. When Humphrey showed signs of deviating from the party line on Vietnam, Johnson took actions which, as Hughes shows us, objectively favored Nixon, and one may infer that Johnson secretly wanted Nixon to win. Hughes does not explicitly say that, but it is readily deduced from the tone of the transcripts that the author reproduces.

Nixon got away with treason and rigging an election. That makes the idiotic risks he took in Watergate far more understandable in retrospect. After all, he got away with it before.

Fast forwarding 48 years, the evidence is more tenuous. We know that Donald Trump has had extensive connections going back decades with Russia and Russia’s oligarchs. From forensic evidence, the hack of the DNC appears to have been undertaken by elements of Russian intelligence. This allegation should not be surprising, because that’s what foreign intelligence services do — toward the end of my tenure on Capitol Hill, we were frequently warned about foreign governments engaging in phishing expeditions to hack our email accounts.

It may be that Trump’s and the Russian government’s financial interests are simply aligned by happenstance, with no overt collusion. Trump’s financial ties would likely make him instinctively sympathetic to the Russian government’s claims. Russia, for its part, would definitely like to see a US president elected who would reverse economic sanctions against the Kremlin.

The Republicans’ 2016 campaign platform, however, is suggestive of something a little more intense. As a former political operative myself, I know that written platforms are largely a headache to candidates, who would prefer not to have them. But they are a bit more than symbolic nuisances: once written, they can become bludgeons in the hands of the opposing party, which will quote any infelicitously chosen plank loud and long during the general election campaign. Accordingly, the candidates’ campaign personnel normally expend effort to make sure platforms are inoffensive mush.

But not this time. Party activists, mainly from the religious right wing of the party that is not the core of the Trump movement, confected a 2016 platform whose social policy elements were so retrograde that they might have been crafted in 1690s Salem, or present-day Islamabad. Trump, the cosmopolitan libertine, did not care and did not lift a finger to change any of it, despite the fact that it will be a gift to the Clinton campaign in the two parties’ competition for independent voters.

With one exception.

With respect to foreign policy, Trump’s operatives pushed back hard against the GOP’s tradition of an implacably militant stance in one particular: they forced the platform committee to drop any reference to arming Ukraine against Russia. Is it possible that a foreign entity did not understand the labyrinthine intricacies of American politics, and the fact that platforms are mainly campaign symbolism? Did somebody demand a guarantee in writing?

This could also explain why Trump has not released his tax returns — something that every major-party candidate has done ever since Nixon gave the public a reason to demand such information. The common belief about Trump’s refusal is that he is not as rich as he brags he is, that he is extremely stingy with charities or that he pays little or no personal income taxes. But would his returns also reveal business connections with Russian financial interests?

The ironies abound. Through the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Agency for International Development, the United States has meddled often enough in foreign elections. Are foreign governments with an axe to grind now turning the tables on us? We should take heed of our own behavior, even as we condemn presumed foreign interference in our own affairs.

History may not repeat itself, but the melody is close enough that we should be on our guard.

It is also obvious that the US government cannot, even in its wildest dreams, pursue its Captain Ahab-like quest to fight a war on terror throughout the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa without maintaining tolerable relations with major powers like Russia. To fight the so-called “War on Terror” while ginning up Cold War 2.0 is irrational and dangerous, even if lucrative for the merchants of death who infest the Beltway policy process.

The sad irony is that the champion of a renewed détente should be Trump. It is said that a blind hog finds an occasional acorn, and so it is in this case. Nevertheless, we can declare that it should be the goal of US diplomacy to improve relations with virtually every country on the planet — but that does not mean our leaders should come with financial strings attached to them that lead to a foreign capital.

The final irony is this: Why are the most annoyingly ostentatious patriots always the first ones to name their price? Nixon was the first president to wear an enameled flag pin on his lapel — Nixon, who committed treason with a foreign government, compiled an enemies list and went on to subvert the Constitution. Now we have a candidate who says “America first,” denounces whole groups of people for not being American enough and has suggestive financial connections with a foreign power.

Yesterday, Trump held a press conference in which he expressed a wish that Russia or China would “find” Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from when she was secretary of state. His statement crosses the line from legitimate criticism of government policy to encouraging foreign powers — meaning foreign espionage services — to commit cybercrimes and spy against Americans. We shall see in the coming days how Trump’s phalanx of Real Americans digests and rationalizes his outburst of subversion and quislingism.

History may not repeat itself, but the melody is close enough that we should be on our guard.

The post Patriot Games appeared first on


The Addiction Conspiracy: How Government and Big Pharma Created an Epidemic


By Dr. Mercola

While most drugs come with a long list of potentially devastating side effects, painkillers — courtesy of their addictive nature — tend to be among the most lethal.

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have risen by 300 percent over the past 10 years,1 and Americans use 80 percent of the world’s opioids.2

In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.3 A result of this trend is that overdose deaths from painkillers now far surpass those from illicit street drugs.

In 2013, about 23,000 Americans died from overdosing on prescription drugs, and painkillers accounted for about 16,000 of those deaths.4

Drug Industry Is Responsible for Mass Addiction

Many believe the drug companies that create and sell these drugs need to be held accountable for this dangerous trend, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs.

As noted by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA),5 the drug industry has "fostered the opioid addiction epidemic"in several ways, by:

Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which prior to reformulation in 2010 could be snorted or shot. Many addicts claimed the high from OxyContin was better than heroin.

In fact, from a chemical standpoint, OxyContin is nearly identical to heroin, and has been identified as a major gateway drug to heroin

Changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for lower back pain and other pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has had a hand in this problem, although it restricted its promotion of narcotic painkillers to cancer patients6

Promoting long-term use of opioids, even though there's no evidence that using these drugs long-term is safe and effective

Downplaying and misinforming doctors and patients about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. OxyContin, for example, became a blockbuster drug mainly through misleading claims, which Purdue Pharma knew were false from the start.

The basic promise was that it provided pain relief for a full 12 hours, twice as long as generic drugs, giving patients “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night.”

However, for many the effects don't last anywhere near 12 hours, and once the drug wears off, painful withdrawal symptoms set in, including body aches, nausea and anxiety. These symptoms, in addition to the return of the original pain, quickly begin to feed the cycle of addiction.7

A 2015 article8 in The Week does a great job revealing the promotional strategy developed by Purdue, and backed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that has led to such enormous personal tragedy. As noted in this article,

“The time-release conceit even worked on the FDA, which stated that ‘Delayed absorption, as provided by OxyContin tablets is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug.’"

New Hampshire Suing Over Deceptive Marketing

Several states are indeed trying to hold drug makers accountable for the epidemic of addiction.9

One of them is New Hampshire, where the state attorney general's office has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of deceptive marketing, saying it misrepresented the risks and benefits of long-term opioid use for chronic pain.

But while the attorney general's legal team consists of three people, Purdue has 19 lawyers on the case. As reported by Concord Monitor:10

"One year after the state attorney general's office filed subpoenas against five large drug companies to discover how addictive painkillers have been marketed in the state, the pharmaceutical giants have handed over nothing more than legal briefs ...

"The current legal fight is whether the attorney general's office can hire outside help.

All of the drug companies have refused to turn over any internal documents, as long as the attorney general's office works with hired counsel — Cohen Milstein — a firm that has litigated similar cases against the pharmaceutical industry.

Lawyers representing the drug companies have argued Cohen Milstein has an inherent bias against them because it will only get paid if the state takes future legal action against the drug companies.

A Merrimack County Superior Court judge recently sided with the state, but the drug companies are refusing to budge ... "They don't want us to know, that's for sure," Boffetti said. "We can have no resources; they'll do everything they can to prevent us from seeing the documents."

OxyContin — The $30 Billion 'Widow Maker'

Since its approval in 1996, Purdue has raked in more than $31 billion from the sale of OxyContin. Sales remained unaffected even after Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to criminal charges of misleading regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s addiction and abuse risk.

The company paid $600 million in fines and payments. The three executives, which included Purdue’s president and one of its lawyers, agreed to pay another $34.5 million in fines after pleading guilty of misbranding.11

As early as 2003, the FDA ordered Purdue to pull its printed advertisements for OxyContin, saying the ads “"grossly misrepresent" the drug’s safety profile.12

Despite such obvious warning signs that opioids were being misrepresented and misbranded, little was done to rein in their use. More than 194,000 people have died from overdoses involving opioids, including OxyContin, since 1999. During this time, the death rate from overdoses among women has risen by 450 percent.

Addiction among younger adults has also dramatically risen. As noted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, many get caught in a cycle of addiction after being prescribed an opioid drug for a sports injury or wisdom tooth extraction.13

But the elderly are the most vulnerable group. Not only are they prescribed opioids more often than younger people, they also have the highest addiction and death rate.

Beware: Opiates Are Potent Immunosuppressive Drugs

Earlier this month, I interviewed Dr. Thomas Cowan, a family physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), about the use of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) for autoimmune diseases. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. It blocks the effects of the narcotic by attaching to opioid receptors in your body.

For heroin overdoses, a dose of about 30 to 50 milligrams (mg) of naltrexone is used to prevent the fatal respiratory depression from a narcotic overdose. However, when used at a very LOW dose, about one-tenth or less of the dose you'd use for opioid addiction, LDN ends up working as an immune booster.

Cowan shared some interesting and largely unknown information about opioids in that interview. As it turns out, opioids are actually very potent immune suppressors. As such they can wreck your health in serious ways, leaving you far worse off than where you started.

A famous study called the European Prostitute Study actually showed the primary risk factor for HIV and AIDS was neither sexual exposure nor IV exposure, but rather opiate exposure. It is believed that overstimulation of the opioid receptors, as from opioid drugs, results in severe immune impairment.

According to Cowan, you will typically see that as soon as a patient starts taking opiates for chronic pain, their health rapidly declines as their immune system becomes increasingly compromised. Besides avoiding addiction, this is another important factor to consider before you start taking a narcotic pain reliever.

Drugmaker Knew OxyContin Ended Up in Hands of Criminals and Addicts

The Los Angeles Times recently published a scathing exposé on Purdue Pharma, describing how the company had extensive knowledge of and evidence showing their drug OxyContin was being sold through pill mills and organized drug rings,14 yet did nothing to stop it. According to the article:15

"[F]or more than a decade, Purdue collected extensive evidence suggesting illegal trafficking of OxyContin and, in many cases, did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills. A former Purdue executive, who monitored pharmacies for criminal activity, acknowledged that even when the company had evidence pharmacies were colluding with drug dealers, it did not stop supplying distributors selling to those stores.

Purdue knew about many suspicious doctors and pharmacies from prescribing records, pharmacy orders, field reports from sales representatives and, in some instances, its own surveillance operations, according to court and law enforcement records ..."

Purdue insists it has "at all times complied with the law."16 Yet according to federal law, drug makers are required to report suspicious drug orders and activity to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and must also reject orders if they suspect the drugs may be sold on the black market. Purdue did neither.

Senate-Approved Opioid Legislation Another Boon for Drugmakers

Frustratingly, government action is simply “feeding the beast” that is Big Pharma. While concerns about rising addiction rates led to the passing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was approved by the U.S. Senate in May, the bill does little to address the root of the problem.17,18

Rather than punish drug makers who promote addiction through misleading or false marketing, the bill focuses on the treatment of addicts and availability of anti-addiction drugs. For example, the bill will allow doctors and nurse practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, which has previously been notoriously difficult to obtain.

Buprenorphine19 is a partial opioid agonist, so while it's a type of opioid, it's less likely to cause a "high," and hence less likely to promote addiction. Meanwhile, it also functions as a pain reliever.

While safe and effective treatment is certainly necessary, one could argue that replacing one addictive drug with another is not a real solution. Rather than reining in the misuse and excessive use of narcotic painkillers, the bill simply rewards Big Pharma with more orders for more — albeit different — pills!

So the same industry that created the addiction problem in the first place is now rewarded for its callousness, as the government's plan to address the addiction epidemic simply feeds back into the drug industry's pockets.

Drug companies intentionally got people addicted and now they're providing the treatment drugs, which will be paid for by your tax dollars. The 2017 budget will include over $1 billion in "new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use."20 Why isn't the drug industry being held accountable for at least part of this enormous financial burden?

Instead, drug companies are raking in more money than ever before. For example, with increasing demand, the price for the overdose-reversing drug naloxone (Narcan) has nearly doubled, from $20 to $40 per dose.21 And why isn't more done to prevent the misuse and overuse of narcotic painkillers in the first place, especially since they've been clearly identified as the new gateway drug to heroin?

West Virginia Legislation to Regulate Suboxone Clinics

In West Virginia, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has proposed a bill that would require addiction clinics using Suboxone to be regulated by the state. Suboxone is a drug consisting of four parts buprenorphine and one part naloxone. Naloxone is considered an "abuse deterrent," as it causes more painful withdrawal symptoms.

The Tomblin bill would require Suboxone clinics to offer counseling and perform drug testing on all patients to ensure the drug is used as intended. Despite its use as an anti-addiction drug, Suboxone, as well as pure buprenorphine (sold under the brand name Subutex) can and has been abused. As reported by Charleston Gazette-Mail:22

“The bill (SB 454) attempts to crack down on Suboxone clinics that deal in cash. It requires clinics to bill a patient's health insurance before they bill the patient, so that clinics can't cater to cash customers who intend to abuse or sell their medication ...”

While this may sound all good and well, there are serious questions to be raised here. Suboxone is the sole buprenorphine drug on West Virginia’s “preferred” list for Medicaid coverage, per contract with the maker of the drug, Reckitt Benckiser. Similar drugs, such as Zubsolv and Bunavail, are available in lower doses, which may reduce the risk of abuse, yet they cannot be prescribed to West Virginia Medicaid patients unless Suboxone treatment fails.

Why does West Virginia have such a monopoly contract with Reckitt Benckiser? In December 2013, Reckitt's offices in Richmond, Virginia, were raided by agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG). According to a report23 from that time, the search warrant was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Western Virginia.

The company has also been slapped with antitrust lawsuits24,25 by drug wholesalers and insurance companies who claim "Reckitt 'schemed' to obstruct generic competition." The company is also under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).26,27 Again, while treatment for addiction is important, it seems white-collar pharma criminals are rewarded by this kind of legislation, and the government is basically just providing a monopoly for addiction treatment with another addictive drug.28

Drug Addiction — An Intentionally-Created 'Disease'

More and more politicians are now starting to view and discuss opioid addiction as a disease,29 but none address the crux of the problem or the elephant in the room, which is that this "disease" has been created intentionally by the drug industry and the federal government. This pays, because then they can make even more money on the drugs issued to treat the addicts.

Meanwhile, low-cost medical marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, alongside heroin, LSD and Ecstasy. This really defies all common sense and logic. Schedule I controlled substances have a "high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use."

But when it comes to marijuana, mounting evidence suggests it may in fact have many beneficial medical uses. It appears to be especially helpful for chronic pain conditions. One recent study found patients given the herb experienced 30 percent or greater improvement in pain compared with placebo.30

Other research has found marijuana therapy produced “dramatic physical and mental improvements” in nursing home patients, while simultaneously reducing the need for other medications.31

Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Use and Abuse

Other recent research also found that medical marijuana lowers prescription drug use. Could that be why it hasn't been rescheduled? There are no other truly compelling reasons why addictive narcotics like OxyContin are legal, while marijuana — which is extremely unlikely to kill you even if you take very high amounts — is not.

The video above features W. David Bradford, Ph.D., whose study was published in the journal Health Affairs earlier this month32 As reported by The Washington Post:33

"[R]esearchers at the University of Georgia scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law.

The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year."

According to Bradford, the Medicare program could save $468 million per year if marijuana was legalized in all U.S. states.34,35 Already, $165 million was saved in 2013 in the 18 states where medical marijuana was legal that year. Similarly, a 2015 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) states that:36

"If marijuana is used as a substitute for powerful and addictive pain relievers in medical marijuana states, a potential overlooked positive impact of medical marijuana laws may be a reduction in harms associated with opioid pain relievers, a far more addictive and potentially deadly substance."

Not only did the NBER find that access to state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries resulted in a significant decrease in prescription painkiller overdose deaths, it also led to a 15 to 35 percent drop in substance abuse admissions. So, it would seem medical marijuana — far from being the deadly drug it's been made out to be — could actually SAVE thousands of lives that would otherwise be destroyed by painkiller addiction and its lethal consequences.

It's a real travesty that while the U.S. Senate refuses to release its opioid report,37 they're more than willing to shell out taxpayer money to Big Pharma, both for addictive painkillers AND the drugs to treat addiction.

Are You or Someone You Love Addicted to Painkillers?

Some of the marketing material for opioids claims the drug will not cause addiction "except in very rare cases," describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a "benign state" and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn't true. As noted by Kolodny, "It's not true that patients can be easily tapered off these drugs."

Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

It's important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you've been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you're likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

Your workplace Employee Assistance Program

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration38 (SAMHSA) can be contacted 24 hours a day at 1-800-622-HELP

With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a long list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous article, How Federal Policies Have Spawned a Heroin Epidemic.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Deutsche Bank Profit Plunges 98 Percent As The Outlook For ‘The World’s Riskiest Bank’ Darkens


Crash Arrow Down - Public DomainThe biggest and most important bank in the biggest and most important country in Europe continues to implode right in front of our eyes.  If you follow my work regularly, you probably already know that I issued a major alarm about Deutsche Bank last September.  Subsequently, Deutsche Bank stock hit an all-time low.  Then I sounded the alarm about Deutsche Bank again back in May, and once again that was followed by another all-time low for Deutsche Bank.  And then I warned about Deutsche Bank again in early June, and you can probably imagine what happened after that.  Over the past year, this German banking giant has literally been coming apart at the seams, and in so many ways it is paralleling exactly what happened to Lehman Brothers back in 2008.

Today, we got some more bad news from Deutsche Bank.  Compared to the exact same period last year, profits were down 98 percent.  A nearly 100 percent drop in net income spooked a lot of investors, and Deutsche Bank shares got hit hard on Wednesday.  Of course Deutsche Bank shares are already down by more than half over the past 12 months, and the financial sharks can smell blood in the water.

Just like Lehman Brothers in 2008, Deutsche Bank is essentially in panic mode at this point.  They recently announced that they will be closing 188 branches and that 3,000 workers will be losing their jobs.  But this could just be the beginning of the layoffs at the bank.  According to some reports, the bank could cut up to  35,000 jobs by the year 2020, and CEO John Cryan recently admitted that they “may have to accelerate cost-cutting measures“.

What makes all of this even more alarming is that Deutsche Bank is widely considered to be “the most dangerous bank” on the entire planet.  The following comes from a CNN article posted just today entitled “The world’s riskiest bank is in trouble“…

What is going on with Deutsche Bank?

Germany’s biggest lender was dubbed the world’s riskiest bank by the International Monetary Fund last month, just as one of its U.S. businesses failed a Federal Reserve stress test.

Its shares are down 45% this year, and on Wednesday it said second quarter profits were wiped out by a 98% slump in earnings. The stock fell 2.5% in Frankfurt.

The primary reason why Deutsche Bank is “the world’s riskiest bank” is because of the mammoth derivatives portfolio that is possesses.  It currently has 42 trillion euros of exposure to derivatives, which is an amount of money about 13 times the size of the entire German economy.

When Deutsche Bank finally goes down for good, it is going to be “the shot heard around the financial world”, and it will be a disaster many times greater than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.  Just consider what Jeff Gundlach had to say about the bank earlier this year

“Banks are dying and policymakers don’t know what to do,” Gundlach said. “Watch Deutsche Bank shares go to single digits and people will start to panic… you’ll see someone say, ‘Someone is going to have to do something.'”

As I write this, shares of Deutsche Bank are sitting at just $13.63, and many experts are having a very difficult time finding any reason for optimism.  In fact, Edward Misrahi has stated that the bank is his number one short trade, and Jim Collins says that “it is just impossible” to recommend buying shares of Deutsche Bank even at this depressed level…

As an equity analyst, it is just impossible to recommend shares of a bank that is not growing revenue. So really, Deutsche is an untouchable, and the stock market is trying — to the tune of a 58% decline in DB’s market value in 12 months — to recalibrate Deutsche’s market capitalization to the true value of its assets net of liabilities. That’s a painful journey.

I don’t mean to just pick on Deutsche Bank.  Certainly there are a lot of other major banks around the globe that are also teetering on the brink right now.  Just take a look at Italy.  Basically their entire banking system is in the process of melting down.

But the utter collapse of Italy’s banking system won’t have the same kind of worldwide impact that the collapse of Deutsche Bank will.

Unlike some of his predecessors, CEO John Cryan is being honest about some of the struggles that Deutsche Bank is going through right now, and he admits that they may need to be “more ambitious in our restructuring”.  The following comes from Business Insider

Cryan said in a statement (emphasis ours):

“We have continued to de-risk our balance sheet, to invest in our processes and to modernize our infrastructure. However, if the current weak economic environment persists, we will need to be yet more ambitious in the timing and intensity of our restructuring.”

He said something similar in a note to employees (emphasis again ours):

“Here I would like to speak plainly. If this weak economic environment persists, we will need to be still more ambitious in our restructuring. We will do everything in our power to accelerate the measures we have already planned.”

Yes, I know that the stock market in the United States has been setting all sorts of all-time record highs lately.

But that doesn’t change what is going on in the rest of the world one bit.

The financial crisis that has been gripping Europe, Asia, South America and most of the rest of the planet since the second half of last year is accelerating.

And it is inevitable that the U.S. is going to be experiencing some very real pain in the not too distant future as well.

So even though things may seem a bit quiet this summer in the financial world, the truth is that there is a whole lot going on under the surface.

Deutsche Bank is one glaringly obvious example of this, but there are many others all over the globe.  And not too long from now, the dominoes will begin to fall very rapidly.


Insanity In Japan


Submitted by Michael Lebowitz via (h/t Lance Roberts at,

Pondering the state of the global economy can elicit manic?depressive?obsessive?compulsive emotions. The volatility of global markets – equities, bonds, commodities, currencies, etc. – are challenging enough without consideration of Brexit, the U.S. Presidential election, radical Islamic terrorism and so on. Yet no discussion of economic and market environments is complete without giving hefty consideration to what may be a major shift in the way economic policy is conducted in Japan.

The Japanese economy has been the poster child for economic malaise and bad fortune for so long that even the most radical policy responses no longer garner much attention. In fact, recent policy actions intended to weaken the Yen have resulted in significant appreciation of the yen against the currencies of Japan’s major trade partners, further crippling economic activity. The frustration of an appreciating currency coupled with deflation and zero economic growth has produced signs that what Japan has in store for the world falls squarely in to the category of “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Assuming new fiscal and monetary policies will be similar to those enacted in the past is a big risk that should be contemplated by investors.


The Last 25 Years

The Japanese economy has been fighting weak growth and deflationary forces for over 25 years. Japan’s equity market and real estate bubbles burst in the first week of 1990, presaging deflation and stagnant economic growth ever since. Despite countless monetary and fiscal efforts to combat these economic ailments, nothing seems to work.

Any economist worth his salt has multiple reasons for the depth and breadth of these issues but very few get to the heart of the problem. The typical analysis suggests that weak growth in Japan is primarily being caused by weak demand. Over the last 25 years, insufficient demand, or a lack of consumption, has been addressed by increasingly incentivizing the population and the government to consume more by taking on additional debt. That incentive is produced via lower interest rates. If demand really is the problem, however, then some version of these policies should have worked, but to date they have not.

If the real problem, however, is too much debt, which at 255% of Japan’s GDP seems a reasonable assumption to us, then the misdiagnoses and resulting ill?designed policy response leads to even slower growth, more persistent deflationary pressures and exacerbates the original problem. The graphs below shows that economic activity is currently at levels last seen in 1993, yet the level of debt has risen 360% since 1996. The charts provide evidence that
Japan’s crippling level of debt is not helping the economy recover and in fact is creating massive headwinds.


What is so confounding about this situation is that after 25 years, one would expect Japanese leadership to eventually recognize that they are following Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Equally insane, leaders in the rest of the developed world are following Japan over the same economic cliff. 

Throughout this period of economic stagnation and deflation, Japan has increasingly emphasized its desire to generate inflation. The ulterior motive behind such a strategy is hidden in plain sight. If the value of a currency, in this case the Yen, is eroded by rising inflation debtors are able to pay back that debt with Yen that is worth less than it used to be. For example, if Japan were somehow able to generate 4% inflation for 5 years, the compounded effect of that inflation would serve to devalue the currency by roughly 22%. Therefore, debtors (the Japanese government) could repay outstanding debt in five years at what is a 22% discount to its current value. Said more bluntly, they can essentially default on 22% of their debt. 

What we know about Japan is that their debt load has long since surpassed the country’s ability to repay it in conventional terms. Given that it would allow them to erase some percentage of the value of the debt outstanding, their desperation to generate inflation should not be underestimated. One way or another, this is the reality Japan hopes to achieve.



Quantitative easing (QE) is one of the primary monetary policy approaches central banks have
taken since the 2008 financial crisis. With short term interest rates pegged at zero, and thus the traditional level of monetary policy at its effective limit, the U.S. Federal Reserve and many other central banks conjured new money from the printing presses and began buying sovereign debt and, in some cases mortgages, corporate bonds and even equities. This approach to increasing the money supply achieved central bank objectives of levitating stocks and other asset markets, in the hope that newly created “wealth” would trickle down. The mission has yet to produce the promised “escape velocity” for economic growth or higher inflation. The wealthy, who own most of the world’s financial assets, have seen their wealth expand rapidly. However, for most of the working population, the outcome has been economic struggle, further widening of the wealth gap and a deepening sense of discontentment. 


The Nuclear Option

In 2014, as the verdict on the efficacy of QE became increasingly clear, European and Japanese central bankers went back to the drawing board. They decided that if the wealth effect of boosting financial markets would not deliver the desired consumption to drive economic growth then surely negative interest rates would do the trick. Unfortunately, the central bankers appear to have forgotten that there are both borrowers and lenders who are affected by the level of interest rates. Not only have negative interest rates failed to advance economic growth, the strategy appears to have eroded public confidence in the institution of central banking and financially damaging the balance sheets of many banks.

In recent weeks, former Federal Reserve (Fed) chairman Ben Bernanke paid a visit to Tokyo and met with a variety of Japanese leaders including Bank of Japan chairman Haruhiko Kuroda. In those meetings, Bernanke supposedly offered counsel to the Japanese about how they might, once and for all, break the deflationary shackles that enslave their economy using “helicopter money” (the termed was coined by Milton Freidman and made popular in 2002 by Ben Bernanke). What Bernanke proposes, is for Japan to effectively take one of the few remaining steps toward “all?in” or the economic policy equivalent of a “nuclear option”.

The Japanese government appears to be leading the charge in the next chapter of stranger than fiction economic policy through some form of “helicopter money”. As opposed to the prior methods of QE, this new approach marries monetary policy with fiscal policy by putting printed currency into the hands of the Ministry of Finance (MOF or Japan’s Treasury department) for direct distribution through a fiscal policy program. Such a program may be infrastructure spending or it may simply be a direct deposit into the bank accounts of public citizens. Regardless of its use, the public debt would rise further.

According to the meeting notes shared with the media Bernanke recommended that the MoF issue “perpetual bonds”, or bonds which have no maturity date. The Bank of Japan (BOJ or Japan’s Central Bank) would essentially print Yen to buy the perpetual bonds and further expand their already bloated balance sheet. The new money for those bonds would go to the MoF for distribution in some form through a fiscal policy measure. The BoJ receives the bonds, the MoF gets the newly printed money and the citizens of Japan would receive a stimulus package that will deliver inflation and a real economic recovery. Sounds like a win?win, huh?

Temporarily, yes. Economic activity will increase and inflation may rise. Let us suppose that the decision is to distribute the newly printed currency from the sale of the perpetual bonds directly into the hands of the Japanese people. Further let us suppose every dollar of that money is spent. In such a circumstance, economic activity will pick up sharply. However, eventually the money will run out, spending falters and economic stagnation and decline will resume.

At this point, Japan has the original accumulated debt plus the new debt created through perpetual bonds and an economy that did not respond organically to this new policy measure. Naturally the familiar response from policymakers is likely to be “we just didn’t do enough”. It is then highly probable another round of helicopter money will be issued producing another short lived spurt of economic activity. As with previous policy efforts, this pattern likely repeats over and over again. Each time, however, the amount of money printed and perpetual bonds issued must be greater than the prior attempts. Otherwise, economic growth will not occur, it will, at best, only match that of the prior experience.

Eventually, due to the mountain of money going directly in to the economy, inflation will emerge. However, the greater likelihood is not that inflation emerges, but that it actually explodes resulting in a complete annihilation of the currency and the Japanese economy. In hypothetical terms as described here, the outcome would be devastating. Unlike prior methods of QE which can be halted and even reversed, helicopter money demands ever
increasing amounts to achieve the desired growth and inflation. Once started, it will be very
difficult to stop as economic activity would stumble.

The following paragraph came from “Part Deux – Shorting the Federal Reserve”. In the article we described how the French resorted to a helicopter money to help jump start a stagnant economy.

“With each new issue came increased trade and a stronger economy. The problem was the activity wasn’t based on anything but new money. As such, it had very little staying power and the positive benefits quickly eroded. Businesses were handcuffed. They found it hard to make any decisions in fear the currency would continue to drop in value. Prices continued to rise. Speculation and hoarding were becoming the primary drivers of the economy. ‘Commerce was dead; betting took its place.’ With higher prices, employees were laid off as merchants struggled to cover increasing costs”.


The French money printing exercise ultimately led to economic ruin and was a leading factor fueling the French revolution.


Is it possible that Bernanke’s helicopter money approach could work and finally help Japan escape deflation in conjunction with a healthy, organically growing economy? It has a probability that is certainly greater than zero, but given the continual misdiagnoses of the core problem, namely too much debt, that probability is not much above zero. There is a far greater likelihood of a multitude of other undesirable unintended consequences.

Of all the developed countries, Japan is in the worst condition economically. Most others, including the United States, are following the same path to insanity though. Unlike Japan, other countries may have time to implement policy changes that will allow them to avoid Japan’s desperate circumstances.