Thursday, May 24, 2018

More Police State Surveillance: Courtesy Of The Pentagon


Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via,

There was an article by Joseph Marks of Nextgov published on 5/16/18 that was neither picked up by the larger news networks nor kept in view for long. The article is entitled The Pentagon Has a Big Plan to Solve Identity Verification in Two Years, and here is a portion of it:

The Defense Department is funding a project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military itself verify that people are who they say they are and it could be available in most commercial smartphones within two years. The technology, which will be embedded in smartphones’ hardware, will analyze a variety of identifiers that are unique to an individual, such as the hand pressure and wrist tension when the person holds a smartphone and the person’s peculiar gait while walking, said Steve Wallace, technical director at the Defense Information Systems Agency. 

Organizations that use the tool can combine those identifiers to give the phone holder a “risk score,” Wallace said.

If the risk score is low enough, the organization can presume the person is who she says she is and grant her access to sensitive files on the phone or on a connected computer or grant her access to a secure facility. If the score’s too high, she’ll be locked out.

Amazing. The Pentagon’s technical director omitted much in his quest to act as if such actions are “government streamlining” and occurring matter-of-factly, in the interests of securing information for the government and its contractors.

The problem: if it’s in the software of all the commercial smartphones (the ones bought in the stores), that biometric data will be transmitted by all the phones, not just the contractors to the federal government.

We also know where this is heading. The government will back-door everyone’s cell phones and make tracking and surveillance even more ubiquitous than it is now, and that’s saying something. Read this portion:

Another identifier that will likely be built into the chips is a GPS tracker that will store encrypted information about a person’s movements, Wallace said. The verification tool would analyze historical information about a person’s locations and major, recent anomalies would raise the person’s risk score.  The tool would be separate from the GPS function used by mapping and exercise apps, he said. The tool does not include biometric information, such as a thumbprint or eye scans at this point, Wallace said, because DISA judged that existing commercial applications of biometric information are too easy to spoof.

So, they’re telling us up front. GPS tracking will be used to monitor... and store... your movements... deciding if you’re a “risk” by where you go. “Anomalies,” the actions are termed, that “would raise the person’s risk score.”

Anomalous (an anomaly) is defined as something “deviating from a general rule; abnormal,” (Webster). Such a subjective assessment could literally be applied for anything outside of normative and fostered “Fisher-Price” conduct: Awake at 7am, breakfast at 8am, work by 9am, lunch 12-1pm, work until 5pm, drive to obtain gas/grocery store/bank, and then home, dinner at 6pm, tv 7-9pm, and go to sleep…repeat ad nauseum.

Anything outside of that basic, predictable “matrix” can be listed as an anomaly to increase your risk-score. This out of the Pentagon, mind you: the embodiment of the Military Industrial Complex warned about by Eisenhower (who ironically played a big part in its creation). It is not unpredictable: the militarization of the police departments, the sprouting of the fusion centers (with PO box addresses and not physical addresses, mind you), the “green light” from the FCC or a blind eye toward “Oath” (the company that gobbled up Yahoo, and forces you to allow it to read your e-mails and access your bank accounts), and other giants such as Google.

The Pentagon used to handle military matters, but the NDAA initiated by Bush Jr. and perfected under Obama redefines the “battlefield” as being the whole world (including the domestic, continental United States). The “War on Terrorism” was created to “justify” military actions against the citizens of the United States, hence to take measures heretofore forbidden under Constitutional law. In the interests of national security, the “protectors” have become the jailers…the police state that is being crafted by the day as the Statists concurrently work on removing all our rights as enumerated under the Constitution. The war is being conducted by the State against the citizens, the new “enemy” against the conformity of globalism and the totalitarian dictatorship that will eventually be complete in the United States.


Monday, May 21, 2018

"Alarming": Facebook Teams Up With Think-Tank Funded by Saudi Arabia and Military Contractors to "Protect" Democracy


In a new project Facebook insists is a completely objective and nonpartisan effort to root out what it deems "disinformation," the social media giant announced on Thursday that it is partnering with the Atlantic Council—a prominent Washington-based think-tank funded by Saudi Arabia, major oil companies, defense contractors, and Charles Koch—to prevent its platform from "being abused during elections."


Saturday, May 19, 2018

10 Key Takeaways From The New York Times' Error-Ridden Defense Of FBI Spying On Trump Campaign


Authored by Mollie Hemingway via,

It's reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to leakers' fears about information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.

The New York Times published an article this week confirming the United States’ intelligence apparatus was used to spy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Here are a few key takeaways.

1. FBI Officials Admit They Spied On Trump Campaign

The New York Times‘ story, headlined “Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation,” is a dry and gentle account of the FBI’s launch of extensive surveillance of affiliates of the Trump campaign. Whereas FBI officials and media enablers had previously downplayed claims that the Trump campaign had been surveiled, in this story we learn that it was more widespread than previously acknowledged:

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said…

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.

This is a stunning admission for those Americans worried that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies might use their powers to surveil, leak against, and target Americans simply for their political views or affiliations. As Sean Davis wrote, “The most amazing aspect about this article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election.”

The story says the FBI was worried that if it came out they were spying on Trump campaign it would “only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him.” It is easy to understand how learning that the FBI was spying on one’s presidential campaign might reinforce claims of election-rigging.

2. Terrified About Looming Inspector General Report

People leak for a variety of reasons, including to inoculate themselves as much as they can. For example, only when the secret funders of Fusion GPS’s Russia-Trump-collusion dossier were about to be revealed was their identity leaked to friendly reporters in the Washington Post. In October of 2017 it was finally reported that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee secretly paid for the Russia dossier, hiding the arrangement by funneling the money through a law firm.

The friendly reporters at the Washington Postwrote the story gently, full of reassuring quotes to downplay its significance. The information only came about because House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes subpoenaed the bank records of Fusion GPS, over the objections of Democrats on the committee. Even in this Times story, Clinton’s secret funding was not mentioned.

Likewise, the admissions in this New York Times story are coming out now, years after selective leaks to compliant reporters, just before an inspector general report detailing some of these actions is slated to be released this month. In fact, the Wall Street Journalreported that people mentioned in the report are beginning to get previews of what it alleges. It’s reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.

By working with friendly reporters, these leaking FBI officials can ensure the first story about their unprecedented spying on political opponents will downplay that spying and even attempt to justify it. Of note is the story’s claim that very few people even knew about the spying on the Trump campaign in 2016, which means the leakers for this story come from a relatively small pool of people.

3. Still No Evidence of Collusion With Russia

In paragraph 69 of the lengthy story, The New York Times takes itself to task for burying the lede in its October 31, 2016, story about the FBI not finding any proof of involvement with Russian election meddling.

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

It is somewhat funny, then, to read what The New York Times buries in paragraph 70 of the story:

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.

No evidence of collusion after two years of investigation with unlimited resources? You don’t say! What could that mean?

4. Four Trump Affiliates Spied On

Thanks to the work of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee, Americans already learned that the FBI had secured a wiretap on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. That wiretap, which was renewed three times, was already controversial because it was secured in part through using the secretly funded opposition research document created by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. The secret court that grants the wiretap was not told about Hillary Clinton or the DNC when the government applied for the wiretap or its renewals.

Now we learn that it wasn’t just Page, but that the government was going after four campaign affiliates including the former campaign manager, the top foreign policy advisor, and a low-level advisor whose drunken claim supposedly launched the investigation into the campaign. The bureau says Trump’s top foreign policy advisor and future national security advisor — a published critic of Russia — was surveiled because he spoke at an event in Russia sponsored by Russia Today, a government-sponsored media outlet.

5. Wiretaps, National Security Letters, and At Least One Spy

The surveillance didn’t just include wiretaps, but also national security letters and at least one government informant to spy on the campaign.:

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.

This paragraph is noteworthy for the way it describes spying on the campaign — “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos” — before suggesting that might not be spying. The definition of spying is to secretly collect information, so it’s not really in dispute whether a government informant fits the bill.

Despite two years of investigation and surveillance, none of these men have been charged with anything even approaching treasonous collusion with Russia to steal a U.S. election.

6. More Leaks About a Top-Secret Government Informant

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recently subpoenaed information from the FBI and Department of Justice. They did not publicly reveal what information they sought, but the Department of Justice responded by claiming that they were being extorted by congressional oversight. Then they leaked that they couldn’t share the information because it would jeopardize the life of a government informant. They also waged a public relations battle against HPSCI Chairman Nunes and committee staff.

But far from holding the information close to the vest, the government has repeatedly leaked information about this informant, and even that it was information about an informant that was being sought by Congress. From leaks of personally identifying information to the Washington Post, we’ve learned that this source works with the FBI and CIA, and is a U.S. citizen.

In The New York Times, additional information about a government informant leaked, including that the source met with Papadopoulos and Page to collect information. The information on an alleged source in the Trump campaign is so sensitive they can’t give it to Congress, but they can leak it to friendly press outlets like the Post and Times. It’s an odd posture for the Justice Department to take.

It is unknown at this point whether the informants were specifically sent by a U.S. agency or global partner, or whether the sources voluntarily provided information to the U.S. government.

7. Ignorance of Basic Facts

One thing that is surprising about the story is how many errors it contains. The problems begin in the second sentence, which claims Peter Strzok and another FBI agent were sent to London. The New York Times reports that “[t]heir assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling.”

Of course, it was previously reported that Strzok had a meeting with the Australian ambassador. He describes the embassy where the meeting took place as the longest continually staffed embassy in London. The ambassador was previously reported to have had some information about a Trump advisor saying he’d heard that Russia had Clinton’s emails.

Another New York Times error was the claim, repeated twice, that Page ‘had previously been recruited by Russian spies.’

It’s also inaccurate to say this was “election meddling,” necessarily. Clinton had deleted 30,000 emails that were housed on her private server even though she was being investigated for mishandling classified information. This could be viewed as destruction of evidence. She claimed the emails had to do with yoga.

FBI Director James Comey specifically downplayed for the public the bureau’s belief that foreign countries had access to these emails. There is no evidence that Russia or any other country had these emails, and they were not released during the campaign. To describe this legitimate national security threat as “election meddling” is insufficient to the very problem for which Clinton was being investigated.

The story claims, “News organizations did not publish Mr. Steele’s reports or reveal the F.B.I.’s interest in them until after Election Day.” That’s demonstrably untrue. Here’s an October 31, 2016, story headlined “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” It is sourced entirely to Steele. In September, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff took a meeting with Steele then published “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin” on September 23, 2016. That story was even used in the Foreign Intelligence Service Act application against Page.

The New York Times writes, “Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election, but if agents were eager to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign, as the president has suggested, the messages do not reveal it. ‘I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,’ Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.”

There are multiple problems with this claim. For one, Strzok wrote that text in all caps with obvious eagerness. As the Wall Street Journal noted months ago, “Mr. Strzok emphasized the seriousness with which he viewed the allegations in a message to Ms. Page on Aug. 11, just a few days before the ‘insurance’ text. ‘OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS,’ he texted.”

For another, Strzok repeatedly talked about how important and time-sensitive he felt the investigation was. As Andrew McCarthy highlighted in his deep look at some of these texts, as Strzok prepared for his morning flight to London, he compared the investigations of Clinton and Trump by writing, “And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.”

Another New York Times error was the claim, repeated twice, that Page “had previously been recruited by Russian spies.” In fact, while Russian agents had tried to recruit him, they failed to do so, and Page spoke at length with the FBI about the attempt before the agents were arrested or kicked out of the country.

The New York Times falsely reported that “Mr. Comey met with Mr. Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them.” Comey has told multiple journalists that he specifically did not brief Trump on the Steele reports. He didn’t tell Trump there were reports, or who funded them. He didn’t tell him about the claims in the reports that the campaign was compromised. He only told him that there was a rumor Trump had paid prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed that the Obamas had once slept in.

The story also repeats long-debunked claims about the Republican platform and Ukraine.

8. Insurance: How Does It Work?

The story reminds readers that Strzok once texted Page “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” The article says Trump thought this “insurance policy” referred to a plan to respond to the unlikely event of a Trump victory. It goes on:

But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump’s chances of victory were low — like dying before 40 — the stakes were too high to justify inaction.

It’s worth asking whether reporters understand how insurance works. As reader Matt noted, “The fundament intent of Insurance is ‘Indemnification.’ Restoring back to original condition prior to loss. Trump was the peril, MSM the adjuster & his impeachment, the policy limits.”

The article’s repeated claims that the FBI didn’t think Trump would win do not counter the notion that an “insurance policy” investigation was in the extremely rare case he might win. People don’t insure their property against fire damage because they expect it to happen so much as they can’t afford to fix things if it does happen.

9. Eavesdropping, Not Spying, And Other Friendly Claims

The story could not be friendlier to the FBI sources who are admitting what they did against the Trump campaign. A few examples:

“[P]rosecutors obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page,” The New York Timeswrites, making the wiretapped spying on an American citizen sound almost downright pleasant. When Comey briefs Trump only on the rumor about the prostitutes and urination, we’re told “he feared making this conversation a ‘J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,’ with the F.B.I. presenting embarrassing information to lord over a president-elect.” Reporters don’t ask, much less answer, why someone fearing a J. Edgar Hoover-type situation would go out of his way to create an extreme caricature of a J. Edgar Hoover situation.

The story also claimed, “they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department,” before using controversial political appointee Sally Yates to claim that there was nothing worrisome. In fact, the subtext of the entire story is that the FBI showed good judgment in its handling of the spying in 2016. Unfortunately, the on-the-record source used to substantiate this claim is Yates.

Yates, who was in the news for claiming with a straight face that she thought Flynn had committed a Logan Act violation, is quoted as saying, “Folks are very, very careful and serious about that [FISA] process. I don’t know of anything that gives me any concerns.” If Yates, who had to be fired for refusing to do her job under Trump, tells you things are on the up and up, apparently you can take it to the bank.

10. Affirms Fears of Politicized Intelligence

This New York Times story may have been designed to inoculate the FBI against revelations coming out of the inspector general report, but the net result was to affirm the fears of many Americans who are worried that the U.S. government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies abused their powers to surveil and target Americans simply for their political views and affiliations. The gathered information has been leaked to media for years, leading to damaged reputations, and the launch of limitless probes, but not any reason to believe that Trump colluded with Russia to steal an election.


The "Fake News" Story Is Fake News


Authored by Philip Weiss via,

Almost every day on public radio or public television, I hear reports about how fake news is undermining our democracy.

These high-minded reporters and anchors seem truly to believe that a feverish menace is overwhelming the minds of once-sensible people.

This story is itself fake news for several obvious reasons.

We’ve never had more good information than we have now; people are as well-informed as they want to be. There will always be outlets purveying lies; that is the nature of communication. And the insistence on the “fake news” issue is an effort to assign Trump’s victory not to those who brought it to us (the electorate, and the incompetence of the Clinton campaign) but on some nefarious agents.

The fact that we have more and better information today than ever almost goes without saying. When I started in the news business more than 40 years ago, few reporters carried tape recorders, largely because they worked for a guild and were never subject to correction. Today there are countless outlets, thanks to the internet, and important events are almost always recorded. The amount of data we have on public figures is vast compared to even ten years ago.

We can all argue about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; but we are today awash in information. That information is more reliable than it has ever been before. My own work on Palestine and the Israel lobby has shown me that global consumers can get more accurate information about that conflict than they’ve ever had. Yes, as we assert here all the time, the mainstream US media is in the tank for Israel; but it’s not as if better information is not available at your fingertips, much of it from Europe and Palestine, often citizen video.

Before the internet, alternative sources were much harder to obtain. You had to subscribe to journals, or go to Hotaling’s newsstand in Times Square for out-of-town papers. The best example is  sports. I had to hope the newsstand had the late edition of the Times, or that the Times carried the box score for my hometown team. Today I can find out any score and see videos of my team’s performance in an instant. And the destruction of the guilds by the internet has brought us sharp commentators who would never had access to the media traditionally (like this tweeter I turn to every morning to get the score).

“Do you trust everything you read on social media?” an ad for WNYC radio asks. They used to say the same thing about newspapers when I was a kid! The idea that information used to be a clean pool before all the clever internet liars arrived is a delusion on the part of entitled reporters of the fake news storyline. Storytelling is a primordial human experience. It is rooted in the need for knowledge to enhance our survival. We tell stories in an effort to make our lives better, more fulfilling, more understandable. And from the beginning of the story, there were lies. Some say that human beings have tongues in their mouths to deceive others, while some fiction writers will tell you that artifice is the soul of story. We all learn to sort out sincere and truthful from exaggerated and bogus. No, we don’t always succeed as readers and listeners at that job, but we try. Just as reporters seek to convey accurate versions of events despite their limitations; and artificers seek to construct more perfect tales to relate social and psychological quandaries.

There are surely hundreds of thousands of news sites today (millions?) where there used to be thousands of news outlets. The great preponderance of these sites do as we do here, try and present the most genuine version of events they are able to. As Ezra Pound once said, there is only one standard for writing: accuracy of statement. It’s not rocket science, but it is a struggle.

Are there sites that try to hoodwink readers? Of course. There have always been sensational papers, yellow journalism, scandal sheets, rumors, disinformation, boys crying wolf, and unreliable sources. Readers have always had a duty to sort this out. How many of us feel that we can size up the accuracy of an unknown site in a few seconds, from one sign or another? Readers are way more sophisticated than the fake-news reporters believe them to be. More than that, we know that some of the biggest lies originate from authorities. Which gives rise to conspiracy stories, going back to Shakespeare…

The claim that liars and fake-news sites handed the election to Donald Trump is fiction. A democracy gives the franchise to a lot of stupid people, on all sides. People believe what they want to believe. No doubt the internet has served to socialize information, tailoring it to tribal audiences (I seek out that baseball tweeter because we are likeminded, still our team can’t win), but it’s not as if information was objective before. The belief that people were manipulated into voting for Trump may be comforting to those who love the neoliberal elitism and interventionism of the post-9/11 world, but it doesn’t answer the complex reality that is American society.

The smartest reporting on the 2016 election was the study showing that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all had high casualty rates from America’s wars; and that these voters regarded Clinton as pro-war. And Clinton failed to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, even as her surrogates advocated for regime change in Syria on the cables. Those factors would seem to be as determinative as anything else that the big papers have told us about the debacle November 8. It would be a lot better if they would actually interview Trump voters, rather than lecturing us about fake news.

The claim that the Russians are behind fake news and they threw the election is just more fiction from a Democratic Party determined to have a new cold war in order to excuse itself from its failures to reach the white Obama voters who voted for Trump. Do people really think that the ads Russians placed on Facebook, or the data that Trump allies had access to through Cambridge Analytica, swayed people to vote for Trump? Is that how you made up your mind? Maybe a few fools changed their vote because of lies; but again that does not go to the real dynamics of the 2016 race. People disliked Clinton for good reasons. People sought a disrupter for good reasons.

If Russians were behind the Wikileaks hack of the Democratic National Committee emails, maybe we should be thanking them. The hack exposed real corruption: on my issue, the Clinton team’s active efforts to sell Clinton’s stance on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to big pro-Israel donors as a way to salve them for her support for the Iran deal. No one has disputed the accuracy of these emails, and they are a disturbing window on how politics works. It would be nice if the media would spend a little time on the substance of those emails. But no, the fake news story has a life of its own.

P.S. Judy Woodruff’s picture is atop this post because she and the PBS News Hour have taken the fake news story way too seriously. In fairness, I urge readers to watch her interview of two Boko Haram survivors, some of the best journalism you will ever see. 


All 34 Bishops In Chile Suddenly Resign Over "Absolutely Deplorable" Pedophile Priest Scandal


All 34 bishops in Chile have tendered their resignations in the wake of yet another pedophile priest scandal in which high level officials covered up the institutionalized sexual abuse of minors - even threatening officials tasked with investigating sex crimes and the destruction of evidence.

Thirty-one active bishops and three who are signed a document with their offers to resign following an emergency meeting this week with Pope Francis. Francis can accept the resignations one by one, reject them outright or delay a decision. 

Calls had mounted for the resignations after details emerged of the contents of a 2,300-page Vatican report into the Chilean scandal leaked early Friday

Francis had accused the bishops of destroying evidence of sex crimes, pressuring investigators to minimize abuse accusations and showing 'grave negligence' in protecting children from paedophile priests.

In one of the most damning documents from the Vatican on the issue, Francis said the entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible for 'grave defects' in handling cases and the resulting loss of credibility that the Catholic Church has suffered. -Daily Mail

"No one can exempt himself and place the problem on the shoulders of the others," Francis wrote in the document published by Chile's T13 television and confirmed as accurate Friday by the Vatican.

Responding to the 2,300-page report, Chilean bishops called the contents of the document "absolutely deplorable," and showed an "unacceptable abuse of power and conscience," along with sexual abuse. 

The bishops asked for forgiveness from the victims, the Pope and all Catholics worldwide. 

Pope Francis summoned the entire bishops conference to Rome after he said he made "grave errors in judgement" in the case of Chilean priest Juan Barros - who stands accused of victims of pedophile Rev. Fernando Karadima of witnessing and ignoring their abuse. 

But the scandal grew beyond the Barros case after Francis received the report written by two Vatican sex crimes experts sent to Chile to get a handle on the scope of the problem. 

Their report hasn't been made public, but Francis cited its core findings in the footnotes of the document that he handed over to the bishops at the start of their summit this week.

And those findings are damning. -Daily Mail

While some of the pedophile priests and brothers were expelled from their congregations following the discovery of "immoral conduct," many had their cases "minimized of the absolute gravity of their criminal acts, attributing them to mere weakness or moral lapses," wrote Francis. 

Those same offenders "were then welcomed into other dioceses, in an obviously imprudent way, and given dicoesan or parish jobs that gave them daily contact with minors," wrote the pope.

The harsh assessment of the quality of seminaries suggests that a possible next step might be a full-on Vatican investigation of Chilean schools of priestly training. 

Pope Benedict XVI ordered such an investigation into Irish seminaries after he convened the entire Irish bishops' conference for a similar dressing-down in 2010 over their dismal handling of abuse cases. -Daily Mail

"The problems inside the church community can't be solved just by dealing with individual cases and reducing them to the removal of people, though this - and I say so clearly - has to be done," Francis wrote. 

"But it's not enough, we have to go beyond that. It would be irresponsible on our part to not look deeply into the roots and the structures that allowed these concrete events to occur and perpetuate." 

Francis Knew

For all of the "holier-than-thou" admonishments in his letter, Pope Francis is not without blame. The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Francis drew scorn over his appointment of Barros bishop of Osnoro, Chile, in 2015. 

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Francis did so over the objections of other Chilean bishops who knew Barros' past was problematic and had recommended he and other Karadima-trained bishops resign and take a sabbatical.

The AP subsequently reported that Francis had received a letter in 2015 from one of Karadima's most vocal accusers, Juan Carlos Cruz, detailing Barros' misdeeds. That letter undercut Francis' claim to have never heard from victims about Barros.

Francis further enraged Chileans and drew sharp rebuke from his top abuse adviser when, during a January trip to Chile, he said the accusations against Barros were 'calumny' and said he was 'certain' he was innocent.

Not so certain now, are we Pope? 


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Boston Dynamics Unveils "Terrifying" Robot That Can Run, Jump And Climb


The robot uprising is right on schedule as evidenced by Boston Dynamics' latest "nightmare inducing" videos of their autonomous creations. In one, their humanoid robot Atlas can be seen running through a field as if in hot pursuit of John Connor, while another video shows "spot mini" prancing around - going up and down stairs, ominously. 

"During the autonomous run, SpotMini uses data from the cameras to localize itself in the map and to detect and avoid obstacles," reads the video description.

"Once the operator presses 'GO' at the beginning of the video, the robot is on its own."

This can't be good...

And after suffering years of abuse at the hands of Boston Dynamics engineers, one wonders exactly what sentient future robots will think when they see this: 

Anyway Boston dynamics is terrifying and we’re all gonna die

— Sally Kuchar📚📬☕️👩🏻‍💻💋 (@sallykuchar) May 11, 2018

This is nothing. In a few years, that bot will move so fast you’ll need a strobe light to see it. Sweet dreams…

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 26, 2017

Even Boston Dynamics founder, Marc Raibert, admitted that the robots are creepy in a February 2017 demonstration of a wheeled robot, saying "This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot if you're anything like me."

The company was sold by Google to Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank for an undisclosed sum last year, and has not revealed its plans. Needless to say, Japan is now making robots that may or may not be able to be equipped with shoulder-mounted lasers and miniguns, and are most definitely kamikaze.

Dear Boston Dynamics - do you want the Matrix? Because this is how you get the Matrix. 


Mapping Erik Prince's Private Mercenary Empire


Authored by Ty Joplin via,

  • Erik Prince is the modern architect of private military firms

  • His latest venture is in training security personnel in China

  • But he's been all over the world, outsourcing militaries to cheap labor markets

  • Al Bawaba has provided a partial map to track Erik Prince's activities over the years

Erik Prince, the brain behind the infamous private military firm Blackwater, is now in China training security forces.

Prince is partially responsible for modernizing the private army for the post 9/11 world, outsourcing militaries to cheap, specialized labor pools and skirting traditional regulations meant to ensure accountability for armed forces.

His journey from hiring mercenaries to help bolster the U.S. occupation in Iraq to China is long, dizzying and includes stops around the world to train Colombian mercenaries to help make a private army for the U.A.E. and outfitting crop duster planes with missiles to be fired at Armenians.

He has become a global figure, roaming between conflicts zones to sell various governments his expertise on private armies.

To document his journey thus far, Al Bawaba has compiled a partial list of countries/regions in or for which he has done business.


United States

Prince’s trip around the world starts in the United States.

Born in an affluent Michigan family, his family maintained deep ties to the Republican establishment and several conservative, religious organizations like American Values. His sister, Betsy DeVos, married into one of the most influence political families in the Midwest, the DeVos’s, and began helping to run the Republican party machine in Michigan.

That marriage, which tied the Prince and DeVos family together, has given Erik unprecedented political access into the federal government. His list of close allies including Steve Bannon, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist. His sister gives him a direct line of access to Trump himself.

Erik became a Navy SEAL and then established his own private military firm in 1997, Blackwater.

Once the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Blackwater received billions in contracts from the U.S. government to help supplement the official mission with private boots on the ground, relatively free from accountability or laws from any particular government.


Damaged and bloodied car in Nissour Square, Iraq, 2007 after the Blackwater massacre (AFP/FILE)

Blackwater’s activities in Iraq are infamous and account for Prince’s self-imposed exile from the United States.

Apart from harassing Iraqi civilians and running them off of roads with their armored personnel carriers, they also indiscriminately gunned down 14 innocent people in Baghdad in 2007, drawing an investigation and heavy criticism from media outlets around the world.

The incident stands as a cautionary tale for when mercenary groups such as Blackwater are able to operate without sufficient legal or logistical oversight. Facing a wave of scrutiny, Prince left Blackwater and the firm changed its name twice (to Xe and then Academi) to escape the heat.

Many thought they had seen the end of Erik Prince, but he resurfaced later at the helm of a different private military company.


A satellite image of the camp in the U.A.E.  built to train Prince’s 800-member mercenary battalion (Google Earth/New York Times)

In 2011, Erik Prince was appointed by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to make a secret, private army. For this, he was paid $529 million.

In documents obtained by the New York Times, the mission of this privately commissioned battalion included “intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations ‘to destroy enemy personnel and equipment,’ and crown-control.

Prince hired Colombians and nationals of other countries thousands of miles away to fill his ranks from two reasons. First, Prince was looking to pay them as little as possible. Second, they weren’t Muslims. Prince surmised that Muslims could not be trusted to kill other Muslims.

A few years later in 2015, Saudi Arabia began its military intervention in Yemen and recruited a host of other Arab nations to join its coalition. Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, business partner to Erik Prince, Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, signed up for the cause in order to destroy any creeping Iranian influence in the war-torn nation.


Erik Prince and his U.A.E. private military firm helped recruit and train over 1,000 soldiers from Latin American countries. Then, their bodies started appearing on battlefields in Yemen.

A single missile reportedly killed 45 mercenaries from the U.A.E.

Prince’s initial battalion of 800 soldiers had blossomed into almost 2,000 specialized troops hired mostly from Latin America to do the U.A.E.’s business.

Although officials say Erik Prince’s formal business role with the U.A.E. had ended several years before the intervention into Yemen, his corporate blueprint to partially outsource the U.A.E.’s military is doubtlessly still in use.

The U.A.E. keeping and even expanding Prince's blueprint for a private, outsourced army demonstrates just how influencial he and his mercenary business model has become.


A militarily-modified crop duster, called the T-Bird (LASA Engineering)

After his stint in the U.A.E., Prince began doing more business with Chinese executives at the Frontier Services Group (FSG), which he heads.

On this new enterprise, Prince said it “is not a patriotic endeavor,” rather, it is intended “to build a great business and make some money doing it.”

Interestingly enough, Prince’s business with FSG took him to Azerbaijan, where he was paid by the government to help it deal with its Armenian problem. Armenians are concentrated into Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region, which seceded from Azerbaijan and formed a semi-recognized, de facto state.

Azerbaijan called on Erik Prince and FSG to help it keep watch on the Nagorno-Karabakh region, also called the Republic of Artsakh. In response. Prince wanted to show the government two crop duster planes meant for agricultural use but refitted for military purposes. The planes were meant to be outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance technology and were supposedly able to fire missiles.

They never made it to Azerbaijan after an investigation shut the sale down.

This is because the deal may have broken several laws. The Washington Post found that “executives were concerned that the company might be skirting U.S. law — known as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) — requiring Americans to obtain special permits before defense-related technology can be transferred to foreign countries.”

In response to this controversial arms trade, all but two Americans on the FSG executive board quit due to concerns that he was not serving U.S. interests. This has freed Prince to deal more closely with the Chinese.

Eastern Africa

FSG’s ‘focus region’ (Frontier Services Group)

FSG’s public focus is on providing security and logistical help to eastern African countries such as South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and the DRC.

“When you want logistics done in Africa, you call DHL,” said Sean McFate, a former military contractor in Africa and current expert on mercenaries at the Atlantic Council. “When you want muscle, you call Erik Prince.”

One of FSG’s ventures appears to help oust the extremist militant group, Al Shabaab, from southwest Somalia—an area it has largely controlled for years. “We have brought together strong international business leaders to team-up with talented Somali entrepreneurs to make development in South West Somalia a reality,” an FSG statement reads.

“The project will include an integrated solution of air-land-sea logistics capabilities and advanced security management.”


FSG’s headquarters is in Hong Kong, and though it publicly states that its focus is on eastern Africa, FSG is now reported to be doing domestic work on behalf of the Chinese government.

FSG is partially owned by CITIC, a Chinese-government own investment firm. CITIC is slowly taking more and more control of FSG and is reportedly already the dominant shareholder, meaning it has greater power than Prince to determine the company’s vision and business deals.

“The Chinese are gradually taking more control” of the company. CITIC is now playing a larger role as Frontier’s dominant shareholder, said Xin who heads the International Security Defense College that trains security personnel and is overseen by FSG.

“Prince’s share is decreasing. The Chinese are in charge, so it won’t matter.”

One of FSG’s most recent missions has been to train thousands of security personnel in China’s northwest Xinjiang province, where millions of ethnically Turkic Muslims called Uyghurs live.

Uyghurs are routinely targeted by the state due to continuous attempts by some to break away from China and form an independent state.

Thousands of Uyghurs are part of an extremist group called the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), whose leaders are hiding in Pakistan and whose members have a heavy presence in Syria fighting against the Syrian regime.

Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of “deploying a predictive policing program,” using massive surveillance technology and a web of high-tech surveillance cameras and compulsory data collection.

They’ve also reportedly sent thousands of Uyghurs to Chinese ‘re-education’ camps.

The Mercenary Prince

Erik Prince (AFP/FILE)

This list only details a few of Erik Prince’s ventures, and does not include an attempt by Prince to send thousands of mercenaries into Afghanistan and reform the political structure of the entire country to essentially be a colony for the United States.

However, Prince has transformed battlefields everywhere and fundamentally altered the way governments construct security apparatuses.

Iran is heavily reliant on outsourced Afghani mercenaries to be cannon fodder in the war in Syria. Russia is supplementing its own intervention into Syria with mercenaries hired by the state-backed Wagner Group who also sends troops to Ukraine. To beat back the nascent extremist group Boko Haram, Nigeria hired private, Apartheid-era security forces from South Africa to do the job.

Thanks to Erik Prince, outsourcing military and intelligence labor is now the norm. 

Currently Prince appears to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, thanks to meetings he had arranged with a close aide to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Kirill Dmitriev in the Seychelles Islands, a place its own government explains is “the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the media.” The meeting was allegedley to set up a backchannel between Trump and Russia in order to facilitate clandestine communications.

McFate told Al Bawaba that Prince’s use of mercenaries allows countries to enter into and escalate conflicts without having to report it to their citizens; his tactic gives governments “plausible deniability” to anything that the mercenaries do.

According to Dr. P.J. Brendese, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and expert on democratic accountability, private military firms “have greater independence to exercise their own prerogatives and 'we the people' don't get a say. That's the most dangerous thing, because they're profiting--their motivation is not God and country; their motive is money."


Friday, May 4, 2018

Aluminum in brain directly linked to autism | NaturalHealth365

Aluminum in brain directly linked to autism | NaturalHealth365:

'via Blog this'

Study Shows Where ‘Almost’ 100 Percent of Aluminum From Vaccines Could Go Inside A Baby’s Body – Collective Evolution

Study Shows Where ‘Almost’ 100 Percent of Aluminum From Vaccines Could Go Inside A Baby’s Body – Collective Evolution:

'via Blog this'

How $21 trillion in U.S. tax money disappeared - Nexus Newsfeed

How $21 trillion in U.S. tax money disappeared - Nexus Newsfeed:

'via Blog this'

Cancer-linked weedkiller found in every food tested except broccoli - Nexus Newsfeed

Cancer-linked weedkiller found in every food tested except broccoli - Nexus Newsfeed:

'via Blog this'

Judge says CIA emails to journalists don't have to be released to public | McClatchy Washington Bureau

Judge says CIA emails to journalists don't have to be released to public | McClatchy Washington Bureau:

'via Blog this'

As US Congresswoman Calls For Kanye West To Get Back To The Plantation, Vile Left Calls For ‘Crips’ To F**k Him Up’



by Susan Duclos, All News Pipeline: Let me begin by making a couple of things clear at the outset. I am not a fan of Rap music, therefore I never paid much attention to Rap stars or celebrities. I am more a classic Rock fan, so sue me! Secondly, just because Kanye West is awakening […]

The post As US Congresswoman Calls For Kanye West To Get Back To The Plantation, Vile Left Calls For ‘Crips’ To F**k Him Up’ appeared first on SGT Report.


Atlantic Council Explains Why We Need To Be Propagandized For Our Own Good


I sometimes try to get establishment loyalists to explain to me exactly why we’re all meant to be terrified of this “Russian propaganda” thing they keep carrying on about. What is the threat, specifically? That it makes the public less willing to go to war with Russia and its allies? That it makes us less trusting of lying, torturing, coup-staging intelligence agencies? Does accidentally catching a glimpse of that green RT logo turn you to stone like Medusa, or melt your face like in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

“Well, it makes us lose trust in our institutions,” is the most common reply.

Okay. So? Where’s the threat there? We know for a fact that we’ve been lied to by those institutions. Iraq isn’t just something we imagined. We should be skeptical of claims made by western governments, intelligence agencies and mass media. How specifically is that skepticism dangerous?

The establishment is weaponizing hysteria over "Russiagate" and "fake news" to attack Black Lives Matter activists, anti-war voices, water protectors & other real progressives... & justifying it with the Orwellian lie they're "fighting propaganda". #WorldPressFreedomDay

 — @DrJillStein

Trying to get answers to such questions from rank-and-file empire loyalists is like pulling teeth, and they are equally lacking in the mass media who are constantly sounding the alarm about Russian propaganda. All I see are stories about Russia funding environmentalists (the horror!), giving a voice to civil rights activists (oh noes!), and retweeting articles supportive of Jeremy Corbyn (think of the children!). At its very most dramatic, this horrifying, dangerous epidemic of Russian propaganda is telling westerners to be skeptical of what they’re being told about the Skripal poisoning and the alleged Douma gas attack, both of which do happen to have some very significant causes for skepticism.

When you try to get down to the brass tacks of the actual argument being made and demand specific details about the specific threats we’re meant to be worried about, there aren’t any to be found. Nobody’s been able to tell me what specifically is so dangerous about westerners being exposed to the Russian side of international debates, or of Russians giving a platform to one or both sides of an American domestic debate. Even if every single one of the allegations about Russian bots and disinformation are true (and they aren’t), where is the actual clear and present danger? No one can say.

No one, that is, except the Atlantic Council.

We Need a NATO for Infowar | Commentary by @elisabethbraw of @AtlanticCouncil

 — @DefenseOne

In an absolutely jaw-dropping article that you should definitely read in its entirety, Elizabeth Braw took it upon herself to finally answer the question of why Russian propaganda is so dangerous, using the following hypothetical scenario:

What if Russia suddenly announced that its Baltic Fleet had dispatched an armada towards Britain? Would most people greet the news with steely resolve in the knowledge that their governments would know what to do, or would constant Kremlin-influenced reports about the incompetence of British institutions make them conclude that any resistance was pointless?

I mean, wow. Wow! Just wow. Where to even begin with this?

Before I continue, I should note that Braw is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, the shady NATO-aligned think tank with ties to powerful oligarchs whose name comes up when you look into many of the mainstream anti-Russia narratives, from the DNC hack to the discredited war propaganda firm Bellingcat to Russian trolls to the notorious PropOrNot blacklist publicized by the Washington Post.Her article, published by Defense One, is titled “We Need a NATO for Infowar”, and it argues that westerners need to be propagandized by an alliance of western governments for our own good.

Back to the aforementioned excerpt. Braw claims that if Russian propaganda isn’t shut down or counteracted, Russia could send a fleet of war ships to attack Britain, and the British people would… react unenthusiastically? Wouldn’t cheer loudly enough as the British Navy fought the Russians? Would have a defeatist emotional demeanor? What exactly is the argument here?

That’s seriously her only attempt to directly address the question of where the actual danger is. Even in the most cartoonishly dramatic hypothetical scenario this Atlantic Council member can possibly imagine, there’s still no tangible threat of any kind. Even if Russia was directly attacking the United Kingdom at home, and Russian propaganda had somehow magically dominated all British airwaves and been believed by the entire country, that still wouldn’t have any impact on the British military’s ability to fight a naval battle. There’s literally no extent to which you can inflate this “Russian propaganda” hysteria to turn it into a possible threat to actual people in real life.

A NATO for infowar? As if the entire Western mainstream media doesn't already provide that function.

 — @MaxBlumenthal

It gets better. Check out this excerpt:

Such responses to disinformation are like swatting flies: time-consuming and ineffective. But not addressing disinformation is ineffective, too. “Western media still have this thing where they try to be completely balanced, so they’ll say, ‘the Russians say this, but on the other hand the Americans say this is not true,’ They end up giving a lie and the truth the same value,” noted Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia.

I just have so many questions. Like, how desperate does a writer have to be for an expert who can lend credibility to their argument that they have to reach all the way over to a former president of Estonia? And on what planet are these people living where Russian narratives are given the same weight as western narratives by western mainstream media? How can I get to this fantastical parallel dimension where western media “try to be completely balanced” and give equal coverage to all perspectives?

Braw argues that, because Russian propaganda is so dangerous (what with the threat of British people having insufficient emotional exuberance during a possible naval battle and all), what is required is a “NATO of infowar”, an alliance of western state media that is tasked with combatting Russian counter-narratives. Because, in the strange Dungeons & Dragons fantasy fairy world in which Braw penned her article, this isn’t already happening.

And of course, here in the real world, it is already happening. As I wrote recently, mainstream media outlets have been going out of their minds churning out attack editorials on anyone who questions the establishment narrative about what happened in Douma. A BBC reporter recently admonished a retired British naval officer for voicing skepticism of what we’re being told about Syria on the grounds that it might “muddy the waters” of the “information war” that is being fought against Russia. All day, every day, western mass media are pummeling the public with stories about how awful and scary Russians are and how everything they say is a lie.

This is because western mass media outlets are owned by western plutocrats, and those plutocrats have built their empires upon a status quo that they have a vested interest in preserving, often to the point where they will form alliances with defense and intelligence agencies to do so. They hire executives and editors who subscribe to a pro-establishment worldview, who in turn hire journalists who subscribe to a pro-establishment worldview, and in that way they ensure that all plutocrat-owned media outlets are advancing pro-plutocrat agendas.

@SecPompeo: On #WorldPressFreedomDay, we renew our commitment to promoting & protecting a free press -- an essential pillar of democracy, & we honor journalists who have dedicated their lives to promote transparency & accountability throughout the world.

 — @StateDept

The western empire is ruled by a loose transnational alliance of plutocrats and secretive government agencies. That loose alliance is your real government, and that government has the largest state media network in the history of civilization. The mass media propaganda machine of the western empire makes RT look like your grandmother’s Facebook wall.

In that way, we are being propagandized constantly by the people who really rule us. All this panic about Russian propaganda doesn’t exist because our dear leaders have a problem with propaganda, it exists because they believe only they should be allowed to propagandize us.

And, unlike Russian propaganda, western establishment propaganda actually does pose a direct threat to us. By using mass media to manipulate the ways we think and vote, our true rulers can persuade us to consent to crushing austerity measures and political impotence while the oligarchs grow richer and medicine money is spent on bombs. When we should all be revolting against an oppressive Orwellian oligarchy, we are instead lulled to sleep by those same oligarchs and their hired talking heads lying to us about freedom and democracy.

Russian propaganda is dangerous because when your government decides it's time to go to war with Russia, you might not want them to.

 — @caitoz

Russian propaganda is not dangerous. Having access to other ways of looking at global geopolitics is not dangerous. What absolutely is dangerous is a vast empire concerning itself with the information and ideas that its citizenry have access to. Get your rapey, manipulative fingers out of our minds, please.

If our dear leaders are so worried about our losing faith in our institutions, they shouldn’t be concerning themselves with manipulating us into trusting them, they should be making those institutions more trustworthy.

Don’t manipulate better, be better. The fact that an influential think tank is now openly advocating the former over the latter should concern us all.


Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing my daily articles is to get on the mailing list for my website, so you’ll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, or buying my new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Salisbury-gate smoking gun found? Initial reports said Skripals poisoned with Fentanyl



: The entire UK press is refusing to tell the British public of revelations about the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury which - if revealed - would surely lead to the sacking of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and could even bring down the entire Theresa May regime. The UK's press has gone strangely quiet on the Skripal case. After the huge uproar over the Salisbury poisoning incident and the miraculous recovery of all the victims of "Putin's deadly nerve agent Novichok", there is only silence. But remarkable revelations in the small print of a local newspaper and the website of a specialist health journal tell us why. First, consider for a moment what is missing: Where are the further statements from Julia Skripal? Where is she and why have there been no further briefings about the health? Has she visited her father in hospital? If yes, why has this not been reported? If, no, why not? What has happened to the daily updates on Sergei Skripal? The last reports suggested that he would shortly be able to leave hospital, so has he done so? If not, how is he? How did he take the news that the British state killed all his pets and incinerated the evidence that they were no contaminated with Novichok?


Economic Old Age, Part 2: Mickey D’s Awesome Goose Egg


The casino opened a bit jiggy yesterday (it didn’t last) on month-end window dressing and the alleged “blow-out” earnings of another Dow component. This time it was McDonald’s, which posted a sizzling “adjusted” earnings gain of 22%.

Except there was absolutely nothing to all the ballyhoo. Sales actually decreased by 9% versus the year ago quarter, and save for the dollar’s swoon last year (now reversing rapidly) sales would have been down by 15%.

Never mind say the sell-side numbers wizards. The revenue plunge was due to “strategic repositioning” by the company—-meaning it has sold off company stores to franchisees, thereby shrinking its top line.

Fine. Management claims that was all done to improve operating performance.

But it didn’t.

Operating income was up just 5.0% on a reported basis, but was flat when adjusted for the dollar’s swoon. And pre-tax income was up 4% on a reported basis, but down 1% in constant currencies.

So how did negative pre-tax income growth in constant currencies morph into a 22% adjusted gain per share?

Well, it happened in essentially the same manner which brought about the whole brouhaha about booming Q1 earnings.

To wit, last year McDonald’s tax rate was 32.8% versus 24.4% this year (after the $0.07 carryover adjustment from Q4); its share count last year was also 3.3% higher (825.2 million shares versus 798.7 million) and the dollar was 5.5% stronger. Accordingly, its reported earnings were just $1.47 per share last year.

On a constant currency, constant tax rate, constant share basis, however, McDonald’s earned $1.79 per share this year and $1.80 last year!

In short, Mickey D’s is the poster boy for the Q1 head fake that is being perpetrated by the sell-side crooks and their handmaidens in the financial press. Nearly all the ballyhooed gain is due to currency, share counts and tax rates.

Needless to say, you can’t capitalize those types of gains because they are non-recurring and non-sustainable.

Nevertheless, the questions recurs. When the casino hyper-ventilates about a 22% headline gain which arises from the zero growth economics evident in even the company’s own 2-page press release, you are dealing with some heavy duty mendacity.

Indeed, the Wall Street narrative has been so completely dumbed-down to grotesquely manipulated (“adjusted”), short-term headline deltas that anything which once resembled fundamental analysis was lost long ago.

And the street’s affinity for Keynesian beer goggles has only compounded the financial myopia. That is, it sees close up items (last quarter) in sharp focus, but most time-distant matters (1-10 year back) end up in a complete blur.

No matter. The casino’s day traders and robo-machines are programed by the utterly flawed and unwarranted Keynesian assumption that economies and business profits never stop growing as long as the central bank is “accommodative”. So they really don’t care what the 10-year trend has been because the Fed will keep the party going indefinitely, or succumb to a Wall Street hissy fit if it actually tries to remove the punch bowl.

Needless to say, there could not be a more specious assumption at the present moment. That’s because the current expansion is now in month #106.

That makes it technically the seconded longest cycle ever, having now passed LBJ’s “guns and butter” boom of the 1960s (105 months)—even as it presses hard upon the 119 month record of the 1990s.

But here’s the thing. The current cycle’s stellar old age has been achieved on the back of the weakest business recovery in history; and in the context of an economy that has been starved for productive investment while being freighted down with staggering amounts of public and private debt.

Stated differently, it is always foolish to pay nose-bleed PE multiples at the top of a business cycle because by definition such peak earnings levels are not sustainable and can’t be capitalized as if they are.

For instance, peak S&P 500 earnings of $85 per share for the June 2007 LTM period were capitalized at just 17.6X at the time. Yet that wasn’t cheap or the time to buy the proverbial dip: Within two years, earnings had withered t0 just $7 share, and the stock index had plunged by 55%.

But at 106 months of age, the current cycle is virtually on a respirator. That’s because sustained growth takes investment in productive assets, but there hasn’t been any—as in nichts, nada, nugatory and none.

Accordingly, the US body economic is exceedingly fragile, and not about to grow by the leaps and bounds implicit in current two-year earnings growth rate projections of 54% ($169 per share estimated for 2019 versus $110 per share actual for 2017) .

To wit, real net fixed business (i.e. nonresidential) was $492.4 billion as per the Commerce Department’s freshly minted numbers for Q1 2018. And that means ten years have produced a big fat rounding error: The figure was $492.1 billion way back in Q4 2007!

Needless to say, this isn’t what Steve Liesman tells you on bubble-vision or what the Fed occasionally mentions in its post-meeting economic weather reports.

That’s because in good Keynesian fashion they focus on real gross business investment, which has expanded from $2.0 trillion at the 2007 peak to $2.4 trillion in Q1 2018. Even then, the implied growth rate of 1.9% per annum is nothing to write home about.

Still, that tepid investment growth rate gets whitewashed by the mainstream narrative with the claim that the deep valley in real gross investment during the Great Recession represented some kind of 100-year flood occurrence, and that we are still pulling out of the rut.

Then again, real gross business investment way back at the turn of the century in Q1 2000 posted at $1.6 trillion. This means that during the entirety of this century to date—over two Keynesian booms and one bust—-the trend growth rate has been only 2.3% per annum.

And that get’s us to the skunk in the woodpile. During the same 18 year period, real capital consumption by the business sector rose from $1.09 trillion to $1.91 trillion or by 3.2% per annum.

Stated differently, over the course of the last two business cycles, the  growth rate of real capital consumption was far higher than that of real gross investment. The US economy was essentially eating is seed corn.

In fact, real net business investment back in Q1 2000 was $508 billion at an annual rate or about 3.3% higher than the $492 billion rate posted for the quarter just ended (Q1 2018).

Moreover, if you look at the three elements that comprise business investment, the story is pretty much the same.

Real net investment in structures printed at $129 billion in Q1 2018, but that represented a negative 2.5% annual growth since Q1 2000 when the number clocked in at $203 billion (all figures in 2009$).

Likewise, real net investment in intellectual property was essentially flat at $104 billion over the period; and real net investment in equipment of $261 billion during the period just ended reflected a growth rate of just 0.95% per annum—and that goes all the way back to the approximate time that Bill Clinton explained to the world what the meaning of “is’ is.

It goes without saying that zero growth in real net investment for 18 years running is something new under the sun, and not in a good way; and not in a way which is remotely compatible with Wall Street’s current 54% earnings growth hockey stick over the next two years.

Indeed, the weakness of the US economy at the 106 month stage of the current cycle could not be more dramatically underscored than by way of comparison with what happened during the 1990s record expansion (119 months).

During that 10-year period, real nest business investment grew from $169 billion (1990) to $526 billion (2000) or by 12.0% per annum.

Even then, the 1990s business cycle did expire in March 2001. Thereupon followed a modest recession over the next several quarters— until Greenspan threw open the monetary spigots and ignited the housing and credit bubble that ended in tears in September 2008.

And that dials us into the other skunk in the woodpile this time around. Namely, record levels of total public and private debt and a national leverage ratio that remains in the nosebleed section of history.

And that, too, contrasts dramatically with the earlier long-lived cycles. Thus, back during the 105 month expansion of the 1960s, the initial debt level during Q3 1960 was $777 billion, which represented 1.42X GDP. When the expansion finally ended in Q4 1969, the total public and private debt level had risen to $1.04 trillion, but was still just 1.48X GDP.

In a word, the debt burden was low and in keeping with the 100-year trend at about 1.5X national income; and the implicit leverage ratio had not increased measurably.

Likewise, during the 1990s boom, the initial debt levels was $13.8 trillion, which represented 2.3X GDP; and the ending level in December 2000 was $29.0 trillion and represented 2.8X GDP.

So the leverage ratio grew materially during the so-called Greenspan tech boom of the 1990s, but it was at least accompanied by a robust rate of net investment growth, which as shown above tripled over the 10-year period.

By contrast, the starting debt in December 2007 was $52.6 trillion. That represented 3.58X GDP and was evidence of the national LBO which occurred after the inauguration of Bubble Finance in October 1987.

Needless to say, the last eight years of  so-called recovery have produced virtually no deleveraging, with total public and private debt now at $68.6 trillion or still 3.47X GDP.

In short, the second longest expansion in recorded US history has been accompanied by zero real net investment growth and a $16 trillion increase in nominal debt.

At the same time, as we showed in Part 1, industrial production has also flat-lined as have real median household incomes. In fact, between 1999 and 2016, real median incomes grew by the grand sum of $22 per year.



In other words, the main street economy has essentially gone nowhere during the last decade and one-half and is heading for even weaker results ahead— given the current staggering debt burden and the deep deficiency of real net investment.

Only if you credit Mickey D’s with earnings growth of 22% during the recent quarter could you possibly conclude that now is the time to buy the dip.

In fact, what is actually heading for a dip is the current aging, frail business cycle. And this time the Fed will not be at the ready with firehouse and ladder.

Indeed, the Eccles Building is now hell-bent on administering the bleeding cure of QT; and that’s not the way the other two long expansions ended, either.