Saturday, September 8, 2018

NYT Flashback: "If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama"


Former President Obama has come under fire for what many have viewed as a hypocritical condemnation of President Trump during a Friday acceptance speech for his Ethics in Government award at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

In particular, critics are slamming Obama for his comments regarding Trump's criticism of the press - while casually minimizing his own actions against journalists and whistleblowers: 

It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down or call them enemies of the people. -Barack Obama

Except Obama did much, much more than that...

In addition to prosecuting more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, the Obama administration targeted then-Fox News journalist James Rosen as a "criminal co-conspirator" for protecting his sources in a DOJ leak investigation. 

And while Obama's defenders have attempted to downplay his actions, the overwhelming consensus appears to be that the former President is a massive hypocrite. 

“I complained plenty about Fox News, but I never threatened to shut them down.”

It’s probably a good time to remind you that Obama used the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers who leaked to journalists more than all previous presidents combined.

— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 7, 2018

Worth noting, though, that the Obama Justice Department secretly designated a Fox News journalist, James Rosen, as a criminal co-conspirator.

— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) September 7, 2018

The Obama-era “leak practices” were actual criminal prosecutions, while the “systemic attacks” people complain about now generally amount to mean presidential comments and tweets. Which, ultimately, is more consequential?

— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) September 8, 2018

The reason it's being discussed is because Obama - just yesterday - pranced around like some sort of champion of press freedom when, in fact, he created an unprecedented infrastructure to attack press freedom. Obama's play-acting made it relevant:

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 8, 2018

To that end, Greenwald links to a scathing 2016 Op-Ed from James Risen in the New York Times - long before Trump's feud with the mainstream media (or "opposition party" as Steve Bannon calls them) kicked into high gear. 

Via the New York Times

WASHINGTON — If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump made his animus toward the news media clear during the presidential campaign, often expressing his disgust with coverage through Twitter or in diatribes at rallies. So if his campaign is any guide, Mr. Trump seems likely to enthusiastically embrace the aggressive crackdown on journalists and whistle-blowers that is an important yet little understood component of Mr. Obama’s presidential legacy.

Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.

Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.

I experienced this pressure firsthand when the administration tried to compel me to testify to reveal my confidential sources in a criminal leak investigation. The Justice Department finally relented — even though it had already won a seven-year court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court to force me to testify — most likely because they feared the negative publicity that would come from sending a New York Times reporter to jail.

In an interview last May, President Obama pushed back on the criticism that his administration had been engaged in a war on the press. He argued that the number of leak prosecutions his administration had brought had been small and that some of those cases were inherited from the George W. Bush administration.

“I am a strong believer in the First Amendment and the need for journalists to pursue every lead and every angle,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with the Rutgers University student newspaper. “I think that when you hear stories about us cracking down on whistle-blowers or whatnot, we’re talking about a really small sample.

“Some of them are serious,” he continued, “where you had purposeful leaks of information that could harm or threaten operations or individuals who were in the field involved with really sensitive national security issues.”

But critics say the crackdown has had a much greater chilling effect on press freedom than Mr. Obama acknowledges. In a scathing 2013 report for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Leonard Downie, a former executive editor of The Washington Post who now teaches at Arizona State University, said the war on leaks and other efforts to control information was “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”

When Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, press freedom groups had high expectations for the former constitutional law professor, particularly after the press had suffered through eight years of bitter confrontation with the Bush administration. But today, many of those same groups say Mr. Obama’s record of going after both journalists and their sources has set a dangerous precedent that Mr. Trump can easily exploit. “Obama has laid all the groundwork Trump needs for an unprecedented crackdown on the press,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Dana Priest, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post, added: “Obama’s attorney general repeatedly allowed the F.B.I. to use intrusive measures against reporters more often than any time in recent memory. The moral obstacles have been cleared for Trump’s attorney general to go even further, to forget that it’s a free press that has distinguished us from other countries, and to try to silence dissent by silencing an institution whose job is to give voice to dissent.”

The administration’s heavy-handed approach represents a sharp break with tradition. For decades, official Washington did next to nothing to stop leaks. Occasionally the C.I.A. or some other agency, nettled by an article or broadcast, would loudly proclaim that it was going to investigate a leak, but then would merely go through the motions and abandon the case.

Of course, reporters and sources still had to be careful to avoid detection by the government. But leak investigations were a low priority for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. In fact, before the George W. Bush administration, only one person was ever convicted under the Espionage Act for leaking — Samuel Morison, a Navy analyst arrested in 1984 for giving spy satellite photos of a Soviet aircraft carrier to Jane’s Defense Weekly. He was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

Things began to change in the Bush era, particularly after the Valerie Plame case. The 2003 outing of Ms. Plame as a covert C.I.A. operative led to a criminal leak investigation, which in turn led to a series of high-profile Washington journalists being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury and name the officials who had told them about her identity. Judith Miller, then a New York Times reporter, went to jail for nearly three months before finally testifying in the case.

The Plame case began to break down the informal understanding between the government and the news media that leaks would not be taken seriously.

The Obama administration quickly ratcheted up the pressure, and made combating leaks a top priority for federal law enforcement. Large-scale leaks, by Chelsea Manning and later by Edward J. Snowden, prompted the administration to adopt a zealous, prosecutorial approach toward all leaking. Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism school, recalls that, during a private 2011 meeting intended to air differences between media representatives and administration officials, “You got the impression from the tone of the government officials that they wanted to take a zero-tolerance approach to leaks.”

The Justice Department, facing mounting criticism from media organizations, has issued new guidelines setting restrictions on when the government could subpoena reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources. But those guidelines include a loophole allowing the Justice Department to continue to aggressively pursue investigations into news reports on national security, which covers most leak investigations. In addition, the guidelines aren’t codified in law and can be changed by the next attorney general.

More significantly, the Obama administration won a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in my case that determined that there was no such thing as a “reporter’s privilege” — the right of journalists not to testify about their confidential sources in criminal cases. The Fourth Circuit covers Virginia and Maryland, home to the C.I.A., the Pentagon and the National Security Agency, and thus has jurisdiction over most leak cases involving classified information. That court ruling could result, for example, in a reporter’s being quickly jailed for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Trump administration’s Justice Department to reveal the C.I.A. sources used for articles on the agency’s investigation into Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election.

Press freedom advocates already fear that under Senator Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s choice to be attorney general, the Justice Department will pursue journalists and their sources at least as aggressively as Mr. Obama did. If Mr. Sessions does that, Ms. Dalglish said, “Obama handed him a road map.”


The Untold Truth About Obama's Former CIA Director, John Brennan


Authored by Richard Galustian via,

"Why does John Brennan need a security clearance other than to commercially exploit it? "

Let’s get something clear from the start.

In 1976, in his 20s, John Brennan was a card-carrying communist who supported the then Soviet Union, at the height some might say of the Cold War, so much so he voted and assisted Gus Hall, the communist candidate for President against a devout Christian, Jimmy Carter who ultimately won the Presidency.

Yet under four years later, just after the then Soviet Union invaded, just weeks before, Afghanistan and months after the tumultuous Iranian revolution of 1979, which at the time many thought the Soviet Union had a hand in, Brennan was accepted into the CIA as a junior analyst.

At that time, John Brennan should have never got into the CIA, or any Western Intelligence agency given his communist background.

Think on that carefully as you continue to read this.

Also reflect on the fact that Brennan, later in his CIA career, was surprisingly elevated from junior analyst to the prestigious position of Station Chief in Saudi Arabia where he spent a few years.

Its said he was appointed purely for ‘political’ reasons, alleged to have been at the direct request of Bill Clinton and other Democrats not because of a recommendation or merit from within the Agency.

Its further said that the Saudis liked Brennan because he became very quickly ‘their man’ so to speak. Some reports, unsubstantiated, even allege Brennan became a Muslim while there to ingratiate himself with the Saudis.

Important to read is an NBC news article entitled ‘Former Spooks Criticize CIA Director John Brennan for Spying Comments’ by Ken Dilanian dated March 2nd, 2016.

The article contains many revealing facts and evidence, while giving a flavour, of the feelings of many in the CIA who felt that Brennan was totally unsuitable and unqualified to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

A final controversy is the little known fact of Brennan’s near four year departure from the CIA into the commercial world, having been ‘left out in the cold’ from the CIA, from November 2005 to January 2009 when he was CEO of a private company called ‘The Analysis Corporation’.

So why was he then reinstated into the CIA, to the surprise of CIA’s senior management, by newly elected President Obama, to head the CIA? No answer is available as to why he left the CIA in 2005.

Lastly let’s not forget Brennan’s many failures as CIA head in recent years, one most notable is the Benghazi debacle and the death of a US Ambassador and others there. Something else to ponder.

Back to the present an the issue of security clearances.

In early August, on the well known American TV Rachel Maddow Show, Brennan back tracked on his Trump traitor claim by saying “I didn’t mean he (Trump) committed treason. I meant what he has done is nothing short of treasonous.” Rachel Maddow responded correctly “If we diagram the sentence, ‘nothing short of treason’ means it’s treasonous?”

A simple question follows. Since he is no longer in the CIA, why does he need a security clearance other than to commercially exploit it?

Tucker Carlson explains succinctly here:

Last month what can be described as 200+ ‘friends of Brennan’, former CIA officials of varying rank, responded against the removal of former CIA Director Brennan’s security clearances, in support of him.

These men and women too most likely will have their clearances revoked.

And why not?

Since the only purpose they retain it is to make money as civilians?

A potentially more serious issue than ‘the Brennan controversies’ is that the US intelligence community has around 5 million people with security clearances as a whole includes approximately 1.4m people holding top secret clearances. It is patently a ridiculously high number and makes a mockery of the word secret.

Former CIA veteran Sam Faddis is one of the few people brave enough and with the integrity required, that has stood up and told some of the real truths about Brennan in an ‘Open Letter’, yet this letter’s contents have hardly at all been reported in the media.

Generally by nature, CIA Officers sense of service and honour to their Country, their professionalism and humility, and disdain for publicity has dissuaded most of them to enter the current very public Brennan controversy; but for how much longer?

As stated earlier, former CIA professional Sam Faddis explains what’s wrong with Brennan in his revealing letter, abbreviated for space below.

Dear Mr. Brennan,

I implore you to cease and desist from continuing to attempt to portray yourself in the public media as some sort of impartial critic concerned only with the fate of the republic. I beg you to stop attempting to portray yourself as some sort of wise, all-knowing intelligence professional with deep knowledge of national security issues and no political inclinations whatsoever.

None of this is true.

You were never a spy. You were never a case officer. You never ran operations or recruited sources or worked the streets abroad. You have no idea whatsoever of the true nature of the business of human intelligence. You have never been in harm’s way. You have never heard a shot fired in anger.

You were for a short while an intelligence analyst. In that capacity, it was your job to produce finished intelligence based on information provided to you by others. The work of intelligence analysts is important, however in truth you never truly mastered this trade either.

In your capacity as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, while still a junior officer, you were designated to brief the President of the United States who was at that time Bill Clinton. As the presidential briefer, it was your job to read to the president each morning finished intelligence written by others based on intelligence collected by yet other individuals. Period.

While serving as presidential briefer you established a personal relationship with then President Bill Clinton. End of story.

Everything that has transpired in your professional career since has been based on your personal relationship with the former president, his wife Hillary and their key associates. Your connection to President Obama was, in fact, based on you having established yourself by the time he came to office as a reliable, highly political Democratic Party functionary.

All of your commentary in the public sphere is on behalf of your political patrons. It is no more impartial analysis then would be the comments of a paid press spokesman or attorney. You are speaking each and every time directly on behalf of political forces hostile to this president. You are, in fact, currently on the payroll of both NBC and MSNBC, two of the networks most vocally opposed to President Trump and his agenda.

There is no impartiality in your comments. Your assessments are not based on some sober judgment of what is best for this nation. They are based exclusively on what you believe to be in the best interests of the politicians with whom you long since allied yourself.

It should be noted that not only are you most decidedly not apolitical but that you have been associated during your career with some of the greatest foreign policy disasters in recent American history.

Ever since this President was elected, there has been a concerted effort to delegitimize him and destabilize him led by you. This has been an unprecedented; to undermine the stability of the republic and the office of the Presidency, for solely partisan political reasons. You and your patrons have been complicit in this effort and at its very heart.

You abandoned any hope of being a true intelligence professional decades ago and became a political hack. Say so.

Sam Faddis

Read the full letter here...


Friday, September 7, 2018

The Pension Crisis Is Bigger Than The World’s 20 Largest Economies


Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man

If your retirement plans consist entirely of that pension you’ve been promised, it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

As you probably know, pensions are giant pools of capital responsible for paying out retirement benefits to workers.

And right now many pension funds around the world simply don’t have enough assets to cover the retirement obligations they owe to millions of workers.

In the US alone, federal, state, and local governments, pensions are about $7 TRILLION short of the funding they need to pay out all the benefits they’ve promised.

(** And that doesn’t include another $49 trillion in unfunded Social Security obligations…)

America’s private pensions are in bad shape too — a total of around 1400 corporate pensions are a combined $553 billion in the hole. Plus, 25% of those funds are expected to go broke in the next decade. But the pension problem is much bigger than just what’s happening (though the US problems are SEVERE).

In 2015, the total worldwide gap in pension funding was $70 TRILLION according to the World Economic Forum. That is larger than the twenty largest economies in the world combined.

And it’s only gotten worse since then…

The WEC said that the worldwide pension shortfall is on track to reach $400 trillion by 2050.

And what solutions did they suggest?

“Provide a ‘safety net’ pension for all.” You know, sort of like Social Security… which as we mentioned is $49 trillion in the hole. Not exactly a sound solution.

Another solution the WEC offered was to increase contribution rates– in other words, forcing current workers pay more to support retired workers.

Only one problem with that… global demographics are awful. There just aren’t enough young people being born to pay out benefits for retirees.

And that problem is coming to a head in South Korea, where about 13% of the population is currently of retirement age: 65 or older.

By 2060, 40% of the population will be over 65.

And, you guessed it, there aren’t close to enough people being born to burden that load.

This is a nightmare scenario for pensions (in addition to fact that low interest rates have made the returns pensions need to break even basically unachievable).

But worry not, South Korea has an answer for the problem…

The government spent $113 billion over the past 12 years trying to get people to have more kids (I’m curious what this money was spent on… removing condom dispensers from bathrooms?).

But more importantly, this should give you a hint of how the government views you… Much like a dairy cow. Not enough milk? Breed more cows!

But for all the money and effort, South Koreans are actually having FEWER babies– a decline of 1.12 babies per woman in 2006, to just 0.96 this year.

So when you look a few decades out, South Korea clearly isn’t going to have enough workers paying into the pension system to support all the retired beneficiaries.

Even the government acknowledges this. And they’ve already started managing expectations…

One of the government’s proposals is to slash retirement payments by 10%.

At the same time, the government wants to increase current contributions (i.e. payroll TAX) by almost 50%.

These people have been planning their futures based on promises the government has been making for decades. Unfortunately, those promises have no basis in reality.

And if you think higher pension contributions and lower payouts are contained to South Korea, you’re nuts.

Earlier this year, the US Office of Personnel Management proposed $143.5 billion worth of pension cuts for current AND already retired federal workers.

But that’s a band-aid on a bullet wound… It won’t actually come even close to solving the problem. You know more cuts will come.

Remember, US government pensions are $7 TRILLION in the hole. And the demographics are just as bad (the US currently has the lowest fertility rate on record).

Look, I’m not trying to be alarmist. These are just the cold hard facts that everyone needs to understand.

We’re talking about long-term challenges to retirement. But it’s retirement… ergo we’re SUPPOSED to think long-term about retirement: years, decades out. Retirement requires having a plan.

Or, in this case, a Plan B… as anyone depending on a pension or social security for retirement is out of luck.

Governments have lulled hundred of millions of people into a false sense of security based on financial promises they are not going to be able to keep.

It’s not a political problem. It’s an arithmetic problem. And one they’re unable to solve.

But you can.

While you might not be able to fix the pension gap in your home country, you can definitely secure your own retirement.

There’s no need to rely on empty promises and broken pension funds. With some basic planning, education, and a bit of early action, you can safely sidestep the consequences of this looming financial crisis that is larger than the world’s 20 largest economies combined.



Get Your Flu Shot? DOJ Report From Vaccine Court Reveals Flu Shot is Most Dangerous Vaccine in U.S.

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Global debt soars, along with fears of crisis ahead

Video: Bombshell Documents Expose the Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War

Afghan War(CR) — How did the war in Afghanistan start? And how did NATO become involved in this conflict?  These details are never discussed because they have for nearly two decades been hidden behind a shroud of secrecy. But now, after nearly two decades of lies, the remarkable truth about the secret documents that helped launch the Afghan war […]


I Know Who the “Senior Official” Is Who Wrote the NY Times Op-Ed


Dear Readers: Your website needs your support. It cannot exist without it.
When you read my column below, you will read what you cannot find anywhere else–a clear, concise, correct explanation of who the author is of the New York Times op-ed falsely attributed to a “senior Trump official.”

I Know Who the “Senior Official” Is Who Wrote the NY Times Op-Ed

Paul Craig Roberts

I know who wrote the anonymous “senior Trump official” op-ed in the New York Times. The New York Times wrote it.

The op-ed ( is an obvious forgery. As a former senior official in a presidential administration, I can state with certainty that no senior official would express disagreement anonymously. Anonymous dissent has no credibility. Moreover, the dishonor of it undermines the character of the writer. A real dissenter would use his reputation and the status of his high position to lend weight to his dissent.

The New York Times’ claim to have vetted the writer also lacks credibility, as the New York Times has consistently printed extreme accusations against Trump and against Vladimir Putin without supplying a bit of evidence. The New York Times has consistently misrepresented unsubstantiated allegations as proven fact. There is no reason whatsoever to believe the New York Times about anything.

Consider also whether a member of a conspiracy working “diligently” inside the administration with “many of the senior officials” to “preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting” Trump’s “worst inclinations” would thwart his and his fellow co-conspirators’ plot by revealing it!

This forgery is an attempt to break up the Trump administration by creating suspicion throughout the senior level. If Trump falls for the New York Times’ deception, a house cleaning is likely to take place wherever suspicion falls. A government full of mutual suspicion cannot function.

The fake op-ed serves to validate from within the Trump administration the false reporting by the New York Times that serves the interests of the military/security complex to hold on to enemies with whom Trump prefers to make peace. For example, the alleged “senior official” misrepresents, as does the New York Times, President Trump’s efforts to reduce dangerous tensions with North Korea and Russia as President Trump’s “preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un” over America’s “allied, like-minded nations.” This is the same non-sequitur that the New York Times has expressed endlessly. Why is resolving dangerous tensions a “preference for dictators” and not a preference for peace? The New York Times has never explained, and neither does the “senior official.”

How is it that Putin, elected three times by majorities that no US president has ever received, is a dictator? Putin stepped down after serving the permitted two consecutive terms and was again elected after being out of office for a term. Do dictators step down and sit out for 6 years?

The “senior official” also endorses as proven fact the alleged Skripal poisoning by a “deadly Russian nerve agent,” an event for which not one scrap of evidence exists. Neither has anyone explained why the “deadly nerve agent” wasn’t deadly. The entire Skripal event rests only on assertions. The purpose of the Skripal hoax was precisely what President Trump said it was: to box him into further confrontation with Russia and prevent a reduction in tensions.

If the “senior official” is really so uninformed as to believe that Putin is a dictator who attacked the Skripals with a deadly nerve agent and elected Trump president, the “senior official” is too dangerously ignorant and gullible to be a senior official in any administration. These are the New York Times’ beliefs or professed beliefs as the New York Times does everything the organization can do to protect the military/security complex’s budget from any reduction in the “enemy threat.”

Do you remember when Condoleezza Rice prepared the way for the US illegal invasion of Iraq with her imagery of “a mushroom cloud going up over an American city”? Iraq had no nuclear weapons, and everyone in the government knew it. There was no prospect of such an event. However, there is a very real prospect of mushroom clouds going up over many American and European cities if the crazed Russiaphobia of the New York Times and the other presstitutes along with the Democratic Party and the security elements of the deep state continue to pile lie after lie, provocation after provocation on Russia’s patience. At some point, the only logical conclusion that the Russian government can reach is that Washington is preparing Americans and Europeans for an attack on Russia. Propaganda vilifying and demonizing the enemy precedes military attacks.

The New York Times’ other attack on President Trump—that he is unstable and unfit for office—is reproduced in the fake op-ed: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” writes the invented and non-existent “senior official.”

Americans are an insouciant people. But are any so insouciant that they really think that a senior official would write that the members of President Trump’s cabinet have considered removing him from office? What is this statement other than a deliberate effort to produce a constitutional crisis—the precise aim of John Brennan, James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, the DNC, and the New York Times. A constitutional crisis is what the hoax of Russiagate is all about.

The level of mendacity and evil in this plot against Trump is unequaled in history. Have any of these conspirators given a moment’s thought to the consequences of removing a president for his unwillingness to worsen the dangerously high tensions between nuclear powers? The next president would have to adopt a Russophobic stance and do nothing to reduce the tensions that can break out in nuclear war or himself be accused of “coddling the Russian dictator and putting America at risk.”

The reason that America is at risk is that the CIA and the presstitute media have put America—and Europe—at risk by frustrating President Trump’s intention to reduce the dangerous level of tensions between the two major nuclear powers. Professor Steven Cohen, America’s premier Russian expert, says that never during the Cold War were tensions as high as they are at this present time. As a former member of The Committee on the Present Danger, I myself am a former Cold Warrior, and I know for a fact that Professor Cohen is correct.

In America today, and in Europe, people are living in a situation in which the liberal-progressive-left’s blind hatred of Donald Trump, together with the self-interested power and profit of the military security complex and election hopes of the Democratic Party, are recklessly and irresponsibly risking nuclear Armageddon for no other reason than to act out their hate and further their own nest.

This plot against Trump is dangerous to life on earth and demands that the governments and peoples of the world act now to expose this plot and to bring it to an end before it kills us all.

The post I Know Who the “Senior Official” Is Who Wrote the NY Times Op-Ed appeared first on


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Dorsey Admits Twitter "Unfairly" Shadowbanned 600,000 Accounts


Apparently Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is growing tired of insisting that Twitter's algorithm is purely "impartial" and doesn't discriminate against conservative voices.


As the controversy surrounding Twitter's blatant shadow-banning of conservative voices continues to rage, Dorsey admitted to lawmakers that his platform "unfairly" reduced the visibility of 600,000 accounts, including some members of Congress. But he refused to say whether a majority of them were Democrats or Republicans, only saying that the issues were remedied in late July.

Mr Dorsey told senators that the platform used "hundreds of signals" to decide "what to show, down-rank and filter."

"We do not shadow-ban anyone based on political ideology," he said.

"It was unfair," said Mr Dorsey. "We corrected it."

Dorsey told Senators that the platform used "hundreds of signals" to decide "what to show, down-rank and filter".

"Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules," said Mr Dorsey.

Apparently, the market wasn't thrilled with his response as Twitter shares tanked, weighing on the Nasdaq for a second straight day on Thursday.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the DOJ said it would investigate "growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms."


As the BBC points out, the allegations of censorship were fueled when Twitter added a "quality filter" to the platform and its search results. And then President Trump blew the issue wide open when he tweeted about it last month.

Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018

Here's a highlight of Dorsey's comments from the hearing (courtesy of the BBC):

  • Democrat Eliot Engel asked why Twitter did not require people to verify their identity when registering an account. Mr Dorsey said the platform had systems to detect bots and had prevented half a million fake accounts from even being used
  • Asked why Twitter relied on its users to report inappropriate content, Mr Dorsey said it was a "matter of scale" but that it responded quickly to reports based on their severity
  • Mr Pallone asked how many human moderators Twitter had in the US and how much they were paid. Mr Dorsey was unable to answer
  • Republican Fred Upton asked how Twitter determined whether somebody was trying to manipulate a conversation. Mr Dorsey said the platform was focused on "conversation health", with factors such as "shared attention" taken into account
  • Asked whether Twitter's rules were clear, Mr Dorsey said he accepted they were difficult to understand and needed to be "more approachable"
  • Republican Adam Kinzinger asked whether Twitter stored user data in Russia. Mr Dorsey replied that Twitter did not have servers in Russia
  • Republican Michael Doyle asked explicitly whether Twitter had taken action to censor conservatives. "No," replied Mr Dorsey

* * *

Of course, in Dorsey's mind, these shadowbanning slip ups (and myriad other actions to repress conservative voices) don't mean twitter isn't "fair and balanced"...





Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Goldman's Bear Market Indicator Shows Crash Dead Ahead, Asks "Should We Be Worried?"


One year ago, we reported that in its attempt to calculate the likelihood, and timing, of the next bear market, Goldman Sachs created a proprietary "Bear Market Risk Indicator" which at the time had shot up to 67% - a level last seen just before the 2000 and 2007 crashes - prompting Goldman to ask, rhetorically, "should we be worried now?"

While Goldman's answer was a muted yes, nothing dramatic happened in the months that followed - the result of Trump's $1.5 trillion fiscal stimulus which pushed the US economy into a temporary, sugar-high overdrive - aside from the near correction in February which was promptly digested by the market on its path to new all time highs (here one has to exclude the rolling bear markets that have hit everything from emerging markets, to China, to commodities to European banks).

At the time, Goldman wrote that it examined over 40 data variables (among macro, market and technical data) and looked at their behaviour around major market turning points (bull and bear markets). Most, individually, did not work as leading indicators on a consistent basis, or they provided too many false positives to be useful predictors. So the bank developed a Bear Market Risk Indicator based on five factors, in combination, that do provide a reasonable guide to bear market risk – or at least the risk of low returns: valuation, ISM (growth momentum), unemployment, inflation and the yield curve.

And, as Goldman's Peter Oppenheimer explained, while no single indicator is reliable on its own, the combination of these five seems to provide a reasonable signal for future bear market risk.

All of these variables are related. Tight labour markets are typically associated with higher inflation expectations. These, in turn, tend to tighten policy and weaken expectations of future growth. High valuations, at the same time, leave equities vulnerable to de-rating if growth expectations deteriorate or the discount rate rises, or, worse still, both of these occur together.

To aggregate these variables in a signal indicator, we took each variable and calculated
its percentile relative to its history since 1948. For the yield curve and unemployment
we took the lowest percentiles relative to history, while for the other indicators we took
the highest. We then took the average of these.

Fast forward to today, when one year later Goldman has redone the analysis (and after what may have been some prodding from clients and/or compliance, renamed its "Bear Market Risk Indicator" to "Bull/Bear Market Risk Indicator") where it finds that the risk of a bear market - based on its indicator - is now not only nearly 10% higher than a year ago, but well above where it was just before the last two market crashes, putting the subjective odds of a crash at roughly 75%, well in the "red line" zone, and just shy of all time highs.

Or as Goldman puts it, "Our Bull/Bear market indicator is flashing red."

While one can argue with the subjective interpretation of this heuristic, a tangential analysis shows that Goldman's indicator is inversely correlated with future returns, and as of this moment, Goldman is effectively forecasting a negative return from now until 2023.

Here even Goldman's Oppenheimer admits that "the indicator is at levels which have historically preceded a bear market. Should we take this seriously? It’s always risky to argue that this time is different but there are two most likely scenarios when we think of equity returns over the next 3-5 years."

Or, in other words, "how worried should we be about a bear market?"

Goldman's answer is two-fold, laying out two possible outcomes from here, either a sharp, "cathartic" bear market, or just a period of slower, grinding low returns for the foreseeable future. Naturally, Goldman is more inclined to believe in the latter:

  1. A cathartic bear market across financial markets. This has been the typical pattern when this indicator has reached such lofty levels in the past. It would be most likely triggered by rising interest rates (and higher inflation), reversing the common factor that has fuelled financial asset valuations and returns over recent years or a sharper than expected decline in growth. Such a bear market could then ‘re-base’ valuations to a level where a new strong recovery cycle can emerge.
  2. A long period of relatively low returns across financial assets. This would imply a period of low returns without a clear trend in the market.

With retail investors still rushing to buy whatever institutional investors have left of offload in the very late innings of the longest bull market in history (and with Fidelity's zero cost ETFs making it especially easy to do that), Goldman does not want to spook its clients into selling, and writes that "several factors suggest that a flatter return for longer may be more likely." They are as follows:

i) Valuation is currently the most stretched of the factors in the Indicator – other factors such as inflation appear more reasonable. This is largely a function of very loose monetary policy and bond yields (see Exhibit 45)."


ii) Inflation and, therefore, interest rate rises have played an important part in rising bear market risks in past cycles. Structural factors may be keeping inflation lower than in the past, and central bank forward guidance is reducing interest rate volatility and the term premium. Without monetary policy tightening much, concerns about a looming recession – and therefore risks of a ‘cyclical’ bear market – are lower. So long as the Phillips curve remains as flat as it is now, strong labour markets can continue without the risk of a recession triggered by a tightening of interest rates. While this has not happened before in the US (and hence the economic cycle has not lasted more than 10 years), there have been examples of other economies experiencing very long economic cycles where the unemployment rate moved roughly sideways for many years.

Our economists have shown that there are good examples of long expansions, such as in Australia from 1992 to the present, the UK from 1992 to 2008, Canada from 1992 to 2008 and Japan from 1975 to 1992. Typically they find that a flatter Phillips curve, stronger financial regulation and a lack of financial imbalances are all good indicators that a long cycle is more likely.  On this later point, the signs are quite positive.


In the case of the US, our economists point out that a passive fiscal tightening, tighter financial conditions and supply constraints are likely to leave growth at 1.6% in 2020, below potential, leaving a greater risk of at least a technical recession in 2020-2021. But this is not their base case and their model (which uses economic and financial data from 20 advanced economies to estimate recession odds) puts the probability of a US recession at under 10% over the next year and just over 20% over the next two years, below the historical average.

iii) Aligned to this point, we can see that inflation targeting and independent central banks have both contributed to lower macro volatility and longer expansion phases in economic cycles since the 1980s.

So on the surface, while admitting we are overdue for a crash, Goldman spins the narrative into positioning what happens next not as a crash, but as a period of lower returns, adding that a sharp bear market in the absence of a recession is unlikely, and that generally equities rise when economic growth is positive:

... using US equity market data, the probability of negative annual equity returns falls dramatically as real GDP (lagged by 2Q) rises. So, for example, the probability of negative year-on-year returns when real GDP is between 1% and 2.5% is just 31%.


Or, in other words, "the absence of a trigger for a sharp economic downturn suggests that, while this cycle may have been the weakest in the post-war period, it is likely to be the longest. This, together with lower private sector imbalances, may reduce the prospect of a sharp bear market anytime soon."

That's the good news. The not so good news, is that as Goldman admits, with monetary and fiscal policy having thrown everything at the 2008 global financial crisis, "even if the next economic downturn turns out to be mild, it may prove difficult to reverse." As a result, we may go back to an environment dominated by concerns over secular stagnation, for which Goldman lists two reasons:

  1. The US has already expanded fiscal policy and its debt levels and budget deficit are rising, which could make it difficult to find room for significant easing. The federal deficit will increase from $825bn (4.1% of GDP) to $1,250bn (5.5% of GDP) by 2021. By 2028, it is expected to rise to $2.05 trillion (7.0% of GDP). This would leave federal debt at 105% of GDP in ten years, 9pp higher than CBO’s latest projections.
  2. There may be room for US interest rates to be cut in the next downturn but less so than in other downturns. Also, European interest rates may still be at or close to zero when the next US downturn hits. The same would be true for Japan.

In other words, while Goldman's indicators suggest a crash is imminent, the bank redirects the discussion to a period of low returns and secular stagnation, which while eliminating the threat of an imminent collapse presents even greater concerns about investing in the current market.

Most ominously, the bank admits that "the combination of constrained fiscal policy headroom in the US and limited room to cut interest rates in Japan and Europe may well dampen the ability to generate a strong coordinated policy response to any downturn, and also make it harder to get out of such a downturn."

Said otherwise, whether the next crash is sharp and "cathartic" or slow and extended, the problem is what happens next, because as even Goldman now admits, the ammo to kickstart the US and global economy has already been used up.


JPMorgan says next crisis will feature flash crashes and social unrest

JPMorgan says next crisis will feature flash crashes and social unrest

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape


After Donald Rumsfeld testified on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in the Pentagon's custody more horrific than anything made public so far. "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse," Rumsfeld said. Since then, the Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is right, it all gets much worse.


How To Own Life Like A Fucking Wizard


Hey! Want to know a secret? A secret that people have used to overtake those who don’t know it and rise to the top of civilizations for as long as there have been civilizations?

I’ll tell you the secret in a second, but first let me ask you a question. Have you ever noticed how unambiguous and unequivocal the pundits and reporters on the corporate news media are? How confident and assertive their voices are? How little emphasis is ever placed on the many, many unknown factors of a given situation, or how dismissed and ignored dissenting narratives are?

Wait, hang on, that’s too vague. Let me try something more specific: Bill Maher.

Have you ever watched Bill Maher? I wouldn’t blame you if you avoid it; watching him can be a viscerally uncomfortable experience for anyone who doesn’t share his mainstream corporate liberal worldview. If you agree with him, watching him feels extremely validating and comforting, but if you don’t it can feel as psychologically uncomfortable as being reprimanded by your boss in front of the whole office. And there’s a reason for that.

Bill Maher, as near as I can tell, has no redeeming characteristics of any kind. As far as talent, looks and personality goes, there’s no good reason for him to be famous, or for anyone to know his name at all. And yet he is, and we do.

The reason Bill Maher is famous is the same as the reason he’s uncomfortable to listen to when you don’t agree with him: his voice. You’ve never heard a more assertive, condescending, “I know what’s true and you don’t” voice in your life. He has perfected the voice of authority, and he uses it with such forcefulness that it can cause a lot of cognitive dissonance in people who don’t agree with what he’s saying. But when you’re on his side it feels powerfully rewarding and validating, which is why he’s famous; listening to him triggers the reward center of the corporate liberal brain, and they want more.

Which takes us to the secret I promised to tell you. Are you ready? Here it is:

Nobody knows what the fuck is going on. We’re a bunch of hairless apes on a spinning rock in space, and we only know the stories that we’ve been told by the people who got here before us. We come out as clueless little babies, then when we get bigger we learn some fancy words and how to open a bag of chips, but underneath all the data we add on top of our fresh baby minds there’s still the same cluelessness we started out with. The process of sorting out the true and useful data from the false and unhelpful is confusing, difficult, and prone to error. So people tend to just listen to the most confident-sounding voice in the room; the one who steps forward and says “I know what’s going on, follow me.”

Confidence is everything. So much of the machine is held in place by the confident-sounding assertions of pundits and politicians; they're believed because we're all a bunch of apes on a space rock and no one knows what the fuck is going on. But you can speak with confidence too.

 — @caitoz

This is how those confident-sounding pundits and politicians have been able to control the dominant narratives about world events and keep a huge majority of the population in alignment with the narrow Overton window of acceptable ideas. It isn’t because they have better ideas or more truthful narratives (I just made myself laugh typing that), it’s because the people who get hired and promoted by the plutocrat-owned media are the ones who can speak lies and half-truths with the confident voice of authority.

Thing is, there’s no trademark on the voice of authority. Nobody owns it; it’s just a trade secret whose importance nobody who knows it talks about publicly. Which means there’s nothing stopping you from using it, too.

Because here’s the thing: since society is made of narrative, and since nobody knows what the fuck is going on, you can pretty much arrange the narratives around you in a way that suits you just by declaring confidently, consistently and assertively what it is that’s happening. People will adjust their ideas about what’s going on to accommodate your ownership of the narrative, and before you know it you’re being uplifted by society and supported toward whatever goals you’ve got in mind. Decide you’re a leader, they’ll make you a leader. Decide you’re successful, they’ll make you successful. Decide you now what’s happening, they’ll believe you. Say what you want like it’s going to happen, and if it’s a want that society can fulfill, they will.

Society Is Made Of Narrative. Realizing This Is Awakening From The Matrix. This is the clearest I've been able to sum it all up so far.

 — @caitoz

It’s like being a wizard. Just by becoming confident and assertive, you can control social narratives and ride them wherever you want to go. It’s immensely powerful once you get the hang of it, so it’s in the highest interest to only use this power for the good of society. I’ve been strongly advocating a grassroots information rebellion in which the public seizes control of the dominant narrative about what’s going on instead of remaining subject to the authorized official stories being promulgated by confident-sounding pundits and politicians. We can use the confident voice of authority to override the voice of the establishment propaganda machine.

But to be clear, people are already using this power; the only problem is that only the wrong sorts of people are using it. The social engineers have been promoting strong-voiced establishment loyalists in the mass media for generations, and sociopaths also quickly learn how to master it without ever being taught due to a lack of investment in truth or compassion. If you’re clever and you’re only interested in success at any cost, it doesn’t take long to figure out that you can manipulate your way to the top using confident-sounding assertions for the purpose of social narrative control.

So I don’t feel worried about showing people this secret, and I plan on highlighting it often, because otherwise it’s the equivalent of sociopaths being the only people in the world who have weapons. The problems of our world are due to the fact that selfish, oafish, amoral people speak with unequivocal self-confidence, while compassionate, insightful people wait their turn, use mitigated speech, stay as boringly objective as possible, and treat establishment voices with the same respect which they themselves want to be treated. The fact that the sociopaths and manipulators are constantly firing all their weapons on full auto while we’re politely nudging at the problem with one finger has created a power disparity which explains why the worst among us are in charge.

Trump. Perfect example. A rich man with a rich father and nothing going for him personality-wise other than massive confidence and a rock-solid understanding of the power of assertive narrative control. The man can say something, then days later confidently assert that he never said it knowing full well his comments are on the record, and still get half the country saying “Yeah, fair enough, that sounds about right.” He was able to beat down both Bush and Clinton dynasties and take the White House by sheer force of entitlement and self-confidence.

Imagine a world where it wasn’t only powerful plutocrats doing that. Imagine if all truth-tellers began speaking with the same forceful authoritative confidence of the manipulators at the top. The social engineers would have no way of keeping their authorized narratives in control and manufacturing consent for war, ecocide and exploitative oppression, because Chris Cuomo’s voice wouldn’t have any more force behind it than anyone else’s. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world, and putting that control in the hands of the people is vastly better than leaving it in the hands of a few sociopathic elites.

So get confident and take control. Say your truth and say it like you’re right, because you know you are. Your own best guess about what’s happening in the world is infinitely better than what you’re told to believe by mass media manipulators who you know for a fact are paid to deceive you, so say what you reckon is happening in the world with unmitigated, full-throated authority. When it looks like they’re lying to get a new war or more internet censorship or whatever, voice your own best guess about what’s really happening, and don’t be shy about doing whatever it takes to get it heard by as many people as possible. You have as much a right to speak as the sociopathic manipulators do; more even, since your intentions are not self-serving but world-serving.

How To Get Your Dissident Ideas Heard In The New Media Environment People have been asking me for some advice on how to get started doing what I do and building an audience, so here are a few tips I've picked up on this weird and wonderful journey.

 — @caitoz

If we don’t control the narrative, only omnicidal, ecocidal sociopaths will control the narrative. I repeat: if we don’t control the narrative, only sociopaths will control the narrative. So take control, using every tool in the toolbox. Take their weapons from them, and use them.

Be big. Be bold. Step way outside the rank they have assigned you. Speak way above your station. Do not let anyone shame you into equivocation or meekness, and don’t let them bully you into the usual dull academic recitation of objective data. Fight the propagandists with the same loud, aggressive assertiveness that they are using, and bulldoze over anyone who tries to admonish you for being impolite about it.

It’s life or death at this point, and our choices are fight, flight or freeze. Near as I can tell, freezing means death and we’ve got no other world we can flee to, so we’ve got to fight. If we’re going to fight we should fight, not with one hand tied behind our backs while they manipulate our species into consenting to its own extinction via war or ecocide, but with full force like our lives depend on it. Because they do.

So take control. Grab the narrative by the balls and own it. Because it’s better you than them.


The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, 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 book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

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John McCain: The View from the Middle East



Being on the deadly end of his policies, many Arabs view John McCain in a very different way than the U.S. mass media has presented him.   By As`ad AbuKhalil Special to Consortium News It is not unusual that Arabs and Americans…Read more →


"It's A Mystery": Jack Dorsey "Frustrating" Twitter With Unpredictable Decrees Over Censorship


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been causing some internal strife at the company's San Francisco headquarters with last minute decisions on who gets censored from the social media platform, reports the Wall Street Journalciting people familiar with the matter. 

Just who decides whether a user gets kicked off the site?

To some Twitter users—and even some employees—it is a mystery.

In policing content on the site and punishing bad actors, Twitter relies primarily on its users to report abuses and has a consistent set of policies so that decisions aren’t made by just one person, its executives say.

Yet, in some cases, Mr. Dorsey has weighed in on content decisions at the last minute or after they were made, sometimes resulting in changes and frustrating other executives and employees, according to people familiar with the matter. -WSJ

Key among Dorsey's "frustrating" decisions was his alleged call not to ban Infowars founder Alex Jones - overruling a decision by Twitter employees amid a seemingly coordinated multi-platform shunning of the controversial host. Twitter disputes this account, and says Dorsey wasn't involved in those discussions. 

According to the Journal's sources, Dorsey weighs in "on the most high-profile cases," while the company says he participates in discussions about accounts but isn't the final word. 

Any suggestion that Jack made or overruled any of these decisions is completely and totally false,” Twitter’s chief legal officer, Vijaya Gadde, said in a statement. “Our service can only operate fairly if it’s run through consistent application of our rules, rather than the personal views of any executive, including our CEO.” -WSJ

Dorsey will appear on Wednesday alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and, upon last report, a "Google representative," to discuss how the social media giants police "bad actors" (we presume means "deplorables" and "WikiLeaks supporters" among others). The companies will also discuss how "foreign actors can use the social-media platforms to spread misinformation and propaganda." 

Later Wednesday, Dorsey will be questioned alone over whether Twitter is silencing conservatives. Several users have noted that the ubiquitous "QFD" shadowbans seemingly only applied to right-wing voices have recently been lifted - suggesting it was done ahead of Dorsey's appearance. Perhaps an FEC complaint brought by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also had something to do with it. 

BREAKING: It appears Twitter has removed the QFD shadow ban from most conservative accounts.

This appears to be a coordinated effort by Twitter to cover up any wrongdoing before testifying in front of Congress. #QFDBanLifted

— Mike Tokes (@MikeTokes) September 1, 2018

With just days till @Jack testifies in DC many people are reporting their shadowbans have been lifted.

Is Twitter preparing for something or is it a coincidence they decided to remove QFD bans from people?

— Tim Pool (@Timcast) September 2, 2018

As the Journal reports, Twitter has taken a different approach than Facebook in policing "hateful" content. While Facebook has hired thousands of people to review content in the last couple of years, Twitter has far less staff and relies mostly on automation - typically only investigating harassment and abuse reported by users. Some have suggested this makes Twitter's platform far easier to game by coordinated groups of political ideologues. 

After a user flags a tweet, the company says a user-services team first decides whether to elevate a complaint to Twitter’s trust and safety team. The company doesn’t disclose how many of its more than 3,500 employees are on each team or the number of contractors it hires to moderate content. On a case-by-case basis, the trust and safety team may ask Ms. Gadde to participate. -WSJ

Over the next few weeks, Twitter will begin showing a picture of a tombstone in place of tweets which have been taken down, as a way to signal that company policy has been violated and the user censored. 

Dorsey, meanwhile, has been promising that his company will do a better job of policing content. "We moved too slow. We are fixing," he told one Twitter user in January. 

@JShahryar yes you did and thank you. We moved too slow. We are fixing. It will take time. And we will be more transparent

— jack (@jack) January 4, 2017

In October of that year, he tweeted: “We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.”

And then last month: “Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that.”  -WSJ

Frustrating employees

Several current and former employees tell the Journal that Dorsey's "philosophical, arm's-length leadership styler" has "at times complicated decision-making," as he splits his time between Twitter and Square Inc., the payments company he founded. 

He generally delegates to his subordinates, but at times projects stall because either no one knows what he thinks or he doesn’t pull the trigger, according to people familiar with the matter. For example, Twitter took almost two years to decide how to expand beyond its 140-character limit for tweets, a delay many employees attribute to Mr. Dorsey’s indecision.  -WSJ

Twitter CFO Ned Seagal admitted that decision-making is one of the company's weak points, telling analysts in May that Twitter is "getting better amongst ourselves at both making decisions and executing on them." 

Following the Alex Jones incident, Twitter VP of global communications, Brandon Borrman, along with other executives said that Dorsey wasn't involved in any of the decision-making since there really wasn't one to make. Apparently nobody had flagged Jones's account as inappropriate, despite having "posted hate-speech posts to other social media sites." Borrman says he notified Dorsey in a text message that the company wasn't planning to ban Jones (only to give him a seven-day suspension on August 14 after CNN flagged several tweets to the company. Several Twitter employees saw that has a "half measure" and complained that they hadn't taken more decisive action against Jones. 

When Dorsey reinstated one of the accounts linked to White Nationalist Richard Spencer, several employees were upset about the decision. 

After Twitter reinstated one of Mr. Spencer’s accounts at Mr. Dorsey’s insistence the following month, many employees were upset about the decision, according to a person involved in the decision. At the company’s next all-hands meeting known as “Tea Time,” one employee asked about it. Mr. Dorsey instead turned the question over to Ms. Gadde, that person said.

In an interview, Mr. Spencer says he doesn’t recall being told by Twitter why his accounts had been shut down until Twitter offered to reinstate one of them. He said he found their reasoning “a bit incredible,” but “I went with it because it’s a public space, it’s the way everyone can issue their own little press release.” -WSJ

Perhaps Dorsey will expound on his thought process Wednesday. In the meantime, we'll sadly be deprived of Zuckbot clips since he apparently didn't have the balls to show up. And to think he was considering a run for President...


Monday, September 3, 2018

Japan has the Lowest Infant Mortality Rate Following Ban on Mandatory Vaccinations

The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…


Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink.  How is that even possible?  At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.  Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities.  Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs.  Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty.  Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children.  We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized.  In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier.  The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt.  In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it.  Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years.  Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy.  In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them.  The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States.  But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary.  Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog.  About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The post The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious… appeared first on The Economic Collapse.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

"Anatomy Of A Fusion Smear": WSJ Exposes Dirty Tactics Of "Steele Dossier" Firm


The Wall Street Journal editorial board has thrown one of their former journalists, Glenn Simpson, completely under the bus over his firm's political hit-jobs for hire - including feeding twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr damaging "misinformationin the Trump-Russia investigation. 

Now we’re learning how this misinformation got around, and the evidence points to Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the outfit that financed the infamous Steele dossier. -WSJ


Via the WSJ Editorial Board

Anatomy of a Fusion Smear

Democrats and their media friends made false claims about a lawyer.

Cleta Mitchell is a top campaign-finance lawyer in Washington, D.C. This year she’s also been the target of a political and media smear that reveals some of the nastiness at work in the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Cleta Mitchell, a partner at Foley & Lardner in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2014. PHOTO: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A partner at Foley & Lardner, Ms. Mitchell was astonished to find herself dragged into the Russia investigation on March 13 when Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee issued an interim report. They wrote that they still wanted to interview “key witnesses,” including Ms. Mitchell, who they claimed was “involved in or may have knowledge of third-party political outreach from the Kremlin to the Trump campaign, including persons linked to the National Rifle Association (NRA).”

Two days later the McClatchy news service published a story with the headline “NRA lawyer expressed concerns about group’s Russia ties, investigators told.” The story cited two anonymous sources claiming Congress was investigating Ms. Mitchell’s worries that the NRA had been “channeling Russia funds into the 2016 elections to help Donald Trump.”

Ms. Mitchell says none of this is true. She hadn’t done legal work for the NRA in at least a decade, had zero contact with it in 2016, and had spoken to no one about its actions. She says she told this to McClatchy, which published the story anyway.

Now we’re learning how this misinformation got around, and the evidence points to Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the outfit that financed the infamous Steele dossier. New documents provided to Congress show that Mr. Simpson, a Fusion co-founder, was feeding information to Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. In an interview with House investigators this week, Mr. Ohr confirmed he had known Mr. Simpson for some time, and passed at least some of his information along to the FBI.

In handwritten notes dated Dec. 10, 2016 that the Department of Justice provided to Congress and were transcribed for us by a source, Mr. Ohr discusses allegations that Mr. Simpson made to him in a conversation. The notes read: “A Russian senator (& mobster) . . . [our ellipsis] may have been involved in funneling Russian money to the NRA to use in the campaign. An NRA lawyer named Cleta Mitchell found out about the money pipeline and was very upset, but the election was over.”

A spokesman for Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, says the “Minority did not speak with Mr. Simpson or Fusion GPS about this,” though he declined to disclose who named Ms. Mitchell. Our sources say they can’t remember Ms. Mitchell coming up in any of the documents collected or witness interviews conducted for the investigation. So how did Mr. Schiff get his tip? Fusion’s media friends? Mr. Ohr? The FBI? Fusion GPS and Mr. Simpson did not answer a request for comment.

Ms. Mitchell says the fallout for her goes beyond inconvenience and a false allegation. Mr. Schiff’s team in May sent her a letter demanding testimony and documents, though no one in Mr. Schiff’s office alerted her before naming her in an official document.

She received similar demands from Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, who wanted Ms. Mitchell to turn over records related to “the transfer of money, or anything of value” between her and several Russians. After Ms. Mitchell in May responded that she had no information related to any of those Russians and accused the committee of being duped by “Glenn Simpson & Co.,” she heard nothing more.

But social media attacks on her haven’t ended. “That allegation impugns my ethical integrity and professional reputation,” she says, one reason she’s calling for Mr. Simpson to be prosecuted for lying to a federal official.

The Russian collusion accusations ginned up by Fusion at the behest of a law firm working for the Clinton campaign haven’t been corroborated despite two years of investigations. But no one should forget the smears that they and their media mouthpieces peddled along the way.