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Not Catalonia

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

Catalonia’s separatist campaign has dominated European headlines for the past couple of weeks, but it’s really the northern Belgian region of Flanders which will serve as a barometer over whether large chunks of the EU will fall apart into a collection of identity-centric statelets prior to the bloc’s reconstitution into a “federation of regions”.

What’s going on in Catalonia is of paramount importance to the geopolitical future of Europe, since it could very well serve as the catalyst for fracturing the EU if copycat movements elsewhere are emboldened by the Spanish region’s possible separatist success. This was explained in detail in the author’s recent analysis about “The Catalan Chain Reaction”, which readers should familiarize themselves with if they’re not already acquainted with the thesis put forth in that work. To concisely summarize, there’s a very distinct possibility that the EU’s liberal-globalist elite have been planning to divide and rule the continent along identity-based lines in order to further their ultimate goal of creating a “federation of regions”.

Catalonia is the spark that could set off this entire process, but it could also just be a flash in the pan that might end up being contained no matter what its final result may be. Flanders, however, is much different because of the heightened symbolism that Belgium holds in terms of EU identity, and the dissolution of this somewhat artificially created state would be the clearest sign yet that the EU’s ruling elite intend to take the bloc down the direction of manufactured fragmentation. Bearing this in mind, the spread of the “Catalan Chain Reaction” to Belgium and the inspiration that this could give to Flanders to break off from the rest of the country should be seen as the true barometer over whether or not the EU’s “nation-states” will disintegrate into a constellation of “Balkanized” ones.

“The First Bosnia”

In order to properly understand the state of affairs at play, it’s necessary to briefly review the history of what could in some sense be described as “The First Bosnia”, or in other words, Europe’s “first artificially created state”. Most of the territory of what is nowadays referred to as Belgium was unified with the modern-day Netherlands from 1482-1581 when the political entity was referred to as the Habsburg Netherlands. The southern part (Belgium) came under Spanish control from 1581-1714 when it was called the Spanish Netherlands. Afterwards, it passed under Austrian administration from 1714-1797 when it became the Austrian Netherlands prior to its brief incorporation into the First French Republic and later Empire from 1797-1815. It was during the Spanish and Austrian eras that Belgium began to consider Catholicism as an inseparable part of its national identity in opposition to the Netherland’s Protestantism. Finally, Belgium was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1815-1839 until the Belgian Revolution made it an independent state for the first time in its history.

In essence, what ended up happening is that a majority-Catholic but ethno-linguistically divided population got caught up in the 19th century’s wave of nationalism and created a hybrid Franco-Dutch state that would eventually federalize in the late-20th century, in a structural sense serving as a precursor to the dysfunctional Balkan creation of Bosnia almost a century and a half later.

It’s important to mention that the territory of what would eventually become Belgium had regularly been a battleground between the competing European powers of the Netherlands, the pre-unification German states, France, the UK, and even Spain and Austria during their control of this region, and this new country’s creation was widely considered by some to be nothing more than a buffer state. The 1830 London Conference between the UK, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia saw the Great Power of the time recognize the fledgling entity as an independent actor, with Paris even militarily intervening to protecting it during Amsterdam’s failed “Ten Day’s Campaign” to reclaim its lost southern province in summer 1831. For as artificial of a political construction as Belgium was, it fared comparatively well during the 19th century as it leveraged its copious coal supplies and geostrategic position to rapidly industrialize and eventually become a genocidal African colonizer in the Congo. Although it was devastated in both World Wars, Belgium was able to bounce back in a relatively short period of time, partly because it could rely on its Congolese prison state.

In The Belly Of The Beast

Flash forward to the present, and the only thing that modern-day Belgium has in common with its past self is its internal divisions. The post-colonial aftermath of “losing the Congo” and shortly beforehand agreeing to host the capital of the European Union opened up previously nationalistic Belgium to liberal-globalist influence, which contributed to what would eventually become its utter domestic dysfunction in recent years. It wasn’t by chance that Brussels was chosen as the EU’s headquarters either, since its inherent weakness was thought to make it an ideal “compromise country” for establishing the bloc’s headquarters, as it would never become as powerful as France, for example, in potentially monopolizing the international organization’s agenda. Again, Belgium’s history as a buffer state/region came into relevant play in positioning it “in the belly of the beast” that’s nowadays reviled by all sorts of individuals across the continent.

The administrative disconnect between its northern region of Flanders and the southern one of Wallonia, as well as what would eventually become its multi-tiered federal, regional, and community structure, was exploited by the EU’s ideologically extreme elite to make the country the centerpiece of their “multicultural experiment”. After decades of facilitating mass migration from civilizationally dissimilar societies of the “Global South”, 5.9% of the country is Muslim while at least an astonishing 20% of Brussels follows Islam. Almost all of the capital’s Muslims are immigrants, mostly from Morocco and Turkey, which isn’t surprising considering that 70% of Brussels’ inhabitants are foreign-born. Unfortunately for the native locals, the “multicultural experiment” has failed miserably, and Belgium is now Europe’s jihadist leader in terms of the per capita number of fighters who have travelled abroad to join Daesh.  All things considered, the “utopia” that the Belgians were promised by joining the EU and hosting its headquarters has turned into a dystopia, and the country now finds itself in the belly of the liberal-globalist beast.

It’s little wonder than that some of Belgium’s population wants to escape from the organization which is responsible for their socio-cultural and security challenges, ergo the Flemish independence movement which aims to see the country’s northern region become an independent state because of the lopsided demographic-economic advantage that it has over Wallonia. Flanders contributes four times as much to Belgium’s national economy as Catalonia does to Spain’s, being responsible for a whopping 80% of the country’s GDP as estimated by the European Commission, and it also accounts for roughly two-thirds of Belgium’s total population unlike Catalonia’s one-sixth or so. This means that Flemish independence would be absolutely disastrous for the people living in the remaining 55% of the “Belgian” rump state, which would for all intents and purposes constitute a de-facto, though unwillingly, independent Wallonia. Therefore, it’s important to forecast what could happen if Belgium ultimately implodes with Flanders’ possible secession.

Breaking The Buffer State

This section should appropriately be prefaced by emphasizing that there’s no guarantee that Flanders will actually secede from Belgium, or that it would be successful in holding an unconstitutional referendum such as the one that Catalonia did in attempting to “legitimize” its anti-state ambitions. Furthermore, the Belgian state or its EU superstate overseer might resort to force just as Madrid did in trying to prevent this region’s secession, so the reader shouldn’t take it for granted that Flanders will inevitably become an independent state. Having gotten the “disclaimer” out of the way, however, there’s a very real chance that the “Catalan Chain Reaction” will spread to the “belly of the beast” in catalyzing a similar separatist process in Flanders, hence why the author argued in the introduction that the outcome of such a reenergized post-Catalan movement in this region will be the best barometer in gauging whether the EU’s liberal-globalist elite do indeed plan to “Balkanize” the bloc into an array of regionally “federalized” identity-centric statelets.

Given the domestic and historical particularities of the Belgian case study, it appears likely that Flanders’ successful secession (however it ends up coming about) would lead to a narrow range of geopolitical outcomes for the Western European country. The first one is that Wallonia would be unable to function as a stand-alone “rump”/”independent” state given its measly 20% of unified Belgium’s GDP, its one-third of the previous population, and presumed dependency on Flanders’ port of Antwerp for most economic contact with the “outside world’ aside from France and Germany. For these reasons, it’s conceivable that the French-speaking region could be taken over by France just like how the famous French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord originally envisioned in his unfulfilled eponymous “Talleyrand partition plan” that was first unveiled during the 1830 London Conference. As for Flanders itself, it could either attempt to remain an “independent” state or possibly confederate with the Netherlands, if there was any desire from both parties for this latter option.

Where things get tricky, however, is when it comes to the German-speaking community in eastern Wallonia, which might not want to become part of France. Also, for reasons of sensitive political-historical optics, they probably wouldn’t be able to join Germany because it would carry uncomfortably strong shadows of Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland during the pre-World World II dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Therefore, it’s likely that this sub-region would remain within Wallonia, which itself would probably become part of France, albeit with possible autonomy guaranteed to the German speakers that Paris would be “inheriting”. That said, this isn’t the trickiest part of any Belgian breakup, as the status of Brussels would definitely occupy center stage in this scenario. The EU would be inclined to see to it that its capital becomes an “independent” city-state on par with similarly sized Liechtenstein, though with a much higher and more dangerous Salafist demographic to contend with, one which could make it the “rightful” capital of “Eurabia” if civilizational-geopolitical trends continue in that direction.

Concluding Thoughts

The future of Flanders will be more of a harbinger of the EU’s administrative-political future than Catalonia’s will be, though the latter is indeed the trigger for sparking what might become the former’s emboldened separatist push. If the host country of the EU’s headquarters falls victim to the secessionist trend that might be poised to sweep across the bloc due to the “Catalan Chain Reaction”, then it would confidently indicate that the EU’s ruling liberal-globalist elite are determined to initiate the “controlled Balkanization” of the continent into a constellation of identity-centric statelets so as to ultimately satisfy their long-held goal of implementing a “federation of regions. There is no place in Europe more symbolically significant than Belgium, and especially its jihadist dystopian capital of Brussels, so if the European power structures “allow” Flanders to separate from “the First Bosnia”, then it’s all but certain that the rest of the bloc will feel the geopolitical reverberations within their own borders sooner than later.

Reposts are welcomed with the reference to ORIENTAL REVIEW.

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The Unraveling of American/Russian Relations

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

Dear Readers: I agree that the official Las Vegas story seems to be unraveling. A public mass shooting should be transparent, not opaque. I think we explored the story long enough to discover that without knowing the facts, we cannot arrive at an explanation with confidence.

It is time to move on to another unraveling—that of US/Russian relations. This unraveling is far more serious as it threatens life on earth. I have warned of the consequences of Washington threatening Russia’s security by breaking agreement after agreement, by placing missile bases on Russia’s borders, by orchestrating anti-Russian coups in former Soviet provinces, and by a continuing volley of false accusations against Russia. There is no act more reckless and irresponsible than to make one nuclear power fear nuclear attack from another.

Alert observers have become aware of the mounting danger. Canadian professor Michel Chossudovsky writes that Washington has taken nuclear war from a hypothetical scenario to a real danger that threatens the future of humanity.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who worked with President Ronald Reagan to end the Cold War and the threat of nuclear Armageddon, has appealed to President Trump and President Putin to hold a summit meeting and bring an end to the rising tensions. Gorbachev wrote in the Washington Post that “it is far from normal that the presidents of major nuclear powers meet merely on the margins of international gatherings.” This is especially the case as “relations between the two nations are in a severe crisis.”

Gorbachev’s warning could be an understatement. Last March, General Viktor Poznikhir, the deputy commander of the Russian military’s Operation Command expressed concern that Washington could be preparing a surprise nuclear attack on Russia. See here, here and here.

Had any such statement from the Russian high command been issued anytime during the 20th century Cold War era, the President of the United States would have immediately contacted the Soviet leader and given every assurance that no such plan or intentions toward Russia existed. As far as I can tell, the Trump White House let this ominous announcement pass unremarked. If this is the case, it must have provided confirmation to the Russians’ conclusion.

For some time I have pointed out that the entirety of the West, both the US and its vassal states, continue to ignore very clear Russian warnings. Gilbert Doctorow has made the same point.

Perhaps the most clear of all was Putin’s public statement that “Russia will never again fight a war on its own territory.” If Washington’s EU vassals did not hear this clear warning that they are courting their nuclear destruction—especially the Poles and Romanians who have mindlessly hosted US missile bases—they are as deaf as they are stupid.

One Russian official told the idiot British government to its face that if the British threat to first use nuclear weapons is directed at Russia, if such an attempt is made, Great Britain will disappear from the face of the earth.

There is no doubt that that would be the case.

So why do Washington’s impotent vassals talk tough to Russia, a government that only desires peace and has threatened Britain in no way. Nor has the Russian government threatened France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, or any of the former Eastern European vassals of the Soviet Union that exchanged their captivity to the Soviet Union for captivity to Washington. Russia has not even threatened Ukraine, which Russia could wipe out in a couple of minutes. Why are all of these countries, apparently led by mindless, gutless two-bit politicians, aligned with Washington’s false propaganda against Russia?

The answer is money. The vassals are paid to go along with the lies. As Alain of Lille said as long ago as the 12th century, “not God, not Caesar, but money is all.”

What are the forces driving Washington’s provocation of Russia? There are three, and they comprise a vast conspiracy against life on earth.

One is the Neoconservatives. The Neoconservatives were convinced by the Soviet Collapse that History has chosen not the proletariat but American “democratic capitalism” as the socio-politico-economic system for the world, and that this choice by History conveys on America the status of the “indispensable, exceptional” country, a status that places America above all other countries and above international law and, indeed, America’s own laws.

America is so exceptional that it can torture people in total violation of both US law and international law. The government in Washington can, on suspicion alone without presentation to a court of evidence and conviction, confine US citizens indefinitely, torturing them the entire time, and can assassinate them at will without due process of law. This is the definition of a total police state tyranny. Yet Washington represents America as a “great democracy,” whose endless wars against humanity are “bringing democracy to the world.”

America is so exceptional that it can bomb other countries indiscriminately without officially being at war with those countries.

America is so exceptional that the separation of powers prescribed in the American Constitution can be totally ignored by the executive branch as, the Neoconservatives claim, the President has “unique powers” not limited by the Constitution, which, of course, is just another lie.

Russia, China, and Iran are targets of the Neoconservatives, as were Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and provinces of Pakistan, because these countries have/had independent foreign policies and are/were not Washington’s vassals.

The Neoconservative doctrine states that it is the “principal goal” of US foreign policy “to prevent the rise of Russia or any other state” that can serve as a constraint on Washington’s unilateralism.

The New York Times under this headline on March 8, 1992, explains the Wolfowitz doctrine.

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Hanoi Jottings

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

With only a week and a half in Hanoi, I’ve been out and about almost nonstop. This article, then, is being jotted down at 5:11AM, as I’m lying in bed on my stomach at the Letters Home guesthouse. Stuck in a grim alley in an unfashionable neighborhood, it’s not exactly popular, so about the only noises I’ve heard in Letters Home came from my air conditioner or fan. Only rarely does a motorbike beeping, car honking or dog barking reach me.

Generally speaking, overseas Vietnamese are not allowed to publish in Vietnam. About ten years ago, however, an underground publisher, Giấy Vụn [Scrap Paper], did release a collection of my Vietnamese poems. Since only one critic, Inrasara, had dared to discuss it, I simply assumed my book had been flushed down the memory hole, but since arriving in Hanoi, I’ve been told by several young poets that they value my Lĩnh Linh Chích Khoái very highly. Of course, this gladdens me.

Three days ago, I ran into the young critic, translator and professor Trần Ngọc Hiếu, as he sat at a café near the Lake of the Returned Sword. (Its long-suffering giant turtle has finally died, by the way. He lived alone for decades.) It was clear that Hiếu knew my Viet poems quite well. Though it was our first meeting, we chattered like old friends. Leaving the café, we had goose noodles at some sidewalk stall, then moved to another café, for they’re everywhere in Vietnam.

Facing the street, a Vietnamese coffee house or restaurant displays its patrons to passersby while is itself a grandstand from which you can observe Vietnam’s frantic stream of humanity. Distressingly, some venues are installing plate-glass windows, thus segregating exhilarating, chaotic life from mere commerce.

Poet Bỉm owns a coffee house, Reng Reng. At his suggestion, I showed up one morning to read a short set of my Viet poems, two of which I’ve written since arriving here. “I will chase away your customers,” I said to Bỉm before beginning. “We’re very lucky to have the poet Đinh Linh here,” he announced to his clientele, all of whom were young, with most fashionably dressed. Two, though, were in factory uniforms. “Thank you, uncle,” a woman said to me afterwards. Shaking my hand, a man said the same.

Bỉm took me to an intimate brew pub, Beer Temple, where we had an excellent house-made stout, then a Dutch beer. We snacked on some excellent ham, served with dill pickles, honey and a mournful, defiant mustard. I’ve walked past Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, German, Russian and Czech restaurants. Doner Kebab stands are all over. In 1995, one could hardly find cheese in Hanoi, and I remember wandering into its most sophisticated café to find a peasant sip spilled coffee from his saucer. On the walls were photos of Catherine Deneuve.

Yesterday, I walked into a small, elegant bookstore at the end of a thin, short alley. To my astonishment, the owner immediately recognized my name. After we had chatted a bit, he stated with amusement that he had once been fined for selling my anthology of new Vietnamese fiction, Night, Again. Still grinning, he then asked if I had been dragged in to be questioned by the authorities. “Not yet,” I chuckled. When the Vietnamese-Australian writer, musician and literary webzine editor Hoàng Ngọc Tuấn returned to Vietnam several years ago, the cops interrogated him for hours. Back Down Under, Tuấn emailed me, “They mentioned your name.”

Writer Nguyễn Đình Chính joined the North Vietnamese Army at age 18, fought in the war. He tracked me down to give me a book of his. I’m supposed to come to his house later. It’s nothing for a Vietnamese to welcome you into his home.

As in the US, I’m most interested in how ordinary people are getting by. Yesterday, I talked to a waiter who had spent 13 years altogether in Germany, first as a contract laborer. Sent back to Vietnam after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, he sneaked back into Germany several years later and found work in Vietnamese restaurant. Caught in a raid, the man was deported, so Europe was like a sweat-drenched dream. He won’t likely see it again.

Though not making very much in Hanoi, he has managed to send three kids to college, with two aspiring to become doctors, and the third, a computer programmer. “Germany is closer to Socialism because the rich are willing to share some of their wealth with the poor. Here, the rich just grab and grab. They suck the blood of the poor.” The richest Vietnamese are the top members of the Communist Party, of course.

On a grand, Colonial-era building, there are signs for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Popeyes, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, Thai Village, Coffee Club, HSBC Bank and, incomprehensible to the foreign tourists, “ĐẢNG CỘNG SẢN VIỆT NAM QUANG VINH MUÔN NĂM” [“GLORIES TO THE VIETNAMESE COMMUNIST PARTY FOR TEN THOUSAND YEARS”] They come to dine lavishly in hermetically sealed restaurants. Some buy a Ho Chi Minh photograph, woodblock print or even oil painting. I know a strident, self-proclaimed Communist who flew here to sample opium and a few whores.

Outside the North Korean embassy, there’s a wall-mounted glass case featuring three photos of “Comrade Kim Jong Un, beloved Supreme Leader.” Below him are images of missiles being launched with much white smoke and/or fearful red flame. Watch out, Juneau and perhaps even my Philadelphia hovel! No one but me paid the least attention to this display.

About the only sign of war in central Hanoi is a large hole on the massive North Gate, built in 1805. It was caused by a canon ball fired in 1882 from either the Surprise or Fanfare, two French ships.

Much of Hanoi Hilton has been knocked down to make room for a real, high class hotel, the Somerset Grand. I received an email from Dominic DiTullio, the owner of the Friendly Lounge, my local dive in Philly, “Hello Linh, Hope all is well. I know you are enjoying your trip. As long as the authorities are letting you keep your fingernails. Looking forward to see you again. With stories and pictures. Stay well Dom.”

I replied, “Yo Dom, I’m in the John McCain suite at the Hanoi Hilton. It’s very sparsely furbished, with just a plastic bucket in a corner, and the food is a bit plain. When I begged for a glass of beer, the warden said I was welcome to drink my own piss.”

Always angry and humorless, totalitarianism doesn’t tolerate word plays or any sort of verbal ambiguities. Outlawing witticisms, it insists on righteous bombast. Since Vietnamese must constantly amuse each other with words, they chafed under such an inhuman regime. With Communism’s slackening, the Viet tongue is regaining its playfulness and vitality, and you can see this even on shop signs. There is a Bác Tôm [Uncle Shrimp] natural food store. It’s a play on the English “Uncle Tom,” of course, but a slippery, what-are-you-talking-about? dig at the country’s most famous uncle, for no Vietnamese is ever called Tôm [Shrimp].

In this very polluted city, there’s a guesthouse named Thở [Breathe].

At Club Civilize, there’s a weekly gay leather night dubbed Mensay, which is a two-language triple pun, for “men say” in Vietnamese is simply, “fermenting yeast.” In Vietnamese and English, it becomes “drunken men.” Drunk, fermenting men in leather are saying something. Come inside to find out, I suppose.

As with everywhere else, American culture permeates Vietnam. At Café Trí, there’s a large, static image of Taylor Swift on the television screen. It was almost a shrine. My waitress was a stout lesbian sporting a short haircut. On the next block, five framed photos of Obama graced Bún Chả Hương Liên.

At another hole-in-the-wall coffee house, the KPop group Super Junior were prancing on the television, singing, “Mamacita, nigga, ayayaya!” Sitting on a plastic stool, the young, pony-tailed waitress was mesmerized.

Still, Vietnam is a world away from the US, so almost no one here cares about Donald Trump, transsexual bathroom privilege, Star-Spangled Banner kneeling controversy or Black Lives Matter. Attending an expensive school, a privileged, bi-racial boy saw his American teacher sob at news of Trump victory. She cried alone.

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Obama’s Auto Time Bomb

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

In just seven years’ time – unless Trump does something before his four years are up – the average fuel efficiency of the average car will have to almost double. From 35.5 MPG (now) to 54.5 MPG by 2025. So reads the fuel economy fatwa issued by Trump’s predecessor.

No matter how much it costs, no matter what it takes.

To put this in perspective, as of 2018, there is only one car available that is capable of meeting the 2025 “goal” – as these forced-on-us things are styled: It is the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Nothing else comes close.

Well, except electric cars.

These average infinity – as far as gas consumption goes. Which is very helpful insofar as the averages. The federal fuel economy fatwa is formally the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard, which is an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat by federal regulatory ayatollahs, who have somehow become the arbiters of how much fuel the cars we buy ought to use.

Those cars which use more gas than the arbitrarily decreed figure are subject to punitive “gas guzzler” fines meant specifically to discourage their manufacture as well as their purchase, by making them artificially more expensive to manufacture and more expensive to buy.

In case you wondered, this is why larger vehicles and vehicles with larger engines are becoming both scarce and exotically priced. If you’re young – 30 or less – you probably will not remember but there was a time when most Americans, including working-class Americans, routinely drove large cars with large engines. Bought them brand-new. Smaller cars with smaller engines were also available, but people bought them because that’s what they wanted – not because they were forced to by government fatwas that put larger and larger-engined cars out of their reach, as today.

It is also why suburbanites routinely drive SUVs today. “SUVs” are a made-up class of vehicle that did not exist prior to the CAFE fatwa. The class was made-up by the car industry as a way to get around the fatwa – which (at the time) granted a partial exemption to what were then just trucks, which were considered work vehicles. But if you enclosed the truck’s bed and added seats – you could carry people. Voila!

The SUV.

It took Uncle a few years to catch on – and for the CAFE regs to catch up. In the interim, vast fleets of SUVs hit the streets, because people still wanted large vehicles with large engines and the truck-derived SUV’s ground clearance and available 4×4 only made the combo even more appealing. Certainly more so than the “downsized” (and down-engined) cars the car companies were being forced to build, even though the demand was elsewhere.

Uncle did catch up, of course. The fatwa was changed to envelope SUVs and other “light trucks.” They are now on the endangered species list, too.

As are mid-sized cars with mid-sized engines. It is no random thing that six-cylinder engines, which were as recently as two years ago abundantly available in the mid-sized/family car class of vehicle – are becoming extremely uncommon, if not unavailable. Most of the cars which used to offer them – examples include the Mazda6 and Honda Accord – no longer do.

Read the Whole Article

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Don’t Store Your Gold in Any Bank in Any Country

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

Don’t hold gold in a Swiss Bank or in any bank in any country. We regularly see examples both in medium sized and big Swiss banks that should make bank clients very concerned. Here are some examples:

  • A client stores physical gold in a bank but when he wants us to organise a transfer to private vaults, the gold doesn’t exist and the bank must acquire it.
  • 400 oz gold bars that were bought by the bank for the client in 2005, were cast in 2011, so the gold never existed.
  • A client stores gold in a bank of the highest reputation. The client has a statement that he owns physical gold. When he asks to inspect the gold, he is told that he can’t.
  • The client is told he owns physical gold and silver but actually only has paper metals.
  • Swiss banks are also doing all they can to stop clients taking their gold out. One major bank refuses to transfer gold out if the client isn’t present. Another major bank recently told the client that they don’t transfer client gold out of the bank to anyone, even if the client demands it.
  • Swiss banks tell their clients that physical gold and silver held in the bank vaults on behalf of clients is not on the bank’s balance sheet and based on Swiss law it belongs to the client. Yes, that is correct but how many times have we not seen that banks under pressure use client assets as security for their trading, especially when they are under pressure.

All of the above examples are first hand direct experiences by our company and therefore totally factual. It is not hearsay or rumour spreading – it is all fact.

We are obviously not saying that our experiences above are the norm for Swiss banks. But what we are saying is that we have seen too many examples from many reputable banks to trust any bank, Swiss or foreign, or to feel comfortable with storing wealth preservation assets inside the banking system.

HOLD WEALTH PRESERVATION ASSETS OUTSIDE THE BANKING SYSTEM

Gold and silver are wealth preservation assets. Therefore, they must not be held within a rotten and massively leveraged financial system. Physical gold and silver must be held in the most secure private vaults outside the banking system and with personal access to the metals by the beneficial owner.

It is obviously no use to own a share in one or many 400 oz gold bars. Gold investors must have their own bars and preferably of smaller denominations like 100 grams or 1 oz. If gold is ever needed as money or barter, 400 ounce or even 1 kilo bars are just too big.

Switzerland probably has the best political system in the world and the economy is very well run. Just a pity that the Swiss National Bank and the Swiss banking system have totally abandoned the old type Swiss Banking which was based on conservatism, service and personal liability. Previously, the partners in the Swiss private banks were personally liable for the bank’s balance sheet. If all banks in the world were run on that model, there would seldom be a financial crisis. Banks would be run with prudence and conservatism. But instead we have a system with bank management leveraging the capital hundreds of times, if derivatives are included. Profits are then privatised and losses are socialised, i.e. picked up by government or depositors. The old Swiss banking model was superb but was totally destroyed by the US government going after many Swiss bankers and asset managers. Interestingly, no one has gone after the management of all the major US banks which has cost the world $10s of billons in 2007-9.

As I discussed in a recent article, the Swiss National Bank is the world’s biggest hedge fund and the Swiss Banks are too big for the country. This is sadly the result of the US model, as well as greed, having taken over the Western financial system.

The Swiss banking system is 5-6x Swiss GDP which is too big for the country. This was the size of the Cypriot banking system when it collapsed in 2013. Sadly, Swiss banks are as risky as all major international banks and not the place to hold major assets, in our view.

SWISS ECONOMY – THE BEST IN THE WORLD

On the other hand, if you look at the Swiss economy and political system, it is probably the best managed country in the world. Just recently I had real evidence of events that happen in no other country. The Swiss Vat (value added tax) rate will be reduced from 8% to 7.7% as from January 1st, 2018. We also received a letter from our office landlord in Zurich that the rent would be reduced. In what other country in the world are taxes and rent reduced? None of course since everything goes up in line with debt creation and money printing. But not in Switzerland because it is a well-managed country, ruled by the people and not by an irresponsible government.

The Vat reduction was the result of a recent referendum week, rejecting a Vat increase to finance state pensions. The government backed proposal was kicked out by the Swiss people and as a result, rather than increasing Vat to 8.3%, it was reduced to 7.7%. In the rest of Europe, a Vat reduction is unheard of. Vat started as a low sales tax in many European countries and gradually increased to levels of 20-27%. But not only has no other country lowered Vat but every time any tax is increased, the people have no say. Taxation is decided by parliament in most countries.

The system of direct democracy in Switzerland makes it the best managed country in the world. Government has less power than in any other Western country. The position of President changes every year among the 7-member coalition cabinet. The Role of the President is ceremonial.

The Swiss Parliament meets 4 times per year for three weeks. The daily sessions during that time are relatively short. That is a total of 12 weeks that the elected members need to “run” the country. This is refreshingly short compared to most other nations in the world. Much of the political and fiscal direction of the country is determined by the Cantons (local States) which also receive most of the tax revenues.

GOLD CORRECTION HAS FINISHED

For many people who own gold, the wait seems very long for the gold price to reflect the massive money printing we have seen since 2007. Yes, it is true that gold in US dollars has looked lacklustre since 2012-2013. But we must put that into perspective. The dollar has since 2014 strengthened within its long-term downtrend. The dollar’s temporary rise most probably finished at the beginning of 2017 and at some point, in the next few years, it is likely to hit a black hole and disappear into oblivion as China, Russia and other countries kill the Petrodollar.

But even with a temporarily strong dollar, gold has performed very well, even when measured in dollars. After having gone up 7x (monthly close) between 1999 and 2011, there was a 4-year correction to 2015. In time, this correction was 36% of the 1999-2011 period which is very near the normal Fibonacci 38% period that would be expected. So although it has seemed long, it is timewise what would be expected.

Gold in dollars is still 30% off the monthly high close but that gap is likely to be closed fairly quickly.

Read the Whole Article

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The Endgame of Financialization

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

This is the new model of nationalization: central banks control the valuation of private-sector assets without actually having to own them lock, stock and barrel.

As you no doubt know, central banks don’t actually print money and toss it out of helicopters; they create a digital liability and use this new currency to buy assets such as bonds and stocks. Central banks have found that they can take control of the stock and bond markets by buying up as much as these markets as is necessary to force price and yield to do the central banks’ bidding.

Central Banks Have Purchased $2 Trillion In Assets In 2017. This increases their combined asset purchases above $15 trillion. A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money–especially if you add in assets purchased by sovereign wealth funds, dark pools acting on behalf of monetary authorities, etc.

Gordon Long and I discuss this stealth nationalization in our latest video program, The Results of Financialization: “Nationalization” (35 min):

In the old model of nationalization, governments expropriated/seized privately owned assets lock, stock and barrel. When a central state nationalized an enterprise, it took total ownership of the asset.

In today’s globalized financial world, such crude expropriation is avoided for two reasons:

1. The entire point of the dominant neoliberal / neofeudal /neocolonial model is to maintain private ownership as a means of transferring the wealth to the New Aristocracy, i.e. the financier class. Government ownership certainly conveys benefits to the some are more equal than others functionaries atop the state’s wealth-power pyramid, but it doesn’t transfer the assets’ income streams to private hands.

2. It sends the wrong message: central banks want private investors to do their bidding, i.e. to go along with the transfer of wealth and income from the many to the few (the New Aristocracy). Maintaining the system of private ownership enables the central banks to control the markets for these assets at the modest cost of a few handfuls of the loot being distributed to the small-fry owners of IRAs, 401K retirement accounts, etc.

Read the Whole Article

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6 Questions About the Vegas Massacre

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

Survival Saturday is a round-up of the week’s news and resources for folks who are interested in being prepared.

This Week in the News

You know, I tried to keep from going full-on tinfoil with the Las Vegas massacre, but they’re making that completely impossible.

Sure, there were questions from the very beginning. A lot of things didn’t quite add up, but there is an investigatory process in such events. But… how is it that every single thing has been upended? This story is unraveling like a frayed sweater in a basket with a litter of kittens.

Here are the 6 questions about the Vegas Massacre that make me wonder what on earth they’re trying to hide from us.

1.) Why do witnesses keep disappearing?

It is a proven fact that many people who go through something as horrific as this attack don’t remember things clearly. People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often experience deficits in accuracy and this event was nothing if not traumatic. Lots of people reported having no idea what was going on. They thought the noise was firecrackers at first. Confusion and fear colored their memories and their only focus was on surviving. We’ve all heard someone describe an event, saying, “It was all a blur.”

But there were a few witnesses who had a very clear recall of the event and they are telling very different stories. Stories of multiple shooters. Stories of shooters right in the crowd. Stories of early police reports that could have prevented the entire tragedy.

Jesus Campo was the security guard who was shot in the leg when he approached Paddock’s room. (One reporter found that Campo either was not in the employee database or had been removed.) He had scheduled interviews with the media and then didn’t show upOne reporter said there was a gag order on Campo and his family but this has not been verified. No one seems to know the whereabouts of Campo.

Another eyewitness was 28-year old Kymberley Suchomel, who had attended the music festival. She told a very detailed story of multiple shooters, actual fireworks as a distraction. She escaped unharmed only to die unexpectedly in her home a week later “of natural causes.”

These people aren’t alone in their stories that don’t match the official narrative. Read this article and watch this video for more eyewitness stories. And guys…be careful.

2.) Why does the timeline keep changing so dramatically?

Obviously, investigations are fluid and we learn things as we go on. But there have been some really dramatic changes to the timeline and a lot of apparent CYA (Cover Your A$$) at work.

The first change was the inclusion of the shooting of unarmed security guard Jesus Campo, mentioned above. This dramatically changed the timeline of when officials were notified about a shooter on the 32 floor.

A veteran from two floors below Paddock’s room tried to notify the front desk and 911 regarding the origin of the shootings and recalls no one answering. He said :

“It seems like it just never stops,” he recalled. “Seconds are going by, minutes are going by, and the rounds are continuously going.”

“Changing weapons, changing calibers,” Bethel continued. “You can hear the difference in the gunshots of the different rifles that he is shooting.” (source)

There were also changes to the story about when Paddock checked into his suite at Mandalay Bay.

If you watch this video, a maintenance man at Mandalay Bay said that he called for help – stating that he and Jesus Campo called in being under fire more than 10 minutes before the shooter began unloading his weapon on concert-goers. It wasn’t until a recording was unearthed of Stephen Schuck calling for help with gunshots in the background that the official timeline was changed…again.

3.) Why don’t the recordings match the official story?

The audio recordings from the shooting are graphic… and many of them don’t match the official story.

This is a condensed version of the audio.

Notice how they mention multiple shooters and multiple locations. How much of that is battle fog and how much is real?

4.) Why were the laptops and phones of witnesses wiped before they were returned?

If you only learn one lesson, learn this one. If you ever witness an event like this, upload your video and photos immediately. If your story differs from the one that authorities are telling, your proof will be gone once they get their hands on your devices.

Workers at the Route 91 festival during which Stephen Paddock unleashed his massacre have reportedly been given back their phones and laptops by the FBI only to discover that all messages and videos from the night of the attack have been wiped clean.

According to a Las Vegas resident who posted a status update on Facebook, “A bunch of people that worked the Route 91 said they got their cell phones back today. They all said that all their phones are completely wiped clean! All messages and info from that weekend are completely gone. Anyone else experience this?”

“A few different people who were vendors there are all saying the same thing,” the woman later comments. (source)

What did these people record that is counter to the official narrative? Do they even know they caught something that they shouldn’t have?

5.) What about these excellent questions that aren’t being answered?

Alternative media is asking the questions that the mainstream is not. From Ann Coulter:

Why would Paddock unload 200 rounds into the hallway at a security guard who was checking on someone else’s room before beginning his massacre?

How can it possibly take eight days to figure out when the alleged shooter checked into the hotel?

Why was Paddock wearing gloves if he was about to commit suicide?

Have any other solitary mass shooters ever had girlfriends?

If Paddock wasn’t making money on video poker — and he wasn’t — why would he be cycling millions of dollars through a casino, turning every dollar into, at best, 99 cents?

As well, check out Brandon Smith’s brilliant tactical analysis, which has many other unanswered questions like:

Paddock called hotel security at least twice to complain about “loud music” on the floor below him the day of the shooting.  Why would a mass shooter care, or take the risk of drawing too much attention to himself?

Why, after so much careful planning, did Paddock expose his position by smashing two separate windows in his adjacent hotel rooms? There are other ways of providing a shooter’s loophole with less exposure?

Who set off this alarm which conveniently helped to give away Paddock’s position early, and why?

Why did Paddock prepare for an escape, use his cameras to allow him to fire at hotel security through his door, equip rounds capable of annihilating any SWAT team that stacked up to breach his room, but decided to shoot himself instead before SWAT ever entered?…No one noticed the man placing cameras about the area?

A witness on site at the concert stated that a woman (and her apparent boyfriend) approached people near the stage 45 minutes before the attack, telling them that “they were all going to die.” She was later escorted out of the venue by security. Who was this woman? Was she trying to menace the concertgoers or warn them? Or, was it all coincidence?

Despite the fact that these questions get right to the heart of method and motive, no one else seems to be asking them.

6.) WHY?

Most of all, WHY? Why the heck did this rich gambler who had no history of hurting anyone or being a hardcore gun guy unload thousands of rounds on 22,000 innocent people?

There is little in his history that would make us think, “Yeah, that guy is gonna go postal one day.”

Everyone who knew him was stunned. Baffled. Gobsmacked. Everyone from his weird brother to his foreign girlfriend to neighbors and fellow travelers were absolutely astounded he had committed this horrific massacre.

Then some stuff arose that has been pooh-poohed by investigators as unrelated.

  • Paddock doesn’t fit the psychological profile of a mass shooter. He had a girlfriend, was wealthy, had no known tactical background, and was described as “kind and caring.”
  • He made numerous trips to the Middle East and Europe.
  • No one really knows how he got so rich. GamblingReal estate? Or something more insidious? Unproven rumors suggest he could have been an arms dealer or a child trafficker.
  • The Islamic State has repeatedly claimed he converted in the past 6 months and did this in the name of ISIS, but the media says this is not true. No one in the investigation even seems to be considering the possibility. As well, a former Trump campaign official said that Paddock made an ISIS video, but nothing else has been heard about this.

Couldn’t you wrap your head around this better if you knew why?

It just doesn’t add up.

I’m not saying that our own government committed this atrocity or that Stephen Paddock was a converted Muslim or that he didn’t actually carry out this shooting.

I have no idea what to say, honestly. I mean, the FBI and the Vegas PD assure us there is “no conspiracy” and “nobody is attempting to hide anything.”

But…

There are way too many things that don’t add up, but what I can say is that we aren’t getting the whole story. And that in itself makes me suspicious. What are they hiding? Was the motive something that would change our perspective on everything we believe?

It’s got to be big to go to this much effort.

Reprinted with permission from The Organic Prepper.

The post 6 Questions About the Vegas Massacre appeared first on LewRockwell.

The Happiness Diet

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

Low mood and depression are common problems for many people of all ages.

If you struggle with feelings of depression, loss of motivation and enthusiasm, or if you have difficulty finding joy in everyday life it’s time to rethink your diet.

Our diet and lifestyle can have a profound effect on our mood and research reveals there’s a direct link between what we eat and how we feel.

In fact, studies suggest people with depression often make food choices that can actually make them feel worse.

Fortunately, there are many foods that can put a smile on your face and make your body feel awesome.

These foods provide you with the right nutrients or co-factors the body needs to produce neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that give up a natural lift.

Depression affects around one in 10 adults with estimates that up to 50 percent of the population will experience at least one episode of depression during their lives. 

Mainstream medicine still relies upon psychoactive drugs that not only have a success rate of 50 percent or less but are fraught with potential side effects.

Current research suggests depression is actually linked to an array of underlying factors including inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, poor methylation and hormone imbalances.

By tackling these underlying imbalances you can improve overall brain health and boost mood too.

This is the basis of Functional Nutritionist and Chef Christine Bailey’ s new book The Brain Boost Diet.

Using evidence based research on brain health and proactive lifestyle and dietary changes you can make a profound difference to how you think and feel whatever your age.

If you’re looking to eat your way to happiness Christine has developed a three-day Mood Boosting Diet to kick start a happier you.

6 healthy eating strategies to boost your mood

1. Avoid processed foods

Avoiding blood sugar imbalances is one of the quickest ways to notice an immediate improvement in mood.

This means ditching the refined sugary carbohydrates, white starch, fruit juices and sugary smoothies and instead basing your meals around lean proteins, healthy fats (like oily fish, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds) and plenty of antioxidant rich vegetables.

2. Stop being fat phobic

Around 60 percent of your brain is fat – mostly comprised of phospholipids and omega 3 fats. Deprive your body of these healthy fats and your focus, concentration and mood will suffer.

Healthy fats are particularly beneficial to the brain and you can get your daily dose from three different oils – olive oil, coconut oil, and omega 3 rich oils such as oily fish.

Extra-virgin olive oil, which is a good source of polyphenols and monounsaturated fats helps protect the brain cells and lower inflammation.

Coconut oil is rich in special fats called MCT or medium-chain triglycerides that can improve your brain function.

Essential omega-3 fats present in oily fish (e.g sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout, halibut, anchovies) walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds have been shown in studies to boost mood and tackle depression.

Read the Whole Article

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Stiff Joints, Aching Bones, Thyroid Trouble?

LewRockwell.com - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:01

By Dr. Mercola

Today, 74 percent of Americans on community water systems receive fluoridated water.1 Since 1945, it has been widely accepted in the U.S. that fluoride is “safe and effective” to prevent tooth decay. But is it really?

The 2015 documentary, “Fluoride: Poison on Tap,” seeks to expose what may be one of the longest-running and most successful deceptions known to mankind — adding industrial waste, in the form of fluoride, to public drinking water. You may be shocked at the lengths to which corporations, industry and government have gone to make this industrial waste product appear beneficial to your health.

Fluoride = Health: How Did We Get Here?

You may be surprised to know the first American commercial use of fluoride, in the form of sodium fluoride, was to kill insects, lice, mice and other vermin. It was quite effective. In the 1930s, aluminum-industry giant Alcoa was the largest producer of fluoride, releasing vapors into the atmosphere that crippled or killed farm animals and scorched crops and other vegetation. In those early years, many lawsuits were brought against Alcoa to recover damages from lost animals and crops.

Growing concerns about the seemingly negative effects of fluoride gas on human beings motivated the company to devise a means of recycling this potent industrial byproduct. The brainchild of water fluoridation was Gerald Cox, a researcher with the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh. He received a request to look at fluoride’s effects on teeth from Alcoa lab director Francis Frary, who was concerned about mounting lawsuits related to the fluoride pollution his plant produced.

Another motivation was the reality that disposing of fluoride waste from its aluminum plants was becoming increasingly costly for Alcoa. Previously, the Mellon Institute had been the leading defender of the asbestos industry, producing research showing asbestos was harmless and worker health problems were purportedly due to other causes. Using “science” as a smokescreen, the Mellon Institute was able to save the asbestos industry from financial catastrophe.

As a result of their success in using science to prop up the asbestos industry at that time, it makes sense Alcoa chose Cox and the Mellon Institute to craft a story around the perceived health benefits of fluoride. To ensure their success, Alcoa executives realized public opinion about fluoride had to be carefully and continuously manipulated.

In a bold move, they hired public-relations pioneer Edward Bernays, who later became known as the “father of spin,” to head the U.S. water fluoridation campaign. Using psychological principles targeted at what he called, the “mass mind,” Bernays was quite successful in attracting public support for the widespread consumer use of fluoride.2

The Beginning of Water Fluoridation

By the 1950s and ’60s, when the practice of releasing fluoride vapors into the air was reined in due to the introduction of air pollution technology, fluoride had already been added to U.S. drinking water. In January 1945, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first of thousands of U.S. municipalities to proudly add fluoride to its community water source, under the guise of preventing tooth decay.

As technology has advanced, fluoride acid, also known as hydrofluorosilicic acid, is now caught in wet scrubbers, which curtails air emissions. As such, companies like Cargill, Mosaic and Pencco are able to barrel up and sell fluoride to cities across the U.S. which, in turn, add this unrefined hazardous material to their community water supplies.3 You may be shocked to learn that the fluoride added to your water is not pharmaceutical grade.

Indeed, most of the fluoride added to municipal drinking water is simply an unrefined, highly toxic, industrial waste product. Some of the contaminants that accompany the fluoride added to your drinking water likely include aluminum, arsenic, lead and radionucleotide, among others. As noted in the film, water fluoridation was invented as a profitable recycling venue for toxic waste. Instead of having to pay for proper disposal, this industrial waste is sold for profit, and “disposed of” by being dispersed into drinking water.

Fluoride May Be in More Than Just Your Drinking Water

Should you be fortunate to live far from industrial plants where fluoride is handled and lucky enough to reside in a community where fluoride has not been added to your water, you may still get dosed with fluoride. How? Because it’s in beverages and processed foodssuch as cereal, beer, juice and soda. In fact, anything manufactured with fluoridated water will add to your body’s fluoride toxicity burden.

According to the late Jeff Green, former national director of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, fluoride can also be found in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications, such as the antidepressant Prozac. Additionally, it appeared in the banned diet drug Fen-Phen. Rohypnol, the so-called date-rape drug, also contains fluoride.

Green noted the teenagers responsible for the shootings at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999 were using SSRI drugs at the time, which he suspects may have impacted their mood and behavior. If you live in the U.S., nearly 95 percent of all toothpaste sold in this country also contains fluoride. Increasingly, dentists are adding fluoride to their cement and filling materials, and fluoride-containing varnishes are often added to children’s teeth.

Common Misconceptions About Water Fluoridation

It’s a common misconception that fluoride is added to drinking water worldwide. Nothing could be further from the truth. Says Paul Connett, Ph.D., retired chemistry professor and executive director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN):4

“Water fluoridation is a peculiarly American phenomenon. It started at a time when asbestos lined our pipes, lead was added to gasoline, PCBs filled our transformers, and DDT was deemed so ‘safe and effective’ that officials felt no qualms spraying kids in school classrooms and seated at picnic tables. One by one all of those chemicals have been banned, but fluoridation remains untouched.”

As stated by Connett, the U.S. is one of just eight countries worldwide in which more than half of its population is exposed to fluoride through their drinking water. The other seven countries that fluoridate drinking water are Australia, Colombia, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand.

Water fluoridation has actually been banned in most European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, just to name a few. According to biological dentist Dr. James Rota, these countries, as well as China and Japan, have concluded the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water is “ineffective, toxic and should not be used.” FAN underscores the limited scope and value of adding fluoride to drinking water, noting:5

  • Nearly 378 million people, representing just 5 percent of the world’s population, drink artificially fluoridated water
  • More people drink fluoridated water in the U.S. than in the rest of the world combined
  • Western nations that fluoridate their water have rates of tooth decay similar to those that do not add fluoride to their water6

The Effects of Fluoride on Your Body

Given that fluoride is handled as a hazardous material and labeled accordingly, the lack of transparency about its health effects is a true public health travesty.   According to Rota, several of the scientifically-proven health effects of fluoride are already known. He asserts fluoride has been shown to:

  • Accelerate the aging process
  • Cause genetic damage
  • Contribute to arthritis and joint pain
  • Increase the incidence of cancer and tumor growth
  • Interrupt DNA repair

With respect to fluoride’s presumed link to arthritis and joint pain, Connett stated:

“The first sign fluoride has poisoned your bones is that you have pain in your joints, stiffness in your joints and pain in your bones … And the doctor will simply tell you that you have joint pain … We have millions of people in the U.S. and in other fluoridated countries who have joint pain —1 in 3 adults on average. But nobody’s ever conclusively looked to see if these arthritis cases have particularly been caused by or exacerbated by fluoride. They just don’t want to look.”

The spike in the number of cases of hypothyroidism in the U.S. has also been loosely linked to fluoride. FAN noted that studies investigating fluoride’s impact on thyroid hormone levels support the belief that fluoride has an “antithyroid” effect under certain circumstances.7

Particularly in instances where your iodine levels are low, fluoride will likely have a greater negative impact on your thyroid. About the probable link between fluoride and hypothyroidism, Dr. Spyros Mezitis, endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said:

“Clinicians … should emphasize to patients this association and should test patients for underactive thyroid. Patients should probably be advised to drink less fluoridated water and consume less fluoridated products, including toothpaste. … [S]tudies have also shown that iodine deficiency, that may be caused by extra ingestion of fluoride, is related to hypothyroidism.” 

Fluorosis: Are Your Children Affected?

Research8 presented at the 2017 National Oral Health Conference highlighted the reality that increasingly more young people between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from dental fluorosis. Data from 2011 to 2012 indicate that 57 percent of youth are affected by fluorosis, while according to recorded data, just 37 percent were impacted from 1999 to 2004.

Fluorosis results when tooth enamel becomes progressively weakened and discolored. It is often characterized by white spots and yellow or brown discoloration. About fluorosis, FAN states:9

“Fluorosis is a defect of tooth enamel caused by too much fluoride intake during the first eight years of life. Although fluorosis can be cosmetically treated, the damage to the enamel is permanent. Common causes of fluorosis include: fluoridated drinking water (particularly during infancy), ingestion of fluoride toothpaste, use of fluoride tablets and consumption of processed foods made with fluoridated water.”

Often, dentists and public health officials brush off fluorosis as a purely aesthetic issue, one they believe is a worthy trade-off for the supposed benefits of fluoride. In reality, fluorosis is an outward sign that fluoride is damaging not only your teeth, but also most certainly, to some degree, the rest of your body.

Caution: Fluoride Is Extremely Harmful for Infants

Fluorosis is also a huge concern for infants because it is a condition that can progress well before your baby’s teeth are visible. Instances of children developing fluorosis due to the consumption of fluoridated “nursery water” are well documented. Breast-feeding is the ideal choice for your baby for many reasons, one of which is that it contains very little, if any, fluoride.

This is by design because infants are extremely vulnerable to neurotoxins. If, however, breast-feeding is not an option for you, and you must use formula, be sure to prepare it using non-fluoridated water. In the book, “The Case Against Fluoride,” Connett explains:

“In the view of many critics of fluoridation … it is reckless to expose infants to levels of fluoride in orders of magnitude higher than that found in breast milk. In the U.S., infants who are fed formula reconstituted with fluoridated tap water receive the highest levels of fluoride (per kilogram bodyweight) in the human population.

Specifically, infants who are fed formula made with fluoridated water at the current level of 1 part-per-million fluoride will receive a dose up to 250 times more than the breastfed infant.”

The Bottom Line About Fluoride in Your Drinking Water

In their closing remarks, some of the experts featured in the documentary did not mince words about their dislike and distrust of fluoridated water. As noted by Connett:

“Once you put a medicine in the drinking water, you can’t control the dose because you can’t control how much water people drink. You can’t control who gets it because it goes to everybody. If you ask your pharmacist if there’s any drug in his store that is safe enough to give to everyone — young people, old people, sick people, well people — at any dose, he’d laugh at you.”

Said Phyllis Mullenix, Ph.D., a pharmacologist and toxicologist: “There is absolutely no drug on the market that is given as ‘one dose fits all.'” In his earlier writings, Connett shared five reasons he believes fluoridation of community water systems is unethical:10

  1. It violates your right to informed consent to medication
  2. The municipality cannot control the dose of fluoride you personally receive
  3. The municipality cannot track the effects of fluoride on you individually
  4. It ignores the fact that some people are more vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic effects than others; you may suffer while others may benefit from its addition to the water supply
  5. It violates the Nuremberg code for human experimentation

It’s Easy to Safeguard Your Oral Health Without Fluoride

When it comes to good oral hygiene and preventing cavities, drinking fluoridated water and brushing your teeth with toxic toothpaste, which contains fluoride, is definitely not the answer. Your toothbrush and natural fluoride-free toothpaste are important, but don’t be misled by thinking they’re the only options for dental health.

Many natural substances, such as the foods you eat, also have the power to drastically improve not only the health of your teeth and gums, but the rest of your body too. The key to maintaining or improving your oral health hinges on the attention you give to your diet and proper dental care. Areas you may want to consider include:

  • Eating raw, organic foods
  • Avoiding sugary foods and processed foods, many of which contain fluoride
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth daily, ideally twice a day
  • Rinsing your mouth after meals and, at night, with a solution of baking soda and water to alkalize the pH in your mouth
  • Oil pulling with coconut oil, which reduces bacterial growth in your mouth, strengthens your teeth, reduces inflammation in your gums and naturally whitens your teeth
  • Receiving regular dental checkups, ideally from a mercury-free, biological dentist

Sources and References

The post Stiff Joints, Aching Bones, Thyroid Trouble? appeared first on LewRockwell.

Chris Hedges: Elites "Have No Credibility Left"

Zerohedge - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 00:30

Chris Hedges and David North via TruthDig.com,

On Monday, WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman David North interviewed Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, lecturer and former New York Times correspondent. Among Hedges’ best-known books are War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, The Death of the Liberal Class, Empire of Illusion: the End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, which he co-wrote with the cartoonist Joe Sacco, and Wages of Rebellion: the Moral Imperative of Revolt.

In an article published in Truthdig September 17, titled “The Silencing of Dissent,” Hedges referenced the WSWS coverage of Google’s censorship of left-wing sites and warned about the growth of “blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of ‘fake news.’”

Hedges wrote that “the Department of Justice called on RT America and its ‘associates’ - which may mean people like me - to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. No doubt, the corporate state knows that most of us will not register as foreign agents, meaning we will be banished from the airwaves. This, I expect, is the intent.”

North’s interview with Hedges began with a discussion of the significance of the anti-Russia campaign in the media.

David North: How do you interpret the fixation on Russia and the entire interpretation of the election within the framework of Putin’s manipulation?

Chris Hedges: It’s as ridiculous as Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It is an absolutely unproven allegation that is used to perpetuate a very frightening accusation—critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism are foreign agents for Russia.

I have no doubt that the Russians invested time, energy and money into attempting to influence events in the United States in ways that would serve their interests, in the same way that we have done and do in Russia and all sorts of other countries throughout the world. So I’m not saying there was no influence, or an attempt to influence events.

But the whole idea that the Russians swung the election to Trump is absurd. It’s really premised on the unproven claim that Russia gave the Podesta emails to WikiLeaks, and the release of these emails turned tens, or hundreds of thousands, of Clinton supporters towards Trump. This doesn’t make any sense. Either that, or, according to the director of national intelligence, RT America, where I have a show, got everyone to vote for the Green Party.

This obsession with Russia is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working men and women and poor people of color. It is the result of disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA that abolished good-paying union jobs and shipped them to places like Mexico, where workers without benefits are paid $3.00 an hour. It is the result of the explosion of a system of mass incarceration, begun by Bill Clinton with the 1994 omnibus crime bill, and the tripling and quadrupling of prison sentences. It is the result of the slashing of basic government services, including, of course, welfare, that Clinton gutted; deregulation, a decaying infrastructure, including public schools, and the de facto tax boycott by corporations. It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy. The nativist revolt on the right, and the aborted insurgency within the Democratic Party, makes sense when you see what they have done to the country.

Police forces have been turned into quasi-military entities that terrorize marginal communities, where people have been stripped of all of their rights and can be shot with impunity; in fact over three are killed a day. The state shoots and locks up poor people of color as a form of social control. They are quite willing to employ the same form of social control on any other segment of the population that becomes restive.

The Democratic Party, in particular, is driving this whole Russia witch-hunt. It cannot face its complicity in the destruction of our civil liberties—and remember, Barack Obama’s assault on civil liberties was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush—and the destruction of our economy and our democratic institutions.

Politicians like the Clintons, Pelosi and Schumer are creations of Wall Street. That is why they are so virulent about pushing back against the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Without Wall Street money, they would not hold political power. The Democratic Party doesn’t actually function as a political party. It’s about perpetual mass mobilization and a hyperventilating public relations arm, all paid for by corporate donors. The base of the party has no real say in the leadership or the policies of the party, as Bernie Sanders and his followers found out. They are props in the sterile political theater.

These party elites, consumed by greed, myopia and a deep cynicism, have a death grip on the political process. They’re not going to let it go, even if it all implodes.

DN: Chris, you worked for the New York Times. When was that, exactly?

CH: From 1990 to 2005.

DN: Since you have some experience with that institution, what changes do you see? We’ve stressed that it has cultivated a constituency among the affluent upper-middle class.

CH: The New York Times consciously targets 30 million upper-middle class and affluent Americans. It is a national newspaper; only about 11 percent of its readership is in New York. It is very easy to see who the Times seeks to reach by looking at its special sections on Home, Style, Business or Travel. Here, articles explain the difficulty of maintaining, for example, a second house in the Hamptons. It can do good investigative work, although not often. It covers foreign affairs. But it reflects the thinking of the elites. I read the Times every day, maybe to balance it out with your web site.

DN: Well, I hope more than balance it.

CH: Yes, more than balance it. The Times was always an elitist publication, but it wholly embraced the ideology of neo-conservatism and neoliberalism at a time of financial distress, when Abe Rosenthal was editor. He was the one who instituted the special sections that catered to the elite. And he imposed a de facto censorship to shut out critics of unfettered capitalism and imperialism, such as Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn. He hounded out reporters like Sydney Schanberg, who challenged the real estate developers in New York, or Raymond Bonner, who reported the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador.

He had lunch every week, along with his publisher, with William F. Buckley. This pivot into the arms of the most retrograde forces of corporate capitalism and proponents of American imperialism, for a time, made the paper very profitable. Eventually, of course, the rise of the internet, the loss of classified ads, which accounted for about 40 percent of all newspaper revenue, crippled the Times as it has crippled all newspapers. Newsprint has lost the monopoly that once connected sellers with buyers. Newspapers are trapped in an old system of information they call “objectivity” and “balance,” formulae designed to cater to the powerful and the wealthy and obscure the truth. But like all Byzantine courts, the Times will go down clinging to its holy grail.

The intellectual gravitas of the paper—in particular the Book Review and the Week in Review—was obliterated by Bill Keller, himself a neocon, who, as a columnist, had been a cheerleader for the war in Iraq. He brought in figures like Sam Tanenhaus. At that point the paper embraced, without any dissent, the utopian ideology of neoliberalism and the primacy of corporate power as an inevitable form of human progress. The Times, along with business schools, economics departments at universities, and the pundits promoted by the corporate state, propagated the absurd idea that we would all be better off if we prostrated every sector of society before the dictates of the marketplace. It takes a unique kind of stupidity to believe this. You had students at Harvard Business School doing case studies of Enron and its brilliant business model, that is, until Enron collapsed and was exposed as a gigantic scam. This was never, really, in the end, about ideas. It was about unadulterated greed. It was pushed by the supposedly best educated among us, like Larry Summers, which exposes the lie that somehow our decline is due to deficient levels of education. It was due to a bankrupt and amoral elite, and the criminal financial institutions that make them rich.

Critical thinking on the op-ed page, the Week in Review or the Book Review, never very strong to begin with, evaporated under Keller. Globalization was beyond questioning. Since the Times, like all elite institutions, is a hermetically sealed echo chamber, they do not realize how irrelevant they are becoming, or how ridiculous they look. Thomas Friedman and David Brooks might as well write for the Onion.

I worked overseas. I wasn’t in the newsroom very much, but the paper is a very anxiety-ridden place. The rules aren’t written on the walls, but everyone knows, even if they do not articulate it, the paper’s unofficial motto: Do not significantly alienate those upon whom we depend for money and access! You can push against them some of the time. But if you are a serious reporter, like Charlie Leduff, or Sydney Schanberg, who wants to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice, to address issues of race, class, capitalist exploitation or the crimes of empire, you very swiftly become a management problem and get pushed out. Those who rise in the organization and hold power are consummate careerists. Their loyalty is to their advancement and the stature and profitability of the institution, which is why the hierarchy of the paper is filled with such mediocrities. Careerism is the paper’s biggest Achilles heel. It does not lack for talent. But it does lack for intellectual independence and moral courage. It reminds me of Harvard.

DN: Let’s come back to this question of the Russian hacking news story. You raised the ability to generate a story, which has absolutely no factual foundation, nothing but assertions by various intelligence agencies, presented as an assessment that is beyond question. What is your evaluation of this?

CH: The commercial broadcast networks, and that includes CNN and MSNBC, are not in the business of journalism. They hardly do any. Their celebrity correspondents are courtiers to the elite. They speculate about and amplify court gossip, which is all the accusations about Russia, and they repeat what they are told to repeat. They sacrifice journalism and truth for ratings and profit. These cable news shows are one of many revenue streams in a corporate structure. They compete against other revenue streams. The head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, who helped create the fictional persona of Donald Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice,” has turned politics on CNN into a 24-hour reality show. All nuance, ambiguity, meaning and depth, along with verifiable fact, are sacrificed for salacious entertainment. Lying, racism, bigotry and conspiracy theories are given platforms and considered newsworthy, often espoused by people whose sole quality is that they are unhinged. It is news as burlesque.

I was on the investigative team at the New York Times during the lead-up to the Iraq War. I was based in Paris and covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East. Lewis Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and maybe somebody in an intelligence agency, would confirm whatever story the administration was attempting to pitch. Journalistic rules at the Times say you can’t go with a one-source story. But if you have three or four supposedly independent sources confirming the same narrative, then you can go with it, which is how they did it. The paper did not break any rules taught at Columbia journalism school, but everything they wrote was a lie.

The whole exercise was farcical. The White House would leak some bogus story to Judy Miller or Michael Gordon, and then go on the talk shows to say, ‘as the Times reported….’ It gave these lies the veneer of independence and reputable journalism. This was a massive institutional failing, and one the paper has never faced.

DN: The CIA pitches the story, and then the Times gets the verification from those who pitch it to them.

CH: It’s not always pitched. And not much of this came from the CIA. The CIA wasn’t buying the “weapons of mass destruction” hysteria.

DN: It goes the other way too?

CH: Sure. Because if you’re trying to have access to a senior official, you’ll constantly be putting in requests, and those officials will decide when they want to see you. And when they want to see you, it’s usually because they have something to sell you.

DN: The media’s anti-Russia narrative has been embraced by large portions of what presents itself as the “left.”

CH: Well, don’t get me started on the American left. First of all, there is no American left—not a left that has any kind of seriousness, that understands political or revolutionary theories, that’s steeped in economic study, that understands how systems of power work, especially corporate and imperial power. The left is caught up in the same kind of cults of personality that plague the rest of society. It focuses on Trump, as if Trump is the central problem. Trump is a product, a symptom of a failed system and dysfunctional democracy, not the disease.

If you attempt to debate most of those on the supposedly left, they reduce discussion to this cartoonish vision of politics.

The serious left in this country was decimated. It started with the suppression of radical movements under Woodrow Wilson, then the “Red Scares” in the 1920s, when they virtually destroyed our labor movement and our radical press, and then all of the purges in the 1950s. For good measure, they purged the liberal class—look at what they did to Henry Wallace—so that Cold War “liberals” equated capitalism with democracy, and imperialism with freedom and liberty. I lived in Switzerland and France. There are still residues of a militant left in Europe, which gives Europeans something to build upon. But here we almost have to begin from scratch.

I’ve battled continuously with Antifa and the Black Bloc. I think they’re kind of poster children for what I would consider phenomenal political immaturity. Resistance is not a form of personal catharsis. We are not fighting the rise of fascism in the 1930s. The corporate elites we have to overthrow already hold power. And unless we build a broad, popular resistance movement, which takes a lot of patient organizing among working men and women, we are going to be steadily ground down.

So Trump’s not the problem. But just that sentence alone is going to kill most discussions with people who consider themselves part of the left.

The corporate state has made it very hard to make a living if you hold fast to this radical critique. You will never get tenure. You probably won’t get academic appointments. You won’t win prizes. You won’t get grants. The New York Times, if they review your book, will turn it over to a dutiful mandarin like George Packer to trash it—as he did with my last book. The elite schools, and I have taught as a visiting professor at a few of them, such as Princeton and Columbia, replicate the structure and goals of corporations. If you want to even get through a doctoral committee, much less a tenure committee, you must play it really, really safe. You must not challenge the corporate-friendly stance that permeates the institution and is imposed through corporate donations and the dictates of wealthy alumni. Half of the members of most of these trustee boards should be in prison!

Speculation in the 17th century in Britain was a crime. Speculators were hanged. And today they run the economy and the country. They have used the capturing of wealth to destroy the intellectual, cultural and artistic life in the country and snuff out our democracy. There is a word for these people: traitors.

DN: What about the impact that you’ve seen of identity politics in America?

CH: Well, identity politics defines the immaturity of the left. The corporate state embraced identity politics. We saw where identity politics got us with Barack Obama, which is worse than nowhere. He was, as Cornel West said, a black mascot for Wall Street, and now he is going around to collect his fees for selling us out.

My favorite kind of anecdotal story about identity politics: Cornel West and I, along with others, led a march of homeless people on the Democratic National Convention session in Philadelphia. There was an event that night. It was packed with hundreds of people, mostly angry Bernie Sanders supporters. I had been asked to come speak. And in the back room, there was a group of younger activists, one who said, “We’re not letting the white guy go first.” Then he got up and gave a speech about how everybody now had to vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s kind of where identity politics gets you. There is a big difference between shills for corporate capitalism and imperialism, like Corey Booker and Van Jones, and true radicals like Glen Ford and Ajamu Baraka. The corporate state carefully selects and promotes women, or people of color, to be masks for its cruelty and exploitation.

It is extremely important, obviously, that those voices are heard, but not those voices that have sold out to the power elite. The feminist movement is a perfect example of this. The old feminism, which I admire, the Andrea Dworkin kind of feminism, was about empowering oppressed women. This form of feminism did not try to justify prostitution as sex work. It knew that it is just as wrong to abuse a woman in a sweatshop as it is in the sex trade. The new form of feminism is an example of the poison of neoliberalism. It is about having a woman CEO or woman president, who will, like Hillary Clinton, serve the systems of oppression. It posits that prostitution is about choice. What woman, given a stable income and security, would choose to be raped for a living? Identity politics is anti-politics.

DN: I believe you spoke at a Socialist Convergence conference where you criticized Obama and Sanders, and you were shouted down.

CH: Yes, I don’t even remember. I’ve been shouted down criticizing Obama in many places, including Berkeley. I have had to endure this for a long time as a supporter and speech writer for Ralph Nader. People don’t want the illusion of their manufactured personalities, their political saviors, shattered; personalities created by public relations industries. They don’t want to do the hard work of truly understanding how power works and organizing to bring it down.

DN: You mentioned that you have been reading the World Socialist Web Sitefor some time. You know we are quite outside of that framework.

CH: I’m not a Marxist. I’m not a Trotskyist. But I like the site. You report on important issues seriously and in a way a lot of other sites don’t. You care about things that are important to me—mass incarceration, the rights and struggles of the working class and the crimes of empire. I have read the site for a long time.

DN: Much of what claims to be left—that is, the pseudo-left—reflects the interests of the affluent middle class.

CH: Precisely. When everybody was, you know, pushing for multiculturalism in lead institutions, it really meant filtering a few people of color or women into university departments or newsrooms, while carrying out this savage economic assault against the working poor and, in particular, poor people of color in deindustrialized pockets of the United States. Very few of these multiculturalists even noticed. I am all for diversity, but not when it is devoid of economic justice. Cornel West has been one of the great champions, not only of the black prophetic tradition, the most important intellectual tradition in our history, but the clarion call for justice in all its forms. There is no racial justice without economic justice. And while these elite institutions sprinkled a few token faces into their hierarchy, they savaged the working class and the poor, especially poor people of color.

Much of the left was fooled by the identity politics trick. It was a boutique activism. It kept the corporate system, the one we must destroy, intact. It gave it a friendly face.

DN: The World Socialist Web Site has made the issue of inequality a central focus of its coverage.

CH: That’s why I read it and like it.

DN: Returning to the Russia issue, where do you see this going? How seriously do you see this assault on democratic rights? We call this the new McCarthyism. Is that, in your view, a legitimate analogy?

CH: Yes, of course it’s the new McCarthyism. But let’s acknowledge how almost irrelevant our voices are.

DN: I don’t agree with you on that.

CH: Well, irrelevant in the sense that we’re not heard within the mainstream. When I go to Canada I am on the CBC on prime time. The same is true in France. That never happens here. PBS and NPR are never going to do that. Nor are they going to do that for any other serious critic of capitalism or imperialism.

If there is a debate about attacking Syria, for example, it comes down to bombing Syria or bombing Syria and sending in troops, as if these are the only two options. Same with health care. Do we have Obamacare, a creation of the Heritage Foundation and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, or no care? Universal health care for all is not discussed. So we are on the margins. But that does not mean we are not dangerous. Neoliberalism and globalization are zombie ideologies. They have no credibility left. The scam has been found out. The global oligarchs are hated and reviled. The elite has no counterargument to our critique. So they can’t afford to have us around. As the power elite becomes more frightened, they’re going to use harsher forms of control, including the blunt instrument of censorship and violence.

DN: I think it can be a big mistake to be focused on the sense of isolation or marginalization. I’ll make a prediction. You will have, probably sooner than you think, more requests for interviews and television time. We are in a period of colossal political breakdown. We are going to see, more and more, the emergence of the working class as a powerful political force.

CH: That’s why we are a target. With the bankruptcy of the ruling ideology, and the bankruptcy of the American liberal class and the American left, those who hold fast to intellectual depth and an examination of systems of power, including economics, culture and politics, have to be silenced.

 

Meet The 31-Year-Old Austrian Anti-Immigrant Who Just Became The World's Youngest Leader

Zerohedge - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 00:06

As discussed earlier, Austria's young conservative star, Sebastian Kurz, is now assured of becoming the country's next leader, projections of Sunday’s parliamentary election result showed, but his party is far short of a majority and is likely to seek a coalition with the resurgent far right.

Sebastian Kurz arrives to cast his ballot on Oct. 15.

To his supporters, Kurz is Austria’s Macron: a one-man political phenomenon who is the only thing standing between the country’s resurgent nationalists and power. But to his detractors he is the Austrian Trump, who has hijacked one of the country’s two main parties and refashioned it in his own image. His critics say he is only holding the populists back by adopting their anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.

By taking a hard line on immigration that commingled his campaign with that of the Freedom Party (FPO), 31-year old Foreign Minister Kurz managed to propel his People’s Party to first place and draw some support away from an FPO buoyed by Europe’s migration crisis. Both parties increased their share of the vote from the last parliamentary election in 2013, marking a sharp shift to the right. Chancellor Christian Kern’s Social Democrats were in a close race with the FPO for second place.

Kurz now has a mandate to form a coalition, replace Social Democrat Christian Kern as chancellor and become the world’s youngest government leader.

With the Freedom Party poised to return to government for the first time since 2005, congratulations poured in from European nationalists including France’s Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, while the World Jewish Congress expressed concern. For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the result may chip away at a key ally’s pro-European stance in the years ahead.

Frauke Petry, a former head of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which drew inspiration from its Austrian counterpart, posted congratulations on Twitter. Ronald Lauder, who heads the World Jewish Congress, said the Freedom Party is “full of xenophobes and racists. It is sad and distressing that such a platform should receive more than a quarter of the vote and become the country’s second party,” he said in an emailed statement. “My only hope is that they won’t end up in government.”

While Sunday’s projected result doesn’t guarantee a coalition with the Freedom Party, Kurz has a mandate to form a government after an early election he triggered by breaking up a coalition with the Social Democrats this year. The final tally may still be influenced by postal ballots, which will only be counted on Monday.

“This is a strong mandate for us to bring about change in this country,” Kurz told cheering supporters in Vienna as the results came in. “It’s about establishing a new political style, a new culture. It is our task to work with all others for our country,” Kurz told his supporters, without revealing which way he was leaning on coalition talks.

Austria, one of Europe's wealthiest nations of 8.7 million people, whose capital Vienna is ranked every year among the top 3 cities in which to live, was a gateway into Germany for more than 1 million people during the migration crisis that began in 2015. Many of them were fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere. Austria also took in roughly 1 percent of its population in asylum seekers in 2015, one of the highest proportions on the continent. Many voters say the country was overrun.

Kurz’s strategy of focusing on that issue paid off.

Meanwhile, the FPO was short of its record score of 26.9 percent, achieved in 1999, but still has a good chance of entering government for the first time in more than a decade. The OVP and the Social Democrats are at loggerheads, meaning the FPO is likely to be kingmaker. FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who has accused Kurz of stealing his party’s ideas, declined to be drawn on his preferred partner.

“Anything is possible,” he told ORF. “We are pleased with this great success and one thing is clear: nearly 60 percent of the Austrian population voted for the FPO program.”

"There won’t be a debate to leave the EU, but the Freedom Party is strong enough to demand significant concessions” and may lead Austria to align more often with eastern European countries that have challenged Merkel on issues including migration, said Thomas Hofer, a political consultant in Vienna. “Austria has mostly been an ally of Germany for decades, but that picture could change more often now," Hofer said.

Austria’s two big parties, the People’s Party and the Social Democrats, have governed together for 44 of the 72 years since World War II. While Kurz and Freedom leader Heinz-Christian Strache might shake up Austria’s cozy political order, they broadly agree in pledging business-friendly policies, notably to scrap corporate taxes on retained profits. They’ll also stay in the German-led camp favoring fiscal austerity in the euro area.

* * *

So who is Kurz?

Kurz, dubbed both the "Conservative Macron" and "Austrian Trump" due to his age and his party reform, said: 'I would of course like to form a stable government. If that cannot be done then there are other options,' adding that he planned to talk to all parties in parliament but would first wait for a count of postal ballots that begins on Monday.

The young leader has pledged to cut benefits for all foreigners in Austria and has vowed to stop the European Union meddling in the country's politics.  

In his victory speech, he said: "I can only say, I am really overwhelmed. We campaigned for several months."

"We built a massive movement. We had a goal to be the first ones over the (finish) line on October 15. We have made the impossible possible. Thank you for all your work and for this historic success. Today is not about triumphing over others. But today is the day for real change in our country. Today has given us a strong mandate to change this country, and I thank you for that. We were handed a great responsibility from the voters, and we should all be aware of it. We should also be aware that a lot of people have put their hopes into our movement. I can promise you that I will fight with all my strength and all my commitment for change in this country, and I want to invite you all to come along this path together with me."

Kurz also wants to slash Austria's red tape and keep the EU out of national affairs.

At 31, Kurz is young even by the standards of Europe's recent youth movement, which saw Macron enter the Elysee Palace at the age of 39 and Christian Lindner, 38, lead Germany's liberal Free Democrats (FDP) back into the Bundestag.

Kurz and Lindner showed that young new faces can inject dynamism into old establishment parties that have lost their way with voters.  Kurz rebranded the OVP as the New People's Party and changed its colours from black to turquoise.  Lindner used trendy black-and-white campaign posters that showed him staring at his smartphone to revitalise the FDP's image.

Macron, who formed his own political movement, was able to paint himself as a rebel outsider despite having served for four years under failed French Socialist Francois Hollande.

By taking a hard line on immigration that left little daylight between him and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), 31-year-old Foreign Minister Kurz managed to propel his People's Party to first place and draw some support away from an FPO buoyed by Europe's migration crisis. Both parties increased their share of the vote from the last parliamentary election in 2013, marking a sharp shift to the right. Chancellor Christian Kern's Social Democrats were in a close race with the FPO for second place.

Today Kurz was pictured voting in the Austrian capital Vienna alongside his girlfriend Susanne Thier - a finance ministry worker who he met at the age of 18.


Sebastian Kurz, 31, is set to take power and form an alliance with the far-right.
He is pictured today with his girlfriend Susanne Thier, a finance ministry worker

Without revealing which way he was leaning on coalition talks, the 31-year-old told his supporters: "It is our task to work with all others for our country."

* * *

Earlier

The front runner in Austria’s Sunday election ended his campaign with a familiar message : Sebastian Kurz pledged to make Austria great again. He is set to become the world’s youngest leader, ahead of France’s Emmanuel Macron, who is 39... oh and North Korea's 34-year-old Kim Jong-un, of course.

“I want to put Austria back on top,” he told an adoring crowd in Wiener Neustadt according to the Telegraph. “I want to provide security and order, because the Austrian people deserve it.”

Sebastian Kurz

Austrians are voting Sunday in the country's National Council elections, where according to recent polls the country's 6.4 million voters are likely to ditch the current coalition in favor of a new government backed by anti-immigration nationalists and headed by a 31-year-old Millennial.

Ahead of today's election results, the conservative candidate of the Austrian People's Party (OVP), 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, is leading the polls with Social Democratic Party (SPO) and the right-wing anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPO) battling to secure second place. Polls suggest Kurz will lead his conservative People’s Party to victory in Sunday’s election: a victory by the millennial could lead to the unwind of a decade of Social Democratic-led administrations "that revived the economy but struggled with issues over immigration and welfare" and result in the anti-immigrant Freedom Party becoming a part of the coalition government for the first time in history.

To his supporters, Kurz is Austria’s Macron: a one-man political phenomenon who is the only thing standing between the country’s resurgent nationalists and power. But to his detractors he is the Austrian Trump, who has hijacked one of the country’s two main parties and refashioned it in his own image. His critics say he is only holding the populists back by adopting their anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.

After a surge of support for populist candidates in elections this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany, Austria looks like it will go one further and elect an anti-immigration alliance. The biggest winner will be the aspiring 31-year-old Kurz, who has been Austria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration since 2013, and who is leading his political campaign along the center-right principles which seem to exploit the refugee issue.

Sebastian Kurz, 31, Austria's foreign minister and leader of the People's Party,
greets supporters during his final campaign event in Vienna on Oct. 13

A recent survey by Meinungsraum conducted for GMX.at shows that FPO might secure around 28.5% of the vote, followed by OVP with 26.5%. SPO is expected to attract roughly 20% of the vote. Another poll by Research Affairs/Österreich predicts OVP to secure around 33% of the vote. FPO is predicted to come in second with around 27% , followed by SPO with 23% of the vote.

“People are worried about the future and that is the currency that matters in this election,” said Christoph Hofinger, head of the SORA polling institute in Vienna. “The debate is revolving around the issue of fairness, and a lot is also linked to migration.”

Back in May, Kurz called for a snap election amid tensions with coalition partner, the Social Democrats. The young politician previously backed plans to block refugee routes into Europe and supported a ban on full-face veils. He also supports cracking down on radical Islam, echoing FPO sentiments and luring in nationalist voters.

For the past two years, the issue of how to deal with the influx of migrants has been among the most sensitive in Austrian society. The swell of anxiety over immigration to Austria began building 2015, when almost 70,000 mostly-Muslim refugees sought asylum from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Schools and hospitals in the nation of 8.7 million struggled to accommodate the newcomers, and disagreements over whether it was fair to give immigrants generous welfare support dominate the media.

As a result, voters have gravitated toward promises by both the People’s Party and Freedom to limit the number of immigrants Austria receives and force newcomers to adapt local customs more quickly.

Leading FPO candidate Heinz-Christian Strache gained massive support ahead of the election by focusing on the country’s immigration policies and on issues such as unemployment, minimum wage and pensions. The party, founded by a former Nazi SS member after the end of the World War II, stuck the nerve of the electorate by proposing to stop immigration and by speaking out against Islam. The FPO support grew to unprecedented levels following EU-wide 'Open Door' migrant policy championed by Germany in wake of 2015 refugee crisis.

While the biggest number of migrants was welcomed by Berlin, Austria received nearly 150,000 asylum requests since 2015. Comprising just over 1 percent of the population, their presence in the country became the number one debated issue in the election.

Meanwhile, the incumbent chancellor of Austria and chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Christian Kern, is virtually assured to lose his place as the head of the government. Unlike his rivals, Kern advocates a much softer stand on migration, instead placing emphasis on employment and the economy. Kern, 51, a former business executive plucked from the national railroad by the Social Democrats in May 2016, has been dogged by sloppy campaign management. Despite overseeing faster growth in the export-oriented economy, Kern has struggled to connect with voters. His No. 1 goal is achieving full employment, since “modernizing the country with investment in education, security, health care and pensions” depends on it, Kern said late Thursday in the campaign’s final debate.

“Austria deserves someone who is ready to take on real responsibility for the population,” Strache said in a parliamentary speech this week, in which he chided Kern for letting thousands of refugees enter Austria, transported on the national railroad he ran before becoming chancellor.

Regardless of performance in Sunday's election, the three main parties must work together to form a new coalition government. Neither the OVP nor the SPO has ruled out a coalition with the FPO, which may play the role of the kingmaker at the end of the day since as the revival of OVP/ SPO coalition seems unlikely. Other parties such as the liberal NEOS (The New Austria and Liberal Forum) and the Greens are expected to secure single digits.

Compared with 10 years ago, more Austrians say they feel like they’re not being heard and are in search of law-and-order leadership, a SORA institute study showed. More than two-fifths of voters declared their desire for a “strongman” leader, according to the research, periodically commissioned by the federal government to gauge public attitudes and consciousness about the country’s Nazi history.

 

Step forward Kurz, the foreign minister who’s distanced himself from the People’s Party’s leadership and forged similar views with Freedom’s Strache on immigration. Both men want to restrict immigrant access to Austria’s social-security system and impose tighter policing on the country’s borders. The Freedom Party came within 30,000 votes of winning the presidency, a mostly ceremonial post, in a run-off vote last year.

In Austria, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to vote in roughly 13,000 voting locations throughout the Alpine nation. There are about 6.4 million voters, and those who cast their ballots will decide 183 contested seats at the National Council.

The U.S. Owes UNESCO Half A Billion Dollars

Zerohedge - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 00:00

This week, the U.S. and Israel announced that they would be withdrawing from UNESCO, citing 'continuing anti-Israel bias'.

As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, the move comes as a major blow to the organization which is known for designating cultural sites around the world such as the Grand Canyon or ancient Palmyra in Syria.

The U.S. has been expected to pay the bulk of UNESCO's budget for years and it cancelled its financial contributions back in 2011 in protest of Palestine's admission as a full member.

In the years since, it has amassed significant arrears of over $500 million...

You will find more statistics at Statista

This year, the UK, Japan and Brazil have all failed to pay their contributions so far, accrueing nearly $70 million of arrears between them.

This isn't the first time the U.S. has turned its back on UNESCO.

The country also left the organization under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s before rejoining under George W. Bush in 2003.

The latest withdrawal will come into effect at the very end of 2018.

Overheating China PPI Sends 10Y Yields To 30 Month Highs As Banks Inject Another Quarter Trillion Dollars In Loans

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 23:57

Despite a disappointing US CPI report on Friday, which saw core inflation miss once again despite an expected spike due to the "hurricane effect", moments ago China reported that in September, its CPI printed at 1.6% Y/Y, in line with expectations, and down from, 1.8% in August largely due to high year-over-year base effects, but it was PPI to come in smoking hot, jumping from 6.3% last month to 6.9% Y/Y, slamming expectations of a 6.4% print and just shy of the highest forecast, driven by the recent surge in commodity costs and strong PMI surveys.

While there has been no reaction in the Yuan, either on shore or off, the stronger than expected PPI has pushed China's 10Y yield to the highest in 30 months, or since April of 2015.

Adding fuel to the flame was PBOC head Zhou Xiaochuan who said earlier that China’s GDP would pick up from the 6.9%  figure recorded in the first six months of the year "thanks to a boost from household spending", according to a synopsis of his comments at the G30 International Banking Seminar posted to the People’s Bank of China website on Monday." The reason why his comments have impacted the long-end is that the reported, and completely fabricated number, is higher than the previous consensus forecast of a goalseeked Q3 Chinese GDP of 6.8%.

And while spiking Chinese yields wouldn't be concerned if China was indeed deleveraging as the Communist Party and the PBOC claim it is doing, the reality is, of course, that China continues to add more and more debt as the latest weekend credit numbers out of the PBOC revealed. As Bloomberg reported earlier, China's broadest credit aggregated, Total Social Financing, jumped to 1.82 trillion yuan, or over a quarter trillion dollars in September ($276BN to be precise), vs a Wall Street estimate of 1.57 trillion yuan and 1.48 trillion yuan the prior month. New yuan loans also beat expectations, at 1.27 trillion yuan, versus a projected 1.2 trillion yuan, while for the first time in months, the broader M2 money supply did not hit fresh fresh record lows, and instead beat expectations, rising to 9.2% from an all time low of 8.9%.

Just as notable, after China's shadow banking credit appeared to have finally been tamed after several months of contraction, shadow banking finance saw a pick-up in Sept (trust loans, entrusted loans and undiscounted bills), which accounted for 22% of Sept TSF vs. 18% in August. This was due mostly to milder deleveraging pace post the completion of self-checking of CBRC regs.

Commenting on the latest burst of credit creation by China, Kenneth Courtis, chairman of Starfort Investment Holdings and a former Asia vice chairman for Goldman Sachs Group, said that "Momentum continues to be very strong. Loan demand of the private sector has finally turned up in recent months."

It also means that just two weeks after the PBOC cuts its RRR for most banks in an unexpected monetary easing on Sept 30, “there is little hope of further policy easing in the fourth quarter as the monetary policy is very accommodative," said Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore. "There could be even a tightening bias."

Of course, confirming what we have been saying for years, Christopher Balding who is an associated professor in Peking Univeristy in Shenzhen said that "deleveraging is not happening if we look at any measure of credit growth" and that "lending in 2017 has actually accelerated significantly from 2016." This is shown in the chart below, which confirms that to keep its GDP at 6.9% or some other goalseeked number, China has to inject more than double that amount in credit every single month, in this case 15%. The biggest question is what happens to China's credit impulse after the 19th Party Congress which begins on Wednesday.

When looking at the boost in household spending noted above by Zhou Xiaochuan, all of this is the result of a surge in household lending: "Household short-term loans have increased too rapidly, with some funds being invested in stock and property markets," said Wen Bin, a researcher at China Minsheng Banking Corp. in Beijing. "Regulators have started to pay attention to the sector and required banks to strengthen credit review. I think the momentum will show signs of slowing in the fourth quarter."

Commenting on the recent burst in Chinese household leverage, where short-term household loans soared to 1.53 trillion yuan, versus 524.7 billion yuan this time one year ago, Deutsche Bank's Hans Fan writes that "noticeably China households are levering up quickly. We welcome the personal loans driven by genuine consumption growth, but there may be a notable portion of short-term consumer loans that were used to finance property purchases, which in our view contains higher risks." 


Some more details:

A breakdown by borrower suggests household and corporate sectors continued to lever up, making up 31%/41% of new system credit in Sept (35%/38% in Aug). For households, while mortgage growth had slowed, s/t retail loan growth accelerated to 17.6% yoy in Sept (vs. 15.8% in Aug or 7.3% in 1Q17) to make up c.10% of credit creation. We attribute this to both decent consumption growth with rising credit penetration and property-related lending. We estimate 1/3 of new consumption loans may be used to finance purchases of second homes. However, PBOC and local CBRC offices have started to crack down on property-related consumer loans in September and we expect consumer loan growth momentum to moderate in the coming months.

However, as so often happens in China, this surging leverage "sugar high" will not last, as "regulatory crackdown on property-related consumer loans together with monetary policy staying neutral lead us to expect slower credit growth in 4Q17." The implications for China's economy and the global credit impulse will be adverse, and will lead to a global economic slowdown just as all central banks enter tightening moment together.

Finally, for those wondering what the biggest timebomb in the global financial system was, is and will be until such time as it finally blows up, here is a lovely up close schematic courtesy of Deutsche Bank.

Is War Between Israel And Hezbollah Imminent?

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 23:29

Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media

The US has raised the level of tension with Iran without taking any concrete steps to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal. The reason why Trump is expected to limit himself to verbal abuse and continue threatening hostile measures against Tehran without executing them is fundamentally to avoid a breach between the US and the EU. The Nuclear deal is not bilateral, so the withdrawal of the US theoretically cannot scupper it. Nevertheless Iran is likely to consider the deal totally void if the US pulls out, with all that that implies. So the US continues its aggressive verbal campaigns against Iran, confusing the Europeans, who rightly fail to predict what decisions this US President is capable of adopting in the medium to long term.

However, the target is not only Iran but also its main ally and military arm in the Middle East: the Lebanese Hezbollah. The US posted bounties on two Hezbollah members of the military council (the highest military authority within the organisation), Haj Fuad Shukr and Haj Talal Hamiyeh, allocating “$12 million to whomsoever is able to offer information” that brings these two to justice. The US bounty purposely showed old photos of the two men to avoid revealing the intelligence sources which have provided the most recent ones. The main question remains: which country is going to take advantage of such an offer, and how?


Hezbollah troops at a rally and speech. Image source: Anadolu

Iran is not longer interested in what Donald Trump will do in relation to the nuclear deal. The Iranian leadership has created hundreds of commercial companies during the embargo, mainly in Oman, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, to counter over 30 years of US sanctions and embargo. Moreover, Iran used gold and oil in exchange of goods and technology and managed to hold on for many years, accepting to buy at a higher price in the open market.

Today the nuclear deal has opened the thirsty Iranian market and connected it to the European markets. The EU is unwilling to lose that now – especially with the financial crisis the old continent has been going through since 2008 – all because Trump, the US President (alone among all the signatories) considers unilaterally that the “spirit of the nuclear deal has been violated”. The US would like to see the Iranian missile program halted and the supply of weapons to Hezbollah cease: this would also please Saudi Arabia and Israel. However these issues are considered by all the countries who signed (including Iran but excepting the US) as unrelated to, and excluded from, the nuclear deal.

Saudi Arabian officials visited recently Washington, offering unlimited financial assistance as long as the US helps to destroy Hezbollah and limit Iran’s influence in the Middle East. In fact, Hezbollah is considered responsible for spoiling the game of the international and regional countries who were supporting a regime change in Syria. Therefore, many would like to see Hezbollah, the strong arm of Iran, cut off completely because this would transform Iran into a giant without arms.

Moreover, during the Saudi Arabian King Salman’s visit to Moscow, the monarchy told the Russian President Vladimir Putin that all groups operating in Syria, such as the “Islamic State” (ISIS), al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are considered terrorist and should be eliminated. Putin, despite the King’s generous financial offer of contributions to invest in Russian products was very clear: any country or group fighting in Syria following the request of the legitimate government is not a terrorist group. The “head of Hezbollah” was not on the table in the Russian capital.

As for as the US rewards are concerned, the Hezbollah leaders of the first, second and third ranks of the organization are moving freely between Beirut, Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad according to the requirements of the “war on terror” the organization is involved in against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.

No authority – neither the Lebanese authorities nor the US authorities – would dare to arrest any of Hezbollah’s leaders without suffering direct consequences that would backfire against their solders or interests in the Middle East. Abduction (or capture) is expected to be treated similarly and rejected without hesitation.

The most recent “incident” occurred in Iraq when Washington expressed its desire – when Baghdad asked all US forces to pull out from Iraq under President Barack Obama – to take the Lebanese Hezbollah commander, Ali Moussa Daqduq, to ??America. Hezbollah then sent a clear message to the US administration – through Iraqi leaders – that taking Daqdouq away from Iraq meant that every US soldier and officer in the Middle East, mainly in Iraq, would be held hostage.

This prompted Washington to turn a blind eye and leave the Iraqis to decide the fate of the Hezbollah officer who had participated in the killing of five American soldiers and officers in an impressively planned operation in Karbala. In January 2007 Daqdouq – along with Moqtada al-Sadr’s resistance group AsaebAhl al-Haq – used bulletproof black cars belonging to an Iraqi minister that the same US had given him as a donation. The fact that Daqdouq was on board facilitated the entry of the convoy into the government building without raising the suspicions of the American forces stationed inside the building.

Hezbollah is aware there are many American soldiers and officers who travel freely within Lebanon, mainly operating with the Lebanese Army. Therefore, the organization is reassured that the United States is conscious of Hezbollah’s capability for responding by reciprocity and will not leave their men prisoners without an action or reaction. Hezbollah thereby considers its own leaders safe from kidnapping, though not from assassination attempts.

Thus, the US ”bounties” on the two Hezbollah commanders aim to please the US’s Middle Eastern allies (mainly Israel and Saudi Arabia) saying “we are all in one boat against Hezbollah’s presence and operational capabilities”. Indeed, it shows how Washington is serious about taking political – rather than operational – measures to limit Hezbollah and Iran in the Middle East. Both are considered enemies of the US and its close Israeli and Saudi Arabia associates.

Tel Aviv – like Washington – is limiting itself to adopting a threatening rhetoric, talking about “a nearby war” against Hezbollah but without taking the narrative further or adopting any belligerent steps besides the rumbling of its drums.

In the unlikely event of war between Israel and Hezbollah, there is no doubt that Israel has the destructive military capability to bring back Lebanon to the “Stone Age,” as it claims. However, this is a situation that the Lebanese have already experience of since the civil war in1975 and the two (1982 and 2006) Israeli wars. In these wars, Israel launched attacks and destroyed the Lebanese infrastructure, killing thousands of civilians and hundreds of Hezbollah militants.

However, there is also no doubt that Hezbollah would give Israel a taste of a similar “Stone Age” scenario, with its tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, among them some of the very highest accuracy. The Israeli population however is not accustomed to such a harsh possible scenario: Hezbollah missiles will hit the infrastructure (bridges, concentration locations, markets, water, electricity, chemical plants and more), harbours, airports, military barracks and institutions, and civilian homes.

It is true that Israeli political and military leaders are not naïve and will never exchange their own security against economic and financial support (which was offered by Saudi Arabia to destroy Hezbollah), no matter how substantial the offer. Israel won’t exchange a public diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf countries to give up its own safety and the well-being of its people. Israeli commanders are fully aware of the unique military experience which Hezbollah developed in Syria and Iraq, and how Hezbollah is using new underground caches for its long-range accurate missiles on the Lebanese-Israeli borders.

Nevertheless, Israel and the US are capable of carrying out security and intelligence attacks to strike Hezbollah leaders, as both countries have done in the past with the late Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Abbas al-Moussawi, with Sayed Hasan Nasrallah’s vice Imad Mughnniyeh and against other minor positions within the leadership such as Hussein al-Lakis, Samir Qantar, Jihad Mughnniyeh, and others.

The “account” is still open between Hezbollah and Israel. The Lebanese organization has certainly tried similar intelligence strikes against Israel. However, several attempts have failed due to poor planning and a US-Israeli intelligence breach of Hezbollah security by an officer involved in the external operations unit.

But the balance of terror between Hezbollah and Israel remains: Hezbollah feels more at ease in Syria today and is able to dedicate more resources to the fight against Israel and its allies in the region.

Thus, American pressure remains within the limits of the inability of anyone to take it further: there is no country or entity that wants to confront a rival like Hezbollah, trained in the art of war and politics and an essential player in the Middle Eastern and international arenas.

There Are 2.7 Trillion Reasons Why Tesla Won't Rule The World

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 23:00

News of mass “performance-based departures” at Tesla, reported yesterday by the San Jose Mercury News has underscored the fact that Elon Musk and company have burned through a ridiculous amount of cash in the past two quarters alone, raising questions about why the company would choose to cut nearly 10% of its workforce when the assembly line for the company’s new Model 3 sedan has reportedly not yet been completed, and production remains woefully behind schedule as employees at the company’s Freemont factory have been forced to piece together the cars by hand.

And with Elon Musk reeling from a series of embarrassing revelations, Bloomberg is here to remind us of one of the many reasons why Tesla will never become a global automotive behemoth.

So far, the US government’s generous tax incentives for buyers of electric vehicles have helped bolster Tesla’s sales – a strategy that has been employed across Europe – and have sustained the market’s misguided conviction that Tesla will one day become a profitable enterprise.

But unfortunately, those incentives aren’t nearly enough to create the infrastructure to support Morgan Stanley’s forecast of 526 million electric vehicles operating globally by 2040. Building the charging stations and other infrastructure necessary would cost an astonishing $2.7 trillion, much of which would probably need to be allocated by governments.

Morgan Stanley says the problem requires a mix of private and public funding across regions and sectors. The investment bank’s strategists added that any auto company or government with aggressive targets would be unfeasible unless the infrastructure is in place.

As we’ve noted time and time again, the electric-vehicle industry is essentially being support by generous – and borderline anti-competitive - government subsidies. In China, which has aggressively pushed EVs as a potential remedy for its pollution problem, communist party officials have hit on an effective strategy for forcing consumers to favor electric vehicles. In Shanghai, where tens of thousands of people enter monthly lotteries for just a handful of license plates, consumers who buy electric cars are given license plates with little resistance.

Morgan Stanley expects China to become the largest EV market in the world by 2040, accounting for about a third of global infrastructure spending, Bloomberg reports.

But with Trump in office, it’s unlikely the US will prove so amendable to subsidizing Elon Musk’s ambitions for much longer.

China's Mortgage Debt Bubble Raises Spectre Of 2007 US Crisis

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 22:40

Authored by He Huifeng via The South China Morning Post,

In an inglorious echo of 2007 America, many young homeowners in booming cities owe more than they earn, and some even falsify salary details to get bigger mortgages...

Young Chinese like Eli Mai, a sales manager in Guangzhou, and Wendy Wang, an executive in Shenzhen, are borrowing as much money as possible to buy boomtown flats even though they cannot afford the repayments.

Behind the dream of property ownership they share with many like-minded friends lies an uninterrupted housing price rally in major Chinese cities that dates back to former premier Zhu Rongji’s privatisation of urban housing in the late 1990s.

Rapid urbanisation, combined with unprecedented monetary easing in the past decade, has resulted in runaway property inflation in cities like Shenzhen, where home prices in many projects have doubled or even tripled in the past two years.

City residents in their 20s and 30s view property as a one-way bet because they’ve never known prices to drop. At the same time, property inflation has seen the real purchasing power of their money rapidly diminish.

“Almost all my friends born since the 1980s and 1990s are racing to buy homes, while those who already have one are planning to buy a second,” Mai, 33, said.

 

“Very few can be at ease when seeing rents and home prices rise so strongly, and they will continue to rise in a scary way.”

The rush of millions young middle-class Chinese like Mai into the property market has created a hysteria that eerily resembles the housing crisis that struck the United States a decade ago. Thanks to the easy credit that has spurred the housing boom, many young Chinese have abandoned the frugal traditions of earlier generations and now lead a lifestyle beyond their financial means.

The build-up of household and other debt in China has also sparked widespread concern about the health of the world’s second largest economy.

 

The Chinese leadership headed by President Xi Jinping has taken a note of the problem and launched an unprecedented campaign in the second half of last year to curb home price rises in major cities by raising down payment requirements, disqualifying some buyers and squeezing the bank credit available for home buyers. The campaign is still deepening, with five more cities introducing rules last weekend that will freeze some property deals.

Meanwhile, China’s financial regulators have launched an investigation of “consumer loans” in big cities because a torrent of consumer credit flowed into the property market after the government imposed restrictions on mortgage loans.

Government policies are also protecting the interests of homeowners. City governments have squeezed land supply to keep land prices high and made secondary market trading less attractive, with new home buyers left to compete for a few new developments. Meanwhile, there is no property tax, which encourages homeowners to hold on to appreciating property assets.

The result has been skyrocketing housing prices in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, where property prices can match those in Hong Kong or London.

The lesson was that “if you don’t buy a flat today, you will never be able to afford it”, Wang, 29, said.

Property ownership was now increasingly what separated the rich and the poor, the haves and have-nots, and the privileged and the underdogs, she said.

And that means young people like Mai and Wang are scrambling for credit to buy property.

In May last year, after the value of his first flat, a 70 square metre unit in Guangzhou’s Panyu subdistrict, soared from 900,000 yuan (US$136,500) to 1.2 million yuan in just a few months, Mai, who has a monthly salary of 15,000 yuan, decided to raise the down payment for a new property to cash in on the booming housing market.

In June, he emptied his and his parents’ 300,000 yuan in savings and incurred debts to friends to muster the 50 per cent down payment for a 2.4 million yuan flat.

To meet the mortgage repayments of about 12,000 yuan a month on the two flats, and other debts to friends, he used the first flat as collateral for a loan about 800,000 yuan and got 200,000 yuan in cash from a short-term consumer loans supposedly for a car.

Mai got the money easily from local banks and financial institutions. Now, he needs to pay about 25,000 yuan a month for loans totalling around 3 million yuan, including around 4,000 yuan in mortgage payments for his first flat, about 7,300 yuan in mortgage payments for his second flat, nearly 9,000 yuan on the secondary mortgage for his first flat, 3,800 yuan for car loans, and the rest to service debts to family members and friends.

In Wang’s case, she borrowed 500,000 yuan from her parents, relatives and friends and sourced another 300,000 yuan from credit cards and consumer loans to pull together 800,000 yuan late last year for the minimum down payment on a small flat.

She also borrowed 1.8 million yuan from a bank, with monthly mortgage payments of about 9,600 yuan – 80 per cent of her monthly income – for 30 years. To help cover the mortgage, her mother, a retiree who lives 4,000km away in a city in northeastern China, remits the bulk of her pension to Wang.

“The debts are huge to me,” Wang said. “But a person without a flat has no future in Shenzhen.”

In China’s world of debt, household debt is supposed to be much safer than corporate or local government debt. Outstanding household loans were the equivalent of 44.4 per cent of China’s gross domestic output last year, more than double the ratio in 2008 but much lower than in most advanced economies. The ratio is 87 per cent in Britain, 79 per cent in the United States and 62 per cent in Japan.

 

But the figure could be misleading because it failed to reflect regional differences and it under-reported many hidden family debts in China, a recent report by the Institute for Advanced Research at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics said.

Because Chinese household incomes were growing more slowly than property prices, families were facing serious liquidity problems, with increasing amounts of income and savings sucked into the property market, Chen Yuanyuan, a co-author of the report, told the South China Morning Post.

Real household debt would have been the equivalent of at least 60 per cent of China’s GDP at the end of last year, Chen said, warning that the rapid rise in household debt was undermining China’s economic growth prospects.

“If it goes on, as early as in 2020, the ratio of mortgage debt and disposable income in China will reach the same peak level [127 per cent] as the US [in 2007] on the eve of the subprime crisis,” Chen said.

The boom in China’s housing market since 2015 was the result of soaring household debt leverage, Jiang Chao, an analyst at Haitong Securities in Shanghai, said in a research note last month.

China’s household debt to household disposable income ratio had soared to 90 per cent from less than 35 per cent in 2007, he said. Meanwhile, its household savings to household disposable income ratio had dropped from more than 30 per cent in the early 2000s to about 15 per cent last year.

The latest data from the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, shows that at the end of May, domestic household savings deposits totalled around 63 trillion yuan while the amount of outstanding personal loans had soared to 36.4 trillion yuan, up from 8.8 trillion yuan in 2010.

The Chinese tradition of saving money for a rainy day has been uprooted, and it’s not just that the younger generation, like Wang and Mai, are trying to spend before they earn. Their property buying frenzy has also been endorsed by their parents.

“My mum is happy about my decision,” Wang said.

Shenzhen is one of the most indebted cities in China. Data from Lianjia, the country’s biggest property agent, shows that Shenzhen property buyers took on a record amount of debt last year, with mortgage loans a feature of more than 93 per cent of purchases.

Property buyers in the city spent an average of about 3.7 million yuan on their flat in the first half of last year, with mortgage loans averaging 2.38 million yuan, Lianjia said, resulting in an average loan-to-value ratio of just over 64 per cent. In Hong Kong, banks’ average loan-to-value ratio for new mortgages was 51 per cent in December, according to Standard & Poor’s, while in the US last year it was 55.5 per cent, according to Statista, a leading Web-based data and statistics provider.

China’s first home buyers are, on average, younger than those elsewhere in the world, with most of those in Shenzhen in their 20s and 30s. On average, they need to pay about 10,600 yuan a month for 30 years for their first flat – or 13,000 yuan for 20 years – based on the current mortgage interest rate of 4.9 per cent. Meanwhile, the average white-collar salary in Shenzhen was 8,315 yuan last year and 8,892 yuan in the first quarter of this year, according to Zhaopin.com, a leading Chinese jobs website.

“Chinese banks typically allow homebuyers to use up to half of their monthly incomes to repay mortgages,” said Julia Fan, a former state bank manager.

 

“But the market in cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai is full of buyers whose out-of-pocket property spending is much more than their actual monthly salaries.”

Bill Duan, a manager at a Chinese investment bank, said it was not unknown for Chinese buyers to exaggerate their salaries or use fake payslips when taking out mortgages and loans, “and this may be when the problem starts”.

“It’s known among industry insiders that local branches of the banks in many cities do not always double-check salary details with employers, even though the applicants offered salary certificates for several times the city’s average wages,” he said.

Mai and Wang have been playing it fast and loose to deal with their debts.

Mai has lent 600,000 of the 800,000 yuan he got from a bank after using his first flat as collateral to a money shark promising an annualised return of 20 per cent. Wang gave the bank fake documents showing her monthly income was 18,000 yuan – about 1.6 times her actual salary. It did not ask any questions.

Neither see any problem, because the value of their underlying assets, the flats, have risen.

The value of Mai’s two flats rose from 3.8 million yuan last year to 6.4 million yuan last month, while the value of Wang’s unit is now 2.93 million yuan, up from 2.6 million yuan.

“I think I made a smart and successful decision to leverage debt,” Mai said.

Yellen Doubles Down: "Valuations Are At High Levels Historically"

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 22:20

On the heels of San Franciso Fed Governor John Williams' warning  that The Fed "doesn't want there to be excesses in financial markets... " Janet Yellen has reiterated her concerns that markets are a bit toppy...

Market valuations “are at high level in historical terms” when assessed on metrics akin to price-earnings ratios, warned Fed Chair Janet Yellen in response to a question on an IMF panel in Washington, but was careful to add that "overall financial stability risks in the U.S. remain moderate."

 

"Prospects for U.S. fiscal stimulus have buoyed sentiment but not yet had much impact on spending or investment," she said.

 

Broader financial stability risks depend on more than just asset prices and it may also be important just why asset valuations are high. So one factor that clearly comes into play is an environment of low interest rates and central bankers like many market participants have been adjusting our notions of what” interest rates are likely to be in the longer term.

So - to sum up - The Fed doesn't want excesses... Yellen thinks stock valuations are stretched... but don't worry coz rates are low (although we are dedicated to raising them) and financial stability (despite record high corporate leverage and record low spreads) is not a problem.

Well... The market has almost never been this expensive...

As Peter Boockvar warns: "Almost there. S&P 500 price to sales ratio is just 4% from March 2000 peak."

Additionally, Draghi and Kuroda were also said they saw little evidence of frothiness in markets.

Others in Washington were less sanguine...

The market “feels as benign in 2017 as it felt in 2006,” said Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays Plc, referencing the eve of the crisis.

Yellen also added in a subtle jab at Trump that while prospects for U.S. fiscal stimulus have buoyed sentiment but not yet had much impact on spending or investment...

"It is a source of uncertainty," Yellen says of fiscal policy changes, "we've taken," as many households have, "a kind of wait-and-see attitude."

Of course, The Fed head being worried about stock valuations is a nothing-burger for the mainstream.

Since Janet Yellen's first warning in July 2014: "Equity market valuations appear stretched"

  • S&P +29%
  • Nasdaq +53%
  • DOW +33%

So did Janet just give the market a reverse-psychology BTFD signal? If she did, not everyone's buying it...

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said in an interview with Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick that:

"the only question regarding next crisis is 'when and where', not 'if'..."

And finally Mexico's central bank governor Agustin Carstens said Sunday on a panel in Washington, where he participated in IMF meetings that some emerging-market assets may be priced too richly and governments need to prepare for contingencies...

A search for yield has dominated asset allocation for too long, and some severe problems could emerge when portfolios are re-balanced, Carstens says.

 

A lack of liquidity can cause severe reactions in some emerging markets, he says.

He's got a point!

Casualties Reported After Iraqi Troops Enter Oil Rich Kurdish City Of Kirkuk; Oil Spikes

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 22:10

In a major escalation involving the disputed Iraqi Kurdish region, which last month declared independence following a referendum which was not recognized by any of its neighbors or Baghdad (in fact, only Israel has supported the legitimacy of the Kurdish referendum to date) Iraqi state media reported that on Monday morning Iraqi federal troops entered territories occupied by the nation’s Kurds, with the FT confirming that Iraqi forces moved to enter the city of Kirkuk. The Iraqi advance comes three years after Kurdish militias seized the areas outside their autonomous region as a pretext to defend against an advance by the Islamic State extremist group.

Al-Iraqiya TV said the military, anti-terrorist units and federal police have taken control of "vast areas" around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk which has long been one of the country’s deepest faultlines, claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad. Iraqi TV also quoted Prime Minister Abadi who said that he "gave the order to capture Kirkuk"

While the TV report said the Iraqis advanced without firing a shot and "without opposition from Kurdish Peshmerga", unconfirmed social media reports suggest that at least one peshmerga has been killed in the fighting:

First casualty in Kurdish, Baghdad/militia fighting around Kirkuk. https://t.co/GWx5LYzy1E

— Samuel Oakford (@samueloakford) October 16, 2017

Separate twitter reports showed fighting in the southern part of Kirkuk in line with reports of clashes breaking out between Iraqi forces and Perhmerga:

Yet another explosion in Duz Xurmatu right now. pic.twitter.com/H5KnoDeKQA

— Afarin Mamosta (@AfarinMamosta) October 15, 2017

A Rudaw report of heavy gunfire was also captured on Twitter:

Heavy gunfire live on Rudaw on the outskirts of Kirkuk #Iraq pic.twitter.com/yPpjvf0PY5

— Fazel Hawramy (@FazelHawramy) October 15, 2017

According to local reports, coalition warplanes were "intensively flying over Kirkuk"...

#BREAKING#Coalition warplanes intensively flying over #Kirkuk.

— Barzan Sadiq (@BarzanSadiq) October 15, 2017

... while CBS quoted the Pentagon commenting on the latest Kirkuk situation: "We strongly urge all sides to avoid additional escalatory actions...that further undermine Iraq's stability."

Pentagon on Kirkuk: We strongly urge all sides to avoid additional escalatory actions...that further undermine Iraq's stability.

— cbsMcCormick (@cbsMcCormick) October 16, 2017

Additionally, the FT writes that Najmaddin Kareem, Kirkuk’s governor, was shown on pro-Kurdish channel Rudaw urging the people of the city to take up arms in its defence. Assuring that further bloodshed appears inevitable, Hemin Hawrami, a senior adviser to Masoud Barzani, KRG president, told the Financial Times that the peshmerga forces would defend the city.

“We have orders, if they come close, all Peshmerga forces will respond very strongly,” Hawrami said. He added that the KRG president had held talks on Sunday with Muhammad Fuad Masum, the Iraqi president, that aimed to resolve the stand-off, saying that it sought “peace and dialogue”. “It seems that Iraqi government and PMF (Popular Mobilisation Forces) made their decision to launch the offensive without even waiting for President Masum to go back to Baghdad tomorrow to take our proposals for talks,” Mr Hawrami said.

"Iraqi forces and Popular Mobilisation are now advancing from Taza, south of Kirkuk, in a major operation; their intention is to enter the city and take over [the] K1 base and oilfields," said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Security Council.

As Reuters adds, citing Lieutenant Colonel Salah el-Kinani of the Iraqi army’s ninth armoured division, the aim was to take the K1 air base, west of Kirkuk.  Iraqi forces had gathered to the south of Kirkuk in recent days threatening to reclaim a city they had fled in 2014 after Isis militants captured nearby Mosul. The KRG’s peshmerga fighters have held the city for the past three years but its inclusion in last month’s independence referendum, where Kurds voted overwhelmingly to leave Iraq, has enraged Baghdad, and drawn strong opposition from Iran and Turkey.

The AP adds that, for now at least, a commander of the local Kurdish police force said Kurds remain in control of Kirkuk province’s oil wells, with Kurdistan24 reporting that Kirkuk oil is still flowing to Ceyhan via the eponymous pipeline. That may change very soon if Iraq has indeed sent troops to reclaim the local oil infrastructure.

 

Earlier in the day, Iraqi Kurdish media accused Iran of closing most of its border as its leaders met to discuss rocky relations with Baghdad, to pressure them into making concessions to the central government. As Zero Hedge reported earlier in the day, in an unexpected diplomatic turn of events which underscores the seriousness of escalating tensions between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard (which last week were designated by the US as a terrorist organization), General Qassem Soleimani, arrived in Erbil on Sunday and met with Kurdistan regional president Masoud Barzani to discuss the growing crisis at a moment when Kurdish Peshmerga forces were blocking Iraqi Army access to Kirkuk oil fields and military installations

As a result, Iran and specifically its Shia militias appear to be also involved: according to the FT, there are fears among Kurdish officials of the involvement of Shia militias, such as the PMF, in the advance. They have played a critical role in ending Isis rule in Mosul but have made a series of threats to the KRG in Kirkuk in recent days.

Qais Khazaali, the head of one of Iraq’s most powerful Iranian-backed Shia militias put out a statement on Twitter: “We all stand with our heroic forces in implementing the orders of the general commander of the armed forces and the decisions of parliament for the state to regain control over areas overtaken [by the KRG].”

The autonomous Kurdish region exports about 550,000 barrels a day of crude oil, including from fields operated by the federal North Oil Company.

Following news of armed clashes in the oil rich region, oil prices jumped more than 1 per cent in early Asian trading, with Brent crude oil hitting $57.76 a barrel.

For those trading oil overnight, here is a live feed from Kirkuk:

Hypocrite Kimmel Defends Weinstein Silence: "I'm Not The Moral Conscience Of America"

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 21:40

Having spoken out so forcefully on both health care and gun control over the past month - seemingly quickly capable of signaling his virtue against President Trump at any headline -  many viewers might have expected Jimmy Kimmel do the same about the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein... but (perhaps unsurprisingly to many) he has not.

Donald Trump Jr. noticed...

Thoughts on Harvey Weinstein? #askingforafriend https://t.co/iyHhvrlDXO

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 7, 2017

To which Kimmel responded...

“Well, he’s an idiot. This is an imbecile whose job seems to be tweeting, as far as I can tell."

And then attempted to defend his lack of coverage of the massive liberal donor's disgusting actions (via TheDailyBeast.com)...

“First of all, the Harvey Weinstein thing, people like this false equivalence of that’s somehow equivalent to what happened in Las Vegas,” Kimmel added, arguing that the alleged assault of dozens of women does not deserve the same reaction as the killing of nearly 60 people.

 

He said that Weinstein is “not a friend of mine,” adding, “I'm not in the movie business.”

 

As a once and future Oscar host who is friends with many of the movie stars in Weinstein’s orbit, that claim is a hard one to buy.

 

“And I'll add that that story came out like I think moments before we went to tape on Thursday and we didn't have a show on Friday,” Kimmel continued.

While The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah managed to work a throwaway joke about Weinstein into his Thursday night show last week, Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon and James Corden all did not cover it until Monday. John Oliver was the first host to fully address it Sunday night.

But even when Kimmel did finally talk about Weinstein on Monday, he used the story more as a tool to go after Trump Jr. than anything else.

“Next time you’re defending your father and you think it’s a good idea to draw a comparison between him and a freshly accused sexual predator, don’t. It doesn’t help,” Kimmel told him, before delivering one joke about Weinstein just to prove that he could.

 

“They're saying that I'm calling myself the moral conscience of America, which I most certainly never did and most certainly never would,” he declared.

Kimmel is probably telling the truth when he says he never set out to become the “moral conscience of America,” but it appears that when it's possible to lay his comedic hammer down on anything trump-related, 'morals' and 'conscience' are quickly forgotten (and sexual assault allegations are beyond the realm of discussion... unless they are about Trump).

Trumpfusion? 'Record Low Approval Ratings But Record High Consumer Confidence' Explained

Zerohedge - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 21:20

Authored by Dilbert Creator Scott Adams via his blog,

How did we get to a place where The President of the United States has historically low approval at the same time we have recent highs for consumer confidence?

Almost everything President Trump does has an impact on the economy, and on consumers. That includes national security, immigration, taxes, health care, budgets, treaties, government regulations, and international relations. If the public is optimistic about the economy, that is normally the same as having confidence in the president. At least on the big-ticket items.

The types of presidential actions that have lower impact on the economy include court appointments, opinions on confederate statues, NFL kneeling, transgenders in the military, birth control funding, unpresidential tweets, poorly-executed disavowals, hyperbole that fails the fact-checking, seemingly unnecessary political attacks, and all manner of obnoxious presidential behavior. The majority of citizens disapprove of President Trump on at least some of those topics.

I don’t think we’ve ever seen something like this before.

A majority of citizens disapprove of President Trump while simultaneously having confidence he’ll get most of the big stuff right and the economy will reflect it.

During the 2016 campaign, my haters mocked me mercilessly on Twitter for predicting that a candidate with insanely low approval ratings could ever get elected president of the United States. I said it wouldn’t be the problem people thought it would be. And it wasn’t. Part of the reason is that Hillary Clinton also had low ratings. But I also suspected there were so-called shy Trump supporters who held private opinions that were different from what the pollsters could suss out.

Now we see a similar situation shaping up. I don’t know whether or not President Trump will seek a second term. But if he ran for reelection today, I expect he would win by a larger margin than the first time, no matter who ran against him. To put it another way, approval ratings aren’t as predictive as you would expect. But consumer confidence is probably close to 100% predictive. Ask Bill Clinton. He’ll tell you It’s the economy, stupid.

Prior to President Trump’s inauguration day I predicted we’d see this story arc play out in the media:

Spring 2017: “Trump is Hitler!”

 

Summer 2017: “Okay, Trump isn’t Hitler. But he’s incompetent!”

 

End of year 2017: “Crap. He’s effective. But we don’t like it.”

Consumer confidence is peaking while the president’s approval rating is in the cellar.

That means people expect him to be effective on the big stuff. But they don’t like him because of the other stuff.

Right on schedule.

*  *  *

If you read this entire blog post, you might also like my new book, Win Bigly. Pre-order at this page and get a bonus chapter by email.

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