- NASA Unveils Plan To Stop Yellowstone "Supervolcano" Eruption, There's Just One Catch
A NASA plan to stop the Yellowstone supervolcano from erupting, could actually cause it to blow… triggering a nuclear winter that would wipe out humanity.
As we have detailed recently, government officials have been closely monitoring the activity in the Yellowstone caldera.
However, as SHTFplan.com's Mac Slavo details, scientists at NASA have now come up with an incredibly risky plan to save the United States from the super volcano.
A NASA scientist has spoken out about the true threat of super volcanoes and the risky methods that could be used to prevent a devastating eruption. Lying beneath the tranquil and beautiful settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US lies an enormous magma chamber, called a caldera. It’s responsible for the geysers and hot springs that define the area, but for scientists at NASA, it’s also one of the greatest natural threats to human civilization as we know it.
Brian Wilcox, a former member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense, shared a report on the natural hazard that hadn’t been seen outside of the agency until now. Following an article published by BBC about super volcanoes last month, a group of NASA researchers got in touch with the media to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat Yellowstone poses, and what they hypothesize could possibly be done about it.
“I was a member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for NASA to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” explains Brian Wilcox of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology.
“I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”
Yellowstone currently leaks about 60 to 70 percent of its heat into the atmosphere through stream water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks, while the rest of the heat builds up as magma and dissolves into volatile gasses. The heat and pressure will reach the threshold, meaning an explosion is inevitable. When NASA scientists considered the fact that a super volcano’s eruption would plunge the earth into a volcanic winter, destroying most sources of food, starvation would then become a real possibility. Food reserves would only last about 74 days, according to the UN, after an eruption of a super volcano, like that under Yellowstone. And they have devised a risky plan that could end up blowing up in their faces. Literally.
Wilcox hypothesized that if enough heat was removed, and the temperature of the super volcano dropped, it would never erupt. But he wants to see a 35% decrease in temperature, and how to achieve that, is incredibly risky. One possibility is to simply increase the amount of water in the supervolcano. As it turns to steam. the water would release the heat into the atmosphere, making global warming alarmists tremble.
“Building a big aqueduct uphill into a mountainous region would be both costly and difficult, and people don’t want their water spent that way,” Wilcox says. “People are desperate for water all over the world and so a major infrastructure project, where the only way the water is used is to cool down a supervolcano, would be very controversial.”
So, NASA came up with an alternative plan. They believe the most viable solution could be to drill up to 10km down into the super volcano and pump down water at high pressure. The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F), thus slowly day by day extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46 billion, it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians (taxpayers) to make the investment.
“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”
Of course, drilling into a super volcano comes with its own risks, like the eruption that scientists are desperate to prevent. Triggering an eruption by drilling would be disastrous.
“The most important thing with this is to do no harm,” Wilcox says.
“If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”
The cooling of Yellowstone in this manner would also take tens of thousands of years, but it is a plan that scientists at NASA are considering for every super volcano on earth.
“When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,” Wilcox says.
“People thought, ‘As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.’ Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.”
So what would happen?
- Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia's Role As A Global Game-Changer
Submitted by Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave of Gavekal Research
Carthago Est Delenda
“Carthage must be destroyed”. Cato the elder would conclude his speeches in the Roman Senate with the admonition that salt should be spread on the ruins of Rome’s rival. Listening to the US media over these summer holidays from Grand Lake, Oklahoma, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the American media, and US congress, feels the same way about Russia. Which is odd given that the Cold War supposedly ended almost 30 years ago.
But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union.
The maritime advantage
Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously.
With this in mind, consider a mental map of the productive land masses in the world today. Very roughly put, the world currently has three important zones of production, with each accounting for about a third of world GDP.
- North and South America: This is a sort of island and is not reachable by land from the rest of the world. It constitutes the heart of what could be called the current “maritime” empire.
- Europe ex-Russia: This is an economic and technological power as large as the US but a military minnow. Its last two wars have been fought between the then dominant maritime power (the US), first against Germany, then the Soviet Union to gain the control of the so called “old continent”.
- A resurgent Asia: Here China is playing the role of the “land-based challenger” to the “maritime hegemon”.
A visiting Martian who knew little about our global geopolitical make-up, except for the above history books, would likely conclude that a new version of the age-old drama is being set up. This time, however the contest would be between a China-dominated “land-based empire” and a US controlled “maritime power”, with Europe (and to a lesser extent Africa) as the likely “prize.”
To have a chance in the fight, the continental empire would have to “keep” a massive land mass under its control. This would require building extensive lines of communication (rail, roads, telecoms, satellites…), linking its own land-mass to the other “productive” land masses, avoiding as much as possible the use of sea links to communicate with other nations. The land empire would need to develop an economy which would not need to trade through the seas.
This is what is happening today and why we gave carte blanche to Tom Miller, leaving him free to roam through Central Asia and Eastern Europe over a couple of years and report on the capital that China was pouring to build such links (readers who have not done so should pick up a copy of Tom’s book, China’s Asian Dream, available at all good bookstores and of course, through our website).
Now for China’s “dream of empire” to work, China would need to convince two important countries, and maybe three, to at least become “neutral”, instead of quasi-hostile, for these new communications lines to work. Those two countries are Russia and Germany. The 3rd is Saudi Arabia, which has an interesting hand to play.
Russia is the main land bridge between China and Europe. So logic says that the US should be very nice to Russia and seek to establish some kind of military alliance, if only to control the movement of people and goods between China and Europe, and from Europe to China. However, in its immense wisdom, the US Senate and the entire US diplomatic corps have decided that America’s interests are best served by imposing sanctions on Russia for crimes—not even proven at the time of writing—that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely commits inside countries that are nominally allies of the US!
It seems that US policymakers have forgotten Lord Palmerston’s dictum that nations don’t have friends, just permanent interests. And instead of following policies to maximize its national interest, the US would rather cut off its nose to spite its face. The end result is that the US seems to be working as hard as possible to make Russia join forces with China. But why would the US so consciously make an enemy out of Russia?
A starting point is that it is a little odd that a country that cannot conceivably be invaded spends more on defense then the next ten nations combined (see chart overleaf). It is also odd that the US has been involved in wars, somewhere around the globe, with very few interruptions, ever since President Dwight Eisenhower warned his countrymen about the growing clout of the “US military industrial complex”.
Of course, we fully realize that even mentioning the “US military industrial complex’ makes one sound like some kind of tin-potted, conspiracy-theorist prone loon. This is not our intention. But we do want to highlight that, in order to justify a budget of US$622bn, soon heading to US$800bn, the US military industrial complex needs a bogey-man.
Now the natural bogey-man should logically be China. After all, China is now sporting the second biggest military budget in the world (US$192bn in 2016), is rapidly expanding its global presence (Belt and Road, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Silk Road Fund) and increasingly treats the South China Sea as a mare nostrum. Still, the past few months of broad US hysteria toward Russia make it fairly clear that US military interests would rather pick on Russia then China. Why so?
The first, and most obvious explanation, is simply institutional inertia. After all, Russia was the main enemy between 1945 and 1991 and entire institutions were built (NATO, OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) with either the stated, or unstated, goal of containing Russia’s influence. Such government-led institutions usually turn around as easily as a cruise ship captained by Francesco Schettino.
There are historical precedents for this. Take France as an example: from Cardinal Richelieu onward, the sole purpose of French diplomacy was to destroy the Austro-Hungarian empire. This left successive French rulers blind to the rise of Prussia; at least until 1870 and the pummeling of Paris. Still, even after losing Alsace and Lorraine, France continued its anti-Habsburg crusade until 1919, and the final destruction of the Austrian empire with the 1919 Versailles treaty. This treaty left France vulnerable should the Russians and Germans ever ally (a key policy goal of the Habsburgs was to prevent such an alliance) or the Brits decide that they’d rather head home (which duly occurred in 1940 at Dunkirk and is perhaps happening again today).
The bottom line is that the sheer force of institutional inertia means the “smartest people” are often incapable of adjusting to new realities. It happened in France, and it could easily be happening in the US today.
A second explanation is that there exists tremendous resistance within the broader US community to making China a scapegoat. US corporations have huge interests in China and relatively limited exposure to Russia. Thus attempts to cast China in too bad a light are habitually met with concerted lobbying efforts (Lenin did say that the “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”). As no-one in the US business community cares deeply about Russia, Moscow makes for a good, “compromise bogey man”?
A third explanation is tied to a theme we have discussed in the past (see The Consequences of Trump’s Syrian Strike), namely the unfolding civil war in the Middle-East between Sunnis and Shias. On the Sunni side of the war sits Saudi Arabia. On the Shia side of the war is Iran. And behind Iran stands Russia, who would like nothing more than to see the Saudi regime implode. Indeed, a collapse of the House of Saud would be an immense boon for Russia. The price of oil would likely surge (which would be great for non-Arab producers like Russia) and Europe would find itself wholly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, thereby giving Moscow more geopolitical clout than it has enjoyed in decades.
At the same time, a collapse of the House of Saud would be terrible news for US, French and British arms suppliers (for whom the Middle-Eastern monarchies are big clients) and for all big oil companies which have huge contracts in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle-East to protect.
This brings us to the current make-up of the US administration which, to say the least, is somewhat skewed towards military officers (military men and the merchants of death tend to get along) and oil-men. Is it too much of a stretch to think that an administration loaded with oil and military men would, almost by default, fight Saudi Arabia’s corner? Now this may be unfair. After all, it’s not as if the first trip of the current US president was to Saudi Arabia, or as if that trip yielded many lucrative deals for US weapons manufacturers, US oil companies, and US financiers, was it?
Russia as a game-changer
Whatever the reason for the current anti-Russia hysteria in the US, it is now clearly in Russia’s interest for it to play a very active role in the coming Chinese efforts to reduce the power of the dominant “maritime empire”. This means that Chinese and European products will be able to travel through Russia for the foreseeable future, so avoiding possible threats created by the US navy should Washington ever act to disrupt trade between the two economic centers.
The reason that the US’s approach to Russia is so short-sighted is that Russia’s role in the coming clash between the two empires may go far beyond it facilitating communication and transport across its territory. Indeed, Russia (along with Qatar and Iran) could already be helping China break the monopoly that the US has on the payment of energy all over the world through the US dollar (see The Most Important Change And Its Natural Hedge).
For the past 100 years, the US dollar has been the world’s major reserve and trading currency. Needless to say, having the ability to settle one’s (rather large) trade and budget deficits in one’s own currency is a competitive advantage of huge proportions. Greater than its edge in finance, tertiary education, technology, biotech, weapons manufacturing and agricultural productivity, this “exorbitant privilege” may be the US’s single biggest comparative advantage.
Now our starting point when looking at China is that the guys who run the show in Beijing are basically control freaks. After all, what else do you expect from career technocrats steeped in Marxist theory? So with that in mind, the question every investor should ask themselves is: why would control freaks yield control of their country’s exchange rate and interest rate structure? Why liberalize the bond and currency markets?
For let’s face it, there are few prices as important to an economy as the exchange rate and the interest rate. So if the politburo is willing to gradually lose control over them, it must be because it hopes to gain something better on the other side. And the something better is to transform the renminbi into Asia’s deutschemark; the “natural” trading (and eventually reserve) currency for Asia and even wider emerging markets. In fact, internationalizing the renminbi is the lynchpin on which the whole “Belt and Road” empire rollout rests. If this part fails, then China’s imperial ambitions will most likely crumble over time (for one cannot have an empire on somebody else’s dime).
The rise of the renminbi
Which brings us to a key change in our global monetary system that has received scant attention, namely, the recent announcement by the Hong Kong exchange that investors will soon be able to buy and settle gold contracts in renminbi (see release). This initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for the architecture of our global monetary system.
Imagine being Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Sudan, Uzbekistan or any other country liable to fall foul of US foreign policy, and thus susceptible to having Washington use the dollar as a “soft weapon” (see BNP, Big Brother And The US Dollar). Then China comes along and says: “Rather than trading in dollars, which leaves us both exposed to US sanctions, and US banks’ willingness to fund our trade, let’s deal in renminbi. I can guarantee that ICBC will never pull the rug from under your feet”.
If you are Russia, or Qatar (which have already signed renminbi deals for oil and natural gas), this may be an interesting proposition. However, the question will quickly arise: “What will I do with my renminbi? Sure, I can buy goods in China, but I only need so much cheap clothing, tennis shoes, and plastic junk. What do I do with what is left over?”. And the answer to that question is that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency since the US offers the deepest and most liquid asset markets. From real estate (as shown by the Russia-Trump investigation), to equities, to bonds, there is no shortage of US assets that Americans will sell foreigners so that foreigners can park their hard earned dollars back into the US.
This brings us back to China and the main constraint to the renminbi’s rise as a reserve currency. Simply put, foreign investors do not trust the Chinese government enough to park their excess reserves in Chinese assets. This lack of trust was crystallized by the decision in the summer of 2015 to “shut down” the equity markets for a while and stop trading in any stock that looked like it was heading south. That decision confirmed foreign investors’ apprehension about China and in their eyes set back renminbi internationalization by several years, if not decades.
Until now, that is. For by creating a gold contract settled in renminbi, Russia may now sell oil to China for renminbi (already signed), then take whatever excess currency it earns to buy gold in Hong Kong. As a result, Russia does not have to buy Chinese assets or switch the proceeds into dollars (and so potentially fall under the thumb of the US Treasury). This new arrangement is good news for Russia, good news for China, good news for gold and horrible news for Saudi Arabia as it leaves the Middle-Eastern kingdom in between a rock and a hard place.
2. Saudi Arabia
The fact that China wants to buy oil with its own currency will increasingly present Saudi Arabia with a dilemma. It could acknowledge that China is now the world’s largest oil importer, and only major growth market, and accept renminbi payments for its oil. However, this would go down like a lead balloon in Washington where the US Treasury would (rightly) see this as a threat to the dollar’s hegemony. In such a scenario, it is unlikely that the US would continue to approve modern weapon sales to Saudi and the embedded “protection” of the House of Saud that comes with them. And without this US protection, who knows which way the Sunni-Shia civil war may tip (most likely in favor of the Iran-Russia axis).
Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, the alternative is hardly attractive. Getting boxed out of the Chinese market will increasingly mean having to dump excess oil inventories on the global stage, thereby ensuring a sustained low price for oil. But with its budget deficit stuck at about 16% of GDP, with half its population below 27 and needing jobs, and with reserves shrinking by around US$10bn a month, just maintaining the current status quo is not a long-term viable option.
So which way will Saudi turn? Will Riyadh accept low oil prices forever and the associated costs on Saudi society? Or will it change horse and move to accept renminbi in order to ensure more access to the world’s largest oil importer, even at the risk of triggering Washington’s wrath? Investors who like to bet on form may wish to consider the second option. Indeed, King Ibn Saud (the current King Salman’s father) was once a loyal British client as the Brits had helped suppress the Wahhabi brotherhood, so cementing his power. Yet in 1936, Ibn Saud’s adviser Abdullah Philby (father of British traitor Kim Philby), persuaded the king to switch his allegiance to the US, by offering Saudis exclusive oil concession to Chevron/Texaco rather than BP. This is why the Saudi oil company is called Aramco (the Arab-American oil company) rather than Arbroco.
Could the House of Saud pull off the same stunt again? One indication may be who lines up as cornerstone investors in the coming Aramco IPO. If those end up as China Investment Corporation, Petrochina and the PRC’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, than perhaps Aramco will be on its way to becoming Archoco. And with that, the pricing of Saudi oil could shift from US dollars to renminbi.
Incidentally, such a move would likely solve Saudi’s biggest macro hurdle; specifically, the defense of the Saudi Riyal peg to the US dollar. Indeed, with reserves shrinking so rapidly, the arrangement looks to be on a slow-moving death watch (admittedly, at the current pace of reserve depletion, Riyadh could hold out three years and possibly five). But should Saudi announce that Aramco (or Archoco!) will now accept renminbi for oil payments, the dollar would likely tank while oil prices would shoot up (as Saudi would have a willing buyer for its oil in China). A lower US dollar/ higher oil combination would, needless to say, make the Saudi peg that much easier to sustain.
Lastly, if you were King Salman and thought that the long-term sustainability of the House of Saud depended on dumping the US and engaging China, what would you be doing right now? Would you be buying as many top-end US weapons as you possibly could, knowing that, in the future, such purchases may no longer be as easy as they are today? But let us now move to the third major player in this many-part drama, namely Germany, where the situation is even more complex.
Unencumbered by its own “heavy” history, Germany— being at heart a “continental” nation—would probably have joined the “continental alliance” and left the maritime alliance (which may explain why the “maritime alliance” tapped Angela Merkel’s phone; arguably a greater intrusion then anything the US has accused Russia of). After all, consider the advantages for Germany of joining the “land-based empire”:
- Politically, Germany could finally develop its own diplomacy and stop taking orders from Washington.
- Economically, German industry would have unlimited access to develop not only Russia but also all the populations north of the Himalayas set to join the modern world through the creation of the “New Silk Road”.
- Geopolitically, let us first state the obvious: a Middle-East ruled by the Sunnis under the control of the US diplomacy has not been a resounding success. Worse yet, the incredible mistakes made by the last two US administrations across the Middle-East have led to a very old religious war (Sunnis vs. Shiites) again erupting. As we write, it seems that the Russians and Iranian allies are gradually succeeding in taking the control of the Middle East. Now the return to some form of peace (under a Russia/Iranian yoke) would offer new markets for German industry, provided Germany immediately allied itself with Russia and broke away from the American sanctions imposed by the US Senate. Failing that, Germany could lose a Middle-Eastern market which has historically been important for its exporters.
- Domestically: A German-Russian alliance would crimp Turkey’s resurgence as Ankara would find itself isolated due to Iran and China being on its eastern borders and Russia on its northern frontiers. As a result, Turkey would most likely stop rattling Europe’s cage, which would be a boon for Merkel as Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has been a significant thorn in her side. In other words, Merkel would outsource her “Turkey problem” to Russia.
- Energetically, a Russian-dominated Middle East would still provide gas from Russia and oil from the Middle-East. The implication is that Germany would no longer need to have its energy imports “protected” by the maritime empire’s fleet (Merkel’s short-sightedness on the energy front, from the end of coal, to the banning of nuclear power, has fitted in the category of being “worse than a crime, it is a mistake”).
Many people in Germany—business people and public servants such as ex -chancellor Gerhard Schroeder—understand the above and have lobbied for such an outcome. The recent trend of US prosecutors trying to export the supremacy of the US legal system over local ones, and imposing egregious fines on all and sundry (Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen) can only push German business leaders further down that path.
Of course, as Frenchmen, we know that nothing good comes of:
- Germany and Russia getting along like a house on fire.
- Britain retreating back to its island.
And we would suggest that President Emmanuel Macron is also keenly aware of this. Which explains he is so far the only Western leader to have gone out of his way to be nice to President Trump; aside from the Polish President of course (more on that later).
Macron has bent over to accommodate Merkel. And let’s face it, his task is not easy. For as good as our president may be with the older ladies, he needs to convince Merkel to walk away from the above win-win and keep Germany committed to the greater European integration exercise, and Germany wedded to its role inside the broader “maritime empire”.
Germany as the sole paymaster
Now, to be fair, the German population has enthusiastically supported the European integration project, partly out of historical guilt (now abating as the share of the population alive in World War II fast shrinks) and partly because it has been a boon to German exporters. However, recent years have highlighted that the low hanging fruit of European integration has been harvested. And to stay afloat, the European project now needs Berlin to transfer 2%-6% of GDP to poorer, less productive, European Union countries (especially as the UK will soon stop paying into EU coffers). This is a hard sell, even for a politician as gifted as Macron. Soon, Germany may be the only meaningful contributor to French agricultural subsidies; and that is unlikely to go down well with the average Bavarian housewife.
Which brings us to the only other Western leader who has publicly embraced the current incumbent of the White House, namely Polish president, Andreszj Duda. After all, History suggests that France should not be the only country worried about a German rapprochement with the new “land-based empire”. Most Eastern European countries, in particular Poland, have similar reactions to such a hook-up. In fact, threat of a German-Russian rapprochement may already be creating the birth of a new, Austro-Hungarian empire, aka the Visegrad Group alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Historically, the role of the Austrian empire was to protect Europe from the Turks and also to stop an alliance between Prussia and Russia. For the time being the Visegrad group is negotiating (rather unsuccessfully) with Berlin about how to handle thousands of “Turks” (at least migrants entering Europe through Turkey, whether those migrants come from North Africa, the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Bangladesh or elsewhere is almost irrelevant). This Eastern grouping may have to address, sooner than they think, a German-Russian rapprochement.
Just as importantly, the re-emergence of the Austrian empire is incompatible with the “Europe as a Nation” project. In the world we are describing Poland, followed by Hungary and the Czech Republic, may be the next countries to leave the EU. Although in so doing, the Visegrad Group would almost guarantee the feared rapprochement between Germany and Russia. Of course the Eastern European nations would only make such a move if they were militarily guaranteed by the US. And, by an amazing coincidence, this is exactly the promise that President Trump just delivered in Warsaw!
For the “maritime empire”, a loss of Germany would have to be rapidly compensated by an increased presence in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Lithuania and almost every country East of Berlin and West of Moscow. Of course, this is what France and England (the “maritime empires of the day”) did in the 1930s— with limited success.
History shows that maritime powers almost always have the upper hand in any clash; if only because moving goods by sea is cheaper, more efficient, easier to control, and often faster, than moving them by land. So there is little doubt that the US continues to have the advantage. Simple logic, suggests that goods should continue to be moved from Shanghai to Rotterdam by ship, rather than by rail.
Unless, of course, a rising continental power wants to avoid the sea lanes controlled by its rival. Such a rival would have little choice but developing land routes; which of course is what China is doing. The fact that these land routes may not be as efficient as the US controlled sealanes is almost as irrelevant as the constant cost over-run of any major US defense projects. Both are necessary to achieve imperial status.
As British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson highlighted in his mustread East And West, empires tend to expand naturally, not out of megalomania, but simple commercial interest: “The true explanation lies in the very nature of the trade route. Having gone to all expenses involved… the rule cannot be expected to leave the far terminus in the hands of another power.” And indeed, the power that controls the end points on the trading road, and the power that controls the road, is the power that makes the money. Clearly, this is what China is trying to achieve, but trying to do so without entering into open conflict with the United States; perhaps because China knows the poor track record of continental empires picking fights with the maritime power.
Still, by focusing almost myopically on Russia, the US risks having its current massive head-start gradually eroded. And obvious signs of this erosion may occur in the coming years if and when the following happens:
- Saudi Arabia adopts the renminbi for oil payments
- Germany changes its stripes and cozies up to Russia and pretty much gives up on the whole European integration charade in order to follow its own naked self-interest.
The latter two events may, of course, not happen. Still, a few years ago, we would have dismissed such talk as not even worthy of the craziest of conspiracy theories. Today, however, we are a lot less sure. And our concern is that either of the above events could end up having a dramatic impact on a number of asset classes and portfolios.
And the possible catalyst for these changes is China’s effort to create a renminbi-based gold market in Hong Kong. For while the key change to our global financial infrastructure (namely oil payments occurring in renminbi) has yet to fully arrive, the ability to transform renminbi into gold, without having to bring the currency back into China (assuming Hong Kong is not “really” part of China as it has its own supreme court and independent justice system… just about!) is a likely game-changer.
Clearly, China is erecting the financial architecture for the above to occur. This does not mean the initiative will be a success. China could easily be sitting on a dud. But still, we should give credit to Beijing’s policymakers for their sense of timing for has there ever been a better time to promote an alternative to the US dollar? If you are sitting in Russia, Qatar, Iran, or Venezuela and listening to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, would you feel that comfortable keeping your assets, and denominating your trade, in dollars? Or would you perhaps be looking for alternatives?
This is what makes today’s US policy hard to understand. Just when China is starting to offer an alternative—an alternative that the US should be trying to bury—the US is moving to “weaponize” the dollar and pound other nations—even those as geo-strategically vital as Russia—for simple domestic political reasons. It all seems so short-sighted.
* * *
And so, if any of the above sounds even remotely plausible, then some investments may be today grotesquely mispriced, including:
- SELL US, British and French defense stocks: we may be reaching peak “military industrial complex”. In the coming years, the main foreign clients of Western weapons, namely Middle-Eastern monarchies may either (i) implode or (ii) take their business to China/ Russia. Meanwhile, Western defense stocks are priced for an ever growing order book.
- SELL French bonds and (non-Russian) Eastern European bonds: There is little value in these bond markets and should Germany ever decide to rotate away from further European integration, they would crash. At this point, these bond markets represent “return-free risk”.
- BUY Russian bonds: Russian bonds may well be among the world’s cheapest, yielding almost 8% for a real yield of above 4%. This for a country with almost no external debt to speak of, huge amounts of (Chinese) capital about to pour in, and a by-now established position as the first supplier into the world’s fastest growing market for oil imports.
- BUY Russian energy stocks: One of two things will happen. If Saudi Arabia continues to refuse renminbi payments, Russian energy companies will end up owning the Chinese market. Alternatively, if Saudi starts to accept renminbi payments for its oil, the US dollar will take another leg-down and energy prices will rebound (ensuring a rebound in oil stocks everywhere).
- BUY Renminbi bonds: As China moves to create both oil and gold contracts denominated in renminbi, and as more Asian and global trade starts to be denominated in renminbi, it is hard to think that total returns on renminbi bonds will not surpass those of most Western currencies. The returns may come from falling interest rates (as a growing number of market participants are forced to keep renminbi deposits to fund trade), or rising exchange rates. Or, most likely, a combination of both. But today, very few investors, and even fewer large institutions own any renminbi bonds. In five years’ time, the situation may be very different and it may make sense to buy renminbi bonds before Saudi Arabia confirms the currency shift as by that point a lot of the gains will likely have been harvested.
- BUY Gold and precious metal miners: In an initial phase, most countries and market participants will likely stay skeptical of China. As such, the demand for gold, as settlement for renminbi trade, will likely pick-up. At the very least, at current valuations, gold miners can be considered an option on market participants doing more in renminbi (to please China), yet exchanging their renminbi for gold (out of a lack of trust for the new continental empire).
- Paul Craig Roberts Reminds America – "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand"
The liberal/progressive/left are enjoying their drunkfest of denunciation. I can’t say I have ever witnessed anything like it. These are the people who sat on their hands for 16 years while Washington destroyed in whole or part seven countries. Not being satisfied with this level of warmongering and crimes against humanity, Washington orchestrated a conflict situation with Russia. Americans elected a president who said he would defuse this dangerous conflict, and the liberal/progressive/left turned on him. In contrast, one person is killed after the hated Charlottesville protest event was over, and there is endless absurd outrage against the president of the US.
Three New York Times presstitutes yesterday blamed the crisis on Trump, declaring him “increasingly isolated in a racial crisis of his own making.” Apparently, Trump is responsible for the crisis because he blamed both protest groups for the violence.
But isn’t that what happened? Wasn’t there violence on both sides? That was the impression I got from the news reporting. I’m not surprised that Trump got the same impression. Indeed, many readers have sent emails that they received the same impression of mutual violence.
So Trump is being damned for stating the truth.
Let’s assume that the impression Trump and many others got from the news is wrong. That would make Trump guilty of arriving at a mistaken conclusion. Yet, he is accused of instigating and supporting Nazi violence. How is it possible to transform a mistake into evil intent? A mistaken impression gained from news reporting does not constitute a “defense of white nationalist protesters.” An assertion by the New York Times cannot turn the absence of intent into intent. What the Establishment is trying to do is to push Trump into the arms of white supremacists, which is where they want him.
Clearly, there is no basis for this charge. It is a lie, an orchestration that is being used to delegitimize President Trump and those who elected him.
The question is: who is behind this orchestration?
The orchestration is causing people to run away from Trump or is being used as an excuse by them to further the plot to remove him from office.
Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum headed by Stephen A. Schwarzman ran away, just as members of the Carter Center’s board deserted President Jimmy Carter when he criticized Israel for its apartheid policy toward the Palestinians. The New York Times says that the armed services chiefs are running away. And the entire Republican Party.
The hypocrisy is stunning. For 16 years the armed services chiefs, the New York Times and the rest of the presstitute media, both political parties and the liberal/progressive/left have participated actively or passively in massive crimes against humanity. There are millions of dead, maimed, and displaced people. Yet one death in Charlottesville has produced a greater outpouring of protest.
I don’t believe it is sincere. I don’t believe that people who are insensitive to the deaths of millions at the hands of their government can be so upset over the death of one person. Assume that Trump is responsible for the death of the woman. How much blood is it compared to the blood on the hands of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama? It seems clear enough that the outpouring of grief is an orchestration designed to deligitimize the president and the people who elected him. We are now experiencing at home what the Obama regime inflicted on Ukraine, with the support of course of the liberal/progressive/left just as John Wight said in CounterPunch.
Just as the majority of the Maidan protesters had no idea they were being used, the same is the case for the majority of those protesting the false charge against Trump. For most of the liberal/progressive/left, the hatred of Trump and white nationalists that they are expressing is a reflexive result of the Identity Politics with which they are imbued.
Any objective reading of the situation has to conclude that the hate with which Trump and the “deplorables” who elected him are being covered far exceeds in amount the hate expressed by the white nationalists.
Members of the liberal/progressive/left are proclaiming that despicable people such as white nationalists should not be allowed to protest and should not be given a permit to protest. They forget that protest is a right.
The US Supreme Court settled the issue 40 years ago in 1977 by overturning an Illinois court order that blocked an extremist protest in Skokie, a Jewish suburb of Chicago. The Supreme Court ruled that protest is not limited by the fact that some people will be offended or by the chance that there will be violent reactions. Otherwise, whatever faction happens to be in charge can suppress dissent by everyone else.
For decades the liberal/progressive/left has invested heavily in driving people apart. Black studies, women’s studies, and Native American studies can easily cross into propaganda that generates hatred. As a man of peace said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Charlottesville has given us a debauchery of denunciation that proves that we are a divided nation. Does a nation so divided really want to be in conflict with Russia and China and Iran? If the US is the institutionalization of White Supremacy as the liberal/progressive/left says, how can it be that Americans are simultaneously the “exceptional, indispensable people” with the right to bomb other peoples into the stone age?
Obviously, there is a lot in this scenario that does not make sense.
My readers on my website are people capable of independent thought. They understand that an explanation of something is not an excuse for it. My explanations are explanations. They might be wrong, but they are not apologies. I find it necessary to say this, because my columns are reposted on many other websites where some of the audience wants to hear only what they already believe and are always looking for someone to denounce. It is a great disability for the United States that only a limited number of its citizens are capable of independent thought. Perhaps this is a problem for every country, but it most certainly is a problem for the United States.
The United States has another great disability, and that is that its intellectual class, or perhaps I should say its semi-intellectual class, has a large contingent of cowards who are too fearful to be truthful. Of course, considering the witchhunt mentality that Identity Politics has created, they have reasons to be fearful, but their cowardice leaves the burden of searching for and defending truth to a few.
* * *
Note: Virginia governor McAuliffe made false claims that were spread around the world by the presstitutes that the white nationalists had weapons caches and that the Virginia police were outgunned by the supremacists. Reason.com reports that the police have contradicted the moronic governor with the statement that no such weapons caches were found.
- Lord Rothschild: "Share Prices Are At Unprecedented Levels, This Is Not A Time To Add Risk"
One year ago, the financial world was abuzz when the bond manager of what was once the world’s biggest bond fund had a dire prediction about how “all of this” will end (spoiler: not well).
Gross: Global yields lowest in 500 years of recorded history. $10 trillion of neg. rate bonds. This is a supernova that will explode one day
— Janus Henderson U.S. (@JHIAdvisorsUS) June 9, 2016
Two months later, it was the turn of another financial icon – if from a vastly different legacy and pedigree – that of Rothschild Investment Trust Chairman himself, Lord Jacob Rothschild, who echoed Bill Gross with an unexpectedly gloomy warning in his 2016 half-year financial report, saying that central bankers are continuing “what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We are therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30% of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale.“
His outlook was just as gloomy: “the geo-political situation has deteriorated with the UK having voted to leave the European Union, the presidential election in the US in November is likely to be unusually fraught, while the situation in China remains opaque and the slowing down of economic growth will surely lead to problems. Conflict in the Middle East continues and is unlikely to be resolved for many years. We have already felt the consequences of this in France, Germany and the USA in terrorist attacks.”
One year later, the scion of the most (in)famous name in all of finance, is back and in his latest letter to RIT Capital Partners investors, Lord Jacob Rotschild has released what is perhaps his gloomiest outlook ever; here are the highlights:
We do not believe this is an appropriate time to add to
risk. Share prices have in many cases risen to
unprecedented levels at a time when economic growth is
by no means assured. The S&P is selling at 25 times
trailing 12 months’ earnings, compared to a long-term
average of 15, while the adjusted Shiller price earnings
ratio, which averages profits over 10 years, is
approximately 30 times.
The period of monetary
accommodation may well be coming to an end.
Geopolitical problems remain widespread and are proving
increasingly difficult to resolve. We therefore retain a
moderate exposure to equity markets and have
diversified our asset allocation towards equity
investments where value creation is driven by some
identifiable catalyst or which are exposed to longer-term
positive structural trends.
Furthermore, Rothschild continued the shift away from US capital markets exposure announced one year ago, noting that “we have a particular interest in investments which will benefit from the impact of new technologies, and Far Eastern markets, influenced by the growing demand from Asian consumers.” What is surprising is how aggressively Rothschild has cut its allocation to US-denominated assets in just the past 6 months.
Not surprisingly, RIT’s investment portfolio continues do quite well, and has now returned over 2,200% since inception
Below is a snapshot of where every hedge fund wants to end up: the Rothschild investment portfolio.
Finally, for all those wondering where the Rothschild family fortune is hiding, here is the answer.
- Australia Cracks Down On Bitcoin Exchanges; Shrugs Off Banks' "Systemic" Money-Laundering Violations
Australian Government Is Cracking Down On The Nonexistent Bitcoin Money-Laundering Epidemic
Australia’s largest banks can’t seem to go six months without a new scandal. In April, regulators accused Commonwealth Bank, one of the country’s largest financial institutions, of “systemic” money laundering violations, sparking an investigation into the broader banking sector, and the promise of heavy-handing civil penalties.
But instead of pursuing penalties that could lead to lasting reforms, Australia's regulators are cracking down on bitcoin, creating a new set of guidelines that will make it more difficult for customers to trade on local cryptocurrency exchanges by mandating needless anti-money laundering controls. They're prioritizing bitcoin over banks even though all relevant data suggest that organized criminal enterprises and terrorist groups overwhelmingly prefer to transact in cash.
According to Bitcoin.com, Australia’s Coalition Government has introduced a bill that would regulate digital currency exchanges, introducing “reforms” that will “strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and increase the powers of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (Austrac).”
Here’s Bitcoin.com with more:
"Among other proposals, the bill will “strengthen Austrac’s investigation and enforcement powers” as well as “close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of Austrac,” the announcement reads, adding that:
‘The bill provides a net regulatory relief to industry of $36 million annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements.’”
As Bitcoin.com explains, Australia’s new AML rules resemble regulations adopted by Japan and China over the past 18 months. In China, the crackdown on intraday high frequency trading triggered a decline in trading volume that caused the country to surrender its position as the bitcoin market leader.
“Earlier this year, following investigations by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), many Chinese bitcoin exchanges halted bitcoin withdrawals to extensively upgrade their systems for the purpose of AML and KYC compliance. Also the European Union has been discussing how to impose rules on bitcoin exchanges as part of its Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.”
Meanwhile, in what looks like an effort to compensate bitcoin traders for the overly stringent new regulations, Australia ended the double taxation treatment of bitcoin in July.
To be sure, some of the country’s lawmakers have come out as vociferously pro-bitcoin. Two senators issued a proposal to make bitcoin an official currency in Australia, something they say would boost the country’s financial competitiveness. Indeed, this legal maneuver would bring Australia one step closer to recognizing bitcoin’s value as a reserve asset. Recently, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin began building network of bitcoin miners with the aim of expanding the country’s hashing power to more than 30% of the network’s total. Any entity that controls more than 50% of the bitcoin network’s mining capabilities has de facto control of the network.
Here’s a quick summary of what the bill will do, courtesy of Australia’s Ministry of Justice:
Close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of AUSTRAC:
Strengthen AUSTRAC's investigation and enforcement powers.
Increase police and customs officers' search and seizure powers at the border.
Provide regulatory relief to industry through the deregulation of low-risk industry sectors.
The crackdown comes amid another big week for bitcoin: The digital currency climbed 16.5% to new record highs at around $4400. This is the 5th weekly rise in a row (and BTC is up 86% since the fork).
The full press release is available below:
* * *
The Coalition Government has today announced the first stage of reforms to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and increase the powers of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).
The reforms implement the first phase of the recommendations of the Statutory Review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, following extensive consultation with industry and our national security agencies.
These reforms appropriately balance the threat of organised crime and terrorism financing to the Australian community with ensuring excessive regulation doesn't hinder our financial sectors.
The Bill provides net regulatory relief to industry of $36 million annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements.
The threat of serious financial crime is constantly evolving, as new technologies emerge and criminals seek to nefariously exploit them. These measures ensure there is nowhere for criminals to hide.
Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defences and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime. AUSTRAC has a strong track record in ensuring our financial institutions comply with the law.
The private sector is an essential partner in ensuring Australian businesses are not exploited by criminals, and I thank industry for their constructive engagement during the development of this Bill. Engagement with industry is the bedrock of our money-laundering and terrorism-financing deterrence.
The AUSTRAC-hosted Fintel Alliance, launched by Minister Keenan in March 2017, is a world-first private-public partnership to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Through the Fintel Alliance, industry and government agencies co-design solutions that will transform the fight against terrorism financing and organised crime.
- The Truth Will Not Be Googled
Google has come under scrutiny by free-speech organisations for shutting down neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, seemingly too distracted to notice the tech giant has been waging a censorship campaign against news organisations that publish content which conflicts with the narrative of the Washington establishment, along with Facebook and Twitter on the grounds of ‘fake news’.
While web-hosting services have been criticised for cancelling the registration of neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, progressive left-leaning sites are losing Google ranking and traffic because of a deliberate move to censor “fake” news by the internet search giant.
New data released by World Socialist Websites (WSWS) revealed that sites such as Wikileaks, The Intercept, Electronic Frontiers Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Organisation, CounterPunch and many other organisations with the audacity to provide context about the activities of federal governments not reported in mainstream publications have experienced a significant drop in traffic after Google altered its algorithm.
(WSWS is an online news and information service founded by the International Committee of the Fourth International, the leadership of the world socialist movement).
Earlier this week, internet hosting provider, GoDaddy, announced it had cancelled US neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, for posting an attack on Heather Heyer, the protester who was murdered at the Klan rally in Charlottesville last week. Google and CloudFlare likewise cancelled its registration after the site tried to move its hosting over to their respective services.
But while these hosting services are being congratulated by some – and condemned by others on free-speech grounds – for ensuring that those looking to commit violence have to work slightly harder to get access to their like-minded Nazi communities, those who own the means of transmission – namely Google, Facebook and Twitter – are still preventing the rest of us from accessing information that allows people to make sense of the world around us.
Earlier this month, Google altered its algorithm – allegedly in an attempt to address the ‘fake news’ problem – and in doing so, a broad array of anti-establishment news organisations, whistleblower, civil-rights and anti-war websites were censored from its search listings. But most people were too distracted by the opinions of some low-level engineer on Google’s diversity hiring policies and its intolerance of conservative views in the workplace to take notice.
The data released by WSWS shows that since Google altered its algorithm, Wikileaks experienced a 30% decline in traffic from Google searches. Democracy Now fell by 36%. Truthout dropped by 25%. Its own traffic dropped by 67% percent over the same period. Alternet saw a 63% decline in traffic. Media Matters saw a 36% drop in traffic. Counterpunch.org fell by 21%. The Intercept fell by 19%.
In May, WSWS was ranked 5th in Google searches for the keyword ‘socialism’. Today the WSWS is nowhere to be found in the top 200 searches for the same keyword. In addition, Google blocked every one of WSW’s top 45 search terms.
Aaron Kaufman, director of development at progressive news outlet, Common Dreams said that Google Search as a percentage of total traffic to the Common Dreams website has decreased nearly 50 percent since May.
When human bias mistakes truth for bullshit
In a blog post published on April 25th, Google’s chief search engineer, Ben Gomez framed the issue as a change to the tech giant’s technical procedures in response to “the phenomenon of fake news”.
“The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information,” Gomez wrote.
“While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available. And while we may not always get it right, we’re making good progress in tackling the problem. But in order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes in Search are needed.”
Gomez revealed that Google had recruited more than 10,000 “evaluators” hired to judge the quality of various websites, “real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments,” though the chief search engineer did not identify the “evaluators” or explain the criteria against which websites are judged.
The ultimate irony: Google has seemingly allowed its evaluators to exercise their own biases when assessing the truth, accuracy and validity of these websites, and in doing so, are censoring essential information inconvenient to the narrative of the Washington establishment.
Illustration by Rachael Bolton
Corporate regulation and shadow-blocking
Google is not the only player in this censorship game. Earlier last year, anti-establishment information services – Renegade Inc included – experienced a 20% drop in traffic to its Facebook pages, after the social-network altered its algorithm, again, allegedly in an attempt to crack down on ‘fake news’.
And as some excellent reporting by Reveal News’ Aaron Sankin has demonstrated, Facebook’s moderator army is likewise using the social network’s reporting system to shut down dissenting voices, particularly activists, particularly activists of colour.
Likewise, Twitter is allegedly shadow-blocking those of the left and right who it perceives to be tweeting content that sits outside of the mainstream. Renegade Inc has not been immune from this sidelining.
While Twitter has formal mechanisms for trolls and those who post abusive content – in which case it will notify users they have been suspended and provide explanations as to why – shadow-blocking is a whole different ball game. ‘Shadow-blocking’ – or ‘shadow-banning’ – are terms used to describe a more informal mode of censorship whereby particular users will simply not show up when you search for their username. Certain tweets may disappear into the ether, and your content may only be visible to people who follow you but will not show up on any Twitter feed, even if after it is re-tweeted.
Russell Bentley, a former American soldier fighting fascism in the Ukraine under the Donetsk People’s Republic – a self-declared, Russian backed separatist state – had his Twitter account shut down two days ago after a sustained campaign of targeted harassment and death threats (prohibited by Twitter’s terms of service) by pro-nazi propagandists.
Most notably, Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic, recently fell victim to a shadow-ban by Twitter, allegedly for his views on Trump.
So too was Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee who told Renegade Inc that for weeks his own Twitter username does not show up when he searched for it from other accounts. Likewise his tweets disappeared, and were not visible to those outside of his network.
Meanwhile, those on the right claim their web traffic is also being restricted. Alt-right website Breitbart claimed both Google and Facebook had attempted to defund its site and those like it by altering Google Adsense and Facebook Audience Network.
Corporate regulation means never having to explain yourself
It is difficult to know whether these instances of censorship are a deliberate, or unintended side-effect of a fake-news crackdown because, unlike governments who have some semblance of an obligation to explain themselves, companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are under no obligation to be transparent about their reasoning or methods, claiming intellectual property rights over proprietary information, (their algorithms).
The result is a corporate regulation of the internet by companies with no obligation to explain how or why it changes its feeds or search listings.
Dr Monique Mann, researcher at Queensland University of Technology’s Crime and Justice Research Centre, and Director of Australian Privacy Foundation told Renegade Inc that these issues of censorship relate to broader issues around bias in computer systems.
“These decisions aren’t being made by formal enforcement bodies, or any kind of body with authorised legal powers,” she said.
“This process is occurring by transnational companies and platforms, these tech giants are acting like big regulators.”
Dr Mann says these instances of censorship by algorithm raises questions over trade secrets and proprietary rights.
“These trade secrets and algorithms are how they operate,” she said. “But they introduce additional challenges and barriers to transparency and accountability of algorithms, themselves protected under international property law.”
Hypothetically Google is applying a colour blind algorithm. Dr Mann says the question is over what happens when algorithms are built by “digital duopolies” to match societal expectations.
“Google is deciding what is an acceptable story, and what is unacceptable, whose views and voices are preferenced, and whose are silenced,” she said.
“There is no transparency and accountability. These companies are protected by very serious financial investments and fields of law.”
Dr Monique Mann told Renegade Inc that there has been a suggestion that some tweets made by President Trump violate Twitter’s terms of service, because they contain hate-speech that targets certain groups and minority populations: particularly Muslims and the LGBTQI community given his recent attempt to enact a Muslim ban and deny health care to LGBTQI servicemen, women and those who identify as neither, or have them thrown out of the service altogether.
“But are Twitter likely to block Trump for violating its terms of service?,” she asked. “These are all very loaded and difficult decisions around what constitutes hate speech vs political expression. These are very contested issues and I do not think there are any easy answers here.”
A battle for the heart and soul of the web
Dr Matthew Rimmer, Professor of IP and Innovation Law and Queensland University of Technology told Renegade Inc that how these companies manage information is becoming increasingly important.
“Their duties and responsibilities are becoming quite significant,” he said. “There is a battle for the heart and soul of the internet in many ways.”
Tim Berners Lee, (computer scientist and inventor of the World Wide Web), commented recently that the open system he helped create has come under threat from various corporate players who have enacted site blocking and surveillance. He said it is important to address the balance away from big IT companies and other corporations and national governments. He wants to recover the emancipatory potential of the internet and World Wide Web. There are some larger questions involved in terms of the future evolution of the regime.
Dr Mann said that automation through algorithm is ‘falling into a trap’ that is not going to find us any easy answers.
“These processes and the way they operate create a range of additional problems,” she said. “I don’t think technology in this situation is going to be the panacea for social issues.”
Don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
It is worth mentioning here that nothing Renegade Inc publishes is anything close to ‘fake news’ and we take exception at being treated as such. Rather we, and other like-minded publications that sit outside of the mainstream, are committed to providing much needed context that you won’t find in the New York Times or Washington Post, for example, publications that are far too cozy with intelligence communities.
You won’t find the Post or the Times reporting on the fact that the US and its allies are funding terror groups like ISIS, al-qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Nor will you find them reporting on the American interests at play in Venezuela, or Syria, Iraq, Iran or Libya. Or how freedom is a concept that has been co-opted by right-wing ideology.
Censoring access to sites like ours is what allows people to continue believing that America is fighting a war on terrorism, when in reality, it is funding, arming and training terrorist organisations to fight a proxy war on Middle East Socialism.
You won’t find corporate media reporting on how the economy really works, or the countries, governments, companies and individuals involved in the financialisation of the economy, or the role of central banking in the Global Financial Crisis.
Moreover, there would be no need for any of these services if establishment media could be trusted to provide readers with enough information, background and context to make rational decisions.
But when you accept the claims of the intelligence community as lore, when you accept that market freedom is the same as actual freedom and not a tool used to trick people into accepting permanent financial insecurity, the entire narrative for understanding the world and how we came to find ourselves on the sidelines of history, powerless to the whims of the new economic order, becomes a fiction. The system that took 35-years to build has worked perfectly, according to the rules upon which it has been set, and now it is being defended. So long as sites like these continue to be censored, we will never know the real terms of our enslavement, or how we let it happen.
- And The Best State To Grow Old In Is…
Elder-care company Caring.com recently conducted a study to determine the best US states to grow old in. And the winner is…
That's right: In addition to being one of the top 5 fiscally responsible states in the Union, the home of Mormonism is also the most friendly state for elderly Americans to grow old and retire in. Earlier this year, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University compiled a comprehensive study, based on a number of objective financial metrics, ranking the 50 US states according to their overall fiscal condition. Utah came in third behind Alaska and Florida.
But Utah handily bested both those states on a ranking based on 13 categories including quality, cost, and availability of health care for seniors, as well as factors that speak to the state’s overall quality of life.
Here’s a breakdown of the data, courtesy of Bloomberg:
New York, one of the worst states for retirees, was singled out because of the extreme disparity between health-care cost and quality, as Bloomberg explains…
“New York, No. 33 in the well-being ranking, was singled out by Caring.com for its extremes. The very high cost of the state’s health care doesn’t produce results close to commensurate with that spending, according to the report. While New York ranked 46th in cost (the lower the rank, the higher the cost), its life/health care quality rank was 34 (the lower the rank, the worse the quality). Massachusetts had a similar pattern; it ranked 49th in cost and 18th in quality. That’s reflective of a larger trend in the U.S.—high spending on health care isn’t translating into longer lives, as this interactive graphic demonstrates.”
Washington State and California do a better job of translating higher costs to better-quality care…
“Higher costs show more of a payoff in Washington state and California. Washington is 38th for cost and is the top state for quality of life and health care. California has a cost ranking of 36 and quality ranking of 3 (it’s tied with Oregon for quality).”
According to Bloomberg, the lighter the color, the higher the overall ranking of the state as a place to grow old.
The study was conducted by Caring.com, which ranked states on 13 categories, including quality, cost, and availability of health care for seniors. The study’s authors used a range of data sets, including Census data and proprietary data sets from AARP.
“The ranking, which drew on data from the U.S. Census, the insurer Genworth, AARP, the Commonwealth Fund, and Gallup-Healthways, among others, also factored in 150,000 consumer reviews from Caring.com’s database of facilities and care providers for seniors. The availability, quality, and cost of care for the elderly got greater attention in the report than some of the common measures used in retirement destination rankings.”
As Tim Sullivan, vice president at Caring.com, explains, the author’s decision to name the study “The Best States To Grow Old In” instead of “The Best States To Retire In” was meant to highlight an important distinction…
“One reason we call this report the best states to grow old, versus best states to retire, is because it’s really important for people to plan out their 60s, 70s, and 80s with as much care as they plan their retirement in their 30s, 40s, and 50s,” said Tim Sullivan, vice president at Caring.com. “Your needs change as you age, and they are not always going to be driven by the sort of leisure or amenities or weather considerations that are what a lot of people think about retirement.”
The report’s greatest utility, according to Bloomberg, is helping to spark a discussion about where millennials should plan on settling down for the long haul. Unfortunately, Utah is largely devoid of the amenities – like comprehensive public transportation and quality night life – that millennials covet. But affordable health care, low taxes and the state’s overall low cost of living make a compelling case for going without.
- Ann Coulter Rips into Trump For Bannon Firing, Favoring 'Fake News Media' Over Conservative
Content originally published at iBankCoin.com
Ann Coulter, the conservative firebrand who predicted Trump would win, much to the cackling laughter of the Bill Maher audience and panel, railed against Trump in an interview with Mark Simone.
Sounding despondent and admittedly ‘depressed’ over the recent firing of Steve Bannon, Coulter lashed out at the President, saying ‘it’s not a good idea to let the media know to manipulate him as President.’ Coulter was referencing Trump’s defensive posture and annoyance that Bannon had been credited with Trump’s election win. Over the past half year, the media, including comedy outlets, had lampooned Trump and Bannon — painting Bannon as the true, yet sinister, mastermind behind Trump’s success.
Coulter almost pined for the campaign era days of Trump, reflectively saying ‘finally, after 30 years, we’re gonna get a President not controlled by Goldman Sachs,’ making reference to the Goldman alumni stacking Trump’s cabinet.
Coulter threw down the gauntlet to Trump, saying, “if you really want to prove to us that Bannon had nothing to do with winning the nomination and then winning the Presidency, what you really want to do now is pedal to the metal on raising taxes on Wall Street (carried interest loophole), start deporting illegals, end NAFTA, bring the jobs back and build the wall.”
Ann furthered, “and if he does all those things, okay, I’ll say ‘My gosh Mr. President you’re right. Steve Bannon had nothing to do with your success.'”
The reason why she’s depressed over Bannon’s departure likely stems from the fact that all loyalists from inside the campaign, save Conway and Miller, have been purged from the White House.
“People like us should be a little depressed today because there’s no one on the President’s side in the White House anymore. “
She summed up Trump’s isolation succinctly, ‘it’s just you in the White House surrounded by the people you hired from Goldman Sachs. Don’t you want to have one guy in the White House on your side?’
Ann then ripped Trump to shreds for calling out ‘fake news media’ and then giving them exclusive access to him, saying ‘he’s calling Maggie Haberman (NY Times) everyday.’
“Why isn’t he giving all his interviews to Breitbart, Daily Caller? Why isn’t he directing his communications director, or press secretary, to call on the conservative media. No, the conservative media is totally dissed in the press briefing room.”
“He’s surrounded himself with the ruling class.” — Ann Coulter
If it acts like a duck, and quacks like a duck…
- Polish Minister Rages At Spanish Attacks: Europeans Must "Wake Up" To This "Clash Of Civilizations"
Europe must "wake up," urges Poland initerior minister Mariusz Blaszczak, telling state TV that "we are dealing with a clash of civilazations," where Muslim enclaves form “support bases” for terrorists.
The official, a member of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice Party (PiS), said he asked his country’s security services what they were doing to prevent similar incidents and noted that Poland is safe because “we do not have Muslim communities which are enclaves, which are a natural support base for Islamic terrorists.”
A “possibility” to prevent terrorism is closing in Europe, according to the minister. As RT reports, Blaszczak also lashed out at the refugee resettling scheme in the EU, claiming it's “encouraging millions of people to come to Europe,” and that would effectively have tragic consequences.
The blunt outburst comes a day after the deadly attack on a tourist area in Barcelona which left 13 people dead and more than 100 others injured.
The politician voiced his anti-immigration stance earlier this year when he suggested that Muslim settlements in Western Europe started from small numbers with Brussels now trying to shift responsibility.
Warsaw has been vehemently opposed to resettling migrants under a scheme advocated by Brussels and approved by the majority of European countries.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the Law and Justice leader, accused migrants in October 2015 of bringing cholera and dysentery as well as “all sorts of parasites and protozoa, which… while not dangerous in the organisms of these people, could be dangerous here.”
The xenophobic remarks caused controversy inside the government. Marek Sawicki, agriculture minister with the Polish People’s Party, the junior member of the ruling coalition, said this was “a reference to old, dangerous and dishonest sentiments from the time of the [Second World] war,”according to Politico.
Poland, along with Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia have firmly rejected the so-called refugee quotas, deepening East-West cracks in the 28-member bloc.
With every new terrorist attack carried out by non-EU nationals, the European public and politicians are showing growing discontent and unease.
Brussels has threatened legal action against the dissenting countries, filing a formal “infringement procedure” in June which could result in financial penalties imposed by the European Court of Justice.
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