Sep 04

Today’s News 4th September 2017

  • New NGO Racket: Smuggling, Inc.

    Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,

    • Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year.
    • This summer, even more than in previous years, it has become plain that some of the NGOs working in the Mediterranean are acting as something more than intermediaries. Many have in fact been acting as facilitators. This makes the NGOs effectively no more than the benign face of the smuggling networks. Undercover workers have also discovered NGOs handing vessels back to the smugglers' networks, effectively helping them to continue their criminal enterprise indefinitely.
    • A group that which seeks to oppose Europe's current self-destructive insane trajectory can now not even source independent financial support. Groups, however, that continue to push Europe along its current trajectory continue to get all the official support they need. In the difference in reaction to these two groups lies a significant part of the story of the ruin of a continent.

    Sometimes it is in the gap between things that the truth emerges.

    In recent years Europe has been on the receiving end of one of the most significant migrant crises in history. In 2015, in just a single year, countries such as Germany and Sweden found themselves adding 2% to their respective populations. Although much of the public continue to labour under the misapprehension that those still coming are fleeing the Syrian civil war; in fact, the majority of those now entering Europe are from Africa, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa.

    Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year. Spain — which had ducked much of the movement of recent years — now finds itself receiving thousands of people who are sometimes (as in this memorable footage from earlier this month) simply landing on the country's beaches and running straight into the country. In doing so, they are not only breaking into Europe in a fashion that is illegal, but flouting all the asylum protocols, and other protocols, however inadequate, that are meant to exist.

    In reaction to such events, the Spanish authorities have done something extraordinary. They have gone the way of the Italian authorities and made more efforts to intercept boats heading towards the country. Not in order to turn them around or block them, but in order to "rescue" them. In merely one day last week, the Spanish coastguards "rescued" 600 migrants. The purpose of the quotation marks around "rescue" is because its use in this context is highly contestable. Somebody may be rescued from a burning car, or rescued from a sinking boat. But if thousands of people intentionally head across narrow stretches of water, it can hardly be said that each and every one of them has been "rescued'.

    What have they been rescued from? They may be rescued from war. Or they may be rescued from poverty. Or slightly less rosy economic prospects than someone born in Spain. Most of these people have simply been rescued from Africa or whatever their country of origin. This situation leads to the questions which European politicians even now refuse to address — which is whether Europe should indeed be "rescuing" anyone who ends up in a boat near Europe.

    Whenever they are polled, the public in Europe consistently say that they want the migration to slow down or stop. This is a majority opinion in every European country. Across the EU as a whole, a recent survey found that 76% of the European public think that the European Union's handling of the whole crisis has been poor. But it is in the gap between the treatment of two actors in this crisis that we can discern a terrible fact about the fate of Europe.

    Throughout the crisis of recent years — and especially since the height of the crisis in 2015 — the official vessels operated by the European states have been joined by members of non-governmental organsations (NGOs), either on the vessels or running vessels of their own. A significant amount of the "rescue" part of the migrant crisis (finding boats and transferring those onboard onto safe vessels or guiding their vessels into port) has been done by NGOs. Organisations such as Save the Children and Médecins sans Frontières have been invited to do this by European government agencies, and many of them receive significant levels of government funding as well as charitable giving from the public.

    Yet, this summer, even more than in previous years, it has become plain that some of the NGOs working in the Mediterranean are acting as something more than intermediaries. Many have in fact been acting as facilitators. Agents who have infiltrated the NGO groups have found collusion between the NGOs and the smugglers networks, including coordination with these brutal and mercenary organisations. Investigations have found NGOs to have been breaking their own agreed operating rules by coordinating locations to meet and pick up vessels sent out by the smugglers. This makes the NGOs effectively no more than the benign face of the smuggling networks. Undercover workers have also discovered NGOs handing vessels back to the smugglers' networks, effectively helping them to continue their criminal enterprise indefinitely.

    Some NGOs that work to pick up migrants from boats in the Mediterranean and transport them to Europe have been discovered handing vessels back to smuggler networks, helping their criminal enterprise. Pictured: A small rubber boat overcrowded with migrants passes a boat set alight by the crews of Phoenix, a vessel operated by the "Migrant Offshore Aid Station" (MOAS) NGO, after all passengers were evacuated, on May 18, 2017. MOAS's protocol of torching the smuggling boats after debarkation prevents smugglers from reusing the vessel. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

    In frontline countries such as Italy, this unlawful activity has been causing growing public anger. Elsewhere in Europe, the notion that these NGOs are not entirely angelic in their operations is taking longer to sink in. But compare the reaction to them — in receipt as they continue to be of large quantities of public and governmental money — with a group that has a different view to that of the NGOs.

    At the start of this summer, a group called "Defend Europe" raised money to hire and sail a ship off the coast of Italy. The ship aimed to deter migrants from crossing the Mediterranean. One activist was recorded saying, "We want to get a crew, equip a boat and set sail to the Mediterranean ocean to chase down the enemies of Europe." Some of the other characters and rhetoric associated with this movement may be equally unsavoury. For some weeks, the "Defend Europe" vessel, with banners prominently displayed, has floated in the Mediterranean and told people in a variety of languages, "No Way. You will not make Europe home" and "Stop human trafficking."

    Now one may abhor this tactic, approve of it, or feel a whole range of emotions in between. The treatment of "Defend Europe', however, compared to the pro-migration NGOs, is startling. In recent weeks, when the "Defend Europe" vessel had some minor technical problems, it caused undisguised glee in the Western media. The suggestion that a pro-migration NGO vessel might have to rescue it caused even more delight. Now the group has had its sources of funding withdrawn. Not that "Defend Europe" would ever have received government aid. Far from it. But this past week, the US-based crowd-funding website Patreon shut down the group's profile page, making it impossible for them to raise funds through it. The ostensible cause was that Patreon believed the actions of "Defend Europe" were "likely to cause loss of life."

    It may easily be argued, of course, that pro-migration NGOs that are colluding with smuggling gangs and assisting them in their work are "likely to cause loss of life", if not in the Mediterranean then in encouraging thousands of people to give their money to smuggling gangs and encouraging millions more to set out for a new life in a continent which is increasingly less likely to receive them with warmth. A group that seeks to oppose Europe's current self-destructive trajectory can now not even source independent financial support. Groups, however, that continue to push Europe along its current trajectory continue to get all the official support they need. In the difference in reaction to these two groups lies a significant part of the story of the ruin of a continent.

  • The Rise Of The Deep State: How They Got Their Power To Manipulate For Ultimate Control

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    While many in the United States firmly believe that the government just isn’t working, it is.  But it’s only working for the powerful and rich elites in the government and the media who have a desire to cling to their oppressive control of others and the money many are willing to allow them to steal.

    The fight has never been between the republicans and the democrats.

    As Americans choose sides, their rights and freedoms are sold to the highest bidder. According to Intellectual Takeout, the fight is between “us” and the deep state; not those on the right and those on the left.  More and more often we are seeing bureaucrats, lobbyists, and elected officials of both parties circle the wagons in an effort to prevent any true reforms of the government. They constantly write laws they exclude themselves from,  come up with inventive ways to tax us to our breaking point and destroy the healthcare system.  And this is all by design.

    According to Joost Meerloo in his seminal book The Rape of the Mind, the author discusses the psychology of brainwashing that’s allowing every American to succumb to tyranny right before their eyes and not only not realize it, but beg for more oppression.  “The burning psychological question is whether man will eventually master his institutions so that these will serve him and not rule him,” said Meerloo in his discussion of the Deep State or the “administrative machine” published in 1956.

    Meerlo describes the rise of the deep state as:

    “… The development of a kind of bureaucratic absolutism is not limited, however, to totalitarian countries. A mild form of professional absolutism is evident in every country in the mediating class of civil servants who bridge the gap between man and his rulers. Such a bureaucracy may be used to help or to harm the citizens it should serve.

     

    It is important to realize that a peculiar, silent form of battle goes on in all of the countries of the world — under every form of government — a battle between the common man and the government apparatus he himself has created. In many places we can see that this governing tool, which was originally meant to serve and assist man, has gradually obtained more power than it was intended to have.

     

    Governmental techniques are no different from any other psychological strategy; the deadening hold of regimentation can take mental possession of those dedicated to it, if they are not alert. And this is the intrinsic danger of the various agencies that mediate between the common man and his government. It is a tragic aspect of life that man has to place another fallible man between himself and the attainment of his highest ideals.”

     

    The Rape of the Mind

    Meerlo goes on to say that the power of simply being in government will corrupt:

    Being a high civil servant subjects man to a dangerous temptation, simply because he is a part of the ruling apparatus. He finds himself caught in the strategy complex. The magic of becoming an executive and a strategist provokes long-repressed feelings of omnipotence. A strategist feels like a chess player. He wants to manipulate the world by remote control. Now he can keep others waiting, as he was forced to wait himself in his salad days, and thus he can feel himself superior.

     

    The Rape of the Mind

    But what we are seeing now is not only the corruption of the government.

    We are witnessing the deep state pulling the strings of every politician and fight to keep their power and moneyThe members of the Deep State are fighting for not only their jobs and their power but their sense of being. It is an ego boost to control entire populations. But what meaning do they have in life if they were shown that they are in fact dispensable, that they and their departments can be eliminated? In the end, their egos depend upon the maintenance and growth of the power and prestige.

    Over many decades, the very government so many still trust to keep them safe has put in place compulsive orders, red tape, and regulations while expanding exponentially to enforce what it creates and stealing more tax money to cover the rising costs. All the while, its roots drive deeper and deeper into the very government many still fight to protect. Even the politicians who we send to D.C. thinking that they represent us are ensnared in the game. They begin to play by the rules set forth by the Deep State; indeed, our elected officials even become dependent upon the Deep State.

    So the question is, how do we combat the deep state and get our freedom back?

  • Trump Has Decided To End DACA, "Igniting A Political Firestorm"

    On Friday, the White House announced that Trump would make his decision whether to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or “Dreamer, program on Tuesday. Well, we won’t have to wait to long, because according to Politico, Trump has made the decision to end the DAVA program with a six-month delay.

    Trump, who has faced strong warnings from both Democrats and Republicans not to scrap the program and struggled with his own misgivings about targeting minors for deportation, is said to have made up his mind and according to Politico, “senior White House aides huddled Sunday afternoon to discuss the rollout of a decision likely to ignite a political firestorm — and fulfill one of the president’s core campaign promises.”

    Trump will announce his decision on Tuesday, with Politico noting that the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning. Ryan had said during a radio interview on Friday that he didn’t think the president should terminate DACA, and that Congress should act on the issue. However, Trump’s conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress rather than the executive branch is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program, although Politico hedges that “the White House aides caution that — as with everything in the Trump White House — nothing is set in stone until an official announcement has been made.”

    In what appears to be another victory for the recently exiled “nationalist” wing of the Trump inner circle, the president’s expected announcement is likely to shore up his base, which rallied behind his broader campaign message about the importance of enforcing the country’s immigration laws and securing the border. At the same time, the president’s decision is likely to be one of the most contentious of his early administration, opposed by leaders of both parties and by the political establishment more broadly. It also indicates that despite his departure, Steve Bannon still continues to have major influence on the Trump White House.

    Still, in a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official. But a senior White House aide said that chief of staff John Kelly, who has been running the West Wing policy process on the issue, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.”

    As a result, the vast majority of the nearly 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children and who have benefitted from the program, are expected to lose their legal basis for continued presence in the United States, promoting even greater animosity between the Trump administration and the immigrant community.

  • 'Gunfight' Starts Over School Supplies At WalMart (Or Why Amazon Is 'Winning')

    If you had any reasons to question why increasing numbers of Americans are turning to Amazon.com for their everyday and anyday needs, the following clip will erase them…

    On Monday of last week, an argument broke out between two pairs of women over the last notebook on the shelf at the Novi Towne Center WalMart store, according to police.

    Video from a bystander shows a woman pull out a gun during the fight

    The fight involved two Farmington Hills residents, ages 46 and 32, and a mother and daughter from South Lyon, ages 51 and 20.

    WCRZ-FM reports that the two Farmington Hills women were shopping for school supplies, and when one of them reached for the last notebook on the shelf, a South Lyon woman also reached for it. Police told the Free Press that it was the 20-year-old who reached for it.

    The two women pulled the 20-year-old’s hair, and the woman's mother was pushed aside before pulling out a gun, according to Fox2Detroit.

    *  *  *

    And that's why Amazon's sales are soaring…

  • Latest Projections Show Hurricane Irma Headed For Florida

    As Hurricane Irma continues to move  west as a Category three storm, in what still is said to be an indeterminate path, according to the latest projections from Met Scientist Michael Ventrice, it now looks like Florida has the highest probability of a US landfall…

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    …though that doesn’t mean the Gulf of Mexico can rest easy. Hurricane forecasting is notoriously inaccurate one or two weeks out…

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    Before it nears the US, however, the storm is headed toward the Northern Caribbean, threatening to bring flooding rain and damaging winds to the Leeward Islands. Preparations for the storm should already be taking place in these areas, according to Accuweather.com.

    “Rain and gusty winds may start as early as Tuesday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.

    According to Accuweather, Irma’s intensity has vacillated over the past few days. But the storm is expected to strengthen to a category four hurricane with sustained winds of 130-156 mph as it approaches the islands. Thereafter, the storm will turn to the north and west over the coming days. This track will put Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, in the brunt of the storm's rain and wind spanning Tuesday and Wednesday.

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    Cruise and shipping vessels in the hurricane’s path will need to reroute.

    Later in the week, Irma will move close to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola with the worst of the storm expected to miss the islands to the north. Even so, rough surf, gusty winds and heavy rain will increase.

    Experts are concerned that the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas could face dangerous conditions at the end of the week and into the weekend as Irma passes nearby or possibly through the islands. Impacts will be severe if Irma maintains its strength and passes over them.

    Ultimately, the storm could land in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas or even closer to the Delmarva Peninsula. Or it could curve northward and miss the east coast entirely.

    “The eastward or northeast progression of a non-tropical system pushing across the central and eastern U.S. this week will highly impact the long-range movement of Irma,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

    How fast or slow this non-tropical system moves will determine whether Irma takes a west-northwest path toward the southern Atlantic Seaboard or gets steered north and away from land.

    * * *

    Readers may be wondering, if the storm slams southeast Florida, as is looking increasingly likely. Well, the Miami Herald spoke with one engineer who built a “dynamic” weather forecasting model that incorporates data like rainwater evaporation rates and how much of a given surface area is paved.

    “Omar Abdul-Aziz, an engineer and assistant professor at West Virginia University, has done just that with a new model he built while at Florida International University as part of a state-funded project to improve hurricane loss models. At the request of the Herald, he agreed to run three rainfall scenarios that might resemble Hurricane Harvey.

     

    The maps he produced stretch from Homestead north to Port St. Lucie, not including barrier islands which are separate land masses, and depict flooding after 48 hours from 20 inches of rain, 30 inches of rain, and 40 inches of rain.

     

    Because the maps cover a large area, they don’t show flooding at street level. But Abdul-Aziz said they do provide a far more accurate picture of what would happen across the region.”

    If his models are accurate, residents of densely populated cities like Miami might want to start bracing for floods. Abdul-Aziz found that floodwaters in parts of Miami, Hialeah, South Dade and Fort Lauderdale could rise between nine and 17 inches at least with this amount of rain. And with 40 inches of rain, flooding in those same neighborhoods, as well as many more, rises to between 23 inches and more than three feet — enough to begin damaging houses and partially submerge cars.

    “Because of the flat land and low elevation, water does not move fast. It goes slow and the drainage capacity is not designed to take that much rainfall,” he said.

    To build the model, funded with $533,000 from the state, Abdul-Aziz used the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest stormwater management model, which has been used since the 1970s to help communities plan water and sewer systems. They include local hydrology, land cover, ground level and local climate, but cover a smaller area.

    Abdul-Aziz mapped out three different flooding scenarios below:

     

    To be sure, the storm is still at least a week away. Depending on atmospheric conditions, it could menace a wide stretch of the US east coast. If it’s still a powerful category 3 or 4 storm when it hits – as projections suggest it would be – the US could be bracing for its second major natural disaster in two weeks.

  • China Battles "Impossible Trinity"

    Authored by James Rickards via Daily Reckoning blog,

    Just because something is inevitable does not mean it cannot be postponed.

    The popular name for this is “kicking the can down the road,” which is a perfectly good description.

    I prefer more technical terms such as dynamic systems in “subcritical” and “supercritical” state space, but it amounts to the same thing.

    A financial crisis can be a long time in the making, but it will definitely erupt. When it does, there will be huge losses for those who ignored the warning signs.

    China is in a pre-crisis situation today.

    It is confronting the harsh logic of the “Impossible Trinity.”

    The Impossible Trinity theory was advanced in the early 1960s by Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Mundell. It says that no country can have an open capital account, a fixed exchange rate and an independent monetary policy at the same time.

    You can have one or two out of three, but not all three. If you try, you will fail – markets will make sure of that.

    Those failures (which do happen) represent some of the best profit-making opportunities of all.

    Understanding the Impossible Trinity is how George Soros broke the Bank of England on Sept. 16, 1992 (still referred to as “Black Wednesday” in British banking circles. Soros also made over $1 billion that day).

    The reason is that if more attractive total returns are available abroad, money will flee a home country at a fixed exchange rate to seek the higher return. This will cause a foreign exchange crisis and a policy response that abandons one of the three policies.

    But just because the trinity is impossible in the long run does not mean it cannot be pursued in the short run. China is trying to peg the yuan to the U.S. dollar while maintaining a partially open capital account and semi-independent monetary policy. It’s a nice finesse, but isn’t sustainable.

    China cannot keep the capital account even partly closed for long without drying up direct foreign investment. Similarly, China cannot raise interest rates much higher without bankrupting state-owned enterprises.

    China is buying time until the Communist Party Congress in October.

    It’s important to realize that for Beijing, the Chinese economy is more than about jobs, goods and services. It’s a means of ensuring its legitimacy. The Chinese regime is deeply concerned that a faltering economy and mass unemployment could threaten its hold on power.

    Chinese markets are wildly distorted by the actions of its central bank. Given the problems inherent in trying to manage an economy without proper price signals, the challenge facing Beijing gets harder by the day.

    China has a long history of violent political fracturing, and the government is deeply worried about regime survival if it stumbles. Many in the West fail to appreciate Beijing’s fears and overestimate the support it has among the disparate Chinese people.

    What does China do next?

    Under the unforgiving logic of the Impossible Trinity, China will have to either devalue the yuan or see its reserves evaporate.

    In the end, China will have to break the yuan’s peg to the dollar in order to stop capital outflows without killing the economy with high rates. The Impossible Trinity really is impossible in the long run. China will find this out the hard way.

  • Gold Pops, Stocks Drop As Futures Open After Korean Chaos

    In an echo of last week's move following North Korea's teating of missiles across Japan's territory, futures markets are opening in a decidedly risk-off mannwr following North Korea's "hydrogen bomb" test. Dow Futs down 100 points, Gold jumping and Treasury bonds bid…

     

    All major US equity indices are down…

     

    Gold is back above $1340…

     

    USDJPY broke below 110.00

     

    And VIX futures are spiking back into last week's Korea crisis region…

     

    Of course, what happens next is anyone's guess as last week saw the BTFDers panic-buy stocks to their best week in 10 months1

  • VIX Set For Lowest Annual Average Ever, But…

    While intra-month the CBOE Volatility Index reached its highest since November, before plunging back to earth into the end of the month, VIX is still on track to post its lowest annual average on record.

    Bloomberg notes that in the past decade, VIX gains in August were followed by September declines in all but one instance.

    While VIX has collapsed so far this year, it may not last.

    Though VIX ended up paring its August gain to 3.2% – a gauge tracking longer-term wagers posted its biggest increase since January 2016.

    In fact, after last month’s 11 percent gain, the CBOE S&P 500 3-Month Volatility Index has reached its highest level relative to the VIX since Aug 2012's European credit crisis.

    The September Federal Reserve gathering and debt-ceiling discussions are among events that could lead to increased market volatility at a time when the S&P 500 Index trades near a record high.

  • What Will Stabilize Used Vehicle Sales? (Hint: Nothing Good)

    Authored by Daniel Ruiz via Blinders Off blog,

    Until this point, a lot of what I've shared with you is theoretically based on my knowledge and experience of used vehicle values and how I believe they affect new vehicle sales velocity. Today, I am going to share some some hard data that I've been researching with a great deal of effort.

    I genuinely believe that used vehicle values have a very significant effect on new vehicle sales velocity. I have explained it on Twitter and on a previous blog post through the concept of trade cycles. Because of this, I am certain that used vehicle values can be used as a leading indicator for inventory management at the manufacturing level, at the retail dealer level and certainly as an investment tool. However, I humbly hold that current used vehicle value indexes sources are not good enough.

    There is a very specific group of vehicles that can be monitored in order to better project results. The Manheim and NADA index both have too much noise in the data. For example, the Manheim Index has no model year restrictions and includes new vehicle price inflation in the calculations. NADA goes up to 8 model years. Both average the data over multiple months and include vehicles which, in my opinion, have little to no impact on new vehicle sales velocity. Therefore, I have decided to make my own index.

    For now, I'm going to use Ford as an example please ignore the red residual line until later.

    I have said numerous times that passenger vehicles are at a different points in the value cycle than trucks and SUVs.

    This is common knowledge at this point, and most have placed their faith on trucks and SUVs. This includes manufacturers shifting production and rental car companies changing their fleet mix to the better performing SUV and truck sector. Most analyst are looking at fuel prices to mark the top of the SUV and truck market. Here's what they've missed:



    Here's WHY this matters:

    Now back to residuals. What I want to drive home, in simple terms, is that assuming no change in demand, supply precedes price changes. When used vehicle values underperform residual values, the return rate of leases goes up. The opposite is also true. Less vehicles returned means less auction volume supporting higher prices. More vehicles returned means more auction volume supporting lower prices. Look at the charts again and note the acceleration of used vehicle value declines when used vehicle values fall below residual values. So where do we stand today? You tell me if this looks supportive of higher used vehicle values:

    You might wonder what will stabilize used vehicle values going forward. Consider this, a used vehicle is nothing more than a new vehicle transaction that drove off the dealer's lot.

    The answer, years of declining new vehicle sales and we are just getting started.

    If you feel that my insight might be a useful part of your investment decisions in the automotive sector, I offer phone consultations as well as in-person presentations through GLG.

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