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Sep 08

Today’s News 8th September 2017

  • Private-Plane Taxes: Another Way The Poor Subsidize The Rich

    Wealthy CEOs and athletes have found a loophole that allows them to minimize their tax bills while traveling in style – all at the expense of the everyday traveler who flies commercial and must bear an outsize percentage of aviation taxes in the US.

    According to a Bloomberg analysis of government data, operators of private jets pay far less in taxes than airline passengers and other commercial flyers. On a per flight basis, a private jet could generate as little as two percent of the taxes and fees paid by airline passengers on an identical route. Private planes make up about 10 percent of US flights under air-traffic control, yet pay less than 1 percent into a trust fund that finances air-traffic control and other Federal Aviation Administration operations.

    Sports teams like the New England Patriots are increasingly investing in private jets to take advantage of these cost-savings, Bloomberg reported.

    Of course, after years of declining prices, buyers of private jets can easily get a good deal if they’re willing to buy used. Sales prices for used jets have fallen as much as 35% over the past three years, with the average price falling from $13.7 million in April 2014 to $8.9 million today.

    Bloomberg’s analysis prompted some aviation experts to complain that private-jet owners aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

    "By and large, a private aircraft costs the same for the FAA to process as a large aircraft," said Michael Ball, senior associate dean at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of business and co-director of an aviation research consortium. "If you look at it from that standpoint, they clearly aren’t paying their due.”

    Private-jet owners, unsurprisingly, must have an army of powerful lobbyists in their employ, because, as Bloomberg explains, the US system where private owners are exempt from the bulk of taxes that commercial airlines pay is different from the system used by most of the rest of the world.

    “Unlike most of the rest of the world, which charges fees based on aircraft weight and distance flown, the taxes private jets in the U.S. pay are different from the ones imposed on airlines.

     

    Private aircraft operators pay 21.8 cents per gallon of jet fuel. By contrast, airlines and charter operators have three separate taxes: an excise tax of 7.5 percent on tickets or charter charges, a fee of $4.10 per passenger and 4.3 cents per gallon of jet fuel.”

    This means that airline passengers are effectively subsidizing some of the world’s largest corporations and wealthiest people under the current system, said Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

    "Pretty clearly, we all feel the pain every time we buy an airline ticket and see how big a share of the costs those fees are," Gardner said.

    Indeed, the disparity in taxes for comparable private and commercial flights can be staggering:

    “A transcontinental flight from New York to Los Angeles on a Virgin America Inc. Airbus SE A320, would be charged about $3,900 in taxes, assuming the plane was 85 percent full and passengers paid the average fare calculated by the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

     

    The tax bill for a flight between the same cities on a privately owned Bombardier Inc. Global 6000, one of the world’s longest range corporate jets, would be about $525. That’s about 87 percent less than the airline flight.”

    And the differences can be even larger if the private plane is a smaller model that burns less fuel.

    “A trip from Nashville, Tennessee, to Philadelphia by Southwest Airlines Co., which typically uses a Boeing Co. 737-700 on that route, would typically be charged more than $2,000 in taxes. An Embraer SA Phenom 100E, a smaller and more fuel efficient corporate jet, on the same leg would be assessed about $50, or roughly 2 percent of the Southwest plane.”

    Putting their total tax contribution in context, private business plane owners contributed just $104 million to the FAA’s trust fund in 2016 – that amounts to just 0.7 percent of the overall aviation taxes paid that year.

    “The FAA estimated that these business planes contributed $104 million to the trust fund in 2016. That amounts to just 0.7 percent of the overall aviation taxes. That compares to 92 percent of the tax payments, or more than $13 billion, that came from U.S. carriers, foreign airlines and charter carriers — most of which were paid directly by passengers.”

    And thanks to their army of lobbyists, private jet owners have virtually guaranteed that the tax disparity will persist.

    “Any potential changes in the taxes on private aviation were effectively taken off the table this year by the powerful chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster.

     

    In order to mute opposition to his plan to create a nonprofit company to operate the air-traffic system, Shuster’s bill would keep the current tax levels for private planes. Shuster’s attempt to mollify private plane owners has had little effect as they continue to oppose his proposal. The bill has passed the committee and is awaiting a vote before the full House.”

    As one expert pointed out, if the purpose of the FAA’s tax system was to evenly distribute costs for maintaining the US’s aviation infrastructure among its users, than the current system is an abject failure.

    “If the purpose of aviation taxes is to create an equitable way to pay for the air-traffic centers, computers and radars, the existing system is a failure, said Robert Frank, a professor at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management.

     

    “It doesn’t sound like this fee structure comes even close to imposing fees on the costs respective users impose on the system,” Frank said."

    But hey…like they say, life isn’t fair.

  • Jim Rickards: The North Korean Endgame is Playing Out Now

    Via Daily Reckoning,

    As mounting tensions rise from the latest round of nuclear testing out of North Korea, Jim Rickards believes a considerable window is closing by the United States. The threat of a nuclear armed and capable North Korea is a line that the currency wars expert and macro analyst believes the United States will now allow to be crossed. Speaking on CNBC’s Capital Connection Rickards offered his latest critique of the restrictions and response by the international community on North Korea.

    The interview began with a question what an oil embargo would mean for North Korea and how it would impact that country. Rickards blasts,

    “North Korea has already beaten the world to the punch. They’ve been building up their strategic oil reserves. What that means is they have an estimated year’s worth of held in reserve and China has played a role in these things in the past.”

    Jim Rickards is the editor of Strategic Intelligence and a best-selling author featured in the New York Times for his latest work, The Road to Ruin. Rickards’ worked on Wall Street for over three decades and has advised the U.S intelligence community on international finance, trade and financial warfare tactics.

    “The area that would be effective for a reactionary measure would be for the United States to exclude the People’s Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and some of the other major Chinese banks from within the U.S dollar payment systems. The U.S could completely shut down the U.S operations.”

    On the keys to a successful response, Rickards notes that China plays a pivotal role. The macro analyst relays, “Ultimately, the Chinese are facilitating the North Korean finance. The move would be a kind of sanction with bite behind it. My expectation would be that China wouldn’t necessarily put pressure on North Korea. In reaction we could see escalation of further sanctions from the Chinese against the United States leaving for a trade and financial war without solving the North Korean situation.”

    Speaking on the impact of nuclear development in the country the intelligence community advisor warns, “Currently, North Korea is in what is classified as a ‘break out.’ Under typical nuclear development phases, we’ve normally seen countries that are cheating on nuclear development programs complete their operations in baby steps.  In the process they proceed gradually and when they do draw attention will stall programs until beginning again at a later date. North Korea has put that pattern aside and is in complete breakout.”

    “To give a U.S football comparison, they’re in the red zone and the quarterback is simply about to throw a pass into the end zone. The leader of North Korea is going for it and not hiding anything.

     

     The leadership in North Korea is hoping that the United States is bluffing and that they will be able to get a serviceable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a hydrogen bomb that could threaten or destroy Los Angeles before the U.S could do anything. The United States is facing a six month window to act and I believe they will.

    When asked about the preemptive strike threat by the United States and what it means for China the currency wars expert narrowed in, “China will be looking out for its own interest. They will have great concern over a U.S ground invasion in North Korea and as was the case in 1951 they would be highly concerned over any proximity of forces to the border. There would also be concerns that the U.S is attempting to reunify the Korean Peninsula under U.S strategic interests.”

    “The way I expect that the U.S government will approach the situation is to approach China in outlining that it will be functioning toward strategical means. What that would signal is that they are not going to get anywhere near the Yalu River and that special operations and cyber warfare will be a key role.”

     

    “My expectation is that the first steps will see the country going dark by shutting down the power grid and cutting off the command and control operations. From there they will use psychological warfare tactics. The objective will be to disrupt all North Korean operations before the heavy bombers move in. North Korea will be limited and reduced in its artillery response.”

     

    “All of that will be relatively close to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) region. By indicating to China that when the U.S military operation is over, they will be looking to open up communications and negotiations to reunify stability on mutually acceptable terms.

    As Rickards noted previously, North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon early on Sunday, Sept. 3. This was the sixth time they had done so, but the first time since their ICBM missile tests and the first time under President Trump’s administration.

    This test was different in another important way. It is estimated to be a hydrogen bomb instead of an atomic bomb. The difference is significant.

    Both types of nuclear weapons work by releasing neutrons in critical-state radioactive material, either highly enriched uranium or plutonium. The difference is that the atomic bomb works by fission, literally “splitting” an atom, so that a neutron is emitted, collides with other atoms and causes a chain reaction with an enormous release of energy.

    The hydrogen bomb works by fusion. Atomic particles are “fused,” or pushed together, in a way that destabilizes the atom and also releases a neutron.

    Both methods start a chain reaction. But the fusion method in a hydrogen bomb is orders of magnitude more powerful. The destructive force can be 100 or even 1,000 times greater than that of an atomic bomb.

    This gives North Korea many more options in their attack scenarios.

    They can put more destructive force in a smaller space, thereby achieving the warhead miniaturization needed to fit on an ICBM.

    They do not have to worry as much about accuracy. An atomic weapon has to hit the target to destroy it. A hydrogen bomb just has to come close. This means that North Korea can pose an existential threat to U.S. cities even if its missile guidance systems are not quite perfected. Close is good enough.

    Finally, a hydrogen bomb gives North Korea the ability to unleash an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). In this scenario, the hydrogen bomb does not even strike the Earth; it is detonated near the edge of space. The resulting electromagnetic wave from the release of energy could knock out the entire U.S. power grid. Good luck with your bitcoins in that scenario.

    Got gold?

    These threats are existential from a U.S. perspective. Deterrence does not work when the opponent has so little to lose.

  • Expats Don't Want To Live In The US & UK Anymore

    Few anticipated that the UK would vote to leave the UK. Even fewer expected that President Donald Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton in November’s US presidential election.

    So unsurprisingly, members of the internationalist class of workers who populate urban centers like New York City and London – and who have the most to lose from nationalist economic and immigration policies – now perceive the US and Britain as less friendly to foreigners, not to mention less politically stable, according to a survey of 13,000 expatriates of 166 nationalities that was cited by Bloomberg.

    The respondents said that quality of life in both countries is declining by other measures, including the affordability of child care and health care. However, we don’t think one can easily blame that on the election.

    The UK ranks 54, down 21 places from last year’s survey, after its June 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Before the referendum, 77 percent of expats had a favorable opinion of the nation’s political stability. That’s down to 47 percent this year.  The survey was conducted in February and March, before the most recent British election. Just half of expats say the UK has a good attitude toward foreign residents, compared to 67 percent worldwide.

    Expats in Britain have also soured on its economy. The weak pound and higher inflation put the UK 59th for personal finance. Almost two-thirds of its expats have an unfavorable opinion of its cost of living, with 69 percent unhappy with the affordability of housing. Three out of five expats also don’t appreciate the weather in the UK.

    The US has seen a commensurate decline in public opinion. Just 36 percent of expats have a positive view of America’s political stability, down from 68 percent in last year’s survey. Overall, it ranks 43 of 65, down 17 places from last year.

    Overall, the U.S. is ranked 43rd of 65 contenders, 17 places lower than last year. But its reputation was already falling before the election results came in. As recently as 2014’s survey, the US was No. 5. One bright spot is that 69 percent of expats have a favorable view of the American economy.

    Some 72 percent of expats in the US say health care is unaffordable; the world’s largest economy ranks 50 by measures of health and well-being. Its transportation infrastructure was rated “very good” by just 15 percent of the expats, less than half of the global average. Meanwhile, the US ranks last for affordability of child care and 39 out of 45 countries ranked for education affordability.

    Despite all the talk about President Donald Trump stoking resentment against immigrants, expats still view the US as a welcoming country. Though that perception is beginning to shift…

    “Three years ago, 84 percent of expats rated the U.S. positively on “friendly attitude to foreign residents,” and just 5 percent negatively. By 2017, the negative ratings had tripled, and the positive ratings had dropped 16 points.”

    Many smaller economies outranked larger developed countries. Ironically, the top-ranked country in 2017 was Bahrain. We wonder: Would Bahrain’s sizable population of Asian “foreign workers” feel the same?

    “The top-ranked country in 2017 is Bahrain, given high marks by its expats as a place to work and raise a family and for making foreigners feel welcome. It vastly outranks Persian Gulf neighbors such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which ranked in the bottom 10 of the 65 countries in the survey.”

    While the US and UK have both experienced a reputational hit, surprisingly it was Australia that saw the largest drop of any national present in the rankings, sliding from tenth most expat-friendly country to 34th. Meanwhile, Greece ranked dead last, despite its warm climate and beautiful beaches.

    “Greece was at the very bottom of the list, weighed down by the country’s economic problems. Australia, which ranked in the top 10 last year, dropped more than any other country, to 34th place. Expats’ ratings of jobs, career prospects, work hours and work-life balance all dropped.”

    In another twist, China ranked as one of the expats’ favorite places, despite the severe pollution and the quality and cost of health care and education. Two-thirds of respondents said they were happy with their careers, though the country ranked 55 out of 65 for overall quality of life. Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan, which topped last year's list, slipped to fourth place, while Singapore climbed into the top 10. Hong Kong languished at 39, up from 44 last year.

    The survey was conducted by InterNations, a Munich-based network of 2.8 million expats. The survey includes interviews with executives, skilled workers, students and retirees who live outside the country where they grew up. There are about 50 million expats worldwide, according to market research by Finaccord, and the number is expected to hit 60 million over the next five years.

     

  • Dollar Bloodbath Continues Across Asia, Gold Tops Election-Night Spike Highs

    Having plunged by the most in 6 months during the US day session, the dollar is continuing to get pounded across AsiaPac with Hong Kong Dollar and Yuan surging. Gold is extending gains, breaking above the spike highs from election night…

    The Dollar Index is in free fall…This is the 7th straight down day for the USD Index…

     

    There is not much support below here…

     

    Driven by widespread selling across Asia… The last 3 days have seen the biggest collapse in the dollar since the start of January.

     

    With the Hong Kong Dollar exploding higher (and 12mo forwards signaling expectations of a major collapse in the US dollar, breaking the Hong Kong peg)…

     

    Offshore Yuan is spiking higher against the dollar…

     

    But all Asian currencies are surging against the dollar tonight…

     

    And gold is spiking back above the election night highs…

     

    Did President Trump's "we don't need no stinking debt ceiling" decision finally break the back of dollar hegemony?

    Or is this the market calling The Fed's bluff and forcing them to hike rates to defend the dollar – and by doing so losing all data-dependent credibility (whatever is left)?

  • Globalists Will Throw Antifa To The Wolves To Further Their Agenda

    Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

    In numerous interviews and articles, including my essay 'Globalist Strategy: Use Crazy Leftists And Provocateurs To Enrage/Demonize Conservatives', I have warned leftists that they are being exploited by globalists as a means to drive conservatives towards greater centralization under Trump and the federal government and that if they continue on the path they have embraced, a totalitarian response may be imminent.

    I have also made it clear to conservatives that cultural Marxist groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter as they exist today are paper tigers; they are not physically or strategically capable of backing up the viciousness of their ideologies. Meaning, a totalitarian response is not warranted (a totalitarian response is NEVER warranted) and would in fact only help the globalists in their long term efforts to destroy our Constitutional principles.

    To summarize, the goal of the establishment is to use extreme leftist groups like a short stick to prod the real tiger – conservative movements. The goal, I believe, is to enrage liberty champions to the point that they are willing to "bend the rules" and rationalize the abandonment of their morals in order to defeat what they think is a great evil. Like all morally relativistic shifts in society, there is always the claim that it is for "the greater good of the greater number", or, "the other side is much worse, therefore we are justified in our tyranny…".

    In the end, groups like Antifa will be thrown to the wolves, because the globalists do not intend for them to "win" any engagement with conservatives. This was never the plan.

    If you want to measure the speed at which our nation is destabilizing under this agenda, it is helpful to watch how quickly government institutions and politicians abandon or turn on the leftists. The faster they do so, the more likely it is that a major crisis event is in the making.

    In the past week alone, the entire narrative surrounding the mainstream relationship to Antifa has turned sour. For example:

    According to documents obtained by Politico, the FBI and DHS have now officially classified Antifa as a terrorist group. The DHS has stated that these documents were not meant to be made public.

     

    The mainstream media, the largest backers of cultural Marxist groups, must have received a memo, because their tune has quickly morphed to the negative when dealing with Antifa. The Washington Post chastised them for attacking "peaceful right-wing demonstrators" (did you EVER think you would see the words "peaceful right-wing protestors" in an establishment rag like The Washington Post?).

     

    The Los Angeles Times also admonished far-left violence, while The Atlantic warned of the "rise of the violent left."

     

    Even crazed leftist zealot Nancy Pelosi has publicly turned against Antifa, stating that violent members should be "locked up."

    This is a rather fascinating 180-degree turn from a couple of weeks ago when all eyes were on "white nationalist" groups as the primary threat to America. But does this mean that the establishment did some soul searching and realized who the real purveyors of violence and conflict are? No, it does not.

    As I have been predicting since before the 2016 elections, the left's usefulness has a shelf life. If the establishment was interested in following through with the concept that Trump must be "unseated," then they would retain full public support behind groups like Antifa. Instead, the establishment is playing the game of the hidden hand.

    Right now,it would seem that Antifa groups are to take on the role of the underdog — the battered but still active insurgency against an "increasingly fascist regime." A few events need to take place in order for this narrative to hold any weight in the national consciousness, however. For example, while globalists may back away from support of extreme leftists in public, they will most likely continue with private support and funding as men like George Soros have always done. Leftists will also have to be inspired to even greater violence than they have already committed.

    As I discussed in my article 'Militant Leftists Are More An Annoyance Than A Real Threat To Liberty', published in May, regular Antifa protest organizations are not a true threat. That said, eventually there will be Antifa groups that are directly trained by government agencies to commit terrorist acts, much like The Weather Underground in the U.S. in the 1970s, or the controlled and well armed terror groups in Europe during Operation Gladio from the 1950s to the 1990s. In the end, all leftists will be associated with the actions of these false-flag groups.

    In the meantime, the Trump administration is playing its part by preparing the ground for a future martial law-style crackdown. Trump's latest executive measure? Bringing back Department of Defense program 1033, which funnels considerable amounts of surplus military hardware to police departments across America.

    What happens next?  Well, in my view the next most logical step for the globalists would be to initiate an attack of some kind on a civilian or government target and ensure that leftists are involved or blamed.  With the fanaticism of the left today almost on par with the fanaticism of Islamic fundamentalists, I imagine it will not be very hard to find some useful idiots to carry out such an action.

    Most likely attack scenarios in my view? Leftist terror groups supported covertly by governments have often gravitated towards bombings as their preferred method. On a larger scale, I would not rule out assassinations of politicians or even a FAILED assassination attempt on Donald Trump. These would be perfect triggers for a wider federal crackdown on leftists, fueling even greater animosity for Trump by progressives and providing a rationale for martial law for conservatives.

    For some people uneducated on the finer points of false flag terrorism, this will sound like "conspiracy theory." Some of it is indeed speculation on my part, but all of it is based on exposed programs of past high profile operations by various establishment entities to engineer civil unrest or to manipulate one part of a society to support more centralization and less freedom.

    Again, as I have said all along, the real target has always been conservatives. Conservative principles are the primary threat to globalism. In order to eliminate these principles, it is not enough to attempt to eliminate the people that hold them dear. This will only inspire the spread of such ideals; the globalists would achieve the opposite effect they desire. Therefore, they need to manipulate conservatives into voluntarily abandoning those principles of constitutional liberty and limited government. Conservatives must be made into tyrants. Only then will conservative principles truly die out.

    Leftist groups like Antifa are meant as a catalyst for this transition, much like their communist forebears were a catalyst for the rise of fascism in Italy in the early 1920's. They will not be the only mechanism, but they will be an important mechanism. As we witness the mainstream turning on the extreme left, the temptation will be to assume victory — that we have won and that the fighting will soon be over. Nothing could be further from reality. Antifa is not going away, it is merely changing into something worse; something more useful to globalists like Soros. If we find ourselves distracted from Constitutionalism and our pursuit of the globalists by this new and more violent incarnation, it will be conservatives, not leftists, that will end up becoming the pinnacle threat to our own ideals.

  • China Capitulation: Corriente Advisors' Mark Hart Ends 7-Year Bet On A "Massive Yuan Devaluation"

    China bears like Kyle Bass claimed victory last year after bets that the Chinese yuan would weaken paid off handsomely – particularly if they were supercharged by leverage. Hopefully, for their sake, yuan decided to lock in those gains early this year. Because since January, China’s currency has whipsawed higher, reversing most of its 2016 depreciation as the US dollar has endured a period of broad weakness, and Chinese policy makers have turned their attention to managing the currency’s valuation against a basket of currencies.

    But Mark Hart, who, like Bass is a Texas-based fund manager, and who built his bear case against China on the theory that the PBOC would opt for a series of one-off devaluations in the yuan, instead of allowing it to gradually depreciate, which would be tantamount to a policy error.

    Here’s more from a post on Hart’s outlook that we published last year:

    “Hart believes that the Chinese crawling devaluation is an error as it carries with its the latent threat of much more devaluation in the future, thus encouraging even more outflows, which in turn forces China to sell even more reserves, which destabilizes the economy even further, forcing even more devaluation and so on.

     

    Instead, a one-off devaluation would allow policy makers to “draw a line in the sand” at a more appropriate level for the yuan, easing pressure on China’s foreign-exchange reserves and removing an incentive for capital outflows, according to Hart, who’s been betting against the currency since at least 2011. He adds that China should devalue before its $3.3 trillion hoard of reserves shrinks much further, he said, because the country can still convince markets it’s acting from a position of strength.”

    According to Hart, while a devaluation this year would be “jarring” and may initially accelerate capital outflows, it would ultimately put China in a stronger position. He said the country could explain the move by saying it would put the yuan at a level more reflective of market forces and allow the currency to catch up with declines in international peers.

    However, the 50% devaluation that Hart had been anticipating never materialized. So, after seven years, Bloomberg is reporting that Hart has (pun intended ) had a change of heart after spending $240 million on his losing bet against the currency, which nearly cost him his sanity.

    Hart is now taking the other side of the trade, joining the ranks of Bridgewater Capital’s Ray Dalio and other yuan bulls:

    “Mark Hart spent seven years and $240 million waiting on a crash in China’s currency.

     

    He lost sleep. He lost clients. He damn near lost his sanity.

     

    And now he’s lost his conviction: Hart, who called for a more than 50 percent yuan devaluation last year, has turned bullish on China and its currency.”

    According to Bloomberg, Hart’s dedication to his short-yuan position left employees demoralized at his Fort Worth, Texas fund. Hart claims that his investing thesis was sound. His biggest mistake? Hart says he was “too early” in putting on the trade.

    “His reversal hasn’t come easily. From his base in Fort Worth, Texas, the hedge fund manager spent countless nights on the line to Hong Kong, parsing market news and exchange rates. At times, the stress took a toll on Hart personally and left his employees demoralized.

    ‘I always thought we had a good risk-reward trade on, but we made a number of mistakes, including being way too early,’ Hart, who started the yuan bet after predicting both the U.S. subprime mortgage bust and the European debt crisis, said in a telephone interview. ‘And now the world has changed.’”

    Hart now believes that G-20 leaders tacitly conspired to a “Plaza Accord”-type agreement to stanch the dollar’s appreciation while putting a floor under the yuan last February during a G-20 summit in Shanghai.

    “In cool hindsight, the 45-year-old founder of Corriente Advisors sees last year’s Group of 20 summit in Shanghai as a key turning point. Like many investors, Hart suspects the meeting resulted in a tacit agreement among world leaders to prevent the yuan from tumbling. He calls it China’s “whatever it takes” moment – when policy makers resolved to prop up the currency at any cost.”

    The agreement has tremendously benefited China, Hart says.

    “‘China now has the breathing room it needs to either temporarily stave off a slowdown with fiscal and monetary stimulus, or reform, grow and upgrade itself into the world’s largest developed economy,’ Hart said.”

    Regardless of whether Hart’s “conspiracy theory” is accurate, China has clearly succeeded in stabilizing the exchange rate. The yuan ended a three-year slide in late December and has rallied almost 7 percent in 2017. China’s central bank strengthens its daily reference rate for onshore yuan for a ninth day on Thursday, the longest run of increases since January 2011. The PBOC raised the yuan reference rate by 0.06% to 6.5269 per dollar, extending the strengthening streak since Aug. 28 to 2%. Meanwhile, the offshore yuan surged, sending the USDCNH below 6.50 for the first time since May 3, 2016.

    Even at its weakest point, the yuan never weakened enough for the options that Hart originally purchased in 2009 to pay off. His dedicated China funds, which had fixed lifespans, bought options that were designed to deliver one of two outcomes. According to Bloomberg, a massive payoff in the event of a currency crash, or a near total wipeout if a major devaluation failed to occur.

  • Florida Sheriff Will Check For Warrants At Hurricane Shelters

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    If you have a warrant out for your arrest and manage to safely make it to a Florida hurricane shelter while Hurricane Irma barrels down on the state, a Florida sheriff will make sure you’re escorted right to jail.

    As Hurricane Irma approaches his state, a county sheriff in Florida said that law enforcement authorities would check the identities of people who turn up at shelters and take to jail anyone found to have an active arrest warrant. On Wednesday, Grady Judd, the sheriff in Polk County, announced the maneuver in a series of messages on Twitter.

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    We cannot and we will not have innocent children in a shelter with sexual offenders & predators,” the sheriff said, adding law enforcement officers would be posted at shelters to check IDs.If you have a warrant, turn yourself into the jail — it’s a secure shelter.”

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    A spokeswoman for the sheriff, Carrie E. Horstman, said that the authorities hoped the effort would encourage turnout at shelters if county residents know they are safe. Horstman said, “We hope it actually leads to more people turning themselves in.” In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Ms. Horstman said that officers are obligated to take a person into custody if there is a warrant for their arrest and that in some misdemeanor cases a person can be released on bond immediately before they even go to a shelter.

    “Our hope even before they reach a shelter is that they will turn themselves into law enforcement prior to that,” she said. “It is normal protocol to have an accountability log and to know the names of each person going in,” she said. “We need to know who is in there.”

    But not everyone was thrilled with the Sheriff’s announcement, however.

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    The Polk County sheriff’s announcement that the authorities would use the hurricane as an opportunity for arrests drew widespread criticism online, leading some to question just how far the checks would go, such as whether Sheriff Judd would jail those wanted on traffic or drug charges, The Orlando Sentinel reported.

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    The backlash over this announcement was swift and more appear to be against the arrests at the shelters than for them. These announcements also come as word of police turning away volunteers bringing supplies to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, and yelled at for trying to help others.

    The sheriff’s office made these announcements as residents of the state of Florida stocked up on supplies or made preparations to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma. Making arrests a top priority over human lives appears callous to Florida residents, especially in the wake of the damage currently being inflicted by Irma on the Caribbean.

    The massive hurricane, which battered the northeast Caribbean on Wednesday is now moving on to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. According to a majority of the latest projections, the Category 5 hurricane could make landfall in Florida by Sunday, although it was unclear where exactly that might happen. But the state is already bracing for impact. On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott activated the state National Guard and declared a state of emergency across the state.

    Polk County boasts a population of over 600,000 people, and none of the hurricane shelters have begun accepting evacuees just yet.

  • Hillary Fundraiser Offers Thoughts On Her Upcoming Book Tour: "Shut The F**k Up And Go Away!"

    After days of the media reporting on leaked excerpts from Hillary’s upcoming book entitled “What Happened,” it now seems that some Democrats are growing just as weary of Hillary’s perpetual excuses and endless clamoring for the spotlight as their colleagues on the right side of the aisle.  According to The Hill, one rather blunt former Hillary fundraiser said that he wished “she’d just shut the f**k up and go away.”

    Not everyone was so charitable. Even some of Clinton’s allies have grown weary of her insistence on re-litigating the 2016 campaign at a time when the Democratic Party is looking to forge a new identity in the age of Trump.

     

    “The best thing she could do is disappear,” said one former Clinton fundraiser and surrogate who played an active role at the convention. “She’s doing harm to all of us because of her own selfishness. Honestly, I wish she’d just shut the f— up and go away.”

    Hillary

     

    Meanwhile, others sent the same basic messaging, if in a slightly more diplomatic tone…

    Clinton’s latest election musings have also reopened old wounds from the bitter primary fight with Sanders right as Democrats say their focus should be on finding an economic message that appeals to the Rust Belt voters who abandoned the party for Trump.

     

    There is an urgency to unite the progressive and mainstream wings of the party ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats will face a brutal slate of Senate reelection campaigns in states that Trump carried over Clinton.

     

    Those daunting challenges have some Democrats fuming at what they view as Clinton’s petty post-election score settling.

     

    “None of this is good for the party,” said one former Obama aide. “It’s the Hillary Show, 100 percent. A lot of us are scratching our heads and wondering what she’s trying to do. It’s certainly not helpful.”

    Of course, sfter days of book excerpts blaming everything and everyone including, but certainly not limited to, racists, misogynists, Russian hackers, Bernie Sanders, James Comey, “content farms in Macedonia” and, our personal favorite, a movie scene from “There’s Something About Mary”…it’s easy to see why former Hillary allies may be getting a little annoyed by her most recent self-enrichment scam.

  • "Greatest Evacuation In History" – 650,000 Ordered To Leave Florida

    In what spokesman Michael Hernandez describes as "the biggest evacuation in history," Miami-Dade has expanded its mandatory evacuations orders to Zone C, forcing over 650,000 to leave Florida in a "traffic nightmare" as Cat-5 Hurricane Irma bears down.

    An earlier order included just Miami Beach, other low-lying and barrier island areas and all mobile-home residents, but as the storm grew in intensity and the cone of uncertainty narrowed, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued the order this afternoon expanded to Zone C.

    The expansion now covers Zone B, which encompasses Brickell, Miami’s downtown area and South-Dade, including parts of Cutler Bay, Florida City and Homestead. Evacuation orders also touch Zone C, which includes parts of Coral Gables, South Miami, Miami Shores and North Miami Beach.

    More than 650,000 residents are reportedly subject to the mandatory evacuation order – that’s up from the 200,000 who were asked to leave to areas outside of evacuation Zones A and B, Wednesday.

    Downtown Miami is described as "a ghost town"...

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    As the mass exodus begins…

    Lines at gas stations were evident everywhere…

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    As AP reports on resident exclaiming:

    "There was no gas and it's gridlock. People are stranded on the sides of the highway," she said.

     

    "It's 92 degrees out and little kids are out on the grass on the side of the road. No one can help them."

    Irma's eventual path and Florida's fate depends on when and how sharp the powerful hurricane takes a right turn, National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said.

    "It has become more likely that Irma will make landfall in southern Florida as a dangerous major hurricane," the Hurricane Center said in a forecast discussion Thursday afternoon.

    The last Category 5 storm to hit Florida was Andrew in 1992. Its winds topped 165 mph (265 kph), killing 65 people and inflicting $26 billion in damage. It was at the time the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.

    U.S. Air Force Reserve weather officer Maj. Jeremy DeHart flew through the eye of Irma at 10,000 feet Wednesday and through Hurricane Harvey just before it hit Texas last month.

    He said Irma's intensity set it apart from other storms.

    "Spectacular is the word that keeps coming to mind. Pictures don't do it justice. Satellite images can't do it justice," DeHart said.

    Still unsure…Miami-Dade made it simple…

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