“The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is the modern face of terror. Unlike al-Qaeda, the Irish Republican Army, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Maoists in India, the Shining Path, and other traditional terrorist organizations, ISIS refuses to lurk in the shadows. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas, the Tamil Tigers, or the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, ISIS is not content with controlling a limited amount of territory confined to a single nation-state. Osama bin-Laden was willing to wait for a future day when al-Qaeda, having destabilized the Western world and defeated the dictatorships of the Middle East, would emerge to claim its rightful place as the governing body of the Islamic caliphate. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is unwilling to postpone that destiny. He and his followers are in a hurry—to establish an Islamic caliphate, to continue its spread across the Islamic world, to battle the Crusaders and Jews, and to bring their brand of justice and Shari’a law to the entire world. They have seized territory in Iraq and Syria larger than the size of Israel and Jordan combined, formed a government, fielded capable armed forces, and established branches in nine other countries, with sympathizers in dozens more. ISIS is a force with which to be reckoned.”
Category Archives: 030 Economics
In December, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter announced at a House hearing that an “expeditionary targeting force” will be sent to Iraq to conduct raids on top Islamic State targets. They’ll be joining the roughly 3,500 troops already there working as advisers and trainers. President Obama seems desperate to strike a balance between doing nothing in the region and not reneging on his “no boots on the ground” promises.
Clearly, commandos have boots, and those boots touch the ground. But White House officials have taken to what a report in this newspaper recently called “linguistic contortions” to obscure the forces’ combat roles.
As the military as a whole downsizes, Special Ops recruitment continues to rise. There are approximately 70,000 Special Ops personnel today, a number that includes soldiers, civilians, National Guard and Reservists, as well. This number is up from 45,600 in 2001 and 61,400 in 2011. Still, Adm. William H. McRaven — then the head of Socom — told Congress in 2014 that “the force has continued to fray” from the endless deployment cycles. In response, the Army alone last year put out a call for 5,000 new Special Ops candidates.
Tim Cook looks to be taking a stand against government overreach. In a statement on Apples website, he claims that, “Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.
The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by ‘brute force,’ trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.”
This is an obvious no-go for anyone who has even a elementary understanding of individual rights, the right to ones own private thoughts, communications with others, and let’s not forget the protections the Fourth Amendment is supposed to serve.
Cook continues, “The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.
Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.
We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.
While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”
“Last week, I received news from a contact who is friends with one of the biggest billionaire shipping families in the world. He told me they had no ships at sea right now, because operating them meant running at a loss.
This weekend, reports are circulating saying much the same thing: The North Atlantic has little or no cargo ships traveling in its waters. Instead, they are anchored. Unmoving. Empty.
You can see one such report here. According to it,
‘Commerce between Europe and North America has literally come to a halt. For the first time in known history, not one cargo ship is in-transit in the North Atlantic between Europe and North America. All of them (hundreds) are either anchored offshore or in-port. NOTHING is moving.
This has never happened before. It is a horrific economic sign; proof that commerce is literally stopped.‘”
“The increasingly controversial Federal Reserve offered a green light on Wednesday for banks controlled by the Communist Chinese dictatorship to gobble up American financial institutions and enter the U.S. banking market despite national security concerns, sparking warnings among critics about the rapid spread of the brutal regime’s influence within America. Analysts, meanwhile, called the unprecedented approval a ‘landmark step’ for regulators that could have global implications.
Under the U.S. central bank’s decision, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the largest bank in the Communist Party-run country with assets estimated at some $2.5 trillion, will be allowed to become a holding company and acquire the Bank of East Asia in New York. It marks the first time that a Communist Chinese bank — ICBC is more than 70 percent owned by the regime — has been permitted to take over an American bank. All 13 branches of the U.S. institution will be taken over.”
(Via.) The New American: <— Read more here
“I live in Texas, I pay taxes to the IRS, and I follow every law required of me. I am not looking for any trouble from the U.S. government. That said, my family and I have elected to sever ourselves from the cancerous monster that is Washington D.C. every chance we get.
We don’t vote or honor the state in anything we do. My money is completely outside of the U.S. banking system, via precious metals, digital currency, and whole life insurance contracts, which is nothing more than two private parties in a financial agreement. The stocks I own are in Canada or international businesses listed here in the U.S.
I wish the U.S. and its citizens the very best, but when it comes to the statists and banking elite — who ultimately form an oligarchy — I try to ignore and resist the beast in every way I can.”
(Via.) Liberty Blitzkrieg <—read more here
“With bank doors slammed shut, frantic Greeks are turning to online trading platforms to see if the digital money Bitcoin is a better bet than the euro.
The world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges tell CNNMoney they’ve seen a surge of business from Greece.
Ten times as many Greeks are registering to trade bitcoins on the German marketplace Bitcoin.de than usual, according to CEO Oliver Flaskaemper. Bitcoin trades from Greece have shot up 79% from their ten-week average on Bitstamp, the world’s third-largest exchange.
Even trading platforms in China are getting interest. LakeBTC, headquartered in Shanghai, is seeing a 40% increase in visitors using computers in Greece.
Over the weekend, the Polish exchange Bitcurex got flooded with emails from Greeks. Among their questions:”
(Via.) CNN Money <— Read more here
“It is not a gated community walled off from the public for only the elite. There is no charge to get in. Everything is public access, and subject to all the laws governing commercial property. The difference between the public and private city, however, is huge.
You can tell when you have entered the space. Whereas many areas of Atlanta struggle, this area in the heart of the city is clean, bright, ebullient, bustling with enterprise and life.
On an evening recently, on the way to the movies in the spectacular theater there, I sat outside on the patio of a Mexican food restaurant and watched adults and children playing games and having fun on the green space that serves as a mini-park in the middle of this urban experiment in capitalism. There were people from all races, classes, and ages. They listened to the live band and sang along.
As I sat there, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the sense of a mini-utopia. It’s like an idealized scene you see in a commercial for soda or some happy vacation getaway. It was one of the most blissful city scenes I’ve ever witnessed.”
Then it struck me: the police in the community are privately employed by main stakeholders in the community, which are the merchants, apartment owners, and other service providers. (The streets are also private but public access.) For this reason, the police themselves have a deep investment in the well-being of the community and the general happiness of the consumers who shop there. They are employees of the free enterprise system.
(Via.) Foundation for Economic Education <—Read more here
“I long ago lost the taste for Coke. Maybe it is the fizz — there’s just too much of it. Or maybe it is the sticky sweet of the corn syrup in the U.S. version (corn subsidies and sugar tariffs are behind this). Or maybe it is because after I drink one, I feel a crazy buzz followed by devastating crash. I’ve never understood how anyone even stays awake after a super-sized burger, fries, and massive coke.
Apparently I’m not alone here. Coca-Cola is reporting declining sales in North America and even globally. It’s stock price has been hit. Consumer tastes seem to be shifting from heavily carbonated and sugary drinks in general toward bottled water, sports drinks, and energy drinks. I noticed at my local fast-food drive through that they were pushing their own specialty ice drinks over any conventional sodas.
Why does this matter? Ringing in my ears right now are the many years of hysterical commentaries I’ve heard from intellectuals who have railed against the supposed power that coke has over the globe. They complain that coke signs festoon the world, that this drink has bamboozled the masses for more than a century, that this drink is the most visible sign of capitalism’s corruption…
Of all the beautiful things about the market economy, its most wonderful feature is its capacity to confound the intellectuals with unrelenting surprise and counterintuitive results. In its sheer unpredictability, the market serves as a humbling force in the universe and a reminder that in this world, the real and ultimate power will always reside with the decentralized organizing forces of society itself.”
(Via.) Beautiful Anarchy <—Read more here
European Crony Capitalism – Bearing ArmsArmatix ‘Smart Gun’ Developer Out: Is The Company Itself Doomed?
“Mauch’s Armatix iP1 (pistol/iW1 (watch) combination was apparently created more out of a need to assuage his personal desires than to meet market demands. Neither government agencies in law enforcement or the military had any interest in a product that added needless complexity to a handgun, and which quadrupled the price of proven conventional handgun systems in the same market space.
Quite literally, the only people who seemed excited about the iP1/iW1 combination were supporters of gun control, who were apparently thrilled that it might trigger a New Jersey law mandating the sale of only so-called ‘smart guns’ in the state. Others seemed thrilled by the rumor of a ‘back door’ in the technology that would allow the company (or government agencies) simply turn off the gun remotely, rendering the handguns inert and useless.”
(Via.) Bearing Arms <—Read more here
“We’re hearing rumblings about something we’ve discussed before: the parlous financial state of the privately held, and hedge-fund-looted, firearms manufacturer, Colt.
Colt’s hedgies (several generations of them, currently Sciens Capital) have taken it through multiple unnecessary reorganizations, each time stripping as much cash out of the company as possible, pocketing as much as they can get away with, and leaving it saddled with unsustainable debt. The company has hundreds of millions in debt that it has no reasonable chance of repaying. Now, faced with inability to pay a $10.9 million interest payment owed this month, the company’s managers seek to stave off default with hedge-fund chutzpah: offering investors the “opportunity” to take a 70% haircut on $250M of their bonds, or, alternatively, the company will bang out bankrupt — in a prepackaged bankruptcy modeled on that of the Government Motors rip-off and using the same obscure section of the bankruptcy code. Like the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies, this plan will preserve the equity of favored creditors — the hedge fund managers — while ruining, or at least haircutting, disfavored creditors — like the bond holders…”
(Via.) WeaponsMan <—Read more here
“Any movie about the corruption of the US government and the US financial system that is blacklisted in the US is bound to get our attention.
‘The Forecaster’ is exactly that. It’s a movie about Martin Armstrong’s amazingly accurate forecasting system called the Economic Confidence Model and how he was jailed for nearly a decade, in torture type conditions, for not turning over his model to the CIA and Wall Street.
I’ll let the trailer mostly speak for the movie itself here:”
(Via.) TDV <—Read more here and see the trailer
How To Reclaim Your Rights and Keep NSA Computers From Turning Your Phone Conversations Into Searchable Text
“As soon as my article about how NSA computers can now turn phone conversations into searchable text came out on Tuesday, people started asking me: What should I do if I don’t want them doing that to mine?
The solution, as it is to so many other outrageously invasive U.S. government tactics exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is, of course, Congressional legislation.
I kid, I kid.
No, the real solution is end-to-end encryption, preferably of the unbreakable kind.
And as luck would have it, you can have exactly that on your mobile phone, for the price of zero dollars and zero cents.
The Intercept’s Micah Lee wrote about this in March, in an article titled: ‘You Should Really Consider Installing Signal, an Encrypted Messaging App for iPhone.’
(Signal is for iPhone and iPads, and encrypts both voice and texts; RedPhone is the Android version of the voice product; TextSecure is the Android version of the text product.)
As Lee explains, the open source software group known as Open Whisper Systems, which makes all three, is gaining a reputation for combining trustworthy encryption with ease of use and mobile convenience.”
(Via.) The Intercept <—Read more here
“On Tuesday, an armed man approached a patron in a Taco Bell parking lot, demanded he drop his pants, and was subsequently shot and killed.
The attempted armed robbery took place in Pompano Beach, Florida.
According to CBS 4, it was approximately 6 pm when ‘21-year-old Rontavis Holton confronted [37-year-old] Ronald Farmer’ in a Taco Bell parking lot. Holton — who was ‘wearing a ski mask and sunglasses’ — allegedly pulled a gun on Farmer and ‘told [him] to pull down his pants.’
Farmer pulled his own gun and shot Holton in self-defense.”
(Via.) Breitbart <—Read more here
“This underscores a point I’ve been trying to make for years. The time to smoke is when you are a teen. It’s when your lungs are strong, and you body is prepared to fight back the ill effects. It’s also when you can gain the maximum advantage of the fact that smoking is very cool and enjoyable. I see no reason why parents shouldn’t encourage it, while warning that they will probably have to stop after graduating college.
And of course this is opposite of what the government says!
The anti-smoking campaigns for young people are based on its supposed addictive quality. The fear is that once you start as a teen, you will never stop. But I’ve never understood what is meant by addictive. It’s not like cigarettes take away your free will. Every day, people stop. It’s obviously possible.
If by addictive, we mean that it is something that once you do, you want to keep doing, there are many things that fall into that category. In fact, it would be completely normal to seek out such things, not avoid them. For example, I’m completely addicted to taking a shower every morning. It’s not really a problem.
Maybe by addictive, it is meant that it is very hard to stop once you start. Sure. I get that. But many things are hard to do that we do anyway. I don’t like the bracing cold of a swimming pool but I jump in anyway. No one wants to get up to go to work after a night of hard drinking but we do it anyway. No one wants to pay taxes but we do it anyway. Just because something is difficult doesn’t meant that it can’t be done…”
(Via.) Beautiful Anarchy <—Read more here
“In a little-noticed brief filed last summer, lawyers for the House of Representatives claimed that an SEC investigation of congressional insider trading should be blocked on principle, because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries given the nature of their work.
The legal team led by Kerry W. Kircher, who was appointed House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner in 2011, claimed that the insider trading probe violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch.
In 2012, members of Congress patted themselves on the back for passing the STOCK Act, a bill meant to curb insider trading for lawmakers and their staff. ‘We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,’ said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, upon passage of the law.”
(Via.) The Intercept <—Read more here
“Question: How long has police brutality been around?
Answer: Ever since there was police.
Sure, some places its better and some places it is worse.
But, have you ever noticed when you have a problem and you keep trying to fix it and it never works… then, what you realize, was that you had the wrong concept? As a simple example, when you try to remove the lid off a jar of pickels and you try and try but just can’t? Then, finally, you realize you were trying to turn it the wrong way! Once you understood how it worked, the solution was easy.
It’s the same with the police brutality question. You keep trying to fix it and fix it but never can. Why? Because you’ve got the wrong concept.”
(Via.) TDVA <—Read more here
“Bitcoin is supposed to be the latest disruptive technology. But whenever you hear someone use the buzzword ‘disruptive,’ turn on your B.S. detector. Sure, technologies can be vaguely transformative, and that’s fine as far as it goes.
But the original concept of disruptive innovation is narrower. This term of art came from Harvard Business School guru Clayton Christensen, who meant something very specific.
‘Disruptive innovation,’ according to Christensen, ‘describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up-market, eventually displacing established competitors.’
Remember, that’s the ‘bottom’ of a market, and by that, Christensen means not wealthy. (This distinguishes a disruptive tech from other transformative innovations, like computers and cell phones, which started at the top.) And the not-wealthy can sometimes be desperate to escape to a better system.
When it comes to Bitcoin, even the New York Times Magazine has figured this out:
Bitcoin proponents like to say that the currency first became popular in the places that needed it least, like Europe and the United States, given how smoothly the currencies and financial services work there.
It makes sense that a place like Argentina would be fertile ground for a virtual currency. Inflation is constant: At the end of 2014, for example, the peso was worth 25 percent less than it was at the beginning of the year. And that adversity pales in comparison with past bouts of hyperinflation, defaults on national debts and currency revaluations.
Less than half of the population use Argentine banks and credit cards. Even wealthy Argentines fear keeping their money in the country’s banks.
And the disruption is already happening: ‘Argentina has been quietly gaining renown in technology circles as the first, and almost only, place where Bitcoins are being regularly used by ordinary people for real commercial transactions.’
That satisfies the bottom of the market criterion. Whether it’s Argentines struggling with hyperinflation, or sub-Saharan Africans living under dictators and warlords, the developing world is likely to embrace bitcoin simply because it’s so much better than the failed banking and currency systems they’ve been locked in for so long.”
The Bombshell – Harold Lewis (Emeritus Professor of Physics ad UCSB) Resigns APS: ‘Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life’
“It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:”
(Via.) Telegraph Blogs <—Read more here
“It’s about 1a.m. as I write this to you from my apartment in the heart of Mt. Vernon. Helicopters are swarming overhead. There is a building on fire to my right and and another to my left — each roughly seven to ten blocks away. The sirens are incessant. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
What you’re seeing on the news isn’t the work of a bunch of ‘animals.’ What you’re seeing happening in Baltimore… what’s happening right outside my doorstep… is blowback. To be clear, I’m not condoning the riots in any way, and I think what they are doing is despicable and foolish. But it’s a reality. And there’s a root cause. Several of them, in fact.”
(Via.) Investing with Rick Rule <—Read more here