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27 Aug 17:11

Britain Would Be Second Poorest U.S. State - Below Alabama: Euro Zone GDP Per Capita Ranks Below West Virginia

by Ronald Bailey

USUK FlagFraser Nelson over at The Spectator has crunched the numbers and finds that if Britain were somehow to become the 51st state (OK by me) it would the second poorest state in terms of GDP per capita, ranking below Alabama and just above Mississippi.

Would-be Europhiles might also want to consider that the oil state of Norway would rank 8th, Switzerland 21st, Germany and Sweden would vie for 40th place (below Michigan), and the entire Euro area would rank 45th just below West Virginia's per capita GDP. Ah, such are the glories of welfare statism.

Nelson was apparently prompted to make these calculations in response to the smug condescenion of anti-American commentators about U.S. economic inequality in the wake of the events in Ferguson, MO. As Nelson notes:

No one beats up America better than Americans. They openly debate their inequality, conduct rigorous studies about it, argue about economics vs culture as causes. Their universities study it, with a calibre of analysis not found in Britain. Americans get so angry about educational inequality that they make films like Waiting for Superman. And the debate is so fierce that the rest of the world looks on, and joins in lamenting America’s problems. A shame: we’d do better to get a little angrier at our own.

Speaking of smug condescension, it is well worth your time to click over The Spectator and scroll down Nelson's rankings.

Addendum: Tim Worstall points out over at Forbes, if you apply purchasing power parity adjustments on a state-by-state basis, Britain would actually be the poorest state in the U.S., ranking even below Mississippi.

29 Aug 00:10

Federal Appeals Court Endorses a Heckler's Veto of Provocative Preaching

by Jacob Sullum

Two years ago, Ruben Chavez, Arthur Fisher, and Joshua DeLosSantos, members of a Christian evangelical group known as Bible Believers, attracted a hostile crowd while preaching hellfire and damnation at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. The crowd, which consisted mostly of children, pelted the three evangelists with water bottles and other trash. Police responded by threatening to arrest Chavez and his friends for disorderly conduct unless they left the festival. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, banishing the provocative preachers from the public festival was perfectly appropriate and did not violate their First Amendment rights.

In a ruling issued yesterday, the appeals court says video of the incident "demonstrates that [the Bible Believers'] speech and conduct intended to incite the crowd to turn violent." How so? "Within minutes after their arrival," Judge Bernice Donald writes in an opinion joined by Judge Samuel Mays, Chavez and his associates "began espousing extremely aggressive and offensive messages—e.g., that the bystanders would 'burn in hell' or 'in a lake of fire' because they were 'wicked, filthy, and sick'—and accused the crowd of fixating on 'murder, violence, and hate' because that was 'all [they] ha[d] in [their] hearts.' These words induced a violent reaction in short order; the crowd soon began to throw bottles, garbage, and eventually rocks and chunks of concrete. Moreover, members of the crowd can be heard to shout 'get them' and 'beat the s*** out of them'; one Bible Believer was pushed to the ground. Chavez's face was cut open and bleeding from where he had been struck by debris."

Because bystanders reacted violently, in other words, that must have been the reaction Chavez and his friends aimed to elicit. The implication is that they were deliberately inciting a riot, meaning their speech was not protected by the First Amendment. But the majority opinion is ambiguous on this point. It also suggests that the the Bible Believers' preaching was constitutionally protected but that making them do it elsewhere amounted to a reasonable "time, place, and manner" restriction in light of the crowd's hostility. "The threat of violence had grown too great to permit them to continue proselytizing," Donald writes. She explains that Dennis Richardson, deputy chief of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, "had a reasonable good faith belief that the threat of violence was too high because the Bible Believers had already been subjected to actual violence." 

In a powerful dissent, Judge Eric Clay rebukes his colleagues for endorsing a "heckler's veto," as reflected in Richardson's words to Chavez: "What you are saying to them and they are saying back to you is creating danger." Richardson and the other defendants conceded that the Bible Believers' speech was constitutionally protected, Clay notes, and for good reason: It did not qualify as incitement, which requires an intent to provoke "imminent lawless action," or as "fighting words," i.e., "those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction." Clay observes that "fighting words are defined solely by their impact on the 'average person,'" not the "average Muslim child." The fact that the vast majority of people at the festival did not respond violently to the evangelists shows that their preaching, however obnoxious, did not qualify for this (dubious) exception to the First Amendment.

Confronted by citizens lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights and bystanders lawlessly punishing them for it, the police sided with the violent hecklers. Clay argues that they should instead have tried a little harder to calm the crowd (which, again, consisted mostly of rowdy children), because their first duty in this situation was to protect the peaceful party:

In my view, the video tape shows that Defendants did just about nothing to control the crowd as it grew and became agitated. Defendants only stepped in to inform Plaintiffs that the police were powerless and that Plaintiffs needed to leave under threat of arrest. This is not good faith—it is manufacturing a crisis as an excuse to crack down on those exercising their First Amendment rights.

By validating such police work, Clay warns, the court is inviting more violence and more censorship: 

Law enforcement is principally required to protect lawful speakers over and above law-breakers. If a different rule prevailed, this would simply allow for a heckler's veto under more extreme conditions. Indeed, hecklers would be incentivized to get really rowdy, because at that point the target of their ire could be silenced. More perniciously, a contrary rule would allow police to manufacture a situation to chill speech. Police officers could simply sit by as a crowd formed and became agitated. Once the crowd's agitation became extreme, the police could swoop in and silence the speaker. The First Amendment does not contain this large a loophole.

Cathy Young discussed an earlier case involving evangelists at the Arab International Festival in her 2011 essay "Fear of a Muslim America."

29 Aug 02:24

So In The End, The VA Was Rewarded, Not Punished

by admin
Jts5665

Once again the need for a "that's depressing" button arises...

Remember the whole VA thing?  It has mostly been forgotten, though we will all remember it again, or more accurately get to experience it ourselves, once the Democrats manage to get single payer passed.

People talk about government employees being motivated by "public service" but in fact very few government agencies have any tangible performance metrics linked to public service, and when they do (as in the case of the VA wait times) they just game them.   At the end of the day, nothing enforces fidelity to the public good like competition and consumer choice, two things no government agency allows.

I will admit that government employees in agencies may have some interest in public welfare, but in the hierarchy of needs, the following three things dominate above any concerns for the public:

  • Keeping the agency in existence
  • Maintaining employment levels, and if that is achieved, increasing employment levels
  • Getting more budget

But look at the VA response in this context:

  • The agency remains in existence and most proposals to privatize certain parts were beaten back
  • No one was fired and employment levels remain the same
  • The agency was rewarded with a big bump in its budget

The VA won!  Whereas a private company with that kind of negative publicity about how customers were treated would have as a minimum seen a huge revenue and market share loss, and might have faced bankruptcy, the VA was given more money.

Murry Rothbard via Bryan Caplan:

On the free market, in short, the consumer is king, and any business firm that wants to make profits and avoid losses tries its best to serve the consumer as efficiently and at as low a cost as possible. In a government operation, in contrast, everything changes. Inherent in all government operation is a grave and fatal split between service and payment, between the providing of a service and the payment for receiving it. The government bureau does not get its income as does the private firm, from serving the consumer well or from consumer purchases of its products exceeding its costs of operation. No, the government bureau acquires its income from mulcting the long-suffering taxpayer. Its operations therefore become inefficient, and costs zoom, since government bureaus need not worry about losses or bankruptcy; they can make up their losses by additional extractions from the public till. Furthermore, the consumer, instead of being courted and wooed for his favor, becomes a mere annoyance to the government someone who is "wasting" the government's scarce resources. In government operations, the consumer is treated like an unwelcome intruder, an interference in the quiet enjoyment by the bureaucrat of his steady income.

28 Aug 18:45

Apparently, Corporations Are Not Investing Because They Are Not "Socially Engaged"

by admin

Paul Roberts has an editorial in the LA Times that sortof, kindof mirrors my post the other day that observed that corporate stock buybacks (and investments to reduce tax rates) were likely signs of a bad investment climate.  Until he starts talking about solutions

Roberts begins in a similar manner

Here's a depressing statistic: Last year, U.S. companies spent a whopping $598 billion — not to develop new technologies, open new markets or to hire new workers but to buy up their own shares. By removing shares from circulation, companies made remaining shares pricier, thus creating the impression of a healthier business without the risks of actual business activity.

Share buybacks aren't illegal, and, to be fair, they make sense when companies truly don't have something better to reinvest their profits in. But U.S. companies do have something better: They could be reinvesting in the U.S. economy in ways that spur growth and generate jobs. The fact that they're not explains a lot about the weakness of the job market and the sliding prospects of the American middle class.

I suppose I would dispute him in his implication that there is something unseemly about buybacks.  They are actually a great mechanism for economic efficiency.  If companies do not have good investment prospects, we WANT them returning the cash to their shareholders, rather than doing things like the boneheaded diversification of the 1960's and 1970's (that made investment bankers so rich unwinding in the 1980's).  That way, individuals can redeploy capital in more promising places.  The lack of investment opportunities and return of capital to shareholders is a bad sign for investment prospects of large companies, but it is not at all a bad sign for the ethics of corporate management.   I would argue this is the most ethical possible thing for corporations to do if they honestly do not feel they have a productive use for their cash.

The bigger story here is what might be called the Great Narrowing of the Corporate Mind: the growing willingness by business to pursue an agenda separate from, and even entirely at odds with, the broader goals of society. We saw this before the 2008 crash, when top U.S. banks used dodgy financial tools to score quick profits while shoving the risk onto taxpayers. We're seeing it again as U.S. companies reincorporate overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. This narrow mind-set is also evident in the way companies slash spending, not just on staffing but also on socially essential activities, such as long-term research or maintenance, to hit earnings targets and to keep share prices up....

It wasn't always like this. From the 1920s to the early 1970s, American business was far more in step with the larger social enterprise. Corporations were just as hungry for profits, but more of those profits were reinvested in new plants, new technologies and new, better-trained workers — "assets" whose returns benefited not only corporations but the broader society.

Yes, much of that corporate oblige was coerced: After the excesses of the Roaring '20s, regulators kept a rein on business, even as powerful unions exploited tight labor markets to win concessions. But companies also saw that investing in workers, communities and other stakeholders was key to sustainable profits. That such enlightened corporate self-interest corresponds with the long postwar period of broadly based prosperity is hardly a coincidence....

Without a more socially engaged corporate culture, the U.S. economy will continue to lose the capacity to generate long-term prosperity, compete globally or solve complicated economic challenges, such as climate change. We need to restore a broader sense of the corporation as a social citizen — no less focused on profit but far more cognizant of the fact that, in an interconnected economic world, there is no such thing as narrow self-interest.

There is so much crap here it is hard to know where to start.  Since I work for a living rather than write editorials, I will just pound out some quick thoughts

  • As is so typical with Leftist nostalgia for the 1950's, his view is entirely focused on large corporations.  But the innovation model has changed in a lot of industries.  Small companies and entrepreneurs are doing innovation, then get bought by large corporations with access to markets and capital needed to expanded (the drug industry increasingly works this way).  Corporate buybacks return capital to the hands of individuals and potential entrepreneurs and funding angels.
  • But the Left is working hard to kill innovation and entrepreneurship and solidify the position of large corporations.  Large corporations increasingly have the scale to manage regulatory compliance that chokes smaller companies.  And for areas that Mr. Roberts mentions, like climate and green energy, the government manages that whole sector as a crony enterprise, giving capital to political donors and people who can afford lobbyists and ignoring everyone else.  "Socially engaged" investing is nearly always managed like this, as cronyism where the politician you held a fundraiser for is more important than your technology or business plan.  *cough* Solyndra *cough*
  • One enormous reason that companies are buying back their own stock is the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program, which I would bet anything Mr. Roberts fully supports.  This program concentrates capital in the hands of a few large banks and corporations, and encourages low-risk financial investments of capital over operational investments
  • All those "Social engagement" folks on the Left seem to spend more time stopping investment rather than encouraging it.  They fight tooth and nail the single most productive investment area in the US right now (fracking), they fight new construction in many places (e.g. most all places in California), they fight for workers in entrenched competitors against new business models like Lyft and Uber, they fight every urban Wal-Mart that attempts to get built.  I would argue one large reason for the lack of operational investment is that the Left blocks and/or makes more expensive the investments corporations want to make, offering for alternatives only crap like green energy which doesn't work as an investment unless it is subsidized and you can't count on the subsidies unless you held an Obama fundraiser lately.
  • If corporations make bad investments and tick off their workers and do all the things he suggests, they get run out of business.  And incredibly, he even acknowledges this:  "And here is the paradox. Companies are so obsessed with short-term performance that they are undermining their long-term self-interest. Employees have been demoralized by constant cutbacks. Investment in equipment upgrades, worker training and research — all essential to long-term profitability and competitiveness — is falling."  So fine, the problem corrects itself over time.  
  • He even acknowledges that corporations that are following his preferred investment strategy exist and are prospering -- he points to Google.   Google is a great example of exactly what he is missing. Search engines and Internet functionality that Google thrives on were not developed in corporate R&D departments.  I don't get how he can write so fondly about Google and simultaneously write that he wishes, say, US Steel, were investing more in R&D.  I would think having dinosaur corporations eschew trying to invest in these new areas, and having them return the money to their shareholders, and then having those individuals invest the money in startups like Google would be a good thing.  But like many Leftists he just can't get around the 1950's model.  At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is too chaotic -- the Left wants large corporations that it can easily see and control.
28 Aug 16:39

New Technology Could End The Debate Over Pipeline Safety

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by James Stafford via OilPrice.com,

Who could have ever imagined that North America would surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas liquids? A decade ago, that would have seemed laughable.

Yet that’s exactly what has happened; and it’s not just Saudi Arabia that has been left in North America’s dust -- Russia has, too.

The surge in North American oil and gas production is arguably the most important development in energy over the last decade. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that North America doesn’t have nearly enough oil and gas pipelines to accommodate its 11-million-barrel-a-day output level.

The famously unresolved proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, but its future is in legal and political limbo. The controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, proposed as an alternative to Keystone XL, would connect Canada’s oil sands to the Pacific Coast, allowing greater volumes of oil to be shipped to Asia, but it, too, is still on the drawing board.

Both are good examples of how pipelines – considered the safest way to move oil and gas – have become politicized and scrutinized, and not without reason. Despite their reliability, pipelines still lead to an unacceptable rate of safety mishaps. They corrode and rupture, which threatens workers and nearby communities. In 2013 alone, over 119,000 barrels of oil were spilled in 623 incidents.

America’s existing pipelines are getting older and more prone to corrosion, and over the next five to 10 years, there will be a significant increase in the number of new pipelines.

And that is creating a huge opportunity for better pipeline safety technology.

Monitoring and detecting corrosion in pipelines is still a crude affair (no pun intended). Pipeline companies tend to underspend on safety, concerned only with meeting the minimum regulatory requirements.

One of the major ways pipeline operators detect corrosion is with a “pig,” a machine that travels down the inside of a pipeline looking for problems.

Pigs are not new -- the industry has long relied heavily on them—and the newest generation of pigs, known as “smart pigs,” is considered an improvement over the pigs of yesterday. Smart pigs give a read on the state of the pipeline, such as cracks, corrosion, and metal loss. Operators receive this information in a control room and can then dispatch crews to fix the problem. As of 2012, 93 percent of pipeline inspections were conducted using smart pigs.

But smart pigs might not be enough. Enbridge (NYSE: ENB), a major Canadian pipeline company, has spent over $4.4 billion to upgrade pipeline safety. It is spending big bucks after one of its pipelines spilled oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 – a corrosion breach that Enbridge’s smart pigs failed to detect ahead of time.

And that’s the problem: despite recent advances, smart pigs aren’t terribly accurate. They also require pipeline operations to shut down (you can’t pump oil through a pipeline if there is a machine in the way), and analyzing the data smart pigs gather can take some time. The Wall Street Journal ran an article last year that talked about the pitfalls of smart pigs, even as pipeline companies continue to depend heavily on them.

So alternative methods to detect trouble spots are needed. One method for detecting corrosion uses a device from outside the pipeline. A series of sensors placed on the outside of the pipeline can search for corrosion without interfering in operations.

Pipeline safety company Fox-Tek, a subsidiary of Augusta Industries (CVE: AAO), uses such a system to detect corrosion, as well as a fiber optic system to detect bends, strains and stress in pipelines.

But the real innovation in Fox-Tek’s system is its data analytics package. Companies that use smart pigs usually need to spend months doing post-inspection analysis, but Fox-Tek has developed proprietary software that does continuous and automatic analysis.

Fox-Tek’s sensors gather information and automatically send back confidential reports on everything the company needs to know – temperature, pressure, strain, rates of corrosion, etc. in the form of handy graphs, charts and diagrams. It eliminates the need for an army of people to go out and inspect pipelines and then come back to do the analysis.

The pipeline safety market is massive and growing, but one of the major hurdles for new technologies like advanced sensors and software will be reluctance by pipeline companies to proactively invest in corrosion management and maintenance. In the past, they have largely focused on the bare minimum and viewed safety as a regulatory requirement.

However, there seems to be a sea change in the pipeline industry, particularly since operators are running into an environmental backlash. The blocking of several high-profile pipelines may have finally gotten the attention of the industry. Bringing local communities onboard and acquiring permits from regulators will require pipeline operators to demonstrate improved safety throughout their networks.

But above all, pipeline companies will see dollars saved by using cost-effective monitoring systems to reduce pipeline leaks. Enbridge has been forced to spend around $1 billion to clean up its mess in the Kalamazoo River, which was the result of a corrosion breach. It could spend a fraction of that to have better information on pipeline corrosion to prevent a growing problem from getting worse. That could reduce the frequency of future pipeline spills.

This could be a game changer in terms of how oil and gas pipelines are viewed in North America. If operators use smart software to catch small problems before they can turn into big ones, the common view of pipelines as accidents waiting to happen could be erased. Instead of seeing them as an environmental risk, the public may grow to see them as just another piece of modern infrastructure that facilitates commerce.

28 Aug 17:11

Death Valley's sailing stones mystery solved

A team of researchers has finally managed to explain how such large boulders can move all by themselves. The phenomenon, which was discovered in the 1...
28 Aug 11:26

Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

is from Roger Meiners’s October 2012 review of Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu’s 2012 book, The Locovore’s Dilemma:

Locavore restaurants are sprinkled around the country.  Adherents worry about how far it is to go to get acceptable food; is 100 miles fair?  This hobby may voluntarily generate a bit of income for high-cost banana growers in Montana rather than greedy low-cost Guatemalan banana farmers, but what does it do for food efficiency and the environment as a whole?

The agricultural market is already shot through with subsidies, such as the one for uncompetitive American sugar growers in a few states who make campaign contributions in each and every election.  Don’t be surprised if locavores manage to get in on the act, tying together misguided economic and environmental beliefs that Desrochers and Shimizu dissect in scholarly, but readable fashion.

27 Aug 15:24

CBO "Revises" Its 2014 GDP Forecast, Hilarity Ensues (As Always)

by Tyler Durden

The gross, in fact epic, incompetence of the Congressional Budget Office when it comes to doing its only job, forecasting the future state of the US economy, has previously been extensively documented here (and here and here and here). This incompetence is in the spotlight once again this morning with the CBO's release of its latest forecast revision of its original February 2014 projection.

And while every aspect of the revised projection has changed, in an adverse direction of course, the punchline is the chart below: the CBO's revised projection for 2014 GDP. It's one of those "no comment necessary" visuals.

Surprising? Hardly. After all the CBO is swarming with indoctrinated Keynesian cultists whose only achievement in life is to be wrong about everything (and then to blame the Fed for not "easing enough"). Here is how the CBO "explains" this 50%+ cut in its forecast in just 6 months:

CBO has lowered its projection of real growth of GDP in  2014 from 3.1 percent to 1.5 percent, reflecting the surprising economic weakness in the first half of the year.

Which as other Keynesian talking heads have already made quite clear was due to snow. That's right: over $100 billion in forecast economic growth "evaporated" from the US economy because it... snowed.

The good news? The CBO refuses to forecast the "harsh weather" for the foreseeable future, and has kept all of its 2015 and onward GDP estimates as is. So when things go horribly wrong to the CBO's forecast, which is 100% guaranteed to happen, the CBO can again blame "surprising economic weakness" because, well, everyone else is doing it.

Those who wish to waste their time can find the source here.

27 Aug 15:12

Why Legal Pot is Better Than the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

by Nick Gillespie

The ice bucket challenge has raised a huge amount of awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or "Lou Gehrig's Disease," which affects about 30,000 Americans.

Writing in The Hill, Andrew Gargano talks about an existing, effective way to ameliorate the disease's devastating symptoms: Medical marijuana.

A number of studies have shown that cannabis functions in many ways that are beneficial to those with ALS, from serving as an analgesic to acting as a soothing muscle relaxant. Cannabis also functions as a saliva reducer, and so it has the ability to reduce symptoms of uncontrollable drooling that is common among those with ALS. Additionally, cannabis has been found successful in use as an antidepressant, results which have also been confirmed by an anonymous, self-reported survey of ALS patients conducted by the the MDA/ALS Center at the University of Washington.

Most importantly, however, is that a 2010 study found that cannabis offered anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects when tested on laboratory mice. The researchers found that cannabis slowed the progression of the disease and prolonged cell survival, ultimately concluding that “it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.”

While this information may seem incredibly relieving to anyone who suffers from ALS, only 34 percent of Americans live in the 23 states, and the District of Columbia, that currently recognize the important medical uses of cannabis.

Read the whole thing.

Hat Tip: Students for Liberty Twitter feed.

27 Aug 14:28

The Five Cities Most At Risk For The Next Big Earthquake

by Tyler Durden

Damages from the earthquake that hit the San Francisco area this weekend are estimated to be as high as $4 billion. For many cities around the world, particularly coastal cities situated on the geologically active Ring of Fire, an earthquake could be catastrophically destructive. Bloomberg looks at the five cities that are most vulnerable to earthquakes.

 

 

As Michael Snyder rather ominously warns, the quake last weekend is just the start of the shaking in California...

 

Don't get too excited about what happened on Sunday.  Scientists assure us that it is only a matter of time before "the Big One" hits California.

In fact, the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit northern California on Sunday was not even the largest earthquake along the Ring of Fire this weekend.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the area around Valparaiso, Chile on Saturday and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Peru on Sunday.

As I mentioned above, we have moved into a time when seismic activity is steadily rising.  It has gotten to the point where even the mainstream media cannot ignore it anymore.  For example, just check out the following excerpt from a recent CBS News report…

The average rate of big earthquakes — those larger than magnitude 7 — has been 10 per year since 1979, the study reports. That rate rose to 12.5 per year starting in 1992, and then jumped to 16.7 per year starting in 2010 — a 65 percent increase compared to the rate since 1979. This increase accelerated in the first three months of 2014 to more than double the average since 1979, the researchers report.

Something is happening that scientists don't understand, and that is a little scary.

As I wrote about the other day, earthquake activity seems to particularly be increasing in the United States.  While the west has been relatively quiet, the number of earthquakes in the central and eastern portions of the nation has quintupled over the past 30 years…

According to the USGS, the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. has quintupled, to an average of 100 a year during the 2011-2013 period, up from only 20 per year during the 30-year period to 2000.

 

Most of these quakes were minor, but research published by the USGS earlier this year demonstrated that a relatively minor magnitude 5.0 quake caused by wastewater injection after conventional oil drilling triggered a much bigger, 5.7 magnitude quake in Prague, Okla.

 

“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes. We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this,” said William Ellsworth, a scientist with the USGS.

What in the world could be causing this to happen?

Oklahoma, which used to rarely ever have significant earthquakes, has experienced over 2,300 earthquakes so far in 2014.

That is absolutely staggering.

And of course volcanic activity has been rising all over the planet as well.  In 2013, the number of eruptions around the globe set a new all-time high, and right now persistent rumbling under Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano has much of Europe on alert...

For more than a week the earth has been rumbling beneath Iceland’s looming Bardarbunga volcano. The almost continuous small earthquakes led the government to activate its National Crisis Coordination Centre this week and block off access to the largely uninhabited region around the Bardarbunga caldera.

 

Major airlines are making contingency plans for a potential eruption that could throw dust into the atmosphere and disrupt flight paths between North America and Europe.

Some scientists are saying that if that volcano erupts, it "could trigger Britain’s coldest winter ever".

Clearly something is happening.

All over the world seismic activity is on the rise.

That means that the shaking in California (and in much of the rest of the world) may soon get a whole lot worse.

So what do you think is causing all of this?

27 Aug 13:19

Dozens of Businesses Move HQs Outside America Under Obama

On Tuesday, Burger King announced that it would spend some $11 billion to buy Tim Hortons Inc., a Canadian breakfast food chain, then merge Burger King into it, thereby turning what was once a major American company into a major Canadian one. As the Washington Post reports, Burger King would “move the company’s headquarters to Canada, where corporate taxes are significantly lower.”

This process, called inversion, has been occurring more and more often, despite the fascistic suggestion by President Obama that headquartering outside the United States represents a betrayal of God and country. Members of the Obama administration have taken to labeling business inversions a lack of “economic patriotism” – presumably under the assumption that to stay in America, cut jobs, and lose all profits in order to pay higher taxes represents a sort of higher moral value than moving one’s headquarters and continuing to pay millions of workers and reward consumers with better and cheaper products.

The Obama administration ought to note that the Soviets built a wall in the center of Berlin to keep their people and industries “economically patriotic.” Suggested measures to chain companies to the United States represent the same sort of government compulsion. And that sort of compulsion is a heavy club for a very slight increase in government revenue: an estimated $19 billion over 10 years.

Sadly, the Obama administration’s policies have driven more and more industries out of the country. Since 2008, more than two dozen companies have taken advantage of inversion. Here are seven other companies that have shifted production out of America in order to avoid our ridiculous regulatory schemes, or are considering the possibility of doing so:

Walgreens. Walgreens seriously considered inversion this month, but walked away from moving its headquarters to Europe after purchasing Alliance Boots GmbH. That decision drove Walgreens stock down. Walgreens’ board only decided against inversion, according to the Wall Street Journal, because “the board felt that the arrangement might not easily pass muster with the Internal Revenue Service and created the potential to be hung up in litigation for a decade.”

Pfizer. The pharmaceutical giant has been in on-again, off-again talks to buy Britain’s AstraZeneca in order to take part in a tax inversion. In May, Pfizer walked away from a deal to buy AstraZeneca for some $118 billion – but now, the deal is reportedly back on the table. According to Reuters five days ago: 

Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read has made clear he is still considering big deals to revive his firm's pipeline and cut its tax bill - something buying AstraZeneca would allow it to do via a so-called inversion that would shift its tax base to Britain.

Should AstraZeneca not become part of the deal, other companies, like GlaxoSmithKline, could.

Medtronic. Medtronic, a huge medical technology firm, has acquired Covidien, and will adopt Ireland as its legal headquarters. As the Wall Street Journal reports, here is the deal: “Medtronic agrees to call Ireland its legal home, and in return it gets to bring $1 billion or more into the U.S. without penalty.” The deal was for some $43 billion.

Tim Hortons. The company Burger King now seeks to buy participated in what is called a “naked inversion” itself in 2009. It started off as a Canadian company, according to the Congressional Research Service, but was bought by Wendy’s in 1995, then went independent in 2006.

Liberty Global. In 2013, Liberty Global bought Virgin Media for $23.3 billion. The merger, according to BBC, created “the second biggest pay-TV business after BSkyB” as well as “the world’s largest broadband company, with 25 million customers in 14 countries.” Most of the company’s revenue was earned in Europe. Richard Branson, previous owner of Virgin Media, became a 2 percent stakeholder in the new entity. Upon inverting, the tax rate for Liberty Global dropped to 21 percent, and the company was exempted from taxes for several years, according to the American Bar Association.

Chiquita Brands. Just this month, Chiquita participated in an inversion deal, buying Fyffes of Ireland and relocating its headquarters there. The company stated, “Chiquita remains committed to completing its transaction with Fyffes, which it believes will create a combined company that is better positioned to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace while driving strong performance and value for shareholders.”

Eaton. When Eaton bought Cooper Industries and headquartered in Ireland, Eaton saved approximately $160 million on taxes. The companies explained, “Incorporating as an Irish company provides significant global cash management flexibility and associated financial benefits.” As Bloomberg News noted:

Eaton’s effective tax rate for 2011 was 12.9 percent and its rate for 2010 was 9.5 percent, according to company filings. In 2011, lower taxes on its non-U.S. operations made up more than half of the difference between the company’s effective tax rate and the 35 percent top U.S. rate.

Overall, some 25 major companies have participated in tax inversions since President Obama took office. That trend will continue to accelerate as President Obama ratchets up the rhetoric and threatens harsher action against companies that dare to buck his high-tax priorities.

Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.









27 Aug 13:09

Feeling Worthless? The 10 Majors Most Likely To Lead To Underemployment

by Tyler Durden

When it comes to worthless majors, it is no secret that "liberal arts" are at the top of the heap. This is the conclusion of not just the real world: a recent survey of 68,000 workers by salary information firm PayScale confirmed as much when asking the humanities majors themselves, and where employees with degrees in fields like English, general studies, and graphic design were among the most likely to report feeling "underemployed" at their current jobs.

Also, that the list was topped of by Criminal Justice majors probably speaks more about the current captured state of US crony capitalism than anything else.  But what is surprising is that graduates with more "practical" degrees in fields like business administration, ranking second in terms of pay dissatisfaction, also said their jobs didn't put their education, training or experience to work as much as they should. In other words, Wall Streeters thought they were underpaid. Actually did we say "surprising"... scratch that.

Some more from the WaPo:

Why the poor showing for business majors? PayScale notes that in many cases, a simple bachelor's degree in business might not get you very far - a more advanced degree like an MBA might be necessary "in order to set up recipients for jobs in their fields."

 

At the other end of the spectrum, STEM fields produced graduates with the least likelihood of underemployment. Engineering degrees accounted for six of the ten least underemployed majors. Law, physics, geology and mathematics made up the remaining four.

 

What causes workers to feel underemployed? Most survey respondents cited poor pay as a leading factor. PayScale also notes that "nine of the 10 most underemployed majors are female-dominated," making underemployment a factor in the gender wage gap. Conversely, many of the least underemployed majors are dominated by men, according to a 2013 Georgetown survey.

In total, about 43 percent of respondents to the PayScale survey reported feeling underemployed. It was unclear if the other 57% were just unemployed to begin with.

27 Aug 11:04

Justice Dept. Official: We Could Get Lois Lerner's Emails From Backups, But It's Too Hard So Naaaaaah

by Timothy Geigner

I try not to go for conspiracy theories generally, but this ongoing IRS nonsense involving conveniently disappearing emails potentially pertaining to the scandal involving targeting certain groups is making my skeptics beacon go off. The official story essentially involves a computer (server?) crash that obliterated the email data of several email accounts that would otherwise be of great interest to those trying to figure out who in the Obama administration knew what about how the IRS was operating. That crash somehow also involves the destruction of any local backups these IRS folks are required to keep as part of their job.

But what I imagine pretty much everyone that has even a modicum of interest in office technology is asking is what about the kind of backups that are typically run for disaster recovery and offsite purposes. You know, like tape drives (blech), D2D backups, or remote storage. It's difficult to believe that all copies of the data for those email accounts had somehow been disappeared by accident. Or, really, disappeared entirely at all.

As it turns out, there is backup data for those email accounts, but if you're thinking that we're finally going to get to the bottom of this nonsense, you're a silly naive person that hasn't witnessed our glorious government at work.

“A Department of Justice attorney told a Judicial Watch attorney on Friday that it turns out the federal government backs up all computer records in case something terrible happens in Washington and there’s a catastrophe, so the government can continue operating,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told Fox News’s Shannon Bream. “But it would be too hard to go get Lois Lerner’s e-mails from that backup system."
Now, I know, Fox News and blah blah blah, but this is a claim worth paying attention to mostly because it only makes sense to begin with. Well, the part about there being backups, I mean. The suggestion that such backups are so difficult to parse and recover that the administration isn't going to get them for review makes zero sense because that's what damned backups are for.

Think about the logic here for a moment. The reason the federal government has backups of data in place is because there's a great deal of horrible crap that could happen to their facilities. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, hallmark-level incompetence, Area 51 aliens going Rambo on the computers. These are the things they have to prepare for and they need the ability to restore data from a remote location should one of their facilities fall to our alien overlords. To say that restoring that data is too hard to do when requested is to say that they're ill-prepared for a disaster. The suggestion that the government can't retrieve emails for court or congressional review is to say that they wouldn't even meet FINRA compliance, something that itsy-bitsy little trading firms are required to meet.
Fitton said his group plans to ask a federal judge to order the IRS to hand over the e-mails, which conservative opponents of Lerner want to see in order to determine if there is a link between President Obama’s team and the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups.

“If this backup system is working, Lois Lerner’s e-mails are there,” Fitton said.
And if the backup system isn't working, then fire everyone everywhere because this kind of thing is no joke. I'd say it'd be a bigger scandal to have any portion of the federal government not have basic backup and DR systems in place than to find out that any portion of the Executive administration was encouraging the IRS to target certain special interest groups.

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27 Aug 13:53

College is an Irony-Free Zone: "So you want to date a T.A." Edition

by Nick Gillespie

Via the great site Inside Higher Ed comes word of a campus controversy at Canada's Western University in Ontario University of Western Ontario. As part of its "Frosh Special Issue 2014," the student publication The Gazette published an article titled "So you want to date a teaching assistant?" It features such advice as:

1. Do your research. Facebook stalk and get to know your TA. Drop in on his or her tutorials, and if you’re not in that class — make it happen. Switch in if necessary.
Expert tip: Be good at the subject and showcase your smarts....

3. Get involved with the course. Ask your own smart questions, answer others’ dumb questions, and make yourself known in the class. Better yet, stand out as a pupil of interest. These are mature and knowledgeable teaching assistants — they are likely not looking for some ditz who will make a great one-night stand.
Disclaimer: Some of them are, so if you strike gold, stop reading and do as you please....

6. Know when to give up. At the end of the day, TAs are there to guide you through the curriculum – so there’s a good chance you have to be okay with that and only that. They may not be giving you head, but at least they’re giving you brain. Don’t be too disappointed though – after all, there’s always next term.

More, including a growing comment thread that will make you swear off Canada forever, here.

The article, reports Inside Higher Ed, has set off a "furor":

The union that represents T.A.s at Western posted a response saying that the piece had essentially been "a guide on how to sexually harass another human being." The provost wrote a letter to the editor in which she said: "Not only does the spirit of the article run contrary to Western’s efforts to have a workplace and learning environment that is free from sexual harassment, it is disrespectful of the essential contribution graduate teaching assistants make to Western’s academic mission."

More here.

Puh-lease.

#triggerwarning #microaggression: The article may not be that funny, but only the dumbest readers in the world could react the way the T.A. union and campus administrators are doing. Which ironically makes the story funnier. If colleges and professors (well, T.A.s) have so a low opinion of the reading skills of their students, it's no wonder they treat them like mental invalids who need to be protected from any source of irony, complexity, or thought.

Need to boost your blood pressure or heart rate? Watch Reason TV's "Trigger Warnings, Campus Speech, and the Right to Not be Offended":

27 Aug 12:57

The Future of Dollarization in Ecuador

by Gabriela Calderon de Burgos

Gabriela Calderon de Burgos

A new “monetary and finance” law that was approved by Ecuador’s National Assembly in July, is expected to be signed into law any day now. Many suspect that this marks the beginning of the end for dollarization in Ecuador, which began in January of 2000. But the underlying threat to dollarization is the incessant growth of public spending. Losing dollarization would be a sad development, considering it is what has protected Ecuadorians from one of the worst evils of populism: high inflation.

The remarkable contribution dollarization has made to the Ecuadorian economy is worth noting. A 2010 study published by Ecuador’s central bank (BCE) analyzed the first decade of the absence of independent monetary policy and found that average GDP growth increased from -6.3 percent during the 1990s to 4.4 percent during the 2000s; annual inflation decreased from a high of 90 percent in September of 2000 to single digits within a year, and has averaged 3 percent since 2004. Additionally, interest rates went down immediately, thereby reducing the cost of capital. According to the World Bank, the percentage of Ecuadorians living on less than $2 a day (PPP) decreased from 37.7 percent in 2000 to 10.6 percent in 2009.

Of course, there are many problems dollarization cannot solve and the positive outcomes above are not solely due to it. But it probably has been one of the main factors contributing to Ecuadorian growth prior to and during our current “revolutionary” government. In fact, Ecuador owes its superior economic performance today–compared the two most prominent populist nations in the region, Argentina and Venezuela–mostly to dollarization.

Ecuadorians love getting paid and saving in American dollars–and the government knows this. So why would de-dollarization be more likely today than seven years ago when Rafael Correa became president? Mainly because public spending has increased to unsustainable levels and will most likely continue its breakneck growth as Correa seeks to stay in power indefinitely or, at least, beyond 2017. Additionally, Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution made the BCE explicitly part of the executive branch (Article No. 303) and retained its power to issue currency of legal tender. Moreover, the new monetary and finance law contains several provisions that are only applicable if the BCE were to issue a national currency again. These include, for example, a whole chapter on the “exchange rate regime,” the ability to perform open market operations, and to use the rediscount window to ensure liquidity within the economy.

Most of the discussion has revolved around the provisions of the new monetary and finance law and how it might be the first step towards a return to a national currency. But laws and constitutions come and go fairly easily in Ecuador and are frequently violated if politics make it convenient to do so.

As F.A. Hayek explained in his book Denationalization of Money, national state monopolies over the issuing of money arose out of the discovery by kings that they could finance their uncontrolled spending by reducing the metallic content of the currency and forcing people to accept the devalued coins. Likewise, the main threat to dollarization is the incessant growth of public spending. More public spending increases the temptation to go back to the days when Ecuadorian politicians could monetize debt via the BCE. Public spending has grown from 24.6 percent of GDP in 2007 to 44.4 percent in 2013. Just so that you get an idea of the incredible growth of spending, this year’s projected fiscal deficit of $9.2 billion is almost equivalent to the total government spending in 2006 ($9.927 billion).

The government is already showing signs of a fiscal squeeze and making adjustments might be a difficult pill to swallow. For instance, expected government spending in the bureaucracy ($8.433 billion) and in subsidies ($6.213 billion) for 2014 would no longer be covered by expected tax revenue ($13.965 billion). These expenditures, like most other budget items, are politically costly to reduce. Public investment, however, is one of the few areas of the budget that could be easily trimmed. But the development model of Correa’s so called “citizen’s revolution” has crowded out so much private investment that the economy has become very dependent on public investment for growth.

If the government continues down this path of fiscal irresponsibility, the temptation to use the printing press at the BCE might become irresistible. The cherry on top of all of this is that the new penal code that went into effect this month makes it a crime—punishable with up to seven years in jail—to “publish, broadcast or spread” economic or financial information that, according to the authorities, is false and might cause economic or financial “panic.”

26 Aug 23:04

The World's Most Dangerous Dams

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Llewellyn King via OilPrice.com,

Hydroelectric dams are a nifty way of producing a huge amount of power, but they do not last forever. This is a tale of two dams that will fail unless they are urgently repaired, and if they fail, catastrophic suffering and loss of life will be the result.

The first is the Mosul Dam, which stretches across the Tigris River in a valley north of Mosul, Iraq. As dams go, this one is a civil engineering horror. The dam was captured on Aug. 7 by the Islamic State, and retaken 10 days later by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with American air support.

Should the two-mile-wide dam fail, which is likely, Mosul would be wiped out and the damage would extend to Baghdad. Loss of life could reach 500,000, and millions could be deprived of water and power: an immense catastrophe piled on the daily pain of Iraq.

The second dam, in southern Africa on the Zambezi River, is the Kariba. This 55-year-old dam, by some measures, is the world’s second largest. It was a civil engineering masterpiece and has held up well, given the spotty maintenance by its owners – Zambia, on the north bank and Zimbabwe, on the south bank.

But the Kariba Dam is predicted to fail within three years unless it undergoes massive repair. If it does, surging water would rip a vast trench down the length of the Zambezi River on its route to the Indian Ocean. The wall of water would take out another giant dam, Cahora Bassa, in Mozambique.

Loss of life could reach 3.5 million, with untold damage to wildlife. South central Africa would lose 40 percent of its electric supply.

While the Mosul and Kariba dams share the same potential lethality, they are very different structures.

The Mosul Dam was a rush job, ordered by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s without regard to the engineering realities of the site. It is anchored in gypsum, which dissolves in water. Daily, leaks in the foundation have to be plugged with grout -- a mixture of cement and sand. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Mosul Dam is fundamentally the wrong structure for the location, and called it the “most dangerous dam in the world.”

Even with careful tending, the Mosul Dam is in danger. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, many of the workers who have kept the dam operating fled when fighters from the Islamic State arrived on the scene. Only one dedicated manager is known to have stayed.

The United States has spent $33 million trying to stabilize the Mosul Dam, but the money, according an inspector general’s report, was largely wasted. Now, the U.S. bombing campaign is threatening to further destabilize an already fragile structure.

Apart from general maintenance issues, the Kariba Dam’s problems are a little simpler. When the dam was built between 1955 and 1959, the plan was to control the river’s flow though six sluice gates set in the wall. The water travels through the sluices and empties into a plunge pool before flowing downstream.

The trouble is that the plunge pool has grown from an indentation in the riverbed to a vast 285-foot-deep crater. The water, which swirls around inside it with great force, is eroding the basalt rock on which the dam is anchored. In other words, the dam is eating itself alive. Engineers dare not open all the sluice gates at once – the last time they did was in 1966.

The necessary fix is a combination of blasting an enlarged plunge pool so the water moves along without creating a whirlpool, and injecting grout -- in the form of underwater concrete -- to shore up the foundation.

A consortium of the World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank this month agreed to provide $250 million to save Kariba. Engineers say the work must be done in the next three years or it will be too late.

If Zimbabwe and Zambia can agree on the contracts, work should begin next year. But in that part of the world, the only thing that moves fast is the Zambezi River.

Considering the chaos that has befallen Iraq, the outlook for the Mosul Dam is anyone’s guess.

27 Aug 01:48

Top IRS ethics lawyer facing possible disbarment, accused of lying...


Top IRS ethics lawyer facing possible disbarment, accused of lying...


(First column, 9th story, link)

26 Aug 17:10

Karl Rove Group Attacks Democrats—For Wanting to Cut Entitlements

by Peter Suderman

Over the past two weeks, Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-fronted mega-group devoted to putting Republicans in office, has launched multiple ads hitting vulnerable Senate Democrats Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Kay Hagan (NC) for their positions on old-age entitlements Social Security and Medicare.

You can understand why a Republican group might go after Democrats on these issues. Far more than Obamacare, Medicare and, to a lesser extent, Social Security are the nation’s two biggest long-term fiscal problems, its most significant drivers of long-term debt, and arguably the hardest government programs to reform.

Here’s the funny part. Crossroads is knocking both Democratic candidates from the left—criticizing both candidates for wanting to cut and reform entitlements.

"It’s troubling that Senator Mark Pryor said we should overhaul Social Security and Medicare," the first ad says.

"Kay Hagan is a ‘big believer’ in a controversial plan that raises the retirement age, reduces the home mortgage deduction, and increases out-of-pocket Medicare costs," the other ad charges. From the dark music to the accusatory tone of the narrator, it leaves little doubt that this supposed to be a bad thing.

Watch the ad below:

We’ve seen this strategy before. In 2012, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran on a promise to "protect Medicare," and attacked President Obama for cutting Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

There are all sorts of issues here. One is that the ads are exaggerating the cuts and reforms the two Democrats support. As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent (who has written about both ads already) noted recently, the first ad is based on an interview in which Pryor talked hypothetically about raising Social Security’s retirement age for today’s teenagers. The second ad plays on Hagan’s support for the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction framework, a Beltway-favorite plan to raise taxes and tweak the entitlement system into something like sustainability over the next six decades. The retirement age would rise with glacial speed, going from 65 to 69 between now and 2075.

This is what Republicans are telling people to vote against: hypothetical entitlement reforms and benefit tweaks that take decades to implement.

Yes, there were problems with the Simpson-Bowles plan, and reasonable people can disagree on its merits and particulars. But in this case, it’s a mistake to worry too much about the details, which are secondary at best. Instead, it’s important to focus on the essence of the ad, its lizard-brain appeal to a kind of inchoate fear of collapse and change.

It is almost totally incoherent. In a delightfully absurd twist, the second ad also goes after Sen. Hagan for "voting for trillions in wasteful spending and debt." This is like criticizing someone for being anti-sunshine and then immediately warning that she supports a plan to ban clouds.

Sure, the ad sticks carefully the word "wasteful" in the mix, and alludes to Hagan’s spending priorities, but again, the details aren’t the point. If rising federal debt is the problem, the cutting federal spending on Medicare is eventually going to be necessary. There’s no way to solve the federal debt problem without touching Medicare.

Too many Republicans don’t know how to talk about entitlement reform, or at least really don’t want to. You can see that inability on display in this local news interview with Elise Stefanik, a Republican candidate for Congress in New York. She talks about preserving and protecting entitlements, promises no cuts for those at or near the retirement age, and then literally cuts off the interview and walks away when pressed for more details.

Here’s what you learn from all this: that the Karl Rove-wing of the Republican party is happy to mislead and exaggerate in order to attack Democrats, that the Bush-era party establishment’s commitment to fiscal reforms remains puddle-deep, that at least through the mid-terms the GOP aims to be the party of seniors, that parts of the party remain unwilling to discuss even the most basic details of the reforms they claim to support, and, most importantly, that Republicans are likely still far from making anything like a meaningful and unified push on entitlement reform.

Not everyone in the party is playing the game like this. As with just about every issue right now, Republicans are fractured and confused on how to handle entitlements. But with these sorts of well-funded ads (the Hagan spot is a $1 million ad buy), influential parts of the party are making it more difficult to sort out that confusion by walling off even the most timid of reforms. 

And even more than that, these ads illustrate the ways that the Republican party is still struggling to figure itself out while offering a glimpse into the state of policy discourse—not so much on the broader right, but within certain factions of the GOP power structure. These shallow, shell-game attack ads are meant to play on voter fear and confusion about important policy details, but what they end up revealing is the party’s own fear and confusion about how to answer some of the biggest policy questions of the day. 

26 Aug 13:47

As Police Get More Militarized, Bill In Congress Would Make Owning Body Armor Punishable By Up To 10 Years In Prison

by Mike Masnick
We've been writing an awful lot lately about the militarization of police, but apparently some in Congress want to make sure that the American public can't protect themselves from a militarized police. Rep. Mike Honda (currently facing a reasonably strong challenger for election this fall) has introduced a bizarre bill that would make it a crime for civilians to buy or own body armor. The bill HR 5344 is unlikely to go anywhere, but violating the bill, if it did become law, would be punishable with up to ten years in prison. Yes, TEN years. For merely owning body armor.

Honda claims that the bill is designed to stop "armored assailants" whom he claims are "a trend" in recent years. Perhaps there wouldn't be so much armor floating around out there if we weren't distributing it to so many civilian police forces... Not surprisingly, the very same police who have been getting much of this armor are very much in favor of making sure no one else gets it:
Honda said it has been endorsed by law enforcement organizations including the California State Sheriffs' Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, according to Honda.

Santa Clara County's District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Sheriff Laurie Smith and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley and Sheriff Gregory Ahern also attended today's news conference, held at the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office in San Jose.

Santa Clara police Chief Michael Sellers and Milpitas police Chief Steve Pangelinan also attended the news conference.
That all sounds great. But when you read stories about police shooting unarmed teenagers, pointing guns at protesters and reporters, even threatening to kill or shoot them, isn't there at least a reasonable argument that people who are doing perfectly legal things might want to protect themselves from out of control, militarized police officers too? Owning a gun is perfectly legal, but owning a "ballistic resistant" shield gets you 10 years in jail?

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26 Aug 02:50

The 'Sunni Turn' Against The 'Shiite Crescent': How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington (And Its Allies) Created ISIS

by Tyler Durden
Jts5665

The busybody elite in the US has made a mess and seem to continually worsen the mess whilst trying to fix it.

Submitted by AntiWar's Justin Raimondo via Contra Corner blog,

The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest “threat” to the American homeland: hysterics have pointed to Chicago as the locus of their interest, and we are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores.

How is this supposed to work? Well, you see, that monster who beheaded James Foley had a British accent, and there are reports of more than a few Brits (and Americans) traveling to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS. So these jihadi “internationalists” could always just fly back to either Britain or the US, where another 9/11 would shortly be in the works.

Let’s put aside the FBI statement that, while Americans abroad may be in some unspecified degree of danger, ISIS represents “no credible threat” to the continental United States. If we take the ISIS-threatens-us-at-home war propaganda seriously we have to believe Western law enforcement agencies, with all the tools at their command – including near total surveillance of online and telephonic communications worldwide – have no idea what dubious characters have traveled to Syria via, say, New York or London, and would in any case be powerless to prevent their return.

In short, we have to invade yet another country (or two) because our own post-9/11 security arrangements are virtually nonexistent – in spite of having spent untold billions on building them up.

Can that really be true?

If we step back from the hysteria generated by the beheading of US journalist James Foley, what’s clear is that this new bogeyman is the creation of the United States and its allies in the region.

ISIS didn’t just arise out of the earth like some Islamist variation on the fabled Myrmidons: they needed money, weapons, logistics, propaganda facilities, and international connections to reach the relatively high level of organization and lethality they seem to have achieved in such a short period of time. Where did they get these assets?

None of this is any secret: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the rest of the oil-rich Gulf states have been backing them all the way. Prince Bandar al-Sultan, until recently the head of the Kingdom’s intelligence agency – and still the chief of its National Security Council – has been among their biggest backers. Qatar and the Gulf states have also been generous in their support for the Syrian jihadists who were too radical for the US to openly back. Although pressure from Washington – only recently exerted – has reportedly forced them to cut off the aid, ISIS is now an accomplished fact – and how can anyone say that support has entirely evaporated instead of merely going underground?

Washington’s responsibility for the success of ISIS is less direct, but no less damning.

The US was in a de facto alliance with the groups that merged to form ISIS ever since President Barack Obama declared Syria’s Bashar al-Assad “must go” – and Washington started funding Syrian rebel groups whose composition and leadership kept changing. By funding the Free Syrian Army (FSA), our “vetted” Syrian Islamists, this administration has actively worked to defeat the only forces capable of rooting out ISIS from its Syrian nest – Assad’s Ba’athist government. Millions of dollars in overt aid – and who knows how much covertly? – were pumped into the FSA. How much of that seeped into the coffers of ISIS when constantly forming and re-forming chameleon-like rebel groups defected from the FSA? These defectors didn’t just go away: they joined up with more radical – and militarily effective – Islamist militias, some of which undoubtedly found their way to ISIS.

How many ISIS cadres who started out in the FSA were trained and equipped by American “advisors” in neighboring Jordan? We’ll never know the exact answer to that question, but the number is very likely not zero – and this Mother Jones piece shows that, at least under the Clinton-Petraeus duo, the “vetting” process was a joke. Furthermore, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) may well have been on to something when he confronted Hillary with the contention that some of the arms looted from Gaddafi’s arsenals may well have reached the Syrian rebels. There was, after all, the question of where that mysterious “charity ship,” the Al Entisar, carrying “humanitarian aid” to the Syrian rebels headquartered in Turkey, sailed from.

Secondly, the open backing by the US of particular Syrian rebel groups no doubt discredited them in the eyes of most Islamist types, driving them away from the FSA and into the arms of ISIS. When it became clear Washington wasn’t going to provide air support for rebel actions on the ground, these guys left the FSA in droves – and swelled the ranks of groups that eventually coalesced into ISIS.

Thirdly, the one silent partner in all this has been the state of Israel. While there is no evidence of direct Israeli backing, the public statements of some top Israeli officials lead one to believe Tel Aviv has little interest in stopping the ISIS threat – except, of course, to urge Washington to step deeper into the Syrian quagmire.

In a recent public event held at the Aspen Institute, former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren bluntly stated that in any struggle between the Sunni jihadists and their Iranian Shi’ite enemies, the former are the “lesser evil.” They’re all “bad guys,” says Oren, but “we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” Last year, Sima Shine, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, declared:

"The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists flock to Syria, is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran.”

None of this should come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following Israel’s machinations in the region. It has long been known that the Israelis have been standing very close to the sidelines of the Syrian civil war, gloating and hoping for “no outcome,” as this New York Times piece put it.

Israel’s goal in the region has been to gin up as much conflict and chaos as possible, keeping its Islamic enemies divided, making it impossible for any credible challenge to arise among its Arab neighbors – and aiming the main blow at Tehran. As Ambassador Oren so brazenly asserted – while paying lip service to the awfulness of ISIS and al-Qaeda – their quarrel isn’t really with the Arabs, anyway – it’s with the Persians, whom they fear and loathe, and whose destruction has been their number one objective since the days of Ariel Sharon.

Why anyone is shocked that our Middle Eastern allies have been building up Sunni radicals in the region is beyond me – because this has also been de facto US policy since the Bush administration, which began recruiting American assets in the Sunni region as the linchpin of the Iraqi “surge.” This was part and parcel of the so-called “Sunni turn,” or “redirection,” in Seymour Hersh’s phrase, which, as I warned in 2006, would become Washington’s chosen strategy for dealing with what they called the “Shia crescent” – the crescent-shaped territory spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria, and parts of Lebanon under Hezbollah’s control, which the neocons began pointing to as the Big New Threat shortly after Saddam Hussein’s defeat.

The pro-Sunni orientation of US policymakers wasn’t reversed with the change of administrations: instead, it went into overdrive, especially after the much-vaunted Arab Spring. Both Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, and David Petraeus, who had yet to disgrace himself and was still CIA director, lobbied intensively for more support to the Syrian rebels. The Sunni Turn took a fateful turn when the Three Harpies of the Apocalypse – Hillary, Susan Rice, and now UN ambassador Samantha Power – hectored Obama into pursuing regime change in Libya. In this case the US and its NATO allies acted as the Islamist militia’s air force while supplying them with arms on the ground and diplomatic support internationally.

Yet even as Libya was imploding from the effects of its “liberation,” the neocons and their “liberal” interventionist allies in the Democratic party – and in the highest reaches of the Obama administration – were building support for yet another fateful “Sunni turn,” this time in Syria. Caving to this pressure, the Obama administration decided to act on accusations of poison gas supposedly used by Assad against the rebels to directly intervene with a bombing campaign modeled along Libyan lines. Only a huge public outcry stopped them.

ISIS could never have been consolidated in the form it has now taken without the strategic disaster of Washington’s “Sunni turn.” While the US may have reason to regret this harebrained strategy, it’s far too late for that – and it looks to me like our “allies” in the region, including Israel, aren’t about to turn on a dime at Obama’s command.

Last year around this time Vladimir Putin very publicly warned against the scenario we are seeing unfold in the Middle East:

“If Assad goes today, a political vacuum emerges – who will fill it? Maybe those terrorist organizations. Nobody wants this – but how can it be avoided? After all, they are armed and aggressive.”

Now that Putin’s prediction has come to pass, we’re too busy confronting him in Ukraine – and dreaming of the day we can do to him what we did to Assad – to acknowledge it. But you can hear the gears of our policymaking machine screaming in protest as Washington does an abrupt about-face and starts cooperating with Assad – previously denounced as the latest edition of Adolph Hitler – by sharing intelligence enabling the Syrian army to target ISIS positions.

We have always been at war with Eurasia. Or is that Eastasia? I forget.

The lesson of all this?

What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to intervene. And deceive – this administration has not only been lying to the American people about the nature of the Syrian “liberators” we’ve been funding with their tax dollars, they also been deceiving themselves. The Sunni Turn has turned on them, and with a vengeance.

The ancient Greeks had a word for the particular sin committed by our political class: they called it hubris– a mindset generated by the belief that humankind can defy the gods and get away with it. Yet the divine pantheon of Olympus had a way of giving these malefactors their comeuppance: they sent the goddess Nemesis to avenge such sacrilege – and she was relentless in her pursuit. The word nemesis has come down to us to mean “the inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall” – and that is as succinct an explanation of the origins of ISIS as we are likely to come across.

Okay, so the anti-interventionists told us so – but now what? What should the United States do about ISIS now that they’ve taken over half of Syria and a third of Iraq?

The answer is: let Assad, the Iranians, the Turks, and, yes, the Russians take care of it, since they are the states directly threatened by the growth of the so-called Islamic State. Why should we fight their war for them?

Contrary to the War Party’s hebephrenic appeals to intervene, inaction on our part is key to the destruction of ISIS. The Grand Caliph of the Islamic State would like nothing more than to be able to portray ISIS as the valiant opponent of a US reentry into the region. It would be a tremendous propaganda victory for them to be able to frame their cause in this context because the result would be a successful international recruiting drive that would fill the ranks of the Islamic State’s army even as hundreds are killed by US drones and missile strikes.

By letting nature take its course and permitting Iraq’s predatory neighbors to gobble up the charred remains of the Iraqi state we destroyed, we can solve a problem we created in the first place, albeit not without incurring the inevitable cost of our initial error – which was invading Iraq in the first place.

ISIS has made a big deal out of declaring the end of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which divided the region between British and French interests at the end of World War I. Having declared their “Islamic State,” ISIS claims to have destroyed the status quo by militarily – and, to much notice, symbolically – erasing the border between Syria and Iraq. The claim is laughable: a ragtag”army” of perhaps 17,000 fighters couldn’t have achieved that without some significant outside help, not only from the Saudis and the Qataris but, decisively, from Washington.

We abolished Sykes-Picot by effectively putting an end to Iraqi statehood. The process was completed when Washington subsequently allied with Iraq’s Sunni tribesmen in a vain hope to avoid the break up of Iraq and drive Al Qaeda out of the country. What happened, instead, was that the Sunni tribesmen’s brothers across the by-then-virtually-nonexistent border were drawn into the Iraqi arena, where they took up the fight against Baghdad – and their American backers.

ISIS didn’t blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh.

The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense: actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep out.

25 Aug 23:00

You’re Not Paranoid – They Really Are Out to Get You. And It’s Legal, Too

by Harvey

First, you couldn’t trust houseplants & potato chip bags.

But that’s not what’s going to do you in.

No, you’re doomed because of your super-fancy smart phone.

Not from the microphone or the GPS (although that’s not doing you any favors, privacy-wise), it’s the phone’s gyroscope, which automatically rotates the screen when you rotate the phone – it lets anybody eavesdrop on you [emphasis mine]:

The MEMS gyroscopes found on modern smart phones are sufficiently sensitive to measure acoustic signals in the vicinity of the phone. The resulting signals contain only very low-frequency information (

***Since iOS and Android require no special permissions to access the gyro, our results show that apps and active web content that cannot access the microphone can nevertheless eavesdrop on speech in the vicinity of the phone.***

This sort of thing is why I have a superunfancy blitheringidiotphone.

Oh, and at the link, you can also scroll down to find out what else that stalkerment officials don’t need permission to access.

If you need me, I’ll be over here under my tinfoil tent…

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25 Aug 20:37

10 George Orwell Quotes That Predicted Life In 2014 America

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Justin King (of The Anti-Media) via The Burning Platform blog,

onlinegames

George Orwell ranks among the most profound social critics of the modern era. Some of his quotations, more than a half a century old, show the depth of understanding an enlightened mind can have about the future.

 

1)  “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”

Though many in the modern age have the will to bury their head in the sand when it comes to political matters, nobody can only concern themselves with the proverbial pebble in their shoe. If one is successful in avoiding politics, at some point the effects of the political decisions they abstained from participating in will reach their front door. More often than not, by that time the person has already whatever whisper of a voice the government has allowed them.

 

2)  “All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”

Examining the nightly news in the run up to almost any military intervention will find scores of talking heads crying for blood to flow in the streets of some city the name of which they just learned to pronounce. Once the bullets start flying, those that clamored for war will still be safely on set bringing you up-to-the-minute coverage of the carnage while their stock in Raytheon climbs.

toldyouso

 

3)  “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”

It’s pretty self-explanatory and while it may be hard to swallow, it’s certainly true. All it takes is a quick look at who benefited from the recent wars waged by the United States to see Orwell’s quip take life.

 

4)  “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

My most prized books are a collection of history books from around the world. I have an Iraqi book that recounts the glory of Saddam Hussein’s victory over the United States in 1991. I have books from three different nations claiming that one of their citizens was the first to fly. As some of the most powerful nations in the world agree to let certain facts be “forgotten,” the trend will only get worse. History is written by the victor, and the victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

Huffington Post journalist detained by military police in Ferguson, Missouri

 

5)  “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Even without commentary, the reader is probably picturing Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning. The revolutions of the future will not be fought with bullets and explosives, but with little bits of data traveling around the world destroying the false narratives with which governments shackle their citizens.

 

6)  “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.

Make no mistake about it; if an article does not anger someone, it is nothing more than a piece. Most of what passes for news today is little more than an official sounding advertisement for a product, service, or belief.

ryangrim

 

7)  “In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer…

In every conflict, it is not the side that can inflict the most damage, but the side that can sustain the most damage that ultimately prevails. History is full of situations in which a military “won the battles but lost the war.

 

8)  “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Haditha. Panjwai. Maywand District. Mahmudiyah. These names probably don’t ring a bell, but it is almost a certainty that the reader is aware of the brutality that occurred in Benghazi. The main difference is that in the first four incidents, those committing the acts of brutality were wearing an American flag on their shoulder.

(Answer: D)

 

9)  “Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”

Everyday there is a new form of censorship or a new method of forcing people into self-censorship, and the people shrug it off because it only relates to a small minority. By the time the people realize their ability to express disapproval has been completely restricted, it may be too late. That brings us to Orwell’s most haunting quote.

bootface

 

10)  “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Once the people are indoctrinated with nationalistic beliefs, and the infrastructure to protect them from some constantly-changing and ever-expanding definition of an enemy is in place, there is no ability for the people to regain liberty. By the time all of the pieces are in place, not only is opportunity to regain freedom, but the will to achieve freedom has also evaporated. The reader will truly love Big Brother.

23 Aug 22:00

This Is What It's Like To Race A Macaw

by Robbie Gonzalez

This Is What It's Like To Race A Macaw

YouTuber waterskizone has a pet macaw named Vito that loves to fly. But where another parrot might be perfectly content to stretch its wings circling above a field, Vito, it seems, has a distinct preference for the open road – especially when his owner comes along for the ride.

Read more...








22 Aug 20:20

Every group has that one friend… [banglesong]



Every group has that one friend… [banglesong]

24 Aug 13:30

Former NYPD Chief Bernard Kerik Weighs in on Ferguson and Police Militarization

by Nick Gillespie

Originally published on August 20, 2014. Initial text below:

"Any time a police department can get [military] equipment for the department, they're going to try and do that," says Bernard Kerik, the former New York Police Department Commissioner and one-time nominee to be secretary of Homeland Security.
Speaking about events in Ferguson, Missouri and the general militarization of police over the past several decades, he continues: "When you create this militarization of all these smaller agencies and they don't have the ability to communicate with each other, that's going to create a problem."
In 2009, Kerik pled guilty to making false tax statements and eventually served time in federal prison. Released in 2013, Kerik now runs a crisis-management consulting group and advocates for criminal justice reform. 

He recently sat down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie to discuss the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, the militarization of police, the effect of the drug war on law enforcement, and what it's like to be prosecuted in today's America.

"Every high school student in America, before they graduate high school," says Kerik, "should be forced to read [Reason Contributor Harvey] Silverglate's book [Three Felonies a Day]. No one in America knows that if you give me a stack of subpoenas and give me the power to scrutinize you like they did me, I promise you that you're going to prison."

About 25 minutes. Edited by Amanda Winkler. Shot by Joshua Swain and Todd Krainin. 

Subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new videos go live and scroll down for HD, flash, MP4, and MP3 versions.
22 Aug 18:00

Useful Idiots and the Something For Nothing Society – Part 4 of 5

by tedbits

 

 

image

August 22, 2014

 

Useful Idiots and the Something For Nothing Society - Part 4 of 5

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In this next chapter of Useful Idiots and the Something for Nothing Society, we will put the final nails into a century’s UNFOLDING MADNESS.  A country of free men has been transformed into an authoritarian state on its road to totalitarianism as the final denouement unfolds under their policies. The final connecting dots of from whence we came, where we are today, and the inevitable destination of societal and economic collapse of empire as has been seen throughout history and Austrian economics.  It’s been an EXTREMELY interesting journey, one which has been full of opportunities and heartbreaks.  I have witnessed much of it in my 58 years.  At the time of many events, I did not understand the significance of them. Now, I believe I do.  This is not a story of doom and gloom. It is the story of man, human behavior and history repeating.  In the Rise and Fall of empires and societies such as ours, it is always darkest before the dawn. We are in the late evening (9pm) heading towards midnight in my opinion.  Soon the destruction will come to an end with a bang, and spring can emerge as the global economic system and societies are rebuilt from the ashes.  It has always been so throughout history.  This time will be no different. When people ask you what’s wrong with the world and you tell them and they stare back at you with an empty look, you can print this series out and hand it to them and they can read it in a hour.
 
In Part I of this series we covered the transformation of the monetary system from sound reserve backed constitutionally mandated currency system to what now has become completely unsound Fiat currency and credit system.  Money has changed from a system for storing wealth, purchasing power and ones labor for the future to a confiscation scheme run for the benefit of Banksters and socialist progressive government.  Do not miss this as UNSOUND money and Reserveless banking is the master thread and foundation of all the chaos unfolding in the world today.
 
In PART II of this series we thoroughly covered how the ACCOUNTABLE, LOCALLY controlled education systems have been high jacked and transformed into FEDERALLY CONTROLLED, UNACCOUNTABLE, public school MONOPOLIES designed to create sheeple and Useful Idiots ripe for exploitation.   The Locally controlled school systems that created the most prosperous country in the history of man are now nothing more than PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST indoctrination centers designed to mentally cripple the futures of our children.  It is now an insidious system to create morally and fiscally insolvent citizens, bereft of histories lessons, contemptuous of what created our exceptional country and its burgeoning middle classes, unable to produce more than they consume.  They do not know how to live prudent and productive lives and DO NOT have the BASIC knowledge needed to build a prosperous and independent life.
 
In Part III of this series, we covered the impoverishment of the masses and how they have been turned from free men into debt and tax slaves through the scheme known as Fiat currency and credit creation and creeping centralized government.  We learned how the value of their wages has been reduced and debased by the very people in whom they have placed their trust: the government and banking/financial systems.  In reality, the powers that be have created a land of serfs in the developed world.  Only serfs had it better as they only gave 25% of their incomes to their masters and dealt in coin based sound money.   In history, one man’s taking of the fruits of another man’s labor was called SLAVERY.  Now, in the land of George Orwell we have become, it is called FAIRNESS.  Real money is basically EXTINCT in today’s world, except for gold and silver, killed by the elites who control the world today.  All three previous parts of this series are critical foundations to this edition: DON’T MISS THEM.
 
Now onto today’s missive:
 
While government has grown, so has its CONTROL over and destruction of the PRIVATE sector, and FREE ENTERPRISE!  Regulating personal freedom, free market capitalism and opportunity away from the private sector and entrepreneurs to their crony capitalist partners in crime. This is the imposition of the socialist fascist state the US has BECOME!  The EU, Japan and UK are WORSE.
 
 

 
 
Small business is where most if not all job creation comes from.  It is entrepreneurs with better ideas entering the economy in the quest of the holy grail of providing MORE GOODS AND SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC FOR LESS MONEY.  It is the ultimate PUBLIC service as it lets people get MORE FOR THEIR MONEY and thus gives their families a better standard of living.  In the Something for Nothing Society, corrupt public officials and crony capitalists stand against this process.  They want to take the fruits of the industrious and transfer it to themselves as entitlements and to their crony supporters as regulated demand to themselves.  Just another way to KILL their emerging new COMPETITORS, they raise the price of entry into business for them.  Look at this disparity of the costs of the regulatory state by enterprise size:
 

 
PENALIZED for creating a business and new jobs, these numbers are from 2008 so the regulatory freight train since that time has added considerably to this disparity and crime against the private sector which is where wealth and incomes come from.  These last two illustrations are from a working paper called 10,000 Commandments by the American Enterprise Institute, and are the picture of loss of PERSONAL and BUSINESS freedoms.   It represents CAPITALISM, entrepreneurism, competition, productivity and innovation PROHIBITED by LAW.  It is the imposition of SLAVERY of those that produce by those who DO NOT!  It is also central government tyranny, crony capitalism, less goods and services for more money, and economic central planning being IMPOSED BY LAW!  What you see here is but the tip of a regulatory ICEBERG.  Icebergs sink things: in this case it is the US and European economies.  Progressive socialists have become totalitarians in the past and this is one way they do it.
 
“Like many of the challenges we're facing, the tipping point we're approaching is the result of a liberal progressive mindset that seeks a larger, more active government and lets bureaucrats decide what's best for everyone instead of allowing citizens to govern themselves. Its response to every social problem is more government, more bureaucracy and more taxpayer money.”

- Rep Paul Ryan

 
This is reported by NO ONE in the main stream media and few outside it, as it is a SILENT KILLER working in the shadows of Brussels and Washington DC. It is SEIZING and hammering away at your freedoms, cementing their interests into place above yours and passing laws to attempt to stop future change.  Can you imagine a world where unsuccessful policies are NEVER REFORMED or REPEALED? This is IT!
 
“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”

- Winston Churchill

 
“Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.”

 - Thomas Paine

 
Those regulations number in the millions.  We are expected to know and comply with them all.  Not knowing them is no excuse. Men’s rea, has been SUSPENDED (men’s rea is the idea that you have to have the knowledge and intent to violate the law, if you did not you were not guilty).  Now, we are expected to know and comply with millions of words of regulatory and legal gibberish, indecipherable to the common man.  Everyone’s behavior and endeavors must comply with the thoughts of a bureaucrat who has no idea of the realities of business, nor the problems or situations they are trying to regulate. This was done to you by your elected representatives in Washington DC and Brussels.  They turned every one of us into habitual criminals OVERNIGHT, just waiting to be picked up, or challenge them PUBLICLY. Then, they will roll out the law and TAKE YOU and YOUR family down for challenging their POWER OVER YOU and your behavior.  FREEDOM DENIED!
 
"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force, like fire it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master."

- George Washington

 
A totalitarian state has been put in place; you just haven’t been notified yet.   You are subject to ARREST if you do not COMPLY to rules which DO NOT WORK in REAL LIFE.  Real life problems will not yield to faraway and fairytale solutions.  They think themselves GODS but are imbeciles of hubris.  Mostly PROBLEMS must be solved by those directly confronted with them, think doctor/patient relationships.  Should that between patient and their doctors be handled by a RULE BOOK?  Obamacare, Medicaid and increasingly Medicare are RULE BOOK medicine. Their explanation for this behavior: you have no knowledge of the issues you are bring confronted with and they are doing this to save and protect you.  Of course, the public school monopolies work to insure general stupidity.
 
Government rulebooks now exist for almost EVERY activity in the PRIVATE SECTOR.  The rules they have for themselves (constitution, IRS, Immigration, NSA, etc.) are ROUTINELY IGNORED, with no penalty to themselves for their CRIMES against the rule of law or the public at large.
 

 
"The two enemies of the people are criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”

- Thomas Jefferson

 
Washington DC regularly ignores and works to undo the supreme laws of the land, and insists we comply with laws and regulations which are blatantly UNCONSTITUTIONAL.  Progressive socialists and their useful idiot supporters call the constitution a LIVING document subject to endless reinterpretation.  No! It is not.  Only weasel word lawyers and “would be” MONARCHS and RULERS think this. They are working to impose this on the something for nothing societies and useful idiots.  We are in a constant constitutional crisis. Our Constitution is being completely eviscerated on a daily basis by the powers that be in Washington DC (District of Corruption). How many people really understand that FEDERAL EMPLOYEES are not subject to being FIRED?  Do you think they can be held accountable for their actions if they can’t be fired?  Once again: NEVER REPORTED.  This is the destruction of private sector opportunities, common sense solutions, and the middle class.   None of this is new.  Wise men and women have written about it for centuries. It happens over and over again throughout HISTORY.  It is the decline, destruction and demise of EMPIRES!  They kill what made them great.
 
The last time TAXES and REGULATIONS were reduced was the presidency of Ronald Reagan.  He tore the chains of overregulation off the American economy and it BOOMED as you shall see later in this missive.  Take a look…
 

 
Ronald Reagan cut the regulatory chains on the private sector by ONE THIRD, and people reacted accordingly.  They went to work because it PAID to do so.  They innovated, started small businesses, hired people and the economy BOOMED after a DECADE of STAGFLATION.  Reagan was MORNING IN AMERICA as he cut the government regulations and confiscatory taxes that were binding us.  That ECONOMIC miracle can be REPEATED!   Just lift the chains of overregulation and taxation off the American people!  Chance of that NIL.  It is why Reagan’s memory and the truth of the economy at that time is VILIFIED, and misreported by progressive socialists.  He stood AGAINST everything they stand FOR.  The results are a testament to the different outcomes of the two approaches to societal wealth creation.  Freedom and reward for hard work versus government authoritarianism and confiscatory taxation of the fruits of your labor.
 
"I think we have more machinery of Government than is necessary, to many parasites living on the labor of the industrious."

- Thomas Jefferson

 
“The more corrupt the state the more it legislates.”

- Cicero

 
“We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.” 

- Ayn Rand

 
"It doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists."

- Ronald Reagan

 
Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise:
 
"It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

- Alexis de Tocqueville

 
"Whenever men are allowed liberty, and freedom of choice, they will make mistakes. Liberty is not a guarantee of omniscience. But neither are the mistakes of free-men a valid excuse to take away their liberty, and impose Government controls in its stead, on the ground that all wisdom and disinterestedness resides in the people who are going to do the controlling." 

- Henry Hazlitt

 
Bureaucracies have life cycles as all things do in nature and God’s world.  Here is an excellent illustration explaining them by Charles Hugh Smith of www.oftwominds.com. We are firmly on the bottom row depending on what state or country you reside in:
 

 
This is why the economy can’t recover as State and Federal bureaucracy has grown to a point of poisoning the economic system in the US and Europe.  It does not pay to start a business or hire a worker as the obstacles are just growing and growing.  Take a look at this chart from the Brookings institution showing more businesses closing than beginning. It is NO COINCIDENCE that this began in 2008 when the president took office:
 

 
This is a picture of the entrepreneurism and dynamism of the US economy GRINDING to a STOP as it no longer pays to take the risk of starting a business while expectations of the future of the economy under government policies are so NEGATIVE.  This is the face of a something for nothing society destroying and outlawing the incentives to produce. RUNAWAY REGULATIONS and mindless BUREAUCRACIES are now blocking the blood system of the economy, throwing EVER GROWING sand in the gears of the system.   The more it grows, the more it destroys the economy going forward.  That is actually its reason to exist - to take over more and more of your lives, confiscate your freedoms and opportunities and transfer it to themselves and their cronies.  This is one of the BASIC REASONS Europe and AMERICA CANNOT recover.  This REGULATORY STATE must be REFORMED before the economy will resume real growth. Do you really think the SOMETHING for NOTHING family is getting $14,758 dollars’ worth of safety from the federal government and its regulations? Or would that money be better served in their POCKETS? This COST goes UNREPORTED by the main stream media.  As the government legislates and regulates, COMPLIANCE officers will be entering our lives more and more to document and punish those that don’t COMPLY.  Compliance officers are now the largest job opportunity in America and Dodd Frank, the Affordable Care Act and other malevolent legislation from the president’s first term will just grow and grow.  It is an ever growing python squeezing the life out of America.
 
Backing out misstated inflation and illustrating the cost of runaway government and regulation, the REAL economy has been in SECULAR DECLINE since 1971.
 


 
The NUMBERS don’t LIE. Notice how Growth in REAL terms skyrocketed when REAGAN CUT TAXES and SLASHED REGULATION rolling back the Something for Nothing Society and WELFARE STATE?  The economic expansion ENDED as the same time his presidency did (Bush was a socialist progressive in disguise as a conservative just as his son was and is).  May Ronnie rest in peace, he was the greatest president of my lifetime in my opinion and you can see it in the numbers.  Most if not all GDP since 2000 is courtesy of MISREPORTED INFLATION to FOOL the USEFUL idiots and Something for nothing society. All GDP growth is nominal (measured in fake DEPRECIATING dollars and misreported inflation) not real wealth creation. Our standards of living and economies are IN FREEFALL; the Middle class is desperate for an improving economy and the ability to GET ahead.  THOSE DAYS ARE GONE courtesy of the money printers, banksters, public servants, bureaucrats and the elites which CONTROL THEM. Useful idiots will vote for any CHARLETON who promises an ability to get ahead as it SOUNDS GOOD. The same people the USEFUL idiots have PUT in CHARGE!


Author’s Note: In my opinion the greatest manmade disaster and OPPORTUNITY in history is unfolding in every corner of the world. Are you diversified or operating with EYES WIDE SHUT? Are you prepared to turn it into opportunity by properly diversifying your portfolio? Adding absolute return investments which are designed with the potential to thrive (up and down markets) regardless of what unfolds economically or politically? This is what I do for investors; help them diversify into investments which are created to potentially thrive in the storm. For a personal consultation with me CLICK HERE!


In closing, today we learned of the totalitarian state being cemented into place by Washington DC and Brussels (European Commission).  Statehouses and individual countries in the EU have done all this and more.  Putting two layers of economic and personal destruction upon their SUBJECTS.  They are not your servants, you are theirs.  The word “public servant” is an oxymoron and doublespeak.  One meaning for you, another for them.  It is corruption on plain display, but largely unseen until it smashes you in the face and diminishes your futures like the silent KILLER.  What I have just detailed has EXPLODED in size since the Global financial crisis.   As Rahm Emanual for chief of staff to the president once said:
 
"You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste." 

- Rahm Emanuel

 
Well, they didn’t waste it on either side of the Atlantic.   Reform may be something the political class utters but makes no actions to do so.  The REQUIRED road to recovery has become much FARTHER AWAY.  Many MAIN STREAM leaders say this is urgent priority but their admonitions go unaddressed.
 
The socialists in charge today say this is to protect you as you are too stupid to protect yourself.  Of course, much of that is true as almost 40% of the public has now been dumbed down and mentally disabled by design in the public school monopolies they have IMPOSED upon us.  For those poor souls, the future is very bleak and, for those that can take care of themselves, slavery lies ahead as the people the useful idiots support and vote for legislate are the DUMBEST AMONG US.  The developed world is increasingly being brought on a sociopathic road.  It is the definition of useful idiots and something for nothing societies.  As they grow, so grows the insane behavior and outcomes throughout our lives.
 
Laws must be simple, easily understood and widely known to be complied with.  We all want the rule of law versus the rule of man.  The rule of man is known as dictatorship, while the rule of law is known as a constitutional republic, what was given to us by the founding fathers.  The insidious nature of the imposed legal and regulatory systems is a crime against all free men.  These systems are contrary to the constitution and magna carta, which enshrined the powers over government to the man on the street aka the public.  This is enslavement, freedoms and private property rolling back in plain sight to a public, which does not know or has not been taught history.
 
Laws and regulations are NEVER REPEALED or REFORMED, only left on the books to expand government power over the people and economy.  I can’t imagine a better way to poison our futures than not policing ourselves and throwing out what no longer works.  Government is not the solution to problems, it is the cause of them.  Useful idiots have been taught just the opposite and vote for it.  It is another example of how the suicide of the greatest nation ever on earth is unstoppable as their legions just grow and grow, manufactured by the school systems in which we have misplaced our trust and our children.   Don’t miss the explosive final edition of USEFUL IDIOTS and the Something for Nothing Society and its alarming conclusions.  You may have it delivered to your inbox as Subscriptions to this commentary are FREE - CLICK HERE.  The momentum to the fall of empire is unstoppable and the system which spawns it is in place.  Take the time to read the first 3 parts of the series as they are the foundations of the subsequent letter.  They are available to you - CLICK HERE!
 
May God Bless you all, 
Ty

 
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22 Aug 17:11

Shocking: Red Light Camera Company CEO And Chicago City Official Indicted On Corruption Charges

by Timothy Geigner

We've long-argued that red light cameras, those little flashy things that ticket you for going through a stop light, have always been way less about safety and almost entirely about generating revenue for municipalities. And, while we've covered how corrupted the money-flow of these systems can be, you just have to admire the brazenly "Chicago-way" story of how the windy city got into bed with camera peddlers.

The former chief executive officer of Redflex, a major red light camera (RLC) vendor, has been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a contract with the City of Chicago. On Wednesday, in addition to former CEO Karen Finley, government prosecutors also indicted John Bills, former managing deputy commissioner at the Department of Transportation, and Bills' friend Martin O'Malley, who was hired as a contractor by Redflex.
Now, I can tell you as a native of the area that city officials getting indicted on corruption charges along with the company bribers barely registers as news here any longer. Hell, we send governors to prison like it was the official retirement plan for the office. The charges in this indictment, however, are a special brand of sleazy. Redflex sold the city on the cameras, hired O'Malley as a contractor for $2 million dollars, and O'Malley then sent much of that cash directly back to DoT official John Bills, like some kind of monetary boomerang. Redflex then got into the act directly, because why the hell not.
Via Redflex employees, Bills also acquired a Mercedes and a condominium in Arizona. A May 2014 affidavit written by an FBI special agent suggests that Bills likely used some of this money to purchase and store a boat, buy a car, pay for an addition to his Michigan cabin, pay for his girlfriend's mortgage, pay his own mortgage, pay his kids' schools, and hire a divorce attorney over the course of several years.
To be fair to Bills, it costs a lot of money to keep your side-piece living happily while you divorce the mother of your children and update that sweet cabin-pad. Oh, it should also be mentioned that Redflex employees sent Bills on a couple of vacations over half a decade, and by "couple" I mean seventeen. This all adds up to 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, and some additional charges thrown in because screw these guys. And it's not as though these stupid cameras all this corruption paid for actually, you know, worked. The Chicago Tribune's reporting indicates that something like 13,000 bogus tickets were issued to city residents via Redflex cameras, which were dropped in 2013 due in part to this scandal.

But, hey, don't worry, guys. Redflex is all over this problem.
"Last year we announced aggressive leadership changes, industry leading compliance policies and procedures, and a distinction between our past and present," Jody Ryan, a spokeswoman, wrote to Ars. "Redflex Traffic Systems is moving forward. Since we announced these changes we have signed, renewed, or executed over 100 contracts. Redflex has cooperated fully with the investigative authorities while maintaining the integrity of our customer programs. Our focus is on making a life-saving difference in the communities we serve across the country."
Except their cameras don't do any of that and nobody is going to trust anything coming from the company or city officials about the effectiveness of the cameras, either, what with the details on how the Chicago bid was won by Redflex being revealed. It turns out that Bills actually coached Redflex on how to win the bid, rigged the voting order so that members of the evaluation committee Bills had convinced to vote for Redflex would vote first (indicating broad support to other members), and then had the company hire his buddy, O'Malley, as the Chicago account manager for Redflex.

When it comes to Chicago politics, contracts, and the like, this is as Chicago as it gets. However, given that the whole red light camera thing is a money-making scheme to begin with, the whole concept reeks of corruption. Kill these things off now, please.

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22 Aug 13:40

Quotations of the day on socialism….

by Mark J. Perry

…. are from Ludwig von Mises, writing in Human Action.

1. A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.

2. Every socialist is a disguised dictator.

HT: Dennis Gartman

22 Aug 11:49

Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 8/22/14

by Tony Gentilcore

Before we get to this week’s list of Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work I wanted to quickly remind everyone about mine and Dean Somerset’s Excellent Workshop High-Five the weekend of October 18th in Washington, DC.

You may be wondering what the heck is an Excellent Workshop High-Five? Well, for starters we couldn’t just name this shindig “Hey You, Come Hang Out With Us!” or “An American and a Canadian Walk Into a Gym…..

We had to give it some pizzazz.  Hence, the title.

Second, and most important, this is a two-day event, where Dean and I bleed just about everything we know with regards to assessment, program design, coaching, and everything in between.  It’s very much an opportunity to learn from two coaches who have been around the block and who have a TON of coaching experience.  Plus it’s an opportunity to earn some continuing education credits and see what I’m like before and after drinking a Spike.

For more information regarding location, itinerary, accommodations, and price you can go HERE.

Elite Athletic Development Seminar - Mike Robertson & Joe Kenn

There are a handful of coaches where whenever they talk, write, or allude to anything strength and conditioning I’ll drop whatever it is I’m doing and listen and soak up as much information as I can.

Unless I’m getting fed grapes by a Victoria Secret model, then it can wait. But other than that I’m glued.

I have an immense amount of respect for both Mike and Coach Kenn and this seminar series is about as close as you’re going to get to a master class on how to develop freaky athletes as you’re going to get.

The introductory sale of $150 off ends TONIGHT (8/22) at midnight.  In addition everyone who purchases will be able to sit in on a live Q&A with both Mike and Coach Kenn.

What’s more, if you’re a coach or personal trainer the NSCA approved this course for 1.4 CEUs. Holla!

There’s little reason not to jump on the train folks.  Go HERE, and thank me later.

4 Tips You Need to Know For a Bigger Bench Press - Adam Pine

There’s a lot more to building an impressive bench press than you think.  I really enjoyed this article by Adam because he hammers home the importance of the set-up (which is something a lot of trainees never think about).

9 Tips for Dedicated Lifters – Dan John

We should all just shut-up and listen to Dan John.  He’s always right anyway.

2 Bonus Articles From Yours Truly <——- That Be Me

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises For Your Shoulders – this is an article that both myself and Eric contributed to on Stack.com.

So You Think You Can Design a Good Workout? – this is an article I recently wrote for MensHealth.com on the topic of program design where I hit on some quick and easy (and I hope self explanatory) tips to make your programs more effective.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

22 Aug 11:00

Friday Funnies: Boots on the Ground

by Chip Bok