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Assange, Attack, Guardian, Journalism

Assange, Attack, Guardian, Journalism

Piet Mondriaan Self portrait 1918

Guardian columnist Owen Jones, a self-described left activist and socialist, was attacked in the streets of London at 2 am Saturday morning in what he himself describes as “a blatant premeditated assault” by a bunch of guys. He says he was kicked, punched, but then saved by the friends he was with, and nothing really happened to him. Or he would have taken photos and published them. Owen was fine, before and after. But his pride was not.

No pictures of black eyes or anything, but a brick load of indignation. No matter that in Britain, people are attacked all the time, certainly at that hour, in bar fights, in knife fights, people die every weekend. But for some reason Owen Jones thinks his role in this is special. That the incident happened because of his political views, and because the far right is getting more aggressive.

From Jones’s own Guardian:

Owen Jones Attacked Outside London Pub

The Guardian columnist and activist Owen Jones has been physically assaulted in London while celebrating his 35th birthday with friends. In an attack he called “a blatant premeditated assault”, Jones said he was kicked, punched and thrown to the ground by a group of men in the early hours of Saturday morning. He said that he and his friends went to a pub and left at 3am. 

“We were about 30 metres away, saying goodbye to each other, when four men charged directly towards me: one of them karate kicked my back, threw me to the ground, started kicking me in the head and back, while my friends tried to drag them off, and were punched trying to defend me. “It was clearly a premeditated attack and I was their target. They all attacked me and only assaulted my friends when they tried to defend me.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Mark Carney Thinks The Dollar Can No Longer Be The World’s Reserve Currency

Why Mark Carney Thinks The Dollar Can No Longer Be The World’s Reserve Currency

While Jerome Powell’s highly anticipated Jackson Hole speech was, in the words of Brean Capital’s Russ Certo “underwhelming and anti-climatic”, one couldn’t say the same for the shocking luncheon speech by Bank of England’s outgoing governor, Mark Carney, titled “The Growing Challenges for Monetary Policy in the current International Monetary and Financial System“, where he dedicated no less than 23 pages to a stunning – for a central banker – cause: to describe why the dollar’s  “destabilizing” reserve status role in the world economy has to end, and why central banks need to join together to create their own replacement reserve currency, one potentially tied to Facebook’s new “stablecoin” Libra, although in reality any “Synthetic Hegemonic Currency” as Carney defined it would do.

But first, a quick tangent: the reason we say Carney’s speech was shocking is not for what it proposes – after all, we have long argued that a world in which the dollar’s reserve currency status would be stripped away by the establishment and granted to some alternative – whether gold, or a basket of currencies like the IMF’s SDR, or a cryptocurrency like bitcoin – is coming in posts such as:

 The argument behind all these articles is simple and two-fold: i) in a fiat world, one can only devalue relative to some other currency, yet we have now reached a point where (as Pimco suggested two years ago when it said the Fed should buy gold to devalue the dollar against it) every currency needs to devalue relative to some hard index outside of the monetary system…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Corporate Debt Is At Risk Of A Flash Crash

Corporate Debt Is At Risk Of A Flash Crash

The world is awash in debt.

While some countries are more indebted than others, very few are in good shape.

The entire world is roughly 225% leveraged to its economic output. Emerging markets are a bit less and advanced economies a little more.

But regardless, everyone’s “real” debt is likely much bigger, since the official totals miss a lot of unfunded liabilities and other obligations.

Debt is an asset owned by the lender. It has a price, which—like anything else—can go up or down. The main variable is the lender’s confidence in repayment, which is always uncertain.

But there are degrees of uncertainty. That’s why (perceived) riskier debt has higher interest rates than (perceived) safer debt. The way to win is to have better insight into the borrower’s ability to repay those loans.

If a lender owns debt in which his confidence is low, but you believe has value, you can probably buy it cheaply. If you’re right, you’ll make a profit—possibly a big one.

That is exactly what happens in a recession.

Investment-Grade Zombies

While it’s easy to point fingers at profligate consumers, households largely spent the last decade reducing their debt.

The bigger expansion has been in government and business. Let’s zoom in on corporate debt.

The US investment-grade bond universe is considerably more leveraged than it was ahead of the last recession:

Source: Gluskin Sheff

Compared to earnings, US bond issuers are about 50% more leveraged now than in 2007. In other words, they’ve grown debt faster than profits.

Many borrowed cash not to grow the business, but to buy back shares. It’s been, as my friend David Rosenberg calls it, a giant debt-for-equity swap.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Responds To Trump’s “Barbaric” Tariffs: Vows To Fight “Until The End” And Have “The Last Laugh”

China Responds To Trump’s “Barbaric” Tariffs: Vows To Fight “Until The End” And Have “The Last Laugh”

After Friday’s blitz of reciprocal trade war escalations, which saw a furious Trump slam the two “enemies of the state”, Fed Chair Powell and China president Xi, following China’s widely expected tariff hike retaliation and Powell’s uneventful Jackson Hole speech, and further raise tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports after stocks suffered another major selloff, we said that the next steps were clear.


And now China has to retaliate and so on


Sure enough, in response China said it would continue fighting the trade war with the US “until the end” as tit-for-tat escalation is now virtually assured with no end in sight.

On Saturday, China’s commerce ministry issued a statement calling on Washington not to “misjudge the situation and underestimate the determination of Chinese people” after US President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese imports.

“The US should immediately stop its wrong action, or it will have to bear all consequences,” the statement said.

At the same time, a sharply worded commentary in the official party mouthpiece, People’s Daily, said China had the strength to continue the dispute and accused Washington of sacrificing the interests of its own people. Published under the pseudonym “Wuyuehe”, the piece described the latest tariff measures by the US as “barbaric”. The op-ed said China’s own tariffs on $75 billion worth of American products, announced late on Friday, were a response to America’s unilateral escalation of the trade conflict, and vowed that China was determined to fight back “until the end”.

“China’s will to defend the core interests of the country and the fundamental interests of the people is indestructible, and will not fear any challenge,” the author wrote, promising that “history will prove that the side on the path of fairness and justice will have the last laugh.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Krugman and the Goldbugs

Krugman and the Goldbugs

The announcement that President Trump would nominate Judy Shelton, a long-time advocate of the gold standard, for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors got Paul Krugman thinking: why do some economic commentators become goldbugs?

Krugman offers a rather cynical view. It is difficult “to build a successful career as a mainstream economist,” he writes.

Parroting orthodox views definitely won’t do it; you have to be technically proficient, and to have a really good career you must be seen as making important new contributions — innovative ways to think about economic issues and/or innovative ways to bring data to bear on those issues. And the truth is that not many people can pull this off: it requires a combination of deep knowledge of previous research and the ability to think differently. 

So what’s an aspiring if not so smart or creative economist to do?

“Heterodoxy,” Krugman writes, “can itself be a careerist move.”

Everyone loves the idea of brave, independent thinkers whose brilliant insights are rejected by a hidebound establishment, only to be vindicated in the end. And such people do exist, in economics as in other fields.… But the sad truth is that the great majority of people who reject mainstream economics do so because they don’t understand it; and a fair number of these people don’t understand it because their salary depends on their not understanding it.

In other words, Krugman suggests most gold standard advocates are either ignorant or disingenuous — and, in some cases, both.

According to Krugman, “events of the past dozen years have only reinforced that consensus” view that “a return to the gold standard would be a bad idea.” 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Negative Interest Rates Screw Up the Economy

How Negative Interest Rates Screw Up the Economy

Now they’re clamoring for this NIRP absurdity in the US. How will this end?

Now there is talk everywhere that the United States too will descend into negative interest rates. And there are people on Wall Street and in the media that are hyping this absurd condition where government bonds and perhaps even corporate bonds, and eventually even junk bonds have negative yields. All of that NIRP absurdity is already the case in Europe and Japan.

There is now about $17 trillion – trillion with a T – in negative yielding debt in the world, government and corporate debt combined.

This started out as a short-term emergency experiment. And now this short-term emergency experiment has become the new normal. And now more short-term emergency experiments need to be added to it, because, you know, the first batches weren’t big enough and haven’t worked, or have stopped working, or more realistically, have screwed things up so badly that nothing works anymore.

So how will this end?

The ECB rumor mill over the past two weeks hyped the possibility of a shock-and-awe stimulus package, on top of the shock-and-awe stimulus packages the ECB has already implemented, namely negative interest rates, liquidity facilities, and QE.

The entire German government bond market, even 30-year bonds have negative yields. And the German economy shrank in the last quarter. That gives Germany two out of the last four quarters where its economy shrank – despite negative interest rates from the ECB and despite the negative yields on its government bonds, and despite the negative yields among many corporate bonds.

In other words, the German economy, the fourth largest in the world, is hitting the skids despite or because of negative yields. And now the ECB wants to flex its muscles to get yields to become even more negative.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beijing Enraged After US Navy Ship Sails Through Taiwan Strait

Beijing Enraged After US Navy Ship Sails Through Taiwan Strait

With the 70th anniversary of the founding of the CPC looming, and Beijing staking out a more aggressive trade stance Friday morning by threatening retaliatory tariffs, the US picked the best – or worst – time to provoke Beijing, when a Navy ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in the Navy’s latest “freedom of navigation” operation, or ‘freeop’ on Friday.

As CNA points out, Washington has actually increased its antagonistic operations in the Taiwan Strait as tensions with Beijing have soared this year, and Friday’s mission risks stoking tensions even further, as Beijing has warned international powers not to interfere in its relationship with Taiwan, or risk provoking Beijing’s wrath.

Yet interfering is precisely what the US has done, and earlier this month, Beijing denounced the sale of $2.2 billion in weapons to Taiwan by the US. Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province.

Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said the operation in the 111-mile wide waterway separating Taiwan from China “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Mommsen identified the ship as the Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock ship, hinting at a possible marine transport to the controversial island. Typically, these missions are carried out using destroyer-class ships.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the island’s military had a full grasp of the situation in the Strait and closely monitored it.Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan, but the US is bound by law to help defend the island nation should it be attacked. The US is also its primary source of arms.

Iranian Tanker Showdown Heads To Turkey

Iranian Tanker Showdown Heads To Turkey

The Iranian tanker which had been detained for the past five weeks in Gilbraltar has suddenly switched its ship data to show it is headed to a Turkish port, instead of arriving at waters off southern Greece, as previously planned. 

Reuters has cited real-time ship tracking website MarineTraffic to show the change in the Adrian Darya’s (formerly called Grace 1) destination. This after the US State Department threatened that should Greece provide any aid or facilities to the vessel carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil, it would be tantamount to “material support to terrorism”. 

The Unites States says the tanker is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and thus deems any state’s interaction with it support of a formally designated terrorist group. There’s still an active US seizure warrant for the vessel. 

The Adrian Darya (formerly called Grace 1) supertanker’s destination is now southern Turkey. File image.

While the vessel never planned to actually enter a Greek port, listed as the port of Kalamata — especially given the overladen supertanker sits too low in the water — it’s been widely reported that a ship-to-ship transfer of the oil was to occur off its southern coast. 

A US Statement Department statement issued Monday had warned Greece’s help could be considered “providing material support to a US-designated foreign terrorist organization” — this according to a State Department official who spoke to Reuters.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In Unprecedented, Shocking Proposal, BOE’s Mark Carney Urges Replacing Dollar With Libra-Like Reserve Currency

In Unprecedented, Shocking Proposal, BOE’s Mark Carney Urges Replacing Dollar With Libra-Like Reserve Currency

After Jerome Powell’s neutral-to-slightly-dovish-but-mostly-boring speech on Friday morning, investors could be forgiven for suspecting that this year’s Fed-sponsored gathering in Jackson Hole might be disappointingly dull (especially with all that’s going on in Trump’s twitter feed, the escalating trade war and escalating geopolitical unrest).

Then along came former Goldman banker and current (outgoing) BOE governor, Mark Carney, who in his lunchtime address laid out a shocking, radical proposal – perhaps the most stunning thing to ever be unveiled at Jackson Hole – urging to replace the US Dollar with a “Libra-like” reserve currency in a dramatic revamp of the global monetary, financial and economic order.

While it was unclear if Carney was focusing on Libra as the new reserve currency, or simply was hoping to find something against which the dollar could be devalued, the proposal was clearly shocking as it suggests that the central bank quiet acceptance of cryptocurrencies (especially in Japan) has been what many have speculated all along: a “currency” against which fiat money can be devalued in hopes of sparking fiat hyperinflation that inflates away record amounts of fiat debt.

Of course, such a new system would bring about the end of US hegemony, and effectively end the dollar-based global financial system, dramatically scaling back the US’s influence in the global economy, and making rising powers like China and Russia critical players an increasingly multipolar world…. especially if they propose a gold-backed dollar alternative to the world. That this would quickly emerge as the new reserve currency – together with whatever stablecoin/crypto central bankers deign to be the dollar’s replacement – goes without saying.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Officials Confirm Israel Behind Unprecedented Airstrikes On Iraq

US Officials Confirm Israel Behind Unprecedented Airstrikes On Iraq

In an unprecedented escalation which could reshape alliances in the Middle East, American officials have confirmed that Israel was behind an airstrike on an Iraqi ammunition depot operated by a pro-Iran militia last month, according to The Associated Press:

Two American officials said Israel carried out an attack on an Iranian weapons depot in July that killed two Iranian military commanders. The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

The admission comes after two more mystery explosions rocked paramilitary bases in and around Baghdad within the last two weeks, resulting in multiple paramilitary members killed, at least one civilian death, and dozens of injured, and which prompted Iraq’s Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi to close the country’s airspace to all “unauthorized flights”.

Aftermath of the recent ‘mystery explosion’ at a military base southwest of Baghdad, Iraq. Image source: AP

Baghdad has threatened “strong response” if it is confirmed Israeli drones or jets are behind the attacks, and further the military is ready to shoot down any unauthorized aircraft over Iraqi soil. 

Amid the spate of ‘mystery explosions’ recently rocking the Iraqi capital, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday of this week actually seemed to positively boast that the Israeli Air Force was behind airstrikes on pro-Iran militia bases in Iraq, saying that Israel will “continue to act militarily” to curtail Iranian expansion in the region, according to The Times of Israel.

“Iran has no immunity, anywhere,” he told reporters while on a state visit to Kiev early this week. He was responding to a specific question about the mystery attacks on Iraq. “We will act — and currently are acting — against them, wherever it is necessary,” he declared.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Real Reasons Why The Media Is Suddenly Admitting To The Recession Threat

The Real Reasons Why The Media Is Suddenly Admitting To The Recession Threat

One thing that is important to understand about the mainstream media is that they do tell the truth on occasion. However, the truths they admit to are almost always wrapped in lies or told to the public far too late to make the information useful.   Dissecting mainstream media information and sifting out the truth from the propaganda is really the bulk of what the alternative media does (or should be doing).  In the past couple of weeks I have received a rush of emails asking about the sudden flood of recession and economic crash talk in the media.  Does this abrupt 180 degree turn by the MSM (and global banks) on the economy warrant concern?  Yes, it does.

The first inclination of a portion of the liberty movement will be to assume that mainstream reports of imminent economic crisis are merely an attempt to tarnish the image of the Trump Administration, and that the talk of recession is “overblown”.  This is partially true; Trump is meant to act as scapegoat, but this is not the big picture.  The fact is, the pattern the media is following today matches almost exactly with the pattern they followed leading up to the credit crash of 2008.  Make no mistake, a financial crash is indeed happening RIGHT NOW, just as it did after media warnings in 2007/2008, and the reasons why the MSM is admitting to it today are calculated.

Before we get to that, we should examine how the media reacted during the lead up to the crash of 2008.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Awaken From The Matrix Using Self-Enquiry

How To Awaken From The Matrix Using Self-Enquiry

I talk about the power of self-enquiry a fair bit in my musings about enlightenment and human consciousness, so I thought it might be good to tap out a simple how-to on the subject in case anyone finds it useful.

Self-enquiry, or self-inquiry, is a practice popularized in the west by the circulation of nondualist teachings from the renowned Indian sages Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. It requires no faith in any teacher, teaching or tradition, nor even in the practice itself. Self-enquiry is a method for inquiring for yourself into your own nature and discovering in your own firsthand experience what lies at the end of that investigation.

Most of our suffering and confusion (which is what the propagandists I write about rely upon to manipulate us into believing establishment narratives) stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the way our experience is actually happening. Partly due to culture, partly due to language, and partly due to the fact that we begin life as helpless little things at the mercy of an often terrifying world, we develop mistaken notions about ourselves, about our minds, and about the world, and we form conditioning patterns around those mistaken notions. Self-enquiry works to correct those fundamental errors and habits of perception, which allows for the possibility of a serene mind and an efficacious way of functioning.

Self-enquiry is a practice that you can engage in all day, every day, to whatever extent that you’ve got attention at your disposal for the endeavor. You can do it at work, while driving, while eating, in the shower, whenever. There are many different approaches to the practice, but here’s the way I’ve found useful, broken down into its five distinct steps. If it speaks to you, bookmark it and refer to it as often as you find useful:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More Wildfires Are Burning In Angola & Congo Than Brazil

More Wildfires Are Burning In Angola & Congo Than Brazil 

Thanks to a concerted effort by American social media ‘influencers’, everybody and their grandmother is now aware of the fact that wildfires – many of which were allegedly started illegally by farmers seeking to clear out more land for farming or pasture – are tearing through the Amazon.

What many don’t realize is that the wildfires in the ‘lungs of the Earth’ – as French President Emmanuel Macron described the Amazon – actually aren’t that uncommon. In fact, they’re a natural part of the rainforest’s process of self-restoration. In total, this year, fires are up by 83% compared with last year.

And while the rest of the world uses the fires as an excuse to slam Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his environmental policies (some have accused him of tacitly condoning the farmers who set the fires), Bloomberg reports that Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, citing data from the MODIS satellite analyzed by Weather Source.

Weather Source recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil.

Like in the Amazon and in California, wildfires aren’t all that uncommon in Central Africa.

As for the total number of active wildfires, they’re also nowhere near some of the highs recorded in recent years. According to NASA, more than 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, most of which were started by farmers.

Over the past two days, roughly 16,500 wildfires were recorded in the top 10 countries.

Actually, as far as wildfires go, 2019 isn’t out of the ordinary in any meaningful sense.

But we’re sure the Instagram influencer set will soon clarify all of this in a series of sponsored posts putting the Amazon wildfires in context…right?

Debunking ‘Lower Oil Supply Will Raise Prices’

Debunking ‘Lower Oil Supply Will Raise Prices’

We often hear the statement, “When oil supply is lower, oil prices will rise because of scarcity.” Now, we are getting to see firsthand whether oil prices really do rise, as oil supplies become more scarce.

Figure 1. Figure from the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report for August 2019 showing world and OPEC oil production by month.

Figure 1 shows that world oil supply hit a peak in November 2018 and has declined since then, mostly because of a decline in OPEC’s production. So, total oil production seems to be down for about eight months, relative to the peak in November 2018.

Despite this big cutback by OPEC in its oil production, prices have not responded as OPEC had hoped:

Figure 2. Average monthly spot Brent Oil prices, based on EIA data.

In fact, as I write this, Brent oil price is currently quoted as $60.48, which is back in the range of December 2018 and January 2019 low prices. Also, reducing production doesn’t seem to be reducing inventories. Figure 3 suggests that they are now higher than they were before the reduction in oil supply took place.

Figure 3. Figure from the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report for August 2019 showing OECD commercial oil stocks.

Why aren’t oil prices rising and oil inventories falling, if oil production has fallen?

The basic issue is that the economy is very much interconnected under the laws of physics, because energy is required for every activity that is considered part of GDP. Energy is required for any kind of heat or any kind of movement. Energy is even required for electricity. Without energy from the sun, food can’t grow; without supplemental energy of some kind (such as using electricity to heat an electric stove or burning animal dung or sticks), it becomes impossible to cook food or smelt metals.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Slams China’s Escalating Oil & Gas ‘Interference’ In Vietnam Recognized Waters

US Slams China’s Escalating Oil & Gas ‘Interference’ In Vietnam Recognized Waters

Late this week, the US State Department accused China of escalating its coercive actions against Vietnam in the South China Sea. 

A spokesman said the US is “deeply concerned” China is continuing its interference with Vietnam’s longstanding oil and gas activities in the Vietnamese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claim.

“This calls into serious question China’s commitment, including in the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes,” the statement said

Military officers of the Vietnamese Navy’s Second Regional Command signalling territorial claims. Source: Viet Nam News

This week the National Interest described in detail the worsening situation in a piece aptly titled South China Sea Showdown: China vs. Vietnam (Round 2).

The report described a Chinese survey vessel dispatched inside the Vietnam claimed EEZ accompanied by Chinese Coast Guard military vessels:

The Haiyang Dizhi 8, a survey vessel belonging to a Chinese government-run corporation, began surveying a large swath of seabed on 3 July northeast of Vanguard Bank, which falls within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. The ship has been escorted by other vessels, including from the China Coast Guard and maritime militia. At the same time, China Coast Guard ships have been harassing Vietnamese drilling operations to the south.

Western analysts see Beijing’s expansion in regional waters as part of a broader campaign of natural resource exploitation, with the ultimate goal of forcing rival countries into ‘joint exploration’ partnerships, even in undisputed waters. 

According to the report, the current crisis is the most serious tensions have been between China and US ally Vietnam in years

Chinese incursions into Vietnam’s EEZ are by no means a new phenomenon. The most serious recent incident occurred in 2014, when China deployed an oil rig into Vietnam’s EEZ, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the two neighbors. The current situation near Vanguard Bank, however, represents a more serious challenge on several levels.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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