by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 11:40 pm
“We’ve got to face it. Politics have entered a new stage, the television stage. Instead of long-winded public debates, the people want capsule slogans—‘Time for a change’—‘The mess in Washington’—‘More bang for a buck’—punch lines and glamour.”— A Face in the Crowd (1957)
It is a heavily scripted, tightly choreographed, star-studded, ratings-driven, mass-marketed, costly exercise in how to sell a product—in this case, a presidential candidate—to dazzled consumers who will choose image over substance almost every time.
This year’s presidential election, much like every other election in recent years, is what historian Daniel Boorstin referred to as a “pseudo-event”: manufactured, contrived, confected and devoid of any intrinsic value save the value of being advertised. It is the end result of a culture that is moving away from substance toward sensationalism in an era of mass media.
As author Noam Chomsky rightly observed, “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.” In other words, we’re being sold a carefully crafted product by a monied elite who are masters in the art of making the public believe that they need exactly what is being sold to them, whether it’s the latest high-tech gadget, the hottest toy, or the most charismatic politician.
Tune into a political convention and you will find yourself being sucked into an alternate reality so glossy, star-studded, emotionally charged and entertaining as to make you forget that you live in a police state. The elaborate stage show, the costumes, the actors, the screenplay, the lighting, the music, the drama: all carefully calibrated to appeal to the public’s need for bread and circuses, diversion and entertainment, and pomp and circumstance.
Politics is a reality show, America’s favorite form of entertainment, dominated by money and profit, imagery and spin, hype and personality and guaranteed to ensure that nothing in the way of real truth reaches the populace.
After all, who cares about police shootings, drone killings, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture schemes, private prisons, school-to-prison pipelines, overcriminalization, censorship or any of the other evils that plague our nation when you can listen to the croonings of Paul Simon, laugh along
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 11:25 pm
Update: Well that didn’t last long…
Livesquawk: Japan Ministry of Finance say it is not true they are considering 50yr bonds – debunking earlier WSJ story --Rtrs
Who could have seen that denial coming?
Has the BOJ denied the trial balloon yet
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) July 27, 2016
* * *
USDJPY just spiked back over 106.00 after headlines suggesting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe will unveil new stimulus as soon as today. News reports on 27t yen fiscal stimulus and issuance of 50-year bond, both spur yen selling, says David Lu, HK-based director at NBC Financial Markets Asia. We suspect there will be some disappointment after the algos are finished as FNN reports the package will include 13t yen of low-interest loans (so a smaller helicopter than expected) and besides, it’s not like the Japanese are suffering from rates being too high.
Abe wil speak today at 0400GMT – no confirmation yet as to whether the stimulus will be the topic.
As one analyst noted, it appears Abe pre-announced the stimulus package. It looks like psuedo debt monetization is on the way, if as expected, the BoJ will buy these ‘low interest loans’. But of course, direct debt monetization will never be admitted to… or will it?
The question is – will this be it? Or is this to strawman the size once again to see if the market (for that is all that matters) will be satiated by Abe’s promises.
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 11:16 pm
The mainstream media alleges that Russia was behind the hack of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The media is parading out
the usual suspects alleged experts to back up this claim.
Washington’s Blog asked the highest-level NSA whistleblower in history, William Binney – the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, who managed six thousand NSA employees, the 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency and the NSA’s best-ever analyst and code-breaker, who mapped out the Soviet command-and-control structure before anyone else knew how, and so predicted Soviet invasions before they happened (“in the 1970s, he decrypted the Soviet Union’s command system, which provided the US and its allies with real-time surveillance of all Soviet troop movements and Russian atomic weapons”) – what he thinks of such claims:
Edward Snowden says the NSA could easily determine who hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails:
But mainstream media say it couldn’t: http://www.businessinsider.com/dnc-hack-russian-government-2016-7
The mainstream media is also trumpeting the meme that Russia was behind the hack, because it wants to help Trump get elected. In other words, the media is trying to deflect how damaging the email leaks are to Clinton’s character by trying to somehow associate Trump with Putin.
Snowden is right and the MSM is clueless. Here’s what I said to Ray McGovern and VIPS with a little humor at the end. [McGovern is a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials. McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (“VIPS” for short).]
Ray, I am suspicious that they may have looked for known hacking code (used by Russians). And, I’m sure they were one probably of many to hack her stuff. But, does that mean that they checked to see if others also hacked in?
Further, do they have evidence that the Russians downloaded and later forwarded those emails to wikileaks? Seems to me that they need to answer those questions to be
FelonsVotesMatter (To Hillary) – Clinton’s Election Fate In Virginia Lies With 200,000 Unregistered Offenders
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 11:10 pm
Reminding us once again that nothing is off limits to the Clintons when it comes to winning elections, Politico earlier today wrote about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) efforts to register 200,000 ex-felons to vote in November. For reference, 200,000 is over 5% of the 3.8mm people who voted in the Presidential race in 2012 and is larger than Obama’s margin of victory over Mitt Romney of 149,298.
Taking a play from Obama’s playbook, McAuliffe signed a sweeping executive order it April 2016 granting 206,000 felons in Virgina, who had completed their sentence, the right to vote. We previously wrote about this order here. Hillary Clinton, a long-time friend of Governor McAuliffe, was quick to express her approval of the executive order over twitter:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 22, 2016
That said, Virginia’s Supreme Court recently reversed McAuliffe’s executive order asserting that he had overstepped his authority to grant a blanket restoration of voting rights to all felons simultaneously. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that McAuliffe could only restore voting rights to each felon individually, a task that he vowed to start right away. We have no doubt that Governor McAuliffe’s office will spend every resource necessary to, in fact, accomplish that goal.
We have written about McAuliffe multiple times over the past couple of months including here and here. That said, we’ve included below a brief summary of his checkered history and deep connection with the Clinton family.
McAuliffe is a long-time Clinton confidant currently embrioled in a federal investigation surrounding certain questionable contributions from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang. As CNN recently reported:
McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity unit [that] are thrusting him back into the spotlight. U.S. officials briefed on the probe say the investigation dates to at least last year and has focused, at least in part, on whether donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated the law, the officials said.
Authorities are looking into $120,000 in donations Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang gave to McAuliffe through his American business.
Foreign nationals are
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 10:40 pm
In a landmark decision, a Florida judge dismissed charges of money laundering against a Bitcoin seller on Monday following expert testimony showing state law did not apply to the cryptocurrency.
Michell Espinoza was charged with three felony charges related to money laundering in 2014, but what appears to have helped to clear him of any and all wrongdoing was testimony given just a few weeks ago by an economics professor.
“This is the most fascinating thing I’ve heard in this courtroom in a long time,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler said after hearing Barry University professor Charles Evans present evidence during a May hearing that Bitcoin was more akin to“poker chips that people are willing to buy from you,” according to theMiami Herald.
Evans was given $3,000 in Bitcoin by defense attorneys for sharing his expertise, the newspaper reported.
Judge Pooler found the cryptocurrency, which is based on verified encrypted transactions that are recorded on a public ledger, did not constitute “tangible wealth” and“cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars,” reported the Herald.
Pooler added that Bitcoin was not codified by government, nor backed by any bank.
“The court is not an expert in economics, however, it is very clear, even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, the Bitcoin has a long way to go before it the equivalent of money,” Pooler wrote in her decision.
“This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning,” she added.
Espinoza, 33, was charged after undercover detectives bought $1,500 worth of Bitcoin from him, claiming they would use the currency to purchase stolen credit card numbers. However, Judge Pooler found the Florida law prosecutors based their case upon to be too “vague.”
Another man, Pascal Reid, was arrested in tandem with Espinoza. Reid took an early plea deal, pleading guilty to acting as an unlicensed money broker. The deal required him to serve a probation sentence and educate law enforcement on the
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 10:08 pm
One month ago, when Wikileaks’ Julian Assange told ITV’s Richard Peston that he would publish “enough evidence” to indict Hillary Clinton, few took him seriously. And while Hillary has not been indicted – yet – last Friday’s leak has already managed to wreak havoc and has led to revelations of cronyism and collusion within the Democratic party and the media, the resignation of the DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, as well as chaos on the first day of the Democratic convention.
Hence, why we believe Assange will be taken more seriously this time.
Earlier today, Assange told CNN that Wikileaks might release “a lot more material” relevant to the US electoral campaign. Assange spoke to CNN following the release of nearly 20,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails.
The topic then turned to the topic du jour: “did Putin do it”?
Assange refused to confirm or deny a Russian origin for the mass email leak, saying Wikileaks tries to create ambiguity to protect all its sources.
“Perhaps one day the source or sources will step forward and that might be an interesting moment some people may have egg on their faces. But to exclude certain actors is to make it easier to find out who our sources are,” Assange told CNN.
The Kremlin has rejected allegations its behind the hacking, calling suggestions it ordered the release of the emails to influence US politics the “usual fun and games” of the US election campaigns, while the Russian foreign minister had an even simpler reaction to the same question: “I don’t want to use four-letter words.” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, added, “This is not really good for bilateral relations.”
All of this now appears to be irrelevant, and as we speculated earlier, the “anti-Russia” narrative is now in motion and moments ago Obama said that it’s ‘possible’ Putin is trying to sway vote for Trump.
Which brings us to the next point: speaking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he faces extradition over sexual assault allegations, Assange told CNN that Democratic Party officials were using the specter of Russian involvement to distract from the content of the emails, which have had tumultuous affect on the party at the start of its national convention, where
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 9:40 pm
Alt-Market’s Brandon Smith points out an interesting synopsis video by Melissa Dykes on the ever growing weirdness that is our world in 2016.
Make no mistake, Smith reminds, humanity is being put into a state of constant vertigo; a psychological daze meant to keep us completely distracted from the reality that our cultural collapse is by design and serves the interests of a select elitist minority. Think things are strange now? They are about to get far worse in the coming months, I guarantee it…
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 9:10 pm
Donald Trump is erratic. We all know that. It is insulting to assert, in the words of Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, the erratic Boris Johnson, that he is «frankly unfit to hold the office of President of the United States», but he’s certainly unpredictable and says some things that are, to put it mildly, intriguing. The fact remains that he could be next president of the United States, which makes it important to look at what he might do if that comes about, especially in the light of America’s military catastrophes so far this century.
Obama followed his predecessors in expanding America’s iron fist as self-appointed global policeman. He vastly increased the US military presence around the world and intensified the Pentagon’s aggressive confrontations with China and Russia.
In China’s case this was effected by sending US Naval E-P3 electronic surveillance aircraft on missions close to the mainland, deploying EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to Clark Air Base in the Philippines, ordering B-52 nuclear bombers to overfly the South China Sea where the US Navy also carried out extended manoeuvres by massive strike groups of nuclear-armed aircraft carriers and guided missile cruisers. All this in a region where the US has not the slightest territorial interest or claim. China’s Sea is 12,000 kilometres, 7,000 miles, from the American mainland, yet Washington considers it the sacred right and duty of the United States to act as a global gendarme and give orders to China about its posture in its own back yard, where there has not been one instance of interference with commercial shipping passing through that region.
As to confrontation with Russia, the US has ensured that its Brussels sub-office, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, will go on playing its toy-soldier games right up to Russia’s borders. The official statement after NATO’s war drum-thumping conclave in Warsaw on July 8-9 is indicative of its determination to continue its attempts to menace Russia, which has not made the slightest move to threaten a single NATO member. It is absurd to claim that «the security situation has deteriorated» in the Black Sea and the Baltic because of Russian action.
These regions would be perfectly calm if it were not for constant provocations by US-NATO warships and combat and
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 8:40 pm
When Chinese authorities took over the day-to-day management and support of their collapsing stock market in August 2015, it was not just volume that died.
From over 110, short-term volatility in China’s major stock market – Shanghai Composite – has collapsed to single-digits this week. This is among the least volatile period in the index’s history, despite increased uncertainty around stimulus and economic transition.
China’s $6.2 trillion equity market was until recently best known for its violent price swings.
But, as Bloomberg reports, such wildness is past, with a gauge of volatility on the Shanghai Composite Index approaching the lowest level since 1992.
This complacency is happening despite a stock rebound that is faltering as improving economic data damp speculation for more stimulus, while the memory of last year’s boom-bust deters investors from betting on sustained gains.
We suspect this episode will not end well, as almost half of the Shanghai Composite Index’s members are flashing sell signals, up from 5 percent two weeks ago, moving average convergence-divergence data show.
The last time the proportion of bearish signs was this high in April, a 9 percent drop followed.
by Zero Hedge - July 26th, 2016 8:15 pm
Does it make a difference if our models of energy and the economy are overly simple? I would argue that it depends on what we plan to use the models for. If all we want to do is determine approximately how many years in the future energy supplies will turn down, then a simple model is perfectly sufficient. But if we want to determine how we might change the current economy to make it hold up better against the forces it is facing, we need a more complex model that explains the economy’s real problems as we reach limits. We need a model that tells the correct shape of the curve, as well as the approximate timing. I suggest reading my recent post regarding complexity and its effects as background for this post.
The common lay interpretation of simple models is that running out of energy supplies can be expected to be our overwhelming problem in the future. A more complete model suggests that our problems as we approach limits are likely to be quite different: growing wealth disparity, inability to maintain complex infrastructure, and growing debt problems. Energy supplies that look easy to extract will not, in fact, be available because prices will not rise high enough. These problems can be expected to change the shape of the curve of future energy consumption to one with a fairly fast decline, such as the Seneca Cliff.
Figure 1. Seneca Cliff by Ugo Bardi. This curve is based on writings in the 1st century C.E. by Lucius Anneaus Seneca, “It would be of some consolation for the feebleness of our selves and our works if all things should perish as slowly as they come into being; but as it is, increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid.”
It is not intuitive, but complexity-related issues create a situation in which economies need to grow, or they will collapse. See my post, The Physics of Energy and the Economy. The popular idea that we extract 50% of a resource before peak, and 50% after peak will be found not to be true–much of the second 50% will stay in the ground.
Some readers may be interested in a new