Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Putin blames EU hypocrisy for Catalonia crisis

by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran:

Putin backs Spain against Catalonia and criticises EU for previously backing Kosovo against Serbia

In a wide-ranging speech at Russia’s Valdai forum President Putin of Russia blamed the double-standards the EU has followed for creating the conditions for the crisis in Catalonia.

The situation in Spain clearly shows how fragile stability can be even in a prosperous and established state. Who could have expected, even just recently, that the discussion of the status of Catalonia, which has a long history, would result in an acute political crisis?

Russia’s position here is known. Everything that is happening is an internal matter for Spain and must be settled based on Spanish law in accordance with democratic traditions. We are aware that the country’s leadership is taking steps towards this end.

In the case of Catalonia, we saw the European Union and a number of other states unanimously condemn the supporters of independence.

You know, in this regard, I cannot help but note that more thought should have gone into this earlier. What, no one was aware of these centuries-old disagreements in Europe? They were, were they not? Of course, they were. However, at one point they actually welcomed the disintegration of a number of states in Europe without hiding their joy.

Why were they so unthinking, driven by fleeting political considerations and their desire to please – I will put it bluntly – their big brother in Washington, in providing their unconditional support to the secession of Kosovo, thus provoking similar processes in other regions of Europe and the world?

You may remember that when Crimea also declared its independence, and then – following the referendum – its decision to become part of Russia, this was not welcomed for some reason. Now we have Catalonia. There is a similar issue in another region, Kurdistan. Perhaps this list is far from exhaustive. But we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do? What should we think about it?

It turns out that some of our colleagues think there are ”good“ fighters for independence and freedom and there are ”separatists“ who are not entitled to defend their rights, even with the use of democratic mechanisms.

As we always say in similar cases, such double standards – and this is a vivid example of double standards – pose serious danger to the stable development of Europe and other continents, and to the advancement of integration processes across the world.

(bold italics added)

Putin is making the identical point to the one I made here.  Briefly, the EU supported US action to separate Kosovo from Serbia, and gave its support to the US in the case in the International Court of Justice which resulted in the Advisory Opinion on Kosovo, which says that unilateral declarations of independence even if made contrary to the provisions of a country’s constitution are not contrary to international law.

Given its earlier stance, the EU has no right to say that either the secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent decision to unite with Russia, or Catalonia’s secession bid from Spain today – both of which the EU says it opposes – are contrary to international law.


In passing, and on the specific subject of Crimea, Western writers – though careful to avoid any actual mention of the Advisory Opinion on Kosovo – imply that the cases of Crimea and Kosovo can somehow be distinguished from each other by the Russian military action which they allege preceded and made possible Crimea’s secession, which they refer to as an ‘annexation’ of Crimea by Russia.

This disregards the fact that there were also NATO troops in Kosovo when it unilaterally declared independence (there is in fact a huge US base there), and that those troops gained access to Kosovo after a 78 day bombing campaign which NATO – without prior authorisation from the UN Security Council – waged against Serbia in 1999.

Russian military action in Crimea in 2014 was immeasurably less violent than this, with barely a shot fired.

The reality is that the Advisory Opinion on Kosovo has become a huge embarrassment for the Western powers, which is why Western officials and the Western media never mention it.  I have never for example seen a single allusion to it in any article written about the crises in Crimea, the Donbass or Catalonia in any British broadsheet newspaper ever since each one of those crises started.

Putin by contrast brings it up all the time, as he did for example at length in his speech of 18th March 2014 to the Duma endorsing Crimea’s bid for unification with Russia, and as he has just done, if only indirectly, in the comments he has just made at the Valdai Forum.

On the subject of the crisis in Catalonia itself, Putin’s comments may appear neutral but in reality – reflecting what is unquestionably the not-so-private opinion of the Russian government – they clearly support the position of the Spanish government and oppose that of the Catalan nationalists

Russia’s position here is known. Everything that is happening is an internal matter for Spain and must be settled based on Spanish lawin accordance with democratic traditions. We are aware that the country’s leadership is taking steps towards this end.

(bold italics added)

The comments about the crisis being an “internal matter for Spain” and about the crisis being settled on the basis of Spanish law clearly show that Putin rejects Catalonia’s claim to independent statehood and that he sees the way to a resolution of the crisis through the restoration of legality in Catalonia and not by its secession following an illegal referendum.

Read More @

Merrill Lynch, Protection Rackets and the “P.R. Firm from Hell”


by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, Wall St On Parade:

Last week Jim Rutenberg penned a column for the New York Times titled Facing Down the Network that Produced Harvey Weinstein. Rutenberg explored the reasons that Weinstein’s decades of sexually harassing women and charges of assaults had not made it to the front pages of newspapers sooner. Correctly calling it “something akin to a protection racket,” Rutenberg defined it as a “network of aggressive public relations flacks and lawyers who guard the secrets of those who employ them and keep their misdeeds out of public view.”

That sentence brought to mind a 2009 Rachel Maddow program on MSNBC where she enumerated the ignominious historical milestones of the monster public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, capping the history by calling it the “p.r. firm from hell.” Among her litany of its p.r. projects, Maddow cited: “…when Blackwater killed those 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, they called Burson-Marsteller. When there was a nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, Bobcock & Wilcox, who built that plant, called Burson-Marsteller…The government of Nigeria, accused of genocide in Biafra, Burson- Marsteller. Philip Morris, Burson-Marsteller. Silicone breast implants, Burson-Marsteller. The government of Columbia trying to make all those dead union organizers not getting in the way of the new trade deal, they called Burson-Marsteller.”

One of Burson-Marsteller’s oldest clients is, of course, Merrill Lynch, a company that has been repeatedly charged with tolerating sexual harassment of women over the same four decades that Burson-Marsteller has been shining up its image as bullish on America and vested in the human spirit.

Earlier this month, Harold Burson, a co-founder of Burson-Marsteller who served as its CEO for more than 35 years, published a book on his career, titled The Business of Persuasion. It includes a number of insights into just how cozy the firm’s relationship with Merrill Lynch was. In the book, Burson says “Burson-Marsteller’s professional relationship with Merrill Lynch was near seamless; we collaborated more as a team than as client and agency.” Burson indicates that he personally worked with six consecutive CEOs at Merrill Lynch over that almost four decade period: Don Regan, Roger Birk, William Schreyer, Dan Tully, David Komansky, and Stanley O’Neal. Paul Critchlow, who became the chief public relations officer at Merrill Lynch during that period, went to that spot directly from Burson-Marsteller according to Burson.

In the book, Burson also relates his trusted relationship with Don Regan, a CEO of Merrill Lynch who became U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Reagan and then his Chief of Staff during the President’s period of declining health. Just who was actually running the Reagan administration has been called into question by the video included in Michael Moore’s documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. In the film, Don Regan is standing by the side of the President as Reagan is giving a speech. Regan quietly, but tersely, barks into the President’s ear to “speed it up.” The President seems to understand who is really in charge and does Regan’s bidding without any show of irritation. (See video clip below.)

In Tales from the Boom Boom Room, Susan Antilla’s seminal book on the epidemic of sexual harassment and sexual assaults of women working on Wall Street, she cites studies conducted by psychologist Louise Fitzgerald, an expert on sexual harassment and discrimination of women. Fitzgerald had contacted 915 women who had filed sexual harassment or discrimination claims against Merrill Lynch and received 643 usable responses. Among the respondents, 37 percent said they had “been touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable,” while only 1.7 percent “said that the person about whom they complained was punished.”

Fitzgerald says in the book that the rate of sexual harassment in Wall Street’s brokerage industry “was higher than it was in the military, for God’s sake, and that’s kind of amazing.”

It may be amazing to Fitzgerald, but not to those who have carefully studied the history of Wall Street’s serial sexual predatory behavior. Like the military, there is a heavy handiness about silencing the victim and, if that doesn’t succeed, there’s a private justice system on Wall Street that keeps the severity of decades of claims under wraps. That private justice system is not dissimilar to the military’s tribunals.

Hollywood women have moved the needle now in sharing their stories of sexual assaults and harassment. But it should be noted that one of the former highest ranking women on Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck, a former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management from August 2009 to September 2011, was effectively saying “MeToo” in August of 2016, long before the Weinstein horrors were dominating the news. In a column headlined, I Ran Merrill Lynch, And the Movie “Equity” is Soft on Sexual Harassment on Wall Street, Krawcheck reveals the following personal experiences:

“Having spent my career on Wall Street and having run Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch, I’ve been asked again and again whether the movie is representative of what it was like to work on Wall Street. The answer is no. That’s in part because I lived through worse.

“How do you react when you’re a young banker, hunched over a colleague’s spreadsheet to help him work through a sticky math problem, and there’s another guy behind you pretending to perform a sex act on you?

“How do you react when you arrive at work every morning to find lewd pictures on your desk? Lewd as in: pictures of male nether regions. Photocopies. With all kinds of detail.

“How do you react when your boss (actually, your boss’s boss’s boss) is caught in a sex act with a woman in his office — by another woman he’s having an affair with — just a handful of yards from your desk?”

Read More @



by Geoffrey Grider, Now The End Begins:

“We cannot wish globalism away,” Bush said, noting that the United States must sustain “wise and sustained global engagement” for the future of the country. Bush indirectly accused Trump of fueling dangerous ideologies that threatened the unity of the United States and global stability, spending a large portion of his speech complaining about social ills in the country. 


EDITOR’S NOTE: For 8 long years, as Barack Obama imposed his pro-Islamic, pro-Socialist, pro-LGBT vision on America, George Bush had nothing to say. Ever. He uttered not one word of criticism against the rogue president. But Bush is clearly not extending that same courtesy to President Trump as we see here in today’s speech on why America should endorse globalism. If you’re still not clear which side of the fence George Bush is on, now you know. 

The former president defended the ideas of globalism, free trade, and free markets as well as foreign interventionism around the world in a speech at the George W. Bush Institute.

“We cannot wish globalism away,” Bush said, noting that the United States must sustain “wise and sustained global engagement” for the future of the country.

Bush indirectly accused Trump of fueling dangerous ideologies that threatened the unity of the United States and global stability, spending a large portion of his speech complaining about social ills in the country.


“We’ve seen a return of isolationist sentiments forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places,” he warned.


“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” he lamented.

“Bigotry seems emboldened, our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” he said. “There are some signs that support for democracy itself has waned especially for the young.”

But Bush’s criticism wasn’t merely on Trump’s “America First” political ideology. He also criticized the tone of the American political system led by Trump.

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” he lamented, noting that “argument turns too easily into animosity” and “disagreement escalates into dehumanization.”

He criticized the rise of “bullying and prejudice” in national politics, suggesting that the country lacked positive role models.

Read More @

On a Knife’s Edge: 3 Reasons the Next Crash Could Be Worse than Black Monday


by Peter Schiff, SchiffGold:

Thirty years ago today, the US stock market had its worst single day in history.

On Oct. 19, 1987, now known simply as “Black Monday,” the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 508 points. That represented 22.6{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of its value.

Over the last couple of year, stocks have enjoyed a meteoric rise. The Dow closed above 23,000 for the first time this week. But in recent months, bankers and investors around the world have expressed started expressing concern about the rapidly inflating stock market bubble and its future impact on the world economy. Just last month, Tiger Management co-founder Julian Robertson unequivocally called the US stock market a bubble and blamed it on the Fed’s interventionist monetary policy.

At some point, the soaring market will fall back to earth, and MarketWatch columnist Howard Gold says the next crash may prove worse than Black Monday.

As Gold points out, in the aftermath of the 1987 crash, the recession didn’t officially kick off until 1990. That was nearly three years after Black Monday. As a result, a lot of people dismiss the 1987 crash as a mere blip on the radar. But Gold cites a book by Diana B. Henriques to make the case that Black Monday was more than just one bad day. Henriques argues it was apainful bear market that lasted three months and included a nearly 35{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} drop in the Dow Jones.

In A First-Class Catastrophe: The Road to Black Monday, the Worst Day in Wall Street History, Henriques calls Black Monday a near-systemic crisis that was a precursor for much that came later.

Black Monday was the contagious crisis that the system nearly didn’t survive. All the key fault lines that trembled in 2008 … were first exposed as hazards in 1987.”

Henriques maps out several basic causes behind black Monday, including “breakneck automation, poorly understood financial products fueled by vast amounts of borrowed money, fragmented regulation, [and] gigantic herdlike investors.”

Gold recently interviewed Henriques. She told him that not much has fundamentally changed since 1987. Based on the interview Gold offers three key reasons why the next crash could be even worse than Black Monday.

The market is much more fragmented.

In 1987, the only two major players were the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. As Gold put it, the two chairmen could institute the first “circuit breakers” giving traders “timeouts” in the midst of a sell-off with a mere handshake. Today, the market is much more fragmented with multiple players. The NYSE only handles about 30{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} of all trades today. That compares to 90{5f621241b214ad2ec6cd4f506191303eb2f57539ef282de243c880c2b328a528} in 1987. As Henriques points out, “we’ve got 12 regulated stock exchanges, we’ve got 30 [alternative trading systems] where stocks can trade and [who knows] how many dark pools — members-only trading venues.” She said coordinating everybody in the midst of a meltdown today would be like herding cats.

Regulators live in their own little worlds

Henriques said Dodd-Frank created rigid rules where flexibility was needed. She told Gold, “We’ve moved so far from any realistic approach to market regulation, I don’t know where you would start.” Gold wrote, “The SEC and CFTC are like tugboats passing in the fog, even as financial innovation continues apace. Efforts to rationalize the structure after the financial crisis were killed by Congress’ competing fiefdoms.”

Read More @

As governments begin to create sovereign cryptocurrencies, is the Fedcoin going to be the U.S.’s answer to Bitcoin?

by Kenneth Schortgen, TheDailyEconomist:

Over the past 10 days, two of the largest financial and industrial economies in the world rolled out plans for a sovereign cryptocurrency that could one day soon bring back gold backed money… albeit in digital form.

Yet in addition to both Russia and China publicly revealing their soon to be implementation of the Cryptoruble and Digital Yuan respectively, perhaps the most interesting thing is that both of these nations have either called for, or implemented heavy restrictions and even outright bans on de-centralized cryptocurrencies, ICO’s, and rogue exchanges.

So what does that leave for the West who up until now has only bothered with punitive restrictions on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin?

The answer may lie in a growing trend among Western central banks to create and implement their own digital currencies that would carry the same weight as say dollars and euros, particularly in regards to inter-bank settlement.  And one of these cryptocurrencies that is becoming more likely each day is that of Fedcoin.

The cryptocurrency hype train obviously has no brakes. But could it eventually replace cash in the US? According to the thinking of economists cited by the Bank for International Settlements, it just might. And to the chagrin of the anti-establishment types that fueled bitcoin’s early rise, it will likely be run by the Federal Reserve. 

Alternatives, such as the US dollar and gold bullion, have faded in stature as prices have fallen all year while bitcoin has pushed near $6,000 over the past week. Both China and Russia are exploring the use of blockchain technology to create their own, state-backed cryptocurrencies. A recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch fund manager survey showed “long bitcoin” as one of the most popular trades on Wall Street right now. 

Economist Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research asks the obvious question: Why would central banks—which derive their power as the centralized gatekeepers of fiat currency creation, check clearing and payment processing—embrace a movement that’s primary motivation has been to usurp this power in a decentralized way? 

The BIS­—the central bank of central banks—in its latest quarterly review posited that a crypto backed by the Fed “has the potential to relieve the zero lower bound constraint on monetary policy.” Any distinction between regular dollars and this new “Fedcoin” could be removed by establishing a fixed one-to-one valuation. Any competition from the likes of bitcoin could be squashed by regulation; not unlike how the private ownership of gold was outlawed in the 1930s when it threatened the Fed’s ability to ease credit conditions. – Pitch Book

Read More @

The stage play of Self and the global mystery


by Jon Rappoport, No More Fake News:

Consider that everything happening on planet Earth is an enormous stage play.

The mystery is: what is the theme? What is the payoff? What is the climax?

And even more deeply, what is the role of Self, the individual, in this play?

The key phrase is “in this play.” Because most people are, indeed, inside the play. They have roles. They may not be aware of the parts they’re playing, but that doesn’t change the situation or the dilemma.

How unusual would it be if, in a theater, in a city, citizens were led on to a stage to audition for parts—and the director said, “Well, we want you in this production, but we can’t show you the script. We can’t tell you your role. You’ll just have to feel your way along. Trust us, we know what we’re doing. And by the way, you’ll be playing your part for the rest of your life…”

Self doesn’t want this arrangement. Self wants something else, a way to see what the play is, a way to climb out of it.

Where to start? How to begin? What is the exit strategy?

That strategy depends on imagination. It can’t go anywhere without it.

The long-running Earth stage-play has severe limits. It tries to impose its energy-depleting plot-lines on Self.

But with imagination, a person can conceive of a new play, and create it, and centrally participate in it.

In fact, Self has been waiting for just such an opportunity. The cells of his body and brain, his thoughts, his energies have been waiting.

However, waiting doesn’t do it.

Connecting with one’s own imagination does do it. It initiates a cascade of ideas and emotions, which in turn feed back into imagination, making it even more powerful.

A new stage-play can come into being.

This is why I developed many imagination exercises and techniques for my collection, Exit From The Matrix.

Imagination is the source of possibilities which don’t yet exist, but could.

Imagination makes the as-yet unborn future real.

Imagination doesn’t feel hemmed in by what already exists.

A person, inspired by his own imagination, looks beyond his own present circumstances to inventing a larger future.

Imagination doesn’t ask for lengthy explanations. It just asks for a vision based on the desire for a great adventure.

The present becomes a platform from which to change reality.

Imagination says, “I understand you’re looking for different circumstances, and also looking for a different scope of operation. All that is possible.”

Read More @

‘Psychic Espionage’: An Insider’s View of US Army’s Secret Project StarGate


from Sputnik News:

US Army intelligence officer Major Ed Dames shares his story with Sputnik.

Major Ed Dames was one of five officers trained to monitor and analyze ‘remote viewing’, a technique said to allow users to psychically ‘see’ locations, events or other information from great distances.

The top-secret project, run by the Defense Intelligence Agency, would be dubbed Project StarGate.

The Central Intelligence Agency, to whom Project StarGate was transferred in 1995, canceled it, and declassified files related to some of its aspects in a massive document dump earlier this year

The agency concluded that the program had no hope of being used for operations, although a retrospective evaluation conducted following its closure suggested that there was some evidence of psychic functioning.

In an exclusive interview with Sputnik, Retired Major Ed Dames, one of a handful of Army personnel to receive training in remote viewing, and who would go on to coordinate and run remote viewing teams, revealed that the technology was not only real, but that it was successfully used in operations against the US’s Soviet adversaries, as well as other actors. Assigned to the remote viewing unit in January 1986, Dames worked for the program until December 1989.

Below is Major Dames’ account, featuring only minimal, mostly stylistic and grammar tweaks.

Spying in the Dark Days of the Cold War

Sputnik: Could you give us an overview of your professional career from back in the 1980s and up to the current day, and what activities you are engaged in right now?

Dames: I worked at very high levels of US intelligence – officer secretary of defense at virtually celestial levels as a science and technology officer. My expertise in particular was biological warfare, and I was a targeting officer – I got to choose what targets the US intelligence apparatus would pursue. Most of those were Soviet at the time of the Cold War, of course.

In certain cases, some of the Soviet programs, and to a certain extent the Chinese threat programs were so classified that by hook or by crook we could not penetrate them. I had at my disposal all the tools that intelligence could provide me – satellites, agents on the ground, all kinds of exotic things, but we could not gain access or get insight into some very, very classified programs.

But we had one tool – a remote viewing unit, where operators would use altered states to be able to target the inside of these facilities. They were providing me with intelligence that I could use to cross queue to redirect other systems to gain information. I began to lean on this remote viewing unit, which was an Army unit at the time, and became so enthralled with and interested in it that I stepped down from these high levels to take over as operations and training officer of this unit. That was 33 years ago or so, and I’m still engaged in this kind of work. 

When I retired, I trained a civilian team [of remote viewers], and what we do now in particular is support the FBI, looking for fugitives. I have a personal interest in missing children, and I spend a great deal of time in that pursuit. 

But occasionally I still focus on some scientific targets, ergo the recent report on the origin of the emission of this mysterious ruthenium-106 isotope in Europe – I tracked that down to its emission source and provided [the information] to French and German scientists.

Everything that exists in the universe is a pattern of information, and what we discovered in the laboratory, and what we started to apply, was a method for how the unconscious part of our mind communicates with conscious awareness when we’re targeting a specific person, place, thing or an event. We can hold focus on those things, whereas a psychic can’t do this – they will lose the target and slip all over the place. We have very, very rigid protocols that we use to hold onto a target, and to gain as much descriptive information about it as possible. That’s what I do.

Read More @

China to ‘Compel’ Saudi Arabia to Trade Oil in Yuan – Ending Petrodollar as World Reserve Currency

By Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project:

China, the largest global oil importer, is putting pressure on Saudi Arabia to shun the U.S. dollar and denominate oil sales in Chinese yuan.

This week, a leading economist predicted a major paradigm shift, as Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High Frequency Economics told CNBC that China will “compel” Saudi Arabia to abandon the petrodollar, and instead, begin trading oil in yuan—a move he says is likely to precipitate the rest of the oil market following suit and abandoning the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency.

Weinberg noted that China is poised to clearly dominate the global landscape in terms of oil demand since surpassing the U.S. as the “biggest oil importer on the planet,” adding that Saudi Arabia will “pay attention to this because even as much as one or two years from now, Chinese demand will dwarf U.S. demand.”

“I believe that yuan pricing of oil is coming and as soon as the Saudis move to accept it—as the Chinese will compel them to do—then the rest of the oil market will move along with them,” Weinberg said.

Commensurate with the rise of the U.S. use of the petrodollar as a weaponized financial instrument, numerous states that oppose the dollar holding the status of world reserve currency, have worked to minimize their dependence on dollars in bilateral transactions.

For example, China and Russia have agreed to exclude the dollar, and use the yuan and ruble for bilateral oil trading. Additionally, both states have worked to significantly increase their physical gold reserves in an effort to hedge against a future collapse of the dollar.

In fact, the World Gold Council has reported that the Central Bank of Russia has more than doubled the pace of its gold purchases, bringing its reserves to the highest level since Putin took power 17 years ago, according to Jim Rickards, author of the book “Currency Wars.

Russia’s desire to break away from the hegemony of the U.S. dollar and the dollar payment system is well-known. Over 60 percent of global reserves and 80 percent of global payments are in dollars.

After the failed “reset” in U.S./Russian relations by the Obama administration, and the continued deterioration of the countries’ relationship, Washington began targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy, as well as specific individuals, meant to impose an economic burden so severe that it would force Moscow into compliance.

Instead of decimating Russia, what it precipitated was a Russian response of gradually weaning themselves off of the hegemony of the U.S. petrodollar, and working with China to create an alternative to the SWIFT payment system that is not solely controlled by Western interests (see Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development Bank).

While still suffering from the economic warfare being waged by the U.S., Russia, as well as China have long since realized that as long they are subservient to the petrodollar, there remains a clear and present danger of their respective economies being devastated by the whims of Washington.

The current petrodollar alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia began with a 1974 agreement between U.S. President Richard Nixon and Saudi King Faisal. Since that time Saudi Arabia has denominated all oil exports in US dollars. Since China is now the global leader in oil demand, having to purchase Saudi oil in U.S. dollars is becoming increasingly irritating to Beijing.

In fact, in recent years, China has sought to increase pressure on Saudi Arabia over being forced to transact in dollars, by purchasing less oil from the Saudis.

Read More @

Fact: Your Chances of Surviving a Post-Collapse Urban Environment are Slim


by Jeremiah Johnson, Ready Nutrition:

ReadyNutrition Readers, Simply put, urban survival will be quite a bit different from survival in a remote wilderness area or even a sparsely-populated suburban area.  Let’s game some options, remembering that these options are general.  These actions aren’t specific to the type of breakdown of society (external by an attack from a foreign nation, or internal from economic collapse, for examples).

So, we have our collapse.  Let us “X” out a nuclear war/nuclear terrorist attack, as we can deal with all the other scenarios in variables without radiation to contend with.  Let’s identify the largest challenges faced for that high-rise apartment resident in Manhattan, or the family in the brownstone on the South side of Chicago.  First, let’s game the scenario:

After “The Day,” the city was almost completely without power.  You and your wife and two children were not able to leave town.  All mass transit was halted or discontinued.  It has been three days, and your family has been listening to static on the radio for the most part, with “campy” pre-recorded disaster broadcasts that have not been helpful or informative.  One of your neighbors left this morning after saying goodbye: he and his family had a boat, and they were heading out of the harbor, hoping to use one of the major rivers to make an escape.

They didn’t have room to take you or yours, but you wanted to stay put and not follow your neighbor’s idea: that there were plenty of boats whose owners were not going to use them…probably dead following the rioting and civil breakdown.  You’re beginning to think you should have listened to him.  Now you can hear angry voices outside, and you go to the window.  A mob has gathered at the top of your street!  They’re armed with rifles, bats, axes, machetes…and there are about 500 of them.  As you watch, they’re making a move toward the first house on the opposite side of the street.  Your house is less than half a block away.  There are no more cops, no more laws, no more order, and no help will be coming…on The Day After Doomsday.

Sounds pretty bleak, huh?  That’s because it is unless you keep a cool head about you and stay in focus.  Here are your primary tasks, and in this order:

  1. Defense: without a clear plan and the means to execute that plan, you’re going to have problems.
  2. Secure Domicile: in itself a part of the defense, as if you live in an easily-entered structure, you’re going to need to fortify it and have a security system and a guard/lookout schedule.
  3. Food and Water: always critical.  We touched on some of this in the last segment with water.  You should have at least a one-year supply for each member of your family of nonperishable food.
  4. Medical supplies and equipment: This entails the ability to perform first aid, to perform long-term supportive measures, and both short and long-term definitive care for special needs members of the family.
  5. Cohesion: your family needs to function akin to a well-oiled machine, as best it can.  Faith will be a key element: in God, in one another, and in what you are doing.  The inner discipline for each family member and for the group as a whole are key to enabling success for you and ensuring your survival.

Now let’s talk about what you’ll be facing, keeping in mind we already did not specify what type of disaster caused the end of it all.  A nuclear war will have radiation and probably foreign invaders at some point.  An asteroid impact will have traumatic weather catastrophes and cataclysmic effects all over.  What we are focusing on here is a city that is (for all intents and purposes) physically “intact” but is no longer functioning…its infrastructure is crippled, the social order is defunct, and chaos is the word for the day.  What are you facing?  Here are some of the challenges:

  1. Complete lack of food outside of your supplies: akin to a swarm of locusts, people will descend upon the grocery stores, convenience stores, dollar and discount stores, and big box stores…until the stores are no more…looting everything and anything they can grab.  Happened in New Orleans, I’m here to tell you…and it’ll happen again.  Dogs, cats, birds, and anything else that crawls, walks, flies, or runs…will be eaten.  All of this within the first week to two weeks.
  2. Cannibalism: when the disaster strikes, there will be a lot of people who will actively hunt other humans for food.  For those smiling naysayers, you may wish to read about the Donner Party, the Andes aircraft crash, and numerous other accounts of such things.  You can take it to the bank that it will happen again…and the “Drive By” also becomes the “Drive Thru.”
  3. Disease: it is a well-known fact that dead bodies, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of clean running water and working sewers will all contribute to diseases.  Typhus, E. coli, and plague will all return…diseases that are not a threat will quickly become out of control after the SHTF.
  4. Bad Guys:  Lots and lots of bad guys (and gals, not to leave you out of the loop!) doing really bad things and trying to do more bad…to you and yours.  We’re going to do a piece just on this, so I’m not going to burn out all my fire at once.  Suffice to say there will be gangs and small packs of “opportunistic entrepreneurs” out roaming the streets of your town…and they’re not looking to sell you on “Amway.”  They’ll take what they can…including your life.

So, what to do?  Well, here’s the first step to defeating all these factors:

Have a plan, and work that plan until it takes effect, and get out of town!

You’ll need to train, game out the scenarios, and work on your preps if you must hunker down.  The best thing to do is get out of the city or town.  In a high-rise apartment building, you’re going to be very limited in what you can take out of there effectively if the vehicles are not working and the electricity is out.  It’s hard to carry hundreds of pounds of gear and supplies down a dark staircase fifty stories and then escape a city in ruins or turmoil.  The odds are against it.  The key is to have a place…a safe place with supplies that you can reach…and when the time is right, get out of that city.

It will be important to form teams, within your own family, and potentially including others who live near you of a like mind.  Here’s a rule to follow:

No “free rides,” any allies outside of the family must have their own supplies and be self-sustaining to be a legitimate ally.

You must trust them implicitly: A real trust, not the BS handshaking of men and the hugging of women once a week at a card party or barbeque.  No, a real trust based on knowing them well, and for as long a time as possible.  You don’t want to undertake an endeavor, and then end up at the rendezvous point, and having them kill you and take your supplies.  Gasp!  Ohh!  Perish the thought, right?

Wrong: Know that human nature means in a disaster a “switch” can be flipped at any time and those you thought were your allies are now attackers.

You’re going to have to get together with your family and the other family or two who are on your “team” and figure a way to exfiltrate out of the city with as many supplies as you can carry.  Most of the gangs will be looking for easy pickings, therefore if you present a unified defensive posture…everyone knowing their functions and carrying their weapons and moving as a unit…this will dissuade them.  Wolves usually prey on the young, the weak, the old, and the sick first.  Men are no different.  They would prefer a bunch of fatsos sitting around in their living room with their supplies than a group of families that has their “S” together and can defend themselves.

Read More @

The productivity myth


by Alasdair Macleod, GoldMoney:

Every now and then, there’s a rash of commentary on national productivity. And for the British, productivity is all part of the Brexit angst, with the OECD, the Treasury, the Bank of England and Remainers all saying the average Brit’s poor productivity just goes to show how much they need the certain comfort of being in the EU. As Hilaire Belloc put it, we must hold on to nurse, for fear of something worse.

Only this week, the OECD came out with a paper repeating its disproved nonsense about the economic consequences of Brexit, even recommending Britain should hold a second referendum to reverse the Brexit decision. To back up its analysis it claimed Britain’s labour productivity is at a standstill, while that of France, Germany the United States and the OECD averages are all improving.i

Regular readers of my articles will know I have no truck with statist statistics, averages and the neo-Keynesian analysis that goes with them. The econometricians’ analysis of productivity is a prime example of why statistics derived from questionable information should be disregarded entirely, as I will show. You can prove anything with statistics, except the truth. The OECD, which is the source of the productivity statistics quoted by politicians, uses statistics not in a genuine search for the truth, but as a cheerleader for statism. Being based in Paris this institution is particularly sympathetic to the basic concepts of European statism. It’s a wonder they tolerate private enterprise at all.

This is the organisation that brings official statistical analysis of economics, while being funded entirely by self-interested governments. However, on the face of it, productivity should be uncontentious, and hard to criticise. GDP divided by the number of hours worked is simple. How can it be misleading? Read on.

The OECD’s approach to productivity

The OECD’s brief paper, Defining and measuring productivity, quotes Paul Krugman:

Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise output per worker.ii

Krugman implies in this quote that productivity is a function of government and therefore by implication not that of the employer. This is plainly in contravention of the facts: an employee only produces if he or she is employed by an employer for profit. It is up to the employer to make that decision, not government. That the OECD quotes Krugman confirms the OECD’s economics are in line with his thinking.

From here, the statistical errors commence, starting with the relevance of GDP. GDP is designed to capture final consumption, and underplays the production of goods of a higher order, for example machinery, by not recording the intermediate steps in production. This important point was recently recognised in the US by the introduction of a new statistic, gross output (GO).

GO is now reported quarterly by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and it is nearly double the GDP number. Therefore, in the US, GDP per hour worked is roughly half the realistic measure of total production. GO confirms that using GDP in a productivity formula is outrageously misleading. But the OECD does not estimate GO, and it should be noted that different countries have varying degrees of intermediate production, which makes it impossible to compare them on a like-for-like basis anyway.

We can also expose the concept of labour productivity as baloney in our daily affairs. For example, if you are in retailing, you may judge your sales staff to be productive, because they produce sales. But most of the foot-fall into your store probably has nothing to do with the salesman’s skills. The window-dresser may or may not have contributed, and are the cleaners and accountants productive, along with the warehouse staff and the van drivers who deliver to the store? Taken individually, they are a cost, difficult or impossible to relate to final sales, which makes up GDP. This is why running a business is about teams of people with complementary inputs, and to record the production of individuals in GDP terms is nonsensical.

In a free market economy, arbitrage tends to even out returns on capital employed across the full range of businesses, of which labour is only a part. In addition to labour, there is capital investment in the establishment, plus equipment and working capital. Taking all these elements together, if one business line stands out in its profitability, it will attract competition. If another business line produces insufficient return, it will be closed and its capital redeployed. After all, all forms of capital are scarce, and therefore a valued commodity to be deployed properly.

When capital is not redistributed to better effect, it is nearly always because the state intervenes. The state doesn’t want businesses to lay off workers who are part of a failed production line. Instead, the state obstructs the redistribution of capital by subsidising the uncompetitive businessman. Government also penalises profitable businesses by sequestering profits.

Furthermore, different industries deploy their capital in different ways, so within the total the contribution from human effort varies considerably. A mechanic on an automated production line supervising expensive robots cannot be averaged with a park attendant.

The government’s own GDP contribution must be excluded from any productivity calculation, as it is a drain on genuine production.

The problem with statistics such as productivity is that everyone thinks they mean something. And, of course, the political class, including finance ministers, stand for nothing and fall for anything. That notwithstanding, let us ignore the fact that this econometric gem is only paste, and recast the figures into something more meaningful. Something that a businessman will find useful as a basis for comparison in the quest for the best jurisdiction to establish his business. Something that will guide him about whether he should relocate from Britain to mainland Europe.

Read More @