Monday, January 27, 2020

The Swedish Government Is Warning Citizens to Be Prepared for at Least a Week Without Help

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by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:

The Swedish government is warning its citizens to be prepared to survive on their own for at least a week,  which is unusual advice for Sweden to dispense. Is there trouble on the horizon?

Shortly before Christmas, the Swedish government quietly published a paper called “Resilience.” Initially, the requirement had been for people to be prepared for 3 days without help, but it seems like that was a baby step. The government itself wants to be prepared for a 3-month long civil emergency and they’re urging citizens. to take responsibility, too.

It really makes you wonder what is looming ahead, doesn’t it?

A publication called SVT reported today:

“Because we have the security policy situation we have today, we say that we will make our planning at government level to face a security crisis for three months,” says Eva-Lena Fjällström, Deputy Director of the County Administrative Board in Västerbotten.

Previously, it has been said that citizens will be able to cope for three days in the event of a crisis. Now it’s extended to one week.

“I think it’s important that you can manage yourself. Society has changed and is vulnerable and complex with many dependencies. It can easily be a disturbance so we have to manage ourselves, “says Eva-Lena Fjällström. (source)

The same publication provided video instructions for putting together a “crisis box.”

The Swedish government is also urging young people to get better prepared.

It’s also interesting to note that back in November, an article introducing the idea of preparedness was published and geared toward 18-year-olds. (One must also wonder if this is a gentle nudge toward a potential draft?) It referenced a study done to measure the preparedness levels of the country’s young people.

“In order to strengthen Swedish emergency preparedness, it is important that as many people as possible be prepared to cope with themselves during a crisis. Therefore, it is gratifying that almost nine out of ten 18-year-olds believe that they should take responsibility for themselves and their relatives in a crisis, “says Nils Svartz, Deputy Director General at MSB.

Nevertheless, the survey shows that many young people are not prepared for a crisis. Only one in three has water for three days and even fewer have prepared to communicate and receive important information from the radio if the electricity is lost. (source)

Some Swedes will see this as a different way of life.

The YouTube channel Swedish Homestead (find it here) recently released a video that discussed the national government’s warning for Swedes to be prepared to handle life for at least a week without the help of the government. According to the vlogger, this is not the norm there and the government is “the Big Brother who handles everything.”

There were mentions of “war” and “crisis” but it appears that not many details were given as to the exact nature of the threat.

Many people in Sweden would be incredibly vulnerable in a situation in which they were forced to be independent. Plus, an influx of migrants has to have put a further strain on resources. Nearly 20% of the population has immigrated from another country – 1.7 million people in Sweden are foreign-born in a country with a population of 9.9 million.

Sweden isn’t alone in unpreparedness

But wouldn’t we see the same types of issues described in the video here in America? How many Americans could go for weeks or months with the food they had on hand and the food they could produce? How many Americans make their land work for them? How many Americans have the skills to actually produce food for themselves and procure safe drinking water?

Read More @ TheOrganicPrepper.ca

Pakistan Says the US Is No Longer Its Ally — and It’s a Much Bigger Deal Than You Think

by Darius Shahtahmasebi, The Anti Media:

Donald Trump’s decision to ring in the New Year by simultaneously demonizing both Iran and Pakistan on Twitter has already backfired tremendously. Following threats that the U.S. would withhold aid to Pakistan, the U.S. confirmed it would withhold $255 million in aid (which has now become $900 million) and is now reportedly threatening a roughly $2 billion more, as well.

“We’re hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment,” a State Department official told reporters.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this recent animosity towards Pakistan has not gone over well. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said in an interview that the U.S. has failed to behave as an ally, and as a result, Pakistan no longer views it as one.

If anything, Washington’s recent behavior has only pushed Pakistan into the open arms of America’s traditional rivals, China and Iran. China has long been providing financial and economic assistance of its own to Pakistan with plans to expand an economic partnership in the years to come.

China has already pledged to invest $57 billion in Pakistani infrastructure as part of the so-called “Belt and Road” initiative. Just last month, Pakistan announced it was considering a proposal to replace the U.S. dollar with the Chinese yuan for bilateral trade between Pakistan and China.

Following the Trump administration’s recent attacks on Pakistan, Pakistan confirmed that dropping the dollar was no arbitrary threat and immediately replaced the dollar with the Chinese yuan.

“Chinese investment in Pakistan is expected to reach over $46 billion by 2030 with the creation of a [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] connecting Balochistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar, in Western China,” Harrison Akins, a researcher at the Howard Baker Center who focuses on Pakistan and China, told Newsweek.

In the middle of last year, it was reported that China was considering establishing its own naval bases in Pakistan. These reports began to immediately resurface again in the past week, though Pakistan has vehemently denied that any such naval base will be built (even though Chinese military officials were the ones to expose the plan to build a naval base at Gwadar Port, in Balochistan).

Whether or not the reports are true, what is becoming apparent is that Pakistan will look to cooperate with China both economically and militarily while giving up its reliance on Washington.

“The history of Pakistan’s relationships with China and the United States also shows that Pakistan’s policy does not respond to strong-handedness, but to loyalty, and to being treated with dignity,” Madiha Afzal, a nonresident fellow at Brookings, said as reported by CNBC.

Further, according to the Times of Islamabad, Iranian and Pakistani defense ministers have held talks on Washington’s role in the region and have indicated a growing defense cooperation strategy between Tehran and Islamabad. Even before Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally try to isolate the two countries, the expanding relationship was already well underway – most likely the more truthful reason the Trump administration has targeted both of them.

Much to Washington’s dismay, this is only the beginning of the end of America’s role as an unchallenged global superpower. The Asia Times reports that Iran, China, and Pakistan are set to launch a “trilateral nexus” that would support economic development for as many as 3 billion people. The biggest obstacle to implementing such an economically viable nexus would actually lie in the growing economic power India, not the United States, which seems to be able to do little but taunt, threaten, and bully the ever-growing list of defiant states.

Without hesitation, Turkey, another country that is forging stronger ties with Russia, China, and Iran, also came to Iran and Pakistan’s aid. Turkey is a NATO ally.

“We cannot accept that some countries — foremost the US, Israel — to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran and Pakistan,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters before heading on a scheduled trip to France.

Read More @ TheAntiMedia.com

Protecting the Belt and Road Initiative From US-Led Terrorism: Will China Send Troops to Syria?

by Federico PierAccini, Strategic Culture:

An interesting theme concerning Syria is the involvement of the People’s Republic of China in the conflict. While China’s diplomatic and economic assistance has been constant, its military contribution to Syria is less known. It is important for China and Russia to contain and defeat the terrorist phenomenon in the Middle East, as well as to defang the strategists in the US deep state who are unceasing in their efforts to employ jihadism as a weapon to destabilize Eurasia’s integration projects.

The Jihad International, under the economic and strategic guidance of the United States, has recruited tens of thousands of terrorists over the years and sent them to Syria. Among these, a significant number come from the Uighur ethnic group, situated in the autonomous Chinese province of Xinjiang, particularly from the city of Kashgar, geographically located in the extreme west and close to the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The employment of ethnic and religious minorities to destabilize the majority of a given population has been an ancient artifice repeatedly relied upon by great powers. We thus remember how radical Islam was used in Chechnya to strike the Russian Federation at its “soft underbelly” in the south-west of the country. Two wars and repeated terrorist attacks show the area has yet to be fully pacified. The Wahhabis, a Sunni (anti-) Islamic minority, have shown themselves to be the perfect spark to ignite the tensions between Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle Eastern region and beyond. The case of the Uighur Islamist extremists in Xinjiang is no exception, and the Chinese central government is well aware of the potential danger from an internal uprising or targeted sabotage in the region. Not surprisingly, there has been a tightening of security measures in the region, with exercises against terrorist attacks and riots carried out by police and paramilitary groups. Beijing does not underestimate the danger posed by populations susceptible to foreign manipulation.

While the economic support for Uyghur Islamist separatists more likely derives from Turkey than Saudi Arabia (for historical reasons), it is worth highlighting the highly proactive attitude of China in addressing the issue. As well as beefing up internal security and having a policy of zero tolerance towards such extremist ideologies, Beijing has since 2011 been contributing economically and diplomatically to the Syrian war against the jihadists.

Official estimates place about 5,000 Chinese Uyghur terrorists in Syria, and Beijing’s strategy has reflected the one already implemented in the Russian Federation. Rather than waiting for highly trained killers to return home, it is better to confront the danger in a foreign land, thereby gaining a strategic and tactical advantage over those financing and manipulating terror, which is to say the American deep state and its military and security apparatus.

Thus far, there has been a continuous support of the Syrian government coming from Beijing, both economic and diplomatic. However, rumour over the last few weeks has it that Chinese special forces and war veterans will be deployed to Syria to eliminate the Islamist threat breathing down on China’s western border.

As always, when Beijing decides to move, it does so under the radar, with extreme caution, especially militarily. Chinese military strategists intend not only to act pre-emptively against internal destabilization, but to also respond asymmetrically to American involvement in the South China Sea and other areas lying within the China’s sphere of influence. The insertion of Chinese troops into the Middle East (albeit in limited numbers) would signal an epochal change in the region, a change that was instigated by the Saudi-Israeli-American trio in an effort to employ controlled chaos through Islamist terrorism but which is proving to be a chaos that they are incapable of controlling.

Preventing the spread of terrorism in Asia, and more generally in Eurasia, is understandably an important goal for Russia and China, especially in view of ambitious infrastructure projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Much of the success of this project will depend on how well the Chinese government and its partners (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey in particular) will be able to prevent destabilization through the fanning of ethnic and religious tensions along the route of the BRI, such as in Pakistan.

China’s foray into Syria will involve a few special-forces units, namely: the Shenyang Military Region Special Forces Unit, known as the “Siberian Tigers”; and the Lanzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit, known as the “Night Tigers”. These units will have responsibilities for advising, training and conducting reconnaissance. Similar to the Russian engagement in Syria, Chinese involvement will remain as hidden and limited as possible. The Chinese goal, unlike the Russian one, concerns the gaining of urban-warfare experience, in addition to hunting jihadists, and more generally, to test Chinese military readiness in war conditions, experience of which is lacking in Beijing’s recent experience.

China’s involvement in Syria is less obvious than that of the Russian Federation. The strategic objectives of the Chinese vary greatly from that of the Russians, especially vis-a-vis the Russian ability to project forces a long way from home.

Read More @ Strategic-Culture.org

Failure of War Party Foreign Policy

from BATR:

The continuous foreign policy failures of the entrenched establishment goes back well over a century. Notwithstanding, the missed opportunity with the collapse of the Soviet Communism has emboldened the war party of the American Empire to become the main existential threat not only to our own country, but to much of the rest of the world. The militarists who chant “Thank You for your Service” are actually committed to expand the Wounded Warrior dupes, who are expendable. The United States never learned the lessons of Viet Nam. Volunteering to fight in unnecessary foreign adventures has caused more gratuitous suffering than any improvised explosive device that blows off limbs.

The IED that is lost is equivalent to Intelligent Essential Defense. Each successive generation loses a greater degree of insight from the last when it comes to understanding the real reasons why the military complex follows orders from the foreign policy betrayers. These FP experts hate the essence of America, while they bolster a global empire that most of the world despises.

Greg Hunter features the analysis of the $21 Trillion Missing – U.S. Government a Criminal Enterprise – Catherine Austin Fitts. Former Assistant Secretary of Housing Catherine Austin Fitts has been widely published on this matter, but for the general public, few have ever heard of the enormous extent of the fraud committed by the war party.

“The new report was put together by Dr. Mark Skidmore at Michigan State University, and it is a detailed year-by-year study of DOD and HUD budgets between 1998 and 2015. The missing money is called “undocumentable adjustments,” but that may just be a polite name for theft, fraud and crime against “We the People.”  Fitts contends, “Here’s the critical issue because technology is leading us through tremendous change, and the people who get their hands on this technology and are able to subsidize the cost of capital are the ones that are going to win.  They have done that by basically hijacking the federal credit and using it to help centralize power under them.  So, we have to reverse that, and the Constitution is the tool to hold them accountable.  All their arguments just fall down when you realize they have just stolen an enormous amount of money from the federal government outside the law. . . . The U.S. Federal government doesn’t have information sovereignty, and it doesn’t have financial sovereignty.  So, we have to return it to that, and we have to keep that mechanism open long enough to get this money back.”

Seldom does the significance of this systematic theft register with an apathetic public. If a citizen outcry cannot be generated to stop the carnage, why would anyone think a national outrage would ignite over an amount of money that is virtually incomprehensible?

Year after year and decade after decade, the thrust of the foreign legions stationed around the globe just keeps the phony Pax Americana deployment growing. Those of us who were hopeful that a Donald Trump’s foreign policy would actually reverse this permanent burden are gravely disappointed.

Ilana Mercer makes her usual insightful observation in HOW TRUMP NORMALIZED NEOCONSERVATISM.

“It’s quite acceptable, on the left and the pseudo-right, to casually quip about troops in Niger and Norway. “We have soldiers in Niger and Norway? Of course we do. We need them.”

With neoconservatism normalized, there is no debate, disagreement or daylight between our dangerously united political factions.

This is the gift President Trump has given mainstream neoconservatives – who now comfortably include neoliberals and all Conservatism Inc., with the exceptions of Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson”.

For a more contumelious assessment, the incomparable non-interventionist, Mike Scheuer’s letter to President Trump warns of impending disaster on the African Continent.

 “It is best that you get the easily solved problems of Ukraine, Iran,  Afghanistan, and Pakistan out of the way. Thereafter, Sir, prepare yourself to resist the intense pressure from Necons, Globalists, Israel-Firsters, Congress, the generals, and much of the media that will be loosed on you when the Islamists’ African campaign gathers pace and the usual war-mongering subjects in the United States slither out from under their rocks begin to clamor for a war to “liberate Africa”.

As you buckle on your armor for that fight, Mr. President, you should always remember, that non-interventionism is a concept dearly beloved by non-elite Americans, working men and women who see no reason to spend their taxes and children’s lives on always fractious foreigners who hate the United States but love its money. Tax cuts are swelling, Mr. President, but non-killed soldier-children are endlessly better. Those same people, Sir, also recall that you sold yourself to them as the champion of a non-interventionism, and can only believe that, to date, you have been close to an utter sham on that score. Words to the wise”.

Even the most partisan Trump Nation supporter must face the reality that The Donald has buckled under to the swamp war monster.

All the reams of paper used for covering the ins and outs of specific foreign policy forecasting are not even fit to wrap fish in. If people were really serious about making the world safe for human life, they would not waste their time debating which sect is wearing a white hat for today and which tribe is the latest bandit to eviscerate by reaper remote control.

Those missing trillions fund black programs and slush stashes that keep the disgraceful expenditures running a war machine 24/7. Of course much of the high cost of palatial houses and exorbitant incomes that pay for the DC private gated lifestyle comes from the munitions used in the killing fields.

In this gilded cage of predatory extermination, the drone culture brags of having surgical precision that reduces collateral damage. Sheltering combatants from the up front and personal blood and guts of death is important to desensitize the public from the actual consequences of warfare. Substituting the skills at playing a video game does not make a warrior. Yet, the architects of the militarist machinery are every bit as much a war criminal as Albert Spears.

Foreign policy is always based upon a threat of force. Force can take an understructure of forms to achieve the intimidation required that can avoid or limit the actual destruction. The history of disinformation, deception and dirty tricks are not reserved exclusively to the intelligence community. For the supreme illusion, look no further than the foreign policy elites. At the offset, most diplomats and their administrative staffers seldom serve the true national security interests of our country.

There are no more blue blood establishment cronies than those who think of themselves as the shapers of global hegemony. What this collection of internationalists view as success, dooms America to another chapter of humiliation and danger. According to Paul Craig Roberts, Iran is the latest example.  

“Today Washington is again at work against the Iranian people. It is difficult to believe that any Iranian, after watching what Washington-organized protests have done to Honduras, Libya, Ukraine, and Syria, have attempted to do to Iran in 2009, and is attempting to do today to Venezuela, could possibly in good faith go out into the streets against t
heir own government. Are these Iranian protesters utterly stupid or are they hired to commit treason against their country?”

Just maybe, American citizens should ask themselves do they truly believe their government is acting in their best interest and why are they NOT taking to the streets to hold the foreign policy cartel accountable for their un-American policies?

Read More @ BATR.org

Party While You Can – Central Bank Ready To Pop The ‘Everything’ Bubble

by Brandon Smith, Alt Market:

Many people do not realize that America is not only entering a new year, but within the next month we will also be entering a new economic era. In early February, Janet Yellen is set to leave the Federal Reserve and be replaced by the new Fed chair nominee, Jerome Powell. Now, to be clear, the Fed chair along with the bank governors do not set central bank policy. Policy for most central banks around the world is dictated in Switzerland by the Bank for International Settlements. Fed chairmen like Janet Yellen are mere mascots implementing policy initiatives as ordered.  This is why we are now seeing supposedly separate central banking institutions around the world acting in unison, first with stimulus, then with fiscal tightening.

However, it is important to note that each new Fed chair does tend to signal a new shift in action for the central bank. For example, Alan Greenspan oversaw the low interest rate easy money phase of the Fed, which created the conditions for the derivatives and credit bubble and subsequent crash in 2008. Ben Bernanke oversaw the stimulus and bailout phase, flooding the markets with massive amounts of fiat and engineering an even larger bubble in stocks, bonds and just about every other asset except perhaps some select commodities. Janet Yellen managed the tapering phase, in which stimulus has been carefully and systematically diminished while still maintaining delusional stock market euphoria.

Now comes the era of Jerome Powell, who will oversee the last stages of fiscal tightening, the reduction of the Fed balance sheet, faster rate increases and the final implosion of the ‘everything’ bubble.

As I warned before Trump won the election in 2016, a Trump presidency would inevitably be followed by economic crisis, and this would be facilitated by the Federal Reserve pulling the plug on fiat life support measures which kept the illusion of recovery going for the past several years. It is important to note that the mainstream media is consistently referring to Jerome Powell as “Trump’s candidate” for the Fed, or “Trump’s pick” (as if the president really has much of a choice in the roster of candidates for the Fed chair). The public is being subtly conditioned to view Powell as if he is an extension of the Trump administration.

This could not be further from the truth. Powell and the Fed are autonomous from government. As Alan Greenspan openly admitted years ago, the Fed does not answer to the government and can act independently without oversight. So, why is the media insisting on misrepresenting Powell as some kind of Trump agent? Because Trump, and by extension all the conservatives that support him, are meant to take the blame when the ‘everything’ bubble vaporizes our financial structure. Jerome Powell is “Trump’s guy” at the Fed; so any actions Powell takes to crush the recovery narrative will also be blamed on the Trump administration.

But, is it a certainty that Powell will put the final nail in the coffin of “economic recovery?” Yes. Last Friday the Fed finally released the transcripts of its monetary policy meetings in 2012, and in those transcripts are some interesting admissions from Powell himself. After reading these transcripts I am fully convinced that Powell is the man who will stand as the figurehead of the central bank during the final phase of U.S. decline.

Here are some of the most astonishing quotes by Powell from those transcripts along with my commentary. These quotes are yet another piece of evidence that vindicates my position on the Fed as an economic saboteur and my position on the historic market bubble the bank has created:

Powell: “I have concerns about more purchases. As others have pointed out, the dealer community is now assuming close to a $4 trillion balance sheet and purchases through the first quarter of 2014. I admit that is a much stronger reaction than I anticipated, and I am uncomfortable with it for a couple of reasons.

First, the question, why stop at $4 trillion? The market in most cases will cheer us for doing more. It will never be enough for the market. Our models will always tell us that we are helping the economy, and I will probably always feel that those benefits are overestimated. And we will be able to tell ourselves that market function is not impaired and that inflation expectations are under control. What is to stop us, other than much faster economic growth, which it is probably not in our power to produce?”

Assessment: By all indications the Fed did do more, MUCH more. Including QE3, various stimulus packages and incessantly low interest rates for years, the Fed has essentially stepped in every time stock markets in particular were about to crash back to their natural state of decline. Powell is being rather honest in his estimation here that these stopgaps are in fact temporary and that the Fed cannot produce true economic growth to support the market optimism they have created through their interventions. He is stating openly that markets will only remain optimistic so long as they are assured that the Fed will continue to intervene.

This is probably why it took almost six years before these transcripts were released.

Powell: “When it is time for us to sell, or even to stop buying, the response could be quite strong; there is every reason to expect a strong response. So there are a couple of ways to look at it. It is about $1.2 trillion in sales; you take 60 months, you get about $20 billion a month. That is a very doable thing, it sounds like, in a market where the norm by the middle of next year is $80 billion a month. Another way to look at it, though, is that it’s not so much the sale, the duration; it’s also unloading our short volatility position.”

Assessment: And here we have Powell’s shocking admission, clarifying his previous point — the “strong response” that Powell is referring to is a market reversal, or bubble implosion. He even admits the existence of the Fed’s “short position on volatility.” This explains the strange behavior of the VIX index, which has plunged to record lows as “someone” continually shorts VIX stocks in order to interfere with any decline in markets.

This interference in the VIX has conjured an aberration, a market calm and investor confidence that is artificial. Such overconfidence, when optimism turns into mania, has happened before. In fact, the end of the Greenspan era was awash in such exuberance. And this delusion always ends the same way — with crisis.

I would also like to mention here that I have seen some disinformation being planted on Powell’s statements in 2012, asserting that he was “not talking about stock markets” specifically. Obviously he is, as you will see in other parts of his statement, but to reinforce the point, here is a quote from another Fed member who spilled the beans, Richard Fisher:

“What the Fed did — and I was part of that group — is we front-loaded a tremendous market rally, starting in 2009.

It’s sort of what I call the “reverse
Whimpy factor” — give me two hamburgers today for one tomorrow.”

Fisher went on to hint at his very reserved view of the impending danger:

“I was warning my colleagues, Don’t go wobbly if we have a 10 to 20 percent correction at some point… Everybody you talk to… has been warning that these markets are heavily priced.” [In reference to interest rate hikes]

So, what happens when the Fed stops shorting volatility and ends the easy money being pumped into markets? Well, again, I think Powell and Fisher have just told you what will happen, but let’s continue.

Read More @ Alt-Market.com

Sex criminals revealed on a large scale

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by Jon Rappoport, No More Fake News:

We are seeing some exposure of sexual predators. But there are very large cases already out in the open.

And the press carries out its prime directive: cover the issue BUT don’t follow up, don’t reveal the stunning implications.

Here are just three examples of many—

LA Times, 10/27/11: “The addresses for more than 1,000 state-licensed care facilities for vulnerable people in California matched addresses on the state sex offender registry, according to a newly released audit.”

What?? How were 1000 registered sex offenders allowed to attach themselves to care facilities, or even worse, organize the facilities? And are we supposed to believe these 1000 occurrences were independent of each other? Or were they the result of an overall plan? No press follow-up.

“State Auditor Elaine M. Howle said the California Department of Social Services failed to check the sex offender registry even after her office advised it to do so in 2008.”

“The facilities matching the registry of sex offenders included foster homes, group homes and day-care facilities for children, as well as facilities for adults with special needs and the elderly.”

“Investigations are now complete and the state said eight licenses have been revoked or suspended and regulators issued 31 orders barring individuals from licensed facilities.”

What?? A thousand registered sex offenders are connected to care-facilities, but only 39 actions have been taken? Again, no press follow-up.

CBS News, May 5, 2014: “The Vatican revealed Tuesday that over the past decade, it has defrocked 848 priests who raped or molested children and sanctioned another 2,572 with lesser penalties, providing the first ever breakdown of how it handled the more than 3,400 cases of abuse reported to the Holy See since 2004.”

“The Vatican’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, released the figures during a second day of grilling by a U.N. committee monitoring implementation of the U.N. treaty against torture.”

“Only in 2010 did the Vatican explicitly tell bishops and superiors to also report credible cases to police where local reporting laws require them to.”

What?? “Where reporting laws REQUIRE THEM to”? In other words, as far as the Vatican is concerned, if there is no explicit law, HIDE THE CRIMES. This in itself is not a major press story? Where is the deep follow-up?

“The figures, however, only cover cases handled directly by the Holy See, not those handled by local diocesan tribunals, meaning the total number of sanctioned priests is likely far higher.”

“The latest spike began in 2010, when 464 cases were reported, more than twice the amount in 2009. Starting in that same year, the Vatican began resorting more and more to the lesser penalty of sentencing accused priests to a lifetime of penance and prayer rather than defrocking them. The Vatican often metes out such sentences for elderly or infirm priests, since defrocking them would essentially render them destitute in their final years.”

What?? As more cases were reported, the Vatican took LIGHTER ACTIONS against the sex-criminal priests. That’s another major press investigation that never happened.

France 24, Dec. 15, 2017: “The [Australian] government ordered the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2012 after a decade of pressure to investigate widespread allegations across the country.”

“The commission was contacted by more than 15,000 survivors who detailed claims of child abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools, often dating back decades.”

“It heard horrific stories during often confronting and emotionally exhausting public and private hearings.”

“In total, more than 4,000 institutions were accused of abuse, with many of them Catholic-managed facilities.”

“’Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions. We will never know the true number,’ the final report said, making hundreds of recommendations to improve children’s safety and make it harder for paedophiles to operate unpunished.”

“’Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions’.”

Read More @ NoMoreFakeNews.com

US Interest Rates Walking on Narrow Ledge

by Michael Pento, Market Oracle:

There is a huge shock in store for those who have been lulled to sleep by a stock market that has become accustomed to no volatility and only an upward direction. And that alarm bell can be found in the price action of Bitcoin, which recently tumbled over 40% is less than a week. For the implosion within the cryptocurrency world foreshadows what will happen with the major averages as the Federal Reserve futilely attempts to stop monetizing the exploding mountain of U.S. debt.

I am fond of quoting the figure of total market capitalization as a percentage of GDP in order to illustrate the overvalued state of the equity market. That level has now surged to 145% of GDP; while history shows that stock values should represent just 50% of the underlying economy. In that same vein, another eye-popping figure compares global asset prices to GDP. Global asset prices (stocks and bonds) back in 1980 were only 110% of global GDP. Today, they have soared to an incredible and unsustainable 350% of the economy, according to data compiled to by Morgan Stanley.

Which also means due to the massive $3.8 trillion counterfeiting spree from the Fed since 2008, the S&P 500 dividend yield has now plummeted to just 1.8%. But then again, due to the delusion that the Fed can normalize interest rates, there have been five rate hikes on the shortest end of the curve since December of 2015. This means the 3-Year Note once again has a yield that is higher than the S&P 500 dividend yield. This also means that if the Fed follows through on its three rate hikes penciled in for 2018, the dividend yield on the S&P 500 would be less than a “risk-free” 1month T-bill, which has not been the case since the great panic of 2008 began. The reemergence of this phenomenon could surely launch a barrage of daggers upon Wall Street’s latest and greatest bubble.

The most important point I can make about this insanely overvalued stock market is that its lynchpin—that is, what’s holding the entire charade together–is the worldwide bubble in the bond market. As long as interest rates behave, the rally can continue. And by behave I mean that long-term rates can neither fall or rise by more than a relatively small number of basis points without sending the market into a tailspin.

Let me explain. First you must understand that the entire credit market construct is completely artificial and therefore guarantees it will end very badly and soon. However, central banks have now started to pull away their manipulation of interest rates; and that means one of two conditions is about to occur. The yield curve will continue on its path towards inversion and could do so in just a few months’ time. That would shut off the entire credit creation machine and send asset prices cascading down to earth. Or, alternatively, a spike in long-term interest rates could be in store, which would engender those same consequences.

And one has to really wonder why bond yields haven’t started to soar as of yet. In fact, yields going out ten years on the curve are up only about 20bps since December 2015. That’s the date when the Fed began the first of its five–to date–25bps rate hikes, for a total 125bps. At 2.45% the U.S. 10-Year Note is still less than half of nominal U.S. GDP growth. That means the yield should be at least double from where it is currently trading just to be in line with historical measures. But given the level of U.S. debt and our escalating solvency concerns, the benchmark yield should be much higher than the historical average.

After all, the current narrative is one of synchronized and accelerating global growth. Also, that inflation is rising towards the Fed’s 2% target. Not only this, the Fed’s balance sheet reduction rises to $50 billion per month by October, the Fed’s dot plot predicts three more rate hikes this year and the ECB has halved its QE program and is predicted to be completely finished printing money by the end of this year. Exploding debt and the reversal of central bank support for bonds should cause rates to spike.

Indeed, deficits are already rising due to demographics, but the swamp creatures in D.C. that inhabit both parties only care about deficits when they are not in power. The amount of red ink is projected to reach around $1.2 trillion per year by fiscal 2019; but that is just start of calamities.

So the daunting addition goes something like this: the baseline projection is that there will be $10 trillion added to the $21 trillion National debt over the next ten years. Not including Trump’s unpaid for tax cuts, which are projected to add another $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Then you add on to the debt Trump’s next endeavor, known as the most massive infrastructure project outside of China’s recent efforts to pave over the Fareast, which will add hundreds of billions to the total of red ink. And, since the next recession most likely isn’t more than just a few quarters away–and is already long overdue–deficits will jump again by a further trillion dollars per annum just like then did during the four years from 2009-2012.  Plus, every 100bps higher in average interest costs on the outstanding debt piles on another $200 billion in debt service payments per year. All this will be happening as the Fed is dumping $600 billion per year of MBS and Treasuries on to the balance sheet of taxpayers!

Read More @ MarketOracle.com

Gov’t Forcing Couple to Tear Down Amazing Treehouse On Their Property—Or Else

by Jack Burns, The Free Thought Project:

A Florida couple has spent almost $200,000 trying to keep their $30,000 treehouse from being torn down, the state plans to crush them.

Holmes Beach, FL — Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen have spent over $150,000 building a beachfront treehouse Anna Maria Island on Florida’s west coast—in their own backyard. But it wasn’t the cost of the treehouse which was so expensive, it was the legal fees they spent trying to keep the city from tearing it down. After years of legal jousting, the couple has appealed their right to keep their treehouse all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). However, on Monday, the state won.

SCOTUS claimed a case of the state forcing a property owner to tear down an expensive building on their own property was simply not worth their time. Tran and Hazen built the two-level structure on their property as a getaway from their main home. The treehouse has windows which allow guests to enjoy a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico. But city officials say the couple did not get the proper permit needed to legally construct the structure. Tran and Hazen disagree and explained that they did everything by the book.

They say they asked the City of Holmes Beach if they needed a permit and were told “No.” Construction began in 2011. Shortly thereafter, a so-called “anonymous complaint” led city officials to investigate. That investigation resulted in the city telling the couple they had to take it down because the treehouse was outside of the city’s set-back line and they did not have a proper permit for its construction.

They refused to tear it down and challenged the city in court. Unfortunately, the courts have sided with the city. Tran and Hazen then appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the court was not concerned with property rights and therefore chose not make a ruling.

Tran and Hazen only spent $30,000 on the tree mounted structure. In an interview with CBS News, Tran said, “The Supreme Court is the last court of resort…if it doesn’t work out, we don’t even want to think about it yet…especially when we knew we didn’t do anything wrong.” And in a telephone interview with the Associated Press, she elaborated, “Part of me still believes there’s got to be justice out there and we didn’t do anything wrong.”

Sadly, her hope has run out. They are now going to be forced to continue to pay a $50 per day fine—which has been racking up for weeks—or tear it down. Make no mistake, if this couple refuses to pay the fine, armed agents of the state will come to their home and arrest them.

Tran and Hazen run Angelinos Sea Lodge, a rental property on the coast. They have no children and do not rent out the treehouse but say guests at their lodge enjoy spending time inside the structure, enjoying the views and the breeze. Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson apparently couldn’t care less what happens to the couple’s investment. He said their fight to keep their treehouse is “quite honestly a waste of time,” and added, “for some reason these people have this fixation on it.”

For free-thinking freedom lovers, the thought of the city telling property owners that they can’t enhance their own property is an absurdity. Even more ludicrous is the notion property owners ever really own their property. The minute a family stops paying government imposed property taxes, the city takes their property and sells it to someone else, all of which raises the question, “do we really own property or does the government just let us think we do.”

After all, as TFTP has reported on numerous occasions, conforming to city codes and permitting is required by law. Even the act of gardening has been ruled illegal in some parts of the country.

Currently, in almost every state in the union, people have to have a permit to go fishing, build a shed, get married, travel, have a business, work, drive a car, and the list goes on and on. So, who’s really free if every major life decision is left up to someone else?

Read More @ TheFreeThoughtProject.com

NSA SURVEILLANCE BILL WOULD LEGALIZE LOOPHOLE THAT LETS FBI SPY ON AMERICANS WITHOUT A WARRANT

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by Alex Emmons, The Intercept:

WITH MAJOR NSA surveillance authorities set to expire later this month, House Republicans are rushing to pass a bill that would not only reauthorize existing powers, but also codify into law some practices that critics have called unconstitutional.

The bill takes aim at reforming how federal law enforcement can use data collected by the National Security Agency, putting a modest constraint on when the FBI can conduct so-called backdoor searches of Americans’ communications. But because such searches make use of a legal loophole, critics say the current bill may do more harm than good by explicitly writing the practice into law.

The bill would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which serves as the basis for some of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs, and keep it on the books through 2023. The law was first passed in 2008 after the George W. Bush administration’s secret warrantless wiretapping was made public, effectively to legalize what the administration was doing.

The law allows the intelligence community to spy on Americans’ transnational communications without a warrant so long as the “targets” are not Americans. In 2013, documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA vacuums up a tremendous amount of wholly domestic communications through the program as well.

Republicans tried to ram through a different incarnation of the bill last month, based on a more draconian version passed by the House Intelligence Committee. During a daylong push to drum up support, Republicans on the committee circulated fliers depicting enlarged photos of Islamic State fighters, trying to give the impression that failing to pass that bill would be a gift to foreign terrorists. But leadership backed off after determining they didn’t have enough votes to pass it, according to multiple congressional sources. Domestic surveillance is the rare issue on which hard-right Republicans and left-leaning privacy advocates often find common ground.

The new version of the bill, posted on the Rules Committee website late Friday, is designed to get the buy-in of Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. It includes compromise language taken from a separate bill passed out of that committee in November, which included some modest limitations on existing authorities, including the reform to backdoor searches.

The bill takes aim at one of the key problems with the original law: that Section 702 doesn’t limit how data can be used by federal law enforcement. That has given rise to the backdoor search loophole, in which the NSA shares certain kinds of information with the FBI, which the FBI then uses to search for Americans’ communications without a warrant.

Privacy advocates have called backdoor searches unconstitutional and urged Congress to close the loophole by requiring the FBI to get a court order to query Americans’ communications. The current bill takes a crack at doing so, requiring the FBI to get a warrant before searching the data in relation to an open criminal investigation.

But the bill carves out large exceptions. The FBI doesn’t have to apply for a warrant when national security is involved, or when it determines that there is a “threat to life or serious bodily harm.” And the bill would continue to allow the FBI to sift through the data even when those searches don’t involve a specific criminal investigation, which the FBI already does so often that they have compared it to searching Google.

The FBI doesn’t have to apply for a warrant when national security is involved, or when it determines a “threat to life or serious bodily harm.”

Daniel Schuman, policy director for digital rights organization Demand Progress, said the new bill essentially codifies illegal backdoor searches, while failing to effectively limit them.

“The Intelligence Committee’s bill disregards the Constitution and common sense by granting the government the authority to search Americans’ communications without first obtaining a warrant,” Schuman told The Intercept. “Not only does this turn the purpose of the foreign surveillance law on its head, transforming it into a domestic surveillance tool, but it places activists, minorities, and everyone else at the mercy of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, who have made clear their disregard for legal constraints and democratic norms.”

Read More @ TheIntercept.com

Russia’s Plans for a “Fire Escape” Currency

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by Byron King, Daily Reckoning:

It may be a new year, but Russia makes no secret of its long-term dissatisfaction with U.S. politics, the dollar and, by extension, U.S. monetary hegemony in the world.

Russia has been under U.S./Western economic sanctions for over three years. Meanwhile, oil prices have been “lower for longer,” as the saying goes, due to global competition for market share from U.S. fracking. The overall impact of these phenomena has been costly to the Russian economy.

Still, Russia has persevered through all manner of external economic roadblocks. The Russian view is sanguine, and that, as time passes, the dollar is in trouble, for a lengthy list of reasons.

Indeed, Russia’s strategic intent is clear…

To escape the constraints and political risks of a dollar-denominated world. In fact, Russian leaders are forming a new currency arrangement that will allow them to do exactly that.

My partner Jim Rickards and I call this new phenomenon Russia’s “fire escape” currency. It’s coming down the line, and smart investors can profit from it.

First though, you need to understand the Russian view of the dollar.

At the highest levels of Russian governance, officials are deeply concerned with what they perceive as U.S. political meddling and bullying, based on the dollar.

Western economic sanctions are part of this. The U.S. and Western partners have blocked all manner of trade in goods and services with Russia, and extended the blockage to many Russian export items as well.

Plus, Russia chafes under restrictions on transferring funds via the international SWIFT system (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). There are many other issues related to the dollar, as well. Far too many to list here.

But, it’s fair to say that Russian policymakers hold profound distrust and resentment towards how the U.S. has, in their view, abused the status of the dollar as the predominant international reserve currency.

As far back as 2011, at a major conference in Russia, Vladimir Putin said, “They (USA) are living beyond their means and shifting a part of the weight of their problems to the world economy… They (USA) are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar.”

Unsurprisingly, since 2011, Russia has pushed back against dollar-hegemony. Among other things, Russia has accumulated a large amount of gold.

In fact, in the past six years, Russia has more than doubled its official, publicly-acknowledged, state holdings of gold, as this chart makes clear.

Russia has broadcast news of this gold buildup to the entire world. Russian policymakers want people to know about the gold stash.

For example, according to a recent article in Russia’s Sputnik News, Russia’s monetary policy has the Kremlin’s central bank “Stacking Bullion Bricks Like There Is No Tomorrow.”

Many Russians regard those gold bricks as a “strategic reserve” for the country. That’s because Russian culture is imbued with a deep-seated military viewpoint, formed over many centuries of warfare between that nation and its external enemies and invaders.

So, Russians see physical gold as a critical substance, held back and out of normal usage, in case of need during an emergency.

Read More @ DailyReckoning.com