Illegal drug use only? Do include alcohol and anti-depressants. If you are so damaged that you can’t function without pills perhaps you should focus on healing yourself instead of pathetically trying to help others. Of course this will never happen, as most US politicians are a bunch of self-centered doofuses beyond redemption.
Louisiana Congressman, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) wants to force every single member of Congress to take regular drug tests and he wants them to pay for the tests themselves.
Higgins introduced the legislation this week which, if passed, will force all federal lawmakers to be randomly drug tested once per term for illegal drug use.
According to the legislation, titled: RANDOM DRUG TESTING OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE.
(a) In General.—Each Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate shall participate in accordance with this concurrent resolution in a program for testing for illegal use of controlled substances.
(b) Features.—The program under this concurrent resolution shall include the following features:
(1) Each Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate shall be subject to a random drug test once per term of such Member.
(2) Each confirmed positive result under the program shall be provided as follows:
(A) To the Member involved.
(B) In the case of a Member of the House of Representatives, to the Committee on Ethics of the House of Representatives for such review as may be necessary under the Rules of the House of Representatives.
(C) In the case of a Member of the Senate, to the Select Committee on Ethics of the Senate for such review as may be necessary under the Standing Rules of the Senate.
Higgins said he introduced the legislation to treat members of Congress like regular working-class citizens who Higgins thinks are drug tested on a regular basis.
“Elected officials in Washington D.C. should be subject to the same kind of random drug screenings that blue-collar, working-class Americans have to endure. Congress shouldn’t get to live by a different set of rules. This effort is about maintaining accountability and ensuring sober service to We, the People,” said Higgins in a statement.
For those who don’t remember, Clay Higgins, as Reason Magazine points out, is the same guy who last July recorded a video of himself inside a former gas chamber at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Higgins was roundly criticized at the time, not just by the usual outrage mob but also by the Auschwitz Memorial’s Twitter account. Higgins’ offense wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it was widely seen as disrespectful and just plain dumb, especially considering that a stone engraving near the entrance to the gas chamber asked visitors to remain silent.
When questioned whether or not this drug test legislation was some political stunt, Higgins insisted that he is serious.
“This isn’t a stunt,” he told the Monroe News Star. “It’s not about shaming or embarrassing or ending members’ careers. It’s about our body adhering to the same standards almost every other working man and woman is held to on the job.”
But Higgins is way off here. Every member of of the American workforce is not subject to drug tests — thankfully. While many jobs do require random drug tests, the overwhelming majority of jobs do not.
While Washington is certainly full of criminal politicians, the idea that drug testing them is going to fix anything is pretty silly. In fact, many of them would probably do well to start using drugs like marijuana.
If members of Congress frequently engaged in smoking pot, perhaps they’d overturn the laws which require cops to lock people up for it.
Simon explained that plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are now consumed not just by vegetarians but “even mainstream consumers” who are “enjoying these delicious and innovative options in the market today.”
The report found that sales of plant-based ‘meat’ increased 23 percent in the past year, up from six percent growth the previous year. Retail sales of plant-based products grew double-digits across all nine US census regions.
GFI predicted that the global meat alternatives market is set to grow over the coming years, reaching $6.3 billion by 2023. It is currently valued at $4.63 billion.
“As consumers look to decrease their meat consumption, more and more people are choosing plant-based meat. In fact, 12 percent of households across the US now purchase plant-based meat,” said GFI Director of Corporate Engagement Alison Rabschnuk.
“[This is] a significant increase from last year and I expect we’ll see that trend continue,” Rabschnuk added.
The research also found that “the plant-based meat category today is looking suspiciously like the plant-based milk category about ten years ago.”
Plant-based milk (a $1.8 billion market) commands a full 13 percent of total retail milk sales nationally. By contrast, it accounts for just about one percent of total US retail meat sales.
GFI noted that plant-based milk has become an increasingly common household staple and people are seeking out other plant-based dairy products. Those “other dairy alternatives” are seeing some of the greatest sales growth, according to GFI.
Militants in Syria’s Idlib have transported several canisters containing chlorine to the village of Bsanqul, apparently preparing to stage a false flag chemical attack, the Russian Defense Ministry has said.
The chlorine-filled canisters were delivered by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants of Tahrir al Sham, formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, a spokesman of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko, said in a statement Saturday. He added that the latest developments showed that the militants are preparing for a false flag attack that would be used to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its people.
This is the latest warning from the Russian military on what it says is a chemical “provocation” in the making. On Wednesday, it said the White Helmets group has shot videos intended to be used in framing the Syrian government. Earlier, the MoD said toxic chemicals had been delivered to Idlib and accused the White Helmets of carrying out the delivery.
The US and its allies have so far dismissed the Russian warnings, but said that the government in Damascus might instead be preparing chemical attacks against civilians. Moscow has suggested that the attack might be prepared with the support of Washington, which wants to justify further air strikes against Syria. Those planned strikes are said to be much larger in scale than those launched against the Syrian military by the US, the UK and France in April.
It comes as Washington has been building up its military presence in the region. In late August, the missile destroyer USS Ross was deployed to the Mediterranean, carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles, while the USS The Sullivans was deployed to the Persian Gulf and a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber was moved to an air base in Qatar.
Most recently, the USS Bulkeley (DDG-84), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, entered the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar. Last week, the attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN-750) arrived in the Mediterranean as well.
With the arrival of the Bulkeley, the US forces in the region reportedly have up to 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles available to strike targets in Syria if ordered to do so, Russian media reports.
The Syrian government has been advertising its victories of late. A vast international fair in Damascus, the reconstruction of the old city of Homs – though it has a long, long way to go – and a spankingly restored Sheraton Hotel next to the still sepulchral ruins of eastern Aleppo. But you cannot wash away either the darkness or the ghosts. For in the past few weeks, security officers, police officials and other servants of the Syrian state have suddenly – shockingly for the regime – become victims of assassins, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus.
The latest murder, just a week ago, cost the life of a Syrian police major in Aleppo, a man who (so Aleppo friends tell me) was widely respected, one of the more moderate figures in the security state who refused to take bribes from both businessmen and local tribes. Refusing “baksheesh” on a grand scale in a Middle East long suffering from the cancer of corruption is almost worthy of a medal of valour. Or death. Major Ali Ibrahim was in fact trying to arrest a man for alleged corruption – a member of the Al-Bagaran tribe which had, on and off, fought the Syrian army during the war. He was met by a fusillade of gunfire and killed instantly.
The alleged murderer was captured and will probably be sent to the gallows. His imprisonment was followed by the usual inspired rumours of his depravity. He was wanted for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, so they said. Rare are the enemies of the state in the Middle East who are not also accused of such crimes. But other officials – one of them in Damascus – have also been gunned down in the past month.
Perhaps the most astonishing was that of Major Somar Zeidan, one of the most interesting figures in the Syrian security services in the north of the country whom – quite by chance – I knew. We met all of six years ago when I was in the already bullet-scarred ancient soukh of Aleppo. A tall army officer in combat fatigues and wearing a steel helmet, Zeidan looked at my companion and I with something between vexation and humour. He had just recaptured a small street of shops from the rebels, and bread was being distributed to civilians who were standing alongside walls newly graffitied with the slogans of Islamist militias. “We are the brigades of 1980,” the slogans said – that was the year the first Muslim Brotherhood uprising threatened the empire of Hafez al-Assad, whose son now rules Syria. These newly invigorated “brigades” now held this corner of the soukh but Zeidan and his soldiers had just driven them out. The road was covered in spent cartridge cases, a sniper still fired from 150 yards away.
So in a makeshift command headquarters – someone’s bedroom, alas, the carpet and bed already covered in phone cables and radios – we sat and talked to Somar Zeidan about the war, about its suddenness, its fearful arrival in the suburbs and then the centre of Aleppo, a year after the revolt elsewhere in the country. He said his men had just found a foreign fighter who claimed to his captors he never realised that Palestine was so beautiful. “He thought he was in Palestine to fight the Israelis,” Major Somar said. Up to 15 of the Islamist fighters had surrendered. We did not find out what quality of mercy was visited upon them.
The major spoke excellent English – he used Dan Brown books to teach himself, he said, and there were indeed some volumes of that great literary figure on the floor, but Somar Zeidan was also a political man. “Our borders with Turkey are a big problem,” he admitted. “The border needs to be closed. The closure of the frontier must be coordinated by the two governments. But the Turkish government is on the enemy side. Erdogan is against Syria.” Five and a half years before his death, the major got that one right.
But there was something else about him. He had been a member of Syrian state security but when the war came, he preferred to fight in the army, to defend what he regarded as his people rather than the state. It was an intriguing decision. A symbol of the “New Syria”, perhaps? When I asked him his religion, a question that is all innocence and all poison in Syria, the major — whose father was a general, his mother a teacher — was as quick as a cat. “It’s not where you are born or what is your religion,” he said. “It’s what’s in your mind. Islam comes from this land, Christians come from this land, Jews come from this land. That is why it is our duty to protect this land.”
Hearing that my colleague had never seen the citadel of Aleppo, he led us on a fearful run amid gunfire below the glacis of the ancient fortress and up to the shattered medieval gate. “Now you have seen it!” he shouted. Months later, we came across a rather plumper, gloomier Somar Zeidan, still grinning but agreeing that he had to retreat from his original position in the soukh, that he no longer had sufficient soldiers to hold his part of the line. After the recapture of eastern Aleppo, I met him once more, in a Republican Guard office where intelligence officers were monitoring the communications of the Islamist militias in Idlib province – yes, the same Idlib whose downfall is today threatened by Major Somar Zeidan’s surviving comrades-in-arms.
The system he had adopted was simple and fully supported by the regime: to reconcile with the armed Syrian groups and their families, and encourage them to return to government-controlled regions of the country. The major was now almost skeletal, he rarely slept, I thought, and I wondered if he had become a smoker. He had at least two offices in Aleppo and one of his juniors, in military uniform, was a former Islamist who had returned to the ranks after abandoning his previous life of armed Muslim revolution in return for official forgiveness. Or so Somar Zeidan thought.
I could gather only fragmentary details of the major’s end. The forgiven junior officer, it appears, turned up at Zeidan’s city office several weeks ago and pulled out his new army pistol. Somar Zeidan, the trusting general, was quick enough to jump at him, but too late. The man fired one bullet into his stomach, another into his chest. Zeidan died at once. The killer was apprehended – again, his fate might be predictable – and he was presumably acting on the orders of Nusrah or some other Islamist group.
Which means that Isis and Nusrah and the others – whatever the fate of Mosul or Raqqa or the future of Idlib – are still at war, just when the “war” is supposed be about to end.
Some in Aleppo suspect they may be deliberately picking on the more enlightened elements of the regime, and provoking the government to strike back. And certainly, there is now talk of a fierce new law which threatens any kind of anti-government violence with immediate retaliation. And this, you might say, is where we came in. It will need a subtle hand to avoid a return to this kind of past, war or no war.
Just about every website owner I know is feeling personally victimized by the recent social media purge that has been going on. But here’s an interesting fact: it isn’t, as is widely perceived, just conservative voices that are being silenced. It is dissenting voices.
It’s the voices of critical thinkers whose ideas run the gamut of philosophies who find that they no longer have much in the way of reach.
This social media purge affects everyone, even people who are not on social media. It does so in several ways:
Dissenting information is silenced which stifles discussion
Young people who are avid consumers of social media are being literally brainwashed because they only see one side of the story – any story
The social media purge harms websites that post non-establishment information because it stamps out their ability to reach readers who would be interested in their content.
The unfairly biased search results show people who are trying to learn more about a topic only one side of the information.
You don’t have to be on a Twitter feed to see how this is an overwhelmingly anti-American problem. Like it or not, social media is a monumental source of information these days, and when it’s censored to only show one point of view, the future of our republic is in peril. We are well on our way to peak censorship and this has been carefully orchestrated.
Non-establishment websites are in trouble.
Their website traffic is plummeting because they no longer show up anywhere near the top of search results. Their posts on social media are not presented to the public – or even the people who deliberately opted to “follow” them. Here’s an example from my own page. I have more than 30K people who chose to follow my page, as you can see in the top image. But in the bottom image, you can see how many of those people were actually shown my post. And this was actually a more successful one than many.
And the same thing goes for social media like Twitter, too. I have an email list and if I didn’t, I’d hardly reach anyone. (If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can do so right here.) And I really have to wonder – will our “offensive” websites one day just disappear, scrubbed from the Internet permanently? It’s only a matter of time until the web hosting companies are being pressured to get in on the censorship game.
For the record, I consider myself neither conservative nor liberal. I try to veer away from any form of extremism and I make an effort to think a situation through before automatically aligning myself with a “side.” If anything, I’m a small l libertarian. My core beliefs are personal autonomy and freedom of association are to be sought in all cases that are not harmful to others. And yet, somehow, that is threatening to some people.
The most notable purge recently has been Alex Jones and Infowars.
Love Alex Jones, hate him, or feel utterly ambivalent aside from an occasional eye-roll, he has been the most notable victim to have been thoroughly erased from the public eye as far as the large social media outlets are concerned. He lost his voice on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Google. Even his email service provider dumped him.
I’m not personally a huge fan of Jones, but I do believe what happened to him was collusion between social media giants. Big Tech got together and now Alex Jones has to find new ways to reach his very large audience. No one is going to stumble across him accidentally in a Google Search anymore. No one is going to see his videos embedded in another website anymore. Like him or not, he has the right to exist publicly.
Jones has a lot of money so this may not be the end of him, but for most website owners, this would be the absolute end of our ability to do business. And to be able to bring the information we bring, we do have to run our websites as businesses. It’s far more expensive than most people realize to run a site. I know that my own operating costs every month are more than $2000. A site as big as Jones’s would be many times that amount. When all your avenues of monetization are cut off, it wouldn’t be hard for a site – and the dissent and information they share – to cease to exist.
If it’s been a while, I’ll recap the pertinent parts of the plot from Spark Notes.
Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens; everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Currently, the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thoughtcrime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes…
…As the novel opens, Winston feels frustrated by the oppression and rigid control of the Party, which prohibits free thought, sex, and any expression of individuality. Winston dislikes the party and has illegally purchased a diary in which to write his criminal thoughts…
…Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, where he alters historical records to fit the needs of the Party. (source)
The Ministry of Truth is control of all the things from which people could garner their opinions. They provide their own twist on history, current events, entertainment, education, and the arts. The people of Oceana believe them because there isn’t enough information to believe anything else. And questioning the Ministry is a thoughtcrime, punishable by horrible torture or worse. Part of Winston’s job is to turn anyone who doesn’t follow the Ministry line into an unperson and erase them from history as though they never even existed.
So who is behind this mass purge of dissenting voices?
There’s always a money trail to follow. Any time you wonder why or how something has occurred, look for the money. In this video by Ben Swann, an independent journalist who was mysteriously silenced for quite some time, he provides some important insight.
This is happening RIGHT NOW. We are living it. We are living in the world of 1984.
Rest assured, the way things are going, it isn’t long before we will see only what “they” – the people with the power and money to make it happen – want us to see.
Social pressure is also limiting free thought.
And not only do we have organizations limiting our views of things that would broaden our minds, there’s also the rampant social pressure that we’ve seen since the last election.
When we were recently looking at rental homes, a potential landlady asked me for whom I voted in the last election. I didn’t even bother looking at the place because that is not a standard question one asks of a new tenant. It certainly has nothing to do with my ability to pay the rent. It has nothing to do with my potential for keeping things clean and in good shape. I just left because no house is worth dealing with a person who clearly let me know she was not someone with whom I wanted to do business.
And that is only my personal example. Employers check the social media accounts of prospective employees to see if they approve of how the person thinks. People who disagree publicly with powerful groups get doxxed. Dozens of stories have circulated about social pressure, lost friendships, disagreements, and mistreatment in the workplace that originated from differences in political beliefs.
How can people be expected to form accurate opinions without all the information? How can they do so when they’re under pressure for their livelihood or their ability to rent a home or when they fear for their privacy?
It’s pretty clear that there are those who don’t want people to form accurate opinions. They want to gently, quietly, insidiously get everyone on board by limiting our access to the variety of philosophies and theories that make the world go round.
By making free thought something that is frowned upon and erased, they silence us all.
Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared. Daisy is the publisher of The Cheapskate’s Guide to the Galaxy, a monthly frugality newsletter, and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find Daisy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Facebook will begin fact-checking photographs and videos posted on its platform that are misleading or controversial, WSJ reported.
The company stated Thursday it will begin using technology and human reviewers to stop the spread of “misinformation in these new visual formats.” Previously, the company’s efforts have been focused on rooting out false articles and links.
“The same false claim can appear as an article headline, as text over a photo or as audio in the background of a video,” Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons said in the statement. “In order to fight misinformation, we have to be able to fact-check it across all of these different content types.”
This is all in an effort to stop the spread of propaganda amid elections happening in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Robert Mueller alleges during the 2016 presidential election, a Russian group called the internet Research Agency helped its workers create graphics and videos that could spread misinformation via social media networks, according to the indictment of three Russian companies and 13 citizens.
Last month, Facebook, Google, and other tech leaders met to discuss what they can do to combat online manipulation of voters ahead of the election. The same companies met earlier in June with intelligence officials to discuss the use of propaganda on social media, the NY Timesreported.
Earlier this year, Facebook began to implement a system that will rank news organizations based on trustworthiness while suppressing content that doesn’t fit in that metric.
Last year, Facebook ran a test in 6 countries that would force news publishers to pay to show their posts from their Facebook Pages in the timeline of Facebook users in an effort disguised to fight “fake news.” What it actually does is bury posts from news outlets and businesses.
A former Facebook employee once confessed to the abhorrent censorship of conservative news at the company.
The nail in the coffin was actually placed in 2015 when Facebook admitted that they were censoring posts and comments about political corruption in foreign countries. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) responded accusing Facebook of being “complicit in political censorship.”
Facebook is not new to censorship, and this will likely continue.
“As governments grow aware of the fact that stifling speech is as easy as submitting an order to a corporation, the number of those orders will drastically increase,” the EFF wrote.
Independent news organizations like Activist Post receive significant traffic from the communities they have built at Facebook. Along with Google’s search engine (SEO), Facebook’s algorithms can have a detrimental impact, and in recent months we all have noticed the downward spiral of traffic in our reach as the Chicago Tribune reported in a Medium post.
Now the company is seeking to fight “fake news” by fact-checking images and videos to protect the integrity of elections. However, everyone can see where this is heading, an Orwellian society where information can be suppressed as easy as stating it’s “fake news.”
The problem is an admin or reviewer’s own political bias, whether they lean left, right or center, which was shown in 2015 when Facebook censored posts and comments about political corruption in foreign countries.
Now we are supposed to expect that they will be unbiased in their “fact checking” Who is doing the fact checking is it the same mostly liberal fact checkers checking news? I rest my case.
The only acceptable way to fight fake news is as Edward Snowden said to better inform yourself about the issues and research yourself. Fun fact, the military once used a fake news story on Snowden’s death to direct a phishing email attack on its own computers in 2013.
A prototype of Google’s censored search engine for China links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, “thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries,” reports The Intercept.
The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, revolves around the Android platform and is designed to remove content deemed by government officials to be sensitive or offensive – such as information about protests, free speech, political dissidents, democracy and human rights violations.
Sources familiar with the project said that prototypes of the search engine linked the search app on a user’s Android smartphone with their phone number. This means individual people’s searches could be easily tracked – and any user seeking out information banned by the government could potentially be at risk of interrogation or detention if security agencies were to obtain the search records from Google.
the search platform also appeared to have been tailored to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing. The Chinese government has a record of manipulating details about pollution in the country’s cities. One Google source said the company had built a system, integrated as part of Dragonfly, that was “essentially hardcoded to force their [Chinese-provided] data.” –The Intercept
“This is very problematic from a privacy point of view, because it would allow far more detailed tracking and profiling of people’s behavior,” says Human Rights Watch senior internet research Cynthia Wong. “Linking searches to a phone number would make it much harder for people to avoid the kind of overreaching government surveillance that is pervasive in China.”
Human rights groups have slammed Dragonfly, insisting that it could result in Google “directly contributing to, or [becoming] complicit in, human rights violations.”
Google engineers agree – and they’ve been resigning over the ethical concerns with the project
Approximately 1,400 Google employees have signed a letter circulating within the company, asking executives to explain exactly what the hell is going on.
“As a company and as individuals we have a responsibility to use this power to better the world, not to support social control, violence, and oppression,” the letter reads. “What is clear is that Ethical Principles on paper are not enough to ensure ethical decision making. We need transparency, oversight, and accountability mechanisms sufficient to allow informed ethical choice and deliberation across the company.”
And as The Intercept noted on Thursday, senior Google research scientist Jack Poulson quit over the project, saying that the project violates the company’s artificial intelligence principles, which state that Google won’t create technologies “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”
In early August, Poulson raised concerns with his managers at Google after The Intercept revealed that the internet giant was secretly developing a Chinese search app for Android devices. The search system, code-named Dragonfly, was designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.
After entering into discussions with his bosses, Poulson decided in mid-August that he could no longer work for Google. He tendered his resignation and his last day at the company was August 31. –The Intercept
“I’m offended that no weight has been given to the human rights community having a consensus,” said Poulson. “If you have coalition letter from 14 human rights organizations, and that can’t even make it into the discussions on the ethics behind a decision, I’d rather stand with the human rights organizations in this dispute.”
And Poulson isn’t the only one… six other employees have reportedly quit over Dragonfly, as reported by BuzzFeed News.
While current employees declined to provide the list itself or to specify most of the names on it, three sources familiar with the matter confirmed the existence of the list, which is made up largely of software engineers whose experience at Google ranges between one and 11 years. Google declined to comment on the list.
The revelation of Dragonfly provoked an immediate backlash within the company’s rank and file, who have high expectations for transparency from executives because of Google’s stated corporate values. One employee who’d been asked to work on the project decided to quit, another transferred teams, and internal forums were flooded with thousands of posts, comments, and emails debating the ethics of the project. –BuzzFeed
Interestingly, sometime between late April and early May, Google dropped their “Don’t be evil” motto of 17 years. Maybe Turkish television has it right?
A different kind of hurricane slammed into the American East coast, the nation and ultimately the world ten years ago today.
Amidst the multiple introspective columns and soul searching that naturally occurred this week, which looked back on the missed warning signs behind the 2008 financial collapse exactly a decade ago this weekend, there is a small group of people whose opinions are actually worth paying attention to.
Though arguably no single individual accurately called all aspects of the crisis in its entirety, precipitated by the implosion of Lehman Brothers, some did very publicly predict key facets with prophetic clarity. As Market Watch’s Howard Gold explains in his profile of four analysts the world should have been listening to: “People warned about subprime mortgage loans, derivatives, and too much leverage, but nobody, to my knowledge, said a bursting housing bubble would cause a global crisis that would lead to the demise of venerable financial firms, require trillion-dollar taxpayer bailouts, and cause a recession that rivaled only the Great Depression in its magnitude.”
Trouble is like many religious prophets of ancient history, they were rejected at the time, cast as dour harbingers of gloom and doom.
Here are four names and their very public warnings that attempted to jolt the financial and banking sectors out of their sleepy stroll toward the abyss before 2008, as well as their predictions for the next big one, and what to look out for.
Howard Gold interviewed each, and laid out the key quotes summarizing then and now…
Economist A. Gary Shilling
President of consultancy A. Gary Shilling & Co., he started writing about a housing bubble in the early 2000s which Greg Lippmann (of “The Big Short” fame), credits with giving him the idea to bet against subprime mortgages. Describes Gold, “he warned his newsletter subscribers about a housing bust and wholesale deleveraging of household debt that would hobble the economy for years.”
John Paulson contacted Shilling in August 2006. “He talked about credit default swaps. I didn’t know what they were,” Shilling recalled.
Shilling did some consulting for Paulson’s hedge fund and even invested what “was for the Shillings a major piece of money in this.” Paulson, of course, loaded up on CDS’s and made $4 billion in what has been called “the greatest trade ever.” “We made 15 times our money,” Shilling says.
His predictions pre-2008:
“Subprime loans are probably the greatest financial problem facing the nation in the years ahead.” —January 2004
“The [speculative housing] bubble’s break will cause widespread pain…and be much worse economically than the 2000-2002 bear market.”—June 2006
“We continue to forecast a 25% fall in median single-family house prices nationwide.” —November 2006.
What he says now:
“The ultimate thing that brings down financial markets is excess leverage … So, you look where’s the big leverage, and right now I think it’s in emerging markets.”
Shilling is particularly worried about the $8 trillion in dollar-denominated emerging-market corporate and sovereign debt, especially as the U.S. dollar rises along with interest rates. “The problem is as the dollar increases,” he said, “it gets tougher and tougher for them to service [that debt] because it takes more and more of their local currency to do so.” Of that, $249 billion must be repaid or refinanced through next year, Bloomberg reported.
President of Stack Financial Management, which manages $1.3 billion, and InvesTech Research, a newsletter he launched in 1979, Jim Stack as a young analyst first gained some notoriety for calling the 1987 stock market crash. Describes Gold, “As housing prices kept rising, Stack built a proprietary tool called the Housing Bellwether Barometer. He called housing a bubble a year before it peaked and warned of bigger problems ahead for the economy and the markets.”
Hispredictions of a new bear market coming were issued even as stocks were hitting all-time highs.
His predictions pre-2008:
“We are officially calling it a dangerous bubble…I see a trillion+-dollar government bailout of the mortgage industry at some point over the next decade.”—July 2005
“Our Housing Bubble Index has dropped into a freefall that rivals the dot-com bust of the late 1990s… We are moving to a full bear market defensive mode.”—July 2007
“We are nowhere near the bottom…It’s only a matter of time…until the housing debacle and credit crisis adversely impact the overall economy, increasing the likelihood of a recession.”—Interview with Equities magazine, November 2007
What he says now:
That housing-related stocks “saw a parabolic run-up” in 2016-17, but in January his index “peaked and now it’s coming down hard.” And this spells “bad news on the housing market looking 12 months down the road.”
But the biggest danger, Stack told me, is from low-quality corporate debt. Issuance of corporate bonds has “gone from around $700 billion in 2008 to about two and a half times that [today].”
And, he added, more and more of that debt is subprime. Uh-oh.
In 2005, he pointed out, companies issued five times as much high-quality as subprime debt, but last year “we had as much subprime debt, poor quality-debt issued, as quality debt on the corporate level,” he said, warning “this is the kind of debt that does get defaulted on dramatically in an economic downturn.”
“Managers…have greater incentive to take risk…because the upside is significant, while the downside is limited.”
“Moreover, the linkages between markets, and between markets and institutions, are now more pronounced. While this helps the system diversify across small shocks, it also exposes the system to large systemic shocks…”
“The financial risks that are being created by the system are indeed greater… [potentially creating] a greater (albeit still small) probability of a catastrophic meltdown.”
What he says now:
“There has been a shift of risk from the formal banking system to the shadow financial system.” He also told me the post-crisis reforms did not address central banks’ role in creating asset bubbles through accommodative monetary policy, which he sees as the financial markets’ biggest long-term challenge.
“You get hooked on leverage. It’s cheap, it’s easy to refinance, so why not take more of it? You get lulled into taking more leverage than perhaps you can handle.”
And what might be coming:
Rajan also sees potential problems in U.S. corporate debt, particularly as rates rise, and in emerging markets, though he thinks the current problems in Turkey and Argentina are “not full-blown contagion.”
“But are there accidents waiting to happen? Yes, there are.”
* * *
Writer John Mauldin
Best known for his free weekly e-letter “Thoughts from the Frontline,” the Dallas-based chairman of Mauldin Economics, John Mauldin began worrying about housing very early, sometimes featuring commentary from Gary Shilling during the run-up to the crisis. Described by Gold, he “said a housing bust would lead to a drop in consumer spending, a bear market, and a recession (though at first he thought it would be a mild one), and that credit default swaps (CDSs) posed a systemic risk.”
His predictions pre-2008:
“A slowing of the housing market, and thus the economy, is in our future… This in turn suggests that as growth in consumer spending slows, a bear market in equities is a high-probability outcome.”—March 2006
“…The stock market is going to be under considerable pressure next year. The average drop of the markets is about 40% before and in a recession….Dow 9,000 is a real possibility, if not probability”—December 2006. (The Dow bottomed at 6,547.05 in March 2009.)
“The one true risk that is simply not knowable at this point is in the Credit Default Swap (CDS) market….The CDS market is huge, in the hundreds of trillions of dollars and growing dramatically… There is no agency overseeing counter-party risk. This is the one true systemic risk that I see.”—July 2007.
What he says now:
“I think the choice of Europe is… going to have to put [all the debt] on the balance sheet of the European Central Bank. If they don’t, then the euro zone breaks apart and we’re going to get a 50% valuation collapse.”
“Greece…is a rounding error. Italy is not…. And Brussels and Germany are going to have to allow Italy to overshoot their persistent debt, and the ECB is going to have to buy that debt.”
“If it doesn’t happen, the debt triggers a crisis in Europe, [and] that triggers the beginning of a global recession” but… “there are so many little dominoes, if they all start falling, one leads to the next.”
The internet is abuzz with the hilarious discovery of a Weather Channel reporter caught faking like he’s barely able to stand in hurricane-force winds while two guys casually stroll down the street behind him.
Hilariously, he’s leaning in the wrong direction, since the correct maneuver is to lean into the wind. As you can see in the laugh-out-loud video below, he’s actually leaning away from the wind while faking like he’s barely able to stand. This is yet more proof that many so-called journalists are actually just “crisis actors” who use TV broadcasts to carry out elaborate hoaxes and staged crisis events.
An on-screen number shows the wind is actually just 29 mph where this reporter is located, which explains why other people are able to easily walk around in shorts.
See the full video at this REAL.video link, where it won’t be banned:
The Weather Channel is the same fake news network that repeatedly claims hurricanes are caused by man-made “climate change,” insisting that the world never saw hurricanes before humans started burning fossil fuels.
Not only is the Weather Channel fake news; it’s also fake science. Now, we have video proof that the so-called “weather reporters” are really just hilarious hoax actors who pretend to create a crisis scene where none exists.
REAL.video users are having a field day with the hilarity. A user channel named Rainbow Rising has posted a parody of the Weather Channel, where a man hilariously claiming to be barely surviving a vicious storm while his hand manually shakes a palm tree to simulate hurricane-force winds.
The Saker has answered my question: http://thesaker.is/reply-to-paul-craig-roberts-crucial-question/ Except for his belief in the predominance of US military force over Russia in Syria and his possible misreading of my phrase, “turning the other cheek,” to imply Russian meekness rather than a calculated strategy that might be mistaken, I agree with him.
The difference, if there is one, is that by “provocations” I am addressing a broader arena than the possibilities for military confrontation in Syria/Iran and Ukraine. My concerns include, for example, the orchestrated “Skripal poisoning” by a “deadly nerve agent.” This story, despite the total absense of any evidence—indeed, the presence of much evidence against it—continues to develop with ever more absurd accusations. The purpose of this story is to put Russia and its president in the worst possible light, thereby creating a climate of belief for the next false flag attack to be blamed on Russia.
The question is: How much can Washington and its two-bit punk European vassals demonize Russia before it is impossible for the West to deal with Russia in a realistic and responsible manner? What was the Democratic Party and presstitute media thinking, assuming that they are capable of thought, most likely a risky assumption, when they lied, cheated, and stole in order to put Hillary Clinton in the White House? For the United States to have a president who forecloses in advance all negotiation and all trust between the US and Russian governments by declaring the president of Russia to be “the new Hitler” guarantees not only an escalation of dangerous tensions but also guarantees the inability to reduce them. It is this type of escalation more than a possible confrontation between US and Russian forces in Syria that can lead to explosive results.
The most scary fact of our time is that the two men most committed to peaceful relations between the US and Russia—Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin—are the two most demonized people on Earth. The demonization of Trump and Putin is the principal activity of the US media and the Democratic Party. . The demonization goes on all day every day. For example, the fake, nonsensical NY Times op-ed written by the NY Times itself and not by an anonymous “senior Trump official” was the principal focus yesterday of NPR. There was nothing balanced about NPR’s coverage. The NPR presstitutes rounded up every anti-Trump demonizer it could find to add to the conclusion that Trump was unfit for office and needed to be removed.
The previous day Putin was NPR’s target. NPR had the vice chairman of “Open Russia,” a Russiaphobic organization, spewing like a broken fire hydrant the most vile lies and accusations about “Putin’s Russia.” There was no contrary opinion. The NPR host treated it all as the exact truth. In other words, it was a propaganda show, not a news report. What is the purpose of these orchestrated demonizations? Is the purpose to further peace? Understanding? Defuse tensions? Better relations between nuclear powers? Obviously, none of the above.
How can the US media be so utterly stupid and irresponsible as to create a situation in which if a crisis erupts the leaders of the two major nuclear powers cannot speak to one another with an iota of trust? What is more dangerous for the world than the climate of hate Putin/hate Trump that the presstitutes, Democrats, US military/security complex, neocons, and crazed Republicans like John McCain have created?
The fact is this: In the United States and UK, political and media voices are doing everything to make impossible a responsible relationship between the two great powers. What could be more certain to result in war?
Many thanks to Ron Unz for hosting this exchange between Martyanov, The Saker, and myself.
Critics say design is ‘extraordinary illustration of worker alienation’
Amazon has called it “forward looking technology”, designed to keep staff safe at in its vast warehouses, but critics are not convinced: they point out it looks an awful lot like a human cage.
An astonishing 2016 patent would have seen employees of the trillion-dollar company spend their shifts in tiny metal enclosures.
Inside there would have been small work station without a seat, from where each worker could ‘drive’ the cage around the warehouse. An attached robotic arm would take goods from shelves and place them in a trolley beneath the worker.
The patent was secured in 2016 and later abandoned but came light as part of a new academic study into the company’s use of artificial intelligence.
Authors Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler called the design “an extraordinary illustration of worker alienation, a stark moment in the relationship between humans and machines”.
Commentators online were equally unimpressed with many comparing it to something you “put prisoners in”.
But the Seattle-based company defended the patent.
It said the design had been an attempt to protect staff in a work environment that was increasingly populated by heavyweight robots, and would have allowed employees to safely access areas of warehouses that were otherwise off-limits because drones and robots were moving at high speeds.
“Sometimes even bad ideas get submitted for patents,” tweeted Dave Clark, the firm’s senior vice president of operations.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone