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Geopolitics / Slouching Toward Okeefenoke - Kunstler
« on: September 10, 2018, 05:19:57 AM »
 The Grand Master of acute, accurate, poetic penning graces us with another masterful glimpse at our current scene.


Slouching Toward Okeefenoke - Kunstler

Quite a hot time in the ole Swamp this week, with the gators, ‘possums, snakes, and snappers roiling the filthy waters to a bloody froth in the battle for supremacy of the food chain. The Swamp even has its own version of Bigfoot, the Golden Golem of Greatness. Lumbering and garrulous, unlike his shy cousin of the Oregon forests, the flaxen-haired giant plies the sloughs, oak domes, and cypress hammocks desperately seeking respect. His bellowing can be heard each night through the din of chittering insects, croaking bullfrogs, laughing anhingas, and the baying bloodhounds at his heels, as he searches for the fabled drain-plug that might convert this treacherous ecology into an upland peaceable kingdom.

Many forces are vectoring toward Defcon this autumn with an effect that may amplify the individual power of each and reach a critical mass that could just blow the Swamp to soggy bits. The Prog-led “Resistance” turned the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing into a swampish circus, complete with shrieking clowns Kamala Harris and Corey Booker trying out their 2020 election acts. Their antics are almost certainly in vain, since the sides are pre-decided and the votes are there to approve Mr. Kavanaugh, no matter how many faces they pull.

The mere prospect of Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court has induced a fever fugue in Progville that resembles those end-of-the-world apocalyptic visions in Medieval scripture. Yet to come perhaps: fainting spells, ghost sightings, infestations of biting insects, St. Vitus Dance, speaking in “tongues,” visitations of succubi, and other signs that the hosts of Beelzebub are afoot. This inflamed rabble becomes more dangerously delusional each week as the witches fly over Washington. No need to even hunt for them anymore. They’re out in broad daylight.

With the Resistance this unhinged, and a growing roster of midterm election candidates espousing childish, otherwordly utopian fantasies, even Republicans begin to look like sober adults. Meanwhile, worms are stirring in the compost heap known as the Mueller investigation. It is reported today that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has been spending time in a grand jury. Months, it turns out! Who woulda thunk that? And who, exactly, convened this body?

Well, it must have been someone in the federal Justice Department, but supposedly the chief there, Jeff Sessions, has long recused himself from involvement in the Russia “matter,” since he is on the record as having held conversations with persons of the Russian persuasion. Must have been his deputy, then, Rod Rosenstein, on referral from the Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz. The question is: is this a genuine seeking for truth in the FBI’s machinations during and after the 2016 election? Or is it a Rosenstein-managed ruse in a much broader cover-your-ass operation in the ole “modified-limited-hangout” sense coined by Nixon aide Chuck Colson back in the long-ago Watergate swamp draining operation?

There is now a clear evidence trail about eight-lanes wide detailing Russian collusion of the Democratic Party, the Hillary Campaign, the FBI / DOJ, plus a caravan of Robert Mueller aides, adjuncts, colleagues and former trainees. They are all mixed up with a cavalcade of events weaving through more than one Clinton investigation (and its damage control operations), and they need to appear before grand juries too. Many, I suspect are criminally culpable and will end up in the slammer. Perhaps even ole Horse-face himself, grave and aseptic as he may seem.

I’ve caught two of Trump’s rallies the past week or so. His freestyling babble at the podium makes me wish I could wave a magic wand and just make him vanish in a cloud of orange vapor, or perhaps turn him into Richard Nixon. (Doesn’t all this make you nostalgic for ole Nixie?) He can’t shut up about the economic miracles that he has wrought with his mighty “stable genius” brain. Perhaps he has not noticed that the money system is crumbling all around the world at the margins. If he does not understand that this rot eventually must reach the center, then he has washed down too many cheeseburgers with his own Kool Aid. Having taken ownership of all this lock, stock, and barrel, then he is perfectly situated to be blamed when the honey-wagon of algo trading robots turns south and whatever remains of the world’s hot money, including the US dollar, goes up in smoke. If it coincides even bluntly with the mid-term election, then we will find ourselves living through Civil War Two.  :-\ :icon_study: :icon_study: :icon_study:

Geopolitics / Fixers - The Automatic Earth - Raúl Ilargi Meijer
« on: August 23, 2018, 12:25:03 PM »
Fixers indeed. Scumbags, the entire lot of them. Pure unadulterated shit.   :emthdown: :-[
           :icon_study: :icon_study: :icon_study:

 :o :o :o :o :o ::)

   Tesla reopens 10% higher after Elon Musk lays out thoughts on going private
  ::) ::)

  CEO Elon Musk said in a blog post that he wants to take the company private, in what would be the largest deal of its kind, but a final decision has not been made.

The move seemed to come out of nowhere, but Tesla has been under a great deal of pressure to meet its ambitious and expensive goals. The electric car maker is burning through billions and has faced numerous questions about its ability to profitably and reliably produce electric cars for the masses and solar power products. Taking the company private would remove much of that scrutiny.

"First, a final decision has not yet been made, but the reason for doing this is all about creating the environment for Tesla to operate best," Musk said in the post.

"As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders," he added.

Being public also requires Tesla to publicly report quarterly earnings, and puts "enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term," he said.

Musk also cited Tesla's status as the most shorted publicly traded company, giving large numbers of short sellers incentive to attack the company.  :o ::)

Economics / US Economy 2018 - The Great Boom
« on: August 07, 2018, 07:30:41 AM »
Here is a chart of one very important aspect of our great economic Boom.

In my opinion is also a great graph showing the power of propaganda and the utter Bull Shit emanating from the MSM and their disgusting business channels  CNBC, FBN, and Bloomberg.         GO


The only demographic whose labor participation rate has gone up since 2000 is the 55 & older crowd. :icon_scratch:  :icon_study: :icon_study:

A view of serious trouble from Martin Armstrong today.  :-\

What Comes After Trump Will Be a Major Political Confrontation that May Lead to Civil War

Russian military guard Trump's star on Hollywood Blvd

                                <a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

  The man who took a pickaxe and destroyed Trump’s Star in Holywood’s Walk of Fame was booked on a felony vandalism charge. I have stated before, ALL revolutions come from the left. They somehow hate people who have more than they do and they use that hatred to justify killing and robbing them. The core of conservatives is really the opposite. They just want to be left alone and everyone should be entitled to pursue their own happiness. Then there is the extreme right who also turn to violence and this is what completes the circle of politics. If you go far to the left you end up violent and you move far to the right and you join with the left in violence.

The hatred from the left just keeps building. I fear our computer will be correct and we are indeed headed into a civil war and the next presidential election may be that spark. Now a  pair of fake Russian soldiers stood guard at the remains of President Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star. The hatred against Trump is really amazing you would think he was out to write laws against everyone.

I really am concerned about what comes after Trump. The political establishment wants to take back control. They are against any outsider left or right. This may erupt into real violence in the streets for the next election.  :icon_study:

The Kitchen Sink / Hambletonian 2017
« on: August 03, 2018, 12:13:30 PM »
Hate all sports. You couldn't pay be to watch any of them and you know how I love money.  :icon_mrgreen:

Of course there is an exception to everything. Harness racing is my only true love and diversion to get out of the house and mingle with other life long fans such as myself. Will be hardly posting at all for the next few days, getting ready for my annual trek to the Hambletonian. Haven't missed one in decades. It's the Kentucky Derby for harness racing fans. I'm as excited as a kid looking forward to his birthday.

Here is a brief video of last years event. Had a big bet on the horse named Guardian Angel, and am still smarting over his loss, was interfered with by another horse who was disqualified from winning for interference. They are still fighting over the judges ruling in court and fans debate and quarrel still and will no doubt be talked about again tomorrow.

That's racing and win or loose I love every second of it.  See you Sunday morning.

P.S. Not many folks have an interest in harness racing but it will be nationally televised around 6 tomorrow if anyone is interested. Great race, beautiful horses, million dollar purse, drivers from around the world and over in two minutes, every second of which is breathtaking.  :emthup: :icon_sunny:

The 2017 Hambletonian made history, but not in the usual way. What The Hill crossed the finish line first, however, he was disqualified for interference in the stretch and longshot Perfect Spirit was placed first. 2017 marked the first win by disqualification in Hambletonian history. Hear from the connections of both What The Hill and Perfect Spirit.

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Today is James Baldwin's Birthday. He would have been 94 today.



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                              Giant aquatic sculptures made from plastic pollution are at the Aquarium.

Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

July 27, 2018 through April 30, 2019

This limited-time special exhibition features larger-than-life aquatic animal sculptures crafted from plastic trash collected from beaches. The exhibit is spread throughout the Aquarium and designed to educate a global audience about the threat that plastic pollution poses for the world’s oceans and waterways.

Made entirely of debris removed from Pacific Coast beaches, the “Washed Ashore’’ traveling exhibit offers visitors a powerful, visual reality of the proliferation of pollution in the world’s waterways through marine animal representations that use thousands of pieces of plastic in every color of the rainbow. Examples include sculptures of a 10-foot Sea Jelly, a 10-foot-long leaping Marlin, and a 1,500-pound Great White Shark.

At the Zoo
As part of the exhibit, Sebastian James the Tufted Puffin is currently on display at Audubon Zoo. Look for this large sculpture across from the flamingo exhibit in the entry plaza!

   About the Art

Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Artistic Director and Lead Artist for the Washed Ashore Project, said “It is a great privilege to bring the Washed Ashore exhibit to Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and to partner with such a historically significant organization which has conservation at its core. Working with the Audubon team, we hope to convey the powerful message about how our everyday choices affect plastic pollution in the ocean and waterways and do it in a way that will engage all ages." Pozzi added: “Having our marine debris sculptures next to the animals affected by this tragedy is a great opportunity for people to stop and think about how they can make a difference. We are also very excited to have such a significant exhibit next to the Gulf and the Mississippi!’’

The not-for-profit Washed Ashore Project was created in 2010 after Pozzi witnessed mounds of plastic trash piling up on formerly pristine beaches along her native Oregon coast. She organized all-volunteer cleanups and used the collected trash—washed and sorted—to create massive, realistic sculptures of sea animals most affected by the pollution.

Since the project began, more than 10,000 volunteers have participated in the project, collecting, washing, and hand stitching parts of sculptures. More than 42,000 pounds of plastic pollution have been collected from over 300 miles of beaches and turned into more than 70 sculptures that tour the country.

Audubon's Commitment

The Aquarium is proud to host Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea, with its powerful message that single-use plastic trash is one of the ocean’s deadliest predators. In support of this initiative the Aquarium garnered special recognition from the City of New Orleans in 2017 for efforts to address the growing plastics crisis in our oceans. It’s all part of the “In Our Hands” consumer campaign of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, a coalition of 19 aquariums taking action together to advance ocean and freshwater conservation. In addition, the Aquarium has stopped using plastic shopping bags, cups, straws, and lids saving an estimated 210,500 plastic items from landfills last year.

Plastic Facts:

    About 300 million pounds of plastic is produced globally each year and less than 10 percent of that is recycled.
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that 80 percent of the debris found on beaches comes from land via rivers and waterways.
    Every year, mankind adds millions of pounds of plastic into our oceans that collect in gyres, which are large, slow-spinning vortexes of ocean currents caused by trade winds and the earth’s rotation.
    Sea birds, whales, sea turtles and other marine life die regularly after ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in it.
    Plastic pollution has spread into all marine habitats and every level of the food chain. :-[
    According to a report by the World Economic Forum, at the current rate, we can expect to have more plastic than fish, by weight, in the world’s oceans by 2050.

                                       <a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>   :icon_study: :icon_study: :icon_study:   

Doom Psychology & Philosophy / On the Beach - James Howard Kunstler
« on: July 30, 2018, 07:41:25 AM »
Yes James, let's lash ourselves to the mast and await the turbulence.  :-\
On the Beach - Kunstler

Comes August now, the month of vacancy, idleness, the slap and hiss of waves on sand, furtive romance on the dunes, perhaps, sweet corn, country roads, and county fairs, and more furtive romance, perhaps, on a blanket in the high meadow under a blood moon — and respite from the hellish host of foolish ideas, dark trends, and bad faith driving life in this demolition derby of a nation.

If one word defines the preoccupying affairs of USA these days it’s tiresome. The entire population seems to be enacting the old myth of Sisyphus, every, man, woman, child, swamp-creature, and non-binary child-of-God in the land, legal and undocumented, pushing that boulder uphill to the tippy top, only to have it roll back down to the bottom… repeat ad infinitum.

Take Mr. Robert Mueller, for example, the sphinx-like figure looming over the political landscape with his lawyer’s attaché case full of radioactive secrets. He has already done yeoman’s service in his mission by indicting two dozen Russian Facebook trolls and Internet hackers — who will never be extradited or set foot in a US courtroom, sparing taxpayers the expense of trying them (and testing the theory of “collusion” with the current POTUS). It’s a little hard to picture old horse-face popping a third beer at the clambake, let alone the stories he might tell around the fire (with necessary redactions). When he awakes hung over in the sand the next morning to the shrieking gulls, next to someone not-his-wife, will he be overwhelmed with regret for a year spent chasing gremlins from the Kremlin? The public appears to be good and goddamn sick of him. Even The New York Times has stopped squealing about Russia. Standing by for September histrionics….

Have we reached Peak Sexual Confusion in America? Maybe it’s time we stopped handing out brownie points to people who don’t agree with some of the fundamental conditions of being a mammal, such as the apportionment of X and Y chromosomes. Of course the big idea behind that is the crypto-Gnostic wish to transcend nature, human nature especially, and fly away to the liberating vales of some boundary-less utopian ether where nobody has to be anything in particular — or else in a constant state of transformational flux, like the computer-graphic imagery that saturates our movies. Life without boundaries, I think we’ll discover, is not the Great Idea it’s been cracked up to be. I suspect the groups behind this fad are finally fresh out of new astonishments.

Had enough reverse racism? I know I have. All this howling about the horror of the white patriarchy. It will be interesting to see how the world gets on when that force of wickedness is finally vanquished. No more annoying string quartets, tedious dental implants, boring brass bushings, or hopeless theories of surplus value. Thank God for that. The unburdened public can finally give its full attention to hair care and dieting. When women and people-of-color fill all the seats in congress we can look forward to the glorious day when the USA is run as well as Baltimore.

The buzzword harkening to Democratic Party big dawgs on the Hampton lawns and the briny bluffs of Martha’s Vineyard is Universal Basic Income, the suddenly amazing proposal to put the whole country on welfare. I’m all for it — as long as we can get the Martians to pay for it. Why not? A thousand bucks a month just for walking-around money? Wahoo! You could help pump the GDP a little more by taking that dough to the nearest casino and investing it in the excellent economy-building activity known as blackjack. With a little luck, you might increase your nut sufficiently to get that longed-for sex reassignment surgery, to correct the clerical error that the stork made when you were dropped down the chimney.

Well, these are, after all, only my own personal August fantasies. I await September with as much excitement as all y’all. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m lashing myself to the mast and awaiting heavy seas.

Economics / Tax Cuts Bust ‘Secular Stagnation’
« on: July 30, 2018, 05:01:46 AM »

Tax Cuts Bust ‘Secular Stagnation’

July 29, 2018 2:47 p.m. ET

Are low taxes key to a booming economy? Their success is harder than ever to deny after Friday’s report that the U.S. economy grew 4.1% in the second quarter, bringing the average quarterly growth rate during the Trump presidency to 2.9%. This explosive growth, and the accompanying spikes in hiring and wages, should finally discredit three popular claims made by opponents of the president’s policies: that tax cuts would blow a hole in the deficit, that corporate tax cuts would serve only rich investors, and that secular stagnation was a valid excuse for the slow growth of the Obama era.

In the first five quarters of the Trump presidency, growth has been almost 40% higher than the average rate during the Obama years, and per capita growth in gross domestic product has been 63% faster. As usual, the largest single beneficiary of faster growth is the government. The Congressional Budget Office reports that faster growth under President Trump has already added $1.3 trillion to the 10-year federal revenue projection, with the CBO’s April economic adjustment alone showing an addition of $1.1 trillion—the single largest growth-driven revenue gain ever reported. State and local governments can anticipate a similar dividend, amounting to as much as $600 billion.

The CBO now projects that additional revenue from this economic surge will offset 88.2% of the estimated 10-year cost of the tax cut. That contrasts sharply with the CBO’s assessment that President Obama’s economic slump lost $3.2 trillion in projected 10-year revenues during his last three years—almost five times more revenue lost than was gained by his 2013 tax hike. These results have confirmed again that weak growth is the fastest way to lose revenue and strong growth is the fastest way to raise it.

The revenue trend shows that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was fiscally conservative as a tax cut but economically powerful as tax reform, as accelerating growth appears likely to cover its cost and more. Even better news is that the public revenue windfall comes not as a drag on growth but as a slice of larger gains. The CBO’s April revision projected an extra $6.1 trillion in GDP over the next decade—more than $18,000 of growth for every man, woman and child in America.

The next popular myth undone by the growth renaissance is that corporate tax cuts benefit only rich shareholders. Since the tax cut, the Labor Department reports that worker bonuses have hit the highest level ever recorded. The Commerce Department reports that wages and salaries are growing almost 25% faster under President Trump than under Mr. Obama. The recent tidal wave of customer rebates from utilities and cable companies also exposes the massive burden that high corporate taxes had been imposing on consumers.

The stock-market boom spurred by tax reform helps the middle class, too. A 2016 study in Tax Notes found that about 50% of all domestically owned corporate shares are in individual retirement accounts and pension plans—the nest eggs of working Americans. Another 17.6% of shares are held by nonprofits and life-insurance companies. Record dividends and buybacks could see total shareholder returns this year exceed $1 trillion, with the majority flowing to retirees or charities like United Way.

Perhaps the most important narrative discredited by the economic revival is the “secular stagnation” excuse. Throughout the Obama years, progressive economists said Americans had become too old, lazy and complacent to achieve the growth that was regular before 2009. But somehow American workers overcame all of these supposed weaknesses when Mr. Trump changed federal policy. The problem was not our people but our government. Stagnation is not fate but a political choice.

With any luck, the economic turnaround will bring the pro-growth wing of the Democratic Party out of hiding. Three times in the postwar era, Congressional Democrats joined Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton to cut taxes and enable growth. America could use that kind of bipartisanship again.

—Mr. Solon, a former policy adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell, is a partner at US Policy Metrics.  :icon_study: :icon_study: :icon_study:


What do 'real socialists' think of democratic socialists?
By Rick Moran

Democratic socialism has been much in the news lately what with the primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Bernie Sanders running around the country preaching that it's "Time for socialism."

But what do real socialists think of their ideas? Authors Anthony Davies and James Harrigan point out that Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders don't have a clue what real socialism is all about.

    “In Denmark,” he said, “there is a very different understanding of what ‘freedom’ means.” Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen disagreed, pointing out in a speech delivered at Harvard that Sanders missed some important details in his attempt to make America Danish. “I would like to make one thing clear,” Rasmussen said. “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

    Sanders has a solid track record for ignoring evidence, and Ocasio-Cortez is following in his footsteps. She recently declared herself “not the expert on geopolitics” — while appearing on national television to discuss geopolitics. And despite studying economics, she remains confused as to how something as simple as unemployment is measured. What neither seems to realize is that they inadvertently make the case not for socialism, but for economic freedom.

    Economic freedom, the ability to engage in transactions free from government interference while simultaneously being protected from fraud, theft, breach of contract and other malfeasance, is at once a measure of limited and of effective government. While there is no perfect way to measure economic freedom, competing methods yield consistently similar results. The most recent of these, the Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, lists the United States as the 18th (out of 180) most economically free country in the world.

    This is far short of the No. 4 ranking the United States held in 2007, the decline from which coincided with a dramatic increase in the scope of the federal government’s power and spending following the housing crash.

The US has no "Five year plan." There is no total government control of labor and capital as there is in real socialists countries like North Korea or Cuba. There is, indeed, interference in markets by government in the US. But "interference" is not "control" and for either the left or the right to refer to what is being espoused by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez as "socialism" is just plain wrong.

The so-called Scandanavian Model isn't socialism either:

     Democratic socialists in the United States call for us to be more like Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Yet two of those countries, Denmark and Sweden, are more economically free than the United States, sitting at 12th and 15th in the Heritage rankings. Though at the bottom of the list for freedom from taxes (180th and 179th), Denmark and Sweden score much higher than the United States for freedom from government spending (13th and 3rd), effectiveness of their judiciary (9th and 5th), and business freedom (3rd and 11th).

    Socialism has a consistent track record for any who care to take a sober look. The Soviet Union and Venezuela tried it and disintegrated. China and North Korea tried it and suffered mass starvation. Every country that has ever tried socialism has either retreated toward economic freedom, or has employed mass violence to force its people to remain socialist.

    All of this should be perfectly obvious to American socialists, but they are as resistant to history as they are to economics. Consequently, they learn from neither.

Words matter. Definitions matter. Using the term "socialist" as a political attack on Democrats might be convenient shorthand but it's as irrelevant as when the left calls those on the right "fascists" or "Nazis." Without a general agreement on what these terms mean, there can be no intelligent conversation or debate about the direction the US should take.  :icon_study: :icon_study:

Not a great fan of Mr Smith. Consider him an ordinary commentator. He sure hits the nail on the head with this one though; these scuzz balls are destroying the country.  :-\

                       :icon_study: :icon_study:



Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis
| George Monbiot | Opinion

A mere two millennia after Roman politicians paid mobs to riot on their behalf, we are beginning to understand the role of dark money in politics, and its perennial threat to democracy. Dark money is cash whose source is not made public, and which is spent to change political outcomes. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, unearthed by Carole Cadwalladr, and the mysterious funds channelled through Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party to the leave campaign in England and Scotland have helped to bring the concept to public attention. But these examples hint at a much wider problem. Dark money can be seen as the underlying corruption from which our immediate crises emerge: the collapse of public trust in politics, the rise of a demagogic anti-politics, and assaults on the living world, public health and civic society. Democracy is meaningless without transparency.

The techniques now being used to throw elections and referendums were developed by the tobacco industry, and refined by biotechnology, fossil fuel and junk food companies. Some of us have spent years exposing the fake grassroots campaigns they established, the false identities and bogus scientific controversies they created, and the way in which media outlets have been played by them. Our warnings went unheeded, while the ultra-rich learned how to buy the political system.

The problem is exemplified, in my view, by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). In the latest reshuffle, two ministers with close links to the institute, Dominic Raab and Matthew Hancock, have been promoted to the frontbench, responsible for issues that obsess the IEA: Brexit and the NHS. Raab credits the IEA with supporting him “in waging the war of ideas”. Hancock, in his former role as cabinet office minister, notoriously ruled that charities receiving public funds should not be allowed to lobby the government. His department credited the IEA with the research that prompted the policy. This rule, in effect, granted a monopoly on lobbying to groups such as the IEA, which receive their money only from private sources. Hancock has received a total of £32,000 in political donations from the IEA’s chairman, Neil Record.

The IEA has lobbied consistently for a hard Brexit. A report it published on Monday as an alternative to Theresa May’s white paper calls for Brexit to be used to tear down the rules protecting agency workers, to deregulate finance, annul the rules on hazardous chemicals and weaken food labelling laws. Darren Grimes, who was fined by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday for spending offences during the leave campaign, now works as the IEA’s digital manager.

So what is this organisation, and on whose behalf does it speak? If only we knew. It is rated by the accountability group Transparify as “highly opaque”. All that distinguishes organisations such as the IEA from public relations companies such as Burson-Marsteller is that we don’t know who it is working for. The only hard information we have is that, for many years, it has been funded by British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris International. When this funding was exposed, the IEA claimed that its campaigns against tobacco regulation were unrelated to the money it had received. Recently, it has been repeatedly dissing the NHS, which it wants to privatise; campaigning against controls on junk food; attacking trade unions; and defending zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships and tax havens. Its staff appear on the BBC promoting these positions, often several times a week. But never do interviewers ask the basic democratic questions: who funds you, and do they have a financial interest in these topics?

The BBC’s editorial guidelines seem clear: “We should make checks to establish the credentials of our contributors and to avoid being ‘hoaxed’.” In my view, the entire IEA is a hoax. As the documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis has revealed (ironically, on the BBC’s website), when the institute was created, in 1955, one of its founders, Maj Oliver Smedley, wrote to the other, Antony Fisher, urging that it was “imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the public along certain lines which might be interpreted as having a political bias. … That is why the first draft [of the institute’s aims] is written in rather cagey terms”.

The two men were clear about its purpose: to become a public relations agency that would change society along the lines advocated by the founder of neoliberalism, Friedrich Hayek. It should not, Hayek urged them, do any actual thinking, but become a “second-hand dealer in ideas”. The IEA became the template for other neoliberal institutes. It was financed initially from the fortune Fisher made by importing broiler chicken farming into the UK. Curtis credits him with founding 150 such lobby groups around the world.

While dark money has been used to influence elections, the role of groups such as the IEA is to reach much deeper into political life. As its current director, Mark Littlewood, explains, “We want to totally reframe the debate about the proper role of the state and civil society in our country … Our true mission is to change the climate of opinion.”

Astonishingly, the IEA is registered as an educational charity, with the official purpose of helping “the general public/mankind”. As a result it is exempted from the kind of taxes about which it complains so bitterly. Charity Commission rules state that “an organisation will not be charitable if its purposes are political”. How much more political can you get? In what sense is ripping down public protections and attacking the rights of workers charitable? Surely no organisation should be registered as a charity unless any funds it receives above a certain threshold (say £1,000) are declared.

The Charity Commission announced last week that it has decided to examine the role of the IEA, to see whether it has broken its rules. I don’t hold out much hope. In response to a complaint by Andrew Purkis, a former member of the Charity Commission’s board, the commission’s regulatory compliance department claimed that the IEA provides a “relatively uncontroversial perspective accepted by informed opinion”. If the commission sees hard Brexit, privatising the NHS and defending tax havens as uncontroversial, it makes you wonder what circles its members move in.

I see such organisations as insidious and corrupting. I see them as the means by which money comes to dominate public life without having to declare its hand. I see them as representing everything that has gone wrong with our politics.

• George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

    This article was amended on 18 July 2018 to correctly attribute a quote.

2018/jul/18/dark-money-democracy-political-crisis-institute-economic-affairs  :icon_study: :icon_study:

Futurology / Concorde was Too Slow – Boeing’s Hypersonic Jet
« on: July 18, 2018, 05:59:00 AM »


Concorde was just too slow – Boeing’s Hypersonic jet will take you from New York to London in just two hours   :o ::)

Concorde was just too slow

Supersonic commercial air travel has been missing from the aviation industry Air France and British Airways retired the iconic Concorde from service 15 years ago. While companies like Richard Branson-backed Boom Technology and Aerion Corporation in partnership with Airbus are trying to bring back supersonic air travel, Boeing has gone one step ahead and revealed its plans to introduce a mind-bendingly fast hypersonic passenger jet in the coming decades. The Seattle-based company released the first sketch of an early prototype during a conference in Atlanta a couple of days back.

The term ‘hypersonic’ generally refers to speed of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound; that’s about 3,900 miles per hour. The Concorde was capable of Mach 2.02, taking three and a half hours to fly from New York to London. In comparison, the Boeing jet will take just two hours to complete the trip. Boeing said that the design rendering showcased at the conference is just a concept and the company is at least two decades away from the hypersonic jet taking to the skies. “Boeing is building upon a foundation of six decades of work designing, developing and flying experimental hypersonic vehicles, which makes us the right company to lead the effort in bringing this technology to market in the future,” said Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics at the Boeing.  :icon_study:


Treason? Get A Life! - The Automatic Earth
Posted by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Yeah, just keep ’em coming, right, so that when the last one falls flat on its face people will have already forgotten about it and instead focus on the new one. It’s been the modus operandi of the US MSM ever since Donald Trump emerged as an actual presidential candidate, and they haven’t let go.

They realize by now that it divides the nation, it costs them a large chunk of their potential readers and viewers, and creates chaos all around, but the bottom line is it makes them money. Because those people who fall into the echo chamber trap, tumble into it fast and furious, and will gladly pay to read yet another installment of how bad the man really is.

But it is getting out of hand, guys and gals, it is becoming a real and present danger to the -formerly- United States. The anti-Russia propaganda machine far predates Trump, but manufacturing an ever closer link between the two has proven to be a masterstroke of media genius.

That Vladimir Putin is an existential threat to the US and indeed the entire western world is a narrative taken straight out of Edward Bernays’ playbook. And it works like a charm. The problem is, it is also the biggest threat to peace anywhere on the globe that we have ever seen since WWII.

Putin is a patriot who came to the fore in mostly unexplained ways, named by American puppet Boris Yeltsin as his successor, only to save his country from US-induced plundering and restore Russia as a functioning country. Far from perfect, but functioning. Don’t forget that Russian life-expectancy fell by many years in the post-Gorbachev era. And then look now.

Yes, Putin uses some hard-handed tactics from time to time. He has no choice: the US threat to Russia is an ongoing one. There’s still a huge economic threat, of which US sanctions are but a minor part, there’s an intelligence threat, there’s NATO encroaching upon Russia’s borders.

Thus far, Putin has been able to counter them all. And his popularity among Russia’s population is far higher than that of any western politician. His people understand and recognize what he’s done and why he’s done it. He refuses for his country to be overrun and sold off to the highest bidders.

Just a few of the points of contention: Crimea – The US tried to take away Russia’s only warm water port. Putin countered with what through non-western eyes was tactical masterpiece; no violence, no shots fired, an election that saw an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to (re-)join Russia.

Connected to Crimea is Ukraine. Putin had -and has- to protect Russian-speaking people in the region. Who were going to be under threat from the very dubious, neo-nazi linked government installed by the US after the coup. All Putin has been able to achieve so far is a very brittle stand still. But ‘his’ people in Eastern Ukraine have strong links to the Russian area just across the border. He’s not going to sell them out.

Connected to Ukraine is MH17. The Netherlands commemorates the victims of the shooting down again today. Several years of investigating have come up with no conclusive proof, even if they say it has. The problem is that the investigation was -is- led by The Netherlands itself. You don’t let the biggest victim conduct an investigation.

What’s worse: the Ukraine was actively involved in the investigation, even when it was a potential culprit. Try to write that scenario into the plot of one of your favorite TV crime series. Won’t fly.

Then the novichok ‘events’ in the UK. Again, no evidence, but tons of allegations. And if Russia says it’s not guilty, everyone says and writes: of course they would say that. They get accused anyway. Still, no evidence is no evidence. the time that intelligence agencies were believed on their word is over. And they did it to themselves.

In the regard, it’s useful to see that Robert Mueller was one of the people who ‘swore’ that the Weapons of Mass Destruction ‘evidence’ against Saddam Hussein was real. We now know it was complete and utter fiction. Intelligence has overplayed its hand, and they won’t get it back for a long time.

People now realize they cannot be trusted. Well, not those who read and view the MSM, but then that’s sort of the entire point, isn’t it? That’s where the dividing line is being drawn. The CIA, FBI et al present a view of the world in concoction with the media that they think a sufficient number of people will swallow, and that’s really all they care for.

And boy, it is successful. The vitriol spewed over the Helsinki summit is something to behold. #TreasonSummit was a trending hashtag. For a meeting that was long overdue and aimed at calming down tensions. The by now very poorly named ‘social’ media play an ever bigger role in these things.

People can say whatever they want on them, without feeling they’ll ever actually be tested on their claims. One after the other, and each one trying to outdo the last. It all leads up to one particular worldview at the exclusion of all others. And again, that is very dangerous.

Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians, which just happened to coincide with the first meeting of American and Russian presidents in an exceptionally long time, has been shot full of holes by many commentators, see for instance Adam Carter and Aaron Mate, but those views won’t make it to CNN or the NYT.

But despite the fact that the indictment is hollow and riddled with holes, it’s been a large part of why people call Trump a traitor for meeting with Putin. It ties together their opinions, carefully built along Bernays principles over the past two years. It’s a Matrix, it’s a trap. But then they throw in another story, of a 29 year-old Russian(!) girl arrested for allegedly setting up links between Russia and the NRA when she was 24 or so, and that replaces the Mueller indictment in most attention spans. And so the carrousel goes on. The torture never stops.

See, the idea is that you get yourself informed and then form your own opinion. Not that you let others pre-cook and pre-chew your opinions for you. Still, once you’re inside the deafening echo chamber, that’s what inevitably happens. Because there’s so much one-sided innuendo in there, your head aches and you just give up all resistance. Just to have a quiet moment.

And so very many Americans end up believing that indeed their president is guilty of treason. Because so many pundits claim that he is. But how many of them understand what treason really is, how serious an allegation it is? Is doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? Because all those others say he is, and they can’t all be wrong. And the echo chamber gives you a headache.

This is where I should say that somebody better do something about this, but it’s hard to see what. The divide has grown into a chasm. And that both sides are equally to blame for that doesn’t excuse either side’s wilful blindness. But yes, I hear you, it makes them money.

Still, if a US president can no longer talk to another president without being accused of treason, you’re in a scary predicament.

At some point you’re going to need real proof. And Bob Mueller is not going to get it for you. That’s what his indictment of the 12 Russians, as well as the moment he released it, makes abundantly clear. Mueller is -forever- going to hide behind the ‘Trust me, I’m the FBI’ line. Well, he betrayed you before. Wisen up. Demand evidence.

We know Mueller betrayed America when he made false claims over WMD. We have no evidence that Trump betrayed his country, we have only allegations. He may be a poor choice for president, but that’s not the same thing.

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