TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, now in a rare fifth year as leader, is battling scandals on two separate fronts as questions swirl about his ties to a nationalist school involved in a murky land deal and his defense minister faces calls to resign.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday for a White House meeting that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance and shape the working relationship between two of the world’s most powerful leaders.
Growing up in a dominant Italian household, with pasta served every god damned night, I never bonded with my Irish side. My Father had died when I was 4, so I never got to know him or his side of the family. It was only when I got older did I begin to embrace my Irish side — especially on St. Paddy’s Day — a day designated for everyone to embrace the Irish culture. It might bemuse you to learn that I regale myself in all of the traditional accouterments — a full blown leprechaun trotting around in green garb, with dastardly designs at becoming as drunk as humanly possible.
Over the years, I’ve had many memorable St. Paddy’s days, none of which included the fag parade. Typically, upon waking up, I toss the corned beef in a pot brimming with water, beer, and mustard seeds. After several hours of boiling the bastard, I always open up another beer (maybe 2) and pour it into the pot. Spending my time wisely, I drink a half dozen beers in record time — write a bunch of shit on the internet, trade a few stocks, then I peel a bunch of potatoes and dice up some cabbage.
Making sure the beef is progressing according to schedule, I open the pot and poke at it — as if I know what the hell I’m doing. Then I simply drop all of the potatoes and cabbage into the pot, cover it, and then forget it ever existed for the next two hours or so.
Dinner is well on its way.
My house is usually filled with guests, all wanting to eat boiled food and drink lots of strong beer, so we make more than one pot of corned beef. Sometimes I crock pot one — or as my good friend likes to say, when pretending to be a world class chef, ‘slow cook’ it.
Soon enough, the company begins to pile in — most clad in green garments or off-white cable knit sweaters — looking like old seamen just back from a month at sea. “How was the catch?”, I ask them. “Pretty good lad — now get me a fargin’ beer, would ya?”
We’re playing the songs from the old country, naturally. Here are a few crowd pleasers.
After we’ve been properly inebriated, the fatty meat, potatoes, and cabbage are served, liberally. People usually bring their own corned beef — so there’s plenty to go around. The music is blasting and the beers are being consumed at an industrial rate. Not before long, whiskey and single barrelled scotch are being passed around like bubble gum in a little league baseball dugout. The men venture outside to smoke a pipe or cigar, any sort of tobacco, and the rest of the night becomes a slow motion blur — intermingled between laughter, comical moments, and juvenile foolishness.
Alas, by the end of the night, we’re all Irish — outraged, mind you, by the treatment of ‘our people’ by those fucking Brits.
We wait one year hence and then do it all over again.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day. Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com
The toxic dollar is bringing hell in a handbasket.
Along with the student loan debt bubble and other major financial factors, the looming pensions crisis is bound to be the death of us all.
Because it’s based on a future promise to pay, it has long been a benefit dangled to solve strikes and union disputes – because, in the end, it is just more debt, whether private or public.
With tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities, the weight of an avalanche remains dangling over our heads. An aging population is cashing in on needed retirement benefits while the younger generations must support multiples that are unsustainable financially.
Somewhere between the retiree that needs clothing, food and lodging, and the bankruptcy of cities and state governments is the makings of the next economic crisis.
In 2014 a new Federal law made it possible for pension funds to cut benefits for their recipients.
[I]n October of  the canary in the coal mine fell over and died when Illinois announced that the State was posting pension payments because it ran out of money.
Fast forward a few more months and things have been taken to the next level. The Central State pension fund in Kansas became the first such fund to take advantage of the 2014 law as 400,000 Americans who depend on their monthly pension income to pay for such things as their mortgage, groceries and medical expenses saw an average of $1,400 per month sliced of their monthly benefits.
Unfortunately, there may be no avoiding some very painful lapses in checks in the difficult years ahead.
This is not a distant concern, but a system already in crisis.
Younger workers are being asked to do much more to support the pensions of retirees. An analysis by the The Post and Courier of Charleston noted recently that “Government workers and their employers have seen five hikes in their pension plan contributions since 2012, and there’s no end in sight.” (Most now contribute 8.66% of their pay, vs. 6.5% before the changes.) At the same time, the pension fund has been chasing more stocks and alternative investments instead of relying on stable investments like bonds that may be much less volatile but generate only meager returns.
And if that’s not troubling enough, South Carolina’s pension fund is far from alone.
California’s Calpers public retriree system is notoriously underfunded and doomed to implode. Chicago, Detroit and other urban wastelands are sagging under abysmal debt. Dallas, Texas pensions went insolvent. Puerto Rico is nothing but a propped up holding corp(se).
Something massive has been swept up just under the carpet.
Costco has to be the single best retail business in the world. A new Costco just opened in area and I signed up for their ‘executive’ membership card, which is something that I feel wholly ridiculous — but I did so nevertheless.
In order to attain the privilege of shopping there, customers must pay an annual fee. In an era where every retailer is tripping over themselves to attract customers, this concept isn’t dually brilliant and absurd.
Their private brand, Kirkland’s, has also attained legendary status — viewed by many as representative of value and quality. A new engine of growth for Costco is now enjoyed in wine, beer, and spirits.
Last year, alcohol brought in $3.8b, half coming from bullshit wine. This business has grown by 46% over the past 5 years, outpacing food and sundries.
“Private label continues to grow as a dominant strategy in retail — especially when it migrates from being a ‘label’ to more of a ‘brand,’ which Kirkland has done,” said David Bassuk, managing director at consulting firm AlixPartners in New York. “Now it’s a well-known name and gives the consumer a perception of value and a good deal.”
The reason for their success lies in the perceived value. The company only marks up prices by 10-14% compared to industry norms of 25-40%.
“They’re doing the opposite of looking to cut corners,” he said. “They’re looking for maximum quality and minimum markup to drive value for the member.”
Other retailers like Whole Foods, Walmart, and Target have entered the private label business for booze too and have enjoyed success, thanks to America’s proclivity to drink themselves into stupors. Even still, Costco is widely regarded as the winner in this high growth space — clawhammering local liquor stores into a thousand pieces wherever they encounter them.
Both the stock and revenue/earnings trends have been steady eddy, in spite of an overall lackluster retail environment.
Ancillary beneficiaries are $STZ, $DEO and BF-b.
Happy pre St. Paddy’s day. Content originally generated at iBankCoin.com
Over the years I have heard the word “tribalism” used consistently as a way to deride and attack conservative groups with political stances outside the boundaries of globalization. Many readers have been exposed to this propaganda recently as “tribalism” becomes the go-to denouncement of the Trump Administration. From The Atlantic to CNBC to The Washington Post and beyond, tribalism is used almost as often as the fascist label, and there are very specific reasons for this.
Tribalism (like nationalism and populism) has slowly but surely been falsely associated with totalitarianism, as if the two are synonymous. The use of “tribalism” as a dismissal of sovereignty concepts is a distinctly globalist and leftist habit; clearly, they hate the very notion of it, so much so that they have sought to turn it into a four letter word. But why?
The fact of the matter is, tribalism revolves around sets of principles; meaning, some people hold principles that are completely incompatible with other people's principles. Some principles simply cannot be reconciled with other principles, and they cannot coexist. Groups tend to form around principles, and thus, certain groups cannot live in close proximity with other groups. When they do live in close proximity, one will invariably absorb the other or destroy the other.
This is more likely to occur when two groups have diametrically opposing views rather than minor deviations and disagreements.
For example, the mass injection of millions of Muslim immigrants into European nations has in a very short period of time resulted in the steady decline of Western ideals and even the decline of legal frameworks in the areas where the immigrants concentrate. Sharia law is a direct antithesis to traditional Western values such as religious freedom, free speech, freedom of association, individual rights, economic independence, free markets, etc. (It is interesting to note that western socialists and communist ideals run parallel to Muslim culture when it comes to the desire to dismantle sovereignty.) The effects of this clash of principles are quite obvious at this point.
Sharia-based groups have been transplanted into the Western sphere in what I consider a deliberate Cloward-Piven strategy of cultural destabilization of Europe.
These groups do not assimilate, they devour the surrounding culture and turn it into something that sublimates in accordance with their principles. This is why the leftist and globalist call for “multiculturalism” is nonsensical. You cannot have two or more diametrically opposed cultures within the same society — one of them has to take precedence over all the others. Globalists in particular KNOW this is the reality, and they use multiculturalism as a means to undermine nations specifically built upon traditional sovereign values.
Leftists are in most cases merely useful idiots that promote multiculturalism as a means of “penance.” That is to say, they believe that traditional western culture should be punished for past transgressions and in due course, phased out completely in exchange for a new utopian system.
Both leftists and globalists will often try to argue that if tribalism was not prevalent there would be no ill will between Muslims and Westerners or any other groups for that matter. But, as stated earlier, what they are glossing over is the inevitability of groups separating based on principals. The only way for all groups to coexist in close proximity in the multicultural paradise we are being sold is for ALL value systems to be eliminated except for one. And perhaps that is the point.
Globalists prefer an outcome in which traditional values are erased and replaced with a “new world order” mindset; a system that is rooted in collectivist suppression of individual liberty, where freedom is exchanged for “harmony;” one global tribe worshiping one global god — the state.
The existence of tribalism might lead to conflicts if opposing cultures are deliberately mashed together, but it also makes the formation of a single overarching tyranny very difficult. Globalists seek to irritate existing divisions and trigger chaos between groups because ultimately, they want to demonize the very concept of tribalism and make way for a one world ideal that fits THEIR agenda.
Leftists are decidedly less self aware on why they fight so hard against tribalism. They see cultural division of any kind on the part of the west as inherently evil. Ironically, when it comes to so called “victim groups” like Muslims, social-justice warriors will argue that their aggressively divisive behavior is off limits to criticism because you have to be “from that culture to understand it”. So, tribalism on the part of designated victim groups is beyond reproach, and tribalism on the part of westerners is a cancer that must be eradicated.
To reiterate, leftists love tribalism initiated by those they consider victim groups. They only hate tribalism when it is initiated by conservatives and the traditional western middle class. The double standard is evident.
Exactly what is happening here? Well, we are being given a false choice. We are offered tribalism at the cost of endless social crisis (which is being deliberately instigated), or, the erasure of tribalism and traditional principles for the sake of “peace.” No other solutions are being presented.
Liberty proponents like myself would point out that there is an underlying principle within natural law that could solve many of the problems that arise between groups with differing world views without sacrificing everything to join a one-world collectivist hive mind. That rule would be the “Non-Aggression Principle.” To summarize, the non-aggression principle holds that no person or group has the right to impose their beliefs or will on another person or group. The only time force of action is warranted is in self defense and the defense of innocents.
If a society was to operate by the rule of non-aggression, and people were to abide by that rule, then most groups and cultures could live peacefully. For the people who do not abide, removal from that society or nation would be necessary. This is the intrinsic advantage of tribalism in its purest form; tribalism allows us to discriminate against groups with destructive principles and behaviors, or against those that have different objectives. Some divisions are useful divisions. This allows for a group with shared goals to accomplish those goals without constant internal obstruction or sabotage. As long as the non-aggression principle is adhered to, tribalism is the ideal system.
Of course, there are certain groups that are incapable of accepting this dynamic.
Leftist ideology depends upon thought control and manipulation in order to remain relevant. Because their values are not based in logic or self examination, they don’t have the ability to win people over through compelling arguments; all they have are lies and force. When in power, they use the force of government. When out of power, they use the threat of the mob. If tribalism and the non-aggression principle were to thrive, the leftists in their current form would represent a failed group, and they would fade away.
Globalists see themselves as social architects, and an architect cannot function if his building materials will not cooperate. Globalism is impotent without the ability to impose will and the ability to undermine practical divisions between ideological opposites. Tribalism in the name of sovereignty and free society is an impassable wall to globalization. Their only option is to utilize and exploit groups that are anti-liberty as a weapon against existing societies that still have some basis in sovereignty. This is much easier to do when anti-liberty groups are organized within those free systems, or, when they are imported into them. A strong, free people cannot be destroyed from without, they can only be destroyed from within.
Social divisions are absolutely rational and healthy, and there is nothing “evil” or totalitarian about organizing only with people that share your values. The real evil comes from those that would suppress our values in the name of “harmonization” — there is no such thing. Globalists and leftists argue for the adoption and toleration of all ideologies and principles as a means to peace, but what they really want in the end is the erasure of all the ideologies and principles they see as disagreeable in order to make way for their own.
Canada has been applauded in recent months for its decision to lift visa requirements for Mexican ‘tourists’ as of December 1st. Rather than a visa, under Trudeau’s administration, Mexicans are now only required to have a so-called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) which can be purchased online for CAD $7.
As one media outlet praised, the move “provides a stark contrast to proposed policies from the US president-elect Donald Trump, who has said he will immediately deport between two and three million illegal immigrants and will build a wall along the US-Mexican border.”
Not surprisingly, news of the rule changes in Canada quickly made the rounds in the migrant community with one recently-deported Mexican nationalist declaring that “For those without documents, I think (the United States) is over. Now it’s Canada’s turn.”
Sure enough, in just the three months since Canada’s visa rules were relaxed, the number of Mexicans interested in “vacationing” in Canada has soared over 300%. Sure, who wouldn’t want to abandon the sweltering 70 degree heat in Mexico for a relaxing vacation in the frozen tundra of our northern neighbor in the dead of winter…it just makes sense. Per Reuters:
Canadian government data shows a tripling of Mexicans seeking to travel to Canada in the three months since the visa requirement was shelved.
It is not a firm indicator as many people could be genuine tourists. But tie it to a surge in calls and emails to immigration lawyers from recently arrived Mexicans looking for work permits, as well as the accounts of deportees like Rita and Mexicans already in Canada, and it suggests a new migration pattern may be emerging.
Seven immigration lawyers, consultants and activists told Reuters that requests for legal advice from Mexicans who had entered Canada since Dec. 1 had roughly tripled compared with the same period in 2015-2016.
Between December and late February, Canada has granted more than 61,500 eTAs (Electronic Travel Authorization forms) to Mexicans, about triple the number of quarterly tourist applications received in the year before the visa requirement was scrapped, official Canadian data shows. The true scale of Mexican immigration will only become fully apparent in June, when early arrivals on these eTAs are due to leave.
Flight bookings from Mexico to Canada also swelled 90 percent in January and February versus the same period in 2016, according to travel analysis company ForwardKeys, which reviews all major travel agency bookings. It is unclear what percentage of those bookings were made by people looking to work illegally in Canada.
Of course, the problem with relaxed immigration policies is not attracting additional ‘tourists’ to your country but getting them to go home once their invitation expires. As one migrant who recently immigrated to Toronto told Reuters, once his time as a ‘tourist’ expires he’ll have no choice but to “stay and work illegally.”
In 2015, Victor Avila, a 37-year-old architect from Oaxaca, returned home voluntarily from the United States after five years working illegally in Freehold, New Jersey. Shocked by the low wages in Mexico and traumatized by the local murder of his brother, he applied for an eTA.
Avila arrived in Toronto a few weeks ago and found work in a restaurant. He was in the process of applying for a work visa, but said he would stay on illegally for a year if it wasn’t granted.
“I think for many of us in Canada, there’s no other option but to stay and work illegally,” he said.
Unfortunately, while Canada’s relaxed travel requirements were applauded as an enlightened, progressive alternative to Trump’s xenophobic, racist approach to immigration, under the surface, Canada’s policies function much like Trump’s proposals. As immigration lawyers point out, while ‘vacationing’ in Canada is easy, getting a work visa can be nearly impossible and Mexicans with a criminal record are not welcome.
Many Mexicans believe the eTA is all they need to set up in Canada, but in almost all cases they are wrong, immigration lawyers said. The eTA does not even guarantee entry.
Even if they get past the airport, many low-skilled Mexicans hoping to work illegally are likely to be disappointed, lawyers said, noting that it’s difficult for those entering on tourist visas to get work permits without an employer’s sponsorship.
Some Mexican visitors told Reuters that Canadian immigration officials went through their phones and asked tough questions designed to trip up those seeking to stay and work illegally. While some got through, others were sent home.
Canada says those convicted of crimes, as well as gang members, are inadmissible, making it hard for criminally convicted Mexicans deported from the United States to enter.
Just ask Alejandro Becerra’s how accommodating Canada’s open-minded, progressive immigration policies are..
Alejandro Becerra’s experience is a cautionary tale for Mexicans dreaming of a new life in Canada.
The 30-year-old former bankteller from Mexico City got a job offer to work in construction in Toronto and flew to the city on Feb. 7 on an eTA.
Becerra told a border official at the airport that he was coming as a tourist and showed him his return flight. The official didn’t believe him and examined his phone, where he found messages discussing Becerra’s job in Toronto.
Becerra spent the night in a detention center, and the next morning he was taken in handcuffs to a plane that would return him to Mexico.
Perhaps Mexicans are learning that our ‘progressive’ northern neighbor isn’t so progressive after all…oh well, there’s always California.