SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian authorities on Sunday said they found a third body in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and accompanying floods that swamped the country’s east coast, as receding waters start revealing the human and economic cost of the storm.
Earlier this month, Harvard Ph.D. Jerome Corsi of InfoWars (@jerome_corsi) and a CPA “who worked for two years for a major U.S. accounting firm as an outside auditor for Freddie Mac,” confirmed a 2012 scheme hatched by the Obama administration to funnel hundreds of billions in dividends from Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to prop up the failing Obamacare program – by paying subsidies to insurers to remain in the system.
If you need to catch up on it, read the InfoWars article above or watch this 18 minute video:
The conclusion reached by Corsi and others is that this was probably illegal.
In fact, House Republicans actually sued the Obama Administration in 2014 over the fact that the subsidies to insurers weren’t appropriated by congress and won, which the Obama administration appealed. As Zerohedge and the Atlanta Journal Constitution pointed out last week, the Trump administration has until May 22nd to decide whether or not to pursue the appeal:
In 2014, House Republicans sued the Obama administration over the constitutionality of the cost-sharing reduction payments, which had not been appropriated by Congress. The lawmakers won the lawsuit, and the Obama administration appealed it. Late last year, with a new administration on the other end of the suit, the House sought to pause the proceedings — with a deadline for a status update in late May. –AJC
And a ZeroHedge analysis:
Of course, any decision to remove those subsidies would likely result in yet another massive round of premium hikes and further withdrawals from the already crippled exchanges where an astounding number of counties across the country have already been cut to just 1 health insurance provider. And, as we’ve pointed out before, higher rates = lower participation = deterioration of risk pool = higher rates….and the cycle just repeats until it eventually collapses. –ZeroHedge
Meanwhile, President Trump has made several Tweets since the Ryancare debacle in congress:
ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!
Simple question: what if Trump’s Treasury simply stopped the illegal dividend sweep NOW? It is the end of the 1st quarter, after all…
Not only would it force the MSM to cover Obama’s 2012 scheme to siphon funds from Fannie and Freddie, the stage would be set for far more sensible healthcare solutions from lawmakers who aren’t simply shilling for the industry.
GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – A judge this week ordered former Guatemalan dictator Efrian Rios Montt to stand for a second trial on genocide charges, this time for the deaths of some 200 people in the 1982 Dos Erres Massacre, human rights authorities said on Friday.
BEIJING (Reuters) – China called on the United States to respect international trade rules and improve cooperation and dialogue in reaction to two new orders by U.S. President Donald Trump calling for an investigation into trade abuses.
Connecticut could become the first US state to allow police to use drones equipped with deadly weapons if a bill opposed by civil libertarians becomes law. The bill, which was approved overwhelmingly by the state legislature’s judiciary committee on Wednesday, would ban so-called weaponized drones in the state but exempts police and other agencies involved in law enforcement, the AP reported. The legislation was introduced as a complete ban on weaponized drones but just before the committee vote it was amended to exclude police from the restriction. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, was reviewing the proposal, “however in previous years he has not supported this concept,” spokesman Chris Collibee wrote in an email.
“Obviously this is for very limited circumstances,” said Republican state Sen. John Kissel, of Enfield, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee that approved the measure Wednesday and sent it to the House of Representatives. “We can certainly envision some incident on some campus or someplace where someone is a rogue shooter or someone was kidnapped and you try to blow out a tire.”
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Details on how law enforcement could use drones with weapons would be spelled out in new rules to be developed by the state Police Officer Standards and Training Council. Officers also would have to receive training before being allowed to use drones with weapons.
North Dakota is the only state that allows police to use weaponized drones, but limits the use to “less lethal” weapons, including stun guns, rubber bullets and tear gas.
Currently five states – Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin – prohibit anyone from using a weaponized drone, while Maine and Virginia ban police from using armed drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several other states have restricted drone use in general. So far, 36 states have enacted laws restricting drones and an additional four states have adopted drone limits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Meanwhile, concerns are growing about potential unchecked police brutality and death raining from the robotic skies: civil libertarians and civil rights activists are lobbying to restore the bill to its original language before the full House vote Reuters adds.
“Data shows police force is disproportionately used on minority communities, and we believe that armed drones would be used in urban centers and on minority communities,” said David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut. “We would be setting a dangerous precedent,” McGuire added. “It is really concerning and outrageous that that’s being considered in our state legislature. Lethal force raises this to a level of real heightened concern.”
“That’s not the kind of precedent we want to set here,” McGuire said of the prospect that Connecticut would become the first state to allow police to use lethally armed drones.
Others echoed McGuire’s concerns: “We have huge concerns that they would use this new technology to abuse our communities,” said Scot X. Esdaile, president of state chapter of the NAACP. Esdaile said he has received calls from around the country from NAACP officials and others concerned about the Connecticut legislation.
Three police departments in the state – Hartford, Plainfield and Woodbury – began using drones within the past year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
For now, however, the proposal is unlikely to unleash scenes out of some Robocop spinoff: The bill includes restrictions on drone use and reporting requirements that are supported by the ACLU.
It would require police to get a warrant before using a drone, unless there are emergency circumstances or the person who is the subject of the drone use gives permission. It also would require police to report yearly on how often they use drones and why, and create new crimes and penalties for criminal use of drones, including voyeurism.
Furthermore, final passage is not assured: although the bill overwhelmingly passed the Judiciary Committee, several members said they just wanted to see the proposal get to the House floor for debate. They said they had concerns about police using deadly force with drones. If Connecticut’s Democratic-controlled House passes the bill it will move to the Senate, which is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
“I think that police are taught one thing,” said Democratic Bridgeport Sen. Edwin Gomes. “You put a weapon in their hand, they shoot center mass, they shoot to kill. If it’s going to be used, you’re going to use it to kill somebody.”
Finally, for those wondering how a drone could possibly shoot, the following video of a drone shooting a gun – appropriately enough in Connecticut – should answer that question.
The beautiful thing about data visualization is that it can appear deceptively simple, writes VisualCapitalist's Jeff Desjardin. The world is infinitely complex and burgeoning with all kinds of information. As a result, it seems counterintuitive that things can be reduced to a basic bubble chart or a graph – and to be fair, most things can’t. When the opportunity does arise, however, the results can be very compelling and thought-provoking. A distilled story can help create insight around a subject that wasn’t possible when looking at it with more nuance and complexity.
THE POPULATION OF EVERY COUNTRY IN BUBBLES
Today’s visualization comes from Datashown, and it helps to give some perspective on world population.
It’s a deceptively simple visualization, but the story that gets distilled is loud and clear:
The beauty lies in the simplicity – and although all countries are represented, only the labels of the biggest are shown.
If you want to dive into the granular data, here is an interactive version of the same diagram, with all countries and population statistics embedded.
ZOOMING IN ON THE UNITED STATES
On the above bubble chart, envision “zooming in” on the circle representing the United States, which is located just below China and India.
Here’s the population of every U.S. county. Click the image for an interactive version, from Overflow Data.
Feeling small yet?
Just for fun – here’s a video that notches it up to a more universal level:
After slamming NBC’s coverage of the “Fake Trump/Russia story”, congratulating the NYTimes for “finally getting it” on Obamacare, Trump on Saturday commented on the previously discussed Fox News story about a “very senior, very well known” U.S. intelligence official who was allegedly involved in unmasking the names of Trump associates, and who had reprotedly surveilled Trump before the nomination.
“Wow, @FoxNews just reporting big news. Source: ‘Official behind unmasking is high up. Known Intel official is responsible. Some unmasked not associated with Russia. Trump team spied on before he was nominated. If this is true, does not get much bigger. Would be sad for U.S.,” he added.
Wow, @FoxNews just reporting big news. Source: “Official behind unmasking is high up. Known Intel official is responsible. Some unmasked….
As discussed Friday night, A Fox News source (unnamed, because these days that’s all there is, just ask the NYT and Wapo) said that the U.S. official behind the systematic unmasking of Trump associates and private individuals was “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world” and was doing so for political, not nationa security reasons, intent on “hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team.” In other words, another intel agency war between the old, pro-Hillary Clinton, guard and the new administration.
Additionally, the Friday Fox News report cited “a number of sources” with claims that not only were the two White House officials not the sources of the information shared with Nunes, but that Nunes knew of the information in January, and that the agencies where the information came from had blocked Nunes from gaining access to it. Further, the report cited officials within the agencies who said they were frustrated with the spreading of names for political purposes.
“Our sources, who have direct knowledge of what took place, were upset because those two individuals, they say, had nothing to do with the outing of this information,” Fox reported.
“We’ve learned that the surveillance that led to the unmasking of what started way before President Trump was even the GOP nominee,” Fox News reported Adam Housley said. “The person who did the unmasking, I’m told, is very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world and is not in the FBI.”
“This led to other surveillance which led to multiple names being unmasked. Again these are private citizens in the United States,” said Housley. “This had nothing to do with Russia, I’m told, or foreign intelligence of any kind.”
“Fox also learned that an individual with direct knowledge that after Nunes had been approached by his source, the agencies basically would not allow him in at all,” said Housley.
Understandably, the Fox News report has gotten zero media attention on any other news outlet.
Intel Official Behind “Unmasking” Of Trump Associates Is “Very Senior, Very Well Known”
Day after day, various media outlets, well really mostly the NYT and WaPo, have delivered Trump-administration-incriminating, Russia-link-related tape bombs sourced via leaks (in the hope of keeping the narrative alive and “resisting.”). It now turns out, according to FXN report, that the US official who “unmasked” the names of multiple private citizens affiliated with the Trump team is someone “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world.”
As Malia Zimmerman and Adam Housley report, intelligence and House sources with direct knowledge of the disclosure of classified names (yes, yet another “unnamed source”) said that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, now knows who is responsible – and that person is not in the FBI (i.e. it is not James Comey)
Housley said his sources were motivated to come forward by a New York Times report yesterday which reportedly outed two people who helped Nunes access information during a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building.However, Housley’s sources claim the two people who helped Nunes “navigate” to the information were not his sources. In fact, Nunes had been aware of the information since January (long before Trump’s ‘wiretap’ tweet) but had been unable to view the documents themselves because of “stonewalling” by the agencies in question.
Our sources: This surveillance that led to the unmasking of private names of American citizens started before Trump was the GOP nominee.
For a private citizen to be “unmasked,” or named, in an intelligence report is extremely rare. Typically, the American is a suspect in a crime, is in danger or has to be named to explain the context of the report.
“The main issue in this case, is not only the unmasking of these names of private citizens, but the spreading of these names for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security or an investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election,” a congressional source close to the investigation told Fox News.
The White House, meanwhile, is urging Nunes and his colleagues to keep pursuing what improper surveillance and leaks may have occurred before Trump took office. They’ve been emboldened in the wake of March 2 comments from former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas, who on MSNBC suggested her former colleagues tried to gather material on Trump team contacts with Russia.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday her comments and other reports raise “serious” concerns about whether there was an “organized and widespread effort by the Obama administration to use and leak highly sensitive intelligence information for political purposes.”
“Dr. Farkas’ admissions alone are devastating,” he said.
The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence.
Furthermore, Farkas effectively corroborated a New York Times article from early March which cited “Former American officials” as their anonymous source regarding efforts to leak this surveillance on the Trump team to Democrats across Washington DC.
* * *
In addition, citizens affiliated with Trump’s team who were unmasked were not associated with any intelligence about Russia or other foreign intelligence, sources confirmed. The initial unmasking led to other surveillance, which led to other private citizens being wrongly unmasked, sources said.
“Unmasking is not unprecedented, but unmasking for political purposes … specifically of Trump transition team members … is highly suspect and questionable,” according to an intelligence source. “Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong. After Trump was elected, they decided they were going to ruin his presidency by picking them off one by one.”
* * *
So if the source isn’t Comey, has anyone seen Jim Clapper recently? The answer should emerge soon, meanwhile the ridiculous game with very high stakes of spy vs spy, or in this case source vs source, continues.
The U.S. Retirement Market is in BIG TROUBLE as annual benefits paid out are now larger than total contributions. Actually, the amount of net withdrawals were the highest in history. When payouts become larger than contributions… then we have the making of the typical PONZI SCHEME.
Americans who have invested their hard-earned money into a 401K, had no idea that it was the Greatest Ponzi Scheme in history. Unfortunately, when the markets crack, so will the value of the U.S. Retirement market. On the other hand, Americans who were wise enough to purchase physical precious metals will protect their wealth as the U.S. Paper Retirement Market collapses.
According to the most recent data by the ICI – Investment Company Institute, the U.S. Retirement Market ballooned to a new record high of $25.3 trillion at the end of 2016:
As we can see, the U.S. Retirement Market has nearly doubled since the collapse of the Housing & Banking sectors in 2008. Total value of the U.S. Retirement Market increased from a low of $13.9 trillion in 2008 to $25.3 trillion at the end of 2016. It’s not quite double… but close enough.
Furthermore, the surge in U.S. Retirement assets from $19.7 trillion in 2012 to $22.6 trillion in 2013 was due to the Federal Reserve QE 3 policy (Quantitative Easing #3). This was the year that the monetary stimulus was funneled into the Stock, Bond and Real Estate Market and away from the precious metals. Thus, the precious metals suffered huge price declines in 2013.
As Americans continue to contribute into their “supposed” retirement plans, few realize that more funds are now heading out than going in. This is not a good sign at all. If we look at the most recent data from the Investment Company Institute, Americans contributed a total of $373.6 billion into their Private Sector DC Plans in 2014 versus total benefits paid out of $402.3 billion. Which means, net contributions were a negative $28.7 billion… the highest on record:
The grey bars represent total contributions while the red line shows total benefits paid. The net result is shown in the GREEN & RED bars at the lower part of the chart. Green bars are positive net contributions, while the red bars are net withdrawals. Unfortunately, the Investment Company Institute does not provide data for 2015 or 2016 yet. It will be interesting to see if these net withdrawals continue to increase. My gut tells me that they most likely have.
NOTE: The majority of the Private-Sector DC Plans were 401k’s, which accounted for roughly 98% of total contributions and 91% of total benefits paid.
So, why is the U.S. Retirement Market is BIG TROUBLE? Well, if we look at the next chart, we find our answer:
The chart shows that the U.S. Retirement Market has increased right along with surge in total U.S. public debt. Thus, the U.S. Retirement Market’s value is being propped up by debt. As the U.S. debt exploded from $875 billion in 1980 to $20 trillion currently, the U.S. Retirement Market surged from $822 billion to $25.3 trillion during the same time period. We must remember the following:
DEBT IS NOT AN ASSET. Also, the true value is subtracting total debt from total assets
Thus, if we just applied simple math here, the U.S. Retirement market’s net value is approximately $5 trillion… 80% less than what it is currently. And that $5 trillion figure is likely inflated. I do realize I am making a very general calculation here, but DEBTS are not ASSETS.
I discussed this in my recent interview on the Hagmann Report, which I highly recommend watching if you haven’t already:
The reason the U.S. Retirement Market is a huge Ponzi Scheme is that it has stored “Digital IOU’s” rather than real physical wealth. A typical stock price is based on “Net Present Value.” They take the future value of the company’s earnings and give it a price today. Unfortunately, companies earnings are based on the burning energy in the future. There lies the rub.
Back during the 1930’s, most stock prices were based on the BOOK VALUE. Basically, what the value of the company was worth if all its assets were sold. Today, a stock price is based on EARNINGS. Earnings can and will implode when the markets crack due to massive debt and falling oil production.
However, the few Americans who were wise enough to purchase physical precious metals rather than put their money into the Greatest Ponzi Scheme in history, will be protect wealth while most paper assets disintegrate.
$100,000 Physical Gold Investment vs $100,000 Invested in 401K
If an American decided to purchase $100,000 in physical gold over the past 30 years, they would have a true physical asset that they can sell close to that $100,000 figure. If an American had $100,000 in their 401K, they would have to pay a 10% penalty for early withdrawal. While a 401K withdrawal is taxed as regular income compared to physical gold taxed at a maximum of 28% capital gains, at least you can hold onto nearly three-quarters of your wealth (likely much higher percentage).
That being said, once the market crash occurs, the value of most American’s retirement assets are going to implode. I would not be surprised to see at least 50-75% collapse (or more) in the typical U.S. Retirement Account. Thus, the $100,000 invested in a 401K could fall to a low of $25,000, while $100,000 invested in physical gold, could easily double to $200,000.
Actually, this is the likely outcome. Mark my words. A typical American who has invested $100,000 into a typical 401K will find that his or her retirement account will fall to one-tenth its value versus someone who purchased physical gold instead. The coming collapse of the U.S. and Global Oil Industries, due to lower oil prices, will be the factor that destroys the U.S. Retirement Ponzi Scheme. It is not a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN.
Please continue to check back at the SRSrocco Report as I will be providing updates on the continued disintegration of the U.S. and Global Oil Industry. Paying attention to what is taking place in the Energy Industry will provide CLUES to the timing of the Market Collapse.
Reagan’s top economic adviser David Stockman explains why Trump’s tax cuts… and his stimulus plan… are dead on arrival.
The mules of Wall Street were back at it again, buying the dips after the overnight whoosh downward in the futures market. Apparently, it will take an actual two-by-four between the eyes to break a habit that has been working for 96 months now since the March 2009 post-crisis bottom.
We think it is plain as day, however, that we are in a new ball game that the "stimulus-blinded” mules don’t see coming at all. To wit, they have been juiced for eight years running by the Keynesian apparatchiks at the Fed who needed permission from exactly no one to run the printing presses full tilt or to rescue the market with a new round of QE or an extension of ZIRP whenever the indices began to wobble.
But now, even the money printers have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they are done for this cycle, anyway, and that they will be belatedly but consistently raising interest rates for what ought to be a truly scary reason.
That is, the denizens of the Eccles Building have finally realized that they have not outlawed the business cycle after all and need to raise rates toward 2-3% so that they have headroom to "cut" the next time the economy slides into the ditch.
In effect, the Fed is saying to Wall Street: "Price in" a recession because we are!
After all, our monetary central planners are not reluctantly allowing interest rates to lift off the zero bound because they have become converts to the cause of honest price discovery—-nor are they fixing to liberate money rates, debt yields, and the prices of stocks and other financial assets to clear on the free market.
Instead, they are merely storing up monetary ammo for the next downturn.
But the Wall Street mules keep buying the dips anyway because they are under the preposterous delusion that one source of "stimulus" is just as good as the next.
And since the gamblers have now decreed that the "stimulus" baton be handed off to fiscal policy, it only remains for Congress and the White House to shape up and get the job done with all deliberate speed.
But they won’t.
Not in a million years.
The massive Trump tax cut and infrastructure stimulus is DOA because Uncle Sam is broke and the U.S. economy has slithered into moribund old age.
In that context, it’s not remotely the same as the 12 members of the FOMC sitting behind closed doors for two days jawing about the short-term economic weather; and then at the conclusion of their gabfest, ordering the New York Fed’s open market desk to flood the canyons of Wall Street with cash by buying another $80 billion of bonds with digital credits conjured from thin air.
Au contraire. Fiscal policy is inherently an exercise in herding cats and an especially impossible one when the cupboards are bare.
The essence of the matter at the present state of play is the legislative equivalent of "no ticky, no washy."
Without a 10-year budget resolution for FY [fiscal year] 2018 and associated reconciliation instructions, there is no possibility of passing a tax bill or even an infrastructure spending boondoggle.
But hammering out a budget resolution, passing it in each house, and reconciling the differences in conference would take months under the best of circumstances. But given the parlous state of Uncle Sam’s fiscal condition and the partisan acrimony that already suffuses Washington in the era of Trump, passage of a budget resolution by summer would be a miracle in itself.
Indeed, even the thought of surmounting this next daunting legislative obstacle course puts to rest this week’s particular Wall Street fantasy. Namely that after being burned by the Freedom Caucus on Obamacare Lite, the Trump White House will now "pivot" to the middle and form a coalition with the Democrats to make a deal on corporate tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
Yes, and if dogs could whistle, the world would be a chorus.
That is to say, there is no conceivable fiscal policy menu that could be agreed upon by Speaker Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the Donald, and then be shoe-horned into a 10-year budget resolution.
Yet without a budget resolution and reconciliation instructions, there is not a fiscal stimulus "ticky" and no grand bipartisan compromise on building airports and slashing corporate tax rates.
So what lies directly ahead, therefore, is another bumbling attempt by the White House and Congressional Republicans to hammer out an FY 2018 budget resolution and what amounts to a 10-year fiscal plan. And it is there where the whole fantasy of the Trump Stimulus comes a cropper.
There are not remotely 218 GOP votes for what would be a $12 trillion-13 trillion add to the national debt with the Trump Stimulus program over the next decade—-even with all the "dynamic" scoring and revenue "reflows" that are imaginable.
To be sure, this is why the GOP Congressional leadership stoutly insists on a deficit-neutral tax cut. They are keenly aware of the debt monster they have been kicking down the road—-even if the headline-reading robo-traders of Wall Street are not.
What that means, in turn, of course, is that the rapidly fracturing Trump/Republican coalition must find the offsets on the spending side of the ledger.
In short, the whole enterprise amounts to budgetary madness and demonstrates the monumental magnitude of the Debt Trap that has enveloped the Imperial City.
And the “buy the dip” crowd will soon be getting that two-by-four between the eyes.