Mapping The World’s Most Liveable Cities

If you want to move to one of the world's most liveable cities, pack your bags and book flights to Australia or Canada…

Infographic: The World's Most Liveable Cities  | Statista

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As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, The Economist assessed 140 major cities worldwide on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure, declaring Melbourne the most liveable city in 2017 for the seventh year running. Australia's second most populous city scored 97.5 out of 100. Vienna, the Austrian capital, came second and three Canadian cities rounded off the top five – Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary.

As well as those three Canadian cities, a total of three in Australia made the top-10 list (Adelaide and Perth as well as top-placed Melbourne). Interestingly, U.S. cities are notably absent from the top of The Economist's list with Auckland, Helsinki and Hamburg all boasting high liveability scores.

The Syrian capital of Damascus was at the very bottom of the ranking with a score of 30.2, along with Lagos in Nigeria (36.0) and Tripoli in Libya (36.6).

Schlichter: “Normal Americans Are Bored By The Fake Drama”

Authored by Kurt Schlichter via Townhall.com,

I took a week off from the milieu of political insanity to go out amongst the normals and chalk up another huge trial victory, and when I got back I was stunned – stunned! – to find that a consensus had formed that Nazis are bad. Beforehand, I had no idea where the establishment stood on Nazis, but now it's crystal clear. They hate Nazis because Nazis are bad. Everyone from CNN to Mitt Romney hates Nazis. I couldn't be prouder of an establishment that takes that kind of tough stand. They're going to hate Nazis, and they don't care whose jack-booted toes they step on!

I also learned that if you hate Nazis for being bad, you're not allowed to hate anybody else who’s also bad, because Nazis are so bad that you have to devote all your hating capacity to hating Nazis such that there's no room left to hate anybody else. Those hammer and sickle flag-carrying Communists? Well, you must love the Nazis if you hate them, because you have got to hate the Nazis with all your mind and all your heart since, as we learned this week, Nazis are bad. I'm so glad that our moral betters have this all figured out.

This new breed of Nazis – for whom breeding doesn't seem to be in the cards – is less menacing that the originals. Instead of schmeissers they pack Tiki torches – for reasons no one seems able to explain. The old Nazis invaded Poland and wouldn't leave; these invade their moms’ basements and will never leave. But apparently these 300 or so misfits and malcontents are a potent peril to our republic. I'm not sure if they themselves are a direct threat to anything besides the bottom line at a Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet unlucky enough to have them as patrons. The only thing scarier to its manager would be seeing Lena Dunham waddling in on a cheat day.

They are not utterly harmless; one of these cowardly morons ran over and murdered a woman, which fulfilled the media’s long-standing dream of being able to report on a terrorist who wasn't a radical Muslim, a Black Lives Matter fan, or a Bernie bro. But the fact remains that this scraggly collection of polo-shirted dinguses numbering in the dozens is less of a threat to our society than the gleeful attempt by the establishment and its media puppets to use the looming threat of the Third Helping Reich to crush all opposition to the status quo.

The establishment’s tactic is to paint anyone they dislike as Nazis and any ideas its members oppose as hate speech, all in support of a strategy of slamming shut the Overton Window on any kind of change. The media is running with it, and if you get on Twitter, anyone to the right of Maxine Waters is now a Nazi – especially if you dare observe that the fascist fatties are not the only scumbags out there.

Even after a week, CNN is still quivering and writhing in an earth-shattering Nazigasm. When it finally ends, I expect in the network to be cuddling and sharing a Virginia Slim with the New York Times. And everyone from Hollywood half-wits to the CEO of Starbucks are making clear that they disapprove of Nazis – and no one else.

It's also got the usual suspects of the wuss right activated. That's why you see needy Fredocons like Mitt Romney being retrieved from their well-deserved obscurity and sent out to dance eagerly for the nods and nickels tossed his way by the same media that said he gave people cancer. I don’t know, but assume the guys vying to replace John McCain as the leader of the Blue Falcon wing of the GOP, Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse, competed vigorously to see who could ignore violent leftists in order to signal the most solemn rejection of Nazis in a manner that validates the lying liberals’ premise that the Republican Party harbors Nazis. Of course, we saw another pathetic grasp at relevance in the form of finger-wagging by the has-beens at that failing cruise cabin sales organization,The Weekly Standard.

But this cheesy grab for short-term political advantage is much more dangerous than that motley collection of stormdoofuses. The Times is now running op-eds advocating the suppression of speech its coastal elite readership finds unappealing. Yeah, a newspaper advocating censorship seems like a smart long-term strategy. The ACLU has added an asterisk to its acronym that explains that the only civil liberties it's going to be protecting from now on are the ones exercised by people approved by its rich liberal donors. Yeah, abandoning the one thing that earned the ACLU grudging respect across the board, its free-speech absolutism, seems like another smart long-term strategy. Oh, and the tech twerps of Silicon Valley decided to take it upon themselves to decide what discourse may be discoursed. Yeah, that's a smart long-term strategy that couldn't possibly explode in their smug, goateed faces.

But what's the effect on normal people? Taking a break from Twitter and the media for a week to go be with normal people gave me an interesting perspective that I don't get when I'm surrounded by others invested in politics. None of them care. The exact number of times I heard normal people mention Nazis was zero. No one normal was talking about it, except on the occasional big screen I passed in my travels. No one normal was paying attention to the Wolf Blitzers or the Rachel Maddows. Everyone normal was living their lives, and this fake moral meltdown had no part in them. The fact that the whole thing is so ridiculous doesn't help it gain traction. Donald Trump is a lot of things, but a Nazi is not one of them.

And the idea that when there are two sets of idiots facing each other you can't point out that both sets of idiots are idiots just doesn't ring true.

Normal people are blessedly free of the little taboos that the establishment seeks to impose, like the one that forbids pointing out that the alt left is just as scummy and slimy as the alt right. The general feeling among normals is “A pox on both your basements.”

The Great Nazi Panic of 2017 will fade away when its sponsors realize that it's not having the effect on the mass of the normal Americans they hoped for. But that doesn't mean it hasn't caused grave damage. The establishment has, in its desperation to return to unchallenged supremacy, eagerly jettisoned its dedication to the concept of free speech. It might not work out the way they hope once there is a national arbiter of what may and may not be thought or spoken. After all, as we found out last November, the person you think is going to be wielding the power isn't necessarily the person who you thought was going to be wielding the power.

Owner Of The Plaza Hotel, Once Trump’s Crown Jewel, Hires Broker To Pursue A Sale

Here’s some news that might interest the President.

The Indian owners of the Plaza Hotel have hired a broker to tell the New York City landmark, according to the Wall Street Journal. The step is “a sign that a world-wide scramble among investors, celebrities and governments to acquire the property could be nearing an end.”

Perhaps more than any other property (Trump Tower included), the Plaza Hotel is emblematic of Donald Trump’s meteoric rise in the world of New York City real estate. The hotel had for years been an object of fascination for Trump, who reportedly jumped at the opportunity to buy it from Texas billionaire Robert Bass in 1988. According to the New York Times, Trump paid $400 million for the hotel, an unprecedented sum for a hotel at the time.

However, it would also eventually become a symbol of his debt-fueled brush with ruin, as the property was eventually forced into bankruptcy in 1992; in 1995, he bitterly agreed to sell it to a group of Saudi investors.

More than 30 years after Trump was forced to sell it, industry experts believe the hotel could fetch more than $500 million. However, that sum isn’t even close to the highest ever paid for a NYC hotel: Back in 2015, China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. bought the Waldorf Astoria for $1.95 billion to the highest price ever paid for a U.S. hotel, according to data tracker STR Inc. Now Anbang is being pressured to sell the Waldorf, along with its other foreign assets. Regulators are concerned that a foreign buying spree by Anbang and other Chinese conglomerates has left domestic corporations dangerously overleveraged.

“While it is unclear how much a buyer would pay for a trophy property like the Plaza, hotel investors and brokers suggest it could be one of the most expensive hotel sales on a per-room basis, a popular industry metric. By that method of valuation it could bring in more than $500 million.”

A representative of the company to told WSJ that a buyer has been found, and “a sale is under process and not yet competed.

Per WSJ, the list of potential buyers includes both the Qatari sovereign-wealth fund and Pras Michel, former member of the Fugees.

“Dozens of real estate moguls, foreign government funds and other hotel investors around the globe in recent years have looked into buying the Plaza after Sahara indicated it would listen to offers, according to people familiar with the matter.

 

A Qatari sovereign-wealth fund, a Shanghai municipal investment fund and Pras Michel, the Grammy-winning co-founder of the hip-hop group Fugees, are among those that have expressed interest, say people who have been close to the process."

Sahara Chairman Subrata Roy reportedly handled some of the negotiations while serving time in a New Delhi jail.

“Sahara founder and Chairman Subrata Roy, who spent two years in a New Delhi jail on contempt charges, even negotiated with potential buyers from the jail’s guesthouse, according to people familiar with the situation.”

According to WSJ, several interest parties walked away from talks early on because they didn’t think Sahara was serious about selling hotel (i.e. Sahara wouldn’t budge from its asking price, whatever it was). However, the hiring of a broker suggests that this time, they intend to close.

"Sean Hennessey, chief executive officer of the hotel consultants Lodging Advisors told WSJ that hiring a broker suggests that Sahara is, in fact, serious about pursuing a sale of its crown-jewel hotel.

 

“This suggests a commitment to consummate a transaction,” he said, adding that a professional broker handling the process “might draw people back that looked once and walked away.”

Because of its appearance in classic works of American film and cinema, the hotel has a cultural cache that few can match.

“It has been featured in novels like “The Great Gatsby” and numerous films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest.” Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles stayed there. John F. Kennedy’s sister Patricia Kennedy held the reception after her wedding to Peter Lawford in the Plaza’s ballroom.

 

Previous owners of the 110-year old property include hotelier Conrad Hilton and Donald Trump, who once compared it to the Mona Lisa.”

Unfortunately for the Plaza’s owners, they’re selling at a difficult time for the Manhattan real-estate market. As we mentioned above, Chinese authorities are cracking down on foreign real-estate transactions to stanch capital outflows that have helped drain the country’s foreign reserves and put pressure on its currency, the yuan. The effects of these new regulations have already begun to manifest: The average Manhattan hotel sales price in the first half of 2017 was about $515,000, down 26% from the recent peak in the first half 2015, according to data company Real Capital Analytics.

According to a team of analysts at Morgan Stanley, the Manhattan real estate market is headed for a valley as purchases of foreign-real estate by Chinese companies are expected to decline by 84% in 2017, and another 18% in 2018. The influx of Chinese buyers in the aftermath of the financial crisis helped drive bull markets in hot urban markets like New York City, London and Hong Kong.
 

The Imperial Collapse Clock Ticks Closer To Midnight

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

As I noted in last Friday’s piece, Donald Trump Finally Comes Out of the Closet, the firing of Steve Bannon represents the most significant event to occur during the Trump administration thus far. For the purposes of this piece, it’s important to review some of what I wrote:

Irrespective of what you think of Bannon, him being out means Wall Street and the military-industrial complex is now 100% in control of the Trump administration. Prepare for an escalation of imperial war around the world and an expansion of brutal oligarchy.

 

The removal of Bannon is the end of even a facade of populism. This is now the Goldman Sachs Presidency with a thin-skinned, unthinking authoritarian as a figurehead. Meanwhile, guess who’s still there in addition to the Goldman executives? Weed obsessed, civil asset forfeiture supporting Jefferson Sessions. The Trump administration just bacame ten times more dangerous than it was before. With the coup successful, Trump no longer needs to be impeached.

 

Here’s another prediction. Watch the corporate media start to lay off Trump a bit more going forward. Rather than hysterically demonize him for every little thing, corporate media will increasingly give him more of the benefit of the doubt. After all, a Presidency run by Goldman Sachs and generals is exactly what they like. Trump finally came out of the closet as the anti-populist oligarch he is, and the results won’t be pretty.

Of course, his cheerleaders will remain enthusiastically in denial about what’s happened to their hero, but Trump has been totally brought to heel, a fact that’ll become increasingly crystal clear in the months ahead. This is now your standard Wall Street and military-industrial complex run Presidency.

Last night’s announcement of a recommitment to the Afghanistan war is the earliest evidence that Trump has been completely castrated and will now play by status quo rules with little to no friction. This Presidency will very quickly begin to look like the fifth George W. Bush term (Obama was three and four), on every single issue of genuine importance to oligarchs. Wedge cultural issues will continue to be hyped up hysterically by the corporate media since people can’t help themselves from taking the bait. It’s the perfect way to divide and conquer the populace, while pushing through what they really want. Oligarchs could care less about the outcomes of social issues, which is why they intentionally and incessantly hype them up. They’ll do anything to prevent the public from coming together in opposition to war, Wall Street bailouts and elite criminality generally, and the public is very easy to manipulate. The quicker smart Trump voters wise up to what’s happened, the better.

If you haven’t watched Trump’s Afghanistan speech by now you really should. It’s not good enough to read anyone else’s summary, you need to hear it for yourselves. It’s only 25 minutes long.

As I started listening, I sensed myself getting angry. It was the same empty, bullshit propaganda I’ve been hearing from U.S. Presidents my entire life. This broken record of disingenuousness has become simply unbearable, and even worse, I know it’s going to work on millions upon millions of Americans. We refuse to think for ourselves, and we refuse to admit the obvious. There will be hell to pay for this ignorance and denial.

Trump begins by explaining to the American public why he made a flip-flop that would make Barack Obama blush. He claims there are three conclusions he came to as a result of his grand introspection and wisdom. Let’s tackle the absurdity of each of them one by one.

First, he says he doesn’t think the U.S. should pull out because “our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome.” Let’s revisit a few facts. First, at 16 years old, this is already the longest war in American history. It was a war started after the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil, and near the height the U.S. imperial power. Nevertheless, the war’s been a complete and total failure. It was a failure under Bush, it was a failure under Obama and it will be a failure under Trump. To believe that Trump will usher in an “honorable and enduring outcome” in Afghanistan is to say he will succeed where his predecessors failed merely because…he’s Trump. Not gonna happen.

His second conclusion is that he doesn’t want to repeat what he deems to have been the big mistake made in Iraq; namely, that the U.S. left too soon. This is extremely telling. He doesn’t talk about how the war was based on a gigantic lie pushed by neocons and the “liberal” corporate press from The Washington Post to The New York Times. The biggest mistake in Iraq was starting the war in the first place. If we can’t admit such an obvious lesson from Iraq, of course all the solutions we come up will prove to be failures. The American empire is running on empty, fueled by never-ending insanity and a drive to vacuum in billions exporting weapons. There’s no vision, no wisdom and absolutely no exit strategy.

His third point revolves around how Pakistan has become a growing problem due to its harboring terrorists. He demands a change of course and increased cooperation. Guess which country he didn’t mention? The greatest sponsor of Islamic radicalization the world has ever seen: Saudi Arabia. This once again proves that Trump represents the same old tired thinking that’s been running the U.S. economy and society into the ground for decades. This is now a 100% establishment Presidency, which will be completely defined by establishment thinking. In other words, imperial collapse is coming.

Then towards the end of the speech, Trump says the following:

In every generation we have faced down evil, and we have always prevailed. We prevailed because we know who we are and what we are fighting for.

Unfortunately, here’s the cold hard truth: We have no idea who we are, and we have no idea what we are fighting for. We’ve become the very evil he claims to be fighting against as the nation morphed into a pernicious, destructive, and immoral empire. This is the heart of the problem — we are constantly lying to ourselves. Of course, we’ll never set things on the right track if we can’t diagnose the disease in the first place.

We’ve torched our national treasure and goodwill by running around the world trying to push everybody around, and simultaneously institutionalized a corrupt and predatory neo-feudal society at home. We’ve ignored our own people in a foolish and self-destructive quest to maintain and grow empire and the results will not be pretty.

Finally, let’s end with a little something to contemplate.

Justin Trudeau To Refugees: There’s “No Advantage” To Entering Canada Illegally

Eight months.

That’s how long it took for Canadian Prime Minister and liberal hero Justin Trudeau to realize his promise to welcome all immigrants and refugees to Canada may have been a little short-sighted. After the prime minister proudly proclaimed on Twitter back in January that Canada would welcome all those fleeing “persecution and war,” the prime minister changed his tone this week when he warned refugees crossing into Canada from the US that sneaking into the country illegally wouldn't fast-track the process of granting asylum.

In the months that have passed since Trudeau made his famous promise, the number of refugees streaming over the border into the Canadian province of Quebec surged dramatically, straining local resources available to process their claims of asylum and provide necessities like food and shelter. The asylum seekers are primarily Haitians who fear that the Trump administration might revoke a special protected status implemented after the 2010 earthquake.

Here’s Trudeau, who was speaking at – of all places – a news conference before Montreal’s Pride parade:  

"If I could directly speak to people seeking asylum, I'd like to remind them there's no advantage," Trudeau said at a news conference Sunday in Montreal.

 

"Our rules, our principles and our laws apply to everyone."

 

Trudeau also stressed that anyone seeking refugee status will have to go through Canada's "rigorous" screening process.

The surge of migrants has overwhelmed both the Canadian legal system and the capabilities of local agencies tasked with aiding refugees. We reported earlier this month that Canada sent soldiers to a popular crossing site in upstate New York to help build a small encampment for newly arriving refugees. But beads have quickly filled up. According to CBC News, more than 3,800 people walked over the border into the province during the first two weeks of August, compared to the 2,996 who crossed throughout all of July.

As CBC notes, Unlike in the United States, Haitians have no special status in Canada, and about half of Haitians seeking refugee status in Canada have already been denied during the past couple of years.

Trudeau critic Michelle Rempel said the Canadian government too willingly ignored the brewing refugee crisis on its doorstep, and continues to play down the need to deal with the problem.  

“Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said Trudeau is downplaying the urgent need to deal with the surge in people crossing the border.

 

"They knew it was going to be a problem this summer. And their response has been building tent cities on the U.S./Canada border," she said in an interview with CBC News."

Too help alleviate the problem, Rempel says the federal government should increase funding for the IRB, the board that evaluates all asylum claims. Even before the surge at the border, the IRB was hopelessly backlogged, ensuring that claimants could remain in the country in a legal limbo while they waited for their hearing.

Allowing the department to process claims more quickly would remove this incentive for asylum seekers to cross illegally.

Still, given his professed love for immigration and multiculturalism, we wonder just how far Trudeau will go to stanch the tide of refugees. Will there be more soldiers and more camps? Or will Trudeau hire an army of claims processers to start kicking people out of the country – or at least ensure that those allowed to remain deserve to do so?

One thing's for sure: He's going to need to do something.
 

Freedom For The Speech We Hate: The Legal Ins & Outs Of The Right To Protest

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

 

– Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was very clear about the fact that he wrote the First Amendment to protect the minority against the majority.

What Madison meant by minority is “offensive speech.”

Unfortunately, we don’t honor that principle as much as we should today. In fact, we seem to be witnessing a politically correct philosophy at play, one shared by both the extreme left and the extreme right, which aims to stifle all expression that doesn’t fit within their parameters of what they consider to be “acceptable” speech.

As a result, we have seen the caging of free speech in recent years, through the use of so-called “free speech zones” on college campuses and at political events, the requirement of speech permits in parks and community gatherings, and the policing of online forums.

Instead of encouraging people to debate issues and air their views, by muzzling free speech, we are contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.”

This attempt to stifle certain forms of speech is where we go wrong.

As always, knowledge is key.

The following Constitutional Q&A, available in more detail at The Rutherford Institute (www.rutherford.org), is a good starting point.

Q:        PROTEST?

A:         The First Amendment prohibits the government from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Protesting is an exercise of these constitutional rights because it involves speaking out, by individual people or those assembled in groups, about matters of public interest and concern.

 

Q:        WHERE AM I ALLOWED TO PROTEST?

A:         The right to protest generally extends to public places that are owned and controlled by the government, although not all government-owned property is available for exercising speech and assembly rights. Places historically associated with the free exercise of expressive activities, such as streets, sidewalks and parks, are traditional public forums and the government’s power to limit speech and assembly in those places is very limited. However, expression and assembly in traditional public forums may be limited by reasonable time, place and manner regulations. Examples of reasonable regulations include restrictions on the volume of sound produced by the activity or a prohibition on impeding vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

 

Q:        CAN MY FREE SPEECH BE RESTRICTED BECAUSE OF WHAT I SAY, EVEN IF IT IS CONTROVERSIAL?

A:         No, the First Amendment protects speech even if most people would find it offensive, hurtful or hateful. Speech generally cannot be banned based upon its content or viewpoint because it is not up to the government to determine what can and cannot be said. A bedrock principle of the First Amendment is that the government may not prohibit expression of an idea because society finds it offensive or disagreeable. Also, protest speech also cannot be banned because of a fear that others may react violently to the speech.  Demonstrators cannot be punished or forbidden from speaking because they might offend a hostile mob. The Supreme Court has held that a “heckler’s veto” has no place in First Amendment law.

 

Q:        DO I NEED A PERMIT IN ORDER TO CONDUCT A PROTEST?

A:         As a general rule, no. The government cannot require that individuals or small groups obtain a permit in order to speak or protest in a public forum. However, if persons or organizations want to hold larger rallies and demonstrations, they may be required by local laws to obtain a permit.

 

Q:        WHAT CAN'T I DO IN EXERCISING MY RIGHTS TO PROTEST?

A:         The First Amendment protects the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly. The First Amendment does not provide the right to conduct a gathering at which there is a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, interference with traffic on public streets or other immediate threat to public safety.

 

Q:      AM I ALLOWED TO CARRY A WEAPON OR FIREARM AT DEMONSTRATION OR PROTEST?

A:         Your right to have a weapon at a protest largely depends state law and is unlikely to be protected by the First Amendment. Not all conduct can be considered “speech” protected by the First Amendment even if the person engaging in the conduct intends to express an idea. Most courts have held that the act of openly carrying a weapon or firearm is not expression protected by the First Amendment. That said, even if possession of weapons is allowed, their presence at demonstrations and rallies can be intimidating and provocative and does not help in achieving a civil and peaceful discourse on issues of public interest and concern.

 

Q:        WHAT CAN’T THE POLICE DO IN RESPONDING TO PROTESTERS?

A:         In recent history, challenges to the right to protest have come in many forms. In some cases, police have cracked down on demonstrations by declaring them “unlawful assemblies” or through mass arrests, illegal use of force or curfews. Elsewhere, expression is limited by corralling protesters into so-called “free-speech zones.” New surveillance technologies are increasingly turned on innocent people, collecting information on their activities by virtue of their association with or proximity to a given protest. Even without active obstruction of the right to protest, police-inspired intimidation and fear can chill expressive activity and result in self-censorship. All of these things violate the First Amendment and are things the police cannot do to censor free speech. Unless the assembly is violent or violence is clearly imminent, the police have limited authority under the law to shut down protesters.

Clearly, as evidenced by the recent tensions in Charlottesville, Va., we’re at a crossroads concerning the constitutional right to free speech.

Yet as Benjamin Franklin warned, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, ensuring freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society.

If ever there were a time for us to stand up for the right to speak freely, even if it’s freedom for speech we hate, the time is now.