Maxine Waters: “They’re Trying To Kill Me!”

California Democrat Maxine Waters thinks white nationalists and the KKK are trying to kill her.

At least she suggested as much during a House subcommittee hearing on terrorism and illicit financing when she asked what she and others could do about white nationalists and KKK members who threaten them on the Internet.

“What can we do to deal with the KKK, the white nationalists, the extremists, the alt-right?” Waters, who serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, asked during a Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance hearing. ‘They’re on the internet, they’re Breitbart. If you look at the YouTube, you see how much they want to kill me and others. What can we do?’”

“Extremists radicalized by foreign terror groups are not the only terrorists with the capacity to target and kill American citizens,” Waters said. “Indeed, domestic terror attacks have become more frequent in recent years.”

The hearing was intended to discuss “lone-wolf” terrorist threats, with a focus on the financial aspects of terror plots, according to PJ Media.

Seamus Hughes, deputy director for George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and former senior counterterrorism advisor for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told Waters that domestic terrorists are just as big a threat as foreign born terrorists.

“You should be worried about the Orlando shooters, the Omar Mateens of the world as much as you are the James Fields and the Dylann Roofs of the world,” Hughes said.

Waters responded by reeling off a long list of domestic attacks including the Ruby Ridge standoff in 1992, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting in 2009, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting in 2012, the Los Angeles International Airport shooting in 2013, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting in 2015, the Portland train attack this year and, of course, Charlottesville.

“Extremists radicalized by foreign terror groups are not the only terrorists with the capacity to target and kill American citizens,” Waters said. “Indeed, domestic terror attacks have become more frequent in recent years.”

Hughes, who testified at the hearing, described the creative ways in which domestic terror groups like an offshoot of the Aryan Nation finance their activities. The group robbed several armored vehicles in the 1980s and successfully laundered more than $4 million to be used in financing and arming white nationalist groups. Hughes explained how Army Private Isaac Aguigui murdered his pregnant wife in 2011, collected about $500,000 in insurance money and then purchased $30,000 worth of guns and ammunition for his militia group Forever Enduring Always Ready, a group that had planned to assassinate President Barack Obama.

Watch the webcast of the hearing below

The Era Of Complacency Is Ending

Authored by James Rickards via DailyReckoning.com,

Physicists say a “subcritical” system that’s waiting to “go critical” is in a “phase transition.” A system that is subcritical actually appears stable, but it is capable of wild instability based on a small change in initial conditions.

The critical state is when the process spins out of control, like a nuclear reactor melting down or a nuclear bomb exploding. The phase transition is just the passage from one state to another, as a system goes from subcritical to critical.

The signs are everywhere that the stock market is in a subcritical state with the potential to go critical and meltdown at any moment. The signs as elevated price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios, complacency, and seasonality — crashes have a habit of happening around this time of year.

The problem with a market meltdown is that it’s difficult to contain. It can spread rapidly. Likewise, there’s no guarantee that a stock market meltdown will be contained to stocks.

Panic can quickly spread to bonds, emerging markets, and currencies in a general liquidity crisis as happened in 2008.

For almost a year, one of the most profitable trading strategies has been to sell volatility. That’s about to change…

Since the election of Donald Trump stocks have been a one-way bet. They almost always go up, and have hit record highs day after day. The strategy of selling volatility has been so profitable that promoters tout it to investors as a source of “steady, low-risk income.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, sellers of volatility have made steady profits the past year. But the strategy is extremely risky and you could lose all of your profits in a single bad day.

Think of this strategy as betting your life’s savings on red at a roulette table. If the wheel comes up red, you double your money. But if you keep playing eventually the wheel will come up black and you’ll lose everything.

That’s what it’s like to sell volatility. It feels good for a while, but eventually a black swan appears like the black number on the roulette wheel, and the sellers get wiped out. I focus on the shocks and unexpected events that others don’t see.

The chart below shows a 20-year history of volatility spikes. You can observe long periods of relatively low volatility such as 2004 to 2007, and 2013 to mid-2015, but these are inevitably followed by volatility super-spikes.

During these super-spikes the sellers of volatility are crushed, sometimes to the point of bankruptcy because they can’t cover their bets.

The period from mid-2015 to late 2016 saw some brief volatility spikes associated with the Chinese devaluation (August and December 2015), Brexit (June 23, 2016) and the election of Donald Trump (Nov. 8, 2016). But, none of these spikes reached the super-spike levels of 2008 – 2012.

In short, we have been on a volatility holiday. Volatility is historically low and has remained so for an unusually long period of time. The sellers of volatility have been collecting “steady income,” yet this is really just a winning streak at the volatility casino.

The wheel of fortune is about to turn and luck is about to run out for the sellers.

The Trap of Complacency

Here are the key volatility drivers we have considered:

The North Korean nuclear crisis is simply not going away. In fact, it seems to be getting worse. It appears North Korea has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb last weekend.

This is a major development.

An atomic weapon has to hit the target to destroy it. A hydrogen bomb just has to come close. This means than North Korea can pose an existential threat to U.S. cities even if its missile guidance systems are not quite perfected. Close is good enough.

A hydrogen bomb also gives North Korea the ability to unleash an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). In this scenario, the hydrogen bomb does not even strike the earth; it is detonated near the edge of space. The resulting electromagnetic wave from the release of energy could knock out the entire U.S. power grid.

Trump will not allow that to happen, and you can expect a U.S. attack, maybe early next year.

Another ticking time bomb for a volatility spike is Washington, DC dysfunction, and the potential double train wreck coming on Sept. 29. That’s the day the U.S. Treasury is estimated to run out of cash. It’s also the last day of the U.S. fiscal year; (technically the last day is Sept. 30, but that’s a Saturday this year so Sept. 29 is the last business day).

If these two legislative fixes are not done by Sept. 29, we’re facing both a government shutdown, and the potential for a default on the U.S. debt. Time is short and my estimate is that one or both of these pieces of legislation will not be completed in time. This will certainly trigger a volatility spike and produce huge profits for investors who make the right moves now.

Even if the budget CR and debt ceiling get fixed under Trump’s new deal with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, that simply postpones the day of reckoning until December 15. That’s only three months away and will be here before you know it. Markets tend to discount the future so a train wreck on December 15 will start to show up in market prices today.

Congress has to pass two major pieces of legislation. One is a debt ceiling increase so the Treasury does not run out of money. The other is a continuing resolution so the government does not shut down.

Both bills could be stymied by conservatives who want to tie the legislation to issues such as funding for Trump’s wall, sanctuary cities, funding for Planned Parenthood, funding to bailout Obamacare and other hot button issues.

If the conservatives don’t get what they want, they won’t vote for the legislation. If conservatives do get what they want, moderates will bolt and not support the bills. Democrats are watching Republican infighting with glee and see no reason to help with their votes.

If these two legislative fixes are not done by Sept. 29, we’re facing both a government shutdown, and the potential for a default on the U.S. debt. Time is short and my estimate is that one or both of these pieces of legislation will not be completed in time. This will certainly trigger a volatility spike and produce huge profits for investors who make the right moves now.

Other sources of volatility include a planned “Day of Rage” on Nov. 4 when alt-left and antifa activists plan major demonstrations in U.S. cities from coast-to-coast. Antifa are neo-fascists posing as antifascists; hence the name “antifa.” Based on past antifa actions in UC Berkeley and Middlebury College violence cannot be ruled out. This could be unsettling to markets and be another source of volatility.

Finally, another monster hurricane could be bearing down on U.S. shores, just after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricane Katrina struck at the very end of August in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy hit the Jersey Shore in October 2012. Both did enormous damage and unsettled markets for a time. Now we’re facing two major hurricanes almost at once.

Other wild cards include domestic terror and cyber attacks.

Finally, we are entering an historically volatile time of year. Many of the greatest stock market crashes of all time have occurred in September or October including the Black Thursday (Oct. 24, 1929) and Black Tuesday (Oct. 29, 1929) crashes that started the Great Depression, and the Black Monday (Oct. 19, 1987) crash, in which the stock market fell 22.61% in a single day. From today’s levels, a 22.61% drop would mean a loss of 4,900 Dow points in a single day.

Don’t rule it out.

None of these scenarios are far-fetched or even unlikely. The war with North Korea is coming. Washington, DC dysfunction is a fact of life and we’ve had several government shutdowns in recent years. Social unrest is spreading and in the headlines every day. Hurricanes and terror attacks happen with some frequency.

It has been nine years since the last financial panic so a new one tomorrow should come as no surprise.

In short, the catalysts for a volatility spike are all in place. We could even get a record super-spike in volatility if several of these catalysts converge.

The “risk on / risk off” dynamic that has dominated most markets since 2013 is coming to an end. From now on it may just be “risk off” without much relief. The illusion of low volatility, ample liquidity, and ever rising stock prices is over.

The safe havens will be the euro, cash, gold and low-debt emerging markets such as Russia. The areas to avoid are U.S. stocks, China, South Korea and heavily indebted emerging markets.

It looks like a volatile and bumpy fall ahead.

U.S. Wants Shkreli Jailed After Offer Of Clinton Hair Bounty

Martin Shkreli might not be able to sell that Wu Tang Clan album after Federal prosecutors late Thursday moved to revoke his bail, claiming that the former pharmaceutical company CEO and purported “most hated man in the world” repeatedly threatened and harassed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on line.

Specifically, the Feds were incensed by what Shkreli says was intended to be a humorous post on his Facebook page offering a $5,000 bounty to anyone who could “grab” some of Clinton’s hair for him during her upcoming book tour.

"Shkreli's latest threat is concerning not only because it has required a significant expenditure of resources by the United States Secret Service, which is charged with protecting Secretary Clinton, but also because there is a significant risk that one of his many social media followers or others who learn of his offers through the media will take his statements seriously — as has happened previously — and act on them," prosecutors wrote in a legal motion.”

US District Court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, who presided over Shkreli’s trial which ended in him being convicted on three of eight counts of securities fraud-related offenses, ordered his legal team to file a response. She scheduled a Sept. 14 hearing for legal arguments on the issue.

Here's the post in question:

True to form, Shkreli trolled prosecutors in response published to his Facebook page: "Hillary Cliinton's presumptive agents are hard at work. It was just a prank, bro! But still, lock HER up. Spend your resources investigating her, not me!!"

According to USA Today, prosecutors also said Shkreli had continued to harass journalist Lauren Duca.

Shkreli had previously been banned from Twitter earlier this year, allegedly for harassing Duca, a freelance writer who had authored an opinion essay that criticized President-elect Trump. The day before his verdict, Shkreli wrote in a Facebook post: "trial's over tomorrow, b****. Then if I'm acquitted, I get to f*** Lauren Duca."

Secret Service agents sought to question Shkreki about his post, but he declined to meet with them, prosecutors wrote.

In what sounds to us like they’re reaching for justification, prosecutors cited a USA Today story recounting how a graduate student solved a complex mathematical proof after Shkreli offered a $40,000 scholarship to anyone who could.

"Shkreli's own prior actions, and his influence over others who have previously acted in reliance on his statements, demonstrate why the government views his latest actions with concern," prosecutors concluded in their bail revocation motion.

According to Bloomberg, Shkreli edited the Facebook post, saying it was "satire, meant for humor” after it was reported in the media.

His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said that while Shkreli’s posts may have been “inappropriate,” his client didn’t intend to harm anybody.

“We take the matter seriously and intend to address the issue responsibly,” Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Shkreli, said in an email Thursday night. “However inappropriate some of Mr Shkreli’s postings may have been, we do not believe that he intended harm and do not believe that he poses a danger to the community.”

Is it really any surprise that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, where Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was based and where Clinton friend (co-conspirator?) and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch once served as US attorney, are unwilling to let a joke about Clinton slide? Even if Shkreli remains free, the complaint is sure to cost him tens of thousands more in legal fees. Perhaps that's the ultimate goal.
 

Venezuela Is About To Ditch The Dollar In Major Blow To US: Here’s Why It Matters

Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday that Venezuela will be looking to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week, Reuters reports. According to the outlet, Maduro will look to use the weakest of two official foreign exchange regimes (essentially the way Venezuela will manage its currency in relation to other currencies and the foreign exchange market), along with a basket of currencies.

According to Reuters, Maduro was referring to Venezuela’s current official exchange rate, known as DICOM, in which the dollar can be exchanged for 3,345 bolivars. At the strongest official rate, one dollar buys only 10 bolivars, which may be one of the reasons why Maduro wants to opt for some of the weaker exchange rates.

“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.” He reportedly did not provide details of this new proposal.

Maduro hinted that the South American country would look to using the yuan instead, among other currencies.

“If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro also said.

Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves but has been undergoing a major crisis, with millions of people going hungry inside the country which has been plagued with rampant, increasing inflation. In that context, the recently established economic blockade by the Trump administration only adds to the suffering of ordinary Venezuelans rather than helping their plight.

According to Reuters, a thousand dollars’ worth of local currency obtained when Maduro came to power in 2013 is now be worth little over one dollar.

A theory advanced in William R. Clark’s book Petrodollar Warfare – and largely ignored by the mainstream media – essentially asserts that Washington-led interventions in the Middle East and beyond are fueled by the direct effect on the U.S. dollar that can result if oil-exporting countries opt to sell oil in alternative currencies. For example, in 2000, Iraq announced it would no longer use U.S. dollars to sell oil on the global market. It adopted the euro, instead.

By February 2003, the Guardian reported that Iraq had netted a “handsome profit” after making this policy change. Despite this, the U.S. invaded not long after and immediately switched the sale of oil back to the U.S. dollar.

In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi was punished for a similar proposal to create a unified African currency backed by gold, which would be used to buy and sell African oil. Though it sounds like a ludicrous reason to overthrow a sovereign government and plunge the country into a humanitarian crisis, Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails confirmed this was the main reason Gaddafi was overthrown. The French were especially concerned by Gaddafi’s proposal and, unsurprisingly, became one of the war’s main contributors. (It was a French Rafaele jet that struck Gaddafi’s motorcade, ultimately leading to his death).

Iran has been using alternative currencies like the yuan for some time now and shares a lucrative gas field with Qatar, which may ultimately be days away from doing the same. Both countries have been vilified on the international stage, particularly under the Trump administration.

Nuclear giants China and Russia have been slowly but surely abandoning the U.S. dollar, as well, and the U.S. establishment has a long history of painting these two countries as hostile adversaries.

Now Venezuela may ultimately join the bandwagon, all the while cozying up to Russia, as well (unsurprisingly, Venezuela and Iran were identified in William R. Clark’s book as attracting particular geostrategic tensions with the United States). The CIA’s admission that it intends to interfere inside Venezuela to exact a change of government — combined with Trump’s recent threat of military intervention in Venezuela and Vice President Mike Pence’s warning that the U.S. will not “stand by” and watch Venezuela deteriorate — all start to make a lot more sense when viewed through this geopolitical lens.

What initially sounded like a conspiracy theory seems to be a more plausible reality as countries that begin dropping the U.S. dollar and opting for alternative currencies continuously — and without exception — end up targeted for regime change.

If the U.S. steps up its involvement in Venezuela, the reasons why should be clear to those who have been paying attention.

*  *  *

This moves comes just days after The BRICS Summit where Putin unveiled his "fair multipolar world," which culminated, as Pepe Escobar explained, in the following

Meet the oil/yuan/gold triad

It’s when President Putin starts talking that the BRICS reveal their true bombshell. Geopolitically and geo-economically, Putin’s emphasis is on a “fair multipolar world”, and “against protectionism and new barriers in global trade.” The message is straight to the point.

The Syria game-changer – where Beijing silently but firmly supported Moscow – had to be evoked; “It was largely thanks to the efforts of Russia and other concerned countries that conditions have been created to improve the situation in Syria.”

On the Korean peninsula, it’s clear how RC think in unison; “The situation is balancing on the brink of a large-scale conflict.”

Putin’s judgment is as scathing as the – RC-proposed – possible solution is sound; “Putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile. The region’s problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions.”

Putin’s – and Xi’s – concept of multilateral order is clearly visible in the wide-ranging Xiamen Declaration, which proposes an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace and national reconciliation process, “including the Moscow Format of consultations” and the “Heart of Asia-Istanbul process”.

That’s code for an all-Asian (and not Western) Afghan solution brokered by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by RC, and of which Afghanistan is an observer and future full member.

And then, Putin delivers the clincher;

“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

“To overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies” is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar.

Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold.

This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan.

Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed.

RC – via the Russian Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China – have been developing ruble-yuan swaps for quite a while now.

Once that moves beyond the BRICS to aspiring “BRICS Plus” members and then all across the Global South, Washington’s reaction is bound to be nuclear (hopefully, not literally).

Washington’s strategic doctrine rules RC should not be allowed by any means to be preponderant along the Eurasian landmass. Yet what the BRICS have in store geo-economically does not concern only Eurasia – but the whole Global South.

Sections of the War Party in Washington bent on instrumentalizing  India against China – or against RC – may be in for a rude awakening. As much as the BRICS may be currently facing varied waves of economic turmoil, the daring long-term road map, way beyond the Xiamen Declaration, is very much in place.

Here’s Hartford’s Risky Plan To Strongarm Concessions From Its Creditors

After Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin had warned Thursday that the capital of the wealthiest state in the US could be broke in as little as two months, city officials scheduled a conference call with bondholders to begin restructuring talks, according to Bloomberg.

As we noted earlier, Hartford’s financial troubles have been compounded by a broader crisis in the state government. But the city’s yearslong descent into insolvency has been hastened by corrupt and incompetent political leaders, fleeing middle-class residents – and now the hollowing out of the insurance industry that once provided a crucial tax buffer. Last year, insurance giant Aetna announced that it intended to move its headquarters to New York City, though it would leave thousands of employees to continue working in Hartford, the decision was still a financial – as well as a reputational – blow.

According to Bloomberg, city officials, who’re being advised by law firm Greenberg Traurig, will try to convince creditors that restructuring is necessary to guarantee the city’s fiscal stability. Of course, to wrangle better terms from its creditors, it helps to have leverage. And in a recent column, the Hartford Courant’s Dan Haar reveals one “shocking” strategy reportedly being contemplated by city officials: Asking that the state withhold aid unless the city’s creditors agree to concessions.

This would be tantamount to “strong-arming” creditors by removing the backstop of state funds, which could backfire on the city in several ways, Haar said.

“And there’s much more friction: Bronin’s letter, co-signed by the city council president and treasurer, also contains a shocking new suggestion — that the state help the city strong-arm bondholders by making new money contingent on Wall Street givebacks. Bronin hired a New York law firm to renegotiate Hartford’s costly bond debt, and now it appears he is asking the state to help that effort.

 

That could backfire on both the city and the state in much the same way that then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Coast Conference led to the blackballing of UConn. To this day, the university remains banished to a second-tier athletic league. No one likes to be strong-armed, and the last time I checked, Wall Street bond houses are not peopled by pushovers.”

So, how might bond holders retaliate if Hartford mayor Luke Bronin embraces this aggressive strategy. Well, they could not show up to market next time Hartford tries to sell a batch of general obligation bonds. After both Moody’s and S&P cut the city’s credit rating to junk in June, they could interpret a rift with bondholders as another potential obstacle for the city.  

“If the state took that posture with regard to full faith and credit general obligation debt, it could potentially jeopardize the evaluation of its own credit,” said Howard D. Sitzer, senior analyst at CreditSights in New York, which launched bond coverage of Hartford last month.

 

Still, the suggested ploy to squeeze money from bond investors makes a broader point: There is more Hartford, and Connecticut, could and must do before a bankruptcy judge would accept a filing and bring all the parties to an unhappy table.”

Of course, Hartford has a handful of options that could – if not solve its fiscal problems – at least help it kick the can down the road, the goal of every sane politician with aspirations of running for higher office. Bronin probably Harbors such ambitions. One such option would be a state takeover. In theory, this would bring fresh cost-cutting eyes to the picture. It could also force the police and municipal unions to offer more concessions.

Another measure, suggested by Moody’s and others on Wall Street, is a more moderate restructuring. Yet another is “more aggressive cash management,” essentially delaying payments to vendors. Prioritizing pursuit of tax delinquents is also an option.

The city could also cut back on payments to its retiree pension and health care funds.

“As it happens, the city is fairly well funded in its pension. But Bronin said, “We are not interested in short-term fixes that make the future more difficult.”

Whatever it decides, the city needs to act, because a Detroit-style bankruptcy, Haar says, would “add to the caravan of moving trucks exiting Connecticut” – a reference to the resident flight that has plagued the state in recent years, after lame-duck Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy passed a series of controversial tax hikes to help shore up the state’s pension funds.

However, Bronin probably knows that he can't depend on the state government for support. Connecticut is now the only state in the US that hasn't passed a budget for the current fiscal year – its government has been operating for two months under emergency measures imposed by Malloy that have delivered dramatic cuts to municipal services.

If not Bronin’s best option, asking the state to predicate any bailout funds on investor concessions might be his only shot at securing a lasting fix.
 

The Click Films

After more than 30 years of competing with and being replaced by a machine, the time has come to let the drummers talk. What began with the drum, ends with the clock. This is the fascinating story of how and why that happened. The Click: It’s about Rhythm. It’s about Life. It’s about Time. Source:…

Read More

The post The Click Films appeared first on The Big Picture.