“As Much Gold As You Can Eat…”

Over six years ago, former-Goldmanite and head of The New York Fed Bull Dudley proudly proclaimed how the price of iPads was dropping when confronted by an unruly audience demanding to know why their food costs were soaring, prompting guffaws and widespread murmuring from the audience, with one audience member calling the comment "tone deaf," and another quipping "I can't eat an iPad."

Dudley's infamous ignorance will never be forgotten and as The Fed continues to pump the prices of stocks up (which you also cannot eat) and the price of putting a roof over your head is soaring (also non-edible), Martin Armstrong put us straight on one potential inflation hedge… that it turns out you can eat

I am working from the Abu Dhabi office this week meeting with clients in town.

I thought I would post something unusual.

In the Emirates Palace, you can have a cup of coffee with gold on top you can drink.

You can also order ice cream made from camel milk top with real gold you can eat.

Interesting use of gold.

Freedom Is A Myth: We Are All Prisoners Of The Police State’s Panopticon Village

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

"We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people's Villages, but we are all prisoners.

– Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka” – confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.

The Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six is told that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009,The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.

In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications.

And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.

Except this is no surprise ending, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People: for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.

So how do we break out?

For starters, wake up. Resist the urge to comply.

Think for yourself. Be an individual. As McGoohan commented in 1968, “At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that's the great thing. It's when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that's tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

You want to be free? Break out of the circle.

US Is Sending Another Aircraft Carrier To Korea: Yonhap

After carrying out bombing drills over the Korean peninsula on Monday following North Korea’s firing of an intermediate-range missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, US and South Korean forces are planning to continue their displays of military might early next month, according to a report from Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. However, in a move that is sure to provoke a barrage of threats from North Korea, the US is reportedly sending a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier to the waters off the Korean peninsula, where it will take part in an upcoming round of military drills.

Earlier this year, the US sent three aircraft carriers to waters near North Korea in an unprecedented show of force. However, it's unclear if any of those carriers are still positioned so closely to the peninsula. Here's the latest map of US naval strike groups, which was compiled by Stratfor using publicly-available information. Deployments considered "sensitive" would not be included on this map.

As Yonhap reports, the aircraft carrier will participate in a series of naval drills with South Korean forces. Yonhap didn’t reveal the name of the carrier. South Korea and the US will also conduct a “combined missile alert drill” in late September or early October, for which they will be joined by Japan, Yonhap said, citing a source in South Korea’s Ministry of Defense. The US is also expected to once again send B-1B strategic bombers stationed in Guam to Korea later this month in a warning to the North.

However, given UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s revelation that the UN Security Council may have reached the limits of its ability to economically pressure the isolated country, it’s understandable that the US would want to signal an escalation in its flexing of military muscle, to show. After all, the US needs to maintain the illusion that “military options” remain on the table. Even though, as former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon confirmed in an interview before he was ousted from the West Wing, there aren’t any options available to the US that wouldn’t lead to millions of civilian deaths in Seoul from conventional weapons fire.

US, Japanese and South Korean officials believe North Korea is “in the final stages” of developing a long-range ballistic missile that would be able to reliably strike the Continental US. The North believes obtaining such a weapon is essential to the regime's survival, but the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea – which is already, in a sense, a reality – has horrified the international community.

According to Yonhap, the South Korean defense ministry expects the North to soon carry out more missile tests, as well as an expected seventh nuclear test.

To be sure, news of the aircraft carrier being sent to the waters around the Korean peninsula may remind readers of President Donald Trump’s promise to send a strike force of nuclear-armed submarines to the waters of the peninsula earlier this year, only for media reports to confirm that the submarines were, in fact, headed in the other direction.

Assuming the carrier is, in fact, headed to its reported post, such an act would be interpreted as an unprecedented provocation by Kim Jong Un and his generals, and likely demand a response in kind.

America’s Slow-Motion Military Coup

Authored by Stephen Kinzer via The Boston Globe,

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. They do not put on their ribbons to review military parades or dispatch death squads to kill opponents, as members of old-style juntas did. Yet their emergence reflects a new stage in the erosion of our political norms and the militarization of our foreign policy. Another veil is dropping.

Given the president’s ignorance of world affairs, the emergence of a military junta in Washington may seem like welcome relief. After all, its three members are mature adults with global experience — unlike Trump and some of the wacky political operatives who surrounded him when he moved into the White House. Already they have exerted a stabilizing influence. Mattis refuses to join the rush to bomb North Korea, Kelly has imposed a measure of order on the White House staff, and McMaster pointedly distanced himself from Trump’s praise for white nationalists after the violence in Charlottesville.

Being ruled by generals seems preferable to the alternative. It isn’t.

Military officers, like all of us, are products of their background and environment. The three members of Trump’s junta have 119 years of uniformed service between them. They naturally see the world from a military perspective and conceive military solutions to its problems. That leads toward a distorted set of national priorities, with military “needs” always rated more important than domestic ones.

Trump has made clear that when he must make foreign policy choices, he will defer to “my generals.” Mattis, the new junta’s strongman, is the former head of Central Command, which directs American wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Kelly is also an Iraq veteran. McMaster has commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan almost without interruption since he led a tank company in the 1991 Gulf War.

Military commanders are trained to fight wars, not to decide whether fighting makes strategic sense. They may be able to tell Trump how many troops are necessary to sustain our present mission in Afghanistan, for example, but they are not trained either to ask or answer the larger question of whether the mission serves America’s long-term interest. That is properly the job of diplomats. Unlike soldiers, whose job is to kill people and break things, diplomats are trained to negotiate, defuse conflicts, coolly assess national interest and design policies to advance it. Notwithstanding Mattis’s relative restraint on North Korea, all three members of Trump’s junta promote the confrontational approach that has brought protracted war in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, while fueling tension in Europe and East Asia.

Our new junta is different from classic ones like, for example, the “National Council for Peace and Order” that now rules Thailand. First, our junta’s interest is only international relations, not domestic policy. Second, it did not seize power in a coup, but derives its authority from the favor of an elected president. Third and most important, it main goal is not to impose a new order but to enforce an old one.

Last month, President Trump faced a crucial decision about the future of America’s war in Afghanistan. This was a potential turning point. Four years ago Trump tweeted, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan.” If he had followed that impulse and announced that he was bringing American troops home, the political and military elite in Washington would have been stunned. But junta members swung into action. They persuaded Trump to announce that instead of withdrawing, he would do the opposite: reject “rapid exit” from Afghanistan, increase troop strength, and continue “killing terrorists.”

It is no great surprise that Trump has been drawn into the foreign policy mainstream; the same happened to President Obama early in his presidency. More ominous is that Trump has turned much of his power over to generals. Worst of all, many Americans find this reassuring. They are so disgusted by the corruption and shortsightedness of our political class that they turn to soldiers as an alternative.

It is a dangerous temptation.

Offshore Yuan Tumbles To 2-Week Lows, Biggest Drop Since Election

Offshore yuan has now dropped almost 16 handles in the last 8 days since Chinese officials voiced their concerns "about a rallying yuan as exporters come under strain."

Tonight's tumble pushes the Yuan to its lowest since August for the biggest 8-day drop since the election...

 

And offers Trump some excuses to be mad at China for 'devaluing' their currency after the dollar dumped for most of the year…

 

Notably, while Yuan is tumbling, Hong Kong Dollar spiked back toewards the peg…

Why Is Google Hiring 1,000 Journalists To Flood Newsrooms Around America?

So what do you do when you fail to elect your chosen candidate and your former political allies and mainstream media turn against you by painting you not as the ‘progressive’, open-minded, friendly tech company that you used to be but as an evil, racist, Russian-colluding corporate villain intent upon destroying all that is sacred in the world?  Well, you just buy the media, of course.

As Poynter notes today, after a series of public relations debacles in recent weeks, from the firing of James Damore to news last week that Google’s algos served up some fairly disturbing keywords to potential advertising buyers (e.g. “Why Do Black People Ruin Neighborhoods“), Google is ramping up its media presence with the announcement that the Google News Lab will be working with Report For America (RFA) to hire 1,000 journalists all around the country. 

Many local newsrooms have been cut to the bone so often that there’s hardly any bone left. But starting early next year, some may get the chance to rebuild, at least by one.

 

On Monday, a new project was announced at the Google News Lab Summit that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Report For America takes ideas from several existing organizations, including the Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America and public media.

 

Unlike foreign or domestic service programs or public media, however, RFA gets no government funding. But they are calling RFA a national service project. That might make some journalists uncomfortable  – the idea of service and patriotism. But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project.

 

“I think journalism needs that kind of passion for public service to bring it back and to really address some of the ailments of the heart of journalism,” he said.

 

Here’s how RFA will work: On one end, emerging journalists will apply to be part of RFA. On the other, newsrooms will apply for a journalist. RFA will pay 50 percent of that journalist’s salary, with the newsroom paying 25 percent and local donors paying the other 25 percent. That reporter will work in the local newsroom for a year, with the opportunity to renew.

Google

 

Of course, while the press release above tries to tout the shared financial responsibility of these 1,000 journalists, presumably as a testament to their ‘independence’, it took about 35 seconds to figure out that the primary funder of the journalists’ salaries, RFA, is funded by none other than Google News Lab.

 

Meanwhile, as a further testament to RFA’s ‘independence, we noticed that their Advisory Board is flooded with reputable, ‘impartial’ news organizations like the New York Times, NPR, CBS, ABC, etc….

 

That said, as Jeff Bezos found out this morning, you can buy the media outlet but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can buy their loyalty (see: Did WaPo Break The Law When It Disciplined A Writer For This Negative Article On Jeff Bezos?)….

PBOC Researcher: China Should Start Its Own Sovereign Digital Currency “As Soon As Possible”

The past two weeks have been quite a rollercoaster for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In loose chronological order, we have seen:

In the process Bitcoin went from $4,200 to under $3,000 in just days… and then rocketed back to over $4,000 today as the influence of governments in determining the fate of cryptocurrencies was strongly questioned.

Meanwhile, as reported yesterday, first India announced it may issue its own bitcoin-like cryptocurrency as legal tender, and now, in a publication of the Chinese central bank, Huang Zhen, a researcher at Central University of Finance and Economics writes that the “the PBOC it should start its own sovereign digital currency as soon as possible” according to a commentary in the PBOC’s own Financial News.

Here is the key excerpt, roughly translated:

In order for the Chinese government to prevent and control the risk of virtual currency, it decided to prohibit the issuance of ICO tokens, and stop the trading of cryptocurrencies and other virtual currencies on exchanges, to better protect the interests of China’s financial consumers, and to prevent the spread of currency risk to China’s financial system, safeguard China’s financial security and the stability of important economic initiatives. The sovereign state is still the fundamental player in global politics, and carries with it the characteristics of the world financial system. Cryptocurrencies and other virtual currencies attempt to challenge the sovereign state’s right to issue currency, requiring the nationalization of currency issuance. China has a clear understanding of digital forms of money, and is actively engaging in relevant work. The central bank has set up a research group and a digital money research institute to explore the digitization of sovereign money. After this round of virtual money markets supervision, we expect under the auspices of the Chinese central bank to launch our own sovereign digital currency as soon as possible to help maintain China’s leadership in the development of global digital finance.

Translation: decentralized cryptocurrencies, in which the money creation process is no longer controlled by the state (as a reminder, cryptos are not a liability to any central bank and are thus not backed by any official government entity), are the enemy and deserve the scorn and condemnation of every spoke of the establishment, from the central banks’ central bank, to commercial banks, to financial newspapers of record, all the way down to brown-nosing wannabe establishment “hanger-on” lackeys. Meanwhile, centralized digital currencies, which are controlled by the state, which can be adjusted and modified anywhere and at any time at a the flick of a switch, and which can be extinguished or multiplied at will during times of NIRP or hyperinflation, are wondrous creations, and China – for one – can’t wait to launch one.

Or as the BIS explained, left bad, right good.

 

… or even simpler, the difference between Fedcoin and Bitcoin.