“Events Today Could Lead To The Last War In The History Of Mankind”, Veteran Putin General Warns

The fallout from the Salisbury nerve agent attack reminds us of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the most immediate catalyst – of many parallel narrative and sequences of events – that ultimately resulted in World War I. We are not alone in this reasoning, as one high-level retired Russian general warns the Salisbury poisoning could lead to the “last war in the history of mankind.”

Ret. Lieutenant-General Evgeny Buzhinsky — who served in the Russian Armed Forces for more than forty years — said relations between Russia and Washington could become “worse” than the climax of the Cold War and “end up in a very, very bad outcome” following the nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom.

More than 150 Russian diplomats have been expelled from 25 countries — including 23 from the United Kingdom since western nations accused Russia of being the sole actor responsible for using deadly chemical weapons on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in their Salisbury home.

Buzhinsky, who is now the senior vice president of the Russian Center for Policy Studies (PIR Center), told BBC Radio Today program:

“Please, when you say the world, you mean EU and United States and some other countries … you see it’s a cold war, it’s worse than the Cold War because if the situation will develop in the way this (is) now, I’m afraid that it will end up in a very, very bad outcome.”

Nicholas Robinson, a British presenter on the BBC’s Today program pressed Buzhinsky on what he meant by “worse than a cold war,” to which the Ret. Russian Lieutenant-General responded with this bombshell: today’s current situation is spiraling out of control and could develop into a “real war.”

The Daily Express shares a chilling transcript of Buzhinsky’s conversation on BBC:

He said: “Worse than a cold war is a real war. It will be the last war in the history of the mankind.”

“Not the Salisbury poisoning but all the actions.”

“You see the pressure from the United States, that you say the pressure is going to continue, what are you going to achieve? You are going to achieve the regime change, it’s useless. You don’t know Russians. The more external pressure, the more the society is solidified around the President.”

When asked how the dispute would lead to a real war, Mr Buzhinsky accused the UK of not wanting to discuss the Salisbury attack.

“Let’s start discussing,” he said. “You don’t want to discuss. You say Russia should change its behaviour, it’s not the kind of talk or compromise we need.

“Okay, you expelled diplomats. We expelled diplomats. You further expel, what is the next step? The breach of diplomatic relations.”

“After that, I said it may lead to nowhere. Actually, you are cornering Russia. To corner, Russia is a very dangerous thing.”

Mr Buzhinsky claimed it was “nonsense” Russia was behind the attack as President Vladimir Putin had no benefit out of the attack, which took place before the Russian Presidential election. The comments come after Mr Putin’s foreign minister accused Theresa May of “resorting to open lies”.

He said: “I believe that our Western partners, I mean primarily the United Kingdom, the United States and some countries that blindly follow them, have cast away all decency, they are resorting to open lies, blatant misinformation.”

Between cold, proxy and trade wars, as time moves on in the Trump era, it seems like the world has gone haywire.  While history tends not to repeat itself – but rather rhymes – the fatalistic opinion of a veteran Russian expert and observer such as Buzhinsky has to be taken seriously. We can only hope that his forecast for a “last war” is wrong.

Kelly Goes Nuclear In Oval Office, Threatens To Quit: Report

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly threatened to quit in late March after a blow up with Trump in a meeting in the Oval Office, reports Axios.

Kelly was reportedly heard muttering about quitting as he stormed back to his office after the March 28 argument – however sources say it wasn’t related to the firing of former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin which happened the same day. 

A senior administration official said that calling it a threat was “probably too strong, it was more venting frustration.” Kelly often says he doesn’t have to be there and didn’t seek the job originally. –Axios

 Details (via Axios):

  • Kelly packed up some personal belongings, though I’m told that wasn’t necessarily because he was walking out. 
  • He was fired up enough that colleagues got allies to call in to calm him down
  • At one point DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — perhaps the person in the administration he trusts most — came over to talk him off the ledge

Meanwhile, President Trump has reportedly been sidestepping Kelly of late – telling one confidant that he’s “tired of being told no” by Kelly, and has instead opted to simply not include his Chief of Staff in various matters, according to CBS News, citing a person who was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on condition of anonymity. 

When President Donald Trump made a congratulatory phone call to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, White House chief of staff John Kelly wasn’t on the line. When Mr. Trump tapped John Bolton to be his next national security adviser, Kelly wasn’t in the room.

And when Mr. Trump spent a Mar-a-Lago weekend stewing over immigration and trade, Kelly wasn’t in sight.

Kelly, once empowered to bring order to a turbulent West Wing, has receded from view, his clout diminished, his word less trusted by staff and his guidance less tolerated by an increasingly go-it-alone president. –CBS News

Kelly had made it a practice for months to listen in on many of the president’s calls – particularly with world leaders. He also reportedly advocated against the hiring of John Bolton. 

“It’s not tenable for Kelly to remain in this position so weakened,” said Chris Whipple, author of “Gatekeepers,” a history of modern White House chiefs of staff. “More than any of his predecessors, Donald Trump needs an empowered chief of staff to tell him what he does not want to hear. Trump wants to run the White House like the 26th floor of Trump Tower, and it’s simply not going to work.”

In December we reported that President Trump had been calling White House aides to his private residence in the evening where he would give them new assignments – asking them not to tell Kelly.

John has been successful at putting in place a stronger chain of command in the White House, requiring people to go through him to get to the Oval Office,” said Leon Panetta, a White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who worked with Mr. Kelly, a four-star Marine general, in the Department of Defense. “The problem has always been whether or not the president is going to accept better discipline in the way he operates. He’s been less successful at that.” –WSJ

This is all just inevitable,” said one person close to Mr. Trump. “It’s not that Mr. Kelly is wrong—we all know he’s terribly competent.

Meanwhile, frustrated friends of the President have also reportedly gotten around Kelly’s “do not call” list by calling Melania Trump in order to pass messages to her husband, according to two people familiar with the matter.

“[S]ince she arrived in the White House from New York in the summer, the first lady has taken on a more central role as a political adviser to the president.”

 

If I don’t want to wait 24 hours for a call from the president, getting to Melania is much easier,” one person said. –WSJ

Melania Trump’s office issued a harsh rebuke to the Wall St. Journal, stating This is more fake news and these are more anonymous sources peddling things that just aren’t true. The First Lady is focused on her own work in the East Wing.” 

Trump’s Twitter feed is still off limits to Kelly, who’s been rolling his eyes at questions over potential diplomatic quagmires such as the time he called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “short and fat.” Asked about the incident, Kelly shrugged it off – saying “Believe it or not – I don’t follow the tweets,” adding that he has advised White House staff to do the same. “We develop policy in the normal traditional staff way.”

As one White House official told the WSJ, despite what appears to be an equilibrium between Kelly and Trump, they may never see eye to eye. “Kelly is too much of a general, and Trump is too much Trump,” adding that Trump continues to hold Mr. Kelly in high regard – often praising him during public appearances. 

Meanwhile in March, Kelly  was reportedly so furious over the way the press was covering Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Tuesday firing that he shouted at the television on Air Force One as the President and his staff took off for California, according to Politico.

Accounts of Kelly’s involvement in Tillerson’s ouster have varied. While some reports describe Kelly only telling Tillerson to watch Trump’s twitter account “over the next few days,” others have said it was a much more direct conversation in which the Secretary of State was given a heads up. In that version, Tillerson implored Kelly to hold off on any decisions until he returned to the U.S. on Monday. 

Tillerson, meanwhile, would only say that he received a “lunchtime call” from Trump during the President’s flight to California, and a separate call from Kelly – both after Trump’s tweet. 

Kelly’s consternation over the press coverage came on the heels of former Trump staff secretary Rob Porter’s ouster in February after the Daily Mail published accounts from his two ex-wives accusing him of domestic abuse. Kelly took fire for not getting rid of Porter earler, after it emerged that the FBI had alerted the White House several times in 2017 that the allegations were holding up Porter’s security clearance.  When the allegations against Porter began to fly, Kelly put out a statement calling Porter a “man of true integrity and honor,” and “a trusted professional.” 

With Trump playing musical chairs in the West Wing seemingly every other week, one has to wonder exactly how much longer Kelly will last.

Private Equity Firm Offers Cash-Strapped Connecticut $2BN For Government Buildings

Given the precarious financial circumstances of Hartford, Conn. – not to mention the state as a whole – it’s hardly surprising that private investors sense an opportunity to buy up valuable state- and city-owned properties at a good price.

And in the first of what we imagine could be a flood of offers, A Chicago-based private equity firm specializing in real-estate investment has sent letters to the city and to the state of Connecticut offering to spend $2 billion to purchase publicly owned office buildings, health-care facilities and trasit-related properties – and anything else the state and municipal governments might be willing to part with.

However, there’s one catch: The firm is insisting that it secures a 7.25% annual yield on its investment by raising rents and leasing the properties back to their former owners, according to Bloomberg.

For the record, that’s nearly double the 3.43% yield Connecticut pays on 20-year general obligation bonds sold in January. And a recent $550 million state bailout for the beleaguered capital city has inspired Moody’s Investors’ Service to boost its rating on Hartford’s GO bonds to A2 from Caa3 – the same level as the state, according to the Bond Buyer.

Terms of the deal as it’s proposed may favor the buyer, according to Jim Costello, a senior vice president for property-research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. Capitalization rates — net operating income as a share of the purchase price — are in the mid-6 percent range now for single-tenant sale-and-leaseback office deals, he said.

“Obviously, the details of every deal are different, but buying in at 7.25 percent, the buyer is getting a better initial yield than the market on average,” Costello said.

Capitol

Still, the firm believes Connecticut might be interested in its offer, considering that the state and city could use the money to help balance out their badly underfunded pensions.

As we’ve pointed out time and time again, the state is in the middle of a taxpayer exodus.

Last year, the state experienced a net adjusted gross income drain of $2.7 billion as wealthy residents fled the state. The average adjusted gross income of those leaving Connecticut last year was $123,377 – the highest in the country.

Oak Street has said it would take any buildings the state would be willing to part with.

Oak Street closed fundraising for its fourth real-estate fund – the Oak Street Capital Real Estate Fund IV – in October, raising $1.25 billion over six months, according to Pensions & Investments. Several state pension funds invested in the Oak Street fund, including the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System and the Illinois Teachers Retirement System.

The firm’s offer was assembled by a local politician from Westport – a wealthy Fairfield County suburb – who is a mangaing partner at K Property Group, which specializes in identifying properties with “untapped potential.”

“I just want to see our state make a smart decision,” said Gregory Kraut, a managing partner of K Property Group who is also an elected member of Westport’s town government. “And with my real estate and financial background, I have some options for them.”

Kraut, who put together the offer, said he’s acting as a concerned citizen and isn’t taking a commission or a fee from Oak Street. He suggested the state might use the money from real estate sales to reduce its unfunded pension obligations, and Hartford could reduce its debt load.

The state also has the highest net tax supported debt per capita in the US. It also has fewer jobs than it had a decade ago as the post-crisis recovery has largely passed it by. And recently, two of its largest companies – General Electric and Aetna – announced they would soon move their headquarters out of the state.

Conn

Still, with the ruling Democrats in danger of losing the governorship after Gov. Dannel Malloy said he wouldn’t seek a third term, reestablishing the party as pro-business and pro-fiscal responsibility could be a major boon during the 2018 election cycle.

Of course, as we’ve pointed out time and time again, while politicians might try and repair pension related shortfalls, the reality is the American pension system is probably already too far gone to salvage. It’s so bad, Congress recently had to step in, quietly forming a committee to use federal funds to bail out as many as 200 “multi-employer” pension plan. They did this because the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) – the pension equivalent to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) – is completely insolvent.

Think about that: Not only are pension funds heading for insolvency, the backstop meant to bail them out in the event of insolvency is also itself insolvent.

The upshot, is that regardless of whether the state rejects or accepts this offer, if you’re a young teacher or government employee hoping that your state-supported pension fund will be there for you in retirement, think again.

As Skripal-Gate Collapses, Will May’s Government Be Next?

Authored by Tom Luongo,

The United Kingdom is headed for a break-up.  Not today or tomorrow, mind you but, sooner than anyone would like to handicap, especially in this age of coalition government at any cost.

By responding to the alleged poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with histrionics normally reserved for The View, Theresa May’s government has set the stage for its own collapse.

Government’s fall when the people lose confidence in them.  May has bungled everything she has touched as Prime Minister, from Brexit talks and her relationship with Donald Trump to her response (or lack thereof) to the escalating level of domestic terrorism and her pathetic campaign during last year’s snap election.

When I confront such obvious ineptitude it’s not hard to believe that wasn’t the plan to begin with.

Since her initial meeting with Donald Trump after his election where it looked like the two would get along, May has become more and more belligerent to both him and his base.  While he continues to affirm our special relationship “The Gypsum Lady” as I like to call her makes mistake after mistake.

The latest of which is pushing everyone east of the Dneiper River in Ukraine to denounce the Russians and President Vladimir Putin personally for this alleged poisoning in Salisbury a month ago.

The result of which was the largest round of diplomatic expulsions in a century, if not ever.

And now that the whole “Russia did it” narrative has been skewered by May’s own experts at Porton Downs, she stands alone along with her equally inept and embarrassing Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The calls for their jobs will only intensify here.

Tinker, Tailor, Traitor, Spy

The whole thing felt from the beginning like a bad Ian Fleming novel.  I said from the beginning this this was a classic false flag to gin up anti-Russian fervor while May’s negotiator betrayed Brexit and pushed to remove Russian businesses from doing business in London.

I’m sorry but it’s not a stretch to think this whole thing was cooked up by MI-6.  In fact, that’s been my operating assumption for a month now.

The problem was, until a few days ago, I didn’t have a good enough reason why.

Putting diplomatic pressure on Russia on behalf of the U.S.’s crazed neoconservative Deep State just didn’t seem like a big enough reward.  Neither did cutting Russian businesses out of European banks to stop contractor and creditor payments associated with the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

Those things felt like nice bonus objectives but not main goals.

And it wasn’t until the lead scientists at Porton Downs left May, Johnson and Williamson out to hang on Monday that the full operation became clear. By stating that they could not confirm the origin of the Novichok nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals the Porton Downs officials destroyed the credibility of The Gypsum Lady’s government.

Therefore, this operation was always about undermining May’s government to the point of a no-confidence vote.  This would then be the ultimate betrayal of Brexit in order to preserve the U.K.’s position in the European Union, which is favored by the political and old-monied British elite.

In short, this was a coup attempt.

And don’t think for a second that this is not plausible. Remember it was Margaret Thatcher’s own most trusted people who betrayed her to get the U.K. into the European Union in the first place.  This was why they brought down The Iron Lady.

So, here’s the scene:

May and Johnson both get told by trusted advisors that there is incontrovertible proof of Russia’s hand in this.  They go with this information with confidence to parliament, the U.N., high-level meetings with foreign leaders and the press.

They convince their allies to stand strong against the evil Russians who is everyone’s bid ‘baddie’ at this point.

Trump has to go along with this nonsense even though he is obviously skeptical otherwise there will be an uproar in the U.S. press about him betraying our most trusted ally for his puppet-master Putin.

To be honest, I don’t think these bozos, May and Johnson, were in on the plan.  I think they were being played all along and now will be the patsies.

Just like May was played last year, calling for snap elections.  The minute she called them there were terror attacks all over London, marches against her over public safety.  A media campaign which puffed up Jeremy Corbyn, who they are now destroying for his rightful trepidation about this fairy tale MI-6 is spinning.

The goal was to weaken May and get Labour back in charge.  Corbyn would then be cast aside and a Tony Blair clone installed as Prime Minister to scuttle Brexit and restore order to the galaxy, Europe.  Unfortunately, the DUP got enough of the vote to re-elect a very weakened May and things have limped along for nearly a year.

Crisis on Infinite Empires

The problem with this however, is like all plans of those desperate to cling to vestiges of former glory (and the U.K. is definitely the poster child for that), is the crisis of confidence it will engender.

Make no mistake, Brexit was no mistake.

It’s what the people of Britain wanted and they want it more now than in 2016.  So, they don’t dare call for a new referendum.  But, they are also looking at a third parliamentary vote in as many years.

And that doesn’t scream confidence no matter how much markets would prefer the legal status quo.  Opposition to Brexit comes from the entrenched monied power, not from any adherence to globalist ideology.

But, if Brexit is betrayed through this hackneyed farce of a spy thriller, it won’t sit well with the British people.  Scotland’s call for a second referendum will continue to grow and the Pound will fall alongside the competitiveness of British labor still trapped within a euro-zone that has done nothing but choke the life out of the economy.

The Pound will begin to sink into irrelevancy as this unfolds.  It won’t happen overnight, but we will look back on these events and see them as the trigger points for the path of history.

Between these things and the toxic levels of political correctness as it pertains to Muslim immigration, the insanity of London liberals and the de facto police state the U.K. has become and you have a recipe for political unrest that will not be pretty.

Brexit was meant to be the peaceful revolution that put the nail in the coffin of the march to one world government.  It is about to be nullified.

When it is the sun will finally set on what’s left of the British Empire.

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Surviving The Next Great Depression

Authored by Tom Chtaham via Project Chesapeake,

Numerous economists and investors are warning of another great financial crisis to come but few people want to listen to them. No crisis is ever exactly like the last one and the next great depression will be different from the last one. In the last depression those who had money were in a good financial position to ride it out but the next depression will see those with fiat money drowning in it as it becomes worthless.

Very few Americans have any significant savings today. Most live on credit and those with savings have it stored in financial instruments that will be wiped out as the bankers collapse the system to hide the theft they have been involved in for decades. Those who think they will retire with their IRA, pensions or social security will suddenly find them all gone never to return leaving them with no means to care for themselves.

The west line has moved to Asia. This means that North America is no longer the shipping center of the world. The consequences of this for Americans will be disastrous. This means our economy in the future will be smaller and slower and will result in a standard of living far below what it currently is.

Those that own very few assets free and clear will become the new homeless as they become jobless and default on all of their credit obligations.

All of the social safety nets that exist now to keep people fat and happy will fail leaving mobs of people to roam the streets to seek out what they need to survive.

One only has to look at Venezuela today to see where this will all lead.

The basic minimum wage in Venezuela today is $7 dollars a month. Not a day or a week but a month. Those that hold local currency see it devalue on a daily basis making things increasingly worse as time goes on. Had any of these people stored some of their wealth in gold they would have the ability to live a little easier as the economy collapses. One ounce of gold in the hands of a Venezuelan today would last them for years. This is a lesson we all need to heed.

Simply storing some of your wealth in gold and silver is no cure all but it is part of a bigger strategy to insure you do not have to suffer as many will in the coming years due to their blind faith in their belief the government will care for them. Keep in mind that the government is actually controlled by the same people that will destroy your standard of living so why would they care about your suffering.

Understanding what will likely happen and insuring you have a plan to deal with it is the only hope you will have of coming through the coming bad years in tact. Those who trust in government or only live for today will reap what they sow and it will be unpleasant at best if they survive at all. A simple strategy to insure you do not suffer does not have to be expensive or complicated. The best plans are simple and allow you to adapt to the changing times. If you invest in a simple, inexpensive plan and the world somehow goes on as normal, you will not be any worse for the investment but if things takes an unexpected turn and your plan becomes necessary, it will allow you to survive the crisis much better than the bulk of the population.

The strategy I outlined in The American Dream Lost is a basic plan that will work for just about anyone but is mainly designed for those that have only a few thousand dollars to draw on in an emergency. That is to say it is designed for the majority of Americans that have little money. It is important to understand that a plan of this type is an insurance policy against bad times that can do great harm to you and your family and needs to be understood in that light.

One of the worst problems people have is that when something bad begins to happen they attempt to continue living as they always have and ignore the future consequences until it is too late to do anything meaningful about it. If a person loses their job they continue to live as they always have using up their small savings in the hope that things will change for the better before they run out of money. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose, it depends on how lucky they are. This type of mentality often leads people to the point where they run out of money and only then do they try to come up with a plan. The problem is, by then they have no resources left to enact a plan with. This is what you need to avoid.

When your economic situation suddenly changes for the worse you need to immediately sit down and determine what the future is likely to look like. It is good to be optimistic but if the chances of finding a new job are not very good you need to decide how best to use what resources you have to maintain a decent living standard. You may have to make some very difficult choices but the option of doing nothing could be very harmful in the long run. For those that decide radical steps may be needed to continue caring for their family the following list is a good place to start.

Buy a years supply of basic foods and supplies that store easily

Buy some durable clothing for future use

Buy an older vehicle for cash that can pull a trailer

Buy a good used camper trailer for cash that can house your family

Buy a weapon and ammo for protection and hunting purposes

Buy a few rolls of silver coins to preserve wealth and act as an emergency fund

What this gives you is the ability to continue caring for your family even in the worst of situations if everything is lost to creditors. They will have food, shelter, clothing, transportation, security and the ability to buy critical items that are needed at some future time. Convincing your family they have to move to a camper for a while would not be easy but the alternative of being homeless would make it an easy choice. The fact that thousands of people all across America are at this very moment living in tents near large population centers is proof enough it can happen.

Depending on your shopping skills all of these things can be secured for under $5,000 dollars and much less if you have time to look for bargains. Your plan may be slightly different depending on the resources and skills you have. You may have access to a small piece of land you own somewhere that a cabin can be built on or you may have the skills to retrofit a van body truck or enclosed trailer for living in. In situations like this skills are worth as much as gold coins.

When the next great depression hits it will be unlike anything we have lived through before. Nothing will be as it seems and only those that have the resources to adapt will come through it whole. Preparation is the key to adapting to future events and those without resources will reap a bitter harvest as they struggle to survive. No announcements will be made, no warnings will be given by the establishment, it will just suddenly happen out of the blue and everyone will say it was unpredictable. But those who prepared will know better.

India Builds Over 14,000 Bunkers In Preparation For War With Pakistan

The Government of India is planning to construct 14,460 bunkers for civilians in five border districts in Jammu & Kashmir – Samba, Poonch, Jammu, Kathua, and Rajouri – which reside along Line of Control (LoC) and the international Indo-Pakistani border, reports The Times of India.

The state-owned National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) will build these bunkers in populated regions that rest within 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from the de facto border between the two countries, which have experienced an increasing amount of incursions by the Pakistani Army.

In February, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti announced during a State Assembly that 41 civilians had been killed in ceasefire violations along the LoC by Pakistan between 2015 and 2017. To safeguard civilians from Pakistani shelling across the border, NBCC will build 13,029 small bunkers and 1,431 more massive community bunkers. The Times of India said the construction program would cost around 4.157 billion rupees (US$63.8 million).

Oneindia News: India builds bunkers along the LoC with Pakistan for villagers

The chairman and managing director of NBCC, A K Mittal, told The Times of India that “pre-cast construction methodology” would be used for the bunkers.

“Strategically located casting yards will be used to fabricate RCC components, which shall be transported by trailer/ tractors and the bunkers will be erected by cranes and labourers. We will plan in such a way that each bunker is completed in maximum 2-3 days,” he added.

The Times of India provides insight into the specific locations where the individual and community bunkers will be built.

“In Samba, 2,515 individual and eight community bunkers will be built. Similarly, in Jammu 1,200 individual and 120 community bunkers will be constructed. A maximum of 4,918 individual and 372 community bunkers will be built in Rajouri. In Kathua, 3,076 individual bunkers will be constructed. Poonch will get the maximum number of 688 community bunkers and will get another 1,320 individual bunkers.”

In addition to building thousands of bunkers, The Times of India indicates NBCC has already started erecting border fencing along the India-Pakistan border.

“It’s a prestigious and challenging project for us. We will meet the time line, which will be set by the J&K government. While we are building World Trade Centre in South Delhi we are also engaged in road and fencing works in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura on Indo-Bangladesh border and in Gujarat on Pakistan border,” Mittal said.

Despite the 2003 ceasefire agreement, violence has recently erupted between both countries on the LoC, which marked 2017 as the bloodiest year since the ceasefire agreement came into effect.

Earlier this year, we reported on 40,000 Indians fleeing the Jammu and Kashmir region, as intense military shelling from the Pakistani military turned the region into a war zone.

“Along the 786 km-long Line of Control (LoC) which divides the State of Jammu Kashmir between India and Pakistan, sporadic cross-border military gunfire between both countries is not that unusual. However, this weekend, in the region of Noushera, Rajouri and Akhnoor sectors of Jammu and Kashmir, more than 40,000 Indians have fled their homes and shops amid the fourth consecutive day of intense shelling from Pakistani military forces, the Economic Times reports.”

The sporadic cross-border military skirmishes between both countries have led to fears of another Indo-Pakistani war breaking out. According to government statistics, there were some 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan military forces along the LoC in 2017, compared with 221 the prior year. As India prepares to build thousands of bunkers for its civilian population before the next conflict breaks out, Western media outlets have ignored this dire situation and would rather focus on unverified claims of a Russian nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the LoC could very well be the epicenter of “World War III,” said the Daily Express.

Chris Hedges: “U.S. Citizens Are Living In An Inverted Totalitarian Country”

Submitted by Erik Sandberg of NewsVoice

Chris Hedges

The mainstream media deflects attention from where power resides: corporations, not with the leaders of the free world. The arguments posed by Chris Hedges, that the U.S. is neither a democracy nor a republic but a totalitarian state that can now assassinate its citizens at will, are pertinent ones. Scary ones. Especially as consecutive governments seem equally as impotent to invoke any real change for the States. If the media won’t stand up to the marionettes who pull the strings of the conglomerates causing deep, indelible polarisation in the world abound; then so we must act. Together.

Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

We were delighted to have Chris Hedges on an episode of the Newsvoice Think podcast as we seek to broadcast perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. Right, left, red, blue and purple.

In our interview with Chris, we discussed a range of topics facing the U.S. today as the Trump administration looks back at a year in power, and forward to the November ’18 midterms where Democrats will be looking to make gains. Chris was scathing of that party describing them as a “creature of Wall Street, which is choreographed and ceased to be a proper party a long time ago.”

As a columnist with Truthdig, and a big advocate of independent media. Chris Hedges was the perfect interviewee for us to draw on the benefits of crowdsourced journalism and the challenges facing sites at the mercy of Facebook, Google and Twitter algorithms.

Chris’s ire against the corporate interest of Facebook et al didn’t let up saying dissident voices were being shut down and that corporate oligarchs were only too happy to let them. The neutralisation of the media platforms that seek to provide independent opinion on U.S. current affairs is in full pelt.

North Korea was the hot topic in 2017. Commentators said it was like a return to the days of the Cold War. But Hedges pointed that we need to remember what happened during the Korean War — how the North was flattened by U.S. bombs — and that as a result they, as a nation, suffer from an almost psychosis as a result. Trump, he said, is an imbecile and only deals in bombast, threats and rhetoric.

Not surprisingly, Trump got it hard from Hedges. Describing his administration as a “kleptocracy” who will seek to attack immigrants and up the xenophobia stakes as it distracts and covers for the unadulterated theft of U.S. natural resources.

As young people look to estimable journalists, activists and politicians in the States to help give them a voice, Hedges sees the democratic system as utterly futile. Encouraging mass civil disobedience instead, the ex-NY Times foreign correspondent states that railroads should be blocked and shutting down corporate buildings, for example, is the only way forward.

The perennial argument between Republicans and Democrats is just that; is the U.S. a Republic or a Democracy? Hedges thinks neither. He told Newsvoice that the States is an inverted totalitarian country where the government regards the public as “irrelevant”.

Unlike Ben Wizner from the ACLU who sees hope in delaying Net Neutrality, at least until a new administration is in power, Chris feels it is hopeless — that it is a dead duck, and as Net Neutrality slows down independent media platforms, the public will be at the behest of corporate social media sites such as Facebook who’ll increasingly deem what you do and don’t read or see.

You can read more of Chris’ work at Truthdig where he has a weekly column every Monday.

Retail Real Estate Bubble Turns Manhattan Into A “Shopping Wasteland”

The Fed loves to repeat how necessary and vital inflation is for economic prosperity, but in the case of midtown Manhattan’s “prime” retail real estate, it is doing nothing but helping cause once extremely prominent shopping areas become the very same “ghost towns” they turned into during the 2008 housing crisis.

Mayor DeBlasio’s asinine solution to this issue created in part by faulty government policy: more government and more regulation.

So much for the recovery.

As if brick and mortar retail didn’t have enough problems to deal with being methodically decimated by the ever growing behemoth that is Amazon, store owners are now facing rent that is simply so high it makes it impossible for most to open retail stores and do business in once prominent areas of downtown Manhattan.

On Saturday, the New York Post wrote an article confirming our writeup from late March suggesting that high prices are driving businesses out of town:

If you want to see the future of storefront retailing, walk nine blocks along Broadway from 57th to 48th Street and count the stores.

The total number comes to precisely one — a tiny shop to buy drones.

That’s right: On a nine-block stretch of what’s arguably the world’s most famous avenue, steps south of the bustling Time Warner Center and the planned new Nordstrom department store, lies a shopping wasteland.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody that Amazon and other online retailers have had a profoundly negative effect on traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. One look at the recent Chapter 11 retail bankruptcy filings and it becomes obvious why one year ago the CEO of Urban Outfitters said that “the retail bubble has now burst

This is the narrative that has been playing out for the last couple of years as we have watched retail stocks like Sears, JCPenney and Macy’s get destroyed while online shopping names have performed extraordinarily well.

But what may come as a surprise to some is the fact that the constant need to keep prices of real estate and rent rising, regardless of traditional supply and demand, is exacerbating things to a degree where some of the most sought after real estate in the world has now become deserted and barren. The article continued:

The same crisis blights the rest of Manhattan. The people invested in storefront retailing — real-estate developers, landlords and retail companies themselves — tell us not to worry. It’s a “transitional” situation that will right itself over time. Authoritative-sounding surveys by real-estate and retail companies claim that Manhattan’s overall vacancy is only just 10 percent.

But they are all wrong. Bricks-and-mortar retail is shrinking so swiftly and on such a wide scale, it’s going to require big changes in how we plan our new buildings and our cities — although nobody wants to admit it.

And yet, it’s scary to think that one of the city’s great pleasures, window-shopping — which also ensures vibrant, crime-deterring sidewalk life — will become a thing of the past except at certain locations.

At this rate, we face a future where streets will be mostly dark at sidewalk level for miles on end. Third Avenue in the East 60s, Broadway north of Lincoln Center, many blocks in the supposedly thriving Meatpacking District are halfway there already.

What is “progressive” Mayor DeBlasio’s solution to the problem of rising rents as a result of government policy? More regulation and more government, of course! He wants to actually fine landlords who keep spaces empty until they fine tenants. Talk about the blind leading the blind:

Few retailers can afford to pay more than $250 per square foot annually in rent — yet landlords persist in asking $400 a square foot and up to $2,000 a square foot in prime zones like Fifth Avenue and Times Square.

Mayor de Blasio wants to fine landlords who keep spaces empty until they find tenants who’ll pay astronomical rents. But there’s no fair way to judge who’s actually guilty. Would he punish the owners of the small corner building at 1330 Third Ave. at East 76th Street, who slashed the “ask” from $420,000 a year in 2016 to $360,000 in April 2017 and still can’t find a tenant?

In other words a socialist mayor wants to fine capitalist merchants as punishment for policies enacted by the Federal Reserve (whose direct debt and deficit monetization also has extensive socialist underpinnings).

To be sure, none of this comes as a surprise to us – or our regular readers – because in late March owe recalled our own 2009 tour of Madison Avenue to discover that it also had turned into a ghost town. Just a week ago we told our readers that the ghost town that was New York’s “Golden Mile” was not surprising: after all the US economy had just been hit with the worst recession since the Great Depression, and only an emergency liquidity injection of trillions of dollars prevented a global financial collapse.

What is more surprising is why nearly 9 years later, at a time of what is supposed to be a coordinated global recovery, a walk along Madison Avenue reveals the exact same picture.

And aside from us and the New York Post, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also noticed the disturbing trend, stating at the company’s Annual General Meeting:

Now, as a result of what we’re witnessing, we’re also seeing something else and that is, there is a proliferation around the country right now of empty storefronts. We took a walk in New York two weeks ago from 59th street to 79th on Madison Avenue, and we lost count of how many empty storefronts there were in ManhattanIt reminded me of the cataclysmic financial crisis in 2008. But what’s happening is very simple, the rent structures for the last 5 to 10 years, have been rising at historic rates and retailers do not have the amount of  customers they had during these last 5 to 10 years and could no longer economically survive.

So they’re closing stores and as a result of this, I can promise you just like I predicted in 2014 that rents are coming down and landlords are going to have to get religion, or else their stores are going to stay empty. And we’re already beginning to see a different level of reception in terms of what we believe the cost of occupancy should be. And this is going to bode extremely well, specifically for us. We’re adding almost 700 new Starbucks stores a year. And so we are going to take full advantage of the economic reality of this situation. And as we go forward two, three, four, five years out even though labor is going up in terms of cost of labor, we believe rents are going down and the economic model of Starbucks is going to be enhanced as a result of this macro situation. And we’re just at the beginning of this trend.

So the hilarious irony of Keynesian theory once again rears its ugly head as New York’s current retail apocalypse and prime real estate exodus has, in effect, caused some of the most traversed city streets to look like they did during the financial crisis of 2008 once again.

Needless to say, this is the direct result of force-engineering a “recovery”, instead of letting the free-market recover on its own: you get a “recovery” that is anything but, and only works as long as the source of endless funding – the Fed – keeps pumping. Meanwhile, the Fed and its fawning media supporters have always been able to duck behind the outperforming stock market as a false indicator of the health of the economy as a “scorecard” for the recovery. But with the market now topping out and reaching levels of significant volatility, and the March jobs number handily missing expectations, how can the Fed justify that their policy continues to make sense when it is putting a good portion of Manhattan into the very same shackles and chains it was in during the crisis we are “recovering” from 10 years ago?

Inside El Chapo’s Lair: Plastic Furniture, Ornate Weaponry And Cocaine Bananas

By the time DEA agent Drew Hogan arrived in Mexico City in 2010, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman had already been on the run for nine years – having escaped from a prison in Southwest Mexico in early 2001 – reportedly hiding in a laundry basket.  

After Hogan established his base of operation, he picked up the trail for the Sinaloa cartel chief by “looking at the details,” he said. 

It was in the details – in the numbers,” Hogan told NBC‘s “Today” show on Wednesday while discussing his book “Hunting El Chapo.”

The phone numbers don’t lie,” Hogan said. “And I was able to pair up with a crack team of Homeland Security investigative agents, and we began intercepting members of Chapo’s inner circle and starting to dismantle layers within his sophisticated communications structure until we got to the top, where I had his personal secretary’s device, who was standing right next to him, and I could ping that to establish a pattern of life to determine where he was at.”

Hogan, his partner “Brady” and a team of 50 Mexican marines would stumble upon a safehouse used by El Chapo in February 2014, only to find the Cartel boss had already left the lair hidden behind six-inch thick steel doors.

The DEA agent filmed the hideout on his mobile phone – revealing among other things: 

  • A black sack filled with hundreds of green bananas intended for smuggling cocaine into the United States. 
  • A jewel-encrusted semiautomatic pistol adorned with El Chapo’s initials
  • Lots of cocaine
  • A cache of weapons, including a tripod-mounted machine gun

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Hogan says he was shocked by the squalor of the place. “I was surprised, he really afforded himself no luxuries. Each safehouse was the same type of construction, very basic.” 

“They had Walmart-style plastic tables and chairs, none of the trappings you would expect from a drug lord.”

 El Chapo was eventually tracked down to the beach resort of Mazatlán in late 2014. 

For the first face-to-face meeting Hogan wore his very own black baseball cap, and ran up to the drug lord and yelling: ‘What’s up, Chapo?

Hogan said from that moment he knew he was going to tell his story at some point, and chose to write about the exhaustive and enthralling hunt in a new book, called ‘Hunting El Chapo.’

On Wednesday he spoke about the book for the first time publicly in an interview on the Today Show, and will give further details during Dateline on Sunday.

He also shared a personal photo from those thrilling years of his life of the moment he caught El Chapo, in which the drug lord can be seen frowning with Hogan and another agent behind him and posing for the camera.

The former DEA agent called that day he met El Chapo a ‘souvenir of the hunt,’ explaining he plucked it from another place where Chapo had been hiding out. –Daily Mail

Within 16 months, however, El Chapo would escape from prison – tunneling below the shower in his cell at a Mexican maximum security prison. 

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“This tunnel that went underneath the prison was the same type of tunnels that went under the safe houses, the same tunnels that were at the US/ Mexico border,” said Hogan.

Six months later, Chapo was captured again – with the aid of informants, satellite images and intercepted cell phone communications. The drug lord was extradited to the United States on January 19 of this year to stand trial on charges of running the largest drug-trafficking enterprise in the world – said to be responsible for hundreds of murders in North America. He is wanted in Chicago, San Diego, New York City, New Hampshire, Miami and Texas – and has pending indictments in seven different U.S. federal courts. 

El Chapo is currently sitting in the maximum-security wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. His trial is set to begin in September.