Voter Fraud? 5,500 Non-Citizens Discovered On Virginia’s Voting Rolls

A law firm working in the public interest has found that election officials in Virginia, a swing state that Hillary Clinton won by a comfortable margin, quietly scrubbed more than 5,500 non-citizens from its voting rolls between 2011 and 2017, according to a report published Wednesday.

But not only did they remain on the voting rolls, 1,852 of these noncitizens cast nearly 7,500 ballots during elections dating back to 1988, according to research by the Public Interest Legal Foundation. The report examined voting records across Virginia’s 133 jurisdictions and found that, unsurprisingly, Fairfax Country, A wealthy DC suburb and liberal bastion, was the worst offender in terms of the number of noncitizens registered to vote and the number of noncitizens who cast ballots, as the tables below reflect.


Elites keep howling that voter fraud in the US is virtually nonexistent, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary. According to a report conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012, the capacity for voter fraud in the U.S. is substantial with nearly 2mm dead people found to be registered voters and nearly 3mm people registered in multiple states.


“Virginia’s voter registration system is so flawed, noncitizens have been found voting since the 1980s and weren’t caught until recently – by happenstance,” Logan Churchwell, PILF’s spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s 2017 – using the honor system to determine eligibility is only defended by those without a sense of outrage toward voter fraud.”


Virginia’s lax voting-registration policies have even attracted the attention of the FBI and the left-leaning mainstream media when, back in September, the Washington Post reported that the bureau was investigating how 19 dead people somehow found their way back onto the voting rolls in the crucial swing state.

Last year, the organization released a similar report that found 1,000 noncitizens were removed from the state’s voter rolls, 200 of whom had voted illegally. Since then, the organization has gained access to voting records from all of the state's voting jurisdictions.

And it’s likely that the state will continue to turn a blind eye to noncitizens who are registered to vote as long as Clinton loyalist Terry McAuliffe remains in the governor’s mansion. Since 2015, McAuliffe has repeatedly vetoed legislation designed to protect the right to vote in the Commonwealth. The former head of the Democratic National Committee has vetoed a staggering eight bills passed by the Virginia legislature that would have strengthened election integrity, according to the PILF report.

At least two of these bills were designed to remedy the issue of non-citizen registration and voting identified in the report.

via Tyler Durden

Gold Or Treasuries: Horseman Capital Explains

Via Horseman Capital's Russell Clark,

“The upshot of this is that gold looks better than treasuries. However, it should be pointed out that this does not mean gold is a buy. It only states that gold could do better than treasuries in these market conditions.”

In December 2012, I wrote a market view outlining a potential bear case for gold (Gold – A Thought Piece). This note was making the point that gold follows Asian currency strength, in particular the Indian rupee. And in January 2014, I made the case for buying long dated treasuries (US Treasuries – The Buy Case).

Part of the argument here was that Asian currencies’ weakness tends to imply slower global inflation, making bonds attractive. Asian currencies are a diverse mix, so I tended to use the JP Morgan Asia Dollar Index (“ADXY”) as a proxy. One simple way I think about this relationship is to compare ADXY to gold/TLT ratio. (TLT is a long-dated Treasury ETF). As can be seen, the relationship tends to be quite solid, except recently when gold has started to perform better than TLT despite the ADXY being still lower than a year ago.

The logic behind this line of thinking seems quite sound to me, so what explains this recent divergence. I have the currency weightings used to calculate ADXY as of 31 December 2012. At this time weightings to CNY and HKD made up 47% of the index. Both the CNY and HKD have managed exchange rates, CNY on a crawling peg while HKD is a fixed peg to the dollar. The remaining currencies tend to be free floating, and should react much more readily to changing investment conditions. I have created an adjusted ADXY index, where I have removed CNY and HKD from the index. The adjusted index seems to suggest that gold/TLT ratio relationship to Asian currencies still holds true.

Why does the CNY deviate from other Asian currencies so much? As pointed out in a recent market view, the CNY began to weaken after many other Asian currencies. This suggests that CNY will strengthen after other Asian currencies.

The upshot of this is that gold looks better than treasuries. However, it should be pointed out that this does not mean gold is a buy. It only states that gold could do better than treasuries in these market conditions. Gold could still fall from here, but treasuries could fall further. One way that this could occur is a collapse in the US dollar, and the Federal Reserve reacting to a weakening US dollar by raising rates. Certainly, the US dollar is very expensive versus historical levels.

The other possibility is a bond bear market as foreigners dump treasuries. The US net international investment position has deteriorated significantly over the last decade.

A large part of this has been driven by an increase in foreign holdings of treasuries.

So, what does it all mean? It is very suggestive that the US dollar has peaked, and hence gold in US dollar terms should do well. It also suggests that long dated bonds could be much weaker than expected. This creates a conundrum, as higher yields tend to be dollar bullish and bad for gold. My view is that US yields have been kept suppressed by foreign investors. European and Japanese investors have been forced into treasuries by the negative interest rate policies of their central banks, while Chinese investors have reacted to devaluation fears on the CNY by also buying US treasuries.

The Trump administration has sought to reduce US bilateral trade deficits, and to my mind is suggestive that US policy may seek to weaken the dollar. Given the large negative net international investment position, and already falling holdings of treasuries, perhaps foreigners selling US Treasuries would have the net effect of forcing both the US dollar and bonds lower? I would be very cautious with investments that rely on either a strong US dollar or low bond yields.

via Tyler Durden

“I Was The Victim”: Hillary Blames Loss On “Russian Agents,” High Expectations, Comey, The Media And WikiLeaks

Earlier today Hillary Clinton offered up what some have described as one of the most delusional interviews of all time at Recode’s CodeCon conference, in which she blamed everything and everyone, including but certainly not limited to: FBI Director Comey, “1,000s of Russian agents”, right-wing media outlets, Russia, sexism, WikiLeaks, Russia, a funding deficit at the DNC, the New York Times (yes, the NYT) …oh, and Russia, for her 2016 election loss.  And while she certainly “takes responsibility” for every decision she made, Hillary desperately wants you to understand that’s not why she lost…because, you know, Russia.

“I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost.”

Of course, in all of her delusional rambling, Hillary never offered up a viable conclusion on why “Russian hackers” were only able to sway voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania but not in places like Virginia, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado…those states must just be impervious to Russian influence.

The following tweet pretty much sums up the interview…


But here are some of the details…

Starting with the Russia narrative, Hillary would like for you to know that Putin’s primary goal is to topple the U.S.  Moreover, it’s almost certain that he colluded directly with Trump in this effort, because how else could Russian agents possibly know that American’s might like to better understand Hillary’s efforts to collude with the DNC to undermine the campaign of her competitor or how she used TV personalities to steal debate questions in advance…please, that kind of insight could only come from Trump himself.

“It’s important that Americans…understand that Putin wants to bring us down. He was an old KGB agent.”


“We saw evidence of [Russian involvement] and we could track it. But they were shooed away.”


“The Russians are increasingly..launching cyber attacks. A lot of the information they’ve stolen they use for internal purposes. So this was different because they went public.”


“That was the conclusion. I think it’s fair to ask how did that actually influence the campaign and how did they know what messages to deliver. Who told them? Who were they coordinating with or colluding
with?  I’m leaning Trump.


“Within one hour of the Access Hollywood tapes being leaked, the Russians or say Wikileaks — same thing — dumped the John Podesta emails.”


“The Russians in my opinion could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided by Americans.”

Ironically, even though ‘Russia’ somehow used her emails to undermine her entire campaign, the content of her emails “was the biggest nothing burger ever.”

“My email account was turned into the biggest scandal since Lord knows when.  And, you know, in the book I’m just using everything that anybody else said about it besides me to basically say this was the biggest nothing-burger ever. It was a mistake. I’ve said it was a mistake, and obviously if I could turn the clock back I wouldn’t have done it in the first place. But the way that it was used was very damaging.”



Moreover, even though most of the stories that we and other media outlets covered came directly from the DNC’s and John Podesta’s own emails, Hillary would like for you to know that it was all “fake news”…just like when Donna Brazile told everyone that she didn’t share debate questions with Hillary…oh wait, she later confirmed that she did do that…ok, bad example. 

“They were run of the mill emails.  Stuff that were so common. Within one hour they dumped them and then began to weaponize them. They had their allies like Infowars say the most outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine. They had to be ready for that.”


“That really influenced the information people were relying on. If you look at Facebook the vast majority of the news items posted were fake. They were connected to, as we now know, the 1000 Russian agents… They were connected to the bots. It was such a new experience. I understand why people on Facebook would think ‘oh Hillary Clinton did that. I did not know that.'”


“Fake news…lies that’s a good word too.  The other side was using content that was just flat out false and delivering it in a very personalized way. Above the radar screen and below.”

Meanwhile, Hillary seems to still believe CNN’s report that Comey was duped into re-opening her email investigation on October 28th by a “classic piece of Russian disinformation,” a report that CNN has already retracted and we proved was pure “fake news” at it’s finest (see “‘Secret’ Russian Doc Influenced Comey’s Hillary Probe Even Though He Knew It Was Fake: CNN“).

“We know it hurt us, as I explain in my book, the Comey letter which was now we know partly based on a false memo from the Russians. It was a classic piece of Russian disinformation. So for whatever reason, he dumps that on me on October 28 and I immediately start falling.”

Moreover, despite what you may remember from that original Comey press conference last summer, Hillary wants you to know that she was “very responsible and not at all careless” when it came to the handling of her State Department emails…

“Well if you went all the way back, doing things that others have done before was no longer acceptable. I didn’t break any rule nobody said don’t do this. I was very responsible and not at all careless. You end up with a situation that was exploited.”

Which we believe is somewhat contradictory to the FBI’s finding…but it’s hard to be the judge:


Meanwhile, despite pretty much every major media outlet, with the exception of Fox News, dedicating their networks to cheerleading for the Hillary Clinton campaign, Hillary would also like for you to know that she lost because CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NYT, Washington Post, etc, etc, etc are not as “effective” as the “media forces on the Republican side.”

“Here’s a really telling statistic that has been validated. I had this old fashioned idea that it would matter what I would do as president. We had a great tech program and a really good set of policies. In 2008 which as the last time you had a contested election, the policies put forth by President Obama, Senator McCain got 222 minutes of airtime. In 2016 despite my best efforts, we got 32 minutes, total, over 18 months.”


“Media forces on the Republican side are entrenched and very effective.  They’re beginning to call the shots on those local stations. Local TV is still incredibly powerful.”

Again, this twitter user summarized Hillary’s media delusions well:

Oh, and she also lost because of sexism…

“I have been on many speaking platforms with many men who are in office or running for office. And the crowd gets you going and I watch my male counterparts and they beat the podium and they yell and the crowd loves it. I have tried that and it’s been less than successful.”

…and because she got pizzaid for some Goldman speeches

“Men got paid for the speeches they made…I got paid for the speeches I made.”


“I have to say, Walt I never thought someone would throw out my entire career…because I made a couple of speeches.”

But, if there was one silver lining in today’s interview, perhaps it came when Hillary confirmed that she’s not running for President ever again…

via Tyler Durden

Did Goldman Just Sell Venezuela’s Infamous “Hunger Bonds” (At A Profit)

News that Goldman purchased some $2.8 billion in Venezuela bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA and until recently held by Venezuela’s central bank – at a 30% discount to market, paying 31 cents on the dollar or around $865 million in notional – quickly set off a firestorm of angry protests, in which Goldman was accused of making money from other people’s misery (even though the story of Goldman’s involvement in Venezuela’s debt is hardly new, as we reported in 2014 in “How Goldman Sachs Became Broke Venezuela’s Loan Shark

Naturally, Goldman defended the investment, with Goldman Sachs Asset Management saying it had bought the securities from a broker and did not interact with the Venezuelan government. They will be held in funds and accounts managed on behalf of its clients.

“We recognize that the situation is complex and evolving and that Venezuela is in crisis,” it said in a statement. “We agree that life there has to get better, and we made the investment in part because we believe it will.”

The explanation did little to appease demonstrators who, according to the FT, protested outside the US bank’s headquarters in Manhattan as they attacked its purchase of securities, at a time when other foreign companies have largely stopped investing in the quasi-civil war ridden country. To fund bond repayments, Venezuela has been raiding its foreign reserves, which have dropped from $30 billion before Maduro was elected four years ago to about $10 billion; recently Venezuela’s opposition beckoned Wall Street to beware Maduro’s attempts to liquidate the country’s gold reserves as it tries to procure much needed liquidity.

The demonstrators outside the bank’s New York headquarters Tuesday chanted, “No more hunger bonds, Goldman Sachs,” and the term was flying around the internet, appearing in scores of tweets and memes that featured images of malnourished Venezuelans scavenging for food, Bloomberg reported.

But will the attempt to shame Goldman succeed?

As Bloomberg correctly notes, “growing publicity doesn’t necessarily translate into greater success in implementing the boycott, and it isn’t entirely clear what it would achieve anyway, but Jorge Botti, a Venezuelan businessman who started the movement last year, is thrilled.”

“I’ve had friends tell me I’m an idiot for talking about this, that capital has never had a heart and that’s why it works so well, but I think that world could find another way of functioning,” Botti said in an interview. “I think it’s going to start resonating a bit more.”

Botti was the first to use the term “Hunger Bonds” in October 2016 in a post to his 17,000 Twitter followers as part of his effort to raise awareness about suffering in the country. A former bondholder himself, he decided in 2015 that he couldn’t justify accepting the payments and sold his stake. “The bondholders know that they’re being paid at the expense of the country’s hunger,” said Botti, who runs a business importing hardware. “A lot of people tell me that the bonds don’t have anything to do with people, but I tell them it’s a moral issue.”

Harvard University professor Ricardo Hausmann, who gave the “hunger bonds” phrase a boost when he used it in an essay last week, argued that ethics can’t be ignored anymore.

Holding the bonds, most of which trade for about 50 cents on the dollar, risks incentivizing investors to root for payments to be made even as the populace suffers, he says. If there’s a default, bondholders will be agitating for the right to seize Venezuelan assets for payment — assets that should belong to the Venezuelan people.

As we reported yesterday, Venezuela’s opposition parties also immediately criticized Goldman, with Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly, saying lawmakers will begin an investigation and evaluate whether “a future, democratic government of Venezuela should recognize or pay on this debt entered into against the interests of our people.”

Hausmann said Goldman bought the bonds at such a discount that it can expect a yield of 48 per cent.

“These are hunger bonds,” Mr Hausmann said. “Goldman Sachs has issued a set of principles regarding human rights that they commit to abide by. They violated their own commitments.”

Others, such as Francisco Ghersi, disagreed with the protesters’ strategy. The managing director of the Venezuelan-dedicated hedge fund Knossos Asset Management said the shaming effort is misguided. Venezuela’s problems are caused by corruption and economic mismanagement, not the debt itself, he says. “What’s happening now is a tragedy, but it’s not the product of two years of paying off bonds,” Ghersi said. “It’s audacious to say that today people are dying of hunger because of the foreign debt.”

They may not be dying because of the debt, but they are certainly not being prioritzed above bondholders in Maduro’s “priority” waterfall. As such, every payment made to creditors, is a few millions dollars less than can be used to the immediate needs of the population, especially since Venezuela’s default is only a matter of time.

Botti says investors trying to guess exactly how long Venezuela will be able to keep making debt payments are being myopic. He wants the world focused on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, not the outsize returns on its bonds. “Among my fellow entrepreneurs and economists, there is no reflection on the subject,” he said. “But I think we must insist.”

Also, it is worth noting it wasn’t just Goldman. Earlier today, WSJ reported that “Nomura Securities bought about $100 million worth of Venezuelan government bonds last week as part of the same transaction that has landed Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in the thick of a political controversy.”

Nomura’s trading arm paid about $30 million for the debt, a steep discount to where the troubled country’s bonds trade in the market, according to people familiar with the matter. Those are roughly the same terms on which Goldman’s asset-management arm bought $2.8 billion worth of the same bonds in a transaction brokered by an intermediary, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.


Nomura was approached by the same intermediary, the London subsidiary of a small broker, Dinosaur Merchant Bank Ltd., some of the people said.

Of course, for the banks only one thing matters being profitable, the concerns of the protesters and the Venezuela population comes last, if at all. Then again, maybe this time is different: looking at the price of the PDVSA 6% bonds of 2022 today, shows that someone(s) was busy selling…

Did the blitz-mass media campaign actually succeed in “shaming” Goldman, forcing it to sell some – or all – of its “Hunger Bond” holdings (at a sizable profit)? If so, it would be the first time that social pressure has been a decisive factor in the bank’s investing decisions, and could potentially unleash an overhaul in how “hunger” bonds issued by other “questionable” emerging market regimes are valued and funded.

via Tyler Durden

What Makes Donald Trump Tick? Part 1

Authored by Robert Gore via,

Only the loons are still talking about impeaching Trump.

What makes Donald Trump tick? Why has he done the things he has done? Analytically, it’s advisable to set aside partisanship and other emotions when attempting to answer those questions. Thus, the following analysis is Machiavellian, in the sense that it is stripped of moral considerations, condemnation, or approbation. It is an attempt to ask the right questions and construct from the available data the most plausible hypotheses. Only time will tell if the emergent hypotheses are correct.

Machiavelli’s touchstone was power—getting and keeping it. Let’s hypothesize that Trump ran for president first and foremost because he wanted power. For 99.999 percent of politicians that’s true, so ostensibly that’s an unremarkable assertion, but especially among Trump’s supporters, power is usually not acknowledged as a motivation, much less the primary one. In his quest for power, he had several advantages: his opposition did not think he could win and wrote him off as a blowhard idiot, they publicly denigrated his supporters, and Hillary Clinton ran an inept campaign. That opposition included a considerable number of establishment Republicans and most of the Deep State.

In their overconfidence, Trump’s opponents made mistakes. Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich was gunned down July 10, 2016. There was no sign of robbery; his watch and wallet were not taken. Twelve days later WikiLeaks released a trove of embarrassing DNC emails that documented DNC favoritism towards Hillary Clinton and a concerted effort to stop her opponent, Bernie Sanders. The emails led to the resignation of party chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz. There has been speculation that Rich was the WikiLeaks source. WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of his murderer.

Let’s make two plausible assumptions, clearly labeled speculative. First, assume Rich was the source of the WikiLeaks’ disclosure. Second, assume DNC operatives instigated his murder. There would be two explanations why Rich’s killing was not set up to look like a garden-variety Washington robbery and murder. One is simple incompetence: Rich’s murderer or murderers botched it. The more plausible is that the murder was meant to send a message to anyone else in the DNC who might have been considering “betraying” the organization. Making it look like robbery and murder would have muddled the message. Within the DNC, the instigator or instigators believed that a proper investigation would be quashed by the Obama administration and what they overconfidently reckoned would be the incoming Clinton administrations.

After the WikiLeaks’ disclosure, the DNC concocted the Russian hacking story to discredit the disclosure and hired cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to “verify” it. CrowdStrike did no such thing, but the imaginary hacking served as the foundation for the specious Russian-Trump collusion story. Again, the DNC and its allies within the intelligence agencies, the FBI, and the media made an egregious mistake born of overconfidence. They assumed that with a Clinton victory the Russian story would have done what it was designed to do—discredit both the embarrassing disclosure and Trump—and most probably would have let it die.

Except Trump won the election. As SLL explained in “Plot Holes,” this put the entire establishment in a panic, and not because of policy differences.

The real story isn’t Russia. Do you mount a “soft coup” over policy differences when, after all the Washington give and take, those policies will, at worst, marginally affect your influence, power, and payola? Doubtful. (Keep in mind Trump wants to increase military budgets.) If, on the other hand, you’re facing complete disgrace and ruin, including a long stretch in a penal institution, there’s nothing you won’t do to save yourself.


It’s not what politicians and bureaucrats do sub rosa that poses the biggest danger to the country and the world, but what they do in broad daylight. However, there’s no denying that Washington is the world capital of sub rosa—the unethical, immoral, and illegal. To use a favorite Trump adjective, it’s a crooked place. Trump knows or suspects where some of the bodies are buried, and the powers that be fear he’ll go after them for everything from garden-variety graft, bribery, theft, and influence peddling to crimes as sordid as child molestation and murder.

Thus the frantic effort to depose Trump that began as soon as he won the election. The Russian story couldn’t be abandoned. Flimsy as it was, it was all his opponents had, although using it reeked of desperation and weakness (see “Desperation” and “Plot Holes”). The intelligence community, James Comey’s FBI, and the captive media did their best to put some lipstick on this pig, but anyone with a three-digit IQ and a shred of intellectual integrity could see there was no real evidence to support it. How could there be? Ominously for them, illegal intelligence and FBI leaks to the media were giving Trump and the Justice Department grounds for a counterattack: investigation of the leaks.

Two curiosities stand out in FBI Director James Comey’s firing. Unlike many stories in the leak-prone Trump administration, the dismissal came out of the blue; secrecy was tightly maintained. Also, Comey was essentially fired by television (a letter was later delivered) while he was 3,000 miles away from Washington in California. Per its usual practice the mainstream media attributed both to Trump’s shortcomings: impetuosity and rage at Comey’s investigation of the Russian connection. For the following contrary analysis, SLL is indebted to an article by a Mr. Livingston—who goes by the name of Doc—received in an email from a friend. Again, we are entering the area of speculation, but this speculation provides a more plausible explanation for the curiosities.

According to Livingston, Trump had long wanted to fire Comey but had to wait for the right moment. That moment was when Comey was out of Washington. Secrecy was maintained because if he had any inkling of what was going on, he would clean out his office and purge his computer files after saving them to a secure cyber-location. By handling the firing the way he did, Trump allowed his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to take control of Comey’s office and files. Livingston asserts that Sessions, as head of the Department of Justice of which the FBI is a part, had the legal authority to do so.

If Sessions, and by implication Trump, have Comey’s files and other materials, what are the implications? At the least, they have proof the Russia story was a fabrication. They probably know whatever Comey knows about the Seth Rich murder and Comey’s allies (some of whom may be leakers or receivers of leaks), not just within the FBI, but within the intelligence community, other agencies within the federal bureaucracy, the legislature, and the media. As head of the FBI, Comey, a seasoned and cynical Washington hand, undoubtedly collected secrets about both friends and foes. That’s the job’s best perk. If in fact Trump and Sessions have all this information, then they have much of official Washington by its testicles.

The question then is whether they use the information to launch a public swamp draining, or use it sub rosa to further their political goals.

Part Two argues that in light of Trump’s recent trip abroad, the latter is more likely than the former, and that he has changed both the power calculus and American foreign policy.

via Tyler Durden

One Bank’s Stunning Forecast: “A Quarter Of All Malls Will Close Over The Next Five Years”

One month ago, we first presented several striking charts and observations from Credit Suisse’s retail analyst, Christian Buss, who showed the extent of the devastation sweeping through the US retail sector.

To be sure, while the mass shuttering of retail stores – just today Michael Kors announced the company would close up to 125 full-price retail stores –  has been a recurrent topic on this website, most recently in the context of the next “big short”, namely the ongoing collapse in the mall REITs and associated Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities and CDS, one observation from Buss left us borderline speechless: “Barely a quarter into 2017, year-to-date retail store closings have already surpassed those of 2008.”

According to the Swiss bank’s calculations, on a unit basis, approximately 2,880 store closings were announced as of the end of April, more than twice as many closings as the 1,153 announced during the same period last year. Historically, roughly 60% of store closure announcements occur in the first five months of the year. By extrapolating the year-to-date announcements, CS estimated that there could be more than 8,640 store closings this year, which will be higher than the historical 2008 peak of approximately 6,200 store closings, which suggests that for brick-and-mortar stores stores the current transition period is far worse than the depth of the credit crisis depression.

Another striking fact: on a square footage basis, approximately 49 million square feet of retail space has closed YTD. Should this pace persist by the end of the year, total square footage reductions could reach 147M square feet, another all time high, and surpassing the historical peak of 115M in 2001.

While there was more in the full analysis, the bottom line was simple: there is just too much retail real estate as Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne admitted this past March, when he said “Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared. This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.”

The excess retail space means that North America has a glut of retail outlets, as well as far too many shopping malls, something which is becoming apparent as sales per capita decline. As we further showed in the chart below, on a per capita basis, the US has roughly 24 square feet of retail space per capita, more than twice the space of Australia and 5 times that of the UK.

Which brings us to the latest report from Credit Suisse, according to which a staggering 20-25% of the 1,100 US shopping malls – between 220 and 275 shopping centers – will shut down within the next five year, resulting in a shockwave within the US retail and mall REIT sector, and slamming everything from equities to CMBS.

The Swiss bank cited mass store closings, the rise of e-commerce, and the growing popularity of off-price chains, which tend to be located outside shopping malls, among the reasons for the potential mall closings.

While painful for both employees and shareholders, and resulting in millions of total layoffs, Buss sees the closures as a long overdue restructuring of the US retail sector, of which the mass mall closures are just one of the “4 keys for survival” for those US retailers who haven’t already filed for bankruptcy. They include:

1) Real Estate Rationalization

  • 20-25% of malls will close, fixed expenses must come down

2) eCommerce Investment

  • eCommerce will grow from 17% of industry sales to 35%-plus

3) Supply Chain Transformation

  • Deep value will grow from 25% of industry sales to 35%

4) Brands Win Over Multi -Brand Retail Selling Ubiquitous Product

  • Expect continued brand disintermediation of traditional retailers, emphasis on unique brand crucial

Yet even a full-blown “rationalization” of the supply-side of the equation may not be enough, because while there is clearly a glut in retail space a just as dangerous trend is the ongoing collapse in total spending growth, which is a function of demand, and how healthy – or not in this case – the US consumer is.

Absent some rebound in this series, the Credit Suisse forecast will end up being optimistic.

via Tyler Durden

Urgent Warning Issued By Human Rights Group Over New Police Bill In Congress

Authored by Josie Wales via,

Last week, Human Rights Watch penned an open letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees voicing their strong opposition to a new bill that would make it nearly impossible to sue police for constitutional violations. Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Representative Ted Poe (R-Tex.) proposed the identical bills on May 16th “[t]o protect law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.”

Co-Director of Human Rights Watch Alison Parker writes that H.R. 2437/S.B. 1134, or the “Back the Blue Act,” doesn’t protect police from danger, but rather “protects police departments from liability, and removes incentives for those departments to monitor themselves and improve the quality of their policing.”

The proposed bill would make significant amendments to Sections 1983 and 1988 of the U.S. Code, shielding police officers from civil liability even in cases of grievous misconduct, making new federal crimes out of offenses already covered by state laws and imposing harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Qualified immunity already provides police with broad protection from liability by requiring proof that not only were an individual’s rights violated but whether or not a reasonable officer was aware that their misconduct violated the plaintiff’s rights. Qualified immunity has been described by experienced civil rights litigator and professor of law Alan K. Chen as “one of the most impenetrable barriers to liability for constitutional violations.” According to Professor Chen, “the Court has shaped the doctrine in ways that make it more closely resemble absolute immunity.”

Under the Back the Blue Act, if police can prove that the violation and any injuries or damages inflicted“incurred in the course of, or as a result of, or . . . related to, conduct by the injured party that, more likely than not, constituted a felony or a crime of violence . . . (including any deprivation in the course of arrest or apprehension for, or the investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of, such an offense),” the offending officer would be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses only. The law would also preclude victims from recovering attorneys’ fees.

As the letter explains:

This amendment means that if police arrest someone for selling marijuana, and beat him without justification, that person may only recover medical expenses, but nothing for emotional distress, pain and suffering or punitive damages to deter future misconduct. If a police officer unlawfully shoots and kills someone committing an act of vandalism, the police department would be liable for funeral expenses and nothing more. Such a limit on liability would make it much harder for victims of abuse to secure effective legal representation, and remove a major restraint on unjustified violence by police officers.”

The new bill also imposes harsh mandatory minimum sentences under federal law for any assault on a police officer causing “bodily injury,” which is defined to include injuries as minor as a bruise, abrasion, or even the temporary feeling of physical pain. This removes the court’s discretion, preventing judges from issuing sentences proportionate to the individual circumstances of the case. In addition, the Back the Blue Act will expand the federal death penalty to include those convicted of killing police, removing certain habeas corpus protections and again limiting judicial discretion — even in states that have abolished the death penalty.

“Under the guise of protecting officers, this bill would make police less accountable, which can only undermine their legitimacy with the communities they serve,” said John Raphling, senior criminal justice researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Congress should reject this dangerous bill.”

Human Rights Watch’s observations are all the more vital considering at least 385 Americans have been killed by police this year alone, and officers around the country continue to impose constitutional violations on citizens every day.

via Tyler Durden

Obama-Era Officials Subpoenaed By House Intel Committee In Trump “Unmasking” Probe

While it was not surprising that as part of the ongoing probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the House Intel Committee issued a total of seven subpoenas on Wednesday as the WSJ reported, what was surprisng is that in addition to four subpoenas focusing purely on the Russia investigation, the Republican-led committee also issued three subpoenas focusing on “unmasking” questions, involving how and why the names of associates of President Donald Trump were unredacted and distributed within classified reports by Obama administration officials during the transition between administrations.

As part of the “unmasking” investigation, in addition to the NSA, the House committee also subpoeaned the FBI and the CIA for information on how and why Trump-linked names were exposed to the entire US intel community, and led to an avalanche of “unnamed sources” stories. Recall that typically information about Americans intercepted in foreign surveillance is redacted, even in classified reports distributed within the government, unless a compelling need exists to reveal them. Unmasking requests aren’t uncommon by top intelligence community officials but Republicans want to know whether any of the unmaskings of Trump campaign officials during the transition were politically motivated.

According to the WSJ, Republicans on the committee have been pushing for a thorough investigation of how the names of Trump campaign officials became exposed in classified intelligence reports based off intelligence community intercepts. Specifically, the three “unmaksing” subpoenas seek information on requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power for names to be unmasked in classified material.

The name of Samantha Power hasn’t previously been reported as a potential witness in the probe, and her inclusion in the subpoenas means that Republicans are also broadening their areas of investigation, the WSJ reports.

The House Intelligence Committee is one of two bodies currently probing the question of whether Russian meddled in the 2016 election and whether anyone from Trump’s campaign played a role.

Concurrently, the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own investigation and has already issued subpoenas to Flynn and his businesses. Trump has said there was no collusion with Russia and called the investigation a witch hunt.

via Tyler Durden

James Clapper And The Revolving Door Of Corruption In The Military Industrial Complex

Via Disobedient Media

James Clapper is known for many things:

Being accused by Colonel W. Patrick Lang of “damn near destroy[ing] the DIA.” Withholding information from lawmakers and not having a good reputation in the intelligence committees for being orostraightforward and actively forthcoming. Lying under oath in 2013. Receiving the Rosemary Award for having the worst open-government performance of 2013. Being derided as “another old hack in a job without teeth” by the global intelligence organization Stratfor and describing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as “largely secular.”

Underestimating the war in Syria while also underestimating ISIS and overestimating the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. Stating that changes to the Benghazi reports were not made for political reasons, and that there was “no attempt to mislead the American people about what happened in Benghazi.” Having US senators remove a section of an intelligence bill requiring the White House to disclose information on “noncombatant civilians” killed by US drone strikes overseas.

Lying to Congress by asserting that Julian Assange has been indicted for a sex-crime and falsely claiming under oath that there was no release of Republican data during the 2016 presidential elections. Clapper also has contended that he played in integral role in reporting on the presence of WMD’s in Iraq, stating that “my fingerprints were on that national intelligence estimate, I was in the community then” as well as his involvement in the manipulation of military intelligence reports.

However, there is one aspect of Clapper’s history that has not received as much media coverage: his involvement with private intelligence contractors at the heart of corruption and inefficient defense policy.

I. Booz Allen Hamilton

James Clapper, who served as the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) from August 9, 2010 – January 20, 2017, was appointed by President Barack Obama to succeed Bush appointee Mike McConnell. While both men were appointed to their position by Presidents from opposing parties, both have one thing in common: Booz Allen Hamilton.

Before being appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence in 2006, Clapper was an executive on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton. Similarly, Mike McConnell was Senior Vice President at Booze Allen Hamilton before his promotion to serving as DNI. In the aftermath of Clapper being appointed to DNI in 2010, McConnell returned to Booze Allen Hamilton where he become the Vice Chairman in 2011.

In 2010, during his nomination hearing, Clapper was asked about the close relationship between the federal government and contractors. Clapper responded by defending the private sector’s role, stating: “I worked as a contractor for six years myself, so I think I have a good understanding of the contribution that they have made and will continue to make.”

In fact, the relationship between the federal government and Booz Allen Hamilton is so close that as Bloomberg noted, one could: “Name a retired senior official from the NSA or the CIA or the various military intelligence branches, and there’s a good chance he works for a contractor—most likely Booz Allen. Name a senior intelligence official serving in the government, and there’s a good chance he used to work for Booz Allen.”

What is the significance of this? As reported in September of 2016, “For the first time since spy agencies began outsourcing their core analytic and operational work in the late 1990s, the bulk of the contracted work goes to a handful of companies: Leidos, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSRA, SAIC, and CACI International.” In other words, there is almost a complete monopoly on defense contracting in the U.S.. There is a club, and only former government employees are able to join it.

II. Booz Allen Hamilton History Through Clapper’s Tenure as DNI

Throughout Clapper’s tenure as Director of National Intelligence, Booz Allen Hamilton has had a series of problems in maintaining the intelligence secrets of the U.S. government.

In 2011, the hacking collective, Anonymous, broke into a server operated by Booz Allen Hamilton, disclosing log-in credentials including 90,000 military email addresses and passwords. This information contained the login information for personnel from CENTCOM, SOCOM, the Marine Corps, Air Force facilities, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, as well as other private sector contractors. According to Anonymous, Booz Allen Hamilton, despite working with federal government on defense matters, lacks security. Anonymous targeted Booz Allen Hamilton due to the company’s involvement in the controversial SWIFT surveillance program. The Privacy Commission of Belgium, where the SWIFT program is headquartered, declared that the surveillance was a violation of European privacy laws.

Despite this hack, Booz Allen Hamilton continued to receive government contracts.

In February 2012, the Air Force proposed the debarment of the Booz Allen office in San Antonio, Texas, along with five of its employees, after a senior associate allegedly shared protected, non-public information regarding information technology support services contact that would have given Booz Allen an unfair competitive advantage. The Air Force agreed to lift their suspension of Booz Allen after the company agreed to pay the Air Force a $65,000 penalty.

In 2013, Edward Snowden stole a significant amount of data from Booz Allen Hamilton before passing it to Wikileaks. These leaks showed the massive government surveillance being conducted by the NSA, in violation of American’s Fourth Amendment Rights. However, one important detail that was vaguely mentioned was that Edward Snowden was and employee of Booz Allen Hamilton. More importantly, Snowden was an employee for Booz Allen for less than three months. While the information provided by Snowden has been extremely beneficial to the American people, it should be concerning to all Americans that an employee can pass a federal background check, and leak highly classified information to the public after being employed for three months. In fact, as reported by Reuters, hiring screeners at Booz Allen Hamilton found possible discrepancies in Snowden’s resume, but the company still chose to employ him. This raises questions of how competent these contracting agencies are in performing simple background checks.

However, despite the “Snowden leaks”, the company would continue to win government contracts, as months later, Booz Allen would become one of 16 other companies to win a $6 billion contract, becoming one of the largest unclassified cybersecurity agreements in U.S. history. Some of the most notable contracts awarded to Booze Allen in 2013 included:

June 17, 2013: $133 million award from GSA for program, tech, & sustainment IT support to assist PM TR & Product Mngmnt (PdM) Offices to procure & field tactical radio network communication systems.

June 21, 2013: $25.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to provide program and technical support to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Policy in coordination and management of its policy research and assessment.

July 23, 2013: $78 million in competitive contract actions to support critical national health offices in its first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

August 2, 2013: $900 million to support the integrated cybersecurity and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) operations of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic (SCC Atlantic).

August 22, 2013: $243 million award from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)/NAWCAD Pax River to provide technical products & engineering services for JPALS, N-UCAS & UCLASS programs.

Booz Allen Hamilton would continue to be awarded many notable contracts throughout 2013.

In August 2013, when asked how Booz Allen is able to continue to be awarded such high profile contracts, Joe Newman, communications director for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, responded: “When you start talking about these contractors at the top of the list, a lot of times they’re what we call ‘too big to suspend or debar. Their tentacles are so deep in the government that it’s very hard for the government to punish them.”

Newman went on to state that firms such as Booz Allen have a personal advantage, in that they not only spend millions on lobbying, but that, “Former executives of Booz Allen are in government, and people in government have gone into Booz Allen’s payroll; they know each other—they look out for their friends.”

In October 2016, it was reported that another employee of Booz Allen was found to be in unauthorized possession of Top Secret information. Harold T. Martin III, who worked as a contractor to the NSA through the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, was found to be in possession of approximately 50,000 gigabytes, enough to store 500 million documents containing images and text. This information ranged from 1996 to 2016, and included a document regarding specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies. The Justice Department disclosed that these documents included the names of covert intelligence officers were among the pilfered data.

However, despite the arrest of a former employee in possession of Top Secret information, Booz Allen profit margins would not be hurt. In fact, despite this arrest, Booz Allen’s stock hit historic highs since it went public in 2010. Booz Allen’s stock would be upgraded from “neutral” to a “buy” rating, increasing the value from $33 to $41.

III. Booz Allen Hamilton Is Owned By The Controversial Carlyle Group

Booz Allen also acts as a subsidiary for a larger holding company with controversial connections to international private equity group which has troubling ties to figures linked to terrorism and oppressive regimes. In May 2008, Booz Allen Hamilton was purchased by the Carlyle Group. In 2010, the same year that James Clapper was appointed Director of National Intelligence, Booz Allen Hamilton went public. By 2013 the Carlyle Group owned 95.66 million shares, around 69% of company, which was valued at about $1.66 billion.

The Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager with $162 billion of assets under management across 287 investment vehicles.

The Washington Post has noted that as of March 31, 2010, Booz Allen Hamilton’s reported operating income of less than $200 million on revenue of $5.1 billion. However, within only 3 years, revenue rose to $5.8 billion, as operating income doubled to $446 million. As the Post notes, while sales rose slowly, profit margins rose dramatically, which explains how, “bottom line earnings went from $25 million in fiscal 2010, to almost nine times that in 2013.” Reports have indicated that this surge in profits was due to a massive influx of government spending. In 2013, it was further reported that company filings showed that 99% of Booz Allen’s overall revenue came from the federal government. In 2016, it was reported that 97% of Booz Allen’s overall revenue came from the federal government.

On October 31st, 2001, The Guardian reported that the family of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was listed as one of the firm’s multi-million dollar investors. The Bin Laden family is reported to have been invested in the Carlyle Group for six years.  In fact, as a member of the board, former President George H.W. Bush is also reported to have visited the Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm’s behalf.

On January 8th, 2011, ABC News reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, considered by many to be an oppressive dictator, was using tear gas in order to disperse crowds of protestors. However, these tear gas canisters were labeled “Made in U.S.A.” and were being produced by Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania. Combined Systems International is partially owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlye Group.

In 2012, the relationship between the Carlyle Group and the Middle East was further revealed with the release of the Global Intelligence Files by Wikileaks. According to an email from September 19, 2007, David Marchick, former Deputy United States Assistant Secretary of State who served in the Clinton Administration, represented the Carlyle Group in a sale of aviation assets to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2016, after the release of the Panama Papers, the identity of another major investor in the Carlyle Group was brought to light. This investor was none other than billionaire George Soros. According to the Panama Papers, it was revealed that Soros Capital set up an offshore company in the Cayman Islands for the purpose of investing private equity with the Carlyle Group. Soros has spent hundreds of millions to support various anti-government movements, including the Women’s March, the People’s Climate March, the Tax Day protests and far left Berkeley protest group Refuse Fascism. The ACLU also began actively organizing and training protest movements just one month after Soros sank $35 million into the group. On May 26th, 2017, Disobedient Media reported that Soros was also supporting groups who were using the net neutrality movement as a means of promoting censorship of alternative and conservative media outlets.

James Clapper’s close affiliation with a defense industry riddled with corruption and firms who have specifically affiliated with figures who openly engage in hostile behavior towards the United States severely calls his credibility into question given the central role he has played in informing the U.S. government and public on matters pertaining to the current administration. Clapper has in the past disingenuously tried to claim that the Russian government intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, while also admitting that there was no evidence of Russia affecting the vote tallies in any U.S. states. Given the current U.S. president’s public commitment to cutting back on fraud, corruption and waste in all sectors of the U.S. government, the professional ties of those speaking as authorities on American political issues are of high importance. Clapper’s indicate that they incentivize him to defend harmful and unethical practices, and will influence him to mislead rather than speak truthfully to the American people.

via William Craddick

The Real Reason To Own Bitcoin

Authored by Simon Black via,

In 1483, just as Johannes Gutenberg’s new moveable type printing press was spreading across Europe, Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire issued a staunch decree banning the machine from his realm.

At the time the Ottoman Empire was the dominant superpower in the world, having conquered most of the Middle East, North Africa, and southeastern Europe.

But Bayezid was afraid of the new technology.

He and his advisors felt that the printing press would too easily allow information and new ideas to spread across his empire.

And they believed this would threaten their control and offend the religious establishment.

So not only did Bayezid ban the printing press, he imposed the death penalty upon anyone caught using one.

The Ottoman Empire remained so closed off to new ideas, in fact, that the only western book to be imported and translated for the next 3 centuries was a medical text on the treatment of syphilis.

Needless to say the Ottoman Empire did not remain the world’s dominant superpower for long.

It was during this period that Europe underwent radical growth.

Just a few centuries before, most of Europe was nothing more than a plague-infested backwater of irrelevant kingdoms.

But by the mid-1600s, Europe had surged ahead, in part due to the rapid spread of knowledge made possible by the printing press.

It was the Internet of its time.

And scientists like Isaac Newton would never have been able to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ had it not been for that disruptive, revolutionary technology.

Western civilization as a whole owes much of its prosperity to the printing press, which enabled the sharing of information and ideas.

And the example shows how embracing new technology can make an enormous difference in the development of a society.

Today most western governments probably still feel that they are embracers of technology who encourage innovation.


But this is nothing more than a crude fantasy, especially when it comes to one of the most disruptive technologies of our modern time: cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency is today’s printing press– a truly game-changing technology that the ruling elite sees as a threat to their control.

This is why there have been so many ridiculous rules and tax policies that disincentivize cryptocurrency ownership– the technology is too disruptive.

Banks have enjoyed unparalleled power and influence for eight centuries, going all the way back to the Medici rule in the early Italian renaissance.

Bankers controlled the money, and were consequently able to control governments, laws, and even wars.

In the fight against Napoleon in the early 1800s, for example, the fate of the British war effort was not in the hands of the generals and admirals, but in the hands of the Rothchild banking family that financed them.

In the early 1900s, it was JP Morgan who engineered a revolution in Panama and imposed a puppet government so that his bank could finance the lucrative canal project.

And just a decade ago the heads of the top Wall Street banks cajoled the entire US government into a trillion-dollar taxpayer-funded bailout.

The only reason banks enjoy such immense power is because they control the money.

But if you think about it, banks are nothing more than middlemen, taking money from depositors and loaning it out to borrowers.

In fact the old joke in banking was the famous 3-6-3 rule: pay 3% on deposits, loan money at 6%, be on the golf course by 3pm.

Cryptocurrency disrupts this absurd middleman monopoly.

Think about it: when you send money to someone, those funds move from your bank, to the central bank, to another bank, and then finally to the recipient’s account.

This is the same way that money used to be transferred 800 years ago…

… which seems almost tragically anachronistic given that we have apps today to send funds directly to a recipient’s mobile phone or email address.

Who needs a middleman anymore?

Why should anyone borrow money from a bank when there are so many Peer-to-Peer and crowdfunding platforms available?

Why pay exorbitant fees and commissions to exchange currency when there numerous websites that exchange money at almost no cost?

Banks as financial intermediaries are about as quaint as taxi dispatchers in the age of Uber.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology are the final nails in the coffin, making it possible to hold your savings in the cloud rather than at a bank.

And if that seems too esoteric, consider that your savings is already ‘digital currency’.

Banks don’t keep bricks of physical cash in their vaults; your bank balance is nothing more than an accounting entry in your bank’s electronic database.

It just happens to be 100% controlled by your bank.

They can gamble your savings away on some idiotic investment fad, charge you ridiculous fees without your consent, and even freeze you out of your own account (‘for your own security’) or deny you the right to withdraw funds.

Cryptocurrency de-centralizes this system. You become your own banker. No more middleman.

THIS is the principal reason to own cryptocurrency.

It’s not about price speculation. Too many people are buying Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. to gamble on the price.

This totally misses the point.

The idea isn’t to trade paper money for Bitcoin, hoping to trade that Bitcoin back for more paper money later. It’s the same with gold and silver.

There are far less volatile ways to make money and enjoy a great risk-adjusted return.

Cryptocurrency is about divorcing yourself from an anachronistic financial system that has never missed an opportunity to abuse you.

And that makes it worth understanding.

This is especially true if you’re naturally skeptical of the idea or have already passed judgment on Bitcoin as a ‘scam’ without having learned about it first.

Cryptocurrency is the future of finance. And just as embracing new technology can be prosperous for societies, it can also be prosperous for individuals.

Note- I’m not suggesting you buy Bitcoin at $2,000+. Far from it. We’ll talk about that soon.

Do you have a Plan B?

via Tyler Durden