First, Secure The Borders

Authored by Jeff Thomas via,

As Ludwig von Mises correctly stated, in a free state, no one is forced to remain within the state. Anyone who seeks to emigrate is free to do so. This is, in fact, one of the primary tenets of liberty – if you don’t like it, you can leave.

And so, it follows that, if the right to exit is curtailed in any way, the state has ceased to be free.

There are those, including myself, who feel that, once this line has been crossed by a state, it’s time to skedaddle. Don’t wait for conditions to “get better.” They won’t. History shows us that, in every case where migration has become curtailed, the state never reverses to a more open policy; in fact, it becomes decidedly more restrictive.

We’re presently living in a period in which most of the countries that were formerly the most free, half a century ago, have declined considerably and many are approaching a state of totalitarianism.

Readers of this publication will be familiar with my forecasts that the principle countries that are at the forefront of this decline will be steadily increasing both their capital controls and their migration controls. With regard to the latter concern, the emphasis will not be on keeping non-productive people out, it will be on keeping productive people in.

Please read that last line again, as it’s very telling.

As the reader will be aware, the EU and US are rife with problems regarding large numbers of people immigrating from other countries. The respective governments do all that they can to encourage this immigration, including providing immigrants with rights and benefits that are not accorded to the tax-paying citizens of those jurisdictions.

All the more reason, then, that an eyebrow should be raised when these jurisdictions make it more difficult for their own citizens to travel within or exit the jurisdiction.

The US, for example, now has a 100 mile zone along all its borders, where checkpoints are set up to control the movements of those who pass through them. Citizens are routinely asked intrusive questions that they are not lawfully obligated to answer, yet, if they don’t, they may have their car windows smashed, be tased, apprehended and subjected to search and detainment. As can be seen in this video, the policies set nine years or more ago for the patrols bear a striking resemblance to those of the Nazi Brownshirts of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.

Of course, it’s quite true that Americans are presently able to fly out of the country, as long as they have a valid passport and submit to a search, so, does this not suggest that it’s paranoia to think that the ever-expanding number of “border” inspections occurring 100 miles within US boundaries has any purpose other than to detain illegals?

Well, there is that niggling problem that the US government goes way out of its way to allow illegals to enter, then provides them with welfare, education, housing, healthcare and other encouragements. In addition, an illegal is far more likely to be released than an American citizen if he commits a crime, even if that crime is murder.

Clearly, the segment of the population that’s being indoctrinated to believe that they no longer have the right to move freely are American citizens themselves.

But the question remains, why?

Well, a simple answer is that, historically, whenever a state has created an economic and/or political time bomb that’s set to go off in the not-too-distant future, that state has instituted migration controls to assure that its most productive members do not leave.

This can be seen throughout history and is presently most visible in Venezuela, whose porous borders have allowed over 2.3 million people to escape to neighbouring Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador in recent years.

The state has ramped up its border controls in order to stem this flow, but has found that merely guarding the border is not sufficient. A buffer zone is additionally necessary – one where anyone travelling is suspected of attempting to exit.

And, again, this is nothing new. Buffer zones and “no man’s lands” have existed throughout history. At present, the US practice of shaking down those in vehicles is merely a nuisance – the removal of the “inalienable right” to liberty on a temporary basis.

However, it does not bode well for the future. If the only reasonable explanation for these inland checkpoints – some of which are placed in small towns where everybody knows each other – is to get citizens accustomed to the concept that they do not have the right to liberty, it’s a necessary step to achieve, if the intent exists to one day curtail migration by US citizens.

Such zones would then be quite effective, not just in discouraging anyone living in the 100-mile zone, but in discouraging any American citizen. If, for example, someone living in Nebraska decided to exit a deteriorating US, he’d know that he’d be unlikely to penetrate a 100-mile zone that included innumerable checkpoints.

That would leave airports as the only alternative. And, in actual fact, for those government agencies that perceive a future problem of thousands and perhaps millions of productive people exiting, creating limits at airports is easy. That system of identification and search is already in place. All that’s needed is for the agent at the desk to say, “I’m sorry, sir, but the computer tells me that permission for you to board this flight has been denied.”

Those who use airports to travel in and out of the US are already familiar with the fact that they are not to refuse authorities in any way whatsoever. Those few who create a fuss are often escorted to the back room. Their fate, whether it be good or bad, is never learned by other travelers, but the message is clear – comply with everything.

Returning to Mises, in a free state, no one is forced to remain within the state. Anyone who seeks to emigrate is free to do so.

For those who recognize that the US is no longer a free country, as it once was, the question arises: Do I accept that my liberty has been removed by my government? Do I wait, in the vain hope that a state that’s moving headlong into totalitarianism will somehow magically reverse itself and reinstate my liberty?

Or do I choose to make an exit now, while the window of opportunity still exists and migrate to one of the countries where liberty is still very much alive?

But, again looking at history, the latter decision has been uncommon in the extreme. From Rome in the fourth century, to Nazi Germany in the 20th century, history shows that very few people take action while there’s still time. The great majority wait until the migration restrictions have been implemented, then attempt to leave, usually unsuccessfully.

In the ramping-up of any totalitarian police state, one of the warnings that conditions are going to become more draconian in the near future is that the state first secures the borders. That warning is as invaluable as it is prophetic.

*  *  *

New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his International Man team put together a free report on the best international diversification strategies. Click here to download the PDF now. And please, feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested in this valuable information.

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San Diego Home Sales Collapse To Lowest Level In 11 Years 

A combination of rapid mortgage rate increases and decreased affordability, San Diego County home sales collapsed 17.5% to the lowest level in 11 years last month, in the first meaningful sign that one of the country’s hottest real estate markets could be at a turning point, real estate tracker CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

In September, 2,942 homes were sold in the county, down from 3,568 sales last year. This was the lowest number of sales for the month since the start of the financial crisis when 2,152 sold in September 2007.

CoreLogic said median home prices dropped in the region to $575,000, the first decline since January, after hitting a record high of $583,000 in August.

Some experts blamed the slowdown on rising mortgage rates, which have drastically increased the per month debt servicing payments for potential new homebuyers.

“The double whammy of higher prices and rising mortgage rates has priced out some would-be buyers and prompted others to take a wait-and-see stance,” said Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic analyst, in the release. “There was one caveat to last month’s sharp annual sales decline — this September had one less business day for recording transactions. Adjusting for that, the year-over-year decline would be about 13 percent, still the largest in four years.”

On a monthly basis, sales declined 22% in September compared with August. Cyclically, sales tend to drop 10% from August to September, but this time, it seems that industry is experiencing late cycle stress.

The report also said sales of newly built homes are suffering more than sales of existing homes because homebuilder production remains below the historical mean. New home constructions come at a premium. Sales of newly built homes were 47% below the September average dating back to 1988, while sales of existing homes were 22% below their long-term average.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller San Diego Home Price NSA Index (data via Reuters Eikon) shows a potential double top with 2005 high. Lifetime high occurred in July 2018 of 259.69, with the index now fading into the Fall period.

Additional S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller San Diego Home Price data 

“Price growth is moderating amid slower sales and more listings in many markets,” LePage said. “This is welcome news for potential homebuyers, but many still face a daunting hurdle – the monthly mortgage payment, which has been pushed up sharply by rising mortgage rates.”

Last month, Bank of America Called It: “The Peak In Home Sales Has Been Reached; Housing No Longer A Tailwind.” It seems that the San Diego real estate market woes are more evidence that storm clouds are gathering over the broader U.S real estate market. 

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Bond Bear Bull

Some lessons for bond bears from the land of the rising sun…

Authored by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,

On February 12, 1999, the Bank of Japan announced that it was going full zero. Japan’s central bank would from that day forward push the overnight uncollateralized lending (interbank) rate to the zero lower bound. Further, it pledged to keep it there until Japan’s economy recovered.

The economic slump in the nineties had been by 1999 almost a decade in length. As the Japanese economy ground to a halt, unmovable and completely resistant to being restarted by any of the orthodox techniques tried up to that point, there came to be an institutional bid for government paper. It was the perfect illustration of Milton Friedman’s interest rate fallacy – low interest rates signal tight money in the real economy. The bid was pure liquidity risk, having nothing to do with the “fundamentals” of bonds.

ZIRP was intended to try and change that condition. The mere rumors about it all the way back in 1998 had kicked off a BOND ROUT!!! From September 1998 through February 1999, it seemed as if the so-called bond bull market had finally been broken. Central bankers would ride to the economy’s rescue with non-standard “accommodation.”

The bond market for a brief time operated in the same misconception as Japanese central bankers. We are taught from Economics 101 that central banks are central; that when confronted with stubborn economic circumstances they need only use the tools they have available.

In nineties Japan, then, what was missing was the will to deploy all of the various methods at the disposal of uninhibited central bankers. The world’s first zero interest rate policy seemed like a change in at least official mindset. The bull market would be history.

Except, there is no such thing as a bond bull. It just doesn’t happen, at least not that way. The term has been conjured by bond shorts as a way to make it seem there is no value, therefore no justification, for interest rates staying ridiculously low.

We can all agree on at least that idea; interest rates should never, ever be low for a prolonged period. But the bond bears are dead wrong about why they get there and more so why they stay there. Economic and liquidity risks are ultimately what this is all about. Bull or bear, those are fundamental terms inappropriate to the full range of government bond uses.

The bond “bull market” is simply the investors in that market, almost always the very banks themselves, expressing often deep skepticism over these ridiculous monetary schemes. This disbelief, however, is variable. There are times, like late ’98, early ’99 when markets might bet differently; that what might seem like a zero percent chance of success in late ’98 could be turned into a slightly positive chance by the actual implementation of ZIRP in early ’99.

Even as late as the middle of 2000, the “bond bull market” still seemed precarious. In August of that year, the Bank of Japan ended ZIRP based on its forecast of a recovering Japanese economy. Embarrassingly, just months afterward the central bank would be cutting back to ZIRP all over again; the first of many forecast errors on the part of monetary officials who always model their efforts favorably.

By the middle of 2003, though the nineties “bull” trendline had stayed steadfastly broken it didn’t matter in the slightest. Interest rates were lower by then than they had been at the lowest point during the prior decade. Like the term, these multi-year lines are ultimately arbitrary and not meaningful.

What matters is perception and ultimately correct views on where things are heading. It sometimes can take years for that to become fully apparent. The “bull market” was back in effect for a further three years until 2003, and then it was broken again for an additional four years beyond.

By July 2006, three years after BoJ had turned “hawkish” in June 2003, it would attempt a second “rate hike” regime. JGB’s had already smashed another even longer long-term trendline long before then; the 10-year yield in July 2006 was the highest since that spike into ZIRP in February 1999. Much was made of the highest yields in seven years. Showmanship, not honest analysis.

BoJ central bankers would actually get to a second rate hike in February 2007. They expected as did most Economists it was just the beginning of policy, therefore interest rate, therefore economic normalization. With every “bull” trend broken, the central bank clearly hawkish, the Japanese market was set up for the mother-of-all-BOND ROUTs!!!!!!!!!! 

It didn’t happen. Instead, as per usual, yet another forecast error. Central bankers were raising their policy rate and ending QE based on actually the same faulty premises. Japan’s economy hadn’t really changed.

It had gotten a bit better in the middle 2000’s, but it was increasingly clear to anyone outside the Bank of Japan’s offices that this wasn’t the same as actual economic growth and recovery. The Japanese economy had hit a sort of low ceiling that kept the actual upside very minimal, and therefore the same defects that had come to plague the system after 1989 were still present even more than a decade after the initial crash.

We know all-too-well how this story ends – or at least progresses up to the current day. Interest rates in Japan would go on to set new lows, negative yields almost all the way down the curve; even the 30-year bond would get almost to zero during the worst of the last “rising dollar” downturn in 2016.

There is no such thing as a bond bull market, which means that it can’t really end at least not on those terms. There is only the bond market deciding upon the right degree of skepticism as to whether the underlying economic condition, meaning money tightness, has meaningfully changed. A categorical shift in baseline direction. 

Even if doesn’t, there can be times when market participants bet as if there is a chance it might. This is the usefulness of reviewing the JGB’s history. These periods of reflation can last years and break some new ground. But, in the end, the highest rate in years may not really mean what you think.

Variable degrees of skepticism just isn’t as shocking and spicy as shouting about the end of the bond bull market. What matters is not where interest rates are, it’s whether or not we are really out. Over time, that’s where prices and interest rates will develop. Given what’s going on now, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if over the next multi-year period UST rates not only register new lows less than 2016 but follow Japan’s under zero for a large part of the curve. It may take some time, there will be resistance from the short end with central banks the last to figure out what’s really happening.


Because nothing has changed. Eleven years of “accommodations”, ZIRP’s, and global QE’s and we are still staring at another downturn. The (non-linear) contraction remains in place – worldwide.

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Mostly Suicidal Group Of Trauma Victims Kick PTSD With Help Of MDMA: Study

A new study has reached a promising conclusion in an experiment that measured the effects of MDMA, (a.k.a. Ecstasy) on mental well-being among suffers of PTSD. While the experiment was limited by no control group and just 28 participants – over 95% of whom had considered suicide at least once – 76% of participants fell below the criteria for PTSD within one year after “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.” 

Twenty-eight people with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder were randomized in a double-blind dose response comparison of two active doses (100 and 125 mg) with a low dose (40 mg) of MDMA administered during eight-hour psychotherapy sessions. –Journal of Psychopharmacology

The study, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and conducted by licensed professional counselor Marcele Ot’alora in Boulder, Colorado, found that the mean PTSD scores (CAPS) for each test group fell by up to 28%. 

The subjects who received the low dose in the first two sessions were later given an opportunity to take active doses, after which their mean CAPS score fell by another 47 percent. All three groups of subjects showed continued improvement at the one-year followup, when the average CAPS score was 31, down from 92 at baseline. That’s a drop of 66 percent. The highest possible CAPS score is 136, and the cutoff for a PTSD diagnosis is 50. By the end of the study, 19 of the 25 subjects (76 percent) were below that threshold. –

While study does not separate the effects of the psychotherapy from the benefits of the MDMA – a 2005 meta-analysis of PTSD sufferers reveals that 62% of those who have undergone psychotherapy alone fell below diagnostic thresholds for the condition. In short, MDMA may be an effective method of maximizing the impact of psychotherapy for PTSD sufferers. 

The theory behind MDMA-assisted psychotherapy

“(MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy is a novel approach that combines psychotherapy with limited administration of MDMA in a controlled setting to enable people suffering from PTSD to process trauma more effectively,” reads the study. “MDMA’s unique subjective and therapeutic effects induce an optimal state that complements the process of working through traumatic memories while reducing the fear response.  Trauma theorists have asserted that emotional engagement is necessary for processing traumatic experiences and, under the influence of MDMA, people are able to remain emotionally connected while working with difficult traumatic material.”

Of those in the experiment who had moderate to severe PTSD, three treatments of psilocybin brought them below the medically defined threshold for the disorder, while those initially suffering from lower levels of PTSD required just two treatments.

To understand if three experimental sessions were more beneficial than two sessions, outcomes were evaluated again two months after the third (last) MDMA session. After the third experimental session, both the 100 mg and 125 mg groups showed further reductions in CAPS-IV scores, providing evidence that an additional session significantly improved PTSD outcomes. On the other hand, after the 40 mg group crossed over, a large treatment response resulted after two open-label sessions with little change after the third. –Journal of Psychopharmacology

Read the study below:

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Luxury Home Prices In Singapore Soar 13% As Vancouver Prices Crash 11%

Singapore has now overtaken Hong Kong as the top city for luxury home price gains in Q3.

Luxury home prices in Singapore were up 13% in the third quarter from the year prior, according to Knight Frank LLP’s Prime Global Cities Index. The rising prices were partly the result of limited supply of higher end properties.

Hong Kong instead fell to 14th place, with just a 5.5% year-over-year gain during the third quarter.

And the rise in Singapore does little to offer a picture of what the luxury property market looks like globally. Worldwide, luxury properties rose by just 2.7% on average across the 43 cities that make up the index – this is the weakest performance in annual terms in almost 6 years.

Cities like Edinburgh and Madrid found themselves in the top five, while London wound up moving into negative territory, watching prices fall 2.9% as a result of the continuing uncertainty around Brexit. Cities like Paris and Berlin posted steady gains of 5.6% and 5.4%, respectively.

Also among the decliners was Dubai, where prices fell 3.8% resulting in the middle eastern city being the fifth worst on the list. Stockholm, Istanbul and Taipei all registered 6.3% year-over-year declines, tying them all for second worst place.

Finally, pulling up the rear is Vancouver, where we have spent time documenting a collapsing real estate bubble over the last couple of months. Vancouver saw its luxury home prices down 11% as more affluent pockets of the city, like West Vancouver, saw a pronounced slowdown in sales.

At the beginning of October, we asked readers what happens when prices rise so high that a chasm forms between bids and asks in Vancouver? The market grinds to a halt.

That’s what happened in September, when according to the Real Estate Board of Vancouver (REBGV), residential property sales tumbled by 17.3% from August 2018, and a whopping 43.5% from one year ago. In fact, a total of only 1,595 transactions took place as both buyers and sellers continue to sit on their hands amid confusion whether the recent torrid price gains will continue or whether the housing bubble has burst.

Sales of detached properties in July was just 508, a decrease of 40.4% from the 852 recorded in September 2017, and the 812 apartments sold was a 44% drop compared to the 1,451 sales in September 2017.

And no, it’s not seasonal: last month’s sales were a whopping 36.1% below the 10-year September sales average.

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Facebook Approves Political Ads From 100 Out Of 100 Fake Senators

Facebook approved political ads by journalists pretending to be political candidates 100 out of 100 times, according to a report by VICE

One of Facebook’s major efforts to add transparency to political advertisements is a required “Paid for by” disclosure at the top of each ad supposedly telling users who is paying for political ads that show up in their news feeds.

But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the “Paid for by” feature is easily manipulated and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad. –VICE

To test Facebook’s system, VICE News applied to run ads on behalf of all 100 sitting US senators, “including ads “Paid for by” Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.” Each and every one was approved, suggesting that anyone can buy a political ad and pretend to be a major US politician

While VICE didn’t actually buy any advertising, Facebook granted permission for the fake senators to share ads from fake political groups such as “Cookies for Political Transparency,” and “Ninja Turtles PAC.” 

Last week, VICE conducted a test in which they sought and received approval to run political ads pretending to be Mike Pence, DNC Chairman Tom Perez and the Islamic State Group. An attempt to place an ad posing as Hillary Clinton was not approved

But these tests show that compliance with the feature is entirely voluntary, meaning a tool that Facebook introduced to increase trust in advertising can also be used as a vector for misinformation, and another way bad actors can game Facebook’s platform. –VICE

“If Facebook is going to claim to verify who’s paying for political ads, they need to actually do the work,” said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), who added “Clearly it needs to do far more to combat fraudulent and false content, both in paid advertisements and viral posts.”

Facebook confirmed their approval of the 100 “Paid for by” disclosures by fake Senators, adding that they never should have been approved. Hilariously, they argued that the feature has brought a new level of transparency to political advertisements, suggesting that we should focus on the big picture. 

“We know we can’t do this alone, and by housing these ads for up to seven years, people, regulators, third parties and watchdog groups can hold these groups more accountable,” said Rob Leathern, Facebook’s Director of Product Management. 

Facebook rolled out the “Paid for by” tool in May “to help prevent abuse, especially during elections.” Leathern underscored its importance. “This will help ensure that you can see who is paying for the ad,” he wrote at the time. “Which is especially important when the Page name doesn’t match the name of the company or person funding the ad.”

His colleague echoed that a few days ago. “When it comes to advertising on Facebook, people should be able to tell who the advertiser is and see the ads they’re running, especially for political ads,” Facebook Vice President of Ads Rob Goldman wrote on Oct. 27. –VICE

Facebook acknowledged that their new tools to combat foreign influence may not be entirely foolproof.

“These changes will not prevent abuse entirely. We’re up against smart, creative and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse,” Leathern wrote, adding. “But we believe that they will help prevent future interference in elections on Facebook. And it is why they are so important.”

That said, as VICE notes: “Posing as 100 senators didn’t require being smart, creative, or even particularly well-funded,” and typically took only a few minutes each. The news outlet used 10 fake Facebook pages with zero content and changed the “paid for” disclosure after each senator was approved. 

In order to run a “Paid for by” disclosure on Facebook, you must first submit the name to the company for approval, along with an image of a valid driver’s license and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Facebook has embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign to show off its new political transparency tools, including “Paid for by” disclosures. –VICE

VICE was denied on one other name aside from Hillary Clinton; Mark Zuckerberg

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Western Media Make One Death A Tragedy, Millions A Statistic

Authored by Finian Cunningham, via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Western media coverage devoted to the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi proves the cynical adage that one person’s death is a tragedy, while millions of deaths are a mere statistic.

During the past four weeks since Khashoggi went missing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the case has been constantly in the news cycle. Contrast that with the sparse coverage in Western news media of the horrific Saudi war in Yemen during the past four years.

The United Nations has again recently warned that 16 million in Yemen were facing death from starvation as a result of the war waged on that country by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab partners, with the crucial military support of the US, Britain and France. That imminent death toll hardly registered a response from Western media or governments.

Last week, some 21 Yemeni workers at a vegetable packing plant near the Red Sea port of Hodeida were killed after US-backed Saudi warplanes launched air strikes. Again, hardly any condemnation was registered by Western governments and media pundits.

Admittedly, some politicians in the US and Europe are lately expressing disdain over the Saudi-led war and the possible culpability of Western governments in crimes against humanity.

Nevertheless, in proportion to the public concern devoted to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi there is a staggering indifference in relation to Yemen. How is possible that the fate of one man can provoke so much emotion and angst, while millions of children in Yemen appear to be shrugged off as “collateral damage”.

Partly, the circumstances of Khashoggi’s murder by a Saudi death squad are more easily visualized. His connections as a journalist working for the Washington Post also ensures ample interest from other media outlets. Photos of the 59-year-old Saudi dissident and his personal story of going to the consulate in Istanbul to obtain official papers for an upcoming wedding to his Turkish fiancée also provided a human identity, which then garners public empathy.

Another factor is the macabre plot to trap him, torture and dismember his body by a Saudi hit team who appear to have been acting on orders from senior Saudi regime officials. Khashoggi’s bodily remains have yet to be recovered which adds to the interest in the grisly story.

Regrettably, these human dimensions are all-too often missing in the massive suffering inflicted on Yemen. Thousands of children killed in air strikes and millions perishing from disease and starvation have an abstract reality.

When Western media do carry rare reports on children being killed, as in the Saudi air strike on a school bus on August 9, which massacred over 50, the public is still relatively insensate. We are not told the victims’ names nor shown photographs of happy children before their heinous fate.

However, the contrast between one man’s death and millions of abstract deaths – all the more salient because the culprits are the same in both cases – is not due simply to human callousness. It is due to the way Western media have desensitized the Western public from their appalling lack of coverage on Yemen.

The Western media have an urgent obligation because their governments are directly involved in the suffering of Yemen. If the Western media gave appropriately more coverage with human details of victims then it is fair to assume that there would be much greater public outrage over Yemen and an outcry for justice – at least in the form of halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Such calls are being made over the Khashoggi case. Surely, the same calls for economic and diplomatic sanctions should therefore be made with regard to Yemen – indeed orders of magnitude greater given the much greater scale of human suffering.

The Western news media have been shamefully derelict in reporting on Yemen’s horror over the past four years. One of the most despicable headlines was from the BBC which described it as a “forgotten war”. The conflict is only “forgotten” because the BBC and other Western news outlets have chosen to routinely drop it from their coverage. That omission is without doubt a “political” decision taken in order to not discomfit Washington, London or Paris in their lucrative arms trade with the Saudi regime.

Another way at looking at the paradox of “one death a tragedy, a million a statistic” and the Western media’s nefarious role in creating that paradox is to consider the fate of individuals facing death sentences in Saudi Arabia.

Take the case of female pro-democracy protester 29-year-old Israa al Ghomgham. Israa was arrested three years ago because she participated in peaceful protests against the Saudi monarchy. She and her husband Moussa al Hashem are facing execution any day by decapitation. Their only “crime” was to participate in non-violent street demonstrations in Saudi’s eastern provincial city of Qatif, calling for democratic rights for the Sunni kingdom’s oppressed Shia minority.

Another case is that of Mujtaba al Sweikat. He also is facing death by beheading, again because he was involved in pro-democracy protests against the absolute Saudi rulers. What makes his case even more deplorable is that he was arrested in 2012 at the age of 17 – legally a minor – when he was leaving the country to take up studies at Western Michigan University in the United States.

It is not clear if these individuals – and there are many more such cases on Saudi death row – will be spared by the Saudi monarchy in the light of the international condemnations over the Khashoggi killing. Any day, they could be hauled to a public square and their heads hacked off with a sword.

If we try to explain the disconnect in Western public reaction to the Khashoggi case, on one hand, and on the other, the massive misery of Yemen, one might invoke the cynical adage about a single death versus millions. But then how does that explain the apparent lack of public concern over the imminent death of individuals such as Israa al Ghomgham, her husband Moussa, or the student Mujtaba al Sweitat?

The tragedy of desensitized abstraction is not due to overwhelming numbers. It is primarily due to the willful omission – and worse, misinformation – by Western media on the barbarity of the Saudi regime and the crucially enabling support given to this regime by Western politics and economics.

The apparent disconnect is due to systematic Western media distortion. That’s not just a flaw. It is criminal complicity.

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Chinese Yuan Tumbles To New Cycle Low Amid Signs Of Capital Outflows

 As Chinese markets began to wake, yuan just broke below 6.98/USD for the first time in this downswing, despite PBOC liquidity withdrawals sending money market rates spiking (to squeeze yuan shorts).

This has the distinct smell of capital outflows…

It has been a one way street since Golden Week…


And if former UBS Chief Economist George Magnus is right, any hopes for the G20 meeting between Trump and Xi should be extinguished. In a series of tweets, Magnus warned…

Trump and Xi are supposed to meet at the G20 in Buenos Aires at end month. Will they talk trade? They need to cos Trump has already threatened to subject the other of 50% of imports from China to punitive tariffs. This is how he prepares the ground, telling Fox News:

“I think that we will make a great deal with China and it has to be great, because they’ve drained our country,”.

Designed to turn XJP frostier, be even less inclined to bring something to the table, and more anxious not to be seen to be succumbing to foreign pressure.

So I think, barring something going on in the background, these talks are set up to fail, assuming they happen. The 10% tariff rate is due to go to 25% on 200bn $ of goods on 1 Jan anyway, and we shd probably expect WHY to go for the remaining 250bn $ of imports in new year…

2019 big year for China. centenary of founding of CCP. and rivals Soviet CP’s 72 years in power. Xi’s Chinese Dream of Rejuvenation of Chinese Ppl isn’t just a slogan. Being seen to succumb to Trump’s WH is just not on. Expect both sides to dig in further

Begs question as what China will do next. Xant tit for tat any more, as they have run out of room. @davidjlynch in @washingtonpost reminds us that tourism cd be a target. Targeting US firms also could be cranked up. Yuan depreciation also poss tho v risky at home too …

Much longer discussion and background written up in Red Flags, just out in the US this month….the details change with the news and announcements, but the substance is sadly all too clear.

For now, 7.00 looms heavy on the horizon… and everyone knows the target is there to test PBOC.

6.9895 is the historical low for offshore yuan (Jan 2017)…

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Over 50% Of College Students Afraid To Disagree With Peers, Professors

As more and more college professors express their social and political views in classrooms, students across the country are feeling increasingly afraid to disagree according to a survey of 800 full-time undergraduate college students, reported by the Wall Street Journals James Freeman. 

When students were asked if they’ve had “any professors or course instructors that have used class time to express their own social or political beliefs that are completely unrelated to the subject of the course,” 52% of respondents said that this occurs “often,” while 47% responded, “not often.”

A majority—53%—also reported that they often “felt intimidated” in sharing their ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different from those of the professors. –WSJ

What’s more, 54% of students say they are intimidated expressing themselves when their views conflict with those of their classmates. 

The survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of Yale’s William F. Buckley, Jr. Program (which counts Freeman among its directors), was undertaken between October 8th and 18th, and included students at both public and private four-year universities across the country. 

This is a problem, suggests Freeman – as unbiased teachers who formerly filled universities have been replaced by activists who “unfortunately appear to be just as political and overbearing as one would expect,” and that “perhaps the actual parents who write checks can someday find some way to encourage more responsible behavior.” 

Read the rest below via the Wall Street Journal 


As for the students, there’s at least a mixed message in the latest survey results. On the downside, the fact that so many students are afraid of disagreeing with their peers does not suggest a healthy intellectual atmosphere even outside the classroom. There’s more disappointing news in the answers to other survey questions. For example, 59% of respondents agreed with this statement:

My college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech. 

This column does not favor hatred, nor the subjective definition of “hate speech” by college administrators seeking to regulate it. In perhaps the most disturbing finding in the poll results, 33% of U.S. college students participating in the survey agreed with this statement:

If someone is using hate speech or making racially charged comments, physical violence can be justified to prevent this person from espousing their hateful views.

An optimist desperately searching for a silver lining would perhaps note that 60% of respondents did not agree that physical violence is justified to silence people speaking what someone has defined as “hate speech” or “racially charged” comments. But the fact that a third of college students at least theoretically endorse violence as a response to offensive speech underlines the threat to free expression on American campuses.

Perhaps more encouraging are the responses to this question:

Generally speaking, do you think the First Amendment, which deals with freedom of speech, is an outdated amendment that can no longer be applied in today’s society and should be changed or an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in today’s society?

A full 79% of respondents opted for respecting the First Amendment, while 17% backed a rewrite.

On a more specific question, free speech isn’t winning by the same landslide. When asked if they would favor or oppose their schools having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty, 54% of U.S. college kids opposed such codes while 38% were in favor.

The free exchange of ideas is in danger on American campuses. And given the unprofessional behavior of American faculty suggested by this survey, education reformers should perhaps focus on encouraging free-speech advocates within the student body while adopting a campus slogan from an earlier era: Don’t trust anyone over 30.

via RSS Tyler Durden