Deutsche Bank Is Scrambling For A ‘Plan B’ To Justify Abandoning Commerzbank Merger Talks

The fraught, government-assisted courtship of troubled German banking giants Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank has hit yet another snag. According to a series of reports published Thursday morning, concerns about a mass defection of mutual clients moving some, or all, of their business is giving Deutsche Bank – long reputed to be the more reluctant partner – cold feet.

Deutsche CEO Christian Sewing is reportedly trying to devise a ‘Plan B’ to pitch to investors who support the tie-up. These investors are reportedly demanding that if Deutsche doesn’t go ahead with the merger, it must come up with a plan to turnaround its struggling business as its streak of declining revenue is widely expected to continue.

However, while investors are demanding that the bank try ‘something different’, the options reportedly under consideration (as described by Bloomberg) sound like more of the same: They include a) more cost cuts, focusing on DB’s investment bank and b) a nebulous ‘strategy shift’ that would involve more upfront costs. However, Sewing must at least find a way to paint the turd gold, so to speak, since a return to his original strategy simply ‘wouldn’t be credible’.

DB

In another sign that the deal could be headed for the rocks, BBG noted that after five weeks of talks, the two banks are apparently no closer to a deal. Meanwhile, more Social Democrats, the party of finance minister Olaf Scholz – who is perhaps the biggest proponent of a merger, which he hopes will create a new German ‘national champion’ to support its industrial sector – are siding with the labor unions from the two banks, which have warned that a merger could lead to the loss of 40,000 jobs.

Cuts

Yet even after senior ECB policymakers reportedly expressed skepticism about the deal, the talks have continued, perhaps because two other European lenders, Italy’s Unicredit and Dutch ING, have expressed an overt interest in buying Commerzbank.

Deutsche Bank Supervisory Board Chairman Paul Achleitner has said DB will give an update by April 26, when DB’s Q1 earnings are due out. Commerzbank has been pushing for an earlier update.

But in a sign that critics of the deal (of which there are many, including the Qatari wealth funds that are among the biggest shareholders in the two banks) are making headway in trying to stop it, the Financial Times reported that the prospects for  ‘revenue attrition’ are why DB is suddenly getting nervous. BBG added that doubts about cost savings and the battle to raise capital to finance the deal are also among the bank’s concerns.

In another area where the two banks don’t see eye to eye, Deutsche Bank’s estimates for how much revenue would be lost as a consequence of the deal are significantly higher than Commerzbank’s.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are at odds over how many clients would ditch the Frankfurt-based rivals if they merged, highlighting one of the many obstacles to a deal that could transform the face of German banking. Many companies in Germany are clients of both Deutsche and Commerzbank.

Some of them are expected to move parts of their business to rival lenders if the merger happens to avoid becoming overly dependent on a single lender. Deutsche’s internal estimates suggest that this would result in lost revenue of slightly more than €1bn a year, or about 3.5 per cent of the two lenders’ combined pro forma revenue of €33.5bn.

Commerzbank’s view is much more benign, however. It expects that the merged group will suffer only about half of the revenue losses its larger rival is predicting, people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.

For what it’s worth, JPM’s estimates are more in line with Commerzbank’s.

Kian Abouhossein, analyst at JPMorgan, estimated earlier this year that about 2.5 per cent of joint revenue — or just under €900m by 2021 — would disappear “due to [an] overlap in clients and businesses”. He estimated the merged group would have its “biggest overlap in Mittelstand, followed by international corporates, financial institutions and small business customers”.

But in a ironic twist, it’s looking increasingly plausible that Deutsche Bank’s track record of being “the biggest money laundering bank in the world” – as Maxine Waters so eloquently put it – might end up sinking the deal that its CEO so clearly doesn’t want. According to a separate report in the FT citing internal Deutsche Bank sources, the bank has reportedly estimated that it processed at least €175 million ($197 million) of dirty money for Russian criminals between 2011 and 2014. The bank is bracing itself for fines and litigation. And this doesn’t include the €160 billion ($180 billion) in ‘suspicious’ money that it processed on behalf of Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

Regulatory concerns about AML  might be one potential out for DB. But if the bank really must come up with a ‘Plan B’ if it wants to justify abandoning the talks without risking shareholder backlash, well, we can only think of one realistic alternative: Let Deutsche Bank fail.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2VRyAy1 Tyler Durden

Mueller Report Day: Here’s What To Expect

Later today the public will finally get their hands on the long-awaited Mueller report – albeit with color-coded redactions to identify the multiple reasons that certain information from the almost 400-page report can’t be shared with Congress or the public. 

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Washington to discuss the release, while the report will be delivered to Congress via compact disc between 11 a.m. and noon according to Bloomberg

Democratic leaders blasted Barr’s decision to brief the White House before the release of the report – with five House chairmen releasing a joint statement demanding that Barr cancel the press conference and “let the full report speak for itself.” According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mueller’s testimony in front of Congress “as soon as possible” is the only way to restore public trust after what they called Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling” of the report. 

“This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it,” reads the letter. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who signed the letter, also chimed in on the way the Mueller report is being released

In a taste of the bickering in store, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) mocked Nadler, tweeting that he’s “deeply troubled” by the way the Clinton email probe ended, the way the Trump-Russia collusion probe began & how some at the DOJ/FBI abused FISA for the Page spy warrants.”

The Report

Mueller’s massive investigation saw more than 2,800 subpoenas issued, nearly 500 search warrants, and around the same number of witness interviews, according to Barr. Also included by Mueller was a series of exhibits, however it’s unclear if that will be released.  

Some members of Congress will be allowed to view a copy of Mueller’s report “without certain redactions,” according to a Wednesday filing by federal prosecutors. 

“Once the redacted version of the report has been released to the public, the Justice Department plans to make available for review by a limited number of Members of Congress and their staff a copy of the Special Counsel’s report without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case,” they wrote in the filing. 

According to Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, the Mueller report will answer a key complaints Democrats have had since Barr released a four-page summary of the report; why did Mueller decline to make a decision on whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice – something he spent months investigating?

The special counsel found there was evidence “on both sides of the question” of whether Trump obstructed justice and that his probe didn’t “exonerate” the president, according to a four-page summarythat Barr released last month.

Nonetheless, Barr and Rosenstein concluded that the evidence on obstruction didn’t warrant a criminal charge after Mueller submitted his final report. –Bloomberg

The Mueller report won’t be a comprehensive narrative that “tries to reconstruct all the events of the 2016 campaign,” notes Bloomberg.

Justice Department regulations say that Mueller should explain in a report to the attorney general the decisions that he made on who to prosecute, and he can choose to discuss additional relevant findings.

Barr is going beyond what’s required under Justice Department regulations by sharing any of the report. The regulations require only that he inform Congress if the special counsel was prevented from taking a significant action. Barr has said there was no such situation. –Bloomberg

What to look for

For starters, it will be interesting to note whether Mueller actually investigated the genesis of the FBI’s decision to launch their counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign, as well as the history and use of the controversial and largely unverified “Steele Dossier” used to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. 

Some have suggested that FBI’s investigation was a setup from the beginning. Recall that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS – who paid a former UK spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled a bogus dossier using Kremlin sources, which was then used against Trump both at the federal level and in court of public opinion.

Also recall that Maltese professor (and self-admitted Clinton foundation member) Joseph Mifsud seeded Trump aide George Papadopoulos with the rumor that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. 

Papadopoulos would later drunkenly pass this information to Australian diplomat (and Clinton ally) Alexander Downer, whose report reached the FBI and launched operation crossfire hurricane

The FBI would then employ at least one spy to “infiltrate” (spy on) the Trump campaign. 

Also of interest will be clues as to why Barr and Rosenstein didn’t establish that Trump or his campaign did not obstruct the investigation. 

That said, Democrats are hoping that the report might reveal evidence of Trump-Russia collusion that simply didn’t rise to the level of charging anyone with a criminal conspiracy. 

The report also might reveal who on the campaign directed long-time Trump associate Roger Stone to communicate with WikiLeaks about releasing information damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the weeks before the election.

It could also shed light on the relationship between Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who Mueller prosecuted, and Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller has said has ties to Russian intelligence services. Kilimnik was indicted last year on conspiracy to obstruct justice. –Bloomberg

Redactions

Barr and Mueller have worked together over the last several weeks to redact key portions of the report – and have used color-coded labels to indicate why various things can’t be seen by Congress or the public. These include grand jury proceedings, classified programs and ongoing investigations – as well as things that could damage the reputations of individuals who were “peripheral” to the investigation

Barr says he won’t withhold damaging information about public officials, however – including Trump – simply to protect their reputations. 

The attorney general also could withhold details of internal White House deliberations, citing executive privilege. He told lawmakers on April 9 that he decided not to seek Trump’s input and had “no plans” to assert the privilege traditionally asserted by presidents who say they need to be able to have private conversations.

That type of information could reveal Trump’s conversations before he fired FBI director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as attempts the president made to fire other top Justice Department officials. –Bloomberg

“A heavily redacted report should not be acceptable to anyone, especially if the report was redacted to protect the president or his associates,” said former New York federal prosecutor Harry Sandick, currently a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. 

Prosecutors gave some clue as to what’s going on with the redactions – which are also intended to protect the privacy of uncharged third parties and investigations on “a number of matters” which Mueller has passed along to other prosecutors

“It is unknown how long some of these investigations may remain ongoing,” said Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Kravis. “And some of the privacy interests that are being protected may persist indefinitely.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2UHs6p6 Tyler Durden

Initial Jobless Claims Tumble To Fresh 50 Year Lows

Initial jobless claims keep grinding lower and lower.

The last time this few Americans sought the help of government after losing a job was in November 1969. Initial Jobless Claims tumbled another 5K from the prior week’s revised 197K to just 192K: the second consecutive sub-200K print in 50 years, and the lowest print since September 1969.

While the number will probably not come as a big surprise in light of the recent sharp rebound in payrolls, the Fed will be hard pressed to explain why it is pausing its rate hikes at a time when the fewest number of Americans are filing for jobless benefits in half a century.

For some context, the last time claims were this low:

  • The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” Album hit #1
  • Wendy’s Hamburgers, American fast food restaurant chains founded by Dave Thomas opens in Columbus, Ohio
  • Alcatraz Island off SF, is seized by militant Native Americans
  • US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR

So much for that government shutdown Q1 weakness.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2PjRVp9 Tyler Durden

US Retail Rebounds In March As Autos, Gas Sales Surge

Having re-slumped in February, after bounding back from December’s plunge, US Retail Sales were expected to rebound solidly in March (as analysts projected auto sales and a bounce in gas prices would help) and it did.

Headline retail sales rose 1.6% MoM in March  (crushing the 1.0% expected)

Under the hood, every single category rose in April except sporting goods, hobby, and book stores…

While Autos and gas stations soared…

Core retail sales (ex autos and gas stations) rebounded notably in March after it plunged in February…

Everything is awesome again – like it was in January, remember?

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2Djsore Tyler Durden

Tesla “Spontaneously Catches Fire”, Is Incinerated After Burning For Hours

Just hours after we reported three new executive departures – and just days ahead of Tesla’s Autonomous Driving event – the good, old fashioned oil-backed naked-short selling conspiracy FUD just keeps on rolling in. 

A Tesla vehicle near Pittsburgh caught fire and burned for hours on Wednesday night at an area service garage. The fire occurred despite Tesla engineers reportedly having access to the vehicle prior to moving it. The photos are stunning, showing what appears to be a vehicle that has been close to completely incinerated and reduced to a heap of smoldering wreckage. 

The same car had previously caught fire back in February in a garage around the same area, according to CBS 2 Pittsburgh. It was being towed to a new shop on Wednesday and “somehow” caught fire again, despite the fact that a Tesla engineer tried to reduce the risk of fire by removing the fuse from the battery pack prior to transporting the vehicle.

“We removed the car from the garage. A Tesla engineer removed the fuse from the battery pack prior to transport, indicating that would make the car safe for transport. We brought it here to Monroeville, arrived around 3:30 in the afternoon, and about 6:20, the car spontaneously caught fire,” forensic engineer David Bizzak said.

The car burned for about four hours before firefighters were able to get it under control.

Recall, back in December, we wrote an article about a brand new Model S that spontaneously combusted – twice. The car was not being worked on and was not involved in a collision when it caught fire in a tire shop parking lot near the Bay Area, according to NBC. After the fire department arrived and the Tesla was subsequently towed away, it then reignited a second time at a tow yard.

The owner of the tire shop said after the vehicle was brought in on a tow truck and they noticed a “hissing sound” coming from it before the vehicle went up in flames. The batteries in the vehicle continued to burn long after the flames were put out, the fire department concluded, and there was no indication that anyone was shooting at the batteries this time – so there goes that excuse.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2GlYhjI Tyler Durden

Veil-Wearing Witness’s Religious Concerns Trump Public Trial Rights

Tyreese Copper was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. (This comes from Commonwealth v. Copper, which was decided in September 2018, but I just learned about it from a follow-up federal opinion filed early this month.) At trial, eyewitness Davina Sparks was called to testify; but she was a veil-wearing Muslim woman, and (to quote the government’s brief),

[C]ounsel objected to Ms. Sparks testifying while wearing her Muslim garb that covered her face. Ms. Sparks refused to remove the garb, citing her religion as the reason for her refusal. Out of deference to Ms. Sparks’s religious beliefs, the court decided to clear the courtroom for Ms. Sparks to testify without her face garb “so I can at least have her taking off her covering only in the presence of the people who are absolutely essential to being here,” i.e. the jury, court staff, defense counsel, and defendant. Trial counsel did not object to the court’s proposal. Ms. Sparks agreed to remove her face garb in a courtroom cleared of spectators.

Eventually, Copper sought to overturn his conviction on the grounds that his lawyer was ineffective for failing to object to a violation of Copper’s Public Trial Clause rights. But a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court said no, concluding that the judge’s decision didn’t violate those rights:

“[T]he right to a public trial is not absolute; rather, it must be considered in relationship to other important interests….” Commonwealth v. Conde (Pa. Super. 2003). We have permitted exclusion orders for “the protection of a witness from embarrassment or emotional disturbance.” Moreover, “an exclusion order which is designed to protect a witness from emotional trauma will not necessarily be constitutionally infirm if it excludes the entire public for a limited time.”

Based upon the foregoing, we discern no abuse of discretion in excluding spectators from the courtroom while Ms. Sparks testified…. [I]n striking a balance between Appellant’s right to a public trial and the need to respect the witness’ religious beliefs, the trial court cleared the courtroom, but only for the duration of Ms. Sparks’ testimony. The exclusion was limited in duration to protect the witness from emotional disturbance, as well as to protect Appellant’s right to confront her and to allow the jury to make effective credibility determinations….

Note also that the First Amendment has been read as securing the public’s right of access to court hearings (and court records), to much the same degree as the Public Trial Clause secures a criminal defendant’s right to have the trial be public. The court’s reasoning would thus suggest that the witness’s felt religious obligation to have as few men as possible see her unveiled trumps this First Amendment right of access as well as the Public Trial Clause.

Is this right? The seemingly unlimited command of the Public Trial Clause suggests that it isn’t, but there are indeed lower court cases that do allow that command to be trumped in some instances. Thus, for instance, Rovinsky v. McKaskle (5th Cir. 1984), stated,

The right to a public trial is not absolute: limitations on public attendance may be imposed so long as they are no more exclusive than necessary to protect a state interest that outweighs the defendant’s interest in public scrutiny of the proceedings. Indeed, the protection of witnesses from embarrassment or intimidation so extreme that it would traumatize them or render them unable to testify is a state interest sufficiently weighty to justify partial or complete exclusion of the press and public.

Classic examples are (to borrow from a list in another case), “to protect dignity of witness in rape trial,” “to protect witness with fear of testifying in public,” “to protect witness afraid of testifying,” “to protect witnesses from intimidation,” to protect child witnesses in rape trial from embarrassment,” “to protect witness and his family where safety threatened,” “to preserve confidentiality of undercover agents in narcotics case,” and
“to protect from disclosure of trade secrets.”

So the question, under these cases, is whether a witness’s reluctance to testify in public for religious reasons should be treated analogously to a witness’s reluctance to testify for more commonly felt secular reasons (such as fear of retaliation or embarrassment related to testifying about sex crimes). Perhaps the closest analogy is the “fear of testifying in public” case (U.S. v. Eisner (6th Cir. 1976)), where the court approved of an exclusion based on the witness’s relatively idiosyncratic apparent psychological condition (the judge “had apparently determined that the witness was afraid of any spectator being present in the courtroom”); but perhaps that case, too, went too far.

Since I’m not a Public Trial Clause expert, I asked a couple of people who were, and they graciously responded and allowed me to quote them. From Prof. Stephen Smith (Santa Clara Univ.):

In fact, this is not a run-of-the-mill closure case, because it’s in Pennsylvania. What does that mean? It appears that Pennsylvania is alone in ignoring the Supreme Court’s public trial jurisprudence. As the Third Circuit recently said, in an unpublished case, “[w]e are deeply concerned that Pennsylvania courts, including the Superior Court in Tucker’s case, are not applying Waller when analyzing defendants’ Sixth Amendment public-trial claims.” Tucker v. Superintendent Graterford SCI, 677 F. App’x 768, 776 (3d Cir.).

The Supreme Court’s Waller case created a strict scrutiny regime for Sixth Amendment public trial claims (borrowed from the First Amendment right of access to courts cases), but it’s an odd one in application. Cases applying Waller often uphold closure orders, so it’s an area where “fatal in fact” is not true. Nonetheless, it is, at least nominally, strict scrutiny. Pennsylvania’s “abuse of discretion” standard can’t really be reconciled with that.

There is some disagreement in lower courts about whether Waller‘s test must be applied in cases of “partial” or “trivial” closures—excluding only some spectators, or all for a short time, or what have you. I think it’s a nice bright-line to apply it in all cases, especially since closures will often survive passing through its not-terribly-hot crucible. In any event, closure of the entire testimony of a witness seems like it should trigger any standard for whether a closure has occurred.

Finally, I should note that while Pennsylvania is a linguistic or formal rogue here, the sort of analysis your excerpt engages in is very similar in kind to that mandated by Waller. It looks at the strength of the interest (religious reservations), it looks at how broad the closure has to be (duration of one witness’s testimony), it considers alternatives (remove veil or not, with populated courtroom or not), and it seems to make specific findings. But if words matter, reviewing this for abuse of discretion rather than satisfying strict scrutiny should have some effect on result—one should be more forgiving than the other.

In terms of these facts and comparisons to other cases, the classic “overriding interest” is witness intimidation. You can exclude someone from the courtroom (“close it” to them) if he is looking at a witness and running his finger across his throat. But it’s not that limited. Someone’s personal discomfort *may* be sufficient, but the discomfort cases have been pretty extreme—closing courtrooms for child victims testifying in sexual abuse cases. The question is how solicitous a court should be of discomfort arising from religious compunctions.

And here’s the reaction of Prof. Jocelyn Simonson (Brooklyn):

[T]he court has an ongoing obligation to ensure open courtrooms, to consider alternatives to closure, and to make findings on the record before closing the courtroom. It’s hard to tell from this case whether that happened …. If there were no findings and no explicit consideration of alternatives, then this should not fly (and the attorney should have asked asked for them). If there were, though, then perhaps the court acted within constitutional boundaries.

As for alternatives, why not have the witness face the jury with her back to the audience (and move the defendant’s chair for confrontation purposes)? Of course it all depends on specific courtrooms, but full closure is a last resort.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.

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Mainstream Media Is Hyping Up The Mueller Report Release As Some Sort Of Key Historical Event

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Are you ready for the biggest non-event in recent American political history?  The mainstream media is treating Thursday’s release of the Mueller report as an event of critical historical importance, but it isn’t.  Unless Attorney General William Barr was lying to us in his summary of the report, there aren’t going to be any major bombshells.  Of course anti-Trump forces will be sifting through the report for any nuggets that they can possibly use, but in the end it will be a fruitless exercise.  Trump never colluded with the Russians, and Mueller didn’t find enough to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.  So please feel free to skip reading the full 400 page report, because you can undoubtedly put that time to much better use in some other way.

This whole sordid ordeal once again has shown us that Democrats are a bunch of morons.  Once the Stormy Daniels scandal broke wide open, Democrats were given a bright, shiny gift on a silver platter, but they largely ignored it and kept hammering the Russian collusion angle because they are a bunch of idiots.

And of course most of our politicians don’t really want to talk about Stormy Daniels, payoffs and adultery anyway because they have been doing similar things behind the scenes themselves.

Somehow the idea that “Trump colluded with the Russians” became gospel for Democrats, and almost everyone on the left followed the herd because they are a bunch of sheeple.  There were a few dissenting voices on the left, but they were drowned out by the hordes of zombies that let CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times do their thinking for them.

The truth is that it has always been obvious that Trump never colluded with the Russians, and that is what the Mueller Report will show when it is released tomorrow morning

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will hold news conference Thursday just before Congress receives a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016.

The news conference will be at 9:30 a.m. EDT, said Kerri Kupec. The report is expected to go to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon EDT and likely will be released to the public around the same time.

But the mainstream media is trying to squeeze every ounce of false hype out of this story that they possibly can, and their endless coverage has helped push copies of the Mueller report to number one on Amazon in several categories.

And we aren’t going to get to see the entire report anyway.  As USA Today has noted, the report is being heavily redacted for a variety of legal reasons…

Barr has said Justice officials, including members of Mueller’s team, have been working to remove secret grand-jury evidence, classified information, material related to ongoing investigations spun off from the special counsel’s probe and personal information about individuals who were not charged as part of the inquiry.

In a curious move, in recent days officials from the Justice Department have been discussing the conclusions of the report with White House lawyers, and this is something that has infuriated Democrats because they believe that this is unfair.

The following comes from the New York Times

Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.

But even after being briefed, the White House seems quite unconcerned about what the report will show.

In fact, one White House spokesperson just told the press that “the outcome is still the same”

Meanwhile, ahead of the report, the White House insisted that it would exonerate Trump.

“Regardless of how Democrats and the media try to twist the report, the outcome is still the same: No collusion, no obstruction – complete and total exoneration,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

Ultimately, the big mainstream news networks will spend dozens of hours talking about the release of the Mueller report, but it will be a giant waste of time.

Yes, there might be some semi-interesting nuggets in the report, but it is highly unlikely that we are going to learn anything extremely important that we don’t know already.

As I have said from the very beginning, the Mueller investigation was a giant witch hunt, and it should have been shut down long ago.

But in America today, it has become fair game to try to personally destroy your political opponents.  And from now on, presidents and other high profile political figures are likely to be subjected to an endless barrage of investigations no matter which political party is in power.  This is going to make our country increasingly ungovernable, and it will lead us down a path from which we may never be able to return.

For Trump, this is definitely not the end of his legal troubles, because many other investigations are still ongoing

Prosecutors in a half-dozen federal, state and city jurisdictions are pursuing overlapping inquiries focused on how Trump operated his namesake business empire, how a porn star was paid off in the final weeks of his campaign and how his inaugural committee raised money. New York state alone has three agencies conducting investigations.

At least six congressional committees are studying Trump’s personal finances, his inauguration committee, his business practices before he took office and his conduct since assuming the presidency, seeking evidence of what senior Democrats have called corruption or abuse of his office.

Even if Trump wins in 2020, he will still be dealing with ongoing investigations, and when all of them eventually run their course I am sure that the Democrats will just start some new ones.

Our political system is literally in the process of self-destructing, and it is a horrifying thing to watch.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2VTCC9g Tyler Durden

I Gave My Dog CBD Oil To Calm Him Down and Help His Separation Anxiety

The first time I heard about cannabis products for dogs was when a video of Permit Patty, the CEO of a pet cannabusiness, went viral after she called the cops on a young girl selling water. Since then, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of pets using drugs. So I decided to volunteer my own dog for a Weed Week assignment: I was going to see how he responded to cannabidiol (CBD). 

I adopted Bishop from Davidson County Animal Control last August when he was about a year old. Someone found him running around the Nashville streets and sent him off to the shelter. No one claimed him for a month, so I decided to make him a Davis after falling in love with his face online. Shortly after the adoption, I signed him up for basic training. We had some rough patches along the way, but he’s been a different dog since his graduation and I worry a lot less when we leave the apartment together.


Bishop Davis after graduating the first level of behavior school.

It’s when I leave him in the apartment that the problems begin.

Bishop is crate-trained, so I put him in his nook with some toys, treats, and calming music if I have to leave the apartment for a short period. If I anticipate a longer time away from home, I let him roam the apartment with toys, treats, and calming music. (I’ve read that crating a dog for too long can have detrimental effects on its mental state.) But each time I leave Bishop to roam free, I almost always hear clawing at the door and crying moments after I shut it.

When I come back, it always looks as though a tornado flew around the room. Bishop knocks down furniture and tears through books and papers. One time I returned to find that Bishop had managed to unlock the front door. While some of this could be chalked up to him being a puppy in need of some more training, I wondered if CBD could help him. CBD has only been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a therapy for two types of treatment-resistant epilepsy in children, but a growing body of research suggests it can treat anxiety as well. 

Perhaps it could even treat anxiety in a dog.

The prep: I reached out to Bishop’s trainer and to Jason Amatucci of VA Hemp for some thoughts on my assignment.

“We have found that many pet owners that use CBD for their cats and dogs really love it and say it works for tackling problem behavior or just giving their pet a better sense of overall calm,” Amatucci told me. This is comparable, he explained, to the way CBD can reduce anxiety in humans.

Amatucci noted that unlike CBD, THC is actually quite bad for pets. Should a pet mistakenly consume a product with THC in it, a vet can administer activated charcoal to the animal. He added that while CBD products have a trace of THC, it’s “not at a level which would cause toxicity.”

I also asked Bishop’s trainer about using CBD products for pet anxiety since he knows my dog’s temperament the best. Essentially, he told me that he’s heard of other pet owners using it with success. And since he didn’t say anything bad about using it, I decided to continue with the project.

I looked up local CBD shops in Nashville and found no shortage of retailers that carried pet-specific products. I decided to use an oil since it had more potency and could be delivered on a treat, and chose a formulation that apparently tastes like bacon.


Mmmm, bacon.

Day 1: I decided to take Bishop to the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival. I woke up early to go to Mass and came back just in time for Bishop’s morning feeding. We had a few hours until we had to meet some friends at the festival.

I grabbed a hard treat and poured a dropper-full of CBD oil on top (the recommended dose was one dropper-full twice a day). I put the treat up to his nose. He sniffed it and turned away.


Lacing his treats.

Oh fudge, I thought.

Bishop will eat anything and everything, except medicine. Bishop is so anti-medicine that his vet once wished me luck when I said I didn’t have anyone to help me pour his eye drops. This was after it took three of us to hold him down in her office so she could administer the first dose.

I mentally kicked myself for not considering this possibility and wondered what to do. Then it hit me that I still hadn’t fed Bishop.

I had him sit and wait while I poured his food in a bowl. Then I placed the laced treat in the middle, hoping he would accidentally eat it.

The sucker ate it.

Later, I filled a backpack with water, a collapsible water bowl, and some training treats, and we made our way downtown to the festival.

On the drive, I wondered what I could expect for the day. Bishop doesn’t bark often, but he can get pretty rowdy if the wrong type of dog passes by. Would the CBD reduce his tendency to lose his mind?

As I wondered this, Bishop was running across the backseat of the car to hang his head out of both windows. Apparently, the oil hadn’t kicked in.

And honestly, it never really seemed like it did.

Bishop did well with the training treats, socialized with the other humans, and didn’t make any attempts to eat food that didn’t belong to him. He even let some of the bigger dogs (his favorite kind) sniff his butt.


The butt-sniffing was about to commence.

But none of this stopped him from freaking out when the wrong sort of dog passed by. He was so crazy that he started to jump on the girls we were hanging out with at the festival. I had to apologize several times and use some basic training tricks to get him to calm down.

The other girls eventually wanted to go up to the observation deck, so I said Bishop and I would take the stairs and meet him there. Halfway up, Bishop’s back legs began to shake.

Oh no, I thought. I’ve poisoned him.

I didn’t actually think that he was having a reaction to the CBD oil, but I always briefly entertain the craziest possibilities when it comes to animals (or babies) doing things that I don’t understand. Following a water break and a quick trip to the bathroom, Bishop felt better. Then we tried to rejoin the girls, and Bishop’s legs started to shake again.

And that’s how I learned that despite our hikes at Percy Warner Park, one of the highest points in Nashville, my dog is actually quite terrified of heights.

After Bishop and I got home, I made some dinner, fed him once again, and crocheted while we watched some movies. I chose not to give Bishop the second dose since he was pretty calm for the rest of the evening.

Day 2: Remembering what happened yesterday, I poured Bishop’s food and placed another laced treat in the very middle. He ate it, but not before taking it out of the bowl to inspect it first. Then my own anxiety began to build up.


Just eat it already.

Today was Sunday Mass, which runs a whole heck of a lot longer than daily Mass. It was time to let Bishop roam the apartment alone with my poor, vulnerable books and furniture.

I got dressed for Mass and positioned the gates of his playpen in such a way that he’d have to grow human legs in order to reach the front door handle. I left some treats around the apartment, put on some calming nature sounds, and sweated bullets while I begged St. Francis and St. Roch to intercede on my behalf while I was gone.

Then I left. I didn’t hear any scratching at the door or crying.

The Palm Sunday Mass was longer than usual. There was the distribution of the palm fronds, a long procession into the church, and the interactive Gospel reading was several pages long instead of several paragraphs. The homily also lasted a bit longer. While everything was beautiful and I left feeling assured about my spiritual life, it didn’t stop me from worrying about my apartment as I drove home.

Once inside, I was thoroughly surprised that other than the barrier having been moved, the floor was clear of paper bits. I mentally prepared myself for the worst of it as I walked towards the main part of my apartment.

Where, it turns out, Bishop was relaxing in his crate.

He raised his head and his ears fell while he looked at me. He only does that when he knows he did something wrong.

I checked the rest of the living room, the dining area, the kitchen, my bedroom, and even the bathroom. I couldn’t believe that everything was untouched. I secretly thanked the oil and the saints while continuing to look for whatever made Bishop’s ears go droopy.

Then I noticed that the blanket I put over my Lovesac was knocked to the floor and there were remnants from Bishop’s toy on top. Considering he is well aware that he’s not supposed to be on there, I concluded that this was the worst of the offenses.

We spent the rest of the day doing some work and getting prepared for the Game of Thrones premiere. I opted against the second dose again because Bishop was otherwise calm.

What did I learn? At the end of the day, I don’t know that the oil had much of an effect on Bishop.

He clearly suffers from some separation anxiety, and he can be aggressive with other dogs. As with humans, drugs can only fix so much of an animal’s psychology. I’m also not sure what I can tell from just a couple of doses. I will admit to hoping that the CBD drops would essentially be a miracle cure. That, after just a dose or two, he wouldn’t be a bad dog ever.

Clearly, CBD is not a miracle cure for rowdy boys.

Still, I’m open to using it again the next time I leave him home alone. After all, with the exception of the playpen and the beanbag, this was the first time Bishop didn’t completely destroy the apartment.

So Bishop can go ahead and enjoy his CBD treats for several Sunday masses to come. As for his behavior when we go out, it looks like I’ll be calling his trainer soon.

from Latest – Reason.com http://bit.ly/2Gjqdoj
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Here We Go Again: Pinterest, Zoom Price Above Range In Latest Batch Of ‘Unicorn’ IPOs

With short interest now at 60+% of its float, Lyft has swiftly become a byword for disastrous post-IPO performance by overvalued tech ‘unicorns’. But the ride-sharing app’s steep drop from the highs reached on the day of its debut hasn’t stunted the market’s insatiable appetite for the next big lossmaker.

Pinterest has priced more than $2 above the high end of its range ahead of its market debut on Thursday, even as it is forced to share the spotlight with Zoom Video Communications, a company that provides remote conferencing services that has also bears the distinction of being a profitable business.

Pinterest

Zoom, whose shares priced at $36 apiece, also generated robust demand. Its bankers raised the expected price range on Tuesday, then its shares priced $1 above that range on Wednesday, valuing Zoom at $10 billion, which, amusingly, is well below Pinterest’s $12.6 billion. Both on a fully diluted basis. Moreover, Pinterest reportedly took a ‘conservative’ tack on its pre-IPO valuation, according to WSJ, even as Pinterest executives sped up the timetable for the IPO to take advantage of a ‘hot’ market.

Lyft shares have been slaughtered – they’re trading 17% below the IPO price – as analysts published a series of downbeat reports (which only confirmed what the market was already telling us).

IPO

However, Pinterest boosts one material advantage over Lyft on the basis of fundamentals (so far as those still matter, anyway). While it’s still making losses, those losses are at least narrowing. Though its advertising dependent model still risks comparisons to floundering Snapchat. Meanwhile, Zoom recently became profitable, and its revenues are rapidly growing.

For its fiscal year ending in January 2017, Zoom reported revenue of roughly $61 million. A year later, that more than doubled to over $150 million, then more than doubled again in the year ending January 2019. Its profitability is rare among the recent slew of technology companies coming to the public markets with steep losses.

Pinterest is also growing at a fast clip. And while it isn’t yet profitable, its annual losses are narrowing. Revenue in 2018 totaled $756 million, up from $473 million a year earlier. The company’s net loss narrowed to $63 million in 2018 from $130 million in 2017. Some bank analysts have estimated revenues will grow 30% to 35% in 2019, one person familiar with the matter said.

But as Pinterest struggles to boost its share of the global advertising pie, the comparisons to Snap appear inevitable. The company’s only hope to avoid a similarly disastrous post-IPO streak appears to be keeping its valuation ‘restrained’ – even as some argue that Pinterest might be positioned to better monetize its advertising business.

Despite Pinterest’s efforts to distance itself from the label of a “social media company”, analysts say it can be a useful benchmark for valuation. According to James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities, Pinterest is worth as much as Snap, about $16 billion, and could be much more.

“The ability to monetize that audience is much higher,” Cordwell said of Pinterest before the pricing. “When you’re at Snap you’re in the business of communicating with friends or wasting time; when you’re going to Pinterest there’s high purchasing intent: you’re planning something, looking for a product. That’s exactly what advertisers are looking for.”

But as investors prepare for Pinterest’s market debut, they’ll be trying to parse what Pinterest’s performance might mean for the next round of unicorns, including Palantir, Slack and the long-awaited debut of uber-lossmaker Uber, particularly as the share of loss-maker debuts has risen to its highest level since the tech crash.

Stock

But if the Pinterest offering does go sideways, buyers can always blame the investment banks selling the stock for any “mistakes made”, and seek recourse for their losses in the courts.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2UG0pgl Tyler Durden

N.Korea’s Kim Wants Pompeo Replaced As Chief US Negotiator, Will Meet With Putin

So much for those photos of Kim and Pompeo standing cheerfully side by side.

One day after North Korea’s Leader Kim reportedly oversaw the test of a “new tactical guided weapon”, North Korea on Thursday demanded that Secretary of State and former CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, should be replaced for any future negotiations with the U.S., the country’s media reported.

“Whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, talks between the two countries go wrong without any results even from the point close to success,” Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kwon Jong-gun as saying. Kwon is director general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department for American affairs. He was addressing the first session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly of the country.

Two summits between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un since June 2018 have failed to reach an agreement over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In response, Kwon suggested a “more careful and mature” negotiator to take Pompeo’s place.

“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” he said.

“Therefore, even in the case of a possible resumption of the dialogue with the U.S., I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but [anyone] who is more careful and mature in communicating with us,” he said.

Kwon said the North Korean leader and the U.S. president had good personal relations.

“It is fortunate that the personal relationship between our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission and President Trump is on good terms as usual and our Chairman is pleased to get on well with President Trump,” he noted.

“U.S. Secretary of the State is letting loose reckless remarks and sophism of all kinds against us every day,” he added.

And just to confirm to the US that North Korea has “leverage”, earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin confirmed last week’s rumor that Kim will visit Russia this month for talks with Putin, as Kim is eager to make it clear that if the US refuses to ease relations then North Korea will promptly slide right into the rapidly growing China-Russia axis.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2Iqmed9 Tyler Durden