AOC Claim That Millennials “Most Informed, Historically-Literate” Annihilated In Scathing Op-Ed

AOC has done it again! 

The freshman lawmaker – who recently said the Electoral college was a ‘racist scam‘ – declared on Instagram this week that “young people are more informed and dynamic than their predecessors.

(and every one of them has a participation award to prove it!)

The bartendress-turned-lawmaker then added “this new generation is very profound … They actually take time to read and understand our history.”

Annihilating Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s latest expert-opinion is the Washington Examiner‘s Brad Polumbo, who writes in a Friday Op-Ed her claim is “absurd to the point of hilarity,” and that “Nothing could be further from the truth.” 

***

Via the Washington Examiner

The millennial generation and Generation Z behind them, of which I am part, is uniquely disengaged from history and woefully uninformed. Which she went on to prove, naturally. In praising the new generation as the first “wiling to go to the streets” and protest, she appears to have forgotten about the 1960s. Oops!

But she disproves her own point in more ways than one. Young people increasingly identify as socialist, which on its own shows that they are woefully ignorant of history. That ideology of failure and oppression has a very dark past of which few are aware. And only 16% of millennials are even able to define socialism in the first place.

As far as broader historical literacy goes, two of three millennials, the same generation that Ocasio-Cortez deems “informed and dynamic,” do not even know what Auschwitz is. Ignorance of the Nazi death camp is bad enough, but 1 in 5 millennials aren’t even aware of the Holocaust at all.

This isn’t exactly a surprise, when you look at young peoples’ habits. According to Business Insider, “Millennials spend far less time consuming news overall than older adults, and the time they do spend is concentrated on digital consumption. Millennials ages 21-37 consume only about 30% of the amount of news as adults age 38 and older.”

Plus, many young people don’t read books. At all.

Per Forbes, “38% of students at public and private four-year colleges reported that ‘Books have never gotten me very excited.’ And 45% said ‘I don’t enjoy reading serious books and articles, and I only do it when I have to.’”

These statistics come as little surprise. Take it from someone on the border of both Generation Z and the millennial generation: Today’s young people are not the “most-informed” generation, or anywhere close. If they were, Ocasio-Cortez wouldn’t have a mass social media following in the first place.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2NHP4HP Tyler Durden

“Harm to Reputation Is Insufficient to Overcome the Strong Presumption in Favor of Public Access …”

From Kiwewa v. Postmaster General, 2019 WL 4122013 (6th Cir. Mar. 26, 2019) (nonprecedential) (just recently made available on Westlaw):

In 2013, the United States Postal Service terminated [Willy] Kiwewa due to alleged performance issues and failure to follow rules and regulations. Kiwewa thereafter filed an employment-discrimination suit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The parties consented to final disposition of the proceedings by a magistrate judge, who granted summary judgment in favor of the Postmaster General. We affirmed the district court’s judgment.

While his appeal was pending in this court, Kiwewa filed a motion to seal the district-court record. He argued that online access to the summary-judgment order was preventing him from being hired, that his minor children could be identified through their shared last name, and that the record contained his date of birth and other sensitive information….

The public has a “presumptive right … to inspect and copy judicial documents and files[,]” and “[o]nly the most compelling reasons can justify non-disclosure of judicial records.” In balancing these factors, a court may “consider, among other things, the competing interests of the defendant’s right to a fair trial, the privacy rights of participants or third parties, trade secrets, and national security.” Where a court concludes that a compelling reason exists to seal records, “‘the seal itself must be narrowly tailored to serve that reason,’ and should ‘analyze in detail, document by document, the propriety of secrecy, providing reasons and legal citations.'”

The district court did not abuse its discretion. First, Kiwewa merely alleged harm to his reputation by asserting that online access to the summary-judgment order was preventing him from being hired. Harm to reputation is insufficient to overcome the strong presumption in favor of public access, especially where, as here, the party who filed the suit alleges harm from the public availability of the record.

Second, Kiwewa’s assertion that his minor children could be identified through their shared last name and would suffer harm is too attenuated to constitute a compelling reason to seal the record. His children were not named or otherwise mentioned in the record.

Third, Kiwewa failed to identify accurately below any place in the record that contained his date of birth or other sensitive information. His sole reference to a page in the record that purportedly contained his date of birth was incorrect. The three citations identified for the first time in his appellate brief are not properly before the court. In any event, Kiwewa’s social security number was properly redacted in the only cited document filed by the defendant. And Kiwewa waived his right to privacy protection under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 5.2(a) by filing the other two documents without redaction and without moving to file them under seal. Thus, Kiwewa did not meet his burden of overcoming the presumption of openness.

Magistrate Judge Karen L. Litkovitz’s opinion below discusses this in greater detail.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/30MWtcJ
via IFTTT

Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest

Located near Raton, New Mexico, the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest is a small and excellent firearms museum. The museum also has a library of great utility to anyone researching firearms.

The museum and library are part of the Visitor Center at the NRA Whittington Center, a 52-square-mile target shooting and hunting complex open to the general public. While admission to the Whittington shooting facilities requires a $20 daily fee, the museum and the library are free of charge.

The Museum’s collection is contained in a single room, about 35 x 35 feet. (Plus some additional items in the Visitor Center lobby). This is much smaller than the NRA’s other two museums: the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia, and the National Sporting Arms Museum, in Springfield, Missouri. Within the size constraints, the Museum of the Southwest is a fine introduction to its subject. An enagaged visitor could study the museum’s contents in about an hour.

Most of the firearms are contained in 22 standing cases in the interior of the room. These are supplemented by several vertical displays along the walls depicting U.S. and New Mexico history. The upper walls of the room are ringed by American service rifles, starting with the Brown Bess from colonial days, up to the modern M-16.

The display cases also include numerous non-firearms artifacts, such as tomahawks, knives, powder horns, and other tools used by Indians, mountain men, or soldiers. All the displays are beautifully arranged, with good descriptions of every item.

As the Museum’s name indicates, the focus is on the Southwest, especially New Mexico, starting with Spanish colonial days and covering the mountain men, the Civil War, Indian wars, and the Wild West. The other half of the displays cover a wide range of American history, with particular attention to the history of competitive shooting, and iconic firearms from Winchester and Colt.

The collection is primarily American firearms, except for some guns related to the colonial period, plus a few other interesting non-American guns. Rifles and handgun predominate, with only a few shotguns. (And of course some early smoothbore muskets and the like.)

The Museum strikes an excellent balance for all sorts of visitors. For persons who have never been to a firearms museum, it is an outstanding introduction to the history of firearms in America. At the same time, sophisticated collectors and historians will find many interesting items.

Once you’re done with the Museum, the Bud & Wilma Eyman Research Library contains its own mini-museum: the Robert G. Rowe and Alexander Black ammuntion collection. It consists of about a hundred drawers of rifle and handgun ammunition, plus nearly another hundred more drawers of shotgun ammunition. The rifle and handgun drawers are more user-friendly, since every cartridge is separately labeled. You’ll find the tiny 2mm cartridge, old-fashioned pinfire cartridges from the mid-nineteenth century, up to cartridges for anti-tank weapons of the twentieth century. Plus everything in-between.

Shotgun shells are much larger than rifle and handgun cartridges, and so, unfortunately, the shotgun ammunition is not individually labeled. Rather, the shells are categorized by country of origin, and then jammed side-by-side into rows within the cases. This makes for a colorful display of, for example, shotgun shells from Mexico, but there’s no information about any particular shell. Such labeling would require vastly more drawer space than the library presently contains.

As for the library books, part of the collection is general military history (e.g., Civil War, Vietnam). This is fine as far as it goes, but the collection is no deeper than can be found at the main public library in a major city. Where the library shines is its collection of firearms-specific books. It is especially strong on gunsmithing and reloading (home manufacture of ammunition from used shells or cases), past and present.

Since the Internet has created a national market of used books, I wouldn’t say that it’s impossible for a researcher on a given firearms topic to buy almost all of what can be found in the library’s collection. But any researcher who can make the trip to Whittington will get a big head start.

The museum and library are each in rooms next to the Visitor Center’s Pro Shop/Gift Store. Since Whittington is a very large recreational shooting facility, the Pro Shop stocks ammunition, firearms, and lots of accessories. The size and inventory might match what you could find at a small, high-quality gun store; of course that’s much less than what’s available at megastores such as Sportsmen’s Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, or Cabelas. The gift store includes clothing, souvenirs, knives, jewelry (lots of turquoise), and other items. As one might expect, the Visitor Center has plenty of taxidermy.

The main limitation of the Visitor Center, and of Whittington itself, is the lack of food. The only beverages for sale are from a vending machine, and there’s no food, other than a few souvenir items in the gift shop. The shotgun area has a cafeteria that is open only for special events, such as the many national competitions held at Whittington.

As for shooting at the Whittington Center, the numerous shooting ranges are in a flat area that comprises about 10 percent of the land. The rest of the 52 square miles are for guided hunting in mountain canyons. The Center has extensive overnight accommodations, at various price points. Far from city lights, and at an elevation of 7,000 feet, the nighttime stargazing and views of the Milky Way are spectacular.

For shotgun shooters, there are many ranges for skeet, trap, and sporting clays. Rifle and handgun shooters also have numerous options. For beginners, short-range metallic silhouette shooting is especially fun. The long-distance and ultra-long distance rifle ranges offer opportunities difficult to find at most ranges near urban areas.

Many visitors enjoy trying to hit the White Buffalo, a 6 x 10 foot steel target located at 1,123 yards on the long-distance rifle range. On my last visit, I hit it with a friend’s bolt-action Ruger Precision Rifle, a Lucid scope, and some guidance from an experienced rifleman.

Of course most people come to the Whittington Center for the shooting; the museum and library are underpublicized. Whether or not you want to go shooting, if you’re ever on the beautiful highway between Taos and Raton, New Mexico, the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest is well worth a visit.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2UhPbLA
via IFTTT

Gold: Big Difference Which Kind Of Hedge It Truly Is

Authored by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,

It isn’t inflation which is driving gold higher, at least not the current levels of inflation. According to the latest update from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation calculation, the PCE Deflator, continues to significantly undershoot. Monetary policy explicitly calls for that rate to be consistent around 2%, an outcome policymakers keep saying they expect but one that never happens.

For the month of July 2019, the index increased 1.38% year-over-year. That’s only slightly above June’s 1.33% advance. After having achieved the inflation target for all of eight months in 2018, despite an unemployment rate at a half-century low they’ve missed the mark now in each of the nine months following.

The so-called core inflation rate, the deflator stripped of energy and food prices, increased just 1.58% in July. The rate is basically unchanged since January even though it was during this time when the labor market (allegedly) reached its epic level of tightness.

No matter how much Fed officials keep insisting that inflation will (someday) rise toward 2% and stay there, the evidence right now gives them plenty of justification should they wish to change tune. Currently, Jay Powell’s FOMC is sticking with a one-and-done rate cut plan in part to stay consistent with their overarching message of an otherwise strong economy which is experiencing nothing more than transitory cross currents.

Should the economy worsen, as most forward-looking indications suggest, there isn’t any wall of consumer prices to hold officials back from responding – even “forcefully” responding.

This is the new defense line for the bond/dollar bears. Maybe the BOND ROUT!!! is dead in the one sense, though perhaps able to be resurrected by something else. Interest rates in particular will still explode higher, they claim, only this time it won’t be a growth acceleration as they had been saying throughout last year. With growth at least on pause, the only available option left to them is central banks who will have to get creative maybe even crazy.

Having shorted bonds (so much negative duration among the “bond kings”), they desperately need the inflation for their positions to payoff. If the economy and the unemployment rate refuse to provide them with it, then why not an overzealous Fed?

And that might appear to be consistent with the noise coming from the gold pits of Chicago and London. Gold is up sharply in 2019 and everyone knows it is an inflation hedge. Thus, since it can’t be current levels of inflation then gold must be anticipating a pickup on the other side of the horizon.

Like most of these theories, it sounds plausible. But is gold really an inflation hedge?

It’s a question that central bankers and mainstream Economists love to ponder. For one reason, they are outright hostile to gold (as bonds). They really dislike markets which have the potential to tell the world how much they’ve screwed up.

In December 2009, because it was a very relevant topic the late Marty Feldstein of the NBER talked about gold and its presumed worth against inflation. Many early critics of QE, those who were sadly taken seriously, were against it because it was Weimar Germany. Damned money printing, a charge supposedly confirmed by the rising gold price.

Traveling through Dubai, of all places, Dr. Feldstein marveled at the flourishing trade in gold coins taking place right at the airport. How stupid, he thought (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

Consider first the potential of gold as an inflation hedge. The price of an ounce of gold in 1980 was $400. Ten years later, the US consumer price index (CPI) was up more than 60%, but the price of gold was still $400, having risen to $700 and then fallen back during the intervening years. And by the year 2000, when the US consumer price index was more than twice its level in 1980, the price of gold had fallen to about $300 an ounce. Even when gold jumped to $800 an ounce in 2008, it had failed to keep up with the rise in consumer prices since 1980.

When you go back and review them, his rough numbers all check out. I started in November 1979 (below) because that was the last month when gold was close to $400 as in Feldstein’s example, but otherwise it turned out just as he described. NOTE: to stay consistent, I’m using the CPI in the following examples rather than the PCE Deflator.

It’s pretty obvious that gold didn’t hedge against more mundane (compared to what had just happened up to 1980) inflation increases. Bullion isn’t very likely to help you much when the world thinks everything is basically fine. The relatively tame consumer prices of the Great “Moderation” fit with the conventional impressions of the time.

Central bankers had everything under control, or so it was widely believed.

Gold sure had been a godsend the decade before, though; at least for anyone who did get their hands on some. It wasn’t by accident that Feldstein started the clock in 1980. The Great Inflation, as opposed to the mainstream perception of the Great “Moderation”, very, very different story.

Even though consumer prices more than doubled, closer to tripled, between 1968 and 1980, gold beat them by a country mile. It had provided a lot more than just useful protection against a monetary system run amok, the same system we were told was being looked after by our best and brightest minds.

In other words, even on the inflation side we have to qualify gold’s value as a hedge. It doesn’t protect against inflation shifting from one moderate level to another; say, from around 1% to 2%. Or even 3% and 4%. As is clear on the chart above, gold skyrocketed when inflation was pitching double digits – meaning an economic situation that had gotten way out of hand despite the “best” efforts of officials.

It wasn’t protection against the accumulation of small errors, it was in demand for the probability of the big one. And in the late seventies, even Congress had figured out that central bankers and Economists had no idea what they were doing. That’s when gold soared; when it was obvious to everyone but central bankers that central banks were failing.

This holds true even in the first decade of the 21st century; the last some Economists still associate with the Great “Moderation.” To most people, there was nothing moderate at all about the middle oughts, in particular. And that’s just when gold popped.

Not only did the metal’s price far outpace consumer price increases (keeping in mind that Feldstein was right when he said gold going back to 1980 had underperformed even as far forward to 2009 when he was speaking) during the decade, more importantly when that really kicked in.

Coming out of the dot-com recession, consumer prices did accelerate (eurodollar expansion). By 2005, the CPI had moved above 3% on its way to 4%. However, in the late eighties the CPI had likewise sped up, from about 1% during the near recession of 1986 to more than 4% by 1987 and above 5% by 1989.

It was much the same as the middle 2000’s – but as Feldstein had pointed out gold barely moved throughout the eighties. Again, gold doesn’t seem to be excited by a relatively minor change in inflation for which both time periods qualify. There must have been some other substantive difference which found its way into the gold price after the middle of 2005.

There are always other factors to consider, of course, but from 2005 onward the world could only be characterized as increasingly dangerous. Alan Greenspan had his bond market “conundrum” and in that same year Ben Bernanke had said there was nothing to worry about in housing. The rest of the world wasn’t nearly so (stupidly) sanguine. There were dangers everywhere you looked.

The risks of a big error had been rising along with the CPI. It was the former which grabbed the gold market, not the latter. This sort of fear would be amplified after August 17, 2007, turbocharging gold, when the Fed made its first crisis move (the FOMC reduced the rate on Primary Credit while begging several big banks to make a public show of borrowing at what used to be called the Discount Window).

By doing something, anything, the gold market saw the Fed confirming everyone’s worst fears. Whereas between 2005 and the summer of 2007, the potential for instability had grown, after August 2007 there really wasn’t much doubt left. The more the Fed was forced into action with new programs the bigger the problem must have been.

Again, the chances for a big error is what gets gold going. The bond/dollar bears would have to be saying that an inevitable super-QE is going to unleash the next Great Inflation.

It isn’t Fed action which is moving the gold price, though. It is the lack of effect in all central bank actions which is bothering more than just gold hedgers.

Just as in the bond market, the gold market knows central banks are, outside of sentiment, powerless (moneyless monetary policy). That’s why as gold moves higher inflation expectations – especially longer run expectations – have cratered.

Bonds as gold know what’s coming from officials, and yet both are discounting monetary policies because all the evidence says that no matter how big the talk monetary policies are only that.

Like 2008, the big error isn’t the Fed going way too far with stimulus, the big error is in thinking anything the Fed does is stimulus. And that’s precisely the backdrop and predicate condition for serious instability. We know what happens when liquidity turns sour without any effective backstop at all because unlike the mainstream media these markets haven’t the luxury of looking the other way and taking the word of Fed Chairs at face value.

Martin Feldstein was right about the one thing. Gold isn’t an inflation hedge. It is both a signal of, as well as protection against, Economists/central bankers who are particularly prone to making huge errors and the great costs associated with the instability that always comes with them.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2NJI3q6 Tyler Durden

Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest

Located near Raton, New Mexico, the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest is a small and excellent firearms museum. The museum also has a library of great utility to anyone researching firearms.

The museum and library are part of the Visitor Center at the NRA Whittington Center, a 52-square-mile target shooting and hunting complex open to the general public. While admission to the Whittington shooting facilities requires a $20 daily fee, the museum and the library are free of charge.

The Museum’s collection is contained in a single room, about 35 x 35 feet. (Plus some additional items in the Visitor Center lobby). This is much smaller than the NRA’s other two museums: the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia, and the National Sporting Arms Museum, in Springfield, Missouri. Within the size constraints, the Museum of the Southwest is a fine introduction to its subject. An enagaged visitor could study the museum’s contents in about an hour.

Most of the firearms are contained in 22 standing cases in the interior of the room. These are supplemented by several vertical displays along the walls depicting U.S. and New Mexico history. The upper walls of the room are ringed by American service rifles, starting with the Brown Bess from colonial days, up to the modern M-16.

The display cases also include numerous non-firearms artifacts, such as tomahawks, knives, powder horns, and other tools used by Indians, mountain men, or soldiers. All the displays are beautifully arranged, with good descriptions of every item.

As the Museum’s name indicates, the focus is on the Southwest, especially New Mexico, starting with Spanish colonial days and covering the mountain men, the Civil War, Indian wars, and the Wild West. The other half of the displays cover a wide range of American history, with particular attention to the history of competitive shooting, and iconic firearms from Winchester and Colt.

The collection is primarily American firearms, except for some guns related to the colonial period, plus a few other interesting non-American guns. Rifles and handgun predominate, with only a few shotguns. (And of course some early smoothbore muskets and the like.)

The Museum strikes an excellent balance for all sorts of visitors. For persons who have never been to a firearms museum, it is an outstanding introduction to the history of firearms in America. At the same time, sophisticated collectors and historians will find many interesting items.

Once you’re done with the Museum, the Bud & Wilma Eyman Research Library contains its own mini-museum: the Robert G. Rowe and Alexander Black ammuntion collection. It consists of about a hundred drawers of rifle and handgun ammunition, plus nearly another hundred more drawers of shotgun ammunition. The rifle and handgun drawers are more user-friendly, since every cartridge is separately labeled. You’ll find the tiny 2mm cartridge, old-fashioned pinfire cartridges from the mid-nineteenth century, up to cartridges for anti-tank weapons of the twentieth century. Plus everything in-between.

Shotgun shells are much larger than rifle and handgun cartridges, and so, unfortunately, the shotgun ammunition is not individually labeled. Rather, the shells are categorized by country of origin, and then jammed side-by-side into rows within the cases. This makes for a colorful display of, for example, shotgun shells from Mexico, but there’s no information about any particular shell. Such labeling would require vastly more drawer space than the library presently contains.

As for the library books, part of the collection is general military history (e.g., Civil War, Vietnam). This is fine as far as it goes, but the collection is no deeper than can be found at the main public library in a major city. Where the library shines is its collection of firearms-specific books. It is especially strong on gunsmithing and reloading (home manufacture of ammunition from used shells or cases), past and present.

Since the Internet has created a national market of used books, I wouldn’t say that it’s impossible for a researcher on a given firearms topic to buy almost all of what can be found in the library’s collection. But any researcher who can make the trip to Whittington will get a big head start.

The museum and library are each in rooms next to the Visitor Center’s Pro Shop/Gift Store. Since Whittington is a very large recreational shooting facility, the Pro Shop stocks ammunition, firearms, and lots of accessories. The size and inventory might match what you could find at a small, high-quality gun store; of course that’s much less than what’s available at megastores such as Sportsmen’s Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, or Cabelas. The gift store includes clothing, souvenirs, knives, jewelry (lots of turquoise), and other items. As one might expect, the Visitor Center has plenty of taxidermy.

The main limitation of the Visitor Center, and of Whittington itself, is the lack of food. The only beverages for sale are from a vending machine, and there’s no food, other than a few souvenir items in the gift shop. The shotgun area has a cafeteria that is open only for special events, such as the many national competitions held at Whittington.

As for shooting at the Whittington Center, the numerous shooting ranges are in a flat area that comprises about 10 percent of the land. The rest of the 52 square miles are for guided hunting in mountain canyons. The Center has extensive overnight accommodations, at various price points. Far from city lights, and at an elevation of 7,000 feet, the nighttime stargazing and views of the Milky Way are spectacular.

For shotgun shooters, there are many ranges for skeet, trap, and sporting clays. Rifle and handgun shooters also have numerous options. For beginners, short-range metallic silhouette shooting is especially fun. The long-distance and ultra-long distance rifle ranges offer opportunities difficult to find at most ranges near urban areas.

Many visitors enjoy trying to hit the White Buffalo, a 6 x 10 foot steel target located at 1,123 yards on the long-distance rifle range. On my last visit, I hit it with a friend’s bolt-action Ruger Precision Rifle, a Lucid scope, and some guidance from an experienced rifleman.

Of course most people come to the Whittington Center for the shooting; the museum and library are underpublicized. Whether or not you want to go shooting, if you’re ever on the beautiful highway between Taos and Raton, New Mexico, the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest is well worth a visit.

from Latest – Reason.com https://ift.tt/2UhPbLA
via IFTTT

Panic Spreads To Georgia, Carolinas As Trump Warns Category 4 Hurricane Dorian “Very Hard To Predict”

We’re starting to suspect that hurricane forecasters aren’t much better at predicting the future movements of storms than market forecasters are at predicting the future movements of markets.

To wit, on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center shifted its forecasts for Hurricane Dorian, placing a large swath of the American Southeast in its path. This inspired South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster to declare a state of emergency, and prompted President Trump to declare that storms like Dorian are “very hard to predict.”

South Carolina’s order will enable “all state agencies to coordinate resources and sets into effect the State Emergency Operations Plan,” McMaster said. He went on to urge all South Carolinians to “prepare now”.

As of Saturday afternoon, Dorian was sporting an unusually wide ‘cone of uncertainty,’ which is making it especially difficult to track, according to the NYT.

According to the NHC, since Dorian has slowed down and could now turn northward just before making landfall in the Continental US, “it is too soon to determine when or where the highest surge and winds could occur.” As a result, “the risk of strong winds and dangerous storm surge is increasing along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina during the middle of next week.”

Though it likely won’t make landfall for a few more days, millions of Americans still have reason to panic. The storm was upgraded to a Category 4 Hurricane on Saturday. It now boasts maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, which is just 7 mph shy of Cat 5 status. Though its forward momentum has slowed – it’s now moving west at just 8 mph – there’s still a serious risk that it could make landfall as a Cat 4 storm, or greater. As of 2 pm on Saturday, the storm was about 205 miles east of Great Abaco, Bahamas, and roughly 400 miles west of West Palm Beach. The northwestern Bahamas will start feeling storm force winds Saturday night.

Even though the storm’s path has shifted, Florida residents should still prepare for the worst. That includes “possible extensive power outages,” according to a spokesman for Florida Power & Light. The utility has brought in about 18,000 workers in the state, and crews are staging at areas expected to be among the hardest hit, according to CNN.

Even if the storm doesn’t directly hit Florida, it could still cause life-threatening flooding, Gov. Ron DeSantis warned. And “if it bumps just a little west, you’re still looking at really, really significant impacts,” he warned.

The NHC has continued publishing satellite imagery of the storm…

…as well as a look inside its eye captured by ‘Hurricane Hunters.’

In Eastern Florida, shortages of gas and other critical supplies like bottled water are already being reported.

Businesses in Florida are already preparing by closing down and boarding up windows. Orlando International Airport will halt commercial flights on Monday beginning at 2 am. Daytona Beach International will also close after the last flights depart Sunday night.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2LiIxRe Tyler Durden

One Last Ceasefire Before Oblivion For Jihadists In Syria

Authored by Tom Luongo,

The battle to reclaim Syria moved forward this week. Syrian Arab Army forces reclaimed the town of Khan Sheikoun last week prompting a flurry of moves by all involved, most notably Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan was in Moscow this week sharing an ice cream cone with Vladimir Putin and cutting deals. The first part of that deal went into effect today; a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone in Idlib province.

If the battle is won, in essence, and the jihadists on the run, why call a ceasefire now?

Simple.

Turkey needs to be able to recall its troops from the area and disengage with the rebels it has been backing there for years. That was what Erdogan bargained for in Moscow, the lives of his troops.

That should tell you how serious Putin is about retaking Idlib and how little patience he has now for Erdogan’s nonsense.

As Bernard from Moon of Alabama points out the proof of this is Turkey blocking the rebels’ escape from Idlib back into Turkey.

Today about a thousand ‘rebels’ tried to cross through the Al-Bab border station into Turkey. Videos show a long line of cars of fleeing people. At the front several hundred men managed to enter Turkish ground. They were pushed back by Turkish army forces with water cannon trucks, tear gas and finally with gunfire. At least two ‘rebels’ were killed.

People shouted “Traitor traitor traitor, Turkish army is traitor”. They burned pictures of Erdogan while screaming takbir and allahu akbar.

Putin has been very clear about his policy from the beginning. Terrorists are to be wiped out. They are not to be allowed to escape and regroup to show up and cause trouble somewhere else.

The implicit message here is that Erdogan cannot do the U.S.’s bidding on this. He must withdraw support from them and leave them to hang.

If the U.S. and Israel want these guys kept alive then they should stop acting through Turkey’s proxy.

The howls from the U.S. corporate media will be ridiculous. There will be infuriating bloviations from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. John Bolton’s mustache will be heartsick that opportunities to kill more decent people will be lost.

Netanyahu will likely bomb some SAA ammunition dump and declare himself the greatest military mind of the 21st century.

What was that the gods making men mad?

The failure to reinforce Khan Sheikoun and the open hostility by Syrian forces against the Turkish resupply convoy was Erdogan’s end-game in Idlib.

Putin, by working with the SAA, finally forced Erdogan to choose what’s more important: his relationship with the U.S. or that with Russia and China, who are currently supporting his economically-challenged regime.

Erdogan got what he wanted from the U.S. on removing the Kurdish SDF forces from the northern part of Syria. He made that deal when it looked like he would be able to hold Khan Sheikoun and keep maximum pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The U.S. is desperately trying to starve Syria of oil to keep the SAA from having the resources needed to finish its job. It is failing.

All of these little battles they’ve lost, inch by inch. The collapse of the coalition to starve Yemen has fractured because of this. The border crossing between Iraq and Syria is now open. Iran is surviving Trump’s sanctions as China’s oil imports are rising again.

Oil tankers will make it to Syria.

The amount of time and money the Trump Administration sank into stopping one Iranian oil tanker is ludicrous and now highlights jut how pathetic and ineffective the whole program is.

With each little victory, each tanker of oil offloaded, town liberated and each day survived the position of U.S. forces in Syria weakens.

And soon Trump will be forced to make a real decision, not some fake one he doesn’t have the stones to follow through on. He’ll have to decide if Syria is worth it.

The ceasefire will be temporary. It is Erdogan’s last chance to truly gain Putin’s trust and exit Turkey from an untenable situation. He cannot use his troops as human shields anymore to protect the jihadist attacks on government-held territory.

He’s been trying to play Russia and the U.S. off each other to forge an independent path and hold onto his gains in Syria, while at the same time pressuring Cyprus.

Putin wasn’t having any of that. The price for Turkey’s energy stability which Putin has provided is the end of Turkish-backed opposition in Syria. The price of Turkey’s territorial stability is also bound up in Putin’s support. Because it is clear that the U.S.’s goal is an independent and oil-rick Kurdistan under its proxy control.

Putin understands that Turkey needs to be put back in its box. Because this is the only way forward that puts Israel’s expansionist ambitions back in the bottle where they belong.

Trump’s over the top support for Israel emboldened everyone to think they had this campaign in the bag.

In thinking this everyone in the U.S.’s orbit — Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, the U.K. — all overextended themselves. In doing so they became exposed to counter-attack and to key moments of failure.

Khan Sheikoun was one of those moments. And with Turkey no longer providing support the jihadists there will be wiped out, paving the way for the reintegration of Syria.

As I pointed out last week, the Houthi drone attack was another. The UAE cutting deals with Iran after the attack on oil tankers at Fujairah was another. These were all small victories which have big implications.

Millions can return to rebuild Syria once this is campaign is over which Russia, China and Iran will take the lead on in defiance of horrific and cruel U.S. sanctions.

The big question is what Israel will do here to stop this. Because they are the last wild card.

Bibi Netanyahu is putting on his best show before September’s election. He’s opened Israel up to a response by Hezbollah and Lebanon after going way too far there and in Iraq.

One can only hope that Trump will finally see the folly of this policy, understand that the conditions to enforce the Kushner/Netanyahu plan for subjugation of the Palestinians is dead and begin reversing course.

There are signs that he obliquely understands this but Trump’s inability to curb his ‘enthusiasms’ is his Achilles’ heel.

The fate of tens of millions of people hangs in the balance.

*  *  *

Sorry for the long time between posts, it has been a very difficult week here in Outer Luongolia. There’s a hurricane coming not just at my home in Florida but at all of us as events spiral out of anyone’s control. Join my Patreon if you want help navigating it and Install Brave if you want to just support alternative media’s future

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2Pwz91G Tyler Durden

How CIA-Backed Palantir Is Helping Police Root Out ‘Thought Crimes’

Palantir’s technology was developed in warzones like Fallujah, where it was used to anticipate roadside bombs and attacks by insurgents. Now, it’s being used on the streets of Los Angeles to root out criminals like something straight out of the movie “Minority Report.”

Unsurprisingly, the privately-held tech firm is backed by the CIA’s venture-capital arm. Now, the company has gathered massive amounts of data on the American populace, which it farms out to police departments, who use it to track down criminals before they strike.

But the company’s technology isn’t only used to track down common street thugs. It’s also used to track and anticipate the crimes of white collar fraudsters like Bernie Madoff.

Little is known about the company, which, unlike most tech startups, has no plans to go public. In 2013, CEO Alex Karp, Palantir’s CEO, explained that “running a company like ours would be very difficult” if it was exposed to the scrutiny that comes with being a public company.

In other words, if the public became aware of what Palantir is doing, the backlash might dwarf the data privacy scandals that have roiled Silicon Valley in recent years.

Tom Cruise in the film ‘Minority Report’

As of 2013, Palantir’s client list includes the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Roughly half of the company’s business is with the government. Q-Tel, the CIA’s VC arm, was one of the company’s earliest investors. The company, which doesn’t have an office, uses blockchain technology to protect its tools from sophisticated hackers.

Samuel Reading, a former marine who has worked in Afghanistan for NEK Advanced Securities Group, a US military contractor, has said: “It’s the combination of every analytical tool you could ever dream of. You will know every single bad guy in your area.”

Here’s more from a  Guardian report about the company:

Military-grade surveillance technology has now migrated from Fallujah to the suburban neighbourhoods of LA. Predictive policing is being used on illegal drivers and petty criminals through a redeployment of techniques and algorithms used by the US army dealing with insurgents in Iraq and with civilian casualty patterns.

When the US is described as a “war zone” between police and young black males, it is rarely mentioned that tactics developed by the US military in a real war zone are actually being deployed. Is predictive policing as a counter-insurgency tactic a contributing factor in the epidemic of police shootings of unarmed black men in the past four years?

One could argue that sophisticated pre-crime algorithms are not necessary when being black and male is seen as reason enough for the police to swoop. What predictive policing has done is militarise American cities, creating a heightened culture of suspicion and fear in areas where tensions are highest and policing is already most difficult. Officers being led to certain neighbourhoods solely because of an algorithm is enough to cause tension; enough to ignite a powder keg and push a delicate policing situation over the edge.

Ana Muniz is an activist and researcher who works with the Inglewood-based Youth Justice Coalition. “Any time that a society’s military and domestic police become more similar, the lines blur,” she told LA Weekly. “The military is supposed to defend the territory from external enemies, that’s not the mission of the police – they’re not supposed to look at the population as an external enemy.”

As the paper explains, the company offers a glimpse of the dystopian, totalitarian future that is gradually becoming a reality in China. Its capabilities to run ‘special ops’ using big-data tools shows how it has more power than Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon combined.

In 2010, the LAPD announced a partnership with Motorola Solutions to monitor the Jordan Downs public housing project with surveillance cameras. In 2013, they announced the deployment of live CCTV cameras with facial-recognition software in San Fernando Valley, reported to be programmed to ID suspects on a “hot list.”

Data merely becomes a new way of reinforcing old prejudices. Critics of these analytics argue that from the moment a police officer with the pre-crime mindset that you are a criminal steps out of their patrol car to confront you, your fate has been sealed.

In 2013, TechCrunch obtained a leaked report on the use of Palantir by the LA and Chicago police departments. Sgt Peter Jackson of the LAPD was quoted as saying: “Detectives love the type of information [Palantir] provides. They can now do things that we could not do before.”

Palantir is immensely secretive. It wields as much real-world power as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, but unlike them, Palantir operates so far under the radar, it is special ops.

Palantir’s name was lifted from JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ series, where a Palantir is a ‘seeing stone’ used by the evil wizard Saruman. Palantir means “one that sees from afar.” Its software allows the firm’s clients to be virtually omnipotent, meaning that some day, it could be used to prevent mass shootings before they happen.

But it also means that soon, ‘thought crimes’ might become real, enforceable offenses.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2PAFx7W Tyler Durden

Hong King Kong

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Of course the notion of addressing Hong Kong has been in my mind for a while, but it’s a bit of a moving target: things change all the time, and seemingly on the fly. However, with today’s fresh developments, it seems silly to wait any longer. Hong Kong Civic party lawmaker Dennis Kwok yesterday expressed the reason way better than I could:

As I said time and again, the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong, and I would warn against any such move on the part of the central people’s government.”

He said that before yesterday’s arrests -and subsequent release on bail- of a handful of alleged protest leaders Joshua Wong, Andy Chan, and Agnes Chow. Who, if you read between the lines, didn’t lead much of anything; they may be figure-heads, but that’s not the same thing. The protests are either lacking leaders or everyone’s a leader, depending on who you ask. So why arrest them to begin with? You tell me.

What I did find enlightening was Reuters’ report yesterday on Beijing having rejected Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s (how is CEO a political function?) proposal to communicate with the protesters and perhaps allow some concessions to their demands. I know it’s only one source, but it appears quite feasible.

Carrie Lam is between a rock and a hard place, and she admits it -at least according to the Reuters piece-, though not to the protesters. Beijing is in exactly such a spot, but won’t admit it, ever. And that right there is Hong Kong’s main issue.

China Rejected Hong Kong Plan To Appease Protesters

Earlier this summer, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, submitted a report to Beijing that assessed protesters’ five key demands and found that withdrawing a contentious extradition bill could help defuse the mounting political crisis in the territory.

The Chinese central government rejected Lam’s proposal to withdraw the extradition bill and ordered her not to yield to any of the protesters’ other demands at that time, three individuals with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. China’s role in directing how Hong Kong handles the protests has been widely assumed, supported by stern statements in state media about the country’s sovereignty and protesters’ “radical” goals.

Beijing’s rebuff of Lam’s proposal for how to resolve the crisis, detailed for the first time by Reuters, represents concrete evidence of the extent to which China is controlling the Hong Kong government’s response to the unrest. The Chinese central government has condemned the protests and accused foreign powers of fuelling unrest. The Foreign Ministry has repeatedly warned other nations against interfering in Hong Kong, reiterating that the situation there is an “internal affair.”

Why the extradition bill, which would have allowed for people to be extradited from Hong Kong to the mainland was ever proposed, g-d only knows. Remember, the transfer of control over the city to China is still 28 years away. Why do it now? It was obvious all along it would meet with fierce resistance.

Blindness or blinders in the Politburo? Quite possible, it’s not as if those guys typically get out much. It’s just that they’re taking a giant risk, because as Dennis Kwok says, “the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong”. What he means, and Beijing surely understands, is the end of Hong Kong’s status as a trade and finance center.

Not a trifle matter for sure. Hong Kong has built that status over a long period -that happens in fields where trust is so crucial-, much like the City of London and Wall Street. You can break that down in no time, but you can’t rebuild the trust elsewhere in anywhere near that timeframe, it takes many years.

China has major plans to ‘move’ and/or ‘share’ Hong Kong’s financial and trade ‘qualities’ to/with neighboring Macau and Shenzhen, but it’s nowhere near ready to make that transition.

Remember, Hong Kong has its own dollar, the HKD. That’s not going to move to the mainland, not even in 2047. China only have the yuan, which is quite useless for international trade and FX.

Alors, what are we going to do about it, guys? On the one side, you have Beijing, which tried to push through the extradition bill and got it thrown back in its face with interest. But Beijing is allergic to losing face. On the other side you have the protesters, who realize this is now or never, that if they give in now, their freedom(s) will never come back.

Two immovable entities, but Beijing seems to think they can move this, that they have the upper hand. Do they, though? 7.5 million people live in Hong Kong, a fair amount of whom are below the age of 10 or above the age of 75. So the 1.5 million that were already out on the streets in some of this year’s protests added up to a quarter of the population. That’s a lot of people.

Sending in troops would hurt China’s economy something real bad, because it would mean the end of the Hong Kong trade hub (corporations, banks, rich people would leave). And most of the population understand the now-or-never notion. I read somewhere that though 92% of the people are ‘Chinese’, only 11% call themselves that.

The vast majority ‘identifies’ as Hong Kongers. And (perceived) freedom is a big part of that. Many of those Hong Kongers are young and highly educated, salaries are high (finance sector), they can travel freely, study abroad. Those who are older are often the parents of these young people, who’ve worked very hard to give their kids these options.

There have been -and will be again- protests from groups of doctors, lawyers, finance professionals, you name it. They don’t want to run the risk of being picked off the streets by mainland Chinese soldiers OR by Hong Kong police forces instructed by Beijing.

When/If things get down to the wire, Hong Kongers will prove very much to be an immovable force. They have too much to lose not to be. They have, in their own view, everything to lose (which some people would translate as nothing to lose, but meaning the same). And they’re up against a Politburo that reacts to them like it’s never left the early 1900s.

This does not bode well for anyone, and if g-d forbid it comes down to serious fighting in the streets, it will bode ill for the entire world. Not only China depends on Hong Kong for much of its trade, the US and EU do, too, for their trade with China, from which they procure much of what is sold in their stores.

High time for everyone to sit down and talk. If there’s still time. The mass protest scheduled for tomorrow, August 31, may have been ‘officially’ called off, but there’s no proof Hong Kongers will stay home because of that. There IS proof of more military movements just across the Hong Kong border in Shenzhen, however.

Pre-emptively arresting and releasing a pair of 22-year-old kids may not do the job anymore for Beijing. But the Communist Party CCP thinks they cannot possibly lose. They may be wrong. 1.3 billion people is a mighty potential force, but it’s not always only about numbers. Sometimes it’s about now or never.

To me, personally, it feels like what is needed is for the CCP to modernize. But its very structure is set against that. It appears to be this inertia-laden colossus attempting to rule the 21st century with 100-year-old ideas. And yes, they’re talking about shutting down the internet in Hong Kong.

But that would mean shutting down the banks and trading houses too. As would sending in the tanks. According to the 1990s transition treaty signed with the UK, Beijing has until 2047 to fully incorporate Hong Kong. It may not go down smoothly then either, granted, but why push it today?

The West, the EU, UK, US -Putin even?!- can easily come up with a proposal for meetings on Hong Kong to be held over the next 28 years until 2047 that would allow Beijing to save face today. Let’s get it done, soon, win everyone involved some time, they all need it. We need it. And 28 years is plenty time. Before we inadvertently land in another Boxer War or Opium War or WWIII.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2ZCqiz9 Tyler Durden

Iran Trolls Trump By Showing Off ‘Undamaged’ Satellite After Explosion

Trump’s tweet on Friday which trolled Iran’s failure-prone space program just after its Safir-1B rocket said to be transporting an Iranian-made satellite into orbit exploded on its launch pad was viewed by many as a tacit admission the US had something to do with it, either through a cyber-hack or other act of sabotage.

The US president uploaded a picture of what many speculate was from a classified intelligence brief, given its high resolution and angle highly unusual in terms of most known satellite capabilities — suggesting the close-up image could have been from a secret American drone in the area, or a cutting edge spy satellite.  

But Iranian officials have now shot back at Trump’s mockery, with Iranian Information and Communication Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeting an image of his own, which appears to show the unscathed and intact Nahid 1 – a solar-powered communications satellite which was supposed to be launched on Thursday’s failed rocket. 

“Me & Nahid 1 right now. Good Morning Donald Trump!” tweeted the Iranian minister. The uploaded photo is supposedly of the “undamaged” high-tech satellite. Iranian officials had confirmed the failed launch later in the day Thursday, but it was unclear if the satellite had been aboard when the explosion happened. 

Prior satellite images showed the aftermath of the explosion at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in Iran’s Semnan province, southeast of Iran’s capital, as the rocket and satellite were scheduled to launch, which constituted the Islamic Republic’s third failed launch this year. 

CNN cited a US official familiar with an intelligence assessment of the matter as saying the US believes the accident most likely occurred during fueling operations

Up close video footage of the Nahid-1 satellite:

Iranian state media had previously described the satellite prepped for launch, the Nahid-1, as a telecommunication satellite which was to conduct a low orbit around the Earth for two-and-a-half months.

Given the US scrutiny and prior condemnations of Iran’s satellite launch and space ambitions, the incident has proven a deep embarrassment for Tehran officials and the fledgling program; however, most countries satellite programs were achieved by lengthy trial and error. 



Safir rocket on a launch pad, via AFP.

Washington has stood firmly against Iran’s space ambitions, claiming the rockets used are in violation of a UN Security Council resolution banning ballistic missiles with nuclear capabilities.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2LjdO6r Tyler Durden