Russia To Overtake Germany As World’s Fifth-Largest Economy

The Russian economy is apparently more durable than many Western politicians imagined.

Despite years of international sanctions and low oil prices have dragged on Russia’s economy, which pushed the Russian economy into a recession during 2015, UK-based global bank Standard Chartered predicted in a report published this week that Russia will overtake Germany as the world’s fifth largest economy, possibly as early as next year, according to RT.

In a report outlining its projections for the global economy through 2030, StanChart projected that China would overtake the US a the world’s largest economy as explosive growth in Asia will eventually see some of the Continent’s largest economies unseat Western economies in the top rankings. By 2030, the bank expects seven of the world’s ten largest economies will be Asian economies.

Kremlin

Using a combination of PPP-inflected exchange rates and nominal GDP growth, the bank ranked the top five economies as China, the US, India, Japan, and Russia. Rounding out the top 10 countries will include Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, and the UK.

“By 2020, a majority of the world population will be classified as middle class. Asia will lead the increase in middle-class populations even as middle classes stagnate in the West,” said Standard Chartered researcher Madhur Jha.

StanChart aren’t the only ones who are optimistic about Russia’s prospects. The World Bank said in its economic outlook that it expects GDP growth in Russia to accelerate to 1.8% in 2020 and 2021, compared with 1.6% last year. It attributed this growth largely to “relatively low and stable inflation and increased oil production.” The IMF has also raised its forecast for Russia’s GDP growth in 2019 to 1.8%, with the fund anticipating that the impact of rising oil prices would outweigh the impact of sanctions.

Though when it comes to Russia’s overtaking of Germany, a slowing in the economic growth engine of Europe is also partly to blame. Germany slowed sharply in 2018, growing by 1.5%, its slowest rate since 2013.

And data released during the fourth quarter raised fears that Germany may have experienced a second straight quarterly contraction in Q4, raising anxieties about a possible recession.

But with the Russian economy ascendant again despite looming threats of more sanctions tied to the attack on former intelligence agent Sergei Skripal, one can’t help but wonder whether the media will point out that the economic rival is also Putin’s fault.

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Top 10 Reasons Not To Love NATO

Authored by David Swanson,

The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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Upgraded Chinese Stealth Jet “Overwhelmingly Superior” To US F-35 Jet: Claims Beijing Analyst

As Lockheed Martin plans to deliver the next batch of F-35A stealth fighter jets to South Korea in March, Chinese military observers have stated that an upgraded Chinese J-20 stealth fighter will achieve “overwhelming superiority” over the F-35 in the future and that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF) can defend China against the “US F-35 friends circle” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Yonhap News Agency reported the fighters would arrive by the end of March. The shipment of new stealth fighters is part of South Korea’s procurement of 40 F-35As in 2014 at the cost of more than $100 million per plane.

South Korea is not the only Western ally in the Asia-Pacific region that has procured the stealth aircraft. Japan has deployed 10 F-35As, with 32 expected to arrive in the coming year. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has ordered an additional 100 F-35s, which includes a variant of the aircraft called the F-35Bs, known for short takeoffs and vertical landing. 

Australia received its two F-35As in December. The country is expected to receive more than 100 jets in the coming years.

Washington has surrounded China with stealth fighter jets, in other words, they are building an “F-35 friend circle,” Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Wei said the US, Japan, and South Korea are gearing up for more joint exercises near China using the F-35.

The stealth jets are outfitted with an advanced weapon system and capable of cruising at supersonic speeds without being detected by radar. The F-35 is considered the world’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter.

Global Times said China “is no sitting duck in a potential clash with the US fighter jet.” The PLAF recently deployed a fifth-generation fighter of their own, dubbed the J-20. 

“China’s fifth-generation fighter jet J-20, which has been in service under the People’s Liberation Army Air Force since early 2018, is endowed with state-of-the-art aviation and electronic technologies. Its range and weapons payload are widely considered to be better than the F-35’s, enabling it to achieve its main mission of gaining aerial superiority in a 21st Century battlefield,” Global Times said in a report.

Wei also said the J-20 has room for significant improvement. An upgraded version that is not far from series production will have “overwhelming superiority” to the F-35.

He noted that China’s “passive radars and meter wave radars” can detect stealth aircraft, and have the ability to deploy super high-tech missiles to destroy them.

Global Times makes it clear at the end of the report to highlight the inefficiencies of the F-35. They first indicate the jet has experienced numerous emergency landings, in-flight malfunctions, including oxygen deprivation among crews, and engine failures.

The jet also requires very high maintenance cost, as the radar wave-absorbing coating wears off and needs to be replaced after every flight.

Global Times notes that the Chinese military has not publicly issued any reports concerning malfunctions of the J-20.

The outlook is very clear: Whoever has the best fifth-generation fighter will win the next major conflict. Right now, it is between the US and the Chinese, but we do note, Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 should not be ignored. Also, there is Iran’s IAIO Qaher-313 stealth jet, but we do not think it is operational. 

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American Apartheid: Resurrecting Communism’s South African Playbook In The Land Of The Free

Via Wilder, Wealthy, and Wise blog,

“Yes, wherever bicycles are broken, or menaced by International Communism, Bicycle Repair Man is ready! Ready to smash the communists, wipe them up, and shove them off the face of the earth.”

– Monty Python’s Flying Circus

There are times when you write something that you think is important, and you want to get it right.  This is one of those times.  I hope you find this post worthwhile.

A few weeks ago, a very good friend sent me an article.  The article intrigued me, and I began to research the background of the article.  What I found was stunning.  The article itself is this (LINK), from Time® magazine, you don’t have to click – I’ll summarize it below.  Time™, I’ll note, very appropriately has a red border but they haven’t added the hammer and sickle yet.  Yet.

I found this article disturbing, but it really matched with the research that I’d done up to this point.   There is a cultural shift of the Left, and the Left is moving ever farther, ever faster left.  I wrote about that here (Civil War, Neat Graphs, and Carrie Fisher’s Leg), which is probably what made my friend send the link.

I read Tayari Jones’ Time® magazine piece.  I found it to be an example of the outcome of the most brutal form of programming and child exploitation that I’ve seen recently, though I will admit that I try to shy away from Disney® movies.  In short, her parents were Black Nationalists (Her description, not mine.  “Black Nationalists” refers to a group that wants to either repatriate to Africa or to carve out a separate nation for blacks in the United States.) that convinced a five-year-old that Gulf Oil© was responsible for killing black children in Africa so much so that the child, Tayari, would not ride in a car fueled by Gulf Oil® to the zoo

The piece ends with simplicity.  All to the Left is joyous and moral.  All to the Right is evil death.

Should we celebrate our tolerance and civility as we stanch the wounds of the world and the climate with a poultice of national unity?

Jones wants to further divide us, or destroy those who don’t and won’t conform to her (undefined) viewpoints.  Also, the last time the word “poultice” was used out loud was by Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies.  But her title says it all, “There’s nothing virtuous about finding common ground.

That led me to wonder more about the author – what was going on in her head that led to this article?  What are her ultimate goals? 

Featured prominently in the article was the Soweto Uprising, a 1976 confrontation between black students and the police, which appears in hindsight to be an unplanned 4th Generation Warfare (The Caravan:  Warfare by Other Means) offensive.  I hit Wikipedia to learn more.  Then, there it was, the missing link.

“No Middle Road,” an essay by Joe Slovo is listed as influential in the communist African National Congress (ANC) at that time.    The original title of the article by Jones, as enshrined in the URL, is telling:  “Moral Middle Myth.”  Obviously they are connected.  Again, from Jones:

I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground. People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space. This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.

Okay.  Now you have my attention.  We have a person actively preaching division and implied violence whose suppressed essay title echoes an influential essay from 1976.  My next question was simple:  Who the heck was Joe Slovo?

Joe Slovo was communist, born Yossel Mashel Slovo in Soviet Lithuania who moved to South Africa with his family when he was eight.  Slovo was a deeply loyal communist who admired Stalin.  He was exiled from South Africa for 27 years and spent that time launching and orchestrating terrorist strikes in South Africa while abroad.  His operations included bombings of civilians.  Slovo did have some spare time to oversee the murder and execution of people thought to be traitors to the cause, often through putting a tire around their neck, filling it with gasoline, and setting it on fire.  The nickname for this practice was “necklacing.”  Now Slovo didn’t actually do these things himself, he merely planned them and was in charge of the organization that made them happen.  See?  His hands are clean.

Slovo was such a leftist, the only thing he on the right of is this picture.

Slovo had to be an influence on Tayari Jones.  Understanding the influences can be important, besides, Tayari Jones didn’t mention exactly what she wanted done with those she opposes.  Maybe the essay she was influenced by would?

I decided to look for it on the Internet, where I can find out what was on TV on NBC® on a Sunday evening in June of 1983.  I spent more time than I’d like to admit spend sifting through Marxist websites, looking for the essay.  I went to the second page of Google© results.  Exhaustive research, indeed.  I even found where Marxists who had previously posted a copy were looking for a copy to post.  It’s like the document had been purposely scrubbed from the web.  Odd – once information hits the web, it normally flies free and multiplies.  Not this.

I finally found that the essay was included in a book, Southern Africa:  The New Politics of Revolution (Penguin/Pelican, 1976).  That’s the only place I could find it.  A seller on Amazon had a copy for less than $8, so I bought it.  It took weeks to arrive.  It was old – the pages were yellowing.  It also looked like a socialist’s mind:  it had never been opened.

What had I expected?  The usual Marxist language designed to be confusing and cult-like.

Whenever anyone talks like this?  They want you to nod and pretend you understand.

No.  Slovo was very clear in his writing.  Much of what Slovo writes are about conditions and history that are unique to South Africa.  And, reconstructing and solving the problems and historical injustices of South Africa, real as they were and are now, is far beyond this post.  But Slovo very clearly sets out a battle plan that is being used against the United States right now.

For instance, on page 118, Slovo states:  “To be born white means by definition to be born privileged . . . .” I hadn’t heard of the concept of “White Privilege” until 2014 or so, and then it was related back to an essay (White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack) by Peggy McIntosh, who you can read more about here in this excellent essay on Quillette: (LINK).

The important idea is that McIntosh didn’t originate this divisive concept – Slovo wrote about it in his 1976 essay.  It may be even older, but this is the earliest reference I’ve found.  And Slovo specifically introduced it to open additional divisions in South Africa.

Slovo continues: 

“. . . the struggle to destroy white supremacy is ultimately bound up with the very destruction of capitalism itself.”

In a further parallel with today, Slovo describes the history of struggle for liberation as “The Resistance” as he builds a case that his dreamed-of communist state can only be brought about via violence, which he calls “armed struggle,” rather than “killing people I don’t agree with, and also kids on my side, if we can get good pictures for the press.”

Slovo clearly expected and desired a war.  In the time he lived, Slovo completely misread what happened in the communist takeover in Vietnam and he was thinking that the Vietnamese had won a military victory.  They had not.  The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong had been defeated in almost every engagement.  The North Vietnamese won because they demoralized the United States and made the politicians feel the war was unwinnable – clearly a Fourth Generation warfare victory.

Ultimately the ANC realized, however dimly, that the deaths of black South Africans during the Soweto Uprising was their victory.  They won by appearing to be the victims.  And they won by creating a coalition of victims who would never feel that they could never be repaid for their pain – no reparations would ever be acceptable.

Page 205 contains the telling sentence:  “The struggle can no longer be centered on pleas for civil rights or for reforms within the framework of white dominance; it is a struggle for people’s power, in which mass ferment and the growing importance of the armed factor go hand in hand.”  Slovo worked to use the ethnic divisions in the country to create a situation where raw power would end up in the hands of the communists.

There we have it:  the end goal is not rights, or prosperity, or freedom, or liberty.  The end goal is naked power.

Back to the United States, we find that could never happen here:

Nothing you have is yours. Let me be clear: Nothing you have is yours. Also, Let me be see through: Reparations are not donations, because we are not your charity, tax write off, or good deed for the day. You are living off of stolen resources, stolen land, exploited labor, appropriated culture and the murder of our people. Nothing you have is yours.

Reparations for us are not only necessary because we are economically harmed, exploited and stolen from — while the violence against us is never acknowledged — but because in order for us to create and move work for Black liberation, it requires resources and MONEY. We live in a white supremacist capitalist world, so ain’t no spinning webs of lies around “money isn’t the answer.” It is because money and exploitation and power are interconnected concepts of violence. Y’all spent hundreds of years selling, mutilating, raping and beating our bodies and labor but you think money doesn’t matter to our freedom and liberation? Cute. Write me a check for this shade because it comes with 400 years of trauma.

We need housing, transportation, food, clothes, free space for meetings and work space; we need laptops, cell phones, encrypted systems for communication, solar power and LAND. Stop playing. Y’all really thought pulling up to the protest in your Hyundai was gonna be enough? Nah. You have to give us everything we need and more, because even if it means you go without — it doesn’t matter because that’s how we been living for 400+ years. Reparations will never be negotiable. So if you’re not willing to talk money, you are not here for #BlackLivesMatter as a movement or for us as individuals.

(H/T Liberty’s Torch (LINK)) Original that I tracked down is wearyourvoicemag.com.

I thought this quote was a parody until I found it at the website it was originally posted on.  It appears that she’s serious.  That’s from Ashleigh Shackelford, who seems really nice when talking to people that support her, as that passage above was a shout-out to her white supporters.  I left her spelling, emphasis, and capitalization intact.  Ms. Shackelford is the product of the same mentality of Marxist Joe Slovo and (I’m assuming) Marxist Tayari Jones.

As I wrote about earlier (Seneca’s Cliff and You), it’s far easier to destroy something than to make something.  In our culture, today, we actively have Marxists attempting to undermine the fabric of our society using a variety of weapons, and especially trying to create a majority coalition of disaffected people to destabilize society to create, in effect, an American version of apartheid to fight.  This is one reason that illegal immigration is actively supported – it brings in people entirely unrelated to the current society.  Outside of the future leftist votes, this group is used to help create additional fragmentation in the country.

He’s going to have to work awfully hard.

One thing we’ve seen – when this tactic works, ending it is difficult – look at the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.  Once before in the comments on this blog people brought up the Irish Troubles and people started arguing about who was responsible in the comments.  On this blog.  In 2018.

I was certain that when the Soviet Union fell, that the world was safe.  In my mind, it should have been clear from the horrors of Cambodia, to the people of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe winning their own freedom from oppression that the subject was closed.  Even if people couldn’t see that communism was evil, at least they could see that it didn’t work, right?

No.  Like Jason or Michael Myers communism keeps coming back.  It appears that, like Freddy Kruger, communism will keep going as long as people like Slovo, Jones, and Shackelford will fight and kill (even kill people on their own side) for power.  But only as long as there are people stupid enough to believe them.

Thankfully there’s no one like that in the United States.

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Federal Workers Taking Odd Jobs To Make Ends Meet During Shutdown

Federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown are turning to various side jobs to make ends meet, according to the Associated Press

Some, such as immigration lawyer Cheryl Inzunza Blum of Tucson has been renting out a room on Airbnb for extra cash – capitalizing on the busy winter travel season in Arizona after she stopped receiving paychecks for her government contract work at a local immigration lawyer. She says she’s working for free since she has clients who depend on her – some of whom are detained or have court hearings. 

Cheryl Inzunza Blum

But she also has bills: her Arizona state bar dues, malpractice insurance and a more than $500 phone bill for the past two months because she uses her phone so heavily for work. Blum bills the government for her work, but the office that pays her hasn’t processed any paychecks to her since before the shutdown began. So she’s been tapping every source she can to keep herself afloat — even her high school- and college-aged children — and is even thinking about driving for Uber and Lyft as well. –AP

“So after working in court all day I’m going to go home and get the room super clean because they’re arriving this evening,” she said, referring to her Airbnb renters. 

“I have a young man who’s visiting town to do some biking, and he’s going to come tomorrow and stay a week,” she added. “I’m thrilled because that means immediate money. Once they check in, the next day there’s some money in my account.”

Other federal workers are driving for Uber, turning to handyman work, and looking for traditional temporary gigs in order to help pay the bills during the longest shutdown in US history. 

Fortunately for unpaid federal workers, the shutdown is happening during a relatively strong economy. 

The Labor Department reported that employers posted 6.9 million jobs in November, the latest figures available. That’s not far from the record high of 7.3 million reached in August.

Roughly 8,700 Uber driver positions are advertised nationwide on the SnagAJob website, while Lyft advertises about 3,000.

But the gig economy doesn’t pay all that well — something the furloughed government workers are finding out. –AP

48-year-old Chris George of Hemet, California has been driving for Lyft after going unpaid from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture forest service. He averages around $10 for every hour he drives, not including gas. 

Fortunately for George, he is about to receive $450 in weekly unemployment benefits, however they haven’t kicked in yet so he’s taking jobs as a handyman or whatever else is available. 

“I’ve just been doing side jobs when they come along,” George said on Monday. “I had two last week, and I don’t know what this week’s going to bring.”

Another furloughed worker, George Jankowski, has been receiving $100 per week in unemployment, however he says it’s barely enough to get by. On Monday, he helped a friend move out of a third-floor apartment in Cheyenne, Wyoming – making $30. Jankowski, an Air Force veteran, works at a USDA call center and does not expect to receive back pay due to the fact that he’s paid hourly as a part-time employee.

George Jankowski

He calls the situation “grueling.” 

“It’s embarrassing to ask for money to pay bills or ask to borrow money to, you know, eat,” he told AP

Recruiters are taking advantage of the shutdown

Several employers have been taking advantage of the shutdown to try and hire workers, at least temporarily. 

Missy Koefod of the Atlanta-based cocktail-mixer manufacturer 18.21 Bitters said the company needs temporary help in the kitchen, retail store and getting ready for a trade show, and decided to put out the word to furloughed federal workers on social media that they were hiring.

“I can’t imagine not getting paid for a couple of weeks,” Koefod said.

American Labor Services, a staffing agency that employs 500 people a week in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, sent out an appeal to furloughed federal workers on Monday, asking them to get in touch for clerical or light-industrial work. –AP

Some might not realize that they could get something temporary, it could last for a short period,” said American Labor Services CEO, Ben Kaplan. 

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Dossier Shocker: Top DOJ Official Sounded Alarm, Warned Of Clinton Connection And Possible Bias

The Justice Department was fully aware that the notorious Steele Dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton and might be biased – a crucial detail which was omitted just weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign, reports John Solomon of The Hill

Bruce Ohr

According to Solomon’s sources – which have proven impeccable, the former #4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, Bruce Ohr – who had extensive contact with Steele, briefed “both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.” 

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day. –The Hill

Ohr’s activities also contradict a key argument made by House Democrats in their attempts to downplay the significance of the Steele Dossier; that the FBI claimed it was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele, and that the former MI6 operative was “never advised … as to the motivation behind the research.” The FBI further “speculates” that those who hired Steele were “likely looking for information to discredit” Trump’s campaing. 

There was no “speculation” going on by the FBI. Thanks to Ohr’s warning, they absolutely knew about Steele’s bias against Trump while working for a Clinton-funded project to gather harmful opposition research on him. 

Ohr had firsthand knowledge about the motive and the client: He had just met with Steele on July 30, 2016, and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the same firm employing Steele.

“I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump,” Ohr told congressional investigators, adding that he warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” he added. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.” –The Hill

When lawmakers pressed Ohr as to why he would volunteer that information to the FBI, he answered “In case there might be any kind of bias or anything like that,” adding later “So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information, I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware.”

Ohr also says he told the FBI that his wife and Steele were working for Fusion GPS – the same firm hired by the Clinton campaign through intermediary law firm Perkins Coie, and that they were conduction Trump-Russia research at the behest of Clinton’s camp.

Glenn Simpson (left), Christopher Steele, Bruce and Nellie Ohr

“These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware,” Ohr told lawmakers, explaining how he warned the bureau. 

Perkins Coie eventually admitted to paying Fusion GPS, disguising the payments as legal bills when it was in fact opposition research

When Ohr was asked if he knew of any connection between the Steele Dossier and the DNC, he said he thought the project was really connected to the Clinton campaign, saying: “I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC but I certainly said yes that they were working for, you know, they were somehow working, associated with the Clinton campaign.” 

“I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor for GPS, Fusion GPS,” he added. 

Ohr divulged his first contact with the FBI was on July 31, 2016, when he reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page. He then was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence, including Peter Strzok, the now-fired agent who played a central role in starting the Trump collusion probe.

But Ohr’s contacts about the Steele dossier weren’t limited to the FBI. He said in August 2016 — nearly two months before the FISA warrant was issued — that he was asked to conduct a briefing for senior Justice officials.

Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.

Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe. –The Hill

In early 2018, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to downplay Ohr’s connections to Steele during their investigation – insisiting Ohr only notified the FBI about Steele after Steele was fired by the FBI in November 2016 for improper contacts with the media. 

The memo from House Democrats – led by Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA), says that Ohr’s contact with the FBI only began “weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application.”

Ohr’s testimony refutes Schiff’s memo, making clear he was in contact with FBI and DOJ officials long before the FISA warrant or the 2016 US election

Not only that, “Ohr explicitly told the FBI that Steele was desperate to defeat the man he was investigating and was biased,” according to Solomon, and the FBI didn’t have to guess as to Steele’s motives.

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Missile Defense Review To Feature Space-Based Interceptors To Counter Iran, North Korea

A space-based series of sensors that would coordinate with missile interceptor sites in the continental US to counter ballistic missiles threats posed by countries like North Korea and Iran? This is but one of the jaw dropping newly proposed defense technologies that will be highlighted as part of a long-awaited report on the status of the country’s missile defense capabilities to be unveiled during President Trump’s visit to the Pentagon Thursday. 

The president will make the visit to reveal the Missile Defense Review, which studies and assesses US missile defense capabilities and needs under in order to inform the White House’s Pentagon funding request for the upcoming fiscal year 2020 budget. Crucially, it’s expected to outline changes in America’s missile defense strategy toward Russia and China, as well as present key avenues of upcoming research, such as futuristic and experimental advanced tech systems like laser intercept capabilities and space-based detection systems

The congressionally mandated review is the first of its kind to be undertaken since 2010, and though it was scheduled to be released in late 2017, it was finally completed in October of last year — pushed back in part due to the administration’s desire to expand the scope of the study from ballistic missile defense to all missile defense.

Likely the most provocative and headline grabbing part of the review will be space related defense. According to ABC News:

According to a senior administration official, the review looks at the development of new space-based sensors that could detect long-range missile before they are launched and calls for the study of whether lasers could be used to counter ballistic missiles that are launched by rogue states.

Statements from senior Pentagon officials previewing what to expect have indicated these new space capabilities could become the next big layer of missile defense against Iran and North Korea. “Space is key to the next step of missile defense,” said one official to ABC.

Potential plans and areas of further research will include “early warning systems” in space that could track missiles as they are being prepared for launch, perhaps ever more crucial given current reports of Russian and Chinese rapid development of hypersonic threats

The Missile Defense Review is also expected to explore “a space-based interceptor that could fire rockets into space, directed at an incoming missile,” according to senior officials. This will also include study of the use of what an official described as “directed energy” against incoming missiles, possibly through laser technology. On these and other technologies that sound straight out of Star Trek, the official said “we think is worth looking into”.

Specifically on the North Korea nuclear and long-range ballistic missile threat, the following bizarre and futuristic sounding weapon has been described as under consideration as an avenue of research:

ABC News has learned that one concept being explored for countering the North Korean missile threat in the future is using a new solid state powered laser on a high-altitude drone. The long-range laser would be able to destroy a North Korean missile while in the initial boost phase of its launch.

“This is really a comprehensive look at our missile defense capabilities and programs and posture,” a senior administration official said of the report’s release. “Both what we have today, what we’d like to make improvements to and then what are the next generation programs we’d like to invest in to get ahead and stay ahead of the threat.”

Both the private defense technology industry as well as foreign nations and their defense sectors are expected to pay close attention to what’s unveiled later on Thursday, especially competitors in this arena already touting their own cutting edge weaponry such as Beijing and Moscow. 

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Canada’s Forgotten Man: Energy Workers

Authored by Andrew Moran via Liberty Nation,

Canada’s energy sector is home to the nation’s forgotten man…

All over the world, the forgotten man is rising up, reminding the ruling elite of his existence. Fed up with leaders catering to the whims of 0.05% of society, or instituting policies that impact their pocketbooks, the working folks of America, Italy, Brazil, and France are making sure their voices are heard in the political arena. This uncomfortable fact is sending shivers up and down their masters’ spines, including those in the Great White North.

Ivory Tower

For so long, Canadians were passive and apathetic about how they were treated by their rulers. They just drowned their sorrows of excessive taxation and abuse of the public purse in a Tim Hortons double-double and a plate of poutine. That’s just the way it is, they cried. There’s nothing to do, they grieved.

But then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau happened.

The trust fund baby is a man who continually talks down to those who are not like him. By encouraging young people to use “peoplekind,” openly wishing that Ottawa would embrace a Chinese-style government, and suggesting citizens with real concerns about Syrian migrants are racist, Trudeau has begun to light the populist spark from British Columbia to Newfoundland.

To truly comprehend the left’s disdain for blue-collar Canadians who do not accept the premises of leftist dogma, you will need to travel to Calgary, Alberta. At a recent demonstration of energy workers, Liberal Mayor Naheed Nenshi treated the crowd like kindergarteners:

“Well, for those of you who are saying, ‘No I don’t believe in climate change,’ good luck changing hearts and minds because we have to be able to say that there is no difference between standing up for the economy and standing up for the environment.”

Nenshi shifted his remarks into French, but he received pushback from the crowd. This led the condescending mayor to threaten the crowd with detention: “If you want someone to listen to you, you have to speak their language.”

It is this mockery, condescension, and dismissal that is producing discontent nationwide, particularly in the energy sector. In the era of Trudeaumania 2.0, politicians from major urban centers turn their noses up at workers employed in the oil, gas, and coal industries. Journalists, accepting a $600 million bribe from the federal government, refrain from calling out such deplorable behavior. Instead, they report favorably on imposing carbon taxes, delaying pipelines, and implementing egregious environmental regulations in the resource-rich country.

Of course, the energy sector’s tax dollars are good enough to be used against them, extending generous grants and subsidies to the politically-connected green industry. Why? To appease the globalists who are using the religion of global warming to control populations.

But Canadians are no longer sitting idly by. They’re mad as hell and are sending clear signals that they’re not going to take it anymore.

Polite No More

In December, a convoy of trucks in Grand Prairie, Alberta “touched its tail” as it rallied in the city impacted by several government policies, including the carbon tax, Bill C-48, and Bill C-69. While the carbon tax is terrifying for all Canadians, C-48 and C-69 mainly target energy; the former prohibits oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s northern coast and the latter dramatically transforms the process of environmental assessments for every major infrastructure project, including the ever-important trans-province energy project proposals.

The protests against the levy and Bills C-48 and C-69 are only intensifying. Another Alberta-based convoy of trucks is taking its frustrations to Ottawa next month.

“We want to make our voices heard,” James Robson, the grassroots Canada Action manager, told The Star. “Families are supported by the energy sector. It’s one of the most important economic drivers in Canada.”

The Trudeau government seems indifferent to the growing opposition to carbon taxes and punishing legislative blitzkrieg. This should not come as a surprise. Energy Minister Catherine McKenna, also known as Climate Barbie, encouraged a grain farmer to just adopt artificial intelligence to combat the costs of the carbon tax.

It is this level of arrogance that puts Trudeau and his minions out of touch with typical Canadians.

The Forgotten Man’s Resurgence

Is Canada igniting another Tea Party, Arab Spring, or Yellow Vest movement?

Perhaps the modesty of your average Canadian will never concede to something so iconic, instead preferring to just have their voices heard by the central planners who think they’re better than someone from rural Alberta or the Maritimes. Canada’s thought police and gatekeepers of permissible opinion are warning about the dangers of populism, but if they wish to quash its inevitable ascent to mainstream politics, they should quit treating voters not from Toronto, Vancouver, or Ottawa either like they don’t exist or as if they’re children riding the short bus.

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China Injects Gargantuan 1.1 Trillion In Liquidity This Week

Following what Bloomberg calculated was a record net reverse repo liquidity injection on Wednesday, when the PBOC injected a whopping 560 billion yuan of liquidity into the financial system via open market operations, the Chinese central bank has done it again and in Thursday’s open market operation, it sold 250BN yuan in 7 Day repos (slightly below yesterday’s record 350BN), and 150BN in 28 Day repos, which net of maturities resulted in a whopping net 380BN yuan ($56.2BN) liquidity injection.

This brings the net liquidity injection this week to a near record 1.14 Trillion yuan (Monday 20BN, Tuesday 180BN, Wednesday 560BN and Thursday 380BN) and the week is not even over yet – should tomorrow’s reverse repo be of similar magnitude, then this week will go down in history as China’s biggest liquidity injection on record.

As yesterday, today’s massive liquidity injection was aimed at “keeping reasonable and sufficient liquidity in banking system as liquidity falls relatively fast during peak season for tax payments,” according to a statement from the PBOC, although why this year should be such a significant outlier, even when factoring in the liquidity needs ahead of the Lunar new year, to prior periods was not exactly clear.

There is, of course, a much simpler explanation: with Chinese economic and trade data turning from bad to worse with every passing day, Beijing’s response is increasingly one of a panicked “spasm”, as Nomura’s Charlie McElligott wrote today when he noted that with regard to the response of Chinese authorities in addressing their economic slowdown and credit crunch, “it had to get worse before it got better”—recently collapsing Chinese data has now clearly forced an escalation of easing-/stimulus-/liquidity- policies, as follows:

  • Two days ago in a press conference between the PBoC, the MoF and the NDRC, Beijing announced new tax cuts, fresh measures to stabilize auto consumption and an announcement that authorities are supportive of increasing issuance of local government “special bonds” to stimulate infrastructure spending were all made in a “stimulus” spasm.
  • Overnight Chinese Premier Li has called for more investments in infrastructure and services, while also voicing support for a “stepping-up” of targeted economic controls from authorities.

And, as discussed in this post and last night, the annual PBoC liquidity injection to offset the pre-Lunar New Year holiday-/pre-tax payment peak-/maturation of MLF funds- cash drain went full mental” last night, with the Chinese central bank injecting a record 560B Yuan ($84B USD) into the system using 7d reverse repo operations—the largest 1d cash injection in their history, and was followed by a not much smaller 380B Yuan injection today.

It is worth noting that this short-term liquidity injection adds to the larger “credit impulse” being re-engineered by Chinese authorities, which on the headline level came in as “better than consensus” estimates across new aggregate social financing & new loans.

Unfortunately for Chinese stock bulls, this week’s record liquidity injections have had no impact whatsoever on Chinese stocks, which were unchanged yesterday and are flat on Thursday, while S&P futures are fractionally lower, amid growing fears that the trade war storm is back on after the WSJ reported that  U.S. authorities are investigating Huawei for stealing trade secrets, while according to a separate report, Apple plans to cut back hiring for some divisions, and finally Singapore exports unexpectedly fell, a trifecta of news hitting the market’s three weakest points: trade, earnings and the slowing global economy.

The bigger issue is that if not even China can move the needle with short-term liquidity injections, and a long-term monetary intervention is out of the question for now due to China’s record debt, while fiscal stimulus takes months if not quarters to kick in, once the sugar rush from the current bear market rally is over, the hangover will be especially brutal.

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Judge Rules Investors Suing Musk Can Subpoena Banks, Grimes And Reporters To Preserve Records

It was just a few days ago that we reported on the latest installment of the Elon Musk and Azealia Banks feud, which now appears to be escalating. Banks’ fire for Musk was recently stoked by a motion filed by the Tesla CEO’s lawyers to prevent Banks, Musk’s ex-girlfriend Grimes, and several media organizations from being subpoenaed as part of a shareholder lawsuit against Musk.

Now, it looks like we are one step closer to getting a chance at seeing what was on the mind (and on the devices) of Banks, Grimes and some of the reporters who were involved with them directly after the CEO put out his now infamous “funding secured” tweet. Banks was a guest in Musk’s home around the time Musk sent out the Tweet, reportedly invited by Musk’s then girlfriend, Grimes.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco ordered on Tuesday that although Tesla and Musk themselves cannot be subpoenaed, Banks, Grimes and reporters involved with the situation immediately after it happened could be subpoenaed and asked to preserve records. Chen said “that asking for potentially relevant evidence to not be destroyed won’t impose any burdens on Tesla or Musk”. 

Business Insider also reported on Wednesday that a motion to serve subpoenas against Banks, Grimes, Business Insider, Gizmodo and the New York Times was granted.

Adam Apton, attorney for the Plaintiffs stated: “Ms. Boucher and Ms. Banks were in close contact with Mr. Musk before and after the tweet and are believed to be in possession of relevant evidence concerning Mr. Musk’s motives. Business Insider also appears to have relevant evidence in light of its relationship with Ms. Banks.”

Shareholder attorneys are trying to place Banks in Musk’s house during the fallout from Musk’s famous tweet. Banks had previously posted in depth about her time staying at Elon‘s home, claiming that while there, Grimes was comforting Musk about “being too stupid not to go on Twitter while on acid”. Banks claims she saw Musk “scrounging for investors” at the time of the incident. 

Curiously, the judge also said that “lead plaintiff’s claim that defendants have a practice of trying to silence critics is not well supported”. Perhaps he hasn’t heard of Montana Skeptic – or Martin Tripp.

Arguably, the possible results of any forthcoming subpoenas – as they sometimes do in lawsuits – may open up a new can of worms if any (or all) of the dirt Azealia Banks claims to have on Elon Musk turns out to not be fabricated.

Banks took to Instagram on last week writing “They are still slighting [sic] me like I don’t have plenty more dirt to spill on Elon. This is going to get extremely ugly…Elon will learn very soon who is more powerful of us two.”

The preservation of such material, from immediately after Musk put out his “funding secured” tweet may finally help answer the question of what was going on in Elon Musk’s head at the time of the incident. We can’t wait to see where this goes. 

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