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The Iranian funds play

Today is all about Iran, the Washington Post and many others are giving the world the information that the previous president misled congress. Yet the Washington Post phrases it as ‘Obama administration misled Congress on possible Iranian access to U.S. financial system‘, they also mention that it is a Republican investigation. There are two issues, right off the bat, even before you read the article, the question becomes, where were the FBI and the CIA in this?

So when we get the first lines with “The Obama administration went out of its way in early 2016 to help Iran recoup previously sanctioned oil revenue stranded in an overseas account after the nuclear deal went into effect and actively misled Congress regarding those efforts, according to the results of a nearly two-year Republican investigation released early Wednesday“, we need to realise that the setting is wrong from the very start.

Before I go there, let’s follow the trail of crumbs that we get offered. next there is “Iran wanted to convert the money into U.S. dollars and then euros, but top U.S. officials had repeatedly promised Congress that Iran would never gain access to America’s financial system“, which is followed by “the Obama administration secretly issued a license to let Iran sidestep U.S. sanctions for the brief moment required to convert the funds through an American bank, an investigation by Senate Republicans released Wednesday showed. The plan failed when two U.S. banks refused to participate” and finally we get: “the revelation is re-igniting the bitter debate over the nuclear deal and whether former President Barack Obama was too eager to grant concessions to Tehran“. The full story (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/obama-era-license-aimed-to-let-iran-convert-money-in-dollars/2018/06/06/60be6d36-6971-11e8-a335-c4503d041eaf_story.html) gives us a lot more, but initially, we get ‘The plan failed‘. So this was seemingly (according to a previous Obama official) about the Iranian money held overseas. The issue seems seen with “No one involved seems certain whether Iran has yet received all of its $5.7 billion“, yet as I see it, that does not seem to be the case. When you think this through, $5.7 billion amounts to 11.2 million barrels based on the average oil price, this amounts to funds equal to 26 hours of oil production in Saudi Arabia, 26 hours! Now we are not debating whether Iran is allowed access to the funds, the fact that we see that this much oil (or so little in Saudi Arabia), whilst in Iranian production it amounts to 4 days of oil production is a Joke. Oil still goes to Asia, so all this fanfare for 4 days of oil production? This is about something else entirely, or it is about a very different amount of money. I let you mull that part over, so when we look at the second article (also Washington Post), we see in the article called ‘Secret Obama-era permit let Iran convert funds to dollars’ where we are ‘treated’ to “Iran had been promised access to its long-frozen overseas reserves, including $5.7 billion stuck in an Omani bank“, which we knew to some extent, yet the full economic value is not given, which is also an issue, you see that stuff makes interest, so at that point who gets that money? Is it locked in the Iranian account, or was it the balancing act to the seesaw that is going up and down on €11 trillion in essential European and American debt guarantees? The second article has pretty much what the first one had, but we also see (slightly more clearly) “And when questioned by lawmakers about the possibility of granting Iran any kind of access to the U.S. financial system, Obama-era officials never volunteered that the specific license for Bank Muscat in Oman had been issued two months earlier. According to the report, Iran is believed to have found other ways to access its money, possibly by exchanging it in smaller quantities through another currency“, this now gives us the part (when going back to the first article: “Lew, according to documents reproduced in the report, had been given Treasury talking points explaining the Omani conundrum, he chose not to mention it in a House hearing in late March“, this reference to former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, where we wonder that if this is about the question, was the question correctly phrased, or perhaps the better setting is, was he breaking any laws not mentioning the ‘Omani Conundrum’?

I cannot state without the full text and even if we agree that there is an issue, we now get back to the very core of the matter. If it involves US Banks and when we reconsider ‘the plan failed when two U.S. banks refused to participate‘, two out of exactly how many banks? That part is also not revealed here. So now we get to the part where it becomes either the US treasury AND the FBI who seemingly did not act here, the Omani Conundrum implies that the CIA turf was trodden on and the communications (in several levels) give us that the NSA ignored it. So what is going on? Did anything actually happen? Because that question is becomes valid when we reconsider ‘the plan failed‘. If that is true, then why is the Washington Post, one of the most revered newspapers in the USA not giving the correct light on this? In addition, the outstanding questions that we get from the mere substance given becomes an issue when we see the words of President Trump “this disastrous deal gave this [Iranian] regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States,”. Yet how much money was actually released, through the deal and from 2015 onwards? None of that data is available through the articles. So what exactly is US congress playing with now, because this all looks like a really loud smokescreen, all emotion and no contributable facts on the matter. How many banks were part of it (and their names), which two banks refused (double plus points for them two) and in light of merely one $5.7 billion source we need to see the scope of the money, especially in light of the setting that Iran is even now shipping oil to Asia. Are those not valid questions? In all this, where were the FBI and CIA when this was going down and more importantly why is there no mention of their part in all this, or were they not part of any of it? That is equally an issue, because if there is evidence that they were in different states of activity and actionable requirements regarding Iran during the two presidencies, the people have an equal right to know, do they not? You see, in the larger scope that matters, because the Yemeni issue is covering two presidencies, so if (a very clear if) the CIA was less vigilant during the previous presidency, it might also explain a few things on how missiles are getting shipped from Iran to Yemen, if the manifest states 1013 barrels of oil for humanitarian aid, it might explain a little more than we bargained for. Now the last part was speculative and knowingly incorrect, yet the question remains valid. This was not some article from the enquirer, or the Canton Cherokee Tribune, it is the Washington Post. In many (global) cases that newspaper is seen as gospel right next to the Financial Times, so when two articles give us so many questions in all this, I need to wrap my head around the option that Martin Baron is either on vacation or perhaps down with the flu. The man who inspired Tom McCarthy to make Spotlight should have a better grasp on the entire Iranian fund issue and how it should be made visible in my Hummer opinion.

Because behind all this is not merely the oil, or the Iranian uranium enrichment plans. It in equal measure gives another light that we get from “The draft involved a general license, a blanket go-ahead that allows all transactions of a certain type, rather than a specific license like the one given to Oman’s Bank Muscat, which only covers specific transactions and institutions“, you see, if that is in play and when we remember the G30 bankers group, the one that got some limelight, for ONE DAY. After that all the media dropped the issues when the people were given the sight of Mario Draghi being a member of this insiders only club, a club that he had to give up and no one (except for me that is) followed up on that. All the media left it alone. So when we see that part from April 18th 2018, where Reuters and the Financial Times give us that he would remain a member, the ECB and others never acted on it and silently wait it to go away, now we see the Omani Conundrum issue and I have to wonder, as bankers will do trade with anyone, what licenses are out there that no one knows about, more important, whoever the owner of the funds are that they get to play with ahead of all other banks, with close to €3 trillion in extra printed money for the game of bonds, in all this, what else are we not seeing and as this optionally directly reflects on Iran’s and all the billions we are left unaware of, how is it that the Washington Post seems to not care (or rather stated, believingly unimportant issues that are therefor not investigated) are out there with two pages set to issues in a setting of ‘the plan failed‘ and ‘at the end of the day, nothing worked‘. Which makes me wonder if any transgression was committed and what it was all about. Time will tell whether we see more revelations tomorrow and more important if it leads to anything actionable, because that will be come the heart of the matter soon enough.

 

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United they grow

I spoke out in the last week in regards to the Florida shooting. I think I got my point across and I have no issue with people taking the opposite side in all this. By looking at all sides, I feel that I get a better feel for any situation when looking at multiple angles, so I was happy to take a look at what the Washington Post was bringing. It has been bringing several pieces and there is a trend, a trend that has not been there before and some will be sad, but I would be happy, even as it is in an opposite direction of the one I have.

You see, the students are taking a turn for the better and they are actually getting smart about doing things, the weird part is that this has never happened before in the way we see it now and that is always refreshing. It is not the emotional ‘NRA, please stop killing our children‘, which was too ludicrous for words. No, the Florida students are starting to become an actual political player in all this. So, some NRA supporting politicians (which is their choice and right) are definitely in need to up their game in the political arena and they will have to do it in a very visible way.

The first view is seen in ‘Florida high school students demand change to gun laws at boisterous rally‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/they-needed-to-see-it-fla-lawmakers-emotional-tour-of-shooting-site-sparks-bipartisan-talks-on-gun-limits/2018/02/21/a930a37c-16c9-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html). In Tallahassee thousands of students have rallied, now this is nothing new, students rally at many moments, they tend to keep the milestone rather low. Not this time though. This is actually a lot closer to the anti-Vietnam rallies that we saw in the 60’s. This is getting serious, which is always a good thing. The one thing is that the blame part towards the NRA is still wrong in my view. Don’t get me wrong, the NRA is huge so it makes sense that they are a target, but that is probably the only part that they need to change.

The quote “The proposals under consideration stop short of student demands for a ban on the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15-style gun that was used in the most recent shooting. Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles, new powers for police to confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous by the courts, and new measures to protect schools from mass shooters” gives two parts. The first is that the focus is on semiautomatic assault weapons. It makes sense because they were used and it is a start. Now personally as a shooter I never saw the appeal to work with such a gun. I was in my shooting days always about precision, that weapon does not offer this (to a limited degree only), for that same reason I see no reason to own an Uzi, apart from when I was serving. So going after a target board, or a duck or a fox with an AR-15 or Uzi never ever made sense to me. The issue is not the weapons; it is that the NRA and its members are afraid, not because it is those weapons, but that it is merely the first step. The fact that no harmony can be found with the two very opposing forces is the danger that nothing will ever be done. One of the video commenters brings up a good point. Apart from bringing up the Australian legislation changes after the 1999 shooting, the issue that an example was made that a 20 year old person bought an AR-15 with an expired ID. That is the part that is really worrying and it should worry the NRA too and in that part they should actually unite with the shops, as well as the students to find a resolution there. You see the first part we see is “Instead, lawmakers have focused on new waiting period and age restrictions for buyers of semiautomatic rifles“, yet the second part that was ignored by many is: “a 20 year old bought an AR-15 with an expired ID“, so this part needs even more issues. The NRA could help in lowering pressures. The fact that a shop did not take proper actions for the sale of an automatic weapon should be examined. When we see that the shopkeeper would lose their license for life by selling to a person with an expired ID, by knowingly selling to a person with a false ID and by not lodging the right papers, the shops would higher the threshold of selling weapons in the first place, which is not the worst idea. If I go into a shop buying a Remington Model 700, or SVD Dragunov 7.62 Sniper Rifle, I would expect it come with a certain amount of actions. Let’s be clear, these are $1500-$3500 rifles, they will optionally end lives (in my case a Bambi or two), I would expect having to show my valid non expired fire arms license, proper valid identification (driver license or passport) and an ID that confirms my looks (photo) and my current address. If I need that, to get $300 credit on a TV or Chrome book, why not a rifle? I’ll tell you something more; the actual shooters either recreational or competitive would have no issue with any of that. They have children too (many of them at least), they want their kids to be safe.

Yet the video at a later stage shows issues with the way it is presented. They made the claim that only 1% of all shootings was done by people with Mental health problems and I do not believe to be accurate, in addition, when ‘shootings‘ are mentioned, there is a lot of data missing, which remains the issue and remains the cornerstone of the opposing NRA, and in all honesty, as a data analyst, it gets to me too. The proper population (people doing that deed) is too often not known. For example, how many of all the shootings were done by convicted felons back on the street, or shootings because of crimes in progress? Because convicted felons are the perpetrator of a shooting with an illegal firearm. When you are a convicted felon you cannot have a firearm, ever! This is for what I am almost 99% certain changes that statistic as shown in the Washington Post video completely, so we get misrepresentation.

This is what makes the gun control laws fall over. They do give an excellent example on the 10 year ban that had been in place and this is a positive part, because that shows the drop of events and the resurgence of fatalities after the ban was lifted and that is an important part. So could that have been an option to work with? If properly addressed yes, but doing so would require other steps to be taken and if that is done with the assistance of the NRA it would become a much better solution, one that sticks, one that sticks long term.

The second article ‘Students take charge of gun-safety movement with some help from existing groups‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/students-take-charge-of-gun-safety-movement-with-some-help-from-existing-groups/2018/02/20/eeeb8c58-166d-11e8-92c9-376b4fe57ff7_story.html) gives us “More than 250 students braved cold rain the next morning and marched 1½ miles, giving speeches using a megaphone borrowed from Women’s March organizers“, as well as “new momentum across the country to enact firearms restrictions. And the grass-roots campaigns that have sprung up in high school hallways among angry and tearful teenagers are now attracting attention from national groups demoralized after a string of shootings prompted no political response“. It is the second part that is actually more important. When we see ‘attracting attention from national groups demoralized after a string of shootings prompted no political response‘, you see, these grass-roots campaigns were always relying on emotions, always stating emotional truths, yet they were bringing factual falsehoods as I saw it. This is not getting anyone anywhere. These students are not raving, they are asking questions and they are asking very good questions and the politicians in their way cannot trivialise good quality questions, they now have to deal with the issue, they can no longer trivialise the issue and put aside as the grass-roots people allowed them to do. There is a re-invigoration and that is a good thing. As a former shooter, I have no issue with that, or with the need to be serious about owning a gun or rifle. This is seen in “Anti-gun groups are going out of their way to claim distance from the student activists while praising their efforts“, they are seeing that these students are making headway in the way the anti-gun groups have never been able to get. With: “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is starting to talk to students about rallies planned for March and expects to set aside money to help students who can’t afford to travel to the events“, you see, we now have the setting of a rally, that could rival the Anti-Vietnam rallies we saw on TV in the 60’s. Hundreds of busses driving thousands of people to Washington DC, and it’s only February now; so there is every chance that this summer in Washington will be one of the most enterprising and exhilarating summer that Washington has seen for decades. Even as a pro-gun person, I hope that they pull it off. I truly do believe that the business is way overdue for a massive overhaul and in that respect there are many gun shops that are responsible, but there is wildfire too. You see, guns are still a business and the NRA is about being responsible on one side and on being there for the arms business on the other side. When we look at the NRA site, we see in the history of it: “Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church“, the second that matters is: “Due to the overwhelming growth of NRA’s shooting programs, a new range was needed. Gen. Ammon B. Crichfield, adjutant general of Ohio, had begun construction of a new shooting facility on the shores of Lake Erie, 45 miles east of Toledo, Ohio. Camp Perry became the home of the annual National Matches, which have been the benchmark for excellence in marksmanship ever since. With nearly 6,000 people competing annually in pistol, smallbore and high-power events, the National Matches are one of the biggest sporting events held in the country today“, this shown the NRA in its origin, the forward momentum of quality use of firearms, not any illegal act in any way.

There is one part that requires illumination, yet the bulk of ALL will remain silent on it. The best part we can find is the ATF that reported two parts, the first is that more than 5 million firearms were imported into the USA, 20% from Austria (most likely due to Glock). The total import represents 30% of all weapon sales, giving us that 70% are American firearms. We cannot get a clear revenue picture because most media did not seem to take the effort to find out, but the ATF gave us that $62 million in taxation was collected, making this optionally a billion dollar plus market and that is merely the legal sales part. This was in 2016, and we know that 2017 will have much higher revenues. Now an additional side is that one source (at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/2017-is-second-biggest-year-for-gun-sales-ever-might-top-2016/article/2627883) gave that a survey gave the information that 67% of the buyers got one for home protection. It makes sense, if they all did it for the sport; the US would have had a lot more Olympic gold medals in the shooting category. So when we consider this part, we see that the NRA (even seen on their website www.nra.org) has a ‘AFFILIATED CLUBS, RANGES AND BUSINESSES‘ category, in a billion dollar business industry, in a time when economic issues are the highest priority in America, that side would not want any hindrance on revenue, making legislation the one part that gives options and safety to the people.

In this Deutsche Welle (at http://www.dw.com/en/8-facts-about-gun-control-in-the-us/a-40816418) gave us a header that should be important to look at. With “how one loophole undermines gun control” we see the following: “According to the ATF, anyone can sell a gun without an FFL from their home, online, at a flea market or at a gun show as long as he or she is not conducting the sale as part of regular business activity“, this is an issue when we realise that guns are at times like cars. They get used and many have a short term ‘dedicated‘ feel for their rifle (unlike many hunters), so when we consider: “GLOCK is set to release new features on some existing models later this year“, and we realise that security guards and many individuals tend to ‘want’ the latest model, just like their car and mobile phone, we get a screwed statistic and in that a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon. What I find puzzling is that the ATF could have done something about this issue years ago, yet both Democrat and Republican houses do not seem to have been active and more important media active in stopping this gap. It is important because from that point, any ‘decent 1st gen buyer’ ends up selling their gun to optional or convicted criminals. Those groups tend to be very willing to buy a used gun at 90 cents to the dollar (and avoid checks) which makes the seller very happy that he/she got a good deal on a second hand weapon, yet it makes for an indecently less secure America. And this has not been on any of the American articles I saw, merely a German one. So is this because the Germans are a lot cleverer than Americans, or is the media actually part of the problem here? I let you decide, but when we consider Fox News Insider talking to gun rights activist Emily Miller who states: “She argued it’s a purely political move because the administration knows that raising the minimum age for purchasing one specific weapon — which kills about 40 people per year in the U.S. — will not do anything to change the crime statistics in America“, which is absolutely true, yet neither Fox News, or Emily Miller is raising the ATF part that Deutsche Welle is raising (at http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/21/white-house-criticized-jaw-dropping-statement-raising-minimum-age-buy-ar-15s), so was this merely a pro-gun talk from both sides? So as we agree with Emily Miller with: “like Texas church shooter Devin Patrick Kelley — should have been red-flagged during background checks“, yet both him and Nikolas Cruz could have still acquired a gun through home sales, all ‘perfectly’ legal and no background checks, so why is it that we do not see a larger exposition to the ATF loophole? Even as a pro-gun person, I am appalled that a loophole this large exists and it seems that the media in America remains unaware (optionally is intentionally being kept in the dark) of such a weakness. This one time that I agree with Rush Limbaugh as he states “Bashing the NRA Isn’t Going to Do It” (I am still in shock I agreed on anything with him), I feel uncertain that concealed weapons will do it as proposed by a few people. Now I agree that having guns for protection in schools is almost the one remaining point. Yet, who should be there?
Should there be more security? Actual trained armed professional protecting students? I am not in favour of arming teachers as they have never been properly trained, and even if we laugh at Betty White holding a .357 magnum and we know that she is the one lady we would not want to piss off, even when she is unarmed. I personally do not see that such pressure should be with a teacher as that person will want to talk down the optional shooter. So in the end, their hesitation will give the shooter another weapon and optionally more victims. In addition, the stress levels handed to teachers would be disastrous to schools and education.

In all this the ATF loophole is still not shown anywhere, so I will let you decide on how this is to be addressed. We can equally argue that the true professionals (like the NRA) have not raised the issue either, that might be the most damning part in the NRA house and one that requires almost immediate debate in the American households. It also gives rise that those selling their weapon second hand should be given an option. Perhaps it is a new market, a growing market where the businesses in selling arms will have a 2nd hands collection, perhaps for those who want to dip their toe in the water of becoming an owner of a firearm. It would stop unchecked arms falling into the hands of whoever sells them to whoever has the cash to buy that second-hand fire arm. Is that not a firm first step in lowering the chance of the wrong person ending up with a firearm? It would be merely a first step, but it is one that could actually make a difference.

 

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Batches of three days

After a Law conference of three days and a case of the flu, it is time to get back into the saddle. For the speculative people amongst you, I needed 8 boxes of tissues, so if you invested in Kleenex, their forecast is very expected to be up, so you are all good! There are a few things to deal with, but let’s get into the deep end, with ‘Trump cabinet appointments will ‘undo decades of progress’, rights activists say‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/18/trump-cabinet-appointments-sessions-pompeo-flynn). Yes, from their point of view that might be, but you do not get to cry wolf over Syria, whilst leaving a pussy to deal with the situation. This is now a Republican administration and as such, there will be a change of hearts, minds and a few tactical directions. The first one to look at, director Pompeo is an interesting choice. He has earned his stripes in several events. A thorn in Clinton’s Benghazi disaster and a member of the Tea Party. However, this is not same Jasmine flavoured variety, this member from Kansas is more like gunpowder tea. An acquired taste that is likely to turn a few stomachs in Iran. As I see it, one of the most likely to receive a high Israeli award for keeping them safe from Iran’s bile as some would quote it. My issue has always been no matter how liberal this elected official is, we have seen that the next elections could bring another Ahmadinejad, not something anyone is waiting for.

But let’s get back to nominated director Mikey. The one part that was part of the Wichita Eagle (link lost) was that Mike Pompeo predicted a new energy bill would cost millions of jobs and make the United States a net food importer. There are two sides to all this, the first the energy part. There are too many question marks (apart of the change to make it realistic), the net food importer is another matter, and it also drives at the core of national security. You see, NAFTA, opened up a whole range of options in regards to the trade with Mexico and overall there is a benefit, yet when we realise that this opens up regional security options (as stated by s Col. Michael Dziedzic, USAF), we see that in light of multiple sources stating that the Mexican Cartels have been assisting ISIS members to get into the US to explore targets. The fact that ISIS sleeper cells are reported by a few sources to be close to the US border gives cause to consider certain new avenues for the CIA to consider. That is, if they aren’t already doing that, because we can all agree that yours truly isn’t being kept up to date by Langley for reasons that need no clarification.

The Wichita Eagle also gives us: “Pompeo ended up co-authoring a separate report from the main committee investigation, which accused former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, of downplaying the attack to boost President Obama’s re-election efforts” (at http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article115756373.html), which is only half the truth I reckon. I mentioned earlier that the intensely wrong acts by people in the US Department of State in 2012 was centre in all this and the events since have only shown that they were utterly negligent in several ways (not only the office of State Secretary Clinton), the downplay has been beyond that office and as such left too many concerns, especially when you do not react strongly to such an event, should you be considered President of the United States?

I reckon that once confirmed, Mike Pompeo might be one of the strongest members of the Trump government and could possibly be one of the better CIA directors of these last three administrations, which is speculative, and time will tell. Jeff Sessions is another interesting pick, although the President elect could have taken several extreme options, which in light of following Eric Holder, the only cabinet member in history to be held in contempt of congress (there will always be a first one), the President Elect had a few options, yet those were basically taken off the table when Loretta Elizabeth Lynch, the 83rd United States Attorney General decided

On June 27, 2016, Lynch and former President Bill Clinton met privately aboard Lynch’s Justice Department jet which was parked on the tarmac in Phoenix. ABC15 Phoenix reporter Christopher Sign broke the story on June 29, citing unnamed sources. (at http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/central-phoenix/loretta-lynch-bill-clinton-meet-privately-in-phoenix), in light of Benghazi, when we see the quote ““Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix,” said Lynch Tuesday afternoon while speaking at the Phoenix Police Department“, now we can agree that if you have 35 things to do before lunch, having a social meeting on the tarmac of an airport in a jet is rather odd, to say the least. It is true that it might not have been about Benghazi, it might have been about future careers, yet the event on the tarmac and not in some closed of 1st class business lounge implies that this was about deniability, not something that is required when Golf is on the menu of conversation. The image of Benghazi remains, whether just of unjust, when you decide to do a Deep Throat (read: Woodward, Bernstein & Washington Post), you set yourself up for all kinds of gossip.

So when we see Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a former senator of Alabama, we have to wonder what America will get this time. The media is already all over it. The Guardian stated: “The hawkish trio have made inflammatory statements about race relations, immigration, Islam and the use of torture, and signal a provocative shift of the national security apparatus to the right“, the subsequent quote is “For liberals they appeared to confirm some of their darkest fears about the incoming Trump administration“. To them I have this message. ‘Over a period of 8 years, this administration has done absolutely nothing to reign in corporate accountability, the financial sector can go its own sweet way and this American administration turned 180 degrees around on corporate taxation. Their acts, together with the IMF is why Brexit is now a fact and is also still the driving force for Frexit. Those who are now fear mongering in the direction of France better realise that a second bad estimate (like Brexit) will be regarded as clear evidence to dismiss their services’. Columbia Threadneedle was quoted in Reuters on what a catastrophe it will be. Yet, who would it be disastrous for? The quote “Mark Burgess, chief investment officer for the firm in EMEA, said that unlike the positive or even ambiguous market reaction to the British vote on an EU exit or Donald Trump’s win last week, a win for avowedly anti-euro, anti-EU party in one of the many euro zone elections next year could spell disaster for the still-undercapitalized European banks“, the banks have had more than enough time to get their affairs in order. We have seen bail-out after bail-out and we have been all subject to a large loss of quality of life, whilst the financial sector played and gambled living on incomes that most people have never seen, not even before the financial crash. This has driven anti-European Union sentiments. The sentiment of all talk and no achievements, no forward momentum for anyone but the large corporations. This is what the Democratic Party left America with, no real future and a 20 trillion dollar debt. It is now up to the Republican Party whether they can return the USA towards a status of less debt and a healthy economy. This will take a years to achieve, but no matter how far it is taken, America seems to realise that the party is over, they only have themselves to blame on how they got to this point.

So how did I get from these three to Frexit and Greed? Let’s face it, the President-elect is part of a system of greed and Frexit is pretty much next on the agenda. All those ignorant economists and media that have been ignoring these events for over two years, all with comments on how this was never a reality now have faced Brexit and after that, they played anti-republican for 8 years, they now see their options cancelled and they are left in the dark regarding events in the White House. How many wrong predictions does it take for the media to realise that reporting is not the same as speculative empowering?

As the world is now setting the stage of how the first three picks of the President-elect is to be regarded. We need to realise that the world is a lot larger than America and our choices are indeed diminishing when we side with only one group of governing people. For those who seem to be focused on how bad this upcoming president will be, perhaps we need to take a look at a little place like Syria and how this current administration has not achieved anything at all. With bombings increasing and the Non-Assad supporting Syrian population getting closer to zero, we need to ask questions that no one is asking and even less are willing to answer.

The last part in all this is the IMF, as mentioned before. When we see the Australian, we get: “The IMF has given powerful backing to Labor’s call for a crackdown on negative gearing saying Australia’s tax rules are encouraging people to take on too much debt to invest in the housing market, pushing prices higher. The IMF’s annual mission to Australia has also criticised the Turnbull government’s May budget, saying it is trying to narrow the budget deficit too rapidly and risks hurting the economy.” Can anyone please explain what the fuck (pardon my French), the IMF is doing telling a sovereign nation on how we prefer not to be in deep debt and that is not OK with them? Consider in what state the debt driven economies are when it can be endangered by one economy removing its deficit. Consider on how many papers have given proper attention to debt driven economy (read: meaning almost none have done so, apart from those ridiculing the issue), this in light of the IMF quote in the Australian “The IMF says the government has been right to allow deficits to blow out over the past few years, saying the shortfalls have been mainly due to weak revenue, not excessive spending. The fund suggests that if the government spend more on infrastructure, it would generate enough economic growth that there should be little impact on the ratio of debt to GDP“, we need to wonder on how we were all kept in the dark when the media at large ignored calls for clarity, when we were (as I see it) intentionally misinformed, now we see that ‘right to allow deficits to blow out‘, which was never OK, even as Australia is getting out of that dark valley, other nations are still fighting their own battles. This is one of the driving sides to France, who have been pushed into a $2.4 trillion dollar debt. Perhaps President Hollande will have the same excuse that it was ‘mainly due to weak revenue‘, so the French people get to live with consequence of the IMF driven ‘equalising’ of debt. Now this last part is purely speculative from my side, yet how wrong is my train of thought? And as other nations realise that these debts are orchestration and the governments refused to tighten belts, spend irresponsibly regarding the need of other nations, keeping debt at a maximum. How do you think people will react when they realise that irresponsible behaviour will keep their quality of life down, perhaps for more than one lifetime? Are you still wondering whether Frexit will happen, or are you realising that Frexit not happening is no longer being considered?

Now, events differ from nation per nation, yet there is clear evidence that nations have been overspending for well over a decade and none had the idea to tighten the belt (except Germany in 2009). This is how Europeans feel and all this to enable big business, whilst they get more and more deals offered. This is the setting in which President elect Trump finds himself. The three nominations are not part of any of it, but they give rise to the question, who will be the elected officials in the departments, of State, Interior and Commerce, these three subsequent nominations will be at the core of what will happen next. No matter what the pressures are for the upcoming American Administration, they will be at the core of events that will take centre stage in 2017 and 2018. So many eyes, not just in America will be on those nominated for these three fields. We will have more and more questions, we only need to await the first results.

In that light we get to look at some of the issues I predicted two years ago. Last Saturday I got the Quote “European leaders have come to a 27-nation consensus that a “hard Brexit” is likely to be the only way to see off future populist insurgencies, which could lead to the break-up of the European Union” (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/19/europes-leaders-force-uk-hard-brexit-farage-le-pen). The subtitle gives us even more ‘Fears grow about impact of populist surge as Nigel Farage predicts Marine Le Pen could win French presidential election’. I got there a year earlier, even now there is still some doubt as Sarkozy is making an about turn move on French National issues, yet Marine Le Pen remains a contender. Slightly stronger than before Trump got elected and there is where the issue for Europe now resides. Their indecisiveness in certain matters is driving people towards nationalism, with President elect Trump now approaching office, those issues will polarise and the shift will move stronger towards the right. The additional quote: “The latest intervention by Farage will only serve to fuel fears in Europe that anti-EU movements have acquired a dangerous momentum in countries such as France and the Netherlands, following the precedent set by the Brexit vote”, is one that is not correct as I see it. You see, Brexit was always a risk, yet those working behind the screens were so intent on the Status Quo that they forgot sight of the effects of the actions that they caused, Greece being the first and strongest elements. By trying to hang onto a non-realistic 300 billion, they now stand to lose 14.5 trillion, you tell me how stupid this was. The Netherlands is not the strongest influencer and at present, the Dutch PVV might be strong, twice as many seats as the number three (CDA) and leading by merely 4 seats on number 2, the reality is that this party became the largest fast and as they were only regarded as something not to be taken serious, the size they are now does not warrant such consideration, they are the largest player. Yet in all this, the issue is that 150 seats are there and a majority requires 76 seats, which cannot be done without some coalition that will require the PVV. In this the PVV is the only clear anti-EU party. The example as given by me in ‘A noun of non-profit’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/15/a-noun-of-non-profit/), where I state: “Consider a large (really large) barge, that barge was kept in place by 4 strong anchors. UK, France, Germany and Italy. Yes, we to do know that most are in shabby state, yet, overall these nations are large, stable and democratic (that matters). They keep the Barge EU afloat in a stable place on the whimsy stormy sea called economy. If the UK walks away, then we have a new situation. None of the other nations have the size and strength of the anchor required and the EU now becomes a less stable place where the barge shifts. This will have consequences, but at present, the actual damage cannot be easily foreseen”, What I predicted on May 15th 2013 is not just coming to pass, finally others are admitting that this is the future, a future they kept you in the dark about, consider that when you realise that this had been known for some time. They played their ignorance and fear mongering game and those who have done so are now considering what one more bad prediction will bring them. I still believe that it required the second of four to truly collapse the EU barge, but that reality is now getting closer, with the Republican push we see, the chances for Marine Le Pen getting elected as President is now an actual reality. I knew that there was a chance just within France and as President Hollande failed again and again her chances increased, now with the Republican view of nationalism, the French view only enhances that view for themselves, enabling Marine Le Pen as a possible President of France. This links to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his conservative views. He plucks the same chords on the musical loom of government as Marine Le Pen will when it comes to immigration. In that regard, the choices that still have to come will make even stronger impressions for European nations as they unite or dissent from that view. You see, we still need to realise that America is 20 trillion down, which implies that if Europe decides to exit hard for the second European nation (France most likely), the economic view for America changes, especially as it has been a net importer of food and a few other materials. It would need to strengthen ties with Canada and Mexico by a lot, allowing those two to get a better overall deal, increasing the cost of living for Americans. At this point, we see that Wilbur Ross is now the strong favourite for the Commerce position. It is CNN that gives us a quote, which seen in a different light implies the issue I had for a long time. The quotes “Pritzker strongly supported free trade, traveling to 38 countries over her tenure. She advocated clean energy partnerships and the Trans Pacific Partnership deal” as well as ““Free trade is like free lunch: There is no free lunch,” Ross told Lou Dobbs of Fox Business in August. “Somebody wins and somebody loses. And unfortunately, we’ve been losing with these stupid agreements that we’ve made””, Here we see that someone visited 38 countries, which sounds like an office paid world tour and we know that is NOT the case, but all that travelling must be nice. Following that, we see Wilbur Ross stating that there is no such thing as a free lunch. That we have all learned, many of us learned it the hard way and the TPP was a bad deal from the get go for several nations. These quoted came from CNN (at http://money.cnn.com/2016/11/20/investing/wilbur-ross-donald-trump/index.html) and are at the core of changes for commerce, which will reverberate in both the English and French minds as well. So 4 of the 6 main nominees are also powering the European Exit. I believe that one of them is in for quite the challenge. Michael Flynn is a veteran on several levels, as a retired General he knows the military and as former director of the DIA he knows the intelligence whip. Yet, the premise he faced will start to change dramatically in 2019, as such the America he will be the National Security Advisor for will have new challenges, some none have seen before. Time will tell how realistic those challenges are, yet we are already faced with the limitations of dealing with 4G and the next wave is now less than 365 days away. The funds needed for cyber security and cyber development were never forthcoming, giving nations at large new challenges and totally new issues in Criminal law. All fields untouched to the degree they needed to be. Another reason why W. Ross and J.B. Sessions need to sit down sooner rather than later. In that regard, the UK needs to clearly revisit some of the protocols that never worked in the first place.

There are many changes coming towards us, some will drive others, some will just be met with complaints, and others will just drive the Democratic Party insane, which will be used to the entertainment of the media at large.

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Tusks!

It is 01:55; I am just waking up after receiving a message on Facebook. It does not matter who it was from, it is about the message. The initial message was about doing something to save the elephants. They are expected to go extinct in 2030. This is not a good thing, yet when I looked at the message and then took another look, certain issues came up in my mind.

The article does all the marketing we would expect. Elements of corruption in Thailand from officials trying to keep it all quiet and so on. We have all heard it before! The picture is interesting as it show an African elephant with three Africans in it, so there is already that too.

The next feed I see (not send to me) is some article on how the Republican Party is trying to block new restrictions on the ivory trade, so what is ACTUALLY going on?

First things first! I am all for keeping all elephants (African and Indian) safe. This is not going to happen, for the very simple reason that until someone changes the approach on poachers, this will continue. In my view, detecting and hunting and trying to arrest these people will NEVER work! I see these poachers as ‘terrorists’ against life and against the natural balance. They were not alone. In the days of Queen Victoria, the rich and those who imagined themselves ‘mighty’, were all about shooting ‘big game’ in Africa. Opposing the entire pragmatic view on life, not unlike the white settlers in the USA with their buffalo, for greed and ego and so on, massive amounts of lives were needlessly lost. Those acts unhinged the balance that African and Asian tribes had with their natural environment. Now, some are driven to poaching, and I cannot condone it because this is all done for money, not for meat or survival. In my mind the only solution is to set out hunting parties and hunt down these poachers down with deadly efficiency, no arrests!
The hunters become the hunted and as such, the elephant might end up having a slightly longer life, yet for generations to come the elephants remain in danger of extinction.

Why this ‘extreme’ view?

It is pure pragmatism; shouting and sanctions will not work. If you think that this does, then take a look at Cuba, it is still there after 5 decades of ‘sanctions’, the sanctions are not working and if the calculations that some are publishing are correct, it means that he elephant will be extinct long before any form of sanction became successful, making it a useless strategy.

Now we get to the juicy part. The Republican Party, what is exactly going on? This is the part I do not know and for the most, I could not find anything from a substantial source. There was an article on WKRN, which is a Tennessee station, but that is about it. The summon here is that the Republican representative is stating that it is harder to differentiate between legal and illegal items, and these restrictions would make the owner of legal ivory items, as is seen in old piano’s, recycled ivory in the handles of guns and knives as well as the owners of many violin bows (which apparently also contains ivory), overnight criminals, their items, if need be, confiscated and their value reduced to zero. They have a point here, the biggest issue as I see it would be to keep people with legitimate items out of harm’s way, which makes the restrictions longwinded and in the end useless. So, there is a point, the part that I found interesting is that the article by the WWF, stating that it is the last chance for Thailand to tackle the illegal Ivory trade. I found it interesting that the newspapers were not all over the internet with this, then in the article I read is that the deadline is March 2015, so why was I woken up with this?

The answer is that this seems a long time to stem illegal trade, more than enough for some people to truly fill their pockets, which is what it seems to me. The article from the WWF, was however quite illuminating. The issue is not the legal domestic trade, which is an issue as Thailand depends on this commerce, it is that African Elephant ivory is smuggled into Thailand and these tusks become ‘legally valid’ commercial items and as such, according to figures 20,000 elephants, or better stated their 40,000 tusks make it to the souvenir shops, in many small ways.

So this is all about African tusks. I think it would have been nice to see such articles more prominently in several newspapers, but in the end, some X-Factor story will probably take centre page in such times.

What to do?

The important part is visibility and justice of exposure. Let’s not forget that there is an issue with the WWF part on the entire ivory issue. The WWF wants to put pressure somewhere, which is fair enough, but why Thailand? It seems to have a ‘valid’ (from what I read) ivory trade. The issue should not be with Thailand, but with the African source. The fact that hundreds, if not thousands of tusks per trip make it to Thailand should be the issue. We can clearly assume that it involves something massively larger than a dinghy, which means a corrupt crew for sure, and likely a corrupt captain too. So, while it is taking days to cross the Indian Ocean, perhaps getting better Intel on who and how should be the issue, if the numbers of 20,000 elephants a year is true, then this would take a massive amount of space, or many trips (a very regular schedule). Now, it is not that clean cut (or clear cut for that matter), so there are more sides and let’s not forget, with this amount of ivory, someone’s pockets are getting lined with $$$$.

In the end, we all agree, something will have to be done. The question remains, with these levels of extinction, how far are we willing to go? If the survival of the elephant is in such a critical stage, then sanctions will no longer be enough. There is also no question that it takes someone smarter than me (and someone who is better at hunting poachers then me) to solve the issue. Whoever gets the job, we should consider how extreme the handed mandate needs to become, because 15 years is not a long time. It implies that one of the most impressive land creatures on this earth will become extinct during the watch of the current generation.

 

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Biased Journalism on USA shutdown?

We have seen reports of all forms. We see information management in what I have called bad news managing. This has happened in the Netherlands. Is it Biased Journalism, or is this journalism based upon the information handed to them?

The second part would be fair enough, because the journalist is dealing with what is handed to them. However, when we look at the canons of Journalism and their codes of ethics some questions come to the front of the lines. Truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity are three of the elements and there are more than just these three. I am not willing to attack truthfulness. It is in my view an empty gesture to do so. This is all based upon information that the Journalist gets handed. Accuracy might be an issue. They might have passed on the exact information they were handed, yet how accurate was it? Was the information tested in any way? Then there is objectivity. I am not sure if that is a valid point. Let us face the fact that objectivity is in the eyes of the beholder and as such there is more than one viewpoint. In all honesty, any article would need to be viewed from more than one side and the news as we usually watch it on TV is actually not that equipped to do just that. Newspapers are!

I have illustrated in earlier blogs that some of the mentioned information seemed inaccurate to me. This happens, I do not claim to be correct, but it seemed too upbeat to me and as such I questioned it. I was not alone, but not too many public contributors were, and in more than one occasion my view was the correct one. So when I saw the NOS news today, more questions rose in my mind and it is time to ask a few more and some other questions.

The most questionable part was the news on the US Shutdown as that danger approaches within the next 24 hours. What I saw as an issue was the way some parties were illustrated. First of all, it is important to know that I am leaning strongly towards the republican view. Not stating so beforehand would be wrong in my mind. The issue I had was with the NOS newscast of the US shutdown. It was not incorrect, but there were issues that have not been mentioned, which were at the centre of it all.

I see this all as the republican move to stop the abundant of irresponsible spending by a democratic party run government. Yes, we know that this is not about the fiscal cliff this time, but the government budget is directly linked to this. The democrats have taken the debt out of acceptable proportions.

Let us not forget that the US has a 17,000 BILLION dollar debt, this comes down to 340 billion dollars per state. In addition, if we look back to the Californian change in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, former governor Gray Davis was confronted with a recall because the state shortfall was only 10% of the 340 Billion. That was directly due to the dot com boom collapse and a large group of companies were suddenly in a position no longer able to pay taxation, which meant that California, one of the richest states was suddenly without cash. Now the simple logic that follows, if one of the richest states cannot pay 10% of the outstanding debt, how can the others pay at all? This is the big cake that gets layers after layer of icing. With each layer it is presented as something that can be dealt with, but both democrat and republicans have no real solution. This is at the core of it all. So it is not just about the government budget, it is the issue that the budget is not realistic and that it is only adding to the debt. So when I see the part where Democrat Nita Lowey is talking about a compromise, then I end up splitting my guts with laughter. For two administrations there has not been any decent level of compromise. The republican view is that spending MUST go down by a lot. We could view the state by state comparison, especially against the Netherlands. Most states are larger than the Netherlands and none have a realistic approach to dealing with a 340 billion dollar debt. Now compare that to the Netherlands having to cut 6 billion and the view is almost complete. We all have to tighten the belt and within the USA this would last for no less three generations. The view I am proclaiming to be correct does have issues as well. It is however the view I behold. After Detroit, which already has gone bust, almost two dozen cities are facing the same problem in the US. Fresno, Compton and Oakland are three of them and they are all in California (one of the three rich states). If we would take a deeper look at the 50+ largest cities, then we see healthcare and retirement cost issues that make Detroit look like a joke. It is the healthcare part that is at the centre of it all. The Republicans are utterly convinced that Obama Care will not solve it at all. It will just add to the massive debts. What has been propagated as a solution to all, is in the realistic view of many a non-solution that will push forward debts and invoices that cannot be paid for in the end and as such people will face even more hardship down the line. Not to mention the fact that healthcare professionals might end up seeking greener pastures outside of the US.

The budget shortage is not new. This has been going on since 1995 (at least), however, in those days former president Clinton had two advantages. The first was that the government coffers had a cash surplus. Second was that the dot com boom was going nice. Consultancy firms were going strong, the incomes were really nice and consultants were making loads of cash by selling concepts. So, people were buying ideas and not an existing product. No matter what the reason was (like 9/11), it was the spending that the Bush administration started which gave the treasury such a negative jolt. It was nowhere near the spending that President Obama did, but he did not start this, so let us be fair about it. Against the current administration it must be stated that the no true legislation has been passed stopping Wall street the way it should, so there is no evidence that this will not happen again. And we are all aware that the economic thrashing started all with the Wall Street Clam bake ‘lets go hedge funds’ that was a huge part of the predicament we have now.

The question from the NOS ‘Is there no talking with the Republicans?‘ is not the only question and the one sided part of it is not correct. The linked question is ‘Can US overspending not be contained?‘ is the side the Republicans are dealing with. That part does not seem to be addressed by anyone. We see that side when we look at all the other places, including the Netherlands, the UK and Australia. They all have their own budget ghosts to deal with.

The Dutch government has its own cross to bear trying to find solutions to a 6 billion cutting spree. Too much talking and for too long no results. If we take all these sides (in all the talked about nations), then perhaps another method should be found. The first part is to cut ALL political incomes by 20% and no overtime payment at all (not sure if they get that to begin with). That should make a decent cut in the cost to the national treasuries and might make for quicker decisions. In my view I see no solution in any way to lower taxation. I think that this approach is an unrealistic one. What might be a solution is to change it all to a two tiered tax system with only 27% and 39%. That might work, but only if ALL tax deductibility’s are removed. This has two benefits. The system becomes simpler, and over all, with no deductibility’s left it becomes a clear approach. In addition there is a need to make all commerce taxable at the point of sale (the location of the purchaser’s keyboard). This must be where the buyer physically is. This is to take a stance on that Google, Amazon, et al approach, where on-line companies seem to be selling it all from an empty office in Ireland at taxation levels which should be regarded as a joke.

The system has to be changed. We have heard so many voices that a solution can be made, whilst ZERO results have been achieved for close to a decade. When we see administrations of entire cities go bust, it is time to just end whining about a solution that remains no more than a concept.

By the way, when we look at spending it all, what has been the end result? The fact that the US, the bulk of the Commonwealth and the Netherlands are spending way too much (compared to what is coming in though taxation) is out of proportions. That is why the republicans are putting their foot down and so far there is no evidence that they are holding the wrong position.

What is the right position? That is the question and I do not know whether the Republican position will be the correct one either. Yet, staying with the Democratic view whilst we have almost a decade of evidence that it is not working seems to be a flawed point of view. That view is reinforced by the Heritage foundation where it was quoted “While federal revenues are recovering from the recent recession, spending is growing sharply, resulting in four consecutive years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion.

So the US government has been spending more than a trillion more then it received. Consider that in 2011 the total revenue was set at 2.3 trillion, spending 43% more then you get each year is not a good idea. Consider that the recession is not done by a long-shot; overspending 40% annually will have long term consequences.

If we accept that a government is not a profit based organisation then we could consider that a government would collect taxation at 105%-110% of what it needs. When you spend money and then only collect 71% you are going to need guarantees that things will go wrong. So when I stated that it will take 3 generations to get rid of the debt I was not kidding. In addition, the 17 trillion was just the national debt. The total debt is set at 60 trillion (roughly). This means that every state in the US would have to come up with 1.2 trillion dollars to deal with it. (I know it is not fair, but I need to show an example).

If we consider the three richest states and considering the 2012 numbers (from http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax) we see the following:

The collected taxation from California was 112.3, New York 71.5 and Texas 48.5, all in billions of dollars. So whether we use either the 340 billion or the larger 1.2 trillion, only 3 of the 50 states have any chance of paying it to any effect. Viewing these numbers, do the math and we see that things must change (by a lot). The Heritage foundation is also showing that current entitlements are double the defence budget. How does this relate to Obama care? Will the info they state gives us that the additional costs by 2019 which was set at 100 billion, which is a little over 12% of all collected annual taxes. So, another 100 billion needed whilst there is no income against that. The slide states “Obama care imposes numerous tax hikes which total more than $500 billion over 10 years. Obama care’s higher tax rates on income and investment will slow economic growth, leaving hardworking American families and businesses worse off.

These are the issues that the republicans are fighting. We have seen enough ‘evidence’ to know that most economic recovery for Europe will not commence until 2015. So, as the GOP (Republican Party) is watching these developments, whilst they are watching the additional entitlement costs go up even further, costs, which are pushing their sense of humour all the way to the basement of Congress. This means that there are additional issues stopping the America from regaining its status of ‘economic superpower’. So these are some of the elements that are not too ‘illuminated’ as the US government squabble goes on. The only bonus I see at present, is that when the government shuts down, they should consider not paying any of the elected Democrats and Republicans for these days either. It might at least save the treasury a few dollars.

 

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