Monday, May 2, 2016

(Surveillance Breeds Fear, Self-Censorship)  Our System Making Us Sick?  (Trump Trumps Bankruptors?)  Did Goldman Sachs’ Latest Move Into Main Street Banking Just Give Us A Warning About The Coming Financial Crisis?  (Saudis Cut Oil Deals with China/Russia Not In Dollars)

New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship

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Why Are We So Unhealthy?  Our System Makes Us Sick & Keeps Us Sick

The food/illness/healthcare system is not a conspiracy; it is a self-organizing system driven by the goal of maximizing profit and eliminating competition. The two are related, of course; the most effective way to maintain high prices and reap big profits is to eliminate competitors and consumer choice.

Big Pharma doesn’t ask the fast-food cartel to make its food unhealthy so its customers will need pricey medications to control the resulting lifestyle illnesses down the road; the fast-food cartel chooses the lowest-priced (and thus lowest quality) ingredients and processes to maximize its own profits.

The full consequences of the food/illness/healthcare system take decades to manifest. Humans respond to price (buy what’s cheapest) and what triggers the reward centers of the brain (consume sugar, fat, salt).  It’s remarkably easy to exploit these short-term factors to sell unhealthy food and meals whose lifetime costs are still years or decades in the future.

The same can be said of our extractive system of monoculture agriculture. Though touted as the most efficient system for growing food in the world, monoculture depends heavily on cheap fuel, cheap chemical fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides, cheap transportation and ignoring the eventual cost of losses in soil and soil quality.
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Like Jackson Browne wrote:
They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us everything from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars

Who knew a woman running for President of the USA (a Democratic woman) would be so scary?

Maybe those familiar with her foundation fund raising and foreign policy endeavors while Secretary of State?

There might be other reasons, but who needs more?

For me, it might be that "cat who swallowed the canary" look she's always sporting on the campaign trail which evinces someone who has put one over on the hoi polloi, many of whom are bouncing up and down all around her screaming "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!" as they enter a state of near ecstasy just from being close to her.

And is sooo proud of herself for being able to do so, and planning sooo muuuch mooore for our non-mutual enjoyment.

And as for the bona fides of her most worthy opponent?

He has just as interesting a vita.

And you thought the bankruptcy stories were BS?

What prime candidates.

What a country we've become.

April 30, 2016

Donald Trump’s Bankruptcy Dodge:  This Is How Lawyers and Regulators Helped Him Fudge Solvency and Avoid Collapse

Twenty-five years ago, the government saved Donald Trump from his own profligate spending. It's an important lesson
"Washington Spectator" 
Americans wouldn’t be imagining today what a Trump presidency might be like were it not for a crucial moment more than 25 years ago when government saved Donald Trump from his own profligate spending. In fact, it was one carefully calculated response by one of his attorneys that saved Trump from financial collapse — just two years after Trump had proposed himself as a vice-presidential running mate for George H. W. Bush.
That moment, when New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission decided that Trump was too big to fail, was rich with lessons not just about Trump, but about how government can favor some people over others — and about how lots of journalists, then and now, don’t understand Trump.

From 1985 until 1990 Trump was awash in greenbacks. Over those four and a half years, profits at his enterprises flowed into his pockets at the rate of $10,000 an hour in cash, around the clock.
At the time, Trump told me and everybody else that he was worth $3 billion. It was a dubious claim for a simple reason. If he was that rich, why was he unable to pay his bills as they came due?
In February 1990 Trump quit paying many of his personal bills. Reporting then for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I got his personal financial statement, which showed that he expected his income to fall to $748,000 in 1992 and to $296,000 the year after. That’s a lot of money to most people, but not to a “billionaire” with a personal 727 jet to maintain.
In April casino regulators made public a document showing Trump was down to his last $1.6 million.
Payments on more than a billion dollars of bonds on his three Atlantic City casinos came due every 90 days, but as the next payments loomed, Trump lacked the money to make them.
About 100 vendors at the newly opened Trump Taj Mahal casino had not been paid. Many contractors took legal action to protect their interests. And the Trump Shuttle, equipped with what Trump said were gold sinks, was down to $1 million cash, not enough to pay employees and keep the fleet of Boeing 727s fueled, or to pay for constant repairs, since almost all the planes were more than 20 years old.
As April ended, I broke the story that Trump’s own personal financial statement showed he was worth far less than he claimed.
All this and more forced the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to do something it had failed to do for years — examine Trump’s finances, to see if he met a critical legal requirement to own a casino, namely that he was financially stable.
The basic standard was simple:  the ability to pay bills as they came due. If you had to roll over old debt into new, that was fine with casino regulators, so long as you did not miss payments. The law put the onus on Trump to establish his financial stability by “clear and convincing evidence.”
As the DGE moved in, Trump’s bankers had an accounting firm go over his finances. I summarized their report showing he had a negative net worth of $295 million this way: You may well be worth more than Donald Trump. That story ran above the masthead of the Inquirer’s front page with the headline “Bankers Say Trump May Be Worth Less than Zero.”
The morning that story ran was the critical moment for Trump. Near Trenton, the Casino Control Commission listened to testimony about whether Trump was financially stable. If it ruled he was not, his casino license would be rescinded.
The case that Trump should keep his licenses was made not so much by Trump’s own lawyers as by state employees at the DGE, who asked questions shaped to gloss over the growing gap between the revenue Trump was taking in and the bills he had coming due.
It was a curious proceeding, as the DGE was supposed to investigate casino owners, workers, and the games themselves to ensure integrity and financial stability, not defend the owners.
A report by the Kenneth Leventhal accounting firm showed that Trump’s financial situation was deteriorating rapidly. Instead of ending the year with $24 million in cash, the accountants’ revised estimate showed he would run dry before the year’s end.
DGE’s own 111-page report noted that of the $3.2 billion Trump owed (not owned, but owed
More than 1,000 lawyers working for Trump and his creditors (who already billed almost $11 million) had worked out a “fragile” deal to keep Trump going, hoping to minimize losses on the loans they had extended without checking his finances carefully.
The deal required approval by at least four of the five Casino Control Commission members. After two commissioners asked skeptical questions, Trump attorney Nick Ribis called for a break.
The dozen reporters in the front row stood up, a few looking bewildered. “They’re rehearsing the answer to the next question,” I advised my colleagues. “When they come back, they’ll have the witness say Trump will be torn apart by the bankers unless the commission votes immediate approval of his deal with them.”
Minutes later, Thomas Cerabino, a Trump lawyer at the center of the private bankruptcy negotiations, took the stand. The next question came not from Trump’s lawyers, but from DGE’s Thomas Auriemma.
What would happen, Auriemma asked, if the commission delayed approving the deal?
A second commissioner asked a question and Cerabino responded in slow deliberate words:  Unless the commission acted immediately, Cerabino testified in slow deliberate words, “the banks will move apart and take whatever steps they think are appropriate to protect their interests.”
With that warning from one of his lawyers, Trump avoided the B word, but it was made clear to commissioners that an uncontrolled bankruptcy was one day away. Only two other reporters wrote stories explaining what Cerabino had said — how he managed to convey, without saying it directly, that Trump was on the verge of ruin. That’s because most reporters merely quote people accurately, often with little understanding of the issues.
Before the hearings resumed the next day, several reporters rushed up to me, one clutching my big front-page headline, asking when I would retract my story. They said that Ribis, Trump’s casino lawyer, had just told them my story was wrong. I marched over to Ribis, asked a series of short questions whose answers established that my story was correct, and got him to confirm to my peers that no retraction of even correction would be requested.
. . . It was the beginning of Trump having to relinquish his stakes in a host of enterprises — and by 1991 the Trump Taj Mahal was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the first of what would become four business bankruptcies. He later sold stock in his casinos, where investors not only lost their shirts, but during the fourth bankruptcy case, creditors successfully demanded that Trump get lost. These days Trump licenses his name for much of his revenue.
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Talk about a scary week.

And so few noticed.

Weekly News Wrap-Up 4/29/2016"
By Greg Hunter’s
The economy is rotten just like Apple iPhone sales numbers. For the first time in 10 years, Apple reported its first quarterly sales drop for their popular iPhone. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a sign there is trouble in the economy. Sure, Facebook beat its earnings projections, but they don’t make anything.

Other bad news includes new home sales are down. Manufacturing numbers from the Dallas Fed are down. Consumer sentiment numbers from the University of Michigan are down. Spending is down. Retail sales are down. GDP in the first quarter came in at a paltry .5%. Economist John Williams says that number will be revised down and will probably turn negative. Williams says we are already in a recession or soon will be. Both Bo Polny and Greg Mannarino say the same thing:  we are getting to a point where they can no longer hide the bad economy, and there really is no recovery after all.
What does this mean for the run up in the stock market we have seen in the last few months? Mannarino and Polny also come to the same conclusion, and that is the markets are rolling over and we are headed down. Maybe that’s why insiders have sold stocks for the last 13 weeks in a row — a record. Add this to the news of Saudi Arabia cutting oil deals with China, and Russia, as of this week, is no longer pricing its oil in dollars. Looks like we have a perfect storm of deep trouble for the U.S. and the world for that matter.
President Obama asked Europe for support for a possible war with Russia. While the President was in Germany recently, he asked that all members of NATO back the U.S. in Eastern Europe if war breaks out. There are all sorts of signs that things between the U.S. and Russia are not good. Russian fighters have recently buzzed U.S. Navy ships and surveillance aircraft. The U.S. has sent two F-22 Raptors to Romania to deter what the U.S. says is “Russian aggression.”

Threats continue to be made on both sides. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the U.S. sent another 250 troops to fight against ISIS while Iran’s Supreme Leader is complaining about how the U.S. is slow to remove sanctions and has done so only “on paper.” I say, that’s the deal you get when nobody signs a deal. The Iran/U.S. deal to curtail its nuclear program is a no deal-deal because you don’t have a deal if nobody signs it.

The mainstream media (MSM) continues to trash Trump. To me, it is painfully obvious that the MSM are afraid of a Trump presidency and, deep down, know Democrats are going to vote for Trump. According to a legit poll out at the first of the year, 20% of Democrats say they will vote for Trump."

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Did Goldman Sachs’ Latest Move Into Main Street Banking Just Give Us A Warning About The Coming Financial Crisis?

Mac Slavo
April 26th, 2016
(Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has claimed his company is “Doing God’s Work.”)
If there were ever a signal that large investment banks may be preparing for financial crisis and that they’ll be using your money to bail themselves out when it hits, this could be it.

According to a new report from the "Financial Times" via "The Daily Star," mega-banking giant Goldman Sachs is now getting into the retail banking business and looking for more depositors to help fund their operations.

The bank has reportedly “been under pressure to develop new streams of funding” after posting lower than usual equity returns in the first quarter of 2016.

In response, Goldman recently acquired a portfolio of 145,000 retail depositors from GE Capital totaling some $16 billion in deposits.

Goldman now intends to aggressively pursue retail depositors whose accounts they will then tap to help fund their investing and trading operations:

The bank last week launched, a platform it inherited via the acquisition of a $16bn book of deposits from GE Capital.

Through that deal it gained about 145,000 retail depositors and is now seeking more, offering annual interest rates of 1.05 per cent on a savings account – many times better than the rates of the biggest US brick-and-mortar lenders such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase or Bank of America.

Stephen Scherr, Goldman’s chief strategy officer, said the aim was to broaden sources of funding for GS Bank, its New York State-chartered lender. Until now, the unit has focused on wholesale funding sources and so-called “brokered deposits,” which are bulk sums that banks acquire from brokers in exchange for high interest rates.

By tapping regular retail depositors, Mr Scherr said, the bank can open up “a different avenue to use, with a different orientation and a different tenor”.

For as little as $1 you can now start your own savings account with Goldman at a whopping annual interest rate of 1.05%.

What could possibly go wrong when you deposit your money with one of the firms directly responsible for the fraud that led to Crash of 2008? They are, after all, doing God’s work according to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

While depositing your money at Goldman’s new bank could well be a spiritual experience, we highlight for our readers the fact that Goldman is doing this for one specific reason:  to fund their trading operations with new deposits from retail customers.

And if they’re doing business anything like they did ahead of the 2008 crash, we can assume that when the whole thing blows up again Goldman is going to be in serious trouble, and that means depositors will be in serious trouble.

Back in 2008 Goldman Sachs was “forced” to take a $10 billion TARP bailout from the Federal government.

According to Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, the next time such a crisis strikes, there will be bailouts, but not like before. This time, those bailouts, dubbed “bail-ins” will not come from the government, but rather, from you, the bank account holder.

Recent comments delivered by Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer suggest that not only are global and domestic economies still struggling, but the U.S. government itself is preparing financial contingency plans in anticipation of another widespread economic event.

However, this time around, according to Fischer, the government won’t be bailing out financial institutions in need of cash.

Instead, failing banks will turn directly to their unsecured creditors when they need money.

And within this context, that means you:

As part of this approach, the United States is preparing a proposal to require systemically important banks to issue bail-inable long-term debt that will enable insolvent banks to recapitalize themselves in resolution without calling on government funding – this cushion is known as a “gone concern” buffer.
Though Fischer doesn’t detail exactly what “bail-inable long term debt” actually is, one only needs to look to Europe, namely Cyprus, to understand what he means.

When the Cypriot banking system collapsed because of an inability to service its debt in 2013, the government forced bank depositors to cover the debts. This led to banks forcibly seizing funds from depositor accounts in order to pay their debts.
Goldman Sachs needs more money for their Wall Street gambling houses.

They’re coming to you to get it.

And when the whole thing detonates, they’ll simply seize your funds to compensate for their losses … and every other retail bank in America will do the same.

Just so we’re clear, we are all bank creditors by these definitions, thus the regulations being created apply not to just large bond holders, but every individual depositor.

Notice how they didn’t say “in case future bank rescues are necessary.” That’s because they know what’s coming.

…When the next banking crisis hits the United States you can be assured that creditors (i.e. individual depositors) will be forced to ‘bail them in.’

…So, if you’ve got any significant amount of money at financial institutions, you’d better think twice about how safe it is.
You’ve been warned.

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