News for progressives

Pentagon Fears Turkey To Retaliate Against US Troops In Syria Over New Sanctions

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:30

As expected, Turkey blasted the White House's prior day announcement that it has killed Turkey's involvement in the F-35 joint strike fighter program after Ankara received a first batch of S-400 Russian-made air defense components starting last week. Turkey's foreign ministry called on the US to rectify its "mistake".

“This unilateral step is incompatible with the spirit of alliance and does not rely on any legitimate justification,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a strong-worded statement immediately following the White House press release. “We call on the United States to come back from this mistake that will cause irreparable wounds in our strategic relations,” it said.

Image source: AFP/Getty

The White House had stated  while confirming it would indefinitely block transfer of the F-35: “Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” and added, “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”

Turkey has responded to Trump's firm stance by staying it's "unfair". According to state-run TRT World: "Excluding Turkey, one of the main partners from the F35 program is unfair, and the claim that S-400 system will weaken the F-35s is invalid," the foreign ministry said.

Meanwhile, at a moment that looming military conflict between Turkey, the Syrian Army and Damascus' ally Russia is heating up near Idlib, the Pentagon issued a separate statement Wednesday demanding that the Turkish army avoid striking US troops in the region amid a Turkish build-up of forces along the border.

The statement warned the US would consider any “unilateral actions into northeastern Syria,” particularly targeting US troops, as “unacceptable”.

Northern Syria situation in 2018, via NYT. American presence has stayed the same in the northeast since then.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson said:

"Unilateral action into northeastern Syria by any party, particularly as U.S. personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern. We would find any such actions unacceptable."

Over the past week Turkey appears to have been amassing its forces near the border for an upcoming assault on US-allied Kurdish forces in Syria's northeast

American defense officials fear Turkey's military could be tempted toward retaliation against US forces currently assisting Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) over new US sanctions related Turkey's S-400 deal with Russia. 

Move Over, Millennials: GEN X Is the Generation in the Most Financial Trouble

Activist Post - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:23

By Daisy Luther

Everyone picks on Millennials these days but a new study by Lending Tree shows that out of all the generations, Gen X is the one dealing with the deepest financial problems.

First, some definitions.

  • Gen Z or Centennials: Born 1996 – current day
  • Millennials: Born 1977 – 1995.
  • Gen X: Born 1965 – 1976.
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964.
  • The Silent Generation: Born 1945 or before

We all know that two major financial mistakes are getting into debt and failing to have an emergency fund. A recent study looked into the debt levels of each generation.

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Lending Tree, an online lending marketplace, did a study on the 3-year changes in each generation’s debt.

As each generation moves into different stages of their personal and economic lives, the amounts and types of debt they carry shifts, too. We compared the debts of members of the four adult generations — millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and silents — between March 2016 and March 2019 to see what’s changed.

Specifically, we calculated the changes in the average balance of each major debt category — personal loans, credit cards, auto loans, student loans and mortgages — and the change in the percentage of each generation that carries each type of debt. (source)

Here were the key findings:

  • Millennials saw the greatest spike in overall debt. Their total balances rose by an average of $16,714 — almost 29% — between 2016 and 2019.
  • Gen Xers now have the highest average debt burden of any generation. They increased their average debt burdens by about 10%, or $11,898, between 2016 and 2019, thanks to steady dollar increases across all debt categories.
  • Older generations — boomers and silents — are winding down their debt, thanks to decreases in average mortgage balances. However, they’ve increased their average debt across all other categories.
  • Boomers decreased their debt burdens by 7%, or $10,424. Members of the silent generation dropped their overall debt by $9,486, or 8%. (source)

But what about Gen X? Why are they in so much trouble?

Gen X has financial problems in many ways.

Marketwatch did an analysis on that the ways that Gen X is financially wrecked and it’s not pretty. This is my generation so I was especially interested in their analysis.

They’ve got the most credit card debt of anyone — yet still spend more than anyone on non-essentials…Despite their sky high credit card debt, Gen X spends big on non-essentials, according to data released in 2018 from finance site Bankrate.com. Indeed, “Gen Xers (ages 38-53) spend $3,473 annually on restaurant food, prepared beverages and lottery tickets, the most of any generation,” the report reveals.

They’re woefully under-saved for retirement…Median retirement savings for Gen X is only $35,000, the same median amount as millennials, despite Gen Xers being much closer to retirement,” according to a study of 3,000 Americans by Allianz Life. Having just $35,000 in retirement savings — especially when you’re a Gen Xer ages 37- 51 — is not even close to enough. Fidelity recommends that by age 40 you have three times your salary saved for retirement. Gen Xers may be so under-saved thanks to the competing financial demands of children… and caring for aging parents.

Their average debt now tops $150,000. Not only is their credit card debt high, the total amount of debt they have is. Those in the 35-44 age group have “the highest debt levels of any age bracket,” SmartAsset notes, citing Federal Reserve data. 

They’re more likely than other generations to say they can’t meet their financial goals. All of this debt and the lack of savings may explain why fewer than 1 in 3 members of Gen X says they think they can reach their long-term financial goals, according to a survey released in 2017 by FICO.  (source)

That’s not a pretty picture for people between the ages of 37 and 51.

Some of the reasons for this financial mess

Reading over the data, the thing that jumps out at me is that people of my generation are at the point where they’re taking care of everyone. Some still have kids at home, while others have adult kids who have returned home.  We are often lending a helping hand to our adult children who are in college or trying to get their feet on the ground. Some of this generation are taking care of aging parents.

It’s pretty tough to save for retirement when you have all these people depending on you.

Regarding the credit card debt, that one is kind of a mystery to me. While I have used credit cards to fund medical care I couldn’t fully pay for with my emergency fund, I rarely use them otherwise. It seems to me that it is essential to get this high-interest debt under control immediately. (If this is a problem for you, check out this article about paying down debt fast.

Spending on non-essentials seems to be a problem too. A lot of folks think that being on a budget means you can never have any fun, you can’t travel, you can’t go out to eat. So instead of creating a budget, they throw caution to the wind, spend while they have money, and complain when they don’t. I’d never say that you cannot travel, dine out, or do fun things. I do all of these and on a fairly tight budget. But I work it into my budget, I fund it with cash, and this comes after savings and all my other bills.

The biggest concern I see is that the money we Gen X-ers are paying into social security right now is going to fund the retirements of the Baby Boomers. The social security system is at a near-breaking point right now and most folks believe it may not even be there by the time we get to retirement age, much less for millennials. All that money that has been taking from our paychecks our entire working life…and none left when we need it. And if you think times are tight now, just wait until you’re too old to work and there’s no social security.

What do you think about this study?

Do you agree with this study that says Gen X is the generation is the one in the most financial trouble? Why do you think that is? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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Categories: News for progressives

They’re Watching Us All!

Activist Post - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:20

By Michael Maharrey

I recently appeared on the Wasatch Report with Suzanne Sherman to talk about the real-world impacts of government overreach, particularly the drug war and the surveillance state. 

Before we started the show, Suzanne said to me, “Did you ever imagine the days of general warrants would be the good old days?” She’s right. Government surveillance has become so pervasive that it makes the British customs agents with their “search for anything anywhere” warrants look like.

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Before we dug into the issue of surveillance, we talked a little bit about how people have completely abandoned constitutional principles and the utter failure of letting the government determine the extent of its own power.

From there, we talked about my experience fighting surveillance in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, and the ensuing lawsuit against me. That led to a discussion of “geofence warrants” and TSA-style scanners that police in Utah are getting that will enable them to “search” everybody in a given public area.

We also touched on the human toll of the war on drugs.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE

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Categories: News for progressives

Bowling Alone: How Washington Has Helped Destroy American Civil Society and Family Life

Activist Post - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:14

Op-Ed by Brian Miller

Church attendance in the United States is at an all-time low, according to a Gallup poll released in April 2019. This decline has not been a steady one. Indeed, over the last 20 years, church attendance has fallen by 20 percent. This might not sound like cause for concern off the bat. And if you’re not a person of faith, you might rightly wonder why you would care about such a thing.

Church attendance is simply a measure of something deeper: social cohesion. It’s worth noting that the religions with the highest rate of attendance according to Pew Forum have almost notoriously high levels of social cohesion: Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons and historically black churches top the list.

There’s also the question of religious donations. Religious giving has declined by 50 percent since 1990, according to a 2016 article in the New York Times. This means people who previously used religious services to make ends meet now either have to go without or receive funding from the government. This, in turn, strengthens the central power of the state.

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It is our position that civil society – those elements of society which exist independently of big government and big business – are essential to a functioning and free society. What’s more, these institutions are in rapid decline in the United States, and have been for over 50 years.

Such a breakdown is a prelude to tyranny, and has been facilitated in part (either wittingly or unwittingly) by government policies favoring deindustrialization, financialization and centralization of the economy as well as the welfare state. The historical roots of this breakdown are explored below, along with what concerned citizens can do to mitigate its impact on their loved ones.

What Is Bowling Alone?

The urtext of this topic is Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by political scientist Robert D. Putnam. He uses the decline in league bowling as a sort of shorthand for the overall decline in American participation in social life.

The local bowling alley was known as the blue-collar country club, and it was the invention of the automatic pinsetter that changed the game, making it faster and more accessible. The first million-dollar endorsement sports deal was Don Carter receiving a million dollars to bowl with an Ebonite signature ball designed for him in 1964.

Business was driven by league play. People would sign up to join a league, which had them in for 30 weeks of once-weekly play. In the course of doing this, they would rub elbows with teammates, opponents and whoever happened to be hanging out in the bowling alley at the time. Between 1940 and 1958, the United States Bowling Congress’ membership exploded from 700,000 to 2.3 million. The Women’s International Bowling Congress’ membership climbed from 82,000 to 866,000, with the American Junior Bowling Congress ballooning from 8,000 to 175,000. In their heyday, bowling leagues brought in a whopping 70 percent of all bowling alley income. Now they bring in a paltry 40 percent.

Again, the point here is not that there is something magical about bowling, which acts as a social glue in the United States. Rather, it is that the existence of bowling alleys as a third place in American life was the symptom of a vibrant and healthy civil society, not its cause. People preferred to socialize with others in a place outside of home or work. Putnam is quick to point out that the number of people who bowl in the United States has actually increased since the golden age of bowling – the problem is that they’re all doing it alone.

The decline in bowling league membership parallels the decline of memberships in a number of other civic organizations including the Knights of Columbus, B’Nai Brith, labor unions, the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, the Lions, the Elks, the Kiwanis, the Freemasons, parent-teacher organizations, the League of Women Voters and the Junior Chamber of Commerce to name only a few examples other than bowling leagues and churches.

What this means is that there are significantly fewer connections between people and fewer civic-minded discussions going on now than there were in the past. It also means the loss of identity tied to something other than work and consumer goods (see the explosion of adults spending their money on Star Wars or Harry Potter knick-knacks).

Putnam lays the blame at the foot of technology. Television, and to a much greater extent, the Internet, individualized how people spend their spare time. Still, there is a solid case to be made that the decline of civil society and the resulting loss of social capital is not simply the result of new technologies. It is equally the result of government policies which, through design or through negligence, further erode civil society.

The Destruction of the Rust Belt

It is difficult to talk about the decline of civil society and social capital in the United States without looking at the destruction of the Rust Belt. The decline of the population in Rust Belt industrial cities over the last 50 years is worth a cursory glance before delving further into this topic:

  • In 1940, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh were all among the 10 most populated cities in the United States.
  • By 1980, Cleveland and Pittsburgh had dropped off.
  • While Detroit hung around in the top 10 until the 2010 census, it was also the first city to have its population drop below one million.

Cities outside of the top 10 in 1940 paint an even starker picture:

  • Between 1960 and 2010, Buffalo lost over half of its population, plummeting from 532,000 (20) to 261,000 (71).
  • Cincinnati was hit about this hard during the same time period, with its population dropping from 502,000 (21) to 296,000 (63).
  • Gary, Indiana is perhaps the most extreme case of Rust Belt depopulation. It lost over half its population between 1960 and 2010, going from 178,000 (70) to 80,000 (unranked).

Most of these massive depopulations are tied closely to deindustrialization and the financialization of the economy. While other factors cannot be ignored, such as central air conditioning, which makes living in cities like Phoenix (439,000 in 1960 and the 29th largest city to 1.4 million and the 6th largest by 2010) much more palatable, a conscious set of policies contributed to the destruction of America’s manufacturing base.

If one sees the United States as nothing more than a group of consumers, there’s nothing to fret about here. If, however, one sees the United States as a nation with a value beyond its simple GDP, the replacement of civil society with the marketplace is a disastrous scenario.

The Destruction of Black Business Districts

Another place where this can be seen is the destruction of the black middle class. A frequently untold story of American life is that by the 1950s, the United States actually had a thriving black middle class. Black business ownership peaked during the years between the end of the Second World War and the Great Society. Every city with any significant black population hosted a black business district where a primarily black clientele spent their money within their own community. Black home ownership was likewise high at this point.

This is all very much a thing of the past.

The per capita number of black employers declined by 12 percent between the years 1997 and 2014. An article by Brian S. Feldman in Washington Monthly notes a significant decline in certain sectors of black business ownership as well, namely grocers, insurers and banks. Black-owned insurance agencies declined by 68 percent between 1989 and 1999 in what Black Enterprise magazine called “a bloodbath.”

The article in question lays this at the feet of not specific government policies, but at the doorstep of a more general trend toward market concentration.

It’s worth looking at the question of wealth and market concentration (separate from the question of so-called “wealth inequality”) from a freedom-minded perspective. The massive amounts of government handouts to big business, in the form of both direct subsidies as well as favorable legislation for regulations and taxes alike, creates an environment favoring those most capable of purchasing influence – namely, big business.

This is not the half-baked conspiracy theory of a college Marxist. No less an authority than the Foundation for Economic Education correctly identifies that the wealth concentration that made the destruction of black small business possible is choking the American economy at the expense of Main Street. Likewise, licensing regimes in a number of states choke the pipeline of small business competition by making it more difficult for people to enter fields, from nail tech to brain surgeon. The FEE likewise identifies health insurance requirements and increasingly rising minimum wage laws as government intervention raising the bar to entry into the market and crushing small business.

There is another, highly unlikely and ironic, culprit behind the decimation of black business and the black community – integration.

This is a position championed by Clay Middleton of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Basically, under segregation, black consumers were limited in their choices of business. They could not, in many cases, go to (for example) white hamburger joints. Instead, they had to patronize the equivalent business for black customers. In many cases, these businesses were owned and operated by fellow black Americans. Black hotels are another example of this phenomenon.

The point is not that Southern states should reintroduce segregation to prop up black businesses, but simply to give a broader and more complete picture of how and why black business districts have disappeared. It also offers some insight into the destruction of small business in America in general.

While cheap, imported widgets from Walmart benefit consumers with lower prices, they also create an intangible and difficult-to-quantify social problem. When big business replaces small business, wealth is not only centralized, it is also centralized outside of the communities that it serves. While larger businesses are arguably more “efficient” economically speaking, the loss of small business (most acutely seen in the black community) provides an illustrative example of how lost economic capital and lost social capital are often closely tied. Without black business, there is less of a “black community” than there is a “black marketplace.”

Strictly speaking, small business (black or otherwise) is business, not civil society proper. However, greater economic leverage of big business in the nation means an economically impoverished civil society.

Civil Society, the Welfare State, and Mutual Aid

While direct connections are difficult to establish, it is worth noting that there is a chicken-egg effect of the welfare state, which began during the New Deal, but accelerated under President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society.

What did people do before the advent of social welfare programs? This is a question that even few libertarians can answer without stammering something about private charity. And indeed, private charity did play a role in meeting social needs for the less fortunate. However, there is a hidden story in how communities met social needs prior to the advent of the welfare state.

Mutual aid in the 21st century is largely a nonprofit form of insurance, particularly life insurance – a sort of analog to the credit union. However, in earlier days they oversaw a number of social welfare programs.

Mutual aid societies, also known as benefit societies (or friendly societies in the United Kingdom and Ireland) date back to the Middle Ages. Medieval guilds were effectively mutual aid societies organized within skilled trades. In the United States, they were popular with black Americans during post-revolutionary times: the Free African Society dates back to 1787.

One of the key differences between mutual aid and benefit societies and the welfare state is the role of civil society and accountability. Mutual aid societies presented a counterweight to both the state and big business. They offered services such as healthcare, unemployment benefits, disability insurance and other services now provided by big business or state and federal governments.

What’s more, the mutual aid societies generally had a set of values tied to their services. Social values were advanced and an ethos of moral character and self-improvement underpinned membership in a mutual aid society. For example, the Ancient Order of United Workmen forbade its members from selling liquor on penalty of forfeiting their death benefit.

Finally, it’s worth noting the primary difference between mutual aid societies and the welfare state. Members who wanted to collect had to look a peer in the eye and request aid. This had a twin psychological effect: First, it diminished spurious claims. Let’s say “Jim” needed some unemployment insurance. His neighbors are also members of his mutual aid society. They know if Jim actually needs help or if he’s just goldbricking. The flipside is that Jim is also receiving aid from his friends and neighbors. This inspires him to look for work so that he can pay everyone back in his own way, in addition to providing a source of social solidarity during his hardest times.

According to A Life of One’s Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State, in the year 1890, 112,000 Americans were living in housing provided by private charitable organizations. Compare this to 73,000 residing in publicly funded almshouses. What’s more, benefit societies were decentralized. The spirit was one of fraternity, not of paternalism. Reciprocity was a driving ethic, which in turn removed the stigma of receiving charity. People were not receiving handouts, they were receiving support from the very same people whom they had supported in the past.

Additionally, belonging to a mutual aid or benefit society was a lot cooler than receiving welfare. They had secret handshakes, among other secret symbols of membership. What’s more, the humble house-call doctor was a feature of mutual aid society membership. Society locals frequently hired a doctor to service a membership area. They have since been regulated to the point where they provide little in the way of services, except for life insurance and annuities, making them effectively non-profit financial organizations.

In addition to accountability, assistance beyond simple financial support and decentralization, private assistance carries other benefits. For example, philanthropic organizations tend to operate leaner and to be more innovative in how they tackle problems. Such organizations tend to tailor their assistance to the individual in need, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach. This is true of individuals and communities alike. Finally, philanthropic and mutual aid societies seek to treat the underlying cause, rather than just the symptom of need.

Such organizations are now limited by the federal tax code 501(c)(4), which greatly restricts the activities such organizations are allowed to participate in. Many of them, such as Mutual of Omaha, underwent demutualization and handed out stocks in place of membership. They are now for-profit financial organizations.

A Decline in Family Life

One of the main pillars of civil society is the nuclear family. Any discussion of the decline of civil society in the United States would be incomplete without a discussion of the decline of family life in the United States.

Perhaps the best numbers to look at with regard to the American family are from the 2010 Census. These are, admittedly, a bit old. However, there is no reason to suspect that the trend has reversed itself and that the nuclear family has experienced some kind of resurgence in the years since that census. If anything, the opposite is probably true. So what does the last United States Census say?

  • Non-college graduates are more than twice as likely to be single parents.
  • Affluent families are more common than poor ones.

Pew Research likewise has good data on the state of the American family:

  • Americans who have never been married reached an all-time high in 2012, with 25 percent of all adults over the age of 25 having never been married. In 1960, this figure stood at 9 percent.
  • Men were significantly less likely to have ever been married than women.
  • 24 percent of never-married adults were cohabiting with their partner.
  • For black Americans, the percentage over 25 who had never been married was 36 percent.
  • Pew Research indicates that it expects this trend to continue and that, while people are getting married later in life, it does not expect a significant increase in marriage as the population ages.
  • Financial security was cited as the main hurdle to marriage by one third of all those polled who wanted to get married.
  • 67 percent of Americans under 50 who are married are in their first marriage, compared to 83 percent in 1960.
  • 46 percent of children live with two parents in their first marriage. In 1980, this number was 61 percent. In 1960, it was 73 percent.

The above-cited figures point toward two conclusions: First, the nuclear family is in sharp decline. Second, it is far more common for educated and affluent Americans to form traditional families.

It’s difficult to assign direct blame to any one factor. The centralization of the economy cited above plays a role, as does the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy. In the 1960s, from where our earliest data comes, it was not difficult for a high school graduate or even a high school dropout to earn a living at a stable job that was effectively a career for life. With this job came a defined benefit pension, healthcare, etc. The wages and benefits made having and raising a family easier.

The welfare state is another significant driver of the decline of the nuclear family. Unsurprisingly, the black family is massively impacted. In 1965, 25 percent of all black children were born out of wedlock. In 2016, that rate had increased to 70 percent and even topped 80 percent in certain urban areas. In the 1940s, this number was five percent, which was comparable to that of white children. The Hispanic out-of-wedlock birth rate in 2016 was 52 percent, while for whites it was 30 percent.

The rise in children born out of wedlock cannot be separated from the massive expansion of the welfare state under Johnson’s Great Society. In a report from the Mises Institute, the basic argument is that welfare disincentivizes marriage. In times past, when women had children out of wedlock, it meant an incredibly difficult life balancing whatever work and charity they could get. It also carried a social stigma (from our old friend civil society), which further disincentivized single motherhood.

Today, however, there are a host of social programs specifically for single mothers. A partial list of programs assisting single motherhood includes:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) commonly known as “food stamps”
  • Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC), another food assistance program
  • Child Care Assistance Program, Head Start and Early Head Start, all daycare assistance programs
  • Section 8 housing assistance
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps single mothers pay their utilities
  • Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), health insurance assistance programs
  • Supplemental Security Income, often called “disability,” but accessible to those without bona fide physical disabilities
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program and the National School Lunch Program, two more food assistance programs

These programs act as a disincentive toward family formation. Benefits are means tested, meaning that if one’s income is low enough, one qualifies. This means that it is advantageous in many cases for couples to remain unmarried so that only one income is counted for the purpose of benefits. Such programs, when coupled with a diminishing stigma against single motherhood, further incentivizes promiscuity and poor mate selection – why not have a child with a man who can’t support it when the welfare state is there to pick up the slack?

The impact of single-parent households is far further reaching than you probably think: In the most extensive study ever done on single parenthood (in permissive, tolerant and liberal Sweden), it was found that children in single-parent households were twice as likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders and addiction. This figure might be conservative, as it only includes hospitalizations. Some other striking statistics about fatherless households include:

  • 63 percent of youth suicides take place in fatherless homes.
  • 90 percent of all homeless youth and runaways are from fatherless homes, which is a whopping 32 times the national average.
  • 85 percent of all children with behavior issues come from fatherless homes, 20 times the national average.
  • 80 percent of rapists with established anger issues come from fatherless homes, 14 times the national average.
  • 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes, nine times the national average.
  • 70 percent of those in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes, nine times the national average.
  • 85 percent of all juveniles in prison come from single-parent households, 20 times the national average.
  • 90 percent of adolescent repeat arson offenders are from fatherless homes.
  • Fatherless children are nearly twice as likely to be victims of abuse or neglect.

These striking statistics are a serious indictment of the decline of the nuclear family. If, as is common of behaviors, single parenthood is heritable, we have not yet begun to see a crisis.

The End of Civil Society in the United States

The big takeaway is that in the United States, civil society has declined. While the blame cannot entirely be laid at the feet of big government and big business (individual actors are involved), there is strong evidence to suggest that the crisis in American civil society is driven primarily by the welfare state and government policies favoring deindustrialization, financialization and centralization of the economy.

There is a reinforcing quality about the destruction of civil society. As the size of big government and big business increases, they become more capable of taking greater power. Smaller communities become increasingly reliant upon each, making it harder to resist further growth and greater disempowerment. It’s a vicious downward spiral.

So what’s the solution for a concerned individual or family? It’s not political. Instead, the best one can do to counteract these trends are to become as financially independent as possible, make durable local connections in the community, and learn to think critically in order to insulate oneself from the more pernicious effects of social decay and the power of the state.

This article was sourced from Ammo.com.

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Categories: News for progressives

Camouflaged Israeli Ex-PM Pictured Entering Epstein's Mansion The Same Day As Hotties Show Up

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:10

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was photographed entering Jeffrey Epstein's Manhattan mansion in January, 2016 wearing a camouflage scarf around his face - the same day that a bunch of young women showed up, according to the Daily Mail.

...the women included long-time Epstein friends Sue Hamblin and Jennifer Kalin as well as Russian model Lana Pozhidaeva.

A fourth, unidentified, woman was seen joining Epstein on a trip to Teterborough Airport in New Jersey, where Epstein keeps his plane and where he was arrested on the tarmac on July 6 after he flew in from France.

At the time, the identity of the man seen with his own security detail going to Epstein’s mansion on East 71st Street was unclear. Now DailyMail.com has confirmed it was Barak. -Daily Mail

Of note, the 77-year-old Barak says he's planning to sue the Daily Mail for libel, and rejects the report's 'loathsome' insinuations. 

The former PM - who has formed a new party to try and unseat current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu - admitted to the Daily Beast that he had indeed been to Epstein's NY residence, and the financier's infamous 'pedophile island' in the Caribbean, but insists that he's 'never met Epstein in the company of women and young girls.'  

DailyMail.com has obtained exclusive pictures of one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s main challengers hiding his face as he entered the convicted sex offender’s Manhattan townhouse.

A bevy of young women were also seen going into the multi-millionaire’s lavish seven-story home on the same day that Ehud Barak was snapped.

...

The photographs were taken in January 2016 after Epstein, now 66, had returned to New York after an overseas trip. 

Within hours at least four young women had gone to the home that the federal government wants to seize as part of its new case against the financier. -Daily Mail

Of note, the Mail does not say if the women were inside Epstein's mansion at the same time as Barak. 

Barak, who served as Israel's PM from 1999 - 2001, and later defense minister from 2007 - 2013, received millions of dollars from Epstein as an investment in his company, Carbyne, which makes geolocation software for emergency services. Barak wrote on Facebook last weekend that he is trying to break off relations with Epstein. 

"For almost five years, a company associated with Epstein has been a passive investor in a limited partnership, legally registered in Israel and under my control," he wrote, adding "Every investor in this partnership is bound by the same commercial contract. As soon as the present charges related to Epstein became known, I instructed my lawyers to examine the options we have for expelling the company associated with Epstein from this partnership." 

At the weekend, Barak told the Israeli version of Meet the Press that he had no idea that Epstein's charges involved underage girls. 'He'd served his sentence for soliciting prostitution — the indictment didn't say she was a minor,' he said.

'The American system itself did not label him as a persona non grata,' Barak added. 'The secretary who just resigned in the Trump administration was the prosecutor and he said he'd been negligent — so you expect me to have noticed [anything wrong]?' he added, referring to Alex Acosta who resigned as labor secretary last week. -Daily Mail

Of course, Barak still took money in 2014 from the convicted pedophile and registered sex offender - which was publicly available information at the time. 

According to the Mail citing the Miami Herald, Carbine also received a $2.5 million investment from Epstein's former close friend, Les Wexner.

Netanyahu pounces

The Israeli PM's party has called for a criminal investigation into Barak's ties to Epstein - while Netanyahu tweeted that he should be investigated 'immediately.' In a July 9 tweet, he posted a video of Barak's ties to Epstein, asking in Hebrew, "What else did the sex offender give to Ehud Barak?"

Carbon trading companies use loophole to dodge hard Brexit fallout

Canary, The Other - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:00

British greenhouse gas emissions traders and producers are increasingly moving their carbon credits into European accounts to bypass EU penalties and protect their interests in case of a no-deal Brexit, The Canary has learned. This legal loophole will allow them to carry on trading emission allowances if Britain crashes out of the EU.

The carbon credit scheme

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is a ‘cap and trade’ system that the European Commission calls the EU’s “key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively”.

The scheme sets a cap on the greenhouse gases that companies are allowed to emit. It also allows companies to trade their greenhouse gas allowances. Companies usually trade on a national emissions trading registry.

Until now, the UK has had one of the largest European carbon-trading markets. But a no-deal Brexit, which looks increasingly likely, could lock the UK ETS market and all the allowances stored in it, experts have told The Canary.

The solution? Opening an ETS account in another EU member state.

Migrating carbon credits

Over the past two years, some EU members’ ETS registers have seen UK-based companies – or carbon traders acting on their behalf – opening accounts that allow them to trade emissions. A Czech ETS authority spokesperson told The Canary:

It is [a] fact that British companies are currently opening EU ETS accounts in other jurisdictions and they transfer their allowances there. The reason for that is that in the case of ‘hard Brexit’ the companies would automatically lose access to their registry accounts and therefore [to] their allowances registered there.

The UK government advised companies to do this. A spokesperson for energy company Drax told The Canary:

We opened a registry account in another EU country upon the advice given by [the] government in their no deal notice.

The Dutch ETS – a hotspot

Opening carbon accounts in other EU member states is perfectly legal, although the rules surrounding it vary across the EU. The Czech Republic, like most EU member states, requires at least one representative of the account-filing company to have a permanent residence in the country. But that does not apply in the Netherlands or France.

In a February press release, the Dutch Emissions Authority (NEA) said it saw “a large increase in the number of applications for trade accounts from the United Kingdom”. It later told The Canary that UK companies had filed 42 account requests “since 2018”, 20 of which have already been approved.

These UK-based companies are currently listed in the Dutch ETS registry:

The majority are third-party carbon traders, like banks. The list also includes power companies like EDF Energy Ltd and Drax.

Suspension

At the beginning of 2019, the EU temporarily suspended the UK’s free carbon emissions allowances, because of the risk of a no-deal Brexit. An EU spokesperson told The Canary:

As of 2019, the UK will not be able to auction allowances, allocate allowances for free to operators or exchange international credits for as long as this suspension remains in place.

This led many British companies to stock up on emission allowances towards the end of 2018.

If Britain leaves with a withdrawal agreement, the suspension will be lifted, an EU ETS spokesperson told The Canary. A BEIS spokesperson said:

As long as the UK is in the EU ETS, operators still have access to their Registry accounts. Access is not suspended – the suspension is on the UK auctioning and issuing of 2019 allowances.

The spokesperson added:

The UK has led the world in tackling climate change – cutting emissions further than any other G20 country and this month becoming one of the first major economies to start legislating for a net zero target. We strongly believe in the benefits of carbon pricing and our robust system makes sure businesses pay for every ton of carbon they are emitting.

Climate thinktank Sandbag has told The Canary that Britain is losing between £1bn and £1.5bn as a result of the suspension.

A climate of uncertainty

Environmental campaigners and business stakeholders have underlined the climate of uncertainty caused by the risk of a no-deal Brexit. Tom Lord, head of trading and risk management for carbon risk management and procurement firm Redshaw Advisors, told The Canary that “a no-deal Brexit doesn’t suit anyone”. He said “people began panicking” as the Brexit deadline approached because:

In the event of hard Brexit, in all likelihood, the Commission would lock those [UK emissions trading] accounts because the UK would obviously cease to be part of the EU ETS. There is no clear indication on when, or if, they would ever regain access to the accounts.

In other words, any company storing its emissions allowances in the UK might lose access to those allowances.

“A seismic shock”

Asked what would be an ideal scenario for carbon traders and their clients, Redshaw Advisors’ Lord replied:

Clarity. As soon as possible. And a transition period that takes us at the end of phase four. After that, there can be a more orderly exit if [the] UK is not to be part of EU ETS and if there’s enough time to get alternative arrangements.

David Powell, head of environment and green transitions at the New Economics Foundation thinktank, said: “A no-deal Brexit is a seismic shock to our economy already”. He told The Canary:

The vision of a lot of the no-deal type of people, including Boris Johnson, is that the UK will become this global free trading hub, able to strike trade deals with America or whoever.

Powell believes this ambition “would almost inevitably mean lower standards than we currently have. It may be lower emissions standards, lower environmental standards”.

Phil MacDonald, emissions trading analyst at Sandbag, told The Canary:

We’re trying to encourage the government to make [the carbon price] higher and more in line with what the EU current price currently is. People in BEIS [the Department for Business, Enterprise & Industrial Strategy] are keen for solutions but, at the minute, because of Brexit, everything is such a mess, no-one really knows what is going to happen […]

By Crina Boros. Additional reporting by Adriana Homolova / Pointer.

Featured image via Flickr – Gerry Machen

By Crina Boros

Cryptos Suddenly Panic-Bid, Bitcoin Back Above $10k

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:57

Following further selling pressure overnight, someone (or more than one) has decided to buy-the-dip in cryptos this morning, sending Bitcoin (and most of the altcoins) soaring...

A sea of green...

Source: Coin360

Bitcoin surged back above $10,000...

Ethereum bounced off support at its flash-crash lows...

But Litecoin is outperforming on the day...

As CoinTelegraph notes, Bitcoin recovered more swiftly from its bear cycles than Amazon did during the boom and bust of the dot com era, data from crypto analytics firm Messari reveals.

Bitcoin’s 2019 breakout ‘extremely bullish’ by comparison

Fellow industry analytics firm Ceteris Paribus shared Messari’s findings in a tweet on July 17:

“The latest $BTC cycle mirrors $AMZN during the dot-com bubble, but the recovery has been much more swift. Even with the recent sell off, bitcoin is 54% down from its high, vs. the 85% Amazon was trading at over a similar timeframe.”

Bitcoin and Amazon ‘bubbles’ comparison, 2015-2019. Courtesy of Messari via @ceterispar1bus

In a further tweet, Ceteris Paribus argues that while the two assets are markedly different, they have both allegedly “traded on pure speculation” at different points in their histories. 

A comparison of the two reveals that Bitcoin’s breakout following crypto winter has been “extremely bullish” as compared with Amazon’s own tumultuous past, with Ceteris Paribus noting that the coin is “much further ahead than most people imagined in Dec. 2018.” 

Industry perspectives 

Interestingly, veteran trader Peter Brandt has this summer compared the likely fate of altcoins to the casualties of the dot com era, predicting that Bitcoin’s bull rally this will not extend to the cryptocurrency sector as a whole — unlike the historic rally of winter 2017. He remarked that:

“Following 2001-02 tech collapse, dotcoms with real value exploded. The ‘alt’ .coms went bankrupt.”

Meanwhile, Blockstream CEO Adam Back — the inventor of the hashcash proof-of-work (PoW) system later used in Bitcoin’s mining algorithm — has favorably compared the coin with earlier periods of innovation.

“Bitcoin has come much further and much faster than people expected,” he said. “There was a saying in the early dotcom era about ‘internet time,’and [...] bitcoin time [...] seems to be moving even faster.”

This April, Cointelegraph published an expert’s take on the so-dubbed Bitcoin bubble and its historical cousins — both the 17th century Tulip mania and the  dot-com bubble of 1999-2000.

Anti-Corbyn MP who called for a ‘moratorium on invoking Hitler’ defends invoking Hitler

Canary, The Other - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:56

On 17 July, Labour sacked its shadow Brexit minister Dianne Hayter. The peer compared Jeremy Corbyn and his “inner group” – which includes Jewish people – to the “the last days of Hitler”.

While obviously offensive, that hasn’t stopped some people defending her comments. Among them is a prominent anti-Corbyn MP who has previously called for a “moratorium on invoking Hitler in political debate”.

A gross over-reaction to what @HayteratLords actually said – but does reinforce what she did describe, which was a bunker mentality at the top. This epitomises it. Nice to know that swift action is taken to protect @jeremycorbyn’s feelings, but shame we can’t act against racists. https://t.co/u76MqRbjLn

— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) July 17, 2019

Bunker

As reported by HuffPost UK, Hayter said:

Those of you who haven’t [read the book] will have seen the film ‘Bunker’, about the last days of Hitler, where you stop receiving any information into the inner group which suggests that things are not going the way you want…

That seems to be where we are at the moment: having the leadership in a bunker so they are not hearing in those views, that evidence, that is in conflict with what they are trying to do, to the extent that even undermines what they are trying to do.

A Labour spokesperson told HuffPost UK:

Diane Hayter has been sacked from the frontbench position with immediate effect for her deeply offensive remarks about Jeremy Corbyn and his office.

To compare the Labour leader and the Labour Party staff working to elect a Labour government to the Nazi regime is truly contemptible, and grossly insensitive to Jewish staff in particular.

Defenders

Some have defended Hayter. The prominent Corbyn critic Wes Streeting is among them, saying:

A gross over-reaction to what [Hayter] actually said – but does reinforce what she did describe, which was a bunker mentality at the top. This epitomises it.

Streeting has previously said this:

Criticism of the defence

Some predicted a Streeting-style response before it even came:

Wes, obviously pic.twitter.com/VA2KNpTQ1P

— Michael Walker (@michaeljswalker) July 17, 2019

Some clarified why things panned out the way they did:

There are entirely different standards for holding a front bench spokesperson role, where one is expected to share collective responsibility & present a loyal, united front. Your question would only make sense if Hayter had been summarily expelled from the party. She hasn't.

— Ally Fogg (@AllyFogg) July 18, 2019

Aaron Bastani of Novara Media speculated that what Hayter and Streeting said violates the IHRA definition of antisemitism:

There are Jewish people among Corbyn’s staff, and inner circle. Hayter’s comments, according to the IHRA, are anti-Semitic.

Which means Hayter should be suspended. And if Streeting thinks her behaviour is acceptable so should he. pic.twitter.com/Gnz8duGh9o

— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) July 17, 2019

It’s not clear if this would be the case, though.

You could argue that Hayter’s comments about Corbyn’s “inner group” either:

  1. Compares people around Corbyn – some of whom are Jewish – to Nazis.
  2. Denies the Jewishness of anyone close to Corbyn.

The latter would clearly play into the ‘wrong kind of Jews’ trope. Although that trope is antisemitic, it isn’t covered by the IHRA examples. On the former, the IHRA says this on Nazi comparisons:

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis [is antisemitic].

So comparing just any Jewish person to the Nazis would not clearly fall foul of the IHRA definition. But looking at this example:

Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust) [is antisemitic].

You could argue that comparing Corbyn to Hitler does diminish the “scope” of Hitler’s crimes. You may not convince everyone, but the IHRA definitions are open to interpretation and abuse, as the man who defined them said himself.

Insincere

It’s difficult to take Hayter and Streeting seriously when they compare Labour Party staff to Nazis. Or it is for many, anyway. A lot of journalists seem perfectly capable of overlooking this stuff.

Featured image via gilhody/YouTube

By John Shafthauer

Trader Warns, Uniformly-Spooked Central Banks "Is Not Bullish"

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:50

China has almost incessantly eased monetary and fiscal policies this year (to no avail judging by the weakest economic growth in three decades). The Bank of Korea (somewhat surprisingly) cut rates overnight and South Africa's central bank just cut rates this morning. The Bank of Japan's Kuroda reassured investors overnight that they "will continue powerful easing persistently," which follows Draghi's reassurance that 'whatever it takes' is alive and well at the ECB (and uber dovish Lagarde is coming soon) and finally, despite improving macro data and record high stocks, The Fed is cornered into cutting rates no matter what.

As BlackRock recently wrote, if we connect the dots between the macroeconomic data and the “big data” read of analyst sentiment, we arrive at one key conclusion: Market expectations for central bank easing may be too lofty.

Does this level of "easy" financial conditions globally warrant almost universal easing?

One has to wonder, as former fund manager and FX trader Richard Breslow points out, their across-the-board overt dovishness, is simultaneously supporting markets and spooking traders - an uncomfortable mix that will potentially have implications for trading...

Via Bloomberg,

Unknown unknowns tend to have quite an impact when they spring themselves upon markets. But they aren’t something you can plan for other than having a well-balanced portfolio. Balance is a subject that is getting much more air time these days. The heightened interest in precious metals and the unwillingness of bond yields to extend any corrections are a sign that investors get the idea. Receding steadily are the days when pedal to the metal on risk was an aggressive, but arguably defensible, strategy.

Given the tone of the central banks, however, it somehow feels like there is a known unknown out there that clearly has them spooked. While whatever it is may be under-appreciated in the market, it isn’t lost on them. It sure isn’t fear of earnings season. Or a sudden realization that inflation, as they choose to measure it, has failed to rise to the level of their mandates.

Their across-the-board overt dovishness, is simultaneously supporting markets and spooking traders -- an uncomfortable mix that will potentially have implications for trading.

It’s generally a really bad idea to try to fight city hall. Other than on a strictly tactical basis. “Whatever it takes” has proven to be an extraordinary tour de force of forward guidance. When markets deviate from official forecasts they have almost invariably taken this message to heart, not pushed back against it. Further emboldened by the just as effective, but far more dangerous, knowledge that calm in financial conditions isn’t anymore even an unspoken extra mandate.

Trading has been very quiet recently. Obviously, there is the summer effect. It’s also likely because, after what has been a tremendous start to the year for a lot of investors, they are weighing the efficacy of staying in-it-to-win-it or putting some of their gains in the bank in an environment where “uncertainties have increased.”

Paper versus booked profits is a real, not theoretical, consideration. Especially if portfolio managers become unnerved. And you get the sense they may be. Which, to be fair, is an issue that has periodically come and gone.

But this is a world where we must rightly debate how much fuel really is left in the monetary policy gas tanks. There is a distinct possibility, especially if the central banks go for what they think is a shock-and-awe approach that will keep the ball rolling indefinitely, that they are taken as the proverbial greater fools. Providing the liquidity for private investors to take the opportunity to lighten up rather than to buy more of the same.

That wouldn’t make for a placid August. But it will be a case study in liquidity, if not risk, management.

Georgian Rustavi2 TV Journalist Suffers NED-Inspired Diarrhea of the Mouth

New Eastern Outlook - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:47

They will never cease to amaze me, the new depths, even as reported by the BBC … the so-called Georgian media can reach when spurring out carefully scripted hate speech for political ends. Take the case of the Rustavi2 TV station, on a programme aired nationally in Georgia, PS, PostScript, on Sunday July 7th.

This highly rated TV station was once hailed as the voice of freedom, moderation and high journalistic standards, at least according to American media sites and the US State Department, but times do change, and so do not-so-hidden-agendas.

This time the target was Vladimir Putin and his pedigree, and the attack included all kinds of descriptive expletives for his mother and parents graves. They were so bad even a seedy Georgian taxi driver would blush.

There was a counter protest against this behaviour, as likely anticipated by the channel and the scriptwriters of this latest media provocation. But this only convinced Georgians that the Russians were trying to take over the streets, as the allegedly pro-EU United National Movement and its pseudo splinter parties have been doing for the past two weeks.

Little Mind Trying to Express Itself

Georgi Gabunia, who is claimed to be a journalist, is apparently the mouthpiece here, commenting on this and other events: the anti-government protests (really a failed coup) and the repeated efforts to hold Gay Pride rallies, which are all coming together as a perfect storm. What few are taking notice of is that these actions are not homegrown, and are carefully designed to divert public attention from larger and more pressing issues—like the economy and debt (banking) crisis in Georgia, notwithstanding many social problems.

As was to be expected, Russia took exception to the expletive-laden personal attack on Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation. Russian MPs have already threatened to further cut trade amid a deepening diplomatic row between the two neighbouring countries.

Relations having soured last month after a visit by a Russian Orthodox MP to Georgia’s parliament set off angry protests, and this TV stunt would not have been an accident in these circumstances. Many, including myself, considered the reaction as an ambush.

Gabunia also referred to Russian people as “slaves” in his rant, and told them to get out of Georgia. This is in the wake of Georgian government statements that Russians can feel safe here and are welcomed as guests. The remarks prompted complaints the next day from the Kremlin and the Russian foreign ministry, which portrayed Gabunia as a radical and uneducated, and said the Georgian government, had not done enough to control anti-Russian sentiment.

“We believe they are totally unacceptable and deserve condemnation,” said the Kremlin press spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, when asked about the remarks. They were the “consequences of the reluctance or unpreparedness of the authorities to keep extremists at bay right from the beginning”.

Russia’s foreign ministry echoed Peskov’s comments, calling the television monologue a “provocation by radical Georgian forces designed to undermine Russian-Georgian relations”.

“The current outrageous incident is a clear example of where rabid anti-Russian sentiment leads,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Georgian president, Salome Zurabishvili, also urged restraint, condemning “hate speech” in a Facebook post.

Who stands behind such stunts?

Someone paid money and Gabunia said what they wanted him to say.

As one teacher at a Georgian university wrote to me, “they must have given him a lot of money to do so. The head of Rustavi 2 put on a special programme a few minutes later, after the verbal abuse, and apologised for his co-worker. But I think this was also a performance.”

Her student shared something similar … “The stupid puppet did it for $$$, and now ordinary people will suffer. Even in my job I can’t do anything without confirmation from one of the bosses– it is impossible to act in such a way on a TV channel.”

As reported in several media outlets, the Georgian Foreign Ministry also condemned the journalist. “[The comments made on air on “Rustavi 2″] have nothing to do with freedom of speech and [are] a provocation clearly aimed at complicating an already difficult situation in Russian-Georgian relations.”

Russians Did It!

Some are nevertheless quick to lay the blame at the Russians for all that is transpiring. As one graduate student from Caucasus University, which just happens to be initially funded by the US State Department, and currently serves as command center for the United National Party, UNM shared:

“Gabunia’s filthy speech was a planned by Saakashvili and his criminal group here and in Ukraine. I consider them all to be agents of Russia: Gvaramia, Gabunia, Saakashvili, Bokeria, Ugulava… All of them work for the Russians. These pseudo Orthodox groups are also agents of Russian influence too.

“What a horrible picture we see in this country! I think the Russian hybrid war specialists will get a high salary for these 2 months. They have done the job perfectly … they have managed to divide Georgian society.”

Timing is Paramount

Considering the recent efforts to storm and occupy the Georgian Parliament, what is now happening is more than simple a sideshow, a one-off incident.

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili said that such behaviour runs counter to Georgian traditions. Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze also criticized the TV presenter.

But this is not the first such incident associated with Rustavi2, and on earlier occasions, as reported by Georgian Public TV, the same journalist was caught making anti-Christian remarks.

Members of the Georgian March Movement held a protest at the Rustavi 2 building back in March 2018. They slammed the anti-Christian statements made by the same journalist and demanded that Giorgi Gabunia apologise.

Then Niels Scott, the UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia, commented: “We may agree or disagree with what the journalist said, but violence is unacceptable”. He expressed the hope that the government will duly respond to the incident and prevent similar ones occurring in the future.

The Future is Now!

Scott acknowledges that freedom of speech must be protected, and the media should have internal regulation which will determine what is ethical and what is not. Resolution of this issue by violence is absolutely unacceptable

But it is obvious that all these events are part of a larger pattern and zero sum game. Some of the journalists at Rustavi2 have been trained under the guise of various American media development projects, especially those funded by NED, and at least one did an internship with the US based National Security News Agency.

It is only necessary to connect the dots and all will be clear, especially in the light of US and NATO plans for Ukraine and Iran. There is a familiar footprint – the CIA/NED and American dollars.

None of what is happening in Georgia, and especially how it is reported, is about domestic issues and people taking exception to a government that has not delivered on its promises. It is externally funded, and focused on dividing the people and weakening the government in support of outside interests. Hopefully, and the sooner the better, the Georgian people will wake up and take notice of how they are being manipulated.

One only needs to look back at who gave us the Rose Revolution in 2003 or Ukraine’s Maiden Square in 2014. It would come as no surprise to Georgian watchers if they see Victoria Nurland passing out cookies and sandwiches in the centre of Tbilisi in the not-too-distant future, and we know what comes next – blood.

The problem is that you cannot ask a mob to be clever. But at the same time one needs to keep in mind that a mob is ruled by clever people, who need stupid people to follow and do the wicked things.

What does Georgia gain by all of this, protests, Rustavi2 and name calling? It is like 2008, when John McCain and some other people wanted to start a war in Georgia and the region. We already know the players and their backers.

My theory is that America needs to destroy all relations between Georgia and Russia so that it can start a war with Iran. Unfortunately Georgia will be destroyed in that process, if not directly then by refugee flows.

This is why some powers want to destroy the current government and bring back the crooks from before. Then they can do what they want, and it won’t matter how many Georgians and other innocents die in the process. This is not the end of this never ending circus, and perhaps the round will involve blood, Georgian-on-Georgian, so to raise the stakes.

And we will know who really to blame!

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

'Progressive' Dems Threaten To Kill Minimum Wage Bill To Spite Moderates

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:35

If you have been tempted to dismiss the growing progressive insurgency within the Democratic caucus as a mirage produced by a handful of outspoken voices - as Nancy Pelosi has suggested - well, think again.

In what appears to be one of the most deliberate examples yet of the Democrats progressive caucus sabotaging the party's own agenda because it didn't get exactly what it wanted, the Hill reports that some House Dems are prepared to scuttle a bill to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour if a procedural motion from the Republicans is added to the bill.

It's meant to be a gesture to moderate Democrats who have sometimes voted with Republicans on procedural issues: The progressives are in no mood to compromise.

Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan, the co-chairs of the House Progressive Caucus, issued a statement accusing the Republicans of supporting a "disingenuous" motion that would amount to a "poison pill".

"We have no doubt that Congressional Republicans will try to divide the Democratic Caucus with a disingenuous Motion to Recommit. It’s up to all of us to stand unified and reject their bad faith effort to undermine this bill," Pocan and Jayapal said in a statement.

"After consulting with our Members this week, we are confident that any bill that includes a poison pill Republican Motion to Recommit will lack the votes to pass on the House Floor."

According to the Huffington Post, a vote on the minimum wage is slated for Thursday. However, even if progressives don't kill it, the bill will face an almost certain death in the Senate. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, and it hasn't been raised since 2009. It's the effective minimum wage in 19 states.

DARPA To Put Nuclear, Biological And Chemical Detectors In Public Venues

Activist Post - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:34

By MassPrivateI

Can you imagine living in a country that puts surveillance devices in every city and public venue?

What would be the first country that comes to mind? China or the United Kingdom, right?

What if I told you that the United States has joined their ranks?

Recent news stories reveal that the United States is installing multiple types of surveillance devices in cities and public venues.

A recent news release by the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Homeland Security reveal that they are installing nuclear, biological and chemical sensors everywhere.

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The program called, “PReemptive Expression of Protective Alleles and Response Elements” (PREPARE) “addresses four major threat areas: influenza infection, opioid overdose, organophosphate poisoning, and exposure to gamma irradiation.”

The Marvel Universe will be happy to know that our government apparently only wants one Incredible Hulk.

DARPA’s news release, also revealed that DHS and law enforcement used handheld and fixed nuclear, biological and chemical detectors on INDY 500 race car fans.

As some 300,000 cheering race fans packed the stands at this year’s Indianapolis 500, behind the scenes an advanced network of sensors kept constant vigilance, providing security officials real-time awareness of any potential weapon-of-mass-destruction/terror (WMD/WMT) threat.

Did you catch that? DHS and the Metropolitan Police Department used handheld sensors to spy on race car fans in real-time.

“Integrating our fixed and handheld SIGMA radiation detectors, which are now being deployed operationally, with ChemSIGMA sensors and DHS’s bio sensors on the SIGMA+ network demonstrated the networking of sensors for simultaneous, wide-area monitoring of multiple threats,” Wrobel said. “We’d like to thank the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for their support in executing this demonstration. We look forward to working with them and other local, state and federal partners on future pilot activities to further refine the system with the goal of transitioning the capability to DoD and DHS users.”

The Feds have been spying on race car drivers for at least five years,

The Mobile Deployment Detection Program, or MDDP, has been supporting the Indy 500 for five years to augment the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s radiation and nuclear detection capabilities. (To learn more about DHS’s MDDP click here.)

Feds plan to put DARPA sensors in cities and public venues across the country.

“Data collected and lessons learned from the tech demo unit in Indy will be joined with data collected from around the country to support the design, development, and future deployment of the BD21 system to safeguard our nation against biothreats,” said Assistant Secretary, James McDonnell.

If you combine DARPA’s detectors with TSA-PreCheck, facial recognition cameras, HEXWAVE, public transit full-body scannersZ-Backscatter vans, police Knightscope robots,  Police IMSI detectors (Stingrays) Bluetooth detectors, police license plate readers, police digital watch networks (Ring doorbells), US Marine Corps Smart City surveillance, police Opportunity Zonespolice drones, etc., the number of devices law enforcement uses to spy on the public is growing and that should scare everyone.

You can read more at the MassPrivateI blog, where this article first appeared.

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Categories: News for progressives

Boris Johnson paints a picture of Britain post-no-deal Brexit

Canary, The Other - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:22

It’s clear that Boris Johnson hasn’t actually done any planning – whether that be for:

  1. Brexit.
  2. Becoming prime minister.
  3. Life.

He has now fleshed out his vision of what Britain will look like post-no-deal Brexit, though. It’s exactly as ridiculous/terrifying as you’d expect.

No deal. No sense.

Johnson began with all this:

Live : he's finally lost the plot.
He is actually insane.

Shock Daylight Arson Attack On Japanese Anime Studio Leaves 33 Dead

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:20

A popular animation production studio in Kyoto, Japan has gone up in flames after a reported arson attack, leaving a shocking 33 people confirmed or presumed dead, and another 36 injured - some critically - according to Japanese fire department statements. It's Japan's worst case of arson in decades and among the highest mass casualty events in its recent history. 

The three-story building was quickly engulfed after a man sprayed a flammable liquid onto it while reportedly shouting, "You die!" according to local media reports. Many among the deceased had been trapped on the top floor and perished attempting to to get to the roof. 

Police arrested a 41-year-old man who had shouted “die” as he poured what appeared to be petrol around the three-story Kyoto Animation building shortly after 10 a.m. — Reuters

The country's worst case of arson in decades as Kyoto Animation went up in flames. Image source: Kyodo News

The suspect has been detained and is being treated for injuries at a hospital. Early reports didn't give a motive or were able to identify whether he had been an employee of Kyoto Animation Co., possibly disgruntled or engaged in revenge attack. 

An emergency responder told the AFP, "Callers reported having heard a loud explosion from the first floor of Kyoto Animation and seeing smoke." It total some 70 people had been working inside the building at the time of the attack.

アニメ会社で火事 けが人多数か “ガソリンまいたか” 京都https://t.co/dekElcwrhE#nhk_news #nhk_video pic.twitter.com/TNeEksWoLX

— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) July 18, 2019

It was among the deadliest fires in Japan's recent history, as the AP reports:

Authorities say 20 people have been now confirmed dead, with nearly 10 others presumed dead. The outcome makes the case the deadliest fire since a 2001 fire that killed 44 in Tokyo’s Kabukicho entertainment district.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the arson attack “too appalling for words” in a statement posted to social media.

Kyoto Animation works, via Kyodo News

Though nation-wide Japan is marked by low crime incidents, occasional major senseless tragedies rock the country and grab world headlines. 

Kyoto Animation has produced the "Sound! Euphonium" series and the upcoming "Free! Road to the World — The Dream" movie, according to Reuters.

'Leading Economic Indicators' Slump Most In Over 40 Months

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:10

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. tumbled 0.3% in June to 111.5, following no change in May, and a 0.1% rise in April.

This is the biggest MoM drop since January 2016...

  • The biggest positive contributor to the leading index was leading Credit index at 0.12

  • The biggest negative contributor was building permits at -0.18

The ten components of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® for the U.S. include:

  • Average weekly hours, manufacturing

  • Average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance

  • Manufacturers' new orders, consumer goods and materials

  • ISM® Index of New Orders

  • Manufacturers' new orders, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders

  • Building permits, new private housing units

  • Stock prices, 500 common stocks

  • Leading Credit Index™

  • Interest rate spread, 10-year Treasury bonds less federal funds

  • Average consumer expectations for business conditions

"The US LEI fell in June, the first decline since last December, primarily driven by weaknesses in new orders for manufacturing, housing permits, and unemployment insurance claims," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Senior Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board.

"For the first time since late 2007, the yield spread made a small negative contribution. As the US economy enters its eleventh year of expansion, the longest in US history, the LEI suggests growth is likely to remain slow in the second half of the year."

Seems like stocks may have got over their skis again?

Rate-cuts?

Progressives ‘Stand With Ilhan’ Amid New Trump Assault

Truthdig - Thu, 2019-07-18 21:00

A racist chant against Rep. Ilhan Omar by backers of President Donald Trump during a rally in North Carolina Wednesday night was countered by an outpouring of solidarity with the Minnesota congresswoman as progressive activists, members of Congress, and ordinary Americans vowed to continue defending Omar against the right’s bigoted and dangerous attacks.

As Trump supporters chanted “Send her back!”—echoing the sentiment of the president’s recent attacks against Omar and three other progressive lawmakers—the progressive community responded with expressions of support for the congresswoman, sending the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan to the top of Twitter’s trending list in the United States.

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“#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.”

#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress.

Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 18, 2019

During his event Wednesday night, dubbed a “Keep America Great” rally, Trump ramped up his attacks on Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

After the president mentioned Omar, a Somali refugee who Trump has baselessly smeared as an anti-Semite and al-Qaeda sympathizer, the North Carolina crowd erupted in boos and chanted, “Send her back!”

Watch:

Trump fans eventually break out in “send her back!” chants directed toward Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who serves in Congress who Trump viciously smeared. pic.twitter.com/LX3eAEkfci

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 17, 2019

The chant was seen as an appalling preview of what’s to come as Trump doubles, triples, and quadruples down on his racist rhetoric heading in to his reelection campaign.

“That Trump’s fans are fully on board with his racism isn’t surprising—polling conducted following Trump’s latest racist attacks indicated his approval rating among Republicans rose after he made them,” wrote Vox‘s Aaron Rupar. “But the moment is an indication of how ugly the 2020 campaign might get, especially amid reports Trump views making racist attacks on Democratic women of color as a way to drive up turnout among white grievance voters, and thus as a key part of his reelection strategy.”

As news and videos of the chant spread across social media, progressives on Twitter stood with Omar against Trump and his supporters.

“Trump attacks her cause he’s racist but also because she is very, very good at her job. And this is also why the Dem leadership won’t stand up for her. She puts them to shame,” tweeted writer Sarah Jaffe. “We’ve got impressive new members of Congress, but none have been more impressive than Omar in the face of an endless stream of hate and suspicion.”

Others echoed Jaffe:

.@IlhanMN is a national treasure. And the type of leader these times require. We must protect her. #IStandWithIlhan https://t.co/tLdxmldZEr

— OPAL TOMETI

Everything’s Fine Until Suddenly it Isn’t: How a “Leveraged Loan” Blows Up

Naked Capitalism - Thu, 2019-07-18 20:55
A post-mortem of a leveraged loan bust: private equity wins, too bad for everyone holding the bag.

After the Guardian’s latest censorship, John McDonnell can’t believe what the paper’s become

Canary, The Other - Thu, 2019-07-18 20:54

After the Guardian’s latest censorship, shadow chancellor John McDonnell can’t believe what the paper’s become:

 

Has it really come to this, that the ⁦⁦@guardian⁩ is banning the brilliant cartoonist, Steve Bell’s cartoons? pic.twitter.com/9aSvgE5ljb

— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) July 17, 2019

Censored cartoon

The Guardian refused to publish the latest work from its resident cartoonist Steve Bell:

The cartoon seems to be poking fun at a long running contradiction in the mindset of the pro-Israel establishment. It’s an antisemitic trope to suggest a Jewish person must support Israel simply because they are Jewish. Yet, ironically, it’s Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who frequently peddles the idea that his government speaks for all Jewish people:

On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to those who have sought and still seek to destroy us: You have failed and you will fail.

Donald Trump has also said to a room full of North American Jewish people:

I stood with your prime minister at the White House to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights

In other words, the US president was referring to Netanyahu as the prime minister of the Jewish people in the room, even though they were North American.

Nonetheless, it is the Labour membership that is hounded as antisemitic. That’s despite disciplinary cases relating to antisemitism among Labour members since September 2015 amounting to 0.06% of party’s membership.

With that in mind, Bell’s cartoon makes a striking point.

“Some subjects that we just can’t touch?”

Bell appears to have sent an email to the Guardian over the cartoon. In it, he questioned the outlet’s logic for rejecting his work:

You said ‘the lawyers were concerned’, but what about? It’s not antisemitic, nor is it libelous…

I suspect that the real problem is that is contravenes some mysterious editorial line that has been drawn around the subject of antisemitism…

Does the Guardian no longer tolerate content that contravenes its editorial line?

Bell then called out an apparent double standard. On the same day, the Guardian hosted an attack ad against Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism from 64 Labour lords. Bell said:

Why in today’s paper has the Guardian published a highly partisan and personally insulting… advert on page 20 that uses the Labour Party logo, but is clearly not a Labour Party approved advert? I would have thought that there would be far more reason to expect a legal challenge on that than on my… cartoon. Or is it that you don’t want to offend poor Tom but are quite happy to offend poor Jeremy?

And, for Bell, the double standard goes further:

Why on earth did the Guardian publish, then unpublish, a letter in support of Chris Williamson signed by 100 persons identifying themselves as Jewish, including Noam Chomsky? Were they the wrong kind of Jews.

The paper’s contortions on this subject do not do it any credit…

are there some subjects that we just can’t touch?

A Guardian news and media spokesperson told The Canary:

We stand by our decision not to publish the cartoons.

And the outlet said that it removed the letter in support of Chris Williamson because of “errors in the list of signatories provided”.

“Cheerleading the same witch hunt”

On social media, many people were unimpressed with the Guardian:

The Guardian and Steve Bell are heading for the rocks, it seems. Paradoxically it's over the Guardian banning his new cartoon strip. It shows Tom Watson as the 'antisemite-finder general'. Too close to the bone for the Guardian, which has been cheerleading the same witch-hunt pic.twitter.com/Q0yluHNbmF

— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) July 17, 2019

So, @guardian censors a Steve Bell cartoon strip depicting Tom Watson and Benjamin Netanyahu, but provides Margaret Hodge with a platform to once again abuse Jeremy Corbyn as 'a racist and an antisemite'.
Please explain this, @KathViner#DumpTheGuardian https://t.co/cFYhG1Hhe7 pic.twitter.com/IVigGu3xWv

— Media Lens (@medialens) July 17, 2019

At least someone working for the Guardian has integrity. Whether Steve Bell will still have a job after this brutally honest email is another matter. Well done, @BellBelltoons. https://t.co/twfxnT7ce9

— Chuka Umunna's Flip Flops (@WarmongerHodges) July 17, 2019

When allegations of antisemitism damage Corbyn, the Guardian is all over it. But as soon as anyone questions the smear campaign, of which the Guardian has played a key role, the outlet immediately goes on the defensive.

Its latest censorship of Bell only confirms that the Guardian is no friend of the Labour movement. No wonder McDonnell is aghast.

Featured image via Guardian News/ YouTube

By James Wright

"It's Going To Be Staggering": Epstein Associates Prepare For Worst As Massive Document Dump Imminent

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 20:54

As the Jeffrey Epstein case continues to unfold, a laundry list of celebrities, business magnates and socialites who have flown anywhere near the registered sex offender's orbit are now tainted with pedo-polonium. Many of them, such as Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Victoria's Secret boss Les Wexner have sought to distance themselves from Epstein and his activities - however their attempts have fallen on deaf ears considering their extensive ties to the pedophile. 

As Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman notes, "The questions about Epstein are metastasizing much faster than they can be answered: Who knew what about Epstein’s alleged abuse? How, and from whom, did Epstein get his supposed $500 million fortune? Why did Acosta grant Epstein an outrageously lenient non-prosecution agreement? (And what does it mean that Acosta was reportedly told Epstein “belonged to intelligence”?)" 

Also illuminating is a statement by attorney Brad Edwards, who said during a Wednesday press conference seated next to Epstein accuser Courtney Wild that "There were other business associates of Mr. Epstein’s who engaged in improper sexual misconduct at one or more of his homes. We do know that," adding "In due time the names are going to start coming out."

What's more, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will release of approximately 2,000 pages of documents, likely over the next several days, which may reveal sex crimes committed by "numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders," according to the court's three-judge panel.

The documents were filed during a civil defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a former Mar-a-Lago locker-room attendant, against Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. “Nobody who was around Epstein a lot is going to have an easy time now. It’s all going to come out,” said Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies. Another person involved with litigation against Epstein told me: “It’s going to be staggering, the amount of names. It’s going to be contagion numbers.” -Vanity Fair

Other famous names associated with Epstein include LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, who Musk introduced to the registered sex-offender. Zuckerberg spokesman told Vanity Fair "Mark met Epstein in passing one time at a dinner honoring scientists that was not organized by Epstein," adding "Mark did not communicate with Epstein again following the dinner."

Musk told the magazine "I don’t recall introducing Epstein to anyone, as I don’t know the guy well enough to do so, Epstein is obviously a creep and Zuckerberg is not a friend of mine. Several years ago, I was at his house in Manhattan for about 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon with Talulah [Riley], as she was curious about meeting this strange person for a novel she was writing. We did not see anything inappropriate at all, apart from weird art. He tried repeatedly to get me to visit his island. I declined." 

Uh, this is Jeffrey Epstein’s “friend” and alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell with @elonmusk at the Oscars in 2014. These people were everywhere I suppose... pic.twitter.com/kCeIimdbCm

— Linette Lopez (@lopezlinette) July 12, 2019

According to one source, Epstein had a steady stream of who's who's flowing into his Manhattan mansion, including Bill Gates, Larry Summers, and Steve Bannon

"Jeffrey collected people. That’s what he did," the source told Vanity Fair

Thus far, the name most publicly associated with Epstein’s alleged crimes is famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who’s been waging a public battle with David Boies for years. In April, Boies’s client Giuffre sued Dershowitz for defamation after Dershowitz called her a liar (a strategy similar to that of seven of Bill Cosby’s accusers). In the days since the FBI arrested Epstein at Teterboro Airport a week and a half ago, Dershowitz has been going on television and dialing up friends and reporters to profess his innocence and label Giuffre and Boies liars. “I want everything to come out! I’m not afraid of anything because I did nothing wrong,” Dershowitz told me on the afternoon of July 15. 

He called me a minute after I had emailed him for comment. He said he’d been friends with Epstein since 1996, when they were introduced at a party on Martha’s Vineyard by Lynn Forester de Rothschild. “She begged me to meet him. She told me, ‘here’s this smart academic.’” A few days later, Epstein invited Dershowitz to Les Wexner’s 59th birthday party at Wexner’s mansion in New Albany, Ohio. “It’s a tradition that Jeff invited the smartest person he met that year. He told them I was the smartest.” They remained close for years. Dershowitz strenuously denied ever participating in Epstein’s underage sex ring and said he’d only been in Epstein’s presence with his wife. “I got one massage!” he told me. “It was from a 50-year-old Russian woman named Olga. And I kept my shorts on. I didn’t even like it. I’m not a massage guy.” -Vanity Fair

DC on edge

"Epstein bragged about his contacts in Washington," said attorney David Boies. 

According to the report, "One theory circulating among prominent Republicans is that Epstein was a Mossad agent. Another is that the George W. Bush White House directed Acosta not to prosecute Epstein to protect Prince Andrew on behalf of the British government." 

"The royal family did everything they could to try and discredit the Prince Andrew stuff," said Boies. "When we tried to follow up with anything, we were stonewalled. We wanted to interview him, they were unwilling to do anything.

And now we await those documents. Meanwhile, Epstein's bail hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. 

To The Stars

Zerohedge (BFFBT) - Thu, 2019-07-18 19:50

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

Every once in a while, especially at market extremes, it’s good to take a stake of the bigger picture. Now that the market, highly encouraged by the Fed, has baked in a rate cut for July (25bp or 50bp we shall see) a quick look at some yearly charts may provide some eye opening context as to where and when this rate cut is supposed to take place.

I’ve picked 6 well known stocks that may well now be considered stocks that never go down, that go up every single year without fail. Stocks that are heading toward the stars. Hyperbole on my part? You be the judge, but I think the charts speak for themselves. And yes, I’m posting linear charts to highlight how far we’ve gone…..just in 2019.

Don’t hate, appreciate

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