Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine Is Overtaking Miami

Authored by Steve Birr via The Daily Caller,

The rapid influx of synthetic opioids into Florida is sparking an emergency warning from federal agents who say the deadly substances are seeping into cocaine supplies.

Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami said Friday cocaine cut with fentanyl is becoming a widespread problem throughout the state, particularly in South Florida. State drug labs are finding both fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and carfentanil, a fentanyl analog roughly 10,000 times more powerful than morphine used largely as an elephant tranquilizer, reports the Sun Sentinel.

More than 180 samples of cocaine from 21 Florida counties analyzed by forensic scientists in the past two years have tested positive for potent opioids. Miami-Dade by far had the most contaminated cocaine supply, with 69 samples testing positive for opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.

Cocaine-related deaths have doubled since 2012 in Florida and claimed more lives in 2016 than any other drug. Roughly 36 people died each month in Miami-Dade county from cocaine related issues in 2016.

“People are thinking they are taking straight cocaine and in fact they are not,” Justin Miller, intelligence chief for the DEA’s Miami Field Division, told the Sun Sentinel.


“Now you are seeing it cut or mixed with synthetic opioids. That’s really what’s scary out there.”

Since cocaine is often considered a social drug, officials fear users are largely unaware of the potentially fatal risks of fentanyl when using the substance, and “are the most likely to suffer an overdose and death.”

Fentanyl overtook heroin as the deadliest substance in the U.S. in 2016. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and its analogs, claimed roughly 20,100 lives in 2016, up from 9,945 in the previous year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates cocaine overdose deaths increased from roughly 4,000 in 2009 to more than 6,700 in 2015. Officials say cocaine overdose deaths are about to explode in 2017 to nearly 11,000. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein previously warned it only takes 2 milligrams of fentanyl, “the equivalent of a few grains of table salt,” to cause a fatal overdose.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50 and are predicted to kill more than 71,000 people in 2017.


UPS Loses Family’s $850,000 Inheritance, Offers To Refund $32 Delivery Fee

One Canadian man says he’s broke because one of the country’s largest banks has refused to refund a $850,000 bank draft that was lost by UPS during a routine delivery.

However, UPS, which claims it conducted an exhaustive search for the lost package but still turned up empty-handed, has at least offered to refund the $32 delivery fee.

“It was a total surprise,” said Lorette Taylor, the man whose fortune was lost.


“Never in my wildest imagination did I think something like this could happen."

Taylor’s brother, Louis Paul Herbert, said they were finalizing the details of her father’s will last February and ent to a local UPSstore near Cornwall, Ontario, where he was expecting a package from his sister containing his share of the inheritance in a bank draft. But, according to Newsweek, the package never arrived.

“I’m waiting at the UPS store, around 3 p.m. because that’s when they said the guys came in—nothing shows up,” Herbert said.  “I came back in the evening. Nothing shows up…and I’m wondering, ‘What’s happened to my inheritance?'"

Taylor sent the money through UPS from her lawyer about 270 miles away in Georgetown, Ontario, so Herbert wouldn’t have to worry about picking up the money. She obtained the bank draft in February after she said the bank advised it as the safest way to  send the money. We imagine the bank is probably rethinking that particular piece of advice.

TD guaranteed Taylor and her husband, John, that the money would be replaced if the draft was lost, she said.

“They said a bank draft was more appropriate” for that amount of money, Taylor said.

UPS has apologized for losing the package. But, at the same time, mistakes happen, it said.

“While UPS’s service is excellent in our industry, we are unfortunately not perfect. Occasionally, the loss of a package does occur,” spokeswoman Nirali Raval told CBC. “Our records indicate that our team followed UPS protocol and an exhaustive search for this package was completed by our Operations and Security teams. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate the package."

According to Newsweek, the bank is refusing to refund the money unless Taylor signed an agreement to pay them back if someone cashes in the lost draft. She signed the agreement, but says the bank “never paid anyone a dime.” The bank also demanded she let TD put a lien against her house if the draft was cashed, but she refused.

“If the bank really wants indemnity, then UPS should sign it,” she said.

TD sent CBC a general statement that “before we can agree to a replacement or reimbursement, we need appropriate security to be in place."

Herbert said he has maxed out his credit cards and desperately needs the money.

“TD has the money. The money is actually sitting in an account with TD. Nothing has been stolen. It’s there. That’s my inheritance,” he said, adding that if he had the cash, “I would have been retired.”


Putin Called Trump To Thank Him For CIA Tip That Prevented Terrorist Bombings

The Kremlin confirmed today that the Trump administration and Russia have indeed colluded

…To save lives from a looming terrorist attack!

In a 'shocking' report from the Kremlin, the Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked his US counterpart Donald Trump for help in preventing a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.

Data provided by the CIA enabled Russian security services to find and detain terrorists. As SputnikNews reports,

While expressing the Kremlin's gratitude to the CIA director and the agency's employees, Putin has ensured his counterpart that Russian special services would "certainly and immediately" share intelligence information with their US colleagues on the terrorist threat in the country "as it had always been done before."


The information shared by the CIA helped "track, find and detain a group of terrorists planning explosions in the Kazan Cathedral of Saint Petersburg, as well as other public places" in the home city of Putin.



The Putin-Trump talks have been their second conversation by the phone this week, with the presidents discussing the North Korean nuclear issue earlier this week. Commenting on the talks, Trump said that Washington could rely on the Moscow's support on the issue and considers it to be of major importance.


The Kremlin has repeatedly emphasized that Russia is willing to develop ties with the US on an equal basis and with mutual respect, with President Putin saying during his large-scale end-of-year press conference earlier this week that he hopes that Trump "will have opportunities to improve contacts" with Moscow in line with the US president's campaign pledges to "get along" with Russia.

Is this the kind of relationship 'we, the people' want with the 'murdering thug' Putin? Should America's premier spy agency really be 'saving Russian lives'? Is this treason? Or is this a clever plot to make it appear that the world's leading nuclear superpowers may not be quite as entirely hostile and armageddon-prone as Washington neocons (and the left) would like everyone to think?

These and many other questions will need to be answered!


All You Need To Know About Today’s CME Bitcoin Futures Contract Launch

Following last week's 'successful' launch of Cboe Bitcoin futures, CME will begin trading of their own 'more institutional' Bitcoin futures contract today.

Here are some of the differences between the products to be offered by the exchange operators.


  • The Cboe Bitcoin Futures Contract will use the ticker XBT and will equal one bitcoin.
  • The CME Bitcoin Futures Contract will use the ticker BTC and will equal five bitcoins.


  • Both Cboe’s and CME’s bitcoin futures contracts will be settled in U.S. dollars, allowing exposure to the bitcoin without actually having to hold any of the cryptocurrency.
  • Cboe’s contract will be priced off of a single auction at 4 p.m. Eastern time (2100 GMT) on the final settlement date on the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.
  • CME’s contract will be priced off of the CME Bitcoin Reference Rate, an index that references pricing data from cryptocurrency exchanges, currently made up of Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken.


  • Cboe’s XBT contract will trade on CFE, with regular trading hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Eastern time on Mondays and 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m Tuesday through Friday. Extended hours will be 6 p.m. Sunday to 9:30 a.m. Monday, and 4:30 p.m. Monday through to 9:30 a.m. Friday.
  • CME’s BTC will trade on CME Globex and CME ClearPort Sunday to Friday from 6 p.m. – 5 p.m. Eastern time with a one-hour break each day beginning at 5 p.m.


  • Cboe’s contract will clear through the Options Clearing Corporation and a 44 percent margin rate will apply.
  • CME’s contract will clear through CME ClearPort and will have a 35 percent initial margin rate.


  • Cboe said it may list up to four weekly contracts, three near-term serial months, and three months on the March quarterly cycle.
  • CME said it will list monthly contracts for the nearest two months in the March quarterly cycle (March, June, Sept., Dec.) plus the nearest two serial months not in the March quarterly cycle.


  • Cboe will halt trading in its contract for 2 minutes if the best bid in the XBT futures contract closest to expiration is 10 percent or more above or below the daily settlement price of that contract on the prior business day.
  • Once trading resumes, if the best bid in the XBT futures contract closest to expiration is 20 percent or more above or below the daily settlement price of that contract on the prior business day, the futures will be halted for 5 minutes.
  • CME will apply price limits, also known as circuit breakers, to its bitcoin futures of 7 percent, 13 percent, and 20 percent to the futures fixing price. Trading will not be allowed outside of the 20 percent price limit.

Sources: Reuters, Cboe, and CME

The last week was likely a disappointing one for the status-quo-supporters as the 'unleashing' of futures contract that would enable shorting of Bitcoin and bring an end to the "well it's a bubble" surge in cryptocurrency… failed to materialize.

In fact, bitcoin rallied notably, despite compression of the spot-arb, to a new record high…

JPMorgan's Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou notes that thus far the volumes of Bitcoin futures traded have remained rather modest. The first full day of trading on Dec 11 saw around $77mn of volume across the three traded contracts, after which volumes have declined with Dec14 totaling at just over $20mn. This compares to an average Bitcoin transaction volume of $13bn per day over the same period across cryptocurrency exchanges,according daily volume data from coinmarketcap.com. The intraday data available on futures volumes suggest that during the first day of trading, the majority of the volume was concentrated in Asian trading hours (Figure 5).

Since then, the volumes have tended to be concentrated in US trading hours, though on Friday volumes have been more spread out over different time zones.

When trading first started, the most striking feature was the wide basis between the futures contract and the underlying bitcoin prices.

At its widest, the basis was around $2065 based on 5 minute intraday ticks, or more than 12% of the underlying price at the time, and averaged around 8% on Dec 11 overall. Since then, it has gradually declined during the week to average around 3% on Dec 14 and thus far on Dec 15. Given the futures contracts are for settlement in months ahead, some margin will persist as a function of interest rates and convenience yields, i.e. the benefit or premium associated with holding the underlying asset rather than a financial claim on it, similar to that of commodity futures.

There are a number of potential factors that could put upward pressure on this convenience yield, keeping the futures contracts trading above spot prices.

First, cash settlement of the futures contracts arguably provides a somewhat less tight link to the underlying asset than if it were physically settled. In addition, some participants might prefer to have the option of taking physical delivery of Bitcoins, similar to how commodity futures have traditionally been settled, rather than delivery in cash that then has to be converted to Bitcoin separately.


Second, quoted prices for Bitcoin on various cryptocurrency platforms as well as on Bloomberg are typically quoted as an average across a number of exchanges. By contrast, the CBOE futures contracts are settled on prices from only one exchange (Gemini). The use of a single exchange may introduce some additional volatility in the futures price.


Third, there may be some investors who have been unable or unwilling to buy bitcoins on unregulated exchanges that are more willing to use regulated futures exchanges (though e.g. several Japanese Bitcoin exchanges are also regulated), or wish to avoid having to open separate wallet accounts instead preferring to use existing arrangements via futures exchanges. This could see prices at which the futures market clears biased higher than on cryptocurrency platforms until these investors have increased their exposure closer to a desired level.

As CME Bitcoin futures begin trading today, there will be competition between the two exchanges to attract volumes. Similar to the CBOE contract, the CME futures are cash settled, and after reviewing the initial margin requirement ahead of launch the CME raised it this week from 35% to 47% for speculative accounts, modestly higher than the CBOE’s 44% initial margin requirement.

So the question is – what will happen when the bigger CME Bitcoin futures contract starts trading?

CME’s bitcoin contract may not be first, but they are a larger futures clearinghouse and we are looking forward to our clients trading their product on Sunday evening,” Brooks Dudley, vice president of risk in New York at ED&F Man Capital Markets, told Bloomberg.


“Not all market participants have been able to short the Cboe bitcoin futures. We have allowed our clients to go long or short to take advantage of dislocations between the futures and the underlying spot market.

As CoinTelegraph explains, there is a case for the bulls and the bears…

Short theory


It is well known that a minority of Bitcoin holders–the whales— hold a majority of the Bitcoin in circulation. It is rumored that roughly 1,000 people own 40 percent of all the Bitcoin. It is possible that the whales took a short position in their contracts, meaning they believe the price of the Bitcoin futures contract will be below the contracts purchase price at the date of expiration.


Because a whale might have unfathomable amounts of money and the belief that their contract will expire at a value less than the price they purchased the contract for, it would not be surprising if the whales pumped up Bitcoin price in the days leading up to the contract expiration date by buying more Bitcoin, and then sell off a large chunk of it on an exchange at the inflated price – hours before their contract expires.


The whale would experience a capital gain from driving the price up and selling off, and because this could cause Bitcoin price to plummet, the whales futures contract(s) are likely to expire below the contract purchase price, meaning the whales with short contracts would experience a capital gain from their futures contract in addition to that from selling off the actual asset (Bitcoin). In the days shortly after the first futures contracts expire, it would not be surprising to see the whales who took short positions use their profits from trading on exchanges and the futures market to buy back Bitcoin at the discounted price that they might have caused the market to drop down to.


Long theory


Or… it is possible for the opposite to happen. Maybe the whales and investors have taken a long position; meaning they believe the price of the first Bitcoin futures contracts will finish above the price they were purchased at. Instead of selling off a large chunk of their Bitcoin right before the contract expires, the whales would continue to pump up Bitcoin price by buying more Bitcoin leading up to the contract’s expiration to ensure that their contract will finish above its purchase price.


Although this is possible, it does not seem as plausible as the short theory. If whales went long and colluded to pump up Bitcoin price, they would not have the opportunity to buy back coins at a discounted price–this does not seem like a logical position for an experienced investor to be in nine days before CME Group’s first Bitcoin futures contracts expire… unless the whales postpone the short until CME Group’s first expiration date.


Or maybe…


Similar to futures contracts and the majority of Bitcoin price lately, this is pure speculation. Maybe nothing will happen at all and I’m over thinking how the market will react, maybe Jan.17 and 26 will not be significant dates for the Bitcoin economy. However, this is not my first rodeo. And if you’ve been a member of crypto community for quite some time now, you could see that the days leading up to a new or major event in the Bitcoin economy and the days shortly after are more than likely to see significant movements in Bitcoin price.

Finally, we note that, as Bloomberg points out, banks and brokers who are offering access are being cautious.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. demanded some clients set aside collateral equal to 100 percent of the value of their trades, people familiar with the investments said last week.


The guidelines are inclusive of other margin requirements such as Options Clearing Corp.’s 44 percent, required to clear contracts traded at Cboe, and the 47 percent CME is demanding.


It’s not uncommon for a brokerage to impose steeper requirements than the exchange. Interactive Brokers Group Inc., which has said it handled 53 percent of the first day’s trading in Cboe’s bitcoin futures, will require a margin of 50 percent for long investments, and about 240 percent for short selling, based on current rates, according to Interactive Brokers spokeswoman Kalen Holliday.

The settlement price of the CME futures will be based on a weighted average of prices from several exchanges (including Bitstamp, GDAX, itBit and Kraken), rather than a single exchange. The settlement dates of the CME futures will also extend further ahead to March, June, September and December. These factors, along with the fact that the CME is a larger exchange, could give it an advantage in terms of attracting trading volumes.


Bitcoin: The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Bitcoin: The Greatest Story Ever Sold


Cognitive Dissonance



“Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” – Oldest sales trick in the book


“Resistance is futile. You must assimilate” – The Borg



Once I discover what triggers or motivates a person, and then figure out how to activate it, I can sell anything. And it doesn’t even need to be a product or service they previously wanted.

Case in point….life insurance.

I sold life insurance for almost ten years and made a decent living while doing so. I never forced anything on anyone and quickly canceled the policy if they decided later it was not what they wanted.

Very few did. I had the second lowest lapse/cancel rate in my region.

You want the customer to decide on their own volition, and with minimal prompting on your part, that they want; no, they need what you are selling. Once this occurs, you are simply an order taker filling the expressed need(s) of the customer.

To do so you sell the sizzle, not the steak.

I wasn’t selling life insurance. I was solving a financial ‘problem’ everyone has, but often doesn’t recognize as a problem, is in denial of the problem or fears the problem is too big or expensive to solve.

I am not bragging, but rather pointing out something very few people consider. We are all heavily influenced by (psychological warfare) sales techniques deeply rooted in all sales pitches delivered by skilled practitioners. And the number one most powerful technique employed is to plant a seed that leverages the customer’s own emotional triggers. 

Taken to the extreme level, once a person is triggered within carefully controlled and presented parameters, anything is possible. The key is to get them to turn off the critical thinking component of the mind (while letting them believe they have not) and ramp up the emotional coefficient (while supporting their belief they have not) all while encouraging them to believe it’s their own genius idea. So…what does this have to do with Bitcoin?

In a word…everything!




Whether by design or natural evolution, and possibly a combination of the two, the Bitcoin ‘story’ pushes all the right buttons needed to ignite a stampede of exponential proportions. And what a story it is.

A small group of intrepid anarchists/libertarians/misfits/geeks/geniuses led by the mysterious and still unknown Satoshi Nakamoto created and developed Bitcoin and the supporting blockchain to thumb their noses at the global banking hierarchy/governmental control conglomerate/conspiracy, freeing the financially oppressed and liberty suppressed underclass to rebel against the new world order and bring chaos reigning down upon the Empire by undermining their control mechanisms, the insidious central banking cesspools and their worthless fiat currencies.

Or something like that.

If you take several steps back and attempt to see the big picture, it sure sounds to me like a deliciously naughty Tom Clancy novel or even an episode from Star Wars titled “The Rebels Strike Back”. What wannabe star fighter pilot wouldn’t love to stick it to the man by buying Bitcoin and giving all of them the finger in the process?

And if you just so happen to become flighty rich in the process, so much the better. Once you become the richest man on the planet you will rain itty bitty Bitcoin pieces upon the starving masses and save the world from those fat cat bankers and various sociopathic leader scum.

No feat of narcissistic imagination could get any better than this real life fairly tale of a story. Destroy the world to save it while becoming wealthy beyond imagination, all by doing little more than pushing a button and HODLing. Hell, sell the house, the car, even the wife, whatever it takes to buy more Bitcoin to fight the evil elite and save humanity from itself.

Obviously I am exaggerating a bit. But judging from the various pro Bitcoin rationalization articles I’ve read over the last few months of Bitcoin’s parabolic rise, I’m only exaggerating a little bit.

The most valuable currency in the world is belief, whether in an ideology, a physical entity or even a supreme being. If you can combine all those and more, you have on your hands a rip-your-face-off social movement that knows no upper limit…right up until it does.

This is not to say Bitcoin is fake. On the contrary, it is as real as any other ‘currency’ simply because those who own, trade, spend and HODL (Hold On for Dear Life) Bitcoin believe it to be real. This is no different than widespread faith and belief in the almighty US Dollar, Japanese Yen or English pound, other than the official virtual currency(s) is backed by nothing more tangible than the mighty American military machine.

Which, I might delicately add, a military that’s (eventually) turned loose upon any entity, foreign or domestic, that threatens to undermine our faith and belief in the almighty US Dollar.

Let’s see what we have here.

A ‘currency’ that is rather difficult to spend at your local Five and Dime (but becoming less so on a daily basis) therefore you are mostly limited to holding or trading it, is restricted to 21 million units in total of which 12 million is presently available with a float many orders of magnitude less, is blindly supported by a group of rabid HODLing believers who are now filthy rich if they bought it just last week or earlier and which is clearly and obviously manipulated by parties unknown to such a degree the Chinese are insanely jealous, but are quietly taking pictures and furiously scribbling notes.

Do I have that right? Did I miss anything?

Seen from the perspective of a veteran salesman, I’m insanely jealous I didn’t come up with this idea myself. The best I’ve ever managed was to come up with the idea of visiting pet sitters several years before it went mainstream. It was my severe allergy to cats that prevented me from taking it nationwide. Permanent post nasal drip isn’t conducive to begging Silicon Valley angel investors for funding.

Color my cynical, but I’m now old enough to recognize dirty tricks when they come around for a second, third and fourth airing. And Bitcoin stinks of reverse psychology skullduggery squared to the infinite power. But the amazing thing is this doesn’t invalidate Bitcoin in the least, and may actually lend even more sizzle to the bold Bitcoin steak.

I was hoodwinked by an unknown three letter agency and all I got was this stupid tee shirt and several million/billion dollars.

How do you get someone to eat the peas they claim to hate? Dress them up as jelly beans and pay them obscene amounts of fiat to consume them. Pretty soon everyone wants to eat their peas and keep them too.


Jelly Beans


I seem to remember article after article outlining how every official fiat counterfeiter and central bank pusher in the world was proclaiming the virtues of virtual currency while decreeing physical cash, currency and coin as evil incarnate and the devil’s playground. The howls of distrust and revulsion among every single breathing human being, other than the fiat conflicted and consumed, about the loss of cold hard cash were hard to ignore.

Clearly the average Jane and Joe did not wish to part with their small cache of cash, regardless of whether the majority of their actual ‘wealth’ was little more than ones and zeros safely tucked away in the cloud, secure fluffy white cumulonimbus we can only hope.

While Bitcoin has been around since 2009/10, only in the last few months has it entered the public mind with stories of instant millionaires whose road to success was scratching off the winning lottery ticket rather than growing their wealth the old fashioned way, by lying, cheating and stealing as the elite have done.

But while Bitcoin has blazed the trail of consent to more widespread distribution via the greed button, the heavy yeoman’s psyops work is actually being done by the introduction of hundreds of competing cryptocurrencies. While many feel they have missed the Bitcoin train, there is still plenty of virtual crypto lottery tickets, freshly mined daily, that are waiting to be scratched. The once reluctant mind has turned positively manic with excitement.

Mission accomplished.

You see, Bitcoin doesn’t actually need to be fake or fatally flawed in order to act as the messenger carrying the impregnated cryptoseed stealthily implanted, then germinated, within the minds of the teaming masses. The more Bitcoin billionaires there are, the more the masses will yearn for a piece of the crypto pie. Just a few crumbs are all I want dear sir.   

For those unaware of this sales technique, predictive programming is its name and cognitive leverage is its game, a fact well known on Madison Avenue, in Langley, Virginia and Fort Meade, Maryland. The CIA in particular uses this, and many other techniques, on a regular basis throughout the world to depose leaders, ignite revolutions and plant subtle memes to be used now or later.

Only the terminally naïve believe the CIA restricts its nefarious activities to foreign soil. From its perspective, the CIA sees itself as the behind-the-scenes defender of the “American Way” and it will use any and all tools at its disposal to do so. Not only will it manipulate foreign perceptions, but also domestic views and ideas that form our own reality.

Either we make our own reality or we live within someone else’s creation. The CIA and various other three letter agencies are tasked with creating our reality for us and they will use any means available to do so.

Since it is becoming increasingly obvious to anyone with two working brain cells that the almighty dollar is under increasing pressure from all points of the compass, it stands to reason this dollar assault is considered a national security issue and will be confronted, and defended, both directly and indirectly.

Here’s the thing I keep coming back to. While many people love to believe all government is grossly ineffective, incompetent and wasteful (and much of it is) the CIA and others of the same breed employ delicately precise and blunt force trauma overkill to the nth degree. Combine this with a deep state presence whose only goal is to maintain or increase their power and you have a mixed cocktail of intoxicating proportions.

Even if Bitcoin in particular, and blockchain in general, were not created and/or enabled at birth by the CIA/NSA etc. doesn’t mean they remain pure as the Virgin Mary now. If Bitcoin really is such a threat to the established financial empire as the cryptomaniacs claim it to be, why hasn’t the establishment taken direct and effective steps against it long before now?

Regardless if the blockchain is a distributed network that cannot be stopped, all one must do is outlaw the use and/or conversion of Bitcoin to the local coin of the realm to immediately stop its rapid, and profitable, propagation. Since this has not occurred to date, one must surmise there is a reason for not doing so.

All the police state needs to do is cry national security and the curtain comes down on the Bitcoin stage (d) production. You do not need to destroy the rebel force in order to render it ineffective.

While the deep state and its minions are rarely of one mind about a multitude of issues, witness the constant infighting and jockeying for position, nothing clears the mind or clarifies its purpose like the certain knowledge of imminent demise. If Bitcoin, blockchain and the hundreds of other cryptocurrencies were the mortal danger loudly advertised by the Bitcoin ideologies, it would be squashed in a New York minute.

You don’t f**k with Mother Nature nor Father Fiat.

I fully and readily admit I have no crystal ball insight into the machinations of the deep state, nor any awareness of its true goals and end game. Nor must I know in order to smell the skunk in the blockchain woodpile.

All threats to the Empire, whether real, imagined or artificially created, are directly and/or indirectly confronted into extinction or assimilation. An aware and open-minded examination of the social revolts and uprisings of the 60’s and 70’s in the US exposes the counter intelligence programs of subversion, infiltration, control and even genesis of these threats that rendered all of them ineffective, distracted, distorted and ultimately mute.

Since Bitcoin and blockchain has not to date been significantly impeded, one must surmise it is serving the purpose of the Empire to exist. As hurtful to the ideology and the ego as this thought might be, I strongly suspect Bitcoin and its ilk is not what they appear to be.

Still, that doesn’t prevent you or me from becoming filthy rich in the process. Go for the gusto my friend, drink deep from the intoxicating waters of easy wealth. Just remember something many will forget in their mad rush to Bitcoin/blockchain riches.

Money changes people in fundamental ways. It is the ultimate mind virus, bar none. The easiest and most effective way to dull the rebel mind is to shower it with wealth and power. The catch is you must become one with the Empire to enjoy it.

Resistance is futile. You must assimilate.



Cognitive Dissonance


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Remember The 2016 “Russian Attack” On The Internet? (Spoiler Alert: It Wasn’t Them)

Authored by Constantin Gurdgiev via True Economics blog,

In 2016, a bot, named Mirai, wrecked havoc over the global internet with massive waves of DoS attacks on anything, from French telecoms, to U.S. web services, to Russian banks, to African airports and beyond.

Per Wired, "As the 2016 US presidential election drew near, fears began to mount that the so-called Mirai botnet might be the work of a nation-state practicing for an attack that would cripple the country as voters went to the polls."

Of course, the minute there is any suspicion of the 'nation-state' actors behind the attack, we know that is the code word for 'the Russians'.

And, of course, given the sheer number of 'security research' lackeys eagerly awaiting for the U.S. or UK or EU dollars/pounds/euros in grants and subsidies, the 'Russian' spectre loomed large in the wake of Mirai havoc. Here's a snapshot:

But, in the end, the famous DoS attack was down to just three U.S. studentshttps://www.wired.com/story/mirai-botnet-minecraft-scam-brought-down-the-internet/?mbid=social_twitter.

Which, sort of, begs a question: how many 'security experts' of the 'Russian spectre looms large over everything' variety have lost their lucrative contracts with the Government, the media and the think tanks that provide platforms to the endless Russophobic hysteria?

My bet is: none.

Like in the good old days of the Soviet empire, you can't get fired for lying in Pravda…


Top FBI And DOJ Officials To Be Subpoenaed: McCabe, Strzok, Page In The Crosshairs

House Judiciary Committee member Jim Jordan (R-OH) says he’s gotten a commitment from committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to issue subpoenas for several key officials at the FBI and Justice Department implicated in disturbing revelations of political bias against President Donald Trump.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House and Senate committees have turned their focus in recent weeks to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, counterintelligence investigator Peter Strzok, FBI attorney Lisa Page, former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie – who worked for Fusion GPS, the firm behind the “Trump-Russia” dossier and several other concurrent campaigns to smear Donald Trump in an effort funded in large part by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. 

Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr

“Chairman Goodlatte has told us he is going to subpoena those individuals,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), while speaking to a Fox panel on’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine (longer clip here).”

GOP lawmakers have honed in on highly troublesome revelations over the last several weeks which paint a clear picture of a highly politicized FBI actively assisting Hillary Clinton as candidate for president, while using an unproven dossier which relied on the cooperation of Kremlin officials to smear then-candidate Donald Trump. 

Of recent interest to investigators is a trove of around 10,000 text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok to his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page showing extreme bias against then-candidate Trump, while both of them were actively engaged in the Clinton email investigation and the Trump-Russia investigation. One text message in particular turned heads, in which Strzok referenced an “insurance policy” in case Trump were to be elected. Strzok wrote to Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out to consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.” It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40….”

In a Thursday letter released by Senate Homeland Security and Govt. Affairs chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI), it was revealed that the FBI went far beyond what was previously known in regards to editing the Clinton exoneration statement. Under the lead of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, drafts of Clinton’s exoneration were passed around the office and edited to shift the conclusion from criminal conduct to “extreme carelessness.” 

GOP lawmakers also claim the FBI launched its investigation into Russian collusion based on the 34-page dossier created by opposition research firm Fusion GPS – which hired the CIA wife of a senior DOJ official to assist in digging up damaging information on 5then-candidate Trump. 

A report last Monday by Fox News revealed that Nellie Ohr, the wife of recently demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS – the firm behind the Trump-Russia dossier. It was also later uncovered by internet sleuths that Nellie Ohr represented the CIA’s “Open Source Works” group at a 2010 working group on organized crime, which she participated in along with her husband Bruce and Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS

Meanwhile, nervous Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are growing increasingly nervous that the Mueller probe and the current Russian interference investigations in the Senate and the House will be shut down – which Trump Attorney Ty Cobb refuted in a statement to Politico, telling them “As the White House has repeatedly and emphatically said for months, there is no consideration at the White House of terminating the special counsel.” 

And with word now that top FBI and DOJ officials are about to be slapped with subpoenas, shutting down the investigations now would deprive the American public of quite the show as the noose grows ever tighter. 

TIMELINE OF EVENTS (5/3/2016 – 1/10/2017)

  • 05/03/16 – Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee for the office of president
  • 05/03/16 – Clinton IT specialist Paul Combetta admits to lying to the FBI about erasing emails using BleachBit but is not charged for the crime
  • 05/05/16 – Washington Post reports there is “scant evidence” of a crime committed by Clinton through her use of a private email server
  • 05/15/16 – Nellie Ohr, wife of DOJ executive Bruce Ohr, is hired by Fusion GPS, presumably to work on Russian “Dossier”
  • 05/16/16 – Draft statement by FBI directory Comey exonerating Clinton is circulated to FBI leadership, long before they are done with their investigation. 
  • 06/10/16 – FBI agent Peter Strzok changes wording of Clinton charges from criminal designation “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless”
  • 06/15/16 – Ex-MI-6 agent Christopher Steele is hired by Fusion GPS as part of an opposition research campaign against Donald Trump – funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC
  • 06/20/16 – Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele releases first of 17 memos that comprise the Russian “Dossier” – alleging that Trump used prostitutes during a 2013 visit to Moscow and that the Kremlin was blackmailing him with evidence. 
  • 06/27/16 – A.G. Loretta Lynch secretly meets with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac; they later deny discussing the investigation
  • 07/02/16 – Clinton interviewed by FBI agent Peter Strzok’s team for 3.5 hours; she is not placed under oath nor recorded (WaPo)
  • 07/05/16 – FISA Court denies FBI request for surveillance of Trump campaign
  • 07/05/16 – Fusion GPS contractor Christopher Steele shares Russian “Dossier” with the FBI
  • 07/05/16 – FBI director Comey recommends no charges against Hillary Clinton for use of her email server
  • 07/06/16 – A.G. Loretta Lynch accepts Comey’s recommendation not to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information
  • 07/10/16 – DNC staffer Seth Rich murdered in as yet unsolved case
  • 07/22/16 – Wikileaks releases archive of emails stolen from Democrat National Committee (DNC)
  • 07/25/16 – FBI announces it will investigate the DNC hack revealed by Wikileaks
  • 07/28/16 – Strzok sends text message referring to something “Opened on Trump?” 
  • 07/30/16 – FBI opens counterintelligence investigation into possible Russian “collusion” with Trump campaign led bt Peter Strzok
  • 08/06/16 Lisa Page texts Strzok; “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” to which Strzok replies “I can protect our country at many levels.”
  • 08/15/16 – FBI investigator Strzok emails mistress referencing an “insurance policy” against Trump becoming president
  • 08/16/16 – FBI writes Congress defending decision not to prosecute Clinton, stating it was ‘extreme carelessness’ and not ‘gross negligence’
  • 08/25/16 – CIA director James Brennan informs Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid about possible Russian “collusion” with Trump campaign
  • 09/05/16 – Hillary Clinton accuses Russia of interfering with U.S. election
  • 09/09/16 – Donald Trump Jr. meets with Russian attorney after being lured by the promise of opposition research
  • 09/15/16 –  FISA Court approves FBI request for surveillance of Trump campaign based upon Russian “Dossier”
  • 09/21/16 – New York Times, Washington Post, and Yahoo News verbally briefed on Russian “Dossier” according to court filings
  • 09/23/16  – Yahoo News publishes report based upon Russian “Dossier” and possible collusion with Trump campaign
  • 09/28/16 – Comey claims his decision to exonerate Clinton was not made until after her interview with FBI agents
  • 10/07/16 – Obama administration officially accuses Russia of meddling in 2016 presidential election
  • 10/15/16 – FBI meets with Fusion GPS contractor Steele and offers to pay him for more Russian “Dossier” material
  • 10/28/16 – Comey reopens investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server due to information found on Anthony Weiner’s computer
  • 10/30/16 – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid writes to James Comey asking him to release “explosive” information on Russian “collusion”
  • 10/31/16 – Fusion GPS contractor Steele feeds information to David Corn of Mother Jones that ties Trump to Russian “collusion”
  • 10/31/16 – Clinton campaign issues statement, citing Slate, about server in Trump Tower that secretly communicated with Russia (Fusion GPS was behind this)
  • 11/06/16 – Comey exonerates Clinton again after Weiner documents are reviewed “around the clock”
  • 11/08/16 – Donald Trump is elected President of the United States
  • 11/15/16 – DOJ executive Bruce Ohr meets in secret with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson regarding Russian “Dossier”
  • 11/15/16 – FBI agrees to continue fund Steele and his “Dossier”
  • 11/18/16 – Sen. John McCain told of the Russian “Dossier”; a copy is sent to McCain and key aides
  • 12/09/16McCain provides a copy of Russian “Dossier” to FBI director James Comey
  • 12/09/16 – President Obama orders intelligence community to investigate Russian influence on U.S. election
  • 01/06/17 – Comey briefs President-Elect Trump on existence of “salacious and unverified” Russian “Dossier”
  • 01/10/17 – U.S. intelligence chiefs Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Rogers brief Obama on Russian “Dossier” and attempts to “influence” Trump
  • 01/10/17 – BuzzFeed releases full Fusion GPS “Dossier

(h/t ZeroHedge user nmewn)


Never Mind Tea Leaves, Here’s A Strong Signal from the Economic Dashboard

Authored by Daniel Nevins via FFWiley.com,

We’ve been seeing more and more commentaries discussing bad stuff that can happen when the Fed tightens policy and, as a result, the yield curve flattens. (See, for example, this piece from Citi Research and ZeroHedge.)

No doubt, the Fed’s rate hikes will lead to mishaps as they usually do—in both markets and the economy.

But most forecasters expect the economy to expand through next year, believing that the Fed and the yield curve aren’t yet restrictive enough to trigger a recession.

We won’t make a full-year 2018 forecast here, but we’ll share one of our “dashboard” charts that supports the consensus view for at least the first half of the year. With one methodological change to a chart we published in August, we’ll look at the following indicators, which together have an excellent track record predicting the business cycle:

The idea is that the economy tends to turn over when investors lose money, borrowers find it hard to obtain financing, business earnings weaken, and banks struggle with a flat or inverted yield curve. Here’s a history of all four of those indicators in the quarter before and the quarter of the last nine business cycle peaks, although with less data for lending standards, which the Fed began surveying for the first time in mid-1990:

With that history as our background (in charcoal gray), our dashboard highlights the most recent data, along with our fourth quarter estimates for asset price gains and S&P 500 earnings growth:

In our view, the above chart is the best way to judge recession risks—with a strong reminder of how current conditions compare to the conditions that shaped past business cycles. That comparison looks favorable as of mid-December, just as it did in August. Here are our takeaways, moving from right to left along the chart:

  • Although the yield curve is likely to become more recessionary as the Fed continues to tighten, it’s not yet as flat or inverted as it normally is at business cycle peaks.
  • Business earnings aren’t yet recessionary, either, although gains over the last four quarters reflect depressed earnings in 2015 and 2016, which isn’t quite as bullish a signal as it would be if earnings had risen consistently over that period.
  • Outside of the commercial real estate sector, lending conditions aren’t constraining borrowing growth, and even CRE lending conditions aren’t restrictive when compared to the last three business cycle peaks.
  • Asset gains have been stellar over the past four quarters, far above the flat or declining performance that nearly always precedes business cycle peaks.

We think the last point is the most convincing. Of all the “rules” in economics, the rule that asset prices lead the business cycle is as reliable as any, and they’re a long way from recessionary as of this writing. In fact, if Q4’s gains match the average gains over the past four quarters, real asset gains for 2017 will reach 25% of personal income. That’s three months of personal income from asset gains alone—hardly an environment where households stop spending and the economy slips into recession.

But eventually, monetary tightening will have greater effects, and the outsized asset gains of recent years will become more burden than boon. That’s notwithstanding Janet Yellen’s FOMC press conference on Wednesday, where she downplayed risks posed by soaring asset prices. Yellen’s parting words are certainly welcoming of debate, and we recommend the responses here and here, as well as this recent report from the Office for Financial Research. But for this article, we’ll just couple our bullish economic view for H1 2018 with a chart we first shared last week:

Although the chart includes only seven business cycles to keep it readable, the full history shows asset gains, adjusted for inflation, jumping above those of any other cycle since the Fed began recording gains in 1947. It paints a bigger picture behind the “virtuous” loop that’s currently fueling the economy and thus far impervious to the Fed’s snail-pace tightening. And we think it describes the greatest challenge Yellen’s successor will face, although not an immediate challenge. In our view, the tightening we’ve seen to date is still too new and too tepid to threaten the usual damage, especially with the dashboard readings above and with fiscal policy set to loosen. But further out, we suggest trusting the history of how long-running virtuous loops normally unwind.

*  *  *

Author’s note: For more of the details and rationale behind our “dashboard” or “checklist” methods of forecasting, please see our book Economic for Independent Thinkers.


Whitney Tilson: “I’m Calling The Top Of The Cryptocurrency Madness”, Admits Bitcoin Could Hit $1 Million

There is just one thing that cryptocurrency bulls love hearing more than Dennis Gartman bashing bitcoin, and that is Whitney Tilson bashing bitcoin. The reason is the same: just like Gartman, Tilson has rarely if ever been right about anything -in fact, it is almost safe to say that he has been largely wrong about everything – with the added bonuses that unlike Gartman, Tilson has blown up not one but two “hedge funds” (which really were copycats of other hedge funds).

So here is the good news: in his latest letter to… well, it’s not clients as he no longer has those, so probably people who don’t know they can unsubscribe from his spam mass mailings, Tilson writes: “I’m calling the top of the bitcoin/cryptocurrency madness.” Naturally, the email was sent out when bitcoin was about $1,000 lower.

Here are Tilson’s “arguments” for why the top of bitcoin is here… even if as he concedes, “bitcoin could go to $1 million” (how Whitney reconciles those two is anyone’s guess).

I’m calling the top of the bitcoin/cryptocurrency madness


1) In the past week, I’ve been asked about bitcoin by a parade of the least-knowledgeable investors imaginable – and the only times such foolishness has happened before in my 18-year career were at the peak of the internet and housing bubbles, so I’m calling a top right now.


Blockchain technology is real in the same way that the internet was real back in 1999 and housing prices tend to go up in the mid-2000s – in other words, a good idea taken to absurd extremes is NOT a good idea!


That said, the greed and speculative nature of humans is inherently unpredictable, so for all I know bitcoin could go to $1 million.


But I do know the ultimate outcome: smoldering rubble, a lot of finger-pointing (where were the regulators?!), and a lot of tears and empty bank accounts, especially among those who can least afford it.


I don’t often quote our Malignant Narcissist in Chief, but I will here: “Sad…”


2) Trust me: run, don’t walk, to watch this hilarious, clever four-minute Daily Show segment on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: The Rise of Bitcoin and Other Stupid Meme Currencies, https://youtu.be/nRItzSX0aCM


Here’s the opening by Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng: “Cryptocurrency: is it some fake sh*t some fu*king nerds made up on the internet to steal our money, or is it the future of finance? There’s no way all these people buying cryptocurrency have any idea what the hell they’re investing in!”


Other brilliant moments:


CNBC guest: “If you imagine bitcoin as a gold coin, Ethereum is a coin that has a magic spell in it.”

  • Chieng sits in a bubble bath explaining things (a scene stolen from The Big Short) (bonus: full frontal nudity – alas, the best part blurred!)
  • Chieng asks Joe Luben, co-founder of Ethereum: “Why do so many suckers on the internet, excuse me, sorry I mean people, believe fake money has value?” He played it straight, answering: “Ether is real…”
  • Chieng says “This is America, so I decided to create my own cryptocurrency, but that has to be an incredibly complex…” [on the screen, he goes to a web site called “Create your own Cryptocurrency” (I just Googled it and there are 1.83 million hits!)] and concludes: “I did it! It literally takes 10 minutes to go on a website and create your own coin.”

Then he tries to pay a sidewalk hotdog vendor and a taxi driver with his new Chieng-coin, and when the taxi driver throws him out of the cab, he lectures him: “Remember this moment, when you had a chance to jump on Chieng-coin and you didn’t!” – hilarious!!!

Meanwhile, bitcoin hit a new all time high of just shy of $20,000 earlier on Sunday, and just hours before the CME becomes the second US exchange to launch bitcoin futures as institutional adoption of the world’s best – and most volatile – investment grows exponentially.


Family Rejects Canadian Billionaire Couple’s Death Was Murder-Suicide

In a gruesome incident that has shocked the Canadian business community, Barry Sherman, the billionaire founder of Canadian generic drug Apotex Inc, and his wife Honey, were found dead yesterday at their Toronto home. Immediately after the news broke, anonymous police and press reports noted that the deaths were "suspicious" and some suggested that it might've been a murder-suicide. As we noted on Saturday, according to a preliminary police report, there were no signs of forced entry.

Honey and Barry Sherman

However, while investigators are still awaiting the results of autopsies performed on the couple, their children have expressed outrage at the media’s willingness to jump to conclusions.

Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumors regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths.


We are shocked and think it's irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true. The Shermans were among Canada's most generous philanthropists.

Indeed, the Sherman’s gifts included multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honor. They also gave generously to Jewish organizations.

They even hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a Liberal party fundraiser in 2015. In a statement released yesterday, Trudeau said he and his wife were “saddened” by the Sherman’s deaths, and offered “our condolences” to their friends and family.

Sherman founded generic drugmaker Apotex in 1974, and helped nurture it into a giant with 11,000 employees world-wide, including more than 6,000 in Canada.

The company released a statement on Saturday praising Sherman’s philanthropic efforts and what it described as his vision for health care.

Patients around the world live healthier and more fulfilled lives thanks to his life's work, and his significant impact on health care and health care sustainability will have an enduring impact for many years to come, the statement read.  

However, as the Daily Mail points out, not everybody harbored warm sentiments toward the Shermans. Indeed, Barry faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.

Barry Sherman was ranked 363 on Forbes richest people in the world list; the publication put his net worth at $3.7 billion, ranking him just above eBay billionaire Jeffrey Skoll. He was believed to be the 5th richest person in Canada.

“They were extremely successful in business, but also very, very giving people,” former Ontario Premier Bob Rae told CBC. “It’s going to be a very, very big loss.”

The Shermans recently listed their home for sale for nearly C$7 million ($5.4 million). A real estate agent discovered the bodies in the basement while preparing for an open house.





Trump Attorney Quashes Rumors Of Impending Mueller Firing

An Attorney for President Trump has vehemently denied rumors that special counsel Robert Mueller will be fired over revelations of politically motivated malfeasance by the FBI towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump, including disturbing text messages which were sent between top FBI investigators implying the Trump-Russia investigation may have been launched as an “insurance” policy in the event Trump won the 2016 election. Furthermore, GOP lawmakers have asserted that FBI top brass relied on a salacious and unverified “dossier” to launch the Trump-Russia investigation. Also noted by critics is the fact that Robert Mueller’s “right hand man,” Aaron Zebley represented Clinton IT staffer Justin Cooper – a Bill Clinton aide who “jerry-rigged” Hillary Clinton’s “private, illegal” server in her Chappaqua home. 

Peter Strzok, Robert Mueller, Ty Cobb

Despite all of that, Trump attorney Ty Cobb told Politico, “As the White House has repeatedly and emphatically said for months, there is no consideration at the White House of terminating the special counsel.” 

Earlier in the day we reported that Trump transition team attorney Kory Langhofer sent a seven-page complaint to House and Senate oversight committees investigating the 2016 election to lodge a complaint that the special counsel improperly obtained “many tens of thousands” of emails from the Trump transition team from the General Services Administration – the government agency responsible for setting up and administering the transition email system which uses a “ptt.gov” address. Kanghofer says these emails were obtained through “unlawful conduct,and that the Trump team had been segregating emails with “Executive Privilege” in anticipation of giving the rest to Mueller’s team. 

On Friday, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was a rumor floating around DC that President Trump will fire Mueller before Christmas, but after congress leaves for winter recess

“The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller,” Speier told California’s KQED News.

“We can read between the lines I think,” Speier told KQED, adding “I believe this president wants all of this shut down. He wants to shut down these investigations, and he wants to fire special counsel Mueller.”

Speier joined Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) over concerns that the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation would be shut down by the end of the year. 

Reps Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA)

Schiff shot off a series of nine tweets explaining why he’s “increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation,” pointing to the fact that “Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on.” 

Read the rest by clicking on Schiff’s tweet and scrolling down. 

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denied rumors that President Trump was considering firing Mueller in October, stating “There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” adding “I think we should let the process play through before we start looking at that.

Perhaps GOP lawmakers would be more comfortable with Mueller’s special counsel if Attorney General Jeff Sessions would appoint a second special counsel to investigate the FBI? Alas, it looks like that may be nothing more than wishful thinking for the time being. 


Debunking The Myths About An Attack On North Korea

Submitted by The Saker,

First, the bragging dummies

Trump and Haley are still at it.  They want to force China to take action against the DPRK by threatening to take North Korea “into their hands” if China refuses to comply.  Haley said, “But to be clear, China can do more, (…) and we’re putting as much pressure on them as we can. The last time they completely cut off the oil, North Korea came to the table. And so we’ve told China they’ve got to do more. If they don’t do more, we’re going to take it into our own hands and then we’ll start to deal with secondary sanctions.”

First, let’s reset this scene in a kindergarten and replay it.

Kid A has a fight with Kid B.  Kid A threatens to beat up Kid B.  Kid B then tells Kid A to go screw himself.  Kid A does nothing, but issues more threats.  Kid B keeps laughing.  And then Kid A comes up with a brilliant plan: he threatens Kid C (who is much much bigger than Kid B and much much stronger too!) by telling him "if you don’t make Kid B comply with my demands, I will take the issue in my own hands!".  The entire schoolyard erupts in hysterical laughter.

Question: how would you the gauge the intelligence of Kid A? Anyway…

This would all be really funny if this was a comedy show.  But what this all is in reality is a slow but steady progression towards war.  What makes this even worse is the media’s obsession with the range of North Korean missiles and whether they can reach Guam or even the USA.  With all due respect for the imperial “only we matter” (and nevermind the "gooks"), there are ways “we”, i.e. the American people can suffer terrible consequences from a war in the Korean Peninsula which have nothing to do with missile strikes on Guam or the USA.

Image via The Saker

The lucrative target: Japan

This summer I mentioned one of the most overlooked potential consequences of a war with the DPRK and I want to revisit this issue again.  First, the relevant excerpt from the past article:

While I personally believe that Kim Jong-un is not insane and that the main objective of the North Korean leadership is to avoid a war at all costs, what if I am wrong?  What if those who say that the North Korean leaders are totally insane are right? Or, which I think is much more likely, what if Kim Jong-un and the North Korean leaders came to the conclusion that they have nothing to lose, that the Americans are going to kill them all, along with their families and friends?  What could they, in theory, do if truly desperate?  Well, let me tell you: forget about Guam; think Tokyo!  Indeed, while the DPRK could devastate Seoul with old fashioned artillery systems, DPRK missiles are probably capable of striking Tokyo or the Keihanshin region encompassing Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe including the key industries of the Hanshin Industrial Region.  The Greater Tokyo area (Kanto region) and the Keihanshin region are very densely populated (37 and 20 million people respectively) and contain an immense number of industries, many of which would produce an ecological disaster of immense proportions if hit by missiles.  Not only that, but a strike on the key economic and financial nodes of Japan would probably result in a 9-11 kind of international economic collapse.  So if the North Koreans wanted to really, really hurt the Americans what they could do is strike Seoul, and key cities in Japan resulting in a huge political crisis for the entire planet.  During the Cold War we used to study the consequences of a Soviet strike against Japan and the conclusion was always the same: Japan cannot afford a war of any kind.  The Japanese landmass is too small, too densely populated, to rich in lucrative targets and a war would lay waste to the entire country. This is still true today, only more so.  And just imagine the reaction in South Korea and Japan if some crazy US strike on the DPRK results in Seoul and Tokyo being hit by missiles!  The South Koreans have already made their position unambiguously clear, by the way. As for the Japanese, they are officially placing their hopes in missiles (as if technology could mitigate the consequences of insanity!).  So yeah, the DPRK is plenty dangerous and pushing them into their last resort is totally irresponsible indeed, nukes or no nukes.

Yet, for some reason, the western media rarely mentions Japan or the possible global economic consequences on a strike against Japan.  Very few people know for sure whether the North Koreans truly have developed a usable nuclear weapon (warhead and missile) or whether the North Korean ballistic missile truly can reach Guam or the USA.  But I don’t think that there is any doubt whatsoever that North Korean missile can easily cover the roughly 1000km (600 miles) to reach the heart of Japan.  In fact, the DPRK has already lobbed missiles over Japan in the past.  Some red blooded US Americans will, no doubt, explain to use that the US THAAD system can, and will, protect South Korea and Japan from such missile strikes.  Others, however, will disagree.  We won’t know until we find out, but judging by the absolutely dismal performance of the vaunted US Patriot system in the Gulf War,  I sure would not place my trust in any US made ABM system.  Last, but not least, the North Koreans could place a nuclear device (not even a real nuclear warhead) on a regular commercial ship or even a submarine, bring it to the coast of Japan and detonate it.  The subsequent panic and chaos might end up costing even more lives and money than the explosion itself.

Then there is Seoul, of course.  US analyst Anthony Cordesman put is very simply “A battle near the DMZ, directed at a target like Seoul, could rapidly escalate to the point at which it threatened the ROK’s entire economyeven if no major invasion took place."

[Sidebar: Cordesman being Cordesman, he proceeds to hallucinate about the effects of a DPRK invasion of the ROK and comes up with sentences such as “Problems drive any assessment of the outcome of a major DPRK invasion of the ROK, even if one only focuses on DPRK- ROK forces. The DPRK has far larger ground forces, but the outcome of what would today be an air – land battle driven heavily by the overall mobility of DPRK land forces and their ability to concentrate along given lines of advance relative to the attrition technically superior ROK land and air forces could inflict is impossible to calculate with any confidence, as is the actual mix of forces both sides could deploy in a given area and scenario“.  Yup, the man is seriously discussing AirLand battle concepts in the context of a DPRK invasion of the South!  He might as well be discussing the use of Follow-on-Forces Attack concept in the context of a Martian invasion of earth (or an equally likely Russian invasion of the Baltic statelets!).  It is funny and pathetic how a country with a totally offensive national strategy, military doctrine and force posture still feels the need to hallucinate some defensive scenarios to deal with the cognitive dissonance resulting from clearly being the bad guy.]

Why does Cordesman say that?  Because according to a South Korean specialist “DPRK artillery pieces of calibers 170mm and 240mm “could fire 10,000 rounds per minute to Seoul and its environs.”   During the war in Bosnia the western press spoke of “massive Serbian artillery strikes on Sarajevo” when the actual rate of fire was about 1 artillery shell per minute.  It just makes me wonder what they would call 10,000 rounds per minute.

The bottom line is this: you cannot expect your enemy to act in a way which suits you; in fact you should very much assume that he is going to do what you do not expect and what is the worst possible for you.  And, in this context, the DPRK has many more options than shooting an ICBM at Guam or the USA.  The nutcases in the Administration might not want to mention it, but an attack on the DPRK risks bringing down both the South Korean and the Japanese economies with immediate and global consequences: considering that rather shaky and vulnerable nature of the international financial and economic system, I very much doubt that a major crisis in Asia would not result in the collapse of the US economy (which is fragile anyway).

We should also consider the political consequences of a war on the Korean Peninsula, especially if, as is most likely, South Korea and Japan suffer catastrophic damage.  This situation could well result in such an explosion of anti-US feelings that the US would have to pack and leave from the region entirely.

How do you think the PRC feels about such a prospect?  Exactly.  And might this not explain why the Chinese are more than happy to let the USA deal with the North Korean problem knowing full well that one way or another the USA will lose without the Chinese having to fire a single shot?

The terrain

Next I want to re-visit a threat which is discussed much more often: North Korean artillery and special forces.  But first, I ask you to take a close look at the following three maps of North Korea:

These full-size maps can be downloaded from here.

What I want you to see is that the terrain in North Korea is what the military call “mixed terrain”.  The topography of North Korea article in Wikipedia actually explains this very well:

The terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east.  Early European visitors to Korea remarked that the country resembled “a sea in a heavy gale” because of the many successive mountain ranges that crisscross the peninsula. Some 80 percent of North Korea’s land area is composed of mountains and uplands, with all of the peninsula’s mountains with elevations of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) or more located in North Korea. The great majority of the population lives in the plains and lowlands.

Being from Switzerland I know this kind of terrain very well (it’s what you would see in the Alpine foothills called “Oberland” or “Préalpes”) and I want to add the following: dense vegetation, forests, rivers and creek with steep banks and rapid currents.  Small villages and *a lot* of deep, underground tunnels. There are also flat areas in North Korea, of course, but, unlike Switzerland, they are composed mostly of rice fields and marshes.  In military terms this all translates into one simple and absolutely terrifying word: infantry.

Why should the word infantry scare so much? Because infantry means on foot (or horses) with very little airpower (AA and MANPADS), satellites (can’t see much), armor (can’t move around), gunships, submarines or cruise missiles can do.  Because infantry means “no lucrative targets” but small, dispersed and very well hidden forces.  Company and even platoon-level warfare.  Because infantry in mixed terrains means the kind of warfare the US Americans fear most.

The adversary

And with that in mind, let’s repeat that besides its huge regular armed forces (about a million soldiers plus another 5 million plus in paramilitary organizations) the DPRK also has 200,000 special forces.   Let’s assume that the Western propaganda is, for once, saying the truth and that the regular armed forces are poorly equipped, poorly trained, poorly commanded and even hungry and demotivated (I am not at all sure that this is a fair assumption, but bear with me).  But spreading that amount of soldiers all over the combat area would still represent a huge headache, even for “the best and most powerful armed forces in history” especially if you add 200,000 well-trained and highly motivated special forces to the mix (I hope that we can all agree that assuming that special forces are also demotivated would be rather irresponsible).  How would you go about finding out who is who and where the biggest threat comes from? And consider this: it would extremely naive to expect the North Korean special forces to show up in some clearly marked DPRK uniforms.  I bet you that a lot of them will show up in South Korean uniforms, and others in civilians clothes.  Can you imagine the chaos of trying to fight them?

You might say that the North Koreans have 1950's era weapons.  So what?  That is exactly what you need to fight the kind of warfare we are talking about: infantry in mixed terrains.  Even WWII gear would do just fine.  Now is time to bring in the North Korean artillery.  We are talking about 8,600 artillery guns, and over 4,800 multiple rocket launchers (source).  Anthony Cordesman estimates that there are 20,000 pieces in the “surrounding areas” of Seoul.  That way is more than the US has worldwide (5,312 according to the 2017 “Military Balance”, including mortars).  And keep in mind that we are not talking about batteries nicely arranged in a flat desert, but thousands of simple but very effective artillery pieces spread all over the “mixed terrain” filled with millions of roaming men in arms, including 200,000 special forces.  And a lot of that artillery can reach Seoul, plenty enough to create a mass panic and exodus.

Think total, abject and bloody chaos

So when you think of a war against North Korea, don’t think “Hunt for Red October” or “Top Gun”.  Think total, abject and bloody chaos.  Think instant full-scale FUBAR.  And that is just for the first couple of days, then things will get worse, much worse.  Why?

Because by that time I expect the North Korean Navy and Air Force to have been completely wiped-off, waves after waves of cruise missiles will have hit an X number of facilities (with no way whatsoever to evaluate the impact of these strikes, but nevermind that) and the US military commanders will be looking at the President with no follow-up plan to offer.  As for the North Koreans, by then they will just be settling in for some serious warfare, infantry-style.

There is a better than average that a good part of the DPRK elites will be dead.   What is sure is that the command and control of the General Staff Department over many of its forces will be if not lost, then severely compromised.  But everybody will know that they have been attacked and by whom.  You don’t need much command and control when you are in a defensive posture in the kind of terrain were movement is hard to begin with.  In fact, this is the kind of warfare where “high command” usually means a captain or a major, not some faraway general.

You might ask about logistics?  What logistics I ask you? The ammo is stored nearby in ammo dumps, food you can always get yourself and, besides, its your home turf, the civilians will help.

Again, no maneuver warfare, no advanced communications, no heavy logistical train – we are talking about a kind of war which is much closer to WWII or even WWI than Desert Storm.

[Sidebar: as somebody who did a lot of interesting stuff with the Swiss military, let me add this: this kind of terrain is a battlefield were a single company can stop and hold an entire regiment; this is the kind of terrain where trying to accurately triangulate the position of an enemy radio is extremely hard; this is the kind of terrain where only horses and donkeys can carry heavy gear over narrow, zig-zagging, steep paths;  entire hospitals can be hidden underground with their entrance hidden by a barn or a shed; artillery guns are dug in underground and fire when a thick reinforced concrete hatch is moved to the side, then they hide; counter-battery radar hardly works due to bouncing signals; radio signals have a short range due to vegetation and terrain; weapon caches and even company size forces camps can only be detected by literally stepping on them; underground bunkers have numerous exits; air-assault operations are hindered by the very high risk of anti-aircraft gunfire or shoulder-fired missiles which can be hidden and come from any direction.  I could go on and on but I will just say this: if you want to defeat your adversary in such a terrain there is only one technique which works: you do what the Russians did in the mountains in southern Chechnia during the second Chechen war – you send in your special forces, small units on foot, and you fight the enemy on his own turf.  That is an extremely brutal, dangerous and difficult kind of warfare which I really don’t see the Americans doing.  The South Koreans, yes, maybe. But here is where the number game also kicks in: in Chechnia the Russians Spetsnaz operated in a relatively small combat zone and they had the numbers.  Now look at a map of North Korea and the number of North Korean special forces and tell me – do the South Koreans have the manpower for that kind of offensive operations?  One more thing: the typical US American reaction to such arguments would be “so what, we will just nuke them!".  Wrong.  Nuke them you can, but nukes are not very effective in that kind of terrain, finding a target is hard to begin with, enemy forces will be mostly hidden underground and, finally, you are going to use nukes to deal with company or platoon size units?!  Won’t work.]

If you think that I am trying to scare you, you are absolutely correct. I am.  You ought to be scared.  And notice that I did not even mention nukes.  No, not nuclear warheads in missiles.  Basic nuclear devices driven around in common army trucks.  Driven down near the DMZ in peacetime amongst thousands of other army trucks and then buried somewhere, ready to explode at the right time.  Can you imagine what the effect of a “no-warning” “where did it come from?” nuke might be on advancing US or South Korean forces?  Can you imagine how urgent the question “are there any more?” will become?  And, again, for that the North Koreans don’t even need a real nuclear weapon.  A primitive nuclear device will be plenty.

I can already hear the die-hard “rah-rah-rah we are number 1!” flag-wavers dismissing it all saying “ha! and you don’t think that the CIA already knows all that?”.  Maybe they do and maybe they don’t – but the problem is that the CIA, and the rest of the US intelligence community, has been so hopelessly politicized that it can do nothing against perceived political imperatives.  And, frankly, when I see that the US is trying to scare the North Koreans with B-1B and F-22s I wonder if anybody at the Pentagon, or at Langely, is still in touch with reality.  Besides, there is intelligence and then there is actionable intelligence. And in this case knowing what the Koreans could do does not at all mean know what to do about it.

Speaking of chaos – do you know what the Chinese specifically said about it?

Can you guess?

That they will “not allow chaos and war on the peninsula."

Enter the Chinese

Let’s talk about the Chinese now.  They made their position very clear: “If North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States then China should stay neutral, but if the United States attacks first and tries to overthrow North Korea’s government China will stop them."  Since there is no chance at all of a unprovoked North Korean attack on the South or the USA, especially with this threat by the Chinese to remain neutral if the DPRK attacks first, let’s focus on the 2nd part of the warning.

What could the Chinese do if the US decides to attack North Korea?  There basic options depend on the nature of the attack:

  1. If the US limits itself to a combination of missile and airstrikes and the DPRK retaliates (or not), then the Chinese can simply provide technical, economic and humanitarian aid to the DPRK and denounce the US on a political level.
  2. If the USA follow up with a land invasion of some kind or if the DPRK decides to retaliate in a manner which would force the USA into a land invasion of some kind, then the Chinese could not only offer directly military aid, including military personnel, but they could also wait for the chaos to get total in Korea before opening a 2nd front against US forces (including, possibly, Taiwan).

That second scenario would create a dangerous situation for China, of course, but it would be even far more dangerous for US forces in Asia who would find themselves stretched very thin over a very large area with no good means to force either adversary to yield or stop.  Finally, just as China cannot allow the USA to crush North Korea, Russia cannot allow the USA to crush China.  Does that dynamic sound familiar?  It should as it is similar to what we have been observing in the Middle-East recently:

  1. Russia->Iran->Hezbollah->Syria
  2. Russia->China->DPRK

This is a very flexible and effective force posture where the smallest element is at the forefront of the line-up and the most powerful one most removed and at the back because it forces the other side to primarily focus on that frontline adversary while maximizing the risks of any possibly success because that success is likely to draw in the next, bigger and more powerful adversary.

Conclusion: preparing for genocide

The US has exactly a zero chance of disarming or, even less so, regime changing the DPRK by only missile and airstrikes.  To seriously and meaningfully take the DPRK “in their hands” the US leaders would need to approve of a land invasion.  However, even if that is not the plan, if the DPRK decides to use its immense, if relatively antiquated, firepower to strike at Seoul, the US will have no choice to move in ground forces across the DMZ.  If that happens about 500,000 ROK troops backed by 30,000 US military personnel will face about 1 million North Korea soldiers backed by 5 million paramilitaries and 200,000 special forces on a mix terrain battlefield which will require an infantry-heavy almost WWII kind of military operations.  By definition, if the USA attacks the DPRK to try to destroy its nuclear program such an attack will begin by missile and air strikes on DPRK facilities meaning that the USA will immediately strike at the most valuable targets (from the point of view of the North Koreans of course).  This means that following such an attack the US will have little or no dissuasive capabilities left and that means that following such an attack the DPRK will have no incentive left to show any kind of restraint.  In sharp contrast, even if the DPRK decides to begin with an artillery barrage across the DMZ, including the Seoul metropolitan area, they will still have the ability to further escalate by either attacking Japan or by setting off a nuclear device.  Should that happen there is an extremely high probability that the USA will either have to “declare victory and leave” (a time-honored US military tradition) or begin using numerous tactical nuclear strikes.  Tactical nuclear strikes, by the way, have a very limited effectiveness on prepared defensive position in mixed terrain, especially narrow valleys.  Besides, targets for such strikes are hard to find.  At the end of the day, the last and only option left to the USA is what they always eventually resort to would be to directly and deliberately engage in the mass murder of civilians to “break the enemy’s will to fight” and destroy the “regime support infrastructure” of the enemy’s forces (another time-honored US military tradition stretching back to the Indian wars and which was used during the Korean war and, more recently, in Yugoslavia).  Here I want to quote an article by Darien Cavanaugh in War is Boring:

On a per-capita basis, the Korean War was one of the deadliest wars in modern history, especially for the civilian population of North Korea. The scale of the devastation shocked and disgusted the American military personnel who witnessed it, including some who had fought in the most horrific battles of World War II (…).  These are staggering numbers, and the death rate during the Korean War was comparable to what occurred in the hardest hit countries of World War II. (…)  In fact, by the end of the war, the United States and its allies had dropped more bombs on the Korean Peninsula, the overwhelming majority of them on North Korea, than they had in the entire Pacific Theater of World War II.

“The physical destruction and loss of life on both sides was almost beyond comprehension, but the North suffered the greater damage, due to American saturation bombing and the scorched-earth policy of the retreating U.N. forces,” historian Charles K. Armstrong wrote in an essay for the Asia-Pacific Journal.  “The U.S. Air Force estimated that North Korea’s destruction was proportionately greater than that of Japan in the Second World War, where the U.S. had turned 64 major cities to rubble and used the atomic bomb to destroy two others. American planes dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea—that is, essentially on North Korea—including 32,557 tons of napalm, compared to 503,000 tons of bombs dropped in the entire Pacific theatre of World War II.”  As Armstrong explains, this resulted in almost unparalleled devastation.  “The number of Korean dead, injured or missing by war’s end approached three million, ten percent of the overall population. The majority of those killed were in the North, which had half of the population of the South; although the DPRK does not have official figures, possibly twelve to fifteen percent of the population was killed in the war, a figure close to or surpassing the proportion of Soviet citizens killed in World War II.”


Twelve to fifteen percent of the entire population was murdered by US forces in Korea during the last war (compare these figures to the so-called ‘genocide’ of Srebrenica!).  That is what Nikki Haley and the psychopaths in Washington DC are really threatening to do when they speak of taking the situation “in their own hands” or, even better, when Trump threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea.  What Trump and his generals forget is that we are not in the 1950's but in 2017 and that while the Korean War and a negligible economic impact on the rest of the planet, a war the middle of Far East Asia today would have huge economic consequences.  Furthermore, in the 1950's the total US control over the mass media, at least in the so-called “free world” made it relatively easy to hide out the murderous rampage by US-lead forces, something completely impossible nowadays.  The modern reality is that irrespective of the actual military outcome on the ground, any US attack on the DPRK would result is such a massive loss of face for the USA that it would probably mark the end of the US presence in Asia and a massive international financial shock probably resulting in a crash of the currently already fragile US economy.  In contrast, China would come out as the big winner and the uncontested Asian superpower.

All the threats coming out of US politicians are nothing more than delusional hot air.  A country which has not won a single meaningful war since the war in the Pacific and whose Army is gradually being filled with semi-literate, gender-fluid and often conviction or unemployment avoiding soldiers is in no condition whatsoever to threaten a country with the wide choice of retaliatory options North Korea has.  The current barrage of US threats to engage in yet another genocidal war are both illegal under international law and politically counter-productive.  The fact is that the USA is unlikely to be able to politically survive a war against the DPRK and that it now has no other option than to either sit down and seriously negotiate with the North Koreans or accept that the DPRK has become an official nuclear power.



Stunning Visualization Of The Explosion Of ICO Activity In The Last Four Years

Via Elementus.io,

This graphic shows every token sale that successfully raised at least $100k, from the beginning of 2014 through the end of last month, November 2017. The bar chart at the bottom displays the total dollar amount raised in each month (details below).

How big is the ICO (aka token sale) market really?

It seems like this should be an easy question to answer. After all, blockchains are open data layers that contain a complete record of every transaction ever made. However, we've found the answer to this question to be surprisingly elusive.

We surveyed the web for data on token sales and turned up over 100 ICO listing sites. Estimates on the total dollar amount that has been raised via ICOs to date range from about $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion.

Why such a big discrepancy?

As far as we can tell, all of these estimates rely strictly on reported figures — either by the ICO issuer itself or by another third party. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Many data providers in the financial world collect their information this way. However, why rely strictly on reported figures when the actual transactions are available directly from the blockchain?

We decided to estimate the size of the ICO market ourselves by going directly to the source.

The figures in this post are based on our own deep dive into the Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains. We searched for every token, crowdsale, and multisig wallet we could find. We then identified the corresponding owners and added up the total amount of contributed funds — taken either from the blockchain itself or as reported by the fundraiser.

In total, we estimate about $6.4 billion has been raised via ICOs to date – materially larger than what is being reported elsewhere.

Perhaps more surprising than the fundraising total is the trend over time. The ICO market is not dying down, as many have reported. It's still growing.

The rise and rise of ICOs

This chart is a labeled version of the one at the top of the post. It shows the ICO fundraising amounts by month.

Contrary to the commonly heard narrative that the ICO party is coming to an end, ICO fundraising in November was only slightly off its high point the month before.

The current run rate of over $1.3bn per month surpasses traditional early stage fundraising by a multiple. Angel and seed-stage VC investments were running at less than $300 million per month as of July (Goldman Sachs via CNBC).

The trend is even more stark when you look at the total count of ICOs that closed each month (minimum raise of $100k).

By this measure, the token sale market is not only still going strong. It's accelerating!

November set a new record for number of closed token sales with 148, an increase of 36 compared to the month before.

We view this metric, the number of token sales, as a better gauge of market activity than the fundraising total. The total dollar amount raised is not only susceptible to fluctuations in crypto exchange rates, it may also be driven by just a handful of outliers, rather than the true underlying trend. For example, just two ICOs (Tezos and EOS, which raised $236m and $200m respectively) account for nearly half of July’s total fundraising.

The number of ICOs completed each month shows a much clearer trend, and one that shows no sign of slowing down.

ICO bubbles

To play around with the graphic yourself, click here to view the interactive bubble chart.


  • ICOs have closed over $6.3bn of fundraising to date.
  • Contrary to widespread perception, the ICO market is still growing.
  • Total fundraising in November was down slightly from its high point in October ($1.38bn vs $1.39bn).
  • November set the record for number of ICOs that closed with 148.


“Look At That Thing!” – The NYT Reveals The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program

When tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theories cross paths with massive 'defense' budgets and excited politicians, "stranger things" happen.

Welcome to The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.

As The New York Times exposes, within the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena.

Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

And while the clapping of crony capitalism screams alod from those two last sentences, one watch of the following video (just one of many), suggests the boondoggle may be based in some kind of reality after all… (the footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. “There’s a whole fleet of them,” one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.)

Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada.


“I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”

While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy.

“When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously,” she said.


But, she added, “what people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.”

Read more here…