Tag: WarMachines (page 1 of 208)

A Constitutional Anniversary To Forget

Authored by Antonius Aquinas,

While not a jubilee year, last week marked the 230th anniversary of the US Constitution.

Naturally, most of its devotees enthusiastically praised the document which by now is seen on a par with Holy Writ itself.  An editorial from Investor’s Business Daily provides an example of such hagiography:

The Constitution’s beauty is that it not only delineates our rights as Americans, but expressly limits and defines government’s ability to interfere in our private lives.   This equipoise between citizens’ duties, responsibilities and rights makes it the defining document or our nation’s glorious freedom.

 

But America is wonderful largely because of the Constitution and those who framed it . . . . What we have is too precious to squander . . . .

Most of the piece laments about the widespread ignorance of its sacred contents among the denizens in which it rules over and encourages the unlearned “to bone up a bit on your constitutional heritage . . . .” 

The editorial fails, as do most others on the Right, to understand that it is not a lack of knowledge of the Constitution’s contents among the populace which lies at the heart of America’s social, economic, and political problems, but the very document itself.

One of the main reasons why the Constitution continues to be so widely venerated is due to the deliberate distortion of history that its “founders” promoted and that generations of its sycophants have continued to perpetuate to this very day. 

The official narrative runs that the Constitution was enacted because of widespread popular support for a change to the supposed inadequacies and deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation.

This is a myth.

Instead, the Constitution was a coup deliberately schemed by the leading political and mercantile classes to set up a powerful central government where ultimate authority rested in the national state. 

The use of the term “federal” to describe what was created in Philadelphia in those fateful days was a ruse much like the banksters and politicos used “Federal Reserve” to describe the central bank created in 1913.  It was neither “federal” – a decentralized monetary order – nor a “reserve” of gold, but a monetary institution which could create money out of thin air and eventually eliminate the gold standard.

It was a similar political maneuver 230 years ago as a new American national state was established and touted as a decentralized form of government where power was evenly divided between state and national levels and between the different branches of the government itself  – “separation of powers.”  In actuality, however, the “federal system” was the elevation of central power at the expense of local authority which had previously existed.  Section VI of the Constitution says it all:

The Constitution and the laws of the United States  . . . shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Elementary political science has shown and plain common sense knows that any person or institution given “supreme authority” will misuse and abuse such power.  Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely is an undeniable dictum of human nature.  A truly decentralized system of governance would not contain a plank as “supreme law of the land” as part of its foundation.  Instead, real federalism would be dispersed, as it existed in the past in such political arrangements as confederacies, leagues, and, certainly, under the much maligned feudal social order.

Even the Constitution’s celebrated Bill of Rights is flawed and has proven to be ineffective in protecting basic human freedoms.  It is the federal government which enumerates and interprets what freedom individuals should possess.  Thus, the meaning and extent of individual liberties will be in the hands of federal jurists and courts who will invariably rule on cases in favor of the state.  The ensnaring of individual rights within the central government’s authority did away with the venerable common law which was a far greater defender of liberty than federal courts.

Just as important, the enactment of the Constitution, which brought all the individual states under it suzerainty, did away with one of the most significant checks on state power – “voting with one’s feet.”  When there are multiple governing authorities, if one jurisdiction becomes too oppressive, its subjects can move to freer domains.  This still happens on a local level as high tax and regulatory states such as California and New York have lost demographically to freer places like Nevada and Texas.  Yet, from the Federal Leviathan there is no escape, except expatriation.

Unless and until Americans and all the other peoples of the Western world who live under constitutional rule recognize that it is the type of government which is the cause of most of the political turmoil, social unrest, and economic malaise  which they face, there is no hope of turning things around.

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Crowd Boos As Entire Cowboys Team, Owner, & G.M. ‘Take A Knee’ In Arizona

In an apparent demonstration of unity, the entire Dallas Cowboys team, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, as well as executive vice presidents Stephen Jones, Charlotte Anderson and Jerry Jones Jr., all decided to 'take a knee', notably before the national anthem was sung.

Boos were heard from the crowd in Arizona which reportedly included a large number of Dallas fans…

"as they take a knee collectively, boos can be heard from this sell-out crowd in Arizona…"

As ESPN reports, Jerry Jones and his daughter, Charlotte Jones Anderson, said their players wanted to take a knee as a statement for equality and unity, but also wanted to separate that message from the national anthem.

A little less than an hour before kickoff, Jerry Jones said he respected the players "individually and collectively," but he did not want to get into the political element of the debate.

"We want them to do what's in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys," Jones said.

 

"That's where the obligation is and again I don't want to get into this area of debate but I do want to emphasize how important it is to me that we respect the sanctity of the flag."

Jones was one of seven NFL owners to donate to Trump's inauguration.

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Gold/King Dollar ratio breaking short-term support

Gold has been weaker than King Dollar the majority of the time since 2011 highs. Gold has been stronger than King Dollar since Christmas of last year. Which trend is going to be the key trend over the next few months?

Below looks at the Gold/US Dollar ratio over the past seven years and highlights that an important price pattern is taking place-

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The Gold/US$ ratio has remained inside of the blue shaded channel for the past three years. The rally since last Christmas has the ratio testing the top of this channel and three other resistance lines came into play at (1). Since hitting the top of the channel and triple resistance, the ratio has turned lower (Dollar stronger than Gold) and broken below steep rising support at (2).

Gold bulls would get caution/concerning message should further weakness at (2).

Gold bulls want/need the ratio to breakout above quad resistance at (1), to send a quality bullish message.

 

 

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New “Wu Tang Coin” Raises Money To Buy Martin Shkreli’s Copy Of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”

In the latest sign that the market for initial coin offerings has probably peaked, Bloomberg is reporting that a company is planning to launch an ICO with the explicit goal of raising enough money to purchase the only extant copy of “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin”, the rare Wu Tang Clan record and current record holder for most expensive single album ever sold. Martin Shkreli once paid $2 million for the record.

Behold Wu-Tang Coin, the digital token at the heart of a purported ICO whose sole purpose is to raise money to buy and publicly release the Wu-Tang Clan album that convicted fraudster Martin Shkreli once spent $2 million on.

The coin launched Monday, according to its Twitter account, which has a whopping 13 followers. Rare Music Ltd., the company behind the efforts, is seeking to raise $3 million to $4 million, according to a white paper listed on the internet. Because of its decentralized nature, the creators of Wu Tang Coin claimed in a White Paper that an ICO would be able to circumvent legal restrictions barring the owner from publicly releasing the album for commercial purposes until the year 2,103.

The goal of the project is to release the album for free on the internet. The company says coin holders will be compensated with "gifts" to incentize participation.

A straightforward purchase of the album by a music company would be pointless because the album cannot be “commercially exploited” in a reasonable amount of time. Therefore,
we propose to:

1. Raise funds via an ICO and attempt to negotiate a purchase with the album’s current owner.

2. Give Wu-Tang Coin donors to the ICO (i.e. owners of Wu-Tang Coin) gifts to incentivize participation.

3. Release the album on all free and paid streaming music sites after a short amnesty period (six months) designed to give owners of Wu-Tang Coin time to enjoy the album exclusively, before everyone else.

As we reported earlier this month, the ownership of the Wu Tang album is in doubt after Shkreli sold the album on eBay for just over $1 million – about half what he paid for it in late 2015, shortly before being labeled “the most hated man in America” after his former company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of Toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim by 5,000%.

After being convicted on three counts of securities and wire fraud after the conclusion of a month-long trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, Shkreli's bail was revoked shortly before the auction ended and he was sent to a notorious federal jail in Brooklyn to await his sentencing in January. Prosecutors asked that his bail be revoked after a published what he described as a satirical post saying he would pay a $5,000 bounty for a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair. It's unclear what will happen with the Wu Tang album.

Read the White Paper in full below:

Wu-Tang+Coin+whitepaper+v1.0.0 by zerohedge on Scribd

 

 

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50,000 Evacuated From Bali As Nation Faces Imminent Volcanic Eruption

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Fears of an imminent eruption on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali have led to the evacuation of an estimated 50,000 people.  

The Mount Agung volcano is going to erupt, scientists say.

Waskita Sutadewa, the spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency in Bali, said people have scattered to all corners of the island and some have crossed to the neighboring island of Lombok.

Indonesian authorities raised the volcano’s alert status to the highest level on Friday following a dramatic increase in seismic activity. It last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

Villagers are staying in temporary camps, sports centers, village halls, or with friends and relatives. Some do return to the exclusion zone during the day to tend to their livestock or shift the animals to areas further from the volcano for their safety. Others say they are selling their cows because they don’t know when they’ll be able to return.

“It’s obviously an awful thing. We want to be out of here just to be safe,” said an Australian woman at Bali’s airport who identified herself as Miriam. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hundreds of thousands of face masks will be distributed in Bali as part of government humanitarian assistance that includes thousands of mattresses and blankets. Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

Government volcanologist Surono, who uses one name, said the feared eruption could be huge and potentially also close airports in East Java and Lombok, according to local media reports. Agung is in the north of the island about 43 miles from the tourist hotspot of Kuta. People have been told to stay at least 6 miles from the crater, but to stay 7.5 miles away when to the north, northeast, southeast, and south-southwest.

Over the past 5,000 years, Agung has erupted once a century on average and about a quarter of its eruptions have been a similar or stronger strength than 1963. Macquarie University volcanologist Heather Handley said the eruptions in 1843 and 1963 had a Volcanic Explosivity Index of about 5 on a scale where 8 would be the strength of an ancient supervolcano eruption such as Yellowstone in the U.S. or Toba in Indonesia.

Although officials have said there is no immediate threat to tourists, a significant eruption would force the closure of Bali’s international airport, stranding thousands. The island is famous for its surfing, beaches and its elegant Hindu culture is still safe to visit. Bali’s Ngurah rai International Airport has been operating normally since the alert status for Mount Agung was raised to the highest level on Friday.

Nearly 5 million tourists visited Bali last year.

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Russians & Chinese Are More Worried About ‘Fake’ Content Than Americans

The Germans are the people least worried about fake content on the internet.

According to a survey by the BBC, only 14 percent are very perturbed by content possibly being fake. Another 33 percent are somewhat worried. So, while 47 percent overall are worried to some degree, this is a low figure compared to how worried people in other countries are.

However, as Statista’s Dyfed Loesche notes, in Brazil, most people are concerned: 92 percent are worried about what’s real and what’s fake.

Perhaps most notably however, while American politicians (on the left) continue to push the narrative of ‘fake’ content, fewer Americans “worry about what is real and fake in the web” than in Russia, China, Spain, France, or Greece (though notably the percentage who ‘strongly agree’ is dramatically high relative to other nations).

Infographic: Who's Most Worried About Fake Content on the Web? | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

The study also finds that more people in 2017 than in 2010 say that the internet should never be regulated by government (58 percent in 2017 to 51 percent in 2010).

But slightly less people than in 2010 think the internet is a safe place to express their opinions (46 to 48 percent).

16,542 adults in 18 countries took part in the survey, of which 11.799 used the internet, conducted by GlobeScan.

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These Maps Explain Who Really Caused Hillary’s Loss (Hint: It Wasn’t Angry, Sexist, Xenophobic, White Men)

Ever since election day Hillary and her former minions have attempted to reinforce a narrative that some combination of Russian hackers, James Comey and angry, sexist, xenophobic, white men were the cause of here staggering defeat in November 2016.  That said, a new study highlighted by the Washington Post (of all places) today, confirms that it very well could have been black voters that ultimately crushed Hillary’s chances at the White House and not so much a sudden onset of racism.

Per the first chart below, precinct-level data gathered by Decision Desk HQ reveals that while Hillary lost ground with white voters compared to Obama’s performance in 2012, she also lost significant ground with black and hispanic voters as well. 

But there’s another factor that bears mentioning. One of the reasons that Trump is president and Clinton isn’t is because of how black Americans voted relative to 2012.

 

After the 2016 election, Ryne Rohla gathered precinct-level vote tallies from nearly every neighborhood in the United States for Decision Desk HQ. This data, which he also collected for the 2012 race, offers a uniquely specific overview of how Americans voted that we’ve used to analyze where Americans were most likely to live in bubbles of shared political thought and how the candidates fared in the places where they raised the most money.

But, where Hillary lost minority votes is perhaps even more important than how many votes she lost.  After analyzing precinct-level data for “majority-black” precincts across the country, Defense Desk HQ created the following maps showing areas where Clinton gained ground with black voters versus 2012 (blue circles) compared to where she lost ground (red circles).  Anyone notice a theme?

Meanwhile, and perhaps most importantly, Hillary lost ground with minority voters in almost every “majority-black” precinct in the four states that ultimately ended up determining the outcome of the election: Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

And, just to put some numbers behind maps, roughly 130 million people voted in the 2016 presidential election.  Of that, Wapo says that roughly 12%, or 15.6mm, of the people who cast their ballot were black.  Finally, Hillary’s loss of 7 points with black voters versus Obama’s results in 2012 equates to a total of about 1.1 million votes lost…which, needless to say, was more than enough to swing an election that was determined by a few thousand votes in a couple of key states.

But a small uptick in support for Trump vs. Romney combined with less support for Clinton means that Obama’s 87-point margin became an 80-point margin for Clinton. That mattered.

 

Notice, too, that exit polling suggests a decrease in how much of the electorate was black in 2016. The Census Bureau collects data on that, too, which the University of Florida’s Michael McDonald used to estimate turnout percentages and composition of the electorate for the past 30 years.

 

In 2016, the turnout rate for black Americans dropped about 8 points, McDonald estimates — meaning that 8 percent fewer black Americans who were registered to vote came out to cast a ballot. That’s a lower rate than in 2004. The percentage of white voters turning out increased slightly.

While we haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we’re gonna go out on a limb and bet that none of this actual data from Wapo made it into Hillary’s latest book.

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Leaked Descriptions Of Infamous “Russia Ads” Derail Collusion Narrative “They Showed Support For Clinton”

That was quick.

Less than a week after Facebook agreed to turn over to Congressional investigators copies of the 3,000-odd political advertisements that the company said it had inadvertently sold to a Russia-linked group intent on meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the contents of the ads have – unsurprisingly – leaked, just as we had expected them to.

Congressional investigators shared the information with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which has repeatedly allowed information about its investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russian operatives to leak to the press. Once this happened, we knew it was only a matter of time before the ads became part of the public record.  

And, shockingly, descriptions of the ads provided to the Washington Post hardly fit the narrative that Democratic lawmakers have spun in recent weeks, claiming the ads – which didn’t advocate on behalf of a specific candidate, but rather hewed to political issues like abortion rights – were instrumental in securing Trump’s victory.

After initially denying the story this spring, Facebook came clean earlier this month, saying its investigators had discovered that the company sold at least $100,000 worth of ads – and possibly as much as $150,000 – to Russia-linked group that bought the ads through 470 phony Facebook pages and accounts.

WaPo reports that the ads represented issues on both sides of the ideological spectrum, which would suggest that the buyers didn’t intend to support a specific candidate, but rather their own unique agenda.

The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African-American rights groups including Black Lives Matter and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.

 

The Russian campaign — taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to simultaneously send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics – also sought to sow discord among religious groups. Other ads highlighted support for Democrat Hillary Clinton among Muslim women.

Of course, support for Hillary Clinton among minority groups was less enthusiastic than it was for Barack Obama, suggesting that the ads perhaps weren’t as effective as some Democratic lawmakers would have voters believe. Despite the innocuous description, WaPo insisted on reporting that the ads were meant to “sow dischord” among different voting blocs that supported Clinton. The paper of record also reported that the targeted messages “highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate US political discourse”…again without explaining exactly how they accomplished this.

These targeted messages, along with others that have surfaced in recent days, highlight the sophistication of an influence campaign slickly crafted to mimic and infiltrate U.S. political discourse while also seeking to heighten tensions between groups already wary of one another.

Yet, WaPo reports that the “nature and detail” of the ads has bothered investigators at Facebook and the Justice Department, as well as those working on behalf of the Congressional committees that are conducting independent investigations. The House and Senate Intelligence committees plan to begin reviewing the Facebook ads in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, the paper ran quotes from Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, two of the most vocal proponents of the Russia election-hacking conspiracy theory (it is only a theory, after all), describing the ads as part of a sinister effort to undermine the democratic process.

“Their aim was to sow chaos,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “In many cases, it was more about voter suppression rather than increasing turnout.”

 

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said he hoped the public would be able to review the ad campaign.

 

“I think the American people should see a representative sample of these ads to see how cynical the Russian were using these ads to sow division within our society,” he said, noting that he had not yet seen the ads but had been briefed on them, including the ones mentioning “things like Black Lives Matter.”

For a story that’s supposed to be about the content of political advertisements that are now at the center of a widely followed investigation (much like Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer and her entourage in Trump Tower was just a month ago), the WaPo story includes scant details about their contents. For whatever reason, the paper neglected to publish photos of the ads.

We imagine that whoever leaked the story probably figured that once readers see the ads and realize they’re indistinguishable from the rest of the political ad copy running on Facebook, voters will quickly lose interest.

However, that didn’t stop one expert from offering some helpful “context” meant to feed the hysteria without saying anything conclusive. As the paper notes, the expert quoted hasn’t even seen the ads.

While Facebook has downplayed the impact of the Russian ads on the election, Dennis Yu, chief technology officer for BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that focuses on Facebook ads, said that $100,000 worth of Facebook ads could have been viewed hundreds of millions of times.

 

“$100,000 worth of very concentrated posts is very, very powerful,” he said. “When you have a really hot post, you often get this viral multiplier. So when you buy this one ad impression, you can get an extra 20- to 40-times multiplier because those people comment and share it.”

 

Watts, the Foreign Policy Research Institute fellow, has not seen the Facebook ads promised to Congress, but he and his team saw similar tactics playing out on Twitter and other platforms during the campaign.

With little else to cling to, it appears that investigators – not to mention Trump’s critics – have invested so much in the Facebook interference narrative (not to mention Paul Manafort’s dealings with pro-Russian oligarchs), that admitting they were wrong would just be too damaging.

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Here Are The Congressional Aides That Traded On Insider Information Over The Past Year

Up until April 2012, members of Congress and their staff were the only people in the country actually allowed to trade stocks on insider information.  That was supposed to change with the passage of the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act which was signed into law by Barack Obama on April 4, 2012.  But, as we all know, laws are only meaningful to the extent our legislators and bureaucracies are willing to enforce them.

Given that intro, it is with great ‘shock’ that we share with you the results of a Politico study which would seem to suggest that Congressional aides continue to trade on insider information on a fairly regular basis despite the existence of the STOCK Act.  We guess the SEC didn’t take seriously the STOCK Act’s attempt to “criminalize behavior that is normal.”

The first such example of a “questionable” trade comes to us from Daniel Swanson, an aide to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) of the Judiciary Committee…why does it not surprise us that our first example comes from Illinois?  As Politico notes, Swanson made some very “timely” trades in Mylan late last year as he managed to dump up to $60,000 worth of stock just two days before the DOJ levied a $465 million penalty on the company for their EpiPen billing practices.  Ironically, Swanson’s boss worked with the DOJ on the Mylan settlement…

On Sept. 28, 2016, three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Justice Department suggesting that the drug company Mylan was violating Medicaid laws.

 

Nine days later, the Justice Department reached a massive $465 million settlement with the firm.

 

In between, another action happened almost invisibly: A Judiciary Committee aide to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) dropped somewhere between $4,004 and $60,000 in Mylan stock from his and his child’s portfolios.

 

If an aide had done the same thing in the executive branch, he or she could be investigated for violating federal conflict-of-interest law. But the Durbin aide’s ownership of shares of Mylan, and their timely sale, are reflective of Congress’ persistent refusal to crack down on stock trading by staffers, even in firms overseen by their committees.

 

…but we’re sure the timing of the trade was just a coincidence.

 

But it’s not just Swanson, Paul Ryan’s Chief of Staff has also managed to get really “lucky” on the timing of some trades over the years.

David Hoppe, a fellow Wisconsin native and former Hill aide, to serve as his chief of staff. Hoppe left lobbying jobs with both his own firm, Hoppe Strategies, and the K Street powerhouse Squire Patton Boggs to work for the new speaker. After he moved back through the revolving door, Hoppe continued to trade stock in companies with interests before Congress.

 

David Hoppe, a longtime Capitol Hill aide-turned-lobbyist, joined the speaker’s office in late 2015 as Ryan became speaker of the House. Through personal accounts, Hoppe and his wife bought and sold shares in dozens of stocks while Hoppe worked at the speaker’s office, including purchases of energy and pharmaceutical stocks made shortly before Congress passed bills benefiting the companies he traded. Hoppe told POLITICO he did not discuss any stock trades with his brokers while working for Ryan.

 

And the list goes on and on…

Diane Dewhirst, deputy chief of staff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, disclosed her spouse’s purchase of stock in two pharmaceutical companies, Astrazeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, in December 2016, shortly before Congress passed a medical research bill that benefited both companies.

 

Meanwhile, on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which sets energy policy and is the main committee overseeing Obamacare, at least six aides have bought and sold stock in companies with interests in the work of the committee. One longtime committee aide in an oversight role bought and sold more than two dozen health care and energy stocks during 2015 and 2016 and sold his stock in Express Scripts, the prescription drug sales company, as the company came under scrutiny over its role in setting drug prices last October.

 

On the House and Senate appropriations committees, which make broadly influential spending and policy decisions through annual government funding bills, at least 18 House aides and 14 Senate aides have bought or sold at least one stock, through their own accounts or family members’. For example, one senior House Appropriations aide working for a member focused on energy and water funding has, through various family accounts, bought and sold shares in companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Energy Transfer Partners, Dow Chemical and Emerson Electric. Another longtime aide on the committee’s staff who is focused on investigations and research, which are at the heart of the committee’s decision-making, holds and trades stock in companies with major interests in the committee’s work, including pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and energy companies such as Occidental Petroleum.

Of course, proving that a Congressional aide traded on insider information can be next to impossible which is precisely why watchdog groups have long called for staffers to be restricted completely from trading stocks of companies that have business before their committees. 

Government watchdogs say that, at a minimum, staffers should be prevented from buying shares of companies with business before their committees. But they are not. And despite the disparity between the rigorous standards for the executive branch and the laxness of Congress, the House and Senate have taken a permissive approach even to enforcing existing rules.

 

That’s a serious problem, watchdogs say, because aides often have more of a hands-on role than the members themselves in crafting details of legislation that could have enormous consequences for individual companies. And because aides are rarely in the spotlight, there’s more potential for ethical lapses to go unnoticed.

 

“The staff level is actually more dangerous, because they don’t get scrutiny and they’re not accountable,” said Meredith McGehee, chief of policy at Issue One, a watchdog group for money and politics. “If a member does it, he can get defeated. A staff person can wield enormous amounts of power that isn’t seen, and there’s really no way to hold that staff accountable.”

But we’re sure this is just an attempt by Politico to “criminalize behavior that is normal…”

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Hurricane Maria Has Transformed Puerto Rico Into A “Cash Only” Economy

Electricity, internet access and cell phone service have been offline in parts of Puerto Rico for a whole week. And with the island still struggling to rescue people stranded in remote villages, those managing the emergency recovery effort have yet to focus their attentions on the monumental task that looms ahead: Rebuilding the island’s devastated infrastructure, from communications to sewers and water treatment plants that have been damaged by flash flooding and 155 mph winds that Hurricane Maria visited upon the island.

The damage, as Bloomberg reports, has essentially knocked Puerto Rico’s economy back into the 1950s. For locals who’re struggling to begin the process of rebuilding their damaged homes, shops across the island are only accepting cash.

The cash economy has reigned in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria decimated much of the U.S. commonwealth last week, leveling the power grid and wireless towers and transporting the island to a time before plastic existed. The state of affairs could carry on for weeks or longer in some remote parts of the commonwealth, and that means it could be impossible to trace revenue and enforce tax rules.

 

The situation further frustrates one of the many challenges already facing a government that has sought a form of bankruptcy protection after its debts swelled past $70 billion: boosting revenue by collecting money that slips through the cracks.

The cash-only economy could create problems for the island’s cash-strapped government, as business owners will no doubt be tempted to avoid declaring some of their revenues, depriving PR’s government of badly needed revenue.

 In fact, the power blackout only exacerbates a situation that has always been, to a degree, a fact of life in Puerto Rico. Outside the island’s tourist hubs, many small businesses simply never took credit cards, with some openly expressing contempt for tax collectors and others claiming it was just a question of not wanting to deal with the technology.

 

But those were generally vendors of bootleg DVDs, fruit stands, barbers – not major supermarkets. Now, the better part of the economy is in the same boat.

And after a week without power, the few ATMs on the island that still work have run dry, while most others are simply out of service.

As Bloomberg reports, many Puerto Ricans were still living off what money they thought to withdraw ahead of the storm. When a branch of Banco Popular in San Juan opened on Monday morning, the line stretched about 200 people deep for banking and ATM services. People fanned themselves with whatever they could find and held umbrellas against the sun. At the back stood Giddel Galliza, 64, a music teacher.

“I didn’t want to come because of the lines,” he said. “I need money for basic needs, food, gas – my tank is full but it won’t be forever. I normally pay with my card.”

 

A similar situation unfolded at a Banco Santander across the street. Erasmo Santiago, a 63-year-old mailman, said he was actually a Popular client but opted to pay a fee and go for the slightly shorter line. “I have my mom living with me, she’s 83,” he said. “So I need money.”

Some store owners, even those in areas of San Juan that are heavily policed, worry that carrying so much cash could leave them vulnerable to a robbery.

In post-hurricane San Juan on Monday, commerce picked up ever so slightly. With a little effort, you could get the basics and sometimes more: diapers, medicine, or even a gourmet hamburger smothered in fried onions and gorgonzola cheese.

But almost impossible to find was a place that accepted credit cards.

“Cash only,” said Abraham Lebron, the store manager standing guard at Supermax, a supermarket in San Juan’s Plaza de las Armas. He was in a well-policed area, but admitted feeling like a sitting duck with so many bills on hand. “The system is down, so we can’t process the cards. It’s tough, but one finds a way to make it work.”

Ultimately, turning the ATMs back on probably ranks lower on the island’s list of priorities than, say, keeping the diesel generators that are powering hospitals in operation, or evacuating 70,000 people from a river valley in danger of being flooded after a nearby dam failed.

Depending on how long outages persist, Puerto Ricans in some areas may need to resort to bartering for essential goods, as residents find ever more creative ways to transact in the absence of modern technology.
 

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