iBankCoin
Wake up. Break the cycle. Teach your children.
Joined Oct 24, 2016
788 Blog Posts

WSJ Calls FBI ‘Threat To Democracy’ For Meddling In 2016 Election

Via The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board,

 

Congress needs to learn how the FBI meddled in the 2016 campaign.

When Donald Trump claimed in March that he’d had his “wires tapped” prior to the election, the press and Obama officials dismissed the accusation as a fantasy. We were among the skeptics, but with former director James Comey’s politicized FBI the story is getting more complicated.

CNN reported Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant last year to eavesdrop on Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager from May to August in 2016. The story claims the FBI first wiretapped Mr. Manafort in 2014 while investigating his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s ruling party. That warrant lapsed, but the FBI convinced the court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue a second order as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the election.

Guess who has lived in a condo in Trump Tower since 2006? Paul Manafort.

The story suggests the monitoring started in the summer or fall, and extended into early this year.

While Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign in August, he continued to speak with Candidate Trump.

It is thus highly likely that the FBI was listening to the political and election-related conversations of a leading contender for the White House.

That’s extraordinary – and worrisome.

Mr. Comey told Congress in late March that he “had no information that supports those [Trump] tweets.”

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was even more specific that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against—the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.”

He denied that any such FISA order existed.

Were they lying?

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns.

Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

Mr. Comey investigated both leading presidential campaigns in an election year, playing the role of supposedly impartial legal authority. But his maneuvering to get Mr. Mueller appointed, and his leaks to the press, have shown that Mr. Comey is as political and self-serving as anyone in Washington.

No investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey’s wiretaps.

Comments »

Alex Jones Was Right: New Study Finds Fluoride Exposure Correlated To Lower IQ

Researchers in Toronto, Canada have published a peer-reviewed study in Environmental Health Perspectives which finds that increased exposure to fluoride in utero is associated with lower IQ in children.

X-axis: fluoride exposure in utero, Y-axis: IQ

In a study spanning more than a decade, the researchers analyzed 1,576 samples from nearly 300 sets of mothers and children in Mexico where fluoride is not added to public water supplies, and is instead absorbed through naturally occurring concentrations in public water and fluoridated products. The IQ of children included in the study was tested twice up to the age of 12, which revealed a decrease in IQ scores for every .5 milligram-per-liter increase in fluoride exposure beyond 0.8 milligrams per liter of a pregnant mother’s urine. 

What about exposure out of the womb?

While the Canadian researchers did not find a correlation between fluoride intake and lowered IQ once a child was born, there have been over 50 studies on the impact from the industrial byproduct on the human body as of September 2016.

CNN reports “Previous studies have found fluoride to be a potential neurotoxin at extremely high levels. Many of these studies have been conducted in China, where fluoride levels in water can be as high as 30 milligrams per liter. The Environmental Protection Agency has set a limit of 4 milligrams per liter.”

And in a 2012 meta-analysis of 27 such studies published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in conjunction with China Medical University in Shenyang reported that ‘fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children,’ adding ‘children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas.’

“Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain,” said Harvard researcher Phillippe Grandjean. “The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us.”

In  a follow-up study, the Harvard-led research team concluded that ‘fluoride in drinking water may produce developmental neurotoxicity.’

“Results of our pilot study showed that moderate and severe dental fluorosis was significantly associated with deficits in WISC-IV digit span. Children with moderate or severe dental fluorosis scored significantly lower in total and backward digit span tests than those with normal or questionable fluorosis. These results suggest a deficit in working memory.” -via Sciencedirect.com

And who’s been talking about the dangers of fluoride for nearly a decade? Why, Alex Jones of Infowars!

No wonder he’s known as the ‘humble water filter salesman’ around the interwebs.

Comments »

Bitcoin Falls 4% After China Orders BTC Exchanges Closed

Following the Chinese central bank’s decision to ban initial coin offerings in early September, the government has ordered all Bitcoin exchanges in Beijing and Shanghai to submit plans for winding down their operations by September 20.

China’s top exchange, BTCC, said it would stop trading at the end of the month.

The BBC reports:

Chinese authorities decided to ban digital currencies as part of a plan for reducing the country’s financial risks.

A website set up by the Chinese central bank warned that cryptocurrencies are “increasingly used as a tool in criminal activities such as money laundering, drug trafficking, smuggling, and illegal fundraising”.

Strict instructions

According to a document leaked online by users on the social network Weibothat was seen by Coindesk, Chinese regulators ordered all cryptocurrency exchanges in Beijing to stop registering new user registration by midnight local time on 15 September, and to notify users publicly when they formally close.

All exchanges are required to send regulators a detailed “risk-free” plan of how they intend to exit the market before 18:30 local time on Wednesday 20 September.

The regulator also ordered the exchanges to submit DVDs containing all user trading and holding data to the local authorities.

Shareholders, controllers, executives, and core financial and technical staff of exchanges are also required to remain in Beijing during the shutdown and to co-operate fully with authorities.

Being cautious

“China is shutting the exchanges down for good reasons – I think it’s right they’re being cautious at this time,” Paul Armstrong, an emerging technology adviser and author of the book Disruptive Technologies, told the BBC.

“Bitcoin is by proxy unregulated and peer-to-peer, it’s a very volatile currency.”

However, Mr Armstrong does not think that this will be the end of Bitcoin in China for good.

“They’re shutting it down for now, but it doesn’t mean that in six months or so they won’t create new Bitcoin regulations like Japan and Australia did,” he said.

 

Comments »

Trump Tells UN: ‘No Choice But To Totally Destroy North Korea’ If ‘Rocket Man’ Doesn’t Denuclearize

President Trump told the UN today in no uncertain terms that the United States will have to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if they don’t dismantle their nuclear program.

“It’s time for North Korea to realize that de-nuclearization is its only acceptable future.”

Trump warned that if the US must defend itself or its allies, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” adding that “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.”

White House chief of staff John Kelly reacts: 

Full address here: 

Comments »

Toys-R-Us Files For Bankruptcy After Succumbing To Crippling Debt

Two years after running the oldest toy company in the world, FAO-Schwarz, into the ground after just seven short years of ownership, debt-laden Toys-R-Us, Inc. has been stomped into Bankruptcy after a tumultuous decade of lost market share to online competitors who walked all over them and their 1600 brick and mortar locations.

“Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys ‘R’ Us where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way,” Dave Brandon, chairman and chief executive of Toys R Us, said in a statement. “… We are confident these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us brands live on for many generations.”

Via Bloomberg:

The company listed debt and assets of more than $1 billion each in Chapter 11 documents Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to filing, the chain secured more than $3 billion in financing from lenders including a JPMorgan Chase & Co.-led bank syndicate and certain existing lenders to fund operations while it restructures, according to a company statement. The funding is subject to court approval.

The company didn’t announce plans to close stores, and said its locations across the globe would continue normal operations.

“Like any retailer, decisions about any future store closings – and openings – will continue to be made based on what makes the best sense for the business,” Michael Freitag, a spokesman for Toys “R” Us, said in an email.”

For decades, the Wayne, NJ based retailer was the preeminent toy company in the world, with its flagship location in New York’s Times Square and their well known icon, Geoffrey the Giraffe.Toys-R-Us’s fall from grace “brings to a close a turbulent chapter in the iconic company’s history,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said in an email. “Even if the debt issues are solved, Toys ‘R’ Us still faces massive structural challenges against which it must battle. The jury is out as to whether it can adapt enough to survive.”

Amazon is taking over the world, mind you. For those living in major metropolitan areas, Amazon can ensure you never have to drive to the store and slug it out over a spiral-cut ham again with their Fresh delivery service. Receive organic groceries to your door before 7AM for $16.66 / month in insulated bags –  in many cases at lower prices than local stores. Need it sooner than overnight? Amazon’s Prime Now service will send a driver to one of 5 or 6 stores in your area with free delivery over a certain dollar amount, unless you need it within in an hour – which costs under $10 for the rush. For $40, Amazon’s Firestick provides just about everything you want – including the growing Amazon video library, Netflix, Hulu, Kodi, etc. – and lets you subscribe to channels like HBO a la carte if you aren’t a pirate.

And – I’m fairly certain Amazon carries just about everything Toys-R-Us sold, at lower prices, with better reviews.

Comments »

Powerful 7.1 Earthquake Rocks Mexico City Causing Major Damage, Collapsed Buildings

A massive 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico City on Tuesday, collapsing buildings and sending people into the streets 32 years to the day after a 1985 quake that did major damage to the capital. Coincidentally, buildings across the city had been holding earthquake drills earlier in the day due to the anniversary.

The earthquake is the latest in a string along the Pacific ‘ring of fire’ pver the past year. Last night, a 3.6 magnitude quake hit Los Angeles. Two weeks ago, a 4.6 hit Japan , and a 6.2 which hit Indonesia three weeks ago. Two days later, a 6.4 struck Fiji – the second this year after a 7.0 rocked the island nation in January. In December of 2016, a 6.3 magnitude quake struck in Peru.

Mexico Quake

Damage and injury reports have not yet been officially reported from the quake, which had an epicenter approximatley 93 miles southeast of Mexico City in the state of Puebla.

 

Comments »

Undercover SAS Troops With ‘Shoot To Kill’ Orders Looking For Terrorists In UK Underground

The UK has deployed elite Special Air Service (SAS) troops to patrol the busy tube network in London following last Friday’s ISIS-claimed explosion of a homemade bomb at Parsons Green Station which left 30 injured during rush hour.

Armed with 9mm Glocks and disguised as romantic couples, the special forces troops will ride the tube system looking for trouble, alongside the not-so covert police patrolling the streets of London.

According to the Daily Star, “The task force is comprised of some of the most experienced special forces personnel in the Army – both male and female personnel from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment who are trained killers and can pose as couples while travelling on public transport.”

Those involved in the covert operation have been trained at the SAS base in Hereford for the past several months, and are fully skilled in “rapid fire techniques” according to the Express.

Suspects in train attack

The suspects are an unnamed 18 year old Iraqi refugee who was detained trying to flee the country and a 21 year old local named Yahya Farroukh. ISIS has claimed credit for the attack – however it emerged over the weekend that UK police arrested the 18 year old suspect two weeks before the attack for reasons unknown, and subsequently released him to the foster parents he had lived with for the past three years.

The foster parents, Penelope and Ronald Jones, have housed hundreds of children over the past four decades.

Neighbor Serena Barber, 47 said of the ‘I know about two weeks ago he was arrested by police at Parsons Green, for what I don’t know and returned back to Penny and Ron. After that Penny said she was going to have to stop caring for him, she couldn’t handle him.’

Fear not Londoners – armed undercover SAS officers who look like regular couples are watching your every movement during your morning commute to prevent terrorism.

Comments »

AGAIN!? ‘Potentially Catastrophic’ Cat-5 Hurricane Maria Barrels Towards Puerto Rico

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma left 22 dead, rendering several Caribbean islands uninhabitable and leaving hundreds of thousands without power in Puerto Rico and elsewhere – Hurricane Maria is barreling down on America’s unofficial 51st state with 160 MPH winds.

Early Monday forecasts predicted Maria would likely experience “significant strengthening” over the next 48 hours, possibly strengthening to a category 4 by the time it hit Puerto Rico. Well, moments ago the National Hurricane Center skipped right past “possibly” – classifying Maria as an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 hurricane.

While Hurricane Irma never made landfall on Puerto Rico, Maria looks to be a direct hit tomorrow. Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello said around 450 shelters had been prepared with the ability to house between 68,000 and 125,000 people in an emergency.

Puerto Rico has a population of 3.4 million, not including tourists.

In response, President Trump has directed FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in advance of Maria.

Comments »

Manafort Spied On Before And After Election, Threatened With Indictment, And Had Locks Picked By FBI

CNN is reporting from three mystery sources that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had been under FISA court-ordered surveillance by the Obama FBI since 2014 in relation to his work with a pro-Russian former ruling party in Ukraine. Of note, Manafort’s firm worked with the Podesta group for the same client.

After the 2014 surveillance was discontinued due to lack of evidence, the FBI restarted the investigation after obtaining a new FISA warrant which extended into early 2017. The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower which included Manafort, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a handful of other people wasn’t surveilled, according to the report.

Given the revelations of ‘unmasking’ and the fact that surveillance of Trump associates meant anyone they were communicating with were also surveilled – including Trump, it appears that CNN has some crow to eat…

The collusion ‘gotcha’

One of CNN’s mystery leakers says that intercepted communications show Manafort ‘encouraging the Russians to help with the [Trump] campaign,’ however two of the leakers say that evidence is not conclusive.

The details of Manafort’s communications have been apparently passed to FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Ongoing communications with Russia?

Apparently the FBI wasn’t just hot to trot over communications between Manafort and ‘suspected Russian operatives,’ but information gathered from surveilence of the Russians themselves.

According to CNN,

The FBI interest deepened last fall because of intercepted communications between Manafort and suspected Russian operatives, and among the Russians themselves, that reignited their interest in Manafort, the sources told CNN. As part of the FISA warrant, CNN has learned that earlier this year, the FBI conducted a search of a storage facility belonging to Manafort. It’s not known what they found.

The conversations between Manafort and Trump continued after the President took office, long after the FBI investigation into Manafort was publicly known, the sources told CNN. They went on until lawyers for the President and Manafort insisted that they stop, according to the sources.

Manafort had previously denied ever “knowingly” communicating with Russian intelligence operatives during the election, and has denied any involvement in efforts to “undermine the interests of the United States.”

Threatened with indictment

The New York Times reports that during an early morning raid in July of this year of Manafort’s Virginia home, FBI investigators picked his locks to gain entry. Once inside, Mueller’s team took binders and copies of computer files in search of evidence that Manafort had established secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the suits in his closet.

On top of that, Manafort was reportedly threatened with indictment during the search. Via the NYT:

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election, according to lawyers, witnesses and American officials who have described the approach. Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.

The New York Times paints a surprisingly sympathetic picture of Manafort, while framing Mueller’s tactics as ‘strongarm’ and aggressive.

“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “You want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.’”

Chipping away at the periphery 

While Manafort hasn’t been indicted as threatened in July, his associates have received a far more intensive investigation from Mueller’s team. Per the NYT, “Instead of invitations to the prosecutor’s office, they have been presented with grand jury subpoenas, forcing them to either testify or take the Fifth Amendment and raise suspicions that they had something to hide. At least three witnesses have recently been subpoenaed to testify about Mr. Manafort: Jason Maloni, a spokesman who appeared before the grand jury for more than two hours on Friday, and the heads of two consulting firms — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group — who worked with Mr. Manafort on behalf of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russia former president of Ukraine.”

“Mr. Mueller’s team also took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena to Melissa Laurenza, a specialist in lobbying law who formerly represented Mr. Manafort, according to people familiar with the subpoena. Conversations between lawyers and their clients are normally considered bound by attorney-client privilege, but there are exceptions when lawyers prepare public documents that are filed on behalf of their client.” –NYT

Comments »

BIS Uncovers $14 Trillion In Hidden Derivatives ‘Credit Bubble’

The Sword of Damocles still hangs precariously a decade later. -Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has uncovered a $14 trillion dollar-denominated debt bubble hidden in derivatives and swap contracts – a shocking sum that doubles the amount of offshore USD credit in the international system.

While the debt serves as a lubricant and a hedging mechanism for global commerce, its mere existence greatly adds to the risk of a global debt crisis if the the Dollar surges via Fed tightening or extreme risk-off trading.

A forensic study by the BIS concludes that enormous liabilities have accumulated through FX swaps, currency swaps, and “forwards” – all hidden in the footnotes of bank reports.

“Contracts worth tens of trillions of dollars stand open and trillions change hands daily. Yet one cannot find these amounts on balance sheets. The debt is, in effect, missing,” reports a BIS investigative team led by chief economist Claudio Borio.

“A defining question for the global economy is how vulnerable balance sheets may be to higher interest rates,” said Borio, adding “These transactions are functionally equivalent to borrowing and lending in the cash market. Yet the corresponding debt is not shown on the balance sheet and thus remains obscured.”

Booked as a derivative, acts like a debt

Due to global accounting rules, the trillions in new-found debt has been booked as a notional derivative – “even though it is in effect a secured loan with principal to be repaid in full at maturity,” says the BIS.

Often used for dangerous illiquid investments

Via Financial Post

The dollar swaps serve as a “money market” for global finance. Investors often take out short-term contracts that must be rolled over every three months. The great majority have maturities of less than a year. Much of the money is used to make long-term investments in illiquid assets, the time-honoured cause of financial blow-ups. “Even sound institutional investors may face difficulties. If they have trouble rolling over their hedges, they could be forced into fire sales,” said the Swiss-based watchdog.

Signs of strain

The BIS goes on to warn of the massive excesses in debt across the spectrum. “Corporate debt is now considerably higher than it was pre-crisis. Leverage indicators have reached levels reminiscent of those that prevailed during previous corporate credit booms. A growing share of firms face interest expenses exceeding earnings before interest and taxes,” said the report.

The BIS also warns that margin debt on equities exceeds the dotcom extreme in 2000, and so-called ‘leveraged loans’ have surged to a record $1 trillion.

Of interest

So far, the global financial system has been able to service these derivative-based debts thanks to low interest rates – however once rates begin to rise, the entire house of cards will be subject to increasing levels of risk.

The structure is deeply unhealthy. Central bankers dare not lift rates despite economic recovery because of what they might detonate. “There is a certain circularity that points to the risk of a debt trap,” said Borio.”

FP reports “the Achilles Heel is global dollar debt. It was a seizure of the offshore dollar capital markets in late 2008 that turned the Lehman and AIG bankruptcies into a global event, and came close to bringing down the European banking system. “The meltdown in dollar-denominated structured products caused funding markets to seize up and banks to scramble for dollars. Markets calmed only after coordinated central bank swap lines to supply dollars,” said the BIS.”

Will the Fed come to the rescue again?

After former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson held a gun to congress’ head in September of 2008, kicking off Trillions of bailouts and a massive revolving liquidity complex – the U.S. Fed effectively saved the global banking system from disaster. The question now is whether or not they’ll do it again. One would assume that team Yellen / Mnuchen / Cohn could easily convince President Trump to turn on the spigot.

Emerging markets screwed

If the dollar spikes violently, for whatever reason – be it interest rates rising or global risk-off trading and a flight to bonds, the emerging markets stand to suffer the most from a strong dollar.

Via FP:

Currency analysts say it would be an emerging market bloodbath. While the “fragile five” – India, South Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil – have mostly cut their current account deficits and are in better shape than during the “taper tantrum” of 2013, the problem has rotated to oil producers. China’s corporate debt has soared to vertiginous levels.

Recorded dollar debt in emerging markets has doubled to US$3.4 trillion in a decade, without including the hidden swaps. Local currency borrowing has risen by leaps and bounds. They are no longer low-debt economies.

The BIS credit gap indicator of banking risk is flashing a red alert for Hong Kong, reaching 35 per cent of GDP. While it has dropped to 22.1 per cent in China, the country is still in the danger zone. Any sustained reading above 30 is a warning signal for a banking crisis three years later.

So – enjoy historically low interest rates while they last. Lord knows central banks around the globe will be keeping them as low and liquidity-generating as long as they possibly can.

Comments »