He Said That? 5/25/17

From Arthur C. Clarke 1917 – 19 March 2008), British author, inventor, and futurist,The Exploration of Space (1951):

If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one — the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.

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A New Financial System is Being Born, by Michael Krieger

It’s probably time, in fact it’s probably past time, to start paying attention to cryptocurrencies. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

If Bitcoin blew you away when you first discovered it, and continues to do so to this day, Spiral Dynamics can help explain why. Bitcoin was an expression in the physical world of the newly emergent leading-edge integral level consciousness. It drew lessons from history and attempted to take the best of orange and green worldviews and incorporate them into an entirely new form of money. We see the clear presence of free markets and individualism, as well as the intentional separation of the system from dominator hierarchies (bureaucratic government meddling), which had corrupted all money before it. Its greenness is evident in the fact that by design no individual or company controls the network. Global, decentralized, revolutionary technology. This is perhaps the perfect example of integral consciousness operating on our planet at this time from an economics standpoint, and why it has captured the imagination of so many, while at the same time being violently rejected by so many others.

From February’s post: Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward

Although I had heard about it much earlier, I didn’t truly start investigating Bitcoin until the summer of 2012. The more I learned the more my mind was blown away, and for a while I couldn’t think about anything else. What truly solidified its real world usefulness to me was when I discovered it had been used by Wikileaks to accept payments in the midst of a financial services blockade against the renegade publisher. This realization inspired my first Bitcoin related post in August 2012 titled, Bitcoin: A Way to Fight Back Against the Financial Terrorists? 

In that piece, I linked to a Forbes article that detailed the revolutionary events taking place. We learned:

Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010. Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.

Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.

On its public bitcoin address, Wikileaks has taken in over $32,000 equivalent in more than 1,100 separate bitcoin donations throughout the blockade (1BTC = $10.00). But these amounts may be significantly higher, because it does not even include the individually-generated bitcoin addresses that WikiLeaks provides for donors upon request.

To continue reading: A New Financial System is Being Born

Two From Scott Adams

Here’s two more uniquely Scott Adams’ takes on labels and persuasion, from theburningplatform.com:

Goodbye ISIS, Hello Losers

President Trump just gave ISIS its new name: Losers. (Short for Evil Losers).

If you think that’s no big deal, you’re wrong. It’s a big deal. This is – literally – weapons-grade persuasion from the most powerful Master Persuader of our time.

As I have taught you in this blog, President Trump’s clever nicknames for people are not random. They are deeply engineered for visual impact and future confirmation bias.

In this case, the visuals will be provided by future terror attacks. That reinforces the “evil” part, obviously. But more importantly, the Losers will be doing nothing but losing on the battlefield from now until “annihilation.” They are surrounded, and the clock is ticking. Oh, and the press isn’t allowed to watch the final battles. In other words, we won’t need to build new holding cells on Guantanamo Bay this time. No press means no prisoners, if you know what I mean. (American soldiers won’t be shooting the prisoners. We have allies for that sort of thing.)

As you know, “annihilation” of the Losers in Loserdom won’t stop the loser’s ideas from spreading. You still have to kill the ideas. And that takes persuasion, not bullets. President Trump just mapped out the persuasion solution: Evil Losers.

To continue reading: Goodbye ISIS, Hello Losers

The Time I Nudged Climate Scientists into Debunking their Own Models

If you have been reading this blog and following me on Periscope, you know I announced I was going to use my own powers of persuasion to nudge climate scientists into doing a better job of communicating their side of things. The climate models are the least-credible thing scientists do, and yet scientists have been using their models as their featured evidence. No matter which side you are on with the climate change debate, you don’t want either side using their weakest argument. You want both sides to do their best so we can accurately judge who has the strongest thinking. To that end, I framed the “climate models” as being necessarily incomplete because you really need economic models to decide how to react to climate change, not scientific models. And long-term economic models have zero credibility. Even scientists would agree on that point.

Evidently I applied enough persuasion to generate this video that attempts to debunk my debunking of climate models. But it does so by…devaluing their own models. That’s what I was trying to do too. We’re on the same page.

Watch the clip for the Absurd Absolute tell for cognitive dissonance that happens at ten seconds in. The scientist defines the opposition argument with the absurd absolutes “anything” and  “everything.” Whenever you see your opposition create a strawman argument with absurd absolutes, it means you won the debate. You only see this behavior when the opposition has no response to your real argument; they have to transform it into an absurd absolute in order to have any response at all.

I told you I was going to rewire this global debate exactly this way. I did this as a demonstration of the power of persuasion.

Now, do you still think President Trump’s branding of the Losers is just name-calling?

It isn’t.

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/05/25/the-time-i-nudged-climate-scientists-into-debunking-their-own-models/

Manchester Bomber Was Product of West’s Libya/Syria Intervention, by Daniel McAdams

It’s called blowback: you make war on their territory, they make war on yours. From Daniel McAdams at antiwar.com:

Here’s what the media and politicians don’t want you to know about the Manchester, UK, suicide attack: Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old who killed nearly two dozen concert-goers in Manchester, UK, was the product of the US and UK overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and “regime change” policy in Syria. He was a radicalized Libyan whose family fled Gaddafi’s secular Libya, and later he trained to be an armed “rebel” in Syria, fighting for the US and UK “regime change” policy toward the secular Assad government.

The suicide attacker was the direct product of US and UK interventions in the greater Middle East.

According to the London Telegraph, Abedi, a son of Libyan immigrants living in a radicalized Muslim neighborhood in Manchester had returned to Libya several times after the overthrow of Muamar Gaddafi, most recently just weeks ago. After the US/UK and allied “liberation” of Libya, all manner of previously outlawed and fiercely suppressed radical jihadist groups suddenly found they had free rein to operate in Libya. This is the Libya that Abedi returned to and where he likely prepared for his suicide attack on pop concert attendees. Before the US-led attack on Libya in 2011, there was no al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other related terrorist organization operating (at least with impunity) on Libyan soil.

Gaddafi himself warned Europe in January 2011 that if they overthrew his government the result would be radical Islamist attacks on Europe, but European governments paid no heed to the warnings. Post-Gaddafi Libya became an incubator of Islamist terrorists and terrorism, including prime recruiting ground for extremists to fight jihad in Syria against the also-secular Bashar Assad.

In Salman Abedi we have the convergence of both these disastrous US/UK and allied interventions, however: it turns out that not only did Abedi make trips to Libya to radicalize and train for terror, but he also traveled to Syria to become one of the “Syria rebels” fighting on the same side as the US and UK to overthrow the Assad government. Was he perhaps even trained in a CIA program? We don’t know, but it certainly is possible.

To continue reading: Manchester Bomber Was Product of West’s Libya/Syria Intervention

Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War? by Shamus Cooke

Shamus Cooke is overly dramatic with the phrase, “The political noose is tightening around Trump’s neck,” but he gives a good summary of the situation in Syria. (For a great fictional treatment of Syria, see Prime Deceit.) From Cooke at antiwar.com:

The political noose is tightening around Trump’s neck, and he’s got only one way out: war. The U.S. involvement in the Syrian war is accelerating as Trump’s talons dig deeper into the conflict. If he successfully clutches his prey he stands a chance of clinging to the presidency.

The Democrats, now circling a wounded Trump, will happily feast instead on a rotting Syria: the only thing that can keep the Democrats from destroying Trump is if Trump destroys Syria.

Trump’s strategy is based on how Democrats reacted after his first attack on the Syrian government on April 6th: they paused their toothless “resistance” to celebrate his bombing. Trump, at his most dangerous, exposed the Democrats at their weakest.

Now Trump has struck the Syrian government again: on May 18th US fighter jets attacked the Syrian military in Eastern Syria, from a new US military base functioning inside Syrian territory controlled by the Syrian Kurds, where there are at least 1,000 US active troops.

Although the US media underplayed Trump’s recent attack – or ignored it completely – legendary U.K. Middle East journalist Robert Fisk explained the significance:

“…what was described by the Americans as a minor action was part of a far more important struggle between the US and the Syrian regime for control of the southeastern frontier of Syria…”

Yes, the US is already at war with the Syrian government for control of Syrian territory. The US war on ISIS in Syria was never about ISIS, but about gaining a foothold directly inside Syria. Many pundits dismissed Trump’s initial attack on the Syrian government as “symbolic,” when in fact it began a new war. The New York Times confirms the motive of Trump’s war:

“Two competing coalitions that aim to defeat the Islamic State – one [Kurdish and US fighters] backed by American air power, the other [the Syrian government] by Russian warplanes – are racing to the same goal.”

What is this goal?

To continue reading: Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?

Six Terrifying Graphs That Summarize America’s Public Pension Crisis, by Tyler Durden

It’s a question of when, not if, myriad public pensions go broke. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

A new report from the Hoover Institution written by Senior Fellow Joshua Rauh and entitled “Hidden Debt, Hidden Deficits: How Pension Promises Are Consuming State And Local Budgets,” does a masterful job illustrating the true severity of America’s public pension crisis, a topic to which we’ve dedicated a substantial amount of time over the past couple of years.

As part of the study, Rauh reviewed, in detail, 649 state, county and local pension systems in the United States and ranked them based on funding status and impact on local budgets.  What he found was a hidden taxpayer debt burden, in the form of underfunded pensions liabilities, totaling over $3.8 trillion.  Of course, as we’ve pointed out multiple times as well (see “An Unsolvable Math Problem: Public Pensions Are Underfunded By As Much As $8 Trillion“), Rauh argues that that $3.8 trillion taxpayer obligation is actually much larger if you apply some “common sense” math as opposed to “pension math.”

As of fiscal year 2015, the latest year for which complete accounts are available for all cities and states, governments reported unfunded liabilities of $1.378 trillion under recently implemented governmental accounting standards. However, we calculate using market valuation techniques that the true unfunded liability owed to workers based on their current service and salaries is $3.846 trillion. These calculations reflect the fact that accrued pension promises are a form of government debt with strong rights. These unfunded liabilities represent an increase of $434 billion over 2014, as realized asset returns fell far short of their targets.

Governmental accounting standards for pensions underwent some changes in 2014 and 2015 with the implementation of Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) statements 67 and 68, procedures which require state and local governments to report on the assets and liabilities of their systems with a greater degree of harmonization. However, these standards still preserved the basic flaw in governmental pension accounting: the fallacy that liabilities can be measured by choosing an expected return on plan assets. This procedure uses as inputs the forecasts of investment returns on fundamentally risky assets and ignores the risk necessary to target hoped-for returns.

Specifically, the liability-weighted average expected return chosen by systems in 2015 was 7.6 percent. A 7.6 percent expected return implies that state and city governments are expecting the value of the money they invest today to double approximately every 9.5 years. That means that a typical government would view a promise to make a worker a $100,000 payment in 2026 as “fully funded” even if it had set aside less than $50,000 in assets in 2016; a similar payment in 2036 would be viewed as “fully funded” with less than $25,000 in assets in 2016.

With that intro, here are the stats on the worst funded public pension plans by state, county and city.

To continue reading: Six Terrifying Graphs That Summarize America’s Public Pension Crisis

The Trump Collapse Scapegoat Narrative Has Now Been Launched, by Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith reiterates his hypothesis that the world’s financial powers that be, including central banks, are conspiring to bring down the world’s financial and economic systems and blame it on Trump and populist movements. From Smith at alt-market.com:

Last week was a rather crazy one for the news feeds, with cyber attacks and “Comey memos” and a host of other wild mayhem, it may have been difficult for many people to keep track of it all. That said, there was one event that I think went partly under the radar, and I think it is an important signal for anyone concerned with the ongoing process of economic collapse in the U.S.

Generally, the American public holds very little vigilance when it comes to economics. They are distinctly unaware of fundamental indicators such as commodities demand, energy usage, manufacturing, imports, exports and international shipping, etc. What they do take note of, and what the mainstream news will tell them about in 30 second blurbs, is the state of unemployment and whether stock markets were down for the day or up for the day. These two “indicators” are the extent of the average person’s exposure to fiscal health.

This is why the Federal Reserve and the establishment have been meticulous over the past several years in their efforts to keep employment statistics highly manipulated to the positive side and why they have been injecting untold trillions into stocks around the world through various measures including no cost overnight loans.

However, over the past couple of years something has changed. As I warned they would do in 2015 in my article The Real Reasons Why The Fed Will Hike Interest Rates, central banks including the Fed have been backing off of stimulus measures and they have now begun a series of interest rate hikes. Look at it this way — imagine the economy has a terminal disease and the only thing keeping it alive is a highly addictive drug called “free money.” It’s a rather terrible life, barely worth living, but the economy still has a faint pulse as long as the drug is administered. Now, what would happen if the Fed suddenly cuts off the drug supply? Well, the economy will die in a very frantic and horrible way.

To continue reading: The Trump Collapse Scapegoat Narrative Has Now Been Launched