Trump tax plan has lackluster public support, poll says

President Trump and congressional Republicans begin their drive to cut taxes with lackluster public support, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The survey shows that just 25 percent call the Trump tax plan a good idea, while 35 percent call it a bad idea. The remaining 40 percent say they have no opinion. “For what is a major legislative objective of the president and his party, tax reform is in very mushy shape,” said Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who helps produce the NBC/WSJ poll. McInturff’s Democratic counterpart Peter Hart said: “There are a lot of things the Trump administration will have to communicate to get this done.” Among them is the most basic message of all: that the GOP plan will actually cut Americans’ taxes. As the debate gets underway, the poll shows, just 14 percent of Americans believe they’ll get a tax cut, while 25 percent expect their taxes to go up. Similarly, just 19 percent of Americans say the tax legislation will significantly improve the economy. At the same time, 35 percent expect it will substantially increase the budget deficit. The proposal starts with the least favorable public opinion landscape of any major legislative initiative since President Bush’s attempt to partially privatize the Social Security system in Dec. 2004. President Obama’s economic stimulus package and the Affordable Care Act both debuted with greater public support. Concluded McInturff, the GOP pollster: “Trump and Republicans have a long way to go.”

Bloodbath in downtown NYC after driver runs over pedestrians, starts shooting

Up to six people were killed near Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon in a wild incident that involved a truck ramming into victims on the West Side bike path, police sources said. The mayhem happened at West Street and Chambers Street at 3:15 p.m. The suspect was shot and is in police custody, cops said. Witnesses described a scene of terror, saying a man in a truck ran over two people before plowing into a school bus. “Jesus! A car just ran over 2 people and then crashed into a school bus. I see two dead bodies and citibikes on the floor destroyed,” a Twitter user wrote. The suspect then got out of his vehicle with two guns, another witness said. “What happened was there was a car crash … he came out of one of the cars. He had two guns,” a 14-year-old Stuyvesant High School student said. “We thought it was a Halloween thing. He started running around the highway. There was another guy in a green shirt that was chasing him around.” “I heard four to six gunshots — everybody starts running,” she added. Video of the scene shows at least two people lying limp on the street. Photos show a smashed-up Home Depot rental truck and two mangled Citi Bikes. Counter-terror police were searching the truck for explosives. “Oh my god I just heard gun shots and ran with my dog. Downtown. F–k,” Josh Groban tweeted. Police shut down the FDR Drive south of 34th Street to rush victims to Bellevue Hospital.

Schweizer: ‘Is the Mueller Investigation Going to Cross with the Financial Dealings of the Kushner Family?’

Clinton Cash author and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer joined Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Tuesday to discuss Paul Manafort and Rick Gates surrendering to the FBI after being charged by special counsel Mueller, as well as other elements of the ongoing investigation.

He also discussed the news that the Maryland Attorney General is investigating Kushner-owned apartments and what, if anything, Jared Kushner’s business dealings could mean for Mueller’s investigation. “Jared Kushner’s father was charged and convicted on several counts, several felonies, so he went to jail. And then Jared Kushner’s uncle was similarly charged and went to jail. So, it gives one the impression that maybe this is not the most tightly run ship and that there may be other legal problems out there.” “As of yet,” he continued, “there doesn’t seem to have been any connection made so far between Mueller’s investigation and Jared Kushner but that’s the other question because of course, we know the Kushner company has done business and financing with a lot of people around the world and that includes people that have very high connections in Russia.” Schweizer added that that is not unusual in the New York real estate world and said, “the question has always been is the Mueller investigation going to cross with the financial dealings of the Kushner family. And we’re just going to have to wait and see on that.”

North Korea nuclear base COLLAPSES ‘killing at least 200 people’ amid fears of massive radioactive leak

KIM’S DISASTER

A TUNNEL at an underground North Korea nuclear site has collapsed with up to 200 people killed, according to reports. The collapse happened at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the north-east of the country on October 10, according to Japan’s TV Asahi.

 The Punggye-ri test site in North Korea is carved deep into Mount Mantap, as these file images show
The Punggye-ri test site in North Korea is carved deep into Mount Mantap, as these file images show

The disaster has prompted fears of a massive radioactive leak which could spark a Chernobyl- or Fukushima-style disaster. A North Korean official said the collapse happened during the construction of an underground tunnel, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports.Some 100 people are said to have been trapped by the initial tunnel collapse, with a further 100 lost in a second collapse during a rescue operation, Asahi reported Tuesday. The accident is believed to have been caused by Kim Joing-un’s sixth nuclear test on March 3 which weakened the mountain, according to the report. It was reported earlier this year that the mountain under which the base is believed to be hidden was at risk of collapsing and leaking radiation into the region. Experts said if the peak crumbles, clouds of radioactive dust and gas would blanket the region, the South China Morning Post reported. Chinese nuclear weapons researcher and chair of the China Nuclear Society Wang Naiyan told the Morning Post a collapse could spark a major environmental disaster. He said: “We call it ‘taking the roof off’. If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things.

Oil prices near two-year highs as supply cuts bite

Oil prices steadied on Tuesday after a week of gains as the prospect of increasing U.S. exports dampened bullish sentiment that has driven Brent to more than two-year highs above $60 per barrel.

Traders and brokers said investors were adjusting positions after price rises of around 5 percent in October.

Saudis' sweet spot for oil is $60: Helima Croft
Saudi Arabia’s sweet spot for oil is $60 a barrel: RBC’s Helima Croft

Despite generally upbeat sentiment, some analysts also warned the market was overbought, having risen too far, too fast. “U.S. shale output could keep a lid on prices over the medium to long-term,” said Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers. U.S. light crude has been trading at a discount of around $6.70 to Brent making it attractive to refiners.

U.S. crude production has risen almost 13 percent since mid-2016 to 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd).

“The large differential has opened the door on regional arbitrage, driving a spike in U.S. crude exports over recent weeks,” BMI Research said in a note. Despite Tuesday’s price dip, sentiment remained positive, fuelled by a pledge by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other exporters to hold back about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in oil production to tighten markets.

While the actual cuts aren’t quite as high as the target, analysts say overall compliance has been strong.

“The OPEC deal compliance has been very firm, with rates averaging 86 percent since January,” according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The pact runs to March 2018, but Saudi Arabia and Russia have voiced support to extend the agreement. OPEC is scheduled to meet officially at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 30. Nick Bit: they have been trying to “rebalance” the oil market since it plunged below $100 a barrel. this latest try will fail to. The higher oil prices go the more US oil frackers produce.

Mueller Lawyer Called Papadopoulos Plea ‘Small Part’ of Larger Investigation

Robert Mueller / Getty Images
Robert Mueller / Getty Images

Aaron Zelinsky, a lawyer working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, told a federal judge earlier this month that the first guilty plea of the investigation is only a “small part” of a larger probe. “Your Honor, the criminal justice interest being vindicated here is there’s a large scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part,” Zelinsky said. Zelinksy appeared at an Oct. 5 hearing for Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos to detail his guilty plea to one count of making false statements, BuzzFeed reported:

The question arose when US District Judge Randolph Moss asked Zelinsky to explain what interests would justify the court allowing Papadopoulos to waive his rights to seek information about the government’s case against him under the Freedom of Information Act.

Papadopoulos appeared in federal court for the hearing, at which Moss detailed the provisions of the plea agreement. A transcript of the hearing details that the former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser initially was charged with one count of “deletion or destruction of records” — in addition to the “false statement” charge to which he pleaded guilty.

In resolving the FOIA issue, Zelinsky suggested just how key Papadopoulos has been to aspects of the special counsel’s investigation.

“The other important factor in this case is that in the process of his ongoing efforts to cooperate, the Government has shared substantial information with the Defendant that has provided a road map of sorts, if you will, to information that might then be sought on FOIA,” he said.

Papadopoulos’ lawyer Robert Stanley said that his client “at this time has no intention of issuing FOIA requests,” which led to the parties eventually agreeing to a provision that would limit  Papadopoulos from being able to file any FOIA requests during the rest of the Mueller investigation.

 

Catalan leader goes to Brussels, as top prosecutor calls for charges of rebellion

 With Catalonia now under Spain rule, some start to see light at the end of the tunnel

Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has turned up in Brussels, under the threat of criminal charges carrying up to 30 years in prison over his involvement in the push for Catalonia’s independence from Spain. Other regional separatist leaders are also facing the prospect of charges, and were also stripped of their cabinet posts when Spain’s government took direct control of Catalonia Friday. But the first full week of Spanish control of Catalonia has some daring to hope that the country’s worst political crisis in decades may have just turned a corner — a possibility that investors cheered on Monday. Spain’s public prosector said Monday he will seek criminal charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against Catalan leaders behind the region’s push for and declaration of independence. The charges will target 14 members of the Catalan government, including the region’s former President Puigdemont, media reports said. Another six members of the Speaker’s Committee in the now-dissolved Catalan parliament are also listed as targets, but will be tried in a separate court, The Spain Report reported. They face up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of rebellion and up to 15 years for sedition. Misuse of public funds carries a term of up to six years. The former Catalan president, along with an unspecified number of cabinet members, is now in Brussels, media reports said, amid speculation the sacked separatists would seek protection there. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked Puigdemont and his cabinet on Friday, and demoted the local chief of police, Josep Lluis Trapero. These dismissals and others came after Spain’s government received the all-clear to take over the region on Friday. It did that not long after the Catalan parliament declared independence, in a show of defiance by separatists that has plunged the country into the biggest political crisis in decades.

 

Netflix’s new junk bonds are already under water

 Spending ‘that shows no end in sight..with negative free cash flow will result in significantly more debt issuance,’ says fund manager
MarketWatch

Netflix Inc.’s newly issued junk bonds continued to slide Friday, reflecting investor concerns about the company’s growing debt burden and negative free cash flow.

The bonds were last trading at 98.875 cents on the dollar to yield 5.015%, according to MarketAxess. On Thursday, they were quoted at above 99 cents on the dollar. Netflix NFLX, -0.93%  sold $1.6 billion of 10.5-year bonds earlier this week at a yield of 4.875% to mark its biggest bond deal to date. The deal exceeded its May issuance of €1.3 billion ($1.53 billion) of euro-denominated bonds that mature in May 2027. Moody’s rates Netflix at B1, while S&P rates it at B-plus, both four notches into speculative, or “junk,” status. The proceeds of the sale will be used to finance the company’s aggressive spending plans. The company said last week it is planning to spend $7 billion to $8 billion on content next year, up from $6 billion in 2017. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said plans include the release of 80 films in 2018, a particularly startling number when compared with the 106 films the six major Hollywood studios combined released last year.Netflix has $4.8 billion in long-term debt, and expects to generate negative free cash flow of $2 billion to $2.5 billion in 2017, indicating a cash burn of $750 million in the fourth quarter at the midpoint, according to CreditSight analysts. The company’s next maturity is in 2021, when its 5.375% notes will come due.

U.S. House tangles with top tax issues, bill’s timetable in doubt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As a self-imposed mid-week deadline for unveiling a tax-cut bill loomed, Republicans in the U.S. Congress were still grappling with key provisions and some lobbyists expressed concern that a bill might not be ready as expected on Wednesday.Asked by reporters if Republicans would release a bill or a detailed summary, House of Representatives tax committee Chairman Kevin Brady said: “Our plan right now is the bill.” He added that the number of issues still unresolved was “very, very few,” but the Texas Republican did not elaborate. But other lawmakers and lobbyists said major elements were up in the air.

Any significant delay in unveiling a bill could jeopardize the Republicans’ goal of getting it through Congress and onto President Donald Trump’s desk before January 2018. In an effort to fulfill 2016 campaign promises and score their first significant legislative achievement since winning the White House and majorities in Congress, Trump and the Republicans have vowed to enact the first comprehensive tax reform since 1986. But their plan for up to $6 trillion in tax cuts for businesses and individuals over a decade faces challenges, not only from Democrats, but from rank-and-file House Republicans. One example is whether to keep the popular tax deduction for state and local tax (SALT) payments. Over the weekend, Brady said he would preserve the deductibility of property taxes under a potential deal with lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey who oppose ending the SALT deduction. Analysts say eliminating the SALT deduction would disproportionately hit upper middle-class families in high-income tax states. Republicans from those states alone are numerous enough to derail tax legislation.

 

Russia’s election posts reached 126 million people, Facebook will tell Congress

About 40 percent of Americans saw the posts

Russia’s surreptitious campaign to meddle in the US election reached 126 million people through posts on the social network, according to prepared testimony obtained by The Verge. That figure, which is more than 10 times the number of people reportedly exposed to Russia-linked advertising on the site, indicates that more than half of US Facebook users saw Russia-linked posts in the months leading up to the election. The figures are disclosed in prepared testimony scheduled to be delivered Tuesday by Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. “The foreign interference we saw is reprehensible and outrageous and opened a new battleground for our company, our industry and our society,” the testimony says. “That foreign actors, hiding behind fake accounts, abused our platform and other internet services to try to sow division and discord — and to try to undermine our election process — is an assault on democracy, and it violates all of our values.” The foreign interference we saw is reprehensible and outrageous The testimony says that 29 million people were directly served 80,000 posts linked to Russian actors between January 2015 and August 2017. Likes, shares, and comments on those posts delivered them to the additional 97 million people. Facebook has 213 million monthly users in the United States. The activity was not limited to Facebook — the company also will testify that it deleted 170 Instagram accounts, which posted about 120,000 pieces of content. The testimony does not say how many people were reached by the Instagram posts. Google will testify it found 18 channels “likely associated with Russian agents” In his testimony, Stretch plans to lay out Facebook’s plans for addressing future attempts at foreign election meddling, including new tools designed to purge inauthentic accounts and adding 1,000 new employees to review political ads manually.

With first charges, Mueller sends warning to Trump, aides

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller has sent a warning to individuals in President Donald Trump’s orbit: If they lie about contacts between the president’s campaign and Russians, they’ll end up on the wrong end of federal criminal charges.

With the disclosure of the first criminal cases in his investigation, Mueller also showed that he will not hesitate to bring charges against people close to the campaign even if they don’t specifically pertain to Russian election interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Court papers unsealed Monday revealed an indictment against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a guilty plea by another adviser, who admitted to lying to the FBI about meetings with Russian intermediaries. Perhaps more unsettling for the White House, the plea by George Papadopoulos came weeks ago and his initial arrest has been kept quiet for months, all while he has been cooperating with federal agents. The charges had been sealed specifically to keep the news of his guilty plea from discouraging others from cooperating with the special counsel or from destroying evidence. At Papadopoulos’ plea hearing earlier this month, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, hinted at the possibility of more to come. The Mueller probe is “a large-scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part,” Zelinsky said, according to a transcript unsealed Monday. Perilous for the president was the guilty plea by former adviser Papadopoulos, who admitted in newly unsealed court papers that he was told in April 2016 that the Russians had “dirt” on Democratic rival Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” well before it became public that the Democratic National Committee andClinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails had been hacked.

 

 

 

Hungary Warns Europe Is in Danger as Leak Reveals Soros Network’s List of ‘Reliable Allies’ in EU Parliament

Leaked documents listing hundreds of EU parliament members that the George Soros network considers “reliable allies” should raise alarm bells across Europe, says Hungary.

The list, which includes 226 MEPs including former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, seven vice-presidents, and a number of committee heads, coordinators, and quaestors, was circulated within the billionaire open borders campaigner’s Open Society Foundations group, and revealed by DCLeaks. “If this report threatened only Hungary, it wouldn’t be a problem. The Hungarian government has grown accustomed to countering the groundless accusations and false information used by the proponents of this radical open society agenda. But this time it’s not just Hungary. It endangers the future of Europe as a whole,” warned Dr. Zoltán Kovács, Hungary’s secretary of state for Public Diplomacy. The government spokesman questioned how Soros was able to meet with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker with “no transparent agenda for their closed-door meeting”, and pointed out how EU proposals to redistribute quotas of migrants across the EU are eerily familiar to Soros’s own self-published plan for dealing with the crisis.

For the Hungarian government, claims about Soros’s influence on EU migration policy which once sounded “like a conspiracy theory” should be seen in a new light with the emergence of the Open Society documents, which “list key players in European institutions that can be counted on as trustworthy allies of the financial speculator’s goals”.

Tech executives head to U.S. Congress under harsh spotlight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O), Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google head before U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday for two days of grueling hearings on how Russia allegedly used their services to try to sway the 2016 U.S. election. At stake for the Silicon Valley companies are their public images and the threat of tougher advertising regulations in the United States, where the technology sector has grown accustomed to light treatment from the government. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, added fuel to the debate on Monday when it told Congress in written testimony that 126 million Americans may have seen politically divisive posts that originated in Russia under fake names.That is in addition to 3,000 U.S. political ads that Facebook says Russians bought on its platform.  Google and Twitter have also said that people in Russia used their services to spread messages in the run-up to last year’s U.S. presidential election.The Russian government has denied it intended to influence the election, in which President Donald Trump, a Republican, defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.  U.S. lawmakers have responded angrily to the idea of foreign meddling, introducing legislation to require online platforms to say who is running election ads and what audiences are targeted. “The companies need to get ahead of the curve here,” said James Lewis, senior vice president of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. If they can, he added, they might avoid regulation.

Facebook and Twitter are dispatching their general counsels, Colin Stretch and Sean Edgett, to appear before the subcommittee, while Google is sending its director of law enforcement and information security, Richard Salgado.

 

Investigations of Manafort in New York Are Beyond Trump’s Power to Pardon

Republican nominee Donald Trump and Campaign Manager Paul Manafort do a walk thru at the Republican Convention, July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brooks Kraft | Getty Images Republican nominee Donald Trump and Campaign Manager Paul Manafort do a walk thru at the Republican Convention, July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
In July, President Trump wrote on Twitter that “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.”

But for Paul J. Manafort, who surrendered to the F.B.I. on Monday after being indicted on federal criminal charges, Mr. Trump’s power has a limitation of potential significance: a presidential pardon does not apply to charges from state and local authorities. Although it is not known whether Mr. Manafort will receive or even request a presidential pardon, he also faces scrutiny from authorities in New York whose prosecutions would not be subject to one. Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, and Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general, have been pursuing their own investigations into Mr. Manafort, a former campaign chairman to Mr. Trump. Although those investigations are unfolding separately from the federal case that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, filed against Mr. Manafort, the New York authorities are examining some of the same activity highlighted in the federal indictment, underscoring the relevance of their exemption from a potential pardon.

The two New York prosecutors, both Democrats, have issued subpoenas and sought financial records about Mr. Manafort’s real estate and business activities in New York, according to three people briefed on the investigations who were not authorized to discuss law enforcement matters that were continuing.

Possible violations being pursued by Mr. Vance could carry prison sentences of up to four years for Mr. Manafort, who has denied any wrongdoing. The two New York prosecutors, both Democrats, have issued subpoenas and sought financial records about Mr. Manafort’s real estate and business activities in New York, according to three people briefed on the investigations who were not authorized to discuss law enforcement matters that were continuing. Possible violations being pursued by Mr. Vance could carry prison sentences of up to four years for Mr. Manafort, who has denied any wrongdoing.

GE ratings outlook revised to negative at Fitch

Move reflects worry about company’s free cash flow, margins and weak demand in the power segment

Getty Images

Fitch Ratings said  it is revising the outlook on General Electric Co.’s issuer default rating to negative from stable following an earnings report that revealed several areas of concern, in the latest blow to the storied blue-chip company.

Fitch has an AA-minus issuer default rating on the industrial company GE, +0.15% The negative outlook means the agency could downgrade the rating in the medium term. The move “reflects larger concerns following GE’s third quarter earnings around the scope of actions needed to build stronger margins and free cash flow (FCF), recent high working capital usage, an increase in Fitch’s estimate of negative FCF in 2017, and weak demand in the power segment that appears likely to carry into 2018,” the ratings agency wrote in a report. Adding to the gloom are GE’s large net pension liabilities and the risk it will be pushed by activist shareholder Trian Fund Management, now on its board, to take on more debt. “Following third quarter results and GE’s revised outlook, Fitch now believes GE’s profitability and cash flow may take longer to improve than originally expected, depending on the outcome of the company review and how quickly GE can address its operating performance,” said the agency. “Concerns about GE’s performance are reduced by results in the other businesses which collectively realized a margin improvement of 250 bps in the third quarter. “

Mueller probe may ground Trump’s unconventional success

“There is NO COLLUSION!” the President wrote on Twitter.
As it sought to find its balance, the White House was quick to seek out vulnerabilities in Mueller’s initial gambit. But it was also immediately clear that its efforts, while serviceable in a political context, were much less suited to the constraining legal reality that is
One White House official told CNN the President was bewildered by Papadopoulos being swept up in the case, apparently seeking to further diminish his role as a linchpin in Mueller’s presentation. “The President is going, ‘Really, this is the guy?'” the official said. Nick Bit: the President can Twit until the Swallows return to Capistrano… THEIR WAS COLLOUSION and A  COVER UP TO BOOT

The US Government Quietly Added $200 Billion To The National Debt This Month Alone

In the month of October alone, the US national debt has soared by nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

This is pretty astonishing given that October is supposed to be a ‘good’ month for the US Treasury Department. The tax extension deadline means that October is usually quite strong for federal tax receipts.

And it has been– taxpayers have written checks totaling $190 billion to Uncle Sam so far this month. Yet despite being flush with tax revenue, the US government still managed to pile almost a quarter of a trillion dollars more on top of its already enormous mountain of debt.It’s always surprising to me how a story this monumental never receives any coverage.

The government of the largest, most important economy in the world is completely, woefully bankrupt. And its rate of decline is accelerating.

You’d think this would be on the front page of every major newspaper in the world. But it’s not. It’s shrugged off as par for the course, as if accumulating historic levels of debt is somehow consequence-free.

And this complacency is what I find the MOST bizarre.

Consider the following: the US government spends nearly the ENTIRETY of its tax revenue on Social Security, Medicare, and Interest on the Debt.

Throw in national defense spending and the budget deficit is already hundreds of billions of dollars. And that’s before they pay for anything else within the federal government: The Internal Revenue Service. National Parks. Highways. The guys who graze your genitals with the backs of their hands at the airport.Congress could literally cut almost everything we think of as ‘government’ and they’d still lose hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Oh, and raising taxes doesn’t solve this problem.

Over the past eight decades since the end of World War II, tax rates in the United States have been all over the board. The highest marginal tax rate on individual income has been as high as 92% (in 1952-1953) and as low as 28% (1988-1990). The corporate tax rate has gyrated between 53% and 34%. Capital gains rates have been as high as 35% and as low as 15%. Yet throughout it all, overall tax revenue as a percentage of GDP has barely budged. This is how governments measure tax revenue– as a percentage of the overall economy. It’s like measuring how big a slice of the economic pie ends up in the government’s pocket.

Continue reading “The US Government Quietly Added $200 Billion To The National Debt This Month Alone”

Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone

Facebook and Google have faced pressure from lawmakers after disclosures of Russia-linked interference on their platforms last year. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner spoke about online political ads and preventing foreign interference in elections this month. Credit Al Drago for The New York Time
 WASHINGTON — Russian agents disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook while uploading more than 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times, underlining the breadth of the Kremlin’s efforts to sow division in the United States using American technology platforms.

The detailed disclosures, sent to Congress on Monday by two companies whose products are the most widely used on the internet, came before a series of congressional hearings this week into how third parties used social networks and online services to influence millions of Americans before the 2016 presidential election. The new information goes far beyond what Facebook and Google have revealed in the past and illustrate how Facebook, in particular, was used by agents linked to Russia. Multiple investigations of Russian meddling have loomed over the first 10 months of Mr. Trump’s presidency, resulting this week in the indictments of Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chief, and others. In prepared remarks sent to Congress, Facebook said the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin, posted roughly 80,000 pieces of divisive content that was shown to about 29 million people between January 2015 and August 2017. Those posts were then liked, shared and followed by others, spreading the messages to tens of millions more people. Facebook also said it had found and deleted more than 170 accounts on its photo-sharing app Instagram; those accounts had posted about 120,000 pieces of Russia-linked content. Previously, Facebook had said it identified more than $100,000 in advertisements paid for by the Internet Research Agency. The Russia-linked posts were “an insidious attempt to drive people apart,” Colin Stretch, the general counsel for Facebook who will appear at the hearings, said in his prepared remarks. He called the posts “deeply disturbing,” and noted they focused on race, religion, gun rights, and gay and transgender issues, in attempts to spread discord among Americans. The new information also illuminated when Facebook knew that there had been Russian interference on its platform. Several times before the election last Nov. 8, Facebook said its security team discovered threats targeted at employees of the major American political parties from a group called APT28, an agency that United States law enforcement officials have previously linked to Russian military intelligence operations.

Trump drama could have detrimental impact on the market, some strategists say

Robert Mueller

 

As political uncertainty continues to mount, some strategists fear intensifying D.C. drama could further push out a tax reform package and roil markets. Following Monday’s disclosure that two former Trump campaign officials were indicted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, continued political turmoil could have a potential “long-term and very negative impact on capital markets,” said strategist Boris Schlossberg. “The critical question going forward is whether this is just a one-and-done, or whether it’s just the beginning of a very long and perhaps a very, very tedious judicial process that could really weigh both on Washington and Wall Street as we go forward,” Schlossberg, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said Monday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” These questions come as economic data have been “superb,” Schlossberg said. Specifically, he pointed to the latest consumer spending data, which reflected the largest monthly gain since 2009 (likely affected by spending related to recent hurricane devastation), and personal income, which also rose month-over-month.

Still, “markets are very concerned, because the big catalyst going forward is tax reform. That’s what the market is looking for as the next jump-start to get the economy going to the next level,” he said. Should the administration’s agenda stall further, “that could weigh very badly on the market,” he said.

According to a Bloomberg News report on Monday, Republicans are considering “gradually” lowering the corporate tax rate, and markets had a relatively muted response. Furthermore, the market is also ripe for some kind of pullback, Schlossberg said, which gives him an overall cautious view heading into the rest of the year.

Ex-Trump advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents, authorities reveal

Former Trump advisor pleads guilty to making false statements to FBI agents
Former Trump advisor pleads guilty to making false statements to FBI agents
 

An advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to FBI agents about when he met with Russian nationals to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, according to court filings released Monday. The documents revealed that George Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27 upon arrival at Dulles International Airport from an undisclosed location. According to the documents, shortly after Papadopoulos learned he would become a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, he met in March 2016 with a Russian professor who claimed to have “dirt” on Clinton. Investigators say Papadopoulos had told them he met with the professor before he learned of his role in the campaign. Ten days later, Papadopoulos met with a female Russian national who was introduced to him as a niece of Russian President Vladimir Putin with ties to senior Kremlin officials, investigators said. He told investigators that his correspondence with the woman was superficial when in fact the purpose of the contacts was to set up a meeting between Russian leaders and the Trump campaign, the court filings said. The filings say Papadopoulos is cooperating with the U.S. government in its ongoing investigation of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

News of Papadopoulos’ plea deal came on the heels of a separate indictment unsealed Monday of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates. Earlier Monday, Manafort and Gates surrenderedafter being charged on 12 counts related to concealing foreign payments, including one count of “conspiracy against the United States.” The two men had been the first people charged in the Russia investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Trump responded to the news on Twitter, saying that the alleged crimes occurred well before Manafort joined the Trump campaign in 2016.

Ex-Trump advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents

An early advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents, according to court filings released Monday. The U.S. alleges that George Papadopoulos made contact with foreign nationals tied to the Russian government and subsequently lied to federal agents about those meetings. Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27 and entered a plea deal on Oct. 5. According to the documents, Papadopoulos met with a female Russian national in March 2016. This woman was allegedly introduced to Papadopoulos, then foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign, as a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with ties to senior Kremlin officials. The filings also say that Papadopoulos is cooperating with the U.S. government in its ongoing investigation of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. Papadopoulos’ attorneys declined to comment on the case.

Trump responded to the news on Twitter, saying that the alleged crimes occurred well before Manafort joined the Trump campaign in 2016.

Nick Bit:The Hell their is not Collusion. Papadopoulos is singing his heart out. And yes he is providing evidence of Russian collusion. It goes so far that he met as Trumps campaign foreign policy advisor with a close relative to Putin!

Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Indicted

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s campaign chairman, at the Republican National Convention in July. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates were told to surrender to federal authorities Monday morning, the first charges in a special counsel investigation, according to a person involved in the case. The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Mr. Gates, a business associate of Mr. Manafort, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office. Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and business people in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show. Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign activities. Many of these events occurred while he was Trumps campaign manager. Nick Note:  This is the day that the end of Donald Trumps presidency has begun. Please note Illegal money was used to buy a palace in Trump tower. And to provide Russian “help” through Manafort and Flynn that got Trump elected.

Households earning between $50,000 and $150,000 would see their taxes rise immediately,.

President Trump with Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, as the president visited Capitol Hill last Tuesday to push for his tax plan. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
 The old formula for passing a big tax cut for the rich was simple: Package it with a modest tax cut for the middle class — and talk endlessly about the middle-class part.

President Trump and Congress are following the formula in some ways. Their plan would deliver an average tax cut of $700,000 to the nation’s  richest families. That’s enough for each to buy a new 50-foot yacht, annually. Meanwhile, Trump and other Republican leaders keep repeating “middle class,” “middle class,” “middle class.” Yet there is also a major difference between the current plan and George W. Bush’s tax cut or Ronald Reagan’s. Trump’s plan would not actually cut taxes for many middle-class families. It would raise them.

Whose Taxes Would Rise?

People earning between $50,000 and 150,000 would actually see their taxes RISE. Tax breaks for the very wealthy and tax increases for the average American. The opposition to the recent health care bills also started as an underdog and managed to prevail, by relentlessly talking about the bills’ effects. When enough Americans understood the truth, enough members of Congress felt pressure to vote no.

The same could happen on taxes. It is already starting to. Recent polls suggest the plan’s approval rating is only about 30 percent.

 The plan commits its cardinal sin. It places the highest priority on huge tax cuts for the very wealthy. They get lower rates and get to keep cherished tax breaks, like the “carried interest” loophole.

 For the middle class and poor families. package is a mix of pluses and minuses. Many face a  higher rate  and many families lose deductions. The combination creates a lot of losers. Reduced deductions for children, for example, hurt large families, notes N.Y.U.’s Lily Batchelder. And the deduction for state and local taxes — also a target for cuts — now benefits 30 percent of households nationwide would be lost… raising their taxes significantly. The plan would radically increase the federal deficit. Trump and his allies are feverishly trying to claim their plan really would benefit the middle class. Their latest talking point is the notion that corporate tax cuts will create an indirect windfall for workers. Funny, though, how the wealthy get the direct benefits of massive tax decreases, while everyone else has to hope for indirect ones somehow to magically  materialize.

Mueller charges would shift the script for Trump

(CNN)As early as Monday, special counsel Robert Mueller, brought in to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, could have someone in custody. This follows CNN’s Friday night story, citing sources briefed on the matter, which revealed that a federal grand jury has approved the first charges in the investigation. Regardless of who is charged and what the charges are, it is clear that the news constitutes a major political blow to President Donald Trump. After a week when the President attempted to spin a story about Hillary Clinton’s corruption and collusion vis-a-vis the Russians, when some Republicans called on Mueller to resign and when the administration insisted that the congressional investigations come to an end, the hard-hitting Mueller may be about to shift the conversation.

Attacks on Hillary Clinton show Team Trump won't go down without a fight
Attacks on Hillary Clinton show Team Trump won’t go down without a fight
 The impact of the first charges will be as much about how they are handled politically as they are legally.  And it is far from clear how this drama will unfold. The charges on Monday could have a similar effect as the Watergate indictments in March 1974, when several of President Richard Nixon’s top aides and a lawyer for his reelection campaign were indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice and a conspiracy to cover-up the 1972 break-in at the Democratic headquarters. Although we often praise Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for bringing down the President with their reporting, special prosecutor Leon Jaworski had a huge impact as well. When Americans read on the front pages of their papers that John Mitchell (former Attorney General and chairman of the Committee to Reelect the President), H.R. Haldeman (former chief of staff), John Ehrlichman (former domestic advisor), Charles Colson (former White House counsel) and others were indicted, they were shocked.
 Today Republicans have been issuing warnings about the President and Mueller himself — react to these charges in the next few weeks will be as important as the charges themselves. Will President Trump, as he has done in the past, overreact by tweeting himself into more trouble or triggering a constitutional crisis by trying to have Mueller fired? Will supportive Republicans be able to persuade the public that the indictments do not directly implicate the President in any wrongdoing? Will people who may be indicted provide Mueller with even more damaging information?   But the most important question will be whether Democrats and Republicans who are not blindly loyal to the President can do what Nixon era investigators accomplished. Can they make certain that the courts, the prosecutor and Congress coordinate their efforts to ensure that the final stages of the decision-making draw bipartisan support?  Nick Bit: Hear me clearly…. Their is no doubt in my mind that Trump will go down. He will never finish his first term. Love him,  hate him or leave him bottom line is the US will be knocked on its ass as Trump is forced form office. In fact the only question is will he be impeached, Taken out of office by the military or declared insane by the 25th amendment…..

GOP tax reveal to set off ‘corporate hunger games’

Details of GOP tax plan released
Details of GOP tax plan released

  Tax bill revealed: President Trump’s push to overhaul the U.S. tax system is about to face its biggest test yet. Up until this point, the GOP tax “plan” has been limited to a broad, mostly detail-free framework of ideas that many lawmakers and business groups could get behind. But come Wednesday, it will be all about the details when House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady promises to unveil his 1,000-page tax reform bill. And it’s those critical details in the bill that could make or break the legislation. At issue: How will Brady propose to pay for the big business tax cuts Republicans have promised? Lawmakers, businesses and lobbyists will fight tooth and nail to preserve tax breaks they covet. “Expect them to push back as if this was a life-or-death struggle because for many, it is,” Chris Krueger, managing director of the Cowen Washington Research Group, wrote in a recent report. “Welcome to the corporate hunger game.” The official path to modernize America’s outdated tax system was created when the House narrowly (216-212) passed a budget this week that includes instructions to fast-track a tax reform bill that allows for $1.5 trillion worth of tax cuts over 10 years. But it won’t be an easy path. “The road ahead is bumpy and riddled with potholes,” Isaac Boltansky, senior policy analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, wrote in a recent report. Of course, Wall Street will be watching the tax battle very closely because hopes for massive tax cuts have helped send the stock market to new heights in recent months. Investors could get nervous if it looks like those tax cuts will be scuttled by GOP infighting.

Jared Kushner’s Brother Writes Op-Ed Criticizing Trump Administration’s Obamacare Efforts

An op-ed by Joshua Kushner, the brother of White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, published Friday criticizes the Trump administration’s “last-minute policy moves” in relation to fixing Obamacare. Kushner, the co-founder of Oscar Health Insurance, and Oscar Health Insurance’s CEO Mario Schlosser, wrote the piece for Axios, published Friday, titled: “The individual market will thrive in the long run.”

Not since the first year of the Affordable Care Act has there been so much uncertainty at the start of an open enrollment period. How many Americans will sign up for health coverage? As experts weigh the uncertain impact of the Trump administration’s last-minute policy moves, estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and Urban Institute range from nearly one million fewer Americans with coverage to at least 600,000 more.

President Trump ran on the promise to repeal-and-replace Obamacare, but multiple bills to do so have failed in the Senate after a number of establishment Republicans refused to back the various forms of legislation. President Trump subsequently signed an executive order this month that expands access to association health plans by small businesses, expands the length of short-term health plans, and expands health reimbursement accounts for small businesses. He also signed an order halting payments to insurers, which critics of Obamacare have described as bailouts for insurance companies.

U.S. oil exports boom, putting infrastructure to the test

NEW YORK/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Tankers carrying record levels of crude are leaving in droves from Texas and Louisiana ports, and more growth in the fledgling U.S. oil export market may before long test the limits of infrastructure like pipelines, dock space and ship traffic.

U.S. crude exports have boomed since the decades-old ban was lifted less than two years ago, with shipments recently hitting a record of 2 million barrels a day. But shippers and traders fear the rising trend is not sustainable, and if limits are hit, it could pressure the price of U.S. oil.

How much crude the United States can export is a mystery. Most terminal operators and companies will not disclose capacity, and federal agencies like the U.S. Energy Department do not track it. Still, oil export infrastructure will probably need further investment in coming years. Bottlenecks would hit not only storage and loading capacity, but also factors such as pipeline connectivity and shipping traffic. Analysts believe operators will start to run into bottlenecks if exports rise to 3.5 million to 4 million barrels a day. RBC Capital analysts put the figure lower, around 3.2 million bpd. The United States has not come close to that yet. A total of the highest loading days across Houston, Port Arthur, Corpus Christi and St. James/New Orleans – the primary places where crude can be exported – comes to about 3.2 million bpd, according to Kpler, a cargo tracking service. But with total U.S. crude production currently at 9.5 million barrels a day and expected to add 800,000 to 1 million bpd annually, export capacity could be tested before long. Over the past four weeks, exports averaged 1.7 million bpd, more than triple a year earlier. “Right now, there seems to be a little more wiggle room for export levels,” said Michael Cohen, head of energy markets research at Barclays. “Two to three years down the road, if U.S. production continues to grow like current levels, the market will eventually signal that more infrastructure is needed. But I don’t think a lot of those plans are in place right now.” If exports do hit a bottleneck, it would put a ceiling on how much oil shippers get out of the country. Growing domestic oil production and limited export avenues could sink U.S. crude prices. Nick Bit: profits will mean that the infrastructure will be built. They can get a extra $5 a barrel profit after costs by simply shipping oil to Europe and Asia. As i have predicted the US this decade will become the worlds largest oil and gas exporter. We are already the worlds largest fossil fuels producer.

Continue reading “U.S. oil exports boom, putting infrastructure to the test”

Multiple Texans Kneel During Anthem vs. Seahawks After Bob McNair’s Comments

After controversial comments made by owner Bob McNair, several Houston Texans players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.  Lindsey Wisniewski of USA Today captured an image featuring Texans players kneeling on the sideline:

Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, approximately 10 Texans stood during the anthem with their hand over their heart.  On Friday, ESPN The Magazine‘s Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. reported McNair said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison,” during the NFL owners’ meetings on Oct. 18 in response to player protests during the national anthem.  After McNair’s comments were made public, ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop reported wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back D’Onta Foreman missed Friday’s practice and other players left the team facilities before returning to practice.

Puerto Rico will lean on New York, Florida for help restoring its grid after scrapping of Whitefish deal

A woman looks at the damages in the neighbour's house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 21, 2017.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins | Reuters A woman looks at the damages in the neighbour’s house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Salinas, Puerto Rico, September 21, 2017.

After days of pointed questions and mounting ouctry, the head of Puerto Rico’s beleaguered power utility announced on Sunday that it had put an end to a contract it granted to Whitefish Energy, which was worth up to $300 million. The small, virtually unknown Montana based company landed the heavily scrutinized deal to aid in the restoration of power on the island of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria’s total destruction of the power grid. “We are very disappointed in the decision by Governor Rosselló to ask PREPA to cancel the contract which led to PREPA’s announcement this afternoon,” Whitefish said in a statement issued on Sunday. “The decision will only delay what the people of Puerto Rico want and deserve – to have the power restored quickly in the same manner their fellow citizens on the mainland experience after a natural disaster,” the company added. The Whitefish contract with PREPA—which has $9 billion in outstanding debt and officially entered into a bankruptcy-like preceding in July—sparked outrage among members of U.S. Congress, several of whom called for an investigation into the bidding process. It set off alarm bells among government watchdogs, FEMA and other parts of the Trump administration, which in recent days was forced to distance itself from the increasingly controversial bid.

The power station Central San Juan of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is seen in San Juan.
Alvin Baez-Hernandez | Reuters

The power station Central San Juan of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is seen in San Juan. However, where does that leave the cash-strapped island as it struggles to recover from the devastation of Maria? Ricardo Ramos, the CEO of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) noted that cancelling the contract may set back power restoration efforts an additional 10 to 12 weeks. Maria, a powerful category 4 storm, made landfall on Puerto Rico more than a month ago, and still more than 70 percent of the island’s 3.4 million residents are without power. Earlier on Sunday, Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced plans to appoint an administrator from the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority to oversee the Purchasing and Supplies Division of PREPA. In order to make up for the reduction of power brigades caused by the cancellation of the Whitefish deal, Rosselllo initiated a process of requesting “mutual aid agreements” with the states of Florida and New York.

Trump urges Republicans to ‘DO SOMETHING!’ as D.C. awaits first arrest in Mueller probe

President accuses Democrats of ‘Witch Hunt for evil politics’

President Donald Trump, in a series of tweets Sunday, again denied any collusion with Russia during the presidential election, and called on Republicans to “DO SOMETHING!” against his political opponents, as Washington awaited the announcement of exactly who has reportedly been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s election-meddling probe. “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier,” Trump said. “Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

The tweets came after reports emerged Friday that a federal grand jury has issued a sealed indictment connected with Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. An arrest could come as soon as Monday, reports said.  Nick Bit: these are words of a very desperate man. In fact he is getting more desperate by the day. I could see he doing something crazy!

President Donald Trump Tweets Clinton/Russia Ties Should Be Investigated

President Donald Trump’s tweeted on Sunday about the lack of investigation into Hillary Clinton and her ties to a number of scandals.

Trump tweeted:

Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….

…the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia ….

… ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s …

… are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!

Trump also expressed his frustration that the latest Russian scandal could distract from the task of tackling tax reform.

“All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!” Trump tweeted.

Corker: Trump Is ‘Exhibiting’ Some of Kim Jong-Un’s Erratic Tendencies

Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said President Donald Trump was “exhibiting some of those same tendencies” as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Corker said, “The tweets that are sent out mocking a leader of another country raises tensions in the region. And so people are sitting there, they know they have got an erratic leader in North Korea, they lived with three erratic leaders. Actually, this is the third one, then when we start exhibiting some of those same tendencies, it creates an air that leads again more fully towards conflict. What we need to be doing is supporting the efforts that secretary Tillerson an

Christie: Mueller’s targets should be concerned

“I’ve not yet seen anything that makes me think he must step down, that there’s an absolutely indisputable conflict,” Christie said.
Christie added that he thought Mueller needed to be “careful” to maintain his impartiality and ensure the public accepts that the investigation has followed only the facts.
“I think that he has to be very, very careful about making sure that the public believes that he has no conflicts and that his integrity is unquestioned,” Christie said. Christie, one of President Donald Trump’s earliest and most prominent GOP allies, said he had not seen anything from the White House “trying to impugn” Mueller in recent weeks. South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy echoed Christie’s comments on “Fox News Sunday,” vouching for Mueller’s integrity while acknowledging many of his colleagues do not feel the same way.
“I readily concede I’m in an increasingly small group of Republicans,” said Gowdy, a member of the House intelligence committee.
Gowdy, himself a former prosecutor, praised Mueller’s record as FBI director and described him as “apolitical.”
In a series of tweets later Sunday morning, Trump again derided the investigation as a “witch hunt” and called for action against his political opponents instead of the probes into allegations of collusion between his associates and Russia.

Home Builders Will Oppose Republican Tax Bill

National Association of Home Builders concerned about mortgage-interest deduction; Republicans say will retain an itemized deduction for property taxes

 WASHINGTON—An influential home builders group will oppose the House Republicans’ forthcoming tax bill, in a blow to the party’s attempt to forge unity among business sectors.

The National Association of Home Builders, which had expressed openness to changes in the mortgage-interest deduction, decided it couldn’t back the GOP bill. The association’s leaders made the decision after top Republicans told them this weekend that they wouldn’t replace deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes with a new tax credit. Instead, the bill will retain an itemized deduction for property taxes, the House Ways and Means Committee said late Saturday. That is a concession to lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey. “It’s a bad bill for the housing sector,” Jerry Howard, CEO of the builders group, said in an interview on Saturday. “We will not be for it.” House Republicans plan to release their tax bill on Wednesday. The tax legislation is the centerpiece of the GOP’s economic and political agenda, and many details have been closely guarded as lawmakers try to build a coalition to push it through the House before Thanksgiving.

The plan nearly doubles the standard deduction, ends personal exemptions and likely repeals the deductions for state and local income and sales taxes. The combination would remove much of the incentive for the mortgage-interest deduction outside the highest-cost areas and could potentially hurt home prices.

Republicans had been talking about replacing those breaks with a tax credit for all but the highest-income households. Such a credit have included property taxes and interest and replace the remnants of the mortgage-interest deduction. According to estimates from the Tax Policy Center—which includes assumptions about blanks left in the House GOP plan—the current Republican framework would leave 4% of taxpayers claiming the mortgage-interest deduction, down from 21% today.

FBI Probe Of Paul Manafort Focuses On 13 “Suspicious” Wire Transfers

The FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, includes a keen focus on a series of suspicious wire transfers in which offshore companies linked to Manafort moved more than $3 million all over the globe between 2012 and 2013. Much of the money came into the United States.These transactions — which have not been previously reported — drew the attention of federal law enforcement officials as far back as 2012, when they began to examine wire transfers to determine if Manafort hid money from tax authorities or helped the Ukrainian regime close to Russian President Vladimir Putin launder some of the millions it plundered through corrupt dealings. The new revelations come as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is tightening, with reports that an indictment may already have been issued. It is not known if Manafort has been indicted, or if he ever will be. Manafort has been the subject of multiple law enforcement and congressional inquiries. A spokesperson for Manafort would not comment for this story about the investigation or any of the specific transactions, but Manafort has previously denied wrongdoing. Manafort took charge of Trump’s campaign in May 2016 and was forced to resign just three months later, amid intense media scrutiny of his ties to the notoriously corrupt former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was supported by the Kremlin. A political operative for decades, the 68-year-old Manafort has worked for Republicans such as Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, as well as for foreign leaders such as former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. He has emerged as a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, in part because of Manafort’s many ties to prominent Russians and his work with Yanukovych. Manafort is reportedly also being investigated for money laundering by federal prosecutors in New York City, but there have been no formal charges from that probe. The FBI searched his home during a pre-dawn raid this summer, reportedly as part of Mueller’s probe. Manafort has consistently maintained his innocence.

Robert Mueller
Alex Wong / Getty Images Robert Mueller

Now, BuzzFeed News has learned that investigators have been scrutinizing at least 13 wire transfers between 2012 and 2013. The transfers were first flagged by American financial institutions, which are required by law to tell an office within the Treasury Department about any transactions they deem suspicious. Such “suspicious activity reports” do not prove wrongdoing. Federal law requires financial institutions to file reports on cash transactions that exceed $10,000 in a single day, even if those transactions seem otherwise legitimate. Banks are also required to file the reports whenever they suspect money laundering or other financial crimes.

Continue reading “FBI Probe Of Paul Manafort Focuses On 13 “Suspicious” Wire Transfers”

Trump approval rating hits lowest ever amid tax reform debate, GOP departures from Senate

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

Voters have given President Donald Trump the worst ever marks of his presidency, according to a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday, which showed ominous signs of voter discontent ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.  Trump’s job approval rating hit 38 percent, having tumbled 5 points from September, with 58 percent saying they disapprove of his presidency. His previous low was a 39 percent approval rating in May. The NBC-WSJ poll results largely mirrored the results of a Fox News poll released on Friday, which also showed the president with a 38 percent approval rating amid plummeting support among his Republican base. The survey results take place against a backdrop of tax reform on Capitol Hill, where both the White House and Congressional Republicans are in desperate need of a legislative win. The high profile failure of Obamacare repeal, coupled with the impending departures of senior GOP leaders, have raised the stakes. His loss of support also takes place at a time of pitched cultural debate involving professional athletes opting to sit or kneel during the national anthem at games. Last month, the president sparked a firestorm by demanding the NFL require players to stand, or fire them if they don’t. Trump’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which resulted in a war of words between he and the mayor of San Juan, also provoked days of bad press, even as voters appeared to give him a thumbs up for his handling of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. According to the NBC News poll, the president earned his highest marks on that score. Independents have become broadly disenchanted with the president, with his support falling from 41 percent in September to 34 percent currently, according to the NBC-WSJ poll. His support among white voters has also fallen below 50 percent, and Trump’s ratings among whites without a college degree has also taken a hit.

Botulism pills, the CIA, the Mob and the JFK assassination

WASHINGTON (AP) — Botulism pills. Conspiracy theories. What the government might have known and still won’t say about Lee Harvey Oswald. The release of thousands of records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy hasn’t settled the best-known, real-life whodunit in American history. But the record offered riveting details of the way intelligence services operated at the time and are striving to keep some particulars a secret even now. “The Kennedy records really are an emblem of the fight of secrecy against transparency,” said Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the private National Security Archive research group in Washington. “The ‘secureaucrats’ managed to withhold key documents and keep this long saga of secrecy going.” The 2,800 records released on Thursday night include some that had dribbled out over the years but are getting renewed attention from being in this big batch.

Just a few hours after Lee Harvey Oswald was killed in Dallas, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover dictated a memo saying the government needed to issue something “so we can convince the public” that Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy.

President Trump blocked the release of hundreds of records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, bending to CIA and FBI appeals, while the National Archives came out Thursday night with a hefty cache of others. (Oct. 26)

 

 

 

Robotics Company Developing Machines to Give Workers Superhuman Strength

Utah-based robotics company Sarcos is focused on augmenting, rather than replacing, human workers with robots.

Sarcos CEO Ben Wolff was very clear about the philosophy behind creating machines that will give human workers superhuman strength:

To err may be human, but it’s really, really difficult to get a robot to be able to do all the kinds of analytics and decision-making that humans can do. The processor that we all have … is absolutely the best on the planet. So while there will always be error, the fact is that there will be even more error if we were solely relying on AI.

The 1980s prosthetic manufacturer became the robotics arm of the defense contractor Raytheon in 2007 before regaining its independence in 2014. Rather than substituting human intellect for silicon, however, Sarcos believes that real people remain the most practical solution to our modern world’s need for industrial innovation. Wolff explained:

The type of robots that we’re focused on are robots that are going to be doing dangerous and difficult tasks or operating in really dangerous environments. We believe that the best way to go about performing those tasks is to leverage the human mind to control the machine.

CNBC’s Magdalena Petrova was given the chance to test the Guardian GT, a remotely operated hulk of metal that was controlled via the movement of her arms. The $60,000 Guardian S is a serpentine variation intended for delicate search and rescue operations. But the company’s boldest idea is the Guardian XO, a full-body exoskeleton being designed for both industrial and military use.

The Sarcos approach to our ever-more-automated world is more hopeful than most, offering a solution between the possibilities of old-fashioned blood and sweat labor and a future where humanity is made obsolete by robots.

Poll: 71% of Americans say politics has reached a dangerous low point

Washington (CNN)Amid a growing partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans, a new poll shows that 71% of Americans believe the country’s politics have reached a dangerous low point in the Trump era. According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released Saturday, only 29% said they believed this period in American politics is “similar to most periods of disagreement.” And the majority of participants who said politics have reached a dangerous low point said the climate is a “new normal,” not “temporary.” Some 70% of those polled from September 27 through October 5 said divisions today are at least as big as they were during the Vietnam War era. For individuals polled who were adults during the Vietnam War, the percentage was higher than the average — 77%. A majority of those polled, 51%, said President Donald Trump deserves “a lot” of the blame for the dysfunction in the American political system, below the share placing as much blame on money in politics (65%), wealthy donors (56%) or people with extreme views (56%), but above the share putting a lot of blame on either party (38% for Republicans, 32% for Democrats) or members of Congress (47%). In addition, 49% place “a lot” of blame on the news media for causing the dysfunction, and the same percentage say social media bears much of the responsibility. A majority, 63%, say they are proud of the way democracy works in America, but that’s a low point compared to past polling, with the share of those who aren’t proud doubling in just three years, from 18% in 2014 to 36% now, according to the Post’s report on the poll. In addition, 42% of those polled said Trump’s election was not legitimate, including two-thirds of Democrats and 9% of Republicans. That compares to about 14 percent who said former President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 wasn’t legitimate. And those polled said dysfunction is rampant across the federal government, with 70% saying the Trump administration is dysfunctional, 80% saying so about Congress, and 56% saying so about the overall system of checks and balances. The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll was conducted from September 27 through October 5, with 1,663 adults interviewed by land line, cell phone and online. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Trump promises to release all JFK files

It wasn’t the United States’ finest hour. A CIA-sponsored group of about 1,400 Cuban exiles – many recruited and trained in Florida – landed on Cuba to try to spark an uprising of Cuban citizens to overthrow socialist leader Fidel Castro. The U.S., under President John F. Kennedy, failed to provide the military troops and air support necessary to defeat Castro’s troops, and the ragtag group of exiles were defeated in three days.

(CNN)President Donald Trump said Friday night on Twitter that he would release all documents related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, a pledge that comes despite national security agencies’ last-minute requests to keep some of the records secret. The President said he came to the decision after consulting with his chief of staff, John Kelly, as well as the CIA and other agencies, and would release all files “other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living.” “I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest,” the President tweeted.

In a memo Thursday, Trump directed agencies that requested redactions to reassess their reasons for keeping the records secret, and said he would make a decision on those requests within 180 days. But it is unclear what his latest statement would do to that timeline.
The White House has not provided a definitive timeline for the National Archives and Records Administration to release all the files; a White House official told CNN that the period of time has not been determined. The administration began to release some of the documents Thursday evening, making more than 2,800 records public. But Trump agreed not to release the full tranche of records, acquiescing to last-minute requests from national security agencies that some of those records remain classified. Those documents included files that raised concerns over the possible impact of their release on US national security, law enforcement and foreign relations. Trump wanted more of the documents released, but when the final requests from government agencies hit his desk on Thursday, there wasn’t enough time to go through the hundreds of records the agencies wanted to keep secret, two US officials said.
“He was unhappy with the level of redactions,” a White House official said, adding that Trump believed the agencies were “not meeting the spirit of the law.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Thursday night that Trump “has demanded unprecedented transparency from the agencies and directed them to minimize redactions without delay.” Nick Bit: Does Trump really strike you as a man who believes in FULL DISCLOSURE? How about this is about embarrassing the CIA over their reports that the Russians interfered in the election and Trump colluded with them. Flynn Trumps beloved former chief of staff (co-conspirator in Russian collusion) was brought down by the CIA… this is payback. BECAUSE the JFK document release will show that at the very LEAST  Oswald was a CIA agent.  and maybe the Kennedy assignation was pay back for the Bay of Pigs!

Mattis: US-South Korea cooperation urgent in face of ‘accelerated’ North Korea threat

(CNN)Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Friday ET that the increasing nuclear threat from North Korea has brought “a new urgency” to military and diplomatic collaboration with South Korea. “The threat from North Korea has grown markedly even since my trip here earlier this year,” Mattis said while appearing alongside his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, at a press conference in Seoul.”North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear weapons programs,” he added, emphasizing that the US “does not accept a nuclear North Korea.” The Pentagon chief made his remarks one day after visiting the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea and meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the country’s presidential palace.Pyongyang has conducted several tests of its nuclear weapon and missile programs in recent months, including firing ballistic missiles over Japan and conducting a sixth nuclear test last month. The actions have prompted the United States and United Nations to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang, but China’s cooperation is considered critical to putting economic pressure on North Korea. On Friday, Song called North Korea’s actions a “reckless provocation,” while Mattis labeled them “outlaw behavior.” While diplomacy “remains our preferred course of action,” Mattis said, President Donald Trump has made clear that the US commitment to defending US allies and upholding deterrence are “ironclad.” “Make no mistake. Any attack on the United States or our allies will be defeated,” Mattis said. “Any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response, effective and overwhelming.”

Bernstein: Trump Officials Facing ‘20 to 40 to 50 Years for Whatever These Crimes Are’

 
BERNSTEIN: “There’s one other aspect of this and that is that it’s very possible, and it’s been suggested to me by some of lawyers involved, that Mueller wants to send a signal to other perspective [sic] defendants. If this person who has been indicted, or persons, are facing 20 to 40 to 50 years for whatever these crimes are — related to collusion or not — there may be others who are subject to similar charges who have further knowledge about dealings with Russia. And so it may be aimed at these perspective [sic] indictees as well, not simply this person or persons who they want to flip. So there are a lot of intentions that the special council is trying to convey here I suspect.” Nick Bit: To get the real story see Radio Free Wall Street October 28 WEBCAST.

Graham: If We Don’t Get Meaningful Tax Reform, It’s ‘Probably the End of the Republican Party As We Know It’

During an interview with Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio on Friday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued that if there isn’t meaningful tax reform, “that’s probably the end of the Republican Party as we know it.” Graham said, “I think all of us realize that if we fail on taxes that’s the end of the Republican Party’s governing majority in 2018. We’ll lose the House, probably lose ground in the Senate, and President Trump has got a profile different from the party. There’s kinda two or three different Republican Parties now, I guess. But we’re all in it together. I can’t imagine how he could be successful with Nancy Pelosi running the House. They’d try to impeach him pretty quick, and it’d be just one constant investigation after another. So, it’s important that we pass tax reform in a meaningful way. If we don’t, that’s probably the end of the Republican Party as we know it.” Graham added that he isn’t worried about personality disagreements sinking tax reform. He also stated that there is a potential sticking point on eliminating deductions and extensions to offset costs from tax cuts. Nick Note: if they don’t get rid of Donald Trump that will be the demise of the republicans period.

U.S. investigating forex trading at Wells Fargo: WSJ

 (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors are investigating foreign-exchange trading at Wells Fargo & Co and have subpoenaed information from the firm, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.  The investigation, according to the report, relates to a single trade and ensuing dispute with client Restaurant Brands International Inc, owner of Burger King, Tim Horton and Popeye‘s. An email to the company’s press office was not returned.. The investigation, which is in early stages, is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the Journal reported. A spokeswoman for that office did not respond to inquiries.

“Wells Fargo learned of an issue associated with a foreign exchange transaction for a single client. The matter was reviewed, the client was promptly notified regarding the issue and Wells Fargo leadership took steps to hold accountable the individuals who were involved,” bank spokeswoman Elise Wilkinson wrote in an email message to Reuters. Wilkinson said last Friday that four Wells Fargo forex employees, Simon Fowles, Bob Gotelli, Jed Guenther and Michael Schauffler were no longer with the bank. The third-largest U.S. bank has been trying to recover from a sales scandal over as many as 3.5 million fake accounts created by its employees in an effort to meet aggressive sales targets. The lender has since uncovered other problems, including with auto loans, life insurance and mortgages. The forex problems are the first indication Wells Fargo’s issues may extend to its institutional businesses, which according to Wells Fargo have seen relatively little impact from the scandal. Nick Bit: Another day anther Wells Fargo crime. I can’t wait untill this dead broke bank goes broke and stays broke. Its the only way you are going to end this crime spree.

Reporting by Dan Freed in New York and Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Cynthia Osterman

Brent crude rockets above $60 a barrel for first time since July 2015

  • Brent crude oil rose to above $60 a barrel to the highest level since July 2015.
  • U.S. crude spiked to a nearly 8-month high and approached $54 a barrel.
  • Oil prices broke through key technical levels and were boosted by geopolitical tension and expectations exporters will extend OPEC-led output cuts.
Brent crude rockets above $60 a barrel for first time since July 2015
Brent crude rockets above $60 a barrel for first time since July 2015

Brent crude oil spiked higher on Friday to trade above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than two years. The international benchmark for oil prices was trading up $1.05, or 1.8 percent, at $60.35 a barrel at 11:17 a.m. ET (1517 GMT). It was near the highest level since July 2015, bolstered by comments about cutting production from the influential crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Oil prices have gotten a boost this month from geopolitical tension and expectations that OPEC and other oil exporters will extend a deal to limit their oil output. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman told Reuters he supports extending the agreement, which aims to keep about 1.8 million barrels off the market between January of this year and March 2018. Crude oil supplies from northern Iraq have fallen after the central government took control of oil fields in disputed territories from Kurdish forces. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s threats to scrap a historic deal that lifted sanctions on Iran’s energy sector has raised concerns about that country’s oil exports. Nick Bit: this party will soon be over because of the F word as in  Fracking! we have a trade for that!

Walmart is using shelf-scanning robots to audit its stores

Walmart testing shelf-scanning technology
Source: Walmart Walmart testing shelf-scanning technology

Robots are already a common sight in warehouses (Amazon alone use more than 45,000) but now they’re moving into stores too. Walmart has announced it’s deploying shelf-scanning bots in 50 locations around the US, using the machines to check things like inventory, prices, and misplaced items. The retailing giant says the robots’ introduction won’t lead to job losses, and that the company wants to save employees from carrying out tasks that are “repeatable, predictable, and manual.” The robots themselves are produced by California-based Bossa Nova Robotics, and are about two-feet tall with an extendable tower containing lights and sensors for scanning shelves. They sit in recharging stations in the store until a human employee gives them a “mission” — e.g. checking a particular aisle to see what needs re-stocking. The robots are supposed to save workers’ time, but Walmart says it will also use the data they collect to improve efficiency nationwide. “If you think about trying to go through a facility with all these different [items] and figure out if your prices are accurate, it can be very time-consuming,” John Crecelius, Walmart’s vice president of central operations, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “From our perspective, when you’re doing things like this you’re trying to improve your service to your customers and trying to make things simpler and easier for your associates at the same time.”

  Studies show that when you get more (industrial) robots in any geographic area, you get fewer jobs and lower wages. Whether or not the same holds true of shelf-scanning bots will no doubt be the subject of future studies. Nick Bit: don’t let them shit you this a a job killer. and their will be a LOT more of it. Progress leaves the masses behind.

Trump Blasts ‘Totally Unhinged’ Tom Steyer After His Impeachment Ad Plays on ‘Fox and Friends’

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump on Friday blasted Tom Steyer as “wacky” and “totally unhinged,” presumably after seeing the left-wing billionaire’s ad on “Fox and Friends” calling for his impeachment. Steyer’s national campaign came to Trump’s favorite morning news show on Friday. In the ad, Steyer calls Trump a “clear and present danger” who is mentally unstable and needs to be stopped, urging citizens to contact their representatives and support impeachment. The ad played at 6:14 a.m. in Washington, D.C., and it seemed to get Trump’s attention. “Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!” Trump wrote.

Trump also tweeted out a warm message to singer Joy Villa, a supporter who appeared on the show to discuss a possible run for Congress. She wore a Trump-themed dress to the 2017 Grammy Awards.

Although it’s not true Steyer “never wins elections,” candidates that the megadonor supported in the 2014 and 2016 elections lost more than they won

.He was also one of Hillary Clinton’s wealthiest, high-profile supporters in her unsuccessful bid for the White House. In 2016 alone, he donated more than $91 million to Democratic campaigns.

Trump wants subsidies for coal companies, not health insurers

What do coal companies have to do with health insurance companies? Not subsidies, apparently. Both of the stories above are worth a read. And both subsidies have arguments on either side.
But there is a clear and undeniable disconnect on the idea of government bailouts. It’s OK for the government to subsidize coal power, but not for the government to subsidize insurers providing health coverage. Trump has said Obamacare is failing — according to Trump — his efforts to sabotage it notwithstanding.
The coal industry, which represents a shrinking share of US energy production, however, is worthy of government help, according to Energy Secretary Rick Perry.The Guardian story documents a Department of Energy proposal to enact a new rule to compensate coal and nuclear energy companies for stabilizing the power grid.
From the Guardian: “The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are ‘indispensable for our economic and national security.'”It goes on to detail a nonpartisan analysis suggesting the rule would benefit a handful of companies to the tune of $10.6 billion over 10 years. Whether the electric grid needs the stability of coal and nuclear plants is up for debate. The proposal still has to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But it’s clear that issuing these payments to coal companies is OK with the administration. President Donald Trump has vowed to help protect the coal industry and coal miners, an important political constituency for him. In March, he signed an executive order rolling back Obama-era restrictions on the industry and, surrounded by coal miners, promised to bring coal jobs back. Perry, meanwhile, defending his proposal to subsidize coal companies for their contributions to energy stability, said this month that the idea of a free market for energy is a “fallacy.” “I think the idea that there is a free market in electrical generation, it’s not a bit of a fallacy, it is a fallacy,” he told lawmakers on October 12. Supporters of more government involvement in health insurance would use the same argument about health care. The health insurer subsidies — cost-sharing reducton payments — that Trump ended earlier this month are meant to help companies pay for insuring the poor. They are much more expensive than the energy subsidies — up to $7 billion in one year. They are meant to prop up the individual insurance markets set up by Obamacare, which Trump has vowed to dismantle.
His axing of the subsidies has been framed more as a negotiating tactic than a cost-saving measure, however. Trump says the payments aren’t actually legal under the law, so he’s cutting them, knowingly throwing the market set up under Obamacare into limbo.
“What it’s going to do is it’s going to be time to negotiate health care that’s going to be good for everybody,” Trump told reporters October 13. “That money is a subsidy for insurance companies. Take a look at their stocks. Look where they are. They’re going through the roof, from past — I don’t know about today. But the insurance companies that made a fortune, that money was a subsidy and almost, you could say, a payoff for insurance companies.” These issues obviously have very little to do with each other, but it is important to note that the idea of subsidies is clearly not universally abhorred in the Trump administration.

Spain cracks down hard after Catalonia declares independence

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — In one of the most momentous days in recent Spanish history, Spain fired Catalonia’s regional government and dissolved its parliament Friday after a defiant Catalan declaration of independence that flouted the country’s constitution. Lawmakers in the Catalan parliament voted to unilaterally declare independence, prompting the swift crackdown by the Spanish government, which also called an early election in the region. Hours after Catalonia’s secession move, the Spanish Senate granted the government special constitutional powers to stop the wealthy region’s move toward independence. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government then called an urgent Cabinet meeting late Friday, after which Rajoy emerged to announce the emergency measures, including regional elections called for Dec. 21. In Barcelona, Catalonia’s regional capital, Rajoy’s announcement in a televised address was greeted with jeers and whistles of disapproval from crowds who had gathered at the gates of the government palace to celebrate their parliament’s moves toward independence.

“It’s not about suspending or meddling in the self-government (of Catalonia), but to return it to normality and legality as soon as possible,” Rajoy said.

Catalan separatist lawmakers have passed a motion to establish a new republic independent of Spain. Thousands of people gathered outside the parliament building to celebrate. (Oct. 27)

The government and Spain’s Constitutional Court have both said the secession bid was illegal, and after Friday’s independence vote, Rajoy said it was a move that “not only goes against the law but is a criminal act.” Rajoy also said he was firing the head of the Catalan regional police, shutting down the Catalan government’s overseas offices, and dismissing its representatives in Madrid and in Brussels, where the European Union has its headquarters.

 

The 1978 constitution, drawn up after the end of Gen. Francisco Franco’s decades-long dictatorship, created a decentralized Spanish state that devolved power to 17 autonomous regions, including Catalonia. The regions have broad administrative and legal powers. The Spanish constitution, however, also describes Spain as “indivisible.”

Catalonia has its own cultural traditions and its own language. Having long seen itself as different from the rest of Spain, the Catalan drive for independence began in 2010 when the Constitutional Court struck down key parts of a groundbreaking charter that would have granted the region greater autonomy and recognized it as a nation within Spain. Catalonia represents a fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product and many want the tax revenues generated by the prosperous region to remain at home. The motion to secede was approved by the 135-member Catalan parliament, where secessionists hold a slim majority, with 70 votes in favor. Opposition lawmakers had walked out of the chamber in protest ahead of the vote. The EU says Catalonia will be tossed out of the bloc if it leaves Spain and would have to apply to become a member, a lengthy process.

___

Catalonia: Voters face worst police violence ever seen in the EU?

Spain has announced its suspending Catalonia’s regional autonomy, after the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont declared independence. Even before this move, separatists had condemned the actions of the Spanish government and police during an outlawed independence referendum on 1 October. Some called those actions repressive – a sentiment expressed most clearly in a video produced by the Catalan cultural organisation

Omnium Cultural. It’s been viewed more than a million times. One of the most striking claims in the video was that police subjected Catalan voters to “a degree of force never seen before in a European member state”. After Spain’s constitutional court declared the poll illegal, police officers were authorised to stop it going ahead. They prevented some people from voting, and seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations. Reality Check has spoken to journalists who witnessed police shoving people, grabbing them by the hair and throwing them down stairs. And photojournalists saw police firing rubber bullets Nick Bit: Spain is not a free country. No reason Catalan wants to leave. The question is Spain a democracy where people have a right to self determination. Or is it a fascist police state? its the later i am sure, it always has been. The coming breakup of the European Union will be bloody. Its always that way when the illusion of freedom is rolled back!

As Trump tax comes to floor, failure could spell stocks selloff

 NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors are increasingly pricing in the effect of a corporate tax cut into the shares of U.S. companies, leaving the market primed for a steep sell-off if the Republican-controlled Congress fails to pass one of President Donald Trump’s top priorities.

Such a decline would be the first significant sell-off of the year, he said, but would not likely be near the 20 percent decline that signifies the start of a bear market. Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia, said that Trump’s clashes over the last week with members of his own party could threaten the tax bill’s success because it could alienate other Republicans. Because Republicans hold only a slim 52-48 seat advantage in the Senate, Trump can afford to lose only two votes. “When the possibility of a defection of some Republican senators increases, that kind of puts the whole tax reform thing in jeopardy. He needs them all,” Tuz said. “We’re at levels today that are historically very risky for stocks and we’re primed for a correction,” James said. “If there’s not the tax cut that everyone is expecting, then the correction could be a whole lot more serious.”

The only thing growing faster than the economy is our deficit

As if Republicans didn’t face enough hurdles in their sprint to cut taxes, here’s another one: $1 trillion annual deficits are rushing back to Washington.

A new analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center adds new disaster relief spending and the costs of GOP tax-cut plans to earlier projections from the Congressional Budget Office. Its conclusion: The deficit could reach $1 trillion as early as 2019

The only previous episode of trillion-dollar annual deficits began during the Great Recession and financial crisis. As the economy recovered, the deficit fell below that level in 2013. But now, as retiring baby boomers rapidly swell the rolls of Social Security and Medicare, trillion-dollar deficits are on track to return during a strong economy.

Sen. Corker: I am a 'deficit hawk'
Sen. Corker: I am a ‘deficit hawk’

“These projections foreshadow another period of trillion-dollar deficits at a time when the United States has experienced one of the longest continuous economic expansions in history and an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent,” the center’s analysis concludes.

Noting deficit trends since 1980, the analysis adds that the nation “has piled up debt more than twice as fast as economic growth.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center analysis updates those projections. It assumes $200 billion over 10 years for the costs of recent wildfires, hurricane damage and flooding. And it folds in the $1.5 trillion in higher deficits allowed by the new budget resolution Congress has passed to smooth the way for tax cuts. The $1 trillion deficit level held symbolic power for Republicans during President Barack Obama’s tenure. They used the prospect of “trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see” to win back the House in 2010 and force a Democratic administration into contentious budget negotiations. A GOP-controlled Congress has since eased the spending caps that resulted from those budget talks. House conservatives pushed for new spending cuts in the 2018 budget resolution but abandoned them under pressure from the Senate. The question now is whether the $1 trillion figure still has symbolic power as it shadows a Republican drive to cut taxes. A former GOP staff director at the Senate Budget Committee, who helped produce the new deficit analysis, hopes so but doesn’t expect it. “I’m afraid not,” said Steve Bell, who is now at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “What you’re hearing from me is the last squawk of a dying deficit hawk.”

Russia test fires huge ‘Satan Two’ ballistic missile

 These mobile launched missles carry 12 nuclear warheads and can wipe out Britain or Texas in ONE devastating strike amid huge military drills

Russia carried out a successful test of its Satan 2 nuclear missile on Thursday night, the country’s defense ministry said. The rocket, also known as RS-28 Sarmat, was fired from the Plestek Cosmodrome and travelled 3,600 miles before hitting a target on the Kura test range. Three submarines capable of carrying nuclear warheads also carried out successful ballistic missile tests, while three bombers hit ground targets with cruise missiles.

Russia has successfully tested a Satan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile which was fired from the Plestek Cosmodrome and travelled 3,600 miles before hitting its target, the country says Two of the submarine-launched missiles were fired in the Okhotsk Sea, north of Japan and close to North Korea, the Russian military said. A third missile was fired from the Barents Sea, in the Arctic Ocean. Russian military forces ‘have carried out an exercise to manage its strategic nuclear forces,’ the ministry said in a statement.

The missile is capable of carrying 12 nuclear warheads and wiping out entire countries in a single strike, according to the Kremlin

 The missile is capable of carrying 12 nuclear warheads and wiping out entire countries in a single strike, according to the Kremlin

Satan 2 is the third nuclear-capable ballistic missile Russia has tested this year, after the launch of two Topol class missiles during the Zapad war games

Satan 2 is the third nuclear-capable ballistic missile Russia has tested this year, after the launch of two Topol class missiles during the Zapad war games

The Sarmat next generation intercontinental ballistic missile can ‘beat any defences’ and wipe out entire countries, according to Russia’s military. The weapon has been in the pipeline since 2009 and is now ready after several setbacks, with initial trials to be carried out before the end of the year, sources claim. The weapon could by in use by 2019 – 2020. It would be capable of delivering warheads of 40 megatons – 2,000 times as powerful as the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In early September, Russia test fired two more next-generation nuclear missiles, named Topol, from the Plestek Cosmodrome.

The RS-28 Sarmat  100-tonne 'Satan 2' ballistic missile is pictured here at a Moscow Victory Day parade rehearsal earlier this year

 The RS-28 Sarmat  100-tonne ‘Satan 2’ ballistic missile is pictured here at a Moscow Victory Day parade rehearsal earlier this year

Russian bombers also launched a series of strikes against ground targets, according to the country's defense ministry

Russian bombers also launched a series of strikes against ground targets, according to the country’s defense ministry The launches book-ended the huge Zapad war games with Belarus on NATO’s eastern flank, which caused concern among the military alliance.

U.S. Treasury pushes back on bank-like rules for asset managers, insurers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury on Thursday rejected the idea of singling out specific asset management and insurance firms as systemically risky, indicating that they are unlikely to be designated as “too big to fail” and slapped with additional oversight under the administration of President Donald Trump.

The report will be cheered by the likes of BlackRock BLK.N, Vanguard, Fidelity FGL. and Pimco, which have pushed back on attempts by regulators to impose bank-like “systemically risky” labels on asset managers simply because they hold trillions of dollars in assets under management.

The Treasury’s 176-page report shines a spotlight on two massive financial industries that have attracted less political and regulatory scrutiny in the wake of the global financial crisis than the banking industry. In its recommendations, Treasury broadly rejected the idea those companies should be regulated like banks. It also encouraged regulators, both domestic and international, to streamline rules across both industries and to encourage consumer access to products and services. “We are recommending more efficient and effective regulation to give consumers access to the products they need while providing individuals with opportunities to save for retirement,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The report is the third of four expected from Treasury as it completes a comprehensive review of existing financial rules, as mandated by an executive order from President Donald Trump in February. The previous two reports focused on banks and capital markets. The Treasury does not directly oversee asset managers or insurers, which are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and at a state level respectively, but the report is likely to influence regulators’ approach to the industries. Nick Bit: This is a very sad day. Absolutely these entities need to be strictly monitored. They hold MORE money then most investment banks. But the untold  truth is they hold massive amounts of the Average Americans money. And they are taking on colossal leveraged risk. They will soon wipe out.

Global insurers look to raise rates after catastrophic quarter

In Europe, Hannover Re said it is considering a 40 percent to 50 percent increase in rates for North American regions recently hit by disasters. A turnaround in prices would be the first major reversal since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Reinsurers which take on risk from other reinsurers, known as retrocessionaires, are “one of the most attractive routes to access the uplift in premiums,” Barlow said.

Gold drops to lowest finish since early August as dollar rallies to 3-month high

 ICE U.S. Dollar Index climbs to levels not seen since July

Gold prices dropped marking their lowest finish since early August, as the dollar’s decline against the euro lifted a key benchmark for the greenback to a three-month high. The dollar’s strength dulled demand for precious metals, as a firmer dollar makes them less attractive to investors using another currency. Analysts also attributed the greenback’s recent strength to bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next leader will pick up the pace of interest-rate hikes or at least stay the course with plans for gradual rate increases late this year and next. The President Donald Trump is expected to announce his choice before starting a trip to Asia on Nov. 3. Nick Bit: we have a trade for that!

A trade deal in distress: It’s time to save NAFTA

President Donald Trump (L) listens to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they walk towards the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 11, 2017.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images President Donald Trump (L) listens to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they walk towards the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 11, 2017.

 

As neighbors on the North American continent, the United States, Canada and Mexico share a responsibility not only to promote and safeguard the interests of their citizens, but to work together to constantly improve the bonds among our three countries. For more than two decades, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has stood as a symbol of that shared vision. As representatives of the American, Mexican and Canadian business communities, we believe that NAFTA has helped our respective companies and workers become more globally competitive and has significantly strengthened the North American economy, benefiting citizens of all three countries. At the same time, we support efforts to improve and modernize NAFTA. As a 23-year-old agreement, it needs to be updated in key areas to better address the challenges and opportunities of doing business in today’s environment.

However, we are deeply concerned that, in the round of talks that concluded this week, the United States has introduced a number of proposals into the ongoing negotiations that are inconsistent with the principles of free trade and free enterprise.

Such demands, which together constitute a dramatic reversal of long-held U.S. trade policy objectives going back long before NAFTA, are not only unacceptable to Canada and Mexico but to the business community across the three countries. We are concerned that we may face either a complete U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA or critical changes to the pact in ways that would greatly restrict, rather than enhance, cross-border commerce.

Watch this rocket-powered car go from 0–200 mph in nine seconds

The Bloodhound Super Sonic Car conducted its first public test run today, rocketing 210 mph (340 km/h) down the runway at Newquay Airport in southwest England. The test was a prelude for the rocket-powered car’s ultimate, record-setting goal: 1,000 mph (1,610 km/h).But that test, planned for a dry lake bed in South Africa, won’t happen until at least 2020 — though the Bloodhound team said today’s dry run gave them confidence that the car could eventually achieve the goal. Driven by Royal Air Force Wing commander Andy Green, Bloodhound SSC made two trips down Newquay’s 1.7-mile (2.7-km) runway. Green is the current holder of the world land speed record, and the first person to break the sound barrier on land. Nick Bit: I got to have one!

U.S. House speaker: FBI to comply with document request on Trump dossier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI had said it will comply with the U.S. House of Representatives’ document request regarding a dossier containing allegations against U.S. President Donald Trump by next week, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday. “They have informed us that they will comply with our document request,” Ryan told reporters, referring to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Nick Bit: Holy Shit Batman not the golden showers DOCUMENT

U.S. House passes ballistic missile sanctions on Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously on Thursday for new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement. The vote was 423 to two for the “Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act.” Among other things, it calls on the U.S. president to report to Congress on the Iranian and international supply chain for Iran’s ballistic missile program and to impose sanctions on Iranian government or foreign entities that support it. President Donald Trump said on Oct. 13 he would not certify Iran is complying with an international agreement on its nuclear program, and threatened that he might ultimately terminate the accord. Trump’s action opened a 60-day window for Congress to act to reimpose sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program that were lifted under the agreement, but there has been no move to do so in the House or Senate. Aides said that, for now, House lawmakers are focusing on clamping down on Iran in other ways such as the Hezbollah and missile-related sanctions. U.S. Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who sponsored the ballistic missile bill, has said the international nuclear deal should be strictly enforced by Washington working with its allies. “The United States must respond to the full range of threats and, with this bill…. that is what we are doing today,” he said.The House passed three other Iran-related measures on Wednesday, including new sanctions on Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militia and a resolution urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. [L2N1N02UY]  To become law, the measure would have to pass the U.S. Senate and be signed into law by Trump.

House narrowly passes budget, clearing the way for tax reform

House narrowly passes budget, moving one step closer to tax reform

 

The House on Thursday narrowly approved a Senate version of the 2018 federal budget, clearing the way for the GOP-controlled Senate to pass a massive set of tax cuts later this year. The vote was a nail-biter, with the final tally 216 to 212. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who typically doesn’t vote on legislation, voted for the budget. By passing the Senate version of the budget, House Republicans kick-started the reconciliation process, a window during which the Senate can pass legislation with only a simple majority, instead of the 60 vote supermajority typically needed to end debate and move a bill to a vote.Yet signs of the fight looming on Capitol Hill over how to pay for the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts were already visible Thursday, when a number of Republicans from states with high state taxes voted against the budget bill, as did a handful of fiscal archconservatives.

 

First charges filed in U.S. special counsel’s Russia investigation: source

The indictment was sealed under orders from a federal judge so it was not clear what the charges were or who the target was, the source said, adding that it could be unsealed as early as Monday. The filing of charges by the grand jury in Washington was first reported on Friday by CNN, which said the target could be taken into custody as soon as Monday.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia interfered in the election to try to help President Donald Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton through a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails, and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit her campaign.

Sources familiar with Mueller’s investigation said he has used his broad authority to investigate links between Trump aides and foreign governments as well as possible money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

Trump, a Republican who was elected president last November, has denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russians and condemned investigations into the matter as “a witch hunt”.

Mueller’s investigation also includes an effort to determine whether Trump or any of his aides tried to obstruct justice.  The Russia investigation has cast a shadow over Trump’s nine-month-old presidency and widened the partisan rift between Republicans and Democrats. Mueller’s team has also investigated Michael Flynn, who was an adviser to Trump’s campaign and later briefly served as his national security adviser. Former CIA director James Woolsey, who was also an adviser to the Trump campaign, has alleged that Flynn discussed with the businessman and two Turkish government ministers the idea of covertly spiriting Gulen out of the United States to face charges in Turkey.Nick Bit: Talk about skeletons in the closet.. Their is a freeging grave yard. Trump will be thrown out of office… Mark my words  this is a huge economic and market event.

Catalonia and Spain Enter Dangerous Uncharted Territory

 Spain’s Senate responded to the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence this afternoon by ratifying the activation of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, the nuclear button everyone has been waiting for. This will allow the central government to take full rein of the region’s institutions and levers of power, including parliament, the police force, the exchequer (already done), public media, the Internet, the education system, and telecommunications — at least in theory. There is no telling just yet how Mariano Rajoy’s government intends to stamp its authority on 2.5 million of the Catalans now in open rebellion, or for how long. Given the law’s ambiguity, there are few constraints on its application, but trying to subdue a region where most of the 7.5 million-strong population are hostile to the basic notion of direct rule from Madrid is going to be a tall order, especially if the EU, which refuses to recognize Catalonia, expects Rajoy’s government to bring Catalonia back into line through “the force of argument rather than the argument of force.” The force of argument is not exactly Rajoy’s forte. In all likelihood, his government’s first act will be to try to arrest the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, suspend his ministers, and assume direct authority over the regional government. To do that, it will probably have to take full control of Catalonia’s regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. But what if some officers resist? What if there are clashes between Mossos and members of Spain’s National Police Force or Civil Guard? Right now, Catalonia and Spain are in very dangerous uncharted territory. Emotions are high on both sides of the divide. The Catalan government has called a 10-day general strike to begin on Monday. The goal is crystal clear: to inflict as much harm as possible on the Spanish economy so that investors begin to question the wisdom of being exposed to Spanish assets. It’s a tactic Catalonia’s Vice President Oriol Junqueras warned of using during a speech in Brussels way back in 2013:Catalonia’s impossible dream has finally come true, but it could be extremely short lived, and it could have very damaging long lasting consequences

 

UK personal insolvencies hit 5-year high in gloomy sign for economy

LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) – The number of people registering as insolvent in England and Wales hit a five-year high in the third quarter, according to figures on Friday that hinted at trouble brewing in Britain’s consumer economy. The government’s Insolvency Service said 27,807 people in England and Wales registered as insolvent between July and September, up from 22,389 in the three months to June and marking the biggest total since the third quarter of 2012. Personal insolvencies have been rising over the past couple of years, largely due to changes in regulation that have made debt relief for consumers easier to obtain, according to experts in the field. But debt charities and the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales (ICAEW) warned that the latest sharp increase indicated wider problems in Britain’s consumer-led economy. Household budgets have been strained by rising prices caused by the pound’s drop after last year’s Brexit vote, and wage growth has failed to keep pace. The insolvency figures are likely to bolster the view of economists who worry that even a small rise in Bank of England interest rates could have an outsized impact on consumers. “With household debt levels continuing to rise, we are concerned that more families will be pushed into difficulty if circumstances change,” said Jane Tully, director of external affairs at the Money Advice Trust charity. The figures showed the increase in personal insolvency was down to a rise in individual voluntary arrangements – a debt relief measure short of bankruptcy. The ICAEW said the insolvency figures boded poorly for the wider economy. “Consumer insolvencies are a reliable marker of business challenges ahead,” said Clive Lewis, head of enterprise at the ICAEW.

Catalan parliament declares independence from Spain

The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, just as the Spanish government appears set to impose direct rule. The move was backed 70-10 in a ballot boycotted by opposition MPs. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier told senators direct rule was needed to return “law, democracy and stability” to Catalonia. The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favour of independence. But Spain’s Constitutional Court had ruled the vote illegal. In all, the motion declaring independence was approved with 70 in favour, 10 against and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber. Immediately afterwards, Mr Rajoy called for all Spaniards to remain calm, promising to “restore legality” to Catalonia.

Spain’s Senate is still to vote on whether for the first time to enact Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which empowers the government to take “all measures necessary to compel” a region in case of a crisis.

It would enable Madrid to fire Catalan leaders, and take control of the region’s finances, police and public media.

Nick Note: The crack up of the EU moves anther step closer. IF Catalonia is successful they will automatically be out of the European Union…. better for them…… Maybe they can make a deal with England!

Real GDP 1.86% Hurricane added 1.14% to 3% published rate,

Getty Images Consumer spending was solid in the third quarter, growing at a 2.4% rate

he U.S. grew at a solid 3% annual pace in third quarter despite damage from two hurricanes, according to Commerce Department data. The economy was powered by solid consumer spending, healthy business and government outlays and a boost from more volatile sectors like inventory and trade. Consumer spending, the main engine of the economy,  was off at a 2.4% rate after a 3.3% gain in the second quarter.

Nonresidential, or business, investment rose 3.9%. Inventories added 0.73 percentage points to growth and the trade sector added 0.41 percentage points.

Excluding those volatile categories, final sales for domestic product rose 2.3% in the third quarter, down from a 2.9% rate in the prior period. Government spending was also up after the hurricane. Housing investment slumped for the second straight quarter.

Core inflation as measured by the PCE price index increased to 1.3% annual rate, well below the Fed’s target rate of 2%. So that deflation  mystery continues for the FED>

Nick Note: Don’t be fooled. Massive government spending on the Hurricanes boosted the numbers. Business inventories soared (they count that as good.. its BAD) because of lost sales DOWN .50%. Take out the noise and the economy is slowing…… But its a good PR event!

Top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn reportedly revives idea of hiking gas tax

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn speaks during the daily news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, September 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn speaks during the daily news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, September 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn reportedly raised the prospect of hiking the federal gasoline tax on Wednesday, reviving the idea after President Donald Trump raised the issue earlier this year.Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, told a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans they would have the opportunity to vote to increase the gas tax when Congress considers an infrastructure package early next year, Politico reported. Cohn made the remark while discussing elements of the administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut with the Problem Solvers Caucus, according to Politico. The U.S. government currently applies a charge of 18.4 cents per gallon on retail gasoline. Revenue from the levy goes to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road construction and mass transportation. The tax has not changed since 1993. In May, Trump said he was open to raising the gas tax in order to underwrite improvements to the nation’s infrastructure. Shortly after Trump’s remarks, White House infrastructure advisor and LeFrak Organization CEO Richard LeFrak told CNBC the president deserved credit for broaching what has historically been “the third rail of politics.” He noted that several states have recently raised their own gas taxes.

Manhattan U.S. attorney adds to probes of ex-Trump aide Manafort: reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is investigating Paul Manafort for potential money laundering, according to media reports, adding to other federal and state probes targeting President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York launched the probe in conjunction with federal special counsel Robert Mueller, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Tuesday. Bloomberg separately reported that subpoenas had been issued in the case. Representatives for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports. The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, led by acting U.S. attorney Joon Kim, had no comment. The probe marks the latest investigation of Manafort that comes amid the ongoing larger examination of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion by the Trump campaign and associates. Separate investigations into Manafort’s financial transactions have been launched by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, including scrutiny of Manafort’s real estate deals. U.S. investigators examining Manafort’s financial transactions are seeking to push him into cooperating with their probe into the possible collusion, two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation have said. Manafort, who headed the Trump campaign for several months before resigning, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Mueller’s team and congressional investigators are also probing Manafort, whose Virginia apartment was raided by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July. Russia has denied any meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign and has condemned the investigation as a political witch hunt.

Interior to offer largest oil and gas lease sale in US

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department said Tuesday it will propose the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States – nearly 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The sale, scheduled for next March, includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, a reflection of the Trump administration’s strategy to maximize oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters.

Even so, only a small fraction of the tracts available are expected to receive bids. A similar lease sale in August drew bids on just 90 offshore tracts totaling about a half-million acres – less than 1 percent of the 76 million acres available.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke touted the upcoming sale as part of the administration’s bid to achieve what President Donald Trump calls “energy dominance” in the global market.

“In today’s low-price energy environment, providing the offshore industry access to the maximum amount of opportunities possible (will) spur local and regional economic dynamism and job creation,” Zinke said.

Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said Zinke and congressional Republicans were taking credit for an Obama-era policy to offer oil and gas leases from all available tracts in the Gulf, rather than separating the western and eastern Gulf areas from the more productive central Gulf region off Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“Republicans spent eight years alleging the Obama administration was killing oil and gas when they knew it wasn’t true,” Grijalva said. “Now they’re taking credit for lease sales made under the Obama leasing plan. Tomorrow they may as well claim credit for capturing Osama Bin Laden.”

Goldman plans private equity expansion to help offset trading funk

 NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc is ramping up its private-equity investments and going after smaller, high-growth targets as part of a broad plan to offset recent trading declines, three people familiar with the effort told Reuters.

Goldman’s investment bank, which typically focuses on advising large companies on mergers and raising capital, is now looking to use Goldman’s own funds to finance a handful of small, promising companies in the near-term, the people said. The initiative is led by senior investment banker Kathy Elsesser, who earlier this year took on the project in addition to her role as global chair of consumer, retail and healthcare investment banking. She will be responsible for looking for deals in these sectors. The goal is to repeat Goldman’s past success with early-stage investments in tech companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. The latest effort, however, would target industries outside of Silicon Valley, said the people, who declined to be named because the strategy they were discussing was not yet public.

It is one of several initiatives Goldman has launched to add $5 billion to annual revenue after a slump in bond trading. Among those are efforts to lend more, come up with creative deals to pitch to big clients, and convince more corporations and investors to trade with Goldman Sachs. The private-equity plan may not be a slam dunk. Investments could be duds, especially because fierce competition has made it more difficult to produce strong returns from private equity. Bankers will also have to be careful not to anger Goldman’s investor clients chasing the same deals. Even a successful effort is unlikely to make up for the billions of dollars’ of trading revenue Goldman has lost since 2009, analysts said. “They’ve admitted there is a potential problem long-term with revenue growth so they need to do something about it,” said Brian Kleinhanzl, a bank analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. “But it’s rare for things to move the needle too much with Goldman.”

Billionaires get $1 trillion richer as part of super-rich ‘super cycle’

Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett speak with journalist Charlie Rose at an event organized by Columbia Business School on Jan. 27, 2017, in New York.
Getty Images Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett speak with journalist Charlie Rose at an event organized by Columbia Business School on Jan. 27, 2017, in New York.

The wealth held by the world’s billionaires jumped by nearly $1 trillion in 2016, and they now have more money than the GDP of the entire European Union, according to a new report. The population of billionaires rose by 145, or about 10 percent in 2016, to 1,542 billionaires, according to the report by UBS and PwC. The wealth held by those billionaires increased from $5.1 trillion to $6 trillion, according to the report. The surge in wealth by the world’s billionaires far surpassed broader economic growth or stock markets. Their performance was twice the increase in the MSCI AC World Index, which measures stock market performance around the world. Billionaire wealth also far surpassed global economic growth of 5.8 percent in 2016, according to the report. So how did the billionaires make so much money last year? Stronger stock markets, rising commodity and real estate prices and tech investments. “Movements in financial markets and currencies dominate the picture from year to year,” the report said. “Four principal sectors were behind 2016’s resurgence — materials (up 31%), technology (up 23%), financial services (up 16%) and industrials (up 28%).” The report said stronger commodity prices “helped boost billionaires in the mining, steel and oil industries.” While billionaire wealth is greater than the GDP of the European Union, the world’s billionaires also employ a population equal to a small country. The report said the world’s billionaires, most of whom own part or all of their own companies, directly employ 27.7 million people, equal to the working population of the U.K. Since the vast majority of today’s billionaires are self-made entrepreneurs, “growing entrepreneurial wealth has been accompanied by expanding employment,” the report said. It said the current cycle of billionaire growth started in 1980 and warned that this super cycle for billionaires isn’t likely to last forever.

Pollak: Flake, Corker Hoping Trump Will ‘Fall’ So They Can ‘Take Back Their Control’ of GOP

Wednesday on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” Breitbart senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak said Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) were criticizing President Donald Trump because they were “hoping he’ll fall and they can take back their control as gatekeepers of the party.” Pollak said, “I think it’s noteworthy that when Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor to talk about his grievances against the president, he didn’t mention policy, he didn’t mention ideology. He mentioned behavior and used that term as well. What he really meant was the president’s words, use of Twitter, some of the things he said in response to critics, and I don’t they are what most people think of when they think of threats to democracy. I think if you had a president who ignored the Constitution, as Obama did, or a president who ignored the courts, as Obama did.” He continued, “The striking thing about Jeff Flake’s speech was he completely ignored the eight years of Obama, some of the hostility on the left. There was no criticism what the left, what the Democrats had done to create the political situation we’re in. So I don’t know what it is specifically he had a problem with Trump about.” He added, “I think for many of Trump critics, especially in the never Trump wing of the Republican Party, it is really about personality. It is also about access. These are people from institutions, maybe think tanks or other lobbying organizations, who thought he would have access to power if a Republican won, and Trump did it without them so they don’t have that access. And so they are burning bridges hoping he’ll fall and they can take back their control as gatekeepers of the party.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are focusing squarely on tax cuts rather than deficit discipline as they look to shoehorn a GOP budget plan through the House. Passage of the $4 trillion budget measure on Thursday would pave the way for Republicans controlling Washington to pass a 10-year, $1.5 trillion tax cut measure later this year that’s the highest priority of President Donald Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill. But GOP leaders were scrambling to overcome pockets of resistance to the measure from hard-right Republicans unhappy about deficits and lawmakers from New York and New Jersey who fear the subsequent tax bill would take away a deduction for state and local taxes that’s especially valuable to their constituents. “This is a big issue and it has to be resolved,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who supports the deduction. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady says he’ll schedule a panel debate and vote once the budget plan is safely passed, and much of the buzz in the Capitol concerned a flurry of horse trading as Republicans struggled to find ways to raise revenues to help finance cuts to individual and corporate tax rates. The goal is a full rewrite of the inefficient, loophole-laden tax code in hopes of lower rates for corporations and other businesses and a spurt of economic growth. “To do tax reform, you need money. And right now, even as we speak, they appear to be going wobbly on some of the issues they’ve raised with great certainty in previous weeks,” said top Ways and Means panel Democrat Richard Neal of Massachusetts. “They’ve got a revenue problem, a real revenue problem. And you have to make some dramatic changes to benefits that people across America have come to expect and enjoy.” Republicans view passage of the tax measure as a career-defining dream, and its importance has only grown in the wake of the party’s debacle on health care. But the tax plan’s popularity is not a given with voters.

An Associated Press-NORC poll released Wednesday found most Americans saying Trump’s tax plan would benefit the wealthy and corporations, and less than half believing his message that “massive tax cuts” would help middle-class workers.

Saudis plan to build $500bn mega city and business zone

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to build a new city and business zone – a project that will be backed up by more than $500bn (£381bn) in investment. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says the 26,500 sq km (10,232 sq mile) NEOM zone will be developed in the north-west, extending to Egypt and Jordan. It will focus on nine sectors including food technology and, energy and water.The crown prince has been leading a drive to move Saudi Arabia away from its dependence on oil In August, the Gulf kingdom launched a massive tourism development project to turn 50 islands and other sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts. However, the extremely ambitious nature of Mohammed bin Salman’s vision is sure to raise questions about how realistic it is, the BBC’s economics correspondent Andrew Walker says. Saudi officials said NEOM would be financed “over the coming years” by the state as well as local and international investors. “NEOM’s contribution to the kingdom’s GDP is projected to reach at least $100bn by 2030, in addition to its per capita GDP – projected to become the highest in the world,” a statement said. “It is set to become a new vibrant destination” on the coast of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, linking Asia, Africa and Europe. The announcement came at an international business conference in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.

Trump and U.S. House tax lawmaker reopen door to 401(k) changes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump and the U.S. House of Representatives’ top tax law writer reopened the door on Wednesday to changes in the 401(k) retirement savings program, just days after Trump seemed to rule out such a step under a broad Republican tax overhaul project. Trump told reporters he wants to protect the popular tax-deferred savings program, but said it was possible it could be part of congressional negotiations over tax cuts.“Maybe we’ll use it as negotiating, but trust me ... there are certain kinds of deals you don’t want to negotiate with,” Trump said on the White House South Lawn as he prepared to depart on a trip to Dallas.  Earlier this week, after The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Republicans were considering capping annual contributions at $2,400, Trump wrote on Twitter: “There will be NO change to your 401(k)”. Tampering with 401(k) plans, which have largely replaced defined benefit pensions in the United States, would risk alienating tens of millions of workers, as well as the mutual fund operators which rely on the plans for much of their business. Many companies match a percentage of their employees’ 401(k) contributions. Changes to the tax-deferred savings program could also provide ammunition to Democrats, who have painted Trump’s plan, with its $6 trillion in tax cuts, as a gift to the rich and corporate America that would balloon the federal deficit. Nick Bit: their is over 17 trillion dollars in retirement accounts. The temptation to tax the shit out of them is to great! Add to that the market crash risk means you are crazy keeping your money in ANY AND ALL  retirement accounts. i urge you to cash in ALL retirement accounts and put your money UNDER YOUR CONTROL into  where it will be safe at:

Here is a link to Treasury Direct where you can buy Government Securities. Click here to view.

Here is a link to a calculator so you can figure how much it will take you to get out of your 401k. Click here to view.

Bomb could wipe out US: super-electromagnetic pulse launched by North Korea kill 90% of the population

An attack on US electronics by North Korea could kill 90 per cent of the population by crippling the nation’s infrastructure, an expert has claimed. A spine-chilling report said Washington is underestimating the threat of an ‘electromagnetic pulse’ (EMP), a phenomenon that could be caused by detonating a nuclear bomb high above the Earth. Such an attack would see the release of a burst of energy that would interfere with and destroy all electronics – and North Korea has claimed it has built a warhead for this very purpose. Peter Pry, who previously worked for the CIA, outlined his theories in testimony to Congress. And in an interview with Forbes magazine, he expanded on his vision of how America would fare in such an attack. He said: ‘The US can sustain a population of 320million people only because of modern technology. An EMP that blacks out the electric grid for a year would [destroy] the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population.’ Airliners – of which there are 5,000 flying over the US at any one time, carrying 500,000 passengers – would crash as their electrical systems were destroyed, killing most on board, he said.  Meanwhile, the systems that regulate gas flow through pipelines would spark, causing huge fires in cities and forests. To make matters worse, he said, nuclear power plants will melt down within a week, causing radioactive particles to spread across the nation. Food supplies in supermarkets would be consumed within days. Without power, the national food supply would start to spoil around a month later. A single warhead delivered by a North Korean satellite could shut down the entire electric grid and other critical infrastructure for more than a year. In that time, Mr Pry contends up to 90 per cent of the US population could perish from starvation, disease and societal collapse.

 Nick Bit: See my video on the subject from 2 years ago

Mr Pry is chief of staff of a congressional committee set up to assess the threat of EMP. However, the committee lost its funding last month. Scientists and security experts argue that the claims by Mr Pry and others are far-fetched.

Bob Corker says Trump ‘utterly untruthful president’

Influential Republican Senator Bob Corker has unleashed a blistering attack on US President Donald Trump, calling him “utterly untruthful”. In a series of television interviews, Mr Corker accused the president of lying, adding that he debased the US and weakened its global standing. Mr Trump fired back on Twitter, calling the Tennessee senator a “lightweight” who “couldn’t get re-elected”. The pair met at a Senate lunch on Tuesday to discuss tax reform. “He is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation,” Mr Corker said on CNN after the Republican president criticised him on Twitter. “I think the debasement of our nation is what he’ll be remembered most for,” he said. The Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who was an early supporter of Mr Trump, added that the president has “great difficulty with truth”.

Malls ditch the ‘M word’ as they spend big bucks on renovations

A new look and a new name. Billions are being spent to renovate shopping centers to tailor them to consumers’ changing tastes and shopping patterns. And these changes are going way beyond a fresh coat of paint and some new tenants. Often the malls’ very identity is changing, and the word “mall” is being ditched. Ninety regional malls have spent more than $8 billion in renovations during the last three years, according to a study by investment management company Jones Lang LaSalle. JLL found that since 2014, about 20 percent removed the “m-word” from their official title after renovations. Common replacements: “shoppes,” “village” and “towne center.” “Many of the … properties we looked at are elevating their role beyond purely shopping and becoming destinations for dining out and entertainment, community activities and even lodging and residential,” said John Lambert, JLL’s director of retail development. Taking their upgrades one step further, 16 percent of mall landlords have admitted to spending money on “de-malling,” JLL found. This could consist of replacing an apparel retail tenant with a virtual reality experience. Or some owners have taken vacated, big-box spaces and turned them into call centers and medical offices. “As a general rule of thumb, mall owners who place an impactful amount of capital into a renovation hope to see an 8-10 percent increase in sales,” said Larry Jensen, director of business development for JLL’s National Retail Property Management practice. “What’s the cost of not renovating as shoppers become bored and move on to other venues?” he added in a statement.

Budget deficit projected to pass $1 trillion even sooner than expected

We're heading into a very high debt to GDP ratio, that's very bad news: Harvard economics professor
Here’s how the GOP tax plan affects the federal deficit

Expected tax cuts along with increased spending for hurricane victims and a higher debt ceiling could push the U.S. budget deficit even higher than expected. In fact, the deficit could break $1 trillion by 2020, two years sooner than current government projections, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis. “We have increased our budget deficit forecasts somewhat over the next few years to reflect the effect of disaster spending, expected tax cuts, and an increase in spending caps,” Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius said in a note.

Under the new estimates, the deficit will hit $750 billion in 2018, $900 billion in 2019 and $1.025 trillion in 2020. The figures represent a $50 billion increase for next year and $75 billion for each of the following two years.

If accurate, they could be quite a bit higher than what the Congressional Budget Office expects. Figures the Treasury Department released last week showed that fiscal year 2017 ended with a $666 billion shortfall, which actually was lower than the CBO projection of $693 billion. However, the office expects the deficit to fall to $563 billion in 2018 then hit $689 billion and $775 billion in the following two years. The 2017 debt represented 3.5 percent of GDP, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the previous year. “Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. He added that the tax reform plan “will help place the nation on a path to improved fiscal health and create prosperity for generations to come.” Goldman, however, projects that the government will have to raise the debt ceiling again in March. The country’s debt load now totals $20.4 trillion, an increase of about 2.5 percent in 2017.

Auto industry tells Trump ‘We’re winning with NAFTA’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Major automakers, suppliers and auto dealers launched a new coalition on Tuesday to urge U.S. President Donald Trump not to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Auto trade associations representing major carmakers including General Motors Co (GM.N), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) are part of the coalition dubbed “Driving American Jobs.” The group is behind an advertising campaign to convince the White House and voters that the NAFTA pact has been crucial in boosting U.S. automotive sector production and jobs. Trump has threatened to withdraw from the trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico, which is heavily utilized by automakers that have production and supply chains spread across the three countries.

In the most recent round of talks to renegotiate NAFTA last week, Trump proposed changes to the rules of origin for autos, which are used to determine how much of a vehicle is made in a certain place. The proposed rules were viewed as untenable for automakers, as well as Mexico and Canada.

The auto industry joins the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other large business groups that have become more vocal in recent weeks about Trump’s efforts to change the 23-year-old accord, saying the changes would hurt American jobs. The auto coalition, which includes the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and American International Automobile Dealers Association, said ending NAFTA, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade between the three countries, would put U.S. auto sector jobs at risk.

 

Gold ends at more-than-2-week low

Getty Images Gold prices have shaved 6% since striking a one-year high in early September.

Gold prices finished at a more than two-week low on Tuesday, with strength in the U.S. stock market dulling demand for the precious metal amid uncertainty surrounding the leadership for the U.S. Federal Reserve. For gold, “the technicals are divergent as there were lower lows reached in July, and then soon after a new set of 2017 highs hit in September,” Richey said in the latest newsletter. “Fundamentals are similarly confusing.” “There are still many unknowns, such as will the next Fed chair be dovish or hawkish, and will tax cuts actually get done,” he said. “Those both have implications for real interest rates, and until we can decisively say real interest rates are moving higher (gold bearish) or lower (gold bullish), we will remain neutral on gold.” The yellow metal also suffered its biggest weekly loss in a month last week as the dollar strengthened following the Republican-controlled Senate’s passage of a budget blueprint that’s seen helping to clear the way for the stock market-strengthening tax cuts promised by

US crude rises 1.1%, settling at $52.47, after Saudi comments on output, forecast for drop in US stockpiles

An employee walks past oil barrels at the Bai Hassan oil field, west of the multi-ethnic northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, on October 19, 2017.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye | AFP | Getty Images An employee walks past oil barrels at the Bai Hassan oil field, west of the multi-ethnic northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, on October 19, 2017.

Oil prices rose in volatile trade on Tuesday after top exporter Saudi Arabia said it was determined to end a supply glut, while prices also drew support from forecasts of a further drop in U.S. crude inventories.The Saudi energy minister said the focus remained on reducing oil stocks in industrialized countries to their five-year average and raised the prospect of prolonged output restraint once anange for WTI is $52.37 to $52.86, he said. Oil was down earlier in the session as crude flows through Iraq’s northern pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey rose further. Pumping along the pipeline rose to 300,000 bpd on Tuesday, a shipping source said. Output fell from 600,000 bpd last week when Iraqi forces retook control of oilfields from Kurdish fighters. Iraqi pro-government paramilitaries launched an offensive against Kurdish troops on Tuesday near the Turkish frontier, pushing towards a strategic border crossing and oil export pipeline hub that Baghdad says must come under its control. The disruption to exports from Iraq, the second-largest producer in OPEC, has helped support the market and should give the group’s already high compliance with the cutback agreement a boost in October.

Taking statins raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes Try oatmeal safer and works better

Taking statins increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly a third, researchers found. A decade-long study of more than 3,200 patients found those who took statins were 30 per cent more likely to develop the condition. The pills are proven lifesavers, slashing the chance of a repeat attack, yet a scientific row over benefits and side effects has dragged on for years.

A study of more than 3,200 patients found people taking statins are 30 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes 

Experts have long known there was a link between statins and diabetes – but doctors have always stressed that the advantages of the pills far outweigh the small chance of getting diabetes.. The researchers, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, think this may be because statins impair insulin production. In the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, they called for regular blood sugar tests of people taking statins.

Statins have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes 

 Statins have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes

Studies have shown that the daily consumption of a 70-gram bowl of oatmeal can lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol by 7 percent. According to Dr. George Grimble at the University College London in the U.K., that is equivalent to the LDL reduction produced by statins, reports the Daily Mail.

The difference is that oatmeal, which is full of protein and fiber, offers an array of health benefits, while statins increase the risk of serious diseases, including diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders due to the nerve-damaging properties of statins.

Fox News: Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly clash over sex claims

Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has hit back at presenter Megyn Kelly’s “incomprehensible” comments involving reports of sexual harassment at the news channel, US media report.

Ms Kelly said Mr O’Reilly’s suggestion that nobody had complained about his behaviour at Fox was “false”. “I know because I complained,” she said. Mr O’Reilly retorted: “I don’t know why [Kelly] is doing what she’s doing. I’ve helped her dramatically in her career.” Mr O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing. In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck on Monday, Mr O’Reilly said he had “never had a problem” with Ms Kelly. “When she was getting hammered earlier this year, I wrote a column sticking up for her,” he said. Mr O’Reilly said that he was not going to “run and hide” from allegations of sexual harassment at the company, but added that he wanted the story to “go away because it’s brutalising my family. On Monday, Ms Kelly used her NBC Today show to criticise Mr O’Reilly and Fox News over reports in the New York Times of a $32m (£24m) settlement paid to former Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl to settle a sexual harassment case. “That is not a nuisance value settlement, that is a jaw-dropping figure,” Ms Kelly said. Ms Kelly, who left Fox to join NBC earlier this year, said she had sent an email to several Fox News executives in November 2016 in relation to Mr O’Reilly’s alleged behaviour. Her email, she said, suggested that perhaps Mr O’Reilly “didn’t realise the kind of message his criticism sent to young women” when he talked about the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment. “Perhaps he didn’t realise that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long [Roger] Ailes mess to begin with,” she said.

 

Bob Corker’s 9 most devastating lines on Donald Trump in his CNN interview,

 Washington (CNN)Hours before Donald Trump was set to huddle with Senate Republicans to rally support for his tax cut measure, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker delivered an absolute bludgeoning of the President. And even that may be an understatement.
In an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju, Corker said the President consistently doesn’t tell the truth, dodged on whether Trump should have the nuclear codes, said Trump wasn’t a role model for children, said he would not ever support him again and repeatedly suggested that Trump “debases” the country. It was something else. Below, I’ve picked the nine roughest Corker lines and ranked them from least to most devastating.

9. “The shame of it is, there are some some really good people around him, and if he would stay out of their way and let them perform, people like (Rex) Tillerson and (James) Mattis and others, we could really make progress on things that matter greatly to our country.”

Think about this. Corker is saying that if only Trump would get out of the way, Republicans could actually get some things done. He views Trump as the main impediment to getting things done in Washington. And this is the least damning thing Corker said about Trump in his interview with Manu!

8. “I would hope the staff over there would figure out ways of controlling him when they know that everything he said today was absolutely untrue.”

This echoes Corker’s comments about the White House functioning as an “adult daycare center” in which the job of lots of smart and serious people is to keep the President from doing anything truly destructive to the country. Rather than doing the work of the country, Corker suggests, the main focus of the White House is managing the President’s moods and tempers.

7. “Four times he encouraged me to run and told me he would endorse me. I don’t know. it’s amazing.”

Corker, again, is noting that he believes Trump is lying about the nature of their conversation last month at the White House. Trump continues to insist Corker begged for his endorsement and said he couldn’t win — and would have to retire — without it. Corker has consistently argued that Trump not only asked him to run again but offered to endorse him and campaign with him. Someone is lying. And, based on track record, I think we have a pretty good idea who it is.

6. “I think that he’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion … I don’t think that that’s possible. He’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”

This quote comes in the context of Corker telling Manu about dinners and meetings that he and other Republican senators have had with Trump in which they urged him to moderate some of his natural bomb-throwing tendencies. He didn’t. And, according to Corker, he won’t. This is as good as it gets, Corker is saying. Which is pretty damning.

5. “The President has great difficulty with the truth. On many issues.”

Corker wouldn’t call Trump a “liar” in the interview with Manu. But he did everything but. The quote above suggests that Corker believes Trump’s natural state is to not tell the truth. Related: Corker is talking about the President, aka the single most powerful person in the country.

4. “I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, and debases our country in a way that he does, but he does.”

That word “debase” is a powerful one. It means, quite literally: “To reduce in quality or value; adulterate.” So what Corker is saying is that Trump is tarnishing the country by the way he acts and what he says. Wowza.

3. “We are going to be doing hearings on some of the things that he purposely is breaking down, relationships we have around the world that have been useful to our nation.”

What exactly does this mean? Corker, as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, is going to hold hearings seeking accountability for the decisions Trump has made as President? He is going to hold hearings aimed at restoring trust between the US and our traditional allies? Something else? No matter what, it’s a big deal.

2. “I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue.”

Remember that this is the GOP head of a major Senate committee speaking. Corker isn’t popping off. He actually talks to world leaders and, presumably, knows of what he speaks. Consider then what this means: World leaders — our allies and our adversaries — know that Trump is often lying. The chaos that can — and will — create in the world is hard to wrap your head around. And terrifying.

1. “When his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth telling, and the — just the name calling, the things that I think, the debasement of our nation is what we will be remembered most important, and that’s regretful.”

Trump has been president for nine-ish months. A prominent Republican senator is suggesting that not only is Trump’s legacy already set but that it will be a legacy of “debasement of our nation.” Sit with that for a minute. (Sidebar: More than four in 10 people in a recent Marist College poll said Trump would go down in history as one of our worst presidents.)

Bob Corker says Trump ‘utterly untruthful president’

Influential Republican Senator Bob Corker has unleashed a blistering attack on US President Donald Trump, calling him “utterly untruthful”.

In a series of television interviews, Mr Corker accused the president of lying, adding that he debased the US and weakened its global standing. Mr Trump fired back on Twitter, calling the Tennessee senator a “lightweight” who “couldn’t get re-elected”. The pair met at a Senate lunch on Tuesday to discuss tax reform. “He is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation,” Mr Corker said on CNN after the Republican president criticised him on Twitter. “I think the debasement of our nation is what he’ll be remembered most for,” he said. The Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who was an early supporter of Mr Trump, added that the president has “great difficulty with truth”.Republicans – including those who bore the brunt of Mr Trump’s vitriolic attacks – largely shrugged off those earlier rows as primary-season posturing and unified behind their unlikely standard-bearer in the autumn general election. Mr Corker, on the verge of Senate retirement, isn’t backing down, however. And the president is once again raising the voltage.

The party is learning the hard way that there’s only one Donald Trump – whether he’s a real-estate mogul, a reality TV star, a candidate or a president.

If you question his leadership, his views or his attitude, he’ll unleash the whirlwind, no matter the consequences. When asked if he regretted supporting Mr Trump during the 2016 election, the senator said: “Let’s just put it this way, I would not do that again.” His comments came after Mr Trump lashed out at the Republican in a series of tweets.

 

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake Torches Trump After Announcing His Retirement

Sen. Flake Says ‘Heaven Help Us’ in Trump Era

Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announced he won’t seek re-election and then delivered a blistering attack on Donald Trump on the Senate floor, the second GOP senator to publicly excoriate the president on the day the party wanted to put a proposed tax overhaul at the forefront. “We must stop pretending that the degradation of politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal,” Flake said Tuesday, without mentioning Trump’s name. “They are not normal.”

“Outrageous and undignified behavior has been excused as telling it like it is when it is actually reckless, outrageous, and undignified,” Flake said. “When such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to democracy.”

Flake’s decision to not seek a second term in 2018 may help Democrats claim his seat, putting the thin Republican Senate majority in jeopardy. Flake has previously criticized Trump, though his comments Tuesday were harsher than in the past. The president once called the senator “toxic” in a post on Twitter. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump engaged in a war or words with Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Corker told CNN that Trump’s legacy is the “debasement of our nation” and Trump called Corker

Trump and Corker’s Feud Erupts Again, This Time Over Taxes

The feud between President Donald Trump and Bob Corker escalated with the president calling the senator “incompetent” and Corker accusing Trump of “debasing our nation” in an angry back-and-forth that could complicate the GOP’s path to a tax overhaul. Corker, in a series of television interviews Tuesday morning, unleashed a devastating attack on Trump’s presidency. “When his term is over I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, just the name-calling,” the Tennessee Republican said on CNN, “the debasement of our nation will be what he will be remembered most for, and that’s regretful.”

 Trump retaliated on Twitter, calling Corker — who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and isn’t seeking re-election — a “lightweight” who “couldn’t get elected dog catcher” in his home state.

The fight threatens to roil the attempt to pass an overhaul of the tax code that’s at the center of the president’s agenda. The timing of the rift could hardly be worse: Trump is scheduled to meet with Corker and other Republican senators at the Capitol later Tuesday to discuss the tax legislation. Corker said

International Red Cross Equates Mexico-Texas Border with War Zone

REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — During a visit to this border city, members of the International Red Cross found empty schools and fear in the streets after months of regular, large-scale gun battles by cartel members featuring grenade launchers, machine guns, and armored vehicles.

During his visit to Mexico, Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross spent time in Reynosa, a battlefront between rival groups of the Gulf Cartel that continue to fight over the territory. The purpose of the visit by the Red Cross was to evaluate the effects of organized crime and illegal immigration in Tamaulipas. One of the concerns expressed by Maurer was the humanitarian crisis in the northern parts of Mexico where citizens cannot enjoy access to basic services like education or medical care without running the risk of becoming victims to organized crime. During his trip, Maurer shared on social media various messages where he tries to offer a sense of depth to the problem. One of the messages reveals an empty school after classes were suspended due to the recent gun battles by the Gulf Cartel. “Our concern in Mexico, our basic proposal to the Mexican government is that derived from our experience in war zone and that some of the impacts are the same, some of the answers that we have proposed could be interesting to the Mexican government for consideration,” Maurer said in an interview with Mexico’s El Universal.

BofA fortifies online banking with new security layer

(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) will start using an additional layer of authentication for its online banking services, the Wall Street bank said on Monday, amid a wave of high-profile data breaches at several big U.S. companies. BofA said it would incorporate Intel Corp’s (INTC.O) Online Connect technology, that enables fingerprint touch payments, into its online banking systems starting next year. Cybersecurity is getting serious attention from U.S. companies, as concerns rise among financial market participants and regulators about the risks posed by cyber attacks. The financial services industry is among the most vulnerable to cyber crime because of the massive amount of money and valuable data that banks, brokerages and investment firms process each day. Just last month, credit monitoring firm Equifax Inc (EFX.N) disclosed that cyber criminals had breached its systems between mid-May and late-July and stolen the sensitive information of millions of Americans. BofA itself has earmarked about $600 million this year toward information security, its chief operations and technology officer Cathy Bessant told CNBC earlier this month.

The bank would spend a similar amount for information security next year, and has some 1,200 employees “dedicated to that effort,” Bessant added. BofA also said on Monday that customers with an iPhone X, Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) newest smartphone that will hit stores next month, can use the phone’s Face ID technology for secure authentication into BofA’s mobile app.

Mueller investigating Democratic lobbyist Podesta

Getty Images Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and his company.

Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, NBC News reports. The probe grew out of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, NBC said. Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, the chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. NBC says Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, and that Podesta’s company was one of the many firms that worked on the campaign.

Key senators say they didn’t know the US had troops in Niger

Washington (CNN)Some senators are saying they didn’t know the US had troops in Niger as questions swirl about the raid that killed four US servicemen there earlier this month. The Pentagon, however, said Monday it has kept Congress informed of the operation. Military investigators are looking into the exact circumstances of the October 4 raid, including how Sgt. La David Johnson was separated from the 12-member team as it was ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters. “I did not,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, responded to CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” Monday whether he knew there were troops in Niger. “When you consider what happened here, the four sergeants lost their lives, I think there’s a lot of work that both parties and both branches of government need to do. Not only to stay more informed but to focus on why we’re there and what happened to get to the bottom of this.” Several other leading senators also said they were in the dark about the operation in the western Africa nation. “I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” Sunday. “They are going to brief us next week as to why they were there and what they were doing.”

Reckless tax cuts could actually ‘undermine’ GDP growth: Policy expert Goolsbee

Austan Goolsbee
Kate Rooney | CNBC Austan Goolsbee

Economic policy expert Austan Goolsbee shared his view that reckless tax cutting could actually hamstring GDP growth in an exclusive interview with CNBC PRO ‘s Mike Santoli. “I think you’ve got to be careful just calling for cutting the corporate tax rate and paying for it some way that you don’t specify,” argued Goolsbee. “Because you could easily undermine the growth rate of the country to do that.

“You could give a windfall to a bunch of stuff that’s already been built and if you paid for that by eliminating say, deductions for investment … Some of the reasons why we have these exemptions were precisely to try to get the highest bang for the buck on growth.”

Some economists and politicians are warning of further exacerbating the current national debt. For his part, Goolsbee stressed caution toward any bill that could add significantly more to the deficit. “I’ve been an advocate of cutting the corporate tax rate and trying to do that as one does in tax reform like the tax reform act that Ronald Reagan did in a revenue-neutral way,” the economist said. “We’re not in a recession; this is the second-longest boom on record. During boom times is not when you want to start running up the deficit.” “The economy can’t go back to doing what it was doing before the recession began,” said Goolsbee, referring to lower-than-anticipated GDP growth.

. “The argument that there’s a whole lot of slack, that if we would just go flip a switch or turn a dial we would increase the growth rate in the country to 3 or 4 or the president said 6 percent … the evidence doesn’t really support that.”

Government Collects $3.3 Trillion in Taxes in Fiscal Year 2017

Despite trillion-dollar tax collection, government still runs $666 billion deficit

 

The federal government collected approximately $3.3 trillion in taxes in fiscal year 2017, but the federal government still ran a $666 billion deficit during that time, according to the latest monthly Treasury Department statement. Treasury receipts include tax revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance and retirement taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and other miscellaneous items. The 2017 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2016, and runs through Sept. 30, 2017. During this time, the amount of taxes collected by the federal government totaled $3,314,894,000,000. Most of the $3.3 trillion that the government collected from this fiscal year came from individual income taxes, which totaled $1.59 trillion. Corporation income taxes totaled about $297 billion. The amount of taxes collected this year was slightly lower than the amount collected last year, after adjusting for inflation. In fiscal year 2016, the federal government collected $3,266,688,000,000 in taxes, but after adjusting for inflation, that number rose to $3,339,836,430,000. Although the federal government brought in approximately $3.3 trillion in revenue in fiscal 2017, according to the Treasury, it also spent approximately $3.98 trillion, leaving a deficit of $665,712,000,000.

Iraq rebuffs Tillerson call to disband Iran-backed militias

Iraq’s prime minister has defended Iran-backed militias, during talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who had criticised their role. During Mr Tillerson’s visit to Baghdad, PM Haider al-Abadi called the fighters the “hope of Iraq and the region”. Mr Tillerson said earlier that the Iran-backed fighters should disband, as the fight against the Islamic State militants was almost over in Iraq. The Shia militias were mobilised in fighting against IS earlier this year. More recently, they helped Iraqi troops seize the northern oil-city of Kirkuk from Kurdish forces. Mr Tillerson held talks with Mr Abadi in Baghdad late on Monday, a day after the two men spoke during regional talks in Saudi Arabia. After that meeting Mr Tillerson told reporters that it was time for Iranian-backed Shia fighters to “go home” now that the battle against IS was “coming to a close”. But during their talks in Baghdad, Mr Abadi said the paramilitaries were Iraqis – not Iranian proxies – and that they “should be encouraged because they will be the hope of country and the region”, his office said.

Kim Jong-un is ‘mass producing deadly batches of smallpox and the plague’, warns Harvard report

Kim Jong-un is feared to be mass producing biological weapons which could kill tens of thousands with a deadly spread of smallpox.  The dictator is said to be harvesting agents such as plague, anthrax and cholera and experts believe the intended targets are thought to be US troops.  It comes as the North Korean government labelled Donald Trump a ‘hooligan’ and a ‘lunatic with his finger over a nuclear button’.

Kim Jong-un is feared to be mass producing biological weapons which could kill tens of thousands with a deadly spread of smallpox. Here he is pictured in a shoe factory

Syria’s largest oil field captured by US-backed forces

CNN)US-backed Kurdish and Arab forces say they have captured Syria’s largest oil field from ISIS, the latest in a series of recent setbacks for the jihadists in the east of the country.
Laila al-Abdullah, a spokeswoman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, said that the group had “liberated” the oil field in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, driving ISIS fighters “out of the fields with little damage” on Sunday. Al-Abdullah said SDF forces were working to expel the militants from a nearby neighborhood where they had taken refuge. The US coalition confirmed the capture of the oil field to CNN in a statement Monday, adding that ISIS’ oil production had been “reduced from a peak of approximately $50 million per month to currently less than $4 million per month.” Dozens of ISIS fighters are now holed up in a small pocket of Deir Ezzor, trapped between the US-backed SDF on the eastern side of the Euphrates River and Russian-backed Syrian regime forces on the west. The SDF declared the “total liberation” of Raqqa on Friday, which for more than three years was the de facto capital of ISIS.

Senate presses ahead on $36.5 billion disaster relief package

People affected by Hurricane Maria fill up water jugs from a mountain drain near the municipality of Morovis, outside San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 10, 2017.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
People affected by Hurricane Maria fill up water jugs from a mountain drain near the municipality of Morovis, outside San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 10, 2017. The Senate is pushing ahead on a $36.5 billion hurricane relief package that would give Puerto Rico a much-needed infusion of cash. The measure also would replenish rapidly dwindling emergency disaster accounts and provide $16 billion to permit the financially troubled federal flood insurance program to pay an influx of Harvey-related claims. But it rejects requests from the powerful Texas and Florida congressional delegations for additional money to rebuild after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The measure was certain to sail through Monday’s procedural vote and a final vote was expected no later than Tuesday. That would send the measure to President Donald Trump for his signature.
 There is urgency to move the measure swiftly — rather than add more money to it at this time — because the government’s flood insurance reserves are running out.

Still, members of the Texas and Florida delegations in Congress are unhappy because the measure failed to address extensive requests for additional hurricane rebuilding funds. Texas, inundated by Harvey in August, requested $19 billion, while Florida sought $27 billion.

“I’m pretty disappointed with what the House sent over,” Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday. But later, after speaking to both Trump and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, Cornyn said he was promised that the White House would issue another disaster aid measure next month that would provide much-needed help for Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. A fourth, and perhaps final, measure is likely to anchor a year-end spending bill.

China’s exports to North Korea jumped 20.9% in first three quarters of 2017

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during a visit to a fruit orchard in Kwail county, South Hwanghae province.
KCNA | Reuters North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during a visit to a fruit orchard in Kwail county, South Hwanghae province.
China’s exports to North Korea jumped an annual 20.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2017, customs data showed.

From January to September, Asia’s largest economy exported $2.55 billion in value to the pariah state, the data showed, according to Reuters. Imports from North Korea during that nine-month period actually fell 16.7 percent, according to the data, and so the total trade figure only saw a 3.7 percent increase, Reuters said. Of note, both exports and imports between the two nations fell in September from the previous month, according to the data: Exports to North Korea sank from $315.97 million to $266.35 million, and imports from North Korea fell from $288.29 million to $145.82 million. The figures come as much of the world, including the United Nations, calls for tight economic sanctions on the rogue nation. The government in Pyongyang is paying for a rapidly expanding nuclear weapons program, and it has verbally threatened several countries with attack. Last month, Beijing announced its intention to restrict trade with Pyongyang on several key items, including textiles, seafood and petroleum products, in compliance with U.N resolutions. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration has also banned mainland lenders from doing business with North Korean clients. The rising pressure comes amid a tense war of words between North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, which has stoked fears of military action on the Korean Peninsula. Last week, a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier conducted drills with South Korea’s navy in an exercise aimed at showing off Washington’s defense capabilities.  Trump is expected to ask Xi to do more to contain the North when the two leaders meet in Beijing next month. But many commentators believe China, which exercises enormous economic clout over the isolated regime, is fundamentally unwilling to destabilize its neighbor.

U.S. Midwest oil refiners boost output, cut region’s dependence on Gulf Coast

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. refineries from Ohio to Minnesota are capitalizing on access to cheap crude from Western Canada and North Dakota oilfields, helping their region break a historic dependence on fuel from the Gulf Coast while redrawing oil trade maps.Since the early 2000s, crude and fuel flows from the Gulf Coast into the U.S. heartland have been cut in half, as crude coming from Canada and North Dakota has pushed U.S. Midwest refining activity to record levels. In 2016, Midwest refining capacity rose to 3.9 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, the highest annual volume on record. Midwest refiners such as Marathon Petroleum Corp, Phillips 66, BP PLC and Husky Energy have invested billions of dollars on new units capable of turning sludgy crude from Canada into gasoline and diesel. Investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline and other avenues have helped bring in shale oil from North Dakota.  analysts warned that weakening U.S. gasoline demand will make it challenging for Midwest refiners to sell their growing output. The Midwest is land-locked, making it hard to get products to new markets, especially as rival refiners defend their turf. Philadelphia area refiners are currently fighting efforts to reverse a pipeline so Midwest companies can move fuel to western Pennsylvania. Hurricane Harvey knocked out half of the Gulf’s capacity, while Midwest refiners processed a record 4.06 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in late August and early September, 12 percent more than the 2016 average. But analysts predict that ebbing U.S. gasoline demand will eventually force Midwestern refiners to find other markets, including exports. A gasoline supply glut would pressure prices and weaken profit margins for refiners, Shepard said. Eventually, Midwest refiners will have to close plants if they cannot access new markets.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe promises to handle North Korea threat

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised strong “counter-measures” against North Korea, after winning a decisive victory in Sunday’s election. Mr Abe had called an early election for a greater mandate to deal with “crises”, including the growing threat from Pyongyang, which has fired missiles over Japan in recent months. His ruling coalition has retained a two-thirds majority in parliament. This paves the way for Mr Abe to amend Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution. Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Mr Abe said his coalition’s win was a “vote of confidence” from the public, and based on that “we would dramatically show counter-measures against the North Korea threat”. He said he would discuss these measures with US President Donald Trump, who is visiting Japan next month, as well as with other world powers such as Russia and China. He said they would exert “stronger pressure” on North Korea, adding: “I will make sure the Japanese public is safe, and safeguard our nation.” Even if an amendment to the constitution is passed and approved by both houses in the Diet – which Mr Abe’s coalition controls – it still needs to be put to a public vote

 

Fallen soldier’s widow ‘very angry’ about Trump’s call, says he ‘couldn’t remember’ husband’s name

The widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was among four U.S. service members killed in Niger earlier this month, expressed a mix of blame and sorrow today on “Good Morning America,” saying she was “very angry” about President Donald Trump’s condolence phone call and upset because she says he struggled to “remember my husband’s name.” “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country why can’t you remember his name,” said Johnson, who had known her husband since they were 6 years old. “That’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.” Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., last week adamantly defended her version of Trump’s phone call to Johnson in an interview with ABC News. Wilson, who was accompanying Johnson to Dover Air Force Base when the president called, heard Trump on speakerphone attempting to console her. “I heard him say, ‘Well I guess you know he knew what he was signing up for, but it still hurts,'” Wilson told ABC News.

Trumps Rebuttal

 

In Trump’s tax plan Millionaires get a tax cut of $900,000 and the middle class save $660 a year!

(CNN)We need to applaud Donald Trump for his brutal honesty and mostly accurate tweet about the budget that the GOP-controlled Senate passed on Thursday: “Budget that just passed is a really big deal, especially in terms of what will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history – MSM barely covered!” (The one inaccuracy is that the tax cut, while large, would not be the “biggest” ever. There have been a number of bigger tax cuts under presidents, from Lyndon Johnson to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.) Still, Trump is correct that the GOP Senate passed this budget Thursday to pave the way for massive tax cuts. And Trump is also correct that the “MSM” — the mainstream media — has not covered this story the way it deserves.

But that’s where we part company. Trump wants the media to pat him on the back for the budget passing and for his proposed tax cuts. In contrast, I want the media to highlight for our fellow Americans that the budget passed by the GOP-controlled Senate would massively cut both Medicare and Medicaid in order to give the richest Americans a big, fat and unnecessary tax cut.
America needs higher wages, not lower taxes

America needs higher wages, not lower taxes
First, let’s look at the budget bill that the Republican Senate passed Thursday, which Trump is now publicly applauding. It would cut funding by $5 trillion over the next decade.  Senior citizens would suffer the most from these cuts? , the poor and the disabled.  The GOP Senate budget calls for “$473 billion in cuts from Medicare over 10 years.” Add to that, the GOP budget cuts over $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next decade.
McConnell: GOP will score big win on tax reform
McConnell: GOP will score big win on tax reform
Experts confirm that is exactly what we would see based on the information now known about the GOP’s proposed cuts. Per Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, “For the highest earners — those in the top 1 percent and top 0.1 percent — nearly all would see lower taxes.” In fact, according to Fackcheck.org, “Ninety percent of the top 1 percent — those earning about $900,000 and above in 2027 — would get a tax cut, averaging $234,050.”
Politifact.com, found that 80% of the GOP tax cuts would benefit the top 1% by the 10th year of the plan.
So, what about the rest of us? Well, in 2018, middle-income households (those earning $50,000 to $90,000 a year) would receive a tax break on average of $660

Million dollar bracket in the works for GOP tax plan

The Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee — engaged in a high-pressure, high-stakes tax policy rewrite — are currently exploring not cutting the income tax rate for people who earn $1 million or more per year.

  • Right now, the marginal tax rate for anyone who makes $418,000 or more per year is 39.6 percent. The Republicans’ opening gambit — secretly negotiated for months, and endorsed by Trump — would have cut the highest tax rate to 35 percent.
  • But now, House Republicans’ thinking has changed. Under their current thinking, people who earn between $418,000 and $999,999 will be in a lower tax bracket. But those earning $1 million or more will not.  
  • Opting to keep taxing million-dollar-earners at the current 39.6 percent-rate will help stem the deficit increase from tax cuts for corporations and the middle class.

Caveat: The million dollar bracket plans haven’t been finalized and could change this week, as committee Republicans finalize their tax bill during meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Potential blowback: If the Committee Republicans ultimately decide not to cut the income tax rate for million-dollar-earners, much of the Republican donor class and Reaganomics community (including anti-tax activist Grover Norquist) will feel betrayed.

“I understand compromise, but why compromise with the sin of envy?” Norquist told us. “This isn’t the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. But it is in the top 20.”

Norquist argues this won’t placate Democrats — who inevitably will charge that Trump’s tax overhaul is just designed to help the rich — but will alienate conservatives.

Meanwhile, one administration official told me Trump doesn’t really care about this issue. “He basically thinks they [rich people] are fine and he believes they don’t care that much about the individual rate so long as they get all the other goodies, like the corporate rate and expensing,” the official said.

What’s next: The House expects to pass the Senate budget this week. Shortly after, we’re likely to have a timeline of when House Republicans will release their tax cut bill.

A dynamic we’re watching: House Republicans make no secret of their disdain for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. They call him and Gary Cohn “the Democrats.” Don’t expect either one of them to have much lobbying power with conservatives on the Hill over these next crucial weeks.

EXCLUSIVE: US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert

A 2014 photo of a B-52H Stratofortress based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
If the order comes, the B-52s will return to a ready-to-fly posture not seen since the Cold War.

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. —  The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991. That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice.“This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview during his six-day tour of Barksdale and other U.S. Air Force bases that support the nuclear mission. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.” Goldfein and other senior defense officials stressed that the alert order had not been given, but that preparations were under way in anticipation that it might come. That decision would be made by Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of U.S. Northern Command. STRATCOM is in charge of the military’s nuclear forces and NORTHCOM is in charge of defending North America.

Rex Tillerson: Shia militia ‘must leave Iraq’

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said Iran-backed militias who have been fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq should go home as the battle is nearing its end. Mr Tillerson said all foreign fighters should leave and let Iraqis rebuild. He was speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia partly aimed at curbing Iran’s influence in the region. His trip follows President Donald Trump’s announcement of a more confrontational approach to Tehran. The US and its allies have been fighting the same enemy as the Iranians in the same theatre of war, despite US-backed Iraqi government forces have been fighting IS alongside Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU), a coalition of mostly Shia militia, many backed and funded by Iran. Some PMUs have been accused of abuses against Sunni civilians, including torture and killings, during previous operations to regain territory from IS in Iraq. PMU militia were also involved in last week’s Iraqi government takeover of large areas held by the Kurds since 2014, when IS swept though northern Iraq amid an Iraqi army collapse. Mr Tillerson wants Iraqi Shias in these militias either to integrate into the Iraqi army or put down their arms, a US official told the BBC. Their Iranian backers should leave the country, the official said. Mr Tillerson was was attending the inauguration of a new joint body established by Iraq and Saudi Arabia to co-ordinate economic development and counter-terrorism activities. He said it would help Iraq stand on its own feet after the battle against the Islamic State group, and help counter some of Iran’s influence in the country.

Chuck Schumer: Trump ‘Is Not Leading on Issue After Issue After Issue’

Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said President Donald Trump was “not leading on issue after issue after issue.” On health care, Schumer said, “Look, this is a good compromise. It took months to work out. It has a majority. It has 60 senators supporting it. We have all 48 Democrats and 12 Republicans. It will pass, and I believe it will pass by a large number of votes. It will put pressure on the House. What this bill does is prevent premiums from going up 20% even more in some states. That falls on everybody’s back, and if Republicans think that if premiums go up, they’re going to avoid the blame, if Senator McConnell thinks that, he’s wrong. So for the subsidy in premiums, that’s one. Since the Republicans are in charge, they should be coming up with solutions, and their leader did. You can’t say I won’t pass it unless this happens, and Republicans say I won’t pass it unless this happens. The president urged it originally. He called Senators both Murray and Alexander and said come to a solution, then they come to a solution, and he backs off.”

He added, “The president is not leading on issue after issue after issue and should not tweeting and start leading. He should roll up his sleeves and solve problems. That will influence the course of the debate that you significantly point out.”

Tesla reaffirms effort to build cars in China; mum on deal report

(Reuters) – Electric car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) reaffirmed on Sunday it is talking with the Shanghai municipal government to set up a factory in the region and expects to agree on a plan by the end of the year, but declined to comment on a report that a deal has been reached.. China levies a 25 percent duty on sales of imported vehicles and has not allowed foreign automakers to establish wholly owned factories in the country, the world’s largest auto market. Those are problems for Tesla, which wants to expand its presence in China’s growing electric vehicle market without compromising its independence or intellectual property.  China’s government has considered allowing foreign automakers to set up wholly owned factories in free trade zones in part to encourage more production of electric and hybrid vehicles – which the government calls “new energy vehicles” – to meet ambitious sales quotas. Tesla on Sunday pointed to a statement it made in June that the company “is working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market. As we’ve said before, we expect to more clearly define our plans for production in China by the end of the year.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla and the Shanghai government have reached a deal in that city’s free trade zone. Shanghai is China’s de facto automotive capital and a significant market for luxury vehicles of all kinds. Tesla is wrestling with production problems at its sole factory, in Fremont, California. It is trying to accelerate output of its new Model 3 sedan, but conceded earlier this month that production bottlenecks had held third-quarter production to just 260 vehicles, well short of the 1,500 previously planned.  Nick Bit: Musk is good at borrowing money. But no so good at delivering product. Do you think the DON knows that Tesla is going to move production TO China. lets see what Trump  if anything Tweets about this!

Japanese Prime Minister Abe heads to impressive election win

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s ruling coalition appeared headed to an impressive win in national elections on Sunday, in what would represent at least a partial comeback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. A victory would boost Abe’s chances of winning another three-year term next September as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. That could extend his premiership to 2021, giving him more time to try to win a reluctant public over to his longtime goal of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution. In the immediate term, a victory likely means a continuation of the policies Abe has pursued in the nearly five years since he took office in December 2012 — a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington, including defense, as well as a super-loose monetary policy and push for nuclear energy. Abe dissolved the lower house less than a month ago, forcing the snap election. The lower house chooses the prime minister and is the more powerful of the two chambers of parliament. Abe’s party and its nationalist supporters have advocated constitutional revisions for years. They view the 1947 constitution as the legacy of Japan’s defeat in World War II and an imposition of the victor’s world order and values. The charter renounces the use of force in international conflicts and limits Japan’s troops to self-defense, although Japan has a well-equipped modern military that works closely with the U.S. Any change to Japan’s constitution, which has never been amended, requires approval first by two-thirds of parliament, and then in a public referendum. Polls indicate that the Japanese public remains opposed to amendment.

US-allied force takes Syria’s largest oil field from IS

 BEIRUT (AP) — The U.S.-led coalition said allied fighters captured Syria’s largest oil field from the Islamic State group on Sunday, marking a major advance against the extremists in an area coveted by pro-government forces. With IS in retreat, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have been in a race to secure parts of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province along the border with Iraq. The SDF, with air support from the U.S.-led coalition, said Sunday it captured the Al-Omar field in a “swift and wide military operation.” It said some militants have taken cover in oil company houses nearby, where clashes are underway. The U.S.-led coalition confirmed the SDF had retaken the oil field.Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist from Deir el-Zour who monitors the fighting through contacts there, said SDF forces have seized control of the oil field but are still clashing with militants in the adjacent housing complex.  IS captured Al-Omar in 2014, when the group swept across large areas in Syria and neighboring Iraq. The field was estimated to produce around 9,000 barrels a day, making it a key source of revenue for the extremists. Its current potential is unknown, following a series of strikes on IS-held oil facilities by the U.S.-led coalition. IS has suffered a series of major setbacks in recent months, including the loss of the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists’ self-styled capital, and the Iraqi city of Mosul. Most of the territory the group once held has been seized by an array of Syrian and Iraqi forces.

US pushes Saudi Arabia, Iraq on united front to counter Iran

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a statement to the media that he is not going to resign, at the State Department in Washington, October 4, 2017.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a statement to the media that he is not going to resign, at the State Department in Washington, October 4, 2017.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday promoted a Trump administration goal of uniting Saudi Arabia and Iraq in common cause to counter Iran’s growing assertiveness in the Middle East. Tillerson participated in the inaugural meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Committee, along with Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, telling the leaders that the event highlighted the improving ties between the longtime rivals and showed “the great potential” for further cooperation. He noted the August reopening of a major border crossing and the resumption of direct flights between Riyadh and Baghdad. “Both represent the beginning of what we hope will be a series of even more tangible actions to improve relations and strengthen cooperation on a host of issues,” he said. “Your growing relationship between the kingdom and Iraq is vital to bolstering our collective security and prosperity and we take great interest in it.” Over the weekend, the Saudi oil minister, Khalid al-Falih, made a high-profile appearance at Baghdad’s International Fair, and held talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Jabar al-Luabi. Nevertheless, the relationship is plagued by suspicion. Iran’s reported intervention in Iraq’s semiautonomous northern Kurdish region, after last month’s much criticized vote for independence in a referendum, has deepened the unease. The kingdom is also looking to Iraq as a potential trading partner and as a major investment opportunity amid reconstruction efforts in cities such as Mosul, which were devastated by the war against the Islamic State group.

Car markers are revving up electric car production, but one analyst thinks consumers aren’t ready to hit the road

Global car makers are moving to energize the electric car market — exemplified by recent moves by auto giants like Ford and Volvo, which announced over the summer that it would stop making gas-only cars after 2019. So is the death of the internal combustion engine ahead? “I would not say it’s imminent,” Michelle Krebs, executive analyst of AutoTrader, told CNBC’s “On the Money” in a recent interview. “There are some things that have to happen before we see this big surge to electric vehicles.” “The consumer acceptance is not there,”

Although U.S. electric vehicle (EV) sales have surged—”They remain only about one percent of total sales in the U.S,”

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is introduced as the Car of the Year during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 9, 2017.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV is introduced as the Car of the Year during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 9, 2017.
Still, automakers are continuing to invest in EV technology for future transportation. Ford is planning to invest $4.5 billion in electric vehicles, and plans to launch 13 new EV models over the next five years. Separately, General Motors (GM) said it will have more than 20 EVs available by 2023. “There’s a lot of focus on the battery, bringing down the cost. Bringing down the size, so it can be packaged into different vehicles. Bringing down the weight, because more weight doesn’t help your mileage,” she explained. If gas is still cheap when new EV models begin appearing in showrooms in 2020, it will be difficult for buyers to give up their gas powered cars to go electric. Nick Bit:  Bottom line its the battery. Until they solve battery weight, longevity and range we are building a city car for a VERY limited market. Car companies like they did in their failed diesel attempt  are making a product people don’t want that has very serious inhertent flaws.

Trump ‘very surprised’ by reaction to Gold Star phone call

 Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida, criticized the President this week over his handling of his call with the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson — one of four soldiers killed in action in Niger earlier this month. Wilson, who heard the call, told CNN’s New Day earlier this week that Trump did not know Johnson’s name when he made the condolence call. But in his interview with Bartiromo, the text of which was released by Fox Business, Trump seemingly contested the congresswoman’s claim.
“And by the way, I spoke of the name of the young man and I — it was a really — it’s a very tough call,” Trump told Bartiromo. “Those are the toughest calls.” Wilson said she overheard the President tell the grieving widow that “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” But Trump said he was surprised that the phone call would have been seen by any in the family as offensive. “Look, I’ve called many people. And I would think that every one of them appreciated it,” Trump said. “I was very surprised to see this, to be honest with you.”

Italy referendums: Lombardy and Veneto vote on greater autonomy

Two of Italy’s richest northern regions are holding referendums to ask voters if they want more autonomy. Lombardy, which is home to Italy’s financial capital Milan, and the Veneto region around Venice together account for about 30% of national wealth. The governors of both regions belong to the Northern League, which has long argued that the north is subsidising the country’s poorer south. A “Yes” win is expected in both polls but the results are not binding. The central government in Rome says the polls are unnecessary although they are permitted under the Italian constitution. They contrast sharply with the crisis in Spain where one of the richest regions, Catalonia, held an referendum on independence on 1 October, despite the country’s constitutional court ruling it illegal. In response, Spain’s government plans to impose direct rule. “We remain inside the Italian nation with more autonomy while Catalonia wants to become the 29th state of the European Union. We, no. Not for now.” One of the regions’ main complaints is that they send much more in taxes to Rome than they get back in public spending, and want to roughly halve their contribution. Lombardy, Mr Maroni says, annually pays out €54bn (£48bn; $64bn) more than it receives while for Veneto, this figure is said to be about €15.5bn. “Our taxes should be spent here, not in Sicily,” Giuseppe Colonna, 84, told AFP news agency in Venice.

US-allied force takes Syria’s largest oil field from IS

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S-allied forces say they have captured Syria’s largest oil field from the Islamic State group. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who are in a race with Russian-backed Syrian government forces to seize parts of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province, said Sunday it is in full control of the Al-Omar field. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says pro-government forces have retreated from the area around the field after coming under heavy fire from IS militants. The SDF says government forces are three kilometers (two miles) away from the fields. The Islamic State group has lost most of the territory it once held in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Project Loon partners with AT&T in Puerto Rico

AT&T and a Google-born moonshot project have teamed up to beam cell service to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico from giant floating balloons.

It’s called Project Loon, and it was developed by X, a former branch of Google that became part of Alphabet (GOOG) when the company restructured. The idea is to broaden coverage using balloons that function like mobile cell towers. To bring the service to Puerto Rico, X needed a telecommunications partner in the area. That’s where AT&T came in. The companies said Friday they are “now supporting basic communication” for “some people with LTE enabled phones.” People will be able to use the “limited” Loon service to access the internet and send text messages, though the companies couldn’t say how many customers may have gained new access to coverage. The Federal Communications Commission said up to 30 balloons can fly. An X spokesperson said there’s already a “handful” of balloons in the region and more are on the way. One month after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island, more than 68% of Puerto Rico’s cell sites are still out of service, according to the FCC. (Cell sites are pieces of equipment, like cell towers, that provide coverage.) The island’s fragile infrastructure continues to impede companies, including AT&T, from restoring service to many areas of the island. So, they’ve turned to alternative technologies. But there are limitations. A spokesman for AT&T (T, Tech30) said the balloons work via solar power, so they cannot provide service at nighttime. “We’ve never deployed Project Loon connectivity from scratch at such a rapid pace,” Loon project director Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post Friday. “Project Loon is still an experimental technology and we’re not quite sure how well it will work, but we hope it helps get people the information and communication they need to get through this unimaginably difficult time.”

Putin Warns of an ‘Instant’ and ‘Symmetrical’ Response If U.S. Withdraws from Nuclear Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently warned the United States not to withdraw from their nuclear arms control treaty, noting that doing so would prompt the Kremlin to “hit back fast,” reports Reuters.

“From our side, the response will be instant, and I want to warn, symmetrical,” cautioned Putin during the high-profile televised Valdai discussion with foreign academics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on Thursday. His comments come amid allegations that the Clintons facilitated the sale of 20 percent of U.S. domestic uranium production to Russia under the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.

 

Putin accused the United States of upsetting the strategic nuclear balance by modernizing its arsenal of weapons.

Russia would develop new weapons systems, he pledged, if it was forced to, and if the United States withdrew from a landmark arms control treaty — the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty — Russia would hit back fast.

Reportedly, Putin was “visibly angry at times” as he described Russia as the victim of its relationship with the West. Reuters described Putin’s condemnation of America as “one of his most stinging critiques of U.S. foreign policy.”

“Our biggest mistake was that we trusted you too much. You interpreted our trust as weakness, and you exploited that,” proclaimed Putin, adding:

Unfortunately, our Western partners, having divided the USSR’s geopolitical legacy, were certain of their own incontestable righteousness having declared themselves the victors of the ‘Cold War.’

They started to openly interfere in the sovereign affairs of countries and to export democracy in the same way as in their time the Soviet leadership tried to export the Socialist revolution to the whole world.

Donald Trump: Without Social Media, I Might Not Be President

President Donald Trump praised social media as a necessary part of his presidency, pointing out that he probably wouldn’t be in office without it.

“I doubt I would be here if it weren’t for social media to be honest with you because there is a fake media out there, I get treated very unfairly by the media,” Trump said.

He pointed out the value of being able to send a message on Twitter and have it appear on news programs shortly after sending it. “See, I don’t call it tweets,” he continued. “Tweeting is like a typewriter when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show.” He admitted that he had friends that urged him not to use Twitter but that he felt that it was essential to his presidency. The president boasted of a “tremendous platform” on social media — which he said included at least 125 million followers. “When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing, and I take care of it,” he said, describing his use of Twitter. “The other way, I would never get the word out.”

Spain set to hold elections in Catalonia in January to settle independence debacle

 Customers rush to withdraw cash from banks which are leaving the region

The Spanish government is set to dissolve Catalonia’s parliament and hold new regional elections in January in its bid to defuse the regional government’s push for independence,  a representative for the opposition said today. Just three weeks have passed since the Catalan referendum, but the political crisis is already set to have a severe knock-on effect on the Spanish economy, with experts warning that the final bill could be up to £12billion.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will unveil the measures agreed with opposition parties, including a potential Catalan snap election, after tomorrow's cabinet meeting

  Article 155 is described as an ‘exceptional and extreme measure’ which allows the government in Madrid to suspend the rule of regional government.  Triggering it could represent a drastic escalation of Spain’s worst political crisis in decades which was sparked when Catalonia held a banned independence referendum on October 1. Already, Catalonia is feeling the effects with retail sales dropping by 20 per cent since the referendum, and travel bookings are down 15 per cent, El Pais reports.  Meanwhile, some bank customers in Catalonia  have been withdrew symbolic amounts of money to protest against financial institutions that have moved their official headquarters to other locations in Spain amid the political crisis.

 CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell, the largest Catalan lenders, are among nearly 1,000 financial institutions and businesses that have moved their official registration out of Catalonia in the past few weeks.

Two US nuclear bombers fly close to North Korea in show of force

us nuclear bombers north korea
FIREPOWER: A B-1B Lancer is a long-range strategic bomber Two South Korean F-15K fighter jets escorted the bombers as they flew west over the base, swooping just 450-500 meters above the ground at one point.
“Their altitudes were so low that they were seen well from the stands, and not only the roar, but even a little vibration was also felt that spectators gaped at them,” a defense ministry official said. The bombers entered South Korean airspace after taking

us nuclear bombers north korea

SHOW OF FORCE: The bombers flew over South Korea on Saturday as part of an air show

B-1B Lancer strategic bomber
WAR DRILL: A US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber flying with South Korean jets

The flight comes just 11 days after the US flew two B-1B bombers took part in a surprise military drill off the coast of North Korea.  A total of six military planes – including the two US B-1B bombers – took part in the show of force amid fears Kim Jong-un’s regime is gearing up to launch another nuclear missile. North Korean state media has lashed out at the “chief criminal” US for holidng provocative war drills in the region. State owned newspaper Rodong Sinmun said such “sabre rattling” could “ignite a nuclear war” in which North Korea “annihilate the US imperialist aggressor

State Department ‘Not Aware’ of Iranian Role in Iraqi Invasion of Kirkuk

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert continued efforts to tamp down the flames threatening to ignite northern Iraq in war Friday.

Since the Kurdistan Regional Government held a successful independence referendum last month against the wishes of the Iraqi national government, the administration has tried hard to avoid taking sides in what could become yet another inter-ethnic conflict in the war-torn country. Both sides in the potential conflict, the Kurds and the Shiite Arab-majority government in Baghdad, are putative American allies in the region. The task became even more difficult Friday as reports came in of violent clashes between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters north of the oil-rich, multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, in a town called Altun Kupri. “We are monitoring the situation closely, and call on all parties to cease all violence and provocative movements, and to coordinate their activities to restore calm,” Nauert said in a statement on the fighting Friday, continuing:

In order to avoid any misunderstandings or further clashes, we urge the central government to calm the situation by limiting federal forces’ movements in disputed areas to only those coordinated with the Kurdistan Regional Government. We are encouraged by Prime Minister Abadi’s instructions to federal forces to protect Iraqi Kurdish citizens and to not provoke conflict.

Although the Kurds have yet to formally declare independence, the referendum was enough for Baghdad to send the army to take Kirkuk from the Kurds this week after issuing an ultimatum demanding Kurdish Peshmerga forces evacuate the city. Kirkuk – home to Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen – falls in territory that has been disputed for decades and came under the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Regional Government after the Kurds drove out the Islamic State in 2014. The Iraqi army fled upon the arrival of ISIS. The statement made no mention of the involvement of Shiite militia groups, broadly tied to Iran, in the fighting. Friday’s reporting from the front lines again made reference to the presence of these Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters. Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ vaunted Quds Force special operations group, is rumored to be on the scene directing these sectarian paramilitaries.

Trump, ‘King of Debt,’ makes GOP fret

  • “I’m the king of debt. I love debt,” Trump said
  • GOP lawmakers are struggling to enact an agenda of spending and tax reform
 (CNN)As a New York businessman, Donald Trump proudly referred to himself as the “King of Debt” — he thrived on taking financial risks and routinely leveraged debt to grow his family empire. “I’m the king of debt. I love debt,” Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in May 2016 at the height of the campaign — blunt and telling comments that revealed just how comfortable the real estate mogul was in using debt as a financial tool.
But now, the mindset behind that nickname is aggravating some of the President’s Republican colleagues in Washington.
Senate approves budget kick-starting GOP tax reform effort

Senate approves budget kick-starting GOP tax reform effort
As GOP lawmakers are struggling to enact an agenda of spending and tax reform, they continue to face the painful reminder that Trump has no ideological drive to tame the deficit. The President has made clear that he doesn’t mind if deep tax cuts result in a ballooning of the national debt. He is not pre-occupied with offsetting new spending; and he is entirely comfortable with a clean raising of the debt ceiling.
Trump’s statements have also raised questions about his understanding of the national debt. In a recent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump suggested that gains in the stock market have led to a reduction in the national debt. “We picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market,” he said. “So you can say in one sense, we are really increasing values and may be in a sense, we are reducing debt.” And the coming days are about to present the most extended test of Trump’s fiscal instincts. With the passage of the budget resolution Thursday night, Republicans will now squarely turn their attention to tax reform.    Trump’s long-held view that debt, above all else, is a useful tool to strike deals and turn profits has clearly shaped his policy positions as president.
The first clear sign of this came last month, when to the surprise of his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill, Trump abruptly announced a deal with Democratic leaders in part to raise the debt ceiling for three months. There was no discussion about spending cuts to offset the hike.    The sudden agreement caught even some of Trump’s top aides by surprise. It was particularly awkward for Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, the former GOP congressman who had famously railed against clean debt hikes.
 And now, as he desperately looks to score a legislative victory before the end of the year, Trump is pledging “the largest tax cut in the history of our country” — again, without batting an eye at the reality that such steep cuts would grow the national debt.
Trump’s seeming lack of interest in trying to keep the deficit in check has exasperated — and alarmed — some conservatives. Nick Bit: these ha ha ha tax cuts are a joke. Tax breaks for billionaires are  the biggest Budget Buster ever. I am gravely concerned that the tax bonanza for billionaires. They  will not do squat for the  going broke middle class. And this largesse to the wealthiest people on the planet will add 7 Trillion Dollars to the 20 Trillion Dollar  budget deficit. The US economy does not need stimulation it is grossly over stimulated already. Corporations will not add jobs or capacity. A decade of over stimulation and a record breaking corporate debt orgy has produced excess in EVERY category.

Spain acts to sack Catalonia’s government, take control of the region

The Spanish government has revealed plans to remove the leaders of Catalonia and to take control of the region until early elections can be held, as it tries to stifle a push for Catalan independence. The move, which needs to be approved by lawmakers, would grant Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unprecedented powers in his bid to halt Catalan authorities from declaring a split from Spain. Rajoy said Saturday the government wants to dismiss the Catalan president and his cabinet “in order to protect the general interest.” The powers of those officials will be assumed by ministers in central government until new regional elections can be held, hopefully within six months. That would let central government take temporary control of bodies such as Catalonia’s police, as well as its health and education systems, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Security, public order and financial management are key focuses of the measures, the report said.

“The government has had to apply Article 155 of the constitution,” Rajoy said. “It was not our wish, it was not our intention — it never was. And I think public opinion knows that.”

Earlier Saturday, Rajoy held an extraordinary cabinet meeting to decide the measures that may be taken the next few weeks to enact Article 155 of the federal constitution against Catalonia. The meeting was scheduled after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont refused to heed the government’s warning to back down on Catalonia’s push for independence.

Ministers were expected to set the wheels in motion to suspend the autonomy of the wealthy northeastern region, a move not undertaken in the country’s last 42 years of modern democracy. However, Rajoy said the plan did not do that.

“Autonomy and self-government are not being suspended. This puts a stop to people operating on the margins of the law. It restores legality,” Rajoy said.

Wells Fargo reportedly fires foreign exchange execs amid investigations

A protester outside a Wells Fargo branch in New York City.
Erik McGregor | Pacific Press | LightRocket | Getty Images A protester outside a Wells Fargo branch in New York City
Wells Fargo fired four foreign-exchange executives amid an investigation into that business both internally and from regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter. Wells Fargo confirmed the departures to the Journal and CNBC. The executive firings and investigation into the investment-banking division would add to Wells Fargo’s existing struggle with scandal in its consumer banking business.

The bank paid $185 million in penalties after it was revealed last year that employees opened millions of unauthorized consumer deposit and credit card accounts for years in order to meet aggressive sales goals, a practice the bank said it has since ended. In August, the bank said an expanded third-party review identified about 3.5 million such accounts and that Wells Fargo has now paid millions in total customer refunds or payments. In late July, news broke that hundreds of thousands of Wells Fargo customers were charged for auto insurance they did not need. This week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency sent a confidential preliminary report to Wells Fargo that criticized the bank for the auto insurance sales practices and how it handled the problem, The New York Times reported Friday.The OCC report also said Wells Fargo may need to refund customers more than the $80 million the bank has set aside for payouts, the Times said. A person familiar with the matter told the Journal the same thing.

Dr. Doom’, Marc Faber, removed from more boards after comments on race

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Marc Faber, the markets prognosticator known as “Dr. Doom,” has been dismissed from three more company boards after comments in his latest newsletter this week suggested the United States had only prospered because it was settled by white people. U.S-based Sunshine Silver Mining Corp, Vietnam Growth Fund managed by Dragon Capital, and Indochina Capital Corporation, had all dismissed him, Faber told Reuters on Friday, Faber has now been fired from six boards with Canadian fund manager Sprott Inc (SII.TO), NovaGold Resources Inc (NG.TO) and Ivanhoe Mines Ltd (IVN.TO) letting him go on Tuesday after his remarks went viral on social media platform Twitter. In the October edition of his newsletter, “The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” in a section discussing capitalism versus socialism, Faber criticized the move to tear down monuments commemorating the U.S. Civil War military leaders of the Confederacy. “Thank God white people populated America, not the blacks,” Faber wrote in his newsletter. “Otherwise, the U.S. would look like Zimbabwe, which it might look like one day anyway, but at least America enjoyed 200 years in the economic and political sun under a white majority.” “I am not a racist,” Faber continued, “but the reality – no matter how politically incorrect – needs to be spelled out as well.” Faber, a Swiss investor based in Thailand, who oversees $300 million in assets, said he has not lost any client money, and still stands by his comments and will keep publishing his newsletter. ”My clients all know me for more than 30 years. They know that to call me a racist is inappropriate,” he said. Faber said he has not seen a significant amount of subscribers cancel their subscriptions to his newsletter as a result of the controversy. “No, I think most people actually agree with me and certainly defend freedom of expression even if it does not coincide with their views.” On his board dismissals, Faber said: “If saying what I said leads to these consequences, I prefer not to be on these boards. I think the corporate world is now run by compliance people. In this context, I understand their firing me.” Business television networks such as CNBC and Fox Business said they would remove Faber from booking lists for their shows, and a Dow Jones spokesperson on Friday said Faber has not been involved in the Barron’s Roundtable since 2015.

Nick Bit: So sad! Years ago i decided to do my part to tell what i know to a select audience. I developed the Pure hands approach NO advertising, NO endorsements, NO  corporate boards, NO OPM’s as in touching other peoples money. this guaranteed my independence. IF your on the board of a silver mine its kinda hard to recommend a silver short.

CIA chief: North Korea ‘on cusp’ of nuclear capability

CIA director Mike Pompeo has warned that North Korea is on the cusp of being able to hit the US with a nuclear missile. He stressed Washington still preferred diplomacy and sanctions but said military force remained an option. North Korea claims it already has the capability to strike the US. North Korea is “close enough now in their capabilities that from a US policy perspective we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective,” Mr Pompeo said at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington think tank, on Thursday. “They are so far along in that, it’s now a matter of thinking about how do you stop the final step.” He warned Pyongyang’s missile expertise was now advancing so quickly that it was hard for US intelligence to be sure when it would succeed. “When you’re now talking about months our capacity to understand that at a detailed level is in some sense irrelevant,” Last weekend, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had also insisted President Donald Trump wanted to resolve the confrontation with North Korea through diplomacy. His statement had come after Mr Trump had publicly told him not to waste time seeking talks with Kim Jong-un.

Elon Musk gets OK to start digging in early step toward hyperloop dream

Maryland has given transportation pioneer Elon Musk permission to dig tunnels for the high-speed, underground transit system known as a hyperloop that Musk wants to build between New York and Washington. Representatives of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday the state has issued a conditional utility permit to let Musk’s tunneling firm, the Boring Co., dig a 10.3-mile tunnel beneath the state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, between the Baltimore city line and state Highway 175 in Hanover. It would be the first portion of the underground system that Musk says could eventually ferry passengers from Washington to New York, with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia, in just 29 minutes. Maryland’s approval is the first step of many needed to complete the multibillion-dollar project. Hogan toured a site in Hanover that aides said could become an entry point for the hyperloop. The state does not plan to contribute to the cost of the project, aides said. Hogan said on Facebook he was “incredibly excited” to support the project proposed by Musk, founder of the electric car company Tesla and the rocket firm SpaceX.

“This thing is real. It’s exciting to see,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said. “The word ‘transformational’ may be overused, but this is a technology that leapfrogs any technology that is out there today. And it’s going to be here.” The Boring Co. thanked officials for their support and declined to comment further. The Boring Co. aims to reduce traffic congestion by creating a low-cost, efficient system of tunnels. The company has developed tunneling machines it says will drill quickly through soft soils at a fraction of the cost of traditional tunneling. The hyperloop technology uses electric motors and magnets to transport train cars through a low-pressure tube. Rahn, the transportation secretary, said the Boring Co. will start with two 35-mile tubes between Baltimore and Washington.

Air Force could recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to address serious shortage

The Air Force’s ranks grew during the 2016 fiscal year, so why is there still a shortage of pilots. The Air Force is currently 1,500 pilots short of the 20,300 it is mandated to have. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed an executive order Friday allowing the Air Force to recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active duty to address a shortage in combat fliers, the White House and Pentagon announced. By law, only 25 retired officers can be brought back to serve in any one branch. Trump’s order removes those caps by expanding a state of national emergency declared by President George W. Bush after 9/11, signaling what could be a significant escalation in the 16-year-old global war on terror. “We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years,” Navy Cdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.  But the executive order itself is not specific to the Air Force, and could conceivably be used in the future to call up more officers and in other branches. The Air Force needs about 1,500 pilots more than it has. Bonus programs and other incentives have not made up the shortfall. The Air Force has been at the forefront of the Pentagon’s battle against the Islamic State, flying most of the combat sorties in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

In June, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., labeled the pilot shortage a crisis that would prevent the Air Force from fulfilling its mission. 

“This is a full-blown crisis, and if left unresolved, it will call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission,” said McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.  President Trump became the third president to renew the post-9/11 state of national emergency, which allows the president to call up the national guard, hire and fire officers and delay retirements. Those extraordinary powers were supposed to be temporary. But even after 16 years, there’s been no congressional oversight of the emergency.

GOP Congress Presides Over Highest Spending Since Obama’s Stimulus

(CNSNews.com) – Real federal spending in fiscal 2017, which ended on Sept. 30, was higher than in any year in the history of the United States other than fiscal 2009, which was the year that President Barack Obama’s $840 billion stimulus law was enacted. Fiscal 2017 also saw the second highest real federal individual income tax totals of any year in U.S. history, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today. Total federal tax revenues were the third highest in U.S. history.

While it was collecting the third highest total tax revenues in U.S. history, the federal government ran a deficit $665,712,000,000 because of its high total spending. Republicans have controlled the House of Representatives since 2011, after winning a majority of seats in the 2010 election. They have controlled the Senate since 2015, after winning a majority in the 2014 election. In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, a Congress in which the Republican Party controls both houses was responsible for enacting all federal spending legislation. Total federal spending in fiscal 2017, according to the Treasury, was $3,980,605,000,000. Total federal tax revenue was $3,314,893,000,000. Prior to this year, the highest level of real federal spending was the $4,024,794,600,000 in constant 2017 dollars (adjusted using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator) that the Treasury spent in fiscal 2009. In the years after 2009, real federal spenpding hit its lowest level ($3,633,572,490,000 in constant 2017 dollars) in fiscal 2014. In fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017 federal spending has been on the rise again—reaching $3,980,605,000,000 this year, the second highest spending level in the nation’s history.

On the tax side, federal individual income taxes hit their all-time peak in fiscal 2015, when the Treasury took in $1,598,265,180,000 in constant 2017 dollars in individual income taxes.

In fiscal 2016, individual income tax collections dropped to $1,580,598,300,000 in 2017 dollars.

Then, in fiscal 2017, individual income tax collections climbed back up to $1,587,119,000,000, the second largest sum in individual income taxes the federal government has ever collected. Total federal tax revenue also peaked in 2015 at $3,369,881,960,000 in 2017 dollars. It then dropped to $3,339,631,960,000 in fiscal 2016, and dropped again to $3,314,894,000,000 in fiscal 2017.

Ending Iran nuclear deal would worsen North Korea situation: Kerry

 GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump risks driving Iran toward nuclear proliferation and worsening a standoff with North Korea if Washington ends a nuclear deal with Iran, former Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday.

Kerry, who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, was speaking a week after Trump refused to certify that Tehran was in compliance, amid growing tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. “If you want to negotiate with (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un, and your goal is to avoid war and try to be able to have a diplomatic resolution, the worst thing you can do is first threaten to destroy his country in the United Nations,” Kerry said. “And secondly, screw around with the deal that has already been made because the message is don’t make a deal with the United States, they won’t keep their word,” he said. The nuclear deal places Iran under tough restraints, including round-the-clock surveillance and tracking every ounce of uranium produced, Kerry said. “We would notice an uptick in their enrichment, like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “And nobody that I know of with common sense can understand what the virtue is in accelerating a confrontation with the possibility that they might decide they want to break out and make it (a nuclear bomb) now instead of 10 or 15 or 25 years from now,” he said. If Iran violated the accord, U.N. sanctions would snap back into place, Kerry said. “Moreover, at that point in time folks, we have a year of break-up. We have all the time that we need in the world to be able to bomb their facilities into submission.” Ending the deal could lead to Iran hiding fissile production facilities “deep in a mountain where we have no insight”. “So the scenario that Trump opens up by saying ‘let’s get rid of the deal’ is actually proliferation, far more damaging and dangerous,” Kerry said. On Trump’s public undermining of his successor as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Kerry said it was “unprecedented and very, very unproductive, even counter-productive”.

Mexican auto lobby rejects U.S. NAFTA proposal on rules of origin

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican Auto Industry Association (AMIA) on Thursday rejected U.S. proposals to increase North American content for autos produced in the region and require, under a new NAFTA deal, that half of all content come from the United States. AMIA President Eduardo Solis said the rules of origin enshrined in the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been key in creating value and integrating the auto industries of Canada, the United States and Mexico. “Our position is to not touch the methodology or the rules of origin that have allowed this sector to be successful in the three countries,” Solis said at an event in Mexico City. Under NAFTA, at least 62.5 percent of the material in a car or light truck made in the region must be from North America to be able to enter the marketplace tariff-free. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed raising the amount of NAFTA content in autos to 85 percent and securing 50 percent of the total for the United States. Those demands to reserve the lion’s share of automotive manufacturing for the United States helped cast a pall over a fourth round of talks to revamp the 23-year-old accord underpinning $1.2 trillion in annual trilateral trade. Solis called the U.S. proposal for country-specific content rules unacceptable, saying it violated World Trade Organization rules. Global automakers including General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) all have plants in low-cost Mexico.

Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer launches Trump impeachment campaign

Billionaire investor and Democratic backer Tom Steyer has launched a national campaign calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, only nine months into the president’s term. Steyer started the “Need to Impeach” initiative on Friday with an ad calling on Americans to urge their members of Congress to vote the president out of office. In a statement, the organization said it would launch an “eight-figure” television ad purchase and a “seven-figure” digital buy.

Steyer in a video called Trump “a clear and present danger who is mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons.” He accuses the president of taking the U.S. “to the brink of nuclear war” and obstructing justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey, among other charges. The former hedge-fund manager is funding the impeachment campaign, according to its website.

A White House spokeswoman and a spokesman for Steyer’s initiative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Steyer, 60, founded the hedge fund Farallon Capital before retiring in 2012. He then launched NextGen America, a political organization that supports liberal positions on climate change, immigration and health care, among other issues. Steyer has funneled millions of dollars into Democratic candidates and causes. Trump’s impeachment appears highly unlikely currently. His Republican Party controls both chambers of Congress. Even Democratic congressional leaders have shown no interest in impeaching Trump yet. In a letter earlier this month, Steyer urged Democratic lawmakers and candidates to support Trump’s impeachment.

Hedge-fund assets hit record, even as fund closures continue to outpace launches

The hedge-fund industry, while still struggling with performance and fund closures, appears to be turning a quarter after a horrendous 2016. Hedge-fund assets hit a record $3.15 trillion in the third quarter, according to data from Hedge Fund Research, the fifth straight quarterly record, and up $50 billion from the second quarter.  While some of the asset growth was due to the broad market rally that is lifting security prices — the S&P 500 SPX, +0.03%  rose 4% over the third quarter — investors have also been trickling back into the investment vehicle, which has struggled for years amid a broad shift to passive vehicles. Such investments are both significantly cheaper than hedge funds and have long boasted superior performance amid the multiyear bull market, a trend that persists. There were net inflows of $1.7 billion in the third quarter, which represented a slowing from the prior quarter, when $6.7 billion flowed into hedge funds, snapping a six-quarter streak of outflows. In a press release, HFR noted that “though the year-to-date inflow total of $2.5 billion remains muted, it represents a sharp reversal from the $70 billion of investor outflows in 2016.” 2016 was a rough year for the industry even outside of the investor retreat. More than 1,000 hedge funds shut down last year, the most in any year since 2008, during the worst of the financial crisis. That occurred despite a generally positive market backdrop; the S&P 500 rose 9.5% over 2016. Thus far this year (through the second quarter, the most recent date for which HFR has data available), 481 hedge funds have shut down, compared with the 369 that have been launched. 2017 is on track to be the third straight year that the number of liquidations have outpaced the number of funds coming to market. Currently, there are 9,730 hedge funds on the market, compared with 9,691 in the second quarter.

CIA’s Pompeo asserts Russian meddling did not sway U.S. election result

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday said, apparently inaccurately, that U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Russian interference did not affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies in January said that they had made no assessment one way or the other on the impact of Moscow’s hacking and propaganda campaign but its report stated that Russia’s aim was to try and help then-Republican candidate Donald Trump’s election chances.

Pompeo, a former Republican congressman and Trump ally, was asked at an event in Washington if he could say with absolute certainty that the election results were not skewed as a result of Russian interference. Pompeo replied: “Yes. Intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.”

The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, criticized Pompeo for his remark.

“I was deeply disappointed to learn that CIA Director Pompeo today asserted that the intelligence community had found that Russian interference in our election did not affect the outcome. In fact, the Intelligence community made no such finding, nor could it,” Schiff said in a statement that noted the January assessment. “This is not the first time the Director has made statements minimizing the significance of what the Russians did, but it needs to be the last,” Schiff said. The agency later issued a statement that appeared to walk back Pompeo’s remark.

“The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed, and the Director did not intend to suggest that it had,” said Dean Boyd, the director of the CIA’s office of public affairs.

Russia has repeatedly denied U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow meddled in the election and Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Russian officials. Committees in both the U.S. Senate and the House are investigating as is a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller. The probes have cast a shadow over Trump’s presidency, especially after Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey was fired by Trump in May.

In an interview with NBC after Comey’s removal, Trump admitted that he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey.

Goldman downgrades Nike due to ‘excess inventory’ at retailers; shares fall

A KAWS x Air Jordan IV buyer looks at the shoe at a store on March 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
Getty Images A KAWS x Air Jordan IV buyer looks at the shoe at a store on March 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

The lackluster year for Nike shareholders isn’t going to turnaround anytime soon, according to Goldman Sachs. The firm lowered its rating for Nike shares to neutral from buy, citing an intense promotional environment for the company’s products. “The drivers of domestic pressure will take some time to work through, exacerbated by persistent excess inventory sitting at Nike’s brick and mortar retail partners and the high visibility this markdown product gets as it is funneled online via amazon.com and other platforms,” analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “Near-term dynamics are challenging … with an inventory overhang in the US hampering Nike’s ability to ‘reset’ the market.” Nike shares have underperformed the market year to date with its shares up 3 percent through Wednesday, compared with the S&P 500’s 14 percent return. Drucker Mann noted that Nike’s North American sales growth has deteriorated in the past year from 6 percent in fiscal first-quarter 2017 to a 3 percent decline in the most recent fiscal first-quarter 2018. She said sales trends in Asia are also getting worse. “International has been a critical growth engine, driving about half of Nike’s revenue growth over the last decade, and with substantial opportunity ahead,” she wrote. “Nike’s business has cooled in key regions, with signs of deceleration in China giving us particular pause.”

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

The massive Saudi Aramco IPO doesn’t look like a great investment to many

Oil giant Saudi Aramco is readying what’s set to be the biggest initial public offering ever. But as it turns out, investors might not be all that interested. In fact, fund managers told CNBC that the Saudi energy behemoth — the valuation of which has seen estimates from $1 trillion to $2 trillion — comes up short for all three basic tests investors apply to potential IPO investments: growth, an attractive dividend and solid corporate governance. The initial signals don’t look positive. Even portfolio managers with a reasonably bullish view on the price of oil are thinking twice about buying into Aramco because of uncertainty about the true extent of the company’s — and effectively the Kingdom’s — oil reserves.

“That’s going to be the biggest hurdle. What are we buying?” said Kunal Ghosh, portfolio manager of global emerging markets at Allianz Global Investors who manages $2.1 billion. “For the last 100 years there’s never been a published number that’s validated. My enthusiasm for the IPO is very low.”

Though Ghosh said he believed a higher price environment for oil may support the valuation during the initial stages when Aramco does come to market, the perceived lack of transparency over reserves and what’s seen as weak corporate governance stemming from decades of state control represent longer-term structural hurdles for many investors. Offering only 5 percent of the company “means investors are a very small minority and minority rights might be subordinated to national interests,” said Bryan Goh, chief investment officer at private bank Bordier & Cie in Singapore. “Aramco is not just an oil and gas company, it’s the sovereign wealth fund and economic and social development fund of Saudi Arabia. We can’t be confident that the company will be managed from a purely commercial perspective.”

Saudi oil minister on Aramco IPO

Beyond questions of corporate priorities, many fund managers are also concerned that Aramco’s business model simply won’t stand up over the longer term as the rise of renewable energy undermines the future growth prospects for traditional oil and gas producers.Thomas Hugger, founder and CEO of fund manager Asia Frontier Capital, added: “We are not really bullish on the oil price due to the strong push by China to reduce the air pollution. However, each investment has its price and if the valuation is very attractive (which I doubt) it could be worth an investment.”

Abandoned by Trump and Cornered by Iran, Kurds Sign Oil Deal with Russia

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq announced it had signed a deal with the Russian state-owned oil corporation Rosneft that would allow the company to begin developing oil blocks worth a potential $400 million to the Kurds.

The announcement follows a turbulent week for the KRG, as the Iran-backed government in Baghdad launched an invasion into its territory and wrested Kirkuk, an oil-rich province, out of the Kurds’ hands. Iraqi officials claim the invasion was necessary following the KRG’s decision to hold a non-binding referendum asking its citizens whether they would support a path to independence from Iraq. While many experts cite the Kurdish Peshmerga as the most effective ally of the United States against the Islamic State on the ground in Iraq.

Trump administration has refused to support the Kurds against the Iran-backed Shiite militias that have stormed Kirkuk, with President Donald Trump himself stating, “We’re not taking sides.”

Bloomberg reports that the Rosneft deal will allow the Russian oil company to develop five oil blocks in Kurdistan. The contract would give “Rosneft 80 percent of the projects, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Rosneft may pay a fee of as much as $400 million, half of which could be repaid in oil pumped from the deposits.”“The new agreements will allow us to talk about full-fledged entry of the company in one of the most promising regions,” Bloomberg quotes a statement from Rosneft as stating. The oil company statement estimated that the blocks in question would be complete by 2021, suggesting that the company expects to remain a long-term presence in the region despite the current stability, and expects the KRG to remain in control of the locations of those blocks throughout the process and not lose them to the Iraqi government.

Trump gave the Kurd’s hope for his support when during the campaign, he praised their fighters’ skill and loyalty and called for them to be armed. ”I‘m a big fan of the Kurdish forces,” he said in July.

Nick Bit: Candidate Trump promised the Kurd’s he would support them. Now he has thrown them to the wolves….. So whats else is new!

Continue reading “Abandoned by Trump and Cornered by Iran, Kurds Sign Oil Deal with Russia”

Trump’s Renoir painting is not real, Chicago museum says

Image copyright Art Institute of Chicago
Image caption Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Two Sisters (On The Terrace)

A US museum says an Impressionist painting which President Donald Trump reportedly claims to own is a fake. In a recent interview, Trump biographer Tim O’Brien said he was once told by the future president that his artwork was an original. But the Chicago Institute of Art says the real painting, Two Sisters (On The Terrace) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, has hung in its gallery for 80 years. A museum spokesperson said it is “satisfied that our version is real”. The painting was gifted to the institute in 1933, spokeswoman Amanda Hicks told the Chicago Tribune. The donor acquired it for $100,000 (£76,000) from an art dealer who bought it directly from the French Impressionist painter in 1881, she added. But O’Brien said during a recent interview with Vanity Fair’s Hive podcast that Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed to him that his version of the painting was authentic. During a flight on Mr Trump’s private jet while he was writing his 2005 book, TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, O’Brien said he spotted the painting and asked about it.

“You know, that’s an original Renoir,” the author said Mr Trump had told him, adding that the property tycoon repeated the claim the following day.

“Donald, it’s not,” he recalled telling Trump. “I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called Two Sisters on the Terrace, and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“That’s not an original.” The artwork was later apparently moved to Trump Tower, the author said, saying it was visible in the background of a CBS 60 Minutes interview that Mr Trump gave shortly after his election. “I’m sure he’s still telling people who come into the apartment, ‘It’s an original, it’s an original,'” O’Brien said on the podcast.

Mr Trump sued O’Brien for $5bn because the author wrote in TrumpNation that rather than being a billionaire, his net worth was actually as low as $150m. The defamation lawsuit was dismissed.

Nick Bit: Please observe the counterfeit picture  at Trump tower in the background. Its as Phony as Melania’s breasts.

“Melania could be the first first lady with breast implants,” notes Dr. Franklin Rose, a Houston plastic surgeon. “And they seem very generous — especially for such a skinny person!” Her apparent DD cups that runneth over, Her apparent surgery ($15K) seems to have been done before 1999, says Dr. Rose. “They’re very generous! The common implant size is 275 cc to 325 cc. But these look to be about 450 cc.”

Looks like a Perfect Puerto Rico kind-of 10 to me. I prefer natural breasts. And i think she was prettier before she became man made!

Trump gives Puerto Rico response a ‘10’ as most of island remains without power

 ‘Did we do a great job?’ Trump asks governor
Getty Images President Donald Trump asked Gov. Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico if the federal hurricane response effort had been ‘great.’

President Donald Trump gave the federal response to hurricane-battered Puerto Rico a “10” on Thursday, but by several measures the island is operating at much lower than a perfect score.

“I’d say it was a 10,” Trump told reporters at the White House after being asked how he’d rate the government’s aid efforts. He was meeting with Gov. Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office. The governor said Trump “has been clear that no U.S. citizen will be left behind.”

The meeting with Rossello came as the island struggles to recover from hurricanes Maria and Irma. According to the U.S. territory’s government, just 22% of electric power has been restored, while about 72% of water has been restored. Phone services are at 61%.

Trump has been criticized by Democrats who have charged that the federal response has been slow. Trump said “it’s a tough job — but we have provided so much, so fast.”

Trump asked Rossello, “Did we do a great job?” The governor replied: “You responded immediately, sir.”

Trump also said he wants to make sure that new loans to the island are “protected,” and suggested he wants them repaid before repayment of existing debt. Puerto Rico was already struggling with a debt crisis before the hurricanes hit. It owes creditors more than $70 billion after more than a decade of economic decline and expanding deficits. Nick Bit: A perfect 10? what is this shit? no electrify for most people…… Little water.  and President Bullshit artist cornholes the Governor of the devastated island for a PR stunt declaring a perfect 10. This is discussing. This is more like Catrina II.

George W. Bush Emerges to Bash Trump, ‘Nativism’: ‘We Cannot Wish Globalism Away’

The former president defended the ideas of globalism, free trade, and free markets as well as foreign interventionism around the world in a speech at the George W. Bush Institute. “We cannot wish globalism away,” Bush said, noting that the United States must sustain “wise and sustained global engagement” for the future of the country.

Bush indirectly accused Trump of fueling dangerous ideologies that threatened the unity of the United States and global stability, spending a large portion of his speech complaining about social ills in the country.

“We’ve seen a return of isolationist sentiments forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places,” he warned. Bush urged Americans to “recover our own identity,” citing a commitment to global engagement, free and international trade, and immigration. “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, and forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America,” he lamented. “Bigotry seems emboldened, our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” he said. “There are some signs that support for democracy itself has waned especially for the young.” But Bush’s criticism wasn’t merely on Trump’s “America First” political ideology. He also criticized the tone of the American political system led by Trump. “We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty,” he lamented, noting that “argument turns too easily into animosity” and “disagreement escalates into dehumanization.” He criticized the rise of “bullying and prejudice” in national politics, suggesting that the country lacked positive role models. The former president looped in a condemnation of white supremacy as part of his speech, suggesting that it was a growing threat in Trump’s America. “Bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed,” he said. He called for a restoration of American norms in society. “Our identity as a nation, unlike many other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood,” he said. “Being American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility.”

Bush’s decision to publicly criticize Trump’s presidency is unusual after he made a point of rarely challenging President Barack Obama while he was in office.

Senate backs GOP budget in step forward for tax revamp

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Thursday muscled a $4 trillion budget through the Senate in a major step forward for President Donald Trump’s ambitious promise of “massive tax cuts and reform.” The 51-49 vote sets the stage for debate later this year to dramatically overhaul the U.S. tax code for the first time in three decades, cutting rates for individuals and corporations while eliminating trillions of dollars of deductions and special interest tax breaks.   The upcoming tax measure, always a top item on the GOP agenda, has taken on even greater urgency with the failure of the party to carry out its longstanding promise to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Republicans have said failure on taxes would be politically devastating in next year’s midterm elections, when control of the House and Senate are at stake. The House measure calls for a tax plan that wouldn’t add to the deficit, as well as $200 billion worth of cuts to benefit programs that the Senate has rejected.

Democrats blasted the GOP budget, warning voters that the upcoming tax measure will shower benefits on top-bracket earners, corporations, business partnerships and people inheriting multimillion-dollar estates.

Trump promises that the tax plan — still under development — is aimed at the middle class, but previous versions have seen upper-income individuals benefiting the most.

“The bottom line on this budget is that it’s a right-wing fantasy document that paves the way for a hyper-partisan process on tax reform and trillions of dollars in handouts to big corporations and the wealthy,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the tax-writing Finance Committee.

“The more people learn about this tax bill, the less they will like it,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “That’s what led to the demise of health care, ultimately, is that it was unpopular with the American people.”

Rural America wants jobs, while urban dwellers are ready for raises, Google searches show

Silvia Ascarelli/MarketWatch

The job market is roaring to highs not seen in decades, according to economic data that shows improvement week after week. But the national numbers mask stark regional divides, according to an analysis out Thursday. Jessica Rabe, co-founder of DataTrek Research, analyzed data from Google Trends, a tracker of what people all over the world are searching for. That tool offers what Rabe calls “a novel take on a two-speed job market.” The two speeds, of course, are urban and rural. The most search interest in “job openings” comes from southern or midwestern states like Mississippi, North Dakota, and Iowa, Rabe wrote, while the strongest interest in “jobs” comes from rural states like Virginia, New Mexico, and Alaska. In contrast, the search term “ask for a raise” comes more from people in states like California, New York, Illinois, and Texas. “Our takeaway,” Rabe wrote, is that “workers in large urban areas (who are statistically more likely to have a college degree) are asking for raises, while people in more rural areas are still searching for jobs.” Rabe suggests this explainer on educational attainment of rural Americans, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes “has not kept pace with urban gains.” It’s worth noting that trying to analyze complex economic shifts at the state level is often not much more granular than looking at the national picture. According to the Labor Department, in August many of the rural states Rabe mentioned had jobless rates well below some of the states where people felt confident enough to be asking for raises, not jobs.

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Senator McCain suggests subpoena to make White House cyber aide testify

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator John McCain suggested on Thursday that the Senate Armed Services Committee, the powerful congressional panel he chairs, may consider issuing a subpoena to make the White House’s top cyber security official testify. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks to reporters as he arrives for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 18, 2017.

White House cyber security coordinator Rob Joyce did not appear before the committee on Thursday, as requested, to discuss cyber threats facing the United States. His vacant seat drew frustration from lawmakers in both parties.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat on the panel, urged McCain to consider a subpoena to compel Joyce to appear. “I think that needs to be discussed in committee,” McCain said. In a statement, a White House spokesman said it has been “longstanding practice” of presidents of both parties to not make White House advisers available for congressional testimony. “This practice is rooted in the separation of powers and in the confidentiality interests of the executive branch,” the spokesman said. “Officials from relevant departments and agencies are available to accommodate the committee’s legitimate oversight needs without violating the confidentiality interests that attach to White House staff.”

McCain countered, however, that the absence was a “misinterpretation” of the president’s executive authority to have private counsel. Nick Bit: Day by day step by step the end of Trump comes

Several other senators expressed frustration at Joyce’s absence.

“The empty chair is outrageous,” Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said. “I am disgusted there is not a representative here.”

Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein just threw some serious Brexit shade

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs.

The CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, took to Twitter Thursday to offer fulsome praise of the German city of Frankfurt as a great place to do business.

In the tweet, Blankfein said: “Just left Frankfurt. Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it. Good, because I’ll be spending a lot more time there.”

Just in case anyone missed the point, Blankfein ended the tweet with “#Brexit”.

Germany’s Frankfurt and Paris, France, have both pushed themselves hard as a replacement location for London-based firms in the financial industry worried about the effect of Britain leaving the European Union. In June, Goldman Sachs said it would “very probably” at least double its headcount in Frankfurt, where it currently employs 200 people.

US clout in world oil market grows as exports increase

For two separate weeks recently, the U.S. exported as much oil onto the world market each day as was being pumped in either Nigeria or Venezuela and by several other OPEC countries together. Those roughly 1.9 million barrels a day are not a minor splash for the global oil market, and they are the equivalent of about one-fifth of U.S. daily oil production. The extra barrels, about a million more a day than the U.S. exported in the first half of this year, may have been an anomaly due to Hurricane Harvey’s impact several weeks earlier. But they are also a sign of things to come — an even bigger U.S. presence on the world market and an increasing role for U.S. shale as a lever on world oil prices.  That influence is also expected to grow, as U.S. oil production increases and the U.S. is able to send a larger and larger amount of oil and gas production outside its borders. Analysts expect production will soon surpass the all-time high of 10 million barrels a day

 

By some measures, the U.S. has already become the biggest energy producer. It certainly is the largest producer of natural gas and has increasingly become a bigger exporter, both by pipeline and liquefied natural gas shipments. But it still relies on a large amount of oil imports from Canada and elsewhere. “On the oil side if we look at crude oil we’re producing 9.6 million barrels a day. We expect next year to be at 10.6 million or higher. That would be about even with Saudi Arabia,” said Morse. “The thing about the U.S. is we have several other things that go into production numbers. We have natural gas liquids. We are the biggest natural gas liquid producer in the world, and we have biofuels. … If you add the bio fuels, natural gas liquids and refinery efficiency gains, it’s closer to 15 million barrels a day.”