Kentucky Politician Files Lawsuit Claiming a First Amendment Right to Accept Bribes

It’s a rare and precious moment when a politician does something which perfeclty demonstrates what he or she really thinks about democracy and power. This is one of those times.
From the Intercept:
The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts in elections. Now politicians in Kentucky are claiming they have a Constitutional right to receive gifts from lobbyists.
In a lawsuit filed in U. S. District Court, Republican Kentucky state Sen. John Schickel, along with two Libertarian political candidates, are suing to overturn state ethics laws, claiming that the campaign contribution limit of $1,000 and a ban on gifts from lobbyists and their employers are a violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Sep 25, 2015.

Divided European leaders meet to devise plan to tackle refugee crisis

European heads of government are meeting in Brussels to try to hatch a common plan on refugees following months of recriminations and amid a sense of spiralling momentum of which the leaders have lost control.
The emergency E.U. summit on Wednesday pitted the governments of central Europe against Germany and France after Berlin and Paris forced a new system of imposed refugee quotas on a recalcitrant east on Tuesday. There was talk of boycotts and threats to take the issue to court from the Czechs and Slovaks who were outvoted on Tuesday, while the E.U.’s most robust anti-immigration hardliner, Viktor Orban of Hungary, warned Chancellor Angela Merkel against any ‘moral imperialism’ at the summit.
‘We have reached a critical point where we need to end the cycle of mutual recriminations and misunderstandings,’ said Donald Tusk, the president of the European council who chaired the summit. ‘Our debate must be based on facts, not illusions and emotions.’
The Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and Romanians are deeply indignant at being outvoted on one of the biggest and most toxic issues in national politics anywhere in Europe.

This post was published at The Guardian

Pope Scolds US, China Hackers, Russia Bombs ISIS, Clinton Email Update

The following video was published by Greg Hunter on Sep 24, 2015
The Pope has scolded Congress on everything from global warming to immigration in his first visit to the US. Most of his criticism is directed at Republicans though. There was not a single criticism given to the Castro regime in Cuba, and last I checked, their government is communist and atheist. I have been following the intense coverage and reading the Pope’s quotes, and I have yet to hear one public mention of Christ. I am a former Catholic that left the church after the pedophile priest scandal and the cover-up that went all the way to the Vatican. I like Catholics and have no problem with the main points of the Catholic Doctrine. The five main parts of the Catholic Doctrine are: Christ is the Son of God, Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, Christ died on the cross and shed his blood for the sins of the world, Christ rose again from the dead, and Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Please notice how ALL five major points of the Catholic Doctrine (which I totally agree with) are centered on Jesus Christ. While the Pope has mentioned God a few times in his public quotes, I have not heard a single quote that mentions the name of CHRIST. WHY??????
The other big visitor is the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Please note his first stop was not Washington, D. C., but Washington State. The Chinese President all but demanded the top tech Titans come for a meeting under the vailed threat of increased government scrutiny on companies doing business in China. He also inked a deal to buy 300 Boeing aircraft. In addition, he made the point that China was also a victim of hacking. Hacking has been a thorny issue with the Obama Administration.
Russia is ramping up its presences in Syria and now says it will go on the attack against ISIS with or without the help of the Obama Administration. The Russians will enlist the help of the Iranians and Hezbollah. There is also talk of the Chinese coming in on the side of Russia in eradicating ISIS.
Hillary Clinton’s email troubles have been kicked into critical condition with the announcement that the FBI has recovered more than 30,000 emails from the server that was supposedly wiped clean. It is very hard to believe her story that those more than 30,000 emails she had on her private server while Secretary of State are only about things such as yoga and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, as she claims. I can’t tell you how many possible felonies surround the evidence on this server.

Forget The New World Order, Here’s Who Really Runs The World

For decades, extreme ideologies on both the left and the right have clashed over the conspiratorial concept of a shadowy secret government pulling the strings on the world’s heads of state and captains of industry.
The phrase New World Order is largely derided as a sophomoric conspiracy theory entertained by minds that lack the sophistication necessary to understand the nuances of geopolitics. But it turns out the core idea – one of deep and overarching collusion between Wall Street and government with a globalist agenda – is operational in what a number of insiders call the ‘Deep State.’
In the past couple of years, the term has gained traction across a wide swath of ideologies. Former Republican congressional aide Mike Lofgren says it is the nexus of Wall Street and the national security state – a relationship where elected and unelected figures join forces to consolidate power and serve vested interests. Calling it ‘the big story of our time,’ Lofgren says the deep state represents the failure of our visible constitutional government and the cross-fertilization of corporatism with the globalist war on terror.
‘It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street,’ he explained.
Even parts of the judiciary, namely the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, belong to the deep state.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/24/2015.

The Oligarch Recovery – 30 Million Americans Have Tapped Retirement Savings Early in Last 12 Months

The ongoing oligarch theft labeled an ‘economic recovery’ by pundits, politicians and mainstream media alike, is one of the largest frauds I’ve witnessed in my life. The reality of the situation is finally starting to hit home, and the proof is now undeniable.
Earlier this year, I published a powerful post titled, Use of Alternative Financial Services, Such as Payday Loans, Continues to Increase Despite the ‘Recovery,’ which highlighted how a growing number of Americans have been taking out unconventional loans, not simply to overcome an emergency, but for everyday expenses. Here’s an excerpt:
Families’ savings not where they should be: That’s one part of the problem. But Mills sees something else in the recovery that’s more disturbing. The number of households tapping alternative financial services are on the rise, meaning that Americans are turning to non-bank lenders for credit: payday loans, refund-anticipation loans, pawnshops, and rent-to-own services.
According to the Urban Institute report, the number of households that used alternative credit products increased 7 percent between 2011 and 2013. And the kind of household seeking alternative financing is changing, too.
It’s not the case that every one of these middle- and upper-class households turned to pawnshops and payday lenders because they got whomped by an unexpected bill from a mechanic or a dentist. ‘People who are in these [non-bank] situations are not using these forms of credit to simply overcome an emergency, but are using them for basic living experiences,’ Mills says.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Sep 24, 2015.

Obama’s ISIS Czar Steps Down As Mission Falls Apart

In a startling turn of events, retired General John Allen will be stepping down as special envoy to the global coalition fighting ISIS and will be leaving government employment entirely.
President Obama’s hand-picked choice to lead the U. S. in the international effort fighting the Islamic State will call it quits just as the harsh spotlight intensifies scrutiny over questionable decisions by the administration. Bloomberg quoted four unnamed (and unverified) ‘administration officials’ who claimed Allen ‘will leave government service in the coming weeks.’
‘I vote for sooner rather than later,’ Allen asserted to Defense One in June last year about the need for the U. S. to employ aggressive action against ISIS. Two months later, he again emphasized the U. S.’ unique position as ‘the only nation on the planet capable of exerting the kind of strategic leadership, influence, and strike capacity necessary to deal with IS [ISIS, ISIL]. It is also the only power capable of organizing a coalition’s reaction to this regional and international threat.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/24/2015.

Military Coup in America?

According to a recent – and totally bizarre – poll conducted by YouGov, 29% of Americans could imagine supporting a military takeover of the federal government.
Yes. Almost one-third of the American population supports a military coup.
Three out of four people in America believe the entire government is corrupted (can’t argue there). And, many of those people apparently believe that military officers want what’s best for the country far more than Congressmen.
But don’t get your knickers in a bunch just yet…
The YouGov poll was conducted online.
And there’s always the pesky selection bias when it comes to online polls – meaning, people who are already inclined to believe such things are more likely to participate than people who aren’t. Which, of course, heavily skews the results and distorts the randomization process.
So the poll might not be indicative of the actual sentiment. But if it is, we think those who support a military coup in America would think twice if they were ever actually faced with one.
The reality is far less romantic than some might think.

This post was published at Laissez Faire on SEP 24, 2015.

248 Armed Conflicts After WW2; US Started 201 (81%), Killing 30 Million so Far

hat tip: Washington’s Blog and David Swanson
People around the world view the US as the greatest threat to peace; voted three times more dangerous than any other country. The data confirm this conclusion:
Since WW2, Earth has had 248 armed conflicts. The US started 201 of them. These US-started armed attacks have killed ~30 million and counting; 90% of these deaths are innocent children, the elderly and ordinary working civilian women and men. The US has war-murdered more than Hitler’s Nazis. US official reports now confirm all ‘reasons’ the US told for current armed attacks were known to be false as they were told. These lie-started US wars are not even close to lawful (here andhere recently). US wars and rhetoric for more wars continue a long history of lie-began US Wars of Aggression. The most decorated US Marine general in his day warned all Americans of this fact of lie-started wars for 1% plunder.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on September 24th, 2015.

Germany’s Immigration Challenge

This immigration crisis in Europe is a big deal, and it’s a bigger deal for Germany than for any other European country. Germany is directly in the firing line, both geographically and in terms of how many of the migrants want to settle there. Nearly 40% of migrants choose Germany as their preferred final destination, while the only other nation that is chosen by more than 10% of migrants is Hungary, at 18%.
Daniel Stelter is a very wired German economist and business thinker. He wrote to me a couple days ago, said he had read my remarks on Germany and the immigration crisis inlast week’s Thoughts from the Frontline, and recommended to my attention a couple of articles he had just written on the issue. They are today’s Outside the Box.
In his note to me, Daniel says:
I doubt that it will work out as politicians hope. In theory we agree: well-educated people come to Germany to help us deal with the demographic crisis we face. The reality is that a big part of the immigrants will not be able to fulfill these hopes as they are illiterate, etc. We would have to invest heavily to make this happen, but politicians shy away from doing so. I have summarized what the scenarios are and what we would have to do to make it happen in this two-part comment for the Globalist, which you might want to have a look at. To be clear: Germany looks like ending up with more problems than less if we don’t change gears fast.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on SEPTEMBER 23, 2015.

US Planning to Upgrade Nuclear Missiles in Germany

Now that the Cold War is over, the Germans aren’t as enthusiastic about having nuclear missiles stationed on their soil as they used to be. In 2010, Germany’s parliament decided by a majority vote, to ask the US government to remove the nukes that are currently stationed in the Luftwaffe’s Bchel Air Base. Not much has changed since then, as our government currently plans to upgrade the missiles instead of removing them.
They want to replace the current B61 bombs with the more modern B61-12. The B61 missile is a fairly low yield weapon, but the new version will have an even lower yield in addition to more accuracy.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on September 23rd, 2015.

Brazil’s Currency Plunges Again, As Decision To Uphold Spending Vetoes Fails To Shore Up Confidence

The beleaguered BRL – which one might have expected to get some respite from the fact that Brazilian lawmakers upheld 26 of President Dilma Rousseff’s 32 vetoes on some $32 billion in expenditures – is plunging anew, puntuating the largest five day drop in four years and hitting fresh record lows agains the dollar…
…while CDS blows out (again) and is now at near record wides…
Congress, which looked set to delay a vote on the vetoes, decided to go ahead (presumably in light of the FX turmoil that has the central bank operating in “crisis mode”) and after a marathon session, Rousseff came away largely victorious.
But renewed pressure on the BRL suggests the country is far from out of the woods.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/23/2015.

Russia Threatens To Deploy Ballistic Missiles In Retaliation For US Nuclear Escalation

On Tuesday we noted – with some alarm – that the US is set to deliver 20 new nuclear bombs to Germany, each of which has four times the destructive power of the one that was dropped on Hiroshima.
For his part, Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said the move blurs the line between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons,’ while one member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats warned that the ‘new attack options against Russia’ constitute ‘a conscious provocation of [Germany’s] Russian neighbors.’
Of course, as we’ve documented extensively of late, NATO has never really been shy when it comes to ‘conscious provocations’ of the Russians and that goes double in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent support for the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.
Still, war games are one thing, but nuclear escalations are entirely another and if ever there were a time when nuclear sabre rattling could prove especially dangerous it’s now, as the US and Russia are one ‘accident’ away from open war in Syria.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/23/2015.

Half of Americans Think ‘Government Is an Immediate Threat to Liberty’

Government poses a threat to liberty, that much is clear.
But what may be surprising is that almost half of Americans clearly identified government as a clear and ‘immediate’ threat, and are obviously outraged about what is going on.
Oddly, the number of angry Americans has remained consistent in poll number ever since about 2006 during George W. Bush’s second term, maintaining around 46-49% throughout Barack Obama’s entire presidency.
And yet, things continue to get worse and worse with each political cycle, and each new president.
Gallup reported that:
Almost half of Americans, 49%, say the federal government poses ‘an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens,’ similar to what was found in previous surveys conducted over the last five years.
The remarkable finding about these attitudes is how much they reflect apparent antipathy toward the party controlling the White House, rather than being a purely fundamental or fixed philosophical attitude about government.
[…] during the Republican administration of George W. Bush, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were consistently more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to say the federal government posed an immediate threat.

This post was published at shtfplan on September 23rd, 2015.

Democracy Has Departed The West – Paul Craig Roberts

Before the West spreads democracy abroad maybe it could get some for itself. The US is an oligarchy in which government is answerable to six powerful private interest groups. In Europe governments are answerable to the EU, Washington, and private bankers and not to their peoples. In the UK the military brass has declared its hold on the reins of power.
Jeremy Corbyn is the first Labourite to lead the Labour Party in a long time. Considering the stupidity and immorality of the Tories, Corbyn could become prime minister of Britain. Should this occur, Corbyn would shift the budget priorities away from supporting Washington’s wars toward refurbishing the social welfare state that made life for ordinary Britishers more secure and less stressful.
A senior serving general of the British army said that the army would not allow the people to ‘put a maverick in charge of the country’s security. The Army just wouldn’t stand for it and would use whatever means possible, fair or foul, to prevent that.’
In other words, a democratic outcome unacceptable to the English military will be overthrown. Just like in Egypt.
Here we have the incongruity of Washington and London bringing democracy to others through what Vladimir Putin calls ‘airstrike democracy,’ while tolerating a democracy deficit themselves. The safest conclusion is that democracy is a cloak for an aggressive agenda, not a value in itself to the US and UK elites, who rule and who intend to continue to rule these countries for their personal benefit.

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on September 22, 2015.

FBI Recovers Personal Emails Allegedly Deleted From Hillary Clinton’s Personal Server

When Hillary’s email scandal first broke, the Democrat frontrunner for president explained that roughly half of the 60,000 emails that had been housed on her private server were screened by her and deleted as they contained personal information such as “planning for Chelsea’s wedding, yoga routines and condolence messages.” Her staff then turned over paper copies of the remaining work-related emails to the State Department for processing and archiving, with some 8000 emails posted for public consumption. But a problem emerged in March when the State Department determined that dozens of the e-mails contained classified information.
It is this discovery, as well as questions about how and why these classified emails were housed on a private server, that prompted FBI the launch an inquiry into what the “personal” emails may have contained.
Today, as Bloomberg reports, the FBI has recovered the personal and work-related e-mails from the private computer server used by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, and which had allegedly been wiped clea. The FBI obtained Clinton’s server from the Colorado-based company managing it.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/23/2015.

EU Ministers Ram Through Quota Plan Over 4 Objections; Fairy Tale Material; Mish Does “The Math”

EU Solidarity has splintered widely as Ministers Ram Through Refugee Quota Plan over the objections of numerous countries.
EU interior ministers on Tuesday imposed a plan to relocate 120,000 refugees across the EU, outvoting four eastern European countries strongly opposed to the scheme.
The use of majority voting to push ahead with the burden-sharing scheme – regarded as politically unacceptable in some capitals – is a rare move in a bloc that typically acts by consensus on sensitive issues. It is certain to amplify tensions over the migrants crisis.
Slovakia’s Robert Fico was defiant, saying he would not be bound by the decision. “As long as I am prime minister, mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak territory,” he told MPs in Bratislava.
Milan Chovanec, the Czech interior minister, tweeted that the policy would not work: ‘Soon we will find out that the emperor has no clothes. Reason lost today.’
EU diplomats said Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic voted against the plan, with Finland abstaining, but they were unable to stop its proponents, led by Germany and France.
Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean asylum-seekers would qualify for the programme, but the logistics of how they will be distributed are still to be worked out.
Jean Asselborn, the Luxembourg minister who chaired the meeting, said ministers ‘would have preferred to have an agreement by consensus’, but said the EU expected the objectors to abide by the redistribution plan, as required under EU law.

This post was published at Global Economic Analysis on September 22, 2015.

Bernie Sanders Reveals Plan To Abolish Private Prisons In America

With a call to ‘end the private prison racket in America,’ a group of progressive lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that seeks to subvert the reigning ‘pro-incarceration agenda’ by banning private prisons, reinstating the federal parole system, and eliminating quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention.
‘It is morally repugnant and a national tragedy that we have privatized prisons all over America,’ said Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the legislation’s lead sponsors along with Reps. Ral M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.). ‘We cannot fix our criminal justice system if corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration. Keeping human beings in jail for long periods of time must no longer be an acceptable business model in America.’
With the ultimate goal of reducing the inmate population in federal, state, and local facilities, the Justice Is Not For Sale Act (pdf) would, according to a fact sheet:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/22/2015.

22/9/15: Germany’s IFO: “Refugees to Cost Ten Billion Euros”

Here is the full release from the Ifo Institute (emphasis in bold andcomments in italics are mine):
“Ifo Institute Expects Refugees to Cost Ten Billion Euros
Munich, 22 September – If a total of 800,000 asylum-seekers do indeed come to Germany this year, as forecast by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, it would cost the state around ten billion euros. This figure does not take into consideration family members joining the refugees or any educational measures; and is therefore a conservative estimate. [here is a useful, albeit dated, link on family reunification framework in Germany showing significant potential impact. More current data is covered here. In addition, while educational expenditures can be significant, part of the costs will be carried through apprenticeships and training schemes that are covered by employers and that involve productive work, contributing to value added in the German economy.] The qualification structure of immigrants from the crisis-afflicted states of Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Afghanistan is probably poor. According to data from the World Bank, the illiteracy rate even among the 14-24 year old age group is 4 percent, 18 percent, 34 percent and 53 percent in these countries respectively. Even in the most developed of these countries (Syria) only 6 percent of the population has a university degree, which is not equivalent to a German diploma in many cases. Although refugees tend to be male and younger than the demographic average age, one thing is still clear: they are poorly prepared for the German labour market. In addition to language courses, Germany will also need to invest in training, which will generate extra costs. [We do not know exact quality of education and skills attained by the refugees, but applying average population parameters in this case can be fraught with some problems. For example, refugees coming through trafficking channels are required to pay up-front fees that are substantial in size, relative to average incomes. This means that there can be a strong selection bias in terms of refugees who reach Europe, compared to the average population in the country of origin – biases that tend to select more educated / better skilled and more financially enabled migrants. If so, their literacy rates and educational attainment status can be well above averages. In addition, undergoing a refugee journey implies very significant hardship, that is most likely known (at least partially) prior to the journey start. This can imply that refugees arriving into Europe may have stronger aptitude to succeed in integrating into new host society than those who remain behind. These biases are relatively well known in the literature on migrants flows in large scale migrations in the past.]

This post was published at True Economics on September 22, 2015.

The Biotech Pricing Scandal Explained By Taiwanese Animators

Martin Shkreli’s decision to disturb the fragile equilibrium in the biotech industry by hiking the price of Daraprim, a drug which had been on the market for decades, from $13.50 to $750, has caused massive ripple effects, and forced none other than Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to chime in that drug prices will be the next area of government intervention with a likely monthly cap set to be implemented if she becomes president, also leading to the biggest plunge in the biotech stock index in 2015.
To be sure drug treatment costs, already astronomical by many standards, would quietly keep rising months after month, without much public attention as the price hikes were gradual and did not attract much public attention as they were blanketed by various insurance schemes and “distributed” costs… until over the weekend the NYT decided to profile the decision of Turing Pharmaceuticals to boost the price of Daraprim – a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis – by over 5500%.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 09/22/2015.

The Economics of Hillary Clinton

In a recent Labor Day speech to union workers in Illinois, Hillary Clinton declared that if she is elected president of the United States, she would make sure that ‘some employers go to jail for wage theft and all the other abuses they engage in.’ Her incendiary comments were obvious ‘red meat’ for the audience, but it also helped to clarify her own economic views and how she would govern if elected.
Even though Clinton is somewhat mired down in a scandal involving her email servers used while she was at Foggy Bottoms, it seems that she will survive it – as she and her husband have survived every other scandal that has defined their political careers – and be the official Democratic Party nominee. Given the current state of US politics and given the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a Republican challenger who can stand up to her star power, at least from this current vantage point, it seems Clinton will slide into the office for where she has been ‘destined’ since 1992.
Given that there is a very good chance Clinton will march into the White House in January 2017, we should scrutinize her economic beliefs and her proposed economic policies, as we may well have to be living them in less than two years. Not surprising for people interested in economics of liberty (or, better put, the economics of prosperity), Hillary’s policies will disappoint and disappoint greatly.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on SEPTEMBER 22, 2015.