Why Did Sears Holdings’ Largest Outside Shareholder Suddenly Jump Overboard?

4th director to quit in 10 months. Bankruptcy prospects heat up. The board of directors of Sears Holdings keeps shrinking – and that makes sense: Who’d want to be a director as the retailer careens along its path to bankruptcy, it only being a question of when it’ll get there, and whether or not the company will make it through the holiday selling season.
Today the company announced that Bruce Berkowitz ‘has decided to step down’ from the board of directors, effective October 31, 2017. He’d joined the board in February 2016. So that wasn’t long. No reason was given for the abrupt departure, which caused bankruptcy fears to flare up, and shares (SHLD) plunged 11.5% to $5.99.
Berkowitz is the fourth director to jump overboard over the past 10 months and none has been replaced. The other three:
Steven Mnuchin quit the board in December ahead of his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury. He’d been on the board for 12 years. The vacant slot has not been filled. Alesia Haas quit the board in December 2016 after having joined in February 2016 – just long enough to get a look-see before bailing out. She’d been the CFO of OneWest Bank until it was acquired by CIT group. Cesar Alvarez quit the board in March 2017. He’d joined in December 2013. At the time, he was co-chairman of the law firm Greenberg Traurig. His slot has not been filled.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 16, 2017.

Here’s How Much Each HSBC Trader Made In Their FX Front-Running Scheme

Last week we wrote about how some former HSBC FX traders, led by Mark Johnson, orchestrated a carefully crafted plan to front-run a massive buy order for British Pounds using the code phrase “my watch is off.”
Now, courtesy of court filings in a British case to extradite one of the participants, Stuart Scott, we learn exactly how much each HSBC trader made for his trading book in the illicit scheme that netted a total of $8 million in profits. Per Bloomberg:
“The defendant personally obtained over $500,000 profit,” the U. S. Justice Department, represented by British lawyer Mark Summers, said in written arguments prepared for the hearing. “The offenses of which he is accused are highly serious. They involve a systematic and organized conspiracy to defraud, committed in breach of trust.”
Scott was charged, along with his ex-boss Mark Johnson, by the Justice Department in July 2016 with using insider knowledge to front-run a $3.5 billion currency deal by Cairn Energy Plc that made the bank $8 million. Johnson is on trial in New York and a jury there could begin deliberations this week.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 16, 2017.

Massive WiFi Flaw Affects All Connected Devices: ‘You Have To Wonder If It Was Corrupted On Purpose’

The security protocol used to protect the vast majority of WiFi connections has been broken. This will expose wireless internet traffic to malicious attack, according to the researcher who discovered this weakness.
It doesn’t bode well that the mainstream media is also ignoring this problem completely because it’s a very big deal. Anytime the mainstream media brushes something off, most start asking questions. Unfortunately, none of the answers we have so far to those questions are of comfort.
Considering every single cellphone now has WiFi in it and this major ‘weakness’ could affect almost everyone. According to ARS Technica, researchers have disclosed a serious weakness in the WPA2 protocol that allows attackers within range of vulnerable device or access point to intercept passwords, e-mails, and other data presumed to be encrypted, and in some cases, to inject ransomware or other malicious content into a website a client is visiting.

This post was published at shtfplan on October 16th, 2017.

Australia: jail young children without charges; they wouldn’t do that; oh yes they would

Australia: jail young children without charges; they wouldn’t do that; oh yes they would
And it’s a perfect ‘bait and switch’
It’s still labeled a proposal, but it has widespread support among Australia’s political leaders.
The BBC: ‘…proposals that could see children as young as 10 held for two weeks without charge under new terror legislation.’
‘State and territorial leaders approved the plans with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting…’
The public hasn’t seen any details of the plan.
It’s obviously aimed at children who are suspected of preparing to commit terrorist acts, or children who are suspected of already committing those acts. Evidence would be lacking, formal charges wouldn’t be filed, but the children would still be arrested and held.
Let’s cut to the bottom lines. There are already laws which cover arresting children-terrorists. Yes, there needs to be evidence of some kind, but why is that a problem? For example, if federal police found a compound where children were being trained to handle weapons, and it was clear the intention was terrorism, those children could be taken into custody and investigated.
To understand the deeper point, however, you need to recognize that a new law restricting freedom for one reason can and will be expanded to include more reasons – all in the name of public safety and protection, of course. What creeps along the ground today stands up and runs wild tomorrow.

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on October 16, 2017.

Ex-DEA Agent Blames Congress And Drug Industry For Opioid Crisis

Whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi is telling all when it comes to placing blame for the nation’s opioid crisis. He says drug distributors pumped opioids into communities in the United States knowing that people were dying and that the US government is helping.
Joe Rannazzisi is a tough and blunt former DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) deputy assistant administrator with a law degree, a pharmacy degree, and a growing rage at the unrelenting death toll from opioids. Congress has often been complicit in atrocities, especially when a politician profits off of the removal of the rights of others. So it should not come as a surprise that Rannazzisi is blaming Congress and the drug industry for the opioid epidemic gripping the nation.
Rannazzisi ran the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. Now in a joint investigation by 60 Minutesand The Washington Post, Rannazzisi tells the inside story of how, he says, the opioid crisis was allowed to spread. Its quick spread was also aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives.

This post was published at shtfplan on October 16th, 2017.

YEMEN: Media Blackout Imposed by Saudi Coalition is Exacerbating Humanitarian Crisis

Statement by Journalist Support Committee
The Journalists Support Committee in Yemen, with deep regret, continues to pursue the media blackout imposed by the coalition governments upon Yemen. The coalition has prevented foreign journalists from entering Yemeni grounds, therefore, preventing media coverage of the dire and dangerous conditions in Yemen.
The committee notes that the Yemeni authorities -who are led by the internationally recognized president- and the Saudis have consistently restricted journalists from entering Yemen, with excuses that do not match with human rights laws and other international treaties, charters, and conventions or with the preamble of article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Committee draws attention to the coalition preventing cargo planes carrying aid and belonging to the United Nations from reaching Yemen in September because the plane had journalists on board.
Ahmad Ibn Al-Aswad, the spokesperson of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen said: ‘The coalition reckons that it is not possible to assure the safety of the journalists in areas controlled by the rebels’ he then advised them to board commercial flights instead.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 16, 2017.

Vegas security guard cancels interviews, then goes missing; concert…

‘The Mandalay Bay security guard shot by Stephen Paddock in the moments leading up to the worst mass shooting in modern U. S. history was set to break his silence Thursday night with five television interviews, including one on Fox News, Campos’ union president said.’
‘Except when the cameras were about to roll, and media gathered in the building to talk to him, Campos reportedly bolted, and, as of early Friday morning, it wasn’t immediately clear where he was.’
Did Campos decide his account of the shooting would become a problem for him, because it would contradict the official scenario? Did his Mandalay Hotel employer, or the police, tell him to keep his mouth shut?
According to police, the accused shooter, Stephen Paddock, fired 200 rounds through his hotel room door at Campos, wounding him in the leg, either six minutes BEFORE Paddock started shooting at the concert crowd, or at about the same time Paddock started shooting at the concert attendees. The official timeline of events keeps changing.
On a practical level, the timeline would become very important if lawsuits are filed against the Mandalay owners.

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on October 15, 2017.

Harvey Clinton, I mean Bill Weinstein

Now that everyone in Hollywood is taking such a brave stance after 20 years and pointing an accusing finger at Harvey Weinstein (cue massive applause and bravos), perhaps we should review Hillary Clinton’s attitude toward women who claim they were abused, attacked, and raped.
Hillary, too, was ‘disgusted’ to learn about Weinstein’s outrageous crimes. Of course, thinking she is still on the campaign trail, she took the opportunity to equate Weinstein and Donald Trump. She somehow forgot about her own hubby Bill. When reminded, she says all that is in the past and it’s ‘already been litigated.’ Which is lawyer talk for ‘we got away with it.’
Let’s see. Here are a few choice bits culled from dailywire.com:
In 1992, Hillary describes one of Bill’s women, Gennifer Flowers, as ‘some failed cabaret singer who doesn’t even have much of a rsum to fall back on.’ She says, if given the chance to cross-examine Flowers in court, ‘I mean, I would crucify her.’
Hillary on Monica Lewinsky: ‘narcissistic loony toon.’
Hillary, while practicing as a lawyer, defends a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. She wins the case. Then on tape, she’s caught saying, ‘He [her client] took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs.’ Then she breaks up laughing.

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on October 15, 2017.

Reflections on a World Gone Mad and Pushing Back against Neocolonialist Thuggery

The following is an interview with ANDRE VLTCHEK by ALESSANDRO BIANCCHI, Chief Editor of the Italian political magazine Anti-Diplomatico:
ALESSANDRO BIANCHI: Self-determination of peoples and respect for the borders and sovereignty of a country. This is of the most complicated issue for international law. How can it be articulated for the case of Catalonia?
ANDRE VLTCHEK: Personally, I’m not very enthusiastic about smaller nations forming their own states, particularly those in the West, where they would, after gaining ‘independence’, remain in the alliances that are oppressing and plundering the entire world: like NATO or the European Union.
Clearly, the breaking of the great country of Yugoslavia into small pieces was a hostile, evil design by the West, and particularly of Germany and Austria. The dissolution of Czechoslovakia after the so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’ was a total idiocy.
But Catalonia (or Basque Country), if it became independent, would become one of the richest parts of Europe. I don’t think it would have any great positive or negative impact on the rest of the world. As an internationalist, I don’t really care if they are separate from Spain or not, or whether they are even richer than they already are, as I care much more about what is happening in places such as Afghanistan, Venezuela or North Korea.
READ MORE

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 14, 2017.

Video: Reporter Doorstops Vegas Security Guard’s House: ‘I Can Confirm His Family Has A Gag Order’

Over the last few days Las Vegas law enforcement officials have significantly altered the timeline of the mass shooting that left 59 dead and hundreds injured. Adding further intrigue is the fact that the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino now says that they have their own timeline of events, which diverge from the official story.
On top of that, mystery still surrounds Mandalay Bay security guard Jose Campos, who was shot in the leg when Stephen Paddock opened fire and unleashed some 200 rounds through the door of his hotel room. Campos, who is reportedly not registered to work in the State of Nevada, was scheduled to do an interview with Sean Hannity Thursday night. But just minutes before the interview was to take place, Campos was said to have abruptly cancelled his appearance:
How come @seanhannity didn't run the #JesusCampos interview tonight? #LasVegasShooting
— Laura Loomer (@LauraLoomer) October 13, 2017

This post was published at shtfplan on October 13th, 2017.

Democrat AGs From 18 States Sue To Keep Obamacare Subsidies, But Who Really Benefits?

It did not take long for democrats to respond to Trump’s executive order halting key subsidies known as Cost-Sharing Reductions or CSRs to insurers.
On Friday, just hours after the executive order was signed, Democratic attorneys general from eighteen states as well as Washington D. C., sued President Trump’s administration to stop him from scrapping a critical component of Obamacare – insurer subsidies that allow millions of low-income people pay medical expenses, even as Trump invited Democratic leaders to negotiate a deal. The states include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state.
The suit follows the administration’s announced plans to end the payments next week; Trump said he would dismantle Obamacare ‘step by step.’ His latest action raised concerns about chaos in insurance markets. Frustrated by the failure of Republicans who control both houses of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump’s action took aim at a critical element of Obama’s signature 2010 law. ‘As far as the subsidies are concerned, I don’t want to make the insurance companies rich,’ Trump told reporters at the White House. ‘They’re making a fortune by getting that kind of money.’
On Saturday morning, Trump doubled down, tweeting that “Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!”
Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 14, 2017.

Iranian General Responds To Trump: “We’ll Bury You”

At the same time as the US Treasury’s declared Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization as part of Trump’s crackdown on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as Iran Nuclear Deal, a senior commander in Iran’s Quds Force, the elite overseas arm of the IRGC said that his forces have “buried many” like Donald Trump, and the US President’s threats against Iran will “damage” America.
‘We are not a war-mongering country. But any military action against Iran will be regretted … Trump’s threats against Iran will damage America … We have buried many … like Trump and know how to fight against America,’ deputy Quds commander Brigadier-General Esmail Ghaani said, cited by Tasnim news agency. The IRGC is Iran’s most powerful security entity and wields control over large swathes of Iran’s economy as well as considerable influence within its political system.
The crackdown on the IRGC came just two days after Iran’s foreign minister warned of a tough response if Trump proceeded with threats to scrap a landmark nuclear deal signed under the Obama administration. Speaking during a closed session of parliament on Wednesday, Mohammad Javad Zarif told lawmakers that Iran ‘will never renegotiate’ the deal brokered between Tehran and six world powers, Fars news agency reported.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

Weinstein Company Exploring Sale Or Shutdown

Update (4:55 pm ET): The Weinstein Co. has denied the WSJ’s report that it’s exploring a sale or shutdown.
* * *
Hollywood film studio The Weinstein Company promptly jettisoned disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein following last week’s New York Times bombshell, which documented the mogul’s 30-year history of sexual harassment and assault abetted by the silence of his peers and colleagues. But given the shocking scope of Weinstein’s alleged crimes (more than 30 victims have come forward to accuse him of harassment, groping or rape) and the pervasive speculation that everyone at his company was well-aware of Harvey’s transgressions, the Weinstein name has been irreparably tarnished.
Therefore, rather than risk an embarrassing bankruptcy – one where stakeholders can demand discovery and expose even more dirty laundry – Weinstein Co.’s board is reportedly exploring a sale or shutdown, the WSJ reports. In any case, the studio is almost certainly not going to continue as an independent entity.
The board previously had been considering appointing co-chairman Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein’s brother, and President David Glasser to continue operating Weinstein Co. with a new name, but that plan is no longer on the table.
However, the board could face resistence if Harvey Weinstein has his way. TMZ is reporting that Weinstein plans to challenge his firing at the company’s upcoming Oct. 17 board meeting. The topic of his firing is reportedly on the agenda for that meeting, which Weinstein – who is presently staying at a live-in rehab center in Arizona – will attend via call-in. Weinstein’s civil lawyer, Patty Glaser, will be present at the meeting as well to make her client’s case.
Weinstein plans to argue that he did not violate his current contract, which he signed in October 2015. He maintains no sexual harassment complaints were lodged filed after he signed said contract. Glaser will argue Weinstein could only be terminated after mediation and arbitration. The company has argued that it had a right to fire Weinstein immediately and he has a right to challenge the decision in mediation and arbitration.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

Trump To Scrap Crucial Obamacare Insurer Subsidy

Update: Late Thursday, the administration said it would immediately stop paying what are known as cost-sharing reduction subsidies. The payments go to health insurers in the Affordable Care Act to help lower-income people with co-pays and other cost sharing. Without them, insurers have said they’ll dramatically raise premiums or pull out of the law’s state-based markets.
According to Bloomberg, the White House said the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services both concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. ‘The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,’ the White House said in the statement.
The payments will stop immediately, with no transition period, Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. They next payments were due next week.
‘Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately,’ the department said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

DHS Releases Images Of Border Wall Prototypes

The White House wasn’t going to let minor details like the fact that Congress hasn’t appropriated any money to fund construction of President Trump’s promised border wall stop it from building eight prototypes in Otay Mesa, near San Diego.
And with few expecting the Democrats to accept the White House’s demands relating to a tentative deal that Trump struck with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ last month to avert a shutdown and secure some border wall funding in exchange for enshrining DACA, it’s possible that the Trump administration will never secure the funds, given rumors that a handful of Republican lawmakers privately oppose it.
Nevertheless, construction on the prototypes, which were selected by the Department of Homeland Security back in August, began two weeks ago. And now, DHS has released the first images of the partly finished designs.
Beginning preps are underway at #OtayMesa for the Wall prototypes. pic.twitter.com/77YVMUFAk9
— CBP San Diego (@CBPSanDiego) September 27, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.

Two lawsuits challenge demands for air travelers’ IDs

Two Federal lawsuits have been filed against the Federal government and officers and agents of the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies for violating air travelers rights by demanding that they identity themselves and/or provide evidence of their identities.
The complaint in Amadei v. Duke was filed today by the ACLU in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (the district in which New York’s Kennedy Airport is located) on behalf of nine of the passengers on Delta Airlines Flight 1583 from SFO to JFK on February 22, 2017.
As was reported at the time of the incident, visibly-armed U. S. Customs and Border Protection Officers blocked the door of the plane when it arrived at JFK. Passengers were told they wouldn’t be allowed to leave unless and until they showed the officers their ‘documents’, which they were told meant ‘government-issued ID’.
CBP officials and spokespeople helped make the legal case against themselves and the agency by telling reporters that this was a ‘routine’ practice consistent with agency policy, not an isolated incident or one that could be blamed on mistake, individual ‘bad apples’, or front-line officers.

This post was published at Papers Please on October 12th, 2017.

IPO in March, Crushed Today: PE Firm Pushes another Retailer into Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown

Why is anyone still buying retailers from private equity firms?
On March 9, 2017, private equity firm TowerBrook, the owner of women’s clothing retailer J. Jill, dumped half of its stake via an IPO at a price of $13 a share into the lap of the unsuspecting public, during a time when brick-and-mortar retailers that are owned by private equity firms are heading into bankruptcy court, one after the other.
By Wednesday at close, shares of J. Jill had dropped to just over $10. And then after-hours and today during regular trading, they plunged another 51% to $4.86!
Why are investors still buying brick-and-mortar retailers – or anything – from PE firms? No one knows. But inexplicably, it’s still happening.
By 8:31 PM on Wednesday, shareholder rights law firm Johnson Fistel announced that it is ‘investigating potential violations of the federal securities laws by J. Jill Inc. … and certain of its officers and directors.’ It added, that the investigation ‘seeks to determine whether certain statements regarding J. Jill’s business and prospects were false and misleading when made.’ Other class-action law firms will follow.
But at the time of the IPO, Fortune gushed:
Founded in 1959, J. Jill is a women’s apparel brand that focuses on customers between the ages of 40 to 65 and relies heavily on catalog- and web-driven sales, which generate 43% of total revenue with the rest relying on brick-and-mortar retail. The company’s strong direct-to-consumer model is linked to J. Jill’s heritage as a catalog company and it circulated 57 million copies of catalogs in 2015 alone. J. Jill contends that those direct channel relationships can also fuel sales at the company’s 275 stores.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 12, 2017.

Empire Destroying Wars Are Coming to America Under Trump – Part 3

The first two parts of this series focused on how Trump-specific factors could lead the American empire into another series of foolish and highly destructive wars. Part 1 discussed my concerns regarding Iran deal certification, as well as Trump’s increased coziness with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who appears to get turned on by the use of violent force. Part 2 considered how Trump might sell his wars by promoting an environment of slobbering, superficial patriotism, and also speculated that corporate media might rally behind Trump if the target of his aggression happens to be Iran.
Today’s piece will be slightly different. The prior posts focused on Trump-specific angles with regard to how America’s forthcoming military mistake might play out, but I want to make one thing clear. While Trump carries his own unique risks when it comes to militarism overseas, this is all much bigger than Trump.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, I’ve become convinced that the U. S. empire will never reform on its own. There’s simply too much money and power at stake, and we already know oligarchs are above the law under our two-tier justice system. The biggest financial criminals of a generation were not only spared prison for their actions, but were handsomely rewarded. Wall Street ran the Obama administration before, and it runs the Trump administration now. It’s become clear to me that these lawless elite crooks and their enablers will continue with their insane and oppressive policies until the whole thing collapses. Whether Trump, Pence or Hillary Clinton run the charade doesn’t change where this train is headed.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Oct 12, 2017.