Saturday, August 17, 2019

Slow Saturday Special: A Short Time Ago in a Galaxy Not Far Away

We lack a government that really works in our interests. The living conditions facing youngsters nowadays are harsh, and they feel a lack of ownership over their hometown, both economically and politically.”

It isn't a parallel universe, is it?

"Glossier opens pop-up village in Seaport, part of a new model for selling makeup" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff, August 9, 2019

They came in droves.

The young people who crowded into the blush-colored pop-up storefronts in the Seaport for the opening of Glossier wore crop tops, high-waisted jean shorts, and thick framed glasses. They had bleached blond hair, persimmon-colored lips, and dewy pink cheeks — and they were all there for makeup that doesn’t actually look much like makeup at all.

Unless of course you want to look like you’re wearing makeup. That’s fine too, because Glossier, the billion-dollar Instagram-driven brand that created this buzz, is all about inclusivity, and last week, its team of pink jumpsuit-clad “offline editors” were more than happy to feed the seemingly insatiable customer demand for its line of Boy Brow gels and Milky Jelly Cleansers.

“I just want to live here,” said Cleveland Khun, 24, who came to survey the sheer moisturizers and glimmery Lidstar shadows before taking a selfie in front of the brand’s enormous G logo.

Whether Glossier is a makeup brand you’ve never heard of or a makeup brand you cannot live without depends largely on your demographic. (Are you under 35? Do you follow brands on Instagram and buy products through its ads? Then you’re the target.)

Glossier (rhymes with dossier) started on the web in 2014 as an extension of the Into the Gloss beauty blog. Its 34-year-old founder, Emily Weiss, has been hailed for making makeup more accessible by crowdsourcing the kinds of skincare products her fanbase wanted.

Not only am I tired of the mixed messages regarding #MeToo, but I'm $ick of the $elf-$erving $will pa$$ing it$elf off as journali$m.

Weiss arrived at an opportune moment: Department stores that once dominated beauty sales were seeing revenues plummet, while makeup meccas that let shoppers play with products were skyrocketing, but even the latter still largely overlooked younger consumers. By treating its 18- to 35-year-old customer base like besties and responding directly to their desires, Glossier soared to a $1.2 billion valuation in just five years.

Its prices are only slightly higher than drugstore cosmetics — mascaras are $16, and its Balm Dotcom salve is $12 — and its reported revenue more than doubled last year, reaching $100 million. Glossier also touts that it sells a Boy Brow eyebrow gel every 32 seconds.

It now has brick-and mortar stores in New York and Los Angeles, and recently hosted pop-up stores in Miami and Seattle. Its Boston pop-up launched Wednesday and will be open through Oct. 4.

The company’s meteoric rise reflects just how rapidly the beauty galaxy is expanding.

In the era of the selfie, and buoyed by Kardashian contouring videos and YouTube and Instagram tutorials, beauty and skin-care sales have been booming: to $532 billion globally in 2017, according to OrbisResearch, and projected to hit $806 billion by 2023.

Although much of the traditional retail industry has faced a reckoning, sales of beauty products are growing because they hit a sweet spot for shoppers, said Tiffany Hogan, an analyst at Kantar Consulting. Fast fashion fanatics want the same variety in the beauty aisle, she said, and more broadly, consumers are embracing wellness and skin-care regimens.

Moreover, the cosmetics industry is becoming more inclusive, with brands such as Rhianna’s Fenty Beauty widening the palette of skin tones available to consumers, and Mac’s unisex makeup extending its reach beyond the strictly feminine market.

The result, Hogan said, is “there are so many more niches and trends right now that people are buying into that it creates more demand.”

Where consumers buy their mascara, however, is changing faster than you can bat an eyelash.

Although online sales still make up only a fraction of the beauty market, Glossier is using pop-up stores to spread brand awareness and to position itself to grab a larger slice of the pie.

The company’s head of marketing, Ali Weiss (no relation to Emily Weiss), said the beauty industry has long been built from the top down, relying on celebrity endorsements while making consumers feel as if they were dependent on the brand’s expertise. In contrast, Glossier got its start “by sitting on the bathroom floors and edge of the bathtub,” she said, showing consumers how to use products and featuring real people in its ads, with peer recommendations driving much of its growth, but the clamor for glamour might be stalling.

Do I need even say it?

Makeup amusement park Ulta Cosmetics announced in late 2018 that it was pulling back on its rollout of stores, and, after a surge in sales, the makeup line from model Kylie Jenner, launched in 2015, may already be losing some of its sheen. Last month, L’Oreal announced that its sales fell short of estimates. Meanwhile, Amazon launched a makeup line with Lady Gaga, a signal the e-commerce giant is prepared to go big and push out the competition.

Weiss believes Glossier’s relationship with its often zealous fans will help maintain its edge.

Lauren Beitelspacher, a marketing professor at Babson College, said one of the drivers for Glossier and other digital-first cosmetics lines, such as Drunk Elephant and Winky Lux, is the  feeling younger generations want brands of their own.

“The legacy brands assumed they could follow a previous model: a mom would take the daughter to buy the same product she used, but that model doesn’t exist anymore because these kids can reach out and create their own relationships with brands,” Beitelspacher said.....

That it is not only gro$$, it carries with it the feeling of dirty old men and pedophelia.


Apparently, "Sephora and Ulta Beauty have seen blockbuster growth over the past few years, while Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s and other struggling department stores are giving their beauty sections face-lifts, letting shoppers lounge and pamper themselves, and drugstore chains are also bulking up their beauty aisles to let consumers test and experiment with brands."

That would be the local CVS.

Here is someone who once looked good:

"I chased details about Rosie Ruiz’s life; she outdistanced me" by Bryan Marquard Globe Staff, August 8, 2019

She faked a Boston Marathon victory in 1980, and from almost the moment Rosie Ruiz crossed the finish line, reporters at the Globe and other news organizations found holes in nearly every claim she made, including on non-marathon topics such as her birth name and whether she had finished college.

In life, she had what might gently be called a troubled relationship with truth, and she eventually tired of answering reporters’ questions, slipping out of the public eye during her later years.

In death, if indeed she is dead, she’s having the final word, which so far is no word at all.....


They ran that same day Epstein was murdered (if they didn't switch out and fake it, that is).

You have to love the hypocrisy, too. The fake newspaper has a troubled relationship with the truth, but they were poking holes in the story early on. 

This stuff has become so insulting it has become a useless endeavor.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope:

"In rare media briefing, Pentagon officials seek to depoliticize massive military cloud project" by Aaron Gregg The Washington Post, August 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — In a discussion with reporters Friday in the Pentagon’s media briefing room, two of the Defense Department’s highest-ranking technology officials sought to depoliticize the JEDI cloud effort, a controversial cloud computing project that could be worth up to $10 billion.

The briefing follows several weeks of relative turmoil for the small Defense Department team in charge of the project, in which President Trump and three US senators have lobbied newly confirmed Defense Secretary Mark Esper directly on the matter.

Esper faces the challenge of moving forward with a long-planned military technology project while also establishing working relationships with the president and powerful members of Congress.

Newly confirmed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (left) faced the challenge of moving forward with the long-planned military technology project while also establishing working relationships with the president and powerful members of Congress.
Newly confirmed US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (left) faced the challenge of moving forward with the long-planned military technology project while also establishing working relationships with the president and powerful members of Congress. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Getty Images)

On Friday morning Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, a former JP Morgan executive, was joined by Lieutenant General John ‘‘Jack’’ Shanahan, who leads the Pentagon’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Deasy insisted the president is playing no role in selecting which company wins the contract. He said the long-awaited contract would not be awarded until Esper has had enough time to make a decision, and that they had scheduled a series of educational sessions in the coming weeks to fully brief him on the matter, and they made a strong case for why the Defense Department needs to move forward with the so-called ‘‘enterprise cloud’’ as soon as possible, alluding to a not-so-distant future in which robots and algorithms could define how wars are fought and won.

The sickos are preparing a Terminator future, and what is a banker doing over at the Pentagon?

In a possible reaction to the president’s interest, China was at the center of their pitch. ‘‘We don’t want to waste any time moving forward, because our adversaries are moving ahead at their own pace, whether it’s with Alibaba, Baidu, or Tencent,’’ Shanahan said, referring to China’s big tech companies. ‘‘With the level of investment and the amount of people [China] is throwing at the problem, they are moving forward at a very rapid pace.’’

The contract, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure or ‘JEDI,’ has attracted intense interest from four of America’s West Coast tech giants: Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. The opportunity could be worth up to $10 billion over a 10-year period, giving the winner tremendous influence moving forward. Defense Department officials have insisted on the need to give the contract to only one provider, and have thrown out initial bids from Oracle and IBM.

It heralds the rise of the robot

So how long will it take them to do the Kessel run?

DOD also hopes the project will bring order to a sprawling worldwide information network in which sensitive intelligence is stored in hundreds of mainframes and smaller clouds, often walled off from deployed troops who could use that information.

‘‘We have a bunch of siloed solutions we have built, we work with a lot of vendors currently, but we have never stepped back and tried to create an enterprise cloud,’’ Deasy said.

I thought they stopped scooping up that stuff.

Deasy said there has been ‘‘no pause’’ in the work of evaluating the two remaining proposals, a highly technical process that is expected to conclude in ‘‘a number of weeks.’’ Esper’s JEDI review is part of a parallel process, Deasy said. He said there will be no contract award until Esper’s review is complete, and declined to estimate when it might conclude.

Oracle and IBM have sharply criticized the Pentagon’s winner-take-all strategy for JEDI, arguing that approach will hamper innovation. They have charged that the process is rigged in favor of Amazon Web Services, and have unsuccessfully sued to block the award. Amazon executives have praised the single-award approach, arguing that such an approach will allow the Defense Department to move more quickly with its limited tech workforce.

For 18 months, that dispute played out mostly in closed-door hearings at the Government Accountability Office and Court of Federal Claims, which handle disputes over federal money, but in recent weeks the contract has seen a level of political scrutiny that is exceedingly rare for procurement matters. Trump recently asked Esper, during his first days on the job, to reexamine the process because of concerns the contract would go to Amazon. Esper said in an interview last week he was ‘‘taking a hard look’’ at the contract, and confirmed that he had heard from the administration as well as lawmakers from both parties.

In response to a Washington Post article detailing the president’s intervention, Democratic Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Jack Reed of Rhode Island wrote a letter to Esper, expressing concerns Trump may have acted inappropriately.


Oh, right, they are all off in Israel.

‘‘The integrity of our federal procurement process rests in large part on its insulation from undue political influence, so that sound technical and business judgments can be used to make data- and evidence-based decisions,’’ the two senators wrote, adding: ‘‘The importance of political noninterference is especially important in the context of Department of Defense.’’ The letter notes that DOD contracts ‘‘must focus on cost, quality, performance, and other considerations directly related to promoting our national security in an increasingly complex global environment.’’

I gue$$ that means no more campaign contributions and lobbying loot, huh?


Also see

"The Defense Department’s inspector general has assembled a team of auditors to evaluate the Pentagon’s handling of its largest cloud computing project, a massive contract that could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. The review presents yet another hurdle for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, known as JEDI, which has been mired in controversy and costly litigation for more than a year. The matter was referred to the inspector general by members of Congress and through the agency’s complaints hotline, said Dwrena Allen, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. “We are reviewing the DoD’s handling of the JEDI cloud acquisition, including the development of requirements and the request for proposal process,” Allen said. “In addition, we are investigating whether current or former DoD officials committed misconduct relating to the JEDI acquisition, such as whether any had any conflicts of interest related to their involvement in the acquisition process.” President Trump recently instructed new Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper to reexamine the contract over concerns that it will go to Amazon, a move that some observers characterized as an inappropriate incursion into the Pentagon’s business. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)."

Always in motion is the future....

Slow Saturday Special: Cape Hope

It's new source of local journalism:

"They’re starting — yes, starting — a newspaper on the Cape" by Allison Hagan Globe Correspondent, August 9, 2019

Despite the bad news for local journalism nationwide, Editor Edward Miller and publisher Teresa Parker believe their weekly model can work. Miller and Parker are running the business out of their house in Wellfleet for now, but they hope to have an office once they start printing the paper and publishing it regularly online, which should be around October. Compared with metro newspapers, local papers are more resilient because they offer exclusive content and can benefit from hyper-local advertising, according to a study conducted by the Columbia Journalism Review in 2017.

Miller and Parker say they’ve spoken to owners of weekly local papers in similar markets across the country about strategies to build a sustainable publication that isn’t overly reliant on ad revenue. The paper plans to offer a yearly all-inclusive print and digital subscription for $60. “I believe in the importance of small, local papers in creating a sense of community and really making democracy work at a local level,” Miller said.

The paper has raised an undisclosed amount of money from private investors to get off the ground and hopes to go public next spring through a direct public offering, which is similar to an initial public offering but with fewer costs.

The five-year business plan predicts the paper will break even in year four, Miller said.

“Nobody’s getting rich,” Parker said. “We’re trying to be a modest, viable, sustainable business that invests in itself before it thinks about taking profits out.”

The couple also plans to start a nonprofit arm to support in-depth special reports on critical local concerns, such as LGBTQ issues and climate change.

Until the paper receives approval from the federal government to establish the nonprofit, it’s working with the nonprofit Center for the Study of Public Policy.

In July, Miller quit his job as an associate editor at The Provincetown Banner, a local Outer Cape paper that was bought by GateHouse Media in 2008. GateHouse has been widely criticized for buying papers and then drastically reducing staffing and resources to save money, while outsourcing production and other operations. (On Monday, New Media Investment Group, parent of GateHouse, said it would merge with Gannett, which publishes USA Today and more than 100 other publications across the United States, in a $1.4 billion deal.)

When the Banner laid off its last remaining staff reporter in May and began relying entirely on freelance writers, Miller and Parker feared they could lose their local paper, which once employed more than 20 people and now has just four employees. “You can’t pay someone $75 to write an article about housing on the Outer Cape,” Miller said.....

Well, some can.


I wonder how much the Globe pays that correspondent.

She would have been better off going to CBS and working for Redstone instead.

Maybe she can work her way up to the city newsroom:

"GateHouse-Gannett merger will have ripple effect in Mass." by Jon Chesto Globe Staff, August 5, 2019

Say hello to Gannett, everyone, and wave goodbye to GateHouse.

The country’s two largest newspaper publishers consummated their long-rumored courtship on Monday, unveiling plans to merge into one behemoth by the end of the year.

The implications could be significant for New England: The merged company will keep the Gannett name, the more well-known of the two brands. The headquarters will be Gannett’s home in McLean, Va., and not GateHouse’s outpost near Rochester, N.Y., and the new company will control more than 260 dailies, across 47 states.

The stated hope is that by banding together, both groups can better withstand the forces ravaging the news industry — dwindling print ad revenue, tough online competition. Their second-quarter earnings underscore the challenges they face: New Media’s revenue at continuing operations declined 6.9 percent in the past year, while Gannett’s comparable “same store” revenue fell 9.8 percent.

Gannett was essentially forced into play by a hostile takeover bid from Digital First Media (aka MediaNews Group). Gannett executives appeared to be suspicious of Digital First’s financing, and its reputation for extreme cost-cutting under hedge fund owner Alden Global Capital.....


The budgets are tight, more cuts are coming, layoffs for sure, and while the name may change, the problems facing the industry aren’t going away, and with all due respect, I'm tired of the self-serving whining from lying, agenda-pushing, elitist propagandists.

"Gannett merger marks shift for troubled American newspaper giant" by Rachel Siegel Washington Post, August 5, 2019

The merger announced Monday between Gannett and GateHouse Media — America’s two largest newspaper chains — comes amid turmoil for the print journalism industry and shaky times for Gannett, which fought off a takeover attempt by a hedge fund earlier this year.

The deal also marked a new, uncertain chapter for the McLean, Va.-based Gannett, a former titan of American media that boomed in the latter half of the 20th century. Its flagship publication, USA Today, introduced the country to a national newspaper that could reach millions of readers, complete with digestible coverage, color photos, and eye-popping graphics.

With Monday’s announcement, media analysts reflected on Gannett’s rise and ‘‘how it came to be a takeover target as opposed to buying most every newspaper that came out of the market,’’ said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism training center.

Like print media everywhere, Gannett saw steep declines in print advertising with the rise of Craigslist and other online advertising platforms. Readers cut back on print subscriptions in search of digital and free news.

Over time, those factors built pressure on media companies to cut costs and consolidate.

‘‘There are ways you can consolidate,’’ said Harold Vogel, a veteran media analyst. ‘‘You don’t need two CFOs; you don’t need two chairmen or heads of marketing.’’

Gannett’s financial struggles and waves of recent layoffs follow a long run at the helm of American journalism. Today, Gannett’s vast portfolio includes USA Today, 109 local media organizations in 34 states, and dozens of other news brands online in the United Kingdom. Each month, more than 125 million unique visitors access content from USA Today and Gannett’s local sites, according to the company. Still, in January, Gannett slashed jobs at the Indianapolis Star, the Arizona Republic, the Tennessean, the Citizen Times in Asheville, N.C., and other papers, Poynter reported.

Gannett’s history reaches back to 1906, when Frank Gannett and others bought a half interest in the Elmira Gazette in upstate New York. From there, Gannett acquired and oversaw other local newspapers throughout the Northeast and, in time, the rest of the country. The Gannett National Service was founded in 1943, providing local papers with national reporting and dispatches from bureaus in Washington and elsewhere. The company went public in 1967.

Gannett was also known for bringing innovations to its newsrooms. In 1929, Frank Gannett invested in the development of the teletypesetter. Newsrooms were later stocked with shortwave radio sets to speed up reporting of far-off events, according to a company history. Printing presses were adapted for color at the Gannett Rochester newspapers as early as 1938. A corporate airplane even helped gather news from disparate places.

Much of Gannett’s greatest success came through the vision of Allen Neuharth, who rose from delivering a daily newspaper to becoming Gannett’s chairman in 1979.

Under Neuharth’s leadership, the company enjoyed a steady growth period and eventually created USA Today, which initially drew skepticism for its cost and viability.

Critics doubted the concept and dubbed the model the ‘‘McPaper,’’ even as the informative charts and exhaustive national coverage caught on with readers nationwide. (Neuharth died in 2013 at age 89.)

Gannett shares closed higher on the New York Stock Exchange at $11.04, up 29 cents.

That's the important thing, the $tock price.


But they are risking their lives to advance the agenda, right?

"Journalist’s death leads to reshaping of US handling of hostages" by Eric Tucker Associated Press, August 5, 2019

WASHINGTON — Diane Foley learned of her son’s fate not from any government official but from a sobbing journalist who asked if she’d been on Twitter.

Foley had not, but the ghastly images weren’t hard to find. President Obama soon confirmed the news to the world: James Foley, a 40-year-old American journalist kidnapped in Syria two years earlier, was the American beheaded by Islamic State militants in a video circulating online.

Only problem is the video was a fake and Foley a CIA asset, so you can lop the story off right here and forget him (I wonder what his next mission, 'er, assignment was).

For many in the United States, the August 2014 video brought home the extent of the Islamic State’s violence and brutality. For Diane Foley, it was a galvanizing moment, emblematic of the helplessness she felt during her son’s captivity and the lack of urgency she sensed from American officials tasked with helping her. The New Hampshire woman channeled her grief into action, becoming an unofficial ambassador for hostages and their loved ones, and helping reshape the US government response when Americans are captured by terrorists and kidnappers across the globe.

In the five years since her son’s murder, Foley and the foundation she formed in her son’s name have successfully pushed the US government to overhaul the hostage rescue process, advocated legislation to punish kidnappers, and pressed for additional attention for thousands of Americans detained unlawfully. Through research and public statements, she’s also challenged the conventional wisdom that negotiating with captors and making concessions to them are inherently counterproductive.

The most meaningful change was a 2015 Obama administration directive that prompted an FBI-led fusion cell to work full-time on hostage cases and a State Department special envoy to handle diplomatic negotiations. A June survey sponsored by Foley’s foundation said hostage families report significantly more helpful government interactions than before that overhaul, but still want more communication. Current and former government officials describe the hostage recovery process, and communicating with families, as an urgent priority.

The fusion cell structure remains intact under President Donald Trump, whom Foley praises for his interest in hostage issues despite an occasional collision of values with his administration.

US officials have secured the release of several high-profile American hostages and foreign government detainees, though other cases remain unresolved, including journalist Austin Tice, who officials believe is alive in Syria following his 2012 capture, and a group of Citgo Petroleum executives held by Venezuela known collectively as the Citgo 6.

James Foley grew up in Wolfeboro, N.H., and earned a master's in fine arts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst before studying journalism at Northwestern University and turning to conflict journalism after trying his hand at teaching. A reporter at Boston-based Global Post, he was captured for six weeks in 2011 by pro-Qaddafi forces while covering Libyan unrest. He returned home restless, then resumed reporting in the Middle East in time to chronicle ISIS’s rise.

He went to UMass Amherst?

The 2012 Thanksgiving holiday came and went with no word from Foley, which his family found disquieting since he’d always been good at checking in. Foley’s mother learned from his colleagues the next morning that he’d been apprehended by a jihadist group.

The next two years brought promising leads but also bouts of inactivity and frustrating government interactions.

The first FBI official assigned to the case was inexperienced, Foley said. When she’d contact the State Department, it seemed she was speaking to a different person each time. And she felt out of the loop on developments, learning of an unsuccessful Navy SEALs rescue attempt — Foley and other hostages had already been relocated — only after her son’s death.

The captors established contact in the fall of 2013, making a series of demands, including for $100 million euros and the release of Muslim prisoners. Foley raised $1 million in pledges despite White House warnings that ransom payments could violate a law against supporting foreign terrorist organizations, an admonishment she still finds cruel and unnecessary.

Communications ceased around Christmas, resurfacing in July with a threat to murder Foley.

The video the following month showed Foley kneeling in an orange jumpsuit beside a man in black clutching a knife to his captive’s throat. It fades to black before the beheading is completed. The killer, Mohammed Emwazi, was later killed in a US strike.

‘‘I think everyone was in shock,’’ Foley said. ‘‘I think our FBI was in shock. We were caught with our pants down. Nobody ever expected this.’’

Foley was the first of several Western hostages killed by ISIS that year, murders that shook the Obama administration into action and humbled officials who conceded shortcomings.

‘‘The government was letting the families down, letting the hostages down. We were not well-coordinated,’’ said Jen Easterly, former Obama administration senior counterterrorism director.

The next June, Obama announced the fusion cell’s creation, saying the government was ‘‘changing how we do business.’’ He also softened the rhetoric on ransom payments: while the government would not make them, Obama said, it had also never prosecuted families who had done so on their own and had no interest in compounding their pain.

Yet a recent survey from Foley’s foundation shows hostage families still want better clarity on US policies and laws, including on ransom and just how far immunity from prosecution will extend.

Though Foley said she doesn’t think such payments, which are common among European countries and in some cases have facilitated releases, are necessarily the answer, she believes it’s imperative US officials interact directly with captors. She points to research challenging the premise that concessions only serve to incentivize kidnappers.

‘‘Part of the problem is, if you don’t engage with captors, there’s zero chance of getting anyone home,’’ Foley said. ‘‘Are our citizens enough of a priority that we will use all that we can as a government to negotiate . . . to find out what do they really want.’’


Yeah, keep hope alive!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Darkening $kies

Funny things is, they came out of nowhere:

Stocks plummet amid fears of a global economic slowdown

My printed copy was WaComPo:

Stock losses deepen as key recession warning surfaces" by Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford Washington Post, August 14, 2019

Recession signals intensified Wednesday in the United States and in some of the world’s leading economies, as the damage from acrimonious trade wars is becoming increasingly apparent on multiple continents.

The US stock market posted its worst loss of the year, after a reliable predictor of recessions flashed for the first time since the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. The Dow Jones average fell 800 points, or about 3 percent, and has lost close to 7 percent over the past three weeks.

Two of the world’s largest economies, Germany and the United Kingdom, appear to be contracting even as the latter forges ahead with plans to leave the European Union. Growth also has slowed in China, which is in a bitter trade feud with the United States.

Whether the events presage an economic calamity or just an alarming spasm are unclear, but unlike during the Great Recession, global leaders are not working in unison to confront mounting problems and arrest the slowdown. Instead, they are increasingly at each other’s throats, and President Trump has responded by claiming the economy is still thriving while dramatically ramping up his attacks on Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, seeking to deflect blame.

Wednesday’s selloff was caused by an unusual development in the bond market, called an ‘‘inverted yield curve,’’ that often foreshadows a recession.

Probably already in one, or truth be told, we may well be in the middle of what will one day be called the Grand Depression.

For the first time since the run-up to the Great Recession, the yields — or returns — on short-term US bonds briefly eclipsed those of long-term bonds. Normally, the government needs to pay out higher rates to attract investors for its long-term bonds, but with so many losing confidence in the near-term prospects of the economy and rushing to buy longer-term bonds, the Treasury now is paying more to attract buyers to its 2-year bond than its 10-year note.

This phenomenon, which suggests investor faith in the economy is faltering, has preceded every recession in the past 50 years. ‘‘The yield curves are all crying timber that a recession is almost a reality, and investors are tripping over themselves to get out of the way,’’ said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.

It’s the latest in a string of worrisome news about the US economy. The government is expected to spend roughly $1 trillion more than it brings in through revenue this year, adding to a ballooning deficit. Business investment has begun to contract — largely due to the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s trade war — and manufacturing hiring has receded. The big hiring and investment announcements that piled up at the beginning of the Trump administration have ceased, as have the announcements of bonuses and pay increases that came after a tax cut law was passed in 2017.

Several White House officials have become concerned that the economy is weakening faster than expected, but they are not working on proactive plans to try and change its course. The Treasury Department has had an exodus of senior advisers in recent months, and the White House just announced a replacement for its chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Instead of rolling out new policies, Trump and his top aides have escalated their attacks on the Federal Reserve, trying to pin much of the country’s problems on what Trump alleges are elevated interest rates that are strangling growth. In a series of Twitter posts on Wednesday, Trump appeared to try to calm investors while unloading vicious language aimed at Powell, whom he nominated in late 2017.

The Twitter posts reflected a growing anxiety within the White House about problems in the economy, which many advisers believe will determine whether the president wins reelection. A few hours earlier, Trump offered a contradictory assessment, saying the inverted yield curve was a good sign because there were ‘‘Tremendous amounts of money pouring into the United States. People want safety!’’

In the past, Democrats and Republicans in control of the White House have scrambled when there were signs of an economic downturn, worried about the political fallout. They met and often consulted with Congress about ways to protect the economy or advance some kind of economic stimulus, either through tax cuts or spending increases, but the Trump administration has already cut taxes and boosted spending, and there appears to be little political appetite to do more of either this year or next. Complicating matters, a number of investors and foreign leaders have blamed Trump’s trade war for causing the contraction in business investment and forcing companies to pull back, an accusation that has caught White House advisers off guard.

They left out the bank bailouts. 

Going to need that again, only trebled!

The US economy has shown signs of weakening in recent months, but high levels of consumer spending have helped enormously. Still, the escalating trade war between Trump and Chinese leaders has stopped many businesses from investing, and there are signs that the large tariffs he has placed on many Chinese imports are costing US businesses and consumers billions of dollars.

But, still!

Darkening skies overseas gave investors more to worry about. New data indicated Germany was slipping into recession with the country’s economy shrinking 0.1 percent between April and June.

Meanwhile, China reported more signs of a weakening economy, with factory output falling to a 17-year low and high unemployment. Besides the trade war with the United States, China is also grappling with massive protests in Hong Kong, a key financial center in Asia.....

Kind of a red line for them.


Speaking of the devils, my World lead yet again:

"Soul searching among Hong Kong protesters after chaos at airport" by Austin Ramzy New York Times, August 14, 2019


HONG KONG — Hong Kong protesters apologized Wednesday and appeared to engage in soul searching about their increasingly confrontational tactics.

Oh, God, this is f**king pathetic after the weeks of propaganda.

Protests this week at the airport, one of the world’s busiest, caused hundreds of flight cancellations and delivered a blow to a symbol of Hong Kong’s efficiency and economic prominence.

On Wednesday, protesters seemed well aware of the negative image they had presented. They are navigating a tricky situation, as continued violence by the protesters could risk losing support among the general public for their movement. In their apologies, they played to their desperation, the sense that they had limited options as the government ignored their demands.

That is assuming they had the public support as we have been told by a lying, war-promoting, pos pre$$. It's by no means a given, and this article would seem to indicate it is anything but.

Don't worry, tomorrow everyone will be behind them again.

“We apologize for our behavior but we are just too scared,” read one post on a messaging channel used by protesters, which gained wider distribution on other social media. “Our police shot us, government betrayed us, social institutions failed us. Please help us.”

“Please accept our sincere apology to all travelers, press reporters, paramedics,” read another post. “We will learn from our mistakes. Please give us a second chance to prove ourselves that we can be better.”

It's the total collapse of a controlled opposition, covert destabilization program -- as I predicted two days ago.

Some protesters said that recent police tactics, including undercover officers apparently dressing as protesters to make arrests, had contributed to a sense of fear. Video of one recent arrest showed officers, one in the black T-shirt and yellow helmet commonly worn by demonstrators, grinding a protester’s bloodied face into the pavement.

I'm sorry, but there is no sympathy here for tools of of U.S. regime change or destabilization efforts. I've had it. Had it with interfering in other nations affairs, had it with the war pre$$ whining. Sorry.

China, which has been striking an increasingly strident tone with the protests, played up the chaos at the airport as part of a broader propaganda push to discredit the movement. The violence at the airport by the protesters received prominent coverage in mainland China’s state media. “What a shame for Hong Kong,” People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s main mouthpiece, said in a message on social media.

What you realize at this point is the New York Times projects its sins on the Chinese, or Russians, or Koreans, our Iranians, or Syrians, or Venezuelans, or..... well, you get the point. Anyone who stands in the way of empire.

A quote from the reporter who was beaten, “I support the Hong Kong police,” became a top trending term on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform. The reporter, Fu Guohao, is doing well and was not seriously injured, said Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, the nationalist tabloid that employs him.

“It’s the utmost disgrace for the protesters to treat a reporter like this,” Hu said in a message. “This shows that they have lost their rationality. Hatred has muddled their minds.”

I expect full-throated condemnation from the Globe will be forthcoming.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs office, the Chinese government agency that deals with the two cities, denounced the airport violence in a statement Wednesday, calling it “conduct close to terrorism.”

On Wednesday morning, a few dozen protesters remained in the airport, sitting in an area designated for protests. Parts of the arrival halls were still covered with posters carrying their messages, which have focused in recent days on complaints about the police’s use of force.....

Yeah, they are not like our police but at least the Chinese have free speech zones like us.


RelatedThai court acquits Red Shirts of terrorism for 2010 protests

As I remember, it was the Yellow Shirts that supported the military junta, who are now offering reconciliation and mercy, in fending of a U.S.-supported Red Shirt overthrow.

Also see:

"Russian scientists are raising the alarm about new Soviet-style restrictions on interactions with foreign colleagues. Russian scientists are now obliged to inform officials about any visit by a foreign scientist five days in advance and report on the meeting afterward, the published decree said. The science newspaper Troitsky Variant called on the ministry to scrap the order, saying the Soviet-style restrictions would hurt the standing of Russian science in the world. ‘‘Such ridiculous decrees that are impossible to comply with will do nothing to bolster our country’s security but will only increase its isolation from developed nations and discredit authorities,’’ scientist Alexander Fradkov said. Similar restrictions were widely used in the Soviet Union but were largely scrapped by the end of the 1980s. The reports of authorities trying to monitor scientists come amid an intensifying pressure on the scientific community. Elderly rocket scientist Viktor Kudryavtsev has been in jail for over a year now, facing vague treason charges. His colleague was arrested last month on similar charges....."

Speaking of Russian rockets, did that story ever go down fast and disappear (same as the sub).

RelatedPilot hailed as hero after bird strike disables Russian jet

He is their version of Sully.

Looks like Boris's prime ministership is going down just as fast:

"UK Labour leader lays out plan to stop a no-deal Brexit" by Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka Associated Press, August 14, 2019

LONDON — The leader of Britain’s biggest opposition party on Wednesday urged other opposition forces to unite, topple Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, and prevent Britain from leaving the European Union in October without a divorce agreement.

Isn't that sedition against the Queen?

The move came after Johnson accused anti-Brexit UK politicians of collaborating with the EU to stymie Britain’s exit from the bloc.

That's the rough-and-tumble of British politics!

Jeremy Corbyn, who heads the main opposition Labour Party, said he planned to call a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s government ‘‘at the earliest opportunity when we can be confident of success’’ once Parliament returns from its summer break in September.

In a letter to other opposition leaders and pro-EU Conservative lawmakers, the Labour chief said Parliament should then unite behind a Corbyn-led ‘‘temporary government’’ that would seek a delay to Brexit day — currently scheduled for Oct. 31 — and call a national election.

I like Corbyn because he is one of the few western politicians to recognize what is going on in Palestine; however, I do not like this move and a thwarting of the will of the people by keeping Britain tied to the EU's apron strings.

The plan is feasible under Parliament’s rules, but is likely to face resistance. The smaller opposition parties agree on the need to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but don’t want to put Corbyn — a veteran left-winger whom many distrustin power. Labour, meanwhile, is likely to oppose a politician from any other party heading a national unity government.

I guess he is their Bernie.

Meanwhile, the man who was Britain’s top finance official until three weeks ago accused Johnson’s Conservative government on Wednesday of steering the country toward a damaging no-deal Brexit that isn’t backed by Parliament or the voters.

Actually is backed by the voters, but..... you know. What are facts anyway?

That's why Cameron was outed in the Panama Papers and then had to step down. He allowed the vote to happen. Now May is gone because she couldn't get the deal through.

Philip Hammond, a Conservative legislator who stepped down as Treasury chief just before Johnson became prime minister last month, said ‘‘leaving the EU without a deal would be just as much a betrayal of the referendum result as not leaving at all.’’

Hammond told the BBC that Johnson had moved from a tough negotiating stance to a ‘‘wrecking’’ one by insisting on changes to the withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU that the bloc would not accept.

He said that while he believed Johnson wanted a deal, ‘‘there are other people around him whose agenda is different’’ — an apparent reference to advisers such as Dominic Cummings, one of the architects of the country’s 2016 decision to leave the EU.

So is he backing Corbyn?

Johnson has vowed that Britain will leave the EU on the scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal. He is demanding the EU agree to major changes to the agreement the bloc made with his predecessor, Theresa May. The EU refuses to renegotiate, so a no-deal Brexit appears increasingly likely.

Many economists say that will trigger a recession and cause economic mayhem, with shortages of fresh food and other goods likely as customs checks snarl Britain’s ports.

Look at the frikkin' fear mongering coming from the $elf-$erving economic analy$ts in my pre$$! 

They have no idea what is going to happen, and why is clogged up ports taken as a given?

EU going to be that much of an a$$hole, huh?

Johnson and other Brexit supporters argue that any short-term turbulence will be outweighed by new economic opportunities once Britain leaves the 28-nation bloc and can strike trade deals around the world — notably with the United States. Critics note that the EU accounts for almost half of Britain’s trade and argue that any new trade deals are likely years away.

They are getting in our boat, so to speak.

Hammond criticized the government for perpetuating ‘‘myths’’ that the British people voted for a no-deal Brexit and that leaving the EU without a negotiated settlement would be painless. ‘‘There is no mandate for leaving with no deal,’’ Hammond said. ‘‘It is absurd to suggest that the 52 percent of people that voted to leave the European Union, all voted to leave with no deal when in fact . . . during the referendum campaign there was virtually no mention made by the leaders of that campaign at all of the possibility of leaving with no deal. A no-deal exit will cause significant harm to the UK economy and, potentially, irreparable damage to the union of the United Kingdom,’’ he added.

Look who is perpetuating myths with speculation.

Johnson has refused to rule out suspending Parliament if legislators try to delay or prevent Brexit. Hammond said that would ‘‘provoke a constitutional crisis.’’

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who controls the day-to-day business of Parliament, said he would seek to prevent the prime minister from overriding Parliament. ‘‘If there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or — God forbid — to close down Parliament, that is anathema to me,’’ Bercow told an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in comments reported by the Herald newspaper. ‘‘I will fight with every breath in my body to stop that happening.’’

One wishes they had been so spine solid when Bliar was pushing the dodgy dossier.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday threatened to block any future bilateral trade agreement between the United States and the UK if Brexit puts at risk the accord that brought an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland. ‘‘If Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress,’’ Pelosi said in a statement. ‘‘The peace of the Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be fiercely defended on a bicameral and bipartisan basis in the United States Congress.’’

Isn't that interfering in their politics?

Pelosi’s bid to influence Brexit follows remarks in London by President Trump’s top national security adviser, John Bolton, who said a bilateral trade agreement would be a top priority for the administration after the UK exits the EU and would get ‘‘overwhelming’’ support in the US Congress.

Also on Wednesdy the European Central Bank blasted banks for slow-walking their Brexit preparations, telling them to move additional staff and resources to the European Union in case Britain leaves without a deal on Oct. 31. The central bank said firms have transferred “significantly fewer activities, critical functions and staff” to their EU operations than originally foreseen, according to a statement on Wednesday. The central bank said some banks are falling short of their supervisory expectations and can’t continue to rely so heavily on servicing EU clients from their branches in the UK.

Looks like the bankers are getting ready for those darkening $kies.

What do they know that you do not?


Maybe you should move to New Zealand.

"Police on Sunday were investigating a foiled attack at a mosque near Oslo as attempted terrorism. A gunman in a helmet and body armor opened fire but was overpowered before injuring anyone at the mosque. Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: “This is not supposed to happen in Norway. Norway should be safe. All places of worship shall be safe.” Three people were in the mosque, al-Noor Islamic Center in Baerum, preparing for Sunday’s celebration of the Eid al-Adha holiday, when a gunman opened fire, the authorities said. The suspect, who has not revealed his motives to police, recently wrote in an online forum that the gunman who killed more than 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand was “a saint” and wrote: “It’s been fun. Valhalla awaits.”

Maybe not.

"Malaysian police said Thursday there were no signs of foul play in the death of a 15-year-old London girl who mysteriously disappeared from a nature resort, with an autopsy showing she succumbed to intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress. Negeri Sembilan state police Chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said the autopsy found no evidence the teenager had been abducted or raped. She was estimated to have been dead two or three days when her naked body was found, he said. Mohamad said some bruises were on the girl’s legs but wouldn’t cause her death....."

I guess there is no end to the level of bullshit we are expected to believe, be it this, Epstein, you name it!

It's reached the level of such offensive insult that I no longer believe any version of anything in my pre$$, no matter what it happens to be. The official stories just don't read right, and they don't make any sense except in the world of preconceived and contrived events that are then distorted and amplified to further push the ruling cla$$ and Zioni$t agenda.

"An initiative designed to tackle Britain’s persistent problem with violent knife crimes is being described as racist by critics after the government began placing antiknife messages on fried-chicken boxes nationwide. Critics of the campaign, announced by Britain’s Home Office on Wednesday, have said it leans into an offensive stereotype about fried-chicken consumers and targets a segment of the population that has been demonized by the knife crime trend. The campaign will see more than 300,000 chicken boxes with the anticrime message distributed in fast-food restaurants across England and Wales....." 

See what happens when you take away the guns?

At least you can catch the football match at Fenway this weekend. 


At daybreak, Hong Kong was long gone as a lead today, taken over by Israel and Iran:

"Gibraltar releases Iranian supertanker despite US plea" by Erin Cunningham and Adam Taylor Washington Post, August 15, 2019

Gibraltar’s government on Thursday released an Iranian supertanker detained on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions on oil exports to Syria, authorities said, in a move likely to soothe tensions with Iran even as it drew opposition from the Trump administration.

Authorities said the Justice Department, which declined to comment, had ‘‘applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations,’’ a move that would kick-start separate legal proceedings.

Despite the plea, Gibraltar’s supreme court granted the government’s request to free the vessel and its crew.

If nothing else, they proved they are not totally subordinate to the demands of the master.

Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, said he had met with Iranian officials in London last month to de-escalate the crisis.

Kind of went behind the U.S.'s back, huh?

He said the petition from the Justice Department would be assessed under what is known as mutual legal assistance, where two or more countries agree to formally exchange information or gather evidence. Those authorities ‘‘will make an objective, legal determination of that request,’’ Picardo said.

It was unclear how the US appeal would affect the ship’s status, but the developments Thursday added to the month-long saga over the tanker, whose seizure raised the political temperature in the Persian Gulf region, a venue for tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies.

Thankfully, temperatures were lowered before today.

Iranian officials threatened British shipping assets in the gulf, and last month Iranian naval forces seized the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz. ‘‘There is no comparison or linkage between Iran’s unacceptable and illegal seizure of, and attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and the enforcement of EU Syria sanctions by the Government of Gibraltar,’’ a spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement on the Gibraltar court’s decision Thursday.

‘‘Iran must abide by the assurances they have provided’’ regarding the ship’s travel to Syria, whose government is a key Iranian ally. ‘‘We will not stand by and allow Iran — or anyone — to bypass vital EU sanctions on a regime that has deployed chemical weapons against its own people,’’ the spokesman said, referring to the Syrian government.

(Blog editor just shakes head as he conflates everything for the larger purpose and plan. Besides it's just bluster from a long dead empire that is now a toady lieutenant in its former colony's empire)

The United States has embarked on a campaign to isolate Iran, imposing harsh sanctions on its economy and aggressively targeting Iranian oil exports. The Trump administration says the measures are designed to pressure Iran to negotiate a broader deal with the United States over its ballistic missiles, nuclear activities, and support for proxy forces in the region.

Some would consider the sanctions as economic warfare, while others would not.

Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers in 2015, an agreement that curbed its atomic energy activities in return for widespread sanctions relief.

At least they said atomic energy activities rather than nuclear program. 

Commenting on the Grace 1 in a tweet Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the US government had ‘‘attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.’’

‘‘This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law,’’ said Zarif, who is also sanctioned by the United States.

Maybe House Democrats should subpoena him!


Hong Kong showed up on page A5 today:

"Trump: ‘Hong Kong is not helping’ in trade war with China" by Daniel Victor New York Times, August 15, 2019


HONG KONG — In his most extensive comments on the months of unrest in Hong Kong, President Trump said Wednesday that China should “humanely” settle the situation before a trade deal is reached.

His comments, delivered on Twitter, for the first time tied the fate of pro-democracy protesters to a trade deal with China, a top administration priority.

That is a horrible move given the coming stock collapse and recession, but it does confirm what I have been typing for many, many weeks now. The Hong Kong protests IS a U.S. operation!

Trump praised President Xi Jinping of China as “a great leader” and suggested a “personal meeting” could help solve the crisis in Hong Kong. He also said, “China is not our problem, though Hong Kong is not helping.”

I admire his patience.

“Of course China wants to make a deal,” he said. “Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”

He reiterated his support for Xi on Thursday, saying that if the Chinese leader met personally with the protesters, “there would be a happy and enlightened ending to the Hong Kong problem.”

And put himself at risk of assassination? 

No thanks!

Why don't you call off the CIA dogs instead, or is it as I suspect and he knows nothing of what his administration is doing?

Although the protests have been going on for more than two months, as demonstrators have filled streets and jammed airport terminals in actions that have frequently ended with violent police crackdowns, Trump had all but ignored the situation, offering tepid, short statements. His comments Wednesday stopped short of praising or supporting the protesters, as both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have done, and he did not explain what he meant by “humanely” working with Hong Kong.

Congre$$ being behind them 100% is another confirmation of what we are looking at.

One day earlier, Trump took no stance when asked by reporters. “The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation,” he said Tuesday. “Very tough. We’ll see what happens. But I’m sure it’ll work out.”

He added: “I hope it works out for everybody, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed.”

Yeah, as do we all (I think).

He had previously called the protests “riots,” repeating language used by the Chinese government that is strongly disputed by protesters, and said, “That’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China.”

Well, it is part of China now, and Trump must be as much a tool of Xi as he is Putin, huh?

The White House’s restraint on the issue has stood out in Washington, where the protests have been the source of a rare sight: broad bipartisan agreement.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader; Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader; and Senator Marco Rubio are among the Republicans who have put out full-throated statements in support of the protests. Across the aisle, Nancy Pelosi, the House majority leader; Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader; and most of the Democratic nominees for president have done the same.

The protesters, initially stirred in opposition to a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China, have expanded their demands to include universal suffrage, an independent investigation of the police’s handling of the demonstrations, and amnesty for hundreds of arrested protesters. The protests have been mostly peaceful but have occasionally turned violent, including a chaotic scene at the airport Tuesday when demonstrators attacked two men from mainland China, including a journalist.

Yeah, the protesters are now begging forgiveness!

The police have routinely used tear gas, pepper spray, and batons to disperse protesters. Hong Kong officials have resisted an independent commission of inquiry into police tactics, some of which have been condemned by international groups including the UN Human Rights office, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. The government asserts that an investigation already underway by a police watchdog is adequate, but critics say the body is staffed with pro-government figures.

Oh, the Jounited Nations, Jouman Rights Watch, and Amnesty want an investigation, huh?

Meanwhile there is nothing but silence when puppet western governments do the same to their own, nor is there any timely outcry when it comes to Palestine.

Nor have officials indicated any willingness to submit to the protesters’ demands, increasing fears that the impasse could lead to a bloody, Tiananmen-style crackdown by Beijing. Trump tweeted Tuesday that the Chinese government had moved troops to the border with Hong Kong and encouraged everyone to be “calm and safe.”

They are trying to goad the Chinese into just such a thing, but the Chinese have learned a lot in 30 years and are far too cagy to fall for it.


The Globe says this is no time for the US president to go wobbly on democracy even if the situation is almost too hot to handle (the 5G is not working as promised).

"As recession concerns mount, dozens of central banks are cutting rates" by Jeanna Smialek and Karl Russell New York Times, August 15, 2019


More than 30 central banks around the world have cut interest rates this year, as countries move to shore up their economies amid rising concerns over global growth, trade conflicts, and the threat of a messy Brexit.

Last week alone, India, Thailand, and New Zealand unexpectedly lowered rates or cut by more than expected. Mexico on Thursday surprised some economists by cutting its key lending rate for the first time since 2014, and as President Trump admonishes the Federal Reserve to continue dropping its benchmark interest rate, many of the world’s largest economies have also begun reducing borrowing costs or are considering doing so.


"Mexico’s central bank said Thursday it was lowering its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to 8 percent, citing slowing global economic activity and tensions including the trade war between the United States and China. The drop from 8.25 percent was reportedly the first rate cut by the Bank of Mexico in five years. In a statement, the bank said ‘‘the risks that the global economy faces have increased’’ and also mentioned commercial disputes, the ‘‘disorderly’’ Brexit process, and deterioration of ‘‘some political and geopolitical risks.’’

That's when I started running for the hills.

The moves collectively end an era when major central banks hoped, and in some cases tried, to return low rates and large balance sheets — hallmarks of recovery efforts after the Great Recession — back to normal levels.

What they are really saying is the "Great Recession" never really ended!

Now policymakers are reorienting their efforts toward steeling their economies against recession risks. The last time so many of the world’s major economies cut rates or considered stimulus in unison was during the financial crisis, according to data from Refinitiv, but there is a danger: This could also tip off a monetary policy race to the bottom.

Yeah, remember Obama's stimuloot program.

Now they are talking about re$urrecting it?

Rate cuts could increasingly focus on keeping currencies cheap. A cheaper currency allows a country to export more goods and services while making imports more expensive, in effect helping to prop up domestic prices.

That always means the money is worth less!

“Increasingly, we may be looking at a world where the exchange rate becomes the objective of monetary policy, of interest rates,” said David Woo, head of global interest rates and foreign exchange research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “There’s no growth, there’s no inflation, so you can justify it — we’re weakening the currency to import inflation.”

Anybody hear a flu$hing sound (as the $y$tem goes down the toilet)?

Central banks have always watched currency levels, and their interest rate moves affect them, but most have avoided explicitly tying monetary decisions to foreign exchange out of fear of being called manipulators, which could bring geopolitical risks.

The Trump administration just accused that of China!

The lines are blurry, but that designation is usually reserved for political authorities that directly buy and sell currencies to change their prices and gain a competitive edge. The United States labeled China a manipulator last week, but as ways to stimulate domestic activity with monetary policy look increasingly tapped out, less explicit attempts to guide currency prices — by changing rates and buying bonds — might become a more important part of central bankers’ playbooks.

Yeah, ten-hut, but.... but..... hike.

Jeremy Stein, a former Fed governor, warned that if central banks increasingly competed on foreign exchange, the risk fell short of a full-blown currency war but could touch off a “sort of competitive easing” — a rush to cut rates first to reap the currency benefits.

In a world with already low interest rates, “the international environment becomes more important, because depreciation of the currency is the one remaining option,” said Joseph Gagnon, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and formerly the Fed. “And surely that has problems, because currency depreciation is a zero-sum game: Anything you get, the other guy loses.”

So much for growth.

Using rates to control currency levels could prove costly. Temporary benefits, like an increase in exports or inflation stabilization, might take the pressure off policymakers to enact longer-term economic changes, like industrial reorganization and work force training.

Like they really care about those last two things. The factories move to where labor is cheapest and the ruling cla$$ is furiously trying to get AI up and running.

The European Central Bank is expected to cut rates further into negative territory next month. Woo of Bank of America said he saw such moves as targeting currency, given that the demand-stoking benefits of negative rates are widely disputed.

Negative rates means they charge the bank for holding on to money, and how long before they start charging negative rates on your savings -- thereby charging you for allowing them to hold your money, as opposed to the chump change interest you now receive. The thievery is no different than any mob bo$$.

Most major central banks — including the eurozone’s — are free of politics and have not engaged in outright manipulation, economists say. They focus on domestic inflation goals, which currency levels can, but do not always, drive.

More NYT bull$hit! 

They pretty much control politics!

China, where the central bank answers to the government, does have a history of intervening for competitive reasons, most economists agree, though the International Monetary Fund says the price of the yuan is reasonable under current economic conditions. That makes the White House’s move to label China a manipulator mostly symbolic, because the IMF would play a key role in making China realign its currency.

The IMF isn't much of a threat without the U.S. and Pentagon behind it; however, what I are struck by is that, unlike the private consortium of banks that are the Federal Reserve, the Chinese government controls its banks. In that way, they can play a supervisory role rather than the subordinate role the government plays in the U.S. If nothing else, it limits the corruption and means the national interest will be looked after.

The Trump administration has been waging a trade war with Beijing and announced early this month that it would extend tariffs to essentially all Chinese imports, though the timeline for part of that escalation has been delayed to December. Further tariffs could weigh down China’s already slowing growth and increase the risks of a global recession as manufacturing takes a turn for the worse and uncertainty causes businesses to hold off on investment and expansion.

Data released Wednesday indicated that the German economy, which relies heavily on manufacturing, was hurtling toward recession and that Chinese factory production is expanding at the slowest pace in nearly two decades.

Those mounting concerns might prompt the Fed to make rate cuts beyond its quarter-point move in July, but it is unlikely to bow to Trump’s pressure to cut them swiftly to lower the value of the dollar, which has been strong but relatively stable for years.....


Some are asking if there is an agenda-pushing quality as to why the mainstream media is suddenly full of stories about the coming recession

I mean, it is all the talk:

"US industrial production fell 0.2 percent in July, as factory activity slumped in a worrisome sign for the economy. The Federal Reserve said Thursday that the overall decline was caused primarily by a 0.4 percent drop last month in manufacturing production. Output decreased for autos, fabricated metals, wood products, textiles, and plastics and rubber products. Over the past 12 months, factory production has fallen 0.5 percent. Manufacturers’ struggles reflect a global softening in growth that has been magnified by President Trump’s use of tariffs to escalate a trade war with China."

Time for Americans to go shopping:

"Americans spent more at retail stores and restaurants in July, a sign that concerns over weakening economic growth and a persistent trade war that have roiled financial markets have yet to dampen consumer confidence. Retail sales rose a healthy 0.7 percent last month after a 0.3 percent gain in June, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Online retailers, grocery stores, clothing retailers, and electronics and appliance stores all reported strong gains. Consumer spending, the primary driver of the US economy, appears healthy even as other sectors of the economy, such as business investment, have weakened amid growing uncertainty over the US-China trade conflict."

I think Americans are without a doubt the most lied to people on Earth.

Want to go over to Penney's?

"Shares of J.C. Penney surged after the ailing department store cut its quarterly losses in half and announced that it would begin selling used clothing to staunch fading sales. Retailers have been searching for ways to get people back into its stores in the decade since the global economic downturn altered consumer behavior....."

I'm sorry, I don't think becoming the Salvation Army is a way for a penny stock to recapture pa$t glory.

Oddly, Alibaba is soaring despite a slowing economy in China while Walmart soothed investor jitters, but is it already too late?

Found on the back page of the front section:

"India’s Modi defends Kashmir policy amid clash with Pakistan" by Sheikh Saaliq and Emily Schmall Associated Press, August 15, 2019

I did note how the coverage had been dry the last couple days.

NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday used an Independence Day speech to defend his decision to strip Kashmir of its special status as about 7 million residents of the disputed region endured an unprecedented security lockdown and communications blackout for an 11th day.

There has been zero fallout.

Pakistan’s security forces, meanwhile, said ‘‘unprovoked firing’’ by India along the militarized Line of Control in the region killed three Pakistani soldiers and two civilians in separate incidents. Pakistan said it returned fire, killing five Indian soldiers. The Indian army said there were no Indian casualties.

They were the first reported clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals since New Delhi changed the status of Kashmir, escalating regional tensions. The two countries have fought two wars over the territory.

Modi said Kashmir’s previous status — some political autonomy and a ban on outsiders buying land and taking public sector jobs — had fueled a movement for separatism in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region that is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The UN Security Council scheduled a rare meeting on Kashmir on Friday in response to requests by China and Pakistan, UN officials said, adding that the closed consultations could be the first council session on Kashmir since the late 1990s, if not earlier.

Well, at least you can see how the WWIII alliances are being formed, and where will be the WWIII battle lines.

Pakistanis and residents of Pakistani-administered Kashmir on Thursday observed what they called ‘‘the Black Day’’ in solidarity with Kashmiris in the Indian-controlled portion.

Let's hope it's not a Black Friday on the stock market.



"Hundreds of people protested an unprecedented security crackdown and clashed with police Friday in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as India’s government said it was constantly reviewing the situation in the disputed region and the restrictions there will be removed over the next few days. The UN Security Council met on Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in decades, and Pakistan’s ambassador to the world body said the session showed that people in the region ‘‘may be locked up . . . but their voices were heard today.’’ The Security Council took no action during the closed meeting, which was called for by China and Pakistan. A heavy troop presence and a near-constant curfew and communications blackout remained in place in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir for a 12th day. The government imposed the lockdown to avoid a violent reaction to its decision on Aug. 5 to downgrade the autonomy of the Muslim-majority Kashmir’s autonomy. Both India and Pakistan claim the Himalayan region, which is divided between the nuclear-armed rivals. The decision by the Hindu-led government in New Delhi has raised tensions with Pakistan and touched off anger in the Indian-controlled region."

Related: China’s Belt Road Initiative Blocked By India Taking Kashmir

So that is what this is really all about.

"You’re not the only one confused about where the economy is headed. Just look at the stock market, where perplexed investors have been sending stocks on a wild ride in August, and there could be plenty more where that came from. Two notoriously volatile months for stocks lie just ahead. Stocks around the world jumped Friday to cap another tumultuous week. Investors have been frantically trying to rejigger their predictions about whether President Donald Trump’s trade war and slowing economies around the world will drag the United States into a recession......"

"Fed survey finds tariffs pushing up prices, pinching profits" by Alister Bull Bloomberg, August 16, 2019

A new survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found a growing conviction among businesses that President Trump’s tariffs were hitting their bottom line.

That’s the sort of concern that officials worry will sap US economic growth and helps explain why they reduced interest rates last month for the first time since 2008. Fear that an escalating trade war will trigger a recession has roiled financial markets and increased bets that the Fed will cut rates again when it meets next month.

Supplemental questions posed in the August editions of the New York Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey and Business Leaders Survey showed a clear increase in the number of respondents who reported tariffs raising input costs.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell cited trade policy uncertainty when officials cuts rates on July 31. The central bank’s Beige Book of anecdotal reports compiled by its 12 regional branches has repeatedly highlighted that business confidence was being dented by trade policy uncertainty, potentially delaying investment.

The New York Fed survey findings also chime with a report Friday from Deere & Co. that it is seeking cost savings amid a 24 percent fall in operating profit from its agriculture machinery unit, which was hit with higher production costs and lower shipping volumes. That makes sense, given that US farmers complain that they’ve been big losers in the trade war.....

Finally, something that makes sense it the paper (pfffffft!)


"Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police marched and practiced crowd-control tactics at a sports complex in Shenzhen across from Hong Kong on Friday, in what some interpreted as a threat against pro-democracy protesters in the semiautonomous territory. The sound of marching boots and synchronized shouts echoed from the grounds. Chinese state media have only said that the Shenzhen exercises were planned earlier and were not directly related to the unrest in Hong Kong though. From a distance, police could be seen conducting drills in military fatigues, using shields, poles, and other riot-control gear. In one exercise, two groups marched in formation with those in front raising shields as if to protect themselves from projectiles. Others behind held red flags and banners.  Outside, dozens of armored carriers and trucks sat in the parking lot of the Shenzhen Bay Stadium, close to a bridge linking mainland China to Hong Kong. weekend of protests began Friday night with a university student-led ‘‘power to the people’’ rally in Chater Garden, a public square in the financial district. A pro-democracy march is planned for Saturday along with a separate pro-government ‘‘Save Hong Kong’’ rally, ahead of a major pro-democracy rally called for Sunday. Police have denied permission for the march on Sunday, but protesters have ignored such denials in the past. China has pressured foreign and Hong Kong companies to support the ruling Communist Party’s position against the protesters. The CEO of Cathay Pacific Airways, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent companies, resigned Friday following pressure by Beijing on the carrier over participation by some of its employees in the anti-government protests. Cathay Pacific said Rupert Hogg resigned ‘‘to take responsibility’’ following ‘‘recent events.’’ The company chairman, John Slosar, said in a statement that the airline needed new management because events had ‘‘called into question’’ its commitment to safety and security. On Friday morning, Alain Robert of France, who has been dubbed ‘‘spiderman’’ for his unauthorized climbs of skyscrapers, hung a banner appealing for peace as he scaled the 62-story Cheung Kong Center, a landmark Hong Kong building that is the base for property tycoon Li Ka-shing’s business empire. The banner showed the Chinese and Hong Kong flags over a handshake and a small yellow sun with a smiley face. ‘‘The banner is to give joy and smile to the people of Hong Kong,’’ he told the AP as he sat in a taxi about to leave for his climb. He added that he didn’t want to get ‘‘mixed up in the political situation.’’ Robert, 57, was taken to a police station afterward. It wasn’t immediately clear if he would be charged. He was banned in 2017 from returning to Hong Kong for one year after climbing another building....."

(Blog editor dejectedly drops head and frowns) 

Looks like the fucking stunt is over, sorry!

What is strange is no mention of tear gas use or protests in Palestine.

"The Trump administration is moving forward with an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, American officials said Friday. The move is certain to further anger China at a time when a long-running trade war between Washington and Beijing has upended relations between the world’s two largest economies and contributed to stock market turmoil. The State Department told Congress Thursday night, right after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had signed a memo approving the sale, officials said. Congress is not expected to object. For weeks, lawmakers from both parties had accused the administration of delaying the sale to avoid jeopardizing trade negotiations or to use it as a bargaining chip. The sale of 66 jets to Taiwan would be the largest single arms package transaction between the United States and the democratic, self-governing island in years. The jets would be the fourth package of arms sales to Taiwan from the Trump administration. The third was a $2.2 billion package that consisted mainly of 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks......"

They are being led like sheep to slaughter.

"North Korea spits out insults, launches missiles, and rejects talks with South" by Simon Denyer Washington Post, August 16, 2019

TOKYO — North Korea spat out insults at South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, rejected the idea of dialogue with Seoul, and launched two more missiles into the sea, in the latest display of rage at joint US-South Korea military exercises.

The volley of saber-rattling was another slap in the face for Moon, who spoke optimistically in a Liberation Day speech a day earlier of his plans to ‘‘solidify denuclearization’’ of North Korea, initiate a ‘‘peace economy,’’ and lay the foundations for the unification of the Korean Peninsula by 2045.

Pyongyang’s response: its sixth missile launch in a little over three weeks and a barrage of insults at Moon over the military exercises.

‘‘His open talk about ‘dialogue’ between the north and the south under such situation raises a question as to whether he has proper thinking faculty,’’ Pyongyang said in a statement from an unnamed spokesperson for its Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.

The statement, released by the Korean Central News Agency, also complained about drones and fighters purchased from the United States, and plans announced this week to upgrade South Korea’s missile capabilities.

‘‘What is clear is that all of them are aimed at destroying the DPRK,’’ the statement said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang says the exercises break promises made by Moon and President Trump, but experts say its petulance has been encouraged by Trump, who has defended Pyongyang’s right to test missiles, denigrated Moon, and indicated his own opposition to the military exercises because he believes they are costing the United States too much.

The nature of the North Korean tests Friday wasn’t immediately clear, but Pyongyang’s message was clear: Moon has no right to talk about peace while conducting military exercises.....


Here is someone else he will be encouraging, right?

"Trump plans Friday meeting to arrange for withdrawal from Afghanistan" by Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, Anne Gearan and Philip Rucker Washington Post, August 16, 2019

US negotiators have made significant advances in recent talks with the Taliban, and the two sides are close to announcing agreement on an initial US troop withdrawal, along with plans to start direct discussions between the militants and the Afghan government, according to US and foreign officials.

President Trump planned to meet Friday with Cabinet officials and other senior national security advisers for a briefing by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief US envoy to the talks. A US official said Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would also attend the meeting at Trump’s New Jersey golf resort. An initial withdrawal would include roughly 5,000 of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

In exchange, the Taliban would agree to renounce Al Qaeda and to prevent it from fund-raising, recruiting, training, and planning in areas under Taliban control.

A White House official cautioned that the meeting might not immediately result in a decision or announcement.

Meanwhile, a bomb exploded Friday at a mosque in Pakistan frequented by the Taliban’s supreme leader, killing at least one of his brothers and several others, Afghan officials said.

The agreement is also expected to include a statement of willingness by the Taliban to sit down with representatives of President Ashraf Ghani’s Afghan government to develop a political framework for peace, something that has long been a sticking point in the US-Taliban talks.

As technical experts wound up the latest round of US-Taliban talks in Doha, Qatar, last week, Khalilzad traveled to Germany, which is in charge of shepherding the inter-Afghan negotiations, and to Oslo, where those discussions are likely to be held.

Throughout the US-Taliban talks, critics in both Kabul and Washington have questioned US willingness to bypass the Afghan government in its eagerness to meet Trump’s insistence on withdrawal.

The Taliban have not publicly expressed any change in their refusal to negotiate with Ghani, but US officials have said throughout the months of negotiations that any phased withdrawal agreement would be explicitly linked to the start of inter-Afghan talks.

Once the agreement is announced, US officials expect the two Afghan sides to move directly into talks. The agreement is also expected to reference a cease-fire as part of the initial round of those negotiations, although it is unlikely to lead to an immediate halt to the fighting, according to the officials, who spoke about the status of the closed-door negotiations on the condition of anonymity.

It is anticipated that the Afghan talks would develop a road map for Taliban inclusion in government and would address matters including the role of women in Afghanistan and other social issues.

Assuming the talks continue as outlined, discussions between the Afghan sides would also consider the extent to which the United States military could maintain a residual counterterrorism presence in Afghanistan, something that many in the administration, and Congress, believe is imperative.

So we are not really leaving.

Following the initial US withdrawal, however, the bulk of American troops would leave within about 18 months. Germany and Italy, which also have troops in Afghanistan under NATO auspices, would expect to time their own withdrawals to the US departure, officials said.

Amid numerous reports of military progress or imminent peace throughout the 18-year war, all sides cautioned that hopes of announcing a deal before the end of August could fall apart or be delayed. Khalilzad, who arrived in Washington late Monday, expects to return to Doha, where his Taliban counterparts will report on their own leadership consultations.

You needn't worry, because after 18 years of the same regurgitated, rehashed shit, my hopes were not up anyway.

US officials are hoping that the Afghan parties, once they have agreed to meet, will jointly call for a delay in Afghanistan’s presidential election, scheduled for Sept. 28.

In public statements, Ghani — running for a new term — has rejected any delay, and last week said the vote was ‘‘vital’’ to the nation. Ghani’s chief challenger, his former national security adviser Hanif Atmar, has dropped out of the race. Others among the 16 candidates challenging Ghani have said the election must be delayed whether or not a viable agreement is announced.

One candidate, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former warlord and leader of the Hezb-i-Islami party, told supporters at a campaign event Friday that the Ghani government is ‘‘weak’’ and will ‘‘collapse’’ if US forces leave.

So he is arguing for the U.S. to stay, huh? 

What an ace in the hole!

Some in Congress are expected to object to the deal, questioning whether the Taliban, whose military position and control of territory is now better than it has been since the start of the war in 2001, can be trusted to break relations with Al Qaeda. There are also concerns that dissent within Taliban ranks over any deal will force some fighters to break ranks and move to join a growing Islamic State presence in Afghanistan.

Oh, I think the Taliban can be trusted to shun Al-CIA-Duh. 

That's why the CIA created ISIS™.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, responding to initial reports of a deal, raised the trust question in a statement. ‘‘To trust the Taliban to control Al Qaeda’’ and other militant groups in Afghanistan ‘‘as a replacement for a US counterterrorism force would be a bigger mistake than Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal,’’ he said. 

Why is he dragging Iran into this?

Such an agreement ‘‘is not a peace deal. Instead, it is paving the way for another attack on the American homeland and attacks against American interests around the world. I hope President Trump and his team make sound and sustainable decisions about radical Islamist threats emanating from Afghanistan, the place where 9/11 originated,’’ Graham said.

Well, we have all been warned.