Saturday, 16 February 2019

First US Military Planes Land Near Venezuela Border With Aid In Defiance Of Maduro


The Pentagon is now publicizing its first military airlift of Venezuelan aid delivered to the Colombian town of Cucuta on Saturday, which sits on the border shared by the two countries, despite embattled President Nicolas Maduro vowing to keep such "unauthorized" aid out by stationing troops along the border.
Washington is using aid delivery to undermine the socialist Maduro government in Caracas, which has blasted US-led attempts to foment coup and fuel unrest.
AP photograph of C-17 landing in Colombia on Saturday, Feb. 16
AP photographs and video confirmed that two of three scheduled Air Force C-17 cargo planes that left Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida landed at the border city on Saturday. The town has become a staging ground of sorts for aid that supporters of US-backed opposition head Juan Guaido say they intend to distribute.
“This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last,” USAID Administrator Mark Green told the AP while on the tarmac in Cucuta receiving the aid. “More is on the way,” he promised.
According to the AP it's certainly not the first shipment of official US humanitarian aid; however, it is the first highly significant and symbolic moment it was brought in on massive US Air Force cargo planes.
The AP noted:
Commercial planes had been used for earlier shipments of aid, which is aimed at dramatizing the economic crisis — including hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine — gripping Venezuela. Critics say last year’s re-election was fraudulent, making Maduro’s second term illegal.
“We are saving lives with these airplanes,” an exiled politician said to be coordinating the international aid effort for Guaido, Lestor Toledo, told the AP. However, interestingly the report itself highlighted that Washington is seeking to exploit the optics of Venezuela's economic collapse overseen by an inept regime through the humanitarian shipments.
Maduro, meanwhile, has slammed the "political show" surrounding the issue of aid delivery. “They hang us, steal our money and then say ‘here, grab these crumbs’ and make a global show out of it,” Maduro told reporters on Thursday. “With dignity we say ‘No to the global show.’ Whoever wants to help Venezuela is welcome, but we have enough capacity to pay for everything that we need.”
Saturday's military flights are reported have "tons" of cargo which includes high-energy food items and hygiene kits, and medical supplies — enough for 25,000 people according to the AP.
Reuters reported earlier this week that US humanitarian supplies and cargo are currently amassing along a Colombian border town, but there doesn't appear to be confirmation that any of it has entered Venezuela:
Senior U.S. officials last week heralded their country’s efforts to move aid to Venezuela’s doorstep, after U.S. supplies were among those delivered to the first collection point established, in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.
There has been no sign of the aid that is being stockpiled in Cucuta leaving the warehouse.
Brazil is also reportedly being used as an aid transit point, however, Brazilian authorities have yet to comment on any specific shipping points.
Guaido has over the past week personally appealed to the military to allow the aid in, while also issuing a general amnesty order for any military officer who defects from Maduro, something which the opposition currently doesn't have the power to enforce.
 
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Malaysian Airlines MH17 Brought Down by Ukrainian Military Aircraft. The BBC Refutes its Own Lies?



In-depth Report:
This week, BBC reporter Riam Dalati confirmed that last year’s “Assad sarin attack” on Douma was indeed “staged”. After a “six month investigation” he concludes,
“I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged.”
FLASHBACK TO April 2016.  BBC Documentary on Malaysian Airlines Crash MH17. How the BBC Refutes its Own Lies
***
Article first published by GR on April 26, 2016
***
The BBC has announced the release of a documentary on the crash of Malaysian airlines MH17, which will be broadcast on May 3 [2016]”:
“On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed, killing 298 passengers in the worst air disaster for two decades.
Alarmingly, the devastating crash occurred just four months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Is this just a coincidence? The cause of the crash has been focus of a host of conspiracy theories, many of which involve Russia, Ukraine and the CIA.
The official investigation report into MH17 flight argues that only a powerful ground-to-air missile could be responsible. Yet, there are eyewitness accounts of other aircrafts seen flying next to MH17 close to impact. To further fuel the conspiracies, Russia and Ukraine blame each other but both countries are unable to provide all the critical radar data from that day.
Family members do not trust the official explanations and there is a long way to go to bring about justice for the victims. This programme tracks down eye witnesses, and speaks with secret intelligence sources to try to sort fact from fiction. Don’t miss this compelling Conspiracy Files unfold to see whether the mystery can be unravelled.” ( See BBC notice here),
In an unusual twist, the description of the BBC documentary (above) while tacitly refuting the official narrative, also refutes earlier BBC reports pointing to shrapnel from a missile attack (28 July 2014) which followed an earlier controversial BBC report also in July 2014 pointing to the downing of MH17 by an aircraft. The latter video BBC report was taken down and suppressed by the BBC.
According to Australia News in a review of the forthcoming [May 2016] BBC production, the Kiev regime is identified as the culprit:
A CONTROVERSIAL new documentary will investigate claims that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukraine fighter jet, instead of a Russian missile.In a new BBC documentary titled ‘The Conspiracy Files: Who Shot Down MH17?’, eyewitnesses will share their accounts of how they saw the aircraft being downed by a nearby fighter jet.
“There are eyewitness accounts of other aircraft seen flying next to MH17 close to impact,” a statement from the BBC said.
The report also suggests that:
“The documentary is also set to analyse the possibility that the downing of the jet was a CIA plot to pin the blame on Russia.”
The geopolitical implications of these statements are potentially dynamite.
They put Washington on the defensive.
What can we expect from the US State Department and John Kerry:
“Sorry, President Putin, we made a mistake, yeah it was Ukraine which brought down the aircraft and we blamed the Russians, sorry for the economic sanctions, we got our countries mixed up”
Highly unlikely.
Already Britain’s tabloids including the BBC are saying there are SEVERAL THEORIES. According to the Daily Mail, the allegation concerning the role of the CIA:
“was put forward by private investigator, Sergey Sokolov, who claimed that the CIA were helped by the Ukrainian secret service and Dutch security service, to place the bombs on the plane in Holland.”
He said: ‘This terrorist act was a pretext for firstly intensifying sanctions on Russia, secondly to show the world that Russia is a barbarian country and thirdly to strengthen the presence of Nato in Europe, particularly Ukraine.’
In all likelihood, Washington will either remain mum or casually dismiss the BBC documentary, while upholding its ongoing hostility towards Moscow.
While the BBC has announced that the documentary refutes the official story as contained in the latest Dutch safety board report (i.e to the effect that MH17 was brought down by a BUK surface to air missile), we will have to wait for the release on May 3, BBC TV Channel 2 to get the full story, including the innuendos. the conspiracy theories, etc.
It is worth noting that according to former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay in a July 2014 statement “the downing of the Malaysia Airines jet could constitute a war crime”.
Analysis
At Global Research, from the outset we have documented extensively the downing of MH17 by a military aircraft. It is important that the underlying record be fully assessed.
Our archive of 100+ Global Research articles and reports on the downing of MH17.  confirms that Malaysian Airlines MH17 was not brought down by a BUK surface to air missile. It was brought down by a military aircraft. This was confirmed in our early reports shortly after the downing of MH17.
 
1. Traffic Control Data: All Aircraft in the Vicinity, Ukraine Su-25 military aircraft within proximity of MH17
SU-25 jet (image right)
Between 5pm-6pm Moscow Time on July 17th, the following aircraft have been identified in the general vicinity of MH17 on its course heading to its fatal destination of Grabovo:
1. Boeing 772 – traveling southeast from Copenhagen to Singapore at 5:17pm
2. Boeing 778 – traveling southeast from Paris to Taipei at 5:24pm
3. Boeing 778 – traveling northwest from Delhi to Berlin circa 5:20pm
4. Boeing 777 – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at 5:17pm
5. Su-25 Ukrainian Fighter Jet appears on radar, trailing MH17 at same altitude, est. 4km behind it at 5:21pm
See 21 Century Wire Global Research Report
2. Testimony of Spanish Air Traffic Controller in Kiev (Real time Report)
The presence of the Ukrainian military jet was confirmed by Spanish air traffic controller “Carlos” at Kiev Borispol airport shortly after the plane was shot down, as well as eyewitnesses in Donetsk. (see also suppressed BBC TV report below, interviews of witnesses in Donesk)
The Spanish air traffic controller documented the event on Twitter as it happened. He claimed it was not an accident, that the Ukrainian authorities shot down MH17 and were trying to “make it look like an attack by pro-Russians” . His Twitter account was closed down shortly after the tragedy. Although his account has yet to be fully corroborated, some of his claims have been confirmed by Malaysian Airlines and the Russian authorities. (Global Research, July 26, 2016)
Evidence pointing to a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet in the same frame as MH17, also validates the testimony of ‘Carlos’, an ATC contractor in Kiev. ETN received information from an air traffic controller (Borispol Airport) in Kiev on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17:
“This Kiev air traffic controller is a citizen of Spain and was working in the Ukraine. He was taken off duty as a civil air-traffic controller along with other foreigners immediately after a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine killing 295 passengers and crew on board. The air traffic controller suggested in a private evaluation and basing it on military sources in Kiev, that the Ukrainian military was behind this shoot down. Radar records were immediately confiscated after it became clear a passenger jet was shot down. Military air traffic controllers in internal communication acknowledged the military was involved, and some military chatter said they did not know where the order to shoot down the plane originated from. Obviously it happened after a series of errors, since the very same plane was escorted by two Ukrainian fighter jets until 3 minutes before it disappeared from radar.”  (21 Century, Global Research Ibid, emphasis added)
Carlos’ assessment was also confirmed in several media interviews, see his  interview with RT (Spanish Air Controller @ Kiev Borispol Airport: Ukraine Military Shot Down Boeing MH#17)
3. Machine Gun Like Holes in the Cockpit
According to the report of German pilot and airlines expert Peter Haisenko, the MH17 Boeing 777 was not brought down by a missile. What he observed from the available photos were perforations of the cockpit:
 The facts speak clear and loud and are beyond the realm of speculation: The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile. (Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile” Global Research, July 30, 2014)

[click image right to enlarge]
Based on detailed analysis Peter Haisenko reached  the conclusion that the MH17 was not downed by a missile attack:

This aircraft was not hit by a missile in the central portion. The destruction is limited to the cockpit area. Now you have to factor in that this part is constructed of specially reinforced material
4. The OSCE Mission
It is worth noting that the initial statements by OSCE observers (July 31, 2014) broadly confirm the findings of Peter Haisenko:
Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported that shrapnel-like holes were found in two separate pieces of the fuselage of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines aircraft that was believed to have been downed by a missile in eastern Ukraine.
Michael Bociurkiw of the OSCE group of monitors at his daily briefing described part of the plane’s fuselage dotted with “shrapnel-like, almost machine gun-like holes.” He said the damage was inspected by Malaysian aviation-security officials .(Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2014)
The monitoring OSCE team has not found evidence of a missile fired from the ground as conveyed by official White House statements. As we recall, the US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power stated –pointing a finger at Russia– that the Malaysian MH17 plane was “likely downed by a surface-to-air missile operated from a separatist-held location”:
The team of international investigators with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are uncertain if the missile used was fired from the ground as US military experts have previously suggested, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. (Malay Mail online, emphasis added)
The initial OSCE findings tend to dispel the claim that a BUK missile system brought down the plane.
Evidently, inasmuch as the perforations are attributable to shelling, a shelling operation conducted from the ground could not have brought down an aircraft traveling above 30,000 feet.

Peter Haisenko’s study is corroborated by the Russian Ministry of Defense which pointed to a Ukrainian Su-25 jet in the flight corridor of the MH17, within proximity of the plane. (see air traffic data in 1. above)
5. The BBC Initial Report: Donesk Witnesses Confirm presence of  Military Aircraft
(This report was subsequently Suppressed by the BBC, the video on youtube was taken down)
Ironically, the presence of a military aircraft was also confirmed by a BBC  report conducted at the crash site on July 23.

All the eyewitnesses  interviewed by the BBC confirmed the presence of another military aircraft flying within proximity of Malaysian Airlines MH17 at the time that it was shot down: 
Eyewitness #1: There were two explosions in the air. And this is how it broke apart. And [the fragments] blew apart like this, to the sides. And when …
Eyewitness #2: … And there was another aircraft, a military one, beside it. Everybody saw it.
Eyewitness #1: Yes, yes. It was flying under it, because it could be seen. It was proceeding underneath, below the civilian one.
Eyewitness #3: There were sounds of an explosion. But they were in the sky. They came from the sky. Then this plane made a sharp turn-around like this. It changed its trajectory and headed in that direction [indicating the direction with her hands].
BBC Report below (suppressed)
The original BBC Video Report published by BBC Russian Service on July 23, 2014 was removed by the BBC.
In a bitter irony, The BBC was  censoring its own news productions.
This is the BBC Report, still available on Youtube

BELOW SCREENSHOT OF BC TV REPORT ENTITLED “AND THERE WAS ANOTHER AIRCRAFT” SUPPRESSED BY THE BBC
And there was Another Aircraft
                                                                      
The BBC’s Refutation Media Spin
Following the publication of its initial report and its suppression, the BBC quoting an official Ukraine statement  reported that:
The downed Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine suffered an explosive loss of pressure after it was punctured by shrapnel from a missile.
They say the information came from the plane’s flight data recorders, which are being analysed by British experts.
However, it remains unclear who fired a missile, with pro-Russia rebels and Ukraine blaming each other.
 Screenshot of BBC Headline on July 28, 2014
 Media spin supported Washington’s accusations directed against Russia including the sanctions regime.
The BBC suppressed its own July 2014 report with a view to sustaining the official narrative.
About-turn at the BBC? Unlikely
Will the soon to be released BBC documentary contribute to refuting the official lies and fabrications? Namely refuting the earlier lies of the BBC.
The media descriptions suggest that the documentary will contain various innuendos and half-truths, which ultimately sustain the media lies. According to the BBC,
“Conspiracy theories swirl around many accidents, terror attacks or disasters. It’s not surprising, then, that a host of different claims surround the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. There are theories about fighter jets and different types of missiles. So what really happened?
Will the BBC explain why it censored its own July 2014 TV reports, which had been published online and then carefully removed. 
Click Here to access an archive of 100 Global Research articles and reports on the downing of MH17. 
Support MH17 Truth: Machine Gun-Like Holes Indicate Shelling from a Military Aircraft. No Evidence of a Surface-to-Air Missile Attack. By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, March 08, 2016
See the detailed study of Peter Haisenko:
Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile” By Peter Haisenko, July 30, 2014

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Regulations will Push Oil To $200 and Cause a global “economic crash of epic proportions”

28th July 2018 / Global
This New Regulation will Push Oil To $200 and Cause an "economic crash of horrible proportions"
By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com: Oil prices could spike as high as $200 per barrel over the next 18 months, which would cause an “economic crash of horrible proportions,” according to a new report.

A research paper from economist and oil market watcher Philip K. Verleger predicts there could be a shortage of low-sulfur diesel fuel in 2020 as a result of regulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) aimed at cutting sulfur emissions. The regulations, due to take effect at the start of 2020, lowers the allowed concentration of sulfur in maritime fuels from 3.5 percent to just 0.5 percent.
Those rules have already sparked a scramble for low-sulfur options. But the current global refining capacity may not be able to churn out enough low-sulfur fuels to allow a smooth transition from high-sulfur fuels by the world’s shipping fleet.
The shipping industry accounts for about 5 percent of total global oil demand, and most ships burn heavy fuel oil that is high in sulfur. Switching over 5 percent of total demand to low-sulfur diesel and gasoil – a distillate similar to diesel – is a massive shift.
Ship-owners will have a few options: install expensive scrubbers to remove sulfur, switch to low-sulfur fuels such as diesel or gasoil, or switch over to LNG. Scrubbers and LNG are generally thought to be the most expensive options, requiring capital outlays to overhaul entire fleets.
That will put the onus on low-sulfur fuels. But the problem is that not all crude oil is the same – heavier and sour varieties hold more sulfur and are unable to produce lower sulfur diesel without extra processing. And not all refineries are equipped to handle that processing.
Up until now, the maritime industry has been burning the residual fuel oil left over after the refining process. Fuel oil is the bottom of the barrel – it’s the cheapest, most viscous and dirtiest part of the barrel.

By 2020, diesel production will need to rise by at least seven percent, according to Philip K. Verleger, on top of the three percent increase needed for road transport and other uses. All of it will need to be low-sulfur. “It is not clear that the greater volumes can be produced,” Verleger wrote in his paper. “Instead…very large price hikes may be required to suppress non-maritime use.”

On top of that, the banishment of fuel oil from the maritime sector will lead to a crash in high-sulfur fuel oil prices. Power plants onshore that burn oil might switch over to high-sulfur fuels because of the steep crash in prices. “Ironically, the maritime fuel switch may do nothing to improve the global commons given that the pollution sources can just be moved from the high seas to land,” Verleger concludes.
But the big problem will be the shortage of diesel and gasoil because “as many as half of world refineries cannot produce fuel that meets the new regulation.”
He predicts a rerun of the historic price spike in 2007-2008, which was in part the result of a shortage of low-sulfur oils. Refiners found themselves in a bidding war for low-sulfur oil, pushing oil prices to well over $100 per barrel. “This situation will reoccur in 2020,” Verleger wrote, except that the price spike could be even more dramatic because “the fuel shift is greater and the refining industry is less prepared.”



Verleger does not mince words. As the rules take effect in 2020, oil prices will spike to $160 per barrel or higher. “Economic activity will slow and, in some places, grind to a halt. Food costs will climb as farmers, unable to pay for fuel, reduce plantings. Deliveries of goods and materials to factories and stores will slow or stop,” he argues. “Vehicle sales will plummet, especially those of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles (SUVs). One or more major U.S. automakers will face bankruptcy, even closure. Housing foreclosures will surge in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world. Millions will join the ranks of the unemployed as they did in 2008.”


However, a report from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy from earlier this year disputes this conclusion.
Shippers switching over to low-sulfur fuels puts “the burden of innovation onto the refining industry,” the report says, “but it will likely prove a lesser challenge for refiners than is commonly understood.” That is because the fuels will be “fuel hybrids, the production of which will entail as much blending as actual refining.” Ultimately, the report concludes, “speculation about a product supply crunch underestimates the industry’s flexibility,” and ignores the potential for a reconfiguration of demand and the emergence of new types of blended fuel hybrids.
There is quite a lot of space between those two conclusions. We have 18 months before we find out which is more accurate.

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Friday, 15 February 2019

Russians Told To "Prepare For Worst Outcome" As US Prepares New Sanctions


A bipartisan team of US senators is preparing to hit Russia with additional sanctions over its 2016 US election interference and military operations in Syria and Ukraine.
Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are spearheading the measure, called the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, which includes a wide range of financial penalties targeting Russia's energy complex, financial industry and "political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin," reported The Independent.

Threats of the sanctions rocked Russian stock and government bond markets at the end of the week, and the country's debt insurance costs jumped alongside FX volatility.
Moscow has responded to the prospect of new sanctions with anger.
A former minister told Russians to prepare for the worst outcome; the Kremlin accused the US of “racketeering.”
“We see clear symptoms of emotional Russophobia,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “But behind the emotions … is an entirely pragmatic, assertive trade calculation, and … nothing less than an attempt to engage in dishonest competition.”
Frants Klintsevich, a member of the Defence and Security Committee of Russia’s upper house, described the new sanctions as a “dangerous habit” similar to “smoking a pipe before breakfast, poisoning all those around."

The head of Russia's largest bank and its former economics minister, Herman Gref, warned that the sanctions could damage the already slowing economy.
 "We need to prepare for the very worst of situations,” Gref warned.
The sanction also includes support for NATO, including requiring a two-thirds majority in the Senate for the US to leave the alliance. It includes plans to make it easier to transfer military hardware to NATO countries to reduce their dependences on Russian arms.
The possibility of new sanctions suggests that the US is ready to increase its economic war against Russia. As the global economy rapidly slows in 2019, relations with the US and the rest of the world are at tense levels, the possibility of a geopolitical flare-up is right around the corner.
Should we be looking in the East China Sea or the South China Sea for potential conflicts, or maybe hone in our attention on the Ukraine and Russia border?
Judging by the additional sanctions, all eyes should be on Europe.

California Nightmare: Over Half Of Golden State Residents Wish They Could Leave



Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,
This just shows what can happen when you let crazy people run a state for several decades...

In the 1960s and 1970s, the possibility of moving to the west coast was “the California dream” for millions of young Americans, but now “the California dream” has turned into “the California nightmare”.  According to a brand new survey, 53 percent of those living in California are considering leaving the state, and there are certainly lots of reasons to hit the road and never look back.  The cities are massively overcrowded, California has the worst traffic in the western world, drug use and illegal immigration both fuel an astounding amount of crime, tax rates are horrendous and many of the state politicians appear to literally be insane.  And on top of all that, let us not forget the earthquakes, wildfires and landslides that are constantly making headlines all over the world.  Last year was the worst year for wildfires in California history, and these days it seems like the state is hit by some new crisis every few weeks.
But none of those factors are the primary reason why so many people are eager to leave.
According to a brand new survey by Edelman Intelligence, the main reason why so many are considering leaving the state is the high cost of living
A growing number of Californians are contemplating moving from the state — and not due to wildfires or earthquakes but the sky-high cost of living, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The online survey, conducted last month by Edelman Intelligence, found that 53 percent of Californians surveyed are considering fleeing, representing a jump over the 49 percent polled a year ago. The desire to exit the nation’s most populous state was highest among millennials, the survey noted.
Thanks to absolutely ridiculous construction restrictions, it has become increasingly difficult to build new housing units in the state.  But meanwhile, people from all over the world continue to move there because they are attracted by what they see on television.
As a result, the supply of housing has not kept up with demand, and prices have shot through the roof in recent years.  The following numbers come from CNBC
Statewide, the median home value in California was $547,400 at the end of 2018, while the U.S. median home value was $223,900. By comparison, the median home value in New York state stood at $289,000 and $681,500 in New York City; New Jersey was $324,700.
Yes, there are a lot of good paying jobs in California, but you better have a really, really good job to be able to afford mortgage payments on a home worth half a million dollars.
Of course many Californians find themselves greatly stretched financially by out of control housing costs, and so more of them than ever are moving in with roommates.  In fact, one recent report found that the number of married couples in the U.S. that are living with roommates “has doubled since 1995”
The number of married couples living with roommates has doubled since 1995, according to a recent report from real estate site Trulia. About 280,000 married people now live with a roommate — and that’s particularly true in pricey cities like those on the West Coast.
The reason: Housing costs a ton. In Honolulu and Orange Country, Calif., the share of married couples with roommates is between four and five times the national rate. San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle also have sky high rates of married couples with roomies. Those same cities all have well above average rental and housing costs (Trulia notes that housing costs in all these markets have risen more than 30% since 2009), with residents of uber-pricey San Francisco requiring more than $123,000 in income to live comfortably, one study showed.
In addition to housing costs, many Californians are greatly frustrated by the oppressive levels of taxation in the state.
At this point, the state has the highest marginal tax rate in the entire country
At 12.3 percent, California led the 50 states in 2018 with the highest top marginal tax rate, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. And that doesn’t include an additional 1-percent surcharge for those Californians with incomes of $1 million or more.
Ouch.
But at least the weather is nice.
Yesterday, I wrote an article entitled “Rats, Public Defecation And Open Drug Use: Our Major Western Cities Are Becoming Uninhabitable Hellholes”, and it sparked something of a firestorm.  More than 1000 comments have already been posted on that article, and a few hearty individuals actually tried to convince the rest of us that life on the west coast is not actually all that bad.
I’m sorry, but if your city has far more intravenous drug users than it does high school students, that is not somewhere that I would want to raise a family
According to a report from the Chronicle, San Francisco now has more intravenous drug users than high school students. San Francisco, which operates 15 high schools, currently has 16,000 students enrolled grades nine through twelve.
By comparison, the northern California city currently has 24,500 “injection drug users.” That is approximately 8,500 more drug users than high school students.
As I mentioned yesterday, the city of San Francisco gave out 5.8 million free syringes to drug users last year.
When you have such widespread drug use, people are going to commit a lot of crime and they are going to do some really weird things.  Just consider the following example
Authorities are searching for a man seen on security footage licking the doorbell of a California home and relieving himself in the family’s yard.
Police have identified the man as Roberto Arroyo, 33, and say that he spent three hours around the Salinas home of Sylvia and Dave Dungan.
The couple had been out of town, during the strange incident, but their children were sleep inside the family’s home. They noticed something amiss when they woke up to multiple alerts from their surveillance system, which notifies the homeowners whenever there is movement near the front door.
A lot of really good people used to live in California, but they left because of stupid stuff like this.
In fact, quite a few of my best friends are people that have moved out of the state within the last 10 years.
Over the past decade we have seen a mass exodus out of California.  And according to Kristin Tate, the author of a new book entitled “How Do I Tax Thee?: A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off“, the “upper-middle class” has been moving out of the state faster than anyone else…
The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering — from green energy to wealth redistribution — have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.
Overall, approximately 5 million people have packed up and permanently moved out of California within the last 10 years.
Unfortunately, the entire nation is slowly becoming just like California, and if we don’t turn things around eventually there will be no place left to go.
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“Biggest Drop In More Than Nine Years”: America’s Retail Apocalypse Is Greatly Accelerating In The Early Stages Of 2019




All over America retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores.  Of course this has been happening for years, but as you will see below the numbers have dramatically escalated during the early portion of 2019.  Our landscape is already littered with countless numbers of hollowed out stores and abandoned malls, and it is about to get a whole lot worse.  Retailers were hoping that a strong holiday season would turn things around, but that didn’t happen.  In fact, we just learned that retail sales in the United States suffered “their biggest drop in more than nine years” during the month of December…
U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales tumbled 1.2 percent, the largest decline since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from recession.
Every time I write an article like this, a few commenters chime in and blame this entire trend on the rise of online retailing.  And without a doubt online retailing has been growing in recent years, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of the entire industry.
If online retail sales were to blame for this latest drop, you would expect to see that reflected in the numbers.  But instead, when we look at the numbers what we find is that online retailers experienced “the biggest drop ever” during the month of December…
December online internet sales (non-store retailers) tumbled 3.9% MoM – the biggest drop ever
So brick and mortar retail sales are going down and online retail sales are going down.
It is starting to smell a lot like a recession, and many in the industry are starting to panic.
And when I say panic, I mean that they are closing stores at a pace that is far faster than last year.  In fact, so far retail store closings are 23 percent ahead of the pace set last year
Coresight Research released an outlook of 2019 store closures Wednesday, saying there’s “no light at the end of the tunnel.”
According to the global market research firm’s report, six weeks into 2019, U.S. retailers have announced 2,187 closings, up 23 percent compared to last year. Those closings include 749 Gymboree stores, 251 Shopko stores and 94 Charlotte Russe locations.
Unfortunately, the number of store closings is about to double because Payless ShoeSource plans to declare bankruptcy and shut down 2,300 stores
U.S. discount retailer Payless ShoeSource Inc plans to close all of its approximately 2,300 stores when it files for bankruptcy later this month for the second time in as many years, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
And Payless is far from alone.  If you can believe it, the number of retail bankruptcies in 2019 is “already at one-third of last year’s total”
Bankruptcies also are continuing at a rapid pace “with the number of filings in the first six weeks of 2019 already at one-third of last year’s total,” the report states.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a retail apocalypse looks like, and we are still in the early chapters.
It is going to take some time for this drama to fully play out.  Just look at Sears – it is a money bleeding zombie of a company, but Eddie Lampert has convinced investors to give things one more try.  But they are going to zero, and so is JC Penney, and so are a whole host of other major retailers.
In the end, millions upon millions of square feet of retail space is going to be sitting vacant.  Some of the more economically depressed areas of the country are going to closely resemble ghost towns, and we are going to see a commercial real estate crisis that is off the charts.
Switching gears, we also just learned that the number of Americans that are at least 90 days behind on their auto loans is already “more than 1 million higher” than it was during the peak of the last recession…
More than 7 million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their vehicle loans as of the end of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the New York Federal Reserve. That’s more than 1 million higher than the peak in 2010 as the country was recovering from its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
How is that possible?
I thought that the U.S. economy was supposed to be “booming”.
Isn’t that what they have been telling us?
In recent weeks I have repeatedly brought up current economic numbers that are even worse than the last recession, and yet so many people out there continue to insist that everything is just fine.
No, everything is definitely not “just fine”.
Economic activity is slowing down dramatically, and many believe that things are about to get a whole lot worse.  In fact, Peter Schiff is warning that what is ahead “is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession”…
People are going to realize that we checked into the monetary roach motel that I talked about from the beginning and that there’s no way out, and then the dollar is going to fall like a stone.
When they find out that it’s never over and it didn’t work, then there’s going to be nothing propping up the dollar and it’s going to drop like a stone, the price of gold is going to take off, and the recession that we’re entering into, which is going to be an inflationary recession, is going to be worse than what we now call the Great Recession.
Maybe it’s taken longer than we might have thought to play out, but this is the beginning of the end.”
I wish that I had better news for you today, but I don’t.
The retail apocalypse is accelerating, America’s debt crisis is starting to reach a critical level, and very challenging days are approaching for all of us.
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Bears Are Right - Right?



https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-02-15/bears-are-right

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