You are here

LewRockwell.com

Subscribe to LewRockwell.com feed LewRockwell.com
ANTI-STATE • ANTI-WAR • PRO-MARKET
Updated: 11 hours 22 min ago

Cash Out and Run for Cover?

19 hours 10 min ago

Renowned investor Marc Faber has made another dire prediction for the stock market: It may fall by as much as 40% or even more. “Dr Doom” Marc Faber, the author of “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” said in an interview to CNBC TV that the stock market could see another ‘lurch’ higher, but then the investors may want to cash out and run for cover.

“We have had more than eight years of a bull market,” Marc Faber, the bearish investor, said. “The Nasdaq is being driven by very few stocks,” he said, adding that it “usually is not a particularly healthy sign from a technical point of view.” Further, March Faber said that the valuations are very high and there is a lot of volatility. “We have a lot of volatility, and when things start to go down they will go down a lot,” he said.

Buy Gold at Discounted Prices

Earlier in April, Marc Faber had suggested investing into commodity-related stocks over financial assets given the low prices of commodities. However, in the interview to ET Now, Marc Faber had cautioned that each commodity has to be analysed separately. Global prices of most major commodities, including crude oil, are on a sustained fall since mid-2014, with the RJ CRB Commodity Total Return Index falling over 40% during the period. Oil prices are falling on rising US shale output and record inventories. Marc Faber had also pointed out to a positive outlook for copper, as he said that the shift to electric cars will increase demand for the metal.

Read the Whole Article

The post Cash Out and Run for Cover? appeared first on LewRockwell.

Plutocrats and Econ

19 hours 10 min ago

The very sluggish recovery of the economy since the financial crisis — despite zero and near zero interest rates — presents the dominant school of New Keynesian macroeconomists with a conundrum. Many have attempted to resolve the riddle by arguing that such unprecedentedly low interest rates are not the doing of the Fed and therefore do not indicate an expansionary monetary policy. Although not formally a New Keynesian, George Selgin has taken up and vigorously defended this position. According to Selgin, the view that interest rates have been “held down” by “the Fed’s easy money policies” is based on a “myth.” “The unvarnished truth,” according to Selgin, “is that interest rates have been low since the last months of 2008, not because the Fed has deliberately kept them so, but in large part owing to its misguided attempt, back in 2008, to keep them from falling in the first place.” Indeed, in Selgin’s view, the Fed’s monetary policy actually has been “too tight” since 2008.

Let us analyze Selgin’s argument, which consists of a number of empirical and theoretical claims. We’ll start with his empirical claims. Selgin contends that the policy of “quantitative easing” (QE) “represented an easing of monetary policy only in a ceteris paribus sense.” That is, QE would have expanded the money supply had it not been neutralized by other Fed policies. These policies include the payment of interest on excess reserves (IOER) and the Treasury’s Supplementary Financing Program (SPF), which either increased the demand by commercial banks for the reserves that the Fed was creating (IOER), or funneled them into a special Treasury account held at the Fed (SPF). Now it is certainly true that in theory these programs could offset or even reverse the expansionary effect of QE on the money supply. But it is easy to determine the actual effect of these programs by simply examining the data on the growth rates of monetary aggregates since 2008. Curiously, rather than following this obvious and simple procedure, Selgin presents a single chart showing the changes in total deposits at Federal Reserve banks held by the Treasury under the Supplementary Financing Account, commenting, “At one point . . . the SPF program alone immobilized almost $559 billion in base money preventing it from serving as a basis for private-sector [i.e., fractional-reserve bank] money creation.” But Selgin’s chart shows that this large neutralization of reserves only occurred for a few months in 2008, and never sidelined more than $200 billion in reserves from 2009 until the early 2011 when the program was terminated. More important, this chart gives us no indication whatsoever of the net effect of the combination of QE and the countervailing programs on monetary growth.

Buy Silver at Discounted Prices

In fact, as we can see from Chart 1, for the nearly six years from mid-2011 to 2017, the year-over-year (YOY) growth rates of M2 and MZM varied between 5% and 10%. Selgin does concede that the IOER policy failed to prevent the effective fed funds rate from declining to the “zero bound,” although he counters that it did succeed in encouraging banks to hoard some of the newly created reserves instead of using them to purchase assets and thereby create new money. But once again the question must be asked: why doesn’t Selgin just directly examine the variations in the growth rates of the money supply since 2008? It is noteworthy that the rates of monetary growth during the later period are comparable to and may slightly exceed the rates during the run-up of the housing bubble from the beginning of 2002 through 2005.

CHART 1

Another one of Selgin’s empirical claims that can easily be tested against the data is that there is no evidence that the Fed has been following an “easy monetary policy,” because monetary ease must lead to “an eventual increase in nominal spending, if not the rate of inflation. Yet, as everyone knows, neither of these things happened.” Selgin then goes on to display charts showing that GDP growth was negative between September 2008 and the same month in 2009 and that the inflation rate fell to either 1.00 percent or into negative territory (if we exclude food and energy) for six months beginning with March 2009. Yet his charts take us only to the end of 2009, which hardly tests Selgin’s claim that the Fed did not pursue a policy of monetary ease because an “an eventual increase” in GDP, i.e., nominal spending, and inflation never occurred. (Emphasis added.)

As Chart 2 shows, almost immediately after the period that Selgin considers, the YOY growth rate of GDP spurted up to nearly 5%. Between 2010 and 2017 it fluctuated in a range between 2.5% and 5.0%. By Selgin’s standards, this is surely evidence of an expansionary monetary policy. Indeed, in his book, Less Than Zero, Selgin (1997, pp. 64-66) calls for stabilizing the growth rate of nominal GDP at 0% per annum, thus allowing the price level to naturally decline in response to increases in labor (or total-factor) productivity induced by technological progress and capital accumulation.

CHART 2

And, indeed, as we see in Chart 3, outside of the period encompassing the end of the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath, the only period for which the CPI was at or slightly below zero occurred in the first nine months of 2015, when oil prices tanked. For most of the rest of the period the inflation rate fluctuated between one 1% and 2%, with two multi-month spikes into the 2%-3% range and one spike into 3%-4% range.

CHART 3

We should also note that positive inflation rates occurred in the face of a sustained fall in velocity of the monetary aggregates M2 and MZM which began in 2006, as shown in chart 4. Had the Fed merely offset this “demand-side shock,” to use New Keynesian terminology, as Selgin urges in Less Than Zero, then the inflation rate should have been negative to reflect growth of labor productivity at an average annual rate of 1.2% (chart 5). Thus the U.S. economy since 2009 has certainly experienced “relative inflation,” which Selgin (1997, p. 55) defines as “output prices rising relative to unit costs.” But Selgin gives no explanation of how such a relative — and for most of the period, absolute — inflation could develop and be sustained for seven years absent expansionary monetary policy by the Fed.

CHART 4

CHART 5

Given these data, we must therefore reject Selgin’s empirically-based conclusion that the Fed was not engaged in expansionary monetary policy after the financial crisis and that its

… unprecedented asset purchases, which might ordinarily have been expected to result in roughly proportional increases in broad money, spending, inflation, and nominal interest rates, affected those variables only modestly, if at all, and did so for the most part by limiting their tendency to decline, rather than by raising them in an absolute sense.

Broad money, nominal spending, and prices did undergo a sustained and progressive rise in absolute terms during a period when velocity was steadily declining and labor productivity was increasing, which according to Selgin himself indicates a monetary easing.

In addition to the empirical flaws in his case, Selgin dismisses the application of the “(relatively) tried and true” analysis of the central bank’s policy of driving down the interest rate below its natural level. This is Wicksell’s analysis of the cumulative process and Selgin seems to be confused about the empirical implications and the conceptual foundations of the theory. Regarding the empirical implications, Selgin quotes Larry White:

If the central bank wants to keep the market rate low in the face of the nominal income effect, it must accelerate the monetary injection. Short-term real rates have been negative , and nominal rates near zero, for eight years now, with little signs of accelerating broad money growth or a rising inflation rate.

Based on this reasoning, White, with Selgin presumably in accord, dismisses “the Wicksellian cumulative-process scenario … as a viable candidate for explaining why current rates have remained so low since 2008.”

Now, White’s description of the cumulative process does not accord with Wicksell’s. For Wicksell, the continuation of the process does not require “accelerating monetary growth,” which implies “a rising inflation rate.” The claim that Wicksell (2007, pp. 196, 201) makes is much more modest:

T]he rise in prices, whether small or great at first, can never cease so long as the cause which gave rise to it continues to operate; in other words so long as the loan rate remains below the normal rate . . . . A lowering of the loan rate below the natural rate … in itself tends to bring about a progressive rise in all commodity prices.

Elsewhere Wicksell (p. 148) comments on his model of the cumulative process: “It is possible in this way to picture a steady, and more or less uniform, rise in all wages rents, and prices (as expressed in money).”

Thus, in Wicksell’s analysis, the divergence between the two rates implies only a cumulative rise in the price level and thus in the level of the money supply at a “steady” rate, and not necessarily a continual rise in the rate of inflation and the rate of monetary growth. In his presentation of Wicksell’s model, Carl Uhr (pp. 235-41) demonstrates that the cumulative process can continue indefinitely with a constant 1.00% per year increase in nominal income and in the price level. Thus, White’s “nominal income effect” requires only a level change in the quantity of money and prices, and not a rate change in these variables. This is clear in the “one reservation” that Wicksell expressed about his model, according to Uhr (p. 241): “namely, that the entire sequence was predicated on the assumption that entrepreneurs and others act and react only to prices current in their planning periods.” It is only when inflationary expectations are introduced, according to Wicksell, that “the actual rise will become more and more rapid.” We may conclude, then, that the dynamics of Wicksellian cumulative process are completely consistent with the data presented in the charts above.

This brings us to Selgin’s view that the natural rate is fundamentally unobservable and must be inferred from “a mass of empirical studies.” Thus Selgin cites a graph referred to by Janet Yellen which indicates that the natural rate has been negative since 2008. But this is a case of mistaken identity. For the rate that Selgin identifies is not Wicksell’s natural rate but Keynes’s concept of the “neutral” or “optimum” rate. In fact, Keynes explicitly rejected the Wicksellian natural rate as not “very useful or significant.” Unfortunately, today, the terms “neutral rate” and “natural rate” are used interchangeably to designate the rate that was considered of policy significance by Keynes. When Bernanke, Krugman, Yellen, and other New Keynesians refer to the natural rate, they have in mind the interest rate that is consistent with full employment of resources at some targeted, non-accelerating inflation rate. The goal of the central bank is to discover and establish this fictional rate in financial markets, which will in turn drive investment spending and the real rate of return on investment to levels consistent with stability of the real economy.

This New Keynesian notion of the natural rate contrasts sharply with Wicksell’s conception. According to Wicksell (p. 205), who was a follower of Böhm-Bawerk and an Austrian capital theorist, “the natural rate of interest [is] the real yield of capital in production.” The natural rate is thus an “intertemporal” price, or the ratio of prices between present consumption and future consumption (as embodied in capital goods), and it is wholly and directly determined by capital investment in the real sector of the economy. The loan rate of interest is therefore a reflection of the natural rate. As Wicksell (p. 192) put it: “That loan rate that is a direct expression of the real rate, we call the normal rate.” This “normal” or “natural” loan rate derives from the natural rate of return on investment throughout the economy’s capital structure and moves in near lock-step with it: “The rate of interest at which the demand for loan capital and the supply of savings exactly agree … more or less corresponds to the expected yield on the newly created capital.” (Most of this paragraph is drawn from an earlier publication of mine.)

There is thus no need to undertake econometric and other empirical studies to determine the natural rate. The natural interest rate is nothing but the basic or long-run rate of return on investment in the real structure of production. This fundamental or, what Mises called, “originary” interest rate governs the rate of interest on financial markets, not the other way around, as Keynes and his modern disciples would have it. For Wicksell and the Austrians, it is the real economy dog that wags the financial sector tail. Consequently, any and all attempts by central banks to lower the interest rate via monetary policy inevitably create a divergence between the actual and natural interest rates and initiate Wicksell’s inflationary cumulative process. A complete cessation of Fed open market operations would soon enough allow the underlying interest rate on all financial instruments to return to its natural level in line with the basic rate of return on real investment as dictated by people’s voluntary consumption/saving preferences.

But what of Selgin’s and the New Keynesians’ assertion that the notional natural rate itself has plunged through the zero bound and, therefore, the inflationary Wicksellian cumulative process does not apply, because the Fed does not yet have the tools to push the nominal rate far enough below zero. First, this assertion is absurd on its face, because it is tantamount to the claim that capitalists are investing in real capital goods at a negative rate of return, despite the existence of the universal law of time preference.

Second, we do not need “a mass of empirical studies” to confirm that the natural rate has not plunged into negative territory and may have even risen above its pre-crisis level. Consider the chart below, which appears in a publication by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and is constructed from data in the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPAs). The top panel plots annual average before tax and after tax rates of return for U.S. nonfinancial corporations for the period 1960-2015. These rates are calculated as the ratio of the net surplus of the corporation to its net stock of produced assets (i.e., capital assets plus inventories valued at current cost). The numerator of the ratio is net operating surplus which is the sum of corporate profits and a few minor items. Corporate profits are a composite of what the economist would call pure or entrepreneurial profit and the return to capital investment (the postponement of consumption). Most of “corporate profits” consist of the normal or natural return to capital investment since pure profits net to zero in a “stationary” or no-growth economy and are slightly positive in the slowly progressing U.S. economy, where saving, investment, and real output per capita is growing slowly. Note that the after tax average rate of return hit a decadal high of 7.6% in 2006 and then fell for the rest of the decade to a low of 6.2% in 2009. It then rose sharply in 2010 to 7.9% and has remained at 8.0% or above through 2015. These variations certainly do not bespeak a collapse of the natural rate after the financial crisis.

CHART 6

The same story is told by a data series calculated by the BEA from industry economic accounts (IEAs), which consists of average annual rates of return for the 71 industries that account for all U.S. economic activity. These return ratios are calculated as net operating surplus divided by the net stock of produced assets for each industry sector. Since the rates of return are calculated for entire industries, the numerator includes both corporate profits and the income of sole proprietorships and partnerships, so there is a significant wage component that inflates rates of return. But it is the variations in the rates of return that are significant. For this series, which is not charted, the decadal rate of return peaks in 2005 at 14.1% and then plunges to 11.7% by 2009, after which it rises rapidly to 13.3% in 2010 and fluctuates between 13.0 and 13.6% through 2015.

To summarize: George Selgin makes three strong, empirically testable claims. First, under current conditions the Fed is incapable of controlling interest rates. Second, the Fed itself is responsible for its own impotence because its monetary policy has been “too tight” since 2008. Third, zero and near-zero interest rates are not indicative of expansionary monetary policy but of a Fed-induced collapse of the natural interest rate to less than zero by tight-money policy. Based on the data adduced above in conjunction with a proper understanding of Wicksell’s analysis of the natural rate, we are compelled to reject these claims as false. As noted above, a definitive empirical test of Selgin’s central contention — that the super-low interest rates we are experiencing are not caused by expansionary monetary policy — would involve the termination of all open market operations. Somehow, I doubt Selgin would approve of such a test.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

The post Plutocrats and Econ appeared first on LewRockwell.

After Bombing Syria Based on a Lie

19 hours 10 min ago

A report yesterday by the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter who broke some of the biggest stories of the Vietnam and Iraq wars showed that Trump bombed Syria on April 4th based upon false pretenses.

Specifically, Trump said the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack on civilians. But U.S. military and intelligence officials say that they told Trump there was no evidence for that claim … and they say that what really happened is that Syria bombed Islamic terrorists, and that accidentally released chemicals being stored by the terrorists.

So how does Trump respond to the report?

He doubles down on the bull …

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said tonight:

Time to buy old US gold coins

The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.

The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.

***

If … Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.

After Spicer’s statement, Neocon warmonger – and U.S. representative to the U.N. – Nikki Haley tweeted:

Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.

Read the Whole Article

The post After Bombing Syria Based on a Lie appeared first on LewRockwell.

Everything You Need To Know About Hacking

19 hours 11 min ago

I’ve spent 30 years hacking computers. I’ve done just about every trick in the book.

Many people I’ve known over the years have spent time in jail or in some other capacity that is specifically unclear after their hacking was uncovered.

And many people I know have never been discovered.

A) THE ABCs OF HACKING

I want to stick to the basics so people can understand what they are seeing in the news and think intelligently about it.

I also want to underline what the real problems are and not just the isolated problems we saw in this past election (although they are serious and I use them to demonstrate why the real issues could be much more serious).

First: what is hacking? How do people hack? What’s the difference between the movies/TV and real hacking? What is legal in this particular situation and what is illegal?

Time to buy old US gold coins

First, the WHAT: How does someone hack in today’s world (and the rules and techniques change constantly since 30 years ago).

TECHNIQUES:

1) HOLES IN THE NETWORK

One time a friend of mine was playing a joke on a well known media company.

For the sake of explanation, let’s say that media company had the initials “M” “T” “V” and just for the purposes of why it would have such strange initials, let’s say that stands for “Music TeleVision”.

MTV had a hole in their network. Every network has thousands of “ports”, like a massive cruise liner.

An “open port” sends messages back and forth. Like someone waving from a cruise ship as it pulls away.

Most ports are simply closed. But some are open in order to receive various special messages.

For instance, there is a port that listens for requests for web pages.

Like when you type into your URL box: “http://mtv.com” a message is sent (usually) to port number 80 at a computer at MTV (or wherever MTV stores their web pages).

Then a special language is spoken between your browser and the server at MTV that is listening to port 80.

An example conversation in the special “HTTP language” might be:

(from the browser) GET /pages/index.html(from the server after sending the html): HTTP 1.1 200 OK

(this is very rough and abbreviated).

There are other ports open to listen to other computers on the local network: requests for files to be transferred in non-HTTP protocols (like FTP), and most importantly, requests for email.

Some software will OPEN unassigned ports for their own nefarious purposes.

Malicious software that keeps track of every letter typed on the keyboard might open and use such a port. VERY common.

Back to: One time in 1995 I was having fun with a friend of mine. He was pulling a prank on MTV.

MTV had an open port that they weren’t protecting properly. It was the SMTP (EMAIL!) port.

I logged directly into it (rather than send an email) and pretended to be “legal@mtv.com” and then I sent an email to my friend from that address saying he was in “BIG TROUBLE” unless he called immediately and confessed.

Fun things happened.

Most companies (maybe 99.99%) have now covered up basic holes like that and it’s much more difficult.

That said, for every type of software that does any network communication, there are always holes in the ports that are forgotten until someone hacks them and then they are patched.

If there’s a new computer or phone, then there are new security breaches. 100% of the time!

2) PASSWORD LAZINESS

Again, 15 or so years ago, I was in charge of a particular website.

Someone was causing a lot of problems on the site. He was a massive troll and was harassing people.

I tried to reason with him, but he ignored me.

So this is basic hack #2.

Most people use the SAME password for everything, or for most things. Hackers know this.

I looked up the password he was using for my site. I then tried it out on his email site.

BING!

I logged into his email (yes…illegally) and learned everything about him. Then I “messed his email up”. I won’t describe what that means but he wasn’t a problem on the website anymore.

This is what happens to trolls: trolls graduate to worse things. 15 years later this person is now in jail for 30 years to life for first degree murder.

This is a longish post because I’m explaining the basics of something that others have put their 10,000 hours into in order to get really good.

But #1 and #2 are the basics of almost all hacking right now.

There’s a #3 and #4 but they are infinitely more complicated and don’t really work except in the movies.

#3: For instance, “packet sniffing” is when someone hacks into the actual network pipes (or wireless) that sends information from outside of a company into a company.

If you can gather all the packets, and then like a giant puzzle, put them in order, you can see every password and piece of information going into a network. Which is a big assumption.

And then you have to assume that packets aren’t encrypted at the “firewall” level of a company, which they almost always are.

So this method is mostly useless.

#4: BOT ARMIES

This is related to other techniques and probably occurred (and is still occurring) with the Russian hacks.

A “bot” is a small piece of software that sits on your computer and sits on most of the other computers in your company’s network.

A Bot is malicious.

It has some code that is ready to do something bad to your network. It got into your computer through some other technique similar to the Russian hack which we will describe below.

Millions of bots exist on computers around the US. Maybe 70 or 80% of companies are infected with “bot armies”.

They are like sleeper cells waiting for a message to act.

Millions of hours of effort are spent identifying bots and eliminating them from networks.

I once visited a company manned by about 100 PHDs that were trying to figure out how to fight bot armies.

They told me something that stuck with me: “No matter how smart we are, the people creating these bots are smarter”.

The answer then is…who knows. Bad things are happening and there’s nothing we can do about it.

But since networks and security are constantly being updated in various unknown ways each year, it’s often hard for the bots to stay updated. This is probably the best defense. So a “sleeper bot” that infected a computer a year ago might be useless today.

What is the best defense against a bot army? There is really only one if you think you are infected.

THROW OUT your computers, throw out your routers and pipes and everything that created your network and buy totally new computers straight out of the warehouse and then you MIGHT be safe.

If your computer is logged onto the Internet for about ten minutes without any security then there’s a decent chance a bot has infected it.

There’s a #5, #6, #7 but they are more advanced versions of what I described above.

The one exception is not so much a hack INTO the network but a hack that destroys your network called a “denial of service attack”.

Since this is not related to the Russian election hack (yet) I’m not going to deal with it now.

The only thing I will mention is that often the reason a bot army is so dangerous is because they are very effective at initiating denial of service attacks to bring down a network.

When you hear something like, “Netflix was down from a hacker attack today” it usually means a massive bot army sent billions or even trillions of requests for “House of Cards” at the same second to Netflix and the Netflix servers went down.

And since the bot requests are coming from unsuspecting computers all over the world and hitting every open port at Netflix, it is very hard to block.

Congratulations! Those are the ABCs. Now for the more advanced stuff so you, too, can hack election systems on the world’s most powerful country.

B) PHISHING AND SPEAR PHISHING

As opposed to all the movies where hackers are trying to figure out passwords and do packet sniffing, etc. almost all hacking today begins with a Phishing email.

A Phishing email might look like this:

“Dear James,

Someone just tried three times in a row to unsuccessfully log into your Gmail account. At Google, we take security very seriously.

We will be shutting down your Gmail account effective immediately unless you log into our secure site and confirm that the Gmail log-ins were legitimate or not.

We also strongly suggest you change your password when you log into our security site.

Please click HERE to validate your account. Thank you.

– The Google Security Team”

“HERE” is a link to a page that looks like Google and the URL might be a bit.ly link, which looks somewhat obscure but we are used to seeing obscure shortened links so we might not care.

Once you click on HERE, you did two things:

– you notified the hackers that you are the type of person who can potentially respond to a Phishing attack. So even if you don’t proceed further, you might on the next one (coming, say, from your bank).

– you might type in your password. In which case, not only do the hackers instantly download all of your emails and storage, etc but they have access to your password, which means they probably know your password for Facebook, twitter, your company accounts, etc. (see above).

Millions of these phishing attacks are sent out every day and you can find them usually in your Spam folder. Often the ISP that provides you Internet access will recognize these attacks and block them before you see them.

SPEAR IT:

Which is why SPEAR PHISHING is often more effective and is the technique used in the “Russia hacks”.

SPEAR PHISHING is when the mail is directed very specifically TO YOU. You are “speared”.

This happened when Russian hackers attacked Norman Podesta at the DNC and revealed his various unusual tastes that embarrassed the Democratic campaign of Hillary Clinton.

It’s a spear because very specifically emails were sent to officials at the DNC and although I don’t know what they said, they probably had enough information about the recipient to make it even more likely that they would pass through the network security servers and make it more possible for Podesta to click the link.

In fact, the email was so specific, he apparently sent it to his IT department and said, “Is this real?” and they wrote back right away, “RESPOND TO THAT IMMEDIATELY!” So he did.

He logged into a fake server. Typed in his password, and the rest is history.

Another example of a spear phishing attach worth mentioning:

MALWARE

instead of clicking on a link and typing in a password the Phishing email might say,

“Hey John, here’s the latest info on the delegates in Indiana you should know about”.

Then there’s an attachment. John clicks on it. It’s a simple Microsoft Word document and John is working on a Microsoft Windows machine.

Microsoft Word, every now and then, has a security breach.

MS Word can talk to other pieces of software on the computer. For instance, the software that controls the printer. Or the software that controls the web browser. Or the software that controls the calendar.

And some MS Word documents are much more sophisticated and can download applications right into the operating system.

These applications can never be detected.

For instance, a hack that I “have never done” is where you get someone to accidentally download a “keystroke logger”.

The keystroke logger is installed inside the operating system and can never be detected.

It opens up a new port (see above) and starts sending every key ever typed. So you can get every password for every service the person uses and then do whatever you want.

The port sends all the passwords to a server that is offshore and untraceable. The hacker logs into it and sees all the information about who ever has the malware.

The ONLY solution if you suspect you have been hacked this way: change every password and throw away EVERY computer and phone you own.

I can say for sure: this type of attack works and is more common than people think.

People who are good at this form of attack should never even be allowed to touch a computer or phone because it might only take seconds to execute in one form or other.

C) WHAT WAS THE RUSSIAN SPEAR PHISHING ATTACK

The true answer, despite the NSA leak, is that we don’t know and will never know.

All we know are these facts:

– Some election company was targeted by someone in sophisticated Spear attack.– This was a “double spear” attack: once the first company was infiltrated, they used fake accounts at the first election company to then launch spear attacks at other election officials.

They speared and then went viral.

For instance, it’s one thing if you get a random email from someone. It’s another if you are an election official in Ohio and you get an email from someone who appears to be working at one of your election software vendors (the first company attacked and infiltrated) and they say, “Hey, we’re just testing the software to make sure Ohio is safe. Click HERE.”

The first successful Spear Phishing led to an even more successful Spear Phishing. Hence the “DOUBLE SPEAR”.

– According to the NSA leak, the initial Spear attack seems to have come from a Russian military team that is set up just to do Spear Phishing attacks against the US.

Similar to teams we probably have set up at the NSA, the CIA, the DIA, the FBI, and probably places with initials we don’t know.

What we DON’T KNOW:

– what information they received from us.– how they infected the software of the election vendors or the election offices– if they left any bots or malware behind (e.g. 2020 might be their target and not 2016).– who told them to do this. This was probably their normal jobs. It’s probably not the case that Putin made a specific call and said, “hack this software election provider”.

It’s more likely they have a general mandate to disrupt our elections all of the time in every possible way. Just like we have teams that do the same. This is not excusing them. This is reality.

What we SUSPECT but DON’T KNOW

– Did Trump, or someone from Trump’s camp, talk to Putin, or someone from Putin’s camp and said “don’t just disrupt the election but do something specific that hurts Hillary and helps Trump.”

We simply don’t know that although the inference is often made because the attack on Podesta seems like this attack was very focused on Democrats.

That said, Podesta and his IT team were particularly foolish and even Obama, afterwards, said, no election services were effected. But….he would really have no idea. Nobody would.

– WHAT SPECIFIC VENDORS WERE ATTACKED AND WHAT DAMAGE COULD THEY CAUSE?

According to the NSA leak, it’s still very unclear. Some possibilities.

A) VR SYSTEMS (and probably similar companies)

VR Systems makes an electronic poll book. This has nothing to do with counting votes.

This has entirely to do with how people register to vote.

For instance, when people come into vote they are either registered to vote or not. A database needs to be checked (it used to be all on paper until fairly recently).

The electronic poll book allows for quick checking, and even registering of new voters.

Two very bad things can happen if pollbook companies like VR are effected:

A) REGISTRATION SCREWUPS

Any damage or interference on an electronic poll book could cause voter turmoil among a targeted class of voters (e.g. Democrats, or people from a specific county, etc).

It doesn’t stop people from voting (there are backup ways to find out who is registered) but can make it so inconvenient that people give up.

If the Russians wanted the Republicans to win, for instance, they can disrupt or slowdown the registration checking process in mostly Democratic counties.

B) DEEPER PHISHING

Companies like VR Systems are in email contact with election officials in every state. It could be that pollbooks / registration systems were not the final target but a leaping off point for a deeper Spear Phishing attack.

An election official in Indiana can get an email from VR (as described above) that says, “Doing a last minute check. Click HERE”. And now the entire Indiana election system is in question FOREVER.

Not only registrations but these election officials are presumably also in contact with the software companies that COUNT votes. These companies can now be targeted for future elections.

My guess is this is what happened and the attacks are far from over.

– WHO IS GUILTY?

Possible guilty parties that have been mentioned include Russia, rogue groups within Russa, the Russian military that operated independently from Putin.

On the American side, guilty parties mentioned include: Trump, Jared Kushner, other people working for Trump, the Republican party, rogue participants that wanted influence, etc.

It’s also possible that Putin wanted Trump elected, he got his people to hack, and he never notified Trump’s team of this at all. There is no law broken here. But if evidence is found that this is true, some punishment (sanctions, tariffs, cyber warfare) would have to be put in place.

What do we know?

Nothing.

What is legal?

Unclear.

It’s grossly illegal to effect a US election.

But it’s also VERY UNLIKELY Trump (or anyone hired by Trump) simply called Putin (or anyone working for Putin) and said, “use your hackers to make sure I win the election.”

That would be incredibly stupid and so obviously illegal as to defy belief.

Here’s the worst case scenario: someone maybe working for Russia (maybe!) called someone maybe working for Trump (maybe!) and said, “we can do something” and the Trump person most likely said, inappropriately, “I don’t want to hear about it but…I DON’T want to hear about it”. In other words, a wink.

But this is not illegal. If this happened (which is just my worst-case scenario guess), the American side could have said, “Don’t do anything” but that might be just as illegal also (to have any communication whatsoever with a bad participant).

This is where guys like Comey and Flynn get involved and we still don’t know the extent of what they knew and who they spoke to.

The law is very unclear on ALL of this and even Democrat-leaning lawyer Alan Dershowitz has stated no crime was committed by a US citizen in terms of this attack or any influence on the elections. And Barak Obama, probably prematurely, said there was no direct attack on the US election system.

But….we don’t know and never will.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

So many US elections have been improperly influenced (Nixon 1972 is most prominent as an attempt to influence, Reagan 1980 and his pre-election discussions with Iran were an influence, Kennedy in 1960 in Chicago was an influence, and probably every pre-Kennedy election) that it is not a trivial issue.

Every year there are improvements to the systems to prevent any influence. A lack of faith in the election system would be a lack of faith in the entire republic that the system creates.

As much as I dislike the way the system is built and think there are opportunities to rebuild from the ground up, this is the reality and the law.

CAN HACKERS EFFECT THE SYSTEM?

Yes, and they probably have, and their ability to do so again is probably stronger than ever.

ARE AMERICANS INVOLVED?

No, probably not. When you let the thief in door, nobody is safe, not even people who think they are colluding. Everyone knows this.

BUT…Americans certainly hack the elections of others just like many attempt to hack our elections. This is my guess but why wouldn’t it be true?

CONCLUSION:

A) The US election system is hacked beyond belief.

– Passwords of top officials are known– Computers are sending every keystroke to bad agents– Bot armies are ready to shut down election centers at the press of a button– registration software is probably hopelessly infected– vote counting software is probably effected but this is much more difficult since there are many backup systems for storage and replication of counting.

B) Hacking is not difficult.

When a team of fairly intelligent people are spending 24 hours a day trying to infiltrate 100s of companies, bad things are unavoidable. There is no stopping this.

C) WHAT CAN WE DO?

1) Awareness is the key.

– party officials can be hacked and embarrassed (Podesta, Hillary, etc), grossly effecting elections.

– registration software can be hacked. Awareness includes backup systems that are disconnected from each other and used to check each other’s work.

– vote counting software can be hacked.

– electors, congressman, election officials can be blackmailed when their emails are read.

2) Punishment of bad parties

At the hint of any other government involvement (or even country involvement without the government being aware) we should threaten immediate sanctions that can’t be stopped without some sort of super majority in Congress.

This would incentivize other governments to work to prevent any hacking of our elections.

3) Mutual Assured Destruction

While cyber warfare is different than nuclear warfare, we should certainly scale up our own efforts to be “bad agents” towards every other government.

Knowledge is power and, unfortunately, hacking gets the knowledge.

4) What about fixing the problem on our side?

Answer: it CANNOT be fixed with better software. Again, however smart the “good agents” are, the “bad agents” are simply smarter and it’s easier to break in than to block.

HAVE I LEFT ANYTHING OUT?

Yes.

I’ve left many many things out. These are the basics.

But the basics provide enough knowledge to understand what is happening in the news, how to learn more about basic hacking, what actually probably happened in the US election, and what the probable involvement of everyone was.

I’m sure we’ll be learning more. But we’re not going to be learning that much more .

The reality is: we were hacked more than will ever be revealed. And the hacking will cause damage.

And like the 44 elections prior, most of which have been manipulated, the US will survive, flourish, and move forward like it always has done.

Reprinted with permission from The Altucher Confidental.

The post Everything You Need To Know About Hacking appeared first on LewRockwell.

Straight-Talk on Armed Self-Defense

19 hours 11 min ago

Massad Ayoob is one of, if not the foremost trainers of armed self-defense today. Not only does he train citizens in how to shoot accurately and safely while under stress, half or more of his curriculum is devoted to the legal aspects of a self-defense shooting. His MAG40 class has been called “The one class to take if you can take only one.”

In this book he has assembled an amazing group of fellow experts to address various aspects of armed self-defense, each of them covering areas that they are known as experts in. The synopsis covers that ground, so I won’t reiterate it; suffice to say, the average gun owner may not have heard of many or even most of the contributors to this book, but this is truly an all-star cast.

While two or more of these experts will be assembled in the same location, it’s usually for industry events. There are one or two annual training events that many of them will attend and present at together, but they are usually sold out well in advance, not to mention not widely advertised.

This book is a welcome substitute for those of us who would like to attend such an event but cannot, as well as an introduction to the deeper subjects of armed self-defense for the beginner.

Instant Access to Current Spot Prices & Interactive Charts

Reprinted from Amazon.com.

The post Straight-Talk on Armed Self-Defense appeared first on LewRockwell.

King Zog of Long Island

19 hours 11 min ago

Deep in the Muttontown Preserve of East Norwich, New York, off a series of winding trails, lies a graffitied staircase to nowhere. It’s one of just a few crumbling structures nearly swallowed by the woods—all that’s left of the Knollwood estate, a once-grand neoclassical mansion built starting in 1906 for Wall Street tycoon Charles Hudson.

Although historians call the place Knollwood, locals know it as King Zog’s Castle. The king in question is Zog I of Albania, owner-in-absentia of the estate for several years in the 1950s. While King Zog I purchased the mansion in 1951, he never lived there. In fact, he probably never even visited. His story is one of Cold War intrigue, failed CIA operations, and a lingering, unresolved exile.

Instant Access to Current Spot Prices & Interactive Charts

Andrew Lenoir

When Ahmed Zogolli, the boy who would become King Zog, was born in 1895, there was no Albanian throne—there wasn’t even an Albania. The mountainous Balkan region was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, although order was largely maintained through a feudal system of competing familial warlords. Zogolli was not supposed to inherit his father’s post as the chieftain of his powerful mountain clan—he was the only son of his father’s second marriage, and his older half-brother from his father’s first marriage had been groomed to take over. But Zogolli’s mother managed to convince the clan’s elders to pass over her husband’s first-born heir in favor of her own offspring. Ambitious as her son would later become, the future king’s mother acted as chief until he reached maturity. Meanwhile, Zogolli was raised among the ruling class in Istanbul, reading about Napoleon and aspiring to a life beyond Turkish bureaucracy.

Over the next few years, he rose slowly but steadily through the ranks. In 1912, Albania declared independence, but after a brief monarchy, the country was consumed by the fighting of World War I. Zogolli proved himself a popular military commander under the Austro-Hungarians, and when a democratic Albanian government formed in 1920, he was appointed Minister of the Interior. Within a few years, he had become Prime Minister, shortening his name to Zogu. As he continued to consolidate his power, Zogu maintained control over his feudal chieftains with displays of drinking and gift-giving. But he also had harsher methods, once pulling a gun on a drunken chauffeur and telling him, “Drive more slowly or you die.”

Zogu became president in 1925, but three years later he declared the Albanian democratic experiment a failure: A republic was too much all at once for “backward” people used to hereditary hierarchies, he claimed. Instead, he offered himself as the country’s first nationalist monarch—King Zog (dropping the u), or “King Bird,” an allusion to Albanians’ self-identification as “Sons of the Eagle.” Six days of celebration followed, during which thousands of prisoners were pardoned, state employees received bonuses of a month’s salary, and every shop and cafe displayed his picture (failure to do so meant a fine). Accounts of his 11-year-reign are mixed; historians note his love of luxury despite an impoverished population, but also his early efforts to spread literacy and electricity. “Zog is clever enough, but no hero, and he loves intrigue,” was the assessment of Benito Mussolini, according to the English explorer and writer Rosita Forbes.

The leader of Fascist Italy would also be the one to end Zog’s reign. When Italy invaded in 1939, Zog and his wife Geraldine fled with their newborn son, the crown prince Leka, waiting out World War II first in Greece and England before eventually landing in Egypt as a guest of that nation’s King Farouk, where they soon settled into a villa in Alexandria.

After the war, the royal family flew to New York, arriving in America for the first time on July 26, 1951. The New York Times reported that Zog’s trip was strictly a pleasure visit, but recently declassified CIA files reveal there was more to the story. While newspapers focused on his social engagements, the king’s most important meetings were secret ones. A few weeks after his arrival, Zog had the first of three meetings with U.S. intelligence services.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The deposed king had chosen his arrival shrewdly. Since 1944, Enver Hoxha and his USSR-backed Party of Labor had held control of the Albanian government. With the Iron Curtain closing and Cold War alliances starting to form, the United States was extremely interested in replacing the Albanian government as quickly and quietly as possible. Operation Valuable Fiend, launched in 1949, sought to do just that, serving as the first clandestine U.S. operation of the Cold War.

It wasn’t the CIA’s first effort in Albania: A few months before they started Operation Valuable Fiend, the CIA also began funding the National Committee for a Free Albania (NCFA), a United States-based group consisting of both pro-democracy and pro-monarchist politicians in exile. But the NCFA got off to a rocky start—its first chairman, the moderate Midhat Frashëri, died of a sudden heart attack within months of his appointment amid suspicions of Soviet foul play.

After that, Operation Valuable Fiend became the CIA’s top priority. So when King Zog arrived, presenting himself as the ultimate Albanian insider, Operation Commander Col. Gratian Yatsevitch—a Ukrainian immigrant turned U.S. intelligence officer—seized the opportunity to ask him some questions. First off, what was the best way to start a revolution in Albania?

“I’ve given the matter a lot of thought,” the king said, smoking cigarette after cigarette as he laid out his vision through an interpreter. He proposed personally selecting a small infiltration team of his best men to perform reconnaissance and rally any remaining Albanian monarchists. Meanwhile, the Americans and the king’s personal staff would train 10,000 Albanian rebels. Following a few targeted assassinations, Zog himself, the NCFA, and any other Albanian exile groups eager to join the fight would lead an invasion.

“At this point,” Zog said, “I will invite the UN to send representatives to ensure that formation of the new Albanian government is in accordance with democratic principles.” The king promised he had no pretensions of reinstating his regime, and the CIA documents note that he seemed frank and sincere. Still, the document notes, “it is very difficult if not impossible for a former monarch to divorce himself entirely from visions of returning to his kingdom.”

Two meetings later, at the beginning of September 1951, Yatsevitch confirmed that the U.S. government wanted to try Zog’s plan. But before returning to his Alexandria villa to await further instructions, the king decided to acquire an American pied a terre. “A bucket of diamonds and rubies was reliably reported yesterday to have been paid for an outstanding property in the Muttontown estate section of Syosset,” The New York Times reported on September 19, 1951, calling it “a deal that will bring a former member of European royalty to Long Island as a farmer resident.”

The Times was half-correct in its assertion that Zog aspired to be a “farmer resident.” He was particularly taken with Knollwood’s extensive dairy and capacity to house a thousand chickens. But Zog’s hopes ran higher than poultry: Owning an American residence meant that Zog and his family would have an easier time immigrating to the United States, which was an implicit component of his understanding with the government. If he could not be king in Albania, Zog planned to live like an aristocratic landowner in America. Once the paperwork on Knollwood was signed, he began looking into the possibility of bringing over whole families of servants with him to America to serve as the foundation for a court of over 100 people.

Read the Whole Article

The post King Zog of Long Island appeared first on LewRockwell.

Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

19 hours 11 min ago

My “Rewriting American History” column of a fortnight ago, about the dismantling of Confederate monuments, generated considerable mail. Some argued there should not be statues honoring traitors such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, who fought against the Union. Victors of wars get to write the history, and the history they write often does not reflect the facts. Let’s look at some of the facts and ask: Did the South have a right to secede from the Union? If it did, we can’t label Confederate generals as traitors.

Article 1 of the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the war between the Colonies and Great Britain, held “New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States.” Representatives of these states came together in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a constitution and form a union.

During the ratification debates, Virginia’s delegates said, “The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” The ratification documents of New York and Rhode Island expressed similar sentiments.

Time to buy old US gold coins

At the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” rejected it. The minutes from the debate paraphrased his opinion: “A union of the states containing such an ingredient (would) provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”

America’s first secessionist movement started in New England after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Many were infuriated by what they saw as an unconstitutional act by President Thomas Jefferson. The movement was led by Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, George Washington’s secretary of war and secretary of state. He later became a congressman and senator. “The principles of our Revolution point to the remedy — a separation,” Pickering wrote to George Cabot in 1803, for “the people of the East cannot reconcile their habits, views, and interests with those of the South and West.” His Senate colleague James Hillhouse of Connecticut agreed, saying, “The Eastern states must and will dissolve the union and form a separate government.” This call for secession was shared by other prominent Americans, such as John Quincy Adams, Elbridge Gerry, Fisher Ames, Josiah Quincy III and Joseph Story. The call failed to garner support at the 1814-15 Hartford Convention.

The U.S. Constitution would have never been ratified — and a union never created — if the people of those 13 “free sovereign and Independent States” did not believe that they had the right to secede. Even on the eve of the War of 1861, unionist politicians saw secession as a right that states had. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical and destructive of republican liberty.” The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace.

Northern newspapers editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New-York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” The Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in extent.” The New-York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”

Confederate generals were fighting for independence from the Union just as George Washington and other generals fought for independence from Great Britain. Those who’d label Gen. Robert E. Lee as a traitor might also label George Washington as a traitor. I’m sure Great Britain’s King George III would have agreed.

The post Were Confederate Generals Traitors? appeared first on LewRockwell.

4-Step Health-Care Solution

19 hours 11 min ago

This essay was originally published in The Free Market in April 1993.

It’s true that the US health-care system is a mess, but this demonstrates not market but government failure. To cure the problem requires not different or more government regulations and bureaucracies, as self-serving politicians want us to believe, but the elimination of all existing government controls.

It’s time to get serious about health-care reform. Tax credits, vouchers, and privatization will go a long way toward decentralizing the system and removing unnecessary burdens from business. But four additional steps must also be taken:

Only these four steps, although drastic, will restore a fully free market in medical provision. Until they are adopted, the industry will have serious problems, and so will we, its consumers.

Buy Gold at Discounted Prices

  1. Eliminate all licensing requirements for medical schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and medical doctors and other health-care personnel. Their supply would almost instantly increase, prices would fall, and a greater variety of health-care services would appear on the market.

Competing voluntary accreditation agencies would take the place of compulsory government licensing — if health-care providers believe that such accreditation would enhance their own reputation, and that their consumers care about reputation, and are willing to pay for it.

Because consumers would no longer be duped into believing that there is such a thing as a “national standard” of health care, they would increase their search costs and make more discriminating health-care choices.

  1. Eliminate all government restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices. This means no more Food and Drug Administration, which presently hinders innovation and increases costs.Costs and prices would fall, and a wider variety of better products would reach the market sooner. The market would force consumers to act in accordance with their own — rather than the government’s — risk assessment. And competing drug and device manufacturers and sellers, to safeguard against product liability suits as much as to attract customers, would provide increasingly better product descriptions and guarantees.
  2. Deregulate the health-insurance industry. Private enterprise can offer insurance against events over whose outcome the insured possesses no control. One cannot insure oneself against suicide or bankruptcy, for example, because it is in one’s own hands to bring these events about.Because a person’s health, or lack of it, lies increasingly within his own control, many, if not most health risks, are actually uninsurable. “Insurance” against risks whose likelihood an individual can systematically influence falls within that person’s own responsibility.All insurance, moreover, involves the pooling of individual risks. It implies that insurers pay more to some and less to others. But no one knows in advance, and with certainty, who the “winners” and “losers” will be. “Winners” and “losers” are distributed randomly, and the resulting income redistribution is unsystematic. If “winners” or “losers” could be systematically predicted, “losers” would not want to pool their risk with “winners,” but with other “losers,” because this would lower their insurance costs. I would not want to pool my personal accident risks with those of professional football players, for instance, but exclusively with those of people in circumstances similar to my own, at lower costs.Because of legal restrictions on the health insurers’ right of refusal — to exclude any individual risk as uninsurable — the present health-insurance system is only partly concerned with insurance. The industry cannot discriminate freely among different groups’ risks.As a result, health insurers cover a multitude of uninsurable risks, alongside, and pooled with, genuine insurance risks. They do not discriminate among various groups of people which pose significantly different insurance risks. The industry thus runs a system of income redistribution — benefiting irresponsible actors and high-risk groups at the expense of responsible individuals and low-risk groups. Accordingly, the industry’s prices are high and ballooning.

    To deregulate the industry means to restore it to unrestricted freedom of contract: to allow a health insurer to offer any contract whatsoever, to include or exclude any risk, and to discriminate among any groups of individuals. Uninsurable risks would lose coverage, the variety of insurance policies for the remaining coverage would increase, and price differentials would reflect genuine insurance risks. On average, prices would drastically fall. And the reform would restore individual responsibility in health care.

  3. Eliminate all subsidies to the sick or unhealthy. Subsidies create more of whatever is being subsidized. Subsidies for the ill and diseased promote carelessness, indigence, and dependency. If we eliminate such subsidies, we would strengthen the will to live healthy lives and to work for a living. In the first instance, that means abolishing Medicare and Medicaid.

The post 4-Step Health-Care Solution appeared first on LewRockwell.

Fix That Slouch, Guys

19 hours 11 min ago

Earlier this year when I made a video about how to plan your week, several viewers commented on the terrible Quasimodo-like hunched back I displayed. As a guy who spends much of his time sitting slumped over a laptop, I was aware I had developed a terrible slouch. And I wasn’t proud of it. Not only did it make me look unconfident and lazy, little did I know, my poor posture was also wreaking havoc on my upper body flexibility. I discovered this while filming another video — this time on how to do a low bar squat.

Up until that point, I had never done a low bar squat; I had always performed the high bar variety. Getting the bar in proper position on the former requires a considerable amount of flexibility in the chest and shoulders. Your wrists need to be neutral, or straight, throughout the entire lift to avoid any of the weight being carried by your wrists or arms. If you have any wrist bend, you’re setting yourself up for a bad case of tendonitis in the elbow.

Time to buy old US gold coins

I looked like the guy on the left.

Despite ample gruff encouragement from my indomitable coach, Mark Rippetoe, I was never able to get my wrists straight while squatting, something plenty of YouTube commenters again made note of — much to my chagrin. The problem was that I simply didn’t have any flexibility in my shoulders or chest to place the bar in the proper position while maintaining straight wrists. My inflexibility was so bad that Rip even asked me if I had ever injured my shoulder or chest! I hadn’t — at least to my knowledge.

I started to investigate what would cause so much tightness in my chest and shoulders, and the one thing that kept popping up was chronic slouching. When you slouch, your shoulders turn in, which causes your chest to sink in as well. If you keep yourself in a slumped-over position day in and day out for hours at a time, you’re going to lose flexibility in your shoulders and chest in a big way.

But slouching has other pernicious effects besides slowing your squat gains. According to Dr. Jason Quieros, a chiropractor at Stamford Sports and Spine in Connecticut, “every inch you hold your head forward [while slouching] you add 10 pounds of pressure on your spine.” If you’re like most chronic desk slouchers, you’re likely leaning your head towards your monitor by 2 or 3 inches. That’s 20 to 30 pounds of extra weight that your back and spinal column have to endure for extended periods of time.

In the short term, this can cause jaw aches and headaches, but in the long term it can result in kyphosis, or a permanently visible Quasimodo-esque hump on your upper back. Kyphosis isn’t just an aesthetic problem, either. It can cause pain due to excess strain on the spine, as well as breathing difficulties due to pressure on the lungs from the caved-in chest that comes with a rounded back.

Not wanting to become the hunchback of Notre AoM, I started researching different stretches and exercises I could implement to undo the consequences of years of slumping and hunching.

Below I share six different exercises you can do to counteract the ill effects of slouching. They’ve helped me de-Quasimodo myself — maybe they’ll help you too. These exercises, of course, should be done in conjunction with a concerted effort to maintain good posture throughout the day while you’re working. (A detailed post and video on how to improve your posture are forthcoming.)

The Routine

I typically do all of the exercises below on my rest days. A few of them, I’ll do before I start squatting (I note which ones below). Ever since I started incorporating these exercises into my fitness routine, my flexibility and posture have improved significantly. I’m happy to report that I’m now able to get my wrists straight in the low bar squat, and have become a healthier, more upright gent all around!

Doorway Stretch

The doorway stretch is wonderful for counteracting the sunken chest you may have developed from years of slouching. This stretch (along with the shoulder dislocation exercise) have been key for me in developing the flexibility needed to properly low bar squat. Not only do I do these as part of a full anti-slouch routine during my rest days, I’ll also perform them before I squat so that I’m flexible enough to get in the proper position.

Stand inside a doorway (you can also stand next to a squat rack if you’re at the gym). Bend your right arm 90 degrees (like you’re giving a high five) and place your forearm against the doorframe. Position your bent elbow at about shoulder height. Rotate your chest left until you feel a nice stretch in your chest and front shoulder. Hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm.

You can emphasize different parts of your chest by adjusting the height of your bent elbow on the doorframe. The lower your elbow, the more your pectoralis major gets stretched; the higher your elbow, the more you stretch your pectoralis minor.

Read the Whole Article

The post Fix That Slouch, Guys appeared first on LewRockwell.

Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars?

19 hours 11 min ago

It’s interesting to speculate about why solutions that would have actually worked – which did work –  seem to always just kind of .  . .   go away. 

Not the fabled 100 MPG carburetor. That probably never existed.

But how about cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)?

They did exist. And – much more interesting – they worked

Several car companies – including GM and Ford  – offered them, briefly, back in the late 1990s. Including CNG-powered versions of their full-size sedans (the Impala and Crown Victoria, respectively) with room for six and a V8 engine under the hood.

Beats hell out of a four-cylinder hybrid.

Time to buy old US gold coins

And not just 0-60.

These CNG-powered cars didn’t cost a fortune – which made their economics much more sensible than most hybrids (and all electric cars).

They didn’t have functional gimps, either – and thus, were practical. Most could operate on either CNG or gasoline, so no worries about running out of CNG (as opposed to battery charge) and being stuck.

No range anxiety. No hours-long waits to refuel.

Even the infrastructure to provide for CNG refueling is already largely in place in most urban and suburban areas, because natural gas lines are already in place. If your home has a gas furnace or gas appliances you could also refuel a CNG-powered vehicle at home – and in minutes, not hours.

Massive government subsidies are not required. Not for the vehicles, not for the infrastructure/refueling facilities. As opposed to what would be absolutely necessary in order to make electric cars as mass-production vehicles functionally viable and leaving aside all the other considerations. Billions would have to be mulcted from taxpayers to erect a vast network of high-voltage “fast” chargers along the highways and secondary roads in order to keep hundreds of thousands – potentially, millions – of electric cars ambulatory.

And even if that were done, the Wait Issue remains.

Imagine it: Millions of people stuck for at least 30-40 minutes (best case scenario) to recharge their electric cars. The country – the economy – would literally come to a halt.

And – the really big one – CNG-powered vehicles run clean.

Much cleaner than today’s already very clean-running cars – because of the clean-burning nature of CNG. They may even run cleaner, in the aggregate, than so-called “zero emissions” electric cars – which may not emit emissions at their nonexistent tailpipes but the utility plants that burn oil and coal to produce the electricity that powers them most certainly do produce lots of emissions.

The fact that this is almost never brought up by the media doesn’t mean it’s not true.

One must also take into account the emissions generated during the very labor (and machine) intensive process of earth-rape necessary to manufacture electric cars and to obtain and process the raw materials used to make them and which are not needed to make CNG-powered cars.

Which are just like other cars, no hundreds of pounds of toxic batteries on board.

CNG-powered vehicles not only run cleaner, they run longer without needing things like oil changes. Service intervals can be increased by several thousand miles because burning CNG is clean; fewer contaminants are produced, so the oil doesn’t need to be replaced with fresh as often.

That’s good for the Earth, too.

CNG is also a fuel that exists in vast, almost unfathomable oceans underneath the United States – as opposed to under the control of Middle Eastern sheiks. And which doesn’t have to be refined from a precursor substance, such as petroleum.

CNG is therefore inexpensive.

It is estimated that there is enough natural gas in the United States alone to last for the next several hundred years, at least. Probably longer, because current estimates do not take into account the likelihood that additional vast oceans of natural gas will probably be found, to double or triple the currently known reserves. 

Read the Whole Artice

The post Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars? appeared first on LewRockwell.

Forget the Classroom

19 hours 11 min ago

In September 2015, Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewed Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the mass spying program(s) used across the globe by multiple intelligence agencies, private governments, and more. His revelations had broad and immediate consequences for both the elite they exposed and the now-informed public, who, prior to the leaks, considered government surveillance a conspiracy theory. Leaks continue to expose government surveillance and the tools/technology they use via Snowden and other whistleblowers, document platforms like Wikileaks, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a result, distrust in our governments is at an-all time high, and on a global scale.

All of these leaks have brought the existence of Special Access Programs (SAPs) and Unacknowledged SAPs into the public consciousness. These are programs run by what’s become known as “The Deep State,” or a government within the government, which has also been discussed by multiple political insiders and academics,.

Here is one out of many examples we’ve used many times:

Buy Silver at Discounted Prices

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.

From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. (source)

To see more quotes like this, you can check out this article. And to learn more about the Black Budget, you can read this one that goes more in-depth.

Modern Day Education

In the interview, Snowden offers his views on education, which align closely with our own here at CE:

It’s a question of who teaches the untaught? Knowledge has to arise from somewhere. There has to be a fountainhead from which it flows. That can’t be a classroom because the teachers themselves had to learn it from somewhere. Original research, the scientific method, the pursuit of the unknown, and the questioning of accepted conventional wisdom and probing at the unknowns. The fact that the most interesting thing for someone who’s interested in how knowledge is created are the problems that haven’t been solved. It’s not what do we know. It’s what we don’t know.

The interview is lengthy and covers a range of topics, but my focus here is education.

It’s something I’ve always wondered: Who does teach the untaught? When one goes to teacher’s college, or medical school, or to any other institutions to be trained to share knowledge, information, and assistance, they are simply being taught by those who have gone through the same system — a system that is now plagued with corruption and misinformation, and which demands obedience from us, the participants, the people meant to keep this mass machine going and thriving off of our efforts. We simply take in the information and believe it, without doing any probing, questioning, or critical thinking for ourselves.

I think it will be some time before we’re all ready to open our minds to information that doesn’t fit the framework of accepted knowledge.

It reminds me of this recent “fake news” epidemic, in which Facebook has teamed up with Snopes, the Disney Corporation (mainstream media), and more to decide for people what they are able to see on Facebook’s platform and what they are not able to see. We now have outside agencies determining for us what is real and what is fake, rather than us doing it for ourselves. The key is not to censor information, but rather teach people how to think critically and examine sources.

“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand.  The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk.  We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science.  We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters.  We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians.  Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”

– Rev. Frederick T. Gates, Business Advisor to John D. Rockefeller Sr., 1913

In school, we are simply taught to obey and memorize. If we don’t, we are punished. Each child is required to learn the accepted version of reality in order to fit into the specific mould necessary for us to become “productive” members of society. We are taught to be like everybody else, to never question the information we are given, and to move on and be a “product-full” member of society. Just like television, much of traditional education is simply programming. We are told we must do well in school in order to get a job so we can make money and pay our bills. It has nothing to do with the type of growth a human being needs. Good grades and marks do not signify intelligence. In school we are shown how to obey authority, how the world works, and what intelligence is — and is not.

Modern day education is heavily marketed as a place for us to learn, but is that really what it is? It’s just like many pharmaceutical grade medications — do they really heal, or have we simply been made to believe they do?

Prior to the late 1800s, education was a private practice that took place in private institutions or through home schooling. That all changed in 1902 when John D. Rockefeller created the General Education Board in conjunction with Frederick T. Gates, his close friend and business/personal advisor. The General Education Board was responsible for funding the American public school system, and provided over one hundred million dollars in 1902 while continuing their support beyond 1902. If we follow the money, it becomes clear that the GEB was responsible for the creation of the American public school system.

Does education not play a large role in manipulating the consciousness of human beings? By consciousness manipulation, I mean trying to influence the way that we perceive the environment around us. In order to implement this system, teachers need to teach, and somebody needs to teach the teachers, and somebody needs to teach them, too. It’s time we start questioning the real purpose of education, who exactly is putting human beings through this system, and for what purpose.

One cannot think for themselves in this type of environment. Real education comes from the individual, and has nothing to do with schooling.

“I want a nation of workers, not thinkers.” – John D. Rockefeller

A Real Education

I believe a real education comes from within. It is those who are passionate and curious about this world who will become truly educated, rather than receive the “education” that is used to obtain a piece of paper, so we can earn more pieces of paper in order to live.

Think of a child and how curious they are; the truly educated adult is the one who has maintained that curiosity and wonder.

All of the information presented in school can be accessed through the library. Does our continued support of the educational system, therefore, really stem from an innate desire to learn, or are we simply motivated by the idea of a good life? Do we simply want to fit in, make money, and get a job that people respect?

Forcing children through this system, into their early adulthood with post-secondary education, leaves them with no time to learn about our world because they are kept busy learning what the government wants us to learn.

We are almost at a point where it seems we’ve completely lost our critical thinking and questioning ability; the moment one questions something that is accepted by society, like eating meat for example, or the official story behind 9/11, one is instantly met with criticism and ridicule from people who haven’t bothered to research these issues for themselves.

The good news is that, with the birth of multiple social media platforms, the public now has access to information and sources that were not available to them before. We’ve seen billions of eyes viewing some sensitive information, which means there is something important happening. It means that millions of people are starting to question the world around them. This simple questioning opens the door to investigation, critical thinking, and answers. To question what mainstream media says, to question what governments tell us, as Snowden has alluded to so many times, is the duty of a true patriot.

These things are definitely not learned in the classroom, and there’s no doubt that education is key to changing our world, but school as we know it is not.

“Never confuse education with intelligence.”

– Albert Einstein

Reprinted with permission from Collective Evolution.

The post Forget the Classroom appeared first on LewRockwell.

Nourish Your Body

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

You’ve probably heard of superfoods that work to promote good health, but you may not be aware of what they are. There are numerous everyday food items that offer great health benefits that are affordable and you can easily incorporate them into your daily diet.

If you want to start nourishing your body and improving your health, you’ll want to include the following superfoods into your everyday diet.

Superfoods to add to your diet

Spinach: Spinach is great as a muscle builder, and it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Furthermore, spinach is hailed as being much healthier than kale—a previously very popular superfood. The nutrients in spinach help improve blood flow, especially to areas “below the belt,” which can help improve sexual function. Spinach also packs nutrients that work to improve vision. It can easily be incorporated into dishes both hot and cold.

Instant Access to Current Spot Prices & Interactive Charts

Yogurt: Yogurt contains organisms that aid in digestion, but that’s only if you purchase the variety that contains “live and active cultures.” Additionally, the helpful bacteria in yogurt can boost your immune system, and it contains essential calcium and protein. Yogurt can be used on entrees, eaten alone, or added to smoothies. Be sure to get the kind that isn’t loaded with sugar.

Tomatoes: Consuming fresh tomatoes helps your body absorb all the essential nutrients. Some studies have linked these nutrients to lowered cancer risks along with coronary artery disease.

Carrots: You are probably familiar with the notion that carrots aid in vision health. This is true, but they also contain properties that can help reduce inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, they are low in calories and easy to prepare.

Blueberries: Blueberries are loaded with powerful antioxidants that work to fight off free radical damage, which can contribute to the deterioration of bodily functions. They are also a reliable source of fiber.

Black beans: All bean varieties are good for your heart, but black beans have an added benefit—they are good for your brain too. Black beans are also a low-caloric food and do not contain saturated fat.

Walnuts: These nuts are known to promote heart health along with having anti-inflammatory properties—more so than red wine! Walnuts also contain muscle-building protein, nearly half as much as chicken, so they are a great vegetarian or vegan source of protein.

Oats: They are hailed for their fiber content, which doesn’t just aid in digestion but can also help reduce bad cholesterol. Oats are also packed with protein, which helps you feel fuller for longer, making them a great breakfast food.

If you’re already eating these superfoods on the regular, then great—you’re well on your way to good health. If you aren’t, then at least you’re aware of which foods can work to improve your health.

Reprinted with permission from Bel Marra Health.

The post Nourish Your Body appeared first on LewRockwell.

Crash Scenario

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

The one thing we can know with certainty is it won’t be easy to profit from the crash.

After 8+ years of phenomenal gains, it’s pretty obvious the global stock market rally is overdue for a credit-cycle downturn, and many research services of Wall Street heavyweights are sounding the alarm about the auto industry’s slump, the slowing of new credit and other fundamental indicators that a recession is becoming more likely.

Few have taken the risk of projecting a date for the crash, this gent being a gutsy outlier: Hedge Fund CIO Sets The Day When The Next Crash Begins.

Next February is a good guess, as recessions and market downturns tend to lag the credit market by about 9 months.

Buy Silver at Discounted Prices

My own scenario is based not on cycles or technicals or fundamentals, but on the psychology of the topping process, which tends to follow this basic script:

When there are too many bearish reports of gloomy data, and too many calls to go long volatility or go to cash, the market perversely goes up, not down.

Why? This negativity creates a classic Wall of Worry that markets can continue climbing. (Central banks buying $300 billion of assets a month helps power this gradual ascent most admirably.) The Bears betting on a decline based on deteriorating fundamentals are crushed by the steady advance.

As Bears give up, the window for a Spot of Bother decline creaks open, however grudgingly, as central banks make noises about ending their extraordinary monetary policies by raising interest rates a bit (so they can lower them when the next recession grabs the global economy by the throat).

As bearish short interest and bets on higher volatility fade, insiders go short.

A sudden air pocket takes the market down, triggered by some bit of “news.” (Nothing like a well-engineered bout of panic selling to set up a profitable Buy the Dip opportunity.)

And since traders have been well-trained to Buy the Dips, the Spot of Bother is quickly retraced.

Nonetheless, doubts remain and fundamental data is still weak; this overhang of negativity rebuilds the wall of Worry.

Some Bears will reckon the weakened market will double-top, i.e. be unable to break out to new highs given the poor fundamentals, and as a result, we can anticipate a nominal new high after the Wall of Worry has been rebuilt, just to destroy all those who reckoned a double-top would mark The Top.

Mr. Market (and the central banks) won’t make it that easy to reap a fortune by going short.

As the market lofts to new nominal highs, the remaining Bears will be hesitant to go short, and Bulls will note that despite the dire warnings of analysts and the gloomy data on auto sales, credit expansion, productivity, wages, etc., the market keeps chugging higher.

Read the Whole Article

The post Crash Scenario appeared first on LewRockwell.

When Economic Disaster Hits

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

“I joined the Navy to see the world. I’ve seen it. Now how do I get out?”

Readers will most likely be familiar with “Dear Abby,” the American advice column that has been popular since its inception in 1956. The above question was sent to her in 1981 but may be even more relevant today.

It will be no secret to readers of this publication that some of the formally most-prominent, most-free jurisdictions in the world are now in a state of serious decline and face economic, social, and possibly political collapse. Although their level of influence is still close to their all-time high, they’re each at a precipice from which they may soon fall.

The great majority of our readers were born in these jurisdictions and, at present, still live there. Many of them read publications such as this in order to find out whether it will still be feasible to safely remain where they are in the future and, if not, where else they might go.

Not surprisingly, those of us who are not citizens of these jurisdictions and/or do not reside in them have a very different perspective.

Instant Access to Current Spot Prices & Interactive Charts

In my frequent meetings with those struggling with the decision of whether to expatriate, the one comment that I hear most often is, “What can you do? The whole world’s falling apart. There’s no escape.”

Yet this is not the case. Although we’re witnessing the final peak of empire for the US, with its closest allies (the EU, Canada, Japan, Australia, etc.) joined at the hip and in danger of being taken down at roughly the same time the giant falls, this group of countries, however powerful at present, does not comprise all the countries of the world.

To be sure, of the nearly 200 countries in the world, most all of them are directly or indirectly economically connected to the US in some way. Some receive US foreign aid that helps keep their governments afloat. Some export products to the US; some import products from them. If and when a collapse comes, their degree of dependency upon the US will determine their level of damage. However, many countries trade quite a bit less with the US and receive little or no foreign aid. These countries will be impacted to a far lesser degree. Some countries have nearly zero trade with the US and, historically, tend to operate independently of US economic and political trends.

Then there are those countries that do have an overlap with the US but are poised to actually do better economically should the US decline dramatically. To many who live in the US, and indeed in the other countries that are closely tied to it, this seems to be an impossibility. They mistakenly believe that the entire world is little more than a subsidiary to the great empire. But this is not the case.

All empires have a shelf life. All grow powerful through productivity, then become corrupted and eventually collapse under their own governmental weight. An empire’s collapse generally happens only once in anyone’s lifetime, so, when it happens, for those who witness it, it seems altogether new, yet, historically, it is a normal part of the life cycle of empires.

Each time it does occur, many people who have chosen to remain at the epicenter become casualties. The further away they are from the epicenter (economically and politically, but not necessarily geographically), the less they’re impacted.

So, if this is true, how does one choose a “safe haven” in tumultuous times? There are two separate options that serve to answer that question.

Destinations That Will Be the Least Affected

  • Determine which countries have minimal trade with at-risk countries. For example, the smaller ASEAN countries tend to buy more from each other than they do from the EU or US. Their exports tend to be the same. Similarly, South American countries tend to buy more from each other than from the US or Canada. They tend to “buy Spanish.” Even products like Coca-Cola and Hershey’s chocolate tend to be made locally under license, rather than imported from the north. This means that an economic debacle in North America will have little impact on such countries.
  • Once you’ve narrowed the field down to one or two countries, go for a visit. Go to a supermarket and hardware store. Read the labels on goods to see where they emanate from. In some countries, most goods are produced locally, or by immediate neighbours.
  • Check tourism percentages. Many countries have very few visitors from at-risk countries and, as such, won’t miss the loss in business if it dries up.
  • Investigate which countries tend to go to war. In both world wars, most countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America sat out the wars. This is significant in that these countries are more peaceable places to live if a major war breaks out. But, additionally, they’re likely to continue their level of prosperity, as they’re not draining their coffers to pay the devastating cost of war.Having examined which countries have avoided previous large wars, ask yourself if they’re likely to sit out the next war.

Destinations That Will Be Beneficially Affected

  • In a time of monetary collapse, there are always people who choose to exit rather than remain in a problem jurisdiction. Most of them tend to be those who possess enough wealth to make the exit easy. From the standpoint of the destination country, this means an injection of wealth and investment, which in turn means that the destination country prospers more than it did in normal times. Such countries are rife with opportunity in such times.
  • Some countries (especially empires) rely on muscle to establish and maintain their position in the world. Many other countries (particularly smaller ones) tend to focus instead on providing opportunity to attract new residents. In difficult economic times, the former group tends to be hit hard; the latter group tends to thrive.

In reviewing possible destination countries, select those that, although they may offer a different lifestyle from your present one, that lifestyle is one that you can easily adapt to and possibly even prefer.

A final point: Those who live in prosperous countries tend to visit other countries from a tourist standpoint. However, if one’s home country is in decline, it’s wise to spend those tourist dollars by travelling to countries that are potential alternative homes and, whilst there, instead of going to the beach bar for daiquiris, spend time examining the lifestyle for residents, cost of living, business opportunities, etc.

For those individuals like the one who wrote to Dear Abby, there’s unquestionably an answer to the question, “How do I get out?” In fact, there are a host of answers amongst the nearly 200 countries in the world. Rather than complain that, say, Ghana is not a positive choice, consider Singapore or Thailand. Rather than state that Nicaragua will not work for you, focus instead on Uruguay or the British Virgin Islands.

In any era, there are a variety of choices, some worse than your home country, some better. Amongst the latter, there’s tremendous opportunity.

Find your alternate home.

Reprinted with permission from International Man.

The post When Economic Disaster Hits appeared first on LewRockwell.

We Need Rules, Libertarians

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

So asks Jordan Peterson.  In response, he offers food for thought:

The probability that it’s the friendliest and nicest people is very, very low.

I suggest that what he is saying is that the probability that it’s the meanest and nastiest people is very, very high.

Hans Hoppe weighs in on this topic: Why Bad Men Rule:

Free entry and competition in the production of goods is good, but free competition in the production of bads is not. Free entry into the business of torturing and killing innocents, or free competition in counterfeiting or swindling, for instance, is not good; it is worse than bad.

To this we could add Hayek’s well-known chapter from his book Road to Serfdom, Why the Worst Get on Top.

Libertarian political philosophy offers, perhaps, the fewest rules of any political philosophy devised by man.  Really, it offers only one rule: do not initiate aggression.  I guess the only way to have fewer rules is to offer no rule at all regarding aggression – but then you would have no political philosophy.  We need not concern ourselves with this absurdity.

Time to buy old US gold coins

In other words, libertarian political philosophy comes closest to the condition described by Peterson: there are no rules.  Therefore, his question is very appropriate for those grounded in libertarian theory to address: in such a condition, who leads?  Who makes the rules?

Many libertarians would answer: no one.  Each individual is an autonomous economic actor, to be bound only by voluntary contractual agreements.  This sound good in theory.

I have often posed the question: when has [insert any utopian political scheme] worked out well in practice?  Limited government, communism, fascism, democratic socialism, etc.  Show me when some men ruling over other men under any of these schemes has worked out well for those not in the ruling class.  A fair question.

I suggest another fair question: has there ever been a meaningful (I will even accept “minor”) example of a society ruled by no one?  While I acknowledge that I am no scholar in such matters, in all of my reading the most decentralized societies I have found still have rulers: patriarchs in tribes, nobles in the European Middle Ages, etc.

My point?  As I have written too often, when we consider the application of libertarian theory in this world, we should consider that human beings live in it.  Never in recorded human history, to my understanding, has there been a meaningful, sustained period of “no ruler.”

“Yes, bionic, but pure libertarianism has never been tried.”  Of course.  Apologists for communism would say the same thing.  Maybe that’s the point.  It hasn’t been “tried” because human nature disallows it from being tried.  Given human nature, why would we expect such a utopian outcome?

I return to the basis of libertarian theory: the non-aggression principle.  Even in this least-rule-bound political theory, there are many open questions subject to interpretation.  I will offer two:

Define “aggression”; define “property.”

I can say with 100% certainty there will never be universally accepted definitions of either of these terms – even the most dedicated libertarian thinkers cannot agree on the meaning of these terms regarding many topics: abortion, immigration, intellectual property, punishment, restitution, threats, fraud, etc.  How would we expect mankind as a whole (heck, even you and your immediate neighbors) to have total agreement on these?

So…who will decide?  Who will make the rules?  Who will provide the definitions?

I have offered my answer: culture; custom; the old and good law.  Something no one individual can overcome; something no one individual can overrule or erase.

Do you have a better answer?  Because, if you don’t, go back and read Hoppe and Hayek.  That’s your answer.  You choose to be ruled by men, and you choose to be ruled by the worst of these.

Conclusion

Absent a well-defined and widely accepted culture there is no hope of moving toward a libertarian world.  Such a culture is not a sufficient condition (as not all cultures are conducive to libertarianism), but it is certainly a necessary condition.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

The post We Need Rules, Libertarians appeared first on LewRockwell.

Gov’t Peeping Toms Abound

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

“We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)

The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Buy Silver at Discounted Prices

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.

By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.

The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”

Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.

Using this rationale, the government has justified hacking into and collecting an estimated 180 million user records from Google and Yahoo data centers every month because the data travels over international fiber-optic cables. The NSA program, dubbed MUSCULAR, is carried out in concert with British intelligence.

No wonder the NSA appeared so unfazed about the USA Freedom Act, which was supposed to put an end to the NSA’s controversial collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls.

The NSA had already figured out a way to accomplish the same results (illegally spying on Americans’ communications) without being shackled by the legislative or judicial branches of the government.

The USA Freedom Act was just a placebo pill intended to make the citizenry feel better and let the politicians take credit for reforming mass surveillance. In other words, it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control, corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring, militarized banana republic.

In fact, more than a year before politicians attempted to patch up our mortally wounded privacy rights with the legislative band-aid fix that is the USA Freedom Act, researchers at Harvard and Boston University documented secret loopholes that allow government agents to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens.

Mind you, this metadata collection now being carried out overseas is just a small piece of the surveillance pie.

The government and its corporate partners have a veritable arsenal of surveillance programs that will continue to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret black ops budget.

In other words, the surveillance state is alive and well and kicking privacy to shreds in America.

On any given day, the average American going about his daily business is monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

We have now moved into a full-blown police state that is rapidly shifting into high-gear under the auspices of the surveillance state.

Not content to merely transform local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are working to turn the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.

Add in the fusion centers, city-wide surveillance networks, data clouds conveniently hosted overseas by Amazon and Microsoft, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras, and biometric databases, and you’ve got the makings of a world in which “privacy” is reserved exclusively for government agencies.

Thus, the NSA’s “technotyranny”  is the least of our worries.

A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing cannot be reformed from the inside out.

Presidents, politicians, and court rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages, transactions, communications and activities.

Even with restrictions on its ability to collect mass quantities of telephone metadata, the government and its various spy agencies, from the NSA to the FBI, can still employ an endless number of methods for carrying out warrantless surveillance on Americans, all of which are far more invasive than the bulk collection program.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to spy on the American people.

And of course that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine. Indeed, Facebook, Amazon and Google are among the government’s closest competitors when it comes to carrying out surveillance on Americans, monitoring the content of your emails, tracking your purchases, exploiting your social media posts and turning that information over to the government.

“Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Most Americans emit a stream of personal digital exhaust — what they search for, what they buy, who they communicate with, where they are — that is captured and exploited in a largely unregulated fashion.”

It’s not just what we say, where we go and what we buy that is being tracked.

We’re being surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through computer programs that can break the data down into unique “identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its corporate allies for their respective uses.

All of those internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers to them as “(data) pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smart watches that can monitor our blood pressure and the smart phones that let us pay for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

For instance, imagine what the NSA could do (and is likely already doing) with voiceprint technology, which has been likened to a fingerprint. Described as “the next frontline in the battle against overweening public surveillance,” the collection of voiceprints is a booming industry for governments and businesses alike.

As The Guardian reports, “voice biometrics could be used to pinpoint the location of individuals. There is already discussion about placing voice sensors in public spaces… multiple sensors could be triangulated to identify individuals and specify their location within very small areas.”

Suddenly the NSA’s telephone metadata program seems like child’s play compared to what’s coming down the pike.

That, of course, is the point.

The NSA is merely one small part of the shadowy Deep State comprised of unelected bureaucrats who march in lockstep with profit-driven corporations that actually runs Washington, DC, and works to keep us under surveillance and, thus, under control.

For example, Google openly works with the NSA, Amazon has built a massive $600 million intelligence database for CIA, and the telecommunications industry is making a fat profit by spying on us for the government.

In other words, Corporate America is making a hefty profit by aiding and abetting the government in its domestic surveillance efforts.

At every turn, we have been handicapped in our quest for transparency, accountability and a representative government by an establishment culture of secrecy: secret agencies, secret experiments, secret military bases, secret surveillance, secret budgets, and secret court rulings, all of which exist beyond our reach, operate outside our knowledge, and do not answer to “we the people.”

Incredibly, there are still individuals who insist that they have nothing to fear from the police state and nothing to hide from the surveillance state, because they have done nothing wrong.

To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning.

There is no safe place and no watertight alibi.

The danger posed by the American police/surveillance state applies equally to all of us: lawbreaker and law-abider alike, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, blue collar and white collar, and any other distinction you’d care to trot out.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in an age of too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the American taxpayer, we are all guilty of some transgression or other.

Eventually, we will all be made to suffer the same consequences in the electronic concentration camp that surrounds us.

The post Gov’t Peeping Toms Abound appeared first on LewRockwell.

London Terror Suspect

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

On this episode of The Geopolitical Report, we uncover Salman Abedi’s, the Manchester suicide bomber, link to British intelligence. MI5 explains that it missed warnings on Abedi despite one sent by the FBI. This is part of a larger pattern. Since the 1990s, the British government has given jihadi terrorists a free hand to preach hate and murder while they worked simultaneously with British secret services. Leading imams Anjem Choudary, Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza al-Masri, and others have cooperated with the government. Intelligence agencies from Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands have repeatedly warned British authorities about the terror plans of these dangerous individuals, and yet they were allowed to continue their work. Theresa May said she expects MI5 to review how three terrorists slipped through the net to launch the London Bridge attack. Criticism of British secret services and police by the prime minister, however, will only last as long as the news cycle on the latest terror attack. Wahhabi spawned terror groups are a geopolitical asset for the state and will continue to be used to add finishing touches to an expanding surveillance and police state.

Time to buy old US gold coins

Read the Whole Article

The post London Terror Suspect appeared first on LewRockwell.

Illinois & Puerto Rico

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

If Gov. Bruce Rauner and his legislature in Springfield do not put a budget together by Friday, the Land of Lincoln will be the first state in the Union to see its debt plunge into junk-bond status.

Illinois has $14.5 billion in overdue bills, $130 billion in unfunded pension obligations and no budget. “We can’t manage our money,” says Rauner. “We’re like a banana republic.”

Speaking of banana republics, Puerto Rico, which owes $74 billion to creditors who hold its tax-exempt bonds, and $40 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, has already entered bankruptcy proceedings.

The island’s imaginative 38-year-old governor, Ricardo Rossello, however, has a solution. Call Uncle Sam. On June 11, Rossello held a plebiscite, with a 23 percent turnout, that voted 97 percent to make Puerto Rico our 51st state.

Time to buy old US gold coins

“(T)he federal government will no longer be able to ignore the voice of the majority of the American citizens in Puerto Rico,” said Rossello. Washington cannot “demand democracy in other parts of the world, and not respond to the legitimate right to self-determination that was exercised today in the American territory of Puerto Rico.”

Had the governor been talking about the island’s right to become free and independent, he would have had a point. But statehood inside the USA is something Uncle Sam decides.

Rossello calls to mind Count Mountjoy of Grand Fenwick, who, in “The Mouse that Roared,” plotted to rescue his bankrupt duchy by declaring war on the U.S., sailing to America to surrender, and then demanding the foreign aid America bestows on defeated enemies.

Yet Puerto Rico’s defaults on its debts may soon be our problem. Many bond funds in which Americans have invested their savings and retirement money are full of Puerto Rican bonds.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas and Guam are in the same boat. With 100,000 people, the Virgin Islands owe $6.5 billion to pensioners and creditors.

Then there is Connecticut, a state that has long ranked in the top tier in per capita income and wealth.

Connecticut, too, appears wobbly. Rising pension benefits, the cost of servicing the state debt and falling tax revenue due to fleeing residents and companies like Aetna and General Electric, have dropped Connecticut to near the national bottom in growth prospects.

“The state’s population is falling: Its net domestic out-migration was nearly 30,000 from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, it lost slightly more than 8,000 people, leaving its population at 3.6 million,” reports Fox News: “(R)ecent national moving company surveys (show) more people leaving Connecticut than moving in. In 2016, the state also saw a population decline for the third consecutive year.”

As its example of a welfare state going belly up, the E.U. offers us Greece. And questions arise from all of these examples. Is this an inexorable trend? Has the old New Deal formula of “tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect” finally run its course?

Across the West, social welfare states are threatened by falling revenues, taxpayer flight, rising debt as a share of GDP, sinking bond ratings and proliferating defaults.

Record high social welfare spending is among the reasons that Western nations skimp on defense. Even the Americans, who spent 9 percent of GDP on defense under President Kennedy and 6 percent under President Reagan, are now well below that, though U.S. security commitments are as great as they were in the Cold War.

Among NATO nations, the U.S. is among the least socialist, with less than 40 percent of GDP consumed by government at all levels. France, with 57 percent of GDP siphoned off, is at the opposite pole.

Yet even here in America we no longer grow at 4 percent a year, or even 3 percent. We seem to be nearing a point of government consumption beyond the capacity of the private sector to provide the necessary funds.

Some Democrats are discovering there are limits to how much the government can consume of the nation’s wealth without adversely affecting their own fortunes. And in the Obamacare debate this week, Republicans are running head-on into the reality that clawing back social welfare benefits already voted may be political suicide.

Has democratic socialism passed its apogee?

Native-born populations in the West are aging, shrinking and dying, not reproducing themselves. The cost of pensions and health care for the elderly is inexorably going up. Immigration into the West, almost entirely from the Third World, is bringing in peoples who, on balance, take more in social welfare than they pay in taxes.

Deficits and national debts as a share of GDP are rising. Almost nowhere does one see the old robust growth rates returning. And the infrastructure of the West – roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, airports, subways, train tracks – continues to crumble for lack of investment.

The days of interstate highway systems and moon shots seem to be behind us. Are Puerto Rico and Illinois the harbingers of what is to come?

The post Illinois & Puerto Rico appeared first on LewRockwell.

Crack Down on ‘Money Laundering’ and ‘ISIS’

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:01

Survival Saturday is a round-up of the week’s news and resources for folks who are interested in being prepared.

This Week in the News

This week on Survival Saturday, we’ll talk about the new bill to fight ISIS by forcing us to tell the bank where we keep our money, cop “warrior” training, and people being replaced by digital kiosks.

Congress cracks down on “money laundering” and “ISIS” with a bill to make you file forms about where you keep your money.

It’s all for our own good, of course.

A bill introduced in Congress on May 25th would make it illegal to keep your money outside of the bank unless you file paperwork explaining where you’re keeping it.

Time to buy old US gold coins

This includes cash, Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, prepaid mobile phones, retail gift vouchers, or even electronic coupons.

Always remember that registration is the first step toward confiscation. This is true whether it’s guns or whether it’s money.

Loathsome Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be thrilled with the bill, as it also greatly expands the government’s reach in Civil Asset Forfeiture (theft without due process). Sessions is a huge proponent of Civil Asset Forfeiture, which to me negates anything positive he could ever bring to any position of power.

This new bill adds a laundry list of offenses for which they can legally seize your assets… all of which pertain to money laundering and other financial crimes.

Here’s the thing, though: they’ve also vastly expanded on the definition of such ‘financial crimes’, including failure to fill out a form if you happen to be transporting more than $10,000 worth of ‘monetary instruments’.

Have too much cash? You’d better tell the government.

If not, they’re authorizing themselves in this bill to seize not just the money you didn’t report, but ALL of your assets and bank accounts.

They even go so far as to specifically name “safety deposit boxes” among the various assets that they can seize if you don’t fill out the form. (source)

So, let’s assume this bill passes. If you don’t fill out their forms and you get caught, they can take everything you own. Without a trial or any due process of law.

Your house.

Your car.

Your other bank accounts.

Oh, and after they take all your stuff and impoverish your family, they’ll throw you in jail for 10 years. For not reporting $10,000 in cash, prepaid stuff, and cryptocurrency.

This’ll sure hurt ISIS.

This makes the “Patriot” Act look warm and fuzzy in comparison and will be every bit as useless in the “War on Terror.”

It’s more like a War on Freedom.

Is cop “Warrior Training” why CCW holder Philando Castile died?

Speaking of war, there is a dangerous trend in police training that could be responsible for the death of innocent men like Philando Castile. There are courses like “Bulletproof Warrior” designed to teach cops how to make the decision to kill. (Hat tip to my friend Steve for this one.)

The most popular of these are taught by Dave Grossman, whose website is literally called “Killology.com” and his business partner Jim Glennon. Here’s the blurb on his homepage:

KILLOLOGY, (n): The scholarly study of the destructive act, just as sexology is the scholarly study of the procreative act. In particular, killology focuses on the reactions of healthy people in killing circumstances (such as police and military in combat) and the factors that enable and restrain killing in these situations.

Here is some of the mindset taught in these classes:

In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives. The room chuckles. But he’s clearly serious. “Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.” (source)

Here is a creepy video of Grossman talking about killing (and sex) from a “scholarly” point of view.

And then there is the class that Officer Yanez himself attended in 2014:

The seminar was called “The Bulletproof Warrior,” and the instructors urged the law enforcement officers in the hotel conference room to make the decision to shoot if they ever feel their lives are threatened.

Videos of bloody shootouts between police and civilians emphasized a key point: Hesitation can kill you.

In the audience at the May 2014 seminar was a young St. Anthony police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, city records show. He’s now known around the world as the officer who killed Philando Castile minutes after making a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last week. (source)

Officer Yanez had been a regular attendee of “officer survival” courses that had militaristic leanings.

According to this article, Glennon was a co-instructor of the course that Yanez attended. A non-police officer named William Czech who attended the same course says he was horrified at the content.

He said he expected to see a presentation about understanding both how to avoid using deadly force as well as how to realize when it’s unavoidable. Czech said the course consistently emphasized the risk of hesitation.

A copy of the seminar booklet that he made shows a page titled “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” It cites Bible verses that emphasize prohibitions on murder, not all killing.

On the second day, the group watched the shootout videos. One is the particularly gruesome dashcam video of Andrew Brannan pulling over in his white truck in Georgia in 1998 and then shooting Deputy Kyle Dinkheller to death.

Czech said Glennon ran that part of the seminar.

“Every time a video came up where the officer hesitated, he would stop and he would say ‘This is a point where there should have been a reaction, he should have engaged,’ ” Czech said. (source)

Glennon downplayed Czech’s assessment, saying he just doesn’t understand.

He called Czech’s interpretation of the seminar “totally inaccurate.”

“That’s why we don’t let the press in,” Glennon said.

…The Bible verses are part of a discussion about officers dealing with guilt following a shooting, he said. (source)

Grossman and Glennon aren’t the only ones out there who recommend escalating the violence in our police forces.

When it comes to teaching cops how to escalate, how to see the world as their enemy and how to find the courage to kill more people, more often, there’s no shortage of options. (The syllabus for one of these courses includes a page of Bible verses relating to when it’s moral and just to kill.) It’s part and parcel with the pseudoscience churned out by William Lewinski at the Force Science Institute in Minnesota, who also preaches that cops should learn to become more lethal (and will testify in court for any cop who takes his advice). (source)

Did training like this actually make Officer Yanez more fearful and thus, more likely to shoot an innocent man? I saw the dashcam video. It certainly looked to me like the situation could have been de-escalated, and that Mr. Castile, a CCW holder, tried to do the right thing. We can all armchair quarterback what happened that day. But the bottom line is that Officer Yanez not only shot an innocent man, he fired 7 rounds into a car with a 4-year-old girl and a woman in there. He panicked. He did exactly what his extracurricular training had taught him to do. He didn’t hesitate. And a judge and jury were okay wth that.

Don’t take it from me or from some secondhand reports. Here’s a video of one of Grossman’s seminars. What do you think of this training?

McDonald’s is replacing thousands of humans with kiosks.

What a surprise. No one saw this coming when they raised the wage for unskilled labor beyond what the market would bear.

In a report released this week by Cowen’s Andrew Charles, the analyst calculates the jump in sales as a result of the company’s new Experience of the Future strategy which anticipates that digital ordering kiosks (shown above) will replace cashiers in at least 2,500 restaurants by the end of 2017 and another 3,000 over 2018. Cowen also cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. (source)

Thank goodness now everyone is getting a “living wage.”  Well, everyone with a job and there will be fewer and fewer of those.

This Week in Preparedness…

The news above is a warning about the future.

We’re losing our personal sovereignty. Our ability to own property and hold wealth is at risk. Our police forces are becoming ever more militarized. And if you are unskilled, heck, even if you are skilled, finding a job is going to become increasingly difficult as more of us are replaced by robots. Heck, I read last week that a lot of the content being created out there in Internetland is no longer being written by people, but by computer software.

Now, more than ever, you need to get your skills and preps in order. Get some money put aside before that awful bill (or another one that’s even more Draconian) gets passed. Learn how to be self-reliant so that you don’t depend so much on your income. Learn survival skills so that in the midst of an epic disaster, you will know exactly what to do.

Grow some food.

Build a barter community.

Live beneath your means.

Save up for a rainy day.

Do it now, because once it’s too late, you will have only your regrets to feed you and keep you warm.

Reprinted with permission from The Organic Prepper.

The post Crack Down on ‘Money Laundering’ and ‘ISIS’ appeared first on LewRockwell.

Pages

Join Forum

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.

Best of the Web