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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Surprise

Unsuspecting,

​ ​A billionaire philanthropist and technology investor told the graduating class of Morehouse College that he would wipe out the student debt of the entire graduating class, estimated to be around $40 million, according to Time.
 Robert F. Smith, this year’s commencement speaker, made the announcement Sunday morning while addressing nearly 400 graduating seniors of the all-male historically black college in Atlanta. Smith is the Founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that invests in software, data, and technology-driven companies.
​ ​"On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus," said Smith, adding "This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans." 
​ ​Stunned students looked around in disbelief upon the announcement, before breaking into wild applause. Morehouse said it is the single largest give to the university.
​ ​Smith - who received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse as part of the ceremony, had already announced a gift of $1.5 million to the college. He said he expected the graduates to "pay it forward," and said he hoped that "every class has the same opportunity going forward."
​ ​In the weeks before graduating from Morehouse on Sunday, 22-year-old finance major Aaron Mitchum drew up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay back his $200,000 in student loans — 25 years at half his monthly salary, per his calculations.
​ ​In an instant, that number vanished. Mitchum, sitting in the crowd, wept.


 Speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Gabbard said that deteriorating relationships with nuclear-armed countries such as Russia and China "has brought us to a very dangerous point," reports The Hill. She added that, if elected, she would "end these counterproductive and wasteful regime change wars," and would "work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race." 
On Friday, the Daily Beast published a story claiming that Gabbard "is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood," based on people who had donated to her campaign. (We somehow missed the Daily Beast article on Hillary's alleged Saudi donors in 2016, but we digress).
 On Sunday, Stephanopoulos asked Gabbard about the Beast article, and noted that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as her defense of Russia's military presence in Syria, and her comments suggesting that Russian election interference was on par with American election meddling around the world. 
​ ​"Is Putin a threat to national security?" he asked.
 ​"You now it's unfortunately you're citing that article, George, because it's a whole lot of fake news. What I'm focused on is what's in the best interest of the American people​.​ What's in the best interest of national security? Keeping American people safe," said Gabbard. "And what I'm pointing out consistently, time and time again, is our continued wasteful regime change wars have been counterproductive to the interests of the American people and the approach this administration has taken in essentially choosing conflict ... has been counterproductive to national security."

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-19/tulsi-gabbard-says-boost-putin-bots-fake-news  

​ Iraq has spent the better share of the last 16 years under US military occupation. Despite this, time and again US-Iraqi relations have come to be defined by US hostility toward neighboring Iran, and Iraq’s desire to not get mixed up in that.
​ ​So while Iraq’s parliament was already bristling under Pentagon talk of staying in Iraq, and Trump saying that the US was staying in Iraq to “keep an eye on Iran,” the recent escalation of US rhetoric about a war against Iran has sparked action within parliament.
​ ​It has been said for awhile that Iraq will be voting on a bill that would aim to expel all foreign troops from Iraqi soil, and singles out US troops in particular as needing to leave. The bill is endorsed by Iraq’s top two Shi’ite blocs, and is expected to pass fairly easily.

​Former UK Ambassador, Craig Murray:​
​ ​The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.
​ ​It was a rotten system, bound to collapse. But unfortunately, it was a system in which the political elite were so financially bound that the consequences of collapse threatened their place in the social order. So collapse was prevented, by the use of the systems of government to effect the largest ever single event transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the course of human history. Politicians bailed out the bankers by using the bankers’ own systems, and even permitted the bankers to charge the public for administering their own bailout, and charge massive interest on the money they were giving to themselves. This method meant that the ordinary people did not immediately feel all the pain, but they certainly felt it over the following decade of austerity as the massive burden of public debt that had been loaded on the populace and simply handed to the bankers, crippled the public finances.
​ ​The mechanisms of state and corporate propaganda kicked in to ensure that the ordinary people were told that rather than having been robbed, they had been saved. In the ensuing decade the wealth disparity between rich and poor has ever widened, to the extent that this week the BBC announced the UK now has 151 billionaires, in a land where working people resort to foodbanks and millions of children are growing up in poverty.
​ ​With the mainstream media employed entirely in diverting them from the true causes of their difficult lives, it is hardly surprising that ordinary people do not necessarily understand why a society has arisen where working hard does not enable them to eat and stay warm, and why the economic prospects of their children look so bleak.


​A Brief History of Doom, Reviewed by Economista, Steve Keen
​ ​This brief book (196 pages, excluding endnotes) on the history and causes of financial crises usurps Kindleberger's Manias, Panics, and Crashes (Kindleberger 1978) and Mackay's Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (Mackay 1852) as the definitive work on this vital topic. It surpasses both these works for several reasons, not the least of which is the career and experience of the author.
​ ​Mackay was a journalist and gifted writer; Kindleberger, an economist with an impressive record in both public service and academia. Both of them observed financial manias and crashes from their respective professional perches, outside the financial system itself.
​ ​Vague is an ex-banker, whose fortune was carved in the financial crisis emanating from the bursting of the 1979 oil shock bubble, whose hands-on management established two of America's biggest consumer credit card companies (First USA, which he sold Bank One in 1997, and Juniper Financial, which he sold to Barclays PLC in 2004), and whose professional access to the voluminous data he saw on the explosion in mortgage debt - from $6 trillion in 2002 to $9 trillion in 2005 - led him to anticipate the Subprime Crisis and exit banking altogether. Vague has seen financial crises from the inside - and not merely survived but prospered.
​ ​In the hands of most Americans, this experience would lead to a "How to Get Rich" book. Vague's ambition with this book is very different: to make society richer by understanding what causes financial crises, and thereby preventing them in the first place.​..
​ ​The book concludes with a short chapter on the prospects for crises in the immediate future - unlikely for the USA, ameliorated for China by its uniquely powerful government (but if there is no credit crisis, there is and will still be massive overcapacity) - and a brief discussion of remedies. Vague is (pardon the pun Richard!) a bit vague here. Like me, he recommends that the aggregate level of private debt and the rate of growth of that debt - otherwise known as credit - should be made a key economic indicator, every bit as important as the unemployment rate or the rate of inflation:
​ ​The surest method to detect these dangers ... is to measure aggregate lending totals in the whole and by sector. Where loan growth is extraordinary in relation to GDP, it is almost certain that lending standards have been relaxed. It should then be a straightforward matter for regulators to intervene as needed. (p. 194)
​ ​He also notes that, from the historical record, the recommendation that countries with high private debt to GDP levels should grow their way out of it appears impossible:
​ ​Instead, private deleveraging in a given country has almost always occurred through one of three means: offsetting very high growth in public debt, which brings its own concerns; very high and sustained inflation, which is painful; or a very large net export position, which is hard to sustain without trade repercussions. Private debt deleveraging, absent any of these three things, reduces asset values and has a contracting impact on GDP, bringing duress. (p. 195)
 ​He recommends instead "a broader strategy of debt restructuring or forgiveness" (p. 195), but without going into details of how this might be done.


Is this from Helen Buyniski? I can't keep up.​
 ​Facebook has uncovered an extensive Israeli-run political influence campaign that has been ‘changing reality according to clients' wishes’ targeting elections in African, Latin America and Asian nations for years.
​ ​The social media platform has shut down 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 23 groups, 12 events, and four Instagram accounts run out of Israel, citing its policy on “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”...
​ ​The fake accounts masqueraded as locals and local news outlets, pumping out glowing stories and smear jobs on candidates in local elections, including allegedly leaked information. The campaign primarily targeted Nigeria, Tunisia, Angola, Senegal, Togo, and Niger, though “some activity” focused on Southeast Asia and Latin America, according to a Facebook post by Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s head of cybersecurity policy, on Thursday.
​ ​The Israelis had invested considerable time and money into the deception, dropping about $812,000 on ads over the past seven years in dollars, shekels, and Brazilian reals. This is compared to roughly $100,000 mainstream media claims was spent on ‘Russian bots’ to allegedly sway the 2016 US presidential election.
​ ​Facebook has been much less forthcoming about this particular campaign than some previous mass takedowns, perhaps because the culprits aren’t linked to Russia or Iran, while Facebook regularly cooperates with the Israeli government to have politically inconvenient accounts deleted.


​Fake Local​

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