Officials say the Obama administration in its waning hours defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking.
A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office.
In addition to the $221 million for the Palestinians, the Obama administration also told Congress on Friday it was going ahead with the release of another $6 million in foreign affairs spending, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations, the congressional aides said. The aides and the State Department official weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Katie Rich, a writer from an NBC comedy program, was suspended from the show after mocking Donald Trump’s son Barron on Twitter, calling the 10-year-old a “homeschool shooter.”
Social media erupted in anger, and a petition to fire her was launched.
Rich, a writer for the popular American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, posted the scandalous tweet on Friday, during the inauguration of Donald Trump.
“Barron would become the country’s first homeschool shooter,” she wrote.
Social media came down hard on Rich, harshly criticizing and condemning her attack on the 10 year-old boy.
On Sunday, a petition was launched on change.org, calling on NBC to fire the SNL writer. It had over 50 thousand signatures by Tuesday.
“All Americans should be sad and sickened at this type of verbal attack and bullying of a 10yr old boy. It has always been an unspoken rule of civility that young children of the President be off limits. Ms. Rich crossed the line with her comments,” the petition states.
Rich promptly deleted her tweet and temporarily deactivated her account. There is currently only one post on her Twitter feed – an apology to Barron.
On Monday, a person familiar with the situation told AP on condition of anonymity that Rich was suspended for an indefinite period of time.
Social media, however, was not satisfied – people continued writing that Rich “should be immediately fired.”
The election of Republican businessman Donald Trump as president of the United States has some Californians dreaming – of their own country.
One in every three California residents supports the most populous U.S. state’s peaceful withdrawal from the union, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, many of them Democrats strongly opposed to Trump’s ascension to the country’s highest office.
The 32 percent support rate is sharply higher than the last time the poll asked Californians about secession, in 2014, when one-in-five or 20 percent favored it around the time Scotland held its independence referendum and voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
California also far surpasses the national average favoring secession, which stood at 22 percent, down from 24 percent in 2014.
Just before leaving office, President Barack Obama reportedly authorized the discreet transfer of more than $227 million to foreign accounts, circumventing Republicans who were blocking the funds. Over 97 percent went to the Palestinian Authority.
According to a State Department official and several Congressional aides, the Associated Press reported, some $221 million went to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the interim self-governing Palestinian body established in 1994.
The rest of the funds were allocated to agencies around the world, with $4 million going to climate change programs for cutting emissions and creating a climate technology center, $1.25 million going to the UN Peacebuilding Fund and other UN programs, and $1.05 million going to the State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan office and the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
The funds for the Palestinian Authority were originally approved by Congress in the fiscal years 2015 to 2016 and were aimed at supporting humanitarian aid efforts in the West Bank and Gaza, but GOP lawmakers put a hold on the funds. Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took issue with funding the PA, which he claimed funds terrorism.
In a July 2016 statement by Royce, he said the PA uses US aid money as a “martyrs’ fund” to pay “the families of Palestinian prisoners and suicide bombers.”
“It’s hard to see how this ‘pay to slay’ policy wouldn’t put them on the state sponsor of terrorism list,” Royce said.
In the past, presidents have respected holds placed on funds by Congress. However, they always had the power to overturn any holds after the funds were allocated. Obama, who was a strong supporter of the Palestinian Authority, had pressed Congress for years to release the funds.
In 2012, Congress froze a $192 million aid package for the PA after President Mahmoud Abbas sought UN statehood in 2011. Obama lifted the ban, stating that the aid was “important to the security interests of the United States,” the Times of Israel reported.
President Donald Trump, who has vowed to be a pro-Israel president, has been critical of the UN’s decision to recognize the PA.
As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.
Trump’s plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem caused outrage from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who wrote an official letter to Trump, saying the move would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region.”
Trump’s pick for Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, called the Israel-Palestine two-state solution “an illusion that serves the worst intentions of both the United States and the Palestinian Arabs” in a 2016 column for Israel National News.
The Associated Press reported Monday that former President Barack Obama released $221 million in U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority on the morning of Friday, January 20 — just hours before he was to leave office.
A State Department official and several congressional aides say the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning, just before Donald Trump became president.
More than $227 million in foreign affairs funding was released at the time, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations.
At least two GOP lawmakers had placed holds on the Palestinian funds. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding.
This was not the first time Obama had granted funding to the Palestinian Authority despite Congress’s wishes. In 2012, for example, he unblocked nearly $200 million that had been frozen in response to Palestinians’ unilateral actions at the United Nations, using a legal waiver included in the Palestinian Accountability Act.
Republicans have increasingly called for blocking or canceling funding to the Palestinian Authority, not only because of unilateral diplomatic moves toward statehood, but also because of increasing evidence that funds are used to incite violence and provide financial rewards to terrorists.
Hong Kong has retained its title as the least affordable city in the world, according to a new survey ranking the most expensive cities in the world for median income earners.
The study conducted by US-based consultancy firm Demographia, which concentrated on Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and US, covers 406 housing markets in the nine countries over the third quarter of 2016.
The world’s most expensive cities to buy a house in in 2017 are:
China, Hong Kong, 18.1
Australia, Sydney 12.2
Canada, Vancouver, B.C. 11.8
N.Z., Auckland 10.0
U.S., San Jose, Calif. 9.6
Australia, Melbourne, 9.5
U.S., Honolulu, Hawaii 9.4
U.S., Los Angeles, Calif. 9.3
U.S., San Francisco, Calif. 9.2
U.K., Bournemouth & Dorset 8.9
In the study, a score of 3 or under is considered affordable, 3.1 – 4 is moderately unaffordable, 4.1 – 5 seriously unaffordable, and 5.1 and over is deemed severely unaffordable.
The survey used a metric known as the ‘median multiple’ to determine housing affordability within a city or wider metropolitan area, which determines the median multiple by dividing the median house price by the median household income.
“The ‘median multiple’ is not a perfect measure because it does not account for house sizes or build quality. But it is the only index that allows a quick comparison of different housing markets, and it is the best approximation of housing affordability measures we have to date,” the survey’s foreword notes.
According to the study, this particular metric is widely used by organizations ranging from the World Bank and the United Nations, to academic institutions like the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
The study found that among the countries studied, “there are 94 severely unaffordable markets, with 36 (of 262) in the United States, 33 (of 54) in Australia, 11 (of 33) in the United Kingdom, 7 (of 40) in Canada, 6 (of 8) in New Zealand and the one market in China. Singapore, Japan and Ireland have no severely unaffordable housing markets.”
In terms of their respective median markets, the United States is the only country surveyed that can boast a ‘moderately unaffordable’ overall median housing market. All other countries surveyed are classed as ‘seriously unaffordable.’
A variety of fighters, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft engaged in the bombing run, which saw 25 strikes in Syria and six in Iraq. In Syria, two strikes destroyed ISIS units and artillery near the town of Bab. ISIS forces in Raqqa, the terrorist group’s de facto capital, took a heavy beating, as 22 strikes destroyed 12 tactical units, nine fighting positions, two underground improvised explosive bomb factories and an ISIS headquarters. The final strike targeted two ISIS oil wells in Deir ez Zour.
The Obama administration dropped nearly 1,500 pages of regulations on the president’s final day in office Thursday, completing a fury of regulatory action since the November election.
Government agencies must file final rules and proposed rules in the Federal Register, which has had a busy couple of months, The Hill reports.
“There is a huge increase in the volume [of rules we receive] toward the end of an administration,” Miriam Kleiman, a spokeswoman for the Federal Register told The Hill. The end of President Barack Obama’s administration has been particularly heavy on regulations, however.
The Federal Register published 1,464 pages of rules Thursday, which is only the second-highest number of pages since President-elect Donald Trump won the election. The government published 1,465 pages on Nov. 18, 10 days after the election.
“It certainly is a busy time for the Federal Register,” Kleiman said.
Trump also could sign several executive orders Friday after he becomes president. “He’s got a few of them, probably in the area of four to five, that we’re looking at on Friday,” incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday.
Texas could become the 3rd state to raise the smoking age to 21, with some lawmakers saying this is the year they could make that happen.
Senator Carlos Uresti pitched raising the legal smoking age four times in the past, but this year he has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. And, Republican Senator Joan Huffman is expected to file a bill too.
S.B. 183 would increase the legal age to 21 to purchase, possess or consume tobacco or nicotine products–including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
Former President George H.W. Bush sent a letter to Donald Trump expressing his regrets he could not attend Friday’s presidential inauguration, adding he and the former first lady “will be with you and the country in spirit.”
In his letter — penned Jan. 10, before he was hospitalized Saturday for breathing problems — the former president quipped, “My doctor says if I sit outside in January, it likely will put me six feet under.”
“So I guess we’re stuck in Texas,” wrote the 92-year-old Bush, who is recovering Wednesday at the Houston Methodist Hospital after experiencing shortness of breath.
“I want you to know that I wish you the very best as you begin this incredible journey of leading our great country,” he wrote. “If I can ever be of help, please let me know.”
Following the news that cops are trying to sweat down an Amazon Echo in hopes of hearing murder-related conversations, it’s time to revisit the eavesdropping that’s gone on for years prior to today’s wealth of in-home recording devices.
One of the more recent examples can be found in a 2014 warrant that allowed New York police to trace a vehicle by demanding the satellite radio and telematics provider SiriusXM provide location information.
In this case, SiriusXM complied by turning on its “stolen vehicle recovery” mode, which allowed law enforcement to track the vehicle for ten days. SiriusXM told Forbes it only does this in response to search warrants and court orders. That may be the case for real-time tracking, but any location information captured and stored by SiriusXM can be had with nothing more than a subpoena, as this info is normally considered a third-party record.
It’s not just satellite radio companies allowing cops to engage in surreptitious tracking. OnStar and other in-vehicle services have been used by law enforcement to eavesdrop on personal conversations between drivers and passengers.
In at least two cases, individuals unwittingly had their conversations listened in on by law enforcement. In 2001, OnStar competitor ATX Technologies (which later became part of Agero) was ordered to provide “roving interceptions” of a Mercedes Benz S430V. It initially complied with the order in November of that year to spy on audible communications for 30 days, but when the FBI asked for an extension in December, ATX declined, claiming it was overly burdensome.
In 2007, the OnStar system in a Chevrolet Tahoe belonging to a Gareth Wilson in Ohio contacted OnStar staff when an emergency button was pushed. As noted in a 2008 opinion from the case, Wilson was unaware the button had been hit. Subsequently, an OnStar employee heard the occupants discussing a possible drug deal, and allowed an officer from the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office to listen to the conversation. When the vehicle was located and searched, marijuana was found and an indictment filed days later. Ironically, the suspect hadn’t even signed up to the OnStar service, but it hadn’t been switched off.
The 2001 case didn’t end well for law enforcement. It wasn’t that the court had an issue with the eavesdropping, but rather that the act of listening in limited the functionality of the in-car tech, which the court found to be overly-burdensome.
OnStar is also asked to engage in real-time tracking by law enforcement. While OnStar denies it collects location info, it too has a stolen car recovery mode that allows OnStar to track vehicles. OnStar also says it will only do this in response to warrants and court orders — or unless “exigent circumstances” necessitate the bypassing of these constitutional protections. What OnStar definitely won’t do is let the public know how many times law enforcement has asked to track vehicles. The company told Forbes it “doesn’t release the number of these requests.”
Plenty of vehicles come with built-in GPS-reliant devices, most of which perform some sort of data retention. Anything not considered to be “real-time” can be obtained without a warrant, thanks to the incredibly-outdated Third Party Doctrine. Private conversations can be captured and recorded with warrants, which makes a large number of vehicles on the road confidential informants on standby.
Courts have generally been sympathetic to law enforcement use of in-car technology, finding the use of built-in “tools” to be less intrusive than officers installing their own devices on suspects’ vehicles. Certainly law enforcement finds these pre-equipped listening/tracking devices more convenient as well.
The expansion of in-car tech has led to a great many opportunities for law enforcement, at the expense of privacy expectations. While drivers certainly can’t “reasonably” expect their travels on public roads to be “private,” the collection of location data by third parties basically puts drivers under constant surveillance, relieving law enforcement from the burden of actually having to dedicate personnel, vehicles, and equipment to this task. And if cops can’t get this location info from in-dash systems, they can probably grab it from the drivers’ cell phone service providers.
Law enforcement may find encryption to be slowing things down in terms of accessing cell phone contents, but everything else — from in-car electronics to the Internet of Things — is playing right into their hands.
The Central Intelligence Agency published more than 12 million declassified documents online Tuesday after years of restricting access.
The documents, dated from the 1940s to 1990s, surround everything from the overthrow of foreign governments to the CIA’s mind-control efforts.
Originally declassified by former President Bill Clinton in 1995, the documents were only available after the year 2000 on computers hosted at the National Archives in Washington D.C.
Joseph Lambert, the CIA’s director of information management, told Buzzfeed’s Jason Leopold publication ensures the massive cache can be accessed by anyone “from the comfort of your own home.”
“We’ve been working on this for a very long time and this is one of the things I wanted to make sure got done before I left,” Lambert added.
In 2014 the CIA had originally told media outlet MuckRock, who filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in order to obtain access to the archive, that at least 6 years would be needed to release the entire database. In a court filing last November the CIA informed MuckRock it instead anticipated that only a year would be needed before the “database will be publicly available online.”
Some of the more eyebrow-raising documents, as noted by Leopold, include files on media outlets and the CIA’s “Star Gate” program.
“There are also secret documents about a telepathy and precognition program known as Star Gate, files the CIA kept on certain media publications, such as Mother Jones, photographs, more than 100,000 pages of internal intelligence bulletins, policy papers, and memos written by former CIA directors.”
Until recent research most anthropologists and other scientists assumed humans arrived in North America from Russia 14,000 years ago, but following a new study, they now push that date back to 24,000 years ago.
The research, published in the journal PLOS One, used new radiocarbon dating technology from a site in Bluefish Caves in Canada, to discover that human life has been in North America for at least 24,000 years.
However, since charcoal and human bones have not yet been found in the caves, some scientists are still not convinced that these new findings actually push the date of arrival to 24,000 years ago.
Yet, there are definitive signs of charcoal and human bones, as well as tools, that date back to 10,000 years ago.
“There are still going to be a lot of archeologists who look at it with raised eyebrows. Is it the final chapter? I don’t think so. But it’s good, solid work and I’m excited they’ve been able to revisit it and come up with those dates.”
30 years ago, another scientist made a similar claim.
“Series of straight, V-shaped lines on the surface of the bones were made by stone tools used to skin animals. These are indisputable cut-marks created by humans. Our discovery confirms previous analyses and demonstrates that this is the earliest known site of human settlement in Canada. It shows that Eastern Beringia was inhabited during the last ice age.”
Scientists still believe that humans made their way from Russia to North America by crossing the Bering Strait before it plunged under water.
The Obama administration published a whopping $111.2 billion worth of regulations in the last five days, according to a new report.
Regulators published $111.2 billion in total costs with $5.7 billion in annual burdens, compared to $71.9 billion in benefits,” writes Dan Goldbeck, a policy analyst at the right-leaning American Action Forum (AAF).
“The main drivers of regulatory burdens included a proposed rule on ‘Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications’ and an Affordable Care Act final rule on home health agencies,” Goldbeck reported.
The Department of Transportation “Vehicle-to-Vehicle” rule is the biggest driver of regulatory costs in the last week. That rule alone is expected to cost automakers $109 billion, or about $5 billion a year.
General Motors Co., facing pressure from President-elect Donald Trump to boost hiring, plans to announce on Tuesday it will invest $1 billion in U.S. plants over several years, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The largest U.S. automaker expects to add or retain 1,000 jobs at several existing facilities, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The investment announcement, which is being accelerated amid pressure from the president-elect, is related to building products that were in the works and approved before Trump won the election in November, the person said.
GM becomes just the latest automaker to announce U.S. factory investments in response to Trump. Rivals Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said this month they’ll spend on U.S. plants after Trump threatened for months to slap Mexico-built vehicles with a 35 percent import tax. Carmakers are eager to cooperate with the incoming administration as they prepare to ask for favors including weaker fuel economy rules and lower corporate taxes.
The Army and local police are investigating the deaths of 11 Fort Hood soldiers who have died on and off the large Texas base in the past three months under mysterious circumstances, according to reports.
The most recent death involved Sgt. Alex Taylor, 23, of Texas City, Texas, who was found Wednesday unresponsive at his job at Fort Hood.
The Army’s Criminal Investigations Command is probing Taylor’s death, Stars and Stripes reported Friday.
“At this point in the investigative process we do not suspect foul play, but have not completely ruled it out while we conduct a complete and thorough death investigation,” Criminal Investigations spokesman Christopher Grey told the paper.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Friday that were it not for “the work” of President Barack Obama, the federal debt would have increased even more than the $9 trillion that it has increased over the eight years of his presidency.
“Absent the work of President Obama this national debt would be even higher,” Pelosi said at her weekly briefing with reporters at the Capitol when asked about the increase in the federal budget under Obama.
According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal debt rose from $10,626,877,048,913.08 when Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009 to $19,951,756,200,280.98 on Jan. 11, 2017, the latest day for which the number is available. That is an increase of $9,324,879,151,367.90.
CNSNews.com asked Pelosi: “The federal debt has increased by more than $9 trillion during Obama’s time in office. Do you regret that President Obama never balanced the budget?”
Iran’s English language Press TV is reporting that world powers have approved Iran importing as much as 130 tons of uranium.
The Friday report quotes Behrouz Kamalvandi, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman as saying “the Joint Commission monitoring the implementation of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 approved the purchase on the part of Iran during a meeting in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Wednesday.”
Kamalvandi said that the country had previously bought 220 tons of the material, and was currently in possession of a total of 350 tons.
The federal government collected approximately $740 billion in taxes in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, but the federal government still ran a $208 billion deficit during that time, according to the latest monthly Treasury Department statement.
Treasury receipts include tax revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance and retirement taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and other miscellaneous items.
In the first quarter of 2017, which included the months of October, November and December, the amount of taxes collected by the federal government totaled $740,771,000,000. The 2017 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2016, and runs through Sept. 30, 2017.
Autonomous micro-drones, originally developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory back in 2013, are now fully operational and are capable of carrying out “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and other missions,” according to a Strategic Capabilities Office white paper.
The $20 million program named “Perdix” spawned successful operations of both large and small autonomous micro-drone swarms which can be “air, sea, or ground-launched” in a variety of conditions.
“Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature. Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”
Initial testing of Perdix started in 2014 when the autonomous micro-drones were first air-dropped from F-16 aircraft over an Edwards Air Force Base training facility. Later in Sept. 2015 Perdix conducted 90 missions during U.S. Pacific Command’s “Northern Edge Excercise” in Alaska. But the real test took place in late 2016 when “Naval Air Systems Command and MIT Lincoln Laboratory deployed a swarm of 103 Perdix from three F/A-18 Super Hornets at China Lake California” where the swarm “demonstrated advanced behaviors like collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and advanced healing.”
Perdix are designed in such a way that the operator need not “micromanage” the swarm’s behavior, but rather Perdix decides best how to run its own plays within the parameters of its mission.
Perdix is currently using Generation 6 technology but the program will soon be “partnering with the Defense Industrial Unit-Experimental (DIUx)” to manufacture thousands of Gen 7 Perdix.
Perdix, named after a Greek mythological story surrounding Deadalus, suit their name well.
Daedalus was so proud of his achievements that he could not bear the idea of a rival. His sister, sometimes named as Perdix, had placed her son (variously named Perdix, Talos, or Calos) under his charge to be taught the mechanical arts. He was an apt scholar and showed striking evidence of ingenuity. While walking on the seashore, he picked up the spine of a fish, or a serpent’s jaw. Imitating it, he took a piece of iron and notched it on the edge, thus inventing the saw. He made a pair of compasses by putting two pieces of iron together, connecting them at one end with a rivet, and sharpening the other ends.
In the myth, Perdix was changed into a partridge. Daedalus was so envious of his nephew’s accomplishments that he took an opportunity, when they were together one day on the top of a high tower, to push him off. But Athena, who favors ingenuity, saw him falling and arrested his fate by changing him into a bird called after his name, the Perdix (partridge). This bird does not build its nest in the trees, nor take lofty flights, but nestles in the hedges, and mindful of his fall, avoids high places. For this crime, Daedalus was tried and banished.
Amazon announced on Thursday that it plans to add over 100,000 full-time jobs with benefits across the United States over the next 18 months.
The company said in a statement that it will increase its current U.S.-based workforce of 180,000 people to 280,000 by mid-2018.
“We plan to add another 100,000 new Amazonians across the company over the next 18 months as we open new fulfillment centers, and continue to invent in areas like cloud technology, machine learning, and advanced logistics,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said of the announcement.
Over the past five years, Amazon has created 150,000 jobs in the U.S. from its 30,000 employees in 2011.
Billionaire hedge fund manager and major Hillary Clinton backer George Soros lost nearly a billion dollars in stock since President-elect Donald Trump won the White House.
Soros returned to the stock market, trading at Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages almost $30 billion in assets for Soros and his family. Soros allegedly began trading again because he saw an opportunity to profit from what he predicted to be tumultuous economic times ahead. The billionaire scored huge profits in 1992 betting against the British pound.
The business mogul spent the last few years largely removed from his fund’s trading operations, spending his time mainly focusing on public policy, charity, and politics. Soros was the largest donor to the Super PACbacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for President last year, and he also donated large sums to other Democratic groups.
While he was cautious going into the November election, Soros became increasingly bearish once Trump won, an investment term used to describe someone who believes their stock holdings will fall, the Wall Street Journal reports. Soros’s analysis of current trends proved to be a woefully inaccurate; the stock market had a historic rally in the month following Trump’s election. Soros Fund Management, LLC sustained nearly $1 billion in losses over the past six weeks. (RELATED: Here Is How The Market Looks One Month After A Trump Win)
Although some of Soros’s holdings have taken quite a hit, his situations in the financial and industrial sectors are performing well, and his hedge fund ended up five percent at the end of the year.
Gold has rallied to $1,207/oz today as stocks globally have weakened after the first press conference of incoming President Trump turned into a bit of a debacle.
Gold prices made further gains today amid reduced focus on the Fed and speculation regarding their potential rate hikes and more focus on the next four years of the Trump Presidency.
The dollar declined alongside US Treasury bond yields, although U.S. stock indices were supported yesterday and remained buoyant. Declines in Asian and European bourses today have seen U.S. futures decline this morning and the dollar has seen further losses pushing gold higher in all currencies.
A former British spy has vanished after being named as the author of a ‘dirty’ file smearing Donald Trump and fled his £1.5million mansion in fear telling his neighbour: ‘Look after my cat.’
Ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele has been named as the author of the salacious Russian dossier containing outlandish claims about Donald Trump’s sex life and bizarre footage allegedly held by the Kremlin’s blackmail unit.
The 35-page briefing, which is littered with spelling mistakes, includes an unsubstantiated and far-fetched claim Trump watched prostitutes perform a ‘golden shower (urination) show’ in the Presidential Suite of a Moscow hotel.
Mr Trump called the dossier ‘fake’ and ‘phony’, even suggesting that US secret services had leaked it to damage his reputation before his inauguration.
He debunked the ‘golden shower’ claim by saying: ‘Does anyone believe that? I’m a germophobe’.
Senator John McCain was allegedly handed the incendiary file by a former British Ambassador to Moscow, who has not yet been named.
Taylor Trupiano is still shaking his head over a $128 parking ticket he got on his own property – for leaving the keys in his car’s ignition with the motor running while no one was around. He said he was just doing something many people do during a Michigan winter to keep their cars warm.
It’s a record. Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential run cost $1.2 billion. Trump supporters should have a field day with this final bill, given that Clinton slammed the president-elect for losing a billion dollars during his business career.
“What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” said the Democratic nominee in October. Well, I guess she can add her name to that list I guess (via NY Post):
Hillary Clinton and her supporters spent a record $1.2 billion for her losing presidential campaign — twice as much as the winner, Donald Trump, according to the latest records.The president-elect, who confounded critics during the campaign by saying there was no need to raise or spend $1 billion or more, ended up making do with $600 million.
Clinton’s expensive machine tore through $131.8 million in just the final weeks, finishing with about $839,000 on hand as of Nov. 28.
Team Trump spent $94.5 million in the home stretch — from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28 — and had $7.6 million left.
The figures include all spending by the campaigns, PACs and party committees.
A suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into an Egyptian security checkpoint outside a police building in northern Sinai on Monday morning – killing at least 10 people and wounding 22, officials have said.
The attacker drove a white rubbish truck packed with explosives into the checkpoint before security forces shot dead the driver and safely detonated the bomb.
Footage released by the Egyptian Interior Ministry showed the driver slumped over the truck’s steering wheel after being shot.
The vehicle was stolen days earlier and had been modified with built in metal plates to enforce the truck.
A new study on racial integration in the United States that ranked all states and the District of Columbia based on “16 key indicators of equality and integration” shows seven out of 10 of the most integrated voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Financial advice website WalletHub published “2017’s States with the Most Racial Progress” to determine “the most racially integrated and progressive states” based on employment and wealth, education and civic engagement, and health.
“We evaluated those dimensions using 16 relevant metrics …,” according to the site’s methodology. “Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the highest level of racial integration and progress.”
The top 10 states on WalletHub’s “racial integration ranking” – from first to 10th – include: Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas, Delaware, Nevada, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana and Tennessee. Results of the 2016 election show all of those states with the exception of Hawaii, Delaware and Nevada, voted to elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
In other words, residents in the most racially integrated states in the U.S. – according to WalletHub – didn’t seem to buy into the mainstream media’s portrayal of Trump as a racist, and opted for The Donald over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who was championed as the equality candidate.
That trend seems to hold in many of the study’s individual metrics, including median annual income, the labor force participation rate, unemployment, residents with a bachelor’s degree, and standardized student test scores, the data shows.
Washington, D.C. ranked dead last.
The findings provide an interesting context to comments made by Clinton during the 2016 campaign that labeled half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.”
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton told her backers at a New York City fundraiser in September, according to a transcript published by the LA Times.
“The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic – you name it.”
The WalletHub’s data also showed more Trump supporting states among the top 10 with the highest “racial progress ranking,” which included Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, Mississippi, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, North Carolina and Louisiana.
The racial progress ranking “measured progress by subtracting the values attributed to whites and blacks for a given metric, using the oldest available data and the most recent,” according to the methodology.
Election results show seven out of the top 10 in the racial progress ranking backed Trump: Georgia, Mississippi, Wyoming, North Dakota, Texas, North Carolina, and Louisiana.
FBI counter-terrorism officials warned in the summer of 2015 that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doing official business on her home email system potentially compromised national security, according to 300 pages of new evidence released late Sunday.
The warnings came even as Clinton — by then heavily favored to win the Democratic presidential nomination — casually dismissed any problems with the private email system in her New York mansion.
Dramatic behind-the-scenes alarms were triggered by the Clinton’s emails, a fact which is vividly depicted throughout the newly released documents.
Randall C. Coleman, assistant director of the Bureau’s counterintelligence division, approved a memo circulated throughout FBI headquarters that claiming “an activity constituting a federal crime or a threat to national security has or may have occurred,” July 10, 2015, for example.
He ordered “a full investigation” of Clinton’s 30,000 emails based on evidence provided by a July 6, 2015, “811 referral” from the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IGIC), who warned of “the potential compromise of classified information.”
According to FBI documents, an 811 referral is “to concentrate solely on detecting and countering foreign intelligence operations, focus on emerging strategic threats, and protecting United States secrets from compromise.”
Coleman said the IGIC’s referral of Clinton emails “allegedly contains information at a classified & SCI level.” The SCI level is the highest level of information gathered by the U.S. intelligence community.
Ultimately, nearly two dozen such documents were found on Clinton’s private server at the heart of her email system.
The FBI’s counterintelligence division considered the information so sensitive that it put all of her emails on its secure enterprise network called SCION, which handles only the nation’s most guarded intelligence.
The FBI titled its entire trove of official internal documents on the Clinton case as the “mishandling of classified, sensitive investigative matter.”
Coleman informed headquarters staff that, based on the referral, the purpose of the division’s investigation was to “detect, obtain information about and to protect against federal crimes or threats to the national security.”
Coleman gave a heads-up to his colleagues in the counterintelligence division that its investigation was sensitive “due to a connection to a current public official, political appointee or candidate,” ostensibly referring to Clinton.
FBI Director James Comey dismissed the case during a nationally televised press conference July 5, 2016, saying there was “no intentional misconduct” by Clinton but adding that she and her top aides were “extremely careless.”
“Given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence,” Comey suggested.
Comey also alerted attendees the FBI believes “that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account.”
Since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the number of employed Americans increased by 9.9 million, but there were 14.6 million more who left the labor force, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
From January 2009 through December 2016, there were 9,959,000 more Americans 16 years and over who became employed. In that same time frame, there were 14,573,000 more Americans 16 years and over who were not in the labor force, which means they did not have a job or look for one in the past four weeks.
The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the population that participated in the labor force by either having a job or looking for one, declined for all Americans during Obama’s time in office from 65.7 percent to 62.7 percent. In September 2015, the participation dipped to 62.4 percent—the lowest level seen in recent times since 1977.
The supply of US dollars accelerated during late 2016 with October’s year-over-year percentage increase in the money supply hitting a 46-month high of 11.2 percent.
The YOY growth rate fell slightly to 10.3 percent in November.
This comes after a long period of relatively sedate growth in the money supply through most of 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The recent surge in money supply growth suggests that the likelihood of an economic contraction in the near future has been reduced, with the next downturn being pushed out further into the future.
In recent decades, money supply growth has slowed significantly prior to — and during — recessionary periods, as can be seen prior to 2001 and 2008:
The “Austrian” money supply measure (AMS) used here is a measure of the money supply pioneered by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno and is designed to provide a better measure than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth.1
Since 2014, money supply growth has ranged from about 7 percent to 8.5 percent. In October of last year, money supply growth hit a seven-year low of 6.8 percent, although this proved not to be an indication of any new trend. Overall, until recently, money supply growth had been quite stable over the past two years.
In July, however, money supply growth hit a 36-month high, reaching a year-over-year growth rate of 8.6 percent. This growth rate has since increased, reaching rates near or above ten percent in September, October, and November 2016.
Under these conditions, it is more likely we will — in the short term — continue to see asset price inflation, including inflation in real estate and in the stock market.
The fact that we saw supply growth being to accelerate in September and October makes the surge in stock prices in November less surprising.
The “Austrian” measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short time deposits, traveler’s checks, and retail money funds).
The fact that we see higher growth rates in AMS than in M2 is being driven partly by historically large increases in treasury deposits at the Fed. The federal government has become increasingly liquid in recent years, with unusually large amounts of spend-ready dollars available. Looking at total deposits at the fed, for example, we can see that totals are now well beyond what has been seen in the past:
As of November 2016, there were 394 billion dollars in deposits at the Fed, which is an increase of 194 percent over November 2015. October 2016’s growth rate in treasury deposits reached an 84-month high at 547 percent. The last time deposits grew by as large an amount was during 2009 in the most active days of Fed stimulus following the 2008 financial crisis.