Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Musical Interlude: Ludovico Einaudi, “Elastic Heart/Not The Only One”

Ludovico Einaudi, “Elastic Heart/Not The Only One”

“A Look to the Heavens”

"To some, it looks like a giant chicken running across the sky. To others, it looks like a gaseous nebula where star formation takes place. Cataloged as IC 2944, the Running Chicken Nebula spans about 100 light years and lies about 6,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Centaur (Centaurus). 
Click image for larger size.
The featured image, shown in scientifically assigned colors, was captured recently in an 11-hour exposure from a backyard near Melbourne, Australia. Two star clusters are visible: the Pearl Cluster seen on the far left, and Collinder 249 embedded in the nebula's glowing gas. Although difficult to discern here, several dark molecular clouds with distinct shapes can be found inside the nebula."

“You Think They’re Nice…”

"That's why crazy people are so dangerous. 
You think they're nice until they're chaining you up in the garage."
- Michael Buckley

Free Download: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelago"

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn't change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil. Socrates taught us: 'Know thyself!'” 
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Freely download "The Gulag Archipelago", by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, here:

Free Download: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”

“One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” is, as the title suggests, a simple story of one day in the life of Ivan Shukov Denisovich, a prisoner in a Soviet concentration camp. Shukov, a simple Russian peasant fighting for Stalin in WWII, is imprisoned for treason – a crime he did not commit – and has spent the last 8 years in concentration camps. Shukov’s day begins at 5.00 a.m. with the clang of the reveille – he is, along with the other prisoners, marched out into the bitter cold, stripped and searched for forbidden objects, and then sent to work until sundown, without rest, without a full stomach. In this slim 143 page-novella, we follow Shukov’s grueling routine and see how he struggles to maintain his dignity in small, subtle ways. On this day, he has scored some small triumphs for himself – he has swiped an extra bowl of mush at supper, found a piece of metal that can be used as a knife to mend things, replenished his precious tobacco supplies and also has had a share of a small piece of sausage before lights out. Thus, at the end of the day (and the novel), he thinks to himself that it has been “A day without a dark cloud. Almost a happy day.” He must survive only another 3653 days more.”

Freely download “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, here:

“How Does It All End?”

“How Does It All End?”
by Bill Bonner

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
 - Soren Kierkegaard

“‘How does this all end?’ It’s a regular subject for guesswork here at the Diary. Of course, to see what’s coming, you have to look back on what’s come before.

Fantastic vision: In 1900, a survey was done. ‘What do you see coming?’ asked the pollsters. All of those people questioned forecast better times ahead. Machines were just making their debut, but already people saw their potential.

You can see some of that optimism on display today in the Paris Metro. In the Montparnasse station is an illustration from the late 1800s of what the artist imagined for the next century. It is a fantastic vision- of flying vehicles…elevated sidewalks…incredible mechanical devices, all elaborated from the Machine Age technology as it was understood at the time. There is no sign of hydraulics, jet engines, or electrical devices, for example, just gears and pulleys…and flying machines that flapped their wings like a bird.

But when asked what lay ahead, the most remarkable opinion, at least from our point of view, was that the government would decline in size and power. Almost everyone thought so. We wouldn’t need so much government, they said. People will all be rich. Wealthy people may engage in fraud and finagling. But they don’t wait in dark alleys to bop people over the head and steal their wallets. They don’t need government pensions or government health care either. Nor do they attack their neighbors.

The great illusion: In 1909, British politician Norman Angell published a bestselling book, "The Great Illusion," in which he explained why. Wealth is no longer based on land, Angell argued. Instead, it depended on factories, finance, and delicate relationships between suppliers, manufacturers, and consumers. And as this capitalism made people better off, he said, they wouldn’t want to do anything to interfere with it. It would only make them poorer.

One of his most important readers was Viscount Esher of Britain’s Committee of Imperial Defence. Set up in 1904, its task was to research and coordinate military strategy for the empire. Esher told listeners that ‘new economic factors clearly prove the inanity of aggressive wars.’ One of the most important components of the wealth of the late 19th century was international commerce. Capitalism flourishes in times of peace, sound money, respect for property rights and free trade. It was clear that everyone benefitted. Who would want to upset that apple cart?

‘War must soon be a thing of the past,’ Escher concluded. He was wrong. In August 1914, the cart fell over anyway. The Great War began five years after Angell’s book hit the bestseller lists. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme- 100 years ago- there were more than 70,000 casualties.

By the time Americans arrived in 1917, the average soldier at the front lines had a life expectancy of only 21 days. And by the time of Armistice Day- on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00am of 1918- the war had killed 17 million people, wounded another 20 million and knocked off the major ruling families of continental Europe- the Hohenzollerns, the Hapsburgs, and the Romanoffs (the Bourbons and Bonapartes were already gone from France).

The age of ‘isms’: After the Great War came a 30-year spell of trouble. In keeping with the metaphor of the Machine Age, the disintegration of pre-war institutions broke the tie rods that connected civilized economies to their governments. Reparations imposed on the Weimar Republic after the war sparked hyperinflation in Germany. The US, meanwhile, enjoyed a ‘Roaring 20s’, as Europeans paid their debts- in gold- to US lenders.

But that joyride came to an end in 1929. Then the feds flooded the carburetor, in their disastrously maladroit efforts to get the motor started again- including the Smoot-Hawley Act, which restricted cross-border trade. The ‘isms’- fascism, communism, syndicalism, socialism, anarchism- issued forth, like carbon monoxide. They offered solutions!

Finally, the brittle rubber of communism (aided by modern democratic capitalism) met the mean streets of fascism in another six-year bout of government-led violence: the Second World War. By the end of this period, the West decided enough was enough. Europe settled down with bourgeois governments of various social-democrat forms. The US went back to business, with order books filled and its factories still intact.

The end of history? The ‘isms’ held firm in the Soviet Union and moved to the Orient- with further wear and tear on the machinery of warfare in Korea…and later Vietnam. Finally, in 1979, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping announced that, although the ruling Communist Party would stay in control, the country would abandon its Marxist-Leninist-Maoist creed. China joined the world economy with its own version of state-guided capitalism. Then, 10 years later, the Soviet Union gave up even more completely…rejecting both the Communist Party and communism itself.

This was the event hailed in a silly essay by American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, ‘The End of History?’ Finally, the long battle was won. It was, wrote Fukuyama, the ‘endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.’"

Graphic: Salvador Dali, “The Persistence of Memory”

THe Daily “Near You?”

Miles City, Montana, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

The Poet: Ruth Feldman, “Detour”

“Detour”

“I took a long time getting here,
much of it wasted on wrong turns,
back roads riddled by ruts.
I had adventures I never would have known
if I proceeded as the crow flies.
Super highways are so sure of where they are going:
they arrive too soon.

A straight line isn't always the shortest distance
between two people.
Sometimes I act as though I'm heading somewhere else
while, imperceptibly, I narrow the gap between you and me.
I'm not sure I'll ever know the right way, 
but I don't mind getting lost now and then.
Maps don't know everything.”

- Ruth Feldman

“Just Where You Begin Again…”

"When we're headed toward an outcome that's too horrible to face, that's when we go looking for a second opinion. And sometimes, the answer we get just confirms our worst fears. But sometimes, it can shed new light on the problem, make you see it in a whole new way. After all the opinions have been heard and every point of view has been considered, you finally find what you're after - the truth. But the truth isn't where it ends, that's just where you begin again with a whole new set of questions."
 - "Meredith", "Grey's Anatomy" 

"The Web Gallery of Art"

 
"The Web Gallery of Art"

"The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Realism periods (1100-1850), currently containing over 47,300 reproductions. It was started in 1996 as a topical site of the Renaissance art, originated in the Italian city-states of the 14th century and spread to other countries in the 15th and 16th centuries. Intending to present Renaissance art as comprehensively as possible, the scope of the collection was later extended to show its Medieval roots as well as its evolution to Baroque and Rococo via Mannerism. More recently the periods of Neoclassicism and Romanticism were also included.
The collection has some of the characteristics of a virtual museum. The experience of the visitors is enhanced by guided tours helping to understand the artistic and historical relationship between different works and artists, by period music of choice in the background and a free postcard service. At the same time the collection serves the visitors' need for a site where various information on art, artists and history can be found together with corresponding pictorial illustrations. Although not a conventional one, the collection is a searchable database supplemented by a glossary containing articles on art terms, relevant historical events, personages, cities, museums and churches.

The Web Gallery of Art is intended to be a free resource of art history primarily for students and teachers. It is a private initiative not related to any museums or art institutions, and not supported financially by any state or corporate sponsors. However, we do our utmost, using authentic literature and advice from professionals, to ensure the quality and authenticity of the content.

We are convinced that such a collection of digital reproductions, containing a balanced mixture of interlinked visual and textual information, can serve multiple purposes. On one hand it can simply be a source of artistic enjoyment; a convenient alternative to visiting a distant museum, or an incentive to do just that. On the other hand, it can serve as a tool for public education both in schools and at home."
- http://www.wga.hu/

For those so inclined, this is a treasure trove of material. Enjoy!

“Sooner Or Later…”

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson

“How It Really Is”

“False Flag Time”

“False Flag Time”
by Jeff Thomas

“For many years, I’ve held the belief that, when World War III was brought on, it would most likely be in the Strait of Hormuz. The strait is relatively narrow, with a shipping lane of just two miles. It’s bordered on the east by Iran and on the west by the United Arab Emirates. It’s also the main oil highway for Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Since it’s the most critical point for oil distribution in the world and it’s shared by the oil industry’s equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys, it’s the ideal location for an aggressive nation to start a “rumble.”

In May of this year, it was reported that mines in the strait had damaged four oil tankers. US National Security Advisor John Bolton quickly announced that “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” were to blame. He offered no evidence to back up this claim. But Vice Admiral Michael Gilday reaffirmed the claim, saying “with a high degree of confidence that this [attack] stems back to the leadership of Iran at the highest levels.”

Although this was strenuously denied by Iran’s foreign ministry, Mr. Bolton reasserted, “There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who’s responsible for this. Who else would you think is doing it? Someone from Nepal?”

And so, we have the US National security advisor and an admiral in the US Navy stating with near-certainty that Iran has launched an attack against the US, yet they offer no evidence, other than their own antagonism toward Iran. None of the ships that were claimed to have been damaged were US-registered ships, but US representatives insisted that this was a direct attack by Iran against the US.

But the mild public furor over this “incident” died down rather quickly. Then, a month later, two more tankers (neither of which is US-registered) were claimed to have been damaged in the strait – this time, more seriously. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to state to the press, “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.” Ah, so this is now a trend. He provided no evidence or specific details and took no questions from the press. Yet, the Associated Press backed Mr. Pompeo’s claim, stating, “The U.S. blamed Iran for suspected attacks on two oil tankers.”

Interesting… If we read this statement carefully, it’s uncertain as to whether attacks have occurred at all, yet Iran has been blamed in advance of any certainty, in case attacks might have occurred. For its part, Iran also issued a statement – that it “categorically rejects” the US claim and condemns any attack that may have occurred. Iran stated further that it “stands ready to play an active and constructive role in ensuring the security of strategic maritime passages.” It warned of “U.S. coercion, intimidation and malign behavior” and expressed its concern “over suspicious incidents.”

Well, it appears someone’s fibbing here. We can’t be certain who, but whenever one nation accuses another of an attack but offers no evidence, no details and is unwilling to answer questions, the antennae should go up as to whether it’s a false-flag episode.

False-flag accusations have taken place in the US for quite a long time. In 1692, seventeen-year old Elizabeth Hubbard accused someone of being a witch, providing herself with instant celebrity in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Once in the limelight, Elizabeth pointed out quite a few other witches. Hysteria broke out and over two hundred people were eventually accused, with nineteen being tried and executed. When the people of Salem calmed down, they realized they’d been rather rash, and the Salem Witch Trials have remained an embarrassment for three hundred years.

On a happier note, in 2001, the Massachusetts legislature passed an act exonerating all who had been convicted. Nice to know that, some three hundred years later, the state, which had originally tried and convicted the witches, admitted, “Whoops – we goofed.”

But returning to false accusations at sea, in 1898, the US Navy sent the USS Maine to Havana Harbour, where an explosion occurred, sinking the cruiser. To this day there’s no certainty as to why the explosion occurred, but the US immediately blamed Cuba for an act of war. This provided the excuse for declaring war against Spain, allowing the US to invade Cuba and, inexplicably, the Philippines. Teddy Roosevelt declared that the invasion would “score the first great triumph of a mighty world movement.”

Sinking ships proved to be an effective way in which to get into a war. In 1915, the American people were reluctant to get involved in World War I, despite encouragement from President Woodrow Wilson. So, hundreds of tons of munitions were loaded on board the ocean liner Lusitania, which was soon to sail for Britain. This information was then leaked to the Germans. The German Embassy then warned that it would sink any such ships, even taking out adverts in New York newspapers advising prospective passengers not to sail, but the Lusitania sailed anyway and was sunk by German U-boats. Mr. Wilson then had his justification for a declaration of war.

In 1964, the USS Maddox sailed into enemy North Vietnamese waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. It fired shots at North Vietnamese vessels, which then fired back. In total, the Maddox fired over 280 3” shells, damaging three North Vietnamese vessels and killing several crewmen. The Maddox was hit by a single bullet. The “enemy attack” was announced to the American people, but they failed to be sufficiently upset. Washington then claimed a second incident in the Gulf, which never took place at all. (It wasn’t known that Washington had invented the event until 1995.)

This time it worked. The false-flag attack convinced enough Americans of the “aggression” of North Vietnam that President Lyndon Johnson was able to ramp up the war, sending literally millions of troops to Vietnam. The Vietnam military adventure achieved nothing for the American people but did wonders for the Military Industrial Complex.

So, what does this tell us regarding the recent “events” in the Strait of Hormuz? Well, we can’t be certain that aggression has not taken place by Iran, although it would clearly be the most foolish move possible on their part – clogging up its only shipping lane with sunken hulks and provoking war with the world’s foremost pit bull. But neither can we be certain that these are not false-flag events by the US. After all, false flags have worked like a charm, so far. If the latter is true, and as steam is not yet rising from the ears of the average American, it would be predictable for Washington to go for the trifecta – to arrange a third incident in the ill-fated strait.

At some point, just as in previous invented conflicts, the American people will have had enough of what both their government and the media continually present as rogue nations thumbing their noses at America. At some point, the US people will say, “Go get ‘em!” and the rush to world war will be on. Historically, most all major wars begin with an event of seemingly minimal importance… just something to get the ball rolling. This one will be no different."

“Economic Market Snapshot AM 6/25/19”

Gregory Mannarino, 
"MELTDOWN: The One Thing NO ONE Is Talking About"
MarketWatch Market Summary
CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:
"We're Nearing The Moment When Everyone Tries To Exit 
The Bond Market At The Same Time - It Will Be 2007 Again"

“The Dangers of Buying on Margin”
By Joshua Kennon

"Like the flashing lights and sounds of clinking coins at a casino, buying stocks on margin is one of those things that might appear on the surface to be a great way to make money. The pitch usually goes something this, "If you have a few thousand dollars in your brokerage account, you might qualify to borrow money against your existing stocks at a low interest rate to buy even more stock, leveraging your returns!" The reality is that trading on margin is an inherently speculative strategy that can transform even the safest blue chip into a risky gamble.

It allows people and institutions desiring to get really greedy aggressive to buy more shares of a company than they could otherwise afford. When things go south, it can get really ugly, really fast, even leading to personal or corporate bankruptcy.

The Risks of Buying Stocks on Margin: In the past, I've used some real-life case studies to demonstrate how terrible the consequences of buying stocks on margin can be. One man, Joe Campbell, woke up to find himself $106,445.56 in debt to his stock broker due to a margin position that went against him. Many, many other individuals lost everything when they swung for the fences, some using margin debt, buying more shares than they could afford of a company called GT Advanced Technologies, which went bankrupt. Entire retirement accounts were wiped out and some investors talked about contemplating suicide. (And some did it... - CP) 

To top it off, if you open a margin account, rather than a so-called cash account, you introduce something called rehypothecation riskIf the financial world ever falls apart, again, which it inevitably will, you might not realize that you've exposed far more of your assets than you knew to losses that aren't even yours. There is simply no reason to go through life like this.  I feel so strongly about it that one of the first things I did when sitting down and planning the global asset management group my family is launching was to include it in a list of policies for our private accounts.

Kennon-Green & Co. only manages money in cash accounts as margin debt is neither welcome nor necessary except in a handful of extremely limited cases such as structured risk arbitrage transactions, which certainly is not appropriate for new investors self-educating to run their own portfolio.  I don't care if it could generate higher fees for the firm. I don't care if a client wants it. That's not what we do. This might seem to be a bit old-fashioned but there are certain risks that I believe are imprudent. Margin is one of them.

With all of that said, if you still aren't deterred about margin, and you want to employ margin debt in your own portfolio, keep reading. In the rest of the article, I'll explain some of the basics of how it works to provide what, I hope, is a better understanding of the mechanics involved.  

The Definition of Margin: In the most basic definition, trading on margin is essentially investing with borrowed money. Typically how it works is that your brokerage house borrows money at rock-bottom rates then turns around and lends it to you at slightly higher (though still objectively cheap) rates, floating you funds to buy more stocks - or whatever other eligible securities you desire - than your cash alone would permit you to buy.

 Or, I suppose, if you're really going for speculation, sell shortAll of the assets in your account, as well as your personal guarantee, are held as assurance that you will repay the debt no matter what happens in the trading account itself. Even if the account blows up, you are on the hook for the money immediately. No payment plan. No negotiating terms. If you don't pay, the broker can haul you into court to start getting judgments to seize your other holdings, ultimately requiring you to throw yourself at the mercy of a bankruptcy judge. Meanwhile, as your credit score plummets, you might find everything tied to your credit rating getting destroyed, too. Your insurance rates could skyrocket. Your other lenders could restrict access to borrowing capacity, leaving you no ability to pay your bills.

Utility and phone companies may demand cash security deposits. Potential employers may look at your credit and decide not to hire you. All because you were impatient to make money, not satisfied to compound prudently over time, collecting dividends, interest, and rents along the way.

Margin Maintenance Requirements: Each brokerage house establishes a margin maintenance requirement. This maintenance requirement is the percentage equity the investor must keep in his portfolio at all times. For example, a house that maintains a 30% maintenance requirement would lend up to $2.33 for every $1.00 an investor had deposited in his account, giving him $3.33 of assets with which to invest. An investor with only one or two stocks in his portfolio may be subject to a higher maintenance requirement, typically 50%, because the broker believes the probability of not getting paid is greater due to the lack of diversification.

Some assets, such as penny stocks, aren't eligible for margin trading at all. Frankly, this is wise. Investing in penny stock is almost always a bad idea, anyway. Adding leverage on top of it would be deranged.

The Power of Leverage - An Example of What a Margin Trade Might Look Like: A speculator deposits $10,020 into his margin-approved brokerage account. The firm has a 50% maintenance requirement and is currently charging 8% interest on loans under $50,000.

The speculator decides to purchase stock in a company. Normally, he would be limited to the $10,020 cash he has at his disposal. However, by employing margin debt, he borrows just under the maximum amount allowable ($10,000 in this case), giving him a grand total of $20,020 to invest. He pays a $20 brokerage commission and uses the $20,000 ($10,000 his money, $10,000 borrowed money) to buy 1,332 shares of the company at $15 each.

Margin Debt Scenario 1: The stock falls to $10 per share. The portfolio now has a market value of $13,320 ($10 per share x 1,332 shares), $10,000 of that is cash from the margin loan, $3,320, or 25% of the margin loan, is the investor's equity. This is a serious problem. The speculator must restore his equity to 50% within twenty-four hours or his broker will liquidate his position to pay the outstanding balance on the margin loan. This 24-hour notice is known as a margin call. To meet his margin call, he will have to deposit cash or shares of stock worth at least $6,680.

Had the speculator not bought on margin, his loss would have been limited to $3,333. He would have also had the freedom to ignore the decline in market value if he believed the company was a bargain. However, his use of margin has turned his loss into $6,680 plus the commission on the forced sale of stock and the interest expense on the outstanding balance.

Margin Debt Scenario 2: After purchasing 1,332 shares of stock at $15, the price rises to $20. The market value of the portfolio is $26,640. The speculator sells the stock, pays back the $10,000 margin loan and pockets $6,640 before interest and the selling commission. Had he not utilized margin, this transaction would have only earned him a profit of $3,333 before commissions.

The Lesson You Should Learn About Investing in Stocks on MarginThe lesson is that margin amplifies the performance of a portfolio, for good or ill. It makes losses and gains greater than they would have been if the investment had been on a strict cash-only basis. The primary risks are market and time. Prices may fall even if an investment is already undervalued and/or it may take a significant amount of time for the price of a stock to advance, resulting in higher interest costs to the investor. An investor who found an undervalued stock is speculating ipso facto by using margin because he is now betting that the market will not fall far enough to force him to sell his holdings.

The Basics of Trading on Margin: When you sign up for a margin brokerage account, generally:

All securities in your account are held as collateral for a margin loan, including stocks, bonds, etc.
The margin maintenance requirement varies from broker to broker, stock to stock and portfolio to portfolio. The brokerage firm has the right to change this at any time so you might find yourself with a demand to immediately pay off your margin debt balance with no warning or face having your portfolio liquidated.
If you fail to meet a margin call by depositing additional assets, your broker may sell off some or all of your investments until the required equity ratio is restored.
It is possible to lose more money than you invest when using margin. You will be legally responsible for paying any outstanding debt you may have to your broker even if your portfolio is completely wiped out.
The interest rate charged by your broker on margin balances is subject to immediate change.

In some extreme cases, margin caused serious economic troubles. During the Crash of 1929 proceeding the Great Depression, maintenance requirements were only 10% of the amount of the margin loan!  Brokerage firms, in other words, would loan $9 for every $1 an investor had deposited. If an investor wanted to purchase $10,000 worth of stock, he would only be required to deposit $1,000 upfront. This wasn't a problem until the market crashed, causing stock prices to collapse. When brokers made their margin calls, they found that no one could repay them since most of their customers' wealth was in the stock market. Thus, the brokers sold the stock to pay back the margin loans. This created a cycle that fed on itself until eventually prices were battered down and the entire market demolished. It also resulted in the suspension of margin trading for many years.”
Now you know why it's called a casino... 
a $2.2 QUADRILLION global casino of derivatives.
Margin call that! 
And the government gave them at least $23 trillion of your money
 to bail them out after the crash of 2008. Totally insane...
But these days, what isn't?

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Shocking Before & After Photos Reveal Awful Truth About Widespread US Crop Failures In 2019"

"Shocking Before & After Photos Reveal Awful Truth
 About Widespread US Crop Failures In 2019"
by Michael Snyder

"Torrential rains have been hammering the heartland of America for months, and at this point vast stretches of farmland in the middle of the country are nothing but mud. As a result of the endless rain and unprecedented flooding that we have witnessed, millions of acres of farmland will have nothing planted on them at all in 2019, and that is a major national crisis. But most farmers were able to get seeds planted in the deplorable conditions, and now they are desperately hoping that something will actually grow. Unfortunately, on farm after farm what is coming out of the ground looks absolutely terrible. Even if we get ideal weather conditions for the rest of the summer, there is no way that many of these fields will be ready before the first hard frost arrives. As you will see below, the truth is that we are potentially facing the most widespread crop failures in all of U.S. history.

This is the biggest news story in America so far this year, and the mainstream media is finally starting to understand the gravity of what we are facing. Just consider the following quote from a recent Quartz article: "The stories across the Midwest are wrenching. Scrolling through the #NoPlant19  hashtag turns up dozens of posts about farmers staring out at soggy fields or farm equipment foundering in deep mud. It’s likely many will see their harvests devastated this year, and global grain prices could spike."

But of course a picture is worth a thousand words, and so let me share a before and after photo that a farming couple in Indiana named Kyle and Tori Kline recently shared on Facebook:
According to Tori, the corn was almost above Kyle’s head at this time last year, but today it is barely out of the ground…

“These two pictures speaks volumes to the crisis American Farmers are facing this spring. Kyle is about 6’3” and the corn was nearly above his head. Most corn around our area is lucky to be out of the ground, let alone knee high. It’s just some food for thought for those who think farmers are “rich” or “greedy” or what have you. It’s the reason food and gas prices will be getting higher as the summer goes on. I pray for those who didn’t or still haven’t gotten their crops in – for their safety and mental health. This year will be one to remember.”

Do you think that corn is going to be ready when harvest time rolls around?

And of course the Klines are far from alone. All over the nation, farmers are facing either dramatically reduced yields or no harvest at all. Let me share four more extremely disturbing before and after photos that were recently posted to Facebook by TD Hale:



We have never seen anything like this before. Now that you have seen these pictures, are you starting to understand why so many of us have been warning that U.S. agricultural production is going to be way, way down this year?

Corn is not supposed to grow in mud, but due to the horrific weather conditions many farmers in the middle of the country had absolutely no choice in the matter. For example, corn farmer Scott Labig confessed that he was “ashamed” of what the nightmarish weather conditions forced him to do: "Labig was doing something he had never done in his career. Something his father and his grandfather never did either in their time working this same land for the last century. “I am ashamed of how I am planting corn today,” Labig told Campbell on the phone. “This is terrible.”

He was putting seeds into mud. How could things actually grow in this mess? If you do not live in the middle of the country, you may have a difficult time grasping the true scope of what we are potentially facing.

If farmers do not grow our food, we do not eat.  This is not a drill, and widespread crop failures are going to have dramatic implications for all of us in the months ahead. Food prices are going much higher, and I urge you to get prepared while you still can.

According to John Newton, the chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, we have never faced “anything like this since I’ve been working in agriculture”. We are truly in unprecedented territory already, and it won’t take very much at all to turn 2019 into a complete and utter national catastrophe.

If the weather is absolutely perfect for the next few months, 2019 will still be a horrible, horrible year for farmers in the middle of the country. But if the rain doesn’t stop, or if there is too much heat, or if a very early hard frost happens, we could be facing a national nightmare that is beyond what most of us would even dare to imagine.

And guess what?  Over the weekend the middle of the country was pounded by even more severe storms: "Hundreds of people were without power in Missouri and Kansas on Sunday as storms ripped through the area, prompting officials to warn drivers to remain off the roads as flash flood warnings were in effect.

Until 8:45 a.m. central time, a flash flood warning was in effect in Missouri’s Trenton, Bethany and Gallatin cities, according to the National Weather Service, while such warnings were in effect until 8:30 a.m. central time in Saint Joseph, Atchison and Savannah."

Just when you think that this crisis cannot possibly get any worse, it does. Please share this article with your family, friends and those that you care about. People need to understand what is going on out there. We are literally watching a massive national crisis unfold right in front of our eyes, and I will do my best to continue to keep you updated."

"Iran - Message Sent, Message Delivered"

"Iran - Message Sent, Message Delivered"
by Tom Luongo

"It is clear that Iran is sending the U.S. a stern message. And that message is we can hurt you asymmetrically as much as you hurt us. Over the weekend Iran’s leadership made it clear there was no mistake in their actions last week. They purposefully shot down one of our most advanced drones to send the U.S. a very clear warning. ‘Our capabilities far exceed your tolerance for withstanding them.’

The more we learn about this incident the more the initial story concocted by the U.S. looks specious. Drone in international airspace? Most likely not. Trump said someone made a mistake? No, completely deliberate.

The drone that was shot down, an RQ-4A Global Hawk, was the cream of our surveillance drones. It was flying in tandem with an anti-submarine Poseidon P-8 spy plane, which, according to Elijah Magnier was carrying far more than its normal crew of 9. Try 38.
A US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane.

That was not reported at first either in the initial flush for war. Iran then revealed just how loose with the truth the U.S. turned out to be and that forced a complete rethink of the situation. There was no mistake involved. No IRGC officer panicked. Iran deliberately targeted the Global Hawk after it failed to respond to hails to leave Iranian airspace and turned off its GPS, lights and digital systems. It was acting as a hostile and Iran treated it as such. After sparing the Poseidon P-8 and its crew and passengers Iran shot down the drone.

That said Iran made this decision only after getting confirmation that the U.S. ruled out going to war with them. So, they stood down from shooting the Poseidon, which was the initial target, according to Magnier’s sources within the IRGC.
Click image for larger size.

“Iran was about to hit and destroy the US Navy P-8 Poseidon spy and anti-submarine Boeing that was flying in the area when we received confirmation that the US had decided not to go to war and not to bomb any control and command or missile batteries positions, cleared or non-cleared, along the Straits of Hormuz. Had Trump decided otherwise, we had orders to hit several US and US allies’ targets and the Middle East would have been the theatre of a very destructive war with huge losses on all sides”, said an Iranian IRGC General.

But even after that confirmation came down Iran still chose to shoot down the drone. This was a clear message that actions speak far louder than words. The Iranian leadership decided it was time to test Donald Trump’s mettle. They didn’t have to shoot down the drone. But if they didn’t it would give the U.S. carte blanche to violate Iranian airspace without fear of reprisal solely because back-channel communications say, for now, the U.S. has stayed its hand.

This is likely why Trump was so angry at the presser the other day with Justin Trudeau when asked about the incident. He made what he thought was a gesture of good faith to Iran and, to him, Iran spit in his eye.

And this is where Trump’s fundamental character flaws come to the fore. He’s simply not able to see things outside of his own personal costs. A classic narcissist. And this is why he wanted desperately to bomb Iranian targets in response. Because of his fundamental flaws he had to be talked off the ledge by, reportedly, Tucker Carlson. Good on Tucker if this is even remotely true, but should it have come to this?

If this is what passes for the decision-making flowchart of the Trump administration then we should all be really worried. In the end, this was just a drone and one that was 1) somewhere it shouldn’t have been and 2) acting in a very suspicious manner, if the Iranian side of the story is to be believed. And given the potential costs for Iran if they were wrong, the onus of proof, in my mind, lies with the U.S., which it will not provide. That’s a clear signal that we don’t have the evidence to back up our story.

Then Trump floats this nonsense about killing 150 Iranians wouldn’t be “proportionate.” So people who starve or are denied a better life because of sanctions and threats aren’t casualties, Don? Only those killed by bombs? Again, this is the position of a sick and dangerous narcissist. And don’t think I would only say this about Trump. No, this goes for all of this country’s leaders going back decades.

Sanctions are acts of war. Embargoes are immoral. Just because you can’t tie deaths to it directly doesn’t mean the effects of them aren’t real.

So Trump sends out two signals today. First, he tells everyone in the region they are on their own to protect their regional assets, i.e. oil tankers. This is a clear message that he’s done escalating this stand-off with Iran and is looking for ways out of this. Because if he were truly serious about taking all of Iran’s oil off the market he would be pledging 5th fleet escorts today rather than complaining that China should pay for securing their oil shipments.

Trump started this fight, now he doesn’t know how to get out of it. I expect Putin and Xi will sit him down at the G-20 and work through his options. These men always allow Trump to save face. Iran can’t. The only way they win here is to beat him thoroughly such that everyone knows it. But as I said over the weekend, Iran isn’t interested in allowing Trump to save face here without him giving up something "yuge". He started this fight and it’s up to him to put something tangible on the table. And saying, “I won’t bomb you back to the stone age over a drone” is not an olive branch.

The second thing he did today, confirming his impotence, was putting ineffectual and idiotic sanctions on Iran’s political leadership. I’m sure they are shaking in their turbans now!

The war-gaming after this incident was clear, however. Any retaliation by the U.S. would be catastrophic for the world economy. It would unleash a regional conflict on multiple fronts which would not be any kind of controlled theater. I’m sure even the biggest hawks on the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been uncomfortable with fighting those battles.

In the end, it looks like Iran’s message was sent and delivered. Trump found out that no amount of external direct pressure will get the Iranian government to fold. That for all the might of the U.S. military and financial empire, its weaknesses are deep enough that even a relatively weak military and economy like Iran’s can stop it all dead cold because of basic things like geography, logistics and simple human resolve."