Saturday, November 21, 2020

“Economy Is Being Strangled; Rental Apocalypse; Homeless Epidemic; Leisure and Hospitality Decimated”

Jeremiah Babe,
“Economy Is Being Strangled; Rental Apocalypse; 
Homeless Epidemic; Leisure and Hospitality Decimated”
Remind you of anything?

"The Housing Bubble Is Even Bigger Than The Stock Market Bubble: Be Ready For Housing Apocalypse!"

"The Housing Bubble Is Even Bigger Than The Stock Market Bubble:
 Be Ready For Housing Apocalypse!"
by Epic Economist

"The housing market is about to explode into a full-blown disaster. Millions of tenants have been piling up their debt during the current recession and economists alert for a gigantic wave of evictions, foreclosures, and bankruptcies which could trigger a chain reaction leading the real state market to a crisis just as disastrous as the 2008 crash. 

Nobel Prize Winner Robert Shiller affirms that the housing price bubble largely exceeds the stock market bubble, and things are about to get unsustainable pretty soon. In this video, we examine the chaotic situation of the housing market according to experts' perspectives and expose the many determinants that have been inflating this massive bubble.

As soon as the year turns, several cities will face a storm of evictions, foreclosures, and bankruptcies as the housing bubble that has been massively inflating throughout the year will explode into a full-blown disaster. With tens of millions of Americans out of their jobs and unable to pay rent for the past several months, leaving building owners struggling to meet their mortgages payments, a new study by the nonprofit CSS alerted that this situation will probably set off a chain reaction that could ultimately lead to a housing crisis comparable in scale to the 2008 crash.

CSS President David Jones explain that although the economic downturn has been the trigger for this current situation, the bubble has been in the making for over a decade. They have been pleading to political leaders to address the approaching crisis without delay, stressing that it's urgent to take immediate measures to "stop the bleeding". 

Some cities, such as New York, are now in a critical position since a staggering rate of rental delinquency was registered and landlords have been eagerly waiting for the end of the forbearance period to solicit the issuance of eviction orders. Since rental payments cannot be nullified, all the unpaid rent has continued to be accumulated throughout the crisis, generating an enormous economic burden that will wreck many households when the bill comes due.

On many occasions, real estate firms entered 2020 leveraged to the maximum, demanding for ever-higher rents and then borrowing against the value of those income streams. “As real estate markets soared in several cities across the state, landlords raised rents, re-sold their buildings at higher prices, and used their properties’ rising values to take out ever-larger mortgages,” the report describes. 

If this description sounds like something you've heard before, it's because you did. The report also recalls that from the mid-1990s up to the 2008 mortgage crisis, real estate firms started an irrational rush of buying and selling buildings and consistently raising rental prices. Considering rental properties are usually structured as limited liability corporations, the bankruptcy of one building alone doesn't pose a harsh impact on the finances of the real estate parent company.

In short, for the firms involved the market boom and bust can be like a game of Monopoly, but for renters, it can be the difference between having a safe home and being homeless. For the past decade such firms have been repeating the same misconduct, all of this could happen again next year. 

That doesn't mean that capitalizing in the real state market is a despicable investor attitude, but allowing the formation of a colossal wave of foreclosures at the expense of entire cities' economies just to ensure predatory investments could come at a high cost to the whole nation, warns CSS President David Jones.

Additionally, for homeowners, the outlook doesn't look any rosier. Today, there are fewer homes for sale in the U.S. than ever documented in roughly 40 years, when data started to be recorded. For this reason, it's understandable why home prices are going up much faster than incomes, making homeownership less affordable for more and more Americans. "We are simply facing a housing shortage, a major housing shortage," expressed Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors which tracks home sales. "We need to build more homes. Supply is critical in the current environment."

On a similar note, in a recent article, investment advisor for SitkaPacific Capital Management, Mike "Mish" Shedlock illustrated how home prices are in a bubble that is even bigger than the stock market bubble. On the basis of Yale University professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller's evaluation, Mish explains why although stocks are overvalued considering historical measures, "it’s nothing compared to skyrocketing home values."

"Robert Shiller calls it a bubble, and so do I," Mish concludes. Basically, everywhere one can look inside the housing markets ravaging signs indicate the coming of a catastrophic burst. It's literally just a matter of time."

Musical Interlude: Vangelis, “Beautiful Planet Earth”

Vangelis, “Beautiful Planet Earth”
Full screen mode recommended.

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Colorful NGC 1579 resembles the better known Trifid Nebula, but lies much farther north in planet Earth's sky, in the heroic constellation Perseus. About 2,100 light-years away and 3 light-years across, NGC 1579 is, like the Trifid, a study in contrasting blue and red colors, with dark dust lanes prominent in the nebula's central regions.
In both, dust reflects starlight to produce beautiful blue reflection nebulae. But unlike the Trifid, in NGC 1579 the reddish glow is not emission from clouds of glowing hydrogen gas excited by ultraviolet light from a nearby hot star. Instead, the dust in NGC 1579 drastically diminishes, reddens, and scatters the light from an embedded, extremely young, massive star, itself a strong emitter of the characteristic red hydrogen alpha light."

"I Am Convinced..."

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, gift, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes. "
- Charles Swindoll

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 11/21/20"

Nov. 21, 2020 1:57 PM ET:
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 57,923,100 
people, according to official counts, including 12,078,010 Americans.

      Nov. 21, 2020 1:57 PM ET: 
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Updated 11/21/20, 4:25 PM ET
Click image for larger size.

"The Great 2020 Bailout Bonanza"

"The Great 2020 Bailout Bonanza"
by David Haggith

"Let us speak of megabanks and global corporations, chicanery and swine, and speak of how the great have feasted in the troughs of trillions dumped out by the present administration, congress, and the Fed, for 2020 makes the bailouts of the Great Recession look like childhood snacks.

Fargo banksters fail to forego illicit gains: Our story for the year begins back in January, well before the COVID crisis hit. It is not a tale of bank bailouts but of banksters getting “Get out of Jail Free” cards just as an apropos starting point.

It took four years from the time when Wells Fargo execs were “arrested,” so to speak, for creating (of all things in this era of fake everything) fake bank accounts at the end of the Obama administration - four years until penalties were meted out. Eight senior executives were cuffed to $59 million in penalties. John Stumpf, former CEO, took a $17.5 million whack on the hand from the hand of justice. 

You may recall the crime: bank employees had been pushed to create millions of fake accounts in the names of Wells Fargo customers without the customers knowing. The bank, itself, paid billions in fines from bank money, but the crime instigators paid only millions. Now, you might say, $59 mil is a lot of dough, even divided eight ways, but if you weigh Stumpf’s portions against his gains, as an example, he made off quite well.

Ordered to get out of Dodge, Stumpf was set to exit into early retirement with $130 million that he had amassed in stocks, cash payouts and other compensation over the course of three decades of bank fraud. $107 million of that was in the form of bank shares he had accumulated. 

Of course, his fraudulent government of the bank had diminished his share value from an earlier high of $200 million, so he did take a hit from natural causes. National outrage also pressed him to forego $45 million of the $130 million that would have been his retirement take. More outrage stripped another $28 million from Stumpf’s parting package before he got his butt safe out the doors of justice. He still exited with more than $50 million in retirement parting value.

Senator Elizabeth Warren tried somewhat unsuccessfully to press Stumpf to repay every dime he had ever made from his years of running the crime operation called 'Wells Fargo.'"
Please view this complete and highly recommended article here:
"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught.
In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity."
- Hunter S. Thompson

The Daily "Near You?"

Oaxaca, Mexico. Thanks for stopping by!

"A Kind Of Stubborn, Unrecognized Courage..."

"For many great deeds are accomplished in times of squalid struggle. There is a kind of stubborn, unrecognized courage which in the lowest depths tenaciously resists the pressures of necessity and ill-doing; there are noble and obscure triumphs observed by no one, unacclaimed by any fanfare. Hardship, loneliness, and penury are a battlefield which has its own heroes, sometimes greater than those lauded in history. Strong and rare characters are thus created; poverty nearly always a foster-mother, may become a true mother, distress may be the nursemaid of pride, and misfortune the milk that nourishes great spirits."
- Victor Hugo

"The One Chart That Predicts our Future"

"The One Chart That Predicts our Future"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"There's one chart that predicts our future, and no, it's not related to Covid - it's related to capital, specifically the concentration of capital and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. The chart is a map, courtesy of Brookings, showing the roughly 500 counties Biden won and the roughly 2,500 counties Trump won. This might seem like a chart of political polarization, and superficially that's clear, but the real polarization is economic-financial: there are two economies in America, and there's very little commonality in the two economies.

70% of America's economy is generated in fewer that 500 counties; the other 2,500 counties are left with the remaining 30%. The nation's productive capital is even more concentrated in a few hands and regions, and since income and political power flow to capital, the financial disparity/inequality far exceed the 70/30 split depicted in this political map.
Ownership of capital is concentrated in the hands of the top 10%, as the chart of equity ownership reveals, but the concentration is actually much more limited: the top 0.1% control so much wealth / capital that they "own" virtually all the power.
I hope it's not a big surprise that America is now a rigidly two-tier society and economy. If you're an executive at a big Wall Street investment bank, you can rig markets and embezzle billions and you'll never face any personal legal consequences such as being indicted for fraud and being imprisoned.

But try being an employee at a local credit union and embezzle $5,000 - a prison sentence is very predictable. If you're one of the 500,000+ people busted for possessing cannabis in the U.S. every year, then you're not rich and powerful, because when the spoiled-rotten child of the rich and powerful gets busted, the charges are quietly dropped, or cut to a modest fine and a misdemeanor, etc.

"Justice" is for sale in the U.S., along with rigged markets, political power, healthcare and everything else. Why should we be surprised that the economy is also two-tiered? The lower tier of the U.S. economy has been decapitalized: debt has been substituted for capital. Capital only flows into the increasingly centralized top tier, which owns and profits from the rising tide of debt that's been keeping the second tier afloat for the past 20 years.

The saying follow the money is only half-right--more importantly, follow the capital because income and power flow to capital. As this RAND report documents, $50 trillion has been siphoned from labor and the lower tier of the economy to the top-tier elites who own the vast majority of the capital: "Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018."

What's missing from the political map is the staggering percentage of residents in the wealthiest 500 counties who are precariats living paycheck to paycheck, the ALICE Americans: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

As I've often observed here, globalization and financialization have richly rewarded the top 0.1% and the top 5% technocrat class that serves the elites' interests. These elites and their capital are concentrated in urban counties, and the feedback loops are self-reinforcing: the capital in the urban counties attracts more capital and talent (skilled labor), bleeding the other 2,500 counties of skilled labor and capital.

America has no plan to reverse this destructive tide. Our leadership's "plan" is benign neglect: just send a monthly stipend of bread and circuses to all the disempowered, decapitalized households, urban and rural, so they can stay out of trouble and not bother the elites' continued pillaging of America and the planet.
There's a lot of big talk about rebuilding infrastructure and the Green New Deal, but our first question must always be: cui bono, to whose benefit? How much of the spending will actually be devoted to changing the rising imbalances between the haves and the have-nots, the ever-richer who profit from rising debt and the ever more decapitalized debt-serfs who are further impoverished by rising debt?

As I explain in my book "A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet", people don't want to just get by, they want an opportunity to acquire capital in all its forms, an opportunity to contribute to their communities, to make a difference, to earn respect and pride.

That our "leadership" reckons bread and circuses is what the stripmined bottom 90% want is beyond pathetic. This map dictates our future, which is the pendulum of wealth and power being concentrated in the hands of the greediest, most rapacious few reaching an extreme and then reversing to the other extreme. How that plays out is anyone's guess, but the pendulum swing to an extreme at the other end of the spectrum is already baked in: the way of the Tao is reversal."

"Three Things..."

"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special. I just got one last thing... I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have."
- Jim Valvano

"How It Really Is"


“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.”
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Poet: Edward Hirsch, "I Was Never Able To Pray"

"I Was Never Able To Pray"

"Wheel me down to the shore 
where the lighthouse was abandoned 
and the moon tolls in the rafters.
Let me hear the wind paging through the trees,
and see the stars flaring out, one by one, 
like the forgotten faces of the dead.
I was never able to pray, 
but let me inscribe my name 
in the book of waves,
and then stare into the dome 
of a sky that never ends, 
and see my voice sail into the night."

- Edward Hirsch

"Are People Really Stupid?"

“All of the available data show that the typical American citizen has about
 as much interest in the life of the mind as does your average armadillo.” 
- Morris Berman

"Are People Really Stupid?"
by Fred Russell

"On the face of things, judging from the general level of knowledge and understanding, not to mention the intellectual pursuits, of most of the human race one is tempted to say that the overwhelming majority of mankind lacks the intellectual capacity, the intelligence, to contribute to human progress. And it is in fact a very small elite that has carried us beyond Neanderthal Man, without whom, if the truth be told, we might still be living in caves. It is, in a word, appalling to contemplate the level at which ordinary people use their minds, what they read, if at all, what they watch on TV, the movies they go out and see, and the ease with which they are seduced and manipulated by the technicians of the psyche, namely, politicians and advertisers. 

The impression one gets when contemplating these tens and hundreds of millions of people glued to their TV screens for the reality shows and sitcoms or fiddling with their smartphones from morning till night is of complete empty-headedness. This is not to say that such people cannot be shrewd, resourceful, or, for that matter, simply decent. It is to say that at the average level of intelligence displayed by the human race, the great intellectual achievements of mankind seem to be beyond the scope of the vast majority of men and women. But are people really stupid? And if they aren't, who or what has held them back?

Now one may be inclined to place all the blame for our ignorance on the television producers and gadget makers, but the truth is that by the time they get to us the damage has already been done. All they really succeed in doing is dragging us down a little further. The problem starts in childhood. It starts in the schools with all those empty cells waiting to be filled and no one, not entire educational systems, really knowing how to fill them. In fact, the opposite result is achieved. By the time the child finishes elementary school, unless he is destined to join the intellectual or scientific or economic or political elite and is self-motivated, as the saying goes, he will have developed an aversion to the learning process that will persist for the rest of his life.

It is not hard to understand why. School bores him, and oppresses him. Its premise, fostered in the West by the Church the virtually exclusive supplier of teachers until fairly recent times, historically speaking is that as a consequence of Original Sin all men are born evil and must therefore be coerced into doing what is good. The result has been rigidly structured frameworks where teachers hammer away at the captive child until his head is ready to explode. Within just a few years, the public school system thus destroys the natural curiosity of the child and dooms him to a life of total ignorance, dependent, for whatever sense of the world he does have, on second rate journalists, who themselves lack the knowledge, understanding, discipline and integrity to be historians or even novelists and therefore shape his perception like the ignorant clerics of the Middle Ages, raining down on his head a disjointed and superficial body of information presented largely to produce effects, and even this is beyond his capacity to retain. 

The man in the street may thus be said to have a great many opinions but very little knowledge, mindlessly repeating the half-truths of experts and analysts who reflect his own biases and constructing out of them a credo of dogmatic views that remain embedded in his mind for an entire lifetime like bricks in a brick wall.

Does it matter? After all, we have all the scholars and scientists we need, and besides, a world where everyone became one would be a dull place indeed. It can even be argued that it is better for the race if progress is opposed, since, judging from its products, it mostly expresses itself materially and economically in an unholy alliance of greed and technology. However, progress of this kind cannot be fought if all that people have on their minds is to wire themselves into this technology, and that is what they will be doing until their minds are engaged in less frivolous pursuits. They are thus doubly victimized, first by the schools, whose methods are not attuned to the temperament and capacity of the average child, and then by the economic elites who control the technologies and consequently the flow of information and whose only interest in the man in the street is as a consumer of their products.

Unfortunately, there is very little hope that any of this will change. The wrong people control human society and will continue to do so, because they created the model and are the only ones who know how to operate it. The sad truth is that today's man in the street is neither wiser nor more knowledgeable than a medieval peasant. Calling ourselves Homo sapiens, or even Homo sapiens sapiens, seemed like a good idea once but very few of us have lived up to the billing." 

Apologies to armadillos for this comparison.

"The Worst Part..."


"It May Be Then..."

"Passion doesn't count the cost. Pascal said that the heart has its reasons that reason takes no account of. If he meant what I think, he meant that when passion seizes the heart it invents reasons that seem not only plausible but conclusive to prove that the world is well lost for love. It convinces you that honor is well sacrificed and that shame is a cheap price to pay. Passion is destructive. It destroyed Antony and Cleopatra, Tristan and Isolde, Parnell and Kitty O'Shea. And if it doesn't destroy it dies. It may be then that one is faced with the desolation of knowing that one has wasted the years of one's life, that one's brought disgrace upon oneself, endured the frightful pang of jealousy, swallowed every bitter mortification, that one's expended all one's tenderness, poured out all the riches of one's soul on a poor drab, a fool, a peg on which one hung one's dreams, who wasn't worth a stick of chewing gum."
- W. Somerset Maugham

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; 
it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable." 
- Sydney J. Harris 

"The 'Global Reset' Scam"

"The 'Global Reset' Scam"
by Alasdair Macleod 

"This article takes a tilt at increasing speculation about statist global resets, and why plans such as those promoted by the World Economic Forum will fail. Central bank digital currencies will simply run out of time.

Instead, the collapse of unbacked fiat currencies will end all supra-national government solutions to their policy failures. Already, there is mounting evidence of money beginning to flee bank accounts into stocks, commodities and even bitcoin. This is an early warning of a rapidly developing monetary collapse.

Moreover, nothing can now stop the collapse of fiat currencies, and with it schemes to control humanity for the convenience and ambitions of government planners. There can only be one statist solution and that is to mobilize gold reserves to back and save their currencies, which in order to succeed will have to be fully convertible into circulating gold coinage. It will also require the role of governments to be reset into a non-welfare, non-interventionist minimalist role, which can only be achieved after a complete collapse of the current fiat-financed system.

Anything less will fail."
Please view this complete and highly recommended article here:

Friday, November 20, 2020

"The Many Layers of Travail"

"The Many Layers of Travail"
by Jim Kunstler

"One thing you could say about the three Trump campaign lawyers’ joint press conference at high noon, Thursday: it sure wasn’t slick. But then, are we now such a nation of lobotomized chumps that our chief criteria for any public acting-out of an acute national melodrama is slickness of presentation? I guess we like our crises fluffed, like a Caitlin Jenner spot on The View. This one, though, is raw and savage.

And so there stood Rudy Giuliani in that cramped briefing room, with dark rivulets running down both temples as if he were sweating blood (more likely, hair dye), cracking jokes at times, and laying out some rather harsh predicates for pending election fraud lawsuits. Next up, the usually demure Sidney Powell appeared boiling over with grief and rage at the hijacking of American democracy, and the Deep State’s long-running connivance with all that, yielding nearly to tears at moments as she sketched out the sinister history and associations of the Dominion and Smartmatic vote systems — and the utter failure of public officialdom to monitor any of it for many years. Then Jenna Ellis, much in command of herself, emphasized perhaps half a dozen times, and quite sternly for the obdurately seditious news media, that the actual evidence would be revealed in court and that the day’s presentation was a mere overview. Got that? In court.

The news media didn’t get the message — on purpose, as usual — and so the stories flew all over the Internet’s gaslit echo chambers that the three lawyers failed to make a case. Later that night, Tucker Carlson piled on Sidney Powell for not sharing what she intends to present in a court of law. Apparently, she hung up the phone on him. Let’s face it, the lady has had a hard month, and a hard year, having to battle the malevolent and depraved Judge Emmet Sullivan over the dismissal of the case against General Flynn (as ordered by the DOJ), and now this colossal hairball of a momentous and historic election fraud case. (If I were her, I’d be deep into the George Dickel No. 12 Sour Mash by eight o’clock that night, Tucker Time.)

All right then, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have set the table for this epic political food-fight with just a few weeks to file and proceed, and we’ll have to stand by like grownups and see how it all plays out in the courts. There may be other sideshows and shenanigans in the various state legislatures over electoral college slates and such, along the way, but meanwhile I want to remind you that there are many other layers in this burgeoning mega-crisis worth being mindful of.

One, of course, is the train of tyranny that would follow the crooked and demented Ol’ White Joe Biden into power, should he manage to be sworn in (more on that below). From the actions so far of his, ahem, transition team, Mr. Biden (or the shadowy gang behind him) is aiming to bring on an official regime of speech suppression, news suppression, cancel culture, race hustling, gender warfare, and other portfolios of Wokesterism to the federal agencies. Do you have any idea how much anger and opposition that will provoke? Do you suppose that half the population will sit still for struggle sessions over white privilege?

Another layer is the Deep State itself. This evil empire is close to prevailing in a final act of sedition after four years of contemptible, serial intrigues. The Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and all the other spook agencies will have a free hand in surveilling US citizens and attempting to control whatever they do. The whole RussiaGate case (such as it might be under John Durham) will get towed out to sea and dropped overboard in cement slippers. Comey, Brennan, Clapper, McCabe, Strzok, Gina Haspel, Andrew Weissmann, and the rest of the gang will all skate — some of them possibly pirouetting back into federal offices.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google will be enlisted as social controllers (this has already happened, of course) to guard against the sharing of undesirable information. Gawd knows what sort of misadventures in foreign lands this gang will blunder into. I won’t even bother to outline the possible economic perversities and experiments the new regime might attempt to try because of the following…

which is the king-hell financial fiasco that will attend a Joe Biden presidency and the monumental unwind of activity that will present as implacable depression. The global banking system is ten-months pregnant with Rosemary’s Baby. The Covid-19 winter lockdowns will put a bullet in the brain of any remaining small businesses, and the giant zombie companies are next to fall. Rent, mortgage, and loan forbearances run out in December. If they are not renewed, many families stand to lose their homes; if they are extended, many creditors and landlords will be screwed, unable to meet their own obligations.

Few in the media or in officialdom seem to comprehend that unpaid debts thunder through the system, and eventually undermine the whole system, especially the currencies that circulate like the system’s blood supply. Not only will there be no money for Progressive economic experiments, there will not be enough money to arrest the fast-sinking standard of living in America. Biden & Company, so triumphal in these days of dwindling daylight, are in for shock with 2021.

In the looking-less-likely event that Mr. Trump prevails in this election quarrel, he and his people will be subject to exactly the same thing, which is the onset of the epic crisis or “fourth turning” that I call the long emergency. It will include an additional layer of Antifa/BLM anarchy in the streets on top of epochal economic hard times. How America manages to emerge from that will be the $64-trillion question of the ages. Neo-feudalism, a dark age, a new stone age… who knows?

As a kind of PS, and per what I mentioned above, there are the lingering questions as to whether Ol’ White Joe Biden can manage to make it to the inaugural podium in any case. Apart from his failing mental faculties, there are the matters around his and his family’s shady business dealings in foreign lands over recent years, especially the money garnered from ventures in China linked to China’s intel services. There are legitimate concerns about Mr. Biden being a security risk as president. They are not going away.

Finally, a few words of encouragement to those of you almost terminally disgusted with the dishonesty and bad faith of the people who have been running things in our country: this is not a place like Russia in 1989. The Soviet overlords had a captive press, of course, but the Internet was barely a larval presence in world culture then. All the Russian people had to fight the immersive milieu of lies they lived in was the mimeograph machine and the verbal grapevine. We have much better resources for distributing information in America today, despite our tribulations with the corporate news media and their Silicon Valley cadres. We have a pretty sturdy alt-news network and many diligent entrepreneurial reporters who are able to get the news out. It will get out, and it pays to remember that truth has Godly powers of its own."

Musical Interlude: Deuter, "Endless Horizon"

Deuter, "Endless Horizon"
Be kind to yourself, relax...
Full screen mode recommended.

"A Look to the Heavens"

"A gorgeous spiral galaxy some 100 million light-years distant, NGC 1309 lies on the banks of the constellation of the River (Eridanus). NGC 1309 spans about 30,000 light-years, making it about one third the size of our larger Milky Way galaxy. Bluish clusters of young stars and dust lanes are seen to trace out NGC 1309's spiral arms as they wind around an older yellowish star population at its core.
Not just another pretty face-on spiral galaxy, observations of NGC 1309's recent supernova and Cepheid variable stars contribute to the calibration of the expansion of the Universe. Still, after you get over this beautiful galaxy's grand design, check out the array of more distant background galaxies also recorded in this sharp, reprocessed, Hubble Space Telescope view.”

"How, Then..."

"How, then, shall we face the future? When the sailor is out on the ocean, when everything is changing all around him, when the waves are born and die, he does not stare down into the waves, because they are changing. He looks up at the stars. Why? Because they are faithful..."
- Soren Kierkegaard

"Oh Beautiful..."

"Philadelphia: America's Worst Looking Ghettos"

"Baltimore Worst Hoods VS Detroit Worst Hoods"

"Top 10 Worst Housing Projects in The United States"

"Top 10 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods for 2020"

Ray Charles, "America the Beautiful"

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”
- Gregory David Roberts, "Shantaram"
Oh beautiful indeed, for Wall St. and the 1%:

The Daily "Near You?"

San Rafael, California, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"The American Empire at Sunset"

"The American Empire at Sunset"
by Brian Maher

"The year is 1991… Contrary to Mr. Khrushchev’s boast decades prior, the United States had buried the Soviet Union. Its forces had just trounced the world’s fourth-largest army - Iraq’s - within weeks. America bestrode the world like a new colossus… and put all potential rivals in its shade. Its armies bossed the four corners of the globe. Its fleets commanded the Seven Seas. Declared India’s former Army Chief of Staff: “The lesson of Desert Storm is, don’t fight with the United States without a nuclear weapon.” It was the Pax Americana… the “end of history.”

American capitalism, American democracy represented civilization’s apex, its zenith, its perfection. Yet the gods are a jealous lot. They are hot to put down any mortal who has outgrown its britches. Hubris they will not abide...

The Worst Thing the Russians Ever Did To America: Perhaps Russian political scientist Georgi Arbatov divined their wicked intentions at the end of Soviet rule… As he sneered - with a sort of purring relish - “We are going to do the worst thing we can do to you.” Which was what precisely? “We are going to take your enemy away from you.”

We fear he was correct. A superpower needs an enemy as the policeman needs criminals… as the psychiatrist needs madmen… as the Church needs the devil. Absent an enemy it loses its direction. Its vigor. Its éllan vital. It flounders, adrift, aimless and rudderless. Between world wars, berserker Winston Churchill lamented "the bland skies of peace" that stretched above Earth. Those same bland skies of peace overhung Earth at the Cold War’s conclusion.

Now jump ahead 30 years… after heavy weather has rolled on through… after the gods have worked their mischievous will…

A Changed World: America has had another go at Iraq - to liberate it from its own ruler and introduce it to Thomas Jefferson. The result may represent its greatest foreign policy blunder yet - greater even than Vietnam.

And if Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires… the flags are coming down to half-mast… and the pallbearers are loading America’s empire into the hearse. “You Americans have the watches,” says the Taliban. “But we have the time.” And they do - have the time.

Americans are a restless, fitful people. We are eternally on the jump, forever hunting the next opportunity, perpetually peeking over the next hill. That is, Americans are poor imperialists. We simply lack the requisite patience. We have the watches, yes. But not the time.

The American founders studied their history… and knew the pitfalls of empire…

Destroying Monsters Abroad: America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” said Adams (John Quincy). But the once modest American Republic took up the hunt at the end of the 20th century. It found its first monster in fiendish Spain… Americans remembered the Maine. And forgot their Adams. They have been forgetting their Adams ever since...

America has gone buccaneering around the globe, chasing down monsters during WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan. For every one it scotched, another rose in its place. Hitler took over from the Kaiser. Stalin from Hitler. Osama bin Laden from Stalin. Perhaps Chairman Xi will take over from Osama bin Laden?
 We do not know. But if not him, we hazard another monster will. There is always another. And another.

What of American democracy and capitalism - the world’s envy three decades prior?

The Glory of American Democracy: The high glories of American democracy are presently displayed before a watching world… Americans are at each other’s throats, red-state America and blue-state America. American cities have been scenes of riot, of mayhem, of chaos. Statues of old heroes are down. The nation’s founding myths are called into contempt and ridicule. Millions and millions believe the recent presidential election was rigged and thieved, fraudulent and illegitimate.

Are they right? Are they wrong? We refuse to wade into the bog. We take no official stance. Yet if masses of American voters no longer trust the electoral process… what does it speak for American democracy?

Is this the alabaster city shining on the hill, glistening in the mists? Is this the model the world would mimic? Is this the cause American soldiers have killed and died for? As an American patriot in whose veins course the reddest blood, we hope it is not. Yet we begin to harbor grave doubts. China has ventured so far as to label American democracy a “joke.” But few appreciate the jest.

The Long, Withdrawing Roar of American Capitalism: The virus has reduced American capitalism to a sad, sad caricature. But scroll the calendar backward, before the pandemic. The economy appeared healthy enough on the surface. But if you scratched the paint… and looked deeper… you would find: Gutted industries, stagnating growth, flat wages and a stock market that is captive of the central bank.

The entire system, meantime, is rotten through with unpayable debt — some $80 trillion and running. It is not sustainable.

When did the American economy go wrong? And why? Our own Charles Hugh Smith gives his answer: "In broad-brush, the post-World War II era ended around 1970. The legitimate prosperity of 1946-1970 was based on cheap oil controlled by the U.S. and the hegemony of the U.S. dollar. Everything else was merely decoration.

The Original Sin to hard-money advocates was America's abandonment of the gold standard in 1971, but this was the only way to maintain hegemony. Maintaining the reserve currency is tricky, as the nation issuing the reserve currency has to supply the global economy with enough of the currency to grease commerce and stock central bank reserves around the world.

As the global economy expanded, the only way the U.S. could send enough dollars overseas was to run trade deficits, which in a gold standard meant the gold reserves would go to zero as trading partners holding dollars would exchange the currency for gold.

So the choice was: give up the reserve currency and the hegemony of the U.S. dollar by jacking up the dollar's value so high that imports would collapse, or accept that hegemony was no longer compatible with the gold standard. It wasn't a difficult decision: who would give up global hegemony, and for what?...

The elites have cannibalized the system so thoroughly that there's nothing left to steal, exploit or cannibalize. The hyper-centralized global money control has run out of rope as the cheap oil is gone, debts have ballooned to the point there is no way they'll ever be paid down, and the only thing staving off collapse is money-printing, which holds the seeds of its own demise."

Charles tells a woeful tale. Yet we believe there is good, hard sense in it. It is a competent autopsy.

“Empires have a logic of their own,” Bill Bonner and our intrepid leader Addison Wiggin wrote in Empire of Debt, concluding: “That they will end in grief is a foregone conclusion.” It seems so. But if the American empire is ending in grief, we hope for a quiet grief, a whimpering grief - not a banging grief. Meantime, the gods watch the unfolding spectacle... munching popcorn… as the will of Zeus moves toward its ultimate end."

"I Remember..."

"I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more – the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort – to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires – and expires, too soon, too soon – before life itself."
- Joseph Conrad, 1857-1924, English writer, "Youth"

"Dazed Lemmings Can't Bridge The Reality Gap"

"Dazed Lemmings Can't Bridge The Reality Gap"
by Zen Gardner

"Ever wonder why people can't make the leap to real awareness of what's going on? Why do so few people seem to care about the dangers of the unreported Fukushima radiation levels and toxic debris washing across the Pacific? As the Orwellian American police state swept into place, the economy crumbled Americans celebrated their entry into a brave new 2020 with minimal awareness of the true dangers already dissolving their health, wealth and chances for survival in an engineered conflagration of mythic proportions that was already descending on their heads.

As the gap between reality and manipulated public perception grows, it may just be too big a leap for many at this point. Having been dumbed-down and unresponsive for so long, it's too much for them to take in. Sad, but again, that's reality. Hey, why wake up when everything's such a bummer? That's the underlying mentality. The thing is, this is a conditioned response. Overload and recoil. And it's been going on a long, long time.

Why? Like the dumbing down effect of fluoride and chemtrails and adulterated food, it eventually suppresses natural responses. When the real alert presents itself, the subject will not be able to react and protect himself. Why all the dramatic end of the world sci-fi movies? Why the emphasis on violence and horror movies and graphic, destructive wars? Why does the news major on the bad events of the day? Why the combative gladiator sports, emphasis on technology instead of humanity, and mind-numbing crass consumerism and sexualization of society? This is deliberate social engineering, and that's the biggie. It's all engineered..and that's the last thing most people want to realize. And it usually is.

The Power of Cognitive Dissonance: The world has become essentially schizophrenic in outlook. Being told one thing while the exact opposite is happening before their eyes for so long, the "dissonance" created by this conflict causes humanity to shut down. America is the perfect example. Ostensibly fighting for "freedom and liberty" we commit genocide and destroy nation after nation. To protect our liberties the government has overturned the Bill of Rights and made the Constitution a mockery. Yet the populace sits and takes it. Why? Too big of a leap. If it turned out they've been completely conned by a massive manipulated agenda they may just completely break down. And subconsciously the horror of that reality is therefore a "no". Even if it were true they're at the point they'd rather not know.

I'll Take Conscious Reality. "Why all the negativity?" is what you'll hear a lot of the time when you bring these things up. The answer, as David Icke often says, is that ignorance is negative. Truth is empowering, no matter how awful it may be sometimes. And at this point in history the more you learn the more negative it may seem, with the Controllers' agenda in full final-phase swing. But so what. Things haven't changed all that much. The purpose of life is to rediscover who you truly are, and that wonderful awakening makes everything else pale in comparison. Our mission then becomes to inform and empower, share and encourage. The same one it always has been. That it's taking this kind of extreme devastation to awaken the slumbering masses is really no surprise, and ultimately a gift from the Universe to help people back into the real world..that of conscious loving awareness."

"Awaken from slumber, one and all..."

"Eventually You Understand..."

"That's where it all begins. That's where we all get screwed big time as we grow up. They tell us to think, but they don't really mean it. They only want us to think within the boundaries they define. The moment you start thinking for yourself - really thinking - so many things stop making any sense. And if you keep thinking, the whole world just falls apart. Nothing makes sense anymore. All rules, traditions, expectations - they all start looking so fake, so made up. You want to just get rid of all this stuff and make things right. But the moment you say it, they tell you to shut up and be respectful. And eventually you understand that nobody wants you to really think for yourself.” 
- Ray N. Kuili, “Awakening"

"Raising the Cross"

"Raising the Cross"
By Bill Bonner

"When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter 
believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything."
– Belgian author Émile Cammaerts

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – "Last night, we got on a plane bound for Buenos Aires… As you know, Argentina has gone all-out in its war against the coronavirus. First, we had our temperatures checked. Then, our papers. We needed to show our special permission to fly to Buenos Aires. We also needed to show our special permission to leave Argentina (long after our visa had expired). Plus, we needed a declaration proving that we brought our cellphones into the country when we arrived. And then, they checked our temperatures again – 35,2 – and noted it on a form that gave us police approval to get on the airplane.

Will all this delay and inconvenience save one person from dying? Will this homage to “science” pay off? We doubt it. Argentina’s death rate is a bit higher than in the U.S.

Not Tempting Fate: But here in the capital, things seem almost normal. People wear the “holy rag” – covering their mouths in deference to the new religion… desperately hoping this act of faith, like holding up a crucifix to ward off the devil, will protect them. But the latest studies – one done on Marine Corps recruits on Parris Island, the other, a much broader study in Denmark – strongly suggest that face masks are useless.

Not that we know, one way or another. But so far, they are worn as an act of faith, not science. People want to believe… in a vaccine… in a leader… in “science” – in anything that will save them…

We are not really very “religious.” But we are not foolish enough to think we know how the world works or that we can bend it to our own desires. And we’re not reckless enough to want to diss the gods. Jehovah, Pachamama, Zeus, Kali… we bow to them all. We go to church. We pick up pennies on the sidewalk. Maybe it doesn’t make any difference… But why take chances?

Fallen Cross: So it was that on Saturday morning, we found ourselves laboring up Mount Calvary… cross on our back… For there, on the top of the hill, in the intense wind, the cross had fallen down. It lay on the ground, like a dead crusader.
Salva tu Alma

We didn’t want to leave it that way. And the “cross” we bore up the hill was in the form of a Stihl chainsaw. The stem of the cross had broken. We were going to fix it. The altitude makes work harder than usual. So we paused at each cross along the camino de la cruz (the stations of the cross) for profuse prayer… and deep breathing. Finally arriving at the top, we cut off the broken wood (a very hard algarroba) and notched the remaining pieces so they could be fitted together (roughly) by the cowboys and secured with bolts.
Ready to go back up.

Our work done, we walked down the hill more easily than we had labored up it… and were ready to leave.

False God: Now, here we are in Buenos Aires. The restaurants are mostly open… and life seems (mostly) normal. When we rolled into town last night – at about 11 p.m. – people were still sitting in sidewalk cafes. Almost everyone respects the rules of the new faith. They cover their faces. Entering a restaurant, they hold out their hands, palms up – as if they were to receive the consecrated host – so they can be disinfected. But not all the gods are equal. Some are imposters.

So far, the god of “science,” called upon to protect us from COVID-19, has been a flop. A Fauci god. He may or may not be able to part the Red Sea… but he hasn’t been able to stop the virus.

Harmful Fantasies: And what about the god of “economics”? There is a rascal, if ever we saw one. The tenets of the faith are plainly preposterous:

• That they (the economists who run the Federal Reserve) can inflate the money supply – by printing more and more money – without causing domestic consumer prices to rise…

• That the world is suffering from an excess of savings, when savings rates are near all-time lows…

• That they can do a better job of price-fixing than the free market…

• That they know what interest rates the economy needs… and what inflation rate it should have…

• That they can shut down an economy and replace real output (real wealth) with fake money.

These fantasies are not harmless. They encourage the world’s central bankers to print more and more money… until inflation finally explodes like a bottle of champagne. Then, who’s going to put the cork back in? No one.

China Effect: But wait… There’s more… Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) argue that inflation rates would soon head up, even if central bankers weren’t imbeciles. They claim the declining inflation rates of the 21st century were caused by globalization, not by the feds’ policies.

What really happened, they say, was that China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. It brought with it hundreds of millions of people who were ready to work their tails off for peanuts. And despite the “communist” party rhetoric, Chinese entrepreneurs and businessmen were actually freer to innovate and create wealth than their competitors in the U.S. This – and output increases in other parts of the world – led to a big increase in the supply of goods, which depressed prices.

Inevitable Inflation: But guess what? There is only one China. The China effect was yesterday. And guess what else? All over the world, the working class is getting older… and retiring. Birth rates are falling. Fewer workers… More retirees. Inevitably, output per person will fall, too. Demand remains high, while supplies slump. Prices will rise. Governments – mostly elected by old people – will need to print money to keep up with their commitments (entitlements).

What does that sound like? Messrs. Goodhart and Pradhan believe it will mean a major shift… from the low-interest-rate, low-inflation trend of the last 40 years… to a high-interest-rate, high-inflation trend for the next 40. Four decades of fairly low inflation has produced a race of know-it-alls who believe incredible things and bow down before crackpots. They think they can do what no one has ever been able to do – create real prosperity with fake money. Whatever else happens, their faith is likely to be tested."