Category Archives: Economy and Meltdown

Drivers Are Turning To Sex Dolls And Mannequins To Use HOV Lanes

Reality may not be The Onion (yet), but it’s encroaching dangerously close on Curb your Enthusiasm.

An increasing number of drivers are illegally using HOV carpool lanes by stuffing mannequins, skeletons, even blowup sex dolls and various other items into their cars to try and fool police into thinking that they have a passenger when they don’t. The practice has reached a fever pitch, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So now, police are fighting back by shaming those who are caught committing the illegal act on social media. New York, California and Florida have all created dedicated police units to patrol HOV lanes for cars with dummy passengers. Washington state is weighing a bill to raise penalties for HOV lane abuse, while other police departments are simply shaming transgressors to discourage others.

Meanwhile, drivers are evolving and getting more creative with the way that they try to cheat the rules. This has led to state troopers calling it “absolutely satisfying” when they do catch somebody breaking the law.

Suffolk County Highway Patrol Deputy Inspector David Regina said: “There’s nothing to say you can’t have a mannequin in your passenger seat, but if you’re skirting the rules and breaking the law, it becomes an issue.”

The California Highway Patrol recently shamed a man who was caught in Oakland with two fake passengers in his car. “Clever Carpool offender caught cheating system with TWO dummies in back seat. Clever officer checked both dummies’ pulse to make sure!” they wrote on Twitter.

In Arizona, drivers can actually wind up with points on their license for faking passengers. State police spokesman Bart Graves said: “It happens all the time. We are perplexed as to why people would take those chances and think they can get away with it.”

He continued: “The dummies run the gamut. Some are fairly creative, but most are not. Most people move in a car, they talk. When someone is sitting motionless, that’s one indication. In a case in April, the trooper knew something was off with the passenger.”

The police in Arizona patrol carpool lanes the most during morning and afternoon rush hours. When they catch someone, they post online. “Another one Busted!” they wrote on Twitter with a photo of a female mannequin with a dark wig, sunglasses, a red hat and blue hoodie.

The cost of a life-sized dummy – generally used for things like front yard Santas or Halloween costumes – is about $50 plus shipping on Amazon. One Amazon vendor got wise and actually started offering a product called “Carpool Kenny” which was an inflatable torso, akin to the “Autopilot” from the Airplane movies.

“He’s never talking, always on time, and likes my music,” one review of the product said. “He never complains when I put him in the trunk,” another said.  

Barry Kowitt, a Florida lawyer who often represents traffic scofflaws, said he tries to get clients off on technicalities: “Sometimes these people are so mortified and embarrassed that they just pay the fine.”

Washington State Sen. Marko Liias introduced a bill to raise fines by $200 “where a dummy, doll, or other human facsimile is used,” raising that price to $686 for repeat offenders. The national average is around $400.

Said one driver caught on the Long Island expressway, “I have a big sense of humor. The whole thing is funny, but I feel humiliated. I don’t want any more trouble.”

Trump Attacks Military Industrial Complex, Urges Infrastructure Investments In Middle East

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

For the first time in over half a century, an American President has actually come out attacking the Military Industrial Complex. Of course, everyone knows of President Dwight D. Eisenhauer’s famous outgoing 1961 speech warning the world (and the incoming President Kennedy) what sort of monster had arisen at the heart of America’s defense institutions. Very little on the matter was said on the frightening topic by decades of political leaders who rose to prominence in the shadow of JFK’s corpse.

Instead, the beast grew like a malignant cancer over the ensuing years as a major branch of the British-run deep state that carried out a coup with Sir Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1946 and the MI6-directed re-organization of American intelligence with the creation of the CIA in 1947.

After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, networks of neoconservative contaminated all branches of government in both parties bringing the USA into a frenzied military doctrine centered on regime change wars, oil-centered geopolitics and unipolarism totally uncharacteristic with the better constitutional traditions of the nation. This geopolitical doctrine nearly drove the west into a full military confrontation with Russia and China in recent years.

The Tide Begins to Turn

On May 20 speaking to Fox News, President Trump echoed Eisenhauer’s warnings. Under a coterie of Trump’s war-mongering advisors such as John Bolton, Gina Haspel, Terrence O’Shaughnessy and Mike Pompeo, America has recently been brought to the brink of war with Iran. While Trump has too often accommodated this hive of neocons, his recent statements and repeated calls for cooperation with Russia and China demonstrate a sound push back which should be taken very seriously. In that Fox interview Trump said:

“With all of everything that’s going on, and I’m not one that believes—you know, I’m not somebody that wants to go in to war, because war hurts economies, war kills people, most importantly—by far most importantly.”

You know, in Syria, with the caliphate, so I wipe out 100 percent of the caliphate. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to have these crazy people who run around blowing up stores and blowing up things—these are seriously ill people. I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, they’re wiped,’ you know, ISIS. But, I wiped out 100 percent of the caliphate. I say, ‘I want to bring our troops back home.’ The place went crazy. You have people here in Washington, they never want to leave.

‘You know what I’ll do, I’ll leave a couple hundred soldiers behind,’ but if it was up to them, they’d bring thousands of soldiers in. Someday people will explain it, but you do have a group, and they call it the military-industrial complex. They never want to leave. They always want to fight.

Trump continued to explain his preference for economic over military solutions which is certainly in alignment with the Russia and Chinese approach in the Middle East. Both great Eurasian powers have repeatedly stated that the only hope for the Middle East and Africa involves:

1) The cessation of support of said organizations by western geopoliticians and their allies.

2) Programs for long term infrastructure investment to stabilize the conflict torn regions while provide a dynamic of long term thinking emerge. While Putin has come out most forcefully on the former, China has brought its grand Belt and Road infrastructure design to Arab nations with extremely positive results. Over 17 Arab nations have signed cooperation agreements on BRI-connected projects worth $190 billion dollars and Syria’s leadership has explicitly embraced this pathway as the only hope for the future.

Trump’s Surprising Call for Infrastructure in the Middle East

The day before Trump’s “military industrial complex” interview, Jared Kushner (senior White House Advisor) made headlines by announcing a Middle East infrastructure investment conference in Manama Bahrain on June 25-26 which will bring together finance ministers, and business leaders from around the world to discuss a new doctrine for the middle east. The purpose of the summit will be to by-pass the unresolvable obstacles which decades of obsession on “political solutions” without economic development has created.

Trying to attain a political remedy to the injustices accrued in the Middle East is impossible without economic development programs first transforming the entire physical economic (and thus socio-cultural) potentials of all participants. As long as stagnancy and scarcity dominate a region suffering water, energy and education shortages, the spiritual environment of hope and security needed for trust and dialogue is politically impossible.

Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin understood this fact when he shook Yasser Arafat’s hand in Oslo and said “the courage belongs to those who have the courage to change their axioms”. Arafat and Rabin understood that their entente would only succeed if it was driven by much needed energy, water and transportation infrastructure benefiting both Israelis and Palestinians alike. Technocrats running the World Bank also understood this when nearly $2 billion of loans to invest in said projects were blocked and the plan sabotaged before his 1995 London-directed assassination.

Discussing the renewed plan for economic development, a White House official told CNN on May 19th “that you can’t have peace without economic stability and opportunity, but you also can’t have economic opportunity and stability without peace and free of terror and resolving some of these core issues”. The official also said “If there’s peace, it will touch on not only the West Bank and Gaza but also Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The economies will become integrated. Think about how much money is spent on bullets right now. If it could be spent on infrastructure and human capital, think about how much better the region could be

Kushner’s conference reflects a second chance at that sabotaged opportunity and again brings American modes of conduct into harmony with the Chinese philosophy for Middle East stabilization. Kushner told CNN that “people are letting their grandfathers’ conflict destroy their children’s futures. This will present an exciting, realistic and viable pathway forward that does not currently exist”. The plan is driven by low interest loans, grant money and private investment.

The Military Industrial Complex and the broader deep state controlled from British Intelligence is certainly not happy with this turn of events.

Thus far, no words have yet been said on US-Russia-China cooperation on this program, but as we move into the upcoming G20 Summit in Japan and Presidents Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping have announced meetings at that venue, there are positive grounds for cautious optimism.

Shocking Photo Shows Mt. Everest “Death Zone” Traffic Jam As Climber Fatalities Rise

CNN has published a shocking image of crowds of climbers stuck in a queue leading up to the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, after it was reported that an American climber died this week. At least eight have died during the spring climbing season thus far amid reports that hundreds of climbers have faced “traffic jams” near the peak at Everest’s most dangerous point, called “the death zone”

A 55-year old American mountaineer named Donald Lynn Cash died after fainting from high altitude sickness while descending the summit, and another, Indian climber Anjali Kulkarni also died. According to CNN, which spoke to Kulkarni’s family, she had been stuck in a long line above camp four, just before the summit, which sits at a dangerous 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level, where climbers face oxygen deprivation and threat of severe altitude sickness. 

Photo taken on May 22, 2019 and released by climber Nirmal Purja’s Project Possible expedition, showing dangerous traffic jam above Everest’s deadly camp 4. Image via CNN.

The CNN report attributed both of their deaths to the back-up of crowds of climbers stuck near the top, which some local officials have denied. 

One report has estimated that between five and 10 climbers die on Mt. Everest each year, which means already this year the death toll could be headed for record highs. 

The image showing the climber traffic jam was described as follows:

Climber Nirmal Purja posted a picture on Instagram of the heavy human traffic on the mountain Wednesday, showing a dense trail of climbers huddling on an exposed ridge to the summit. He added that there were roughly 320 people in the queue to the top of the mountain in an area known as the “death zone.”

The small window of opportunity to beat inclement weather this year may be contributing to the deadly traffic jams at the top. “The weather has not been very great this climbing season, so when there is a small window when the weather clears up, climbers make the move,” Danduraj Ghimire, director general of Nepal’s Tourism Department, said.

“On May 22, after several days of bad weather, there was a small window of clear weather, when more than 200 mountaineers ascended Everest. The main cause of deaths on Everest has been high altitude sickness which is what happened with most of the climbers who lost their lives this season as well,” he added. 

A separate report noted that on Thursday alone, over 120 people made it to the summit.  “More than 120 climbers scaled Everest on Thursday, but some of them were caught in the crowd of people on the slopes, leading to exhaustion, dehydration and death, Nepali officials said Friday,” according to the report.

This means that multiple hundreds were simultaneously scrambling to the summit during the same small 2-day window of time — not counting others at lower sections of the mountain.

Mt. Everest file photo, via Filmy Mantra

The trek is so dangerous, and the threat of severe oxygen deprivation so ever present, that most often climbers who lose their lives at the upper levels of the mountain can’t be safely retrieved, and are simply “buried” by layers of snow and ice. 

As a BBC reported noted earlier this year, nearly 300 climbers total have died on the mountain since the 1920s, two-thirds of which are still buried on the side of the mountain. 

Workers Of The World, Unite!

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

The dawn of war is a time of simple clarity and purpose.  Good guys vs. bad guys.  Cowboys vs. Indians.  Confederates vs. Yankees.  Coppers vs. robbers.  It’s a time when lines are drawn, songs are sang, and drums are beaten with gaiety and confidence.

Indeed, calls for ‘a jolly little war’ are always greeted with merriment and optimism.  This also goes for the dawn of a trade war.  Regardless of whether you’re from Scranton or Suzhou, the escalating  Trump vs. Xi standoff all seems so virtuous.  “We’re right, they’re wrong,” and vice versa.

Here in the USA, the perspective is crystal clear.  America’s rightful bounty is within reach.  After several Presidents that were light in the loafers, there’s finally a leader of the free world with the brass fortitude to reach out and grab it for his fellow countrymen.  And why not?

Several decades of getting spanked by Chinese grunt laborers have American workers longing for reprisal.  This ain’t their granddaddy’s economy.  They’ve been repurposed from well-paying manufacturing jobs to low-level service workers.  The relentless progression has been demoralizing.  Given a fair shake, American workers just know they’ll kick tail and take names.

Yet, as far as we can tell, Trump’s fight is a day late and a dollar short.  The time to stand up for the American worker came and went while Ray Dalio was busy getting absurdly rich from the financialization of the economy.  What’s more, the means to stand up for the American worker had – and still has – little to do with slapping tariffs on Chinese made doohickeys.

We’ll have more on this in a moment.  But first, some dawn of war merriment out of the Middle Kingdom…

Trade War! Trade War!

China’s 40 year economic boom has all the trappings of miraculous growth.  Real wealth has been created.  Living standards have improved.  And mega cities have sprouted up from the barren earth like garden weeds following a spring rain.

For perspective, between 2011 and 2013 China used more cement than the U.S. did in the entire 20th century.  According to the International Cement Review, an industry publication based in London, between 1901 and 2000 the U.S. used 4.4 gigatons of cement, whereas China used 6.6 gigatons of cement between 2011 and 2013.

Without question, China deserve an award for its rapid disfiguration of the landscape.  Yet there are other consequences too.  Not only did all this mass splattering of cement rapidly disfigure China’s landscape.  It also rapidly disfigured the national psyche.

Hoots, whoops, and the state media’s anti-U.S. propaganda machine has brought forth new and creative additions to the culture.  This week, as reported by Zero Hedge, a song titled “Trade War” went viral on the Chinese social media platform, WeChat.

The song, set to the tune of an anti-Japanese song from the 1960s, begins with the rousing chorus:

“Trade war! Trade war!
Not afraid of the outrageous challenge!
Not afraid of the outrageous challenge!
A trade war is happening over the Pacific Ocean!”

The lyrics also include: “if the perpetrator wants to fight, we will beat him out of his wits.”

What sort of deceit could provoked such drivel?

Workers of the World, Unite!

Several decades of perpetual credit creation courtesy of the Fed’s artificially low interest rates have had countless unintended consequences for the global economy.  In short, the economy’s reconfigured itself in ways it otherwise wouldn’t have.  One example is the offshoring of U.S. jobs to China and the massive trade imbalance between the two countries.

Where did American consumers get the endless supply of credit to consume all the made in China goods?  Where did the money that showed up in the paychecks of Chinese workers come from?  If you follow the money back up the supply chain the culpability for its origination is the Fed.

Still, it takes two to tango.  You see, China could have rejected the fiat dollars they were being sent.  They were conjured from nothing.  Why trade real goods and products, fabricated with real raw materials, for dubious abstractions?

And therein lies the second part of the deceit.  For the scam to work, the Chinese government had to go along with it.  And as far as we can tell, they went along with it for several reasons: (1) the money was too good, and (2) it gave the Chinese populace a purpose in life.

But as China reaped more and more of the Fed’s fake money, Beijing had to debase the Chinese yuan at greater and greater rates to keep their cheap labor advantage over U.S. workers.  Year after year, decade after decade, the U.S. heartland was hollowed out and deindustrialized, and its prior vitality was reconstructed in China.

All the while, the excess credit was used to financialize American businesses, where, rather than borrowing money for capital expenditures, corporations borrowed money to boost share prices.  Wall Street was rewarded for their part in the money shuffling, as the cheap credit that pumped up financial assets was the same cheap credit that pumped up China’s economy.  Main Street, on the other hand, was rewarded with stagnant wages and exploding debts.

The real dirty dead, which allowed the giant fiasco in the first place, occurred on August 15, 1971.  That’s when Nixon defaulted on the Bretton Woods system and terminated the agreement that allowed other nations to redeem their paper dollars, acquired through trade, for gold.  Since then, debts and deficits have gone completely haywire.

When it comes down to it the gripes of the American worker and the Chinese worker – and all workers of the world – should be united not against capitalism, as promoted by Marx.  But against the curse of fake money and the governments that perpetuate it.

Of course, recognition of this fact would require honest thought and contemplation.  And why bother when you can mindlessly bang the drums and chant the songs of jolly trade war merriment.

Chicago Schools Blow $54,000 To Reprint Yearbook Because Kids Made “OK” Hand Gesture In Some Photos

Two Chicago high schools are going to be spending $54,000 to reprint yearbooks after discovering several photos of students making an “OK” hand gesture that had been joked to be associated with racism on sites like 4chan, according to CBS.

The symbol was thrust into the spotlight after users on 4chan began to joke that it should falsely be associated with racism because the three fingers extended can be interpreted to make a “W”, while the thumb and pointer finger can be interpreted to make a “P”. If it sounds like a stretch, that’s because it is a stretch – on purpose. 

As the Southern Law Poverty Center says, the symbol was basically conceived for the sole purpose of trolling and “triggering liberals”:

The smirk that almost inevitably accompanies the “OK” sign, that simplest of hand signals, is the dead giveaway in the shroud of internet-age befuddlement: Does the sign, the thumb and forefinger joined together in a circle, the remaining three fingers splayed out behind, mean “all’s good?” Or does it mean “white power” instead?

The smirk gives away the proper answer: You’re being trolled.

The social-media-driven controversy over the meaning of the well-known hand sign has arisen in part as the result of a deliberate hoax concocted on the internet message board 4chan, which in addition to its well-earned reputation as a gateway to the racist “alt-right” is perhaps more broadly known as the home of trolling culture.

So when it gets flashed during a national broadcast, or during a video being shot to promote the Coast Guard, or by a cluster of Proud Boys and “Patriots,” what it’s about most of the time is a deliberate attempt to “trigger liberals” into overreacting to a gesture so widely used that virtually anyone has plausible deniability built into their use of it in the first place.

Mission accomplished. 

The hand gesture, sometimes called the “circle game” is formed by making an “OK” symbol with your fingers and sometimes turning it upside down. The “circle game” used to result in the symbol flasher doling out a friendly punch in the shoulder to any person whose eyes made their way onto the symbol, which used to be flashed in purposefully unexpected places in order to “catch” onlookers. It was a staple and a mainstay in frat houses and high school locker rooms long before it was ever (even falsely) associated with racism. 

But now, school administrators – who are always so in touch with younger students – have decided that it has “taken on a sinister connotation, because far right racist groups have been using it to advocate for white power.”

This prompted the District Superintendent, Joylynn Pruitt-Adams, to write an email to parents stating: 

“The sign has more recently become associated with white nationalism. The photos in question, as well as all the other club team/photos in which students are striking poses and making gestures, will be replaced with the straight-forward group shots.”

The school board also had considered putting stickers over the photos as an alternative to a reprint but ultimately decided that dropping $54,000 in taxpayer money was a better idea, as stickers may have drawn even more attention to the photographs. Because reprinting the entire yearbook isn’t going to draw any attention to them, either. 

Stickers would “place a cloud of suspicion over all the students in those photos, regardless of whether they used the sign or not,” Pruitt-Adams wrote in the letter.

She continued: 

“Regardless of intent, however, there is a real and negative impact. Many students, not only our students of color, experience this gesture as a symbol of White supremacy. Potentially subjecting our students to this trauma is simply not acceptable.”

The best part is that the photos were taken in October 2018, which was “before the gesture was widely known to have any association with white nationalism,” school officials said.

So now, while other students worldwide are signing yearbooks as the school year closes, students at Oak Park and River Forest High Schools will have to wait another four weeks for their yearbook reprint. All because administrators can’t seem to get over the fact that something, somewhere, in someway, may inadvertently represent one iota of racism in some circles elsewhere across the world.

Instead of signing yearbooks normally, students will be given an eight page blank booklet to sign while they’re waiting for the yearbooks to arrive.

Congratulations, seniors!