Category Archives: Economy and Meltdown

When US Hospitals And Military Publicly Brace For A Pandemic, You Should Pay Attention

When US Hospitals And Military Publicly Brace For A Pandemic, You Should Pay Attention

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

If you trust the numbers coming out of China (I don’t) it appears that they’re getting their coronavirus epidemic contained. Yesterday they reported the lowest number of new cases in ages, with 349 newly confirmed patients, in a dramatic drop of more than 1300 fewer cases than Tuesday.

Xinhuanet, the official Chinese government propaganda news outlet reported:

NHC spokesperson Mi Feng made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing Wednesday, citing the epidemic data in the province over the past week.

The daily count of newly cured and discharged cases in Hubei, excluding the capital city of Wuhan, has exceeded the number of newly confirmed cases for four consecutive days as of Wednesday, said Mi.

He also noted that the number of newly confirmed cases has decreased significantly since Feb. 13 in areas besides Wuhan, and the increase in the cumulative number of confirmed cases has remained flat. (source)

Of course, there’s plenty of evidence that China has toyed with the numbers all along, so it’s difficult not to take this “good news” with a grain of salt.

Particularly when hundreds of potentially infected people disembarked the Diamond Princess yesterday to make their ways home to 50 different countries via a wide variety of public transportation options.

And particularly when our own government is busily (and visibly) preparing for the potential of a massive outbreak in the United States.

We didn’t even see these kinds of preparations when we were being warned by the CDC to get ready for an Ebola outbreak back in 2014. Mercifully, we dodged the bullet on that one but it certainly wasn’t because of well-thought-out protocols and procedures. The entire thing was handled so poorly that it could have resulted in disaster. Perhaps we learned from that?

CDC warned American hospitals are warned to prepare

Anyone who is a prepper knows that medical items like gloves, N-95 masks, and other PPE are in short supply right now, and hospitals are also concerned about shortages. The CDC issued a warning last week:

“This is the time to open up your pandemic plans and see that things are in order,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, a top official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urged hospitals last week.

“For instance,” she continued, health-care providers need to plan for a “surge at a hospital, the ability to provide personal protective equipment for your workforce, the administrative controls and so forth that you might put place in a health care setting.” (source)

In a separate interview, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters, “At some point, we are likely to see community spread in the U.S. or in other countries.”

How are hospitals bracing for impact?

Across the country, hospitals are taking steps to prepare for an onslaught of patients who may or may not have the infectious disease. Considering that it’s influenza season and many of the symptoms are similar to those of Covid-19, surge capacity could be reached very quickly.

Here’s how some hospitals are preparing, according to a CNBC article:

  • San Diego-based Scripps Health is consolidating medical supplies such as masks, gloves, and gowns and backups have been ordered. (Expect that orders to healthcare facilities will be shipped long before ours.) Health-care workers are being taught how to safely reuse N95 respirator masks, in the event of shortages
  • Northside Hospital in Atlanta is watching patients for clinical symptoms and potential exposure to the virus. If they suspect a patent could have been exposed, they will be given a mask and be immediately moved to an airborne isolation room, where they will remain while in the hospital. “Infection control and prevention measures are always a priority,” spokeswoman Katherine Watson said.
  • NYU Langone Health in New York City has classified Covid-19 as a “Level 1 Priority.” A  level 2 or 3 scenario would be when “there is transmission in the city and it begins to impact hospital operations. The health-care system has implemented a conservation plan and medical supplies, especially respirator masks, are only given to staff as needed.”

Cat Ellis, the author of The Wuhan Coronavirus Survival Manual, warns that hospitals could reach surge capacity very quickly and that it will impact more than people with potential cases of Coronavirus.

The latest data I could find for how many hospital beds are available in the United States is for 2018 from the American Hospital Association. They put the total number of hospital beds in 2018 at 924,107. This is similar to the data from, and it confirms that there was still a downward trend in the number of available hospital beds in 2018.

Assuming the downward trend has continued since 2018, we have less than 924 thousand available beds for every sick person from all causes in the United States. We are facing the potential worst-case scenario of 2,697,300 hospitalizations for Wuhan coronavirus alone.

This would raise the death toll from all causes as hospitals reach surge capacity. Surge capacity occurs when there is a sudden influx of patients that a hospital becomes overwhelmed and cannot treat any additional sick people.

In this situation, there are no more beds, and there is not enough hospital staff to treat any more patients.

Often, during a pandemic, it is not the pandemic illness itself that will kill a person. During the 2014 Ebola pandemic, it was common for people to die of some other health problem, and not Ebola, simply because doctors and nurses were too afraid to come to work. In other places, health care workers also became sick and unable to care for patients, as they were now patients themselves.

Imagine going into labor in the middle of a pandemic crisis. While homebirth attended by a skilled midwife has consistently proven to be safe and have better outcomes than hospital births, things can and still do go wrong. What if that were to happen during a pandemic with no beds available? What if you or a loved one experienced a heart attack or stroke? What if you were in a car accident or injured in a mob trying to get the last supplies off a grocery store shelf and needed emergency room care? (source)

Being prepared to treat minor issues at home is very important when hospitals are overflowing with people who may or may not have a potentially deadly illness.

The US Military is preparing as well.

An executive order was issued by the Joint Staff and approved by Defense Secretary Mark Esper to officially initiate pandemic plans, the Military Times reports. On Feb. 1, U.S. Northern Command was directed the Joint Staff “to commence prudent planning in their assigned role synchronizing the department’s plans for pandemic flu and disease.”

However, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Hatfield says that in no way “does the planning indicate a greater likelihood of an event developing. As military professionals, planning for a range of contingencies is something we owe the American people.”

But in other military news, the Department of Defense has announced that eleven military bases near major airports across the country have set up quarantine camps for possible coronavirus patients. Before you panic and scream “FEMA CAMPS – THEY’RE ROUNDING US UP!” relax. These quarantine areas, at this point, are meant to house only 20 patients.

The DOD installations and the airports they could support as tertiary backups are:

  • JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI (HNL)
  • Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base, IL (ORD)
  • Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, TX (DFW)
  • March ARB, CA (LAX)
  • Travis AFB, CA (SFO)
  • Dobbins ARB, GA (ATL)
  • Fort Hamilton, NY (JFK)
  • Naval Base Kitsap, WA (SEA)
  • Joint Base Anacostia, DC (IAD)
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ (EWR)
  • Fort Custer Training Center (DTW)

Under the request, DOD support at each location will be limited to providing housing support for up to 20 people as they undergo a period of quarantined observation.  The department will also provide office space for several HHS personnel and their equipment through February 22, 2020. (source)

Of course, as the situation evolves, these facilities could always be expanded. There are already DoD quarantine facilities for up to a thousand patients.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services for the possible use of military facilities to accommodate 1,000 people who may have to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas due to a new virus.

A Defense Department statement said HHS officials requested the use of several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29. HHS would be responsible for all care, transportation and security of the evacuees, according to the statement. (source)

The locations for these quarantine facilities are the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, Fort Carson, Colorado; Travis Air Force Base, California; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. These bases are where recently evacuated from Wuhan and from the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship are waiting out their quarantines.

What does it all mean?

First of all, it doesn’t mean that you should panic. Let’s get that out of the way first. Panic, as Selco writes, does not lead to good decision-making. You can be aware of what is going on and add it to your arsenal of information to help you make the best choices in the future.

What it does mean is that the US government is taking this outbreak extremely seriously. Since generally, the party line is “everything will be just fine,” recent actions taken publicly should definitely spark some awareness that this could become serious.

Preparing for the potential of a Covid-19 pandemic is strongly advisable. (Learn more here.) You have to keep in mind all the other things that could go wrong during a long-term siege of illness. The panic of other people; the fall of systems like utilities, police, fire, and hospitals; and shortages of supplies are all things you should take into account.

Personally, I’m glad they’re taking it seriously because the handling of the Ebola threat was a near-disaster.

It’s impossible to say whether this virus will be contained before it becomes widespread in the United States and elsewhere, and it’s also very difficult to predict the ramifications if it does. Viruses mutate, different health systems may handle it better than others, and containment efforts in different areas may be more successful than others – or less.

But I’d say that the preparations being undertaken by hospitals across the nation and by our own military are a blinking neon sign that we’d be foolish to ignore.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/21/2020 – 20:05

Wall Street Sets Up Scapegoat For Next Market Crash: ‘Free Trades’ Enticing Retail To Panic-Buy Stocks

Wall Street Sets Up Scapegoat For Next Market Crash: ‘Free Trades’ Enticing Retail To Panic-Buy Stocks

Bloomberg’s narrative this morning of why stocks have been racing higher isn’t because central banks are pushing global yields into negative territory thus providing lift for growth stocks, or the dozens of rate cuts in the last year, or the Federal Reserve’s ‘Not QE’ leading to an abundance of liquidity, or record stock buybacks, but as the mainstream financial press states: “Small investors are back. In a big way.” 

So apparently broke American consumers with insurmountable debts, including auto loans, credit card debt, and student loans, along with virtually no savings, are responsible for the recent rip roar in Tesla, Virgin Galactic, and Apple. 

Sure… But let’s hear out what Bloomberg has to say. They mention since Ameritrade Holding Corp. offered free trading in October, trading volume from mom and pop brokerage accounts soared. 

Ameritrade wasn’t the only one canceling trading fees, and this was seen industry-wide, an attempt by Wall Street to sucker in retail into a spectacular blow-off top that, as we explained above, has been produced by the Federal Reserve. 

“When you take a bull market and juice it with zero commission trading, we can expect it to generate interest among retail accounts. That, it did,” said Jason Goepfert, president of Sundial. “Retail traders have become manic.”

Since the start of October, when E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab slashed trading fees to zero, the S&P500 has soared 13%, and the Nasdaq 100 jumped 24%. 

Bloomberg fails to mention, and why would they, that rapid growth in the Fed’s balance sheet exploded during the same time. So the perfect narrative to cover up the Fed’s massive money printing to lift stocks, we mentioned here: “One Bank Finally Explains How The Fed’s Balance Sheet Expansion Pushes Stocks Higher” – is to blame retail speculation for the next blow-off top in the stock market. 

Enticed by President Trump’s stock market pumping tweets and soaring stock prices, Matt Hermansen, 23, who is a blue-collar worker employed at a concrete company in Oakland, California, said zero trading fees had made him an avid trader. 

“I’ll invest smaller amounts. Before I never really invested anything less than $1,000, $500 minimum,” he told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “Now, if I have enough to buy an extra share, I’ll do it. I’ll do like $300.”

TD Ameritrade’s interim president and CEO Steve Boyle said there were 38 days where the number of trades topped 1 million in 4Q, up from 23 days in all of 2019. 

It’s “a new world in discount brokerage where price no longer clouds the comparison for trades,” Boyle said last month. TD’s monthly volume had already risen 40% from a year ago, averaging 1.4 million trades per day.

Randy Frederick, a vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, said increased trading by retail accounts represents confidence in the bull market. 

“It’s partially driven by free commissions, but I don’t think it’s just that, because not everyone is offering free commissions,” Frederick said. “The fact that we have been in a bull market for a long time, people are just optimistic. Things are going up and they continue to go up.”

But again, there are no mentions of the Fed-induced rally – just more white-collar Wall Street execs indicating that it’s retail driving the bull market – not balance sheet expansion and stock buybacks. 

And hiding at the bottom of the Bloomberg article, a quote via Peter Cecchini, chief global market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald LP, who says retail investors flooding the market is “creating flashbacks to the internet frenzy in the late 1990s.” 

“There’s sometimes no fundamental reason for it. It just is based on perception — a perception based on narratives that run only an inch deep,” he said in note. “Let’s see how much longer it persists. This kind of activity often unwinds much faster than the wind up.”

The chart below illustrates the irrational exubernace in retail traders, betting on a one way market. Though this trend never ends well. 

And it’s the aggressive money printing via the Fed, which is the missing link and why many on Wall Street can’t comprehend the latest melt-up in stocks. Nevertheless, the narrative of retail fueling the stock market has already begun, so when the bubble does pop, the Fed and Wall Street can scapegoat retail traders. Funny how things work. 

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/21/2020 – 19:45

Woke Irrationality Is Undermining Civilization

Woke Irrationality Is Undermining Civilization

Authored by Andrew Fillat and Henry Miller via,

The Seattle School Board recently deemed inequality – too few minorities – in their gifted children program to be more important than nurturing the abilities of these intellectually talented kids. They propose to consign these high achievers to classes that will fail to challenge or engross them, and potentially show them the futility of achievement.

“What are they thinking?” we wonder. Presumably, this school board is not comprised of stupid, corrupt, or ill-intentioned people. But what could motivate this kind of policy change?

Of course, people have a right to be ignorant and to make bad decisions. Just as we can choose to damage our health by overeating, smoking cigarettes, and neglecting to take prescribed medications, we can also choose to remain uninformed on policy issues. Sometimes, it might even make sense to do so.

According to economists, “rational ignorance” comes into play when the “cost” (usually meaning the effort) of gaining enough understanding of an issue to be able to make an informed decision relating to it outweighs the benefit that one could reasonably expect from doing so. For example, many who are preoccupied with family, school, work, and mortgages may not consider it worthwhile to sift through a mass of arcane data to understand, say, the risks and benefits of nuclear power, plasticizers in children’s toys, or genetically engineered crops.

A quarter century ago, the cosmologist Carl Sagan expressed concern about the trend toward a society in which, “clutching our crystals and religiously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline … we slide, almost without noticing, into superstition and darkness.”

More recently, British polymath Dick Taverne warned that, “in the practice of medicine, popular approaches to farming and food, policies to reduce hunger and disease, and many other practical issues, there is an undercurrent of irrationality that threatens science-dependent progress, and even the civilized basis of our democracy.”

In everyday life, public policy, and even in the decisions made by elite universities, we are seeing such dire predictions validated.

Climate change protesters.


A variation on these ponderous themes is the kind of thing we recently encountered in an article published by Stanford University’s news service that seems a perfect example of largely symbolic idealism: “simple, but meaningful steps [people on campus] can take to reduce their environmental footprint.” Those steps consist of actions like converting lights to LEDs, updating aerators to save water, and reducing the use of disposable packaging and utensils.

Those actions are aimed at addressing climate change at the micro level, and there’s nothing wrong with them, to be sure. Certainly, small contributions can make a difference if they’re aggregated across a large population. But at Stanford, they seem to be missing the forest for the trees. At the same time the university encourages those baby steps, it embraces and encourages organic farming, which is wasteful of water and arable land. The university’s organic gardens prohibit the cultivation of plants crafted with modern genetic engineering technologies (including a groundbreaking one that was co-invented by a Stanford professor), and, incredibly, invited Vandana Shiva, an aggressively anti-science and anti-technology activist, to lecture to its students. Her rejection of modern agricultural technologies and encouragement of primitive farming methods in poor countries leads to low yields, vulnerability to pests and diseases, under-nutrition, and diminished longevity.

The dissonance between Stanford’s ostensible priorities – preeminence in science and technological innovation, and environmental stewardship – and its actions is a prime example of the schizophrenia of much of America’s liberal intelligentsia.

Too often, even when small actions make sense, the attempts to generalize and expand the good intentions to a larger scale go wildly awry. We could go on and on about the wrong-headed, proposed remedies for climate change, but consider the following examples:

  • The U.S. has only around 2-3% (and dropping) of the world’s coal generating capacity. Disrupting the coal industry by governmental fiat makes little sense because it is already shrinking from free market forces like the availability of cheap natural gas. Even if every plant were to close tomorrow, there would be no discernible impact on climate change  (Note: Japan, on the other hand, is planning to build 22 new, coal-fired power plants).

  • Speaking of natural gas, why would we want to block pipelines, exploration, and the use of a resource that makes our country energy independent and reduces carbon emissions? Emissions began to decline significantly in 2005, coincident with the shale gas revolution, which ended our dependence on foreign suppliers of energy.

  • Wind power is no salvation. The cost and pollution involved in building the monster wind turbines offset any real benefit (in terms of dollars and environmental effects) many years into the future—if ever. And that doesn’t include the negative effects of building the massive batteries needed to make this form of power compatible with the realities of demand and distribution.

  • Nuclear power continues to be largely ignored, although it is the only purely manmade form of zero-emissions energy.

The broader point is that, echoing Professor Sagan and Lord Taverne, we are increasingly sacrificing common sense and rationality to a kind of mindless idealism.

Climate change protesters.


The most likely explanation for the policy shift the Seattle School Board is considering is that they, too, have capitulated to idealism and have been blinded by identity politics into believing that all people are, literally, created equal—not just in the eyes of the law, but in innate characteristics including intelligence. According to this view, differentiating people by accomplishments is hurtful if the outcome does not precisely mirror the racial, gender, ethnic, and cultural dimensions through which everyone can be categorized. Any underrepresented cohort in these political categorization schemes is, by default, considered to be victimized, and the system must, ipso facto, be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.

But if this is a valid viewpoint, we would ask, “Why isn’t everybody athletically talented enough to play professional sports if they choose?” and, “Why can’t everybody become a coloratura soprano or a published poet?”

Those questions are fundamentally no different than, “Why can’t everybody solve complex math and engineering problems like the smartest kids at M.I.T.?”

The ideal of perfect equality fails in the real world, so why distort policy to try to achieve the impossible?

This situation has been a long time coming. It began when parents somehow acquired the notion that disappointment or hurt feelings was something their kids should, and could, be entirely spared. But that fails to distinguish between learning opportunities, where disappointment is constructive – every child must at some point learn that he can’t always win the spelling bee or get all A’s – and the kind of damage to self-esteem that might justify protection.

This trend has led to “participation trophies,” safe spaces, crying booths, protection from micro-aggressions and “trigger words,” and, more recently, the “right” not to be made to feel uncomfortable.  British writer and TV personality Piers Morgan has called it the “snowflake and victimhood culture.”

This new entitlement is a major contributor to the adoption of feelings-based policies that reject the need to seek rational validation. Fact-based debate no longer seems necessary, if passion and good intentions suffice. Unwelcome facts can be ignored, repudiated, or “cancelled,” if social media condemns them.

Entitlement is everywhere. Identity is everything. Measures of merit are no longer a crucial factor for judging people’s status. Virtuous ideas and virtue-signaling are sacrosanct, regardless of their grounding in reality.

Although individuals are entitled to believe in horoscopes, trust in crystals to bring good luck, or buy into quack medical cures, such irrationality becomes a serious threat to society when it is allowed to influence public policy. For that reason, we need to choose political leaders who understand the limits of quixotic thinking, or we will continue to confront financial albatrosses like the Green New Deal and California High Speed Rail Consortium (aka the Train to Nowhere). If we tolerate the dominance of ideological purity and good intentions over reason, perils lie ahead.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/21/2020 – 19:25

“They’re Traumatized”: Governments Ignore Plight Of Foreign Students Trapped In Wuhan

“They’re Traumatized”: Governments Ignore Plight Of Foreign Students Trapped In Wuhan

Beijing wasn’t thrilled last month when the US, UK, Japan, South Korea and a bevy of other developed nations demanded they be allowed to evacuate their citizens from virus-stricken Wuhan, instead of leaving them to survive or die of the plague or starvation as essentials run low in a city of 11 million on lockdown.

It accused foreign governments of being alarmist and acting hysterical. Interestingly, many countries, mostly in Africa, that had large numbers of students and others either studying or working in the city, opted not to pursue to evacuation route, pledging to find some other way to meet their peoples’ needs.

That was a month ago.

Now, many young African students are exasperated by their governments, which they claim have basically abandoned them either to avoid straining ties with Beijing, or simply because they can’t risk introducing the virus to their impoverished and deeply unprepared health-care systems.

According to Reuters, one Ugandan student in Wuhan is living in a crowded dorm. With no money, she survives on one meal a day. The student’s mother, who wakes up at 3 am Uganda time every day to talk with her daughter on WeChat, told Reuters that the young students have been “traumatized” by the experience.

“They are traumatised,” said Namusisi, who wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to talk to her daughters over the Chinese messaging service WeChat. “They ask, has Uganda given up on us?”

Not a single sub-Saharan country has flown their citizens home from Wuhan. And neither has Pakistan, which relies on China’s support in its eternal struggle against India, especially as tensions between the two have run especially high in recent years.

According to DW, there are around 1,300 Pakistani students currently in Hubei province, 800 of them in Wuhan, the province’s capital, and epicenter of the virus, which has been under lockdown for weeks. Their families gathered in Islamabad on Thursday to demand the government do something to rescue their children.

A group of Pakistani students studying in Beijing were allowed to leave the country earlier this month. But for the students in Wuhan, the government is only in intermittent contact with them and their families. The consensus is that the students will be left to wait out the outbreak.

Not only are the students living in “constant fear” of catching the virus, they are also struggling against food shortages.

Some of the students told DW that they are living under the constant fear of catching the virus. Asif Sajjad, a student at Wuhan University, said that many of them are suffering from psychological stress.

“We have been confined to our rooms for weeks. If anyone coughs or sneezes, it sends a shiver down our spines to think the person may have caught the virus,” he said.

“There are food shortages, and even if we go out on the balcony, we have to cover our face. We want to know why the government does not bring us back.”

The Chinese government says it has taken adequate measures to protect foreign students in Wuhan and elsewhere in Hubei.

But one student complained that he didn’t even have the “recommended” facemasks mandated by health officials in China amid a widespread shortage in China. He claimed the government could have at least helped him and students like him obtain supplies.

“In addition to that we have not been provided with the recommended masks, but only the simple masks,” he said, adding that the proximity of hospitals to the campus was also a concern.

“It seems the Pakistani government is not concerned about us at all. Even poor countries like the Maldives have taken out their students but we are still stuck here living in constant fear.”

After telling Reuters that she had gone to the Ugandan parliament seeking help, but come up empty handed, the Ugandan mother we mentioned above recounted the story about how she told her daughters to run and go shopping as soon as they told her about the quarantine.

When Margaret Ntale Namusisi’s three daughters called her in Uganda to say they were being quarantined at their university in Wuhan, China, because of the coronavirus outbreak, she sent money and told them: “Run very fast and do shopping.”

At this point, there appears to be little their families can do. Their governments have kowtowed to Beijing, which has refused to publicly acknowledge that it isn’t winning the fight against the virus, and that the outbreak should be cleared up by springtime, as President Trump once said.

But pretty soon, the biggest concern for these students won’t just be evading the virus. It’ll be about survival as food stocks run out and millions begin to starve.

At least, that would be the worst-case scenario…

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/21/2020 – 19:05

UK Suspects All Kids Using Chat App Are Hackers, Should Be Reported By Parents

UK Suspects All Kids Using Chat App Are Hackers, Should Be Reported By Parents

Authored by Simon Black via,

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances, and your prosperity.

UK urges parents to report their kids to police for using normal technology

Police in the UK are distributing a flyer to teachers in public schools, to be passed on to parents.

The poster warns parents to check their children’s computers for certain technology, as it could be a sign that their child is a hacker.

The flyer names anonymous browser TOR, voice chat service Discord, computer operating system Kali Linux, and Virtual Machines used to run different operating systems on the same computer.

These are all, by the way, perfectly legal. And they are useful for plenty of activities besides hacking.

The poster says Discord is “often used to share hacking tips.” But you’re more likely to find a teen using Discord to chat while playing Fortnite.

Kali Linux is useful for penetration testing used to boost cyber security and protect against hacking threats. It should be encouraged among teens if parents want them to train for the modern economy, and protect themselves against hackers.

And worst of all, the flyer encourages parents to CALL THE POLICE on their own children, for using these perfectly legal computer programs.

Click here for the full story.

*  *  *

IRS warns Fortnite users to pay tax on their virtual currency

Until last week, the IRS website advised players of the video game Fortnite that their pretend money could face a real tax.

The IRS used the in-game virtual currency V-bucks as an example of a potentially taxable convertible currency.

V-bucks are purchased with real dollars but used only in the game to buy upgrades. They aren’t actually convertible back to dollars.

Now the IRS has clarified that if the money stays in the game, it is not taxable.

But if a video game currency were to leave the game, it triggers a potentially taxable event.

Just like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, the IRS treats all virtual currencies–including video game money– like property.

That means if you make money on the sale of the currency– or if you spend the currency after it has increased in value– that is a capital gain.

Click here for the full story.

*  *  *

New York Judge orders removal of 20 stories from NYC skyscraper

New York City has a lot of zoning rules, but plenty of exceptions.

For instance, builders can buy the unused zoning rights of adjacent properties.

Say the zoning laws limit a property to 20 floors, but a building is only 15 stories tall. A next-door property could buy the rights to the remaining five floors, and make their own building 25 stories.

One particular project used this loophole aggressively to gain permission to build a 51 story building. They got all the necessary permits from the city for the build.

But activists weren’t happy. They sued the builders over what they called a “gerrymandered” zoning lot. But the builders had permission, so they kept building.

Now the structure of the building is already completed, but a New York Judge just ruled for the activists.

He ordered the city to revoke the building permit, and ordered the builders to REMOVE at least 20 floors from the building.

Click here for the full story. 

*  *  *

5 years and $2 million later, city still hasn’t finished building a bike rack

Falls Church, Virginia planned to spend $600,000 each for covered bike racks at two of the city’s Metro stations.

The 92-bike racks were supposed to be completed in 2015.

Now, five year later, the cost of the bike racks has reached $1.9 million EACH… but they still aren’t finished.

This city spent over $20,000 per bike parking spot, and has nothing to show for it.

But we should totally trust the government with more responsibility and control over our lives.

Click here for the full story.

*  *  *

NYC’s ‘serial subway robber’ praises the elimination of bail

A new bail reform law in New York prevents judges from requiring bail for most misdemeanors, and some non-violent felonies.

After a suspect is processed, they are released without having to pay anything.

And it’s great to see fewer people being locked in cages for victimless crimes like smoking a plant.

But there is always someone waiting to abuse the system.

Case in point, Charles Barry has been arrested six times since the law went into effect on January 1st. He likes to hang out in the subway and snatch money from a hand, pickpocket, or pose as a subway worker.

Now every time he is arrested, Barry is quickly back on the streets to steal again.

Leaving the courthouse the last time, he praised the new law, yelling to reporters, “Bail reform, it’s lit! You can’t touch me, I can’t be stopped…I take $200, $300 a day of your money… It’s a great thing. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Barry also has a habit of missing court dates, which requiring bail is supposed to prevent.

We’re no strangers to writing about people being arrested for the most trivial reasons. So I’d rather see a few guys like Barry walk free in exchange for countless innocent people spared from sitting in a cell.

But it’s just frustrating that legislators couldn’t be bothered to insert a couple of lines of text into the bill to prevent actual criminals like Charles Barry from taking advantage of much needed reform.

Click here for the full story.

*  *  *

And to continue learning how to ensure you thrive no matter what happens next in the world, I encourage you to download our free Perfect Plan B Guide.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/21/2020 – 18:45