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“Self Drive Act” Passes House Committee 54-0: Safety Standards Scrapped, 25,000 Driverless Cars Coming Right Up

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,
Many contend that self-driving trucks and cars will not happen anytime soon for numerous reasons (most of them easily refuted).
One of the reasons is of lack of approval from Congress.
That argument will…

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Obama’s Inauguration Day Letter To Trump Leaked: “Leave The Instruments Of Democracy Intact”

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Eight months after former President Barack Obama’s last day in office, a CNN source has leaked the letter Obama left for his predecessor on Inauguration Day – an American tradition when power passes from one leader to the next. Trump famously acknowledged receiving the letter, but refused to share its contents with the press.

The contents isn’t too exciting, until the fifth paragraph where, nestled among the platitudes and boilerplate, Obama leaves a warning for his successor:  

“Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions – like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties – that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”

The warning is perhaps a manifestation of liberal anxieties that the Trump administration will “break” the presidency and forever tarnish its democratic institutions.

Read the full text below:

Dear Mr. President –

 

Congratulations on a remarkable run. Millions have placed their hopes in you, and all of us, regardless of party, should hope for expanded prosperity and security during your tenure.

 

This is a unique office, without a clear blueprint for success, so I don’t know that any advice from me will be particularly helpful. Still, let me offer a few reflections from the past 8 years.

 

First, we’ve both been blessed, in different ways, with great good fortune. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s up to us to do everything we can (to) build more ladders of success for every child and family that’s willing to work hard.

 

Second, American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.

 

Third, we are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions – like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties – that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.

 

And finally, take time, in the rush of events and responsibilities, for friends and family. They’ll get you through the inevitable rough patches.

 

Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.

 

Good luck and Godspeed,

 

BO

According to CNN, Obama didn’t disclose the content even to his closest aides. Since then, however, Trump has shown the letter to visitors in the Oval Office or his private White House residence. CNN said it obtained its copy from someone Trump showed it to.

Upon reading Obama’s letter on Inauguration Day, Trump reportedly attempted to call the former president to express his gratitude… but Obama wasn’t available to take the call.

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Mattis: North Korea Threats To US, Allies “Will Be Met With Massive Military Response”

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

With the rest of the world once again seeking a peaceful solution to the escalating North Korean crisis, and having scheduled yet another United Nations Security Council emergency meeting for 10am on Monday to achieve some diplomatic breakthrough…

We along w/Japan, France, the UK and S.Korea have called for an emergency Security Council meeting on N.Korea in the open tomorrow at 10am

— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) September 3, 2017

… US defence secretary Jim Mattis was somewhat less diplomatic moments ago when speaking to reporters in front of the White House, when he warned that “any threat to the US or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response” and said that while the US is “not looking to the total annihilation” of North Korea, it has “many options to do so.”

Mattis also said that President Trump “wanted to be briefed on the many military options available to the US in response to the North Korean provocation”, suggesting that Trump will likely end up picking one.

The full White House statement on the 6th North Korean nuclear test, as delivered by Mattis shortly after 3pm ET, is below:

Any threat to the US or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. Kim Jong Un should take heed in the United Nations’ Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses and they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so.”

#BREAKING: Mattis: ‘Any threat to the US or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response’ pic.twitter.com/qe51bGdKt5

— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 3, 2017

It wasn’t only the US which condemned Kim’s actions: earlier on Sunday China also strongly criticized the nuclear test, slamming Pyongyang for ignoring international condemnation of its atomic weapons programme. North Korea “has ignored the international community’s widespread opposition, again carrying out a nuclear test. China’s government expresses resolute opposition and strong condemnation toward this,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

“We strongly urge the DPRK (North Korea) to face the strong will of denuclearisation from the international community, earnestly abide by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, stop taking mistaken actions which worsen the situation and are also not in line with its own interests, and effectively return to the track of solving the problem through dialogue,” it added.

Of course, the paradox here is that Beijing is North Korea’s main diplomatic ally and economic supporter and is seen as playing a crucial role in efforts to get Pyongyang to curb its weapons programme. The test came just hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping was scheduled to open a summit of BRICs nations in southern China.

According to AFP, North Korea’s actions create a potentially embarrassing situation for Xi, who is preparing for a politically sensitive gathering of the ruling Communist Party in October, at which he aims to further consolidate his power.

The leader chose not to address the test during his more than 40-minute address to the assembled leaders of Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil. It was the second time this year that North Korea has timed a weapons test to coincide with a major international political gathering in China.

In May Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile as leaders from 29 nations gathered in Beijing for a summit touting China’s new Silk Road project.

It is almost as if Kim Jong Un is begging for deadly retaliation not only from Washington, but Beijing as well. One of these days, he will surely get his wish.

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Cohn “Fed Chair” Odds Plunge In Prediction Markets

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Via Global Macro Monitor,
Odds that Gary Cohn will replace Yellen are dropping like a stone on PredictIt.  Putting Cohn behind Warsh and Yellen…

If tax reform looks stalled, and we should find out in the next few weeks, is there any reason for …

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Texas Governor: “Harvey Could Cost Up To $180 Billion”

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday that it could cost as much as $180 billion to rebuild Texas following Hurricane Harvey, more than four times what most experts expected ($40 billion). If accurate, Harvey would beat out Hurricane Katrina (total: $160 billion) for costliest storm in US history.

“Katrina caused if I recall more than $120 billion but when you look at the number of homes and business affected by this I think this will cost well over $120 billion, probably $150 to $180 billion,” Abbott told Fox News, adding, “this is far larger than Hurricane Sandy.”

Aside from a handful of meteorologists like Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather, who predicted – apparently with a surprising degree of accuracy – that Harvey-related costs could pile as high as $190 billion, few anticipated the extensive flooding damage the storm would cause in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the US, which contributes some $500 billion to US GDP every year.

Abbott, who offered his assessment of the damages during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the devastation wrought by Harvey could be costlier than Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined.

But whatever the final total, Abbott said he’s confident the federal government will authorize the assistance that President Trump promised, adding that the $8 billion that the White House asked for is merely a “down payment.”

Texas is still in “phase one” of the cleanup effort – i.e. first responders are still rescuing people in Beaumont and other parts of Southeastern Texas, where the storm made its second landfall.

“The president has made it clear, Congress is making it clear, this is just a down payment. Let’s not compare this to Sandy let’s compare this to Katrina. The population size is larger and the geographic size is far bigger than Hurricane Katrina and Sandy combined. It’s going to require even more than what was funded for Katrina which was $120 billion dollars…In the overall equation, the cost of this, if I understand it correctly, to rebuild Katrina was over $120 billion and when you consider the magnitude of this storm, when you look at the number of homes that have been mowed down and damaged, this is a huge catastrophe that people are going to have to come to grips with. It’s going to take years for us to overcome this challenge.”

 

“When you look at the number of homes and businesses affected by this, I think this will cost well over $120 billion…probably $150 [billion] to $180 billion.”

Worse, according to preliminary estimates, less than 20% of Harris County homeowners are insured against flooding (some estimates have the number as low as 15%). So what will Texas do to aid these homeowners? Abbott said the state had established a fund to help ensure that all homeowners affected by the storm are “taken care of.”

“Waters are receding in Houston, but remember there are so many other parts of the state that are affected such as the Beaumont, where we’re still doing search and rescue missions. We are still in phase one of response. As it comes to the homeowners, we’re working on multiple levels to make sure that these homeowners will be taken care of. Trump has had all his cabinet members in Texas constantly.”

Meanwhile, Houston was still struggling to recover on Sunday, when the city forced the evacuation of thousands of people on the western side of town to accommodate the release of water from a pair of reservoirs that otherwise might sustain damage. The storm stalled over Houston, dumping more than 50 inches (127 cm) on the region in a matter of days. The city cut off power to homes on Sunday morning to encourage evacuations, but conflicting information about who must leave angered some residents.

The area was barricaded and military vehicles were stationed on the periphery to take people out. Some living near the reservoirs were told their homes were in danger of new flooding and would not be allowed to return if they left.

“It’s hard to get the real story. We’re having to make decisions on what we do day by day. Do we stay or go?” said Todd Kellenbenz, who lives in the affected area. 

 

About 37,000 refugees stayed overnight in 270 shelters in Texas plus another 2,000 in seven Louisiana shelters, the highest number reported so far by the American Red Cross. Some 84,700 homes and businesses were without power on Sunday, down from a peak of around 300,000, according to the region’s major electric companies.

Still, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said his city was making progress on several fronts, resuming city services and helping get people into housing and out of emergency shelters.

Trump visited Houston on Saturday to meet evacuees and rescue workers, an opportunity to show an empathetic side after some criticized him for staying clear of the disaster zone during a previous visit on Tuesday. Trump had said he did not want to hamper rescue efforts.

Trump and his wife Melania marked a national day of prayer for hurricane victims on Sunday by attending church services at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.

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How To Make The Financial System Radically Safer

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by EconomicPrism’s MN Gordon via Acting-Man.com,

Preventing the Last Crisis

Clear thinking and discerning rigor when it comes to the twisted state of present economic policy matters brings with it many physical ailments.  A permanent state of disbelief, for instance, manifests in dry eyes and droopy shoulders.  So, too, a curious skepticism produces etched forehead lines and nighttime bruxism.

 

The terrible scourge of bruxism and its potentially terrifying consequences. Curious skepticism can lead to the darnedest things, which is why Big Brother strongly recommends that citizens remain in a medication and cable TV-induced apathetic stupor. To make this happy outcome easier to achieve, stagnation in real wages was successfully introduced a number of moons ago; forced to work to exhaustion just to keep their heads above water, citizens tend to be more docile in their shrinking free time. [PT]

 

Nonetheless, these are small prices to pay for the simple delight that comes when a central planner opens their mouth and inserts their foot.  Last Friday, for example, Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a speech to her friends and cohorts at the annual central banker’s powwow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  There she patted herself and the financial regulatory community on the back for what she believes has been a successful execution of financial regulations:

“The events of the [2008] crisis demanded action, needed reforms were implemented, and these reforms have made the system safer.”

How Yellen knows the reforms have made the system safer is unclear.  Like France’s impenetrable Maginot Line, the regulations Yellen lauds are backward looking.  They are suited to preventing the last crisis while ignoring new and greater threats amassing just beyond the horizon.

 

If mouse traps were designed like our nifty new financial regulations, this is what they would look like. Don’t you feel safer already?  [PT]

 

No doubt, the greatest of these mounting threats are of the Fed’s own making.  After adding $4 trillion to the Fed’s balance sheet and dropping the federal funds rate to near zero for many years they’re now in the early stages of their great endeavor to ‘normalize’ monetary policy.

But, alas, it’s no longer a normal world.  Years of abnormal monetary policy has fabricated an abnormal world.  Surely something will break before things are bent back into place, assuming they ever get there.

 

Dead Wrong

The reforms Yellen was referring to include the Dodd-Frank Act.  The Frank part of the regulation, if you recall, is former Congressman, and overall repulsive being, Barney Frank.  Despite being out of office for over four years, Frank’s grubby finger prints continue to besmirch the economy.

The Dodd-Frank Act, which was rolled out in response to the 2008 financial crisis, has turned out to be a classic case of knee-jerk regulatory overkill.  President Trump has promised relief to certain aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act’s suffocating regulatory regime, including stress test and capital requirements. These requirements force banks to keep more capital on their books as opposed to investing it in interest-earning assets.

 

Das abominable Frank, who lives on in the Act named after him. After aiding and abetting  the very lending practices that brought Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to their knees, he was somehow held to be the go-to person to work out a new set of regulations for the financial industry. He and Dodd created a telephone book-sized monstrosity of regulatory guidelines, which via implementation of administrative law by the bureaucracy has by now grown into several hundred telephone books of rules. The main effect of this was that the banking industry has become even more concentrated and so-called too-big-to-fail banks have grown even larger. They certainly are not happy with numerous aspects of the new regulations, but on the other hand, they no longer need to fear competition from upstarts, as compliance with this jungle of laws has essentially become unaffordable for institutions below a certain size threshold. [PT]

 

The rules also dictate how banks allocate their assets between highly liquid securities and illiquid loans – with greater preference for the former. Rolling back capital and stress test requirements would directly reduce compliance costs for banks and financial institutions.  It would also give banks greater autonomy in how they manage their lending operations.

But Fed Chair Yellen, a dyed-in-the-wool central planner, has a very narrow focus.  In her world, more control via more regulations always provides for a more stable financial system.  Yet she’s dead wrong.

 

We were unable find more recent data than those depicted in the above chart, so we cannot comment on the current situation, but shortly after the GFC, business closing did begin to exceed the number of new start-ups. Note that this trend has been in place for a long time – and it goes hand in hand with the growth on regulations in the Federal Register. The longest interruption occurred during the Reagan administration, which is not a coincidence: it was the only time in the entire post-war era in which the number of regulations in the Federal Register actually declined. This is of course precisely what one should expect – it is not rocket science. Unfortunately the political and bureaucratic elites are so far removed from the real world in their echo chambers that they apparently don’t understand even the most simple cause-effect chains. We should add, Mr. Bernanke also echoed the false claim that the mortgage credit market – one of the most tightly regulated sectors of the economy –  somehow suffered from “too little regulation”. It should be obvious that his aim was to deflect blame from where it should have been rightfully placed: the loose monetary policy of the Federal Reserve and the system-immanent drawbacks of a fiat money-based fractional reserve banking system that can expand the supply of money and credit willy-nilly. [PT]

 

The new financial reforms that were instituted following the 2008 financial crisis have had the adverse effect of constraining economic growth.  U.S. gross domestic product growth has lagged behind asset price and debt growth.  Moreover, more businesses are vanishing than are being created. Barney Frank’s maze of regulations has made it harder for small businesses and entrepreneurs to access the capital needed to grow and create jobs.

 

How to Make the Financial System Radically Safer

At the same time, the new financial reforms haven’t minimized risk.  Moreover, they’ve set taxpayers – that’s you – up for a future fleecing.  Congressman Robert Pittenger elaborated this fact in a Forbes article last year:

“Even Dodd-Frank’s biggest selling point, that it would end “too big to fail,” has proven false.  Dodd-Frank actually created a new bailout fund for big banks–the Orderly Liquidation Authority–and the Systemically Important Financial Institution designation enshrines “too big to fail” by giving certain major financial institutions priority for future taxpayer-funded bailouts.”

What gives? Regulations, in short, attempt to control something by edict.  However, just because a law has been enacted doesn’t mean the world automatically bends to its will.  In practice, regulations generally do a poor job at attaining their objectives.  Yet, they often do a great job at making a mess of everything else.

Dictating how banks should allocate their loans, as Dodd-Frank does, results in preferential treatment of favored institutions and corporations.  This, in itself, equates to stratified price controls on borrowers.  And as elucidated by Senator Wallace Bennett over a half century ago, price controls are the equivalent of using adhesive tape to control diarrhea.

 

The dangerous conceit of the clueless… the house of cards they have built is anything but “safe” and they most certainly can not “fix anything”. Listening to their speeches that seems to be what they genuinely believe. A rude awakening is an apodictic certainty, but we wonder what or who will be blamed this time. Not enough regulations? The largely absent free market? As they say, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (this quote is often erroneously attributed to Mark Twain: we think it doesn’t matter whether he created it, it is often quite apposite and this is a situation that certainly qualifies).  [PT]

 

The point is that planning for future taxpayer-funded bailouts as part of compliance with destructive regulations is asinine.  In this respect, we offer an approach that goes counter to Fed Chair Janet Yellen and the modus operandi of all central planner control freaks.  It’s really simple, and really effective.

The best way to regulate banks, lending institutions, corporate finance and the like, is to turn over regulatory control to the very exacting, and unsympathetic, order of the market.  That is to have little to no regulations and one very specific and uncompromising provision:

There will be absolutely, unconditionally, categorically, no government funded bailouts.

Without question, the financial system will be radically safer.

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Venezuelans Find A New Way To Fight Back

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Rene Chun via The Atlantic,

Hyperinflation has driven thousands to seek out unorthodox currency.

In Venezuela, home to some of the worst hyperinflation since the Weimar Republic, a Big Mac costs about half a month’s wages. Or rather, it did, until a bread shortage forced the burger off the menu. The annual inflation rate is expected to hit 1,600 percent. Life resembles an old newsreel: long lines, empty shelves, cashiers weighing stacks of bills.

To survive, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to minería bitcoin – mining bitcoin, the cryptocurrency. Lend computer processing power to the blockchain (the bitcoin network’s immense, decentralized ledger) and you will be rewarded with bitcoin. To contribute more data-crunching power, and earn more bitcoin, people operate racks of specialized computers known as “miners.” Whether a mining operation is profitable hinges on two main factors: bitcoin’s market value—which has hit record highs this year—and the price of electricity, needed to run the powerful hardware.

Electricity, it so happens, is one thing most Venezuelans can afford: Under the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro, power is so heavily subsidized that it is practically free. A person running several bitcoin miners can clear $500 a month. That’s a small fortune in Venezuela today, enough to feed a family of four and purchase vital goods—baby diapers, say, or insulin—online. (Most web retailers don’t ship directly to Venezuela, but some Florida-based delivery services do.)

Under these circumstances, a miner starts to look a lot like an ATM. Professors and college students have mined bitcoin; so, rumor has it, have politicians and police officers. It has become a common currency even among non-miners: Peer-to-peer online exchanges (think Venmo, but with cryptocurrency) allow everyone from shopkeepers to a former Miss Venezuela to buy and sell with bitcoin.

But recently, Maduro has begun cracking down on mining operations, apparently finding in them a convenient political scapegoat—much as he calls those who seek to profit off inflation “capitalist parasites.” Yet trading bitcoin is still condoned. It’s as if Maduro realizes that cryptocurrency is one of the few things holding the country together.

Because Venezuela has no cryptocurrency laws, police have arrested mine operators on spurious charges. Their first target, Joel Padrón, who owns a courier service and started mining to supplement his income, was charged with energy theft and possession of contraband and detained for 14 weeks. Since then, other bitcoin rigs have been seized – and, in many cases, rebooted by corrupt police for personal profit. As a result, Padrón told me, many people have stopped mining. But Rodrigo Souza, the founder of BlinkTrade, which runs SurBitcoin, a Venezuelan bitcoin exchange based in Brooklyn, says that for others, the temptation is still too great to resist. “People haven’t stopped mining,” he told me. “They’ve just gone deeper underground.”

Venezuela’s most resourceful miners, in fact, are moving on to a new inflation-buster: the cryptocurrency ether (ETH). The profit margins are higher and, more important, the risk factor is much lower.

“Mining ETH or bitcoin is pretty much the same principle: using free electricity to generate cash,” one Venezuelan miner told me.

 

“But ETH mining is more affordable – all you need is free software and a PC with a video card. Any police officer is easily fooled into thinking your ETH miner is just a regular computer.

And so, as the presses churn out worthless bolivares, the miners carry on, tapping into the power grid, turning electrons into dollars.

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Mnuchin: Debt-Limit Should Be Tied To Harvey Disaster Funds

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After warning earlier this week that the Hurricane Harvey cleanup effort would drain the government’s coffers more quickly than expected – meaning that Congress would need to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling ASAP – Treasury Secre…

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“We’ll See” Trump Responds Asked If He’ll Attack N.Korea, May Halt Trade With Any Country Doing Business With Kim

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After President Trump condemned North Korea’s “hostile and dangerous” actions this morning, hours after the rogue state’s 6th nuclear test, and according to the Kim regime first test of a hydrogen bomb, the press wanted to know one thing: will the US attack North Korea? “We’ll see,” Trump responded, leaving church when a press pooler shouted a question about if he plans to attack North Korea. Earlier, commenting on Twitter, Trump called the country “a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success”, although that statement too failed to provide clarity into what the next tactical step could be.

As reported shortly after midnight ET, the latest North Korean provocation reinforced the danger facing America, Trump had said earlier in a series of tweets, adding that “talk of appeasement” is pointless. “They only understand one thing!” Trump wrote, without elaboration, as he prepared to meet later with his national security team. It was the first nuclear test since Trump took office in January.

The precise strength of the explosion, described by state-controlled media in North Korea as a hydrogen bomb, has yet to be determined. According to the AP, South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five such tests. The impact reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.

And while Trump decides to what the proper course of action is, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was busy calling counterparts in Asia, while Steven Mnuchin, said he was putting together proposed new sanctions for Trump to consider that would seek to cut off trade with North Korea, although as we said earlier, it’s unclear what kind of penalties might make a difference. Lassina Zerbo, head of the U.N. test ban treaty organization agreed, saying that sanctions already imposed against North Korea aren’t working.

Last month, Trump warned that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America. The bellicose words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that’s home to U.S. bombers. So far, Kim has called Trump’s bluff every single time, without any retaliation besides just more jawboning by the US president, which considering a direct response by N. Korea to a US attack could result in millions of dead South Koreans, is probably not the worst outcome.

Meanwhile, as Trump lashed out at North Korea on twitter this morning, while China remains by far the North’s biggest trading partner, Trump appeared to be more critical of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has attempted to reach out to the North. To that point, the WSJ reported yesterday that the White House was weighing withdrawing from a five-year-old bilateral trade pact known as KORUS, with a decision set to come as soon as this coming week, according to people familiar with the matter

“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump said.

Shortly after noon ET, Trump underscored the threat of trade war involving both South Korea and China, when he tweeted “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”

The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017

He also said that he will be meeting “General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea. Thank you.”

I will be meeting General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea. Thank you.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017

Meanwhile, China’s Xinhua News Agency said President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, meeting on the sidelines of a Beijing-led economic summit, agreed “to adhere to the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, have close communication and coordination and properly respond” to the test.

While leaders of superpowers were moving slowly, regional concerns were at breaking point: South Korea held a National Security Council meeting chaired by Moon. Officials in Seoul said Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, spoke with his South Korean counterpart for 20 minutes about an hour after the detonation. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test “absolutely unacceptable.”

Nuclear tests are crucial to perfecting sophisticated technologies and to demonstrating to the world that claims of nuclear prowess are not merely a bluff. The North claimed the device it tested was a thermonuclear weapon, also known as a hydrogen bomb. That could be hard to independently confirm. It said the underground test site did not leak radioactive materials, which would make such a determination even harder.

At the same time, the simple power of the blast was convincing. Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said it might have been as powerful as 70 kilotons. North Korea’s previous largest was thought to be anywhere from 10 to 30 kilotons. “We cannot deny it was an H-bomb test,” Onodera said.

Even before this morning’s H-bomb test, the AP reported that Japan was debating whether to develop a limited pre-emptive strike capability and buy cruise missiles, ideas that were anathema in the pacifist country before the North Korea missile threat. With revisions to Japan’s defense plans underway, ruling party hawks are accelerating the moves, and some defense experts say Japan should at least consider them.

After being on the backburner in the ruling party for decades, a possibility of pre-emptive strike was formally proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by his party’s missile defense panel in March, prompting parliamentary debate, though somewhat lost steam as Abe apparently avoided the divisive topic after seeing support ratings for his scandal-laden government plunge.

 

“Should we possess pre-emptive strike capability?” liberal-leaning Mainichi newspaper asked the following day. “But isn’t it too reckless to jump to discuss a ‘get them before they get you’ approach?”

Following the latest, most powerful nuclear test, Japan’s resolve for a preemptive strike will only strengthen further.

Meanwhile, more is likely to come from North Korea.  Just before Sunday’s test, according to state media, Kim and the other senior leaders at the party presidium meeting discussed “detailed ways and measures for containing the U.S. and other hostile forces’ vicious moves for sanctions.” The photos released earlier showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that the state-run media said was designed to be mounted on the North’s “Hwasong-14” ICBM. The North claims the device was made domestically and has explosive power that can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. For context, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. had a 15-kiloton yield.

Of course, the biggest concern to date is that not only are options to pressure Pyongyang limited, but the Kim regime seems to be growing more bold with every unanswered provocation. Further economic and trade sanctions, increased diplomatic pressure and boosting military maneuvers or shows of force would likely all be on the table. Which is why we expect that following today’s meeting between Trump and Kelly, General and “other military leaders”, the sequence of events involing US military intervention in North Korea will finally start to move.

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A Word To The Wise – “You’re A Mercenary If…”

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The Burning Platform’s Jim Quinn notes that:

I have no idea if Major General Higginbotham actually penned this or not but it is a stark warning, one that I have maintained for years, that a civil war in North America (if it happens in the USA it will take Mexico and Canada along for the ride) will not be as cut and dry and as some folks would like.

 

There are no definable sides to our current predicament, no political organization to speak of, and as such a wide spread conflict would become chaos in short order. The continent would get very tribal very quickly. Political ideologues proceed with caution.

 

You won’t like what you are about to read.

Via Kunckledraggin.com,

“If you are paid $25.00 an hour to show up to a rally to “counter” the other party using physical force and violence, you are not a “counter protestor.” You are a mercenary.

There is no need for further debate on this. You were paid to attack someone you don’t know for reasons that you couldn’t care enough about to go there for free. You did your “job” and collected your check and your reimbursement of expenses. You’re a mercenary.

Not a Patriot. Not a Social Justice Warrior. Not a Defender of Freedom or Liberty. Not an upholder of Truth or Justice. None of those things you claim to be. You are a mercenary.

And mercenaries are not lawful combatants and deserve whatever comes their way at the hands of the people they are attacking.

You have no 1st Amendment rights when you’re a mercenary.

Doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Doesn’t matter what cause you’re showing up to disrupt. If you can’t express yourself peacefully through diplomatic means, then you better be prepared to meet your maker at the hands of someone who is only barely keeping their own violent tendencies at bay through a massive exercise of self-control.

I know it sounds romantic to attend these rallies and get shit started with the other side. And when you’re young and passionate, it’s really easy to get whipped up into a frenzy of raw emotions. There is a reason why young people are preferred when it comes to warfare. They are easy to manipulate and control and set off.

But I’m telling you all this right now. You’ve got no idea what road you are starting down. Romance and idealism wears off really fast when you’re laying in a pool of your own blood trying to stuff your intestines back into your torn abdomen.

I’ve been lucky enough to go forty-two years without having to put the skills I learned in the Marines to use. I continue to train and keep those skills up to date because I see the madness that is happening all across this country. I don’t train to attack others like you do. I train to defend others FROM you. I’m not alone either.

There are thousands of men and women in this country who have seen war and death and don’t want any more to do with it. They want to live in peace. They want to forget the things they’ve had to do in the service of their country. They want to raise their kids and have family BBQs and build tree houses and soap box derby cars and have tea parties.

They don’t want this shit that you’re selling.

You have the extremist left and the extremist right that are doing their best to get something started. To force us into a Civil War. Even in the 1860’s, the violence between the North and South was nowhere near what we see today. Nowhere. Even. Close.

And yet we still had a war of ideology that consumed hundreds of thousands of lives.

All you young and naive kids on both sides of this equation who think that having a Civil War will advance your agenda or restore your vision of what you think is America, just remember this… Those of us older generations aren’t having any of this shit. And if you jump off, you better be prepared to deal with US. We don’t care what color you’re wearing or what sign you’re holding if you come after us, our friends, our family, our co-workers, our neighbors, etc., WE will kill you.

So remember that when you’re thinking that it’s just Left vs Right, or Liberal vs Conservative, or Commie vs. Fascist. We are the variable you’re not considering.

That “Silent Majority” that you pretend does not exist is getting really sick and tired of your bullshit.

Geoffrey B. Higginbotham
Major General, USMC (Ret.)
-SS

 

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