Thursday, March 23, 2017

Michael J. Sainato — Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine

The cyber security firm outsourced by the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike, reportedly misread data, falsely attributing a hacking in Ukraine to the Russians in December 2016.…
The report sheds further skepticism on CrowdStrike’s findings and objectivity in their conclusions, which several cyber security experts and former CIA and NSA officials have cast doubt on, especially given that several media outlets reported in early January 2017 that the DNC never allowed the FBI to examine their servers themselves, rather the FBI relied on forensic data gathered by CrowdStrike.
The investigation methods used to come to the conclusion that the Russian Government led the hacks of the DNC, Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, and the DCCC were further called into question by a recent BuzzFeed report by Jason Leopold, who has developed a notable reputation from leading several non-partisan Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for investigative journalism purposes. On March 15 that the Department of Homeland Security released just two heavily redacted pages of unclassified information in response to an FOIA request for definitive evidence of Russian election interference allegations. Leopold wrote, “what the agency turned over to us and Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at MIT and a research affiliate at Harvard University, is truly bizarre: a two-page intelligence assessment of the incident, dated Aug. 22, 2016, that contains information DHS culled from the internet. It’s all unclassified — yet DHS covered nearly everything in wide swaths of black ink. Why? Not because it would threaten national security, but because it would reveal the methods DHS uses to gather intelligence, methods that may amount to little more than using Google.”
In lieu of substantive evidence provided to the public that the alleged hacks which led to Wikileaks releases of DNC and Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails were orchestrated by the Russian Government, CrowdStrike’s bias has been cited as undependable in its own assessment, in addition to its skeptical methods and conclusions. The firm’s CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who also happened to donate at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton it’s Distinguished International Leadership Award. In 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted one of several events with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in early 2014...
Counterpunch
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Michael J. Sainato

Michael Hudson — Wall Street First

Trump is Obama’s Legacy. Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Michael Hudson
Wall Street First
Michael Hudson | President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and Guest Professor at Peking University

Reuters — Uncertain fate of Obamacare causes some hospitals to halt projects, hiring —

Uncertainty surrounding the Republican plan to replace Obamacare is forcing some U.S. hospitals to delay expansion plans, cut costs, or take on added risk to borrow money for capital investment projects, dealing an economic blow to these facilities and the towns they call home.…Across the country, hospitals are shifting to a more conservative stance as they await sweeping changes to the nation's healthcare law that for the first time in U.S. history would reverse a government healthcare entitlement program. The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, provided coverage to 20 million Americans and brought higher revenues to many hospitals. 

The law's likely overhaul puts many hospitals in a uniquely daunting position of being unable to predict how many of their patients will be insured and what type of coverage they will have in the future. As a result, many are more wary than in years past to invest in expensive capital projects, issue debt, or expand into new regions, said healthcare experts and hospital executives....
Hospital jobs increased after the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage. Now, amid increasing uncertainty around the nation’s healthcare law, hospital jobs are on the decline.
But, but, but, we are "saving money."

Reuters
Uncertain fate of Obamacare causes some hospitals to halt projects, hiring

Matthew Allen — Greece to Surrender Gold, Utilities and Real Estate in Exchange For Pieces of Paper Printed in Brussels

It’s official: The Germans will not allow debt relief for Greece. Instead, Berlin wants to send in the repo man.
The untold story of the Greek “bailouts” is that it wasn’t a “bailout” — it was an auction of Greek assets. Real, tangible things with real, tangible value were seized in exchange for pieces of paper that guarantee Athens will be chained to Berlin and Brussels for the foreseeable future.
It’s your basic extortion racket....
A bit too melodramatic? We forgot — we are supposed to use the friendly neoliberal term for this policy of national enslavement and communal suicide: “voluntary privatization.”...
Events prove Michael Hudson right again about predatory lending funneling assets from the periphery to the core. Neoliberalism implies neo-imperialism and neocolonialism.
A perfect crime. After all, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs helped cook the books so Greece could join the eurozone.
This really is a golden age for international criminal cabals. Al Capone was a chump.
Defend Democracy Press
Greece to Surrender Gold, Utilities and Real Estate in Exchange For Pieces of Paper Printed in Brussels
Matthew Allen

Kevin Robillard — Koch network pledges to defend Republicans who vote against GOP health bill

The Koch brothers' network of well-funded outside groups says it will spend millions to protect Republicans who oppose the party's health care bill from political fallout.
Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, the Koch network's big budget grass-roots activism and advertising groups, are teaming up to create a "seven-figure" reserve fund to support lawmakers who buck President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan on the health care vote, as the threat of primaries looms over some opponents of the bill. The Koch groups will spend the money on paid media, direct mail and grass-roots canvassing.

Freedom Partners called the GOP bill "Obamacare 2.0" and said it falls short of truly repealing the 2010 law....
The Koch groups argue that the GOP's bills refundable tax credits to make health coverage more affordable are a new entitlement….
The GOP goes to war with itself over purity versus practicality.

Politico
Kevin Robillard


Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer — Quantitative Easing vs. Fiscal Policy

… when people pay taxes their bank accounts are debited and correspondingly the government account at the central bank is replenished. During an accounting period, government expenditure will have been funded by tax revenues received, sale of bonds to the private sector, plus the increase in central bank money....
I am not sure from reading this whether the authors hold that taxes fund spending and debt issuance finances deficits in the accounting sense of "fund" and "finance," or that such funding/financing is operationally necessary before spending can take place. The former is consistent with the MMT view, but not the latter.

From the MMT point of view, the central bank creates government liabilities by crediting accounts with bank reserves, which increases the monetary base. Funds in the Treasury's general account (TGA) do not count toward either the monetary base or the money supply. 

In the US, when the Treasury spends in accordance with appropriations, it directs the Fed to credit bank's account in the payments system with settlement balances aka "bank reserves." This increases base money. When taxes are paid, base money is reduced by that amount and taxpayers deposit accounts at banks are reduced. The spending and taxation are reflected in the government fiscal balance.

Similarly, when government securities are issues, the auction is paid for with settlement balances, the monetary base is reduced by that amount, and purchasers's deposit accounts at banks are reduced.

This simply involves crediting and debiting various accounts on the government's books (Treasury and central bank), banks' books, and bank customers books. There is no operational need for funding for the government to spend prior to spending than for banks to secure funding before extending credit by making loans and crediting deposit accounts. 

In the process, the LHS and RHS balance, which is what "funding" means in an accounting sense. For banks, the corresponding entry in a deposit account "funds" the loan. For government, the entries in accounts recording tax payments and debt issuance "fund" spending. 

With respect to government, the ratio between money creation that adds to the monetary base and money withdrawal through taxation and securities issuance that reduces the money base determines the fiscal balance. 

The difference between taxation and securities issuance is that taxation "destroys" money in the sense  that the monetary based and M1 are reduced, decreasing non-government net financial wealth in aggregate, while securities issuance shifts funds from the monetary base and deposit accounts to government securities without changing non-government net financial wealth in aggregate. Only the term changes and not the amount. 

MMT calls the issuance of government securities "draining the monetary base." It is a monetary operation that is not necessary operationally, but rather it is an optional tool operationally that is convenient for conducting monetary policy when the central bank chooses to set the interest rate above zero and is not paying interest on excess reserves. Draining the monetary base with securities issuance reduces the needs to open market operations (OMO) using repurchase agreements (repo).

However, instead of the Treasury issuing securities, the central bank could simply book loans to the Treasury directly. This is permitted in some jurisdiction, but it is prohibited politically in the US. This is a voluntary political choice that doesn't involve the US government needing to obtain funding from nongovernment in order to spend. In actuality, spending funds both tax payments in aggregate and securities purchases in aggregate, since the funds that government spends are offset on the governments' books by taxes and sale of government securities, both of which reduce the monetary base. The monetary base consists of government liabilities that only the central bank can create and that must already be available for tax payment and securities purchases. 

In this sense, government spends first which creates the funding for it similar to the way that the extension of a loan as an account receivable that is bank asset creates the corresponding funding in the form of a credit to a customer deposit account, which is a bank liability. Similarly, when government spends, the money base as a liability of the central bank increases and the TGA is debited. Debiting the TGA doesn't affect any of the measures of money.  When taxes are paid, monetary based decreases, which is the same as saying that the central banks' liabilities decrease. The TGA is credited but this credit doesn't count toward any measure of money. Thus tax payments "destroy money." The Treasury does not have money to spend. It simply has a credit that is used in determining the fiscal balance.

Based on spending appropriations and tax policy determined by the fiscal authority, generally the legislative branch, the Treasury and central bank coordinate operations to accommodate both the fiscal operations of the Treasury conducted by the central bank as the government's fiscal agent with the monetary operations of the central bank. This is coordinated so that all accounts stay in balance, which means that spending is always funded using government liabilities as the spending occurs.

The key to understanding this is that "the government neither has not does not have money." The government as monetary and fiscal authority issues the currency, determines monetary and fiscal policy, using its agents, the Treasury and central banks to carry it out in accordance with law and regulation.

Central banks are usually delegated as the fiscal agent of government having the authority and responsibility for issuing the currency. This means that the central bank is not limited in the amount it can credit to its liabilities. That is, as the currency issuer the central bank does not have to get money elsewhere. 

The Treasury does not have money either since credits to its account at the central bank do not count toward any measure of money. Moreover, the doesn't have to get money from the central bank to spend. The Treasury directs the central bank to credit non-government accounts in accordance with the government appropriations. Like the liabilities of the central bank that constitute bank reserves, the numbers in the TGA are simply accounting entries used to compute the fiscal balance from the income statement and balance sheet and show sources and uses of funding. 

The Treasury and central bank coordinate operations to ensure that accounts balance as operations are conducted. From the logical point of view, spending must precede taxation and securities purchases, since government only accepts its own liabilities in the payments system operated by the central bank. Currency users have to get these liabilities, whereas government is the currency issuer. From the temporal point of view, accounts are debited and credited simultaneously so that they are always in balance. There is some intra-day leeway but all accounts must balance at the close. 

Another key point is that government liabilities held by non-government are non-government financial assets. Since the liability is on the side of government, these financial assets held by non-government constitute non-government net financial assets in aggregate, that is to say, non-government financial wealth the funding of which is government liabilities.

Triple Crisis
Quantitative Easing vs. Fiscal Policy
Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer

Asia Unhedged — Blackwater’s Eric Prince to open bases in China

US private military company Frontier Services Group (FSG) is planning operations in China’s Xinjiang Province that will support the One Belt, One Road initiative, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.
FSG’s chairman, Eric Prince, is better known as the founder of the Blackwater military company, which played a large role in the US-Iraqi war. Prince told China’s Global Times that “FSG has expanded its geographic focus from purely Africa to include the Northwest corridors of the One Belt and One Road initiative.”
Seemingly at odds with plans to provide military services in China, Prince has close ties to the White House. His sister is a member of the president’s cabinet, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and he was a frequent radio guest of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s Breitbart....
Asia Times
Blackwater’s Eric Prince to open bases in China
Asia Unhedged

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jon Schwarz — Congressman’s Trump Surveillance Claims Have an Obvious, Mundane Explanation


It's complicated. Jon Schwarz unpacks it for us.

Edward Harrison — You should be concerned about falling car prices and Ally’s profit warning

Yesterday, Ally Financial warned that profits would underperform expectations. Now, they dd not say that profits would fall or that they were taking credit writedowns. Neverthless, the warning is an important marker and should be of grave concern. Here’s why....
Credit Writedowns
You should be concerned about falling car prices and Ally’s profit warningEdward Harrison

Biz Carson — Apple just bought the app it once crowned 'most innovative' and made it free for everyone


Free is good.

Business Insider
Apple just bought the app it once crowned 'most innovative' and made it free for everyone
Biz Carson

Here's another new product from Apple.

Bill Mitchell — More evidence that the US labour market is not at full employment

Regular readers will recall a few of my blogs where I have demonstrated that the US economy is still nowhere near to what one might call full employment, even though that concept is highly contested and can span a range of outcomes depending on the ideological disposition one takes. I have also done some research decomposing the marked decline in the US participation rate since around 2000 into age-related effects and what I call the discouraged worker effects (workers giving up looking for jobs because of the slow employment growth). This week (March 20, 2017), research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco bears on this topic –
How Tight Is the U.S. Labor Market? – and they essentially concur with my previous assessments. There work is interesting because it reaches the same conclusion from a variety of methods, which is always a good sign because it means the result is not method-specific. However, there are those who for their own ideological reasons want to argue that the US economy is already at full employment. If they were correct, it would mean the quality of that ‘full employment’ had shifted markedly – lower – as a consequence of the GFC and its aftermath and that the associated underutilisation levels had risen.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
More evidence that the US labour market is not at full employment
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Sputnik — Russia Secures Financial System From Potential SWIFT Shutoff - Central Bank Head

Russia has introduced safeguards against the risk of being shut out of international transaction systems such as Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) after anti-Russian sanctions introduced by the West, Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said Wednesday.…
"There was the threat of being shut out of SWIFT. We updated our transaction system, and if anything happens, all SWIFT-format operations will continue to work, we created an analogous system," Nabiullina said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Think Tank: Cyber Firm [Crowdstrike] at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data


Voice of America, the US government international propaganda arm news service confirms the report of Moon of Alabama posted here at MNE earlier in the day that the Crowdstrike claim of Russian involvement in hacking the Ukrainian military was disproved.
[Dmitri] Alperovitch, a Russian expatriate and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council policy research center in Washington, co-founded CrowdStrike in 2011.
Voice of America
Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data
Oleksiy Kuzmenko and Pete Cobus

#$@&%*! [James Comey on Russia at the Congressional Hearing]

These guys are clowns. They are beyond ignorant, because they are ignorant even of their own ignorance.
#$@&%*
#$@&%*!
#$@&%*!
#$@&%*!
Nobody should take these hearings in the slightest bit seriously.
Irrussianality
#$@&%*!
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Also
“… Schiff, a former prosecutor, … should know better than to treat ‘circumstantial evidence’ as a synonym for guilt by association.
NEWSWATCH: “Leakgate Finds Its Joe McCarthy; On Trump-Russia links, Rep. Schiff tries to fool the public with randomness” – Wall Street Journal/HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

Also
A shortage of knowledge accompanied by a desire to generalize as broadly as possible are the basic ingredients of a witch-hunt.
Bloomberg View
Why the Comey Hearing Was Frightening to a Russian
Leonid Bershidsky | Bloomberg View columnist and dRussian ex-pat

Also

The National Interest
The House Intelligence Committee Hearing: Missing Questions
Editorial

Brian Romanchuk — Modelling A Gold Standard


A simple account of the Bretton Woods international monetary system, out of Godley & Lavoie, and with diagrams.

Bond Economics
Modelling A Gold Standard
Brian Romanchuk

Trumponomics: causes and consequences – Part I – RWER issue no. 78



Auerback, Galbraith, Hudson, Kelton, Wray, Tcherneva provide an MMT-based critique of Trumponomics. 

Real-World Economics Review Blog
Trumponomics: causes and consequences – Part I – RWER issue no. 78

Preface          download pdf
Trumponomics: everything to fear including fear itself?          3
Jamie Morgan          download pdf                                                                           
Can Trump overcome secular stagnation?          20
James K. Galbraith            download pdf                              
Trump through a Polanyi lens: considering community well-being          28
Anne Mayhew            download pdf                                                                                    
Trump is Obama’s legacy. Will this break up the Democratic Party?          36
Michael Hudson          download pdf
Causes and consequences of President Donald Trump          44
Ann Pettifor               download pdf                                 
Explaining the rise of Donald Trump          54
Marshall Auerback          download pdf 
Class and Trumponomics          62
David F. Ruccio          download pdf 
Trump’s Growthism: its roots in neoclassical economic theory          86
Herman Daly          download pdf 
Trumponomics: causes and prospects          98
L. Randall Wray          download pdf 
The fall of the US middle class and the hair-raising ascent of Donald Trump
Steven Pressman          download pdf          112
Mourning in America: the corporate/government/media complex          125
Neva Goodwin          download pdf 
How the Donald can save America from capital despotism          132
Stephen T. Ziliak          download pdf 
Prolegomenon to a defense of the City of Gold          141
David A. Westbrook          download pdf 
Trump’s bait and switch: job creation in the midst of welfare state sabotage
Pavlina R. Tcherneva           download pdf          148
Can ‘Trumponomics’ extend the recovery?          159
Stephanie Kelton           download pdf 
Board of Editors, past contributors, submissions and etc.          173

Moon of Alabama — Fool Me Once ... - Crowdstrike Claimed Two Cases Of "Russian Hacking" - One Has Been Proven Wrong

The cyber-security company Crowdstrike claimed that the "Russia" hacked the Democratic National Committee. It also claimed that "Russia" hacked artillery units of the Ukrainian army. The second claim has now be found to be completely baseless. That same is probably the case with its claims related to the DNC.
Much of this has already been posted here previously, but b pulls it together. Moreover, it is relevant now owing to the recent testimony of FBI chief James Comey that the agency never actually investigated the alleged DNC "hack" forensically and there is good reason to think that it was actually a leak rather than a hack.

There are some good comments, too.

Internet security is highly important, of course, but without oversight it can lead to government management of the national and global information systems.

In this case Congress seems to be bent on a witch hunt rather than a real investigation.

New Directions

Like many good books, Martin Gurri’s The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium is about One Big Idea, though the implications take a while to work through. It’s basically a story of how technology and media are changing politics.…Gurri really won my heart when he brought this insight together with the work of the great anthropologist Mary Douglas, who had an uncanny knack for creating powerful and useful analytical frameworks:
Andrew Batson's Blog
So far, my favorite book about the 2016 election is one that came out in 2014
Andrew Batson
The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is unassailable.
Truthdig
A Last Chance for Resistance
Chris Hedges


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kate Martin — Neil Gorsuch was instrumental in defending George W. Bush’s torture program

When Gorsuch took a job at the Justice Department in 2005, the department — then headed by President Bush’s former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales — was in the midst of defending radical claims of unreviewable presidential authority to act in the name of national security. Gorsuch, as Principal Deputy to the Associate Attorney General, became deeply involved in that work. 
President Bush claimed that he could act not only without Congress, and in secret, but that he could violate the law if he decided that national security required it, and the courts had no power to review his actions. These were not academic claims, they were made in defense of outrageous abuses of individual rights carried out in the name of the “war against terror.”…

While the documents about Mr. Gorsuch’s tenure at DOJ working on this case are still incomplete, they contain no indication that he disagreed with or questioned any of these radical legal positions taken by the administration....
Think Progress
Neil Gorsuch was instrumental in defending George W. Bush’s torture program
Kate Martin | Senior Fellow at American Progress

Also
Gorsuch appeared slightly flustered when Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California – the top Democrat on the Republican-majority committee and an influential member of the Senate Intelligence Committee – pressed him on his role advising President Bush in drafting U.S. policy on torture.

She brought up several memos and emails detailing his role helping the White House conclude that "enhanced interrogations" were legal, a memo he drafted helping top Bush aides sell that notion to the public and agreed that a controversial program allowing government surveillance on American citizens without a warrant as part of the war on terror.
Gorsuch said he didn't remember the memos and was reluctant to talk about his "loose recollection of something that happened 11 or 12 years ago." But he reminded Feinstein that he was essentially a lawyer working for a client and not a judge, and he didn't always agree with the administration's more assertive conclusions – although he wouldn't say which ones..

"There was a tug of war in the White House" on the issue, Feinstein answered, and "I want to know which side you were on."
He refused to say.

Thumbs down on confirmation.

US News
Gorsuch Questioned Early on Torture Memo
Joseph P. Williams, Staff Writer

Robert David English — Russia, Trump, and a New Détente


This was originally published at Foreign Affairs, an organ of the Council on Foreign Relations. Foreign Affairs is behind a paywall, so the venue here is US-Russia.org.

Foreign Affairs has generally taken the idealistic approach to foreign policy and suppressed the realistic. The publication of this article is counter to trend. Observers wonder if it signals a reversal, or at least a modification.

US-RUSSIA.ORG
Russia, Trump, and a New Détente
Robert David English | Associate Professor of International Relations, Slavic Languages & Literature, and Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California
Originally published at Foreign Affairs

Is Internet censorship looming large? Looking like it.


Censorship is descending on the Internet.

QCHG is the British counterpart of NSA.

The Guardian
Facebook and Twitter should do more to combat fake news, says GCHQ
Josh Halliday

Also
“Facebook itself will not decide what is real and what is considered fake. Instead, it is enlisting The Poynter Institute, a Florida journalism school, to sift through content,” they continued. “The Poynter Institute is the host of the International Fact Checking Network which bills itself as a ‘global alliance of fact checkers’. Its members include ABC News, Politico, The Associated Press, Snopes.com and The Washington Post.”
Breitbart question the partisanship of some of the "fact checkers," but not The Poynter Institute. Here are some of the entities behind it.
Poynter's IFCN has received funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Duke Reporters’ Lab, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations and the Park Foundation.
Not exactly objective, are they?

Breitbart
Report: Facebook Users Begin Receiving Pop-Up Warnings When Trying to Share ‘Fake News’

Also

Bloomberg View's Leonid Bershidsky blasts Poynter's IFCN as biased.

Bloomberg View
Leonid Bershidsky

Also

Media Bias Fact Check has a list of the supposedly least biased news sources. They are all establishment entities that are in general agreement on the "facts."

Also

Ex-CIA agent Larry C. Johnson's blog No Quarter  has been taken down, as you will see if you click on the link. Disappeared.  Now that is scary. 

Is totalitarianism looming?

Garrett M. Graff — Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker


Detective story. And the quarry is still at large.

Wired
Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker
Garrett M. Graff

Hayley Peterson — Sears says there's ‘substantial doubt’ it can stay in business


Remember Sears and Roebuck's competitor Montgomery Ward? Looks like Sears is following the same path.

Monkey Ward is still around, you say?
After its demise, the familiarity of its brand meant its name, corporate logo, and advertising were still considered valuable intangible assets. In 2004, catalog marketer Direct Marketing Services Inc. (DMSI), an Iowa-based direct marketing company, purchased much of the intellectual property assets of the former Wards, including the "Montgomery Ward" and "Wards" trademarks, for an undisclosed amount of money.[30]
DMSI applied the brand to a new online and catalog-based retailing operation, with no physical stores, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. DMSI then began operating under the Montgomery Ward branding and managed to get it up and running in three months. The new firm began operations in June 2004, selling essentially the same categories of products as the former brand, but as a new, smaller catalog.
The DMSI version of Montgomery Ward was not the same company as the original. The company did not honor obligations of the previous company, such as gift cards and items sold with a lifetime guarantee. David Milgrom, then president of the firm, said in an interview with the Associated Press: "We're rebuilding the brand, and we want to do it right."
In July 2008, DMSI announced it was on the auction block, with sale scheduled for the following month. Catalog retailer Swiss Colony purchased DMSI August 5, 2008. Swiss Colony—which changed its name to Colony Brands Inc. on June 1, 2010—announced it would keep the Montgomery Ward catalog division open. The website launched September 10, 2008, with new catalogs mailing in February 2009. A month before the catalog's launch, Swiss Colony President John Baumann told United Press International the retailer might also resurrect Montgomery Ward's Signature and Powr-Kraft store brands. To augment its vast selection, Montgomery Ward started promoting several exclusive new brands in July 2012 in its Early Fall 2012 catalog and on its website, including Devonshire Collection, Apothecarie Collection and Elysian Forest Collection furniture, Chef Tested kitchen products, Comfort Creek towels and sheets, Freshica shoes, Sleep Connection bedding, and Color Connection window treatments.
Wikipedia

Just the skeleton remains.

Will Sears meet a similar fate?

Business Insider
Sears says there's ‘substantial doubt’ it can stay in business
Hayley Peterson

Johnson's Russia List — “How did the intelligence community know that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee? CrowdStrike told them so. From the March 20 House Intelligence Committee hearing …”


The FBI and NSA admit that they never actually investigated the DNC hack. Excerpt from the hearing transcript.

Johnson's Russia List
“How did the intelligence community know that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee? CrowdStrike told them so. From the March 20 House Intelligence Committee hearing …”

See also

NEWSLINK: “Notes From the House Select Intelligence Hearing on Russia; In one of the most anticipated congressional hearings in years, James Comey and Mike Rogers took turns saying nothing” – Rolling Stone/Matt Taibbi

NEWSLINK: “Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion” – The Intercept/Glenn Greenwald

NEWSLINK: “The paranoid attempts to tie Trump to Russia are distracting US liberals from their real problems” – Quartz: James Carden

Michael Winship — Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow


This article is a bit of a rant, but it conveys the essential point that the AHCA as it stands will adversely affect a lot of the disgruntled electorate that put him in office and which he will need come 2020 if he decides to run for a second term.

Considering that the first month of the Trump administration was spent on delivering on campaign promises, this is a reversal of direction.

It is not clear yet what the final bill will look like, but if this an outline, it is an indication that either President Trump is reversing direction or is out of touch.

Add this to the disappointment about the promise of Russian détente instead of continued confrontation, based on recent appointments.

Consortium News
Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow
Michael Winship

John Helmer — Fiona Hill to Take Over President Trump’s Russia Desk


This lady makes the neocons look tame. She thinks the US is already in a hot war with Russia. And Donald Trump is supposed to be a foreign policy realist? Really?

President Trump has either caved to the deep state, or is completely out of touch. It's difficult to say which.
This month, a few days before her NSC staff appointment was announced, Hill gave an interview to a New York periodical in which she declared war on Russia. “I think we are in a hot war with Russia, not a cold war. But we have to be careful about the analogy. It’s a more complex world. There is no set-piece confrontation. This is no holds barred. The Cold War was a more disciplined competition, aside from the near blowups in Berlin and Cuba, where we walked back from the brink. The Kremlin now is willing to jump over the abyss. They want to play for the asymmetry. They see themselves in a period of hot kinetic war. Also, this is not just two-way superpower. There is China, the rising powers. I almost see it as like the great power competition from the time before the Second World War.”
Dances with Bears
Fiona Hill to Take Over President Trump’s Russia DeskJohn Helmer 

Johan Nylander — Chinese banks, HSBC caught up in huge money laundering scam

Several of China’s state-controlled banks, as well as HSBC’s Hong Kong branch, have allegedly processed hundreds of millions of US dollars from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the spy agency FSB.
Documents obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project show that at least US$20 billion was moved out of Russia between 2010 and 2014 in a vast criminal operation called “The Global Laundromat”....
Asia Times
Chinese banks, HSBC caught up in huge money laundering scam
Johan Nylander

Alex Tabarro — LBRY Saves 20,000 Courses from the ADA

Those free online course materials may be gone from the University of California, Berkeley, courtesy of a U.S. Deparment of Justice interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related statutes, but they’re not gone from the Internet: “20,000 Worldclass University Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them” [LBRY] Won’t that infringe on a lot of copyrights? The site claims not: “The vast majority of the lectures are licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows attributed, non-commercial redistribution.” Earlier coverage here, here, here, and here.
As someone put it, it looks as if the internet recognizes ADA litigation as damage and routes around it.
Marginal Revolution
LBRY Saves 20,000 Courses from the ADA
Alex Tabarrok | Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center and Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a research fellow with the Mercatus Center

Why Trump will have to trash the dollar to create jobs

If Donald Trump really wants to Make America Great Again, he’s going to have to Make the Dollar Weak Again first.
So argued hedge fund manager Mathew Klody of MCN Capital Management at this week’s Grant’s investment conference in New York.
He made an intriguing case.
If Klody’s right, Trump may just be blowing smoke when he talks about tariffs and border-adjustment taxes.
And, most importantly, if Klody is right, we should also buy foreign currencies, especially those issued by emerging markets. Sooner or later, the president will need to drive down the dollar, and for those based in the U.S. that will drive up foreign currencies.
Market Watch — Opinion
Why Trump will have to trash the dollar to create jobs
Brett Arends, columnist

Dirk Ehnts — J. S. Mill (1848) on tax-driven money

Via Matt Forstater (link), I have found some paragraphs by J. S. Mill on tax-driven money (see below). It is quite amazing that this knowledge got lost in the 21st century, with all that technology available.
econoblog 101
J. S. Mill (1848) on tax-driven money
Dirk Ehnts | Lecturer at Bard College Berlin