This House Was 3D-Printed In Under 24 Hours At A Cost Of Just $10,000

While 3D-printing may have been faded away in recent years from the spotlight of core “disruptive” technologies, that may soon change again after a company managed to 3D-print an entire house in just 24 hours. Located in Russia, the following 400-square-foot home, or 37 square meters, was built in just a day, at a cost of slightly over $10,000.

As profiled in the Telegraph, the company Apis Cor, 3D-printing specialists based in Russia and San Francisco, built the house using a mobile printer on-site. According to the company, the walls of the building were printed and painted in just 24 hours.

What makes Apis’ process unique is that while 3D-printing a home usually involves creating the parts off-site and constructing the building later, Apis Cor uses a mobile printer to print their apartments on-site. As profiled here, in 2015 the world’s first 3D-printed apartment building was constructed in China, with the structures printed off-site.

However, the Apis process is unique in that it eliminates the need to transfer the printed blocks to the contstruction site.

“Printing of self-bearing walls, partitions and building envelope were done in less than a day: pure machine time of printing amounted to 24 hours,” the company said.

The main components of the house, including the walls, partitions and building envelope are printed solely with a concrete mixture. Once the house has been completed, the printer is removed with a crane-manipulator and the roof is then added, followed by the interior fixtures and furnishings, as is a layer of paint to the exterior of the house.

The total construction cost of the house: $10,134.

The initial house consists of a hallway, bathroom, living room and kitchen and is located in one of Apis Cor’s facilities in Russia. The company has claimed that the house can last up to 175 years.

 

Nikita Chen-yun-tai, the inventor of the mobile printer and founder of Apis Cor, explained his desire is “to automate everything”.

“When I first thought about creating my machine the world has already knew about the construction 3D printing,” he explained. “But all printers created before shared one thing in common – they were portal type. I am sure that such a design doesn’t have a future due to its bulkiness. So I took care of this limitation and decided to upgrade a construction crane design.”

He adds: “We want to help people around the world to improve their living conditions. That’s why the construction process needs to become fast, efficient and high-quality as well. For this to happen we need to delegate all the hard work to smart machines.”

Apis Cor has claimed to be the first company to have developed a 3D printer than can print whole buildings on-site.

For now the technology is in its infancy, however in a few years, the deflationary pressures unleashed by Apis-Cor and its competitors could results in a huge deflationary wave across the construction space, and would mean that a house that recently cost in the hundreds of thousands, or millions, could be built for a fraction of the cost, providing cheap, accessible housing to millions, perhaps in the process revolutionizing and upending the multi trillion-dollar mortgage business that is the bedrock of the US banking industry.

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Shale whacks struggling Brent

For a bunch of crude oils that collectively produce about a million barrels per day, the Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk streams that collectively form …The post Shale whacks struggling Brent appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Trump Asks If It’s Legal For Obama To Wiretap Him… Here’s The Answer

Via Rachel Stockman of LawNewz.com,

If you woke up Saturday morning scratching your head as to what the heck President Donald Trump was talking about when he tweeted that Obama had his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before his victory, you are not alone.

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

 So what happened? 

The best that we can tell, Trump is referring to a Breitbart article which was published Friday night that makes reference to attempts by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The interesting thing is that this isn’t a new development. In fact, several outlets including Mother JonesThe Guardian, The National Review, and Heat Street have been reporting on this alleged activity over the last couple of months.

Here is the best summary we could find of the Obama administration’s efforts to wiretap Trump associates. From a January 11, 2017 Guardian article:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation

Trump then questions in a Tweet on Saturday morning if this is legal and even makes analogies to Nixon/Watergate.

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

 

So is it legal?

While the analogies to Watergate are totally misplaced (as that involved an illegal break-in), the underlying questions about the legality of these wiretaps are indeed important ones. So far, there is no indication that the Obama administration acted “illegally” if they did indeed intercept communications from Trump Tower.

“The problem with the President’s question is that the standards for FISA are so low and easily satisfied (with little judicial review) that it is difficult to establish any illegality under the law,” wrote George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley.

The FISA procedures were put in place in the aftermath of the Nixon-era scandals. To obtain a FISA warrant, the government needs to demonstrate probable cause that the “target of the surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.” On top of that, the agents must prove that the main purpose of the surveillance is to obtain “foreign intelligence information.”

“It is true that, if the target is a ‘U.S. person’ there must be probable cause to believe that the U.S. person’s activities may involve espionage or other similar conduct in violation of the criminal statutes of the United States. However, citizens can be collateral to the primary target under FISA,” Turley explained.

So bottom line: if the Obama administration intelligence agents followed the proper protocols, had evidence, got approved by Main Justice, and presented their application to a FISA judge, and were approved, it is likely that any wiretapping was legal under U.S. law.

“Well, putting aside there is no indication Trump himself was the target of the FISA warrant (it appears to have been aimed at four of his associates), yes, it CAN be legally done,” Bradley Moss, an attorney and national security expert explained to LawNewz.com.

Would President Obama have to sign off on this FISA warrant as Trump implies?

No, not necessarily. Under the law, the warrant application needs to be signed off by the Attorney General. So based on the timing of these applications if the reports are true, it is likely that Loretta Lynch knew about them and approved them.

“The President can technically request the warrant but it still has to go through the process. Obama couldn’t authorize it on his own. The AG still has to sign off and the FISA judge still has to authorize the warrant,” Moss explained.

Trump is right that if the warrant involved four of his aides, some of his communications may have been intercepted too, and perhaps what happened warrants further investigation.

“If somehow several people in DOJ all got together and were asked to fabricate evidence to present to the FISA judge that would be illegal,” Moss explained. “But so far that is not what we are hearing happened.”

Turley further adds, “There is provisions stating that a U.S. person cannot be surveilled ‘solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.’ Thus, if Trump aides were targeted for political reasons, the surveillance would be unlawful even under the dubious protections of FISA.”

This matter is probably deserving of further investigation, but so far, there is no indication of anything illegal.

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China Vows To Refrain From “Mega Economic Stimulus” As ‘Two Sessions’ Begins

The US has Jeff Sessions, but China is about to have “two sessions”.

Starting Sunday is a two-week period of heightened political discourse, if not exactly debate, among the top echelons of China’s Politburo, also known as China’s “two sessions.”

The China People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) starts on March 3 and will conclude on the 13th. The National People’s Congress (NPC) will start on March 5 and last until the 16th. On March 5, Premier Li Keqiang will announce 2017 economic targets (e.g., GDP growth and CPI) and policy measures including fiscal and monetary policy (e.g., on-budget deficit, M2 and TSF) in the morning session of NPC. A number of senior economic officials, including Premier Li, will also hold press conferences during the meetings to provide further details/clarifications on policies in major economic fronts.

In previewing what to expect from the “two sessions”, this week Xinhua reported that China will “not flood the economy with government investment as it pursues more stable, healthy economic growth,” an official with the top economic planner said Wednesday. “Instead, it will focus on supply-side reform for a modest expansion of aggregate demand,” said Li Pumin, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a news conference.

Li made the remarks when answering a question on whether China would roll out a major stimulus plan like in 2008.

“Stimulus plans are used to prop up weak demand with government investment under special circumstances,” he said, adding it was different from the scale of fixed-asset investment (FAI). It was recently reported that 23 provincial-level regions had announced FAI volume totaling some 45 trillion yuan (about 6.54 trillion U.S. dollars) for 2017, stoking concern of a gigantic stimulus plan.

Li dismissed the worries by saying FAI volume is the aggregate rather than newly-added investment and includes investment from the public and private sector. The FAI volume of 32 provincial-level regions rose 7.9 percent year on year to 60.65 trillion yuan in 2016 and is likely to hit 65 trillion yuan, Li said.

After China’s economy entered a “new normal” stage, the major difficulties were a by-product of supply rather than demand, he said. The addition of excessive production capacity and redundant projects will be forestalled, and more efforts will be made to meet demand with effective supply, he added.

The overarching theme over the past few years has been China’s attempt to transition its export- and investment-driven growth model into one that draws strength from consumption, innovation and the service sector. Consumption contributed 64.6 percent to China’s GDP growth in 2016, up 4.9 percentage points from 2015, official data showed.

In the process, however, China has also been quietly fading out some of its legacy industries, such as coal, where as reported on Wednesday, Beijing warned it would have to “reallocate” some 500,000 mostly coal and steel workers (to start) into growth industries, such as ridesharing and taxicabs.

“This year we will continue to cut capacity in coal and steel,” Yin Weimin, the head of China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told reporters. “We will need to reallocate jobs to 500,000 workers,” he said, including assigning workers different jobs within the same or a different company, early retirement or encouraging them to become entrepreneurs.

 

Weimin added that China will introduce a policy this year to encourage the development of new industries, for example internet-related industries, that will create new jobs, he said. In 2016, he said that China reallocated jobs to 726,000 coal and steel workers “without any major problems”, adding that China’s overall employment outlook in 2017 is expected to remain relatively stable, despite the government facing immense pressure to create jobs.

Meanwhile, China has decided to adopt a “prudent and neutral” monetary policy this year to keep liquidity at an appropriate level and avoid large injections. Official data released Wednesday showed that China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index expanded for the seventh month in a row to hit 51.6 percent in February, further evidence that the world’s second largest economy is stabilizing amid the uncertain global outlook.

In this context, the following Goldlman analysis puts in context the past two years of Chinese economic growth and momentum  and what has driven them. The chart below plots the decomposition of moves in China’s 5-year swap rates into the two market-implied macro drivers. The results provide an intuitive qualitative assessment of market moves since mid-2015.

August 2015 to January 2016 – deteriorating growth expectations: From mid-2015 through the beginning of 2016, as policymakers began another round of RMB reform, growth expectations deteriorated sharply. Falling growth expectations weighed on interest rates, although the downward pressures were partially offset by an incremental hawkish shift in the markets’ expectation for monetary policy, perhaps given the backdrop of the substantial capital outflows that followed the RMB depreciation episodes in August 2015 and early January 2016.

February to Oct 2016 – improving growth expectations, easier policy: From late January 2016, a broad improvement in growth expectations on the back of a meaningful quasi-fiscal credit impulse pushed towards higher swap rates. However, from the perspective of the interest rate markets, the improving growth expectations were more or less offset by expectations for easier policy, leaving swap rates broadly unchanged.

Since Oct 2016 – tighter policy expectations, continuing improvement in growth expectations: Since October 2016 swap rates have moved higher by over 100bp. Our decomposition suggests that over two-thirds of the increase in swap rates through mid-December 2016 was related to a more hawkish shift in markets’ perception of monetary policy. The more hawkish shift in policy expectations also weighed on equities through the end of the year, although this has reversed recently as market growth expectations have continued to improve steadily.

Hawkish shift in PBoC policy perceptions key driver of higher swap rates since October
Contribution of growth and policy shocks to move in China 5-year swap rates

Perhaps more than anything, the above implies that, as Deutsche and UBS both warned recently, the period of Chinese upside momentum and credit-impulse contribution to global growth is about to end. For those who missed it, here is what UBS said:

“Our global credit impulse (covering 77% of global GDP) has suddenly collapsed” and explains that “as the chart below shows the ‘global’ credit impulse over the last 18 months is essentially mainly China (the green shaded bit), which even now is still creating new credit at an annualized rate of around 30pp of (Chinese) GDP. But the credit impulse is the ‘change in the change’ in credit and even the Chinese banks could not sustain the recent extraordinary pace of credit acceleration. As a result: whereas back in Jan ’16 the global credit impulse was positive to the tune of 3.8% of global GDP (of which China comprised 3.5% of global GDP) it has now fallen back to -0.1% of global GDP (China’s contribution is -0.3% of global GDP).

 

So while it may seem rather distant and boring compared to the daily scandals emerging daily from the realm of US politics, the fate of global economic growth in the near-term will be determined in Beijing over the next 2 weeks. Our advice is to drown out the noise as much as possible, and follow developments in China closely. 

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A Lawmaker Is Trying To Ban Howard Zinn Literature From Public Schools

Via Nick Bernabe of TheAntiMedia.org,

A Republican Arkansas lawmaker has introduced legislation to ban the works of the late historian, activist, and writer Howard Zinn from publicly funded schools.

The bill from Rep. Kim Hendren, just noted by the Arkansas Times, was introduced on Thursday and referred to the House Committee on Education.

It states (pdf) that any “public school district or an open-enrollment public charter school shall not include in its curriculum or course materials for a class or program of study any book or other material” authored by Zinn from 1959 until 2010, the year in which he died.

Here is the summary bill..

And it may interest some that Hendren’s other Bills include:

HB1036 – TO PROHIBIT THE USE BY A STUDENT OF A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL; AND TO ESTABLISH A SECURE, DESIGNATED AREA WITHIN A SCHOOL WHERE A STUDENT WILL DEPOSIT HIS OR HER PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICE DURING THE SCHOOL DAY.

HB1364 – TO ESTABLISH THE PUBLIC POLICY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS ON THE USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES.

The Zinn Education Project, which aims to “to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula,” noted Thursday that educators in the state may have a very different take from Hendren: “To date, there are more than 250 teachers in Arkansas who have signed up to access people’s history lessons from the Zinn Education Project website.”

The project is also offering a free copy of Zinn’s seminal A People’s History of the United States to any Arkansas teacher who requests it:

At least one high school class in northern Arkansas is making its opposition to the legislation clear already:

@ZinnEdProject This AR APUSH class doesn’t approve of the proposed ban on Zinn and wants its voice heard. pic.twitter.com/bVQuIERNP4

— Dr. Cissy Dowdy (@cisdowdy) March 3, 2017

Publisher Haymarket Books, meanwhile, tweeted in response to the news that people should read more of Zinn’s works.

Read more Howard Zinn! https://t.co/rWHPyQiNlf

— Haymarket Books (@haymarketbooks) March 3, 2017

It’s not first time in recent history the works of the legendary Zinn have been the target of suppression.

Emails unearthed by the Associated Press in 2013, for example, revealed that former Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels sought to ban Zinn’s works from that state’s classrooms, and the Tucson, Arizona school district in 2012 banned  A People’s History from all classrooms.

Given the response in Indiana to the revelations of Daniel’s censorship attempt, however, Hendren may also find his own Zinn-banning efforts backfire.

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Ecuador’s Presidential Front-Runner: “We Will Ask Assange To Leave Our Embassy”

It appears President Correa’s “intention to safeguard [Assange’s] life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place,” is under threat as The Miami Herald reports that Guillermo Lasso, the front-runner in Ecuador’s presidential election, says he intends to evict Assange from that country’s London embassy if he wins the April 2 runoff against ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno.

“We will ask Mr. Assange, very politely, to leave our embassy, in absolute compliance with international conventions and protocols,” Lasso said in an email exchange with the Miami Herald.

Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s cramped London embassy in 2012 fighting extradition to Sweden where he is wanted on sexual misconduct allegations. Assange and his legal team fear that the Swedish charges are a ploy to have him extradited to the United States.

Lasso also noted that Assange had volunteered to leave the embassy if Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year-sentence for giving WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of secret and confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, were to be pardoned. On his way out of office, President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, and she will be released May 17. But Assange argued that a commutation wasn’t a pardon and hunkered down at the embassy.

The ruling party’s Moreno has said he would continue Correa’s policy of letting Assange stay at the embassy.

As a reminder, in October 2016, Ecuador cut Assange’s internet access due to his publication of a “wealth of documents impacting the U.S. election.” Despite what seems to be the Ecuadorian government caving to political pressure from the Obama administration, the statement takes special caution to reassure everyone that the decision was in response to “sovereign decisions alone” and that Ecuador “does not yield to pressure from other states”….sure, though we do wonder how many drafts John Kerry’s staffers went through at the State Department before finally approving these comments for dissemination.

Here are some key excerpts from the Ecuadorian statement:

“In recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the U.S. election campaign.  This decision was taken exclusively by that organization.”

 

“The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.”

 

“Accordingly, Ecuador has exercised its sovereign right to temporarily restrict access to some of its private communications network within its Embassy in the United Kingdom.  This temporary restriction does not prevent the WikiLeaks organization from carrying out it journalistic activities.”

 

“Ecuador, in accordance with its tradition of defending human rights and protecting victims for political persecution, reaffirms the asylum granted to Julian Assange and reiterates its intention to safeguard his life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place.”

 

“Ecuador’s foreign policy responds to sovereign decisions alone and does not yield to pressure from other states.”

Probably just a coincidence? Is the deep state still pulling the strings? One wonders just what Wikileaks may have up its sleeve next… especially as the Obama links to Trump White House leaks and Trump Tower surveillance grow stronger.

Finally, while it may be nothing, we note that Ecuador transferred half its gold to Goldman Sachs in exchange for “liquidity” in June 2014 – that ‘swap’ is due to expire in June 2017…

Ecuador agreed to transfer more than half its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for three years as the government seeks to bolster liquidity.

 

The central bank said it will send 466,000 ounces of gold to Goldman Sachs, worth about $580 million at current prices, and get the same amount back three years from now. In return, Ecuador will get “instruments of high security and liquidity” and expects to earn a profit of $16 million to $20 million over the term of the accord.

 

“Gold that was not generating any returns in vaults, causing storage costs, now becomes a productive asset that will generate profits,” the central bank said in the statement. “These interventions in the gold market represent the beginning of a new and permanent strategy of active participation by the bank, through purchases, sales and financial operations, that will contribute to the creation of new financial investment opportunities.”

Probably nothing, nevertheless it’s clear Assange – rightfully so – is getting increasingly frustrated with his status (and faces more enemies). Remember, Assange’s uncharacteristically emotional remarks last year with Hannity:

“I have been detained illegally, without charge for six years, without sunlight, lots of spies everywhere. It’s tough… but that’s the mission I set myself on. I understand the kind of game that’s being played – big powerful actors will try and take revenge…it’s a different thing for my family – I have young children, under 10 years old, they didn’t sign up for that… and I think that is fundamentally unjust… my family is innocent, they didn’t sign up for that fight.

There is however, perhaps a modest silver lining, as Lasso latter said “we vow to take all the steps necessary so that another embassy will take him in and protect his rights.”

However, as the Miami Herald notes, even if another government were willing to provide Assange shelter, it’s unclear how he would be transferred. In the five years since he’s been holed up in the embassy, the Rafael Correa administration hasn’t been able to figure out how to move him to Ecuador, amid heavy police scrutiny in London.

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Is Obama the First U.S. President Ever to Try to Topple His Successor?

This post won’t debate whether Trump or Obama are good or bad guys.  It will simply ask a historical question …

The Daily Mail claims:

Barack Obama is turning his new home in the posh Kalorama section of the nation’s capital – just two miles away from the White House – into the nerve center of the mounting insurgency against his successor, President Donald J. Trump.

 

Obama’s goal, according to a close family friend, is to oust Trump from the presidency either by forcing his resignation or through his impeachment.

And Obama is being aided in his political crusade by his longtime consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, who has moved into the 8,200-square-foot, $5.3-million Kaloroma mansion with  the former president and Michelle Obama, long time best friends.

 

***

 

According to the family source, Obama was at first reluctant to assume the role of leader of the opposition.

 

‘No longer the most powerful man in the world, he was just observing Trump and not liking what he saw,’ said the source.

‘He was weary and burned out after eight years in office. But Valerie convinced him that he didn’t have any choice if he wanted to save his legacy. And, as usual, he bowed to Valerie’s political wisdom and advice.’

 

***

 

‘He had hoped to write his memoirs, golf to his heart’s content. and bask in the glory of his eight years in power and the progressive achievements he brought about. Instead, he is going to be leading the fight and strategy to topple Trump.’ says the insider.

 

If true, would this be the first time in U.S. history that a former president has tried to topple his successor?

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Could Artificial Earthquakes Trigger Disaster? Oklahoma’s Risk “Now Equal To That Of San Francisco”

Via Mac Slavo of SHTFPlan.com,
While Oklahoma has had a handful of notable earthquakes over the past century, it was essentially never an earthquake state.
And rightfully so, given that the USGS and other officials, up until quite recently, ranked Okla…

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Obama Advisor Rhodes Is Wrong: The President Can Order A Wiretap, And Why Trump May Have The Last Laugh

Following Trump’s stunning allegation that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower in October of 2016, prior to the presidential election, which may or may not have been sourced from a Breitbart story, numerous Democrats and media pundits have come out with scathing accusations that Trump is either mentally disturbed, or simply has no idea what he is talking about.

The best example of this came from Ben Rhodes, a former senior adviser to President Obama in his role as deputy National Security Advisor, who slammed Trump’s accusation, insisting that “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” He also said “only a liar” could make the case, as Trump suggested, that Obama wire tapped Trump Tower ahead of the election.

No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. https://t.co/lEVscjkzSw

— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) March 4, 2017

It would appear, however, that Rhodes is wrong, especially as pertains to matters of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, and its associated FISA court, under which the alleged wiretap of Donald Trump would have been granted, as it pertained specifically to Trump’s alleged illicit interactions with Russian entities.

In Chapter 36 of Title 50 of the US Code *War and National Defense”, Subchapter 1, Section 1802, we read the following:

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—

(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;

(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and

(C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801(h) of this title; and
if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

While (B) seems to contradict the underlying permissive nature of Section 1802 as it involves a United States person, what the Snowden affair has demonstrated all too clearly, is how frequently the NSA and FISA court would make US citizens collateral damage. To be sure, many pointed out the fact that Fox News correspondent James Rosen was notoriously wiretapped in 2013 when the DOJ was investigating government leaks. The Associated Press was also infamously wiretapped in relation to the same investigation.

As pertains to Trump, the Guardian reported as much in early January, when news of the alleged anti-Trump dossier by former UK spy Chris Steele broke in January:

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

Furthermore, while most Democrats – not to mention former president Obama himself – have been harshly critical of Trump’s comments, some such as former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau was quite clear in his warning to reporters that Obama did not say there was no wiretapping, effectively confirming it:

I’d be careful about reporting that Obama said there was no wiretapping. Statement just said that neither he nor the WH ordered it.

— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 4, 2017

Favreau also urged his twitter followers to read a thread that explicitly suggested the prior existence of FISA-endorsed wiretaps:

Ok you definitely need to read this thread https://t.co/W7CkXjV40f

— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 4, 2017

Additionally, Philip Rucker, the WaPo’s White House bureau chief echoed Favreau’s caveat, namely that the Obama spokesman’s statement does not deny the existence of wiretaps on Trump Tower, only that Obama himself and the Obama White House did not approve them if they did exist.

The Obama statement does not say there was no federal wire tapping of Trump Tower. It only says Obama and White House didn’t order it.

— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 4, 2017

Further implying the existence of such a wiretap was David Axelrod, who tweeted today that that such a wiretap could exist but would have “been OK’ed only for a a reason.”

If there were the wiretap @realDonaldTrump loudly alleges, such an extraordinary warrant would only have been OKed by a court for a reason.

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) March 4, 2017

Yet ironically, it was none other than the Trump administration which just earlier this week announced it supports the renewal of spy law which incorporates the FISA court, without reforms: “the Trump administration does not want to reform an internet surveillance law to address privacy concerns, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday, saying it is needed to protect national security. The announcement could put President Donald Trump on a collision course with Congress, where some Republicans and Democrats have advocated curtailing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, parts of which are due to expire at the end of the year.”

“We support the clean reauthorization and the administration believes it’s necessary to protect the security of the nation,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

 

The FISA law has been criticized by privacy and civil liberties advocates as allowing broad, intrusive spying. It gained renewed attention following the 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the agency carried out widespread monitoring of emails and other electronic communications.

In any event, the bottom line here appears to be that with his tweet, Trump has opened a can of worms with two possible outcomes: either the wiretaps exist as Trump has suggested, and the president will use them to attack both the Obama administration and the media for political overreach; or, there were no wiretaps, which as Matthew Boyle writes, would suggest the previous administration had no reason to suspect Trump colluded with a foreign government.

Senator Ben Sasse said as much in his statement issued earlier today:

The President today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information. If there were wiretaps of then-candidate Trump’s organization or campaign, then it was either with FISA Court authorization or without such authorization. If without, the President should explain what sort of wiretap it was and how he knows this. It is possible that he was illegally tapped. On the other hand, if it was with a legal FISA Court order, then an application for surveillance exists that the Court found credible.

But what is perhaps most important, is that we may know soon enough. As the NYT reported on Saturday afternoon, a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what the official described as a document issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing surveillance of Mr. Trump and his associates.

If and when such a document is made public – assuming it exists of course – it would be Trump, once again, that gets the last laugh.

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This Is The Only Chart Americans Should Be Worrying About Right Now

In 2015, President Obama and Republican congressional leaders agreed to suspend the federal debt ceiling until March 15, 2017. After that date – less then two weeks from now – the Treasury will surpass its cumulative $20 trillion borrowing authority.

And while the stock market (and VIX) signal utter calm, signs of stress are very clear in America’s money markets. Swap spreads are suggesting traders are getting nervous that any hiccup in efforts to remove the burden could trigger a shortage on short-term government securities.

And even more notably, investors are willing to pay more for bills maturing in four weeks instead of five.

That’s because they don’t want to be caught empty handed while the Treasury slows debt sales to push its cash balance lower as part of the 2015 pact to suspend the debt ceiling. The spread between the March 9 and March 16 bills may get a “a little more noticeable” as Treasury cuts issuance and provides a “clearer sense of how long bill supply is going to be lower than normal” going into the March 15 deadline, Jefferies economist Thomas Simons said in a phone interview.

So, with two weeks left until the debt ceiling suspension expires, Treasury’s cash balance plummeted to $109 billion this week as of Thursday… making this the most important chart in the world right now…

Once it hits zero, as FiscalTimes notes, newly ensconced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to order “emergency measures” to effectively buy more time for the government to pay its creditors and cover revenue shortfalls to keep the government operating. The stakes couldn’t be higher: Failure to raise the debt ceiling would do irreversible damage to the U.S. credit rating, trigger an uproar in U.S. and global markets, drive up the future cost of borrowing, postpone Social Security payments and tax returns, and force layoffs of non-essential government workers.

Deutsche Bank points out, there was a large withdrawal of cash last week as the IRS began sending out tax refunds. Despite a change of law last year which delays the refunds for early filers, the pace of refunds are similar to previous years. Between now and March 15, the Treasury can expect roughly another $40 billion of cash drawdown from refund activities. The Treasury cut its 4-week bill auction again this week to $18 billion, which is down from $35 billion last week and $45 billion two weeks ago. It also cut the 3-month and 6-month bill auctions by $4 billion each for next week. In the near term, the driver of bill supply is still the debt ceiling. But later in the year, the Fed’s balance sheet policy will have a major influence on supply outlook. If the debt ceiling is raised by late summer, a September Fed balance sheet unwind could potentially bring a flood of supply to the market and drastically cheapen the front end.

Not everyone is ignoring the potential risks ahead, David Stockman dropped this reality bomb last week:

“I think what people are missing is this date, March 15th 2017.  That’s the day that this debt ceiling holiday that Obama and Boehner put together right before the last election in October of 2015.  That holiday expires.  The debt ceiling will freeze in at $20 trillion.  It will then be law.  It will be a hard stop.  The Treasury will have roughly $200 billion in cash.  We are burning cash at a $75 billion a month rate.  By summer, they will be out of cash. 

 

Then we will be in the mother of all debt ceiling crises.  Everything will grind to a halt.  I think we will have a government shutdown.  There will not be Obama Care repeal and replace.  There will be no tax cut.  There will be no infrastructure stimulus.  There will be just one giant fiscal bloodbath over a debt ceiling that has to be increased and no one wants to vote for.”

Stockman predicts very positive price moves for gold and silver as a result of the coming budget calamity.

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