The Ban Treaty ignores global security climate warns Wood

Author: 
Greg Wilcox
Fri, 2017-09-15 03:00
ID: 
1505420542332170200

LONDON: The US has reiterated its opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, saying it would only make the world more dangerous at a time when it is facing a “very serious international security climate.”
The deal, known as the ‘Ban Treaty’, was adopted by 122 UN member states in July, and if at least 50 states sign it on Sept. 20, it will enter into legal force.
Robert Wood, the US Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament based in Geneva, said if that happens it would be a grave error, even though it would not be mandatory for those who do not sign it.
“You cannot divorce nuclear disarmament from the prevailing security environment,” Wood told Arab News in a phone interview from Geneva.
“The security environment today is a very, very serious one with what Russia is doing, with what China is doing in the South China Sea and, of course, we cannot forget the gentleman in Pyongyang who is trying to destabilize the Korean peninsula with threats of using nuclear weapons.”
The recent saber-rattling by North Korea continued on Thursday when the pariah state threatened to sink Japan and said the US should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog.”
For some that only adds to the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons, for the US, though, the current crisis underlines why now is not the time to talk about disarmament.
“North Korea is the greatest nuclear challenge that the world faces and what the Ban Treaty is proposing is for nuclear weapons states to give up their nuclear weapons and for a number of our allies to stop depending on the nuclear umbrella for their security.
“The question I ask is that if the nuclear weapons states were to disarm tomorrow, is that something that’s going to be good for security when you have someone like Kim Jong-un, who is building up his nuclear weapons capabilities and is a huge danger to the planet?
“This is not a time to talk about nuclear disarmament.”
Kim Jong-un’s recent rhetoric has evoked memories of the Cold War, when nations lived in permanent fear of nuclear conflict.
Still, there are clear differences between now and then, according to Wood.
“I hesitate to compare periods, but I think when you look back to the 1950s and 1960s – the Soviet Union and its leadership at that time were certainly not irrational.
“What we’re dealing with today is a very irrational actor, in my view, a very dangerous one and this is a very huge threat.”
He rejected the notion that the current White House administration could also be accused of pursuing irrational foreign policy.
“Trying to compare Kim Jong-un and that regime with the President of the United States is an absolutely false comparison, it’s ridiculous,” he said.
“The President has been trying to communicate the concerns we have about North Korea in a way the North Korean leader understands. We are a responsible actor, we are a democracy and these people who try to make those comparisons are farcical in my view.”
In the short term Wood said the only way to end the crisis was through diplomacy.
“We need to exhaust all of the diplomatic options we have with North Korea. The existing sanctions we have on the books need to be fully enforced.”

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Nuclear deal: US may declare Iran non-compliant next month
China says no radiation harm from N. Korea nuclear test
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fetes nuclear scientists, holds celebration bash

Major shake-up for Australian media

Author: 
AFP
Fri, 2017-09-15 03:00
ID: 
1505420542352170500

SYDNEY: Controversial changes to Australia’s media laws passed the upper house Thursday, paving the way for a significant concentration of ownership, in a move welcomed by the industry.
Under legislation introduced in the 1980s to protect diversity, media companies are blocked from owning television, radio and newspaper assets in the same city, while metropolitan and regional broadcasters are barred from merging.
Major players in the market have long pressed for change, arguing the rules are outdated and do not account for digital media platforms and new publishers like Google and Facebook and video streaming giants such as Netflix.
“These changes bring Australia’s outdated media laws into the 21st century,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement late Thursday after the upper house Senate passed the bill.
“They now finally recognize the enormous disruption that has been caused by the Internet. Australian media companies will now be better placed to compete with the big online media companies from overseas.”
Canberra unveiled plans for a revamp 18 months ago and a final deal was struck in the Senate, where the government needs the support of independents, including the right-wing One Nation party, to pass new laws.
The legislation is expected to be passed by the lower House of Representatives, where the government has a one-seat majority, when parliament resumes in mid-October.
Seven West Media — which owns broadcaster Channel Seven, magazines and The West Australian newspaper — welcomed the reforms, saying they would provide a “better future for local news and Australian stories.”
“These historic changes will give Australian media companies a real opportunity to compete with unregulated global players,” Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes said in a statement to national broadcaster ABC.
Under the changes, a company would be allowed to own a TV station, newspaper and radio station in a single market.
The “reach rule,” which prevented a single TV broadcaster from reaching more than 75 percent of the population, would be repealed.
The opposition Labor party and the Greens were against the “two out of three” rule being scrapped, arguing it will lead to a higher concentration of media ownership, notably in the hands of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
To reach agreement with the independents, the government had to make concessions, including establishing a Aus$60.4 million ($48 million) fund for regional and small publishers and more training for journalists.
New laws would also be introduced later this year to set up a public register of foreign-owned media assets and increase the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s focus on regional and rural issues.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, whose support was crucial, earlier said he had also secured a deal for an inquiry into the impact of platforms like Google and Facebook, which he said were making billions in advertising revenue in Australia, but paying little tax.
“It will be a world-first inquiry into the power of Google and Facebook and other social media platforms, the impact on the media, issues of copyright and market domination, how do we level the playing field for media organizations?,” said Xenophon.
No details about the inquiry were released by the government.
Like other international media organizations, those in Australia have suffered from declining advertising revenues and circulation, with many slashing staff levels and costs.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Evidence of one of world’s rarest birds found in Australia
Australian researchers say they can stop melanoma spreading
’How-to guide’ to protect Australians from vehicle attacks

Grenfell Tower fire inquiry opens with minute’s silence

Author: 
AFP
Fri, 2017-09-15 03:00
ID: 
1505420542362170800

LONDON: An inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire disaster opened on Thursday with a minute’s silence to remember victims, as survivors demanded answers over the west London apartment block blaze that killed at least 80 people.
The inquiry “can and will provide answers to the pressing questions of how a disaster of this kind could occur in 21st century London,” said Martin Moore-Bick, the retired judge heading up the probe.
Moore-Bick spoke of his “dismay and sadness” at the June 14 blaze and paid tribute to the “fortitude and resilience” of the local community, including child survivors who attended school the following day.
But he turned down a request from some survivors for a member of the local community to be appointed to his investigating team, saying that this would “risk undermining my impartiality.”
Residents had complained for years about fire safety in the 24-story social housing tower and have voiced anger at delays in assistance following the blaze as well as skepticism about whether the inquiry can help.
Resentment at the official response was particularly acute as Kensington and Chelsea, the borough where the tower is located, is the richest area of Britain.
Marcia Haynes, who was watching a live screening of the inquiry at Notting Hill Methodist Church near the charred remains of Grenfell Tower, told AFP she did “not expect anything” from the investigation.
Haynes, whose daughter and grandson lived opposite the tower and have been evacuated, wore a t-shirt with the word “MURDERERS” on a red background.
“This is the richest borough in London and look at the poverty,” she said, explaining that her loved ones were still living in temporary accommodation.
“My grandson is traumatized… He saw babies being thrown from the tower. He cannot sleep,” she said.
Prime Minister Theresa May has asked Moore-Bick to investigate the causes of the fire and whether anything could have been done to prevent it.
Moore-Bick has said he expects to publish an interim report by the end of March or the beginning of April.
Key questions include whether a recent renovation by the local authority, in particular the cladding put on the building to improve its insulation and appearance, had turned the high-rise into a death trap.
National building and fire regulations will come under scrutiny, after tests on similar cladding installed elsewhere in the country found it was highly flammable.
The tower still looms over west London, while the gruesome task of identifying the remains of the victims progresses slowly.
A total of 58 victims have been identified, including a two-year-old boy, Jeremiah Deen, who was found with the body of his mother Zainab, 32, on the 14th floor.
A baby, Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital on the day of the fire, has also been recorded as a victim.

For those who survived, many of them having escaped by walking over bodies piled on the single staircase, the memory of the inferno persists.
At least 600 people are receiving counseling over the fire, including 100 children and some of the firefighters who responded to the blaze.
Almost 200 households need new homes following the fire, but only two have moved into new permanent accommodation.
Residents — many of them immigrants and most living on low incomes — accuse the local council of failing to heed their concerns about fire safety in the block, which did not have a central sprinkler system.
There was anger when the terms of reference for the inquiry were announced, making clear that wider issues of how social housing is maintained would not be included.
“Our main concern is that the victims and the residents, and the people that lived in the surrounding blocks, is that their concerns are listened to,” Nancy Collins, a lawyer for some of the survivors, told BBC television.
“And that those concerns are put at the very heart of the inquiry process. It remains to be seen whether or not that will be achieved.”

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Gulf high-rise hotel owners ‘must learn from Grenfell blaze’
Grenfell highlights Gulf cladding time bomb
Grenfell tragedy’s legal fallout extends to US

Trump visits hurricane-hit Florida

Author: 
Reuters
Fri, 2017-09-15 03:00
ID: 
1505420542192169600

HOLLYWOOD, Fla: US President Donald Trump visits hurricane-ravaged Florida on Thursday where police are probing the deaths of eight patients inside a nursing home as Hurricane Irma left millions in the state without power.
Police in Hollywood, north of Miami, opened a criminal investigation on Wednesday after finding three dead patients at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hill, a facility that had been operating with little or no air conditioning.
Four more patients died at or en route to hospital and a fifth was later identified as having died the night before, officials said.
The death toll from Irma stood at 81, with several hard-hit Caribbean islands accounting for more than half the fatalities, and officials continued to assess damage inflicted by the second major hurricane to strike the US mainland this year.
Trump will visit Fort Myers in southwest Florida, an area hard hit by the storm, for a briefing on Hurricane Irma. He will then travel south to Naples, Florida to meet with residents tackling the aftermath of storm, the White House said in a statement.
“The devastation left by Hurricane Irma was far greater, at least in certain locations, than anyone thought — but amazing people working hard!” the president said in a Tweet on Tuesday.
One of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, Irma bore down on the Caribbean with devastating force as it raked the northern shore of Cuba last week.
It barreled into the Florida Keys island chain on Sunday, packing sustained winds of up to 215 km per hour before plowing up the Gulf Coast of the state and dissipating.
In addition to severe flooding across Florida and extensive property damage in the Keys, residents faced widespread power outages that initially plunged more than half the state into darkness.
Some 4.3 million homes and businesses were still without power on Wednesday in Florida and neighboring states.
About 150 of the Florida’s nearly 700 nursing facilities were without electricity as of Wednesday morning, according to the Florida Health Care Association, which represents most of them.
Florida Power & Light provided electricity to parts of the nursing home in Hollywood but the facility was not on a county priority list for emergency power restoration, the utility said.
Total insured losses from the storm are expected to run about $25 billion, including $18 billion in the US and $7 billion in the Caribbean, catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Company estimated on Wednesday.
The Florida Keys were particularly hard hit, with federal officials saying 90 percent of its homes were destroyed or heavily damaged. The remote island chain stretches nearly 160 km into the Gulf of Mexico from Florida’s southern tip, connected by a single highway and series of bridges.
On Key West, at the end of the archipelago, hundreds of residents who had refused evacuation orders lined up on Wednesday outside the island’s Salvation Army outpost for water and military-style rations after enduring days of intense heat with little water, power or contact with the outside world.
The stench of dead fish and decaying seaweed permeated the air.
Irma wreaked utter devastation on several of the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, where at least 43 people died. Irma hit Florida about two weeks after Hurricane Harvey plowed into Houston, killing about 60 and causing some $180 billion in damage, mostly from flooding.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Trump to visit hurricane-hit Florida as agents probe nursing home deaths
Trump delivers shock rebuke to Colombia over cocaine surge
Democrats say Trump agrees to work on immigration bill, wall in dispute

Catalonia begins drive for independence vote

Author: 
AFP
Fri, 2017-09-15 03:00
ID: 
1505420542242169900

BARCELONA: Catalan separatists on Thursday officially launches their campaign for an independence referendum deemed illegal by Madrid, which has vowed to stop it at all cost.
The campaign kickoff takes place at 8 p.m. at a 10,000 seat capacity bullring in the port of Tarragona, attended by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and representatives of Catalonia’s main separatist parties and associations.
But there were doubts whether the rally will be able to go ahead after a judge banned another pro-independence event in Madrid on the grounds that a public space could not host a meeting to promote an illegal referendum.
Asked during a TV interview if an operation was under way to stop the event in Tarragona, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said: “You can’t cooperate and you can’t participate in this referendum.”
A manager for the company that runs the bullring, who did not want to be named, told AFP they had not received any official request to not let the rally go ahead.
The pro-independence camp has two weeks to fire up its base and win over its critics who are reluctant to take part in the referendum set for Oct. 1.
If they win, the separatists vow to declare independence within days for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain, with its capital Barcelona, which is home to around 7.5 million people.
The Catalan government has not established a minimum participation for the outcome of the referendum to be valid but a high turnout is key for the legitimacy of the vote.
Pro-separatists are a minority in Tarragona, the capital of a province with the same name with a population of around 130,000, and several chemical and oil refineries.
The city’s Socialist mayor, Josep Felix Ballesteros, has refused to provide facilities for the referendum.
Parties that oppose secession will not take part in the campaign for the referendum, which was declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court, and have asked their supporters to boycott the vote.
“This is a trick,” Salvado Illa, the secretary of the Catalan Socialist party which opposes the referendum, told AFP.
“They want to stage a mock referendum to justify a declaration of independence. They want people to turn out to legitimize results which they already know beforehand.”
Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who will travel to Barcelona on Friday, has also urged Catalans to stay away from the poll.
“If anyone urges you to go to a polling station, don’t go because the referendum can’t take place, it would be an absolutely illegal act,” Rajoy said Wednesday.
Spanish state institutions are ratching up the pressure almost daily on Catalan officials to stop the referendum.

Main category: 
related_nodes: 
Spain threatens to arrest over 700 Catalan pro-referendum mayors
Around one million rally for Catalan independence from Spain
Catalan independence vote divides region’s mayors

EXPOSED: The Reality of Futures Trading and Investing

(GLOBALINTELHUB.COM) — 9/14/2017 — Trading is difficult, if it were easy there would be no losers – in order for there to be winners in markets, there have to be losers.  But trading is not impossible, and Wall St. has developed an industry out of it called “money management” which is effectively conservative trading.

But sometimes there are companies who simply mislead investors in to thinking that trading is easy, and these guys ‘putting golf clubs in their Porsche trunks’ simply discovered the ‘secret’ of life that it’s possible to click click click and get millions.  As hundreds of customers discovered, trading is not that easy.

Today the NFA released the final decision on a case against Kingsview Futures, LLC:

forex

NFA orders Chicago, Ill., introducing broker Kingsview Futures LLC to pay a $50,000 fine

September 14, Chicago—NFA has ordered Chicago, Ill., introducing broker Kingsview Futures LLC to pay a $50,000 fine.

The Decision, issued by an NFA Hearing Panel, is based on a Complaint authorized by NFA’s Business Conduct Committee (BCC) and a settlement offer submitted by Kingsview Futures.

The Hearing Panel found that Kingsview Futures failed to diligently supervise its operations and activities.

The complete text of the Complaint and Decision can be viewed on NFA’s website.

Reading NFA complaints is always interesting.  Here’s the highlights:

 217 Kingsview Futures customers with self-directed accounts traded in 2015.
203 of these customers (or 9 %) incurred total losses that exceeded $1.9 million.
More than 70% of the customers experienced losses exceeding $1,000, and
approximately 10% of them experienced losses exceeding $20,000. One
customer’s losses exceeded $225,000. In contrast, thirteen customers reported
gains in 2015, and only three of them had net profits exceeding $1,000. During
the same period, Kingsview Futures made commissions totaling more than
$208,000 from these customers.

235 Kingsview Futures customers with self-directed accounts traded in 2014.
226 of these customers (or 96%) incurred total losses of more than $1.5 million.

They claim that FX is the ‘risky market’ where 95% of traders lose.  At Oanda, 51% of customer accounts are profitable.

In any event, it’s always sad to see customers pay for something like ‘training and education’ lured by videos with private planes and fancy cars, and then to lose money.  Trading futures is really difficult.  Training and education isn’t always sufficient to make you a trader.  In fact, traders who go through ‘real’ training often don’t succeed.

As we’ve said often, FX provides a lot of opportunity for algorithmic systems – trading FX yourself, futures included – is nearly impossible.

Stick to a system or manager with a track record.  That doesn’t guarantee success of course, but it at least puts you in the spectrum of statistically possible success.

To learn more about the nuances of FX trading and investing checkout Splitting Pennies.

The post EXPOSED: The Reality of Futures Trading and Investing appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Bitcoin Bloodbaths, Tech Stocks Tumble After Dismal China Data, Korea Concerns

Dismal China data, 3 North Korea “prepping missiles” headlines and a North Korean “threat” headline – probably nothing…

 

Chinese economic data plunged overnight – the biggest disappointment to market expectations in 6 months…

 

Of course, US equity traders bought the fucking dip at the open into the European close, but were disappointed that yesterday’s panic bid never showed up…

 

The Dow was the only major index to close higher today with Nasdaq worst…

 

 

FANG Stocks tumbled after 3 straight up days… (NOTE that the BTFDers were there again at the open)

 

Yesterday’s high volume panic-buying extravaganza at the close in AAPL did not show up this time…

 

Financials managed to tag their 50DMA but ended back below it…

 

Equifax bonds crashed to record lows today…

 

North Korean headlines drove gold and USDJPY traders crazy today…

 

Copper’s drop and Gold’s gains are catching down to Treasury’s concerns…

 

Treasury yields ended the day mixed with 30Y 1bps lower and the rest of the curve 1-2bps higher… still an ugly week though!

 

30Y yield ended back below the pre-H-Bomb test levels…

 

The Dollar Index drifted lower today after 3 days up… (NOTE it tagged the pre-payrolls level after CPI and dumped)

 

Meanwhile, Cable spiked above 1.34 – the highest in over a year – after Carney hinted at rate hikes…

 

Bitcoin bloodbath’d today, now down 34% from record highs… BTC’s 14% crash (in USD terms) was the biggest since Jan 2015 (when China last tried to crack down on the virtual currency)…

Bitcoin is setting up for the worst 2-week drop since Dec 2013.

It seems hedgers are rotating back to precious metals…

 

Copper remains the week’s biggest loser as China’s lagged credit impulse starts to impact the real economy and fantasy speculation…

 

WTI Crude managed to get back above $50 (briefly) but rolled over after NYMEX close…

 

The post Bitcoin Bloodbaths, Tech Stocks Tumble After Dismal China Data, Korea Concerns appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Forget The Hype: Public Infrastructure Generates Waste, Fraud And Abuse

Authored by Steve H. Hanke of the Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke.

Economic policy is subject to fads and fashions. The most recent economic-policy fad is public infrastructure. Its advocates include progressives on the “left” and populists on the “right.” It is an undefined hallmark of President Trump’s economic program. They all tell us to take the chains off fiscal austerity and spend — spend a lot — on public works. They allege that this elixir will cure many, if not all, of our economic ills. Let’s take a look at their arguments and evidence.

Although its picked up recently, economic growth remains muted throughout the world. The U.S. provides an important example. It has been over eight years since Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Great Recession commenced. But, the U.S. has failed to bounce back. The economy is still struggling to escape from a growth recession — a recession in which the economy is growing, but growing below its trend rate of growth. The U.S. aggregate demand, which is best represented by final sales to domestic purchasers (FSDP), is now only close to reaching its trend rate, with growth in nominal terms at a 4.43% percent rate (see the accompanying chart).

Many argue that fiscal “austerity” is the culprit that has kept growth tamped down. They advocate fiscal stimulus (read: spending on public works).

Another line of argument used to support massive increases in spending on public works goes beyond the standard Keynesian counter-cyclical argument. It is the secular-stagnation argument. Its leading advocate is Harvard Economist, Larry Summers, formerly U.S. Treasury Secretary and President of Harvard. He argues that private enterprise is failing to invest, and that, with weak private investment, the government must step up to the plate and spend on public works.

For evidence to support Summers’ secular-stagnation argument, he points to anemic private domestic capital expenditures in the U.S. As the accompanying chart shows, net private domestic business investment (gross investment — capital consumption) is relatively weak and has been on a downward course for decades.

Investment is what fuels productivity. So, with little fuel, we should expect weak productivity numbers in the U.S. Sure enough, the rate of growth in productivity is weak and has been trending downward. The U.S. is in the grips of the longest slide in productivity growth since the late 1970s. The secular stagnationists assert that the “deficiency” in net private investment and the resulting productivity slump can be made up by public works spending.

Both the counter-cyclical and the secular-stagnation arguments have been trotted out many times in the past. So, it’s old wine in new bottles. But, it seems to be selling as a means to escape fiscal austerity. If proposed public works projects proceed as projected, the government financing magnitudes would be stunning. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that annual spending of $3.7 trillion per year from 2013 through 2030 would be “required” worldwide.

McKinsey’s “requirements” estimate was computed by using the 70 percent rule of thumb. As shown in the accompanying chart, the average value of the stock of infrastructure for representative countries is 70 percent of GDP. Based on this value, McKinsey then calculated the amount of spending required to keep the global infrastructure stock to GDP ratio fixed at 70 percent over the 2013-2030 period. That exercise yielded a whopping total of $67 trillion in public works spending, which is in the ballpark of most other estimates.

President Trump has jumped on this infrastructure bandwagon. He is proposing a $1 trillion public works program. Following the script of the public works advocates (read: big spenders), Trump has lifted a page from President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). The President’s CEA’s 2016 Annual Report contains a long chapter titled “The Economic Benefits of Investing in U.S. Infrastructure.” That title alone tells us a great deal. Infrastructure spending advocates focus on the alleged benefits, which are often wildly inflated, while ignoring, downplaying, or distorting the cost estimates.

This was clearly on display in an op-ed, “These are the Policies to Restore Growth to America,” which appeared in the Financial Times (12-13 November 2016). It was penned by Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived adviser of President Trump. In it, Scaramucci asserted that infrastructure spending “has an estimated economic multiplier effect of 1.6 times, meaning Mr Trump’s plan would have a net reductive effect on long-term deficits.” This multiplier analysis is exactly the same one used by President Obama’s CEA to justify public works spending. The idea that a dollar of government spending creates more than a dollar’s worth of output is nothing new. Indeed, the multiplier originated in an article that appeared in a 1931 issue of the Economic Journal. The article was written by R. F. Kahn, who was one of John Maynard Keynes’ favorite students and closest collaborators. Since Kahn’s 1931 article, the multiplier has become an inherent part of Keynesian theory. The numerical values of the multiplier are not only sensitive to the assumptions employed, but also subject to misuse in the artificial inflation of benefits.

Once public works are installed, the hot air comes out of their alleged benefits. These projects are poorly maintained, and users are often not charged for what they use, or they are charged prices set well below the relevant costs incurred. Water is a classic case. For example, the accompanying chart shows that, on average, 34 percent of the water delivered to water systems is either stolen or leaks out of the distribution systems. In Nigeria, 70 percent is leaked or stolen. So, it’s hard to take seriously the claims that billions of dollars are required to develop more water-resource capacity when much of the water produced in existing systems leaks away. Adjusted for leaks and thefts, the alleged benefits for many new projects, which have been inflated by multipliers, wither away to almost nothing.

When we turn to the cost side of the ledger, something infrastructure advocates prefer to keep from the public’s view, we find that infrastructure projects are always subject to cost overruns. While the projects might look good on paper, reality is a different story. Detailed studies show that the average ratios of actual costs to estimated costs for public works projects in the U.S. typically range from 1.25 to over 2.0.

In addition to cost overruns, the financing of infrastructure requires the imposition of taxes, and taxes impose costs beyond the amount of revenue raised. The excess burdens of taxation include “deadweight” distortions and enforcement and compliance costs. In short, it costs more than a dollar to finance a dollar in government spending. The best estimates indicate that, on average, it costs between $1.50 to $1.60 to raise a dollar in tax revenue.

Taking proper account of cost overruns and the costs of collecting taxes, one wonders if there are any public works projects that could justify federal financing, let alone financing to the tune of $1 trillion. Welcome to the wonderful world of infrastructure waste, fraud, and abuse.

 

 

This piece was originally published on Forbes.

The post Forget The Hype: Public Infrastructure Generates Waste, Fraud And Abuse appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Martin Shkreli Sent To Same “Third World” Brooklyn Jail As El Chapo

Martin Shkreli finally received a punishment that many Americans feel he deserves on Wednesday when the Brooklyn judge who presided over his trial revoked his bail and ordered him held at a notorious federal jail in Brooklyn until his sentening in January.

The former Turing Pharmaceutical CEO is facing up to 20 years in prison, though the judge has “wide lattitude” to decide the punishment.

During the week before his bail hearing, Shkreli apparently put aside his disgust for reporters long enough to share a few thoughts with a reporter from Gizmodo. Now, that reporter has decided to publish the contents to what amounts to an interview via email.

Somehow, he managed to wrestle a handful of half-serious answers from “the most hated man in the world.”

ON PRISON:

While Shkreli insisted that the sentencing guidelines only call for 0-6 months, he says he’s consulted with people about how to act on the inside. He added that prison probably wouldn’t be so bad; since Trump is president, “every day is nirvana.”

If he does receive a longer sentence, Shkreli said “it will be a good opportunity to read and reflect. He also plans to “make paper from the inside,” though he didn’t specify how.

READING:

The reporter asked Shkreli what his top-five books to read in prison would be. This was Shkreli’s response:

“I would mostly read business reports from my companies and technical materials (medicine, computer science).

 

I read a lot so I’m not sure ‘top 5′ works. I don’t read much fiction but I would probably bone up on philosophy.”

THE WU TANG CLAN ALBUM:

Shkreli refused to discuss the album. However, in a surprising development, “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’s” status as an “official” Wu-Tang Clan album has been called into question by associates of the group, Bloomberg reports.

Instead, the project was initially undertaken by an outside producer who eventually persuaded the group’ leader, the RZA, to endorse the project.

ON BLOOMBERG:

When a Bloomberg reporter asked Shkreli to comment on the record’s provenance, Shkreli instead shared his thoughts about Bloomberg’s business prospects.

“Bloomberg is an overpriced, legacy software system that subsidizes a money-losing media company,” Shkreli wrote. “This state of affairs will soon change.”

* * *

In other Shkreli-related news, NBC reports that Shkreli will be doing time in the Brooklyn Metropolitan Correctional Center – the same federal facility that currently houses Mexican drug baron Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and is also home to mobsters, terrorists and other high-level inmates.

One federal judge has likened it to “a Third World country.”

In fact, one of Benjamin Brafman’s former clients, Jacob Alexander, a tech CEO charged with a stock fraud scheme, complained about the conditions at the Brooklyn facility last year. Brafman shared those concerns in a letter to the court ahead of Shkreli’s bail hearing.

“Mr. Alexander and other male prisoners at the MDC are deprived of fresh air or sunlight, any reasonable opportunity to exercise (Mr. Alexander spends large parts of his day walking in circles in his unit, when he is permitted to do so), and adequate health care (Mr. Alexander has been unable to get authorization to receive the hearing aids or insoles that he previously wore).”

Brafman cited a June 2016 report by the National Association of Women Judges describing conditions in the female wing as “unconscionable.”

“The absence of fresh, clean air, the complete absence of sunlight, and the absence of ANY outdoor time and activities are immediate issues which BOP has failed to address in any meaningful fashion,” the report said.

That led a Brooklyn judge to comment: “Some of these conditions wouldn’t surprise me if we were dealing with a prison in Turkey or a Third World country.”

Not exactly the cushy “Club Fed” Shkreli had hoped for.

The post Martin Shkreli Sent To Same “Third World” Brooklyn Jail As El Chapo appeared first on crude-oil.news.