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  • Hurricane Ravaged Dominica: ‘It’s All Gone’ And Fighting For Survival

    In just the blink of an eye, island life on Dominica was turned upside down. Like Puerto Rico, Dominica was violently ravaged by Hurricane Maria, and residents are still fighting for survival.
    The wooden frames and scattered, water-damaged belongings are all that remains of some homes of on Dominica, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last month. Without warning, the storm rapidly accelerated from a Category 3 to a Category 5, and residents said they could do little to prepare. ‘There was lightning, there was heavy rain…[it was like] the hurricane was in the house,’ said Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit according to ABC News. ‘We have lost everything that money can buy, and that is a fact.’
    The roof of Roosevelt Skerrit’s house was blown away and its floors flooded. On the night Hurricane Maria hit, Skerrit took to Facebook to post updates including one that said, ‘I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding’ and another that said, ‘The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God!’ Later he posted, ‘I have been rescued.’
    ‘You can still see the shock, the anxiety, the fear the trauma in the eyes and the expressions of people every day,’ he told ABC’s Nightline. ‘Their entire life investments, life’s savings, blown away.’ Another now displaced resident named Emmanuel Peter said he can still remember the roar of the hurricane-force winds. ‘It was just whistling, whistling,’ he said. ‘I thought it would burst my eardrums.’

    This post was published at shtfplan on October 19th, 2017.


  • 13/10/17: Debt Glut and Building Dublin

    Just back from Ireland, a fast, work-filled trip, with some amazing meetings and discussions, largely unrelated to what is in the ‘official’ newsflow. Some blogposts and articles ahead to be shared.
    One thing that jumps out is the continued frenzy in building activity in Dublin, predominantly (exclusively) in the commercial space (offices). Not much finished. Lots being built. For now, Irish builders (mostly strange new players backed by vultures and private equity) are still in the stage where buildings shells are being erected. The cheap stage of construction. Very few are entering the fit-out stages – the costly, skills-intensive works stage. And according to several sector specialists I spoke to, not many fit-out crews are in the market, as skilled builders have not been returning to the island, yet, from their exiles to the U. S., Canada, Australia, UAE, and further afield.
    Which should make for a very interesting period ahead: with so many construction sites nearing the fit-out stages, building costs will sky rocket, just as supply glut of new offices will start hitting the letting markets. In the mean time, many multinationals – aka the only clients worth signing – have already signed leases and/or bought own buildings on the cheap. Google owns its own real estate (hello BEPS tax reforms that stress tangible activity over imaginary revenue shifting); Twitter has a refurbished home; Facebook is quite committed to a lease (although it too might take a jump into buying); and so on. Tax inversion have slowed down and Trump Administration just re-committed to Obama-era restrictions on these, while Trump tax plan aims to take a massive chunk out of this pie away from Ireland. So demand… demand is nowhere to be seen.

    This post was published at True Economics on Friday, October 13, 2017.


  • Facebook, Instagram Experiencing “Extreme” Outages As Complaints Pile Up

    Oh, Facebook is down. pic.twitter.com/eykcDkizxq
    — Kazuhiro Sera (@seratch) October 11, 2017

    Facebook and Instagram are down for thousands of users across the world this morning, with websites like Outage Report recording ‘extreme’ outages in the US Hungary, Kosovo, Germany, Poland and other countries. The sites went down shortly after 11 a.m.
    This is the second widespread outage for both social networks (Instagram is owned by Facebook) in less than two months. Facebook blamed the most recent outage, which occurred on Aug. 26, on unspecified ‘technical issues.’

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2017.


  • Blaming Russia for Major U.S. Problems Raises Risk of Not Seeing Enemy Within

    The U. S. House and Senate Intelligence Committees have asked executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter to appear at their respective public hearings on November 1. The hearings will seek testimony on evidence already turned over to the Committees by the companies on how Russia used social media accounts, bots, trolls and advertising to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
    The New York Times reported yesterday that ‘On Facebook, fake Russia-linked accounts – in which fictional people posed as American activists – promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Those accounts bought advertising to promote those messages and reach a bigger audience within the Facebook universe, while promoting the incendiary posts to different locations or people with established political leanings for maximum impact.’
    Facebook has turned over information on 3,000 Russia-linked ads that appeared on its network in the leadup to the 2016 presidential election. Google this week disclosed that Russia-linked ads had also appeared on its platforms during the presidential campaign. Twitter has provided evidence to the Committees that RT, a Russian, state-funded television network previously known as Russia Today, had advertised on its network during the presidential campaign period.

    This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 10, 2017.


  • Human Traders Are Trouncing The Machines

    The contemporary low volatility trading environment has been kind to actively managed equity funds – particularly if they piled into large-cap momentum stocks like Facebook and Amazon, which have been responsible for the bulk of this year’s rally.
    But while active managers have enjoyed three quarters of strong returns, quant funds – purportedly the future of asset management, according to many an ‘expert’ on Wall Street – are falling further and further behind. As Bloomberg reports, during the first nine months of 2017, the average equity fund was up 9.7 percent while quant funds rose only 0.6 percent, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.
    The striking reversal has validated the views of the handful of quant-fund skeptics on Wall Street, many of whom were previously branded as ‘luddites’ for questioning the inherent superiority of algorithm-driven investment strategies. Quant funds, as we are learning, don’t function well in a low volatility environment because there are fewer opportunities to exploit small disparities in price.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 10, 2017.


  • Google ‘Suddenly’ Discovers Questionable “Russia Ads” On YouTube, DoubleClick, Gmail

    Update (Noon ET): In an emailed statement, Google confirmed that it found $100,000 worth of questionable ads and said it’s working with researchers and ‘other companies’ on investigating abuse of its systems.
    Et tu, Google?
    For the first time since Sen. Mark Warner began questioning whether Silicon Valley tech giants have been ‘doing enough’ to root out and expose examples of alleged Russian interference in the November 2016 election, Google has reportedly discovered that Russia-linked operatives deceptively purchased tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of advertising on YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, according to the Washington Post. Google operates the largest advertising platform in the world, and YouTube is the world’s largest video-advertising platform.
    According to WaPo, Google’s discovery is ‘significant’ because the advertisements in question do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook, which the paper says suggests that Kremlin disinformation efforts were much broader than lawmakers and Silicon Valley had believed.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.


  • Facebook Security Chief Lashes Out: “Censorship Is Easy If You Don’t Worry About Becoming The Ministry Of Truth”

    In a furious tweetstorm this weekend, Facebook’s Chief Security Officer warned interfering desperate politicians and triggered letfists that the fake news problem is more complicated and dangerous to solve than the public thinks.
    As a reminder, we noted that Alex Stamos was seemingly pressured into ‘finding’ Russian evidence after Senator Mark Warner paid the social media company a visit –
    A few weeks after the French election, Warner flew out to California to visit Facebook in person. It was an opportunity for the senator to press Stamos directly on whether the Russians had used the company’s tools to disseminate anti-Clinton ads to key districts.
    Officials said Stamos underlined to Warner the magnitude of the challenge Facebook faced policing political content that looked legitimate.
    Stamos told Warner that Facebook had found no accounts that used advertising but agreed with the senator that some probably existed. The difficulty for Facebook was finding them.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.


  • Martin Shkreli: “Prison Life Isn’t That Bad”

    Martin Shkreli says prison life at the notorious ‘Club Fed’ jail in Brooklyn isn’t all that bad.
    The former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO and recently convicted felon, whose bail was revoked last month after prosecutors successfully argued that Shkreli’s Facebook post offering $5,000 for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair represented a credible threat of violence. Shkreli argued that the post was satire, but the judge said that Shkreli’s history of harassing people on the internet cast doubt on his intentions.
    Shkreli has described his prison experience in a letter to a friend that was shared with the New York Post.
    The 34-year-old is spending his time mentoring fellow inmates, reading, playing chess – and learning to deal with sharing a small, cramped cell with a snoring roommate, pal Lisa Whisnant told The Post.
    ‘Things are not THAT awful here,’ inmate 87850-053 wrote to Whisnant, underlining ‘THAT’ three times. ‘There are some bright sides. I am teaching these prisoners some new things and hopefully some ways to change their lives.’
    Shkreli has been passing his time shooting hoops with his fellow inmates. Though he apparently complained that his bed is small and cramped and that his sleep quality has been ‘very low.’

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2017.


  • Wells Fargo’s Artificial Intelligence Defies Analysts, Slaps ‘Sell’ on Google and Facebook

    Oh the irony!
    Google, which makes almost all of its money on ads and internet user data, is undertaking herculean efforts to get a grip on artificial intelligence (AI). It’s trying to develop software that allows machines to think and learn like humans. It’s spending enormous resources on it. This includes the $525 million acquisition in 2014 of DeepMind, which is said to have lost an additional $162 million in 2016. Google is trying to load smartphones with AI and come up with AI smart speakers and other gadgets, and ultimately AI systems that control self-driving cars.
    Facebook, which also makes most of its money on ads and user data, is on a similar trajectory, but spreading into other directions, including a ‘creepy’ run-in with two of its bots that were supposed to negotiate with each other but ended up drifting off human language and invented their own languagethat humans couldn’t understand.
    And here comes an AI bot developed by stock analysts at Wells Fargo Securities. The human analysts have an ‘outperform’ rating on Google’s parent Alphabet and on Facebook. They worked with a data scientist at Amazon’s Alexa project to create the AI bot. And after six months of work, the AI bot was allowed to do its job. According to their note to clients on Friday, reported by Bloomberg, the AI bot promptly slapped a ‘sell’ rating on Google and Facebook.

    This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Oct 7, 2017.


  • New Robot Equity Analyst Hits Facebook And Google With A Sell Rating

    It should come as a surprise to precisely no one reading this post that wall street equity analysts have a ‘slight’ bias toward “Buy” ratings. After all, equity analysts aren’t really in the business of helping clients make buy/sell decisions, their only real value comes from acting as an intermediary to setup the coveted 1×1’s at lavish conferences in Miami between the hedge funds who pay them and the management teams of the companies they cover. And, of course, it’s much harder to get those management teams to attend your conference if you spread too much truth about their future potential.
    But, for those who still aren’t convinced, the Economist took a look at wall street equity research ratings for the S&P 500 last year and found that just 6% of all ratings were “sell/underperform” ratings.
    In December 2016, the Economist conducted a study off all the equity analyst ratings for the 500 or so stocks in the Standard and Poor’s 500 index. The study found that 49 percent of the total ratings on those stocks were “buy/outperform” ratings, 45 percent were “hold/neutral ratings” and only 6 percent of total ratings were “sell/underperform” ratings.
    Roughly half of S&P 500 stocks underperformed the overall index in 2016, and about 30 percent of the stocks generated negative overall returns on the year.
    All that said, a new A. I. equity analyst created by Wells Fargo doesn’t seem to care one bit about the politics of the equity research business and slapped both Google and Facebook, two cornerstones of Jim Cramer’s beloved FANG stocks, with ‘sell’ ratings. Per Bloomberg:
    Late last month, Wells Fargo analyst Ken Sena introduced AIERA, short for artificially intelligent equity research analyst, a bot that does massive automated grunt work to support human analysts as they track stocks and make trade recommendations. And while analysts are known to skew toward buy ratings, the new bot doesn’t seem to share the bias.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 6, 2017.


  • CBS Fires Exec Who Slammed Vegas Dead As “Country Music Fans Who’re Often Gun-Toting Republicans”

    CBS has fired on of its top lawyers after she took to social media to explain why she was “not even sympathetic” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican.”
    ***
    As Fox News reports, Hayley Geftman-Gold, the network’s now-former vice president and senior counsel, took to Facebook after a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and sending more than 500 others to hospitals.
    ‘If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs [sic] will ever do the right thing,’ Geftman-Gold wrote in a now-deleted message that was first reported and captured by The Daily Caller.
    Geftman-Gold continued: ‘I’m actually not even sympathetic bc [sic] country music fans often are Republican gun toters [sic].’

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.


  • Kass: “Sell The FANGs”

    Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence, Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017

    I expect comparisons between the FANG stocks and Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers film series to be an ongoing investment storyline over the next year given these digital gatekeepers’ increased dominance over the U. S. economy. This idea might receive a lot more play in U. S. political and antitrust circles – and produce more legal challenges – than most investors currently presume.
    For those unfamiliar with Austin Powers, Mike Myers’ character Dr. Evil is a parody of the James Bond villains. He hatches schemes to take over the world with his sidekick Mini-Me and his cat Mr. Bigglesworth. He’s also assisted by Number 2 (played by Robert Wagner), who fronts for his evil corporation, Virtucon Industries. A natural businessman, Number 2 is often more concerned about the financial aspects of world domination than in world domination itself. That sounds a lot like the FANG stocks – Facebook, Amazon , Netflix and Alphabet/Google.
    Now, the FANG shares have been slipping recently despite Wednesday’s strength. However, investor sentiment remains almost universally optimistic as it relates to the intermediate term for these names.
    Here are just two examples of that enthusiasm:
    Based on expectations of the FANGs’ glorious future and continued popularity, the Intercontinental Exchange this week announced an early November launch of a ‘FANG+’ ETF. This will combine the FANGs with other hot stocks like Alibaba, Nvidia and Tesla. Some, like my pal Tom Lee of Fundstrat Global, remain ecstatic about the FANGs’ future prospects. In an early June CNBC appearance, Tom explained why, despite having an overall bearish market view, he thinks the FANGs can add nearly 50% over 2017’s second half – and then continue to soar in 2018 and beyond.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 29, 2017.


  • Zuckerberg Fires Back At Trump, Admits “Russian Ads” Were Meaningless

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has responded to a Trump tweet from earlier this morning which suggested that Facebook, among other media outlets, were “always anti-Trump” from the beginning (we noted the Trump tweets here).
    In his response, Zuckerberg finally managed to interject some logic into the Left’s latest, and most entertaining “Russian collusion” narrative which continues to allege that $100,000 (one hundred thousand) worth of ad buys on Facebook managed to sway the outcome of the entire U. S. election.
    After acknowledging that he has recently found himself in the uncomfortable position of coming under attack by both the Left and Right for “helping” the other side, Zuckerberg pointed out, as have we on numerous occasions, that “campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online” which was “1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found.”
    Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like. Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That’s 1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 28, 2017.


  • “Fake News” Writer Who “Felt Responsible For Trump’s Election” Found Dead In Phoenix

    A self-described “fake news” writer, and no he didn’t write for CNN or the New York Times, has been found dead in Phoenix of an apparent “accidental overdose.” According to The Hill, Paul Horner often said that he felt “responsible for Trump’s election” because of how many of his fake news stories went viral over Facebook and Twitter but an immediate inconsistency arises when you realize the “Horner” doesn’t sound Russian at all.
    Here’s more from The Hill:
    Horner, whose fake news stories often went viral on Facebook and Twitter, told The Intersect, a Washington Post blog, last year that Trump supporters were especially susceptible to being fooled.
    ‘My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time,’ Horner said. ‘I think Trump is in the White House because of me.”
    ‘His followers don’t fact-check anything – they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.’
    Horner also said at the time he published his hoax stories to make Trump supporters look bad.
    ‘I thought they’d fact-check it, and it’d make them look worse,’ Horner said. ‘I mean, that’s how this always works: Someone posts something I write, then they find out it’s false, then they look like idiots.
    ‘But Trump supporters – they just keep running with it! They never fact-check anything! Now he’s in the White House. Looking back, instead of hurting the campaign, I think I helped it. And that feels [bad].’

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 27, 2017.


  • “Russia Hoax Continues”: Trump Blasts Facebook Ad Frenzy; Hits “Fake News” For “Screaming” For Hillary

    Continuing his early morning tweetstorm, Donald Trump on Friday questioned the recent media focus on Facebook’s decision to overhaul how it handles political advertisements amid investigations into alleged Russian interference in U. S. elections, and called reports of Kremlin-linked groups buying Facebook ads to sway the 2016 election part of a “Russia hoax.”
    ‘The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary.”
    The Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.


  • Is It Racist? Maryland Officials Dare To Dis-Allow Non-Citizens From Voting

    In the land of the free, shouldn’t any and every person capable of fogging a mirror (or not in some cases) and arriving at a polling station be able to vote for their favorite benefits-provider-in-chief? It appears officials in College Park, Maryland believe not as the city’s town council voted ‘outrageously‘ to not allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.
    ***
    As The Hill reports, the charter amendment – allowing undocumented immigrants, green-card holders, and immigrants with student visas to vote in municipal elections – was thought to have passed on Tuesday.
    However, while the council voted in favor of the proposal by a 4-3 margin, a change to the city’s charter in June requires changes receive at least six affirmative votes, the city explained in a press release Friday night.
    College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn shared the update Friday night on Facebook, saying
    “It is with a considerable degree of embarrassment and regret that I share this announcement from the city regarding the proposed charter resolution to allow voting by non-citizens in College Park. I accept my fair share of responsibility for not realizing the impact of recent charter amendments on this issue.”

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 16, 2017.


  • Google Also Allowed Advertisers To Buy Racist Keywords Like “Why Do Black People Ruin Neighborhoods”

    Ever since failing miserably in their efforts to appoint Hillary Clinton to her rightful throne in the Oval Office, Silicon Valley’s biggest tech titans have come under relentless attack from disappointed liberal politicians in DC and their primary propaganda distribution platforms, the mainstream media.
    Just last night, on the Rachel Maddow show, Hillary once again blamed Facebook for her 2016 loss and vowed that “we’re going to make Facebook own up to everything” (you can watch the full interview here).
    “We are not going to let the Russians come in and divide us. We’re going to make Facebook own up to everything.”
    The irony, of course, is that perhaps no one contributed more money to getting Hillary elected than the same Facebook execs that are now coming under pressure for ‘colluding with Russia” after admitting that a staggering $50,000 worth of ads may have been bought by potentially Russian-linked accounts on their platform. In fact, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz even contributed $20 million of his own money to the Democratic efforts in 2016, which we believe is slightly more than $50,000 but we’re not great at math.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.


  • Facebook Promises To Censor All Material That Makes Zuckerberg Sad

    Earlier this morning, Facebook Vice President of Media Partnerships shared a new blog post on the company’s website detailing precisely how they intend to censor content with which they happen to disagree. Apparently all content providers who share “clickbait or sensationalism, or post misinformation and false news” will be deemed ineligible to monetize their efforts over Facebook.
    To use any of our monetization features, you must comply with Facebook’s policies and terms, including our Community Standards, Payment Terms, and Page Terms. Our goal is support creators and publishers who are enriching our community. Those creators and publishers who are violating our policies regarding intellectual property, authenticity, and user safety, or are engaging in fraudulent business practices, may be ineligible to monetize using our features.
    Creators and publishers must have an authentic, established presence on Facebook – they are who they represent themselves to be, and have had a profile or Page on Facebook for at least one month. Additionally, some of our features like Ad Breaks require a sufficient follower base, something that could extend to other features over time.
    Those who share content that repeatedly violates our Content Guidelines for Monetization, share clickbait or sensationalism, or post misinformation and false news may be ineligible or may lose their eligibility to monetize.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 13, 2017.


  • Facebook Exposed – “You” Are The Product

    At the end of June, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had hit a new level: two billion monthly active users. That number, the company’s preferred ‘metric’ when measuring its own size, means two billion different people used Facebook in the preceding month. It is hard to grasp just how extraordinary that is. Bear in mind that thefacebook – its original name – was launched exclusively for Harvard students in 2004. No human enterprise, no new technology or utility or service, has ever been adopted so widely so quickly. The speed of uptake far exceeds that of the internet itself, let alone ancient technologies such as television or cinema or radio.
    Also amazing: as Facebook has grown, its users’ reliance on it has also grown. The increase in numbers is not, as one might expect, accompanied by a lower level of engagement. More does not mean worse – or worse, at least, from Facebook’s point of view. On the contrary. In the far distant days of October 2012, when Facebook hit one billion users, 55 per cent of them were using it every day. At two billion, 66 per cent are. Its user base is growing at 18 per cent a year – which you’d have thought impossible for a business already so enormous. Facebook’s biggest rival for logged-in users is YouTube, owned by its deadly rival Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), in second place with 1.5 billion monthly users. Three of the next four biggest apps, or services, or whatever one wants to call them, are WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, with 1.2 billion, 1.2 billion, and 700 million users respectively (the Chinese app WeChat is the other one, with 889 million). Those three entities have something in common: they are all owned by Facebook. No wonder the company is the fifth most valuable in the world, with a market capitalisation of $445 billion.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 2, 2017.


  • A Letter From Michael In Boise

    Hello from Boise, Idaho! The reason why I have not been posting new articles lately is because I have been on the road. I have been in Boise since Monday, and absolutely amazing things have been happening for the campaign. I spent most of Tuesday and most of Wednesday at the Republican booth at the Western Idaho Fair. I shook a lot of hands and passed out a ton of brochures. Thanks to you guys, we have the best looking and highest quality campaign material of anyone running for any political office in the state of Idaho. And we also have a source that can print brochures for much cheaper than anyone else is getting them. We are stretching every single campaign dollar as far as it will possibly go, and if you would like to contribute to the effort you can do so right here.
    On both Thursday and Friday, we had a series of terrific meetings with some of the most politically influential people in the entire state. Thanks to our relentless promotion on social media, we have created an enormous amount of buzz all over the district. Many of these highly influential people were not familiar with my work before, but because of the efforts of our team people everywhere have been talking about this campaign.
    At this point, we have had more campaign website traffic than all of the other candidates combined, more Facebook page likes than all of the other candidates combined, more Twitter followers than all of the other candidates combined, more Instagram followers than all of the other candidates combined, and more YouTube views than all of the other candidates combined.


    This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on August 26th, 2017.