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CAN THE SAUDIS REALLY PULL THIS OFF?

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Saudi Arabia has launched a radical ‘Thatcherite’  shake-up to an avert economic crisis and prepare the kingdom for the post-carbon world, stunning analysts with claims that it could break reliance on oil within just four years.

Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the country’s de facto ruler, vows to build a $3 trillion wealth fund and break onto the world stage as an investment superpower, the spearhead of an historic package of measures intended to bring the deformed economy kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

Salman, a 31 year-old tornado determined to smash the status quo, has amassed immense power over the economy and defense that belies his title as deputy crown prince, filling the cabinet with modern technocrats and startling his sinecure cousins from the Al Saud family with the unfamiliar prospect of hard work.

The plan known as “Vision2030” aims to slash $80bn of wasteful spending each year and impose some degree of order on the kingdom’s chaotic finances with a consumption tax and fresh levies.  Can the Saudi Prince really pull this off?

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NEGATIVE MADNESS

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Would you like for the bank to give you a check each month for your mortgage interest payment rather than you paying the bank interest?

As mad as that question seems, the fact is that some homeowners in Denmark are now receiving checks each month because their mortgages have negative (below zero) interest rates. A negative interest rate is the situation in which the lenders pay you to borrow money from them.

A number of central banks now have negative interest rates, including Japan, the European Central Bank, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and others — all done in the hope of increasing inflation (which is more madness). The chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve has said she is not ruling out negative interest rates.

Negative, zero or very low interest rates encourage people to buy much more expensive homes than they normally would, which is to their benefit until interest rates rise. Despite stagnant economies many European cities are experiencing a rapid rise in home prices largely because of low interest rate policies. This real estate bubble cannot be sustained, so at some point it is going to all come crashing down.

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HALF-FULL REPORT 04/22/16

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Sorry to start this with a bummer, but this is a stupid evil day.  April 22 is the birthday of one of the greatest monsters in the history of human depravity -- Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, born in 1870, who adopted the pseudonym “Lenin” after the Lena River in Siberia.

It’s appropriate that Lenin’s birthday is the holiest day of the year by the world’s eco-fascists, which they celebrate as “Earth Day” – otherwise known as “Let’s-Return-to-the-Stone-Age-and-Live-in-a-Cave-Day.”  I just wish they’d all do that and leave the rest of us alone.

On to something far more pleasant.  You may have noticed the new Wheeler Expeditions link on the TTP home page.  The site just got started and will see significant improvements in the next month.  You may note that the first one offered is Hidden Pacific II.  That’s because Hidden Pacific I got sold out before we could put it up.

The same with my Himalaya Helicopter Expedition, also sold out (scroll down on the “Upcoming Trips” page to see it).  This is to reach the base camps of all the great Himalaya giants 8,000 meters or 26,000 feet high by helicopter – never been done before.  So I leave for Kathmandu in just a few days.

In my absence, I’m happy to announce that my buddy and true Renaissance Man, Rod Martin, will once again be manning the HFR helm.  Rod’s HFRs were really popular with TTPers while I was in India two months ago, and I know they will be again.  Thanks, Rod!!

Ok – ready to laugh your head off?  And have your jaw drop?  And to side with the Mafia over Moslems?  And to know the Hero of the Week?  Here we go….

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TRUMP, TREASON, AND THE TALIBAN

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No, this is not to accuse Donald Trump of treason.  But it sure is regarding who’s running his campaign now – Paul Manafort.

No one who reads Michael Isikoff’s report for Yahoo News on Wednesday (4/18), Top Trump Aide Lobbied for Pakistani Spy Front, and who has an accurate understanding of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) can conclude otherwise.

The man who hired Manafort, Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, went to federal prison.  According to the FBI Report on Fai’s guilty plea (Dec. 2011):

“For the last 20 years, Mr. Fai secretly took millions of dollars from Pakistani intelligence and lied about it to the U.S. government.  As a paid operative of ISI, he did the bidding of his handlers in Pakistan while he met with U.S. elected officials, funded high-profile conferences and promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington.”

And who in Washington arranged those meetings with elected officials, those conferences, and those promotions to DC decision-makers?  Paul Manafort.  He doesn’t belong running a presidential campaign.  He belongs in jail with Syed Fai.

Here’s the background on just how evil the Pak ISI is, and how treasonous was Manafort’s work for it.

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THE CULT OF TRUMP

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At the conclusion of a news conference in Jupiter, Florida on March 8, Michelle Fields, a reporter for Breitbart News, a webzine deeply in the tank for Donald Trump, approached the candidate to ask him a question about affirmative action.

Someone grabbed her arm from behind and yanked her backward.  Ms. Fields stumbled but didn’t fall.  She didn’t see who grabbed her.  Washington Post reporter Ben Terris told her it was Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager.

This was a thuggish thing to do.  But it wasn’t a big deal.  Ms. Fields was shaken and her arm was bruised, but she’d suffered no serious injury. In a sane world, Mr. Lewandowski would have apologized to Ms. Fields, perhaps while offering a self-serving explanation for his behavior.  She would have accepted his apology.  End of story.

That isn’t what happened.  What did is yet another example of the weirdness of the Cult of Trump.

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YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT CHINA OVERTAKING THE US ECONOMY

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China panic has abated. The Shanghai Composite index of equities is back above 3,000. The much-feared devaluation never happened.

The yuan has strengthened against the dollar this year, to the consternation of Western tourists. Outflows of money have slowed as dollar debt is paid off and Chinese investors wind down 'carry trade' positions.  

The International Monetary Fund has just raised its forecast for Chinese growth this year to 6.5%, insisting that it is still far too early to talk about a hard-landing.

Yet that is where the good news ends, for there is a poisonous sting in the tail.  We can put away those charts projecting China's 'sorpasso', the moment when the country surpasses the US to become the world's biggest economy. It is not going to happen and here’s why.  This is a horror story for real.

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THE BIG FAT SURPRISE

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I live on a dairy farm. I love full-fat milk, butter and, above all, double cream. As a child I drank milk unpasteurized, straight from the cow — and I grew to be almost 6ft 6in, so it cannot have been all bad.

Nonetheless, I believed fat was bad for me because the medical establishment said so again and again. From time to time I made ineffectual efforts to take up margarine and even that watery stuff they call skimmed milk.

But cream remains a guilty pleasure.

I assumed that behind the advice to cut out the cream lay hard evidence from well-controlled trials.  Yet it turns out I have often been lied to by the diet police over the years.

There is no evidence that dietary fat is a big cause of heart disease, or obesity — and we have actually had the facts on this for decades.

It’s a shocking miscarriage of scientific justice.  The whole theory that saturated fats from animals cause heart disease by upping cholesterol is as full of holes as a Swiss cheese.

It always has been, we can now see.  Right from the start, in the 1950s, those laying the blame on diet for the epidemic of heart disease got it wrong.  Here’s the story.

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FIGHT THE LEFT OR DIE

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Last week, the nation’s largest coal company, Peabody Coal, declared bankruptcy, as have many other coal companies in the past few years.

They were partly victims of the development of fracking technology, which greatly increased the supply and reduced the cost of natural gas –  but they were even more victims of President Obama’s stated war on coal.

The officials of the coal industry could not do much about the fracking revolution, but they allowed themselves to be unfairly and irresponsibly pilloried by the green lobby and the Obama administration.

Over the years, I have watched many industries, companies and individuals be destroyed by unwarranted attacks, and even entire countries maligned. But I have also been impressed by those that have successfully fought back.

Just contrast the reaction of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the coal industry.

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EARNING A REPUTATION WITH OURSELVES

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When we get to know people, we are, in part, building a reputation with each other. "What kind of person is he?" "How does she handle a difficult situation?" "What kind of attitude does he bring to his work?" "How does she respond to confrontation or adversity?"

There are multitudes of small interactions that give us information about a person’s character and personality, values and integrity. Over time we come to decide whether this is the kind of person we want to spend time with; whether we like how we feel when we’re with them.

Here is a piece that is often missing: We watch ourselves just like we watch others, and we develop a reputation with ourselves accordingly.

This is the essence of earned self-esteem.

What kind of a person are you, in your own assessment? Do you have values, goals, and priorities? And do you act in accordance with those values, goals, and priorities? Are you the kind of person you would like to be? And if not, what are the barriers to becoming the kind of person you would like to be?

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