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Will The Deep State’s War On Trump Lead To An Actual Civil War?

September 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Andrew Karybko via Oriental Review,
Oriental Review is publishing the English original of Andrew Korybko’s interview with an Iranian newspaper from earlier this month.

After only eight months after entering into office, we …

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Japan’s Lonely Single Men Are Settling For Virtual Reality “Wives Of The Future”

September 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

In a country where over 70% of unmarried men between 18 and 34, and 60% of women, have no relationship with a member of the opposite sex, and where birthrates are among the lowest in the world after Japanese women gave birth to fewer than one million babies in 2016 for the first time since the government began tracking birth rates, Bloomberg reports on an industry that’s profiting off the reluctance of young Japanese men and women to find a human partner.

What Bloomberg calls the “virtual love industry” in Japan has blossomed into a multi-million-dollar concern as unmarried men and women increasingly turn to simulated digital offerings for companionship.  Inventors create applications that essentially allow users to build a ‘virtual wife’ or ‘virtual husband’. While we imagine virtual companions bring badly needed comfort to millions of lonely Japanese, as Bloomberg notes, the industry does have a dark side: Some virtual-reality offerings promote unrealistic and even damaging portrayals of women as submissive. And men as domineering and menacing.

“Starting today, you live here now, with me,” he snarls. “I expect you to keep me entertained.” Wait, isn’t that his job?

 

A real young man on the streets of Akihabara, a district of Tokyo known for its anime and manga culture, is impressed by a demo of the game but declares, cringing, “Getting hit on by a man—it was pretty embarrassing.”

 

Simple companionship isn’t Takechi’s only vision. His virtual world of husband and dutiful wife, he says, “could develop into love, if we keep investigating further.”

One inventor who build a virtual-reality platform said he aims to create a virtual partner who brings greater satisfaction to Japanese men and women than a human companion would. That’s bad news for the Japanese economy, which, thanks to the looming demographic crunch as the population rapidly ages, will need to increasingly rely on the Bank of Japan’s “stimulus” to avoid a deflationary spiral.

“She’s always there, always listening, ready to cater to her husband’s every whim. Meet Azuma Hikari, Japan’s digital “wife of the future,” according to her inventor, Minori Takechi, who believes his AI construct can go some way toward solving Japan’s problem with loneliness.

 

Hikari lives in a bubble—like, an actual bubble, or a little transparent cylinder at any rate—in a skimpy outfit, lending a sympathetic ear to her man’s troubles, responding to commands, and flirting (“bath time—do not peep!”). Age: 20. Height: 158 centimeters. Specialty: fried eggs. Dislike: insects. So, less like Siri, more like Offred.

 

Takechi set out to create a partner who “brings greater satisfaction than human interaction.” Best of all, Hikari is bashful, so her owner “doesn’t have to communicate with her all the time,” Takechi says with a shy grin, in the second video in our Love Disrupted series. He is selling his prototype for $2,700 and reports 300 pre-orders, mainly from men in their 20s and 30s.”

At any rate at matter, should North Korean Leader follow through with his threats to “sink” Japan with nuclear weapons, a decision that, using the logic of certain investment banks, would represent an unprecedented economic stimulus.
 

* * *

Meanwhile, we recently noted that the thriving market for lifelike sex dolls may have jumped the shark after a company offering sex doll rentals shuttered its new venture after less than a week after it inspired a storm of controversy. But we doubt that setback will forestall more advances in sex doll technology. For a look at what’s to come, the Daily Star recently published a look inside the sex doll workshop of Spanish scientist Dr Sergi Santos, who recently produced a talking sex robot named Samantha.

The Daily Star published some exclusive photos of Santos’s “works in progress”…

Many of the images of the dolls mimicking real-life situations are simply uncanny…

It’s a silicone angel…

And here’s video from inside the workshop…

 

 

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Blowback? – Mizzou Enrollment Tumbles To Lowest Since 2008

September 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Amid ongoing fallout from the negative media attention and student (and faculty) protests that rocked campus in 2015, the University of Missouri recently welcomed its smallest student body since 2008.

As Campus Reform has repeatedly reported, the embattled university has taken hit after hit, starting with a $32 million budget shortfall and a five-percent budget cut, followed by a seven-percent drop in freshmen enrollment heading into last school year.

As some may remember Mizzou hit the headlines after Melissa Click, a journalism professor, won infamy nationwide for her behavior during race-related protests at MU in November 2015.

When a student journalist tried to cover the public protests, Click physically confronted him, saying he had no right to be there and needed to “get out.”

When the journalist resisted, Click called for “some muscle” to try forcing him back.

The student’s video of Click quickly went viral, and attracted the attention of Missouri lawmakers, more than 100 of whom signed a petition demanding Click’s termination. Click herself was eventually hit with misdemeanor assault charges, which were dropped after she agreed to perform community service. Initially, the school said Click’s fate would be decided during her tenure hearing in August, but in February the school’s board gave in to outside pressure and fired her.

And, as Campus Reform’s Anthony Gockowski reports, since then it has been downhill for the University…

More recently, Mizzou shuttered seven residence halls due to a drastic drop in enrollment, renting some of the vacant rooms out to sports fans to help make up for the school’s many financial woes, and cut 474 jobs.

Now, The Dothan Eagle reports that the university is facing the lowest levels of enrollment since 2008, with official numbers showing that enrollment is down 12.9 percent.

Additionally, the Eagle notes that, with the exception of the senior class, every incoming class is smaller than last year’s, and even international enrollment fell by 12.1 percent.

This year’s freshman class is the smallest since 2008, with enrollment down about 33% from its peak in 2015.

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From “Dotard” To “Old, Insane, B***h”: Here’s A List Of North Korea’s Most Memorable Insults

September 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un unwittingly set the internet on fire Thursday night when he proclaimed that US President and purported Kim BFF Donald Trump was a “mentally deranged dotard” and a “rogue and a gangster.”

Kim’s usage of the arcane vocab word prompted hundreds of thousands of people ask Google what exactly is a dotard? (for the record, it’s a pejorative term for a senile old man).

As the Sun newspaper points out, Kim’s latest viral proclamation follows a pattern of North Korean media serving up memorable – if sometimes nonsensical – soundbites in their attacks on American politicians.

And in a list dating back to the Bush Administration – when Kim Jong Un’s father Kim Jong Il was still running the country – the Sun recounts some of North Korea’s most memorable missives to their American “imperialist” adversaries.

Cory Gardner:

When Senator Corey Gardner called Kim a “whack job” in May, the dictator was less than pleased. State media quickly responded, saying that Gardner was “human dirt”.

A statement said: “It is a serious provocation that Gardner, like a psychopath, dare to bear the evil that dares our highest dignity.

“It is America’s misfortune that a man mixed in with human dirt like Gardner, who has lost basic judgement and body hair, could only spell misfortune for the United States.”

Obama:

In 2014, North Korea branded then-US President Barack Obama a “juvenile delinquent”, a “clown” and a “dirty fellow.” The North’s remarks verged on outright racism when they said Obama “still has the figure of monkey while the human race has evolved through millions of years.”

KCNA added that Obama “does not even have the basic appearances of a human being” and, in a particularly vile statement, called him: “a wicked black monkey”.

John Kerry:

Also in 2014, an unidentified North Korean spokesperson poetically described then-Secretary of State John Kerry a “wolf donning the mask of sheep” who had a “hideous lantern jaw.”

Hillary Clinton:

Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, was described in 2009 as “by no means intelligent” and a “funny lady”.

“Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping,” an unnamed North Korean source said.

Park Geun-Hye:

The reclusive regime has also made former South Korean President Park Geun-hye a popular target, alternately naming her as a “senile granny”, a “tailless, old, insane bitch”, and “a traitor for all times”.

George W Bush:

North Korea famously labeled Bush a “hooligan” who “looked like a chicken soaked in rain.”

Dick Cheney:

The former vice president was accused of being “a most cruel monster and bloody-thirsty beast.” Yet no jokes about his aim.

Donald Rumsfeld

The North blasted Rummy, labeling him a “political dwarf” and “human scum.”

If there’s an upside to the US’s reluctance to foment regime change in the North, it’s that North Korea’s leader, and its ministry of propaganda, will probably keep churning out these colorful little nuggets.
 

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Mainstream Media ‘Triggered’ Over Trump Sovereignty Talk, Claims ‘America First’ Idea Is Russian Propaganda

September 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Alex Thomas via SHTFplan.com,
In yet another example of obvious disinformation being pushed by the establishment media, noted liar and MSNBC host Brian Williams took to the airwaves Wednesday to complain about the presidents use of the word…

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Why The German Elections Matter, And Not Just For Germany

September 23, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

With just hours to go before the German election, Angela Merkel looks set to remain Chancellor for a record fourth term. This suggests largely unchanged economic policies, focusing on fiscal prudence and conditional steps towards European integration. However, with new political winds clouding the outlook for globalization, trade relationships and security in Europe, and with lingering questions on the sustainability of the EMU, Germany can ill afford to rest on its laurels, according to SocGen. The CDU’s choice of coalition partner(s) will be crucial, with the SDP, FDP and the Greens in a good position to exert concessions. The new government will need to show leadership on domestic reform, thereby maintaining pressure on other euro area countries, while supporting structurally stronger wage growth, not least to support the ECB’s QE exit. To strengthen euro area resilience, there is also a need for progress on the Banking Union and fiscal integration in the coming years, all pieces of a possible future political integration. With Brexit, Germany will also face the task of ensuring a smooth transition and defining the direction of the EU. Merkel’s choices over the coming four years may thus define her legacy more than any previous terms.

Courtesy of WorldView, here is a preview of what to expect this Sunday, and why the German elections matter, and not just for Germany.

Highlights:

  • Germany’s Sept. 24 election will likely result in one of the most fragmented parliaments the country has seen in decades.
  • The country’s two largest parties will try to avoid renewing their current coalition partnership, meaning smaller parties will play a big role in the formation of the next government.
  • The ideological composition of the new administration will affect negotiations to reform the European Union, and when it comes to Southern Europe’s proposals for reform, a center-right coalition would be more skeptical than a center-left coalition.

Germany is heading into the final weeks of a fairly uneventful campaign season. There is little chance of a major nationalist or Euroskeptic victory, and opinion polls have remained steady. Although the runup to the Sept. 24 election has been relatively quiet, major repercussions, both domestic and international, could follow in its wake. The big question — both for Germans and fellow members of the European Union — is what form the final distribution of seats in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, will take. The answer will determine not only the possible combination of parties that will form a German government coalition, but also shape the direction that much-needed reforms to the European bloc will take.

Chaotic Coalitions

For the past four years, Germany has been governed by a ruling coalition made up of the country’s two largest parties: the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the progressive Social Democratic Party (SPD), led by former EU Parliament President Martin Schulz. Though the two parties have been able to work together, their policies and outlook differ, and neither is eager to find itself in the same coalition after the dust of the national election settles. The CDU and SPD will both be looking to form agreements with the country’s smaller political parties — four of which are in close competition to be the third-most-powerful party in Germany: the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP); the environmentalist The Greens; the left-wing The Left; and the Euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD). If the most recent opinion polls true and all four earn enough votes to enter the legislature, Germany would face its most fragmented parliament in decades.

Based on previous postelection negotiations, which lasted a month in 2009 and three months in 2013, German policymakers could again take months to settle on a new government. In the meantime, the country would operate under a caretaker government as the parties hammer out functional alliances. And though the CDU and SPD are angling to avoid a repeat of their current coalition paring, it remains a possibility. Another option, if the newly elected parliament struggles to coalesce, would be the formation of a minority government, in which one party governs alone, supported by other parties on a case-by-case basis. Given Germany’s consensus-driven political environment, this would be an unusual step, but it is not out the question.

What’s at Stake for Europe

In Germany, unlike in recent French and Dutch elections, there is little risk that the government will include nationalist or Euroskeptic forces. The AfD likely will win a handful of seats in the Bundestag, but other parties for the most part will refuse to cooperate with it. Meanwhile, The Left will also struggle to find partners, though it could possibly become a member of a broad center-left alliance. But while the German election doesn’t pose the same threat to the stability of the eurozone as did the French or Dutch elections, the next German government’s composition will play an important role in determining the future of the European Union.

Over the past decade, a combination of economic crises and strong nationalist sentiments made institutional reform in the European Union impossible. Now that most member states are growing again, and as the 2017 electoral season is reaching its end, the political environment for reform has become more favorable. Furthermore, last year’s Brexit referendum convinced most EU members and institutions that reforms are necessary to revitalize the bloc after years of shocks.

As the biggest economy in Europe, Germany will play a significant role in EU reform negotiations. Thus, the ideological composition of its government will be a crucial piece of the reform puzzle. In recent weeks, France, Italy and Spain each have made reform proposals, including plans to increase blocwide investment and introduce risk-sharing measures in the eurozone. Italy and Spain have even proposed issuing debt that is jointly backed by all the members of the eurozone. Meanwhile, France said that it will hold off on additional proposals for the eurozone until after the German election, so that Paris and Berlin can discuss the plans together.

Whoever has control in Germany’s parliament will influence the negotiations and eventual compromises made between the northern and southern blocs of the eurozone. If the election results in a center-right coalition led by the CDU, the government would probably take a skeptical view of plans presented by Southern Europe. A center-left coalition led by the SDP, meanwhile, would be more open to them. But regardless of who is in charge, Germany and other Northern European countries will be reluctant to share risk with their Southern European counterparts. Even though Berlin is not entirely opposed to Southern Europe’s proposals, it will almost certainly request tighter control of fiscal policies in the eurozone — a concession that Southern European countries will resist.

The makeup of the next coalition in Berlin will also influence debates on a variety of other EU issues. For example, Germany falls well short of NATO’s goal that its members spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, and the CDU is more willing to increase military spending than the SPD. When it comes to Brexit, most German parties align on a few things: they are in favor of reaching a deal with the United Kingdom, and they agree that the bloc’s future relationship with London should include fewer benefits than EU membership would have granted. However, London would prefer a CDU-led government to one led by the SPD, given Schulz’s background as former EU Parliament president and his strong defense of the bloc and its institutions.

And it’s not just the two big parties that will affect continental affairs. Depending on the Cabinet positions they are given, junior coalition partners could also shape some of Berlin’s decisions. The FDP, for example, would probably resist the kinds of protectionist moves that France is proposing, while The Left would push for strong government spending and higher taxes for corporations. These parties’ abilities to shape policy will of course be limited, but they should not be completely disregarded.

Germany Tackles a Challenging Future

Beyond the larger concerns of the European Union, Germany is also facing a number of long-term domestic challenges. And while discussion of those issues has been largely absent in the electoral campaign so far, the country will eventually to have reckon with them.

The German economy has grown at a decent pace in recent years, and unemployment is at record lows. However, as a member of the eurozone, Germany could still be harmed by developments in other countries. For example, the bailout program that helped Greece stabilize its economy is set to expire in mid-2018, and Athens likely will request help to reduce the burden of its sovereign debt. This idea is controversial in Germany, and the FDP has even suggested that Greece leave the eurozone in exchange for debt relief. The Italian general election in early 2018 offers further challenges. There is a real chance that Italian votes will put a euroskeptic government in power, which would create a major roadblock to eurozone reforms.

Germany’s stability could take also hits for reasons more within its control, as the country’s export-driven economy faces pressure from its main trade partners. Southern European countries want Berlin to increase domestic spending to boost imports, and the United States has repeatedly criticized Germany’s massive trade surplus. A more protectionist stance by the United States, Germany’s main trade partner outside the eurozone, could damage German exports. Moreover, Germany’s flagship industry — its automotive sector — may need to readapt its business model as it faces competition from new technologies and foreign vehicle manufacturers as well as the aftermath of the “dieselgate” emissions test-rigging scandal.

Finally, Germany faces two complex demographic challenges. The first is that its society is becoming more diverse, due to migration from other EU countries and specifically the recent influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East. This surge in immigration has in turn led to the emergence of nationalist and anti-immigration groups, and though they aren’t as strong as those in other countries like France, they are a growing concern. The second challenge is the country’s low fertility rates and high life expectancy. The German population will become older and potentially smaller in the coming decades, putting extra pressure on Germany’s health care and pension systems and also possibly causing a labor shortage.

The pressing issues surrounding the Sept. 24 elections will be primarily related to the makeup of the ruling coalition and how that coalition will handle the impending reforms to the European Union. But slippery economic and demographic issues will not disappear, and no matter which party leads the country for the next four years, it will eventually have to face these challenges.

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Mark Hanson Warns, Housing Affordability Never Worse… By A Long-Shot

September 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Mark Hanson via MHanson.com,
Bottom Lines: 

The income required to buy a median priced builder house has been more diverged from fundamental, end-user, mortgage-needing, shelter-buyer cohort income (purchasing power), which is why bui…

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Porsche And Mercedes Plot Musk Offensive With “Anything Tesla Can Do, We Can Do Better” Strategy

September 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Tesla you have a problem, well several actually.

But, before we get into all the competition that is about to flood your market, lets take a look at some basic math surrounding your valuation.  Ford currently generates roughly $1,800 of EBITDA per vehicle and trades at a total enterprise value of $35 billion, roughly 3x their median EBITDA forecast for 2017.

Now, clearly Tesla is a way better company than Ford could ever dream to be…but, just for fun, lets consider what kind of sales volumes Tesla will eventually have to achieve in order to grow into its current valuation of $66 billion (roughly 2x that of Ford mind you).  If we assume that even a mature Tesla should trade at 2 times the prevailing Ford multiple, or 6x EBITDA, that implies that Tesla needs to generate about $11 billion of annual EBITDA once it hits maturity.  Now, if Ford can generate $1,800 of EBITDA per vehicle then surely Tesla can find a way to do $3,000…which implies that Tesla’s current valuation requires 3.7 million of annual auto sales versus the 80,000 it managed to sell in 2016…or just over 45x it’s current run-rate.  To put that into perspective, BMW sells roughly 2.4 million cars per year.

And while we don’t like to be nitpicky, that doesn’t even include the billions of dollars worth of negative cash flow that Tesla would have to incur to reach those sales volumes or the pesky effects of compounding, both of which would make the valuation even more bleak.

Meanwhile, achieving 3.7 million in annual sales would be a daunting task even if every other luxury auto maker in the world weren’t looking to viciously attack your market, which, unfortunately for Tesla shareholders, they are.  As Bloomberg notes, Daimler recently announced plans to spend $1 billion to ramp up electric car production at their plant in Alabama.

Daimler AG plans to spend $1 billion to start production of Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles at its Alabama factory, setting the world’s largest luxury-car maker up to battle with battery-car specialist Tesla Inc. on its home turf.

 

The German automaker will build its fifth battery plant globally and create more than 600 jobs in the region, the company said Thursday in a statement. The Alabama factory will assemble electric sport utility vehicles, taking on Tesla’s Model X and making Stuttgart-based Daimler the first European company to assemble plug-in autos in the U.S.

 

“We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary at our production facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and we’re taking this as an opportunity to expand the operation and further fuel growth,” production chief Markus Schaefer said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “We’re very confident for future growth in the U.S. in the long-term. ”

 

Daimler’s investment shows the carmaker’s shift to electric vehicles is taking shape. The German manufacturer is also in talks to expand its Denza joint venture with BYD Co. in China with additional models, Chairman Wang Chuanfu told a group of reporters in the southern Chinese city on Thursday.

As Sanford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton noted, the investment is all part of Mercedes’ “anything Tesla can do, we can do better” strategy.

The company is pursuing an “anything Tesla can do, we can do better” strategy, Sanford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said in a recent note to investors. “Mercedes is convinced it can match Tesla battery costs, beat its manufacturing and procurement costs, ramp up production faster and have better quality. It is also confident its cars will drive better.”

Mercedes

 

Meanwhile, Porsche is even closer to launching competitive, all-electric vehicles with the “Mission E” scheduled to hit dealer floors by the end of 2019.

While automakers have been not-so-quietly making promises to catch up to the likes of Tesla when it comes to electric vehicle range, a sports car maker may be the first to beat the startup at its own game. A production version of the 2015 Porsche Mission E electric concept is scheduled to go on sale at the end of 2019, with a price expected to start in the $80,000 – $90,000 range, according to CAR Magazine.

 

That apparently means in performance terms, too. Unlike Porsche’s current range of hybrids the Mission E won’t be offered with any internal combustion engine assistance. And yet the concept promised a 0–60 time of less than 3.5 seconds and a top speed of around 155 mph through a dual-motor setup that also allows for all-wheel drive. While a Tesla Model S P100D may beat it off the the line in its most ludicrous of modes, the Porsche would ultimately keep up on an unrestricted stretch of Autobahn. Yet like Tesla, Blume says Porsche will offer the Mission E with different power levels, so your “basic” $90,000 version may not be quite as powerful.

 

Blume also didn’t rule out expanding the Mission E range to include other styles, which may include a coupe or wagon or SUV. Porsche may be known for sports cars, but its Cayenne SUV has been pretty successful over the years. And being part of the vast Volkswagen Group that has promised to electrify everything by 2030, a slew of electric-only Porsches by then wouldn’t be so surprising.

 

Perhaps Tesla shareholders are starting to realize that the jig is up…or is this just another blip on the way to an inevitable $100 billion valuation?

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Weekend Reading: Yellen Takes Away The Punchbowl

September 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,
September 20th, 2017 will likely be a day that goes down in market history.
It will either be remembered as one of the greatest achievements in the history of monetary policy experiments, or the b…

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John McCain Kills GOP’s Last Ditch Efffort To Repeal Obamacare

September 22, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Third time turned out to be unlucky after all.

Earlier today, Sen. Susan Collins said that she has serious concerns about the latest GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as Republicans prepare to vote on the legislation next week, adding that she was “leaning against the bill… I’m just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine.”  And with Collins voicing against the bill, it meant that GOP leadership would be left with no room for error if they want to get their last-ditch ObamaCare repeal bill through the Senate next week.

The math is simple: Republicans have 52 seats and need 50 senators to support the bill, which would require Vice President Pence to break a tie, under the special budget rules being used to avoid a Democratic filibuster.  Sen. Rand Paul has already said he will vote against the legislation.

Which meant that losing just one more vote would mean the end of this latest attempt to repeal Obamacare.

They lost it moments ago when John McCain said in a statement that “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal.

And with the GOP’s final attempt to pass Obamacare repeal before the end of the month now history, the market sighed a collective breath of relief, sending the managed care index soaring as the status quo is now assured to remain indefinitely.

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