Category: News Items

Teachers’ Retirement Funds are Piling into Manhattan Real Estate at Record High Prices

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 11.55.34 AMRather than buying equity interests in buildings, TIAA-CREF and KTCU are seeking to invest in mortgages backed by office towers, retail properties, warehouses and apartments in major U.S. cities. The venture between the two companies, which manage teachers’ savings in their respective countries, is 51 percent owned by TIAA-CREF and 49 percent held by Seoul-based KTCU.

“You invest in a huge office tower in New York because you want a safe place to put your money and a decent return,” over the long-term, he said. “This is more a capital preservation play than it is a capital appreciation play.”

– From the Bloomberg article: Manhattan Towers Lure Koreans in $1 Billion Joint Venture

As soon as I woke up this morning, I saw an email from a very smart friend of mine in the finance industry. He forwarded me an article from the New York Post, about how TIAA-CREF had paid $3,158 per square foot for a building in the Meatpacking area of Manhattan (a record for the area), which isn’t far from where I lived for several years in the mid-2000s.

For those of you who aren’t aware, TIAA-CREF stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund. According to the company’s own website, it:

We specialize in the distinctive needs of those who work in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. We’re here to listen to you, to advise you, and to help you feel confident about making financial decisions.

So it essentially manages the investments of people who know the least about investing, i.e., muppets. As such, it came as no surprise that TIAA-CREF might serve as an important bag-holding vehicle for bubble assets just before a fall, tempted by juicy 4% yields. As my friend noted: “In other words, teachers and nurses are shattering property records to fund their retirement.”

Here are some excerpts from the article:

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Pure Hypocrisy – As Government Spies on Millions of Americans’ Cars, Police Want Google to Ban Cop Tracking Feature on App

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 4.02.19 PMSometime last year, a friend introduced me to the Waze App, which Google had purchased for $966 million in 2013. I immediately thought the concept was awesome, particularly the feature that allows users to crowdsource information on where police are stationed. Considering how dangerous interactions with police have become, with theft or death being an increasingly real possibility, the idea seemed helpful.

Well fast forward a few months, and we find out that several sheriffs are actively campaigning to make Google disable the feature. This is simply incredible to me, since this would effectively be a ban on people informing each other voluntarily where police may be present. A ban on the exchange of information between citizens.

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Meet the Extreme Super Rich – A List of the 80 People Who Own as Much as the World’s Poorest 3.6 Billion

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 1.41.05 PMBefore I get into the meat of this post, I want to make it clear that the definition of oligarch, a term I use a lot, does not center solely around money.

Late last year, in the post Inside the Mind of an Oligarch – Sheldon Adelson Proclaims “I Don’t Like Journalism,” I attempted to frame the word oligarch as I use it. I wrote the following:

In a nutshell, while many oligarchs are extremely wealthy (or have access to extreme wealth), not all people with extreme wealth are oligarchs. The term oligarch is reserved for those with extreme wealth who also want to control the political process, policy levers and most other aspects of the lives of the citizenry in a top-down tyrannical and undemocratic manner. They think they know best about pretty much everything, and believe unelected technocrats who share their worldview should be empowered so that they can unilaterally make all of society’s important decisions. The unwashed masses (plebs) in their minds are unnecessary distractions who must to be told what to do. Useless eaters who need to be brainwashed into worshipping the oligarch mindset, or turned into apathetic automatons incapable or unwilling to engage in critical thought. Either outcome is equally acceptable and equally encouraged.

With that out of the way, Five-Thirty-Eight provided the following:

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Comcast Cronyism – How Politicians are Sending Letters Written by Comcast to the FCC as Evidence of Grassroots Support for Time Warner Merger

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.55.08 AMOn August 21st, 2014, Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, Georgia, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission expressing emphatic support for Comcast’s controversial effort to merge with Time Warner Cable. Not only did the mayor’s letter express personal excitement for the gargantuan deal — which critics say will create a monopoly that will harm millions of consumers — but it also claimed that the entire town of Roswell adored Comcast. “When Comcast makes a promise to act, it is comforting to know that they will always follow through,” Wood’s letter explained. “This is the type of attitude that makes Roswell proud to be involved with such a company,” the letter asserts, “our residents are happy with the services it has provided and continues to provide each day.”

Yet Wood’s letter made one key omission: Neither Wood nor anyone representing Roswell’s residents wrote his letter to the FCC. Instead, a vice president of external affairs at Comcast authored the missive word for word in Mayor Wood’s voice. According to email correspondence obtained through a public records request, the Republican mayor’s office apparently added one sign-off sentence and his signature to the corporate PR document, then sent it to federal regulators on the official letterhead of Roswell, Georgia.

– From The Verge article: Exclusive: Politicians are Supporting Comcast’s TWC Merger with Letters Ghostwritten by Comcast

So what does a mega corporation do when there’s no grassroots support for a mega merger? Invent grassroots support, naturally.

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Edward Snowden Won’t Use an iPhone – Here’s Why

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.12.43 PM Cell phones are tracking devices that make phone calls.

– Jacob Appelbaum

The above line is one of my favorite quotes describing the current world we inhabit. A succinct description of modern civilization; a place where global connectivity has never been greater, but neither has warrantless surveillance.

With that in mind, here’s what Snowden had to say about the iPhone. From Yahoo:

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As the Middle Class Evaporates, Global Oligarchs Plan Their Escape from the Impoverished Pleb Masses

The middle class has shrunk consistently over the past half-century. Until 2000, the reason was primarily because more Americans moved up the income ladder. But since then, the reason has shifted: There is a greater share of households on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.

– From yesterday’s New York Times article: Middle Class Shrinks Further as More Fall Out Instead of Climbing Up

At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.

– From the Guardian’s article: As Inequality Soars, the Nervous Super Rich are Already Planning Their Escapes

So the other day, President Barack Obama once again demonstrated his contempt for the American public by using his State of the Union address to pejoratively blurt out meaningless phrases such as “but tonight, we turn the page” and: “The verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.”

Sorry, but why are “we turning the page” tonight? Weren’t you elected over six years ago? Why didn’t you turn the page in 2009?

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A Ruthless Tyrant Dies in the Desert and Western Leaders Trample Over Each Other to Sing His Praises

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 11.29.18 AMThe Saudi regime has come under severe criticism here at Liberty Blitzkrieg over the last couple of years for several reasons. First, more and more evidence has emerged concerning Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks of 9/11. A role that both the Bush and Obama administrations have gone out of their way to conceal. In late 2013, I published a post titled, Two Congressmen Push for Release of 28-Page Document Showing Saudi Involvement in 9/11. Here are some excerpts:

But earlier this year, Reps. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., were given access to the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry (JICI) of 9/11 issued in late 2002, which have been thought to hold some answers about the Saudi connection to the attack.

“I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” Jones told International Business Times. “What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly.”

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Oligarch Justice – Powerful Pedophiles Roam Free as Barrett Brown Returns to Jail

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.42.04 PMIf Dershowitz was a good friend to Epstein, he was a better lawyer. Along with a dream team of attorneys that included Gerald Lefcourt, Roy Black, and Ken Starr, he was successful in getting federal investigators not to charge Epstein with moving his victims across state lines and other associated crimes. The federal non-prosecution agreement Epstein’s legal team negotiated with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida immunized all named and unnamed “potential co-conspirators” in Epstein’s child trafficking network, which includes those who allegedly procured minors for Epstein and also any powerbrokers who may have molested them. Although Dershowitz wasn’t a signatory to the plea agreement, the latest filings in Roberts’s case against Epstein accuse Dershowitz of essentially negotiating his own immunity.

From the Gawker article: Flight Logs Put Clinton, Dershowitz on Pedophile Billionaire’s Sex Jet

Today was a very big day for journalist, activist and American political prisoner Barrett Brown. Though he was supposed to be sentenced last month (see: Political Prisoner Barrett Brown to Be Sentenced Tomorrow – Why the Result Matters to Freedom in America), it was delayed until today.

Tragically, he was ultimately sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for some relatively innocuous offenses. For those of us who have been following this saga for several years, it is abundantly clear that Barrett is being punished for exposing the shady behavior of some powerful people within the intelligence-industrial complex. He is one of several people (Aaron Swartz, Thomas Drake, Private Manning, and Julian Assange) who have been aggressively targeted, not for what they have done, but rather for their ability to embarrass and expose the evils of the rich and powerful.

It’s quite fitting that on the same day Barrett is sentenced to an additional three years in jail (he has already served 28 months), Nick Bryant over at Gawker writes a very interesting piece about all of the high profile people who not only befriended, but also repeatedly took flights with, pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Before I get into the meat of this piece, I want to make it clear that just because certain people were on these flights doesn’t mean they committed any crimes (although it certainly shows horrible judgement of character). Nevertheless, some people mentioned clearly did commit crimes, and when you see how easily these people got off, compared to say Barrett Brown, you’ll see what a sad joke American “justice” has become.

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The Dissident Dad – A Child’s First Exposure to Protestors

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.32.41 PM“Black Lives Matter” read clearly in large bold letters across several handmade signs at the Austin State Capitol building this past Saturday. My wife and I had been looking for something to do, and ultimately decided to take a tour of the Capitol building, have a picnic on the grass, and stroll around downtown Austin. Little did we know a planned protest was scheduled, which filled up the State Capitol building with fellow anarchists and libertarians, as well as plenty of communists, socialists, and black power enthusiasts. My kids asked what was going on. There was yelling, a higher than normal police presence (although nothing like we’ve seen in other cities), and people running around with large signs.

My instinctive reaction was a mix between annoyance and anger. I don’t like seeing advertisements for further tyranny; like communist logos, socialist demands, and of course, a call for the very statists that have caused all our problems to introduce new laws. However, before I answered my children’s questions as to who they are, what they are doing, and why they are mad, I took a split second to think it through. My answer was that these are people mad at the government because they feel like the government is picking on them for their skin color.

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Freedom of Speech? Boston Mayor Bans Bad Mouthing of Olympics, as Facebook Will Filter Out “Fake News”

In case you need a refresher, here’s the text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Apparently, this doesn’t apply to the Mayor of Boston when it comes to silencing the speech of public employees who may not like that the Olympics may be coming to town.

The Boston Globe reports that:

If you’re a Boston city employee, there’s now an official decree: don’t badmouth the Olympics.

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