MEDIA HALL OF SHAME: CNN’S CHRIS CUOMO HAS A PROBLEM WITH FREE SPEECH

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Compares drawing Muhammad with saying the N-word

by TRUTH REVOLT | TREY SANCHEZ | MAY 30, 2015

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a Fordham law school graduate and winner of multiple News Emmy awards, is the feature journalist in this week’s Media Hall of Shame for his utter ignorance in interpreting the First Amendment.

It seemed as though his campaign for the month of May was to shred the Constitution and attack anyone willing to fully exercise their freedom of speech. Of course when it came to his own freedom of speech, he proved to be much more lenient, as highlighted below.

Kicking off the month, Cuomo warned Baltimore protestors live on air not to provoke the police, saying, “You know how they are.” Breitbart‘s John Nolte pointed out that Cuomo was caught red handed sowing “seeds of hate” while covering the unrest. Cuomo defended himself via Facebook saying he was taken out of context. Yet in the process, he misquoted himself insisting that he said, “That’s how they are.” But in fact that is not at all what he said, and the transcripts provided not only by Nolte, but by his own network, prove it.

“The implication was obvious,” Nolte concluded.

Days later, Cuomo was busy coming down on others by spreading the idea that hate speech is not protected under the First Amendment. When interviewing Rep. Steve King (R-IA) after the Draw Muhammad contest in Garland, Texas, the CNN host wondered if free speech was used as a “cover to poke Islam in the eye” during that event.

The very next day, Cuomo was on the receiving end of a Twitter spanking after he erroneously claimed that hate speech is “excluded by protection” under the First Amendment. Hoping to add credence to his interpretation, he challenged others to not “just say you love the constitution… read it.” His Twitter feed was subsequently inundated with people who indeed have read the Constitution and proceeded to illuminate this law school graduate. “Can you point to where this free speech ‘exception’ is in US Constitution?” someone tweeted. He could not.

Though during the volley on Twitter he tried to clarify that he was referring to hate speech as per the “Chaplinsky” or “fighting words” doctrine, Cuomo ultimately acquiesced in a statement via Facebook saying, “It was a clumsy tweet. I got caught up in a back and forth… Of course hate speech is almost always protected by the First Amendment.”

Just this week, Cuomo continued leveling his hate speech accusations at Pamela Gellar, host of the Draw Muhammad contest, claiming that drawing Islam’s prophet is as bad as saying the N-word. Gellar intended on placing the winning drawing by Bosch Fawstin on Washington D.C. transit buses. Cuomo slammed this idea as just another provocation and asked Gellar why she felt it was “right” to do so, even if protected by the First Amendment. Gellar insisted that there is no “but” when it comes to free speech and accused Cuomo of kowtowing to fear and supporting Sharia law. In the end, the D.C. transit authority shut down Gellar’s plans by suspending all political ads from buses through the end of the year, thus making another profound statement against America’s first freedom.

By Friday, Cuomo was busy as ever, once again on Twitter defending his take on free speech:

ANOTHER HOUSING COLLAPSE LOOMS OVER HORIZON

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Rigged 37% price increase has priced millions of people out of the market

by JIM QUINN | THE BURNING PLATFORM | MAY 30, 2015

It’s always interesting to see a long term chart that reflects your real life experiences.

I bought my first home in 1990. It was a small townhouse and I paid $100k, put 10% down, and obtained a 9.875% mortgage. I was thrilled to get under 10%. Those were different times, when you bought a home as a place to live. We had our first kid in 1993 and started looking for a single family home. We stopped because our townhouse had declined in value to $85k, so I couldn’t afford to sell. In 1995 I convinced my employer to rent my townhouse, as they were already renting multiple townhouses for all the foreigners doing short term assignments in the U.S. We bought a single family home in 1995 with the sole purpose of having a decent place to raise a family that was within 20 minutes of my job.

Considering home prices on an inflation adjusted basis were lower than they were in 1980, I was certainly not looking at it as some sort of investment vehicle. But, as you can see from the chart, nationally prices soared by about 55% between 1995 and 2005. My home supposedly doubled in value over 10 years. I was ecstatic when I was eventually able to sell my townhouse in 2004 for $134k. I felt so smart, until I saw a notice in the paper one year later showing my old townhouse had been sold again for $176k. Who knew there were so many greater fools.

This was utterly ridiculous, as home prices over the last 100 years have gone up at the rate of inflation. Robert Shiller and a few other rational thinking people called it a bubble. They were scorned and ridiculed by the whores at the NAR and the bimbo cheerleaders on CNBC. Something smelled rotten in the state of housing. We now know who was responsible. Greenspan and Bernanke were at least 75% responsible for the housing bubble and its eventual implosion, which essentially destroyed our economic system. They purposely kept interest rates at obscenely low levels, encouraging every Tom, Dick and Julio to buy a home with a negative amortization, no doc, nothing down, adjustable rate mortgage, so they could live the American dream of being in debt up to their eyeballs.

Greenspan and Bernanke were also responsible for regulating the Wall Street banks. They allowed them to leverage themselves 30 to 1. They allowed them to create fraudulent high risk mortgage products. They looked the other way as Wall Street sliced and diced these guaranteed to default mortgages into AAA rated derivatives that were then spread throughout the global financial system like ticking time bombs. As home prices rose three standard deviations above the long term average, these Ivy League educated geniuses cheered it all on. Bernanke saw no bubble, just as it was bursting. He saw no mal-investment or systematic risk from this orgy of greed and fraud. And then it all blew up in our faces, while the perpetrators walked away unscathed to pillage and rape once more.

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And now we come to present day and something really smells fishy again. Home prices crashed by 40% between 2005 and 2012, putting prices back to 1978 on an inflation adjusted basis. All of the bubble gains were wiped out in the blink of an eye. Bernanke and his Wall Street owners had a real problem with this development. Wall Street banks had/have billions in toxic mortgages on their books and only accounting fraud by not having to mark them to market has kept these banks from having to declare bankruptcy. Bernanke, Geithner, and the Wall Street banks hatched their master plan to save themselves at the expense of young people in 2011/2012.

We know for a fact that real median household income is still 7% below 2007 levels and sits at the same level as 1989. We know for a fact that wages have been stagnant since 2007. We know for a fact GDP has barely broken 2% since 2009. We know for a fact the price of healthcare, food, energy, tuition, rent, and a myriad of other daily living expenses are dramatically higher since 2009. We know mortgage originations are at 1997 levels. We know housing starts are 60% below the 2005 highs and at levels seen during the 1991 and 1981 recessions. Existing home sales are 30% below the 2005 high, only up 10% from 2012 levels, and sitting at levels reached in 1999 before the boom.

A critical thinking person might wonder how median single family home prices could possibly skyrocket by 37% in the last three years when household incomes are falling, living expenses rising, and the number of houses being sold are at recessionary levels. The stinking rotting fish again sits in the hallways of the Eccles Building in Washington D.C. Janet “Yellowfish” Yellen has inherited the bubble blowing machine from Ben “Blowfish” Bernanke and has continued to inflate a new housing bubble, because one housing bubble just isn’t enough.

There is nothing free market about the 37% increase in home prices. It has absolutely nothing to do with supply and demand. It has nothing to do with normal families looking for a home. It has everything to do with the Federal Reserve’s 0% interest rates, the $3.5 trillion of QE injected into the economic gambling system, Wall Street banks withholding foreclosures from the market, hedge funds buying up tens of thousands of foreclosed homes and renting them out to the former middle class, Fannie and Freddie guaranteeing 70% of all sales, the government encouraging 3.5% subprime loans again, Chinese and Russian billionaires parking their ill gotten wealth in US real estate, and flippers reappearing in the same old places (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Florida, California).

The Federal Reserve created the last housing bubble and they’ve created the new housing bubble, along with stock and bond bubbles, with their easy money policies designed to enrich their Wall Street owners and the parasites who feed off the financial industry. Their entire plan smells to high heaven. They have thrown young people and most of the middle class overboard, while the bankers, billionaires, politicians, and connected cronies party like it was 2005 on their $250 million yachts.

Now what? The Fed says they are going to raise rates. The QE spigot has been turned off. The hedge funds are selling their buy and rent hovel investments, cash buyers are dwindling, the flippers who appeared in 2005 are back, Boomers are looking to sell and downsize, young people are already in debt up to their eyeballs thanks to the government doling out student loans like candy, the number of full-time good paying jobs continue to dwindle, and the rigged 37% price increase has priced millions of people out of the market.

The good news is the Wall Street banks have inflated their balance sheets and celebrated by giving themselves $20 billion in bonuses for a job well done. If mortgage rates rise to 4% or God forbid 5%, the entire housing complex would implode faster than a blowfish out of water. If you’ve bought in the last two years you will be underwater sleeping with the fishes like Luca Brasi in the not too distant future.

This post originally appeared at the Burning Platform.

RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT HEAD OFF AMERICAN DESTROYER IN BLACK SEA

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U.S. destroyer Ross was moving along the edge of Russia’s territorial waters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian military aircraft were scrambled to head off a U.S. warship that was acting “aggressively” in the Black Sea, state news agency RIA reported on Saturday, citing an anonymous source in Russia’s armed forces in Crimea.

The source was quoted as saying that the U.S. destroyer Ross was moving along the edge of Russia’s territorial waters and heading in their direction.

“The crew of the ship acted provocatively and aggressively, which concerned the operators of monitoring stations and ships of the Black Sea Fleet,” RIA quoted the source as saying.

“Su-24 attack aircraft demonstrated to the American crew readiness to harshly prevent a violation of the frontier and to defend the interests of the country.”

Russia’s Defence Ministry was not immediately available to comment on the report.

The incident is the latest example of encounters between Russian and Western militaries, as tensions continue over the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, last year.

Earlier this month both Britain and Sweden said that they had scrambled fighters to intercept Russian bombers near their territory.

The United States said last month that it was filing a complaint to Russia over a Russian fighter’s “sloppy” and unsafe interception of a U.S. reconnaisance plane in international aerospace over the Baltic Sea.

(Reporting By Jason Bush; editing by Ralph Boulton)

ISIS THREATENS WORLD’S OIL LIFELINE

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Potentially catastrophic attack on Iraqi oil refinery

Opec under siege as Isil threatens world’s oil lifeline

As the bloc’s 12 oil ministers meet in Vienna, the march of Isil jihadists in the Middle East is putting Iran and Saudi Arabia on a collision course with explosive consequences

By Andrew Critchlow

Thick black smoke rising from the Baiji oil refinery could be seen as a dirty smudge on the horizon as far away as Baghdad after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) set fire to the enormous processing plant just over 100 miles north of the capital last week.

The decision to torch the refinery, which once produced around a third of Iraq’s domestic fuel supplies, was made as the insurgents prepared to pull out of Baiji, which they captured last June in a victory that sent shock waves across world oil markets.

A year on from the start of the siege and a shaky alliance of the Middle East’s major Arab powers, with the limited support of the reluctant US government, has failed to contain the expansion of Isil.

The problem for the US and the rest of the industrialised world is that the Middle East controls 60pc of proven oil reserves and with it the keys to the global economy. Should Isil capture a major oil field in Iraq, or overwhelming the government, the consequences for energy markets and the financial system would be potentially catastrophic.

Many of the countries most threatened by the onslaught of the extremist group, which has grown out of the chaos of Syria but was initially dismissed as a wider threat to regional stability, will gather at the end of this week in Vienna for the meetings of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iraq – which together account for two thirds of the cartel’s production – are all now affected by the inexorable march of the Isil jihadists but appear powerless to prevent it due to the widening sectarian schism between the Sunni and Shia Muslims across the region in the wake of the Arab spring uprisings five years ago.

Oil ministers gathering to decide on production levels at Opec’s secretariat building in Vienna will normally stay clear of wider geopolitical issues during their deliberations in the Austrian capital. However, the threat posed by Isil and its brutal brand of Islamist extremism is likely to force politics onto the agenda. It certainly can no longer be ignored.

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According to Daniel Yergin, the energy expert and vice-chairman of IHS, the business information provider, the biggest threat to oil prices is the political chaos that threatens to engulf the Middle East, combined with the West’s reluctance to intervene.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Yergin argued that the price of a barrel of oil could skyrocket to levels above $100 per barrel if Isil is allowed to press deeper into Iraq, the second-largest producer in the cartel after Saudi Arabia.

“Isil presents a whole new reality for the region, which just isn’t reflected in the oil market at the moment,” said Mr Yergin. “It’s an increasingly grave situation for most of Opec and the Middle East. At some point the security issues will start to come back into the price of oil.”

Up to this point, oil markets have shrugged off the risk of a major supply disruption caused by the worsening security situation. Traders have remained focused on the market fundamentals that almost 2m barrels per day (bpd) of excess oil capacity will be more than enough to absorb any supply-driven shock. A rally in the price of Brent crude – a global benchmark – which began in January and saw prices push close to $70 per barrel has lost momentum amid signs that higher prices could revive drilling in the US. Just over six months ago when Opec’s 12 oil ministers last met in Vienna the cartel decided to continue pumping oil at a level of around 30m bpd, which effectively fired the first shots in an oil price war against shale drillers in North America, and Russia.

After almost a decade of oil prices ticking along at above $100 per barrel during which the group ignored the shale revolution taking place in the US, Opec decided to act last November. Under massive pressure from its most powerful member Saudi Arabia, the cartel allowed market forces to drag down oil prices. Initially, the strategy worked.

Within a month, oil prices had fallen to multi-year lows below $50 per barrel, sharply lower than the $115 year-high achieved last June when concern over the civil war in Syria caused a spike in prices. The sudden downturn in prices immediately had the desired effect on oil producers outside the Opec cartel.

“It’s an increasingly grave situation for most of Opec and the Middle East. At some point the security issues will start to come back into the price of oil.”

Daniel Yergin, IHS

In the US, oil companies began to shut down drilling rigs at a record rate. According to Baker Hughes, rig numbers have fallen for 24 straight weeks to 659 rigs as of last week compared with a record 1,609 rigs operating last October. In high-cost production areas such as the North Sea the impact of Opec’s decision to allow oil prices to fall naturally has shaken the industry to its core.

In his last budget of the Coalition government, George Osborne was forced to offer North Sea oil companies tax breaks to soften the blow of lower prices, while hundreds of jobs have been lost in Aberdeen.

“Opec has embarked on a strategy of leaving the oil price to the market and is willing it seems to allow the economics of supply and demand to take effect,” said Mr Yergin. “What is so startling is that geopolitics has been stripped out of the oil price for now but sooner or later it will be factored back in.”

Oil prices have gained roughly 30pc since the beginning of the year to trade at around $65 per barrel, with major banks and trading houses. However, traders have so far ignored the risks posed by Isil now to oil supplies, or the danger of a major terrorist attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Goldman Sachs has instead forecast that prices could again fall to $45 per barrel by October as US shale drilling picks up.

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According to Mr Yergin this analysis ignores the dire political situation in the Middle East and the US government’s reluctance to acknowledge the danger to the wider global economy. Many of these analysts have focused on the continuing glut of new oil supplies from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Both nations appear to be fighting for greater market share by filling the gap that is opening up in the oil market as higher cost production is shut down.

Swing producer Saudi Arabia is now pumping more than 10.3m bpd of crude, a record for the kingdom which maintains the capacity to produce up to 12m bpd if required. Despite the encroachment of Isil, which now controls the country’s largest province, Iraq has also dramatically increased its oil production over the past six months.

Iraq is poised to lift its exports by as much as 800,000 bpd to around 3.75m bpd next month as the government in Baghdad desperately tries to increase its revenues, which have been crippled by falling prices. In either case, a major terrorist attack on oil export facilities would shatter confidence and the notion that $100 oil is a thing of the past.

Although most of Iraq’s major oil fields are located in the south of the country, which are Shia Muslim heartlands, the failure of the Iraqi army to deal with the threat of Isil is a sign of their vulnerability to isolated attacks. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is in a virtual state of lockdown after the bombing by Isil militants of a Shia mosque in the oil-rich Eastern Province. The brutal attack, which appeared designed to provoke sectarian unrest in the kingdom, killed 21 worshippers and injured 80 others.

Saudi authorities have stepped up security at the country’s vast oil installations. The kingdom, which accounts for 12pc of global oil supply, is effectively under siege. To the north, jihadists threaten its borders from Iraq and Syria. In the south it launches air strikes against Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen but has so far failed to defeat the tribes, which have continued to make territorial gains.

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To add to the problems facing Saudi Arabia’s new ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, his kingdom is also facing insurgency from the so-called Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorist group which is intent on destabilising the regime.

Against this cataclysmic backdrop of bombs falling in Sana’a and with Isil literally at the gates of the major Iraqi city of Ramadi, many US energy and security experts were shocked to hear President Barack Obama ignore the danger in a recent keynote speech in which he pinpointed global warming as an equally big risk for Americans.

“Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security,” warned Mr Obama in a speech that many have criticised as symptomatic of the administration’s desire to disengage from the region which still provides a significant share of its oil.

Despite the growing focus on climate change and the campaign to limit fossil fuel production, Isil will be a bigger concern for the majority of oil ministers around Opec’s table next week.

The Obama administration’s reluctance to intervene marks the end of a US policy to protect the region’s oil which has remained in existence since President Franklin D Roosevelt first met with modern day Saudi Arabia’s founder King Abdulaziz in 1945. It was this commitment that drew America into the first Gulf War in 1991 and again in 2003 when it decided to bring down the curtain on Saddam Hussein’s regime.

However, Mr Obama’s lack of a viable alternative foreign policy for the region has put world energy markets at risk.

“How US national and foreign policy will integrate itself again with the region is unclear,” said Mr Yergin.

Washington’s determination to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran has arguably destabilised the region by placing Riyadh and Tehran on a collision course. Saudis are dismayed that Iranian military advisers are aiding the assault to recapture Ramadi, a city in Iraq’s Anbar Province which US forces fought so hard to secure 10 years ago.

Although Opec makes it a rule to stay away from politics, tensions between its 12 members are never far from the surface when they gather in Vienna. The organisation is one of the only remaining inter-governmental settings outside the United Nations where senior Saudi and Iranian officials can sit down together, which makes next week’s gathering potential dynamite.

“What is so startling is that geopolitics has been stripped out of the oil price for now but sooner or later it will be factored back in.”

Yergin

Iran opposed Saudi Arabia last November when the kingdom’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, insisted that the group should stand on the side lines and allow market forces to drive down the oil price in order to render high-cost oil such as US shale unprofitable. Years of sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy and eroded its oil industry, which has added to pressure on the regime to agree to a nuclear deal with America under any terms. However, Iran needs oil prices above $100 per barrel in order to support its Shia Muslim allies, including the Houthis fighting Saudi Arabia in Yemen, in the wider Middle East.

Insiders say Saudi Arabia will get its way once again in Vienna and expect Opec to agree to “roll over” their production settings. With vast foreign currency reserves Riyadh and its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf can weather the storm better than Iran, while the continuation of lower oil prices will limit Tehran’s ability to support Saudi’s enemies in Yemen.

The danger is that Isil has other plans.

REPORT: CHINA PLACES ARTILLERY ON DISPUTED ISLAND

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Artillery could pose a threat to nearby Vietnamese bases

SINGAPORE Vietnam’s deputy defense minister said on Saturday that reports China had placed mobile artillery weapons on a reclaimed island in the disputed South China Sea were, if true, a very worrying development.

“If it has actually happened it is a very bad sign for what is already a very complicated situation in the South China Sea,” General Nguyen Chi Vinh told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a security forum in Singapore.

The United States said on Friday that China had placed mobile artillery weapons on a reclaimed island in the disputed South China Sea. Analysts said the artillery could pose a threat to nearby Vietnamese bases, also on disputed territory.

The development was described by the Pentagon as one that creates more “uncertainty” in a situation that has grown increasingly tense over the past six months after satellite images showed significant land reclamation activities by China. The U.S. says the Chinese have added some 2,000 acres to five outposts in the resource-rich Spratly islands, including 1,500 acres this year.

China says the islands are in sovereign Chinese territory.

Vinh said he wanted all of the international community to work together to put a halt to China’s reclamation activities.

“I always hope that the international community will always be responsible for the peace, stability and development of the region and not ignore that act of violating international law,” he said.

On Friday, Vinh held a bilateral meeting with Admiral Sun Jianguo, a deputy chief of staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army, where he said he asked them to respect his country’s sovereignty.

“We are military people so we are very clear and very frank unlike diplomatic people,” he said.

“We were very clear of our position to maintain our sovereignty, to respect international law and to maintain responsibility between Vietnam and China”.

(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.