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Top Ten Greatest Male Players in Challenge History: No. 2 - Johnny Bananas

Honorable Mentions - Abram, Brad, Dan S., Jamie, Mike M., Theo V., Turbo, Wes
No. 10 - Alton Williams (Real World: Las Vegas)
No. 9 - Mark Long (Road Rules: USA - The First Adventure)
No. 8 - Darrell Taylor (Road Rules: Campus Crawl)
No. 7 - Derrick Kosinski (Road Rules: X-Treme)
No. 6 - Kenny Santucci (Fresh Meat)
No. 5 - Evan Starkman (Fresh Meat)
No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello (Real World: Paris)
No. 3 - Jordan Wiseley (Real World: Portland)
No. 2 - Johnny Bananas (Real World: Key West)
 
Bananas is the face of the Challenge franchise.
 
Bananas is the most popular player to ever play. He’s appeared on the most seasons ever (20). Although this statistic does nothing to boost the argument of why he’s considered one of the greatest ever, winning 6 of them certainly does. That’s more than anyone in the history of the show (Darrell comes in second place with 4, then there’s a handful of challengers with three).
 
Bananas non-believers may argue that his 6 wins come as a result of having more at bat attempts than anyone else by a large margin. That is indeed true, but the same non-believers also argue that he leads the Challenge in most elimination losses ever (13). This is where I come in and make the same counter-argument they made to his six championships: he’s appeared more than anyone else ever by a large margin, so it’s not the most ludicrous thing in the world that he’s lost more than anyone in the history of the show. That 10-13 elimination record could be a lot prettier sure, but I don’t think it’s enough to knock Bananas out of the G.O.A.T. tier. Why? Babe Ruth is in the G.O.A.T. tier of baseball. Babe Ruth led the MLB in home runs (similar to Johnny leading the Challenge in championship crowns), but he also led the league in strikeouts (epitomizing Johnny having the most losses in elimination rounds).
 
J.E.K.’s fourth horseman.
 
Johnny Bananas was the fourth and final piece to the J.E.K. dynasty, the greatest dynasty in Challenge history. Kenny and Evan were the clear leaders, Derrick was third, and Johnny was fourth in the hierarchy scale. Although Bananas was the least powerful of the four and had a troubled social game early in his career, the strength of the dynasty helped him reel in his first three championships.
 
Johnny’s social game on his first championship season, the Island, was ugly to watch. He called every girl on the Island a dumb bitch and bullied four of them (Evelyn, Kelly Anne, Robin, Tonya) throughout the entirety of the show. Half the island hated Johnny so much, he was almost sent home over Abram, who was begging everyone to vote him out because he had important business to take care of back home. Bananas barely escaped with a vote of 9-6. On the Island, Derrick had to throw one of the final face-offs for Johnny to get his second key after he had gotten his first one stolen (due to his poor behavior towards Evelyn). Evelyn was getting ready to steal his key again a second time, until Kenny’s political-social magic persuaded Evelyn to sell her soul to devil. Johnny shouldn’t have even won on the Island, let alone have a spot in one of the final boats. J.B.’s Island win was all of the dynasty’s doing. They controlled his fate because they had more power in the game.
 
In his second championship, The Ruins, Bananas had to prove his worth to the rest of the dynasty as a competitor. When the game dwindled down to only 4 male champions for the last male elimination, it was only JEK Dynasty members having to pick between one another on the Champions team. Derrick would’ve been the easy choice if you were going based off performance (since he was the sole reason the Champions had lost a mission earlier in the season and basically, Johnny had performed better as a team player up until that point), but Kenny and Evan still threw in Johnny into the last male Ruins. They respected Derrick more. J.B. ended up going in and winning his first career elimination against the last remaining challenger male, Dunbar, in a physical game. I would consider Dunbar the definition of an average competitor, but physically he was one of the bigger guys on the show, so Johnny gets major props here. Johnny’s elimination win proved he was a worthy competitor to the rest of the dynasty and he rightfully earned his second championship as the Champions won the final against the Challengers.
 
Moving Up the J.E.K. Ladder.
 
The political theme of Johnny’s third championship, Rivals, was J.E.K. and friends vs. C.T. While Johnny was generally the lowest man in the J.E.K. hierarchy, I really feel like Rivals is where he starts being seen as equal to them, mainly due to his competitive abilities (Kenny was a subpar regular season performer on Rivals and Evan was in “pregnant” physical shape). Johnny/Tyler were the best performing team all season. They won the most missions out any male pair (Hammock Crawl, Against The Current, and Sawed Off), and won the most critical elimination of the season: T-Bone v. CT/Adam.
 
In T-Bone, players had to run up and down, through intersecting half-pipes, and had to transfer colored balls to their partner's ball rack. The first team to have both players transfer their five balls to their partner's rack won. Physical contact was allowed, CT’s specialty. I see a lot of challenge fans downplay Johnny/Tyler’s T-Bone victory and make the argument that they won because Adam sucks. Adam is actually one of the more speedy competitors to ever be on the show (case and point: Ball Brawl against Danny on G3). Adam made the mistake of transferring the wrong balls early on, having to make extra laps in comparison to everyone else and he still somehow managed to almost catch up to Tyler, only losing by a few steps. Johnny also finished just a few seconds after CT, who’s the best physical specimen in Challenge history. Johnny’s win in T-Bone and the three missions he won throughout the season got him and Tyler to the final challenge of Rivals, where he collected his third championship trophy.
 
*Battle of the Exes proved to us that Bananas is not a product of J.E.K.’s success; he is his own entity.
 
I personally believe Rivals cemented Johnny Bananas as Challenge royalty. But even with the Rivals win, some people still weren’t giving Johnny Bananas the respect he deserved and saw him as nothing more than a JEK product. The argument against J.B. was that his three championship wins were a result of the system that was orchestrated by political overlord Kenny and Evan. If you broke down his three wins before Exes, that wasn’t a far cry from logical. On The Island, Derrick had to throw a face-off for him to get his key. J.B. was going to get his key stolen by Evelyn again and lose his spot in the final boat, but Kenny went to bat for him and changed Evelyn’s mind. On The Ruins, he won because he was in a team with all his dynasty members who protected him for seventh-eights of the season. On Rivals, half the teams consisted of a dynasty member making it easy for J.B., Evan, and Kenny to control the game.
 
Exes is the first season in the Challenge timeline where the Dynasty became extinct. On Exes, it was clear Johnny Bananas had learned well from his dynasty peers and finally was controlling the politics all on his own without Kenny and Evan’s assistance. J.B. aligned with Mark/Robin, CT/Diem, and Paula/Dunbar. Him and Camila were on cruise control for almost the whole entire season.
 
Johnny and Camila won three missions (Give Me Some Honey, Rolling in the Deep, Lube Me Up) and came in second place for two other missions (Hook Up, Don’t Rock The Boat). They landed in the top two five out of eight times. Johnny also went into the final elimination before the final and faced Mark in X-Battle.
 
Johnny defeated Mark 2 to 1 in a physical elimination game where you had to rip an object away from your opponents hands to win. Mark is an absolute freak of nature and had about 30 lbs. of pure strength on Johnny, but Johnny pulled the upset. Rumors have gone around for ages in the Challenge community that Johnny got Mark to throw the elimination round. Whether that’s true or not still credits Bananas in some way. It’s a resume builder for him either as a competitor or a social player. Johnny’s Exes performance was his finest one yet, and he proved to the rest of the world that he was not just a product of the JEK system. The fourth championship established him as his own entity.
 
J.B.’s Battle of the Exes final performance is the best come-from-behind victory ever in America’s Fifth Sport.
 
The Exes final took place in Iceland. To this day, it is considered one of the most grueling finals ever. Competitors had to deal with extreme freezing temperatures, icy winds, and running in deep snow while completing eight different checkpoints over the course of two days.
 
J.B. and Camila trailed for the whole final, but right at the final’s last leg: the large mountain climb, C.T. gassed out and J.B.’s endurance stayed in gear. The master strategic thinking in J.B. came up with the brilliant idea of using the large footprint holes C.T. made in the snow to move up the mountain, conserving his energy and letting him and Camila reach the finish line first before CT/Diem.
 
Bananas political-social game is one of the best when it’s “on”.
 
I don’t think Johnny is the best to ever play the game in terms of political and social prowess, but I would definitely say he is in the top 10 conversation. He has too big of a bullseye coming in every season, because of his fame and makes too many enemies to be considered top 5. Johnny makes the top 10 politically/socially because of how tuned he is with the game and a lot of the time his group of friends are the best competitors, and in result the ones running the show.
 
Times where Johnny’s political/social game was “on”: Ruins, Cutthroat, Rivals, Exes, Rivals II, Bloodlines, Rivals III, Invasion, and D30. Ruins and Rivals – J.E.K.. controlled the game; Cutthroat – Johnny got in Emilee’s ear during the draft and built a roster based off experienced players he wanted in the end (Derrick, Jenn), promising rookies to throw in when the fodder was gone during the mid game (Ty, Emily, Theresa), and team fodder to throw in every elimination until they went home at the beginning of the game (Derek, Eric, Katie). If Ty wasn’t such a catastrophic event, Johnny wouldn’t have even saw an elimination on Cutthroat; Rivals II – The girls controlled the men’s fate, and Johnny never saw an elimination the whole season despite not performing up to regular competitive standards because he was aligned with three of the four best girl teams; Bloodlines - Johnny didn’t see an elimination until the very end despite all of his alliance members going home early this season; Invasion - You’re probably wondering how this ended up here, but given the circumstances of the season there wasn’t much to judge on. However, go watch the whole Roll With The Punches mission on Invasion and this is proof of how Johnny is always two steps ahead in the political department, even in a room full of champs; and D30 – Bananas was protected at all angles: CT, Derrick, Jordan, Leroy, and Tony all had Bananas as either their #1 or #2.
 
Jack of all trades, the master of strategy.
 
Johnny Bananas doesn’t have physical abilities such as Alton’s athleticism or CT’s superhuman strength, but one thing he does have is the greatest strategical mind to ever approach the game. When you compare Bananas to all-time elite competitors, his abilities are very good, but not great in the following categories: strength, athleticism, intelligence, and stamina.
 
Bananas manages to keep up with his most elite adversaries by analyzing the competitions and finding strategies through observation of performance better than anyone to have ever play the game. His brilliant strategies and well-rounded abilities fuse together to make him an elite competitor. Theres a reason he leads the challenge in most mission wins ever (59), and has had a high winning rate in every individual/partner season that he’s ever done.
 
Watch any challenge Johnny is apart of, I promise you he’s on the sidelines cooking up a game plan whenever he’s not at the beginning of “the order”. Here is a list of some of the missions where Johnny’s strategy was the driving factor behind him or his team the winning the mission: Giraffic Park (I3), Chain Gang (Ruins), Brain Buster (Cutthroat), Sawed Up (Rivals), Lube Me Up (Exes), Bar Crawl (Free Agents), and Decontamination (Total Madness).
 
In Lube Me Up, players had to slide down a slippery course, retrieve oversized balls at the bottom of the course, and had to advance themselves up the slope, while using ropes to guide them, and break a plane toward the top of the course to win. Johnny’s opposition in this mission was C.T., Mark, Dunbar, and Ty. Johnny was the only one to not use the ropes as assistance. Instead, he ran up the course by using his toes to dig through the slippery mat. The other guys failed to think of this brilliant strategy and were slipping all over the place.
 
J.B.’s Free Agents replaced Exes as his apex performance.
 
On FA, Johnny won 4 missions, 3 eliminations, and a challenging final to get his fifth trophy all while playing from the bottom, socially, for the majority of the game.
 
Three of Johnny’s four mission wins stood out to me. They are the following: Bar Crawl (six teams of 4 competed; J.B. did what he knows best and came up with the winning strategy), Bounce Out (J.B. had the most important role on the team for this mission, and he performed extremely better than Isaac, who shared the same role for the opposing team), and Crossover (In the final mission of the season, pairs had to travel across a lagoon, collect puzzle pieces on the other side, travel back and solve a puzzle; J.B. came through in the clutch and solved the puzzle first to lock a trip to the finale in Chile).
 
The three eliminations Bananas won: Balls In against Isaac, handed Jordan the first loss in his elimination career in Wrecking Wall, and beat CT in puzzle pyramid in the final elimination of the season. J.B.’s win versus C.T. in FA goes down as Johnny’s best elimination showing, because not only is C.T. a puzzle genius, but it was a complete blowout.
 
Johnny followed up his greatest elimination performance ever with his greatest individual achievement ever: winning a solo final and in essence, a solo game. All of this happened in the matter of 2 days. I’m having a hard time deciding what was J.B.’s most impressive moment in the FA finals between: (1) Him smoking everyone in the most critical stage of them all: the stationary pedaling bike (Bananas got a time of 1 hour flat, Reilly got 1 hr 23 mins, and Zach completed the stage in 1 hr 31 minutes), (2) Bananas coming up with the perfect strategy to solve the tree stump puzzle where pairs had to name the cities in order of geography; Johnny solved the puzzle by putting the original tree back together by the way it was carved. Everyone else failed to complete this stage and reached the time penalty; or (3) Bananas turning a new leaf and shockingly being supportive to his female partner Devyn who was hindering his pace.
 
Rivals III. The journey to the sixth championship was an absolute landslide for Johnny.
 
Bananas and Sarah have of the best political mindsets to ever play the game. The same can be said about their competitive abilities. When you looked at the competition they were playing against on Rivals III, you just knew the season was over as soon as it began. It’s the most predictable season to have ever taken place ever in terms of pairs or individual seasons.
 
J.B. and Sarah absolutely dominated on both sides of the field. They won 4 missions and were never voted into elimination once (the only elimination they saw was because of the black skull twist at the end of the season). Teams had their chance to throw them in (Nate/Christina and Dario/Nicole) late in the game when they were without safety, but they didn’t due to Johnny’s political-social charm. Johnny/Sarah got to the finals where J.B. earned his sixth championship. The journey didn’t end there. J.B. committed the most ruthless, heinous act ever seen on the show by stealing Sarah’s prize money in return for her crossing him on Exes II. Bananas and Sarah’s storyline on Rivals III was the best revenge to ever take place in Challenge history.
 
The Six-Season Finals Drought.
 
Ever since Johnny Bananas stole the money from Sarah on Rivals III, Johnny has had a pretty bad streak of either getting eliminated early or falling short of the final. Fans have referred to it as the Rivals III curse, and anti-J.B. people have used it to discredit Johnny’s career, and argue that he’s a false representation of the greatest to ever play. This is an elephant in the room that I’m willing to address, because quite honestly the elephant isn’t that big. It’s actually small.
 
The six-season finals drought began in Johnny’s 14th season, Invasion, all the way up to his 19th season, WOTW2. J.B. hasn’t been to the finals because he’s at the back-end of his career. He’s been out of his prime for quite some time now. Should he be punished for this? No. In every professional sport, all-time greats eventually fade with time. Their all-time great placements aren’t affected by how they performed when they were a shell of their former selves in their fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth season. Kevin Garnett was averaging 6 points and 5 rebounds for the last five seasons of his career, and his team missed the playoffs every time. Do NBA fans use this to discredit his G.O.A.T. status? No. Kevin Garnett is still considered one of the five greatest power forwards of all-time. The latter years of his career are just better off forgotten, and fans reminisce on the times when he was at his consistent best. If anything, Kevin Garnett playing 21 seasons added to his legacy, because he was able to compete in the professional level for so long. Longevity goes a long way. Johnny Bananas’ 20 challenge seasons should be celebrated for competing at a high level and being a top player coming in every season regardless of the six-straight finals drought.
 
The once-existing, long living Bananas v. CT saga is the Challenge’s version of the Yankees v. Red Sox rivalry; Johnny is the Yankees.
 
Back in 2010-2015, Johnny Bananas and C.T. (when they were both in their absolute prime) main-evented every challenge they participated in. From Cutthroat to Free Agents, Bananas and C.T. went toe-to-toe against one another either right before the final or at the final.
 
In a series of five face-offs, Bananas came out on top by winning three to C.T.’s two. Cutthroat – C.T. backpacks Johnny and emasculates him completely (1-0 C.T.); Rivals – Johnny/Tyler beat C.T./Adam in T-Bone (even at 1-1); Exes – C.T. gasses out in Iceland final, Johnny comes from behind and wins (2-1 J.B.); Rivals II – CT wins Thailand final while Johnny’s stamina fails him (2-2); and Free Agents – Johnny beats C.T. in the last elimination and wins the final right after (J.B. 3-2).
 
You make the argument that the series between Bananas and C.T. is actually 2-2 since Adam was the reason C.T. lost T-Bone (and that’s a completely fair point). Even taking into account the 2-2 argument, J.B.’s 2 are still more prestigious than C.T.’s 2. Johnny’s Exes and FA wins against C.T. resulted in two championship victories. C.T.’s Cutthroat and Rivals II consists of only one championship and an amazing highlight. Even when you take into account that it’s the most amazing highlight ever taped in challenge history, championships hold more weight than highlights in determining one’s G.O.A.T. status. Plus C.T. didn’t get an individual championship out of this historic rivalry, Bananas did with Free Agents.
 
No matter how you slice it, Bananas clearly bested the Boston Robot, C.T. in a series of five main event competitions, and from a competition abilities standpoint, C.T. is probably the best ever. This is why I feel like Bananas coming out on top in the greatest rivalry of America’s Fifth Major Sport is J.B.’s greatest accomplishment ever and proved to me that he’s ahead of C.T. all-time by a small margin.
 
J.B.’s Overall Assessment.
 
Competitively speaking, Johnny’s never been an elite athlete like Alton, C.T., or Landon. Johnny’s just a regular athlete who’s well rounded at every facet of the game and practically has no weaknesses. Johnny’s ATG strategy is one of the greatest competitive traits in Challenge history as it’s helped him overcome stronger, faster opponents that were in his way of winning.
 
J.B.’s run from The Island to Free Agents is the most dominant run in Challenge history. In the span of 7 seasons (The Island, The Ruins, Cutthroat, Rivals, Exes, Rivals II, Free Agents), Johnny saw six finals and won five of them. On top of that, he also won six of seven elimination rounds. No other challenger has ever come close to this sort of run. It was just pure dominance.
 
I personally think Johnny’s 6 championships (a hat trick of pair seasons and one individual), him besting C.T. in competitions in their multi-season rivalry, and having the most dominant run ever in his absolute prime, makes him an automatic pick for the Challenge Mount Rushmore. The only question then becomes, where do you rank him? I guess it all depends on how heavily you factor his elimination record and six-season finals drought (which I thought I did a good job in lessening the impact of). The Banana Man is well deserving of spot #2, in my opinion.
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More thoughts on collecting ebooks

ISBN numbers

For those unaware, ISBN numbers are 10 (and later 13) digit numbers assigned to books to uniquely identify them. In theory, they don't just identify a title, but rather a specific edition of it. For a typical modern book, this might be many such numbers... an author will sell his book to a US publisher, who prints a hardback edition (that's one ISBN), then releases it in paperback (another ISBN), then sell it to the UK publisher (yet another), who also releases paperbacks (one again). If years later the rights get sold to another publisher, those will get their own as well.
But about the year 2000 (plus or minus a few years), we started to see ebooks appear. In theory, those also get their own numbers, separate from paperback and hardback. On some titles, I'm even seeing 3 different ISBNs for ebooks. One for .epub format, another for Amazon Kindle, and a third which says "Acrobat Reader" (which I'm assuming is PDF, but that's unclear to me). However, for any early ebooks (release on up to about 2004), sometimes it seems like they use the same one as the paper edition (and these things are cheap too, like $1 for each number for a publisher). I guess they were still figuring things out then.
Most ebooks seem to use the 13 digit numbers (starting with 978-). Some are still showing the 10 digit. I've just learned (derp) that these are equivalent, a 13 digit ISBN is just the 10 digit with three more digits on the lefthand (and the rightmost digit changes because it's a checksum). If you're annoyed with using 10 digits in the filename, you can convert a 10 digit to a 13 digit and they are perfectly valid. There's even an online app to do that:
https://www.isbn.org/ISBN_converter
Finally, it turns out that many books don't just have them. Period. Obviously if you're collecting old 16th century grimoires they won't, but you wouldn't expect it for fiction would you?
I first became aware of them missing a few years ago. For those of you familiar with Magic The Gathering (a card game with a theme of magic and wizards and crap like that) there's actually a story behind it. And in the last 10 years or so, there's even been some stories written to that effect. Not fan fiction (not exactly anyway, it's hardly high art) and officially endorsed... I think you can even download it off of their site.
I don't want to be one of those assholes that says "no big loss", but it is sort of marginal. A problem to figure out later maybe. But here I am trying to collect all of Harry Turtledove's bibliography, and I discover that some of his works don't have them either.
Some of his novellas are apparently released for free on tor.com (Tor being a somehwat major imprint for science fiction). And since they're not printing them, I guess they don't bother to actually register an ISBN. Ugh.
If anyone has any ideas on what code/number to use for this, I'm all ears. Keep in mind that it should be fairly short and use a restricted set of symbols so it can be used in computer filenames. I'm stumped myself.

Unique Identifiers

Ebooks pose particular challenges... they aren't published once like paper books. Granted, sometimes a popular novel will be reprinted, but even then it's essentially the same as the first printing. Typesetting a book, editing, these all cost money and they didn't use to do that more than once. But with ebooks, if someone notices a type in chapter 14 they send off an email, and 12 weeks later some jackass in the publishing company has fixed it and pushed it to the repo, and now anyone who buys it will get version 3.16 with the typo fixed. It's cheap to fix them, and the version you buy today might not be the exact same I buy tomorrow.
It would be useful to know which version is which.
The good news is that at least some publishers are including that version number on the colophon (copyright page) in it. But only some. Ballantine (science fiction and fantasy mostly) seems to be good about this. Scribner (Simon & Schuster) not so good. Everyone else is hit and miss.
So, when I set the filename, I'm setting it something like this:
Night Shift - 9780385528849 (1978, v3.0_r6) - King, Stephen 
I'm including the ISBN first, as it's the primary identifier. Then in parentheses I'm including the publishing date (of the ebook, not when the book was first released necessarily). Sometimes that's not strictly available either, so I use whatever the highest year is that appears in the colophon. For example:
It - 9781501141232 (2016) - King, Stephen.epub 
For those unfamiliar with the title, that one was first released long before 2016, but the insides of the ebook make it clear that was when the ebook was first released by Scribner.
Finally, if there's an actual version number, I include that too as in the first example. Not all style it exactly in that manner, I've seen quite a few "Version 1.0", but for the filename I'm rendering that as v1.0 for simplicity, brevity, and consistency.

Authors

I think if you go back to one of my old posts from a few years back, you'd see that I'm always putting the authors at the end in lastname/firstname order. When just two of them, I'm using the ampersand to connect, like so:
The Talisman - 9780345452405 (2001, v3.0) - King, Stephen & Straub, Peter.epub 
If there were 3 or more authors, I use commas between last and first name, and semicolons between authors except the final, something like:
Fake Book Title - 978xxxx (2020, v5.0) - Blow, Joe; Tyson, Mike & Doe, John.epub 
(Note: The order of the authors should match the front cover of the book, or if that's unavailable, the title page on the inside of the book.)
But I came across an interesting example the other night. One of the old Stephen King books was first printed with a bunch of color plate illustrations... and there's an ebook of that now. It has all the pictures (and it weighs in at 30mb, ouch). But one thing I didn't notice all those years ago when I had a copy of the physical book was that they credited the illustrator on the cover.
And I feel that should be included in the filename. If you can get your name on the front cover of a book, then that's what we should name the file. However, in some cases the name's not the name of the author proper. So how should you handle that?
There's already a convention. A list of codes for people who have contributed to a work, but aren't necessarily the author himself. It's part of the Dublin Core standard:
http://id.loc.gov/vocabulary/relators.html
You can browse the list, but in my case the illustrator code is "ill". Another useful one that you'll probably see the most is "edt" for editor (if you like science fiction there's a tradition of putting out novel-sized books of short stories, each by a different author... none of which have their names on the cover. However a famous name will be on the cover as the "editor", use that for those).
So, we'd make that filename:
Cycle of the Werewolf - 978150114113 (2019) - King, Stephen & Wrightson, Bernie (ill).epub 
Note that though there is a code for "author", I'm not actually using those because I consider that the default. It's a book after all.

Omnibus Editions

For those of us who are completists (heh, as if any of us aren't), we'd like to have every mainstream work ever released by an author. At least for those authors we like.
With short stories, I won't bother to pursue a collection that has only short stories already found in those collections I've already got. (Publishers are aware of this, so they tended to always include at least one or two new ones... even back when things were all on paper.)
But there's also the issue of authors who put out series. Trilogies (and more-than-three-logies) and so forth. Occasionally these were released all in one very big book, supposing it could fit without falling apart (paperbacks were limited to maybe 1000 pages at most, and even those could be flimsy). But ebooks offer no such limitation... filesizes are still quite comfortable for any page-count anyone could ever manage. So I've seen lots of 2000 page omnibuses and even some that must be larger still.
I'm personally shying away from those, and trying to find the individual titles. I would suggest that others do the same. No one wants to read Game of Thrones all as a single title. And while your ebook software will certainly keep track of where you are in it, it just feels daunting to read that. Most of the people who ever read these will, I contend, be more comfortable completing the first 500 pages (or whatever) and knowing they've read the whole title. Then they can move on to book two if they choose, and start again. But to be 1200 pages in, and still have it unfinished will be much more difficult.
I would consider these omnibus editions only in specific circumstances. First, the individual editions must be significantly on the smaller side. And the collected/omnibus must still be on the not-absolutely-gargantuan side. Say, no more than 800-900 pages total (which was about the biggest most paperbacks ever got). So, if the individuals were novellas or very small novels (300 pages), then putting three of them together is acceptable. Finally though, for me to consider this there is one more rule... the individual books must not be available in any tolerable edition (someone's iphone pictures of the pages scribbled on a stained napkin in crayon aren't tolerable).
Also, you should probably be aware that there are examples of the opposite of omnibuses. Some books were so large (back in the day) that though they'd be released as a single edition in hardback when it came time to release them in paperback they'd be split in two and sold that way (not a bad deal if you're making a profit per unit... and it was the same number of printed pages either way). Greg Bear's Songs of Earth and Power was like this, I think. Raymond Feist's Magician was another. Maybe even the Tad Williams' books.
For those, ideally I'd like the full, complete version, rather than two separate files. Though, basically the same rules apply... if nothing else was available but the split versions, I'd have to make a judgement call.

On Retail Versions

Many places (of the "less commercial" sort) will list them as "retail". But then you open them and they look like shit. The cover art is messed up or wrong, etc.
Well, until very recently, many publishers weren't including those (and some, like Ballantine, were including these shitty green generic images that just had the title captioned in)... so someone probably decided to add the covers themselves. You can probably revert them to retail version yourself. But there's a reason why the other guy tried to fix it... because it's fugly, and though he did a poor job of it, he still put more effort in than the publisher themselves.
You can determine if this is the case by opening the .epub in Calibre's ebook editing app (this may be the only good part of Calibre if you ask me). It lists the internal files on the lefthand side. They can be named almost anything... but if the person added a cover image and they did it with Calibre, then at the very top the file will be named titlepage.xhtml. This seems to be a signature of that app adding a cover image.
And you can change it rather simply too. It the Tools menu, about halfway down there is an entry called "Add Cover". It opens a dialog, and you can import another image.
If you do this, I have several recommendations. First, you find the matching cover for that publisher and edition. Or, in some cases fan art might be good (there's some surprisingly good stuff on Deviant Art). This image should be at most 500 pixels tall, but not much less than that... 450 is ok if that's the best you can find, but 230 pixels tall is just crap.
Finally, if anyone would like to offer an opinion on whether we should be doing that... please speak up. I'm not sure how I feel about it myself.
Another thing to mention... if you're one of those people who is including their own name in it (in the retail version, not a scan job), then die in a fire and drown in shit. It's not a goddamned bathroom stall door. Enough with the graffiti.

On Genres

In case my choice of examples doesn't make it clear, I'm a science fiction and fantasy nerd. Shouldn't have been difficult to guess.
Usually, this makes it easy. For those who haven't read my other posts (or who don't recognize my username), I'm a big proponent of UDC (or Universal Decimal Classification, a Dewey-Decimal-like system). UDC puts almost all fiction in one place (in the 800s), and with a few subcategories for genre. And those are simple too. Something like...
82-3 - Fiction (081)1.9 - Science fiction (collections, single author) (081)3.3 - Horror (collections, single author) (082)1.9 - Science fiction (collections, multiple authors) 11.9 - Science fiction novels 12.9 - Fantasy novels 13.3 - Horror & supernatural thriller novels 
Within those, I'm doing the standard, subfolders A-Z, and within those subfolders for each author. Stephen King will go in 13.3 even if a few of his novels are science-fictiony, even if a few of those are fantasy-esque. Whatever else they are, he's going for horrosupernatural primarily.
But other authors aren't entirely easy to pigeon-hole. Turtledove does just two kinds... his first are "alternate history" of the "what would have happened if the Japanese had invaded Hawaii and attempted to occupy it instead" nature. That's straight up science fiction to me. But nearly half of the rest are "this world vaguely like the Roman empire but not on Earth, and there are dragons and magic". That's straight-up fantasy.
Do I split up his stuff in two different places? Maybe with a "see also x" pointing to his other stuff? Can't quite do that so well on the filesystem side of things (symlinks can be overused). And I'm not yet at a point where I have a decent setup in Nextcloud to do that there either.
I like the author alot, and intend to read much more of his stuff (now that I don't have to fill a room full of used paperbacks hoarder-style to do it). But even then, I can't read everything of his, and since I haven't read it, I don't always know which genre it is. And that's for an author I know very well, for others that I'm just collecting, it becomes daunting to determine genre on a book-by-book basis.
Nor can I just dump everything into one bucket. People like what they like, and no one who reads science fiction wants to browse through 10,000 Tom Clancy and John Grisham (or god help me, Dan Brown) novels to find them. Nor would anyone who wants to find Dan Brown and John Grisham novels will want to browse through 10,000 Stephen King books (exaggeration, he doesn't have more than about 9300).
We need a resource that would help us with genres, but that's not Wikipedia. I wish there was a way to collaborate... if I get it figured out for this guy's or that guy's bibliography, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to use it. Or vice versa. It's only daunting work if we all have to recreate it from scratch ourselves even though it's already been done.

On Science Fiction

I've decided quite arbitrarily that both "dystopian" and "alternate history" fiction are also science fiction. Even if they don't include any other science fiction tropes. Turtledove's Worldwar series is definitely science fiction (aliens invade in 1940, right when everyone else is fighting), but his Southern Victory series is also despite that there are no other elements of science fiction (history just diverges because of some small thing, there are no ray guns or spaceships or anything else). And likewise... if there is an end-of-world scenario or a book about the aftermath of such a doomsday... that's science fiction too. It makes for some strange classifications, who would have thought of The Hunger Games as science fiction?
Fantasy is fairly straightforward too. If there are elements of magic, it is fantasy. Vampires? Fantasy (unless it's bad romance). Werewolves? Fantasy. Witches, wizards, spells, unicorns, elves. All fantasy.
There are exceptions. If the magic is touted specifically as "psychic powers" (and there is no other kind of magic), then it is science fiction. I don't want Isaac Asimov in fantasy, just because someone's telekinetic in the story.
Horror is anything that is meant to scare you, disturb you, or creep you out. Purely psychological stuff, or supernatural. Stephen King is almost always horror, even when it could be something else. If it takes place in a prison, it's still trying to scare you with existential crap. If it's kids finding a dead body, same thing. If the CIA is experimenting with drugs to turn people into psychic warriors and an 8 yr old Drew Barrymore can start fires with her mind using bad physics, still horror.
A weird artifact of this way of thinking is that comedy is totally besides the point. Douglas Adams is still science fiction, despite it being funny as hell. Terry Brooks is still fantasy, despite the same.
Finally, it should be said that it's tough to not moralize... I keep wanting to create a new category for shitty writing for Dan Brown, but I'm trying my best to remain neutral. I'm just organizing this stuff, not telling people what they should want to read.

Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series

I can't ask in books for obvious reasons. I've found good retail versions of these books, they even have good cover images (though not the ones I remember as a kid). However, they do not have the color plates in them (likely the artwork had separate rights/contracts, and so they can't include them without renegotiating).
I have found suitable copies of the artwork for these. I want to attempt to put them back in the epubs myself. (If I ever trade with any of you guys, I'll make it clear that they have been modified from the original). But I don't know where to include them... I no longer have physical copies of them. I don't want to just chuck them in randomly, it'd be nice to know which one goes at what page number (or maybe chapter... page numbers don't mean much in .epub format). Can anyone help with that, or does anyone know where I might find help with that?
Additionally, I've almost got the complete collection (find it on Snahp.it if you can get there). The only book I'm really missing is the original version of the stand. For those of you unfamiliar, he re-released it in the late 1980s after having Lucased it up quite a bit). I've got the lucased-up version, but the original would be difficult in the extreme to come by. If someone knows of a scanned-version, I'd be extremely grateful to hear about it. I'd probably end up re-typesetting it myself.

Nostaglia

Have any of your guys went and looked at the paperbacks (and/or magazines) section of a grocery store lately? It's depressing. It'd be my favorite place to hang out while mom was grocery shopping... now it's a pale imitation of what it used to be. I don't know if it's sad, but alot of what I decided I wanted to read came from there. I mean I realize that this gave alot of control to the people who decided what ended up on those shelves, but it's so hard to discover new stuff now days. I have access to tens of thousands of books (and I can afford them, so to speak), and I no longer know what to get.
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Crypto Banking Wars: Will Coinbase or Binance Become The Bank of The Future?

Crypto Banking Wars: Will Coinbase or Binance Become The Bank of The Future?
Can the early success of major crypto exchanges propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market?
https://reddit.com/link/i48t4q/video/v4eo10gom7f51/player
This is the first part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this powerful technology to reach the masses. We believe a crypto-native company, like Genesis Block, will become the bank of the future.
In an earlier series, Crypto-Powered, we laid out arguments for why crypto-native companies have a huge edge in the market. When you consider both the broad spectrum of financial use-cases and the enormous value unlocked through these DeFi protocols, you can see just how big of an unfair advantage blockchain tech becomes for companies who truly understand and leverage it. Traditional banks and fintech unicorns simply won’t be able to keep up.
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement.
So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post.
Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources.
Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in.
https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8

Binance

The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling.
Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?

Binance Weaknesses

Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
  1. Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
  2. Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
  3. Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
  4. BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
  5. Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.

Binance Wrap Up

I don’t believe Binance is likely to succeed with a homegrown product aimed at the consumer finance market. Their current product — which is focused heavily on professional traders and speculators — is unlikely to become the bank of the future. If they wanted to enter the broader consumer market, I believe it’s much more likely that they will acquire a company that is getting early traction. They are not afraid to make acquisitions (Trust, JEX, WazirX, DappReview, BxB, CoinMarketCap, Swipe).
However, never count CZ out. He is a hustler. Binance is executing so aggressively and relentlessly that they will always be on the shortlist of major contenders.
https://preview.redd.it/mxmlg1zqm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2d900dd5ff7f3b00df5fe5a48305d57ebeffaa9a

Coinbase

The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.

Coinbase Strengths

Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
  1. Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
  2. Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
  3. USDC Stablecoin Coinbase (along with Circle) launched USDC. We’ve shared some stats about its impressive growth when we discussed DeFi use-cases. USDC is quickly becoming integrated with most DeFi protocols. As a result, Coinbase is getting a front-row seat at some of the most exciting things happening in decentralized finance. As Coinbase builds its knowledge and networks around these protocols, it could put them in a favorable position to unlock incredible value for their users.
  4. Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.

Coinbase Weaknesses

Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
  1. Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
  2. Lack of Innovation When you consider the previous point (slow cadence), it’s unclear if Coinbase is capable of building and launching new products that are built internally. Most of their new products have come through acquisitions. Their Earn.com acquisition is what led to their Earn educational product. Their acquisition of Xapo helped bolster their institutional custody offering. They acqui-hired a team to help launch their staking infrastructure. Their acquisition of Cipher Browser became an important part of Coinbase Wallet. And recently, they acquired Tagomi — a crypto prime brokerage. Perhaps most of Coinbase’s team is just focused on improving their golden goose, their exchange business. It’s unclear. But the jury is still out on if they can successfully innovate internally and launch any homegrown products.
  3. Talent Exodus There have been numerous reports of executive turmoil at Coinbase. It raises a lot of questions about company culture and vision. Some of the executives who departed include COO Asiff Hirji, CTO Balaji Srinivasan, VP & GM Adam White, VP Eng Tim Wagner, VP Product Jeremy Henrickson, Sr Dir of Eng Namrata Ganatra, VP of Intl Biz Dan Romero, Dir of Inst Sales Christine Sandler, Head of Trading Hunter Merghart, Dir Data Science Soups Ranjan, Policy Lead Mike Lempres, Sr Compliance Vaishali Mehta. Many of these folks didn’t stay with Coinbase very long. We don’t know exactly why it’s happening —but when you consider a few of my first points (slow cadence, lack of innovation), you have to wonder if it’s all related.
  4. Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.

Coinbase Wrap Up

At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product.
Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.

Honorable Mentions

Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.

Wrap Up

Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them.
In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business.
So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them.
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A long list of CIA atrocities.

The following article was initially published in 1997. It is in part based on the work of William Blum. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, 1995 (GR Ed. M. Ch.)
By Steve Kangas
The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)
CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.”
The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator.
The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be “communists,” but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.
This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious “School of the Americas.” (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the “School of the Dictators” and “School of the Assassins.” Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.
The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. (2) Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an “American Holocaust.”
The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation’s desire to stay out of the Cold War.
The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington’s will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator’s control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution. The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this “boomerang effect” include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.
The following timeline should confirm that the CIA as we know it should be abolished and replaced by a true information-gathering and analysis organization. The CIA cannot be reformed — it is institutionally and culturally corrupt.
1929
The culture we lost — Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”
1941
COI created — In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William “Wild Bill” Donovan heads the new intelligence service.
1942
OSS created — Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation’s rich and powerful that eventually people joke that “OSS” stands for “Oh, so social!” or “Oh, such snobs!”
1943
Italy — Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.
1945
OSS is abolished — The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.
Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the “Gehlen Organization,” a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia.
These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon”), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler’s). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the “intelligence” the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious “missile gap.” To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.
1947
Greece — President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.
CIA created — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC — there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to “perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.
1948
Covert-action wing created — The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”
Italy — The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works — the communists are defeated.
1949
Radio Free Europe — The CIA creates its first major propaganda outlet, Radio Free Europe. Over the next several decades, its broadcasts are so blatantly false that for a time it is considered illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S.
Late 40s
Operation MOCKINGBIRD — The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. The effort is headed by Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA’s media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA’s own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.
1953
Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo.
Operation MK-ULTRA — Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.
1954
Guatemala — CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.
1954-1958
North Vietnam — CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.
1956
Hungary — Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.
1957-1973
Laos — The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an “Armee Clandestine” of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.
1959
Haiti — The U.S. military helps “Papa Doc” Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the “Tonton Macoutes,” who terrorize the population with machetes.
They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.
1961
The Bay of Pigs — The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But “Operation Mongoose” fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.
Dominican Republic — The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.
Ecuador — The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.
Congo (Zaire) — The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.
1963
Dominican Republic — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.
Ecuador — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.
1964
Brazil — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down “communists” for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these “communists” are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.
1965
Indonesia — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being “communist.” The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.
Dominican Republic — A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.
Greece — With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.
Congo (Zaire) — A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.
1966
The Ramparts Affair — The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire “professors” to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.
1967
Greece — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the “reign of the colonels” — backed by the CIA — will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cyprus, Johnson tells him: “Fuck your parliament and your constitution.”
Operation PHEONIX — The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 “Viet Cong.”
1968
Operation CHAOS — The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.
Bolivia — A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.
1969
Uruguay — The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,” is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.
1970
Cambodia — The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.
1971
Bolivia — After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.
Haiti — “Papa Doc” Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son “Baby Doc” Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.
1972
The Case-Zablocki Act — Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.
Cambodia — Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.
Wagergate Break-in — President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.
1973
Chile — The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.
CIA begins internal investigations — William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.
Watergate Scandal — The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, “Deep Throat,” is probably one of those.
CIA Director Helms Fired — President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.
1974
CHAOS exposed — Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.
Angleton fired — Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.
House clears CIA in Watergate — The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.
The Hughes Ryan Act — Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report nonintelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.
1975
Australia — The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.
Angola — Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.
“The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” — Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.
“Inside the Company” — Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.
Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing — Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation (“The Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.
The Rockefeller Commission — In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the “Rockefeller Commission” to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.
1979
Iran — The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA’s backing of SAVAK, the Shah’s bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Afghanistan — The Soviets invade Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the occupying Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.
El Salvador — An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to “normal” — the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.
Nicaragua — Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.
1980
El Salvador — The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter “Christian to Christian” to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.
1981
Iran/Contra Begins — The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be “pressured” until “they say ‘uncle.’” The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.
1983
Honduras — The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious “Battalion 316” then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.
1984
The Boland Amendment — The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to “hand off” the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes “humanitarian aid” donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.
1986
Eugene Hasenfus — Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.
Iran/Contra Scandal — Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.
Haiti — Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that “Baby Doc” Duvalier will remain “President for Life” only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.
1989
Panama — The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington… so out he goes.
1990
Haiti — Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.
1991
The Gulf War — The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA. With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism — in Kuwait, for example.
The Fall of the Soviet Union — The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.
1992
Economic Espionage — In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.
1993
Haiti — The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.
EPILOGUE
In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.”
Clinton’s is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don’t know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked.
Furthermore, Clinton’s statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA. These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.
The CIA’s response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church’s fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA’s criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee’s On the Run for an example of early harassment.) However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton’s “Americans will never know” defense is a prime example.
Another common apologetic is that “the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all.” There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.
Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: “Which American interests?” The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country’s cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: “Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples’ human rights?”
The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.
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The Story Turns Back to Pot Stocks (GRWG, CRON, MEDIF, NUGS)

https://www.mmjobserver.com/the-story-turns-back-to-pot-stocks-grwg-cron-medif-nugs/33805/
The green machine is back. And we would expect the usual election hype to get started again ASAP. We are now closing in on the next moment when some percentage of the population will be focused more on whether or not their particular state is about to offer legal pot than on who’s the next president.
And that percentage is worth a mint to the industry and to investors who get in for the run into the election. In addition, this time around is super spicy because the polling numbers slant heavily in Biden’s favor and the Biden-Sanders “unity task force” put together a lengthy document of policy recommendations across a wide array of issues that is highly instructive on the pot stock election hype factor.
For example, among the issues that the task force considered was recreational cannabis legalization, calling for the decriminalization of marijuana using executive action. The task force also expressed support for the federal legalization of medical marijuana.
So, get your engines started folks. With that in mind, here’s a selection of some of the most active names in the space, including: GrowGeneration Corp (OTCMKTS:GRWG), Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ:CRON), and Medipharm Labs Corp (OTCMKTS:MEDIF), and Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCMKTS:NUGS).
GrowGeneration Corp (OTCMKTS:GRWG) trumpets itself as a company that, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates retail hydroponic and organic gardening stores in the United States. Currently, GrowGen has 27 stores, which include 5 locations in Colorado, 5 locations in California, 2 locations in Nevada, 1 location in Washington, 4 locations in Michigan, 1 location in Rhode Island, 4 locations in Oklahoma, 1 location in Oregon, 3 locations in Maine and 1 location in Florida.
GrowGen also operates an online superstore for cultivators, located at https://growgen.pro/. GrowGen carries and sells thousands of products, including organic nutrients and soils, advanced lighting technology and state of the art hydroponic equipment to be used indoors and outdoors by commercial and home growers.
GrowGeneration Corp (OTCMKTS:GRWG) just announced the pricing of an underwritten public offering of 7,500,000 shares of its common stock at an offering price of $5.60 per share. GrowGen expects the gross proceeds from the Offering to be approximately $42.0 million, before deducting the underwriting discount and other estimated offering expenses.
The Offering was upsized from the previously announced offering size of $35.0 million of common stock. GrowGen has also granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1,125,000 shares of common stock offered in the public market. The Company expects to close the Offering on or about July 2, 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
If you’re long this stock, then you’re liking how the stock has responded to the announcement. GRWG shares have been moving higher over the past week overall, pushing about 7% to the upside on above average trading volume. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 10% in that time on strong overall action.
GrowGeneration Corp (OTCMKTS:GRWG) pulled in sales of $33M in its last reported quarterly financials, representing top line growth of 152%. In addition, the company is battling some balance sheet hurdles, with cash levels struggling to keep up with current liabilities ($11.4M against $17.3M, respectively).
Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ:CRON) casts itself as an investment firm in the biopharmaceutical space, with a strong emphasis on medical marijuana and cannabis-related research and products. In short, the company seeks to invest in other companies, either licensed or actively seeking a license, to produce medical marijuana pursuant to Canada’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
The firm typically invests in companies based in Canada. The firm is primarily an equity investor, may also advance debt as appropriate. It seeks to make minority investments with appropriate governance and shareholder rights. The firm seeks board representation consistent with the size of the investment but does not need control.
Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ:CRON) just announced that the shareholders have approved a special resolution authorizing the Company to make an application for the continuance of the Company from the laws of the Province of Ontario to the laws of the Province of British Columbia, as further described in the Proxy Statement.
The Company believes the greater flexibility afforded by the British Columbia corporate statute by virtue of the absence of a Canadian residency requirement for members of the board of directors of the Company will allow the Company to consider Board candidates from a larger pool of candidates to ensure the Board maintains the right composition, skills, expertise and diversity to drive long-term value. The completion of the Continuance remains subject to the satisfaction of the conditions described in the Proxy Statement.
While this is a clear factor, it has been incorporated into a trading tape characterized by a pretty dominant offer, which hasn’t been the type of action CRON shareholders really want to see. In total, over the past five days, shares of the stock have dropped by roughly -5% on above average trading volume. All in all, not a particularly friendly tape, but one that may ultimately present some new opportunities. CRON shares have been relatively flat over the past month of action, with very little net movement during that period.
Cronos Group Inc (NASDAQ:CRON) generated sales of $11.3M, according to information released in the company’s most recent quarterly financial report. That adds up to a sequential quarter-over-quarter growth rate of 17.6% on the top line. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels far exceeding current liabilities ($1.9B against $286.8M).
Medipharm Labs Corp (OTCMKTS:MEDIF) bills itself as a company that primarily focuses on producing pharma-grade cannabis oil and concentrates in Canada. It also focuses on providing cannabis contract processing services to licensed producers and growers; supplying cannabis oil to companies for sale under its brand; and supplying raw materials and processing for the creation of ready-to-sell cannabis products. The company was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Barrie, Canada.
This expert focus on cannabis concentrates from our cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) and ISO standard clean rooms and critical environments laboratory, allows MediPharm Labs to produce purified, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis oil and concentrates for advanced derivative products. MediPharm Labs has invested in an expert, research-driven team, state-of-the-art technology, downstream extraction methodologies and purpose-built facilities to deliver pure, safe and precisely-dosed cannabis products to patients and consumers. MediPharm Labs’ private label program is a high margin business for the company, whereby it opportunistically procures dry cannabis flower and trim from its numerous product supply partners, to produce proprietary cannabis oil concentrate products for resale globally on a private label basis.
Medipharm Labs Corp (OTCMKTS:MEDIF) just announced that it has appointed James (Jim) Maloney as Chief Financial Officer, effective July 20, 2020.
In his role, Mr. Maloney will be responsible for leading the finance function including all aspects of financial planning and analysis, setting Medifast’s financial and capital allocation strategies, and managing investor relations. He will serve as a member of the company’s leadership team and report directly to Chief Executive Officer Dan Chard.
The stock has suffered a bit of late, with shares of MEDIF taking a hit in recent action, down about -7% over the past week.
Medipharm Labs Corp (OTCMKTS:MEDIF) generated sales of $11.1M, according to information released in the company’s most recent quarterly financial report. That adds up to a sequential quarter-over-quarter growth rate of -65.8% on the top line. In addition, the company is battling some balance sheet hurdles, with cash levels struggling to keep up with current liabilities ($21.4M against $25.1M, respectively).
Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCMKTS:NUGS) bills itself as one of the largest publicly traded marijuana cultivators in the United States. The Company is Los Angeles-based and incubates, develops, and partners with category leaders within the cannabis and ancillary sectors.
The Firm’s NUGS brand experience provides operational and financial strategic partnerships and a range of essential services to emerging and existing Cannabis consumer brands.
Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCMKTS:NUGS) recently announce topline performance data for the month of June, which featured over $1.3 million in sales, representing over 40% sequential monthly revenue growth. This performance demonstrates a dramatic acceleration in month-over-month growth.
“June set new records for the Company, with a massive acceleration in the pace of growth, which is so far continuing in July,” stated Simon Yu, CEO of Cannabis Strategic Ventures. “We have successfully repositioned ourselves in the ecosystem of the California cannabis marketplace, moving up the ladder and widening our distribution footprint. We will continue to focus on ramping production capacity and steadily driving gains in quality, efficiency, and volume. That has been our focus all year. Besides dramatic expansion in sales volume by weight, we have also been rewarded by the market with steady gains in pricing. That represents the ultimate positive reinforcement.”
Even in light of this news, NUGS has had a rough past week of trading action, with shares sinking something like -2% in that time. That said, chart support is nearby and we may be in the process of constructing a nice setup for some movement back the other way. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 53% in that time on strong overall action.
Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCMKTS:NUGS) generated sales of $1.4M, according to information released in the company’s most recent quarterly financial report. That adds up to a sequential quarter-over-quarter growth rate of 91.4% on the top line. In addition, the company is battling some balance sheet hurdles, with cash levels struggling to keep up with current liabilities ($222K against $13.1M, respectively).
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Some interesting news in the stock market this week

Growth Stocks (Medifast and Cardlytics)
Medifast $MED, the weight management company, presented at the ICR conference on Monday and restated its goal to double in size every 3-4 years and targeted 2021 revenues of $1,000 million (2019 guidance $700-$710 million) That’s reassuring after a disappointing Q3 when the company was hit by a credit card fraud.
The stock dropped 29% after those results which seemed a little harsh since the issue was fully resolved, revenues still managed to grow 36.5% and guidance for the full year forecast 40% revenue growth and 26% EPS growth. It’s not as if Medifast was trading on a big multiple. The stock has since recovered from the post release drop and then, as it is now, trades on around 2x trailing revenues and 20x trailing earnings. Pretty reasonable for a growth stock.
The problem is is that Medifast has been tarred with the same brush as Herbalife and other multi level marketing schemes which use agents to promote sales. However, the model is quite different. Medifast sells direct to the customer. Its agents don’t get discounts or handle stock. That means Medifast isn’t artificially boosting sales by recruiting and selling to its own agents.
A few years ago the company was a quiet and essentially family run affair. That was until Dan Chard was appointed in 2015. Formerly the President of Global Sales and Operations at Nu Skin he was the right person for the job. He developed the Optavia Diet brand and put in place the direct marketing business model. Sales exploded from $273 million to $689 million in less than four years.
With a product that works and a growing level of demand (driven by obesity) coupled with a capital light highly scalable business model and effective management, Medifast looks very attractive. The company also has a potentially huge global opportunity but only recently moved to grow internationally with expansion into Hong Kong and Singapore 2019. Europe and South America and Australia would also make excellent markets.
CEO Dan Chard’s comments this week suggest the bright outlook has not changed. 2021 targets for revenue of $1,000 million and 15% operational margins remain. That would generate net income of $115 million if we apply the current effective tax rate. The $115.58 stock price at Fridays close would represent a forward earnings multiple of just 11.7 (TTM PE 19). With a strong growth forecast, the stock looks cheap.

Cardlytics $CDLX reported preliminary Q4 revenues this week that were up 44% at $69 million and thrashed estimates of $59 million. The digital advertiser uses a proprietary native bank advertising channel that enables marketers to reach consumers through their trusted and frequently visited online and mobile banking channels.
However Cardlytics’ main advantage is the use of purchase intelligence outside the banking channel to boost advertising effectiveness. It’s not difficult to see why knowing what customers have bought in the past is a good predictor of what they will buy in the future. The company claims that its return on ad spend (ROAS) is 10x the industry average at $30 for each $1 spent.
The stock price has risen 22% since the announcement but (valued at 11.3x revenues) still looks reasonable compared to peers such as The Trade Desk (valued at 21x). With a huge ROAS advantage, it seems likely that strong growth will continue.

Value Stocks (Samsung, Signet and Fluent)
Fool.com reported that this is an exciting and pivotal time for NVIDIA. The company remains at the forefront of gaming and is well placed to thrive in the new frontiers which lie in data center, artificial intelligence, and automotive applications. However, if the valuation at 35x forward earnings is too much for you (and you don’t mind looking abroad) then perhaps Samsung Electronics ($005930.KS) is a better buy.
Samsung has a dominant position in memory chips and memory demand is exploding with the roll out of 5G and applications in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The company is currently trading on just 9x last years earnings. Additionally, net cash (including short term investments) is equivalent to a remarkable 25% of its total valuation.

Signet Jewelers $SIG stock price jumped 40% on Thursday after the company reported a significant beat and raise. The company, whose outlets include Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared, said comps were up 1.6% as a 13.5% growth in digital sales helped offset a 0.2% decline in brick and mortar sales. That’s encouraging as it seems jewelry buyers switching to online channels prefer to buy from names they know and trust. The retailer still faces headwinds but its valuation doesn’t look expensive. EPS guidance was raised to $3.42 to $3.56 from $2.99 to $3.26 meaning, even after the recent price jump, the $29.52 stock is valued at just 8.4x earnings.

Fluent, Inc. $FLNT announced on Tuesday that it expects to exceed its previously provided guidance for full-year 2019 with revenue now anticipated to be $280.8 - $281.8 million, representing growth of 12% and an increase from previous guidance of $265 - $267 million.
The company operates in a fast growing, fast changing and competitive sector - digital marketing. It has built up a huge database of (150 million+) that it can target on behalf of clients. It uses competitions to get details and, importantly, gets consent from clients to contact them. A former CEO has said that if European data protection laws were introduced in the US it would give Fluent a huge advantage as it (largely) already has consent. Indeed Europe offers a huge potential market for Fluent and the company has already reportedly started testing in the UK.
The news this week is an important development for Fluent whose stock has not had a good year. The data driven digital marketer is down 60% (with a valuation of 0.8x sales and 1.1x book) from the years highs after reducing guidance, not once but twice.
In fairness, management have been clear throughout that the outlook for the core advertising platform remains very good. The drop in revenues and rising costs are due to the company exiting peripheral ventures that have been explored and not met revenue/return targets (as well as a couple of bad debts deemed unrecoverable).
The recent results support that thesis and suggests growth should accelerate once the headwind of exiting non core businesses passes.

Insider (RumbleOn)
Both the CFO and a director at RumbleOn $RMBL each picked up $114,000 of stock on Tuesday following $90,000 of purchases by the CEO last month. (Warning RumbleOn is a high risk nano cap stock)
Make no mistake RumbleOn is tiny with a market cap of just $16 million. A development stage e-commerce platform that facilitates consumers and dealers to buy, sell, trade, and finance pre-owned recreational vehicles. It primarily focuses on pre-owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles and other powersports and also provides third-party financing services. However, it is growing rapidly leveraging its capital-light network of 17 regional partnerships and disrupting the old-school pre-owned vehicle dealerships. Thats a massive and highly fragmented market with around $1 trillion of sales.
RumbleOn expects to achieve its first quarter of EBITDA profitability in 2020 and have a full year of EBITDA profitability in 2021. That seems reasonable given recent growth. In November Q3 results reported revenues of $220 million compared to just $19 million in 2018. Last week the company reported preliminary results expecting full year 2019 revenue range to $837.7 million to $840.7 million compared to $156 million in 2018. Margins are tight but the company is moving swiftly from dealers to consumer sales which are almost three times as profitable.
RumbleOn CEO Marshall Chesrown said “We are pleased with the progress we are making” going on to add “We continue to expect an acceleration in unit and revenue growth in the first half of 2020”.
The company is a high risk development stage nano cap with dilution being more of a certainty than a risk. However its fast growth suggests it is resonating well with users and, if it is even slightly successful in winning a small share of the huge vehicle sales market, current stock holders should do very well.

"Follow" me if you would like to be informed of updates during the week.
This is not a recommendation to buy or sell. Stocks are not suitable for everyone. Some of the stocks mentioned are risky small cap and/or highly speculative. Please do your own research.
submitted by InterestingNews1 to stocks [link] [comments]

Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning November 11th, 2019

Good Saturday morning to all of you here on wallstreetbets. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week ahead.
Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning November 11th, 2019.

The market rally will soon be tested by a big Trump speech and testimony from the Fed chief - (Source)

Progress in trade talks and a steady, but accomodative Fed policy have eased the way for the stock market’s rally to new highs, and both will be in the forefront when President Donald Trump and Jerome Powell speak at separate events in the week ahead.
Against a backdrop of a stabilizing global economy, stocks have hit new highs and bond yields have pushed higher, particularly in the past week with a 23 basis point surge in the 10-year Treasury yield. Yields move opposite price, and the 10-year rose to end the week at 1.94%, its highest closing level since Aug. 1, the day Trump threatened another round of tariffs on China.
Trump speaks to the Economic Club of New York during a Tuesday luncheon, and investors are hoping for clarity on a possible trade deal. The Fed chairman speaks Wednesday to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, and he also appears before the House Budget Committee Thursday.
There are a few key economic reports, including CPI on Wednesday and retail sales and industrial production on Friday. Empire State manufacturing survey Friday could provide a fresh look at the manufacturing sector in the New York region. Just a few major earnings are expected in the week ahead, including Cisco Wednesday and Walmart and NVIDIA on Thursday.
But trade is likely to remain the more important wild card for markets, as the calendar edges closer to Dec. 15, the date new tariffs on consumer goods from China would go into effect if there is no deal. The House of Representatives also hold impeachment hearings before the public for the first time in the coming week, but the markets have so far ignored the topic and see it unlikely that the Senate would convict the president.

Stock records

Stocks continued to rally to new highs this past week, and the major indices all ended the week at record levels, as bonds sold off hard. Stock market gains were limited part of the session Friday after Trump said that he has not agreed to the tariff rollbacks sought by China.
The S&P 500 was higher for a fifth week, up 0.9%, and is now up about 1.8% for November so far. The S&P closed at 3,093 Friday.
“President Trump is always unpredictable, so we’ll have to see what he says,” said Ed Keon, chief investment strategist at QMA.
Keon expects a trade agreement of some sort in the near future, and that should help risk markets to advance.
“The way we’ve been interpreting this is it probably amounts to a truce. The United States has been using this rhetoric that it’s a phase one deal. China has not embraced the same rhetoric. So I don’t know if we’ll get major progress on the thornier issues in the first deal,” Keon said. “The other question is how hard does the president push in an election year to make further progress in the negotiations, given that China might dig in its heels? That’s unknowable. I have no insight into what the president is going to do.”
Cowen policy strategist Chris Krueger said Trump’s address Tuesday could be important for the direction of a deal. “In our minds, the most critical sections will deal with trade and whether Trump is favoring the “phase one” deal with China and a scheduled rollback of the tariffs. This could well be a trial balloon to gauge the ferocity of expected pushback from influential China hawks. Trump will give remarks and then take questions from two moderators,” wrote Krueger.
Powell’s testimony is not expected to have as much potential to rock markets, after the clear message he sent to markets following the Fed’s rate cut Oct. 30.
“I would expect the chairman to continue the rhetoric he had at his last press conference. They’re probably on hold. It will depend on the data. If anything the data looks a little more promising on the margin. Certainly the consumer and service sector appear to be doing fine and with the GM strike ending, some of the things impacted by that should improve,” said Keon. “They think rates are appropriate for now, and if the economy weakens, they’ll be prepared to take further action.”
The health of the global economy has been a topic of concern in markets for months, but with the global rise in yields and signs of improvement in global PMI data, investors have clearly become more optimistic.
“I’ve been kind of skeptical most of the year, but I do think at the margin, the economic outlook has improved, especially outside the United States,” said Keon. “The recession talk that was pretty active just a month or two ago has really died down. The yield curve is dramatically uninverted. I feel a little better about the economic outlook.”
When the yield curve becomes inverted, short term rates, like the 2-year note yield for instance, rise above the long end, or the 10-year yield. That is very often a recession warning, as investors bet that the economy will be weaker in the longer term than it is in the near term. But there’s been a sudden shift, and now those curves are getting steeper.
Keon said the higher yields are a positive sign, and he is adding to stock holdings, but more in foreign names. “The sense Europe was heading into a recession has died off, and there are signs things are stabilizing,” he said. “This could all change in a minute but it looks like the overall outlook has significantly picked up in the last month or two.”
Dan Suzuki, portfolio strategist at Richard Bernstein Advisors, said he is still cautious about the improvement, though earnings were not as bad as expected, the Fed has cut rates and the trade situation appears to be improving. “That combined with green shoots on the macro front, the markets have really taken that and run with it,” he said, adding the move may have been too optimistic. “It’s out-sized relative to the significance of the data.”
Suzuki said he needs to see more proof that U.S. manufacturing has stabilized, as many believe. ISM manufacturing was better in October than in September, but it is still in contraction. “Why is this definitely the bottom? The jury’s still out,” he said.
“I think you have to answer the question—if this is the bottom and growth is going to rebound here, what’s going to be the catalyst for that?...I don’t see anything in the data that suggests there’s going to be a big rebound for any of those fronts. I see more headwinds to growth than I see tail winds,” he said. “On the investment side, it would be highly unusual to see a big rebo

This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL S&P TREE MAP FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Indices for this past week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR INDICES FOR THE PAST WEEK!)

Major Futures Markets as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE MAJOR FUTURES INDICES AS OF FRIDAY!)

Economic Calendar for the Week Ahead:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ECONOMIC CALENDAR FOR THE WEEK AHEAD!)

Sector Performance WTD, MTD, YTD:

(CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S PERFORMANCE!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE WEEK-TO-DATE PERFORMANCE!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE MONTH-TO-DATE PERFORMANCE!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE 3-MONTH PERFORMANCE!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE YEAR-TO-DATE PERFORMANCE!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE 52-WEEK PERFORMANCE!)

Percentage Changes for the Major Indices, WTD, MTD, QTD, YTD as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

S&P Sectors for the Past Week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Major Indices Pullback/Correction Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!

Major Indices Rally Levels as of Friday's close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Most Anticipated Earnings Releases for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Here are the upcoming IPO's for this week:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Friday's Stock Analyst Upgrades & Downgrades:

(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #1!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #2!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #3!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART LINK #4!)

November Expiration Week: S&P 500 & DJIA Best

DJIA has been up 10 of the last 15 years on Monday of expiration week and Friday is up 13 of the last 17 years with an average gain of 0.45%. By the way, it is not a mistake that November Op-Ex day has the same point change and percent change in 2014 and 2015. It was triple checked and its correct. If you go out 2 more decimal places in the percentage calculation, it’s different.
S&P 500, NASDAQ and Russell 2000 have not been as bullish as DJIA around or on November option expiration. S&P 500 has advanced only 16 times during options expiration week while NASDAQ and Russell 2000 have climbed only 15 and 14 times respectively over the past 25 years. All four indices have posted average losses on Monday and aside from DJIA and S&P 500 have been essentially mixed on options expiration day. Friday’s solid average gains across the board are largely due to a sizable gain in 2008. Any weakness next week could be a good entry point for new longs ahead of the usually bullish Thanksgiving holiday.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

S&P 500 Price vs 50-DMA

The S&P 500 has been on a seemingly uninterrupted run higher over the last several days, but by some measures, it may not be as extended as you would think. The chart below shows the historical percentage spread between the S&P 500 and its 50-day moving average (DMA) over the last three years. Through Thursday's close, the S&P 500 was 3.2% above its 50-DMA, which is relatively high but nowhere near an extreme. The red line in the chart below shows the current percentage spread between the S&P 500's price and its 50-DMA. There have been a number of times since the 2016 election where this spread was higher with the most recent being back in July. In fact, 17% of all prior days in the last three years have seen the S&P 500 close at a higher level relative to its 50-DMA than it is now. That doesn't mean the market isn't overbought, but it's not exactly at unprecedented levels either.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Leaders and Laggards Since FOMC

We've now had nearly a full week of trading since last Wednesday's FOMC meeting where Fed Chair Powell suggested that the punch bowl isn't going to be taken away anytime soon. During that time, we've seen a real shift in leadership as defensive sectors have sold off while cyclical sectors have been on fire. Energy - yes, Energy - has been the top-performing sector with a gain of 3.5% while Industrials aren't far behind with a gain of 2.8%, Behind these two, Technology and Financials have also comfortably outperformed the S&P 500's gain of 1.2%. On the downside, Real Estate and Utilities, two of the market's most popular sectors for much of 2019 due to their dividend yields, have both dropped over 1% while Consumer Staples and Health Care have also sold off.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
Due to the fact that we are also in the thick of earnings season, it's a bit more difficult to see how the Fed's actions last week impacted individual stocks as some of the best and worst performances over the last week have been earnings-related. With that caveat, the tables below list the best and worst-performing S&P 500 stocks over the last week. Starting off with the winners, three S&P 500 stocks are up over 20% in the last week, and all three were due to earnings reports. Overall, 12 stocks have rallied over 10%, while all 25 of the top performers are up over 7%. In terms of sector representation on the list, nearly a third (8) of the stocks on the list are from the Technology sector, while another five come from the Consumer Discretionary sector. The remaining 12 stocks on the list come from five different sectors.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)
On the downside, 8 of the 25 worst performers since last week's FOMC meeting are down over 10% with Arista Networks (ANET) losing nearly a quarter of its value. Again, ANET's decline was tied to an earnings report as opposed to a reaction to the FOMC. In terms of overall sector representation, though, the underperformance of the Real Estate sector highlighted above is also evident on this list as eight of the companies listed come from that sector.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

The Few, the Lowly, the Laggards

With less than two months left to go in 2019, the S&P 500 is sitting on a gain of nearly 23% YTD, and all but two of the index's 24 industry groups are up by at least double-digit percentages. The two laggards are Energy (+4.5%) and Drugs and Biotechs (+5.5%), while the three strongest groups are all from the Technology sector (Tech Hardware: +44.8%, Semis: +37.7%, and Software: +32.8%). Surprisingly enough, Banks are even starting to move up the performance list as that group is up just a hair under 30% on the year putting it in fifth place on a YTD basis.
The table below lists where each of the S&P 500's Industry Groups is currently trading with respect to its 50-DMA. While you would expect just about everything to be extended after the recent leg higher, that's not the case. The S&P 500 as a whole is just 3% above its 50-DMA, and just five groups are more than 5% above their 50-DMAs. The two most extended groups are Tech Hardware (think Apple) and Banks. On the downside, there are actually as many Industry Groups trading below their 50-DMAs as there are groups trading more than 5% above their 50-DMAs. As shown at the bottom of the table, Consumer Services, Real Estate, Household & Personal Products, Commercial Services, and Utilities are all currently below their 50-DMAs. These aren't groups that have been lagging the market all year. In fact, three of them are outperforming the S&P 500 on a year to date basis, but in the majority of cases, these are defensive-oriented groups that have fallen out of favor as the market's sentiment has shifted and rates have risen.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Seasonally Strong Period, But…

As I head to Las Vegas for my annual pilgrimage to @MoneyShows TradersEXPO I am both thrilled and shocked to hear everybody on Wall Street and the financial media talking about bullish yearend market seasonality and practically every one of them has used the phrase, “seasonally strong period.”
I’m thrilled because it validates what we already know and what I live and breathe: that there are clear evidence-based results of real, consistent, tradable and investable seasonal market patterns. I am shocked at how late many of them are to the party. We’ve been in bullish Best Six Months mode since our Seasonal MACD Buy Signal on October 11.
Since our October 11 Buy Signal we have tactically maneuvered out of our defensive positions in Bonds, Cyclicals, Utilities and others and into the main U.S. equity index ETFs: DIA, SPY, QQQ and IWM and the gamut of seasonally strong growth sectors over three weeks ago. We also put out a brand new Stock Basket of undervalued growth stocks under Wall Street’s radar.
Market seasonality is clearly firing on all pistons as it has been all year, but everyone’s is jumping on the seasonal bandwagon just a two regular seasonal soft patches are about to come around on the calendar. Now that our Bullish Halloween Trading Strategy is complete with some big market gains at the end of October and the beginning of November we are on the lookout for weakness ahead of Thanksgiving.
Next week is two weeks before Thanksgiving and we’ve shown in several recent posts, it is part of the mid-November soft patch. Then stocks usually pick up in anticipation of Thanksgiving and continue to rally through the end of November. After thanksgiving watch out, the first couple weeks of December are notoriously choppy and not especially bullish as tax-loss selling kicks into high gear.
With the market elevated and the news ever changing, stocks will be vulnerable to these perennial weak spots.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Presidential Cycle Stars Align for Stocks in 2020

Despite all of the geopolitical events, things still look good for stocks next year with an incumbent running. The potential for a decent trade truce with China, along with an economy that’s still growing and accommodative interest rates add up to a continuation of the bull market.
With the Stock Trader’s Almanac 2020 coming off the press this week here’s a little preview of some our analysis and outlook that’s in the 53rd Annual Edition.
Presidential incumbency is a powerful phenomenon and the driving force behind the 4-Year Presidential Election Cycle. This quadrennial quadrille is what has made the Pre-Election Year the best year of the cycle and Election Year second best. Since 1952 S&P 500 is up 12.5% on average in election years when a sitting president is running for reelection vs. 6.7% in all election years and –1.5% in election years with an open field and no incumbent commander-in-chief running for a second term.
We are also arguably now experiencing some fiscal and monetary policy synchronicity. After several years of conflicting policy the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Federal government are finally getting in synch. Interest rates are historically low and the Fed has lowered rates again at the last three scheduled FOMC meetings at the same time as fiscal policy has been lowering taxes and increasing spending. These dual pro-growth policies should continue to propel the stock market higher.
Gains will of course not come without pause and correction. The world stage will continue to feature some challenging geopolitical, political, diplomatic, trade-related and economic storylines. U.S. presidential campaign politics will increasingly focus on domestic political disputes, standoffs and unfinished business – as well as impeachment proceedings. But when all is said and done, we expect 2020 to be a positive year based on the historical patterns and cycles and current favorable policies, healthy economics, and positive market behavior.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Pre-Election Year Patterns: A November Market Pause

Now that we’ve survived Octoberphobia and the market has begun to strengthen again, breaking out above resistance and logging new highs on DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ, we are likely to experience a bit of consolidation here in November. Normally the top S&P month of the year and #2 for DJIA, NASDAQ and the Russell 2000, November has been weaker in Pre-Election Years.
As you can see in the updated chart of Pre-Election Year Seasonal Patterns overlaid with 2019 we have been tracking all year November tends to be flat in the Pre-Election Year with a pop around Thanksgiving. Then after the usual first half of December softness the market tends to push toward additional new highs near yearend. Considering the banner performance so far this year and the uncanny tracking of this historical seasonal pattern, we expect the stock to consolidate over the next few weeks and then resume its march higher.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

Bulls Stay in Motion

“An object in motion tends to remain in motion along a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.” Sir Isaac Newton
What a year it has been for the bulls. The S&P 500 Index recently made four more new highs, and it’s up more than 20% for the year (as of Nov. 4). This leads to the big question: What could happen in the final two months of 2019? Well, we think the bulls might like it.
“A good year tends to see continued strong performance the final two months of the year,” explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “In fact, when the S&P 500 has been up 20% or more for the year heading into the usually bullish November, stocks have never dropped in November, while December also has tended to see a strong upward bias.”
As the LPL Chart of the day shows, going back to 1950, when the S&P 500 was up more than 20% heading into November, then the final two months were up an average of 6.2%. The S&P 500 has also never fallen in the final two months of the year after closing October up more than 20% for the year.
This phenomenon could be due to portfolio managers buying to play catch-up, or it could be that an object in motion stays in motion, as Newton noted more than 300 years ago.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE CHART!)

STOCK MARKET VIDEO: Stock Market Analysis Video for Week Ending November 8th, 2019

([CLICK HERE FOR THE YOUTUBE VIDEO!]())
(VIDEO NOT YET POSTED!)

STOCK MARKET VIDEO: ShadowTrader Video Weekly 11.10.19

(CLICK HERE FOR THE YOUTUBE VIDEO!)
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S MOST NOTABLE EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR NEXT WEEK'S HIGHEST VOLATILITY EARNINGS RELEASES!)
(CLICK HERE FOR MOST ANTICIPATED EARNINGS RELEASES FOR THE NEXT 5 WEEKS!)
Below are some of the notable companies coming out with earnings releases this upcoming trading week ahead which includes the date/time of release & consensus estimates courtesy of Earnings Whispers:

Monday 11.11.19 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Monday 11.11.19 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR MONDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Tuesday 11.12.19 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Tuesday 11.12.19 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR TUESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 11.13.19 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Wednesday 11.13.19 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR WEDNESDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 11.14.19 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Thursday 11.14.19 After Market Close:

(CLICK HERE FOR THURSDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 11.15.19 Before Market Open:

(CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S PRE-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!)

Friday 11.15.19 After Market Close:

([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]())
NONE.

DISCUSS!

What are you all watching for in this upcoming trading week?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a great trading week ahead wallstreetbets.
submitted by bigbear0083 to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

How to Margin Trade (Long or Short) on Kraken Exchange! What is Margin Trading?  Fidelity - YouTube How Short Selling Works - YouTube Complete guide to margin trading on Binance - YouTube Day-Trading Short Selling Strategy

Jakarta - Badan Pengawas Pasar Modal dan Lembaga Keuangan (Bapepam-LK) memperjelas aturan main transaksi margin dan short selling. Bapepam tidak mau lagi transaksi tersebut mengguncang Lanlan Liu, Dan Luo, Ningru Zhao, Short-selling Activity and Return Predictability: Evidence from the Chinese Stock Market, Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, 10.1080/1540496X.2019.1694895, (1-23), (2019). Stock trading has been allowed in Islam because it does not conflict with Islamic principles. It is similar to other common commodity trading, because in this stock market we can find stock's seller and buyer, object to be traded, and its market. Short Selling vs. Put Options: An Overview . Purchasing a put option and entering into a short sale transaction are the two most common ways for traders to profit when the price of an underlying Margin trading allows you to buy more stock than you'd be able to normally. So, with margin buying you borrow money to buy shares, whereas in short selling you borrow shares to sell later. Short interest. Short interest and short interest ratio (SIR) are two metrics that are used to track how heavily a stock has been sold short:

[index] [2634] [838] [2678] [2287] [2044] [1756] [861] [611] [2112] [2104]

How to Margin Trade (Long or Short) on Kraken Exchange!

Example of how short selling on margin works. William Ackman: Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour Big Think - Duration: 43:57. Big Think 4,554,156 views If you'd like to support the channel, you can do so at Patreon.com/ThePlainBagel :) Short selling lets investors bet against a stock, profiting when it falls... Bitcoin will crash 75% soon in 2020 before the 2021 BTC bull run can begin! price targets, TA & NYSE - Duration: 29:11. OPTICALARTdotCOM 86,738 views Your A to Z on margin trading with Binance. Learn everything from opening your account, how to long and short and how to repay margin loans. Subscribe to kee... 📌TIMESTAMPS! 1:33 Margin Level Recap 4:00 Short Sell Trade 9:04 Close/Settle Short Position 15:45 Execute your margin trade the "automatic" way 17:35 Positio...

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