Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Big Picture View of the Brewing World Financial Crack-up

The legacy of zero interest rates for 7 years has already planted the seeds of our next financial crisis. Super low interest rates, various QEs and China have inflated bubbles in equities, bonds, and housing since the 2008/2009 bust.   (After the great recession, it was China and the largest debt-fueled spending binge in history that "saved" the world -- something that can't happen again.). Housing prices are now much higher than the 2007 peak and rents have sky-rocketed.  Oh and add the bubbles in subprime auto loans, subprime student loans and the related tuition inflation. But the bubbles are starting to burst as the tide of liquidity has been ebbing all year -- and even before Yellen decided to raise the Fed Funds rate this week.

The lowest quality Junk bonds are falling sharply in value this month. This is not a good thing. In my blog, Two Charts That Show the Financial Crisis is Already Here, I show the fact that Junk bond issuance in just the past 3 years alone is about 3 times the magnitude of the subprime mortgage bubble in 2007. And recall that the 'blow-up' of subprime mortgages nearly caused the 2nd Great Depression. I don't know the magnitude of subprime credit overseas, but soon, if not already, all the debt of commodity producers and commodity producing country sovereign debts will be subprime with defaults galore in the coming months. The sovereign debt of Brazil was lowered to junk status this week, for example. We're in a slow-motion crash. It might speed up before it's over. Why?

Maybe it's explained by a trend of falling liquidity?  One of the biggest global factors in world finance and leverage in the past 20 years has been the rise and fall of Eurodollars including derivative products such as interest rate swaps. See the graph below taken from Jeffrey Snider at Alhambra Investment Partners. The Eurodollar's (and Asia dollar) rise drove interest rates lower in the 1990s and 2000s and funded the "world" and financial markets. It was "the wind at our back" for every financial instrument related to rates for a decade or so. But it all came undone in 2008 and 2009, only to be temporarily resuscitated by 2011 via QEs all over the world. But, ever since then, it's been downhill -- meaning lower bank leverage and liquidity. The "wind at our back" has turned into the "wind in our face."

The recent fall of this Eurodollar leverage may be most significant large-scale and long term trend that explains the collapse in China and commodities. And you can see the effect of this reduced leverage when Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley announce repeated capital raises, layoffs, and/or dividend cuts. Their trading in leveraged products is shrinking as economic activity is slowing. They go hand in hand. World equities are falling and global trade is declining.

Our schoolmarm-ish Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the vast minions of clueless statististians, and over-educated PhDs, and who have no real world experience, appear blind to this major trend at the heart of the recent and persistent world-wide economic malaise.

So, the Fed Reserve raised the largely symbolic Fed Funds to 0.25 to 0.50 this week. The problem is not the rate rise itself, but even a small 0.25% rise in Fed Funds rate surely will require some removal of liquidity (reduce excess reserves?) at a time when liquidity is already shrinking world-wide. Maybe it had to happen, but I don't think the Fed knows what they are doing. Here's another graph showing shrinking liquidity in 2015 reflecting the same message as the first graphic above.

Global Liquidity Shrinking Before the Fed Raised Rates
The Federal Reserve, who is supposed to be so sophisticated, is completely missing evidence that their narrative of a strong economy is dead wrong. They appear clueless to the growing evidence of recession in the US and world.

The world and US is tilting toward recession. The fall of Junk credit (and yields rising) is giving a fairly clear signal that a recession is starting in the US. Rates of 16% for a large swath of job producing smaller enterprises snuffs-out any hope of job growth. And already a fairly wide variety of countries in the world are in recession including Canada, Japan, Brazil, Russia and nearly all of the commodity producing countries. Europe may not be in recession but it's close. China appears to be imploding under the weight of bad debt. Recession abroad has caused US exports to decline which hurts US GDP.

Even most will admit that US manufacturing is in recession. Yeah they say, but it's only 12% of the economy, right?  Well, the problem is that manufacturing drives many other sectors, such as transportation and employment.  It's no coincidence that the Dow Transportation index is down 20% this year. If manufacturing is in recession, it won't be long before there is a general recession. Already US retail sales in 2015 are the worst since 1990 and they are 70% of the US economy.

US Retail Sales (Ex-Autos) Is Worse Than Recession Levels. Depression Levels?

US Retail Sales Is Worse Than Recession Levels. Depression Levels?

Let's sum up the indicators that are nearly shouting recession: US durable goods orders are declining, US retail sales in 2015 are as weak as they have ever been outside of the great recession in 2008/2009, US ISM manufacturing is shrinking, Global trade is declining. US exports are declining. US corporate revenues are declining and corporate profits are now down year over year. These things don't occur together except in contractions. Due to high debt levels across the world, and with interest rates already at near zero levels, this next contraction will last for a long time since there are no policy tools to offset it.

US Manufacturing In Contraction Late in 2015
All of the commodity producers are already in recession due to commodity prices dropping to multi-decade lows. This, in turn, causes demand for US exports to decline.

Global Trade is Declining
Yep, time to raise interest rates, Janet. They don't know what they are doing. But does anyone is the US government know what they are doing? Nope.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Time For A New American Revolution: Burn Down Our Bloated, Failing Central Planning Bureaucracy!

Much of the Federal Government and Federal Reserve "central planning" bureaucracies should be largely burnt to the ground. There are so many failures and it is so expensive that they are threatening our Nation. The "Government" colossus is marching our once-great country to ruin. Anything the US Government touches turns to shit. How can anyone want more of it?? Dismantle it! Devolve power back to the States. Save our nation from financial and social ruin!
  • Socialized medicine as exemplified by the Veterans Administration is delivering sub-par care and killing veterans (higher infection rates due to poor management and unclean conditions) at an astronomic cost. It can't be fixed because Socialism can't be fixed. Privatize it!
  • The chronic failure that is known as AMTRAK delivers sub-par, slow, Soviet-style service. It's slow and shabby. It shows what happens when the government tries to run anything. Privatize it! Amtrak crashes are killing passengers. The VA is killing veterans. How bad does it have to get for people to recognize that Big Government doesn't work?
  • The US Postal service has now become like Amtrak: a chronic financial failure. Privatize it! Japan and the UK just did. The fact that this isn't under consideration right now is another example of the failure of Big Government. "Oversight" is a sad joke.
  • Even our Defense Department is a failure. At $700 billion per year, it hasn't won a war since World War II. The Korean War was a draw, but we've lost all of the others. And we're causing chaos wherever we intervene such as Iraq and Afghanistan. We should have recognized our failure when we deposed Saddam Hussein, but the next administration worked to depose Assad, Gaddafi AND Mubarak, then suddenly abandoned the failed Iraq "experiment" setting up the rise of ISIS. All of these disasters are of the highest magnitude. What a complete and utter disaster!! I'm not writing this out of intellectual interest. Millions of people have died! Next is world war and millions more losing their lives. Didn't Ron Paul warn us about this??
  • Our TSA and Homeland Security is nearly a complete waste of money. The TSA missed 95% of planted fake bombs meant to "test" the screener's effectiveness. Only the Government can fuck up something this bad. Not surprisingly, the TSA has never caught a "terrorist." The whole thing is a joke since we should profile Middle Easterners from primarily Muslim countries and save $billions per year. Instead, we still grope millions of little white-haired ladies and middle-aged men in a ridiculous charade. Turn over airport security to local governments or the airlines. They couldn't do worse than the Feds! Don't get me started on Political correctness either regarding profiling!
  • In the case of the Boston Bombers, our vast bureaucracies failed to identify them and then, after their attack thousands of Homeland security and FBI agents swarmed into Boston with all their expensive vehicles to look for the Boston bombers. But it was local police, local citizens and and ordinary police work that caught the Boston bombers. Who needs the zillions of Federal agents and the vast and expensive bureaucracy? We need the FBI is all. Get rid of Homeland. Repeal the Patriot Act.
  • The NSA has only caught 1 or 2 "terrorists" in it's long existence and at an astronomic cost. Now, we find out, through "mission creep" (due to a failure of oversight and nonexistent budgeting) that it's monitoring your emails, tweets, any internet activities and your phone calls -- all against the Constitution. And it keeps growing and growing and hacking into foreign governments, spying on foreign leaders, reading their emails. We are not even allowed to know all the shit that they are doing! But you can rest assured that none of it is good. Burn it down! Repeal the Patriot Act.
  • You have the Federal Reserve, our Central Bankers, are just massive central planners now. They have two mandates: to control inflation and maintain a sound banking system. Now it is clear that they have created 2 devastating financial crises in the past 15 years and a 3rd one is starting as I write this. Their bizarre monetary "experiments" of ZIRP, currency debasement and "money printing" are bringing ruin to this nation. This is about as far away from sound money as could be. For 7 years they have punished every saver in this country with zero interest rates to prop-up unworthy banks. Things have gotten so perverse that, rather than controlling inflation, they're trying to create it! And failing at that too (except soaring rent, health insurance and food!) They've managed to reignite a new and bigger housing bubble too. They just raised interest rates for the 1st time in 9 years as the economy is sliding into recession. The Fed Reserve has failed to predict every recession in recent history. What good are they? They only cause trouble! Burn it down! Ban "money printing" or eliminate the Federal Reserve entirely.
  • The "Government," including the Federal Reserve, caused the crisis of 2008/2009 and we are still suffering from it. At least six administrations boosted a housing bubble through favorable tax incentives, low rates and shoddy supervision. The FHA, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve and Fannie Mae all helped create the great housing crisis and resulting bust. They're still at it! They are creating a new bubble in housing and everything else! Ruination is in our future thank to "government."
  • The SEC is a complete failure. It's allowing high frequency traders, who collect a small amount on zillions of trades, are front-running investors. How else can they consistently make $billions?? The SEC failed to do their job in 2004 to 2007 as banks were throwing themselves headlong in mortgage-backed securities with questionable and fraudulent origins. Regulators failed to regulate and failed to do so at an astronomic cost! Burn it down! Even Mark Cuban, wrongly persecuted by the SEC and ultimately vindicated, says "Burn it down!"
  • Defenders of big government cite the "success" of Medicare and Social Security. But, the Democrats refuse to acknowledge that Social Security and Medicare are in the late stages of a demographic crisis where the number of workers compared to beneficiaries is rapidly dropping toward 2 to 1 (from 16 to 1 at conception).
  • Even as SS and Medicare is a long-run demographic disaster in the making, Obama had to enact ANOTHER entitlement that is already failing. ObamaCare, sold by promises that are all proven wrong and false, will add to the deficit forever. It's caused a huge cost burden for the average American and has dramatically hurt 98% percent of the country while helping only 2%. All along, since inception, the administration has been giving misleading enrollment data. Now, more than 50% of the Federal Co-ops have already failed and health insurance companies, reduced to being a "utility" for the inept Fed bureaucracy, are losing money. It won't be long before they ask for a bail out. Even the website development for O'care was a joke that only "Government" and government grade ineptitude can "accomplish."
  • It's not just health insurance costs that the government is inflating. Government guaranteed student loan debt is fueling a huge and unsustainable increase in college tuition costs and student debt. That bubble has reached $1.25 Trillion, enslaving an entire generation with debt. The whole thing is blowing up as delinquencies have reached 17% and rising. Proving that government never fixes anything, they are still enabling more and more of this debt -- and bailing out delinquents at the same time! You'll soon read articles that much of that money was spent on everything BUT college costs.
  • "Your" government can't even remotely manage immigration! They can't do anything right! When I get an annual visa for Thailand, I have to report to an immigration office every 3 months to declare my address and phone number. If I don't, the police come looking for me. And, if I overstay my visa, I get a big fat "OVERSTAY" stamp on my passport and have to pay a big fine!. Thailand manages immigration FAR better than the incompetent, insane and screwed-up US Federal Govt. And"your" government doesn't even want to monitor our porous southern border, The pathetic Obama administration is intentionally releasing nearly anyone and everyone and 99% of the released persons know they don't have to show up for immigration hearings! Screwed-up is not a strong enough phrase. And if the border States step-in to fill the gap, the Feds come down on the States with lawsuits.  It's time for States to challenge the Federal Government and kick 'em out! And if they come back with weapons, fight them with weapons. That's WHY we have a 2nd amendment. We will one day have to fight our own government.  It's time for a new American Revolution, except this time our enemy is the US government.
  • The "weaponized" EPA is now even harassing local homeowners for small ponds that they are building on their own land! Talk about mission creep! Jesus! They are out of control. Now, through a ridiculous abuse of the Clean Air Act, they are marching headlong to regulate every business in the country (and then every house?) to "control" carbon emissions. And they'll need carbon police too! All this due to Democratic Party worshiping the false idol of climate change. Get rid of the carbon regulation mandate (mission creep). Downsize it. Devolve power to the States and Localities! Get back to a true Federal system that we had for 2/3rds of our history!
Will we ever learn?? We need a right wing dictator to dismantle much of the failed government apparatus. Then we need to ban public unions from all levels of government to keep costs down.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Democratic Bias of US Media Made Perfectly Clear

Some 93% of mainstream media 'personalities' in the US Media are Democratic; nearly all of them. That's just a fact. And any pretense of independence was thrown out the window and bias exposed, in the hatred and condemnation evident in this week's emotional, vitriolic and ad hominem media attacks on Donald Trump. Their heads blew up! They called him Hitler, fascist, etc.

Trump dared challenge the false Democratic/media narrative, led by Obama, that 99.9% of Muslims are peace loving. That is patently false -- especially abroad -- as substantial minorities support Jihad. Trump merely suggested that we temporarily halt immigration of Muslims given the attacks in San Bernardino. He also said that we should "profile" to help contain the threat.

He also blew up the false narrative that Federal employees are able to "vet" these immigrants. Today it was reported that that the woman in the San Bernardino shootings has been openly advocating for violent Jihad for years on Facebook prior to her visa approval, but the Feds are forbidden to check social media in their "vetting" process!  Incompetence, stupidity, political correctness, and absurdity is the rule for the entire Federal bureaucracy -- all the way to the top.

But their reaction shows the media for what it is -- advocates and even the propaganda arm for the Left and Democratic party. Like all Democrats, their thinking and attacks are hysterical, emotional, and irrational. They are not only unfit to govern, but unfit to report news.

You could say that Trump screwed up by not saying that we should temporarily ban immigrants from certain countries in the Middle East including Syria and most of the other predominantly Islamic middle eastern countries.  But you can't even have this conservation with screeching, deranged people -- all Democrats.  Therein lies the crux of our problem.

But Democrats don't want a conversation. They think they know everything. But the truth is that they are wrong about everything.  Obama is wrong about everything.

The only one crazier than Trump is Obama who's plan is to bring MORE Muslim immigrants and to trust our "vetting process." He and the Media are complete fools.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Collapse Begins

The large US junk debt market has been crashing for a month now, with spreads/rates reaching 2009 crisis levels of up 17% interest rates. That's amazing in itself. See Two Charts That Show the Financial Crisis is Here.  Zero Hedge noted today that the last time Junk Bonds hit 17% interest rates, Lehman filed for bankruptcy (on Sept 15, 2008).

They went on to muse:
We can't wait to find out if indeed Yellen's first rate hike in 9 years this Wednesday unleashes a Lehman-like neutron bomb that leads to the full collapse of the junk bond market first, and then the shockwave spreads across all asset classes leading to the same financial devastation witnessed at the end of 2008, unleashing the longest period of "free capital markets" central planning the world has ever seen.
It might not be THAT dramatic or could it?  Just think about the meaning of 17% interest rates for a large portion of smaller US businesses-- in a zero interest rate world no less! These businesses are creating the jobs.. Large corporations can still borrow at 3 or 4% but big corporations don't create the jobs. And when they borrow, they are just buying back their stock, NOT hiring employees or investing. This is partly why there has been a poor recovery since 2009--no "real" business investment.

The reason for this current junk bond credit crunch is that liquidity and the economy are contracting. Those two things go hand in hand. All year, retail sales have been some of the worse seen in 30 years outside of the most severe recession of 2008. Durable goods orders are contracting, ISM manufacturing went below 50% last month. Business inventories are ominously rising and portend more production slowdowns. US exports are declining, world trade is declining, Manufacturing is in recession both here and abroad. All the commodity producing countries are in recession including Russia and Brazil. Also, Canada and Japan are in recession. Europe is near recession.

The US manufacturing recession will, in all likelihood, morph into a general recession and nearly certainly so if credit (and then equity markets) continue to crash. Rising business interest rates, in addition to the sinking business environment indicated above, is solidly recessionary.

Against this background, the Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen have insisted that the time is right to raise rates. They have a near-perfect record of being completely wrong, out-of-touch and are set to tighten monetary conditions at the worse possible time. Like the rest of Washington, they don't know what they are doing, they have no real world experience and they are so incompetent that they wouldn't make it in the private sector.

A Fed funds rate rise or not, it appears that, absent a reflation of oil and other commodity prices, sovereign debt of commodity producers will be junk and in distress, ie., Brazil debt will soon be downgraded with a potential EM contagion from there. Already Russia, Argentina, Ukraine, Venezuela, Brazil are facing crises with the potential of defaults. As is the likes of Glencore.

It's not yet apparent, but one or more of the European banks may be the next Lehman. Notice how Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and lately Morgan Stanley are cutting dividends, repeatedly raising capital and firing employees -- and that's before the environment is in crisis. Imagine what it will be like when there IS a crisis?

The Federal Reserve will revert to the only thing that they know how to do:  easing and money printing.  But money printing has already been discontinued as it no longer works.  They could print but the money just shows up on a balance sheet as "excess reserves"with some leakage into financial markets.

For it to make it into the real economy, money must be "lent into existence." I think ZIRP or NIRP will be a piss in a bucket compared to a tsunami of bad debt/defaults that may appear. Confidence is a delicate thing.

All this because the world abandoned the gold standard which anchored currencies to something limited that governments (and Central bank PhDs) cannot pervert. That anchor kept budget deficits and trade deficits limited. Instead, fiat money builds up huge imbalances -- both budget deficits and trade deficits that blow up. And we're not even mentioning the excess of leverage of all types.

One day, out of the ashes of world destruction, a new generation will re-establish a gold standard once most of world's "money" has gone to "money heaven." It's possible that world population will be much lower too as part of that destruction.

    Friday, December 11, 2015

    Unworthy Martyrs

    Why do the black activists and race hustlers like Obama, Holder and Sharpton and other black "leaders" choose such unworthy "martyrs" when they play the race card?  Perhaps it's because there are so few worthy ones?

    Race hustlers like Sharpton and Obama rally to cases where white police interact with black persons where there is the appearance of wrongdoing. The stupid and Liberal (adjectives that go hand in hand) media help to raise the ante in the court of public opinion. Naturally the media fail to report the fact police operate in environments where black persons commit many crimes at 7 times the rate of whites putting officers in a "war zone."

    But remember how notably silent they are when black perpetrators gun down white officers. This shows their true intent and bias: to start a race war, disrupt the social fabric of the country and start a campaign against law enforcement. It's outrageous that the President of the United States himself is complicit in that effort. Therefore he is complicit in murders of black persons in Baltimore when the city erupted in lawless, black-on-black violence when the police backed-off their duties in response to this war on police and the "witch hunt" trial of 6 police officers.

    Obama is also complicit in numerous murders of white police officers across the nation due to this war-on-law-enforcement "activism." Obama and Holder also coordinated protests using 'professional' protesters in Sanford and Ferguson, so they are also responsible for deaths and property loss in Ferguson riots -- riots that hurt only responsible black residents.

    I call those "high crimes and misdemeanors" and impeachable offenses.

    Notable are the recent cases of Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. But right away, it's easily apparent that all of them committed infractions, resisted arrest and failed to comply with officer's commands.

    Perhaps these "victims" act the way they do is because there are rarely daddies in the homes to teach basic lessons including the need to respect and cooperate with police? The likely root cause of their difficulties is a collapse of the black families whose decline started with Great Society income support that continues to reward the absence of a dad. When 72% of black families don't have a dad, and 90% of all black dads are emotionally or otherwise unavailable, the result is wild children who are in constant trouble with civilized society.

    Gray and Garner had huge rap sheets. Gray had 18 arrests. Garner had 30 arrests since 1980 on charges such as assault, resisting arrest and grand larceny. Sandra Bland had 10 run-ins with police officers in Chicago and Texas. She was in arrears by some $7,500 in past due traffic fines. I'm surprised there weren't warrants out for her arrest. Maybe there were?

    Eric Garner, the 350 lb black guy in Manhattan, who resisted arrest was wrestled to the ground. He was reported to have said "you're choking me, you're choking me" at least 15 times while wrestling with police -- proving beyond a shadow of doubt that he WAS NOT choking. (how could he have the breath to say that repeatedly if his airway was restricted?) The officers wrestled him on the ground but his death was a cardiac event on the way to the police station. A grand jury declined to indict officers.

    Egg on all the race-baiting faces.

    Michael Brown, the thug in Ferguson, who was caught on surveillance video robbing a convenience store and assaulting the clerk minutes before his run-in with Officer Wilson, also apparently had a 2nd degree murder charge as a juvenile (records sealed).  The grand jury and forensics confirmed that he fought then charged Wilson. Is there any doubt that his life would have been a life of crime? He was hardly the "gentle giant" the media tried to portray. ABCNews, a thoroughly discredited and incompetent media outlet, continued to portray Michael as an angelic kid who was going to college, even a day after the convenience store video blew up all the credibility of all those involved. The claim that Michael was going to college was a complete fabrication. He was heading to jail.

    Egg on all the black, race-baiting, and incompetent media faces.

    Sandra Bland, who was arrested by a cop in Waller County, Texas, committed suicide three days after her family refused to bail her out. She became a media darling for the "political correctness"crowd and Black Lives Matter crowd. The family blamed the police for her death.

    But Sandra had a long history of run-ins with cops.  According to NBC5, she she owed a total of $7,579.00 in court fines resulting from five traffic stops in various Chicago suburbs (including a DUI), and she had been cited several times for her failure to pay those fines. She had at least 10 encounters herself with police in both Illinois and Texas in past years.  The words "Failure to comply" was frequently cited by officials and police.

    In all these cases, once facts are gathered, the credibility of the complainants largely dissolves. In a publicity stunt, funded by who knows who, Sandra Bland's family filed a lawsuit against Waller County in order to "find out" what really happened to Ms. Bland. At a press conference, when someone asked the family why they didn't bail her out, the family walked out of the conference -- along with their credibility. You see, a despondent Ms Bland killed herself three days after her family refused to bail her out. Bail was a modest $500. It's a sad story really, but for the family to make racist allegations is bad.  It's black people who are the racists in this country!

    Egg on all the black race-baiting faces. By the way, there's now a Sandra Bland Boulevard in Waller County. It's sad that they can't find a more worthy person to honor. Bland was a troubled woman with apparent mental problems and is also a symbol of a collapsing Black "culture."

    The entire black community, and it's so-called "leaders,"are thoroughly discredited time after time when their "victims" are found to have caused trouble for themselves. There is usually no white bogeyman -- just black troublemakers in a culturally-collapsed community as far as the eye can see.

    MLK Jr. had a dream where all people would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. It's sad that so few black persons including Obama, exhibit so little character. And it's getting worse, not better.

    Thursday, December 10, 2015

    Two Charts That Show the Financial Crisis Is Here

    The third financial crisis in 15 years has already arrived without much fanfare -- yet.  The following charts show how the credit markets are already "turmoiling" as bad as 2008 as the global economy is slowing sinking into recession.

    Junk debt is blowing up. And there's a lot at stake. Try $3.57 Trillion in junk debt issued in the past 3 years alone -- which dwarfs the measly $1.3 Trillion total of subprime mortgage loans accumulated by 2007.

    If you'll recall, the "turmoiling" in subprime in 2008 nearly brought down world finance and the world economy.  Global trade came to a standstill.  Now the amount at stake, in the US alone is 3 times worse.

    The Gross Issuance of Junk Rated Debt Since 2012 Dwarfs Subprime Debt in 2007

    Junk Bond Rates Already At Crisis Levels
    Alarm bells should be going off that, one of the most telling indicators, is flashing red with horns blaring. But you're not hearing any warnings from mainstream media or mainstream economists. Meanwhile, we're careening once again to financial disaster for the 3rd time in 15 years.

    Friday, December 4, 2015

    A Love So Profound

    I hope you have Netflix.  Please add to your list the movie "The Drop Box."  It's an incredibly inspiring story of compassion and love. And the more you look into the story, the more amazing it becomes.

    The movie was made by a 21 year old USC film student named Brian Ivie.

    Over breakfast one morning Brian read a story in the Los Angeles Times article entitled "South Korean Pastor Tends an Unwanted Flock."  The story was about Pastor Lee, who after seeing the tragedy of abandoned babies even in his own neighborhood, decided that at least he should provide a way for distressed and desperate mothers to more safely give up their babies. His concern was for baby's lives. He built an insulated 'mail box' in the front of his building and installed a bell to ring when a baby was 'deposited.'  Brian immediately wanted to make a film about this man's story.

    Brian originally had in mind to do a short film.  He finally was able to contact Pastor Lee and went to Korea to meet the pastor and talk to him about the project. While there, he was extremely moved by the depth of the love that was witnessing -- love given to mostly disabled babies who had literally been thrown away. He began to understand that he was seeing a love so profound that he wanted to know from where such love comes.

    He came back to LA with an idea to do a full length feature. And, as is true when the Divine gets involved, things started to fall into place that enabled Brian to do his full-length feature. Money and offers of assistance suddenly appeared to support his effort. He got money from people who wanted to remain anonymous -- enough money and equipment to enable him to do a proper full-length movie. This is how God works in the world.

    He went back to film.  While there, Brian gradually saw that he too was like the disabled kids -- flawed, broken and disabled -- just not as visibly.  He saw that they were still loved deeply despite their condition. Feeling Pastor Lee's love himself, it dawned on him that the Pastor's love for these children was just like the Father's love for the lowest and most unlovable among us -- including himself!!  This understanding transformed Brian's life too. He became a Christian while making his movie.  Here's a great interview clip that does more justice to the story than I can write here (link is here):

    Please see this movie.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2015

    The Remarkable Story of the North Platte Canteen

    It was only 10 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A young girl named Rae Wilson in North Platte, Nebraska suggested to her fellow townsmen to organize and do something kind for the trains full of soldiers coming through town on the Union Pacific's railroad line.  And answer they did.

    It started when a National Guard Unit from Nebraska that was deploying for the war, was due to arrive by train at the N. Platte station at about 11 am on December 17, 1941. Some 500 people from the town showed up to greet them. But the hours went by and the train didn't show. Finally, a train pulled up -- but it wasn't their group. It was a group of another soldiers. The town gave these troops the gifts and refreshments that had been prepared for the Nebraska group.  The idea 'clicked' to show support and give refreshments to all of the trains coming through the station.

    They set up in a nearby hotel at first, then in the kitchen at the Station and began serving coffee, sandwiches, cakes, cookies, gum to all of the soldiers arriving on every train passing through.  The soldiers received more than food. They received hugs, smiles, words of encouragement and kindness. This all-volunteer effort continued for five years and was funded only by donations and fund raising efforts until April 1946. It is estimated that they touched the lives of some 6,000,000 million soldiers.

    Check out the Charles Kuralt video produced in 1977 that features some wonderful interviews with some of the ladies involved in the Canteen. It's fascinating.

    (Here's the link in case it doesn't work)