First, led by a “British-speaking” murderer, ISIS released beheading videos of US journalists. Then ISIS releases video of a British journalist hostage ‘news’ report to expose “the truth,” and now, Australian police have raided hundreds of homes foiling a direct ISIS provocation to publicly behead a random citizen in Sydney. As Reuters reports, more than 800 police were involved in the pre-dawn security operation in Sydney and Brisbane, which was described as the largest in Australian history. A 22-year-old Sydney man was arrest, after links were found to top ISIS recruiter Mohammad Baryalei that PM Abbot stated were “clearly designed to shock and horrify, perhaps terrify” the community.
Top terrorist recruiter Mohammad Baryalei is behind an Islamic State plot to murder Australians on video, police say, sparking the nation’s biggest ever counter-terrorism raids and prompting warnings of a high alert for a further 18 months. Continue reading »
Earlier today, we got a definitive confirmation that when Obama was talking about “costs” when jawboning on the ongoing Ukraine civil war, he envisioned not only Germany, and thus Europe, both of which are teetering on the edge of a triple-dip recession due to Russian sanctions, but Ukraine itself. The reason: the Ukraine economy appears to have ground to a halt following an overnight report that the war-torn country’s industrial output plummeted 21.4% Y/Y in August, above the 18% estimate, and some 12.7% on a monthly basis. As the chart below shows, this was the biggest drop in industrial production since the global crisis of 2009 and followed a 12% fall year-on-year in July. Continue reading »
On the heels of two of the largest intelligence breaches in American history, the Pentagon reportedly plans to roll out new rules requiring military contractors to more stringently monitor the activities of employees who work with sensitive materials.
Although the intelligence leaks attributed to United States Army Private Chelsea Manning and former contractor Edward Snowden have already spawned significant changes in the way sensitive information is seen and shared by workers with access to classified data, Politico’s Joseph Marks reported this week that the Pentagon plans to put into place further mechanisms intended to diminish the odds of another major breach anytime soon. Continue reading »
The United States’ top intelligence official said Thursday that he’s disappointed to continuously have his integrity disputed over an unsound remark he made before Congress more than a year ago concerning the National Security Agency’s spy tactics.
Eighteen months after he told lawmakers that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect and store data pertaining to US citizens, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during an event Thursday morning in Washington, DC that he still takes heat for his infamous answer.
The gaffe in question occurred when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked DNI Clapper during an intelligence hearing in March 2013 if American citizens are immune to surveillance programs undertaken by the NSA. Although Clapper responded “not wittingly,” classified documents leaked to the media by former contractor Edward Snowden later that year proved that Americans’ communications are indeed collected by the NSA.
“It has been very disappointing to have my integrity questioned because of a mistake,” Clapper said during an event on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Dan Froomkin, a reporter for The Intercept, tweeted that Clapper complained “bitterly” of being “accused of lying.” Continue reading »
In an unusual turn of events, ISIS has released a ‘news’ video – absent gruesome beheadings and threats – that features ISIS captive UK report John Cantlie explaining, calmly, how “there are two sides to the story,” in Iraq and Syria and attempting to “dispel the manipulated truths” of the Western media… “think you’re getting the whole picture.. as history repeats itself yet again.”
According to Cantlie, this is the first in a series – “You may be surprised at what you learn.”
In a passionate speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko dropped some tape-bombs:
*POROSHENKO SAYS RUSSIA `HAS NOW INVADED UKRAINE’
*POROSHENKO SAYS UKRAINE `URGENTLY’ NEEDS LETHAL AID
*POROSHENKO WARNS RUSSIANS WILL NEXT CROSS EUROPEAN BORDER
Supported by rounds of applause by US politicians, Poroshenko called for the US solidarity and to lead the offensive against Russia as they “fan the flames of war.” Stocks dipped (but recovered) though PMs are higher still.
As the World anxiously awaits the results of today’s Scottish Referendum for independence from The United Kingdom, we thought a little context on just how many ‘nations’ have left over the last 238 years…
Did you know that the number of gold bars being purchased by ultra-wealthy individuals has increased by 243 percent so far this year? If stocks are just going to keep soaring, why are they doing this? On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both closed at record highs once again. It is a party that never seems to end, and there are a lot of really happy people on Wall Street these days. But those that are discerning realize that we witnessed the exact same kind of bubble behavior during the dotcom boom and during the run up to the last financial crash in 2007. The irrational exuberance that we are witnessing right now cannot go on forever. And the bigger that this bubble gets, the more painful that it is going to be when it finally bursts. Those that get out at the peaks of the market are the ones that usually end up making lots of money. Those that ride stocks all the way up and all the way down are the ones that usually end up getting totally wiped out. Continue reading »
What is our society going to look like when our faces are being tracked literally everywhere that we go? As part of the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a facial recognition database known as the Interstate Photo System will have collected 52 million of our faces by the end of 2015. But that is only a small part of the story. According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has been using advanced facial recognition technology for years. In addition, as you will see below, advertising companies are starting to use Minority Report-style face scanners in their billboards and many large corporations see facial recognition technology as a tool that they can use to serve their customers better. Someday soon it may become virtually impossible to go out in public in a major U.S. city without having your face recorded. Is that the kind of society that we want? Continue reading »
After writing reports on the extremely high rate of babies missing part of their brain (anencephaly) in the 3 counties surrounding the Hanford nuclear site, Aleccia left NBC News. She is now a staff writer at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson1 Cancer Research Center and authored this Sept. 2, 2014 article: Outreach workers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are drawing on years of community connections in [the counties of Yakima, Benton, and Franklin] to raise awareness about a devastating cluster of severe birth defects that no one can explain… babies are born without parts of the skull and brain… 32 babies since 2010… there were five women in the region who reported they were pregnant with babies with anencephaly, all due later this year… “A lot of what we do is around cancer prevention, but when we hear of other things that also affect health disparities, we take it on.” State and federal officials are urging groups like the Fred Hutch team to help… Continue reading »
Britain’s’ most senior clergyman has said that thinking about global injustices has made him question the existence of God.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby admitted in front of a small public audience in Bristol that he ‘frequently asked’ whether God truly existed, and if “he should be doing something” about difficult situations.
Asked whether he ever doubted his belief by a BBC reporter, the Archbishop said that he did question Christianity at times. Continue reading »
Russian babushka Agafia, whose family fled civilization nearly a century ago, was born in the wilderness of the deep Siberian taiga. RT visited Agafia, who is the only living person of a family of the ‘Old Believers’ denomination of the Orthodox church.
In the mid-17th century, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Nikon, introduced radical reforms in Russia. Many couldn’t accept the changes and became known as ‘Old Believers.’
To avoid religious persecution first from the Orthodox Church and then from the Soviets, many families fled to some of the most remote corners of the country. Continue reading »
When earlier today, the Fed released its latest Z.1 (Flow of Funds report) for the second quarter, there were few surprises: thanks to the relentless liquidity injections by global central banks (charter here) resulting in record stock market levels, total household net worth rose once more, increasing by $1.4 billion in the quarter (up from a downward revised $1.2 billion in the previous quarter) to a record $81.5 billion. This was the result of a $95.4 trillion in total assets, offset by $13.9 trillion in liabilities, mostly mortgage debt of $9.4 trillion, as well as some $3.2 trillion in consumer credit.
Which means that yet another quarter has passed in which the bulk of “wealth creation” has benefited only the richest component of US society, something that even French economists have finally noticed. As for the non-rich… well, recall: “America’s Poor Have Never Been Deeper In Debt.”
How much longer can the stealthy wealth transfer of the Fed and its central bank peers, in which only the super rich benefit, continue? The answer is unknown, but if nobody has noticed yet, after some $26 trillion in net worth increases benefiting only the wealthiest Americans, then we doubt anyone will ever notice.
In a surprise for the market, South Africa’s Reserve Bank chief Gill Marcus has announced she will not be available for another term when her contract is up in November. On the heels of an expected decision to leave rates unchanged, this has sent the Rand tumbling to its lowest since February. While Marcus exporessed every confidence in her successor, it appears the market is less confident (for now). Forget the economy, sell ZAR because the true leader of the nation’s wealth is to step down…
Fishletter Issue 335, July 24, 2014 (emphasis added): There is a massive pool of warm water in the Gulf of Alaska, NOAA scientist Nate Mantua said in an email. It is unprecedented in the historical record, he added… the past year is way out of the historical range — “so who knows what will happen?“
NOAA Fisheries, Sept. 2014: Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching a persistent expanse of exceptionally warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could send reverberations through the marine food web. The warm expanse appeared about a year ago and the longer it lingers, the greater potential it has to affect ocean life… “Right now it’s super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan,” said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with NOAA… “it’s a very interesting time because when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.” Not since records began has the region of the North Pacific Ocean been so warm for so long… The situation does not match recognized patterns in ocean conditions such as El Niño Southern Oscillation or Pacific Decadal Oscillation… “It’s a strange and mixed bag out there,” Mantua said… warm temperatures are higher and cover more of the northern Pacific than the PDO typically affects… cold near-shore conditions in the Pacific Northwest also don’t match the typical PDO pattern. Continue reading »
The long awaited moment finally arrived after Scots began voting at 7am BST on whether to break away from the U.K. and end the 307-year union, even as latest opinion polls show the campaign against independence maintaining a narrow lead over those favoring independence. And while the No’s are said to have a slim lead into the vote, even if it is really the Undecideds whose vote will determine the final outcome, somewhat surprisingly, the Yes camp got an unexpected boost just hours before the polls opened when 27 year old tennis star, and Scot, Andy Murray declared his support for Scottish independence in an 11th hour intervention on Thursday morning, after years of keeping silent on the issue.
What Happens When Scottish Voters Give It Their 110%, According To CNN
What is most disturbing is that this photo is just as likely to be real as fake.
As we discussed earlier in the week, Janet Yellen has released a speech this morning explaining how sorry she is about ‘the poor’ and why they need to get rich. In the speech below, she stresses, “how important it is to promote asset-building, including saving for a rainy day, as protection from the ups and downs of the economy,” despite falling incomes, rising costs, and extending credit, we assume she means. The Fed Chairman has some words of encouragement for the tens of millions of Americans who live at or below the poverty level, including that threatened with extinction class, affectionately known as “the middle.” Her message? It is important to build assets, or said otherwise… get rich and she promises to “continue to promote asset-building.”
*YELLEN SAYS FIGURES ON POOR AMERICANS’ ASSETS IS `SOBERING’ (indeed! but not the rich eh?)
*YELLEN SAYS HOUSING CRISIS LEGACY STILL HURTING POOR AMERICANS (need another bubble)
*YELLEN: HOUSING IMPROVING, WILL STAY KEY FOR FAMILY ASSETS (as homeownership tumbles)
*YELLEN SAYS AMERICANS NEED MORE DIVERSIFICATION OF ASSETS (buy stocks too)
*YELLEN SAYS FED WILL `CONTINUE TO PROMOTE ASSET-BUILDING’ (count on the Fed to lift prices)
*YELLEN: CRISIS SHOWED VULNERABILITY OF LOW-ASSET HOUSEHOLDS (poor people should save more!)
With a Fed hinting at exit strategies, gold has tumbled to 2014 lows (and almost in the red year-to-date) as traders apparently forget Japan, China, and European central banks continue to (or are set to) print more money into the global reflation trade. It appears that as the West continues to sell ‘paper’ gold, the East remains enamnored as the PBOC announced this morning:
*CHINA TO FORM SHANGHAI GOLD BENCHMARK, PBOC GOVERNOR SAYS
*PBOC CHIEF ZHOU: GOLD MARKET IMPORTANT PART OF FINANCIAL MARKET
*SHANGHAI GOLD MARKET HAS TO AVOID SYSTEMIC RISK: PBOC’S ZHOU
Furthermore, traders have noted physical buying interest continues in the Asian region as premiums rise in China and India.
Events last month in Ferguson, Missouri (read my detailed thoughts here) forced Americans to confront the frightening reality that many of of the nation’s police departments have been quietly, but consistently, militarizing over the past couple of decades. It’s one thing to intellectually understand that this has happened, it’s quite another to see cops deploy tanks and point sniper rifles at peacefully protesting U.S. citizens.
Just as disturbing as the scenes themselves, is the fact that this has been happening for so long under the 1033 transfer program with only muted criticism. The program was originated in the late 1990′s under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 (recall that the NDAA is also being used to allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial), and it allows for the transfer of excess Department of Defense equipment to domestic police. In other words, it has been public policy for almost two decades to militarize the police.
With the issue squarely still in the public consciousness, it would behoove us to understand that this program is not only arming police with weapons of war. In fact, public schools are also receiving such items, including grenade launchers, M16s and MRAPs.
It’s sort of an obscure story, but it’s also incredibly instructive.
That’s the story of how Eritrea—a tiny, mostly unheard-of country in East Africa—taxes its citizens who live abroad.
Eritrea is one of only two countries in the entire world that taxes its nonresident citizens on their global income. Specifically, Eritrea levies a flat 2% tax on the income of its citizens who reside abroad.
Nearly every other country in the world bases its tax system on residency rather than citizenship. Continue reading »
Just a day after NATO began military exercises (with troops from the US) near the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine, WSJ reports Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is responding to the “rising foreign military presence,” near Russia. In a not-so-de-escalatory move, Shoigu explained that NATO’s comments were “light-minded” and his ministry’s key task now is to “deploy a full-scale and self-sufficient force grouping” in the Crimea region.
Russian Defense Ministry official calls light-minded NATO general’s statements about Russian military presence in Ukraine
When a former Goldman executive and the prior head of its housing research team comes out with a shocking analysis so contrary to what the same individual would do in his “former life” when he would be extolling the “inevitable” rise of home prices from here to eternity and beyond, and also throw in an open letter to none other than president Obama, predicting at least a 15% crash in home prices in the next three years, a move which would without debt catalyze the next US recession, it is time to pay attention. Meet Joshua Pollard, who in February 2009 took over coverage of US Housing at Goldman Sachs. His point, in short: “House prices are 12% overvalued today. They have already started to decline. Today’s misvaluation matches the excess of 2006-07, just before the Great Recession… 5 of the last 7 US recessions were led by a weakening housing market… I am lamentably confident that home prices will fall by 15% within three years.” Or, as some may call it, crash.