When earlier today we read a report in the Greek Enikonomia, according to which Greek taxpayers would be forced to declare all cash “under the mattress” (including inside) or boxes that contain more than 15,000 euros as well as jewelry and precious stones (including gold) worth over 30,000 euros, starting in 2016, we assumed this has to be some early April fools joke or a mistake.
After all, this would be merely the first step toward full-blown asset confiscation, conducted so many times by insolvent governments throughout history, once the government cracks down on those who made a “mistake” in their asset declaration form or simply refuse to fill such a declaration, thereby making all their assets eligible for government confiscation.
It was not a joke. Continue reading »
The German District Court in Passau has ruled that Angela Merkel has effectively nullified German law on illegal immigration by opening the country’s borders, and as a result ordered a people smuggler released with the lightest possible sentence.
The remarkable case—which could have repercussions throughout the German legal system, based as it is on the principle of precedent—was reported briefly in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
According to that report, a 43-year-old Serbian national had been arrested after being caught smuggling a large number of people into Germany in his vehicle. Continue reading »
Was French Prof. Gilles-Eric Séralini correct when he discovered that scientific feeding experiments past 90 days with GMO food and rats can cause serious health problems including tumors?
The answer to that question has been debated ever since the initial publication of his study, culminating in a republication of the study in another peer-reviewed journal that wasn’t nearly as well covered as the initial retraction was by the mainstream media. Continue reading »
When the US reached a debt ceiling deal in the beginning of November, it was common knowledge that there would be a debt accrual “catch up” to make up for lost time when the US was operating under emergency measures to avoid breach of the debt ceiling. And sure enough, when the accurate total debt number was released on November 2, this was indeed the case, when we learned that the US had added some $339 billion in debt during the “emergency measures” period.
However, what is unclear is how in the remaining 4 weeks of November, the US managed to add another $335 billion in total debt, bringing the total increase for the month of November to a whopping $674 billion, and total US debt to a record $18.827 trillion.
How low can a politician go? It seems David Cameron is trying his best to find out.
For those of you not paying attention to politics across the pond, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is desperately trying to secure backing for his enthusiastic push to start bombing Syria. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is proving to be a significant thorn in his side, so this is how Cameron is fighting back.
From the Guardian:
David Cameron has appealed to Conservative MPs to give him an overall parliamentary majority in favour of military action in Syria by warning them against voting alongside “Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathizers”.
“You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathizers,” the prime minister reportedly told the committee. Continue reading »
There are probably a lot of lessons we can learn from the conflict in Syria.
We might, for instance, pause and reflect on the morality of subjecting millions of people to untold pain and suffering in pursuit of geopolitical expediency. Or we could make a serious effort to reevaluate a foreign policy that too often centers around bringing about regime change in far away lands without considering the ramifications and potential for blowback.
Of course that kind of deep self-reflection will never happen in Washington, but fortunately, there’s a far simpler lesson that requires very little in the way of high level thinking to understand. Here it is: arming and funding Islamic militants you just met is always a bad idea. Continue reading »
Just to be clear, everyone who’s been paying attention knows there have been US boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq for quite some time.
When Obama announced last month that Washington would be deploying “less than 50” Spec Ops to Syria, the public’s reaction (as exemplified by the painful presser with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest) seemed to indicate that everyone had forgotten that just five months ago, US commandos executed a raid in Syria that purportedly killed Islamic State’s “gas minister” (and yes, that’s just as absurd as it sounds). And then there was the Peshmerga-assisted raid on an ISIS prison in the northern Iraqi town of Huwija that resulted in the first US combat death in the country since 2006. Footage from that operation was plastered all over the news in a desperate attempt to prove the US is still serious about fighting terror. Continue reading »
A few days ago, in “Turkey’s Trump Card: Erdogan Can Cut Russia’s Syrian Supply Line By Closing Bosphorus,” we suggested that if Ankara wants to retaliate against Russia for the raft of economic sanctions The Kremlin slapped on Turkey over the weekend, closing the Bosphorus Strait might be a better idea than attempting to do without Russian gas.
After all, Turkey gets more than half of its gas from Gazprom, and given Erdogan’s support for the various rebels battling for control of Syria, this might not be an opportune time for Ankara to try and negotiate with Iran for more supply. Continue reading »
Warren Buffett – billionaire investor, opposer of Citizens United but major donor to super-PACs, previous fan of Bernie Sanders, and vehement supporter of the ‘fairness doctrine’ on taxes for everyone but himself – will be joining ‘campaigner for everyday Americans’ Hillary Clinton as she stumps in Omaha this month.
In May 2015, Buffett backed Hillary…
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is backing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
“I think that she is the most likely person to be president of the United States, elected in 2016, and I’m going to vote for her,” Buffett tells the Fox Business Network in an interview that will air Monday evening. Continue reading »
Earlier today, we noted that it was decision time for Puerto Rico.
Staring down a $354 million debt payment, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla had to decide between defaulting on $273 million in GO debt (the portion of the payment guaranteed by the National Public Finance Guarantee Corp.) and holding onto cash the government needs to provide public services for the island’s citizens. Continue reading »
“We will give 99% of our Facebook shares — currently about $45 billion — during our lives to advance this mission. We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.”
Moments ago, in a joint letter with his wife Priscilla, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that his wife had just given birth to a daughter, Max, but the real highlight of the letter is the part in the text in which he discloses that in order to “advance human potential” and “promote equality” for all children in the next generation, Zuckerberg begins the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and that in order to advance this mission, Zuckerberg will give 99% of his Facebook shares, currently worth $45 billion, to “advance this mission” Continue reading »
On Saturday, in “‘The Redcoats Are Coming!’ Britain Moves Closer To Launching Anti-ISIS Airstrikes,” we warned that the skies above Syria were about to get even more crowded as David Cameron pushed British lawmakers to approve RAF strikes on Raqqa.
“It is wrong for the United Kingdom to expect the aircrews of other nations to carry the burdens and the risks of striking ISIL in Syria to stop terrorism here in Britain,” Cameron said.
“I don’t think this is a country that lets others like the French or the Americans defend our interests and protect us from terrorist organizations – we should contribute to that effort,” Finance minister George Osborne added, underscoring the perception that Britain’s military prowess is but a shadow of what it once was.
We also noted that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would not use a party whip to influence MP’s decisions. Over the weekend, Corbyn expressed serious reservations about the number of “moderate” rebels on the ground in Syria and also suggested that to the extent there are enough fighters to occupy the territory held by Islamic State once the group is routed, the UK shouldn’t assume that the fighters can be trusted. “I seriously question the number, I seriously question the motives and loyalty of those forces,” Corbyn said.
On Monday, Corbyn apparently attempted to compel party members to vote against military action in line with his own stance on the issue but after what FT described as a “fraught meeting”, the Labour leader bowed to internal pressure and conceded that MPs would be allowed to vote as they choose. Additionally, Corbyn abandoned the idea of setting an official policy of opposing air strikes no matter how party members voted after Andy Burnham, shadow home secretary, said that was “unacceptable”. Here’s where Corbyn’s shadow cabinet stands:
- Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party
- John McDonnell, shadow chancellor
- Jon Trickett, shadow communities secretary
- Diane Abbott, shadow international development secretary
- Ian Murray, shadow Scotland secretary
- John Cryer, chairman of the parliamentary Labour party
- Nia Griffith, shadow wales secretary
- Tom Watson, deputy leader (who has asked Cameron to delay the vote pending proof that there are actually 70,000 moderate rebels on the ground)
- Angela Eagle, shadow first secretary of state and shadow business secretary
- Hilary Benn, shadow foreign secretary
- Heidi Alexander, shadow health secretary
- Lucy Powell, shadow education secretary
- Chris Bryant, shadow leader of the house of commons
- Vernon Coaker, shadow northern Ireland secretary
- Michael Dugher, shadow culture secretary
With that, the stage is set for Britain to join the fray. As FT goes on to note, Corbyn’s concession to his divided party “effectively guarantees that [David Cameron] can secure a Commons majority for war.” British military action could start “within days” as the PM “reacted quickly to Corbyn’s capitulation, announcing after he returned from the Paris climate summit that he would recommend to the cabinet on Tuesday that a one-day debate and vote on military intervention in Syria be held on Wednesday.”
With the vote thus set, “RAF crews could be bombing the Isis headquarters in Raqqa by the end of the week,”The Guardian says. On Tuesday, Cameron said “the decision to take military action is one of the most serious a prime minister can make. Isis poses a very direct threat to the United Kingdom – and as we have already seen in Iraq, British airstrikes can play a key role in degrading them; but they are only part of a comprehensive strategy for Syria.
But that’s not all. Germany is now set to enter the fight as well. “German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet approved deploying warplanes over Syria in the fight against Islamic State,” Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Apparently, Berlin is set to send Tornado surveillance planes, a frigate to protect France’s carrier, and aerial refueling for French fighter jets.
Parliament will need to approve the deployment and a vote is expected within days. All told, around 1,200 German troops are expected to participate. This should do wonders when it comes to stemming the flow of refugees into Germany because as France explained earlier this year, by far the best way to solve a refugee crisis is to drop more bombs on the place from which the refugees are fleeing.
And with that, two more world powers will now have planes in the sky and ships in the Mediterranean. Just to be clear, this means that by the end of next week, it’s possible that American, French, Turkish, Russian, and German planes will all be flying missions above Syria, a decisively dangerous scenario now that Ankara has forced Moscow into a state of paranoia regarding the safety of The Kremlin’s aircraft. With Russian S-400s at the ready, and with Su-34s now armed with air-to-air missiles, the potential exists for another “accident.”
Additionally, it’s worth reiterating that the West and the Russians still haven’t resolved the most pressing issue when it comes to airstrikes in Syria. Namely that Moscow and Iran are still attacking the FSA and other rebel groups that are receiving guns and money on a weekly basis from the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. This means that while the West bombards Raqqa (or perhaps the better way to put is “while the West thinks they’re bombarding Raqqa based on the ‘intelligence’ they receive from Washington”), America and its regional allies are engaged in a proxy war with Moscow and Tehran in the northwest part of the country. This makes absolutely no sense and it isn’t at all compatible with David Cameron telling British lawmakers that the “moderate” opposition is in a position to hold territory formerly governed by ISIS. Not only are the rebels not in a position to secure towns and cities, they are being routed at Aleppo by the Russians and Iranians. At some point this has to be addressed but for the time being, everyone seems content with being invited to the party.
Turkey is authorized to close the Straits to all foreign warships in wartime or when it was threatened by aggression
Turkey has begun a defacto blockade of Russian naval vessels, preventing transit through the Dardanelles and the Strait of Bosphorus, between the Black Sea and Mediterranean.
According to the AIS tracking system for the movement of maritime vessels, only Turkish vessels are moving along the Bosphorus, and in the Dardanelles there is no movement of any shipping at all.
At the same time, both from the Black Sea, and from the Mediterranean Sea, there is a small cluster of ships under the Russian flag, just sitting and waiting. Continue reading »
Despite ongoing exuberance at auto sales in America (which disappointed) – as crashing credit standards enable every Tom, Dick, and Muppet to buy too much ‘depreciating asset’ for their incomes – there are numerous problems few are talking about for automakers worldwide. Aside from “plans to buy a car” tumbling in the latest confidence surveys, and inventories-to-sales surging, China just poured ice cold water on any hope of stability in that ‘growth’ market as auto dealers issue the highest inventory alert since June. November data from China shows demand plunging, sales collapsing, and inventories soaring – a triple whammy of “no, things are not ‘stabilizing’.”
Over 90 international scientists call German government report underpinning EFSA decision “not credible”
In November, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.
The EFSA decision, based on the Renewal Assessment Report provided by the German federal risk assessment institute BfR, ran counter to the finding earlier this year by the international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. The IARC review linked glyphosate to dose-related increases in malignant tumours at multiple anatomical sites in experimental animals and to an increased incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in exposed humans. Continue reading »
While the rest of the world has ISIS to contend with, the US has Chicago, a city where the number of annual homicides will easily outpace the death count of even the most gruesome terrorist incident – a sad reality which most of America, and certainly Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has closed its eyes to.
But in the aftermath of the latest police shooting controversy involving the dashboard video documenting the shooting death Laquan McDonald, as well that following the gang execution of Tyshawn Lee, which stirred national tempers, there had to be a fall guy, and sure enough moments ago the Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy was fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Continue reading »
Hedge funds are dropping like flies now.
Following news that both Ackman and Einhorn have suffered dramatic losses, in the -20% ballpark YTD, and after reporting that numerous metal-focused commodity hedge funds have liquidated in recent months, most notably Trafigura’s own Galena, the latest firm to wave the flag of surrender to the forced of central planning is none other than Michael Platt’s legendary $8 Billion BlueCrest Capital, which until recently was the third largest hedge fund in Europe, and as recently as two years ago was the topic of the Bloomberg profile “BlueCrest Builds a Hedge Fund Empire“, will return a whopping $7 billion of its current $8 billion AUM held currently in the form of outside money.
Just hitting the headlines: Continue reading »
For years, Black Friday brawls and rampant materialism on the day after Thanksgiving have become a sort of twisted American celebration. However, each year the excitement continues to die down as people reject the Black Friday antics and instead do their shopping online or on other days. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, Black Friday attendance was down over 3%, from 58.7% last year to 55.1% this year.
The survey noted that the average shopper was expected to spend $380.95, which was down from $407.02 the previous year. According to the group’s estimates, sales slipped from $57.4 billion to $50.9 billion. Continue reading »
“Climate change isn’t just about Bambi. It’s about us.”
In a speech at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, home to the world’s largest naval base, Kerry called climate change a threat to national security.
Kerry warns of severe droughts, rapid sea-level rise, unpredictable and uncontrollable extreme weather events, shocks to the global agricultural system – all due to human activity.
What a snake.
Puerto Rico has a problem. The commonwealth needs to make a $354 million bond payment on Tuesday and the government is basically out of money.
We previewed this rather precarious situation twice in the last two weeks (see here and here), noting that this time is indeed “different.” Why? Because unlike August when the island paid only $628,000 of a $58 million payment (so, just about 1%), a large portion of what’s due Tuesday is GO debt guaranteed by the National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. A default on that spells litigation.
A default “would likely trigger legal action from creditors, commencing a potentially drawn-out process absent swift federal intervention,” Moody’s warned last month.
As a refresher, here’s a bullet point summary of recent developments from BofAML: Continue reading »
Six Turkish F16 fighter aircraft violated the airspace of Greece and were there for about an hour. This was announced by the Greek General Staff.
The group crossed the Greek air space between the islands of Lesbos and Chios without providing a flight plan, reports Tass. It happened at 15:01 local time (16:01 Moscow time). Four fighter flew back to Turkey at 15:28, two more – at 15:30.
Violation of Greek border Turkish planes – are not uncommon. This happens on average 1.5 thousands of times a year.
The State Department’s latest release of Hillary Clinton documents brings the total number of Clinton emails known to contain classified material to nearly 1,000.
The department on Monday released its largest batch of emails yet, posting 7,800 pages of the former secretary of state’s communications.
The latest batch contains 328 emails deemed to have classified information. According to the State Department, that brings the total number with classified information to 999. Continue reading »
US President Barack Obama has maintained that the redeployment of 300 military “advisers” into Iraq is not a return to combat operations. But according to Kurdish fighters, US soldiers have been involved in a covert ground war for months.
The Pentagon has been given formal approval to start an online propaganda campaign against the Islamic State following a recent push by the US Department of Defense (DoD).
Congress approved the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 last week and included in it a whole section (1056) on “Information operations and engagement technology demonstrations.”
The section states that the Secretary of Defense “should develop creative and agile concepts, technologies, and strategies across all available media to most effectively reach target audiences, and to counter and degrade the ability of adversaries and potential adversaries to persuade, inspire, and recruit inside areas of hostilities or in other areas in direct support of the objectives of commanders.”
A month ago, US and Russian military officials signed a memorandum of understanding that included steps their pilots should take to avoid an inadvertent clash over Syria as they carry out separate air strikes against armed groups. That MoU has now been shredded, as it certainly did not involve Russian fighter jets operating above Syria being armed with short and medium range air-to-air missiles as a direct threat to other fighter jets also operating above Syria – mostly those of Turkey, France and the US.
Which is precisely what Russia has done as disclosed in an announcement moments ago by the Russian defense ministry, and furthermore, has released a clip as a warning to not only Turkey, but all NATO forces in the region, that any further provocations at its jets will be met with an immediate and proportional response. Continue reading »
Late last year, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe effectively forced the $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund to double its domestic equity allocation. With Kuroda providing perpetual Nikkei plunge protection, and with Abenomics set to bring about an economic renaissance, what could possibly go wrong?……