The US government’s debt is getting close to reaching another round number—$18 trillion. It currently stands at more than $17.9 trillion.
But what does that really mean? It’s such an abstract number that it’s hard to imagine it. Can you genuinely understand it beyond just being a ridiculously large number?
Just like humans find it really hard to comprehend the vastness of the universe. We know it’s huge, but what does that mean? It’s so many times greater than anything we know or have experienced. Continue reading »
Domestic workers across the UAE have been subjected to horrendous physical, verbal and sexual abuse or passport confiscation in the abuse of the kafala, or sponsorship, system according to a new report by Humans Right Watch.
HRW estimates that some 146,000 domestic female workers have arrived to the UAE from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India or Bangladesh. They come on promises of good working conditions, higher wages, and a chance to escape the poverty of their home countries.
However, the NGO heard complaints that workers are forced to labor excessive hours, or are even being subjected to physical violence or sexual abuse – while they cannot leave as employers confiscate their passports. Continue reading »
Not only is Syria’s future at stake as the civil war rages on, but now also its past. The black market flourishing in the conflict now sees relics – some as ancient as 1,200 years – traded by rebels for AK-47s.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) soldier Abu Mustafa, as he called himself, illegally crossed the Lebanese border with relics he looted on the outskirts of Damascus, following fighting there. The rebels usually come at night, when it’s harder to catch them. Trading is done quickly and quietly. Continue reading »
With the US Shale Oil industry up in arms, Venezuela screaming, and Russia awkwardly quiet (as the Ruble slides with the falling oil price stabilizing domestic inflows), the ‘secret’ Saudi-US oil deal that pressured prices for crude down to $80 (18-month lows today) has ‘hurt’ a lot of the world’s producer nations. However, as Bloomberg reports, there is one nation that is very grateful. The number of supertankers sailing toward China’s ports surged to a nine-month high as over 80 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – the industry’s biggest ships – sail toward the Asian country’s ports. At an average of 2 million barrels each, the 160 million barrels will help refill China’s 727 million barrel SPR which it started in 2012.
There are 89 tankers sailing for Chinese ports, 80 of which are VLCCs – the highest since January 3rd.
Dear NSA Employees, You Now Have a Green Light to Loot and Pillage. It’s Time to Get Paid:
Are you just another one of those frustrated NSA employees who feels that unconstitutionally spying on your fellow citizenry under false pretenses isn’t giving you same thrill it once did? If so, have no fear.
Are you are sick and tired of having to spilt your precious working hours defending the destruction of our nation’s founding document to those pesky terroristic media dinosaurs who still think investigative journalism belongs in Amerika? If so, have I got a solution for you.
While it may sound too good to be true, trust me it’s not. You see, in recent years almost all crony-capitalist criminal activities have been deemed legal in the land of the free (to pillage). This incredible opportunity allows you to directly leverage your intelligence skill-set to earn the big bucks you know you’ve always deserved. You can now do just that by working in the private sector without having to give up that cushy government day job! I mean if we’re going to have this banana republic thing going we may as well GET PAID. Am I right?
Keep at it patriots, Michael Krieger
If the above sounds like a joke, unfortunately it is not. Last week, two very important stories came out; one from Reuters and the other from Buzzfeed. They both zero in on how current NSA employees are using their expertise and connections to make big money in the private sector while still working at the NSA. Let’s start with the Reuters story, which covers former NSA-head Keith Alexander’s business relationship with the NSA’s current Chief Technical Officer, Patrick Dowd. Continue reading »
There’s something we ‘regular’ citizens wrestle with that the elites never seem to: a sense of moral duty.
For example, following the collapse of the housing bubble, many people struggled with mortgages they could no longer afford to pay, fearing the shame of default. Many believed defaulting was wrong somehow; that it was their moral obligation to pay their mortgages, no matter how dire their personal situation. And of course, the mortgages lenders did their utmost to reinforce this perception. Continue reading »
The Pentagon has admitted that a chunk of its cache of weapons meant for Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants in Kobani has fallen into terrorist hands. The Turkish president has been voicing his frustration with Washington over this.
On Wednesday, the US defense body went against earlier government claims that American weapons always reach its intended destinations and had to concede that two bundles out of a total of 28 intended for the Kurds have indeed ended up with the terrorists.
The militants’ advances on the Syrian-Turkish border are what spurred Washington into action in the first place.
This comes as the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) posted a video showing off brand-new American hardware in boxes with English writing and a parachute splayed out just beside the windfall.
Six years after QE started, and just about the time when we for the first time said that the primary consequence of QE would be unprecedented wealth and class inequality (in addition to fiat collapse, even if that particular bridge has not yet been crossed), even the central banks themselves – the very institutions that unleashed QE – are now admitting that the record wealth disparity in the world – surpassing that of the Great Depression and even pre-French revolution France - is caused by “monetary policy”, i.e., QE.
Canada says it may impose import duties on US-produced goods ranging from California wine to ketchup after a WTO ruling that US labeling did not meet international standards.
Canada has published a list of 38 American products that can potentially become subject to additional retaliatory tariffs. The list includes cattle and hogs, as well as a number of symbolic products such as California wine, Vermont maple syrup, Florida orange juice, ketchup and breakfast cereal. Continue reading »
Saudi Arabia, it appears, had enough of shooting itself in the foot for its American ‘partners’, and has admitted for the first time that it slashed supply in September. As Bloomberg reports, OPEC’s biggest producer cut supply to mkt by 328k b/d in September to 9.36m b/d, from 9.688m b/d in August, according to a person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s oil policy. Prices in September were flat admit this supply cut which suggests along with the build in EIA inventories seen yesterday that Saudi Arabia may have also been forced by global demand weakness to cut supply through October also.
One would think that Janet Lee Dupree, 72, a self-professed HIV-infected alcoholic, would be slowly putting aside material worries as she prepares to set the intangibles in her life in order for one last time. One would be wrong.As she admits, “I am an alcoholic and I have HIV,” she tells the BBC. “That’s under control.” What is the cause of most if not all consternation in the final days of Dupree’s life? “I was sick and I didn’t worry about paying back the debt.” As a result, Dupree defaulted on her loan, and since she turned 65 she has had money withheld from her Social Security benefits. “Just recently I received a notification that they are going to garnish my wages because I am still working,” says Dupree, who works 30 hours a week as a substance abuse counsellor. The debt in question: Dupree owes $16,000 in student loans she acquired in 1971 and 1972.
“I will never live long enough to pay off my loan.”
A Guinean woman has been attacked in a bus in Rome by angry passengers who told her she was infected by Ebola and had to get off the bus, Italian media reports. She was taken to hospital suffering from multiple bruises.
Fataomata Sompare, 26, was about to get off the bus on Monday, said Il Messaggero, an Italian newspaper, as cited by the Local.
A teenage girl who was on the bus with her friends saw Sompare and began accusing her of having the deadly virus. Then some of the teen’s relatives started beating the woman. Continue reading »
TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.” Continue reading »
“They know Baghdad. They’ve lived in Baghdad,” said Lt.Col Oliver North, warning over the weekend that sources in Iraq believed ISIS was planning a “major attack” against the embassy in Baghdad. Yesterday we get some confirmation – via ISIS – that they did in fact reportedly strike the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. As Inquisitr reports, on Tuesday the Islamist militant group took credit for a mortar attack against the embassy in Baghdad. The group bragged about the attack on social media, claiming that there were likely casualties – “Four rockets strike Green Zone in #Baghdad; helicopters hovering over the Green Zone; ambulances heading that way after strikes!!” one ISIS militant noted on Twitter. As North concludes, “They are at the gates of Baghdad. They’re coming for us.”
In North Carolina, managing the retirement savings of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees is big business. As the sole fiduciary of the state’s $90 billion pension fund, Treasurer Cowell, a Democrat, was recently named the world’s 18th most important institutional investor by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. The State Employees Association of North Carolina (Seanc) estimates that North Carolina is on track to spend a billion dollars a year of retirees’ pension money on fees to private financial firms. Roughly half of all North Carolina pension deals involve placement agents, and Seanc estimates that has generated roughly $180 million in placement agent fees — costs that are effectively paid by the pension fund, according to critics.
Credit Suisse’s own internal regulations say the company aims to “establish a management organization that avoids the creation or appearance of conflicts of interests.” But the North Carolina agreement (the provisions of which were secret until Seanc’s open records request earlier this year) explicitly allows Credit Suisse to engage in “actual and potential conflicts of interest.” The agreement noted Credit Suisse could receive “placement fees” from the firms in which it invests North Carolina pension money.
– From David Sirota’s excellent piece in Investors Business Daily: Pension Deal Spotlights ‘Placement Agent’ Business, Raises Conflict-Of-Interest Questions
When it comes to how the U.S. economy of fraud functions in 2014, the following article has it all. A government official, a global investment bank and a businessman/politician, all working together to enrich themselves at the public’s expense. It demonstrates how big bucks are really earned by insiders in the new American Dream, characterized by extreme cronyism and corruption. Continue reading »
Grilled by reporters, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest addressed an order for a “surge” of immigration IDs of up to 9 million in one year, but said the move is no confirmation President Obama will issue a major executive amnesty after the election.
“I think those who are trying to read into those specific orders about what the president may decide are a little too cleverly trying to divine what the president’s ultimate conclusion might be,” he said.As reported by Breitbart News, USCIS is soliciting the materials to required to print green cards and employment permits of the type used to implement Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. The draft solicitation says that in addition to a minimum order necessary to print 4 million such IDs per year, vendors must have the capacity to produce materials for a “surge” of 9 million IDs in 2016. Continue reading »
The last 2 days have seen enormous volatility in the Saudi Riyal exchange rate, purportedly oil-related FX hedging programs as the SAR dropped to its lowest sicne Dec 2008, but the most extreme ‘moves’ were left to The Kingdon’s top Muslim cleric. As The BBC reports, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, exclaimed that Twitter is “the source of all evil and devastation”. As the 12th most influential Muslim in the world, it perhaps matters that he says users were using Twitter to “promote lies, backbite and gossip and to slander Islam,” but citizens of Saudi Arabia, who are some of the heaviest users of Twitter, did not appreciate his remarks, summe dup by one tweet, “People need an outlet to express themselves, to start to disclose what’s hidden and drop the masks, without fear or commands, or censorship from anyone.”
Scientists struggle to explain it (Look out! Here comes the spin!)
In the mountainous Karakoram region of Asia the glaciers aren’t melting. If anything, some are expanding, says this article on LiveScience.
“It’s been a source of controversy that these glaciers haven’t been changing while other glaciers in the world have,” said study researcher Sarah Kapnick, a postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric and ocean sciences at Princeton University. Continue reading »
Having a doppelganger can be risky business in a police state, just ask James Tully of Canadensis, Pennsylvania.
Tully has been harassed by police so many times since September that he has lost count of the incidents, and landed in the hospital.
Eric Frein, who was also living in Canadensis, is wanted for killing Corporal Bryon K. Dickson II and injuring trooper Alex Douglass in a sniper assault during shift change at a Pike County, Pennsylvania, police barracks on September 12.
One can debate whether, by virtue of fractional reserve banking, every bank in the world is just a ponzi scheme, and where the stability of the system depends entirely on the level of counterparty faith and general confidence in the system, in other words, a grand con game in which the central bank is tasked with making sure the con works as planned when confidnce gets “a little low.”
“When you’re out here filming the police for no reason you have to give us your ID.”
Tracy, CA — A video was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday which shows an infuriating interaction between a man practicing his first amendment right to film in public and arrogant SWAT officers. Continue reading »
Saxo Bank’s Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen is predicting another ‘shock drop’ in the markets within a few weeks. With debt and low inflation continuing to create a nervous atmosphere behind most markets, Steen argues that we will hit fresh lows in mid-November. Steen takes the view that central bank policy is creating a ‘fantasy land’ for investors and he points out that the recent ‘day dive’ in markets was a closer reflection of reality. Steen outlines his suggestions for trading ahead of another dip in mid November with targets for the S&P 500 around 1810 and the Dax at 8000 – 7800. Be long fixed income as it is “a free put on the equity market.. and the economic cycle is not yet ready to adapt to a rising interest rate.”