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Market Wrap: All Eyes On Yellen Who Better Not Disappoint

Zerohedge - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 08:22

While all the algos are programmed and set to scan today's FOMC statement for whether both "patient" and "considerable time" are still there (as it did last time when it supposedly sent a pseudo-hawkish message while telling Virtu and Getco to buy, buy, buy), the market is torn between the trends observed in recent days: on one hand finally succumbing to the adverse impact of USD strength, which overnight also saw the Singapore Dollar admit defeat in the ongoing currency wars, is crushing both revenues and EPS, as well as outlooks, for the bulk of US companies, even as millennials - long since given up on buying a house - allocate their meager savings to the annual incarnation of Apple's flagship product as seen in yesterday's record, blowout numbers by AAPL which is up 8% in the premarket and sending Nasdaq futures soaring compared to the stagnant DJIA or S&P. And then there is Europe where the mood is decidedly sour this morning, with Greece imploding on fears Tsipras really means business and concerns the Greek "virus" may spread to other peripheral nations whose bonds have also seen a lack of a bond bid this morning.

So will Yellen save the day again?

The problem is that at this point it is unclear just what that means: if she continues ignoring the global deflationary pressures and not relent to delaying the rate hike, then the USD will surge even more (which at this point is no longer a good thing as explained in "When A Soaring Dollar "Reflects Loss Of Investor Confidence And Is Potentially Devastating""), pressuring US exports and corporations that much more until finally something snaps and the decoupling theme so prevalent for the past 6 months is ruined.

Or will she admit that the myth of a US recovery was just that, for the 5th year in a row, and hint that all else equal, the Fed may not only keep ZIRP for longer, but even go NIRP or, once the US budget deficit grows enough to allow another full-blown debt monetization by the Fed, return to a QE regime?

We don't expect answers to all these questions, but today is certainly shaping up to be a dramatic session, one which will be that much more dramatic courtesy of the now pervasive lack of market liquidity.

Looking at markets, today’s European session saw equities open higher, with sentiment stemming from Apple (+7% pre market) posting a net profit of USD 18bln for the quarter, the largest for a public company in history and Yahoo! (+7.5% pre market) announcing plans for a tax-free sale of its remaining stake in Alibaba (BABA) into a newly formed spin-off company. However, this move was pared with little data or newsflow to sustain the sentiment, to trade in the red by the middle of the session, with Euro Stoxx down around 1%, weighed upon by Siemens who are down over 5% after two negative broker moves and volatility in Greece. This saw flows head to Bunds at the expense of equities, with the German benchmark reclaiming the 158.00 handle and T-Notes moving in tandem with its European counterpart.

Greece is still feeling the repercussions of SYRIZA’s election victory on Sunday with leader Tsipras commenting that he will aim to negotiate debt and expects radical changes, however will not target destructive conflict with creditors. This saw the GE/GR 10y spread widen by 90 bps, while the ASE is down around 7% on the day, with Greek banks the underperformers.

Looking ahead, as well the FOMC rate decision, market focus will also be on earnings today, with high profile company Facebook, QUALCOMM, Boeing and Biogen all scheduled to report.

Asian equity markets trade mixed amid a negative close on Wall Street, with sentiment lifted by stellar earnings from Apple. Consequently, the both the Hang Seng (+0.22%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.15%) pared back their initial losses, the latter further bolstered by JPY giving-up yesterday’s gains against the greenback. Elsewhere, the Shanghai Comp (-1.41%) was the session laggard falling to a 1-week low amid concerns about Umbrella Trusts after China Everbright reduced its Trust leverage ratio to no higher than 1:2:5 from next.

During the European morning, sources suggested Chinese State Regulators are restarting probes into margin trading at Chinese brokers, with probes into margin trading in China the catalyst for the sell off in the Shanghai Comp last Monday where the index closed down 7.7%.

In FX markets, AUD/USD strengthened during the Asian session, with focus particularly on the RBA's preferred measure of CPI, the CPI Trimmed Mean, which came in at 0.7% vs Exp. 0.5% (Prev. 0.4%, Rev. 0.3%). This saw an immediate 80 pip rise, with the CPI data lowering the expectation for an RBA cut. However, the move pared some of its gains during the European morning amid rumours of a report from RBA watcher Terry McCrann stating the RBA are very likely to cut rates at their meeting next week, with the article believed to be for publication on Thursday. Elsewhere, FX markets remain relatively tentative with little of note on the calendar ahead of the FOMC rate decision after European market (1900GMT).

In the commodity complex, palladium outperforms precious metals this morning as fears over further sanctions on Russia continue to underpin price action. This comes as US Treasury Secretary Lew says that they are prepared to impose further sanctions in Russia given the recent increase in tensions in East Ukraine with palladium prices sensitive to such news as Russia are the world’s largest producer.

Looking ahead, DoE US Crude Oil Inventories are the piece of tier 1 data today at 1530GMT/0930CST after yesterday’s API’s showed a build (12700k vs. Prev. 5700k).

In summary: European shares are little changed, rallying from intraday lows, as banks and travel stocks underperform and basic resources, personal & household outperform. Most European bond yields rise. Greek PM says government to negotiate debt relief, while govt questions moves to impose more sanctions on Russia. Greek 10-yr yield spread vs bunds widens to more than 1,000 basis points. Singapore dollar fell after central bank said it will seek a slower pace of appreciation against currency basket. The euro is weaker against the dollar. Japanese 10yr bond yields rise. Apple rises as much as 8% in Frankfurt trading after results. U.S. futures are little changed to higher. Goldman cuts its near-term outlook for raw materials to underweight. decline, with natural gas, WTI crude underperforming and zinc outperforming. U.S. mortgage applications, FOMC rate decision due later.

Market Wrap:

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 2032.70
  • Stoxx 600 down 0.1% to 368.3
  • US 10Yr yield down 3bps to 1.79%
  • German 10Yr yield down 2bps to 0.36%
  • MSCI Asia Pacific steady at 142.4
  • Gold spot down 0.2% to $1289.5/oz
  • Euro down 0.14% to $1.1365
  • Dollar Index up 0.05% to 94.07
  • Italian 10Yr yield up 8bps to 1.61%
  • Spanish 10Yr yield up 7bps to 1.46%
  • French 10Yr yield up 0bps to 0.58%
  • S&P GSCI Index down 0.6% to 379.9
  • Brent Futures down 0.8% to $49.2/bbl, WTI Futures down 1.7% to $45.4/bbl
  • LME 3m Copper up 0.9% to $5468/MT
  • LME 3m Nickel up 1.1% to $14960/MT
  • Wheat futures down 0.7% to 515.3 USd/bu

Bulletin Headline Summary from RanSquawk and Bloomberg

  • European equities open in the green following Apple’s impressive earnings, however the move has failed to be sustained with industrials weighing on equities as Siemens falls over 5% on negative broker moves
  • Greece is still feeling the repercussions of SYRIZA’s election victory the GE/GR 10y spread widen by 90 bps, while the ASE is down around 7% on the day, with Greek banks the underperformers.
  • The market awaits the latest FOMC announcement (1900GMT/1300CST) with focus remaining on the `considerable time` phrasing and whether the Fed will acknowledge the strong USD and its impact on growth.
  • Treasuries gain, 30Y yield trading near record low before Fed statement scheduled for 2pm in Washington; 2Y  0.502% before U.S. sells $26b at 2pm, WI yield 0.535% vs 0.703% in Dec. 2Y FRN to be sold at 11:30am.
  • Fed policy makers seen keeping “patient” language in today’s statement, according to published research and interviews with strategists
  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to avoid a “catastrophic clash” with creditors and European governments, as Greece’s stock and bond markets extended declines to lows not seen since the peak of country’s debt crisis
  • The yuan overtook Canada’s dollar to rank fifth for use in global payments, bolstering the case for the IMF to endorse it as a reserve currency
  • Bank of England’s Andrew Haldane says new normal for interest rates may be 2%-4%, BOE rate rises will be gradual when they come
  • Germany gets bids for EU1.212b vs EU2b sale goal for 30-year bonds that fall just outside eligibility for QE
  • Singapore unexpectedly eased monetary policy, sending SGD to the weakest since 2010 vs USD; MAS said in an unscheduled statement it will seek a slower pace of  appreciation against a basket of currencies
  • As Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. seeks to avert a debt default after a member of the controlling Kwok family left, analysts are taking a closer look at Sino Life Insurance Co., its second-largest shareholder
  • Apple Inc posted a 30% jump in FY1Q revenue to $74.6b as net income rose 38% to a record $18b amid sales of larger screen iPhones and refreshed Mac computers
  • Sovereign yields mostly higher, peripheral EU surges, with Greece 10Y yield approaching 10.50%; Portugal, Spain and Italy also higher. Asian stocks mixed; European  stocks fall, U.S. equity-index futures gain. Brent, WTI and gold lower; copper gains

US Economic Calendar

  • 7:00am: MBA Mortgage Applications, Jan. 23 (prior 14.2%) Central Banks
  • 2:00pm: Fed seen maintaining overnight bank lending rate target between 0% and 0.25%
  • 3:00pm: Reserve Bank of New Zealand seen maintaining official cash rate of 3.5%
  • 11:30: U.S. to sell $15b 2Y FRN via auction delayed by winter storm
  • 1:00pm: U.S. to sell $26b in 2Y notes via auction also delayed by weather

* * *

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight summary

So my two days off from work have been spent moping on the sofa with my leg elevated and covered in ice. All after Saturday's bad skiing injury when I've snapped knee ligaments. A non-ideal mini break culminating in watching Liverpool lose a semi-final on the telly last night! In fact in the 90 hours since the accident I've either been in bed or the sofa. This morning I'm hobbling away from the Alps on crutches and onto a train to Paris where I'm speaking at a conference this afternoon. If you're going skiing over the rest of the season please be more careful than I've been this year!! Oh and make sure you've got insurance which fortunately I did. Getting carried off the mountain is expensive. Luckily it was in France and not Switzerland though!

One wonders how careful the Fed will be in 2015. We may get some early clues today after the conclusion of the first FOMC meeting of the year. This meeting isn’t going to see the release of the Fed’s Summary of Economic Projections, nor a press conference but nevertheless it will be interesting to see the Fed’s January statement. DB’s Peter Hooper expects that the Fed will use this meeting for some ‚necessary housekeeping? with just a few small language changes as he thinks the economic picture has changed moderately but not enough for any significant changes to be made. To sum up, Peter expects the statement to be much like December's in which the Fed’s message was that as long as the labour market continues to show improvement and they continue to project inflation returning to 2% over the next few years (as indicated in their December forecast) the lift-off for Fed rates could begin around the middle of this year. Peter takes this to mean sometime between June and September and most likely June so long as (1) core PCE inflation falls at most another tenth or so in the near term, (2) wage inflation is showing signs of rising, (3) survey measures of longer term inflation expectations are holding firm, and (4) employment and unemployment continue on their recent favourable trends. He thinks that if core inflation drops by several tenths this could push the first hike out a meeting or two.

If the Fed stick to their script then the market could be in for a small shock. Market-based measures of the first Fed hike place it at around the October meeting. This is already one meeting later than was being priced in at the start of the year. After this the second hike is priced in for around March 2016, whilst we entered the year pricing in the second hike for December 2015. So there is room here for volatility as we approach the summer FOMC meetings if the Fed’s message remains unchanged. It has long been our view that the Fed will struggle to hike as soon as it wants to given global growth and inflation issues, however there's no doubt they are keen to pull the trigger so something will have to give at some point. So any evidence either way today will be interesting.

Talking of central banks, we've seen another surprise move overnight as Singapore has eased monetary policy by reducing the slope of the policy band for the Singapore Dollar. The central bank also cut inflation forecasts for this year with expectations of a 0.5% decline in prices. The SGD is around 1% weaker versus the Dollar and at its lowest since September 2010. The MAS is now the ninth central bank to ease in January, most of which have been a surprise move. Who is next is the big question, and can the Fed continue to try to prime the market for rate hikes when the rest of the world is easing?

Taking a look at the early trading in Asia this morning, equity markets are generally firmer with the Hang Seng (+0.61%), Nikkei (+0.40%) and Kospi (+0.50%) up but the Shanghai Comp (-0.07%) weaker. The ASX is +0.10% and the AUD +0.69% stronger versus the US Dollar following better than expected core inflation data out of Australia.

Back to markets yesterday, equities took a sharp leg lower in the US yesterday following largely mixed economic data as well as generally weaker corporate earnings. Both the S&P 500 (-1.34%) and Dow (-1.65%) closed just inside their intraday lows whilst CDX IG closed 1bp wider. Earnings yesterday supported the weaker sentiment in markets. In particular releases from Caterpillar, Microsoft and Proctor and Gamble headlined disappointing quarterly releases with earnings generally below consensus. Thematically, Proctor and Gamble reported difficulties with a fluctuating FX market - the company release noting that it was the ‘most significant fiscal year currency impact’ in its history. US chemicals group Dupont also downgraded 2015 profit forecasts following a larger than expected currency impact as a result of the stronger Dollar. As well as currency impacts, lower oil prices has been the other key theme that we’ve seen come out of results so far and yesterday’s release from Caterpillar highlighted the subdued demand from oil and mining services companies in particular. It wasn’t all bad news however. After market close yesterday shares in both Apple and Yahoo rose 7% and 10% respectively in extended trading following better than expected earnings. The FT reported that Apple in particular reported the highest quarterly net profit ($18bn) on record for any company despite Apple’s CFO noting that ‘results would have been even stronger absent fierce foreign exchange volatility’.

Away from earnings yesterday, it was a busy day for data in the US. Durable goods orders (-3.4% mom vs. +0.3% expected) and core capital goods orders (-0.6% mom vs. +0.9%) for December disappointed. Our US team noted that the latter print means core orders for Q4 have fallen at an 11.4% saar rate which is much weaker than recent industrial production indicators have showed. As a result our colleagues have downgraded their Q4 real GDP forecast to 3.3% from 4.2% previously but maintain that the advance estimate will likely be revised higher as top-down indicators indicate stronger growth. Elsewhere new home sales (481k vs. 450k expected) surprised to the upside whilst the January consumer confidence was particularly strong at 102.9 – ahead of expectations of 95.5 and nearly 10 points up from December’s reading. The reading was the highest since August 2007 and no doubt boosted by lower gasoline prices and an improving labour market. Finally the Case-Shiller home price index was in line at +0.8% mom whilst the preliminary services PMI ticked up a notch to 54.0 (from 53.3 previously). Treasuries were volatile over the course of trading. Having opened at 1.824%, the 10y benchmark hit an intraday low of 1.746% before paring back all of those gains to close unchanged.

There was similar weakness in Europe yesterday with the Stoxx 600 finishing -0.99% and the Dax -1.57%. Crossover also closed 11bps wider. Greek equities (-3.69%) ended weaker for the second successive day since Sunday’s election with banks (-11.61%) in particular leading the declines with continued uncertainties over deposits and potential further ELA access required. Greek 3y and 10y yields closed +199bps and +38bps wider respectively. In terms of the latest updates, Tsipras announced his new cabinet yesterday including naming Yanis Varoufakis as the new finance minister. As per Reuters the new government has, as expected, halted the privatization of Greece’s biggest port yesterday which had previously been agreed under its bailout agreement to China’s Cosco Group and four other potential suitors.

It was perhaps unsurprising to see comments from Germany’s Merkel yesterday quoted on Bloomberg saying that the debate about a Greek debt cut is astonishing and that the new government has to make clear whether it’s committed to terms of the EU aid programme, specifically saying that the ball is in Greece’s court. Interestingly another article on Bloomberg reported that the new Syriza-led coalition issued a statement opposing EU sanctions for Russia over the conflict in the Ukraine. According to the report, the Greek government was reported as saying that ‘Greece doesn’t consent’ and that the announcement violated ‘proper procedure’ by not securing Greek support. Interestingly Greece’s new foreign minister Kotzias has the opportunity to block further sanctions on Russia tomorrow at an EU meeting given that sanctions require a unanimous consensus from all 28 governments. It’ll be interesting to see the developments between now and then but the meeting could provide early signs into the near term approach Greece takes to dealing with the wider Euro-area, and vice-versa.

Away from Greece it was a quiet day elsewhere in Europe with just UK Q4 GDP, which came in a touch lower than expected (+2.7% yoy vs. +2.8% expected). 10y Gilts finished 3bps lower at 1.483% and Bunds were relatively unchanged at 0.383%. Peripheral yields however were anywhere from 2-7bps wider. The Euro closed 1.27% firmer versus the Dollar at $1.138.

In terms of the day ahead, its a relatively quiet day in Europe this morning with just the German import price index and consumer confidence for the region as well as in France. In the US this afternoon with little in the way of data, focus will likely just be on the aforementioned FOMC.








Greek Stocks Crash, Bonds Plummet, Banks Have Worst Day Ever

Zerohedge - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 07:53

In the two days after Syriza's dramatic victory in the local Greek election, global investors assumed this loud cry against European policies would mean... more of the same, and as a result not much changed in the risk assessment of Greek assets. Then, overnight, following the previous report that not only does Syriza mean business but it is actively pivoting away from Europe (and toward Russia?), and everyone started paying attention, with a waterfall of selling engulfing not only the Greek stock market but also its bonds, which are crashing in the process sending the 3 Year yield to 16.4%, the highest since the restructuring, and the 10 Year either below or above 10%, depending on which data source is used (Bloomberg has them slightly below, others reporting 10-year bond yields up 50 basis points at 10.30%).

For those who missed our take from last night on Greece, it can be found here, while Reuters' update this morning notes the following:

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised "radical" change on Wednesday as his new government swiftly moved to roll back key parts of Greece's international bailout, prompting a third day of losses on financial markets.

 

A swift series of announcements signaled the newly installed government would not back down from its anti-austerity pledges, setting it on course for a clash with European partners, led by Germany, which has said it will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its debts.

 

Even before the first meeting of the new cabinet, ministers had hit the airwaves to reassure voters they would honor campaign pledges to roll back the tough economic policies imposed under Greece's 240-billion-euro bailout program. 

 

The planned sale of a 30 percent stake in Public Power Corporation of Greece (PPC), the country's biggest utility, was halted while ministers pledged to raise pensions for those on low incomes and reinstate some fired public sector workers.

 

"We are coming in to radically change the way that policies and administration are conducted in this country," Tsipras told ministers at their first cabinet meeting.

Needless to say "radically changing" is the last thing all those US hedge funds, may they rest in piece, who bet all-in on the Grecovery in 2013 and 2014 is what they wanted to hear and the resultant decimation of Greek risk is as follows:

  • Greek banks continue rout as 3-yr bond yield rises to 16.5%, highest since restructuring.
  • 10-yr spread vs bunds widens to more than 1,000 bps
  • FTSE/Athex banks index down 19%, taking decline since election to as much as 39%
  • Piraeus Bank falls as much as 23.2%; volume-at-time is 286% of 30 day average
  • Eurobank Ergasias falls as much as 22%; volume-at-time is 284%
  • National Bank of Greece falls as much as 20.5%; volume-at-time is 394%
  • Alpha Bank falls as much as 19.5%; volume-at-time is 324%
  • Those four banks account for 0.54 points of Stoxx 600 decline; index down 0.6 points, or 0.2%, to 368.11

This is what the first three days of post-election Greece look like for local stocks: the biggest weekly (so far) drop ever.

Update: Greek bank stocks not liking Syriza's victory, -38.5% this week, on track for biggest weekly fall ever: pic.twitter.com/fsectnGMMt

— Jamie McGeever (@ReutersJamie) January 28, 2015

Worse, Greek bank stocks right now are having their worst day ever.

Last one on Greek bank stocks for now - they're having their worst day ever: pic.twitter.com/5PKMRiwRSq

— Jamie McGeever (@ReutersJamie) January 28, 2015

It's amazing what happens when a country finally has a politician who truly puts the interest of the people ahead of those of the bankers or shareholders.

And of course, nobody ever said going cold turkey on years of European bailouts (bailouts which are used by Greece to mostly continue paying its obligations to the Troika) is going to be easy. If indeed Greece is intent on proceeding with the Icelandic route, we congratulate them... and wish them luck because the next 6-12 months are going to be painful. The good news: it's all uphill from there.








Get Prepared EXPO 2015

International Forecaster - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 04:00

Get Prepared Expo – Meet USAPrepares.com Instructors, Attend Seminars, and Banquet Dinners March 27, 28, 29,  2015 – Cowan Civic Center – Lebanon, MO

Earnings Down Durable Goods Hit Markets Tumble

International Forecaster - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 04:00

...As is now standard practice in the “new normal” of the post-Lehman world, all eyes are now on Washington where the Fed is currently engaged in the first FOMC meeting of the year.

Bloomberg That Horrible First Decade Is Over Now Or Is It

Daily Bell - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:06
We find this analysis questionable, indeed. Our favorite Bloomberg columnist, Noah Smith, has decided that the first 10 years of the century were hell, but apparently the five thereafter registered significant improvements. In other words, things are getting better and better. Tell that to the stock market that recently dropped some 600 points. Since we believe that there are powerful forces intent on pushing the market higher, we're not yet convinced that this is the end of the faux-bull market ...

Organic Taking Its Place in the Elite Dialectic

Daily Bell - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:04
This article at CNN makes the point that organic foods are increasingly preferable because of the amount of herbicides the EPA is allowing in and on food-crops. We are beginning to see a dialectic here between "organic" and "Big Ag" crops. Big Ag uses herbicides, pesticides and GM seeds. Organic becomes the "good guy," being grown naturally and without these interferences. More: "Herbicides (weed killers) are mixtures of chemicals designed to spray on weeds, where they get inside the plants and ...

Handcuffs Leg Shackles and Tasers The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools

Daily Bell - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:02
Roughly 1500 kids are tied up or locked down every day by school officials in the United States. At least 500 students are locked up in some form of solitary confinement every day, whether it be a padded room, a closet or a duffel bag. In many cases, parents are rarely notified when such methods are used. On any given day when school is in session, kids who "act up" in class are pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg ...

Use Cash

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

Bloomberg reports that the yield on more than $4 trilllion of sovereign debt has turned negative.  Investors are now paying the Swiss government to borrow from them for longer than a decade and paying the German government to borrow for a lustrum.  For all Euro-area nations, according to Bloomberg calculations, average yields on sovereign debt are now at 0.68%.  With the quantitative easing program of the ECB set to begin in earnest in March and to likely drive bond yields even lower, what’s an investor to do?  Dr. Brendan Brown, Head of Economic Research for  Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International suggests one intriguing possibility in his Daily Economic Report:

The 500 euro-note might become the new asset class in strong demand. We can do the arithmetic – 20 million euro- citizens put one hundred 500 euro notes under their mattress (or in the vault). That would absorb 20% of Sig. Draghi’s QE bazooka. And it could be much more than that. The authorities can hardly frown at ordinary citizens salvaging their funds from negative interest rates and/or increasingly burdensome charges.

Such old-fashioned currency hoarding would re-establish the primacy of cash vis-a-vis bank deposits in the monetary system and would deliver a crippling blow against the fractional-reserve banking system, which is the main transmission belt for the inflationary effects of the quantitative easing program.

Bureaucrats Have Always Been Corrupt

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

The greatest problem with government is how it consumes capital until it kills the private sector. This has been the course of every government – power corrupts universally. The bureaucracy has also gamed the private sector for personal gain. They currently are exploiting of the people through Civil Asset Forfeiture which is reminiscent of the Roman legions who just began to sack their own cities to pay themselves.

Pictured above are “Fouree Denarii” or Claudius (41-54AD) a member of the Julio-Claudian line just prior to Nero.  These are genuine coin dies struck on copper planchets silver plated. The people inside the mint were pocketing the real coins and producing a small quantity of debased coins illegally. This demonstrates that corruption within Rome was systemic and it kept growing. This is like the missing $2 trillion from the Pentagon budget that Rumsfeld promised would be investigated 1 day before 911 attack where the missile or whatever struck the only room in the Pentagon where the evidence was stored. What amazing coincidence.

Reprinted from Armstrong Economics.

7 Big Lies

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

The film American Sniper, based on the story of the late Navy Seal Chris Kyle, is a box office hit, setting records for an R-rated film released in January. Yet the film, the autobiography of the same name, and the reputation of Chris Kyle are all built on a set of half-truths, myths and outright lies that Hollywood didn’t see fit to clear up.

Here are seven lies about Chris Kyle and the story that director Clint Eastwood is telling:

1. The Film Suggests the Iraq War Was In Response To 9/11: One way to get audiences to unambiguously support Kyle’s actions in the film is to believe he’s there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The movie cuts from Kyle watching footage of the attacks to him serving in Iraq, implying there is some link between the two.

2. The Film Invents a Terrorist Sniper Who Works For Multiple Opposing Factions: Kyle’s primary antagonist in the film is a sniper named Mustafa. Mustafa is mentioned in a single paragraph in Kyle’s book, butthe movie blows him up into an ever-present figure and Syrian Olympic medal winner who fights for both Sunni insurgents in Fallujah and the Shia Madhi army.

3. The Film Portrays Chris Kyle as Tormented By His Actions: Multiple scenes in the movie portray Kyle as haunted by his service. One of the film’s earliest reviews praised it for showing the “emotional torment of so many military men and women.” But that torment is completely absent from the book the film is based on. In the book, Kyle refers to everyone he fought as “savage, despicable” evil. He writes, “I only wish I had killed more.” He also writes, “I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different – if my family didn’t need me – I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL.” On an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show he laughs about accidentally shooting an Iraqi insurgent. He once told a military investigator that he doesn’t “shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.”

4. The Real Chris Kyle Made Up A Story About Killing Dozens of People In Post-Katrina New Orleans: Kyle claimed that he killed 30 people in the chaos of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a story Louisiana writer Jarvis DeBerry calls “preposterous.”  It shows the sort of mentality post-war Kyle had, but the claim doesn’t appear in the film.

Read the Whole Article

The Man With 26 Million Students

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

Zach Sims, a college dropout founded Codecademy, a website which enables users to learn six popular programming languages, via a simple interface, for free. Codecademy is three years old now, and Sims has 26 million students.

Sims was invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos to talk about online education. He was Codecademy’s first student, creating Codecademy to teach himself.

Please consider The Man with 26 Million Students.

One unlikely WEF attendee – a 24-year-old from New York who dropped out of Columbia University before completing his degree – is grabbing the attention of crusty executives gathered in this mountain resort.

Introduced by global leaders as the “man who has 26 million students”, Zach Sims runs a three-year-old website called Codecademy, which enables users to learn six popular programming languages, via a simple interface, for free.

Zach is hardly the Davos type – he apologises when using buzzwords such as “intersection” and uses sarcastic air quotes when talking about the WEF’s “new digital context” slogan – but he is a vivid example of a “skills gap” victim, albeit a first-world one.

“When I was looking for internships in my junior year, at companies like Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, I realised that nobody I was going to college with had any skills that would be relevant in that context,” he says

“We figured if students at Columbia – a top five school in the country, can’t find jobs when they graduate, there was probably a problem.”

So Zach started to teach himself to code. “We built the first version of Codecademy for me,” he explains, and with the help of a friend, Ryan Bubinski, he expanded the site.

Mr Bubinski became co-founder and together they launched Codecademy, in August 2011.

In the first weekend more than 200,000 people used the product – “it gave the ability to send emails to all those people who said the market size was limited,” Zach quips, unable to suppress a smile.

The site now reaches almost 26 million students in more than 100 countries, and is helping people from all economic backgrounds to “up-skill”, including residents of African refugee camps and single mothers in the US.

“Its crazy that two kids could start something in a one-bedroom apartment in California, and educate more people in a weekend than a formal institution could in years,” he says.

“Education is having a moment”.

Reprinted with permission from Global Economic Analysis.

Can You Regenerate a Damaged Brain?

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

Although 2014 was the shining year for numerous foods, many would attest that turmeric held the gold medal in ‘hottest foods of 2014.’ The spice is relatively reasonably priced, available, and boasts seemingly countless health benefits. One of those benefits is revealed in a study conducted relatively recently, one which found that turmeric may contribute to the regeneration of a ‘damaged brain’ and help with neurological disorders.

Published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy, this recent study both showcases yet another benefit of turmeric while providing evidence that the magic compound “curcumin” within turmeric isn’t the only compound responsible for the spice’s health benefits. Researchers noticed that a lesser known, fat-soluble component within turmeric, known as Ar-turmerone, may make “a promising candidate to support regeneration in neurologic disease.”

Scientists discovered that when they put neural stems cells in petri dishes and bathed them in extracts of Ar-turmerone, up to 80% more of the stem cells grew into neurons or others cells. This is compared to control experiments where the chemical wasn’t used.

What’s more, upon injecting the turmeric extract into a part of rat’s brains where these cells are located, similar increased growth and proliferation of stem cells into neurons was detected, study co-author Dr. Adele Rüger, a researcher at the University Hospital of Cologne, Germany, and the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine says.

The study abstract reads:

“Aromatic (ar-) turmerone is a major bioactive compound of the herb Curcuma longa. It has been suggested that ar-turmerone inhibits microglia activation, a property that may be useful in treating neurodegenerative disease. Furthermore, the effects of ar-turmerone on neural stem cells (NSCs) remain to be investigated.

…Both in vitro and in vivo data suggest that ar-turmerone induces NSC proliferation. Ar-turmerone thus constitutes a promising candidate to support regeneration in neurologic disease.”

Commenting on the findings, lead author Adele Rueger says:

“While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal.”

Turmeric Also Protects the Brain Against Fluoride

Excitingly, the above study is not the only one to showcase turmeric’s ability to heal or protect the brain. One study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine titled, “Curcumin attenuates neurotoxicity induced by fluoride: An in vivo evidence,” shows that the spice turmeric can prevent and even reverse damage from exposure to toxic fluoride.

That study concludes:

“Our study thus demonstrate that daily single dose of 120 ppm F result in highly significant increases in the LPO as well as neurodegenerative changes in neuron cell bodies of selected hippocampal regions. Supplementation with curcumin significantly reduce the toxic effect of F to near normal level by augmenting the antioxidant defense through its scavenging property and provide an evidence of having therapeutic role against oxidative stress mediated neurodegeneration.”

For the best results, be sure to pick up some black pepper with some turmeric during your next food shopping spree – this combo optimizes turmeric absorption.

Reprinted from Natural Society.

Fight Every Traffic Ticket

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

John Nettles probably didn’t give it a second thought when he got a speeding ticket in Ehrhardt, South Carolina, in 1997. Like most people, he simply paid it and moved on. But some 17 years later, that decision has cost him his job.

It seems that Nettles’ ticket was never properly processed so it never showed up on his driving record. That is until two years ago when the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) caught the oversight and helpfully recorded it. Nettles’ job as a power line worker requires him to drive for a living. With the addition of this bit of ancient history to his record, he can’t get insurance, which means he can’t drive. And that means he can’t work.

The issue came to light after Nettles got a copy of his SCDMV driving record and was surprised to see the 17-year-old speeding conviction. He now faces an uphill battle with the court to get the matter resolved. Until then, he has to look for another line of work.

The lesson here is twofold. First, fight every ticket. Pleading guilty/responsible and paying the fine is the same as a conviction in the eyes of your state DMV and your insurance company. This applies to out-of-state convictions as well. They will likely hit your driving record and impact your insurance rates. Also consider notorious gotcha penalties like Georgia’s abusive Super Speeder law. Many out-of-state drivers pay their Georgia speeding tickets unaware that by doing so they may be subject to a $200 surcharge. Many say they would have fought their tickets had they known.

Second, go online and check your DMV record. Go back as many years as you can. It only costs a few bucks and it could save you a lot of grief later on. Also check the current status of your license. You’d be surprised at how many people are driving with suspended licenses and don’t even know it—until they get pulled over. Find out before that happens.

Read the Whole Article

The Truth Deniers


LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

We were told in October, before 2014 was over, that it was heading toward being the warmest year on record (Figure 1). The visual link of Polar Bears underscored the message. In fact, 2014 was among the coldest 3 percent of years of the last 10,000, but that doesn’t suit the political agenda.

We know the headline referred to NOAA’s projection, but the public only remember “warmest year”. It is a routine of manipulation of headlines practiced by bureaucrats and supporters of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), from the start. The claim was not surprising, because NOAA was pushing 2014 as warm beginning in January with this headline “NOAA: January 2014 fourth-warmest on record.” Various months were identified during the year, for example, “NOAA: August 2014 Was The Warmest On Record,” noting August was the warmest by a fraction. But they had already reported,

The summer of 2014 is officially the hottest since the modern instrumental record began more than 130 years ago, according to the latest state of the climate report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

By October they were summarizing the year.

“This makes the first ten months of 2014 the warmest January to October period on record and puts 2014 on track to be the warmest year recorded in the NOAA archive, which dates back to 1880.”

Bob Tisdale provided an excellent summary of the “Anticipation” for two surface records from GISS and NCDC. He was not surprised when these records appeared, showing 2014 was the warmest, according to them, by 0.02°C. Remember, this is from a record that is restricted by the historic record to measurements of 0.5°C. We also know the two satellite records, RSS and UAH, both show it was not the warmest year.

To counteract the headline you need something very dramatic, because there is nothing significant about the 2014 temperature as Tisdale plans to identify in an upcoming article titled, The Uptick in Global Surface Temperatures in 2014 Doesn’t Help the Growing Difference between Climate Models and Reality. He is interested in seeing how Gavin Schmidt, who replaced James Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), is carrying the torch. History shows that GISS readings are consistently higher than all other sources. It is just one indicator of the temperature adjustments made so the AGW hypothesis fits the political agenda.

Challenges and IPCC Fixes

How valid is the 2014 claim? Schmidt included how meaningless it was in his briefing notes, which on page 5 said they were only 38 percent sure, or 62 percent unsure, of the claim (Figure 2). By design or accident, and it appears the former based on their history, he neglected to mention the uncertainty in his public briefing. The historical pattern is to release a statement that belies what they actually know. They release both at about the same time but with all the emphasis on one point. Later, if challenged, they can say, well we told you.

Figure 2

In the 10,000 – year context, it is significant because it is among the 3 percent coldest years, which is far more significant than the 100-year warmest that alarmists proclaim. There are two major reasons: Highest readings occur in the most recent years of a rising temperature record. Every alteration, adjustment amendment and abridgment of the record so far, was done to create and emphasize increasingly higher temperatures.

1. The instrumental data is spatially and temporally inadequate. Surface weather data is virtually non-existent and unevenly distributed for 85 percent of the world’s surface. There are virtually none for 70 percent of the oceans. On the land, there is virtually no data for the 19 percent mountains, 20 percent desert, 20 percent boreal forest, 20 percent grasslands, and 6 percent tropical rain forest. In order to “fill-in”, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), made the ridiculous claim that a single station temperature was representative of a 1200 km radius region. Initial claims of AGW were based on land-based data. The data is completely inadequate as the basis for constructing the models.2. Most surface stations are concentrated in eastern North America and Western Europe and became the early evidence for human induced global warming. IPCC advocates ignored, for a long time, the fact that these stations are most affected by the urban heat island effect (UHIE).

The UHIE was one of the first challenges to the claim of AGW evidenced in the instrumental record. Two graphs produced by Warwick Hughes were the most effective and appeared in 1991, shortly after the first IPCC Report in 1990. Figure 3 shows temperature at six major Australian cities.

Figure 3

A most likely explanation for the increasing UHIE, is expansion of the suburban area until it encompassed airport weather stations originally outside the city. The automobile made this possible. Figure 4 provides a comparison with 26 rural stations.

Figure 4

The difference is marked. What is equally interesting is that temperatures were higher in the first part of the record from 1880 and 1900.

3. There is a consistent revision of the record to lower historic readings. This increases the gradient of supposed warming. It is apparent in the New Zealand record (Figure 5).

Figure 5

A search of WUWT, using the term “Temperature adjustments”, yields a plethora of evidence. Every adjustment serves to change the gradient of the curve making today warmer than the past. Explanations, when given, usually provide little justification for the adjustment. The other tell tale sign is that virtually all adjustments occur before the UAH satellite temperature record began in 1991.

4. Policy anticipated that satellite data would replace the need for surface weather stations. As a result many weather stations were abandoned (Figure 6), or at least not included in the calculation of the global average.

“The figures below indicatea the number of stations with record length at least N years as a function of N ,b the number of reporting stations as a function of time,c the percent of hemispheric area located within 1200km of a reporting station.”

Figure 6

The number of surface stations was inadequate in 1960, but was further reduced in 1990. Notice that only approximately 1000 stations cover 100 years.

But how accurate can the global temperature be when Antarctica is omitted. Consider the IPCC conclusion

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations. It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctic).

Antarctica is 14 million km2, an area almost equal to Russia, (17 million km2), the largest country on Earth.Add to that the 14 million km2 of the Arctic Ocean, for which there is no data, as the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) Report notes (Figure 7).

Figure 7

Extent of these regions is one thing, their role in world climate is another, and arguably far more important than almost any other region.

6. Figure 8 shows that fewer stations are a contributing factor to higher temperatures.

Figure 8

Stations NOAA used from the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) in Canada illustrate the problem. (Figure 9). Figure 9

There are 100 stations north of the Arctic Circle, but NOAA only uses Eureka, a known warm anomaly, to cover 1/3 of the second largest country on Earth. Even the 1200km measure doesn’t apply.

7. Alteration of the historic record includes the infamous hockey stick, in which a member of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) group is reported to have told Professor David Deming, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period? That involved creating the handle of the hockey stick. The blade was formed from CRU Director Phil Jones’ data that showed an increase of 0.6°C in approximately 120 years. The problem was the error factor was ±0.2°C or ±33 percent.

8. 20th century temperature trends begin with warming from 1900 to 1940, cooling from 1940 to 1980, warming from 1980 to 1998 and a slight cooling trend to 2014. Alarmists attributed the cooling to human addition of sulphate, but that failed when temperatures began to rise, with no decline in sulphate levels.9. If we accept overall warming from 1900, which is reasonable as the Earth emerges from the Little Ice Age (LIA), then the highest temperatures will occur in the most recent record (Figure10).

Figure 10

Identifying that 2014 was fractionally warmer than any other in the record does not change the trend of the “pause”. It does not enhance the CO2 causation claim.

10. The claim is 2014 is 0.02°C warmer than any other year. It is reasonable to assume that the US temperature record is among the best. Anthony Watts showed that only 7.9 percent of US stations are accurate to < 1°C. (Figure11)Figure 11

A Counter Headline Must Provide Perspective

Some form of the title for this article could work. “2014: Among the 3 percent Coldest Years in 10,000 year.” Figure 12 shows the Northern Hemisphere temperature for the period variously called the Climatic Optimum, the Hypsithermal, and the Holocene Optimum.

Figure 12

The red line, added to the original diagram, imposes the approximate 20th century temperatures (right side) against those of the last 10,000 years. As CO2Science noted from Dahl-Jensen (1998),

After the termination of the glacial period, temperatures increased steadily to a maximum of 2.5°C warmer than at present during the Climatic Optimum (4,000 to 7,000 years ago).

The key phrase in the 2014 claim is, “in the record”, but that only covers approximately 100 years. In the climatologically meaningful 10,000-year context, it is among the coldest.

The claim that 2014 was the warmest on record was politically important for proponents of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) story that human CO2 was causing global warming. Central to that argument was the need to prove late 20th century temperatures were the “warmest ever”. This is why the 2014 claim conveniently appeared before the Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting in Lima Peru, at which the false IPCC claim was desperately promoted. Political importance of the measure was accentuated by the continued, 18+ years lack of increase in global temperature.

Evidence keeps contradicting the major assumptions of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis. As T.H. Huxley (1825 – 1895) said,

The great tragedy of science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.

The problem is the facts keep piling up and the AGW proponents keep ignoring, diverting, or stick-handling (hockey terminology), their way round them. We know the science is wrong because the IPCC projections are wrong. Normal science requires re-examination of the hypothesis and its assumptions. The IPCC removed this option when they set out to prove the hypothesis. It put them on a treadmill of fixing the results, especially the temperature record. As Chinese General Tao Kan said, “It is like riding on the back of a tiger and finding it hard to get off.”

Reprinted with the permission from Dr. Tim Ball.

Can the Empire Survive?

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

The crisis gripping the US state apparatus is directly threatening the survival of the Empire. This is no longer merely the opinion of Thierry Meyssan, but the subject that is shaking the ruling class in Washington to the point that the honorary president of the Council on Foreign Relations is demanding the resignation of the chief advisers of President Obama and the appointment of a new team. This clash has nothing to do with a typical opposition of Democrats and Republicans, nor even with that of the doves / hawks. What is at stake is leadership in the United States and NATO.

For several months now, I’ve been noting that there is no foreign policy in Washington, but two factions that oppose each other in all things and separately conduct contradictory and inconsistent policies. [1]

The climax of this situation has been reached in Syria, where the White House first organized the moult of Daesh and sent it to ethnically cleanse Iraq, then fought it even though the CIA continues to support it. This inconsistency has gradually spread to the Allies. Thus, France joined the anti-Daesh coalition while some of its legionaries are part of the Daesh cadre [2].

When the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, requested written clarification, he not only received no answer, but he was fired. [3]

The disorder soon spread to NATO, an alliance created to fight the USSR and maintained against Russia, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed gigantic economic agreements with Vladimir Putin. [4]

Coming out of his silence, the honorary chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations [5], Leslie H. Gelb, sounded the alarm. [6] He said that “the Obama team lacked basic instincts and judgment to lead the national security policy in the next two years.” And he continued, on behalf of the US ruling class as a whole: “President Obama needs to replace his team with strong personalities and experienced strategists. He should also place new people as Senior Advisors to the Secretaries of Defense and State. And he must finally implement regular consultations with Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain [7], the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. »

Never, since its creation in 1921, has the Council on Foreign Relations taken such a position. This is because the divisions within the state apparatus are leading the United States directly to doom.

Listing the main advisers, which, according to him, must leave, Mr. Gelb cites four people very close intellectually and emotionally to the President: Susan Rice (National Security Advisor), Dennis McDonough (Chief of Staff of the White House), Benjamin Rhodes (Communications) and Valerie Jarrett (Foreign Policy Advisor). The ruling class in Washington accuses them of never submitting original proposals to the president, much less contradicting him, but always humouring him in his prejudices.

The only personality to find favor in the eyes of the Council on Foreign Relations, Anthony Blinken, new No. 2 at the State Department, is a “liberal hawk”.

The Council on Foreign Relations being a bipartisan body, Mr. Gelb proposes that President Obama surround himself by four Democrats and four Republicans corresponding to the profile he described. First the Democrats: Thomas Pickering (former ambassador to the United Nations), Winston Lord (former assistant to Henry Kissinger), Frank Wisner (unofficially one of the bosses of the CIA and incidentally Nicolas Sarkozy’s stepfather) and Michèle Flournoy (the President of the Center for a New American Security) [8]. Then, Republicans Robert Zoellick (former head of the World Bank) [9], Richard Armitage (former assistant to Colin Powell) [10], Robert Kimmitt (probable next boss of the World Bank), and Richard Burt (former negotiator on the reduction of nuclear weapons).

For Secretary of Defense, Mr. Gelb offers Rabbi Dov Zakheim to manage budget cuts [11], Admiral Mike Mullen (former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Jack Keane (former Chief of Staff of the Army).

Finally, Mr. Gelb proposes that the national security strategy be developed in consultation with the four “wise men”: Henry Kissinger [12] Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, [13] and James Baker. [14]

Looking more closely at this list, we understand that the Council on Foreign Relations did not want to decide between the two opposing groups within the Obama administration, but it intends to restore order in the system from above. In this regard, it is not irrelevant in a country thus far led by WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) that two counsellors whose dismissals are required are black women, while fourteen of the fifteen incoming names are white males, either Protestant or Ashkenazi. The political housekeeping is also therefore an ethnic and religious takeover.

Notes

[1] For instance : “Does Obama still have a military policy?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 1 December 2014.[2] “French « ex-military » operatives with Daesh jihadists”, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 24 January 2015.[3] “Who is the Pentagon fighting against in Syria?”, Voltaire Network, 4 November 2014.[4] “How Vladimir Putin Upset NATO’s Strategy”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 13 December 2014.

[5] « Comment le Conseil des relations étrangères détermine la diplomatie US », Réseau Voltaire, 25 juin 2004.

[6] « This Is Obama’s Last Foreign Policy Chance », Leslie Gelb, The Daily Beast, January 14, 2015.

[7] “John McCain, Conductor of the “Arab Spring” and the Caliph”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 18 August 2014.

[8] “CNAS, the democratic version of conquest imperialism”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Al-Watan (Syria), Voltaire Network, 6 January 2015.

[9] « Robert B. Zoellick, maître d’œuvre de la globalisation », Réseau Voltaire, 10 mars 2005.

[10] « Richard Armitage, le baroudeur qui rêvait d’être diplomate »,Réseau Voltaire, 8 octobre 2004.

[11] « Dov Zakheim, la caution du Pentagone », par Paul Labarique,Réseau Voltaire, 9 septembre 2004.

[12] « Le retour d’Henry Kissinger », par Thierry Meyssan, Réseau Voltaire, 28 novembre 2002.

[13] “The outrageous strategy to destroy Russia”, by Arthur Lepic,Voltaire Network, 22 October 2004.

[14] « James A. Baker III, un ami fidèle », Réseau Voltaire, 16 décembre 2003.

Don’t You Need Your Own Drone?

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

The discovery of a 2ft-diameter drone in the grounds of the White House on Monday – its operator a government employee who told investigators he had been drinking – has led to renewed calls for comprehensive laws to cover drone use in the US.

President Barack Obama said creating a framework for drone laws was one of his duties during his final two years in office.

“We don’t yet have the legal structures and the architecture both globally and within individual countries to manage [drones] the way that we need to,” Obama said in a CNN interview.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned most commercial drone operations, though that is expected to change in the next few years. Researchers and enthusiasts believe the government is moving too slowly; the FAA has estimated that the introduction of regulations could put 7,500 commercial drones in the sky within five years.

“I’ve assigned some of the relevant agencies to start talking to stakeholders and figure out how we’re going to put an architecture in place that makes sure that these things aren’t dangerous and that they’re not violating people’s privacy,” Obama said.

The White House said the drone that came down in the grounds of the executive mansion posed no threat. The president was in India with the first lady, Michelle Obama, at the time of the incident; their daughters Malia and Sasha were in Washington.

A secret service officer “heard and observed” the drone but agents were unable to stop or deflect it before it crashed.

Economists have predicted that drones will make up a global market worth $1bn by 2018. Brendan Schulman, head of commercial drone law at the law firm Kramer Levin, said regulations on commercial operations would be unlikely to stop someone with malicious intent.

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The Persians Are Coming!

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

“The Iranians are on the march,” warned John McCain Sunday.

“Iran is building a new Persian Empire,” echoed Col. Ralph Peters.

So alarmed is Speaker Boehner, he invited Bibi Netanyahu to come and challenge U.S. policy toward Iran from the same podium where the president delivered his State of the Union address.

Bibi will make the case for new U.S. sanctions on Iran; sanctions that Obama has said he will veto as they would sabotage talks on Iran’s nuclear program and potentially put us on the road to war.

Why are Bibi’s insights needed?

Because, says Sen. Robert Menendez, the outgoing chairman of foreign relations, White House statements sound like “talking points from Tehran.” This beloved poodle of AIPAC is always a strong contender for best in show.

“Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence … a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

So warned our first and greatest president in his Farewell Address.

But this column is not about how Washington would weep at what has become of this Republic, nor a polemic against the corruption of a capital where the currency is campaign cash and national policy is the commodity bought and sold.

The issue is whether Iran represents a threat to our security worth risking a war. For that is where many, including Bibi, want us to go.

Last week’s panic was triggered by the ouster of the pro-American Yemeni President by Houthi rebels. Suddenly, we heard wails that Iran has now captured four Arab capitals — Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa.

“Death to America, death to Israel,” is a slogan of the Houthis who are a Shia minority in Sunni Yemen. But who do the Houthis view as their mortal foes?

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP. Our enemy, too.

The crown jewel of the new “Persian Empire” is said to be Iraq. So how did the Iranian imperialists manage to acquire it?

George Bush sent an army up to Baghdad, ousted Iran’s greatest enemy, Saddam, disbanded his army, smashed his state, and brought to power a Shia majority with religious and historic bonds to Iran.

A masterstroke of Bismarckian brilliance. And both parties voted in Congress to authorize it. Mission Accomplished! — as they say in Tehran.

As for Damascus, Iran is but backing the Alawite Shia regime of Bashar Assad, whose father, Hafez Assad, was Bush I’s ally in Desert Storm.

As for Beirut, Hezbollah arose as a resistance movement when Ariel Sharon invaded Lebanon in 1982.

Yitzhak Rabin would come to regret the consequences: “We let the Shia genie out of the bottle.”

Looking over the chaos that is the Middle East today, we see failed states in Libya, Yemen and Syria, with Iraq and Afghanistan perhaps next.

A strategic disaster, largely of our own making. But if al-Qaeda and ISIS are our real enemies now, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad and the Houthis are all de facto allies, fighting on the same side with us.

Alarmists may see a new Persian Empire threatening all mankind.

A closer look reveals a Shia minority in a Sunni-dominated world where Shia are despised heretics. And of all the terrorist organizations we have the most reason to fear and hate — al-Qaida, Islamic State, Ansar al-Sharia, Boko Haram — none is Shia, all are Sunni.

What about Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb?

Well, Israel has 100-300 atom bombs. America has thousands. Iran’s Muslim neighbor Pakistan has scores. And Iran? She has no bomb.

Iran has never tested a nuclear device. She has never produced weapons-grade uranium. Her Fordow underground plant now has IAEA inspectors and its 20-percent-enriched uranium is all being diluted. Construction of the heavy-water reactor at Arak has been halted. Half of Iran’s centrifuges are not operating. There are International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and cameras blanketing Iran’s program.

The U.S. intelligence community has twice said Iran has no nuclear bomb program. And the most recent finding, 2011, has never been reversed by the Director of National Intelligence.

And just how credible a foreign leader has Boehner invited to undercut his own president’s credibility?

This is the same Bibi who told the Jewish community of Los Angeles in 2006, “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany … racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.” Bibi even had the war plans:

“Israel would certainly be the first stop on Iran’s tour of destruction, but at [Tehran’s] planned production rate of 25 nuclear bombs a year, [the arsenal] will be directed against ‘the big Satan,’ the U.S.”

Twenty-five Iranian nuclear bombs a year! What bullhockey it all was.

Boehner seem to have concluded that new sanctions on Iran, even if it aborts negotiations and brings on a war with Iran, will be rewarded by the electorate in 2016.

Perhaps. But if this is where the GOP is heading, we’ll be getting off here.

Using Women’s Photos

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

What does a photo of an Asian woman with no underwear have to do with World War III? Nothing. What does the photo have to do with luring men to read an ad that supposedly is about World War III have to do with making money? Everything.

Here is the ad’s headline and photo.

This ad is all over the Web. Some ad agency is using it to hustle men on lots of Right-wing sites, including mine. It’s all automatic. I hate this ad.

I have prepared a brief video on this ad.

The ad is working, because I see this ad on numerous sites I visit.

Why does it work? Because it appeals to men with no understanding of cause (photo) and effect (getting your money).

You are taken to a site that scares you to death with a fear that, in my view, is off-the-wall unlikely.

This scenario is being promoted by a man named Jim Rickards. In February 2012, I wrote an article for my GaryNorth.com subscribers on why I do not take his thesis seriously. I have now re-posted my article for the general public. You may read it here.

I wrote this:

There is no Currency War III. There is just one long currency war. It escalated in 1914, when Europe went off the gold coin standard and never returned. There was a fake gold standard, beginning in 1921: the gold-exchange standard. It ended on August 15, 1971, when Nixon killed it.

Roosevelt killed the domestic gold coin standard in 1933.

Any gold standard that can be killed by unilateral decree by a President was a government gold standard from day one. It is not worth the paper it’s written on. . . .

Currency wars will continue for as long as politicians and bureaucrats have sovereignty over money. There will be no clear-cut winner in the long run.

Nothing has happened in three years that in any way resembles his forecast. Now the dollar is shooting up against other currencies — the opposite of Rickards’s thesis. The dollar is the strongest of all the world’s currencies today.

My thesis the was (and remains) this: Keynesians control central banks. They will make sure that their currencies do not get too far out of relationship with the U.S. dollar. The rising dollar subsidizes the export markets of foreign nations. Politicians love to subsidize exports. They are mercantilists.

There is not going to be a collapse of all currencies. There has never been such a collapse. There has not been hyperinflation in any large, Western industrial nation north of the equator except after World War II: Germany and Austria in 1921-23. To worry about hyperinflation in America, Canada, and Western Europe is just plain silly. It has never happened in peacetime.

But what does all this have to do with an Asian woman with no underwear? Only this: her photo lures in men who are more interested in photos of Asian women than with World War III or currency wars.

From the Absurd to the Insane

LewRockwell.com - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:01

Washington’s attack on Russia has moved beyond the boundary of the absurd into the realm of insanity.

The New Chief of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack, has declared the Russian news service, RT, which broadcasts in multiple languages, to be a terrorist organization equivalent to Boko Haram and the Islamic State, and Standard and Poor’s just downgraded Russia’s credit rating to junk status.

Today RT International interviewed me about these insane developments.

In prior days when America was still a sane country, Lack’s charge would have led to him being laughed out of office. He would have had to resign and disappear from public life. Today in the make-believe world that Western propaganda has created, Lack’s statement is taken seriously. Yet another terrorist threat has been identified–RT. (Although both Boko Haram and the Islamic State employ terror, strictly speaking they are political organizations seeking to rule, not terror organizations, but this distinction would be over Lack’s head. Yes, I know. There is a good joke that could be made here about what Lack lacks. Appropriately named and all that.)

Nevertheless, whatever Lack might lack, I doubt he believes his nonsensical statement that RT is a terrorist organization. So what is his game?

The answer is that the Western presstitute media by becoming Ministries of Propaganda for Washington, have created large markets for RT, Press TV, and Al Jazeera. As more and more of the peoples of the world turn to these more honest news sources, Washington’s ability to fabricate self-serving explanations has declined.

RT in particular has a large Western audience. The contrast between RT’s truthful reporting and the lies spewed by US media is undermining Washington’s control of the explanation. This is no longer acceptable.

Lark has sent a message to RT. The message is: pull in your horns; stop reporting differently from our line; stop contesting the facts as Washington states them and the presstitutes report them; get on board or else.

In other words, the “free speech” that Washington and its EU, Canadian, and Australian puppet states tout means: free speech for Washington’s propaganda and lies, but not for any truth. Truth is terrorism, because truth is the major threat to Washington.

Washington would prefer to avoid the embarrassment of actually shutting down RT as its UK vassal did to Press TV. Washington simply wants to shut up RT. Lark’s message to RT is: self-censure.

In my opinion, RT already understates in its coverage and reporting as does Al Jazeera. Both news organizations understand that they cannot be too forthright, at least not too often or on too many occasions.

I have often wondered why the Russian government allows 20 percent of the Russian media to function as Washington’s fifth column inside Russia. I suspect the reason is that by tolerating Washington’s blatant propaganda inside Russia, the Russian government hopes that some factual news can be reported in the US via RT and other Russian news organizations.

These hopes, like other Russian hopes about the West, are likely to be disappointed in the end. If RT is closed down or assimilated into the Western presstitute media, nothing will be said about it, but if the Russian government closes down Washington’s agents, blatant liars all, in the Russian media, we will hear forever about the evil Russians suppressing “free speech.” Remember, the only allowable “free speech” is Washington’s propaganda.

Only time will tell whether RT decides to be closed down for telling the truth or whether it adds its voice to Washington’s propaganda.

The other item in the interview was the downgrading of Russian credit to junk status.

Standard and Poor’s downgrade is, without any doubt, a political act. It proves what we already know, and that is that the American rating firms are corrupt political operations. Remember the Investment Grade rating the American rating agencies gave to obvious subprime junk? These rating agencies are paid by Wall Street, and like Wall Street they serve the US government.

A look at the facts serves to establish the political nature of the ruling. Don’t expect the corrupt US financial press to look at the facts. But right now, we will look at the facts.

Indeed, we will put the facts in context with the US debt situation.

According to the debt clocks available online, the Russian national debt as a percentage of Russian GDP is 11 percent. The American national debt as a percentage of US GDP is 105 percent, about ten times higher. My coauthors, Dave Kranzler, John Williams, and I have shown that when measured correctly, the US debt as a percent of GDP is much higher than the official figure.

The Russian national debt per capita is $1,645. The US national debt per capita is$56,952.

The size of Russia’s national debt is $235 billion, less than one quarter of a trillion. The size of the US national debt is $18 trillion, 76.6 times larger than the Russian debt.

Putting this in perspective: according to the debt clocks, US GDP is $17.3 trillion and Russian GDP is $2.1 trillion. So, US GDP is 8 times greater than Russian GDP, but US national debt is 76.6 times greater than Russia’s debt.

Clearly, it is the US credit rating that should have been downgraded to junk status. But this cannot happen. Any US credit rating agency that told the truth would be closed and prosecuted. It wouldn’t matter what the absurd charges are. The rating agencies would be guilty of being anti-american, terrorist organizations like RT, etc. and so on, and they know it. Never expect any truth from any Wall Street denizen. They lie for a living.

According to this site: http://people.howstuffworks.com/5-united-states-debt-holders.htm#page=4 the US owes Russia as of January 2013 $162.9 billion. As the Russian national debt is $235 billion, 69 percent of the Russian national debt is covered by US debt obligations to Russia.

If this is a Russian Crisis, I am Alexander the Great.

As Russia has enough US dollar holdings to redeem its entire national debt and have a couple hundred billion dollars left, what is Russia’s problem?

One of Russia’s problems is its central bank. For the most part, Russian economists are the same neoliberal incompetents that exist in the Western world. The Russian economists are enamored of their contacts with the “superior” West and with the prestige that they image these contacts give them. As long as the Russian economists agree with the Western ones, they get invited to conferences abroad. These Russian economists are de facto American agents whether they realize it or not.

Currently, the Russian central bank is squandering the large Russian holdings of foreign reserves in support of the Western attack on the ruble. This is a fools’ game that no central bank should play. The Russian central bank should remember, or learn if it does not know, Soros’ attack on the Bank of England.

Russian foreign reserves should be used to retire the outstanding national debt, thus making Russia the only country in the world without a national debt. The remaining dollars should be dumped in coordinated actions with China to destroy the dollar, the power basis of American Imperialism.

Alternatively, the Russian government should announce that its reply to the economic warfare being conducted against Russia by the government in Washington and Wall Street rating agencies is default on its loans to Western creditors. Russia has nothing to lose as Russia is already cut off from Western credit by US sanctions. Russian default would cause consternation and crisis in the European banking system, which is exactly what Russia wants in order to break up Europe’s support of US sanctions.

In my opinion, the neoliberal economists who control Russian economic policy are a much greater threat to the sovereignty of Russia than economic sanctions and US missile bases. To survive Washington, Russia desperately needs people who are not romantic about the West.

To dramatize the situation, if President Putin will grant me Russian citizenship and allow me to appoint Michael Hudson and Nomi Prins as my deputies, I will take over the operation of the Russian central bank and put the West out of operation.

But that would require Russia taking risks associated with victory. The Atlanticist Integrationists inside the Russian government want victory for the West, not for Russia. A country imbued with treason inside the government itself has reduced chance against Washington, a determined player.

Another fifth column operating against Russia from within are the US and German funded NGOs. These American agents masquerade as “human rights organizations,” as “women’s rights organizations,” as “democracy organizations,” and whatever other cant titles that serve in a politically correct age and are unchallengeable.

Yet another threat to Russia comes from the percentage of the Russian youth who lust for the depraved culture of the West. Sexual license, pornography, drugs, self-absorption. These are the West’s cultural offerings. And, of course, killing Muslims.

If Russians want to kill people for the fun of it and to solidify US hegemony over themselves and the world, they should support “Atlanticist integration” and turn their backs on Russian nationalism. Why be Russian if you can be American serfs?

What better result for the American neoconservatives than to have Russia support Washington’s hegemony over the world? That is what the neoliberal Russian economists and the “European Integrationists” support. These Russians are willing to be American serfs in order to be part of the West and to be paid well for their treason.

As I was interviewed about these developments by RT, the news anchor kept trying to confront Washington’s charges with the facts. It is astonishing that the Russian journalists do not understand that facts have nothing to do with it. The Russian journalists, those independent of American bribes, think that facts matter in the disputes about Russian actions. They think that the assaults on civilians by the American supported Ukrainian Nazis is a fact. But, of course no such fact exists in the Western media. In the Western media the Russians, and only the Russians, are responsible for violence in Ukraine.

Washington’s story line is that it is the evil Putin’s intent on restoring the Soviet Empire that is the cause of the conflict. This media line in the West has no relationship to any facts.

In my opinion, Russia is in grave danger. Russians are relying on facts, and Washington is relying on propaganda. For Washington, facts are not relevant. Russian voices are small compared to Western voices.

The lack of a Russian voice is due to Russia itself. Russia accepted living in a world controlled by US financial, legal, and telecommunication services. Living in this wold means that the only voice is Washington’s.

Why Russia agreed to this strategic disadvantage is a mystery. But as a result of this strategic mistake, Russia is at a disadvantage.

Considering the inroads that Washington has into the Russian government itself, the economically powerful oligarchs and state employees with Western connections, as well as into the Russian media and Russian youth, with the hundreds of American and German financed NGOs that can put Russians into the streets to protest any defense of Russia, Russia’s future as a sovereign country is in doubt.

The American neoconservatives are relentless. Their Russian opponent is weakened by the success inside Russia of Western cold war propaganda that portrays the US as the savior and future of mankind.

The darkness from Sauron America continues to spread over the world.

New study shows these common over-the-counter drugs linked to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia

Natural News - Wed, 01/28/2015 - 02:00
(NaturalNews) A new study clearly shows common over-the-counter medications widely used for asthma, allergies, and insomnia increase the risk for dementia. The study also found that the risk may not be reversible, even after several years off of these medications.The drugs studied...

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