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Guest Post: Unprecedented 'Mass Die Offs' As Pacific Ocean "Turning Into a Desert" Off California Coast

"...the waters of the Pacific off the coast of California are a clear, shimmering blue today, so transparent it’s possible to see the sandy bottom below... clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into a desert, and the chain reaction that causes that bitter clarity is perhaps most obvious on the beaches of the Golden State, where thousands of emaciated sea lion pups are stranded."



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Hillary Clinton's Speech Requirements: Private Jets, Presidential Suites And Lots Of Cash

Spoiler alert: these are not the requirements of an "everyday American"...



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FBI Confirms No Major Terrorism Cases Cracked Via Unconstitutional Patriot Act Phone Spying

"FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating... Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations."



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Traders Are Buying Gold & Silver At Fastest Pace In Over A Decade

The last time large speculators were as aggressively buying silver as last week was September 1997. The net long non-commercial positioning in Silver futures, according to the CFTC rose almost 22,000 contracts last week to a 3-month high (which is closing in on the 'longest' since 2005). Gold, not be out-precious'd also saw major buying. Net speculative longs in gold added over 45,000 contracts - the most since July 2005 - lifting net long positions to their highest in 3 months. Perhaps, just perhaps, as Alhambra's Jeffrey Snider notes, this is due to Yellen putting the 'dollar' back on suicide watch.



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In Unprecedented Move, California Farmers With Guaranteed Rights Cut Water Use By 25%

In an attempt to frontrun even more draconian measures resulting from California's record drought, farmers in the state's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta who have California's oldest water rights proposed to voluntarily cut their water use by 25% to avoid the risk of even harsher restrictions by the state later this summer should the water situation deteriorate further. State officials promptly accepted the offer, even if it is ultimately moot since there is no way to enforce it.



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Is Greece Still A Country If Someone Else Owns Its Assets?

Foreign investment is of course common around the world and is generally seen as a good thing. Americans mostly like it, for instance, when Japanese investors bid up shares of US companies or Chinese expats pay above asking price for Manhattan apartments. With only a few exceptions we take the money and don’t look back. But there must be a limit, a point where foreign interests own so much of a country that they call the shots and the locals become in effect their serfs. Greece might be the test case that shows us where that point is...



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Behind The Scenes In FX Trading: What Is Really Going On

With HFT algos now firmly entrenched in FX markets we weren't surprised to learn that volatility is rising, bid-ask spreads are blowing out, and liquidity is vanishing. Expect things like last October's algo-driven, Fed-assisted Treasury flash crash to become par for the course in FX markets as well, with harrowing USD, EUR, JPY, [fill in the blank] ramps and flash crashs becoming the norm and leaving panicked central bankers desperately trying to figure out what happened after the fact.  



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"New Silk Road" Could Change Global Economics Forever, Part 1

China is building the world’s greatest economic development and construction project ever undertaken: The New Silk Road. The project aims at no less than a revolutionary change in the economic map of the world. It is also seen by many as the first shot in a battle between east and west for dominance in Eurasia. For the world at large, its decisions about the Road are nothing less than momentous. The massive project holds the potential for a new renaissance in commerce, industry, discovery, thought, invention, and culture that could well rival the original Silk Road. It is also becoming clearer by the day that geopolitical conflicts over the project could lead to a new cold war between East and West for dominance in Eurasia.



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These Are The 50 Top Hedge Fund Long And Short Positions

At the end of every quarter there is a scramble by the financial public to peek at what the biggest hedge fund holdings were as of 45 days ago. And yet, one wonders why: as Goldman notes, "the low dispersion market continues to challenge stock-pickers as the average hedge fund lags the S&P 500 for the seventh straight year (2% vs. 4% YTD)." In fact, even the barbarous relic known as gold has outperformed the average hedge fund YTD. Then again, as we have said since 2012, the only informational value comes not from looking at hedge fund longs, but their biggest shorts, since short squeezes remain perhaps the only source of major outperformance. So for all those curious, here are the biggest hedge fund shorts as of March 31, 2015.



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Constitution 1 - 0 Government: NSA Starts Winding Down Bulk Data Collection

As we detailed earlier, in a chaotic scene during the wee hours of Saturday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill known as the USA Freedom Act - backed by President Barack Obama, House Republicans and the nation's top law enforcement and intelligence officials - which would have preserved the government's ability to search phone company records for suspected spies and terrorists. As AP reports, the failure to act means the NSA will immediately begin curtailing its previously-secret bulk data collection progreams with The DoJ noting that while it will take time to taper off the collection process, that process began Friday (according to an administration official). Sen. Rand Paul called the Senate's failure to allow an extension of the surveillance programs a victory for privacy rights, adding "we should never give up our rights for a false sense of security."



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Cold War 2.0: Visualizing All Recent "Close Encounters" Between Russian And NATO Warplanes

Lately, not a day seems to pass without news of NATO jets being scrambled to intercept/reroute a Russian warplane or reconnaisance jet. As a result, David Cenciotti's The Aviationist blog has compiled the recent history of all the "close encounters" between Russian and NATO warplanes since 2013. Here are the results.



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ISIS: Mapping A Militant Expansion

As the US moves closer to putting boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria to counter an ISIS "offensive", The New York Times is out with a series of graphics which document the group’s spread.



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Steen Jakobsen Warns, Brace For The Next Recession

The financial world today is now an island on its own – separated from the real economy, as can be seen by the paradox of record high valuation in the stock market coinciding with record low inflation, employment , productivity and no hope. There is asset inflation, but deflation in the real economy. When the world has been this long at the zero-bound, the misallocation, the inability to reform, and a toolbox without new tools creates a mandate for change. "I expect stocks to trade sideways for the balance of 2015 and have now sold all my fixed income, increased my gold exposure, and I’m looking to buy mining companies and overall to increase my exposure to commodities beyond the normal allocation."



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Rand Paul Blocks Extension Of Patriot Act, Future Of Illegal NSA Spying On Americans In Limbo

While an extension of the Patriot Act, that landmark bill which ushered in the America's Big Brother, "turnkey totalitarian state" (previewed here long before Edward Snowden's shocking revelations), is just a matter of time, supporters of the Fourth Amendment scored a brief victory last night when following yet another marathon 10 hour filibuster and refusal to play by the script by Rand Paul, the Senate failed to extend the Patriot Act, leaving the future of America's "war against terrorists" but really against "enemies domestic", i.e., anyone who uses email, has a cell phone or in any other electronic way communicates with others, in limbo.



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Time To Get Real About China

The present Chinese leadership appears to be trying to gain (regain?) more - if not full - control over the country’s economic system, while at the same time (re-)boosting the growth it has lost in recent years. President Xi Jinping, prime minister Li Keqiang and all of their subservient leaders – there are 1000?s of those in a 1.4 million citizens country- apparently think this can be done. We truly doubt it. We don’t think that they ever understood what would happen if they opened up the country to a more free-market, capitalist structure. That doing so would automatically reduce their political power, since a free market, in whatever shape and form, does not rhyme with the kind of control which the Communist Party has been used to for decades, and which the current leaders have grown up taking for granted.



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