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De-Escalation Algo Pushes Futures To Overnight Highs

It is unclear exactly why stock futures, bonds - with European peripheral yields hitting new record lows for the second day in a row - gold, oil and pretty much everything else is up this morning but it is safe to say the central banks are behind it, as is the "de-escalation" algo as a meeting between Russia and Ukraine begins today in Belarus' capital Minsk. Belarusian and Kazakhstani leaders will also be at the summit. Hopes of a significant progress on the peace talks were dampened following Merkel’s visit to Kiev over the weekend. The German Chancellor said that a big breakthrough is unlikely at today’s meeting. Russian FM Lavrov said that the discussion will focus on economic ties, the humanitarian crisis and prospects for a political resolution. On that note Lavrov also told reporters yesterday that Russia hopes to send a second humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine this week. What he didn't say is that he would also send a cohort of Russian troops which supposedly were captured by overnight by the Ukraine army (more shortly).



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10 George Orwell Quotes That Predicted Life In 2014 America

George Orwell ranks among the most profound social critics of the modern era. Some of his quotations, more than a half a century old, show the depth of understanding an enlightened mind can have about the future.



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How Serious Is The California Drought?

A picture paints a thousand words... but these 3 before-and-after images in California (over a period of just 3 years) suggest only 3 words - "What a Disaster"



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The 'Sunni Turn' Against The 'Shiite Crescent': How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington (And Its Allies) Created ISIS

The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest “threat” to the American homeland. We are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores. ISIS didn’t blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh. The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense: actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep out.



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A Tale Of 2 Americas: "Baby Massage" & iPads Versus ".38 Revolver" & Antichrist

Based on the results of a decade of search data, NY Times offers a rather disturbing portrait of the very different subjects that occupy the thoughts of richer America and poorer America. Offering a glimpse into the day-to-day thinking behind the nation's inequality, searches in the hardest places to live include health problems, weight-loss diets, guns, video games, religion and Antichrist!? In the easiest places to live, cameras, iPads, and baby massage are highly correlated to ease-of-living.



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Ron Paul On Ferguson: The War Comes Home

America’s attention recently turned away from the violence in Iraq and Gaza toward the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Michael Brown. The increasing use of military equipment by local police is a symptom of growing authoritarianism, not the cause. The cause is policies that encourage police to see Americans as enemies to subjugate, rather than as citizens to "protect and serve.”



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Forensic Expert Says Foley Murder Video "May Have Been Staged"

While there have been many suggestions, some of very dubious nature others not so much, that the ISIS video showing the execution of James Foley may have been staged, faked or otherwise fabricated (especially after Scotland Yard warned that sharing or merely viewing the infamous YouTube clip of Foley's murder is a crime and is punishable under anti-terror laws, stunning virtually everyone), it wasn't until today that an actual forensic expert opined - apparently one who isn't afraid of the criminal charges headed their way - that something may be wrong with the 4 minute 40-second clip. The Telegraph reports that an "international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used."



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Lacy Hunt: The World Economy's Terminal Case Of Debt Sclerosis

Today, the world economy is in uncharted territory. Never before has the developed world carried this much debt. Never before have the central banks of those same countries expanded their balance sheets so much. Never before has so much sovereign debt been outright monetized. Never before have major financial institutions been officially designated as “too big to fail” and thereby been granted special license to assume gigantic risks. Dr. Lacy Hunt, economist and current executive vice president of Hoisington Investment Management Company, expects the macroeconomic situation to get worse from here...



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Spotting The Next Detroit - America's Fasting-Shrinking Cities

Whether Detroit's slumping population was cause or effect (or both) in its demise remains up for discussion; either way, in the ever-more-entitled and ever-less-working world in which we live, a declining population in the face of increasingly promised benefits has only two ends - death (bankruptcy) or taxes. In spite of almost record-low Muni market yields (and spreads), risks remain - just ask the HY market... and these 25 cities have the highest rate of population decline in America.



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US Furious After Source Of "Mystery" Libya Bombing Raids Revealed

Over the past week a new geopolitical mystery emerged: an "unknown" party was launching airstrikes against Libya, which is already reeling in its latest political crisis. The strikes puzzled various media outlets, such as Reuters which over the weekend reported that "Unidentified war planes attacked positions of an armed faction in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Saturday." This follows a similar report when on Monday, the government said unknown fighter jets had bombed positions from armed factions in Tripoli, an attack claimed by a renegade general in Benghazi. Turns out the renegade general was lying, and merely trying to take credit for another party's intervention. That party, or rather, parties has been revealed as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which "have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli" And sure enough, "US diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes" as the US was never given advance notice of these attacks.



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Creepy Mission: Obama "Lays Groundwork For Air Strikes" In Syria Next

What's the opposite of 'limited' air-strikes? As The WSJ reports, The Pentagon is preparing to send surveillance aircraft, including drones, into Syrian airspace to gather intelligence on Islamist targets, laying the groundwork for a possible expansion of the limited U.S. military air campaign beyond Iraq, senior U.S. officials said. The 'Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winner-In-Chief' appears to have suddenly gone full hawk-tard - one wonders which little birdy whispered in his ear that, with the Fed pulling out, the whole ponzi is up unless the US undertakes a populist deficit-bursting war...



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The Kardashians And Climate Change: Interview With Judith Curry

Climate change continues to drive energy policy, despite the fact that there is no way to reconcile eradicating energy poverty in much of the world with reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This is one of the many conundrums of the climate change debate - a debate that has been taken over by social media and propaganda, while scientists struggle to get back into the game and engage the public.



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Fed's Mission Accomplished

Looks like the herd has turned... (most hated rally?)



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The ISIS' Top Line: $2 Million In Daily Revenue From "Oil Sales, Extortion, Taxes And Smuggling"

A few days ago when we commented, somewhat in jest, on the seemingly impressive strategic planning behind the Islamic State Jihadists becoming a "commodities trading powerhouse" (when it was revealed that ISIS had sold the grain it had stolen from the Itaqi government back to the government), we described just how well-versed in the ways of the modern world ISIS was. Now, thanks to Bloomberg we can quantify this particular strategy, and put top-line numbers with the ISIS faces, so to speak: "The Islamic State, which now controls an area of Iraq and Syria larger than the U.K., may be raising more than $2 million dollars a day in revenue from oil sales, extortion, taxes and smuggling, according to U.S. intelligence officials and anti-terrorism finance experts."



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The Winner-Take-All Economy

When the majority of Americans examine the world around them, they see a stock market at record highs and modest apparent improvement in the economy, but, as John Hussman notes, they also have the sense that something remains terribly wrong, and they can't quite put their finger on it. QE-induced speculation misallocates resources that might otherwise contribute to long-run growth, and while conditions could certainly be worse, the benefits of this economic recovery have been highly uneven. The economy is starting to take on features of a winner-take-all monoculture that encourages and subsidizes too-big-to-fail banks and large-scale financial speculation at the expense of productive real investment and small-to-medium size enterprises.



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