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James Clapper Begins Propaganda Tour After Students Identify Edward Snowden As "Personal Hero"

The 'alarming' trend of college students accurately identifying Edward Snowden as a hero has given James Clapper a panic attack. So much so, that he is taking time away from protecting us from “terrorists” (a term that now apparently includes folks at the Bundy Ranch according to Harry Reid) to embark upon a propaganda speaking tour of U.S. college campuses to demonstrate to those silly young kids that Snowden is no hero, but actually a traitorous villain.



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Russia May Halt Oil Supplies On Ukraine Theft

First it was concerns over whether Ukraine would 'steal' gas supplies bound for Europe as it passed through pipelines in the country and now, as bills remain unpaid, a Transneft unit is threatening to halt Ukraine oil products supply due to pipeline theft. As Bloomberg reports, 57.9k tons of oil products have been lost from theft in Ukraine and "Transneft expresses hope that the Ukrainian authorities can evaluate the risks of the current situation and not allow a negative scenario to develop."



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This Is How Empires Collapse

This is how empires collapse: one complicit participant at a time.



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The Chinese Housing Ponzi Exposed: "As We Sell Our First Apartments, We’ll Have Cash Flow To Build The Next Stage"

Much has been said here and elsewhere about not only China's ghost cities - that final resting place where trillions in Chinese GDP "fixed investment" goes to quietly die but no before contributing to over half of China's GPD - over the past five years, but also about the bursting of the Chinese housing bubble in the past several months now that the Beijing Politburo has drastically slowed down the pace of loan creation and the country has shocked its bond investors by admitting failure is an all too real possibility. This post will therefore hardly reveal anything new, however it will provide some perspective on how from one of the most important industries for China's suddenly cooling economy, housing has becoming nothing more (or less) than one giant Ponzi scheme.



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Biogen Stock Rallies After Admitting Feds Probing "Sales & Promotional Practices"

Just when the whole congressional pricing debacle has been ignored and the bubble is back on in Biotechs as an "M&A frenzy" is unleashed, Bloomberg reports that Biogen Idec has admitted in its 10-Q that:

*BIOGEN SAYS IT RECEIVED FED SUBPOENA ON TIES TO CERTAIN Pharmacy Benefit Managers
*BIOGEN SAYS STATE, FEDERAL AUTHORITIES PROBING SALES PRACTICES

Buried quietly on page 27 of the 10-Q, they explain that state and federal governmental authorities are investigating sales and promotional practices... Of course, the small dip in the stock price was a great opportunity to reload and it is now trading higher on the news.



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Putin Gets Paid? IMF Agrees $17bn Loan To Ukraine

It seems Russia won't have to wait too long for the billions that Ukraine owes it for energy supplies past, present, and future pre-billings. Bloomberg reports that:

*IMF STAFF SAID TO BACK $17B UKRAINE LOAN
*IMF STAFF SAID TO SEEK APRIL 30 BOARD MEETING ON UKRAINE LOAN

The always-accurate staff at the IMF project a mere 5% contraction in Ukraine's economy (so that means more like 15%).



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Housing Bubble Pop 2.0: Remodeling Collapses To 1 Year Low

On the way up, every sell-side strategist points to remodeling as a leading indicator for the housing recovery as confidence in the value of their home prompts real people to "invest" in upgrades and remodel their homes. That has been the story... until now. As NARI reports, the Remodeling Business Pulse (RBP) data of current and future remodeling business conditions show current condition ratings fell significantly in March - in fact they fell from multi-year highs to one-year lows as "homeowners remain slow to make the decision to move ahead with higher-priced projects." Of course, weather is blamed, and they are 'optimistic' about the future, but one look at the chart below and it is clear something changed...



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What Google Autocomplete Tells Us About America

“Why does Obama suck?” If you’re not sure, ask Google. It seems that millions of Americans already have asked this question, along with: “Why does the government want to kill us?”, and “Can the government take your gold?” These are among the jewels of Google autocomplete - instantly displaying results from the most popular searches. The institution of government is now viewed as the problem, not the solution. And this represents a complete breakdown in the social contract. We suspect that if Google had been around in the mid-1780s, autocomplete would probably tell us things like “Why does the King Louis” suck? And, “Will France” collapse?



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Cost Of "Breakfast In America" Soars To Highest In Over 2 Years

Another day, another indication that 'real' inflation - the kind that reduces standards of living and leeches away purchasing power for 'real' people - is anything but under control... and anything but stable. With the Oz-ians in the Eccles Building pulling levers to run the world based on their "inflation" measures, it seems that if the price of 'things that matter' soars but the Fed doesn't see them, there is no need to tighten. Last week we discussed the surge in the price of beef, pork, eggs, and shrimp, but this week, as Bloomberg notes, the price of breakfast is soaring. Between droughts affecting coffee prices and insects spreading disease in Florida, the "breakfast beverage" index is at its highest in over 2 years.



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This Is "Why" Caterpillar Is Trading At Two-Year Highs

Moments ago CAT stock touched 52 week highs, or a level not seen since April 2012. Why? The chart below which shows Caterpillar dealer retail sales by region surely has something to do with it. With global sales sliding again now that the third consecutive dead cat bounce is over, and dumping the most since February of 2013 or 12% from a year ago, when sales had in turned dropped 11% from 2012, driven by a collapse in Asian-Pacific, Latin American and EMEA sales, all of which crashed by more than 20%, we can only assume the company is well on its way to an epic collapse in its top and bottom lines as well.



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Russia Warns West "Remove Forces"; Begins Military Exercise On Ukraine Border

UPDATE: Dutch fighter jets were scrambled after Russian bombers approached Dutch airspace; the Russian planes turned away

With both sides appearing to have entirely un-de-escalated and the truce deal now a thing of the past (besides a few hundred Dow points), the Russians are speaking up today - and are not happy:

RUSSIA IS EXTREMELY SURPRISED BY KIEV AND WASHINGTON'S "DISTORTED" INTERPRETATION OF AGREEMENT REACHED IN GENEVA LAST WEEK ON DE-ESCALATION OF UKRAINE CRISIS - FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS KIEV AND WASHINGTON "CLOSING THEIR EYES" TO PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS BY NATIONALIST FORCES IN UKRAINE

And, on the heels of Turchynov's official restart of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, Russia is calling on Ukraine to pull back military from Ukraine's southeast... and rattles its sabre by undertaking a military exercise on the border.



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Explaining The Horrendous Home Sales Report: It Snowed Everywhere But In The Northeast

This is our best attempt at playing clueless propaganda cheerleaders also known as economists:

Q. Why did new home sales crash in all regions except the traditionally coldest, wettest, and snowiest Northeast, where sales rose?

A. Uhm, because it obviously snowed everywhere except in the Northeast.

And there you have it: spin 101 for braindead zombies and vacuum tubes.



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New Home Sales Collapse To 8 Month Lows

New Home Sales collapsed 14.5% month-over-month to its lowest since July 2013. A mere 384k versus 450k expectations is the biggest miss since July. So much for the Spring buying season... This is a 7 standard deviation miss against the smart economists' estimates! Whocouldanode that when the free-money sponsored fast money leaves the game that real people with real debt and real wages are simply priced out of buying a new home? Supply of unsold new homes jumps to 6 months, its highest since Oct 2011 (as once again the visible hand's interference has produced yet another mal-investment boom as the 'if we build it, they will come' builders face an ugly reality).



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US PMI Drops, Misses By Most In 8 Months

That February spike that was the catalyst for oh so much aggressive JPY selling and US equity buying and "see, we told you so, here comes the post-weather pent-up-demand exuberance" has been crushed by the sad and painful truth of reality. For the 2nd month in a row, Markit's US PMI dropped and missed expectations... despite weather being a thing of the past. Sadly the story gets worse, as Markit notes "on the inflation front, manufacturers experienced a further solid increase in average cost burdens in April," adding that pricing pressures, "will feed fears that the recovery remains on a weak foundation of intense price competition." Need moar snow...



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Not So Fast: Allergan Adopts Poison Pill, Valeant CEO "Disappointed" - What Happens Next

Allergan on Tuesday night said that its board of directors had adopted a one-year stockholder rights plan to give it more time to consider takeover proposals. The Valeant offer was made with Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund, which built up a stake in the company. The chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which made a $47 billion unsolicited offer for competitor Allergan Inc. on Tuesday, said during an interview on CNBC that he was "disappointed" with Allergan's so-called poison pill. "We are disappointed but on the other hand, I think this deal will get done," Valeant CEO Michael Pearson said on Wednesday.



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