US Gets Involved In Another Foreign Conflict, Will Support French Troops In Central African RepublicSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/09/2013 14:19 -0500
One of the underreported stories from last week, noted here previously, was that quietly, on the day in which French unemployment soared to a new 16 year high, French president Hollande did what every true Keynesian in his position would do and dispatched troops to the Central African Republic due to a "duty to intervene" and stop the "alarming, frightening massacres" taking place there. There were no YouTube clips available to justify said massacres yet: we assume they are being produced currently. A few days later the fighting has begun with Reuters reporting that French troops fought gunmen in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, on Monday as they searched for weapons in an operation to disarm rival Muslim and Christian fighters responsible for hundreds of killings since last week. Shooting erupted near the airport in the morning after gunmen refused to hand over their weapons, and French forces later came under attack by former rebels in the city centre. France said it was prepared to use force if fighters rejected calls to disarm or return to barracks. Paris boosted its military presence to 1,600 troops at the weekend as waves of religious violence swept its former colony.
You know that game involving word association at the psychotherapists? The one where you have to say the first word that springs to mind.
For the First Time In 50 Years, a Majority of Americans Think the U.S. Should “Mind Its Own Business”Submitted by George Washington on 12/04/2013 20:11 -0500
The American public finally catches up to Ron Paul ... and the Founding Fathers
Although Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Northeast Asia this week will likely focus on defusing tensions over China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), this is hardly the only issue plaguing the U.S. in Asia. In general, U.S. Asia policy during the second Obama administration has lacked focus as senior officials have been preoccupied with domestic and other international challenges. Moreover, a number of other issues suggest that the administration continues to give inadequate attention to the Asia-Pacific, and the results it is getting reflect this relative neglect.
- M&A Mystery: Why Are Takeover Prices Plummeting? (WSJ)
- Hedge-Fund Fight Club Traded Illegal Tips Not Punches (BBG)
- Speed Traders Meet Nightmare on Elm Street With Nanex (BBG)
- A new wave of U.S. mortgage trouble threatens (Reuters)
- Penny Lane: Gitmo's other secret CIA facility (AP)
- US hardens threat to leave Afghanistan with no troops (WSJ)
- Russian Prison Stuns Captain of Greenpeace’s Bombed Ship (BBG)
- ECB's Weidmann Warns Central Banks Might Be Too Dominated by Fiscal Concerns (WSJ)
- China Air Move Splits Japan as Carriers Obey New Rules (BBG)
- Inside the Breakup of the Pritzker Empire (WSJ)
After a year of talks over the post-2014 US military presence in Afghanistan, the US administration announced last week that a new agreement had finally been reached. Under the deal worked out with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the US would keep thousands of troops on nine military bases for at least the next ten years. In fact, much of the US government’s desire for an ongoing military presence in Afghanistan has to do with keeping money flowing to the military industrial complex. Addressing Afghan tribal elders last week, Karzai is reported to have expressed disappointment with US assistance thus far: “I demand tanks from them, and they give us pickup trucks, which I can get myself from Japan… I don’t trust the U.S., and the U.S. doesn’t trust me.” Let us hope that Karzai sticks to his game with Washington. Let the Obama administration have no choice but to walk away from this twelve-year nightmare. Then we can finally just march out.
- Wonder why: JPMorgan plans to keep pay roughly flat from last year (Reuters) - maybe this: Charles Schwab Warns "We Are In A Manipulated Market"
- Democrats overturn filibuster rule, increasing Obama’s power (FT)
- Day JFK Died We Traded Through Tears as NYSE Shut (BBG)
- When even dictators snub Obama - Afghanistan rejects U.S. call for quick security deal (Reuters)
- Obama Plunges in Investor Poll as Stocks Make New Highs (BBG)
- Iran, six powers struggle to overcome snags in nuclear talks (Reuters)
- Derision for China’s ‘rejuvenation index’ (FT)
- Bottom is in: Paulson Said to Inform Clients He Won’t Add More to Gold (BBG)
- German business sentiment rebounds strongly (WSJ)
- WTO on verge of global trade pact (FT)
- When it fails, do more of it - Bank of Japan hints at extending ultra-loose monetary policy (FT)
- PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves (BBG)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (Hilsenrath)
- Big trucks still rule Detroit in energy-conscious era (Reuters)
- Debt Limit Rise May Not Be Needed Until June, CBO Says (BBG)
- Some Insurance Regulators Turn Down White House Invitation (WSJ)
- Say Goodbye to the Car Salesman (WSJ)
- U.S. drone kills senior militant in Pakistani seminary (Reuters)
- French business sector contracts sharply (FT)
- How Germany's taxman used stolen data to squeeze Switzerland (Reuters)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (WSJ)
- France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief (Reuters)
Yet another chart that perfectly tracks the performance of the S&P (or Fed balance sheet). Guess what it shows...
While hardly as dramatic as ongoing revelations of Big NSA Brother probing every aspect of Americans' lives, overnight the WSJ reported that in addition to the complete loss of privacy - which should now be taken for granted - the CIA has been added to the list of entities that scrutinize every online interaction, and is "building a vast database of international money transfers, including Western Union, that includes millions of Americans' financial and personal data, officials familiar with the program say." The program will be (and is) carried out under the same provision of the Patriot Act that enables the National Security Agency to collect nearly all American phone records. In other words, instead of being upfront that all the CIA, and administration, care about is tracking large flows of money that may have "evaded" taxation, and is traditionally used by expats to send modest amounts of money back to their host countries, what the CIA is instead focusing on is whether mom and pop are using Western Union to deposit $500 in Al-Qaeda's account in Afghanistan.
October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 US invasion. Obama pledged to work together with Iraq to address al-Qaeda’s growing presence, but what was not said was that before the US attack there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A report by Bruce Bennett and the RAND Corporation has brought attention to one of the most important issues for international politics. Ironically, despite being a region of vital interest within American foreign policy, there has been very little public discussion of what to do in the event of government collapse in North Korea. Bennett’s timely report provides a series of vital contributions to the discussion and further outlines the lack of preparation in political, social, economic and military terms. Yet beyond the critical end game for the Korean peninsula are deeper questions concerning how any international force might respond. Specifically, how can the U.S. and Republic of Korea effectively mobilize regional powers with their differing security and development goals? Preparing for the unthinkable is not a simple moral imperative, but responsible leadership in the twenty-first century.
Having done a bang up job in Syria, where Obama nearly started world war III so Qatar could send its natgas to Europe at a lower price than Gazprom's, while alienating America's legacy allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and ensuring its enemies see it even weaker in the international arena following Obama's schooling by Putin, the US president continues to win friends abroad (while spying there, here and everywhere, namely the Pope) with the latest snafu coming from Pakistan, another former ally, where America just droned the leader of the Taliban fighters on Saturday, leaving his body "damaged but recognizable".
Recent surveys and research studies by sources from the UN to streetRx.com put the size of the illegal drug market in the U.S. at anywhere from $200 to $750 billion. The market is notoriously hard to track by design, and it is constantly evolving as prices and usage fluctuates; but as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, there’s a plethora of data on the topic: formal surveys by the CDC and user-submitted blog posted on websites like Hightimes.com trace price, usage, and traffic stats for marijuana, powder and crack cocaine, d-methamphetamine, and heroin. Legalized dispensaries now allow us to estimate potential tax revenue from marijuana sales, while incarceration rates for drug offenders reveal the economic impact of the illegal drug trade. In short, while the illegal drug market might be hard to track – if only by virtue of its illegality – Colas points out that we can learn a lot about its size and scope by aggregating these formal and informal data. Most surprising of them all: illicit drug use is no longer the realm of just the youth.