Production of cannabis in Afghanistan has increased again according to estimates that have been published for 2012 and the business is now worth $65 million a year
The chart below tells a story. Do you think the fiscal and monetary policies implemented by Bernanke and Obama since 2008 were designed to benefit you? If you believe in regression to the mean and a world based on reality, then you should be prepared for corporate profits to decline by 14% to 20% over the next four years. What do you think that will do to a stock market where the PE ratio is already at valuation levels of 1929, 2000, and 2007?
Why Are We Supporting Guys Who Want to Blow Us Up?
Sept. 11, 2013, marked the anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four U.S. diplomatic employees - including Ambassador Chris Stevens - dead. The anniversary saw new attacks in the eastern Libyan city, this one against a Libyan Foreign Ministry building (and this morning's awful attack in Afghanistan). The anniversary and recent attacks prompt a look at how the security situation in Benghazi has evolved over the past year, and at how the United States has tackled security issues worldwide since the consulate attack.
Two years after insurgents attacked the main U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in the heart of Kabul, killing at least nine people in a battle lasting several hours as attackers fired from a partially constructed building, and one year after the infamous Benghazi consulate attack which resulted in the deaths of Americans, overnight yet another attack was staged against US property in Afghanistan, this time the US consulate in Herat, western Afghanistan's main city, where detonated a powerful bomb outside the front gates and launching a gunbattle with security forces. At least three people were killed, however none of them Americans. The attack began at about 6 a.m. (0150 GMT). A Reuters witness said he saw flames in front of the compound rising from the wreckage of the vehicle and could hear the gunbattle as the attack unfolded.
Political analysts over the next year or so, and historians well into the future, are likely to point to the fall of 2013 as a fundamental inflection point in American politics. That period, they will say, is when the American people forced a major new direction in American foreign policy. Before the events of this fall, the country’s electorate largely delegated foreign policy to its political elite—and largely supported that elite as it projected American military power with more abandon than the country had ever before seen. Even as the government steadfastly expanded the range of international problems that it said required U.S. military action, the electorate accepted that expanded international role and that increasingly promiscuous use of force. Those days are gone now.
Vladimir Putin Addresses America In NYT Op-Ed; Calls For Caution In Syria, Denounces "American Exceptionalism"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2013 20:45 -0400
"If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.... No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored... The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders.... It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”
The definition of what makes an “enemy” may vary from person to person. But we would say that, generally, an enemy is one who has an active ability to do irreparable harm to you or your essential values. He is motivated by destruction, the destruction of all that you hold dear. He is capable and unrelenting. He is a legitimate threat. He will not compromise. He will not waver. He will do anything to wound you. He will not stop. He is possessed. Americans have spent the better part of a century being told who their enemies are with very little explanation or substantiation. We have blindly rallied around our patriotic prerogative without knowing the root cause of the conflict or the nature of the target we are told to annihilate. We have been suckered into war after war, conjured by international interests in order to lure us into accepting greater centralization and concentrated globalism. As a culture, we're sorry to say, we have been used. We are a tool of unmitigated doom. We are the loaded gun in the hand of the devil. When one applies the above definition of “the enemy” to Syria, one comes away with very little satisfaction. So, the question arises: If Syria is not the real enemy, who is?
UPDATE 2: French draft UN security council resolution would give Syria 15 days to make complete declaration of entire chemical arms program
UPDATE 1: NASDAQ Futures are fading the Obama "Pause" spike after AAPL is not announcing a China Mobile deal
Starting just 1 minute late, the President begab by unapologetically conjuring images of WWI and WWII and stuck to the line that "we know" Assad was responsible for killing his own people with Sarin. Then moved to fear-mongery over what Iran might do, adding that he was very much for strikes. But, in giving Congress the hot potato he knew decision would be difficult. The US military does not do 'pin pricks' and a "targeted" strike will send a message to Assad. While recognizing the need for a diplomatic solution, Obama made it clear that those efforts would follow a military strike. But then, after all the angry banter, he then backed down and said, will work for peaceful solution by putting the strike on hold and will bring a resolution to UN. Ending on a more aggressive note, he warned Republican and Democrat lawmakers to rethink their opposition to the strikes should they be needed.
In August 2012, when isolating one of the various reasons for the latest housing bubble, we suggested that a primary catalyst for the price surge in the ultra-luxury housing segment and the seemingly endless supply of "all cash" buyers (standing at an unprecedented 60% of all buyers lately as reported by Goldman) is a very simple one: crime. Or rather, the use of US real estate as a means to launder illegal offshore-procured money. We also identified the one key permissive feature which allowed this: the National Association of Realtors' exemption from Anti-Money Laundering provisions. In other words, all a foreign oligarch - who may or may not have used chemical weapons in their past: all depends on how recently they took their picture with the Secretary of State - had to do to buy a $47 million Florida house, was to get the actual cash to the US. Well good thing there are private jets whose cargo is never checked. It appears that a year later this too hypothesis has been proven. Earlier today the Post reported that "U.S. authorities announced Tuesday that they are seeking forfeiture of pricey Manhattan real estate linked to a fraud they say was uncovered by a whistleblowing Russian lawyer before he died behind bars. A civil forfeiture complaint filed against the assets of a Cyprus-based real estate corporation and other holding companies alleges that some of the proceeds from the $230 million tax fraud in Russia were laundered through the purchase of four luxury condominiums located in a Wall Street doorman building and two commercial spaces in prime locations in midtown and Chelsea."
Incredibly, the question being asked this past weekend throughout the US media had been: will Americans’ representatives in Congress vote to support the president’s wish to punish Bashar al-Assad (Syria, really!), or will their votes follow their constituents’ wishes at home against armed intervention? Asking this question seems embarrassingly obscene, to both morality and democracy, and most of us cringe at the thought of these pusillanimous representatives and senators we have in Congress making such a decision. Now a diplomatic solution is floating in the air which may be Russia’s greatest gift to both Obama – one of saving face – and the United States – an unquestionable saving of blood and treasure. Yes, let’s get Syria’s chemical weapons under international control... to hell with McCain and the demonic hawkish streak of politicians we harbor in the United States of America. Thank you, Russia… we love you back!
Two weeks ago, the Syrian regime reportedly ordered the use of chemical weapons, which U.S. sources state killed over 1400 people. Over one year ago, President Obama declared that any movement or use of chemical weapons would cross a “redline.” Right from the start, officials in the Obama White House assured the public that any decision to use force against Syria would not be designed to impose regime change. Why would the administration take such an option off the table? As strategists and policymakers have understood since time immemorial, any decision to use military force must be guided by a strategy. If Washington’s strategy is to stop Assad from using chemical weapons, demonstrate that America is committed to enforcing this international norm, and undermine states that support such atrocious actions, regime change remains the critical instrument for the United States. In fact, all other options are highly susceptible to failure. In the end, the failure to put the instrument of regime change on the table demonstrates a lack of resolve, commitment, or weakness—all of which will be interpreted by friend and foe alike as acquiescence in the face of states using chemical weapons.
Wednesday's 10-7 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee supporting an authorization of military attacks on Syria may have been affected by varying levels of financial support the senators got from political action committees representing the defense industry, and from the companies' employees. As The Daily Mail reports, on average, a 'yes'-voting senator received 83% more money from defense contractors than one who voted 'no.' Committee members who voted Wednesday to support the proposal collected an average of $72,850 in defense campaign financing between 2007 and 2012, Wired magazine reported, based on data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. Those who dissented in the committee vote averaged $39,770, with the four senators who received the least amount of defense dollars, ranging from $14,000 to $19,250, all voted no. At a Pentagon-estimated cost of around $5 billion per month (for a 2-month deployment) - and in light of our previous discussion on lobbying ROIs - is it any wonder?
As the U.S., led by the Obama Administration, moves towards yet another possible war in the Middle East, using covert terrorists as proxies and enacting violent policy based on dubious or non-existent evidence and far flung accusations, we realize that with all the blathering voices out there telling us what to think, what to do, what to fear, who to admire, who to worship, how to live, and what to aspire, perhaps it is time for each of us to solemnly question what we stand for, and what America is supposed to stand for? Really, think about it. What are we here for? What purpose do we serve in the grand scheme of things? What are our defining principles? Have we lost track of ourselves as Americans so completely that we cannot even explain in a reasonable fashion what kind of people we want to be, and what kind of world we want to live in?