en What The Fed Giveth... <p><em>Authored by <a href="">720Global&#39;s Michael Lebowitz</a> via <a href="">,</a></em></p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The Fed Giveth</strong></span></h2> <p><strong>In December 2008, at the peak of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve (Fed) lowered the Federal Funds interest rate to zero. In taking this unprecedented step, many investment professionals assumed the Fed was out of bullets to stem the crisis. </strong></p> <p>Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke <strong>proved them wrong by introducing Quantitative Easing (QE).</strong> While the media lauded Bernanke for his creative ingenuity, the fact of the matter was that QE was already being employed in Japan on and off since 2001. Additionally, other versions of QE were used in the United States, most notably during the 1920&rsquo;s. They did not call that era the roaring 20&rsquo;s for nothing.</p> <p>QE is often referred to as money printing because the Fed conjures U.S. dollar currency from thin air which it then uses to purchase financial securities. In this day and age, the Fed does not physically &ldquo;print&rdquo; new money but effectively does so electronically with a series of 1&rsquo;s and 0&rsquo;s. Despite the seemingly magical way money is created for the &ldquo;benefit of all,&rdquo; critics of QE are not so enamored with this policy tool. Maybe they understand the long history of financial hardship that has befallen nations that relied heavily on it.</p> <p><strong>After nearly a decade since the Fed first administered it, the idea of reversing QE (balance sheet reduction or monetary policy normalization) has been raised by Fed officials and Wall Street pundits. </strong>The Fed&rsquo;s campaign to downplay QE and the risks of a bloated balance sheet has been effective as investors seem to have little interest in the matter. The post-crisis economy and financial markets are deeply conditioned to monetary largesse and excessive liquidity. Changes to these conditions, if they do indeed occur, will elicit &ldquo;adjustments&rdquo; likely in the form of severe volatility. Frequently, pivotal market events are not forecasted or appreciated until after the fact. The possibility that the Fed would embark upon a reversal of QE is one such event that will be disruptive to the artificial tranquility so enjoyed in the recent past. Despite widespread complacency, the increasing possibility of action is an important matter.</p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Barbie Dolls and Backhoes</strong></span></h2> <p>At the onset of QE, many bright economists were confident that money printing would lead to inflation. Since that time, these economists have been chastised by the media for their &ldquo;bad inflation call.&rdquo; In fact, Ben Bernanke recently took an opportunity to pile on. At a roundtable discussion in April 2016 with current Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, Bernanke stated &ldquo;<em>And many, if not all of the things people were afraid of, or some people were, I think informed people were not so afraid of, uh, were, obviously does not come to pass, <strong>I mean that&rsquo;s simply a fact</strong></em>.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Despite the ribbing from the media and Bernanke&rsquo;s certitude, the truth of the matter is that those expressing inflationary concerns in 2008 were 100% correct. The only problem is that they failed to predict <em>where</em> inflation would appear. They did not appreciate at the time that those products closest to the monetary firehose would inflate.</strong></p> <p>Had the Fed literally dropped $3 trillion out of helicopters, there would have likely been a sharp increase in demand for many goods and general inflation would have risen. Conversely, if they focused $3 trillion on infrastructure projects, inflation would have shown up in construction worker wages, building supplies, and large machinery. <strong>Consider what might happen if the Federal Reserve gave every seven-year-old girl $20,000.</strong> QE focused on little girls would have resulted in soaring Barbie Doll prices. Instead, the Fed&rsquo;s spigot was aimed at the large primary dealers and the financial markets. They opted to purchase previously issued U.S. Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from Primary Dealers. In taking this tack, they did not give the money to little girls, construction workers or to you and me, but instead gave it to the nation&rsquo;s largest banks and brokers and the financial markets in which they operate.</p> <p>This surge of liquidity provided primary banks and Wall Street brokers the means to create new loans and leverage new and existing investments. In the Fed&rsquo;s mind, this was critical as many markets in late 2008 and early 2009 were seizing up and in dire need of liquidity. Liquidity from QE started flowing through the markets and at first to the benefit of the most liquid securities<strong>. Over time, however, as fear receded, most asset classes started inflating, even those deeply distressed products that were the scapegoats for the crisis.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21723" src="" style="width: 601px; height: 358px;" /></a></p> <p><em>Data Courtesy: Federal Reserve and Bloomberg</em></p> <p><strong>The graph above shows the tight correlation between increases in the Fed&rsquo;s balance sheet and stock market gains. </strong>The sustainability of the initial rally from the March 2009 lows was very much in question in both 2010 and 2011 when QE I and II ended respectively. Fortunately for investors in both instances, rumors of a new round of QE quickly became fact. Except for the recent &ldquo;Trump Bump,&rdquo; a rally based on optimism over Donald Trump&rsquo;s economic initiatives, the market flat-lined for the better part of the post QE3 period. Since QE was first introduced, the S&amp;P 500 has gained 1,546 points. All but 355 points were achieved during periods of QE. Of those remaining 355 points, over 80% occurred after Trump&rsquo;s victory.</p> <p><strong>Inflation from QE has shown up in spades, just not in ways commonly associated with the price level of goods and services.</strong>&nbsp; <strong>It <em>is</em> occurring in investable financial assets as a direct result of QE.&nbsp; </strong></p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The Fed Taketh</strong></span></h2> <ul> <li> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p><span style="color: #993300;">1/12/2017 &ldquo;<em>When we (Fed Funds) are at or above 100 basis points &ndash; and we are moving toward that &ndash; I think it is time to start serious consideration of first stopping reinvestment and then over a period of time unwinding the balance sheet</em>.&rdquo; <strong>Patrick Harker- Federal Reserve President Philadelphia </strong></span></p> </blockquote> </li> <li> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p><span style="color: #993300;">4/05/2017<em> &ldquo;Provided that the economy continued to perform about as expected, most participants anticipated that gradual increases in the federal funds rate would continue and judged that a change to the Committee&rsquo;s reinvestment policy would likely be appropriate later this year.&rdquo; </em></span><strong><span style="color: #993300;">Federal Reserve FOMC meeting minutes</span> </strong></p> </blockquote> </li> </ul> <p>Based on the quotes above, serious discussions of balance sheet normalization within the Fed have begun. The Fed has raised the Federal Funds interest rate three times since December 2015 and is currently trying to convince the market they will be more aggressive going forward. As the Fed tracks further down the interest rate normalization path, debate over normalizing their balance sheet should increase exponentially. Given that money printing spurred investment leverage and generated financial asset inflation, what are the implications of a reduction in that source of liquidity? What is the risk to asset prices that have been artificially supported for several years by a severely bloated Fed balance sheet?</p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Summary</strong></span></h2> <p>Frequently, the leaders of the Federal Reserve use economic jargon and big words to make their points. When one takes the time to dissect their messages surrounding QE, one is left with numerous contradictions, faulty logic, and often confusion. While the media and most investors take the bait offered by the Fed, the Fed&rsquo;s logic needs to be questioned. Does it make sense and is it even coherent? <strong>If QE is such a good thing, as professed by Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke and most other Federal Reserve Presidents why would they want to remove it? In fact, why not do more of it? </strong>720Global will have more to say on that topic in future articles, but keep in mind that there is a reason they are hesitant to do more QE and it is deeply troubling.</p> <p><strong>Markets do not wait for events to occur. </strong>They are voting machines and constant price changes are reflective of probability changes of certain events coming to pass. We suspect that over the course of the year, the cry for policy normalization will grow louder, especially if the growth and reflation impulses show life. As it does, investors are more likely to voice concern and take appropriate action. At prior times in history, such a repricing has occurred swiftly and with vicious force, while at other times it has manifested subtly over time. Without regard for how it might happen next, it is important to keep in mind that with asset prices perched in historically high territory well above their fundamentals, investors should remain aware that QE was far and away the biggest influence driving asset price appreciation (inflation) for the last eight years.</p> <p><strong>The Fed giveth and the Fed will eventually be forced to taketh away. </strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="662" height="351" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Alan Greenspan Ben Bernanke Ben Bernanke Ben Bernanke Business Donald Trump Economy Federal Open Market Committee Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System Fellows of the Econometric Society Finance Financial markets Guggenheim Fellows Janet Yellen Janet Yellen Japan Monetary Policy Monetary policy Money Paul Volcker Quantitative Easing Quantitative easing S&P 500 U.S. Treasury US Federal Reserve Volatility Thu, 29 Jun 2017 09:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598809 at Cranfield: "This Was A Watershed Week For The Euro: Beware Of Getting Steamrolled" <p>After three days of fireworks for the Euro, when it first surged on Draghi's hawkish comments, then tumbled on the ECB's "clarification" to Bloomberg that the market had overreacted to Draghi, then continued to surge after Draghi himself did little to dissuade the market it was wrong, the common currency is now trading at above 1.14, or 1.1425 to be precise...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="281" /></a></p> <p>... the highest level in one year, and on a relentless push higher, as the dollar tumbles, because as Sean Callow, currency strategist at Westpac says, “it will take more than anonymous ECB sources to cool the desire to bet on the euro and dump the dollar,” and adds “<strong>many investors are tantalized by the prospect of key quarterly meetings in September producing no move from the Fed but a plan to wind down quantitative easing at the ECB.</strong>”</p> <p>But how did we get here so fast, just a few months after virtually every sellside desk expected parity with the USD, and what's next? Here are some thoughts from the latest "Macro View" by Mark Cranfield, former .FX trader who currently writes for Bloomberg.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>Euro Is Dancing the Macron, Draghi Two Step: </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This week could be seen as a watershed for the euro, the week when all the stars align to set up a powerful run in the second half of the year.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ECB President Mario Draghi is acknowledging reflationary forces as investors are getting comfortable with improving European economic and political fundamentals. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tectonic plates are shifting in favor of the euro, even if some ECB members are saying that markets are jumping to the wrong conclusions. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the beginning of 2017, <strong>research notes were being circulated with scary maps of the European electoral earthquakes ahead, starting with the Netherlands in March. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was going to be a roller-coaster year. The rise of populism had been given a steroid boost after the U.S. presidential election and European nations were poised to follow by electing their own version of Donald Trump. The old order was going to be toppled, even Angela Merkel seemed vulnerable. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Not quite, as it’s turning out. </strong>Even the threat of a destabilizing Italian vote seems to be evaporating. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Trump effect isn’t coming through, and the new order is being led by a staunch European supporter called Emmanuel Macron. European politics is going from zero to hero. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What a contrast with the developments across the Atlantic. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Looking at a long-term picture of euro-dollar, one can see the potential for a major breakout as bullish momentum builds up. The pair has essentially been in a range between 1.05 and 1.15 for the past two and a half years after the huge collapse in 2014-2015. If it does break the top side it probably won’t be quietly. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When the world’s number two reserve currency gets rolling, <strong>it’s probably best to get on board or run the risk of being steamrollered.</strong></p> </blockquote> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1400" height="787" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Currency Donald Trump Draghi ECB Economy Economy of the European Union Euro Eurogroup European Union Eurozone Group of Thirty Mario Draghi Netherlands Quantitative Easing Quantitative easing Reserve Currency US Federal Reserve Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:59:55 +0000 Tyler Durden 598884 at NSA-Linked Hackers Raise Price Of Monthly Subscription to $61,000 After Tuesday's Cyberattack <p>In the wake of Tuesday&rsquo;s massive global ransomware attack, the hacker group called the Shadow Brokers is again trying to capitalize on its reputation as a source of leaked NSA hacking exploits, saying it will up the price of a subscription service launched earlier this month, while also introducing a new &ldquo;premium&rdquo; feature.</p> <p>The group introduced a monthly subscription service following last month&rsquo;s WannaCry attack, after initially trying to sell its entire cache of NSA-funded cyberweapons for a staggering one million bitcoin (worth $2.5 billion at current prices). Both WannaCry<a href=""> and Tuesday&rsquo;s attack,</a> <strong>which has been blamed on the &ldquo;Goldeneye&rdquo; strain of the &ldquo;Petya&rdquo; ransomware,</strong> were aided by exploits that the Shadowbrokers allegedly stole from an NSA special-ops crew called &ldquo;the Equation Group.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="uk">????? ????????? ????????? ????? ?? ???????? ?????, ?????, ??????? <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; ?????????? ?????? (@ukrpravda_news) <a href="">June 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Now, the Shadowbrokers are marketing their wares not only at hackers, but at corporations who&rsquo;d like to buy insurance against being hacked.</strong></p> <p>Here&rsquo;s the Shadowbrokers, in their characteristic broken English, <a href="">as reported by The Hill.</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&quot;Another global cyber attack is fitting end for first month of theshadowbrokers dump service. There is much theshadowbrokers can be saying about this but what is point and having not already being said? So to business! Time is still being left to make subscribe and getting June dump. Don&rsquo;t be let company fall victim to next cyber attack, maybe losing big bonus or maybe price on stock options be going down after attack. June dump service is being great success for theshadowbrokers, many many subscribers, so in July theshadowbrokers is raising price,&quot; the ShadowBrokers wrote in an online message released early Wednesday.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The Shadowbrokers launched <strong>its monthly subscription document leaks service this month at a price of $27,000 a month in digital currency. Their new release more than doubles the price to $61,000.&nbsp; The group also announced a new premium service allowing customers to make requests for assistance or specific document releases.</strong></p> <p>The group has been active since August 2016, when it began leaking hacking tools that were allegedly developed by the NSA. It has also leaked documents appearing to show the NSA hacked a Middle Eastern banking services company to try and get at the company&rsquo;s clients, <a href="">according to the Hill.</a></p> <p>One of the exploits released by the group back in April, known as EternalBlue, was instrumental in aiding last month&rsquo;s WannaCry cyberattack. <strong>Both WannaCry and another NSA exploit were allegedly intrumental in Tuesday&#39;s attack. </strong></p> <p>The group also publicly released a password to what Edward Snowden called the NSA&rsquo;s &ldquo;top-secret arsenal of digital weapons.&rdquo; Back in April, the group released passwords to hacking tool binaries developed by the NSA in 2013 as <a href="">a &ldquo;protest&rdquo; against President Donald Trump,</a> whom they accused of betraying his base by launching a missile strike against a Syrian government airfield and for backing away from his commitment to combating globalism. &nbsp;</p> <p>The first reports of organizations being hit by Tuesday&rsquo;s attack were from Russia and Ukraine, but the impact quickly spread westwards to computers in Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Britain. Companies affected included German pharmaceutical company Merck, Russia&#39;s Rosneft and metals giant Evraz, Danish shipper Maersk, UK ad company WPP, and both the Ukrainian and Russian central banks.<strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Already, Ukrainian government officials are blaming the attack on a Russian entity &ndash; likely government-sponsored &ndash; claiming that the virus&rsquo;s code was written in Russian, ignoring the fact that Russian firms were also attacked, and mirroring the laughable conclusion that the North Korean government was somehow responsible for the original WannaCry attack.</strong></p> <p>With two global attacks unfolding in the span of two months, it&rsquo;s incredible that the public &ndash; not to mention investors &ndash; aren&rsquo;t more worried. How long until these attacks become a weekly, or even daily, occurrence. And more importantly, how long until they begin to seriously disrupt the functioning of private infrastructure.</p> <p>At least one former NSA employee chimed in with his two cents about the agency&rsquo;s role in making these attacks possible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">How many times does <a href="">@NSAGov</a>&#39;s development of digital weapons have to result in harm to civil infrastructure before there is accountability? <a href=""></a></p> <p>&mdash; Edward Snowden (@Snowden) <a href="">June 27, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nobody has been able to say for certain who or what the Shadowbrokers are. <strong>But at least one famed NSA whistleblower has a theory:</strong></p> <p><a href="">William Binney</a> - who exposed the NSA&#39;s pervasive surveillance of Americans long before Snowden confirmed it - said he and his colleagues are fairly certain the Shadowbrokers aren&#39;t really a group of rogue actors, <em><strong>but rather an insider employee at NSA.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="857" height="518" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bitcoin Business Central Banks Computing Cyberattacks Cybercrime Cyberwarfare Donald Trump Edward Snowden Equation Group Hacker groups Mass surveillance National Security Agency Netherlands North Korean government Norway Politics Ransomware Romania Syrian government The Shadow Brokers Twitter Twitter Ukraine Ukrainian government WannaCry ransomware attack Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598853 at Saudi Arabia’s March Towards Civil War <p>Via <a href="" target="_blank">Disobedient Media</a></p> <p>Has Saudi Arabia's brinkmanship and heavy-handed policies of intervention in the Middle East come back to haunt the desert kingdom?</p> <p>After decades of playing the role of middle man between foreign states and establishing itself as a regional power, Saudi Arabia's policies of meddling in the affairs of neighbor states and support for terror appear to have finally exacerbated issues in the country which could threaten to plunge it into chaos. Growing anger over attempted austerity cutbacks, economic issues due to the fluctuating price of oil and tell tale signs of royal disagreement over the successor to King&nbsp;Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud mean that Saudi adventures abroad are preparing a perfect storm for civil conflict which could lead to further instability in the Middle East. The disruption comes as other states such as Iran and Turkey are positioning themselves as potential competitors to the de facto leader of the Arab world.</p> <p><strong>I. Saudi Arabia Is Experiencing Increasing Signs Of Instability</strong></p> <p>Saudi Arabia has experienced a number of issues which contribute to internal destabilization. In April 2017, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Bloomberg</a> reported that King Salman was forced to restore bonuses and allowances for state employees, reversing attempts to reform Saudi Arabia's generous austerity programs. The Saudi government insisted that the move was due to "higher than expected revenue" despite the fact that observers were noting in March that Saudi Arabia's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">foreign reserves were plunging</a>&nbsp;as one third of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of United Arab Emirates,&nbsp;Bahrain,&nbsp;Saudi Arabia,&nbsp;Oman,&nbsp;Qatar&nbsp;and&nbsp;Kuwait have seen their credit ratings slashed and have increasingly disagreed on common foreign policy towards Iran.</p> <p>The kingdom's increasing financial problems are due in part to the falling price of oil. In January 2016, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Independent</a>&nbsp;noted that the dropping value of oil would put Saudi Arabia's man spending programs in jeopardy and that a third of&nbsp;15 to 24-year-olds in the country are out of work. The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering</a>&nbsp;estimates that Saudi Arabia will experience a peak in its oil production by 2028, but this may be an incredible underestimation. The&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Middle East Eye</a>&nbsp;has noted that experts in the United States who state that Saudi Arabia's net oil exports began to decrease in 2006, continuing to drop annually by 1.4% each year from 2005 to 2015. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Citigroup</a> has estimated that the Kingdom may run out of oil to export entirely by 2030. The end of the Kingdom's cash cow is likely to cause problems in a nation that&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Atlantic</a>&nbsp;has accused of running itself like a "sophisticated criminal enterprise."</p> <p><strong>II. Increasing Signs Of Internal Conflict In Saudi Arabia</strong></p> <p>There are a number of indications that Saudi Arabia's royal family is also experiencing a significant amount of internal strife. King Salman has caused significant upheaval in the kingdom by taking the controversial step of totally overhauling Saudi Arabia's line of succession and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">appointing his son</a>,&nbsp;Mohammed bin Salman, as crown prince. The move is a dangerous one given that it has caused division in the royal family. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Foreign Policy</a> has noted that Saudi Arabia's security forces are not under a single command authority, meaning that the military runs the risk of becoming fractured in the event of an internal conflict.</p> <p>In 2015, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Independent</a> spoke with a Saudi prince who revealed that eight of Salman's 11 brothers were dissatisfied with his leadership and were contemplating removing him from office, replacing him with former Interior Minister&nbsp;Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NBC News</a>&nbsp;revealed that the promotion of Salman's son to the position of crown prince has also angered&nbsp;Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who was previously in line for the throne and is known for his hardline stance towards Iran. On June 28th, 2017, the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Times</a> reported that Nayef had been barred from leaving Saudi Arabia and was confined to his palace in Jidda with his guards replaced by others loyal to&nbsp;Mohammed bin Salman.</p> <p>Nayef rules over Saudi Arabia's Eastern Region, which is described as one of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">provinces most likely to rebel in the event of civil conflict</a> due to the region's large population of Shi'a Muslims. He is generally&nbsp;believed to be one of the leading advocates for the 2016 execution of Shi'a cleric&nbsp;Nimr al-Nimr, a move which caused serious anger amongst Iranians. Nayef's family also has historic ties to insurgent groups used by Saudi Arabia as a foreign policy tool. His father,&nbsp;Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, <a href=";lpg=PP1&amp;pg=PA154#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false" target="_blank" rel="noopener">served as Interior Minister</a> and controlled Saudi Arabia's internal intelligence services, police, special forces, drug enforcement agency and mujahideen forces.</p> <p>King Salman has used the war in Yemen to counteract elite dissatisfaction by causing what the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Washington Post</a> describes as a surge in nationalist sentiment among citizens. The move also served as an attempt to take proactive steps against Iranian support for Yemeni Houthi rebels and prevent destabilization from the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Arab Spring</a>. But while intervention may have provided Saudi Arabia with short term benefits, it has also contributed to further fracturing of the Middle East and allowed neighbor states to take steps to replace Saudi Arabia as the region's dominant power.</p> <p><strong>III. Geopolitical Changes Increase The Likelihood Of Conflict</strong></p> <p>It is not merely Yemen that causes the Saudis concern. Years of meddling now mean that the kingdom is increasingly conducting its foreign affairs with the goal of avoiding internal destabilization and balancing a regional house of cards.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wikileaks</a> releases of diplomatic cables from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs show that officials are committed to continuing to destroy the Syrian regime out of fear that Assad's government might engage in reprisals for the destructive civil war there. Saudi Arabia has helped fuel the war through their support of Islamic terror groups. State Department cables released by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wikileaks</a> show that Saudi Arabia is considered to be the most significant funder of Sunni terror groups internationally. But like foreign intervention, terrorism as a foreign policy tool serves as a means of directing destructive energy at best.</p> <p>There have long been fears that the method could grow out of hand and create problems for the benefactors of terror.&nbsp;Saudi security forces have routinely had issues with infiltration by terror groups. In 2001, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Stratfor</a> noted the royal family's growing concern over the increase in terror sympathizers amongst the military due to fears that some of the insurgent groups were not friendly towards the kingdom. Terror groups such as ISIS have in the past several years engaged in a number of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">attacks</a> against Saudi targets, including <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">suicide attacks</a> which targeted the holy Islamic city of Medina and the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Grand Mosque</a> in Mecca.</p> <p>Traditionally, power in the Middle East has been split between the Israeli and Saudi governments. This regional order may be starting to shift however, due to a combination of changing U.S. strategy and attempts by other Middle Eastern states to become more important players in the region. In March 2016, Julian Assange noted to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New Internationalist</a>&nbsp;that U.S. strategists such as John Brennan increasingly viewed the Israeli-Saudi nexus as getting in the way of broader American strategic interests, especially in regards to Iran.</p> <p>This political shift is now playing out with the current crisis in Qatar. Qatar has historically positioned itself as a diplomatic center in the Middle East, staying friendly with Iran and providing multiple insurgent groups such as the Taliban with a venue for negotiation.&nbsp;Emails from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">John Podesta</a> reveal that Qatar has supported terror groups such as ISIS alongside Saudi Arabia, but does so with the intent of vying for influence with terror groups. Factions in Qatar have also leant support to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Al-Qaeda</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Al-Nusra</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hamas</a> and the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Taliban</a>. Additionally, Qatar's Al-Jazeera outlet has also provoked Saudi Arabia by providing hard hitting coverage of previously unacknowledged issues in the Middle East (though critical coverage of Qatari politics has been off limits). <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NPR</a>&nbsp;has also noted that Qatar openly competed with Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring, when the two sides supported opposing factions in nations such as Egypt. The conflict with Qatar creates a very real risk that hostilities could spill into Saudi Arabia, given both sides' support of terror groups.</p> <p>The recent flare up has also revealed the emergence of a new order in the Middle East: states which stand behind the old, Saudi-Israeli nexus and those who wish to redraw the balance of power. Saudi Arabia is supported by&nbsp;Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen and the Maldives. Qatar has been supported by Saudi Arabia's regional opponent Iran and Turkey.&nbsp;Turkey has been steadily increasing it's role in the Middle East in recent years, and is seen by the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">United States</a> as a suitable player to balance Saudi influence in nations like Pakistan. Turkey and Iran now are now actively posturing to challenge Saudi Arabia, as Turkey deploys <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">troops</a> to Qatar and Iran supports the small gulf state with <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">food aid</a>. Should the two states survive the destabilization of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">coups</a> and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">terrorism</a>, they are well&nbsp;positioned to benefit from any future reduction in Saudi influence.</p> <p><strong>IV. Dangers Of A Saudi Civil Conflict</strong></p> <p>A civil war or internal conflict in Saudi Arabia would quickly become international in nature. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Defense contractors</a> are being increasingly courted by Saudi cash as part of an effort to overhaul the military, part of which includes the recent <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$100 billion arms deal</a> with the United States. Saudi Arabia has also increasingly used private military corporations such as <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Blackwater</a>, which currently provides personnel to the Saudi-lead coalition in Yemen.</p> <p>The specter of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East also raises concerns that weapons could fall into the wrong hands or be used indiscriminately. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Julian Assange</a>&nbsp;has repeated 2010 claims from the head of Al-Jazeera that Qatar is in possession of a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia itself also is suspected of possessing nuclear arms. In 2013, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">BBC News</a> reported that Saudi Arabia had nuclear weapons "on order" from Pakistan, whose nuclear program was bankrolled by the Saudis. In 2012, the Saudis also entered into an <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Atomic Collaboration Deal</a> with China which projects that Riyadh will construct 16 nuclear reactors in the country by no later than 2030. Arab acquisitions of weapons of mass destruction have created concern among <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Israeli intelligence officials</a>, who fear that the countries acquiring these weapons systems will not use them effectively.</p> <p>Should the conflict with Qatar (or any of the multiple regions where Saudi Arabia has intervened) spiral out of control, the potential proliferation of nuclear arms systems pose a serious danger. International conflicts, regional interventions and terror operations all create the risk that these weapons, whether intentionally or inadvertently, might be used. A Saudi civil war also creates risk for the international community, as there would be widespread unrest should the holy cities of Mecca and Medina be damaged during a conflict.</p> <p>Falling currency reserves, a dwindling supply of oil, conflict within the royal family and the ever present threat that terror networks will cause backlash for their benefactors all indicate that Saudi Arabia is on a crash course for a crisis. With the Qatari conflict continuing to heat up, the real questions should not be about the potential end of terrorism or the ethics of further weapons sales to Arab nations, but what the world hopes that the Middle East will look like once the dust clears.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-blog"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_blog" width="1172" height="659" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> al-Qaeda Asia Assad's government China Citigroup Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Department of State Foreign relations of Saudi Arabia Fracturing Government Gulf Cooperation Council Hamas House of Saud Iran Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict Iran–Saudi Arabia relations Islam Israeli intelligence Kings of Saudi Arabia Kuwait Middle East Middle East Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud Monarchy Muhammad bin Nayef NBC New York Times Nimr al-Nimr Politics ratings Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia's Ministry Saudi government Shia–Sunni relations Taliban Turkey War Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:30:00 +0000 William Craddick 598883 at Filipinos May Soon Be Jailed For Not Singing The National Anthem Enthusiastically <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Josie Wales via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>New <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">legislation</a> that would make enthusiastic singing of the national anthem mandatory in the Philippines</strong><a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank"> has been approved</a> by the Philippine House of Representatives.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="311" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>The act, known as the &ldquo;Revised Flag and Heraldic Code&rdquo; is a revision of an existing bill that will require all persons to stand, salute, and sing when the national anthem is played at a public event.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong><em>&ldquo;The singing shall be mandatory and done with fervor,</em>&rdquo; it states.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The legislation provides the <strong>official lyrics</strong> and music for the Lupang Hinirang, <strong>specifies a tempo of 100-120 beats per minute</strong>, and demands a <strong>proper salute</strong> from the first note of the song to the last.</p> <p>Also outlined are a number of other strict guidelines regarding <strong>flag code, the national motto, and the display of other emblems.</strong> In addition, the school system is required to make memorization of the anthem <strong>compulsory for all students.</strong></p> <p>Those who violate any of the rules or regulations outlined in the act will be <strong>issued a warning before being publicly shamed in a &ldquo;newspaper of general circulation,&rdquo;</strong> and it will be left to the discretion of the court to impose either a fine of 50,000-100,000 pesos ($2,800-$5,590) or no more than one year in prison &mdash; or both.</p> <p><u><strong>The bill stipulates that both fine and imprisonment will be mandatory for repeat offenders.</strong></u></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>&ldquo;Any act which casts contempt, dishonour or ridicule upon the national anthem shall be penalized,&rdquo; </em>the bill says.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>&ldquo;The national anthem embodies and expresses the aspirations, dreams, ideals, longings, commitment and determination, nationalism and patriotism, sentiment and spirit of the people,&rdquo; </em>said Maximo Rodriguez Jr., one of the authors of the bill.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The legislation has been sent to the Philippine Senate for approval.</strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="717" height="372" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Culture Entertainment Flag Act Lupang Hinirang National anthem National symbols of the Philippines Nationalism Nationalism Newspaper Philippine House of Representatives Philippine Senate Salute The Star-Spangled Banner UN Court Vocal music Thu, 29 Jun 2017 07:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598880 at Ransomware Still Only Makes Up Small Share Of Growing Malware Threat <p><strong>One type of malware has captured the attention of the world.</strong> Recent ransomware attacks show the devastating effects it can have on business and infrastructure. </p> <p>After a worldwide attack with a cryptoworm called "WannaCry" in May, another attack with a strain of ransomware called "Petya" started on Tuesday and kept on spreading around the world on Wednesday.</p> <p><a href=""><em>As Statista's Dyfed Loesche notes</em></a>, <strong>malware has come a long way in the last ten years,</strong> as the infographic below shows. </p> <p><a href="" title="Infographic: Ransomware Makes up Small Share of Growing Malware Threat | Statista"><img src="" alt="Infographic: Ransomware Makes up Small Share of Growing Malware Threat | Statista" width="600" height="428" /></a> </p> <p><em>You will find more statistics at <a href="">Statista</a></em></p> <p>According to analysts with IT-security software firm&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">G Data</a>, the number of new malware specimen is likely to reach more than 7.4 million this year alone.<strong> Albeit this number seems to spell bad news only, the data also indicates that the malware growth rate is slowing</strong>. </p> <p>It is also important to note that according to data provided by IT-security institute&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">AV-Test</a>, <strong>ransomware (such as "WannaCry" and "Petya") only makes up a very small share of all malware detected worldwide</strong>. </p> <p>However, this just goes to show that the number of specimen of a certain kind of malware does not reflect its actual potential for damage.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="731" height="463" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Cyberattacks Cybercrime Cyberwarfare EternalRocks worm Malware Ransomware Technology WannaCry ransomware attack Thu, 29 Jun 2017 07:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598879 at "It Is The Presstitutes, Not Russia, Who Interfered In The US Presidential Election" <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Unlike Oliver Stone, who knew how to interview Vladimir Putin, Megyn Kelly did not. Thus, she made a fool of herself, which is par for her course.</strong></p> <p>Now the entire Western media has joined Megyn in foolishness, <a href="">or so it appears from a RT report</a>. James O&rsquo;Keefe has senior CNN producer John Bonifield on video telling O&rsquo;Keefe that CNN&rsquo;s anti-Russia reporting is purely for ratings:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s mostly bullshit right now. Like, we don&rsquo;t have any big giant proof.&rdquo; </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>CNN&rsquo;s Bonifield is reported to go on to say that &ldquo;our CIA is doing shit all the time, we&rsquo;re out there trying to manipulate governments.&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"> </a></p> </blockquote> <p>And, of course, the American people, the European peoples, and the US and European governments are<strong> being conditioned by the &ldquo;Russia did it&rdquo; storyline to distrust Russia and to accept whatever dangerous and irresponsible policy toward Russia that Washington comes up with next.</strong></p> <p><em>Is the anti-Russian propaganda driven by ratings as Bonifield is reported to claim, or are ratings the neoconservatives and military/security complex&rsquo;s cover for media disinformation that increases tensions between the superpowers and prepares the ground for nuclear war?</em></p> <p>RT acknowledges that the entire story could be just another piece of false news, which is all that the Western media is known for.</p> <p>Nevertheless, what we do know is that the fake news reporting pertains to Russia&rsquo;s alleged interference in the US presidential election.<strong> Allegedly, Trump was elected by Putin&rsquo;s interference in the election. This claim is absurd,</strong> but if you are Megyn Kelly you lack the IQ to see that. Instead, presstitutes turn a nonsense story into a real story despite the absence of any evidence.</p> <p><em><u><strong>Who actually interfered in the US presidential election, Putin or the presstitutes themselves? The answer is clear and obvious. It was the presstitutes, who were out to get Trump from day one of the presidential campaign.</strong></u></em> It is CIA director John Brennan, who did everything in his power to brand Trump some sort of Russian agent. It is FBI director Comey who did likewise by continuing to &ldquo;investigate&rdquo; what he knew was a non-event. We now have a former FBI director playing the role of special prosecutor investigating Trump for &ldquo;obstruction of justice&rdquo; when there is no evidence of a crime to be obstructed! What we are witnessing is the ongoing interference in the presidential election, an interference that not only makes a mockery of democracy but also of the rule of law.</p> <p><strong>The presstitutes not only interfered in the presidential election; they are now interfering with democracy itself. </strong>They are seeking to overturn the people&rsquo;s choice by discrediting the President of the United States and those who elected him. The Democratic Party is a part of this attack on American democracy. It is the DNC that insists that a Putin/Trump conspiracy stole the presidency from Hillary. The Democrats&rsquo; position is that it is too risky to permit the American people&mdash;the &ldquo;deplorables&rdquo;&mdash; to vote. The Democratic Party&rsquo;s line is that if you let Americans vote, they will elect a Putin stooge and America will be ruled by Russia.</p> <p>Many wonder why Trump doesn&rsquo;t use the power of the office of the presidency to indict the hit squad that is out to get him. There is no doubt that a jury of deplorables would indict Brennan, Comey, Megyn Kelly and the rest. On the other hand, perhaps Trump&rsquo;s view is that the Republican Party cannot afford to go down with him, and, therefore, as he is politically protected by the Republican majority,<strong> the best strategy is to let the Democrats and the presstitutes destroy themselves in the eyes of flyover America.</strong></p> <p><strong>What our survival as Americans depends on is the Russians&rsquo; view of this conflict between a US President who intended to reduce the tensions between the nuclear powers and those determined to increase the tensions.</strong> The Russian high command has already announced its conclusion that Washington is preparing a surprise nuclear attack on Russia. It is not possible to imagine a more dangerous conclusion. So far, no one in Washington or any Western government has made an effort to reassure Russia that no such attack is being prepared. Instead, the calls are for more punishment of Russia and more tension.</p> <p>This most extraordinary of failures demonstrates the complete separation of the West from reality.</p> <p><em><strong>It is difficult to imagine a more extreme danger than for the insouciant West to convince Russia that the West is incapable of rational behavior. </strong></em></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 329px;" /></a></p> <p><em><strong>But that is precisely what the West is doing.</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="755" height="414" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> American people of German descent Central Intelligence Agency Democratic Party Donald Trump Fake news FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur James Comey Keefe Mass media Megyn Kelly Politics ratings Reality Republican Party RT Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Television United States Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin Western government Thu, 29 Jun 2017 06:15:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598876 at America's First Robot Bar Opens In Vegas: "Perfect Pours Every Time" <p>Here&rsquo;s a headline that should send a chill through the spine of every bartender and server in America: <em><strong><a href="">&ldquo;Bionic bartenders deployed at Las Vegas Strip bar.&rdquo;</a></strong></em></p> <p>As <a href="">we reported last week, </a>Cowen analyst Andrew Charles calculated that McDonald&rsquo;s &ldquo;Experience of the Future&rdquo; strategy&nbsp; could allow it to replace 2,500 cashiers with &ldquo;Big Mac ATMs&rdquo; by the end of 2017 &ndash; and another 3,000 in 2018.</p> <p>Now, in a hint of what&rsquo;s to come for the nightlife industry, the Las Vegas Sun reports that the a bar relying solely on robot bartenders &ndash; the first of its kind in the US - will open on Friday.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><a href="">Here&rsquo;s the Sun:</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Tipsy Robot, a 2,500-square-foot bar to open Friday at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, boasts two robotic bartenders ready to make your favorite concoction any way you like.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The bar is being run by Rino Armeni, the chairman of a company called Robotic Innovations, who said he decided to open the first robot bar in Las Vegas to give the city a leg up on other nightlife hubs like New York City and Miami.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s how it works:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em>&ldquo;Customers place their order on one of the dozen tablet stations in the bar or through the Tipsy Robot app on their smartphone.</em> <em>They then pay with cash or credit card and enter their email address.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>A QR code (barcode) is sent to the email, which the customer places above various windows available. The barcode is scanned and the drink is entered into the system. Patrons can see where their drink is in the queue and are alerted when their order is up.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Each robot has access to more than 60 kinds of liquor, and drinks can be mixed<strong> and poured into a 12-ounce plastic cup within 70 seconds.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Armeni stressed that the robots are meant to be a novelty, and that he believes Technology that carries out human jobs ultimately won&rsquo;t replace human servers.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;We have a human bar on the side, and the robotic bar is mostly an attraction and entertainment,&rdquo; Armeni said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s no different from the fountains at Bellagio and the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>However, if the robots&rsquo; performance lives up to the description provided by the Sun &ndash; well, let&rsquo;s just say that bartenders who were hoping to make a good living in Sin City might want to consider a move.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Ice, lemon, limes and sugars are stored behind the wall of the robots. Juices, sodas and liquors are housed above them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Aside from perfect pours every time, Armeni said the robots don&rsquo;t spill and don&rsquo;t waste any ingredients.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;They work to perfection, so everything the robots make is perfect,&rdquo; </strong>he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Tipsy Robot&rsquo;s location at the entrance of the Miracle Mile Shops on Las Vegas Boulevard was chosen because of its heavy foot traffic, Armeni said.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;We wanted to find a place where there was a lot of people coming through,&rdquo; Armeni said. &ldquo;At this location, there is an average of 24,000 people coming through a day, so that was what sold it to us.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>In addition to the robots, the bar will employ 16 humans, including what Armeni calls <strong>&ldquo;Galactica Ambassadors,&rdquo;</strong> women dressed in space-themed metallic silver dresses &ndash; they&rsquo;re basically a squad of hostesses. Technicians are also on hand to tend to the machines should problems arise.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 335px;" /></a></p> <p>The techs also ensure the robot&#39;s self-cleaning system is working properly because unlike bartenders and other servers &ndash; whose hygiene habits are largely a matter of trust &ndash; <em><strong>these robots automatically clean their robot &ldquo;hands&rdquo; between each drink.</strong></em></p> <p>Now, if two robots, whose only associated costs are the initial investment, maintainence costs, and the electricity required to operate them, can perform the exact same job as a human server, ask yourself: <em><strong>How could anybody justifying being paid $15 an hour to perform the same job - but not as well - as an oversized electric back-massager hooked up to an iPad?</strong></em><br />&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="631" height="423" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Las Vegas New York City Planet Hollywood Robot smartphone Technology Thu, 29 Jun 2017 05:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598865 at Researchers Discover That Social Media Can Be Used To Predict Riots, Revolutions, And Even The Weather <p><a href=""><em>Authored by Mac Slavo via,</em></a></p> <p><a href=""><img height="302" src="" width="469" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Most of us don&rsquo;t give much thought to what we post on social media, and a lot of what we see on social media is pretty innocuous.</strong> However, it only seems that way at first glance. The truth is that what we post online has a<strong> frightening potential.</strong> According to recent research from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington, the things we post on social media <a href="" target="_blank">could be utilized by software to predict future events</a>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>In a paper that&rsquo;s just been published on Arxiv, the team of researchers found that social media can be used to <strong>&ldquo;detect and predict offline events&rdquo;</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Twitter analysis can accurately predict civil unrest, for instance, because people use certain hashtags to discuss issues online before their anger bubbles over into the real world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The most famous example of this came during the Arab Spring, <strong>when clear signs of the impending protests and unrest were found on social networks days before people took to the streets.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A system called&nbsp;EMBERS</strong> (Early Model Based Event Recognition using Surrogates) has also yielded &ldquo;impressive results&rdquo; not just in &ldquo;detecting events, but in detecting specific properties of those events&rdquo;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>It has been used to predict unrest in South America, forecasting events with 80 per cent accuracy in Brazil and a slightly underwhelming 50 per cent in Venezuela.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another study showed &ldquo;impressive&rdquo; results in detecting &ldquo;civil unrest&rdquo; linked to the Black Lives Matter group, which formed in America in response to police shootings.</p> </blockquote> <p>And that&rsquo;s not all.<strong> The researchers found that social media posts could be used to predict the weather, disease outbreaks, future crimes, and the mental health of individual social media users.</strong></p> <p><em><strong>So we should probably ask ourselves, is the government using this kind of technology?</strong></em> Because the vast troves of personal data that is collected by the NSA every day could be used to make very accurate predictions. It&rsquo;s one thing to plug publicly available social media posts into predictive software, but the government has access to all of our personal emails, phone calls, search histories, and even our online purchases.</p> <p>When you combine that data with social media posts, you can make a very sophisticated profile of any individual, because you know what kind of persona they&rsquo;re trying to project in public, and you know who they really are on the inside. And if you have access to internet histories from hundreds of millions of people, as well as advanced supercomputers, there&rsquo;s no telling what you could predict.</p> <p><strong>Make no mistake, this isn&rsquo;t science-fiction.</strong> There are private companies working for the government right now who are creating <a href="" target="_blank">powerful computer forecasting programs</a>.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>It is called the &ldquo;Sentient World Simulation.&rdquo; The program&rsquo;s aim, <a href="">according to its creator,</a> is to be a <strong>&ldquo;continuously running, continually updated mirror model of the real world that can be used to predict and evaluate future events and courses of action.&rdquo;</strong> In practical terms that equates to a computer simulation of the planet complete with billions of &ldquo;nodes&rdquo; representing every person on the earth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The project is based out of Purdue University in Indiana at the <a href="">Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulations Laboaratory</a>. It is led by <a href="">Alok Chaturvedi</a>, who in addition to heading up the Purdue lab also makes the project commercially available via his private company, <a href="">Simulex, Inc</a>. <strong>which boasts an array of government <a href="">clients</a>, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice</strong>, as well as private sector clients like Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chatruvedi&rsquo;s ambition is to create reliable forecasts of future world events based on imagined scenarios. In order to do this, the simulations <strong>&ldquo;gobble up breaking news, census data, economic indicators, and climactic events in the real world, along with proprietary information such as military intelligence.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Although not explicitly stated,<strong> the very type of data on digital communications and transactions now being gobbled up by the NSA, DHS and other government agencies make ideal data for creating reliable models of every individuals&rsquo; habits, preferences and behaviors </strong>that could be used to fine-tune these simulations and give more reliable results&hellip;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>If anything, that may be the real purpose of the NSA. </strong>When you think about it, it makes a lot more sense than what the government claims this technology is used for, which is to stop terrorism. <em><strong>Are they really spending billions of dollars on a massive surveillance grid just to stop a handful of terrorist attacks? Or are they really trying to predict major global events?</strong></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="469" height="302" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Brazil Computing Department of Defense Department of Justice Department of Justice Indiana Multi-agent systems Prediction Purdue University in Indiana Scientific modeling simulation Simulation Simulation software Social media Software architecture Supply chain management Synthetic environment Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulations Technology Time Twitter Twitter University of Washington Thu, 29 Jun 2017 04:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598869 at Scientists Fear "Supervolcano" Eruption As Earthquake Swarm Near Yellowstone Soars To 800 <p>More than 800 earthquakes have now been recorded at the Yellowstone Caldera, a long-dormant supervolcano located in Yellowstone National Park, over the last two weeks - an ominous sign that a potentially catastrophic eruption could be brewing. <strong>However, despite earthquakes occurring at a frequency unseen during any period in the past five years, the US Geological Survey says the risk level remains in the &ldquo;green,&rdquo; unchanged from its normal levels,</strong> <a href="">according to Newsweek. </a></p> <p>The biggest earthquake in this &ldquo;swarm&rdquo; - <strong>which registered a magnitude of 4.4 &ndash; took place on June 15, three days after the rumblings started. That quake was the biggest in the region since a magnitude 4.8 earthquake struck close to Norris Geyser Basin in March 2014.</strong> This magnitude 4.4 earthquake was so powerful that people felt it in Bozman Montana, about eight miles away.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 309px;" /></a></p> <p>A scientist from the University of Utah said the quakes have also included five in the magnitude three range, and 68 in the magnitude two range.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;The swarm consists of one earthquake in the magnitude 4 range, five earthquakes in the magnitude 3 range, 68 earthquakes in the magnitude 2 range, 277 earthquakes in the magnitude 1 range, 508 earthquakes in the magnitude 0 range, and 19 earthquakes with magnitudes of less than zero,&rdquo; the latest report said.</strong></p> </blockquote> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>An earthquake with a magnitude less than zero is a very small event that can only be detected with the extremely sensitive instruments used in earthquake monitoring.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 319px;" /></a></p> <p><em>The &#39;Sunset Lake&#39; hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.</em></p> <p>There is normally a rise in seismic activity before a volcano erupts. <strong>And scientists currently believe there&rsquo;s a 10% chance that a &ldquo;supervolcanic Category 7 eruption&rdquo; could take place this century, as pointed out by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku.</strong></p> <p>An eruption, Kaku said, is long overdue: The last one occurred 640,000 years ago.</p> <p>To be sure, the swarm has slowed down considerably this week, and larger swarms have been recorded in the past, according to Jacob Lowenstern, the scientists in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.</p> <p>Yet the possibility that the volcano could be on the verge of what&rsquo;s called a &ldquo;supereruption&rdquo; should be enough to give the government pause. But scientists have said recently that there&rsquo;s some evidence to suggest the next one could occur this century.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 313px;" /></a></p> <p><em>&quot;Grand Prismatic&quot; Hot Spring at Yellowstone. </em></p> <p>So how would a supervolcanic eruption at Yellowstone impact the regional ecosystem, and the US more broadly? Well, <a href="">as Liberty Blog&rsquo;s Michael Snyder</a> points out, it would be nothing short of catastrophic.</p> <p><strong>Hundreds of cubic miles of ash, rock and lava would be blasted into the atmosphere, and this would likely plunge much of the northern hemisphere into several days of complete darkness. Virtually everything within 100 miles of Yellowstone would be immediately killed, but a much more cruel fate would befall those living in major cities outside of the immediate blast zone such as Salt Lake City and Denver.</strong></p> <p><a href=""><strong><img alt="" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 254px;" /></strong></a></p> <p>Hot volcanic ash, rock and dust would rain down on those cities literally for weeks. <strong>In the end, it would be extremely difficult for anyone living in those communities to survive. In fact, it has been estimated that 90 percent of all people living within 600 miles of Yellowstone would be killed.</strong></p> <p>Experts project that such an eruption would dump a layer of volcanic ash that is <strong>at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away, and approximately two-thirds of the United States would suddenly become uninhabitable. The volcanic ash would severely contaminate most of our water supplies, and growing food in the middle of the country would become next to impossible.</strong></p> <p>In other words, it would be the end of our country as we know it today.</p> <p>The rest of the planet, and this would especially be true for the northern hemisphere, would experience what is known as a &ldquo;nuclear winter&rdquo;. An extreme period of &ldquo;global cooling&rdquo; would take place, and temperatures around the world would fall by up to 20 degrees. Crops would fail all over the planet, and severe famine would sweep the globe.</p> <p><strong>In the end, billions could die.</strong></p> <p>So yes, this is a threat that we should take seriously.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="766" height="479" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Disaster Earthquake Environment Fail Geology Geyser Nazko earthquakes Snake River Supervolcanoes Types of volcanic eruptions University of Utah Volcanism Volcano Volcanology Yellowstone Caldera Yellowstone hotspot Yellowstone National Park Thu, 29 Jun 2017 04:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 598873 at