en FReeDoM... <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="" width="1024" height="683" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="640" height="480" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="1024" height="660" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="1024" height="683" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="716" height="1024" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="755" height="1024" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="734" height="1024" frameborder="0"></iframe>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <iframe src="" width="797" height="1024" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="786" height="1024" frameborder="0"></iframe><br /> . </p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">.<iframe src="" width="1024" height="683" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> Sat, 04 Jul 2015 10:56:54 +0000 williambanzai7 509251 at The Superpower Conundrum - The Rise and Fall of Just About Everything <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Tom Engelhardt via</em></a>,</p> <p>The rise and fall of great powers and their imperial domains has been a central fact of history for centuries.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s been a sensible, repeatedly validated framework for thinking about the fate of the planet.&nbsp; <strong>So it&rsquo;s hardly surprising, when faced with a country once regularly labeled the &ldquo;sole superpower,&rdquo; &ldquo;the last superpower,&rdquo; or even the global &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">hyperpower</a>&rdquo; and now, curiously, called nothing whatsoever, that the &ldquo;decline&rdquo; question should come up.&nbsp;</strong> <em>Is the U.S. or isn&rsquo;t it?&nbsp; Might it or might it not now be on the downhill side of imperial greatness?</em></p> <p>Take a slow train -- that is, any train -- anywhere in America, as I did recently in the northeast, and then take a high-speed train anywhere else on Earth, as I also did recently, and it&rsquo;s not hard to imagine the U.S. in decline.&nbsp; The greatest power in history, the &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">unipolar power</a>,&rdquo; can&rsquo;t build <a href="" target="_blank">a single mile</a> of high-speed rail?&nbsp; Really?&nbsp; And its Congress is now mired in an <a href="" target="_blank">argument</a> about whether funds can even be raised to keep America&rsquo;s highways more or less pothole-free.</p> <p>Sometimes, I imagine myself talking to my long-dead parents because I know how such things would have astonished two people who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and a can-do post-war era in which the staggering wealth and power of this country were indisputable.&nbsp; What if I could tell them how the crucial infrastructure of such a still-wealthy nation -- bridges, pipelines, roads, and the like -- is now grossly underfunded, in an increasing state of <a href="" target="_blank">disrepair</a>, and beginning to crumble?&nbsp; That would definitely shock them.</p> <p>And what would they think upon learning that, with the Soviet Union a quarter-century in the trash bin of history, the U.S., alone in triumph, has been incapable of applying its overwhelming military and economic power effectively?&nbsp; I&rsquo;m sure they would be dumbstruck to discover that, since the moment the Soviet Union imploded, the U.S. has been at war continuously with another country (three conflicts and endless strife); that I was talking about, of all places, Iraq; and that the mission there was never faintly accomplished.&nbsp; How improbable is that? &nbsp;And what would they think if I mentioned that the other great conflicts of the post-Cold-War era were with Afghanistan (two wars with a decade off in-between) and the relatively small groups of non-state actors we now call terrorists?&nbsp; And how would they react on discovering that the results were: failure in Iraq, failure in Afghanistan, and the proliferation of terror groups across much of the Greater Middle East (including the establishment of an actual terror caliphate) and increasing parts of Africa?</p> <p><strong>They would, I think, conclude that the U.S. was over the hill and set on the sort of decline that, sooner or later, has been the fate of every great power. And what if I told them that, in this new century, not a single action of the military that U.S. presidents now <a href=",_we%27re_number_one_%28in_self-promotion%29" target="_blank">call</a> &ldquo;the finest fighting force the world has ever known&rdquo; has, in the end, been anything but a dismal <a href=",_a_record_of_unparalleled_failure/" target="_blank">failure</a>?&nbsp;</strong> Or that presidents, presidential candidates, and politicians in Washington are required to insist on something no one would have had to say in their day: that the United States is both an &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">exceptional</a>&rdquo; and an &ldquo;<a href=",_seven_bad_endings_to_the_new_war_in_the_middle_east/" target="_blank">indispensible</a>&rdquo; nation? Or that they would also have to endlessly <a href=",_why_do_we_keep_thanking_the_troops/" target="_blank">thank</a><strong> </strong>our troops (as would the citizenry) for... well... never success, but just being there and getting maimed, physically or mentally, or dying while we went about our lives? Or that those soldiers must always be referred to as &ldquo;heroes.&rdquo;</p> <p>In their day, when the obligation to serve in a citizens&#39; army was a given, none of this would have made much sense, while the endless defensive insistence on American greatness would have stood out like a sore thumb. Today, its repetitive presence marks the moment of doubt. Are we really so &ldquo;exceptional&rdquo;? Is this country truly &ldquo;indispensible&rdquo; to the rest of the planet and if so, in what way exactly? Are those troops genuinely our heroes and if so, just what was it they did that we&rsquo;re so darn proud of?</p> <p><strong>Return my amazed parents to their graves, put all of this together, and you have the beginnings of a description of a uniquely great power in decline. It&rsquo;s a classic vision, but one with a problem.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>A God-Like Power to Destroy</strong></u></p> <p>Who today recalls the ads from my 1950s childhood for, if I remember correctly, drawing lessons, which always had a tagline that went something like: What&rsquo;s wrong with this picture?&nbsp; (You were supposed to notice the five-legged cows floating through the clouds.)&nbsp; So what&rsquo;s wrong with this picture of the obvious signs of decline: the greatest power in history, with <a href="" target="_blank">hundreds of garrisons</a> scattered across the planet, can&rsquo;t seem to apply its power effectively no matter where it sends its military or bring countries like Iran or a weakened post-Soviet Russia to heel by a full range of threats, sanctions, and the like, or suppress a modestly armed terror-movement-cum-state in the Middle East?</p> <p>For one thing, look around and tell me that the United States doesn&rsquo;t still seem like a unipolar power.&nbsp; I mean, where exactly are its rivals?&nbsp; Since the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries, when the first wooden ships mounted with cannons broke out of their European backwater and began to gobble up the globe, there have always been rival great powers -- three, four, five, or more.&nbsp; And what of today?&nbsp; <strong>The other three candidates of the moment would assumedly be the European Union (EU), Russia, and China.</strong></p> <p>Economically, the EU is indeed a powerhouse, but in any other way it&rsquo;s a second-rate conglomeration of states that still slavishly follow the U.S. and an entity threatening to <a href=",_europe%27s_end/" target="_blank">come apart</a> at the seams.&nbsp; Russia looms <a href="" target="_blank">ever larger</a> in Washington these days, but remains a rickety power in search of greatness in its former imperial borderlands.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a country almost as dependent on its energy industry as Saudi Arabia and nothing like a potential future superpower.&nbsp; As for China, it&rsquo;s obviously the rising power of the moment and now officially has the <a href="" target="_blank">number one</a> economy on Planet Earth.&nbsp; Still, it remains in many ways a poor country whose leaders fear any kind of future economic implosion (which could happen).&nbsp; Like the Russians, like any aspiring great power, it wants to make its weight <a href="" target="_blank">felt</a> in its neighborhood -- at the moment the East and South China Seas.&nbsp; <strong>And like <a href="" target="_blank">Vladimir Putin&rsquo;s Russia</a>, the Chinese leadership is indeed <a href="" target="_blank">upgrading</a> its military.</strong>&nbsp; But the urge in both cases is to emerge as a regional power to contend with, not a superpower or a genuine rival of the U.S.</p> <p>Whatever may be happening to American power, there really are no potential rivals to shoulder the blame.&nbsp; <strong>Yet, uniquely unrivaled, the U.S. has proven curiously incapable of translating its unipolar power and a military that, on paper, <a href="" target="_blank">trumps</a> every other one on the planet into its desires.&nbsp;</strong> This was not the normal experience of past reigning great powers.&nbsp; Or put another way, whether or not the U.S. is in decline, the rise-and-fall narrative seems, half-a-millennium later, to have reached some kind of largely uncommented upon and unexamined dead end.</p> <p>In looking for an explanation, consider a related narrative involving military power.&nbsp; Why, in this new century, does the U.S. seem so incapable of achieving victory or transforming crucial regions into places that can at least be controlled?&nbsp; Military power is by definition destructive, but in the past such force often cleared the ground for the building of local, regional, or even global structures, however grim or oppressive they might have been. &nbsp;If force always was meant to break things, it sometimes achieved other ends as well.&nbsp; Now, it seems as if breaking is all it can do, or how to explain the fact that, in this century, the planet&rsquo;s sole superpower has specialized -- see Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and elsewhere -- in fracturing, not building nations.</p> <p><strong>Empires may have risen and fallen in those 500 years, but weaponry only rose.</strong> Over those centuries in which so many rivals engaged each other, carved out their imperial domains, fought their wars, and sooner or later fell, the destructive power of the weaponry they were wielding only ratcheted up exponentially: from the crossbow to the musket, the cannon, the Colt revolver, the repeating rifle, the Gatling gun, the machine gun, the dreadnaught, modern artillery, the tank, poison gas, the zeppelin, the plane, the bomb, the aircraft carrier, the missile, and at the end of the line, the &ldquo;victory weapon&rdquo; of World War II, the nuclear bomb that would turn the rulers of the greatest powers, and later even lesser powers, into the equivalent of gods.</p> <p><strong>For the first time, representatives of humanity had in their hands the power to destroy anything on the planet in a fashion once imagined possible only by some deity or set of deities.</strong>&nbsp; It was now possible to create our own end times.&nbsp; And yet here was the odd thing: the weaponry that brought the power of the gods down to Earth somehow offered no practical power at all to national leaders.&nbsp; In the post-Hiroshima-Nagasaki world, those nuclear weapons would prove unusable.&nbsp; Once they were loosed on the planet, there would be no more rises, no more falls. &nbsp;(Today, we know that even a limited nuclear exchange among lesser powers could, thanks to the <a href="" target="_blank">nuclear-winter effect</a>, devastate the planet.)</p> <p><u><strong>Weapons Development in an Era of Limited War</strong></u></p> <p><strong>In a sense, World War II could be considered the ultimate moment for both the narratives of empire and the weapon.</strong>&nbsp; It would be the last &ldquo;great&rdquo; war in which major powers could bring all the weaponry available to them to bear in search of ultimate victory and the ultimate shaping of the globe.&nbsp; It resulted in unprecedented destruction across vast swathes of the planet, the killing of tens of millions, the turning of great cities into rubble and of countless people into refugees, the creation of an industrial structure for genocide, and finally the building of those weapons of ultimate destruction and of the first missiles that would someday be their crucial delivery systems.&nbsp; And out of that war came the final rivals of the modern age -- and then there were two -- the &ldquo;superpowers.&rdquo;</p> <p>That very word, superpower, had much of the end of the story embedded in it.&nbsp; Think of it as a marker for a new age, for the fact that the world of the &ldquo;great powers&rdquo; had been left for something almost inexpressible.&nbsp; Everyone sensed it.&nbsp; We were now in the realm of &ldquo;great&rdquo; squared or force raised in some exponential fashion, of &ldquo;super&rdquo; (as in, say, &ldquo;superhuman&rdquo;) power.&nbsp; What made those powers truly super was obvious enough: the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union -- their potential ability, that is, to destroy in a fashion that had no precedent and from which there might be no coming back.&nbsp; It wasn&rsquo;t a happenstance that the scientists creating the H-bomb sometimes <a href="" target="_blank">referred to</a> it in awestruck terms as a &ldquo;super bomb,&rdquo; or simply &ldquo;the super.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The unimaginable had happened.&nbsp;</strong> It turned out that there was such a thing as too much power.&nbsp; What in World War II came to be called &ldquo;total war,&rdquo; the full application of the power of a great state to the destruction of others, was no longer conceivable.&nbsp; The Cold War gained its name for a reason.&nbsp; A hot war between the U.S. and the USSR could not be fought, nor could another global war, a reality driven home by the <a href=",_%22the_most_dangerous_moment,%22_50_years_later/" target="_blank">Cuban missile crisis</a>.&nbsp; Their power could only be expressed &ldquo;in the shadows&rdquo; or in localized conflicts on the &ldquo;peripheries.&rdquo;&nbsp; Power now found itself unexpectedly bound hand and foot.</p> <p><strong>This would soon be reflected in the terminology of American warfare.&nbsp;</strong> In the wake of the frustrating stalemate that was Korea (1950-1953), a war in which the U.S. found itself unable to use its greatest weapon, Washington took a new language into Vietnam. The conflict there was to be a &ldquo;<a href=";pg=PA36&amp;dq=%22limited+war%22+maxwell+taylor&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=79GOVfDiPIugyQSP1aHQDg&amp;ved=0CDYQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&amp;q=%22limited%20war%22%20maxwell%20taylor&amp;f=false" target="_blank">limited war</a>.&rdquo;&nbsp; And that meant one thing: nuclear power would be taken off the table.</p> <p>For the first time, it seemed, the world was facing some kind of power glut.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s at least reasonable to assume that, in the years after the Cold War standoff ended, that reality somehow seeped from the nuclear arena into the rest of warfare.&nbsp; In the process, great power war would be limited in new ways, while somehow being reduced only to its destructive aspect and nothing more.&nbsp; It suddenly seemed to hold no other possibilities within it -- or so the evidence of the sole superpower in these years suggests.</p> <p><strong>War and conflict are hardly at an end in the twenty-first century, but something has removed war&#39;s normal efficacy.&nbsp;</strong> Weapons development has hardly ceased either, but the newest highest-tech weapons of our age are proving strangely ineffective as well.&nbsp; In this context, the urge in our time to produce &ldquo;precision weaponry&rdquo; -- no longer the carpet-bombing of the B-52, but the &ldquo;surgical&rdquo; strike capacity of a joint direct attack munition, or <a href="" target="_blank">JDAM</a> -- should be thought of as the arrival of &ldquo;limited war&rdquo; in the world of weapons development.</p> <p><strong><a href=",_hunting_humans_by_remote_control/" target="_blank">The drone</a>, one of those precision weapons, is a striking example.&nbsp;</strong> Despite its <a href=",_the_true_costs_of_remote_control_war/" target="_blank">penchant for</a> producing &ldquo;collateral damage,&rdquo; it is not a World War II-style weapon of indiscriminate slaughter.&nbsp; It has, in fact, been used relatively effectively to play whack-a-mole with the leadership of terrorist groups, <a href="" target="_blank">killing off</a> one leader or lieutenant after another.&nbsp; And yet all of the movements it has been directed against have only <a href=",_how_assassination_sold_drugs_and_promoted_terrorism/" target="_blank">proliferated</a>, gaining strength (and brutality) in these same years.&nbsp; It has, in other words, proven an effective weapon of bloodlust and revenge, but not of policy.&nbsp; If war is, in fact, politics by other means (as Carl von Clausewitz claimed), revenge is not.&nbsp; No one should then be surprised that the drone has produced not an effective war on terror, but a war that seems to <a href=",_the_national_security_state_%22works,%22_even_if_nothing_it_does_works/" target="_blank">promote terror</a>.</p> <p>One other factor should be added in here: that global power glut has grown exponentially in another fashion as well.&nbsp; In these years, the destructive power of the gods has descended on humanity a second time as well -- via the seemingly most peaceable of activities, the burning of fossil fuels.&nbsp; Climate change now <a href="" target="_blank">promises</a> a <a href="" target="_blank">slow-motion version</a> of nuclear Armageddon, increasing both the pressure on and the fragmentation of societies, while introducing a new form of destruction to our lives.</p> <p><em>Can I make sense of all this?&nbsp;</em> Hardly.&nbsp; I&rsquo;m just doing my best to report on the obvious: that military power no longer seems to act as it once did on Planet Earth.&nbsp; Under distinctly apocalyptic pressures, something seems to be breaking down, something seems to be fragmenting, and with that the familiar stories, familiar frameworks, for thinking about how our world works are losing their efficacy.</p> <p><u><em><strong>Decline may be in the American future, but on a planet pushed to extremes, don&rsquo;t count on it taking place within the usual tale of the rise and fall of great powers or even superpowers. Something else is happening on Planet Earth. Be prepared.</strong></em></u></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="199" height="175" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan China European Union Great Depression Iran Iraq Middle East New Century None Nuclear Power Reality Saudi Arabia Vladimir Putin Sat, 04 Jul 2015 01:40:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509243 at Greeks Turn To Bitcoin To Dodge Capital Controls <p>There is at least <strong>one legal way to get your euros out of Greece these days</strong>, to guard against the prospect that they might be devalued into drachmas: convert them into bitcoin. <a href="">As Reuters reports,</a> although absolute figures are hard to come by, Greek interest has surged in the online &quot;cryptocurrency&quot;, as <strong>new customers depositing at least 50 euros with BTCGreece, the only Greece-based bitcoin exchange, open only to Greeks, rose by 400% between May and June</strong>.</p> <p><a href="">As Reuters reports,</a></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Using bitcoin could allow Greeks to do one of the things that capital controls were put in place this week to prevent: transfer money out of their bank accounts and, if they wish, out of the country.</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;When people are trying to move money out of the country and <strong>the state is stopping that from taking place, bitcoin is the only way to move any value</strong>,&quot; said Adam Vaziri, a board member of the UK Digital Currency Association.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>&quot;There aren&#39;t any other options unless you buy diamonds, and that&#39;s very difficult to move.&quot;</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But Marinos said the bitcoin buyers&#39; main aim was to shield their money against the prospect that Greece might leave the euro zone and convert all the deposits in Greek banks into a greatly devalued national currency. If voters reject the demands of international creditors in a referendum on Sunday, this becomes much more likely.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;A lot of people are keeping all the bitcoins they buy on our platform, until they understand what to do with them,&quot; Marinos said.<strong> &quot;In their eyes, now they have bitcoins, they&#39;re safe.&quot;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp;&nbsp; *</p> <p>With Bitcoin having <strong>surged from $238 to $268 in the last few days</strong> since Greek PM Tsipras announced Greferendum, it is clear it&#39;s not just the Greeks that are losing faith in faith-based fiat currencies.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="705" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ironically, on June 20, Greece got its first bitcoin &quot;ATM&quot;, in a family-run bookstore in Acharnes on the outskirts of Athens.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="528" src="" width="600" /></a></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="382" height="336" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bitcoin Creditors Greece Reuters Sat, 04 Jul 2015 01:05:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509241 at FBI Admits 11 Attacks Against Internet, Power Grid Lines In California This Year <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Joshua Krause via</em></a>,</p> <p>On Tuesday, someone broke into an underground vault in Sacramento, and cut several high-capacity internet cables. Nobody knows who this person is or why they did it, but since that time the FBI has revealed that it was not an isolated incident. <strong>They&rsquo;ve been <a href="" target="_blank">investigating 10 other recent attacks</a> on the internet infrastructure of California, and they seem to be deeply troubled by the vulnerability of these cables.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The FBI is investigating <strong>at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity Internet cables in California&rsquo;s San Francisco Bay Area dating back a year</strong>, including one early Tuesday morning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Agents confirm the latest attack disrupted Internet service for businesses and residential customers in and around Sacramento, the state&rsquo;s capital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>FBI agents declined to specify how significantly the attack affected customers, citing the ongoing investigation. In Tuesday&rsquo;s attack, someone broke into an underground vault and cut three fiber-optic cables belonging to Colorado-based service providers Level 3 and Zayo.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The attacks date back to at least July 6, 2014, said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing,&rdquo; Wuthrich said. &ldquo;We definitely need the public&rsquo;s assistance.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>A security professional who was interviewed for that article, also suggested something that should perk the ears of any American that hears it.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><u><em><strong>&ldquo;When it&rsquo;s situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact,&rdquo; Thompson said. &ldquo;That is a security person&rsquo;s nightmare.&rdquo;</strong></em></u></p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The article goes on to compare these incidents to similar attacks that happened in Arizona last year, as well as California in 2009.</strong> However, they may be missing the bigger picture. This whole situation reminds me of an article <a href="" target="_blank">I wrote just over a year ago about several attacks</a> that were carried out against the power grid, which again, occurred in California and Arizona (weird right?). This included the very unsettling attack against a power station in San Jose, which wasn&rsquo;t revealed until 10 months after the fact, and to date, there has been no explanation for the incident.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>Rather than a bomb, the <a href="" target="_blank">San Jose attack</a> turned out to be a frighteningly coordinated shooting. </strong>It&rsquo;s estimated that 6 individuals approached the facility late at night armed with AK-47&rsquo;s, and opened fire, but not before sneaking onto the property and disabling the alarm system. The attackers managed to disrupt a total of 10 transformers, and escaped just before police arrived. Investigators would later find more evidence of just how professional the attack was:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;After walking the site with PG&amp;E officials and FBI agents, Mr. Wellinghoff said, the military experts told him it looked like a professional job. In addition to fingerprint-free shell casings, they pointed out small piles of rocks, which they said could have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>It should be abundantly clear now that some organization out there is quietly coordinating small-scale attacks against America&rsquo;s power grid and internet lines.</strong> In my previous article, I suggested that they&rsquo;re <strong>probing our infrastructure for weaknesses, and gauging reaction times and security.</strong> I still think that may be the case.</p> <p><em>It&rsquo;s possible that these attacks are all unrelated, but it sure doesn&rsquo;t look like it to me. I won&rsquo;t suggest who may be doing it since it&rsquo;s impossible to know for sure, but it definitely looks like there is an organized effort of some kind to disable the electricity and communications of Arizona and California. We probably won&rsquo;t know who it is until they get around to a full-scale attack, which given the vulnerability of America&rsquo;s power grid, may be absolutely devastating.</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="245" height="180" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> FBI Sat, 04 Jul 2015 00:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509240 at The $100 Trillion Bond Bubble Just Burst <p>The big story in the world is the bond bubble.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For over 30 years, sovereign nations, particularly in the West have been buying votes by offering social payments in the form of welfare, Medicare, social security, and the like.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ridiculousness of this should not be lost on anyone. Politicians, in order to be elected, promise to allocate taxpayer funds on social programs that will benefit said taxpayers down the road (we&rsquo;re simply talking about social spending, not infrastructure or other costs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The concept that taxpayers might simply just <strong><u>keep</u></strong> the money to begin with never enters the equation. And because everyone believes that they are somehow spending someone <strong><em><u>else&rsquo;s</u></em></strong> money, they play along.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When you believe that you are spending someone else&rsquo;s money, it&rsquo;s very easy to write a blank check, which is precisely what Western nations have been doing for years, promising everyone a safe and secure retirement without ever bothering to see where the money would come from.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When actual bills came due to fund this stuff, Governments quickly discovered that current tax revenues couldn&rsquo;t cover it&hellip; so they issued sovereign debt to make up the difference.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And so the bond bubble was created.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The large banks, that have a monopoly on managing sovereign debt auctions, were only too happy to play along with this. The reasons are as follows:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1)&nbsp;&nbsp; They can use these alleged &ldquo;risk-free&rdquo; assets as collateral to backstop tens of trillions worth of derivatives trades. A $1 million investment in your typical US Treasury can backstop over $15 million worth of derivatives if not more. The profits from the derivatives markets remains a primary source of revenue for the banks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2)&nbsp;&nbsp; Sovereign Governments are only too happy to bail out the big banks if the stuff ever hits the fan on the trades that are backstopped by the sovereign debt (see 2006 onwards). Since the banks are the ones holding the sovereign debt, they can always threaten to dump bonds, which would render the whole social welfare Ponzi bankrupt (see what happened in Europe when sovereign bonds collapsed in 2011-2012).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3)&nbsp;&nbsp; In a debt-based financial system such as the current one, sovereign bonds are the senior most assets in the system. Those who own these in bulk are at the top of the financial food chain in terms of financial, economic, and political clout.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since it was rarely if ever a problem to issue sovereign debt, Governments kept promising future payments that they didn&rsquo;t have until we reach today: the point at which most Western nations are sporting Debt to GDP ratios well north of 300% when you consider unfunded liabilities (the social spending programs mentioned earlier).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, cutting social spending is usually considered political suicide (after all, the voters put you in office in the first place based on you promising to pay them welfare payments down the road). So rather than default on the social contract made with voters, the political class will simply push to issue <strong><em><u>MORE</u></em></strong> debt to finance old debt that is coming due.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The US did precisely this in the fourth quarter of 2014, issuing over $1 trillion in new debt simply to pay back old debt that was coming due.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is how the bond market becomes a bubble. Between 2000 and today, the global bond market has nearly TRIPLED in size. Today, it&rsquo;s north of $100 trillion in size. And it&rsquo;s backstopping over $555 trillion in derivatives trades.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is literally no easy fix to any of this. The pain will be severe. And so everyone in charge of the important decisions (the political elite, the big banks, and the Central Banks) will push this as far as it can possibly go before taking the inevitable hit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Greece just took a hit&hellip; and once again it&rsquo;s depositors that will take it on the chin. But this process is only just begun. Similar Crises will be spreading throughout the globe in&nbsp; the coming months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve yet to take action to prepare for the second round of the financial crisis, we offer a FREE investment report <strong><em>Financial Crisis &quot;Round Two&quot; Survival Guide </em></strong>that outlines easy, simple to follow strategies you can use to not only protect your portfolio from a market downturn, but actually produce profits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can pick up a FREE copy at:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Best Regards</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Phoenix Capital Research</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Bond Central Banks default Greece Medicare Sovereign Debt Sat, 04 Jul 2015 00:26:56 +0000 Phoenix Capital Research 509250 at BofA's Dire Prediction: Only Direct Government Buying Can Save China Stocks Now <p>Even after this somewhat catastrophic drop, BofAML warns the <strong>Chinese market looks expensive</strong>. Deleveraging is likely far from over, they add, concluding that the market is a "falling knife" and <strong>only direct buying by the government will mark the bottom</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="318" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Via BofAML,</em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Bottom likely when govt becomes buyer of last resort</strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After reaching a peak of 5,166 on Jun 12, SHCOMP declined sharply by almost 30% to 3,687 within three weeks. The ferociousness of the sell-off even took us by surprise – although we have a 3,600 target for the index, we thought it would take another six months to get there. Given the momentum, the market bottom is highly unpredictable. <strong>As a result, we suggest investors stay on the sidelines for the time being.</strong> A few points worth highlighting: </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The market is now a “falling knife”:</strong> even after all the government directed marketsupporting measures since last Saturday, including comb rate/RRR cuts, CSRC’s loosening of margin lending control &amp; its cracking down on shorting activities, and organized commentaries from high profile local fund managers, the market still dropped sharply on four of the last five trading days and fell decisively through the psychologically important 4,000 level for SHCOMP. The market has clearly lost its nerve and many investors appear to be rushing to exit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Drastic times calls for drastic measures:</strong> the government still has a few policies up its sleeve: it may get affiliated funds such as Huijin and the pension fund to buy, CSRC may suspend IPOs, insurance companies may be encouraged to enter into the market, MoF may cut stamp duty on stock transactions, and PBoC may announce more easing measures, among other possibilities. However, whether or when these policies can stabilize market sentiment is highly uncertain in our view – margin call pressure from unauthorized margin facilities appears enormous; even for those investors not under any immediate margin call pressure, they need to be convinced that the market will go up meaningfully for their leveraged positions to break even (due to high funding costs). </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Deleveraging in the market is likely far from over: </strong>margin outstanding only declined moderately from the peak of Rmb2.3tr on June 18 to Rmb2.1tr by July 2. Deleveraging from unregulated margin channels is likely to be more substantial. Nevertheless, looking at the relatively subdued turnover in recent days, we doubt a significant portion of the positions had been unwound. The 10% limit-down rule is delaying a market clearance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The government to become the buyer of the last resort?</strong> All the potential measures mentioned above will largely work on sentiment as direct inflows from these government affiliated entities will likely be moderate by our estimate. If the government fails to turn around sentiment quickly, it may have no choice but to become the buyer of the last resort in the market, similar to what HKMA did in 1998. Even then, things can be complicated: much of the unauthorized margins were used to buy small cap stocks. So the authority, with or without PBoC’s direct involvement, may have to buy stocks on a very large &amp; very broad scale. If and when this happens, it will mark the true market bottom in the short term, in our view.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Even after the fall, the market looks expensive:</strong> some short term technical bounces aside after things stabilize, we suspect that the A-share market may enter into a multiyear bear market. The large losses could hurt current investors’ psychology severely and it may be years before the pain fades and/or a new generation of investors with no such bad memory emerges. Meanwhile, SHCOMP is still trading at 17x trailing 12M PER (31x ex. banks), with economic growth stalling and market earnings rapidly decelerating.</p> </blockquote> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p> As Deutsche adds,</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>"so large are the losses for the 20 million accounts<br /> opened from mid-April to mid-June that in aggregate no money has been<br /> made for 2 years."</strong></span></p> </blockquote> <p>Now who could have seen that coming?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 314px;" /></a></p> <p> <strong><a href=""><em>Now it makes all the sense in the world that China stopped publishing data as we were the only ones who noticed.</em></a></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="124" height="129" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bear Market China Insurance Companies Market Bottom Market Sentiment Fri, 03 Jul 2015 23:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509239 at Sugar Daddies Are Paying Their Share Of The $1.3 Trillion Student Loan Balance <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Daniel Drew via</em></a>,</p> <p>As noted previously, we are in a <a href="" target="_blank">new dark age</a> where college does not pay. At <a href="" target="_blank">$1.3 trillion</a>, the student debt balance is not getting any smaller. Facing a lifetime of debt slavery, the millennial generation is doing whatever they can to avoid homelessness. Whether it&#39;s stripping or working at <a href="" target="_blank">Rent A Gent</a>, all options are on the table. Now, they are flocking to <a href="" target="blank">Seeking Arrangement</a> to prostitute themselves so they can pay for school. <strong>Since 2009, the number of <a href="" target="_blank">student sugar babies</a> has increased by 1,200%!</strong></p> <p><strong>The labor force participation rate for college graduates has been on a relentless downtrend</strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Bachelor Degree Labor Force Participation" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 397px;" title="Bachelor Degree Labor Force Participation" /></a></p> <p><strong>It is getting even more expensive to go to school. Even after adjusting for inflation, college costs have gone up more than 400% in the last 30 years</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="College Tuition" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 541px;" title="College Tuition" /></p> <p><strong>The <a href="" target="_blank">student loan balance</a> has nearly tripled in the last decade</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="Student Loans" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 323px;" title="Student Loans" /></p> <p>Many young people don&#39;t see any good alternatives to going to school, so they jump in head first. Facing enormous bills, they turn to sites like Seeking Arrangement for help. These aren&#39;t just women either. <a href="" target="_blank">15% of student sugar babies are men</a>, and plenty of sugar mommas are on the site too.</p> <p><strong>Here are the numbers</strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Seeking Arrangement Stats" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 166px;" title="Seeking Arrangement Stats" /></a></p> <p><strong>And here are the sugar babies by major</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="Top Sugar Baby Majors" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 546px;" title="Top Sugar Baby Majors" /></p> <p><strong>The abundance of nurses on Seeking Arrangement shouldn&#39;t be surprising for regular readers. Personal care aides and nurses are <a href="" target="_blank">the fastest growing jobs in America</a></strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Most New Jobs" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 339px;" title="Most New Jobs" /></a></p> <p><strong>Here are the perks of Seeking Arrangement</strong>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Sugar Baby Perks" border="1" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 188px;" title="Sugar Baby Perks" /></a></p> <p><strong>And here are the sugar babies</strong>.</p> <p><img alt="Sugar Babies" border="1" src="" style="width: 381px; height: 250px;" title="Sugar Babies" /></p> <p>Previously, it was common for students to take food and service jobs, but soon, you will hear college students casually sharing their day with their sugar daddy. <strong>Welcome to the modern hooker economy</strong>.</p> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 23:20:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509249 at Artist's Impression Of A Greek ATM <p>It's what goes unsaid that matters...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="599" height="413" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><br /></a></p> <p><a href=""><em>Source:</em></a></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="599" height="413" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:45:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509229 at Arctic Drilling Future Now Rests On One Well <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Charles Kennedy via</em></a>,</p> <p><strong><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.6em;">Royal Dutch Shell is nearing a start to drilling in the Arctic, but has run into some hiccups.</span></strong></p> <p>The U.S. government decided that Shell cannot actually drill both of its wells in the Chukchi Sea as planned. <strong>The Interior Department said that doing so would run afoul of its rules that protect marine life. </strong>According to those regulations, which were issued in 2013, exploration companies cannot drill two wells within 15 miles of each other. Shell had planned to drill two wells in the Burger prospect within a 9 mile range.</p> <p><strong>Environmental groups hoped that the Interior Department would throw out Shell&rsquo;s drilling plan altogether, </strong>owing to the fact that the environmental assessment the agency conducted was based on the two-well drilling plan, according to Jennifer Dlouhy of <a href="">Fuel Fix</a>. Environmental groups argued that since the Interior Department didn&rsquo;t actually conduct an assessment of a drilling plan consisting of just one well, the entire drilling program should be scrapped.</p> <p><strong>Interior didn&rsquo;t buy these arguments,</strong> but still ruled that Shell can only drill one well this summer. Shell reiterated that it would move forward with drilling the lone well in the Arctic this year, having committed around $1 billion for the program.</p> <p><strong>Shell <a href="">announced</a> that it expects to be able to begin drilling by the third week in July</strong> after sea ice has melted sufficiently. Shell is still awaiting one last federal permit before it can begin drilling, and it is also awaiting the arrival of its second drilling rig in Alaska.</p> <p><strong>Separately, several oil companies recently <a href="">announced</a> that they were putting their Arctic plans on ice.</strong> A joint venture between Imperial Oil, ExxonMobil, and BP decided to shelve plans for exploration in the Canadian Arctic. They had permits that will expire in 2019 and 2020, and the group says that they will not be able to drill before then. More research is needed and since the companies are running out of time, they have decided to suspend work and lobby the Canadian government for an extension.</p> <p><strong>Last year Chevron decided to suspend its plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea after the collapse in oil prices made doing so unattractive.</strong> The move by Imperial and its partners likely puts any significant drilling in the Canadian Arctic on hold indefinitely.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>As such, Arctic drilling in North America will come down to Shell&rsquo;s one well in the Chukchi Sea.</strong></span></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="227" height="192" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:10:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509228 at Gold Bullion Dealer Unexpectedly "Suspends Operations" Due To "Significant Transactional Delays" <p>What makes the current sovereign default episode different from previous ones is the uncanny stability and lack of buying of "fiat remote" assets such as gold and silver, and to a lesser extent, digital currency such as bitcoin. Indeed, all throughout the Greek pre-default escalation and ultimately, sovereign bankruptcy to the IMF, it seemed as if there was an absolute aversion to the peak of Exter's inverted pyramid. </p> <p>What is even more surprising about the lack of any gold price upside is that it is not due to lack of demand. Quite the contrary, because as <a href="">Bloomberg wrote last week</a>, "European investors are increasing purchases of gold as Greece’s turmoil boosts the appeal for an alternative to the euro."</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Demand from Greek customers for Sovereign gold coins was double the five-month average in June, the U.K. Royal Mint said in an e-mailed statement. <strong>, an online retailer, said sales on Saturday and Sunday were the highest since Cyprus limited cash withdrawals in 2013, driven by a jump in German, French and Greek buyers. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Investors are searching for a safe haven after Greece imposed capital controls, closed banks and stopped selling gold coins to the public until at least July 6. </strong>Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said Germany is still open to negotiations if Greece wants. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>“Most of our common gold coins are sold out,” Daniel Marburger, a director of Frankfurt-based, said by phone. </strong>“When people learned that the Greek banks will be closed, they started to think that it may not be such a bad idea to have some money in gold.”</p> </blockquote> <p>The bullion dealers themselves are enjoying a jump in sales to retail customers:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p> GoldCore Ltd., which buys and sells bullion, reported coin and bar demand rose “significantly” on Monday. Sales to U.K. and Ireland today are about three times the average for the past three Mondays, the Dublin-based firm said in an e-mailed statement. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The U.S. Mint has sold 61,500 ounces of American Eagle gold coins this month, the most since January.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BullionVault, which says it operates the largest online physical gold trading platform, reported a jump in sales during the first half of this year, a sign of a broader increase.</p> </blockquote> <p>However, it is the "paper" gold market where things were most perplexing in recent months. Recall that, as Zero Hedge <a href="">broke and first reported</a>, in the first quarter of the year, or the same time the Syriza government took power, something very dramatic took place in the US derivatives market, where first JPM saw an absolute explosion of its commodity derivative holdings (a broad umbrella which is not broken down further):</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="417" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>... coupled wih Citi's surge in "precious metals" derivatives which soared <a href="">from $3.9 billion</a> to $42 billion.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="279" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="268" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But what is most confusing is how even as physical metal demand clearly rose across Europe in the past few months and the price of paper gold actually declined, perhaps facilitated by some "hedged" derivative positions on the short side of precious metals, some bullion dealers have actually found it impossible to survive, and in the last few days at least one major gold bullion dealer, <a href="">Bullion Direct</a>, greeted customers with the following notice on its website:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>Bullion Direct has experienced significant transactional delays. To avoid further inconvenience or other adverse consequences to our customers, Bullion Direct is suspending its operations as it attempts to resolve those issues. </strong>We intend to keep you informed at this website. Thank you for your patience. </p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="126" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Just what are "<em>significant transactional delays</em>" and how bad is the physical gold supply-chain if it can put at least one dealer out of business. Another question: is this a solitary failure by gold vendor due to a one-off problem with working capital, or is something more systemic about to be revealed in the gold bullion sales industry?</p> <p>We look forward to finding out, but in the meantime our advice to buyers of physical precious metals is the same as always<em>: </em>if you purchased it and you can't hold it in your hand, it isn't yours.</p> Bitcoin default Germany Greece Ireland Precious Metals Sovereign Default Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:40:13 +0000 Tyler Durden 509248 at