en US Police More Concerned About "Anti-Government" Domestic Extremists Than Al-Qaeda, Study Finds <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog</em></a>,</p> <p><img alt="Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 2.43.11 PM" class="alignnone wp-image-25107" height="162" src="" width="429" /></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>U.S. law enforcement agencies rank the threat of violence from anti-government&nbsp; extremists higher than the threat from radicalized Muslims, according to&nbsp;a report released Thursday by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security&nbsp;(TCTHS).</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>The report, &ldquo;Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat,&rdquo; was based on survey research by Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and David Schanzer, director of TCTHS and associate professor of the practice at Duke University&rsquo;s Sanford School of Public Policy.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The survey &mdash; conducted by the center with the Police Executive Research Forum &mdash; found that 74 percent of 382 law enforcement agencies rated anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction. By comparison, 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations as a Top 3 terrorist threat.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ndash; From Duke&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="">Sanford School of Public Policy</a></p> </blockquote> <p>Since September 11, 2001, the frightened and emotionally pliable American public has gullibly relinquished its civil liberties and&nbsp;free heritage in order to allow the U.S. government to wage unaccountable and unconstitutional war again Al-Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism across the world.</p> <p>Many of us have warned for years, that preemptively giving up freedoms to protect freedom could only make sense to a propagandized, ignorant public completely clueless of human history. We warned that any&nbsp;totalitarian apparatus implemented&nbsp;to fight an outside enemy, would ultimately be turned around and used upon&nbsp;the public domestically. We already know this is happening with the NSA&rsquo;s bulk spying and data collection, and we are starting to see a&nbsp;proliferation of the meme that <strong>&ldquo;domestic extremists are more dangerous than Al-Qaeda,&rdquo;</strong> spreading from the mouths of a&nbsp;corrupt and paranoid political class. I&rsquo;ve covered this topic on several occasions, for example:</p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to The “War on Terror” Turns Inward – DHS Report Warns of Right Wing Terror Threat">The &ldquo;War on Terror&rdquo; Turns Inward &ndash; DHS Report Warns of Right Wing Terror Threat</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to Eric Holder Announces Task Force to Focus on “Domestic Terrorists”">Eric Holder Announces Task Force to Focus on &ldquo;Domestic Terrorists&rdquo;</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to Rep. Steve Cohen Calls Tea Party Republicans “Domestic Enemies” on MSNBC">Rep. Steve Cohen Calls Tea Party Republicans &ldquo;Domestic Enemies&rdquo; on MSNBC</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to New Hampshire City Requests a Tank to Deal with “Domestic Terrorist” Groups Like Occupy Wall Street and Libertarians">New Hampshire City Requests a Tank to Deal with &ldquo;Domestic Terrorist&rdquo; Groups Like Occupy Wall Street and Libertarians</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to It’s Official: The FBI Classifies Peaceful American Protestors as “Terrorists”">It&rsquo;s Official: The FBI Classifies Peaceful American Protestors as &ldquo;Terrorists&rdquo;</a></em></p> <p>If all that&rsquo;s not enough to convince you we&rsquo;ve got a problem, I bring to you conclusions from the recently released study, <a href="">&ldquo;Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat.&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;This study was based on a survey conducted&nbsp;by&nbsp;Charles Kurzman&nbsp;and&nbsp;David Schanzer, who recently penned an <a href="">op-ed in the <em>New York Times</em></a>. Here are some excerpts from their article:</p> <div> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div> <p class="story-body-text story-content"><em><strong>In a survey we conducted with the&nbsp;<a href="">Police Executive Research Forum</a>&nbsp;last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations.</strong> And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.</em></p> <p class="story-body-text story-content">&nbsp;</p> <p class="story-body-text story-content" id="story-continues-4"><em>The self-proclaimed Islamic State&rsquo;s efforts to radicalize American Muslims, which began just after the survey ended, may have increased threat perceptions somewhat, but not by much, as we found in follow-up interviews over the past year with counterterrorism specialists at 19 law enforcement agencies. <strong>These officers, selected from urban and rural areas around the country, said that radicalization from the Middle East was a concern, but not as dangerous as radicalization among right-wing extremists.</strong></em></p> <p class="story-body-text story-content">&nbsp;</p> <p class="story-body-text story-content"><em><strong>Law enforcement agencies around the country are training their officers to recognize signs of anti-government extremism and to exercise caution during routine traffic stops, criminal investigations and other interactions with potential extremists.</strong> &ldquo;The threat is real,&rdquo; says the handout from one training program sponsored by the Department of Justice. Since 2000, the handout notes, 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a &ldquo;fear that government will confiscate firearms&rdquo; and a &ldquo;belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.&rdquo;</em></p> <p class="story-body-text story-content">&nbsp;</p> <p class="story-body-text story-content"><em>Meanwhile, terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America. There have been more than&nbsp;<a href="">215,000</a>&nbsp;murders in the United States since 9/11. For every person killed by Muslim extremists, there have been 4,300 homicides from other threats.</em></p> </blockquote> </div> <p>Perhaps if the police didn&rsquo;t harbor such negative&nbsp;thoughts about the general public, there wouldn&rsquo;t be as many citizens killed by police. The recent tally is up to <a href="">463 killed so far in 2015</a>, or an average of 2.5 Americans killed by police every day.</p> <p>Finally, I came across the following excerpt from a recently published<a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;;utm_campaign=buffer"><em> National Journal</em> article</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>Senate Democrats are calling for Congress to shift its focus from solely jihadist-fueled terrorism and hold hearings on the threats from domestic groups in upcoming weeks.</strong> And the Department of Justice has already opened up a domestic-terrorism investigation into the Charleston church shooting.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>The real enemy of the corrupt corporate state is none other than, &ldquo;we the people.&rdquo;</strong></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="250" height="164" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Cohen Department of Justice FBI Middle East MSNBC New York Times None Steve Cohen Thu, 02 Jul 2015 03:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509154 at Red China Goes Redder, Stocks Tumble Despite Government Ban On Bearish Talk <p>Despite more liquidity injections (CNY35 billion 7day RevRepo), archaic deals for brokerages to manipulate their balance sheets, and local reporters noting <strong>China&#39;s propaganda ministry ordering state media to publish only positive opinions about the stock market, not to criticize,</strong> Chinese stocks are in red once again. The record streak of margin debt declines continues and although futures were driven up early on, any strength has been sold into as unwinds wreak havoc on the ponzi wealth creation scheme.<strong> All major indices are in the red with Shenzhen (home of the 500%-club) the worst, down around 2%</strong> (though as CNBC would say &quot;off the lows&quot;).</p> <p>Despite this...</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: China&#39;s propaganda ministry orders state media to publish positive opinions about stock market, NOT to criticize - media sources</p> <p>&mdash; George Chen (@george_chen) <a href="">July 2, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stocks can&#39;t catch a bid...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="314" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China Realized Volatility remains extremely elevated...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 310px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But VIX (implied volatility) has come off highs (though remains in a high risk regime)...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 317px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seems like now - heading into the morning session close - would be a good time for some manipulation. But nope - it&#39;s getting worse...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Because if not this looks awfully ominous...</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><a href=""><em><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 323px;" /></em></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On a side note, Mizuho warns that <em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>since 2000, SHCOMP has never exceeded its recent high within 6 mos. of losing at least 15%; it will take longer for mainland investors to regain risk appetite</strong></span></em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Bloomberg</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="962" height="503" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> China Shenzhen Volatility Thu, 02 Jul 2015 03:21:35 +0000 Tyler Durden 509156 at Payrolls Preview: Goldman Expects Jobs Data To Disappoint <p>Despite much hopeful banter among the mainstream media, <strong>Goldman forecast nonfarm payroll job growth of 220k in June, notably below consensus expectations of 234k</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img height="199" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is roughly in line with Goldman&#39;s expectations for below average job growth over the remainder of 2015. Employment indicators were mixed in June: reported job availability, the employment components of most manufacturing surveys, and ADP employment growth improved, but jobless claims and job cuts both rose slightly and online job ads declined. <strong>Overall, the June data point to a gain below the very strong 280k increase in May</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Arguing for a stronger report:</strong></span></p> <ul> <li><strong>Manufacturing employment indicators.</strong> The employment components of the major manufacturing surveys were better on net in June, though many remain at somewhat soft levels. The employment components of the ISM manufacturing (+3.8pt to 55.5), New York Fed (+3.4pt to +8.7), Richmond Fed (+1pt to +4), Kansas City Fed (+8pt to -9), Dallas Fed (+7pt to -1.2), and Markit PMI surveys improved, while the employment components of the Chicago PMI and Philly Fed (-2.9pt to 3.8) surveys declined. Payroll employment growth in the manufacturing sector picked up a bit to 7k in May but has averaged just 4k over the last four months, below the average gain of 15k seen over the last year. While the manufacturing sector is more exposed to international trade than the services sector and appeared to suffer from the strong dollar earlier in the year, manufacturing indicators have improved recently.</li> <li><strong>Job availability.</strong> The Conference Board&#39;s labor differential&mdash;the net percent of households reporting jobs are plentiful vs. hard to get&mdash;improved by 2.3pt to -4.3 in June, close to the post-recession high.</li> <li><strong>ADP report. </strong>ADP employment rose 237k in June, above consensus expectations. ADP uses outside information to filter its raw data, and some of the strength could reflect the prior-month nonfarm payrolls print. In general, initial print ADP estimates have not been strong predictors of initial print total payroll gains reported by the Labor Department. However, we have found somewhat stronger correlations between ADP and nonfarm payrolls for some industries, in particular trade, transportation and utilities, which saw a solid 50k gain in the June ADP report.</li> </ul> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Arguing for a weaker report:</strong></span></p> <ul> <li><strong>Jobless claims. </strong>The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims in the payrolls reference week rose 10k to 277k. Encouragingly, however, in states with large energy industries such as Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, weekly claims have declined somewhat following large increases in prior months.</li> <li><strong>Online job ads.</strong> According to the Conference Board&#39;s Help Wanted Online (HWOL) report, both new and total online job ads fell in June following large increases in May. The decline in job ads in June occurred across all geographic regions. Among occupational categories, the largest declines came in office and administrative support and in sales.</li> <li><strong>Job cuts. </strong>Announced jobs cuts reported by the Challenger, Gray and Christmas report rose modestly in June on a seasonally adjusted basis, reflecting increases in cuts in the chemical and retail industries. Averaging across May and June, job cuts&ndash;which tend to be an early indicator of actual layoffs&ndash;declined a bit from the previous months, due mostly to a normalization of energy-sector job cuts, but remain slightly on the higher side of recent norms.</li> </ul> <p><u><strong>Neutral factors:</strong></u></p> <ul> <li><strong>Service sector surveys. </strong>The ISM nonmanufacturing and Markit PMI service sector surveys are not yet available for June. Fed surveys were mixed, with the employment component of the New York Fed survey rising sharply (+15.3pt to 20.3), while the employment components of the Richmond Fed (-3pt to +8) and Dallas Fed (-3.3pt to +5.6) surveys declined. Service-sector employment gains rose to 256k in May and averaged 212k over the last year.</li> </ul> <p><strong>We expect the unemployment rate to decline one-tenth to 5.4% in June, from an unrounded 5.508% in May.</strong> The headline U3 unemployment rate declined by 0.8pp over the last year and the broader U6 underemployment rate declined by 1.3pp. Looking further ahead, we expect U3 to reach 5% by early 2016 and U6 to reach our 9% estimate of its full employment rate by the end of 2016.</p> <p><strong>We expect a softer 0.1% increase in average hourly earnings for all workers in June as a result of calendar effects. </strong>Average hourly earnings for all workers rose 2.3% over the year ending in May, while average hourly earnings for production &amp; nonsupervisory workers rose 2%. We see some preliminary signs of a pickup in wage growth, which we expect to reach about 2.75-3% by year-end, still below our 3.5% estimate of the full employment rate.</p> <p><em>Source: Goldman Sachs</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="796" height="264" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Chicago PMI Conference Board Dallas Fed Goldman Sachs goldman sachs Initial Jobless Claims Markit New York Fed Oklahoma Philly Fed Richmond Fed Unemployment Thu, 02 Jul 2015 03:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509153 at A Short History: The Neocon "Clean Break" Grand Design & The "Regime Change" Disasters It Has Fostered <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Dan Sanchez via</em></a>,</p> <p><em><strong>To understand today&rsquo;s crises in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere, one must grasp their shared Lebanese connection. This assertion may seem odd. After all, what is the big deal about Lebanon? That little country hasn&rsquo;t had top&nbsp;headlines since Israel deigned to bomb and invade it in 2006. Yet, to a large extent, the roots of the bloody tangle now enmeshing the Middle East lie in Lebanon: or to be more precise, in the Lebanon policy of Israel.</strong></em></p> <p id="8e90">Rewind to the era before the War on Terror. In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin, Israel&rsquo;s &ldquo;dovish&rdquo; Prime Minister, was assassinated by a right-wing zealot. This precipitated an early election in which Rabin&rsquo;s Labor Party was defeated by the ultra-hawkish Likud, lifting hardliner Benjamin Netanyahu to his first Premiership in 1996.</p> <p id="ab3c">That year, an elite study group produced a policy document for the incipient administration titled, &ldquo;A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.&rdquo; The membership of the Clean Break study group is highly significant, as it included American neoconservatives who would later hold high offices in the Bush Administration and play driving roles in its Middle East policy.</p> <p id="b187">&ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; advised that the new Likud administration adopt a &ldquo;shake it off&rdquo; attitude toward the policy of the old Labor administration which, as the authors claimed, assumed national &ldquo;exhaustion&rdquo; and allowed national &ldquo;retreat.&rdquo; This was the &ldquo;clean break&rdquo; from the past that &ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; envisioned. Regarding Israel&rsquo;s international policy, this meant:</p> <blockquote id="b13e"><p>&ldquo;&hellip;a clean break from the slogan, &lsquo;comprehensive peace&rsquo; to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p id="3db5">Pursuit of <em>comprehensive</em> peace with <em>all</em> of Israel&rsquo;s neighbors was to be abandoned for <em>selective</em> peace with <em>some</em> neighbors (namely Jordan and Turkey) and implacable antagonism toward others (namely Iraq, Syria, and Iran). The weight of its strategic allies would tip the balance of power in favor of Israel, which could then use that leverage to topple the regimes of its strategic adversaries by using covertly managed &ldquo;proxy forces&rdquo; and &ldquo;the principle of preemption.&rdquo; Through such a &ldquo;redrawing of the map of the Middle East,&rdquo; Israel will &ldquo;shape the regional environment,&rdquo; and thus, &ldquo;Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them.&rdquo;</p> <p id="6cb6">&ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; was to Israel (and ultimately to the US) what Otto von Bismarck&rsquo;s &ldquo;Blood and Iron&rdquo; speech was to Germany. As he set the German Empire on a warpath that would ultimately set Europe ablaze, Bismarck said:</p> <blockquote id="3821"><p>&ldquo;Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided?&mdash;?that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849?&mdash;?but by iron and blood.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p id="2c96">Before setting Israel and the US on a warpath that would ultimately set the Middle East ablaze, the Clean Break authors were basically saying: Not through peace accords will the great questions of the day be decided?&mdash;?that was the great mistake of 1978 (at Camp David) and 1993 (at Oslo)?&mdash;?but by &ldquo;divide and conquer&rdquo; and regime change. By wars both aggressive (&ldquo;preemptive&rdquo;) and &ldquo;dirty&rdquo; (covert and proxy).</p> <p><section> <div> <hr /></div> <div> <div> <p class="graf--p graf--startsWithDoubleQuote"><u><strong>&ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; slated Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s Iraq as first up for regime change.</strong>&nbsp;</u>This is highly significant, especially since several members of the Clean Break study group played decisive roles in steering and deceiving the United States into invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam seven years later.</p> <p><img alt="Perle-Richard-AEI" class="wp-image-2012321710 size-medium" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 338px;" /></p> <p id="7fc6">The Clean Break study group&rsquo;s leader, Richard Perle, led the call for Iraqi regime change beginning in the 90s from his perch at the Project for a New American Century and other neocon think tanks. And while serving as chairman of a high level Pentagon advisory committee, Perle helped coordinate the <a href="" target="_blank"><u><span style="color: #0066cc;">neoconservative takeover</span></u></a> of foreign policy in the Bush administration and the final push for war in Iraq.</p> <p><img alt="douglas_feith" class="wp-image-2012321711 size-medium" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 625px;" /></p> <p id="0e3d">Another Clean Breaker, Douglas Feith, was a Perle protege and a key player in that neocon coup. After 9/11, as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Feith created two secret Pentagon offices tasked with cherry-picking, distorting, and repackaging CIA and Pentagon intelligence to help make the case for war.</p> <p id="cb71">Feith&rsquo;s &ldquo;Office of Special Plans&rdquo; manipulated intelligence to promote the falsehood that Saddam had a secret weapons of mass destruction program that posed an imminent chemical, biological, and even nuclear threat. This lie was the main justification used by the Bush administration for the Iraq War.</p> <p id="3921">Feith&rsquo;s &ldquo;Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group&rdquo; trawled through the CIA&rsquo;s intelligence trash to stitch together far-fetched conspiracy theories linking Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s Iraq with Osama bin Laden&rsquo;s Al Qaeda, among other bizarre pairings. Perle put the Group into contact with Ahmed Chalabi, a dodgy anti-Saddam Iraqi exile who would spin even more yarn of this sort.</p> <p><img alt="news-graphics-2007-_647148a" class="wp-image-2012321712 size-medium" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 342px;" /></p> <p id="fae8">Much of the Group&rsquo;s grunt work was performed by David Wurmser, another Perle protege and the primary author of &ldquo;A Clean Break.&rdquo; Wurmser would go on to serve as an advisor to two key Iraq War proponents in the Bush administration: John Bolton at the State Department and Vice President Dick Cheney.</p> <p id="969f">The foregone conclusions generated by these Clean Breaker-led projects faced angry but ineffectual resistance from the Intelligence Community, and are now widely considered scandalously discredited. But they succeeded in helping, perhaps decisively, to overcome both bureaucratic and public resistance to the march to war.</p> <p><img alt="On the second night of war against Iraq, bombs fall on government buildings located in the heart of Baghdad along the Tigris River. Multiple bombs left several buildings in flames and others completely destroyed." class="aligncenter wp-image-2012321713" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 317px;" /></p> <p id="aa33"><em><strong>The Iraq War that followed put the Clean Break into action by grafting it onto America. The War accomplished the Clean Break objective of regime change in Iraq, thus beginning the &ldquo;redrawing of the map of the Middle East.&rdquo; And the attendant &ldquo;Bush Doctrine&rdquo; of preemptive war accomplished the Clean Break objective of &ldquo;reestablishing the principle of preemption&rdquo;</strong></em></p> </div> </div> <p></p></section><section> <div> <hr /></div> <div> <div> <p id="31cf">But why did the Netanyahu/Bush Clean Breakers want to regime change Iraq in the first place? While reference is often made to &ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; as a prologue to the Iraq War, it is often forgotten that the document proposed regime change in Iraq primarily as a &ldquo;means&rdquo; of &ldquo;weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.&rdquo; Overthrowing Saddam in Iraq was merely a stepping stone to &ldquo;foiling&rdquo; and ultimately overthrowing Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria. As Pat Buchanan put it:</p> <blockquote id="ecbb"><p>&ldquo;In the Perle-Feith-Wurmser strategy, Israel&rsquo;s enemy remains Syria, but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p id="8335">Exactly how this was to work is baffling. As the document admitted, although both were Baathist regimes, Assad and Saddam were far more enemies than allies. &ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; floated a convoluted pipe dream involving a restored Hashemite monarchy in Iraq (the same US-backed, pro-Israel dynasty that rules Jordan) using its sway over an Iraqi cleric to turn his co-religionists in Syria against Assad. Instead, the neocons ended up settling for a different pipe(line) dream, <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><u><span style="color: #0066cc;">sold to them by that con-man Chalabi</span></u></a>, involving a pro-Israel, Chalabi-dominated Iraq building a pipeline from Mosul to Haifa. One only wonders why he didn&rsquo;t sweeten the deal by including the Brooklyn Bridge in the sale.</p> <p id="0f79">As incoherent as it may have been, getting at Syria through Iraq is what the neocons wanted. And this is also highly significant for us today, because the US has now fully embraced the objective of regime change in Syria, even with Barack Obama inhabiting the White House instead of George W. Bush.</p> <p id="c47b">Washington is pursuing that objective by partnering with Turkey, Jordan, and the Gulf States in supporting the anti-Assad insurgency in Syria&rsquo;s bloody civil war, and thereby majorly abetting the bin Ladenites (Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS) leading that insurgency. Obama has virtually become an honorary Clean Breaker by pursuing a Clean Break objective (&ldquo;rolling back Syria&rdquo;) using Clean Break strategy (&ldquo;balance of power&rdquo; alliances with select Muslim states) and Clean Break tactics (a covert and proxy &ldquo;dirty war&rdquo;). Of course the neocons are the loudest voices calling for the continuance and escalation of this policy. And Israel is even directly involving itself by providing medical assistance to Syrian insurgents, including Al Qaeda fighters.</p> </div> </div> <p></p></section><section> <div> <hr /></div> <div> <div> <p id="07fb"><u><strong>Another target identified by &ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo; was Iran.</strong></u> This is highly significant, since while the neocons were still riding high in the Bush administration&rsquo;s saddle, they came within an inch of launching a US war on Iran over yet another manufactured and phony WMD crisis. While the Obama administration seems on the verge of finalizing a nuclear/peace deal with the Iranian government in Tehran, the neocons and Netanyahu himself (now Prime Minister once again) have pulled out all the stops to scupper it and put the US and Iran back on a collision course.</p> <p id="3bc8">The neocons are also championing ongoing American support for Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s brutal war in Yemen to restore that country&rsquo;s US-backed former dictator. Simply because the &ldquo;Houthi&rdquo; rebels that overthrew him and took the capital city of Sanaa are Shiites, they are assumed to be a proxy of the Shiite Iranians, and so this is seen by neocons and Saudi theocons alike as a war against Iranian expansion.</p> <p id="8417">Baghdad is a pit stop on the road to Damascus, and Sanaa is a pit stop on the road to Tehran. But, according to the Clean Breakers, Damascus and Tehran are themselves merely pit stops on the road to Beirut.</p> <p id="067a">According to &ldquo;A Clean Break,&rdquo; Israel&rsquo;s main beef with Assad is that:</p> <blockquote id="e5f2"><p>&ldquo;Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p id="ec0b">And its great grief with the Ayatollah is that Iran, like Syria, is one of the:</p> <blockquote id="cb49"><p>&ldquo;&hellip;principal agents of aggression in Lebanon&hellip;&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> </div> </div> <p></p></section><section> <div> <hr /></div> <div> <p id="6282"><u><strong>All regime change roads lead to Lebanon, it would seem. So this brings us back to our original question. What <em>is</em> the big deal about Lebanon?</strong></u></p> <p id="8541">The answer to this question goes back to Israel&rsquo;s very beginnings. Its Zionist founding fathers established the bulk of Israel&rsquo;s territory by dispossessing and ethnically cleansing three-quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs in 1948. Hundreds of thousands of these were driven (sometimes literally in trucks, sometimes force marched with gunshots fired over their heads) into Lebanon, where they were gathered in miserable refugee camps.</p> <p id="de51">In Lebanon the Palestinians who had fled suffered an apartheid state almost as rigid as the one Israel imposed on those who stayed behind, because the dominant Maronite Christians there were so protective of their political and economic privileges in Lebanon&rsquo;s <a href="" rel="nofollow"><u><span style="color: #0066cc;">confessional system</span></u></a>.</p> <p id="77b0">In a 1967 war of aggression, Israel conquered the rest of formerly-British Palestine, annexing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and placing the Palestinians there (many of whom fled there seeking refuge after their homes were taken by the Israelis in 1948) under a brutal, permanent military occupation characterized by continuing&nbsp;dispossession and punctuated by paroxysms of mass murder.</p> <p id="305d">This compounding of their tragedy drove the Palestinians to despair and radicalization, and they subsequently lifted Yasser Arafat and his <em>fedayeen&nbsp;</em>(guerrilla) movement to the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), then headquartered in Jordan.</p> <p id="add3">When the king of Jordan massacred and drove out the PLO, Arafat and the remaining members relocated to Lebanon. There they waged&nbsp;cross-border guerrilla warfare to try to drive Israel out of the occupied territories. The PLO drew heavily from the refugee camps in Lebanon for recruits.</p> <p id="7712">This drew Israel deeply into Lebanese affairs. In 1976, Israel started militarily supporting the Maronite Christians, helping to fuel a sectarian civil war that had recently begun and would rage until 1990. That same year, Syrian forces entered Lebanon, partook in the war, and began a military occupation of the country.</p> <p id="7d74">In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon to drive the PLO back and to recruit a proxy army called the &ldquo;South Lebanon Army&rdquo; (SLA).</p> <p id="6758"><img alt="1101820816_400" class="wp-image-2012321714 alignleft" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 659px;" /></p> <p>In 1982 Israel launched a full scale war in Lebanon, fighting both Syria and the PLO. Osama bin Laden later claimed that it was seeing the wreckage of tall buildings in Beirut toppled by Israel&rsquo;s &ldquo;total war&rdquo; tactics that inspired him to destroy American buildings like the Twin Towers.</p> <p>In this war, Israel tried to install a group of Christian Fascists called the Phalange in power over Lebanon. This failed when the new Phalangist ruler was assassinated. As a reprisal, the Phalange perpetrated, with Israeli connivance, the massacre of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Shiites. (See Murray Rothbard&rsquo;s <a href="" rel="nofollow"><u><span style="color: #0066cc;">moving contemporary coverage</span></u></a> of the atrocity.)</p> <p id="b4da"><img alt="60" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-2012321715" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 660px;" /></p> <p>Israel&rsquo;s 1982 war succeeded in driving the PLO out of Lebanon, although not in destroying it. And of course hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees still linger in Lebanon&rsquo;s camps, yearning for their right of return: a fact that cannot have escaped Israel&rsquo;s notice.</p> <p>The Lebanese Shiites were either ambivalent or welcoming toward being rid of the PLO. But Israel rapidly squandered whatever patience the Shiites had for it by brutally occupying southern Lebanon for years. This led to the creation of Hezbollah, a Shiite militia not particularly concerned with the plight of the Sunni Palestinian refugees, but staunchly dedicated to driving Israel and its proxies (the SLA) completely out of Lebanon.</p> <p id="5fc2">Aided by Syria and Iran, though not nearly to the extent Israel would have us believe, Hezbollah became the chief defensive force directly frustrating Israel&rsquo;s efforts to dominate and exploit its northern neighbor. In 1993 and again in 1996 (the year of &ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo;), Israel launched still more major military operations in Lebanon, chiefly against Hezbollah, but also bombing Lebanon&rsquo;s general population and infrastructure, trying to use terrorism to motivate the people and the central government to crack down on Hezbollah.</p> <p id="d356">This is the context of &ldquo;A Clean Break&rdquo;: Israel&rsquo;s obsession with crushing Hezbollah and dominating Lebanon, even if it means turning most of the Middle East upside down (regime changing Syria, Iran, and Iraq) to do it.</p> </div> <p></p></section> <div> <hr /></div> <div> <p id="77da"><u><strong>9/11 paved the way for realizing the Clean Break, using the United States as a gigantic proxy, thanks to the Israel Lobby&rsquo;s massive influence in Congress and the neocons&rsquo; newly won dominance in the Bush Administration.</strong></u></p> <p id="3c7b">Much to their chagrin, however, its first phase (the Iraq War) did not turn out so well for the Clean Breakers. The blundering American grunts&nbsp;ended up installing the most vehemently pro-Iran Shiite faction in power in Baghdad, and now Iranian troops are even stationed and fighting inside Iraq. Oops. And as it turns out, Chalabi may have been an Iranian agent all along. (But don&rsquo;t worry, Mr. Perle, I&rsquo;m sure he&rsquo;ll eventually come through with that pipeline.)</p> <p id="81f3">This disastrous outcome has given both Israel and Saudi Arabia nightmares about an emerging &ldquo;Shia Crescent&rdquo; arcing from Iran through Iraq into Syria. And now the new Shiite &ldquo;star&rdquo; in Yemen completes this menacing &ldquo;Star and Crescent&rdquo; picture. The fears of the Sunni Saudis are partially based on sectarianism. But what Israel sees in this picture is a huge potential regional support network for its nemesis Hezbollah.</p> <p><img alt="060731_DOMCNNL1R1" class="wp-image-2012321716" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 669px;" /></p> <p id="4da6">Israel would have none of it. In 2006, it launched its second full scale war in Lebanon, only to be driven back once again by that damned Hezbollah. It was time to start thinking big and regional again. As mentioned above, the Bush war on Iran didn&rsquo;t pan out. (This was largely because the CIA got its revenge on the neocons by releasing a report stating plainly that Iran was not anything close to a nuclear threat.) So instead the neocons and the Saudis drew the US into what Seymour Hersh called &ldquo;the Redirection&rdquo; in 2007, which involved clandestine &ldquo;dirty war&rdquo; support for Sunni jihadists to counter Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.</p> <p id="97ac">When the 2011 Arab Spring wave of popular uprisings spread to Syria, the Redirection was put into overdrive. The subsequent US-led dirty war discussed above had the added bonus of drawing Hezbollah into the bloody quagmire to try to save Assad, whose regime now finally seems on the verge of collapse.</p> </div> </p><p id="c008"><u><strong>The Clean Break is back, baby! Assad is going, Saddam is gone, and who knows: the Ayatollah may never get his nuclear deal anyway. But most importantly for &ldquo;securing the realm,&rdquo; Hezbollah is on the ropes.</strong></u></p> <p id="1c3f"><img alt="shocking-images-iraq-war-001 3.23.13" class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-2012321718" src="" style="width: 500px; height: 372px;" /></p> <p>And so what if the Clean Break was rather messy and broke so many bodies and buildings along the way? Maybe it&rsquo;s like what Lenin said about omelets and eggs: you just can&rsquo;t make a Clean Break without breaking a few million Arabs and a few thousand Americans. And what about all those fanatics now running rampant throughout large swaths of the world thanks to the Clean Break wars, mass-executing Muslim &ldquo;apostates&rdquo; and Christian &ldquo;infidels&rdquo; and carrying out terrorist attacks on westerners? Again, the Clean Breakers must remind themselves, keep your eye on the omelet and forget the eggs.</p> <p id="0919">Well, dear reader, you and I are the eggs. <strong><em><u>And if we don&rsquo;t want to see our world broken any further by the imperial clique of murderers in Washington for the sake of the petty regional ambitions of a tiny clique of murderers in Tel Aviv, we must insist on American politics making a clean break from the neocons, and US foreign policy making a clean break from Israel.</u></em></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="478" height="293" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Germany headlines Iran Iraq Israel Middle East Neocons None Obama Administration Saudi Arabia Turkey White House Thu, 02 Jul 2015 02:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509151 at "When People Jump In Even Though It's Overpriced, That's A Bubble" Shiller Warns <p>Bob Shiller moves beyond his normal fence-sitting perspective and goes full Marc Faber in this brief clip. Noting that his CAPE indicator of equity market valuation is flashing red (highest since 1929, 2000, and 2007), Shiller warns it is <em><strong>"when people jump into stocks even though they know valuations are high... that's a bubble," slamming CNBC's rosy perspective </strong></em>reflecting that this is the same as the dotcom rise. Notably he warns specifically "The US equity market is one of the highest in the world," and now is a good time to diversify away from it. Additionally Shiller warns of the <strong>slowing momentum in the housing market... warning that mean-reversion is likely with risk for further decline</strong>.</p> <p>Shiller also slams the bull$hit addage that "booms don't die of old age..." warning that inventories across goods-producing industries are building worryingly...</p> <p>As Shiller explains...</p> <p><iframe src="" width="480" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe></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="276" height="181" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Housing Market Marc Faber Thu, 02 Jul 2015 02:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509146 at Russia Or China - Washington's Conflict Over Who Is Public Enemy #1 <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Michael Klare via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>America&rsquo;s grand strategy, its long-term blueprint for advancing national interests and countering major adversaries, is in total disarray.</strong> Top officials lurch from crisis to crisis, improvising strategies as they go, but rarely pursuing a consistent set of policies. Some <a href="" target="_blank">blame</a> this indecisiveness on a lack of resolve at the White House, but the real reason lies deeper. <strong>It lurks in a disagreement among foreign policy elites over whether Russia or China constitutes America&rsquo;s principal great-power adversary.</strong></p> <p><strong>Knowing one&rsquo;s enemy is usually considered the essence of strategic planning. </strong>During the Cold War, enemy number one was, of course, unquestioned: it was the Soviet Union, and everything Washington did was aimed at diminishing Moscow&rsquo;s reach and power. When the USSR imploded and disappeared, all that was left to challenge U.S. dominance were a few &ldquo;rogue states.&rdquo; In the wake of 9/11, however, President Bush <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> a &ldquo;global war on terror,&rdquo; envisioning a decades-long campaign against Islamic extremists and their allies everywhere on the planet. From then on, with every country said to be either with us or against us, the chaos set in. Invasions, occupations, raids, drone wars ensued -- all of it, in the end, <a href=",_a_record_of_unparalleled_failure/" target="_blank">disastrous</a> -- while China used its economic clout to gain new influence abroad and Russia began to menace its neighbors.</p> <p><strong>Among Obama administration policymakers and their Republican opponents, the <a href="" target="_blank">disarray</a> in strategic thinking is striking.</strong> There is general agreement on the need to crush the Islamic State (ISIS), deny Iran the bomb, and <a href="" target="_blank">give Israel</a> all the weapons it wants, but not much else. There is certainly no agreement on how to allocate America&rsquo;s strategic resources, including its military ones, even in relation to ISIS and Iran. Most crucially, there is no agreement on the question of whether a resurgent Russia or an ever more self-assured China should head Washington&rsquo;s enemies list. Lacking such a consensus, it has become increasingly difficult to forge long-term strategic plans. And yet, while it is easy to decry the current lack of consensus on this point, there is no reason to assume that the anointment of a common enemy -- a new Soviet Union -- will make this country and the world any safer than it is today.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Choosing the Enemy</strong></span></p> <p><strong>For some Washington strategists, including many prominent Republicans, Russia under the helm of Vladimir Putin represents the single most potent threat to America&rsquo;s global interests, and so deserves the focus of U.S. attention. </strong>&ldquo;Who can doubt that Russia will do what it pleases if its aggression goes unanswered?&rdquo; Jeb Bush <a href="" target="_blank">asserted</a> on June 9th in Berlin during his first trip abroad as a potential presidential contender. In countering Putin, he noted, &ldquo;our alliance [NATO], our solidarity, and our actions are essential if we want to preserve the fundamental principles of our international order, an order that free nations have sacrificed so much to build.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>For many in the Obama administration, however, it is not Russia but China that poses the greatest threat to American interests. </strong>They feel that its containment should take priority over other considerations. If the U.S. fails to enact a new trade pact with its Pacific allies, Obama <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> in April, &ldquo;China, the 800-pound gorilla in Asia, will create its own set of rules,&rdquo; further enriching Chinese companies and reducing U.S. access &ldquo;in the fastest-growing, most dynamic economic part of the world.&rdquo;</p> <p>In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the military strategists of a seemingly all-powerful United States -- the unchallenged &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">hyperpower</a>&rdquo; of the immediate post-Cold War era -- <a href="" target="_blank">imagined</a> the country being capable of fighting full-scale conflicts on two (or even three fronts) at once. <strong>The shock of the twenty-first century in Washington has been the discovery that the U.S. is <a href="" target="_blank">not all-powerful</a> and that it <a href="" target="_blank">can&rsquo;t successfully</a> take on two major adversaries simultaneously (if it ever could).</strong> It can, of course, take relatively modest steps to parry the initiatives of both Moscow and Beijing while also fighting ISIS and other localized threats, as the Obama administration is indeed attempting to do. However, it cannot also pursue a consistent, long-range strategy aimed at neutralizing a major adversary as in the Cold War. Hence a decision to focus on either Russia or China as enemy number one would have significant implications for U.S. policy and the general tenor of world affairs.</p> <p><strong>Choosing Russia as the primary enemy, for example, would inevitably result in a further buildup of NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the delivery of major weapons systems to Ukraine. </strong>The Obama administration has consistently opposed such deliveries, <a href="" target="_blank">claiming</a> that they would only inflame the ongoing conflict and sabotage peace talks. For those who view Russia as the greatest threat, however, such reluctance only encourages Putin to escalate his Ukrainian intervention and poses a long-term threat to U.S. interests. In light of Putin&rsquo;s ruthlessness, <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a major advocate of a Russia-centric posture, the president&rsquo;s unwillingness to better arm the Ukrainians &ldquo;is one of the most shameful and dishonorable acts I have seen in my life.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>On the other hand, choosing China as America&rsquo;s principal adversary means a relatively restrained stance on the Ukrainian front coupled with a more vigorous response to Chinese claims and <a href="" target="_blank">base building</a> in the South China Sea. </strong>This was the message delivered to Chinese leaders by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in late May at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Honolulu. Claiming that Chinese efforts to establish bases in the South China Sea were &ldquo;out of step&rdquo; with international norms, he <a href="" target="_blank">warned</a> of military action in response to any Chinese efforts to impede U.S. operations in the region. &ldquo;There should be... no mistake about this -- the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.&rdquo;</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><img align="left" hspace="6" src="" vspace="6" /></a>If you happen to be a Republican (other than Rand Paul) <a href="" target="_blank">running</a> for president, it&rsquo;s easy enough to pursue an all-of-the-above strategy, calling for full-throttle campaigns against China, Russia, Iran, Syria, ISIS, and any other adversary that comes to mind. This, however, is rhetoric, not strategy. Eventually, one or another approach is likely to emerge as the winner and the course of history will be set.</p> <p><u><strong>The &ldquo;Pivot&rdquo; to Asia</strong></u></p> <p>The Obama administration&rsquo;s fixation on the &ldquo;800-pound gorilla&rdquo; that is China came into focus sometime in 2010-2011. Plans were then being made for what was assumed to be the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and the winding down of the American military presence in Afghanistan. At the time, the administration&rsquo;s top officials conducted a systematic review of America&rsquo;s long-term strategic interests and came to a <a href="" target="_blank">consensus</a> that could be summed up in three points: Asia and the Pacific Ocean had become the key global theater of international competition; China had taken advantage of a U.S. preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan to bolster its presence there; and to remain the world&rsquo;s number one power, the United States would have to <a href="" target="_blank">prevent</a> China from gaining more ground.</p> <p>This posture, spelled out in a series of statements by President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other top administration officials, was initially called the &ldquo;pivot to Asia&rdquo; and has since been relabeled a &ldquo;rebalancing&rdquo; to that region. Laying out the new strategy in 2011, Clinton <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a>, &ldquo;The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics.&nbsp; Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas... it boasts almost half of the world&rsquo;s population [and] includes many of the key engines of the global economy.&rdquo; As the U.S. withdrew from its wars in the Middle East, &ldquo;one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in substantially increased investment -- diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise -- in the Asia-Pacific region.&rdquo;</p> <p>This strategy, administration officials claimed then and still insist, was never specifically aimed at containing the rise of China, but that, of course, was a diplomatic fig leaf on what was meant to be a full-scale challenge to a rising power. It was obvious that any strengthened American presence in the Pacific would indeed pose a direct<strong> </strong>challenge to Beijing&rsquo;s regional aspirations. &ldquo;My guidance is clear,&rdquo; Obama <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> the Australian parliament that same November. &ldquo;As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region. We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace.&rdquo;</p> <p>Implementation of the pivot, Obama and Clinton <a href="" target="_blank">explained</a>, would include support for or cooperation with a set of countries that ring China, including increased military aid to Japan and the Philippines, diplomatic outreach to Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and other nations in Beijing&rsquo;s economic orbit, military overtures to India, and the conclusion of a major trade arrangement, the <a href="" target="_blank">Trans-Pacific Partnership</a> (TPP), that would conveniently include most countries<strong> </strong>in the region but exclude China.</p> <p>Many in Washington have <a href="" target="_blank">commented</a> on how much more limited the administration&rsquo;s actions in the Pacific have proven to be than the initial publicity suggested. Of course, Washington soon found itself re-embroiled in the Greater Middle East and shuttling many of its military resources back into that region, leaving less than expected available for a rebalancing to Asia. Still, the White House continues to pursue a strategic blueprint aimed at bolstering America&rsquo;s encirclement of China. &ldquo;No matter how many hotspots emerge elsewhere, we will continue to deepen our enduring commitment to this critical region,&rdquo; National Security Adviser Susan Rice <a href="" target="_blank">declared</a> in November 2013.</p> <p><strong>For Obama and his top officials, despite the challenge of ISIS and of disintegrating states like Yemen and Libya wracked with extremist violence, China remains the sole adversary capable of taking over as the world&rsquo;s top power.&nbsp; (Its economy already <a href="" target="_blank">officially has</a>.) To them, this translates into a simple message: China must be restrained through all means available.</strong> This does not mean, they claim,<strong> </strong>ignoring Russia and other potential foes. The White House has, for example, signaled that it will begin <a href="" target="_blank">storing</a> heavy weaponry, including tanks, in Eastern Europe for future use by any U.S. troops rotated into the region to counter Russian pressure against countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. And, of course, the Obama administration is continuing to up the ante against ISIS, most recently <a href="" target="_blank">dispatching</a> yet more U.S. military advisers to Iraq. They insist, however, that none of these concerns will deflect the administration from the primary task of containing China.</p> <p><u><strong>Countering the Resurgent Russian Bear</strong></u></p> <p>Not everyone in Washington shares this China-centric outlook. While most policymakers agree that China poses a potential long-term challenge to U.S. interests, an oppositional crew of them sees that threat as neither acute nor immediate. After all, China remains America&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">second-leading</a> trading partner (after Canada) and its largest supplier of imported goods. Many U.S. companies do extensive business in China, and so favor a cooperative relationship. Though the leadership in Beijing is clearly trying to secure what it sees as its interests in Asian waters, its focus remains primarily economic and its leaders seek to maintain friendly relations with the U.S., while regularly engaging in high-level diplomatic exchanges. Its president, Xi Jinping, is expected to <a href="" target="_blank">visit Washington</a> in September.</p> <p><strong>Vladimir Putin&rsquo;s Russia, on the other hand, looks far more threatening to many U.S. strategists.</strong> Its annexation of Crimea and its ongoing support for separatist forces in eastern Ukraine are viewed as direct and visceral <a href="" target="_blank">threats</a> on the Eurasian mainland to what they see as a U.S.-dominated world order. President Putin, moreover, has made no secret of his <a href="" target="_blank">contempt</a> for the West and his <a href="" target="_blank">determination</a> to pursue Russian national interests wherever they might lead. For many who remember the Cold War era -- and that includes most senior U.S. policymakers -- this looks a lot like the menacing behavior of the former Soviet Union; for them, Russia appears to be posing an existential threat to the U.S. in a way that China does not.</p> <p>Among those who are most representative of this dark, eerily familiar, and retrograde outlook is Senator McCain. Recently, offering an <a href="" target="_blank">overview</a> of the threats facing America and the West, he put Russia at the top of the list:</p> <p style="padding-left: 20px; padding-right: 20px;"><em><strong>&ldquo;In the heart of Europe, we see Russia emboldened by a significant modernization of its military, resurrecting old imperial ambitions, and intent on conquest once again. For the first time in seven decades on this continent, a sovereign nation has been invaded and its territory annexed by force. Worse still, from central Europe to the Caucuses, people sense Russia&rsquo;s shadow looming larger, and in the darkness, liberal values, democratic sovereignty, and open economies are being undermined.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p>For McCain and others who share his approach, there is no question about how the U.S. should respond: by bolstering NATO, providing major weapons systems to the Ukrainians, and countering Putin in every conceivable venue. In addition, like many Republicans, McCain<strong> </strong><a href="" target="_blank">favors</a> increased production via hydro-fracking of domestic shale gas for export as liquefied natural gas to reduce the European Union&rsquo;s reliance on Russian gas supplies.</p> <p><strong>McCain&rsquo;s views are <a href="" target="_blank">shared</a> by many of the Republican candidates for president. </strong>Jeb Bush, for instance, <a href="" target="_blank">described</a> Putin as &ldquo;a ruthless pragmatist who will push until someone pushes back.&rdquo; Senator Ted Cruz, when asked on Fox News what he would do to counter Putin, typically <a href="" target="_blank">replied</a>, &ldquo;One, we need vigorous sanctions&hellip; Two, we should immediately reinstate the antiballistic missile batteries in Eastern Europe that President Obama canceled in 2009 in an effort to appease Russia. And three, we need to open up the export of liquid natural gas, which will help liberate Ukraine and Eastern Europe.&rdquo; Similar comments from other candidates and potential candidates are commonplace.</p> <p>As the 2016 election season looms, expect the anti-Russian rhetoric to heat up. Many of the Republican candidates are likely to attack Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic candidate, for her role in the Obama administration&rsquo;s 2009 &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">reset</a>&rdquo; of ties with Moscow, an attempted warming of relations that is now <a href="" target="_blank">largely considered</a> a failure. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s the one that literally brought the reset button to the Kremlin,&rdquo; <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> former Texas Governor Rick Perry in April.</p> <p>If any of the Republican candidates other than Paul prevails in 2016, anti-Russianism is likely to become the centerpiece of foreign policy with far-reaching consequences. &ldquo;No leader abroad draws more Republican criticism than Putin does,&rdquo; a conservative website <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a> in June. &ldquo;The candidates&rsquo; message is clear: If any of them are elected president, U.S. relations with Russia will turn even more negative.&rdquo;</p> <p><u><strong>The Long View</strong></u></p> <p>Whoever wins in 2016, what Yale historian Paul Kennedy has termed &ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">imperial overstretch</a>&rdquo; will surely continue to be an overwhelming reality for Washington. Nonetheless, count on a greater focus of attention and resources on one of those two contenders for the top place on Washington&rsquo;s enemies list. A Democratic victory spearheaded by Hillary Clinton is likely to result in a more effectively focused emphasis on China as the country&rsquo;s greatest long-term threat, while a Republican victory would undoubtedly sanctify Russia as enemy number one.</p> <p>For those of us residing outside Washington, this choice may appear to have few immediate consequences. The defense budget <a href="" target="_blank">will rise</a> in either case; troops will, as now, be shuttled desperately around the hot spots of the planet, and so on. Over the long run, however, don&rsquo;t think for a second that the choice won&rsquo;t matter.</p> <p><strong>A stepped-up drive to counter Russia will inevitably produce a grim, unpredictable Cold War-like atmosphere of suspicion, muscle-flexing, and periodic crises.</strong> More U.S. troops will be deployed to Europe; American nuclear weapons may <a href="" target="_blank">return</a> there; and saber rattling, nuclear or otherwise, will increase. (Note that Moscow recently <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> a decision to add another 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its already impressive nuclear arsenal and recall Senator Cruz&rsquo;s proposal for deploying U.S. anti-missile batteries in Eastern Europe.) For those of us who can remember the actual Cold War, this is hardly an appealing prospect.</p> <p><strong>A renewed focus on China would undoubtedly prove no less unnerving. </strong>It would involve the deployment of additional U.S. naval and air forces to the Pacific and an attendant risk of armed confrontation over China&rsquo;s expanded military presence in the East and South China Seas. Cooperation on trade and the climate would be imperiled, along with the health of the<strong> </strong>global economy, while the flow of ideas and people between East and West would be further constricted. (In a sign of the times, China recently <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> new curbs on the operations of foreign nongovernmental organizations.) Although that country possesses far fewer nuclear weapons than Russia, it is <a href="" target="_blank">modernizing</a> its arsenal and the risk of nuclear confrontation would undoubtedly increase as well.</p> <p>In short, the options for American global policy, post-2016, might be characterized as either grim and chaotic or even grimmer, if more focused. Most of us will fare equally badly under either of those outcomes, though defense contractors and others in what President Dwight Eisenhower first dubbed the &ldquo;military-industrial complex&rdquo; will have a field day. Domestic needs like health, education, infrastructure, and the environment will suffer either way, while prospects for peace and climate stability will recede.</p> <p><u><em><strong>A country without a coherent plan for advancing its national interests is a sorry thing. Worse yet, however, as we may find out in the years to come, would be a country forever on the brink of crisis and conflict with a beleaguered, nuclear-armed rival.</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="253" height="195" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Afghanistan China Eastern Europe European Union Fox News Global Economy India Iran Iraq Israel Japan John McCain Middle East national security Natural Gas None Obama Administration President Obama Reality Ukraine Vladimir Putin White House Thu, 02 Jul 2015 01:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509149 at The "Smartest Money" Is Liquidating Stocks At A Record Pace: "Selling Everything That’s Not Bolted Down" <p>Just over two years ago, <a href="">at the Milken global conference</a>, the head of Apollo Group Leon Black said that "this is an almost biblical opportunity to reap gains and sell" adding that his firm has been a net seller for the last 15 months, ending with the emphatic punchline that Apollo is "<strong>selling everything that is not nailed down.</strong>" </p> <p>Roughly at that time the great stock buyback binge began, which coupled with two more central banks entering the stock levitation "wealth effect" bonanza, provided ample opportunity for the biggest asset managers in the world to sell into. </p> <p>But while we knew that both "vanilla" institutions and hedge funds were actively selling in the public markets, it was not until last week when we got the most candid glimpse of just how much. We described it <a href="">last week </a>when citing Bank of America who said that "BofAML clients were big net sellers of US stocks in the amount of $4.1bn, following four weeks of net buying. <strong>Net sales were the largest since January 2008 and led by institutional clients—after three weeks of net buying, institutional clients’ net sales last week were the largest in our data history.</strong>"</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="483" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Today, we got definitive confirmation that the truly "smartest money in the room", those who dabble not in the bipolar public markets but in private equity had indeed started "selling everything that is not nailed down" several years ago hitting a climax this past quarter, when <a href="">Bloomberg reported </a>that two years after Leon Black's infamous statement, "<strong>other private-equity firms are following suit - dumping stakes into the markets at a record clip.</strong>"</p> <p>According to Bloomberg data, firms including Blackstone Group and TPG have been "capitalizing on record stock markets around the world to sell shares, <strong>mostly in their companies that have already gone public</strong>. <strong>Globally, buyout firms conducted 97 stock offerings in the second quarter, more than in any other three-month period.</strong>"</p> <p>And who are these core investors selling their equity stakes to: mostly to <strong>the <a href="">companies themselves</a>...</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="395" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>... but what's worse, as directors and ultimate decision-makers<strong>, they are forcing their very companies to lever up even more to <a href="">fund these buybacks</a> of "insider" stock!</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="346" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since Black made his comments in April 2013, the MSCI World Index has gained 18%, stretching valuations even higher. Bloomberg adds that "headwinds that threaten to rattle global equities are everywhere -- from the Greek and Puerto Rican debt crises to an eventual increase in U.S. interest rates" but in a world in which central banks are the first and last backstop to a market drop, there is "no risk"... which is why the insiders are taking every advantage to liquidate.</p> <p><strong>"It’s clear that we are currently in an environment of frothy valuations,” </strong>said Lise Buyer, founder of IPO advisory firm Class V Group. </p> <p>Her disturbing punchline: "<strong>The insiders - those with the most knowledge - are finding this a very good time to take some money off the table.</strong>"</p> <p>This year, private-equity firms sold $73 billion of their buyouts to the public, a record amount over a six month period, Bloomberg data show.</p> <p>Some examples:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The biggest such deal this year came in May when Blackstone sold 90 million shares, or $2.69 billion worth, of hotel-chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. in a secondary offering. Blackstone took the company private in 2007 for $26 billion and did an IPO in December 2013, raising $2.7 billion. After the latest sale, Blackstone’s stake in Hilton fell to 46 percent from 82 percent before the IPO, Bloomberg data show. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The largest European exit so far this year was the $2.46 billion IPO of online car dealership Auto Trader Group Plc in London, where Apax Partners sold shares. In Asia, private-equity firm China Aerospace Investment Holdings Ltd. sold 2.3 million shares in a $2.12 billion IPO of China National Nuclear Power Co. </p> </blockquote> <p>Which leads to a paradox: the PE firms, now focused on selling the remainder of their equity positions in massive peak credit bubble LBOs from the 2006-2007 period via secondaries have nothing left to take public, and as a result&nbsp; they’re doing fewer initial offerings: <em>PE-backed IPOs have had the slowest start to the year since 2010, selling $8.2 billion in stock.</em></p> <p>The reason: <strong>"many of the larger companies that were swooped up during the buyout boom that ended in 2007 have already gone public. Today’s selling is largely private-equity owners getting out of those assets.</strong>"</p> <p>“It’s been a lot more about harvesting public positions than creating new ones through IPOs,” said Cully Davis, co-head of equity capital markets for the Americas at Credit Suisse Group AG. “<strong>The markets are open and the financial sponsors are pretty astute about timing their exits.”</strong></p> <p>In other words, the insiders are not only selling, they are liquidating every last share they can find. </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>In an echo of Leon Black, Frank Maturo, vice chairman of equity capital markets at UBS AG, said, “<strong>Private equity is selling everything that’s not bolted down. With the robust valuations in today’s market, they are accelerating monetizations of companies they own</strong>.”</p> </blockquote> <p>But what does the smart money know, anyway... aside, of course, from selling when they can not when they have to.</p> <p>And now back to CNBC and their paper-money "trader" talking heads saying there is only upside from here to eternity. Let's see if we have these right: "the money is still on the sidelines", "there is a wall of worry", "Greece is a dip-buying opportunity", actually "everything is a dip-buying opportunity", "stocks are not a bubble, it is bonds that are a bubble", "the economic recovery is just around the corner" and "<a href="">99% percentile valuations </a>are just slightly stretched if you seasonally-adjusted them enough times."</p> <p>That about covers it. </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="437" height="336" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of America Bank of America Capital Markets Central Banks China Credit Suisse Greece Leon Black Nuclear Power Private Equity recovery Smart Money Wall of Worry Thu, 02 Jul 2015 00:58:27 +0000 Tyler Durden 509152 at "Heartbreaking" Scene Unfolds At Greek Banks As Pensioners Clamor For Cash <p>1,000 Greek bank branches chanced a stampede in order to open their doors to the country's retirees on Wednesday.</p> <p>The scene was somewhat chaotic as pensioners formed long lines and the country’s elderly attempted to squeeze through the doors in order to access pension payments. </p> <p>As Bloomberg reports, payouts were rationed and disbursals were limited according to last name. Here’s <a href="">more</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>It’s a day of fresh indignities for the people of Greece.</em></p> <p><em><br /></em></p> <p><em>About a third of the nation’s depleted banks cracked open their doors after being closed for three days. But all they did was ration pension payments, hours after the country became the first advanced economy to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund and its bailout program expired.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>On the third day of capital controls, a few dozen pensioners lined up by 7 a.m. at a central Athens branch of the National Bank of Greece, an hour before opening time. <strong>They were to receive a maximum of 120 euros ($133), compared with the average monthly payment of about 600 euros. Many left with nothing after the manager said only those with last names starting with the letters A through K would get paid.</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“Not only will I have to queue for hours at the bank in the hope of getting 120 euros, but I’ll have a two-hour round trip,” said Dimitris Danaos, 77, a retired local government worker who was making the bus journey from his home outside the Greek capital to the suburb of Glyfada.&nbsp;</em></p> </blockquote> <p>AFP has <a href="">more color</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>In chaotic scenes, thousands of angry elderly Greeks on Wednesday besieged the nation’s crisis-hit banks, which have reopened to allow them to withdraw vital cash from their state pensions.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>“Let them go to hell!” said one pensioner waiting to get his money, after failed talks between Athens and international creditors sparked a week-long banking shutdown.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Greek government, which closed the banks and imposed strict capital controls after cash machines ran dry, has temporarily reopened almost 1,000 branches to allow pensioners without cards to withdraw 120 euros ($133) to last the rest of the week.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The move has again sparked lengthy queues at banks across Greece — and outrage from many retirees who are regarded as among the most vulnerable in society, exposed to a vicious and lengthy economic downturn.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Under banking restrictions imposed all week, ordinary Greeks can withdraw up to 60 euros a day for each credit or debit card — but many of the elderly population do not have cards.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Another customer, a retired mariner who asked not to be named, told AFP he had no cash to buy crucial medicine for his sick wife.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>“I worked for 50 years on the sea and now I am the beggar for 120 euros,” he said.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>“I took out 120 euros — but I have no money for medication for my wife, who had an operation and is ill,” he added.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em><img src="" width="565" height="314" /><br /></em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Here’s a look at the scene at National Bank in Athens courtesy of <a href="">The Telegraph</a>:</p> <script src=";width=620&amp;height=349&amp;deepLinkEmbedCode=92ZmR5dTq1wre81u0wwKgJn9e3UBp5HO&amp;video_pcode=RvbGU6Z74XE_a3bj4QwRGByhq9h2&amp;playerBrandingId=ZTIxYmJjZDM2NWYzZDViZGRiOWJjYzc5&amp;thruParam_tmgui[relatedVideo]"></script><p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">As we </span><a href="" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">outlined in detail earlier this morning,</a><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"> the latest polls show a slim majority of Greeks plan to vote "no" in the upcoming referendum (which, as far as we know, will still go on).&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">Many analysts and commentators say a "oxi" vote would likely lead to a euro exit and with it, far more pain for the country's retirees.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">Indeed, as we noted on Tuesday in "<a href="">For Greeks, The Nightmare Is Just Beginning: Here Come The Depositor Haircuts</a>," Goldman has suggested that only once Syriza's "core constituency of pensioners and public sector employees" sees the cash reserves (to which they have heretofore enjoyed first claim on) run dry, will they "</span><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 20.8000011444092px;">face the direct implications of the liquidity squeeze the political impasse between Greece and its creditors has created. And only then will the alignment of domestic political interests within Greece change to allow a way forward."</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 20.8000011444092px;">And so, as sad as it is, the scene that unfolded today in front of the roughly one-third of Greek bank branches which opened their doors to pensioners, may have been preordained by the powers that be in Burssels because as we said yesterday evening,</span>&nbsp;breaking Syriza's voter base may have been necessary in order for the Troika to finally force Tsipras to relent or else risk being driven from office, after capital controls and depositor haircuts force public sector employees to collectively cry "Uncle", beg Europe to take it back, and present Merkel with Tsipras and Varoufakis' heads on a proverbial (and metaphorical, we hope) silver platter.&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="565" height="314" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Creditors Greece International Monetary Fund Thu, 02 Jul 2015 00:41:01 +0000 Tyler Durden 509099 at Who Will Be The Last To Crash? <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Paul Rosenberg via</em></a>,</p> <p>This is the question that astute investors are forced to ask themselves these days. No reasonable person believes that a system of ever-expanding debt can resolve painlessly. It simply cannot happen&hellip; not, at least, until 2+2 stops equaling four.</p> <p>But the international money system, while deeply interconnected, can implode in sections. In fact, it&rsquo;s highly unlikely that it will crash as a single unit.</p> <p>So, if you have significant moneys to invest, you end up coming back to our question: <strong><em>Who will be the last to crash?</em></strong> Once you decide that, you can concentrate your assets in that place, hoping to come through the crash with at least most of your value intact.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s look at several aspects of this:</p> <h3><strong>#1: Background statistics:</strong></h3> <ul> <li> <p>World debt is upwards of $200 trillion, and growing steadily. World GDP is $70-some trillion, only about a third of the debt. This debt will not be paid back. Massive amounts of debt will have to be written off in losses.</p> </li> <li> <p>US debt is north of $18 trillion. (Amazingly, *cough*, it hasn&rsquo;t changed in months *cough*.) Forward promises are north of $200 trillion, meaning that a child born today is responsible to repay $625,000. And since roughly half the US population pays no income tax&hellip; and presuming that this newborn will be <a href="">a member of the productive half</a>&hellip; he or she is born $1.25 million in debt. Such repayments will never happen. Most of those debts will not be repaid.</p> </li> <li> <p>Japan is worse off than the US. The UK is bad. Many EU countries are worse.</p> </li> </ul> <p>These numbers, by the way, are ignoring more than a quadrillion dollars of derivatives and lots of other monkey business. (Rehypothecation, *cough*, *cough*.)</p> <h3><strong>#2: No one wants to rock the boat.</strong></h3> <p>Informed men and women understand that the entire system is unstable. Probably a majority of them are simply hoping that it holds together until they die. A few dream that magical new inventions will kick-start the system into a new orgy of debt, blowing an even larger super-bubble that lasts through their hopefully longer lifetimes.</p> <p>But informed people also know that the system stands almost wholly upon confidence. If the sheep get scared enough to run away, the whole thing ends&hellip; and no one is ready for it to end.</p> <p>So, heavy investors speak in soothing tones. They don&rsquo;t want to spook the masses.</p> <h3><strong>#3: </strong><strong>We&rsquo;ve already had warning shots.</strong></h3> <p>Last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a horrifying paper, called <a href="" target="_new">The Fund&rsquo;s Lending Framework and Sovereign Debt</a>. That paper, in turn, was based upon one from December of 2013, called <a href="" target="_new">Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Some Lessons Learned and Those Forgotten</a>.</p> <p>The December 2013 document, right at the start, says that &ldquo;financial repression&rdquo; is necessary. Here&rsquo;s what it says (emphasis mine):</p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;">The claim is that advanced countries do not need to resort to the standard toolkit of emerging markets, including debt restructurings and conversions, higher inflation, capital controls and <em><strong>other forms of financial repression</strong></em>&hellip; [T]his claim is at odds with the historical track record of most advanced economies, where debt restructuring or conversions, <strong><em>financial repression</em></strong>, and a tolerance for higher inflation, or a combination of these were an integral part of the resolution of significant past debt overhangs.</p> <p>So, in order to fix debt overhangs &ndash; currently at horrifying levels &ndash; financial repression is not just an option, but <em>required</em>.</p> <p>And of course, they&rsquo;ve already had a trial run, when they stole funds directly from individual bank accounts in Cyprus.</p> <p>The IMF report goes on to say:</p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;">[G]overnments can stuff debt into local pension funds and insurance companies, forcing them through regulation to accept far lower rates of return than they might otherwise demand.</p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;">[D]omestic defaults, restructurings, or conversions are particularly difficult to document and can sometimes be disguised as &ldquo;voluntary.&rdquo;</p> <p>We have a pretty good idea of what&rsquo;s coming down the pike.</p> <p>But again, <a href="" target="_new">Goldman&rsquo;s Muppets</a> are not to be told about this. And truthfully, most of them don&rsquo;t want to know.</p> <h3><strong>#4: We have no view of what&rsquo;s happening in the back rooms.</strong></h3> <p>People make large bets on what Janet Yellen and the Fed will decide next, but when we do that, we overlook something very important:</p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;">Yellen is merely an employee of the Federal Reserve, not an owner. <em>And we don&rsquo;t know who the owners are.</em></p> <p>We do know that the Fed is owned by private banks, and that it has a monopoly on the <a href="">creation of US currency</a>, but we really don&rsquo;t know who owns the shares. The true owners are almost certainly reflected in the roster of <a href="" target="_new">primary dealers</a>, who skim Federal Reserve units as they&rsquo;re being made, but we don&rsquo;t know much more than that.</p> <p>So&hellip;</p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;"><em>Who are the people that Yellen takes orders from?</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;"><em>What do these people want?</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;"><em>What are their long-term positions?</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 30px;"><em>Who might they protect, aside from themselves?</em></p> <p>We don&rsquo;t have real answers to any of these questions. From our perspective, the guts of the machine are hidden behind a curtain.</p> <h3><strong>#5: The US is playing to win.</strong></h3> <p>One thing we do know is that the US has a strong hand. Within a general deflationary situation, the Fed can print away. And they&rsquo;re propping up the US markets quite well&hellip; for now.</p> <p>Feeling their power (after all, they can blow up more stuff than anyone else!), the US is throwing their weight around, forcing nearly every bank in the world to play by their rules. (Think FATCA and fining foreign banks.) And for the moment, it is working.</p> <p>Bullying everyone else over the long term may, however, not be viable. No one &ndash; especially people like Putin and the Chinese bosses &ndash; likes to be slapped around in public. And they are not powerless.</p> <h3><strong>Conclusion: Most Bets Are on the US</strong></h3> <p>Europe isn&rsquo;t looking good. Japan isn&rsquo;t looking good. The UK is holding, but as mentioned above, its numbers are horrible. Switzerland seems to be in-between strategies. China has problems. Russia has problems. The BRICS have never been stable.</p> <p>That leaves the US. My impression is that most serious investors would rather hold dollars than yen or euros; most big businesses too. Their bets are on that the US will crash last.</p> <p>So, are the Fed and the US Treasury doing this intentionally? Are they quietly pulling the pins out from under the others, making sure that they&rsquo;ll be the last currency standing? I have no inside information, but I&rsquo;d bet on it.</p> <p><em><strong>Remember, the gang on the Potomac has most Americans believing that whatever they do overseas is pure and holy. Furthermore, 99% of their serfs will reflexively obey any order they give. So, why shouldn&rsquo;t they play dirty? They have the best bombs and a somnambulant public.</strong></em></p> <p><u><strong>For now.</strong></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="504" height="363" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> BRICs China Federal Reserve Insurance Companies International Monetary Fund Janet Yellen Japan Monkey Business Rosenberg Sovereign Debt Switzerland Yen Thu, 02 Jul 2015 00:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509145 at Black Churches Are Burning Across The South, Arson Eyed <p>Following the murder of nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last month, we <a href="">said the following</a> about the current state of American society:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>The riots that left Baltimore in ashes in late April and the massacre that occurred last week at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston serve as vivid reminders of the extent to which American society now teeters perpetually on the edge of social upheaval. <strong>Increasingly, those who feel ‘the system’ has somehow failed them are turning to violence as a means of addressing their grievances, which betrays a complete lack of faith in the government’s ability to help create the conditions under which groups and individuals with divergent interests can coexist without sinking into a Hobbesian state of nature.&nbsp;</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>We then made the following admittedly stark prediction: "Ultimately, it appears America has become a country wherein everyone feels marginalized and/or aggrieved in one way or another. <strong>In the absence of a dramatic societal reboot, we fear social instability is likely here to stay."</strong></p> <p>That assessment appears to have been quite accurate because over the course of just two weeks, six predominantly African American churches in the US have burned, with authorities suspecting arson in several of the blazes. NY Times <a href="">has the story</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>Ivestigators sifted through the burned-out shell of a black church here on Wednesday, trying to determine the cause of a fire that has left residents here anguished.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Williamsburg County officials said the fire at the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, which took more than two hours to extinguish, began around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and burned through the church’s roof. Lightning storms moved through the area overnight.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="397" /></a><br /></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>The fire came as the authorities in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee investigated blazes at other churches, most of them predominantly black.</strong> Although the authorities have concluded that some of those fires were arson, officials have not yet described any of the episodes as hate crimes. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>One of the fires was caused by lightning and another was electrical. <strong>Investigators also said there was no evidence that the fires at the churches were linked.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p>Still, it’s difficult to ignore the trend — especially in light of recent events. Indeed, Mount Zion has burned to the ground before. 20 years ago, two Ku Klux Klan members pleaded guilty to civil rights charges on the heels of a fire at the church. Here’s <a href=";_ylt=AwrC1jFvK5RVmxIAbojQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--">AFP</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>"There are still a lot of questions to be answered," Williamsburg County chief deputy sheriff Stephen Gardner told reporters in Greeleyville when asked Wednesday about the cause of the Mount Zion fire.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>"We haven't ruled anything in or anything out at this point," added Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Craig Chilcott, as sniffer dogs helped police and fire investigators comb through the church ruins.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Mount Zion last burned to the ground in June 1995, in a fire that prompted the arrest of two Ku Klux Klan members in their early 20s.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The pair got prison terms after pleading guilty to federal civil rights charges, while the church won a $37.8 million lawsuit against the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and its South Carolina leader.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>"Because of its prominence in the African-American community, the church has historically been a target of arson and destruction by bigots and white supremacists," said the department's National Church Arson Task Force, launched by then-president Bill Clinton in the aftermath of the 1995 Mount Zion fire.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>In addition to the fire at Mount Zion, Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina burned down on June 26, Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in North Carolina was reduced to ashes on June 24, God's Power Church Of Christ in Macon, Georgia was found on fire with the front doors wired shut on the 23rd, and bales of hay as well as a church van were set alight in front of&nbsp;College Hill Seventh Day Adventist church in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 21. Here are the visuals:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="328" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="409" height="508" /></a></p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="310" /></p> <p>* &nbsp;* &nbsp;*</p> <p>So while the jury is still out (so to speak) on whether there is indeed some discernible connection between the incidents shown above, it does appear that at least some of these fires were set intentionally which would seem to be further evidence that the fabric of American society may be ripping apart at the seams and we suspect that when December rolls around and we <a href="">once again review</a> the most-read posts of the preceding 12 months, we'll find that for the second year running, "civil unrest" is a common thread.</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="512" height="317" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> FBI South Carolina Thu, 02 Jul 2015 00:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 509150 at