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Russian Government Hacked White House Computer System, CNN Reports





A few months ago, Sony used a ridiculous "hacking" publicity stunt to generate some $40 million more in revenues for what would otherwise have been the latest Seth Rogen "comic" flop, in which the film agency blamed North Korea - which has about ten ultramodern 80386 computers in the entire country - for hacking its firewall, a hack which was subsequently revealed to be the result of disgruntled former employee. Fast forward to today, when moments ago CNN reported that Russian hackers which according to left "tell-tale codes and other markers that they believe point to hackers working for the Russian government", had penetrated the White House computer system.

 
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How America Became An Oligarchy





"The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. . . . You have owners." - George Carlin, The American Dream

According to a new study from Princeton University, American democracy no longer exists. Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of – or even against – the will of the majority of voters. America’s political system has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where power is wielded by wealthy elites.

 
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China "Can't Believe Its Luck" On Investment Bank





The only one tilting at windmills now is Washington, which is stuck between persisting on the idea that this institution is somehow lacking when it comes to Western underwriting “standards” and executing a completely humiliating mea culpa which isn’t really an option given The White House’s steadfast refusal to support the Chinese venture.

 
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Why The Oil Price Collapse Is The Fed's Fault





The present oil price collapse is because of over-production of expensive tight oil. The collapse occurred because of the inability of the world market to support the cost of the new expensive oil supply from shale, oil sands and deep water. The problem is structural and systemic and firmly rooted in the irresponsible funding of under-performing U.S. tight oil companies since at least 2010. The first step to price recovery is the severing of capital supply to companies that could not fund their operations from cash flow when oil prices were more than $90 per barrel. If this does not happen, we could be in for a long period of low oil prices.

 
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Hillary Angers Chinese Even Before She Announces Presidential Run





"We hope that public figures in other countries can respect China's judicial sovereignty and independence," was the abrupt response from Beijing, clearly aimed at Hillary Clinton, after the yet-to-announce-her-run-for-president-ness, denounced as "inexcusable" the detention of five women activists. On suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", the five women face a jail sentence of up to five years, and so Clinton, using direct social media channels, tweeted, "The detention of women's activists in China must end. This is inexcusable". China's Foreign Ministry said the matter was an internal affair.

 
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Greece Calculates Germany Owes It A Third Of Its Q4 GDP In WWII Reparations





With almost 70% of Europeans already believing that Greece is a drag on the EU economy, this morning's statement by Greek Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas - coming just a week after the war-raparations committee was set-up, telling lawmakers in Parliament that he has calculated that Germany owes Greece EUR 278.7 billion in World War II reparations, will surely deepen the rift (at almost 40% of Germany's EUR 735 billion Q4 GDP) whether right or wrong.

 
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After Viacom's "Shocker", These Companies Are Most At Risk Of Early Terminating Their Stock Buyback Programs





Yesterday afternoon Viacom revealed that as part of its "Strategic Realignment to Create Efficiencies and Drive Long-Term Growth" it would do something which the market loathes: it would stop its buybacks. Specifically it said that "Viacom will temporarily pause share purchases under its current $20 billion stock repurchase program in order to stay within its target leverage ratio." What Viacom meant was that just like IBM, its net debt ratio had likewise soared in the past several years, and had reached a level where the Baa2/BBB-rated company was on the verge of being cut to junk status. So is Viacom a harbinger for the broader market, a market which as we reported previously only, had a tremendous month of February only because of a record $100 billion in announced stock buybacks? The answer: a resounding yes.

 
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The Government's "Revolving"-est Doors





Former employees of federal agencies can often find good (and lucrative) jobs as lobbyists, capitalizing on the connections that they forged while in public service. As OpenSecrets exposes, the numbers of revolving-door-enthusiasts is reminiscent of the Ebola epidemic as this deadly-to-democracy disease spreads from department to department ripping away 'hope and change' wherever it appears. "Revolvers" include those as powerful - and well connected - as secretaries of state and as far from Washington as Peace Corps volunteers... but The Department of Commerce tops the list...

 
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The Iranian Nuclear Framework Finally Exposes The War Party's Big Lie





There is virtually nothing in the substance of the deal for the War Party to attack. To defeat the deal, the War Party will have to defend its three-decade long campaign of exaggerations, distortions and bellicose animosity toward the Iranian state. But that is impossible because the axis-of-evil narrative was never remotely true. What the framework deal actually does, therefore, is to open the door to an eventual US withdrawal from its bloody, failed history of intervention in the middle east. So doing, it would pave the way for a drastic shrinkage of an obsolete war machine that has had no purpose since 1991 except to spill American blood and treasure in a region of the world  where it has no business meddling. No wonder the War Party is going hysterical.

 
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The “Runs” In The Market





The market in 2015 through the first quarter appears fickle. We hear on a daily basis how the market doesn’t know which way it is going. Up one day, down the next. Based on this anecdotal evidence of the popular opinion, the market appears unusually volatile. There are many ways to measure volatility, including standard deviation of returns and distribution of returns. For this IQS Brief, we measure the “runs” in the market. Instead of focusing on the magnitude of the returns, we pay attention to the trends in the market. We simply count the number of days the market goes up consecutively, and the number of days the market goes down consecutively. This metric, which we call “runs,” easily allows a pictorial representation of the market movements.

 
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Dilbert Explains Sell-Side Analysis





In search of "conflict of interest..."

 
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America: Bankrupt And On Borrowed Time





Thomas Jefferson is credited with the following sage advice, “The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.” And so it seems sometimes the answer is right in front of us all along and we just fail to see it.

 
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Crude Tumbles After API Reports Largest Inventory Build In 30 Years





Who could have seen that coming? For 2 days, oil has surged on every headline (good or bad) as algo-mania created the 2nd best performance in 4 years.. and then API reports an absolutely massive 12.2 million (almost 4 times larger than the 3.4mm estimate). If this corresponds to the DOE inventory data tomorrow - this is the biggest inventory build since 1985... Crude prices are... not up...

 
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The Greek Counter-Ultimatum To Europe: "We Cannot Keep ISIS Out If You Keep Bullying Us"





For a second time within a couple of weeks, Greek Defense Minister and leader of coalition government junior partner Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos warned that if the European Union keeps undermining the coalition government and the country exit or is forced to exit the Euro “waves of migrants: will stream from Turkey to Europe and among them there would be ISIS “radicals.” Speaking to THE TIMES, Kammenos said: “The gross meddling into [Greek] domestic affairs isn’t just unheard for European standards, it’s unethical and it’s dangerous. If Greece goes, then a lot more than financial stability and the euro is at stake.” “If Greece is expelled or forced out of the eurozone, waves of immigrants without papers, including radical elements, will stream from Turkey and head towards the heart of the West."

 
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