Europe is starting to crumble, the Eurozone has double digit unemployment huge amount of debt and many countries in the Eurozone have no growth at all. US confidence is falling and retail sales are plummeting, stores like JC Penny, Sears, Macy’s, Walmart are predicting a horrible holiday season for retail. On Nov 1 those who receive food stamps will have a reduction in the amount they receive. This reduction could spark riots across America, something the Government would like so they could declare martial law.
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- Iceland wants to turn itself into a hub for business in the Arctic and strike more trade accords on its own after scrapping talks to join the European Union, its foreign minister said.
- “The focus of Iceland’s foreign policy is on the Arctic,” Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said in an Oct. 25 interview in Reykjavik. The island will work for deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, he said.
- The Arctic is becoming a magnet for countries seeking to benefit from new shipping routes created by rapidly melting ice in a development that will make the trip from Europe to Asiashorter and cheaper. The softening ice could also bring within reach the 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil that lie under the Arctic Ocean floor, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.
- The eight-member Arctic Council, which was founded in 1996, in May this year granted observer status to China, India and Japan, among other countries. Members include the Scandinavian nations, Russia, the U.S., Canada and indigenous groups.
- Iceland is also considering opening a shipping port at Finnafjordur, on the island’s northeastern coast, which may be operated by Bremenports GmbH & Co. KG. The facility would be able to service companies using the northern sea route as well as oil explorers.
- OWN TERMS
- In April, Iceland became the first European country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with China. The accord provides the island with the opportunity to sell its expertise in geothermal energy to the world’s second-largest economy. That deal followed a 66 billion kronur ($550 million) currency swap agreement with China in 2010, which was renewed in September.
- The swap contract has helped Iceland obtain foreign currency as it struggles to exit capital controls put in place after its economic collapse in 2008. The deal came a year after the country began EU membership talks in 2009.
- Iceland originally sought to enter the 28-nation bloc after the collapse of its biggest banks pushed the island’s economy into its worst recession in six decades and left it reliant on an International Monetary Fund-led bailout.
- EU SNUB
- After exiting the IMF program, and as the economy improved, Icelanders earlier this year voted in a coalition government that has rejected continued talks with the EU.
- The new administration has now decided that a referendum will be needed to move ahead with the EU accession process, though no date has been set. President Olafur Grimsson has said Iceland’s relationship with the EU worsened during the economic crisis, in part amid a dispute over bailing out Dutch and British depositors in a failed Icelandic bank.
- “I hope Iceland will never join the EU,” Sveinsson said. “It’s impossible to say what will happen in 10 years or 20 years, but in my opinion the EU is moving in a direction that should make it less desirable for Iceland to join. There’s greater centralization, power is being shifted from the sovereigns to unelected bureaucrats.”
- Instead, Iceland is using its bilateral ties with China and others to help boost trade. The country will also seek to build closer links to Canada and the U.S., according to Sveinsson. The cooperation will include “defense issues,” he said.
- CHINESE BILLIONAIRE
- The new government, which ousted a Social Democrat-led coalition in April, has also said it will review a decision by the previous administration to block a property development plan by Chinese billionaire Huang Nubo.
- “It’s very important for us to have a free trade agreement with China,” said Sveinsson. “The Chinese are interested in Iceland and the Arctic and naturally Iceland should utilize that interest, just like Iceland utilizes that interest among other nations. Hopefully, Iceland’s relationship with China will grow stronger. Of course, that will have to be on our terms.”
- Having recently pointed out Draghi’s worst nightmare, we thought the anti-thesis of hope over reality that is occurring in European “markets” was worth pointing out.Spanish sovereign bond spreads have collapsed this week to their lowest (least risky) in 30 months at a mere 229bps. The total and utter disconnect of this supposed ‘free market’ based measure in the face of nothing but terrible Spanish data is entirely without precedent…
- Today’s retail sales beat is the latest ‘outlier’ being heralded as supporting the disconnect – of course, that is until seasonal adjustments remove all the gains and reality sets back in.
- While many expect Spain to emerge from recession in Q3 2013 (and we assume that is the ‘hope’ trend being extraploated), it is clear, as SocGen notes, that internal consumption is expected to stall through H2 2013 and push Spain back into recession in Q1 2014…
- Via SocGen,
- …despite the small improvement in unemployment in Q3, to 25% vs. a previous 26%, the labour market situation is still too poor to stimulate domestic demand in the short term. As before, we see the 2013 real GDP in negative territory at -1.0%, with more amendments to government expenditure items expected.
- As the Bank of Spain pinpointed in its latest economic report, government consumption and specifically employee compensation is yet to be adjusted. We thus expect the impact on GDP to kick in early 2014 and bring Spain back to recession.
- U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in October as consumers turned gloomier in their outlook for the future, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.
- The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes dropped to 71.2 in October from a revised 80.2 in September, previously reported as 79.7.
- Economists had expected a reading of 75.0 in October.
- The expectations index also sank, down to 71.5 in October from a revised 84.7 in September.
- Consumers were also less optimistic about their current standing, with the present situation index down to 70.7 in October from a revised 73.5 in September.
Thomson Reuters – 4,500 by end of 2014
- Moments ago hopes that the S&P would hit 1800 on an epic miss in the September retail sales were dashed after both the headline and ex-auto/gas numbers came largely in line. The total Seasonally Adjusted retail sales for September dipped modestly by 0.1%, on expectations of an unchanged print. Excluding autos the number was exactly in line with expectations at 0.4%, while ex autos and gas was also a very modest miss of 0.4% vs Exp. 0.5%. Still, hardly bad enough to send the S&P500 futures into the stratosphere. The biggest outliers by business category were motor vehicles which tumbled -2.2 in September, the biggest decline since October 2012 (did the US government suddenly stop making NINJA loans?), Miscellaneous stores and Clothing stores, down 1.2% and -0.5% respectively, while electronics and appliance stores rose 0.7% in September. In short: Americans may have no clothing as we enter the winter season, but at least they have the new iPad.
- So while noted the number was hardly bad enough to send stocks surging, the ES-leading EURJPY pair seems to have found a third-wind bid in an attempt to expand the S&P500 multiple by at least another 0.1-0.2x today: could it be that algos just noticed that unadjusted retail sales tumbled by 9% from August to September.
- Retail sales historic trend:
Charting the September retail sales broken down by category:
And by business:
- Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O) is considering splitting off its Lands’ End clothing and Sears Auto Center businesses, after another quarter of declining same-store sales.
- The company’s shares rose 7 percent, as investors assessed the latest attempt by the operator of Sears department stores and the Kmart discount chain to turn around its business.
- Analysts said recent moves to dispose of assets, while perhaps negative in the long term, could reassure creditors and vendors and help to ensure sufficient liquidity for now.
- Sears has been suffering from declining sales since 2005, when hedge fund titan Edward Lampert merged the two iconic chains in an $11 billion deal.
- Sears, still controlled by Lampert, said on Tuesday that same-store sales for the 12 weeks ended October 26 fell 3.7 percent.
- The company said it now expected a net loss of between $532 million and $582 million for the third quarter ending November 2, wider than the $498 million loss reported a year earlier.
- The company will release its results around November 21.
- Battling intense competition from Target Corp (TGT.N), Wal-Mart (WMT.N) and Amazon Inc (AMZN.O), Sears launched last year a turnaround plan including shutting stores, selling real estate and shedding other assets.
- Sears spun off its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores unit in December 2011. It announced plans in 2012 to spin off its Sears Hometown and Outlet businesses and certain hardware stores.
- “They have cut the fat. Now they are cutting in the muscle,” Morningstar analyst Paul Swinand said, referring to the company’s plan to consider separating businesses such as Lands’ End.
- Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears said any separation of Lands’ End would not be structured as a sale but would be through a deal that would benefit shareholders.
- Lampert indicated in 2012 that assets such as Lands’ End, which Sears bought for about $2 billion in 2002, could be separated.
- The company said on Tuesday that it is exploring strategic alternatives for Sears Auto Center, which offers auto repair services and spares. It has started repositioning the business around non-tire related services.
- Sears also said that Sears Canada Inc (SCC.TO), in which it holds a 51 percent stake, would sell five store leases, including its flagship downtown Toronto store, to Cadillac Fairview Corp Ltd for C$400 million ($383 million).
- Sears said it is looking to close even more underperforming Sears and Kmart stores and use the savings to fund its more profitable outlets.
- The company’s shares were up at $59.43 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday morning.
- 1. Spinning off properties. Parting ways with its well-known Land’s End and Sears Auto businesses shows that the Sears brand is desperate to raise cash, Sozzi said. “The company is pushing off the inevitable,” Sozzi said. “Because here is the real deal: at some point in our lifetime, Sears will run out of assets to sell to raise cash to fund operations.”
- 2. Sears is bombing in Canada. The company is selling off prime real estate there, opening up space for competitor Target, Sozzi said.
- 3. Sales are down. The namesake brand’s domestic sales are down 4.8%, putting Sears in a way worse position than competitors like Wal-Mart or Target.
- 4. The company isn’t investing in the future. “Sears says it’s ‘managing its capital expenditures more efficiently’…and that’s the problem,” Sozzi writes. “Sears spent 0.9% of its annual 2012 revenue on capex…Macy’s spent 3.4%.”
- 5. Rewards program. The “Shop Your Way” rewards program is “eating the company from the inside out,” Sozzi said. “It’s driving lower quality sales today and opening the floodgate for even more margin-killing promotions in the future.”
Source : businessinsider.com
- The U.S. government has booked a loss of $9.7 billion on the nearly $50 billion bailout of U.S. automaker General Motors Co (GM.N), according to a quarterly report to Congress on Tuesday.
- In 2009, the U.S. Treasury extended $49.5 billion in loans to GM in exchange for $2.1 billion in preferred stock and a 60.8 percent equity stake.
- Treasury has since whittled down its stake in GM through a series of stock sales. Those sales have all taken place below the price Treasury needed to break even on its GM investment, resulting in the loss, according to Tuesday’s report from the Special Inspector General overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
- Treasury has sold its preferred stock and reduced its equity stake to 7.3 percent. Treasury owns 101.3 million GM shares as of September 26, the most recent date available.
- The U.S. government has said it plans to sell its remaining GM shares by April 2014. Some analysts said Treasury could even unwind its position by year end.
- The exit of Treasury will eliminate the stigma of government ownership that has hovered over the automaker since the bailout, which prompted some critics to dub the company “Government Motors.”
- As the Detroit bankruptcy hearing heats up following news that the city’s unsecured creditors, among them pensioners, are set to recover pennies on the dollar, 16 to be precise, the question of which are the next cities to follow in the footsteps of bankrupt Motown, becomes relevant once again. Courtesy of the WSJ, and the second part of its series on “U.S. Cities Grapple With Finances“, here is a list of the US cities that when push comes to shove metaphorically, and when the money runs out literally, will have no choice but to knock on the door of the local regional bankruptcy court and submit that long-prepared bankruptcy petition. Specifically, here are the cities that have 10 days or less in cash on hand available. Because, unless one is the Fed, cash and lack thereof is all that matters.
- The list below ranks the top 10 cities in terms of days cash on hand. Needless to say, a city with a low number in this category (such as 0.0) may have trouble paying bills, bribes, lap dances and other core municipal outlays.
- Shifting away from the stock, and looking at the flow, as Detroit showed the world the very hard way, cities mired in pension costs will ultimately default and lead to massive haircuts to the retirees. The following 10 cities have the greatest percentage of pension costs as a percentage of the city’s general fund.
- Of course, cash on hand while perhaps the most important factor, especially if a city becomes a net cash burner, is hardly the only indicator to keep an eye on. Additional consideration must be given to amount of reserves, or the ratio of a city’s total fund balance to expenditures, because if this is negative it means the city spends more than is available.
- Another relevant factor: taxable real estate per capita – the lower the number here, the weaker the real-estate market, which also means the lower the city’s overall wealth and its ability to raise property-tax revenue.
- Debt interest costs may not be a factor under the Fed’s centrally-planned ZIRP world, but when rates once again go up, there will be blood. The following 10 cities have the highest amount of debt per capita: it may not be a problem now, but it will be sooner or later.
- Last but not least is the most subjective indicator, yet perhaps the most forward looking one: population growth. Because if anyone knows the reality behind a city’s numbers, it is the people who live there. If people see no long-term opportunities they move somewhere else – simple as that. And the less population a city has, as anyone who has played the SimCity series knows, the less property, income and sales tax can be collected, and the more costs have to be squeezed, resulting in the dreaded evil “austerity” and, ultimately, default.
- BofA Merrill Lynch equity strategists report data on what their clients are doing in the U.S. stock market on a weekly basis.
- Last week, BAML’s hedge fund clients unloaded the most stock since 2008, while institutions and retail clients were net buyers.
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- In a note to clients, BAML strategist Savita Subramanian writes:
- Most selling by hedge funds since 2008
- Last week, during which the S&P 500 was up 0.9%, BofAML clients were net sellers of $963mn of US stocks following the prior week’s large net buying. Net sales were entirely due to hedge funds, whose net sales were the largest since December 2008, and the second-largest in our data history. Despite this, hedge funds still remain small cumulative net buyers year-to-date. Institutional clients were net buyers for the second consecutive week—but remain the biggest net sellers YTD—while private clients continued their net buying streak (with purchases of equities in 21 of the last 22 weeks). Private clients are the largest net buyers of equities year-to-date, with $15bn of inflows into ETFs and $2bn of inflows into single stocks. By size segment, large, mid and small caps all saw outflows last week, and only mid caps have seen inflows YTD.
- Biggest outflows ever from Consumer Discretionary stocks
- Net sales last week were led by Consumer Discretionary, where outflows were the largest in our data history (since 2008). Tech, Financials and Staples also saw large net sales. The largest inflows were into ETFs, while Energy stocks also saw big inflows (largest since July 2012). Industrials currently has the longest net buying trend at four consecutive weeks, while no sector has seen two consecutive weeks of net sales. Based on four-week average flows, which are less volatile, clients continue to prefer defensives over cyclicals: Consumer Staples and Utilities have the longest net buying trends (since mid August), while Energy, Tech and Discretionary have the longest net selling trends (since late September).
- In the week ended October 23, global investors poured $11.5 billion into U.S. equities. The BAML client data highlighted above cover the period from October 21 to October 25.
- In a note to clients, Goldman Sachs chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin said the three questions dominating his discussions with clients about the stock market over the past week were “(1) the forward path of the US equity market; (2) prospective return of the S&P 500 compared with other global stock markets; and (3) investment strategies through year-end after a stellar 22% rally during the first 10 months of 2013.”
- You know the old rule of thumb about laws–
- The more high-sounding the legislation, the more destructive its consequences.
- Case in point, HR 3293– the recently introduced Debt Limit Reform Act. Sounds great, right? After all, reforming the debt seems like a terrific idea.
- Except that’s not what the bill really does. They’re not reforming anything. HR 3293′s real purpose is to authorize the government to simply stop counting a massive portion of the US national debt.
- You see, one of the biggest chunks of the debt is money owed to ‘intragovernmental agencies’.
- For example, Medicare and Social Security hold their massive trust funds in US Treasuries. This is the money that’s owed to retirees.
- In fact, nearly $5 trillion of the $17 trillion debt (almost 30%) is owed to intragovernmental agencies like Social Security and Medicare.
- So now they basically want to stop counting this debt. Poof. Overnight, they’ll make $5 trillion disappear from the debt.
- On paper, this looks great. But in reality, they’re setting the stage to default on Social Security beneficiaries without causing a single ripple in the financial system.
- Remember, when governments get this deep in debt, someone is going to get screwed.
- They may default on their obligations to their creditors, causing a crisis across the entire financial system. Or perhaps to the central bank, causing a currency crisis.
- But most likely, and first, they will default on their obligations to their citizens. Whatever promises they made, including Social Security, will be abandoned.
- And if you read between the lines, this new bill says it all.
- Not to be outdone by the United States Congress, though, the International Monetary Fund recently proposed a continental-wide ‘one off’ wealth tax in Europe.
- Buried in an extensive report about Europe’s troubled economies, the IMF stated:
- “The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair).”
- In other words, first they want to implement capital controls to ensure that everyone’s money is trapped. Then they want to make a grab for people’s bank accounts, just like they did in Cyprus.
- The warning signs couldn’t be more clear. I’ve been writing about this for years. It’s now happening. This is no longer theory.
- Over the last few weeks I’ve been having my staff revise a free report we put together two years ago about globalizing your gold holdings.
- In the report I mentioned that capital controls are coming. And that some governments may even ban cash transactions over a certain level.
- These things have happened. Cyprus has capital controls, France and Italy have limits on cash transactions. And given this new evidence, it’s clear there’s more on the way.
- Every rational, thinking person out there has a decision to make.
- You can choose to trust these politicians and central bankers to do the right thing.
- Or you can choose to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence and reduce your exposure to these bankrupt western countries that will make every effort to lie, cheat, and steal whatever they can from you… just to keep the party going a little while longer.
- It’s time for people to wake up to this reality. You only have yourself to rely on. Not the system. Not the government. And certainly not the bankers.
Of course the White House knew what was going to happen with Obamacare. They created Obamacare to do the following:
1. Drop all other plans so everyone is forced to purchase the new plans
2. Have everyone sign up for Obamacare to get everyone all in
3. Double or Triple the premiums so the health insurers can cover everyone and make a huge profit
4. Double or Triple the deductibles so the health insurers do not have to payout
5. Penalize everyone if they don’t take insurance which will allow the government to increase revenue and to force the majority to purchase the plans.
- White House spokesman Jay Carney admitted Monday some Americans won’t be able to hold onto their current health care plans under Obamacare — despite the president’s 2009 emphatic promise “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan. Period.”
- “So it’s true there are existing health care plans on the individual market that do not meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act,” Carney said in response to a question concerning an earlier remark from David Axelrod, a senior advisor to President Obama during his first term, the Weekly Standard reported.
- And NBC News, citing unnamed sources, reported that the administration knew that some 50 percent or as many as 80 percent of those with individual insurance policies could expect to be cancelled largely because their policies don’t meet Obamacare’s minimum standards of coverage. NBC’s experts say the costs of new policies will skyrocket.
- Axelrod told MSNBC a “vast majority” of Americans can keep their health insurance plan if they like it.
- “Most people are going to keep their plan,” Axelrod said, according to a transcript of the remarks reported by Breitbart.
- “… The head of Blue Cross in Florida was on television yesterday and said there’s a small number of people being transferred to plans that have a higher quality. Most of them will be subsidized and end up paying less for those plans.”
- When Sen. Tom Coburn added the switch would “double the deductibles,” Axelrod added: “The majority of people in this country — the vast majority — are keeping their plan.”
- At the later White House press briefing, Carney explained:
- “What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage, minimum services that every insurance plan has to provide, so that an individual shopping for insurance, you know, when he or she purchases that insurance, knows that maternity care is covered, that preventive services are covered, that mental health services are covered, that the insurance policy you buy doesn’t have [an] annual limit or a lifetime limit, that there are out-of-pocket expenses capped at a maximum level, both annually and for a lifetime.”
- The new requirements have prompted some insurers to raise the premiums — dramatically in some cases, according to the Washington Post — for people who had bought bare-bones plans on the individual market.
- But Carney noted a minority of consumers find themselves in this position, since “Eighty-plus percent of the American people already get insurance through their employer, through Medicare or through Medicaid.”
- “It’s correct that substandard plans… are no longer allowed because the Affordable Care Act is built on the premise that health care is not a privilege, it’s a right, and there should be minimum standards for the plans available to Americans across the country,” he added.
- In a June 2009 speech to the American Medical Association, Obama said that … “no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) spokesman Don Stewart questioned whether that promise had been kept.
- “Remember: The President didn’t say if you like your plan and we approve it you can keep it,” Stewart wrote, the Post reported. “He promised that if you like your plan, you can keep it, period—“no matter what.”
- Yet the NBC report said the government knew that wasn’t true, saying that buried in regulations from the July 2010 law was an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy.
- And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”
- “This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, told NBC.
- He estimated 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.
- George Schwab, 62, of North Carolina, told NBC he was “perfectly happy” with his plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, which also insured his wife for a $228 monthly premium. But this past September, he got a letter saying his policy was no longer available.
- The “comparable” plan the insurance company offered him carried a $1,208 monthly premium and a $5,500 deductible. And the best option he’s found on the exchange so far offered a 415 percent jump in premium, to $948 a month.
- “The deductible is less,” he said, “But the plan doesn’t meet my needs. It’s unaffordable.”
- For months, Laszewski has warned that some consumers will face sticker shock — and recently got his own notice that he and his wife can’t keep their current policy, the so-called “Cadillac” plans offered for 2013. The best comparable plan he found for 2014 has a smaller doctor network, larger out-of-pocket costs, and a 66 percent premium increase.
- “Mr. President, I like the coverage I have,” Laszweski told NBC. “It is the best health insurance policy you can buy.”
As we know the UN Arms treaty has been signed but not ratified and we also understand that the other gun bill is pending in the Senate. The central bankers/US government are in the process of destroying the people’s rights, they are desperately trying to get these gun laws passed so they can begin taking the weapons away from the American people before the collapse occurs
- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is equating Second Amendment supporters with mass murderers.
- In an ad supporting the Democrat candidate for governor in Virginia, Bloomberg has go so far as using images of Virginia Tech mass killer Seung-Hui Cho, Sandy Hook Elementary School killer Adam Lanz and Aurora, Colo., theater gunman James Holmes, according to the Daily Caller.
- The ad, which the Daily Caller says is airing in Democrat-leaning Northern Virginia, also includes a photo from last month’s shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard, where Aaron Alexis killed 12 before being fatally shot himself on Sept. 16.
- The $1.2 million ad buy is being paid for by Bloomberg’s Independence PAC USA, according to the Daily Caller.
- The ad is critical of GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s support for gun right, and implies that supporting the Second Amendment means supporting putting weapons in the hands of the “dangerously mentally ill,” according to the Daily Caller.
- In particular, it highlights was gun control opponents call the “gun show loophole,”
- “The gun show loophole,” the ad begins. “It means anyone can buy a gun without a background check. The dangerously mentally ill. Criminals. Endangering our families.”
- The ad continues: “Ken Cuccinelli opposed closing the gun show loophole — against comprehensive background checks at gun shows for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill, siding with the NRA and undermining law enforcement.”
- Scary stuff, for the ignorant. But here’s the thing. Not one of the mass murderers Bloomberg’s campaign is low enough to associate with real gun rights supporters purchased his weapon at a gun show, according to Bearing Arms.
- Bloomberg and his allies know this, but they peddle this falsehood anyway, while money into a race that both candidates have tried hard to make an argument about Second Amendment rights.
- Bloomberg got his nose bloodied by supporting Democrat incumbents against recall efforts in Colorado in Septemb
- National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander told the United States Congress that recent media reports detailing the NSA’s surveillance of foreign citizens are “completely false.”
- Gen. Alexander was speaking before lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday afternoon when he was asked if recent reports put together using leaked national security documents disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden were accurate.
- Alexander responded that assertions by reporters in France, Spain and Italy “that the NSA collected tens of millions of phone calls are completely false.”
- The NSA chief said reporters cite screen shots leaked to the media that show a “Web tool used for data management purposes,” and said “both they and the person who stole the classified data do not understand what they were looking at.”
- The data collected by the NSA, added Alexander, was legally obtained and provided to the NSA by foreign partners.
- “To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens,” said Alexander. “It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.”
- Alexander and his colleagues didn’t deny allegations that international leaders were targeted through surveillance operations, however, and some went as far as to call those programs key components of intelligence-gathering processes.
- James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, told the House of Representative panel that spying on foreign leaders “is one of the first things I learned” when he entered his field 50 years ago. Clapper called this type of spying “kind of a basic tenant” of intelligence-gathering, and said there were “absolutely” instances in which America’s allies have committed espionage against the US.
- The intelligence community leaders continued to fight off allegations that Americans were targeted through the NSA’s programs as well, and Alexander went as far as to say employees within his agency have “taken an oath to defend the nation and protect our civil liberties and privacy, and they do that better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
- It’s the biggest find in 50 years and the media is completely ignoring it…
- It is 6 times larger than the Bakken, 17 times the size of the Marcellus formation, and 80 times larger than the Eagle Ford shale.
- All told the recent discovery outside a sleepy Australian town contains more black gold than in all of Iran, Iraq, Canada, or Venezuela.
- The current estimates of 233 billion barrels are just 30 billion barrels shy of the estimated reserves in all of Saudi Arabia.
- Now, one renowned international energy expert predicts the proven reserves will be much bigger.
- “The find may land at 300 or 400 billion barrels, making it one of the greatest unconventional oil discoveries any of us will see in our lifetimes,” says Dr. Kent Moors and advisor to six of the top 10 oil producers and active consultant to 20 world governments.
- “It represents a bona-fide redrawing of the global energy map as we know it,” Moors says, “and the mainstream media is completely ignoring it.”
- Where the Hell is Coober Pedy?
- To the people who call this place home, the oncoming oil boom means nothing will ever be the same ($20 trillion worth of oil can do that to a town).
- The boom is centered around a place called Coober Pedy, an inhospitable speck on the map in Southern Australia.
- The big draw is the riches found in the region’s vast geological structure, the Arckaringa basin.
- Encompassing an area in excess of 30,000 square miles, what’s buried within the basin is enough black gold to completely change the global oil landscape-not to mention the lives of early investors.
- Analysts believe this is equivalent to investing in Saudi Arabia in the early 1950’s.
- And according to this inner circle briefing by Dr. Moors, one little company controls the whole thing.
- The Death Knell for OPEC
- This massive find has been likened to the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale oil projects in the U.S., which have created legitimate boom times in Texas and North Dakota.
- Even at the lowest estimate, Coober Pedy is set to make Australia a net oil exporter; at the higher estimate, Australia would become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.
- “What we’re seeing up there is a very, very big deposit,” says South Australia’s mining minister, Tom Koutsantonis, “This is a key part to securing Australia’s energy security now and into the future.”
- A political commentator says Washington is afraid of a possible regime fall in Bahrain as the Persian Gulf country hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Press TV reports.
- “The United States of course has a major military interest in Bahrain, our Fifth Fleet is housed there and they have no other real base in the Persian Gulf region,” William Beeman, professor at the University of Minnesota, told Press TV on Monday.
- The US is “terribly afraid” that a possible government fall in Bahrain would endanger its interests in the Middle East, added Beeman.
- He also criticized Washington for maintaining a “strategic silence” over the human rights violations in Bahrain, saying, “It seems that when the United States interests are not affected, the United States government is quite happy to condemn human rights violations, but when their interests are at stake, then they remain silent.”
- On October 20, former CNN journalist Amber Lyon stated that the Manama regime is paying the American news network to ignore its brutal crackdown on peaceful protests across the kingdom and create content that shows Bahrain is in a favorable light.
- The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011.
- Protesters initially called for political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
- Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained since the popular uprising started in the kingdom.
- Russia’s second largest oil company, Lukoil, is considering participation in oil and gas projects in Iran in case the US-engineered sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s oil sector are lifted.
- “If there are changes, if restrictions and sanctions are lifted, then, of course, we will very cautiously return to the project [in Iran],” Itar-Tass news agency quoted Senior Vice President of Lukoil Overseas Gati Saadi al-Jebouri as saying in Moscow on Tuesday.
- In March 2010, Lukoil pulled out of Anaran oil field project in western Iran due to sanctions imposed by the United States.
- Lukoil Vice President Leonid Fedun said that it was impossible for the company to continue to participate in the Anaran field as long as the US sanctions are in force.
- The Anaran block, which is estimated to contain two billion barrels of oil, was operated by a consortium of Norway’s StatoilHydro (75 percent) and Lukoil Overseas (25 percent).
- Lukoil reportedly suffered a USD 63-million loss after the withdrawal.
- Reporters challenge Psaki on whether State Dept. is making progress on ending the war
- State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki conceded the situation in Syria remains “dire” Tuesday in the State Department press conference.
- Reporters Jo Biddle and Matt Lee pressed Psaki on whether the State Department wasdiminishing the severity of the Syrian situation by only emphasizing the supposed progress made in arranging a still yet to occur diplomatic conference that would negotiate Assad’s departure.
- Psaki replied advancements concerning Assad being reportedly open to turning over his chemical weapons to the international community reflect a positive development.
- Sidestepping Biddle’s main critique that the humanitarian crisis on the ground has deepened, the State Department spokeswoman said although there has not been a binding resolution from the U.N. addressing the situation on the ground, the State Department is working to “raise the issue.”
- When pressed again by the AP’s Matt Lee, Psaki finally admitted that the circumstances on the ground in Syria have in fact deteriorated:
- JO BIDDLE: Just a second. (Inaudible) — I don’t think that’s what they were taking issue with. I don’t think they’re taking issue with the United States has actually done an awful lot to try and help the humanitarian situation on the ground. I think what they were taking issue with is there’s no action going on to back up those — that fact, that humanitarian help, plus Secretary Kerry’s insistence that there has to be some kind of — that there can’t be a military solution, there has to be a political solution.
- That goes back to what I was saying earlier, that despite all the words and despite all the work you’ve been doing behind the scenes, three — 31 months on, we’ve got 150,000 people who are dead in Syria, millions of refugees, things like polio happening, and there is nothing happening from the United States that is pushing towards any kind of solution, or seems to be pushing towards any solution. Perhaps it’s all happening behind the scenes and we don’t know about it, but the reality is Assad is still in power, even though his days were supposed to be numbered two years ago, and there is no movement for any kind of negotiations on the ground — (inaudible) –
- JEN PSAKI: I would dispute completely what you just said, because six weeks ago, no one thought that there would be — we would be moving towards the elimination of chemical weapons.
- We’ve seen steps that have been announced. We’re still evaluating the report. Obviously, more work needs to be done. But we’re far — much farther than we thought we could be.
- Six weeks ago we never thought we would be moving towards a Geneva conference. We’re still targeting for November. Brahimi is traveling around the region meeting with people, meeting with countries who have a stake in that effort. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, we’re talking to the opposition. Yes, the Russians are working on the regime. But we are moving towards a conference.
- And the third piece, on the humanitarian access, there was a statement which is not the same, no one is saying, as a binding resolution in the U.N. But there was a statement that was signed off on on humanitarian access, the need to raise the issue, following the OPCW UNSCR step. That’s a small step forward. Raising this issue, continuing to provide aid, publicly pressing on the need to provide access is part of our effort to make progress. But yes, there’s challenges on the ground, but that’s why we’re continuing to press on it.
- MATT LEE: But Jen, the problems is that you can’t — what Jo said in the run-up to her question is not — you can’t dispute that. Those are all facts. You can dispute what may be the premise of the question that somehow all of this is the fault of the United States –
- PSAKI: I’m disputing that we’re not making progress –
- LEE: — or the fault of the United States for not acting.
- PSAKI: We’re not making progress on the different category.
- LEE: But it is a fact that the situation on the ground has gotten worse, not better. Is that not correct? Whether or not it’s your fault — and I — it may very well be unfair to blame everything that goes wrong in the world on the United States, but the basic fact, the premise — the basic facts behind the question — I’m not sure that you can dispute them.
- MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re combining a lot of things here. One was an editorial in a newspaper that we spoke to. Two was progress we’re making towards all of these goals, which I just laid out.
- Yes, our — is the situation on the ground dire on — and on — in terms of humanitarian access and issues? Absolutely. That’s why we’re talking about it. So I wouldn’t dispute that, but I’m just laying out the steps we’re attempting to take.
- LEE: But the situation on the ground remains dire because there is no progress in ending the war.
- PSAKI: And we’re working towards making progress by working towards a Geneva conference, by eliminating chemicals weapons, taking steps on that front, by raising the issue of humanitarian access and putting public pressure on. Those are the steps we’re taking.
We know that Assad did not use them, the UN chemical team have located and are in the process of destroying them. So where did the rebels get the chemical weapons? If the rebels (paid mercenaries) are using them now one would have to believe that they used them back in August 2013.
- The rebels used chemical weapons in north-eastern Syria near the border with Turkey on Tuesday, a Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen reported.
- The toxic shell exploded near a Kurdish defense forces’ checkpoint close to the border with Turkey in the city of Ras al-Ayn al-Hasakah.
- The attack was reported by Kurdish defense forces who are conducting military operations against the rebels in the region.
- They are quoted as saying they saw toxic yellow smoke that followed the shell explosion, while some of them had symptoms of severe chemical intoxication accompanied by nausea.
- The reported chemical attack comes amid the second day of fierce fighting in the town.
- The Kurdish forces have successfully repelled several attacks by armed groups of extremists of the Nusra Front ( Jabhat al-Nusra), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, killing 28 militants.
- The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) claims to have hacked President Barack Obama’s electronic platforms, including the website barackobama.com, the president’s official Twitter feed, and his campaign’s official email account.
- A Twitter account affiliated with the SEA published on Monday screenshots purporting to show the Obama campaign’s official emails.
- It also posted a shot that appears to show the SEA gaining backend access towww.barackobama.com, the campaign’s official website.
- “We accessed many Obama campaign emails accounts to assess his terrorism capabilities,” the SEA tweeted Monday afternoon with a link to a screenshot purported showing the campaign’s emails. “They are quite high.”
- Hacker websites reported that the SEA had compromised the donation section of the Obama campaign’s website and forced it to redirect users to a SEA site that read, “Hacked by the SEA,” according to Hacker News.
- The SEA is a nebulous hacking collective loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It has hacked several prominent websites and Twitter accounts, including those affiliated with the satirical Onion news organization as well as the government of Israel.
- Obama’s official Twitter account and Facebook account appeared to have been temporarily seized by the group, which published several inflammatory messages that have since been removed.
- Screenshots of the disputed tweets were captured by Internet security website Techworm, which reported that the SEA may have taken control of the “URL shortener account which is used by Obama social media accounts.”
- “All the links that Barack Obama account tweeted it and post it on Facebook was redirected to a video showing the truth about Syria,” one of the purported hackers toldMashable on Monday after confirming the hack attack.
- The SEA tweets and Facebook postings made under Obama’s accounts appeared legitimate, but reportedly redirected users to a video presentation entitled, “Syria facing terrorism.”
- All of the links appear to have been fixed.
- The SEA claimed Monday afternoon that Twitter had flagged as “propaganda” the links it tweeted under Obama’s name.
- It also thanked Obama for redirecting users to its website.
- A call placed to the phone number listed on the campaign’s website did not connect, and officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment submitted via barackobama.com.
- Update: The NASDAQ OMX PHLX and NOM will resume trading in NDX, SOX, OSX, and HGX. PHLX will resume trading as of 12:55 PM . NOM will resume trading as of 1:00 PM . Please contact Market Operations at (215) 496-1571 if you have any further questions.
- Been a while since the Nasdaq broke. Sure enough, the second IBM stunned the market with its latest admission there is no opportunity to grow organically in the US and spend cash on CapEx, being forced instead to buyback another $15 billion in shares, the entire semi-conductor space under Nasdaq’s supervision imploded. Just another day in the New Abnormal.
- Israel has determined that China contributed to a major cyber attack that targeted the defense industry of the Jewish state.
- Israeli sources said the defense industry and Defense Ministry were targeted in what they termed a major cyber attack earlier this month. They said hackers believed aided by those from China identified leading Israeli defense officials and executives
- IDF soldiers at a control board in the National Cyber Bureau. /Moshe Shai/FLASH90
- “This was a very sophisticated attack because it did not target institutions but the top members of Israel’s defense establishment,” a source said.
- On Oct. 27, Israel’s Channel 2 television said the cyber attack on Israel’s defense industry failed. The television report, which quoted unidentified officials, said the hackers were believed directed by China.
- “The assessment here is that the attack came from the Chinese defense industry,” the television report said.
- The sources said hackers sent an e-mail that contained a virus from an unidentified German company. They said the virus, identified as a Trojan Horse, was designed to penetrate the systems of the Defense Ministry and leading Israeli defense firms.
- “Defensive measures discovered the attack and thwarted it,” Nir Dvori,
- the defense correspondent for Channel 2, said.
- Over the last month, both the military and government have warned of
- intensified threats to computer systems. Neither institution confirmed the
- Chinese cyber attack.
- Under U.S. pressure, Israel severed its defense and military cooperation
- with China in 2005. Since then, Beijing and Jerusalem have improved
- cooperation in non-military projects, including communications and infrastructure.
- Israel has reported a major cyber threat from Iran and its proxies.
- Officials said Iran has directed Hamas and Hizbullah to target Israel’s
- infrastructure, including water, power and train networks. On Oct. 30,
- Israel was scheduled to launch a cyber attack training facility.
- “The facility complex is unique in that is not an ordinary simulator,
- but rather it prepares the control team to experience and respond in real
- time to implications of cyber attacks on sensitive infrastructure
- facilities,” Israeli Energy Ministry spokeswoman Maya Etzioni said. “In order to practice
- a real event, it employs the best hackers in Israel and abroad.”
- Worldwide terrorist attacks peaked in 2012 — the year after Osama bin Laden was killed — and their number is expected to rise even further.
- Nearly all the murderous attacks took place in Muslim countries. With 525 attacks killing 1,842 people, the Afghanistan-based Taliban is the deadliest terrorist group, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, known by the acronym START. The organization is funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
- All but one of the most dangerous groups — the Communist Party of India-Maoist — are associated with al-Qaida, the militant Islamist organization founded by bin Laden with the mission of destroying the West and replacing it with Islamic culture and religion, according to the report obtained by CNN.
- In 2012, terrorism claimed the lives of 15,500 people during 8,500 deadly attacks, according to START, which classified 11 incidents in the United States that took seven lives, six of them in a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
- Eight U.S. civilians died in attacks in Afghanistan.
- International terrorism looks much different than it did in decades past. In the 1970s, most terrorist attacks occurred in Western Europe, and guns were the predominant weapon. Terrorism moved to Latin America in the 1980s. By the 1990s, attacks — mostly bombings and explosions — began steadily rising in South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, a trend that continues, according to CNN.
- The Obama administration hoped that the May 2, 2011, operation that killed bin Laden would curtail militant-Islamic terrorist attacks, but the opposite has been the case.
- Al-Qaida and similar groups are retooling their tactics with the hope of mitigating the slaying of Muslim civilians, according to Fox News.
- During the September siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, members of al-Shabab quizzed those inside on Quran scripture, asking the petrified victims to recite specific verses or name the Prophet Muhammad’s relatives, in an attempt to identify — and spare — Muslims.
- Sixty-seven people died in that attack.
- Eighty-five countries saw terror attacks in 2012, but more than half of those happened in just three — Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Deadliest Terrorist Groups:
- • Taliban (Afghanistan)
- • Boko Haram (Nigeria)
- • Al-Qaida (Iraq)
- • Communist Party of India-Maoist (India)
- • Al-Shabab (Somalia)
- • Al-Qaida (Arabian Peninsula)
- • Taliban (Pakistan)
- The head of the largest food bank says the $5 billion annual cut will take a week of meals off millions’ plates
- Food stamp recipients face a massive benefit cut set to kick in when stimulus funds expire Friday. The nationwide cut “is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three,” according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis using the USDA’s “Thrifty Food Plan.” CBPP called the roughly $5 billion annual cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program “unprecedented” in “depth and breadth.”
- “If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,” Margarette Purvis, the president and CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, told Salon Monday. Purvis said that the looming cut would mean about 76 million meals “that will no longer be on the plates of the poorest families” in NYC alone – a figure that outstrips the total number of meals distributed each year by the Food Bank for New York City, the largest food bank in the country. “There will be an immediate impact,” she said.
- “The fact that they’re going to lose what’s basically an entire week’s worth food” each month, said Purvis, “it’s pretty daunting.” She told Salon that while policymakers “are attempting to punish people for being poor,” and “people are comforted by believing that they know that a person has to have done something wrong in order to be poor,” in reality, “I can tell you that more and more folks have more than one job and are still needing help.” (As I reported last week, audio recorded by a McDonald’s worker-activist showed a counselor on an employee hotline encouraging her to sign up for food stamps because it “takes a lot of the pressure off how much money you spend on groceries.”) Purvis added that cutting food stamps was “not even good business sense,” because each dollar of food stamps infuses over $1.70 of spending into the economy.
- “We were all told that these cuts for November 1 would not happen,” said Purvis. When “they decided they were going to take from some of the increases to food stamps” to fund First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program, she told Salon, “We were told, you know, by the president…these cuts will not happen, we won’t get rid of the program. Well guess what? November 1 is around the corner, and no one has restored that money.”
- Some prominent conservatives have questioned the significance of public assistance cuts for the poor. Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kistol contended during the government shutdown that “it’s not going to be the end of the world, honestly, even if you’re on nutritional assistance from the federal government. The state of Arkansas can help out, localities can help out, churches can help out, I believe no one is going to starve in Arkansas because of the shutdown.” Asked about such claims, Purvis said that citing the efforts of groups like hers as a reason not to worry about public assistance cuts was “one of the most ill-informed arguments on the planet.” She told Salon, “the first line of defense against hunger is a food stamp.” While some “have had this way of romanticizing charity,” she said, “charity is also a system that is based on capacity and resources.” Purvis added that politicians “didn’t make any additional resources available to these magical charities that they expect to step in for this devastation that’s geared at the poorest of Americans.”
- Purvis said she and her colleagues are “begging” Congress to pass legislation by December to restore the expired funds. Rather than “trying to raise a dollar” to avert disaster privately, she said, a solution will require Americans to “raise their voices,” because “the avenue has to be activism.” In the meantime, she predicted “a very tough Thanksgiving.”
- A few weeks ago we saw what happens when the Electronic Benefit Transfer system is threatened in any way. When access to food stamps went offline for just a few hours, the masses began to panic in what were essentially isolated hot spots where law & order totally broke down.
- This Friday, because of guidelines set forth in the American and Recovery Investment Act, the 48 million Americans receiving nutritional food assistance from the government are going to see cuts to their monthly distributions.
- According to the USDA, the average monthly food benefit for an American family is about $272. Come November 1st, that will be reduced by $36 – or about 13%.
- Now, that may not seem like a big number, until you consider that the people depending on these distributions are already struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
- The government is, in essence, reducing their food availability by 13% overnight.
- Most people aren’t even paying attention, but one organization certainly is, because they know exactly what can happen when you start taking food out of peoples’ mouths.
- (Video follows excerpts)
- November 1st could be a very, very iffy day.
- This could be ‘all hell breaks lose’ day.
- The Department of Homeland Security is spending $80 million on a wrath of armed guards to protect the IRS and other government buildings in New York, not from terrorist threats mind you, but from American citizens because on November 1st the food stamp program is set to start decreasing the amount that is allocated to food stamp recipients… and they’re worried that violence will ensue.
- I guess they’re preparing for the worst…
- If we do not radically change our economy and revamp so that those nearly 50 million people have an opportunity to be liberated from food stamps to get $75, versus $70, versus $65. What these people need is economic opportunity and a good job so they can put food on their own table.
- You know, the slaves had food stamps too. It was called scraps from mazza’s table… we have a crisis within our country right now when you have 50 million people, nearly the entire West Coast, on food stamps.
- That’s the real outrage.
- While we don’t anticipate any serious riots or violence following the food stamp cut backs, this shows in unambiguous detail what the government and the Department of Homeland Security have been planning for.
- For years DHS has been simulating the collapse of the U.S. financial system and its after-effects. And their simulations have concluded that any breakdown which leaves people without money, food, or access to government support will lead to widespread violence, looting and riots on the streets of America. The control grid has been put into place to handle what they know is coming.
- Why else would they spend $80 million beefing up security to deal with the blow-back from this relatively minor food stamp cut?
- Because they know what can happen – and they know what WILL happen!
- They’ve spent billions of dollars stockpiling food, guns, ammunition, and militarizing our domestic police forces to deal specifically with riots and mass demonstrations.
- We can pretend that FEMA refugee internment camps don’t exist, but any sensible police state would have designed, built and staffed these facilities well in advance as well.
- The United States government, as well as governments around the world, are fully expecting that the game will soon come to an end and confidence in the entire global economic, financial, monetary and political systems will be lost.
- And when that happens you can be assured that all of those supplies they’ve stockpiled will be used to support their policing efforts, not for the benefit of the people.
- This means you and yours will literally be on your own and left to fend for yourselves.
- It’s time to make and finalize preparations, because these are not the activities of a government expecting peace and stability.
- They are expecting madness and pandemonium, so you’d better have your plans in place, including your food, water, gold, and other supplies that will help you survive when others will be left to deal with the horrific consequences.
- This won’t be a short-term event, but rather, a sustained long-term decline that could potentially affect us for decades – thus we need to be thinking sustainability, and not just prepping for a single isolated emergency.
- You best get ready. The government’s giving us a head’s up on what will soon come to pass.