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Why gold seen extremely bullish in 2012: Twelve factors
By Commodity Online
Investors who bought Gold as a hedge against the crisis in Europe may be surprised that prices crashed on Wednesday. Is it just a beginning of price fall, or a repeat of 2008? Some people believe that gold's count down has begun. But Jeff Nichols still believes that gold prices will go above $2000/oz in 2012. He forecasts $2000 levels in the first half of 2012 and in the longer term, the yellow metal is expected to ride higher to $3000, $4000, $5000. Because of the following twelve factors, he still believes in a yellow metal rally in 2012.
About Gold: Don’t Panic!!!
It’s momentary—and it’s because of the euro.
By Gonzalo Lira
For those of us watching the gold markets—that is, those of us anticipating the collapse of the euro and the eventual collapse of the dollar—the last week has been a scary ride: Gold has fallen over 8.6%, from a high of $1,730 on December 7 to $1,580 on December 14.
WTF???, I can practically hear everyone say. The fundamentals would point to gold being a safe haven play—it should not be falling: If anything, it ought to be rising.
But a fall of 8.6%? In a week?
The first thing that pops into my head is, Don’t Panic!!
The second thing that pops into my head is, This is to be expected—and is only a temporary pullback.
The single biggest gold buying opportunity
of the decade is here. Will you buy?
By Toby Connor - CommodityOnline.com
I know that during a correction of the magnitude we are seeing right now it seems more like the Gold bull is dead than on the verge of moving into what I expect will be one of the greatest parabolic moves in history.
However, all of the conditions necessary to launch the bubble phase are now in place. Gold is in the process of putting in an intermediate degree bottom. That bottom, which is only days away if it didn't already happen today, is going to be the single greatest buying opportunity, probably of the decade.
Bargain time for gold and silver investors
By Jeb Handwerger - CommodityOnline.com
This is one of those times that we have inveighed about so often. It is a typical "COM" week where markets are designed to confuse, obfuscate and misdirect the players. All thirty DOW stocks and commodities were down as Europe and Bernanke disappointed the markets with what they did not do. The markets were looking for a morsel of guidance, what they got was further silence and ambiguity.
The screens have been awash with a sea of red, protestors are taking to the streets in both the U.S. and Europe waving flags representing defiance. Green is hardly to be seen as many indices are near their lows of the year except the U.S. dollar (UUP) and long term treasuries(TLT). There are few places to park money where they are safe. The only havens are those by default. Thus the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt appear to smell like roses in a field of weeds. Hoarding dollars and U.S. debt is no way to promote a recovery.
Gold: How to invest safely in this financial crisis?
By G. Paul Avalos - CommodityOnline.com
Investors who prefer to own physical Gold that they can see and touch have multiple ways to achieve that comfort level. But when stacking up the choices, bullion appears to have the edge over coins for investors who also think about selling as much as acquiring.
"Everyone should keep a little physical at hand," said Adrian Ash, head of research with London-based BullionVault. "The problem with using coins or small bars for the bulk of your precious metals is threefold: cost, liquidity and security."
Either way, it's clear buyers who want physical gold have an array of purchase options to pick through. And these choices come at a time when buyers clamor for owning the real thing.
Bank Closures in Florida, Arizona Bring Total to 92
(NewsCore) - US regulators closed banks in Florida and Arizona on Friday, lifting the number of financial institutions shuttered in 2011 to 92.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) announced that the Premier Community Bank of the Emerald Coast in Crestview, Florida, was the 91st bank failure of the year, MarketWatch reported.
Soon afterwards, it announced that Phoenix's Western National Bank had also failed. It will be purchased by Seattle's Washington Federal Bank.
Southwestern U.S. braces for blizzard conditions
By Sean Morris, CNN Meteorologist
(CNN) -- Residents of the Southwest are bracing for a blizzard to kick off the holiday week with heavy snows, strong winds and icy roads that could make driving across the region dangerous.
The snow is forecast to start battering northeast New Mexico in the wee hours of Monday morning. State emergency personnel and transportation crews there are on call, officials say, ready to act if and when the storm hits hard.
Residents, meanwhile, have made their own preparations -- even on an otherwise picturesque day on Sunday, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s in some locales.
Financial Panic Sweeps Europe
As The Head Of The IMF Warns Of A “1930s Depression”
Are we on the verge of another Great Depression? Christian Lagarde, the head of the IMF, said this week that if dramatic action is not taken immediately we could actually see conditions "reminiscent of the 1930s depression" and that no country on earth "will be immune to the crisis". Right now, financial panic is sweeping across Europe, but most Americans are not too concerned about it because they simply don't understand how important the EU is. The truth is that the EU has a much larger population than the United States does. The EU has an economy that is nearly as large as the economies of the United States and China combined. The EU has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does, and the banking system of Europe is substantially larger than the banking system of the United States. Anyone out there that believes that a massive financial collapse in Europe would not dramatically affect the rest of the globe is being delusional. The European debt crisis is one of the biggest stories that we have seen in a long, long time and the coming financial meltdown is going to permanently change the global economy.
Money supply explosion will lead to accelerating inflation
This is the time of year when City pundits produce their forecasts for the forthcoming year. Historically there has been little point to this exercise. Instead, here is the one chart which defines the background to all events in the coming years. It is the Mises Institute's True Money Supply (TMS) for the US dollar. TMS consists of cash, checking accounts and no-notice deposit accounts, as well as a few other minor cash balances. It represents the actual cash and electronic cash in the system that is instantly available for purchases of goods and services, and the chart goes back to 1959.
Markets are on alert as EU bosses face big decisions
Traders are braced for a volatile day tomorrow ahead of European talks on fresh austerity measures, eurozone bail-out mechanisms and a looming deadline to approve $200bn (£167bn) of bilateral loans to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
By Louise Armitstead - Telegraph.co.uk
Jean Claude Juncker, the head of the Eurogroup, said all 27 European Union finance ministers, including George Osborne, would talk together tomorrow afternoon to approve or reject extending the funds to the IMF as agreed in Brussels by December 19. The loans would be used by the IMF to support struggling eurozone countries.
The finance ministers are also tasked with devising a voting system to govern the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) after the Brussels decision to replace unanimity sparked a revolt. The ministers are under pressure to have a deal ready for approval by EU leaders when they convene on Tuesday.
EU foreign policy must not become a casualty of the euro crisis
BY OPEN LETTER - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - Dear EU leaders,
We are seriously concerned about the impact that the current eurozone debt crisis is having on the external relations of the Union.
The first casualty is the time available for foreign policy. We recognise and support your efforts to overcome the current crisis but it is important that our relations with third countries do not suffer as a consequence. Important summits have been postponed and there is less time to focus on priority issues such as supporting the transitions in North Africa.
A second problem is the resources available for foreign policy. The EU’s budget for external affairs is already small and any further cuts would seriously impact on the EU’s pretensions to play a global role.
Divisions in eurozone over ECB bond-buying
The eurozone was facing fresh splits today after one of the European Central Bank’s most senior figures said the bank should not be used to fund national debts and that if it was forced to, it would mean the end of the single currency.
By Jonathan Russell - Telegraph.co.uk
Executive board member Juergen Stark, who announced his surprise resignation from the ECB earlier this year, said disagreements over the central bank’s bond-buying programme was behind his decision.
In an interview with German weekly WirtschaftsWoche to be published on Tuesday, Mr Stark said he did not agree with the way the euro crisis has been handled. He particularly criticised the use of monetary measures, or the wholesale purchase of sovereign bonds by the bank, to contain the crisis.
Workers of Europe unite, you've only euro chains to lose
Europe's Left has suffered a calamitous six months. Socialist governments have met historic defeats in Portugal and Spain. Greece’s Pasok party was toppled by an EU technocrat Putsch. Ireland’s soft-Left Fianna Foil lost every seat in Dublin.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
Almost 97pc of the European Union’s population is now governed by conservative or Right-leaning coalitions, or EU-imposed mandarins. All that is left to social democrats is Austria (8.4m), Denmark (5.5m), and Slovenia (2.1m).
The whole machinery of the European Union (EU) system is under the control of the Right, with variants of Rhenish corporatism in the Council, and pre-modern Hayekians at the European Central Bank (ECB). Whether you regard this Hegelian ascendancy as good or bad, it certainly has profound consequences.
New treaty in force when 9 countries have ratified
BY HONOR MAHONY - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - The first draft of a new treaty meant to tighten economic governance in eurozone countries was circulated Friday (16 December) with the aim to have the text finalised by January and coming into force once nine countries have ratified it.
The ratification threshold would allow the treaty to go into place even if some euro states - such as Ireland which may have to hold a referendum - are having problems getting domestic approval.
A euro country that rejected the treaty after it had already come into place will not be bound by it.
French credit downgrade could come 'within days'
Standard & Poor's expected downgrade could create panic in the financial markets and make eurozone crisis even worse
By Richard Wachman, City editor,
Toby Helm and Kim Willsher - Guardian.co.uk
France could be stripped of its triple-A credit rating before Christmas, raising new doubts about the survival of the euro, analysts have predicted.
Standard & Poor's – one of the three top rating agencies – is expected to cut France's rating within days, in a move that would weaken its ability to raise funds on financial markets.
Why the euro turkey is well and truly stuffed
The coming break-up of the single currency makes Britain’s veto seem a mere sideshow
By Jeff Randall - Telegraph.co.uk
As George Osborne prepares his response to the Vickers report on banking reform (the Chancellor is expected to make a Commons statement this afternoon), there’s a growing sense in the City that while Britain upgrades its sprinkler system, a fireball has already engulfed our neighbours. Much-needed changes to UK financial legislation, recommended by Vickers, will be enacted by the end of the current parliament, with the overhaul completed by 2019. Nothing wrong with long-term planning, except that with the eurozone in disarray and sovereign defaults looking all but certain, even getting to next Christmas without a fresh banking crisis may prove a wish too far for Santa.
China uncovers $45 million in slush funds
By Caixin Online - MarketWatch.com
BEIJING ( Caixin Online ) — More than 4,000 Communist Party members have received punishments this year for siphoning 2.846 billion yuan ($44.8 million) into illegal bank accounts, the Ministry of Finance reported Wednesday.
Known formally as "small treasuries" or xiaojinku, the off-the-books accounts are repositories for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and government agencies to hide illegal funds like bribes, kickbacks and unofficial taxes.
Government officials have been waging a public battle against small treasuries since the 1980s, uncovering at least 140.6 billion yuan in slush funds between 1998 and 2006, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).
Backlash from Beijing raises fears
that China's economy is slowing down
China is tightening trade policy and imposing punitive import taxes – a clear indication, say experts, that it fears an economic 'hard landing'
By Heather Stewart, The Observer - Guardian.co.uk
While Europe's leaders were wrestling with the problem of who will bail out whom last week, the world's other two major trading blocs, the US and China, were gearing up for a potentially damaging trade war.
As China slapped punitive import taxes on gas-guzzling American cars, and stepped up its rhetoric against the US, complaining about what it said were US subsidies, some Beijing-watchers read it as a sign that the government is so alarmed about a looming economic slowdown that it is casting around for someone to blame.
Did The Fed Quietly Bail Out A Bank On Tuesday?
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
Over the past month we have been closely documenting a major funding squeeze in the all important shadow economy - the "synthetic liquidity" conduit which far more than traditional sources of cash, has become all important for proper bank functioning over the past decade. Courtesy of adverse development in Europe, one by one various components of this unregulated funding scheme have become frozen necessitating the first of many central bank interventions on November 30 to provide liquidity to global banks, primarily to offset such shadow conduits as locked up commercial paper, repo and money markets. Logically, as noted over a week ago, European banks scrambled to obtain cheap dollars by borrowing over $50 billion from the Fed, and plug dollar shortfalls. Yet as all band aid measures designed to offset a broken liquidity equilibrium fail eventually, it was only a matter of time before we saw a direct bail out by the Fed of one or more banks in the aftermath of the November 30 global "bail out." Sure enough, we have our first clue that "something" happened in the week ending Wednesday December 14 that involved an upgrade of the Fed's indirect (and thus untargeted) bailout of global banks, to a focused, and very much targeted rescue of one (or more) banks. And with some additional diligence, it may be possible to narrow down the date of an actual bank bailout: Tuesday, December 13.
From The Comedy Store
By Argus Hamilton - PatriotPost.us
President Obama asked Iran to return the U.S. spy plane drone that crashed in Iran last weekend. Americans were confused. When news first broke that Iran was in possession of the American drone, we just assumed they had taken Al Gore hostage.
Iran revealed plans to sell to China the Pentagon's drone spy aircraft that crashed in Iran while spying on their nuclear reactors. We know how this ends. By next year we'll be able to buy the same spy plane from China for just one-fourth of what Boeing charges us.
Vladimir Putin slammed the U.S. government for noting how his United Russia Party stuffed ballot boxes and cheated to win. He misunderstood. When the U.S. president and the Secretary of State are both from Chicago there's a real chance it was a compliment.
Debt-Free United States Notes
Were Once Issued Under JFK
And The U.S. Government
Still Has The Power To Issue Debt-Free Money
Most Americans have no idea that the U.S. government once issued debt-free money directly into circulation. America once thrived under a debt-free monetary system, and we can do it again. The truth is that the United States is a sovereign nation and it does not need to borrow money from anyone. Back in the days of JFK, Federal Reserve Notes were not the only currency in circulation. Under JFK (at at various other times), a limited number of debt-free United States Notes were issued by the U.S. Treasury and spent by the U.S. government without any new debt being created. In fact, each bill said "United States Note" right at the top. Unfortunately, United States Notes are not being issued today. If you stop right now and pull a dollar out of your wallet, what does it say right at the top? It says "Federal Reserve Note". Normally, the way our current system works is that whenever more Federal Reserve Notes are created more debt is also created. This debt-based monetary system is systematically destroying the wealth of this nation. But it does not have to be this way. The truth is that the U.S. government still has the power under the U.S. Constitution to issue debt-free money, and we need to educate the American people about this.
Trustee to Seize and Liquidate
Even the Stored Customer Gold and Silver Bullion
From MF Global
JESSE'S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
The bottom line is that apparently some warehouses and bullion dealers are not a safe place to store your gold and silver, even if you hold a specific warehouse receipt. In an oligarchy, private ownership is merely a concept, subject to interpretation and confiscation.
Although the details and the individual perpetrators are yet to be disclosed, what is now painfully clear is that the CFTC and CME regulated futures system is defaulting on its obligations. This did not even happen in the big failures like Lehman and Bear Sterns in which the customer accounts were kept whole and transferred before the liquidation process.
Testing the Waters of Economic Liberty
By George Will - PatriotPost.us
WASHINGTON -- In 1927, seven years before the board game was created, Washington state decided to play monopoly. It gave a private interest the exclusive right to operate a ferry on 55-mile long Lake Chelan in the northern Cascade Mountains. The state apparently will defend this folly until Judgment Day, when state officials will get an earful from the Creator who -- we have Jefferson's word for this -- endowed everyone, including Jim and Cliff Courtney, with the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Where Is the Volcker Rule?
By SIMON JOHNSON - NYTimes.com
Three years ago, a financial crisis threatened to bring down the United States economy and to spread economic disaster around the world. How far have we come in preventing any kind of recurrence? And will the much-discussed Volcker Rule – attempting to limit the risks that big banks can take – play a positive role as we move forward?
Bad loans were the primary cause of the 2007-8 financial debacle. When the full extent of the problems with those loans became apparent, there was a sharp fall in the values of all securities that had been constructed based on the underlying mortgages – and a collapse in the value of related bets that had been made using derivatives.
Payroll tax cut extension in doubt
amid House Republican uproar
By Felicia Sonmez - WashingtonPost.com
The fate of a payroll tax cut extension backed by the White House and overwhelmingly passed by the Senate is uncertain after a restive House Republican conference expressed displeasure with the two-month deal.
Faced with the uprising on his right flank, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) retreated Sunday from his previous support for the package, saying the House does not expect to approve that plan on Monday night after it returns to Washington.
For the Last Time,
Fannie and Freddie Didn't Cause the Housing Crisis
The housing bubble occurred during a period when Fannie and Freddie's market share of high-risk mortgages dropped.
By David Min - TheAtlantic.com
Two weeks ago, we published an interview with Rep. Barney Frank. Defending his role as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee at the start of the recession, the congressman took a swipe at Peter Wallison, the member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission most critical of government's role in the crisis. Wallison responded, on our site, that Congress was indeed at the heart of the mortgage meltdown. Here, David Min, the associate director for Financial Markets Policy at the Center for American Progress, responds:
The 60-Something Entrepreneur:
Can a Start-Up Pay For Retirement?
Baby boomers who thought they were on the cusp of retirement have suffered more than any other group in America. Here's one way to fight back: Start a company.
By Darren Dahl - The Atlantic.com
It's rare for couples these days to stick together for as long as John and Patsy McArthur have. Both now 63, they met in high school in rural Red Springs, N.C., and never ventured far. In their 45 years together, they have run a farm and, since 1987, a contracting business. As recently as 2008, when the housing market was booming, annual revenues of their 60-employee McArthur Construction topped $14 million. This got the McArthurs thinking about selling their company and using the proceeds to ease into retirement, figuring to travel and spend more time with their grandchildren.
Oops. That was before the bottom fell out of the real-estate market. When it did, the McArthurs quickly sold some equipment, paid down debt, and scaled back their payroll by cutting the staff to 45. They closed their office in Charlotte, where the building boom had gone bust, and moved the business back near home, where rent and land cost less. "We kept bidding all the time on new projects, but we had to cut our profit margin to the bone," John Mc-Arthur said.
Seniors mind their business
These baby boomers and seniors take on and deftly handle entrepreneurship in the latter part of their lives.
Boomers vs. Millennials: The Fight of a Generation (or Two)
When 20-somethings battle baby boomers over society's limited resources, expect the boomers to (gasp) retreat.
By Kirk Victor - TheAtlantic.com
GREAT FALLS, Va.--Economist and demographer Neil Howe sells himself as an expert on generations. He argues that when people are born determines the cultural and historical context in which they are reared and therefore their attitudes and values. His 1991 book, Generations, coauthored with the late William Strauss, proposed a cyclical view of U.S. history as a succession of idealistic or civic-minded--or reactive or adaptive--generations.
Not all scholars were impressed, but the authors' analysis offers a useful prism for making sense of the nation's economic plight. Howe foresees a clash between seniors and the Millennials--a term that he and Strauss coined--coming of age in this century. (Generation X was sandwiched between baby boomers and Millennials.) He also predicts a surprising victor: yes, the young 'uns.
Congress approves $10 million for Gulf War illness research
By Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Congress has approved dedicating $10 million to research the mysterious Gulf War illness, ending concerns from veterans' groups that the money would disappear because of budget problems.
The spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday and signed by President Obama includes the money for specific research into the series of ailments suffered by veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Originally, money for the research would have to come from a larger pot of money that could have been spent on other work besides studying Gulf War illness.
Congress Blocks Enforcement
of Incandescent Light Bulb’s Phaseout in U.S.
By Jim Snyder - Bloomberg.com
Congress spared the 100-watt incandescent light bulb from a government-enforced phaseout in a win for Tea Party activists over manufacturers who said they are already switching to more energy-efficient products.
Lawmakers cleared legislation today to fund the government through Sept. 30, with a provision barring the Energy Department from carrying out the elimination of the pear-shaped bulb. Groups backing small government urged Republican allies to block the requirement, calling it an example of regulatory overreach in keeping with the health-care overhaul and the Wall Street bailout.
Congress' bill may slow switch to efficient light bulbs
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Congress' move this weekend to save Thomas Edison's 131-year-old incandescent light bulb from a federally-required phaseout, slated to begin Jan. 1., may slow but not halt the nation's switch to more efficient lighting.
The Senate and House passed a massive spending bill, which President Obama is expected to sign this week, that includes a measure barring the Department of Energy from enforcing more efficient light bulb rules. Those rules, requiring bulbs use at least 25% less energy, do not ban all incandescents but phase out Edison's bulbs in favor of the more efficient halogen incandescent, the CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED (light emitting diode.)
Watches that compute
are the next small thing in technology
By John Boudreau - LATimes.com
The watch may be making a comeback — and it will do much more than just tell time.
As people have become equipped with smartphones, laptops and other digital devices with clocks, the importance of the wristwatch has diminished. But a bevy of smartwatches — devices that aim to alert users to text messages and phone calls, and even monitor health — are being rolled out in coming months by entrepreneurs who hope to create a 21st century relevance for a centuries-old gadget, the timepiece.
How the iPod and Other Audio Devices
Are Destroying Your Ears
Damage from music is not always permanent, but some audiologists have seen mp3-inflicted issues so strong that hearing aids were needed
By Sara J. Martinez - TheAtlantic.com
Portable music players may be contributing to permanent hearing loss among many casual listeners, gradually leading to the inability to discern speech. An iPod's maximum volume is more than 10 times as loud as the recommended listening setting, audiologists say, and the sensory damage caused by prolonged listening is irreversible.
Since the iPod was introduced in 2001, hearing loss has been an obvious problem among young patients of Brian Fligor, an audiologist at the Boston Children's Hospital.
'That's Our Job':
The Government Investigates Cellphone Wiretapping
As the government begins an investigation into Carrier IQ's cell phone-tracking software, memories of its own wiretapping scandal resurface
By Wendy Kaminer - TheAtlantic.com
"Spy on unsuspecting Americans? That's our job," you can imagine federal officials indignantly declaring as they investigate cell-phone tracking by the mobile software company, Carrier IQ. The National Security Agency began secret, illegal surveillance of our phone calls and Internet activities in 2001, as we belatedly learned in 2005. Yes, 2005 is a long time ago these days, when yesterday seems like old news; but the NSA scandal deserves to be remembered, especially when the government presumes to be outraged by telecom spying.
Mobile Carriers Claim
Consumer Consent to Carrier IQ Spying
By David Kravets - Wired.com
Americans consented to secretly installed software on 150 million mobile phones that logs what apps they use and what websites they visit and who they communicate with, according to mobile-phone makers and carriers.
Sprint, AT&T, HTC and Samsung told Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) Thursday that their end-user licensing agreements — those pages of fine print you sign when you get a new cell phone — authorize them to use Carrier IQ software to monitor app deployment, battery life, phone CPU output and data and cell-site connectivity. The companies’ statements, released by Franken, are a good roadmap to how the companies will fight federal privacy lawsuits already brought by consumers over the secret software.
Price of Oil to Remain High
as OPEC Limits World Production
Written by Gail Tverberg - OilPrice.com
The results of OPEC’s latest meeting to set oil production quotas were on Thursday last week. Instead of production targets for individual countries, a group production ceiling of 30 million barrels a day was set. This amount is a bit less than OPEC produced in November 2011 (actual 30.367 mbd), according to its reckoning, and less than it would have produced most of 2011, if Libyan production had stayed on line, based on the amounts shown in its November Oil Market Report
No Great Game:
The Story of Post-Cold War Powers in Central Asia
The U.S. has been increasingly active in these former Soviet satellites, but Russian influence is still a major force
By Joshua Foust - TheAtlantic.com
On December 16, 2011, Kazakhstan will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union. It was the last country to politically separate itself from Russia in 1991, the final nail in the coffin of the seven-decade Soviet experiment. The year saw a wave of Soviet states pulling away from the Soviet Union, like the skins of an onion, until only Russia was left in the center.
Central Asia, a part of the world that has long been the subject of speculation, romantic adventure fantasies, and misinformation, suddenly found itself in the global spotlight. Kazakhstan possessed the world's largest nuclear testing site in Semipalatinsk, dozens of nuclear weapons, a biological weapons research facility on Vozrozhdeniye Island in the dried-up Aral Sea, and huge reserves of oil and natural gas in the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan, too, had some of the world's largest reserves of natural gas.
Vaclav Havel, Czech dissident,
playwright, politician dead at 75
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
CNN) -- Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 75, his spokeswoman announced Sunday.
"Vaclav Havel left us today," Sabina Tancevova said in a short statement on Havel's website.
Havel, a puckish, absurdist playwright turned political activist, spent four and a half years in prison for opposing Czechslovakia's Communist government before emerging as a leader of the Velvet Revolution that swept it aside in 1989.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il, 69, Has Died
AP - ABCNews.com
Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic longtime leader, has died of heart failure. He was 69.
In a "special broadcast" Monday from the North Korean capital, state media said Kim died of a heart ailment on a train due to a "great mental and physical strain" on Dec. 17 during a "high intensity field inspection." It said an autopsy was done on Dec. 18 and "fully confirmed" the diagnosis.
Is America Waging a Covert War on Iran?
We still don't know the truth about the lost U.S. spy drone.
By Sheldon Richman - Reason.com
The U.S. government lost a spy drone over Iran. Is it part of an ongoing covert war?
Either Iranian forces shot it down or it fell out of the sky. We may never know which, but now the Obama administration wants it back. Iran says no. It is apparently studying the craft’s advanced stealth and other technology—and perhaps attempting to reverse engineer it.
This is not analogous to playful kids who accidentally throw a baseball into a neighbor’s yard and ask for it back. The U.S. government has been making war sounds in Iran’s direction for years, and these belligerent noises have grown louder in recent months. While there are grounds for believing the U.S. military does not want to attack Iran, which is far larger and more populous than Iraq and would require a long, bloody involvement throughout the region, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insist that "all options are on the table."
U.S. troops leave Iraq after nearly nine years
By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The final convoy of U.S. troops left Iraq on Sunday, bringing an end to almost nine years of war in which tens of thouands of Iraqis and nearly 4,500 Americans died, media reports said.
The last column of roughly 100 mainly U.S. military MRAP armored vehicles holding 500 U.S. troops crossed the southern Iraqi desert from their last base during the night and daybreak toward the Kuwaiti border, Reuters reported.
America’s Iraq Experience: Invasi-Eradicavi-Turbavi
by Ben Tanosborn - ZeroHedge.com
Julius Caesar undoubtedly was showing off with his Veni-Vidi-Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) when referencing to his short war outside Zela (Zile) in Turkey over two millennia ago. Similarly, if we were to use a short catchy-comment for the almost nine years America has invested in its "Iraq Mission," we would be on target by condensing the US experience in also three Latin words, although not as melodic this time: Invasi-Eradicavi-Turbavi which sadly stand for, I invaded, I destroyed and I threw-into-chaos.
No matter what the Pentagon and White House tell us, the fiasco in Iraq likely stands as the most costly mistake in America’s history, a true Keystone Kops type of political dark comedy. And it wasn’t a bad or flawed decision by a singular moron or group of morons – Bush the Younger, Sadist Cheney and Loquacious Rumsfeld composing the original warpath triumvirate, together with two dozen equally deranged staff of their inner circles. Unfortunately, this time Congress, together with a brainwashed public, closed rank with an evil and criminal White House. So, whether the American citizenry likes it or not… the Iraq conflict wasn’t just Bush’s war, but “the peoples’ war,” a war with a dangerous aftermath yet to come, one we’ll likely be paying for in the future with additional blood and treasure.
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