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Iran navy starts 10-day wargame in Strait of Hormuz
(Reuters) - Iran began 10 days of naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, raising concern about a possible closure of the world's most strategic oil transit channel in the event of any outbreak of military conflict between Tehran and the West.
The military drill, dubbed "Velayat-e 90," comes as the tension between the West and Iran is escalating over the Islamic state's nuclear program.
Some analysts and diplomats believe the Islamic Republic could try to block the strait in the event of any war with the West over suspicions it is seeking atom bombs. Iran's arch-foes Israel and the United States have not ruled out military action if diplomacy and sanctions fail to rein in Iran's nuclear work.
"Full Faith and Credit"
of General Obligation Bonds
Comes to Critical Test in Alabama Bankruptcy
By Mike Shedlock
General obligation bonds are thought to be perfectly safe because they are backed by the ability to tax, no matter what it takes to pay off the obligation. I have been waiting for a test of this theory and that time is at hand.
Jefferson County Alabama filed the biggest bankruptcy in the history of the US and has stopped paying interest on its general obligation bonds. For background details, please see Jefferson County Alabama Hires Bankruptcy Firm; Record Municipal Bankruptcy Coming; Death Spiral Swaps and JPMorgan Fraud Revisited.
In the New World of Safe Investments,
U.S. Debt Stands (Nearly) Alone
By Jordan Weissmann - TheAtlantic.com
When it comes to borrowing, the United States government gets a pretty sweet deal. The country has an elephantine national debt, which will only get bigger without serious spending cuts and tax hikes. We've had our credit rating downgraded, since nobody really trusts our Congress to act rationally. And yet, investors are so desperate for Treasuries that some would actually pay the government to take their money.
There's a simple reason. When it comes to rock-solid safe investments, Uncle Sam is pretty much the only game in town.
Florida Bankers Association:
More Bank Failures Could Be the Price of IRS Tax Rule
By: Lori Ann LaRocco - CNBC.com
Some banks in South Florida are hearing from foreign account holders concered about as a proposed IRS rule that would raise taxes on their accounts.
Right now, the interest collected non-resident U.S. bank and credit union accounts (called NRA’s for short) are not taxed. But the US Treasury is trying to change all that. In January of 2011, Obama’s IRS proposed a new rule that would require banks to report the interest paid to these accounts. The rule has not yet been officially adopted.
But its prospect has some NRA holders worried.
Why So Many Market Pros Made Bad Calls This Year
By: Reuters - CNBC.com
For anyone who makes money by making sense of financial markets, 2011 was a confounding year.
Whether it was Europe's seemingly intractable debt crisis, uprisings in the Middle East or the political bickering and growing debt burden that cost the United States its AAA credit rating, investors had to be more nimble than ever to stay ahead of swiftly changing sentiment.
No Christmas For Millions Of American Families This Year
For millions of American families, there will be no Christmas this year. The sad truth is that an increasing number of families simply do not have money for Christmas presents or any other luxuries right now. The number of Americans that fell into poverty set a new all-time record last year andextreme poverty is at the highest level ever measured in the United States. This Christmas, a lot of American families will be deciding whether to spend the little money that they do have on food, heat or medicine. All over America, the poor are getting poorer and each year the economic pain seems to get even worse. But there are also many American families that will have no Christmas this year for other reasons. Some are just sick and tired of all of the materialism that is involved in Christmas. Others are trying to be "politically correct" and don't want to offend anyone. There are even a growing number of Americans that are Christians but that believe that Christians should not celebrate Christmas for spiritual reasons. Once upon a time, Christmas was pretty much considered to be a nearly universal holiday in the United States, but that just is not the case anymore. There are millions upon millions of Americans that simply will not be celebrating Christmas at all this year.
A Very Scary Christmas
And An Incredibly Frightening New Year
Can you hear that? It almost sounds like a little bit of peace and quiet. This year, the holiday season has been fairly uneventful, and for that we should be very grateful. But it isn't going to last long. 2012 is going to be a much more difficult year for the U.S. economy and the global financial system than 2011 has been. So if things are going well for you right now, enjoy this little bubble of peace and tranquility while you can. Because while things may look calm on the surface right now, the truth is that this is a very scary Christmas for financial professionals and world leaders. Most of them know how fragile the global financial system is at the moment. Most of them know that we are living in the greatest bubble of debt, leverage and financial risk that the world has ever seen. As I wrote about the other day, world leaders would not be throwing huge bailouts around like crazy if everything was going to be just fine. The truth is that we are rapidly approaching another financial crisis that may end up being even worse than the horrific crash of 2008.
How to buy Silver using your IRA account
NEW YORK (Commodity Online): Jim Hitt, CEO of American IRA, is responding to a question that is growing in popularity--should people invest in silver? The decision as to whether to invest in Silver and Gold is as personal a decision as whether one prefers to wear silver or gold. The answer will vary depending on that persons personal preference.
Jim Hitt says "These days, it seems like every other ad they hear on talk radio is pitching gold. It’s true that gold has historically been an important store of value, a unit of exchange, and the commodity that traditionally undergirds currencies. But gold is not the only commodity with those properties.
Think Your IRA Is Safe? Better Think Again...
The MF Global bankruptcy is a blueprint for how the Government and wealthy bankers will begin to take everything that is kept within the confines of the financial system.
Ten years ago I tried to tell many friends and acquaintances that housing prices would collapse and this country was headed for disaster and that the only only way to protect themselves financially was to load up on gold and silver. Almost everyone looked at me like I needed my own floor in the mental health wing at Belleview Hospital in NYC. Of course, that was back when gold was around $300/oz. and housing prices were on average about 50% higher than they are now.
Gold hedging value increase in current scenario
By Giuseppe L. Borrelli - CommodityOnline.com
On the economic front we see that for the month of October personal income had gained 0.4% while spending had increased 0.1%. For November, economists polled by MarketWatch had expected personal income to gain 0.2%, and for spending to also rise 0.2%. Meanwhile, there was no growth in November for the price index for personal consumption expenditures, though this inflation gauge is up 2.5% from the prior year. The core inflation reading, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.1% in November, matching economists’ expectations.
Why silver did not cross $50/oz?
In an open letter to silver producers at the end of November, Sprott Inc. Chairman Eric Sprott cited an overleveraged banking system, weakening dollar and increasing demand as reasons to hold profits in silver rather than selling all production and putting the proceeds in the bank. "Given the current environment, we see much greater risk holding cash in a bank than we do in holding precious metals," Sprott said.
Interviewed mid-December Sprott, who is a major investor in physical and silver equities, explained why he wrote his letter. "I have always liked silver because I look at the physical supply and demand metrics and they scream that silver should be higher. But the price is being kept down by paper silver traders who are abusing the market."
The Three E’s: Economy, Election and Europe
Trade What You See:
Twilight Zone Market Where Shadows Linger
And Smoke And Mirrors Rule
BY JOE DUARTE - FinancialSense.com
Traders are starting to wonder if the stock market has factored in all of the possible bad news about Europe. If that's the case, then we should see higher stock prices over the next few weeks to months. Certainly this morning's action points to an upward bias, at least in the very short term.
Indeed, we are now at that point where either the market will finally move higher decisively or fail miserably starting a new down leg. And if you look at the charts, you have to be bearish, except for the fact that 1) the market is oversold, and 2) the market is incredibly treacherous these days. That means that as a trader, you have to consider all possibilities, recognize the potential for a significant move in any direction, and have a high index of suspicion for anything that happens. In other words, you have to trade what you see not what you think should happen.
European Debt Is 'Obviously Unserviceable'
BY CHRIS CIOVACCO - FinancialSense.com
Referencing Kyle Bass’ work in a December 18 video, we noted numerous countries have an unstable combination of debt and revenue relative to the size of their banking system. Another excellent source for debt sustainability analysis comes from Jeffery Gundlach, manager of the 2011 top-performing U.S. bond fund. Mr. Gundlach was recently interviewed by the Financial Times. He does not subscribe to the theory European leaders can "put a Band Aid on a system which didn’t break a week ago, or a month ago, or a year ago. It’s been in the process for years." His analysis came to the same conclusion as Mr. Bass’; default on unpayable obligations will occur. He also believes growing the way out of the problem is not an option since the debt is "obviously unserviceable". Mr. Gundlach summarized the gravity of the situation as follows (Financial Times, 12/21/2011):
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's Predictions for 2012:
China's growth model tests its limits
China’s Communist Party is gambling that this year’s tap on the brakes has been just enough to curb the housing boom and stop inflation pushing up to danger levels, but not enough to tip the economy into a hard-landing.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
The great hope is that Goldilocks growth can be kept on track to ensure an orderly transition of power in October 2012, when a new generation of leaders takes charge of the 1.3bn strong nation for the first time in a decade.
The front-runner for General Secretary appears to be Xi Jinping, China’s "Redder than Red" mystery man.
With public debt at just 15.4pc of GDP (IMF data), China has the fiscal firepower if needed to shore up growth if the downturn proves harder than expected. The central bank can open the monetary spigot, slashing the reserve asset requirement for banks and lifting the restrictions on the property market. That at least is the theory. The question is whether it will be so easy in practice to calibrate a soft-landing after the post-Lehman credit blitz.
China’s local governments are taking on a lot of debt
By Michael Forsythe and Henry Sanderson - Bloomberg - WashingtonPost.com
A copy of Manhattan, complete with Rockefeller and Lincoln centers and what passes for the Hudson River, is under construction an hour’s train ride from Beijing. And like New York City in the 1970s, it may need a bailout.
Debt accumulated by companies financing local governments such as Tianjin, home to the New York lookalike project, is rising, according to a survey of Chinese-language bond prospectuses. It also suggests the total owed by all such entities probably dwarfs the count by China’s national auditor and figures disclosed by banks.
Seeking to Circumvent Possible U.S. Trade Sanctions,
China Buys Hawaiian Solar Company
Written by John Daly - OilPrice.com
Chinese investment in the U.S. economy up to now has been primarily in the form of U.S. Treasury bills.
But, reading the U.S. press and conservative calls for punitive trade tariffs against China, Beijing’s investors have taken a leaf out of Tokyo’s 40 year-old playbook, when similar concerns were raised about Japanese imports. Four decades ago Japan cannily began not only to establish factories in the U.S. for its major U.S. exports, primarily automobiles, but began a cautious policy of investing in struggling U.S. companies, so if and when Congress got more xenophobic Japanese manufacturers could point out that trade barriers would harm American workers as well as Japanese ones.
ECB's €489bn will 'buy valuable time'
but is no eurozone debt bazooka
The European Central Bank's (ECB) unprecedented provision of a €489bn (£407.5bn) in cheap loans will "buy valuable time" for eurozone banks but has not improved their credit outlook, a director of Standard & Poor's (S&P) has warned.
By Louise Armitstead - Telegraph.co.uk
Amid a fresh raft of poor eurozone economic data, Scott Bugie, head of S&P's financial institutions division doused the key cause for pre-Christmas optimism. Although he agreed Wednesday's long-term refinancing operation was a "big deal", Mr Bugie told Reuters: "It is not solving the fundamental issues though... It's kicking the can a long way down the road rather than just a little bit, but in the end it is still kicking the big old can down the road."
He said the action did not "change the fundamental picture but it does buy valuable time". He added: "The move in itself will not lead to any improvement in (banks') credit ratings."
BofA Prepared for 'Turbulent Times'
By Hugh Son - Bloomberg.com
Bank of America Corp. (BAC) Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan told employees in a year-end letter that he bolstered the firm against risk and will make more improvements in 2012.
"We greatly strengthened our risk culture in 2011, and that work has laid the foundation that will carry us through whatever turbulent times may lie ahead," Moynihan wrote in a letter posted yesterday to an internal employee website. A copy of the message was obtained by Bloomberg News.
If the S&P drops around 15%, printing presses will run hot
By Marc Faber
NEW YORK (Commodity Online): With the dismal shape of the financial markets , most investments may will lose about 50% of their value within 5 years, says Marc Faber, editor of the widely read Gloom Boom and Doom report.
In a Reuters Interview, Marc says that if the S&P drops 10%-15%, then the US and Europe are "going to print money", adding that "There is no doubt that QE3 will come in one form or the other, and in Europe also. They will monetize"
"I am convinced the whole derivatives market will cease to exit. Will become zero. And when it happens I don’t know: you can postpone the problems with monetary measures for a long time but you can’t solve them… Greece should have defaulted – it would have sent a message that not all derivatives are equal because it depends on the counterparty", he added.
The Four Companies
That Control the 147 Companies
That Own Everything
By Brendan Coffey - Forbes.com
There may be 147 companies in the world that own everything, as colleague Bruce Upbin points out and they are dominated by investment companies as Eric Savitz rightly points out. But it’s not you and I who really control those companies, even though much of our money is in them. Given the nature of how money is invested, there are four companies in the shadows that really control those companies that own everything.
Before I reveal them, some light math:
According to the 2011 annual factbook from the Investment Company Institute, there is $24.7 trillion in all the mutual funds in the world (a little less than half from the US). Based on data from the ICI, $1.24 trillion of this is directly invested in index funds, plus another $992 billion in assets beyond that $24.7 trillion in Exchange Traded Funds, which aren’t mutual funds but are index funds. That means the bulk of that money is in “active” managed funds or fund of funds.
Treasury naming housing finance adviser
(Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is building a team focused on the implementation of housing-finance policy in 2012, according to a Treasury official.
Michael Stegman, who has been director of policy and housing at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will be joining the Department of the Treasury as a counselor to the secretary in January.
In his new role at Treasury, Stegman will help the administration navigate the development and implementation of housing policy and programs.
Net liabilities hit $14.8 trillion in FY11: Treasury
(Reuters) - The U.S. government fell deeper into the red in fiscal 2011 with net liabilities swelling more than $1 trillion as commitments on government debt and federal benefits rose, a U.S. Treasury report showed on Friday.
The Financial Report of the United States, which applies corporate-style accrual accounting methods to Washington, showed the government's liabilities exceeded assets by $14.785 trillion. That compared with a $13.473 trillion gap a year earlier.
Fitch again warns U.S. debt burden threatens AAA rating
By Daniel Bases
(Reuters) - Fitch Ratings on Wednesday warned again that the United States' rising debt burden was not consistent with maintaining the country's top AAA credit rating, but said there would likely be no decision on whether to cut the rating before 2013.
Last month, Fitch changed its U.S. credit rating outlook to negative from stable, citing the failure of a special congressional committee to agree on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit-reduction measures.
"Federal debt will rise in the absence of expenditure and tax reforms that would address the challenges of rising health and social security spending as the population ages," Fitch said in a statement.
Special Report: The watchdogs that didn't bark
By Scot Paltrow - Reuters.com
(Reuters) - Four years after the banking system nearly collapsed from reckless mortgage lending, federal prosecutors have stayed on the sidelines, even as judges around the country are pointing fingers at possible wrongdoing.
The federal government, as has been widely noted, has pressed few criminal cases against major lenders or senior executives for the events that led to the meltdown of 2007. Finding hard evidence has proved difficult, the Justice Department has said.
The government also hasn't brought any prosecutions for dubious foreclosure practices deployed since 2007 by big banks and other mortgage-servicing companies.
Justice to require sale before NYSE merger
AP - WashingtonTimes.com
The Justice Department announced Thursday that it will allow the creation of the world’s largest stock exchange operator after the German conglomerate that wants to buy the New York Stock Exchangesells its stake in a third, smaller American stock exchange operator.
Justice Department lawyers filed papers in U.S. District Court in Washington that would allow the merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse AG after the German company orders one of its subsidiaries to sell its 31.5 percent stake in Direct Edge Holdings LLC, which is the United States’ fourth-largest stock exchange operator. In addition to the sale of Direct Edge, the proposed settlement between Justice and the two companies prohibits them from participating in the business or running of Direct Edge.
Payroll tax cut may hurt housing market
To pay for the two-month payroll tax cut, a small fee will be levied for a decade on all mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That also makes it harder to overhaul the housing finance system.
By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington— The new mortgage fee to fund the temporary extension of the payroll tax cut could damp the still-sluggish real estate market and complicate efforts to overhaul the nation's wounded housing finance system.
Even though the tax cut approved Friday extends for only two months, a small fee on loan amounts will be levied for a decade on all mortgages sold to housing finance giants Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac, which control about 60% of the nation's mortgage market.
Countrywide's Racist Lending Practices Were Fueled by Greed
Countrywide Financial overcharged more than 200,000 black and Hispanic borrowers for their mortgages. The reason? The insatiable hunt for profit.
By Jordan Weissmann - TheAtlantic.com
Economic racism is a slippery thing in 2011. It's not out in the open, like a "whites only" sign above a lunch counter. And it's not explicit, like the deed to a house barring its sale to blacks or Jews.
Instead, it's submerged. It lives in patterns of discrimination hidden within reams and reams of hard to analyze data. It's not necessarily driven by animus or hate. Sometimes it's just a product of garden-variety greed.
For proof, direct your attention to the record-setting settlement announced this week between the Justice Department and Bank of America over the mortgage lending practices of Countrywide Financial. The bank agreed to pay $335 million dollars to settle claims that, at the height of housing boom, Countrywide routinely discriminated against blacks and Hispanics by charging them higher interest rates and fees than equally qualified white customers.
The Death Certificate Of The Paper Dollar: Where To Next?
By Ralph Benko - Forbes.com
The world dollar standard’s death certificate arrives in the mail this week. The Bank of England — "the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" — one of the most staid, cautious, and dignified entities in the world of monetary policy — signals that the fiduciary currency standard ushered in on August 15, 1971 is, empirically measured, far inferior to the (dilute form of the) gold standard erected at Bretton Woods. Fellow Forbes.com columnist Charles Kadlec thoroughlyreprises and analyzes the facts submitted to a candid world by the Bank of England in a paper to be officially published December 20, 2011.
The Bank of England’s Financial Stability Paper No. 13, Reform of the International Monetary and Financial System, reported atBloomberg BusinessWeek and reviewed here, is being seen by many monetary policy observers around the world as the "coroner’s report" on the death of the world dollar standard.
Weak consumer spending hits US growth hopes
Consumer spending in America rose by less than expected in November, casting fresh doubt on the country's economic recovery.
By Jamie Dunkley - Telegraph.co.uk
Spending rose by 0.1pc last month, according to data from the US Commerce Department, while incomes rose 0.1pc – the weakest showing since falling by 0.1pc in August.
Both the spending and income gains came in below expectations. Economists had predicted that solid increases in spending could boost economic growth in the final three months of what has been a difficult year for the US economy.
America's Most Depressing Employment Stat
By Jordan Weissmann - TheAtlantic.com
There are any number of woeful statistics that you can cherry-pick to capture the awfulness of America's employment market. Long-term unemployment. Underemployment. Youth unemployment. They're all bad. If you want one number that captures the despair many of the jobless are experiencing, though, check out the workforce participation rate.
Yesterday, James Pethokoukis posted a chart that nicely illustrates what America's unemployment rate would be if so many discouraged workers hadn't simply given up on trying to find a job. Instead of 8.6%, where we're at now, we'd be hovering right about 11%.
Sorry Brick-and-Mortar Retailers:
Despite the Glitches,
Consumers Prefer the Online Channel
By Erika Morphy - Forbes.com
Best Buy dropped a bombshell on a few of its customers earlier this week, informing them that gifts they ordered to be delivered by Christmas were not going to make it on time.
Tom Nenon, a philosophy professor at the University of Memphis told Reuters that Best Buy tried to get him to accept an older model, at the same price, as a replacement for the 42″ Samsung TV, he originally ordered.
Not to single out Best Buy however: customers are reporting similar problems with Target, Wal-Mart and Barneys, Reuters says.
Holiday shopping falls short of hopes
Consumer spending ticks up in Nov.,
but holiday shopping falls short of hopes
By Ylan Q. Mui - WashingtonPost.com
Consumer spending ticked higher in November, according to government data released Friday, marking the fifth consecutive month of gains but disappointing some economists who had hoped that momentum in holiday shopping would lead to a merrier month.
The holiday season is critical for the retail industry as well as the broader economy, with roughly two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product driven by consumer spending. Robust spending in the fall coupled with retailers’ reports of long lines and ringing cash registers on Black Friday, the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season, had fueled expectations for a brighter November. Analysts had expected a 0.3 percent increase in spending last month; consumers delivered a 0.1 percent blip.
The Day After Christmas
By George Will PatriotPost.us
And silence, like a poultice, comes
To heal the blows of sound.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
WASHINGTON -- This year, Christmas itself is a present. It is the gift of an absence, a respite from the Republican presidential clamors. The pitiless cacophony resumes tomorrow, so consider some gleanings from history before actual voters, those nuisances, intrude on the political conversation and actually make some history.
The current Republican front-runner, Newt Gingrich, has not held elective office since he was ousted as speaker by a mutiny in his own House caucus 14 years ago. Leave aside the five presidents who had never held elective office before entering the White House. (William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover had held Cabinet offices; Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower had been Army generals.) Only two of the other presidents were elected after an electoral hiatus as long as Gingrich's:
Obama calls for payroll tax cut
to be extended 'without delay' as bill passes
Short-term bill to extend tax cuts for 160m Americans makes it through Congress, handing president hard-fought victory
By Chris McGreal - Guardian.co.uk
President Barack Obama marked a rare political victory over Republican leaders in Congress – who bowed to White House demands on Friday for a short-term extension to tax reductions for working Americans – by calling for the measure to be applied to the rest of 2012 "without drama, without delay".
After defiantly refusing to approve the two-month extension to the employment tax break and unemployment benefits, Republican leaders backed down in the face of rising public frustration at the prospect of a sharp tax increase on 1 January.
Payroll tax fight leaves Hill Republicans divided and angry
By Rosalind S. Helderman - WashingtonPost.com
Congressional Republicans leave Washington for the holidays divided and embittered over the last round of December’s payroll-tax fight, and their lingering unhappiness could complicate negotiations starting in January on a deal for a full-year tax holiday.
Some House Republicans say they feel sold out by their counterparts in the Senate. For their part, Senate Republicans had worried that their House colleagues were harming the GOP’s chances of winning back their chamber by risking a tax increase if House members didn’t get concessions they wanted.
FDA Won’t Act Against Ag Antibiotic Use
By Maryn McKenna - Wired.com
With no notice other than a holiday-eve posting in the Federal Register, the US Food and Drug Administration has reneged on its long-stated intention to compel large-scale agriculture to curb over-use of agricultural antibiotics, which it had planned to do by reversing its approval for putting penicillin and tetracyclines in feed.
How long-stated? The FDA first announced its intention to withdraw those approvals in 1977.
From the official posting:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is withdrawing two 1977 notices of opportunity for a hearing (NOOH), which proposed to withdraw certain approved uses of penicillin and tetracyclines intended for use in feeds for food-producing animals based in part on microbial food safety concerns.1 … (1FDA’s approval to withdraw the approved uses of the drugs was based on three statutory grounds: (1) The drugs are not shown to be safe (21 U.S.C. 360b(e)(1)(B)); (2) lack of substantial evidence of effectiveness (21 U.S.C. 360b(e)(1)(C)); and (3) failure to submit required reports (21 U.S.C. 360b(e)(2)(A)).)
Go Daddy pulls SOPA support
By Hayley Tsukayama, WashingtonPost.com
After backlash from customers, Go Daddy announced Friday that it is no longer supportingthe Stop Online Piracy Act.
In a company statement, the domain registrar said that it has removed previous postings about its position to "eliminate confusion."
"In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support the security and stability of the Internet," the company said in a statement. "In an effort to eliminate any confusion about its reversal on SOPA though, Jones has removed blog postings that had outlined areas of the bill Go Daddy did support."
The company had been catching some heatfrom customers who disagreed with the company’s position on the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.
'Anonymous' hackers target U.S. security think tank
By Cassandra Vinograd and Ramit Plushnick-Masti - AP - WashingtonTimes.com
LONDON — The loose-knit hacking movement “Anonymous” claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor. One hacker said the goal was to pilfer funds from individuals’ accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards.
Anonymous boasted of stealing Stratfor’s confidential client list, which includes entities ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force to theMiami Police Department, and mining it for more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.
Iran says ready to expand military links with Iraq
Iran stands ready to expand its military and security ties with Iraq, its armed forces chief of staff said Sunday, a week after the exit of US forces from the neighbouring Arab country.
General Hassan Firouzabadi hailed the "forced departure" of the US and allied forces that he said "was due to the resistance and determination of the Iraqi people and government," the state Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The statements were made in messages Firouzabadi sent to his Iraqi counterpart, Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari, and to Iraq's acting defence minister, Saadun al-Dulaimi, IRNA said.
Russian anti-Putin protests
draw thousands to Moscow again
Opposition activists claim 80,000 attend demonstration over vote-rigging claims, as Gorbachev calls on Putin to resign
By Miriam Elder and Tom Parfitt in Moscow - Guardian.co.uk
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Moscow to protestagainst allegedly fraudulent elections, as opposition leaders issued scathing personal attacks on Vladimir Putin in the hope of preventing his return to the presidency next year.
Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Putin to follow his own example and step down. Former leader Gorbachev said on Ekho Moskvy radio that if Putin stepped down now he would be remembered for the positive things he did during his 12 years in power.
Iraq Under Seige
By Arnold Ahlert - PatriotPost.us
A coordinated wave of bomb attacks has rocked the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. At least 69 people have been killed and more than 185 injured in a series of 14 explosions, consisting of four car-bombs and 10 improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This is the worst violence to besiege Iraq in months, and it puts an exclamation point on the daunting reality that America may have prematurely left a nation whose government remains ruptured by sectarian divisions. Divisions that may ultimately undermine the enormous sacrifices made by American troops, and plunge the country into sectarian turmoil.
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