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Silver Hoard Near Record
As Hedge-Fund Bulls Recoil: Commodities
By Nicholas Larkin - Bloomberg.com
At a time when hedge funds are the least bullish on silver in almost four years, investors' holdings are near a record, siding with the analysts predicting a rally as central banks move to bolster growth.
Speculators cut bets on higher prices by 72 percent since the end of February, mirroring changes in their copper wagers, which turned bearish in May, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Silver held in exchange-traded products climbed for three months and is now valued at $16.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Prices will average $33.02 an ounce in the fourth quarter, 18 percent more than now, the median of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.
The Keys To Understanding the Collapse of the Status Quo:
Credibility and Expectations
When expectations are raised to impossible heights based on the promise of exponential financialization, the credibility of the Status Quo is doomed.
By Charles Hugh Smith - OfTwoMinds.com
Data is important, but not all trends can be quantified. Longtime readers know that I value data and often use charts to explain the forces of transition/collapse. But there are profound dynamics that are not easily quantified, instances in which quantification may obscure our understanding.
Credibility and expectations are two such dynamics. Both credibility and expectations are very real forces, despite their status as inner states immune to direct measurement.
The Fed's inflation 'solution'
If you think you haven't been paying high enough prices, you're in luck. Some Federal Reserve officials agree with you.
By Bill Fleckenstein - Money.MSN.com
Prominent articles in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times on Tuesday discussed interviews given Monday by the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Eric Rosengren, and they naturally goosed the market while also getting under my skin.
For one, the articles made it painfully obvious that Rosengren is a central planner at heart. If he had his way, he would unleash as much money as it took to force the economy to deliver the lower job and higher inflation rates he wants:
Currency's Days Seen Numbered
Investors Prepare for Euro Collapse
By Martin Hesse - Spiegel.de
Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar's structure isn't in doubt.
Otmar Issing is looks a bit tired. The former chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB) is sitting on a barstool in a room adjoining the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. He resembles a father whose troubled teenager has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Issing is just about to explain again all the things that have gone wrong with the euro, and why the current, as yet unsuccessful efforts to save the European common currency are cause for grave concern.
A New Marshall Plan Would Shake Things Up
BY JOE DUARTE - FinancialSense.com
If Central Banks Played Heavy Metal The Would Turn Their Money Amps To Eleven
The financial markets seem to be equally betting on whether the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB) will decide to unleash the printing presses at any time in the near future and what the consequences of this actually happening or not may be for the future of the global economy.
It's really complex, but it's not complicated. In 2008, after several years of excessive speculation in real estate, fueled by unethical business practices in the subprime mortgage industry, the housing market in the U.S. and eventually the world collapsed. That's pretty normal market stuff. Eventually somebody is the last buyer at the end of a trend and the market collapses.
World shipping crisis threatens German dominance
as Greeks win long game
Germany's shipping industry faces a wave of bankruptcies over coming months as funding dries up and deepening economic woes across the world cause a sharp contraction in container trade.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
Over 100 German ship funds have already shut down as the long-simmering crisis in global container shipping finally comes to a head. A further 800 funds are threatened with insolvency, according to consultants TPW in Hamburg.
They are not alone. Britain's oldest shipowner, Stephenson Clark, dating back to 1730, went into liquidation last week, closing the final chapter of Britain's coal trade and the industrial revolution.
It cited "incredibly depressed" vessel rates. The firm over-invested in the boom four years ago, betting too much on the China syndrome.
The Dog That's Not Barking
BY DOUGLAS NOLAND - FinancialSense.com
The "go ahead, make my day," Draghi "will do everything to save the euro" rally saw Spanish and Italian stocks jump 10.6% and 9.5%, respectively, in six sessions. The S&P500 rose 2.0%, with the Goldman Sachs "Most Short" index surging 7.4% (in six sessions). Spain's two-year yields sank 160 bps in four sessions and Italy's fell 100 bps. Crude, gold andcommodities popped. Somewhat the dog that didn't bark, the euro closed today at 1.2252, up little since Draghi's comments and only about 2% above recent trading lows. Spain's 10-year yields ended the week at a problematic 6.85% and, at 5.88%, Italy's 10-year yields were only somewhat less discouraging.
China and Germany: a new special relationship?
a special relationship between Germany and China is emerging
Hans Kundnani and Jonas Parello-Plesner - ECFC.org
The increase in trade between China and Germany during the last decade – and, in particular, in German exports to China – has exceeded all expectations. Germany is China's number-one trade partner in the EU and China is the top foreign investment destination for German companies.
Based on this emerging economic symbiosis between China and Germany, a "special relationship" is now developing. But is this trade-based relationship damaging wider European strategic interests in areas such as foreign policy, energy and raw materials, climate change and human rights?
The Great Mart
Putting a warming relationship in prophetic context
BY BRAD MacDONALD and RON FRASER - TheTrumpet.com
Do you believe in the predictive power of Bible prophecy?
Three years ago, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry forecasted the formation of a brief alliance between a German-led European Union and major Asian powers, based primarily on trade and commerce.
This past May, the European Council on Foreign Relations, a well-respected think tank, published a revelatory report titled "China and Germany: Why the Emerging Special Relationship Matters for Europe." It confirms the emergence of the relationship Mr. Flurry spoke of three years ago.
African nations chase away the almighty dollar
Governments, looking to boost local currencies,
impose penalties for dollar use
By Patrick McGroarty
(MarketWatch) — African countries are trying to shoo the U.S. dollar away, even if it means threatening to throw people who use greenbacks in jail.
Starting next year, Angola will require oil and gas companies to pay tax revenue and local contracts in kwanza, its currency, rather than dollars. Mozambique wants companies to exchange half of their export earnings for meticais, hoping to pull more of the wealth in vast coal and natural-gas deposits into the domestic economy. And Ghana is seeking similar ways to reinforce "the primacy of the domestic currency," after the cedi plummeted more than 17% against the dollar in the first six months of this year.
A US sledgehammer to crack Standard Chartered
To quote Joseph Heller's Catch-22: "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."
By Kamal Ahmed - Telegraph.co.uk
Peter Sands, the chief executive of Standard Chartered and until last week the High Priest of banking virtue, must be wondering what he's done in a previous life to deserve the attentions of Benjamin Lawsky.
Mr Lawsky, who describes himself as "strategically aggressive", is the head of the New York State Department of Financial Services, known as DFS in shorthand, the same name as a rather good UK sofa emporium.
Gary Shilling: US in Recession Now or Within 3 Months, Deleveraging Will Take 5-7 More Years
By Mike Shedlock - GlobalEconomicAnalysis.blogspot.com
In a Daily Ticker Interview with Henry Blodget, economist Gary Shilling makes the case the US is already in recession.
"We've had three consecutive months of declines in retail sales," says Shilling, president of A. Shilling & Co., an economic research and forecasting firm. "That's happened 29 times since they started collecting the data in 1947, and in 27 of the 29 we were either in a recession or within three months of it."
How US Corporations Became Addicted To Endless QE
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
While many argue that corporate profitability in the US knows no bounds as cost-cutting amid 'slow' growth will fill the gap, we offer this quite compellingly nerve-jangling chart of the increasing dependence of S&P non-financial operating profits and the weakness of the US Dollar. The negative correlation between macro-level EPS and the U.S. dollar is both theoretically and empirically clear. As Citi points out, profits earned abroad are reported in depreciating or appreciating terms, boosting or reducing profits; and as the negative correlation between the USD and global growth can result in 'double counting' of earnings influences - this leads to too much hope at 'turning points'.
Wall Street's Conundrum Isn't Bernanke's Problem
BY VEDRAN VUK - FinancialSense.com
With Mario Draghi and Ben Bernanke refusing to open the floodgates for yet more monetary stimulus last week, Wall Street is again disappointed. Expectedly, the market slid downward in response before the jobs report picked it back up. But was this really so unpredictable to warrant such a slide? No, not really. Nonetheless, Wall Street expected more stimulus as institutional investors are analyzing monetary policy from their perspective rather than the central bank's viewpoint - a big mistake.
The failure of supply-side tax cuts
We're still waiting for the benefits to trickle down
By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Some 30 years after the Republican Party was smitten by supply-side economics, the Grand Old Party remains faithful to the creed, even if history hasn't been kind to the idea that tax cuts and deregulation alone will lead to a wondrous new era of American prosperity.
Mitt Romney's economic platform is little changed from George W. Bush's or Ronald Reagan's. It's sparse on details, likely because it can be summed up in four powerful words: Government IS the problem. Like Reagan and Bush, Romney says he's positive that the American economy would thrive if we'd only liberate businesses (that is, "job creators") from pesky regulations and onerous taxes.
JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon defends banks,
says London Whale has been 'harpooned'
JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon has said the London Whale responsible for a $5.8bn trading loss has been "harpooned", as he defended the role of big banks in society.
By Andrew Trotman - Telegraph.co.uk
In an interview with New York Magazine, he blasted the backlash against bankers, calling himself "an outspoken defender of the truth" and angrily reminding the journalist that America is a "free f----ing country".
Financial institutions bore the brunt of public anger following multi-million-pound bonuses for executives despite a global financial collapse and subsequent recession.
But Dimon, who has led the bank for seven years and was paid a record $49.9m in 2007, has insisted that people have forgotten that the good things banks - especially big banks - can do often filter down to consumers.
Jamie Dimaon Is Sorry,... Kinda
122 Minutes With Jamie Dimon
The JPMorgan Chase CEO is really, really, really sorry.
Except when he's not.
By Jessica Pressler - NYMag.com
Even here, on his own turf, they are giving Jamie Dimon a hard time.
"Um, yeah, my question is kind of broad?" begins a gawky guy who identifies himself as a Tufts student interning in Client Solutions. "Earlier this summer we had the LIBOR scandal that was involved with a lot of the big banks and led to the resignation of the CEO from Barclays. More recently we had Sandy Weill saying the banks needed to be broken up. With the banks so big, how is it possible to monitor every aspect?"
Maybe not illegal, but he acted on privileged information the rest of us did not have access to, even if not technically 'insider trading'.
Career politicians are well PAID, in all respects.
Paul Ryan sold shares on same day
as private briefing of banking crisis
Vice-presidential candidate attended 2008 meeting with Fed chairman in which officials outlined fears for financial crisis
By Dominic Rushe in New York - Guardian.co.uk
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.
The congressman is facing questions about whether he profited from information gleaned from the meeting on 18 September 2008 when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, then treasury secretary Hank Paulson and others outlined their fears for the banking sector.
....Until this year members of Congress were allowed to trade on price-sensitive information gathered at Washington meetings. Nor is Ryan alone in having done so. CBS's 60 Minutes criticised Democrat Nancy Pelosi for buying into Visa's initial public offering as the House discussed credit card legislation.
Paul Ryan Insider Trading Rumor Quickly Debunked
By BENJY SARLIN - TalkingPointsMemo.com
It had the makings of a scandal: Paul Ryan traded banking stocks during the financial crisis the same day as a meeting with top Treasury Department officials, a Virginia blog wrote Monday. But the rumor, which spread rapidly across the Internet, doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
The meeting in question took place on Sept. 18, 2008, between Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and congressional leaders including Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner and Harry Reid. The Richmonder, a progressive Virginia blog, noted on Monday that Ryan'sfinancial disclosure form from 2008 showed that he sold stock in Citigroup and JP Morgan, who were in crisis, the same day and bought stock in Goldman Sachs, which proved to be stronger. The blog claimed that Ryan also attended the meeting. The implication, they stated, was that he was using information gleaned from the briefing for personal profit.
The Flawed Credit Card Debt Collection Process
By Tracy Bloom - Truthdig.com
Credit card companies are increasingly turning to the legal system in their rush to collect money that is owed to them. But, there now exists a very big problem in this litigious-happy practice—nearly all these lawsuits are flawed, at least, said a civil judge who presides over such cases in New York.
"I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can't prove the person owes the debt," said Noach Dear, who sees about 100 such cases every day.
Get Ready for an Economic Data Deluge
By Dunstan Prial - FOXBusiness.com
Economic reports due next week will cover a spectrum of important sectors from housing to retail to consumer sentiment. Important inflation data will also be released.
The housing sector has been unable to bounce back from lows reached in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Too much speculative building leading up to the crisis has created bloated inventories. Add to that millions of homes forced empty by foreclosure and a huge swath of the U.S. economy has essentially been handcuffed for four years.
Currency Flows Reversing China To Colombia As Trade Slows
By Ye Xie and Andrea Wong - Bloomberg.com
Just three months after the biggest developing economies sold dollars to support their currencies, policy makers from Colombia to China are moving to weaken exchange rates and revive exports as the International Monetary Fund forecasts the slowest trade growth in three years.
Colombian Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry urged the central bank on Aug. 3 to boost minimum dollar purchases from $20 million a day, saying the country needs "more ammunition" to drive down the peso in the global "currency war." The Philippines banned foreign funds from deposit accounts and unexpectedly cut interest rates in July as the peso hit a four- year high. In China, authorities lowered the yuan reference rate to the weakest since November, which according to Citigroup Inc. will create "headwinds" for other Asian currencies.
You Will Not Believe What Some People
Are Willing To Do For A Paycheck These Days
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
It is absolutely amazing what some people will do to make a living in this economy. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we have not seen this kind of desperation for jobs in America since the Great Depression of the 1930s. What some people are willing to put up with just to bring home a paycheck these days will totally shock you. For example, would you slaughter dogs all day long even though you are really a dog lover? Would you personally train your replacement from China even though you knew he was about to take your job? Would you trade sex for a job? There are people out there actually doing all these things and worse. Every night in America, millions upon millions of people roll around endlessly in their beds and stare at their ceilings for hours because they can't sleep. They are sick to their stomachs because their money is gone and nobody will hire them. They can't provide even the basics for their families and they feel worthless. Unemployment can be absolutely soul crushing and it can suck the life right out of you. Things were supposed to be better by now, but they aren't. The month after Barack Obama took office the unemployment rate broke the 8 percent barrier and it has stayed above it ever since. But the truth is that the "official" unemployment number greatly understates the real amount of suffering that is going on out there. In reality, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is lower today than when the last recession ended. There are millions upon millions of Americans that are desperate for some hope, and there is no hope on the horizon. In fact, things are going to be getting a whole lot worse for the U.S. economy.
Will the Crop Crisis Trigger Inflation?
BY BUD CONRAD - FinancialSense.com
Our news media have not given enough attention to the very serious heat problems of this summer's growing season for grains. The heat and drought have seriously damaged the corn crop during the early July period of tasseling. The price of corn at $8 per bushel is a new record high. Similarly, $9 per bushel of wheat and soybeans at $16 a bushel are a record high. Soybeans are in the middle of their crucial pod filling stages in August and are looking vulnerable. The decline in the quality of the corn crop over the growing season shows just how serious this year's drought has been.
The One Housing Solution Left: Mass Mortgage Refinancing
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ and MARK ZANDI - NYTimes.com
MORE than four million Americans have lost their homes since the housing bubble began bursting six years ago. An additional 3.5 million homeowners are in the foreclosure process or are so delinquent on payments that they will be soon. With 13.5 million homeowners underwater — they owe more than their home is now worth — the odds are high that many millions more will lose their homes.
Housing remains the biggest impediment to economic recovery, yet Washington seems paralyzed. While the Obama administration's housing policies have fallen short, Mitt Romney hasn't offered any meaningful new proposals to aid distressed or underwater homeowners.
Google to cut 4,000 Motorola Mobility jobs, shares rise
By Sayantani Ghosh and Alexei Oreskovic
(Reuters) - Google Inc will slash 20 percent of the workforce of Motorola Mobility in the Internet search giant's largest job cuts ever as it moves to make more smartphones and fewer simple mobiles.
The news sent Google's shares up nearly 3 percent but analysts said it was unclear if the cuts were enough to restore the fortunes of Motorola, whose last hit was the Razr flip-phone launched eight years ago.
Facebook's Drop Limits Goldman Sachs Gain As Lockup Ends
By Brian Womack - Bloomberg.com
Facebook Inc. (FB)'s stock plunge has robbed Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) of much of the potential gain they could unlock as soon as this week, when a ban on sales of insiders' shares begins to lift.
While the end of the lockup has the potential to put additional pressure on the stock price, owners such as Goldman Sachs (GS), which now has a stake worth about $900 million, face a dilemma: whether to sell now and realize a smaller profit or sit tight and risk further losses.
How the Oil Boom Is Changing North Dakota
It's filling a vital need—but highlighting some wicked greed.
By Joel Hilliker - theTrumpet.com
If there are two things America needs now, it's oil and jobs. North Dakota has both in spades.
But there's a problem here. And it contains an important spiritual lesson—with an inspiring happy ending.
North Dakota is experiencing the biggest oil rush America has seen in decades. It is at the vanguard of an energy renaissance that has emerged thanks to advancements in resource extraction technology. A geological formation called the Bakken, which lies under parts of Saskatchewan, Montana and North Dakota, holds billions of barrels of now-extractable oil. In North Dakota, an estimated 27 to 45 billion barrels are accessible with today's technology—out of total reserves of perhaps 900 billion barrels or more. Compare that to the Persian Gulf's 747 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. Some say this could be the world's largest oil discovery in more than a generation.
Bakken billionaire's oil optimism
For oil driller Harold Hamm, Bakken boom
brings more billions and a chance to dabble in politics
By Steven Mufson, WashingtonPost.com
Lexington, Okla. — Harold Hamm sat in a corner of the Railhead Diner, having polished off a plate of meatloaf and savored a bite of the fried pie with chocolate filling.
Hamm, who grew up just across the tracks, has a lot to savor these days. As the youngest of a sharecropper's 13 children, Hamm spent his earliest years nearby picking cotton until the first snowfall or Christmas, whichever came first. Then he would scramble to catch up in school. Later, after the family moved to this small town, he delivered newspapers and played baseball in a lot that's still here. Since his home had no television, he would go across the street to watch with neighbors. His surviving sister, Fannie, still lives in a modest home here.
Monkeywrench in the elite's oil profit scheme?
Salazar plan puts half of Alaska petroleum reserve
off-limits to drilling
By Juliet Eilperin, WashingtonPost.com
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday announced the first comprehensive plan to manage the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, allowing for new drilling on half of the nearly 23 million-acre reserve while putting the rest off-limits to oil and gas exploration.
The move — which leaves open the possibility of constructing a pipeline to transport oil and gas extracted from the Chukchi Sea onshore — drew praise from environmentalists but sharp criticism from oil and gas proponents who said it would restrict the industry's ability to tap the nation's hydrocarbon resources.
Iowa brokerage CEO indicted in $200-million fraud scheme
AP - LATimes.com
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The founder of a bankrupt Iowa-based brokerage accused was indicted by a federal grand jury Monday on 31 counts of making false statements to regulators in connection with a $200 million fraud scheme.
Peregrine Financial Group Inc. CEO Russ Wasendorf Sr. could face up to 155 years in prison if convicted on all counts, prosecutors said. His attorney didn't immediately return a phone message Monday, and the date for an arraignment, where Wasendorf will enter a plea, has not been set.
Heat warning in California
Flex alert issued for Tuesday as heat wave continues
By Abby Sewell - LATimes.com
With the state's heat wave expected to continue through the week, the California Independent System Operator has once again issued a flex alert, a call for customers to conserve power to avoid outages.
The alert will be in effect Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. During that time, customers are asked to keep thermostats at 78 degrees or higher, to turn off air conditioning when not at home, to turn off unnecessary lights and appliances, and to restrict the use of major appliances to the morning and late evening.
Status of America's Nuclear Facilities - repair, close, or build?
Crystal River's Controversial Repairs
Central to Duke Energy Hearings
By Scott Judy - Southeast.Construction.com
As hearings into Duke Energy's surprise ousting of CEO William D. "Bill" Johnson wrapped up July 20, a pending repair project at the troubled Crystal River nuclear powerplant remained a leading suspect for the boardroom shake-up. However, it remained unclear whether the North Carolina Utilities Commission would examine the matter further.
In his testimony on July 19, Johnson alleged that Duke had tried to scuttle the merger with Progress Energy, of which he had been chairman and CEO. As part of the deal, Johnson, 58, was named CEO but was ousted less than 24 hours after the merger closed on July 2.
Repair costs rise at Crystal River nuclear plant
By Ivan Penn, Times Staff Writer
The cost to fix the broken Crystal River nuclear plant appears to be on the rise.
The previous top estimate of $1.3 billion is likely too low, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers confirmed in an interview Thursday.
The utility has not decided whether to repair or permanently shut down the plant. An independent technical evaluation commissioned on the facility by Duke's board is expected to be complete in about a month, Rogers said.
San Onofre nuclear plant costs top $75 million
for repairs and restart
By Ed Joyce - SCPR.org
Anti-nuclear activists say ratepayers should not have to pay repair costs for the damaged San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
The reaction comes after the plant operator shared cost estimates to fix the facility Tuesday.
The nuclear plant has been offline since January 31, after a leak in a steam generator tube sent radioactive vapor into the atmosphere.
State could cut purse strings on ailing nuke plant parts
BY PAUL SISSON - NCTimes.com
It turns out, there is a kind of lemon law for power plants, and Southern California Edison may be about to get squeezed.
State regulators say they plan to study whether the company should lose its ability to recoup the full $680 million cost for four replacement steam generators, which were installed in recent years at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and quickly developed problems that have shut down the plant since January.
Could economics doom ailing Calif. nuke plant?
AP - DailyRepublic.com
LOS ANGELES — The future of the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant could balance on an inescapable question: Is it worth the money to fix it?
Engineers face a daunting task finding a solution for problems that knocked the seaside plant offline last winter. And even if they come up with a plan that fully addresses safety and operational issues, will it all make sense on a balance sheet?
Obama meat aid plan lifts prices but not farm sentiment
By K.T. Arasu and Theopolis Waters
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama made few new fans among ailing hog farmers and cattle ranchers in the United States on Monday with his plan to boost their incomes by buying $170 million worth of meat -- equivalent to about 10 hours' worth of the nation's output last week.
Obama unveiled the plan on a campaign trip to farm state Iowa on Monday as record-high feed costs force cattle ranchers and hog farmers to cull their herds.
The Difference Between Obama And Ryan's Medicare Cuts
SAHIL KAPUR - TlakingPointsMemo.com
Lost in the back and forth between the Obama and Romney campaigns over who's the real Medicare cutter is a critical difference between visions: President Obama's plan is to make the program solvent by reducing payments to health care providers, while Rep. Paul Ryan achieves his savings by transforming Medicare into a voucher-like system.
"There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare — $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare," Romney said in a CBS interview Sunday evening.
The True Cost of Health Care Reform
Interview: James J Puplava CFP with Paul Ryan and Michael Franc
• The True Cost of Health Care Reform
• Obamacare Timeline
• The Medical Nuclear Option: What Comes Next
With Both Presidential Candidates Full Of Hot Air,
El-Erian Warns Of Populist Anger Returning
Submitted by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
As the 'new' normal limps on, PIMCO's Mohamed El-Erian focuses his attention on the political dysfunction that roils the 'new new' normal in an excellent op-ed in Foreign Policy today. The economic and financial system risks breakages that the political system will be increasingly incapable of mending rapidly enough," he opines as he fears sluggishness in economic growth, unacceptably high youth unemployment and long-term joblessness, redoubled debt and deficit concerns, and worsening inequalities between rich and poor leading the US down a path towards Europe's disruption. Sadly, neither Obama nor Romney has yet offered a meaningful, forward-looking economic reform program to address problems such as a malfunctioning labor market, unsustainable public finances, a broken credit system, inadequate infrastructure, and a lagging education system. The warning bells are ringing, and they are ringing loudly. We've already allowed bad economics to lead to bad politics. Now, it's high time to put a stop to the cycle where bad politics undermines an already fragile economy.
Two Dark Money Groups Outspending All Super PACs Combined
by Kim Barker - ProPublica.org
Two conservative nonprofits, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, have poured almost $60 million into TV ads to influence the presidential race so far, outgunning all super PACs put together, new spending estimates show.
These nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s or c4s for their section of the tax code, don't have to disclose their donors to the public.
New DARPA Weapon: The Slowest Robot Ever
By Will Oremus - Slate.com
Earlier this year, DARPA gave us Cheetah, a four-legged robot that broke the robot land speed record by hitting 18 mph on a treadmill. Now comes a DARPA-funded machine that proudly embraces the opposite end of the robot swiftness spectrum.
Meet Meshworm, an earthworm-like robot that contracts segments of its body one after the next to inch along the ground at up to 5 millimeters per second, or about 0.01 mph. That is, literally, a snail's pace.
Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm
Flexible design enables body-morphing capability.
Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office
Earthworms creep along the ground by alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of their bodies, inching forward with each wave of contractions. Snails and sea cucumbers also use this mechanism, called peristalsis, to get around, and our own gastrointestinal tracts operate by a similar action, squeezing muscles along the esophagus to push food to the stomach.
Now researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm. The robot, made almost entirely of soft materials, is remarkably resilient: Even when stepped upon or bludgeoned with a hammer, the robot is able to inch away, unscathed.
The Civil War of 2016
U.S. military officers are told to plan to fight Americans
By THE WASHINGTON TIMES-The Washington Times
Imagine Tea Party extremists seizing control of a South Carolina town and the Army being sent in to crush the rebellion. This farcical vision is now part of the discussion in professional military circles.
At issue is an article in the respected Small Wars Journal titled "Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A 'Vision' of the Future." It was written by retired Army Col. Kevin Benson of the Army's University ofForeign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., andJennifer Weber, a Civil War expert at the University of Kansas. It posits an "extremist militia motivated by the goals of the 'tea party' movement" seizing control of Darlington, S.C., in 2016, "occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council and placing the mayor under house arrest." The rebels set up checkpoints on Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 looking for illegal aliens. It's a cartoonish and needlessly provocative scenario.
U.S. Super Soldiers Of The Future Will Be Genetically Modified Transhumans Capable Of Superhuman Feats
By Michael Snyder - EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
The future of war is going to look really, really weird. The "super soldier" research that DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is working on right now is unlike anything we have ever seen before. If DARPA is successful, and if the American people don't object, the soldiers of the future will be genetically modified transhumans capable of superhuman feats. Do you want a soldier that can run faster than Usain Bolt? DARPA is working on that. Do you want a soldier that won't need food or sleep for days? DARPA is working on that? Do you want a soldier that can regrow lost limbs? DARPA is working on that. Do you want a soldier that can outlift Olympic weightlifters and that can communicate telepathically? DARPA is working on that. Americans flock to movies about superheroes and mutants, and soon they may actually have real life "superheroes" and "mutants" fighting their wars for them. But at what cost?
The 'German Shepherd' Shows His Teeth
Silencing dissenting priests, clamping down on errant nuns—Pope Benedict XVI is pointing the way forward for the Roman Catholic Church.
BY JOEL HILLIKER - TheTrumpet.com
When he became pope in 2005, the German-born Joseph Ratzinger was expected by liberals and conservatives alike to be a tough authoritarian. After all, he was the church's chief doctrinal enforcer, head of the organization once known as the Inquisition. He was the "Panzerkardinal"—"God's Rottweiler."
Then came seven years of what many perceived as a relatively quiet papacy. Now, though, perceptions are reverting back. In increasingly obvious ways, Benedict's Rome is snuffing out dissent, stamping out liberalism and enforcing its brand of conservative Catholicism. Headlines are becoming common about the reemergence of the "real Ratzinger" and the "Return of the Rottweiler."
In Putin's Russia, little separation between church and state
By Marc Bennetts - Special to The Washington Times
MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church is enjoying its newfound prestige with the Russian government.
The head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, was granted residence in the Kremlin, the elaborate historic fortress in Moscow and seat of theRussian government, late last year, and he openly supported Vladimir Putin, who won a third term as president in March.
But the church's closeness to the government has also made it a target of criticism and protest.
Syria: western diplomats lose faith
in SNC to unite opposition groups
US, UK and France seek to build more direct links with disparate rebels amid fears that Islamists are getting Gulf donations
By Julian Borger - Guardian.co.uk
The US, Britain and France are scrambling to retain their influence with Syrian opposition groups amid fears that most support from the Gulf states has been diverted towards extremist Islamic groups.
Rising concern that an increasingly sectarian civil war could spread across the region, combined with reports of brutality by some opposition groups, and evidence that the best-organised and best-funded rebel groups are disproportionately Salafist (militant Sunni fundamentalists), has triggered an urgent policy change in western capitals.
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