Saturday, January 19, 2013

Texas Gun Maker Caves in to Obama’s Executive Orders and Stops Making AR-15s(What a Wimp)


VIDEO: Local business owner reacts to Obama’s gun proposals

President Obama’s announcement on proposed gun laws was closely watched by a Conroe business owner. view full article

Jim Grant Talks George Orwell, Debt Ceiling Theater & Federal Reserve's Bubble in Treasuries

Jim Grant Talks George Orwell, Debt Ceiling Theater & Federal Reserve's Bubble in Treasuries

In Addition To Taxing The Poor, Louisiana Will Stop Providing End-Of-Life Care To Low-Income Americans

This week, potential Republican presidential contender Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) rolled out one of the country’s most regressive tax proposals, a plan that would shift Louisiana’s tax burden away from the wealthy by raising taxes on the bottom 80 percent of state residents. Apparently, the “austerity” measures don’t stop there.
According to New Orleans CBS affiliate WWLTV, Louisiana residents over the age of 21 who are on Medicaid — the public insurance program for disabled and poor Americans — will stop receiving hospice care benefits at the end of this month. That means that low-income Louisianans with terminal illnesses, debilitating disabilities, and chronic long-term medical problems will no longer have access to the essential home and medical care that they need.
And while the cuts are intended to help the state balance its budget, critics point out that it is more likely to increase health care costs by pushing previously-insured Americans with costly medical conditions into private hospitals and emergency rooms where they will not be able to afford their treatments:
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals say the elimination of hospice care for Medicaid patients will mean nearly $3.3 million in savings this year alone. In 2014, it’ll mean $8.3 million in savings.
However, Burns believes the state will end up paying much more with terminally ill patients forced to turn to local hospitals.
“They’ll just go in and out of the hospitals, maybe go to ICUs, and they won’t be able to have their family around them with hospice care,” said Burns. [...]
DHH says there were 5,819 recipients of hospice services through Louisiana Medicaid in the previous fiscal year.
By the Louisiana DHH’s own estimates, the cuts to Medicaid hospice-care beneficiaries are only expected to reduce the state’s projected $900 million budget deficit by 0.92 percent in 2014. These cuts will be imposed on top of the already draconian cutbacks to public education and health care programs that Jindal has in the pipeline.
Battles over Medicaid funding, particularly for those in need of long-term, specialized care, are nothing new. State budget cuts to the Medicaid program have long left disabled and special-needs Americans by the wayside, even in progressive states such as California. But one of the easiest ways for states to address their perennial public health funding issues is for them to participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which the federal government will fund for the first several years.
Jindal, however, has refused to participate in the expansion, calling it a “bad idea” that is “expensive for taxpayers.” Ironically, Louisiana already takes in considerably more tax revenue from the federal government than it pays out, and Jindal’s Medicaid cuts — coupled with his refusal to expand Medicaid — will likely exacerbate that dynamic by forcing Americans across the country to subsidize care for Louisianans who have fallen through the safety net.

Jim Rogers on Fox Business Explains the Federal Reserve's Bubble In US Treasuries

Jim Rogers on Fox Business Explains the Federal Reserve's Bubble In US Treasuries

CEOs want to raise the retirement age to 70

A lot of CEOs have gotten on the deficit-reduction bandwagon, but they’ve often been loath to push for specific proposals, endorsing instead an overall “framework” for fiscal consolidation that’s big and bipartisan.
That’s now starting to change: A group of the country’s leading CEOs from the Business Roundtable has put out an entitlement reform plan that proposes to raise the eligibility age for both Social Security and Medicare to 70.
(Bradley C. Bower / NY110)
(Bradley C. Bower/NY110)
Leading Republicans have long rallied to raise the eligibility age for Social Security to 70, but the Business Roundtable’s recommendations for Medicare go significantly further than the GOP consensus: During the fiscal cliff negotiations, for instance, Boehner proposed raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 years, while the CEOs want to push it three years higher.
The group wants a slew of other changes as well: higher premiums for wealthy beneficiaries, chained CPI and more private competition for Medicare and private retirement programs.

“Even though most of these modernization initiatives would be phased in gradually, the immediate benefits would be enormous. First, they would put Medicare and Social Security on the sound financial footing needed to provide a sustainable retirement safety net. This would represent a major step forward in reducing the growth of government spending,” Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Business Roundtable participant, wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
The Business Roundtable believes its proposals would save the government $300 billion in Medicare spending and extend Social Security’s solvency for 75 years. But the changes would also come with costs to others as well. By eliminating Medicare coverage for those between 65 and 70 years old, the plan would send more individuals into Medicaid and the newly created health-insurance exchanges, as not everyone would continue to work or be covered by their employers’ insurance, explains Tricia Neuman, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
That would drive up health-care premiums overall in the exchanges, as there would be older, sicker people getting coverage, says Neuman. In states that don’t elect to participate in the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, lower-income people in their mid- to late-60s could also become uninsured, particularly those who are in physically demanding jobs they might not be able to continue until they’re 70. Overall, raising the eligibility age “would reduce federal spending but would do so in a way that shifts costs to other payers and raises overall health care costs,” says Neuman, who’s examined the impact of raising the age to 67.
On the flip side, proponents of the changes argue that raising the retirement age makes sense given the rise in life expectancy, and that sacrifices are necessary to ensure the solvency of entitlement programs. “What has happened to Social Security over years is because people are living much more longer, it’s moved more toward a middle-aged retirement system,” says Eugene Steuerle, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.
The Business Roundtable has also tried to add provisions to address concerns that a higher retirement age would disproportionately hurt the poor, who tend to live shorter and work more physically taxing jobs than wealthier Americans. The CEOs’ proposal for Social Security, for instance, recommends that accommodations be made for “the unique needs of individuals in physically demanding occupations” and new minimum benefits to help lower-income workers.
But the most notable part of the CEOs’ proposal is the recommended hike in the Medicare eligibility age to 70, which goes further than what Republicans have been asking for. Republicans have yet to  specify the entitlement changes they actually want to happen, but on this eligibility issue, it looks they’ll have a bunch of business executives in their corner.

Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher provides peek at proposal to fix “too big to fail” megabanks

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, today proposed breaking up “too big to fail” U.S. banks into multiple businesses and preserving the nation’s safety net programs only for commercial banks.
“Everyone and their sister knows that financial institutions deemed too big to fail were at the epicenter of the 2007-09 financial crisis,” according to a transcript of Fisher’s speech tonight to the Committee for the Republic Salon in Washington, D.C., that The Dallas Morning News received.
Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher
These megabanks stopped their lending and investment activities during the Great Recession and economic recovery, bringing “economic growth to a standstill,” Fisher said. He argued that the Dodd–Frank banking reform law has not done enough to harness too-big-to-fail banks and has increased regulatory uncertainty amid a weak economic recovery.
The Dallas Fed’s proposal offers an “ ‘about-turn’ and a way to mend the flaws in Dodd–Frank,” he said.
Fisher’s speech is a preview of a report the Dallas Fed plans to release tomorrow about how to handle “too big too fail” banks and how community banks are unfairly hurt by excessive regulation designed for their much larger peers.
Too-big-to-fail status describes giant banks that could pose a threat to the well-being nation’s financial system and economy if or more of them falters.
Fisher identified 12 U.S. banks — each with assets above $250 billion — as candidates for too-big-to-fail status. Together the 12 banks accounted for 0.2 percent of all U.S. banks but held 69 percent of industry assets as of Sept. 30.
The Dallas Fed’s proposal “eliminates much of the mumbo-jumbo, ineffective, costly complexity of Dodd–Frank,” Fisher said today. “Our proposal would relieve small banks of some unnecessary burdens arising from Dodd–Frank that unfairly penalize them. Our proposal would effectively level the playing field for all banking organizations in the country and provide the best protection for taxpaying citizens.”
Here are some highlights of the proposal, according to Fisher, with more details tomorrow:
– Restructure too-big-to-fail banks into smaller, less-complex institutions so risks can be effectively disciplined by regulators and market forces.
– Restrict federal deposit insurance to only commercial banks.
– Clarify that the federal safety net programs apply only to a commercial bank and its customers and not to customers of any affiliated subsidiary or the holding company.
— Limit the Federal Reserve’s discount window loans to only commercial banks — and no banking affiliates or a parent company.
– Require customers, creditors and counterparties of a banking affiliate and of the senior holding company to sign a simple disclosure statement acknowledging their unprotected status.
– Possibly add more restrictions (or bans) on the ability to move assets or liabilities from banking affiliate to banking affiliate within a holding company.
Fisher has spoken out or written about the too-big-to-fail issue since 2009.

Greenspan states "cannot guarantee purchasing power" Senate Banking Comm...

Greenspan on the USS Government Ponzi.
Runs 1 minute.  Recently discovered clip from congressional testimony in 2005.
“I believe that we should maintain the principles of Social Security, but I think the existing structure is not working. Until we construct a system that creates the savings that are required to build the REAL assets, so that the retirees have REAL goods and services. We don’t have a system that is working. We have one that basically moves cash around and we can guarantee cash benefits as far out and whatever size you like, but we cannot guarantee their purchasing power. Do we have the material goods and services that people will need to consume, not whether or not we pass some hurdle with respect to how legal financing occurs. Financing is a secondary issue and it is a means to create the REAL wealth, not an end into itself.”
Read more here...

FEDS: Libor Trader 'Captain Caos' Dangled $100,000 Bribe

'Captain Caos' was so challenged he couldn't spell his own name.
In its $1.5 billion settlement with various countries’ authorities, UBS admitted to thousands of instances of interest- rate manipulation, involving more than 100 employees and managers, in currencies including the Japanese yen, the British pound, the Swiss franc, the U.S. dollar and the euro. The actions affected the London interbank offered rate, the global benchmark that influences the value of hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, corporate loans and derivatives.
What sets UBS apart is not only the sheer extent of the behavior, but also the level of collusion with traders at other banks and the outright bribery of brokers who helped coordinate the manipulation.
One instance, which we call the “captain caos” scheme, deserves its place in the hall of fame of financial chicanery. According to the final notice from the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, traders at UBS colluded with their peers at other banks “by entering into facilitation trades that aligned their respective commercial interests,” so they could all benefit from manipulating interest rates in Japanese yen.
A UBS trader, according to the FSA notice, promised this to a broker aiding in the rigging effort: “I’ll pay you, you know, 50,000 dollars, 100,000 dollars ... whatever you want ... I’m a man of my word.” The spelling-challenged traders and brokers who took part in the scheme came to address one another with monikers such as “the three muscateers” and “captain caos.”
The yen manipulation stands out in another significant way: In a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, UBS’s Japanese subsidiary admitted to wire fraud.  As we previously noted, wire fraud is one of the primary statutes U.S. prosecutors could use in pursuing criminal charges against individuals involved in Libor manipulation.  The statute prohibits the use of any interstate or international communication in furtherance of an effort to deceive for personal gain.  It carries a sentence of as much as 30 years in prison.
Continue reading...

Bloomberg: Is Inflation the Legacy of the Federal Reserve?

Watch this ..... via

Why Cannabis is *Really* Illegal

U.S. Govt Borrows $6 Billion Per Day, $4 Million Per Minute

Guess how much of the national debt you owe...
Merely $50,000 for every man, woman and child or $140,000 per U.S. household.
This year the national debt will fly through $17 trillion, get a peek at $18 trillion, make a 2015 date with $20 trillion, while Paul Krugman leads Keynesian dance class aboard the U.S.S. Bankruptcy.  By the way, Krugman has a new name for you, or at least those among you so spiritually depraved, and morally off-kilter to care about federal red ink:
Krugman's Deficit Scolds...

Intel profit sinks 27% on dreadful PC sales

Click the chart to see Intel's latest share price.

Intel's attempt to reinvent the PC hasn't worked yet.

The world's largest chipmaker reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that fell 27% from year-ago results, dragged down by slumping PC chip sales.

Intel sold 6% fewer PC chips in the fourth quarter -- its biggest business, and one that accounts for nearly two-thirds of its overall revenue.
The results weren't unexpected. Worldwide PC shipments fell by 5% in the fourth quarter and 3.5% for 2012, according to Gartner. It was the first time since the dot-com bust of 2001 that PC shipments fell from one year to the next.
The quarter "played out largely as expected," Paul Otellini, Intel's outgoing CEO, said in a prepared statement. He called the current business climate "challenging."
Intel's net income fell to $2.5 billion, or 48 cents per share, in the fourth quarter. Sales for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company fell 3% to $13.5 billion.
For the current quarter, Intel expects revenue of between $12.2 billion and $13.2 billion, roughly in line with Wall Street analysts' expectations. For 2013, Intel predicts sales will increase by a percentage in the low single digits, also matching with analysts' forecasts.
Shares of Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) fell 4% after hours.
Intel's data center chip sales were the one ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy quarter. Sales in that unit rose by 4% in the fourth quarter. All other chip sales -- including mobile -- fell by 7%.
The company's profit was slightly better than it had expected, with gross margin clocking in at 58%, besting the 57% target.
Though Intel insists that it has the designs and products that users will crave in the future, it has been stymied by poor PC sales. "Ultrabook" PCs -- a brand name Intel controls -- failed to reach the 40% of all laptop sales threshold that Intel hoped for.
Industry analysts say Intel and the PC makers have failed to overcome the iPad challenge.
"Once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "[Now] we hypothesize that buyers will not replace secondary PCs in the household, instead allowing them to age out and shifting consumption to a tablet." To top of page

James Turk - Germany's Gold Is Being Held Hostage

“I mean you can do 5 tons at a time on an airplane shipment. A few hundred shipments and you can have that (1,536 tons of) gold back (in Germany) in a matter of weeks. The only possible conclusion you can make is the gold isn’t there.
You can do what France did back in the 1960s....
“You send over a couple of ships and bring the gold back to your country that way.
When Charles de Gaulle asked for his gold out of the Federal Reserve, it didn’t take 7 years. He got it right away. But back then the gold was in the Federal Reserve because it wasn’t going out in the leasing and lending program that governments have been using in recent years in order to keep the gold price suppressed.
Recently, the Audit Committee of the Bundestag (their parliament), has been requesting that the Bundesbank actually audit the gold because it has never been audited, and presumably is never going to be audited. So the Bundesbank is in a tough spot. The gold is not there, but they have the pressure to audit it and bring it back home.

Geithner sees too much economic pessimism: report

Timothy Geithner via AFP
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned against too much pessimism about the US economy, in an interview published Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.
“I think people are too dark about the economy now, in part because of the shadow of pessimism, skepticism about our political system today,” said Geithner, who is set to leave his post soon.
The Treasury chief was referring to the political gridlock that has gripped Washington as President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies battled with the US House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans for the past two years.

“But, and for the moment it’s very hard to do, if you look past the political dysfunction, the economy looks encouragingly resilient,” he told the Journal.
Most economists predict the US economy will grow only slowly in 2013.
The government will publish on January 30 its first estimate of gross domestic product growth for the 2012 fourth quarter and the full year.
Expectations were for subpar growth of about 2.0 percent in 2012, slightly better than the 1.8 percent pace of 2011.

WATERSHED EVENT: Bundesbank Wants Its GOLD Back! - Andy Hoffman: PT. 1

Man pays off $14K property tax bill with dollar bills, coins



Nobody likes paying bills, especially ones that total $14,000. Larry Gasper of Redding, Calif., paid his substantial property tax bill without the use of a checkbook.

Larry Gasper showed up with his trunk full of cash--and nothing was bigger than a dollar.

Gasper lost his tree business a couple of years ago, in part, because he couldn’t pay his taxes.

Gasper said he tried to pay half of the bill a few weeks ago but the county refused to take it.

Gasper gathered all the money he could and rolled it.

"I had to borrow some money,” said Gasper. “I’ve missed a few payments on my home to pay for my taxes for this piece of property.”My grand-kids' piggy banks, my daughters' piggy banks, my money , my change and a lot of people have offered to help a bit.”

Gasper said the money took a while to count. The representative at the office said that it is protocol that the money has to be given in full or it won’t be accepted.

UPDATE: Who Will Be Next Head of the SEC?

Two months ago, I inquired as to who might be our nation’s next chief financial cop, that is, the next head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Are we about to see a continuation of the Wall Street-Washington revolving door at work for this critically important position? How so?
A leak yesterday puts the name of Mary Jo White into the mix to head the SEC. Who is she? Is she the right person for the job? Not according to Sense on Cents Hall of Famer Gary Aguirre, who pulled no punches yesterday in asserting,
“Obama is not going to clean up financial corruption by pinning a sheriff’s badge on Wall Street’s protector-in-chief.” 
Little left to interpretation there. Let’s navigate and learn more about Ms. White as the San Diego Reader lays out, Wall Street Lawyer to Head SEC?
Mary Jo White epitomizes the method by which Wall Street lawyers control the so-called regulatory agency. The method is called the “revolving door.”
There are two ways the scam works: 1. A big Wall Street law firm will represent a crook who has stolen money from the public in a securities scam. The law firm gets its client off the hook by dangling a $2 million-a-year job in front of the SEC lawyer who is in charge of the case; 2. When the SEC is looking for someone to head its enforcement branch, it will choose a Wall Street lawyer who represents the crooks, rather than someone inside the agency who sincerely wants to chase bandits.
If President Obama names Mary Jo White to head the agency, she would represent both sides of the revolving door phenomenon. She was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is responsible for policing Wall Street. Then she joined the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, which defends securities miscreants, among other things.
If she went back to a government role, she will have come full circle, and Americans would be justified in having even more cynicism about the agency than they have now.
Gary Aguirre has had personal experience with her. After a successful law career in San Diego, he retired, but got restless. He boned up on securities law and joined the SEC. He had excellent reasons to believe that a now-defunct hedge fund had talked with John Mack, formerly associated with the hedge fund, about an upcoming acquisition. The hedge fund made a bundle betting on the acquisition. Aguirre thought that Mack should be interviewed. Mary Jo White covertly contacted top people in the SEC on Mack’s behalf. Aguirre was fired. Mack went on to head Morgan Stanley.
The two Congressional committees and the SEC’s own investigator vindicated Aguirre, who won the suit against the agency. Now, according to Bloomberg, White might rejoin the government. If she is indeed a candidate, I for one hope this story will be repeated and repeated and repeated in the vetting process.
Anybody smell anything around here?
That stench would seem to be the ongoing “revolving” aroma of the Wall Street-Washington Incest continuing to work its way throughout our nation – - –  and the world – - –  and further confirmation as to how rackets are perpetuated.
Ferdinand Pecora likely just rolled over in his grave . . . once again.
Watch your wallets.
I thank the regular reader who brought this story to my attention.
Larry Doyle
Isn’t it time or overtime to subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook.
I have no business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

2 Responses to “UPDATE: Who Will Be Next Head of the SEC?”

  1. Peter Scannell
    This has gotta be another hoax?
    Hells bells!

Ukraine shocks European and US leaders

Ukraine shocks European and US leaders. 49117.jpeg
In the last week of 2012 and in early 2013, Ukraine has noticeably stepped up talks about its relationship with the Customs Union (CU), whose current members are Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The discussion of forms of cooperation between Ukraine and the CU struck a chord even in those seemingly not involved.

A number of European officials stated that accession of sovereign Ukraine to the CU was totally unacceptable. In particular, according to Brussels, Ukraine's accession to the CU was not compatible with its integration into the European Union. Meanwhile, it is no secret that the prospects of Ukraine's European integration are dubious. Not to mention the fact that, given the economic situation in the EU, the goal has slightly lost its desirability. The Americans traditionally took an active participation in the discussion of hypothetical plans of Kiev on the possibility of deepening of the cooperation with the Customs Union. Concerns were expressed by the current and former U.S. Ambassadors to Ukraine, as well as advisors of former U.S. presidents. While Europeans and Ukraine are located on the same continent, why is the U.S. concerned?

Despite the shouts from Europe and from the shores of the Atlantic, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has continued the theme of cooperation with the Customs Union in the new year. In particular, on January 4th in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych stated that Ukraine should change some of the norms of the Ukrainian legislation in order to cooperate with the Customs Union. In addition, he admitted that his visit to Russia on December 18th was postponed because not all details on cooperation between Ukraine and the Customs Union have been agreed upon. "The plan was that by December 18th they (the experts) would prepare specific proposals. But the meeting had to be postponed to a later date because the experts have not been able to agree on all the details of the future agreements," said Yanukovych. Of course, this statement of the Ukrainian President is not very specific, but it cannot even compare with his statements made three years ("we're not interested"), or even six months ago.
This sudden change of rhetoric gives a reason to suspect that "the concept has changed." Perhaps it was previously assumed that activation of the integration on the post-Soviet space will be used in 2015, when Yanukovych would be working on getting elected for the second term. It was expected that until then Ukraine would blackmail Brussels with Moscow and vice versa in order to get the most benefits in both directions. However, by the end of 2012 it became apparent that this approach was not justified, all reserves were exhausted, the economic growth has stopped and the situation would not wait until the elections of 2015.  
Apparently, the signal was so intense that even the thick-skinned Ukrainian president clearly felt it. But is it too late? Let's suppose that Viktor Yanukovych as the guarantor of the Ukrainian constitution has come to acknowledge the need for Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union and convinced his government that this was a necessity. A sober assessment of the situation shows that his team has a very narrow margin for maneuver and very little time. Three years ago, Yanukovych won the presidential election. Then his team took advantage of the demoralized opposition, reformatted the Parliament, formed the majority in the Parliament, and appointed its government.
This was the period when Yanukovych's team could have joined the integration project dynamically and with determination, seamlessly and without losing its face, speaking as an equal participant in the project. While Ukraine has remained aloof from the process of integration, the project developed on its own. Now, Ukraine would have to play by the rules that have been agreed in the past years by the three parties to the CU. Let's suppose, however, that despite the less desirable conditions than three years ago, Kiev will announce the beginning of the integration process. Without favorable public opinion, the implementation of the process will not be possible for several reasons. At first glance, the public opinion of Ukrainian citizens should not be a barrier to a more active participation of Ukraine in the post-Soviet area integration processes. This can be gleaned from the case studies of the last decade that demonstrate stable results.
Due to the lack of prospects for the EU membership and because of the economic dependence on Russia, the majority of Ukrainians support eastern orientation of their country. 54 percent of respondents spoke in favor of the development of relations with Russia and other CIS countries. At the same time, the development of relations with the EU was favored by only 36 percent. These are the results of the Dw-trend survey conducted in October of last year by the Ukrainian branch of the Institute of Sociology IFAK commissioned by "Deutsche Welle". In Ukraine and Russia, the majority of respondents would like the countries to be independent from each other but amicable, with open borders without visas and customs (in Ukraine - 72 percent, in Russia - 60 percent). In Ukraine this number increased by three percent over six months, in Russia it has remained unchanged,

Central bank gold reserves: Monetary economics with a vengeance

ON WEDNESDAY morning, the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, announced that it would move 674 tonnes of its gold reserves (currently worth about €30 billion) from vaults in New York and Paris to its home base in Frankfurt. That night, HBO2, the American premium television channel, aired Die Hard with a Vengeance. These two events may not have been planned to coincide, but it is fortunate that they did. They both help teach us something about central bank gold reserves, and maybe even the future of the euro area.

For those who do not know, the film is about an attempt to steal hundreds of billions of dollars worth of gold bullion from the vaults underneath the New York Fed, which provides custodial services for many of the world’s central banks. The plan relied on a continuous series of diversions meant to confuse the police. Towards the end, the villains pretended to dump the gold into the Hudson River while posing as Marxist revolutionaries. (They had actually loaded the bullion onto trucks headed for Canada.) In a recorded message left for the Coast Guard, the leader declares that he raided the vaults to “level the playing field” between the poor and rich worlds. Ostensibly, leaving the gold at the bottom of the river would cripple the rich nations that depended on bullion reserves to support their financial systems. This makes no sense.

Merkel Says Mali Mission Protects Europe, Sends Transport Planes

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that security in northern Africa is also Europe’s security after her government offered two transport aircraft to assist the military operation combating insurgents in Mali.
The two Transall transport planes will fly African troops from the Economic Community of West African States to the Malian capital Bamako as French ground forces start operations to repel insurgents controlling northern Mali, Merkel told reporters today in Berlin.
Germany views security in the region also as a part of its own security,” Merkel said after meeting with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, chairman of Ecowas. “Terrorism in Mali, or northern Mali, isn’t only a threat for Africa, but also a threat for Europe.”
As French formations moved north from Bamako toward rebel- held territory, Ouattara said there was a risk that the insurgents might move out of Mali and threaten the rest of the region. He called for humanitarian assistance and democratic elections in Mali by July at the latest.
“We need a legitimate, recognized government that’s elected by the Malian people in order to bring order and territorial integrity to Mali,” Ouattara said.
The Transall aircraft don’t comprise a mission that would require a parliamentary mandate, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said earlier. Should an expanded operation require a mandate, the government may seek it, he said.

The drums of war: China and Japan square up

Source: ECON
WATCH Chinese television these days and you might conclude that the outbreak of war with Japan over what it calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu islands is only a matter of time. You might well be right. Since Japan in September announced it would “nationalise” three of the islands that had been privately owned, China, which has long contested Japan’s sovereignty over them, has also started challenging its resolve to keep control of them. So both countries are claiming to own the islands and both are pretending to administer them. China this week announced its intention to map them thoroughly. Something has to give.
 In response to the deteriorating climate, Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s administration, flew to the region this week, urging “cooler heads to prevail”. Hotter heads are more in fashion. Hopes that recent changes in leadership in China and Japan might bring an easing of tensions have been disappointed. Hitoshi Tanaka of the Institute for International Strategy in Tokyo notes that the emergence last September of Shinzo Abe, a right-wing nationalist, as head of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party was influenced by the feeling that Japan needed to take a tougher line with China. In December Mr Abe became prime minister for a second time, after an election campaign in which he promised just that.
Since then China, too, has become more assertive over the islands. Already, in his speech to the Communist Party’s five-yearly congress in November, Hu Jintao, its outgoing leader, had declared China’s ambition to “build itself into a maritime power”, the first time this had been stated so explicitly. Nor is it clear that his successor, the less wooden Xi Jinping, who will be named president in March, shares his predecessors’ habitual caution in dealings with America. He will surely see no benefit in compromising with Japan, which is despised by many Chinese. And, with little or no military experience, he will want to appear a strong commander-in-chief.
It is against this backdrop that televised military punditry is booming in China. On current-affairs programmes, armchair warriors pontificate about the Diaoyus. Newspapers propagate a uniformly jingoistic analysis of the increasing likelihood of armed conflict.
They are not making it up. Last month a small aircraft of China’s State Oceanic Bureau flew into what Japan considers its territorial airspace over the Senkakus. Flying too low to be detected by Japan’s land-based radar, it was spotted too late for a scramble of eight F-15 fighter jets to prove effective. Since then, Japan has deployed Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS). On January 7th Chinese patrol ships spent more than 13 hours near the islands—longer than ever before, said Japanese officials. On January 10th, when two Japanese F-15s scrambled to intercept a Chinese plane flying near the islands, China scrambled its own fighter jets.
Now the Japanese air force is weighing whether to fire warning shots if Chinese aircraft come into its airspace, for the first time since 1987, when the former Soviet Union intruded. For General Peng Guanqian of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, interviewed on a Chinese web portal, this would amount to the first shot of “actual combat”. China should then “respond without courtesy”, he said. The Japanese press reported that America had also warned Japan against firing shots.
A widely read, if shrill, Beijing newspaper, Global Times, has argued that Japan might not be deterred and “we need to prepare for the worst”. Japan, it said, had become the “vanguard” of an American strategy to “contain China”. The implication was that China should also be ready to take on America, which has made clear that its security treaty with Japan covers the disputed islets.
The dangers of combat are rarely spelt out to Chinese audiences. China would widely be seen as the provocateur. Japan is its second-largest trading partner and one of its biggest foreign investors. The knock-on effects would include an escalation of unease about China around the region. Other countries with territorial disputes with it, such as India, Vietnam and the Philippines, would look even more keenly towards America for support.
So much to lose
The risk that the dispute might cause a serious rift with America must haunt some of China’s diplomats. Many of them believe that this would thwart China’s ambition to become a respected global power. So calmer voices may yet prevail. A botched military engagement could inflame nationalist sentiment at home and turn it against the party for its perceived incompetence. For all their rapid acquisition of sophisticated hardware in recent years, the Chinese armed forces lack the combat experience that might give them confidence in their ability to prevail. As for projecting force, the islands lie closer to Japan (as well as to Taiwan, which also claims them) than to the Chinese mainland.
But China’s foreign-policy behaviour has become more unpredictable of late. Many of its officials believe that America has been weakened by the global financial crisis and debilitating wars, even as China has grown stronger. Toughness abroad might also give Mr Xi, a nationalist, some cover for a more risk-taking approach to handling problems at home. In recent weeks there have been a few signs that he might be a bit more open-minded than his predecessors. A recent crisis involving a strike by journalists at a popular and relatively liberal newspaper was resolved without obvious repercussions for the journalists involved. As dense smog this week choked Beijing and several other cities, China’s press has had unusually free rein to complain about air pollution.
The firmness of Mr Xi’s grip on policymaking is hard to divine. It will not be clear for some weeks who, if anyone, will have day-to-day control over foreign policy in the decision-making standing committee of the party’s Politburo, which for the past decade has lacked a dedicated foreign-policy handler. It is also possible that rising tensions with Japan reflect China’s leaders’ distraction by struggles relating to the succession. Lacking clear direction, bureaucracies may be trying to look tough.
Meanwhile, Mr Abe launched a trip to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia on January 16th, his first journey abroad since taking office. Despite the inclusion of Vietnam, his officials talk of “values diplomacy”, an attempt to forge closer ties with democratic allies. Though the mission is ostensibly to foster closer economic ties with a fast-growing region, countering the Chinese threat seems an equally pressing motive. Some Japanese experts believe the trip too provocative. China probably saw it as a bid at diplomatic encirclement.
Even if armed clashes are averted, tensions will persist. Mr Tanaka lists three essential elements of any easing: to cool public sentiment; to reaffirm the importance of the bilateral relationship; and to find a way of discussing the Senkakus. Not one of these is yet in sight.

Atos told incontinent woman to 'wear nappy': Firm condemned by MPs for pressuring sick and disabled into returning to work

Thousands of sick or disabled people have died after undergoing assessments to find out whether they were fit to work, the House of Commons was told today.

Atos, the firm contracted to conduct work capability assessment (WCA) tests for the Government, was condemned by MPs for “ruthlessly” pressurising sick and disabled people into returning to their jobs.
The debate was told of cases of people who had committed suicide after being stripped of their benefits under the process and of an incontinence sufferer who was told she could return to work wearing a nappy.
Former Labour minister Michael Meacher opened the debate saying that 1,300 people had died after being placed in the “work-related activity group”, for those currently too ill to be employed but expected to start preparing for an eventual return to work.
A further 2,200 died before the assessment process was completed and 7,100 died after being judged to be entitled to unconditional support because they are too ill or disabled to work.
Mr Meacher asked: “Is it reasonable to pressurise seriously disabled persons into work so ruthlessly when there are already 2.5 million people unemployed and, on average, eight persons chasing every vacancy, unless they are also provided with the active and extensive support they obviously need in order to get and to hold down work, which is certainly not the case at present?”
Labour’s Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool, told MPs that one of his constituents, a woman who suffered from Crohn’s disease, had been told she could wear a nappy to work. “What sort of country have we become, what sort of ethical values does the Government have, if that’s the degrading and crass way in which decent law abiding constituents of mine are being dealt with?” he said.
“All the evidence that I have in my constituency demonstrates that the system is not working and the most vulnerable and ill constituents in Hartlepool are paying the price. The Government is treating my constituents like dirt, it needs to change.”
Shadow Employment minister Stephen Timms said there was no doubt the current arrangements were causing “immense problems and immense anxiety”. He added: “We shouldn’t be allowing this to continue, the system does need fast and fundamental reform.”
Kevan Jones, a former Labour minister, said suicides of claimants who were found fit to work by Atos had been reported. “There are...a number of well-publicised cases where people have taken their own lives because of this system,” he said. “It is not too strong to say that this Coalition Government has blood on their hands for the deaths of those individuals.”
A spokeswoman for Atos Healthcare said: “We know that this can be a difficult process for people and we do all we can to make sure the service we provide is as professional and compassionate as possible. We have been doing this work...for over a decade and our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists are fully trained and experienced, with many coming directly from the NHS.”
Victory in vain: Cancer patient’s fight
Cecilia Burns, 51, from Northern Ireland died last summer shortly after winning her campaign to get her benefits reinstated.
Ms Burns, who was being treated for breast cancer, had her benefits cut by £30 a week after an assessment by Atos. She started a campaign to have the decision overturned but died shortly after the money was reinstated.

January US Mint Silver Eagle Sales Pass 6 Million, Mint Suspends Sales, States Eagles Are SOLD OUT!!

*Update: as if on que, the Mint has just notified the primary dealers that Silver Eagles are sold out, and that sales are suspended effective immediately through 1/28!
The US Mint reported another 1 million Silver Eagles sold Thursday, bringing the January sales total to an astonishing 6.007 million ounces in less than 2 weeks of sales! 
With nearly half of January remaining, it is now all but certain (barring a complete shut-down by the mint) that January 2013 Silver Eagles sales will absolutely shatter the all-time monthly sales record for the Mint set in January 2011 at 6,422,000 ounces.
The Mint is currently on pace to sell a COMEX sucking 12.66 MILLION OUNCES OF SILVER EAGLES IN THE FIRST MONTH OF 2013, more than the YEARLY sales total for ANY year prior to 2008 at the US Mint!!!
Help add to January’s total: 2013 Silver Eagles at!
2013 Silver Eagle

The US Mint has sold over 6 million ounces during the first 9 business days of January! (the mint began production on 1/7)
2013 Silver Sales Totals
(in ounces / number of coins)
( oz. / #coins )

And the all-time monthly record set in January 2011:

2011 Silver Sales Totals
(in ounces / number of coins)
( oz. / #coins )

Silver Bullet Silver Shield Slave Queen Collection  at!!
Slave Queen 2

Is Ted Butler’s Silver Panic Imminent? Apple Contractor Claims New iMac Production Delayed Over Silver Shortage!

apple silver shortageSilver expert Ted Butler has long predicted and awaited an eventual industrial shortage of physical silver, and a resulting panic silver buying that terminates the bullion bank cartel’s manipulation of the silver market.  
Butler may be about to be finally proven correct, if an Apple contractor is right that Apple has delayed production on the new 27” iMacs over an industrial silver shortage in China.
With the US Mint sold out of Silver Eagles and production shut down for the 2nd time in 2 weeks, and shortages of nearly all retail silver products rapidly developing along with spiking physical premiums, it appears that a widespread retail, and perhaps industrial physical silver shortage is developing and escalating by the hour.
Silver Bullet Silver Shield Slave Queen Collection  at!!
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Submitted by Bally A.
I work as a sales contractor for a local independent Apple dealer. I don’ know how many of you closely watch Apple delivery dates, but we received a consignment of the new 21.5″ iMacs and then they dried up. We haven’t received any of the new 27″ iMacs. Our shelves are bare with lots of backorders. I’ve never seen this before.
Apple announced the new iMacs on Oct. 23 2012.
It’s been 10 weeks now since any 27″ iMacs have been shipped and Apple states that another 3 to 4 week delivery for those models, if you order today.
Apple states that there are “production problems” causing the delay.
Why? Based on the evidence, in my opinion there is simply not enough silver available to produce them.
The new “Iris” screens use a lot, lot more silver than the older models, including the new iPads. All the silver is going to produce the iPad 4′s which, of course, use less silver per unit. This creates the illusion that all is right except for a few “production glitches”.
Why is a silver shortage the likely culprit for the production delays? The 21.5″ iMac screens are essentially the same as the 27″ screens. Inside, there is little difference other than the width of the systems where you have enough width to have 4 RAM slots and thus upgrade the the RAM. There are no RAM slots on the new 21.5″ iMac, i.e. you get what you bought re. RAM.
There are no shortages of HD’s CPU chips etc. If they can produce the 21.5″ iMacs, they can produce the 27″ iMacs, or else why would Apple announce them and then have almost a FULL ONE FISCAL QUARTER DELAY in manufacturing and delivery???
The only logical answer, is that the brighter screens require substantially more silver than the earlier models. That is also why there was a $100 price increase on most models of the iMac.
Apple manufacturers its iMacs and iPads in China, and China is now importing massive amounts of silver, where once a few years ago it was a net exporter- and this in spite of a huge increase in domestic silver production!
Of course, Apple doesn’t and won’t announce a shortage of Silver for fear that silver prices would skyrocket and even a $100 price increase would be insufficient to cover a large increase in silver prices and thus they would lose profit margins. They are already on the hook for a massive amount of the Iris based iMacs at a their current price point. Should silver prices skyrocket for any or all of the reasons we know, Apple may be on the hook of fulfilling the Back Orders at no profit or even at a loss.
It doesn’t take about 12 weeks these days to correct a “production ‘problem’”, especially when Apple had already announced the launch and its sister system already rolled off the assembly line, but in limited quantities.
The only explanation I can think of for the production delay is that there is a massive shortage of silver to make the brighter screens.
How much silver is used in the new Apple screens?
Google all you want. I have. You won’t find it anywhere. Trade secret, you know. I’ve googled many times to find out how much silver is used in LCD displays. No answer. No one is telling.
But think about it. Where does the $100 increase in the 21.5″ base model come from? At $30 per oz., I doubt that it all goes to say 2 extra oz. plus margin of silver per se. Obviously, it must be far less than even a 1/4 or 1/10 of an oz. increase.
That’s about $3 or $4 more at spot Comex pricing in production costs, if you think about it. So why the $100 increase and production delay?
I can think that the new production line would cost more, but $100 more seems to be a stretch. It still doesn’t account for the delay in and of itself, nearly 3 months later than the announcement. Why would Apple announce the iMac launch, if they weren’t assured that the production lines were ready to go? That’s highly unlike Apple. Historically, there were a couple of weeks delay from announcement, a month tops.
3 MONTHS? Never.
Even at 1/10 of an oz. or less per iMac, still seems to me the only explanation.
Moreover, I checked our Apple back orders today back over a month and only a few are what’s called “processed” which means that they are now starting to be built with no ETA for shipping.
Conclusion: I believe that an industrial silver shortage is at the heart of Apple’s delays.  Nevertheless, if Apple can’t get it’s silver in necessary quantities, the amount or short term price or Comex price doesn’t really matter. If Apple can’t obtain enough to supply demand, they can only delay orders, delay production, and delay the inevitable.
That inevitability is that silver pricing must go up, while silver production stays flat at best.
I’ll bet a dollar to a donut that Apple knew about this shortage of silver in China, and that was why it increased it retail price $100 per low end iMac.
Apple was attempting to front run the higher price of silver within China itself, where Apple produces its products and has, obviously made deals with the Chinese gov’t as to price and availability as regards to silver.
With China now importing more silver than the massive amounts it produces, China probably abrogated its deal with Apple and that there is some sort of rationing deal amongst the Computer manufacturers and other silver using manufacturers.

US Drones, Boots Arrive In Mali

Tyler Durden |

Absolutely “nobody” could have possibly anticipated that the week old French incursion into Mali could already have such disastrous consequences: a botched hostage rescue attempt by French commandos while leaving behind one of their team, a downed pilot on the first day of the confrontation, revels that succeeded in capturing a strategic village and military post, and today, yet another hostage crisis in Algeria that has seen tens of hostages killed, potentially including Americans, following another botched rescue operation. Yet, in some ways, perhaps the stars have aligned just right for the US, which as Bloomberg reports, has wasted no time in sending not only drones in the air, but also boots on the ground.
From Bloomberg:
  • U.S. military trainers are expected to arrive in West Africa this weekend to train local military forces to fight Islamist insurgents including those now battling French and local government troops in Mali, State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says in Washington.
  • U.S. now providing intelligence, airlift to French troops fighting insurgents in Mali
  • No U.S. troops to operate in Mali; U.S. barred from providing direct assistance to Mali military
So on one hand the US is barred from providing direct assistance, but on the other, US trainers are… providing direct assistance?
But why? Well, take a quick look at the map of French “military assets” in Mali.

What does this map show?
Mali is one of the most irrelevant countries in West Africa from a resource standpoint, and what happens inside of it is certainly irrelevant from a greater geopolitical standpoint.
What is more important is what this map doesn’t show, specifically the name of the country located a few hundred miles to the south: Nigeria.
Now Nigeria is important: very important. Or rather, Nigerian light sweet, one of the highest quality crudes in the world, is. And thanks to the “bungled” French peacemaking attempt, the US now has a critical foothold in what is the most strategically placed stretch of desert in Western Africa, a place where US “military trainers” will now be deployed at will.
Be on the lookout for curious escalations in violence around the capital Abuja, and key port city Lagos, in the coming months once the current Mali fracas is long forgotten.