South Stream Dies

$5 Billion Down the Drain Russia’s Gazprom has finally thrown the towel on the South Stream pipeline, after spending $5 billion on it. This follows repeated attempts by the EU to shoot itself in the foot using its ‘competition rules’ as a pretext. These nonsensical rules are employed as a pretext for a great many things, but the protection of consumers ranges most definitely at the very bottom of priorities. South Stream would have circumvented the Ukraine and brought Russian natural gas to a number of countries (many in the Balkans, plus Austria and Italy) which are nearly 100% dependent on Russian gas already. Germany presumably doesn’t care because, tada! – it gets its gas via ‘North Stream’. For unknown reasons the ‘competition commission’ had nothing against that pipeline. One wonders why? We think the only European newspaper that came closest to the truth was the Italian paper La Republicca. While it (wrongly) blamed the decline in energy prices for the decision, it wrote in an aside:
‘The latest jolt sweeps away South Stream. The maxi-pipeline – dear to Vladimir Putin, supported by the former Berlusconi government, opposed by the United States – will not be built’
The truth is, the EU’s ‘competition commission’ rigmarole was a pretext for what is at its core a political, not an economic decision. The US opposes South Stream solely for geopolitical reasons, as it has zero commercial importance for it. The EU has neither valid commercial and nor indeed valid political reasons to oppose the pipeline. Europe has been buying energy from Russia even back when it was still part of the evil Soviet Union, the communist empire that was an actual enemy. And yet, as German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel remarked in an address (in which he admitted that German subsidies for various ‘alternative energy’ nonsense needed to end), Russia has never reneged on its energy deliveries, not even in the most tense moments of the cold war.

This post was published at Acting-Man on December 3, 2014.

Syria Goes Dark

Syria Then and Now ‘Arab Spring’ situations have an inexorable tendency to go pear-shaped (Tunisia, the first country to experience one is the lone exception, but even there the ‘old guard’ is reportedly making a comeback, so the whole thing was essentially for nothing in the end). In Egypt, the revolution went from bringing an Islamist to power whose economic policies were either useless or were sabotaged by the organization that actually owns Egypt (the army controls 40% of the economy), back to someone who suspiciously looks like the old boss, with the only difference that he’s even worse. Nothing about the situation even remotely resembles democracy at this juncture. Getting jailed and tortured in Egypt and getting sentenced to death in mass show trials is once again par for the course.
Libya has disintegrated into a so-called ‘failed state’ and is wracked by an ongoing civil war between the same factions that faced each other in Egypt: Islamists and the army, whereby in Libya there is also a dash of warlordism in play. The official government doesn’t even control the capital.
Syria however is arguably the worst case. The country, fought over by once again the very same types of factions (the army of a secular tinpot dicator and Islamists) has been rendered a pile of rubble in many places. We were reminded of a picture we have recently come across that illustrated this fact rather starkly. It shows a satellite image of Syria at night, before and after the civil war: The lights have gone out in Syria’s largest cities.

This post was published at Acting-Man on December 3, 2014.

Plummeting Oil Prices Could Destroy The Banks That Are Holding Trillions In Commodity Derivatives

Could rapidly falling oil prices trigger a nightmare scenario for the commodity derivatives market? The big Wall Street banks did not expect plunging home prices to cause a mortgage-backed securities implosion back in 2008, and their models did not anticipate a decline in the price of oil by more than 40 dollars in less than six months this time either. If the price of oil stays at this level or goes down even more, someone out there is going to have to absorb some absolutely massive losses. In some cases, the losses will be absorbed by oil producers, but many of the big players in the industry have already locked in high prices for their oil next year through derivatives contracts. The companies enter into these derivatives contracts for a couple of reasons. Number one, many lenders do not want to give them any money unless they can show that they have locked in a price for their oil that is higher than the cost of production. Secondly, derivatives contracts protect the profits of oil producers from dramatic swings in the marketplace. These dramatic swings rarely happen, but when they do they can be absolutely crippling. So the oil companies that have locked in high prices for their oil in 2015 and 2016 are feeling pretty good right about now. But who is on the other end of those contracts? In many cases, it is the big Wall Street banks, and if the price of oil does not rebound substantially they could be facing absolutely colossal losses.
It has been estimated that the six largest ‘too big to fail’ banks control$3.9 trillion in commodity derivatives contracts. And a very large chunk of that amount is made up of oil derivatives.
By the middle of next year, we could be facing a situation where many of these oil producers have locked in a price of 90 or 100 dollars a barrel on their oil but the price has fallen to about 50 dollars a barrel.
In such a case, the losses for those on the wrong end of the derivatives contracts would be astronomical.
At this point, some of the biggest players in the shale oil industry have already locked in high prices for most of their oil for the coming year. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on December 3rd, 2014.

Name That Collapsing Nation

These 3 charts show 3 different nations. According to the mainstream media memes:
one of these is an oil-rich socialist utopia on the verge of bankruptcy; one is a nation nearing an economic renaissance thanks to devaluing its currency, money-printing, and fiscal irresponsibility; and
one is a nation that is isolated, sanctioned, economically-ravaged, resource-rich, that has hoarded gold…
So which is which?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

No Indictment in Eric Garner Grand Jury, DOJ to open ‘civil rights’ investigation

21st Century Wire says…
Only a week has passed since rioting, looting and arson broke in Ferguson, Missouri, and another police incident and Grand Jury verdict involving a black victim in New York City – is threatening to push American streets over the edge again tonight…
According to the 23 member Grand Jury that convened in New York, the arrest and subsequent ‘choke-hold’ or carotid restraint administered by officer Daniel Pantaleo of the New York City Police Dept. – did not rise to the level of criminality, so therefore the prosecutor announced there will be no indictment of the officers involved in this case.
This does not however, rule out charges of police misconduct and excessive force which would result in a suspension or dismissal, or a ‘wrongful death’ civil law suit (the use of the choke-hold was already prohibited by policy guidelines issued to NYPD officers) which is likely to be brought against both the officer and the municipality for an estimated $75 million.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 4, 2014.

Reality is not a Video Game: Norweigen F-16 Near Miss with Russian Mig-31 (Video)

The encounter was approximately 20 meters. Let that sink in as the high speed pass to intimidate the pilots from Norway occurs in this video via the Wall Street Journal:

I’m almost positive that former Vietnam war veteran and medal recipient along champion windsurfer, sailor, wealthy MILF marrying Secretary of State John Kerry will issue a stern email any moment now.
Too bad and too funny that Putin and Lavrov have him on the ‘spam’ list.

This post was published at John Galt Fla on December 2, 2014.

When Deceptions Go Unchallenged by Our Free Press

A willing ‘suspension of disbelief’ is essential to enjoy a good play or other fiction but it’s a disaster when the media adopts it in place of skepticism – especially toward those in government.
And yet, that is exactly what happened with the Affordable Care Act. It’s hard to not to conclude that the media willingly suspended disbelief when it came to the many claims made by President Obama, legislators and supporters of the Affordable Care Act. The now obvious 2013 ‘Lie of the Year’, for example, was anything but obvious to most Americans before millions lost the insurance coverage they liked. Why?
Taken together with MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s recently revealed admissions that deception was part of the plan all along, it’s fair to ask, ‘What happened to our watchdog press?’ There has been much gnashing of teeth over Professor Gruber’s candor but virtually no self-examination by the media of its role in helping to perpetrate a fraudulent sales job on the American people.
Indeed, in retrospect it appears as if the Administration counted on a compliant media not asking the hard questions. This disinterest in the truth, as much as the lies themselves, has contributed to the mistrust and anger that divides the nation. So far the media has refused to take any responsibility.
When the CIA failed to predict the fall of Iran there was acid and deserved criticism of its failure to fulfill its fundamental mission. That same kind of criticism should be a part of the public conversation now about the role of the media in missing deliberate efforts by this Administration to employ outright falsehoods to pervert ‘consent of the governed’. Only with deception, said Dr. Gruber, could the law win enactment. He embraced government deception ‘for the greater good’ but the media should not have. It was a failure of the media’s most fundamental duty in a free society.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on December 3rd, 2014.

Goon Thug Cops Murder At Will – Paul Craig Roberts

Another gang of goon thug gratuitous murderers has been let off by a racist grand jury and a racist non-prosecutor. Read the verbiage spewed by NY mayor Bill de Blasio and the Obama Puppet:They are so sorry about the collateral damage of protecting the public from criminals and terrorists. Without the death of innocents, none of us would be safe. Our safety depended on the NYPD murder of Eric Garner, a father of six who was a threat to no one.
Another police murder of a US citizen who was no threat to anyone – just more collateral damage – as the US military calls it when US forces blow up kids’ soccer games, weddings, funerals, and birthday parties. Any concentration of people, regardless of what they are doing, is considered to be an enemy force and legitimate target. This includes people picking their crops in fields.
Unfortunate perhaps, on occasion, but soldiers and police and US presidents have the right to make mistakes. Only a dangerous ‘domestic extremist’ would think that a goon thug should be held accountable for a mistake. I mean, after all, the 21st century American courts have established that those in the executive branch are above the law.

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on December 3, 2014.

17 States Sue Obama Over “Unconstitutional” Executive Action On Immigration

A year ago, following the whole Supreme Court farce, a bevy of states proved there are more than just “idiot voters” left in the US, when they decided to sue Obamacare outright over one or more of its provisions. They were promptly shut down by a judicial system that is as corrupt as the government itself (needless to say, both working at the behest of their true financial puppetmaster: Wall Street). And yet, in the aftermath of the now epic fiasco that is Obamacare, and not to mention the violent reaction to the administration as demonstrated in the midterm elections, the president may have a tougher time to brush away the next round of adverse reactions against his latest hugely unpopular executive order, one involving the amnesty of over 5 million illegal immigrants.
According to AP, Texas is leading a 17-state coalition in suing over the Obama administration’s recently announced executive actions on immigration.
While many top Republicans have denounced Obama’s unilateral illegal immigration clemency move designed to spare as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation, or, as some put it, win the democrats 5 million heretofore non-existing voters, earlier today Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott took it a step further Wednesday, filing a lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Texas. And once he did, the seal broke and everyone wanted in on the action, and Texas was quickly joined by 16 other, mostly southern and Midwestern states, including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho and Indiana.
Abbott argued Wednesday that Obama’s action “tramples” portions of the U. S. Constitution. Which, let’s be honest here, never stopped the “constitutional scholar” before.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

Another Government Scam – Small Business Administration (SBA) is Exposed as Corporate Welfare to Big Businesses

Many people have noted that the more insidious or corrupt a law or agency, the more positive sounding its name. The most egregious example during my lifetime, was naming legislation that stripped Americans of most of their civil liberties the ‘Patriot’ Act.
In a similar vein, which red-blooded American could ever be opposed to something called the Small Business Administration (SBA). We all love small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit, and even those who abhor big government have a hard time siding against an agency that supports the little guy. As such, the SBA is the perfect vehicle for cronyism, corruption and corporate welfare, which indeed appears to be its primary reason for existence.
My friends at Open the Books have published a key study on the SBA, and the results are ugly. The full report can be found here, but what follows is some analysis of the report by Stephen Moore at Investors Business Daily:
The Small Business Administration is under fire for lending billions of taxpayer dollars a year to exclusive country clubs, golf resorts, yacht clubs, pet resorts, upscale plastic surgeons, wineries and other businesses catering to the lifestyles of the very wealthy.
A new report by the federal spending watchdog has uncovered these and other questionable loan activities by the SBA and its roughly $106 billion loan portfolio.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Dec 3, 2014.

James Montier: “Stocks Are Hideously Expensive” In “The First Central Bank Sponsored Bubble”

James Montier, the outspoken value investor and member of the asset allocation team of Boston-based GMO, talks about dangerously high valuations and the virtues of holding dry powder.
Four words seem to define the current mood in financial markets: There Is No Alternative. Yes, equity markets might be somewhat expensive, but considering the alternatives – bonds and cash -, they are still the best investment. The correction in October turned out to be a mere hickup in a solid bull market. But James Montier remains skeptical. The value investor and member of the asset allocation team at Boston-based asset manager GMO sees the stock market in a near-bubble and warns investors from being complacent. “To think that central banks will always be there to bail out equity investors is incredibly dangerous”, says the outspoken Brit. His source of wisdom in current markets comes from none other than Winnie the Pooh: “Never underestimate the value of doing nothing.”
James, when you screen global equity markets today: Do you still find any value?
It’s getting really tough now. It’s getting harder and harder to find really good sources of value these days. There are maybe one or two pockets out there, in Europe and in some emerging markets. Where exactly?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

Ukraine appoints three non-native ministers

Ukrainian parliament has approved the formation of a new government that includes three foreigners who had received Ukrainian nationality on the same day specially for the job.
Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine's president, granted citizenship to Georgia-born Aleksandr Kvitashvili, US-national Natalie Jaresko and Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius on Tuesday, just hours before the vote.
"There are absolutely extraordinary challenges facing Ukraine – an extremely difficult economic situation, Russian aggression, the need for radical reform and the fight against corruption. All this requires innovative solutions in the government," Poroshenko said in statement.
"These decisions mean searching for candidates for the new government not only in Ukraine but also abroad," he said.

This post was published at Aljazeera

Top Spanish official says primary task is to end E.U.-Russia sanctions war

Madrid is calling for immediate steps to end the war of sanctions between the EU and Russia, the high commissioner for the 'Spain' brand, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper published on Tuesday.
“Our primary task is to stop the race of sanctions and counter-sanctions and prevent the new ones. The second goal is to try to find compromise decisions that would allow leaving the sanctions in the past,” said the high-ranking Spanish official, who is in charge of improving the country’s image abroad in the economic, social, cultural, scientific and technological spheres.

This post was published at Itar-tass

Made in the USA – How the Ukrainian Government is Giving Away Citizenships so Foreigners Can Run the Country

I hadn’t written a single piece on the U. S.-Ukraine-Russia quagmire for the entirety of 2014, until Monday when I published: Tensions Between the U. S. and Russia Are Worse Than You Realize – Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Now I can hardly think of anything else.
The reason the geopolitical hot zone has so captured my attention is because I think we are much closer to a serious escalation than most people want to admit. I hope I’m wrong, but when I take a step back and look at what is being said and done under the surface, an incredibly dangerous tinderbox is now firmly in place and ready to be lit. We know from history that relatively minor catalysts can lead to unimaginable horrors. I fear the stage is set for some real nastiness, and hope cooler heads can prevail on both sides.
Claims that the new government in Ukraine is nothing more than a Western puppet Parliament have been swirling around consistently since February. Nevertheless, I think it’s very significant that the takeover is now overt, undeniable and completely out in the open. Nothing proves this fact more clearly than the recent and sudden granting of citizenship to three foreigners so that they can take top posts in the government.
At the top of the list is American, Natalie Jaresko, who runs private equity fund Horizon Capital. She will now be Ukraine’s Finance Minister, and I highly doubt she will be forced to pay the IRS Expatriation Tax (one set of laws for the rich and powerful, another set of laws for the peasants). For Economy Minister, a Lithuanian investment banker, Aivaras Abromavicius, will take the reigns. Health Minister will be Alexander Kvitashvili of Georgia.
The Wall Street Journal reports:

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Dec 3, 2014.

Beige Book: “Lower Oil Prices A Concern For The Oil Industry”

While superficially the November Beige Book, which is chronically bad at spotting actual trends as was the case in the 2005-2007 period when it came to the housing bubble and the BB had absolutely no warnings about what only in retrospect would be a glaringly obvious bubble, was among the more optimistic ones seen in recent months (there were only 13 instances of “weather” in the document), here is what the Fed’s assessment had to say about the only thing that matters currently for the US economy (in addition to the soaring US Dollar of course): oil.
Energy and mining activity was higher on net, though lower oil prices were a concern for the oil industry in the Atlanta and Dallas Districts. Chemical manufacturers in the Boston District indicated that the falling price of oil relative to natural gas had made U. S. producers less competitive, because foreign chemical producers rely more heavily on oil for feedstock and production. Atlanta reported that the recent drop in oil prices led firms to reevaluate their operations, though steady production is anticipated for both deepwater and onshore drilling; in the Dallas District, lower oil prices weighed on the outlook for drilling activity. Several Districts cited the decline in the price of oil over the reporting period and its effects on gasoline and diesel fuel prices.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

Jobs: Shale States vs Non-Shale States

Consider: lower oil prices unequivocally “make everyone better off”, Right? Wrong.
First: new oil well permits collapse 40% in November; why is this an issue? Because since December 2007, or roughly the start of the global depression, shale oil states have added 1.36 million jobs while non-shale states have lost 424,000 jobs.

This should help clear things up…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

Ferguson 2.0? Grand Jury Fails To Indict White NYPD Cop In Chokehold-Death Case

A Staten Island grand jury has decided not to indict white NYPD officer Daniel Panateleo, according to NY1, who allegedly used a banned chokehold and killed Eric Garner, a 400lb black man, who was stopped on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes. Eric Garner’s son has called for peace and hopes there is no Ferguson-like response…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/03/2014.

Pizza Hut wants to read your mind

It starts with Pizzas and burgers, and it will end with voting via tablet, which technocrats will hail as a breakthrough in ‘direct democracy’.
Let’s see how this trend develops…
Ordering pizza by thinking and speaking words is so last century. Pizza Hut is now testing technology that allows diners to order within seconds, using only their eyes. The future!
Calling it ‘the world’s first subconscious menu,’ the pizza giant has since October been testing a special eye-tracking tablet with some of the diners of its 300 locations across the U. K. The digital menu shows diners a canvas of 20 toppings and builds their pizza, from one of 4,896 combinations, based on which toppings they looked at longest. To try again, a diner can glance at a ‘restart’ button.
‘Finally the indecisive orderer and the prolonged menu peruser can cut time and always get it right,’ a Pizza Hut spokesperson said in a statement, ‘so that the focus of dining can be on the most important part – the enjoyment of eating!’
The menu, built by Swedish eye-tracking firm Tobii Technology, is the product of six months of retina-scanning development and ‘psychological research,’ according to Pizza Hut, which is testing it for now only in the U. K. A potential expansion into the United States could be in the cards, based on how well the pilot system works.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 3, 2014.

Watch: CNN Abruptly Cuts Off Interview: ‘Jesus Christ Died for Our Sins’

In recent months we’ve seen several instances of the Christian belief system being disparaged by State or quasi-State organizations.
In Colorado Springs students at Pine Creek Highschool were told that they could no longer use their free time to pray, discuss religious issues or sing religious songs. The school told the kids that their activities violated the U. S. Constitution and Separation of Church and State.
So much for ‘free’ time.
A couple of weeks later a Muslim prayer worship was held at the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral. In a show of tolerance, those attending covered their eyes so as to avoid the Christian cross. At one point in the service a Christian woman stood up, pointed at the cross and said, ‘Jesus Christ died on that cross. He is the reason we are to worship only Him.’ The woman was promptly escorted from the building by two unidentified individuals.
These are but a couple of the many incidents showing how Christianity in America is under attack.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 3rd, 2014.