The marijuana industry is coming to the rescue of Smith Falls, Ontario, an old factory town that is experiencing an unlikely renaissance now that Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s largest publicly-traded cannabis producer, has become the town’s largest private-sector employer. This summer, Canada will become the second country after Uruguay to legalize marijuana at the federal level, which has driven a boom in the local cannabis industry, according to Bloomberg. Smiths Falls, Ontario – population 8,885 – is seeing a revival of fortunes since medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc. set up shop four years ago in an abandoned Hershey Co. chocolate factory. The company, since renamed Canopy Growth Corp., has become the world’s largest publicly traded cannabis producer and is the town’s largest private-sector employer. For Smith Falls, Canopy’s arrival heralded a boom in younger people moving to the town, located about 75 kilometers (47 miles) southwest of Ottawa. There are sometimes bidding wars on homes. New businesses are arriving. And commercial property is seeing renewed interest. Canopy, formerly known as Tweed Inc., took over an old Hershey factory to build a giant growing operation for medical marijuana. How’s that for symbolism? We’re recognized as the pot capital of Canada – and we’re proud of that, Mayor Shawn Pankow said in an interview from the town hall, a two-story brick building erected in 1859 on the main street. The local economy is certainly far better today than it was before Tweed came to town.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sat, 12/30/2017 –.
Chemo drugs are highly poisonous to begin with. But suppose, on top of that, they’re contaminated and tainted? Welcome to the FDA: the handmaiden to Big Pharma; the promoter of destructive medicines; the opponent of natural health; the agency that should have been disbanded and fumigated decades ago. Corruption Central. In today’s episode, the Agency has issued a slap on the wrist to Fresenius, a major provider of health care in Europe, with two dozen drug-manufacturing facilities around the world. Bloomberg reports: ‘U. S. regulators warned Fresenius SE after the company’s Indian plant that makes cancer-drug ingredients for the U. S. market aborted hundreds of drug-quality tests because they seemed like they were going to fail due to impurities.’ ‘When workers at the plant found potential tainted products, they halted the tests and said human or machine errors were to blame instead, according to a Food and Drug Administration warning letter dated Dec. 4 that cited 248 aborted checks at the West Bengal facility.’
Chemo drugs are highly poisonous to begin with. But suppose, on top of that, they’re contaminated and tainted? Welcome to the FDA: the handmaiden to Big Pharma; the promoter of destructive medicines; the opponent of natural health; the agency that should have been disbanded and fumigated decades ago. Corruption Central. In today’s episode, the Agency has issued a slap on the wrist to Fresenius, a major provider of health care in Europe, with two dozen drug-manufacturing facilities around the world. Bloomberg reports: ‘U. S. regulators warned Fresenius SE after the company’s Indian plant that makes cancer-drug ingredients for the U. S. market aborted hundreds of drug-quality tests because they seemed like they were going to fail due to impurities.’ ‘When workers at the plant found potential tainted products, they halted the tests and said human or machine errors were to blame instead, according to a Food and Drug Administration warning letter dated Dec. 4 that cited 248 aborted checks at the West Bengal facility.’ The FDA’s warning basically instructed Fresenius to do better. Re-examine all their manufacturing and testing practices. Hire an outside consultant. That’s comforting, isn’t it? With contaminated chemo drugs floating around the world, the FDA says nothing about ferreting out these medicines – and here is the capper from the Bloomberg article: ‘The agency also warned that if the company doesn’t correct the issues raised in the letter, FDA workers could refuse products made at the facility admission into the U. S.’
Reuters has revealed a rather disturbing Orwellian tale of Communist-ruled Vietnam marching towards a complete censorship of the internet. Government officials have announced a new, 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit used to combat ‘fake news’, amid a much larger crackdown on critics of the state. The announcement came in a speech on Christmas Day given by Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, a deputy head of the military’s political department. According to state-run media, Lt Gen Nguyen revealed the 10,000-strong army of state-owned hackers called ‘Force 47’, will be targeting enemies of the Communist party who ‘create chaos’ online. Lt Gen Nguyen further said, ‘in every hour, minute, and second, we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views.’ ‘Force 47’ could be compared to the so-called 50-cent army, employed by Communist China, who are paid 50 cents for every website that is censored. Communist-ruled Vietnam has certainly escalated this latest attempt to control the internet, especially the ability to censor political dissidents on social media. Bloomberg reports, the disclosure of the unit is the government’s effort to put more pressure on YouTube Inc. and Facebook Inc. to remove accounts promoting anti-party views.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.
Authore by Leonid Brershidky via Bloomberg.com, During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference on Thursday, a friendly journalist asked Putin whether the escalating tension in relations with the U. S. and the crumbling of arms control treaties would draw Russia into an unsustainable arms race. “We will ensure our security without engaging in an arms race,” the president replied, citing widely diverging dollar numbers for the U. S. and Russian defense budgets. *** That’s a simplistic answer from a politician starting an election campaign (of sorts: Putin is headed for re-election in March without giving anyone else a chance). The more pointed question that should be asked is this: How, with a relatively small and decreasing military budget — 2.77 trillion rubles ($42.3 billion) for 2018, down from some 3.05 trillion rubles this year — is Russia is still a formidable military rival to the U. S., with its enormous and increasing budget of almost $692.1 billion in 2018, up from $583 billion this year?
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.
I have written before about asymmetric conflicts and power balances in the context, among other bilateral comparatives, the U. S.-Russia military spending: And the latest budgetary appropriations from the U. S. for 2018 are suggesting that Washington has a serious problem learning any lessons – whether these are lessons from being punched around repeatedly in the Afghanistan, or being derailed in Iraq, being made irrelevant in Syria and so on.
This post was published at True Economics on Saturday, December 23, 2017.
One day after the UN humiliated Donald Trump, when 128 nations voted for a UN resolution demanding the US president revoke his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, on Friday Trump scored a significant victory at the same venue – his third of the day after signing off on the tax and stopgap bills – when the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions targeting North Korea’s economy after the latest launch of a ballistic missile last month that Kim Jong Un’s regime said shows it can now target the entire continental U. S. The new restrictions are meant to slash North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products, further restrict shipping and impose a 12-month deadline for expatriate North Korean workers to be sent home, according to Bloomberg. “Under the new sanctions, oil exports will be limited to their current level, which has already begun to result in shortages around the country,” the NY Times added. “Countries around the world will be ordered to expel North Korean workers, a key source of hard currency. Nations would also be urged to inspect all North Korean shipping and halt ship-to-ship transfers of fuel, which the North has used to evade sanctions.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.
After a difficult first half, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan managed to score two major legislative victories this week just before the clock ran out on what has been one of the most contentious Congresses in recent memory. By marshalling a fractious Republican caucus, the leadership averted a federal government shutdown on the day before Christmas Eve, and also passed the White House’s historic tax reform plan. With America’s lawmakers headed home for the holidays, Trump affixed his signature to the bill Friday morning. But while Trump delivered on his promise to pass tax reform by year’s end, in the end, Republicans were forced to put off other pressing priorities – like passing an $81 billion disaster aid bill – until January. Though the House managed to pass a disaster relief package, the Senate was forced to put it off because of procedural hurdles and opposition from Democrats. The battle to amend and pass the bill will probably dominate the political news cycle early next year, according to Bloomberg. But it’s hardly the only legislative priority demanding immediate attention: Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling. And the continuing resolution passed late last night is set to expire on Jan. 19, meaning another funding bill must be adopted before then.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.
One California lawmaker is seeking to have the state ban all vehicles powered by fossil fuels by the year 2040. Should the bill succeed in becoming a law, the state of California would not allow residents to register any vehicle that emits carbon dioxide. According to Bloomberg, California Assemblymember Phil Ting, a Democrat who is chairman of the chamber’s budget committee, said he plans to introduce a bill that, starting in 2040, would allow the state’s motor vehicles department to register only ‘clean’ vehicles that emit no carbon dioxide, such as battery-electric or hydrogen fuel-cell cars. ‘Until you set a deadline, nothing gets done,’ Ting, who represents much of San Francisco, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
This post was published at shtfplan on December 6th, 2017.
Days after North Korea launched its most advanced ICBM which reportedly can hit a target anywhere in the United States with its 8,000+ mile range, Pyongyang said the U. S. is “begging” for a nuclear war by planning the “largest-ever” joint aerial drill with South Korea, according to Bloomberg. ‘Should the Korean peninsula and the world be embroiled in the crucible of nuclear war because of the reckless nuclear war mania of the U. S., the U. S. will have to accept full responsibility for it,’ North Korea’s state-run KCNA said Saturday, citing a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As we previously reported, the statement came after Yonhap News reported that six U. S. Raptor stealth fighters planes arrived in South Korea on Saturday for a joint air drill named “Vigilant Ace 18” scheduled for Dec. 4 to 8. The F-22s flew into South Korea together in a show of force. The stealth fighters, however, were just a small part of the upcoming show of force: according to local media, some 230 aircraft and up to 16,000 soldiers and airmen are taking part in the drill, which is one of the biggest ever of its kind. Meanwhile, in addition to Lindsey Graham’s warning that US civilians in South Korea should evacuate ahead of “military conflict”, in response to North Korea’s recently enhanced capabilities, the United States is beefing up security on the West Coast.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 3, 2017.
Just days after Pyongyang launched its most advanced ICBM, one which experts warned has the potential to hit a target anywhere on the territory of the United States, North Korea said the U. S. is ‘begging’ for a nuclear war by planning the ‘largest-ever’ joint aerial drill with South Korea just after concluding an exercise with nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, Bloomberg reported. ‘Should the Korean peninsula and the world be embroiled in the crucible of nuclear war because of the reckless nuclear war mania of the U. S., the U. S. will have to accept full responsibility for it,’ North Korea’s state-run KCNA said Saturday, citing a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement came after Yonhap News reported that six U. S. Raptor stealth fighters planes arrived in South Korea on Saturday for a joint air drill named “Vigilant Ace 18” scheduled for Dec. 4 to 8. The F-22s flew into South Korea together in a show of force. The stealth fighters, however, were just a small part of the upcoming show of force: according to local media, some 230 aircraft and up to 16,000 soldiers and airmen are taking part in the drill, which is one of the biggest ever of its kind. As part of “Vigilant Ace”, US and South Korean forces will be rehearsing for a full-scale war with North Korea, with Yonhap noting that “allies plan to stage simulated attacks on mock North Korean nuclear and missile targets.” Despite Pyongyang’s harsh rhetoric, US commanders have downplayed the drill – claiming it is ‘regular’ and not a direct response to North Korea. According to the WSJ, at least 230 US and Southg Korean warplanes will take part, alongside 12,000 US troops from the Air Force, Marines and Navy and airmen with another 4,000 expected to represent Seoul.” The drill, which lasts from December 4 until December 8, will see aircraft flying over eight airbases in across the Korean Peninsula.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 3, 2017.
The Brooklyn prosecutors who won a guity verdict against former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli over the summer are demanding the ‘Most Hated Man in America’ forfeit $7.4 million in cash and assets as part of his punishment. In order to do this, Bloomberg says Shkreli will likely need to surrender the $5 million bail he posted in late 2015, and the one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album he purchased for more than $2 million shortly before his former company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, was exposed for hiking the price of Daraprim, a live-saving AIDS drug, by 5,000%. Shkreli tried to sell the album on eBay back in September. He managed to secure a winning bid of more than $1 million, but was abruptly jailed before he could work out the details with the winning bidder. Prosecutors asked that Shkreli’s bail be revoked after he published messages about Hillary Clinton that prosecutors felt were threatening in nature. Shkreli maintained that they were satirical. Shkreli was convicted in August on three counts of fraud related to a scheme where he tried to make investors in his two failed hedge funds whole by hiring them as ‘consultants’ at Retrophin, the pharmaceutical company Shkreli founded before Turing. In their filing, the prosecutors list assets they could possibly take. Among them are the Wu-Tang Clan album, a Picasso painting, an Enigma machine from World War II, and Shkreli’s remaining interest in Turing.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 1, 2017.
Seemingly in capable of heeding Senator John McCain’s advice to stop whining and “just shut up,” failed US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slammed both U. S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in remarks via video to a conference in Beijing on Tuesday. *** As Bloomberg reports, Clinton said the Trump administration had retreated from diplomacy. She called on both the U. S. and China to avoid ‘bluster’ or ‘personal taunts’ in dealing with North Korea, and said the six-party talks on denuclearization should resume (which as a reminder is the process by which we have arrived here with Kim lobbing ICBMs across Japanese land and test-fiirng nukes). Perhaps Clinton’s $250,000 check did not clear, because in a somewhat unusual move, Clinton decided to tell the Chinese what to do too…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 27, 2017.
Russian deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov said on Monday that “an apocalyptic scenario of developments” on the Korean Peninsula is possible, but Russia hopes that a common sense would prevail among the involved parties. “A scenario of the apocalyptic development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula exists and we cannot turn our blind eye to it,” Morgulov said speaking at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai discussion club in Seoul. “I hope that a common sense, pragmatism and an instinct of self-preservation would prevail among our partners to exclude such negative scenario,” the Russian diplomat said, quoted by Russia’s Tass. Fire and brimstone aside, Morgulov noted that a phase of calm appeared to be returning as North Korea’s current pause in provocations – the longest since last winter – indicates a step toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. ‘I think North Korea’s restraint for the past two months is within the simultaneous freeze road map’ suggested by China and Russia, Morgulov told reporters in Seoul on Monday according to Bloomberg. North Korea’s last provocation was on Sept. 15, when it fired its second missile over Japan in as many months. The 73-day pause is the longest since a 116-day break between October 2016 and February. Russian and Chinese foreign ministers proposed in July a ‘double freezing’ initiative, under which North Korea refrains from missile and nuclear tests, and the U. S. and South Korea halt large-scale military exercises, however the U. S. has rejected this proposal, arguing that its drills are defensive in nature. Earlier this month, it carried out its first exercise in a decade using three aircraft carriers in the region, and plans to conduct drills with South Korea’s air force in early December.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 27, 2017.
The Irish government was on the verge of collapse as it faced a vote of no confidence in the deputy prime minister by a party whose votes are critical for Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to pass laws (the government is a minority administration). As Reuters reported late on Thursday, the opposition Fianna Fail party threatened it would put a motion of no confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald on Tuesday – a move sparked by Fitzgerald’s handling of a legal case involving a police whistleblower – and which would breach the “confidence and supply” agreement that allowed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party to form a minority government 18 months ago. And, as UBS notes, if the government were to lose such a vote, it would have implications within Europe over the Brexit process. *** Fianna Fail indicated it might withdraw the motion if Fitzgerald resigned, but Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told state broadcaster RTE that Fitzgerald would not resign. Additionally, as Bloomberg reports, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar won’t ‘abandon’ deputy Frances Fitzgerald, Coveney also told RTE. Fitzgerald faces a ‘trumped up charge,’ Varadkar told his party lawmakers late on Thursday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2017.
In October, we discussed Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, decision to hand over $32bn to recapitalise India’s state banks. The motivation was India’s slowing growth rate and the need to add one million Indians to the workforce every month. Crippled by massive bad debts, the state-owned banks were struggling to extend more credit to the economy. The announcement caused a surge in India’s Sensex equity index, led by the banks. India has the second highest bad debt ratio of the world’s largest economies – possibly third since China’s official figure is patently incorrect. *** Enter Uday Kotak, Asia’s richest banker (net worth over $10 billion) and managing director of India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank. Kotak is a self-made man. Turning down a job offer from a multinational, he set up a financial services conglomerate, beginning with bills discounting before adding stockbroking, investment banking, mutual funds and car finance. Kotak thinks he’s spotted a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ in Indian finance…so it probably bears considering. Nor is he alone as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds are also taking a close look. The opportunity is in India’s bad loans, as Bloomberg explains.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 22, 2017.
Russia-gate blame-scaping is accelerating across Europe… and now it is being embraced by none other than European Council President Donald Tusk. *** In what is an unprecedented attack by an EU leader on a member state’s sitting government, Bloomberg reports that Tusk explicitly suggests the ruling Law & Justice party is merely a ‘puppet of Putin’ and just forwarding Russian interests… ‘Strident dispute with Ukraine, isolation in the European Union, walking away from rule of law and judicial independence, attack on non-governmental sector and free media,’ Tusk wrote on his personal Twitter account on Sunday. ‘Law & Justice strategy or Kremlin plan? Too similar to sleep well.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2017.
Over the past several months we’ve frequently noted the devolving relationship between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and billionaire financier George Soros. Tensions escalated last month when Orban took it upon himself to mail a Soros-related questionnaire to all 8 million Hungarian voters (see: Hungary Launches Anti-Soros Political Campaign) and then followed that up with an announcement that Hungary’s intelligence services had been instructed to “map” Soros’ network of influence. As Orban’s ruling party gears up for parliamentary elections in April – where it is the prohibitive favorite to win largely thanks to its refusal to accept refugees under a plan devised by the European Commission – the prime minister has instructed his intelligence services to map what he described as the networks run by the billionaire financier’s ’empire’ targeting his country, Bloomberg reported. Intelligence agencies will help evaluate what he sees as efforts by Soros to get Hungary punished by EU institutions pursuing a ‘mixed-population’ continent, Orban said in an interview with Kossuth Radio on Friday. The Associated Press added that the investigation will also focus on alleged Hungarian members of the network. Intelligence agencies will help evaluate what Orban sees as efforts by Soros to get Hungary punished by EU institutions pursuing a ‘mixed-population’ continent, Orban said in an interview with Kossuth Radio on Friday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2017.
Mugabe is meeting heads of security forces. This is the first time we're seeing the participation of Air Force Commander Perence Shiri, Police commissioner Chihuri and Prisons chief Zimondi. (Pics via @HeraldZimbabwe) pic.twitter.com/J44vK0hYWL — Zim Media Review (@ZimMediaReview) November 19, 2017
Update 8: Bloomberg is reporting that Zimbabwe’s ruling party will proceed Monday with its plans to impeach President Robert Mugabe after the long-term leader refused to resign Sunday evening, as was expected. Bloomberg’s sources said Mugabe’s speech, including a vow to preside over the party conference in December, deviated from an earlier agreement with military authorities to read a prepared statement of resignation. Unsurprisingly given his past remarks, it seems Mugabe is comfortable risking a civil war if it means retaining his tenuous grip on power. So with the path forward for Zimbabwe looking dangerously uncertain, the AP has published a timeline reminding readers exactly how we got to this point… Nov. 6: After a campaign of public insults against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe fires his longtime deputy, later accusing him of plotting to take power via witchcraft. Mnangagwa flees the country. Nov 13: Army commander Constantino Chiwenga issues a rare public rebuke, saying the military won’t hesitate to “step in” to calm political tensions and criticizing the handling of the once-prosperous southern African nation’s crumbling economy. Nov. 14: Armored personnel carriers are seen on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. The military moves in overnight, taking control of the state-run broadcaster.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 19, 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Republican tax plan moving forward in the U. S. Congress and championed by Donald ‘Drain the Swamp’ Trump, is very swampy. Today’s post will highlight a few examples. First, let’s hear some of what billionaire fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach had to say. Via Bloomberg: Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer of DoubleLine Capital, said the congressional tax plan would expand the federal deficit and help a small fraction of the U. S. population, including hedge fund managers. ‘I’m very disappointed incidentally about the shape of this tax cut that is being proposed,’ Gundlach told a gathering of industry participants at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on Wednesday. ‘I am just appalled that we are going to continue to have a carried-interest scheme for hedge funds.’ The House bill set to be voted on Thursday keeps the carried-interest tax treatment that benefits private-equity managers, venture capitalists, hedge-fund managers and certain real estate investors. During last year’s campaign, President Donald Trump had vowed to get rid of the loophole. White House top economic adviser Gary Cohn has said Trump is committed to ending the tax break. ‘After I saw that tax bill, I lost hope with the drain the swamp concept,’ Gundlach said. ‘The swamp keeps getting bigger.’ Carried interest is the portion of a fund’s profit – usually a 20 percent share – that’s paid to managers. Currently, tax authorities treat that income as capital gains, making it eligible for a rate as low as 20 percent. The top tax rate for ordinary income is 39.6 percent.