Russia’s nuclear missile force staged large-scale exercises across the vast country Thursday consisting of drills to combat sabotage and chemical weapons attacks. More than 30 regiments of the Strategic Missile Forces were involved in 12 regions, according to Itar-Tass, a Russian news agency close to the government.
“According to the drill scenario, simulated enemy’s sabotage groups planted mines on the combat patrolling route sections and used toxic agents in the field. Engineer troops, radiological, chemical and biological defense forces, as well as anti-sabotage units have been engaged in the exercises,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Igor Yegorov. Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces plan to test-fire their new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile in 2017. The Sarmat would replace the Cold War-era R-36 missile, nicknamed “Satan” by NATO, which is the largest ICBM ever made.
Russia’s stockpile of 8,400 nuclear warheads is the largest in the world, surpassing the U.S.’s 7,500. Both nuclear superpowers have taken steps over the last 25 years to reduce their stockpiles under landmark accords agreed upon following the end of the Cold War.
Up until now, on the record at least, all aid military and otherwise that the US has sent to Ukraine has been more in the vein of non-aggression.
Lethal aid is a line that has not been crossed yet, and for good reason. By all accounts, if the US were to lethally arm the Ukrainian government that it put into power over there, it would send a clear signal to Russia that America wants a full-blown war.
In fact, just days ago, Obama said that lethal weapons weren’t ruled out, and top Russian MP and close friend of Putin, Alexi Pushkov, warned the European Parliament that if the United States supplied lethal weapons to the Ukrainian government, it would not only undermine the whole European security system but would result in ‘all out war.’
Now that’s exactly what new legislation introduced in the US House aims to do, to the tune of one billion dollars.
“The Secretary of Defense is authorized, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training equipment, lethal weapons of a defensive nature, logistics support, supplies and services, and sustainment to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, through September 30, 2017,” Tuesday’s legislation read. “To carry out the provisions of this act there are authorized to be appropriated $1,000,000,000. Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this subsection are authorized to remain available until September 30, 2017.”
It seems the west is hell-bent on war.
It has already been established that the entire basis for Russian sanctions — the story floated in the western media that Russian army troops are fighting in Ukraine — is simply not true. At least not overtly.
Back in January, the Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Viktor Muzhenko went on channel 5 in Ukraine and explicitly stated that there were no regular units of the Russian army fighting against his soldiers in Ukraine and that the only Russian citizens fighting are either Russian citizens of Ukraine to begin with or “members of illegal armed groups” who are not being paid by a government to fight and are doing so on their own.
Nevertheless, this escalation could easily provoke Russia into official involvement, bringing U.S. engagement closer as well.
Which may just be the way they want it…
What will happen if two superpowers become engaged in direct war? Not sure, but we might just find out.
The Federal Communications Commission will vote on a new “net neutrality” regulatory framework for the Internet on Feb. 26. FCC has already been stopped in its tracks twice by federal courts which have ruled that the FCC has no authority to impose such regulations. Not to be thwarted, the Obama administration has doubled down, declaring the Internet a public utility subject to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
While the administration promises a bonanza of new benefits, this regulatory framework will stifle innovation, hobble Internet startups, and ultimately place the heavy hand of government on both accessibility and new media content.
Net neutrality is being sold as a method to make broadband access inexpensive, but to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, “If you think [the Internet] is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” Net neutrality is a form of price control, and price controls everywhere distort the market. By affording equal access to all comers at below cost, demand will skyrocket while supply dries up. If an ISP cannot provide Internet access at a profit, it will go out of business. The government will then step in to take its place.
And it won’t be cheap. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who opposes the plan, recently warned that it will give FCC power to micromanage virtually every aspect of the Internet. “If you like dealing with the IRS, you are going to love the President’s plan,” he says. According to Pai, this is what’s coming:
- Billions of dollars in new taxes, higher prices and hidden fees
- Reduced investment in broadband networks, slower internet speeds and less access
- A move from a largely unregulated Internet to a regulated monopoly
This viewpoint is not about having “equal access.” It’s about having an information monopoly. The interrelated goals of net neutrality are thus to first seize control of the Internet, then influence content.
A Pew Research survey published on Feb. 5 reports that fully 64 percent of journalists believe the government has spied on them, and 80 percent think that being a journalist makes them a target of such spying. Given the administration’s demonstrated hostility to news media, and its heavy reliance on it to craft the president’s image, would one expect more freedom of expression following the planned government takeover of the Internet, or less?
The control freaks that run our government always seem to want to “regulate” things that they do not like. And so it should be no surprise that there is a renewed push to regulate independent news websites. Sites like the Drudge Report, Infowars.com and The Economic Collapse Blog have been a thorn in the side of the establishment for years. You see, the truth is that approximately 90 percent of all news and entertainment in this country is controlled by just six giant media corporations. That is why the news seems to be so similar no matter where you turn. But in recent years the alternative media has exploded in popularity. People are hungry for the truth, and an increasing number of Americans are waking up to the fact that they are not getting the truth from the corporate-controlled media. But as the alternative media has grown, it was only going to be a matter of time before the establishment started cracking down on it. At the moment it is just the FEC and the FCC, but surely this is just the beginning. Our “Big Brother” government ultimately wants to control every area of our lives – and this especially applies to our ability to communicate freely with one another.
Ajit Pai is an FCC commissioner who is opposed to this plan. He recently sent out a tweet holding what he calls “President Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet“…
Ajit Pai’s description of “President Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet” sounds Orwellian. He tweeted a picture of himself holding the 332-page plan just below a picture of a smiling Barack Obama with a comment, “I wish the public could see what’s inside.” The implication depicted Obama as George Orwell’s “Big Brother.”
Pai also released a statement: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” he said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
After what we went through with Obamacare, one can only imagine what is inside that monstrosity of a document.
Regulation of the Internet is here, and it is only going to get worse.
The stock market continues to flirt with new record highs, but the signs that we could be on the precipice of the next major financial crisis continue to mount. A couple of days ago, I discussed the fact that the U.S. dollar is experiencing a tremendous surge in value just like it did in the months prior to the financial crisis of 2008. And previously, I have detailed how the price of oil has collapsed, prices for industrial commodities are tanking and market behavior is becoming extremely choppy. All of these are things that we witnessed just before the last market crash as well. It is also important to note that orders for durable goods are declining and the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to the lowest level on record. So does all of this mean that the stock market is guaranteed to crash in 2015? No, of course not. But what we are looking for are probabilities. We are looking for patterns. There are multiple warning signs that have popped up repeatedly just prior to previous financial crashes, and many of those same warning signs are now appearing once again.
One of these warning signs that I have not discussed previously is the wholesale inventories to sales ratio. When economic activity starts to slow down, inventory tends to get backed up. And that is precisely what is happening right now. In fact, as Wolf Richter recently wrote about, the wholesale inventories to sales ratio has now hit a level that we have not seen since the last recession…
Another sign that I find extremely interesting is the behavior of the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasury notes. As Jeff Clark recently explained, we usually see a spike in the 10 year Treasury yield about the time the market is peaking before a crash…
The 10-year Treasury note yield bottomed on January 30 at 1.65%. Today, it’s at 2%. That’s a 35-basis-point spike – a jump of 21% – in less than two weeks.
And it’s the first sign of an impending stock market crash.
In light of so much bad economic data, it boggles my mind that stocks have been doing so well.
But this is typical bubble behavior. Financial bubbles tend to be very irrational and they tend to go on a lot longer than most people think they will. When they do finally burst, the consequences are often quite horrifying.
It may not seem like it to most people, but we are right on track for a major financial catastrophe. It is playing out right in front of our eyes in textbook fashion. But it is going to take a little while to unfold.
Unfortunately, most people these days do not have the patience to watch long-term trends develop. Instead, we have been trained by the mainstream media to have the attention spans of toddlers. We bounce from one 48-hour news cycle to the next, eagerly looking forward to the next “scandal” that is going to break.
And when the next financial crash does strike, the mainstream media is going to talk about what a “surprise” it is. But for those that are watching the long-term trends, it is not going to be a surprise at all. We will have seen it coming a mile away.