Tuesday, July 21, 2015

AIPAC Girds For Showdown With White House, NATO Launches Biggest Ever Drill In Ukraine, Financial Collapse Imminent

AIPAC girds for rare high-noon showdown with White House | The Times of Israel

It will be the DC equivalent of the showdown at the OK Corral. Stepping into the summer haze on Capitol Hill, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and its allies are set to face off against the ultimate power broker – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – backed up by a cadre of its allied groups.

The lobbying showdown, over a Congressional vote on the nuclear deal with Iran, represents a rare moment for AIPAC, with the avowedly bipartisan organization publicly splitting with the sitting administration over a major foreign policy initiative.

AIPAC’s efforts at bipartisanship, and specifically at avoiding picking a fight with the president, extend back decades. For years, the organization has maintained a policy of remaining tight-lipped on budgetary face-offs, preferring instead to focus on completed deals and lobbying successes.

On Iran, the fight has been growing increasingly rancorous. AIPAC publicly backed legislation sponsored by senators Mark Kirk and Bob Menendez that would have threatened Iran with additional sanctions if talks had failed – a bill that the administration fervently opposed.

The administration has accused skeptics of the Iran deal of suggesting no alternative short of war, and in a lengthy press conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama warned Congress against being swayed by “lobbyists” – suggesting that deal opponents were not concentrating solely on the US interest.
While such a scrap between AIPAC and the administration is not without precedent, it has been over two decades since the last bare-knuckles fight.

This is the first time, Washington old-timers agree, that the self-imposed stakes have been quite so high for the administration. Neither side is likely to retreat, setting the stage for the history-making clash. Only the coming two months will tell whether this showdown will end any differently than the previous ones – or how deep the bad blood will run before it’s done.

NATO has brought together 1,800 troops from 18 countries in block’s biggest ever exercise on Ukrainian soil. Moscow has warned that the wargames may undermine peace process in eastern Ukraine.
The US-led exercises, which see annual Saber Guardian and Rapid Trident drills combined, were launched on Monday near the city of Lvov in western Ukraine and are scheduled to continue until the end of July.
“Multinational exercises have been conducted in Ukraine since 1995, however it is safe to say that this is the largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine to date,” Don Wrenn public affairs public affairs specialist for US Army Europe is cited by Newsweek.

Besides Ukraine and the US, the troops from Germany, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as non-members Serbia, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan are participating in the exercises.
The international troops will be practicing casualty evacuation and first aid, reactions to being ambushed, training to identify improvised explosive devices and perform simulated outpost operations, he said.
“It is not anything to do with the political situation. This exercise was planned ahead of time. Countries were notified that it would occur and we can't directly connect with the situation going on,” Wrenn stressed.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned that NATO drills in western Ukraine threaten the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the east of the country.

NATO’s actions are fueling “revanchist moods among the ‘party of war’ in Kiev, which jeopardize the outlined progress in the peaceful settlement of a deep internal crisis in Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.

Moscow has called the drills “a clear manifestation of the NATO’s course of unconditional support for the current policy of the Kiev authorities in the south-east of Ukraine, which leads to civilians dying on a daily basis in the region.”

Despite NATO leaders vocally urging the fulfilment of the Minsk peace deal between Kiev and the Rebels, the bloc “isn’t only reluctant to acknowledge the explosive character of such exercises, but significantly increased their scope and the number of troops involved in comparison with similar drills last year," Russia’s foreign ministry stressed.

When financial markets crash, they do not do so in a vacuum.  There are always patterns, signs and indicators that tell us that something is about to happen.  In this article, I am going to share with you four patterns that are happening right now that also happened just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008.  These four signs are very strong evidence that a deflationary financial collapse is right around the corner.  

Instead of the hyperinflationary crisis that so many have warned about, what we are about to experience is a collapse in asset prices, a massive credit crunch and a brief period of absolutely crippling deflation.  The response by national governments and global central banks to this horrific financial crisis will cause tremendous inflation down the road, but that comes later.  What comes first is a crisis that will initially look a lot like 2008, but will ultimately prove to be much worse.  The following are 4 things that are happening right now that indicate that a deflationary financial collapse is imminent…

#1 Commodities Are Crashing
In mid-2008, just before the U.S. stock market crashed in the fall, commodities started crashing hard.  Well, now it is happening again.  In fact, the Bloomberg Commodity Index just hit a 13 year low, which means that it is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis…

#2 Oil Is Crashing
On Monday, the price of oil dipped back below $50 a barrel.  This has surprised many analysts, because a lot of them thought that the price of oil would start to rebound by now.
In early 2014, the price of a barrel of oil was sitting above $100 a barrel and the future of the industry looked very bright.  Since that time, the price of oil has fallen by more than 50 percent.
There is only one other time in all of history when the price of oil has fallen by more than $50 a barrel in such a short period of time.  That was in 2008, just before the great financial crisis that erupted later that year.  In the chart posted below, you can see how similar that last oil crash was to what we are experiencing right now…

#3 Gold Is Crashing
Most people don’t remember that the price of gold took a very serious tumble in the run up to the financial crisis of 2008.  In early 2008, the price of gold almost reached $1000 an ounce, but by October it had fallen to nearly $700 an ounce.  Of course once the stock market finally crashed it ultimately propelled gold to unprecedented heights, but what we are concerned about for this article is what happens before a crisis arrives.
For years, I have been telling people that we were going to see wild swings in the prices of gold and silver.
And to be honest, the party is just getting started.  Personally, I particularly love silver for the long-term.  But you have got to be able to handle the roller coaster ride if you are going to get into precious metals.  It is not for the faint of heart.
#4 The U.S. Dollar Index Is Surging
Before the U.S. stock market crashed in the fall of 2008, the U.S. dollar went on a very impressive run.  This is something that you can see in the chart posted below.  Now, the U.S. dollar is experiencing a similar rise.  For a while there it looked like the rally might fizzle out, but in recent days the dollar has started to skyrocket once again.  That may sound like good news to most Americans, but the truth is that a strong dollar is highly deflationary for the global financial system as a whole for a variety of reasons.  So just like in 2008, this is not the kind of chart that we should want to see…
As an attorney, I was trained to follow the evidence and to only come to conclusions that were warranted by the facts.  And right now, it seems abundantly clear that things are lining up in textbook fashion for another major financial crisis.
But even though what is happening right in front of our eyes is so similar to what happened back in 2008, most people do not see it.
So even though the signs are obvious, most people will never see what is coming in advance.

It’s never been more obvious that Greece has been sold out to the banks. Like many countries before, their nation has been scheduled to endure poverty and chaos, followed by a firesale of their assets. The latest evidence of their nation’s capture by the banks, is the selling of their numerous islands to wealthy buyers.

Of course, the value of these islands is hardly enough to pay down their massive debt, and that’s kind of the point. When the banks own your country, they’re not interested in liberating you from your financial slavery. Before you ever get around to repaying those debts, or defaulting, they’ll use austerity to bring your country to the brink of chaos, and buy up everything for pennies on the dollar, and make a handsome profit as the country recovers on their terms.
Prime Minister Tsipras has sold out to these financial interests; and the firesale of all Greek assets, not just their paltry islands, is well on its way.

Eurozone leaders demanded that Greek public assets be transferred to a Treuhand-like fund – a fire-sale vehicle similar to the one used after the fall of the Berlin Wall to privatize quickly, at great financial loss, and with devastating effects on employment all of the vanishing East German state’s public property.

This Greek Treuhand would be based in – wait for it – Luxembourg, and would be run by an outfit overseen by Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, the author of the scheme. It would complete the fire sales within three years. But, whereas the work of the original Treuhand was accompanied by massive West German investment in infrastructure and large-scale social transfers to the East German population, the people of Greece would receive no corresponding benefit of any sort.

This is how the sovereignty and prosperity of a nation is sucked away by the financial elites of the world. But Greece isn’t the only bank owned nation. The USI (United States Incorporated) has been thoroughly captured by the banking class, and once its usefulness as a war-fighting machine is finished; austerity, riots, and firesales won’t be far behind.

“Complete failure” of ice wall built to contain extremely radioactive water… Plutonium is flowing into Pacific, will for many years to come — Strontium in ocean hits record level, huge increase reported since April

  • Are the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi over?… This catastrophe is not over… We should continue to be very worried.
  • 3 of the nuclear cores at Fukushima Daiichi are in direct contact with groundwater.  Nuclear power designers and engineers never anticipated that possibility.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Units No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 were destroyed… allowing holes and cracks to form… We know for sure that the Fukushima Daiichi containments are full of holes that allow groundwater to come in direct contact with each nuclear core.
  • Groundwater is still leaking in and leaking out, at a rate of at least 300 tons per day… more than 1,500 days have passed… 23,000-tanker truckloads of radioactive water have already leaked into the Pacific Ocean. Worse yet, there is no end in sight.
  • As Fairewinds anticipated, the ‘ice wall’ is a complete failure.
  • Cesium, strontium and plutonium from Fukushima Daiichi will continue to bleed into the Pacific Ocean for decades because the groundwater flow is unmitigated.
  • Japan’s press looks on silently due to the real threat and constraints of the government’s secrecy act… The true human, financial, and environmental costs of this nuclear power catastrophe are not publicized and discussed.

TEPCO reported on July 17 that Strontium-90 concentrations in the ocean outside Fukushima Units 3 and 4 are at record highs. Levels have spiked around 1,000% in 3 months.
Sr-90 measured between Unit 3 & 4 intake channel
Sr-90 measured at Unit 4 screen
* According to TEPCO’s July 17 report, the total level of all beta ray emitters (which includes Sr-90) was 1,200 Bq/L — yet the levels reported for Sr-90 were 1,500 Bq/L.  When a similar occurrence happened last year, Asahi reported: “Strontium levels exceeded the all-beta readings in some instances, leading the utility to decide they were ‘wrong’.” TEPCO’s corrected data revealed much higher levels.

Now, Greece is stuck with a deal that promises more of the same austerity measures that have so far served only to prolong an intractable recession and indeed, without some manner of debt relief or re-profiling, the new program has no chance of success. 
Given all of this, it isn’t surprising that economists are once again beginning to talk about Grexit, and indeed, who can blame them? It’s difficult to take seriously the idea that the new "deal" has taken a Greek exit off the table when German FinMin Wolfgang Schaeuble still claims that a Greek exit from the EMU might be the country’s best chance at a "classic" haircut and economic recovery. Here’s Bloomberg with more on why Grexit is "back on the agenda":

So, like his predecessors, Mr Tsipras ended up with another very lousy bailout deal. And this one suffers from the same fundamental flaws as its predecessors. This leads me to conclude that Grexit remains the most likely ultimate outcome after all.

There are three principal ways in which this can happen. The first is that a deal is simply not concluded. All that was agreed last week is for negotiations to start, plus some interim financing. A deal might fail because principal participants themselves are sceptical. Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, says he will keep up his offer of a Grexit in his drawer, just in case the negotiations fail. Mr Tsipras denounced the agreement on several occasions last week. And the International Monetary Fund is telling us that the numbers do not add up, and that it will not sign unless the European creditors agree to debt relief.

A more likely Grexit scenario is that a programme is agreed and then fails. The Athens government may implement all the measures the creditors demand, but the economy fails to recover and debt targets remain elusive. Mr Tsipras already agreed last week that if this situation arose, he would pile on more austerity. So, unless the economy behaves in future in a very different way from the way it behaved in the past, it will remain trapped in a vicious circle for many years to come. At that point, Mr Tsipras, or his successor, could concede defeat and opt for a negotiated Grexit as the least painful option. Grexit could also be forced on them by the creditors.

My own most likely Grexit scenario is a different one yet again. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, hinted at this in his interview with the Financial Times last week when he said that he felt "something revolutionary" in the air. He is on to something. The most probable scenario for me is Grexit through insurrection.

In other words, after suffering untold humiliation at the hands of creditors, Greeks will eventially be pushed to their breaking point. 
Scavenging through the trash for food, lining up at banks to receive rationed euros, scarcities of imported goods - eventually enough will be enough. Once Greek society reaches the tipping point, a popular revolt - an "insurrection" or "something revolutionary" - will follow. 
At that juncture, officials in Brussels will proceed to the 13th floor of the Berlaymont building, open the safe a few meters down from EU President Jean-Claude Juncker’s office, and dust off the Grexit "Black Book." 
Next, the streets of Athens will "fill with the sounds of tanks."

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