Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In The News:





Retail Apocalypse




If the U.S. economy is getting better, then why are major retail chains closing thousands of stores?  If we truly are in an "economic recovery", then why do sales figures continue to go down for large retailers all over the country?  Without a doubt, the rise of Internet retailing giants such as Amazon.com have had a huge impact.  Today, there are millions of Americans that actually prefer to shop online.  Personally, when I published my novel I made it solely available on Amazon.  But Internet shopping alone does not account for the great retail apocalypse that we are witnessing.  In fact, some retail experts estimate that the Internet has accounted for only about 20 percent of the decline that we are seeing.  Most of the rest of it can be accounted for by the slow, steady death of the middle class U.S. consumer.  Median household income has declined for five years in a row, but all of our bills just keep going up.  That means that the amount of disposable income that average Americans have continues to shrink, and that is really bad news for retailers.
And sadly, this is just the beginning.  Retail experts are projecting that the pace of store closings will actually accelerate over the course of the next decade.
So as you read this list below, please take note that things will soon get even worse.
The following are 20 facts about the great U.S. retail apocalypse that will blow your mind...

#1 As you read this article, approximately a billion square feet of retail space is sitting vacant in the United States.
#2 Last week, Radio Shack announced that it was going to close more than a thousand stores.
#3 Last week, Staples announced that it was going to close 225 stores.
#4 Same-store sales at Office Depot have declined for 13 quarters in a row.
#5 J.C. Penney has been dying for years, and it recently announced plans to close 33 more stores.
#6 J.C. Penney lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.
#7 Sears has closed about 300 stores since 2010, and CNN is reporting that Sears is "expected to shutter another 500 Sears and Kmart locations soon".
#8 Overall, sales numbers have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row.
#9 Target has announced that it is going to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 positions that are currently empty.
#10 It is being projected that A√©ropostale will close about 175 storesover the next couple of years.
#11 Macy's has announced that it is going to be closing five storesand eliminating 2,500 jobs.
#12 The Children’s Place has announced that it will be closing down125 of its "weakest" stores by 2016.
#13 Best Buy recently shut down about 50 stores up in Canada.
#14 Video rental giant Blockbuster has completely shut down all of their stores.
#15 It is being projected that sales at U.S. supermarkets will declineby 1.7 percent this year even as the overall population continues to grow.
#16 McDonald's has reported that sales at established U.S. locationswere down 3.3 percent in January.
#17 A home appliance chain known as "American TV" in the Midwest is going to be shutting down all 11 stores.
#18 Even Wal-Mart is struggling right now.  Just check out what one very prominent Wal-Mart executive recently admitted...

#19 In a recent CNBC article entitled "Time to close Wal-Mart stores? Analysts think so", it was recommended that Wal-Mart should close approximately 100 "underperforming" supercenters in rural locations across America.
#20 Retail consultant Howard Davidowitz is projecting that up to halfof all shopping malls in America may shut down within the next 15 to 20 years...

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate continues to sit at a 35 year low, and a staggering 70 percent of all Americans not in the labor force are below the age of 55.
That is outrageous.
And things look particularly depressing when you look at the labor force participation rate for men by themselves.
In 1950, the labor force participation rate for men was sitting at about 87 percent.  Today, it has dropped beneath 70 percent to a brand new all-time record low.

Despite what the politicians and the mainstream media are telling you, the truth is that something is fundamentally wrong with our economy.
The frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get.  The next great wave of the economic collapse is approaching, and when it strikes the plight of the middle class is going to get a whole lot worse.
On a gut level, most people realize this.





Surrounded by a cache of missiles, part of an alleged Iranian arms shipment to the Gaza Strip seized on board the Klos-C last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly rebuked the international community Monday for clinging to what he said was the illusion of a changed Iran, even after an Israeli raid to intercept the ship uncovered the cache of advanced arms.

Before making his statement, Netanyahu was briefed by military officials among the rows of weapons, marked with Iranian seals, neatly arrayed at the port. The arms, the officials said, included M-302 missiles with a range of up to 160-kilometers (100 miles). The officials said the Iranian-shipped, Syrian-made missiles were capable of causing more damage than the Iranian-made M-75 or Fajr-5 missiles used by Hamas against Israel in the past.

The IDF said it found 40 M-302 rockets aboard the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C it intercepted in the Red Sea last week, as well as 181 120-mm. mortar shells and approximately 400,000 7.62-caliber rounds. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the mortar rounds had been made in Iran. Before he spoke to the press, IDF officers showed Netanyahu documentation they said confirmed the Iranian origin of the shipment.


With a grave expression, the prime minister blasted Western leaders for “smilingly shaking hands” with Iranian leaders even as the missiles were being unloaded at Israel’s southern Eilat port — a shipment as heavily masked, Netanyahu said, as Iran’s nuclear program.

He was referring to a European Union delegation led by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who arrived in Iran Sunday for her first visit to the country – the first European diplomat in her position to do so since 2008 — and held a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
Calling on the international to wake up and see the truth behind “Iran’s fake smiles … before it’s too late,” Netanyahu said world powers must stop Iran from achieving military nuclear capabilities.
“They would like to continue to build up the illusion that Iran has changed course, but the facts we see on this pier prove the exact opposite,” Netanyahu said.

He said there was conclusive proof, including testimony by the ship’s crew, that the weapons containers were loaded onto the Klos-C in Bandar Abbas, Iran’s largest port. He said the ship’s bills of lading, both real and fabricated, showed that Iran had tried to mask the contents of the shipment — precisely as it masks its nuclear efforts.
“Just as Iran tried to camouflage this deadly weapons shipment, Iran camouflages its military nuclear program,” he said.

“The international community would like to ignore Iran’s continued criminal hostility; the massacre it is helping to commit in Syria; its support for terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon,” said Netanyahu.

“There are those who would prefer that we not hold this news conference here today,” he added, addressing the foreign press in English. “They feel uncomfortable. They would prefer that we continue to nurture the illusion” of a new, moderate Iran, he added.



The Israel Air Force struck an Islamic Jihad cell in southern Gaza on Tuesday minutes after it was identified as being behind an attack on an IDF unit on the Gaza-Israel border.

According to military sources, the terrorists fired a mortar shell at soldiers who were conducting routine security measures near the frontier.
The Islamic Jihad said that the Israeli strike killed three of its operatives.
The IDF confirmed the aircraft’s hit on the terror cell. The aircraft then returned safely to its base. The army added that it would not tolerate any attack on military forces operating along the border.




Unconfirmed news reports claim the Russian Navy is deploying land-based ‘Bastion’ anti-ship missile systems as a response to the recent U.S. move entering two naval vessels to the Black Sea. The two American Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG-103) crossed the Bosphorus Strait Friday, headed into the Black Sea, as tensions simmer over Ukraine’s Crimea region. The Russians also moved two naval combatants from the Mediterranean Task Force back to the Black Sea Fleet. Tension is mounting in the CrimeaPeninsula with the preparations for a referendum on independence from Ukraine later this week.
As of today, the Truxtun remain the only US warship in the Black Sea following thesouthbound passage of FF(G)-50 USS Taylor through the Bosphorus. The Taylor, a Perry class frigate was deployed to the Black Sea before the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games started.USS Taylor and the flag ship of the US 6th Fleet USS Mount Whitney were sent to the Black Sea to help with the evacuation of US athletes and spectators in case of an terror attack to the Games. However, when visiting the Black Sea port of Samsun, Turkey, the frigate damaged her propelled and had to be towed away to Souda, Crete for repairs.
The US Navy said in a statement on Thursday that the ship was bound for the Black Sea to conduct military exercises with Bulgarian and Romanian naval forces. According to theMontreux Convention, warships of countries which do not border the Black Sea can only stay in the waters for 21 days.
The Bastion anti-ship missile system was deployed last night (8-9 March) to Sevastopol from the Russian town of Anapa, Krasnodar, about 250 miles to the East. Follow bystanders recorded the movement of Bastion anti-ship launcher complex on the streets Crimea. The K-300P Bastion-P employs P-800 Yakhont (SS-N-26) anti-ship cruise missile hypersonic anti-ship missiles carried on mobile transporter-erector-launchers (TEL) is a Russian. The missiles are used as mobile coastal defence systems, having an effective range of 300 km




Russian troops seized a military hospital and a missile base in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea Monday, in the latest show of force in the battle for the country’s disputed future.
Pro-Russian militias joined Russian troops in taking over the hospital in Simferopol -- the region’s main administrative city -- herding staff members into a hallway to apparently “meet the institution’s new directors,” Reuters reported, citing Interfax. The report said 20 patients at the hospital are gravely ill.   
Russian soldiers disarmed servicemen at a Ukrainian Army missile base overnight Friday. Ukrainian military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov told a local TV station that some 200 troops approached the building and threatened to charge it if the Ukrainian soldiers refused to give up their weapons.

While separatists in Crimea are keeping up the pressure for unification with Moscow, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Sunday not to give up "a single centimeter" of his country's territory. During commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ukraine's greatest poet, Yatsenyuk said, "This is our land."Standing before the crowd gathered at the Kiev statue to writer and nationalist Taras Shevchenko on Sunday, Yatsenyuk said, "Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land. And we won't budge a single centimeter from Ukrainian land. Let Russia and its president know this."





Pope Francis says the issue of gay marriage should be studied and not dismissed out-of-hand, a senior Roman Catholic cardinal has revealed.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the outspoken archbishop of New York, said Pope Francis had told him: “Rather than quickly condemn them, let's just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people."
Archbishop Dolan stressed that the Pope had not shifted the Catholic Church’s position on same-sex unions.
"It wasn't as if he came out and approved them,” he told the NBC television network in the US.
But the Pope wanted senior Church leaders to “look into” the issue and to scrutinise the reasons why many countries have legalised same-sex marriages.
Last July, when asked about homosexual priests, he said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
He added: “We shouldn't marginalise people for this. They must be integrated into society.”
His comments did not fundamentally change the policy of the Catholic Church, which holds that while homosexual orientation is not in itself sinful, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”.
The Pope’s attitude towards homosexuality has won him plaudits and earned him a place on the cover of The Advocate, a gay news magazine.
Conservative Catholics, particularly in the United States, have been alarmed by some of his comments, but Archbishop Dolan played down the idea of any backlash by traditionalists.
"I haven't sensed too much bristling among the conservatives," he said. "They honestly will say, 'His style is a little different and might periodically cause us a little angst.'



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