Central banks pile up Gold, private investors join bandwagon
By Austin Kiddle - CommodityOnline.com
Gold futures led the performance of other asset classes by rallying 1.4% week-to-date as of Tuesday. The S&P rose only 0.1% after rallying 3.7% last week, while the Stoxx was flat after rising 3.6% last week. The Euro/dollar fell 0.1%, and the CRB Commodity Index dropped 0.7% so far this week. The Dollar Index fell 0.1% as well. The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield rose slightly by 3bp. In other words, many markets have been adopting a wait-and-see attitude.
China's recently-released economic data have been encouraging: exports growth and trade surplus were higher than expected; inflation eased to 3%; new loans at RMB 793.2 billion were higher than expected, indicating the economy has been responding to policy easing.
EU debt crisis to boost Gold demand significantly:
LONDON (Commodity Online): The ongoing European debt crisis is likely to mean more gold demand from investors and central banks, said Commerzbank, the second-largest bank in Germany, after Deutsche Bank.
According to the German bank, the metal rose back above $1,600 an ounce Tuesday despite weakness in the broader commodity markets. So far, the financial aid promised to Spanish banks has failed to have its desired effect.
Further rises in Spanish and Italian bond yields Tuesday and a Fitch downgrade of Spanish banks.
This Report Shows We're Already Headed There
BY BEN GERSTEN, Associate Editor, Money Morning
Recent reports have indicated a downturn in the U.S. economy. Coupled with fears stemming from the Eurozone debt crisis, they've fueled speculation about "Recession 2013."
In fact, former President Bill Clinton said he thinks we are already in a recession - and that was before the latest U.S. unemployment numbers were released, painting an even gloomier picture.
By now most of you have heard about the awful numbers in the discouraging U.S. jobs report for May, where only 69,000 jobs were added - nowhere near the 150,000 expected.
Endless QE? $6 trillion and counting
By Mike Dolan
(Reuters) - Many more years of money printing from the world's big four central banks now looks destined to add to the $6 trillion already created since 2008 and may transform the relationship between the once fiercely-independent banks and governments.
As rich economies sink deeper into a slough of debt after yet another wave of euro financial and banking stress and U.S. hiring hesitancy, everyone is looking back to the U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England and Bank of Japan to stabilize the situation once more.
The European Banking Union?
By Hans-Werner Sinn - Project-Syndicate.org
MUNICH – In blatant violation of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Commission has come forward with one bailout plan after another for Europe's distressed economies. Now it wants to socialize not only government debt by introducing Eurobonds, but also banking debt by proclaiming a "banking union."
Socializing bank debt is both unjust and will result in a future misallocation of resources. Socialization of bank debt across borders implies that a country's private borrowing costs are artificially reduced below market rates, as insurance (in the form of credit-default swaps) is provided free of charge by other countries. Thus, capital flows from the core to the periphery would continue to exceed the optimal amount, undermining growth for Europe as a whole.
Barroso to unveil 'political union' plan at EU summit
BY ANDREW RETTMAN - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said member states must agree to a big common budget, a future banking union and - ultimately - political union in order to save the EU.
His speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (13 June) comes before an EU summit on 28 June.
Barroso, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and Jean-Claude Juncker - the head of the euro-using countries' club, the Eurogroup - are drafting a joint paper on how EU leaders can stop the crisis.
Greeks Withdraw $1 Billion a Day Ahead of Vote
Reuters - CNBC.com
Greeks pulled their cash out of the banks and stocked up with food ahead of a cliffhanger election on Sunday that many fear will result in the country being forced out of the euro.
Bankers said up to 800 million euros ($1 billion) were leaving major banks daily and retailers said some of the money was being used to buy pasta and canned goods, as fears of returning to the drachma were fanned by rumors that a radical leftist leader may win the election.
precarious funding pushes health
and social services to extremes
Use of volunteers and donations at state-funded refugee centre and psychiatric hospital reveal impact of low cash and high debts
By Lizzy Davies in Athens - Guardian.co.uk
As the volunteers unpack their shopping bags of rice, milk and cooking oil, Goman Badder retreats to the room he lives in with his wife and their one-year-old son. For the 28-year-old Syrian Kurd, the deliveries are a mixed blessing: he is relieved that his family will not go hungry, but humiliated that it has come to this. He had hoped for better things for his son, asleep on the neatly made bed.
"When I left Syria, I felt I didn't want him to be like me," he says. "But I never thought for him it would be like this: people bringing him Pampers and milk. If I'd known it would be like this I would never have brought him to this world."
EU 'Could Limit Withdrawals From Cash Machines'
If Greek Exit Tips Eurozone Into Deeper Crisis
(Adrien Lowery)European Union officials have discussed measures to stop mass withdrawals from cash machines, a report claimed today, if a Greek exit were to tip the eurozone into a deeper crisis.
Finance officials have also discussed imposing border checks and introducing eurozone capital controls, in order to check a possible flight of funds, according to Reuters news agency.
The officials stressed they did not expect Greece to leave the euro and the ideas were from a range of contingency plans – but the preparations indicate the gravity which EU leaders are attaching to a potential Greek exit.
Europe's Divisions Widen as Policy Makers Clash
Rajoy Battles ECB For Loans; Monti Appeals For EU Action
By Ben Sills - Bloomberg.com
Tensions among European leaders are breaking into the open as bond investors reject their fixes for a debt crisis that threatens to overwhelm the euro region's financial firewalls.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sniped at Greek yacht owners in comments published yesterday while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared "battle" on theEuropean Central Bank. Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter retracted a forecast that Italy would need aid, and Spain pushed back against Finnish advice on how to use its 100 billion-euro ($126 billion) bank bailout.
Crisis focus shifts to Italy ahead of key auction
Italy braces for medium- and long-term-debt auctions
By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — The traveling euro-zone debt crisis will shift from Spain to Italy on Thursday as Europe's third-largest economy hosts a key bond auction, hoping to stem fears that it might be the next country to require a bailout.
Pressure has intensified on Italian bonds leading up to the auction of €4.5 billion ($5.62 billion) in medium- and long-term debt as fears have emerged that if Italy were to require a bailout the EU wouldn't be able to provide one.
Italy denies need for bail-out
BY VALENTINA POP - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has said his country does not need a bail-out, even though its borrowing costs have soared amid contagion from Spain, whose recent bail-out has failed to calm markets.
"Italy even in the future will not need aid from the European Financial Stability Fund," Monti said in an interview with the German Public Radio ARD on Tuesday (12 June).
He called on investors and market analysts "not to be governed by cliches or prejudices" and argued that his country has left its "undisciplined" past behind and is doing more to put its house in order than many other European countries.
Europe's 'Worst Crisis' Requires Fiscal Union: Spain
By: Katy Barnato - Assistant Editor, CNBC
Europe needs a fiscal and banking union if it is to survive "the worst crisis" since the European Union's creation, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoysaid in an open letter to leaders on Wednesday.
In the letter, which was addressed to Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, Rajoy said fiscal and banking union, as well as monetary union, will be necessary to counter financial volatility and restore confidence in the euro zone.
Bailout in Spain Leaves Taxpayers Liable for the Cost
By: Raphael Minder, The New York Times - CNBC.com
After clinching a $125 billion bailout for Spain's banks, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy flew to Poland on Sunday for the Spanish team's soccer match, declaring "this matter is now resolved."
Not so fast, prime minister.
On Tuesday, Spain's long-term borrowing costs soared to their highest level since the country joined the euro zone. Investors have apparently concluded that the rescue is potentially a much better deal for the banksand their shareholders than for the government, its taxpayers and bondholders.
Moody's: Spain's credit rating could be cut to junk within three months
Spain could be downgraded to 'junk' within three months, rating agency Moody's warned on Wednesday night, as it slashed the country's credit rating by three notches.
By Emma Rowley - Telegraph.co.uk
The €100bn (£80bn) bank bailout agreed this week will "further increase the country's debt burden", the agency said, as it cut Spain's government bond rating from A3 to Baa3 – one notch above non-investment grade or 'junk' status.
Moody's also cited the Spanish government's "very limited financial market access" and the weakness of the country's economy.
It placed Spain on review for possible further downgrade as it awaited the outcome of audits of Spanish banks and further details of the bank bailout. Spain's rating could also be cut if "the risk of a Greek exit from the euro were to rise further", Moody's said. It expected to conclude the review within a maximum of three months.
How Germans Botched the Spanish Bank Bailout
By Clive Crook - Bloomberg.com
Europe's latest initiative to subdue its financial crisis fell apart in less than a day.
The instant response to the plan for supporting Spanish banks had been euphoric. Even as bond markets pushed the cost of Spanish public borrowing even higher, in effect declaring the country insolvent, politicians were still applauding themselves.
European Union leaders thought the plan would impress the markets because the sum committed to support Spain's banks, 100 billion euros ($125 billion), looked adequate -- bigger, in fact, than investors expected. The EU thought it was getting ahead of events for once.
Spain's Record Yields Show Italy Bailout Risk Amid Contagion
By Ben Sills - San Francisco Chronicle
June 13 (Bloomberg) -- Spain's benchmark borrowing costs rose for a fourth day after touching a record yesterday, raising the specter of sovereign bailouts for the government in Madrid and then Italy that would stretch European Union finances to their limit.
The yield on Spanish 10-year government debt rose 2 basis points to 6.73 percent at 9:55 a.m. in Madrid. Yesterday it touched 6.83 percent, the highest since 1997, after Fitch Ratings predicted that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will miss budget-deficit targets he's made the foundation of his economic policy. Italian 10-year yields posted their highest close in six months yesterday and rose for a sixth session today.
Geithner rejects calls to push hard on Europe
By Greg Robb, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — It makes no sense for the United States to push Europe harder to solve its debt crisis, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday.
While the United States has a clear interest in making the euro-zone monetary union more viable, "we can't want this more than them. … We can't make these choices for them," he remarked in a talk to the Council on Foreign Relations.
"There are people who say we should be louder in telling them what to do. I don't think so," Geithner added. "There are people who say we should go write them a check so they don't have to write a larger check to help underpin monetary union. I don't see how that's defensible."
Geithner Says European Leaders Know They Must Do More
By Ian Katz - Bloomberg.com
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said European leaders "recognize they're going to have to do a bunch more" to stem the region's debt crisis.
"This is a very challenging crisis for them still," Geithner said today during a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
Spain and Italy appealed today to European policy makers to step up their response to the crisis after a 100 billion-euro ($125 billion) lifeline for Spanish banks failed to calm markets. Yields on Spanish debt due in 10-years climbed to 6.75 percent today, compared with 5.1 percent at the end of last year.
Germany signals shift
on €2.3 trillion redemption fund for Europe
The German government has begun opening the door to shared debts for the first time in a profound change of policy, agreeing to explore proposals for a €2.3 trillion (£1.9 trillion) stabilization fund in order to stop the eurozone's crisis escalating out of control.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
Officials in Berlin say privately that Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to drop her vehement opposition to plans for a "European Redemption Pact", a "sinking fund" that would pay down excess sovereign debt in the eurozone.
"It is conceivable so long as there is proper supervision of tax revenues," said a source in the Chancellor's office. The official warned that there would be no "master plan" or major break-through at the EU summit later this month.
Central Bank Money-Printing: $6 Trillion...and Counting
Reuters - CNBC.com
Many more years of money printing from the world's big four central banks now looks destined to add to the $6 trillion already created since 2008 and may transform the relationship between the once fiercely-independent banks and governments.
As rich economies sink deeper into a slough of debt after yet another wave of euro financial and banking stress and U.S. hiring hesitancy, everyone is looking back to the U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England and Bank of Japan to stabilize the situation once more.
Dollar Remains Lower Against Euro Before U.S. CPI Data
By Masaki Kondo and Monami Yui - Bloomberg.com
The dollar remained lower against the euro following a two-day slide before U.S. data that may show consumer prices fell, rekindling expectations the Federal Reserve will take more steps to bolster the economic recovery.
The euro maintained a rally from an 11-year low versus the yen amid speculation traders are paring their bearish bets on the European currency before Greek elections on June 17. The Fed is scheduled to hold a two-day policy meeting starting June 19. New Zealand's dollar strengthened against all of its 16 major counterparts after the central bank left the benchmark interest rate unchanged.
J.P. Morgan's Dimon in congressional cross-hairs
Democrats, Republicans at odds over bank capital
as key to limit crises
By Ronald D. Orol, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon on Wednesday defended the U.S. banking sector and the big bank's risk management team, responding to a much-anticipated and sometimes heated interrogation from lawmakers over a $2 billion-plus derivatives trading loss at the financial institution's U.K. trading unit.
Dimon also was optimistic about the U.S. banking sector, responding to concerns raised by Democrats that another less well capitalized institution might conduct the same risky trades and have a collateral impact on a more fragile economic system.
Jamie Dimon blames JP Morgan losses
on top executives in Senate testimony
Appearing before banking committee, JP Morgan boss is critical of legislation that would curb some types of hedging in US
By Dominic Rushe - Guardian.co.uk
JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon blamed the bank's $2bn-plus trading losses on "poorly conceived" strategies of senior executives who failed to keep him informed, as he escaped largely unscathed Wednesday from a Senate banking committee hearing set up to investigate the affair.
While Dimon told the committee that while he was ultimately responsible for the fiasco, he said he was not made fully aware of a strategy in London that was "poorly conceived and vetted" and that "violates common sense".
Dimon can't hide disdain for questions
J.P. Morgan chief squirms in committee hearing
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Jamie Dimon is disgusted with us idiots who don't understand banking.
Seriously, what other conclusion could one come to after watching Dimon, chief executive and chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., joust with members of the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday?
Dimon, called to account for a $2 billion or more trading loss suffered in the second quarter, was visibly irritated when asked about the bank's chain of command as well as its risk controls, not to mention whether new regulation would have prevented what's come to be known as the "London whale" trade.
JPMorgan's Chief Says Clawback Efforts Are 'Likely'
BY BEN PROTESS - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — JPMorgan Chase is "likely" to try to recover compensation from executives responsible for a recent multibillion-dollar trading blowup, according to Jamie Dimon, the bank's chief executive.
In testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Dimon assured lawmakers that the bank's board was investigating the trading losses at the chief investment office. Once the investigation is complete, he said, the bank will decide whose paychecks to pursue.
"When the board finishes the review, you can expect we'll take proper corrective action," the executive told a packed hearing room, shortly after a parade of protesters jeered the chief executive. "There's likely to be clawbacks."
Dimon Says Overconfidence Fueled Loss He Can't Defend
By Dawn Kopecki, Clea Benson and Phil Mattingly - Bloomberg.com
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said overconfidence in trusted managers allowed traders to accumulate more than $2 billion in losses through a strategy that "violated common sense."
Risk-monitoring systems and executives at the largest U.S. bank failed to adequately police threats concentrated in a derivatives portfolio at a London unit of the chief investment office, he said. The division wasn't subjected to the same scrutiny as other businesses, and managers there deviated from control procedures, even after triggers on risk limits were breached, Dimon told the Senate Banking Committee yesterday.
Dimon Gives Regulators New Ammunition
For Tougher Volcker Rule
By Steven Sloan and Silla Brush - Bloomberg.com
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon conceded a key point when pressed by lawmakers about a proposed ban on proprietary trading at banks: Had the rule been in place, it may have prevented the firm's recent $2 billion loss.
The ban "may very well have stopped parts of what this portfolio morphed into," Dimon said yesterday in testimony to the Senate Banking Committee.
Dimon's comments provided new ammunition to lawmakers and regulators emboldened by JPMorgan's mistakes who argue that a stricter ban on banks using their own money to make trades is needed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The ban, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, was named for Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman who championed the measure.
Senators Fawn Over JPMorgan CEO
After Massive Trading Debacle
By BRIAN BEUTLER - TalkingPointsMemo.com
The long-shot big hope for Wall Street reformers Wednesday was that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon would trip up before the Senate Banking Committee and expose the need for tighter rules governing big banks. His firm, after all, recently lost billions making risky bets with depositor funds on the line.
Instead, with some notable exceptions, the senators themselves turned the cross-examination into a coronation, and exposed the extent to which elected officials still feel compelled to genuflect to powerful financial interests.
I THOUGHT OBAMACARE
WAS GOING TO REDUCE HEALTHCARE COSTS
By James Quinn - TheBurningPlatform.com
Remember when Obama told us with a straight face that his government healthcare solution would add 30 million people to the health insurance rolls, cover dependents until they were 26 years old and stop insurance companies from denying someone insurance for pre-existing conditions and not result in an increase in healthcare costs? OOPS!!!! It seems he may have been off by a trillion or three. Close enough for a lying politician. Since Barack forced my employer to expand dependent coverage to 26 year olds and cover pre-existing conditions for new employees, I've seen my premiums go up and my co-pay go from $15 to $25. I'm still waiting for that windfall raise from the 3,000% decrease in insurance premiums for my employer. How long do you think I'll need to wait?
"How many people are getting insurance through their jobs right now? Raise your hands. All right. Well, a lot of those folks, your employer it's estimated would see premiums fall by as much as 3,000 percent, which means they could give you a raise." — Barack Obama
Supreme Court ruling on healthcare law
could bring trouble for Republicans
By Sam Baker- TheHill.com
The Supreme Court's landmark healthcare ruling will pose a big test for Republicans, even if the court strikes down all or part of President Obama's healthcare law.
So far, the party has not come together around a set of policies to replace the healthcare law if it's struck down entirely. Republicans also haven't said how they would handle policies that are already in place, including discounts on prescription drugs for many seniors.
The Most Important Challenge For Colleges
Isn't Price—It's Attention
As universities look for ways to teach more students at a reasonable price, they will move online -- into the clicky, crowded, distractable world of the Web. Get ready for Infotainment U.
By Kara Miller - TheAtlantic.com
This is one of my favorite anecdotes: Last year, the University of Phoenix enlisted renowned Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen to record a lecture. The university reserved a harbor-view room for Christensen and populated it with young people, so that the camera operators could record their reactions.
Before he began to speak, Christensen noticed that the audience appeared unusually engaged and attractive.
"What school do you guys go to?" he asked.
"We're not students," a young man told him. "We're models."
When Christensen told me this story, I laughed. But the University of Phoenix is serious -- and smart. Putting a Harvard professor in front of a lecture hall filled with models is an acknowledgment that, in a Web-recorded lecture, appearance counts -- even the few seconds of cutaways to reactions from gorgeous, engaged "students."
Retail Sales In U.S. Declined For A Second Month In May
By Shobhana Chandra - Bloomberg.com
Retail sales in the U.S. fell in May for a second month, prompting economists to cut forecasts for economic growth as limited job and income gains hold back consumers.
The 0.2 percent decrease matched April's drop that was previously reported as a gain, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Sales excluding car dealershipsslumped by the most in two years.
The smallest wage gains in a year and unemployment exceeding 8 percent are taking a toll on the consumer spendingthat accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, leaving it more vulnerable to shocks from the European crisis. Federal Reserve policy makers gather next week to decide whether further stimulus is needed to fuel the three-year-old expansion.
Oil price could plunge to $50, says Credit Suisse
The oil price could almost halve later this year if the crisis in the eurozone escalates, Credit Suisse believes.
By Garry White - Telegraph.co.uk
"Brent oil prices would again hit $50 (£32) a barrel" in a worst-case scenario, according to analysts Jan Stuart and Stefan Revielle. "Oil demand would deflate sharply following acute crises of confidence."
The analysts said that all potential negative scenarios involved Europe "to some degree" with the starting point of collapse coming over the summer. However, Brent crude rose $1.06 to $98.20 yesterday after the US Energy Department said the country's stockpiles had seen a surprise fall of 191,000 barrels to 384.4m barrels last week.
Exposed: Planned Parenthood Sells
Tax-Funded Sex-Selection Abortions
by Steven Ertelt - LifeNews.com
Two new expose' videos reveal the Hawaii-based Planned Parenthood abortion business selling taxpayer-funded abortions to women posing as potential customers seeking an abortion for purposes of sex-selection.
Live Action released new undercover footage today showing two Planned Parenthood clinics, in Maui and Honolulu, advising undercover investigators on how to procure a sex-selective abortion of her baby girl because she wants a boy instead. Officials with the group say Planned Parenthood claims publicly to condemn sex-selective abortion but continues to provide them to women who request them.
Michigan lawmakers approve key parts
of hardline anti-abortion law package
Backers of law that will now move to state's Senate are accused of rushing the process forward without adequate hearings
By Paul Harris - Guardian.co.uk
Michigan lawmakers have voted in favour of key parts of anti-abortionlaws that pro-choice campaigners claim could shut down most abortion clinics in the state.
The state's House of Representatives voted by 70 to 39 in favour of the main new piece of proposed legislation on Wednesday, with two more bills still awaiting votes. The law is now set to move to the state's Senate in September and is likely to put Michigan are the forefront of America's battle over abortion rights.
AFL-CIO Pulling Funds From Obama Campaign
By ELIZABETH FLOCK - USNews.com
The AFL-CIO has told Washington Whispers it will redeploy funds away from political candidates smack dab in the middle of electionseason, the latest sign that the largest federation of unions in the country could be becoming increasingly disillusioned with President Obama.
The federation says the shift has been in the works for months, and had nothing to do with the president's failure to show in Wisconsin last week, where labor unions led a failed recall electionof Governor Scott Walker.
Oklahoma Rancher In Russia Threatens U.S. Beef Exports
By Ilya Khrennikov and Marina Sysoyeva - Bloomberg.com
Anthony Stidham, a 48-year-old third-generation rancher from Oklahoma, is at the forefront of President Vladimir Putin's plan to cut Russia's $3 billion annual bill as the world's biggest beef importer.
At the country's largest beef farm about 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Moscow, Stidham is passing on cattle- rearing skills to locals in a drive toward self-sufficiency that's already involved shipping in about 60,000 Aberdeen Angus cattle from the U.S. and Australia.
Arizona prepares to enforce strict immigration law
By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times
Arizona is already gearing up to enforce its strict immigration law as it anticipates a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court sometime this month, with Gov. Jan Brewer issuing an executive order this week telling police to bone up on the details of the law.
Mrs. Brewer ordered that training materials produced to help police understand the law and its limits should be distributed throughout the state in preparation for a ruling.
Sen. Paul proposes bill
protecting Americans from drone surveillance
By Pete Kasperowicz - TheHill.com
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday introduced the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, which would require the government to get a warrant before using aerial drones to surveil U.S. citizens.
More broadly, Paul's bill is aimed at preventing "unwarranted governmental intrusion" through the use of drones, according to the lawmaker.
"Like other tools used to collect information in law enforcement, in order to use drones a warrant needs to be issued," Paul said Tuesday. "Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics."
USDA Wants RFID Tracking Technology
To Be Mandatory In US Food Stamp Program
(NTEB) "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (Revelation 13:16-17)
In a little while, the above scene in Revelation 13 will become a global reality. People can no longer buy or sell without the mark of the beast. And sometimes that would mean no longer being able to eat!
The USDA is now considering biometric identification for all individuals who will want to benefit from their Food and Nutrition Services. The RFID chip may just soon be a must for everyone who does not want to starve!
Wrongheaded in Rio
By Bjørn Lomborg - Project-Syndicate.org
COPENHAGEN – Tens of thousands of people will soon gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Earth Summit. The participants, ranging from weary politicians to enthusiastic campaigners, are supposed to reignite global concern for the environment. Unfortunately, the summit is likely to be a wasted opportunity.
The UN is showcasing the alluring promise of a "green economy," focused on tackling global warming. In fact, the summit is striking at the wrong target, neglecting the much greater environmental concerns of the vast majority of the world.
Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat. Even if we assumed – unreasonably – that it caused all deaths from floods, droughts, heat waves, and storms, this total would amount to just 0.06% of all deaths in developing countries. In comparison, 13% of all Third World deaths result from water and air pollution.
UN to consider $1,300 green tax on US
by Joel Gehrke - WashingtonExaminer.com
Diplomats at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Conference in Rio de Janeiro next week will consider proposals that would levy taxes on American families and energy industries in order to support international efforts to combat global warming, according to a draft agenda for the conference.
"We recognize that subsidies for non-renewable energy development should be eliminated and replaced with a global tax on the production of energy from non-renewable energy sources," the UN draft agenda, amended by non-governmental organizations at the invitation of the UN, says. "The income of this tax should be allocated to renewable energy development." The draft agenda was obtained by the Center for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a group skeptical of the UN's position on global warming.
White House Debuts Ambitious Plan
To Remake The Web Using Broadband
CARL FRANZEN - TalkingPointsMemo.com
President Obama will sign an executive order on Thursday designed to lower the costs and speed up the installation of broadband networks on and through federal property, the White House announced in a statement.
But that's just the beginning of what the White House has in mind for the future of the Internet in this country. Another part of the plan, a massive public-private partnership called "US Ignite," seeks to reprogram the very Web itself for an era of near-ubiquitous, high-speed broadband connectivity.
Hackers claim to steal 110,000 SSNs from Tenn. school system
Close to 9,000 SSNs belonging to students,
employees publicly posted
By Jaikumar Vijayan - ComputerWorld.com
Computerworld - A hitherto unknown hacking group claimed responsibility for a hacking attack on a county school system in Tennessee that may have exposed the names, Social Security numbers and other personal data belonging to about 110,000 people.
The group, which called itself Spex Security, later posted 14,500 of the compromised records online and has threatened to post more. Those affected by the breach include an unknown number of former and current students and employees of the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS).
Consumer groups applaud DOJ probe of cable companies
By Brendan Sasso - TheHill.com
The Lead: Consumer groups applauded news on Wednesday that the Justice Department's Antitrust Division is investigating whether cable companies are illegally stifling competition from online video services.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the investigation, reporting that federal officials have questioned cable companies including Comcast and Time Warner, as well as Internet video providers such as Netflix and Hulu.
Cable companies provide both television and broadband Internet service for many customers. High-speed Internet has enabled consumers to watch videos and shows online, instead of on their television. The question is whether the cable companies have illegally used their control over Internet access to prevent people from dumping their television service in favor of online video.
F-22 Pilots Told To Stop Wearing Pressure Vest Routinely
By David Lerman and Tony Capaccio - Bloomberg.com
The U.S. Air Force has instructed pilots of the F-22 Raptor to stop wearing a pressure vest during routine flights as the service continues to investigate oxygen- deprivation incidents on the Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) fighter jet.
"Recent testing has identified some vulnerability and reliability issues in the upper pressure garment worn by F-22 pilots," Lieutenant Colonel Edward Sholtis, a spokesman for the Air Combat Command, said today in an e-mailed statement. He said the Air Force is working to correct the problem.
Asia's Next Axis
By Yoon Young-kwan - Project-Syndicate.org
SEOUL – Last month, the leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea agreed to begin negotiations later this year on a trilateral free-trade agreement. If the talks succeed, the global trade map will need to be redrawn. An FTA that encompasses, respectively, the world's second, third, and 12th biggest economies (in purchasing power parity terms in 2011), with a population of 1.5 billion, would dwarf the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement, comprising the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Indeed, Northeast Asia would become the third major axis of regional economic integration, following the EU and NAFTA. Until now, the region has been unable to institutionalize economic cooperation as vigorously as Europe and North America have. But if the proposals discussed in Beijing last month are realized, the resulting FTA could surpass NAFTA in its degree of integration and importance to the world economy.
Clinton warns Russia over Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary RodhamClinton on Wednesday warned Russia that it will sacrifice its interests in Syriaunless it acts constructively now.
Speaking to reporters a day after accusing Moscow of sending attack helicopters to Syria, Mrs. Clinton questioned Russia's claim that it wants peace and stability restored in the Arab country and that it is not attached to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
She said Russia is putting its "vital interests in the region and relationships" at risk by blocking international action on a transition plan.
Russia defends arms sales to Syria
By Courtney Weaver and Charles Clover in Moscow
and Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut - FT.com
Moscow forcefully rejected on Wednesday Hillary Clinton's accusation that Russia was supplying Syria with helicopter gunships that could be used against civilians, as Syria announced it had "cleansed" the rebel town of Haffa of armed fighters.
Speaking in Tehran, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said Moscow was instead "completing contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago. All of them are contracts for what are solely air defence systems."
Ex-Mossad Chief: Israeli Attack Would Help Iran Go Nuclear
Meir Dagan says Bibi and Barak are serious
about attacking the Islamic Republic.
By Jeffrey Goldberg - TheAtlantic.com
Gen. Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, spoke out last week against ex-military and intelligence officials who are expressing doubts about the efficacy of a preemptive Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear project.
Gantz, testifying in the Knesset, said, "There is a lot of chatter and conversation regarding Iran. Very few people know what is real and what is not, or what can be and what cannot be." Gantz named no names, but his targets were quite obviously three men: his predecessor as chief of staff, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi; the former head of the Shabak, Israel's internal security service, Yuval Diskin; and Meir Dagan, the recently retired chief of the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service.
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