Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
Japan's new inflation target fuels
currency war debate at Davos
AFP - TheAustralian.com.au
JAPAN'S controversial new economic policy emerged as one of the hot topics at this year's Davos forum, with talk of currency wars and strong rebuttals from Japanese officials.
The new government in Tokyo, led by Shinzo Abe, has pushed the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to step up efforts to battle nearly two decades of deflation and sluggish growth in the world's third-largest economy.
Japan's Currency War. Militarization and Monetary Policy
By Peter Symonds - GlobalResearch.ca
Japan's new Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has begun implementing an aggressive nationalist program on two fronts. An expansion of the military unshackled from constitutional restraints is being matched by a unilateralist monetary policy aimed at weakening the yen and expanding exports at the expense of Japan's rivals.
Under intense pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced on Tuesday that it would expand its inflation target from 1 to 2 percent "at the earliest possible time" through an open-ended purchase of bonds and other assets—a policy in line with the US Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing."
Currency Wars Heating Up As Taiwan,
Korea And China Fire Warning Shots
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
While the overnight session has been relatively quiet, the overarching theme has been a simple one: currency warfare, as more of the world wakes up to what the BOJ is doing and doesn't like it. The latest entrants in global warfare: Taiwan, whose central bank overnight said it would step in the FX market if needed, then Thailand, whose currency was weakened on market adjustment according to Prasarn, and of course South Korea, where the BOK said that global currency war spreads protectionism. Last but not least was China which brought out the big guns after the PBOC deputy governor Yi Gang "warned on currency wars." To wit: "Quantitative easing for developed economies is generating some uncertainties in financial markets in terms of capital flows," Yi, who is also head of China's foreign-exchange regulator, told reporters. "Competitive devaluation is one aspect of it. If everyone is doing super QE, which currency will depreciate?" "A currency war, a series of tit-for-tat competitive devaluations, would trigger trade protection measures that would damage global trade and therefore growth globally," said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in Hong Kong, who previously worked for the World Bank. "That would not be good for any country with a stake in the global economy." Which brings us to the fundamental question - if everyone eases, has anyone eased? And is there such a thing as a free lunch when central banks simply finance global deficits while eating their soaring stock market cake too? The answer, of course, is no, but we will cross that bridge soon enough.
Jim Rickards on Currency Wars,
Real Wars and Gold Wars (11/17/11)
In this Capital Account with Lauren Lyster...A report from US Congress says the Chinese renminbi could threaten the dominance of the US dollar within a decade. We've seen tough talk between the countries on currency before, including now, but are we already in the throes of a currency war? We talk to James G. Rickards, author of Currency Wars, who sure thinks so. Meanwhile, US President Obama calls the Asia-Pacific region a top priority of US security policy. And the US is stationing troops in Australia reportedly to counter China's expanding influence. But could the next war be waged not with boots on the ground, or drones for that matter, but with financial weapons: stocks, bonds, and derivatives? Also, one clothing company thinks they have a better solution for US-China relations. It involves world leaders making love, not war.
Policymaker's Guide To Playing The Global Currency Wars
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
G4+CHF can fight the currency wars longer and more aggressively than small G10 and EM countries can. However, as Citi's Steven Englander notes, it also takes a lot of depreciation to crowd in a meaningful amount of net exports. His bottom line, GBP, CHF and JPY have a lot further to depreciate. In principle, the USD can easily fall into this category as well, but right now the USD debate is focused on Fed policy – were it to become clear that balance sheet expansion will end well beyond end-2013, the USD would fall into the category of currency war 'winners' as well. Critically, though, the reality of currency wars is thatpolicymakers do not use FX as cyclical stimulus because of its effectiveness; they use it because they have hit a wall with respect to the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies, and are unwilling to bite the structural policy bullet. The following seven points will be on every policymakers' mind - or should be.
Rumbles in the Bond Market Rattling Gold
BY CHRIS PUPLAVA - FinancialSense.com
Last July the 10-Yr UST yield fell to an all-time low of 1.379%. Since that time yields have been steadily rising with the 10-Yr yield hitting 1.947%. The rise in interest rates has been greater than the rise in inflation rates which may be hurting gold since it is highly influenced by real interest rates (nominal rates less inflation). The 10-Yr UST yield is at a key level and a further rise in yields may continue to weigh on gold ahead.
The Fed's Big Secret - Quantitative Easing Isn't Free
By Mark Sunshine - SeekingAlpha.com
The Fed is gearing itself up for a classic I Love Lucy moment. When the economy recovers, interest rates rise and Congress figures out that the Federal Reserve System is the biggest financial black hole in the history of mankind, there's going to be a lot of explaining to do.
Bernanke hasn't told anyone quantitative easing's big secret; it isn't free. There's a cost to the Fed's policy and the bill will be past due when the economy recovers and interest rates rise. The tab may be big enough to blow the Federal budget and plunge Washington into a new fiscal and political crisis. And, there won't be many policy choices. The Fed cannot be allowed to fail. Like it or not, it carries the full faith and credit of the United States of America.
Why Deleveraging Still Rules Markets in 2013
By A. Gary Shilling - Bloomberg.com
I have structured my investment themes for 2013 in two ways. The first is geared toward the current "risk on" climate, even though I doubt it will endure. The other is a "risk off" scenario that I believe will unfold once investors recognize the unsustainability of what I call the Grand Disconnect between robust securities markets and subdued economic reality.
The investment scene in the U.S. and elsewhere is dominated by a number of forces: the deleveraging of private economic sectors and financial institutions; the monetary and fiscal responses to the resulting slow growth and financial risks; competitive devaluations; the fixation of investors on monetary ease that obscures weak real economic activity; and central bank-engineered low interest rates that have spawned more distortions and investor zeal for yield, regardless of risk.
Federal Reserve Money Printing
Is The Real Reason Why The Stock Market Is Soaring
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
You can thank the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing for the incredible bull market that we have seen in recent months. When the Federal Reserve does more "quantitative easing", it is the financial markets that benefit the most. The Dow and the S&P 500 have both hit levels not seen since 2007 this month, and many analysts are projecting that 2013 will be a banner year for stocks. But is a rising stock market really a sign that the overall economy is rapidly improving as many are suggesting? Of course not. Just because the Federal Reserve has inflated another false stock market bubble with a bunch of funny money does not mean that the U.S. economy is in great shape. In fact, the truth is that things just keep getting worse for average Americans.
Treasury Gets a Citibanker From Wall Street failure
to the pinnacle of finance in four short years.
Opinion - WSJ.com
There was a time when you had to be successful on Wall Street to become secretary of the Treasury. Now along comes presidential nominee Jack Lew, whose only business credential is a stint at the most troubled too-big-to-fail bank.
During the darkest days of the financial crisis Mr. Lew served as the chief operating officer of Citigroup's Alternative Investments unit (CAI). When Mr. Lew took this job in January 2008, the unit was already infamous for overseeing "structured investment vehicles" that hid mortgage risks outside Citi's balance sheet. It also housed internal hedge funds that were in the process of imploding.
Report: Bailed-out executives
still enjoy hefty compensation from taxpayers
By Peter Schroeder - TheHill.com
A government watchdog is blasting the Treasury Department for continuing to dole out robust pay packages to executives of bailed-out companies.
A new report found that executives from American International Group (AIG), General Motors, and Ally Financial, while still on a government lifeline, regularly pushed and received compensation in excess of guidelines originally set by the bailout team charged with overseeing executive paychecks.
The perfect storm is heading toward the debt market Sverre Rørvik Nilsen is a financial consultant based in Oslo, Norway. A former financial journalist, he works with companies to find trading solutions.
By Sverre Rørvik Nilsen — Quartz
In the markets, it's starting to look like the 100-year wave is just over the horizon and I'm left with a sensation that the question is not "if" it is coming but "when."
For the past couple of years something big has changed in the markets, leaving many market participants feeling like up is down and down up. All of a sudden the bond market is starting to behave more like the stock market, at least in the eyes of the investor. It's like that moment in the movie The Perfect Storm when Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney decide to weather the storm and the conditions for fishing are almost eerily good. Just like the many oh-so-good years in the bond markets—with some funds having returns well over 100%.
Tripling in Debt to $1.7 Trillion Drags on Economy
By Bloomberg News
Chinese companies are spending more than ever to service debt after their borrowing almost tripled over five years, prompting strategists to warn of rising default risk and a threat to economic growth.
Total short- and long-term borrowing by 3,895 publicly traded non-financial companies rose to almost $1.7 trillion in their latest filings, from $604 billion at the end of 2007, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Financing costs, including interest, on all forms of debt climbed to the highest level as a percentage of gross domestic product last year, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
Bank of America makes derivatives switch from Dublin to London Bank of America can now benefit from carrying Merrill Lynch's losses forward, a move that could reduce its tax bill
By Jill Treanor - Guardian.co.uk
Bank of America is routing billions of pounds of complex financial transactions through London rather than Dublin in a move that could reduce the bank's tax bill.
The bank bought Merrill Lynch in the days after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, by which it time had emerged that Merrill had booked £13bn of losses on investments that turned toxic during the UK credit crunch.
US Facing Fresh Financial Shock to Economy
By: Robin Harding Washington, FT via CNBC.com
The $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that Barack Obama once promised to avert are looking increasingly likely to occur because of entrenched politics in Washington, threatening a shock to confidence in the US economy.
Economists have long assumed that the so-called sequester - a budgetary mechanism passed in 2011 that takes effect on March 1 and slashes the Pentagon's budget by $600bn over 10 years while cutting discretionary spending for government programmes by another $600bn - would be replaced or reversed by Congress.
Bank of America issues `bond crash'
alert on Fed tightening fears The return of confidence and healthy growth in the US risks setting off a "bond crash" comparable to 1994 and triggering a string of upsets across the world, Bank of America has warned.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
The US lender said investors face a treacherous moment as central banks start fretting about inflation and shift gears, threatening a surge in bond yields.
This happened in 1994 under Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan when yields on US 30-year Treasuries jumped 240 basis points over a nine-month span, setting off a "savage reversal of fortune in leveraged areas of fixed income markets".
Is America In Decline May Be Wrong Question
By Robert Samuelson - RealCleaMarkets.com
The American Century is dead. Long live the next American Century.
The subtext of political debate these days is that the United States is in decline - a proposition often portrayed as self-evident. The economy lacks dynamism; unemployment near 8 percent remains at recession levels. The president and his Republican critics barely talk to each other; stalemate seems unending. But what if America isn't in decline? A powerful rebuttal comes from an unlikely place: Wall Street.
Krauthammer: We have 'a Statue of Liberty —
it's not a Statue of Equality'
By Jeff Poor - DailyCaller.com
Over the weekend, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer spoke at the National Review Institute Summit in Washington, D.C. During a question-and-answer session, he was asked if he thought President Barack Obama would attempt to hand-pick his successor in order to help guide the country down a path to "socialism."
Krauthammer began his response by advising against using that term.
"I would just caution you about using the word, 'socialism,'" Krauthammer said. "The reason is it is too broad a term. It encompasses all kinds of socialism, including the nasty totalitarian examples — the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, Cuba, Korea."
Santelli And Biderman Slam The Market's Four Faltering Fallacies
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
There are numerous myths flying around the screens we all remain glued to - from inflows suddenly becoming correlated with equity market performance to a 'real recovery' in housing. TrimTabs CEO Charles Biderman paid a brief but fact-full visit to CNBC's Rick Santelli and the two somewhat skeptical gentlemen expounded on four of the critical fallacies supporting hope in our markets currently. First, the last timeinflows were this big we saw dramatic reversals in stocks; and coincidentally, secondly, we also sawcompanies buying back less stock (in fact we saw float rising at those periods) and sure enough that is what Biderman notes is happening in January too. Third, current 'economic' euphoria appears due to thedrag forward of incomes into Q4 2012 due to tax concerns (which is being spent/saved now) - however that means Q1 2013 and on will be negatively impacted (even if we see a decent print in Q4 GDP) as that pull-forward reverts; and finally, fourth, interest rates are rising and simultaneously refinances have plunged - hurting the 'housing recovery' meme which has been the driver of a lot of euphoria (be careful what you wish for). It appears facts, once again, get in the way of a good story.
By Vincent Cate - SeekingAlpha.com
It is difficult to say exactly when hyperinflation will hit a currency. However, I am convinced that the danger level is so high for most fiat money that it is worthwhile for everyone to increase their understanding of hyperinflation. This is the first part of a Hyperinflation FAQ for frequently asked questions or objections about hyperinflation. The statements or questions below are in bold and my responses follow.
How is hyperinflation defined?
The International Accounting Standard of IAS 29 says there is hyperinflation when "the cumulative inflation rate over three years approaches, or exceeds, 100%."This works out to 26% per year. There are many other definitions for hyperinflation but they almost all have something like "inflation over X per year" or "inflation over Y per month". People pick some level of price inflation as the cutoff between regular inflation and hyperinflation. It is just the values for X or Y that differ. Note that hyperinflation is not defined in terms of the money supply alone, since the velocity of money and GNP are also key factors in the price level during hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is a process, apositive feedback loop, that once entered is very hard to get out of. This process can go on for years.
EXCLUSIVE - RAND PAUL:
OBAMA WOULD PREFER 'A DIFFERENT TYPE OF CONSTITUTION'
Senator Rand Paul to Breitbart News's Ben Shapiro: "I think the President understands the Constitution enough to know that he would prefer a different type of constitution. [Supreme Court Justice] Ginsberg said she admired the South African Constitution. So, I think that's more of where the President is coming from. They would rather have positive rights, enumerated, that everyone has the right to water, housing, haircuts, you name it."
California Defeats Lawsuit Against Cap-and-Trade Program
By Karen Gullo & Lynn Doan - Bloomberg.com
California environmental regulators running the nation's first economy-wide carbon cap-and-trade program defeated a lawsuit that claims the system contains a loophole so companies can avoid reducing carbon emissions.
State court Judge Ernest Goldsmith in San Francisco rejected claims by two environmental groups challenging the way the program allows polluters to buy greenhouse gas emission credits from entities that aren't part of the program.
Chart Of The Day: Is The ECB Responsible
For The Second Coming Of BitCoin?
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
That precious metals are not the best friends of central banks, whose sole provenance is in creating, and lately massively diluting, faith-based fiat currency is no secret, especially not after the recent snafu involving the Bundesbank and its shocking gold repatriation announcement which came in direct refutation of its public statements just 2 months earlier about faith in the NY Fed this, and bashing of a "phantom debate" on the safety of gold reserves that. Yet it was not gold gold, silver or even tungsten that was the object of derision in an amusing paper released by the ECB in early November titled "Virtual Currency Schemes", which we profiled at the time, but rather the decentralized electronic currency BitCoin, which was supposed to highlight what, in the eyes of the Draghi-led Frankfurt institutions, is nothing but a Ponzi scheme.
Labor Minister Says France Is "Totally Bankrupt"
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
Things in France must not be very serious, because the French labor minister accidentally let the truth come out a little earlier today. As the Telegraph reports, France's labour minister sent the country into a state of shock on Monday after he described the nation as "totally bankrupt."
Remember: France is one of the supposedly stable countries in Europe.
"Michel Sapin made the gaffe in a radio interview, which left French President Francois Hollande battling to undo the potential reputational damage. "There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state," Mr Sapin said. "That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective." It appears that once one wipes out the propaganda and the smooth politico talk, things are bad and getting worse at Europe's core. "Data from Banque de France showed earlier this month that a flight of capital has already left the country amid concerns that France's Socialist leader intends to soak the rich and businesses. The actor Gérard Depardieu has renounced his French citizenship and decamped to Russia in protest, while David Cameron said Britain will "roll out the red carpet" to attract wealthy individuals. Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister, said the comments by Mr Sapin were "inappropriate"."
Dimon in Davos Won't Worry About Whales
By William D. Cohan - Blooomberg.com
If you are a Wall Street honcho and you decided not to cancel your trip to Davos, Switzerland, this year, you must be feeling pretty good about things.
Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), was at theWorld Economic Forum for the first time since 2008, newly bearded and fresh from a year in which the firm made $7.5 billion in net income and regained its swagger as the potentate of Wall Street. Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America Corp., was back and could hold his head a bit higher: BofA's stock was up close to 60 percent in a year as Moynihan has slowly begun to put behind him the bank's errors leading up to and during the financial crisis.
Who wants to be a 'death panelist'? Welcome to Health Reform Watch, Sarah Kliff's regular look at how the Affordable Care Act is changing the American health-care system — and being changed by it.
by Sarah Kliff - WashingtonPost.com
Jonathan Gruber was one of the Obama administration's key advisers during the health-care reform debate. As the economist who conceived the ideas at the heart of the Massachusetts health-care law, he is arguably the intellectual godfather of the Affordable Care Act.
All of which would make him a natural fit for the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the new, 15-member panel that has the authority to reduce Medicare doctors' reimbursements and pilot new ways to deliver high quality care for less. There's just one tiny problem: Gruber has absolutely no interest in serving on the panel. "No way," he says without pause. "Maybe if it was a part-time gig. But full time? I can't see it."
Don't Have Health Insurance?
Start Your Own Insurance Company! How Sara Horowitz created affordable health care benefits for freelancers.
By Seth Stevenson - Slate.com
Sara Horowitz was born into a proud union family. Her father worked as a labor lawyer, her grandfather as a vice president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. So it felt like kismet when, on the first day of a new law firm job, Horowitz discovered that she and several other recent hires had been classified as independent contractors. "We weren't given retirement or health insurance benefits. We called ourselves 'the transient workers union,' and I was made president. We joked about it, but for me it was a significant aha! moment. I started realizing there was this whole new way that workers were being treated."
Louisiana forces milk prices higher State regulators crack down
on grocery chain for selling cheap milk
By Michael Bastasch - DailyCaller.com
Louisiana state regulators recently cracked down on a supermarket chain's weekly promotional deal because it was selling milk too cheaply — which violates state law.
The upscale Fresh Market was selling gallons of milk for $2.99 as part of a weekly promotional deal. Louisiana requires that retailer price markups be at least six percent above the invoice and shipping costs of the product.
Boy Scouts may allow local troops to set policy on gays
By Cheryl Wetzstein-The Washington Times
Gay-rights groups were elated Monday after the Boy Scouts of America announced that it was considering dropping its long-standing national policy of disallowing open homosexuals from participating in its activities, but traditional-family groups were quick to condemn the shift.
If adopted next week, the change would permit local BSA organizations to decide "how to address this issue" at their level.
Fannie Adds Bailout For Underwater Walkaways: Mortgages
By Kathleen M. Howley
Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac will let some borrowers who kept up payments as their homes lost value erase their debts by giving up the properties, helping Americans escape underwater loans while adding to losses at the mortgage giants bailed out with $190 billion of taxpayer money.
Non-delinquent borrowers with illness, job changes or other reasons they need to move will become eligible in March to apply for a so-called deed-in-lieu transaction that erases the shortfall between a property's value and the size of its mortgage. It follows a change in November that lets on-time borrowers sell properties for less than they owe, known as short sales, wiping out the remaining mortgage debt. Normally, the lenders could pursue people to recoup their losses.
Pending Home Sales Fall Due to Dwindling Supply
By: Diana Olick - CNBC.com
Signed contracts to buy existing homes fell 4.3 percent in December from the previous month, according to a monthly index from the National Association of Realtors. That missed analysts' expectations of a one percent gain. The index is 6.9 percent higher than December of 2011. Realtors say it is not lack of demand but supply at the end of 2012 that pushed the numbers down.
"Buyer interest remains solid, as evidenced by a separate Realtor survey which shows that buyer foot traffic is easily outpacing seller traffic," wrote Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR in a release.
U.S. to Bury its 70,000 Tonnes of Nuclear Waste
By Joao Peixe - OilPrice.com
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has released a recent study which has determined that if and when the US ever decides to actually pursue the technology to recycle nuclear waste, it will take 20 years to develop. Based on this knowledge they have suggested that the current stockpile of spent nuclear fuel should be buried without any thought as to its retrieval in the future.
Officials from Oak Ridge involved in the report said that, "based on the technical assessment, about 68,450 metric tons or about 98 percent of the total current inventory by mass, can proceed to permanent disposal without the need to ensure retrievability for reuse or research purposes." The remaining two percent will be used for research into recycling and storage technologies.
22 Signs That Barack Obama Is Transforming America
Into A Larger Version Of North Korea
By Michael Snyder - EndOfTheAmericanDream.com
If there is one country in the world that you would not want to live in, it would be North Korea. Unfortunately, the United States of America is becoming more like North Korea with each passing day. North Korea is a totalitarian police state hellhole where the state rules supreme, the "leader" is lavishly worshipped, no dissent is tolerated, and the government micromanages everything. America is supposed to be the opposite of that, but now Barack Obama is implementing his version of "change" and he has promised to engage in the "remaking" of this nation and to transform it "brick by brick". A tremendous "cult of personality" has been built up around Obama, and under his leadership the U.S. government has become larger and more repressive than ever before. But do we really want to "change" America so that it more closely resembles totalitarian regimes such as North Korea, communist China, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany? After all, all of those regimes have a nightmarish history of brutality and death. Even today, there are starving North Koreans that are eating their own children. Is that really where we want to end up as a nation?
Gun background checks surged in last 6 weeks
By Emily Jane Fox - CNN.com
Gun sales soared at the end of last year, and the trend has continued into 2013.
Since 1998, eight of the 10 highest days for gun background checks have taken place since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, according to the FBI.
Background checks are the most reliable way to track the number of gun sales, and data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System show that over the last 6 weeks, these checks have reached their highest levels in fifteen years.
Gun Control: A Failed American Experiment
By Timothy Birdnow - AmericanThinker.com
The United States has had gun control from its founding. And the results have been dreadful.
Constitutional attorney Edwin Viera Jr.points out that:
Georgia's Slavery Act of 1765, for example, explained itself on the rather blatant theory of legalistic oppression that
"Slavery has been introduced and allowed in His Majesty's Colonies in America and * * * Power over such Slaves ought to be settled and limited by positive Laws, so that the Slaves may be kept in due Subjection and Obedience * * * [.]"
Police Chief: Within A Generation,
Guns Will Be Taken Off The Streets
By Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr. - CNSNews.com
San Diego Police Chief, William Lansdowne said in an interview that the implementation of new gun laws will take guns off the streets of America within a generation.
According to San Diego 6, Lansdowne said that it may take a generation but guns will eventually be taken off the streets through new laws like Senator Dianne Feinstein's proposed assault weapons ban:
Lew Rockwell: Obama Has Gone Too Far
Alex welcomes Ron Paul's former congressional chief of staff and constitutional lawyer Lew Rockwell to give his take on the ensuing all out frontal assault on personal sovereignty.
Who's Faking It? Pentagon "Cyber-Warriors"
Planting "False Information on Facebook"
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich - GlobalResearch.ca
On November 22, 2012, the Los Angeles Times published an alarming piece of news entitled "Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age". The "cyber-warriors" who are headed for organizations such as the CIA, NSC, FBI, the Pentagon and so on, are trained to stalk, "rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device on cars and plant false information on Facebook [emphasis added]. They also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives."
Not surprisingly, less than a month later, it was rumored that Iran 's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei had started a Facebook page. The style and content of the site ruled out its authenticity, but the State Department was amused. In spite of the potential for alarm, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland jokingly expressed Washington 's curiosity to see how many "likes' Khamenei would receive. This is no joking matter. Any message on this page would be attributed to Khamenei with a potential for dangerous ramifications.
Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age At the University of Tulsa school, students learn to write computer viruses, hack digital networks and mine data from broken cellphones. Many graduates head to the CIA or NSA.
By Ken Dilanian, Washington Bureau - LATimes.com
TULSA, Okla. — Jim Thavisay is secretly stalking one of his classmates. And one of them is spying on him.
"I have an idea who it is, but I'm not 100% sure yet," said Thavisay, a 25-year-old former casino blackjack dealer.
Stalking is part of the curriculum in the Cyber Corps, an unusual two-year program at the University of Tulsa that teaches students how to spy in cyberspace, the latest frontier in espionage.
Students learn not only how to rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device on cars and plant false information on Facebook. They also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives.
Drones: 13 things you need to know
from Congress's new report A new Congressional report lays out in vivid detail the danger drones could pose for personal privacy. Here's everything you need to know.
Starting in 2015, the skies above the United States will become infiltrated by a rare creature: drones. Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones are currently forbidden from flying in U.S. airspace above 400 feet, unless the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides a license. But thanks to a bill passed by Congress early this year to make these licenses easier to get, drones will likely become a part of everyday life for Americans.
Fighting Climate Change Could Come at a High Price
By: Mark Koba, Senior Editor - CNBC.com
President Barack Obama is making climate change a key issue in his second term, but the cost of cutting the nation's carbon footprint is likely to place a heavy burden on average Americans—and the U.S. economy.
Trying to be energy efficient and cutting greenhouse gases might slow the growth of the U.S. gross domestic product anywhere from two to four percentage points each year over the next 10 years due to potential job losses, manufacturing slowdowns and switching energy sources, according to research from the Stern Review on the Economics of Social Change.
Chernobyl's Role in the Fall of the Soviet Union
By Charles Kennedy - OilPrice.com
The Soviet Union was destroyed by a nuclear explosion, an idea that is supported by non-other than Mikhail Gorbachev himself, the architect of its dismantling.
On the 26th of April 1986, poorly trained technicians decided to undertake a systems test of reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A surplus of energy surged into the reactor which exploded, instantly killing workers in the immediate vicinity and exposing others at the plant to deadly levels of radiation.
Huge New Slick at Site of BP's 2010 Gulf Oil Spill The oil is still there, 33 months after the explosion.
In Louisiana, we are blessed to have a one-woman environmental protection agency by the name of Bonny Schumaker. A retired NASA physicist and pilot, Schumaker has found a way to merge her love of all creatures and her passion for flying to create an amazing operation called On Wings Of Care. She flies animal rescue missions but since 2010 has also devoted a lot of her energy toward helping her fellow citizens learn the truth about the aftermath of BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster.
When the authorities wanted to restrict the public's access to the site of the massive spill, Schumaker and her flights have documented both the scope of the spill and the extent of damage to marine life — and she hasn't let up. In August 2011 and again in October 2012, her photographic evidence has forced BP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other agencies to acknowledge and to investigate new sightings of fresh oil sheens near where BP's rig blew up and sank. We're still not satisfied with BP's response to the problem, and we're concerned that the oil may actually be coming from fissures under the sea.
Here Come The Drones,
Or The True Reason For The Mali Incursion
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
Given our recent discussion (here and here) of the rising importance of Africa in the world's power and money echelons, it is not entirely surprising that the NY Times reports that US military command in Africa is actively preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase "unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups" that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region. It would appear Niger will be the most likely place for the base - from which officials envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones though, of course, they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens. "This is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom a more enduring presence for I.S.R.," one American military official said Sunday, referring to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Perhaps, actually scratch the "perhaps", what is really happening is the US now has a drone base with which to supervise Chinese expansion in Northweast Africa, anda drone fleet to use defensively and offensively as it sees fit.
Google releases detailed map of North Korea, gulags and all
by Chico Harlan - WashingtonPost.com
Until Tuesday, North Korea appeared on Google Maps as a near-total white space — no roads, no train lines, no parks and no restaurants. The only thing labeled was the capital city, Pyongyang.
This all changed when Google, on Tuesday, rolled out a detailed map of one of the world's most secretive states. The new map labels everything from Pyongyang's subway stops to the country's several city-sized gulags, as well as its golf courses, hotels, hospitals and department stores.
CONFIRMED? MASSIVE EXPLOSION AT IRAN NUCLEAR FACILITY
by JOEL B. POLLAK - Breitbart.com
A report of a massive explosion at Iran's Fordo nuclear facility, first published by World Net Daily last week and based on an Iranian source, has apparently been confirmed by Israeli officials speaking to the London Times.
World Net Daily's Reza Khalili reported on Jan. 24 that a massive act of sabotage had taken place at Fordo:
An explosion deep within Iran's Fordow nuclear facility has destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground, according to a former intelligence officer of the Islamic regime.