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NEWS to Disturb the Comfortable...

We don't tell you what to think,

but we give you something to think about.

The war on cash; capital controls being imposed everywhere. When “the war on gold” begins...
As the saying goes, you can know a person by the quality of his or her enemies. This is also true of societies, where moral evolution can be traced by simply listing the things on which they declare war. Not so long ago, for instance, the world’s good guys — the US, Europe’s democracies and a few others — fought existential battles against fascism and communism. Then they went after poverty and discrimination. They were, at least in terms of their ideals, on the side of personal freedom and opportunity and against institutionalized control. But then came the war on drugs, in which the US imprisoned millions of non-violent people guilty only of voluntary transaction. Not long after that we declared war on “terror,” using the enemies created by our own incompetent foreign policy as an excuse for a vast expansion of surveillance and police militarization. And now, seemingly out of nowhere, comes a new enemy: cash. Around the world, governments and banks are making it harder to save and transact...

GM Misses Earnings - Burns over $3 Billion in First Quarter
It appears that General Motors is trying to remedy one of the latest criticisms against them. That criticism is that the company has way too large a “cash hoard” and most recently came from former Obama Auto Task Force member turned shareholder activist, Harry Wilson. Well Harry, be at ease; GM has managed to reduce that so-called hoard by over $3 billion in just three months as first quarter earnings flopped on Wall Street. An analysis of GM’s earnings data release shows that cash and cash equivalents plunged from $19 billion to $15.8 billion. Marketable securities’ value also fell from $9.2 billion to $8.4 billion. Unfortunately for GM optimists who might want to point to GM’s share buy-back as the reason for the cash burn, it turns out that GM only used $400 million in cash during the quarter to repurchase 10 million shares. Despite that buyback, the number of outstanding shares for GM rose from 1,612 million shares to 1,617 million shares having a net dilutive effect for shareholders.

IRS? Militarized cops? WND warnings date to 1997
The IRS has been in the news much in recent months over that admission that the bureaucracy targeted Christians and tea-party groups with what essentially was harassment. And more, of course. And the subject of the militarization or weaponization of local cop shops has, too. Mainly since the violence erupted in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death. But that was just an outbreak, the actions and consequences have been permeating America for a long time. WND has been reporting on the potential for such problems stemming from both of those issues since 1997, the year WND was launched by co-founders Joseph and Elizabeth Farah. The news site now is approaching, in a week, its 18th anniversary, having become the first Internet-only content provider to launch a movie-production enterprise, see one of its books made into a feature film, launch an online store, to secure credentials to cover Capitol Hill, to secure White House credentials, and much more.

Death toll exeeds 2,500; aftershocks terrify Nepalese
Shell-shocked and sleeping in the streets, tens of thousands of Nepalese braced against terrifying aftershocks Sunday while digging for survivors in the devastation wrought a day earlier by a massive earthquake that ripped across this Himalayan nation and killed more than 2,500 people. Acrid, white smoke rose above the nation’s most revered Hindu temple, where dozens of bodies were being cremated at any given time. Aid groups received the first word from remote mountain villages — reports that suggested many communities perched on mountainsides were devastated or struggling to cope. Landslides hindered rescue teams that tried to use mountain trails to reach those in need, said Prakash Subedi, chief district official in the Gorkha region, where the quake was centered. “Villages like this are routinely affected by landslides, and it’s not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls,” said Matt Darvas, a member of the aid group World Vision.

Oath Keepers Under Attack by SPLC For BLM Stance

Why Is JPMorgan Accumulating The Biggest Stockpile Of Physical Silver In History?
Why in the world has JPMorgan accumulated more than 55 million ounces of physical silver? Since early 2012, JPMorgan's stockpile has grown from less than 5 million ounces of physical silver to more than 55 million ounces of physical silver. Clearly, someone over at JPMorgan is convinced that physical silver is a great investment. But in recent times, the price of silver has actually fallen quite a bit. As I write this, it is sitting at the ridiculously low price of $15.66 an ounce. So up to this point, JPMorgan's investment in silver has definitely not paid off. But it will pay off in a big way if we will soon be entering a time of great financial turmoil. During a time of crisis, investors tend to flood into physical gold and silver. And as I mentioned just recently, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon recently stated that "there will be another crisis" in a letter to shareholders. Some things never change - there will be another crisis, and its impact will be felt by the financial market.

Greek bank to eliminate poor clients’ debts
A major bank in debt-ridden Greece has decided to eliminate the debts of customers who owe as much as 20,000 euros (about USD 21,600), in a gesture aimed at easing the burden on its clients living in poor circumstances. The Bank of Piraeus said in a statement Friday that the company would either write off or restructure debts, as a response to “the humanitarian crisis.” The statement said for those enrolled in a newly-launched government benefits scheme, debts as high as 20,000 euros would be written off completely. It added that mortgage payments would be frozen, while associated interest would also be forgiven. The Bank of Piraeus is one of the few financial institutions which did not abandon its position following the leftist Syriza Party’s victory in January. Greek banks are in desperate need of liquidity, as customers withdrew some 25 billion euros between last December and late February. Earlier in the day, the European Union criticized Greece for what it called the country’s lack of sufficient...

US to launch blitz of gas exports, eyes global energy dominance
The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe. "We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we'll have a big impact," said the Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. "We're going to influence the whole global LNG market." Mr Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest. “Certainly in this decade, there’s a good chance that we will be LNG exporters on the scale of Qatar, which is today’s largest LNG exporter,” he said, speaking on the margins of the IHS CERAWeek energy summit in Texas. Qatar exports just over 100 billion cubic meters (BCM), though Australia is catching up fast as the offshore Gorgon field comes on stream. It may pull ahead of Qatar later this decade.

Corinthian Colleges Completes Collapse, Closes Remaining Campuses Effective Immediately
Although it was nearly a year in the making, the largest collapse in U.S. higher education finally occurred Sunday, as embattled for-profit education chain Corinthian Colleges Inc. – the operator of Everest University, Heald College and WyoTech – announced it would close the remainder of its campuses effective Monday. CCI, which has been at the center of a very public downfall since last July, published a notification on its website Sunday declaring it would cease all operations and discontinue instruction at its remaining 28 campuses. By shutting its doors on Monday, the California-based for-profit chain will end the current college careers of some 16,000 students. The company says it is currently working with other schools to provide continuing educational opportunities for those students. CCI’s final school closures include 13 remaining Everest and WyoTech campuses in California, Everest College Phoenix and Everest Online Tempe in Arizona, the Everest Institute in New York.

California Water Regulators Get Resistance From Gold Rush Era Water Rights Holders During 4-Year Drought
California's water regulators are getting resistance from some of the state's oldest water rights holders, during the current 4-year drought. That includes water rights that date back to the Gold Rush era. For example, Robert Forbes' family has been collecting water from the same reservoir for over a century. The family's access to the water dates back to a claim in Plumas County dating back to the 1870s. For decades he has been accessing the water by the same traditional ways. That includes using a shovel in the winter, and then setting irrigation schedules with neighbors in the spring. However, California's drought is now extending to its fourth year. This is creating a clash between the state's water regulators and water rights holders. Critics of holders of "senior water rights" argue that the system is complex and outdated, according to UTS San Diego. They enjoy almost unlimited water, with almost no cost or accountability. The Water Resources Control Board of California recently ordered...

Target's $19m settlement with MasterCard challenged by banks
A group of US banks and credit unions that suffered from the 2013 data breach at Target is seeking to block the proposed $19m settlement between the retailer and MasterCard, claiming the amount is meagre as compared to actual costs and losses. Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed a motion against the settlement in the US District Court of Minnesota, asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction to void the scheme and require class members to be notified of Target's and MasterCard's "misleading and coercive acts". The motion also seeks class action status. The complaint reads the settlement was reached "without the involvement, review or approval of the court or the court-appointed counsel for the class of financial institutions". "Target's 'settlement' with MasterCard conspires to extinguish the financial institutions' claims against Target for extremely low amounts, despite the fact that Target's direct exposure to the financial institutions is much greater than what MasterCard...

Growing need for international help for Nepal quake victims

If Greece falls, no one wants their prints on the murder weapon
"We're going bust." "No, you're not." "You're strangling us." "No we're not." "You owe us for World War Two." "We gave already." The game of chicken between Greece and its international creditors is turning into a vicious blame game as Athens lurches closer to bankruptcy with no cash-for-reform agreement in sight. Europe's political leaders and central bankers and Greek politicians agree on only one thing: if Greece goes down, they don't want their fingerprints on the murder weapon. If Athens runs out of cash and defaults in the coming weeks, as seems increasingly possible, no one wants to be accused of having pushed it over the edge or failed to try to save it. Greece's leftist government has already identified its culprit of choice - Germany, Europe's main paymaster, accused of having inflicted toxic austerity policies on Greeks, causing a "humanitarian crisis". Euro zone governments are preparing the ground to blame the novice government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for having blustered...

Ukrainians Forced to Tighten Belts Amid Economic Collapse
Most Ukrainians nowadays are forced to spend less and be more frugal as the country’s economy gets worse. Inflation is expected to increase to an astonishing 33 percent in 2015, while the country’s GDP will decline by 5.5 percent. The economic crisis in Ukraine is getting worse, as around 80 percent of Ukrainians are forced to cut back on spending, according to research company GfK Ukraine. Over the past year, 59 percent of Ukrainians have begun to purchase cheaper brands of clothes and shoes, 55 percent said they stopped shopping as much as they used to in the past, and 43 percent said they go to shops only during sales times. Since the beginning of 2015, sales of clothing fell by 30-40 percent compared with the same period last year. Business-owners import on average 35-40 percent less goods compared with last year, said Sergei Mazur, the director of importing company Vitis Group. Restaurants and cafes are also going through tough times.

QE = Debt Cancellation
We return after yesterday’s, ahem, uplifting reckoning. “So, basically,” wrote one reader after mulling over, “we’re screwed… “More of the same to stay afloat — yay! Stagnation and suffering ahead — oh, boy!! Nothing could be better!! Yipee!!! I’m so glad — let me jump in front of this speeding train to celebrate…” If you’re just tuning in, we’re two parts deep into our three-part conversation with Richard Duncan. In Part I, he outlined why he believes capitalism has died… and where that leaves us. In Part II, yesterday, he went a step further to explain why QE4 and probably QE5 are necessary to stave off collapse. Don’t tell Congress… but Duncan explained that if Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio was any indication, the U.S. has at least $17 trillion more in borrowing headroom. After having 24 hours to chew on that fact, some of your fellow readers are finding Richard’s point of view… umm… hard to swallow. “I just have to reply to your ‘deep thinker,’” wrote a second reader.

Why Companies Try To Merge Even When Approval Looks Unlikely

The bottom is in for oil prices: 'A lot of people are throwing in the towel.'
Traders think the decline in oil prices is over. A report from Bloomberg News on Sunday said that traders have pulled their bets that oil prices will fall further at the "fastest pace on record," according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC. And according to John Kilduffnat Again Capital, who spoke to Bloomberg last week, "The falling rig count and the reduction we're starting to see in output shows that the bottom has in fact been installed ... A lof people are throwing in the towel." Last week, oil prices rose for the sixth-straight week, and West Texas Intermediate crude oil was trading near $57 a barrel Sunday night, up from its low of $43 hit back in March. Earlier this year, strategists at Citi called for oil prices to drop as low as $20 a barrel given that the glut of global supply, which has been blamed for the sharp decline in oil prices seen since the summer of 2014, showed no signs of letting up. This call, of course, has still been half right.

Civil Unrest Has Begun In Baltimore And This Is Only Just The Start Of Something MUCH Bigger
On Saturday night, the city of Baltimore resembled a warzone as protests over the death of Freddie Gray turned wildly violent. One eyewitness reported watching the streets around him and his friend “turn into madness” as they left a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Car windows were smashed, stores were robbed, chairs were thrown and large numbers of random bystanders were attacked. One prominent Democrat claims that those committing the violence were “mainly from out of town“, but how would he know that? Today, there are approximately 2.7 million people living in the Baltimore metropolitan area. It is an area that has been known for poverty, crime and drugs for many years, and as racial tensions continue to increase in this country it is a powder keg that could erupt at literally any time. We got a preview of what can happen on Saturday night. If this is how people will act while economic conditions are still relatively stable in this country...

Ford recalls 389,585 cars for doors that fly open
Ford is recalling 389,585 late-model Ford Fiestas, Fusions and Lincoln MKZ sedans because of faulty latches that can allow the doors to fly open while the car is being driven. Ford says the problem was limited to certain models built at its plant in Mexico. It says a part called the pawl spring tab can break, which results in doors that can't be latched. The unlatching problem can occur while the car is being driven. There have been 207 complaints about faulty latches on Ford Fiesta subcompacts alone to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including 65 in which the doors flew open as the car was driven, according to documents on the government regulator's website. NHTSA opened an investigation last September into the issue. In addition, the report says Ford acknowledges having received 451 reports on its own and 1,079 warranty claims related to the issue. One Fiesta owner wrote the government to say the passenger door flung open during a left turn.

Bill Holter Warns About Gold and a Big US Dollar Reset Coming Sooner Than Later

Japan's Abe Arrives for US Visit
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in the U.S. Sunday for a week-long visit to showcase the success of the alliance built from Tokyo's defeat in World War II, while promoting a political agenda based on still stronger military and economic ties. The visit will take Abe from Boston to the Silicon Valley, with ample time for hobnobbing with high-flying businesspeople like the founders of Facebook and Apple, Japanese scholars and celebrities. With no major trade or economic deals expected, the aim, officials in Tokyo said, is to confirm an upgrading of joint defense guidelines and to advertise the bright side of Japan and its people, including Americans of Japanese ancestry, and possibly sell some bullet train systems. Abe is first among several leaders of Asia, including China and South Korea, planning to visit the U.S. this year, a sign of Washington's growing attention to the region. He arrived in Boston Sunday night for a stop at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library...

How the stock market destroyed the middle class
There’s something seriously wrong with an economy that nurtures a few billionaires but can’t sustain the middle class. Many factors have been blamed for the plummeting fortunes of the American middle class: globalization, technology, deregulation, easy credit, the winner-take-all economy, and even the inevitable tide of history. But one under-appreciated factor is a pervasive business model that encourages top managers of American corporations to loot their company for short-term gains, depriving those companies of the funds they need to build and enlarge, and invest in their workers for the long haul. How do they loot their company? By using large stock buybacks to manage the short-term objectives that trigger higher compensation for themselves. By using those stock buybacks to manipulate the share price, which allows them to use inside information to time their own stock sales. By using buybacks to funnel most of the company’s profits back to shareholders (including themselves).

Monday 04.27.2015

NEWS to Disturb the Comfortable...

We don't tell you what to think,

but we give you something to think about.