Thursday, May 23, 2019

‘Death to the Dictator! Death to Rouhani!’: Thousands Protest the Government in Iran

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by John Hayward, Breitbart:

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Iran over the past few days, speaking out against both the “hardline” government of the ayatollahs and the supposedly “moderate” secular government of President Hassan Rouhani.

“Death to the dictator!” and “Death to Rouhani” are chants heard in at least eight Iranian cities, and the movement appears to be spreading.

The UK Daily Mail reports protesters surrounding an Iranian mullah, a powerful member of the theocratic ruling class, and changing “Mullahs, be ashamed and leave Iran!” in his face.

One of the big protests was held in Mashhad, which is considered one of the holiest sites in Iran and in all of Shia Islam, as it contains the shrine of a revered 9th Century imam.

On Friday afternoon there were reports of protesters filling the streets of Qom, Iran’s spiritual center, and chanting: “We don’t want an Islamic republic!” Another protest chant, “Iran is haphazard without the Shah,” seems calculated to annoy the mullahs and ayatollah. These are remarkable gestures of defiance against Iran and the revolution of 1979, which is officially regarded as a sacred event.

Read More @ Breitbart.com

Russia Planning National Biometric Database For Banking Next Year, Expanding Worldwide Trend

by Aaron Kesel, Activist Post:

Russia is to start a biometric database for financial services starting next summer, the Central Bank of Russia said in a statement.

The system, although not mandatory, will extend access to banking by letting customers open accounts without having to visit a banking branch. This is all in an effort to “digitize” financial services. The regulator noted that data would only be stored with a person’s consent.

However, what the biometric database will include is worrying to say the least.

The biometric database will incorporate images of faces, voice samples and, eventually, irises and fingerprints.

With constant hacks against corporations including credit agency Equifax here in the U.S., which was threatened in September to pay in Bitcoin or else, putting all of someone’s physical identification in one place is a nightmarish scenario. Especially with the rise of using biometric data (fingerprints and facial recognition) to unlock cell phones.

Imagine someone hacks your bank biometric information – they now have your full identity and are free to access your phone and other services that use your fingerprint and face as if they were you. This enables blackmailing with access to all your private information, text, and pictures.

The biometric effort is being backed by Russian state-owned Rostelecom, and Sberbank PJSC who has been selected to run the database, Bloomberg reported.

Last month, PJSC acquired a 25% stake in a company called VisionLabs as a first step toward building a biometric platform to identify people through face, voice and retina recognition technologies.

Rostelecom’s board chairman is Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB agent who was President Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff until last year and is currently among those sanctioned by the U.S. for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The law will take effect six months after it’s passed. The database could also be expanded for use by microfinance organizations and government services, the central bank added.

Russia isn’t the only country planning to implement a biometric database. China has also turned its nation into George Orwell’s nightmare.

China’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the database, has amassed biometric information for more than 40 million people it was reported in 2015. The Communist country has the world’s biggest database of DNA information according to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) just this year. For comparison, in the US, the FBI’s national DNA index has 12.7 million offender profiles.

“Mass DNA collection by the powerful Chinese police absent effective privacy protections or an independent judicial system is a perfect storm for abuses,” Sophie Richardson, China director at HRW said. “China is moving its Orwellian system to the genetic level.”

A follow-up report published earlier this month by the human rights watchdog group revealed that there was even a program which has gathered biometric data—including fingerprints, iris scans, blood-type, and DNA—on millions of residents in six regions in Xinjiang in 2017 under the guise of a free public health program providing physical examinations.

That’s not all. According to the organization, the Chinese government is even collecting “voice pattern” samples of individuals to establish a national voice biometric database.

The group stated authorities are collaborating with iFlytek, a Chinese company that produces 80 percent of all speech recognition technology in the country, to develop a pilot surveillance system that can automatically identify targeted voices in phone conversations.

“The Chinese government has been collecting the voice patterns of tens of thousands of people with little transparency about the program or laws regulating who can be targeted or how that information is going to be used,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “Authorities can easily misuse that data in a country with a long history of unchecked surveillance and retaliation against critics.”

Here in the U.S. the DHS is planning a biometric facial recognition database for border checkpoints and to create the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) to store 500 million people, including many US citizens’ identities within its system.

Read More @ ActivistPost.com

THE FOURTH TURNING ARRIVES IN IRAN

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by Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform:

Iran is a young nation.  Half of the population are 35 or younger.  Many are are college educated and they don’t offer gender studies there.  Inflation and unemployment are at around 12%.  The promised economic benefits of the nuclear deal so far have not materialized.  Most Iranians don’t give a fuck about Syria or Palestine (or Islam, for that matter).  They know their country should be economically prosperous and are running out of patience.

Price protests turn political in Iran as rallies spread

Reuters Staff

DUBAI (Reuters) – Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans in several cities across Iran on Friday, Iranian news agencies and social media reports said, as price protests turned into the largest wave of demonstrations since nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009.

Police dispersed anti-government demonstrators in the western city of Kermanshah as protests spread to Tehran and several other cities a day after rallies in the northeast, the semi-official news agency Fars said.

The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern about the Islamic Republic’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.

 

An official said a few protesters had been arrested in Tehran, and footage posted on social media showed a heavy police presence in the capital and some other cities.

Washington criticized the arrests. “The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars said was a “call by the anti-revolution”. They shouted: “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, and some public property was destroyed. Fars did not name any opposition groups.

The protests in Kermanshah, the main city in a region where an earthquake killed over 600 people in November, took place a day after hundreds rallied in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad to protest at high prices and shout anti-government slogans.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators yelling, “The people are begging, the clerics act like God”.

Fars said there were protests in the cities of Sari and Rasht in the north, Qazvin west of Tehran and Qom south of the capital, and also in Hamadan in western Iran. It said many marchers who wanted to raise economic demands left the rallies after demonstrators shouted political slogans.

PRO-GOVERNMENT RALLIES PLANNED

State television said annual nationwide rallies and events were scheduled for Saturday to commemorate pro-government demonstrations held in 2009 to counter protests by reformists.

The Revolutionary Guards, which along with its Basij militia spearheaded a crackdown against the protesters in 2009, said in a statement carried by state media that there were efforts to repeat that year’s unrest but added: “The Iranian nation … will not allow the country to be hurt.”

Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a square but most had left after being asked to by police, while a few who refused were “temporarily detained”, the ILNA news agency reported.

In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters had joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back-pay.

“The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.

In Qom, a stronghold of the Shi‘ite clergy, footage posted on social media showed protesters attacking Ayatollah Khamenei by name. “Seyyed Ali should be ashamed and leave the country alone,” they chanted.

Protests were held also in the town of Quchan near the Turkmen border, and in Ahvaz, capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, social media and Iranian news websites reported.

Police arrested 52 people in Thursday’s protests, Fars quoted a judicial official as saying in Mashhad, one of the holiest places in Shi‘ite Islam.

In social media footage, which could not be authenticated, riot police were seen using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Openly political protests are rare in Iran, where security services are omnipresent.

The last unrest of national significance occurred in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president ignited eight months of street protests. Pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged.

However, demonstrations are often held by workers over lay-offs or non-payment of salaries and by people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda called earlier for tough action against the protests.

“If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Alamolhoda as saying.

“DEATH TO DICTATOR”

Some social media videos showed demonstrators chanting “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the dictator”. Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities.

Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.

Read More @ TheBurningPlatform.com

Ron Paul: ‘We Are On The Verge Of Something Like What Happened In ’89 When The Soviet System Just Collapsed’

by Damir Mujezinovic, Inquisitr:

Ron Paul does not believe the U.S. will break into separate countries, like the Soviet Union did, but expects changes in the U.S. monetary policy, as well as the crumbling of the country’s “overseas empire.”

The godfather of the Tea Party movement and perhaps the most prominent right-leaning libertarian in America, Ron Paul, believes the economic boom the United States experienced under President Trump could be a “bit of an illusion.” Mr. Paul sees inequality, inflation, and debt as real threats that could potentially cause a turmoil.

In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, Paul said, “We’re on the verge of something like what happened in ’89 when the Soviet system just collapsed. I’m just hoping our system comes apart as gracefully as the Soviet system. We have ownership of these countries, but it’s not quite like the Soviets did. I think our stature in the world and our empire will end, and that’s when, hopefully, the doors will be open.”

The crumbling of America’s “overseas empire,” as Mr. Paul calls it, could be a chance for the libertarian movement to captivate the country’s imagination by 2020. The fact that the system is coming apart could be a big opening for the libertarians, Paul claims. However, it is not just Trump administration’s foreign policy that could play a part in this. Paul considers the entire U.S. economy to be a bubble and an illusion built on governmental, corporate, and personal debt.

The former politician and host of the popular Ron Paul Liberty Reportpodcast has been a vocal critic of the NSA’s surveillance program, the USA PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, and the government’s fiscal policies as a whole. Interestingly, the topic of one of Mr. Paul’s recent podcasts was bitcoin.

“The government, for its own reasons, monopolized the creation of money. Money originated in the marketplace. Let people sort it out,” he says.

Apart from criticizing Donald Trump, the “Tea Party’s Brain,” as some journalists have called him, criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Paul considers Sessions to be a threat to civil liberties. According to Paul, Trump’s foreign policy is a “total disaster,” as well as the war on terrorism and the “war on immigrants,” as Mr. Paul puts it. He went as far as calling these policies authoritarian-fascism.

Read More @ Inquisitr.com

EXPLOSIVE Senate email says anyone “of Russian nationality or Russian descent” will now be targeted

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by Alex Christoforou, The Duran:

The Young Turks Network uncovers bombshell Senate email targeting Russian Americans.

The American government has now gone full blown McCarthy.

The fact that Russia hating, progressive left news channel, The Young Turks, has uncovered and published this bombshell email should concern all Russian Americans that the witch-hunt against Russia may now be extended to US citizens, residents, and tourists in the United States…no evidence needed except profiling based on Russian heritage. 

Via Zerohedge

The Young Turks Network (TYT), a popular progressive YouTube channel and news site, has obtained a bombshell internal email  related to the Senate committee probing alleged Russian interference in the American political system, and though currently being covered in Russian media, mainstream US media is passing it over without comment.

 

The email reveals that the Senate committee has deemed anyone “of Russian nationality or Russian descent” relevant to its investigation, which means the Russiagate conspiracy theory  and accompanying congressional investigation has officially jumped straight from neo-McCarthyism – smearing anyone that may have had contact with Russian government officials, diplomats or intelligence, and into xenophobia – eyeing any and all Russians or friends of Russians as a potential threat plain and simple, which is far down the slippery slope that many commentators have long predicted.

Via TYT Network

Start your own website here >>

The Senate committee probing alleged Russian interference in the U.S. political system has deemed anyone “of Russian nationality or Russian descent” relevant to its investigation, according to a document obtained by TYT.

In an email dated December 19, 2017, April Doss—who serves as senior minority counsel on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI)—defined the scope of the committee’s inquiry as anyone a subject “knows or has reason to believe [is] of Russian nationality or descent.”The senior majority counsel for the SSCI, Vanessa Le, was cc’d on the emails.

 

Doss, the former head of intelligence law at the National Security Agency, was reportedly brought onto the committee by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who serves as its vice chairman and one of its most prominent public faces. Warner has repeatedly said that the committee’s work represents the “most important thing [he’s] ever done.” The chairman of the committee is Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Read More @ TheDuran.com

Huma Abedin’s Cousin Convicted Of Fraud With “Russian Donald Trump”

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from ZeroHedge:

Huma Abedin’s first cousin, Omar Amanat, 44 and an associate were convicted of Fraud on Tuesday for deceiving shareholders in their tech company by falsely inflating revenues. They face a 10 years in prison at his scheduled April 25th sentencing. 

Notably, the jury was “not permitted to hear a recorded telephone conversation in which Amanat tells a government cooperator that his first cousin is Huma Abedin, a former aide to last year’s Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton,” according to the Associated Press. Amanat and his partners deceived shareholders of “Kit Digital” between 2010 and 2012, falsely inflating revenues to hide losses. During the trial Amanat introduced fabricated emails as evidence. 

  Huma Abedin and cousin Omar Amanat
Huma Abedin and cousin Omar Amanat

Ironically, court documents also reveal Amanat tried to destroy evidence before the trial – asking his brother over email to “delete all of my emails from the yahoo site,” over concern that they might be subpoenaed at some point. 

The evidence of their criminal schemes was so overwhelming that Amanat actually tried to fool the jury by introducing fake emails into the record as exculpatory ‘evidence’ in this trial,” said Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H Kim, adding “Unfortunately for Tuzman and Amanat, the jury saw through their tangled web of lies, convicting them on all counts.”

Amanat was ordered immediately jailed by US District Court Judge Paul G. Gardephe after U.S. Attorney Andrea Griswold argued he was a flight risk, due to the “substantial” sentence likely to be handed down

Another first cousin of Huma Abedin Irfan Amanat, was charged on December 5 in Manhattan Federal Court in the KIT Digital case. He was busted by The SEC in a separate case for tricking the Nasdaq exchange into giving him $50,000 with a computer program he wrote.

And as Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller reports, in 2013 Omar Amanet partnered with businessman Vladislav Doronin, known as The Russian Donald Trump, to buy a luxury resort for $358 million. 

An in-depth 2014 profile in Fortune magazine says Doronin is “referred to in the British press as the ‘Russian Donald Trump.’” Dorinin was born in what was then Leningrad before moving to Geneva to work for Marc Rich, a financier who fled the U.S. after being indicted for fraud and trading with Iran, and was pardoned by former President Bill Clinton on Clinton’s last day in office.

Clinton’s motive for pardoning Rich on his last day in office was questioned,” USA Today reports, “because Rich’s ex-wife, Denise Rich, was a wealthy Democratic donor who made a $450,000 donation to Clinton’s presidential library foundation and more than $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.” The pardon was investigated by the FBI in 2001.

After Doronin and Amanat parted ways, Doronin began calling Amanat a “serial swindler,” who forged signatures on million dollar contracts. As the Daily Caller also reports, Amanat was permanently barred by FINRA in 2008 “from associating with any FINRA member firm in any capacity” for repeatedly failing to disclose legal judgments and an SEC investigation. 

In 2002, he sold a company called Tradescape for $100 million to E*Trade, which charged that Amanat hid that before it was sold, the company had “no money! Zero. Zilch. Nada… We can’t pay any of our bills,” as one employee wrote in a contemporaneous email, according to the Forbes piece.

Read More @ ZeroHedge.com

HUNDREDS PROTEST PORK SHORTAGE IN SOCIALIST RUINED VENEZUELA

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by Joe Jankowski, Infowars:

Decades of socialist policies leaves Venezuela in shambles

Hundreds of Venezuelans took to the streets overnight on Wednesday to protest a shortage of pork for traditional Christmas meals as the socialist ruined country continues to struggle.

The protest ignited in poor parts of Caracas after President Nicholas Maduro’s socialist government failed to deliver on a promise to provide people in many areas with subsidized meat.

According to Reuters, the protest spilled over into Thursday morning as social media users started tagging the outrage as the “pork revolution.”

As protesters stood on the street and burned trash cans, Venezuelan President Maduro went on state TV to blame Portugal for failing to deliver pork imports in time for Christmas.

“What happened to the pork? They sabotaged us. I can name a country: Portugal,” Maduro said.

Maduro has been quick to blame the country’s woes on anything but the government’s interference in its own economy. The Venezuelan leader has touted the line that his people are being subjected to economic warfare at the hands of foreign nations.

“We bought the pork, signed the agreements – but they pursued the bank accounts of the boats,” Maduro added on Thursday, without providing many details. “With or without sabotage, no one will take away the happiness of Christmas from the people.”

Protests have been a normal sight inside Venezuela during this holiday season as the “pork revolution” signifies the continuation of the country’s food crisis, blackouts effect millions, water is rationed and long lines form for gasoline.

Decades of socialist policies, which began ramping up in late 1950’s, and central bank manipulation has left Venezuela in shambles.

According to a survey conducted by several native universities, over 10 million Venezuelan parents skip at least one meal so that their children can get the nutrition they need.

Things have become so bad for the country on the northern coast of South America that people have resorted to stealing and eating zoo animals.

Hyperinflation has also struck the nation, leaving holiday shoppers paying some 500,000 bolívars for a pair of Converse knockoffs shoes.

Read More @ Infowars.com

Lawsuit Seeks to Force Disclosure of Trump Administration’s Secret Kill List

by Derrick Broze, Activist Post:

The Trump admin is now facing legal challenges demanding the release of details related to the secret kill list and rules which allow for the assassination of American citizens. 

On December 22 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in an attempt to force the release of newly established rules related to the U.S. military’s secret program of killing. The program was established during the Obama Administration and now expanded under Donald Trump. Recent reports from the New York Times (12) allude to the fact that the Trump administration is loosening the already flimsy protections established by the Obama admin. These protections were reportedly put in place to minimize injury and deaths of civilians.

The ACLU states that two recent articles from the New York Times and The Atlantic spurred on the lawsuit. The New York Times investigation reviewed U.S. airstrikes from the beginning of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014 to December 2016. The report found that the U.S. military killed civilians 31 times more than it admitted. The second piece was a response to the Times‘ investigation by Robert Malley and Stephen Pomper, former national security officials in the Obama years. The men admit that the Obama administration continued the global War on Terror by keeping the infrastructure in place. The men also note that protections for civilians were inadequate, as were promises of transparency and reparations for victims.

In October, Activist Post reported that a newly signed Presidential Memorandum would normalize the use of drones in American life.

The memo, titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program,” allows certain communities to be exempt from current safety rules as they test drone operations. Under the Trump administration the use of drone bombings are increasing and airstrikes have already increased. Also, in an apparent effort to fight illegal immigration, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be using drones to conduct aerial surveillance on American citizens on the border. These actions have led privacy groups to ask the U.S. Senate if images gathered by the CBP’s drones will be connected to the agencies facial recognition database.

As the ACLU notes:

the Trump administration is killing people in multiple countries, with strikes taking place at a virtually unprecedented rate—in some countries, the number has doubled or tripled in Trump’s first year in office.

The American public is generally aware of conflicts taking place in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, but remain largely ignorant to the military operations taking place in Somalia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and across the African continent. These operations have lead to an increase in civilian deaths. Another point that can not be ignored is the fact that the U.S. government is bombing people in nations which are majority Muslim. These are the same countries subject to the so-called “Muslim ban.” This means there are likely people who have become refugees in an effort to escape the U.S.-led wars on their homeland and then they are turned away or treated like criminals.

“At the same time, it (the Trump admin) refuses to officially disclose critically important information about where it is conducting strikes, against whom, and with what consequences,” the ACLU writes.

Read More @ ActivistPost.com

Venezuela Will Back Its Cryptocurrency With 5 Billion Barrels Of Oil, Gold Deposits

from ZeroHedge:

Four months ago, in a not entirely surprising move meant to circumvent US economic sanctions on Venezuela, president Nicolas Maduro announced that his nation would stop accepting dollars  as payment for oil imports, followed just days later by the announcement that in a dramatic shift away from the Petrodollar and toward Beijing, Venezuela would begin publishing its oil basket price in Chinese yuan. The strategic shift away from the USD did not work quite as expect, because a little over two months later, both Venezuela and its state-owned energy company, PDVSA were declared in default on their debt obligations by ISDA, which triggered the respective CDS contracts as the country’s long-expected insolvency became fact.

Then, in early December, clearly fascinated and captivated by the global crypto craze, Maduro shocked the world by announcing the creation of the “Petro“, Venezuela’s official cryptocurrency “to advance in the matter of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and to overcome the financial blockade”.

  Nicolas Maduro dances with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, December 1, 2017
Nicolas Maduro dances with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, December 1, 2017

“The objective is to advance in the Venezuelan economy and overcome the financial blockade, this allows us to continue in the economic and social development supported by Venezuelan riches,” said the president, explaining that his government will make a cryptocurrency issue “backed by reserves of Venezuelan gold, oil, gas and diamond wealth.”

Still, as we said when he first commented  on Venezuela’s bizarre foray into digital currencies, “it was not exactly clear how this PetroCoin would be backed by various natural resources when the whole point of cryptos is that they are not backed by anything, and as such it appears that what Maduro is trying to do is admit that the hyperinflating Bolivar has failed as a sovereign reserve, and the country is hoping to confuse its global trading partners enough into believing that it somehow had a new “bitcoin” on its hands, which like the real thing would then proceed to appreciate in value in the near future.

Today we got the answer when Venezuela’s president announced that “every single Petro will be backed by a barrel of oil… and gold.

“The objective is to advance in the Venezuelan economy and overcome the financial blockade, this allows us to continue in the economic and social development supported by Venezuelan riches,” said the president, explaining that his government will make a cryptocurrency issue “backed by reserves of Venezuelan gold, oil, gas and diamond wealth.”

Some joked at the time that a different name might be more suitable…

But now, as RT reports, Maduro confirmed the backing of the national cryptocurrency Petro with the country’s vast natural resource reserves.

“Here’s the document formalizing the provision of the certified Ayacucho oil field No.1 in the Orinoco Petroleum Belt for the support of El Petro cryptocurrency,” Maduro said on national TV.

Read More @ ZeroHedge.com

The Ghosts of Crashes Past, Recent, and Future as they Appeared on this Blog

by David Haggith, The Great Recession Blog:

It’s not boasting to state plainly that you were right if you are equally direct about your errors. I have until now rightly predicted all of the stock market’s major downturns, starting with the one in 2007 that gave us the Great Recession. The first of those led to the writing of this blog. The next two were predicted and recorded as they happened on this blog, and the latest, whether it proves right or wrong, waits shortly in the future. Each time I made such a prediction here, I bet my blog on it. The blog is still here, but will it continue to be?

I am using the term “crash” loosely in this article because one time I clearly stated the impending plunge would not technically amount to a crash (a sudden drop of more than 20%) but it would be much more significant than just a correction (a decline of 10%) because of how drastically it would change the nature of the market. I’ll show here how it did. The next time, I predicted a “crash” that did not quite turn out as significant as I claimed it would be, but it was an historic event in that the Dow fell further in January than it had ever done in its entire history, and it did so exactly the timing (to the day) that I laid out in advance.

I let myself off easy on that one as being both a hit and a miss because, after all, getting timing of a major plunge right to the exact day as well as the counter-intuitive manner by which it would start on that day is not something one typically sees.

Now we are about to see whether I will survive the prediction I made many months ago for January 2018.

The ghost of crashes past

On September 3rd, 2014, I wrote an article titled “Will There be a 2014 Stock Market Crash?” In that article I predicted something big and wicked appeared to be coming right around the corner:

This [prediction] is coming from someone who has not been crying the sky is falling for some time….. I won’t go as far as I did with the housing market [back in ’07] by predicting a stock-market crash based on the evidence at the moment, but I will say it is looking like a significant risk this fall, should other events trigger panic in stock investors who know they are heavily leveraged and who know everyone else is, too.

That bet sounds a little hedged, but it was merely reiterating what I had predicted in the early spring of that year:

I’m not predicting economic collapse in 2014 any more than I did last year. Some well-known talking heads did for 2013, especially related to China, and I said they’d be wrong. Marc Faber, Nouriel Roubini, and Jim Rogers all predicted that 2013 would bring a great crash, and I said that I did not think that was likely. While I’m not forecasting calamity in my 2014 economic predictions, it certainly looks like a stormy fall ahead of us as these pressures start to build against the global economy. (“Strong Headwinds Face Global Economy“)

In keeping with that earlier prediction, I concluded my September update for the rapidly approaching autumn months as follows:

I avoid sensationalism or market pessimism, but unlike bullish market optimists I will predict doom when doom really is on the horizon, but not before. I would move the needle on my gauge that monitors the likelihood of an economic crash this year from yellow to solidly orange where I predicted in the spring that it would be come fall.…

The sad tale to be seen in the market today is that we have learned nothing from the economic crash of 2008 and less than nothing from the high-tech crash at the beginning of the millennium. The market is wildly speculative on dot-com stocks and highly leveraged. It has huge potential to fall rapidly if something goes wrong because the investing is so highly leveraged (built out of debt). The market looks exactly like it did before the last bust of the dot-com bubble. Because it is such an unstable situation and because the headwinds that I forecasted last March have grown, the likelihood of that market toppling in the fall has increased.

Every force mentioned in my March forecast has built up in the directions predicted, bringing the risk level for this fall to exactly the precarious level I predicted. Remember, I bet my blog on things taking that direction this past March, promising I’d stop making forecasts if I was wrong about the direction these headwinds were taking us….

I maintain that bet while nearly everyone else is saying the economy has improved this year, and superficially it appears it has; but I am looking at the teetering state of the market and the growing forces of the winds that whirl around us and saying that those who think, based on statistics that the economy is recovering, are all looking in the wrong direction. They are not paying attention to the foundations of this structure, and they are not looking at the sheer forces that are ready to knock it off its wobbly foundation. The economy is, in fact, precariously weak, and the forces that could knock it over have grown increasingly strong.

The area in the yellow box below shows what happened less than two weeks after if I reiterated those strong warnings that things were about to go very bad:

Read More @ TheGreatRecession.info

European Union Building Its Own Army

by Darius Shahtahmasebi, The Anti Media:

On November 13, 2017, 23 out of 28 European Union (EU) states signed a declaration to create what is expected to form the nucleus of a joint European army. The five countries that won’t be taking take part are Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Malta, and Portugal, though Ireland previously expressed some interest in joining.

The defense agreement is aimed at developing rapid reaction forces and implementing new material and equipment, including tanks and drones. It will include a five billion euro defense fund for buying weapons, as well as a special fund to finance operations and research.

Germany has almost all but spearheaded this project by itself. Just two years ago, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag why Germany believes it is important to have a European army of its own.

“You would not create a European army to use it immediately,” Juncker stated. “But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”

This might sound nonsensical considering NATO is currently surrounding Russia’s borders in an effort to contain Russia within an ambush of American troops and missiles. However, countries like Germany genuinely believe the U.S. can no longer protect Europe from Russia. NATO is essentially headed by the U.S., followed closely behind Great Britain, both of which cannot always act in favor of mainland Europe’s core interests given its geographical detachment (not to mention that Great Britain has opted to leave the E.U., making its influence over Europe’s military interests less apparent).

Under Donald Trump, the U.S. has formally lost the so-called global leadership role that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had already started eroding. In May of this year, NATO officials had to Trump-proof the president’s visit, ensuring no one talked longer than four minutes to keep up with his limited attention span. In this context, Germany has openly said it can no longer rely on the United States and is reportedly seeking to take up the leadership reigns following America’s demise as a superpower.

NATO also has Turkey as a member, a country that does not always see eye to eye with Germany and has even expressed its willingness to join the Russian and Chinese-led Shanghai Bloc, instead.

Germany’s lack of a positive outlook towards NATO is significant. Germany is Europe’s largest economy. By 2020, it aims to spend 53 percent more on military equipment compared to 2016, according to a German Ministry of Defense estimate. However, though it pledged to increase the size of its armed forces to 200,000 earlier this year, it can’t realistically emerge as a superpower on its own in the face of the rising powers of Russia, China, India, and the rest of the European states. That is precisely why in February this year, Germany took matters into its own hands and announced the integration of its armed forces with Romania and the Czech Republic, baby-steps towards its very own European army.

According to Foreign Policy:

“Romania’s entire military won’t join the Bundeswehr, nor will the Czech armed forces become a mere German subdivision. But in the next several months each country will integrate one brigade into the German armed forces: Romania’s 81st Mechanized Brigade will join the Bundeswehr’s Rapid Response Forces Division, while the Czech 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, which has served in Afghanistan and Kosovo and is considered the Czech Army’s spearhead force, will become part of the Germans’ 10th Armored Division. In doing so, they’ll follow in the footsteps of two Dutch brigades, one of which has already joined the Bundeswehr’s Rapid Response Forces Division and another that has been integrated into the Bundeswehr’s 1st Armored Division. According to Carlo Masala, a professor of international politics at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, ‘The German government is showing that it’s willing to proceed with European military integration’ — even if others on the continent aren’t yet.” [emphasis added]

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