from Rogue Money:
Russian President Vladimir Putin used his state-of-the-nation speech on Thursday to deliver a stern warning to the United States that Russia possesses hypersonic weapons that can render NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense system completely “useless.”
“Efforts to contain Russia have failed, face it,” Putin declared in a two-hour speech at his annual state of the nation address in Moscow, Russia, which included computer simulations of new arms including hypersonic systems, intercontinental missiles, and underwater drones.
Underwater drones, hypersonic warheads, balls of fire, “menacing" ICBMs – peak of Putin speech was weapons rhetoric despite slow buildup on social probs, infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/8sJWcFPPdl
— Tom Parfitt (@parfitt_tom) 1 March 2018
Putin said the creation of hypersonic systems has made NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense shields in Europe utterly “useless,” and means the era of the Western world attempting to prevent Russia’s expansion is over.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: all what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” he said.
Putin confirmed our thoughts about the era of hypersonic is now, and an arms race among major superpowers is well underway; he said, all countries with a high level of scientific potential “are actively developing hypersonic weapons.”
Here is the bombshell: “Russia already possesses such weapons,” the president announced. He warned that the world’s leading armies (China, Russia, and the United States) are in a hypersonic arms race. The Russian possession of hypersonic weapons has spurred a modern, compact and hi-tech revolution of Armed Forces, Putin added.
“We can say with full grounds: Russia has created modern Armed Forces, which are compact and hi-tech troops for this huge territory, with the officer corps as its heart, where every officer is ready for any sacrifice for its nation,” he said.
Putin told the audience that Russia started working on hypersonic weapons to counter America’s missile defense systems, as early as 2004, but he said that Washington ignored our warning.
Now “you will listen to us,” he declared.
And just to underscore that, some have pointed out that the Putin video of the new ICBM shows MIRV set to impact with Florida in the background.
Read More @ ZeroHedge.com
by Mac Slavo, SHTFPlan:
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States is planning to deploy five cruisers and 30 destroyers near the Russian border. Should the US make the mistake of attacking Russia, however small the attack may be, Putin will launch nuclear weapons.
Putin’s warning came during a state of the nation address delivered by the Russian president on Thursday, in which he presented a number of new advanced strategic weapon systems. He said he would render all anti-missile capabilities that the US currently has powerless with his new and advanced weapon systems.
“We are greatly concerned by some parts of the new nuclear posture, which reduces the benchmark for the use of nuclear weapons.Whatever soothing words one may try to use behind closed doors, we can read what was written. And it says that these weapons can be used in response to a conventional attack or even a cyber-threat,” he said.
“Our nuclear doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against her or her allies, or a conventional attack against us that threatens the very existence of the state.”
“It is my duty to state this: Any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies, be it small-scale, medium-scale or any other scale, will be treated as a nuclear attack on our country. The response will be instant and with all the relevant consequences,” Putin warned. –RT
A nuclear war is not something to take lightly. It would end civilization as we know it. Russian Lieutenant General Evgeny Buzhinsky told RT that by training its European allies to use their nuclear arms, the US is moving towards an atomic war with Russia, forgetting that it would mean the end of the human civilization. The US is also attempting to make a “show of force” against Russia by sending ships to the Black Sea.
*The video below contains some curse words and may not be suitable for those at work or for children.
Read More @ SHTFPlan.com
by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
I’m sure all of you are aware of the dramatic power play pulled off over the weekend by China’s Communist Party to eliminate term limits for both the president and vice president. Prior to the move, Chinese leaders have stuck to two five-year terms since the presidency of Jiang Zemin (1993-2003), but that’s about to change as wannabe emperor Xi Jinping positions himself as indefinite ruler of the increasingly totalitarian superstate.
While the weekend announcement was illuminating enough, I found the panicked reactions by Chinese authorities in the immediate aftermath far more telling. The country’s propagandists took censorship to such an embarrassing level in attempts to portray the decision as widely popular amongst the masses, it merely served to betray that opposite might be true.
China Digital Times compiled a fascinating list of words and terms banned from being posted or searched on Weibo. Here’s just a sample of some I found particularly interesting.
The full list is far more extensive and ridiculous, but the key point is that such a pathetic and panicked response from government censors highlights government insecurity, not strength.
Smith said he believed Beijing had underestimated the outrage its decision would cause. “The response from Chinese netizens indicates that Xi may have miscalculated how this would be received by the general public. Hence, he has asked the censors to put in overtime and things like the letter ‘N’ end up as collateral damage.”
The internet response to the Communist Party’s move to abolish term limits was not what leadership expected or desired, which prompted a panicky and desperate attempt to immediately clean up internet discourse.
It’s pretty sad when a government in charge of the lives of over a billion people is terrified of Winnie the Pooh memes.
The huge tell that China was about to take a major totalitarian turn occurred last year with the draconian government response to Bitcoin and crypto currency exchanges generally. The people of China were embracing the technology as much as anyone else and were in a perfect position to be global leaders in this paradigm changing new ecosystem. Xi responded to this by shutting the whole thing down.
Not only did he dash the enthusiasm, drive and talent of some of his country’s smartest technologists and entrepreneurs, but he also made it clear to the world that the Chinese model will continue to be one of command and control, rigid hierarchy and centralization. This is a tragic and historic mistake, and I think the coming brain drain out of China could be massive. This provides an opportunity for more open nations to scoop up some serious talent as they look to leave. As noted previously, Chinese authorities banned the word “emigrate” earlier this week, which should certainly tell you something.
Read More @ LibertyBlitzkrieg.com
by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research:
Is it a coincidence?
In recent history, from the Vietnam war to the present, the month of March has been chosen by Pentagon and NATO military planners as the “best month” to go to war.
With the exception of the War on Afghanistan (October 2001) and the 1990-91 Gulf War, all major US-NATO and allied led military operations over a period of more than half a century –since the invasion of Vietnam by US ground forces on March 8, 1965– have been initiated in the month of March.
The Ides of March (Idus Martiae) is a day in the Roman calendar which broadly corresponds to March 15. The Ides of March is also known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC.
Lest we forget, the month of March (in the Roman Calendar) is dedicated to Mars (Martius), the Roman God of War.
For the Romans, the month of March (Martius) marked “the time to start new military campaigns.”
As in the heyday of the Roman Empire, the US Department of Defense has a mandate to plan and implement a precise “timeline” of military operations.
Does the month of March –identified by the Romans as a “good time” to initiate new military undertakings–, have a bearing on contemporary military doctrine?
Throughout history, seasons including the transition from Winter to Spring have played a strategic role in the timing of military operations.
Do Pentagon military planners favor the month of March?
Do they also –in some mysterious fashion– “idolize” Mars, the Roman God of War?
March 23 (which coincides with the beginning of Spring) was the day “Romans celebrated the start of the military campaign and war fighting season.”
“Homage was paid to Mars the god of war with festivals and feasting. … For the Romans March 23 was a huge celebration known as Tubilustrium”.
Under these festivities which celebrated the Roman god of war, a large part of the month of March “was dedicated to military celebration and preparedness.”
Timeline of March Military Interventions (1965- 2017)
Recent history confirms that with the exception of Afghanistan (October 2001) and the 1990-91 Gulf War, all major US-NATO led military operations over a period of almost half a century –since the invasion of Vietnam by US ground forces on March 8, 1965– have been initiated in the month of March.
The Vietnam War
The US Congress adopted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized President Lyndon Johnson to dispatch ground forces to Vietnam on March 8, 1965.
On 8 March 1965, 3,500 U.S. Marines were dispatched to South Vietnam marking the beginning of “America’s ground war”.
NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
NATO’s war on Yugoslavia was launched on March 24, 1999.
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia code-named by the US Operation “Noble Anvil”. started on March 24, 1999 and lasted until June 10, 1999.
The Iraq War
The War on Iraq was launched on March 20, 2003. (Baghdad time)
The US-NATO led invasion of Iraq started on 20 March 2003 on the pretext that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
(The 1991 Gulf War on Iraq began on 17th January. However, after the 28th February ceasefire was agreed and signed – following the Basra Road massacre of withdrawing soldiers and fleeing civilians on 26th/27th February – the US 24th Mechanised Infantry Division slaughtered thousands on 2nd March.“)
The Covert War on Syria
The US-NATO Covert War on Syria was initiated on March 15, 2011 with the incursion of Islamist mercenaries and death squads in the southern city of Daraa on the border with Jordan. The terrorists were involved in acts of arson as well as the killings of civilians. This incursion of terrorists was from the very outset supported covertly by the US, NATO and its Persian Gulf allies: Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
NATO’s “Humanitarian” R2P War on Libya
NATO commenced its bombing of Libya on March 19, 2011. The United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution on 26 February 2011 (UNSC Resolution 1970), (adopted unanimously).
A subsequent United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted on 17 March 2011. It authorized the establishment of “a no-fly zone” over Libya, and the use “all necessary measures” “to protect the lives of civilians”.
Libya was bombed relentlessly by NATO warplanes starting on March 19, 2011 for a period of approximately seven months.
On 25 March 2015, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the US launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Yemen.
The US and its NATO allies, not to mention Israel, are on a war footing.
Several military scenarios are currently on the drawing board of the Pentagon including Lebanon, North Korea and Iran.
We cannot speculate, however, regarding US-NATO war plans pertaining to the Ides of March 2018.
But for your information here is the latest New York Times (Feb 27) “authoritative” analysis of how North Korea is helping the Syrian government to wage a chemical war against the Syrian people. Nice and not fake, timely (Ides of March) and of course “carefully documented” by the Newspaper of Record.
Read More @ GlobalResearch.ca
from Don Quijones, Wolf Street:
There are rumors currently doing the rounds that Italy’s banking problems have finally been put to rest. The FTSE Italia All-Share Banks Index has soared about 40% over the last 12 months, about double the advance by the Euro Stoxx Banks Index. Six of the top seven gainers in the latter index this year are Italian.
The story of Italy’s non-performing loans, which just a year ago terrified global investors and posed a systemic threat to the entire Eurozone economy, “is over,” according to Fabrizio Pagani, the chief of staff at Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. Pagani believes that now that the banking sector is well and truly on the mend, work should begin to take consolidation of the sector to a new level.
“There are too many banks,” Pagani told Bloomberg. “And in this sense, Monte dei Paschi could play a role. I think this could start this year.”
There’s clearly lots of room for consolidation in Italy, home to roughly 500 banks, many of which are small local or regional savings banks with tens or hundreds of millions of euros in assets. At the top end of the scale, Italy’s ten biggest banks control roughly 50% of the industry. The goal is to increase thatto 70-75% to bring it more in line with the levels of banking concentration in other EU countries. In Spain, for example, the five biggest banks — Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia and Sabadell — control 72% of the market.
The problem is that, while last year’s bail out of Monte dei Paschi di Siena may have restored a certain amount of investor confidence to Italy’s banking sector, many of the largest banking groups are still extremely fragile, with stubbornly high non-performing loan (NPL) ratios. Even Intesa Sanpaolo, which is widely regarded as Italy’s most stable large bank, had a bad-loan ratio of 13% at the end of September, compared to a European average of 4.5%.
As such, trying to find suitable merger partners that are not going to drag each other further down is not going to be an easy task. Intesa is still trying to digest tens of billions of assets from Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca, the two mid-size collapsed banks it gobbled up at the government’s insistence in June last year. As for Unicredit, Italy’s only global systemically important bank (G-SIB), it’s barely back on its own two feet after successfully completing the biggest ever capital expansion in Italian history last year.
So, if the two biggest banks are most likely out of the equation for now, who could Pagani be thinking about? For the moment he says it’s too early to say.
But while Pagani keeps mum, Giovanni Razzoli, an analyst at Equita SIM, has identified five potential suitors — Monte dei Paschi di Siena (now majority owned by the State), Banco BPM, BPER Banca, Credito Valtellinese and Banca Carige — that could be merged into one mega-bank. He’s even given his masterplan a name, with suitably dark undertones: Project Overlord.
Three of the banks have one obvious thing in common: they have all been, or are in the process of being, rescued, either by taxpayers or shareholders, or a combination of both.
Despite being bailed out with €8.5 billion of taxpayer funds last year, in contravention of new EU rules on banking resolution, Monte dei Paschi is still far from out of the woods. In early February the bank reported total losses in 2017 of €3.5 billion, as a result of falling revenue, loan write-downs, and one-off charges. Since then its stock, which resumed trading on Oct. 25 after a 10-month hiatus, has tumbled over 15%. Now valued at €3.18, the shares are 51% below the €6.49 that Italian taxpayers paid during the latest rescue.
Then there’s mid-sized lender Carige, with assets of €26 billion. In December it completed a €500 million share issue that very nearly flopped. Together with a completed exchange of subordinated bonds into senior bonds and ongoing asset disposals, the capital increase is expected to raise about €1 billion of capital, according to rating agency Moody’s. The proceeds will largely be used to write down and then dispose of €1.9 billion of problem loans.
Credito Valtellinese (or Creval) is in a similar situation having reported a €332 million loss for 2017 in preparation for its own €700 million rights issue. Since then its shares have tumbled from €0.16 to €0.11 cents.
In other words, Operation Overload would involve joining at the hip three banks that are barely capable of standing on their own two feet, even with all the public and/or private support they’ve received, with two other banks — one of which (Banco BPM) is barely a year old after being spawned from the merger last year of two large cooperative banks, Banco Popolare and BPM.
For an indication of what could ensue one need only recall what happened to Spain’s very own frankenbank, Bankia, which was created in 2010 by melding together six failing regional savings banks with a larger and seemingly healthier lender, Caja Madrid. Less than a year after its public launch, in 2011, Bankia collapsed in such emphatic style that, to be reanimated, it needed the biggest ever public bailout in Spanish history.
Read More @ WolfStreet.com
by Chris Menahan, Information Liberation:
The South African parliament voted on Tuesday to move forward in amending their Constitution to allow for the confiscation of land from their white minority without compensation.
The move has come just twenty-four years after apartheid officially ended. Whites ended the apartheid system only with the explicit constitutional guarantee that their land would never be stolen, but now that they’ve become a small minority with rapidly dwindling political power that’s all gone out the window.
SOUTH Africa’s parliament has voted in favour of a motion that will begin the process of amending the country’s Constitution to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation.
The motion was brought by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, and passed overwhelmingly by 241 votes to 83 against. The only parties who did not support the motion were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the African Christian Democratic Party.
The Democratic Alliance is the party most white South Africans vote for. Whites make up less than half of the party and the entire party got only 22 percent of the vote in South Africa’s 2014 general election.
It was amended but supported by the ruling African National Congress and new president Cyril Ramaphosa, who made land expropriation a key pillar of his policy platform after taking over from ousted PM Jacob Zuma earlier this month.
“The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice,” Mr Malema was quoted by News24 as telling parliament. “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”
According to Bloomberg, a 2017 government audit found white people owned 72 per cent of farmland in South Africa.
Whites own the land because they colonized it and built it from nothing starting in the 1600’s. They literally “drained the swamps” covering many parts of South Africa and built giant farms in their place.
Read More @ InformationLiberation.com
by Nikhilesh De, CoinDesk:
Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro said the government has received more than 171,000 certified purchase orders for the petro, the country’s forthcoming cryptocurrency.
In a Twitter post, the country’s leader claimed that 40.8 percent of the purchase orders were in U.S. dollars, 6.5 percent were in euros, 18.4 percent were in ethereum and 33.8 percent were in bitcoin.
He further claimed that more than 3,500 companies placed bids for petro tokens. The remaining 82,000 purchasers are individuals, according to Venezuela-based news group teleSUR.
#ANUNCIO “Hasta el día de hoy hemos recibido 171 mil ofertas de intención de compras certificadas para el Petro, 40.8% en $, 6.5% en €, 18.4% en Ethereum , 33.8% en Bitcoin, de las cuales 3523 ofertas son de empresas” manifestó el Pdte. @NicolasMaduro pic.twitter.com/C6SLc4dUZq
— Prensa Presidencial (@PresidencialVen) 27 February 2018
No information was provided as to who the purchasers are, or what certification procedures were followed.
Despite these claims, the Caracas Chronicles pointed out that no petro tokens have yet been distributed to any potential purchasers.
Indeed, a look at the NEM transaction ledger shows that the Venezuelan government’s petro address still has ownership of all 100 million tokens.
Maduro last week claimed that the petro pre-sale, which will continue through the beginning of March, raised $735 million during its first day, as previously reported. However, he has not released any evidence to support this number.
Read More @ CoinDesk.com
by Don Quijones, Wolf Street:
The Spanish Government has a brand new cunning plan to fortify the country’s banking system, which was rocked last year by the collapse of the sixth biggest bank, Banco Popular. It wants the country’s Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF) to insure the entire bank deposits of large companies, even if those deposits exceed the current limit of €100,000, so that if a bank begins to wobble, its corporate customers don’t take their money out en masse.
The government hopes that the plan will be included in the new banking resolution rules being drawn up by EU banking authorities in the aftermath of Banco Popular’s quickfire resolution last year, the financial daily Cinco Dias reports.
If the law is passed, it would mean that corporate deposits of any amounts would be guaranteed in case of a bank’s resolution. The proposal apparently enjoys the enthusiastic support of Spain’s major banks, large companies, and the president of Spain’s Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB), Jaime Ponce. The government also wants the deposits of large public institutions to be covered without limit, as well as those of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).
The new law would help prevent large scale deposit flight, which became endemic during Spain’s banking crisis and was also instrumental in the collapse of Popular. According to Ponce, if the government’s newly proposed measure had been in force between May and June last year, the frantic run on the bank’s deposits from Popular would never have happened.
In its final days, Popular was bleeding funds at an average rate of €2 billion a day. Much of the money was being withdrawn by institutional clients, including global mega-fund BlackRock, Spain’s Social Security fund, Spanish government agencies, and city and regional councils, prompting accusationsthat Spain’s government was using insider knowledge to withdraw large amounts of public funds, which of course hastened Popular’s demise.
Between the end of March and its last day of trading, Popular shed €18 billion of deposits, roughly a quarter of the total. In the end, Europe’s Single Supervisory Mechanism decided that the bank could no longer cover its collateral. Popular, warts and all, was sold for €1 to Banco Santander, which had to raise €13 billion of fresh capital to digest the deal. At least part of those funds will be returned to Santander through tax credits.
If Popular’s institutional clients hadn’t been quite so worried about the safety of their deposits, Popular’s day of reckoning might have been postponed long enough to find a suitable partner willing to pay more than €1 to take over the bank. And Popular’s shareholders and junior bondholders wouldn’t have been so badly burned.
But there’s a problem with the plan. Spain’s Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF) doesn’t have nearly enough funds in its coffers to cover large institutional deposits. Like many other EU countries, Spain has not put enough into the fund to provide genuine coverage for bank deposits.
All EU bank deposits are guaranteed up to €100,000 per account holder, but in many countries the funds backing that guarantee are derisory. Under rules passed in 2014, EU member states need to have funds in deposit guarantee schemes equivalent to at least 0.8% of the covered deposits. Data provided by the European Banking Authority (EBA) show that at the end of 2016 Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands had guarantee funds equivalent to just 0.1% of covered deposits. In Spain the figure was around 0.2%, while in France and Germany it was 0.3%.
Some countries were already well above the 0.8% minimum target at the end of 2016, including Norway, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. As for those that aren’t, they have been given another seven years to meet any shortfalls, which is usually done by raising levies from banks. The hope, it seems, is that nothing untoward happens in the interim.
It’s not clear exactly how much money Spain’s DGF has in its coffers today. According to El Mundo, at the end of 2016, its total accumulated balance was €1.6 billion — far short of the €6.4 billion it’s supposed to have by 2024. In the last year, however, the fund has had to pay Banc de Sabadell some €900 million in guarantees on toxic real estate assets it sold at a significant loss. The assets previously belonged to CAM, a collapsed savings bank Sabadell took over in 2011. The DGF could have to shell out even more in guarantees on toxic real estate assets that hit the market over the course of this year.
Read More @ WolfStreet.com