Fidel Castro addressed the Cuban National Assembly for the first time since taking ill four years ago, and warned of an imminent nuclear war that will kill millions, and said the world needs to pressure Obama to avert the disaster.
Yes, he said the similar thing in June, too. But the reaction to his address?
"That's just for domestic Cuban politics." Or "He loves TV."
I sure hope so.
Fidel Castro Goes Live With Warning of Nuclear Holocaust
(Marc Frank, 8/7/2010 ABC News)
"Former Cuban President Fidel Castro warned today of imminent nuclear war and said the world's fate was in President Barack Obama's hands, as he addressed the Cuban National Assembly for the first time since taking ill four years ago.
"Castro said the most recent U.N. sanctions on Iran will trigger a nuclear holocaust if the United States inspects the country's ships come September, as called for in the June resolution.
"Only world pressure on Obama can avert the conflagration that will bring all major economies to a standstill, he said.
""In this critical situation President Barack Obama is the one who will have to give the order for this so-often announced and proclaimed attack," Castro said, calling on world leaders to weigh in with the U.S. president before it's too late.
"... Does anyone believe the powerful empire will back away from the sanctions' demand that Iranian merchant vessels be inspected?" Castro asked on Saturday.
""Does anyone think the Iranians, a people with a culture of thousands of years and which is much more intertwined with death than ours, will lack the courage we have shown in resisting the demands of the United States?" he continued, predicting Iran would respond to inspections by sinking the U.S. fleet and events would then quickly spiral out of control.
"The June sanctions call for Iranian ships to be searched if the country does not comply in 90 days with world demands it come clean concerning its nuclear activities.
""I doubt Fidel believes what he is saying. He is being dramatic, trying to stay relevant," a European diplomat quipped.
""The question we all have is what this means in terms of Cuba's domestic politics," he added." [The article continues.]
Fidel Castro is not alone in warning Obama. The Steering Group of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) sent a memorandum to Obama warning that Israel may bomb Iran as early as this month. (More on that and Israel's sovereign capture and arbitrage strategy, read my August 4 post.)
The video below is an interview of former US army colonel Ann Wright with Russia Today:
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Fidel Castro addressed the Cuban National Assembly for the first time since taking ill four years ago, and warned of an imminent nuclear war that will kill millions, and said the world needs to pressure Obama to avert the disaster.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Spanish police close public beach for Michelle Obama's £250,000 Spanish holiday (8/6/2010 Mail Online)
"Michelle Obama today faced a fresh wave of attacks over her lavish break in Spain with 40 friends, which could easily cost U.S. taxpayers a staggering £50,000 a day. [That's US$80,000 a day.]
"The First Lady has been lambasted for her extravagance at a time when the economy is still struggling. One blogger went so far as to brand her a modern-day Marie Antoinette.
"And her critics will be further annoyed when they learn that the president's wife had a Spanish beach closed off today so that she, her daughter and their entourage could go for a swim.
"Spanish police cleared off a stretch of beach at the Villa Padierna Hotel in Marbella after the Obamas had finished a busy day of sightseeing.
"Police used palm trees and police tape to mark off the boundaries of a 100-yard expanse for the American delegation. On either side, onlookers gawked - and police occasionally stopped and searched sun lovers if they strayed too close to the private party.
"It is unclear whether the police presence was paid for by Spain - or whether a nasty invoice could be landing in the lap of the American taxpayer.
"The exact cost of the trip is unclear as Mrs Obama, 46, and her friends are footing personal expenses themselves - which is just as well.
"... Whether or not the taxpaying American will be paying for meals, they will definitely be footing the bill for the First Lady's 68-strong security detail, her personal staff - and the use of presidential jet Air Force Two.
"The per diems for the secret service team runs at around £172 each, which amounts to nearly £60,000 [US$95,800] for the length of the summer break.
"Use of Air Force Two, the Air Force version of a 757, comes in at £91,900 [US$146,700] for the round trip. This does not include time on the ground.
"Mrs Obama's personal staff, of which there are an unknown amount and who might cost considerably more per day, also have to be taken into account.
"The American public will also cover the cost of the only official part of the holiday, a visit to the Spanish royal family on the island of Majorca.
"This will involve transport there and back for the entourage - as well as travel, accommodation, food and expenses for all while on the island.
"Conservative estimates already put the total cost at £150,000. With Majorca to come, the bill will be more like £250,000. [That's nearly US$400,000.]
"Back in the U.S., anger was mounting - especially as it has emerged the First Lady will have enjoyed eight holidays by the end of the summer." [The article continues.]
The White House mouthpiece Gibbs says Mrs. Obama is on a private trip. Yeah right. If that's the case, she should pay for her staff (more than 20 at the last count), secret service, the Air Force Two, Spanish police, everything. She should also compensate for the beach goers who were blocked access and had their bags searched. Her multi-millionaire husband (he may be worth over $10 million by now) can shell out a mere half million dollars for her and their daughter's little vacation, can't he?
Qu'ils mangent de la brioche...
HP's shares were down 10% in after-hour trading. It looks like an HP contractor alleged "sexual harrassment" when her relationship with Hurd ended and no more money coming her way...
HP CEO Mark Hurd Resigns Amidst Sexual Harassment Investigation
"HP CEO Mark Hurd has resigned over a sexual harassment allegation leveled by a former HP contractor. The company says an investigation by outside counsel found no sexual harassment violation, though there were violations of HP's Standards of Business Conduct. Updated
"The news comes by way of a press release just issued by the company. CFO Cathie Lesjak will serve as interim CEO while the Board of Directors searches for a new head. Shocking stuff (that naturally gets slipped in last thing Friday afternoon.) [BusinessWire]
"Update: Engadget hopped on the media call following the press release, which cleared things up a bit. HP's saying that Hurd "submitted inaccurate expense reports to conceal his relationship with the contractor, and that violated HP's standards of business conduct." There were apparently "numerous instances" and "HP paid the contractor's fees for services and her expenses [though] there was a question about whether her services were actually provided."
"Update 2: HP's stock is down 10% in after hours trading, according to SAI.
"Update 3: Apparently Hurd is receiving a generous $12 million severance package to ease the pain of this resignation. [SEC via Engadget]"
And here are select comments at GISMODO:
"Had only Hurd merely screwed the company over like Carly Fiorina did, he'd be a Senatorial candidate for California in four years."
"This confirms it: Billionaires are cheap people. I can't believe he used the company money to pay for their dates and what not."
"Is it me, or is everyone wondering what the services were?"
Chutzpah of the ruling class...
Here's the lineup for the next week's Weeklys, weekly options offered by the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE).
New entrants: MSFT (Microsoft), GDX (Market Vectors Gold Miner ETF)
Removed from the list: PFE (Pfizer), RIG (Transocean)
OEX S&P 100 Index (American style)
XEO S&P 100 Index European-style
DJX Dow Jones Industrial Average
SPX S&P 500 Index
NDX NASDAQ 100 Index
EEM iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index
FAS Direxionshares Daily Financial Bull 3X Shares
FAZ Direxionshares Daily Financial Bear 3X Shares
GLD ishares SPDR Gold Trust
GDX Market Vectors Gold Miner ETF
IWM iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund
QQQQ Nasdaq-100 Index Tracking Stock
SPY S&P 500 Depositary Receipts
USO United States Oil Fund
XLF Financial Select Sector SPDR
AAPL Apple Corporation
AMZN Amazon.com Inc
BAC Bank of America Corp
BIDU Baidu, Inc.
BP British Petroleum
CSCO Cisco SystemsInc.
DNDN Dendreon Corporation
F Ford Motors
GE General Electric Company
GOOG Google Inc
GS Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
MSFT Microsoft Corporation
I wonder who decides what and how, but I guess I wonder in vain. (Liberty 33 or 200 West.)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
and carbon-based traders and fund managers are calling it quits.
Financial Virus Permeates the System (Todd Harrison, 8/5/2010 Minyanville)
"We live in interesting times. Over the last two years, a financial virus spawned, infecting the economic and social spheres as a matter of course. This isn’t just about money anymore; our civil liberties, the foundation of free market enterprise, and the quality of life for future generations are dynamically shifting as we traverse our current course.
"I once offered that Shock & Awe was a tipping point through a historical lens. As Baghdad blew-up on CNN, I somberly sensed America would never be the same. That’s not a political statement -- we don’t know what would have been if we didn’t invade -- it’s simply an observation. World empathy turned to global condemnation, almost overnight.
"If we’ve learned anything through these years, it’s that unintended consequences tend to come full circle. Whether it’s the moral hazard of bailing out some banks, the gargantuan profits of a chosen few -- Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM), Bank America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), Wells Fargo (WFC) -- the caveats of percolating protectionism or the growing chasm of societal discord, times they are a-changin’ and it’s freaking people out.
"As The War on Capitalism intensifies, I expect financial fatigue to evolve in kind. We’ve already seen the burnout manifest in trading volume -- 70% of the flow are the robots -- and we’ve witnessed it in financial media, with reported viewership of some of CNBC’s marquee shows down as much as 25% year-over-year.
"Sun-tzu once said, “If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight, and if not, split and reevaluate.” As we navigate unchartered waters and sail through The Eye of the Financial Storm, an increasing number of people are weighing their options -- and some of the smarter folks I know are “going dark.”
"What does that mean? They’re selling businesses, unwinding trading operations, or otherwise insulating themselves from the capital markets. The underlying reasoning is straight out of an Ayn Rand novel: “I can’t compete and when I do, the rules of engagement change in the middle of the game. I’ll let the powers that be vanquish themselves and return in three to five years to sift through the remains.”" [The article continues.]
I stopped visiting his site (Minyanville.com) as often as I had used to when he supported the TARP by saying it would be better to treat a cancer than have a car crash (and we ended up a car crash and a terminal cancer). But he always strikes me as honest and compassionate, with not much of a hidden agenda.
Harrison ends his piece with these words [emphasis is mine]:
"As we grasp at The Last Gasp Bubble and attempt to operate in the best interests of ourselves and those whom we love, I simply wanted to share that some of the smarter folks in the know have chosen to extricate themselves from an increasingly tenuous struggle. I suppose, in a way, they’re lucky to have that option.
"I don’t know if this distancing qualifies as apathy but it most certainly warrants some thought provocation as we collectively find our way. I remain of the view that preparedness and perseverance are precursors to profound possibilities; we simply have to go through it to get through it.
"May peace be with you."
I hope we can all survive. (But "we" don't include the ruling class, as far as I'm concerned.)
and to help create 10,000 jobs in construction and garment manufacturing, all in Sri Lanka.
It is going to cost only $22 million to the US taxpayers. What a bargain.
I got the link to the article from David Kramer's post in LRC Blog at Lewrockwell.com.
U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers
(Paul McDougall, 8/3/2010 InformationWeek)
"Despite President Obama's pledge to retain more hi-tech jobs in the U.S., a federal agency run by a hand-picked Obama appointee has launched a $22 million program to train workers, including 3,000 specialists in IT and related functions, in South Asia.
"Following their training, the tech workers will be placed with outsourcing vendors in the region that provide offshore IT and business services to American companies looking to take advantage of the Asian subcontinent's low labor costs.
"Under director Rajiv Shah, the United States Agency for International Development will partner with private outsourcers in Sri Lanka to teach workers there advanced IT skills like Enterprise Java (Java EE) programming, as well as skills in business process outsourcing and call center support. USAID will also help the trainees brush up on their English language proficiency.
""To help fill workforce gaps in BPO [business process outsourcing] and IT, USAID is teaming up with leading BPO and IT/English language training companies to establish professional IT and English skills development training centers," the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, said in a statement posted Friday on its Web site.
""Courses in Business Process Outsourcing, Enterprise Java, and English Language Skills will be offered at no charge to over 3,000 under- and unemployed students who will then participate in on-the-job training schemes with private firms," the embassy said.
"USAID is also partnering with Sri Lankan companies in other industries, including construction and garment manufacturing, to help create 10,000 new jobs in the country, which is still recovering from a 30-year civil war that ended in 2009." [The article continues.]
What a joke.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Great chess players not only read the moves ahead but also narrow the choices left to the opponent in such a way that the opponent will make a move that will result in the checkmate.
I saw this article (linked below) yesterday at Zero Hedge, but I had read the similar articles elsewhere earlier. Even you haven't read any, it's not hard to figure out by yourself.
It is a sovereign capture and arbitrage, just like the financial crisis of 2008 and the European sovereign debt crisis of 2010 were a regulatory capture and arbitrage. You create a situation where the other party has no other choice but acting the way you want them - dump your garbage on the regulators (the government), and have taxpayers pay it, even if that's not the best interest of the regulators or the taxpayers. But the maneuver is such that the regulators and/or taxpayers feel they simply had to do it to "save the system". The TBTF Wall Street banks got bailed out by the US taxpayers, and the European taxpayers are presented with $1 trillion so that the big European (and the US) banks continue to get paid.
Israel is simply doing the same capture and arbitrage on a sovereign nation level. Instead of "too big to fail (TBTF)", it is "too special for the US to fail". With 46 Republican Congressmen as co-sponsors for the House Resolution (H.Res. 1553) giving Israel unconditional support on whatever it may do regarding Iran, and over 70% of the US population believes Iran already has nuclear weapons (it doesn't), it seems the checkmate is only one or two moves away.
But just so that they can say "We told you so", more than anything else, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity sent a letter to President Obama:
VIPS Sends Memo To Obama Warning Israel May Bomb Iran "As Early As This Month" (Tyler Durden, 8/3/2010 Zero Hedge)
"The Steering Group of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) which consists of Phil Giraldi, former CIA (20 years), Larry Johnson, former CIA; DoS, (24 years), W. Patrick Lang, Col., USA, Special Forces (ret.); Director of HUMINT Collection, Defense Intelligence Agency (30 years), Ray McGovern, US Army Intelligence Officer, CIA (30 years), Coleen Rowley, FBI (24 years), and Ann Wright, Col., US Army Reserve (ret.), (29 years); Foreign Service Officer, Department of State (16 years), have penned a memo to the president in an attempt to alert him "to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war." Read on for the full memo by the activist group.
First appearing in TruthOut
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: War With Iran
We write to alert you to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war.
Israel’s leaders would calculate that once the battle is joined, it will be politically untenable for you to give anything less than unstinting support to Israel, no matter how the war started, and that U.S. troops and weaponry would flow freely. Wider war could eventually result in destruction of the state of Israel.
This can be stopped, but only if you move quickly to pre-empt an Israeli attack by publicly condemning such a move before it happens."
The letter continues, and you can read it in its entirety at Zero Hedge or at the Truth Out.
Why this month? Because...
"Last week’s announcement that U.S. officials will meet next month with Iranian counterparts to resume talks on ways to arrange higher enrichment of Iranian low enriched uranium for Tehran’s medical research reactor was welcome news to all but the Israeli leaders.
"In addition, Iran reportedly has said it would be prepared to halt enrichment to 20 percent (the level needed for the medical research reactor), and has made it clear that it looks forward to the resumption of talks.
"Again, an agreement that would send a large portion of Iran’s LEU abroad would, at a minimum, hinder progress toward nuclear weapons, should Iran decide to develop them. But it would also greatly weaken Israel’s scariest rationale for an attack on Iran.
"Bottom line: with the talks on what Israel’s leaders earlier labeled a “trick” now scheduled to resume in September, incentive builds in Tel Aviv for the Israelis to attack before any such agreement can be reached.
"We’ll say it again: the objective is regime change..."
The letter also mentions Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has said that Pentagon has a war plan with Iran, just in case. Nonetheless, Admiral Mullen, who served in the Vietnam War, has been instrumental in preventing a blowup in the Middle East since the days of the previous administration under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
I am not very optimistic that Admiral Mullen will succeed this time, even though I hope and pray that he will. The US will end up with three open wars - Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, none of which has attacked the US. (Remember 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.) For Obama, it is a chance to become an overnight sensation among the Republican leadership and conventional Republicans in the flyover states. Most Democrats are no longer anti-war now that their party is the government. He wouldn't gain much by restraining Israel.
I'm sure the stock market will melt up when (not even if at this point) the attack takes place. Oil and gold will skyrocket, along with the US dollar, Treasuries, and everything else.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, ........ (fill in the blank).
US dollar is up, gold is up, oil was up (now flat), consumer discretionary is up, ag(riculture) is up.
US dollar being up is probably due to a technical rebound from oversold condition. Agriculture stocks (fertilizers, ag commodity ETF, etc) may be reacting to the Russian draught and wild fire destroying the fields. Probably flooding in Pakistan and on-going severe draught in India, too.
Gold, oil, consumer discretionary - they seem to be pricing in the imminent QE2.
The Federal Reserve is scheduled to have the FOMC meeting next week (Tuesday, August 10).
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Our increasingly-autocratic and -dictatorial government wants Wikipedia to remove the seal of the FBI.
FBI to Wikipedia: Remove our seal (John D. Sutter, 8/3/2010 CNN)
"(CNN) -- The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has threatened Wikipedia with legal action if the online encyclopedia doesn't remove the FBI's seal from its site.
"The seal is featured in an encyclopedia entry about the FBI.
"Wikipedia isn't backing down, however. The online encyclopedia -- which is run by a nonprofit group and is edited by the public -- sent a chiding letter to the FBI, explaining why, in its view, the FBI is off its legal rocker.
""In short, then, we are compelled as a matter of law and principle to deny your demand for removal of the FBI Seal from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons," the Wikimedia Foundation's general counsel, Mike Godwin, wrote in a letter to the FBI, which was posted online by the New York Times.
""We are in contact with outside counsel in this matter, and we are prepared to argue our view in court."
"The whimsically written letter from Wikipedia says the FBI's reading of relevant law is both "idiosyncratic" and "more importantly, incorrect." It also notes that the FBI's seal appears on other websites, including in an online entry from Encyclopedia Britannica.
"In a letter dated July 22, and also posted online by the Times, the FBI told Wikipedia it must remove the bureau's seal because the FBI had not approved use of the image.
""The FBI has not authorized use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia," the letter says. "The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting" copying and reprinting of the seal's image." [The article continues.]
The seal on Wikipedia could be used by domestic terrorists and criminals! We can't allow that, can we? It's for our safety that we should ban Wikipedia from using the FBI seal on their website!
Something like that?
From the New York Times article that is linked in the CNN article:
"Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the dust-up both “silly” and “troubling”; Wikipedia has a First Amendment right to display the seal, she said.
"“Really,” she added, “I have to believe the F.B.I. has better things to do than this.”"
Maybe the FBI is confusing Wikipedia with Wikileaks. They both start with "Wiki", you know...
Developed by the Joint Economic Committee minority, led by U.S Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, who released the chart.
"Brady admits committee analysts could not fit the entire health care bill on one chart. "This portrays only about one-third of the complexity of the final bill. It’s actually worse than this."
And remember, the Congress is EXEMPT from all this s--t.
Let Them Eat Cake (Paul Craig Roberts, Counterpunch.org weekend edition 7/30-8/1/2010)
"It is not unusual for members of the diminishing upper middle class to drop $20,000 or $30,000 on a big wedding. But for celebrities this large sum wouldn’t cover the wedding dress or the flowers.
"When country music star Keith Urban married actress Nicole Kidman in 2006, their wedding cost $250,000. This large sum hardly counts as a celebrity wedding. When mega-millionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump married model Melania Knauss, the wedding bill was $1,000,000.
"The marriages of Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones pushed up the cost of celebrity marriages to $1.5 million.
"Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes upped the ante to $2,000,000.
"Now comes the politicians’s daughter as celebrity. According to news reports, Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to investment banker Mark Mezvinsky on July 31 is costing papa Bill $3,000,000. According to the London Daily Mail, the total price tag will be about $5,000,000. The additional $2,000,000 apparently is being laid off on US Taxpayers as Secret Service costs for protecting former president Clinton and foreign heads of state, such as the presidents of France and Italy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who are among the 500 invited guests along with Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, and Clinton friend and donor Denise Rich, wife of the Clinton-pardoned felon.
"Before we attend to the poor political judgment of such an extravagant affair during times of economic distress, let us wonder aloud where a poor boy who became governor of Arkansas and president of the United States got such a fortune that he can blow $3,000,000 on a wedding." [The article continues.]
Ditto for Tony Blair.
Paul Craig Roberts ends his article by saying:
"Today in the American Superpower, one of every six Americans is living on food stamps.
"The Great American Superpower, which is wasting trillions of dollars in pursuit of world hegemony, has 22% of its population unemployed and almost 17% of its population dependent on welfare in order to stay alive.
"The world has not witnessed such total failure of government since the final days of the Roman Empire. A handful of American oligarchs are becoming mega-billionaires while the rest of the country goes down the drain."
"And the American sheeple remain acquiescent."
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Here we go...
Mullen says US has Iran strike plan, just in case
(Anne Gearan, 8/1/2010 AP via Yahoo News)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has a plan to attack Iran, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday, although he thinks a military strike is probably a bad idea.
Not long after Adm. Mike Mullen's aired on a Sunday talk show, the deputy chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard was quoted as saying there would be a strong Iranian response should the U.S. take military action against his country.
Mullen, the highest ranking U.S. military officer, often has warned that a strike on Iran would have serious and unpredictable ripple effects around the Middle East. At the same time, Mullen said the risk of Iran's developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, although he would not say which risk he thinks is worse.
"I think the military options have been on the table and remain on the table," Mullen said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "It's one of the options that the president has. Again, I hope we don't get to that, but it's an important option and it's one that's well understood."" [Emphasis is mine. The article continues.]
"It's the one that's well understood" - I take it to mean that it is the most "ready" option.
Mullen thinks "a strike on Iran would have serious and unpredictable ripple effects". Duh. He should know by now, after 7 years in Iraq.
The US military and the government had thought that Iraqi people would rise up against Saddam once the US invaded their country, and the US troops would be greeted by the grateful citizenry who would throw flowers as the US soldiers march.
Remember Paul "War will pay for itself" Wolfowitz?
Kenneth "Cakewalk" Adelman?
Dick "We will be greeted as liberators" Cheney?
Or Condoleezza "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud" Rice?
Or all these people, including Prez Bush, who claimed "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction"?
Isn't it scary to think what kind of assumptions that the military and the administration are making right now for Iran? (My guess: more of the same. And they think we will fall for those, again.)
Mullen says above that "the risk of Iran's developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable".
Unacceptable to whom? (Maybe here and here, even though the former has nuclear weapons already?)
The mere "risk" is unacceptable? Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon, and by the CIA's own estimate will not even have a capability for another 2 years. It is like arresting people because they may develop a dangerous thought of committing a crime in the future. (Oh, they are going in that direction, aren't they?)