Nearly half of all Americans oppose the Republican tax bill, poll finds

Demonstrators take part in a protest against tax cuts for rich people as the Empire State Building is seen at the background in New York City November 27, 2017.
Demonstrators take part in a protest against tax cuts for rich people as the Empire State Building is seen at the background in New York City November 27, 2017

Opposition has grown among Americans to a Republican tax plan before the U.S. Congress, with 49 percent of people who were aware of the measure saying they opposed it, up from 41 percent in October, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday. Congressional Republicans are trying to rush their tax legislation to a vote on the Senate floor before the end of the week. President Donald Trump strongly backs the bill and wants to sign it into law before the end of the year. In addition to the 49 percent who said they opposed the Republican tax bill, 29 percent said they supported it and 22 percent said they “don’t know,” according to the Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll of 1,257 adults conducted from Thursday to Monday. When asked “who stands to benefit most” from the plan, more than half of all American adults surveyed selected either the wealthy or large U.S. corporations. Fourteen percent chose “all Americans,” 6 percent picked the middle class, and 2 percent chose lower-income Americans. The tax bill being crafted in the Senate would slash the corporate tax rate, eliminate some taxes paid only by rich Americans and offer a mixed bag or temporary tax cuts for other individuals and families. As congressional discussion on the bill has unfolded, public opposition to it has risen, on average, following Trump’s unveiling of a nine-page “framework” on Sept. 27 that started the debate in earnest, Reuters/Ipsos polling showed.

Sears’ stock soars as net loss narrows, while sales fall on store closures

Shares of Sears Holdings Corp. after the troubled department store chain reported fiscal third-quarter losses that narrowed from a year ago. The net loss for the quarter to Oct. 28 was $558 million, or $5.19 a share, compared with $748 million, or $6.99 a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue fell to $3.66 billion from $5.03 billion, with store closures contributing to over half of the decline. Also hurting sales were reductions in pharmacies at Kmart stores and the reduction of consumer electronics assortments in both Kmart and Sears stores. Same-store sales fell 15.3%, amid a 13.0% decline at Kmart stores and a 17.0% decrease at Sears stores. There weren’t enough analyst estimates provided to FactSet to produce consensus estimates for Sears’ results. There were 510 Kmart stores and 594 Sears stores, for a total of 1,104 stores as of Oct. 28, compared with 801 Kmart stores and 702 Sears stores, for a total of 1,503 stores a year ago. Sears said it would continue to look to diversify revenue streams through third-party partnerships, and look to build on momentum around appliances and mattresses. The stock had tumbled 55% year to date through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.82% had climbed 17%. Nick Bit: I don’t care if they want to rally this stock.  Its lost have a billion dollars and same store sales off 15%. Will someone please take them out back and shoot them to stop the suffering.

Sen. John McCain says he’ll vote for Senate GOP tax plan

(CNN)Sen. John McCain said Thursday he will support Senate Republicans’ tax plan, a major sign of progress for GOP leaders as the party barrels toward a vote on their overhaul of the US tax system by the end of the week. McCain, who had remained a wild card and had kept his position on the tax bill unclear even from leadership, said that he came to support the legislation because he believed it had gone through committee and would improve the economic outcome of Americans. “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill. I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families,” McCain said in a released statement Thursday morning. “For months, I have called for a return to regular order, and I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote.” Republicans have 52 members in the Senate, and could only afford to lose two votes and still pass their legislation.

For GOP leaders, McCain’s decision to support the measure is equal parts major victory and relief. One senior GOP aide said earlier this week his position was “a black box,” and members and staff were consciously giving him space to come to a final decision.
McCain’s opposition to the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, combined with the partisan nature of the recent process and the stinging defeat he provided the party on health care, left top GOP aides to speculate he may eventually oppose the measure. McCain, who at one point spoke positively of the process, was less forthcoming in recent weeks, raising concerns he had shifted his view.

Bannon Says Trump Unable to Survive Impeachment Vote – Reports

According to a poll, support for Donald Trump’s impeachment has risen among US citizens, former White House strategist Stephen Bannon has commented on Trump’s chances of surviving an impeachment vote.

U.S. President Donald Trump (R), trailed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, arrives to speak to reporters after their meeting at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S. August 11, 2017

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Former White House strategist Stephen Bannon believes that US President Donald Trump most likely would not be able to keep his post in the event of an impeachment vote, if it took place, the magazine Vanity Fair reported. According to the magazine, citing sources, Bannon had conducted a study, on which members of the government would remain loyal to Trump, if the 25th amendment to the US Constitution (on early termination of the president’s duties) were applied. Bannon and ex-adviser to Trump’s campaign headquarters, Roger Stone, believe that the representatives of the Republican Party “are waiting for a chance to impose a Trump impeachment,” the report said. “One thing Steve wants Trump to do is take this more seriously. Stop joking around. Stop tweeting,” a source close to Bannon said, as quoted by the publication. According to the publication’s sources, Bannon told Trump during telephone calls on Monday and Tuesday that the president needed to install an assertive lawyer to stand above his lawyer Ty Cobb, who is in charge of managing issues related to the ongoing investigations into alleged Russian interference in the election and possible collusion by Moscow with the Trump campaign. Also, Bannon discussed two methods of putting pressure on Congress, in order to deprive US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of financing or limit its scope. The US Congress is currently investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in last year’s US presidential election. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been carrying out a similar investigation.

Scarborough: Trump Has ‘Early Stages of Dementia,’ Must Be Removed from Office

‘People close to him during the campaign told me had early stages of dementia’

President Trump has “early stages of dementia,” according to sources close to the president, Joe Scarborough claimed Thursday morning. ‘Morning Joe’ Hosts Respond To Trump Tweets With Blackmail Allegation The MSNBC morning anchor, who took angry exception to Trump suggesting Wednesday that the mysterious 2001 death of intern in then-Congressman Scarborough’s office deserved further investigation, today accused the president of being mentally unfit to remain office. Scarborough called on Trump’s cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. (That amendment, adopted in 1967, deals with replacing a president who is no longer able to “discharge the powers and duties of his office.”)  “He is completely detached from reality, we had a New York Times and Washington Post piece saying so a couple of days ago, and the question is Mika,” Scarborough said, “if this is not what the 25th Amendment was drafted for, I would like the cabinet members serving America, not serving the president” to act accordingly.  The host repeatedly warned that America was on the brink of nuclear war. “We are headed towards a nuclear showdown,” the anchor said. “Most insiders say, Richard [Haas] has said it matches everything we’ve heard from inside the administration, we are closer to war on the Korean peninsula that most Americans know, we heard this months ago, that we are going to have a ground war in Korea, they believe that inside the White House for a very long time.”  Scarborough called on the cabinet to remove Trump from office, saying Americans lives are “literally” at stake.

 

Yellen: $20 trillion national debt ‘should keep people awake at night’

With Congress wrestling over a tax reform plan that critics say would explode the government budget deficit, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she also is concerned over the surging level of public debt.

A Senate committee passed the GOP-sponsored proposal, which would slash the corporate tax rate and lower individual income rates for many Americans.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on the U.S. economic outlook, before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., November 29, 2017.
Janet Yellen: Gradual rate increases will be appropriate

However, the price tag of the plan is in the area of $1.5 trillion at a time when the Congressional Budget Official already is projecting a deficit of more than $1 trillion in the years ahead and with the total debt level at $20.6 trillion and rising. Of that total, $14.9 trillion is owed by the public. The Trump administration contends that the lower tax rates would pay for themselves through growth. In her semiannual testimony before Congress, Yellen was asked about a proposal that would trigger tax hikes if economic goals are not met. The central bank chief did not specifically comment on the trigger plan but said Congress is right to be thinking about the future of the national debt. “I would simply say that I am very worried about the sustainability of the U.S. debt trajectory,” Yellen said. “Our current debt-to-GDP ratio of about 75 percent is not frightening but it’s also not low.” “It’s the type of thing that should keep people awake at night,” she added. The Fed has critics of its own, though, who say that the central bank helped balloon the debt through low interest rates kept in place since the financial crisis. The Fed kept its benchmark rate anchored near-zero for seven years, from December 2008 through December 2015. During that time, the national debt grew 77 percent. Under Yellen, the Fed has hiked rates four times and begun to slowly shrink its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

AARP: 5.2 million seniors could see taxes increased by GOP bill

AARP: 5.2 million seniors could see taxes increased by GOP bill
© Greg Nash

Millions of senior citizens could see tax increases under the Senate’s version of the GOP’s tax reform plan, according to an analysis from the AARP.In an article published Wednesday on the group’s website, the AARP’s vice president and policy director argue that one in five seniors, about 6.3 million taxpayers, will see either no change or a tax increase in 2019 under the plan passed by the Senate Finance Committee. Of those individuals, 1.2 million people would get a tax hike. The authors argue that number will jump “more than four times” by 2027 to 5.2 million seniors “as a result of sunsetting the [Finance Committee’s] middle-class tax cuts.” Another issue of concern for older Americans, the AARP says, is the automatic cuts to Medicare and other services under the GOP plan. “The bottom line is that even today’s 65+ as well as those who turn 65 by 2027 who benefit initially may end up paying higher and ever increasing taxes soon thereafter,” the authors write. “Further, as the result of growing deficits, they may receive reduced value from Medicare or other programs that are central to older Americans’ wellbeing.” The Senate Finance Committee approved the chamber’s tax bill earlier this month, and on Tuesday, the Senate Budget Committee advanced the bill on a part-line vote. It will now head to the full Senate floor for a vote. Protesters repeatedly interrupted Tuesday’s Budget Committee meeting, chanting phrases such as “stop the tax scam” and “kill the bill.” Thirty-six demonstrators were arrested by Capitol Police. A similar bill passed the House earlier this month, by a margin of 227-205 with no Democratic support. More than a dozen Republicans broke ranks to oppose it.

Special counsel delays grand jury testimony amid signs of Flynn deal talks

(CNN)Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has postponed an anticipated grand jury testimony linked to his investigation into Michael Flynn amid growing indications of possible plea deal discussions. Additional witnesses were expected to be questioned soon including a public relations consultant hired by Flynn’s lobbying firm who was given an early December date deadline to appear before the grand jury, according to a person at the company. Ahead of the delay, the impression was that the testimony needed to happen soon, the source said. “Time seems to be of the essence,” said the source at Sphere Consulting, the PR firm where the consultant worked. The grand jury testimony was postponed, the person said, with no reason given. There could be many reasons for a delay, including scheduling issues.

Flynn's lawyers no longer sharing information with Trump's legal team
The consultant’s expected testimony comes as the investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser’s business dealings has taken a new turn. Flynn’s attorney told Trump’s legal team last week that he would no longer share information about the investigation, a move that signals Flynn is beginning conversations with the government that could involve a plea deal or a cooperation agreement. ABC News reported that Flynn’s attorney met with special counsel’s attorneys on Monday. Sphere’s government relations arm, SGR LLC Government Relations and Lobbying, is one of several companies Flynn Intel Group hired to work for Inovo BV, a Netherlands-based company owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, according to filing made by Flynn Intel Group under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Inovo hired Flynn to research Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of being behind the 2016 attempted military coup to overthrow him, the filing said.
Inovo paid Flynn’s group $530,000 for the research, which was supposed result in a video documentary but it was never finished. Sphere’s SGR was paid $40,000. Sphere has been cooperating for months with the investigation. The inquiry was originally opened before the appointment of the special counsel, according to the source. Sphere, which was subpoenaed around June, was described as “a cooperating witness at best.” Sphere has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Saudi prince freed after reportedly paying more than $1 billion Ransom

Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was released on Tuesday 29th November, 2017 after reportedly reaching a settlement deal with authorities of over $1 billion.

Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was released on Tuesday 29th November, 2017 after reportedly reaching a settlement deal with authorities of over $1 billion. Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, detained earlier this month in a corruption crackdown, has been released after paying authorities more than $1 billion for his freedom, according to media reports.

Once seen as a contender to the throne, Prince Miteb was among hundreds of other political and business figures rounded up in a sudden anti-corruption purge at the start of November. The 64-year old cousin of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was said to have been released on Tuesday after reaching an “acceptable settlement agreement,” Reuters reported, citing a government source .

 

One-third of US workers could be jobless by 2030 due to automation: McKinsey

Robots artificial intelligence
iLexx | Getty Image

As much as one-third of the United States workforce could be out of a job by 2030 thanks to automation, according to new research from McKinsey. The consulting firm now estimates that between 400 million and 800 million individuals globally could be displaced by automation and need to find new work. “Even if there is enough work to ensure full employment by 2030, major transitions lie ahead that could match or even exceed the scale of historical shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing,” according to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute published this month. “Even as it causes declines in some occupations, automation will change many more – 60 percent of occupations have at least 30 percent of constituent work activities that could be automated.” Professions most susceptible to automation include physical ones in “predictable environments,” including operating machinery and preparing fast food, according to the research. Alternatively, automation will have a more muted effect on jobs that involve managing people, expertise, and those that require frequent social interactions. “Unpredictable” jobs such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and elder-care are also less likely to see automation over the next decade as they remain challenging to automate and don’t usually earn high wages, according to McKinsey. This selective effect on the workforce has many worried that income inequality could continue to worsen in the United States. “Income polarization could continue in the United States and other advanced economies,” noted the research. “If reemployment is slow, frictional unemployment will likely rise in the short-term and wages could face downward pressure.”

 

Trump telling friends Mueller probe will be done by end of year: report

Trump telling friends Mueller probe will be done by end of year: report
© Getty Images

President Trump has told friends in recent days that he’s confident special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia will be done by the end of the year, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. “This investigation’s going to be over with pretty soon,” Trump told friends at his Mar-a-Lago estate and golf club in Florida, according to the newspaper. Mueller was appointed special counsel in May to investigate possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Last month, Mueller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a former Manafort associate, Richard Gates, on money laundering charges. George Papadapoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In the aftermath of Mueller’s first indictments in the probe, the White House said it felt confident the investigation would be wrapping up in the near future.  White House special counsel Ty Cobb said earlier this month that he believes Mueller’s teams will ideally conclude interviews after Thanksgiving, and the entire probe would be resolved in early January.

Feds issue permit for offshore drilling in U.S. Arctic waters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Italian energy company has received permission to drill oil exploration wells in U.S. Arctic waters.  The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced Tuesday it approved an application from Eni U.S. Operating Co. Inc. to drill in the Beaufort Sea.  Exploratory drilling could start next month. The drilling will take place from Spy Island, a gravel artificial island near Prudhoe Bay. Eni already has 18 production wells on the island that extract oil from submerged state lands. Eni will use extended-reach drilling techniques to reach federal submerged lands. Environmental groups oppose additional Arctic Ocean drilling. Kristen Monsell of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement says a major spill would threaten coastal communities and Arctic wildlife.

Wells Fargo to exit personal insurance business

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) said it would exit the personal insurance business and immediately begin winding down marketing and product promotion activity.The sign outside the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking  Wells Fargo’s personal insurance business includes auto, homeowners, renters and umbrella insurance products. The business’ financial contribution was not material to the company, according to the bank’s statement on Tuesday. Wells Fargo has been working for more than a year to recover from a sales scandal that has impacted several of its consumer businesses, including some insurance products. The bank has also been working to cut costs as profits have fallen due in part to legal and regulatory problems. Wells, the third-largest U.S. lender by assets, has already exited several other insurance businesses, including crop insurance, which it sold in 2016. It announced a deal in June to sell its commercial insurance business. That deal has yet to close. The personal insurance business is the last remaining insurance brokerage agency Wells Fargo owns.

Oil prices fall after U.S. inventory reading shows spike

Getty Images

Oil price pullesd back further on Wednesday after an American Petroleum Institute release indicated a surprise increase in U.S. crude supplies. The API reported late Tuesday that U.S. crude supplies climbed by 1.8 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 24, according to sources. The API data showed a fall of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline stockpiles, while inventories of distillates climbed by 2.7 million barrels, sources said. Prices could drop further if the API’s reading is confirmed by government figures on Wednesday. But analysts polled by S&P Global Platts expect the Energy Information Administration to report a decline of 3 million barrels for crude inventories, a rise of 1.1 million barrels for gasoline and an increase of 160,000 barrels for distillate supplies. The EIA release is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. At Thursday’s meeting of major oil producers, an ongoing production-cap agreement is expected to be extended deeper into 2018. Most analysts see the deal as running throughout next year. Nick Note: This oil rally is doomed… its pure and simple desperation by OPEC members that need to buy weapons so they can kill each other off. If they never had oil we would never hear about these savages… who ALL murder and maim in the name of GOD.

ECB warns of global market correction after excessive risk-taking

The European Central Bank (ECB) warned Wednesday that despite the improved economic growth in the euro area there are concerns related to a sudden increase in volatility. “Systemic stress indicators for the euro area have remained low over the past six months,” the ECB said in a statement on Wednesday, but added that “the risk of a rapid repricing in global markets nevertheless remains.” Markets have been on the bullish side throughout the year and many continue to push further into record territory

The ECB believes there is the risk that this overall sense of optimism is miscalculated, which could end up shaking financial markets once money managers realize they took on more risk than they could handle.

“Continued compression of risk premia, subdued volatility and signs of increased risk-taking behavior in global financial markets are all sources of concern, as they may sow the seeds for large asset price corrections in the future,” the ECB outlined in its Financial Stability Review report.

Attorney General Sessions is reluctant to open investigations into Hillary Clinton

Conservative pressure on Sessions grows

Conservative pressure on Sessions grows
© Camille Fine

Frustration is mounting on the right over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s apparent reluctance to open investigations into Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. President Trump has openly expressed his disappointment in Sessions and what he views as the attorney general needlessly recusing himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, which paved the way for the special counsel investigation that is in part probing the Trump campaign. “The fact that the Justice Department hasn’t come out and confirmed an investigation or talked about one publicly shouldn’t be interpreted in any way that the investigation does or does not exist,” the official said. “It’s only a confirmation that this Justice Department doesn’t look for snappy headlines or leak under pressure.” Independent legal experts say the attorney general is in a tough spot. There is roiling anger on the right at Mueller’s investigation, prompting new demands that Sessions open probes into Democrats as well. But special counsel investigations are exceedingly rare — Mueller’s is only the second in history. They also require a specific set of circumstances to launch. Any new investigation is sure to be seen as a partisan response to growing pressure on Sessions from the White House and conservative media. “It’s difficult, particularly when you’re the party in power, because you’ll come under criticism for using the Justice Department to damage a political opponent, in this case a former presidential candidate,” said Robert Ray, the former independent counsel during the Clinton administration’s Whitewater controversy.

 

North Korea has fired most powerful ballistic missile yet

Pyongyang has conducted its first missile launch after a two-month lull, reigniting tensions in the region

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

North Korea has conducted a night test of a long-range ballistic missile which landed off the coast of Japan, triggering a South Korea test-launch in response and bringing a return to high tension to the region after a lull of more than two months. The Pentagon issued a statement saying that the weapon tested was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Initial reports from Seoul suggested that it came from a mobile launcher, and was fired at about 3am local time. The missile was reported to have flown for 50 minutes, on a very high trajectory reaching 4,500 km above the earth (more than ten times higher than the orbit of Nasa’s International Space Station) before coming down nearly 1,000 km from the launch site off the west coast of Japan.

 

Breaking News: North Korea launches ballistic missile

Washington (CNN)North Korea fired a ballistic missile early Wednesday local time, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. CNN confirmed the launch with the South Korean military leaders who said it was still flying. US defense and intelligence officials had been growing increasingly puzzled as to why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had not tested a ballistic missile in nearly two months. Before Wednesday’s test, North Korea had fired 22 missiles without active warheads during 15 tests since February. US officials say North Korea is continuing to develop its missiles, rocket fuel and engines, as well as targeting and guidance systems.

The US believes Pyongyang may be able to put a miniaturized warhead on a missile — giving it the theoretical capability to launch a missile with a NUCLEAR warhead atop that could attack the US. Nick Note: This is a developing story i am told this may be  his biggest missile  yet

Pelosi, Schumer say they won’t meet Trump after his tweet

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday they won’t attend meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump, following his tweet that he doesn’t see a deal to keep the government operating. In a joint statement, they said they asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to meet them instead. “We’re going to continue to negotiate with Republican leaders who may be interested in reaching a bipartisan agreement,” they said. The government is funded through Dec. 8. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, “I don’t see a deal!”

Trump: ‘I don’t see a deal’ to avoid government shutdown

“Meeting with “Chuck and Nancy” today about keeping government open and working,” Trump tweeted.

“Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!”

Democrats have demanded that a funding deal include language to protect young immigrants known as “Dreamers” who are threatened with deportation next year because of Trump’s ending of an Obama-era program.

A current funding bill, brokered in a September surprise deal between Trump and Democrats that caught Republicans off-guard, expires on Dec. 8. The deal also irritated Congressional Republicans and conservatives, which might explain Trump’s tweet on Tuesday.

In the past, Trump has flirted with the idea of a government shutdown, saying that it might be necessary in order to win support for a wall on the Mexican border.

There has been some talk of a short-term deal, lasting a matter of weeks, that could provide time for the White House and lawmakers to negotiate a longer funding deal for the rest of the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30.

 

 

Sen. Bob Corker: ‘I’ve been a deficit hawk for 11 years’ and don’t want to damage the nation with tax vote

Sen. Bob Corker
Sen. Bob Corker: We’ve been working on a ‘backstop’ in case economic growth can’t pay for tax cuts

Republican Sen. Bob Corker told CNBC on Tuesday he’s on the fence about the crucial tax reform vote because he doesn’t want to “damage the nation over the long haul.” During an interview with “Squawk Box,” Corker suggested he could oppose the Republican tax bill in a procedural Senate Budget Committee vote Tuesday. He said a trigger mechanism to curb future budget deficits could help to win his vote. The full Senate may vote this week on the tax package. Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, so the administration cannot afford to lose more than two GOP votes since Democrats are united in their opposition to the proposal. Since Trump took office, the GOP-led Congress has failed in several major initiatives, including the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. The Tennessee Republican, who recently spoke out against President Donald Trump, said it is “ridiculous” that anyone could claim he would vote against something “that’s good policy because of some rift that’s occurring.” “It’s just absolutely untrue,” Corker said. “I’ve been in the Senate for 11 years. I’ve been a deficit hawk for 11 years,” Corker added. “I’ve been working with the administration on almost every level throughout this entire episode.” Corker said White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called him to “thank him” for working with the administration on the tax bill. “So, it’s ridiculous statement to think that on a policy this big, that’s going to affect what you might do.” Corker, who is not seeking re-election next year, called Trump last month an “utterly untruthful president” and suggested the president should stay out of the tax-writing process. Trump at the time contended the Tennessee Republican is “fighting” tax cuts and “couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”

Elizabeth Warren ‘really couldn’t believe’ Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ comment

Washington (CNN)Sen. Elizabeth Warren says President Donald Trump’s reference to his nickname for her — “Pochahontas” — at an event honoring Navajo veterans Monday was just a distraction from other issues. “He’d sure like to talk about something else,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Monday night in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I just want to thank you because you are very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said. “Although, we have a representative in Congress who has been here a long time … longer than you — they call her Pocahontas!” Warren said she “really couldn’t believe” Trump’s comment. “There he was, at a ceremony to honor Native Americans, men who have really put it all on the line to save American lives, to save lives of people, our allies, during World War II, really amazing people. And President Trump couldn’t even make it through a ceremony to honor these men without throwing in a racial slur,” Warren told Cooper on “Anderson Cooper 360.” Trump has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of Warren’s Native American heritage claims, including during his presidential bid. In June 2016, Trump told NBC News in a phone interview that Warren “made up her heritage, which I think is racist. I think she’s a racist, actually, because what she did was very racist.” Warren said Monday that she had learned about her family from her parents and grandparents. “I learned about my family the way that most people learn about their families,” Warren said. “My brothers and I learned from our mother and our daddy and our grandparents who we are. And that’s it. That’s how we learned it. That’s what we know.” When asked about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ suggestion on Monday that Warren had used it as a way to advance her career, the senator said she “never used it to get ahead.” “Never. I never used it to get ahead I never used it to get into school. I never used it to get a job. Look, this is just a way for Donald Trump to be able to try to get somebody talking about something other than what he’s doing,” Warren said. Nick Bit: with all the issues our leaders and i use the term leaders loosely have to deal with who needs this stupid shit. Trump is becoming an embarrassment to the office… who gives a rats ass

Oil prices fall on pipeline restart, uncertainty over OPEC output cuts

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices slipped in Asian trade on Tuesday amid uncertainty over a possible extension of output cuts by major crude producers and expectations of higher supply as the Keystone pipeline restarts. TransCanada Corp said it would restart the 590,000 barrel-per-day pipeline at reduced pressure later on Tuesday after getting approval from U.S. regulators. Uncertainty over Russia’s determination to join with other major oil producers in extending crude production curbs beyond next March has weighed on oil markets.  Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other key producers, including Russia, will meet on Nov. 30 to discuss whether to continue with the cuts after they agreed last January to withhold 1.8 million bpd of output. United Arab Emirates energy minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui said on Tuesday that while the meeting would not be easy, he was personally optimistic producers would reach an agreement that served the market. Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the oil market should wait for the outcome of this week’s OPEC meeting when asked on Tuesday in Dubai about how long producers might extend their cuts.

Russia’s economy was negatively affected in October by the ongoing curbs, which saw Moscow agree to cut output by 300,000 bpd, Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin said on Nov. 23.

Goldman Sachs said the outcome of the meeting was “much more uncertain than usual”, adding that the market faced downside risks. “We view risks to oil prices as skewed to downside this week as we believe current prices, time spreads and positioning already reflect a  Some traders are starting to consider the possibility that while producers will agree to extend the curbs, the scale of the output cuts will be reduced from the current 1.8 million bpd, said Ric Spooner at Sydney’s CMC Markets. “It would provide continued certainty for the market, avoiding the sharp sell-off that could accompany a cold turkey exit … (and) mitigate the risk to OPEC and Russia of precipitating further loss of market share by encouraging competitors with higher prices,” Spooner said. Nick Bit: Absolutely positively sooner or later this “rebalancing” will fail. And oil will collapse once again.

Wells Fargo in hot water again for overcharging clients…Key word here: AGAIN!!!

The bank, already reeling from a series of fines and penalties caused by overly aggressive management goals, discovered that it had charged 265 of 300 examined foreign-exchange customer accounts higher fees than agreed to.The fees were charged by employees hoping to hit lofty goals to keep their jobs or to gain bonuses, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the fees.

The overcharging was brought to light via an internal probe and discussed during a June conference call with forex bankers. Nick Bit: Help me count here. They revealed it to insiders in June and now its November 5 months later. I see is this part of their new HA HA AH transparency. They are scum bags… and be warned dead broke scum bags.

Putin could be about to send the oil markets into a tailspin

Oil traders eagerly anticipating an extension of the current OPEC-led production cut could be left sorely disappointed this week, according market analysts including RBC Capital Market’s Helima Croft

OPEC oil ministers will be in Vienna Thursday and there is widespread expectation that members will decide to extend oil output cuts beyond a deadline of March 2018, a move that has helped to stabilize prices. However, there is some anxiety that the biggest non-OPEC producer that also signed up to the output cut, Russia, could pull out of an extension, sending markets sharply lower.  Helima Croft noted that Putin had led the market on with talk of a full-year extension, saying it could disappoint traders if Russia decided to break up its oil pact with Saudi Arabia. “Before he (Putin) said that no one was thinking about a full-year extension and then OPEC went to work on a full-year extension so now that is the market expectation. So we’re set for a disappointment if Russia doesn’t show up for the ‘bromance’ (with Saudi Arabia) anymore,” she said. The price of oil collapsed from near $120 a barrel in June 2014 due to weak demand, a strong dollar and booming U.S. shale production. OPEC’s reluctance to cut output was also seen as a key reason behind the fall. But, the oil cartel soon moved to curb production — along with other oil-producing nations — in late 2016. The exporters reached the current deal last November and have already extended the agreement once through March 2018. There are differing budgetary needs between Russia and its OPEC ally Saudi Arabia that Putin has to consider. While Russia is basing its 2018 budget on an oil price of $40 a barrel, OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia needs a higher price per barrel to break-even, requiring $70 a barrel in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and as such sees cutting for longer as a way to achieve this.

Chance of US stock market correction now at 70 percent: Vanguard Group

Hazir Reka | Reuters

Don’t panic….. Bullshit their is big bad bear market coming you damn right you should PANIC!

There is now a 70 percent chance of a U.S. stock market correction, according to research conducted by fund giant Vanguard Group. There is always the risk of a correction in stocks, but the Vanguard research shows that the current probability is 30 percent higher than what has been typical over the past six decades.

Vanguard manages roughly $5 trillion in assets and is a proponent of long-term investing,  according to Vanguard’s chief economist Joe Davis, investors do need to be prepared for a significant downturn.

 

“The risk premium, whether corporate bond spreads or the shape of yield curve, or earnings yields for stocks, have continued to compress,” Davis said. “We’re starting to see, for first time … some measures of expected risk premiums compressed below areas where we think it can be associated with fair value.” Many market participants have worried in recent months about the flattening in the yield curve — the spread between 2-year note yields and 10-year yields — at the lowest level since before the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the spread between junk bond yields and Treasurys recently has moved closer to the level before the financial crash than the long-term historical average.

 

“The next five years will be challenging, and investors need to have their eyes wide open.” -Joe Davis, Vanguard Group chief economist

The Vanguard research also suggests that an allocation to bonds may prove more important in the coming years. “There is greater risk in the equity market than bond market,” Davis said. Bank of America wrote in a recent note that the current bull market will be the longest in history if it continues, while the outperformance of stocks vs. bonds, at seven years running, would be the longest streak since 1929. Right before the Great Depression! Nick Note: the warning of the crash are everywhere. Amazing how the sold out Wall Street owned financial press does not want you to know the Truth. This will reduce most prosperous people to poverty.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin says bitcoin has ‘elements of the tulip bulb mania’

 Citadel’s Ken Griffin said that bitcoin may be in a bubble.
The tulip craze happened in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century where the price of the flower skyrocketed. The result was a crash of that market in 1637.
Citadel’s Ken Griffin: Worried about how bitcoin bubble might end
 

“Bitcoin right now has many of the elements of the tulip bulb mania we saw back hundreds of years ago in Holland,” said the billionaire hedge fund manager in an exclusive interview with CNBC’s Leslie Picker. Griffin, however, said he does believe the blockchain technology backing the cryptocurrency is valid. “Blockchain’s a very interesting technology that will have some very profound applications for society over the years to come,” he said. Blockchain creates a quick, permanent and secure record of transactions, eliminating the need for a third party such as a bank. Banks and other large corporations are testing how blockchain can help improve everything from supply chain management to global payments. Digital currency bitcoin climbed more than $1,000 in a week to a record high of $9,732.76 on Monday morning, according to CoinDesk. The cryptocurrency has climbed 50 percent in November alone and now has a market value of about $161 billion, slightly more than General Electric. “I think what is happening is people confuse bitcoin with blockchain,” Griffin said. “I get very worried that people that are buying bitcoins don’t really understand what they’re participating in other than the headline stories that it keeps going higher and ‘I want to make sure I don’t miss this opportunity to make some money,'” the billionaire said. “So is it a fraud? No. But these bubbles tend to end in tears. And I worry about how this bubble might end.”

North Korea crisis getting WORSE warns US admiral – ‘It scares me to DEATH’

NORTH Korea’s nuclear crisis is getting worse, a former US military official has warned amid fears World War 3 could break out.

North Korea attack USAGETTY

North Korea could attack the USA, Mike Mullen warned this week

North Korea is now more likely to launch a nuclear attack than this time last year, Mike Mullen warned.  The former admiral and chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said the situation on the peninsula scares him “to death”.  He told ABC’s This Week North Korea was working “really hard” to build up its nuclear strength and would achieve Kim Jong-un’s reckless goal to develop a nuclear missile capable of hitting the US mainland unless serious deterrents were introduced. Mr Mullen said: “I still worry about the peninsula and the potential outcome there. I worry there is more uncertainty than there was a year ago.” He warned, even with US President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on North Korea, the situation was volatile and dangerous.  Mr Mullen said: “I know that the Trump administration has addressed this issue from day one, so they’re very serious about creating options and have created options.  “It’s still a very difficult place to know what’s actually going on. I think Kim Jong-un is really working hard to achieve the nuclear capability. And I think he’ll get there short of some deterrence.”

Donald Trump calls North Korea a ‘twisted dictatorship’

All this is leading to an increase in the likelihood of a nuclear attack, he said.  When asked whether nuclear weapons will be used, Mr Mullen replied: “I don’t know. I think it’s more probable than it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly.  “They’re the most dangerous weapons in the world. And certainly if we have someone in North Korea that has a lethal legacy, is very, very unpredictable, and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just attain them but potentially use them.” Mike Mullen said the prospect of nuclear war ‘scares me to death’ He said one option that remained open to Mr Trump was a pre-emptive strike, which could neuter Kim’s weapons before he has a chance to use them himself.  Mr Mullens said: “The president is in a position to give a legal order to use those weapons. And the likelihood that given that order that it would be carried out I think would be pretty high.
 

Sen. Schumer Warns Consumers About DNA Testing Kits

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is warning about personal DNA testing kits and allowing companies access to such private information. Schumer issued two tweets on Monday cautioning consumers to be careful:

The tweets follow a Sunday press conference where Schumer said it was unclear what companies do with the DNA data they collect from clients anxious to know about their ancestry, the New York Post reported. “Many don’t realize that their sensitive information may end up in the hands of many other third-party companies,” Schumer said.Schumer is calling for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, the newspaper said.  However, the Post noted Ancestry DNA said it does not sell data without customers’ approval. And another company, My Heritage, said it has never sold or licensed data “to any third party,” according to the newspaper.

Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal

The lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn met Monday morning with members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team — the latest indication that both sides are discussing a possible plea deal, ABC News has learned.Trump’s legal team confirmed late last week that Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner alerted the team that he could no longer engage in privileged discussions about defense strategy in the case — a sign Flynn is preparing to negotiate with prosecutors over a deal that could include his testimony against the president or senior White House officials.  That process would typically include a series of off-the-record discussions in which prosecutors lay out in detail for Flynn and his lawyers the fruits of their investigation into his activities. Prosecutors would also provide Flynn an opportunity to offer what’s called a proffer, detailing what information, if any, he has that could implicate others in wrongdoing. When reached Monday, Kelner declined to comment on the nature of his morning visit to Mueller’s offices in Washington, D.C. Sources familiar with the discussions between Flynn’s legal team and Trump’s attorneys told ABC News that while there was never a formal, signed joint defense agreement between Flynn’s defense counsel and other targets of the Mueller probe, the lawyers had engaged in privileged discussions for months. The New York Times broke the news, calling it an indication that Flynn may be cooperating with prosecutors.

 Sources familiar with the Flynn investigation have told ABC News the retired lieutenant general has felt increased pressure since prosecutors began focusing attention on his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked as part of the Flynn Intel Group, the consulting firm founded by the elder Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Michael G. Flynn also traveled with his father to Russia in 2015 for his now famous appearance at a Moscow dinner where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Democrats in Congress have told ABC News they forwarded information to the Mueller team alleging that Michael T. Flynn illegally concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas trips during the process of renewing his security clearances. “It appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process,” Reps. Elijah Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, both Democrats, wrote in a letter to Flynn’s attorney. The letter highlights information House investigators collected from executives at three private companies advised by Flynn in 2015 and 2016. The companies were pursuing a joint venture with Russia to bring nuclear power to several Middle Eastern countries and secure the resulting nuclear fuel before Flynn joined then-candidate Trump on the campaign trail. Flynn is a decorated military officer who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 until his retirement in 2014. He was out of the spotlight only briefly. He joined the Trump campaign as an adviser in 2016, and Trump later named Flynn as his first national security adviser. He was forced to resign, however, after just 24 days on the job, when it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

Continue reading “Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal”

The Most Expensive US Hurricane Season Ever

Image: The Most Expensive US Hurricane Season Ever: By the Numbers
A man returns to his flooded home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP)

This year’s U.S. Atlantic hurricane season is officially the most expensive ever, racking up $202.6 billion in damages since the formal start on June 1.The costs tallied by disaster modelers Chuck Watson and Mark Johnson surpass anything they’ve seen in previous years. That shouldn’t come as a complete surprise: In late August, Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast, wreaking havoc upon the heart of America’s energy sector. Then Irma struck Florida, devastating the Caribbean islands on the way. Hurricane Maria followed shortly after, wiping out power to all of Puerto Rico. And the season’s not over yet: It officially ends on Nov. 30. A construction boom along U.S. shores in recent years acted as a damage multiplier this year, when nature threw its worst at beach homes, waterfront resorts, power grids and Gulf Coast refineries.

NYT: Trump questions authenticity of ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has questioned the authenticity of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about being able to grope women, The New York Times reported over the weekend, despite the fact that Trump immediately apologized for his remarks when the video surfaced.

See for yourself here is the Acess Holywood tape. Warning its nasty!  It sure as hell is him:

 

AND here is his apology where he acknowledges the tape:

 

And here is where he questions the tapes authenticity

Trump’s decision to stick with Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore despite sexual harassment allegations against him is rooted in the President’s own sexual harassment scandal during the 2016 election. “He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after,” the Times reported. “He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently.” CNN has not independently confirmed the New York Times’ reporting. The White House has not responded to CNN’s request for comment. During the election, several women accused Trump of previous instances of sexual harassment and the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump released in October 2016 caught him saying on a hot mic: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.”
Trump’s reported denials mentioned in the New York Times directly contradict his apology following the tape’s release.
He said in a short video statement hours after the video surfaced: “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”

Russia warns of ‘apocalyptic scenario’ on Korean Peninsula

People watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station on September 15, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.
Getty Images People watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station on September 15, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.
Tensions between North Korea and its closest neighbor South Korea appear to be ratcheting up again just as a senior Russian official warned of an “apocalyptic scenario” developing on the Korean Peninsula. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said Monday that the world could not ignore the crisis surrounding North Korea and fears over the country’s suspected nuclear missile development, but that he hoped a peaceful solution could be found.

“A scenario of the apocalyptic development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula exists and we cannot turn our blind eye to it,” Morgulov said speaking at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai discussion club in Seoul, according to Russia’s state-run news agency Tass. “I hope that a common sense, pragmatism and an instinct of self-preservation would prevail among our partners to exclude such negative scenario,” the Russian diplomat said. The comments come as the international community watches for the next move from the secretive and unpredictable regime in North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un. There have been repeated demands for the country to stop its suspected nuclear weapons development program but Pyongyang has repeatedly appeared to have ignored these, carrying out a string of missile and nuclear tests. President Donald Trump has warned North Korea that the country was prepared to go to war but Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the U.S. not to use military might against the Communist regime, insisting that a peaceful solution can be found.

 

Ireland on edge of COLLAPSE: Could see snap election NEXT MONTH

TALKS between Ireland’s main political parties will continue today as the country stands on the brink of a Brexit-blocking snap election after the government was rocked by a no confidence motion.

Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
PA – GETTY Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin held talks this weekend
If Fine Gael Taoiseach Leo Varadkar fails to end the stand-off with main opposition party Fianna Fáil by tomorrow, the government could collapse – forcing a snap pre-Christmas election. And if the Irish are forced to go to the polls this would throw the British Government’s Brexit talks with the European Union into uncertainty. Mr Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin held talks over the weekend to try to avert a government meltdown, as the opposition prepares to submit their motion of no confidence on Tuesday. Sources close to the pair say “some progress was made” but the country’s deputy premier, Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald, remains under intense pressure to quit over a controversy involving a bid to discredit a Garda whistleblower. The main party leaders are still in talks and the Irish president would have to agree to dissolve parliament before an election could take place. But both Fianna Fáil and the ruling Fine Gael party plan to select their election candidates within the next 10 days amid fears a snap election could be forced within weeks. Gary Murphy, Professor of Politics at Dublin City University, said the current confidence and supply agreement is “done and dusted” – and warned the country may have to go to the polls in December to avoid the issue being dragged out until the new year.

 

OPEC Clash With U.S. for Oil Supremacy Near Day of Reckoning

The U.S. shale revolution is on course to be the greatest oil and gas boom in history, turning a nation once at the mercy of foreign imports into a global player. That seismic shift shattered the dominance of Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel, forcing them into an alliance with long-time rival Russia to keep a grip on world markets.
  So far, it’s worked — global oil stockpiles are draining and prices are near two-year highs. But as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia prepare to meet in Vienna this week to extend production cuts, ministers have little idea how U.S. shale production will respond in 2018. “The production cuts are effective — it was absolutely the right decision, and the fact of striking a deal with Russia was crucial,” said Paolo Scaroni, vice-chairman of NM Rothschild & Sons and former chief executive officer of Italian oil giant Eni SpA. Nonetheless, “OPEC has not the same power. The U.S. becoming the biggest producer of oil in the world is a dramatic change.” For OPEC members, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is embarking on a radical economic transformation of the kingdom, including a partial sale of its state oil company that could be the largest public offering in history. Venezuela, reeling from years of recession and a crushing debt burden, is on the brink of political implosion. The producers’ efforts to clear the oil surplus are starting to pay off. They’ve drained excess inventories in developed nations this year by 183 million barrels, or more than half of the glut, which now stands at about 154 million barrels, according to OPEC data. That has revived London-traded crude futures, which sank below $45 a barrel this summer, to a two-year high of $64.65 on Nov. 7. The outlook for shale is so clouded that when OPEC officials invited industry experts to brief them on the topic last week, they were disturbed by the diversity of opinions.  Yet, the basic paradox confronting OPEC is that the more it succeeds in bolstering prices, the more it emboldens shale explorers and other competitors, said Mike Wittner, head of oil market research at Societe Generale SA in New York.
Increases in U.S. oil production next year will be big enough to cancel much of the sacrifices made by OPEC and Russia, leaving the surplus more or less intact, forecasts from the International Energy Agency show. The recent rebound in prices could energize shale even further.

Instead of being able to declare victory next year and restore the production they’ve halted, OPEC may find itself trapped in an open-ended struggle, Wittner said. With U.S. crude exports climbing from close to zero three years ago to now exceeding the combined shipments of OPEC’s smallest members, it increasingly looks as if the face-off between the cartel and what was formerly its biggest customer “has an endgame,” Morse said. “And the endgame is there’s an awful lot of shale in the world.” Nick Bit: Don’t let them shit you OPEC is dead meat. Funny they are celebrating $55 WTI oil as great success… I seem to remember $150 oil……  then  $100 and i heard this same bullshit as the market slid through $80 ……..Down down she goes and where she stops  i know……

North Korea and Syria are growing closer: That’s bad news for the US

Closer ties between two of the world’s most acute political powder kegs — North Korea and Syria — are fanning fears of deeper cooperation on missile technology and chemical weapons.

The longstanding bilateral relationship, which stretches back to the late 1960s, has prospered this year even as both countries face international sanctions. Syrian minister of social affairs and labor Rima al-Qadiri met with North Korean ambassador Jang Myong Ho last week to discuss enhancing bilateral links, Syrian state media reported, with Jang saying his country wanted to help President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with reconstruction efforts.

August 31, 2015: A ceremony to name a park in Damascus after Kim Il-sung, North Korea's founding father in the Syrian city's Kafar Susseh neighborhood
AFP/Stringer/Getty Images August 31, 2015: A ceremony to name a park in Damascus after Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founding father in the Syrian city’s Kafar Susseh neighborhoo

Increased North Korean involvement in a nation hit by violent civil war, which includes Islamic State brutality, doesn’t bode well for a U.S. government already concerned about the ongoing military alliance. President Donald Trump’s administration is increasingly worried “that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un is not only profiting from Syria’s six-year war, but also learning from it,” Jay Solomon, a visiting fellow at American think tank The Washington Institute, wrote in a recent note. North Korean exports of military equipment to the Arab nation, including propellants for Syria’s Scud ballistic missiles, protective chemical suits and respirators, are believed to have occurred for years. And with state revenue increasingly strained under fresh sanctions, Pyongyang is widely expected to continue such sales.

“Syria continues to rely on North Korean and Iranian assistance for its missile programs, according to official U.S. accounts,” said a 2016 report by the Congressional Research Service, a research arm of the U.S. Congress.

Allegations have also surfaced that North Korean military advisers are inside Syria — a charge that both countries have denied. The secretive Asian state is also widely believed to have helped develop a Syrian nuclear facility, which was destroyed in a 2007 Israeli airstrike. At least two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the nation’s chemical weapons program were intercepted this year, Reuters reported in August, citing a confidential United Nations report. “Previous shipments from North Korea are not known to have contained chemicals or chemical weapons production equipment,” Rod Barton, former director of strategic technology at Australia’s Defense Intelligence Organisation, wrote in an August note published by the Lowy Institute.

Oil prices slip from 2-year high as traders brace for OPEC meeting

U.S. oil futures pulled back from two-year highs on Monday, as investors turned their attention to OPEC meeting and hopes for an extension to a production-cut deal later this week.

 

WTI crude prices have been driven higher in recent sessions as U.S. inventory data showed crude stockpiles falling and on disruption to the Keystone pipeline in the U.S. after an oil spill in South Dakota.

For now, investors are looking ahead to Thursday’s meeting of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and nonmember oil producers. Some expect the gathering will produce an extension to the output-cut deal announced in January. In a note to clients on Monday, though, analysts at Barclays warned that investors may be focusing on the wrong thing. “We expect a six- or nine-month extension of the OPEC deal to be agreed to on November 30, but the extension length is less important than the quota level,” said Michael Cohen, head of energy research at Barclays, and his team. “Whether or not the countries extend and the duration of the deal are not the relevant questions in our view. We believe the level of the cut is what really matters, and we assign a low likelihood to this detail being announced on November 30,” he said in note. Cohen added that the meeting is unlikely to come up with any clarity on production levels for next year, which could mislead some investors into thinking that cuts will remain intact. Barclays analysts do not expect those production levels to remain “static” in 2018.

Japan Turning the Pacific Ocean into a Nuclear Waste Dump

 Japan is poised to flood the Pacific with one million tons of nuclear water contaminated by the Fukushima power plant

  • Japan urged by experts to gradually release radioactive water into Pacific Ocean
  • Comes more than six years after tsunami overwhelmed Fukushima nuclear plant
  • The water is stored on site in around 900 large and densely packed tanks 
  • But if the tank breaks, the contents may not be able to be controlled 
Experts note that the release of a small amount radioactive tritium water is allowed at other nuclear plants.

The amount of contaminated water held at Fukushima is still growing by 150 tons a day The reactors are damaged beyond repair, are still in melt down. That is why  cooling water must be constantly pumped in to keep them from overheating and exploding.  That water picks up radioactivity before leaking out of the damaged containment chambers and collecting in the basements. There, the volume of contaminated water grows, because it mixes with groundwater that has seeped in through cracks in the reactor buildings.  After treatment, 210 tons is reused as cooling water, and the remaining 150 tons is sent to tank storage.  During heavy rains, the groundwater inflow increases significantly, adding to the volume. The water is a costly headache for Tokyo Electric Power Co, the utility that owns the plant.  To reduce the flow, it has dug dozens of wells to pump out groundwater before it reaches the reactor buildings and built an underground ‘ice wall’ of questionable effectiveness by partially freezing the ground around the reactors. Another government panel recommended last year that the utility, known as TEPCO, dilute the water up to about 50 times and release about 400 tons daily to the sea – a process that would take almost a decade to complete.

House Intelligence Committee Trying to Find Out Why Fusion GPS Paid Journalists Who Reported on Russia

Recently filed court documents revealed that Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the Trump dossier, paid three journalists who reported on Russia issues, and the House intelligence committee is trying to find out why.

The payments to journalists occurred between June 2016 and February 2017 and raise questions as to whether the firm paid journalists in connection with its efforts to advance the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. The payments were revealed in court filings by the deputy general counsel for the House intelligence committee on November 21 to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to request more information from Fusion GPS’s bank about the payments. The filings were obtained by Breitbart News. The committee is requesting 112 more relevant transactions, including the payments to the three journalists and/or researchers.

“The Committee is aware that Fusion GPS’ specialty is seeding its opposition research into news stories,” the documents say.

“Given the clear relevance of journalists and researchers to Fusion GPS’s activities of relevance to the Committee’s investigation, the Requested Records therefore include records related to nine payments to three additional journalists and/or researchers who have reported or written on matters within the scope of the Committee’s investigation,” the papers say.Getting to the bottom of who paid Fusion GPS for work on the dossier, as well as whom Fusion GPS paid in relation to the dossier is part of the House intelligence committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign.

The House committee has begun to zero in on the dossier to find out what role it played in the FBI’s investigation into whether there was any Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

Last month, it was revealed that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier through its lawyer Marc Elias’s law firm Perkins Coie. Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS seven payments from May 24, 2016, to December 28, 2016. In total, Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS just over $1 million in what appears to be one of the firm’s most lucrative contracts in mostly redacted bank records turned over to the committee. After Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS, Fusion GPS hired ex-British spy Christopher Steele to work on the dossier. The dossier was reportedly used by the FBI to launch its investigation and obtain a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign member, despite making salacious and unverified claims. “This is simply another desperate attempt by the president’s political allies to discredit Fusion GPS’s work and divert attention from the question these committees are supposed to be investigating: the Trump campaign’s knowledge of Russian interference in the election,” he said.

Tax Bill Helps Wealthy While Creating Debt That ‘Our Kids Will Bear’

During Thursday’s Democratic Weekly Address, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) criticized the Republican tax plan, saying it benefits the wealthy at the expense of others, and “even more stunning is that it does this while adding at least $1.5 trillion, and perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion, to our debt. Our kids will bear that burden and the debt will restrict their future.” “Hello everybody. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. And we extend a special thanks to the incredible men and women serving every day to protect us from harm and defend the freedoms we cherish.In many ways, this has been a difficult year, and our politics can often seem irredeemably broken. But Thanksgiving is also a time to step back and remember that we have so much more in common than the partisan bickering that fills our television screens.I know that all of us sitting around the Thanksgiving table want something better for our kids and our grandkids–to leave them a country with a future brighter than its past. But that will only be true if we do for them what our parents and grandparents did for us. We now face a test of our commitment to providing that future. As early as next week the United States Senate may vote on a tax bill — an incredibly consequential piece of legislation affecting our entire economy for decades to come. Written in secret, this bill is being rushed to the floor without hearings or the chance for the American people to weigh in. As the vote approaches, I’m reminded of a mom I met in the small town of Rifle, Colorado at an early childhood center. In the course of our conversation, she said to me, ‘I have a job so I can have health insurance, and every single dollar I earn goes to pay for this early childhood center, so I can work.’ Too many Americans face this cycle, living each day with impossible choices their parents and grandparents were never asked to make

Yet, under the Republican tax plan, people making over $1 million a year would receive tax cuts of about $59,000 per year, while families earning $50,000 or less would see just $160 — or $7.50 more each paycheck. Tens of millions of middle class families would actually see their taxes go up.

And even though sabotaging our health care system has no place in a tax bill, Republicans doubled down by adding a provision at the last minute that would cause 13 million Americans to lose health insurance and premiums to rise by 10 percent. The central challenge with our economy is not that people at the top don’t have enough. It’s that incomes for everyone else — like that mom in Rifle — haven’t kept pace with rising costs of housing, health care, higher education, and childcare.

The question before us is: are we going to ease that burden, or add to it? This bill helps the relatively small number of families that make over $1 million a year and adds to the burden of others. That alone should be enough for us to scrap this approach, but what’s even more stunning is that it does this while adding at least $1.5 trillion, and perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion, to our debt.

China’s debt is out of control despite years of efforts to contain it

 China’s central bank just warned of a sudden collapse in asset prices  

China's central bank just warned of a sudden collapse in asset prices

  For years China’s top officials have touted their ambitious policy priority to wean the world’s second-largest economy off high levels of debt, but there is not much to show for it. On the contrary, a Reuters analysis shows the debt pile at Chinese firms has been climbing in that time, with levels at the end of September growing at the fastest pace in four years. The build-up has continued even as policymakers roll out a series of measures to end the explosive growth of debt, including persuading state firms and local governments to prune borrowing and tighter rules and monitoring of banks’ short-term borrowing. China’s overall debt is now more than three times the size of its economy.

Without a comprehensive strategy to tackle the overhang, there is a growing risk China will have a banking crisis or sharply slower growth or both, the International Monetary Fund said last year.

China’s central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, made global headlines with a warning last month of the risks of a “Minsky moment”, referring to a sudden collapse in asset prices after long periods of growth, sparked by debt or currency pressures. On the sidelines of a key, twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress in October, Zhou referred to relatively high corporate debt and the fast pace of growth in household lending. While also pledging to fend off such risks, Zhou has acknowledged it will take some time to bring debt down to more manageable levels. Reuters analysis of 2,146 China listed firms showed their total debt at the end of September jumped 23 percent from a year ago, the highest pace of growth since 2013. The analysis covered three-fifths of the country’s listed firms, but excluded financials, which have seen the brunt of government de-risking and deleveraging efforts so far. The analysis revealed that debt in the real estate sector multiplied the most over last five years, followed by industrials. The share of industrials in the total debt for the companies covered went up by 3 percentage points since the end of 2012, while that for the real estate sector went up by 7 percentage points. As of September, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) reported a comparatively faster pace of growth in their debt. Total debt at 75 of the CSI Central SOE 100 index companies, which excludes financials, increased by more than 27 percent from a year ago, the biggest increase in many years.

Americans Are Arming Themselves For Civil War

 Black Friday alone, 200,000 applied to buy guns in US, setting a new record

The FBI was flooded Friday with more than 200,000 background check requests for gun purchases, setting a new single day record, the bureau reported Saturday.In all, the FBI fielded 203,086 requests on Black Friday, up from the previous single-day highs of 185,713 last year and 185,345 in 2015. The two previous records also were recorded on Black Friday. Gun checks, required for purchases at federally licensed firearm dealers, are not a measure of actual gun sales. The number of firearms sold Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in one transaction by a single buyer.  Last year, the FBI official overseeing NICS was forced to transfer personnel from construction projects and units that oversee the gathering of crime statistics to keep up with the surge of requests for background checks. The office processed a record 27.5 million background checks in 2016. Nick Bit: Americans are arming to the teeth. On all sides of the political spectrum. They are not buying these weapons to kill paper targets. I am afraid a  charismatic politician will pit these armed groups against one another and he will come out the winner.

Kushner dismisses possible White House departure: ‘We’re here to stay’

Kushner dismisses possible White House departure: ‘We’re here to stay’
© Greg Nash

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview published Saturday that he and first daughter Ivanka Trump will stay in Washington, D.C. “We’re here to stay,” Kushner told The Washington Post. “At the current moment, we’re charging forward.” Kushner went on to say it was “a good sign” that Ivanka Trump had asked him if the family should look at new houses. The family, which hails from New York City, had originally agreed to reassess after the first six months of the administration whether they would stay in Washington, according to the Post. Kushner’s publicized comments come as The New York Times reported Saturday that White House chief of staff John Kelly discussed the possibility of Trump’s eldest daughter and son-in-law departing the White House by the end of 2017, which Kelly disputed.

“There was honestly never a time when I contemplated getting rid of Jared and Ivanka,” Kelly told the Times.

Kelly has reportedly limited the couple’s access to the president since becoming chief of staff, having them go through him first. Kushner has become a major subject of the continuing federal and congressional probes into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia’s election meddling.  Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into Kushner’s past contact with foreign officials as part of the probe. Kushner participated in two meetings with Russians in the month prior to Trump’s inauguration — one with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and another with Sergey Gorkov, the chairman of a state-owned Russian bank.
Kushner, alongside Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, among others, also attended a meeting during the 2016 election at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who had promised damaging information on then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Kushner has maintained he did not participate in any wrongdoing or have any improper communications with Russia during the 2016 election. Nick Bit: i would suggest they rent in Washington. And maybe they should by a cottage for Ivankia near Butner North Carolina. This is the Federal minimum security Prison. That way she can stay in the cottage during visitors day! See it will be hard for Trump to pardon him since he will have to pardon Trump Junior while he is facing impeachment……..

Wal-Mart executives sold $11 million worth of stock as soon as they were allowed

 After the biggest stock price surge in 9 years, 5 executives sold shares as soon as their trading ‘window’ opened
Getty Images

Five Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives took advantage of the stock’s biggest rally in nine years to a record high last week to sell a total of $11 million worth of shares, as soon as they were allowed to trade. The stock WMT, +0.22%  had shot up 10.9% on Thursday to a record close of $99.62, after the discount retail behemoth reported fiscal third-quarter earnings, revenue and same-store sales that beat expectations. That was the biggest one-day percentage gain since Oct. 28, 2008. The next day, the stock pulled back by 2.2%, trading in an intraday range of $96.58 to $100.13 before closing at $97.47. Some time Friday morning, President and Chief Executive of Walmart International David Cheesewright had sold 55,000 common shares at $99.29, in an open market or private sale, to raise $5.46 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. John Furner, president and chief executive of Sam’s Club, and David Chojnowski, a senior vice president and Wal-Mart’s controller also sold shares at the same price. Furner sold 1,200 share to raise $119,148, while Chojnowski sold 684.2 shares to raise about $67,932.

FactSet, MarketWatch

Executive Vice President of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett raised $194,780 by selling 2,000 shares at $97.39 and Greg Foran, chief executive of Walmart U.S., raised $5.11 million by selling 52,793 shares at about $96.86. Wal-Mart executives are only allowed to trade their shares during certain “windows” after they have pre-cleared the trades with the Corporate Secretary, according to the company’s proxy statement. The five executives sold their shares just as the current “window” opened, which was one day after earnings were reported. The window will remain open until Dec. 29, said company spokesperson Randy Hargrove. Nick Bit: More and more people are realizng its time to cash in your chips and head for the hills!

US moves to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to block telecoms giant AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, the owner of CNN and HBO. The department said the merger would reduce competition and lead to higher consumer prices. AT&T vowed to fight the move, calling it a radical departure from US competition practice. US President Donald Trump objected to the deal during his campaign last year, fuelling the controversy. AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said he thought the acquisition had been on a good path “until recently”. He referred to concerns about possible political influence as the “elephant in the room”. President Trump is a vocal critic of CNN which is owned by Time Warner. Mr Stephenson said: “There’s been a lot of reporting and speculation whether this is all about CNN. And frankly I don’t know. Nobody should be surprised the question keeps coming up.” In its lawsuit, the Department of Justice claimed that the deal – valued at more than $85bn when it was announced last year – would harm American consumers. Assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, said: “It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy.” Mr Delrahim said the combination would hurt the emergence of new online television options and give AT&T the power to force rival pay TV companies to pay “hundreds of millions of dollars more” for Time Warner content. The department has also denied political interference. The decision to take legal action sets up a high-profile fight over US anti-trust law, which has rarely been tested in cases involving companies that do not directly compete. During his presidential campaign last October, Mr Trump said that the deal would not be approved “in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few”. AT&T called Monday’s lawsuit “a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent”. The company’s general counsel, David McAtee, said: “Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently.”

 

North Korean dictator outlaws drinking and singing in bid to tighten grip on population

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly banned gatherings involving drinking and singing in new measures designed to increase control over the population. According to intelligence briefings given to South Korean lawmakers on Monday, the move is intended to stifle the impact of crippling economic sanctions imposed on the country. The sanctions are in retaliation for the country’s ongoing development of nuclear devices and ballistic missiles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly banned gatherings involving drinking and singing in new measures designed to increase control over the population
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly banned gatherings involving drinking and singing in new measures designed to increase control over the population

‘(Pyongyang) … has banned any gatherings related to drinking, singing and other entertainment and is strengthening control of outside information,’ the South Korean National Intelligence Service is reported as saying.  The move compounds the already heavily controlled conditions North Korean citizens live under. Travel abroad is curtailed, conversations monitored and harsh punishments are regularly imposed for being in possession of media from outside of the state. The ban comes just a few months after the Pyongyang Beer Festival was cancelled amid reports of a drought.  Meanwhile the South Korean intelligence agency also reported that top officials inside the North Korean regime were punished following an inspection of the military’s General Political Bureau – which ensures soldier’s adhere to the party line. Those reportedly punished were the bureau’s chief Hwang Pyong So and his deputy Kim Won Hong. According to intelligence briefings given to South Korean lawmakers on Monday, the move is intended to stifle the impact of crippling economic sanctions imposed on the country It remains unclear the scope of the punishment but it could suggest a power struggle among Jong Un’s key aides.  South Korean intelligence officers are also monitoring for signs of new missile launches in the North under the guise of a space programme development.  ‘The agency is closely following the developments because there is a possibility that North Korea could fire an array of ballistic missiles this year under the name of a satellite launch and peaceful

Gov. Cuomo wants to bring driverless cars to New York City

NEW YORK — Uber said  that it plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo beginning in less than two years — and New York’s governor wants to bring driverless cars to the Big Apple even sooner. Mix millions of cars, pedestrians, bicyclists and delivery trucks and you get Manhattan driving. At its best, it’s unpredictable. At its worst, it’s chaos. For today’s self-driving cars, that mixture might be too much. “So this cop that’s flagging traffic here, right now — that would confuse the current generation of the self-driving cars?” CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave asked. “Yes, we’re not there yet because the brain is not advanced to be able to understand what that person is doing,” said Brad Stertz, Audi’s director of government affairs. Self-driving cars use sensors to detect their surroundings and are programmed to follow traffic laws. But a dense city environment might overwhelm the current technology.   “If it weren’t for humans, I mean, autonomous vehicles would work perfectly,” said Sam Schwartz, the former New York City traffic commissioner. “The two things that autonomous vehicles have not figured out yet are what are pedestrians about to do and what are bicycle riders about to do,” Schwartz said. This is one vision of how self-driving cars could work in Manhattan: dedicated autonomous thoroughfares leading into the city and cutting across town, potentially allowing some roads to go unused and become green space. John Meyer, from design firm EDG, entered the idea into a contest organized by New York City. Getting the pedestrians and the drivers out of the way allows it to achieve true efficiency — efficiency that will require time, upgraded infrastructure, smarter self-driving cars, and patience in a city not known for it.

Russia finds 1,000-times normal level of radioactive isotope after nuclear incident claims

 MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution of a radioactive isotope at nearly 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains, the first official Russian data supporting reports that a nuclear incident had taken place. The data appears to back up a report by the French nuclear safety institute IRSN, which said on Nov. 9 a cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe had indicated some kind of leak had taken place at a nuclear facility either in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September. Neither Russia nor Kazakhstan has acknowledged any accident. Russian state weather service Roshydromet said in a statement it had found “extremely high pollution” of ruthenium 106 in samples from two meteorological stations in the southern Urals region in late September and early October. At the Agrayash weather station the levels were 986 times those of the previous month, while at the Novogorny station they were 440 times higher. The weather service did not rule out that the radioactive isotope could be absorbed into the atmosphere and reach Europe. Western scientists said the ruthenium 106 levels disclosed did not by themselves indicate any major health threat, although it was still unclear what had happened. “Ruthenium is very rare and hence its presence may suggest that an event of some nature has occurred. That being said, the natural abundance is so low that even a factor of 900 up on natural levels is still very low,” said Malcolm Sperrin, director of the Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at Oxford University Hospitals in England.

Merkel election U-TURN: German chancellor ‘DOES NOT favor’ new vote amid coalition crisis

ANGELA MERKEL continues to fall flat from her coalition nightmare after confessing she does not want another general election – just days after joining calls for one to be triggered. The U-turn marks a deepening crisis for the Chancellor as hopes of a coalition officially fell apart when her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the pro-business Freedom Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green party failed to come to an agreement earlier this month. The embattled Chancellor spoke out against holding another election, saying she intended to form a government as soon as possible. Speaking at a CDU party conference in Kühlungsborn in Northern Germany, she said: “The people have voted.  “And I absolutely do not favour, if we can’t do anything with the result, asking people to vote again.”

Angela Merkel germany

Germany has been left at a political stalemate for more than two months after the September 24th election failed to return a good result for Mrs Merkel. The parties had locked horns on key issues such as immigration and security but the collapse meant Merkel had just two choices open to her – form a minority government or head back to the polls. SDP leader Martin Schulz refused to back Mrs Merkel in any deal and called for further elections in the hope of regaining seats. But the SDP decided Friday to help resolve a deadlock in talks to form a coalition government, dropping its earlier refusal to consider governing with Merkel’s conservatives.  Angela Merkel previously joined called for a fresh election to be triggered Hubertus Heil, the party’s general secretary, said: “The SDP is deeply convinced there should be discussions. The SDP will not refuse to talk.” Mrs Merkel told the party covered she was ready to talk to the SDP, but said the discussions should be based on mutual respect, it has been reported. She said: “Europe needs a strong Germany, it is desirable to get a government in place quickly.” She insisted that her acting government is able to carry out its day-to-day business. Angela Merkel told members of the CDU conference she does not want another election. Mrs Merkel’s change of mind comes as a recent poll revealed nearly two-thirds of Germans would back another general election. Of the 1,011 people surveyed, 63 per cent of Germans believe there should be a fresh general election while 29 per cent believe there should be a minority government. Another 32 per cent believe the FDP are responsible for the failure, which came just days after Christian Lindner, the party’s leader, dropped out of talks after parties failed to agree on key issues including immigration and Europe.

Trump could be on track to triple Obama’s time on the golf course

Trump in 2016: ‘I don’t have time’ for golf

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump could be on track to spend as much as triple the time former President Barack Obama did on the golf course in his first year in office — and to play more than former President George W. Bush did in eight years in office.
Trump spent Saturday at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, marking the 81st day that the President has visited one of his golf courses — and his fourth straight day at a club. It is unclear, however, whether Trump golfs each day he visits or how many rounds he plays when he does. White House aides rarely confirm that the President is golfing, but Trump did so himself on Friday, announcing that he was playing with golfing stars Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. By comparison, Obama played 333 rounds of golf during his eight years in office and at this point in the first year of his term had played 26 rounds, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who keeps detailed statistics of presidencies. Knoller told CNN that Bush played only 24 rounds of golf as President and stopped playing golf after October 13, 2003, after he was criticized for golfing while the nation was at war. At this point in his presidency, Bush had golfed seven times. Many Americans — and more than a few presidents — play golf. Trump’s golf outings are notable only because he repeatedly mocked Obama for the time he spent on the golf course and said he wouldn’t have time if he were elected president.
“If I win I may never see my property — I may never see these places again,” Trump said at an August 2016 event. “But because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go golfing, believe me. Believe me. Believe me, folks.”

‘End of Europe’ France fears Merkel’s failure could spark COLLAPSE of bloc

FRANCE is growing increasingly impatient over Angela Merkel’s failure to form a government – as politicians in Paris raise the possibility of finally resolving its “over-reliance” on Germany. Merkel’s coalition failure sparks competition to lead EUA prominent supporter of Emmanuel Macron fears Angela Merkel’s humiliating failure to build a coalition government in Germany could spell “the end of Europe”.  Germany – and Europe – is in the midst of a political crisis after Mrs Merkel failed to strike a coalition deal last week when talks broke down. EU officials fear this will put any chance of reforming the bloc on hold at a crucial moment after Mr Macron had championed a ‘new Europe’ with a united army and elected president. However, Mr Macron’s political rivals have said the crisis could provide the country with a much-needed opportunity to finally break free of German control.
Julien Aubert, a centre-right politician in the Republican Party, said that the crisis in Germany could provide France with a chance to lead Europe. He took aim at the Franco-German alliance at the centre of the EU as he told DW: “In the past, we had an irrational hatred of the Germans, now we have an irrational love.  “We do not benefit from giving Germany the keys to the truck and hitching ourselves to the back. France needs to stop that.” However, members of the French President’s En Marche party have claimed that uncertainty and stagnation in the EU could end up ripping it apart. Chantal Lieb, a supporter of Mr Macron’s political movement, added that stagnation in Europe could mean France and Germany go their separate ways. Angela Merkel’s humiliating failure to form a coalition government in Germany could end Europe

In the past, we had an irrational hatred of the Germans, now we have an irrational love

Julien Aubert

She explained: “If we do not move forward, Germany will focus on Russia and China, and France on the Mediterranean and that will be the end of Europe.” Remi Bourgeot, a leading economist in the country, added: “The political uncertainty around Brexit and crisis in Germany will make it harder to reform the eurozone and the EU.” However, another supporter of Mr Macron added that now France was leading Europe. He said: “If Angela Merkel wants to move forward, she will need to listen to Macron.”

Millennials could ruin holidays for department stores, warns economist Diane Swonk

Strong economy points to holiday retail cheer, but not for all, Economist Diane Swonk says
Strong economy points to holiday retail cheer, but not for all, Economist Diane Swonk says

A permanent shift in spending could be more visible this holiday season, and economist Diane Swonk sees it coming at the expense of department stores. “They can’t seem to lure into the department stores those millennials,” she said recently on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “The move from bricks to clicks, and the hybrid of the two is going to be a real problem.” Swonk, who runs DS Economics, is concerned this retail area is seeing a permanent secular shift — even as a strong economy and record-breaking stock market are expected to motivate consumers to open their wallets wider this season. According to a recent National Retail Federation survey, 39 percent of consumers between 25- and 34-years-old plan to spend more than last season, with nearly a quarter of those 18 to 24 also adding to their shopping lists. The NRF finds young adults will be spending the majority of their money on apparel, electronics, books, music and video games. Their top destination: online shopping. “The department stores are really being left behind,” said Swonk. “Overall, spending will do great this holiday season, but will it be enough to sort of stave off some bankruptcies going forward? I don’t think so.” Even though department stores are expected to face more challenges, there are other areas expected to see a big boost. “Not only are we spending on homes again because they’re worth investing in again … people are finally catching up on all that pent-up demand and repairs and remodeling,” she said. Swonk is also seeing strength in vehicle sales and some clothing categories. But she notes most consumers are shifting to experiences from things this season, particularly going out to dinners, bars and traveling. She observes weekend rates at hotels in crowded cities are now exceeding weekday rates, which are typically high due to demand generated by business travelers.

Citi hit with $6.5 million in U.S. fines over student loans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said on Tuesday it had ordered Citibank to pay $6.5 million for allegedly harming borrowers with student loan servicing failures. The agency said it ordered Citibank to end illegal loan practices and pay $3.75 million in redress to consumers and a $2.75 million civil penalty. Mark Costiglio, a spokesman for Citi, said “we are pleased to resolve this matter.” Student debt can carry tax benefits but Citi failed to guide customers through paperwork that could lead to tax savings, according to the agency. Some clients were also made to pay late fees and interest when they were eligible to defer such loan payments, said the agency Citi shed $32 billion of its student loan investments in 2010, selling them to Discover Financial Services . Citibank has roughly $1.4 trillion in assets, according to the Federal Reserve.

Wells Fargo profits tank as it sets aside $1B for legal costs

Wells Fargo reported a 19 percent profit decline on Friday and weaker revenue than Wall Street had expected for the fourth consecutive quarter due to mortgage issues, sending its shares down 3.5 percent. The third-largest US lender, which has been embroiled in a prolonged scandal over its sales practices, said the dip in earnings came largely from a $1 billion accrual for a legal settlement over issues stemming from before the 2007-2009 financial crisis. But revenue at the bank also suffered from a decline in mortgage banking revenue. Wells has been trying to bounce back from a scandal over dishonest sales practices that led to interrogations by Congress and fueled the ire of millions of consumers. Wells Fargo’s earnings dropped to $4.6 billion during the third quarter. On an adjusted basis, its profit was $1.04 per share, scraping past estimates of $1.03, according to Thomson Reuters  Revenue fell 2 percent to $21.9 billion, hit by a 37 percent slump in mortgage banking. Analysts had forecast revenue of $22.4 billion. Expenses have been a key issue for investors, and the bank has targeted a full-year ratio of 60 percent to 61 percent in 2017, aiming to improve to 55 percent to 59 percent next year. Wells is committed to its plan to cut costs by $4 billion by the end of 2019, half of which will be reinvested into businesses, chief financial officer John Shrewsberry said in a statement.

Net income in Wells Fargo’s community banking segment, the largest of its three major businesses and the one most directly impacted by the sales scandal, was $2.2 billion, down 31 percent from a year ago due to the legal charge.

Wells Fargo is the largest US residential mortgage lender, making more than $98 billion worth of loans in the first half of the year, according to trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance. That is nearly double the total for JPMorgan Chase, the No. 2 mortgage lender. Wells Fargo has been keeping a greater share of the mortgages it makes, boosting loan growth. Nick Note: Wells is about to give us another Lehman moment. when they go broke their great crimes will be revealed

JPMorgan hired ex-cons, gave them access to customer data: watchdog

JPMorgan Chase hired ex-cons into jobs that could access clients’ bank-account information as it failed to properly screen thousands of employees for more than eight years, according to an industry watchdog. The financial behemoth headed by Jamie Dimon failed to perform proper background screens on as many as 8,670 employees from January 2009 to May of this year, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The bank failed to properly fingerprint about 2,000 employees on time, according to Finra. Others were only screened for having committed financial crimes, the watchdog said. The bank didn’t admit or deny Finra’s findings as it agreed to pay a $1.25 million fine. “We self-reported this matter and are pleased it’s now behind us. We are committed to having appropriate controls to comply with regulatory requirements,” Jessica Francsico, a spokeswoman, said in a statement

White House: Trump Spoke With Putin for Over an Hour on Tuesday

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin / Getty
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin / Getty

President Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin for over an hour on Tuesday in a wide-ranging conversation that included discussions of the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, as well as North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. Trump and Putin concurred on the need for peace in Syria and counter-terrorism measures in the Middle East generally, according to a White House readout of the conversation. The two leaders also agreed to seek further cooperation in Syria.

Trump himself told reporters that the call was “great” when he spoke to them briefly outside the White House on Tuesday before departing for Thanksgiving.

“We had a great call with President Putin,” Trump said. “We’re talking about peace in Syria, very important.” Trump and Putin stressed the importance of peacefully resolving the conflict in Syria, affirming United Nations Security Council resolution 2254, which calls for just that. “Both presidents also stressed the importance of implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 2254, and supporting the U.N.-led Geneva Process to peacefully resolve the Syrian civil war, end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens,” the readout said. “The two presidents affirmed the importance of fighting terrorism together throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and agreed to explore ways to further cooperate in the fight against ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations,” the readout added. “We had a call that lasted almost an hour and a half. We’ve just put out a release on the call, but we’re talking very strongly about bringing peace to Syria,” Trump said. According to the readout, the leaders also agreed on “the need to continue international pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear weapon and missile programs.” Trump said they talked “very strongly” about North Korea and also Ukraine, where Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Amid Growing Tensions with White House, Tillerson’s State Dept to Skip Ivanka’s India Trip

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not sending a high-level delegation to support first daughter Ivanka Trump on her trip to Hyderabad, India between November 28-30 for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).

The news of Tillerson’s decision to withhold high-level support for Ivanka arrives in the midst of increased tension between Tillerson and the White House. CNN first reported this news. “They (Tillerson and his staff) won’t send someone senior because they don’t want to bolster Ivanka,” an unnamed senior State Department official told CNN. “It’s now another rift between the White House and State at a time when Rex Tillerson doesn’t need any more problems with the President.” The source reportedly added, “No one higher than the deputy assistant secretary is allowed to participate” and noted that “Rex doesn’t like the fact that he’s supposed to be our nation’s top diplomat, and Jared and now Ivanka have stepped all over Rex Tillerson for a long time. So now, he’s not sending senior people from the State Department to support this issue. He’s not supporting Ivanka Trump.” Acting Assistant Secretary for the central Asia region, Alice Wells, was reportedly also pulled off of the trip by Tillerson’s team. Former Secretary of State John Kerry and former President Obama have attended the summit. The summit has taken place in California, Kenya, and Malaysia in the past. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited President Donald Trump to the event, which is themed around supporting female entrepreneurs this year, during his visit to the White House in June. The summit’s slogan this year is “Women First, Prosperity for All.” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert reportedly told CNN, “The Department is committed to supporting women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, and the Summit is a prime opportunity to showcase the importance of these themes.” Ivanka is reportedly being billed as the “star attraction” of the summit in the Indian press. This will be her first visit to the subcontinent. Ahead of her highly-anticipated visit, Indian media reported that police in Hyderabad arrested thousands of “beggars” and placing them in rehab centers (also referred to as ashrams) to shield Ivanka from the uncomfortable sight and to put their best foot forward for the trip. However, Indian authorities have denied that the crackdown on the capital city’s destitute has anything to do with Ivanka’s upcoming visit.

Shoppers browse stores, buy online as Black Friday deals beckon

CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stores offered deep discounts, entertainment and free gifts to lure bargain hunters on Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday retail season, but some shoppers said they were just browsing the merchandise, reserving their cash for internet purchases.Still, a sharp rise in online sales brightened the overall outlook for those traditional retailers that have expanded beyond brick-and-mortar outlets, sending their shares higher in day-after-Thanksgiving trading. Stores also had carefully managed inventory, seeking to ward off any post-holiday liquidation that would weigh on profits.

There was little evidence of the delirious shopper frenzy customary of Black Fridays from past years, even as some stores appeared to be getting creative with gimmicks besides heavy discounts to draw in customers.

No actual data for Friday’s brick-and-mortar business was immediately available .Despite anecdotal signs of muted in-store sales – fewer cars in mall parking lots, shoppers leaving stores without purchases in hand – consumers are still expected to spend more overall this holiday season than last, analysts and industry executives said.  Black Friday online sales totaled at least $3.54 billion by 8 p.m. EST (0100 Saturday GMT), up 15.6 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions at the largest 100 U.S. web retailers. On Thanksgiving Day, U.S. shoppers spent more than $2.87 billion online. Adobe projected internet sales would still reach a record $5 billion by the end of the night, with online retailers forecast to rake in an additional $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday. Macy’s and J.C. Penney Co Inc did a better job of ordering and controlling inventory this time, according to Burt Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resources Group, a consultancy with seven researchers out in the field.“The turnout this morning has been relatively slow, but it is still the best we have seen in three years,” Flickinger said, citing improving consumer confidence, a strong job market and healthy housing prices. Target Corp did not fare as well, with analysts noting that it closed its stores for several hours overnight while many rivals kept their doors open. Its shares fell 2.8 perc

Trump to stop supplying weapons to Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in Syria

 President Donald Trump has promised to stop supplying weapons to YPG Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in Syria.

Donald Trump and Kurdish fighter

Mr Cavusoglu said: “President Trump instructed [his generals] in a very open way that the YPG will no longer be given weapons.” Erdogan’s regime has branded the YPG militia, which has links to Kurdish rebels in Turkey, terrorists. Turkey has long complained about the US backing of the YPG Syrian  Mr Cavusoglu said: “Our discomfort regarding the provision of weapons to the YPG was conveyed to Mr Trump once again… Trump very clearly said he had given instructions to not provide weapons to the YPG. The US has seen the YPG as a key part of its strategy to defeat ISIS in Syria. The White House claimed that although Trump and Erdogan did not name the YPG specifically but did discuss “adjustments” to the US’ support for partners in Syria. A White House statement said: “Consistent with our previous policy, President Trump also informed President Erdogan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete. “We are progressing into a stabilisation phase to ensure that Isis [IS] cannot return. The leaders also discussed the purchase of military equipment from the United States.” The news follows a warning that a new terror group could rise from the ashes of ISIS. Islamic State 2.0 could emerge once the original terror organisation is defeated, according to experts. The US has denied that the YPG was specifically named Analysts have warned an “Islamic State 2” or “al-Qaeda 3.0” may be launched as the fanatical cult regroups and regenerates. ISIS strongholds have been recaptured from the terror group in Syria and Iraq, but there are still unresolved issues in the region, such as sectarian conflict, economic hardship and religious rivalries. Head of the Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group, Ayham Kamel, told CNBC: “The Islamic State is almost defeated, but a radical Islamist insurgency will remain in both Iraq and Syria as the fighters turn to traditional terrorism.” He said: “However, losing the pillars of its state, ISIS no longer represents a strategic threat to the integrity of either Iraq or Syria. There’s even a possibility of alliances with al-Qaeda in Syria as these configurations are always fluid.”

The Latest: Time magazine cover:Trump Faked IT Again

 This is a copy of the Fake Time Magazine Covers Trump had made and displayed at his properties…a selling tool!

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local): Time magazine is disputing President Donald Trump’s account of how he rejected the magazine’s request for an interview and photo sessions ahead of its “Person of the Year” issue. In a Friday evening tweet, Trump says the magazine informed him he was “probably” going to be granted the title for the second year in a row. He tweets: “I said probably is no good and took a pass.” Later that evening, Time tweeted that Trump “is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.” The magazine says it doesn’t comment on its choice until publication. Trump frequently brags about his cover appearances in the iconic magazine. He has falsely claimed to hold the record of cover appearances. The magazine will unveil its Person of the Year on Dec. 6. President Donald Trump says he turned down an interview and photo shoot for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue. In a Friday evening tweet, Trump says the magazine informed him he was “probably” going to be granted the title for the second year in a row. He tweets: “I said probably is no good and took a pass.” Trump frequently brags about his cover appearances in the iconic magazine. He has falsely claimed to hold the record of cover appearances, and was revealed earlier this year to have displayed fake issues of Time at several of his private golf clubs.

Only ‘Probably’ Time’s Person of the Year? No Thanks, Trump Tweets

President Trump spent part of Friday at his golf club in Jupiter, Fla., with the professional golfers Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Friday seemed to be President Trump’s day off. But on Twitter Mr. Trump weighed in on what has become a favorite grievance: the possibility that he might not be selected as Time Magazine’s person of the year.

“Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”

The magazine bestowed the title on Mr. Trump last year, establishing him as the “person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse,” on the events of 2016. It was, Mr. Trump said on Twitter, “a great honor.” But his latest jab continued a complicated history with the magazine. In 2011, he said Time had “lost all credibility” for not naming him to its Top 100, and in 2015, he complained that he was passed over in favor of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany despite being “the big favorite.”

Yet he appeared to aspire to be on the magazine’s cover, with a fake 2009 cover story once hanging near the entrance of Mar-a-Lago, the Florida estate where he is spending his vacation, and in many of his other golf clubs, according to a Washington Post article in June.

At the time of Mr. Trump’s tweet on Friday, an online readers poll on whom the magazine should select showed Mr. Trump in a three-way tie for second and trailing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who had 21 percent of the vote. The recipient of the title, who is ultimately decided by Time’s editors, will be announced on Dec. 6.

A spokeswoman for the magazine directed reporters back to Twitter. “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year,” a message from the magazine’s account said. “TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6.”

Jared Kushner reportedly pressed for Comey’s firing as FBI director

White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017.
The Son In Law form hell Jared Kushner(who will bring Trump down) sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner urged President Donald Trump to fire James Comey as FBI director, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. The firing is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a possible attempt to obstruct justice. Sources cited by the Journal gave differing reasons for Kushner’s support of Comey’s termination. One source said the move would be supported by disgruntled FBI agents who thought Comey mishandled the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Comey’s handling of that investigation was the reason the president originally cited for firing the FBI director in May. Trump also said he based his decision on a recommendation from the Justice Department. Another source cited by the Journal said that Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, believed Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation proved that he was too “unpredictable.” Any obstruction of justice charge would be “exceedingly difficult” for the special counsel to prove, former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray told CNBC. In an email, Ray said there are “a panoply of innocent reasons for wanting to remove an FBI Director that you concluded was ‘unpredictable.'” “The Government would have trouble proving beyond a reasonable doubt that one of those innocent reasons does not explain why the President decided to replace Director Comey, which the chief executive is absolutely entitled to do for any reason, or for no reason at all — so long as that reason does not constitute a knowing and willful attempt to obstruct justice,” he said.

A 108-page report published in October by the Brookings Institution found that “the president likely obstructed justice.”

The president offered some insights into his decision to fire the FBI director in the weeks that followed the announcement. The day after the firing, the president told NBC News that “regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know: This Russia thing with Trump and Russia, it’s a made-up story,” he told NBC.

Later, the president told Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, The New York Times reported.

The special counsel also obtained a letter that the president drafted, that was ultimately blocked by the White House counsel, which offered “an unvarnished view” of the president’s thinking, according to the Times.

Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get Trump off the phone, senator says

Gary Cohn, U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, steps from Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., August 30, 2017.

During a meeting with a Democratic senator, Chief White House economic adviser Gary Cohn recently faked a bad connection to get off the phone with President Trump, at the suggestion of Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, who told him that the group would have a more productive conversation about taxes without him.  Carper says he told Cohn they weren’t going to be able to have a real discussion after Mr. Trump joined a conversation they were having on taxes, and he asked him to tell the president that he is brilliant, but he was losing the connection would have to hang up, the senator confirmed in a Wednesday interview with CNN. That’s what Cohn did, Carper said.  “So you’re saying Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get the president off the phone?” CNN host John Berman asked. “Well, I wouldn’t — I don’t want to throw him under the bus, but yes,” Carper responded.  The White House denies Carper’s version of events.  Carper said he had been talking for about 30 minutes with Cohn, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, and Shahira Knight, special assistant to the president for tax and retirement policy, and the around-the-table conversation was going well as the administration officials asked questions about whether there might be a way to find middle ground on tax reform with more moderate Democrats. About half an hour into that discussion, Cohn got up to take a call from the president, who was in Asia at the time. It was nice of the president to do that Carper said. But fifteen minutes later, the president was still talking, Carper said. That’s when Carper suggested to Cohn that he take the phone back, tell the president he is brilliant, but politely say goodbye, citing a poor connection.  “And that’s what he did and he hung up. And then we went back to having the kind of conversation that we needed to…” Carper said. Carper said he believes they identified potential common ground and consensus among moderate Democrats.  The White House called Carper’s account “completely false.” “Senator Carper’s claim is completely false,” said Raj Shah, Principal Deputy Press Secretary, in a statement to CBS News. “Gary Cohn took the phone off speaker and continued to speak with the president privately for several minutes before they concluded the call.”  Mr. Trump has made it clear that he wants to sign a tax bill by Christmas, and the House GOP passed its version last week. The Senate expects to vote next week, and the tax bill’s fate is unclear in that chamber.

China shuts main route into North Korea as nuclear tensions dominate region

Bridge temporarily closed for ‘maintenance’, according to spokesman, leaving Pyongyang even more isolated following Air China flight suspension

China is temporarily closing its main road connection with North Korea, an official said on Friday.  Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, or China-North Korea Friendship Bridge, across the Yalu River at the Chinese city of Dandong will be closed while North Korea repairs the approach road on its side.  Geng said that “after the maintenance, the bridge will reopen for passage,” but gave no date for the reopening or other details.

The bridge closure comes after state-owned airline Air China suspended flights Tuesday between Beijing and North Korea due to a lack of demand, deepening the North’s isolation amid mounting UN sanctions. Beijing is North Korea’s only significant ally but has grown increasingly frustrated over its nuclear and missile tests that have brought a threat of war and chaos to China’s north eastern border.  In what was seen as a bid to improve relations, the head of the ruling Communist Party’s International Department travelled to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, last week.

U.S. crude prices march higher as Keystone pipeline stays in limbo

OPEC meeting next week quickly moving into the spotlight
Reuters A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota

U.S. oil prices climbed on Friday, hovering at two-and-a-half-year highs, as investors kept a wary eye on a pipeline disruption to a major crude-oil hub in Oklahoma. Keystone pipeline operator TransCanada said Tuesday that flow from its pipeline to the U.S. would be reduced by 85% through the end of November, after roughly 5,000 barrels of oil leaked in South Dakota last week. That pipeline disruption holds good and bad news for the market. While it could cause further draws on U.S. inventories, producers in the U.S. appear to be taking advantage of higher prices to pump more oil, say analysts. On Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration reported a 1.9 million-barrel drop in crude inventories for the week ended Nov. 17, but the draw was below some expectations. The topic of rising U.S. output is expected to be on the table at the meeting of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries next week, which will be attended by non-OPEC members as well. Some expect the meeting will yield an extension to a production-cut deal that was hammered out in January, but analysts warned that the market could be setting itself up for disappointment. “A decision not to extend the cuts beyond the current March 31, 2018, deadline could result in a sharp knee-jerk reaction lower for prices, lasting several days, on the order of US$4 to US$7 per barrel,” said Martin King, director of institutional research and the team at GMP FirstEnergy, in a note to clients published Thursday.  However, King said any sell-down in prices is probably not going to last, “given the very supportive fundamentals in the U.S. and global marketplace in the form of very strong demand growth and further drains of inventory levels of refined products and crude oil.” He said inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub should “drain sharply” over the next few weeks given uncertainties over when the Keystone pipeline, which delivers to that hub, will restart. Nick Bit: And they will fill even faster when the pipeline in December returns to full production……. Won’t  that be funnnnn!!!

Putin launches deadly ‘Vladimir the Great’ submarine – complete with 20 ballistic missiles

VLADIMIR Putin has an incredible new weapon in his arsenal following the launch of the Russian Navy’s most powerful submarine to date.

Vladimir Putin has an incredible new submarine at his disposal
The Knyaz Vladimir, meaning ‘Vladimir the Great’ is capable of launching 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which can devastate cities up to 5,778 miles away. By comparison the US’s own super sub is armed with 24 ICMBs, but the missile range is more than a 1,00 miles shorter. The Borei II-class sub was unveiled in a ceremony in northern Russia on November 17, attended by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Korolyov, and a host of top-ranking diplomats. The submarine was laid down in July 2012 and is expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy next year.  Russia plans to build a total of eight super subs by 2025 as it boosts its naval firepower amid growing international tensions. The news comes after Putin called on major Russian businesses to be ready to help the military as he praised Moscow’s economy. He said: “The ability of our economy to increase military production and services at a given time is one of the most important aspects of military security.

“To this end, all strategic, and simply large-scale enterprise should be ready, regardless of ownership.”On Tuesday, Mr Putin had demanded Russia speeds up its military technology developments to boost competition with the West. He said: “Our army and navy need to have the very best equipment — better than foreign equivalents.  Russia displays show of strength during latest military exercise Russia’s defence budget has increased considerably since the turn of the millennium after stagnating in the Nineties, and it now stands as the world’s third-largest military spender behind the US and China. This year, Russian military expenses will exceed three trillion roubles (£38.5billion) and Moscow now boasts some of the finest military equipment in the world.

Women are having fewer children than ever

And a record number of them are childless,

Women are having fewer children than ever before and more are staying childless, new data reveals today.  Women who turned 45 in 2016 had an average of 1.80 children, down from 2.21 for their mothers’ generation, who turned 45 in 1944. The same generation also had fewer children by their 30th birthday, suggesting women are having children later in life. Women who turned 45 last year had 1.06 children by 30 compared to 1.8 in their mother’s generation.

In total, 18 per cent of women who turned 45 last year had no children at all, compared with 11 per cent of women in their mother’s generation. The ONS said the figures, collected from birth registration data going back to the 1930s, defined 45 as the age by which most women had stopped having children.

Women who turned 45 in 2016 had an average of 1.80 children, down from 2.21 for their mothers' generation, when they completed their family (blue line). Women who turned 45 last year had 1.06 children by 30 compared to 1.8 in their mother's generation (red line).

Women who turned 45 in 2016 had an average of 1.80 children, down from 2.21 for their mothers’ generation, when they completed their family (blue line). Women who turned 45 last year had 1.06 children by 30 compared to 1.8 in their mother’s generation (red line).

Teenage motherhood is also dropping, with just 6 per cent of women having had at least one child before their 20th birthday. The new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that the average size of families in England and Wales peaked for women born in 1935 and has been falling since.  Emily Knipe, from the ONS population statistics division, said childlessness was ‘one of the main drivers’ of falling family sizes by the time women reached the end of their childbearing lives.

Hundreds killed in Egypt mosque attack

(CNN)At least 235 people were killed and another 109 injured in an attack on a mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai region on Friday, Egyptian state-run Nile TV reported, making it one of the deadliest attacks ever carried out against civilians in the province. After at least two explosions, gunmen who were waiting outside the mosque opened fire at worshipers as they fled Friday prayers, state-owned Ahram Online said. The attack targeted Al Rawdah mosque, situated in the village of Al Rawdah between Bir Al-Abed and the city of Al-Arish.

Bodies lie on the floor of Bir Al-Abed's Al Rawdah mosque following a gun and bomb attack Friday.
Bodies lie on the floor of Bir Al-Abed’s Al Rawdah mosque following a gun and bomb attack Friday
 The gunmen had set up “ambush” locations and opened fire on ambulances as they were transporting wounded worshipers from al-Rawdah toward al-Arish before the arrival of security services, eyewitnesses reported. The mosque that was attacked is known for being the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai peninsula. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam that some ultra-orthodox Muslims consider heretical. The blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque, Ahram Online said.
Speaking to state-run Masriya TV station, Egyptian health ministry spokesman Khalid Mujahid described the incident as a “terrorist attack.” Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi is meeting with a security committee to discuss repercussions of the attack, Masriya TV reported. The presidency has declared three days of national mourning.

US oil prices rise to two-year high on Keystone pipeline outage

An oil pump jack in the oil town of Gonzales, Texas.
Getty Images An oil pump jack in the oil town of Gonzales, Texas

U.S. oil prices jumped to a two-year high on Friday as North American markets tightened on the partial closure of the Keystone pipeline connecting Canadian oilfields with the United States. Trading activity was expected to be low on Friday due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. PVM Oil Associates strategist Tamas Varga said the oil spill that shut the Keystone pipeline was supporting U.S. crude, flipping prices into backwardation, when front-month prices rise above those for future months, indicating an undersupplied market.I think we have not seen that for three years,” he said. The pipeline spill on Nov. 16 reduced the usual 590,000 barrel-per-day flow to U.S. refineries, driving down inventories at the storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, traders said. OPEC meets on Nov. 30 and is expected to extend to the pact on cutting output beyond its March expiry, although Russia has sent mixed signals about its support for an extension. “With the majority of OPEC members endorsing an extension, Russian support is the key risk,” Jon Rigby, head of oil research at UBS, wrote in a note. President Vladimir Putin indicated in October that Russia backed extending the deal to the end of 2018, but comments by officials and in Russian media have created uncertainty since then, he said. Rising U.S. oil production has also curbed crude price gains. U.S. output jumped by 15 percent since mid-2016 to a record 9.66 million bpd, thanks largely to shale drilling.

Iran’s supreme leader ‘the new Hitler’, says Saudi crown prince

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has called Iran’s supreme leader “the new Hitler of the Middle East”, amid heightened tensions between the two countries. Alluding to Iran’s growing regional power, Mohammed bin Salman said it was important to avoid a repeat “of what happened in Europe in the Middle East”. Saudi Arabia and Iran are rivals and have increasingly accused each other of fuelling instability across the region. There has been no official Iranian reaction to the latest remarks. Speaking to the New York Times, Mohammed bin Salman said Iran could not be allowed to spread its influence. “We learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” he said, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has taken a hard line towards Iran since coming to prominence in the past two years. Earlier this month, he accused Iran of what he said was tantamount to an act of war, blaming it for a missile attack aimed at the Saudi capital, Riyadh, by rebels in neighbouring Yemen. Iran denied it was involved. Saudi Arabia – a Sunni Muslim-majority country – and Shia Muslim-led Iran are at loggerheads across the Middle East. The Saudis accuse Iran of aiding Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting a war since 2015. Iran and the rebels have denied the charge. Saudi Arabia has been widely blamed for exacerbating Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, which the UN has described as the worst in the world. Saudi Arabia has also warned against Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, where its proxy militias have played a key role in defeating so-called Islamic State, and in Syria, where it has militarily helped President Bashar al-Assad gain the upper hand in the civil war. Both countries have also accused one another of trying to destabilise Lebanon, where the pro-Saudi prime minister leads a coalition including the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement.

A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller

Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, are said to have terminated an information-sharing agreement with the president’s legal team. Credit Carlos Barria/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case — an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal. Mr. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. That agreement has been terminated, the four people said. Defense lawyers frequently share information during investigations, but they must stop when doing so would pose a conflict of interest. It is unethical for lawyers to work together when one client is cooperating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation. Mr. Trump’s lawyers  believe that Mr. Flynn — who, along with his son, is seen as having significant criminal exposure — has, at the least, begun discussions with Mr. Mueller

A deal with Mr. Flynn would give Mr. Mueller a behind-the-scenes look at the Trump campaign and the early tumultuous weeks of the administration. Mr. Flynn was an early and important adviser to Mr. Trump, an architect of Mr. Trump’s populist “America first” platform and an advocate of closer ties with Russia.

His ties to Russia predated the campaign — he sat with President Vladimir V. Putin at a 2015 event in Moscow — and he was a point person on the transition team for dealing with Russia. The White House had been bracing for charges against Mr. Flynn in recent weeks, particularly after charges were filed against three other former Trump associates: Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman; Rick Gates, a campaign aide; and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser. But none of those men match Mr. Flynn in stature, or in his significance to Mr. Trump. A retired three-star general, Mr. Flynn was an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s and a valued surrogate for a candidate who had no foreign policy experience. Mr. Trump named him national security adviser, he said, to help “restore America’s leadership position in the world.” Among the interactions that Mr. Mueller is investigating is a private meeting that Mr. Flynn had with the Russian ambassador and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, during the presidential transition. In the past year, it has been revealed that people with ties to Russia repeatedly sought to meet with Trump campaign officials, sometimes dangling the promise of compromising information on Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Flynn is regarded as loyal to Mr. Trump, but he has in recent weeks expressed serious concerns to friends that prosecutors will bring charges against his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who served as his father’s chief of staff and was a part of several financial deals involving the elder Mr. Flynn that Mr. Mueller is scrutinizing.

OPEC, Russia have showdown over US shale drilling ahead of meeting

OPEC’s meeting next week could be a volatile one for the energy market, as the cartel seeks to extend its agreement to limit oil production against rising U.S. output. OPEC is expected to extend its deal with Russia and other oil producers to keep 1.8 million barrels a day off the market, but what’s not clear is for how long. Analysts say the market is positioning for a nine-month extension from the deal’s current expiration in March. So far the agreement has been seen as a factor in stabilizing the oil market, and it has helped boost prices to a two-year high. But heading into the Nov. 30 meeting, Russia’s oil companies have been complaining loudly because higher crude prices have helped the U.S. shale industry ramp up production and nibble away at global market share. Analysts expect the U.S. to add about another million barrels per day of production next year. In the past week, the U.S. produced 9.7 million barrels a day, 1 million barrels more than last year. The U.S. exported 1.5 million barrels a day. “The Russian corporates are being so public about being unhappy about the agreement, and the markets are getting a little jittery,” said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC. “The problem now is with the expectation that it’s for the full year … if you get anything less, it would be a negative event.” “The risks are weighted to the downside from this meeting,” she said. The meeting puts the spotlight on the changing landscape of global energy production and politics. The U.S., the third-largest crude producer behind Russia and Saudi Arabia, has increasingly influenced the market, but unlike those two countries, the U.S. industry is made up of a collection of hundreds of independent oil-producing companies, both large and small. “One big question for [OPEC] as they head to Vienna is how vigorous will be the response of U.S. shale to these higher prices. That’s a major topic of discussion,” said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit. The U.S. shale industry is also a big deal in Moscow, said Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro-Advisory.

Saudi Arabia has become an ‘irrational actor in the Middle East,’ says analyst

Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman (2nd L) takes his seat to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and his delegation on April 19, 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Jonathan Ernst – Pool | Getty Images Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman (2nd L) takes his seat to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and his delegation on April 19, 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has become much more aggressive in the Middle East as the United States has pulled back from its traditional role in the region, according to Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, global geopolitical strategist at Standard Chartered bank. “We’re seeing a series of miscalculations … We tend to think that Saudi Arabia has become an irrational actor in the Middle East,” Dauba-Pantanacce told CNBC Thursday. His comments come as the Sunni Islamic kingdom’s foreign policy actions are increasingly forcing instability upon smaller nations, where analysts believe Saudi Arabia is seeking to amplify sectarian divisions. These moves have unfolded against the backdrop of escalating competition between Saudi Arabia and its Shia arch-rival Iran. “I say this because every single foreign venture they (Saudi Arabia) try has reached the opposite result that they wanted. In Yemen, in Qatar, and now in Lebanon,” he said. In the latest twist to come out of Middle East geopolitics, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday suspended his previous resignation, apparently in order to open “a new gateway for responsible dialogue,” he said in a statement. Whether this came with Saudi approval is not yet known. The prime minister returned to Beirut Tuesday night following an unexpected two-week stay in Saudi Arabia, where he delivered a shock resignation from the capital Riyadh on November 4. This prompted widespread speculation that the prime minister was “held hostage,” as well as consensus among analysts that Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to resign. “What Saudi Arabia is miscalculating is that in (holding) the PM of Lebanon probably against his will in the country, it has managed the feat of unifying all of Lebanon against Saudi, including the constituency of Lebanon that is traditionally sympathetic to Saudi,” the strategist explained.Saudi Arabia has miscalculated on Lebannon, Yemen and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia agrees to buy $7 billion in precision munitions from U.S. firms: sources

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy about $7 billion worth of precision guided munitions from U.S. defense contractors, sources familiar with the matter said, a deal that some lawmakers may object to over American weapons having contributed to civilian deaths in the Saudi campaign in Yemen. Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Boeing Co (BA.N) are the companies selected, the sources said, in a deal that was part of a $110 billion weapons agreement that coincided with President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May. Both companies declined comment on the weapons sale. Arms sales to the kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states have become increasingly contentious in the U.S. Congress, which must approve such sales. The Yemen civil war pits Iran-allied Houthi rebels against the government backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition. Nearly 4,800 civilians have been killed since March 2015, the United Nations said in March. Saudi Arabia has either denied attacks or cited the presence of fighters in the targeted areas and has said it has tried to reduce civilian casualties. He said that while the kingdom has always chosen the United States for weapons purchases, “… Saudi Arabia’s market selection remains a choice and is committed to defending its security.”

Trump, a Republican who views weapons sales as a way to create jobs in the United States, has announced billions of dollars in arms sales since taking office in January. A U.S. government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the agreement is designed to cover a 10-year period and it could be years before actual transfers of weapons take place. The agreement could be held up in Congress, where Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced in June that he would block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other members of the GCC, over a dispute with Qatar, another U.S. ally in the Gulf.

Vladimir Putin says all Russian businesses should be ready to switch to war production at any moment

Vladimir Putin has said that all Russian businesses must be ready to meet war-time needs at any moment. The Russian President made the remarks at a meeting of world military chiefs in Sochi on Wednesday. It comes a day after he said Russia should aim to overtake the West in terms of military technology because: ‘If we want to win, we have to be better.’

Vladimir Putin told a gathering of military leaders in Sochi that all 'large-scale enterprises' in the country must be ready to meet war-time needs at any moment

Vladimir Putin told a gathering of military leaders in Sochi that all ‘large-scale enterprises’ in the country must be ready to meet war-time needs at any moment.Russia has massively increased its defense spending in recent years as it completely updates its military, and is now the third largest spender in the world  Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Putin added: ‘The ability of our economy to increase military production and services at a given time is one of the most important aspects of military security.  ‘To this end, all strategic, and simply large-scale enterprise should be ready, regardless of ownership.’ The amount it spent on its armed forces more than doubled between the turn of the millennium and 2004, and has shot up even faster in recent years. It is now the world’s third largest military spender, behind the US and China. The Kremlin now boasts regiments of cutting-edge tanks, a next-generation armament of nuclear missiles and will soon have supersonic bombers.

EXCLUSIVE: ‘American mercenaries are torturing’ Saudi elite rounded up by new crown prince

 Billionaire Prince Alwaleed was hung upside down ‘just to send a message’

Saudi princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in a power grab earlier this month are being strung up by their feet and beaten by American private security contractors, a source in the country tells DailyMail.com. The group of the country’s most powerful figures were arrested in a crackdown ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman three weeks ago as he ordered the detention of at least 11 fellow princes and hundreds of businessmen and government officials over claims of corruption. Just last month, the Crown Prince vowed to restore ‘moderate, open Islam’ in the kingdom and relaxed a number of its ultra-conservative rules, including lifting a ban on women driving. DailyMail.com can disclose that the arrests have been followed by ‘interrogations’ which a source said were being carried out by ‘American mercenaries’ brought in to work for the 32-year-old crown prince, who is now the kingdom’s most powerful figure. ‘They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them, insulting them. They want to break them down,’ the source told DailyMail.com.

‘Blackwater’ has been named by DailyMail.com’s source as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president. 

The Saudi crown prince, according to the source, has also confiscated more than $194 billion from the bank accounts and seized assets of those arrested.Highest profile prisoner: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was hung upside to ‘send a message’ after being lured to a meeting with the crown prince. He is worth at least $7 billion Strongman: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, seen as he attended a glittering investment conference in the hotel now being used as a prison, ordered in the mercenaries, the source claimed, and takes part in interrogations personally.  The source says the crown prince is desperate to assert his authority through fear. Nick Bit: this is the man Trump supports and his so called war against “corruption.” Only a fool would invest in any project in Saudi Arabia. Any US investment bank that participates in the Armeco IPO should be charged criminally.

Jamie Dimon would bet Trump will be one-term president

J.P. Morgan Chase CEO says Democrats need ‘pro-free enterprise’ agenda
Getty Images Jamie Dimon fields questions from Mellody Hobson during a luncheon Wednesday in Chicago

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said Wednesday that he wouldn’t bet on President Donald Trump getting a second term. During a Q&A session with Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, at the Economic Club of Chicago, Dimon was asked how much longer he thought Trump would be in office: Three and a half more years, or seven?

“My guess is no better than yours, but if I had to bet, I’d bet three and half [more years].”

Jamie Dimon

But Dimon warned that Democrats need a “pro-free enterprise” agenda to boost the economy, and could blow their chances if they run a Bernie Sanders-type of candidate to oppose Trump. “The Democrats have to come up with a reasonable candidate,” he said. “If they have a complete leftist candidate, Trump will win again.” Dimon, who has called himself “barely” a Democrat, also expressed support for the Republican tax plan, which would include massive corporate tax cuts, although he said wouldn’t push for tax cuts for wealthy individuals. “We need a competitive tax system in a competitive word,” he said. “Had we had the right system seven years ago, trillions of dollars would have been retained” in the U.S., leading to more jobs and better wages.

North Korea plotting NUCLEAR STRIKE during Winter Olympics, host nation fears

THERE are fears North Korea could be plotting a nuclear strike to hit South Korea during next year’s Winter Olympics, a source revealed. Kim Jong-un could be planing an attack on the Winter Olympics The South are believed to be considering scrapping a regular military exercise with the US in a bid to calm tensions with their neighbour ahead of the international event. Local media are reporting an unnamed South Korean presidential office source as saying they believe the joint military efforts could infuriate Kim Jong-un’s corrupt regime. Tensions between the US and the rogue nation have worsened over the past six months and the concerns of a nuclear confrontation are affecting ticket sales for the international games. Recent missile launches from North Korea have proven the rogue nation can travel further than 7000miles. With the South Korean games taking place less than 300miles from the North’s capital they would be within easy reach of any potential strike.The communist state has previously threatened to attack the US. In a statement released just two weeks ago, Kim Jong-u criticised Donald Trump in a statement. He said: “The world is undergoing unprecedented throes because of Trump, a notorious ‘political heretic’. Tensions have been high between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in recent months Kim Jong-un has the nuclear capability to attack South Korea “The US must oust the lunatic old man from power and withdraw the hostile policy towards the DPRK at once in order to get rid of the abyss of doom. “The US had better make a decisive choice… if it does not want a horrible nuclear disaster and tragic doom.” The US leader has previously warned he has the “three largest aircraft carriers in the world are appropriately positioned” to face Pyongyang. The Winter Olympics will be held between February 9 and 25, and the Paralympics will take place between March 8 and 18.

China stocks tumble 3% blue-chip index sees worst drop in 1½ years

Chinese equities saw heavy losses Thursday following new liquidity rules in the country and as global investors opted for safe-haven assets like sovereign bonds. The Shenzhen composite closed down 2.9 percent and the tech-heavy Chinext composite lost 2.77 percent. The Shanghai composite dropped 2.2 percent with the technology, consumer non-cyclical and health-care sectors recording the steepest losses on the day. Meanwhile, the blue-chip CSI 300 index was down by 2.9 percent by the end of the day, its biggest one-day fall in percentage terms since June 13, 2016, according to Reuters. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped by around 1 percent, a day after closing above the 30,000 mark for the first time in a decade. Chinese firms have been under pressure since the government began tightening rules on lending. In particular, last week, banking regulators prepared a new set of rules to oversee the relationship between commercial lenders and their shareholders. Authorities have also introduced other measures, such as restrictions in loans to the shadow banking sector, and there is a general view that China is stepping up the deleveraging of its domestic economy. Nick Bit: China will melt down and give the world the biggest debt melt down EVER. we have a trade for the coming wipe out in china.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has said the S&P 500 is “close” to a pullback

The 2017 global stock market rally is showing signs of fatigue and a 10 percent correction in U.S. equities looks imminent, experts are predicting. Conflict in the Korean Peninsula or a Middle East oil crisis are emerging as the main low-probability but potentially high-impact market events. A central bank policy error or the failure of President Donald Trump’s tax plan are likelier catalysts that may break what Bank of America Merrill Lynch calls the “Icarus melt-up” in global equities led by U.S. stocks. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average notched up their seventh successive monthly win in October while the Nasdaq recorded its fourth straight monthly gain. Signs of potential trouble include U.S. equities valuations being stretched while margin debt — money borrowed by U.S. investors to fund share purchases — stand at record levels. Meanwhile, low volatility, the absence of sharp market moves, points to complacency about potential shocks that may upset the final stages of the bull market.Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day “Investors’ risk-taking has hit an all-time high,” Hartnett said in remarks accompanying the bank’s monthly Global Fund Manager Survey released last week. “A record high percentage of investors say equities are overvalued yet cash levels are simultaneously falling, an indication of irrational exuberance.” The S&P 500 is “close” to a pullback, he said of the index that closed above 2,599 on Tuesday. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) — are causing distortions and raising the risk of a herd-like stampede when the trigger is pulled. The “huge concentration” of ETFs represents “a clear and present danger to the markets,” said Jim Mellon, chairman of asset manager Burnbrae Group. Ambrose said, and newer investment instruments created by the asset management industry such as “risk parity” funds. Those funds, which aim to spread risk equally across several different asset classes within a portfolio, have ballooned to $500 billion in assets in management, according to some estimates. “If there’s a correction for any reason, it will be aggressive … it will be dramatic!

URGENT!! government warns businesses about cyber bug in Intel chips

(Reuters) – The U.S. government urged businesses to act on an Intel Corp alert about security flaws in widely used computer chips as industry researchers scrambled to understand the impact of the newly disclosed vulnerability.  The Department of Homeland Security gave the guidance a day after Intel said it had identified security vulnerabilities in remote-management software known as “Management Engine” that shipped with eight types of processors used in business computers sold by Dell Technologies Inc, Lenovo Group Ltd, HP Inc, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co and other manufacturers.Security experts said that it was not clear how difficult it would be to exploit the vulnerabilities to launch attacks, though they found the disclosure troubling because the affected chips were widely used. “These vulnerabilities affect essentially every business computer and server with an Intel processor released in the last two years,” said Jay Little, a security engineer with cyber consulting firm Trail of Bits.  For a remote attack to succeed, a vulnerable machine would need to be configured to allow remote access, and a hacker would need to know the administrator’s user name and password, Little said. Attackers could break in without those credentials if they have physical access to the computer, he said. Intel said that it knew of no cases where hackers had exploited the vulnerability in a cyber attack. The Department of Homeland Security advised computer users to review the warning from Intel, which includes a software tool that checks whether a computer has a vulnerable chip. It also urged them to contact computer makers to obtain software updates and advice on strategies for mitigating the threat. Intel spokeswoman Agnes Kwan said the company had provided software patches to fix the issue to all major computer manufacturers, though it was up to them to distribute patches to computers users. Security experts noted that it could take time to fix vulnerable systems because installing patches on computer chips is a difficult process. “Patching software is hard. Patching hardware is even harder,” said Ben Johnson, co-founder of cyber startup Obsidian Security. Nick Bit: This is serious. You need to go to the windows Flag on the bottom left of your computer open the search bar and type in “REMOTE ACCESS” and click on “Allow Remote Access To This Computer” TURN OFF “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer.” And CHECK the circle that says “Don’t allow connections to this computer.” Then click “APPLY”… ……..   DO THIS RIGHT NOW!!!!! Here is a tool to use AFTER you have shut down REMOTE ACCESS provided by Intel to see if your computer has the back door in its firm ware. Needles worked on Thanksgiving to provide the instruction page for you:  https://www.wallstreetunderground.com/system_check_tool.asp

Fed doubts on inflation grow, minutes show

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Federal Reserve left the door open a crack for keeping interest rates unchanged until the end of year amid nagging doubts about the persistence of low inflation. Minutes of the Fed’s two-day meeting that ended Nov. 1 show the bank is still on track to raise interest rates soon, but the Fed used somewhat more ambiguous language than it did in September. “Many” Fed policymakers viewed an increase in the benchmark short-term rate as “warranted in the near term,” the minutes said. By contrast Fed officials in September agreed that a rate hike was likely “later this year.” The subtle shift in the Fed’s tone stems from growing questions among senior officials about the low level of inflation despite a surging economy and the tightest labor market in more than a decade and a half.

The 12-month rate of inflation based on the Fed’s preferred PCE index stands at 1.6%, below the bank’s 2% target. The measure is an even weaker 1.3% if food and energy are stripped out.

Although most Fed officials still think inflation has been held down by temporary factors that will soon fade, they are less certain than they were just several months ago.

Low inflation “might reflect not only transitory factors, but also the influence of developments that could prove more persistent,” the minutes showed. “Many participants observed that there was some likelihood that inflation might remain below 2% for longer than they currently expected.” Some Fed members even took the extraordinary step of suggesting the central bank’s own actions or public statements over the past few years might be partly to blame for fostering a decline in long-term inflation expectations.“On the inflation front, there was clearly concern among policymakers,” said senior economist Jennifer Lee at BMO Capital Markets. Despite these nagging doubts the Fed still appears on the cusp of raise interest rates again soon.

North Korea defection: Footage of moment soldier flees

Remarkable footage has been released showing the defection of a North Korea soldier across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on 13 November. He is almost caught by North Korean troops, who shoot at him several times, before he is rescued by South Korean soldiers. A spokesman for the UN command, said the North Korean soldiers who shot at the defector had violated the armistice agreement that halted the Korean war.

China is pumping a lot of cash into its economy to calm investors

A citizen shows new 100 yuan notes she withdrew at a counter of China Construction Bank in the Hangzhou province of China.
VCG | Getty Images A citizen shows new 100 yuan notes she withdrew at a counter of China Construction Bank in the Hangzhou province of China

China has been pumping a lot of cash into its system to lift market sentiment, as the world’s second-largest economy walks a thin line between curbing debt and keeping everything running smoothly. Last week, the People’s Bank of China injected cash totaling 810 billion Chinese yuan ($122.4 billion) in five straight days of daily liquidity management operations. Those actions, which represented the largest weekly net increase since January, were in part a Beijing response to its 10-year sovereign bond yields spiking to multiyear highs, experts said. “Surging Chinese government bond yields hit the nerve of policymakers, so in order to further prevent a greater surge, they injected liquidity into the system to improve market sentiment,” said Ken Cheung, a foreign exchange strategist at Mizuho Bank who focuses on Chinese currencies and monetary policies. Nomura analysts said last week in a note that the bond rout was due to fears of regulatory tightening from Beijing. Bond yields, which move inversely to prices, briefly hit 4 percent in China for the first time in three years A rise in the benchmark government bond yield threatens to drive up overall borrowing costs — and potentially worsen the country’s debt situation. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the PBOC injected a net 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion), but it didn’t expand that money supply on Wednesday. Analysts said that pause may have been due to market sentiment seemingly stabilizing, but it may be short-lived. As Chinese 10-year yields are still near the psychologically important 4 percent level, Cheung told CNBC he expects more injections ahead if necessary, as Beijing needs to “maintain liquidity to please the market.

Oil prices jump on Canadian pipeline disruption to United States

  • Keystone crude deliveries to U.S. cut by 85 percent through November
  • API reports 6.4 million barrel drop in weekly U.S. crude inventories
  • Outside U.S., OPEC to meet Nov. 30 to discuss production targets
  • Markets will only be balanced with more output cuts—JP Morgan

    An oil well owned and operated by Apache Corporation in the Permian Basin of Garden City, Texas, on February 5, 2015.
    Spencer Platt | Getty Images An oil well owned and operated by Apache Corporation in the Permian Basin of Garden City, Texas, on February 5, 2015.
Oil prices jumped by as ongoing cuts of piped Canadian crude to the United States added to falling U.S. crude inventories, while expectations of a prolonged OPEC-led production cut also offered support. Traders said the firm price lift was due to drop in crude supplies from Canada to the United States. TransCanada Corp said it will cut deliveries by at least 85 percent on its 590,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Keystone crude pipeline through the end of November. The pipeline, which links Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries, was shut last week after a 5,000-barrel spill in South Dakota. The deal to curb production is due to expire in March, but OPEC will meet on Nov. 30 in Vienna to discuss the outlook for the policy. “There is growing consensus that OPEC will extend their production cut deal at the end of the month. This confidence along with the current geopolitical environment has kept ICE Brent trading firmly above $60 per barrel,” Dutch bank ING said on Wednesday. “However, an outcome at the OPEC meeting which falls short of market expectations, will likely lead to a selloff, and given the large speculative long in Brent, this could be fairly severe,” it added.

New evidence shows the sugar industry in the US suppressed studies linking sugar to heart disease and cancer

 Nutritionists caution that sugar, not fat, is largely to blame for many of the problems in our modern diets

For decades, sugar lobbyists have been taking aim at studies linking sugar and cancer. When a study last year found that mice on sugar-heavy diets were more likely to develop breast cancer, the Sugar Association, one of the biggest sugar lobbying groups in the US, called it “sensationalised.” The group insists that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established.” But doctors and researchers claim the sugar industry may have been intentionally keeping research about that link from getting published. A new study in the journal PLOS Biology reveals how the Sugar Association worked to suppress scientific findings on the harmful effects of table sugar on rodents nearly 50 years ago.The report details the results of two unpublished studies, known as Project 259, which were funded by the sugar lobby in the late 1960s. Both involved research on the effects of feeding sugar to rats In the first study, one group of rats was fed a balanced diet of cereal, beans, fish and yeast, while the other rats were given a high-sugar diet. The researchers found that the sugar eaters were at greater risk for strokes, heart attacks and heart disease, and had higher-than-normal levels of fat (triglycerides) in their blood. The second study compared sugar-fed rats with starch-fed rats and found that the sugar-eating rodents were more likely to have elevated levels of an enzyme associated with bladder cancer in humans. None of that rodent research saw the light of day, though. The Sugar Research Foundation cut Project 259 short and didn’t publish any of the results. “Our study contributes to a wider body of literature documenting industry manipulation of science,” the researchers, who hail from the University of California San Francisco, wrote in their report. In a statement, the Sugar Association denied that allegation. But this is not the first time we’ve learned that ‘big sugar’ has gotten in the way of science. Last year, some of the same researchers found that the Sugar

Research Foundation — the former name of the Sugar Association — paid off three Harvard scientists in 1967 to make sugar seem less unhealthy and suggest that fat was the problem in our diets instead.

“The kind of manipulation of research is similar to what the tobacco industry does,” study co-author Stanton Glantz said in a release.  Nick Bit: I call sugar White Death. It has NO place in your diet. I cut it completely out of my diet years ago. I get my sugars (fruits and sometimes royal jelly) naturally  which I  limit to Maximum of 20 grams a day. I want you to be healthy and wealthy so make the trades and cut WAY down on Sugars.

Trump: Today, I will grant a presidential pardon — to a turkey

 I can see from the picture  its not that turkey son of his Trump Junior or the son in law from hell Kushner. Their day will come

President Trump spoke for a few moments before introducing the turkey who will get the pardon, Drumstick. “I hear that beautiful turkey. We are here today to continue a wonderful American tradition.” “Today in the spirit of Thanksgiving I will grant a presidential pardon — to a turkey. “It was 70 years ago that the national turkey federation first presented the national Thanksgiving turkey to President Harry Truman who I might add did not grant the pardon. He refused. He was a tough cookie. Today I’m going to be a much nicer President,” he said

Gladimir Putin hosted ‘secret talks’ with Syrian President Assad in Russia

Putin and Bashar al Assad
THE PRESIDENT of Syria travelled to Sochi, in Russia, to meet with Putin, The Kremlin has revealed.
The Syrian President praised his Russian counterpart for his political and military support during the conflict, reportedly saying “thanks to the Russian army Syria was saved as a state”. Al Assad said: “During this period, great achievements have been made, both directly on the battlefield and politically. “Some areas of Syria have been liberated from terrorists, and the Syrians who were forced to leave them earlier could return to these areas. “We must admit that this operation allowed us to promote a political settlement in Syria.” Despite taking place on Monday the meeting was not announced until the early hours of this morning.The despot said he was counting on Russia’s support to find a political settlement in the war-torn nation. He said: ”We count on Russia’s support to ensure that external players do not interfere in the political process and that from the outside they only support the process that the Syrians themselves will lead.”We do not want to look back, we welcome all those who are really interested in a political settlement, we are ready to conduct a dialogue with them.”  Vladimir Putin also spoke of his up coming meeting with the President of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, and the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin said he will discuss the future of Syria with the two leaders.

President Trump declares North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism

Trump and Jong-un

DONALD Trump ramped up the war of words with North Korea yesterday by officially designating it a state sponsor of terrorism.The US president accused Kim Jong-un’s government of supporting “acts of international terrorism” including assassinations on foreign soil.He said: “The United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Should have happened a long time ago.” The rogue state “must end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development,” he added. North Korea joins Sudan, Syria and Iran as countries that the state department identifies as ones that have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”.US officials referred to the killing of the despot’s estranged halfbrother in a Malaysian airport this year as an act of terrorism.  Mr Trump also mentioned student Otto Warmbier, 22, who died after being returned from North Korean detention to the US in an unconscious state. He had been sentenced to 15 years hard labour after confessing to trying to steal a banner. North Korea is pursuing nuclear weapons and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Donald Trump to close charity that broke ‘self-dealing’ rules: reports

US President Donald Trump will dissolve his charitable foundation – which acknowledged breaking federal rules on “self-dealing” last year – once an investigation concludes, US media reported on Monday.In December, Trump vowed to close the organisation to avoid any conflicts of interest, after it was the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of reports in 2016 by The Washington Post. It was found to have made a political contribution, settled legal conflicts, bought a large portrait of the president and engaged in other questionable practices.  In a new tax filing, the foundation announced its intent to close down, and is seeking approval to distribute the funds remaining in its coffers, NBC News reported. The Washington Post said one of Trump’s golf courses repaid more than US$158,000 to the foundation for funds used to settle a lawsuit against the club after a man was unable to claim a US$1 million prize. The Donald J. Trump Foundation said in its tax return for 2016 that it raised US$2.9 million over the course of the year and gave away US$3.1 million – much of it to veterans’ organisations. It received a US$1 million donation from Laura Perlmutter, wife of Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac Perlmutter and another from casino magnate Phil Ruffin. Ivanka Trump gave her father’s foundation US$100,000. The foundation, with assets of under US$1 million, “looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organisations”, a spokesman told NBC News. It did not say when it would close or set a deadline to distribute its assets. The foundation’s practices drew the scrutiny of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who ordered it to cease fundraising in October 2016 until it obtained state licensing.

Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Schneiderman, said the investigation “remains ongoing” and fundraising is suspended following the attorney general’s notice of violation. The foundation “cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete”, Spitalnick said. In a 2015 tax filing, the foundation acknowledged violating a legal prohibition against “self-dealing” that bars charity leaders from funnelling their charity’s money to themselves, their businesses or their families.

Renting is better than owning to build wealth

Getty Images A sign advertising an open house is posted outside a home for sale in Fairfax, California.

The numbers, crunched by Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and the University of Wyoming, determined that the property appreciation most homeowners expect doesn’t necessarily stack up in terms of wealth building. Hence, FAU economist and co-author of the study Ken Johnson says that while the American Dream is alive and well, it needs a revision. “When considering buying and building wealth through equity appreciation versus renting and reinvesting in a portfolio of stocks and bonds, property appreciation does not change the results,” he said. “On average, renting and reinvesting wins in terms of wealth creation regardless of property appreciation, because property appreciation is highly correlated with gains in the traditional financial asset classes of stocks and bonds.”

In other words, the old adage that those who don’t, or can’t, buy a home are “throwing their money away on rent” isn’t necessarily true.

Why? Because it assumes the money that would have been used for a down payment and/or rent savings is spent on consumption.But what if it’s put to work, instead?

Beracha/Skiba/Johnson

When renting was preferable to buying. Numbers over 50% indicate renting is better.

“When you assume that those monies are reinvested at a rate of return, renting, on average, wins in terms of wealth creation,” Johnson said. They assumed a portfolio made up of stocks and Treasurys that yields the same eight-year standard deviation as the equity of a home purchased with a 20% down payment. But he did note that, as a forced-savings vehicle, it’s hard to beat home ownership, primarily because many Americans aren’t invested in the stock market, and having money left over at the end of the month likely wouldn’t change that. “To that end,” he wrote, “we suggest not all but most should own rather than rent due to ownership’s embedded commitment to save.”

German political grandees press parties to compromise for stability

BERLIN (Reuters) – Two veteran allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed to Germany’s parties on Tuesday to strike compromise to form a stable government that could drag Europe’s biggest economy out of a political impasse.German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a meeting of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group at the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, November 20, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt  The collapse of talks between Merkel’s conservative bloc, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and environmentalist Greens has thrown Germany into political uncertainty and raised the prospect of new elections.It has also cast some doubt over whether Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader after 12 years in office, will serve a fourth term after her conservatives bled support to the far-right in a Sept. 24 election, though still won the most seats. There are wider implications too for Europe since the collapse of talks means the euro zone’s ambitious plans for deeper economic integration could now be put on hold, euro zone officials said in Brussels on Tuesday. Merkel’s former finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, now in the impartial role of parliamentary president, said compromise was the order of the day while chancellery chief Peter Altmaier gave parties three weeks to sort out the mess. “We must be in a situation in the next three weeks where there is clarity about whether there can be a stable government on the basis of this election result,” Altmaier, also acting finance minister, told ZDF television.

Merkel has said she would prefer new elections to leading an unstable minority government. Until a government is agreed, Merkel continues as acting chancellor and previous ministers remain in post.

Pressure is growing on the Social Democrats (SPD) whose leader Martin Schulz has refused to contemplate re-entering a Merkel-led government after voters punished them for sharing power with her for the last four years. Many in the SPD fear they would be committing political suicide to start another four-year term with Merkel, who is herself still popular.

Saudi Arabia Squeezes Detainees as It Tries to Seize Assets

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A tycoon was called home to Saudi Arabia from abroad for a business meeting and detained when he returned. A billionaire was ordered to turn himself in or be picked up like a common criminal. An official was called in to discuss an attack that apparently never happened. Now those three are among the more than 200 people detained in luxury hotels in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, as the government tries to seize hundreds of billions of dollars in assets it says they stole through corrupt means. Two weeks after the crackdown began, Saudi officials and their supporters are attempting to justify the indefinite detentions as an ordinary part of a plea-bargaining process, similar to the approach Western prosecutors use with white-collar criminals. But human rights groups say the comparison ignores critical differences, like legal protections for the accused and an independent judiciary to weigh allegations. Instead, such comparisons appear to point to the desire to raise money as a primary motivation behind the sudden arrests. “This appears to be taking place outside anything that resembles a clear legal process,” said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch who monitors Saudi Arabia. “If the Saudi authorities don’t offer a chance for legal defense, then this is nothing other than a shakedown.

White House demands budget cuts to pay for US hurricane relief

The White House has chosen to mark two months since the devastation of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria with one of the cruelest actions of the Trump administration. It is demanding that the cost of hurricane relief for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico be extracted from working people through cuts in domestic social spending. A letter from Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to Congress, sent Friday, proposes $59.2 billion in “offsets,” in other words, money that would be diverted from meeting domestic social needs such as education, health care and infrastructure to pay for relief and reconstruction after the three disasters of the past hurricane season: Harvey in southeast Texas, Irma in Florida, and Maria in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Mulvaney’s letter communicated the administration’s request for another $44 billion in hurricane relief spending, on top of $52 billion already appropriated by Congress in the wake of Harvey and Irma. “The administration believes it is prudent to offset new spending,” Mulvaney wrote. The cuts would affect “projects and activities that are not as high of a priority as responding to this year’s hurricanes in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Only a few of the proposed cuts were itemized, including a whopping $3.9 billion from student financial aid, $1 billion from transportation infrastructure, $520 million from the Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control and coastal emergencies account, and nearly $1 billion from farm security and conservation programs in the Department of Agriculture.

The bulk of the cuts, some $44.4 billion according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would come from extending the mandatory spending caps applied under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the so-called sequester), which would no longer apply to national security spending but would continue to hit domestic programs across the board.

Mueller to interview Trump officials, Kushner aide: report

Mueller to interview Trump officials, Kushner aide: report
© Getty Images
 Investigators for Robert Mueller’s special probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election are expected to speak with multiple senior White House officials in the coming weeks, CNN reported Monday. Among those expected to be interviewed are White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House counsel Don McGahn and Kushner communications aide Josh Raffel. Others are expected to be interviewed as well, CNN reported. It was previously reported that Hicks would speak with Mueller’s team in mid-November. Hicks is a long-time associate of Trump’s who previously worked for the Trump Organization and is viewed as part of the president’s inner circle. McGahn was said to be considering resigning his position in late September amid a flurry of new revelations related to the Russia probe. The new set of interviews appears to show the probe moving closer to Trump and his family. Mueller reportedly asked the Justice Department within the past month to turn over a wide array of documents. His team is particularly interested in materials relating to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal from the Russia probe and Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

 

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former Manafort associate Richard Gates were indicted in the Mueller probe last month.

Saudi Arabia issues furious World War 3 WARNING to Iran as Middle East tensions soar

TENSIONS are rising in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia issued a chilling warning to Iran.
Saudi minister calls for sanctions on Iran for ‘terrorism support’
The senior Saudi official threatened to respond to aggression against the nation, after rebels in Iran fired a missile at the capital Riyadh. The missile, which was fired from Yemen towards Riyadh’s international airport, before being intercepted on November 4, was branded an “act of war” by Saudi Arabia. And Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir ramped up angry rhetoric at an emergency meeting of the Arab League at its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, yesterday.
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir
GETTY Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir

We will not stand idly by in the face of Iran’s aggression

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir

He said: “No Arab capital is safe from Iran’s aggression. “Showing leniency toward Iran will not leave any Arab capital safe from those ballistic missiles. “We will not stand idly by in the face of Iran’s aggression. “Iran created agents in the region, such as the Houthi and Hezbollah militias, in total disregard for all international principles.”The warning was followed by a statement from the Arab League saying it would act against Iran using political strategy.

It read: “We are not declaring war on Iran at this stage.“We have not taken a decision to ask the Security Council to meet, but we are just briefing the council and maybe the next stage would be for us to meet and call for a Security Council meeting and submit a draft Arab resolution against Iran.” Saudi Arabia has become increasingly rattled by Iran after the rocket attack which it claims was launched by Iranian-backed fighters in Yemen. Strife-torn Yemen has been sucked into a deadly tug-of-war with Saudi Arabia giving military backing to the country’s ousted government and Iran offering material support to the country’s Houthi rebels.

Banks prepare to settle EU forex probe

The European Commission is poised to discuss financial settlements – likely to cost billions of euros combined – with UBS, RBS, JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Barclays (NYSE:BCS), HSBC and two other banks for allegedly rigging the forex market, FT reports. The four-year EU probe follows investigations by American, British and Swiss officials, which have fined global banks more than $10B for such offenses. Nick Bit: We have warned you for years the FOREX market is rigged. That is why you got to trade it my way. Notice how the same scum bag banks keep coming up in every scandal

North Korea will have ICBM capable of reaching US this year, says South Korea

A TV screen in Tokyo, Japan, reporting news about a North Korean missile launch on September 15, 2017.
Issei Kato | Reuters A TV screen in Tokyo, Japan, reporting news about a North Korean missile launch on September 15, 2017

South Korea’s spy agency said on Monday North Korea can develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland this year and that it is monitoring developments closely. No sign of an imminent nuclear test had been detected, though the North’s Punggye-ri complex appears ready for another detonation “at any time”, the agency told lawmakers. North Korea, pursuing nuclear and missile programs in defiance of world condemnation, is also enforcing stronger controls on outside information in the face of international sanctions, the lawmakers said after a closed-door briefing. Nick Bit: do not underestimate this Nut Job. No not Kim Um Num Chucks…… Trump. I am telling they will call Trumps bluff!

EU in CHAOS! Merkel ally WARNS no German government before Christmas – bloc RUDDERLESS

AN ANGELA Merkel ally warned there would be no “stable” government in place before the New Year in a shock warning to the European Union ahead of its leader’s summit next month.

 Stephan Mayer, of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party, said it was a “big pity” that a coalition would not be formed before Christmas.
Germany’s deadlocked government coalition talks may have huge repercussions on the European Union as three parties are thought to be deadlocked on the issue of immigration. Speaking on the Today programme, on BBC Radio 4, Mr Mayer said: “We need a stable government. I think in order to avoid new elections, it’s time to talk with the Social Democrats. Germany isn’t used to a minority government.  “Certainly we won’t have a stable government until Christmas and that’s really a big pity. But, on the other hand, we have still a government which is in power and I’m really convinced that Europe, the European Union and the whole world can rely on our current Government.

YOUTUBE:

Stephan Mayer warned there would not be a “stable” German government before Christmas

Certainly we won’t have a stable government until Christmas and that’s really a big pity

Stephan Mayer

“For instance, it lasted seven months in the Netherlands, to form a coalition last time and in 2014 it lasted four months in Belgium.”  But according to a top EU official, Europe will be “damaged” if Mrs Merkel, regarded by many as the mother of Europe, fails to form a government from the stalled coalition talks. The remarks from the EU’s budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger come as the German Chancellor struggled to strike a governing coalition deal. He said a failure to reach a deal would “damage Europe and strengthen the region’s populists” as the bloc waits for its economic powerhouse to form a government. Nick Bit: This is a BIG shit. Remember who really runs the EU…. Germany. While the Germans are facing election they were suppose to negotiate the British exit from the European union. Watch the Euro lunge……..

Russia might quit the OPEC deal

Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak (L) and Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.
Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak (L) and Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih

The world’s largest oil exporter could be poised to back out of a widely anticipated extension to global supply cuts, Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro-Advisory, said Friday. OPEC members are reportedly forming a consensus with other allied crude exporters to extend their production deal by nine months. That would prolong the agreement among OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nations to keep 1.8 million barrels a day off the market through the whole of next year. Nonetheless, Weafer said that while at first glance Russia backing out of a production deal looking to clear a global supply overhang seemed to be a “crazy position to take,” the context of Russia’s changing industrial priorities meant it actually made “perfect sense.” Weafer said if oil stays in the $60 to $65 a barrel range, Moscow’s support for a deal extension beyond March next year would be “very unlikely.” Weafer said that Russia still makes money with the oil price in the mid-$50s and any higher would prompt U.S. shale firms to ramp up production. “The higher the price of oil then raises the risk of more investment into, for example, U.S. shale and Canadian Sands projects, which, as was seen in 2014, risks a big increase in global supply,”He argued, therefore, that Russia’s sustained backing of the OPEC-led deal could “create a risk of another collapse” next year.  The price of oil collapsed from near $120 a barrel in June 2014 due to weak demand, a strong dollar and booming U.S. shale production. OPEC’s reluctance to cut output was also seen as a key reason behind the fall.

 

Senate plan lets mutual funds skip a tax change that hurts individual investors

  • Following complaints, the Senate Finance Committee has decided that a provision preventing investors from minimizing taxes will no longer apply to mutual funds, the Wall Street Journal reported
  • However, the provision will still reportedly hit individuals
  • The proposed rule will bar investors from choosing which shares they want to unload, and instead require them to sell off their oldest orders first

Following a backlash, the Senate Finance Committee has decided a proposal to prevent investors from minimizing taxes will no longer apply to mutual funds, as first proposed — but it will still hit individuals, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. The provision in the U.S. Senate plan will alter tax rules on some securities sales by barring investors from choosing which stock shares they want to unload when selling part of an equity position, the Journal reported. Instead, investors will have to sell off their oldest shares first, the report said.

The change was originally meant to apply to both fund firms and individuals. However, senators exempted mutual funds from the provision after protests by some of the largest firms, including Vanguard Group and Eaton Vance, according to the Journal.

Advisors are urging investors who intend to donate or put for sale specific shares that are not their oldest to do so before the end of the year, the Journal said.

Speier: U.S. House Paid $15 Million to Its Secret Sexual Harassment Victims

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Daily on Tuesday that the U.S. House of Representatives has paid $15 million to alleged victims of sexual harassment by its own members in recent years.

“We do know there is about $15 million that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last ten to 15 years,” she said. “15 million dollars has been paid out over sexual harassment claims,” Todd replied, somewhat shocked. “So, obviously more than one member of Congress.” Pressed for details, Speier said she did not know how many members of Congress were involved. She also explained that victims had signed non-disclosure agreements. “If the taxpayers are involved, don’t we have the right to know?” Todd asked later in the segment. “I think you do have the right to know,” she said. “But right now, under the system, you don’t have a right to know.” Speer described a one-sided investigative process that does everything to protect members of Congress — and little to protect the rights of victims: “Right now it takes almost 90 days to be able to file a complaint. And before actually going through the mediation, you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. And then, you are not represented by counsel, but the harasser is represented by the House of Representatives general counsel.” Todd admitted that Congress’s proclivity to sexual harassment was an open secret in Washington, DC: “It’s like finding out that there was gambling going on in Casablanca. The environment on Capitol Hill, particularly when I was younger in the ’90s and the ’00s. It was sort of well-known that that environment existed.” Earlier in the day, Speier testified at the Committee on House Administration that there were two current members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, who were guilty of sexual harassment. She did not divulge names.

Largest diamond ever auctioned fetches a record US$34 million

The largest diamond ever offered at auction went under the hammer in Geneva on Tuesday evening for nearly US$34 million, a world record for a gem of its kind, the Christie’s auction house said. The Art of Grisogono, sold for 33.5 million Swiss francs (US$33.8 million), after taxes and commissions, at the Christie’s autumn jewel auction. This marks “a new world-record price for a D colour diamond at auction”, said Rahul Kadakia, auctioneer and head of Christie’s international jewels division. D is the highest colour grade attributed to a diamond, indicating that the stone is completely colourless, and thus extremely rare. With a drawn-out round of rapid-fire bidding starting at 20 million francs, the necklace was finally sold to a telephone bidder, who wished to remain anonymous, for well above the asking price of 25 million. But some had expected The Art of Grisogono, which Christie’s described as a “masterpiece of unparalleled beauty and exquisite workmanship”, to fetch even more. “I am disappointed that the Art of de Grisogono didn’t sell for a more dazzling price,” said Tobias Kormind, head of 77 Diamonds, a large European online diamond jeweller, who had said before the sale he thought the price might top US$50 million. The flawless, D colour 11A type diamond was cut from a 404 carat rough rock which was discovered in February 2016 in the Lulo mine in Angola – the 27th biggest rough white diamond ever discovered. The rough was analysed in Antwerp and cut in New York, where a team of 10 diamond-cutting specialists were involved in mapping, plotting, cleaving, laser-cutting and polishing the giant rough rock into a polished, flawless diamond.

Italy on economic BRINK: ‘Financial situation is NOT improving

ITALY has been warned by the European Union that its economy is not improving as the country continues to struggle to tackle its structural deficit. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, 46, said at a press conference: “Italy’s accounts are not improving. “The only thing I can say in my name is that all Italians should know what the real economic situation in Italy is.” The financial situation in Italy, according to Mr Katainen, is due to get worse with Italy’s deficit in 2018 now predicted to be £3.1billion (€3.5billion) more than previously stated by Paolo Gentiloni’s administration in spring. Mr Katainen said there will br consequences of the inability to deal with the problem, warning there was the “health of the Italian economy” to consider and the “future of welfare”. Italy has been warned by the EU over its structural deficit At the end of the meeting of the College of Commissioners in Strasbourg, Mr Katainen responded to a question about whether or not the EU executive intended to send a new letter to Rome concerning Italy’s 2018 budget and what it sees as its insufficient measures to tackle the deficit reduction.

The budget, approved in October, included measures to raise youth employment, tackle poverty and encourage investments ahead of an election in the spring. The financial package aims to lower the budget deficit to 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from a targeted 2.1 per cent this year, while avoiding painful pre-election belt-tightening measures.

Saudi Arabia vows to take on Iran amid warnings region in ‘a dangerous abyss’

SAUDI Arabia has warned it will not hesitate to defend itself against Iran amid warnings the region is being pushed into a “dangerous abyss”.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir
GETTY

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir came out against Iran

Fears of World War 3 have increased in recent weeks amid a spiralling fallout between the Saudi monarchy and Tehran. It came following the surprise resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a close ally of Riyadh.At an emergency meeting in Cairo today, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir stepped up his rhetoric against the Islamic regime. Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers criticised Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah at the emergency meeting warning they would not stand by in the face of Iranian interference in Arab affairs. Jubeir said: “The kingdom will not stand by and will not hesitate to defend its security. “Any leniency in dealing with their policies would only encourage them more, so we must stand together.” Hariri resigned on November 4, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of spreading chaos in the region.

An emergency meeting was held in Cairo
GETTY An emergency meeting was held in Cairo
But Lebanese President Michel Aoun and other politicians accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage and claimed he had been coerced into resigning. Saudi Arabia also accuses Hezbollah of a role in the launch of a missile towards Riyadh from Yemen this month. Iran denies accusations that it supplies Houthi forces there. Today’s emergency Arab foreign ministers’ meeting was called at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss ways of confronting Iran. Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit told ministers that Arab nations would raise the matter with international organisations, including the UN Security Council. He said: ”Iranian threats have gone beyond all

Analysts flee Wall Street

 

Major global investment banks have slashed their equity research budgets by more than half, from a peak of $8.2 billion in 2008 to $3.4 billion in 2017, according to Frost Consulting. The top 10 banks are expected to cut those budgets by another 30 percent in the near term, due largely to MiFID, McKinsey projects. The rule handed down by European regulators, aimed at boosting transparency on costs, is changing the way brokerages can charge for research.

Instead of offering free reports and advice in exchange for some minimum amount of trading business, as they do now, brokerages will have to charge separately for research products and services. Although U.S. regulators are not immediately forcing firms here to comply, many banks are implementing changes globally.

Pricing models rolled out recently by Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase charge thousands of dollars an hour for meetings or phone calls, and tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for basic research. The change has put renewed pressure on senior analysts, who typically earn anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million a year, to prove their worth. “In some areas, you are seeing money being thrown at talented analysts … to make sure they stay through the MiFID implementation period,” said Erick Davis, chief executive officer of Autonomous Research, a boutique shop not attached to a brokerage.

Clapper on Trump-Russia Probe: Would No Longer Make ‘No Collusion’ Comments

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper earlier this year said there was no evidence of collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, but on Friday, he said he would not say the same thing knowing what he knows now. “The only thing we knew about before the assessment on the sixth of January was the multiple meetings going on,” Clapper, who served under former President Barack Obama, told CNN’s “New Day” program. “Certainly for those of us in the national security circle, the metaphor I used was our dashboard warning lights were clearly flashing.” In the 10 months since Trump’s inauguration, Clapper added, “more and more has come out. It is getting more and more compelling as time goes on.”  Clapper, when asked if Kushner’s actions look like either deception or incompetence, said there seems to be a “history or track record of less-than-stellar records keeping and lack of attention to administrative detail” when filling out a background investigation form concerning foreign contacts. “I do think as this whole thing goes on, it’s going to be a challenge for the White House or the people involved with the campaign in providing the same records consistently, [and] to the multiple investigations going on either with the special counsel or in Congress,” said Clapper.Meanwhile, Clapper said he feels Trump refuses to acknowledge the threat posed by Russia, “or even acknowledge, at least consistently, their profound interference in our election and our basic democratic process.”  Clapper also said he has not seen evidence that Trump has any more influence over Russia, from a policy standpoint, than any other president has had. “The Russians are not our friends, and they are not going to, unless it’s in their interest, come to some kind of grand agreement,” said Clapper. “They’re just not.”

North Korea WARNING: Emergency Trump request reveals US arsenal to tackle WW3 threat

NORTH KOREA remains to pose the United State a significant threat, leaving Donald Trump to request emergency funds to tackle the rogue state.
North Korea sparked fears of World War 3 when the hermit nation refused to back down from its nuclear ambitions despite international condemnation. US President Donald Trump started a furious rhetoric war with Kim Jong-un after the despot dictator said he would look to hit the US territory of Guam with an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Mr Trump promised to retaliate with “fire and fury”, even suggesting he would be willing to “totally destroy” the hermit nation if needs must.

Now, the American’s administration is further planning for the possibility of World War 3 by asking for emergency funds to bolster its defences against the rogue state’s missiles.

North Korea news World War 3 Donald TrumpGETTY

North Korea news: Emergency funding document reveals US weapons to combat Kim Jong-un In an emergency request to Congress, Mr Trump’s Government asked for $4 billion to help combat the threat of North Korea. Defence officials are concerned that the US missile defence system may not be sufficient to deter a North Korea attack. Hidden deep within the emergency funding request lies a series of hints to new possible plans Donald Trump is using to combat the North Korea threat. The White house is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on two new approaches to react to a North Korea strike on the United States.

‘No sensible way’ Expert warns against using force with North Korea

The first involves a sophisticated cyber warfare system that would sabotage and interfere with missile launches before they occur, the Pentagon has called this the “left of launch” approach.

The second solution would see North Korean missiles blown up in the “most phase” when they are slow-moving and highly visible targets.

This would involve the use of rocket-firing drones to target missiles as they are launched from North Korea. Leonard H. Caveny, a planner behind the rocket-firing drones, said an accelerated programme could see the weapons produced within a year.

Cook Political Report predicts Democratic ‘wave’ in 2018

Cook Political Report predicts Democratic 'wave' in 2018
© Greg Nash

Cook Political Report, a top nonpartisan election handicapper, is predicting a wave of Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections. In a new analysis, Cook editor Amy Walter says she feels a similarity to a wave of Democratic congressional victories in 2006, in which the party took control of the House, the Senate and a majority of governorships during former President George W. Bush’s second term. Walter argues that the “political mood” surrounding the 2018 race could shift elections in favor of Democrats. “Do not ignore what’s right in front of us,” Walter writes. “A wave is building. If I were a Republican running for Congress, I’d be taking that more seriously than ever.” The analysis follows last week’s first major elections since the 2016 presidential race. Democrats gained major victories across the country, including sweeping statewide elections in Virginia and winning the New Jersey governor’s race. Last month, Cook Political Report shifted 12 House districts in favor of Democrats a year ahead of the 2018 midterms. A poll released at the beginning of November showed Democrats hold an 11-point lead over Republicans on a generic House ballot. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 51 percent of registered voters said they would vote for the Democrat in their district, while 40 percent said they would vote for the Republican. Democrats will need to gain 24 seats to take control of the House in 2018.

Trump calls Hillary Clinton the ‘worst’ loser ever, after she says he’s ‘disgraced’ the office

Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton face off during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton face off during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are at it again. Trump lashed out at his former rival on Saturday, calling Clinton “the worst (and biggest) loser of all time,” after the ex-Democratic nominee made pointed criticisms in a series of interviews about Trump’s political and moral legitimacy.

The president tweeted: “Give it another try in three years,” in an apparent attempt to bait Clinton to run for president again.

The president’s remarks followed two interviews on Friday, in which the former Democratic nominee differentiated between sexual assault accusations against GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Democratic Sen. Al Franken. Clinton questioned why Trump was never hurt by past allegations from women that he behaved improperly, and tried to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Trump’s win by invoking Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 general election. In an interview with Mother Jones, Clinton said she can’t explain why Trump’s candidacy was not affected by the allegations or his bullying of his rival candidates on the campaign trail. “I don’t understand a lot about how he got away with so many attacks and insults and behaviors that allowed him to win the presidency,” the publication reported Clinton as saying. Trump has always denied allegations made by several women to the New York Times before the election, and around the time of the release of the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape. In the second presidential debate, Trump admitted to bragging on the tape about kissing and groping women, but said he actually never did any of those things. On WABC radio, Clinton said the Franken situation differs from Moore because the Minnesota senator apologized, and said he would “gladly cooperate” with an ethics investigation. “I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump who have done neither.” The president has been blasting Franken, while trying to stay out of the Moore situation. Trump’s has said the voters of Alabama should decide on whether to elect Moore in next month’s special election.

Top general says he’d push back against ‘illegal’ nuclear strike order

Washington (CNN)The top US nuclear commander said Saturday he would push back against an order from President Donald Trump for a nuclear strike if it were “illegal.” Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, Gen. John Hyten, who is the commander of US Strategic Command, shared what would happen if he were ordered to launch a nuclear strike.    ” I provide advice to the President,” Hyten said. “He’ll tell me what to do, and if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m gonna say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ Guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.” US Strategic Command oversees US nuclear weapons and missile defense.

Democrats concerned Trump too 'unstable' to be trusted with nukes
Nuclear Launch “football”
 Democrats concerned Trump too ‘unstable’ to be trusted with nukes Hyten’s remarks come after a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this week on the President’s authority to launch nuclear weapons — the first such congressional hearing in more than 40 years. While the President retains that authority, Hyten publicly emphasized that the US military always has the obligation to follow only legal orders, including those entailing the launch of nuclear weapons. Members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee called into question a decades-old presidential authority to deploy nuclear weapons. “We are concerned that the President of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests,” said US Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut. Republican members of the committee were less blunt in their criticism of Trump’s judgment but did seek assurances that there are legal and strategic oversight measures in place to prevent the rash use of nuclear weapons.
Ultimately, some of those who testified warned against legislative changes to rein in the President’s authority to exercise nuclear authority. Nick Bit: Don’t buy this reverse Dr Strangelove Bullshit. Trump has the exclusive authority to launch a global nuclear attack. And yes it scares the shit out of me.

Biden: This is one of the ‘most dangerous times in modern history’

Biden: This is one of the 'most dangerous times in modern history'
© Getty Images Former Vice President Joe Biden lashed out at President Trump on Saturday for creating a “dangerous” climate in America.

Biden, while speaking about his upcoming book at the Miami Book Fair in Florida, paused to discuss the Trump administration. He accused the president of not caring about the working class voters that put him in the White House and said he and his advisors take advantage of “change and pain.”  “I think it’s one of the most dangerous times in modern history,” Biden said, according to the Miami Herald.   “I think that there have always been voices in our country — and particularly in the 19th and 20th century in Europe — that have always tried to take advantage of pain and change,” Biden said, referring to former White House strategist Stephen Bannon and others on his campaign.  Biden reportedly criticized Bannon for his “half-baked nationalism” and “phony populism.” He also questioned if Bannon and Trump really cared about the voters that supported his campaign.  “Do you think [Trump] really cares about the kids I grew up with in Scranton, Pennsylvania, as far as their economic well being?” Biden said. The former vice president didn’t shy away from sharing his concerns with the Democratic party either, placing some blame for election loss on “elites in my party.” But he ended on an optimistic note.

“The world is ours. The rest of the world is looking to us,” he said.

The appearance follows the release of Biden’s memoir titled, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.” The book focuses on the death of Biden’s son from cancer and the former Delaware senator’s decision not to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Saudi prince’s desperate gamble to dominate the Middle East could backfire

 Mohammed bin Salman may provoke proxy war with Iran in Lebanon
Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (widely known by his initials, MBS), who is overseeing an historic (and destabilizing) transformation of the kingdom’s economy, has ordered the arrest of many of the country’s most powerful princes and officials. The move, framed as an anti-corruption drive, is a brazen bid to consolidate power. But MBS’s ambitions extend far beyond his country’s borders. On the same day, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a live television broadcast from Riyadh, accusing Iran of causing “devastation and chaos” through its meddling in other countries. When, days later, Riyadh was targeted by a long-range missile launched from Yemen by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the Saudis lost no time in warning Iran of a possible war. Saudi leaders also denounced Hezbollah — Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shia militia — for aiding the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon increasingly looks like the work of an immature gambler.

Citing the inclusion of Hezbollah members in Lebanon’s government, Saudi Arabia accused the country of declaring war on the kingdom, and ordered its citizens to leave the country. MBS clearly hopes to establish Saudi Arabia as the Persian Gulf’s sole hegemon, and the protector of Sunni Islam throughout the Middle East. But his efforts increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler. Saudi Arabia has already suffered from the farcical failure of its blockade on Qatar, not to mention its two disastrous attempts to stem Iranian advances in Syria and Yemen. Add to that MBS’s ham-fisted political purge, and the escalation in Lebanon may be viewed as a desperate gambit. Yet provoking Iran is probably not in Saudi Arabia’s best interests. As MBS knows all too well, the kingdom cannot match Iran’s military might. And his likely back-up plan — increasing security cooperation with Israel — might not work as he would like.

Continue reading “Saudi prince’s desperate gamble to dominate the Middle East could backfire”

One in five American households have ‘zero or negative’ wealth

 

MarketWatch photo illustration/Everett Collection ‘Millions of American families struggle with zero or negative wealth, meaning they owe more than they own,’ a new report finds.

Millions of Americans are living on the edge. One in five households has zero or negative wealth, according to a report released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C. What’s more, an even greater share of African-American (30%) and Latino (27%) households are “underwater” financially. The combined impact of $1 trillion in credit-card debt, $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and stagnant wages are taking a toll. “Millions of American families struggle with zero or negative wealth, meaning they owe more than they own,” the report found. “This means that they have nothing to fall back on if an unexpected expense comes up like a broken down car or illness.” And inequality could get worse through new tax cuts for the wealthy. President Trump’s tax proposals won’t give America’s middle class the reprieve they need to grow their wealth and recover from the financial crash, said Josh Hoxie, who heads up the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies. After-tax income would rise by nearly 7% for households earning over $1 million per year, compared to less than 2% for those earning between $50,001 and $1 million,  And less than 1% for those earning less than $50,000, according to Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore IS investment banking advisory firm who worked in the Treasury Department under President Obama.

Looking at private income, such as earnings and dividends, and government benefits like Social Security, the income of families near the top increased roughly 90% from 1963 to 2016, while the income of families at the bottom rose less than 10%, according to a separate report released last month by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit policy group based in Washington, D.C., while most other groups have been left behind.

Volkswagen accelerates push into electric cars with $40 billion spending plan

 Elon Musks New house on Mars. Great place to hide from your creditors!

WOLFSBURG/HAMBURG (Reuters) – Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) approved a 34 billion euro ($40 bln) spending plan on Friday that accelerates its efforts to become a global leader in electric cars.The world’s largest carmaker by unit sales will spend the money on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022, it said after a meeting of its supervisory board.  “With the planning round now approved, we are laying the foundation for making Volkswagen the world’s No. 1 player in electric mobility by 2025,” Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told a press conference. The carmaker’s projected spending is significantly bigger than its pledge two months ago that it would invest more than 20 billion euros on electric and self-driving cars through 2030.Electric and autonomous vehicles are widely seen as the keystones of future transport, but pioneers such as Tesla Inc and other manufacturers are still working out how to make money on them as poor charging infrastructure, high battery costs and electric vehicles’ still limited driving range weigh on customer demand.  The group said its total investments in electric vehicles capacity and projects will amount to about 72 billion euros by 2022, confirming an earlier Reuters story. To fund greater spending on electric vehicles, it will draw on cost savings in all areas of operations, including vehicle development, administration and manufacturing, as well as strong cash reserves. Its net liquidity still stood at around 24 billion euros after nine months even though about 17 billion euros of funds have been paid out to cover costs for its dieselgate scandal. VW’s core autos division has made cost savings of about 1.9 billion euros since the start of this year, nearly meeting budgeted cost cuts for the full year. Nick Bit: Elon hurry and get your Mars rocket going. They have no extradition from Mars. And if your careful your angry creditors and customers, as their shit cars are making fall apart, won’t be able to find you…..

The tax-cut package is extremely unpopular, and it’s not hard to see why

They are laughing at you. The lobbyists for Wall Street, the rich and powerful are having a field day. Basically what this is is a TAX INCREASE on most Americans and A Tax Break Bonanza for Billionaires

The latest survey from Quinnipiac out this week found that just 25 percent of voters approve of the GOP tax-cut plan while 52 percent disapprove. A majority of voters, 61 percent, believe the plan will benefit the wealthy, while just 24 percent view it as good for the middle class. The Quinnipiac survey merely confirms previous polls showing very low support for the tax-cut plan. A recent NBC News/Wall Street journal poll also found that just 25 percent of voters view the GOP plan as a “good idea.” Public opinion surveys consistently show Americans, including in Trump’s blue-collar base, believe corporations and the rich should pay more in tax, not less.  Higher education students may face crippling tax hike with proposed GOP tax bill  Republicans’ biggest problem is not getting this tax-cut plan approved. Their problem is that the public mostly despises what they are doing and may give them no political reward for it in 2018 or beyond. There are some obvious reasons for the tax bill’s dismal popularity. Rhetoric from House Speaker Paul Ryan and others aside, the GOP tax-cut effort is mainly about cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent on the theory that this will lead to faster economic growth and higher wages. Even if that happens — and voters are highly skeptical that it will — any gains won’t wind up in people’s pockets for a couple of years. the modestly affluent in high-tax states, would see increases in the first year. By 2023, tax rates under the House bill would rise for many low- and middle-income taxpayers, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the official congressional scorekeeper on tax bills. Taxes would keep going down on the wealthiest taxpayers through gradual elimination of the estate tax, ending the alternative minimum tax and reduction in rates paid by wealthy owners of pass-through businesses. The numbers are even worse on the Senate side, where the state and local deduction is eradicated entirely and individual tax cuts expire in 2025 while a less-generous measure of inflation remains and will push people more quickly into higher tax brackets. By 2027, according to the JCT, everyone earning less than $75,000 on average would face a tax increase. And those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would see a 25 percent hike.

Saudi Arabia ‘settlement’: The kingdom is offering detained elites hostages freedom for their assets

Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images Prince Mohammed bin Salma
Saudi authorities are reportedly offering cash-for-freedom deals to dozens of the nation’s wealthy elites who were detained earlier this month on charges of corruption

To be sure, the arrangements threaten to provoke allegations of extortion and harden pockets of opposition to bin Salman at a sensitive time. King Salman bin Abdulaziz is expected to hand the throne to the crown prince soon, and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is seeking foreign investment to underwrite its economic transformation plan. The appropriations are likely to chafe some centers of power in the kingdom, they also stand to bolster bin Salman’s standing among average Saudis, many of whom resent the excesses of the sprawling royal family, analysts told CNBC.

“The purge increases the risk that Mohammed bin Salman faces challenges over the short term,” said Ayham Kamel, head of risk consultancy Eurasia Group’s Middle East and North Africa practice. “However, this consolidation and purge — or anti-corruption campaign — will eventually give him more power and allow him to have more leverage in implementing Vision 2030, his transformation plan, and generally changing the structure of Saudi Arabia.” On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that Saudi officials were offering to release detainees who signed over assets. Authorities sought to appropriate as much as 70 percent of some Saudis’ wealth in a bid to shore up the nation’s finances, which have been pressured by a prolonged oil price downturn, according to the Times. Reuters also reported on the deals, but said it could not confirm the 70-percent appropriations. The crackdown has reportedly expanded. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that authorities have detained about two dozen military officials and several businessmen in recent days. Bin Salman is  creating a “kingdom of fear,” said Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and energy policy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Nick Bit: this is very simply extorting badly needed money from the kingdoms wealthy. If they are going to steal from their brother and cousins.. what the hell do you think they will do to the infidel foreign investors. Try screwing them to the wall!

AP sources: Trump Tower meeting in 2016 draws more scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) — Earlier this year, a Russian-American lobbyist and another businessman discussed over coffee in Moscow an extraordinary meeting they had attended 12 months earlier: a gathering at Trump Tower with President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and his then-campaign chairman. The Moscow meeting in June, which has not been previously disclosed, is now under scrutiny by investigators who want to know why the two men met in the first place and whether there was some effort to get their stories straight about the Trump Tower meeting just weeks before it would become public, The Associated Press has learned. Congressional investigators have questioned both men — lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer and former Trump business partner — and obtained their text message communications, people familiar with the investigation told the AP. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team also has been investigating the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which occurred weeks after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination and which his son attended with the expectation of receiving damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. A grand jury has already heard testimony about the meeting, which in addition to Donald Trump Jr., also included Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Scott Balber, a lawyer for Kaveladze, confirmed that his client and Akhmetshin met over coffee and that the Trump Tower meeting a year earlier was “obviously discussed.” But Balber denied his client had been contacted by associates of Trump before he took the meeting with Akhmetshin, or had been aware of plans to disclose the Trump Tower gathering to the U.S. government. Nick Bit: this is a IQ test. Are we suppose to be so stupid  to believe that the ENTIRE Trump senior Team met with Russians at the Trump Tower during the campaign. AND met with known Russian agents and Lobbyists. And these said lobbyists who were registered as Russian agent and known to work day and night to  remove sanctions. And we are to believe they DID NOT discuss sanctions nor the campaign… but poor little orphans….. YEA RIGHT!!! Trump stop trying to make a idiot out of ME!!!!

China keeps focus on friendship with North Korea, no public word on nuclear crisis as envoys meet

China has tried to underscore traditional ties with North Korea, making no public mention of the crisis on the Korean peninsula in a brief statement after a Beijing envoy met a senior Pyongyang official on Friday.

China sent veteran diplomat Song Tao, head of the Communist Party’s international department, to Pyongyang to brief North Korean official Choe Ryong-hae on last month’s twice-a-decade national congress. In the statement after the meeting, the department said the friendship between the two countries was a source of “valuable wealth” and they should advance the relationship. “China-North Korean friendship was cultivated and founded by the leaders of previous generations in the two countries and they are valuable assets of the two countries,” it said. “Both sides must work hard together to promote further development of relations between the two parties and two countries to benefit their two peoples.” Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said Song told Choe “in detail” about the congress, and stressed China’s focus on traditional friendly relations between the two countries. In a Twitter post on Thursday, Trump said Song’s visit was a “big move”. But analysts said Song might have limited influence given the mistrust between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Beijing. East China Normal University professor Shen Zhihua said Kim did not have “firm” trust in Beijing, and contact between the two neighbours was continuing only as a matter of convention. “Only Kim Jong-un has the last word on whether North Korea will take the offer of a peaceful solution, no matter what deal Beijing and Washington reach,” Shen said. “China has limited influence over North Korea. The foundation of their political alliance has been dismantled. The strong trust between the two no longer exists.” Nick Bit: North Korea is preparing a nuclear attack on the South. Because they know that as long as they have Nukes threatening Tokyo that the world will not do squat. And in secret China will applaud the move. This will happen as the Trump impeachment and depression get started.

OPEC face the dilemma of Record Breaking US OIL Production

 
AFP/Getty Images Headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna

OPEC members will hold an official meeting later this month that’s widely expected to result in an extension of a pact limiting crude-oil production beyond its March expiration date. But strength in oil, which recently climbed notched 28-month highs before retreating sharply this week, and growing U.S. crude output, could give members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries reason to think twice when they meet on Nov. 30 about exactly when to mark the end of the pact. OPEC members pledged in November of last year to reduce their crude output by 1.2 million barrels a day from October 2016 levels to 32.5 million barrels a day in an effort to drawdown a global stock overhang and rebalance supply and demand. Several non-OPEC countries, including Russia, joined the pact, pledging an additional cut of nearly 600,000 barrels a day. The agreement was implemented in January. So there is a “general belief that OPEC would like to extend the agreement to the end of September, but given the strength in prices, they may be reluctant to do that,” said Ross. That may help lead them to “some halfway measure,” in which they decide to extend the agreement beyond March but not specify the length of the extension. That’s “the best game plan for them,” he said.

‘It is better to agree on an extension now and turn a blind eye to cheating, than to end the deal and start negotiations all over against if prices decline.’ Anas Alhajji, independent energy expert

 

 

Trump hypocrisy as he attacks Franken and Supports Moore and Himself

Trump risks hypocrisy charges with Franken attack
© Getty

President Trump injected himself into the national debate over sexual harassment again, a risky move that opens Trump up to charges of hypocrisy over his past behavior and his reluctance to rebuke Republicans who have been accused of misconduct. Trump went after Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), after a woman accused the senator of forcibly kissing and groping her.
The woman, a news anchor named Leeann Tweeden, released a photo of Franken leering into the camera and touching her while she slept during a USO trip in 2006. Trump responded over Twitter, saying the picture “speaks a thousand words” and ripping Franken for “lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.” Trump responded to the Franken allegations, accusing the senator of hypocrisy on sexual harassment issues.

“The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words,” Trump tweeted. “Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? …..”

Franken, once a rising star on the left who had been considered a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is suddenly a pariah in liberal circles.  But the blowback against Trump for seeking to capitalize on Franken’s downfall has been just as swift. Trump’s senior aides and advisers have been swamped with questions about why the president is comfortable attacking Franken when more than a dozen women have made similar accusations about him. And Trump’s critics are howling about a double-standard, pointing to the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape and noting that the president has stopped short of demanding Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) drop out of the race amid disturbing allegations that he molested young girls.  “If your moral outrage has been exhausted, Trump always knows how to refuel the tank,” said Andrew Weinstein, a GOP operative and ‘Never Trump’ Republican.  “He has no sense of irony or decency,” Weinstein said. “Rather than tallying hypothetical Franken photos, Trump should be held to account for his scarlet number — the 16 alleged victims of his own sexual misconduct.” Nick Bit: This is a outrage the Pincher and chief has left behind a long line of female carnage. The difference is Trump is a nasty piece of work and will DO ANYTHING to silence females who come forward. He is just as guilty as the rest….. So these is the champion of American Christians. He has fooled a lot of people. AND when the Trump depression or worse comes they will deeply regret that the sold their soul to the Trump/Putin devil.

Tesla is ‘going out of business,’ says former GM exec Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz: There's no secret sauce at Tesla
Bob Lutz: Tesla’s going out of business

Tesla is a “losing enterprise” that won’t last, Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of General Motors, told CNBC on Friday. “The company, folks, is going out of business. At this rate they’ll never get to 2019,” the well-known Tesla skeptic said in an interview with “Power Lunch.” Among the issues facing the electric-car maker are fixed costs that are out of control, an inefficient manufacturing operation and no dealership network, Lutz said. Plus, there’s nothing about Tesla that can’t be easily duplicated by other automobile companies, he argued. “There is no secret sauce in Tesla. They use the same lithium-ion batteries as everybody else.” In fact, he thinks GM might even have an advantage because its batteries are arguably more capable and lower cost. T

“They are hemorrhaging cash. They’re going to have to go for another capital raise,” he said.

Tax plan could hurt homeowners and create credit risk in high tax areas

The Congressional tax overhaul could put a dent in home values in high-tax states and create looming credit risks for local governments.

S&P Global Ratings said this week that the proposals to eliminate state and local tax deductions could be a direct blow to residents of high tax states because of the potential hit to property values. In turn, there could “be a credit impact from both the tax base reductions and resulting lower tax revenues” for local governments dependent on property taxes.

Most affected are California, New York, and New Jersey, while states with lower taxes, like Florida and Texas, could see benefits, the S&P analysts said. The House approved its version of the tax bill Thursday, ending deductions of state income taxes and limiting property tax deductions to $10,000. The Senate version, yet to be approved, would eliminate deductions entirely for property taxes.

Tax plan in jeopardy over SALT deductions

Tax plan in jeopardy over SALT deductions 

“This is one deduction that really strikes at the heart of middle America, particularly in California,” said California State Controller Betty Yee, in an interview. “We’re looking at really affecting families that have to think about other ways to provide financial security. Do they want a home to provide them some security over the longer term? It would affect retirement security, the local budgets, state budget and credit risk not only at a state and local level but on an individual level.”

The municipal market has been reeling from the other aspects of the Congressional tax proposals, which could greatly reduce the amount of new tax-free muni bond issuance if the most sweeping changes are finalized.

The House Thursday voted to eliminate tax exemption for private activity bonds, used by universities, hospitals and lower income housing, as well as advanced refundings, which is about one-quarter of muni issuance. The Senate, however, proposes retaining the private activity bonds, about 20 percent of issuance, but would still eliminate advanced refundings, which are issues that are used to replace an earlier bond deal that would be repaid at some future date. S&P said the proposed changes in both bills will likely lead to higher borrowing costs for municipal issuers, and that would add to budget strains.

Forget tax reform. The looming government shutdown could be an even bigger disaster for GOP

 

Congress must pass a spending bill or short-term continuing resolution by December 8th. Otherwise the federal government will run out of funds when the stopgap measure agreed to in early September expires. This will require considerable cooperation among Republican rank-and-file which has been in short supply since President Trump disrupted the GOP’s long-standing norms. While Republicans may rule the White House and Congress, their patchwork alliance of moderates, traditional conservatives, Tea Partiers, and America first populists is tenuously held together at the moment by an allegiance to tax cuts.

Tax reform is “must-pass” legislation. Failure is not an option. If we don’t pass tax reform, we will lose our majorities in Congress. This party unity, or at least the appearance of it for the time being, exists on just one agenda item.

The tax reform veneer is thinly papering over all the major GOP divisions on other issues, like government spending and the debt ceiling. Once tax reform is complete or stalls, these unresolved inter-party battles will reemerge with a vengeance. Come December, Congress will need to fund the government to both avoid a shutdown and spending cuts from sequestration that would be triggered in January absent a deal, threatening both the military’s budget and domestic programs.

“To avoid a filibuster in the upper chamber, Republicans will also need the support of at least eight Democrats.”

The current façade of Republican unity will quickly dissipate if GOP leaders ask the rank-and-file to vote for spending increases that are anathema to fiscal conservatism. This is the same GOP that forced a government shutdown in 2013 and ousted its own leader, John Boehner, due to his “insufficient” fiscal conservative bona fides. A December government shutdown would be the first shutdown ever to occur when one party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress, a stark milestone for government dysfunction. The resulting political disaster for Republicans from such a shutdown would dwarf any failure on tax reform.

Tax Cuts Are Likely to Increase Trade Deficit

Shipping containers at the Port of Mobile in Alabama. The Trump administration regards the trade deficit as a drain on the American economy. Credit Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON — President Trump has promised to cut federal taxes and reduce the nation’s trade deficit with the rest of world — two economic priorities that are in direct conflict with each other. A wide range of experts agree that cutting taxes is likely to increase the trade deficit, which measures the difference between what the United States imports from other countries, like televisions and fruit, and what it exports, like cars and meat. In fact, a larger trade deficit is not a byproduct of the tax plan — it is the heart of the plan. The administration has said its $1.5 trillion tax cut will not balloon the federal budget deficit because the plan will generate enough economic growth to essentially pay for itself. The most optimistic projections of the likely economic benefits of the tax cuts are driven by increased trade deficits. “I do expect a major trade deficit, absolutely, as part of this,” said Laurence J. Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University  The connection between tax cuts and trade deficits is not controversial. The mechanics are straightforward: Republicans are proposing to reduce federal revenue through a $1.5 trillion tax cut without a commensurate reduction in federal spending. To pay for the tax cuts, the government will need to borrow more dollars, some of which will come from foreign investors. Foreigners will get those dollars by selling more goods and services to Americans, which will widen the trade gap.  “There may not be much that macroeconomists can predict with accuracy, but a large tax cut will lead to a budget deficit, which will lead to a trade deficit,” said Jeffrey Frankel, a professor of economics at Harvard. One widely cited economic simulation, the Penn Wharton Budget Model, projects that the tax plan approved by the House on Thursday would increase the trade deficit by about $800 billion over 10 years. That would increase the annual trade deficit about 16 percent from its 2016 total of $502 billion. President Trump has repeatedly promised to reduce the trade deficit, which he again described as “unacceptable” in a speech on

China wins its war against South Korea’s US THAAD missile shield – without firing a shot

Seoul signs up to military constraints in return for Beijing lifting economic sanctions, setting a worrying precedent for China’s regional rivals

When South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on November 11 to “normalise exchanges”, they ended a conflict that began more than a year ago with Seoul and Washington’s decision to deploy an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea. Beijing, which claims the system’s radar can be used by the United States to spy on China, retaliated against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system with unofficial sanctions against the South. Seoul has now agreed to accept military constraints in return for the lifting of those sanctions, creating a worrying precedent for Beijing’s rivals in the region.

The military constraints are known as the “three nos”, meaning Seoul agrees there will be no further anti-ballistic missile systems in Korea, no joining of a region-wide US missile defence system and no military alliance involving Korea, the US and Japan.

South Korean protesters try to block two US military vehicles hauling THAAD missile defence systems in Seongju. Photo: EPA

Economically, after being suffocated for 16 months by China’s “doghouse diplomacy”, many South Korean businesses were left gasping for air. Hyundai’s sales in China dropped 64 per cent in the second quarter of 2017 from a year before, Lotte’s supermarket sales in China fell 95 per cent over the same period and Chinese tour groups to South Korea were banned outright, which alone led to an estimated revenue loss of US$15.6 billion this year, according to Hyundai Research Institute. “Moon Jae-in is on the political left, which tends to believe ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, so they dislike Japan and feel closer to China for historical and political reasons,” said Joseph E. Yi, associate professor of political science and international studies at Hanyang University. “The left-wing in Korea is very anti-Japan and has a post-colonial outlook, seeing China and Korea as opponents of Japanese colonialism.” Nick Bit: Go figure: if their ever is a country besides Israel that needs a missile shield its the North Koreans. I could easily see in the future a full blown attack on South Korea by the North. And nothing could make China happier.

China to transfer state assets to pension funds in drive to make up for shortfalls

Pilot scheme is latest attempt to tackle problem caused by ageing population

China will begin a pilot programme this year to transfer shares in state-owned firms to social security funds in an effort to make up for shortfalls in the nation’s pension scheme, according to a notice published by the cabinet on Saturday. The new policy calls for an initial 10 per cent of equity in state firms to be transferred to the national pension fund, with the plan limited to a small number of central and provincial firms in an initial trial to start this year.  China is working to expand the resources of its pension funds as the population ages and obligations rise. Many provinces are already under severe pressure to meet pension repayments. A recent effort has seen Beijing for the first time allow pension funds, whose investments had been limited to low-yielding bank deposits and treasuries, to invest in stocks and other assets.  China’s pension fund has US$317 billion up its sleeve … and now it’s shopping for overseas investments The latest plan would see central and regional social security funds directly holding shares in state-owned companies, allowing retired workers to benefit from the dividends generated by government-owned assets. “Over the course of economic development and the ageing of the population, pressure on basic pension payments has continuously increased,” the council said in the statement, which was dated November 9 but released on Saturday.  China’s pensioners to get customised mutual-fund products for stock investment “In order to fully achieve generational equity and ensure achievements from developments of state firms are shared by all, it has been decided to transfer a portion of state-owned capital to fortify social security funds.”

Trump to Pay His Own Legal Bills, Set Up Fund to Cover Staff

President Donald Trump has started paying his own legal bills related to the Russia probe, rather than charging them to his campaign or the Republican National Committee, and is finalizing a plan to use personal funds to help current and former White House staff with their legal costs. The Office of Government Ethics and a tax firm are working on a mechanism for Trump to contribute to staffers’ legal bills that would meet regulatory and ethical standards, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said in an interview. The White House is hoping the issue will be resolved shortly, said Cobb, who declined to elaborate further on the details of the plan.

While there is no law barring a president from giving gifts to those who report to him, Trump’s case raises unique questions about whether his contributions could influence the testimony of staffers, said Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics who has criticized the president over other conflicts of interest. 

Cobb said the White House is aware of the ethical questions and has been taking steps to address them in recent weeks. “The president has assumed responsibility for his own legal fees and while he isn’t involved directly in the creation of a mechanism to take care of staffers, it is important to him that they be taken care of and whatever approach is agreed upon by OGE and relevant tax authorities be bulletproof,” said Cobb. It is possible, however, that the final plan ethics and tax officials come up with to cover White House staff legal costs wouldn’t allow for Trump to make a contribution, said a person familiar with the process.

Trump’s legal bills had previously been covered by the RNC, which paid out $131,250 to Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow and $100,000 to attorney John Dowd.

The legal fees for Trump and White House officials could go much higher depending on how long Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation lasts and whether its scope expands. Cobb has said he expects Mueller to wrap up interviews with White House staff shortly after Thanksgiving and conclude his investigation early in 2018. But a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigations expects it to continue well into next year. For White House staff, the mounting legal bills have been putting some under a financial strain. One interview with a congressional committee or Mueller could exceed $30,000 in legal costs. Among those who have been interviewed are former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former spokesman Sean Spicer, and National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg, according to people familiar with the investigations. Mueller has also indicated he wants to speak with White House Counsel Don McGahn and communications director Hope Hicks, said another person close to the investigation. Trump is only considering using is personal funds to pay for the legal bills of current and former White House aides, not people who served exclusively during the campaign.

Continue reading “Trump to Pay His Own Legal Bills, Set Up Fund to Cover Staff”

Wells Fargo dismisses consumer lending head Codel

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co has fired its head of consumer lending over unsuitable communications he had with a former employee, the bank said on Friday, the latest upheaval at a lender roiled by scandal for more than a year. Franklin Codel, a member of the bank’s management committee, acted in a manner that was contrary to internal policies and expectations of senior leaders, Wells Fargo said in a statement. The bank expects to appoint a permanent successor by the end of the year.  The dismissal was not due to any failures within the consumer lending business, nor was it related to a long-running sales practices scandal, Wells Fargo said.

In fact, Codel was a key executive trying to clean up the mess left behind by the scandal. Promoted to the role just over a year ago, he was overseeing efforts to fix problems related to auto lending and mortgages that Wells Fargo unveiled in August.

Wells, the third-largest U.S. bank, has been mired in scandal since September 2016 after reaching a regulatory settlement over its opening perhaps millions of accounts without customers’ knowledge to meet sales targets. Since then, it has faced more lawsuits and probes, and the number of potentially affected customers has grown to 3.5 million. In auto lending, Wells has said more than 800,000 borrowers may have been charged for auto insurance they did not need. It also found other customers were likely enrolled in mortgage rate locks and add-on products they did not want. Nick Bit: I would love to know the REAL story!

World’s first human head transplant successfully carried out

The world’s first human head transplant has been carried out on a corpse in China in an 18-hour operation that showed it was possible to successfully reconnect the spine, nerves and blood vessels.  At a press conference in Vienna on Friday morning, Italian Professor Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, announced that a team at Harbin Medical University had “realised the first human head transplant” and said an operation on a live human will take place “imminently”. The operation was carried out by a team led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, who last year successfully grafted a head onto the body of a monkey.  Prof Canavero, said: “The first human transplant on human cadavers has been done. A full head swap between brain dead organ donors is the next stage. “And that is the final step for the formal head transplant for a medical condition which is imminent.

Professor Sergio Canavero shocked the world in 2015 with his transplant plans Credit: Pietro Martinello

World’s biggest sovereign wealth fund seeks to ditch oil and gas, predicting permanent price falls

Norway central bank, which runs the country’s sovereign wealth fund – the world’s biggest – has told its government it should dump its shares in oil and gas companies, in a move that could have significant consequences for the sector.

Norges Bank, the which manages Norway’s US$1 trillion fund, said ministers should take the step to avoid the fund’s value being hit by a permanent fall in the oil price. The fund was built on the back of Norway’s hydrocarbon wealth, and around 300bn krone (US$36billion), is invested in oil and gas companies. The recommendation by Norway’s central bank pushed down shares in European oil companies. Europe’s index of oil and gas shares hit its lowest level since mid-October on the news. “Therefore, it is the bank’s assessment that the government’s wealth can be made less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil prices if the GPFG [sovereign wealth fund] is not invested in oil and gas stocks.” The Norwegian government said it would consider the proposal, but a decision should not be expected until next year and a “thorough assessment” was required. “The issues raised by Norges Bank are complex and multifaceted,” the finance ministry said. The bank did not set a deadline for when the fund should drop its oil and gas holdings. However, it made clear that its recommendation involved divesting from existing oil and gas shares as well as ruling out future investments. The fund’s biggest oil and gas holding at the end of 2016 was US$5.36 billion in Anglo Dutch firm Shell, followed by US$3.06billion in ExxonMobil, US$2.04 billion in fellow US oil firm Chevron, US$2.02 billion in the UK’s BP, and US$2.01 billion in France’s Total. It also has shares worth more than US$1 billion in oil services firm Schlumberger and Italy’s Eni.

“It is not surprising that we see the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund managers no longer prepared to take the increasing risk associated with oil and gas assets, which do not have a long-term future,” he said.

Jan Erik Saugestad, chief executive of Storebrand Asset Management, said: “From a financial point of view this makes perfect sense, and we have been arguing for this for many years. This is a rational move given the overall exposure the Norwegian economy has towards oil.”

North Korea will use NUCLEAR weapons to ‘reunify’ peninsula under a ‘socialist regime’

NORTH Korea will become “aggressive” towards the South if it develops nuclear weapons which it will use to “unify” the peninsula under a “socialist regime’, according to experts.
Some scholars and policy analysts fear the North will use its nuclear arsenal to threaten South Korea and the US into making concessions. These include ending joint US-South Korean Military drills and removing US troops from the South. Senior analyst at the Sejong Institute think-tank, Cheong Seong-chang, said this can be used as a prelude to war with South Korea. He said: “A North Korea with nukes will become more aggressive towards a South without nukes.”

North-Korea-nuclear
GETTY
Cheong Seong-chang argues the primary goal of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme is to reunify the peninsula under Kim Jong-un. South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon agrees. He said he is alarmed at the increasing signals that North Korea sees nuclear weapons as a way to achieve its decades-old dream of unifying the Korean Peninsula. The expert said: “Now that they are at the completion phase, they are coming up with new rhetoric that they haven’t been emphasising for a long time, like unifying the peninsula under a socialist regime.”He warned against interpreting the two-month lull in North Korean missile launches as evidence as a de-escalation in tensions as the North has not returned dialogue.  Both experts believe the nuclear weapons will be used to reunify the Korean peninsula

 

Senators demand Jared Kushner deliver emails about ‘Russian back-door overture’ and WikiLeaks messages

 Letter sent to US President Trump’s son-in-law gives him until November 27 to submit the missing documents, which other witnesses have proven exist

Continue reading “Senators demand Jared Kushner deliver emails about ‘Russian back-door overture’ and WikiLeaks messages”

Images suggest North Korea ‘aggressive’ work on ballistic missile submarine – institute

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Satellite images taken this month of a North Korean naval shipyard indicate Pyongyang is pursuing an “aggressive schedule” to build its first operational ballistic missile submarine, a U.S. institute reported on Thursday.North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives for an opening ceremony of a newly constructed residential complex in Ryomyong street in Pyongyang, North Korea April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo  Washington-based 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, cited images taken on Nov. 5 showing activity at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard.“The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine – the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine,” 38 North said in a report. The report said that throughout 2017 there had been continued movement of parts and components into and out of two parts yards adjacent to the constructions halls in the centre of the shipyard. It said the Nov. 5 images showed two large circular objects that could be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull. It said these appeared larger than those for North Korea’s ROMEO-class attack submarine. North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, sparking a major international crisis in which U.S. President Donald Trump has said that all options are under consideration, including military ones.

North Korea is also thought to be working on a solid-fuel missile for submarine launches. Last month, The Diplomat magazine quoted a U.S. government source as saying U.S. military intelligence had detected a new diesel-electric submarine under construction at Sinpo and dubbed it the Sinpo-C. It said the submarine was likely a larger successor to North Korea’s single experimental ballistic missile submarine.

Dollar slips on concerns Russia probe is moving closer to Trump

Getty Images

The U.S. dollar dropped in Asian trading on Friday, with the fall extending in European hours. Analysts blamed the slide on jitters over a report that special counsel Robert Muller’s probe into Russian election interference has made its first official order for information to President Donald Trump’s campaign. The fresh bout of dollar weakness followed the report in The Wall Street Journal Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had issued a subpoena to President Donald Trump’s campaign in mid-October. Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russian efforts to meddle in the presidential election, requested Russia-related documents from more than a dozen top officials, the report said.  “Mueller has already filed charges against some peripheral people, but this is apparently the first time (as far as the public knows) that he has asked for something from the campaign, which is much closer to Trump himself,” said Marshall Gittler, chief strategist at ACLS Global, in a note to clients. Nick Bit: This is a big deal. Trump is going down. Love him Hate him the outcome is the same. The Trump depression!

Donald Trump has China ‘VERY WORRIED’ about North Korea strike amid World War 3 scares

A POTENTIAL North Korea strike from Donald Trump has China “very worried” leading to the rogue state’s only ally in the region to push for a diplomatic solution to end Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions.
North Korea has been internationally condemned for pushing ahead with nuclear weapons testing despite swathes of US-backed sanctions being implemented on the hermit nation. Despot leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump became entangled in a vicious war of words, threatening to destroy one another with their own nuclear arsenals, sparking fears of World War 3.

Mr Trump used his five-country tour of Asia to encourage leaders in the region to join him in pressuring North Korea into completely ditching its nuclear projects.

China, normally a close economic ally of North Korea, agreed to send an envoy to the hermit nation to encourage Kim Jong-un to end his nuclear ambitions.

North Korea news Donald Trump World War 3
GETTY

North Korea news: Donald Trump has china ‘very worried’ at prospect of World War 3

I think China is very worried about the possibility of war in the Korean peninsula

Fred Fleitz

While Mr Trump claimed this fresh diplomatic move was born from his successful negotiations, a security expert has said it is because China is “very worried” that the US President may actually start a war in the region. Fred Fleitz, vice president at the Center for Security Policy, told Fox: “This is a significant development and I think it stems from the President’s successful trip to Asia. “But, we have to put this into perspective. North Korea and China have exchanged envoys like this on many occasions since 2013. On some occasions, both countries refused to accept an envoy from the other. North Korea sent an envoy to China in 2016 but nothing has happened.

Donald Trump calls North Korea a ‘twisted dictatorship’

“What is different here is that I think we have a president in the US that both nations believe possibly use force if necessary, and I think China is very worried about the possibility of war in the Korean peninsula and a possible nuclear accident if North Korea continues to test these enormous nuclear devices underground.”

Republicans ram a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul through the House

WASHINGTON — Republicans rammed a near $1.5 trillion package overhauling corporate and personal taxes through the House on Thursday, edging President Trump and the GOP toward their first big legislative triumph in a year in which they and their voters expected much more. The near party-line 227-205 vote came as Democrats on the other side of the Capitol pointed to new estimates showing the Senate version of the plan would boost future taxes on lower and middle-income Americans. Those projections, coupled with complaints by some GOP senators about their chamber’s proposal, suggest party leaders still face a challenge in crafting a measure that can make it through Congress with little if any Democratic support. Before the vote, Speaker Ryan said on the House floor that since the recession hit, the “economy has been flat.” Democrats derided the measure as a scheme that would help the rich but do little for anyone else. “Republicans have brought forth a bill that is pillaging the middle class to pad the pockets of the wealthiest and hand tax breaks to corporations shipping jobs out of America,” declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. Both the House and Senate versions of the legislation would cut the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 20 percent, while reducing some personal taxpayers’ rates and erasing and shrinking deductions for individuals. Projected federal deficits would grow by $1.5 trillion over the coming decade. A small group of House Republicans, largely from New York and New Jersey, rebelled because the House plan would erase tax deductions for state and local income and sales taxes and limit property tax deductions to $10,000. The new numbers from Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation showed that beginning in 2021, many families earning under $30,000 annually would face higher taxes under the Senate package. By 2027, families making less than $75,000 would face tax boosts while those making more would enjoy lower levies.

Dow rises 200 points as Cisco, Wal-Mart see post-earnings surge

Investors are digesting a barrage of earnings, economic data and Fed speeches

Getty Images
Cisco’s stock jumps following earnings.

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, with the Dow industrials jumping nearly 200 points, paced by a post-earnings surge by Cisco and Wal-Mart as major indexes bounced back from a two-day selloff. The Nasdaq Composite traded at an all-time high. The results overshadowed a barrage of earnings reports, economic data and Federal Reserve speeches, as well as ongoing questions about the state of Republican tax-cut efforts.

 

What are strategists saying?

U.S. stocks took a cue from a rebound by European equities, which broke their longest losing streak in a year, said Kristina Hooper, global markets strategist at Invesco, in a phone interview. That suggested investors were becoming more comfortable with the global growth picture after some previous unease, she said, and underscored that recent market action hasn’t been dictated solely by concerns surrounding tax-cut legislation. At the same time, stocks could be vulnerable to a downturn if tax legislation falters, she said, arguing that the administration’s call for a cut in the corporate rate to 20% from 35% and allowing companies to immediately expense equipment purchases are key features. “Traders are trying to figure out whether today’s positive move is just a bounce back or the beginning of the next upward move. US equities have enjoyed a very bullish run lately, so a pullback would not be a surprise,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

Moody’s cuts GE credit rating because of ‘extreme deterioration’ in energy business Moody’s Investors Service cut GE’s long-term debt rating,

General Electric Chief Executive Officer John Flannery presents the company's new strategy and financial targets to investors at a meeting in New York, November 13, 2017.
General Electric CEO John Flannery: I understand the gravity of our massive dividend cut
Citing the “extreme deterioration” in the company’s energy business, Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday downgraded General Electric’s long-term debt.

The ratings agency knocked the senor unsecured bonds down to A2 from A1, which is still investment-grade debt but is now six steps away from Moody’s highest rating. A2 is considered upper medium grade. The move comes the same week that GE rocked investors with news that it was slashing its dividend in half and making a multitude of other changes at the 125-year-old industrial conglomerate. GE shares were rocked on the news and are down nearly 10 percent on the week. Moody’s takes GE to task for using $25 billion from asset sales in 2016 and 2017 to repurchase stock in an effort to boost share price, taking out $10 billion of debt to fund acquisitions, and paying out a dividend higher than cash flows and as the company was downsizing key operations. “The downgrades reflect the severe deterioration in the financial performance of GE’s Power segment that will last through at least 2019,” Rene Lipsch, senior credit officer, said in a statement. “Along with the challenges in the Oil & Gas business posed by continued weakness
in the global oil field services industry and the downturn in the North American market for freight locomotives, GE has to contend with weak earnings and cash flows in several segments that represent in aggregate about 50% of expected revenues in 2017.” “Moody’s does not anticipate that GE will allocate a meaningful portion of any proceeds from planned asset disposals to debt reduction in the near term to help expedite the restoration of its credit metrics,” Lipsch said. “Over the last several years, GE pursued an aggressive financial policy that contributed to the weakening of its credit profile.”

Russian ambassador says he won’t name all the Trump officials he’s met with because ‘the list is so long’

Sergei Kislyak
Stanislav Krasilnikov | TASS | Getty Images Sergei Kislyak

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he’s met with or spoken to on the phone. “First, I’m never going to do that,” he said. “And second, the list is so long that I’m not going to be able to go through it in 20 minutes.” Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel. In the interview, which a Russian media expert said resembled “late night American television,” he also joked about American investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, called U.S. President Donald Trump “witty,” and said that U.S.-Russian relations were worse than at any point since the end of the Cold War. The interview followed a contentious day of testimony for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions was grilled by representatives on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday over whether he lied about meetings he had with Kislyak last year while he was a senator. Sessions met twice with Kislyak last year, including once at the Republican National Convention and another time in Sessions’ senate office, where the two reportedly discussed campaign-related matters.

Continue reading “Russian ambassador says he won’t name all the Trump officials he’s met with because ‘the list is so long’”

More than a dozen top Trump campaign officials subpoenaed in Mueller probe

Every Step He Takes The Closer He Gets
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to more than a dozen officials from Donald Trump’s campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The campaign had said it was voluntarily complying with the probe.
Robert Mueller
Getty Images Robert Muelle

Special Counsel Robert Mueller caught the Trump campaign by surprise last month, issuing a subpoena to more than a dozen officials despite the campaign’s voluntary compliance with his probe, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing a source. The Journal called the subpoena the “first official order” for information from the campaign. The campaign is responding to the order on an “ongoing” basis, the source reportedly told the outlet. None of those who received the subpoena were compelled to testify before a grand jury, the Journal reported. “Sending a subpoena to an entity that says it has been cooperating with document requests isn’t unusual in cases in which prosecutors have some concern that their demands aren’t being met promptly or aren’t being entirely fulfilled,” the Journal wrote, citing former prosecutors. Mueller is overseeing an investigation into attempts by the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Neither the White House nor a spokesperson for the special counsel responded immediately to a request for comment Thursday night. Trump has previously denied working with the Russian government for political benefit.

Who would pay $450 million for a da Vinci?

Christie's employees in front of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi painting at Christie's auction house in central London on Oct. 22, 2017.
Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images Christie’s employees in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting at Christie’s auction house in central London on Oct. 22, 2017

The $450 million sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvatore Mundi” has touched off an epic guessing game in the art world: Who would pay so much for a painting? Christie’s, which sold the work Wednesday, is bound by the usual confidentiality agreements and can’t say anything about the buyer. “We do not comment on the identities of the buyers, I’m sorry,” said Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti. “The bids came from every part of the world.” Art experts, dealers and collectors are all stumped about who made the purchase, which set a record by far for any artwork and included $50 million in buyer fees. Whoever purchased the painting isn’t likely to be able to keep it a secret for long. Such a high profile purchase in the age of social media and gossip is hard to keep under wraps. And the price suggests that the buyer is likely to want to put it in a museum for all the world to see. More than 27,000 people flocked to see the piece as it made its way around the world as part of Christie’s marketing campaign. Let’s hope the new buyer opens it up to the public again. Nick Bit: Proof the world has gone stark raving mad… this is some crazy shit!

EXCLUSIVE: Saudi Arabia king to step down and hand over the crown to his 32-year-old son

after prince rounded up Saudi royals in corruption arrests and had them sleep on bare mattresses in a luxury hotel

  • King Salman of Saudi Arabia is planning to step down next week and name his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as his successor, a source told DailyMail.com
  • They added: ‘King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title “Custodian of the Holy Shrines”
  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, ordered the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe in early November
  • The Saudi royals were photographed sleeping on bare mattresses on the floor of the luxury Ritz Carlton hotel
  • Once crowned king, the prince will shift his focus to Iran, a long standing rival oil empire to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, the source said 

The King of Saudi Arabia plans to step down and announce his son as his successor next week, a source close to the country’s royal family has exclusively told DailyMail.com. The move is seen as the final step in 32-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s power grab, which began earlier this month with the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe. The source said King Salman will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead, handing over official leadership of the country to his son – often referred to as MBS. ‘Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week,’ said the source.  ‘King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title “Custodian of the Holy Shrines”.’

King Salman of Saudi Arabia (left) is planning to step down next week and name his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) as his successor, a source told DailyMail.com 

The Best Photos From Mnuchin’s Trip to See His Name on the Dollar Bill

Bloomberg News

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday took a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to see production of the new $1 bills with his signature, Bloomberg’s Saleha Mohsin reports. Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, joined the visit, along with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and several Treasury officials. The new bills are scheduled to go into circulation next month.

He is so COOL!

Two Senate Republicans critical of party’s tax plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Senate Republican tax plan that would repeal the Obamacare mandate and give permanent tax cuts only to U.S. corporations drew fire from two Republican lawmakers on Wednesday in what could be a sign of trouble for the sweeping measure.  Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he would not support the current Senator proposal, or a separate tax bill being debated in the House of Representatives, because he believes they unfairly benefit corporations over other kinds of enterprises, including small businesses. Senator Susan Collins, one of three Republicans who opposed a Republican Obamacare repeal effort earlier this year, warned that some middle-income taxpayers could see tax cuts wiped out by higher health insurance premiums if the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate goes through.

Their views could signal problems for Senate Republicans, who want to pass tax legislation by December but can afford to lose no more than two votes from their ranks because they have only a 52-48 majority in the Senate. Democrats have called the Republican tax plans a giveaway to the rich and corporations.

“Neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current version,” Johnson said in a statement, adding he would still work with his Republican colleagues to produce better legislation. Exposing the tax-cut initiative to the same political risks that wrecked a mid-2017 anti-Obamacare push by Republicans, Senate tax committee chief Orrin Hatch unveiled an amendment that he defended as helpful to the middle class. Collins, a Maine Republican, told reporters that adding the mandate repeal was a mistake. “This is going to be difficult and I just don’t know why we had to complicate it by bringing up the ACA,” she said. Several moderate Republicans including Collins and John McCain have not have not indicated how they will vote.

House Democrats To Introduce Impeachment Articles Against Trump

Trump-HouseDemocrats-111617-lt.jpg
A small group of House Democrats have signed a resolution to introduce in the House of Representatives five articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, accusing him of obstruction of justice and other offenses.

The articles of impeachment were authored by Steve Cohen (D-TN), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, and co-sponsored by Rep Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), Rep. Al Green (D-TX), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY).

Cohen admitted at a press conference that their effort stands little chance in the Republican-led House.

“I don’t expect the House judiciary committee, which is operated like a branch of the administration, to take up hearings.” However, he told reporters, “The time has come to make clear to the American people and to this President that his train of injuries to our Constitution must be brought to an end through impeachment.” White House responded to the move saying time spent calling for impeachment “would be better spent focusing on tax relief for American families and businesses.”

Trump violated the constitution by trying to delay and impede an investigation into alleged Russian interference with the American presidential election, including any possible collusion between Russia and Trump.

 

Trump obstructed justice by trying to conceal information sought by FBI, and firing FBI Director James Comey.

He violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by continuing to frequent and profit from his businesses, and refusing to release his tax returns.

The President undermined the independence of the federal judiciary by calling a U. S. District Court judge a “so-called judge,” and pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for criminal contempt of court.

He undermined the freedom of the press by repeatedly calling press organizations “fake news,” personally attacking members of the press including a tweet that then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had, “blood coming out of her whatever,” and a tweet that MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinsk “was badly bleeding from a face-lift.”Trump violated the constitution by trying to delay and impede an investigation into alleged Russian interference with the American presidential election, including any possible collusion between Russia and Trump.

Nick Bit: At this moment this is a nothing burger. BUT WHEN the democrats roll back into town after the Midterm election Trumps goose is cooked

Nearly 4,000 US communities have higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint

In an updated study, Reuters news agency has identified 3,810 neighborhoods where recently recorded child lead poisoning rates are at least double those found in Flint, Michigan during the height of that city’s water crisis in 2014 and 2015. In some 1,300 of these “hotspot” communities, the percentage of children six and under with elevated lead levels was at least four times the percentage in Flint during the peak of the crisis. In pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, Reuters reported that the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 50 percent or higher. An i map released with the study shows one census tract in Buffalo, New York—a former steel and auto center that, like Flint, has suffered decades of deindustrialization—where 68 percent of the children had high levels of lead.

Map of lead concentrations in the United States

The ingestion of any amount of the heavy metal, whether through tainted water, lead-based paint, contaminated soil or fumes and dust, can do irreparable harm to children. This includes impeding the development of the brain and nervous system, lowered IQ, memory loss, hearing and speech problems, and behavioral and attention-related problems. The toxin, which remains in the body and can be passed on for generations, is also responsible for a host of adult health problems, including decreased kidney function, high blood pressure, tremors and infertility. Reuters used data collected by the CDC based on neighborhood-level blood testing results for 34 states and the District of Columbia. As devastating as the results are, they do not provide a full picture. The CDC funds 35 state and local health departments for lead surveillance. Reporting is voluntary in the remaining states, many of which do not have staff to collect data. Despite the well-known public health hazard, the US government does not require reporting and does not oversee the systematic collection and analysis of data on lead poisoning.

Goldman, other big banks secretly shared client info to rig U.S. Treasury auctions

Banks mined their own customers’ bids for Treasury bonds, then shared the information in online chat rooms, according to a class-action lawsuit

Wall Street banks secretly shared client information in online chat rooms in order to rig auctions for the $14 trillion U.S. Treasurys market, according to an explosive lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday. The move wrongly fattened the banks’ profits and picked profits from clients, the suit claims. The new accusations, leveled by several pension funds and wealthy individual investors, are contained in an expanded class-action suit originally filed in July 2015 — and include an unusual twist: Some of the evidence came from confidential informants and one of the banks sued in the earlier action. That bank is now cooperating with the plaintiffs in the massive civil action, and is providing an in-depth look into how Wall Street allegedly conspired to rig Treasury bond trades. The revised lawsuit expands on details on how the banks conspired to set Treasury bond prices TMUBMUSD10Y, +1.26%  — like moves to manipulate the price of the bonds higher on days when there was a lot of demand, and vice versa, court papers claim. The banks worked their scam for years until The Post first reported in June 2015 of the existence of a government investigation into the alleged actions, the updated lawsuit claims. The funds, representing retirees and public workers, also claim the banks conspired to rig the secondary Treasury markets beginning in the 1990s through tightly controlled electronic platforms that inhibited more competitive trading — a new allegation that wasn’t in the original suit but mirrors similar complaints filed against banks in other markets, like stock loans.

The amended suit tightens its focus on a select number of banks, naming Goldman Sachs GS, +0.16%  , Deutsche Bank DB, +1.59% DBK, +2.22%  , Morgan Stanley MS, -0.58%  , the Royal Bank of Scotland RBS, +0.14%  , RBS, -0.47%  BNP Paribas BNP, +0.08%  , and UBS UBS, -0.18%  , UBSG, +1.19%  among others, as the firms behind the rigging, which they allege occurred from Jan. 1, 2007 to mid-2015.

Continue reading “Goldman, other big banks secretly shared client info to rig U.S. Treasury auctions”

Arctic refuge drilling closer as Senate panel backs bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge moved closer Wednesday as a key Senate panel approved a bill to open the remote refuge to energy exploration. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the drilling measure, 13-10. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined 12 Republicans to back the bill. Opening the remote refuge to oil and gas drilling is a longtime Republican priority that most Democrats fiercely oppose. The 19.6-million acre refuge in northeastern Alaska is one of the most pristine areas in the United States and is home to polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said drilling can be done safely with new technology, while ensuring a steady energy supply for West Coast refineries. The measure would generate about $2 billion in royalties over the next decade, Murkowski said, with half the money going to her home state. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are pushing to revive the drilling plan as a way to help pay for proposed tax cuts promised by President Donald Trump. The GOP-approved budget includes $1 billion in revenue from drilling leases over 10 years. Opening a small portion of the refuge to drilling “represents an extraordinary opportunity to responsibly develop the vast resources that the area is believed to contain, allowing the country to develop more of its own natural resources and rely less on foreign oil,” he said. Nick Bit: And the Saudis want you to believe they can cut production to raise the price.. No wonder they believe they are going to get 72 virgins. Here is a news flash their are no virgins in heaven