by ilene - July 29th, 2014 11:49 am
Courtesy of The Automatic Earth.
Arthur Rothstein Elm Street, Theater Row, Dallas Jan 1942
I don’t think it’s ever a good sign, no matter how funny it may look, when the US state Department makes one think of Monty Python. But it does. With a Silly Claims instead of Silly Walks department. Would these people really sit around a big table in the evening and brainstorm about what anti-Russia statement to feed to the press the next morning? What else could possibly be going on here? I mean, just look at this bit from the New York Times:
The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a letter on Monday. It is the most serious allegation of an arms control treaty violation that the Obama administration has leveled against Russia [..]
At the heart of the issue is the 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. That accord, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, helped seal the end of the Cold War and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.
Russia first began testing the cruise missiles as early as 2008, according to American officials, and the Obama administration concluded by the end of 2011 that they were a compliance concern. In May 2013, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, first raised the possibility of a violation with Russian officials. The New York Times reported in January that American officials had informed the NATO allies that Russia had tested a ground-launched cruise missile [..]
If we are to believe the NYT, Russia started testing the system 6 years ago, it then took the US at least 3 years to ‘conclude’ it was ‘a compliance concern’, another 18 months or so to ‘raise the possibility of a violation with Russian officials’, 8 more months after that to inform NATO – and have the NYT write it up – and another half year…
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 11:05 am
Courtesy of Pam Martens.
In 2012, Wall Street Journal reporter, Scott Patterson, released his 354-page prescient overview of U.S. market structure titled, Dark Pools: High Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System. (For those whose computer prowess is limited to turning on a laptop, like millions of fellow Americans, “A.I.” means artificial intelligence – machines teaching themselves to think like humans, but faster.)
Patterson comes to an epiphany on page 339 of his book, writing in the notes section: “The title of this book doesn’t entirely refer to what is technically known in the financial industry as a ‘dark pool.’ Narrowly defined, dark pool refers to a trading venue that masks buy and sell orders from the public market. Rather, I argue in this book that the entire United States stock market has become one vast dark pool. Orders are hidden in every part of the market. And the complex algorithm AI-based trading systems that control the ebb and flow of the market are cloaked in secrecy. Investors – and our esteemed regulators – are entirely in the dark because the market is dark.” (The italics in this excerpt are as they appear in the hardcover book.)
We totally agree with Patterson that U.S. markets are the darkest they have ever been in history – from their early origins in the bright sunlight under the Buttonwood tree at 68 Wall to today’s secretive, unregulated stock exchanges known as dark pools that trade in private across America – the lights have gone out. And as each light has flickered and dimmed, public confidence has drained from the system, leaving it today as the unsafe battlefield of hedge funds, high frequency traders and dark pool operators.
Wall Street and its sycophants began this journey into darkness with their push to run their own private justice system on Wall Street in the 1980s. Called mandatory arbitration, Wall Street was given a green light by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1987 decision, Shearson/American Express v. McMahon. Since then, cases filed by both customers and employees against Wall Street firms, which could shed critical light and serve as an early warning system on patterns of fraud and…
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 8:45 am
Courtesy of Larry Doyle.
In early 1990 after 7 fabulous years learning the ins and outs of Wall Street while working at The First Boston Corporation, I departed that venerable firm for the rough around the edges ways of Wall Street that defined Bear Stearns. I had been cautioned by some not to make that move. I am glad that I disregarded that advice.
The relationships and business acumen I gained during my 7 years (1990-1997) at “the Bear” made all the difference in the world during my days in those large Wall Street banks.
As with most organizations, the tone and culture that emanates throughout the company is set at the top. In 1990, Bear Stearns was led by Wall Street legend Alan “Ace” Greenberg. Last Friday I felt a real sadness when I learned of his passing. While I have little regard let alone respect for most of the senior level management on Wall Street, Ace Greenberg was different. I held him in the highest regard and had untold respect for him. Why so? Let me count the ways.
Ace was a winner. He cared. He was ultra-competitive but knew that rules were not meant to be broken.
He was a bridge back to the days of Wall Street partnerships when one’s word actually meant something. While many of Wall Street’s most senior executives would stroll or saunter into their offices that were typically larger than most Manhattan apartments, Ace would spend the bulk of his day firmly entrenched at his desk and meaningfully accessible right there on the trading floor.
He was renowned for writing regular memos that went throughout the firm under his pen name of Haimchinkel Malintz Anaynikal. They were absolutely priceless and filled with a simple but precious wisdom that often got lost on Wall Street amidst the sea of egos and sociopaths that ran large parts of the industry.
His writing was collected into a short book entitled Memos from the Chairman.
His direction that paper clips and elastic bands should never be purchased by anybody within the firm because more than enough of these items could be found and saved from the incoming mail went straight to instilling a real discipline around managing expenses.…
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 4:42 am
Courtesy of Mish.
The war in Ukraine is going so well that soldiers are unpaid and men are ordered to serve whether they want to or not.
Hats off to a group of women who confront a Ukrainian soldier and burn military writs right in front of the soldier’s face.
Writ Burning Video
Video link: Ukrainians Burn Writs
- Woman to Ukrainian soldier: Who are you?
- Soldier: I am the head of the local recruiting center.
- Woman: Why are you bringing military writs?
- Soldier: It’s an order from above. I can’t explain all the details but you can read about it on the internet
- Soldier: When did you get the writs?
- Very disgruntled woman: Yesterday evening.
- Another Woman: This one we got recently.
- Soldier: Yes, we’re sending those to put the potential recruits under control.
- Yet another woman: We don’t need it. We don’t need any war.
- Multiple women chime in with the same thing at once about not wanting war.
- Very disgruntled woman: We’ve been told that the police will handle those who refuse to sign the writs for mobilization. What does that mean?
- Soldier: It’s an official order for total mobilization.
- Another woman: We’ve been told those fairy tales many times. They told us those who refuse to go to war will go to jail for 5 years.
- Soldier: I ask you, did we take anyone to war so far?
- Woman: When you take someone it will be too late to worry.
- Another woman: We’ve never been on Maidan. We didn’t touch anyone. We don’t need it.
- Very angry man gesturing: Take your recruit list and make sure no one will be taken to war.
- Soldier – finally admitting the truth: They will take your sons anyway.
- Same angry Man: Who will take them?
- Soldier: The state
- Same angry man: We don’t give a damn about your country and your war!
- Large group gathers writs and sets them on fire.
- Background conversation: mostly untranslated but also containing We are sickened of the authorities.
- More background conversation: The authorities flee like rats from a sinking ship, but they come here and take our sons and send them to death. They all made the mess and now they need us to clean it up.
- Fire takes
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 1:24 am
Israel has all the proof it needs that world opinion will never consider its right to exist important. The Obama White House, and a lot of the US News Media, portray the Hamas-Israel conflict as something like an amateur soccer match, with the uneven score (40-odd Israeli soldiers killed versus 1000-plus Palestinians, mostly civilians) showing that the contest is unfair, that Israel has “gone too far,” that they have entered the same moral zone as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, carrying out a “genocide.”
Of course, this is a real hot war, not a diversity training exercise, or a self-esteem course, or any sort of the kindergarten psychotherapy that has come to form the basis of American thought and policy. And a vicious world opinion uses America’s own moral fecklessness the way Hamas uses women and babies to shield its rocket installations.
Apparently world opinion also doesn’t take seriously Israel’s founding maxim, “never again,” meaning that Israelis will not passively wait for world opinion to save them from an enemy that plainly and clearly seeks to annihilate them, as happened 1933-45. The Hamas organization is explicitly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That is not a rhetorical gimmick; it is its declared unwavering primary goal.
The claim that Israel seeks to annihilate the Palestinians is simply a lie. Israel seeks to stop rocket attacks and tunnel invasions, and as long as Hamas is dedicated to those actions, they can expect a forceful Israeli reaction. The sealed border of Gaza has been part of that reaction, to counteract the traffic in war materials and the ready supply of suicide bombers who, Hamas declares, “love death more than the Israelis love life.”
The Hamas war leaders are killing their own people to score public relations points. The particulars of the Hamas arsenal embedded among the civilian Gaza population are so firmly established that the facts are hardly worth rehearsing. Anyway, the world doesn’t care about those facts. Israel’s will to exist is an annoyance to it.
Of course, Gaza is just one flash point in an Islamic region much more broadly inflamed in conflict between different Islamic brands and their political subsidiaries. The
by ilene - July 28th, 2014 10:07 pm
Courtesy of David Stockman via Contra Corner blog
In just 800 words Pat Buchanan exposes the sheer juvenile delinquency embodied in Washington’s current Ukrainian fiasco. He accomplishes this by reminding us of the sober restraint that governed the actions of American Presidents from FDR to Eisenhower, Reagan and Bush I with respect to Eastern Europe during far more perilous times.
In a word, as much as they abhorred the brutal Soviet repression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the Prague Spring in 1968 and the solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980s, among many other such incidents, they did not threaten war for one simple reason: These unfortunate episodes did not further endanger America’s national security. Instead, in different ways each of these Presidents searched for avenues of engagement with the often disagreeable and belligearent leaders of the Soviet Empire because they “felt that America could not remain isolated from the rulers of the world’s largest nation”.
Accordingly, during the entire span from 1933, when FDR recognized the Soviet Union, until 1991, when it ended, the US never once claimed Ukraine’s independence was part of its foreign policy agenda or a vital national security interest. Why in the world, therefore, should we be meddling in the backyard of a far less threatening Russia today?
More importantly, if Ike could invite Khrushchev to tour America and pow-wow with him at Camp David after the suppression of the Hungarian freedom fighters and his bluster over Berlin, what in the world is Obama doing attempting to demonize Putin and make him an international pariah? The fact is, Crimea had been part of Russia for 200 years, and the Donbas had been its Russian-speaking coal, steel and industrial heartland since the time of Stalin.
Putin’s disagreements with the Ukrainian nationalists who took over Kiev during the Washington inspired overthrow of its constitutionally-elected government in February are his legitimate geo-political business, but have nothing to do with our national security. And whatever his considerable faults, Putin is no totalitarian menace even remotely in the same league as his Soviet predecessors. In that regard, Hillary Clinton’s sophomoric comparison of him to Hitler is downright preposterous.
At the heart of the matter is the War Party’s desire to punish Putin for pushing back against American interventionism in Syria, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. For that Washington has now ensnared itself in an ancient ethnic struggle that has roiled Russia’s borders for centuries; and has landed smack in the middle of an attempt by Kiev’s nationalists to violently maintain the “territorial…
Calling All Munitions and Fighter Plane Experts: Is German Pilot Claim “Air-to-Air Attack” Brought Down MH17 Credible?
by ilene - July 28th, 2014 6:56 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Peter Haisenko, a German aviation expert made a claim yesterday that air-to-air fire brought down MH17.
The above link is to a translated page.
As a lay person, it’s easy to be persuaded by such arguments. Moreover, even if Haisenko is an aviation expert, one has to wonder about his munitions expertise.
I have some questions later, but first let’s take a look at some images and a translation of Haisenko’s thesis.
Haisenko provides this High-Res Image of MH17 Cockpit.
Click on chart for sharper image, or click on the preceding link for an even bigger image.
- Cockpit shows traces of shelling, clean round hole, about 30 mm caliper.
- Some holes are bent inward, some outward
- Rivets bent outward
- Moreover, small cuts can be seen, all bent outward, which hint at the fact that fragments have penetrated the outer hull from the inside of the cockpit.
Bullet Holes in Shell
by ilene - July 28th, 2014 4:55 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
"Do as we say, not as we do," appears the modus operandi of the current administration's increasingly totalitarian regime. Today's edition of 'wait, what?' comes from The WSJ who report that The U.S. House of Representatives told a federal court Friday it should dismiss a lawsuit filed by the SEC (regarding the long-running insider-trading investigation) because Congress is lawfully allowed to ignore requests to turn over records and testimony to the executive branch agency. Arguing "sovereign immunity" and responding in a rather snarky (almost "do you know who we are?" manner), House attorneys blasted the SEC's "fool's errand."
The U.S. House of Representatives told a federal court Friday it should dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission because Congress is lawfully allowed to ignore requests to turn over records and testimony to the executive branch agency.
"Rather than acknowledge the fool's errand on which it has embarked, the SEC instead invites this court to join it by disregarding fundamental limitations on judicial authority," wrote House attorneys in a new court filing.
The SEC filed a lawsuit last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to force House lawyers to turn over documents sought by the agency in a long running insider-trading investigation.
House lawyers largely repeated arguments they made in an earlier motion asking the court to dismiss the SEC case.
They say neither Mr. Sutter nor the committee have done anything improper and argued they are not required to comply with the subpoenas under provisions in the Constitution that shield legislative activity from outside scrutiny.
They also argue "sovereign immunity," which protects the government from legal liability without an explicit waiver, also shields it from a suit filed by a government agency.
* * *
And summing it all up:
by ilene - July 28th, 2014 3:36 pm
Courtesy of Marc Chandler
This Cool Video is a clip from my appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box this morning. I offered a nuanced view, suggesting that while the dollar appears to be at a turning point, unless US yields find better traction, it is difficult to be too bullish on the dollar.
by ilene - July 28th, 2014 3:26 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Is the British pound overvalued? What about the Euro? The US Dollar? The Yen?
Curiously, economists make that case for all of those currencies.
And today, the IMF is pounding the drums with this proclamation “Overvalued” Pound Prevents Rebalancing.
The International Monetary Fund warned on Monday that the pound was “overvalued” and preventing the rebalancing of the economy away from a reliance on spending and imports.
In its annual assessment of the UK economy, the fund said sterling was between 5 and 10 per cent overvalued because of a “lack of competitiveness and limited export diversification”.
“Staff estimates that the current account balance is 2.6 per cent weaker than its equilibrium level, and that the real exchange rate is overvalued by about 5–10 per cent,” the IMF said.
Equilibrium Level Madness
Apparently the IMF is the arbiter of the “equilibrium level” of any and every currency. A few examples will prove the point.
New Zealand Dollar Overvalued by 20%
On April 10, 2014 the IMF warned New Zealand Dollar May Be Overvalued.
Canadian Dollar Overvalued by 10%
On March 2, 2014 the IMF Warned Canadian Dollar Overvalued by 10%” despite recent depreciation, thus the Bank of Canada should wait before hiking rates..
Australian Dollar Overvalued by 10%…