by ilene - August 27th, 2014 4:47 am
Courtesy of Mish.
On August 10, Ukraine said No Cease-Fire Until Rebels Surrender.
This just in … On August 26, Reuters reported Poroshenko Seeks Ceasefire After ‘Very Tough’ Talks With Putin.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised after late-night talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to work on an urgent ceasefire plan to defuse the separatist conflict in the east of his former Soviet republic.
The first negotiations between the two leaders since June were described by Putin as positive, but he said it was not for Russia to get into the details of truce terms between the Kiev government and two rebel eastern regions.
“We didn’t substantively discuss that, and we, Russia, can’t substantively discuss conditions of a ceasefire, of agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk. That’s not our business, it’s up to Ukraine itself,” he told reporters early on Wednesday.
Poroshenko, after two hours of one-to-one talks which he described as “very tough and complex”, told reporters: “A roadmap will be prepared in order to achieve as soon as possible a ceasefire regime which absolutely must be bilateral in character.”
Despite the positive tone, it remained unclear how the rebels would respond to the idea of a ceasefire, how soon it could be agreed and how long it might stick.
And with Putin insisting the details were an internal matter for Kiev, there was no sign of progress on a fundamental point of disagreement: Ukraine’s charges that Moscow is sending arms and fighters to help the rebels, and Russia’s adamant denials.
The leaders shook hands at the start of their meeting in the Belarussian capital Minsk just hours after Kiev said it had captured Russian soldiers on a “special mission” on Ukrainian territory.
In a televised statement at the start of the talks, Putin urged Poroshenko not to step up his offensive against the pro-Moscow rebels, and threatened to slap economic penalties on Kiev for signing a trade accord with the European Union that he said would squeeze Russian goods out of its market.
Poroshenko replied by demanding a halt to arms shipments from Russia to the separatist fighters….
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 10:40 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Given misinformation and outright lies by all involved, it’s important to consider the both sides of the story.
Jane’s Defense claims Ukrainian Military Moves to Endgame.
Ukrainian troops have continued their offensive aimed at clearing pro-Russian rebels from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions despite strong resistance.
Both the Ukrainian and rebel forces are using tracked armour, heavy artillery, and rockets in the heaviest fighting seen in Europe since the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.
The operation by Ukrainian troops, underway for more than a month, has pushed deep into rebel-held regions, with fighting now reported in the suburbs of the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk for several days. Reports on 20 August indicated that in Lugansk, Ukrainian troops had recaptured a central city police station.
Ukrainian forces appear to be trying to cut rebel forces in the two cities off from each other, as well as severing land routes to the Russian border to block supplies and reinforcements from reaching them.
The rebel setbacks of the past weeks have prompted three prominent rebel leaders – including their military commander, Igor Girkin, known as Strelkov; the political leader in Donetsk, Alexander Borodai; and the rebel head in Lugansk, Valery Bolotov – to step down.
The continued determination of the Kiev government to prosecute its offensive into eastern Ukraine appears to be bearing fruit, although at a heavy cost in human life and damage to civilian property.
Ukrainian army and national guard units appear to be better trained and motivated than the units that first engaged the rebels in the early days of the crisis back in April.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has reported that about 25 battalions of national guard volunteers were fighting on the Donbas front and appear to be performing better than expected, considering they were only formed a few months ago. However, the OSCE reports a number of these units have been implicated in the abuse of civilians.
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 9:50 pm
By John Mauldin
“To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.”
– Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
One of the great pleasures of writing this letter is the fascinating correspondence and the relationships that develop along the way. The internet has allowed me to meet a wide range of people all over the world – something that never happened to me pre-1999. Not only do I get to meet a wide variety of people, I also come into contact with an even wider range of knowledge and ideas, much of which comes my way from readers who send me work they think I’ll have an interest in. I have a bountiful, never-ending source of thoughtful material, thanks to you.
This week’s letter emanates from a rather provocative email I received from David Brin. Science-fiction aficionados will immediately recognize him as the many-time winner of every major sci-fi writing award and an inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Non-SF junkies might remember the movie The Postman (with Kevin Costner). Brin’s 2002 book Kiln People is one of my favorites, and I think it’s one of the more important books for trying to understand the impact of technology in our future. Will the science he describes be available? Probably not. But different technological variations on it will be, I think. And the book has a great plot. (David is also something of an expert on the role of and loss of privacy, which is a central theme of the book.)
David is something of a polymath. His degrees are in astrophysics and space science (Caltech and UCSD), but like many science fiction writers he is interested in almost everything. He frequently takes me to task, always constructively, sometimes publicly, about my writing. He is also a bit of an Adam Smith junkie.
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 9:29 pm
Courtesy of Jesse's Cafe Americain
“It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Mark Twain
This is an interesting discussion by Jeff Sachs, about where we are and why we are there.
It is from Jeff Sachs talk at the Martin School at Oxford. I join it in progress.
I have come to believe that nothing will change until the financiers blow up the system for a third time. And then the variables will start filling in, and falling into place.
I am especially interested to see what the 'outliers' do in response to this, they being the large actors outside the domestic system, primarily the BRICS. China and Russia in particular, but also the rest of South America and East Asia and the subcontinent. Africa not so much as of yet.
But to some extent a bellwether will be Europe, which will have a key choice to make. And of course the Anglo-American public, but the poor souls are being let down badly and led astray by their leaders.
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 7:35 pm
Courtesy of Llewellyn King via OilPrice.com
(Via Zero Hedge)
Hydroelectric dams are a nifty way of producing a huge amount of power, but they do not last forever. This is a tale of two dams that will fail unless they are urgently repaired, and if they fail, catastrophic suffering and loss of life will be the result.
The first is the Mosul Dam, which stretches across the Tigris River in a valley north of Mosul, Iraq. As dams go, this one is a civil engineering horror. The dam was captured on Aug. 7 by the Islamic State, and retaken 10 days later by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with American air support.
Should the two-mile-wide dam fail, which is likely, Mosul would be wiped out and the damage would extend to Baghdad. Loss of life could reach 500,000, and millions could be deprived of water and power: an immense catastrophe piled on the daily pain of Iraq.
The second dam, in southern Africa on the Zambezi River, is the Kariba. This 55-year-old dam, by some measures, is the world’s second largest. It was a civil engineering masterpiece and has held up well, given the spotty maintenance by its owners – Zambia, on the north bank and Zimbabwe, on the south bank.
But the Kariba Dam is predicted to fail within three years unless it undergoes massive repair. If it does, surging water would rip a vast trench down the length of the Zambezi River on its route to the Indian Ocean. The wall of water would take out another giant dam, Cahora Bassa, in Mozambique.
Loss of life could reach 3.5 million, with untold damage to wildlife. South central Africa would lose 40 percent of its electric supply.
While the Mosul and Kariba dams share the same potential lethality, they are very different structures.
The Mosul Dam was a rush job, ordered by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s without regard to the engineering realities of the site. It is anchored in gypsum, which dissolves in water. Daily, leaks in the foundation have to be plugged with grout — a mixture of cement and sand. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Mosul Dam is fundamentally the wrong structure for the…
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 7:23 pm
"We run carelessly to the precipice after we have put up a façade to prevent ourselves from seeing it.” ~ Blaise Pascal
Here is a brief excerpt from an article today by the amazing team of Pam and Russ Martens at Wall Street On Parade titled, Are U.S. Markets Liquid and Deep or Rigged and Broken? I suggest you read the entire article when you have the opportunity as this is just a snippet.
"…the SEC which oversees stock exchanges has allowed both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq to create a bifurcated market. The unsophisticated investor is given trading data on which to base trading decisions on a slow data feed called the Securities Information Processor or SIP. The SIP is not only slow in getting the data to the technology-challenged investor, but it has limited data.
For the rich and powerful on Wall Street who can afford massive fees, there is another data feed offered by the exchanges called the Direct Feed. The Direct Feed data, which has far more useful information, arrives in the hands of High Frequency Traders and Wall Street’s proprietary traders ahead of the arrival of the SIP data. This allows the Direct Feed users to buy a stock on the cheap and sell the stock back to the SIP user at a higher price…
The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, which also have a mandated regulatory role to ensure that their markets are fair and non-discriminatory, have allowed the two-tiered market to exist because they are collecting hundreds of millions of dollars a year selling the SIP to the dumb money and the Direct Feed to the smart money…"
For someone that is not drinking the daily dose of electronic kool aid from the mainstream media, this is a systemic, institutionalized control fraud that inevitably leads to a financial crisis. And a close survey of the markets today might lead one to observe, 'My God. These lunatics are going to do it again.'
That is what it is in plain words.
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 5:32 pm
Courtesy of The Automatic Earth.
DPC Post and Montgomery, corner of Market, San Francisco post quake Apr 1906
Courtesy of Tyler Durden comes a 22,000+ word ‘essay’ from Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan at the Council on Foreign Relations (yes, those fine folks) on how and why swaths of dough should be handed to the man in the street. But that’s not what the CFR stands for, so this calls for deconstruction, if not demolition.
It might be a really good idea if money were handed out to the real economy instead of a bunch of banks. It might be better if central banks would just leave the economy be. But that’s not what the CFRs of the planet want: they want governments and central bankers in every aspect of our lives.
They want full control. And they pretty much already have it. If they offer us free money on top, we’ll sing their praises in temples. But we’ll come to regret the whole thing more than we have any idea of. We can do just fine if they just stay out. Still, once you’ve granted people power over others, especially large numbers of them, they’ll be very reluctant to let it go.
And they’ll end up squeezing the living daylights out of you and yours. It’s how nature works. These tendencies and instincts don’t stop of their own accord, they need to be stopped from some place outside of themselves.
Today, most economists agree that like Japan in the late 1990s, the global economy is suffering from insufficient spending, a problem that stems from a larger failure of governance.
Questions right off the bat: Isn’t ‘insufficient spending, whatever it may mean, a problem that stems from people not having enough to spend? What exactly does it have to do with governance? Isn’t it just as likely that governance is the cause of not having enough to spend?
And how would one define ‘insufficient spending’ to begin with? Is this where people can’t buy enough food for their children, or is it where GDP growth fails to meet economists’ models? And don’t tell me those are the same thing.
Central banks, including
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 5:05 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Outright Military Victory by Rebels?
Militarily, if the rebel site maps and discussion are correct, the war may conclude with outright military victory by the rebels.
Whether or not you believe these maps or such talk, please note the mainstream media silence on the civil war in the last two weeks. At best, one can safely assume Kiev has nothing good to report.
Ukraine Offensive in Donetsk and Lugansk Fails
Rebel sites now proclaim Ukraine offensive in Donetsk and Lugansk have failed. Let’s take a look at a translated map of major military operations August 10-25, 2014.
The map source is Colonel Casad. Translation by Kot Ivanov and Anthony Hartin on SLAVYANGRAD.org.
click on map for sharper image
Major Points (Condensed)
1. In the Olenvka Cauldron, Nation Guard units trapped. The Militia [rebels] continues to eliminate surrounded forces, destroying up to 8 tanks and 19 armored vehicles.
2. Part of Batalion Dnepr-2 is surrounded. It’s commander is pleading for assistance.
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 2:42 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
A few days ago, when we looked at what is one of the last tax havens in the world, the principality of Monaco, we uncovered not only the world's most expensive Penthouse costing a whopping $400 million, but got some perspective on how far one's dollar really goes, or doesn't. Because when it comes to asset inflation there is a world for the "rest of us", where according to Janet Yellen "inflation is noisy" and any spikes should be ignored, and one for the 1%, where inflation is essentially off the charts. In fact, a world where as the following anecdote fiat prices hardly matter.
Case in point: if a billionaire has a measly $1 million burning a hole in their pocket, they have a choice: they can spend it in Monaco where, "for $1 million, you could buy about 15 square meters (160 square feet) of space" or they can spend it in Wall Street's favorite summer retreat, the Hamptons, where the seven figure number would buy them… a trailer.
The transformation of the whole of the east end of Long Island into a 1% paradise is something remarkable. The Times traces how just a few years ago Montauk was still something of a well-off worker's paradise, replete with drunken firemen and cheap crash pads. But now even Jimmy Buffett has been unsuccessful in purchasing a trailer in Montauk Shores, which sits at the very edge of Long Island.
“It was the Wild West back then,” Cherie Doughan, one of the former trailer owners, told the Times. “Or I guess you’d call it the Wild East. People sure knew how to party.”
Doughan recalls her father sitting in a bathtub in their front yard, beer in hand, inviting passersby to join him for a dip.
“I hate to sell it. I don’t want to sell it, I just don’t, but there it is,” Doughan said, explaining that they need the money to help pay for her mother's assisted living home.
by ilene - August 26th, 2014 2:40 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Developers in China are offering up to $325,000 in incentives to home buyers.
The catch? Incentives come in the form of a credit on Alibaba’s Taobao, an e-commerce platform similar to eBay. More modest discounts, some of them retroactive, are offered by other developers to combat sinking purchase volumes.
Sinking Sales Volumes , Prices
Sales are down 9.4% as measured by floor space compared to the same 7-month period last year. Prices are down in 55 of 70 cities in June vs. May, and in 35 of 70 cities in May vs. April.
Please consider Developers Offer Hefty Discounts in Strained China Homes Market.
In the latest sign of Chinese developers’ desperation to unload inventory into a weak property market, China Vanke Co is offering discounts of up to $325,000 to homebuyers who shop on Alibaba’s Taobao, an e-commerce platform.
The country’s biggest developer will give discounts that match shoppers’ spending of up to Rmb2m ($325,000) on the eBay-like service. Homes in real estate developments in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, among other cities, will qualify, according to an advertisement on Taobao’s website.
While few would-be homebuyers could afford to spend millions of renminbi on Taobao in a single year, Vanke is offering a more modest discount of Rmb50,000 to those who have spent smaller sums on Taobao over the past year.
Gemdale Corp, the sixth-largest [property developer], reported a 50 per cent decline in net profit, even as operating revenue rose 3 per cent, after falling prices hit profit margins. Profit at China Merchants Property, the eighth-largest, declined 30 per cent on flat revenues.
The inventory build-up may get worse before it gets better. Several developers noted in their recent half-year reports that September and November will be a peak period for new housing completions. That will add to the supply overhang and increase pressure on developers to cut prices.
Inside Alibaba’s Taobao
The Financial Times reported “discounts of up to $325,000″ but the discounts seem more like unrelated incentives than home price discounts. …