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Introduction to the Naked Truth About Drugs

Filed in BP, deflation, o, sov, sovere, Spot Gold, target by on December 15, 2010 0 Comments

For nearly one hundred years our government has been wrong about drugs, about the people who use them and the risks they pose to society. Much of what they report is blatant misinformation, if not outright lies, despite a veneer of good intentions. It is also my contention millions of Americans agree with me. And it is not just the millions doing drugs responsibly, either. It is the millions more who’ve come to see society’s approach to the drug crisis generate more harm than good. They cut across all age, income and race demographics. Over the last thirty-plus years I’ve made it a point to talk with a number of them. And listen. What I’ve gathered reflects not so much a change of mind as it does a change of heart. We still consider drugs to be harmful, but have come to view our drug laws as worse–and many of us no longer consider legalization a four-letter word. But when Richard Nixon first convened his drug war council, escalating the conflict, hardly anyone outside of what was derisively labeled the “lunatic fringe” favored legalization. How dare we, they scolded, when marijuana tuned innocents into murderers and LSD would sufficiently scramble our DNA to produce three-headed babies. None of that was true of course, but it is what our government wanted citizens to believe. And many did. But that was then. This is now. We have come to see the responsible use theory, the one so close to the alcohol lobby heart, parallel itself in the illicit drug environment: as not every drinker is a drunkard, so too is not every drug user an abuser. The Naked Truth About Drugs … All drugs were legal and cheap and readily available in America prior to 1914, and we were even encouraged to use them. Heroin was available from the Sears mail order catalog, as was morphine, opium and cocaine. But if you couldn’t wait for the mailman, all those same drugs were sold at the corner grocery or drugstore. Our addiction rate then was very low, near identical to now. And we had no drug crime [emphasis mine]. What changed it all, what disrupted our peaceful co-existence, was the…

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WikiLeaks cables name UK banker as middleman in Kazakh corruption ring

Filed in Bank Gold, barclays, Gold, Gold Spot Market, o, sov, ubs by on December 13, 2010 0 Comments
WikiLeaks cables name UK banker as middleman in Kazakh corruption ring

David Leigh London Guardian Dec 13, 2010 A British tycoon is identified by US diplomats as the man at the centre of one of America’s worst recent corruption scandals, in which large bribes were allegedly handed over in the ex-Soviet state of Kazakhstan. Robert Kissin, a UK banker and commodity trader, is alleged to be the key middleman who handled a $4m (£2.5m) secret payment. According to leaked US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks, the cash was moved through a Barclays bank account set up in London on behalf of an offshore shell company registered in the Isle of Man, where true ownerships are easier to conceal. The money was designed to help Texas oil services company Baker Hughes make corrupt payments to Kazakh state oil chiefs in return for a lucrative $219m contract, according to the company’s subsequent admissions. Full article here Stock up for the Holidays with eFoods Direct and get FREE Shipping!

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The Best Signal of All: Railroad Stocks

It’s increasingly likely that stock prices will keep their positive bias going into 2011. That is, if there isn’t a major shock to the system like a new war or sovereign debt default. At the end of the day, the earnings picture, along with accommodative monetary policy, is supportive of rising stock prices. Goldman Sachs

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The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater

Filed in Ashland, BP, deflation, EPS, Gold, o, sov, Spot Gold, target, ubs by on December 3, 2010 0 Comments
The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater

The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” — George Orwell, Animal Farm A few days after bombs ripped apart two apartment buildings Moscow , residents of Ryazan — a town 100 miles southeast of the Capital City — were alarmed to find several suspicious-looking figures loitering near a 13-story apartment complex. After police arrived on the scene they extracted three large sugar sacks from the high-rise. An examination of the sacks found that they contained hexagen — the same high-yield explosive that had been used in the Moscow terrorist bombings just a few days earlier. The police arrested two of the mysterious strangers, who immediately produced credentials issued by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB. Within a few hours high-ranking FSB officials intervened to free their operatives, claiming that they had been involved in an innocuous “training exercise.” “This was not a bomb,” insisted then-FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev. “The exercise may not have been carried out well, but it was only a test, and the so-called explosive was only sacks of sugar.” There was at least one lapse in efficiency on the part of the FSB: The agency neglected to retrieve the detonator, which remained in the custody of the local police. Leaving aside the fact that tests had confirmed the presence of hexagen inside the “dummy” bomb, Patrushev didn’t explain why the FSB would attach a genuine detonator to phony explosives. Nor did he explain why the Security Organs insisted on collecting the “sugar sacks” and keeping them under armed guard at a nearby military base. Patrushev’s account didn’t satisfy one of the paratroopers given that peculiar assignment. The soldier smuggled a small sample collected from one of the sacks to a laboratory, and the resulting analysis confirmed that the substance was hexagen, not sucrose. The Ryazan “training exercise” took place on September 22, 1999. During the previous two weeks, hundreds of people had died in the Moscow apartment bombings. The FSB, acting with what could charitably be called indecent haste, destroyed both of those crime scenes before critical evidence could be collected. Shortly thereafter, six Chechen separatists (five of them in absentia) were accused of plotting the terrorist rampage. Invoking the need to avenge the innocent dead, Moscow carried out a punitive invasion of Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim province whose population has long sought independence from Russia. This series of events struck many in Russia as bit too tidy. In a house editorial published the day before the “training exercise” in Ryazan, the Moscow Times observed that “the bombed-out shell of the apartment block on Ulitsa Guryanova was destroyed in a controlled implosion, reducing to rubble the remains of the building and irreparably buying beneath it any remaining traces of evidence  — just ten days after the explosion. Workers at Kashirskoye Shosse, meanwhile, began clearing the rubble from the site as early as September 13 — the day of the bombing.” As the Times pointed out, the FSB’s insistence that the case had been “solved” was impossible to reconcile with the fact that “untold traces of chemical residue, fingerprints, technical fragments, [and] hair and DNA samples that were present at the [bombing] sites are now irrevocably lost.” “Is this ignorance?” asked the Times . “In the capital city of a country where the…

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Will the Euro Fall to $1.20?

Filed in Debt, euro, o, South African Gold, sov, sovere, sovereign debt by on December 1, 2010 0 Comments
Will the Euro Fall to $1.20?

Filed under: Forecasts , Market Matters , Currency The euro is a single currency holding 16 member nations together. Before the Greek crisis, countries’ sovereign debt was viewed fairly uniformly from country to country. In other words, you could hold a Greek bond or a German bond with relative security in your investment. Enter the Greek crisis, the Irish crisis and possibly the Portuguese and Spanish crises. Now the value of each country’s bonds fluctuates widely. Investors have lost faith, not only in individual countries’ bonds, but also in the euro, the currency that is holding the group together. Continue reading Will the Euro Fall to $1.20? Will the Euro Fall to $1.20? originally appeared on BloggingStocks on Wed, 01 Dec 2010 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Irish Relief Fleeting as `Day of Reckoning’ Nears

Borrowing costs for Europe’s most indebted nations are at record highs as Ireland’s capitulation in accepting a bailout of its banking industry stokes concern that other countries also will have to seek aid. “It’s no longer taboo to speak about a restructuring,” said Johannes Jooste, a portfolio strategist at Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management (*at least their in good hands !) Irish Relief Fleeting as `Day of Reckoning’ Nears Borrowing costs for Europe’s most indebted nations are at record highs as Ireland’s capitulation in accepting a bailout of its banking industry stokes concern that other countries also will have to seek aid. The average yield for 10-year debt from Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy reached 7.57 percent today, a euro- era record. The average premium investors demand to hold those securities instead of German bunds widened to as much as 492 basis points, the highest level of 2010. The average cost of insuring against default by the five nations using credit- default swaps reached a record 517 basis points on Nov. 23. “It’s no longer taboo to speak about a restructuring,” said Johannes Jooste, a portfolio strategist at Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management in London, which oversees about $1.4 trillion for clients. “The fact that bond yields continue to rise and put pressure on countries that have to fund from the market makes investors less and less confident, and it’s bringing forward the day of reckoning.” The Nov. 22 relief rally after Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen conceded that the nation needed financial support proved transient. Irish 10-year bond yields fell 4 basis points, before jumping 104 basis points as of 3:13 p.m. in London today, exceeding 9 percent for the first time since 1995. The euro’s respite was more fleeting; the bailout inspired a 0.8 percent gain for the currency before it slumped to …

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New Zealand Markets – Worth a Look?

Filed in BP, currencies, Gold Investing, Gold Prices, o, silver, sov, sovere by on November 26, 2010 0 Comments

Here’s an update on the New Zealand markets. First up is a look at the currency, the NZD (also known as the “Kiwi”) took a bit of a dive in the past week or so on the back of a few things; first there was the Ireland and wider sovereign worries in the …

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Trade The News Weekly Market Update

– Volatile trading has been the rule during the Thanksgiving-shortened week. In weekend negotiations with the ECB and the IMF, Dublin dropped its initial reluctance to a bailout and agreed to accept funds. Having evidently learned a lesson from the painfully drawn-out Greek crisis earlier in the year, European partners are rushing to finalize details of a rescue package, which will apparently amount to €85-100B, and will include funding from the ECB, the IMF and the UK. Meanwhile, contagion from the sell-off in Irish bonds has already driven risk spreads in Portugal and Spain to record levels, as S&P exerted additional pressure by cutting Ireland’s sovereign rating two notches. On Tuesday North Korea shelled a South Korean island in one of the most dramatic attacks on the nation since the end of the Korean War. The attack sent US and European equity indices tumbling and completely sidelined the relatively strong second reading of US Q3 GDP. Key economic data in the US was also in play this week. After growing in September, existing and new home sales returned to declines in October; sky-high inventories helped push median new home prices to lows last seen in 2003, raising concerns about a double dip in housing prices. The October durables data was also cause for concern, as the nondefense capital goods figure (ex aircraft) was down 4.5%, missing nearly all estimates, though it was cushioned by an upward revision in the prior month. Hope was seen in the weekly initial jobless claims, which fell to their lowest level since July 2008, possibly portending sunnier results in the November payrolls report next week. For the week the DJIA fell 1%, the S&P500 dipped 0.9%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.7%. – It was a big week for private equity deals. An investment group struck a deal to buy software developer Novell for $6.10/share in cash, in a deal valued at $2.2B. The acquiring firm Attachmate, a provider of technology services, is owned by an investment group led by Francisco Partners, Golden Gate Capital and Thomas Bravo. Takeover chatter starting last week materialized in a private equity deal for Del Monte Foods, as a group led by KKR announced it would buy the foods company for $19.00/share. Clothier J. Crew confirmed it would be acquired by TPG and Leonard Green for $43.50/share. Blackstone lost its $602M bid to buy power producer Dynegy after failing to win shareholder support, likely forcing the company to find another buyer, sell assets or restructure. Blackstone met strong resistance from Dynegy’s two largest shareholders, Carl Icahn and hedge fund Seneca Capital. Elsewhere, German fertilizer giant K+S said it would acquire Canada’s Potash…

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No Holiday Break for the EURO

Filed in BP, euro, Gold, o, silver, sov, sovere, target by on November 25, 2010 0 Comments
No Holiday Break for the EURO

A quiet Asian session clearly didnt set the tone for today’s FX trading. The week has been very busy with the EUR bearing the brunt of it over investor concerns in the EU and markets seem to be more than content to sit back and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. No further escalation in the Korean peninsula gave regional indexes room to trade higher. EURUSD traded in a tight range between 1.3300 and 1.3350 while USDJPY meandered within daily cloud cover. Even decent EU data including a very strong German IFO (still the one bright spot in Europe) failed to lighten the overwhelming bearish EUR sentiment. Peripheral yield spreads widened moderately and CDS pricing increased. Eurozone sovereign fears continue to be the principal driver of Forex price action. The situation in the EU has failed to settle down with political influences adding into the mix. The lack of a essential cooling off period after Sunday’s Irish bailout announcement has been a core contributor to the increased (rather than decreased) nervousness in financial markets. German Chancellor Merkel’s honest comments regarding the EURO and Germany’s questionable commitment to its survival clearly opened up the debate over EU members with never ending obligations. In addition, news that a German government paper proposed that new Eurozone sovereign bonds include a restructuring clause starting in 2011 illustrated that these comments are not just harsh rhetoric but are also being followed up with thought and planning. From Dublin, the political situation became stickier with the departure of minority members in the coalition government which will likely translate into a general election early in the New Year. Ireland’s four-year economic plan was published yesterday and in broad terms seems to fit the bill. The plans contains the necessary consolidation, at a realistic pace, which should make the market happy although the growth forecast might be slightly optimistic (cuts should reduce the fiscal deficit to a healthy 3.0% of GDP by 2014). Unfortunately, as we have seen in Greece, the easy part is putting numbers on paper, it’s the execution of necessary austerity measure that is difficult. Interestingly, the Irish government unequivocal pronounced that the corporate tax rate will remain unchanged. A government official asserted that “the Irish Government’s position on corporation tax is unambiguous. The Program for Government clearly states that the Government guarantees that the 12½% rate of corporation tax will remain. Nothing is changed by this Plan.” The fluid nature of Irish politics makes the consolidation plan questionable (just look at yesterday’s protest in Portugal). Today as to be expected, LCH Clearnet raised its margin requirement on Irish bonds to 45.0% from 30.0%. US fixed income markets activity clearly highlights the nervousness of investors with treasuries selling off …

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Barrick (NYSE:ABX), Yamana (NYSE:AUY), Agnico (NYSE:AEM), Kinross (NYSE:KGC) Trading Up Today

Gold miners were mixed today, as gold prices today, while remaining somewhat level, weren’t inspiring on the day, and most gold mining stocks were flirting just above or beneath gains or losses. Barrick (NYSE:ABX), Yamana (NYSE:AUY), Agnico (NYSE:AEM) and Kinross (NYSE:KGC) were all trading in positive territory, but some were just barely hanging on. The usual concerns over China, EU sovereign

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Gold Prices Today Slightly Down, Await China, Ireland

While it seems China’s decision has finally been unveiled on what they’re going to do to combat inflation, Irelands is still waiting in relationship to their sovereign debt crisis, and gold prices today are under slight downward pressure until that plays itself out.China has taken the initiative to increase the amount of reserves banks mus hold by another 50 basis points, something that is less

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[Video] Roubini being Roubini

Filed in BP, Gold Investing, o, silver, sov, sovere by on November 19, 2010 0 Comments

With the market on another of its rocket ships as every asset on earth is backstopped by a central banker or sovereign government (which is in turn backstopped by a central banker), Mr, Nouriel Roubini is not getting the same air time or rock star stat…

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