Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 22 November 2013

China Announces That It Is Going To Stop Stockpiling U.S. Dollars -

China Announces That It Is Going To Stop Stockpiling U.S. Dollars - 

China just dropped an absolute bombshell, but it was almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States.  The central bank of China has decided that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”.  During the third quarter of 2013, China’s foreign-exchange reserves were valued at approximately $3.66 trillion.  And of course the biggest chunk of that was made up of U.S. dollars.  For years, China has been accumulating dollars and working hard to keep the value of the dollar up and the value of the yuan down.  One of the goals has been to make Chinese products less expensive in the international marketplace.  But now China has announced that the time has come for it to stop stockpiling U.S. dollars.  And if that does indeed turn out to be the case, than many U.S. analysts are suggesting that China could also soon stop buying any more U.S. debt.  Needless to say, all of this would be very bad for the United States.

For years, China has been systematically propping up the value of the U.S. dollar and keeping the value of the yuan artificially low.  This has resulted in a massive flood of super cheap products from across the Pacific that U.S. consumers have been eagerly gobbling up.

For example, have you ever gone into a dollar store and wondered how anyone could possibly make a profit by making those products and selling them for just one dollar?

Well, the truth is that when you flip those products over you will find that almost all of them have been made outside of the United States.  In fact, the words “made in China” are probably the most common words in your entire household if you are anything like the typical American.

Thanks to the massively unbalanced trade that we have had with China, tens of thousands of our businesses, millions of our jobs and trillions of our dollars have left this country and gone over to China.

And now China has apparently decided that there is not much gutting of our economy left to do and that it is time to let the dollar collapse.  As I mentioned above, China has announced that it is going to stop stockpiling foreign-exchange reserves…

The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.

“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.

It isn’t going to happen overnight, but the value of the U.S. dollar is going to start to go down, and all of that cheap stuff that you are used to buying at Wal-Mart and the dollar store is going to become a lot more expensive.

But of even more importance is what this latest move by China could mean for U.S. government debt.  As most Americans have heard, we are heavily dependent on foreign nations such as China lending us money.  Right now, China owns nearly 1.3 trillion dollars of our debt.  Unfortunately, as CNBC is noting, if China is going to quit stockpiling our dollars than it is likely that they will stop stockpiling our debt as well…

Analysts see this as the PBoC hinting that it will let its currency fluctuate, without intervention, thus negating the need for holding large reserves of the dollar. And if the dollar is no longer needed, then it could look to curb its purchases of dollar-denominated assets like U.S. Treasurys.

“If they are looking to reduce these purchases going forward then, yes, you’d have to look at who the marginal buyer would be,” Richard McGuire, a senior rate strategist at Rabobank told CNBC in an interview.

“Together, with the Federal Reserve tapering its bond purchases, it has the potential to add to the bearish long-term outlook on U.S. Treasurys.”

So who is going to buy all of our debt?

That is a very good question.

If the Federal Reserve starts tapering bond purchases and China quits buying our debt, who is going to fill the void?

If there is significantly less demand for government bonds, that will cause interest rates to rise dramatically.  And if interest rates rise dramatically from where they are now, that will set off the kind of nightmare scenario that I keep talking about.

In a previous article entitled “How China Can Cause The Death Of The Dollar And The Entire U.S. Financial System“, I described how China could single-handedly cause immense devastation to the U.S. economy.

China accounts for more global trade that anyone else does, and they also own more of our debt than any other nation does.  If China starts dumping our dollars and our debt, much of the rest of the planet would likely follow suit and we would be in for a world of hurt.

And just this week there was another major announcement which indicates that China is getting ready to make a major move against the U.S. dollar.  According to Reuters, crude oil futures may soon be pricedin yuan on the Shanghai Futures Exchange…

The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.

China, which overtook the United States as the world’s top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary.

If that actually happens, that will be absolutely huge.

China is the number one importer of oil in the world, and it was only a matter of time before they started to openly challenge the petrodollar.

But even I didn’t think that we would see anything like this so quickly.

The world is changing, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what this is going to mean for them.  As demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt goes down, the things that we buy at the store will cost a lot more, our standard of living will go down and it will become a lot more expensive for everyone (including the U.S. government) to borrow money.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about any of this at this point.  When it comes to economics, China has been playing chess while the United States has been playing checkers.  And now decades of very, very foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us.

The false prosperity that most Americans are enjoying today will soon start disappearing, and most of them will have no idea why it is happening.

The years ahead are going to be very challenging, and so I hope that you are getting ready for them.


CIA, withholding JFK files, admits operative may have known Oswald -

CIA, withholding JFK files, admits operative may have known Oswald - 

Fifty years after shots rang out in Dealey Plaza, killing a larger-than-life figure and abruptly ushering in what one historian has called “the decade of shocks” – from Dallas to Watergate – the federal agency that stood at the center of seemingly all the intrigues and conspiracy theories of that shadowy era is still holding onto an estimated 1,100 documents relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The Central Intelligence Agency told Fox News this week through a spokesman that the National Archives now has custody over those tantalizing documents, along with a larger group of 90,000 or so pages of agency files on the assassination that have already been released.

Federal law mandates that all known records relating to the assassination will be released by 2017, unless any agency objects, in which case the Assassination Records and Review Board would consider the appeal; but the spokesman said the CIA as of now has no plans to pose any such objections.

Among the material that remains classified are the files of a number of long-deceased CIA officials who are believed by researchers to have had knowledge about the movements and actions of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s assassin, in the months before Dealey Plaza.

Some of these officials are also believed to have helped CIA conceal this knowledge from the staff members of the two major official probes into the assassination: the Warren Commission, which concluded in its 1964 report that Oswald was the sole assassin; and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), whose final report in 1979 determined that there was a “high probability” that two gunmen fired at the president that day. 

The CIA spokesman, who discussed these matters under condition of anonymity, dismissed "CIA conspiracy theories" as "pure fiction." However the official did acknowledge that one CIA official "may have come into contact with Oswald." 

The official in question is the late George Joannides, an undercover CIA officer who worked in Miami and New Orleans in the early 1960s. 

Researchers say that on the evening of Nov. 22, 1963, Joannides was busy at work distributing materials to the news media that tied Oswald to pro-Castro groups, among other mysterious actions he took in the aftermath of the assassination. And when the HSCA reopened the Kennedy case in the late 1970s, Joannides was brought out of retirement to serve as the agency’s liaison to the committee. Researchers tend to agree that Joannides should more properly have appeared as a witness before HSCA.

While he believes that the evidence firmly establishes that Oswald killed President Kennedy, political scientist Larry Sabato, author of The Kennedy Half Century, does not rule out that the CIA could have played some role in the assassination – and he remains troubled by the agency’s conduct over the years. “The fact that they appointed George Joannides to be the liaison between the CIA and the House Select Committee on Assassinations tells me that they consciously were determined to withhold information from this second major investigation of the Kennedy assassination,” Sabato told Fox News this week.

“[Joannides] never revealed the fact that he had a direct conflict of interest, that he had been involved in one of the organizations that could potentially have been guilty of involvement in the assassination of the president,” Sabato said. “Nor did he reveal his activities on November 22nd, 1963. In addition, he consistently refused to cooperate with staff members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He was trying to withhold information from them. He convinced the director of the [panel] that his young staff was pushing the CIA too hard, too unfairly; and so the director tended to pull them back.”

Former Washington Post editor Jefferson Morley has spent years researching the assassination – the last 10 of them locked in litigative combat with Langley. He moderates a website, JFKFacts.org, that keeps readers updated on Morley’s work, as well as other new trends and developments in assassination research. In Morley v. CIA, first filed in 2003 and still pending, with motions in the case filed just recently, the historian is seeking to pry open the Joannides papers before the 2017 date.

“That's what's striking about Joannides: both that he's well positioned to report on Oswald in 1963 and then fifteen years later is called out of retirement to deal with the congressional investigators,” Morley told Fox News, in an interview from Dealey Plaza on the anniversary of the assassination. “But he never discloses his own role in the events of 1963. I find that highly suspicious and I'm trying to clarify that. ... I mean, that was felonious behavior. He was obstructing Congress there. So you've got to wonder why was he doing that, and I think that's still a big question after fifty years.”

The disclosure by the CIA to Fox News that Joannides may have known Oswald was one Morley found astonishing. “Not even I’ve gone that far!” he said, when apprised of the agency’s statement, adding that he planned to make it known to the judge presiding over Morley v. CIA.

In studying “the possible relationship of Oswald to the CIA,” Sabato in his book posits that Langley withheld from investigators what it knew about the assassin, and when, because the CIA planned, or had already begun, to use the troubled 24-year-old ex-Marine as an asset of some kind. “The agency could have viewed Oswald as a malleable potential low-level operative with an unusual combination of background experiences and contacts,” Sabato writes.

But Peter Savodnik, author of The Interloper: Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union, a deeply researched new study of the assassin’s interior psychology, doubts there was any such relationship.

“These are, in the end, large government bureaucracies and they are shot through with inefficiencies and turf battles,” Savodnik said during an interview on “The Foxhole” on Nov. 21. “I can't explain why it is that there are certain pages that have been withheld. … He was on their so-called radar screen. But I don't think that that means anything more than exactly that. The idea that somehow he was somehow a puppet or a patsy or being controlled by larger forces mysteriously, clandestinely makes for nice theatre, but there's no truth behind it.”


Great video of Comet ISON Timelapse - As seen from the Teide observatory, Canary Islands - Captured at dawn Nov 22 -

Great video of Comet ISON Timelapse - As seen from the Teide observatory, Canary Islands - Captured at dawn Nov 22 -

Fed Minutes Reveal a Dangerous Power Grab by New York Fed -

Fed Minutes Reveal a Dangerous Power Grab by New York Fed - 

Just when it seemed one could no longer be shocked by the corruption, hubris and lack of accountability in the American financial system, along comes yesterday’s release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes for the October 29-30 meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

While mainstream media focuses on what the minutes revealed about when the Fed might begin to reduce its monthly $85 billion in bond purchases, receiving scant attention is a brazen power grab boldly stated on page two of the eleven pages of minutes.

Back on October 31, wire services reported that the temporary dollar and foreign currency swap lines that had been put in place between central banks on a temporary basis during the financial crisis had been turned into standing arrangements.

The Associated Press explained the action as follows: “Six of the world’s leading central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, say they will provide each other with ready supplies of their currencies on a standing basis, extending arrangements set up to steady the global financial system during post-2007 turbulence.”

In other words, without public deliberations, an action that was adopted as a temporary, emergency operation, now had become a permanent part of world finance – on the basis of minutes and details yet to be seen by Congress or the general public.

When those minutes were released yesterday, alarm bells should have rang out from the business press. Not only did this temporary emergency measure become permanent, but the full FOMC committee is reduced to voting on its continuance but once a year and the conduct of the program has been effectively delegated to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a man the American people have never heard of, Simon Potter, the Manager of the System Open Market Account and Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

According to the minutes, ten members of the FOMC Committee, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his likely replacement, Vice Chairman, Janet Yellen, unanimously voted in favor of the plan. The comments of those opposing the plan are opaquely described in the minutes as follows:  “The Committee considered a proposal to convert the existing temporary central bank liquidity swap arrangements to standing arrangements with no preset expiration dates.  The Manager [Potter] described the proposed arrangements, noting that the Committee would still be asked to review participation in the arrangements annually.  A couple of participants expressed reservations about the proposal, citing opposition to swap lines with foreign central banks in general or questioning the governance implications of these standing arrangements in particular.”

Instead of the full FOMC committee, which includes Federal Reserve Board Commissioners and Presidents of the regional Federal Reserve banks, approving these interventions in foreign currencies, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve will simply now consult with a subcommittee. But more troubling, the New York Fed has gained enormous power in the process. The minutes state: “authority to approve subsequent drawings of a more routine character for either the dollar or foreign currency liquidity swap lines may be delegated to the Manager [Potter], in consultation with the Chairman.”

Simon Potter already wields enormous and nontransparent power in financial markets. Potter is head of the Markets Group which oversees a sprawling trading operation at the New York Fed. Of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, only the New York Fed has a trading floor rivaling that of Goldman Sachs. Potter is also Manager of the System Open Market Account (SOMA) at the New York Fed. According to the Fed’s web site, SOMA operations are designed to influence bank reserves, money market conditions, and monetary aggregates.


Federal contractors set up roadblocks in 30 U.S. cities to harvest DNA samples -

Federal contractors set up roadblocks in 30 U.S. cities to harvest DNA samples - 

(Source: A. Drey Photography)

Federal contractors have been setting up roadblocks in cities across the country with the purpose of collecting DNA samples from passing motorists.  The multi-million dollar federal program has been disturbing drivers and alarming civil libertarians.

The checkpoints consist of uniformed agents blocking a public road and flagging drivers into a testing area or a parking lot.   There, the drivers are requested to submit a saliva or blood sample to the federal government.

The roadblocks were part of a study orchestrated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The agency contracted the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, based in Calverton, MD, to perform the roadblocks.  The program costs taxpayers $7.9 million over 3 years, according to NBC News Dallas-Fort Worth.

The agency confirmed that the operation is currently being launched in 30 different U.S. cities.

Drivers are offered cash for surrendering DNA samples.  The going rate is $10 for a cheek-swab and $50 for blood drawn from the vein.  The goal, according to the NHTSA, is to decrease impaired-driving accidents by analyzing raw bodily fluids fresh off the street.

“They want to find out of all the people surveyed, how many people were driving with alcohol in their system, or prescription drugs, things like that,” said Lt. Freddie Turrentine of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, in Pell City, Alabama.

Voluntary or not?

The NHTSA says that the samples are “voluntary,” but drivers have had varying experiences.

“How voluntary is it when you have a police officer in uniform flagging you down?”
Kim Cope, of North Fort Worth, Texas, said that the checkpoint she experienced was not voluntary at all.  She was forced off the road into a parking lot on November 15th and pressured into submitting to a breathalyzer.  Cope was on her lunch break when she was forced into the checkpoint.  ”I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking spot,” she said to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

“They were asking for cheek swabs. They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that.” But Cope was not interested in getting paid. “I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave.”

“How voluntary is it when you have a police officer in uniform flagging you down?” asked Susan Watson, executive director of the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Are you going to stop? Yes, you’re going to stop.”

“Although this was voluntary it was not voluntary that you stop and hear the DNA for CASH pitch,” said Alabama resident ‘J. Bosey‘ after experiencing a checkpoint in June.

“It just doesn’t seem right that you can be forced off the road when you’re not doing anything wrong,” said Cope, discovering the tyranny of police checkpoints.  “None of it felt voluntary.”


Doctors Warn Against 'Cotton Ball Diet' Craze Among Teenaged Girls... -

Doctors Warn Against 'Cotton Ball Diet' Craze Among Teenaged Girls... - 

 Doctors and nutritionists are warning against what may be a new weight loss fad…the “cotton-ball diet.”

Several Youtube videos have been popping up claiming it’s a good way to lose weight, reports MedicalDaily.com.

In the videos, young girls girls soak cotton balls into orange juice or lemonade in order to add taste.

The idea is to eat the cotton balls to limit the amount of food a person eats during the day.

Extreme dieters say the cotton expands in the stomach and tricks the body into thinking its full.

But health care professionals fear the diet craze could be dangerous.

“You’re really kind of playing russian roulette when you use these types of diets,” treatment professional at the Eating Recovery Center of California, Jennifer Lombardi, told KCRA.

“The biggest concern is it can cause a blockage in the digestive system, and if that happens to a certain extent, they are going to end up in surgery. Just like with any extreme diet, it is very dangerous because you’re depleting your body of needed nutrients.”

“The problem being that taking the non-nutritive foods is you’re not getting the vitamins, the minerals, the calories, the proteins, the fats that our bodies need to survive off of,” manager of Fairwinds Eating Disorder Program, Kourtney Gordon, told WTSP. “So you can have a lot of growth and development issues, you can have complications of being malnourished.”


Would you eat cheese made from HUMAN FEET? - Scientists develop cheese from human feet... -

Would you eat cheese made from HUMAN FEET? - Scientists develop cheese from human feet... - 

Sissel Tolaas (left) and Christina Agapakis (right) have grown the stomach-churning variety of cheese as part of a project called 'Selfmade' which has gone on show in Dublin

It's long been known than a smelly pair of feet bears more than a slight resemblance to a block of ripe cheese, but scientists have taken this link to the next level by making cheese from a foot.
Experts have made the stomach-churning creations using bacteria from the human foot as well as a belly button and even an armpit.
Scientist Christina Agapakis and scent expert Sissel Tolaas gathered microbes for their project 'Selfmade' which recently debuted at an exhibition about synthetic biology in Dublin.
Ms Tolaas said on her website: 'Selfmade is a series of ‘microbial sketches’, portraits reflecting an individual’s microbial landscape in a unique cheese.'

The cheese is supposed to reflect the flavours of the humans they belong to.
Like the human body, each cheese has a unique set of microbes that metabolically shape a unique odour.

There are eleven cheeses in the exhibition.
Each cheese was created using starter cultures sampled from the skin of artists, scientists, anthropologists, and cheese makers. 
The samples of bacteria used in the cheese came from armpits, a foot, a bellybutton and tears and were taken using sterile cotton swabs.
Ms Agapakis told Dezeen: 'Despite [their] chemical and biological similarities, there are obviously very different cultural and emotional responses to stinky cheese and stinky feet.

'By making cheese directly from the microbes on the body, we want to highlight these bacterial connections as well as to question and potentially expand the role of both odors and microbes in our lives.'
A short film was also created that explains the process of the human cheesemaking, along with interviews with the people who donated bacteria samples.
However, the designers said that the cheese wasn't made to be eaten and instead has been created 'to inspire new conversations about our relationship to the body and to our bacteria.'

Read more: - 

US Postal Service ad for 'holiday stamps' includes Kwanzaa, Hanukkah -- but not Christmas... -

US Postal Service ad for 'holiday stamps' includes Kwanzaa, Hanukkah -- but not Christmas... - 

Where’s Christmas? As one social media commentator rapidly noticed, a recent U.S. Postal Service advertisement to sell “holiday stamps” curiously omitted a Christmas or Christian-themed message, yet included portrayals of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
The ad reported by The Blaze contained the text: “Don’t forget your holiday stamps. You’ll find them at your nearest post office or on eBay.” And below the text were pictures of three stamps: One showed a candle holder with nine lighted candles, emblazoned with the word “Hanukkah.” Another showed an colorful symbol over an open book, above the block-type word “Kwanzaa.”
And the third, in the middle, showed — a gingerbread house.
Twitter reflected the outrage of at least one eagle-eyed writer.
The poster @RennaW said: “Don’t forget those three American holidays: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and … gingerbread house.” The same poster followed with another comment: “What happened to Christmas?” And a couple more, from the same poster: “Oh yeah, because Christians celebrate the Holy Day of Gingerbread House, seriously? This is awful” and “I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very merry Gingerbread House.”
A postal office worker jumped into the Twitter fray to explain, The Blaze reported: “The holiday stamp collection varies each year. We do have the Holy Family, Virgin & Child, Santa & Poinsettia stamps.”

Read more: - 

Another JFK-related mystery: Why were the X’s removed? -

Another JFK-related mystery: Why were the X’s removed? - 

The transformation of Dealey Plaza began in earnest Tuesday morning as heavy machinery clawed at the earth while crews assembled the tubular ribcages of a grandstand.

On Friday, politicians, VIPs and more than 500 reporters from around the globe will gather here to witness the 50th-anniversary commemoration of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

It’s a dicey deal for the city, this event which aspires to honor Kennedy’s life and legacy without memorializing his murder.

Threading that needle proved controversial Monday as city workers removed two stretches of pavement marked with white X’s, the spots where Kennedy was shot and killed.

“To me, everything they’re doing is about tamping down what happened that day,” said Richard P. Sheridan, a self-described extremist and former Dallas City Council candidate.

“Tear it down and tone it down, that’s the city’s strategy.”

Sheridan wore a 2-foot-tall top hat decorated with an American flag and the words “Who killed JFK?”

City officials would not comment on the removal of the marks, which observers said have been painted on Elm Street for at least 30 years.

“We are laying asphalt to level out the streets and remove any trip hazards,” said City Hall spokesman Frank Librio. “With thousands visiting the area this week, we think it’s prudent.”

Cam Reed, a 46-year-old Dallas resident, scoffed at Librio’s explanation.

“You can’t trip on paint,” he said. “It’s clearly just a sad manipulation of the event.”

Read more -