Fri 23 June, 2017

07:04 Cloud database technology can no longer be ignored in financial services» Finextra Research Headlines
Recent developments in cloud based data technology points to the beginning of a wider step change in...
07:02 AI could increase corporate profitability by 38% - Accenture» Finextra Research Headlines
Businesses that successfully apply artificial intelligence (AI) could increase profitability by an a...
06:57 Japan and Australia ink fintech co-operation agreement» Finextra Research Headlines
The Japan Financial Services Agency ('JFSA') and Australian Securities and Investments Commission ('...
06:22 In-app payment messaging startup PayKey raises $6 million» Finextra Research Headlines
Fresh from a stint at the Fintech Pavillion at this year's EBAday in Dublin, social payments startup...
06:11 CA rolls out suite of products for PSD2» Finextra Research Headlines
CA Technologies (NASDAQ:CA) today announced Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) Solution by CA to he...
06:06 Lyft's Goal: Gain From Uber's Stumbles Without Gloating» WSJ.com: US Business
As Uber has grappled with the leadership turmoil that led to its chief executive’s resignation this week, its much-smaller rival has built market share and expanded aggressively, even as its founders counsel humility.
06:06 Isbank moves deeper into the startup ecosystem with 'Workup' programme» Finextra Research Headlines
İşbank, the largest private bank in Turkey has made a bigger move into the startup ecosystem.
06:05 Alipay and PayPal Are Disrupting The Finance Sector, But The Big Banks Are Here To Stay. Here's Why» Forbes Real Time
From Alipay to PayPal, and from Seedrs to EdAid, technological innovation is reshaping the financial system at an unprecedented pace. Both customers and newcomers stand to gain, but it doesn't mean the end of the financial sector as we know it. Here is why.
06:00 JC Penney and Dillard's are about to be kicked out of this big index» Top News & Analysis
Friday is set to be the heaviest volume day of the year as the Russell indexes get rebalanced.
06:00 Use Wisdom And Caution When Deciding Whether To Address Social Issues In Ads» Forbes Real Time
There's a big difference between thoughtfully joining in on a social or political conversation and being opportunistic – and consumers can tell.
06:00 11 Design Trends You May Be Overlooking» Forbes Real Time
Swap out your light fixtures, choose dovetail drawers for heavy dishes and know where to stop your kitchen backsplash.
06:00 AI Will Disrupt Brand Building As We Know It Says Gartner's Andrew Frank» Forbes Real Time
Andrew Frank has been studying AI since the 1980s and now as VP Distinguished Analyst with Gartner for Marketing Leaders, he assesses the impact of AI on marketing. He is both optimistic about the impact AI will have and realistic about the disruption the capabilities will have on brand building.
05:58 We asked CFOs to describe Trump’s management style, and it’s not pretty: Survey» Top News & Analysis
Business leaders are turning bearish on Trump's agenda, according to the latest CNBC Global CFO Council survey.
05:58 One quarter of CFO Council members say A.I. is ‘critical’ to their companies» Top News & Analysis
One quarter of CFO Council members say A.I. is “critical,” according to the latest CNBC Global CFO Council Survey.
05:57 Deadly London tower blaze began in a Hotpoint fridge freezer, police say» Top News & Analysis
A fire that engulfed a London tower block killing at least 79 people started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer, London police said on Friday.
05:56 Remnants of tropical storm drench the US Gulf Coast, spawning twisters and flooding» Top News & Analysis
The remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy brought tornadoes and flooding to the Gulf Coast and its heavy rains will drench much of the eastern U.S. in coming days.
05:52 Senate Bill Poses Risks to Health-Care Companies» WSJ.com: US Business
Senate Republicans’ health overhaul carries big risks for many health-care companies because of its cutbacks to federal Medicaid funding and the uncertain impact of its broad changes to individual health-insurance markets.
05:46 European Central Bank seeks power over key financial sector» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The European Central Bank is asking for legal powers to oversee how transactions involving financial derivatives are settled - a hot topic in negotiations over Britain's departure from the European Union....
05:40 Santander launches in-branch mortgage video service» Finextra Research Headlines
Santander is to beam specialist mortgage advisors over the ether to talk to customers via video scre...
05:31 After Brexit, U.K. needs to rethink over 600 treaties» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
05:31 What It Takes To Make It To Demo Day At One Of Hong Kong's Top Accelerator Programs» Forbes Real Time
Hong Kong accelerator Betatron boasts its very first Silicon Valley-esq demo day
05:21 Parents are spending $20,000 for camps where their kids ‘rough it’» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Some summer camps cost as much as a semester at a private four-year college.
05:18 Financial News: European Central Bank eyes U.K.’s euro clearing as it asks for more powers» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
The European Central Bank wants changes made to its mandate that would give it greater oversight of clearing houses in the region — a hot-button issue for regulators and policy makers in the wake of the U.K.’s Brexit vote.
05:17 ANZ appoints e-commerce exec to run digital transformation project» Finextra Research Headlines
ANZ has appointed a non-banker with sizeable e-commerce experience at eBay, Virgin Media and Expedia...
05:16 Toshiba gets earnings report extension, faces delisting risk» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
TOKYO (AP) -- Money-losing Japanese electronics and nuclear company Toshiba Corp. has until Aug. 10 to get auditors to sign off on its earnings statements, or else it faces the risk of getting delisted....
05:11 Stocks exhale — but the next leg of the bull run is on the way» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
There’s solid breadth on the NYSE, which is bullish, says Kevin Marder.
05:10 Outside the Box: Value investing isn’t dead — but it has gotten harder» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Investors need to focus on economic earnings rather than accounting earnings, and then valuations don’t look so stretched, say David Trainer and Sam McBride.
05:09 Finastra to support Banco de Mexico with FusionRisk» Finextra Research Headlines
Mexico’s central bank, Banco de Mexico, has selected Finastra to transform its legacy risk managemen...
05:07 World shares mixed as investors assess oil, China clampdown» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
HONG KONG (AP) -- World stock markets were mixed on Friday as oil prices stabilized and investors assessed Beijing's moves to tighten up on some Chinese companies as well as the latest survey on eurozone economic growth....
05:06 Gold and silver IRAs: approach with caution» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Are precious metal IRAs a smart choice? Reasons to be wary include high costs, volatility and a mixed investment record.
05:03 The Wall Street Journal: Tell your teen to get a job» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Teens who work a part-time job get higher grades and have lower dropout rates than those who don’t work at all.
05:02 Mark Hulbert: Chill: Summer isn’t the season for a bear market » MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Mark Hulbert studies the calendar and says don’t sell a dull market short.
05:00 Is Bitcoin Money?»

Authored by Valentin Schmid via The Epoch Times,

Up 158 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, bitcoin is now the best-performing currency. Many are confused as to how this mathematical protocol can be worth more than $2,600, and why it keeps going up. The short answer: Bitcoin is money, just a little better and cheaper than the alternatives.

If you don’t understand money, you cannot understand bitcoin. For most of us, money is the U.S. dollar, the fiat currency of the United States issued by the Federal Reserve and maintained by the commercial banking system.

But even this system is confusing. Most people don’t hold Federal Reserve notes anymore; they hold money in checking accounts or use their credit cards to buy things. This is electronic fiat money, stored on the servers of banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.

This type of money is a great medium of exchange. Because the state mandates the acceptance of fiat money by all commercial actors, you can pay everywhere with dollars and, as a bonus, the prices of consumer goods seldom change more than a few percent per year.

Other attributes that make the dollar useful as a medium of exchange are its divisibility, recognizability, and indestructability—at least in electronic form—and the ease with which it can be exchanged.


However, there is a problem with the dollar as a medium of exchange over time. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost about 95 percent of its purchasing power. This devaluation is hardly visible over the course of days, months, and even years, but it is painfully felt over the span of decades.

So it’s hard, if not impossible, to exchange the same value over time with the U.S. dollar, and investors need to expose themselves to other assets to protect purchasing power. This is a general problem of fiat currencies and bank money, which are both prone to mismanagement by the state and banks, mostly because they can be reproduced at will. More dollars chasing the same amount of goods leads to rising prices.

Value Over Time

This is the reason why people have traditionally resorted to gold to protect themselves from monetary inflation. Gold is also easily recognizable, divisible, durable, and concentrates a lot of value in little space. One troy ounce now costs about $1,250.

However, its uses as legal tender have been limited since the demise of the true gold standard at the beginning of the 20th century, and it is not easily transferred in physical form like the electronic dollar. Furthermore, its price is relatively volatile when measured in dollars in the short term, and the IRS collects tax on gains in dollars, making gold even less exchangeable.

But gold cannot be replicated at will and therefore is a better way of exchanging value over time. One dollar bought almost 20 bottles of Coca-Cola in the 1930s. It now buys less than one. One ounce of gold bought 700 bottles of Coke in the 1930s; it now buys almost 800.

Decentralized Electronic Money

Once one understands that money needs to be able to exchange value in time and space, it is easier to see why bitcoin is so attractive.

Although it cannot handle as many transactions as the banking system, it is relatively easy and cheap to transfer. Hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals voluntarily accept bitcoin as payment. Its mathematical properties are recognizable, infinitely divisible, and indestructible.

As a medium of exchange, mainly because of legal tender laws, bitcoin is not as widely accepted as the dollar or other fiat currencies, but it is easier to transfer than gold and it is also subject to taxation.


In the long term, bitcoin has similar properties to gold because it cannot be replicated at will and the number of coins is limited to 21 million. This means that bitcoin is better than the dollar for transferring purchasing power through time.  It is similar to gold, although gold has a far longer track record.

Its decentralized management is another factor making it attractive for people who distrust fiat currency and the banks.

Cheap Alternative

Given that bitcoin is better than gold in the short term and much better than the dollar in the long term across the dimensions we have described, it’s not surprising that people chose to diversify their money holdings into this independent currency due to frustration with the mismanagement of fiat money and manipulation of gold prices.

There is another reason why bitcoin is attractive as a currency. Despite its record high in dollar terms, it is still cheap in aggregate. All Bitcoins are only worth $43 billion. All gold ever mined is worth around $7.5 to $10 trillion, although estimates vary. As for the U.S. dollar, just the M2 measure of bank money, including checking accounts, puts its worth at $13.5 trillion.

If bitcoin were to establish itself as an alternative currency and store of value alongside gold and the dollar, a total valuation of $1 trillion would not be inconceivable. That’s $47,600 per coin.

04:59 The Wall Street Journal: Smart tax moves to make right now. Yes, now» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Here are a few steps that tax experts say are likely to look smart even if Congress does nothing.
04:59 Euro up at $1.1172 after June eurozone services, manufacturing data » MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
04:58 Stocks: 7 things to know before the bell» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
Here's what you need to know about the markets before you start your business day.
04:42 Brexit one year later: 5 ways the U.K. could now leave the EU» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Almost a full year after the U.K.’s Brexit referendum, the divorce talks between Brussels and Britain finally kicked off this week, but the outcome of the final agreement remains extremely uncertain.
04:42 Beijing Investigates Loans to China's Top Overseas Deal Makers» WSJ.com: US Business
China’s banking regulator is conducting a sweeping check in one of the most forceful attempts yet to get a grip on runaway debt.
04:37 Key Words: SocGen strategist identifies ‘the sacrificial lambs’ of the next financial crisis» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Albert Edwards, Société Générale’s bearish strategist, hasn’t exactly hidden his disdain for central bankers during this go-go era of quantitative easing. His latest take is no different.
04:26 Arab States Issue 13 Demands To Qatar - Include Unfriending Iran, Shutting Down Al-Jazeera And Nixing Turkish Base»

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

Two days after the US State Department formally inquired about WTF is going on between Arab States and Qatar, the countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Baahrain, and the UAE sent a list of 13 demands to the tiny Gulf nation to be met within 10 days in order to lift their total blockade of the country. Among them - reducing diplomatic ties with Iran, shutting down broadcaster Al Jazeera (and affiliates), and immediately cease working to open a Turkish military base announced in May of 2016. Also interesting is the demand that Qatar give up their intel on terrorist groups they have supported and "provide all databases related to oppositionists..." (Scroll down for full list of demands)

This formal list comes on the heels of a June 6th rumor that Arab States issued a list of 10 demands to be fulfilled within 24 hours, however Qatar said they never received them according to Al Jazeera journalists who are now dusting off their resumes.


On June 5th, news broke that Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt had cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations of 'spreading chaos' by 'funding terrorism and supporting Iran' - shutting down all land, sea, and air crossings with the tiny energy-rich nation that has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatari visitors and residents were given two weeks to leave - while diplomats had just 48 hours.

 While Qatar has been friendly with Iran for years, the prelude to the embargo began after a broadcast which showed Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani speaking with no audio - and scrolling text at the bottom of the screen which stated his support for Iran and terrorist groups. Qatar claims the broadcast was 'hacked.'

After the broadcast, Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocked Qatari news organization Al-Jazeera.

Amid Qatar’s denials, Saudi-owned satellite television networks immediately began airing repeated stories about the disputed comments. By early Wednesday morning, those living in the UAE and subscribers to local cable providers couldn’t access the channels of Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite broadcaster based in the Qatari capital, Doha.


Attempts to reach its websites brought up a warning from the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority saying the site “contains content that is prohibited.”


In Saudi Arabia, internet users also found Al-Jazeera websites blocked with a warning from the kingdom’s Culture and Information Ministry.


Full List of demands (translated by @hxhassan)

1. Qatar must reduce diplomatic representation with Iran

2. Qatar must immoderately shut down the Turkish military base that is being established

3. Qatar must announce severance of ties with terrorist, ideological & sectarian orgs: MB, ISIS, AQ, HTS, Hizbollah

4. Qatar must cease any funding activities to extremist and terrorist individuals

5. Qatar must hand over all designated terrorists

6. Qatar must shut down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels

7. Qatar must stop interference in these countries' domestic andforeign affairs; stop naturalisation of their citizens; extradite such citizens

8. Qatar must provide reparations to these countries for any opportunity costs incurred over the past few years because of Qatari policies. (How do they even begin to comply with this in 10 days?)

9. Qatar must become in sync with its Gulf and Arab neighbourhood on all levels, and to activate Riyadh Agreement 2013/2014

10. Qatar must provide all databases related to oppositionists that it provided support to & clarify what help was provided.

11. Qatar must all media outlets backed by it directly or indirectly, like Arabi21, Rasd, New Arab, Middle East Eye, Mkamlin, Sharq etc

12. These demands must be agreed within 10 days, otherwise they would be invalidated.

13. Agreement will involve clear goals and mechanism, monthly reports in the first year, every three months the next & annually for 10 years

If these demands are not met - it may only be a matter of time before Qatar catches a case of regime change...


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04:18 Eurozone economy enjoyed 'best quarter in over 6 years'» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
LONDON (AP) -- The economy of the 19-country eurozone has just enjoyed its best quarter for more than six years, according to a closely watched survey....
04:15 Visualizing What Happens To Trading During A Market Crash?»

It’s hard to predict when a stock market crash will occur, so the best defense is to be prepared.

Today’s infographic comes to us from StocksToTrade.com, and it explains what happens when a large enough drop in the market triggers a “circuit breaker”, or a temporary halt in trading.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, these temporary halts in trading, or “circuit breakers”, are measures approved by the SEC to calm down markets in the event of extreme volatility. The rules apply to NYSE, Nasdaq, and OTC markets, and were put in place following the events of Black Monday in 1987.


Previously, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was the bellwether for such market interventions.

However, the most recent rules apply to the whole market when a precipitous drop in the S&P 500 occurs:

Upon reaching each of the two first thresholds, a 15-minute halt in trading is prompted. This is the case unless the drop happens in the last 35 minutes of trading.

Upon reaching the third threshold (-20% drop in S&P 500), the day’s trading is stopped altogether.


In theory, the use of circuit breakers can help curb panic-selling, as well as limit opportunities for massive gains (or losses) within a short time frame. Further, by creating a window where trading is paused, circuit breakers help make time for market makers and institutional traders to make rational decisions.

Regulators and exchanges hope that all of this together will give investors a chance to calm down, preventing the next market crash.

But do circuit breakers actually work? While they make logical sense, recent evidence from China paints a murkier picture.


In Paul Kedrosky’s piece from The New Yorker, titled The Dubious Logic of Stock Market Circuit Breakers, he makes some interesting points on the series of market crashes in China from late-2015 to early-2016.

To understand why circuit breakers can make markets less ‘safe,’ imagine that you’re a Chinese trader on a day when markets are approaching a five-per-cent decline. What do you do?


– Paul Kedrosky, The New Yorker

Kedrosky continues by explaining that a market participant in that situation would try to get as many sell orders in as possible, before the circuit breaker is triggered.

Further, when the markets re-open, the same trader would again sell immediately to avoid the second breaker (which triggers an end in trading for the day). Each time the breakers get triggered, it creates a market memory of the events, and traders try to avoid future shutdowns by selling faster.


Whether they work or not, it is essential for investors to understand the rules behind circuit breakers, as well as how markets think and react after these pauses in action.

In the event of a market crash, this preparation could help to make a difference.

04:11 The pain and gain of Brexit vote: British economy a year on» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
LONDON (AP) -- Few events outside of war can have quite as much potential impact on the economy of a country as Britain's decision a year ago to leave the European Union....
04:10 Trump says he has not obstructed FBI's probe Russia probe» Top News & Analysis
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had not obstructed the FBI's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by his campaign.
04:07 Brexit 12 months on: Here’s what has happened since the UK voted to leave the EU» Top News & Analysis
Friday marks the one year anniversary of the UK's vote on its EU membership, CNBC looks back at what's happened since.
03:57 Total solar eclipse casts spotlight on rural Oregon town» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
MADRAS, Ore. (AP) -- Just before sunrise, there's typically nothing atop Round Butte but the whistle of the wind and a panoramic view of Oregon's second-highest peak glowing pink in the faint light....
03:56 James Comey Visits The New York Times»

Just hours after President Trump admitted he did not record any of his conversations with James Comey, the former FBI Director was spotted entering The New York Times office, in Times Square, NYC.

As The Daily Mail notes, Comey confessed to being the source of a leak to the Times about private, unorthodox meeting he had with the president before he was fired in June.

Comey, disguised behind dark sunglasses stared straight ahead as entered the Times Square office building, accompanied by his wife Patrice Failor.


Unmistakably towering above everybody with his 6ft 8in frame; in a crisp navy suit and tie on one of the warmest days of the year, The Daily Mail reports Comey drew second-glances from some stunned by-passers.


It appears President Trump's warning maybe about to come true...


Just when the torents of daily leaks, anonymously sourced lies was slowing to a drip... is Comey about to serialise his brief few weeks with President Trump... or maybe, just maybe, The New York Times wants to investigate a little deeper just what went on with Loretta Lynch...?

03:34 FLASHBACK FRIDAY: The Reg NMS Debate Goes On and On» Traders Magazine - Latest News
The time year was 2005 and the SEC had just passed the new Regulation National Market System (Reg NMS) proviso, setting the stage for a brave new world in the equities trading markets. But, like today, the controversial set of rules and procedures, was up for debate as to whether it would either help or hurt traders and investors.
03:30 Everything You're Not Being Told About The US War Against ISIS In Syria»

Authored by Darius Shatahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

It’s time to have a sane discussion regarding what is going on in Syria. Things have escalated exponentially over the past month or so, and they continue to escalate. The U.S. just shot down yet another Iranian-made drone within Syrian territory on Tuesday, even as authorities insist they “do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS.”

Col. Ryan Dillon, chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, seemed to indicate that the coalition would avoid escalating the conflict following Russia’s warning that it will now treat American aircraft as potential targets. He stated:

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrews given known threats in the battlespace.”

So what is really going on in Syria? Is the U.S. actually seeking an all-out confrontation with Syria, Iran, and Russia?

The first thing to note is that a policy switch under the Trump administration has seen the U.S. rely heavily on Kurdish fighters on the ground as opposed to the radical Gulf-state backed Islamist rebels, which the U.S. and its allies had been using in their proxy war for over half a decade. Even the Obama administration designated the Kurds the most effective fighting force against ISIS and partnered with them from time to time, but Turkey’s decision to directly strike these fighters complicates the matter to this day.

Further muddling the situation is the fact that the U.S. wants the Kurds to claim key Syrian cities after ISIS is defeated, including Raqqa. However, the reason this complicates matters is that, as Joshua Landis, head of the Middle Eastern Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma explains, the Kurds have “no money” nor do they have an air force.

“[T]hey’ll be entirely dependent on the US Air Force from now to eternity, and the United States will be stuck in a quagmire, defending a new Kurdish state that America had partnered with to defeat [ISIL],” Landis said, as reported by Quartz.

So what has the U.S. proposed as a solution to this perpetual dilemma? To put it simply, the U.S. is not only training the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to retain the vitally strategic border crossing area of al-Tanf, which, if owned and operated by the Syrian government, could link Iran to Syria, Iraq, and right through to Hezbollah in Lebanon (incidentally, al-Tanf is the latest instance of the U.S. shooting down an Iranian-made drone took place). The U.S. is now also backing these Kurdish fighters to retake an area known as Deir ez-Zor.

The Syrian government retains an isolated outpost at Deir ez-Zor, and the region is almost completely encircled by ISIS fighters. Just last week, a video emerged of convoys of ISIS fighters fleeing the war in Raqqa unscathed. Anti-Media speculated that these fighters were most likely headed towards Deir ez-Zor as they have done in the past, and this area is now widely regarded to be the scene of ISIS’ last stand in Syria.

The U.S. needs a strong ISIS presence in Deir ez-Zor to justify an offensive to retake the city, especially considering the fact that Syrian government troops are already present there. This is why the U.S. delivered airstrikes to stop government forces from repelling ISIS fighters in an air raid in September of last year that reportedly lasted well over an hour and killed over 60 government troops.

Deir ez-Zor is immensely important because it is home to Syria’s largest oil fields. As Quartz explains, according to Landis, America’s strategy is “for the Kurdish forces to take Deir al-Zour, the major regional city and the hub for its oil fields. That way, the Kurds would be able to afford to buy airplanes from the US, rather than require Washington to give them for free.

As Iranian-backed militiamen — supported by Iranian-made drones — amass upon a U.S. training base in al-Tanf, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Syrian government and its allies will not want to cede strategic territory to the U.S. without a fight. At the very least, Iran intends to encircle al-Tanf and cut the U.S. off from the rest of Syria, rendering the base useless for America’s goals in the country.

However, Deir ez-Zor is where things could potentially get more heated than they already are between the U.S. and the pro-Assad alliance in al-Tanf and Raqqa.

Russia, a staunch ally of Iran and Syria, is already bombing the areas around Deir ez-Zor in full preparation for this battle. According to the Independent, Russia just claimed it killed around 180 ISIS militants and two prominent commanders, Abu Omar al-Belijiki and Abu Yassin al-Masri, very close to ISIS’ stronghold in Deir ez-Zor.

Iran launched a mid-range ballistic missile attack on a position in Deir ez-Zor over the weekend, as well. According to Military Times, Iranian officials said the purpose of the strike was to send a message to the United States and Saudi Arabia and have warned of more strikes to come, with former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai — an Iranian politician — stating “[t]he bigger slap is yet to come.

Landis believes these recent escalations only mark a “gnashing of teeth and growling” between the Russians and the Americans and that both powers are merely working out where the new boundaries will fall between American-backed forces and Syrian government forces.

But there is a crucial difference between the Russian-led campaigns and the American-led campaigns within Syria: Russia was invited by the Syrian government and is not clearly not attempting to invade Syria in the traditional sense of the word, as they are relying on local troops to retake the territory that still belongs to the Syrian government. In contrast, the United States has invaded Syrian territory without authorization from Congress or the international community and has partnered with incredibly controversial militias on the ground to claim Syrian territory, further partitioning the country and over-complicating an already convoluted battle arena.

And what will happen if Syria decides that the oil-hub area of Deir ez-Zor is too important to allow the U.S.-backed forces to take it away from them? The fact that Russia and Iran are already bombing this area speaks volumes as to its strategic value, and it seems increasingly unlikely that the pro-Assad alliance will give up the location freely.

Further, having complete control of Deir ez-Zor without opening up the al-Tanf border to Syrian government control would make the liberation of Deir ez-Zor almost meaningless to Syria and its allies, as Deir ez-Zor would be cut off from the rest of Syria. The two offensives go hand in hand, and this is exactly why we see the war escalating rapidly on these two fronts.

Not to mention, Syrian Member of Parliament Ammar al-Asad reportedly just told Russian state-owned Sputnik that the Syrian army will respond to America’s provocative actions by conducting “massive strikes” on positions held by American-backed militants.

*  *  *

An optimist would view the recent developments in the humanitarian disaster that is the so-called Syrian revolution with the hope that the U.S., Iran, and Russia are merely muscle-flexing inside Syria in an attempt to control as much of the country as realistically possible following the downfall of ISIS – and will eventually settle amicably on a drawing of Syria’s new boundaries.

A pessimist might not be so hopeful, as Iran and China held naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz just days after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted the U.S. is officially targeting Iran for a regime change operation.

03:27 The Absurd Idea That Amazon Should Be Broken Up As A Monopoly» Forbes Real Time
At which point, why on Earth would we want to break up a company like Amazon, one that is driving that process so successfully?
03:26 'King of Good Times' Gives Diageo a Hangover» WSJ.com: US Business
The world’s largest liquor company struck a deal with Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya to buy United Spirits. Now the British firm finds itself in a legal quagmire.
03:22 Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie "The Shining," where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck....
03:18 Chinese parents alarmed by miniature crossbow craze» Top News & Analysis
Powerful mini-crossbows that shoot toothpicks and needles are the new must-have toy for schoolkids across China — and a nightmare for concerned parents and school officials
03:02 Germany's DAX opens 0.3% lower at 12,761.48 » MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:01 France's CAC 40 opens 0.2% lower at 5,269.76 » MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:01 U.K.'s FTSE 100 opens 0.3% lower at 7,417.75» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:01 Stoxx Europe 600 opens fractionally lower at 388.40 » MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
02:58 If China Turns Its Back On Liberal Reforms, What Does The Future Hold?» Forbes Real Time
If China's economic future really is one of increasing prosperity and international influence, then they will either have to prove that largely state directed non-market economies can succeed over the long term–a dubious proposition with no historical precedent–or engage in rapid course correction.
02:45 These Are America's Most Dangerous Cities»

Given that 2016 was the worst year for homicides in nearly two decades in Chicago, it comes as little surprise that the city has a reputation as one of the most violent places in the United States.

Last year, there were 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents and 4,331 shooting victims with an average of 12 people shot every single day.

In fact, the Windy City experienced more murders than New York and Los Angeles combined last year with the number of homicides there since 2001 eclipsing U.S. war dead in Iraq and Afghanistan by late November.

However, as Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, even though it had more murders than any other U.S. city last year, is Chicago's violent reputation entirely justified?

Infographic: America's Most Dangerous Cities  | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

According to nonprofit news outlet The Trace, Chicago is actually far behind other major U.S. cities in homicides per 100,000 residents.

It found that between 2010 and 2015, New Orleans had a homicide rate of 46.9 per 100,000 inhabitants compared to just 16.4 in Chicago.

As bad a problem as Chicago has on its hands, this metric does show that many other cities actually have higher levels of violence.

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02:00 "Tone Policing" And The Left's Anger Privelege»

Authored by Daniel Greenfield via CanadaFreePress.com,

If you want to know who has privilege in a society and who doesn’t, follow the anger...

There are people in this country who can safely express their anger. And those who can’t. If you’re angry that Trump won, your anger is socially acceptable. If you were angry that Obama won, it wasn’t.

James Hodgkinson’s rage was socially acceptable. It continued to be socially acceptable until he crossed the line into murder. And he’s not alone. There’s Micah Xavier Johnson, the Black Lives Matter cop-killer in Dallas, and Gavin Long, the Black Lives Matter cop-killer in Baton Rouge. If you’re black and angry about the police, your anger is celebrated. If you’re white and angry about the Terror travel ban, the Paris Climate treaty, ObamaCare repeal or any leftist cause, you’re on the side of the angry angels. But if you’re white and angry that your job is going to China or that you just missed being killed in a Muslim suicide bombing, your anger is unacceptable.

If you’re an angry leftist, your party leader, Tom Perez will scream and curse into a microphone, and your aspiring presidential candidate, Kirsten Gillibrand, will curse along, to channel the anger of the base. But if you’re an angry conservative, then Trump channeling your anger is “dangerous” because you aren’t allowed to be angry.

Not all anger is created equal. Some anger is privileged rage.

Good anger gets you a gig as a CNN commentator. Bad anger gets you hounded out of your job. Good anger isn’t described as anger at all. Instead it’s linguistically whitewashed as “passionate” or “courageous”. Bad anger however is “worrying” or “dangerous”. Angry left-wing protesters “call out”, angry right-wing protesters “threaten”. Good anger is left-wing. Bad anger is right-wing.

Socially acceptable displays of anger, from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter riots to the anti-Trump marches to the furious campus protests, are invariably left-wing.

Left-wing anger over the elections of Bush and Trump was sanctified. Right-wing outrage over Obama’s victory was demonized. Now that left-wing anger led a Bernie Sanders volunteer to open fire at a Republican charity baseball practice outing. And the media reluctantly concedes that maybe both sides should moderate their rhetoric. Before listing examples that lean to the right like “Lock her up”.

Not all anger is created equal. Anger, like everything else, is ideologically coded

Why were chants of “Lock her up” immoderate, but not Bush era cries of “Jail to the chief”?


Why were Tea Party rallies “ominous” but the latest We Hate Trump march is “courageous”?


Why is killing Trump on stage the hottest thing to hit Shakespeare while a rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask was hounded by everyone from the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri to the NAACP?

Not all anger is created equal. Anger, like everything else, is ideologically coded. Left-wing anger is good because its ideological foundations are good. Right-wing anger is bad because its ideology is bad.

It’s not the level of anger, its intensity or its threatening nature that makes it good or bad.

And that is why the left so easily slips into violence. All its ideological ends are good. Therefore its means, from mass starvation to gulags to riots and tyranny, must be good. If I slash your tires because of your Obama bumper sticker, I’m a monster. But if you key my car because of my Trump bumper sticker, you’re fighting racism and fascism. Your tactics might be in error, but your viewpoint isn’t.

There are no universal standards of behavior. Civility, like everything else, is ideologically limited.

Tone policing is how the anger of privileged leftists is protected while the frustration of their victims is suppressed

Intersectionality frowns on expecting civil behavior from “oppressed” protesters. Asking that shrieking campus crybully not to scream threats in your face is “tone policing”. An African-American millionaire’s child at Yale is fighting for her “existence”, unlike the Pennsylvania coal miner, the Baltimore police officer and the Christian florist whose existences really are threatened.

Tone policing is how the anger of privileged leftists is protected while the frustration of their victims is suppressed. The existence of tone policing as a specific term to protect displays of left-wing anger shows the collapse of civility into anger privilege. Civility has been replaced by a political entitlement to anger.

The left prides itself on an unearned moral superiority (“When they go low, we go high”) reinforced by its own echo chamber even as it has become incapable of controlling its angry outbursts. The national tantrum after Trump’s victory has all but shut down the government, turned every media outlet into a non-stop feed of conspiracy theories and set off protests that quickly escalated into street violence.

But Trump Derangement Syndrome is a symptom of a problem with the left that existed before he was born. The left is an angry movement. It is animated by an outraged self-righteousness whose moral superiority doubles as dehumanization. And its machinery of culture glamorizes its anger. The media dresses up the seething rage so that the left never has to look at its inner Hodgkinson in the mirror.

The angry left has gained a great deal of power

The left is as angry as ever. Campus riots and assassinations of Republican politicians are nothing new. What is changing is that its opponents are beginning to match its anger. The left still clings to the same anger it had when it was a theoretical movement with plans, but little impact on the country. The outrage at the left is no longer ideological. There are millions of people whose health care was destroyed by ObamaCare, whose First Amendment rights were taken away, whose land was seized, whose children were turned against them and whose livelihoods were destroyed.

The angry left has gained a great deal of power. It has used that power to wreck lives. It is feverishly plotting to deprive nearly 63 million Americans of their vote by using its entrenched power in the government, the media and the non-profit sector. And it is too blinded by its own anger over the results of the election to realize the anger over its wholesale abuses of power and privileged tantrums.

But monopolies on anger only work in totalitarian states. In a free society, both sides are expected to control their anger and find terms on which to debate and settle issues. The left rejects civility and refuses to control its anger. The only settlement it will accept is absolute power. If an election doesn’t go its way, it will overturn the results. If someone offends it, he must be punished. Or there will be anger.

The angry left demands that everyone recognize the absolute righteousness of its anger as the basis for its power. This anger privilege, like tone policing, is often cast in terms of oppressed groups. But its anger isn’t in defiance of oppression, but in pursuit of oppression.

Anger privilege is used to silence opposition, to enforce illegal policies and to seize power. But the left’s monopolies on anger are cultural, not political. The entertainment industry and the media can enforce anger privilege norms through public shaming, but their smears can’t stop the consequences of the collapse of civility in public life. There are no monopolies on emotion.

James Hodgkinson absorbed all this. The left fed his anger. And eventually he snapped

When anger becomes the basis for political power, then it won’t stop with Howard Dean or Bernie Sanders. That’s what the left found out in the last election. Its phony pearl clutching was a reaction to the consequences of its destruction of civility. Its reaction to that show of anger by conservatives and independents was to escalate the conflict. Instead of being the opposition, the left became the “resistance”. Trump was simultaneously Hitler and a traitor. Republicans were evil beasts.

James Hodgkinson absorbed all this. The left fed his anger. And eventually he snapped.

Anger has to go somewhere.

The left likes to think that its anger is good anger because it’s angry over the plight of illegal aliens, Muslim terrorists, transgender bathrooms, the lack of abortion in South Carolina, the minimum wage at Taco Bell, budget cuts, tax cuts, police arrests, drone strikes and all the other ways in which reality differs from its utopia. But all that anger isn’t the road to a better world, but to hate and violence.

Millions of leftists, just like Hodgkinson, are told every day that Republicans are responsible for everything wrong with their lives, the country and the planet. Despite everything they do, all the petitions they sign, the marches they attend, the donations, the angry letters, the social media rants, Republicans continue to exist and even be elected to public office. Where does that anger go?

Leftist anger is a privileged bubble of entitlement that bursts every other election

Either we have a political system based on existing laws and norms of civility. Or we have one based on coups and populist leftist anger. And there are already a whole bunch of those south of the border.

Leftist anger is a privileged bubble of entitlement that bursts every other election. Its choice is to try to understand the rest of the country or to intimidate, censor, oppress and eventually kill them.

James Hodgkinson took the latter course. His personal leftist revolution ended, as all leftist revolutions do, in blood and violence. The left can check its anger privilege and examine its entitlement.

Or his violence will be our future.

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01:49 OTC Markets Says CAT Fees Are Catastrophic» Traders Magazine - Latest News
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01:48 One striking chart shows traders don't believe the Fed» Markets

The Federal Reserve keeps telling the bond market it wants interest rates to move higher, but traders aren’t listening.

That suggests investors don’t believe the Fed’s justification for interest rate increases, which are predicated not only on recent economic improvement but also on a continued bright outlook.

One startling chart from Societe Generale's Albert Edwards illustrates the Fed’s dilemma. Two-year notes are historically the maturity that is most responsive to moves in the official federal funds rate.

Yet look at what’s happened to the two-year note's yield this year as the Fed ratcheted up its monetary tightening campaign despite an inflation rate that continues to undershoot the central bank's 2% target: Absolutely nothing.

Fed Funds

SEE ALSO: One chart shows why a September rate hike is a 'hard sell'

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

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01:08 Trump: Mueller And Comey's BFF Status 'Very Bothersome'»

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

President Trump told Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt in a Fox and Friends interview scheduled to air Friday that he is bothered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's close relationship with fired FBI Director James Comey.

When asked of Mueller should recuse himself, Trump stated "Well he's very, very good friends with Comey which is very bothersome... We're going to have to see."

As Radio Host Mark Levin pointed out last week:

John Legato is a former deep cover FBI special agent - and he writes that Comey and Mueller -their families have vacationed together, have had picnics together, hours spent at the office together, had a few cocktails after work. So Mueller can't possibly be impartial here. Not when he's very close friends with a key witness.


The point is this - he's not independent

Hatchet Job

Trump also made mention of the four democrat-supporting attorneys Mueller has hired for the investigation.

"There's been no collusion, no obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that... So we'll have to see. I can say that the people that've been hired [by Mueller] were all Hillary Clinton supporters." -Donald Trump

Something Newt Gingrich tweeted about on June 12:

Michael Dreeben - donated to Obama and Clinton

Jeannie Rhee - deputy assist AG, Wilmer Hale, Donated to DNC, Obama, Clinton

James Quarles - asst. special prosecutor, Wilmer Hale, long history of Dem donations, Clinton

Andrew Weissman - oversees fraud at Justice. Donated six times to Obama PACs as well as DNC in 2006

Levin also noted "He's [Muellernot looking into any of the financial relationships between the Clinton Foundation and Russia. Any of the violations of the espionage act by Hillary Clinton and if the Russians got a hold of any of those emails. Mr. Comey nicely and neatly closed that investigation."


No Investigation!

Trump Attorney Jon Sekulow has been making the rounds to defend the President, telling a testy Chris Wallace that James Comey himself said Trump was "not a target or subject of investigation."

"There has been no notification from the special counsel's office that the president is under investigation... I can't imagine a scenario where the president would not be aware of it."

Sekulow then went on Hannity yesterday to suggest that James Comey should be the one under investigation for leaking a classified memo created after a meeting with President Trump.

Trump's interview with Fox and Friends airs on Friday.

Follow on Twitter @ZeroPointNow § Subscribe to our YouTube channel

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Qatar Airways said it intends to buy a significant stake in American Airlines Group—a brash approach by the state-owned carrier that American Chief Executive Doug Parker called “puzzling and strange.”
01:00 Connecticut Campus Shut As Professor Flees Following "Let Them F**king Die" Tweet»

A professor at a Connecticut college said he was forced to flee the state after he received death threats for appearing to endorse the idea that first responders to last week’s congressional shooting should have let the victims "f**king die” instead of treating them, according to the Hartford Courant.

Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams shared a link to a medium post which suggested that “bigots” should be left to die in life threatening situations. The medium article was accompanied by a photo of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was wounded in the shooting, along with the title “Let Them F**ing Die,” which Williams later used as a hashtag in his ill-conceived posts.

In the post, the author describes a list of disturbing situations in which “bigots” should be left to die, while also encouraging readers to “smile a bit” as these figurative deaths unfold.

“If you see them drowning. If you see them in a burning building. If they are bleeding out in an emergency room. If the ground is crumbling beneath them. If they are in a park and they turn their weapons on each other: do nothing,” the article instructs readers."

“Least of all put your life on the line for theirs, and do not dare think doing so, putting your life on the line for theirs, gives you reason to feel celestial. Save the life of those that would kill you is the opposite of virtuous. Let. Them. Fucking. Die. And smile a bit when you do.”

Williams also expressed his rage toward white people in a series of tweets. In one, Williams said he was “fed the f**k up” with white “bigots” who demean minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ people. In another, he said the time had come to “put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system.”



As a result of the posts, which gained national attention, Williams said he has received more than 1,000 threats. The situation briefly forced the closure of Trinity College’s campus in downtown Hartford Thursday morning. The campus had reopened by late morning, though Hartford police provided heightened security.

Unlike the administration at Evergreen State College in Washington, which has been willing to countenance threatening behavior and other provocations from its students, Trinity’s administrators have promised to hold Williams accountable for his actions, promising in a statement that there would be “an investigation" into Williams' conduct.

"The Dean of the Faculty will review this matter and advise me on whether college procedures or policies were broken. I told Professor Williams that in my opinion his use of the hashtag was reprehensible and, at the very least, in poor judgment. No matter its intent, it goes against our fundamental values as an institution, and I believe its effect is to close minds rather than open them."

Williams said he regrets the affect his actions have had on his family.

"It was overwhelming for my family," Williams said. "I have to look out for family. I've got young kids."

But rather than apologize for offending millions of Americans - not to mention the families of Scalise and the other four victims of the rampage shooting at an early-morning practice of the House Republicans baseball team – Williams claims his tweet was misinterpreted. He says the tweet was a response to the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman in Seattle who was armed with a knife.

And what’s worse, he has committed 100% to playing the victim, saying that he’s considering filing a lawsuit.

"This is about free speech as well as academic freedom," he said. "From my perspective, I'm considering whether I should file a defamation against Campus Reform, the site that first shared Williams’ posts.


"The black community is beside itself all over the country with the constant killing. It doesn't matter what we do, we still be killed, we still go to jail. Just being black and living is a crime. That's what seems to be the problem," Williams told the Courant.

Read the full text of Trinity's statement below:

Dear Members of the Trinity Community,


As many of you are aware, a set of social media posts by one of our faculty members has resulted in a loud and public rebuke and landed Trinity College in a national spotlight, both in the media and across various social media platforms. I understand the concerns many have expressed, and I’m especially grateful for the inquiries we’ve received from members of our community who’ve asked whether what they’re reading and hearing is accurate. To be clear, both personally and on behalf of the College that I represent, I do not condone hate speech or calls to incite violence.


I’ve spoken with Johnny Williams, who has been a sociology professor at Trinity since 1996. I wanted to hear directly from him about the messages he posted and what has transpired since. It is important to clarify a few details. On June 16, a writer who goes by the name “Son of Baldwin”—and who is not Johnny Williams—wrote a piece for Medium.com that cited another writer’s perspective on the shooting that occurred at the Congressional baseball practice in Virginia last week. The Medium piece went on to explore broader issues concerning race and the relationship between “victims of bigotry” and “bigots.” The piece culminated with a call to show indifference to the lives of bigots. That call was reprehensible, and any such suggestion is abhorrent and wholly contrary to Trinity’s values.


While Professor Williams did not write that article, he did share it on his personal social media accounts this week, and he did so with the use of a hashtag that connected directly to the inflammatory conclusion of that article. Professor Williams, who teaches about race and racism, shared the article on his personal Twitter account using that hashtag; he also shared it on his personal Facebook page.


The Dean of the Faculty will review this matter and advise me on whether college procedures or policies were broken. I told Professor Williams that in my opinion his use of the hashtag was reprehensible and, at the very least, in poor judgment. No matter its intent, it goes against our fundamental values as an institution, and I believe its effect is to close minds rather than open them.


I want to underscore that what we seek is to build a diverse college community that is welcoming to all viewpoints and backgrounds and that engages in civil discourse on even the most vexing issues. That requires that we continue to uphold our fundamental belief in academic freedom and support our community members’ constitutional right to free speech. But our aspirations for the community we want to be also demand we take particular care with the words we use and the contexts in which we use them.


This incident has caused distress on our campus and beyond; threats of violence have been directed to Professor Williams and to our campus community, neither of which is an acceptable response.


I denounce hate speech in all its forms, I will explore all options to resolve this matter, and I will be back in touch with our community members with our decisions.

00:59 The Science Behind The Headlines Needs Funding Too -- Here's Why» Forbes Real Time
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00:51 The next big stock market shift could come from an unexpected source» Markets


In an ironic twist, the most downtrodden part of the stock market could be the main driver of its next leg higher.

Even more surprising: the investor base most responsible for this shift won't be flashy Wall Street types, armed with their sophisticated trading algorithms. It'll be retirees.

The market segment in question is value stocks, or companies seen as trading at a discount to fair value. Retirees are already attracted to value stocks because of the dividend yield the group has historically provided, but the pot just got even sweeter.

Value stocks are now expected to see stronger profit expansion than growth stocks, or companies viewed as having high potential for share appreciation, but not necessarily yield growth.

value vs. growth EPS growth

Meanwhile, rock-bottom bond yields have left retirees starved for returns, and the Federal Reserve has done little to improve the situation. This only adds to the appeal of value stocks.

"Even as the Fed has continued to slowly raise the Federal Funds rate, fixed income yields have held at historically low levels, leaving few options for retiree investors who need to generate income from their investments," Mike Thompson, chairman of S&P Global Market Intelligence's Investment Advisory Services portfolio strategy committee, wrote in a client note. "Many of these investors are turning to value stocks to fill the void."

Looking beyond the Fed's actions, US economic conditions are also creating an ideal situation for value investing. Thompson at least partially attributes the shift in earnings growth expectations to the continued slow recovery of the US economy — a development seen hindering the further appreciation of growth stocks from current levels.

Political stagnation is also having an effect, with the proposed policies that drove stocks higher after the election seemingly stuck in limbo. Because of that, "investors are adjusting to a slower-growth mindset," Thompson wrote.

Further, while value stocks are, by definition, cheaper than their growth peers, the price divergence between the two groups in recent months is creating even more of a buying opportunity than usual. Thompson points out that while the S&P 500 Value Index is trading just below historical levels, the S&P 500 Growth Index currently sits well above its three-year average.

This valuation development "may switch investors from momentum stocks and still keep pushing the market higher," he said.

S&P Value vs. Growth valuations

SEE ALSO: The safety net of the stock bull market is vanishing — but it may not matter

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: An economist explains the key issues that Trump needs to address to boost the economy

00:43 China's latest crackdown highlights some of its biggest problems» Top News & Analysis
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00:37 Governors wary of Medicaid cost shift in Senate health bill» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
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00:37 This Company Is Cashing In On India's E-Commerce Boom» Forbes Real Time
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00:30 FEMA Is Preparing For A Solar Storm That Would Take Out The Grid»

Authored by Maco Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) is planning for a massive solar storm that would be so strong, it would take down the power grid.

Noting that the rare, yet “high-consequence” scenario has “the potential for catastrophic impact on our nation and FEMA’s ability to respond.”

According to unpublished FEMA documents obtained by Government Attic, a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) database and non-profit organization, the Department of Homeland Security agency once mapped out a disaster plan for the occurrence of another geomagnetic “super storm” like the one the occurred in 1859.

Back then, the sun flung a giant plume of magnetized plasma out into space. The coronal mass ejection (CME), the sibling of a massive solar flare, traveled the 93 million miles between the Sun and Earth in only 17.6 hours. Today, it’s known as the Carrington Event and is remembered by the largest geomagnetic storm in the history of recorded space weather.

No other storm has matched it in speed or magnitude. When the shock wave of accelerated particles arrived on September 1, 1859, the disturbances to Earth’s magnetosphere were so great that telegraph communications across Europe and North America went on the fritz. Sparks leaped from the telegraph infrastructure, and machinery was so inundated with electric currents that operators were able to transmit messages while disconnected from battery power. Compasses even wiggled, and brilliant auroras were reportedly seen as far south as the Caribbean.

But that doesn’t mean the ill-equipped government isn’t preparing for the inevitability, in fact, they are. Despite our superior ability to predict these events, the stakes are exponentially higher in a modern, hyper-connected world.  FEMA predicts that a geomagnetic storm of this intensity would be “a catastrophe in slow motion.” Space weather events happen all the time, and many are harmless. For example, an event causing radio blackouts, solar radiation storms, and geomagnetic storms would be abnormal, yet the ripple effects on the power grid and communications would severely limit FEMA’s ability to respond to a nationwide crisis.

Within 20 minutes of the CME’s occurrence, FEMA estimates that 15 percent of the satellite fleet would be lost due to solar panel damage.


Solar radiation from the incoming storm would add “3-5 years worth of exposure” to the panels, degrading older satellites to the point of inoperability.


Low orbiting satellites, such as Iridium and Globalstar, may be less affected. Cellular service would be disrupted, and a loss of GPS capabilities could complicate FEMA operations.



Should a storm of this magnitude hit, there wouldn’t be much the government can do. And of course, this would be the perfect opportunity to round up the masses for a trip to a FEMA camp. Individuals would need to band together to help get things back online, but it would all take time.  Those in heavily populated regions would be hit the hardest and evacuation of over 100 million people would be impossible, and even if it was, there would be no unaffected region to send the evacuees – other than the FEMA camps.

Prepare yourself, because the mere fact that this government document exists could mean that there is something we don’t know.

00:29 How Businesses Use Controversial Device Fingerprinting To Identify And Track Customers» Forbes Real Time
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00:28 Traders betting against restaurants are getting clobbered (CMG, SBUX, MCD, DRI, CBRL, DPZ, YUM, DNKN, CAKE, SHAK)» Markets

Shake Shack

It was forecast to be a tough year for chain restaurants

Cheaper groceries and more expensive food at restaurants slowed restaurant sales in 2016. Restaurants were also faced with rising pressure to raise their workers' wages. 

But traders who bet against some of the industry's big names are mostly counting losses. 

"The entire restaurant sector has not been kind to short sellers this year with only one stock in the top ten, The Cheesecake Factory, profitable in 2017," said Ihor Dusaniwsky, the head of research at the financial-analytics firm S3, in a note on Thursday. 

This year, investors placed the most bearish bets on Chipotle, the fast-casual restaurant chain that saw an exodus of customers after E-coli outbreaks in 14 states were linked to its food in late-2015. 

Betting against Chipotle in 2016 was a winning move: short sellers earned $355 million, or were up 20%, on their bet. 

This year, they have lost 71.4% on a mark-to-market basis, S3 said.

The stock's 7% drop this week, however, provided some reprieve, as short sellers made back $157 million of their total $404 million losses before the slide. Chipotle said on Monday June 19 that it expected to spend more on marketing in the second quarter than the first.  

Year-to-date, Chipotle's shares have gained 11%, a performance that's not dissimilar to other restaurant chains that Wall Street is betting against. Starbucks, with almost $1.6 billion in short interest — ranking second — is up 7%, while McDonald's has soared 27%. 

The table below shows the most shorted restaurant stocks, and the losses that short sellers have incurred year-to-date: 

Screen Shot 2017 06 22 at 1.46.18 PM

And the chart below shows that most of the most shorted restaurant stocks have traded the other way:


SEE ALSO: PRESENTING: The most important charts in the world from the brightest minds on Wall Street

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00:19 China tightens online video controls, jolting investors» AP Top Business News at 5:48 a.m. EDT
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00:17 Boeing plans job cuts at South Carolina facility where Trump declared he would 'fight for every last American job'» Markets

Donald Trump Carrier jobs

Some workers at a Boeing facility in South Carolina are being laid off from the company, nearly five months after President Donald Trump visited the plant, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

“We are going to fight for every last American job,” Trump said during a stop at the North Charleston plant in February.

In a statement from Boeing cited by The Post, the company said, "Our competition is relentless, and that has made clear our need as a company to reduce cost to be more competitive. We are offering resources to those affected by layoffs to help them in finding other employment and ease their transition as much as possible."

Although Boeing declined to state exactly how many people would lose their jobs and when the layoffs would start, affected employees appeared to be coming from a diverse set of departments, including engineering, quality control and training, and operations management, according to The Post.

The latest layoffs coincide with Boeing's announcement in December, when the company announced it would downsize its staff after scaling down this year's production of the Boeing 777 aircraft by 40%, due to lower demand.

This particular Boeing plant holds some significance to Trump's campaign promise for job growth in the manufacturing industry. It was one of the president's first visits to a company after his inauguration.

"We're here today to celebrate American engineering and American manufacturing," Trump said during his visit on February 17. "We're also here today to celebrate jobs. Jobs!"

Carrier, another company that Trump put the spotlight on during his campaign, was set to layoff around 600 employees starting in July, CNBC reported.

Due in part to Trump's admonishments shortly after the 2016 election, Carrier said it would preserve about 1,069 jobs for 10 years at its Indiana plant in exchange for $7 million in incentives from the government. Trump touted the arrangement in November last year.

"The jobs are still leaving," said Robert James, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, in CNBC's report. "Nothing has stopped."

"To me this was just political, to make it a victory within Trump's campaign, in his eyes that he did something great," said T.J. Bray, an employee at Carrier. "I'm very grateful that I get to keep my job, and many others, but I'm still disappointed that we're losing a lot."

SEE ALSO: 600 layoffs coming to Carrier plant Trump claimed to save last year

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23:22 There's frightening new data on the effects of a blockbuster drug Wall Street loves to hate» Markets

Andrew Left, Citron Research

  • Adverse events for those taking Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals' drug Acthar spiked last year, according to FDA data. Hospitalizations tripled, and "other serious" side effects quadrupled.
  • In a lawsuit, a former Mallinckrodt sales rep says he was pushed to promote Acthar for off-label uses.
  • A neurologist who has studied the drug says the spike in hospitalizations could be a sign it is being overused.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and its $36,382 blockbuster drug — a decades-old treatment called Acthar — are under siege from short sellers.

These traders — who are profiting from the stock's decline — have questioned the drug's efficacy, Mallinckrodt's dependence on deals with pharmaceutical middlemen for the drug's expanding use, and why a drug that is primarily indicated as a treatment for infants is turning into a massive expense for Medicare, a program for the elderly.

Now the critics have a new line of attack. Data from the Food and Drug Administration shows that reports of adverse events for those taking the drug — everything from hospitalization to death — have spiked recently. The increase is far faster than the rate of prescriptions.

Andrew Left of Citron Research pounced on the data, releasing a report Thursday saying Citron "believes the reason for the increase in adverse events is the company's expansion of Acthar into new indications where it has not conducted clinical trials in order to test its safety in new indications."

He's not the only short seller targeting the company, but he is the shrillest. Mallinckrodt shares tumbled in early trading Thursday before regaining their losses.

To be clear: The raw numbers are relatively small, with only about 9,000 people taking Acthar, according to Mallinckrodt.

Eighty-two deaths were reported in 2016, up from 69 the year before. Hospitalizations nearly doubled to 427, and "other serious" side effects quadrupled to 436.

The company released a statement saying that side effects linked to the drug were often relatively minor and that correlation of side effects with Acthar didn't necessarily mean causation. You can read that here.

adverse effects associated with ActharWhat the data does show us is that Mallinckrodt's strategy of taking an old drug that never went through the rigors of FDA approval and trying to expand its use could be running into serious limits. The company has turned Acthar into a drug with over $1 billion in annual sales by persuading doctors to prescribe it even to the sickest patients and even when there are much cheaper alternatives.

I asked Dr. Dennis Bourdette, the chair of neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University, about the FDA data. He has studied Acthar's use — and he's not a fan.

To Bourdette, the spike in adverse events could be a sign the drug is being overused in a way that is triggering side effects.

"Some doctors are using Acthar like an ongoing, monthly, or weekly therapy over long periods of time, and when you do that there are all sorts of side effects that can occur because of the steroid effects that can occur," Bourdette said.

On Acthar's website, the company takes pains to say it is not a steroid, even though it "works by helping your body produce its own natural steroid hormones." Bourdette says that doesn't matter because it still acts like one. "ACTH is having all these effects on the immune system apart from releasing cortisol," Bourdette said, referring to the adrenocorticotropic hormone in Acthar.

"When your body produces too much cortisol you're going to have chronic steroid side effects we've known about for decades, and every doctor is trained in those side effects."

'No idea'

So why are the doctors prescribing so much Acthar?

"I have no idea," Bourdette said.

Acthar is supposed to be taken for about five to 15 days to treat infantile spasms and multiple sclerosis, but there's no specification on dosage for the 17 other conditions that Mallinckrodt says can be treated with Acthar.

Screen Shot 2017 06 22 at 10.25.09 AMThe drug was grandfathered into FDA approval because it dates back to the 1950s before clinical testing was required. As such, some have questioned its efficacy.

To be fair, Mallinckrodt has said repeatedly that only the most desperate patients take Acthar, suggesting it's not the primary treatment for many of the ailments it is used against. Instead, the company says, it is used only after other drugs don't work.

Mallinckrodt also says on its website that while "the exact way that Acthar works in the body is unknown, further studies are being conducted" and that some information on the website "is based on laboratory data, and how it relates to patient benefit is unknown."

Emergency Room Hospital

Some ideas

So why would doctors prescribe too much Acthar for the wrong ailments? We can't be sure, but we do know that in December a former Acthar sales rep, Barry Franks, filed a whistle-blower suit against Mallinckrodt.

Franks accused the company of pushing him to promote Acthar's use for off-label indications — in fact, he's saying his bonus depended on it. He says when he wouldn't do things Mallinckrodt's way — and his sales team didn't see the "explosive growth" other teams did — he was fired.

From the complaint:

"Franks ... alleges that there were illegal sales practices being committed in other regions, and that Mallinckrodt used these regions as the gold standard or basis Incentive Bonus Plans for which all regions were compared and asked to duplicate. Franks was expected to deliver sales that were not supported by lawful practices.


"Franks was also aware of other compliance related issues at Mallinckrodt, which Franks ... alleges that these issues include but were not limited to: potential insurance/Medicare fraud ... HIPPA violations where four or eight week prescriptions were provided where there was no patient visit and violations where Mallinckrodt permitted, for a certain period of time, certain employees to manipulate the compensation plan by having physicians wrote shorter prescriptions that were refilled, to earn a bonus on the patient at the shortest prescription interval.

"(Shorter prescriptions did not allow sufficient time to see if a patient responded to the drug. In some cases the drug was shipped the same day as the referral was received. This was done to 'game the system' and potentially commit insurance/Medicare fraud.)"

Mallinckrodt didn't respond to a request for comment on Franks' claims.

Another reason doctors may want to prescribe Acthar goes back to Bourdette's study on the few doctors who do prescribe Acthar. Mallinckrodt, like a lot of other drug companies, also has a speakers program through which it can book and pay doctors to talk about its drugs.

Typically, the top prescribers of Acthar not only have received payments from Mallinckrodt but also "are typically getting larger payments from companies that are developing disease-modifying therapies," Bourdette told us back in March.

One top prescriber, Dr. Regina Berkovich, an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Southern California, accepted $23,895 for writing a paper and talking about Acthar in 2013. That was out of $142,978 in speaking and other fees from various drug companies she collected that year.

HP Acthar chart priceAnother doctor, Robert Baughman, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati, is collaborating with Mallinckrodt on a study on Acthar's efficacy curing patients with sarcoidosis, a disease that affects the lungs and lymph glands. This is part of the "investigator-initiated research," which Mallinckrodt supports financially through grants.He has also received $21,625 for promoting Acthar from 2013 to 2015 (that's out of $116,000 for speaking and promotion fees for drugs during that period). He declined to comment on his research when we asked him about it March.

What he's published about Acthar is not encouraging. Of 47 patients, 18 discontinued the program because of "cost (four patients), death (two patients), or drug toxicity (eleven patients), or noncompliance (1 patient)."

Still, both his study and Berkovich's study are being touted as advancements by Mallinckrodt.

The No. 1 prescriber of Acthar (making up 1% of all prescriptions) is an Ohio rheumatologist named David Mandel, according to the most recent government data. In August of 2014, he was forced to pay a $640,000 fine for the "shipment of misbranded drugs." From 2013 to 2015, Mandel has received $22,762 in speaking and other fees from Mallinckrodt for promoting Acthar.

Until rigorous, independent clinical trials are done, there will continue to be questions about the efficacy of Acthar. At least, there should be for the sake of anyone taking it.

SEE ALSO: A Wall Street investor call revealed part of the secret of why drugs are so expensive

SEE ALSO: Something weird's going on with the doctors prescribing one of pharma's most controversial blockbuster drugs

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