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Friday, February 7, 2014

Puerto Rico Re-Junked, This Time By Moody's

Three days ago it was S&P that opened the can of Puerto Rico junk worms. Moments ago it was Moody's turn to downgrade the General Obligation rating of the Commonwealth from Baa3 to Ba2, aka junk status. We note this just in case someone is confused what the catalyst was that just sent stock to a new intraday high in the aftermath of today's disappointing jobs number which until this moment barely managed to push the S&P higher by 1%.

Muni bonds, having shrugged off the initial downgrade, are starting to crack as the looming fear of forced (mandate-driven) sales rise rapidly... the2017s tumbled over 4 points today!

Full release:
Moody's downgrades Puerto Rico GO and related bonds to Ba2, notched bonds to Ba3 and COFINA bonds to Baa1, Baa2; outlook negative
 Approximately $55B of rated debt affected
New York, February 07, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the general obligation (GO) rating of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to Ba2 from Baa3. Ratings that are capped by or linked to the commonwealth's GO rating were also downgraded two notches, with the exception of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Revenue Bonds, which were downgraded to Ba2 from Ba1. At the same time, Moody's downgraded the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation's (COFINA's) senior-lien bonds to Baa1 from A2 and its junior-lien bonds to Baa2 from A3. The outlooks for ratings on the GO and the related bonds, as well as the COFINA bonds, are negative. For the ratings affected by this action, all of which were placed on review on December 11, 2013, see the list at the end of this report.
The problems that confront the commonwealth are many years in the making, and include years of deficit financing, pension underfunding, and budgetary imbalance, along with seven years of economic recession. These factors have now put the commonwealth in a position where its debt load and fixed costs are high, its liquidity is narrow, and its market access has become constrained. In the face of these problems, the administration has taken strong and aggressive actions to control spending, reform the retirement systems, reduce debt issuance, and promote economic development. Despite these accomplishments, however, in our view the commonwealth's credit profile is no longer consistent with investment grade characteristics.
While some economic indicators point to a preliminary stabilization, we do not see evidence of economic growth sufficient to reverse the commonwealth's negative financial trends. Without an economic revival, the commonwealth will face difficult decisions in coming years, as its debt and pension costs rise. The negative outlook signals the remaining challenges facing the commonwealth.
The commonwealth's general obligation bonds and all the notched and related ratings were downgraded by two notches, with the exception of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Revenue Bonds, which were downgraded one notch, to Ba2. This brings them to the same rating as the commonwealth general obligation rating, which reflects recent rate increases enacted by the legislature that will improve net revenues and are expected to reduce the authority's reliance on commonwealth support.
  • Politically and economically linked to the US, with benefit of the nation's strong financial, legal, and regulatory systems
  • Large economy, with gross product exceeding that of 15 US states and population exceeding that of 22 US states
  • Broad legal powers to raise revenues, adjust spending programs, and borrow to maintain fiscal solvency
  • Major actions taken to stabilize commonwealth finances, including significant reform to main pension system, and tax increases to reduce budget deficit
  • Ongoing economic weakness due to long-term decline in dominant manufacturing sector, decreased competitiveness as a result of expired federal tax benefits, and high energy costs
  • Dependence on capital markets financing to fund operating expenses and debt service during period of increased risk of reduced market access
  • Very large unfunded pension liabilities relative to revenues, even after major reforms to two main plans that helped reduce cash-flow pressure
  • Very high government debt, equal to more than 50% of gross domestic product
  • Multi-year trend of large general fund operating deficits relative to revenues, financed by deficit borrowing
The downgrade and negative outlook affect general obligation bonds of the commonwealth and of related entities listed below.
  • General obligation bonds
  • Public Building Authority Bonds
  • Pension funding bonds
  • Puerto Rico Infrastructure Finance Authority (PRIFA) Special Tax Revenue Bonds
  • Convention Center District Authority Hotel Occupancy Tax Revenue Bonds
  • Government Development Bank (GDB) Senior Notes
  • Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) Bonds
  • Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) Transportation Revenue Bonds
  • Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Commonwealth Guaranteed Bonds
  • Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Revenue Bonds
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation Senior Lien Bonds
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation Junior Lien Bonds
  • Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) Highway Revenue Bonds
  • Puerto Rico Public Finance Corporation (PRPFC) Commonwealth Appropriation Bonds
  • Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) Subordinate Transportation Revenue Bonds
The rating outlook is negative, based on our expectation of continued economic stagnation or decline. The outlook also incorporates continuing demands on liquidity, increased refinancing risk and constrained market access.
  • Strong rebound in economic growth leading to improved and sustained financial performance
  • A trend of declining debt

  • Evidence of further constraints on market access or significant further weakening of GDB liquidity
  • Indication that total fixed costs, including pension contributions and debt service on bonded debt, have become unaffordable
  • Steep growth in structural budget gap and an increase in GAAP deficits, solved with non-recurring solutions
  • Economic weakness resulting in declining revenues and continued out-migration
  • Reacceleration of growth in government debt
Credit to Zero Hedge

Russia in talks to help Iran build new nuclear reactor

Iran and Russia are in negotiations over the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Bushehr province, according to a senior Russian official.

The deputy head of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) Nikolai Spassky said the talks were at a “working stage.”

“We are discussing the possibility of continuing our cooperation with Iran,” he added in comments quoted by RIA Novosti. “Any partnership if we agree, must and will comply with Russia’s international obligations and should be cost-effective.”

Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency carried Spassky’s comments with the headline: “Official: Russia to Help Iran Build 2nd N. Power Plant in Bushehr,” implying that negotiations were further along than the Russian official indicated. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had announced plans to build a second reactor in Bushehr in December.

In related news, Moscow panned on Friday Washington’s expansion of existing Iran sanctions lists.

On Thursday, the US Treasury and State Departments announced the addition of several individuals and firms to those lists, a move which the Russian Foreign Ministry called “unacceptable.”

In a statement, the ministry said the expansion of sanctions went against the progress of ongoing negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

“We have said repeatedly that such decisions contradict the spirit of the Geneva agreements, where it is stipulated in particular that Washington refrains from introducing new sanctions related to the nuclear activities of Tehran,” the statement read.

“We consider the step made to be unacceptable and that it contradicts international law.”

As part of an interim deal reached in November, Iran must largely suspend progress on its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The US Congress has been mulling additional sanctions legislation that would go into effect should Tehran fail to comply with the terms reached in Geneva, a measure which the Obama administration strongly opposes.

Read more: Russia in talks to help Iran build new nuclear reactor | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/russia-in-talks-to-help-iran-build-new-nuclear-reactor/#ixzz2sfX5swnw

Violence erupts as Brazilians protest transport hikes

The Final Swindle Of Private American Wealth Has Begun

Submitted by Brandon Smith of Alt-Market.com,
I began writing analysis on the macro-economic situation of the American financial structure back in 2006, and in the eight years since, I have seen an undeniably steady trend of fiscal decline.
I have never had any doubt that the U.S. economy as we know it was headed for total and catastrophic collapse, the only question was when, exactly, the final trigger event would occur. As I have pointed out in the past, economic implosion is a process. It grows over time, like the ice shelf on a mountain developing into a potential avalanche. It is easy to shrug off the danger because the visible destruction is not immediate, it is latent; but when the avalanche finally begins, it is far too late for most people to escape…
If you view the progressive financial breakdown in America as some kind of “comedy of errors” or a trial of unlucky coincidences, then there is not much I can do to educate you on the reasons behind the carnage. If, however, you understand that there is a deliberate motivation behind American collapse, then what I have to say here will not fall on biased ears.
The financial crash of 2008, the same crash which has been ongoing for years, is NOT an accident. It is a concerted and engineered crisis meant to position the U.S. for currency disintegration and the institution of a global basket currency controlled by an unaccountable supranational governing body like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The American populace is being conditioned through economic fear to accept the institutionalization of global financial control and the loss of sovereignty.
Anyone skeptical of this conclusion is welcome to study my numerous past examinations on the issue of globalization; I don’t have the time within this article to re-explain, and frankly, with so much information on deliberate dollar destruction available to the public today I’ve grown tired of anyone with a lack of awareness.
If you continue to believe that the Fed actually exists to “help” stabilize our economy or our currency, then you will never find the logic behind what they do. If you understand that the goal of the Fed and the globalists is to dismantle the dollar and the U.S. economic system to make way for something “new”, then certain recent events and policy initiatives do start to make sense.
The year of 2014 has been looming as a serious concern for me since the final quarter of 2013, and you can read about those concerns and the evidence that supports them in my article Expect Devastating Global Economic Changes In 2014.
At the end of 2013 we saw at least three major events that could have sent America spiraling into total collapse. The first was the announcement of possible taper measures by the Fed, which have now begun. The second was the possible invasion of Syria which the Obama Administration is still desperate for despite successful efforts by the liberty movement to deny him public support for war. And, the third event was the last debt ceiling debate (or debt ceiling theater depending on how you look at it), which placed the U.S. squarely on the edge of fiscal default.
As we begin 2014, these same threatening issues remain (along with many others), only at greater levels and with more prominence. New developments reinforce my original position that this year will be remembered by historians as the year in which the final breakdown of the U.S. monetary dynamic was set in motion. Here are some of those developments explained…
Taper Of QE3
When I first suggested that a Fed taper was not only possible but probable months ago, I was met with a bit (a lot) of criticism from some in the alternative economic world. You can read my taper articles here and here.
This was understandable. The Fed uses multiple stimulus outlets besides QE in order to manipulate U.S. markets. Artificially lowering interest rates is very much a form of stimulus in itself, for instance.
However, I think a dangerous blindness to threats beyond money printing has developed within our community of analysts and this must be remedied. People need to realize first that the Fed does NOT care about the continued health of our economy, and they may not care about presenting a facade of health for much longer either. Alternative analysts also need to come to grips with the reality that overt money printing is not the only method at the disposal of globalists when destroying the greenback. A debt default is just as likely to cause loss of world reserve status and devaluation - no printing press required. Blame goes to government and political gridlock while the banks slither away in the midst of the chaos.
The taper of QE3 is not a “head fake”, it is very real, but there are many hidden motivations behind such cuts.
Currently, $20 billion has been trimmed from the $85 billion per month program, and we are already beginning to see what APPEAR to be market effects, including a flight from emerging market currencies from Argentina to Turkey. A couple of years ago investors viewed these markets as among the few places they could exploit to make a positive return, or in other words, one of the few places they could successfully gamble. The Fed taper, though, seems to be shifting the flow of capital away from emerging markets.
The mainstream argument is that stimulus was flowing into such markets, giving them liquidity support, and the taper is drying up that liquidity. Whether this is actually true is hard to say, given that without a full audit we have no idea how much fiat the Federal Reserve has actually created and how much of it they send out into foreign markets.
I stand more on the position that the Fed taper was actually begun in preparation for a slowdown in global markets that was already in progress. In fact, I believe central bankers have been well aware that a decline in every sector was coming, and are moving to insulate themselves.
Is it just a "coincidence" that the central bankers have initiated their taper of QE right when global manufacturing numbers begin to plummet?
Is it just "coincidence" the taper was started right when the Baltic Dry Index, a global indicator of shipping demand, has lost over 50% of its value in the past few weeks?
Is it just "coincidence" that the taper is running tandem with dismal retail sales growth reports from across the globe coming in from the final quarter of 2013?
And, is it just a "coincidence" that the Fed taper is accelerating right as the next debt ceiling debate begins in March, and when reports are being released by the Congressional Budget Office that over 2 million jobs (in work hours) may be lost due to Obamacare?
No, I do not think any of this is coincidence.  Most if not all of these negative indicators needed months to generate, so they could not have been caused by the taper itself.  The only explanation beyond "coincidence" is that the Federal Reserve WANTED to launch the taper program and protect itself before these signals began to reach the public.
Look at it this way - The taper program distances the bankers from responsibility for crisis in our financial framework, at least in the eyes of the general public. If a market calamity takes place WHILE stimulus measures are still at full speed, this makes the banks look rather guilty, or at least incompetent. People would begin to question the validity of central bank methods, and they might even question the validity of the central bank’s existence. The Fed is creating space between itself and the economy because they know that a trigger event is coming. They want to ensure that they are not blamed and that stimulus itself is not seen as ineffective, or seen as the cause.
We all know that the claims of recovery are utter nonsense. Beyond the numerous warning signs listed above, one need only look at true unemployment numbers, household wage decline, and record low personal savings of the average American. The taper is not in response to an improving economic environment. Rather, the taper is a signal for the next stage of collapse.
Stocks are beginning to plummet around the world and all mainstream pundits are pointing fingers at a reduction in stimulus which has very little to do with anything. What is the message they want us to digest? That we “can’t live” without the aid and oversight of central banks.
The real reason stocks and other indicators are stumbling is because the effectiveness of stimulus manipulation has a shelf life, and that shelf life is over for the Federal Reserve. I suspect they will continue cutting QE every month for the next year as stocks decline.  Will the Fed restart QE?  If they do, it will probably not occur until after a substantial breakdown has ensued and the public is sufficiently shell-shocked.  The possibility also exists that the Fed will never return to stimulus measures (if debt default is the plan), and QE stimulus will eventually be replaced by IMF "aid".
Government Controlled Investment
Last month, just as taper measures were being implemented, the White House launched an investment program called MyRA; a retirement IRA program in which middle class and low wage Americans can invest part of their paycheck in government bonds.
That’s right, if you wanted to know where the money was going to come from to support U.S. debt if the Fed cuts QE, guess what, the money is going to come from YOU.
For a decade or so China was the primary buyer and crutch for U.S. debt spending. After the derivatives crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve became the largest purchaser of Treasury bonds. With the decline of foreign interest in long term U.S. debt, and the taper in full effect, it only makes sense that the government would seek out an alternative source of capital to continue the debt cycle. The MyRA program turns the general American public into a new cash stream, but there’s more going on here than meets the eye…
I find it rather suspicious that a government-controlled retirement program is suddenly introduced just as the Fed has begun to taper, as stocks are beginning to fall, and as questions arise over the U.S. debt ceiling. I have three major concerns:
First, is it possible that like the Fed, the government is also aware that a crash in stocks is coming? And, are they offering the MyRA program as an easy outlet (or trap) for people to pour in what little savings they have as panic over declining equities accelerates?  Bonds do tend to look appetizing to uninformed investors during an equities route.
Second, the program is currently voluntary, but what if the plan is to make it mandatory? Obama has already signed mandatory health insurance “taxation” into law, which is meant to steal a portion of every paycheck. Why not steal an even larger portion from every paycheck in order to support U.S. debt? It’s for the “greater good,” after all.
Third, is this a deliberate strategy to corral the last vestiges of private American wealth into the corner of U.S. bonds, so that this wealth can be confiscated or annihilated? What happens if there is indeed an eventual debt default, as I believe there will be? Will Americans be herded into bonds by a crisis in stocks only to have bonds implode as well? Will they be conned into bond investment out of a “patriotic duty” to save the nation from default? Or, will the government just take their money through legislative wrangling, as was done in Cyprus not long ago?
The Final Swindle
Again, the next debt ceiling debate is slated for the end of this month. If the government decides to kick the can down the road for another quarter, I believe this will be the last time. The most recent actions of the Fed and the government signal preparations for a stock implosion and ultimate debt calamity. Default would have immediate effects in foreign markets, but the appearance of U.S. stability could drag on for a time, giving the globalists ample opportunity to siphon every ounce of financial blood from the public.
It is difficult to say how the next year will play out, but one thing is certain; something very strange and ugly is afoot. The goal of the globalists is to engineer desperation. To create a catastrophe and then force the masses to beg for help. How many hands of “friendship” will be offered in the wake of a U.S. wealth and currency crisis? What offers for “aid” will come from the IMF? How much of our country and how many of our people will be collateralized to secure that aid? And, how many Americans will go along with the swindle because they were not prepared in advance?
Credit to Zero Hedge

OF OIL IS SET TO BOIL...Cauldron part No 5

What a time to be alive! Think of it: God chose for us to be here at the time that is almost certainly the wind-up of human history. But this is not something the Christian needs to fear; this all means that Jesus is about to return!

All of the major signals that Jesus and Daniel the prophet foretold for the very end of this present Earth Age are in our headlines today. The world’s religions coming together in the name of unity and peace are shaping up to be the apostate harlot church that rides the “beast” of Revelation 17. Huge banking and commercial institutions merging into one economic power are fulfilling the description of the one-world, economic Babylon of Revelation 18. Great increases in technology, knowledge, and speed of travel exactly match things prophesied in Daniel 12.

We are also seeing the rise of false prophets. False teachers pollute our broadcast airwaves with their false doctrines. Wars and rumors of wars are a part of everyday life. We continue to witness famines and pestilences in the form of new, incurable diseases. Earthquakes are occurring often and everywhere. There are wondrous signs in the heavens, from man walking on the moon to unexplained UFO sightings and unprecedented solar flares recorded by astronomers and other scientists. All of these things are eerily like Jesus said it will be just before His return to earth.

Mankind demonstrates all of the wicked ways the apostle Paul predicted in 2 Timothy 3. As if all this weren’t enough, Ezekiel’s prophecies (see Ezekiel 37, 38, and 39) loom heavily over the Middle East.

What is the one thing that turns all news-gathering cameras and microphones toward Israel and her hostile neighbors? Oil! Because oil deposits drench the Middle East, world economies are tied to that region as no other. Therefore, all the leaders of the great world powers concern themselves with every bit of news about Israel and its Palestinian adversaries.

“Now, most of the world is involved in the conflict in the Middle East, and the prosperity of the world depends on some mechanism to guarantee peace and a continued flow of oil from the region,” observes John Walvoord in his book,Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis. “This is precisely what biblical prophecy predicts.”[i]

The Middle East indeed boils in oil anxieties while the world storms toward an uncertain future. But God is not worried; neither does He want us to worry“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He knows the end from the beginning and has reported, in advance, the conclusion of these matters in his Holy Word. Study it and believe it to be absolutely true, and you will find your frown of worry fading into a smile of anticipation. You will know that His Beloved Son, Jesus, is about to return to take God’s children home with Him (read John 14:1–6).
God knew from before the Creation that oil would focus attention on the Middle East at the end of human history. He knew that the Garden of Eden’s lushness of life would bring about the end-time energy source the nations would covet.

Eden’s End-Time Energy

Let’s travel for a moment back to the time God created everything described in Genesis 1:20–24 with one majestic sweep of His almighty hand:
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth….
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

This wasn’t just a few scatterings of created beings and a mere smattering of vegetation. When the Creator of all things spoke, all of these things suddenly existed from what had been nothingness only a fraction of a second before. The vast ocean waters surged with life, from the smallest organism to the biggest whale. The brilliant, beautifully colored sky must have seemed suddenly cloudy while the flying, diving, soaring birds of every description tested their masterfully made wings. The dry land crawled, hopped, ran, leaped, and lumbered with marvelous reptiles and mammals of every sort. The sounds and sights must have been too incredible to take into the senses.

God’s creation power, not evolution, produced abundant life in that electrifying second of early earth time. Nothing crawled from primordial soup to change over the next zillion or so years. Everything popped into existence under the hand of the Living God. There were no accidents or errors in the Lord’s action. He knew exactly what He was doing. In the process, Eden’s potential end-time energy source—oil—was produced.

Lush Garden Slush

God is omnipotent (all powerful). He is omniscient (all knowing). He is omnipresent (everywhere, all the time). Through His omnipotence, He created the abundant and vast array of life in one split second. He knew all about, in His omniscient foreknowledge, the Fall of man through sin. The Lord was, in His omnipresence, already forward in time when oil was formed from the dead, decaying things He was creating. He is already in the future when the last great battle of history is being fought in the Middle East at Armageddon.
The rage in the Middle East today, the hateful conflict between Israel and its radical neighbors, points to the reality that things are aligned precisely as God foretold. Oil is certainly the ingredient that makes the great world powers look toward that region with concern.

So the present Mideast problems involving war and peace that tug the world toward Armageddon again go back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Adam through willful disobedience. God didn’t cause this calamity. In His love and concern for us, He simply reported, through prophecy, the end of the matter. Is all of this about oil’s connection to the creation scientifically possible? I believe it is more than that.

Let’s look closer at what the scientific study of petroleum says. Then let’s look at what the Bible says about the catastrophic deluge God used to judge sin and cleanse the earth of sin’s corruption.

Today’s scientists believe that crude oil was formed over millions of years from the remains of small plant and animal life in the ancient seas. As this life—primarily plankton and algae and other organisms—died, it sank to the sea floor, where it was buried with sand and mud.

Heat, pressure, and bacteria compressed and “cooked” the material until it formed a thick liquid called oil. Over time, the oil traveled upward through the earth’s crust until its path was blocked by dense rocks. It’s under these rocks where we find most of our oil today.

The Bible says in Genesis 6 and 7 that God sent a great Flood because of sin upon the earth. The water covered everything, including the highest mountaintop, by at least fifteen cubits (a cubit is believed to be about eighteen inches).

So you can see that this catastrophe involved an incredible amount of water. This wasn’t just some local flood, as some would have us believe. The Bible says that all flesh and plant life on the earth’s ground portions died in the overwhelming surge. When the water receded, many of the various forms of life in the rivers and the seas were left to flounder and die on the drying ground. This included, of course, the plankton, algae, and other vegetation of the rivers and seas.

The fossil record shows this was true. Evidence of seashells and other residue of sea life has been found on some of the highest peaks in the world. When the waters swiftly withdrew, huge chunks of dirt, rock, and other material broke off and became massive mudslides. Many believe this is the reason the Grand Canyon was cut from the earth as it was.

The dead, decaying animal and sea life, as well as the birds that drowned, were covered by the mud. People, also, according to the Bible, died by the millions and their bodies became a part of the mixture that formed within the pockets where oil is now found.

Nowhere on the globe was there more lushness of plant and animal life than in the region where God had planted the Garden of Eden. It is sensible to think that the area would have the largest deposits of oil. At present, two Middle Eastern nations, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are ranked as among the world’s top five oil producers. With a daily production of 10.7 million barrels and a proved reserve of nearly 267 billion barrels, Saudi Arabia leads the list, and Iran—with daily production of 4.1 million barrels and a proved reserve of 132.5 billion—is ranked as the fourth-largest oil-producing nation in the world, with the third-largest proved reserve.[ii](Nations rounding out the top five include Russia, second; the United States, third; and China, fifth).

There are some today who say that the Middle East having the lion’s share of all known oil in the world has changed because of new drilling techniques such as fracking, which can force oil from previously unreachable rock layers into retrievable quantities at an economically feasible cost. The United States would, if this is true, have as much in potential oil reserves as the Middle East. Still the region surrounding Israel is the main attraction to those who lust after the black, liquid gold.

Oil Eases Toil

When Noah and his seven other family members stepped onto dry land from the ark (see Genesis 8), they faced the curse God had pronounced because of sin—the curse of having to work for their food. They had to raise the animals, cultivate and sow the ground with seed, and “toil” by the sweat of their brow to make a living.

Hard labor isn’t fun for most people. It certainly has never been fun to me! While there is usually a sense of accomplishment after a job well done that makes us say as God said when He looked upon all He had created, “It is good,” the actual work can be back breaking.

Throughout history, society has tried to come up with ways to create labor-saving devices. For example, the aqueducts of ancient civilizations saved people from the hard work of hauling water by bringing it directly into the cities. In more recent times, the hand pump to get water from deep wells became an important part of early American life, even in frontier towns. And automated looms saved time and energy in weaving cloth for clothing and other things.
Even these earliest labor-saving inventions required human power, except in the few instances in which the mechanisms could be driven by the wind or running water. But the fantastic energy stored underground around the world soon completely changed everything. The advancements that the discovery of the power of oil inspired are nothing short of phenomenal.

Think of the progress! Until the late nineteenth century, we could travel on flat land no faster than the fastest horse could run. With the coming of the steam engine and other inventions of locomotion, travel became much faster—and made it possible to move forward for a much longer time before having to stop. Petroleum and its byproducts were at the heart of producing advances that are truly astonishing. It all happened, basically, within only a century.
The twentieth century saw mankind go from the steam engine to the computer-directed, solid-rocket engines that let man exceed twenty thousand miles per hour. And man walked on the moon!

All of this happened in about the last 120 years. Before the discovery of the power potential in petroleum, we remained basically unchanged in our ability to progress, as far as labor-saving devices were concerned.
Not only did oil bring the electricity that powers the washing machines, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and all the rest, but it also created a tremendous economic base that in turn brought about a leisure class. Now, there are those who laugh when they read that they are part of a “leisure” class—we still work pretty hard! Compared to our ancestors, however, we Americans live like royalty. As a matter of fact, when you think about it, with our modern conveniences and our ability to travel to and from most anywhere in the world in only a few hours, we live far better than did Solomon.
Most stunning of all is the communication technology we enjoy. Like the prophet stated in Daniel 12:4, knowledge has increased beyond anything previously imagined. We have only begun to realize the things that harnessing oil has made possible.

Need Feeds Greed

The more work-saving devices, the better. This is the attitude of the people of the industrialized world. And, more and more nations are moving toward becoming industrialized.
People in general, especially spoiled people with all the modern conveniences, want more and more free time to play rather than work. Vacations, or even weekends on the lakes with powerboats, are much more fun than working 8 to 5 to buy those luxuries and pay the bills.

Despite the mega-trillion-dollar debt facing Americans nationally and personally, the unquenchable need to buy more and more is on the increase. The compulsion to buy things is one form of greed that seems to be like a virus in the American economic bloodstream. With national credit card debt at a staggering $849.8 billion and the average household owing $15,185 to credit card companies, that greedy addiction cannot be denied. [iii]
The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1–4 that in the last days, people will be covetous and love pleasure more than they love God. Does that describe America today? Everyone wants “stuff”—homes, cars, boats, etc.—at least as good and, hopefully, even better, than what the Joneses have. When the warm days of springtime come, even the true Christian churches seem to empty into the lakes and other playgrounds on Sundays.

The plastic credit cards, themselves petroleum-based items, drive Americans deeper and deeper into debt. The greed factor gets much bigger, growing like a snowball rolling downhill. Companies rush to fill the consumers’ desires. Their own covetousness demands more and more production, with manufacturing processes depending upon more and more petroleum.

This is where Mideast war and peace come into the picture. As mentioned earlier, most of the world’s easily accessible (cheap-to-extract) petroleum is in the land God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—not the tiny strip of land occupied by Israel today, but the complete land of promise.
Today, Israel’s neighbors claim the majority of the world’s petroleum, and most of them are in an undeclared war against the tiny state. As a matter of fact, the enemies of Israel are blood vowed to push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea.
The mostly Arab governments who, when combined, control the vast oil fields of the Middle East, are in a sense an economic superpower just as surely as America is a nuclear superpower. They can bend the will of the rest of the world by raising—or simply threatening to raise—the price of oil. The lust for oil is probably the major factor that will bring an invasion into the Middle East. But more about that a bit later.

The industrialized Western nations have been lucky so far. The Arab countries are too busy fussing and feuding with each other to get together and make demands so far as prices of petroleum are concerned. They more often than not undercut each other’s prices and keep the costs relatively low.

A time is coming, no doubt, when they will put aside their continual fighting and get together on a greatly increased price per barrel of oil. When the greed overcomes their feuding, something will have to give. Most likely, that something will be Middle East peace…maybe even worldwide peace.

Oil, then, is the factor at the very heart of concern for world leaders. This group, referred to by news media as “the international community,” will do all within its power to put a permanent peace into effect in that region where the greatest oil supplies have been stored since the Flood.

Pact with the Devil

One of the things we are to look for as a signal of the end times is the formation of a one-world government, what some call the “New World Order.” The Bible says that at the end of this present age, a powerful group of world leaders will imagine to take over the world in all of its aspects: economically, governmentally, technologically, religiously, etc. (Read Revelation 17:12–13.) That is what happened when Nimrod and his fellow one-worlder friends wanted to establish a single government, economic, and religious world order (see Genesis 11). Humanism, the religious philosophy that drove Nimrod and the builders of the tower of Babel, is still around, and growing as a philosophy through which to bring about total control over all peoples and all the world’s wealth. Oil has a very high place in their big plans.

God came down to earth and scattered the tower builders to all parts of the globe, confusing the language so they could no longer communicate well enough to continue their satanic building project. Today’s similar engineers are aided by the computer, which is helping them get around the language barriers. God will again have to intervene, this time at Armageddon.

Credit to Raidersnewsupdate.com

We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years

LOS ANGELES — The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply.

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history.

State officials said they were moving to put emergency plans in place. In the worst case, they said drinking water would have to be brought by truck into parched communities and additional wells would have to be drilled to draw on groundwater. The deteriorating situation would likely mean imposing mandatory water conservation measures on homeowners and businesses, who have already been asked to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent.

Launch media viewerA once-submerged car at a California reservoir. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

“Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing” said Gov. Jerry Brown, who was governor during the last major drought here, in 1976-77.

This latest development has underscored the urgency of a drought that has already produced parched fields, starving livestock, and pockets of smog.

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” said B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Already the drought, technically in its third year, is forcing big shifts in behavior. Farmers in Nevada said they had given up on even planting, while ranchers in Northern California and New Mexico said they were being forced to sell off cattle as fields that should be four feet high with grass are a blanket of brown and stunted stalks.

Fishing and camping in much of California has been outlawed, to protect endangered salmon and guard against fires. Many people said they had already begun to cut back drastically on taking showers, washing their car and watering their lawns.

Rain and snow showers brought relief in parts of the state at the week’s end — people emerging from a movie theater in West Hollywood on Thursday evening broke into applause upon seeing rain splattering on the sidewalk — but they were nowhere near enough to make up for record-long dry stretches, officials said.

“I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,” said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, a statewide coalition. “We are talking historical drought conditions, no supplies of water in many parts of the state. My industry’s job is to try to make sure that these kind of things never happen. And they are happening.”

Credit to News York Times

U.S. Postal Service Announces Giant Ammo Purchase

The U.S. Postal Service is currently seeking companies that can provide “assorted small arms ammunition” in the near future.

The U.S. Postal Service joins the long list of non-military federal agencies purchasing large amounts of ammunition.

On Jan. 31, the USPS Supplies and Services Purchasing Office posted a notice on theFederal Business Opportunities website asking contractors to register with USPS as potential ammunition suppliers for a variety of cartridges.

“The United States Postal Service intends to solicit proposals for assorted small arms ammunition,” the notice reads, which also mentioned a deadline of Feb. 10.

The Post Office published the notice just two days after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced his proposal to remove a federal gun ban that prevents lawful concealed carry holders from carrying handguns inside post offices across the country.

Ironically the Postal Service isn’t the first non-law enforcement agency seeking firearms and ammunition.

Since 2001, the U.S. Dept. of Education has been building a massive arsenal through purchases orchestrated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The Education Dept. has spent over $80,000 so far on Glock pistols and over $17,000 on Remington shotguns.

Back in July, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also purchased 72,000 rounds of .40 Smith & Wesson, following a 2012 purchase for 46,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point by the National Weather Service.

NOAA spokesperson Scott Smullen responded to concerns over the weather service purchase by stating that it was meant for the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement for its bi-annual “target qualifications and training.”

That seems excessive considering that JHP ammunition is typically several times more expensive than practice rounds, which can usually be found in equivalent power loadings and thus offer similar recoil characteristics as duty rounds.

Including mass purchases by the Dept. of Homeland Security, non-military federal agencies combined have purchased an estimated amount of over two billion rounds of ammunition in the past two years.

Additionally, the U.S. Army bought almost 600,000 Soviet AK-47 magazines last fall, enough to hold nearly 18,000,000 rounds of 7.62x39mm ammo which is not standard-issue for either the U.S. military or even NATO.

It would take a Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy, one of the largest cargo aircraft in the world, two trips to haul that many magazines.

A month prior, the army purchased nearly 3,000,000 rounds of 7.62x39mm ammo, a huge amount but still only 1/6th of what the magazines purchased can hold in total.

The Feds have also spent millions on riot control measures in addition to the ammo acquisitions.

Earlier this month, Homeland Security spent over $58 million on hiring security details for just two Social Security offices in Maryland.

DHS also spent $80 million on armed guards to protect government buildings in New York and sought even more guards for federal facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

While the government gears up for civil unrest and stockpiles ammo without limit, private gun owners on the other hand are finding ammunition shelves empty at gun stores across America, including shortages of once-common cartridges such as .22 Long Rifle.

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, the USPS has amended its pre-solicitation, claiming that the ammunition is a "standard purchase" for the Postal Police. This does not explain, however, why the Postal Police was not listed in the original notice if this is standard. As the federal government grows larger, more and more federal agencies such as the Dept. of Education and NOAA are forming and arming their own "law enforcement divisions" with hundreds of thousands spent on full-blown arsenals. Even the EPA has its own SWAT teams conducting raids on peaceful Americans. Expect to see more large-scale firearm and ammunition purchases by these bureaucracies as they become even more militarized.

Credit to Infowars.com

Worst winter rainfall since 1766 in parts of Britain

Britain announced emergency funding Thursday to cope with devastating floods after what officials said had been likely the worst spell of winter rainfall in at least 248 years.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government has faced criticism for its handling of a crisis that has left swathes of the country under water, with a key railway line washed away.

Several people had to be rescued from deluged homes on Thursday while more storms are expected this weekend.

Across the English Channel, France's western tip was placed on alert for flooding as high tides wreaked havoc along Europe's Atlantic coast.

Britain's Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the government would make an extra 30 million ($48 million, 36 million euros) available for emergency repairs, on top of 100 million announced by Cameron on Wednesday.

Pickles said the winter was the "wettest since George III was on the throne", referring to Britain's monarch from 1760-1820.

He added that flood victims have "literally been through hell and high water".

Britain's Meterological Office released figures confirming Pickles' assessment.

For southern England, "regional statistics suggest that this is one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years", it said in a statement.

Parts of the region received five months of rainfall between December 12 and January 31.

The rainy winter has set records tumbling, being the wettest combined period of December and January across the United Kingdom since 1910, the Met Office said.

It was also the windiest December since 1969, based on the occurrence of winds over 69 mph.

For England alone it was the wettest December to January since 1876-1877 and the second wettest since rainfall records began in 1766.

"Nothing happened for so long"

Firefighters in Somerset and the neighbouring county of Devon rescued 14 people from homes and stranded vehicles late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Rescuers in inflatable boats rescued four adults and three children from one house after a river burst its banks in Stoke St Gregory, a village that heir to the throne Prince Charles visited on Tuesday, a fire brigade spokesman said.

Prince Charles himself said on his trip to the region that the "tragedy is that nothing happened for so long".

Cameron personally took charge of the government's response on Wednesday after facing a growing tide of criticism for being too slow to aid stricken communities.

But the damage has kept coming, with the main train service connecting Devon and the county of Cornwall with the rest of Britain being suspended after part of the sea wall under the coastal railway line collapsed.

Meanwhile in France, Finestere, a department of Brittany which juts out into the Atlantic, was placed on red flooding alert and braced for two of its rivers, the Morlaix and the Laita, to burst their banks as a result of heavy rain forecast for Thursday.

The highest-level warning was issued by Meteo-France shortly after the agency placed 29 departments from Brittany to the Paris region on a second-tier orange alert.

Recent days have seen huge waves, gale-force winds and torrential rains combine to batter sea defences from the Basque country on France's border with Spain.

The storms sent a Spanish cargo ship crashing into a sea wall at the French port of Bayonne on Wednesday, splitting it clean in two.

Credit to Spacedaily.com

No Debt Ceiling Fight, Budget Deficit Is Not Shrinking!


TEL AVIV – Official Iranian state-run media has released several false reports in recent days using fabricated quotes purportedly from an Israeli minister vowing to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Some of the reports use the made up quotes to incite anti-Israel riots.

Arik Ben-Shimon, spokesman for Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, confirmed to WND that Ariel did not make comments about destroying the Al Aqsa Mosque.

“If he actually made those statements it would be headlines in major newspapers around the world and not fake news in Iran’s media,” Ben-Shimon said.

The next day, Iran’s Press TV reported, “Saudi Arabia is supporting the Israeli regime in its plan to replace the holy al-Aqsa Mosque with a temple,” according to an analyst that spoke with the media outlet.

Continued Press TV: “Saab Shaath was talking to Press TV on Saturday, one day after Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel called for the construction of what he called ‘the Third Temple’ to replace the holy site.”

Shaath went on to call for “resistance” against Israel because of the so-called threats against the mosque in Jerusalem.

“The only thing which will stop the Israelis from going that far is the Arab-Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon,” Shaath told Press TV.

A Press TV editorial cited Ariel’s supposed quotes about the Al Aqsa Mosque to claim “Zionists provoking Armageddon.”

Ben-Shimon, meanwhile, told WND that Ariel did make statements last year about rebuilding the Third Jewish Temple.

“But he was speaking about his dream for the Third Temple to be rebuilt after the coming of the Messiah. He was not referring to any real plans for Israel to reconstruct the Temple,” Ben-Shimon stated.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/02/iran-media-israel-rebuilding-temple/#d7rZMysKxF8rFU1G.99

US grants Iran a seat at the next round of Geneva II conference on Syria.... alongside big powers

The second round of the Geneva II conference on the Syrian conflict opens Monday, Feb. 10 – this time with a seat at the table for the Iranian delegation provided by Washington, DEBKAfile reports exclusively. Washington relayed this abrupt turnabout from its ban last week on Iranian representatives to the Tehran delegates quietly attending the secret alternative conference taking place unannounced in Bern.

This event has proceeded in parallel to the public gathering in Montreux with the participation of Assad regime and opposition delegates, as well as senior US, Iranian and Russian officials. It was there that the real business was contracted behind closed doors – not in Montreux, where rigid official positions were presented for public consumption as a decoy from the Bern meeting, for which the Swiss government rather than the UN had provided the necessary technical and logistic facilities.

The Bern channel was first revealed in the last DEBKA Weekly issue, No. 621 of Jan. 31.
Permission to admit Iran to the Bern parley marked another major Obama administration concession to Tehran. For the first time, Iran delegates took their seats around an international conference table alongside the major powers with a say on political and strategic decisions for a critical Mid East conflict.

This basic shift was evinced, according to our sources, Tuesday, Feb. 4 in Washington and in Moscow.

Appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, Director of Intelligence James Clapper admitted that the agreement to dismantle the Syrian chemical weapons, reached last year in Geneva by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, had “actually strengthened Bashar Assad’s position… by virtue of his agreement to remove the chemical weapons.”
In the space of a week, Washington has gone back on the forceful statement Kerry made at the opening of the Geneva conference on Jan. 16, when he said “as we get into this process, it will become clear there is no political solution whatsoever if Assad is not discussing a transition and if he thinks he is going to be part of that future. It is not going to happen”

The Obama administration is now forced to act on the presumption of a stronger Bashar Assad – as registered by Clapper, meaning that in order to be realistic, there is no option but to accept the Syrian ruler’s strong standing in Damascus and Tehran and the unavoidable conclusion that Iran is vitally instrumental to any resolution of the Syrian conflict.

Few people even in Israel noticed the telling comment made last week by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s special emissary to Tehran, Jibril Rajoub. He said after talking to Iranian officials that Tehran must be part of the negotiating process ongoing between the Palestinians and Israel, clearly speaking under the influence of Iran’s enhanced position in the conference on Syria’s future.

In Moscow Tuesday, Lavrov, standing with Ahmad Jarba, leader of the oppsoition Syrian National Coalition, said “there was no doubt that Syrian opposition would attend” the second round of Geneva 2 next week.

This was after he had told Jarba privately, DEBKAfile’s sources report, that Iran must participate henceforth in the talks for there to be any chance of progress toward a resolution of the Syrian conflict.

None of this, or the admitted “roll-down” in the deal for eliminating Assad’s chemical arsenal, deterred Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, the head of the US team at the nuclear negotiations with Iran, from explaining to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the interim nuclear agreement signed with Iran is “full of holes” because it is not a final agreement. “This is not perfect but this does freeze and roll back their program in significant ways and give us time on the clock to in fact negotiate that comprehensive agreement,” Sherman said.

The problem with this is that no one in Moscow, Tehran or Damascus has any doubt that the nuclear deals with the big powers will not turn out much differently from the agreement for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons.