Sunday, January 31, 2016
On Thursday evening we detailed the dramatic increase in Google search queries for gun permits in Germany. Specifically, since January 1, the number of Germans Googling “gun permits” has risen more than 1,000%.
Meanwhile, sales of non-lethal weapons such as tear gas pistols have skyrocketed, as Germans look to protect themselves against what many see as a hostile foreign invasion.
But while most Germans are (for now) content to counter the perceived threat from hostile migrants with non-lethal arms, at least one citizen on Friday decided to deploy a more deadly weapon in the “battle” to preserve German society: a grenade.
“Unknown assailants hurled a hand grenade at a shelter for asylum seekers in southern Germany on Friday but the device did not explode and no one was injured,” AFP reports. “Police in Villingen-Schwenningen said about 20 residents of the shelter were temporarily evacuated but were able to return to their rooms in the early morning hours.”
"Security staff discovered the intact explosive device and notified the police," a statement from authorities read.
The pin was pulled, but for whatever reason, it didn't explode. Police later detonated it in a controlled explosion.
Although no one was harmed in this particular attack, it underscores just how precarious the situation has become. Refugees probably thought the days of having grenades lobbed at them were over once they escaped the war-torn Mid-East. They were wrong.
Meanwhile, a new poll by Insa shows just how fed up Germans have become with Berlin's refugee policy. According to the survey - which was conducted for Focus magazine - 40% of the country believes Angela Merkel should resign.
"The Insa poll for Focus magazine surveyed 2,047 Germans between Jan. 22 to Jan. 25," Reuters reports. "It was the first time the pollster had asked voters whether Merkel should quit."
As Reuters goes on to note, "Merkel enjoyed record high popularity ratings early last year [but] has grown increasingly isolated in recent months as members of her conservative bloc have pressed her to take a tougher line on asylum seekers and European allies have dragged their feet on the issue."
On Thursday, Germany moved to tighten asylum rules in an effort to stem the flow of refugees into the country. Specifically, Berlin added Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to the "safe countries of origin list," allowing Germany to easily deny asylum to migrants from those countries.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel also said family reunions for migrants would be blocked for two years.
Also on Thursday, Finland joined Sweden in promising to deport tens of thousands of the refugees it sheltered last year. Paivi Nerg, administrative director of the interior ministry told AFP the country would deport two thirds, or 32,000 migrants in 2016.
Clearly, the situation in Europe is deteriorating at a rather rapid clip. All that's needed now is one more major "incident" akin to the Paris attacks for the entire thing to unravel in earnest.
Credit to Zero Hedge
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Playing to be GOD......
Would you accept a transfusion of blood products from a chimpanzee or a gorilla? Or what about a pig? One person did back in 1667 when French physician Jean-Baptiste Denis successfully transfused blood from a lamb into 15 year-old human boy. This may surprise many people as most are aware that even humans are not universally transfusion-compatible. Instead, humans are divided into blood groups that determine who can receive blood from whom without suffering a severe immune reaction that can be fatal. That’s because our immune system senses molecules on the surface of red blood cells and reacts aggressively to certain surface molecules, or markers, in an individual whose on red blood cells don’t have the same kind.
But while there are literally hundreds of different surface markers that make red blood cells different between people, only a handful of markers act as strong antigens to the immune system. The main ones are the ABO and Rh antigens (the positive or negative seen after the more commonly known A, B, O types) and for people to receive blood products they must be appropriately ABO and Rh matched. It turns out, however, that the ABO and Rh blood groups are not limited just to human populations. They also apply to our close relatives in the animal kingdom, especially other primates. Indeed, Rh stands for rhesus, because it was identified on the red blood cells of rhesus monkeys before it was found on human red blood cells.
All of this means that a human can be ABO and Rh matched for blood products from a monkey, or even better, a great ape such as a gorilla or chimpanzee (who are closer to us on the evolutionary tree than monkeys). And, since the ABO and Rh antigens are the most critical factors to match to avoid fatal transfusion reactions, it means that xenotransplantation from an ape is feasible theoretically. But some hurdles may exist to making it a reality.
Drawbacks to ape blood and benefits of using pigs
Work with blood and non-human primates goes back to Karl Landsteiner, who not only co-discovered the rhesus factor in monkeys in 1937, but also discovered the ABO groups in 1900. The blood group commonality between humans and other animals thus is not a new revelation, but this raises question of why xenotransfusion was not seriously decades ago.
One reason is because, despite ABO and Rh commonality, there are minor differences between the blood of humans, apes, and other animals whose effects on transfusion would have to be understood completely. Humans also may still have some lingering superstitions about blood from non-humans that make xenotransfusion unpalatable. Also, when it comes to great apes, they are endangered. They’re not like cows and pigs that simply are bred in industrial quantities to serve humans. So, even while it might be no more trouble for an ape to donate blood than for a hen to lay eggs, the supply of ape blood would be fairly small anyway.
Thus, as we consider xenotransfusion pigs might actually be a more feasible option, and in fact that’s what’s happening. Xenotransfusion research currently focusses on pigs, not apes, and it’s not just because pigs are abundant. They’re blood actually is quite similar to human blood. The size of red blood cells is similar. So is the typical red blood cell life span, the hemoglobin content and structure, and other factors, plus pigs can be genetically modified to produce red blood cells that are equivalent to human type O negative. As noted earlier, that’s the universal donor blood, and this makes xenotransfusion sound very attractive, although, other ways to make O negative blood also beckon.
Credit to Geneticliteracyproject.org
In March, Saudi Arabia’s air campaign in Yemen will enter its second year.
Riyadh began flying combat missions last year in an effort to rollback the Iran-backed militiamen who drove Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile. The results of the strikes have been mixed. The Houthis were driven from Aden but the fight for Sana’a is far from over.
And while the Saudis and the Houthis battle it out, ISIS and al-Qaeda are doing what they do best: finding opportunities amid the chaos. Just today for instance, ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bomb that exploded outside of Hadi’s residence in Aden. Hadi was unharmed but six people were killed in the attack.
As you might recall, the Saudis have a rather checkered human rights record. Earlier this month, the kingdom carried out its largest mass execution in 25 years, killing 47 in what Riyadh pitched as a crackdown on “terrorists.”
That rather blatant disregard for human life has carried over into the air campaign in Yemen.
As we’ve documented extensively, Riyadh’s warplanes have "accidentally" hit everything from MSF hospitals to wedding parties and just last week, we brought you the following footage of what Yemen Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Nashwan Attab called a “heinous massacre” involving an ambulance and rescue workers.
Now, a 51-page report from a UN panel of experts on Yemen has revealed "widespread and systematic" attacks on civilian targets by Saudi planes.
The report (which was obtained by The Guardian) says the following:
“The panel documented that the coalition had conducted airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects, in violation of international humanitarian law, including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sana’a, the port in Hudaydah and domestic transit routes.”"The panel documented 119 coalition sorties relating to violations of international humanitarian law.”
And it gets worse:
“Many attacks involved multiple airstrikes on multiple civilian objects. Of the 119 sorties, the panel identified 146 targeted objects. The panel also documented three alleged cases of civilians fleeing residential bombings and being chased and shot at by helicopters.”
The coalition’s targeting of civilians through airstrikes, either by bombing residential neighbourhoods or by treating the entire cities of Sa’dah and Maran as military targets, is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. In certain cases, the panel found such violations to have been conducted in a widespread and systematic manner.”
“Alongside ground-led obstructions to humanitarian distribution, the panel documented 10 coalition airstrikes on transportation routes (both sea and air routes), four road supply routes and five storage facilities for holding food aid (including two vehicles carrying aid and three warehouses and facilities storing food), along with airstrikes on an Oxfam warehousestoring equipment for a water project funded by the European Union in Sana’a. The panel also documented three coalition attacks on local food and agricultural production sites.”
So let's see if we've got this straight. Over the course of 119 discrete sorties, Saudi Arabi bombed refugee camps, weddings, civilian cars, buses, people's homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, residential neighborhoods, an Oxfam warehouse, treated "entire cities as military targets," and chased after fleeing civilians with attack helicopters.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's laughably bad - it's just about the most egregious account of human rights abuses one could possibly imagine.
"Human rights groups and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn – who described the leaked report as disturbing – called for an immediate inquiry and a suspension of arms sales to Saudi pending its outcome," The Guardian notes, adding that "UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia totalled £2.95bn for the first nine months of 2015, and about £7bn since Cameron took office, including a contract for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets."
Of course it's not just Britain arming the Saudis.
In December, the US State Department approved $1.29 billion in arms sals to Riyadh including 13,000 precision guided weapons.
According to the kingdom, those weapons will help the Saudis avoid collateral damage. "We used precision bombs in the beginning, but the stocks dwindled and we got no resupply," NPR quotes a Saudi businessman with links to the royal family as saying. "We know we have a problem, but we must prosecute the war."
"You can imagine them saying to everybody that is criticizing them, 'Look, if we have better weapons, there will be less casualties,' " Ford M. Fraker, president of the Middle East Policy Council and a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said last month. "I think that is probably correct, but I think the whole issue of [collateral damage] is not one you are going to eradicate."
No it isn't. Especially not when the Saudis are shooting at civilians.
Credit to Zeo Hedge
Friday, January 29, 2016
If there is one thing that Americans can agree on these days, it is the fact that most of us don’t like the government. CBS News has just released an article entitled “Americans hate the U.S. government more than ever“, and an average of recent surveys calculated by Real Clear Politicsfound that 63 percent of all Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction and only 28 percent of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction. In just a few days the first real ballots of the 2016 election will be cast in Iowa, and up to this point the big story of this cycle has been the rise of “outsider” candidates that many of the pundits had assumed would never have a legitimate chance. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders have all been beneficiaries of the overwhelming disgust that the American people feel regarding what has been going on in Washington.
And it isn’t just Barack Obama or members of Congress that Americans are disgusted with. According to the CBS News article that I referenced above, our satisfaction with various federal agencies has fallen to an eight year low…
A handful of industries are those “love to hate” types of businesses, such as cable-television companies and Internet service providers.The federal government has joined the ranks of the bottom-of-the-barrel industries, according to a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Americans’ satisfaction level in dealing with federal agencies –everything from Treasury to Homeland Security — has fallen for a third consecutive year, reaching an eight-year low.
So if we are all so fed up with the way that things are running, it should be easy to fix right?
Unfortunately, things are not so simple.
In America today, we are more divided as a nation than ever. If you ask 100 different people how we should fix this country, you are going to get 100 very different answers. We no longer have a single shared set of values or principles that unites us, and therefore it is going to be nearly impossible for us to come together on specific solutions.
You would think that the principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution should be able to unite us, but sadly those days are long gone. In fact, the word “constitutionalist” has become almost synonymous with “terrorist” in our nation. If you go around calling yourself a “constitutionalist” in America today, there is a good chance that you will be dismissed as a radical right-wing wacko that probably needs to be locked up.
The increasing division in our nation can be seen very clearly during this election season.
On the left, an admitted socialist is generating the most enthusiasm of any of the candidates. Among many Democrats today, Hillary Clinton is simply “not liberal enough” and no longer represents their values.On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of Republican voters are gravitating toward either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Both of those candidates represent a complete break from how establishment Republicans have been doing things in recent years.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am certainly not suggesting that we need to meet in the middle. My point is that there is absolutely no national consensus about what we should do. On the far left, they want to take us into full-blown socialism. Those that support Donald Trump or Ted Cruz want to take us in a more conservative direction. But even among Republicans there are vast disagreements about how to fix this country. Establishment Republicans greatly dislike both Trump and Cruz, and they are quite determined to do whatever it takes to keep either of them from getting the nomination. The elite have grown very accustomed to anointing the nominee from each party every four years, and so the popularity of Trump and Cruz is making them quite uneasy this time around. The following comes from the New York Times…
The members of the party establishment are growing impatient as they watch Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz dominate the field heading into the Iowa caucuses next Monday and the New Hampshire primary about a week later.The party elders had hoped that one of their preferred candidates, such as Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, would be rising above the others by now and becoming a contender to rally around.
The global elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland are also greatly displeased with Trump. Just check out some of the words that they are using to describe him…
“Unbelievable“, “embarrassing” even “dangerous” are some of the words the financial elite gathered at the World Economic Forum conference in the Swiss resort of Davos have been using to describe U.S. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.Although some said they still expected his campaign to founder before his party picks its nominee for the November election many said it was no longer unthinkable that he could be the Republican candidate.
The truth is that the Republican Party represents somewhere less than half the population in the United States, and today it is at war with itself. Supporters of Trump have a significantly different vision of the future than supporters of Cruz, and the establishment wing wants nothing to do with either candidate.
A lot of people seem to assume that since Trump is leading in the polls that he will almost certainly get the nomination.
That is not exactly a safe bet.
It is my contention that the establishment will pull out every trick in the book to keep either him or Cruz from getting the nomination. And in order to lock up the nomination before the Republican convention, a candidate will need to have secured slightly more than 60 percent of all of the delegates during the caucuses and the primaries.
The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles in which I discussed the difficult delegate math that the Republican candidates are facing this time around…
It is going to be much more difficult for Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination than most people think. In order to win the nomination, a candidate must secure at least 1,237 of the 2,472 delegates that are up for grabs. But not all of them will be won during the state-by-state series of caucuses and primaries that will take place during the first half of 2016. Of the total of 2,472 Republican delegates, 437 of them are unpledged delegates – and 168 of those are members of the Republican National Committee. And unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere, you already know that the Republican National Committee is not a fan of Donald Trump. In order to win the Republican nomination without any of the unpledged delegates, Trump would need to win 60.78 percent of the delegates that are up for grabs during the caucuses and primaries. And considering that his poll support is hovering around 30 percent right now, that is a very tall order.In the past, it was easier for a front-runner to pile up delegates in “winner take all” states, but for this election cycle the Republicans have changed quite a few things. In 2016, all states that hold caucuses or primaries before March 15th must award their delegates proportionally. So when Trump wins any of those early states, he won’t receive all of the delegates. Instead, he will just get a portion of them based on the percentage of the vote that he received.In 2016, more delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis by the Republicans than ever before, and with such a crowded field that makes it quite likely that no candidate will have secured enough delegates for the nomination by the time the Republican convention rolls around.
If no candidate has more than 60 percent of the delegates by the end of the process, then it is quite likely that we will see the first true “brokered convention” in decades.
If we do see a “brokered convention”, that would almost surely result in an establishment candidate coming away with the nomination. That list of names would include Bush, Rubio, Christie and Kasich.
And if by some incredible miracle either Trump or Cruz does get the nomination, the elite will move heaven and earth to make sure that Hillary Clinton ends up in the White House.
For decades, it has seemed like nothing ever really changes no matter which political party is in power, and that is exactly how the elite like it.
Our two major political parties are really just two sides of the same coin, and they are both leading this nation right down the toilet.
Credit to Zero Hedge
As stocks continue to crash, you can blame the Federal Reserve, because the Fed is more responsible for creating the current financial bubble that we are living in than anyone else. When the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor and injected lots of hot money into the financial markets during their quantitative easing programs, this pushed stock prices to wildly artificial levels. The only way that it would have been possible to keep stock prices at those wildly artificial levels would have been to keep interest rates ultra-low and to keep recklessly creating lots of new money. But now the Federal Reserve has ended quantitative easing and has embarked on a program of very slowly raising interest rates. This is going to have very severe consequences for the markets, but Janet Yellen doesn’t seem to care.
There is a reason why the financial world hangs on every single word that is issued by the Fed. That is because the massively inflated stock prices that we see today were a creation of the Fed and are completely dependent on the Fed for their continued existence.
Right now, stock prices are still 30 to 40 percent above what the economic fundamentals say that they should be based on historical averages. And if we are now plunging into a very deep recession as I contend, stock prices should probably fall by a total of more than 50 percent from where they are now.
The only way that stock prices could have ever gotten this disconnected from economic reality is with the help of the Federal Reserve. And since the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the entire planet, the actions of the Fed over the past few years have created stock market bubbles all over the globe.
But the only way to keep the party going is to keep the hot money flowing. Unfortunately for investors, Janet Yellen and her friends at the Fed have chosen to go the other direction. Not only has quantitative easing ended, but the Fed has also decided to slowly raise interest rates. The Fed left rates unchanged on Wednesday, but we were told that we are probably still on schedule for another rate hike in March.
So how did the markets respond to the Fed?
Well, after attempting to go green for much of the day, the Dow started plunging very rapidly and ended up down 222 points.
The markets understand the reality of what they are now facing. They know that stock prices are artificially high and that if the Fed keeps tightening that it is inevitable that they will fall back to earth.
In a true free market system, stock prices would be far, far lower than they are right now. Everyone knows this – including Jim Cramer. Just check out what he told CNBC viewers earlier today…
Jim Cramer was tempted to resurface his “they know nothing” rant after hearing the Fed speak on Wednesday. He was hoping that a few boxes on his market bottom checklist might be checked off, but it seems that the bear market has not yet run its course.“The Fed’s wishy-washy statement on interest rates today left stocks sinking back into oblivion after a nice rally yesterday,” the “Mad Money” host said.
Without artificial help from the Fed, stocks will most definitely continue to sink into oblivion.
That is because these current stock prices are not based on anything real.
And so as this new financial crisis continues to unfold, the magnitude of the crash is going to be much worse than it otherwise would have been.
It has often been said that the higher you go the farther you have to fall. Because the Federal Reserve has pumped up stock prices to ridiculously high levels, that just means that the pain on the way down is going to be that much worse.
It is also important to remember that stocks tend to fall much more rapidly than they rise. And when we see a giant crash in the financial markets, that creates a tremendous amount of fear and panic. The last time there was great fear and panic for an extended period of time was during the crisis of 2008 and 2009, and this created a tremendous credit crunch.
During a credit crunch, financial institutions because very hesitant to lend to one another or to anyone else. And since our economy is extremely dependent on the flow of credit, economic activity slows down dramatically.
As this current financial crisis escalates, you are going to notice certain things begin to happen. If you own a business or you work at a business, you may start to notice that fewer people are coming in, and those people that do come in are going have less money to spend.
As economic activity slows, employers will be forced to lay off workers, and many businesses will shut down completely. And since 63 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, many will suddenly find themselves unable to meet their monthly expenses. Foreclosures will skyrocket, and large numbers of people will go from living a comfortable middle class lifestyle to being essentially out on the street very, very rapidly.
At this point, many experts believe that the economic outlook for the coming months is quite grim. For example, just consider what Marc Faber is saying…
It won’t come as a surprise to market watchers that “Dr. Doom” Marc Faber isn’t getting any more cheerful.But the noted bear at least found a sense of humor on Wednesday into which he could channel his bleakness.The publisher of the “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report” told attendees at the annual “Inside ETFs” conference that the medium-term economic outlook has become “so depressing” that he may as well fill a newly installed pool with beer instead of water.
If the Federal Reserve had left interest rates at more reasonable levels and had never done any quantitative easing, we would have been forced to address our fundamental economic problems more honestly and stock prices would be far, far lower today.
But now that the Fed has created this giant artificial financial bubble, the coming crash is going to be much worse than it otherwise would have been. And the tremendous amount of panic that this crash will cause will paralyze much of the economy and will ultimately lead to a far deeper economic downturn than we witnessed last time around.
Once the Fed started wildly injecting money into the system, they had no other choice but to keep on doing it.
By removing the artificial support that they had been giving to the financial markets, they are making a huge mistake, and they are setting the stage for an economic tragedy that will affect the lives of every man, woman and child in America.
Credit to Economic Collapse