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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Russia, China and India Building Multipolar World

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The meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China in Moscow suggests continuing rapprochement between the three countries. However this union seems to agitate American and Japanese neo-conservatives, according to the former Chinese diplomat Wang Yusheng.


Russia-China Military Cooperation Considerably Grows in Recent YearsHowever, according to the diplomat these fears are abnormal and baseless because in reality the strategic partnership of Moscow, Delhi and Beijing will only benefit the multipolar world; online publication Global Times reported the diplomat as saying.

The strategic partnership between these three countries was first brought to light back in 1998 by then Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. However, many did not share his point of view, considered it impossible and did not give it much importance.

However, his idea played quite an important role and gradually, meeting by meeting, these ties have evolved and expanded.

For many years now, the whole world is looking favorably on the partnership between Russia, India and China, which reinforces a multipolar system and contributes to stability in the region and around the world, the Global Times reported.

Russia, India and China are the largest countries in the world in terms of population and GDP. Russia inherited the power of the Soviet Union and has not lost its status as a great superpower; it is currently successfully recovering its position in the world.

Credit to Sputnik
Read more: http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160420/1038330821/russia-asia-partnership.html#ixzz46NFpaveb

Intel Fires A Massive 12,000 Workers

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There were some rumors reported late last week that the world's biggest chip maker was about to fire a major portion of its workforce. Moments ago the company confirmed these rumors, when it reported that it was firing a whopping 11% of its entire workforce, laying off a massive 12,000 workers.
Intel Corporation today announced a restructuring initiative to accelerate its evolution from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices. Intel will intensify its focus in high-growth areas where it is positioned for long-term leadership, customer value and growth, while making the company more efficient and profitable. The data center and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses are Intel’s primary growth engines, with memory and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) accelerating these opportunities - fueling a virtuous cycle of growth for the company. These growth businesses delivered $2.2 billion in revenue growth last year, and made up 40 percent of revenue and the majority of operating profit, which largely offset the decline in the PC market segment. 

The restructuring initiative was outlined in an e-mail from Intel CEO Brian Krzanich to Intel employees. 

“Our results over the last year demonstrate a strategy that is working and a solid foundation for growth,” said Krzanich. “The opportunity now is to accelerate this momentum and build on our strengths. 

These actions drive long-term change to further establish Intel as the leader for the smart, connected world,” he added. “I am confident that we’ll emerge as a more productive company with broader reach and sharper execution. 

These changes will result in the reduction of up to 12,000 positions globally -- approximately 11 percent of employees -- by mid-2017 through site consolidations worldwide, a combination of voluntary and involuntary departures, and a re-evaluation of programsThe majority of these actions will be communicated to affected employees over the next 60 days with some actions spanning in to 2017. Intel expects the program to deliver $750 million in savings this year and annual run rate savings of $1.4 billion by mid-2017. The company will record a one-time charge of approximately $1.2 billion in the second quarter.

Credit to Zero Hedge

Obama Arrives In Saudi Arabia To "Reassure" His Close Ally That Nothing Has Changed

President Obama with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef,
center, and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in May 2015

As the WSJ reports, Obama arrived today in the Saudi kingdom for a brief trip "meant to provide reassurances to Gulf allies and to bolster his own foreign-policy legacy."

With just nine months left in office, Mr. Obama is aiming to steady what have become rocky relationships in the region and to tackle issues ranging from the fight against Islamic State to addressing Iranian aggression, along with easing tensions between Tehran and Saudi Arabia. But in Riyadh, the president will find frustrated allies who already have begun to look ahead to the next administration.

Obama plans to spend about 28 hours in the Saudi capital, holding talks with King Salman Wednesday afternoon and attending a Thursday summit hosted by leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. This trip, perhaps the last to Riyadh during Mr. Obama’s presidency, serves as a bookend for an administration that once sought a “new beginning” for the U.S. and the Islamic world, but now is confronting the prospect of a tense conclusion to this chapter.

Of course, the main reason for the simmering Saudi tensions has been the thawing of US relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia's self-proclaimed biggest regional threat.

Meanwhile, from the NYT, here are some pointers on what Obama should not do during his visit: sell even more weapons to the belligerent kingdom in exchange for goodwill that only lasts as long as the status quo is not threatened.

Credit to Zero Hedge

Saudi Arabia is a Cancer on the World


Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb Returns to Jerusalem After Millennia

“Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7 (The Israel Bible™)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban-kohanim.jpg

Kohanim stand by a replica of the Temple altar as offerings burn. (United Mikdash Movements)

One of the highlights of the Jewish year, the Passover offering, is making a comeback. On Monday, a reenactment presented the Biblical commandment in its full glory, which is fortunate since many rabbis believe that neglecting this important mitzvah (Torah commandment), even in the absence of a Temple, has grave consequences for Israel.

Just four days before Passover, the day the Bible commands Israel to bring a lamb to the Temple to be sacrificed, a group of Kohanim (members of the Jewish priestly class) sacrificed a lamb on Mount Scopus overlooking the site of the Temple. The Kohanim wore ritual clothes conforming to Biblical requirements and were accompanied by music played on silver instruments specially made to serve in the Third Temple.

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/koran-trumpet1024x859.jpg

Kohanim blow silver trumpets made according to Biblical specifications. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

The reenactment included all the steps required for the korban pesach, the Passover Sacrifice: checking the animal for blemishes, slaughtering it, collecting its blood and bringing it to the corner of a model altar, skinning the animal and separating its inner parts, and roasting it whole in a special Passover oven.

All of the utensils used for the sacrifice were prepared by the Temple Institute, which organized the event along with United Mikdash Movements, an organization composed of several Temple movements that promote freedom of worship for all nations, and for Jews in particular on the Temple Mount.

Breaking Israel News spoke to Arnon Segal, who organized the reenactment for the last five years.

“Every year there are more people,” Segal said. “We keep changing venues to accommodate the growing crowds. This year hundreds of people, more than ever before, arrived from all over Israel.”

The initiative for the project comes from the belief that even today, lacking a Temple, Jews are required to sacrifice the Passover lamb. The imperative comes from the grave implications for not doing so. Two positive commandments are specifically mentioned as bringing a punishment called karet if they are omitted: brit milah (circumcision) and korban pesach. Opinions vary as to the precise nature of Karet, ranging from premature death to being cut off from heaven. Since it is the only punishment divinely implemented, Karet is considered the most severe of all judgements. For this reason, the desire to perform the korban pesach is greater than for any other aspect of the Temple service.

Breaking Israel News asked Rabbi Hillel Weiss, secretary of the Nascent Sanhedrin, if the mitzvah of korban pesach is incumbent upon the Jews today by Jewish law, despite the lack of a Temple or an altar.

“Of course. There isn’t even a question,” Rabbi Weiss answered. “There is nothing in Jewish law that prevents us from performing this sacrifice. The only obstacle is the government that will not allow the Jews to do this great mitzvah, so the sin is on them, and not, God forbid, on the Jewish people.”

The Sanhedrin established a committee in 2004 concerning the korban pesach to work in cooperation with all religious, legal, and administrative authorities. The committee has attempted several times to obtain the government’s permission. Legal documents were sent to the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court, and the Chief of Police. The Prime Minister did not respond. The Supreme Court appeared to uphold the right to perform the sacrifice, but denied it on grounds of security. This answer was reiterated by the Chief of Police.

Indeed, the korban pesach is not dependent on the presence of a Temple and continued long after the Second Temple was destroyed. Jewish sage Rabban Gamliel commanded his servant to roast the korban pesach 100 years after the destruction of the Temple. Also, the Byzantine Caesar Yostaninos issued an edict forbidding the Jews from sacrificing the korban pesach as late as the sixth century CE, indicating the Jews were still doing so over 500 years after the destruction of the Temple.

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban-sheep-1024x748.jpg
The sheep selected for the korban pesach. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

One reason given for preventing the sacrifice today is ritual impurity. All Jews are considered ritually impure today since we lack the ashes of the red heifer used to purify from contact with dead. However, the Rambam, a preeminent medieval Sephardic Jewish scholar, ruled that ritual impurity does not prevent bringing a time-bound public sacrifice, such as the korban pesach, and in the case where most of Israel is impure, the Passover sacrifice can be brought nonetheless.

The lack of an altar is an obstacle, but recent developments in technology can help in a way the forefathers could never have imagined. It was forbidden to use iron to quarry stones for the altar (Exodus 20:25), since iron is used for weapons and the Temple was the source of life, not death. Today, high-pressure streams of water are routinely used to quarry stones and could be used to recreate the altar.

Rabbi Yehudah Glick, Temple Mount Heritage Foundation founder, explained to Breaking Israel News the special significance of the Passover sacrifice for the Nation of Israel today.

“Korban pesach was the first mitzvah for the Jews as soon as they became a nation, accepting Hashem as God, allowing us to receive his Torah. The renewal of this special korban today is a clear expression that we are acknowledging that this is not just a physical land, but that we are accepting the mission to bring light unto the nations.”

Warning: Photos show an animal sacrifice.

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban1-1024x415.jpg
View overlooking Mt. Moriah, the location of the Temple Mount. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban2-1024x742.jpgAn illustration of the Temple. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban3-1024x458.jpgThe altar replica. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban4-1024x678.jpg

Handlers hurry to catch the paschal lamb before it escapes. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban5-1024x752.jpg
A musician plays a traditional Biblical instrument, the harp. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban6-1024x859.jpg

The lamb is checked before the sacrifice to ensure that there are no blemishes on the animal. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban8-1024x683.jpg

Shochets (ritual slaughterers) prepare to make the korban. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban9-1024x682.jpg

The Paschal Lamb is sacrificed. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban11-1024x681.jpg

The Paschal Lamb is skinned and its organs removed. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban10-1024x645.jpg
Kohanim stand by the altar as the offerings burn. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/korban14-1024x683.jpg

The kohanim make the “Priestly blessing”. (Courtesy, United Mikdash Movements)

Credit to breakingisraelnews.com
Read more at http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/66076/passover-sacrifice-makes-comeback-overlooking-temple-mount-photos/#LPMRj5GOuqpl2TgO.99

Corporations Are Defaulting On Their Debts Like It’s 2008 All Over Again

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The Dow closed above 18,000 on Monday for the first time since July.  Isn’t that great news?  I truly wish that it was.  If the Dow actually reflected economic reality, I could stop writing about “economic collapse” and start blogging about cats or football.  Unfortunately, the stock market and the economy are moving in two completely different directions right now.  Even as stock prices soar, big corporations are defaulting on their debts at a level that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  In fact, this wave of debt defaults have become so dramatic that even USA Today is reporting on it
Get ready to step over some landmines, investors. The number of companies defaulting on their debt is hitting levels not seen since the financial crisis, and it’s not just a problem for bondholders.
So far this year, 46 companies have defaulted on their debt, the highest level since 2009, according to S&P Ratings Services. Five companies defaulted this week, based on the latest data available from S&P Ratings Services. That includes New Jersey-based specialty chemical company Vertellus Specialties and Ohio-based iron ore producer Cliffs Natural. Of the world’s defaults this year, 37 are of companies based in the U.S.
Meanwhile, coal producer Peabody Energy (BTU) and surfwear seller Pacific Sunwear (PSUN) this week filed plans for bankruptcy protection. Shares of Peabody have dropped 97% over the past year to $2 a share and Pacific Sunwear stock is off 98% to 4 cents a share.
A lot of big companies in this country have fallen on hard times, and it looks like bankruptcy attorneys are going to be absolutely swamped with work for the foreseeable future.
So why are stock prices soaring right now?  After all, it doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever.
And it isn’t just a few bad apples that we are talking about.  All across the spectrum, corporate revenues and corporate earnings are down.  At this point, earnings for companies on the S&P 500 have plunged a total of 18.5 percent from their peak in late 2014, and it is being projected that corporate earnings overall will be down 8.5 percent for the first quarter of 2016 compared to one year ago.
As earnings decline, a lot of big companies are getting into trouble with debt, and we have already seen a very large number of corporate debt downgrades.  In recent interviews, I have been bringing up the fact that the average rating on U.S. corporate debt has now fallen to “BB”, which is already lower than it was at any point during the last financial crisis.
A lot of people don’t seem to believe me when I share that fact, but it is absolutely true.
One of the big reasons why corporate debt is being downgraded is because a lot of these big companies have been going into enormous amounts of debt in order to buy back their own stock.  The following comes from Wolf Richter
Downgrades ascribed to “shareholder compensation,” as Moody’s calls share buybacks and dividends, have been soaring, according to John Lonski, Chief Economist at Moody’s Capital Markets Research. The moving 12-month sum of Moody’s credit rating downgrades of US companies, jumped from 32 in March 2015, to 48 in December 2015, and to 61 in March 2016, nearly doubling within a year.
The last time the number of downgrades attributed to financial engineering reached 61 was in early 2007. It would hit its peak of 79 in mid- 2007, a few months before the beginning of the Great Recession in Q4 2007. At the time, stocks were on the verge of commencing their epic crash.
When corporations go into the market and buy back their own stock, they are slowly cannibalizing themselves.  But we have seen these stock buybacks soar to record levels for a couple of reasons.  Number one, big investors want to see stock prices go up, and so big investors tend to really like these stock buybacks and will generally support corporate executives that wish to engage in doing this.  Number two, if you are a greedy corporate executive that is heavily compensated by stock options, you very much want to see the stock price go up as well.
So the name of the game is greed, and stock buybacks have been fueling much of the rise in U.S. stock prices that we have been seeing recently.
However, the truth is that nothing in the financial world lasts forever, and this irrational bubble will ultimately come to an end as well.
Earlier today, I am across an article that included a comment from Michael Hartnett of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  He believes that there are a lot of parallels between what is happening today and the period of time that immediately preceded the bursting of the dotcom bubble
Back then, as could be the case today, a bull market & a US-led economic recovery was rudely interrupted by a crisis in Emerging Markets. The crisis threatened to hurt Main Street via Wall Street (the Nasdaq fell 33% between Jul-Oct 1998, when [Long-Term Capital Management] went under). Policy makers panicked and monetary policy was eased (with hindsight unnecessarily). Fresh liquidity combined with apocalyptic investor sentiment very quickly morphed into a violent but narrow equity bull market/bubble in 1998/99, one which ultimately took valuations & interest rates sharply higher to levels that eventually caused a “pop”.
Like Hartnett, I definitely believe that a major “pop” is on the way, although I would like for it to be delayed for as long as possible.
Someday we will look back on these times with utter amazement.  It has been absolutely incredible how the financial markets have been able to defy economic reality for so long.
But they can’t do it forever, and according to a brand new CNN survey Americans are becoming increasingly pessimistic about where the real economy is heading…
In a new CNNMoney/E*Trade survey of Americans who have at least $10,000 in an online trading account, over half (52%) gave the U.S. economy as a “C” grade. Another 15% rated the economy a “D” or “F.”
This gloom persists despite the fact that the stock market is on the upswing again. The Dow topped 18,000 Monday for the first time since July 2015.
If some Americans think that the U.S. economy deserves a “D” or an “F” grade right now, just wait until they see what is in our immediate future.
Personally, I give our economy an “A” for being able to maintain our unsustainable debt-fueled standard of living for as long as it has.  Somehow we have managed to consume far more than we produce for decades, and the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Of course we are very much living on borrowed time at this point, but I truly hope that the bubble economy can keep going for at least a little while longer, because nobody should want to see what is coming afterwards.

Credit to Economic Collapse

We Are Living In an Environment Where Nothing Is Real

Fantala a strong Category 5 just north of Madagascar.

Powerful Tropical Cyclone Fantala was churning in the western Indian Ocean Monday evening (U.S. time) with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, according to the U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center, making it equivalent in strength to a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Fantala has since weakened as it turns back southeast well off the north coast of Madagascar. The core of Fantala's strongest winds are expected to stay north of Madagascar as the cyclone takes a weird southeast, then west-northwest path, though northern parts of the island could see bands of rain and gusty winds early this week.
This collection of satellite images illustrates the power of Fantala as a strong Category 4 and Category 5 just north of Madagascar.
Our first image from NOAA shows Fantala as a Category 5 Monday morning (U.S. time).

Credit to weather.com

China Flight Tests New Multiple-Warhead Missile

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China conducted another flight test of its newest and longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile last week amid growing tensions with the United States over the South China Sea.

Pentagon officials told the Free Beacon the flight test of the new road-mobile DF-41 missile took place Tuesday with two multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, that were monitored in flight by U.S. military satellites and other regional sensors.

Officials did not say where the test took place. Past DF-41 launches were carried out from the Wuzhai Missile and Space Test Center in central China.

The latest flight test followed an earlier, rail-based canister ejection test of a DF-41 on Dec. 5.

U.S. Strategic Command commander Adm. Cecil Haney said Jan. 22 that China’s multiple warhead missiles are part of a significant investment in both nuclear and conventional forces.

“China is re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads,” Haney said in a speech.

Credit to freebeacon.com


As Olympics Looms, Governor Warns Rio Is "Close To Social Collapse"

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With feces-infested waterways, Zika-carrying mosquitoes, a collapsing economy, and political corruption that runs from top to bottom, Brazil is in trouble. All that excludes now impeached president Dilma Rousseff who refuses to step down, which has cast the country in political limbo. 
But just a few short weeks ahead of The Olympics, the people are revolting as Sao Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin warns "Rio de Janeiro is close to social collapse" after state payments to retirees have not been made. Of course, none of this matters as long as Ibovespa is soaring and Real is strengthening:
To which Governor Alckmin adds:
Which does not look like being solved any time soon:

Credit to Zero Hedge