Gold & Silver Daily

Ed's Critical Reads

Aug 27, 2014

Investor Net Worth Drops to New All-Time Low, NYSE Reveals

One can debate whether or not margin debt as reported by the NYSE has any relevance in a world in which the retail investor is long gone, and where the marginal buyer are hedge funds (and primary dealers who use excess reserves as collateral for marginable derivatives and futures) who fund themselves using far more arcane "shadow" repo conduits as we have explained previously, it is indisputable that the leverage statistics disclosed monthly by New York Stock Exchange provide a useful glimpse into how the broader market is obtaining "dry powder" to keep BTFATH.

And while in July margin debt did dip modestly from near all time highs hit back in June when total margin debt was virtually tied with the previous record, at $464 billion, it was that other metric tracked by the NYSE, namely Investor Net Worth, calculated by subtracting margin debt from the notional represented in free credit cash accounts and credit balances in margin accounts, that was the notable highlight in the July report: at a negative $182.1 billion, a decline of $6.3 billion from the prior month, investor Net Worth has never been lower.

This happens to be a deficit which is more than twice as large as the net worth shortfall reached during the last market bubble, which hit ($79) billion, peaking during the quant freakout in the summer of 2007 and subsequently surging to a record high of $184.6 billion in August 2008, as repo desks closed all margin positions with virtually any and every counterparty, leaving everyone in a position of record high "net worth."

This short, but very interesting article, with a 'must see' chart, appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 3:25 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---and today's first story is courtesy of reader M.A.

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Sprott Money's "Ask the Expert" interviews Jeff Berwick

This 39:21 minute audio interview conducted by Geoff Rutherford---along with a transcript---was posted on the sprottmoney.com Internet site yesterday.

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It Begins: Council On Foreign Relations Proposes That "Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly"

Moments ago a stunning article appearing in the "Foreign Affairs" publication of the influential and policy-setting Council of Foreign Relations, titled "Print Less but Transfer More: Why Central Banks Should Give Money Directly to the People." 

In it we read the now conventional admission of failure by Keynesians, who however, unwilling to actually admit they have been wrong, urge the even more conventional solution: do more of the same that has lead to the current financial cataclysm, only in this case the authors advocate no longer pretending that the traditional monetary channels work but to, literally, para-drop money. To wit:

To some extent, low inflation reflects intense competition in an increasingly globalized economy. But it also occurs when people and businesses are too hesitant to spend their money, which keeps unemployment high and wage growth low. In the eurozone, inflation has recently dropped perilously close to zero. And some countries, such as Portugal and Spain, may already be experiencing deflation. At best, the current policies are not working; at worst, they will lead to further instability and prolonged stagnation.

Governments must do better. Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly. In practice, this policy could take the form of giving central banks the ability to hand their countries’ tax-paying households a certain amount of money. The government could distribute cash equally to all households or, even better, aim for the bottom 80 percent of households in terms of income. Targeting those who earn the least would have two primary benefits. For one thing, lower-income households are more prone to consume, so they would provide a greater boost to spending. For another, the policy would offset rising income inequality.

This is the first of two absolutely positively must reads today---and this one is the second contribution of the day from reader M.A.

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James Grant on Bubbles, Bargains---and Everything in Between

The Daily Reckoning presents… Steve Forbes' Intelligent Investing with Jim Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer

Forbes: Tell us, what is going on? We’ve had the worst recovery from a sharp downturn in U.S. history. Yet the monetary base has exploded far in excess of what it did in the ’70s and yet we haven’t had an explosion, at least in the Consumer Price Index. Gold is down from its highs of three years ago. Stocks are at a record high. What you call the taper tantrum, now the markets are in seeming calm about that. So what in the world is happening?

Grant: Well, I think first and foremost the patient is over-medicated. That is, the economic patient. Stimulus, by the bottle full, by the prescription fill, gradually and by degree are (and I guess not so gradually) the Federal Reserve has moved to substitute price administration for price discovery. And it seems to me that the Fed’s kind of full-court pressed (to switch metaphors) on financial markets and pricing thereof has induced a deep complacency with respect to financial assets and has also introduced a sharp degree of optimism or what we might call even inflation in the financial markets.

I certainly can’t explain why, to date, no such inflation has been visible or very little has been visible in the consumer realm. But you know one would almost expect that in this day and age of miraculous digital enhancements to everything we do and the related improvements and the efficiency of production that prices would, in the absence of these monetary insertions, actually fall, or at least dwindle a little bit. So I suppose that a little bit of inflation is itself an anomaly one ought to have seen, kind of a dividend for the working guy in the shape of low and everyday lower prices.

The video interview runs for 34:26 minutes---and there's a transcript as well.  It was posted on the dailyreckoning.com Internet site on Monday---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for sending it our way.

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The Daily Reckoning: One World, One Bank, One Currency

The government is very good at making things overly complicated for the purpose of obscuring what’s really going on from the public,” observed hedge fund manager Erik Townsend during our interview in May.

He was making a point about the 2008 bailouts. The Federal Reserve played a leading role, applying trillions in paper-clip and rubber-band solutions. The Fed’s balance sheet swelled from $900 billion in September 2008 to $4.4 trillion as we go to press.

Luckily for you, our friend Jim Rickards is just as good at elucidating the muddled world of finance as the government is at obscuring them.

“Since Federal Reserve resources were barely able to prevent complete collapse in 2008,” Jim writes in his recent New York Times best-seller, The Death of Money, “it should be expected that an even larger collapse will overwhelm the Fed’s balance sheet.”

Simply put, next time, printing another $3 trillion-plus won’t be politically feasible. “The specter of the sovereign debt crisis suggests the urgency for new liquidity sources, bigger than those that central banks can provide, the next time a liquidity crisis strikes. The logic leads quickly from one world to one bank to one currency for the planet.”

This interview/commentary by Jim Rickards was done by The Daily Reckoning's Addison Wiggin---and it was posted on their website a week ago today.  I thank Carl Lindfors for sharing this item with us.

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Lars Schall interviews Ambrose Evans-Pritchard---Part 1

This fascinating video interview runs for 29:05 minutes---and it was posted on the goldswitzerland.com Internet site yesterday.  Even though I've been posting his columns from The Telegraph for almost a decade, it's the first time I've ever seen him "in the flesh" so to speak, or even heard what his voice sounded like.

I've just watched the first bit---and will watch the rest after I get out of bed later this morning.  From what I've heard so far, it's definitely worth watching.

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Scottish separatist wins TV debate ahead of referendum

Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond on Monday (25 August) was seen as the winner of a final TV debate before a referendum which could lead to the creation of a new EU member state.

The BBC debate, spiced up by heckling from the audience, saw Salmond continuously interrupting and contradicting Alistair Darling, a former British minister who is head of the "Better Together" campaign to keep Scotland in the U.K.

"If we are Better Together, why are we not better together already?" an audience member shouted at one point.

A snap poll by ICM Research found that 71 percent of viewers said Salmond had won the debate, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. Darling, the winner of the previous TV debate, only convinced 29 percent of the polled viewers.

This article appeared on the euobserver.com Internet site at 9:30 a.m. Europe time on Tuesday---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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French government reshuffle expels dissident ministers

France's prime minister reshuffled his Cabinet on Tuesday to silence ministers who had openly criticized Socialist President Francois Hollande's economic policies as he tries to pull the nation out of stagnation and steer it toward growth.

Emmanuel Macron, who had earlier served as top adviser in charge of the economy, took over the Economy Ministry, replacing Arnaud Montebourg, who had publicly railed against government policies as being too austere and unjust to the French.

Macron, a 36-year-old former banker who advised Hollande until June 2014, is known for his pro-business stance and is sure to send a positive signal to the European Union, which is pressuring France to get its finances in order.

Education Minister Benoit Hamon and Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti, who supported Montebourg in his criticism, also lost their jobs.

This AP story, filed from Paris, showed up on their website at 4:10 p.m. EDT on Tuesday---and it's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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German business confidence shattered, lowest in 13 months

Business confidence in Germany, which has led the E.U. economic revival over the last year, declined for a fourth month in August, which further clouded prospects of a broader recovery across the E.U.

Germany’s Ifo Business Climate Index in manufacturing, which looks at the confidence of the country’s 7,000 firms, fell to 106.3 in August from 108 in July.

It’s the lowest figure since last July, marking the longest successive monthly decline since 2012, the report said.

Monday’s figures come after frustrating economic data for the second quarter. It showed Europe’s biggest economy contracted 0.2 percent during the period, after it grew 0.7 percent in the first quarter. Much of the unexpected drop is attributed to the effects of the crisis in Ukraine that has led to a tough 'sanctions war.' Even after the disappointing second quarter, Germany believes it will achieve 1.8 percent growth this year. By contrast, the UK, which is not part of the euro currency zone, showed its strongest quarterly economic growth in 6 years, with 0.8 percent in the second quarter.

This article appeared on the Russia Today website at 3:01 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon, which was 7:01 a.m. EDT.  It's another offering courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Europe Does Not Expect Ukraine to Halt Russian Gas Transit – E.U. Energy Chief

The European Union is not concerned by the possibility of Kiev halting Russian gas transit via Ukraine, the vice-president of the European Commission responsible for energy, Gunther Oettinger, said in Minsk Tuesday.

There is no actual concern,” he said on the sidelines of the Customs Union-Ukraine-EU meeting in the Belarusian capital.

Last month, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill allowing to impose restrictive measures on Russia, including the possibility of halting transit of Russian oil and gas via the territory of Ukraine.

This RIA Novosti news item, filed from Minsk, put in an appearance on their Internet site at 11:28 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday night---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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Russia, Ukraine, E.U. Agree to Continue Three-Party Talks on Gas – Russian Energy Minister

Russia, Ukraine and the European Union agreed to continue the three-party talks on gas issues that stalled this summer, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday.

The three-party consultations continued from mid-April to June, but produced no result. Kiev insisted on a sharp reduction in the gas price refusing otherwise to pay its debt that had reached at the moment $4.5 billion. Russia later offered a discount, which however, failed to satisfy Kiev’s demands. After that the Russian side announced it would continue negotiation only after Kiev cleared its debt. On June 16, Gazprom introduced a prepayment system for gas deliveries to the country.

The European Commission has repeatedly called for the consultations to be resumed.

This article, also filed from Minsk, was posted on the RIA Novosti website at 7:40 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday evening---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Embargoed E.U. Goods Actively Re-Imported to Russia via Belarus – Putin

Goods embargoed by Moscow in response to Western economic sanctions are being actively shipped to Moscow via Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

"Even within the Customs Union framework, embargoed goods are being actively re-imported to the Russian Federation from the European Union countries, namely via Belarus," Putin said.

"I know that the leadership of Belarus and its president are trying to prevent this negative practice."

The Russian leader added that exporters often replace an E.U. label with a new one and send the goods to Russia.

This RIA Novosti news item, also filed from Minsk, showed up on their website at 7:39 p.m. Moscow time yesterday---and the stories from Roy just keep on coming.

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Meeting Between Putin and Poroshenko Ends in Minsk – Spokesman Peskov

The meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko came to an end in the Belarusian capital Minsk; the private conversation of the two leaders lasted for about two hours.

“The meeting is over,” the Russian leader’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said withholding though any further comments on the results of the talks.

Following the Customs Union-Ukraine-E.U. meeting, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told journalists that Russia and Ukraine “had agreed on a private meeting between the presidents of the two countries to discuss urgent issues.”

Earlier Spokesman Peskov said that the two leaders may discuss the crisis in Ukraine, humanitarian aid to the country’s eastern regions, the flow of refugees to Russia, and the possibility of an internal dialogue between Kiev and eastern Ukraine. Apart from that, during the talks the Kremlin was expected to discuss the bilateral cooperation between Moscow and Kiev following Ukraine’s signing the Association Agreement with the European Union.

Another RIA Novosti news item, also filed from Minsk yesterday afternoon---but this one is courtesy of reader M.A. for a change.

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Ukraine’s transition to E.U. trade will cost €165bn - Putin

Switching over to E.U. trade standards and nixing duty-free trade with Russia will cost Ukraine €165 billion over the next 10 years, President Putin warned at a meeting with President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk on Tuesday.

Russia will be forced to cancel all preferential trade agreements for Ukraine’s imports and switch to a standard regime when it ratifies its E.U. trade association agreement in September, the President said.

“In full accordance with the terms of agreement with the CIS free trade zone and WTO standards, we will be forced to cancel preferential imports from Ukraine,” Putin said.

Russia will cancel its duty-free relationship with Ukraine, which will lead to import tariffs of up to 8 percent affecting 98 percent of commodities.

This article was posted on the Russia Today website at 12:42 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon, which was 4:32 a.m. EDT.  I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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The NYT’s Monumental Hypocrisy: Takes Umbrage About Rebel-Held POWs; Ignores Neo-Nazi Militias Sent by Kiev to Attack Donbas Civilians

The New York Times has taken deep umbrage over an unseemly parade staged by ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine featuring captured Ukrainian soldiers. The Times noted that the Geneva Conventions prohibit humiliation of POWs, surely a valid point.

But the Times – in its profoundly biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis – apparently feels that other aspects of this nasty civil war are less newsworthy, such as the Kiev government’s bombardment of eastern Ukrainian cities sending the death toll into the thousands, including children and other non-combatants. Also downplayed has been Kiev’s dispatch of neo-Nazi storm troopers to spearhead the urban combat in ethnic Russian towns and cities in the east.

When the Times finally noticed this street-fighting role of neo-Nazi militias, that remarkable fact – the first time armed Nazis were dispatched by any government to kill people in Europe since World War II – was consigned to the last three paragraphs of a long article on a different topic, essentially a throwaway reference.

Similarly, the Kiev regime’s artillery fire on residential areas – killing many civilians and, over the weekend, damaging a hospital – has been treated by the Times as a minor afterthought. But Times’ readers are supposed to get worked up over the tasteless demonstration in Donetsk, all the better to justify more killing of ethnic Russians.

This commentary by Robert Parry was posted on David Stockman's website yesterday sometime---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Russian Central Bank proposes regulating foreign rating agencies

Foreign rating agencies may need to set up subsidiaries in Russia instead of branches or representative offices, so their operations could be subject to Russian legislation. It is seen as another attempt by Russia to better control its domestic finances.

The Central Bank of Russia has proposed a bill that would regulate operations of rating agencies in Russia, Kommersant reports.

Moody`s, S&P and Fitch acknowledged the receipt of the draft law but declined to comment. If the bill becomes law it would be the first regulation of the sort in Russia.

Central to the bill is that the international rating agencies will have to create Russian subsidiaries, which will be Russian legal entities.

This Russia Today article appeared on their Internet site at 12:54 p.m. Moscow time on their Tuesday afternoon---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens once again.

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NATO plans east European bases to counter Russian threat

NATO is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations' summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia's borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine's security, "modernise" its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

This story appeared on The Guardian Internet site at 9:04 p.m. BST on Tuesday evening---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Clive Maund: Will the U.S. break Russia to maintain dollar hegemony?

In my essay "Why they are making an enemy of Russia?," we looked at two of the key reasons why the U.S. is making an enemy of Russia, namely the promotion of conflict by the powerful Defense industry lobby in order to keep its order books full, and the value of conjuring up an external enemy as a hate figure for the masses, in order to take the heat off the government. In this article we are going to look at what is arguably an even bigger reason, that was largely omitted in the earlier article, which is that Russia, in alliance with China, is threatening to bring an end to the dollar as the global reserve currency, which would mean the end of the American empire.

We are witness to the greatest struggle of our age – the battle to maintain global dollar hegemony, and with it U.S. economic, military and political dominance of the entire planet – and this struggle is now coming to a head.

Notwithstanding its undeniably great accomplishments of the past hundred years, the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world is parasitic. This is because it creates money and debt instruments out of nothing, requiring virtually no effort, which it then swaps for goods and services with other countries. Because the U.S. dollar is the global reserve currency, it is able to rack up astronomic deficits that would be untenable for any other country.  U.S. debts are now at such levels that if the U.S. dollar loses its reserve currency status, the United States economy will implode and it will quickly be reduced to the status of a banana republic – hence the sense of urgency in the face of growing threats.

I'd never seen Clyde write a thing except about gold and silver as long as I've been following his work.  So when this piece showed up on the gata.org Internet site yesterday, I was more than skeptical about it.  That all changed after just two paragraphs.  This rather long essay is the second absolutely positively must read commentary in today's column, as it describes the end game of the New Great Game perfectly.

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U.S. begins surveillance flights over Syria after Obama authorization

The U.S. has started flying surveillance drones over Syria after President Obama authorized the missions, two senior Defense officials told Fox News, in a move that could pave the way for eventual airstrikes against Islamic State targets in the country. 

A decision still has not been made, at least publicly, to launch airstrikes in Syria. But the Obama administration would likely need additional intelligence on possible targets should the president take that step. 

Sources told Fox News that Obama approved surveillance missions in Syria for the first time over the weekend; they have since begun. 

It remains to be seen whether the Syrian government will raise any objections to the move. On Monday, the Syrian regime demanded that the U.S. seek permission before launching any airstrikes on its territory against Islamic State targets, but did not discuss its position on surveillance drones.

This news item, including at 6:21 minute embedded video clip, showed up on the foxnews.com Internet site on Tuesday---and it's the final offering of the day from reader M.A.

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Three King World News Blogs

1. Jeffrey Saut: "People Forget One of Jesse Livermore's Greatest Trades Ever"  2. Stephen Leeb: "Expect Skyrocketing Gold as China and Russia Continue Buying"  3. Jean-Marie Eveillard: "Legend Warns More Shocking Global Chaos on the Horizon"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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State Department agrees to try looking for gold records again

Three years ago GATA more or less won its freedom-of-information lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which GATA sought access to the Fed's records involving gold swaps.

While the court found that most of the Fed's records involving gold swaps were exempt from disclosure under the law, GATA's initial inquiry to the Fed produced an admission that the Fed indeed has secret gold swap arrangements with foreign banks and the court ordered disclosure of one record, the minutes of the April 1997 meeting of the G-10 Gold and Foreign Exchange Committee, at which Western treasury and central bank officials conspired to coordinate their policies in the gold market.

And a few days ago GATA's law firm, William J. Olson P.C. in Vienna, Virginia, received from the State Department a notice that the department has granted GATA's appeal and indeed will reopen its search for gold-related records.

Of course this whole process is silly and ridiculously slow, deliberately so to discourage embarrassing disclosures about the U.S. government's secret involvement in the gold market. But the process establishes, if with great difficulty, that something is going on here and that the government is so desperate to conceal it as to risk looking ridiculous.

This process also establishes again that the crucial prerequisite of the Western gold price suppression scheme is the cooperation of the mainstream financial news media, their agreement not to commit ordinary journalism when it comes to surreptitious intervention by Western governments and central banks in the gold and currency markets.

This commentary by Chris Powell showed up in a GATA release yesterday---and it's definitely worth your while if you have the time.

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Lawrence Williams: Is Asian gold demand really slipping so much?

By all accounts in the mainstream media, gold demand in Asia, and in particular in China and India, has been slipping dramatically this year which some see as the principal reason behind current price weakness. But all may not be as the reports suggest. Is Chinese demand, as suggested by the enormous slippage in gold imports though Hong Kong really as bad as the figures appear to show?

Reuters reports Hong Kong net gold exports to mainland China in July as falling to the lowest level since June 2011 at 22 tonnes (Bloomberg reports the figure as 21 tonnes). Compare this with the heady days last year when such gold imports exceeded 100 tonnes monthly for 6 months in a row from May to October. If this is an accurate indication of Chinese gold demand weakness then this is indeed something of a blow for gold bulls. 

But, China has moved the goalposts. While Hong Kong was very much the primary routing for gold entering the Chinese mainland in the past, indications are that this may no longer be the case as China has now designated a number of other points as import points for gold – notably Shanghai and Beijing. But as it does not publish statistics for these, overall import figures are much more opaque.

This commentary by Lawrie showed up on the mineweb.com Internet site in the wee hours of Tuesday morning MDT.  I saw it in time to post it in Tuesday's column, but I was already full up, so here it is now.  It's certainly worth reading. [Note: when I was editing today's column at 4:45 a.m. EDT, the mineweb.com Internet site was down]

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Ted Butler: How the Coming Silver Bubble Will Develop

The conclusion is simple – the asset requiring the least amount of buying to create a bubble is, automatically, the best candidate for developing into the biggest bubble. The fuel for any bubble is total (world) buying power versus the actual amount of an asset available for purchase. Previous, as well as prospective, bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate grew to many trillions of dollars of total valuation. At $200 an ounce, all the silver in the world (bullion plus coins) would “only” amount to $400 billion, not even a rounding error to the total valuation of stocks, bonds, real estate and, even, gold. In other words, due to silver’s current undervaluation and its shockingly small amount in existence, it has more room to the upside than any other asset class.

But I’m not done. Silver’s unique dual role as a vital industrial material and primary investment asset creates a setup for something happening that has never occurred in any previous bubble. As and when sufficient physical investment buying develops in silver to drive prices significantly higher, the industrial consumers of silver, in everything from electrical and solar applications to medical and chemical applications, will likely be subject to delays in the customary delivery timelines of the metal. As is almost always the case, whenever industrial consumers of a commodity are deprived of timely deliveries, they resort to stockpiling that commodity as a remedy, further exacerbating delivery delays to other users.

Thus, the stage is set for something the world has never experienced previously – an asset bubble accompanied with an industrial shortage. The two greatest upward price forces known to man, an asset bubble and a genuine commodity shortage, appear set to combine in silver. Either one, alone, would have a profound impact on the price, but the combination seems both inevitable and almost impossible to contemplate in terms of how high the price of silver could be driven. And it’s hard to see how intense investment buying wouldn’t trip off industrial user attempted inventory stockpiling or vice versa; it doesn’t matter which comes first.

I've already borrowed many paragraphs from this 20 August 2014 Ted Butler commentary as my 'Quote of the Day.'  Now I don't have to steal it in bite-sized chunks, as Taki Tsaklanos has published the entire article over on the goldsilverworlds.com Internet site.  It is, of course, an absolute must read.

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Aug 26, 2014

Goldman Sachs to pay US$3.15b to settle mortgage case

Goldman Sachs will pay US$3.15 billion (S$3.94 billion) to resolve claims it misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on mortgage-linked securities it sold them before the US housing bust, officials said on Friday (Aug 22).

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator for Fannie and Freddie, which were rescued by the government during the 2008 crisis, said that Goldman will repurchase the securities it sold to the two effectively government-backed mortgage giants between 2005 and 2007.

Goldman said the agreement will resolve "all" federal and state securities claims for mortgage-backed securities purchased by Freddie and Fannie over the period.

"We are pleased to resolve these matters," said Gregory Palm, executive vice president of Goldman Sachs.

Without doubt, this sum amounted to a licensing fee compared to the overall scam.  This article appeared on the channelnewsasia.com Internet site at 7:31 a.m. Singapore time---and I thank reader Harry Grant for today's first story.

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Burger King in Talks to Buy Canadian Chain Tim Hortons

Burger King Worldwide Inc., the second-largest U.S. burger chain, is in talks to buy Tim Hortons Inc. and move its headquarters to Canada, becoming the latest American company seeking to relocate to a lower-tax country.

Burger King would create the world’s third-largest fast-food chain by merging with Canada’s biggest seller of coffee and doughnuts, the companies said in a statement. The Canadian corporate tax rate is typically 26.5 percent, compared with 40 percent in the U.S., according to auditing and tax firm KPMG.

The deal renews debate over American companies shifting their headquarters internationally in search of lower corporate tax bills. The trend drew criticism last month from President Barack Obama, and his aides vowed that the administration would take action to curtail the practice.

This item is big news here in Canada---and the embedded video clip in this Bloomberg story pretty much sums it up.  It was posted on their Internet site on Sunday sometime Denver time---and has been updated since.  I thank Howard Wiener for being the first reader [of many] through the door with it.

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Too Much Corn With Nowhere to Go as U.S. Farmers Plan for Record

The ripening corn and soybean fields stretch for miles in every direction from Dennis Wentworth’s farm in Downs, Illinois. As he marveled at his best-yielding crops ever, he wondered aloud where the heck he’ll put it all.

“Logistics are going to be a huge problem for everyone,” the 62-year-old grower said, adding that he has invested in boosting output rather than grain bins. When harvesting starts in a few weeks, Wentworth expects his 150-year-old family farm to produce 10 percent more than last year’s record. “There are going to be some big piles of grain on the ground this fall.”

From Ohio to Nebraska, thousands of field inspections this week during the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour show production of corn could be 1 percent more than the government’s estimate and soybeans 1.2 percent higher, according to a Bloomberg survey of crop scouts.

Months of timely rains and mild weather created ideal growing conditions, leaving ears with more kernels than normal on 10-foot (3-meter) corn stalks and more seed pods on dark, green soy plants.

Well, dear reader, having spent my early years on a farm, I follow the growing season with more than the usual amount of interest---and drive out into the country just about every weekend to see how the crops are doing around Edmonton.  The cereal and canola crops look pretty fantastic---and a lot of canola is laying in swath already---because with the exception of a cool, wet spring, growing conditions have been nothing short of ideal here as well.  The above article, courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon, was posted on the moneynews.com Internet site last Friday morning EDT.

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Iceland volcano: Bardarbunga remains quiet

Iceland lowered its aviation alert level to orange from red Sunday, saying there was no sign of an imminent eruption at the Bardarbunga volcano. And scientists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office said their announcement Saturday that the volcano had experienced a subglacial eruption was wrong.

However, the office cautioned in a statement that seismic activity at the volcano, which has been hit by thousands of earthquakes over the past week, was not slowing, and an eruption remained a possibility in coming days.

Two earthquakes measuring greater than 5 in magnitude — the biggest yet — shook the volcano beneath Iceland's vast Vatnajokull glacier early Sunday. The Met Office recorded earthquakes of 5.3 and 5.1 in the early hours.

Iceland had raised the alert for aviation Saturday to red, the highest level on a five-point scale, warning that an ash-emitting eruption could be imminent. An orange alert indicates "heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption."

This CBC story was posted on their website at 5:41 a.m. EDT on Sunday---and was subsequently updated at 4:35 p.m. EDT Sunday afternoon.  I thank Roy Stephens for drawing it to our attention.

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France In "Political Turmoil" After Hollande Unexpectedly Dissolves Government

Earlier Monday morning Europe time, those expecting an out-of-control European deflationary tumble got one step closer to their goal when French President Francois Hollande asked his prime minister, who only assumed the post a few short months ago in March, to form a new government, following what Reuters reported was him "looking to impose his will on the cabinet after rebel leftist ministers had called for an economic policy U-turn" spearheaded by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg demanding an end to French "austerity."

The Guardian is somewhat more direct and to the point: "France has entered uncharted political waters after the prime minister, Manuel Valls, presented his government's resignation amid a political crisis triggered by his maverick economy minister who called for an end to austerity policies imposed by Germany."

This very interesting news item is worth skimming.  It appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 8:02 a.m. EDT Monday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it.

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Not-so NATO-ally? Germany spying on Turkey for ‘38 years’

German foreign intelligence agency has been tapping Turkey for almost four decades, reports Focus amid the ongoing spy scandal between Berlin and Ankara. Some German officials defend the practice, saying that not all NATO allies can be treated as friends.

The German Federal Intelligence Service, BND, has been eavesdropping on Turkey since 1976 following the Social Democrat Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s government approval, Focus magazine wrote on Saturday.

Passions over previous spying allegations revealed in the media are still running high, but a new report may add fuel to the fire triggering further tensions between the two long-time North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.

As for the current BND’s mandate to keep their eye on Turkish political and social institutions, it had also been given a green light by a government working group, which brought together representatives of the chancellor's office, the defense, foreign and economy ministries, reported Focus, citing government sources.

Nothing should surprise us in the spying game these days, dear reader.  This Russia Today story showed up on their Internet site at 2:55 a.m. Moscow time on their Monday morning, which was 6:55 p.m. Sunday evening in New York.  I thank reader Harry Grant for his second contribution to today's column.

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German Exports to Russia May Shrink by One Quarter This Year – German Businessmen

Germany’s exports to Russia may shrink by 25 percent this year, the union of leading associations representing German businesses said in a statement Monday.

“It is possible that by the end of the year our exports to Russia will decline by 20-25 percent. It will affect some 50,000 workplaces in Germany,” Eckhard Cordes, the chairman of Germany’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Germany’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations is an influential organization that represents the interests of German companies doing business in the former Soviet Union countries and in Eastern Europe.

According to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, who is referring to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, German exports to Russia amounted to 36.1 billion euros [$47.7 billion], down from 5.2 percent in 2013.

This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 7:01 p.m. Monday evening Moscow time---and I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Eurozone opens doors to Q.E. as Germany and France stumble

The eurozone has moved closer to adopting further radical measures to ward off a second recession and a spiral of deflation after its two biggest economies fell deeper into trouble yesterday.

The dual shock of a French government reshuffle and weaker-than-expected German figures yesterday threatened to add to the malaise in the eurozone, where unemployment remains stubbornly high and growth is at a standstill.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, this resulted in stock markets across Europe surging and government borrowing costs falling to new lows as traders reacted to indications that Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, may be opening the door for large-scale asset purchases and further cuts to interest rates.

This commentary appeared on The Telegraph's website at 6:00 p.m. BST yesterday evening---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site.

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German Vice Chancellor Calls for Ukraine's Federalization

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday said that federalization of Ukraine was the only viable solution to the crisis that has engulfed this East European country.

Speaking in an interview with the German weekly Welt am Sonntag, Sigmar Gabriel said that, “A smart concept of federalization seems to me the only viable solution.”

Gabriel, who also serves as Germany’s minister for economic affairs and energy, added that “an offer” has to be made to those regions in Ukraine where populations are predominantly ethnic Russian.

“Ukraine’s territorial integrity can only be preserved if an offer is made to regions with majority Russian population,” he stressed in an interview to appear on Sunday.

This article was posted on the RIA Novosti website at 7:03 p.m. Saturday evening Moscow time---and I thank South African reader B.V. for sending it.

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Militia wants independence, not federalization - DPR

The prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, rejects the prospect of federalization and insists on independence.

"We want independence. Federalization does not suit us," he told the press in Donetsk.

He said the self-proclaimed republic has sufficient resources to exist independently. "We have ample mineral resources and recreation zones. We are a self-sufficient region," he said.

This Interfax story appeared on the Russia Beyond the Headlines website at 11:59 p.m. Moscow time on Sunday evening---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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'Germans fed up with NATO allies and U.S. wars' – Former German Defense Secretary

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev.

Willy Wimmer, the former State Secretary of the Minister of Defence of Germany, joins Russia Today for analysis of the joint statements by the leaders of both countries.

This 5:17 minute youtube.com video clip was posted on their on Saturday---and it's worth watching.  I thank Brad Robertson for sending it our way.  I found the interview to be a little disjointed, but the message is clear.

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Baltic Fears: NATO Debates Directing Missile Shield against Russia

NATO officials are considering deploying a long-planned missile defense system -- aimed at protecting Europe from attacks from the Middle East -- against Russia as well, SPIEGEL has learned.

Calls for such an expansion to the system's remit, which is backed by the United States, are growing in Poland as well as in NATO member states Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In the run-up to next week's NATO summit, the four countries called for the remaining members to agree on language at the summit that would pave the way for the plan. They feel threatened by Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

But the majority of NATO members, especially Germany, are opposed to the proposal, warning that it could result in an unnecessary provocation of Moscow. Representatives of these countries have warned that NATO has for years pledged to Russia that the missile defense system would not be directed at the country. Further debate on the issue has since been delayed until after the summit.

This news story appeared on the German website spiegel.de at 11:16 a.m. Europe time yesterday morning---and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine moves step closer to default - Fitch

The Fitch ratings agency has downgraded Ukraine one step closer to default grade, as the Ukrainian currency the hryvnia hits a record low, and the economy balances on the brink of a collapse.

Fitch cut the long-term local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of Ukraine from B-,signifying a default risk, to CCC, where default is a real possibility, and affirmed its long-term foreign currency IDR at CCC, it said in a statement on Friday.

The downgrade came amid deteriorating economic outlook due to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian currency has lost 39 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, on Friday reaching an all-time low at 13.7 hryvnia to the dollar. Last week the hryvnia lost 3.1 percent, while in August the currency fell by 9.4 percent.

This article put in an appearance on the Russia Today Internet site at 3:15 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday afternoon.  I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way---and it's certainly worth reading.

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Ukraine president pledges $3 billion to rearm military

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday promised to spend some $3.0 billion to reequip the country's military over the next few years.

"From 2015 to 2017 we are planning to allocate more than UAH 40 billion ($3.0 billion, 2.3 billion euros) to rearmament," Poroshenko said in a speech ahead of an Independence Day parade in Kiev.

And where, pray tell, is the money coming from for this---along with their $5 billion gas bill that's several years in arrears?  Just asking. The above two paragraphs are all there is to this AFP story that appeared n the france24.com Internet site at 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning Europe time.  I thank Orlando, Florida reader Dennis Mong for finding it for us.

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Anti-govt forces ‘circle 1000s of Kiev troops, capture 2 tank battalions’ in E.Ukraine

After sustained defensive combat against Ukrainian troops in the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk during August, rebels are now reporting entrapping two large groups of Kiev troops and seizing military hardware in a counteroffensive.

The main headquarters of the DPR army has made a decision to stop operations in small groups and form full-bodied independent military units, the anti-Kiev forces say in a summary of their operations filed on Sunday.

They also say they are blocking a large “punitive force” near Alekseevskoe, Blagodatnoe, Voykovsky, Kuteinikovo, Ulyanovskoe and Uspenka.

Some 5,000 Kiev troops “with military hardware” including some 50 tanks, over 200 armored vehicles and 50 artillery rocket systems (including Grad) are trapped in the area, the DPR claims.

I'd take this Russia Today story with a big grain of salt if I were you.  It showed up on their website at 9:41 a.m. Moscow time on their Sunday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it our way.

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Ukraine President dissolves parliament, paves way for early election

Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has made the decision to dismiss the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, a message on his official Twitter account says.

The decision comes because “the majority of the MPs voted for dictator-style laws,” which cost the lives of Maidan activists, RIA Novosti news agency reports citing Poroshenko's spokesman.

The election of the new parliament will be held on October 26, the spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on his Facebook page.

Poroshenko has called on “democratic forces” in Ukraine to enter the elections as a united “pro-Ukrainian, pro-European team,” Tsegolko’s Facebook post states adding that the Rada was dismissed “because it is the only right and responsible decision.”

This news item appeared on the Russia Today website at 6:49 p.m. Moscow time on Monday---and my thanks go out to Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Russia Prepares 2nd Humanitarian Convoy "Invasion"--and Lavrov asks about Flight MH17 once again

Following the 'success' of the first humanitarian convoy, Bloomberg reports that Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the nation plans to send a second convoy loaded with humanitarian aid to Ukraine. he U.S. and the European Union condemned the decision to send the first convoy of about 280 trucks, which the government in Kiev called an "invasion," and the US accused Russia of painting military vehicles white.

This time will be different, according to Lavrov, as the government in Moscow is maneuvering to avoid the border standoff and uproar that marred its first convoy last week, adding “We’ll work on ensuring security guarantees from the side of the militias." Ironically, Lavrov also reminded a "disinformation"-prone media that Russia remains the only nation that continues to seek an MH17 probe, as Ukraine has still not released Dnipropetrovsk air traffic control recordings.

Yes, that pesky flight MH17 issue just won't go away, no matter how the Western press wishes it would.  After such a long time, I wouldn't give you a nickel for what's on the data flight recorders and ATC tapes, as there has been enough time passed for the British to have cooked them both real good.  This Bloomberg story, embedded in a Zero Hedge commentary, showed up on their website at 8:45 a.m. EDT on Monday morning---and it's the second offering in a row from reader M.A.

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Russia Not Planning to Participate in Wales NATO Summit – Permanent Mission

Russia has no plans to participate in any activities during the NATO summit in Wales, Russia’s Permanent Mission to NATO told RIA Novosti on Monday.

Earlier the same day, the Kommersant business daily cited diplomatic sources as saying that Russia's participation in the upcoming summit was deemed "unreasonable."

The summit is expected to attract the leaders of more than 60 countries to discuss topics concerning Russia, such as NATO-Russia relations, as well as strengthening ties with Ukraine and enhancing the collective defense of the alliance.

This very brief article showed up on the RIA Novosti website at 4:44 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday afternoon---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Russia will do whatever necessary to protect its legitimate interests – Lavrov

Russia doesn’t want to escalate tit-for-tat sanctions with the West, but is ready to do whatever is necessary to protect its legitimate interests, including those of national security in all its dimensions, Russia’s FM told The Daily Telegraph.

Peace in Ukraine can only be attained through a broad national dialogue that includes all regions and its terms cannot simply be dictated by a “government of the winners,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“The point is for Kiev to stop war games and to abandon the illusion that the deep crisis in Ukraine can be resolved by winning the war against your own people,” Lavrov said, reiterating that with support from US and EU, Kiev continues to ignore its numerous commitments to a “government of national unity.”

“Unfortunately, the logic of “the winner takes it all” remains the thrust of Kiev’s actions resulting in thousands of victims among civilians, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, as well as almost totally destroyed social infrastructure in many cities and towns in Eastern Ukraine.”

Lavrov delves into Flight MH17 once again in this commentary on the Russia Today website late Monday evening Moscow time---and it's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.

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Press-conference of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Moscow, August 25 2014

I blanched when I saw the length of this press conference with Sergey Lavrov, as it runs 1:23:27.  That's why I'm always happy to leave the final edit of each daily missive up to you. 

It was posted on the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca website at 3:14 p.m. EDT? on Monday---and it's the final offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Islamist fighters seize Tripoli airport

Islamist fighters in the Fajr Libya coalition said on Saturday they have captured Tripoli's battered international airport after many days of clashes with nationalist militiamen.

The claim followed a setback the previous night when a warplane raided Islamist positions, killing 13 fighters, a Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) spokesman said.

If independent sources confirm the airport has changed hands, it would be a major defeat for the nationalist fighters from Zintan west of Tripoli who have held the airport since the fall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

A statement shown on An-Nabaa television, which is regarded as close to the Islamists, said: "Fajr Libya announces that it totally controls Tripoli international airport."

This news story put in an appearance on the france24.com Internet site on Sunday sometime---and it's another story courtesy of Dennis Mong.

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Egypt and U.A.E. Said to Secretly Bomb Militias in Libya

Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.

Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order. Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt last year, the new government and its backers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have launched a campaign across the region — in the news media, in politics and diplomacy, and by arming local proxies — to roll back what they see as an existential threat to their authority posed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Several officials said in recent days that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing the intervention could further inflame the Libyan conflict as the United Nations and Western powers are seeking to broker a peaceful resolution. "We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official. Officials said the government of Qatar has already provided weapons and support to the Islamist-aligned forces inside Libya, so the new strikes represent a shift from a battle of proxies to direct involvement. It could also set off an arms race on both sides.

I guess that only the U.S., Britain, France and Israel are allowed to drop bombs on Arab countries. This very interesting article, which is definitely worth reading, was posted on The New York Times website on Monday sometime---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Moscow Blames Political Chaos in Libya on Forceful Democratization by U.S., NATO

The United States and its NATO allies caused the current political chaos in Libya by their attempts “to forcefully democratize the country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

“We are convinced that the current chaos in Libya is a direct consequence of irresponsible interference by the U.S. and its NATO allies into Libya’s internal political conflict, with an aim to overthrow the Muammar Gaddafi regime and forcefully democratize the country,” the ministry said in a statement.

“At present, the Libyans are paying for this, with thousands of lives lost and social infrastructure destroyed in the violent internal struggle,” the statement continues.

“We can now say for sure that the political process of creating a modern democratic state on the rubble of the Gaddafi regime, overthrown in 2011, is now completely deadlocked,” the ministry said.

I think that the Russian Foreign Ministry is being charitable in their assessment of the Libyan situation.  This news story appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 11:27 p.m. Moscow time on their Monday evening, which was 3:27 p.m. EDT.

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Militants make renewed push for main Iraq refinery

Militants have launched a renewed push to seize Iraq's main oil refinery north of Baghdad, battling security forces backed by air support, a police officer and witnesses said on Sunday.

The fighting, in which militants attacked the Baiji refinery from three sides, broke out on Saturday evening and continued into the next day, the sources said.

Militants have repeatedly sought to overrun the refinery, which once accounted for some 50 percent of Iraq's supplies of refined oil products.

While they have previously managed to enter the refinery compound, security forces were able to push them back.

This short, but must read AFP story appeared on the france24.com Internet site on Sunday sometime---and it's the third and final offering of the day from Dennis Mong.

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Fractures in Arab Gulf alliance a greater threat to oil security than Islamic State

In 1981 six Arab monarchies, which today control about a fifth of the world’s oil supply, formed the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).

As the war between Iraq and Iran intensified, the Sunni Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf peninsula - Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar - originally came together in theory to form a Middle Eastern version of the European Union. Although the group has no formal political charter like the EU, it still provides the only official forum where all six leaders of these oil-rich countries can sit down together to debate and agree on mutually beneficial policies in the region.

But the rise of Islamic extremism across the Middle East, America’s growing willingness to deal with Iran and lingering leadership succession issues amongst member states are now unpicking the ties that have bound the GCC together in a tectonic shift that could have profound implications for the security of the world’s largest oil fields.

Formed in the shadow of war, its initial purpose was to help guarantee security mainly from larger Pan-Arab nationalist despots such as Saddam Hussein and the threat posed by the Shiite Mullah’s in Tehran. But after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 its focus became increasingly economic. Initiatives such as interconnecting electricity networks across the GCC, regional transportation projects including a railway and the possibility of a formal currency union took hold.

This absolute must read editorial appeared on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site at 6:00 a.m. BST on Sunday morning---and it's another offering from South African reader B.V.

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Guest column by Eric Margolis — The Beheading

The alleged beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the shadowy ISIS (or Islamic State) has sparked outrage and horror around the globe.  I say “alleged” because we are not sure if the decapitation was real or faked.

After three decades of covering wars in the Mideast, Africa, Latin America, and Afghanistan, my reaction as a journalist was also outrage – but cautious outrage.

We westerners have a charming and quaint  belief that killing people from the air by using bombs, rockets, shells, napalm and cluster munitions – or even nuclear weapons – is somehow not really as bad as ramming a bayonet into an enemy, blowing him to pieces with heavy artillery, or slashing his throat the way sheep are killed.

I’ve long travelled the same road as this courageous young man---and countless other field journalists, covering extremely dangerous places all on my own, with no backup or support system. It’s very lonely and often demoralizing work.

Written by a man who has "been there---and done that".  This article by Eric Margolis was posted on the Paul Craig Roberts Internet site yesterday---and it's definitely worth reading.  Rob Bentley was the first in line with this article.

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Alasdair Macleod: The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and Mackinder’s prophecy

There will be a defining geopolitical event next month when India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia become full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This will increase the population of SCO members to an estimated 3.05 billion. We should care about this because it is the intention of the SCO to do away with the US dollar for trade settlement.

The nations joining in September are currently designated as Observer States and the only one left will be Afghanistan, which will presumably join when it can untie itself from NATO. Dialog Partners, defined as states which share the goals and principals of the SCO and wish to develop mutually beneficial relations, include Belarus Sri Lanka and Turkey. Turkey is of special interest because it has been a long-standing NATO member. It had hoped to join the EU but it became clear that this was never going to happen. Instead under the leadership of Recep Erdoğan Turkey is moving towards the SCO.

Erdoğan was re-elected earlier this month by a comfortable majority and it will be interesting to see how quickly Turkey's new alignment evolves. Erdoğan must be aware that Asia is on the up while the EU declines, in which case Turkey as a front-line state is better off joining the SCO.

The SCO's influence extends beyond its boundaries, with China and India's diaspora populating much of the rest of south-east Asia. SCO members, particularly China and India, are also the largest consumers of Middle Eastern energy. And because they write the biggest cheques they have primacy over the west; so the swing away from the petrodollar towards Asia is in the making. China also has sub-Saharan Africa sewn up, securing vital minerals such as copper from Zambia.

We must also consider why Russia is aggressively driving the pace of the SCO's development, and it's not just to escape the west's economic sanctions as many observers think. Fundamentally the SCO is about resources and the production of goods: Russia controls Asia's resources and China turns them into goods.

I've posted more than one story about this already, however this very excellent commentary by Alasdair showed up on the goldmoney.com Internet site last Friday---and it's a must read as well.  I thank Howard Wiener for sharing it with us.

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Nigerian troops cross border after Boko Haram clashes

Some 480 Nigerian soldiers have crossed into Cameroon following fierce fighting with Boko Haram militants.

Reports claimed that the troops had joined thousands of citizens fleeing the fighting, but Nigeria said they were conducting a "tactical manoeuvre".

Clashes are said to be continuing in the border town of Gamboru Ngala.

Boko Haram on Sunday released a video claiming that it had established an Islamic state in the towns and villages it controls in north-eastern Nigeria.

This article appeared on the bbc.com Internet site at 2:25 EDT yesterday---and it's the final offering of the day from reader B.V.

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Eight King World News Blogs/Audio Interviews

1. John Embry: "We Are Headed For a Financial System Apocalypse"  2. Ronald-Peter Stoferle: "Expect Extreme Long Term Systemic and Economic Instability"  3. Richard Russell: "Current Financial System to Tear Itself Apart"  4. Rick Rule: "Sovereign and Strategic Money Pouring Into Gold and Silver"  5. Michael Pento: "Deflationary Depression, Government Lies---and a New Paradigm"  6. Robert Fitzwilson: "Massive Social Unrest Coming as People Struggle to Survive"  7. The first audio interview is with Rick Rule---and the second audio interview is with Dr. Philipa Malmgren

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Koos Jansen: India's silver imports run ahead of last year's

Gold researcher and GATA consultant Koos Jansen reports that India's silver imports are running slightly ahead of last year's, as the government's heavy restriction of gold imports pushes demand toward the other monetary metal.

Jansen's analysis was posted at bullionstar.com Internet site at 04:47 a.m. Singapore time last Thursday---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site on Saturday.

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Silver is almost always knocked down at 6 p.m. ET

Market analyst and GATA consultant James McShirley calls attention to the almost constant knockdown of the silver futures price upon the 6 p.m. Eastern time opening of the access market.

McShirley writes: "Virtually every evening for the last three years at precisely 6 p.m. ET something very odd has happened: Comex silver offers swamped the bids to the tune of a 3-10 cent decline. For this to happen for three consecutive weeks would be strange. If it were to happen for three straight months it would be bizarre. Only MOAMOPE -- Mother of All Management of Perspective Economics -- can describe when it occurs for three straight years. ...

"Silver has had a near-iron clamp imposed on it commencing with the access trade reopen. How severe is this iron clamp? From September 1, 2011, to the present, 621 out of the 744 6 p.m. access trade opens have been lower. All manipulation denialists take note: That's an astounding 83.5 percent."

There's nothing really new here, as I've been commenting on this for weeks now.  However, James has gone where I just didn't have the time to go---and has researched this to the 'nth' degree.  As you should have figured out in an instant, there's nothing free market about this.  The first person through the door with this story yesterday was reader M.A.---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the paragraphs of introduction.  It was posted on the goldseek.com Internet site on Monday---and it's definitely worth reading.

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Will There Be a ‘New Gold Rush?’ -- Ian Gordon, Longwave Analytics

“I do believe this will happen. Even though the amount of dollars is going up, eventually debt will be wrung out of the system. This causes deflation, which is very bullish for gold. In deflation, both creditors and debtors are in dire straits. They’re facing enormous pressure. People tend to turn towards stores of value like gold.

“We saw this happen in the 1930s’. When the stock market bubble collapsed, capital flowed into gold instead. Gold production in Canada rose from 1,928,308 fine oz. in 1929 to 5,311,145 fine oz. in 1940, which amounted to a 175% increase.  There were 100 new gold mines started during that time, and world gold production increased by over 100%. That happened because capital was going into gold.”

“We’re in the same period in the cycle as we were in the 1930’s and after 1873. The economic winter has been muted by the creation of paper money ad infinitum, but we will probably experience another leg down – similar to 2000.

This interview with Ian was conducted by Henry Bonner over at the sprottglobal.com Internet site yesterday.

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Jersey hoard: Archaeologists unpick 70,000 coins

Work to separate 70,000 Celtic coins and pieces of jewellery is taking place under the public gaze at Jersey Museum.

Researchers aim to remove and clean up to 500 coins a week for the next three years in a specially built glass-walled lab.

The metal detector enthusiasts who made the find are now part of the team working on the project.

They unearthed the hoard, though to be the world's largest, in 2012 in a field in Grouville.

For the past two years the team, led by Jersey Heritage conservator Neil Mahrer, has been documenting the hoard, which is about 2,000 years old.

This very interesting article showed up on the bbc.com Internet site at 7:27 EDT last Friday---and I thank Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

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China's Hong Kong gold imports drop - fifth month in a row

China’s gold imports from Hong Kong in July fell by 42 percent from a month earlier as an anti- corruption campaign and price declines deterred Chinese consumers.

Net imports totaled 21.1 metric tons, compared with 36.4 tons in June and 113.2 tons a year earlier, according to calculations by Bloomberg News based on data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department today. Exports to Hong Kong from China fell to 17.9 tons last month from 19.7 tons in June, the statistics department said in a separate statement. Mainland China doesn’t publish such data.

The continued weakness adds to signs of slowing demand in China, which in 2013 overtook India as the biggest user after gold entered a bear market, spurring a buying frenzy among Chinese consumers. President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft drive this year hurt demand for luxury goods, according to the World Gold Council. Prices fell by the most since December last month amid bearish forecasts from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

As I, along with others, have been saying for months, with China now importing gold through Beijing, the importance of importing through Hong Kong in the full glare of the public eye has gone the way of the Dodo bird.  And as I said this time last month, there will come a point where the imports through Hong Kong will be meaningless when trying to figure out China's gold import numbers---and that time has obviously arrived.  This Bloomberg story found a home over at the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday.

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Lawrence Williams: Russia leading central bank gold buyer, but China - who knows?

Despite the lower gold price – or perhaps because of it – it is apparent that Central Banks outside Western Europe and North America are continuing to increase their gold holdings. Is this perhaps some kind of prelude to a re-evaluation of the world’s monetary system with gold holding an important role in some kind of new world economic order?

According to World Gold Council statistics as published in its quarterly Gold Demand Trends reports, if anything Central Banks have been buying at a higher rate this year than last with a reported 240 tonnes of purchases in the first half as against 180 tonnes in H1 2013. But these are figures as reported to the IMF and, of course, do not include anything China may have done to boost reserves over the period.

The biggest recent buyer as far as published data are concerned has been the Russian Federation, although here it may in part be building a ‘war chest’ as it continues to consider its options over Ukraine. It has just been announced that in July it increased its holdings by a further 9.33 tonnes, following an 18.6 tonne increase in June which brings its total gold holdings to comfortably over 1,100 tonnes representing about 10% of its foreign currency reserves. This is the world’s fourth largest national official holding (disregarding the IMF’s holdings), but lags substantially behind the U.S. and three European nations (Germany, Italy and France which all hold very significantly higher proportions of their foreign exchange reserves in gold), but ahead of China’s official reserves, which are widely believed to be very substantially understated at 1,054.1 tonnes.

This commentary by Lawrie was posted over at the mineweb.com Internet site last Friday---and I don't know how I missed it for my Saturday column.  It definitely falls into the must read category.

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Aug 23, 2014

Fed's Yellen calls for caution on rates; Draghi says ECB ready to act

The Federal Reserve should move cautiously in deciding when to raise interest rates given the U.S. labor market remains bruised from the Great Recession, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday amid calls from policy hawks for a near-term rate hike.

In a speech at the Fed's annual central bank conference, Yellen laid out in detail why she feels the unemployment rate alone is inadequate to evaluate the strength of the jobs market and why the central bank needs to step gingerly.

Her remarks were followed by a speech by the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who said the ECB was ready to use all the tools at its disposal to lift euro zone inflation if it continued to drop. He said, however, that most factors that had weighed on prices appeared temporary.

Together, the comments from Yellen and Draghi underscored how both central banks were wrestling with the complexities of labor markets still-wracked by the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

This Reuters article, filed from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, showed up on their Internet site at 5:45 p.m. EDT on Friday afternoon---and today's first story is courtesy of Orlando, Florida reader Dennis Mong.

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The Chart That the U.S. Police Force Does Not Want You to See

The U.S. is #1 once again---that'll teach the cynics.

That's all the words there are to this Zero Hedge piece from early yesterday evening---and the chart is definitely worth the trip.  I thank reader M.A. for sending it along.

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More Scaremongery: Inhofe Warns ISIS "Developing a Method to Blow Up a Major U.S. City"

Thursday night it was SecDef Chuck Hagel who warned ISIS was a bigger threat to America than 9/11 and primed the narrative for the next round of defense-spending (and this deficit-boosting, QE-enabling money printing). Today it is Senate Armed Services Committee member Jim Inhofe who told Fox that "we're in the most dangerous position we've ever been in as a nation."

While that seems a little bit of stretch (oh and hasn't the Senator seen stocks?) he adds - rather ominously, "they're crazy out there and they're rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can't believe that's happening." But then again, when have we ever needed to 'believe' anything anyway (especially without YouTube clips to prove it).

As I said yesterday, the U.S. is being primed for its next false flag operation, which will certainly top the one the powers-that-be pulled for 9/11.  This commentary showed up on the Zero Hedge website at 2:19 p.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank reader 'David in California' for sending it around.

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Eric Sprott: Weekly Market Wrap-Up

In this week's commentary, Eric talks with Jeff Rutherford about the economy, Ebola---and next week's silver expiry.  This 7:47 minute audio interview was posted on the sprottmoney.com website on Friday afternoon.

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Two Jim Rickards Interviews

This first audio interview is with Craig Griffin over at ITM Trading---and it runs for 28:27 minutes---and was posted on the marketsanity.com Internet site on Wednesday.  The interview covers terrorism-backed insider trading, gold's role as a currency---and exponential risk.

The second interview was posted on the Russia Today website on Thursday.  It begins at the 4:55 minute mark and runs for a bit over 6 minutes.  The link to that is here---and I thank Harold Jacobsen for sharing both of these with us.

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Google Maps is tracking everywhere you go

Google probably already knows your age, your interests, and everything you've looked at online. But now, there's proof that Google knows where you are pretty much all of the time as well. And it's proof Google gave us!

Google's location tracking site shows exactly where you and your cell phone have been. It even conveniently breaks down the locations it shows by day, proving that not only is the tech giant aware of users' locations, but it's also keeping a detailed record.

All of this is either fine or incredibly creepy. Luckily, it's very easy to turn off the tracking ability on your phone. For Google to record data on your phone's location, you must have enabled both location reporting and location history.

Luckily, Google has provided step-by-step instructions for how to turn those off in case you're entirely creeped out. And if you're not, well, now you have Google to help you remember all those times you've gone down to the corner store for milk because it was the only thing open at 4 a.m.

This very interesting article appeared on the news.yahoo.com Internet site last Sunday---and for content reasons, had to wait for today's column.  I thank Casey Research's own Doug Hornig for bringing it to my attention---and now to yours.

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Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude

Argentina on Friday accused the U.S. judge who called the country's debt restructuring plan illegal of making "imperialist" comments against the South American nation.

Argentine Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa's choice of words were "unfortunate, incorrect and even, I would say, imperialist expressions".

Griesa on Thursday said a proposed law announced by Argentina's president this week would violate orders he imposed favoring creditors who refused to accept restructured bonds following the country's record 2002 default.

These three paragraphs are all there is to this brief Reuters story. It was filed from Buenos Aires at 7:21 a.m. EDT yesterday---and I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

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France to miss deficit target as economy hits standstill

France’s hopes of cutting its ballooning public deficit took a blow Thursday as new figures revealed that the country’s flagging economy remained at a standstill in the second quarter.

For the second quarter in a row, France’s gross domestic product saw zero growth in the three months to July, according to figures from national statistics office INSEE.

The figures prompted Finance Minister Michel Sapin to slash the government's forecast for growth in 2014 to "around 0.5 percent", compared with a previous projection of 1.0 percent.

This article appeared on the france24.com Internet site on Thursday sometime---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Facebook given deadline in ‘largest privacy class action in Europe’

Facebook has been given four weeks to respond to a class action, launched against it by an Austrian activist and supported by 60,000 users. The suit claims Facebook violated users' privacy, by cooperating with the NSA's PRISM program.

The class action initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer, data privacy activist and founder of Europe vs. Facebook group has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court.

Facebook Ireland, which runs the social network’s activities outside the U.S. and Canada, has been given four weeks to respond to the action.

"The order is very likely on the way to Facebook. The first step in the legal procedure is hereby taken," said a statement by Europe vs. Facebook on Thursday.

This article appeared on the Russia Today website at 12:53 p.m. Moscow time on Friday---and I thank reader Harry Grant for sliding it into my in-box in the wee hours of this morning.

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Russian Humanitarian Convoy Enters Ukraine Without Authorization; Ukraine Considers Move "Direct Invasion"

The farce is complete, although at least this time it didn't take Ukraine several hours to fabricate then unfabricate its plot line, because literally minutes after it accused Russia of invading, Ukraine's foreign minister said the convoy was "allowed" to avoid provocations.

He added that the rebel militants are using mortars on the convoy route and that it had taken all necessary steps to ensure cargo safety but that Russia wouldn't discuss security for the convoy.

Nonetheless it still accused Russia's convoy of breaking international law and said that convoy would go to separatists, not civilians, and called on its "international partners" (we suppose it means the CIA here, which apparently is feeding it this ridiculous script) to condemn the Russian convoy.

This Zero Hedge article put in an appearance on their website at 9:02 a.m. EDT on Friday morning---and I thank reader M.A. for sharing it with us.

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Trucks with Russian aid reach Lugansk, East Ukraine

Moscow has accused Kiev of placing political interests above humanism, adding that it is confident it made the right decision to order a convoy with Russian humanitarian aid to proceed to the conflict zone without waiting for further Ukrainian permission.

The Russian aid convoy on Friday finally reached Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, which has been devastated by repeated shelling. White Kamaz trucks delivered essentials such as food, water, medications, sleeping bags, and electric generators.

Twenty-four aid distribution centers have been set up in the city, 12 of which will open on Saturday morning, according to the administration of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Lugansk.

This article showed up on the Russia Today website at 7:49 a.m. Moscow time on their Friday morning which was ten minutes minutes before midnight in New York on Thursday night.  It's the second contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.

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Russia Moves Artillery Units Into Ukraine, NATO Says

The Russian military has moved artillery units manned by Russian personnel inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces, NATO officials said on Friday.

The West has long accused Russia of supporting the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, but this is the first time it has said it had evidence that the Russian military was operating in Ukrainian territory.

The Russian move represents a significant escalation of the Kremlin’s involvement in the fighting there and comes as a convoy of Russian trucks with humanitarian provisions has crossed into Ukrainian territory without Kiev’s permission.

The bulls hit out of the American press is beyond shameless.  This piece of pure propaganda appeared on The New York Times website yesterday sometime---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Russian Intrusion Hoax Exposed as Mistrust for Kiev Grows

The Ukrainian military authorities have failed to confirm their earlier claim that a Russian column, consisting of 1,200 military servicemen and 150 armored vehicles including tanks and Grad missile launchers, had entered the territory of Ukraine near Luhansk, Western mass media sources report.

"Muddled security officials in Ukraine were… forced to deny that a huge Russian military convoy had been deployed in the eastern rebel-run city of Luhansk. The strong rebuttal suggested an earlier claim about an invasion by Vladimir Putin's troops amounted to a crude propaganda move by the pro-Western Kiev government - or deep confusion in its own ranks," the Daily Mail emphasizes.

The controversial information came from Lt.-Gen. Igor Voronchenko, the head of the Ukrainian Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO) in Luhansk and was immediately "confirmed" by Dmitry Tymchuk, a Ukrainian military analyst.

"Unfortunately, we can confirm the fact that the column of Russian military equipment broke through to Luhansk to back up the local militants," wrote Tymchuk on his Facebook page on August 19. The military analyst, however, failed to explain how the column remained undetected by the Ukrainian forces while breaking through ATO's blockade line.

The Russian invasion hoax had been instantly disseminated via the mainstream Ukrainian media and had rapidly spread across the Internet.

This commentary appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 12:29 p.m. Moscow time yesterday---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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U.S. demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

The United States on Friday demanded Russia "immediately" withdraw an aid convoy of vehicles from Ukraine and warned of further international sanctions if Moscow did not respect Kiev's sovereignty.

Russia sent dozens of aid trucks into rebel-held eastern Ukraine earlier on Friday without Kiev’s approval, saying its patience had worn out with the Ukrainian government’s stalling tactics.

"Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately. Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

The United Nations Security Council was to hold emergency consultations on the convoy Friday at the request of Lithuania.

This story was posted on the france24.com Internet site yesterday sometime---and once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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By Blocking U.N. Resolution, U.S. Shows That It Seeks Ukrainian Conflict Escalation – Moscow

By blocking the U.N. Security Council statement on the ceasefire in Ukraine, Washington has demonstrated that it wants to see further escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

“If the U.S. opposes an absolutely non-confrontational, reconciliatory text, there can be no doubts that Washington intends to have the armed confrontation in Ukraine continued. It could be seen only as an attempt to ‘undermine’ the humanitarian mission,” the ministry said in a statement.

Moscow believes that such policy is hypocritical, the ministry added.

"Cynical disregard for the fate of civilians and 'couldn't care less' attitude toward the international humanitarian law when it comes to geopolitical interests, becomes the core of the policy of the United States and its European satellites regarding Ukrainian," the statement read.

This is another RIA Novosti story from yesterday.  It was posted on their website at 7:06 p.m. Moscow time yesterday evening, which was 11:06 a.m. EDT.  Once again I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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Russia Reminds U.N. that Ukraine Agreed to Let Russia Deliver Aid on August 12

Russia has sent a humanitarian convoy to the east of Ukraine, considering that it has received official authorization of Kiev government, Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin said.

The corresponding note was received on August 12, Churkin said, noting that the humanitarian aid to Syria was delivered without the consent of the authorities of the country.

"If we are talking about respect for sovereignty, we have received a formal agreement from them [the Ukrainian authorities]. We have discussed this issue with them, and if they decided to cheat, then it's their problem," Churkin told Russian reporters after the closed meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine on Friday.

The note that gave consent for the passage of the humanitarian convoy through the Ukrainian border was received on 12 August, Churkin said.

This news item appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 2:20 a.m. Moscow time on their Saturday morning---and the contributions from Roy just keep on coming.

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Kiev Says Ukraine Needs 5 Billion Cubic Meters of Russian Gas for Winter

Ukraine needs to purchase additional five billion cubic meters of gas from Russia for the forthcoming winter season, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.

“Can Ukraine now survive without Russian gas? No, it can’t. How much Russian gas do we need to buy? About 5 billion cubic meters,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels.

He said that three-party gas talks, involving Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, are scheduled to take place next month.

“I hope there will be some final stage to these talks,” he said.

But where is the money coming from to pay for the gas that the Ukraine has already used, let alone this new amount?  A question with no answer at the moment.  This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 7:24 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday evening---and it's courtesy of Roy Stephens once again.

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Russia's Rosneft grabs Norwegian drilling assets

Russian energy company Rosneft said Friday it signed an agreement to acquire a stake in a Norwegian drilling company in exchange for drilling rigs.

Rosneft signed a framework agreement with North Atlantic Drilling Ltd.

"This deal will allow Rosneft to acquire new capabilities in the sphere of oilfield services, by engaging the best professionals, with unique expertise in operations in harsh climate conditions," Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin said in a statement Friday.

Rosneft was the target of sanctions imposed by Western powers in response to Russia's stance on crises in Ukraine. Sechin himself was sanctioned by the U.S. government.

This UPI news item, filed from Moscow, appeared on their Internet site at 10:07 a.m. yesterday, but the time zone it was filed from wasn't stated, so EDT must be assumed.

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Veteran Russian nationalist demands Obama be stripped of Nobel Peace Prize

Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party will press for depriving President Barack Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that the U.S. leader is disgracing the award by organizing wars instead of fighting for peace.

The statement, posted on the party’s website, quotes its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky as saying that the fact that the Peace Prize was given to Obama in 2009 caused bewilderment from the very beginning – the award went to the man who had occupied his post for less than a year and had not claimed any real achievements.

Usually the Nobel Peace Prize is handed to people who fought for peace for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, who did prison time. This man has not moved a finger. And in recent years he has organized wars. Ukraine is in flames, the Mideast is troubled, and there are problems in Afghanistan. Throughout his term in power – not a single peacekeeping operation; we see only death, aggression and refugees. The Peace Prize should be recalled immediately to avoid disgracing of the award!” Zhirinovsky stated.

The Russian politician added that he himself had worked in the Peace Committee and previously the whole world had been proud of Nobel laureates. He noted that giving the Peace Prize to Obama “had done huge damage” but the mistake could still be corrected.

He would be exactly right about that, dear reader. This article put in an appearance on the Russia Today website at 9:01 a.m. Moscow time yesterday---and I thank Roy Stephens once again.

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Interview with Sergei Glaziev---a MUST WATCH/LISTEN!

Thanks to the superb work of the Russian Team, it is my huge pleasure to present you with one of the most interesting interviews about the war in the Ukraine and the global struggle for the future of the planet and the views of one of the best informed men in Russia: Sergei Glaziev.

Glaziev is an advisor to President Putin and a close friend.  I personally believe that the western media is either wrong or deliberately lying when then say that Dugin is Putin's ideological mentor. I am not sure that Putin has - or needs - any kind of mentor, but over the years I have found that Glaziev seems to say out loud what Putin does not, but seems to be acting on.

Glaziev, who was born in the Ukraine and who is an economic himself, has a superb understanding of the behind-the-scenes power plays in the Ukraine and in Russia.  This man really *knows* what is going on.  Furthermore, he is one of the leading "Eurasian Sovereignists" and he is therefore absolutely hated by the pro-U.S. circles in Russia.  He is equally hated in the USA who put him on their recent sanctions list for no other reason then the fact that they don't like what he has to say.

I cut and paste the above three paragraphs of introduction from the vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca website, which is what you will read when you click on this article.  The interview is in Russian, so if you need to read the English subtitles to what he is saying, you have to click on the little 'cc' icon at the bottom of the youtube.com video that's imbedded in this story.  The video interview runs for 15:34 minutes---and is, without question, the most important 'story' in today's column.  It's a must watch from start to finish---and should be of special interest to any serious student of the New Great Game, which has now begun in earnest---and that Sergei talks about at length.

The story, is of course, courtesy of Roy Stephens.  He sent it to me on Wednesday, but because of length and content reasons, it had to wait for my Saturday column.

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Egypt launches Suez Canal II project, reasserts image as building nation

New President al-Sisi announces the US$4-billion, 72-kilometre waterway whose construction will be carried out by the country’s armed forces.

The announcement by Egypt that it will build a new waterway parallel to the Suez Canal is aimed not just to keep pace with growing international trends but also to boost revenue in a country that has been forced to become the world’s largest wheat importer to feed its 84 million people.

And, at the same time it is designed to tell the world that while other Arab states are plunged in chaos and violence, the nation from which the term “pharaonic” was coined to describe mammoth public works, is resolved “to build,” international relations pundits told the Herald.

Revenue from the new project is expected to reach US$13.5 billion by 2023 versus the current US$5 billion from its 145-year-old predecessor.

This very interesting news story appeared on the buenosairesherald.com Internet site way back on August 11.  Reader M.A. sent it to me last Sunday---and for obvious reasons it had to wait for today's column.

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Baku, Tehran sign energy agreements

Azerbaijan said it signed a memorandum of understanding to broaden energy ties in the Iranian oil and natural gas sector.

The State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic said its delegates have spent the last three days in Iran visiting with ministers and representatives from the energy sector.

SOCAR said it reviewed interests expressed by Iran's Khazar Exploration and Production Co. to work on oil and gas issues ranging from production to transportation of reserves between the two Caspian nations.

"The event ended with signing of a memorandum of understanding between Iran's Khazar Exploration & Production Co. and SOCAR," the Azeri company said Thursday.

This story, filed from Tehran, appeared on the upi.com Internet site at 10:33 a.m. EDT[?] on Friday---and I thank Roy Stephens once again for bringing it to our attention.

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Mongolia Seeks Economic Lifeline With Pivot to China, Russia

After two decades courting Western investors and political allies, Mongolia is refocusing on foreign ties closer to home seeking to revive its economy.

China’s President Xi Jinping is scheduled to arrive tomorrow in the country landlocked between his nation and Russia, as Mongolia’s economic woes mount. Growth is the weakest in four years, foreign investment has plummeted, inflation is rising and the currency has plunged to a record low.

Xi’s trip to the mineral-rich nation, the first by a Chinese president in 11 years, comes ahead of the expected visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin about two weeks later. As analysts anticipate deals or negotiations from energy to infrastructure, the visits signal a pivot to Russia and China as a prolonged spat with Rio Tinto Group over Mongolia’s biggest ever investment has cooled foreign interest in the nation.

“The timing is critical,” said Peter Morrow, partner at NovaTerra LLC, which advises on projects including energy, from Ulaanbaatar. “Both China and Russia are keenly interested in Mongolia’s resources, and both know that the country is going through a rough economic patch.”

This very interesting article, co-filed from Tokyo---and Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, appeared on their Internet site at 9:55 p.m. on Tuesday evening Denver time---and is another news item that had to wait for today column.   My thanks go out to reader Harold Wiener for bringing it to our attention---and it's definitely worth reading.

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Tour 20 Cities Through Videos Taken by Drones

If you can't make it to Venice, Istanbul, and Macao this summer, you can experience them via stunning aerial views thanks to drone videographers (and the internet). These forward-thinking photographers travel the world with their remote-controlled flying cameras and capture the world as only a small helicopter with advanced video skills could.

Drones get a bad rap in the press for their more nefarious talents, such as launching military airstrikes in remote places, but they have become more and more common in architecture and urban photography. First-person view, as it is sometimes called, involves cameras mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or radio-controlled aircraft. Perhaps the leader in this art form for architecture is Iwan Baan and his famous aerial shots.

The moment I played the London video clip out of this group posted in this article, I realized that what I was looking at was not only going to revolutionize aerial photography, but all of video photography.  It was stunning.  I hope you have a good time here, as I had fun---and was totally blown away.  You will be too.  It was posted on the architizer.com Internet site on Monday---and is something else that had to wait for today's column.  I thank Roy Stephens for sharing it with us.

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Ex-White House Official - Gold, Capital Controls---and Inflation: King World News

Former presidential adviser and Plunge Protection Team member Philippa Malmgren tells King World News that governments have an interest in suppressing the price of gold and silver and in otherwise blocking the exits from currency devaluation as official inflation figures begin to be exposed as lies.

This interview was posted on the King World News website yesterday---and I thank Chris Powell for wordsmithing the above paragraph of introduction.

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New York Sun: Krugman's kryptonite

The journalistic establishment's refusal to engage in an honest and candid discussion of gold's place in the international financial system was ridiculed brilliantly in an editorial in The New York Sun on Friday, which targeted New York Times columnist Paul Krugman particularly.

"Put a piece of specie next to Mr. Krugman and he shrivels up and like Superman on a slab from Krypton," the Sun writes, "It wouldn't surprise us were Mr. Krugman to keep his Nobel 'gold medal' in a lead-lined case, lest he get woozy when he walks past it. He calls for analysis? Analyze this: During Bretton Woods, under which the dollar was fixed at a 35th of an ounce of gold, unemployment averaged 4.7 percent. Since then it has averaged above 6 percent. Is that related to the fiat nature of money?"

This editorial was posted on The New York Sun's website---and I found it on the gata.org Internet site.  Once again I thank Chris Powell for writing the above paragraph of introduction.

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New Orleans investment conference will debate gold market manipulation

As always unafraid of controversy, the New Orleans Investment Conference in October will feature a debate on whether central banks manipulate the gold market, with GATA's secretary/treasurer Chris Powell arguing in the affirmative---and Casey Research founder Doug Casey arguing in the negative.

The debate will be moderated by money manager, financial commentator, and fellow conference speaker Adrian Day.

The rest of this GATA release from yesterday falls into the must read category.

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Rick Rule sounds suspicious about gold market manipulation

Sprott Asset Management's Rick Rule told financial letter writer Jay Taylor this week that he doesn't want to believe in conspiracies to manipulate the gold market but is "very impressed by the amount of data" GATA has collected.

Rule said the heavy selling of gold and silver at illiquid times in the market suggests attempts to drive prices down. If the LIBOR interest rate could be manipulated, Rule added, it would be much easier to manipulate the gold and silver markets, which are much smaller.

The interview with Rule is, at this moment, the third item on the audio page of Taylor's Internet site, jaytaylormedia.com---and Rick's comments on gold market manipulation begin at the 16:20 mark.  This is definitely worth your time as well, dear reader.  The pattern for Rick's tin-foil hat is at the millinery on Savile Row at this very moment.

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India's anti-gold rules to stay in place - Finance Secretary

In a major blow to the Indian bullion industry, the Finance Ministry has ruled out easing its curbs on gold imports any time soon. India's retail sector has been seeking the softening of import duty for some time now.

Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram told a media gathering on Thursday, during an industry and government meeting organised by industry chamber Assocham, that the government would consider easing the norms at some time in the future, when it was more comfortable with the current account deficit (CAD) situation and could start earning more from other exports.

Though CAD had fallen significantly in 2013-14, India's apex bank RBI has noted that potential risks could emanate from both domestic and global factors.

He made it clear that India could not afford 1,000 tonnes of gold import at a bill of $55 billion any more.

This gold-related news item, filed from Mumbai,  showed up on the mineweb.com Internet site yesterday--and it's definitely worth reading.

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China gold exchange gains traction as yuan reforms stir interest

China's planned global gold exchange has signed up more members than targeted, as foreign banks and trading houses seek direct access to the world's top physical gold consumer and to test out reforms allowing them to trade commodities in the yuan currency.

The strong response from foreign players will boost efforts by China -- also the world's biggest producer of gold -- to gain pricing power over the metal and to challenge the dominance of London and New York in trading.

This Reuters article, filed from Singapore, showed up on their website at 3:20 p.m. IST on their Friday afternoon---and it's anther gold-related news item I found on the gata.org Internet site.

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This surprising metal, palladium, is crushing gold

While everyone is staring at gold, one surprising precious metal is trouncing it: palladium.

The metal is up 22 percent this year, and earlier this week, it made 13-year highs as it broke above $900 per troy ounce. Gold, meanwhile, is only up 5 percent in 2014.

And according to David Seaburg, head of equity sales trading at Cowen &  Co., the palladium run isn’t over just yet.

“Depletion of the Russian inventory has been a big issue,” said Seaburg. That country is the world’s largest palladium producer.

And Russia could make it an even bigger issue if the choose to do so---and they just might, as I said before, if push really becomes shove.  This article appeared on the finance.yahoo.com Internet site at 5:23 p.m. EDT on Thursday afternoon---and I thank Elliot Simon for digging it up on our behalf.

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Netherlands refuses to return Crimean Scythian gold to Russia or Ukraine

The Allard Pierson Museum of Amsterdam has reported that it has decided not to return the exhibits which were on display at the exhibition "Crimea: a golden island in the Black Sea" either to Ukraine or to Russia for the time being.

In a statement, the museum said that it planned to wait for a legal investigation into the problem to be completed before taking further steps. “This matter [of to whom the treasure should be returned, to Kiev or to Crimea] is both unique and complex. The Allard Pierson Museum felt it was important to investigate the matter thoroughly and find a solution.” “The Allard Pierson Museum will abide by a ruling by a qualified judge or arbitrator, or further agreement between parties,” the museum adds.

The exhibition opened at the Allard Pierson Museum of the archeological museum at Amsterdam University in early February. It featured collections from five museums - one in Kiev and four in Crimea - and displayed over 500 archeological finds that included artifacts of Scythian gold, a ceremonial helmet, precious stones, swords, armor, and ancient Greek and Scythians household items

This amazing ITAR-TASS article, posted on the Russia Beyond the Headlines website on Friday Moscow time---and I thank Roy Stephens for his final offering in today's column.  It's definitely worth reading.

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Aug 22, 2014

The Schizophrenic U.S. Housing Market in One Chart

For those who are looking for just one chart with which to summarize the U.S. housing market, here it is courtesy of the NAR, which earlier today reported July existing home sales, which despite beating expectations, were still 4.3% below the 5.38 million annualized homes sold a year ago.

The chart shows that while the housing market for the low-end continues to collapse (the 12.9% drop was "only" -12% three months ago), and the mid-range is virtually frozen, all the upside activity, activity which pushes the median price ever higher ( in July it was $222,900, 4.9% percent above July 2013 and the 29th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains), was in the ultra-luxury segment, or houses which cost over $1 million as the "1%", both foreign and domestic, continues to convert their pieces of fiat paper into hard real-estate assets.

That's all there is to this brief article that appeared on the Zero Hedge website yesterday---and the chart is definitely worth the trip.  I thank reader M.A. for today's first story.

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Philly Fed Surges to Highest Since March 2011 Despite Plunge in Jobs and New Orders

Philly Fed has beaten expectations for 6 months in a row with its biggest surge since the 2009 lows. Against expectations of 19.3, Philly Fed printed 28.0 - highest since March 2011 all-time highs. All sounds awesome right? Ummm, no, as 7 of 9 internal declined including - New Orders tanked, Employment tumbled, Prices Paid plunged, and Prices Received slumped.

So, in case you were wondering how it is possible that Philly Fed surged given such shitty internals, the 6-month forecast index ("hope") just surged to 22-year highs. And not only that: put all hopes of that long-delayed CapEx renaissance on hold: "While most broad indicators of future growth have been improving, the survey’s future capital spending index has been slipping. Although the index decreased just 1 point this month, its reading, at 17.5, is now the lowest it has been in seven months."

Look forward to Yellen talking soon about lack of capital spending as a pretext to keep ZIRP on for much, much longer.

The three charts embedded in this second Zero Hedge story are also worth a quick look---and today's second story is also courtesy of reader M.A.

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New York Sun: The mystery of Jackson Hole

In commentary headlined "Mystery of Jackson Hole," The New York Sun today reflects on the wreckage of the United States economy as the annual economic conference of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City convenes at the famous Wyoming resort. The Sun writes:

"Savers have been devastated. The market isn't what it seems. No one wants to lend and no one wants to borrow. Unemployment is still above where it was when Congress gave the Fed a mandate to bring it down. A new Fed chairman has made jobs her signature. But will anyone at Jackson Hole ask whether it is the fiat nature of our money that got us into this hole in the first place?"

This short editorial appeared on The New York Sun website yesterday--and it's definitely worth reading.  I found it over at the gata.org Internet site.

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Nobel guru fears it may be nigh impossible to stop deflation

A quick word from Lindau, where half the world's Nobel economists are gathered on a beautiful island with cobbled streets on Lake Constance, looking out across the Alps. It is a Wittlesbach jewel.

Christopher Sims – a monetary expert, who now thinks money indicators have been rendered "essentially obsolete" by modern finance – says it may be impossible to reverse deflation in the Western economies by any normal means, in which case we are in trouble.

He argues that the public (including investors) are convinced that there will have to be some sort of payback for all the debts accumulated during the great era of leverage and excess. They have "internalised" the prospect of future tax rises and spending that will make them feel poorer.

"Some 60pc of people in the U.S. say they doubt there will be any government benefits for them when they retire, and 60pc of those already retired think their benefits will be reduced," he said.

This Ambrose Evans-Pritchard blog showed up on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site yesterday sometime---and it's the first offering of the day from Roy Stephens.

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High-frequency trading critic Chilton joins HFT lobby effort

Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, who famously blasted high-frequency traders as "cheetahs" when he was a regulator, has gone to work with a leading high-frequency trading association, the group said Thursday.

The switch is a dramatic example of a regulator becoming a paid consultant for an industry he once criticized—and it says as much about how the high-frequency trading industry is changing its approach as it does about Washington's often-criticized revolving door.

Chilton, who left the CFTC earlier this year, joined the law and lobbying firm of DLA Piper as a senior policy advisor in April. On Thursday, the Modern Markets Initiative announced that Chilton and DLA Piper will work with the association's newly appointed CEO Bill Harts on "regulatory and public policy matters."

Both Ted Butler and I thought he was a good guy until we realized that although he talked the talk, there was no way he was ever going to walk the walk.  Now he's just another paid whore for Wall Street.  This 2:39 minute video clip, plus transcript, was posted on the CNBC website very early Thursday morning EDT---and I thank Dr. Dave Janda for passing it around yesterday.

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Chuck Hagel Goes Full Fearmonger: "ISIS Poses Greater Threat Than 9/11, Prepare For Everything"

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talks about the "imminent threat" ISIS poses to the US and the World.. .and pulls no punches in his total fearmongering..."ISIL poses a threat greater than 9/11. ISIL is as sophisticated and well funded as any group we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology with a sophisticated strategic and tactical military prowess and they're tremendously well-funded. This is way beyond anything we have seen. We must prepare for everything. Get Ready!"

Time for some QE-funded deficit-busting war spending...

Or maybe it's just a warning for the next big false-flag operation, such as a 9/11 redux---except maybe in several countries at once, dear reader.  We'll find out soon enough I would think.  This is another Zero Hedge posting---and it appeared on their website at 4:47 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon.  I thank reader 'David in California' for sending it.  Then there's this related ZH piece headlined "Rick Perry "ISIS Could Be in U.S., Need to Be Eliminated Now"" that David sent as well.

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‘Only’ American fighter within Kiev forces dies in battle in East Ukraine

The only American known to have joined a volunteer unit within the Ukrainian military, fighting the anti-government forces in the country’s east, has been killed in action, authorities confirm.

The killed fighter is Mark Paslawsky, a New York-born 55-year-old investment banker and US army veteran who took Ukrainian citizenship just before joining the Donbas battalion - a volunteer unit fighting alongside Kiev troops - in April. He adopted codename ‘Franko’ there.

News of his death came in an August 20 Facebook post by Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko, who said four fighters of the Donbas battalion died in a battle near the town of Ilovaysk, 35km from Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

Among those dead is a Ukrainian citizen of American origin, codename ‘Franko’,” Gerashchenko wrote.

This news item, filed from Moscow, showed up on the Russia Today Internet site at 10:48 a.m. Moscow time on Thursday morning, which was 2:48 a.m. in New York.  I thank Roy Stephens for sending it.

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Red Cross Warns Against Indiscriminate Attacks in Ukraine's Populated Areas

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday called on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine to avoid selecting military targets in populated areas and carrying out indiscriminate attacks, the ICRC statement said.

"Equally, each party to the conflict must, to the extent feasible, avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited, as is the use of weapons which by their nature are indiscriminate, i.e. which cannot distinguish between civilians and objects on the one hand and military objectives on the other,” the statement read.

This story, filed from Moscow, was posted on the RIA Novosti website at 8:59 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Ukraine border guards begin checks on Russian aid trucks

Ukrainian border guards began on Thursday to inspect a Russian truck convoy carrying aid earmarked for humanitarian relief in eastern Ukraine that has been stranded at the frontier between the two former Soviet republics for nearly a week.

Kiev believes the convoy of some 260 trucks, carrying water, food and medicines, could prove a Trojan horse for Russia to get weapons to pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces in the region - a notion that Moscow has dismissed as absurd.

"I can confirm that at 2:15 p.m. (1115 GMT/7.15 a.m. EDT) the Ukrainian side began border-customs formalities relating to the Russian humanitarian cargo," border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Reuters.

Asked on whose territory the cargo was, he replied: "On the territory of the Russian border point."

This Reuters story is datelined 4:42 p.m. EDT yesterday afternoon---so it's obviously been edited, as Roy Stephens sent it to me at 12:55 a.m. EDT.

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Moscow Urges to Prevent Disruptions of Aid Delivery, Warns of Provocations

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday called on all parties concerned to prevent any disruptions in the delivery of Russian humanitarian cargo to eastern Ukraine.

“The most important task for now is to ensure that the convoy reaches its destination point without any disruptions,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Russian side reiterates its firm security guarantees. Similar guarantees have also been provided by the Ukrainian authorities and the militia.”

The ministry also warned of “possible provocations aimed at disrupting the delivery of aid.”

Ukraine’s National Security Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said earlier today that Kiev had no information on when the Russian humanitarian aid convoy can enter the country.

This article appeared on the RIA Novosti website at 8:39 p.m. Moscow time on their Thursday evening---and it's another contribution from Roy Stephens.

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Meeting Between Russian, Ukrainian Presidents Step Toward De-Escalation – Lawmaker

A meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents slated for August 26 in the Belarusian capital of Minsk is a step forward in de-escalating the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s lower house speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Thursday.

“The Minsk meeting is one of the stages to de-escalating this conflict," State Duma Speaker Naryshkin said.

Naryshkin stressed that the de-escalation of the Ukrainian conflict requires establishing a dialogue involving “all the political powers and all the regions of the country.”

On Tuesday, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration Valeriy Chaliy said the coming two weeks would be decisive for a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, and that Kiev wants to resolve the conflict through diplomacy.

This is another article from the RIA Novosti website.  This one showed up at 1:18 p.m. Moscow time yesterday---and I thank reader M.A. for sending it along.

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No Brie for Moscow as Cheese Stacks Up in France on Ban

At Alexander Krupetskov’s one-window cheese store in central Moscow, sales of products from France have tripled in the past two weeks.

Shoppers are stocking up on foods set to become scarce after Russia banned a range of products from the European Union and the U.S. in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine. The nation of 143 million has been one of the fastest-growing export markets for French cheesemakers as Moscovites acquire a taste for creamy brie, pungent Camembert and spicy Roquefort.

“The very foundation of the shop has been cast into major doubt,” said Krupetskov, who has four weeks of inventory left.

This Bloomberg article, co-filed from Paris and Moscow, appeared on their website at 4:52 a.m. Denver time yesterday morning---and I thank Roy Stephens for sending it our way.

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‘Zero effect’, if E.U. asks to stop trade with Russia – Brazil

Brazil has not received a request from the E.U. to halt increasing exports to Russia, but if it does, Brasilia wouldn’t care, Ambassador Antonio Jose Vallim Guerreiro told a news conference in Moscow Thursday.

"No E.U. official has approached the leadership of Brazil with such an initiative of the sort yet," as ITAR-TASS quotes the ambassador.

Guerreiro is certain that even if there were a request from the E.U., its effects would be "equal to zero."

He said he was aware of reports saying the E.U. leadership might ask Brazil to refrain from taking its share of the Russian market. Brazil’s leaders have no leverage to influence businesses or put pressures on them, he added.

This Russia Today story was posted on their website at 11:52 a.m. Thursday morning Moscow time---and it's the second-last contribution of the day from Roy Stephens.  RIA Novosti had their story on this issue as well.  It's headlined "Brazil Hopes to Increase Trade With Russia – Ambassador"---and this represents the final offering of the day from Roy.

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Russian Rocket Engines Delivered to U.S. Despite Escalating Tensions

Two Russian-built rocket engines have arrived in the U.S. aboard a giant Antonov cargo plane despite fears that tensions between the U.S. and Russia could disrupt the supply of engines needed to launch U.S. satellites into space.

"Today, United Launch Alliance received two RD-180 engines at our factory in Decatur, Alabama, that will support critical near-term U.S. missions," Jessica Rye, spokeswoman for the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp, said Wednesday. ULA uses the Russian engines to help launch a range of NASA and other government satellites into space.

Rye said the deliveries occurred as scheduled, bringing the company's current inventory of RD-180 engines to 15. Three additional rockets are due to arrive this fall, she said.

For now, Washington remains dependent on the Russian engines since it could take years and billions of dollars to design and build a U.S.-built alternate engine, according to U.S. government officials and industry executives.

Can you spell hypocrisy?  So much for the all that talk from the U.S. government.  This Reuters article was picked up by themoscowtimes.com Internet site at 8:55 a.m. Moscow time on their Thursday morning.

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Council on Foreign Relations: The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s – Not Putin’s – Fault

We’ve previously reported that it’s the West’s encirclement of Russia – breaking a key promise which led to the break-up of the Soviet Union – which is behind the Ukraine crisis.

We’ve also noted that the U.S. State Department spent more than $5 billion dollars in pushing Ukraine towards the West.  The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine (Geoffrey Pyatt) and assistant Secretary of State (Victoria Nuland) were also recorded plotting the downfall of the former Ukraine government in a leaked recorder conversation.  Top-level U.S. officials literally handed out cookies to the protesters who overthrew the Ukrainian government.

And the U.S. has been doing everything it can to trumpet pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian propaganda. So – without doubt – the U.S. government is heavily involved with fighting a propaganda war regarding Ukraine.

Now the news is starting to go mainstream---specifically, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is a very mainstream, hawkish group.  CFR’s flagship publication – Foreign Affairs – has just published a piece blaming the Ukraine crisis on the West.  The piece by John Mearsheimer – in it’s September/October 2014 issue.

This commentary appeared on the Zero Hedge website at 12:56 p.m. EDT yesterday---and it's a must read---especially for all serious students of the New Great Game.  I thank reader M.A. for bringing this article to our attention.

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Robert Fisk: Middle East crisis---We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

For centuries, governments told their soldiers and their people to “Know Your Enemy”. The problem with the Isis “Caliphate” – and it is a big problem for President Obama after journalist James Foley’s murder – is that we don’t know who it is. We are told of its butchery, cruelty, its kidnapping of women, its burying alive, its viciousness towards Christians and Yazidis and its public beheadings, but that is all. Even the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, comes across as a mad combination of the Mahdi who murdered Gordon of Khartoum, the assassinated Osama bin Laden and Oliver Cromwell, who did to the civilians of Drogheda what the Muslim Lord Protector al-Baghdadi has done to his enemies.

Foley’s ritual slaughter is enough to dissuade even the most foolhardy of journalists from seeking an interview with al-Baghdadi. Never before in the Middle East has so much land been out of bounds to the Western media. So ignorant are we of this Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – a dark land in which the reports we see of it are their own phone videos – that the Obamas, Camerons and Hammonds can only gnash their teeth at this unspeakable enemy. Easy reaction – but not much to go on. Yet Isis knows how to do one thing: confront Obama with his very own hostage problem, the same conundrum Tony Blair faced when Ken Bigley appeared before the video lens. Do you ignore the warnings, thus proving that you don’t care about your individual citizens when undertaking military operations – which is the truth – or do you turn into Jimmy Carter, curtsy to every whim of your enemies, go down on one knee and tell the Pentagon to “Hold it right there”?

Now Obama has seen the next American reporter threatened with beheading. Will he blink? He can’t, can he?

This opinion piece showed up on the independent.co.uk Internet site on Wednesday---and it's a disturbing read.  I thank South African reader B.V. for this contribution to today's column.

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Three King World News Blogs

1. Egon von Greyerz [#1]: "Swiss Gold Repatriation to Send Shock Waves in Gold Market"  2. Gerald Celente: "E-mail Exposes Scary Economic Collapse in the U.S."  2. Egon von Greyerz [#2]: "We Are Just Beginning to Experience a Global Hyperinflation"

[Please direct any questions or comments about what is said in these interviews by either Eric King or his guests to them, and not to me. Thank you. - Ed]

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Infographic: The world's largest diggers

There's some really gigantic mining equipment out there---and there are four of them presented in this article that showed up on the mining.com Internet site yesterday---and I thank reader M.A. for his final contribution to today's column.

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Transnistria to Introduce Plastic Circulation Coins

The Transnistrian Republican Bank have announced that they will issue new currency units that will be made of composite materials. The currency items are primarily being issued to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the national currency. The composite material or Plastic coins will have a different geometric shape and color depending on denomination.

The four coins, from one ruble to ten rubles are to replace the banknotes of the same denomination. The Press office of the Bank have indicated that the new money will combine the best qualities of both coins and banknotes with high wear resistance and a wide range of security features. The Press office have also indicated that the coins for use in Transnistria were developed in Russia.

I thought plastic 'paper money' was scraping the bottom of the barrel, but now this!  This article appeared on the coinupdate.com website yesterday---and it's an interesting, but depressing, read.  I thank West Virginia reader Elliot Simon for finding it for us.

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U.S. Mint platinum coins bypassed in rush for gold

Five months after the U.S. Mint began producing coins made with platinum, sales have all but collapsed as investors continue to favor gold and silver.

“It’s not considered a currency,” said Jason Carstensen, a medical-sales representative in Ventura, California, who spends about $2,000 a month on coins. Gold and silver have value as hedges against a devaluation of the dollar, while platinum is viewed as an industrial commodity, he said.

The Mint, which resumed production of platinum coins in March after a six-year halt, has sold 13,600 ounces this year, including zero in July. By comparison, the Mint sold 313,500 ounces of gold coins and 27.71 million ounces of silver, fueled by concern that the Federal Reserve is inflating the economy with paper money to stimulate growth.

Yep, the new 2014 platinum eagle has been a bust.  At this mintage rate, they may cancel the program entirely before the years is out---and then it might be a collector's item some day.  This Bloomberg article found a home over at the mineweb.com Internet site on Thursday sometime---and it's the second offering in a row from Elliot Simon.

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What if China, Russia Succeed in Going off the Dollar? -- Alasdair Macleod

Alasdair Macleod writes the blog financeandeconomics.org. His research aims to explain the relationship between the dollar and gold, and to warn investors about the biggest threats to their wealth from macro-economic events. 

Besides what the Fed is doing by printing money, there is another big threat to the dollar, said Alasdair. Countries in Asia are banding together in order to rid themselves of using the dollar in international trade.

He also warned that credible allegation of misconduct at the London bullion exchange could accelerate the trend of Shanghai becoming the world’s trading hub for gold.

This short, but very interesting read/interview was posted under the Sprott's Thoughts banner over on the sprottglobal.com Internet site yesterday---and it's worth your while.

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