UK Scrambles 7 Fighter Jets To Intercept Russian Aircraft

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said this week it had scrambled Typhoon fighter jets after four separate groups of aircraft were detected in international airspace near the Baltics by NATO air defenses. The British jets intercepted seven Russian military aircraft that, as Reuters reports, did not file a flight plan and did not use their transponders, making them invisible to civilian air traffic control and a safety hazard to commercial air traffic. “The Russian aircraft were monitored by the RAF Typhoons and escorted on their way,” noted the ministry. This follows an event last Thursday when Latvia said NATO fighters had scrambled a record four times after a total of 16 Russian military planes were spotted close to the country’s air space.

 

As Reuters reports,

Britain said on Wednesday it had scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept seven Russian military aircraft flying near the Baltic states, as tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine remained high.

 

A NATO official said the Russian aircraft were armed and in the vicinity of NATO airspace.

 

They did not file a flight plan and did not use their transponders, making them invisible to civilian air traffic control and a safety hazard to commercial air traffic, which was why NATO had intercepted them, he said.

 

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday it had launched the Typhoons on Tuesday after four separate groups of aircraft were detected in international airspace near the Baltics by NATO air defences.

 

It said the aircraft had been identified as a Russian Tupolev Tu-22 bomber, four Sukhoi Su-27 fighters, one Beriev A-50 early warning aircraft, and an Antonov An-26 transport aircraft.

 

They appeared to be carrying out routine training, it said.

 

“The Russian aircraft were monitored by the RAF Typhoons and escorted on their way,” the ministry said in a statement.

NATO has been building its forces ever since the troubles began…

The alliance last month tripled the number of fighter jets based in the Baltics as part of measures to beef up its defences in eastern Europe following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Britain contributed four Typhoons to the operation.

And this is not the first time…

NATO planes patrolling the Baltics have scrambled repeatedly in the last week in response to sightings of Russian military aircraft.

 

Last Thursday, Latvia said NATO fighters had scrambled a record four times after a total of 16 Russian military planes were spotted close to the country’s air space.

 

Local news agency BNS quoted Latvia’s Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on Monday as saying that the increased activity by Russian military planes was an “intimidation tactic” and a demonstration of power by Russia. “The same tactics are used also in Ukraine and elsewhere,” she said.

 

The incidents may have been connected to military exercises in Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad that Moscow said last week it was holding in response to drills by NATO allies in parts of eastern Europe.

But with stocks at record highs (and expected volatility at record lows), we are sure this is nothing to worry about – go back to the World Cup.




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How “Willy” & “Nicky” Failed To Avert World War I

Originally posted at Agence France Presse,

In the four days before World War I broke out, the Russian tsar and his cousin the German emperor — "Willy" and "Nicky" as they nicknamed each other — traded telegrams in a last-ditch bid to save peace, even as their army chiefs readied for battle.

 

On July 29, 1914, a day after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia's Nicholas II sent the first of these oddly surreal English-language telegrams to Wilhelm II, pledging his affection and commitment to peace.

"I foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure forced upon me and be forced to take extreme measures which will lead to war," read the first message from Nicholas II, sent hours before Russia ordered a general mobilisation that would in turn pull Germany into the war.

"To try and avoid such a calamity as a European war I beg you in the name of our old friendship to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far," the tsar wrote.

Writing the same day, informed that Russia was about to mobilise — a clear casus belli for Germany's army chiefs — Wilhelm II pleaded with his cousin to stay out of the Austria-Serbia conflict.

 

"With regard to the hearty and tender friendship which binds us both from long ago with firm ties, I am exerting my utmost influence to induce the Austrians to deal straightly to arrive to a satisfactory understanding with you," the German wrote, signing off: "Your very sincere and devoted friend and cousin. Willy".

The first two telegrams crossed one another, like most that followed.

"Willy" went on to urge "Nicky" for "Russia to remain a spectator of the Austro-Serbian conflict without involving Europe in the most horrible war she ever witnessed."

Nicholas thanked Wilhelm for his attempts to mediate, and appealed to "the wisdom and friendship" of his German cousin to put an end to Austria's war preparations.

– 'On your shoulders now' –

But on July 30, Wilhelm — having received news that Russia was mobilising its troops — warned Nicholas this would endanger his role as mediator and force Germany to take "preventive measures of defence".

The next day came the admission from Nicholas II that — while he hopes mediation with Vienna can still bear fruit — he was powerless to reverse the military march.

"It is technically impossible to stop our military preparations which were obligatory owing to Austria's mobilisation," he wrote, signing off: "Your affectionate, Nicky".

By this point Wilhelm II had become markedly less affectionate, laying the responsibility for the looming disaster squarely with his cousin.

"The whole weight of the decision lies solely on you(r) shoulders now, who have to bear the responsibility for Peace or War," he wrote on July 30.

"The responsibility for the disaster which is now threatening the whole civilised world will not be laid at my door," he warned the following day, with Berlin poised to enter the war.

Still, Nicholas II seemed to believe until the last that war could be averted, sending an SOS on the morning of August 1 in which he asked Wilhelm II to confirm that Germany's mobilisation did not mark the end of efforts for peace.

"Our long proved friendship must succeed, with God's help, in avoiding bloodshed. Anxiously, full of confidence await your answer. Nicky."

But the die had been cast.

"Willy" replied tersely that he could no longer discuss the matter short of "immediate affirmative clear and unmistakable" message calling off the Russian mobilisation — something he already knew to be impossible.

"As a matter of fact I must request you to immediatly [sic] order your troops on no account to commit the slightest act of trespassing over our frontiers."

That evening, at 7:00 pm, "Willy" declared war on "Nicky" and the "horror", "bloodshed" and "disaster" foretold by the courteous cousins had begun.

 

 




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The Dark Secrets and Ironies of Communists and Communism

The finance and economic literary worlds appear to be going through a kind of Marxist craze. Among other things, this crowd is lecturing the world on how capitalism is to blame for the world’s problems.

 

It’s pretty staggering when you consider that:

 

1)   There is literally no example in history in which Marxism or Communism successfully increased wealth or standards of wellbeing.

2)   There is literally no example in the natural world in which Marxism exists.

 

The biggest monsters in history were Marxists or Communists. Chairman Mao was not a champion of the people. He was a power-crazed, ignorant monster responsible for the death of 60 million people.

 

You could literally kill EVERY human being in the states of California and New York and STILL not measure up to Mao’s track record. Millions of people were enslaved both literally and spiritually by this man.

 

Then of course there is Stalin who oversaw the death of some 40 MILLION people due to his misguided and evil policies. People literally starved to death because of this monster of a human being.

 

Marxism and communism don’t work. They are totally contrary to human nature and basic human rights. The worst human rights offenders in history were communists. In fact, every example of Marxism in history shows that it had to be FORCED on people.

 

Heck, Marx himself was so unpopular during his lifetime that when he died only SEVEN people attended the funeral.

 

Marx, for all his rhetoric on the working class, never started a single business or created a single job in his life. He didn’t work. He just sat around and wrote books about things he never experienced in first person. Four of his seven children died as a direct result of poverty from his failure to provide for his family.

 

This is not conjecture; Marx knew his life choices directly contributed to his family’s suffering and the death of his children.

 

Guess who footed the bill for Marx’s moronic aspirations? A worker: someone who gave up his hopes of being a writer because it didn’t pay and went to work in the private sector. Marx’s writings were LITERALLY funded by the private sector.

 

This is the man revered by communists around the world: someone who let his family starve and die rather than get out of his seat and get a job. A man who literally lived off of others … while writing on and on about worker’s rights.

This is someone we’re supposed to admire and study? This is the man who came up with theories that would make the world a better place?

 

Give me a break.

 

Phoenix Capital Research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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Blaming Deflation

Submitted by Alasdair Macleod of GoldMoney.com,

With the Eurozone going to the extreme of negative interest rates and the IMF belatedly revising downwards their expectations of US economic growth, deflation is now the favored buzzword. It is time to untangle myth from reality and put deflation in context.

Keynesian and monetarist economists commonly use the word to describe the phenomenon of falling prices, or alternatively a rising value for money. Deflation is loosely meant to be the opposite of inflation. But the term inflation originally applied to an increase in the quantities of currency and credit, not to the rise in prices that can be expected to follow. The definition has drifted from cause to supposed effect. Taking its cue from this transfer of definition, deflation is now taken to describe falling prices, usually linked to failing demand, and not a contraction of money in circulation.

Keynes decided that falling prices discourage consumers because they are likely to defer their purchases. He also argued in his Tract on Monetary Reform that deflation benefited the rentier class at the expense of the borrower, calling to mind an image of the idle rich enjoying a windfall at the expense of the hard-working poor. Keynes and his followers subsequently developed this argument against falling prices to justify government intervention as the remedy. No recognition was given to the normal process where stable money leads to lower prices, the hallmark of genuine economic progress. Sound money became tarred with the deflationary brush and ruled out as a desirable objective.

The deflation problem according to another economist, Irving Fisher, is that the losses suffered by businesses from falling prices can lead to collateral being liquidated by the banks, feeding into a debt-liquidation spiral and ultimately banking failure. Fisher was describing the natural response of banks to a widespread slump, and not the normal course of business in a sound money environment.

However, while swallowing Keynes’ and Fisher’s arguments central bankers are ignoring the law of the markets, commonly referred to as Say’s Law. It states that we make things to buy things so you cannot divorce consumption from production, and money is just the temporary lubricant for the process. Tinkering with monetary value solves nothing. This was the accepted wisdom before Keynes turned it on its head in the 1930s. Today governments and central banks think they can do better than markets by monetary intervention and state direction. The result is businesses that should fail are supported and uneconomic activities promoted. And when this support operation shows signs of collapsing, we are told it is deflation.

If the word has any meaning, it is nothing of the sort: markets are merely trying to embrace reality and cleanse themselves of the accumulated distortions. The fact that this cleansing process has been suspended, at least since the Reagan/Thatcher era of the early 1980s, warns us that the accumulation of distortions is great; so great that when they are corrected Irving Fisher’s warning about slumps will be proven to be correct.

The marker of course is the accumulation of debt, which strangles everything. My conclusion is that use of the term deflation is passing off the accumulating problems created by government and monetary interventions as the failure of markets.




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Supreme Court Rules Against Patent Trolls

On Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously
decided that ideas themselves can not be patented
. As

Wired notes
, the ruling is a major blow to patent
trolls and “could prevent some of the most frivolous patent cases
from moving forward.”

Reason TV reported on the issues surrounding patent trolls back
in 2013. “How Patent Trolls Kill Innovation” was originally
released on Feb. 20, 2013 and the original writeup is
below. 

“My statement to someone that is the victim of a patent troll
lawsuit is that you are completely screwed,” says Austin Meyer, who
is himself the target of a so-called “patent troll”
lawsuit. 

Meyer is a software developer and aviation enthusiast. His two
passions intersected in the ’90s when he created a flight simulator
called X-Plane,
which quickly grew in popularity, outlasting even the once-popular
Microsoft Flight Simulator.
 As many software developers
do, Meyer made his application available on mobile devices like the
iPhone and Android. And this is where he first ran into
trouble.

A company called Uniloc has sued Meyer for patent
infringement over a patent called, “System
and Method for Preventing Unauthorized Access to Electronic
Data.”
 When a computer runs a paid application, one way
that developers can assure that a customer has actually purchased
the application is by coding the application to match a license
code with an encrypted database. This is a method that most paid
applications on the Android market use. It’s a method
that Meyer argues has
been in use since at least the late ’80s.
 This is the idea
that Uniloc claims to own.

“A patent troll is a company, a person… who owns patents, but
doesn’t make anything or sell anything,” says Julie Samuels,
an attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at
the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Samuels says that patent trolls are a huge tax on innovation and
add nothing valuable to the marketplace. A study out of Boston
University estimates the direct economic damage that patent trolls
cause to be
around $29 billion a year,
 and this doesn’t account for
hush-hush, off-the-record settlements. But the bigger problem, says
Samuels, is the patent system itself.

“You can’t separate the problem with the patent
troll from the problem with software patents,” says Samuels. “There
are hundreds of thousands of software patents floating around that
are really broad, that are really vague … and a lot of them are
bought up by patent trolls.”

A Yale study found that the U.S. patent office is approving new
software patents at an approximate
rate of 40,000 a year.
 That’s more than 100 new software
patents every day. Tracking every software patent to make sure one
is not in violation would be an utter impossibility without a
full-time team of lawyers on staff.

Uniloc, which purchased the patent in question at a bankruptcy
proceeding, declined an interview request for this piece. But on
their website, they brag about a victory over software giant
Microsoft resulting
in $388 million in damages
 (though this amount was later
lowered in an appeals court). Despite the enormous risk, and the
enormous cost just to defend against a patent suit, Meyer is
resolved to do so.

“I will not simply give somebody money that endorses the idea
that they should sue people for doing something amazing,” says
Meyer. “It must be stopped at some point.”

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How Americans Spend Their Day: Less Work, More Sleep And TV

It was about a year ago when we were surprised to learn that when it comes to spending their average day, American adults (15+, male and female), the typical American spent just over 3 hours per day working, less than the time allotted to eating/drinking and watching TV. The most time-consuming activity, not surprisingly, was sleep, taking up just over a third of the day, following by leisure and sports to which Americans devote over 5 hours a day.

This week the BLS released its latest "American Time Use Survey" and unlike last year, this time we were not surprised to learn that not only are Americans far more preoccupied with sleeping and watching TV than working, but they have never slept more and worked less in the past decade. Perhaps in addition to obesity, the ongoing deterioration in the fundamentals of the US economy, already crushed by the Fed's central planning capital misallocation, may have something to do with this latest disturbing trend. Just perhaps.

The hourly breakdown of typical activities the average American engaged in during 2013:

 

The WSJ, when looking at the numbers, reaches the same conclusion: "Americans slept more and worked less last year, reflecting an economy that remains groggy after the recession and an older population with more time to rest."

How has the average US day changed over the past decade:

The trend is ugly, and it's getting worse:

Averaging together both weekdays and weekends, Americans older than 14 slept for eight hours, 44 minutes and conducted work-related activities for three hours, 28 minutes each day, according to the Labor Department's annual American Time Use Survey, released Wednesday. That is 14 minutes less work a day and 10 minutes more sleep than when the survey began a decade earlier, and a bit less work and more sleep than in 2012. 

 

Americans have tended to sleep a bit more and work a bit less each year in the past decade. But the deep recession from 2007 until 2009 appeared to have accelerated the trends.

So if they aren't working what are they doing? Watching TV.

According to the survey, Americans' No. 1 hobby remains watching television. In 2013, respondents said they spent an average of two hours, 46 minutes a day watching TV, 11 minutes more than in 2003 but down slightly from the previous year.

As John P. Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, correctly observes,  "The data defies popular expectations. People say they're too busy for leisure and don't have time to sleep, but that seems not to be the case."

Americans lying about their daily routine? Unpossible.

The numbers are collected from about 11,400 individuals via phone interviews where participants are asked to reconstruct a diary of the previous day. Participants are selected to ensure estimates are nationally representative, the Labor Department said.

WSJ's conclusion: "It is difficult to grasp precisely why people have shifted how they spend their days. But demographics and economics play a large role."

Actually, it's not that difficult at all, and the following chart showing the number of hours spent sleeping (a cycle high), compared a work (a cycle low) shows pretty much all you need to know.

So less work, more sleep: with increasing automation, an ever older population and an economy that is still mired in a deep depression only masked by the global central planners' attempts at reflating asset prices and generating a "confidence boosting" wealth effect for some, and welfare for others, this is hardly surprising.

However, perhaps what is most interesting, and what is best known by a regime whose survival depends on preserving confidence in the system, is that as a result of all of the above, the amount of time spent by Americans and by the entire developed, if insolvent, world in front of the TV, is now at an all time high.

Here is Goldman's take on this phenomenon:

From a media perspective, older demographics watch more TV but advertisers are keener on younger audiences – in particular young males with disposable incomes. We believe that this could change, as older demographics are more tech savvy and engage with social media and innovations such as second screen applications. As targeted advertising becomes more widespread, advertisers may come to value older demographics more. BSkyB is in the process of implementing Ad-Smart, a targeted advertising service which marries subscriber data with bought-in public records and credit data. This should allow advertisers to serve different commercials to individual households.

There's that. And there is also the much simpler question of pure propaganda blasting at everyone 24/7 on some 1000 cable channels.

 

Some of the more stunning details from the BLS study:

Employed persons worked an average of 7.6 hours on the days they worked. More hours were worked, on average, on weekdays than on weekend days—7.9 hours compared with 5.5 hours.

 

On the days they worked, employed men worked 53 minutes more than employed women. This difference partly reflects women's greater likelihood of working part time. However, even among full-time workers (those usually working 35 hours or more per week), men worked longer than women—8.3 hours compared with 7.7 hours.

 

On the days they worked, 83 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at their workplace and 23 percent did some or all of their work at home. They spent more time working at the workplace than at home—7.9 hours compared with 3.0 hours.

 

Multiple jobholders were more likely to work on an average day than were single jobholders— 77 percent compared with 67 percent.

 

Household Activities in 2013

 

On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours.

 

On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework—such as cleaning or doing laundry—compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-two percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women.

 

Leisure Activities in 2013

 

On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (95 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Of those who engaged in leisure activities, men spent more time in these activities (5.9 hours) than did women (5.2 hours).

 

Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for 43 minutes per day.

 

Time spent reading for personal interest and playing games or using a computer for leisure varied greatly by age. Individuals age 75 and over averaged 1.0 hour of reading per weekend day and 20 minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure. Conversely, individuals ages 15 to 19 read for an average of 4 minutes per weekend day and spent 52 minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure.




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Reason’s Best Marijuana Content, as Compiled by Ed Krayewski and Nick Gillespie

illo from a 1978 story by Thomas SzaszThe first issue
of Reason magazine came out in 1968,
so Reason is older than the War on Drugs kicked
off by Richard Nixon in 1971. As this month’s drug war-themed issue
illustrates, the movement to end drug prohibition has some serious
momentum. A look through our archives, however, shows that
America’s slide into an environment where government restrictions
on the right to use certain substances started long before Nixon’s
“drug war” and it’s been a long slog out of that often too deadly
pattern. Ed Krayewski and Nick Gillespie compiled some of the best
material Reason has on marijuana, from the print archives and
Reason TV.

View this article.

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The Great Medication: Sri-Kumar Blasts, “The Fed Has Been Wrong Everytime!”

As Komal Sri-Kumar points out in this harsh (but fair) discussion of the Fed, (as Tim Iacono notes) the central bank’s abysmal track record on forecasting economic growth and how they have a fantastic track record for “taking the punch bowl away” far too slowly should worry all. “The Fed has been wrong every time on its growth forecast and overly optimistic,” Sri-Kumar rants, adding that “the Fed is wrong in terms of its  benevolence to the markets.” The current environment reminds him of early 2008 noting there are “lots of characteristics which are similar and it worries me a lot.” Simply out, “they’ve had five years of quantitative easing, big bond purchases, quintupling of the Fed balance sheet. And we don’t have sustainable economic growth,” but the great medication is not working, and “the remedy is that you have to take the shock.”

 

 

Transcript with Bloomberg’s Tom Keene:

Q: What was the key moment within the Janet Yellen news conference on Wednesday?

A: I think the key moment was at 2:47 pm. She essentially said the punchbowl is there and she’s simply not going to take it away. I don’t think they’re going to raise interest rates at the end of 2015 either because the Fed has been wrong every time on its growth forecast and overly optimistic. And as growth disappoints in the second half of the year, I think the rate increases are going to be postponed.

Q: Here is a quote from you after the FOMC meeting: ‘Why are we allowing supposedly ‘emergency measures’ introduced in 2008 to go into their seventh year? What will the Fed do when there is a true shock – increase bond purchases to 100 gazillion, to 250 gazillion?’ This was a substantial takeaway on what the Fed has gotten wrong. What’s the remedy right now?

A: The remedy is that you have to take the shock. You have to stop quantitative easing. You have to have a symbolic increase in interest rates. The Federal funds rate has to go up 1/4 or 1/2 a percent. It will cause a shock to the market. It will bring down equities. It will cause bond yields to rise. Take that medicine now or be prepared to take a much stronger medicine later on when the illness gets worse.

Q: Given the fact that we have unemployment at 6.3 percent, that’s good. We have inflation moving up in terms of the CPI, close to 2.1 percent, that’s good. Why is Yellen still keeping the punchbowl here?

A: She’s keeping the punchbowl because she’s worried about the long-term unemployed. She realizes that the 6.3 percent unemployment rate is largely because of the falling participation rate. She knows there is a lot of pain. And that’s where I think the change comes. That’s where I think the Fed is wrong in terms of its  benevolence to the markets.

Q: Is this a bull market you can believe in? Or is it a house of cards developed by not just Chair Yellen but BOE Governor Mark Carney and the other central banks?

A: That’s a great question. I would say this reminds me so much of the first half of 2008. Oil prices were very high and growth prospects were said to be doing very well and everybody was feeling very complacent about the overall in May and June. The ECB raised interest rates in July of 2008 thinking inflation was the major risk. We have lots of characteristics which are similar and it worries me a lot.

Q: You have been persistent in a call for subdued global economic growth combined with a little inflation. What do the optimists get wrong?

A: The optimists expect that the monetary growth, the quantitative easing, will produce economic growth at a rapid pace. Sometimes when you take a medication and it hasn’t worked for five years, you better change your medication. But that’s essentially the error with the optimists. They’ve had five years of quantitative easing, big bond purchases, quintupling of the Fed balance sheet. And we don’t have sustainable economic growth. Why not say you need a different medication? We started out with a zero interest rate in 2008 and we have evidence again and again from Robert Mandel, Milton Friedman, that monetary policy is ineffective at very low interest rate levels. The other problem is unemployment is becoming structural. That means long-term unemployment cannot be changed via monetary policy.

Q: What kind of short-term fixes are on the table?

A: I don’t think there are any short-term fixes. Especially after five years of not having done much. I’ll go one step further beyond fiscal policy. If you’re saying just spend more money and that will create jobs, we tried doing it in 2009 and 2010. It’s just not going to happen.




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