Dutch Send 40 Unarmed Military Police “Forensic Experts” To MH17 Crash Site

In an effort to make the MH17 crash site safer, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has announced that he will be sending 40 unarmed military police. As AP reports, the military police will help the investigators (along with forensic experts) “to look for remaining remains and personal belongings” and “to try to piece together exactly what happened.” While pro-Russian separatists have ensured the site is a safe place for the Dutch investigators (who have been given the lead role since Holland was so hard hit), Rutte acknowledged that it “remains a risky place to work,” and “will constantly reassess the situation.”

As AP reports, The Netherlands is sending 40 unarmed military police to eastern Ukraine as part of a ramped-up effort to find the last victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 still at the wreckage site, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced late Thursday.

The Netherlands has been given the lead in the investigation into what exactly happened to Flight 17 and is taking charge of efforts to identify the dead. This nation of 17 million was the hardest hit, with 194 of its citizens on board the plane.

 

Rutte said he would also be sending more forensic experts to the scene in the coming days to speed up the investigation that was hampered in its early stages because it was considered too dangerous to work there.

 

He acknowledged that the region of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists remains a risky place to work.

 

He also is sending forensic investigators to the site to try to piece together exactly what happened when the plane was shot down a week ago, killing all 298 people on board.

Rutte said the military police will help the investigators.

“They are really looking like the forensic experts,” he said. “They will be extra hands and eyes to look for remaining remains and personal belongings.”

 

 

“For tomorrow, we expect our people to be able to conduct the work necessary,” he said. “But we will constantly reassess the situation.”

 

He added, “we are looking into ways to make the crash site safer.”

Rutte said he would not rest until he has brought the perpetrators to justice.

“I’m extremely motivated to find out what happened, who did this,” he said, “And as soon as we know, I will do everything in my power — even if it is the last thing I do in this job — to make sure we bring them to justice.”

His comments Thursday came hours after two military planes carrying 74 coffins landed at a military base in the Netherlands. A day earlier, the two military transport planes — one Dutch and one Australian — brought back the first 40 coffins and more flights were planned for Friday.

Thousands of people have turned out to watch the convoys of hearses drive from the Eindhoven Air Base to a military barracks in the central city of Hilversum, where the remains will be identified by an international team of experts.




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Colorado Spends Millions to Perform 7 Percent of Expected Gun Background Checks

PistolAmidst much debate, and the
ultimate recall
of two gun-controlling state senators (and

resignation
of a third), Colorado lawmakers inflicted tighter
gun laws on their suffering constituents last year. Among those
laws was a requirement
that all private transfers of firearms go through a background
check of the sort already imposed on commercial transactions.
Lawmakers estimated that 420,000 background checks would pass
through the system over the first two years, and allocated $3
million for the cause.

As it turns out, the background check shop is in place, but
there aren’t so many customers for the new bureaucracy. According
to the
Associated Press
:

Democrats pushed the proposal into law last year as part of a
package of gun restrictions meant to improve safety after
devastating mass shootings. Lawmakers drafting the background check
requirement, aimed at keeping firearms away from those with a
criminal history, relied on information from a non-partisan
research arm of the Legislature that predicted about 420,000 new
reviews over the first two years. Accordingly, they budgeted about
$3 million to the agency that conducts the checks to handle the
anticipated surge of work.

But after a year of operating under the new system, Colorado
Bureau of Investigations officials have performed only about 13,600
reviews considered a result of the new law — about 7 percent of the
estimated first year total.

That 13,600 figure also includes gun show sales, which were
already required and not part of the expected flood of checks on
private transfers.

So…Savings, right? Maybe not. The new agency had to be created
after all. It hasn’t filled all of its authorized positions, since
there’s not much to do, but it’s not clear how much of the
allocated money is just sitting around waiting to be diverted to
some other…umm…worthy expenditure.

Are Colorado residents just not that wild about guns? Maybe
there was never much of a need for private background checks after
all. Lawmakers’ estimate was based on a National Institute of
Justice guesstimate that 40 percent of gun transfers are between
private parties. Nobody knows whether that’s even close to
accurate.

Or maybe in a state that
prohibits gun registration
, people knew there was no possible
way for officials to track the movement of their firearms. So
they’re just ignoring the stupid law.

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"The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall"

It is unclear which aphorism best describes the latest note from Guggenheim’s Scott Minerd:

  • What goes up must come down

or

  • The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

He is referring to what happens to every “bull market”, even the most patently rigged and manipulated ones such as the current one on the back of the Fed’s central planning and global central banks’ financial engineering, following what is now nearly 1000 days without a 10% correction.

From Guggenheim:

The Bigger they Come the Harder they Fall

 

The S&P500 has now gone nearly 800 days since a correction of more than 10 percent – the “meaningful” level for many analysts. The more extended the market becomes, the larger the eventual decline may be. Over the last 50 years, the longer the time between market corrections, the steeper the drop once the correction does occur.

His take:

In his famous speech, [former Fed Chairman William McChesney] Martin preceded his punch bowl comment by saying, on behalf of the Fed, “…precautionary action to prevent inflationary excesses is bound to have some onerous effects…” The flipside — a lack of precautionary action by the Fed — will have its own set of consequences in time. It is very difficult to say when exactly these will happen, but near-term indicators suggest the hangover won’t hit while you’re relaxing at the beach this summer.

Unless it does of course.

But for now, just pretend the nearly 200% move higher from the 666 lows is real and keep kicking the can, because as even the Fed has admitted, once the selling finally begins, not even the Fed will be able to stop it.




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“The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall”

It is unclear which aphorism best describes the latest note from Guggenheim’s Scott Minerd:

  • What goes up must come down

or

  • The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

He is referring to what happens to every “bull market”, even the most patently rigged and manipulated ones such as the current one on the back of the Fed’s central planning and global central banks’ financial engineering, following what is now nearly 1000 days without a 10% correction.

From Guggenheim:

The Bigger they Come the Harder they Fall

 

The S&P500 has now gone nearly 800 days since a correction of more than 10 percent – the “meaningful” level for many analysts. The more extended the market becomes, the larger the eventual decline may be. Over the last 50 years, the longer the time between market corrections, the steeper the drop once the correction does occur.

His take:

In his famous speech, [former Fed Chairman William McChesney] Martin preceded his punch bowl comment by saying, on behalf of the Fed, “…precautionary action to prevent inflationary excesses is bound to have some onerous effects…” The flipside — a lack of precautionary action by the Fed — will have its own set of consequences in time. It is very difficult to say when exactly these will happen, but near-term indicators suggest the hangover won’t hit while you’re relaxing at the beach this summer.

Unless it does of course.

But for now, just pretend the nearly 200% move higher from the 666 lows is real and keep kicking the can, because as even the Fed has admitted, once the selling finally begins, not even the Fed will be able to stop it.




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Q2 Closes With A Durable Goods Whimper And 1.6% Y/Y Drop; Core Capex Orders Revised Much Lower; Shipments Tumble

After tumbling in May by 1.0% which was the biggest drop since the dreaded “polar vortex”, Durable goods in June posted a modest pick up in June rising 0.7%, driven by yet another surge in aircraft and parts which rose by 8.2% for Nondefense aircraft and 15.3% for defense (thank you Russia). And while this beat expectations of a 0.5% increase, it was the first Y/Y drop in Durable goods since February (and since 2013 if one uses unrevised data).

Excluding volatile transportation, Durable Goods rose by 0.8%, also beating the expected 0.5% print, and higher than last month’s 0.1%. Still, the Y/Y change in the category is hardly indicative of sustainable growth in manufacturing production, and certainly smashes any of the ISM and Markit PMI manufacturing surveys indicating an epic renaissance in US production.

 

There was some modest good news in the core capex orders, aka the Capital Goods Shipments non-defense ex air, which rose 1.4%, beating expectations of 0.5%, however, this was at the expense of a major downward revision to the May number which initially had risen 0.7% and now is said to have declined 1.2%, i.e. a more than complete wash.

 

Finally, the piece de resistance confirming the Q2 GDP recovery is once again indefinitely delayed, were core capex shipments, which tumbled -1.0% on expectations of a 0.4% boost, and May revised lower from 0.4% to 0.1%. Stick a fork in actual CapEx.

And now, bring on the downward GDP Q2 revisions…




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Move Over, Oswald: Salon Says Tea Party Types Killed Kennedy

KennedySalon (the “real” news website, not the

hilarious parody Twitter account
), published an infuriating
piece on the Kennedy assassination that adds some unbelievably
off-kilter context to the president’s murder: It was all the fault
of gun-toting right-wing proto-Tea Partiers.

That’s the argument put forth by Heather Digby Parton, a
progressive opinion blogger and winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize
for Opinion and Analysis. Texas conservatives were very mad at
President Kennedy, she writes, and then he was killed, and now we
should be afraid that maybe conservatives are trying to hurt
President Obama. What else are they going to do with their
guns?

Read Digby’s history lesson
for yourself
:

The morning of Nov. 22, the Dallas Morning News featured
a
full-page ad “welcoming” the president to Dallas
.  After a
preamble in which they proclaimed their fealty to the Constitution
and defiantly asserted their right to be conservative, they
demanded to be allowed to “address their grievances.”  They
posed a long series of “when did you stop beating your wife”
questions asking why Kennedy was helping the Communist cause around
the world. …

You get the drift. And you probably recognize the tone. The
subject may have changed somewhat but the arrogant attitude
combined with the aggrieved victimization is a hallmark of
right-wing politics even today.

As we all know, later that day the president was gunned
down in Dealey Plaza.
The entire world was shocked and
traumatized by that event and the course of history was
changed.

So why bring this up today? That was a long time ago and we’ve
moved on from those days, right?  The John Birch Society is a
relic of another time.  Anti-communism is still a rallying cry
on the right, but without the Soviet threat, it’s lost much of its
power.

Unfortunately, the venom, the incoherent conspiracy-mongering,
the visceral loathing still exist.  In fact, in one of the
most obliviously obtuse acts of sacrilege imaginable, Dealey Plaza
is now the regular site of open-carry demonstrations.  That’s
right, a group of looney gun proliferation activists meet regularly
on the site of one of the most notorious acts of gun violence in
the nation’s history to spout right-wing conspiracy theories about
the president while ostentatiouslywaving
around deadly weapons
.

Emphasis added to highlight the part where maybe Digby missed
something. I’m not sure—I’m not a Hillman Prize winner, or
anything—but wasn’t Kennedy murdered by a self-described Marxist
and communist sympathizer who had attempted to defect to the Soviet
Union?

Lest you think I’m exaggerating the extent to which Digby lays
the blame for the Kennedy assassination on the right, she actually
chides Second Amendment supporters for organizing at the site of
the assassination, a place that “should be a monument to right-wing
ignominy,” according to Digby. (As if limited-government and
gun-rights supporters had killed the president, rather than a
Marxist assassin!)

Digby’s false accusations call to mind the rush to blame Sarah
Palin and right-wing “violent rhetoric” for the Gabby Giffords
shooting, even though the would-be assassin turned out to be a
weird conspiracy theorist with zero connection to Palin,
Republicans, or any identifiable political ideology.

Not that that matters to Salon. If Michael Moore blew up the
White House tomorrow, Digby and her ilk would express vindication
that Tea Party activists had finally, violently risen up to take
back their country.

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No Inflation Friday: Dollarized Panama issues price controls for basic goods

shutterstock 134656568 No Inflation Friday: Dollarized Panama issues price controls for basic goods

July 25, 2014
Prague, Czech Republic

Less than four weeks after starting his new job, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela already has a serious challenge to deal with: empty grocery shelves.

This is largely a self-inflicted wound that was bound to happen.

Fresh on the heels of his victory in May, the then President-elect announced that one of his first orders would be to regulate prices for staple food products.

He followed through on his promise, establishing price controls on certain brands of roughly two dozen items like chicken, rice, eggs, and bread.

And within a matter of weeks, many grocery store shelves are already empty, at least for the regulated items.

It’s not quite Venezuela or Cuba where it can be downright impossible to buy a roll of toilet paper. But it’s more proof that price controls almost always backfire.

The larger issue here is why the Panamanian government is controlling prices to begin with. The answer is simple: inflation.

According to the Panamanian government, the price of basic foods rose 4.1% from April 2013 to April 2014.

Over the last five years, in fact, food prices have risen more than 24%.

And when average wages are little more than a few hundred dollars a month, a 24% increase in food prices really hurts.

Now, inflation isn’t a particularly unusual phenomenon in Central America, or in developing countries in general.

But what sets Panama apart is that the country is dollarized.

In its entire 111-year history as a sovereign nation, in fact, Panama has never issued its own currency.

Locals and foreigners alike pay US dollars for goods and services across Panama just as you would in Houston, Jacksonville, or Las Vegas.

This means that the country is subject to all the whims and consequences of US monetary policy; when the Fed conjures money out of thin air, the negative effects are quickly exported to Panama.

Yet while it suffers all of the downside of quantitative easing, Panama enjoys very little of the upside.

Of the jobs that the Fed claims they have created by printing $3.7 trillion over the last few years, zero of those have ended up in Panama.

Not to mention, the Panamanian government doesn’t have an endless supply of foreigners lining up to buy its debt.

So to get a true sense of US dollar inflation… and where it’s headed in the Land of the Free… one only need look at dollarized countries like Panama.

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Europe Unveils Preliminary Sanctions Against Russia

While the preliminary terms of Europe’s Russian sanctions were leaked yesterday, moments ago it was reported that EU ambassadors have reached an agreement on what the “hard-hitting” economic sanctions against Russia would look like even as details remain to still be ironed out ahead of a formal announcement of the final terms next week. According to Reuters, key measures suggested by the Commission include:

  • closing EU capital markets to state-owned Russian banks,
  • an embargo on arms sales to Moscow,
  • restrictions on the supply of energy and dual-use technologies.
  • a list of 15 individuals and 18 entities, including companies, subject to asset freezes for their role in supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and detribalization of eastern Ukraine.

Of course, since France would blow a gasket if its Mistral ship was impacted by the sanctions, and since this really is just another populist measure not intended to really punish Russia (as that would mean a prompt shut off of European gas and an even prompter slide into a triple dip recession if not outright depression), Europe promptly “detoothed” the sanctions by announcing that they would not affect current supplies of oil, gas and other commodities from Russia, diplomats said.

As the map below shows, there is a dispersion of European opinions over Russian sanctions.

More from Reuters, whose details reveal that despite the attempt to show a unified stance, things in Europe are still very much split up between the various countries as any response by Russia would be proportional and impact some more than others:

Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said there was still work to be done. “The direction of travel here is very clear but we are still travelling,” she told reporters.

 

It was not immediately clear if the legal text would include all the options identified by the Commission. But EU officials said it would cover all four areas where sanctions have been proposed – restrictions on Russian access to European financial markets, defence and energy technology and equipment useful for both defence or civilian purposes.

 

Separately, the EU was due to publish later on Friday the names of 15 individuals and 18 entities, including companies, subject to asset freezes for their role in supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and detribalization of eastern Ukraine.

 

Member states will scrutinise the draft legal text over the weekend and give their feedback to the Commission on Monday, one diplomat said. A revised draft may be adopted on Tuesday, he said.

 

Remaining stumbling blocks were over issues such as existing contracts as well as on a so-called “off-ramp” – how to scale back sanctions if Russia began to play a more constructive role in de-escalating the situation in Ukraine, the diplomat said.

What does the EU want? Merely for Russia to stop doing what the CIA has been doing since February (as confirmed by Victoria Nuland) – to stop intervening in a proxy conflict between east and west, which nearly half a year later is at a stalement, despite countless provocations on both side.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country is seen as having a key role in shaping the EU response because it lost 194 citizens in the plane crash, said he would back sanctions unless Moscow halts weapons supplies to the rebels.

 

“We want as a country that has acquired a certain moral obligation as a result of this tragedy to promote Europe taking a common line on this,” he told a parliamentary committee in The Hague.

 

“All indications are that Russia is continuing to arm the separatists,” Rutte said, telling lawmakers he had spoken six times to Russian President Vladimir Putin since the disaster. “There’s an easy way out for Russia: to distance themselves from the separatists, and stop arming them.”

At the end of the day, however, despite the pomp and rhetoric, it is most likely that nothing of significant will actually happen:

“To a degree everyone is reverting to trying to protect their own national interests from harm,” a senior European diplomat said.

 

The issue of upholding existing contracts with Russia is sensitive for France, which has agreed to sell Mistral helicopter carriers in a 1.2 billion euro ($1.61 billion) deal.

 

Another difficulty is balancing the pain of imposing the sanctions among EU member states. Britain is strong in financial services, Germany in technology and machinery, France in arms sales, while Italy is heavily dependent on Russia for energy.

Finally, it goes without saying that while Europe will ultimately end up doing something merely to piggyback on the latest round of Russian sanctions adopted by the US last week, the real question is how and what Putin will do in retaliation (aside from banning the Quarterpounder with Cheese of course), as that will demonstrate just how independent of the west the Eurasian, and BRIC, axis believes it has gotten.




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GOP Wants to Fund Israeli 'Iron Dome', Smokers Live Longer Than Obese, We're Going Extinct: A.M. Links

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GOP Wants to Fund Israeli ‘Iron Dome’, Smokers Live Longer Than Obese, We’re Going Extinct: A.M. Links

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