Abortion Rights vs. Women's Safety in Virginia

Last April, the Virginia Board of Health approved strict
new regulations for abortion providers. Unlike most similar laws,
the regulations cover not just new facilities but existing ones
too. Clinics have until October 2014 to comply, but a high-stakes
legal challenge in the Old Dominion may change that early next
year.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/abortion-rights-vs-womens-safety-in-va
via IFTTT

Abortion Rights vs. Women’s Safety in Virginia

Last April, the Virginia Board of Health approved strict
new regulations for abortion providers. Unlike most similar laws,
the regulations cover not just new facilities but existing ones
too. Clinics have until October 2014 to comply, but a high-stakes
legal challenge in the Old Dominion may change that early next
year.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/abortion-rights-vs-womens-safety-in-va
via IFTTT

Visualizing The Overnight Stock Index Futures “Fat Finger?” Rout

As we noted overnight, at 22:08:32 ET, a large wave of sell orders hit many stock index futures contracts. Most notably, Nanex notes, over 6,000 March 2014 eMini contracts traded in 1 second. After closer inspection, it appears that trading began almost simultaneously in several contracts, with the March 2014 eMini (ES) starting just a few milliseconds before the others. It’s unclear whether the trades in the other contracts were a reaction to the eMini or part of the same sell program… but the slowness of reversion in prices makes it clear that while the mainstream media would like to shrug it off as just another “fat finger,” it was anything but.

 

Via Nanex,

Comparing ES, NQ, TF and YM at 22:08:32 on December 15, 2013.



Closeup of the collapse – and the clear indication it was not a single fat-finger trade…

(each pixel is 25 milliseconds)

 

and here each pixel is 1 millisecond…


Does that look like a “fat finger” to you?


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/_JGzOfiA7PM/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Visualizing The Overnight Stock Index Futures "Fat Finger?" Rout

As we noted overnight, at 22:08:32 ET, a large wave of sell orders hit many stock index futures contracts. Most notably, Nanex notes, over 6,000 March 2014 eMini contracts traded in 1 second. After closer inspection, it appears that trading began almost simultaneously in several contracts, with the March 2014 eMini (ES) starting just a few milliseconds before the others. It’s unclear whether the trades in the other contracts were a reaction to the eMini or part of the same sell program… but the slowness of reversion in prices makes it clear that while the mainstream media would like to shrug it off as just another “fat finger,” it was anything but.

 

Via Nanex,

Comparing ES, NQ, TF and YM at 22:08:32 on December 15, 2013.



Closeup of the collapse – and the clear indication it was not a single fat-finger trade…

(each pixel is 25 milliseconds)

 

and here each pixel is 1 millisecond…


Does that look like a “fat finger” to you?


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/_JGzOfiA7PM/story01.htm Tyler Durden

One Month in Jail for Soap Possession

Last week Annadel Cruz and Alexander Bernstein
were
released
from Lehigh County Prison in Allentown, Pennsylvania,
where they had been detained for a month after being arrested for
possession of soap. A state trooper claimed a field test indicated
that the homemade soap, which he found in the trunk of the car Cruz
was driving, contained cocaine. Laboratory tests showed it was just
soap, which is what Cruz had said all along.

The trooper said he stopped the car on Interstate 78 because
Cruz was driving five miles per hour above the posted speed limit
and “hugging the side of the lane,” as the Allentown Morning
Call
┬áput it. Bernstein’s lawyer thinks it is more likely
that the trooper’s suspicions were aroused by the sight of a young
Latina driving a new Mercedes-Benz with out-of-state plates. After
pulling over the car, in which Bernstein was a passenger, the
trooper claimed to smell marijuana, and Cruz confessed she had
smoked pot before leaving New York City. Then the trooper asked if
he could search the car, and Cruz supposedly said yes.

Assuming Cruz really did consent to the search, shouldn’t that
have immediately raised doubts about the accuracy of the trooper’s
field test? If you were carrying two packages of cocaine in your
trunk, would you consent to a search of your car? In any event,
this case is yet another refutation of the old canard that if you
have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear during a police
encounter.

Field tests for drugs are notoriously
unreliable
, mistaking common
products
such as soap, deodorant, billiard chalk, tea, breath
mints, soy milk, and chocolate for illicit substances. Yet police
across the country continue to use these kits as a basis for
locking people up. Bail for Cruz and Bernstein was set at $250,000
and $500,000, respectively. “After this,” says Cruz’s lawyer,
“everyone should pause about jumping to conclusions when a field
test is said to be positive by law enforcement. There are people
going to jail on high bail amounts based upon these field
tests.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/16/one-month-in-jail-for-soap-possession
via IFTTT

US Officials To Meet With Syrian Extremist Rebels, Including Al Qaeda Forces

As was reported several days ago, the latest embarrassment for US foreign policy in Syria took place when the US-backed commander of the Free Syrian Army was forced to flee the country to Qatar after “Islamist fighters ran the top Western-backed rebel commander out of his headquarters.” In other words, the Islamic Front, which is a more palatable name for the six major groups among Syria’s religious extremist rebels, or as some call them, Al Qaeda, is now the only entity “fighting” the regime of Assad (funded with Qatari and Saudi financial generosity), which as recently as September was a very theatrically sworn enemy of John Kerry. So what is an isolated America to do in a country in which ambitions for Qatari nat gas pipelines will almost certainly rear their heads as soon as the spring of 2014? Why engage directly with Al Qaeda, pardon, the Islamic Front of course. Because the enemy of my enemy, who obstinately refuses to throw Putin under the bus or allow a Qatari gas pipeline under their territory, is my friend.

From Reuters:

U.S. officials may meet commanders from Syria’s Islamic Front this week, the State Department said, after the grouping took control of weapon depots belonging to the Western-backed opposition.

 

Over the weekend, Reuters reported that these talks were expected to take place but U.S. representatives based in Turkey were unable to give details about a visit from U.S. Syria envoy Robert Ford.

 

State Department officials might be meeting with representatives of the Islamic Front this week,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday. She said that did not signify a change in U.S. support for the Syrian National Coalition, the moderate political opposition.

One wonders just what weapons will the US promise to various Al Qaeda members of the Islamic Front, and how it will safeguard and prevent the use of said weapons against the US?

As for what is next for the extremist “negotiators”? A trip to Geneva, preferably first class.

The State Department spokeswoman said in her email that Syria’s political opposition had started to seek contact with the Islamic Front, a step that “we welcome as the opposition prepares for the Geneva 2 conference”.

 

Monzer Akbik, chief of staff in the Syrian National Coalition, said the Islamic Front would be welcome to take part in Geneva, even though it has so far rejected participation.

 

“We would love it if the Islamic Front went to Geneva 2,” said another coalition leader on condition of anonymity.

 

“We haven’t offered them any seats but if they want to go we can figure out an arrangement with them. Geneva 2 can only be meaningful if it is supported by fighters in Syria which includes the Islamic Front.”

Or, as all of the above will be summarized by the US State Department: success.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/p4rIh9_gp7U/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Fear and Trembling In Muni Land

Wolf Richter   www.testosteronepit.com   www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

Municipal bond investors, a conservative bunch who want to avoid rollercoaster rides and cliffhangers, are getting frazzled. And they’re bailing out of muni bond funds at record rate, while they still can without losing their shirts. So far this year, they have yanked out $52.8 billion. In the third quarter alone, as yields were soaring on the Fed’s taper cacophony and as bond values were swooning, net outflows from muni funds reached $32 billion, which according to Thomson Reuters, was more than during any whole year.

Muni investors have a lot to be frazzled about. Municipal bonds used to be considered a safe investment – though that may have been propaganda more than anything else. Munis are exempt from federal income taxes, hence their attractiveness to conservative investors in high tax brackets. Munis packaged into bond funds appealed to those looking for a convenient way to spread the risk over numerous municipalities and states. While the Fed was repressing rates, muni bond funds were great deals.

Then came the bankruptcies.

The precursor was Vallejo, CA, a Bay Area city of 115,000 that filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in 2008 and emerged two years ago. But it’s already struggling again with soaring pension costs that had been left untouched. Jefferson County, which includes Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham, filed in 2011 when it defaulted on $3.1 billion in sewer bonds, the largest municipal bankruptcy at the time [but it’s already issuing new bonds; read….. Municipal Bankruptcy? Why Not! And so The Floodgates Open].

Stockton, CA, filed in June 2012. Mammoth Lakes, CA, filed in July 2012. San Bernardino, CA, filed in August 2012. They were dropping like flies in the “Golden State.” Detroit filed in July this year, crushing all prior records with its debt of up to $20 billion. That’s $28,000 per person for its population of 700,000.

But Detroit is just a fraction of what is skittering toward muni investors: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The poverty rate is 45.6%. Unemployment is 14.7%. The economy has been in recession since 2006. The labor force has shrunk 16% from 1.42 million in 2007 to 1.19 million in October. The number of working people, over the same period, has plunged from 1.8 million to 1.1 million, a breathtaking 39%.

Puerto Rico had a good run for decades as federal tax breaks lured Corporate America to set up shop there. But when these tax breaks were phased out by 2005, the companies went in search for the greener grass elsewhere. To keep splurging, the government embarked on a borrowing binge that left the now lovingly named “Greece of the Caribbean” with nearly $70 billion in debt.

That’s 70% of GDP, and for its population of 3.67 million, about $19,000 per capita, or about $64,000 per working person. And then there is the underfunded pension system. But unlike Detroit, Puerto Rico is struggling to address its problems with unpopular measures, raising all manner of taxes and cutting outlays. Not even the bloated government payrolls have been spared. Too little, too late? Given the enormous poverty rate and long-term shrinking employment, what are the chances that this debt will blow up?

Pretty good, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Last week, it put $52 billion of Puerto Rico’s debt under review for a downgrade – to junk. Moody’s litany of factors: “Failure to access the public debt market with a long-term borrowing, declines in liquidity, financial underperformance in coming months, economic indicators in coming months that point to a further downturn in the economy, inability of government to achieve needed reform of the Teachers’ Retirement System.” This followed a similar move by Fitch Ratings in November.

Alas, Puerto Rico has swaps and debt covenants with collateral and acceleration provisions that kick in when one of the three major credit ratings agencies issues the threatened downgrade. Which “could result in liquidity demands of up to $1 billion,” explained Moody’s analyst Lisa Heller. It would “significantly narrow remaining net liquid assets.”

Now Puerto Rico is under pressure to show that over the next three months or so it can still access the bond markets at a reasonable rate. If not….

Puerto Rico’s debt was a muni bond fund favorite because it’s exempt from state and federal taxes. Now fears of a default on $52 billion or more in debt are cascading through the $3.7 trillion muni market. But Puerto Rico isn’t alone. Numerous municipalities and some states have ventured out on thinner and thinner ice.

Default risks are dark clouds on the distant horizon or remain unimaginable beyond the horizon. And hopes that disaster can be averted by a miracle still rule the day. However, the Fed’s taper cacophony is here and now, and though the Fed is still printing money and buying paper at full speed, the possibility that it might not always do so hangs like a malodorous emanation in the air.

Taper talk and bankruptcies are a toxic mix for munis. Now add the lure of stocks that have become the official risk-free investment vehicle with guaranteed double-digit rates of return for all years to come. So muni-fund investors, tired of losing money, are seeking refuge in stocks. This has pressured munis further. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch master municipal index has dropped 2.8% and, unless a miracle happens, will end the year in the red. A first since 2008. Its index of bonds with maturities of at least 22 years has skidded almost 6% – though the Fed hasn’t even begun to taper.

The Fed’s easy money policies over the decades encouraged borrowing binges by municipalities and states. When the hot air hissed out of history’s greatest credit bubble in 2008, the Fed’s remedy, its ingenious QE and zero-interest-rate policies, blew an even greater credit bubble – kudos! As that credit bubble transitions from full bloom to whatever comes afterwards, the plight of muni bond funds is just the beginning.

The Fed’s policies of dollar destruction took on a sudden virulent form in 1970 – clearly visible against the Swiss Franc. And it’s still going on. When even the Swiss couldn’t handle it anymore, they too jumped into the currency war. Read…. Mother Of All Currency Wars in One Chart: Dollar Vs. Swiss Franc


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/J7HFwwgZu2s/story01.htm testosteronepit

Silver & Gold Surge On POMO; DeMark Tells Santelli "Big Move Coming"

Despite numerous “13s”, infamous technical analyst Tom DeMark tells Rick Santelli, the Fed’s liquidity pump has negated every one of these ‘potential sell’ signals and stocks have “unusually” kept going. DeMark goes on to note several analogs and trendlines that look extremely familiar; warning that the convergence of all these signals is notable and suggest “something comparable to 1929“. Unable to get a word in edgeways, Santelli is more intrigued by DeMark’s call on precious metals as he notes with downside limited, there is “a big move coming” for gold to the upside in 2014. Precious metals prices started to accelerate as POMO started (and again when it ended) and are extending the gains post DeMark (Silver +4% from early lows).

 

DeMark on the equity market analogs and Gold’s coming big move…

 

As we noted previously, the Ghost of 1929 is re-appearing in many signals.

 

 

and the longer-term trendlines are converging…unless… it is different this time…

 

Precious Metals are shifting notably today with Silver surging 2.7%!


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/E5XPbqBjNmw/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Silver & Gold Surge On POMO; DeMark Tells Santelli “Big Move Coming”

Despite numerous “13s”, infamous technical analyst Tom DeMark tells Rick Santelli, the Fed’s liquidity pump has negated every one of these ‘potential sell’ signals and stocks have “unusually” kept going. DeMark goes on to note several analogs and trendlines that look extremely familiar; warning that the convergence of all these signals is notable and suggest “something comparable to 1929“. Unable to get a word in edgeways, Santelli is more intrigued by DeMark’s call on precious metals as he notes with downside limited, there is “a big move coming” for gold to the upside in 2014. Precious metals prices started to accelerate as POMO started (and again when it ended) and are extending the gains post DeMark (Silver +4% from early lows).

 

DeMark on the equity market analogs and Gold’s coming big move…

 

As we noted previously, the Ghost of 1929 is re-appearing in many signals.

 

 

and the longer-term trendlines are converging…unless… it is different this time…

 

Precious Metals are shifting notably today with Silver surging 2.7%!


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/E5XPbqBjNmw/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The "Other" Anniversary That's Far More Important

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

Though still a week shy of its centennial anniversary, the US Federal Reserve will hold a celebration this afternoon in Washington DC.

Just imagine the scene – a bunch of current and former central bankers slapping each other on the back, congratulating one another for a job well done over the last 100 years.

Of course, you and I know this is total nonsense… as is the concept of our modern monetary system in which we award total control of the money supply to a tiny central banking elite.

Human beings are fallible. We are not gods. Yet we practically deify central bankers and entrust them with the power to manipulate markets, control prices around the world, and effectively dominate the economy.

This system has proven to be foolish and destructive.

While the Fed engages in its self-aggrandizement this afternoon, there is another far more important anniversary today – the Boston Tea Party.

It was this day in 1773 that dozens of men dumped 342 chests of tea from 3 ships into the water. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that it started with bankers.

In 1771, London banker Alexander Fordyce of the banking house Neal, James, Fordyce and Down thought himself infallible too.

Fordyce had made a fortune as a speculator, and he enjoyed his opulent wealth. He held magnificent estates in Surrey, Roehampton, and Scotland, and once blew 14,000 pounds (several million dollars today) running for parliament.

There was only one problem: Fordyce began making his bets using other people’s money. And when his bet on the East India Company didn’t work out, Fordyce’s bank used customer deposits to cover their losses.

By June 1772, the bank could no longer keep up the charade. And within days their collapse caused a cascade of other bank failures as far as Edinburgh and Holland.

With a crisis unfolding, the government forced the central bank to intervene in a way that was eerily similar to the 2008 financial crisis.

Just like 2008, too-big-to-fail companies got bailed out… including the East India Company itself. The East India Company was a bit like General Motors a few years ago– it was obvious they were in financial straits.

And as part of the bailout, the British parliament soon passed the Tea Act– an attempt to flood the colonies with the East India Company’s stockpiles of excess tea.

The Tea Act had another purpose, though– to assert parliament’s right to tax the colonies. And this is what ultimately led to the Tea Party on December 16, 1773.

John Adams wrote in his diary that the destruction of the tea was ‘daring’ and ‘intrepid’, and that to ignore the Tea Act would be like submitting “to Egyptian taskmasters, to [burdens], Indignities, to Ignominy, Reproach and Contempt, to Desolation and Oppression, to Poverty and Servitude.”

Britain’s harsh reaction to the Tea Party further escalated tensions with the colonists, and it wasn’t long afterward that the first shots were fired.

Given the prominent role of bankers and bailouts in the American Revolution, it’s ironic that the Federal Reserve has chosen to hold its centennial celebration today.

And as they all slap each other on the back today extolling the Fed’s ‘successes’, one can only hope that the arrogance and pomposity of the current system will lead to a new revolution– this time a revolution of the monetary system and a return to the principles of sound money.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/h9h7T-xUL-w/story01.htm Tyler Durden