“Crunch Time”? Credit Markets, International Trade, Financial Volatility and the Gold Market (Source globalresearch.ca) Many situations around the world now look to be coming to a head. Geopolitically the East/West push and pull has heated up in the Middle East. Iraq now looks to be pivoting toward Mr. Putin and Russia and away from the U.S. Turkey’s recent shoot down of a Russian plane also turned up the heat. Economically, the price of oil breaking through $40 has shone a spotlight on a weak global economy and confirms weakness. Trade, whether international or internal is collapsing. Freight rates are at decade lows and even internally, trucking has collapsed. Financially speaking, FOREX markets are experiencing daily volatility unseen before. The credit markets have become illiquid as spreads have blown out. This “illiquidity” has traders terrified because they know they have no exit door. Even the Treasury market has begun to display the “locked in” feeling of thin markets. We should not forget about the Fed meeting next week, raise rates or hold rates …traders are in fear of the aftermath. Let’s take a look at what just happened yesterday in COMEX gold since we are talking “crunch time”. The December contract added 881 net contracts standing for delivery. This is another 88,100 ounces of gold that someone just stepped up for and is asking delivery. Some ground work first …we have watched for over two years as COMEX gold contracts outstanding would dwarf deliverable inventory coming into first notice day and decline in a huge way just prior. Then, many of those standing for delivery would just “evaporate”. I have said many times that this did not make any sense. Why would anyone FULLY FUND their account by FND to pay cash for their contracted gold …only to vanish? It is obvious in my opinion these contracts were cash settled at a premium or bribe to entice these buyers not to take physical delivery because of strained inventory.
Vatican Reaffirms That Jews Can Go to Heaven (Source slate.com) The Vatican released a document Thursday addressing relations between Catholics and Jews. Some outlets have reported that the statement includes an “unprecedented” finding that Jews can achieve “salvation” without being converted to belief in Jesus. Is this really a groundbreaking doctrinal change for the church? And can Jews (according to Catholics) really go to heaven? Not quite and yes, says James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of America magazine. The new statement, Martin says, is a “refinement of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s great document on relations with non-Christian religions, which revolutionized the Vatican’s relationship with the Jewish people.” Nostra Aetate, released in 1965, was a landmark statement of reconciliation.
Poland Considers Deployment of U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons, Directed against Russia (Source Oriental Review) Polish Deputy Defense Minister Tomasz Szatkowski said that Poland is considering asking for access to nuclear weapons through a NATO program allowing non-nuclear states “to borrow” the warheads from the US. This is a reverberation from the intensified debates within alliances regarding the nuclear support of NATO’s operations. There are significant issues involving the increased scope and number of military exercises that simulate the use of mock bombs in conventional nuclear warheads, the military’s utilization of computer-based war games that test the use of nuclear weapons on the European continent, and the formulation of specific scenarios about the transformation of hypothetical conflicts using general-purpose forces into conflicts that involve nuclear weapons. NATO scientists and specialists take part in these discussions, as well as the current representatives of the alliance’s military and political leaders. On June 25, 2015, during a hearing in the House Armed Services Committee, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work called for using nuclear forces to deter the “Russian threat.” Commenting on the debates that took place during an Oct. 8 meeting in Brussels between the defense ministers of NATO countries, Adam Thomson, the UK Permanent Representative to NATO, publiclybemoaned the fact that the alliance “has done conventional exercising and nuclear exercising” but has not conducted exercises on “the transition from one to the other.” He claimed that such a recommendation is being looked at within the North Atlantic alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also supports strengthening the nuclear component in the military planning of this alliance that has identified Russia as its primary enemy.
A US general just gave a stark assessment of the situation in Eastern Europe (Source businessinsider.com) In a press briefing on Wednesday, Lt. General Ben Hodges of the US Army painted a stark picture of the military tensions and readiness in Europe. “We’re playing catch-up a little bit,” Hodges declared during the 45-minute conference which covered a wide range of subjects, mostly focused on the theme of increasing NATO and EU readiness for possible Russian aggression. There are currently 30,000 troops in US Army Europe routinely engaged in multi-national drills, such as Trident Juncture that took place earlier this year. Despite the continued effort from the US and allied nations, Russian capabilities in the region remain a very real threat.
Putin: Russia provides air cover to Syrian opposition group (Source AP) Russia has provided air cover to a leading Western-backed opposition group in Syria, President Vladimir Putin said Friday, calling for closer coordination with the U.S.-allied coalition — comments that may reflect Moscow’s desire to narrow its differences with the West over the Syrian crisis. At the same time, Putin vowed to further modernize Russia’s military and said its forces in Syria will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them, a strong warning to Turkey following its downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border. Speaking at a meeting with top Defense Ministry officials, Putin said while supporting the Syrian government forces, Russia has backed some units of the Free Syrian Army, a Western-backed opposition group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army. “Several (FSA) units totaling more than 5,000 people, along with regular troops, are conducting offensive operations against terrorists in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa,” Putin said. “We have provided air support for them as well as the Syrian army, helping them with weapons, ammunition and supplies.”
FT BOMBSHELL: EU UNVEILS STANDING BORDER FORCE THAT WILL ACT “EVEN IF A GOVERNMENT OBJECTS” (Source Zero Hedge) The deployment of additional officers will begin next week, and noted that as our friends at Keep Talking Greece wrote: “the masks have fallen. Hand in hand, the European Union and the Frontex want to cancel national sovereignty and take over border controls in the pretext of “safeguarding the Schengen borders”. With controversial claims, they use the case of Greece to create an example that could soon happen “in the border area near you.” And the plan is all German.” Finally, we asked whether this was merely Paranoia. “or just another confirmation that the Eurozone is using every incremental, and produced, crisis to cement its power over discrete European state sovereignty and wipe out the cultural and religious borders the prevent the amalgamation of Europe into a Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt-controlled superstate? “ It was not paranoia, because according to blockbuster FT report released travel zone, by introducing the kind of common border policing repeatedly demanded by Paris and Berlin. Britain and Ireland have opt-outs from EU migration policy, and would not be obliged to take part in the scheme.moments ago, “Brussels is to propose the creation of a standing European border force that could take control of the bloc’s external frontiers — even if a government objected.” The European Commission will unveil plans next week to replace the Frontex border agency with a permanent border force and coastguard — deployed with the final say of the commission, according to EU officials and documents seen by the Financial Times. The blueprint represents a last-ditch attempt to save the Schengen passport-free travel zone, by introducing the kind of common border policing repeatedly demanded by Paris and Berlin. Britain and Ireland have opt-outs from EU migration policy, and would not be obliged to take part in the scheme.
Time’s Person of the Year: Angela Merkel (Source newser.com) Donald Trump may be the loudest person of the year, but Angela Merkel is officially the Person of the Year in the eyes of Time magazine. The German chancellor beat out Trump and others on this year’s short list—including ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—for the honor, Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs announced on the Today show Wednesday morning. In an essay at Time, Gibbs lays out the reasoning, citing the 61-year-old Merkel’s leadership in a series of crises befalling Europe this year—the threat of Greek bankruptcy, Russia’s advance on Ukraine, the migrant and refugee crisis, and the attacks on Paris. “Each time Merkel stepped in,” writes Gibbs. “At a moment when much of the world is once more engaged in a furious debate about the balance between safety and freedom, the Chancellor is asking a great deal of the German people, and by their example, the rest of us as well. To be welcoming. To be unafraid. To believe that great civilizations build bridges, not walls, and that wars are won both on and off the battlefield. By viewing the refugees as victims to be rescued rather than invaders to be repelled, the woman raised behind the Iron Curtain gambled on freedom. The pastor’s daughter wielded mercy like a weapon.” Merkel becomes the first individual woman to earn the magazine’s honor.
Russia, Turkey Tensions Heating Up: Putin Surrounds Turkey with Military Presence (Source pjmedia.com) Vladimir Putin was dead serious when he warned Turkey that it would “regret more than once” shooting down a Russian fighter yet. Not only has the Russian president announced all kinds of sanctions against Turkey, but he’s now also surrounding the Islamist-led country with his military. As Hurriyet Daily News reports, Putin has sent 14 helicopters to Erebuni air base in Armenia. Half of these helicopters are armored Mi-24 attack helicopters, while the other seven are Mi-8 model transport helicopters. Meanwhile, Putin has also sent a submarine called the Rostov-on-Don to the Mediterranean. Russia has a naval base there, and the Russian president is apparently looking to give it a major boost: the submarine is armed with Caliber cruise missiles. As if that doesn’t make his aggressive intentions clear enough, Putin has also stepped up its presence at the Hmeymim air base outside Latakia in Syria. This air base is now home to 55 Russian fighter jets, “including SU-30 fighter jets and SU-24, 2U-25 and SU-34 bombers along with seven Mi-24 and five Mi-8 helicopters.” These jets are with Pantsir-S1, Buk-M2, S-200, Pechora-2M and S-400 air defense batteries. Obviously weapons of aggression, not of defense. Putin says they’ll be used against ISIS and other groups fighting against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, but their presence will undoubtedly make Turkey nervous, not in the least because Putin’s also stepping up his military presence in other places in the region. And there’s more: the air base is also fortified
Russia just put the finishing touches on 6 Arctic military bases (Source businessinsider.com) Russia has finished equipping six new military bases throughout the Arctic in a move to recreate the country’s military presence to levels it had during the Cold War, Russian news agency Tass reports. The six military bases are located throughout Russia and are placed on both the country’s northern shore and on outlying Arctic islands. The locations are now fully equipped with the materials and amenities necessary for long-term deployments of soldiers to the region. “According to the General Staff’s execution documents, the work for the deployment and equipment of six military bases on the Arctic islands and in the polar part of mainland Russia is completed,” a source familiar with the militarization told Tass. Now that the bases are complete, Moscow will begin moving “hundreds of Russian military servicemen” to the bases starting in 2016.
Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores (Source Reuters) Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to leak radioactive isotopes more than four years after its meltdown, said Ken Buesseler, marine radiochemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Trace amounts of cesium-134 have been detected within several hundred miles of the Oregon, Washington and California coasts in recent months, as well as offshore from Canada’s Vancouver Island. Another isotope, cesium-137, a radioactive legacy of nuclear weapons tests conducted from the 1950s through the 1970s, was found at low levels in nearly every seawater sample tested by Woods Hole, a nonprofit research institution. “Despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life, the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific,” Buesseler said in an email. In March 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear plant, 130 miles northeast of Tokyo, causing triple nuclear meltdowns and forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee from nearby towns. It was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Last year, Woods Hole reported detectable radiation from about 100 miles off the coast of northern California, and in April radiation was found off Canada’s shores. The latest readings measured the highest radiation levels outside Japanese waters to date some 1,600 miles west of San Francisco. The figures also confirm that the spread of radiation to North American waters is not isolated to a handful of locations, but can be detected along a stretch of more than 1,000 miles offshore.