Why the U.S. dollar has been tumbling

Why the U.S. dollar has been tumbling (Source Yahoo Finance)  In the shadow of the stock market’s meteoric rise this year, the U.S. dollar has fallen faster and harder than most analysts expected. The dollar took a beating in 2017, falling nearly 10%, its worst annual performance since 2003. Rather than reversing that trend as the U.S. economy grows and the Federal Reserve raises the country’s interest rates, it has continued with the greenback the weakest it’s been in more than three years compared to a contingent of world currencies used to track its value. This has happened not just as the stock market has churned out almost daily record highs but as yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note have touched their highest level in three years and short-dated bonds have risen to their highest levels since around 2008. All of those things would typically back a strong dollar – one that would keep U.S. money at home and encourage overseas investors to park their money here. Analysts say one thing that’s driving stock, bond and currency markets in their respective directions is U.S. tax reform. The tax reform bill has equity investors excited about the windfall coming to shareholders, but it’s also expected to push the $20 trillion U.S. national debt higher. That’s driving up Treasury yields and pushing the value of the dollar lower.

“The tax cut is definitely responsible for the bulk of this (dollar weakness),” said Aaron Kohli, interest rates strategist at BMO Capital Markets in New York. “It was a huge deficit hole they were blowing and they’re doing it at a time when the U.S. economic cycle is moving and everything is going perfectly.” The dollar initially gained as reports circulated that the tax plan would include a border tax or other offsets that would increase U.S. tax receipts. But when the final bill was delivered, it turned out to be more of a tax cut than tax reform and the $1.5 trillion price tag had traders piling into dollar-negative short positions, betting on further weakness.

Speculators’ recently raised net short dollar bets on the dollar to nearly $12 billion, according to calculations by Reuters and Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.

As U.S. deficits rise, the country is forced to finance its debts by borrowing from other nations. That reduces the value of the dollar.

 

Tsunami warnings canceled after magnitude 7.9 earthquake off Alaska

Tsunami warnings canceled after magnitude-7.9 earthquake off Alaska (Source CNN) Forecasters canceled tsunami warnings for Alaska and the US and Canadian west coasts Tuesday after an earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska stoked fears of damaging waves. The tsunami alerts were canceled “because additional information and analysis have better defined the threat,” said the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska. Small tsunami waves of less than 1 foot were reported in Alaska, the center said. The minor tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-7.9 earthquake that struck shortly after midnight. It was centered about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak, at a depth of 15 miles, the US Geological Survey said. The temblor was followed by at least 61 aftershocks, USGS Seismologist Rafael Abreu said.

The aftershocks in the region so far were not strong enough to trigger any additional tsunami warnings, but were just the Earth releasing energy, Abreu explained.

Super Blue Blood Moon 2018: Supermoon and Lunar Eclipse to Light up the sky

SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON 2018: SUPERMOON AND LUNAR ECLIPSE TO LIGHT UP THE SKY (Source Newsweek)

January 31 will serve up a phenomenal lunar spectacle. For the first time since 1866, a blue supermoon will coincide with a lunar eclipse. Also the finale of a rare trilogy of supermoons, this will be the last oversized moon until January next year. The moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, not a circle. This means it sometimes moves closer to us than usual. A supermoon occurs when the moon’s closest approach to Earth coincides with a full moon. Astronomers call this a perigee full moon. The moon will reach its shortest distance from us at 4:55 a.m. ET January 30, and a full moon will occur the following day. While not a perfect supermoon, it should still shine larger and brighter than usual.

However, the difference might be small to the naked eye. “The next full ‘supermoon’ will appear only 7% bigger and a bit brighter than an average full Moon,” said Italian astrophysicist, Gianluca Masi in a statement.

The best time to see a supermoon is shortly after sunset, when something called the “moon illusion” will make it appear even bigger. The closer the moon is to the horizon, the larger it looks. The moon won’t really shine blue in the sky—it will glow red. The term “blue moon” refers to the second full moon in a calendar month.  Not as rare as you would think, blue moons happen once every two to three years. In fact, 2018 will see another in March, with no full moon in February. A spectacular total lunar eclipse will accompany this blue moon, shining red across parts of Russia, Canada, Asia and Australia. An eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up perfectly with the sun and the moon, casting a shadow that blocks the sun. As light filters through the Earth’s atmosphere it makes the moon glow red. “We will have a very spectacular total lunar eclipse as our satellite will completely sink into the shadow of the Earth,” said Masi.

Unfortunately, only some of the western U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, will see the full eclipse.

Are There Zombie Viruses In The Thawing Permafrost

 Are There Zombie Viruses In The Thawing Permafrost? (Source npr.org) Last summer, Zac Peterson was on the adventure of a lifetime. The 25-year-old teacher was helping archaeologists excavate a 800-year-old log cabin, high above the Arctic Circle on the northern coast of Alaska. They had pitched tents right on the beach. Over the course of a month, Peterson watched a gigantic pod of beluga whales swim along the beach, came face-to-face with hungry polar bear, invading their campsite, and helped dig out the skull of a rare type of polar bear. But the most memorable thing happened right at the end of the trip. “I noticed a red spot on the front of my leg,” Peterson says. “It was about the size of a dime. It felt hot and hurt to touch.” The spot grew quickly. “After a few days, it was the size of a softball,” he says.

When I finished writing this story in December, I ended it with a faint warning about the dangers of human curiosity. I was convinced that the only way “pathogens” would rise up from the permafrost was if a scientist bent over backward to resurrect the creatures in the lab. The chance of it happening naturally seemed infinitesimally small.

But then I received an email from Zac Peterson: “After kneeling in defrosted marine mammal goo … doctors treated me for a seal finger infection,” Peterson wrote. A photos showed a purplish, red infection, covering the front of his knee. 0pikSeal finger is a bacterial infection hunters contract from handling the body parts of seals. The infection can spread rapidly into the joints and bones. Sometimes people loose fingers and hands.

Terrifying forecast for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal

Terrifying forecast for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal (Source nypost.com) CIA director Mike Pompeo says nuclear North Korea is only a “handful of months” away from being able to strike the US, according to a new report. “North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is continuing to expand, advance, become more powerful, more capable, more reliable,” he told “CBS This Morning.” Asked how long until dictator Kim Jong-Un could hit the US, Pompeo said a “handful of months.” But he made the same dire forecast in October, which perhaps suggests that the Hermit Kingdom has actually not made much progress since the fall. “I hope to be able to say that a year from now as well,” he said. “The United States government is working diligently to extend that timeline.” The assessment follows North Korea’s November launch of its biggest-yet “Hwasong 15” intercontinental ballistic missile, which Kim claims can hit anywhere on the continental US. An even larger missile is reportedly in the works for the nation’s 70th birthday in September. Pompeo’s prediction comes amid a loud sparring match between President Trump and dictator Kim. The tyrant bragged that he has a nuclear button on his desk “at all times,” prompting Trump to taunt on Twitter that he has a nuclear button too, and it’s a “much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

 

Doomsday Clock set at two minutes to midnight as world moves closer to global

Doomsday Clock set at two minutes to midnight as world moves closer to global annihilation (Source telegraph.co.uk)

The Doomsday Clock which symbolises the current threat of global annihilation, was moved closer to midnight following a year of growing tensions between North Korea and the Donald Trump. The countdown was established in 1947 by a group of experts who were working on the Manhattan Project, to design and build the first atomic bomb.

The scientists wanted a simple way of demonstrating how close humanity was to destroying the world with dangerous technologies of its own making. Last year the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved it forward by 30 seconds, to two and a half minutes to midnight, claiming the global security landscape had ‘darkened.’ But tensions between the US and North Korea have caused the hands to be moved forward again by 30 seconds. The clock is now set at two minutes to midnight, the closest since 1953, when the US took the decision to upgrade its nuclear arsenal with the hydrogen bomb. “It is with considerable concern that we set the Doomsday Clock, as of today,” said Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the organization.

“It is two minutes to midnight.” The organisation now believes “the world is not only more dangerous now than it was a year ago. It is as threatening as it has been since World War II.” Earlier this month, Donald Trump taunted Kim Jong-un on Twitter claiming America’s nuclear ‘button’ is ‘much bigger and more powerful’ than that of the North Korean president. In September, North Korea said that it considered the President’s tweet that ‘Kim won’t be around much longer’ as a declaration of war. The country has also carried out several high-profile missile tests.

Bruce Blair, co-founder of Global Zero, the anti-nuclear campaigners, also warned that disaster was looming.

“2017 was a year of mounting insecurity across multiple nuclear flashpoints from Europe to Asia.

“The United States and Russia have worsened their already tense relationship with mutual allegations of cheating on the INF treaty.  If this treaty falls apart it will stimulate nuclear arms racing in Europe. “The gravest risk of all is the flashpoint on the Korean peninsula, which worsened considerably over Kim’s long-rang missile and thermonuclear bomb test successes and Trump’s response to launch a preventive conventional strike. “We are on a collision course that could explode in early to mid 2018 and escalate quickly to nuclear conflict, and possibly draw China into the conflict.

“President Trump has been unable to provide the stable and solid leadership the world desperately  needs to avoid conflict, and instead indulges in petulant nuclear brinksmanship.  He also bombed the Paris accords devoted to reducing carbon emissions.”

2 Boys Arrested After Vandalism That Killed 500,000 Bees on Iowa honey farm

2 Boys Arrested After Vandalism That Killed 500,000 Bees On Iowa Honey Farm (Source Huffington Post)

Two boys are facing felony charges after vandalism at an Iowa honey farm killed 500,000 bees, according to police.

Police say the boys, ages 12 and 13, wrecked equipment and knocked over 50 hives at the Wild Hill Honey farm in Sioux City last month. All of the bees — at least half a million — died in the snow.

Owners Justin and Tori Englehardt found the dead bees when they went to clear snow off the hives on their 18-acre property. “We found complete destruction of our hives and supply shed,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

“They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely,” Justin Engelhardt told The Sioux City Journal. “They broke into our shed, they took all our equipment out and threw it out in the snow, smashed what they could. Doesn’t look like anything was stolen; everything was just vandalized or destroyed.

He called the crime “completely senseless.” The loss was estimated at $60,000.

The devastation was so complete that the couple feared they couldn’t afford to revive the six-year-old operation. The business wasn’t insured; bee operations usually can’t get insurance, according to Engelhardt.

With no deal in sight, Congress faces looming government shutdown

With no deal in sight, Congress faces looming government shutdown (Source Reuters)The U.S. Congress raced the clock to avoid a federal government shutdown before a midnight deadline on Friday after a meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer failed to produce a deal. Trump invited Schumer to the White House for talks as a stopgap bill to fund the federal government through Feb. 16 appeared headed to defeat in the Senate, where Democratic votes are needed to pass it. Trump said the meeting was “excellent” and that efforts were continuing. “Making progress – four week extension would be best,” Trump said in a tweet.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNN he expected an agreement would be reached in the next 24 hours, meaning the government would shut down at midnight but be reopened over the weekend.

Schumer said earlier that the White House meeting lasted about 90 minutes but that differences remained in the pursuit of a short-term spending bill to keep the government running.

Democrats are demanding that the stopgap bill include protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants but Republicans have so far refused. “We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue,” Schumer told reporters after the meeting, also attended by each man’s chief of staff – John Kelly for Trump and Mike Lynch for Schumer. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved the stopgap spending measure late on Thursday, but it has been sidetracked in the Senate by a dispute over immigration.

Defense Officials: Pentagon Monitoring Russian Intelligence

Defense Officials: Pentagon Monitoring Russian Intelligence Gathering Ship (Source newsmax.com)

The Pentagon is monitoring an intelligence gathering ship that Russia dispatched to the Caribbean Sea, defense officials said in a Washington Free Beacon report.

Two officials familiar with reports of the spy ship Viktor Leonov said the ship was spotted leaving Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago Monday after five days on the island, The Free Beacon reported.

“We’re monitoring the ship. It’s an annual thing,” one of the officials said in The Free Beacon.

An official said that the Navy is tracking the ship, and it appears similar to previous Russian operations in that region, the report said.

“What makes it noteworthy is the increase of Russian naval activity worldwide. It makes us pay close attention, not to the tactics, but to how this fits into overall Russian naval behavior,” the official said in the report.

The ship usually spends about two months spying off of the U.S.’s east coast, said Steffan Watkins, Canadian security analyst, in the report.
“I believe their mission is to take inventory of underwater sensors, military undersea cables, sonar, radar, and snooping on rocket telemetry from launches at Cape Canaveral,” Watkins said in The Free Beacon.

 

Hawaii’s False Alarm” and the Advanced Preparations for War against N Korea

Hawaii’s “False Alarm” and the Advanced Preparations for War Against North Korea (Source globalresearch.ca)

The significance of Saturday’s nuclear war alert becomes clear only within the context of the advanced state of preparations for a US war of aggression against nuclear-armed North Korea. A glimpse into the scope of these preparations was provided Monday in a front-page article published by the New York Times. Absurdly, the piece begins, “Across the military, officers and troops are preparing for a war they hope will not come.” Yet the substance of the article makes clear that what is being prepared is not a defense against a North Korean attack, but rather the invasion and conquest of the East Asian country.

The article describes an exercise last month involving 48 Apache gunships and Chinook cargo helicopters practicing “moving troops and equipment under live artillery fire to assault targets.” Two days later, it reports, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division staged a jump in Nevada that “simulated a foreign invasion.” Even more ominously, the Times reports that for the first time in years, more than 1,000 US Army reservists have been called up for active duty to man “mobilization centers” used for the rapid movement of troops overseas. The preparations also include a plan to deploy large numbers of Special Operations troops to the Korean Peninsula under the cover of providing security for next month’s Winter Olympics.

More and more, these actions begin to resemble the run-up to the US war of aggression against Iraq in 2003, with the exception that this time around the American public is being given no warning of impending mass carnage, outside of the raving tweets of the US commander-in-chief.

That the Times article appeared at all—under the byline of Eric Schmitt, the Times’ chief “embedded” reporter and a faithful conduit for the Pentagon and CIA—makes it clear that the military preparations are of such a magnitude that they are becoming broadly known, requiring the “newspaper of record” to attempt to manage the news.

The article also points to divisions between the White House and the Pentagon and within the US military command itself over impending war with North Korea. Trump and his aides reportedly are toying with what has been termed a “bloody nose” attack targeting North Korean nuclear weapons, based on the assumption that Pyongyang would not retaliate.

Within this context, the “accidental” nuclear alert in Hawaii emerges as a necessary link in the chain of preparations for a catastrophic war. Was the “false alarm” itself one more military exercise? Were the people of Hawaii used as guinea pigs to test the public reaction should a US invasion of North Korea prompt the government of Kim Jong Un to fire off its missiles before they could be destroyed?

There is another possible explanation for the false alarm and the prolonged wait for it to be rescinded. The Times also published an article Monday referring to the 1983 KAL 007 incident as an example of how an unintended nuclear war could erupt. It fails to explain, however, that the Korean Airlines passenger jet was shot down by Soviet air defense fighters after it deliberately flew over Sakhalin, the site of numerous top secret Soviet military bases, as part of an operation coordinated with US intelligence agencies. A US spy plane was flying on a parallel course, shadowing the KAL flight, observing the responses of Soviet nuclear installations, radar stations and air bases.

There is no question that once the incoming missile alert was issued in Hawaii, the government and the military, not only in North Korea, but also in China and Russia, were compelled to make their own rapid estimates as to what it meant and how they should respond. The logical conclusion would be that Washington was staging a false pretext for all-out war.