Monday, January 20, 2014

200,000 mass in Ukraine in defiance of protest curbs - by AFP news agency Monday January 20th, 2014 at 1:27 PM Uploads By AFP

Violent CCTV footage: Man knocked unconscious and kicked in head on Birmingham street 

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Shocking CCTV has been released of the moment a man was knocked unconscious and repeatedly kicked in the head by two thieves in Birmingham. . Report by Sophi...
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Terror video threatens Winter Olympics 

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A recently released video purports to show Russian extremists threatening tourists at the Sochi Olympics.
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Cameron isolated in EU on immigration

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EU ministers say they will restrict any attempts to curb free movement by citizens of new member states as poll shows Ukip as most popular UK party

Iran Welcomes Start of Nuclear Deal 

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Iranian leaders said they were encouraged not only by the prospect of economic relief with the lifting of some sanctions, but also by a possible end to the country’s political isolation.

Mexico government 'strongly rejects' inmate's scheduled Texas execution

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Convicted murderer Edgar Arias Tamayo, due to die on Wednesday, was not told of possibility of Mexican consular help

Afghan Officials Suggest Pakistani Link to Massacre

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Afghan officials Sunday suggested Pakistan orchestrated the attack on a Kabul restaurant that killed 21 people, including senior international representatives, and rattled the capital's close-knit expatriate community.
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Cuba's lovers check in to a golden age thanks to economic reforms 

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Pousadas that offer rooms by the hour and once operated secretly now licensed
Cuba's political and economic swings have had an effect on the sex life of the population, but lovers and entrepreneurs have learned to adjust – and appear to be enjoying something of a golden age.
Countless private pousadas have sprung up in recent years to offer rooms – often charged by the hour – for couples seeking a place for a tryst. Many started illicitly, but have been licensed as part of official economic reforms.
Eduardo Pérez, a veteran of the war in Angola, has been a taxi driver for 38 years. His wife was a Russian teacher but found it easier to make a living as a barber.Desperate for extra income during the "special period" – the era of hardship after the collapse of the Soviet Union – the couple started renting out spare rooms in their home. Unlicensed at first, this was a surreptitious operation for the business and their customers, many of whom were having extramarital affairs.
One client, who asked to remain nameless, said he first started going to the private rooms when state motels went out of business.
"Twenty-five years ago, I used to take my mistress from Havana to Mariel for the weekend. That stopped after the fall of the eastern bloc when there was hardly any fuel, fewer cars and the motels closed. Instead, we found little pousadas in Havana, like this one, that offered rooms for just a couple of hours."
However, Pérez said the reforms had removed the need for secrecy – at least on the part of the business.
"In the past two years, it has become much easier because what we do is legal. I can rent out rooms at any time now, whereas in the past I sometimes had to tell people to come back at midnight because I was worried we were being watched. We don't have to hide now so I'm making more money."
He is expanding the business and upgrading the rooms with concrete beds. "It's my wife's idea," he grinned. "In this business, the springs wear out too quickly on a normal bed." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Hungary chooses Russia over EU to build 2 Nuclear Power units 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Novo-Ogaryovo. Both leaders are criticized by the West for similar issues, and in some sense this makes them allies. By choosing Russia as a partner in the construction of two new nuclear power units for Paks facility Orban outlined a strategic breakthrough in his struggle against the dictatorship of Brussels.
“Hungary is one of our very important partners with which Russia maintains an active trade and economic ties. In terms of foreign trade, Hungary and Russia hold the first place among the countries that are not members of the European Union, and generally third place after Germany and Austria,” Vladimir Putin said at a press conference after a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister on January 14th. Putin announced the signing of an agreement for the construction of two new nuclear reactors for Paks facility that today produces 40 percent of the country’s electricity.
Commissioning of the new units, of course, will increase the energy independence of Hungary and will help improve the issues related to security, said the Russian president. Forty percent of the volume of work will be implemented by Hungary, which means that three billion dollars will be spent on maintaining jobs in Hungary, and tax revenues alone will amount to over one billion dollars, Putin said. Russia will finance the project by allocating 10 billion euros (80 percent of the construction costs) in the form of a 30-year loan. According to the Hungarian side, it is the best deal Hungary was offered.
Orban outlined his thoughts about Russia back in November 2011 saying that Europeans needed Russia, and sooner or later would need a strategic alliance with Russia. This idea must have secured “Rosatom” victory in the competition from the French Areva SA, Korea Electric Power (Kepco) from South Korea, Toshiba Corporation of Japan and Westinghouse Electric Co. of the United States despite the objections of Brussels. The decision on South Stream was made by Hungary against the wishes of the EU that has not endorsed strengthening of “Gazprom” as a monopoly on the European energy market.
“Hungary is interested in the increase of investment presence of the Russian Federation on Hungarian territory,” said Viktor Orban at a press conference. “With respect to the “South Stream” Hungary intends to fulfill its obligations and all provisions of the contract,” he said.
Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party came to power in 2010, receiving the support of all groups and ages of the Hungarian population. Unlike for the leaders of many European countries, their goal is to preserve the country’s sovereignty. Hungarian Parliament approved amendments to the Constitution providing for the preservation of the moral values ​​of the Hungarian nation. This includes the traditional family and Christianity as the foundation of the Hungarian state, limited rights to abortion, and a definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Central Bank and private pension funds were nationalized; taxation of the banking sector and multinational corporations was increased. This has caused a strong negative reaction of the European officials and Washington. There was even an issue of taking EU voting rights from Hungary. But Orban refused to make concessions.
“Viktor Orban is trying to play an independent role in Europe not always looking back at the EU,” told Pravda.Ru MGIMO Professor Alexei Drynochkin. “He has a somewhat secluded position in the EU, and his nickname is “Viktator.” He is accused of breaching certain provisions of the EU. The relations between Russia and Hungary are symbolic in some way because Russia also occupies a special place in Europe, and it turns out that the relations between the two countries are almost like between the satellites, I cannot say that we are allies. This Russian loan will allow Hungary to refocus budget flows for other purposes and mitigate financial tension. This is a plus for Hungary,” said the expert.
“A strategic breakthrough is in sight,” commented for Pravda.Ru Anna Filimonova, a researcher at the Center for the Study of the Balkans Crisis at the Institute of Slavic Studies. “After the collapse of the USSR Eastern Bloc countries relied only on Euro-Atlantic integration processes, and finally, there is some return movement to Russia. This has to do with the policy of the European Union rather than the pressure from Russia,” said the expert.
The EU policy has caused economic and political degradation of its member countries, leading to debt slavery, unemployment, impoverishment and migration of young people in the countries of Western Europe, explained Filimonova. For example, over the last ten years the population in Bulgaria declined by a million people. The EU does not rectify the situation, on the contrary, it seems that it is pursuing a policy that leads to the erosion of state sovereignty, loss of independence, and destruction. According to the expert, Viktor Orban is one of the first to get seriously concerned. “He is a wise politician and statesman. He withstood criticism and began looking for another way, a pragmatic one, painted in colors of national sovereignty, that is, the achievement of financial and energy independence. This pragmatism will ensure the existence of Hungary as a country. Russia’s help will allow Hungary to stick to this plan and avoid the dictatorship of Brussels,” Anna Filimonova told Pravda.Ru
Elections to the Parliament of Hungary are planned for April. One of the key areas of the election campaign of the ruling party is further reduction of gas and electricity prices. Last year the prices were reduced by 20 percent. The country is betting on its own energy resources, and the construction of a nuclear power plant supported by 60 percent of the population will let Orban keep this promise.
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The Hows and Whys of Gold Price Manipulation

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The deregulation of the financial system during the Clinton and George W. Bush regimes had the predictable result: financial concentration and reckless behavior. A handful of banks grew so large that financial authorities declared them “too big to fail.” Removed from market discipline, the banks became wards of the government requiring massive creation of new money by the Federal Reserve in order to support through the policy of Quantitative Easing the prices of financial instruments on the banks’ balance sheets and in order to finance at low interest rates trillion dollar federal budget deficits associated with the long recession caused by the financial crisis.
The Fed’s policy of monetizing one trillion dollars of bonds annually put pressure on the US dollar, the value of which declined in terms of gold. When gold hit $1,900 per ounce in 2011, the Federal Reserve realized that $2,000 per ounce could have a psychological impact that would spread into the dollar’s exchange rate with other currencies, resulting in a run on the dollar as both foreign and domestic holders sold dollars to avoid the fall in value. Once this realization hit, the manipulation of the gold price moved beyond central bank leasing of gold to bullion dealers in order to create an artificial market supply to absorb demand that otherwise would have pushed gold prices higher. The manipulation consists of the Fed using bullion banks as its agents to sell naked gold shorts in the New York Comex futures market. Short selling drives down the gold price, triggers stop-loss orders and margin calls, and scares participants out of the gold trusts. The bullion banks purchase the deserted shares and present them to the trusts for redemption in bullion. The bullion can then be sold in the London physical gold market, where the sales both ratify the lower price that short-selling achieved on the Comex floor and provide a supply of bullion to meet Asian demands for physical gold as opposed to paper claims on gold.
The evidence of gold price manipulation is clear. In this article we present evidence and describe the process. We conclude that ability to manipulate the gold price is disappearing as physical gold moves from New York and London to Asia, leaving the West with paper claims to gold that greatly exceed the available supply.
The primary venue of the Fed’s manipulation activity is the New York Comex exchange, where the world trades gold futures. Each gold futures contract represents one gold 100 ounce bar. The Comex is referred to as a paper gold exchange because of the use of these futures contracts. Although several large global banks are trading members of the Comex, JP Morgan, HSBC and Bank Nova Scotia conduct the majority of the trading volume. Trading of gold (and silver) futures occurs in an auction-style market on the floor of the Comex daily from 8:20 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. New York time. Comex futures trading also occurs on what is known as Globex. Globex is a computerized trading system used for derivatives, currency and futures contracts. It operates continuously except on weekends. Anyone anywhere in the world with access to a computer-based futures trading platform has access to the Globex system.
In addition to the Comex, the Fed also engages in manipulating the price of gold on the far bigger–in terms of total dollar value of trading–London gold market. This market is called the LBMA (London Bullion Marketing Association) market. It is comprised of several large banks who are LMBA market makers known as “bullion banks” (Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorganChase, Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, Mitsui, Societe Generale, Bank of Nova Scotia and UBS). Whereas the Comex is a “paper gold” exchange, the LBMA is the nexus of global physical gold trading and has been for centuries. When large buyers like Central Banks, big investment funds or wealthy private investors want to buy or sell a large amount of physical gold, they do this on the LBMA market.
The Fed’s gold manipulation operation involves exerting forceful downward pressure on the price of gold by selling a massive amount of Comex gold futures, which are dropped like bombs either on the Comex floor during NY trading hours or via the Globex system. A recent example of this occurred on Monday, January 6, 2014. After rallying over $15 in the Asian and European markets, the price of gold suddenly plunged $35 at 10:14 a.m. In a space of less than 60 seconds, more than 12,000 contracts traded – equal to more than 10% of the day’s entire volume during the 23 hour trading period in which which gold futures trade. There was no apparent news or market event that would have triggered the sudden massive increase in Comex futures selling which caused the sudden steep drop in the price of gold. At the same time, no other securities market (other than silver) experienced any unusual price or volume movement. 12,000 contracts represents 1.2 million ounces of gold, an amount that exceeds by a factor of three the total amount of gold in Comex vaults that could be delivered to the buyers of these contracts.
This manipulation by the Fed involves the short-selling of uncovered Comex gold futures. “Uncovered” means that these are contracts that are sold without any underlying physical gold to deliver if the buyer on the other side decides to ask for delivery. This is also known as “naked short selling.” The execution of the manipulative trading is conducted through one of the major gold futures trading banks, such as JPMorganChase, HSBC, and Bank of Nova Scotia. These banks do the actual selling on behalf of the Fed. The manner in which the Fed dumps a large quantity of futures contracts into the market differs from the way in which a bona fide trader looking to sell a big position would operate. The latter would try to work off his position carefully over an extended period of time with the goal of trying to disguise his selling and to disturb the price as little as possible in order to maximize profits or minimize losses. In contrast, the Fed‘s sales telegraph the intent to drive the price lower with no regard for preserving profits or fear or incurring losses, because the goal is to inflict as much damage as possible on the price and intimidate potential buyers.
The Fed also actively manipulates gold via the Globex system. The Globex market is punctuated with periods of “quiet” time in which the trade volume is very low. It is during these periods that the Fed has its agent banks bombard the market with massive quantities of gold futures over a very brief period of time for the purpose of driving the price lower. The banks know that there are very few buyers around during these time periods to absorb the selling. This drives the price lower than if the selling operation occurred when the market is more active.
A primary example of this type of intervention occurred on December 18, 2013, immediately after the FOMC announced its decision to reduce bond purchases by $10 billion monthly beginning in January 2014. With the rest of the trading world closed, including the actual Comex floor trading, a massive amount of Comex gold futures were sold on the Globex computer trading system during one of its least active periods. This selling pushed the price of gold down $23 dollars in the space of two hours. The next wave of futures selling occurred in the overnight period starting at 2:30 a.m. NY time on December 19th. This time of day is one of the least active trading periods during any 23 hour trading day (there’s one hour when gold futures stop trading altogether). Over 4900 gold contracts representing 14.5 tonnes of gold were dumped into the Globex system in a 2-minute period from 2:40-2:41 a.m, resulting in a $24 decline in the price of gold. This wasn’t the end of the selling. Shortly after the Comex floor opened later that morning, another 1,654 contracts were sold followed shortly after by another 2,295 contracts. This represented another 12.2 tonnes of gold. Then at 10:00 a.m. EST, another 2,530 contracts were unloaded on the market followed by an additional 3,482 contracts just six minutes later. These sales represented another 18.7 tonnes of gold.
All together, in 6 minutes during an eight hour period, a total amount of 37.6 tonnes (a “tonne” is a metric ton–about 10% more weight than a US ”ton”) of gold future contracts were sold. The contracts sold during these 6 minutes accounted for 10% of the total volume during that 23 hours period of time. Four-tenths of one percent of the trading day accounted for 10% of the total volume. The gold represented by the futures contracts that were sold during these 6 minutes was a multiple of the amount of physical gold available to Comex for delivery.
The purpose of driving the price of gold down was to prevent the announced reduction in bond purchases (the so-called tapering) from sending the dollar, stock and bond markets down. The markets understand that the liquidity that Quantitative Easing provides is the reason for the high bond and stock prices and understand also that the gains from the rising stock market discourage gold purchases. Previously when the Fed had mentioned that it might reduce bond purchases, the stock market fell and bonds sold off. To neutralize the market scare, the Fed manipulated both gold and stock markets. (See Pam Martens for explanation of the manipulation of the stock market:’t-the-stock-market-sell-off-on-the-fed’s-taper-announcement/ )
While the manipulation of the gold market has been occurring since the start of the bull market in gold in late 2000, this pattern of rampant manipulative short-selling of futures contracts has been occurring on a more intense basis over the last 2 years, during gold’s price decline from a high of $1900 in September 2011. The attack on gold’s price typically will occur during one of several key points in time during the 23 hour Globex trading period. The most common is right at the open of Comex gold futures trading, which is 8:20 a.m. New York time. To set the tone of trading, the price of gold is usually knocked down when the Comex opens. Here are the other most common times when gold futures are sold during illiquid Globex system time periods:
- 6:00 p.m NY time weekdays, when the Globex system re-opens after closing for an hour;
- 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening NY time when Globex opens for the week;
- 2:30 a.m. NY time, when Shanghai Gold Exchange closes
- 4:00 a.m. NY time, just after the morning gold “fix” on the London gold market (LBMA);
2:00 p.m. NY time any day but especially on Friday, after the Comex floor trading has closed – it’s an illiquid Globex-only session and the rest of the world is still closed.
In addition to selling futures contracts on the Comex exchange in order to drive the price of gold lower, the Fed and its agent bullion banks also intermittently sell large quantities of physical gold in London’s LBMA gold market. The process of buying and selling actual physical gold is more cumbersome and complicated than trading futures contracts. When a large supply of physical gold hits the London market all at once, it forces the market a lot lower than an equivalent amount of futures contracts would. As the availability of large amounts of physical gold is limited, these “physical gold drops” are used carefully and selectively and at times when the intended effect on the market will be most effective.
The primary purpose for short-selling futures contracts on Comex is to protect the dollar’s value from the growing supply of dollars created by the Fed’s policy of Quantitative Easing. The Fed’s use of gold leasing to supply gold to the market in order to reduce the rate of rise in the gold price has drained the Fed’s gold holdings and is creating a shortage in physical gold. Historically most big buyers would leave their gold for safe-keeping in the vaults of the Fed, Bank of England or private bullion banks rather than incur the cost of moving gold to local depositories. However, large purchasers of gold, such as China, now require actual delivery of the gold they buy.
Demands for gold delivery have forced the use of extraordinary and apparently illegal tactics in order to obtain physical gold to settle futures contracts that demand delivery and to be able to deliver bullion purchased on the London market (LBMA). Gold for delivery is obtained from opaque Central Bank gold leasing transactions, from “borrowing” client gold held by the bullion banks like JP Morgan in their LBMA custodial vaults, and by looting the gold trusts, such as GLD, of their gold holdings by purchasing large blocks of shares and redeeming the shares for gold.
Central Bank gold leasing occurs when Central Banks take physical gold they hold in custody and lease it to bullion banks. The banks sell the gold on the London physical gold market. The gold leasing transaction makes available physical gold that can be delivered to buyers in quantities that would not be available at existing prices. The use of gold leasing to manipulate the price of gold became a prevalent practice in the 1990′s. While Central Banks admit to engaging in gold lease transactions, they do not admit to its purpose, which is to moderate rises in the price of gold, although Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan did admit during Congressional testimony on derivatives in 1998 that “Central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities should the price rise.”
Another method of obtaining bullion for sale or delivery is known as “rehypothecation.” Rehypothecation occurs when a bank or brokerage firm “borrows” client assets being held in custody by banks. Technically, bank/brokerage firm clients sign an agreement when they open an account in which the assets in the account might be pledged for loans, like margin loans. But the banks then take pledged assets and use them for their own purpose rather than the client’s. This is rehypothecation. Although Central Banks fully disclose the practice of leasing gold, banks/brokers do not publicly disclose the details of their rehypothecation activities.
Over the course of the 13-year gold bull market, gold leasing and rehypothecation operations have largely depleted most of the gold in the vaults of the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank and private bullion banks such as JPMorganChase. The depletion of vault gold became a problem when Venezuela was the first country to repatriate all of its gold being held by foreign Central Banks, primarily the Fed and the BOE. Venezuela’s request was provoked by rumors circulating the market that gold was being leased and hypothecated in increasing quantities. About a year later, Germany made a similar request. The Fed refused to honor Germany’s request and, instead, negotiated a seven year timeline in which it would ship back 300 of Germany’s 1500 tonnes. This made it apparent that the Fed did not have the gold it was supposed to be holding for Germany.
Why does the Fed need seven years in which to return 20 percent of Germany’s gold? The answer is that the Fed does not have the gold in its vault to deliver. In 2011 it took four months to return Venezuela’s 160 tonnes of gold. Obviously, the gold was not readily at hand and had to be borrowed, perhaps from unsuspecting private owners who mistakenly believe that their gold is held in trust.
Western central banks have pushed fractional gold reserve banking to the point that they haven’t enough reserves to cover withdrawals. Fractional reserve banking originated when medieval goldsmiths learned that owners of gold stored in their vault seldom withdrew the gold. Instead, those who had gold on deposit circulated paper claims to gold. This allowed goldsmiths to lend gold that they did not have by issuing paper receipts. This is what the Fed has done. The Fed has created paper claims to gold that does not exist in physical form and sold these claims in mass quantities in order to drive down the gold price. The paper claims to gold are a large multiple of the amount of actual gold available for delivery. The Reserve Bank of India reports that the ratio of paper claims to gold exceed the amount of gold available for delivery by 93:1.
Fractional reserve systems break down when too many depositors or holders of paper claims present them for delivery. Breakdown is occurring in the Fed’s fractional bullion operation. In the last few years the Asian markets–specifically and especially the Chinese–are demanding actual physical delivery of the bullion they buy. This has created a sense of urgency among the Fed, Treasury and the bullion banks to utilize any means possible to flush out as many weak holders of gold as possible with orchestrated price declines in order to acquire physical gold that can be delivered to Asian buyers.
The $650 decline in the price of gold since it hit $1900 in September 2011 is the result of a manipulative effort designed both to protect the dollar from Quantitative Easing and to free up enough gold to satisfy Asian demands for delivery of gold purchases.
Around the time of the substantial drop in gold’s price in April, 2013, the Bank of England’s public records showed a 1300 tonne decline in the amount of gold being held in the BOE bullion vaults. This is a fact that has not been denied or reasonably explained by BOE officials despite several published inquiries. This is gold that was being held in custody but not owned by the Bank of England. The truth is that the 1300 tonnes is gold that was required to satisfy delivery demands from the large Asian buyers. It is one thing for the Fed or BOE to sell, lease or rehypothecate gold out of their vault that is being safe-kept knowing the entitled owner likely won’t ask for it anytime soon, but it is another thing altogether to default on a gold delivery to Asians demanding delivery.
Default on delivery of purchased gold would terminate the Federal Reserve’s ability to manipulate the gold price. The entire world would realize that the demand for gold greatly exceeds the supply, and the price of gold would explode upwards. The Federal Reserve would lose control and would have to abandon Quantitative Easing. Otherwise, the exchange value of the US dollar would collapse, bringing to an end US financial hegemony over the world.
Last April, the major takedown in the gold price began with Goldman Sachs issuing a “technical analysis” report with an $850 price target (gold was around $1650 at that time). Goldman Sachs also broadcast to every major brokerage firm and hedge fund in New York that gold was going to drop hard in price and urged brokers to get their clients out of all physical gold holdings and/or shares in physical gold trusts like GLD or CEF. GLD and CEF are trusts that purchase physical gold/silver bullion and issue shares that represent claims on the bullion holdings. The shares are marketed as investments in gold, but represent claims that can only be redeemed in very large blocks of shares, such as 100,000, and perhaps only by bullion banks. GLD is the largest gold ETF (exchange traded firm), but not the only one. The purpose of Goldman Sachs’ announcement was to spur gold sales that would magnify the price effect of the short-selling of futures contracts. Heavy selling of futures contracts drove down the gold price and forced sales of GLD and other ETF shares, which were bought up by the bullion banks and redeemed for gold.
At the beginning of 2013, GLD held 1350 tonnes of gold. By April 12th, when the heavy intervention operation began, GLD held 1,154 tonnes. After the series of successive raids in April, the removal of gold from GLD accelerated and currently there are 793 tonnes left in the trust. In a little more than one year, more than 41% of the gold bars held by GLD were removed – most of that after the mid-April intervention operation.
In addition, the Bank of England made its gold available for purchase by the bullion banks in order to add to the ability to deliver gold to Asian purchasers.
The financial media, which is used to discredit gold as a safe haven from the printing of fiat currencies, claims that the decline in GLD’s physical gold is an indication that the public is rejecting gold as an investment. In fact, the manipulation of the gold price downward is being done systematically in order to coerce holders of GLD to unload their shares. This enables the bullion banks to accumulate the amount of shares required to redeem gold from the GLD Trust and ship that gold to Asia in order to meet the enormous delivery demands. For example, in the event described above on January 6th, 14% of GLD’s total volume for the day traded in a 1-minute period starting at 10:14 a.m. The total volume on the day for GLD was almost 35% higher than the average trading volume in GLD over the previous ten trading days.
Before 2013, the amount of gold in the GLD vault was one of the largest stockpiles of gold in the world. The swift decline in GLD’s gold inventory is the most glaring indicator of the growing shortage of physical gold supply that can be delivered to the Asian market and other large physical gold buyers. The more the price of gold is driven down in the Western paper gold market, the higher the demand for physical bullion in Asian markets. In addition, several smaller physical gold ETFs have experienced substantial gold withdrawals. Including the more than 100 tonnes of gold that has disappeared from the Comex vaults in the last year, well over 1,000 tonnes of gold has been removed from the various ETFs and bank custodial vaults in the last year. Furthermore, there is no telling how much gold that is kept in bullion bank private vaults on behalf of wealthy investors has been rehypothecated. All of this gold was removed in order to avoid defaulting on delivery demands being imposed by Asian commercial, investment and sovereign gold buyers.
The Federal Reserve seems to be trapped. The Fed is creating approximately 1,000 billion new US dollars annually in order to support the prices of debt related derivatives on the books of the few banks that have been declared to be “to big to fail” and in order to finance the large federal budget deficit that is now too large to be financed by the recycling of Chinese and OPEC trade surpluses into US Treasury debt. The problem with Quantitative Easing is that the annual creation of an enormous supply of new dollars is raising questions among American and foreign holders of vast amounts of US dollar-denominated financial instruments. They see their dollar holdings being diluted by the creation of new dollars that are not the result of an increase in wealth or GDP and for which there is no demand.
Quantitative Easing is a threat to the dollar’s exchange value. The Federal Reserve, fearful that the falling value of the dollar in terms of gold would spread into the currency markets and depreciate the dollar, decided to employ more extreme methods of gold price manipulation.
When gold hit $1,900, the Federal Reserve panicked. The manipulation of the gold price became more intense. It became more imperative to drive down the price, but the lower price resulted in higher Asian demand for which scant supplies of gold were available to meet.
Having created more paper gold claims than there is gold to satisfy, the Fed has used its dependent bullion banks to loot the gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) of gold in order to avoid default on Asian deliveries. Default would collapse the fractional bullion system that allows the Fed to drive down the gold price and protect the dollar from QE.
What we are witnessing is our central bank pulling out all stops on integrity and lawfulness in order to serve a small handful of banks that financial deregulation allowed to become “too big to fail” at the expense of our economy and our currency. When the Fed runs out of gold to borrow, to rehypothecate, and to loot from ETFs, the Fed will have to abandon QE or the US dollar will collapse and with it Washington’s power to exercise hegemony over the world.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
Dave Kranzler traded high yield bonds for Bankers Trust for a decade. As a co-founder and principal of Golden Returns Capital LLC, he manages the Precious Metals Opportunity Fund.
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200,000 mass in Ukraine in defiance of protest curbs

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Some 200000 Ukrainian protesters massed in central Kiev on Sunday in defiance of hugely controversial new curbs pushed through by President Viktor Yanukovyc...
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Spying revelations: Tory MP Dominic Raab attacks UK's 'comatose' reaction 

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British government 'must follow Barack Obama's lead and introduce sweeping reforms to government spy agencies'
The British government must follow Barack Obama's lead and introduce sweeping reforms to government spy agencies after revelations of mass surveillance by whistleblower Edward Snowden, an influential Conservative backbench MP said on Sunday.
Dominic Raab, who with Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert and Labour's Tom Watson secured a discussion on oversight of intelligence and security services in October, said Britain's response so far to the revelations that the US and UK spy agencies were monitoring vast amounts of personal data was "comatose".
He urged the government to follow the lead of the US president who on Friday announced the scrapping of databases holding a record of every call made in the US after acknowledging there was a "potential for abuse".
On Sunday Labour MP Hazel Blears, who sits on parliament's intelligence and security committee, admitted its members knew about an NSA program codenamed Dishfire, which it was revealed last week collected up to 200m text messages a day from around the globe.
Asked on the BBC's Sunday Politics show if the committee knew GCHQ had the capability to use the program or to get Dishfire material from the NSA, she replied: "I knew and my committee knew that we had the capability to collect metadata.
"These days people don't write letters, they don't use landline telephones, they use Skype, email, internet texting, and therefore it's important that the agencies are able to keep up with that technological change within a proper legal framework."
Writing in the Sunday Times, Raab argued that the revelations about the operating methods of the NSA and GCHQ, including Dishfire, had "shattered old assumptions about the relationship between the citizen and the state".
He added: "Reaction in America has brought sweeping reforms. It's high time we in Britain put our own house in order."
Raab praised Obama's decision to roll back the US government database, introduce the need for judicial approval of data gathering (except in emergencies), curtail the breadth of surveillance and introduce greater transparency over requests to banks, phone companies and internet providers for personal records.
"By comparison, the British reaction to this full-frontal assault on our privacy seems comatose," he said.
"The government-appointed intelligence and security committee is looking into the previous Snowden disclosures, but has too often been given the runaround by the spooks.
"We need a swift, judge-led inquiry with full powers of disclosure to determine the real scale of UK surveillance and its legality, and offer parliament recommendations to clarify the scope of legitimate surveillance and strengthen safeguards to prevent abuse.
"That is the only way to safeguard our privacy as citizens and restore some integrity to the vital work of the intelligence agencies."
The coalition's attempt to address the issue – with a proposed communications data bill in 2012, which was designed in part to put existing surveillance methods on a firmer legal footing – had failed because the "sheer scale of surveillance envisaged" had sparked a backlash, he wrote.
The British government risked facing a battle with phone and internet companies "that pride themselves on protecting their customers' data", while also leaving themselves vulnerable "to challenge in the courts, potentially exposing the taxpayer to enormous costs", he warned.
Raab argued that claims that intrusion into the public's private lives had thwarted terrorist plots did not stand up.
"In a debate last October, I asked Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, whether he could name or recall any case where such communications data had been decisive in saving life or limb. He couldn't," wrote the backbencher.
This week the Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger accused Britain's political class of ignoring the significance of Snowden's revelations in the hope they would go away rather than address key issues over mass surveillance that have provoked such heated debate in America.
"I think there is a degree of complacency here. There has been barely a whisper from Westminster. I think they are closing their eyes and hoping that it goes away," he said.
"But it won't go away because it's impossible to reform the NSA without having a deep knock-on effect on what our own intelligence services do."
Blears said that the intelligence and security committee was committed to ensuring the issue did "not go away" and had launched an inquiry into is the current legal framework.
"We've had massive technological change, we need to look at that … We obviously have to be mindful that some of the information could well be classified, but I think on the committee there is a genuine real commitment here to say look, there's a big debate going on, let's see if our system actually is as robust as we can make it." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Ukraine President to Talk with Opposition

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has promised to
talk with the opposition after a day of bloody
violence. More than 100,000 anti-government demonstrators marched in Kyiv Sunday against new laws restricting
protests. Radical activists wearing hard hats and gas masks threw rocks and gasoline bombs at the outnumbered riot police, who responded with stun grenades and water cannons in sub-freezing weather. Dozens of people were
hurt. Opposition leader Vitaly...

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Page 7

Washington Week: Lawmakers React to US Intelligence Reforms 

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The U.S. Congress is idle this week, but lawmakers are reacting to President Barack Obama’s speech on Friday announcing changes in U.S. intelligence operations. Legislators’ perceptions matter because congressional action will be required to enact some of the reforms sought by Obama.   The president announced changes in the storage of bulk data, called metadata, collected by the National Security Agency and proposed procedures the U.S. government must follow to access that data. He...

U.N. chief invites Iran to Geneva 2, Syria opposition threatens to withdraw

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Syria's political opposition said on Monday it will withdraw from international peace talks scheduled this week unless United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
retracts an invitation to Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's main backer. 


Dozens wounded in Kiev violence as anti-government protests escalate 

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Police – outnumbered by protesters armed with firebombs – respond with stun grenades, teargas and water cannon
Anti-government protests in Ukraine's capital escalated into fiery street battles with police as thousands of demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs and set police vehicles on fire. Dozens of officers and protesters were injured.
Police responded with stun grenades, teargas and, for the first time in the country's history, water cannon, but were outnumbered by the protesters. Many of the riot police held their shields over their heads to protect themselves from the projectiles thrown by demonstrators on the other side of a cordon of buses.
The violence was a sharp escalation of Ukraine's two-month political crisis, which has brought round-the-clock protest gatherings, but had been largely peaceful. President Viktor Yanukovych last week signed an array of laws severely limiting protests and banning the wearing of helmets and gas masks. Many of the demonstrators wore hardhats and masks in defiance of the new laws.
Vitali Klitschko, the leader of the Udar (Punch) opposition party, tried to calm the demonstrators down, but failed and was sprayed by a fire extinguisher in the process. "What you are doing now presets a huge danger," the reigning world heavyweight boxing champion shouted to them.
Klitschko, who said he would participate in presidential elections scheduled for spring 2015, then urged Yanukovych to announce snap presidential elections to relieve tensions. "I'm calling on Yanukovych to find strength and not repeat the fate of Ceaucescu and Gaddafi," he said, referring to the former Romanian and Libyan dictators.
He later travelled to Yanukovych's residence at Mezhyhirya outside Kiev and said the president has agreed to negotiate. Yanukovych said on his website that he had asked a working group, headed by national security council head Andriy Klyuev, to meet opposition representatives to work out a solution to the crisis.
Late last night hundreds of radical activists stormed the police cordon, attacking riot police with sticks and chains in an attempt to push their way towards the Ukrainian parliament, in front of which were parked rows of police buses.
Wearing masks and helmets to disguise their identities and equipped with sticks, chains and shields, the protesters threw stones that they had prised out from the pavement. They burned four police buses and two lorries that were blocking the road, which led to 70 policemen being wounded and 40 hospitalised, the police press service reported. With temperatures hovering at -7C, the police responded with the stun grenades and water cannon. People shouted: "Epiphany!" in response, a reference to the Orthodox Christian holiday, celebrated on Sunday, when many Ukrainians traditionally plunge into ice holes.
The police also fired rubber bullets at the protesters, medical volunteers working at the scene told the Guardian. The official opposition claimed they had nothing to do with the "provocateurs" who fought with police.
A number of western politicians and officials condemned the violence in Kiev. The US embassy said: "We urge calm and call on all sides to cease any acts provoking or resulting in violence."
The Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, posted on Twitter: "I welcome the announcement in Kiev of talks to resolve the political crisis. But a solution is only possible if there is no regime repression." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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U.N. Invites Iran to Peace Conference on Syria, Surprising U.S. Officials 

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American officials appeared to be caught off guard by the announcement and suggested that Iran had not met all the conditions for attending the conference to end the war in Syria.

UN Invites Iran to Peace Conference on Syria, Surprising US Officials - New York Times

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Sydney Morning Herald

UN Invites Iran to Peace Conference on Syria, Surprising US Officials
New York Times
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said on Sunday that he had invited Iran to an international peace conference to end the war in Syria. The announcement drew immediate objections from American officials, who suggested that Iran had not...
Syrian opposition in peace talk boycott threat over IranThe Australian 
US says Iran should only attend Syria talks if it backs transitionReuters 

UN chief invites Iran to Geneva talks
 Sydney Morning Herald 

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Islamic group claims Volgograd attacks and threatens Sochi visitors

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North Caucasus group Vilayat Dagestan warns Vladimir Putin there will be 'presents' for tourists if winter Olympics go ahead

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Chinese president gives Putin Sochi boost

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi,
China said on Monday, in a show of support for President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his political prestige on the success of the Games. 

The most expensive Olympics ever 

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The Sochi Winter Olympics so far are widely estimated to have cost over $50 billion dollars. CNN's Nic Robertson reports.
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Sochi Olympics: Militants Issue Attack Threat

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Islamist militants publish a video claiming they were behind two suicide bombings and warning of "revenge" at the Sochi Games.

Claudio Abbado, Influential Italian Conductor, Dies at 80

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Mr. Abbado led some of the world’s most revered musical institutions — including La Scala, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic.

U.S. Sending Few Security Experts to Sochi

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U.S. officials have warned of possible terror attacks surrounding the coming Olympics in Russia, yet are sending fewer security experts to Sochi than to any Games over the past decade.

Karzai demands end to US air strikes as condition for Afghanistan security deal

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Karzai urges peace talks with Taliban as he stalls on signing agreement to keep US troops beyond 2014

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