Posted at 1:20 PM (CST) by & filed under In The News.

Ukraine gives rebels deadline to disarm or face military operation
By Conor Humphries and Thomas Grove

KIEV/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine has given pro-Russian separatists a Monday morning deadline to disarm or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" by its armed forces, raising the risk of a military confrontation with Moscow.

Angered by the death of a state security officer and the wounding of two comrades near the flashpoint eastern city of Slaviansk, acting president Oleksander Turchinov gave rebels occupying state buildings until 0600 GMT to lay down their weapons.

"The National Security and Defence Council has decided to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of Ukraine," Turchinov said in an address to the nation.

He blamed Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region when Moscow-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich fled after months of pro-Western protests, for being behind the rash of rebellions across Russian-speaking towns in eastern Ukraine.

"We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of Ukraine," Turchinov said.

More…

 

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

In case you have not been watching China vs. Japan.

Japan’s scrambles against Chinese planes hit record high
April 9, 2014 7:15 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese fighter jet scrambles against Chinese planes hit a record high in the year that ended in March, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, as Sino-Japanese ties were strained by disputes over territory and interpretations of history.

Japan scrambled combat planes against Chinese aircraft 415 times during the year, up 36 percent from a year earlier. It was the highest number since the ministry started disclosing country-specific figures in 2001.

Relations have been plagued by China’s memories of Japan’s occupation of parts of China before and during World War Two and conflicting claims over a group of tiny East China Sea islets.

Tensions mounted further after China in November declared an air defense identification zone covering a large swathe of the East China Sea, including the disputed isles, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit in December to Yasukuni Shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression.

"As for China, we understand they are keeping up vigorous activities," Akira Asai, public affairs director of the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff, told a briefing.

Over the past year, Chinese fighter jets and other planes appear to have expanded their range of activities, Asai said.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Strange, global economic recovery?

Europe’s top banks cut 80,000 more staff in post-crisis overhaul
By Laura Noonan and Joshua Franklin
Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:39am EDT

(Reuters) – Europe’s largest banks cut their staff by another 3.5 percent last year and the prospect of a return to pre-crisis employment levels seems far off, despite the region’s fledgling economic recovery.

Spurred into action by falling revenue, mounting losses and the need to convince regulators they are no longer "too big to fail", banks across the globe have shrunk radically since the 2008 collapse of U.S. bank Lehman Brothers sparked the financial crisis.

Last year, the tide of bad news began to turn for European banks, which are among the region’s largest employers.

Helped by recovering economies and receding fears for the euro zone’s future, the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index .SX7P rose 19 percent, outpacing the 17.4 percent increase in multi-sector stocks.

But despite the improved outlook, Europe’s 30 largest banks by market value cut staff by 80,000 in 2013, calculations by Reuters based on their year-end statements showed.

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UN Security Council meeting called by Moscow convenes soon
DEBKAfile April 13, 2014, 11:23 PM (IDT)

Russia has called an urgent UN Security Council meeting to protest the Ukrainian government’s plan to use armed forces in eastern Ukraine. Acting Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a TV address Sunday night that he would not allow a repetition of Crimea’s annexation by Russia last month after a referendum. In the last 48 hours, pro-Russian forces seized government and police buildings in half a dozen East Ukraine cities and demanded referendums to determine their future. A Russian foreign ministry spokesman accused Ukraine of "waging war against its own people".

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

It is nothing but automated front running and manipulation.

CME Gave High-Frequency Traders Peek at Market, Lawsuit Claims
By Matthew Leising and Andrew Harris
April 13, 2014 4:22 PM EDT

CME Group Inc. (CME), owner of the world’s largest futures market, was sued by users who allege the company sold order information to high-frequency traders ahead of other market participants.

The Chicago-based company, owner of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, offers futures based on interest rates, equity indexes, currencies, energy products and agricultural commodities. The plaintiffs, in their complaint against CME and CBOT, allege “a fraud on the marketplace” and seek class-action status on behalf of exchange users. CME denied their accusations in a statement.

Sometime after the start of 2007, the CBOT and CME began letting HFTs peek “at all orders to buy and sell futures contracts before they were reflected” to the rest of the market, according to the complaint filed April 11 in federal court in Chicago. That glimpse occurred “before the person or entity entering the buy or sell order received confirmation that their order was received — in other words before anyone other than the HFTs were privy to this information.”

The debate over whether lightning-fast trading gives some investors an unfair advantage reignited this year amid government probes and the March 31 publication of “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis. While those examinations have focused mostly on U.S. equity markets — such as dark pools run by banks and exchanges owned by companies including Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., IntercontinentalExchange Group Inc., and Bats Global Markets Inc. — high-frequency traders also are active in futures markets.

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Ukraine warns of ‘large-scale operation’ against pro-Russian forces after clashes
President sets deadline for pro-Russia militiamen to lay down arms as minister says state security officer killed in Slaviansk
Alec Luhn in Slaviansk and Ian Black
theguardian.com, Sunday 13 April 2014 14.56 EDT

Ukraine is to launch a "large-scale anti-terrorist operation" to resist pro-Russian forces, the country’s president warned on Sunday following a shootout that claimed one victim in the eastern city of Slaviansk. The threat came after gunmen seized control of government buildings and fuelled international alarm about the escalating crisis.

Events on the ground suggested that the authorities in Kiev – anticipating a repeat of the Russian takeover of Crimea – were rapidly losing control of the situation, while Moscow, which denies any direct involvement in Ukraine, warned of the danger of civil war.

Armed men, widely believed to include Russian commandos, took over buildings in Slaviansk on Saturday and targeted four other cities. Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said a state security officer had been killed and five others wounded. There had been an "unidentifiable number" of casualties on the side of the separatists, Avakov said.

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Moscow accuses Kiev of issuing ‘criminal orders’ and warns of civil war
Russia orchestrating latest violence in east Ukraine and is staging another Crimea-syle intervention, claims US and Nato

Paul Lewis in Washington and Alec Luhn in Slaviansk
The Guardian, Sunday 13 April 2014 15.35 EDT

The crisis in Ukraine escalated dramatically on Sunday night as Russia accused Kiev of issuing a "criminal order" against protesters and warned of a civil war in the country, which has been hit by a wave of unrest that America believes has been orchestrated from Moscow.

The Russian statement came after unknown armed men attacked a convoy of Ukrainian troops in Slaviansk, about 100 miles from the border, launching the first gun battle in Ukraine since the standoff began, in which at least one person was killed. Both the US and Nato accused Russia of staging another Crimea-style intervention, with Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, saying events were following the same pattern as in Crimea, where unidentified military forces took over government installations before the peninsula was in effect annexed last month.

"[The unrest] is professional, it’s co-ordinated, there is nothing grassroots-seeming about it," Power said. "The forces are doing, in each of the six or seven cities they’ve been active in, exactly the same thing. Certainly it bears the telltale signs of Moscow’s involvement," she told ABC’s This Week.

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Ukraine Tension Turns Deadly as Russia Seeks UN Meeting
By Volodymyr Verbyany, Kateryna Choursina and Vladimir Kuznetsov Apr 13, 2014 6:04 PM ET

Russia sought an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council after Ukrainian security forces clashed with pro-Russian gunmen in the eastern town of Slovyansk in the latest escalation in the crisis.

The Security Council session was scheduled for 8 p.m. in New York as the U.S. and Ukrainian officials accused Russia of being behind the violence.

Camouflaged gunmen fired on units deployed by the government in Kiev in an anti-terror operation near Slovyansk, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the Russian frontier, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said today on Facebook. One serviceman was killed and five were wounded, with an unknown number of casualties on the separatist side, he said.

The confrontation followed the takeover of a regional police station in Donetsk and gun battles in which police stopped separatists from seizing buildings in other towns.

Ukrainian officers “spilled blood today in a war that is being carried out by the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said yesterday in statement on his website. “The aggressor has not stopped and continues to organize unrest in the east.”

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High-Frequency Traders Set for Curbs as EU Reins In Flash Boys
By Jim Brunsden Apr 13, 2014 6:00 PM ET

European Union lawmakers are poised to approve some of the toughest restrictions in the world on high-frequency trading, the first crackdown in the aftermath of Michael Lewis’s latest book, “Flash Boys.”

The curbs are part of revamped EU markets legislation spanning from commodity derivative speculation to investor protection. The high-frequency trading limits include standards meant to keep the price increment for securities from being too small, mandatory tests of trading algorithms and requirements that market makers provide liquidity for a set number of hours each day.

“With these rules the EU is putting in place one of the strictest set of regulations for high-frequency trading in the world,” EU financial services chief Michel Barnier said in an e-mail. “While HFT trading might bring some benefits, we need to make sure that it doesn’t cause instability, and isn’t a source of market abuse. That’s what these rules set out to achieve.”

High-frequency trading in stocks grabbed the headlines after the plunge known as the flash crash in May 2010, during which the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly lost almost 1,000 points. Controversy returned with the publication of Lewis’s book on March 31. Lewis argues that the $22 trillion U.S. stock market is rigged in favor of speed traders, who he says prey on slower investors by getting faster access to information.

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US corn exports to China drop 85 percent after ban on GMO strains – industry report
Published time: April 12, 2014 12:11

China’s rejection of shipments of US corn containing traces of unapproved genetically modified maize has caused a significant drop in exports. According to a new report, US traders have lost $427 million in sales.

Overall, China has barred nearly 1.45 million tons of corn shipments since last year, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), an American industry association, said Friday.

The tally is based on data from export companies and is significantly higher than the previous numbers reported by the media, which said roughly 900,000 tons were affected. US corn exports to China since January are down 85 percent from the same period last year, the report says.

China has been blocking shipments of American corn from its market since November. This was caused by the presence of the MIR162 genetically modified corn strain in the shipments. It was developed by the company Syngenta and has not been approved by the Chinese government since an application was submitted in March 2010.

China has sharply increased corn imports since the late 2000s, with purchases increasing from 47,000 tons in 2008 to an estimated 5 million tons last year. It was the third-largest importer of American corn before the imports of Syngenta’s GMO strain were blocked.

More…

 

Risk of ‘gas war’ grows as Ukraine halts payments to Russia
By Pavel Polityuk and Conor Humphries

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine said on Saturday it was suspending payments to Russia for deliveries of gas, ratcheting up the tension in a standoff that has the potential to leave European Union states cut off from the Russian gas supplies on which they depend.

In eastern Ukraine, where groups of pro-Russian activists have been emboldened by the Kremlin’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, a band of armed men in mismatched camouflage outfits seized a police station in the town of Slaviansk.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in confrontation since protests in Kiev forced the Moscow-backed president from office, and the Kremlin sent troops into Crimea. Now, the gas dispute threatens to spread the impact across Europe.

A large proportion of the natural gas which EU states buy from Russia is pumped via Ukrainian territory, so if Russia makes good on a threat to cut off Ukraine for non-payment of its bills, customers further west will have supplies disrupted.

Andriy Kobolev, chief executive of Ukraine’s state-run energy company Naftogaz, said the increased price Russia was demanding for its gas was unjustified and unacceptable.

"Accordingly, we have suspended payments for the period of the price negotiations," Kobolev was quoted as saying in an interview with Ukraine’s Zerkalo Nedely newspaper.

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Social Security, Treasury target taxpayers for their parents’ decades-old debts
By Marc Fisher, Published: April 10

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.

When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.

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U.S. import prices rise on surge in food costs
WASHINGTON Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:35am EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. import prices rose more than expected in March as food prices recorded their largest increase in three years, but there was little sign of a broader pickup in imported inflation.

The Labor Department said on Thursday import prices increased 0.6 percent last month after an unrevised 0.9 percent rise in February.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices rising 0.2 percent in March.

In the 12 months through March, import prices fell 0.6 percent, pointing to still weak imported inflation that is helping to keep a lid on domestic price pressures.

The lack of inflation pressures in the economy suggest the Federal Reserve could keep monetary policy very accommodative for a while even as labor market slack starts to ease.

The U.S. central bank slashed overnight interest rates to a record low of zero to 0.25 percent in December 2008 and pledged to keep them low while nursing the economy back to health.

The Fed is reducing the amount of money it is pumping into the economy each month. The minutes of its March 18-19 policy meeting published on Wednesday suggested the Fed was not eager to start raising rates when its bond-buying program ends later this year.

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G20 gives U.S. year-end deadline for IMF reforms
By Louise Egan and Anna Yukhananov
WASHINGTON Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:52pm EDT

(Reuters) – Finance chiefs from around the globe on Friday gave the United States until year-end to ratify long-delayed reforms to the International Monetary Fund and threatened to move forward without it if it fails to do so.

The inability to proceed with giving emerging markets a more powerful voice at the IMF and shoring up the lender’s resources appeared the most contentious issue for officials from the Group of 20 leading economies and the representatives for all IMF member nations who met with them.

In a final communiqué, G20 finance ministers and central bankers said they were "deeply disappointed" with the delay.

"I take this opportunity to urge the United States to implement these reforms as a matter of urgency," Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank spring meetings.

The reforms would double the Fund’s resources and hand more IMF voting power to countries like the so-called BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The U.S. Congress has refused to sign off on the overhaul, which was agreed to in 2010, and the failure overshadowed even the crisis in Ukraine and the spillover effects of ultra easy monetary policies in advanced economies in the discussions.

Some Republicans have complained the changes would cost too much at a time Washington was running big budget deficits. The reforms also ran afoul of a growing isolationist trend among the party’s influential Tea Party wing.

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Ukraine’s Slavyansk under siege as Kiev orders crackdown on protests
Published time: April 13, 2014 06:17 
Edited time: April 13, 2014 08:09

There are reports from the scene of a gunfight in the city of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, where anti-government protesters seized several buildings. It comes after Kiev announced an “anti-terrorist operation” against the protesters.

Helicopters are flying over the defiant city in the Donetsk region. The aircraft are Ukrainian, judging by two white markings on their tails painted on all Ukrainian military hardware to distinguish them from Russian ones of the same design. Armored infantry vehicles have been also spotted near the city.

Local residents said several transport helicopters landed at an old airfield some 5 kilometers from the town center. Troops wearing black uniforms disembarked and went toward Slavyansk.

The shooting reportedly started at a checkpoint, which was established by protesters Saturday evening on the outskirts of the city.

At least three people, including one civilian, have been injured in the fighting and have been taken to the local hospital, some reports claim.

Approaches to the city have been blocked by uniformed troops besieging the city, RIA Novosti reported. Local bus services from the city have been canceled due to the blockade, Itar-Tass reported.

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Ukraine officer killed in gun battle in east
By PETER LEONARD

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city Sunday, with at least one security officer killed and five others wounded. It was the first reported gunbattle in eastern Ukraine, where armed pro-Russia men have seized a number of government buildings in recent days.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post that a Security Service officer was killed in Slovyansk, where the police station and the Security Service office were seized a day earlier by camouflaged armed men. He also reported a number of casualties among the militia, but did not offer a number.

An Associated Press reporter found a bullet-ridden SUV on the side of the road and a pool of blood on the passenger seat where the gunbattle was supposed to have taken place.

Vladimir Kolodchenko, a lawmaker from the area who witnessed the attack, said a car with four gunmen pulled up on the road in a wooden area outside Slovyansk and open fire on Ukrainian soldiers who were standing beside their vehicles. Both attackers and the Ukrainian servicemen left soon after the shooting.

Unrest has spread to several municipalities in eastern Ukraine, including the major industrial city of Donetsk, which has a large Russian-speaking population.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

According to this Max Keiser report 40 central banks are starting to stock up on the petro yuan.

 

US ponders military exercises in Baltics in bid to reassure Russia’s neighbours

Joe Biden says US exploring sending ground troops to Baltic region to try to prevent further territorial aggression by Russia
Dan Roberts in Washington
theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 March 2014 14.43 EDT

The US is considering sending ground troops to the Baltic states on new military exercises as it seeks to reassure Nato allies in eastern Europe of its commitment to preventing further territorial incursion by Russia.

Vice president Joe Biden spoke of the plan during a meeting with the Estonian president Toomas Ilves after calls for a tougher US response to Russia’s attempted annexation of the Crimea.

It follows a Pentagon announcement of extra US F-15 jets to join Nato patrols in Poland and the Baltic on March 5, and recent requests by the Ukrainian government for possible US military assistance outside the Nato area.

“We are exploring a number of additional steps to increase the pace and scope of our military co-operation, including rotating US forces to the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises – as well as training missions,” said Biden.

President Ilves called on Nato to put “the east-west relationship on a new standing” after events in the Ukraine.

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Separatist violence spreads to three more East Ukraine towns
DEBKAfile April 12, 2014, 10:14 PM (IDT)

Firing is reported in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region of E. Ukraine Saturday night when men tried to storm local administration buildings and police fired back. In Sloviensk, separatists occupied a police station and security buildings, while in Druzhkovna, buildings were also taken over. A Donetsk police chief quit after pro-Russian crowds marked on a police station demanding his resignation.

Friday, the Ukraine prime minister offered to grant sweeping autonomous powers to restive regions.

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Ukraine’s far-right leader calls for Right Sector’s total mobilization
Published time: April 12, 2014 19:22 
Edited time: April 13, 2014 10:34

Far-right Right Sector party leader Dmitry Yarosh has called his supporters to mobilize and get ready to take decisive steps to ‘defend Ukraine’s sovereignty’. He urged the security forces not to interfere but help the nationalists restore ‘legal order’.

In an online video on the Right Sector Youtube page Yarosh “commanded all arms of the Right Sector to fully mobilize and get ready to take decisive steps to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“I call upon the Ukrainian security forces not only to refrain from counteracting the Right Sector, but also help [the party members] to bring legal order to the Ukrainian land,” he said.

On Monday radical activists representing the Right Sector attempted to storm Kiev’s Supreme Court building, demanding the adoption of lustration legislation, which implies that people connected to the former regime may not hold office in the new authority.

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Ukraine prepares armed response as city seized by pro-Russia forces
By Pavel Polityuk and Thomas Grove

KIEV/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Armed separatists took control of a city in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and Kiev prepared troops to tackle what it called an "act of aggression by Russia", pushing the conflict between the neighbors into a dangerous new phase.

Pro-Russian activists carrying automatic weapons seized government buildings in Slaviansk, a town about 150 km (90 miles) from the Russian border, and set up barricades on the outskirts of the city.

In Kramatorsk, some 80 km to the north, gunmen seized the police station after a shootout with police, a Reuters witness said.

Government buildings in several other towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were attacked in what Washington said were moves reminiscent of the events that preceded Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

"We are very concerned by the concerted campaign we see under way in eastern Ukraine today by pro-Russian separatists, apparently with support from Russia," said Laura Lucas Magnuson, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.

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Russia says armed action by Ukraine would threaten peace talks

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia warned the United States on Saturday that any armed action by Ukrainian authorities in the east of Ukraine would undermine efforts at a diplomatic solution to the conflict and put planned peace talks at risk.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the warning during a call from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who expressed concern about Russia’s role in "inciting" trouble in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Separatists have seized state premises in eastern Ukrainian towns in recent days.

Lavrov said Ukraine was "demonstrating its inability to take responsibility for the fate of the country".

He said that any use of force against Russian speakers in the east of Ukraine "would undermine the potential for cooperation … including the holding of planned four-party talks in Geneva" on April 17 between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.

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Biden to visit Kiev to show U.S. support for Ukraine unity: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Kiev on April 22 to meet with government officials and civil society groups ahead of the Ukrainian presidential election in May, the White House said on Saturday.

"The vice president will underscore the United States’ strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path," the White House said in a statement.

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Paul Craig Roberts – Why This Collapse Will Be So Horrific

Today former US Treasury official, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, spoke with King World News about why the coming collapse will be so horrific.  Dr. Roberts also warned about the lies and corruption which are now engulfing the U.S., as well as how this is beginning to impact the way other countries around the world view Washington.  Below is what Dr. Roberts had to say in this powerful interview.

Eric King:  “When you say 2014 will be the year of reckoning for the United States, how bad will it get here, in your opinion?”

Dr. Roberts:  “It could get very bad, particularly as American prestige has taken such hard hits — not just in Ukraine, but also with the announcement by the retiring prosecuting attorney of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  He announced that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by the political people at the top of the SEC because ‘they were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing cases.’….

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Armed pro-Russian protesters seize city in eastern Ukraine
US announces Joe Biden will visit Kiev as unrest spreads, adding to fears that conflict could disrupt energy supplies across Europe
Reuters in Kiev and Slavyansk, Ukraine
theguardian.com, Saturday 12 April 2014 21.12 EDT

Armed separatists took control of a city in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and Kiev prepared troops to tackle what it called an "act of aggression by Russia", pushing the conflict between the neighbours into a dangerous new phase.

Pro-Russian activists carrying automatic weapons seized government buildings in Slavyansk, a town about 90 miles from the Russian border, and set up barricades on the outskirts of the city.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that vice president Joe Biden would travel to Kiev on 22 April to show support for the Ukrainian government. He will become the most senior US official to visit the country since the crisis began.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, spoke by telephone to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, according to the state department. An official said: "[Kerry] expressed strong concern that attacks today by armed militants in eastern Ukraine were orchestrated and synchronised, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

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Posted at 1:07 PM (CST) by & filed under Jim's Mailbox.

Jim,

ECB QE will be on the way by June or so. I suspect Draghi believes the ECB will NOT follow the outline given to it by the German Constitutional Court.  This will create a constitutional crisis in Germany. I suspect the ECB may have to undertake QE without Germany.

ECB would need to go beyond ABS market for potential QE: Draghi
By Jan Strupczewski and Krista Hughes
WASHINGTON Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:26pm EDT

(Reuters) – The European Central Bank could not rely solely on purchases of asset-backed securities (ABS) if it resorts to unconventional steps to boost inflation, given the limited supply of the securities, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Saturday.

If the ECB starts injecting money into the economy using asset purchases, it is expected to choose a mix of government and private assets, including ABS, which collapsed during the financial crisis and are still recovering.

"The present size of the ABS market is about 100 billion (euros) so it is relatively small," Draghi told a news conference in response to a question on how useful the ABS market could be in the ECB’s unconventional policy measures.

"We may even consider other unconventional measures."

Speaking on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank spring meetings in Washington, where the issue of weak euro zone inflation took center stage, Draghi said bond purchases had to be guided by European Union law and take into account European companies’ preference for financing themselves through bank loans rather than issuing bonds.

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Jim,

“The West is scared of BRICS as it has no control over it”
–Ex-Indian Foreign Secretary

They should be.

CIGA Larry

Posted at 7:15 PM (CST) by & filed under In The News.

My Dear Extended Family,

For your weekend consideration:

1. Where is the Plunge Protection Team? A lower opening on a Friday morning clearly indicated their absence in rigging the equity indices.

2. Where is the Exchange Stabilization Fund that has for years defended the .80 level on the USDX? Its failure to rise above this .80 level and hold over the last three days indicates their absence.

There is always a reason why.

What do they know is pending that makes them willing to pull back their support to lower levels? Clearly they know equities and the dollar are going meaningfully lower. Petro dollar developments seem the most likely.

Regards,
Jim

 

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Mr. Williams shares the following with us.

- March PPI Jumps Unexpectedly in Its Unstable Restructuring
- Updated PayrollEmployment Trend and Concurrent Seasonal Adjustments

"No. 618: March Producer Price Index"
Web-page: http://www.shadowstats.com

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Extending extensions will be the rule.

White House offers extension on completing Obamacare enrollment
By Noam N. Levey
March 25, 2014, 7:55 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration plans to allow consumers to complete enrollment for health insurance under Obamacare after next week’s deadline as long as they declare that they started the process before the end of the month.

Officials said they were making the move now in anticipation of a last-minute rush of consumers seeking health insurance ahead of the March 31 deadline. On Monday, more than 1.1 million people visited HealthCare.gov, the second-largest traffic day on the site, the White House said.

Consumer advocates have been urging the administration to provide additional time to prevent people being shut out of coverage because of last-minute problems. But officials repeatedly had said they would not waive the March 31 deadline. They continued to say Tuesday that the new extension for some consumers did not contradict that.

“Open enrollment ends March 31. We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment — either online or over the phone,” Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said.

More…

 

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Charles Nenner talks about gold at 26 minutes. He will be buying in July for a run above $2,000.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP_scbQz5mM

 

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Now they are getting as screwy as the other side.

No more iPads for Russian officials
26 March 2014 16:31 (Last updated 26 March 2014 16:49)

Russian government has forbidden the use of Apple’s ipad tablets within government agencies for security reasons.

Russian government has forbidden the use of Apple’s iPad tablets within government agencies for security reasons, Nikolai Nikiforov, the country´s Minister of Communications and Mass Media said on Wednesday.

Reports from Russian Itar-Tass news agency indicate that the Russian government has moved from using iPads to Samsung tablets.

“Samsung tablets are specially protected devices that can be used for processing confidential data. Some information at cabinet sessions is confidential, and Samsung devices completely satisfy these requirements as they have undergone the strictest certification,” the minister said.

The minister added that the move is not linked to any sanctions against US-based Apple and the change happened a short time ago.

The move came after the U.S. and EU announced sanctions against Russian officials.

Russia officially annexed Crimea from Ukraine after an independence referendum on March 16 in which 96.7 percent of the region’s voters chose to join the Russian Federation.

More…

Supporters gather to defend Bundy ranch in Nevada from feds
Published time: April 11, 2014 16:27

An intense showdown in the state of Nevada between a family of ranchers and federal agents continues to escalate after a longstanding land dispute two decades in the making came to a head earlier this month.

As RT reported earlier this week, hundreds of armed agents with the United States Bureau of Land Management and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have descended on the Clark County, Nevada ranch of 67-year-old Cliven Bundy to execute the court-ordered confiscation of nearly 1,000 cattle, according to his family, which the US government says have trespassed on federal property.

The Washington Free Beacon newspaper reported on Monday this week that 234 of the 908 cattle had been wrangled up by government agents and their contractors, and news of the dispute has since further propelled the story into the national spotlight.

Now it’s been reported that local cowboys have retrieved some of the confiscated cattle, and supporters of the Bundy ranch from around the region have flocked to Nevada to stand by their side.

Since the Beacon first reported on the standoff earlier the week, tensions have only worsened in Clark County. Video emerged online on Wednesday of the rancher’s son, Ammon Bundy, bloodied after being shocked by an electric Taser used by authorities, and Desert Newsreported that, according to Cliven Bundy, his own sister was knocked to the ground by officials moments before cameras began to roll.

One witness, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, told reporters that “Serious bloodshed was narrowly avoided” as a pregnant woman was also roughed up during the ordeal.

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EU taking Putin’s letter on gas transit ‘seriously’ – Merkel
Published time: April 11, 2014 18:13 
Edited time: April 11, 2014 19:08

The EU is taking seriously President Vladimir Putin’s letter to 18 European countries, in which he warned that Ukraine’s debt crisis could affect gas transit from Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

"There are many reasons to seriously take into account this message […] and for Europe to deliver a joint European response,” Itar-Tass reported Merkel as saying.

She said the issue would be discussed in a meeting between European Union foreign ministers Monday.

Speaking in Athens on Friday, Merkel stressed that the price on natural gas should be negotiated. She also said that EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger and representatives of European states should talk to Russia’s biggest gas producer, Gazprom.

“When we take all these steps, we can be sure that we have reached a joined response for the countries that face this problem because they are getting gas from Gazprom,” Merkel said, adding European states" would like to be good clients but we would also like to be sure Russian gas supplies are not interrupted."

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

How about we go abroad and get snatched by the Russians? This tit for tat activity is going to end badly. Putin will go to war if this game of chicken escalates over, of all places, Crimea.

Russians warned if they go abroad, US might snatch them
US secret services are actively ‘hunting’ and jailing Russians in revenge for the annexation of Crimea – or so a warning by the Russian Foreign Ministry says.
By Fred Weir

It’s not your typical travel advisory.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is warning that Russians should refrain from traveling abroad because they could be entrapped by US secret services who are actively "hunting" for Russians to persecute in punishment for Moscow’s recent annexation of Crimea, according to an official notice published on the Ministry’s website.

The message seems directed at the approximately 15 million Russians, most of them middle-class, who leave the country each year for tourism.

It says the US, which "unreasonably" refuses to accept the reunification of Russia and Crimea, is seeking revenge by "trying to make a routine practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens in third countries with the goal of extraditing them to the US, where they will be convicted [and jailed] on what are usually doubtful charges."

And it adds that "justice in America" is biased against Russians, who can be "kidnapped" and taken to the US without even notifying Russian consular officials about what is happening. The two cases cited as examples are old bones of contention between Russia and the US: those of convicted arms trader Viktor Bout and convicted cocaine smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko, both of whom were arrested in third countries and extradited to the US for trial.

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Russia warns: Civil war could be coming
From Bloomberg:

Ukrainian authorities sent security forces to Kharkiv to clear the country’s second-biggest city of separatists as Russia traded accusations with the U.S. and warned that its neighbor’s crackdown risks sparking civil war.

An "anti-terrorist operation" is under way in Kharkiv, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, with the subway closed and the downtown area sealed off, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said today. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said 150 specialists from a U.S. private security company, Greystone, are involved in putting down protests. Ukraine countered that most of those behind the unrest are Russian and denied U.S. advisers are involved.

"We call for the immediate halt of all military preparations, which risk sparking a civil war," the ministry in Moscow said in a statement on its website.

Russia and the U.S. are on a collision course after tensions flared in Ukraine over the weekend and diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis faltered. The U.S. threw its weight yesterday behind the contention of Ukrainian officials that some pro-Russian separatists who seized administration buildings in the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk were paid provocateurs brought in from outside.

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Treasury announces more sanctions against Crimea
April 11, 2014, 3:55 p.m. EDT
By Greg Robb

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The Treasury Department announced Friday that it is levying additional sanctions against seven high-level officials who aided Russia’s move to annex the Crimea region of Ukraine. "Crimea is occupied territory. We will continue to impose costs on those involved in ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," said David Cohen, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Russia’s decision to annex Crimea came after the region voted in a hastily arranged referendum to join the country. The new Treasury list the organizers of the referendum and other top officials. One energy company seized by the new Crimean government was also sanctioned. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Thursday told his Russian counterpart that the U.S. is ready to increase sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

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CIA and White House under pressure after Senate torture report leaks
Senate committee found CIA interrogations and detentions to be ‘brutal’ and urges administration to release report as quickly as possible
Spencer Ackerman in New York
theguardian.com, Friday 11 April 2014 10.44 EDT

A leak of the major findings of a landmark Senate inquiry into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees led, on Friday, to intensified pressure on the White House and the CIA to release the inquiry speedily and with a minimum of redactions.

The classified study, prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, concluded that the CIA’s interrogations, secret detentions and outsourced torture sessions were “brutal, and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.”

More suspected terrorists underwent the agency’s post-9/11 treatment, which largely lasted from 2002 to 2006, than the CIA has publicly admitted, according to the report’s findings, which were first reported by McClatchy. Last week, committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California stated that the Senate investigated the cases of 100 detainees– dozens more than previously known to have gone through the CIA’s so-called “interrogation, detention and rendition” programs.

In addition to misleading policymakers, the Senate report charges the CIA with selectively and leaking classified and inaccurate information to journalists in order to portray the program in a positive light.

“The CIA manipulated the media by co-ordinating the leak of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” the committee found.The agency also, according to the report, provided factually inaccurate information to Bush administration lawyers, who relied on it to concoct the legal theories that underpinned an apparatus of torturous interrogations and detentions that quickly spread to US military facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The study took four years and $40m to complete, and has brought the relationship between the CIA and the Senate panel overseeing it to perhaps its lowest ebb in history.

More…

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Misses And The Train Wreck Continues
April 11, 2014 by adam hewison

Hello traders everywhere! Adam Hewison here, President of INO.com and co-creator of MarketClub, with your video update for Friday, the 11th of April.

The market was a little caught off guard this morning when JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) announced their earnings, which not only disappointed investors, but missed expectations by 19%. That’s a lot like playing golf and missing a sure fire birdie putt.

Yesterday’s market action really set the tone and the perception for today. Make no mistake about it, yesterday was a big and important day to a lot of traders.

I have talked about this many times before on this blog and that is the power of perception. The perception now in many traders’ minds is that this is going to be more of a two-way street in the marketplace for stocks. Some stocks will do well, while others will fall as the perception of their growth fades in traders’ minds.

Yesterday, I posted a special report on natural gas. Why natural gas is going higher is anyone’s guess. It could be a reflection of what is going on in the Ukraine or any of a hundred different reasons. Check out this report right here.

In today’s video update, I’ll be looking at the major indices, gold, crude oil and the dollar.

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At the start of the year, I stated that this is not going to be a year like 2013, which was like a no-brainer for people who just followed the technicals. This year is going to be decidedly different, there will still be lots of opportunities to make money, we just have to be more selective about it.

Every success with MarketClub,
Adam Hewison
President, INO.com
Co-Creator, MarketClub

 

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Who trusts the new Brown Shirts?

Ukraine fails to break stalemate with pro-Russian protesters in east
Arseniy Yatsenyuk promises devolution to local government in hope of staving off demands for their independence from Kiev
Alec Luhn in Donetsk, Oksana Grytsenko in Luhansk and agencies
The Guardian, Friday 11 April 2014 15.03 EDT

Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, attempted and failed on Friday to break a tense deadlock in the country’s east, where armed pro-Russian protesters have barricaded themselves inside government buildings and demanded independence from Kiev.

Protesters in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk seized government buildings on Sunday. While police managed to clear the Luhansk protest site swiftly, protesters in Donetsk and Kharkiv remain entrenched.

Yatsenyuk met officials from the eastern regions in Donetsk and promised to expand the powers of local government bodies and preserve the status of Russian as a second official language. But he did not meet representatives of the protesters who have declared a "people’s republic" from a Donetsk administrative building and demanded that a referendum on independence be held by 11 May

A 48-hour deadline to clear the occupied buildings announced by Ukraine’s interior minister came and went without incident, despite persistent rumours of an impending assault by government forces. Protest leaders said negotiations to clear the building had come to a standstill.

In Luhansk, further east, dozens of men remained barricaded inside the state security service headquarters, armed with Kalashnikovs. They demand a referendum on federalising Ukraine.

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‘It’s over’: Palestinian militants in Jenin believe peace process is at an end
Armed groups threaten a new uprising as talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority stutter
By Robert Tait, Jenin
7:23PM BST 10 Apr 2014

An ear-splitting explosion in the dead of night seemed to herald the moment when Palestinian residents of Jenin refugee camp decided that negotiations with Israel were not taking them on the path to peace.

The blast was caused by a massively-armed Israeli anti-terror unit blowing off the doors of the "safe house" where Hamza Abu Alheja, a wanted Hamas militant, had been tracked down after months of hiding in the densely-populated West Bank camp.

A fearful fire fight followed in which a torrent of heavy missiles wreaked destruction on the two-storey dwelling, where another 15 people, including women and children, had been asleep.

"The Israelis only allowed the other residents to leave after shooting at the house for 45 minutes," said Azmi Mohammed al-Hosnieh, 67, the owner, standing amid the wreckage of an upstairs flat, where a wall had collapsed in the onslaught. "My son Mohammed was shot through the shoulder and my daughter was hit in the face with shrapnel."

The mayhem ended with the death of Mr Abu Alheja, 22, who fired back at his pursuers and then tried to escape by jumping from an upstairs window before being shot through the head by a sniper.

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Wholesale Prices in U.S. Rise on Services as Goods Stagnate
By Lorraine Woellert
April 11, 2014 10:07 AM EDT

Wholesale prices in the U.S. rose in March as the cost of services climbed by the most in four years while commodities stagnated.

The 0.5 percent advance in the producer-price index was the biggest since June and followed a 0.1 percent decrease the prior month, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The recent inclusion of services may contribute to the gauge’s volatility from month-to-month, which will make it more difficult to determine underlying trends.

Rising prices at clothing and jewelry retailers and food wholesalers accounted for much of the jump in services, even as energy costs retreated, signaling slowing growth in emerging markets such as China will keep price pressures muted. With inflation running well below the Federal Reserve’s goal, the central bank is likely to keep borrowing costs low in an effort to spur growth.

“Every six months or so service prices seem to pop, but over the year, service prices tend to dampen inflation more often than not,” Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial in New York, wrote in a note. “One month of price gains is not indicative of a trend.”

Also today, consumer confidence climbed this month to the highest level since July, a sign an improving job market is lifting Americans’ spirits. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary April sentiment index rose to 82.6 from 80 a month earlier.

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Ukraine Miners Don Camouflage as East Revolt Mimics West
By Volodymyr Verbyany  Apr 11, 2014 8:07 AM ET 

If they can do it in Kiev, we can do it in Donetsk.

That’s what Roman Romanenko says as he organizes the occupation of this eastern Ukrainian city’s seat of government, which he and hundreds like him seized to protest Kiev’s new leadership. Clad in fatigues and a blue beret, the 35-year-old former paratrooper quit his coal-mining job to come here.

“My miner’s soul told me to be here,” said Romanenko. “Those people in Kiev spat on us. They think Ukraine is only western Ukraine and are ruling as they please.”

Romanenko and his fellow activists, entrenched in the building where ousted President Viktor Yanukovych once ruled as governor, are demanding a vote on greater autonomy, joining similar movements in other heavily Russian-speaking cities in the country’s east. Outside is a scene reminiscent of Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan, before rallies for closer ties with Europe turned deadly in February, leading to Yanukovych’s downfall and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

While the eastern uprising looks and feels like Maidan, the roles have been reversed, with support coming from the east instead of the west as former Cold War rivals trade accusations of secret plots to spark unrest. Russia, with 40,000 troops across the border, said attempts by federal Ukrainian forces to quell the demonstrations threaten to lead to civil war.

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Posted at 7:06 PM (CST) by & filed under King World News.

Dear CIGAs,

Today former US Treasury official, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, warned King World News that 2014 will be a dangerous year of reckoning for the United States.  Dr. Roberts also warned a collapse is coming that will be so powerful it will overrun the Exchange Stabilization Fund and other measures now in place by central planners to protect against such catastrohic market events.  Below is what Dr. Roberts had to say in this remarkable interview.

Dr. Roberts:  “The people who are saying that the Ukraine crisis will cause a flight to safety and a rise in the dollar’s value are overlooking the main impact of the crisis in the Ukraine which comes from Washington’s threat of sanctions against Russia.  And the Russian government replied to this threat by announcing that they were simply leaving the dollar-based payment system….

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Posted at 12:07 PM (CST) by & filed under Jim's Mailbox.

Jim,

As anticipated, Brazil led the BRIC charge at the IMF meeting. The US is clearly being dislodged as defacto head of IMF with the only dispute being timing. Germany and Australia appear to be the G20 members taking the lead to reduce the heat on Russia as NG reality settles in. I’m unclear what the IMF is going to do about Ukraine with Brazil and the other BRICS opposed to any Ukraine loans.

CIGA Craig

G20 gives U.S. year-end deadline for IMF reforms
By Louise Egan and Anna Yukhananov
WASHINGTON Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:52pm EDT

(Reuters) – Finance chiefs from around the globe on Friday gave the United States until year-end to ratify long-delayed reforms to the International Monetary Fund and threatened to move forward without it if it fails to do so.

The inability to proceed with giving emerging markets a more powerful voice at the IMF and shoring up the lender’s resources appeared the most contentious issue for officials from the Group of 20 leading economies and the representatives for all IMF member nations who met with them.

In a final communiqué, G20 finance ministers and central bankers said they were "deeply disappointed" with the delay.

"I take this opportunity to urge the United States to implement these reforms as a matter of urgency," Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank spring meetings.

The reforms would double the Fund’s resources and hand more IMF voting power to countries like the so-called BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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Jim,

Egon is seeking to level the playing field by revealing the assertions of Christine Lagarde simply don’t hold water and is an attempt to continue the false premise that the return to normal markets is just around the corner.

Christine can blow smoke with the best of them. Someday soon their smoke and mirror game will be revealed for all to see what is behind the curtain. CIGA Larry

Global Implosion & Why The IMF Just Lied To The Entire World

Today a 42-year market veteran spoke with King World News about a coming global financial implosion and why the IMF just lied to the entire world.  Below is what Egon von Greyerz, who is founder of Matterhorn Asset Management out of Switzerland, had to say in his interview in the powerful interview.

Greyerz:  “Eric, all of the problems in the world have been solved and the risk of another global downturn is zero.  At least this is what the IMF has just pronounced.  The IMF points to the strong recovery in the U.K. and the U.S. as evidence of this.  Let’s first take a look at the U.K…..

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Jim,

It is highly unlikely countries can unilaterally reverse the flow of NG through these pipelines without the written consent of Gazprom. Slovakia appears willing to live within the law while Hungary does not.

CIGA Craig

Slovakia seeks gas talks with Ukraine, Russia, EU; Hungary set to supply Kiev
By Jan Lopatka and Krisztina Than
PRAGUE/BUDAPEST Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:44pm EDT

(Reuters) – Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico called for talks with Ukraine, Russia and the European Commission to ensure his country can reverse gas flows to Kiev without violating existing contracts, while Hungary said it could do so at once.

Financially-strapped Ukraine has been anxious to obtain affordable natural gas since Russia tore up a discount negotiated under Kiev’s former president Viktor Yanukovich and this month raised the price it must pay for gas from Russian supplier Gazprom by 80 percent.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been in crisis since the pro-Russian Yanukovich was ousted by protesters seeking closer ties with Europe, prompting Russia to seize and annex Ukraine’s Russian-majority Crimea region.

Fico told reporters on Thursday he supported projects to send gas to Ukraine but needed to ensure Slovakia gets paid and avoids violating contracts with Gazprom.

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Jim,

I suspect this barter deal will move forward whether the US likes it or not.

CIGA Craig

Craig,

The petro dollar is nearing its end in term of existence.

Jim

U.S. warns Russia over any oil-for-goods deal with Iran
WASHINGTON Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:21pm EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told his Russian counterpart on Thursday that any oil-for-goods deal Moscow might strike with Iran could run afoul of U.S. sanctions.

"Secretary Lew reiterated our serious concerns regarding reports of a possible deal between Russia and Iran involving oil-for-goods," a Treasury representative said in a statement after Lew met with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

"He made clear that such a deal … could trigger sanctions against any entity or individual involved in any related transactions," the representative said.

Lew also told Siluanov a deal would run counter to an agreement between Iran and six world powers, including the United States and Russia, in which Tehran promised to curb its nuclear program in return for a modest easing in Western sanctions. The sanctions were imposed to choke off Iran’s oil revenues.

Reuters reported last week that Iran and Russia had made progress on a barter deal that could be worth up to $20 billion under which Moscow would provide Russian equipment and goods in exchange for Iranian oil.

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Posted at 2:58 PM (CST) by & filed under Jim's Mailbox.

Jim,

I wonder if Merkel will cancel her planned trip to the US. US senior political and intel officials are CLUELESS as to German antipathy to surveillance state given the Stassi. This is a blowback in the making.

CIGA Craig

Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file
Frustration with US government rises over failure to clear up questions about surveillance of German chancellor’s phone
Paul Lewis in Washington and Philip Oltermann in Berlin
theguardian.com, Thursday 10 April 2014 18.31 BST

The US government is refusing to grant Angela Merkel access to her NSA file or answer formal questions from Germany about its surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by the German chancellor to Washington.

Merkel will meet Barack Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring her phone.

The face-to-face meeting between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains frustrated by the White House’s refusal to come clean about its surveillance activities in the country.

In October, Obama personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However, Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin immediately after Snowden’s first tranche of revelations appeared in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the revelations over Merkel’s phone.

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Posted at 2:57 PM (CST) by & filed under In The News.

Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Fear of the strong Euro is at the heart of this.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

One little step forward, another little step backwards.

Bank of China Sydney branch issues 2 bln yuan bonds

BEIJING, April 10 (Xinhua) — Bank of China’s Sydney branch issued 2 billion yuan (325 million U.S. dollars) of yuan bonds on Wednesday, the first yuan bond in Australia, the bank announced on Thursday.

The two-year bonds, with a coupon rate of 3.25 percent, were well-received in the market, oversubscribed 1.45 times.

Some 27.5 percent of the bonds were subscribed by local investors, said the bank.

The leading underwriters of the issue include Bank of China, ANZ, National Australia Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Westpac Banking Corporation.

The Bank of China said it has filed application to the Australian Stock Exchange for the bond to be traded at the exchange.

The moves came amid China’s increasing efforts to facilitate use of yuan in the global market.

Earlier in February, the Sydney branch of Bank of China and the Australian Stock Exchange signed a yuan clearing settlement to jointly develop an RMB clearing system.

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Eastern Ukraine erupts. Should we be surprised?
This week’s outpouring of pro-Russian sentiment in eastern Ukraine was long in the making, despite the apparent calm there after Crimea’s annexation.
By Mike Eckel April 9, 2014 5:23 PM

For many, the sudden seizure of buildings in Donetsk was as unexpected as the arrival of masked, armed soldiers in Crimea six weeks ago.

In eastern Ukraine, as in Crimea, a majority of the population is ethnically Russian. In many regions, such as Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk, loyalties to Russia also run strong, and distrust of the new government in Kiev runs deep. And as in Crimea, many ethnic Russians voice fears – exaggerated or not – of discrimination at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists who helped topple the previous government.

However, until this weekend, eastern Ukraine had appeared calm. Nobody had attempted a coup or uprising; no paramilitary soldiers patrolled the streets.

But while Sunday’s separatist upheaval may have appeared spontaneous, its underlying forces had been building for some time. And tacit encouragement from Moscow, if not outright manipulation, helped to bring Donetsk and other cities to the boil.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Victim of Obama Care?

Sebelius Resigns After Troubles Over Health Site
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
APRIL 10, 2014

WASHINGTON — Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning, he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.

The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, convince a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall.

Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.

Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.

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Yes, the SEC was colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions
By Felix Salmon
April 9, 2014

Back in 2011, I asked whether the SEC was colluding with banks on CDO prosecutions. And now, thanks to an American Lawyer Freedom of Information Request, we have the answer: yes, they were.

This comes as little surprise: it beggared belief, after all, that every bank would end up being prosecuted for one and only one CDO. But now we have chapter and verse: the key precedent, it seems, was the first one, Goldman Sachs.

The SEC filed its case against Goldman and Tourre on April 16, 2010. Three days later Goldman reached out with a $500 million settlement offer, according to an email that Reisner sent Khuzami. Although that proposal was close to the final payment, it took another three months to announce a settlement. As Khuzami described to Kotz, Goldman wanted a global settlement that resolved not just the Abacus investigation but the SEC’s probes into roughly a dozen other Goldman CDOs.

Khuzami didn’t want to give Goldman that public victory. When the SEC and Goldman announced on July 16, 2010, that the investment bank would settle the Abac­us case for $550 million, the SEC said in a press release that the settlement “does not settle any other past, current or future SEC investigations against the firm.”

Khuzami was determined that Goldman’s payment only be linked to ABACUS. “This was not a $550 million settlement for 11 cases,” Khuzami told Kotz. “We may tell Goldman that we are concluding our investigations in these other matters without recommending charges, but that doesn’t mean we’re settling them. And that was an important point for us, because we didn’t want them out there saying, you know, they settled 12 CDO investigations for an average of $30 million each, and, you know, didn’t [Goldman] get a great deal.”

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IMF chief says eurozone stimulus is likely
Paul Davidson, USA TODAY2:46 p.m. EDT April 10, 2014

WASHINGTON — International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde predicted Thursday that the European Central Bank will soon launch stimulus measures to combat low inflation, saying the main question is timing.

"We have an ongoing dialogue with European authorities," Lagarde told reporters at the outset of the annual spring meeting of the IMF and World Bank. "I think it is going to be a question of timing now."

IMF officials have called for European officials to take bolder steps to jump-start the euro zone’s sluggish recovery. Last week, ECB President Mario Draghi said he has "unanimous" backing from board members to use "unconventional tools" to fight meager inflation that threatens growth.

One tool is bond purchases to lower long-term interest rates — similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s program that is now being wound down. Another is adopting negative short-term interest rates, which means the ECB would charge banks to hold their excess cash to encourage them to lend it instead.

Some ECB officials have suggested it may be too soon for those steps, noting that a drop in annual inflation in March to just 0.5% may be due to a late Easter that weakened consumer spending, and prices could rebound in April. Draghi said last week that the ECB does not currently see an increased risk of deflation, or falling wages and prices, but more information is needed to assess the outlook.

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Military assaults against pro-Russian occupiers rumoured in eastern Ukraine
Buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk remain occupied despite an offer of amnesty for those who leave peacefully
Alec Luhn
theguardian.com, Thursday 10 April 2014 12.58 EDT

Rumours of imminent military assaults on the government buildings seized by pro-Russian protestors kept tensions simmering in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, despite an offer of amnesty for those who leave the buildings peacefully.

After pro-Russian protesters demanding referenda on greater autonomy from Kiev stormed government buildings in the eastern regional capitals of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk over the weekend, rumours of a military response by the Ukrainian authorities have run rampant. While negotiations have been held in recent days, reports on Thursday suggested government forces were poised for a possible attack. A masked guard told those entering the occupied Donetsk building on Thursday afternoon: "You’ve been warned – you may not come out!"

Although police managed to quickly evict protestors from the Kharkiv administration building and a security service building in Donetsk, the Donetsk administration building and the security service headquarters in Luhansk remain in protesters’ hands. But interior minister Arsen Avakov said on Wednesday morning that "a solution to this crisis will be found within 48 hours", noting that an "anti-terrorist operation" was ready to spring into action at any moment. Avakov’s suggested deadline will run out on Friday morning.

A Donetsk news publication tweeted a photo on Thursday of a long line of transport trucks and artillery it said was a Ukrainian military deployment on the outskirts of the city. Television news reports later said locals armed with clubs had blocked an artillery brigade moving toward Donetsk and forced it to turn around.

The situation was also fraught in Luhansk, where combat veterans calling themselves the Army of the Southeast have kept a tight hold on the security service building and reportedly seized a cache of machine guns. Protesters outside the building continued to stockpile Molotov cocktails and laid down spike strips to puncture tyres on nearby roads, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported. On Thursday morning, police cleared 10 vehicles that had blocked off a military base in Luhansk late the night before, according to local media.

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Jim Sinclair’ Commentary

This is already here.

Christine Lagarde: huge government and bank debts risk new financial crash
IMF head argues for global co-operation on financial stability, warning against risky investments and low eurozone inflation
Phillip Inman Washington
theguardian.com, Thursday 10 April 2014 08.47 EDT

Head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde issued a warning to world leaders on Thursday that they need to do more to deal with huge government and bank debts that continue to drag on growth and undermine the stability of the financial system.

Ahead of a set-piece address at the organisation’s spring conference in Washington, Lagarde said leaders need to co-operate in their efforts to repair government and bank finances to protect against a repeat of the 2008 crash.

Lagarde also vented her frustration at persistent delays to the IMF’s own reform programme, which was agreed in 2010 to increase representation from developing nations but has yet to be implemented.

She described the delay as "utterly disappointing" and pledged to press ahead "to ensure the continued legitimacy, relevance, financial strength, and effectiveness of the Fund".

The warnings against complacency echoed a report earlier in the week by the IMF that chastised Brussels for failing to put in place a financial lifeboat capable of rescuing more than a few small banks.

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Putin warns Kiev against irreversible mistakes
By Nicolas Miletitch and Dmitry Zaks in KievApril 9, 2014 12:43 PM

Lugansk (Ukraine) (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Wednesday a positive outcome to the first international peace talks on Ukraine but also upped the pressure by warning Kiev’s interim leaders against making any irreversible mistakes.

The veteran strongman’s mixed message came as Kalashnikov-wielding separatists barricaded inside state offices in the Russified east of Ukraine remained locked in a standoff that the country’s police chief said should be resolved within 48 hours but may require the use of force.

A seeming breakthrough in the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War era emerged Tuesday when US and EU diplomats managed to convince both Moscow and Kiev to come together for four-way negotiations that one source in Brussels said should be held in Vienna on April 17.

At stake are not only the vast ex-Soviet state’s territorial integrity and political future but also the fate of the West’s relations with Moscow and all the repercussions this carries for global security in the coming years.

Putin signalled that he expected the talks to follow his idea of turning Ukraine into a loose federation whose eastern regions could establish their own diplomatic and trade relations with Russia — a proposal rejected by Kiev outright.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Here is the cause of a lot of concern over the petro dollar.

Russia rejects US warnings over oil deal with Iran
Senior diplomat suggests Russia may go ahead with deal to buy Iranian oil, possibly undermining nuclear talks.
By The Associated Press | Apr. 10, 2014 | 2:39 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian diplomat on Wednesday angrily rejected U.S. warnings against striking an oil-for-goods contract with Iran, saying that Moscow wouldn’t be intimidated by threats.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency that an increase in Russian-Iranian trade is a "natural process that doesn’t involve any elements of political or economic challenge to anyone."

Russian business daily Kommersant has reported that Moscow plans to buy 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day, a deal that would shatter an export limit defined by an interim nuclear agreement world powers and Iran reached last year.

Iran has agreed to temporarily limit its atomic work, which the West fears could be a cover for developing nuclear weapons, in return for some sanctions relief. Six world powers, including Russia, and Iran are working on a fuller deal that would place long-term restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to all economic sanctions.

The six-month interim agreement, which went into effect in January and expires in July, allows Iran to continue exporting a total of 1 million barrels a day of oil to six countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. The promise didn’t apply to Russia, which wasn’t an existing customer of Iran’s petroleum industry.

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Stocks take another tumble; eBay heads lower
Stocks slide on Wall Street; Volatile biotechnology sector takes another plunge; eBay down
By Matthew Craft, AP Business Writer 2 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Another plunge in the biotechnology sector led stock indexes down Thursday, as Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences and other biotech companies extended a recent slump. EBay fell after Carl Icahn abandoned an effort to shake up the company and Bed Bath & Beyond fell after reporting weak sales figures.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 24 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,848 as of 12:50 p.m. Eastern time.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 144 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,292 and the Nasdaq composite index lost 98 points, or 2.4 percent, to 4,085.

OUT OF FAVOR: Biotech stocks have gone from investor favorites to pariahs. After making big gains last year, biotechs have been crushed in recent weeks as they come under pressure to lower prices for their drugs. Biogen dropped $14.33, or 5 percent, to $286.35 and Gilead slid $4, or 6 percent, to $66.65. Both roughly doubled in value last year.

Other recent favorites also took a drubbing. Facebook, another stock that doubled last year, sank $2.28, or 4 percent, to $60.15.

UP, THEN DOWN: The market’s drop wiped out gains made earlier in the week. On Wednesday, minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting reassured investors that the central bank wasn’t in a hurry to raise interest rates. The S&P 500 had its best day in a month.

"I look at this and I think the market is looking for a reason to go higher," said Brad McMillan, Chief Investment Officer for Commonwealth Financial. "Every time it seems to have one, the next day it goes, ‘Nah, not good enough.’ "

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What economic recovery is the Fed looking at?
Thu, Apr 10 13:54 PM EDT
By Phil Wahba

April 10 (Reuters) – Family Dollar Stores Inc, seeking to reverse declining sales and profit, said on Thursday it is slashing prices to win shoppers, cutting jobs, and shutting hundreds of weak performing stores.

The discount retailer, which caters to lower income shoppers, many living paycheck to paycheck, reported sales at stores open at least a year fell 3.8 percent in the quarter ended March 1. It expects sales to decline this quarter, too.

Family Dollar Chief Executive Howard Levine on a call with investors pointed to "a more financially constrained consumer," echoing recent comments from rivals. Wal-Mart Stores Inc a few weeks ago said sharp cuts in food stamp benefits and higher payroll taxes had pinched its customers.

"There’s still in a big part of the economy where price matters," said Wharton Business School professor Barbara Kahn.

A group of U.S. retailers posted sales figures suggested consumers remained cautious in March.

The Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index, which tracks monthly sales at stores open at least a year at some key retailers, registered a 2.4 percent increase for March, below last year’s result of 2.7 percent.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

A victory for the banks, yet a defeat for mankind.

Derivatives Rules Softened in Victory for Banks
By Matthew Leising  Apr 10, 2014 10:20 AM ET 

In a victory for banks, global financial regulators revised rules governing how much money must be set aside to cover losses by swaps traders, backing away from guidelines that firms warned would destabilize the $693 trillion derivatives market.

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision’s final rule, released today, would require swaps dealers to hold less cash to protect against defaults than did a proposal published last year. The plan now applies a minimum 20 percent risk weighting to money deposited at clearinghouses, which are third parties that guarantee the transactions, down from 1,250 percent in the originalproposal. The change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

The interim plan had threatened to boost costs as much as 92 times, according to calculations by three banks shared with Bloomberg News. The risk from that original rule, which was last revised in 2013, was the higher costs could have caused market participants to flee rather than take advantage of the clearinghouses, making it more difficult for the third parties to safeguard the swaps market.

Defusing Derivatives

“They really had people spending a year thinking about it, and they reversed it,” said Chris Cononico, president of GCSA LLC, a New York-based underwriter that’s seeking to insure derivatives clearinghouses. “The banks should be very happy,” he said. The proposed rule “seems to have evaporated,” he added.

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Moscow may be planning intervention in eastern Ukraine, US warns
John Kerry fears potential Crimea-style action after pro-Russian forces cement control of government building in Donetsk
Paul Lewis in Washington, Shaun Walker in Moscow, and Oksana Grytsenko in Kharkiv
theguardian.com, Tuesday 8 April 2014

The US issued a stark warning on Tuesday that Moscow could be orchestrating another Crimea-style intervention in eastern Ukraine, after pro-Russian forces cemented their control of a government building in the city of Donetsk and there were claims that in Lugansk protesters had taken up to 60 people hostage.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, described recent developments in eastern Ukraine as "more than deeply disturbing" and repeated threats of western sanctions against Russia, which he said would be extended to the country’s energy, banking and mining sectors.

Kerry blamed pro-Russian protests in eastern Ukraine on "special forces and agents" sent by Moscow in a move he said "could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea".

He was speaking to the Senate foreign relations committee as Ukraine’s state security service said pro-Russian separatists had placed explosives in a building they seized in the eastern city of Lugansk on Sunday and were holding about 60 people against their will.

The protesters, who are believed to have weapons, denied they had taken any hostages.

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Pro-Russian occupiers of Ukrainian security service building voice defiance
Army of the Southeast members say they are former members of Ukraine’s Berkut special police force
Alec Luhn in Luhansk
theguardian.com, Wednesday 9 April 2014 19.32 EDT

"You want to know our demands, talk to the people," said a masked commander of the pro-Russian protesters occupying the security service headquarters in Luhansk.

The commander declined to provide his name but said he had fought protesters during deadly clashes in Kiev as a member of the infamous Berkut riot police, lifting his shirt to show a long scar.

"I’ll tell you this much: We will fight these faggots," he said, referring to the new government in Kiev.

As negotiations continued on Wednesday with government representatives, the apparently well-organised group of pro-Russian protesters who call themselves the Army of the Southeast struck a defiant stance after seizing the security service building on Sunday.

Members of the building’s defence who identified themselves as former Berkut (special police) officers from other regions said they would not to fire first but that if attacked they would fight back until Russian forces arrived.

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NATO commander says US troops may be deployed to Europe over Ukrainian crisis
Published time: April 09, 2014 20:45 
Edited time: April 09, 2014 22:33

The United States Air Force commander in charge of the NATO alliance’s military presence in Europe said on Wednesday this week that US troops may soon be deployed to the region as tensions continue to worsen near the border between Ukraine and Russia.

In an interview with the Associated Press, US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said that forthcoming plans intended to ensure stability in Europe for the NATO partners in the area could involve the mobilizing of American troops.

Representatives from the 28 countries involved in the multinational organization have asked Breedlove — a four-star general who has since last year served as the supreme allied commander of NATO’s European operations — to have a plan ready by early next week, according to the AP’s John-Thor Dahlburg, to reassure partners in the region “that other alliance countries have their back.”

Breedlove told the newswire that he has every intention of unveiling his proposal ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline, and that he wouldn’t "write off involvement by any nation, to include the United States."

When asked by the AP for clarification about the potential for US military involvement, Breedlove reportedly reiterated, "I would not write off contributions from any nation.”

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Putin tells Europe Ukraine gas debt ‘critical’, transit threatened
Published time: April 10, 2014 12:25 
Edited time: April 10, 2014 16:59

President Putin has written to 18 European countries, warning that Ukraine’s debt crisis has reached a “critical” level and could threaten transit to Europe. He also called for urgent cooperation, blaming Russia’s partners for a lack of action.

Among the countries who’ll receive the letter are major consumers of Russian gas such as Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland and Romania.

Given the accumulated $2.2 billion gas debt owed by Ukraine’s Naftogas, Russia’s Gazprom will be forced to ask Ukraine for advance payments, Putin said in his letter to European partners, referring to the 2009 gas contract signed between Moscow and Kiev.

“In other words, we’ll be supplying exactly the volume of gas that Ukraine pays for a month in advance,”as Itar -Tass quotes Putin’s letter.

Putin added that introducing advance payments would be an extreme measure.

“We understand that this increases the risks of unsanctioned retrieval of gas flowing through the territory of Ukraine to European consumers. And it could also hinder accumulation of gas supplies in Ukraine necessary to provide for consumption during the autumn-winter period.”

Stable transit of Russian gas to Europe would require an additional 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas for Ukraine’s underground storages, which would cost $5 billion, Putin explained.

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Posted at 11:11 AM (CST) by & filed under In The News.

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Have They Decided To “Get Out Of The Way?”
Author : Bill Holter
Published: April 9th, 2014

Yesterday the Wall Street journal wrote that Goldman Sachs may be in the process of shutting down their “Sigma X” dark pool clearing.  Little more than 2 weeks ago they first announced that they would no longer “play” in the HFT games and followed this by announcing they would give up their “Designated Market Maker” status on the NYSE.  Why, what’s up with this?

Speculation on my part but it seems to me like “they know.”  They know that something VERY BIG is afoot.  This “something” could be one of many possibilities but a firm like Goldman Sachs who has gorged at the table of American financial plenty forever would never ever leave if there was still food at the table.  Please remember that they are second only to JPM with their “trading” prowess over the last few years.  They have had less than a handful of “losing days” while JPM has had 1,300+ straight days of trading gains without a single loss.  I have written on this before and won’t go into it again but I will say that this is absolutely impossible.  This track record could never mathematically or statistically happen except where the casino is “rigged” with an iron fist.

Maybe this is exactly what Goldman is looking at.  Maybe they see that the “iron fist” is just beginning to or will lose its grip?  Maybe they see that regulators cannot look the other way anymore?  Maybe their “profits” have gotten skinny and they are making a business decision that the only thing left is bone as the flesh and muscle have already been consumed?  Maybe they feel like they are expending too much “effort” and not being “paid” for this effort.  Maybe they feel like there are just too many markets with “loose threads” hanging out there to keep track of?  Maybe they feel like the “weight” of painting all markets 24/7 to keep the rig in place has gotten too heavy for them?  Or, maybe it’s a little of all of the above and they know what is coming and have decided to simply “get out of the way?” “Getting out of the way” would be my guess.

Thinking back to 2003 or ’04, Rothschilds made this decision regarding gold and exited the “London price fix” arrangement in my opinion because they knew what was coming.  They knew that the “pressure” was to the upside and decided to no longer lean against it.  I believe that Goldman understands that what is coming will take almost everything with it.  There will be no “bail outs” this time and there will be no “TARP’s” because the funds available and the ability of governments to sack the Treasuries (again) no longer exists…they are broke.  I believe that Goldman is adopting the “every man for himself” strategy and pulling in their horns.  They don’t want their capital “in the way” and are simply withdrawing it similar to a player standing up and walking away from the poker table.

The thing is this, Goldman was the “house” or at least was betting with the house and they obviously see that something is wrong.  I believe that they understand that everything is “mispriced.”  Not just mispriced but grossly mispriced and that their trading played a huge part in the “mispricing” as they provided capital used to push, pull, smash and levitate the various markets.  I have said all along that the markets were all, each and every market, part of a grand “painting.”  This painting has been used by Washington and Wall Street (and their foreign counterparts) to point to as proof that their policies were working.  LOOK! They would say at the stock market…or interest rates or what have you as proof that “all is well.”

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De-invest from the West: Russia urges companies to return assets to the motherland
Published time: April 09, 2014 12:08

As the US and Europe escalate talks of sanctions, Russia is recommending companies unregister abroad and bring their shares to the Moscow Exchange to protect from possible future sanctions and provide economic security.

“Companies that have listed shares on the New York Stock Exchange, London need to seriously reconsider,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday.

Sanctions by the West have ramped up over the geopolitical action in Ukraine, and Russian business and politicians have been the target of asset freezes and visa bans.

The government will not force companies to delist and return to Russia, but Shuvalov said the Russian state and the Moscow Exchange will work together to create “attractive conditions” for companies to make the switch.

“This is a question of economic security,” the minister said. The US continues to ramp up economic sanctions against Russia, which has spooked investors and resulted in a massive $70 billion outflow of capital since the beginning of 2014, according to Economics Minister Andrei Klepach.

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Israel’s PM Office voices extreme disappointment in Kerry
DEBKAfile April 9, 2014, 6:03 PM (IDT)

A high-ranking member of Binyamin Netanyahu’s bureau issued a statement Wednesday expressing “extreme disappointment with US Secretary John Kerry for putting on Israel the blame” for the breakdown of Middle East peace talks.  “Kerry knows perfectly well that the Palestinians repeatedly interrupted the talks with refusals to carry on, said ‘no’ to dialogue with Israel, rejected his own framework proposal for the extension of talks,  and refused to address Israel as the Jewish national state.”  The Israeli official reminded the US Secretary that the Palestinians refused even to meet him, or even consider prolonging the negotiations.

By letting the Palestinians off the hook, Kerry encourages them to harden their rejectionist attitude and so undermine the chances of the talks getting anywhere, the official said. He added Israel was willing to continue peace efforts, but would also take its own unilateral steps in response to Palestinian unilateral actions. Wednesday, Netanyahu ordered government ministries to suspend cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and its heads.

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Long-Term Unemployment Trend for Older Workers Is Terrifying
By Amanda Alix
April 6, 2014

Even as the national unemployment rate has remained elevated compared to its pre-financial-crisis level, workers aged 55 years and older have enjoyed a much lower rate of joblessness when compared with younger Americans.

Unfortunately, this scenario is a double-edged sword. While many employees of the baby boomer generation lucky enough to have secure jobs are continuing to work, often past the traditional retirement age of 65, those who lose their jobs during midlife are not so lucky. Many of these workers are now faced with becoming a special subset of the long-term unemployed: the permanently jobless.

A desperate situation
Being out of work for 27 consecutive weeks will earn you the moniker "long-term unemployed", but for older workers, the situation is more dire. While many younger workers experience loss of employment for about 34 weeks, those over 55 suffer joblessness for an average of 45 weeks.

Why are things so very tough for the older crowd? A few theories exist, all of which have some merit. Some point to age discrimination, noting that complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have shot up markedly since the onset of the financial crisis. Others note that employers doubt older workers’ ability to catch up with workplace technology, or worry that their skills have become too rusty overall.

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Moldova’s breakaway region ‘dreams of being with Russia’: leader
April 7, 2014 5:37 PM

Chisinau (AFP) – The leader of Moldova’s pro-Moscow breakaway region on Monday urged the country’s politicians to start discussions that would allow Transdniestr to formally join Russia.

"Our dream is a prosperous independent Trasndniestr together with Russia," Yevgeny Shevchuk said in a state of the nation address.

"The time for solutions over Trasndniestr has come," he added in the hour-long speech.

Pro-Western Moldova warned Moscow last month against trying to annex its Russian-speaking region after Trasndniestr officials appealed to be brought under the Kremlin’s control.

Chisinau’s warning came in the wake of Moscow’s takeover of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea after locals voted to split from Kiev last month.

"I propose that Moldova’s politicians make a wise, bold and responsible move and start discussing how to legally formalise the real state of affairs," Shevchuk said.

The move, he said, would strengthen stability in the region.

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Fed dropped jobless target in secret meeting
April 9, 2014, 2:00 p.m. EDT
By Greg Robb

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Federal Reserve officials had a secret video conference call in early March to discuss overhauling its communication to the market and reached a general consensus that the 6.5% unemployment rate threshold for the first rate hike was outdated, the central bank said Wednesday. A summary of the video conference was included in the minutes of the Fed’s March 18-19 meeting released by the Fed. On the conference call, the central bankers were clearly worried that changing the forward guidance would impact markets. They noted that, going into the video conference, the Fed and the markets were on the same page about the outlook for short-term interest rates. The minutes of the March 18-19 meeting also reveal that there was concern that the markets would read too much into the "dot plot" which showed an upward shift in the Fed’s expectations for short-term rates. Officials also spelled out headwinds that would keep rates low even after the first rate hike. These headwinds included higher precautionary savings by consumers.

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Minutes Show Fed Struggled To Agree On Rate Policy
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
Wednesday April 9, 2014 2:02 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve struggled last month over how to convey to investors the pace at which it will raise short-term interest rates once it increases them from record lows.

Two weeks before the Fed’s regular meeting March 18-19, it held an unusual and previously unannounced videoconference to debate the issue, according to minutes of the meeting released Wednesday.

In the end, the Fed settled on an open-ended approach: That even after employment and inflation are nearly back to normal, short-term rates may need to stay unusually low for a while because the economy isn’t fully healthy.

Stock and bond investors read the minutes to signal that the Fed plans to favor low short-term rates longer than many had assumed. Stocks rose sharply after the minutes were released, and bond yields fell. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had risen modestly before the minutes were released, was up 154 points 30 minutes later.

Investors have been intensely following the Fed’s guidance on rates because higher short-term rates would elevate borrowing costs and could hurt stock prices.

The minutes covered the first Fed meeting at which Yellen presided as well as the March 4 videoconference. At both sessions, the issue of the language the Fed uses in its statements to signal the timing of future policy actions was a topic of extended debate.

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Gold Erases Losses After Fed Meeting Minutes Released
By Debarati Roy
April 09, 2014 2:16 PM EDT

Gold erased declines after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting showed several policy makers said a rise in their median projection for the main interest rate exaggerated the likely speed of tightening.

“Several participants noted that the increase in the median projection overstated the shift in the projections,” the minutes of the March 18-19 Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last month that the central bank may end its debt-buying program this year and raise interest rates in 2015.

Gold slid 28 percent in 2013, partly as the outlook for less monetary stimulus dimmed the appeal of metal as an inflation hedge. Prices rebounded this year, climbing 8.9 percent through yesterday, partly as U.S. economic growth faltered.

“The Fed sounds less hawkish than it did last month, which is good for gold,” Michael Gayed, the chief investment strategist at Pension Partners LLC, said in a telephone interview. “The market is confused because there are so many contradicting signals from the Fed.”

Gold for immediate delivery gained less than 0.1 percent to $1,309.12 an ounce at 2:15 p.m. New York time. Earlier, prices fell as much as 0.6 percent.

The precious metal jumped 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011 as the Fed bought debt and cut interest rates to a record in a bid to boost the U.S. economy.

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Spot gold pares losses after Fed minutes; futures end lower

Spot gold pared earlier losses on Wednesday after the minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting showed the central bank struggled over how to convey to investors how fast it will raise short-term interest rates once it increases them from record lows.

The Fed held a previously unannounced March 4 videoconference to debate the issue in advance of its regular March 18-19 meeting.

Spot gold was last at $1,312 an ounce, up 0.3 percent and off an earlier high of $1,314 an ounce. U.S. gold futures for June delivery settled $3.20 lower at $1,305.50 an ounce ahead of the Fed announcement,

Worries over Ukraine, as well as technical momentum after a break above $1,300, helped lift gold nearly 1 percent on Tuesday, but uncertainty over U.S. monetary policy and weak physical and investment appetite curbed that rally.

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U.S. Stocks Rise as Fed Minutes Ease Concern on Rates
By Callie Bost
April 09, 2014 2:31 PM EDT

U.S. stocks rose, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index yesterday snapped a three-day slide, as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting eased concern about the timing of future interest rate hikes.

Alcoa Inc. (AA) advanced 3.6 percent after earnings topped estimates and the company forecast that global demand for aluminum will exceed production this year. Facebook Inc. climbed 5.6 percent, extending a rebound in technology stocks after a selloff. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. surged 5.8 percent as shares of biotechnology companies rallied the most in seven sessions.

The S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent to 1,868.85 at 2:30 p.m. in New York. The Nasdaq 100 Index climbed 1.4 percent, after a 0.9 percent advance yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 152.49 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,408.63. Trading volume of S&P 500 stocks was in line with the 30-day average at this time of day.

“These minutes are calming for the markets,” Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial LLC, which manages about $414 billion, said by phone from Boston. “It was clearly stated that the projections overstated the likely shift in rates. A slower pace of interest rates seems more likely here than from the statements.”

Several Fed policy makers said a rise in their median projection for the main interest rate exaggerated the likely speed of tightening, according to minutes of their March 18-19 meeting released today.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

The Secretary doth protest too much.

Kerry: Administration’s Foreign Policy Not ‘Spinning Out of Control’
April 8, 2014 – 7:31 PM
By Patrick Goodenough

(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State John Kerry took exception Tuesday to an assertion by a Republican senator that the Obama administration’s foreign policy is “spinning out of control,” declaring that “that’s just not true.”

“You can’t help but get the impression our foreign policy is just spinning out of control,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department budget. “And we are losing control in virtually every area that we are trying to do something in.”

Risch cited developments in Russia, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – but focused on the Russia-Ukraine situation.

“This administration said they were going to hit the reset button [with Moscow] and I can’t help think that somebody hit the wrong button,” he said.

The Russians were behaving “worse than they have in decades,” Risch said, pointing to Russia’s continued presence in Georgian territory it seized in 2008, its current actions in Ukraine, and its support for the Assad regime in Syria as tens of thousands continue to die.

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Dr. Paul Craig Roberts: Gold and The Dollar Are In A Fight to the Death!

 

Donetsk’s pro-Russian activists prepare referendum for ‘new republic’
Protesters declare Kiev government illegitimate and fire its officials appointed to east Ukraine region
Alec Luhn in Donetsk
The Guardian, Tuesday 8 April 2014 15.56 EDT

Irina Grinenko rushed through the barbed-wired barricades and into the occupied regional administration building in Donetsk, rolls of toilet paper in one hand and a bag of bandages in the other.

"If they attack us, I will bandage people," the pro-Russian protester said, adding that she expected an assault by non-local law enforcement personnel.

"We will be here until the end, until they beat us out or meet our demands … I want an autonomous region on good terms with Russia," she added.

Pro-Russian protesters built new barricades and dug in for a long occupation of the administration building on Tuesday, readying themselves for expected "provocations" by Ukrainian police or demonstrators sympathetic to the Euromaidan protests and to the new government in Kiev.

Meanwhile, a loosely organised temporary government inside the building began laying the groundwork for a referendum on the "sovereignty" of the newly declared Donetsk republic, which it plans to hold simultaneously with similar referendums in Lugansk and Kharkiv some time before 11 May.

At a session on Tuesday afternoon, the temporary body declared illegitimate the regime that had "violently usurped" the government in February, and announced it was firing all the officials it had appointed in Donetsk.

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Russia to meet EU and US for talks over Ukraine crisis
Top-level talks scheduled for next week as tense standoff with pro-Russia separatists continues in eastern Ukraine
Shaun Walker
theguardian.com, Wednesday 9 April 2014 08.18 EDT

The Ukrainian authorities have said they will end the occupation of administrative buildings by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, either by negotiations or force, within 48 hours, as four-way talks between Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU were announced for next week in an attempt to defuse the tense situation.

"A resolution to this crisis will be found within the next 48 hours," said the interior minister, Arsen Avakov, in Kiev, referring to the eastern cities of Luhansk and Donetsk where protesters remained in control of government buildings.

"For those who want dialogue, we propose talks and a political solution. For the minority who want conflict, they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities," he said.

In Luhansk, the protesters did not appear in the mood to compromise, and on Wednesday they were reinforcing the barricades around the security services building they have seized and preparing petrol bombs.

In Donetsk, protesters remain in control of the local administration building, from where on Monday they proclaimed Donetsk an independent republic and said they would hold a referendum within a month on the region’s status and whether it should appeal to join Russia.

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Ukraine tries to quell pro-Moscow uprisings
By PETER LEONARD

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities moved to quell pro-Moscow uprisings along the Russian border with mixed results Tuesday, retaking one occupied regional headquarters and watching protesters consolidate their hold on another.

In a third city, Luhansk, Ukraine’s Security Service said separatists armed with explosives and other weapons were holding 60 people hostage inside the agency’s local headquarters.

Those occupying the building issued a video statement saying they want a referendum on the region’s status and warning that any attempt to storm the place would be met with armed force.

In the video, posted by Ukrainian media, a masked man identified the occupiers as Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and said that if authorities try to retake the building, "Welcome to hell, then!"

The Ukrainian government and the U.S. have accused Moscow of fomenting the unrest as a pretext for another Russian military incursion like the takeover of Crimea last month. Up to 40,000 Russian troops are massed along the Ukrainian border, according to NATO.

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Jim Sinclair’s Commentary

Each step forward for the Chinese currency is a small step backwards for the US dollar.

Central banks’ investment in yuan puts currency nearer reserve status
Investment by dozens of central banks comes despite currency not being fully convertible
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 4:38am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 6:24pm
Jeanny Yu in Singapore

At least 40 central banks have invested in the yuan and several others are preparing to do so, putting the mainland currency on the path to reserve status even before full convertibility, Standard Chartered said.

Twenty-three countries have publicly declared their holdings in yuan, in either the onshore or offshore markets, yet the real number of participating central banks could be far more than that, said Jukka Pihlman, Standard Chartered’s Singapore-based global head of central banks and sovereign wealth funds.

Pihlman, who formerly worked at the International Monetary Fund advising central banks on asset-management issues, said at least 12 central banks had invested in yuan assets without declaring they had done so.

The US dollar is still the world’s most widely held reserve currency, accounting for nearly 33 per cent of global foreign exchange holdings at the end of last year, according to IMF data. That ratio has been declining since 2000, when 55 per cent of the world’s reserves were denominated in US dollars.

The IMF does not disclose the percentage of reserves held in yuan, but the emerging market countries’ share of reserves in "other currencies" has increased by almost 400 per cent since 2003, while that of developed nations grew 200 per cent, according to IMF data.

Pihlman said "a great number of central banks are in the process of adding [yuan] to their portfolios".

"The [yuan] has effectively already become a de facto reserve currency because so many central banks have already invested in it," he said. "The [yuan] may become a de facto reserve currency before it is fully convertible."

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