The Daily IndigoStar7 / News Ticker

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 11:05am
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Inevitably, Iraq will revert to chaos/5th largest crude reserves

Baghdad Blasts Kill 57 as Political Tensions Rise

By Khalid Al-Ansary and Nayla Razzouk - Dec 22, 2011 8:08 AM ET

Civilians were targeted in bombings across Baghdad that killed 57 people amid an escalation of political infighting in Iraq that has followed the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

Today’s attacks also injured 176, Ziad Tariq, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, said by phone from the capital. Residential areas, schools and shops were hit, said Qassim Atta al-Mousawi, spokesman for the security forces in Baghdad. The blasts took place in mainly Shiite Muslim areas, where security forces cordoned off areas and some businesses shut for the day.

“The timing of the crimes and the choice of their areas confirms again to all those in doubt the political nature of the objectives that these people want to achieve,” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a statement on his website. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

Tensions between al-Maliki’s Shiite-led allies and Sunni politicians have intensified since a warrant was issued this week for the arrest of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges. The case comes amid concern that the U.S. pullout will leave a security vacuum in Iraq, which seeks investment and expertise to develop the world’s fifth-largest crude reserves.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/iraq-blasts-rock-baghdad-as-nine-explosions-kill-31-injure-more-than-140.html

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 11:08am
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U.S. mea cupla for AFPAK border clash

U.S. Shares Blame for Pakistan Border Clash

By James Rupert - Dec 22, 2011 7:23 AM ET

U.S. military forces in Afghanistan share responsibility for the Nov. 26 border clash that resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers, the Defense Department said in a statement today.

“Inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistan military officers” and “our reliance on incorrect mapping information” helped allow the battle to take place, the Pentagon said in the statement. “For the loss of life -- and for the lack of proper coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses -- we express our deepest regret,” it said.

The late night strike, in which U.S. helicopters fired rockets at two Pakistani border posts, led Pakistan to close its territory to military supplies for American forces in Afghanistan, and to suspend much of its military and intelligence cooperation with the U.S.

“If the U.S. investigation is accepting responsibility in this incident, it will be very helpful and provide space for the Pakistani military and civilian leaderships to move toward improving relations with the United States,” said Talat Masood, an independent political analyst and retired army lieutenant general in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital....

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/u-s-military-says-it-shares-blame-for-november-clash-on-pakistan-border.html

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 11:21am
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Fed Loan disclosures/Trillion $ Secrets Archive (must see link)

Fed Loan Disclosures


Trillion-Dollar Secret

Bloomberg's series "Trillion-Dollar Secret" exposed details of the Federal Reserve's rescue of the financial system during the 2007 to 2009 crisis. The data, which the Fed guarded until Congress and a court order forced their disclosure, revealed a banking industry in trouble so deep it needed loans of up to $1.2 trillion on a single day. The numbers surprised U.S. lawmakers, who told Bloomberg they were unaware of the scope of the bailout even as they crafted laws aimed at preventing the need for another one.

https://topics.bloomberg.com/fed-loan-disclosures/

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 10:28pm
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Sentiment way too negative / Did we bottom out recently?

Guest Post: Are You Tempted To Sell, Or Eager To Buy? Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/22/2011 19:12 -0500

Submitted by Jeff Clark of Casey Research

Are You Tempted to Sell, or Eager to Buy?

It wasn't a fun week for gold. By the close on Friday, the metal was down 6.7% (based on London PM fix prices), the biggest weekly decline since September. It got downright irritating when the mainstream media seemingly rejoiced at gold's decline. Economist Nouriel Roubini poked fun at gold bugs in a Tweet. Über investor Dennis Gartman said he sold his holdings. CNBC ran an article proclaiming gold was no longer a safe-haven asset (talk about an overreaction).

While the worry may have been real, let's focus on facts. Have the reasons for gold's bull market changed in any material way such that we should consider exiting? Instead of me providing an answer, ask yourself some basic questions: Is the current support for the US dollar an honest indication of its health? Are the sovereign debt problems in Europe solved? How will the US repay its $15 trillion debt load without some level of currency dilution? Is there likely to be more money printing in the future, or less? Are real interest rates positive yet? Has gold really lost its safe haven status as a result of one bad week?

And one more: What is the mainstream media's record on forecasting precious metals prices?

Our take won't surprise you: not one fact relating to the trend for gold changed last week. We remain strongly bullish.

So why did gold, silver, and related stocks fall so hard?

The reasons outlined in this month's BIG GOLD are still in play (the MF Global fallout, a rising dollar, year-end tax-loss selling, and the need for cash and liquidity to meet margin calls or redemption requests). Last Wednesday's 3.5% fall took on a life of its own, selling begetting selling, fear adding to fear (especially the case with gold stocks). None of these reasons, however, have anything to do with the fundamental factors that ultimately drive this market. Once those issues shift, then we'll talk about exiting.

So, should we buy now? Is the bottom in?

Let's take a fresh look at gold's corrections and compare them to the recent one. I've updated the following chart to include the recent selloff.

[How do I calculate the data? I look for the periods in every annual gold chart that represent a distinct fall greater than 5%, then measure the highs and lows.]

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-are-you-tempted-sell-or-eager-buy

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 10:32pm
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Fed vs. ECB / Bullish for gold? / Hell ya'!

The Fed vs The ECB - Presenting "The Correlation Of 2012" And What It Means For Gold

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/22/2011 21:40 -0500

If there is one cross asset correlation that defined 2011 (and the greater part of 2010), it was that of the Euro-Dollar (EURUSD) currency pair and the S&P 500, which have correlated with near unison nearly all of the time. And yet, the stability of this correlation may be getting unglued, because as Goldman insinuated in its market roundup note from yesterday, it is "reasonable to think that the ... reflexive relationship between EURUSD and SPX...will take some time to break, but this correlation should start to fray." Why? Because, "like the FED before them, the ECB is aggressively expanding their balance sheet." Which brings us to the point of this article: much to the dismay of the armies of disgruntled bankers and investors demanding that the ECB print right now, the ECB has in fact been printing, as shown the other day. Only it has not done so in the conventional sense where it assumes an "asset" on its balance sheet while expanding a monetary liability, but indirectly through shadow conduits, such as repo and other liquidity backstops, also as shown yesterday, where no new currency actually enters the system, yet whereby the balance sheet expands just as efficiently (and in doing so, dilutes the underlying currency). It is well known that it has been our contention that in this centrally planned world the only thing that matters is the global provisioning of liquidity by the monetary authority, as the ultimate marginal determinant of Risk On behavior (and inversely Risk Off), is how much ZIRPy cash do speculators (and more importantly Prime Brokers) have at their possession (for outright and (re)hypothecated purchasing purposes). So here we would like to make a distinction: it is not so much how much cash one global monetary central planner will provide to markets, but how much the various standalone central banks will inject, in whole or in part. We contend that for 2012 the key qualifier will be "in part" with the ECB and the Fed printing (either outright or via repo) in staggered regimes, and thus the primary determinant of "risk", the EURUSD, will be the relative ratio of the two balance sheets. This can be seen on the charts below, the first of which shows just how dramatic the ECB expansion has been in the past 6 months, and the second showing the correlation between the EURUSD and the ratio of the Fed to the ECB.

First, the balance sheet of the ECB vs the Fed:

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/fed-vs-ecb-presenting-correlation-2012-an...

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 10:36pm
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Here's the "inevitable" word agian/ Look 5 posts above this one

Iraq heads towards seemingly inevitable sectarian conflict

More than 70 people were killed on Thursday in a wave of bombings across Baghdad as Iraq headed towards a seemingly inevitable sectarian conflict within days of the departure of American troops.

Image 1 of 4 The bloodshed is almost certainly designed to exploit a security vacuum after the end of the US presence Photo: AP Image 1 of 4 Residents gather at the site of a bomb attack that struck a market in Baghdad's Shula district in northwestern Baghdad December 22, 2011 Photo: REUTERS Image 1 of 4 Iraqis inspect the damage after a wave of attacks in Baghdad killed at least 57 people on December 22, 2011. Photo: AFP Image 1 of 4 People gather at the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 Photo: AP By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent At least 16 separate blasts struck mostly Shia neighbourhoods of the city, though some Sunni areas were also hit. The attacks ranged from "sticky bombs" to fully-loaded car bombs, some doubled up to ensure emergency crews were caught by the second blast, a common tactic of Sunni insurgents.

Officials said that 72 people had been confirmed dead, and 217 injured, with the figures still rising.

Political leaders immediately connected the attacks to an angry breakdown this week in the relationship between the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the country's most senior Sunni figures.

Within days of American troops withdrawing, Mr Maliki, whose Shia-led State of Law party is allied to a radical, anti-American and Iranian-influenced Shia group, on Monday demanded the arrest of Tareq al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice-president, accusing him of running a hit squad.

He also called for a vote of no confidence against Saleh al-Mutlaq, the Sunni deputy prime minister.

"The timing of these crimes and the places where they were carried out confirm to all the political nature of the targets," Mr Maliki said last night in a statement, suggesting they were a revenge attack and hinting they had political support.

"The criminals and those who stand behind them will not succeed in changing events or the political process, or in escaping punishment."

The worst single incident was a suicide attack near a government anti-corruption office in which a stolen ambulance packed with explosives was detonated by its driver, sending debris into the grounds of a nearby kindergarten. Police said 23 people were killed, including five investigators from the office.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/8973336/Iraq-...

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 10:40pm
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France: Britain started war of words over credit ratings

Britain started war of words over credit ratings, insists French foreign minister

The French government tried to calm its war of words with Britain yesterday but insisted that London, not Paris, had caused the dispute.

French Foreign Minster Alain Juppé: "Off the cuff reactions in the heat of the moment do not constitute a strategy of antagonism with Britain." Photo: EPA James Kirkup

10:00PM GMT 22 Dec 2011

Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, insisted that there was “no strategy” behind French calls for Britain to lose its AAA credit rating.

But he said the attacks on Britain were understandable and a reaction to questioning of the French economy by George Osborne, the Chancellor.

Mr Juppé’s remarks came as Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, warned that the eurozone crisis was starting to harm the “real economy” of European businesses.

After David Cameron refused to take part in a new European treaty aimed at resolving the debt crisis at a Brussels summit earlier this month, a string of senior French officials made public attacks on Britain’s economy.

Yesterday, Mr Cameron’s European stance was backed by British business leaders. A poll by the Institute of Directors found that 77 per cent of its members supported the British veto and 63 per cent wanted a looser relationship with the European Union.

In recent days, President Nicolas Sarkozy described Mr Cameron as a “stubborn child”. François Fillon, the prime minister, and Christian Noyer, the head of France’s central bank, said Britain, rather than France should be downgraded by credit ratings agencies.

François Baroin, the French finance minister, joined in, commenting that he would “rather be French than British” from an economic point of view.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8974372/Britain-started-war-of...

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 10:46pm
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Iran starts building a nuclear weapon / U.S. & Israel get tight

Iran starts building a nuclear weapon: US and Israel tighten cooperation

December 22, 2011, 9:49 AM (GMT+02:00)

Barack Obama and Ehud Barack in Maryland

Iran has embarked on "activities related to possible weaponization," said American sources Thursday, Dec. 22, thereby accounting for the dramatic reversal of the Obama administration's wait-and-see attitude on attacking Iran. The change was articulated this week by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
debkafile's Washington sources report that the Islamic Republic crossed the red line President Barack Obama had set for the United States, i.e., when Tehran begins using the technologies and fissile materials (enriched uranium) it has amassed for assembling a bomb or missile warheads. This marks the moment that Iran goes nuclear and only a short time remains before it has an operational nuclear weapon.
Washington has always claimed that when the order to build a weapon was given in Tehran, the United States would know about it within a short time.
The US stealth drone RQ-170 was sent into Iranian airspace for the first time to find evidence to support this suspicion. On Dec. 4 the Iranians downed the unmanned reconnaissance craft by intelligence or cyber means not yet fully clarified. The US - and most probably Israel too - then turned to other intelligence resources to find out what Iran was up to. According to debkafile's military and intelligence sources, they found evidence that Iran has in fact begun putting together components of a nuclear bomb or warhead.

This discovery prompted the latest statements by Mr. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey.

The defense secretary put it into words when he said Tuesday, Dec.: “Despite the efforts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, the Iranians have reached a point where they can assemble a bomb in a year or potentially less.”

The next day, Gen. Dempsey said, “My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve. Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world.”

Dennis Ross, until last month President Obama’s senior Middle East adviser, and key architect of White House policies on the Iranian nuclear program and understandings with Israel on this issue, said Israel has four causes for concern about uranium enrichment in the underground nuclear facility at Fordo near Qom and other developments:

1. Iran’s accumulation of low-enriched uranium, its decision to enrich to nearly 20 percent “when there is no justification for it.”

2. The "hardening" of Iranian nuclear sites, largely by moving facilities underground.

3. Other activities related to possible weaponization.

4. Israel suspects that Fordo is not Iran's only buried facility and that nuclear "weaponization" is ongoing surreptitiously at additional underground locations. “I would not isolate Qom and say this alone is the Israeli red line to spur a military response.”

Our military sources report that all these developments were covered in the short and epic conversation between President Barack Obama and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Gaylord Hotel in Maryland on Dec. 16. It ended with accord on the US and Israeli responses to the new situation arising in Iran.

The White House has since accepted the Israeli assessment of Iran's nuclear bomb time table and endorses the conviction that unless Iran retreats from its decision to build a nuclear bomb and steps back from the process it set in train this month, the only option remaining will be a military strike to disable its nuclear program.
Following the Maryland encounter, debkafile’s sources report a procession of prominent US officials visiting Israel to tighten coordination between the US and Israel on their next moves. Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of the US’s Third air Force, was one of those visitors. He came to organize the biggest joint military exercise ever held by the US and Israel, as part of the shared response to Iran's steps.

Tuesday, Dec. 20, saw the arrival of Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s right-hand, together with Robert Einhorn, a State Department special adviser on nonproliferation. The two came to tie up the diplomatic ends of the decisions reached by President Obama and Defense Minister Barak at their Maryland meeting.

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 10:50pm
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Iran Attack Equals Downfall of Zionist Israel

'Iran attack: Downfall of Zionist Israel'

Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:10PM GMT Former German lawmaker Norman Paech says any Israeli venture to launch a military strike against Iran would spell the end of Tel Aviv regime.

A war with Iran would be different from the one with Gaza; it would mean the downfall of Zionist Israel, Norman Paech wrote on the German-based daily Jung Welt.

Paech said that in a study released on 12 February 2009, the CIA predicted that if Israel persists with its trend of warmongering policies in the Middle East, it would be destroyed within 20 years.

Referring to the recent remarks by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East, Paech said Washington is facing a real dilemma with regards to Tel Aviv.

Paech said on the one hand the US wants to save the Israeli regime, which is increasingly showing signs of a “failing state”, and on the other, they want to eliminate the Iranian government that is growing more and more dominant despite the sanctions engineered by Washington.

The US has failed in its attempts to build a "Greater Middle East", which foresaw the alignment of all countries from Turkey to Pakistan to US interests - “by all means necessary,” Paech said.

The former German lawmaker added that Iran remains the “last anti-American bastion in the Middle East,” despite being surrounded by US protectorates and vassal governments.

He further referred to Der Spiegel's interview with former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei in which he said Americans and Europeans sought to change the establishment in Iran.

“The Americans and the Europeans withheld important documents and information from us. They weren't interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change -- by any means necessary,” Mohamed ElBaradei told the Der Spiegel on April 20, 2011.

https://www.presstv.ir/detail/217182.html

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 11:23pm
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French downgrade could be inching closer

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:37 a.m. EST

French downgrade could be inching closer

By chutchison[at]marketwatch[dot]com (Clare Hutchison), MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Three months ago, France was riding relatively high.

Moody’s Investors Service had recently upheld the nation’s triple-A credit rating, noting its “very high government financial strength” and the “robustness of its institutions.” A key euro-zone summit in Brussels, during which Britain would throw into doubt the ability of the currency bloc’s nations to achieve further fiscal integration, had yet to take place.

Now, a full credit-rating downgrade could be just days away.

Click to Play

Europe moves ahead without U.K.

In a rift over building a closer fiscal union to preserve the euro, all 27 EU members apart from Britain agree to put together a separate treaty.

A ratings cut could be catastrophic for France and its European neighbors. They are already struggling in the turbulent economic climate. A downgrade could be taken as a sign that the European recovery is off track, knocking investor and business confidence. It could also drive up the cost of government debt across the region.

This month, Standard & Poor’s placed France on credit watch, a red flag that the nation’s rating is imperilled. Fitch Ratings cut France’s economic outlook to negative, citing “heightened risk of contingent liabilities” and the “intensification of the euro-zone crisis.” And Moody’s said it would review its ratings of all European Union nations in the early part of 2012.

So what, specifically, has changed for France?

Jennifer McKeown, an economist at Capital Economics, said that ratings firms see France as especially at risk from the deepening problems in Europe.

“It is really heavily exposed to the euro-zone periphery, particularly Italy. If there is some form of government default in Italy, it will hit French banks very hard. The government would have to put more money into banks, or put more money into bailing out Italy, which means French public finances would deteriorate,” McKeown said.

Fitch has recently lowered its outlook for some French banks.

France is also a key contributor to bailout mechanisms in Europe, which has landed it with huge financial liabilities. Fitch identified these “contingent liabilities,” including the European Financial stability Fund and European Stability Mechanism, as factors putting the country’s credit rating under pressure...

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/french-downgrade-could-be-inching-clos...

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Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 11:29pm
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Break up the banks / Feds must end ‘too big to fail’

Break up the banks

Feds must end ‘too big to fail’

Last Updated: 3:58 AM, December 22, 2011

Charles Gasparino

Three years after the financial crisis and the bailouts, and we’re not much better off: “Too big to fail” remains, banking profits are sinking and those big, overregulated banks can’t manage to lend to small businesses.

Maybe it’s time to stop protecting this failed business model — and finally begin to break up the nation’s largest banks.

Making them smaller and less “systemically” important may be the only way to get them to lend more. If they hold less capital, they can start taking some risks without a chance of blowing up the whole financial system.

Getty Time to turn the screws: The nation needs to split commercial from investment banking, so that banks can start lending to small businesses again.

The obvious way to force the banks to get small and fast is to again split commercial from investment banking — that is, making it so that no bank can roll the dice in the securities markets if it wants its deposits backed up by federal insurance.

That’s the conversation inside Bank of America, where people tell me the commercial banking part of the firm is far less profitable than the investment banking unit, formerly known as Merrill Lynch.

They also concede that, by selling off Merrill, the bank could pay down some liabilities and toxic assets it still holds on its books from the 2008 crisis, which are dragging down earnings and caused BofA shares to dip below $5 earlier this week.

Maybe by being smaller and stronger, BofA can start lending again to small businesses.

I say this as someone who has covered Wall Street for two decades and witnessed firsthand its transformation into the massive seething mess that it is today.

The shift began with the creation of Citigroup in the late 1990s, which combined under one roof both an investment bank that took risks in various markets and a commercial bank that lent money and held insured customer deposits.

Then, in 1999, President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress drove a stake through the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which had officially divided those activities. The megabank rapidly became the order of the day, as mergers and acquisitions built such behemoths as Bank of America, while old-line investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley felt compelled to snap up commercial-banking units to better compete.


Read more: https://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/break_up_the_banks_j3vm2GlC4JIbIKmcH2sT0H#ixzz1hKRgt5ZD

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Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 7:39am
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Lies, Damn Lies and the Big Whoppers of 2011

Lies, Damn Lies and the Big Whoppers of 2011:

By Jonathan Alter Dec 22, 2011 7:01 PM ET

“Have It Your Way,” the Burger King slogan goes. And most politicians do, twisting words to fit their interests. But sometimes they go beyond french-frying facts to serving whoppers.

Two reputable nonpartisan organizations, FactCheck.org andPolitiFact, have helped to keep everyone honest in the holiday season by pointing out “death panels” (Sarah Palin) and Obamacare as a “government takeover” (Frank Luntz) as the top lies of recent years.

In 2011, Mitt Romney claimed that President Barack Obama“went around the world and apologized for America,” Obama claimed that his administration’s review of obsolete regulations was “unprecedented,” and Michele Bachmann claimed that the vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus can “cause mental retardation.”

These and other contenders for this year’s Lie of the Year title are worth cataloguing, but let’s remember that not all big fat ones inflict equal damage on our politics. I’m more concerned with what bloggers call “memes,” which are ideas -- or in this case, lies -- that may not be attributable to an individual, but penetrate our consciousness through repetition and are soon assumed to be true. My Four Fat Ones are:

No. 1. “The financial crisis was caused not by Wall Street but by the federal government, namely Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac.”

This is a convenient argument made by conservatives trying to gut regulation of Wall Street (or attack Freddie “consultant”Newt Gingrich), one that draws its force from Fannie and Freddie’s role as a piggy bank for ex-officials from both parties over the last 20 years. The two institutions performed abominably and attempted to conceal their mistakes and thwart regulators; so far, six of their former executives have been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-23/lies-damn-lies-and-the-big-who...

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Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 7:44am
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Al-Qaeda? / 40 dead as two explosions rock Damascus, Syria

Syria: Up to 40 dead as two explosions rock Damascus

The Syrian capital Damascus was hit by two simultaneous bomb attacks today, killing as many as 40 civilians and military personnel as an Arab League peace mission was due to start work.

By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent

10:20AM GMT 23 Dec 2011

Within minutes of the blasts Syrian authorities said preliminary investigations had found the attacks bore the "blueprint" of al-Qaeda, arousing ridicule from opposition groups and Syrians using social media.

State media reported 40 people had been killed.

The state news agency SANA said that suicide bombers with "booby-trapped" cars had caused the explosions at the state security building and an intelligence building.

"Several soldiers and a large number of civilians were killed in the two attacks carried out by suicide bombers in vehicles packed with explosives against bases of State Security and another branch of the security services," state television said.

They are the first major bomb attacks in the capital since the start of the uprising against the rule of President Bashir al-Assad in March, although the Free Syrian Army, a rebel band made up of defectors, attacked an air intelligence barracks last month.

Residents of the city reported that their apartments shook and windows were broken. "Unreal my apartment was totally shaking," Jean-Pierre Duthion, a French businessman, said on Twitter.

Gunfire could be heard in the immediate aftermath of the explosions. Television footage showed medics wrapping bodies in blankets and smoke rising from the blackened buildings. It also showed the charred remains of two cars involved.

The attacks appeared timed to coincide with the arrival on Wednesday of the advance guard of an Arab League monitoring mission, which is supposed to oversee implementation of a peace plan agreed in October...

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/8974890/Syri...

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Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 9:30am
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And This Is Where The LTRO Money Went

And This Is Where The LTRO Money Went Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/23/2011 08:08 -0500
  • On the day of the 3 Year European LTRO, in a whim of fancy we wondered if contrary to all expectations, the European banks would not instead of using the money for any real releveraging (carry Trade) or deleveraging (switching out of expensive into cheaper debt) purposes, just park it with the ECB's deposit facility, an outcome which would be the worst possible case as it simply recycles ECB cash from on pocket into another without any incremental velocity. As it turns out, we were only half kidding: as of yesterday, the day after the LTRO, European banks parked almost half of the free €210 billion (recall that while gross LTRO proceeds were €489 billion, only €210 billion was net), or €82 billion, with the ECB's deposit facility, which incidentally brought the cumulative total to a new 2011 record of €347 billion, from €265 the day before. And that is what monetary policy failure is all about.

    Daily ECB deposit facility usage change (negative numbers have been removed as they only occur during monthly deposit facility usage resets when banks park cash with various MROs for regulatory purposes):

    And total ECB deposit facility usage:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/and-where-ltro-money-went

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Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 10:59am
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Ho-Ho-Uh-Oh /Iran Launching "Massive" Ten Day War Game Saturday

(DPH: There is no possibility the U.S. Fleet will allow a massive war game to approach them.)

Iran Launching "Massive" Ten Day War Game Tomorrow In Close Proximity To CVN-74 John Stennis Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/23/2011 10:30 -0500
From Xinhua
    As the rest of the world enjoys Festivus or whatever celebration one indulges in, Iran is launching a "massive" 10 day war games naval exercise right in the belly of the beast. : "Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari on Thursday announced the upcoming launch of ten-day massive naval exercises in the international waters, the local satellite Press TV reported. Sayyari said at a press conference on Thursday that the naval maneuvers dubbed Velayat 90 will start on Saturday and will cover an area of 2,000 (1,250-mile) km stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, the report said. This is the first time that Iran's Navy carries out naval drills in such a vast area, he was quoted as saying. He said that the exercises will manifest Iran's military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries and test the newest military equipment among other objectives, said the report. He added that the newest missile systems and torpedoes will be employed in the maneuvers, adding that the most recent tactics used in subsurface battles will also be demonstrated. Iranian destroyers, missile-launching vessels, logistic vessels, drones and coastal missiles will also be tested, said the Iranian commander, according to the report." And while conventional wisdom is that the market is focused on what the upcoming closure of the Straits of Hormuz means for tanker routs and oil prices, there is another more disturbing possibility: with all those Iranian canoes, and soapboxes floating around, one wonders if one is bound to have a close encounter with USS CVN-74 John Stennis, which as the updated naval map below from shows, will be smack in the middle of the action.

More on this potential powder keg:

Closing Strait of Hurmoz is under full control of Iran, he said but did not mention about the exercise to close it, according to the state IRIB TV website.

Earlier this month, Parviz Sorouri, a member of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that Iran plans to practice its ability to close the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most important passages for exports of crude and oil products from littoral states of Persian Gulf.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said later that closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran's agenda.

As Iran has announced it several times, the issue of closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran's agenda since Iran believes in upholding the stability and peace of the region," said Mehmanparast.

Alas, that's not the question: the question is what does everyone else believe is the best optics of representing Iran as believing in. Because if a US support vessel has to sink to make popular support for this and that a little more palatable, then sink it will. On its own if it has to.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/iran-launching-massive-ten-day-war-game-tomorrow-close-proximity-cvn-74-john-stennis

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 9:21pm
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Paulson’s Gold Fund Falls 10.5% / Gold up 13% in 2011

Paulson’s Gold Fund Falls 10.5% in 2011

By Katherine Burton - Dec 23, 2011 3:18 PM ET

John Paulson, the billionaire money manager mired in the worst slump of his career, lost 10.5 percent in his Gold Fund this year even as the metal heads for its 11th straight annual gain, according to people familiar with the fund’s performance.

The fund, which invests in mining stocks and other gold-related securities, remains the best performer in Paulson’s $28 billion fund family this year. His Paulson Advantage Fund, which seeks to profit from corporate events such as takeovers and bankruptcies, has fallen about 35 percent. The performance numbers for the two funds are from Dec. 28, 2010, through Dec. 20, 2011, and may not reflect returns for all shareholders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Armel Leslie, a spokesman for Paulson, declined to comment on the firm’s returns.

Paulson & Co., based in New York, has lost money this year on investments including Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Sino-Forest Corp., the Chinese forestry company accused by short-seller Carson Block of overstating timberland holdings. Paulson, 56, cut the so-called net exposure in his main hedge funds to 30 percent last month and reduced bullish bets across all his funds.

Net exposure is calculated by subtracting the percentage of a hedge fund’s short positions, or bets on falling securities, from its longs, or wagers on rising stocks and bonds.

Gold BUGS Index

Gold has climbed 13 percent this year, holding onto gains after peaking at $1,891 an ounce on Aug. 22. The 17-company NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index fell 11 percent as investors fled equities amid the turmoil caused by the European sovereign-debt crisis.

Paulson was the largest holder of American depositary receipts in AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., the third-biggest gold producer. Paulson also owned shares or ADRs of Gold Fields Ltd., NovaGold Resources Inc., Randgold Resources Ltd., Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., Iamgold Corp., Barrick Gold Corp. and International Tower Hill Mines Ltd.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-23/paulson-gold-fund-said-to-lose...

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 9:31pm
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Cameron: Britain will never surrender the Falkland Islands

David Cameron: Britain will never surrender sovereignty of the Falkland Islands

David Cameron today pledged Britain would never surrender sovereignty of the Falklands against the wishes of the islanders.

David Cameron said Britain will never negotiate on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands Photo: Paul Grover 3:42PM GMT 23 Dec 2011 In his Christmas message to the islands, the Prime Minister said he could not accept challenges by Argentina to their right to self-determination.

He condemned what he described as ''unjustified and counterproductive'' efforts by the government in Buenos Aires to disrupt shipping links to the islands.

His intervention comes after Argentina led a group of South American nations in banning ships flying the Falklands flag from docking at their ports.

In his message, Mr Cameron declared: ''Whatever challenges we face in the UK, the British Government's commitment to the security and prosperity of the overseas territories, including the Falklands, remains undiminished.

''So let me be absolutely clear. We will always maintain our commitment to you on any question of sovereignty. Your right to self-determination is the cornerstone of our policy.

''We will never negotiate on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless you, the Falkland Islanders, so wish. No democracy could ever do otherwise.''

The ban on Falklands-flagged ships by the Mercosur bloc - which also includes Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay - is the latest flare-up between Britain and Argentina over the islands.

Buenos Aires - which has long claimed sovereignty over the territory it calls the Malvinas - reacted angrily last year when Britain allowed offshore drilling for oil in the islands' waters.

The Argentinians were also irritated by the recent announcement of Prince William's forthcoming RAF posting to the islands.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/8975899/David-Ca...

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 10:01pm
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Shrewd: They snuck this nugget into a slow holiday news cycle

Obama Returns $70,000 in Corzine Donations By Hans Nichols - Dec 23, 2011 5:17 PM ET

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has returned campaign contributions from Jon S. Corzine, former chairman and chief executive officer of MF Global Holdings Ltd., according to a Democratic official.

Obama for America and the Democratic National Committeerefunded the money from the former New Jersey governor out of an abundance of caution, said the official, who requested anonymity. Republicans have criticized the president for keeping contributions from the head of a firm that collapsed and filed for bankruptcy.

Corzine, 64, and his wife, Sharon Elghanayan, each contributed $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee and $5,000 to Obama’s campaign, the maximum amounts that individuals are allowed to give, said the official. Corzine, who testified before a congressional panel about MF Global’s bankruptcy and $1.2 billion in missing customer funds, has been one of Obama’s top fundraisers this election cycle. In April, Corzine hosted a fundraiser for Obama at his Manhattan home.

Corzine was one of 41 donors who bundled more than $500,000 this year for Obama’s re-election effort, according to documents released by the campaign Oct. 14. So-called bundlers arrange for contributions from other people and funnel the money to campaigns.

Bundled Contributions

Obama’s campaign doesn’t plan to return those bundled donations and will evaluate other contributions from MF Global employees on a case-by-case basis, according to the Democratic official.

Over the past 20 years, Corzine, along with his first and second wives, directly contributed $917,000 to Democratic committees and candidates...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-23/obama-returns-70-000-in-corzin...

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 10:21pm
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Did anyone notice? / Dow Theory whispers a buy signal

Dow Theory whispers a buy signal

December 23, 2011, 5:48 PM

In quiet pre-holiday trading, with hardly anyone noticing, the Dow Theory on Friday may very well have given a buy signal. That at least is the judgment of Jack Schannep, editor of TheDowTheory.com, and Richard Moroney, editor of Dow Theory Forecasts.

Though not all followers of the Dow Theory agree on the precise application of this venerable market timing system, there is general agreement that a bullish signal is flashed whenever both the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA and the Dow Jones Transportation Average DJT close above their previous rally highs. This happened at Friday’s close, when the Dow Industrials surpassed their late October high. In so doing, the Industrials joined the Dow Transports, which had already done so a day previously.

One of the Dow Theorists monitored by the Hulbert Financial Digest is not bullish, however. He is Richard Russell, editor of Dow Theory Letters. Thursday night, he wrote to clients that it is a mistake for Dow Theorists to focus on the movement of the Dow averages. “Reading the Averages was a late addition to Dow Theory publicized by William Hamilton and Robert Rhea. Actually, Charles Dow almost never mentioned the Averages in any of his numerous editorials which appeared in his Wall Street Journal.”

In Russell’s view, the essence of the Dow Theory is a focus on values, and in his opinion the average stock today does not represent attractive value.

For the record, though, two out of the three Dow Theorists monitored by the Hulbert Financial Digest disagree with Russell.

– Mark Hulbert

https://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2011/12/23/dow-theory-whispers-a-b...

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - 10:27pm
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News from Iran

An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246

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