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Global Leaders Rattle Their Sabers As The World Marches Toward War March 9, 2017

The World Marches Toward War - Public DomainIran just conducted another provocative missile test, more U.S. troops are being sent to the Middle East, it was just announced that the U.S. military will be sending B-1 and B-52 bombers to South Korea in response to North Korea firing four missiles into the seas near Japan, and China is absolutely livid that a U.S. carrier group just sailed through contested waters in the South China Sea.  We have entered a season where leaders all over the globe feel a need to rattle their sabers, and many fear that this could be leading us to war.  In particular, Donald Trump is going to be under the microscope in the days ahead as other world leaders test his resolve.  Will Trump be able to show that he is tough without going over the edge and starting an actual conflict?

The Iranians made global headlines on Thursday when they conducted yet another ballistic missile test despite being warned by Trump on numerous occasions…

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to mount, the semi-official news agency Tasnim is reporting that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has successfully conducted yet another ballistic missile test, this time from a navy vessel.  Called the Hormuz 2, these latest missiles are designed to destroy moving targets at sea at ranges up to 300 km (180 miles).

Reports on the latest test quotes Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force, who confirmed that “the naval ballistic missile called Hormuz 2 successfully destroyed a target which was 250 km away.”

The missile test is the latest event in a long-running rivalry between Iran and the United States in and around the Strait of Hormuz, which guards the entrance to the Gulf. About 20% of the world’s oil passes through the waterway, which is less than 40 km wide at its narrowest point.

So how will Trump respond to this provocation?

Will he escalate the situation?  If he does nothing he will look weak, but if he goes too far he could risk open conflict.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, things are already escalating.  It is being reported that “several hundred Marines” are on the ground in Syria to support an assault on the city of Raqqa, and another 1,000 troops could be sent to Kuwait to join the fight against ISIS any day now.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

While the Trump administration waits to decide if it will send 1,000 troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS, overnight the Washington Post reported that the US has sent several hundred Marines to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Defence officials said they would establish an outpost from which they could fire artillery at IS positions some 32km (20 miles) away. US special forces are already on the ground, “advising” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance according to the BBC.

The defence officials told the Washington Post that the Marines were from the San Diego-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and that they had flown to northern Syria via Djibouti and Kuwait. They are to set up an artillery battery that could fire powerful 155mm shells from M777 howitzers, the officials said. Another marine expeditionary unit carried out a similar mission at the start of the Iraqi government’s operation to recapture the city of Mosul from IS last year.

Meanwhile, China is spitting mad for several reasons.  For one, the Chinese are absolutely furious that South Korea has allowed the U.S. to deploy the THAAD missile defense system on their soil…

China is lashing out at South Korea and Washington for the deployment of a powerful missile defense system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, deposited at the Osan Air Base in South Korea on Monday evening.

The deployment of THAAD follows several ballistic missile tests by North Korea in recent months, including the launch of four missiles on Monday, three of which landed in the sea off the coast of Japan. Though THAAD would help South Korea protect itself from a North Korean missile attack, China is vocally protesting the deployment of the system, claiming it upsets the “strategic equilibrium” in the region because its radar will allow the United States to detect and track missiles launched from China.

Of course the U.S. needed to do something, because the North Koreans keep rattling their sabers by firing off more ballistic missiles toward Japan.

But it is one thing to deploy a missile defense system, and it is another thing entirely to fly strategic nuclear bombers into the region.

So if the Chinese were upset when THAAD was deployed, how will they feel when B-1 and B-52 bombers start showing up in South Korea?

Earlier this week, trigger-happy Kim pushed his luck once more when he fired off four ballistic missiles into the seas near Japan.

Now US military chiefs are reportedly planning to fly in B-1 and B-52 bombers – built to carry nuclear bombs – to show America has had enough.

South Korea and the US have also started their annual Foal Eagle military exercise sending a strong warning to North Korea over its actions.

A military official said 300,000 South Korean troops and 15,000 US personnel are taking part in the operation.

The Trump administration has openly stated that all options “are on the table” when it comes to North Korea, and that includes a military strike.

It has been more than 60 years since the Korean War ended, but many are concerned that we may be closer to a new Korean War than we have been at any point since that time.

And of course our relationship with China is tumbling precariously downhill as well.  Another reason why the Chinese are extremely upset with the Trump administration is because a U.S. Navy carrier battle group led by the USS Carl Vinson sailed past islands that China claims in the South China Sea just a few weeks ago.

In China, the media openly talks about the possibility of war with the United States over the South China Sea.  Most Americans are not even aware that the South China Sea is a very serious international issue, but over in China this is a major focus.

And the U.S. military has recently made several other moves in the region that have angered the Chinese

Also in February, the U.S. sent a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Tindal AB in northern Australia, the closest Australian military airbase to China, for coalition training and exercises. It’s the first deployment of that many F-22s in the Pacific.

And if that didn’t get the attention of the Chinese government, the U.S. just tested four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles during a nuclear war exercise, sending the simulated weapons 4,200 miles from the coast of California into the mid-Pacific. It’s the first time in three years the U.S. has conducted tests in the Pacific, and the first four-missile salvo since the end of the Cold War.

I can understand the need to look tough, but eventually somebody is going to go too far.

If you are familiar with my work, then you know that I believe that war is coming.  Things in the Middle East continue to escalate, and it is only a matter of time before a great war erupts between Israel and her neighbors.  Meanwhile, U.S. relations with both Russia and China continue to deteriorate, and this is something that I have been warning about for a very long time.

We should hope for peace, but we should also not be blind to the signs of war that are starting to emerge all over the planet.  Relatively few people anticipated the outbreak of World War I and World War II in advance, and I have a feeling that the same thing will be true for World War III.

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This Region Of The World Is Being Hit By The Worst Economic Collapse It Has Ever Experienced March 7, 2017

South America On The Globe - Public DomainThe ninth largest economy in the entire world is currently experiencing “its longest and deepest recession in recorded history”, and in a country right next door people are being encouraged to label their trash so that the thousands upon thousands of desperately hungry people that are digging through trash bins on the streets can find discarded food more easily.  Of course the two nations that I am talking about are Brazil and Venezuela.  The Brazilian economy was once the seventh largest on the globe, but after shrinking for eight consecutive quarters it has now fallen to ninth place.  And in Venezuela the economic collapse has gotten so bad that more than 70 percent of the population lost weight last year due to a severe lack of food.  Most of us living in the northern hemisphere don’t think that anything like this could happen to us any time soon, but the truth is that trouble signs are already starting to erupt all around us.  It is just a matter of time before the things currently happening in Brazil and Venezuela start happening here, but unfortunately most people are not heeding the warnings.

Just a few years ago, the Brazilian economy was absolutely roaring and it was being hailed as a model for the rest of the world to follow.  But now Brazil’s GDP has been imploding for two years in a row, and this downturn is being described as “the worst recession in recorded history” for that South American nation…

Latin America’s largest economy Brazil has contracted by 3.6 percent in 2016, shrinking for the second year in a row; statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday. It confirmed the country is facing its longest and deepest recession in recorded history.

Data shows gross domestic product (GDP) fell for the eighth straight quarter in the three months to December, down 0.9 percent from the previous quarter. The figure was worse than the 0.5 percent decline economists had forecast and left the country’s overall GDP down 3.6 percent for the full year following a 3.8 percent drop in 2015.

“In real terms, GDP is now nine percent below its pre-recession peak,” Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told the Financial Times.

“This is comfortably the worst recession in recorded history,” he added.

It had been hoped that things in Brazil would be getting better by now, but instead they just keep getting worse.

The number of bankruptcy filings has soared to an all-time record high, and the official unemployment rate has more than doubled since the end of 2013.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

In a stunning deterioration, the unemployment rate in Brazil spiked to 12.6% in the rolling three-month period through January, a record in the new data series going back to 2012, according to Brazil’s statistical agency IBGE. Up from 11.8% in the three-month period through October. Up from an already terribly high 9.5% a year ago. And more than double the 6.2% in December 2013.

Meanwhile, hordes of hungry people are rummaging through garbage cans in Venezuela in order to find something to fill their aching stomachs.

Things have gotten so bad that one of President Maduro’s chief opponents has urged citizens to label which trash bags have food in them so that people that are searching through the garbage can find food scraps more easily

Controversial Priest and opponent to President Nicolás Maduro’s administration Father Jose Palmar posted on social media this week about labeling discarded waste so those looking through it for food can do so more easily and “with dignity.”

Palmar called on Venezuelans to celebrate Lent by identifying bags where food has been discarded for those with no where else to turn. That way, they don’t have to dig through non-edible items to find it.

And previously I have written about how people are so hungry in Venezuela that some of them are actually slaughtering and eating cats, dogs, pigeons and zoo animals.

I keep telling people that this is coming to America, but a lot of people out there don’t want to believe me.

But it is most certainly coming.

Thanks to chronically empty store shelves and severe food shortages, people in Venezuela are losing weight at an astounding pace.  In the United States it would be a good thing if much of the population lost this much weight, but in Venezuela it definitely is not

Three quarters of the country’s population lost an average of over 18 pounds over food shortages in 2016, according to a survey by Venezuelan universities and nonprofit groups. Last year, over 80 percent of foodstuffs disappeared from shelves and many had to get by with one meal a day, Foreign Policy reported.

Venezuela was once South America’s most powerful petrostate. But decades of government mismanagement sent the country into decline. Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez choked the economy with heavy-handed regulations, price controls, and a campaign to nationalize major industries that chased out foreign investments.

Further north, very alarming signs are starting to pop up in Mexico.

It probably won’t happen next week or next month, but there are indications of emerging “liquidity problems” which could precipitate a major debt crisis at some point…

In Mexico foreign investors hold around $100 billion of the country’s local-currency government debt, the most for any emerging market economy. That’s almost 20 times what it was 20 years ago. They also hold billions of euros worth of corporate bonds, which are also showing signs of strain, prompting some Mexican business leaders to call for “new programs” to be implemented before the situation causes “a large-scale crisis” among Mexican companies.

The most ominous sign yet came last week when Bloomberg reported sources saying that the Bank of Mexico (or Banxico, as it is referred to) had sought a swap line from the Federal Reserve in case of “liquidity problems,” which immediately triggered furious denials from Banxico. “I can say clearly and unequivocally that we are not in the process of asking for any credit line from any authority,” said the central bank’s governor, Agustin Carstens, who has postponed by six months his departure from the bank, initially scheduled for May.

One of the biggest problems for nations such as Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico is the strength of the U.S. dollar.  During the good times they went into tremendous amounts of debt, and much of that debt was denominated in U.S. dollars.  So when the U.S. dollar becomes stronger, it takes more of their own local currencies to pay that debt back.

And if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at their next meeting, that will strengthen the U.S. dollar even more and put even more pressure on emerging market economies.

Unfortunately, it appears that this is precisely what the Fed is going to do

Even one small interest rate increase by the Fedcould have a sweeping impact on U.S. and world economies, Komal Sri-Kumar told CNBC on Monday.

“I think they are going to hike” on March 15, Sri-Kumar said on “Squawk Box,” echoing a theory shared by many analysts. “But that is going to prompt capital outflows from the euro zone, especially with the political risk. It is going to increase the capital outflow from China, and the U.S. economy will feel the impact.”

The global economy is more interconnected than ever before, and pain that starts in one region can rapidly spread to others.

The biggest debt bubble that the world has ever seen is starting to burst, and over the coming years we are going to see financial pain on a scale that would be unimaginable to most of us at this moment.

But even now there are those that would suggest that this colossal debt bubble can continue growing much faster than global GDP indefinitely, and this sort of exceedingly reckless optimism is leading many astray.

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President Oprah? Speculation Rises That The 2020 Election Will Feature An Epic Battle Between Donald Trump And Oprah Winfrey March 2, 2017

Oprah Winfrey_receives_2013_Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom - Public DomainWhen Donald Trump originally announced that he was going to run for president, he said that his ideal choice for a running mate was Oprah Winfrey, but now he may be actually running against her in the 2020 election.  A recent episode of The David Rubenstein Show that featured an interview with Oprah Winfrey is creating a tremendous amount of buzz that Oprah Winfrey may throw her hat into the ring during the next election cycle.  This particular episode was taped back on December 12th, but it didn’t actually get aired on Bloomberg TV until last Tuesday.  You can see the portion of the interview in which Oprah is asked about her presidential aspirations on YouTube right here, and as you can see, she definitely sounds like someone that is very seriously thinking about running…

Prior to this last election, Oprah says that she never even considered the possibility of running, but Donald Trump’s victory in November made her realize that maybe she could do it too.  The following summary of the most important moments from the interview comes from Charisma News

“I actually never thought—never considered the question, even the possibility,” she said while smiling coyly. “I just thought, ‘Oh. Oh.'”

“Because it’s clear you don’t need government experience to be elected president of the United States,” Rubenstein interjected.

“That’s what I thought,” she replied. “I thought, Oh gee, I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough. Now I’m thinking, Oh. Oh.”

When Oprah made these statements, she had to know that they would create a firestorm.

And that is definitely what is happening.  People are going absolutely crazy on Twitter at the thought that we could have “President Oprah” in 2020, and Matt Drudge is extremely enthusiastic about a Trump vs. Oprah race

In a tweet sent Wednesday morning, the reclusive journalist who broke the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal said such a race would be one for the ages.

“Trump vs Oprah would be the most epic race in American history. MAKE THIS HAPPEN…” Drudge tweeted to his nearly half a million followers.

And this is certainly not the first time that it has been suggested that Oprah should run for president.  Just one week after the election, political activist Michael Moore mentioned her as a potential candidate

Democrats would be better off if they ran Oprah or Tom Hanks … why don’t we run beloved people?” Moore told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“We have so many of them,” he said. “The Republicans do this — they run Reagan and the Terminator and other people.” It was a reference to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as former President Ronald Reagan.

“Why don’t we run somebody that the American people love and are really drawn to, and that are smart and have good politics and all that?” Moore said.

Needless to say, Oprah would make a horrible president.  Her political views are ultra-liberal, and she has no practical political experience whatsoever.

However, if she did run she would definitely be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  At the moment, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren are considered to be the most likely opponents for Trump, and Oprah would almost certainly trounce either of them.

But will she actually do it?  Oprah’s friend Gayle King is saying that it is not going to happen

“I was in the audience that day and it was clearly a joke when she was playing with David because they have such a great rapport,” said Winfrey’s close pal and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King early Thursday of a recent interview Oprah gave suggesting she was finally thinking of running for President. “But I also heard on the Oprah Winfrey show over the years you always have the right to change your mind but I would bet my first, second born and any unborn children to come, that ain’t never happening,” King emphatically added.

And hopefully it will not happen.

But the ironic thing is that the very first person that Donald Trump suggested as a potential running mate when he announced his candidacy in 2015 was Oprah Winfrey.  The following comes from the New York Post

Real estate mogul-turned-celebrity TV star Donald Trump already had an “Aha!” moment about his 2016 running mate.

After declaring his run for the White House Tuesday, Trump appeared on ABC and said Oprah Winfrey would complete his presidential dream ticket.

“I think Oprah would be great. I’d love to have Oprah,” Trump said. “I think we’d win easily, actually.”

I’ll bet you don’t remember that, do you?

And in his new book entitled “The Making of the President 2016“, Roger Stone reminds everyone that Trump actually floated the idea of Oprah as his running mate all the way back in 1999 during an interview with Larry King.  The following is an excerpt from Roger Stone’s new book that was posted on Infowars

Early in the interview, Trump dropped Bombshell Number One: “So I am going to form a presidential exploratory committee, I might as well announce that on your show, everyone else does, but I’ll be forming that and effective, I believe, tomorrow,” Trump told the crusty interviewer. “And we’ll see. I mean, we’re going to take a very good, strong look at it.”

And just minutes later, Larry went for it and asked him if he had a vice presidential candidate in mind. Trump hesitated briefly as if to ponder his answer and then stunned everyone including King – and no doubt Oprah herself. “Oprah. I love Oprah,” Trump said. “Oprah would always be my first choice. She’s a terrific woman. She is somebody that is very special. If she’d do it, she’d be fantastic. I mean, she’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman.” The following day the newspapers and TV news were filled with talk of Trump and Oprah.

I honestly don’t know what Trump was thinking, because Oprah Winfrey definitely does not belong in politics.

Even if Oprah does not run for president, Trump’s victory has a lot of other celebrities thinking that they could do the same thing that he did.  Other big names that have been floated as potential candidates in 2020 include Mark Zuckerberg, Kanye West, Mark Cuban and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

As you can see, we have entered a strange new era in American politics, and there is no telling what craziness we may see during the next election cycle.

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