Jul 222014
 

For the record.

Nicholas Valtz, a managing director in cross-asset sales at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York, was found dead yesterday by family members who went searching for him after he didn’t return from a kiteboarding outing, reports Bloomberg.

Valtz, 39, was found in Napeague Harbor near the eastern end of Long Island, according to the East Hampton, New York, police. He was a “novice kiteboarder” and was found floating in the water secured to his kite, police said in a statement released yesterday. Other kite gear was found in a grassy area of the harbor, police said.

His wife, Sashi Valtz, also works at Goldman Sachs as head of global third-party research sales, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Nicholas Andrew Valtz was born in September 1974 and received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1996, according to New York voting records and Harvard’s website. The school lists him as earning letters in fencing for three years.

Police are still investigating the death, according to the statement.

Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/Another_Dead_Banker%3A_Goldman_Sachs_Managing_Director_Found_Dead/36780/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 222014
 

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Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/The_Internet_Sales_Tax_is_Back_-_And_this_time_it_might_pass/36781/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 222014
 

By Don Quijones, freelance writer, translator in Barcelona, Spain. Raging Bull-Shit is his modest attempt to challenge the wishful thinking and scrub away the lathers of soft soap peddled by political and business leaders and their loyal mainstream media. This article is a Wolf Street exclusive.

Last week the United States and the European Union completed their sixth round of talks on a transatlantic trade deal, with both sides saying that they are on track for the “ambitious and comprehensive” trade pact that they have been seeking in the shadows for the last two years. Unlike the Trans Pacific Partnership whose progress has been temporarily stalled in the U.S. Congress and which apparently faces stiff resistance from a handful of Asian nations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Treaty appears to be set on a smooth course toward consummation.

But who’s actually driving the agenda of this highly secretive trade treaty that threatens to remake the market rules and regulations governing the world’s two biggest markets? According to a report by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the answer is as predictable as it is depressing – corporate lobbyists:

Of the 560 lobby encounters that DG Trade [The European Commission’s Trade Department] held to prepare the negotiations, 520 (92%) were with business lobbyists, while only 26 (4%) were with public interest groups. So, for every encounter with a trade union or consumer group, there were 20 with companies and industry federations.

No sector has lobbied the European Commission more aggressively than the agribusiness sector. Food multinationals, agri-traders and seed producers have had more contacts with the Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) than lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, chemical, financial and car industry combined.

As with any bilateral trade deal, agribusiness behemoths such as Monsanto, Nestlé, Kraft Foods, and Syngenta, who already control a significant chunk of the global food chain, have a great deal to gain (or lose) from the eventual outcome of the negotiations. Here’s a little taster of what’s potentially up for grabs if they get their way:

  • Watered down European food safety standards. Both the pesticide and GMO industry have strongly pushed their agenda via the TTIP negotiations, with the aim of undermining current EU food regulations. Trade tools such as “mutual recognition” and “regulatory co-operation” are likely to lead to an erosion of food safety standards in the long run.
  • An end to the “precautionary principle.” US negotiators on behalf of industry are doing all in their power to undermine the precautionary principle, a cornerstone of EU policymaking, calling it “unscientific.” The precautionary principle is based on the idea that manufacturers need to be able to demonstrate that there is no risk before they can put something on the market. In the US, the opposite is true – you need to be able to prove that something is hazardous before it is taken off the shelf.
  • The end of “buy local” initiatives in the U.S. According to the European Commission, local preference legislation is discriminatory and acts as “localisation barriers to trade.” As such, it should be minimised, if not banned outright.
  • “Harmonised” regulatory standards. Harmonised is a nice-sounding word. After all, it’s the adjectival derivative of the word “harmony” and what could be nicer than a bit of harmony? Well, actually, quite a lot, at least when it comes to regulatory standards set in the exclusive interest of the world’s largest transnational corporations. As CEO warns, harmonisation is just the beginning; regulatory cooperation is the end goal – meaning the ongoing joint review of existing rules or standards that are seen as barriers to trade, and preventing any new ones in the future.

A Who’s Who of Corporate Europe

Taken together, the groups that have seemed to have enjoyed the most influence over EU trade negotiations reads like a who’s who of the Transatlantic Corporatocracy. They include:

  • Telecommunications and IT, including giant corporations such as Nokia and Ericsson as well as industry lobby groups like Digital Europe (whose members include all the big IT names, like Apple, Blackberry, IBM, and Microsoft).
  • Automotive lobbies, representing some of the most powerful car brands (Ford, Daimler, BMW…) and automotive suppliers.
  • Engineering and machinery, including manufacturing behemoths such as Siemens and Alstom as well as industry federations such as Orgalime (lobbying for the mechanical, electrical and metalworking sectors) and the German Engineering Federation VDMA.
  • Chemicals, including CEFIC, the EU’s biggest chemical industry lobby group (representing BASF, Bayer, Dow Co), its US counterpart ACC (also lobbying for BASF, Bayer, Dow, and others) and the Germany industry federation (VCI).
  • Finance, with lobbying by some of the world’s largest banks and insurers (Morgan Stanley, Allianz, Citigroup…) and powerful financial sector lobby groups such as the Association of German Banks (BDB) and Insurance Europe (Europe’s main insurance lobby).

The list goes on and on, and includes lobbies for audiovisuals, media, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Conspicuously absent from the meetings were groups representing the economies of Europe’s Southern and Eastern periphery. Indeed, CEO could not find a single lobby encounter between DG Trade and businesses from Greece and large parts of Eastern Europe (Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia).

This revelation merely compounds fears that peripheral economies – especially those in the East – will bear the brunt of the social costs of TTIP. With US export interests targeting mainly those sectors where the European periphery has defensive interests – such as agriculture – the opening up of the EU to more transatlantic competition seems destined to exacerbate the divide between the EU’s economic core and its periphery.

A Lobbyist’s Paradise

That lobbies representing the world’s biggest businesses and finance institutions wield such influence over the trade agenda of the US and EU should hardly come as a surprise. Brussels is now home to roughly 3,000 powerful industry lobby structures (and 30,000 individual lobbyists), making the city the second biggest lobby industry in the world, just behind Washington.

And unlike Washington, which strengthened its lobbying laws after the Jack Abramoff scandal of 2005-6, Brussels does not even have a mandatory lobby register. Instead, it has a voluntary one whose members supposedly benefit from greater ease of access to Parliament – but apparently not to the EU’s executive branch, the Commission. To gain access to the Commission all you need is the right business card, as illustrated by the fact that more than 30% (94 out of 269) of the private sector interest groups that have lobbied DG Trade on TTIP are absent from the EU’s Transparency Register. They include companies such as Walmart, Walt Disney, General Motors, France Telecom and Maersk.

Given the acute lack of meaningful accountability, transparency or democratic legitimacy at the heart of its governance institutions, the EU makes the perfect paradise for lobbyists. Granted, in the U.S. lobbies have deeper roots and arguably a more pervasive influence, thanks largely to the fact that virtually all forms of political bribery are now effectively legal. But at least most of the racket is out in the open these days. What’s more, the government still has a few semi-functional democratic checks and balances in place – hence Obama’s difficulty (for now!) in fast-tracking the TPP through congress.

In contrast, the EU remains a democratic work in progress, and judging by recent revelations, rather than progressing, it’s regressing. The European Commission, wholly unelected and wholly unaccountable, is not so much in bed with the lobbyists; it’s making them breakfast too, croissants included. And that’s just how the Corporatocracy likes it! By Don Quijones, a Wolf Street exclusive.

European bankers have begun sweating, not because of the harsh heat, but fear – fear of what could happen as battalions of bank auditors take up temporary residence at the headquarters of the biggest banks. Read…. European Banks Begin to Sweat As ECB Promises Scalps

Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/Behind_the_Curtains%3A_How_The_Corporatocracy_Is_Driving_the_US-EU_Trade_Agenda/36782/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 222014
 

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Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/U.S._Officials%3A_The_Missile_May_Have_Been_Launched_By_a_%E2%80%9CDefector_from_The_Ukrainian_Military_Who_Was_Trained_To_Use_Similar_Missile_Systems%E2%80%9D/36783/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 222014
 
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Jul 212014
 

Source: The Guardian

The Palestinian death toll in the conflict between Hamas and Israel reached 548 on Monday as officials said four were killed when a Gaza hospital was hit by Israeli fire.

It followed the bloodiest day of the conflict so far on Sunday when at least 120 Palestinians were killed in Shujai’iya, a third of them women and children. Thirteen Israeli soldiers were also killed – two of them US citizens – in the heaviest loss of life for the Israeli military in years.

Staff at the al-Asqa Martyrs hospital were said to be in shock that the building was hit. “People can’t believe this is happening – that a medical hospital was shelled without the briefest warning. It was already full with patients,” said Fikr Shalltoot, director of programmes at Medical Aid for Palestinians in Gaza city.

“Five people, I gather, were killed, and 15 were injured, including medical staff. I know the staff very well. My nephew is a medical doctor there.”

Read More… 

Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/Gaza_crisis%3A_Palestinian_death_toll_climbs_past_500_as_hospital_is_hit/36760/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 212014
 

Source: Boston Globe

A former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student has been found guilty in federal court of obstruction of justice and conspiring to obstruct justice by hindering the investigation into his college friend, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted by a jury in US District Court in Boston. The panel had deliberated about 14 hours over three days.

Tazhayakov, 20, faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence on the obstruction of justice charge, and up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. Sentencing was set for Oct. 16, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office said.

It was the first case related to the Marathon bombings to go to trial. As the verdict was announced, Tazhayakov’s mother began to weep openly and his father appeared somber, at some points appearing to blink back tears. Their son, dressed in a blue suit, sat stoically, though at one point he lowered his head into his hands. Several times, he looked back at his parents.

Read More…

Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/Tsarnaev_friend_guilty_of_conspiracy%2C_obstruction/36761/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 212014
 

Source: Michael Snyder, BLN Contributor

In general, over the last several decades the world has experienced an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity.  The opening up of relations with China and the “end of the Cold War” resulted in an extended period of cooperation between east and west that was truly unique in the annals of history.  But now things are shifting.  The civil war in Ukraineand the crash of MH17 have created an enormous amount of tension between the United States and Russia, and many analysts believe that relations between the two superpowers are now even worse than they were during the end of the Cold War era.  In addition, the indictment of five PLA officers for cyber espionage and sharp disagreements over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea (among other issues) have caused U.S. relations with China to dip to their lowest point since at least 1989.  So could the emerging division between the east and the west ultimately plunge us into a period of global chaos?  And what would that mean for the world economy?

For as long as most Americans can remember, the U.S. dollar and the U.S. financial system have been overwhelmingly dominant.  But now the powers of the east appear to be determined to break this monopoly.  Four of the BRICS nations (China, Russia, India and Brazil) are on the list of the top ten biggest economies on the planet, and they are starting to make moves to become much less dependent on the U.S.-centered financial system of the western world.  For example, just last week the BRICS nations established two new institutions which are intended to be alternatives to the World Bank and the IMF…

So in their summit, from July 14 to 16, the five BRICS announced two major initiatives aimed squarely at increasing their power in global finance. They announced the launch of the New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai, that will offer financing for development projects in the emerging world. The bank will act as an alternative to the Washington, D.C.—based World Bank. The BRICS also formed what they’re calling a Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a series of currency agreements which can be utilized to help them smooth over financial imbalances with the rest of the world. That’s something the IMF does now.

Clearly, the idea is to create institutions and processes to supplement — and perhaps eventually supplant — the functions of those managed by U.S. and Europe. And they would be resources that they could control on their own, without the annoying conditions that the World Bank and the IMF always slap on their loans and assistance.

This comes at a time when both China and Russia are seeking to emphasize their own currencies and move away from using the U.S. dollar so much.

Even in the western media, it is being admitted that China’s yuan is “a growing force in global finance“, and according to CNBC the use of Chinese currency in international trade is growing very rapidly…

Of the German companies profiled, 23 percent are using the renminbi to settle trades, up from 9 percent last year, while usage in Hong Kong rose to 58 percent from 50 percent and to 17 percent from 9 percent in the U.S.

Usage of the renminbi among French companies – a new addition to this year’s list – was high at 26 percent.

And of course Russia has been actively pursuing a “de-dollarization strategy” for months now.  Each new round of economic sanctions pushes Russia even further in the direction of independence from the U.S. dollar, and Gazprom has been working hard to get large customers to switch from paying for natural gas in dollars to paying for natural gas in euros and other currencies.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “Russia Is Doing It – Russia Is Actually Abandoning The Dollar“.

At this point, it seems clear that Russia plans to permanently decouple from the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system.  Just today we learned that Vladimir Putin plans to make Russia less dependent on U.S. companies such as IBM and Microsoft, and any future rounds of sanctions are likely to cause even more damage to U.S. firms that do business in Russia.

But potentially much more troubling for the U.S. economy is the startling deterioration in the relationship between the Obama administration and China.  Some analysts are even describing this as “a tipping point”

One day, the United States indicts five PLA officers for cybercrimes; the next, the United States claims victory in WTO disputes over car tariffs and rare earth minerals. All this is happening while the United States promises enduring support for Asian allies, and it has moved openly to challenge the legitimacy of Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China is busy creating facts on the ground and water. Last month, a $1 billion Chinese oil rig set up operations in territorial waters claimed by Vietnam. In the East China Sea, Chinese SU-27 fighter jets have come within 100 feet of Japanese surveillance aircraft.

This was all capped at the recent Shangri-La Asian Security dialogue in Singapore (Asia’s annual defense-ministers meeting): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel bluntly described China’s behavior as “destabilizing, unilateral actions.” The PLA deputy chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, accused the United States of “hegemonism.”

The mood has soured, more than the usual ups and downs of big-power relationships. The question now is not whether a “new type of relationship” is in the offing, but rather, whether U.S.-Chinese relations have reached a tipping point.

Most Americans could not care less about what China is doing in the South China Sea, but to the Chinese this is a very, very big deal.  In fact, China just sent a surveillance vessel to Hawaii as a bit of payback for what they regard as U.S. “provocations” in the region.

In the old days, China would have probably never have done such a thing.  But China is gaining confidence as the gap between the U.S. military and the Chinese military rapidly closes

Away from the Chinese military’s expanding capabilities in cyberspace and electronic warfare, Beijing is growing the size and reach of its naval fleet, advancing its air force and testing a host of new missiles, the Pentagon said Thursday.

An annual report to Congress on China’s evolving military capability concluded that the modernization was being driven in part by growing territorial disputes in the East and South China seas, as well as by Beijing’s desire to expand its presence and influence abroad.

In fact, the Chinese military has grown so powerful that we are now seeing headlines such as this one in The Week: “China thinks it can defeat America in battle”.

And the Russian military has made tremendous strides as well. Putin has been working hard to modernize the Russian nuclear arsenal, the Russians now have a “fifth generation” fighter jet that is supposedly far superior to the F-22 Raptor, and they have nuclear submarines that are so incredibly quiet that the U.S. Navy refers to them as “black holes“.

If Russia and China stay united, they are more than capable of providing a counterbalance to U.S. power around the globe.

But even if military conflict is not in our immediate future, the breakdown in relations between east and west could still have a dramatic impact on the global economy.

Over the years, the U.S. and China have developed a highly symbiotic relationship that fuels a tremendous amount of economic activity all over the planet.  Each year, we buy hundreds of billions of dollars of products from the Chinese.  Just imagine what our stores would look like if we took everything that was “made in China” out of them.  And after we send them giant piles of our money, we beg the Chinese to lend it back to us at ultra-low interest rates.  This arrangement has allowed China to become extremely wealthy and it has allowed Americans to enjoy a massively inflated standard of living fueled by ever increasing amounts of debt.

So what happens if this relationship starts breaking down?

Without a doubt, it could potentially lead to global chaos.

So keep a close eye on this emerging division between the east and the west.  It could end up being far more important than most Americans would ever dare to imagine.

Article source: http://www.blacklistednews.com/New_World_Disorder%3A_Emerging_Division_Between_East_And_West_Threatens_To_Plunge_The_Globe_Into_Chaos/36762/0/38/38/Y/M.html

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Jul 212014
 

Zero Hedge

For the last few years, the ‘scariest’ chart for Europeans has been the unending surge in youth unemployment. However, amid all the sound and fury of mainstream US media discussions of the ‘recovery’ in America and the President’s employment track record, Constantin Gurdgiev notes another ‘scariest chart of the US recovery’ that remains in full ‘crisis mode’

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Jul 212014
 

Zero Hedge

Remember when the extremist Al Qaeda spinoff ISIS (or, now known as Islamic State following the formation of its own caliphate in the middle of Iraq and Syria) was still a “thing” two weeks ago? In this case out of sight does not mean out of mind, and while the world has found a new story line to follow in the middle east with the war between Israel and Gaza, now in its 14th day – whenever it is not busy responding to emotional appeals about the MH 17 crash – ISIS has continued to expand and as Al Arabiya reports it “is now in control of 35 percent of the Syrian territory following a string of victories, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday.“… Perhaps sensing the fact that the tide of war may be shifting for the worse, Iraq has become increasingly more vocal in demanding US assistance and a few hours ago went as far as to issue an ultimatum on the US - help us now or we will find another bigger borther – one who will actually help us.

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