Saturday, 24 June 2017

Weekend Update 24/06/17 Britain’s Future Under Comrade Corbyn.

I didn't come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change the country.

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

We open this weekend, with a dismal glimpse into life in the UK under a Comrade Corbyn, New Communist Labour Party “government.” The difference between Venezuela and GB, is that the UK under the New Communist Labour Party, will accomplish the same result far faster, sped on by the NCLP’s media mouthpiece, the Fake News, EUSSR promoting, socialist run, anti-America, anti-British, anti-Christian, anti-Israel, state run, BBC. Comrade Corbyn and Co., can make it all happen under just one Parliament, i.e. just 5 years, via the “People’s QE.”

I feel like everyone else in this country today. I am utterly devastated.

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Key Chavistas Abandon Maduro as Crisis Intensifies

By Andrew Rosati and Fabiola Zerpa  June 23, 2017
Friends of Venezuelan President Nicholás Maduro are peeling away. As the nation's chaos grinds on, former allies are joining a mounting chorus of dissent, a wave of defections unprecedented since the 1999 dawn of the nation's socialist era. Many of the disenchanted are actively working to foil Maduro’s efforts, making his hold on power all the more tenuous.

For almost three months, the nation has been rocked by unrest that shows no signs of ebbing. Sputtering demonstrations against government overreach quickly became a nationwide movement against the country's dire state, with inflation in triple digits and crime and corruption rampant. Dozens have been killed and thousands more injured or jailed.

Yet rather than yield to mounting pressure to hold elections, Maduro has called for a constituent assembly that would rewrite the constitution—considered one of the greatest legacies of the late Hugo Chávez—stoking fears that the embattled president seeks do away with elections entirely. Ruling socialists have endured previous waves of criticism, broken ranks—even coup attempts—since Chávez rose to power almost two decades ago. But never in recent memory has a president been so unpopular and the state of the country so grim.

Next, in Labour run London, panic. Under the Bliar and Brown dumbed down, pander to any cause, power at all costs regimes, Britain spent 22 billion Pounds, cladding buildings in flammable insulation and cladding, all as a sop to the green lobby, and their votes. The planet would be saved from global warming, by making GB’s buildings flammable. It’s what happens when socialist children pandering to new age media, are put in charge of adult decisions. A Bliar and Brown regime would have surrendered at Dunkirk, if not before.

Every so often, I feel I should graduate to classical music, properly. But the truth is, I'm more likely to listen to rock music.

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Five Camden tower blocks evacuated after Grenfell fire raises cladding concerns 

23 June 2017 • 8:20pm
Residents in five tower blocks in Camden, north London, have been told to immediately evacuate their homes to allow "urgent fires safety works" to take place.

Camden Council said 800 households were to be moved into temporary accommodation because the blocks were covered in similar cladding to the material used in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The high-rise buildings on the Chalcots estate in Swiss Cottage were being emptied on Friday evening after firefighters said they "could not guarantee our residents' safety", local council leader Georgia Gould said.

She told Sky News that a rest centre had been set up and residents were being found hotels and other accommodation.

It is the first council to evacuate a building in the wake of the tragedy.

Ms Gould said experts had been inspecting the buildings since it emerged cladding may have been behind the rapid spread of the Grenfell Tower fire. 

"What we found was that the cladding was not up to the standard, it was not fire retardant," she said. 

----A spokesman added that residents would be allowed in at the weekend to collect more possessions "under escort from the London Fire Brigade" and recommended people pack enough belongings for a two-to-four-week stay.

Chalcots resident Shirley Philips told Sky she was given no notice before being told she must leave her home.

She said: "I think it's absolutely disgusting. We've had the fire brigade all day, Camden Council, police.

"I had a fire safety check done today. Why have they left it til half past eight on Friday night to start getting residents out? Where do they think we're all going?"

----Michelle Urquhart, who has been living in the estate's Bray tower, said: "It's a bit frightening. I don't know where we are going to go.

"One man in a suit said to me 'you can't stay here tonight'.

"We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding."

Teacher Kim Price, who lives in Blashford tower with her 14-year-old son, said she had received mixed messages over whether to leave her flat. She said: "The news has said 'get out now' but the authorities have said 'stay put'.

"We've had two letters in two days saying 'you're not safe' then 'you're safe'. I don't really know what to do."

In other news, the EUSSR’s largest economy has an unexpected wobble in services. Has the wealth and jobs destroying EUSSR already peaked?

I say to the Taliban: surrender the terrorists; or surrender power. It's your choice.

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Fri Jun 23, 2017 | 8:38am BST

German private sector growth slows more than expected in June - PMI

Germany's private-sector grew at a slower pace in June, a survey showed on Friday, mainly weighed down by weaker activity in the services sector, where the rate of expansion fell to a five-month low.

Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors that account for more than two-thirds of the economy, fell to a four-month low of 56.1 from 57.4 in May.

The reading undershot the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists but remained well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

Markit said that despite the fall, the reading still pointed to a strong growth in Europe's largest economy.

"The headline output index for Germany declined for the second time in three months during June, according to the flash estimate, but nevertheless remained at a level indicative of strong economic growth," said Markit's Trevor Balchin.

He added: "The average reading for the second quarter, at 56.7, was the highest since the second quarter of 2011."

Activity in the manufacturing sector slowed slightly, with the index falling to 59.3 from 59.5 a month earlier. The services sector index fell to 53.7 from 55.4 in May.

Rounding out this week’s under reported news. Tesla joins those  wanting to make China great again. Russia gets the west’s cyber source codes. America gets control of the new Liebor. The ECB finds itself over a German barrel. America’s seditionist “deep state” looks at Iceland to bring down President Trump. NSA anyone?

Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Tesla Moves a Step Closer to Building Electric Cars in China

Reuters 5:49 AM ET
Tesla took a step closer toward establishing an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in China with its announcement on Thursday that it is in exploratory talks with the Shanghai municipal government.

Tesla has said it wants to build electric cars in China to avoid a 25% tariff on imported vehicles.

The company did not provide a timeline for setting up a China plant, but said it expects to "more clearly define" its China production plans by the end of the year.

Tesla (tsla, +1.49%) shares closed up 1.7% at $382.61 in Thursday trading.

China's central government requires foreign companies such as Tesla to have a Chinese partner in new auto manufacturing ventures, with the foreign company owning no more than 50 percent.

Tesla did not say which companies it might partner with, sparking rampant online speculation. At least three companies—Shanghai Electric Group, Shanghai Lingang Holdings and Tianjin Motor Dies—reported in exchange filings that they were not in touch with Tesla about its plans in response to media reports implicating them.

Much of the speculation has centered on Tencent Holdings (tcehy, +1.06%), the internet giant that is China's largest company. Earlier this year, Tencent acquired a five-percent stake in Tesla for $1.8 billion.

Tesla has not said which vehicles it plans to build in China. However, a supplier familiar with the company's thinking said it was considering the Model 3 sedan and a crossover companion called Model Y. The Model 3 is slated to begin production in July at Tesla's Fremont plant in California, with the Model Y tentatively scheduled to follow in mid-2019.

In a separate but related development, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Thursday he was concerned about Ford Motor Co's announcement earlier this week that it will move some production of its Focus small car to China and import the vehicles to the United States.

"If it happened for reasons that are non-economic reasons, then I think the administration should take action," Lighthizer told U.S. lawmakers.

Tesla is the most valuable U.S. automaker, with a market capitalization of more than $60 billion, but it has yet to turn an annual profit.

Fri Jun 23, 2017 | 10:30am BST

Under pressure, Western tech firms bow to Russian demands to share cyber secrets

Western technology companies, including Cisco (CSCO.O), IBM (IBM.N) and SAP (SAPG.DE), are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found.

Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country. The requests, which have increased since 2014, are ostensibly done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any "backdoors" that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems.

But those inspections also provide the Russians an opportunity to find vulnerabilities in the products' source code - instructions that control the basic operations of computer equipment - current and former U.S. officials and security experts said.

While a number of U.S. firms say they are playing ball to preserve their entree to Russia's huge tech market, at least one U.S. firm, Symantec (SYMC.O), told Reuters it has stopped cooperating with the source code reviews over security concerns. That halt has not been previously reported.

Symantec said one of the labs inspecting its products was not independent enough from the Russian government.

U.S. officials say they have warned firms about the risks of allowing the Russians to review their products' source code, because of fears it could be used in cyber attacks. But they say they have no legal authority to stop the practice unless the technology has restricted military applications or violates U.S. sanctions.

From their side, companies say they are under pressure to acquiesce to the demands from Russian regulators or risk being shut out of a lucrative market. The companies say they only allow Russia to review their source code in secure facilities that prevent code from being copied or altered. (Graphic on source code review process:

The demands are being made by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which the U.S. government says took part in the cyber attacks on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the 2014 hack of 500 million Yahoo email accounts. The FSB, which has denied involvement in both the election and Yahoo hacks, doubles as a regulator charged with approving the sale of sophisticated technology products in Russia.

Thu Jun 22, 2017 | 9:53pm BST

Bank committee selects repo as Libor alternative for swaps

A committee of large international banks on Thursday voted to adopt an interest rate benchmark from the U.S. Treasuries-backed repurchase agreement market (repo) as an alternative to the use of Libor in around $150 trillion worth of derivatives.

The Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) was tasked with selecting a new rate at the behest of regulators including the Federal Reserve who worried that a decline in short-term bank lending since the 2008 financial crisis undermined faith in Libor, and posed risks to the trillions of dollars of derivatives backed by the rate.

The repo rate was selected over the Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), an unsecured bank lending rate based on transactions in the federal funds and Eurodollar markets.

The ARRC said that the repo was considered the most appropriate rate after considering the depth and robustness of the market as well as other factors including regulatory principles.

----Reforms to banking and money market fund regulations, along with allegations of Libor manipulation before and during the crisis, has resulted in fewer interbank short-term loans and reduced funds' demand for bank debt, so Libor rates are sometimes estimated rather than based on actual transactions.

Selecting repo ”is keeping with a rate that should be broadly reflective of actual transactions,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, an interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York.

An advantage of repo is that the market is large and liquid, with over $600 billion in trades estimated to be made overnight. That compares with around $300 billion trades in the markets backing the OBFR.

Trading contracts based on the new rate is expected to begin next year on a voluntary basis, though it will likely take several years to build strong liquidity in the product.

Fri Jun 23, 2017 | 11:22am BST

German bond scarcity a key factor in ECB QE extension debate: sources

The growing scarcity of German government bonds makes any major extension of the European Central Bank's asset buying scheme difficult and this will be a key consideration when policymakers decide whether to extend the buys, three sources told Reuters.

German sovereign debt available for purchase by the ECB will be exhausted, at the latest, by the middle of next year, so a meaningful extension would require a redesign of the programme, a contentious issue since growth and inflation are both slowly moving in the right direction, sources with direct knowledge of the discussion said.

The 2.3 trillion euro bond buying programme, designed to revive inflation, is set to run until the end this year but even if policymakers agree this fall to wind it down, an orderly reduction known as tapering would carry it well into next year.

The problem is that the ECB's self-imposed rules mean it can only buy up to one-third of each country's debt and given Germany's relatively low debt level, it is only months away from reaching this limit.

"I just don't see where we could find enough German bonds to keep this programme running beyond mid-2018, at best," a source, who asked not to be named said. "If you want to extend, you have to reconsider the parameters and that's a difficult sell when everything is going in the right direction."

"This will be a major factor in our decision on the future of the programme," the source added.

While the ECB has argued that the programme has built-in flexibility, the comments suggest that such room for manoeuvre is now clearly limited and will constrain the Governing Council.

Hey, Mueller, You Should Check Out Iceland

23 June 2017, 12:30 GMT+1
Earlier this week I wrote about the Bayrock Group, a property developer that did business deals for a decade with President Donald Trump.

Felix Sater -- a Bayrock principal who was a career criminal with American and Russian mob ties and who has remained in the Trump orbit -- helped reel in funds of murky origin that Bayrock and Trump used for projects such as the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan. And one of Bayrock's biggest financial backers was an Icelandic investment bank, the FL Group.

Iceland would seem like an unlikely place for U.S. Justice Department investigators to look as they probe Trump connections with Russia and related matters. Yet there are trails to pursue there.

When Sater convinced FL to invest in Bayrock in 2007, Iceland was a font of easy money caught up in a financial binge so frenzied that it would cause the country's economy to implode in 2008.

Prior to that collapse, a handful of hard-driving financiers -- Icelanders dubbed them "The Vikings" -- took control of Iceland's three main banks following a series of controversial privatizations.

The Vikings pulled in piles of money from overseas and then went about making global acquisitions. Some of them loaned recklessly, had interlocking business relationships, produced glossy and misleading financial statements, made end runs around unsophisticated regulators and at the peak of their powers controlled assets worth 10 times more than Iceland's gross domestic product.

FL -- an investment firm that owned the largest stake in one of Iceland's three big banks -- was controlled by Jon Asgeir Johannesson, who once described himself as "more rock star than businessman."

FL drew funds from all three of Iceland’s major banks and then invested in a wide range of businesses: insurers, airlines, real estate, gambling, a brewery, retailers, commercial shipping, a fruit juice maker -- and Trump’s partner, Bayrock.

When Iceland's bubble burst in 2008 and an island of just 320,000 people was left reeling, FL was the first major firm to collapse. The big banks soon followed. Amid the political and economic upheaval that followed, Iceland let its banks fail and sent some of the bankers responsible to prison. (Johanneson was eventually convicted of tax and accounting fraud and fined, but received suspended prison terms; he didn’t respond to interview requests.)

We close for the weekend with the solar system. Lately, it’s not been all a closed one-way street. There may be at least two more planets out there awaiting discovery. If they are there, look for Musk (SpaceX,) or Branson (Virgin Galactic,) to get you there by the middle of the century. Getting you back again, now that’s a different issue.

"A day like today is not a day for soundbites, really. But I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders. I really do."

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Move over, Planet 9: Does a Mars-sized 10th planet lurk beyond Pluto?

Michael Irving June 22, 2017
In January last year, astronomers from Caltech suggested that a gigantic so-far-undiscovered planet might be lurking on the fringes of the Solar System. Now researchers from the University of Arizona (UA) have found that if it exists, this so-called Planet Nine might not be alone out there. Weirdly wobbling objects in the Kuiper Belt seem to indicate the influence of yet another planetary body at least as large as Mars.

The Caltech team first hypothesized the existence of Planet Nine based on the odd orbital plane of six Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). These were all tilted on an angle about 30 degrees off the average, suggesting that a huge planet about 10 times larger than Earth was tugging on them from way out in the shadows. Since then, evidence for the existence of this planet has mounted, including its influence on other trans-Neptunian objects and even the Sun.

Using a similar method, the UA researchers observed the tilt angles of some 600 KBOs, and found that the most distant objects have an average orbital plane that's off-kilter by about eight degrees. That suggests the presence of another currently-undiscovered planetary body about the size of Mars, orbiting 60 times further from the Sun than Earth.

"The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass," says Kat Volk, lead author of the study. "According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured."

The team gives the findings a less than two percent chance of being a statistical anomaly, and the effect is also not likely to be caused by the predicted Planet Nine. That distant giant is believed to orbit between 500 and 700 Astronomical Units (AU), but to have the observed impact it would need to be closer than 100 AU. A rogue star swinging past could have created the wobble as well, but the researchers don't consider that likely because the time scales don't quite line up.

Without having observed the mysterious object directly, the team is careful to call it a "planetary mass object" for now. The official definition of a planet, as voted by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, is "a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit."

It was that last part that got poor Pluto kicked out of the club, so until the hypothesized object has been found, it's best not to attach the label of "planet" just yet. The researchers believe that the mystery may be solved when the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) comes online in 2020.

"We expect LSST to bring the number of observed KBOs from currently about 2,000 to 40,000," says Renu Malhotra, co-author of the study. "There are a lot more KBOs out there – we just have not seen them yet. Some of them are too far and dim even for LSST to spot, but because the telescope will cover the sky much more comprehensively than current surveys, it should be able to detect this object, if it's out there."

The research was published in the Astronomical Journal.

"The allegation being true it would have merited my resignation ... Any person listening to that would think we had done something improper, not that we just got our facts mixed up."

Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Condemning Andrew Gilligan's BBC report on the Downing Street dossier on Iraqi WMDs to the Hutton inquiry, August 2003.

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