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US Military Officials Reportedly Observe North Korean Missile Launchers Being Prepared

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

On the heels of the release of satellite imagery showing notable instability around the site of North Korea’s nuclear bomb testing facility, NBC reports that three US military officials have observed North korea moving mobile missile launchers and preapreing hard sites in the last 48 hours.

JUST IN: North Korea observed moving mobile missile launchers & preparing hard sites in last 48 hours, per 3 U.S. senior military officials

— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) September 13, 2017

This comes just hours after 38North.org exposes details new commercial satellite imagery confirms earlier 38 North analysis identifying numerous landslides throughout the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site on the slopes of Mt. Mantap (and beyond) resulting from North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than seen after any of the North’s previous five tests, and include additional slippage in pre-existing landslide scars and a possible subsidence crater. However, it is unclear from the imagery whether this subsidence is due to what has been reported as “a cave-in that was externally observable,” associated with the 4.6 magnitude event that occurred eight minutes after the test.

There also appears to be increased water drainage in the North Portal Area, likely stimulated by the large underground nuclear test. Such underground water flow stimulation (brought about by expansion of existing cracks and fissures) could also be expected to promote the transport of radionuclides to the surface, and is not inconsistent with a more recent reportthat some radionuclides (traces of Xenon-133) were detected in the environment following the test (by South Korea).

An apparent rectangular subsidence “crater” appears in the stratified volcanics at the basalt escarpment lip on the western corner of Mt. Mantap. This “crater” is likely what has been reported as a possible “collapse chimney crater,” but could also just be induced slippage prompted by the massive tremor.  We may know more once synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery becomes available to potentially plot the epicenter of all of the surface disturbances.

Imagery from September 8 also shows a large tractor/trailer cargo truck in the South Portal Area for the first time, and mining carts and other equipment are present outside the West Portal. Such activity, coming shortly after the largest underground nuclear test conducted at Punggye-ri to date (via the North Portal), suggests that onsite work could now be changing focus to further prepare those other portals for future underground nuclear testing.

For the first time in over a year, activity was noted within the South Portal Area. A large tractor/trailer cargo truck was located in the area between the primary and secondary tunnel portals. The purpose of the vehicle is as yet unknown. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not the North Portal will ever be used for another nuclear test. There are still two unused additional tunnel complexes (served by the South and West Portals) that are also deemed potentially capable of conducting nuclear tests, albeit for tests having lower yields than that of the sixth test.

Read more here…

As North38 concludes, we also see no reason to alter our previous assessment that regardless of whether this most recent test was an operational warhead for an ICBM or simply a device, the yield of the test clearly shows North Korean progress in increasing the yields of their nuclear weapons.

The significance of this is that it has the potential to dramatically increase the threat posed by its Strategic Force (responsible for ballistic missiles) as individual nuclear warheads potentially now have 10-times (or more) greater destructive power. This would allow fewer missiles to be employed to ensure destruction of a given target, and increase the target areas threatened by North Korean ICBMs by allowing a larger number of targets to be engaged with the current missile inventory. If the claim that the device just tested has a variable yield is true (from tens to hundreds of kilotons), then this may also imply the North Koreans intend to adopt an expanded policy of using nuclear weapons, including tactical use, in addition to deterring threats to existence of the state. By doing so, they would join countries such as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, etc. that have policies regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons, clearly further destabilizing the Korean peninsula situation.

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Argentina Doubles Down On Shale Gas And Renewables

September 13, 2017 OilPrice.com 0

Traditionally one of the most prominent oil and natural gas markets in South America, Argentina is increasingly turning towards alternative forms of energy, with the government exploring shale gas and renewable options as it looks to diversify its power market. The shift comes amid challenges to longstanding hydrocarbons production, which has seen Argentina record export deficits in recent years. Foot on the gas According to the “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017”, natural gas accounts for 50.2 percent of Argentina’s…

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Yes, This Time It Is Different: But Not In Good Ways

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Yes, this time it’s different: all the foundations of a healthy economy are crumbling into quicksand.

The rallying cry of Permanent Bulls is this time it’s different. That’s absolutely true, but it isn’t bullish–it’s terrifically, terribly bearish. Why is this time it’s different bearish going forward? The basic answer is that nothing that is structurally broken has actually been fixed, and the policy “fixes” have fatally weakened the global financial system.

Let’s go over a handful of the many ways that this time it’s different, starting with the unprecedented level of central bank support of asset prices via the purchase of financial assets such as stocks and bonds.

Central Banks Have Purchased $2 Trillion In Assets In 2017

A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real “money”:

As virtually everyone who follows finance knows, these monumental purchases have pushed bond yields / interest rates lower and stocks higher, while super-low mortgage rates have inflated a new global housing bubble that’s now bigger than the previous bubble that burst with such devastating consequences.

The net consequence of this 8-year long orgy of inflating global assets has backed the central banks into a corner, as the asset bubbles demand two incompatible policies:

1. “normalize” rates and central bank balance sheets by reducing / ending central bank purchases of assets

2. continue the rampant expansion of central bank balance sheets / purchases of assets lest these bubbles pop, destroying tens of trillions in “wealth” (more properly, phantom wealth).

You can’t have it both ways, and so the central bankers keep their sweaty palms on the steering wheel and their foot on the accelerator, speeding for the cliff, i.e. the point at which bubbles pop despite central bank buying.

This time is also different in the unprecedented mis-alignment of labor markets, worker skills, productivity and wage growth. As I have explained many times here, wage growth is the essential foundation for self-sustaining economic expansion based on purchases funded by debt. (The current global economy requires expanding debt to fund expanding consumption and the servicing of existing debt.)

This time it’s different, as wages have stagnated for the bottom 95%. Even with full employment and 6 million job openings, wages aren’t rising because they can’t rise; employers can’t afford to pay more and labor overhead costs like healthcare insurance and workers compensation are siphoning off income that could have gone to wages.

This time it’s different because productivity is also stagnating, despite the many trillions dumped into financial markets. All the trillions flow into speculative gambles backstopped by central banks, not productive investments–those are too risky. It’s much smarter to put free cash into speculative financial games (stock buy-backs, etc.) that are backstopped by central banks or state agencies.

Meanwhile, low-income workers can’t afford to live in high-cost cities, and small businesses can’t afford to pay higher wages for low-productivity jobs. It must be extremely frustrating to central bankers and politicos: they can force-feed corporations and financiers with limitless free money for speculation, but they can’t force people to start and operate small businesses or take on more debt–except those mired in the delusion that college diplomas are the guaranteed key to financial security.

The bloated, self-serving higher education sector is failing to provide the knowledge and skills employers need in the fast-changing 4th Industrial Revolution, even as it enslaves millions in student-loan servitude. The debt trap: how the student loan industry betrays young Americans (via Joel M.).

As I outline in my books The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy and Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy, the system that we need and that is in reach (if we could only escape the death-grip of the higher education/finance cartels) is one based on dynamic apprenticeships in the real world– not just for blue-collar trades and crafts (the traditional apprenticeship model) but for all jobs, from filmmaking to coding to management.

As a result of these structurally broken systems, there are millions of low-productivity jobs and many high-skill positions that can’t be filled. The dynamic nexus of labor markets, education/training, productivity and wage growth is broken, utterly and completely, despite the “all is well” bleatings of the self-serving cartels reaping billions from the current parasitic feudalism.

Yes, this time it’s different: all the foundations of a healthy economy are crumbling into quicksand. Nothing that is broken has been fixed, and the central banks’ one “fix”–inflating asset bubbles–guarantees the destruction of all the phantom wealth this “fix” has generated.

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

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Massachusetts Kicks Off State Lawsuits Against Equifax Over Massive Data Breach

September 13, 2017 ZeroPointNow 0

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax has already been hit with over 30 lawsuits over what may be the largest breach of sensitive information in U.S. history – at least 23 of which are class-action filings, and all of them representing individuals.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey – a Democrat who in March led the state in suing the Trump administration over the travel ban – announced her intent to take Equifax to court, the first such lawsuit from a state prosecutor’s office over a data breach which has affected up to 143 million Americans. “In all of our years investigating data breaches, this may be the most brazen failure to protect consumer data we have ever seen,” said Healey.

In a press release, the Mass AG’s office is claiming that Equifax did not “maintain the appropriate safeguards to protect consumer data,” which is a violation of state consumer protection and privacy laws.

While Equifax offered people a free credit monitoring service which initially waived the right to sue the company, they later clarified that customers could sue if they sent Equifax written notice within 30 days. Yesterday, the company said that use of the free credit monitoring service does not waive the right to take legal action.

Via CNN

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the clarification came as a result of conversations with his office.

“The victims of this breach shouldn’t also have to worry that they’ve waived their legal rights simply because they were trying to protect themselves. That’s why my office reached out to Equifax last week about the terms of use,” he said in a statement.

Schneiderman’s office is currently investigating the breach, as are attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois.

Regulators and investigators across the country have already begun to dig into the scope and disclosure of the hack – including safeguards and procedures Equifax had in place prior to the attack. The NY AG’s office begun an investigation into the breach last week, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the FBI.

Setting sale before the storm

Separate of the lawsuits, a bipartisan group of senators called upon federal prosecutors to investigate stock sales by three Equifax executives before the company publicly disclosed the hack, generating nearly $2 million in proceeds shortly after the breach was detected.

SEC filings show that Equifax CFO John Gamble sold $946,000 worth of shares on Aug 1, while two other executives sold shares and exercised options worth nearly $850,000.

The lawmakers, led by senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) is asking the SEC and the FTC to look into the sales.

“As part of your investigations, we request that you conduct a thorough examination of any unusual trading, including any atypical options trading, for violations of insider trading law,” the senators wrote. “We request that you spare no effort in your investigations and in enforcing the law to the fullest extent against anyone who is found to be at fault.”

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Trump Blocks Chinese Acquisition Of Chipmaker Lattice Semi Over “Security Risk”

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

In a move that will likely cause at least a few frowns in Beijing, Bloomberg reports that President Trump blocked a Chinese-backed buyer from acquiring chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor, not only a “personal rebuke that bodes poorly for several other Chinese buyers seeking U.S. security clearance for their acquisitions”, but also a symbolic escalation of the “cold” trade war with China, hinting that the Trump administration will no longer allow China to acquire advanced US intellectual property, especially when national security may be on the line.

“Consistent with the administration’s commitment to take all actions necessary to ensure the protection of U.S. national security, the president issued an order prohibiting the acquisition,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Here’s Trump’s order blocking the sale of Lattice Semiconductor to a China-backed fund pic.twitter.com/FxX7oDihmh

— David S. Joachim (@davidjoachim) September 13, 2017

The White House said that “the national-security risks posed by the deal included the Chinese government’s role in supporting this transaction, the importance of semiconductor supply chain integrity to the United States government, and the use of Lattice products by the United States government.”

Trump’s move builds on years of U.S. opposition to China’s efforts to bolster its chip industry by buying American technology. China, the world’s largest chip market, has been on the hunt for acquisitions in the field as it looks to build a domestic supply and rely less heavily on imports, as the $300 billion global semiconductor industry undergoes its biggest wave of consolidation. U.S. officials worry that China’s investment push could threaten the competitiveness of American industry and give Beijing access to cutting-edge technology with commercial and military applications.

According to Bloomberg, the deal block was just the fourth time in 27 years that a U.S. president has ordered a foreign takeover of an American firm stopped because of national-security risks.

Trump acted on the recommendation of a multi-agency panel, the White House and the Treasury Department said Wednesday. The spurned buyer, Canyon Bridge Capital Partners LLC, is a private-equity firm backed by a Chinese state-owned asset manager.

Other Chinese deals currently under review include MoneyGram International Inc.’s proposed sale to Ant Financial, the financial-services company controlled by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. Ironically, the government is also examining an agreement by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. to buy a stake in SkyBridge Capital LLC, the fund-management company founded by Anthony Scaramucci, who was briefly Trump’s White House communications director.

As Bloomberg explains, Portland, OR-based Lattice went to uncommon lengths in hopes of saving its $1.3 billion sale to Canyon Bridge, which was first announced in November. Acquisitions of U.S. companies like Lattice by overseas buyers are reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a panel staffed by senior officials from the Treasury, State, Homeland Security and Defense departments. CFIUS can bless deals or recommend changes to address security concerns. If it doesn’t like a deal, it can recommend the president block it. Lattice and Canyon Bridge refiled three times without winning approval before making the unusual decision to appeal to Trump in hopes of winning him over with a pledge to save jobs.

The failed Lattice acquisition is at least the third Chinese deal that has collapsed this year after failing to win approval from the security panel. The others are HNA’s investment in Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., an in-flight entertainment and internet-services provider, and T.C.L. Industries Holdings’ proposed purchase of Inseego Corp.’s mobile-broadband business.

Now the question is whether China will be sufficiently angered by the decision to tacitly give North Korea the green light to lob one more ICBM in the skies over Japan…

LSCC stock moved sharply lower on the report, although it has since recovered much of its losses, as the deal collapse had been previously telegraphed, and now opens up the company for competitive bids.

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UBS Fears False Dawn In Stocks: “We Don’t Have The Sentiment For A New Breakout”

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

While asset-gatheres and commission-takers are celebrating the record highs in stocks – after the world did not end last weekend – UBS Technical Analyst team is a little less sanguine, fearing that this move to new record highs in the S&P could well be another false breakout due to a lack of sentiment signals in derivatives-land, and breadth breaking down.

On the one hand, the SPX is making marginal new all-time highs but on the other hand, we have the very steep 2016 bull trend underpinning the market coming under pressure to further deliver – if not break this trend.

Taking into account the very low CBOE put/call ratio…

 

And, in the historical context, still quite high SKEW/VIX ratio…

 

We still see a high likelihood for a second corrective pullback into early October; in this case we would see the SPX breaking its 2016 bull trend, which at least short-term would produce some kind of market volatility.

Additionally UBS notes that VIX is still around its 24-year low, which should cap the market on the upside. More importantly, with a marginal new SPX high we would very likely see the VIX index not marking a new low, which would be per definition a divergence, which tactically would be toppish instead of expecting a new broad-based breakout campaign.

 

UBS also notes that bank stocks have begun to catch back down to the yield curve’s reality…

 

And on a global basis, notable bearish divergences are everywhere…

Momentum is rolling over across numerous markets…

 

And as Global Stocks Index hits record highs, so new 52-week highs for each country are fading…

 

So when does this end?

Soon, very soon.

 

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Plastics Won’t Save Oil

September 13, 2017 Irina Slav 0

Petrochemicals are Big Oil’s big hope for the future—the distant future. Petrochemicals are used in thousands of products, with the biggest group among these being single-use plastic products. The bad news for oil is that green initiatives around the world are mounting and many of them are targeting precisely this group of products. The latest such initiative came from Kenya. Last month, the East African country introduced what is considered one of the toughest bans on plastic bags globally. The making, marketing, and use of plastic…

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