MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s military watchdog has issued a public plea for information regarding rumors of possible war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan.
Nothing epitomizes the failure of Europe’s immigration policies more than the notorious “no-go zones.”
For decades the West has opened its borders to people who don’t share their values, and the West has utterly failed to encourage these people to assimilate. To even suggest that is now considered racist in many European countries.
The lack of assimilation has reached a degree that many of these populations have become resentful of their mediocre status in society, and have actually become more insular. Younger generations of these immigrants are more likely to follow ideologies like radical Islam, and they’re less likely than their parents to interact with native born Europeans. Many of them don’t even speak any European languages.
The result has been the rise of dozens of no-go zones, which dot the urban landscapes of Europe. These are places that act as ethnic enclaves within their host countries. They are nations within nations, where outsiders are routinely shunned, berated, and beaten if they dare enter. In addition to that, they’ve become hotbeds of terrorism and civil unrest. And believe it or not, these Islamic no-go zones are beginning to show up in the United States.
That’s according to Raheem Kassam, a conservative political activist and author from the UK. He recently wrote a book on the subject of no-go zones, which reveals startling similarities between the Middle Eastern enclaves of Europe and America.
Places like the Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis, where Shariah cops make house checks to make sure Somali refugees are not becoming too Westernized, and Hamtramck, Michigan, where the call to prayer is blasted over loudspeakers in Arabic and storefronts that once peddled Polish sausage are now brimming with halal meats.
These can be the early warning signs of a budding no-go zone, says Kassam. But even more crucial, he says, is the level of assimilation by second and third generation Muslim Americans. If the experience of Europe is any indication, trouble is on the horizon for U.S. cities.
Of course, America has always had neighborhoods that were predominantly inhabited by various immigrant groups. But over time those immigrants still assimilated. That’s not what we’re seeing is America’s Muslim neighborhoods.
“But you look at the Muslim immigrants and they’re not doing that, they’re actually further ghettoizing, they’re moving inward, not outward.”
Polls by Pew Research show a higher proportion of young Muslims backing terrorism, supporting death for apostasy [leaving Islam], death for homosexuals, and the idea that the woman must cover herself with the hijab or the burqa.
So it’s the opposite trend of Little Italy becoming less like Italy and more like America.
“You see a higher disposition than their parents who believe these things,” Kassam said. “They’re holding onto this Muslim-American sort of thing, and they’re being supported by the political left.”
Kassam includes a whole chapter on Hamtramck, which in 2015 became the first U.S. city to elect a majority-Muslim city council. Several years before that, in 2011, the city approved the Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers, effectively chasing away many of the last Polish holdouts.
What’s going on in Europe right now should stand as a warning to Americans. Those countries have made a terrible mistake with their immigration policies, which they may be paying for over the next few generations. But unlike Europe, we still have time to change course. We can still adopt a sensible immigration policy that invites people who treasure our values, and turns back those who would have no respect for what we stand for.
For millions of middle- and working-class Americans, the "American Dream" is all but dead. Far from being able to afford their own homes, the Fed’s latest survey on the wellbeing of US households revealed that nearly a quarter of Americans are unable to pay their monthly bills on time, and nearly half have less than $400 in the bank…
But in what’s perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the financial security of American workers, a study published by HowMuch.net explores the true cost of living for working-class Americans in dozens of US cities.
What they found is hardly surprising. In most areas of the country, the average working-class household would be running a spending deficit. According to HowMuch’s methodology, the best place to live from a financial perspective on an Average Joe’s salary is Fort Worth, Texas, which would leave a working-class family with a $10,447 surplus at the end of the year. On the flip side, that same family would need an additional $91,184 just to break even in New York City.
To arrive at these scores, the researchers used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for income levels, the National Bureau of Economic Research for tax data, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the cost of food.
Newark, NJ, Chesapeake, VA and Jacksonville, FL are the only coastal cities where a worker can adequately support his family without accumulating debt. Notice there are exactly zero affordable cities on the west coast.
Likewise, San Antonio is the only one of the top 10 most populated cities where a working-class family can afford a decent living. Out of the top 50 cities, only a dozen qualify.
HowMuch illustrates its data in the map below. The darker the shade of red, the worse off the typical working-class family is. The darker the shade of green, the better off they would be. The size of the bubble also fits on a sliding scale—large and dark red means the city is totally unaffordable. Bigger dark green bubbles likewise indicate a city where the working class can get by.
And as you can see, the red is much more prominent than the green.
So where are the best places for working-class families to live? Here are the top five cities with the net surplus wokers are left with after living expenses.
1. Fort Worth, TX ($10,447)
2. Newark, NJ (($10,154)
3. Glendale, AZ ($10,120)
4. Gilbert, AZ ($9,760)
5. Mesa, AZ ($7,780)
And here are the five worst cities, with their associated cost-of-living deficits.
1. New York, NY (-$91,184)
2. San Francisco, CA (-$83,272)
3. Boston, MA (-$61,900)
4. Washington, DC (-$50,535)
5. Philadelphia, PA (-$37,850)
Readers can take a more in-depth look at the data using HowMuch’s True Cost of Living tool, which is available here.
– All four precious metals outperform markets in August
– Gold posts best month since January, up nearly 4%
– Gold reaches highest price since US election, climbs due to uncertainty and safe haven demand
– S&P 500 marginally higher; Euro Stoxx, Nikkei lower for month
– Platinum is best performing metal climbing over 5%
– Palladium climbs over 4% thanks to seven year supply squeeze
– Fear, uncertainty and political sanctions are amongst biggest drivers for precious metals
– Never been a better time to diversify and rebalance portfolios with stocks and bonds near record highs and looking vulnerable
Editor: Mark O’Byrne
Market Performance in August (Finviz.com)
All four precious metals have made gains in the month of August.
Whilst platinum and palladium’s leading performances can largely be attributed to industrial factors they have also benefited from the safe haven demand which is driving gold and silver prices.
Safe haven demand really came into its own this last month. Issues with North Korea have stepped up a level whilst markets have finally begun to question the complacency they have been feeling in regard to the US political and financial situation, geopolitical risk and the increasingly uncertain outlook for the global economy.
Ultimately very little is known about what will happen with the US debt ceiling, increasingly overvalued stocks (both the NASDAQ and the S&P500), Trump’s plans for corporate tax, dealings with North Korea and (not forgetting) Venezuela.
We are living in very uncertain times indeed and investors decided to allocate funds to the ultimate safe havens – the precious metals.
Gold shines as investors rush into safe havens
This week gold rose to its highest point so far in 2017 as tensions between North Korea (but really, the rest of the world) and the US ramped up. For the month of August the price is up 3.59%.
Silver was also up thanks to safe haven demand, but its 5% climb was also in part due to manufacturing demand. Currently, about 55% of all silver consumed is for industrial use.
Gold has so far risen in every month, bar June.
Gold’s climb has in part been due to ongoing demand from countries such as China and India, but it has primarily been driven by the desire in the West to own a safe haven. This is not surprising given the ongoing concerns regarding North Korea, Venezuela, the Middle East and a lack of cohesion in the Trump administration.
One of the dampeners on gold and silver has been the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates. However, when they did so it had little effect. Expectations for further hikes are falling. Going forward Yellen and team are expected to slow down on further interest-rate increases which has provided an additional boost for the gold price.
In the very short-term storm Harvey in Houston, Texas has also impacted the price of gold and silver. As a result of lost income and recovery operations, US GDP is expected to be lower in the third-quarter than was initially expected.
In the long-term investors will look to gold and silver as they begin to price risk into the market. Yesterday we expressed our concerns over market complacency whilst other financial organisations have begun to warn clients about the overpriced equity markets and lack of perceived risk.
It is also worth noting an expected climb in demand from China. Mark Tinker, Head of AXA Framlington wrote in a note that China’s pricing of assets in yuan (together with the plan by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to sell yuan-priced physical gold contracts) could allow them to trade out of the banking system in the US
“Having accepted payment for oil or gas in RMB, the seller, be it Russia or Saudi Arabia or anyone else for that matter, does not have to worry about having excess RMB, they can simply trade it back into gold,” Tinker said. “We are moving to a multi-polar world.”
Platinum gains as Russia feels the pain
Platinum has performed very well so far in the second half of the year. This most recent surge has likely come about thanks to further sanctions being placed on Russia by the US. Russia is the world’s second biggest producer of the metal.
The World Platinum Investment Council outlined the following arguments for platinum’s role as a safe haven investment asset:
– Supply demand fundamentals are strong and ETF holdings are stable, despite price volatility
– Risks of supply declines are underestimated – cost pressure and falling mining investment continue – Downside risks to platinum automotive demand are overestimated
– Futures positioning follows poor sentiment with high correlation to price
– Platinum is undervalued against its past, its production cost and against gold
Palladium climbs on Vauxhall’s woes
Palladium is currently at a 16 year high. There is a major tightening in the supply of palladium because of increased demand for it in engines. 67% of palladium supply is used in car engines to clean exhaust gases from gasoline engines. There is obviously a major push for ‘clean’ transport and the Vauxhall emissions scandal and obviously helped boost demand.
Inventories of palladium supply are down by abut 45% this year, whilst supply trails demand by the most in the seven years.
Despite the increase in supply, there has been a significant number of redemptions in the the two main U.S. and European palladium ETFs – the ETFS Physical Palladium Shares and the ZKB Palladium. By the 22nd August $49 million had been traded in. Supply in the spot market is reportedly so tight that companies are being forced to trade in multiple ETF shares in order to redeem them with the issuer in exchange for physical palladium.
ETFs are now being treated like palladium warehouses.
It is also important to note that, like platinum, palladium is also hugely affected by the sanctions on Russia.
It is also important to note that ETFs are a risky way to invest in precious metals and most investors would be better served owning actual precious metals rather than paper or digital proxies.
Earlier this week we explained how investors shouldn’t always be focused on price. Whilst it is nice to look at the metrics for August and see that all precious metals are up, we should instead focus on why they are up and most importantly the diversification benefits for our portfolios.
Precious metals are largely climbing because the perceived risk in the political and financial system is also climbing. Interestingly many commentators do not feel some risky issues have been wholly appreciated by the markets.
Problems such as North Korea are such serious risks that even someone who pays no attention to markets could spot it. The issue is that you have an overvalued stock market and a US President who cannot get his people together. This means that the US debt ceiling issue might ground the U.S. government to a halt.
These issues are ones which have not yet been fully priced into the markets. They likely will be in the coming months and then the safe haven role of the precious metals and gold in particular will come into its own.
News and Commentary
Gold Prices (LBMA AM)
01 Sep: USD 1,318.40, GBP 1,020.18 & EUR 1,107.98 per ounce
31 Aug: USD 1,305.80, GBP 1,013.17 & EUR 1,098.31 per ounce
30 Aug: USD 1,310.60, GBP 1,014.93 & EUR 1,096.71 per ounce
29 Aug: USD 1,323.40, GBP 1,020.34 & EUR 1,097.36 per ounce
25 Aug: USD 1,287.05, GBP 1,003.90 & EUR 1,090.90 per ounce
24 Aug: USD 1,285.90, GBP 1,003.26 & EUR 1,090.44 per ounce
23 Aug: USD 1,286.45, GBP 1,004.33 & EUR 1,091.68 per ounce
Silver Prices (LBMA)
01 Sep: USD 17.50, GBP 13.53 & EUR 14.69 per ounce
31 Aug: USD 17.34, GBP 13.47 & EUR 14.62 per ounce
30 Aug: USD 17.44, GBP 13.49 & EUR 14.60 per ounce
29 Aug: USD 17.60, GBP 13.59 & EUR 14.62 per ounce
25 Aug: USD 17.02, GBP 13.26 & EUR 14.40 per ounce
24 Aug: USD 16.93, GBP 13.20 & EUR 14.36 per ounce
23 Aug: USD 17.06, GBP 13.32 & EUR 14.48 per ounce
Recent Market Updates
– 4 Reasons Why “Gold Has Entered A New Bull Market” – Schroders
– Gold Reset To $10,000/oz Coming “By January 1, 2018” – Rickards
– Gold Surges 2.6% After Jackson Hole and N. Korean Missile
– Diversify Into Gold On U.S. “Political Instability” Advise Blackrock
– Trump Presidency Is Over – Bannon Is Right
– The Truth About Bundesbank Repatriation of Gold From U.S.
– Cyberwar Risk – Was U.S. Navy Victim Of Hacking?
– Global Financial Crisis 10 Years On: Gold Rises 100% from $650 to $1,300
– Mnuchin: I Assume Fort Knox Gold Is Still There
– Buffett Sees Market Crash Coming? His Cash Speaks Louder Than Words
– Gold, Silver Consolidate On Last Weeks Gains, Palladium Surges 36% YTD To 16 Year High
– Must See Charts – Gold Hedges USD Devaluation, Rise in Oil, Food and Cost of Living Since Nixon Ended Gold Standard
– World’s Largest Hedge Fund Bridgewater Buys $68 Million of Gold ETF In Q2
For your perusal, below are our most popular guides in 2017:
Please share our research with family, friends and colleagues who you think would benefit from being informed by it.
Like 9/11, Hurricane Harvey brought us together.
In awe at the destruction 50 inches of rain did to East Texas and our fourth-largest city and in admiration as cable television showed countless hours of Texans humanely and heroically rescuing and aiding fellow Texans in the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
On display this week was America at her best.
Yet the destruction will not soon be repaired. Nearly a third of Harris County, home to 4.5 million people, was flooded. Beaumont and Port Arthur were swamped with 2 feet of rain and put underwater.
Estimates of the initial cost to the Treasury are north of $100 billion, with some saying the down payment alone will be closer to $200 billion. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the cost of Harvey will exceed that of the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II.
Though the country has appeared united since the storm hit, it is not likely to remain so. Soon, the cameras and correspondents will go home, while the shelters remain full, as tens of thousands of people in those shelters have only destroyed homes to return to.
When the waters recede, the misery of the evacuees left behind will become less tolerable. Then will come the looters and gougers and angry arguments over who’s to blame and who should pay.
They have already begun. Republicans who balked at voting for the bailout billions for Chris Christie’s New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the coast in 2012 are being called hypocrites for asking for swift and massive federal assistance to repair red state Texas.
And whereas George W. Bush soared to 90 percent approval after 9/11, no such surge in support for Donald Trump appears at hand.
Indeed, the sneering and sniping began on his first visit to Texas.
He failed to celebrate the first responders, they said…
He failed to hug any of the victims…
He failed to show empathy…
First lady Melania Trump wore spiked heels boarding Marine One for Texas.
A prediction: The damage done by Harvey — as well as the physical, psychic and political costs — will cause many to echo the slogan of George McGovern in 1972, when he exhorted the country to “come home, America.”
The nation seems more receptive now, for even before Harvey, the media seemed consumed with what ails America.
The New York and D.C. subway systems are crumbling.
Puerto Rico is bankrupt.
Some states, such as Illinois, cannot balance their budgets.
The murder rates are soaring in Baltimore and Chicago.
Congress this month will have to raise the debt ceiling by hundreds of billions and pass a budget with a deficit bloated by the cost of Harvey.
And the foreign crises seem to be coming at us, one after another.
Russia is beginning military maneuvers in the Baltic and Belarus, bordering Poland, with a force estimated by some at 100,000 troops — Vladimir Putin’s response to NATO’s deployment of 4,000 troops to the Baltic States and Poland.
The U.S. is considering sending anti-tank missiles to Kiev. This could reignite the Donbass war and bring Russian intervention, the defeat of the Ukrainian army and calls for U.S. intervention.
In the teeth of Trump’s threat to pour “fire and fury” on North Korea, Kim Jong Un just launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan. Trump’s answer: U.S. B-1Bs make practice bombing runs near the demilitarized zone. Reports from South Korea indicate that Kim may soon conduct a sixth underground test of an atomic bomb.
War in Korea has never seemed so close since Dwight Eisenhower ended the Korean War with an armistice more than 60 years ago.
Despite the opposition of his national security team, Trump is said to be ready to repudiate the Iranian nuclear deal in October, freeing Congress to reimpose the sanctions lifted by the deal.
This would split us from our NATO allies and, if Iran ignored the new U.S. sanctions or began anew to enrich uranium, force Trump’s hand. Is he, are we as a country, ready for another trillion-dollar war, with Iran, which so many inside the Beltway seem so eager to fight?
The U.S. and Turkey have urged Iraq’s Kurds to put off their nonbinding referendum on independence Sept. 25. The vote seems certain to endorse a separate state. A Kurdistan, seceded from Baghdad, would be a magnet for secession-minded Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran, 30 million in all, and present a strategic crisis for the United States.
Along with the steady growth of entitlement spending, the new dollars demanded for defense, the prospect of new wars and the tax cuts the White House supports, Hurricane Harvey should concentrate the mind.
Great as America is, there are limits to our wealth and power, to how many global problems we can solve, to how many wars we can fight and to how many hostile powers we can confront.
The “indispensable nation” is going to have to begin making choices. Indeed, that is among the reasons Trump was elected.
Defined Benefit Pension Plans are, in many cases, a ponzi scheme. Current assets are used to pay current claims in full despite insufficient funding to pay future liabilities… classic Ponzi. But unlike wall street and corporate ponzi schemes no one goes to jail here because the establishment is complicit. Everyone from government officials to union bosses are incentivized to maintain the status quo…public employees get to sleep better at night thinking they have a “retirement plan,” public legislators get to be re-elected by union membership while pretending their states are solvent and union bosses get to keep their jobs while hiding the truth from employees.
So what allows this ponzi to persist? It all comes down to one simple assumption: Discount Rates. You see, if you simply discount future liabilities at a high enough discount rate then you can make any massively underfunded pension ponzi look like a stable, healthy retirement gold mine.
In fact, just over a year ago we took a look at what would happen if we calculated the true underfunded level of America’s public pensions at more reasonable discount rates. The result showed that the media’s highly referenced underfunding of $2 trillion soared to something closer to $5-$8 trillion when more reasonable discount rates were employed.
We decided to take a look at what would happen if all federal, state and local pension plans decided to heed the advice of Mr. Gross. As one might suspect, the results are not pleasant. We conservatively assume that public pensions are currently $2.0 trillion underfunded ($4.5 trillion of assets for $6.5 trillion of liabilities) even though we’ve seen estimates that suggest $3.5 trillion or more might be more appropriate. We then adjusted the return on asset assumption down from the 7.5% used by most pensions to the 4.0% suggested by Mr. Gross and found that true public pension underfunding could be closer to $5.5 trillion, or over 2.5x more than current estimates. Others have suggested that returns should be closer to risk-free rates which would imply an even more draconian $8.4 trillion underfunding.
Now, the state of Minnesota has gracefully stepped forward to beautifully illustrate our point. Upon making a few minor “tweaks” to their various funds’ discount rates, the state found that their aggregate pension underfunding more than tripled from roughly $16 billion to over $50 billion. Here’s more from Bloomberg:
Minnesota’s debt to its workers’ retirement system has soared by $33.4 billion, or $6,000 for every resident, courtesy of accounting rules.
The jump caused the finances of Minnesota’s pensions to erode more than any other state’s last year as accounting standards seek to prevent governments from using overly optimistic assumptions to minimize what they owe public employees decades from now. Because of changes in actuarial math, Minnesota in 2016 reported having just 53 percent of what it needed to cover promised benefits, down from 80 percent a year earlier, transforming it from one of the best funded state systems to the seventh worst, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Minnesota’s teachers’ pension fund, which had $19.4 billion in assets as of June 30, 2016, is expected to go broke in 2052. As a result of the latest rules the pension has started using a rate of 4.7 percent to discount its liabilities, down from the 8 percent used previously. As a result, its liabilities increased by $16.7 billion.
But other factors also helped boost Minnesota’s liabilities: Eight of Minnesota’s nine pensions reduced their assumed rate of return on their investments to 7.5 percent from 7.9 percent, while three began factoring in longer life expectancy.
All of which resulted in this:
Of course, Minnesota’s underfunding didn’t just magically “soar by $33.4 billion” as Bloomberg puts it…in reality, the state’s pensions were always underfunded by ~$50 billion…the only difference is that that some pension administrators finally decided to stop lying to their retirees and report reality.
All of which rendered this Bloomberg map from just two months ago showing an 80% funding ratio for Minnesota completely obsolete…
…Sorry, Minnesota teachers but you’re almost as screwed as your counterparts in Illinois…you just didn’t know it until your bosses finally decided to stop lying to you.
A man named Nash decided to protect his community from looters after Hurricane Harvey left the Houston area vulnerable.
Unfortunately, after a disaster, some people decide it’s the perfect time to steal from others.
This scenario is commonly known in survivalist circles as “without rule of law.”
It means that criminals aren’t concerned about consequences, 911 isn’t an option, and it is every person for themselves. If you aren’t ready to protect yourself, you are likely to become a victim.
You’ll note that the woman who is shooting the video of the man with the shotgun said that even some so-called “rescuers” were stealing from the people who got into their boats to escape their flooded homes.
This is well worth a listen for anyone who wants to be as prepped for the aftermath of a disaster as for the disaster itself. It’s a strong case for what I’ve said for years. Preppers MUST be armed if they want to be truly prepared. (For more stories like this, please subscribe to my daily newsletter.)
I wouldn’t mess with this guy. It’s obvious that he means business. This was a Facebook Live video shot by Tay Mayberry. (Warning: profanity.)
Instructions: Click the arrow at the bottom of the photo below for the video. If you don’t have sound, right click and select “Unmute.” You definitely want to hear this.
(If the video doesn’t work on your device, go here for the original.)
So, let’s be absolutely clear. The residents of the area have no option to call 911. There are no cops who will come and save them. They are absolutely on their own. This is what a “without rule of law” situation is like.
The shotgun-wielding man, identified as “Nash” said, in part:
“If you go back in that store, I’m telling you one time, I’m not scared to shoot you. I’m an ex-f**king SWAT deputy. I will cut your ass in half. Don’t go in that store no goddamn more!
I ain’t got a problem with shooting; I still got a license. Try me if you want! I’m a former law enforcement officer. I still support law enforcement; those that do right.
HPD (Houston Police Department) officers right now in the back of city trucks, all armed with AR-15s gotta go back to the neighborhood that’s still underwater, flooded, and try and protect these people. It don’t make no sense that these guys out here too lazy to get a damn job; the energy they using to rob they didn’t even try to use that energy to rescue people.
If you’re looting, it’s a violation of federal law, it’s a violation of Texas law at the time of a catastrophe.“
Looters can be seen running from the store. Mayberry’s narrative of the video is heartbreaking and gives you a clear picture of the lack of order after a disaster.
When her mother asks Nash if anyone has called 911 for him, Mayberry replies:
911 ain’t gonna come, Mama. 911 is outta there. It’s either martial law or everybody else watch you. 911 ain’t out there. There IS no law.“
“So this is what the hell the news ain’t showing ya’ll. This is what we’re going through on top of this storm. I was scared to call a rescue boat because the people on the rescue boats are rescuing people and then they f**king robbing us ya’ll.
We can’t call rescue boats because they have fake people posing on the rescue boats and when they come to your house they are robbing you in this storm. So you can’t call anybody to rescue you. You literally have to get out yourself.”
“There is no 911. There is no police. There is no law.”
Being prepared for a disaster is only half the battle. To survive, you have to be prepared for what comes after the disaster.