Twenty-Four European Banks Fail EBA Stress Test: Is a Major Banking Crisis Looming?

October 27th, 2014
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The European Banking Authority, in conjunction with the European Central Bank, conducted a stress test of 123 leading banks within the European Union. A total of 24 banks failed the stress tests, which gauges the ability of a bank located within the EU to withstand macroeconomic pressures, which are rapidly accumulating not only in Europe but throughout the global economy. This represents a full 20 percent of all the major banks subjected to the stress test by the EBA and ECB. (http://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/669262/2014+EU-wide+ST-aggregate+results.pdf)

Nine of the banks with failing grades are Italian; three are Greek and another three are Cypriote. Though only one of the banks  on the list of vulnerable banks is Irish (Ireland had previously been afflicted with a major banking crisis, requiring a massive bailout), that institution, Permanent TSB, is one of Ireland’s largest financial institutions. Permanent TSB was found to have a massive €854.8 million hole in its reserves. Overall, the EBA found that the banks surveyed in the stress test were short of 24.6 billion euros in capital reserves–the amount required in their modeling to withstand a three-year recession. This is the equivalent  of 31.17 billion U.S. dollars at current exchange levels.

Since the global economy imploded into systemic crisis in 2008, central banks and regulating authorities in major economies throughout North America and Europe have held periodic stress tests, apparently in an effort to reassure the public in those countries that their banks are in generally good financial condition. There is a suspicion among many that those stress tests are often rigged in a manner designed to present the most favorable indication possible regarding those banking institutions. The fact that this most recent stress tests undertaken by the EBA reveals that 20 percent of the European Union’s major banks are in trouble, and this at a time of economic stagnation throughout Europe, with increasing indications of looming recession, should serve as a warning klaxon on how fragile Europe’s financial health remains a full six years after the onset of the global economic and financial crisis.

 

 

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Global Economy Shows Increasing Signs of Fragility: From Wall Street to Berlin, the Warning Lights are Flashing

October 10th, 2014
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In the past few days the equity markets, in particular the Dow Jones index, have displayed wild gyrations. One day stocks fall sharply, followed by a near equal climb the following day, only to shortly afterwards swing down sharply again. The sentiment-driven swings on the world’s bourses display extreme nervousness  by investors. Increasingly, they are beginning to catch on that the “recovery” was no secular recovery following the  global economic and financial crisis of 2008, but a short-lived stabilization. Now, reality is catching up fast.

For the past few months, there have been indications of stagnation in the world’s fourth largest economy, Germany, which has been the sole force holding together the debt-ridden Eurozone. Now comes the August figures on German exports: a decline of 5.8 percent (http://www.dw.de/german-exports-take-a-deep-dive-in-august/a-17983575), the worst contraction in Germany’s critical export sector since January of 2009, at the worst point of the global economic crisis.

The German export contraction is merely a hint of what is happening globally. Trade growth is slowing, inhibiting the ability of sovereigns to finance their massive structural deficits and cope with record high levels of unemployment. The geopolitical situation is very bad and getting worse, pointing to further erosion in economic confidence. It may be that the global economy is only one major crisis away from another catastrophe, as in 2008. And the sources of that next crisis are everywhere around us: the Islamic State war in the heart of the Middle East; looming tension with Iran over the nuclear issue; border tensions between India and Pakistan;  a territorial dispute in the Far East that pits China against Japan and Vietnam. Then there is the Ukraine crisis, pitting Russia against most of Europe and the United States. On top of the geopolitical flashpoints, there is now the emerging global health crisis involving the Ebola virus. Any one of these flash points can trigger a “Black Swan” event that could plunge all major economies into a severe recession.

While all those negative indicators envelope our world, central banks across the globe are giving increasing signs that sooner rather than later the policy of essentially zero-interest rates will have to be reversed, as the distorting effects  of artificially low rates cannot be maintained in perpetuity. Yet, it has been largely those low rates, in combination with the unleashing of a flood of liquidity, that are largely responsible for the limited economic growth that has occurred since 2008, along with the recovery of the world’s stock markets from their worst losses  incurred during the onset of the crisis.

The mood swings on Wall Street and elsewhere appear to be the tracing of a fiscal and economic electrocardiograph, delineating that not all is well with the global economy, and the warning signals are flashing red. Underlying and reinforcing those fears is the knowledge within the financial community that sovereigns expended so much of their capital in coping with the last worldwide economic crisis, there is little left for policymakers to react with when the next big financial and economic tsunami  strikes the global economy.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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President Obama Wages War on the Islamic State, aka ISIS and ISIL: Anatomy of a Disaster in the Making

October 5th, 2014
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A  full-blooded war in its early stages is now underway, involving two antagonists, the Islamic State led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, known to his followers as Caliph Ibrahim, and the United States of America, led by President Barack Obama. The former, creator of the world’s first Islamic caliphate in nearly a century, is strong-willed, determined, persistent and utterly ruthless. The latter, by contrast, is a reluctant warrior, tentative, incoherent in his understanding and articulation of the threat posed by his nemesis, and prone to missteps. It is the distinction in the capacities of these two leaders far more than the relative military potential of the two opposing actors that will determine the outcome of this potentially epochal struggle. The present trajectory revealed in the leadership style and substance of the President leads me to a pessimistic assessment of this evolving military conflict . The following comprises my diagnosis of why President Obama is leading the United States towards a potentially cataclysmic outcome for his nation:

1. President Obama has consistently underestimated–and misunderstood– his opponent. Hubris is one of the most fatal afflictions that can undermine a national leader engaged in a great struggle. Unfortunately, Obama has time and again demonstrated an inability to accurately gauge his opponent’s capacity.  The intelligence failures and abject unwillingness to comprehend the emerging threat posed by al-Baghdadi and his Islamic State by the President  are already well recognized, such as his reference in January 2014 to the Islamic State as a “JV team.” Recent formulations by the President display continued misconceptions regarding the leader of the Islamic State.

In a nationally televised statement made by President Obama on September 10, 2014 he said, “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/10/statement-president-isil-1) Considering that neither the President nor his principal national security advisors are practicing Muslims, while Abu Bakr a-Baghdadi holds two advanced degrees in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad, including a PhD, it is an astonishing display of naiveté for America’s Commander-in-Chief to engage in a contest on the relative expertise of the two leaders in the field of Islamic jurisprudence and Koranic exegesis. The brutal truth is that the Caliph of the Islamic State has the credentials and expert knowledge to base all of his military decisions on Islamic principles, and that is a defining strength of al-Baghdadi that enables him to inspire his followers to a fanatical religious devotion. The President’s ill-founded characterizations reveals a lack of ability to comprehend the glue that binds together the military prowess that defines the Islamic State. Furthermore, history repeatedly reveals that religion (and rigid secular ideologies)–not only Islam, but all three monotheistic faith traditions–have scriptures and theological precepts that can and have been used to justify the slaying of non-combatants.

By attempting to turn the conflict  that has been initiated by the Islamic State into a contest in defining the true nature of Islam, President Obama arouses contempt and ridicule from the enemy while achieving nothing on the battlefield.

 

2. The Commander-in-Chief is attempting to wage war on the cheap. One gets the impression that President Obama believes he can determine the course of a military conflict by edict. For example, he can decide to withdraw troops from one operational theatre, and declare no ground forces will be deployed to another arena, as though politically-determined polices are a substitute for careful, long-term strategic and operational decision-making. Clearly, Obama hopes to contain the Islamic State through airpower and drones, primarily American but supposedly involving a large coalition of allies.

If massive aerial bombing and the deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops could not defeat the Vietcong during the Vietnam war, what historical parallels is the President turning towards to instill confidence that airpower alone will bring the forces of the caliphate to their knees? As for the military contribution by several NATO and Arab allies, the miniscule number of combat aircraft being offered by these nations is irrelevance in the broader context of the struggle. The farcical nature of this contribution was illustrated by the British Ministry of Defense highlighting the deployment of a mere two aircraft and their subsequent destruction of a single Islamic State Toyota pickup truck as a major “triumph” on the battlefield.

To date, America’s leader and his key allies are thinking small and short-term, while the looming struggle will be massive and enduring. Conducting this warfare through minimalist means will only guarantee a far lengthier and costly struggle with the forces of the Islamic State.

3. President Obama lacks a grand strategic vision for confronting the Islamic State. The President’s external priorities have been all over the map, diluting the ability of the U.S. to comprehensively and effectively confront the challenge being posed by the Islamic State.  While al-Baghdadi was building up strength, training his cadres and formulating his strategy, America’s  foreign policy and national security agenda has been globally dispersed. Obama and his key advisors, in particular John Kerry, were simultaneously retreating from the Middle East while seeking to have the other anti-American Islamic theocracy in the region, Iran, serve as a substitute for protecting U.S. regional interest through concessions on the nuclear issue; devoting massive allocations of time and effort towards “resolving” the Palestinian-Israeli issue when  all the known facts indicated that this was at present a fool’s errand that was also a marginal factor in the continuing disarray  in the region; pivoting towards the Asia-Pacific region in  a manner that signaled that China, America’s principal financial creditor, was being viewed as a future threat; and restarting the Cold War with Russia through miscalculations and ill-advised intervention in the political turmoil in Ukraine.

If the Islamic State was an insignificant threat, perhaps the United States would have the luxury of engaging in multilateral policy endeavors that would add to Washington’s list of adversaries and estranged allies. However, in the kind of contest of wills that the Caliph has unleashed, I don’t think a wise policymaker would characterize the threat being posed as insubstantial. That being the case, a more coherent presidency would be focused on defeating the threat, and building the alliances that would maximize the ability to crush the Islamic State. Russia and China are both viewed as enemies by the Islamic State, along with the United States. Obama should be reaching out to Moscow and Beijing as potential and powerful allies in the war against the Islamic State, rather than engaging in policies that create tension in the relationship with these two counties, while diverting attention and resources away from the confrontation with the Islamic State.

4. Thus far, the President does not appear to fully recognize the nature and scope of the threat being posed to America by al-Baghdadi and his army. In essence, everything that President Obama has said and every decision he has made in connection with the Islamic State reveals that Obama views it as a phenomenon in continuity with the general “War on Terror,” which actually began prior to September 11, 2001. The very conceptualization labeled as the “War on Terror” betrays the strategic disconnect and intellectual vacuum within the decision-making apparatus in Washington. Terror, per se, is a tactical means employed by a hostile entity, and not the entity itself. Obama apparently sees the conflict as one involving a  confrontation with “terrorists” as opposed to a structured entity, the Islamic State, with an army, battlefield commanders, an effective military staff and strong leadership. Furthermore, this structured entity is clearly at war with the United States, and there is no ambiguity or lack of clarity by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his leadership regarding their intentions towards the United States. This is made clear in a propaganda film released by the Islamic State, “Flames of War,” which concludes with a message from the Caliph aimed directly at the American people:

“Finally, this is a message we direct to America. Know, O defender of the cross, that a  proxy war won’t help you  in Sham [Syria] just as it didn’t help you in Iraq. As for the near future, you will be forced into a direct confrontation, with Allah’s permission, despite your reluctance. And the sons of Islam have prepared for this day, so wait and see, for we too are also going to wait and see.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XZ3ovDxhw4&bpctr=1412479968)

The Islamic State wants the United States to once again deploy a large field army in the heart of the Arab world, and will seek to provoke President Obama to undertake what his enemy knows he is reluctant to do. How will they achieve their objective? In all probability, by launching a massive attack on American soil, at the level of September 11, 2001, at a minimum. And why do they seek the return of large ground forces from the U.S. to the Middle East? In the short term, this will aid in their recruitment. Long term, the leadership of IS are convinced that they can wear down the U.S. Army in grinding battles of attrition in urban combat, in the process crippling America militarily and economically.

A President who truly understood the threat facing the nation would not be expending time on the golf course or fundraising expeditions; he would be devoting every waking moment he has available in defending the United States from perhaps its most dangerous enemy since the Second World War.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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European Central Bank Buying Up Eurozone Debt

October 2nd, 2014
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The Eurozone economy is dead in the water, the ill winds of economic recession are blowing and the politicians are dumfounded. Once again, the European Central Bank must step in with radical monetary fixes to cope with the lack of coherent economic and fiscal policy by the sovereigns. With ECB interest rates already at a nominal 0.05 percent–essentially zero interest rate– a  desperate ploy has just been announced.

Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, has made it known that he will now be buying up troubled assets and collateralized debt. The hope is that this will cool off the heat of threatening deflation, while kick-starting the Eurozone economy. If that fails, he will no doubt then resort to quantitative easing.  Stay tuned.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Eurozone Economic Woes Continue

September 26th, 2014
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As with the U.S., the Eurozone has been relying on the monetary drug injected by the central bank to compensate for the failure of politicians to devise and execute effective economic policy. The drug of monetary stimulus can go only so far, and there is a constant stream of data revealing how weak the Eurozone economy is in reality.

The most recent figures from the Markit’s purchasing managers indexes show a decline in the composite average from 52.5 in August to 52.3 September. This is the lowest PMI monthly result since December of 2013.

Other than the increasingly  ineffective policies of the European Central Bank (ECB), and in the absence of economic leadership from the politicians, the sole hope for the Eurozone is the monetary union’s largest economy, Germany. However, the German economy has experienced a slowdown, and the emerging sanctions and economic boycott war with Russia is bound to impose a serious drag on economic growth.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Does the Islamic State (aka ISIS and ISIL)Pose A Threat To America?

September 20th, 2014
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As the Obama administrations engages in an awkward and uncertain recalibration of its policy towards the Middle East since of the emergence of the caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi–the Islamic State–the internal debate amongst the President’s inner circle is being mirrored by pundits on both the Right and the Left. They have vastly different perceptions of the degree of threat the Islamic State poses to the United States, however they share a common disaffection with President Barack Obama’s policymaking.

The rightwing media pundits excoriate Obama as an incompetent in the face of hordes of ISIS jihadists stealthily penetrating the nation’s southern border, aiming to engage in a multitude of attacks against individual Americans. On the other extreme of the ideological divide, liberal media commentators, particularly on one cable news network, seize upon any alarm being sounded by those on the Right as sure evidence of conservative hysteria, clear proof that any claims of a threat being directed at the United States by ISIS are simply wildly exaggerated scare-mongering.

I think they are both wrong.

Neither the Right nor the Left  in America have any credible insights into the strategy, goals and tactical doctrine of the Islamic State. I recall the media response to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s first public appearance at the Great Al-Nuri  Mosque located in the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, soon after its capture by the caliph’s army.  There was universal scorn espoused by mainstream media representing the entire political spectrum, with more attention devoted to what brand of luxury watch al-Baghdadi was wearing on his wrist rather than the content and meaning of the violent and threatening words pouring from his lips. While the public discourse may have adopted a new script since then, it remains characterized by superficiality.

If it is not for the media pundits to diagnose the threat posed by the Islamic State, can America’s intelligence community be relied upon to perform better? The evidence is not reassuring. The most fateful miscalculation the U.S. has made to date in the region has been the invasion of Iraq mounted in 2003–an intervention which, to his credit, Obama opposed at the time–which opened the Pandora’s box that fueled the jihadist movements in the heart of the Middle East. The justification for that disastrous military escapade was based on the premise of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which we now know was a fallacy. What we must remind ourselves of is that the world’s most expensive intelligence community lacked a single credible human source in the nation its military was planning to invade. In 2014 the intelligence picture is no more reassuring. It is likely that the United States has no human sources operating within the inner command structure of the Islamic State. That being the case, the policymakers in Washington, and the ideological media pundits of both the Right and the Left, lack any substantive basis to construct a meaningful threat assessment with respect to the intentions of al-Baghdadi and his caliphate towards the United States.

What we are left with are the words spoken by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul in early July of this year.  There is no ambiguity or subtlety in his message. The creation of the caliphate is not an end in itself, but merely the means to achieving the ultimate end, which is total victory for the religion of Allah–Islam. “So take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State! And fight, fight!,” proclaimed the caliph to his followers, reinforcing his message that the Islamic State’s raison d’être was waging perpetual war and inflicting vengeance against the “unbelievers” until their complete destruction and submission (https://ia902501.us.archive.org/2/items/hym3_22aw/english.pdf).

Though  al-Baghdadi defines the entire non-Islamic world as the enemy, and adds to the list Muslims he views as collaborators with those enemies, in the hierarchy of targets it is the “crusaders,”  primarily represented by the United States and Russia, who are at the top of the hierarchy of  ”unbelievers.” Accordingly, I would infer from his speech the intention of attacking the United States. Furthermore, based on the observable military characteristics of the Islamic State, one can see clear evidence of well conceived strategic planning, effective tactical execution on the battlefield, the ability to think long-term and, most importantly, utter ruthlessness in the infliction of maximum casualties upon its enemies.

I don’t have a crystal ball, however, any serious observer and analyst of the intentions and capabilities of the Islamic State must conclude that their command authority is constantly thinking of ways and means of inflicting maximum damage on the United States, and should they succeed, I fear the consequences would surpass that horrible day of September 11, 2001.

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Japan, World’s Third Largest Economy, Contracts

September 14th, 2014
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In the third quarter of 2014 the Japanese economy lost 1.8 percent of its GDP. This exceeds the growth of 1.5 percent in Q1 of 2014. In other words, for the first half of 2014, on a net basis the overall Japanese economy lost  about half a percent of its annual GDP.

Some commentators have blamed the decline on specific public policy measures,  such  as a large increase in the national sales tax in April, which was implemented to cope with Tokyo’s staggering fiscal deficit and public sector debt. However, it seems more likely that the tax increase sparked the growth in GDP in Q1 as shoppers sought to beat the tax increase, rather than depressing consumer demand in Q2.

On balance, the worse than expected Japanese economic data confirms that Japan remains mired in economic stagnation, despite a multiplicity of stimulus measures enacted by various Japanese governments, and most recently by current Prime Minister  Shinzo Abe, in addition to loose monetary policies adopted by the Bank of Japan. In the meantime, tensions are rising between Japan and its major trading partner, China. That will only worsen the plight of  the Japanese economy.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Can The Islamic State-ISIS-and the Global Jihad Defeat the U.S. ? The Answer Is Yes

August 30th, 2014
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In remarks made before White House journalists on August 28, 2014 President Barack Obama, officially the Commander-in-Chief of the world’s most powerful military, offered his nation the following status of his leadership in the emerging global struggle with the Islamic State. “We don’t have a strategy yet,” so stated President Obama, with a level of reckless candor that is frankly astonishing.

And what about the Commander-in-Chief of the growing jihadi movement  coalescing under the framework of the caliphate that calls itself the Islamic State? The self-appointed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is much too savvy to reveal his grand strategic plan at a public press briefing. However, his public utterances display no ambiguity about his strategic goals and vision: to wage a merciless war of revenge against all the infidels on the planet, the United States  being his number one target. Furthermore, the impressive and swift battlefield successes achieved by the Islamic State over a wide geographic space encompassing  both Syria and Iraq display clear evidence of high-level strategic planning and near-flawless execution. It is unquestionably clear that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, unlike Barack Obama, is not waiting for a strategy to magically be formed; the grand strategy of the Islamic State not only exists; it is being aggressively implemented.

On paper, one could argue, it is inconceivable that the global jihad under the auspices of the Islamic State can defeat the world’s sole remaining superpower. Such rationalization betrays both intellectual conceit and a profound ignorance of history. From the fall of Rome to the Teutonic barbarians to the defeat of the British Empire by American revolutionaries, the historical record is replete with examples of supposedly mightier nations succumbing to numerically and economically inferior opponents on the battlefield. The brutal lesson of history is that very often it is not the side that is more humane and enlightened that prevails. Too often, the inverse is the case, though for reasons only tangentially linked to the display of greater ruthlessness. Strong leadership with a fierce devotion to victory at whatever cost, combined with a high level of strategic and tactical skill, is far more relevant in the martial contest between competing nations and ideologies than the relative level of civilization. Undoubtedly, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is both informed and inspired by what occurred in the century following the death of the Prophet Mohammed; the conquest of the Middle East, Southwest Asia, North Africa and large parts of Southern Europe by Arabian horsemen inspired by an uncompromising religious ideology that offered but one prescription: conquer or die.

With admirable honesty, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel informed the media that, with respect to the Islamic State, “They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. Oh, this is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything.”

Since Hagel’s brutally frank characterization of the threat posed to the United States, administration officials and pundits have awkwardly attempted to walk back the perceived threat, arguing that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is too focused on operations in Iraq and Syria at present to be in a position to begin targeting the U.S. homeland-as though these people actually have a pipeline into the innermost thoughts of the caliph of the Islamic State. In reality, the U.S. intelligence community, and by extension President Obama and his administration, have no clear idea of the threat America confronts, or the military and operational capacity of the Islamic State. While frantic arguing ensues over the supposed threat of jihadists with European and American passports returning home to commit random acts of violence, has anyone in the policymaking echelon considered that a declared enemy of the United States who has already displayed an impressive level of operational skill is more likely to attack the American homeland in a manner that achieves far greater strategic consequences than merely bombing a subway or bus?

Until and unless the U.S. has leadership that is as determined, disciplined and focused as is found in the newly established caliphate, we may find the 21st century being overwhelmed and subjugated by the 7th century.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Eurozone Economy Stalls

August 15th, 2014
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Six years after the onset of the global economic crisis, and despite trillions of euros in added government debt and unprecedented monetary easing by the European Central Bank (ECB), the Eurozone economy is dead in the water. Unemployment remains disastrously high, and the marginal GDP growth  of some of the smaller Eurozone countries was offset by poor data from France and Germany-the two countries comprise two thirds of the Eurozone’s GDP.

Germany’s economic data was especially bad. The largest economy in the monetary union contracted by 0.2 percent  in Q2 of 2014. In the same period, France experienced zero growth, while Italy entered a technical recession. On balance, the debt and money-printing supported economies of Europe stood  at zero GDP growth in the second quarter of 2014. And the worst may be yet to come. The economic sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis has resulted in retaliatory sanctions, which will inevitably hit the Eurozone in Q3 of this year. In addition, there are warning signs of an economic slowdown in China.  There are ill omens ahead for the Eurozone.

 

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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The Final Solution Of The Christian Arab Question In The Middle East

August 8th, 2014
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In 2003, as President George W. Bush  unleashed his invasion of Iraq-based on the false premise of WMDs- for the overarching goal of reengineering the Arab world to conform to Western notions of governance and economics, the Christian community of that ancient Mesopotamian land numbered 1.5 million, representing some 5 percent of the Iraqi population. At present, eleven years after the disastrous American intervention, the Christian community in Mesopotamia has dwindled by more than two thirds. How many remain is hard to estimate; credible figures range from under half a million to as low as 200,000, the latter estimate postulated by The Economist.  How ironic that the most powerful Christian-majority nation on the planet unleashed a series of events in the heart of the Arab world that may see the eventual  extinction of the nearly two-millennia old Christian community in Mesopotamia.

Christianity predates Islam in the Middle East by hundreds of years. With the establishment of the Arab empires following  the death of the Prophet Mohammed, particularly the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, the status of minorities within the Islamic world became  defined as dhimma, an Arabic term defining the granting of a minority religion the right to practice their faith and establish communal institutions, but with restrictions and requirements that enshrined their submission to the Muslim state, including payment of a special tax, referred to in Arabic as the jizya. The dhimma status was granted to Christians and Jews, both peoples recognized as being “people of the book.” Other religious minorities were deprived of any protection, and regarded as pagan heresies.

Despite the rights granted under the dhimma status, the Christians in the Arab world never had an easy existence, even under the best of circumstances. Under the Caliphate of the Ottoman Turks, the plight of the Christians actually worsened. Nearly a century ago, approximately 1.5 million Armenian Christians died during  a massive ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Ottoman Empire during the early period of the First World War-the first genocide of the 20th century.

The period of European colonial rule that followed World War I, which included the creation of artificial, multi-ethnic and religious entities under the Sykes-Picot Agreement,  and subsequent independence of these nations after World War II, allowed a brief period in which Christians in the Arab world could coexist with the Muslim majority in a context where Arab nationalism temporarily transcended religious identity. That is no more.  The radioactive half-life of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq has demolished the thin veneer of secular nationalism that defined the post-World War II Arab Middle East, and opened a Pandora’s box of repressed 7th Century religious fanaticism that may well spell doom for the ancient Christian communities in much of the Arab world.

The recent onslaught of the armies of the Islamic State, under the brutal but militarily effective leadership of its self-appointed caliph, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, has led to the seizure of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The very heart of the Christian communities in Mesopotamia have now fallen under the control of the Islamic State.  The caliphate has made clear its attitude towards the Christians: they are “crusaders,” and therefore Islam’s number one enemy. In Mosul and other towns with substantial Christian  communities, the Islamic State quickly laid down its policy towards these beleaguered people; convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax or be put to death. Initially, they are also being allowed to flee with no more than the clothes on their backs. In short order, even that option will likely be denied them. The largest Christian town in Iraq, Qaraqosh, with a population of 50,000, has now fallen to the Islamic State. Their future is indeed dire.

Most movements that commit large-scale massacres typically keep their blood-soaked deeds secretive. With the Islamic State, the opposite is the case. The caliphate has placed on the Internet a score or more of videos displaying with boastful pride the mass shootings and beheadings of Shiites in Iraq and Alawites in Syria. If this is the manner in which the Islamic State deals with Muslims who don’t follow the Sunni  tradition, can there be any doubt as to the ultimate fate that will befall the Christians of the Arab world who fall under the control of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and his fanatical followers?

A horrific fate awaits the Christians in the Arab world, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Yet, the world is silent. The progressive leftwing has its own ideological agenda, to which the Christians of the Middle East are irrelevant. The two most powerful Christian-majority countries, the United States and Russia, are too distracted by a crisis both nations manufactured over another Christian-majority country, Ukraine, to intervene and prevent the unfolding slaughter.

The first genocide of the  twenty-first century approaches, yet the world displays profound indifference. As we all bear witness to another mass extermination  in human history, it is a scathing reminder that the capacity of the human race to forget the lessons of the past remains daunting.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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