Greece and the Eurozone: Collision Course

June 28th, 2015 Comments off

Negotiations between the Greek government  of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza ruling party on one side, and the IMF and Eurozone creditors of the massive public debt  afflicting Greece on the other side, have collapsed. A collision course is now being pursued between the two opposite sides, a game of fiscal chicken with no discernible good outcome for either side.

With the collapse of talks between Athens and her creditors and the announcement by Tsipras of a pending referendum by the Greek electorate on a bailout deal being offered by the Eurozone and IMF (which Tsipras recommends be rejected), the European Central Bank appears on the verge of ending its liquidity lifeline to Greek banks. If that happens, Greece may close its banks as early as Monday, and impose capital controls. The end result: a Greek exit from the Euro appears more likely, along with the inevitable disruptive ripples that will afflict not only the Eurozone, but the global economy as a whole.

 

 

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Greece: Greek Debt Talks Collapse; Greek Exit From Euro Nears

June 16th, 2015 Comments off

It is high noon in the Eurozone, as talks between Greece and her creditors have collapsed. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was elected on an platform of anti-austerity, and thus  has little room to maneuver. Greece’s creditors in the Eurozone and IMF have  their own limitations on compromising in the austerity required of Athens as the price for more credit to service its massive and unpayable sovereign debt.

We are now at a pint where the can may no longer be kicked down the road. With a debt payment coming due at the end of the month, and the credit required to meet that payment likely to be denied, Greece may very well default on its debt, and be on the way to leaving the Euro monetary union. The impact of such a development, both within the Eurozone and within the broader global economy, may be the pin that punctures the feeble recovery that has barely occurred since the onset of the global economic and financial crisis in 2008.

 

Hillary Clinton is running 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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Hillary Clinton Nude

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Lincoln Chaffee For President Of The United States

June 14th, 2015 Comments off

Amid the media circus sparked by the official launch of the 2016 presidential campaign of celebrity candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, it is easy to forget that there exists another challenger for the Democratic nomination–besides Senator Bernie Sanders. His name is Lincoln Chaffee. He is largely unknown out of his home state of Rhode Island.

About the only thing Chaffee has in common  with Hillary Clinton is that he is also the product of a political dynasty of sorts. His father, John Chaffee, served as governor of Rhode Island, U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Navy during the Nixon administration. After a background working in harness racetracks after college, Lincoln Chaffee followed in his father’s footsteps. He served as the mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island. As a part of the dying breed of moderate Republicans, he won election to the U.S. Senate. When he lost his reelection bid, be successfully won election as governor of Rhode Island, running as an independent; this was the first time an independent candidate won the gubernatorial contest in his state since 1790. After serving one term as governor, Chaffee chose not to run for reelection. He is now a registered Democrat. Recently, he officially announced that he is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/06/03/lincoln-chafee-expected-to-announce-longshot-presidential-bid/ ).

All of the above might seem indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton, or the virtual army of Republican contenders who have either formally announced their candidacies, or are about to do so. That appears to be the existential problem with American presidential politics; it has been reduced to the geometric convergence of resumes shaped by savvy public relations consultants with massive amounts of money–in the 2016 presidential election, the price of attaining the White House will be measured at record billions of dollars.

If, however, the 2016 presidential election were not based on extravagantly-financed PR spin,  but rather on character, courage and basic common sense, Lincoln Chaffee would be the clear frontrunner. One single act in the Senate career of Lincoln Chaffee not only establishes him as the most qualified candidate to serve as America’s next President and Commander-in-Chief; it marks him as one of the very few contemporary U.S. politicians who has displayed the highest level of moral clarity and political courage.

Amid the continuing catastrophe that is the Iraq war that the United States remains  trapped in, despite President Obama’s forlorn attempt to end U.S. involvement through a precipitous and ill-conceived withdrawal of American troops, it is easy to forget how this madness all began. Let us go back to  October 2002, and recall that President George W. Bush did not launch the invasion of Iraq on his own– he required Congressional authorization. A compliant Congress  provided that authorization in the form of a blank check, empowering Bush to initiate his military adventure in the heart of the Middle East whenever he chose, without further consultation with Congress.  We know who voted for the Iraq war . The list of approving senators included Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of 29 Democratic senators who voted in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 45.

There were 49 Republicans in the Senate when SJR 45 came to a vote, of which 48 voted in favor of the war authorization measure. Only one Republican senator had the strength of character and moral integrity to vote against his own party’s president. Lincoln Chaffee, the sole Republican in the Senate to oppose the invasion of Iraq, earned the undying  contempt of many of his fellow Republicans, a factor that undoubtedly led to his eventually changing party affiliations. However, his vote of conscience and rationality should forever earn the gratitude of the American people.

The political dissent Chaffee displayed in the U.S. Senate was not only courageous; it showed a level of sophistication and understanding of international events that is sadly lacking among the current crop of presidential contenders. All who allowed the genies out of the bottle when America invaded Iraq must be held accountable for the calamitous geopolitical results. The Shiite-Sunni civil war raging in the Middle East is a direct result of this geostrategic blunder, the consequences of which will haunt the U.S. for generations to come. To expect Hillary Clinton, a co-architect of this monumental disaster, to somehow contain its horrific aftershocks is to hope for the impossible. Only a political leader who understood from the beginning that launching a war in Iraq was a terrible mistake can inspire confidence in  his ability at finding solutions to contain the metastasizing after-effects.

Most will conclude that however meritorious Lincoln Chaffee’s case for being elected America’s 45th president is, he doesn’t stand a chance, particularly against the Clinton political machine and its vast base of financial support–and that this is a tragedy for Mr. Chaffee. I look at this equation somewhat differently. It is not a tragedy for Lincoln Chaffee, but for America.

 

 

Hillary Clinton is running 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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Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

WALL STREET KILLS-Terrifying Suspense Thriller

June 12th, 2015 Comments off

YouTube Video: Audio excerpt from Chapter One of WALL STREET KILLS, a suspense novel by Sheldon Filger. Click on Image below:

WALL STREET KILLS
Audio book reading from first chapter of WALL STREET KILLS is presented in this video. WALL STREET KILLS is a suspense novel by Sheldon Filger involving high finance, BDSM and celebrity murder (EBook at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E0OUWC?*Version*=1&*entries*=0).Wall Street is the center of global financial power and symbol of greed. How far would Wall Street go in search of profits? Wall Street connives. Wall Street corrupts. And now, Wall Street Kills!

WALL STREET KILLS by Sheldon Filger presents a sinister plot, in which Wall Street tycoons and financiers invest in producing the ultimate snuff movie. A snuff movie is an erotic film in which one of the performers is actually murdered in front of the camera. High finance, political corruption, female celebrity stardom and the dark mystique of BDSM and violent eroticism combine in an explosive cocktail of suspense, intrigue and murder.

In Sheldon Filger’s terrifying novel, a Wall Street tycoon with political ambitions faces financial ruin when his hedge fund company illegally uses client funds on investments that go disastrously wrong. In desperation, he resorts to extreme measures to recoup his losses. The result is an elaborate plot, hatched by a secretive group of Wall Street investors, to kidnap a world famous, beautiful young female celebrity. Their objective: to have her tortured and killed before a live audience, in a choreographed theatrical spectacle which will be broadcast over the Internet in real-time, accessible to anyone with a computer and willingness to pay the viewing fee of one hundred dollars. The ultimate snuff movie performance is being planned, and the investors on Wall Street who have bought into the scheme will stop at nothing to make a killing.

The author of WALL STREET KILLS, Sheldon Filger, is a blogger with the Huffington Post on business, economic and political affairs. His other books include the nuclear terrorism novel KING OF BOMBS, the non-fiction books HILLARY CLINTON 2016 and ISLAMIC STATE AT WAR and a collection of his fine art photography works, NUDE WOMEN:A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY.

WALL STREET KILLS is available as an eBook at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E0OUWC?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

 

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U.S. Economy Nosedived In First Quarter

May 30th, 2015 Comments off

 

The Commerce Department released revised data for the U.S. economy in Q1 of 2015. Instead of the disappointing 0.2 percent contraction, the Commerce Department is now reporting that America’s GDP contracted by a far worse 0.7 percent. This rate of negative growth clearly reveals severe and lingering weaknesses in the nation’s economic health, seven years after the onset of the global economic crisis.

As is usual, the pundits are blaming the weather, a rising dollar, the Greek debt crisis, everything but the kitchen sink. They also promise a strong rebound in Q2. However, what the pundits ignore is that the first quarter also witnessed a severe fall in oil prices, a factor that was predicted to be highly stimulating for the national economy and GDP growth. It seems that fundamental vulnerabilities still  ail the U.S. economy, a reality that simply cannot be ignored or spun away.

 

 

Hillary Clinton is running 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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Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

Islamic State–aka ISIS, ISIL– is Winning its War as President Obama Stumbles

May 26th, 2015 Comments off

Amid the flurry of Obama administration official statements promulgated by its various presidential and departmental spokespersons, reality is setting in. Despite the happy talk from Washington about ISIL (the Obama administration’s preferred acronym for describing the Islamic State), military facts on the ground cannot be eradicated by press briefings and political spin.  The recent and significant victories by the armies of the Islamic State in Palmyra, Syria and Ramadi, Iraq are a clear testament to the undiminished military efficacy and capability of the nascent caliphate.

Last  October I penned a piece in the Huffington Post, “President Obama Wages War on the Islamic State: Anatomy of a Disaster in the Making” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-filger/president-obama-wages-war_b_5933642.html), in which I predicted failure for President Obama in his role of Commander-in-Chief in the evolving military confrontation with the Islamic State and its appointed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. I specifically highlighted four areas I saw as flaws in the President’s approach towards the struggle with the caliphate: 1. Propensity to underestimate the enemy and his capabilities; 2.Overreliance on insufficient means, primarily airpower; 3.Lack of a grand strategic vision, essential for prevailing in the conflict; 4. Intellectually myopic in recognizing the full dimensions of the threat posed to America by the Islamic State.

Regrettably, all the deficiencies I outlined seven months ago remain intact, as evidenced by the recent strategic victories gained by the Islamic State’s military forces in Syria and Iraq. It should be pointed out that the distance between Palmyra in Syria and Ramadi in Iraq is more than 600 kilometers, or nearly 400 miles. The fact that the Islamic State could simultaneously deploy major forces and prevail in those two widely separated battle arenas is concrete evidence to knowledgeable military experts of a highly competent military staff, and a mastery of the operational art of war. The choice of where the Islamic State advances or withdraws also pinpoints the highly strategic nature of the Islamic State’s military operations, which appear geared towards dominance of road networks, essential for controlling the large areas of Syria and Iraq currently claimed by the caliphate.

When America first began its confrontation with militant Islam in the form of al-Qaeda post 9/11, the jihadists were characterized and described as non-state actors. This description is no longer tenable in comprehending the challenge of the Islamic State. This entity may not follow the pattern of a traditional nation-state that participates in the international arena. However, in terms of its structure and the threat it poses, the Islamic State is in fact what it declares itself to be– a state, and one with an army with a skilled general staff, effective logistics and disciplined and highly motivated foot soldiers, able to employ combined arms, including armor and artillery support. Far from the “jayvee team” Barack Obama suggested as a metaphor for the Islamic State in January 2014, this entity has morphed into a most serious and capable military threat, transcending the conventional description of such Islamist phenomena as terrorist non-state actors.

While confusion and disarray reign within the circles of power in Washington, clarity seems to be the defining characteristic of the Islamic State. Despite attempts by U.S. policymakers with no comprehension of the history of Islam to downplay and distort its Islamic credentials, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State’s leadership circles are firmly welded to their historical narrative, which they fully comprehend. Their model is the Prophet Mohammed, who first brought his religious revelation to the Arabian peninsula through the sword. In the century after the Prophet’s death, his companions conquered the largest empire in history up to that time through an unparalleled application of religious fanaticism, combined with innovative military tactics. They were harsh and uncompromising towards the unbelievers, and it is that identical religious zeal that underpins the fierceness and tenacity of the soldiers of the Islamic State.

As the Obama administration gropes for answers to the challenge of the Islamic State, it appears that their new stratagem is to place their hopes in Shiite-dominated Iran, a theocracy that hates America as much as the Islamic State, and which itself is despised by the Sunni Muslim community al-Baghdadi and his caliphate represent. On top of the already monumental mistakes and strategic miscalculations President Obama has been the architect of in addressing the Islamic State, it seems that an even more dangerous error is in the process of being engineered–supporting the anti-American ayatollahs in Tehran as the protector of the Middle East from the Islamic State. I can think of no other policy decision by the Obama administration that would serve the highest hopes and aspirations of the Islamic State so well.

In the ongoing battle between the 21st and 7th centuries, it must be unfortunately concluded that the seventh century is in ascendance.

 

Hillary Clinton is running 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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Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

Large Banks Plead Guilty To Felony Crimes, Senator Elizabeth Warren Reacts

May 21st, 2015 Comments off

In a plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department, five of the largest mega banks have agreed to plead guilty to currency manipulation and rigging interest rates. These are serious crimes of a felony nature, however, not a single banking executive will see the inside of a prison. In a continuation of Obama administration policy, large fines that may impress the public are imposed, though it must be stated that the financial penalties are a fraction of the profits those banks received through their interest rate and currency manipulations, let alone public bailouts and Federal Reserve injections of liquidity at near zero interest rates. Meanwhile, no bankers face individual criminal indictments.

The five banks are: Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS AG.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has become the terror of Wall Street, had this to say about the plea deal agreed to by the Department of Justice: “It’s business as usual, and it stinks. The big banks have been caught red-handed conspiring to manipulate financial markets, and several have even admitted in court that they’re felons, but not a single trader is being held individually accountable, and regulators are stumbling over themselves to exempt the banks from the legally required consequences of their criminal behavior. That’s not accountability for Wall Street.”

 

Hillary Clinton is running 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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Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

U.S. Economy Loses Steam; GDP Growth Stalls

April 30th, 2015 Comments off

Data released by the U.S. Commerce Department reveals that GDP growth in the United States contracted to an almost flat 0.2 percent in Q1 of 2015. This is virtually stall speed, and a sharp contrast to last summer, when officials proclaimed that America’s economy was experiencing sustained high GDP growth.

Typically, the policymakers and government officials will come up with a multitude of explanations for this poor measure of the American economy. No matter the spin, however, this is bad economic news, which surprised the most somber predictions of the experts.

 

 

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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Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

 

Greek Economy Remains a Mess

April 24th, 2015 Comments off

Five years after the onset of the Greek sovereign debt crisis, Greece remains debilitated by economic and fiscal crises.  Out of desperation, the Greek voters elected the left-off-center Syriza Party to head a government that ran on a platform of repudiating the austerity measures imposed on Athens in exchange for loans and debt right-offs from the European Monetary Union members and IMF.

When the Greek debt crisis first arose, there was fear of contagion, leading to massive bailouts for Athens, largely funded by the German taxpayer. Those taxpayers are now fed up, and it would be politically inexpedient for Angela Merkel to go back to the same well to provide further assistance to Greece, especially when its government is openly engaged in anti-German rhetoric.

The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, is basically offering a poison pill to his European partners; we don’t want o leave the Eurozone–but neither do we want to pay the fiscal price of remaining, so save us with more cash, or we’ll blow up the Eurozone. Problem is, more Europeans, especially decision makers in Germany, are becoming increasingly accepting of a Greek exit from the Euro, on the premise that it would not be as bad as Athens thinks for the remaining partners in the Eurozone.

The bottom line is we really do not know how the international markets or global economy will react to a Greek exit, but this is a scenario that is looking a lot more plausible than only one year ago.

 

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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Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Seeks U.S. Presidency–Three Reasons To Say No

April 13th, 2015 Comments off

No better illustration exists of the dysfunctionality of American politics than the phenomenon of Hillary Clinton. Devoid of any measurable accomplishments that have unambiguously advanced the interests of the United States and her people, Mrs. Clinton’s stature as the frontrunner in the upcoming 2016 presidential contest and virtual shoo-in for the Democratic Party’s nomination is predicated entirely on her status as a political celebrity. And those who are utterly objective recognize that this celebrity power that has catapulted Hillary Clinton to within striking distance of the presidency is totally derived from the brand name that comes with being the wife of Bill Clinton. It is simply inconceivable that Hillary Clinton would have embarked on her journey towards the presidency, which began with her election as Senator from New York in November 2000, if her surname had been anything other than Clinton.

 No doubt, millions will discard objectivity, and project their hopes for the future on the public persona of Hillary Clinton, as it will be carefully constructed by professional political strategists and public relations experts, all funded by the billion dollars plus that the Clinton brand will attract through its fundraising apparatus. Those who are more sober and reflective in their political judgments should consider the following three points I raise as reasons to be wary of a second Clinton presidency.

 1. Hillary Clinton plays loose with the truth, and has a record that raises serious ethical questions. The examples I could cite are numerous, but one stands out, because it displays a level of public cynicism that is alarming in any politician. During her unsuccessful 2008 primary contest with then-Senator Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton sought to “prove” her physical courage  by repeatedly claiming in a number of stump speeches that she had braved sniper fire in Tuzla during the war in Bosnia.  As she stated on one occasion (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1582795/Hillary-Clintons-Bosnia-sniper-story-exposed.html), “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

 When news footage emerged clearly showing no sniper fire or even a whiff of threatening activity as Hillary Clinton emerged from her aircraft, it became clear that the aspiring presidential hopeful had flat-out fabricated the story of her heroism under fire out of whole cloth. Caught in a lie, Mrs. Clinton claimed that because she was fatigued from the rigors of a long campaign she had merely “misspoke.” In my view, her oft-repeated epoch of contrived courage was too specific to be a case of misspeaking, but is a clear indication of Hillary Clinton’s capacity for engaging in untruths as a matter of political expediency.

 2. Hillary Clinton was a full partner with her husband in unethical conduct during the presidency of Bill Clinton. A prime example is what happened at the very end of the Clinton presidency, when a series of questionable presidential pardons were granted that were so outrageously incongruent, the whole episode came to be known as “Pardongate.” Among the rogues gallery of pardon recipients courtesy of President Clinton were four convicted swindlers  from the town of New Square in Rockland County, New York. The largely Hassidic community of New Square voted for Hillary Clinton in her 2000 senatorial campaign in overwhelming numbers, at the behest of community leaders. Shortly after her successful senate campaign, Hillary Clinton joined her husband for a private White House meeting with supporters of the convicted New Square swindlers.

 Though she has never revealed what was discussed–or promised–during the closed door meeting, Hillary Clinton maintained that she had no prior knowledge of her husband’s intentions on granting presidential pardons to the four swindlers from New Square. However, the feeling of disgust that arose in the wake of Pardongate became pervasive and non-partisan.  Then a liberal columnist for The New York Times, Bob Herbert wrote in a column published on February 26, 2001 (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/26/opinion/in-america-cut-him-loose.html):

 “You can’t lead a nation if you are ashamed of the leadership of your party. The Clintons are a terminally unethical and vulgar couple, and they’ve betrayed everyone who has ever believed in them.”

 3. As a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton became complicit in America’s disastrous war in Iraq. The most important vote Hillary Clinton cast during her two terms as United States senator from New York was undoubtedly Senate Joint Resolution 45, which authorized President George W. Bush to unleash military force against Iraq at any time, without further consultation with Congress, let alone a declaration of war.  The disastrous impact of that hideous example of strategic miscalculation is still with us, witnessed by the tectonic convulsions ripping the Arab world, and the rise of the Islamic State, which emerged out of the caldron created by the U.S. invasion of  Iraq in 2003.

 At the time of her vote in favor of instigating America’s war in Iraq, Hillary Clinton boasted that her decision was based on “careful consideration.” If this calamitous decision is the best that Hillary Clinton is capable of, that alone should raise serious questions about her suitability to serve as America’s Commander-in-Chief.

 During the 2002 vote on authorizing military force in Iraq, only one Republican senator had the courage and insight to vote against President Bush’s rush to war. He was Senator Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island. Chaffee is now a Democrat, and is seriously considering challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. This is what Lincoln Chaffee had to say to MSNBC’s  Lawrence O’Donnell about Hillary Clinton and why her vote in support of the Iraq war should preclude her from becoming the next U.S. President(http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/04/10/republican_turned_democrat_lincoln_chafee_hillary_disqualified_from_running_for_president_by_supporting_iraq_war.html):

 ” It’s relevant to what we read about every day in the papers in the Middle East and other areas of the world. ISIS and what’s happening in Nigeria and how we confront some of these extremist insurgencies… Even though it’s a long time ago, back in 2002, the ramifications are still felt today.”

 In 2008, support of the Iraq war was the key ingredient that led to Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Barack Obama. However, as 2016 approaches, collective amnesia clouds much of America’s political landscape. Hillary Clinton’s vote in support of a calamitous military adventure, along with past ethical indiscretions by both she and Bill Clinton, are largely discounted by large sections of the voting public, who now view the Clintons with benign nostalgia. If this force of celebrity star-power and selective memory proves impervious to objective scrutiny and enlightened skepticism, than Hillary Clinton may very well win the next presidential election. In that case, the loser will be America, condemned to repeat the antics and machinations from a political pair that Bob Herbert rightly characterized as a “terminally unethical and vulgar couple.”

 

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:

 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW VIDEO

Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude