Pope Francis holds special Jubilee Mass for prisoners

Pope Francis holds special Jubilee Mass for prisoners (Source Associated Press)

Pope Francis held a special Jubilee Mass for prisoners in St. Peter’s Basilica, telling them that all people “have made mistakes” and urging them to never give up hope in God’s mercy.

He later urged political leaders across the world to respect the dignity of inmates and offer them amnesty whenever possible.

Wearing green robes and a white skull cap, Francis stood before a congregation made up of some 1,000 prisoners from 12 countries and their families, as well as prison chaplains and volunteers. The event was part of the Vatican’s Holy Year of Mercy, which comes to an end later this month.

“Today we celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy for you and with you, our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned,” he told them. He said while breaking the law involves paying the price, “hope must never falter.”

“Sometimes, a certain hypocrisy leads to people considering you only as wrongdoers, for whom prison is the sole answer,” Francis said in his homily. “We don’t think about the possibility that people can change their lives. We put little trust in rehabilitation … into society. But in this way we forget that we are all sinners and often, without being aware of it, we too are prisoners.”

Francis has made it a mission of his papacy to encourage greater compassion for the world’s most vulnerable people, including the poor, the sick, the elderly, migrants and prisoners. He has also urged governments to consider granting a Holy Year amnesty to prisoners, to find alternatives to incarceration and, at the very least, to abolish the death penalty.

He repeated this appeal during his weekly Angelus blessing, calling on political authorities “of each country” to improve prison conditions, favor policies that help offenders return to society and offer them clemency whenever possible.


6.9-magnitude earthquake strikes off Japan

6.9-magnitude earthquake strikes off Japan (Source CNN)

A tsunami warning is in effect for Japan’s Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Honshu just before 6.00 a.m. Tuesday (4.00 p.m. Monday ET).

Japanese authorities urged residents in those northeast coastal areas to leave immediately for higher ground and not return until warnings had been lifted. The earthquake struck in the same area as the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011 — one of the worst ever to hit Japan — which killed more than 20,000 people and triggered a meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Tuesday’s quake struck 37 kilometers (23 miles) east-southeast of Namie at a depth of 11.4 kilometers (7 miles). Four aftershocks of at least magnitude 4.8 were recorded within one hour of the initial quake

The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends

The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends(Source sfgate.com)

Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else – the Arctic.

It’s polar night there now – the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed to grow and thicken.

But in fall 2016 – which has been a zany year for the region, with multiple records set for low levels of monthly sea ice – something is totally off. The Arctic is superhot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia. At the same time, one of the key indicators of the state of the Arctic – the extent of sea ice covering the polar ocean – is at a record low right now. The ice is freezing up again, as it always does this time of year after reaching its September low, but it isn’t doing so as rapidly as usual. In fact, the ice’s area is even lower than it was during the record-low 2012.

Twitter’s expert Arctic watchers are stunned. Zack Labe, a PhD student at the University of California at Irvine who studies the Arctic, tweeted out an image on Wednesday from the Danish Meteorological Institute showing Arctic temperatures about 20 degrees Celsius higher than normal above 80 degrees North Latitude.

“Today’s latest #Arctic mean temperature continues to move the wrong direction … up. Quite an anomalous spike!,” Labe wrote.

“Despite onset of #PolarNight, temperatures near #NorthPole increasing. Extraordinary situation right now in #Arctic, w/record low #seaice,” added Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA.

This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels. During 2015’s final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a massive storm that pumped warm air into the region.

So what’s going on here?

“It’s about 20C (36 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email.

“The Arctic warmth is the result of a combination of record-low sea-ice extent for this time of year, probably very thin ice, and plenty of warm/moist air from lower latitudes being driven northward by a very wavy jet stream.”

Francis has published research suggesting that the jet stream, which travels from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-latitudes, is becoming more wavy and elongated as the Arctic warms faster than the equator does.

“It will be fascinating to see if the stratospheric polar vortex continues to be as weak as it is now, which favors a negative Arctic Oscillation and probably a cold mid/late winter to continue over central and eastern Asia and eastern North America. The extreme behavior of the Arctic in 2016 seems to be in no hurry to quit,” Francis continued.

Mark Serreze, who heads the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, agrees that something odd is going on. Not only are air temperatures unusually warm, but water temperatures are as well. “There’s some areas in the Arctic ocean that are as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit above average now,” Serreze said. “It’s pretty crazy.” What’s happening, he explains, is sort of a “double whammy.” On the one hand, there is a “very warm underlying ocean” due to the lack of sea ice forming above it. But, at the same time, kinks in the jet stream have allowed warm air to flow northward and frigid Arctic air to descend over Siberia. “The sea ice is at a record low right now, for this time of year, that’s one thing,” Serreze said. “And why it’s so low – again, there’s so much heat in the upper ocean in these ice free areas, the ice just can’t form right now. The ocean’s just got to get rid of this heat somehow, and it’s having a hard time doing so.”


80% Stock Market Crash to Strike in 2017

80% Stock Market Crash To Strike in 2017, Economist Warns(Source thesovereigninvestor.com)

Several noted economists and distinguished investors are warning of a stock market crash. Jim Rogers, who founded the Quantum Fund with George Soros, went apocalyptic when he said, “A $68 trillion ‘Biblical’ collapse is poised to wipe out millions of Americans.”

Mark Faber, Dr. Doom himself, recently told CNBC that “investors are on the Titanic” and stocks are about to “endure a gut-wrenching drop that would rival the greatest crashes in stock market history.”

And the prophetic economist Andrew Smithers warns, “U.S. stocks are now about 80% overvalued.” Smithers backs up his prediction using a ratio which proves that the only time in history stocks were this risky was 1929 and 1999. And we all know what happened next. Stocks fell by 89% and 50%, respectively.

Even the Royal Bank of Scotland says the markets are flashing stress alerts akin to the 2008 crisis. They told their clients to “Sell Everything” because “in a crowded hall, the exit doors are small.”

Blue chip stocks like Apple, Microsoft, and IBM will plunge.

But there is one distinct warning that should send chills down your spine … that of James Dale Davidson. Davidson is the famed economist who correctly predicted the collapse of 1999 and 2007.

Davidson now warns, “There are three key economic indicators screaming SELL. Davidson predicts the stock market will sink 50%, real estate will plummet over 40%, savings accounts will lose 30% of their value, and unemployment will triple.

Economic indicators don’t imply that a 50% collapse is looming – it’s already at our doorstep.” And if Davidson calls for a 50% market correction, one should pay heed.

Russian Lawmaker: New Missiles in Kaliningrad Are Answer to US shield

Russian Lawmaker: New Missiles in Kaliningrad Are Answer to US Shield (Source newsmax.com)

Moscow will deploy S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander systems in Kaliningrad in retaliation for NATO deployments, a senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker was quoted as saying on Monday.

Russia has previously said it periodically sends Iskanders to Kaliningrad, but until now it has said these were routine drills. Moscow has not linked the moves explicitly with what it says is a NATO military build-up on Russia’s western borders.

After the election as U.S. president of Donald Trump, who has said he wants closer ties with the Kremlin and has questioned the cost of protecting NATO allies, some analysts predict an emboldened Moscow could become more assertive in eastern Europe.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said in remarks reported by RIA news agency that Russia was forced to react to the planned U.S. missile shield in eastern Europe.

“As response measures to such threats we will have… to deploy additional forces… This reinforcement includes deployment of S-400 and Iskander systems in Kaliningrad,” the agency quoted Ozerov as saying.

The defense ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Ozerov’s remarks.

Also on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted talking about how Russia has to respond to what it perceives as a threat from U.S.-led forces in eastern Europe.

“Why are we reacting to NATO expansion so emotionally? We are concerned by NATO’s decision making,” RIA quoted him as saying in an interview for a documentary that will be broadcast by Russian TV later on Monday.

“What should we do? We have, therefore, to take countermeasures, which means to target with our missile systems the facilities, that, in our opinion, start posing a threat to us,” Putin said.


WAR On Cash Intensifies: Citibank to Stop Accepting Cash as at some branches

WAR ON CASH INTENSIFIES: CITIBANK TO STOP ACCEPTING CASH AT SOME BRANCHES(Source globalresearh.ca)Less than a week after India’s surprise move to scrap its highest denomination cash notes, another front in the War on Cash has intensified down under in Australia.
banking giant UBS proposed that eliminating Australia’s $100 and $50 bills would be “good for the economy and good for the banks.”

Most notably, Citibank (yes, THAT Citibank) announced that it was going cashless at some of its Australian branches.
The media and political establishments have chimed in as well.
In February of this year, the Sydney Morning Herald released a series of articles, some of which were written by officials from Australia’s Department of the Treasury, suggesting that eliminating cash will “save billions”, and that  “moving to a cashless society is the next step for the Australian dollar”.

Governments would benefit from a cashless society because all savings would be in the banking system, and they have full regulatory control over the banks. This means that your politicians would have more control over your savings and fewer obstacles to impose capital controls or engage in Civil Asset Forfeiture.
Everyone benefits from a cashless society… except for you.
For individuals, cash still has plenty of important advantages.
Cash is one of the few remaining options for financial privacy that doesn’t create a permanent record of every purchase or transaction you make. It’s also an easy way to reduce your exposure to risks in the broader financial system. Think about it– the banking system is full of institutions that never miss an opportunity to demonstrate they cannot be trusted with our money. Cash is a pitiful store of value over the long-term. Precious metals and other real assets are much better alternatives. But we still can’t walk into Starbucks and pay for a cup of coffee with a quarter-ounce silver coin.
So until that day comes, cash remains an asset that you’ll want to hold. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. The War on Cash is very real. So if you have more than a couple of months worth of living expenses, you’re taking on unnecessary risk. Also, keep the denominations low. As the case with India shows, governments have no compunction about violating the public trust with immediate effect and without warning. So if you’re in the US, don’t keep a mountain of $100 bills in your safe. Keep 10s, 20s, and 50s. If you’re in Europe, definitely avoid the 500 and 200 euro notes, opt for 20s and 50s.


The Pressing Problem Nobody Dares Discuss

THE PRESSING PROBLEM NOBODY DARES DISCUSS(Source blacklistednews.com) One of the key takeaways from historian Peter Turchin’s new book Ages of Discord is that real wages stagnate or decline in periods of labor oversupply and rise in periods of labor shortages.

This is common sense: the price/value of everything is ultimately set by the dynamics of supply and demand: the price/value of anything that is overly abundant drops. Or put another way: if demand is outstripped by supply, prices decline as long as there is surplus supply. If we set aside the many emotions generated by immigration and just consider statistics, we find that the U.S. added almost 14 million new immigrants in the decade 2000-2010. A Record-Setting Decade of Immigration: 2000-2010. In periods of strong job growth, demand from employers is high enough to absorb the added supply of labor from native population growth and immigration. In periods of stagnant job growth, immigration adds to the oversupply of native labor from population expansion.

Common sense suggests high immigration becomes an economic issue when job growth no longer absorbs net native population expansion and the influx of immigrants. The fourth dynamic generating labor supply/demand imbalances is automation. Though automation has been a dynamic force reducing the demand for human labor for hundreds of years, the pace has increased as software and robotics are now increasingly replacing higher-skill workers.

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

As software eats the world, it eats higher-level skills that were once immune to automation. This means that the strategy that worked for 200 years–moving up the skill-value chain to tasks that could not be profitably automated–no longer works.

Over 90 million adults (out of a total population of 317 million) are counted as “not in the labor force,” i.e. not working or seeking work due to disability, being in school, domestic duties, early retirement, etc. The percentage of the population working or seeking work has fallen significantly. There is a basic structural problem with supporting 100+ million non-employed adults. The economy has to be productive and profitable enough to support this vast populace without relying on debt, which is as we all know borrowing from future workers and taxpayers to fund consumption today. Given the vast expansion of public and private debt since 2008, it’s clear that we are not supporting the populace out of cash flow, so to speak; we’re borrowing trillions of dollars from future workers/ taxpayers to generate the temporary illusion of solvency.

Europe at risk of collapse: France, Germany must lead-French PM

Europe at risk of collapse; France, Germany must lead – French PM

(Source Reuters) The European Union is in danger of breaking apart unless France and Germany, in particular, work harder to stimulate growth and employment and heed citizens’ concerns, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in the German capital on Thursday.

Valls said the two countries, for decades the axis around which the EU revolved, had to help refocus the bloc to tackle an immigration crisis, a lack of solidarity between member states, Britain’s looming exit, and terrorism. “Europe is in danger of falling apart,” Valls said. “So Germany and France have a huge responsibility.”

He said France must continue to open up its economy, not least by cutting corporate taxation, while Germany and the EU as a whole must increase investment that would stimulate growth and job creation, as well as boosting defense. As Britain seeks to negotiate its post-Brexit relationship with the EU, hoping to restrict immigration from the EU while maintaining as much access as possible to the EU single market, Valls said it must be prevented from cherry-picking.

“If they are able to have all the advantages of Europe without the inconveniences, then we are opening a window for others to leave the European Union,” Valls said.

Immigration was one of the main drivers of Britons’ vote to leave the EU, and Valls said the bloc, which more than a million migrants entered last year, had to regain control of its borders.

He said the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election victory showed how important it was to listen to angry citizens, and that politicians scared of making decisions were opening the door to populists and demagogues.


China Warns Trump about Starting ‘Trade Wars

China Warns Trump About Starting ‘Trade Wars’(Source thedailybeast.com) Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need for cooperation between China and the U.S. in a phone call with President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday night. The conversation came after Trump spent much of the presidential campaign talking big about how he’d hit China with a 45 percent tariff on imported goods and take on Beijing for currency manipulations. Xi, apparently unfazed, told Trump that cooperation between the two countries was the only choice, according to Chinese state television. “The two sides must strengthen coordination, promote the two countries’ economic development and global economic growth, expand all areas of exchange and cooperation, ensure the two countries’ people obtain more tangible benefits, and push for better development going forward in China-U.S. relations,” Xi was cited as saying by Reuters. Trump reportedly responded by telling Xi he was open to cooperation and that the two sides can “definitely achieve greater development.” The state-run Global Times newspaper additionally warned Trump that should he begin such trade wars with China, “A batch of Boeing orders will be replaced by Airbus. U.S. auto and iPhone sales in China will suffer a setback, and U.S. soybean and maize imports will be halted. China can also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S.”

Kellyanne Conway on Fox: ‘Gravy Train Is about to have its wheels blown

Kellyanne Conway on Fox: ‘Gravy Train Is About to Have Its Wheels Blown Off(Source observer.com) Women who want safe and legal abortions might have to go to a different state, President-elect Donald Trump said, after his version of the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. “The judges will be pro-life,” Trump said on a 60 Minutes interview that was broadcast on CBS Sunday, but was recorded on Friday. If they overturn Roe, Trump said, each state would decide on its own. And what about the 11 million undocumented immigrants Trump pledged to deport during his successful campaign against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton?

“They’re terrific people,” Trump told interviewer Leslie Stahl—except, of course, for the two or three million undocumented criminals, gang members and drug dealers Trump pledged to deport.

So, what about the others, those “terrific people” without legal status?

“We’re going to make a determination,” Trump said.

The interview was recorded before Trump named Reince Priebus his White House chief of staff and Steve Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor. Priebus is the chair of the Republican National Committee and is close to Congressman Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite who is Speaker of the House. Bannon, chief executive officer of the campaign, used to run the website Breitbart, an extreme right-wing “news” source. Bannon is close to the racists and anti-Semites who fuel the web site’s energy and helped give Trump’s campaign its unique personality. Trump didn’t comment about these appointees on 60 Minutes, but Stahl more than once asked him about Hispanics, Muslims and African-Americans who, she said, are terrified by Trump’s election last Tuesday. Many of them have been demonstrating against Trump in the streets of major American cities.