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Report: Israel arrested 522 Palestinians in August

September 13, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Israeli authorities arrested some 522 Palestinians in August, Palestinian prisoners’ affairs organisations and rights groups announced today. A joint report issued today by the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs (CDA), revealed that most of the Israeli arrests took place in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian detainees, who were arrested last month, include 130 minors and 16 women, the report added. Read More: Jerusalem delegation to Britain raises the plight of Palestinians On the number of administrative detainees, the report pointed out that Israel has issued about 134 administrative orders, 61 of which were new and 73 […]

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De-Dollarization Spikes – Venezuela Stops Accepting Dollars For Oil Payments

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Did the doomsday clock on the petrodollar (and implicitly US hegemony) just tick one more minute closer to midnight?

Source: The Burning Platform

Apparently confirming what President Maduro had warned following the recent US sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuela has officially stopped accepting US Dollars as payment for its crude oil exports.

As we previously noted, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said last Thursday that Venezuela will be looking to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week. According to Reuters,

“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.” He reportedly did not provide details of this new proposal.

Maduro hinted further that the South American country would look to using the yuan instead, among other currencies.

“If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro also said.

*  *  *

And today, as The Wall Street Journal reports, in an effort to circumvent U.S. sanctions, Venezuela is telling oil traders that it will no longer receive or send payments in dollars, people familiar with the new policy said.

Oil traders who export Venezuelan crude or import oil products into the country have begun converting their invoices to euros.

 

The state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, has told its private joint venture partners to open accounts in euros and to convert existing cash holdings into Europe’s main currency, said one project partner.

 

The new payment policy hasn’t been publicly announced, but Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who has been blacklisted by the U.S., said Friday, “To fight against the economic blockade there will be a basket of currencies to liberate us from the dollar.

There is no major market reaction for now – a modest bid to Bitcoin and some weakness in EUR and Gold (seems someone wants this to look like nothing).

However, as Nomura debt analyst Siobhan Morden warns:

“You can say whatever you want for your domestic propaganda and make it look like you’re retaliating against the U.S…. This political posturing will only be to their detriment.”

So what happens if Europe also sanctions Venezuela? Will Rubles or Yuan… or Gold be the only way to buy Venezuela’s oil?

*  *  *

This decision by the nation with the world’s largest proven oil reserves comes just days after China and Russia unveiled the latest Oil/Yuan/Gold triad at the latest BRICS conference.

It’s when President Putin starts talking that the BRICS reveal their true bombshell. Geopolitically and geo-economically, Putin’s emphasis is on a “fair multipolar world”, and “against protectionism and new barriers in global trade.” The message is straight to the point.

“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

“To overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies” is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar.

Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan and convertible into gold.

This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan.

Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed.

RC – via the Russian Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China – have been developing ruble-yuan swaps for quite a while now.

Once that moves beyond the BRICS to aspiring “BRICS Plus” members and then all across the Global South, Washington’s reaction is bound to be nuclear (hopefully, not literally).

Washington’s strategic doctrine rules RC should not be allowed by any means to be preponderant along the Eurasian landmass. Yet what the BRICS have in store geo-economically does not concern only Eurasia – but the whole Global South.

Sections of the War Party in Washington bent on instrumentalizing  India against China – or against RC – may be in for a rude awakening. As much as the BRICS may be currently facing varied waves of economic turmoil, the daring long-term road map, way beyond the Xiamen Declaration, is very much in place.

*  *  *

Having threatened China today with exclusion from SWIFT, we suspect Washington is rapidly running out of any great ally to sustain the petrodollar-driven hegemony (and implicitly its war machine). Cue the calls for a Venezuelan invasion in 3…2..1…!

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Discovery Of Another Democratic “Secret Server” May Have Prompted Imran Awan’s Firing, Report

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The mysterious case of Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s now indicted former IT staffer, continues to grow more interesting by the day.  As we’ve noted before, Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, have so far only been charged with bank fraud and conspiracy though new allegations of wrongdoing seemingly surface on a daily basis. 

Now, the latest revelation comes via an exclusive report from The Daily Caller which suggests that Awan may have been fired only after Capitol Police discovered a “secret server” being housed by the House Democratic Caucus.

A secret server is behind law enforcement’s decision to ban a former IT aide to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the House network.

 

Now-indicted former congressional IT aide Imran Awan allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server. Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations. The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network Feb. 2, according to a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

 

The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.

 

Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.

 

Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.

DWS

 

According to the DC, the “secret server” was discovered when California Congressman, and chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Xavier Becerra asked to have his server wiped clean (you know, like with a cloth) in advance of his departure to take his new seat as Attorney General of California.

On Jan. 24, 2017, Becerra vacated his congressional seat to become California’s attorney general. “He wanted to wipe his server, and we brought to his attention it was under investigation. The light-off was we asked for an image of the server, and they deliberately turned over a fake server,” the senior official said.

 

“They were using the House Democratic Caucus as their central service warehouse … It was a breach. The data was completely out of [the members’] possession. Does it mean it was sold to the Russians? I don’t know,” the senior official said.

 

Capitol Police considered the image a sign that the Awans knew exactly what they were doing and were going to great lengths to try to cover it up, the senior official said. The House Sergeant-at-Arms banned them from the network as a result.

 

The senior official said the data was also funneled offsite via a Dropbox account, from which copies could easily be downloaded. Authorities could not immediately shut down the account when the Awans were banned from the network because it was not an official account.

 

“For members to say their data was not compromised is simply inaccurate. They had access to all the data including all emails. Imran Awan is the walking example of an insider threat, a criminal actor who had access to everything,” the senior official said.

Meanwhile, these latest allegations come after Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) appeared on Fox News yesterday to share his prediction that the Awans could be working on a broader immunity deal with prosecutors in return for a “significant” and “pretty disturbing” story about Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“I don’t want to talk out of school here but I think you’re going to see some revelations that are going to be pretty profound.  The fact that this wife is coming back from Pakistan and is willing to face charges, as it were, I think there is a good chance she is going to reach some type of immunity to tell a larger story here that is going to be pretty disturbing to the American people.”

 

“I would just predict that this is going to be a very significant story and people should fasten their seat belts on this one.”

 

This all follows speculation that surfaced last week suggesting that even if the Awans were originally acting to protect/extort Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that may have all changed on April 6, 2017 when Imran seemingly led U.S. Capitol Police directly to her laptop.  Per The Daily Caller:

A laptop that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has frantically fought to keep prosecutors from examining may have been planted for police to find by her since-indicted staffer, Imran Awan, along with a letter to the U.S. Attorney.

 

U.S. Capitol Police found the laptop after midnight April 6, 2017, in a tiny room that formerly served as a phone booth in the Rayburn House Office Building, according to a Capitol Police report reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group. Alongside the laptop were a Pakistani ID card, copies of Awan’s driver’s license and congressional ID badge, and letters to the U.S. attorney. Police also found notes in a composition notebook marked “attorney-client privilege.”

 

The laptop had the username “RepDWS,” even though the Florida Democrat and former Democratic National Committee chairman previously said it was Awan’s computer and that she had never even seen it.

 

The laptop was found on the second floor of the Rayburn building — a place Awan would have had no reason to go because Wasserman Schultz’s office is in the Longworth building and the other members who employed him had fired him.

Of course, we’re certain this is just more attempts to “criminalize behavior that is normal.”

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Cord-Cutting Accelerates, Sends Shock Wave Across Traditional TV

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

By Stock Board Asset

According to eMarketer, digital video consumption is on the rise leading to a seismic shift in the industry. Traditional TV viewers are expected to shrink nearly 10% by 2021 with the expectation of a sharp decrease of total media ad spending upwards of -30% reduction. Even in 2017, the trend is accelerating with eMarketer expecting a slowdown in ad spending, after 2016 benefited from the Olympics and U.S. presidential election.

As eMarketer explains, traditional TV advertising is slowing even more than expected as viewers cut cable and transition to digital video platforms. The estimates for ‘cord-cutters’ is expected to explode this year through 2021. The timeframe provided could explain cable-apocalypse is here. Per eMarketer,

In fact, by 2021, the number of cord-cutters will nearly equal the number of people who have never had pay TV (“cord-nevers”).

 

This year, there will be 22.2 million cord-cutters ages 18 and older, a figure up 33.2% over 2016. The overall tally is much higher than the 15.4 million eMarketer previously predicted. Meanwhile, the number of US adult cord-nevers will grow 5.8% this year to 34.4 million.

“Younger audiences continue to switch to either exclusively watching Over-The-Top video or watching them in combination with free TV options,” said Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “Last year, even the Olympics and presidential elections could not prevent younger audiences from abandoning pay TV.”

The hemorrhaging of traditional TV viewers will only accelerate. Overall, there are 196.3 million Americans that watch traditional TV, down 2.4% over 2016. By 2021, Emarketer thinks the total will fall nearly 10% compared to five years earlier. TV views over the age of 55 will continue to watch conventional TV, because that is tradition in their generation. The cord-cutting revolution is mainly impacting younger generations, as the old system is dismantled and the new system is ushered in.

Who are these disrupting digital streaming video services?

Back in August, WPP, the world’s largest advertising company cut full-year revenue forecasts and offered “terrible guidance”, which sent shares lower -13%.  Goldman Sachs reports:

  • Results confirm weak trends seen across advertising companies/TV, with ad spending cuts in fast-moving consumer goods being the common driver
  • Key question whether pick-up in organic growth from 2H is credible
  • Goldman sees new organic growth guidance as “achievable,” based on comments by several consumer goods companies on higher ad spending in 2H, easier comparables, recent improvement in WPP’s new business performance

Paul Verna, a principle analyst at eMarketer listed several factors in the acceleration of cord-cutting trend:

  • First, traditional pay TV operators are increasingly developing streaming platforms, such as Dish Network’s Sling TV.
  • Second, networks such as HBO and ESPN have launched standalone subscription services that allow users to tap those channels without a cable subscription.
  • Third, digital players like Hulu and YouTube are now delivering live TV channels over the internet at reasonable prices—including sports properties that were previously available only through traditional distribution.”

Average time spent per day with video by US Adults, by device, 2015-2017

While the end of legacy cable may not be here, it is approaching. America is currently in a transitional period and is increasingly gravitating to the cheapest possible option away from cable, and unless cable providers drastically change their cost structure and pivot their business models, the revolution in America’s viewership habits will be televized for all to see.

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Shkreli Going To Jail After Judge Revokes Bail

September 13, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

“The most hated man in America” is going to prison over a joke.

Late Wednesday, Brooklyn Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ordered that former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli’s bail be revoked after prosecutors claimed that a Facebook post published by Shkreli on Sept. 4 was tantamount to an invitation to assault on Hillary Clinton during her upcoming book tour. In a letter demanding a bail hearing, the former hedge fund manager was described as a “threat to the community.”

Matsumoto, who presided over Shkreli’s trial which resulted in convictions on three out of eight counts of wire and securities fraud, said she would not be swayed by the defense’s argument that the post was a harmless joke and that Shkreli didn’t intend to harm anybody. Instead, the Judge revoked Shkreli’s $5 million bail and ordered him directly remanded to jail pending his sentencing, according to the Daily News. No date has been set for his sentencing.

Shkreli told the judge, prosecutors and secret service agents who asked to interview him about the post that it was intended as satire. In the original post, Shkreli offered $5,000 for a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair, claiming that he would have a DNA analysis done to confirm “that the Clinton Foundation is willing to KILL to protect its secrets.”

See the post in question below:

 

 

Since being unceremoniously thrust into the public eye in late 2015 when he was labeled “the most hated man in the world” after his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, hiked the price of Daraprim, a drug that treats toxoplasmosis, by 5,000%, Shkreli has made a habit of publicly antagonizing lawmakers, prosecutors and judges. True to form, Shkreli took to Facebook to blast prosecutors immediately after the hearing.

Notably, Shkreli is being thrown in jail one day before the close of Shkreli’s auction of the only copy of the Wu-Tang Clan “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” which he purchased for $2 million in 2015. Bidding has topped out at $1 million in recent days.

In their initial request, prosecutors tried to paint Shkreli as a serial harasser of women, citing his ban from Twitter earlier this year, allegedly for harassing Lauren Duca, a freelance writer who had authored an opinion essay that criticized President-elect Trump. The day before his verdict, Shkreli wrote in a Facebook post: “trial’s over tomorrow, b****. Then if I’m acquitted, I get to f*** Lauren Duca.”

Shkreli edited the Facebook post after it was first reported in the media, clarifying that the post was meant as satire. Though he says he agrees with Democratic policies, Shkreli sided with President Donald Trump during the election after expressing a frustration with PC culture.

In his sentencing, Shkreli could face as much as 20 years in prison, and although a much shorter sentence – if any – had been expected, today’s latest snafu may have just cost Martin dearly.

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The Most Bullish Oil Report This Year

September 13, 2017 Nick Cunningham 0

Despite the huge uncertainties related to the two massive hurricanes that hit the U.S., the global oil market looks tighter than it has in a long time, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Global oil supply fell in August for the first time in four months, the IEA said, a result of a dip in OPEC’s oil production, combined with refinery maintenance and sizable outages from Hurricane Harvey. World oil supply fell by 720,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August compared to July, a significant decline that will aid in the…

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