Middle East

Jim Rogers On Best Ways To Invest In Agriculture

On Monday, I blogged about well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers and his steadfast belief that agriculture is where big money will be made in the future.

Late last night I was on the website of the Wall Street Daily website listening to an interview of Rogers that was conducted by Robert Williams, founder of the Baltimore, Maryland-based investment research/market commentary service. Considering what I just wrote, it was what the commodities “guru” had to say about the best ways to invest in agriculture that grabbed my attention. From their exchange:

WILLIAMS: Jim, what’s the most effective route into agriculture for our readers interested in playing this long-term bull market?

ROGERS: Well, there are many ways to do it. The best way is to buy a farm- become a farmer if you really want to get rich because I explained before, some of the serious, serious, key fundamental problems in agriculture. So if you like the outdoors, if you think you’d be good at it, you might consider becoming a farmer.

Now most of your readers are probably not going to become farmers, but that’s the way. Or buy a farm and lease it to a farmer- somebody who’s competent. You can buy stocks. Certainly you can buy stocks. If you buy the right stocks- seed companies, fertilizer companies, or whatever- you’ll make a lot of money.

You can buy countries. Some countries are more agriculturally-oriented than others. Pakistan is a country that lives and dies on cotton more than anything else. So it depends on the country.

If you’re going to buy a lake house, I would buy my lake house in Oklahoma, not in Massachusetts, because stocks are at all-time highs. And we just discussed what’s been happening in commodities. So lake houses in Oklahoma or Nebraska are probably a lot cheaper than in Massachusetts. You can get a Lamborghini dealership in Iowa, because the farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis, in my view, in the future.

Or you can buy- for most people, obviously the best way is to buy an index. Many studies have shown that index investing is far and away the best way to invest in anything- stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, anything else. And there are plenty of exchange-traded products where it makes it very easy these days to invest in commodities.

On buying a lake house in Oklahoma or Nebraska, the former investing partner of George Soros said something similar in an May 23, 2003, interview on the Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE TV program. Nailing the U.S. housing bubble a couple years before it burst, Rogers talked property (with an eye towards natural resources) with co-anchor Karen Gibbs. From the interview:

GIBBS: How about real estate?

ROGERS: Well, real estate, Karen, depends on where you are. There is a mania, a housing bubble going on. But if you’re going to buy a second home, buy a lake house in Iowa, because Iowa is a natural-resources-based state. I’m bullish on agriculture. I’m bullish on natural resources. So houses in Iowa will probably do well. Don’t buy it in Boston. Boston is a financial town. I’m not that optimistic on financial companies or financial areas. So buy in Oklahoma, buy in Colorado, buy in states where the economy is going to get better. Stay away from places like New York and Boston — where I live — because real estate there will probably not do well.

In a Barron’s interview that appeared on the publication’s website on October 12, 2013 (blogged about here), the Singapore-based investor who correctly-called the commodity bull market that began in 1999 expanded:

I could buy farmland and become a farmer—although I would be hopeless at it—or buy farmland and lease it out. Buy shares in farms, farm equipment, fertilizer and seed companies that trade on exchanges around the world. Stock markets in agriculture-producing countries should do better than those in agriculture-importing ones. Retailers, restaurants, banks in agricultural areas will do well. Buy a vacation home on a lake in Iowa, not Massachusetts.

Good stuff. You can listen to/read (transcript provided) that recent Wall Street Daily interview on their website here. And for a trip down memory lane, that Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE exchange here.

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Pope Francis Inviting Assassination Attempt?

This week I intended to dive back into some series of posts I haven’t done in a while- “In Print,”, “Signs Of The Time,” and “Resource Of The Week.”

Regrettably, that will have to wait until next week as I still had a few more things I needed to get off my chest. Including the following which seriously concerns me.

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember me mentioning that I’m of the Roman Catholic faith. I attended a Catholic kindergarten, grade school (three different ones), high school (all boys- what did I do to deserve that punishment?), and even graduate school, to give you an idea of how big a role the Church has played in my life. Last year, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected by a papal conclave to head the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope Francis, he has been making headlines on a regular basis. Now comes this out of Rome. Nick Squires reported on The Telegraph (UK) website Wednesday:

He has dismissed and demoted cardinals, bishops and the Vatican secretary of state, and now Pope Francis’s reformist zeal has claimed a new scalp – the head of his own private army, the Swiss Guard.

In a dispassionate one-sentence notice, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, announced on Wednesday that Daniel Anrig will no longer serve as the commandant of the 500-year-old corps after the end of next month.

No official explanation was given for the decision, but it was widely rumoured that the Argentinean Pope, who has established a warmer, more inclusive style of governance since being appointed pontiff in March last year, found the commander’s manner overly strict and “Teutonic”…

The Jesuit pontiff, nicknamed “the people’s Pope”, is said to want the Swiss Guard to be less rigid in its rules, even “less military”, according to Il Messagero, a Rome-based daily.

That is in line with the Pope’s dislike of security in general.

On trips abroad, including his visit to Turkey at the weekend, he asks to be driven around in a modest hatchback, rather than a shiny, armour-plated limousine.

He has chafed at the restrictions to his freedom of movement imposed by the Swiss Guard and the Vatican gendarmerie, the tiny city state’s police force…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, going back a few months, readers may have heard the following. Natasha Kulzac wrote on The Independent (UK) website on September 16:

The Islamic State (Isis) is intent on killing the Pope, the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See has warned the Vatican.

Habeeb Al-Sadr, who has been the ambassador since 2010, has advised that one of Isis’ goals is to assassinate the Pontiff and warned that the jihadists “don’t just threaten”, according to Italian newspaper La Nazione.

Mr Al-Sadr confirmed he did not have any specific intelligence on an impending attack but said that their “genocide” of Yazidi Christians and destruction of holy Islamic sites was an indication of their intent.

“What has been declared by the self-proclaimed Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope,” he told La Nazione on Tuesday, adding: “The threats against the Pope are credible.”

The threat against Pope Francis, 77, was widely discussed earlier this year after he had endorsed the ‘stopping’ of Isis and its persecution of 40,000 Christians in northern Iraq.

It was reported in August that security in Rome had been heightened after Israeli officials warned that the Pope’s censure of Isis had led the militants to target him.

The Vatican played down this risk with spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi SJ telling the Catholic News Agency: “There is nothing serious to this. There is no particular concern in the Vatican. This news has no foundation.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Readers may recall what I blogged back on September 22:

Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani looks to have released a new speech in which he threatens Americans and its European allies. From “Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful,” which was distributed on social media yesterday… the Vatican is threatened:

And so we promise you by Allah’s permission that this campaign will be your final campaign. It will be broken and defeated, just as all your previous campaigns were broken and defeated, except that this time we will raid you thereafter, and you will never raid us. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us; He is glorified and He does not fail in His promise. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“There is no particular concern in the Vatican.” There should be, as the newly-minted caliphate and its fighters tend to be overachievers, so to speak. And Pope Francis just got done blasting the Islamic State (again). From Reuters on December 2:

Francis several times condemned Islamic State’s insurgents during his three-day trip. On the plane, he said some Christians had been forced to abandon everything: “They are driving us out of the Middle East.”

In an address at a Mass on Sunday, he said Islamic State were committing a “profoundly grave sin against God” and called for inter-religious dialogue and action against poverty to help end the conflicts in the region.

He added that ending poverty was crucial, partly because it gave rise to “the recruitment of terrorists”…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If what Squires said about papal security is true and it’s being tinkered with to make it less intrusive and more representative of a “people’s Pope,” I would share the following with Pope Francis if the opportunity ever presented itself:

I get that you think your security detail is a real drag. But look at what happened to John Paul II. There’s a reason why they bust out the Popemobile whenever you require a set of wheels- and his name is Mehmet Ali Agca and others who wish to emulate him. You of all people know that evil- real evil- exists in the world. And taking out the head of the Roman Catholic Church would be quite a victory for the bad guys. The world is on the verge of some real dark times. And there are already a number of issues within the Church that need serious attention. So Catholics need their Pope now more than ever. To lead. Not be in a position to join the ranks of the Church’s martyrs- God bless their souls. Work with the Swiss Guard. Don’t weaken time-tested security measures that were implemented out of necessity. You shouldn’t feel like you have to inject your physical presence among us, the Catholic masses. Our faith is already strong enough to survive yet one more intangible aspect of our religion. That boast by the Islamic State about “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women”? Who’s not to say this proclaimed caliphate- sensing an opportunity here- won’t try sending gunmen to Italy to take your life? I fear the threat is real. Don’t play into their hands. “Deliver us from evil”- not into it- right?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Squires, Nick. “Pope sacks the head of his Swiss Guard for being ‘too strict’” The Telegraph. 3 Dec. 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/11271618/Pope-sacks-the-head-of-his-Swiss-Guard-for-being-too-strict.html). 5 Dec. 2014.

Culzac, Natasha. “Islamic State: Pope is ‘being targeted by Isis’, Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See warns.” The Independent. 16 Sep. 2014. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/islamic-state-pope-being-targeted-by-isis-iraqi-ambassador-to-the-holy-see-warns-9736110.html). 5 Dec. 2014.

“Pope blasts Christian, Muslim fundamentalists while leaving Turkey.” Reuters. 2 Dec. 2014. (http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/Pope-blasts-Christian-Muslim-fundamentalists-while-leaving-Turkey-383405). 5 Dec. 2014.

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Friday, December 5th, 2014 Crime, Europe, Middle East, Religion, Security, Terrorism No Comments

Islamic State May Now Have A Dirty Bomb, But What About A Nuke?

“Militants in Iraq have taken hold of nuclear materials at university science facilities near the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi government has said in a letter to the United Nations.

But two U.S. officials told CNN on Wednesday that the small amounts of uranium aren’t enriched or weapons-grade, prompting only minimal concern…”

-CNN website, July 10, 2014

I remember reading about the Islamic State getting their hands on that nuclear material near Mosul this summer. And I also remember the American response to it happening- which was basically “who cares?”

Now, I distinctly recall what I was thinking when I heard the news:

The caliphate is going to build themselves some dirty bombs.

From the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission website:

A “dirty bomb” is one type of a radiological dispersal device (RDD) that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive material. The terms dirty bomb and RDD are often used interchangeably in the media. Most RDDs would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness – the conventional explosive itself would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material. However, depending on the situation, an RDD explosion could create fear and panic, contaminate property, and require potentially costly cleanup… A dirty bomb is not a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” but a “Weapon of Mass Disruption,” where contamination and anxiety are the terrorists’ major objectives

A “weapon of mass disruption.” Cute.

On Saturday, the Daily Mirror- a British tabloid- ran the following:

Islamic State fanatics have built a dirty bomb, it has been claimed.

The fighters are said to have made a device using radioactive uranium stolen from Iraq’s Mosul University after seizing control of the city last June.

And this week they were boasting of the damage it would cause if blown up in London, although sources insist security measures would make it almost impossible to transport here…

If the bomb does exist, militants are far more likely to use it in Syria or Iraq, rather than trying to smuggle it into a Western country.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Although sources insist security measures would make it almost impossible to transport here.”

“Militants are far more likely to use it in Syria or Iraq, rather than trying to smuggle it into a Western country.”

Not sure I agree with those statements. First off, you don’t need to “transport” the components required to construct a dirty bomb. There’s a good chance the bad guys would be able to source that locally in the U.K.

Second, going back to that NRC statement about dirty bombs being “weapons of mass disruption” rather than “destruction”- it’s my understanding that Iraq and Syria are way past being “disrupted.” Why would the Muslim extremists waste such fear-inducing devices there? New York City makes more sense as a potential dirty bomb target. Think Wall Street during the business week or Times Square on New Year’s Eve. That’s what I’d be trying to prevent if I were still in government and in the counter-terrorism field.

So the caliphate may have a dirty bomb. Not shock there if this turned out to be true considering the relative ease of constructing one. More of a concern should be the Islamic State getting their hands on a nuclear weapon. Why’s that? Because these guys have proven themselves to be hard-chargers and probably wouldn’t hesitate to detonate the damn thing among their enemies. Joe Cirincione, an expert on nuclear proliferation, penned on the Huffington Post website on November 28:

It is impossible now for ISIS to build a nuclear bomb from scratch. Doing so would require large, industrial facilities to enrich uranium, billions of dollars and gigawatts of energy. But if they could get the highly-enriched uranium — about 100 pounds would do, about the size of a soccer ball — it is possible that they could assemble the equipment and small technical team to build the bomb.

Jeffrey Lewis described in the superb documentary, Countdown to Zero, how few people are actually required to do this and how little it would cost. But it does require a sophisticated operation. ISIS has the capabilities required.

We have never encountered a terrorist group like ISIS. Their demonstrated brutality and willingness to kill large numbers of innocents is shocking, but is now the kind of terrorism that we have become familiar with over the past 20 years. ISIS adds three capabilities that catapult the threat beyond anything seen before: control of large, urban territories, huge amounts of cash (perhaps as much as $2 billion), and a global network of recruits.

With these assets they could illicitly acquire the nuclear material for a bomb from vulnerable storage sites in Russia or Pakistan, and possibly nuclear expertise as well

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember that phrase “if you build it, they will come” from the 1989 film Field of Dreams?

It’s seems like “if they build it, they will blow s**t up” as it concerns these particular jihadists.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Dorman, Nick and Doyle, Neil. “British ISIS fanatics have built a dirty bomb and boast of the damage it could inflict on London.” The Mirror. 29 Nov. 2014. (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/british-isis-fanatics-built-dirty-4721561). 2 Dec. 2014.

Cirincione, Joe. “Preventing a Nuclear ISIS.” Huffington Post. 18 Nov. 2014. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-cirincione/preventing-a-nuclear-isis_b_6180120.html). 2 Dec. 2014.

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Al-Qaeda European Passenger Jet Attack Plot Latest

On November 30 I blogged about the Sunday Express (UK) reporting Al-Qaeda was plotting to blow up five European passenger jets before Christmas.

Monday a FOX News Alert elaborated on the supposed plot:


“Experts warn of ‘spectacular’ Al Qaeda plot for Christmas”
FOX News Video

Two things to keep in mind while watching the video featuring FOX News terror analyst Walid Phares:

1. Phares warned:

Al-Qaeda is determined to do something to compete with ISIS against us.

As I blogged back on August 29:

Much of the mainstream media is playing up the threat to the U.S. from the Islamic State. Personally, I’m more concerned about Al-Qaeda beating them to the punch. I’ve already talked about Ayman al-Zawahiri needing to establish his “street cred.” But the emergence of the other band of terrorists formerly known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) puts even more pressure, I suspect, for bin Laden’s standard bearers to carry out a successful major operation against the U.S. homeland, and with haste.

2. Phares suggested the plot could just be a deception, and Americans should look out for mass shootings and other terrorist acts right around Christmas

I’ve been warning about a terrorist attack in the form of a mass shooting for a while now on this blog, the first time being way back in April 2011. It’s a real threat in my opinion.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Al-Qaeda Targeting 5 European Passenger Jets Before Christmas?

And just when you thought Al-Qaeda had been relegated to the tabloids comes this from the website of the Sunday Express (UK)- a British tabloid. Donal MacIntyre reported Sunday:

EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda plot to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas ‘spectacular’

TERRORISTS are plotting to blow up five European passenger jets in a Christmas “spectacular”, security experts say

The warning comes as Whitehall officials admit that a terror strike on the UK is now “almost inevitable” particularly with British jihadis returning from fighting alongside the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

An airport security source told the Sunday Express: “We’ve been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They’ve been waiting for the big one.

“We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real.”

According to MacIntyre, the plot was uncovered by U.S. intelligence.

Take the above for what it’s worth. That being said, I blogged back on August 29:

Much of the mainstream media is playing up the threat to the U.S. from the Islamic State. Personally, I’m more concerned about Al-Qaeda beating them to the punch. I’ve already talked about Ayman al-Zawahiri needing to establish his “street cred.” But the emergence of the other band of terrorists formerly known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) puts even more pressure, I suspect, for bin Laden’s standard bearers to carry out a successful major operation against the U.S. homeland, and with haste.

Still feel the same way as 2014 rapidly comes to a close…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

MacIntyre, Donal. “EXCLUSIVE: Al Qaeda plot to blow up 5 passenger planes in Christmas ‘spectacular.’” Sunday Express. 30 Nov. 2014. (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/541725/REVEALED-Al-Qaeda-plot-to-blow-up-5-European-passenger-jets-in-Christmas-spectacular). 30 Nov. 2014.

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Jim Rogers On Commodities: ‘This Is A Correction In A Bull Market’

Not sure how I missed an interview of investor Jim Rogers on the Business Insider website back on November 14- because it’s a terrific one. From an exchange between BI co-founder, CEO, and Editor-In-Chief Henry Blodget and the “guru” who predicted the commodities boom that began in 1999:

HB: You made a great call on commodities more than a decade ago. We’re in a downturn now. What is your view going forward?
JR: Great question. I certainly missed this correction. The correction has been worse than I thought. Some of it I knew — I’ve been quite vocal that gold would go down and stay down for a while during this bull market, maybe even under $1,000 dollars per ounce. But still the overall correction I got wrong. My view, rightly or wrongly, is that this is a correction in a bull market. You will remember in the bull market in stocks between 1980 and the end of the century, we had some very serious corrections. And every time people said the bull market was over, it wasn’t. It ended in a bubble. My view is that’s what’s going to happen with commodities. We’re in a correction, a serious one, but that it will turn around. Back to what we said about oil, most major oil fields are in decline. In agriculture, we’re running out of farmers. So we’re facing a serious problem worldwide. I don’t see enough new supply to say the bear market has started again, that the bull market is over. I think there will be one more big leg.
HB: So is this a buying opportunity?
JR: For sugar maybe. Rice maybe. I do own gold, I do own silver. I haven’t bought any of significance in a few years. I haven’t sold any. Gold went up for 12 years in a row without a down year, which is extremely unusual in markets. So in my view the correction will be unusual as well. Gold has not had a 50% correction in years, which too is unusual. That would be $960 per ounce. I’m not predicting it’s going to go there. I’m just pointing out to you there’s going to be another chance to buy gold and silver in another year or two or three, I have no idea why. If America goes to war with Iran, I’ll probably buy gold at $1,600, begging to get more…

The former investing partner of George Soros in the Quantum Fund also talked about:

• U.S. stocks
• Fed stimulus
• More economic “hard times” ahead
• Crude oil
• Russia
• Ukraine
• Asia
• Timing investments
• Advice for young professional investors

The Business Insider piece really is one of the best interviews of Jim Rogers in a while, which you can read on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Hacker ‘Guccifer’: Chicago And Unnamed Pennsylvania City To Be Nuked In 2015

According to the infamous hacker known as “Guccifer,” someone’s got Chicago and an unnamed Pennsylvania city in their crosshairs for a nuclear detonation next year. Andrew Higgins reported on The New York Times website on November 21:

The English-speaking prison psychologist, who attended my meeting with the hacker, rolled his eyes as Mr. Lazar started reading his explanatory text in good but heavily accented English. It was a compendium of wild conspiracy theories involving so-called Illuminati, a secret cabal that he believes runs the world. Most of the conspiracies were old hat, like ones relating to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by Al Qaeda. But others, such as an alleged plan to set off a nuclear bomb in Chicago and an unnamed city in Pennsylvania next year, were clearly his own work.

The psychologist said he had heard them all before but nonetheless had no doubt about the state of Mr. Lazar’s mental health. “He is not really crazy at all”…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That claim about the Pennsylvania city also being targeted is a new development in the story. I blogged back on November 11:

The recently-apprehended hacker known as “Guccifer” (Marcel-Lehel Lazar, an unemployed 43-year-old Romanian) is in the news today for something he told The New York Times while meeting with them. Andrew Higgins reported on the Times website yesterday:

Before agreeing to answer questions from The New York Times in prison, where he shares a cell with four others, including two convicted murderers, he read out a lengthy handwritten statement that he said explained the purpose of his hacking.

A potpourri of conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the 1997 death of Princess Diana and alleged plans for a nuclear attack in Chicago in 2015, it said: “This world is run by a group of conspirators called the Council of Illuminati, very rich people, noble families, bankers and industrialists from the 19th and 20th century.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Guccifer is reported to have accessed the private e-mails of numerous top military, political, and intelligence leaders around the world- including e-mails of former U.S. President George W. Bush’s family.

So is the Romanian hacker just trying to save his skin somehow with such claims, or did he really uncover such a plot to nuke Chicago and the Pennsylvania city while engaged in criminal activity?

Hopefully, Higgins is able to get more info out of Guccifer going forward- if there’s anything to get.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Higgins, Andrew. “The Man Behind the Hacking: Talking to Guccifer.” The New York Times. 21 Nov. 2014. (http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2014/11/21/the-man-behind-the-hacking-talking-to-guccifer/?_r=0). 26 Nov. 2014.

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Obama’s Foreign Policy In A Nutshell

I’m going to roll back things a bit today. Last night, I talked about the 1-hour Huckabee TV special “Threats To America” on FOX News. In the segment about China, KT McFarland, the FOX News National Security Analyst and host of FoxNews.com’s DEFCON 3, talked about how the Obama administration perceives our nation’s place on the world stage. McFarland told Huckabee viewers:

This administration came into office not thinking America should be the greatest power in the world. They thought if America gets taken back a peg or two, that’s going to make the world a better place. They don’t think America has necessarily been a force of good in the world. And as a result, they’re very comfortable with seeing the rising China, the rising Middle East, the rising Iran. And why? Because they think if America steps back, then somehow this global community is going to be in charge of things and we’ll all be at peace. When in fact, if it’s not America, then who is it? It’s Chinese rules. It’s Moscow rules. It’s Tehran rules. Or, even worse, it’s complete chaos.


KT McFarland on Obama’s foreign policy (starts at 2:37)
YouTube Video

I consider myself a lifelong student of U.S. foreign policy and international relations. And even have some academic and work experience in these areas as well. Having followed this administration’s dealings with the rest of the world since day one, I’d have to say McFarland- who’s held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan administrations- seems pretty much spot-on in her assessment of Obama’s foreign policy.

“Somehow this global community is going to be in charge of things and we’ll all be at peace”

I used to think this might be possible (mostly skeptical however) back when I was a college/graduate student.

Then I wised up after observing how the real world works.

Got realpolitik? Because China, Russia, and Iran sure as hell do.

Remember what one of Barack Obama’s predecessors- John F. Kennedy- warned:

Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

Amen to that. I’m not saying idealism is necessarily a bad thing. Just that U.S. foreign policy makers need to start “keeping it real” again, as other nations will pursue national self-interest over the “global good” when the situation arises, the two cannot be mutually-satisfied, and the perceived benefits outweigh the costs.

When America “gets taken back a peg or two,” in many cases spurning the greater good (and inviting the ire of Uncle Sam/others) doesn’t look nearly as “expensive” as it once did.

And some still wonder why China, Russia, Iran, and others have been so active on the international stage the last couple of years…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Global Economy Flashes Warning Signals

I’m picking up on a growing number of “bad vibes” about the global economy these days.

First, Rich Miller reported on the Bloomberg website Thursday about the findings of the latest Bloomberg Global Poll of international investors:

The world economy is in its worst shape in two years, with the euro area and emerging markets deteriorating and the danger of deflation rising, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll of international investors.

A plurality of 38 percent of those surveyed this week described the global economy as worsening, more than double the number who said that in the last poll in July and the most since September 2012, when Europe was mired in a recession.

Much of the concern is again focused on the euro area: Almost two-thirds of those polled said its economy was weakening…

Europe isn’t the only source of concern in the global economy, according to the quarterly poll of 510 investors, traders and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers. More than half of those contacted said conditions in the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — are getting worse, compared with 36 percent who said so in July.

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Granted, it’s just a poll. But there’s also this from British Prime Minister David Cameron in a piece he penned that was published on The Guardian (UK) website Sunday:

Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.

As I met world leaders at the G20 in Brisbane, the problems were plain to see. The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too. Emerging markets, which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery, are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali, global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Cameron added the following, which I thought was pretty funny (disturbing?):

When we faced similar problems in recent years, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity. Those were the wrong answers then; they are the wrong answers now. We are not going to repeat the mistakes of the past…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sound like any country you know?

Finally, exacerbating fears about global economic health was the following “shock” announcement. Mitsuru Obe and Eleanor Warnock reported on The Wall Street Journal website this morning:

Japan Falls Into Recession

Japan’s economy shrank for a second quarter in a row, after a sales-tax increase took the steam out of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ’s bid to turn Japan into a global model of revival.

Mr. Abe, who has sought to revive the world’s third-largest economy after two mostly sluggish decades, is set to announce this week that he will delay plans to raise the nation’s sales tax next year and call elections in December…

“Two mostly sluggish decades”

Some really bright financial-types suspect Japan’s so-called “zombie economy” is what’s ultimately in store for America. While I have no doubt about a coming U.S. economic crash, I remain somewhat more optimistic for the country’s prospects upon emerging from the coming carnage.

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Cameron, David. “David Cameron: Red lights are flashing on the global economy.” The Guardian. 16 Nov. 2014. (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/16/red-lights-global-economy-david-cameron). 17 Nov. 2014.

Miller, Rich. “World Economy Worst in Two Years, Europe Darkening, Deflation Lurking: Global Investor Poll.” Bloomberg.com. 13 Nov. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-13/world-outlook-darkening-as-89-in-poll-see-europe-deflation-risk.html). 17 Nov. 2014.

Obe, Mitsuru and Warnock, Eleanor. “Japan Falls Into Recession.” The Wall Street Journal. 17 Nov. 2014. (http://online.wsj.com/articles/japan-falls-into-recession-1416182404). 17 Nov. 2014.

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Hacker ‘Guccifer’: Chicago Targeted For Nuclear Attack In 2015

The recently-apprehended hacker known as “Guccifer” (Marcel-Lehel Lazar, an unemployed 43-year-old Romanian) is in the news today for something he told The New York Times while meeting with them. Andrew Higgins reported on the Times website yesterday:

Before agreeing to answer questions from The New York Times in prison, where he shares a cell with four others, including two convicted murderers, he read out a lengthy handwritten statement that he said explained the purpose of his hacking.

A potpourri of conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the 1997 death of Princess Diana and alleged plans for a nuclear attack in Chicago in 2015, it said: “This world is run by a group of conspirators called the Council of Illuminati, very rich people, noble families, bankers and industrialists from the 19th and 20th century.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The Times article didn’t elaborate on the supposed nuclear strike. And as far as I can tell there’s been no mention of it elsewhere out in cyberspace.

Assuming “Guccifer” isn’t spinning this tale in an attempt to save his hide, some are already jumping to the conclusion that such an attack would be a “false flag” event perpetrated by this Illuminati.

But what if Mr. Lazar discovered the plans within the e-mails of those powerful individuals whose accounts he was known to hack? In other words, they had intelligence about the coming nuke attack in their possession (it’s conceivable having such power/prestige might afford them that privilege) but the event wouldn’t be of their doing.

If not them, then who?

Consider what I blogged back on June 1:

WBBM (Chicago) Political Editor Craig Dellimore recently interviewed Robert Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Chicago, for the WBBM Newsradio show At Issue. From their exchange that was uploaded on the show’s web page today:

DELLIMORE: With all the headlines about street gangs, shootings, and corruption in and around Chicago, I think people can sometimes forget that terrorism is still a threat here, and is a major focus of what the FBI has to do. We haven’t had a major attack here- though there have been some plots thwarted. How real is the threat of terrorism these days?
HOLLEY: I would say, Craig, that the threat that we face now is probably more so than right after 9/11. Al-Qaeda Central has been thwarted in many of the attacks that they have been trying to conduct here in the West and against our allied partners overseas. Through Osama bin Laden being killed, and other leaders within core Al-Qaeda- the core leadership within Al-Qaeda- over the last several years, their ability to plan and conduct operations has been limited. What happened is, it is diffused to other groups. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula- we call them AQAP. Al-Qaeda in Islamic Magreb- AQIM. Al Nusra in Syria. So these are all significant threats- terrorism threats. Although they are headquartered overseas, they have an intent to strike here in the West. And they are actively plotting, recruiting, and training to conduct attacks here in the United States.
DELLIMORE: Is some of this theoretical, or do investigators uncover more concrete signs that Chicago could be a target, at least more so than we average folks might realize?
HOLLEY: I would never describe it as being theoretical. It is an actual threat. And there is no community in the United States that is immune from an attack on their communities. We saw what happened in Boston by two homegrown violent extremists. There have been multiple disruptions through different JTTF (unintelligible word) throughout the FBI in the United States over the last several years. You can look at Lubbock, Texas. Not a large metropolitan area, but had a significant attempt to conduct a terrorist attack there…

“The threat that we face now is probably more so than right after 9/11.”

Something for Chicago-area readers to chew on.

Personally, I suspect that if the bad guys got their hands on a nuke, New York City and Lower Manhattan in particular (Wall Street, One World Trade Center) would be in their crosshairs because of its economic and symbolic value. Washington, D.C., would be a close second due to its political importance.

As for Chicago? Well, some would argue Muslim extremists can’t do much more damage to the city than “The Machine” hasn’t already done.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Higgins, Andrew. “For Guccifer, Hacking Was Easy. Prison Is Hard.” The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2014. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/europe/for-guccifer-hacking-was-easy-prison-is-hard-.html?_r=0). 11 Nov. 2014.

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Jihadists Conducting Recon Of British Parliament?

Something tells me our friends in Western Europe might suffer a major terrorist attack before a strike against the United States. Sunday morning I was reading the “Travel” section of my Chicago Tribune when I spotted the following under “World watch”:

United Kingdom: Authorities warned of potential terrorist threats against the Houses of Parliament in London, prompting calls to close the Palace of Westminster to the public. The ISIS-related threat was announced after British intelligence learned of suspected jihadists visiting Parliament for tours in recent weeks. The Palace of Westminster, where the House of Lords and House of Commons meet, is Britain’s most iconic structure, with the attached tower and Big Ben clock being the nation’s most recognizable symbol. Military police are refreshing their training to prevent a terrorist attack, and tourists should follow local media for updates when planning to visit Parliament…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Kids. Big Ben. Parliament. Allahu Akbar!


“European Vacation- Roundabout”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Burlison, Dani and Habegger, Larry. “World watch: Threats may leave London travelers outside Parliament.” Chicago Tribune. 29 Oct. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/travel/ct-trav-1102-world-watch-20141029-story.html). 4 Nov. 2014.

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One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) Opens

“They should change the name from the ‘Freedom Tower’ to the ‘Never Going In There Tower.’ ‘Cause I’m never going in there. There is no circumstance that will ever get me in that building. Are you kidding me? My god. What do they have? Does this building duck? What are they thinking? Who’s the corporate sponsor, Target?

-Comedian Chris Rock, on Saturday Night Live this past weekend

One World Trade Center (its legal name/street address, but also called Freedom Tower) is now officially open in Lower Manhattan, New York City:


More ABC US news | ABC Health News
“One World Trade Center Opens, 1st Tenants Move In”
ABC News Video

As much as I hate to say it, there’s no doubt in my mind that the tallest skyscraper in the Western hemisphere (standing 1,776 feet) is a tempting target for terrorists. That being said, concern should really set in once the structure is fully-occupied, terrorism naysayers are trotting out “if it hasn’t been attacked by now it never will be,” and the weather/skies above Lower Manhattan are terrific- so As-Sahab (Al-Qaeda’s media wing) can get clear camera footage of the event.

But’s it’s not an assault directed solely against One World Trade Center that keeps me up at night. Rather, it’s the detonation of a nuclear device above/in Lower Manhattan that’s of grave concern.

If the bad guys can build it, I think there’s a pretty good chance they will use it.

All I can say is, I really hope the American intelligence and anti-terrorism communities can rise to the challenge before/when the time of attack comes.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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FBI, DHS Warn Syria Airstrikes May Embolden ‘Homegrown Violent Extremists’

When I heard last night that the U.S. and its allies had initiated airstrikes against Muslim extremists in Syria, I wondered how long it would be before a retaliatory attack was attempted. It’s nice to see the Feds anticipating the same from the jihadists and/or their sympathizers. From an Associated Press piece today on the FOX News website:

There is no indication of advanced Al Qaeda or Islamic State group terror plotting inside the United States, but airstrikes in Syria may have temporarily disrupted attack planning against U.S. or Western targets, according to a security bulletin Tuesday from the FBI and the Homeland Security Department…

In a five-page Joint Intelligence Bulletin obtained by The Associated Press, the government warned that airstrikes targeting the Al Qaeda-linked Khorasan and Islamic State groups could also embolden homegrown violent extremists inside the United States who already have grievances about the U.S. because of military action in predominantly Muslim countries.

While the intelligence community hasn’t viewed Islamic State an immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, officials have been very concerned about Khorasan operatives plotting attacks against the U.S.

The Khorasan group is a cadre of veteran Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If “homegrown violent extremists inside the United States” do in fact strike, how will they carry out their assault? Bombing, mass shooting, poisoning some restaurant salad bar? Who knows? But keep the following in mind- something I blogged back in April 2011:

Consider what Gabe Suarez, a decorated veteran of Southern California law enforcement and president of the personal safety training outfit Suarez International, wrote in his blog Warrior Talk News on May 6, 2010:

Put yourself in the enemy’s shoes….err, sandals…..which option would YOU pick? Which offers the easiest implementation, least chance for detection, greatest chance for success – bombs or bullets?

The mass shooting and not the improvised and unsuccessful bomb is the “easy button”, and that fact cannot be ignored by us as it will not be overlooked by the enemy.

So what do we do?

1). We must identify who the enemy is. Please go back and peruse the list of events above, both failed and successful. What is the common thread connecting the attackers?

2). Carry your gun everywhere…..a REAL fighting gun….not some sissy “suitable for CCW” 5 shot “self defense gun”. The times are not such that concern over a mugger is the issue anymore. Carry extra ammo with you. It is not difficult at all to carry a full sized pistol with a couple of extra magazines. I have done so since 1983.

These are not the times to be seeking political correctness over public safety. It is not the time to fear false labels created and assigned by the mass media. The Israelis learned that lesson long ago. After all is said and done, it is better to be a live “intolerant racist” (as the MSM would call us) than a dead “co-existing”, tolerant “paragon of political correctness”. I suspect that had Shahzad’s bomb been successful, lots of tolerant, “co-exist” types would have died right alongside us “intolerant racists”. The times call for careful profiling and suspicious curiosity as well as daily preparation.

Dress everyday as if you had a business meeting in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 with a bunch of Jews, Christians, and atheist Americans at a cafe right across the street from the Jihad School Of Terrorism.

Be ready or be a victim.

“Be ready or be a victim.” Great words to live by.

Add to readiness a healthy dose of situational awareness, and I suspect those practicing both are leaps and bounds ahead of most Americans in being prepared to anticipate and react to the violent acts of some jihadist or sympathizer the Feds are warning about in that latest security bulletin.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“DHS says Syria airstrikes may have temporarily ‘disrupted’ terror plotting.” Associated Press. 23 Sep. 2014. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/23/dhs-says-syria-airstrikes-may-have-temporarily-disrupted-terror-plotting/). 23 Sep. 2014.

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Islamic State: Kill Disbelieving Americans

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that I’ve taken the threat of terrorism by Muslim extremists seriously for years now- whether Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, their affiliates, or sympathizers. While it’s obvious to me a number of entities (particularly politicians) are taking advantage of the newly-minted caliphate’s boogeyman factor these days for their own gain, I do believe the Islamic State does pose a real danger to Americans here and abroad. As such, I plan on blogging about the group formerly known as ISIS/ISIL on a regular basis.

Now that that’s been established, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani looks to have released a new speech in which he threatens Americans and its European allies. From “Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful,” which was distributed on social media yesterday:

O Americans, and O Europeans, the Islamic State did not initiate a war against you, as your governments and media try to make you believe. It is you who started the transgression against us, and thus you deserve blame and you will pay a great price. You will pay the price when your economies collapse. You will pay the price when your sons are sent to wage war against us and they return to you as disabled amputees, or inside coffins, or mentally ill. You will pay the price as you are afraid of travelling to any land. Rather you will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms. You will pay the price when this crusade of yours collapses, and thereafter we will strike you in your homeland, and you will never be able to harm anyone afterwards. You will pay the price, and we have prepared for you what will pain you

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers. Both of them are considered to be waging war [the civilian by belonging to a state waging war against the Muslims]. Both of their blood and wealth is legal for you to destroy, for blood does not become illegal or legal to spill by the clothes being worn. The civilian outfit does not make blood illegal to spill, and the military uniform does not make blood legal to spill. The only things that make blood illegal and legal to spill are Islam and a covenant (peace treaty, dhimma, etc.). Blood becomes legal to spill through disbelief. So whoever is a Muslim, his blood and wealth are sanctified. And whoever is a disbeliever, his wealth is legal for a Muslim to take and his blood is legal to spill. His blood is like the blood of a dog; there is no sin for him in spilling it nor is there any blood money to be paid for doing such…

If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him. Do not lack. Do not be contemptible. Let your slogan be, “May I not be saved if the cross worshipper and taghūt (ruler ruling by manmade laws) patron survives.”

If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops.

If you are unable to do so, then spit in his face. If your self refuses to do so, while your brothers are being bombarded and killed, and while their blood and wealth everywhere is deemed lawful by their enemies, then review your religion. You are in a dangerous condition because the religion cannot be established without walā’ and barā’.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Elsewhere in the speech, the Vatican is threatened:

And so we promise you by Allah’s permission that this campaign will be your final campaign. It will be broken and defeated, just as all your previous campaigns were broken and defeated, except that this time we will raid you thereafter, and you will never raid us. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us; He is glorified and He does not fail in His promise. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Nick Squires reported on The Telegraph (UK) website Saturday that the Roman Catholic Church is already on heightened security:

Security in the Vatican has been increased after intelligence agencies reportedly intercepted an unspecified threat against Pope Francis, on the eve of his visit to Muslim-majority Albania.

The number of uniformed and plain clothes police patrolling St Peter’s Square during the Pope’s weekly audiences on Sunday and Wednesday has been increased, sniffer dogs are being used and extra metal detector machines have bern installed, the Italian media reported on Saturday.

The measures were adopted after a foreign intelligence agency, possibly American, intercepted a conversation between two unidentified Arabs in which they reportedly discussed ‘doing something in the Vatican’.

Jihadists from Isil have in recent weeks boasted of wanting to extend their caliphate to Rome, the heart of Western Christendom, and have talked of planting the jihadist black flag on top of St Peter’s Basilica…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There are also fears the Pope’s life may also be in danger. Squires added:

Habeeb Al Sadr, Iraq’s ambassador to the Vatican, said there were also indications of a more specific threat against Pope Francis, who recently spoke out in favour of the US and its allies halting the advance of Isil in Syria and Iraq.

“What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible,” the ambassador told La Nazione, an Italian daily, on Tuesday.

“I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians.

“Isil could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Considering Pope Francis often makes himself quite “accessible” to the public, as a Roman Catholic myself, I pray this doesn’t come back to haunt him.

There’s a reason why the Church rolled out the Popemobile, after all.

You can read that entire speech in English here (.pdf format).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Squires, Nick. “Security stepped up at Vatican over fears of terror attack.” The Telegraph. 20 Sep. 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/11110644/Security-stepped-up-at-Vatican-over-fears-of-terror-attack.html). 22 Sep. 2014.

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13th Anniversary Of 9/11

“Dozens of students at George Washington University were unaware of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in recent interviews, while they were able to name celebrities involved in the nude photo scandal last week…”

-The Daily Caller website, September 10, 2014

Lest we forget…


“WTC Attack September 11, 2001 from New York Police Helicopter”
Warning: Language
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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