Tourism

State Department Issues Warning For Americans Traveling To Europe During Holiday Season

New readers of the blog may be wondering why I brought up the threat of terrorism in France yesterday. Not our circus, nor our monkeys, right? Wrong. As I wrote back on September 22, 2014:

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.

“I do believe the Islamic State does pose a real danger to Americans here and abroad”

From a “Europe Travel Alert” issued by the U.S. Department of State earlier today:

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. U.S. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals and events. This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2018…

Extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks. U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations.

Terrorists persist in employing a variety of tactics, including firearms, explosives, using vehicles as ramming devices, and sharp-edged weapons that are difficult to detect prior to an attack.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The official warning comes on the heels of a new threat directed against the Vatican by the Islamic State. Nicole Rojas reported on the International Business Times website yesterday:

Isis has made a terrifying threat against the Vatican in the weeks before thousands of faithful are set to descend on the Holy See for Christmas celebrations. A pro-Isis propaganda channel made the threat by releasing a poster showing a car attack.

The ominous poster, reading “Christmas blood” and “so wait…” depicts a masked jihadi driving towards St Peter’s Basilica in a BMW. An assault rifle, backpack and explosives ride along in the passenger seat.

The threatening poster was released by the pro-Isis Wafa Media Foundation, according to monitor Site Intelligence Group. The terror monitoring group MEMRI said the image first appeared on anonymous messaging app Telegram on Tuesday (14 November) night.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I remind readers of a speech made by Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani back on September 21, 2014. From “Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful”:

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’…

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)

You can read that entire travel advisory on the State Department website here.

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

Source:

Rojas, Nicole. “Pro-Isis propaganda channel vows “Christmas blood” in new threat against the Vatican.” International Business Times. 15 Nov. 2017. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/pro-isis-propaganda-channel-vows-christmas-blood-new-threat-against-vatican-1647517). 16 Nov. 2017.

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Jim Rogers: ‘I Am Looking For More Investments In Asia And In Russia’

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers is bullish on Asia (China in particular) and Russia. As recent as April 6, I blogged about a GoldSeek.com Radio interview (released April 1) in which the former investing partner of George Soros said:

I own Chinese renminbi. I own Chinese shares… I bought recently some Russian government short-term bonds in rubles.

He added later:

There are other places I’m looking at but I’m really not very active at all. I’m mainly just watching the world unfold. Be knowledgeable, be worried, and be prepared.

That last sentence is indicative of a lot of what Rogers has been sharing with the investing public lately.

Still, it’s being reported that the CEO of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc. is actively looking for places to put his substantial “war chest” ($300 million estimated net worth) to work. Katya Golubkova wrote on the Reuters website last Tuesday:

Veteran U.S. investor Jim Rogers is looking at possible investments into Russian oil firm Bashneft (BANE.MM) and diamond miner Alrosa (ALRS.MM) as he aims to add more Russian assets to his portfolio, he told Reuters…

“If they (Bashneft and Alrosa) are not under sanctions, I will take a look – as I said, I am looking for more investments in Asia and in Russia but I am an American and I have to be a little bit careful.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Golubkova added:

He already has interests in Russian state airline Aeroflot (AFLT.MM), the Moscow Exchange (MOEX.MM) and fertilizer producer PhosAgro (PHOR.MM). He owns some exchange traded funds (ETFs) and is investing in Russian treasury bonds.

“I am looking for more investments in Russia. I am trying to buy into a Russian tourist company, I am optimistic about Russian tourism,” Rogers said, adding that he was also looking to buy more stocks of Russian agriculture companies

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A little over a year ago, I discussed an April 6, 2015, Reuters piece in which Yelena Orekhova and Olga Popova wrote:

Russia could now be “the right place at the right time” for investors, he said. His own portfolio consists largely of Russian shares, he said, among them fertiliser company Phosagro , airline Aeroflot and the Moscow Exchange…

About those “Russian government short-term bonds in rubles” mentioned a week-and-a-half ago, Rogers expounded in the April 12, 2016, Reuters article:

“If I got a chance I would probably buy more,” Rogers said, adding that he was only investing in Russian rouble bonds, not Eurobonds.

“I want to buy rouble bonds, I am more optimistic about rouble bonds than I am in Eurobonds. Rouble bonds have much higher yields.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Nice work by Reuters for staying on top of Rogers’ (potential) Russian investments.

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

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is 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 contained herein.)

Source:

Goubkova, Katya. “Veteran U.S. investor Rogers looks to add more Russia to portfolio.” Reuters. 12 Apr. 2016. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-rogers-idUSKCN0X90SC). 17 Apr. 2016.

Jim Rogers’ latest book…

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SP Intel Report- October 26, 2015

Welcome to the inaugural post of the “SP Intel Report.” On October 15 I blogged big changes were coming to Survival And Prosperity starting October 19. I wrote:

Each day will begin with an “SP Intel Report” (if it’s warranted), where I’ll be focusing on current events locally (Chicagoland area), nationwide, and overseas which I think readers should be aware of…

As luck would have it, my computer crashed October 19, delaying the implementation of these changes.

One week later, I’ve managed to repair my laptop, and I’m back in the saddle again.

So off we go then…

Chicago

“If City Hall ‘loses’ downtown to the bad guys… you lose the tourists, their money, revenue… you get the point.”

Survival And Prosperity, May 4, 2011

The Chicago news media is reporting that two tourists from Minneapolis were robbed at knifepoint by three men near Oak Street Beach late Saturday evening. The male victim was stabbed during the holdup while trying to protect his girlfriend. Two of Chicago’s more upstanding residents have been charged with the crime (police are still looking for a third individual).

The last time I blogged about a tourist getting knifed downtown was back during the 2012 holiday season. Even though it’s been a while, I fear we’ll be hearing of similar incidents with increased regularity as the city’s financial health deteriorates and the Chicago Police Department keeps receiving lip service but not bodies (meaning manpower).

There will probably be plenty of the other based on recent trends.

Note to self. Study up on defense against knives.

Illinois

Speaking of deteriorating financial health, the State of Illinois was hammered by two of the major credit rating agencies in the past week. On October 19, Fitch Ratings announced in a press release:

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the rating on $26.8 billion in outstanding Illinois general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-‘.

In addition, the ratings on bonds related to the state based on its appropriation have been downgraded to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+’…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Three days later, Moody’s Investors Service stated in a release:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the State of Illinois’ $26.8 billion of general obligation bonds to Baa1 from A3, while also lowering ratings on the state’s sales-tax (Build Illinois) bonds to Baa1 from A3, and on the state’s subject to appropriation bonds (issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and for the state’s Civic Center program) to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook for all of these obligations remains negative…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind the following observations by Karen Pierog over on the Reuters website on October 22:

Both general obligation bond ratings are now just three steps above the “junk” level… The downgrade by Moody’s marked the 17th by major credit rating agencies for Illinois since 2003… Even before this week’s downgrades, Illinois had the lowest credit ratings among the 50 U.S. states. Ratings histories from the three major credit rating agencies indicate few states have ever had their GO ratings fall below the A level…

Faced with a $105 billion unfunded public pension liability and a bill backlog of around $7 billion, I suspect Illinoisans will be on the hook for some sort of tax hike(s) in the near future.

International

Any Survival And Prosperity readers skeptical about the future existence of the Internet? Personally, I won’t be surprised if it goes kaput one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m somewhat of a techie (driven by needs, not wants) and love the Internet. But I’m not sold on its staying power due to frailties with its infrastructure. A couple of years ago I remember reading about an elderly Georgian woman accidently cutting off neighboring Armenia’s access to the World Wide Web for up to five hours- using only a spade. And now there’s this from The New York Times website this past Sunday. David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt reported:

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So the Russians could switch off the Internet. Or a rogue Uncle Sam could do it and blame the Russkies.

I told my girlfriend her brilliant nephew should get into the BBS game. Wave of the future?


“Apple II on a BBS in 2014!”
YouTube Video

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

Sources:

Sobol, Rosemary Regina. “$500K, $950K bails set for 2 accused of robbery, stabbing near Oak Street Beach.” Chicago Tribune. 26 Oct. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-police-2-held-following-armed-robbery-stabbing-near-oak-street-beach-20151026-story.html). 26 Oct. 2015.

Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 2-Illinois bond rating cut again over budget impasse.” Reuters. 22 Oct. 2015. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/22/illinois-downgrade-moodys-idUSL1N12M2L120151022). 26 Oct. 2015.

Sanger, David E. and Schmitt, Eric. “Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort.” The New York Times. 25 Oct. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/world/europe/russian-presence-near-undersea-cables-concerns-us.html?_r=1). 26 Oct. 2015.

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Jim Rogers Identifies China’s Six Most Promising Industries

Today on Survival And Prosperity I’m going to be focusing on investment matters. First up is investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers. He recently spoke at an asset management forum in Shanghai and talked about investment opportunities/activities in China. PEdaily.cn reported the following about the former investing partner of George Soros on September 21 (via a Google Chrome translation):

• Rogers is still bullish on China’s long-term prospects despite their recent stock market woes. I noted this back on September 9.

• He identified China’s six most promising industries are agriculture followed by tourism, “environmental protection industry, the financial industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the railway industry”

• The Singapore-based investor bought shares in the Chinese tourism sector around three weeks ago

On that second bullet point, back in November 2013 China announced economic and social reforms from which Rogers took away the following. I blogged on November 26, 2013:

Earlier today, Rogers appeared on CNBC-TV18 and told viewers:

Well, I’m excited by what happened. As the Chinese had an exciting announcement in 1978 and in 1993, they say this announcement is to be as significant and as exciting as what happened previously in those two years. So far what I have seen that’s correct- some sectors of the Chinese economy are going to benefit enormously. And as you all know if you can find a government that is going to spend a lot of money or give a lot of incentives to a sector, you should put your money into that sector too. So the Chinese are clear that they are going to do something about railroads, about healthcare, agriculture, pollution. They have made it pretty clear they are going to do something, so I would suggest that people read what they said and then try to find some stocks in those areas…

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)

Source:

“Wall Street predators Rogers: promising Chinese economy is continuing to buy Chinese stocks.” PEdaily.cn. 21 Sep. 2015. (http://www.profitconfidential.com/chinese-economy/jim-rogers-why-the-investor-is-bullish-on-china/). 29 Sep. 2015.

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Jim Rogers Bullish On Chinese Stocks Despite Recent Sell-Off

Investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers has been bullish on China for a number of years now. And despite the Shanghai composite index falling 37 percent since the sell-off that began in June, the former investing partner of George Soros in the legendary Quantum Fund is still fond of the Asian economic giant. From the website of international multimedia news service Sputnik International Monday:

The Chinese economy has a great potential for development and will surely recover from the recent downturn, prominent US investor Jim Rogers said in an interview with the Japanese newspaper Nikkei…

China has a great scope for growth, especially in logistics, tourism and the agricultural industry, the investor said.

He explained that his outlook is based on long-term perspectives which are often ignored by others. Now, it is high time to buy Chinese shares, not to sell, he believes

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Not only does the Singapore-based investor talk the talk, but he walks the walk. On September 3, an article on the Asia Times (Hong Kong) website mentioned the following concerning Jim Rogers’ well-publicized sale of Indian stocks:

After exiting India, Rogers bought Chinese shares during the two-three days when its market collapsed

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

According to that Sputnik piece, Rogers is planning to visit China and Russia “to assess the investment climate for his upcoming projects.”

Stay tuned all your Rogers followers…

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)

Sources:

“Prominent Investor Places His Bets On Russia, China.” Sputnik International. 7 Sep. 2015. (http://sputniknews.com/business/20150907/1026677754/jim-rogers-invest-to-china-russia.html). 9 Sep. 2015.

“Investor Jim Rogers takes too hard view on India.” Asia Times. 3 Sep. 2015. (http://atimes.com/2015/09/investor-jim-rogers-takes-too-hard-view-on-india/). 9 Sep. 2015.

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Downtown Chicago Diners Could See 11.25 Percent Sales Tax In 2016

Back on July 16, I noted the total sales tax rate in Chicago and the rest of Cook County looks to rise to 10.25 percent again in the coming year, making it one of the highest rates in the nation.

But diners of certain downtown Chicago eateries could be hit by an even higher sales tax rate. Pointing out an additional sales tax (“McPier tax”) downtown that tacks on an additional 1 percent to food/beverage bills, Lauren Choolijian reported on the WBEZ 91.5 website yesterday:

For restaurant patrons that dine south of Diversey Parkway, north of the Stevenson Expressway, east of Ashland Avenue and west of Lake Michigan, the Cook County proposal means an 11.25 percent sales tax will be added to their tab in 2016. The McPier tax affects all food and beverage purchases prepared for “immediate consumption,” and that includes soft drinks and alcoholic beverages…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Actual and proposed fee, fine, and tax increases are making the headlines quite often these days in the Chicago area. If my suspicions prove correct (these hikes are just the first of many due to steadily eroding financial conditions), Chicagoland residents, workers, and prospective visitors will increasingly seek alternatives (for example, dining out closer to home as it concerns the above), local government revenue collection will plummet, and public services will continue to be scaled back.

Anyway, check out Choolijian’s piece on the WBEZ site here for the full details of the 11.25 percent sales tax hit.

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

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes, Tourism No Comments

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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