United Kingdom

Riot-Inspired Purchases During The Ferguson And 2011 England Unrest

It’s interesting- at least, for me- to see what sort of gear, supplies, and tools are being acquired while the protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, for another night. Yesterday, Kerry Picket reported on Breitbart.com:

The use of tear gas by Missouri law enforcement has caused a run on gas masks in the St. Louis area. Local residents, reporters, and video production crews are making last minute calls to places like Uncle Sam’s military surplus only to find out that gas masks, gas mask filters, and bullet proof vests are all sold out

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Picket added later in the piece that ear plugs, “bullet proof chest plates” for vests, and tactical vests are in demand as well.

The civil unrest looks to be spurring sales of certain personal safety products on Amazon.com as well. Charlie Spiering reported on the Breitbart website this morning:

As protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, gas mask sales are skyrocketing at Amazon.com. Sales of the online retailer’s most popular gas mask model have risen 434 percent in the past 24 hours…

Another popular gas mask sold on Amazon, the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask, has rocketed up the sales charts by 250 percent…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As I type this, that “most popular gas mask model”- the NBC 40mm NATO SGE 400/3 Anti-Riot Military Gas Mask Made In The USA- is running low (only 16 units left in stock), while sales are still up 63 percent over the past 24 hours.

As for the other popular gas mask- the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask with NBC NATO Filter and Drinking Hydration Tube- that’s also still up 58 percent.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Civilian Gas Mask w/ Nato Filter (no drinking hydration tube) has jumped ahead of the other two, racking up a 128 percent increase in sales over the past day last time I looked.

Compare all this to what the English were buying during their 2011 bout with civil strife. I blogged back on August 12, 2011:

Apparently, pots, pans, and rubber hoses just aren’t cutting it for some Brits on the front lines of the rioting and looting. Reuters’ Rosalba O’Brien reported yesterday:

Sales of baseball bats and batons have shot up more than 5,000 percent in the last 24 hours on Amazon’s British website, as London suffered its worst violent unrest in decades.

Seven of the top 10 ‘movers and shakers’ in Amazon’s sports and leisure list were baseball bats of various kinds, their sales since Monday rising between 1,756 percent and 5,149 percent.

A “military police telescopic baton”, described by the manufacturer as useful for “effective self-defence with extra reach”, was the 110th best selling item among Amazon’s sports and leisure customers, up from a ranking of 5,622 just 24 hours ago. Actual sale number of the items are not given.

A look at the Amazon UK site right now shows that the top “mover and shaker” in the “Sports & Leisure” category is a folding shovel by Gelert. This forged steel shovel has a serrated edge for sawing- or for seriously ruining the day of some threatening rioter/looter.

In the past twenty-four hours, the sales rank of this folding shovel has skyrocketed 283,300 percent from 2,834 to number one in the sports and leisure category.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

283,300 percent? While this Gelert folding shovel is still available on the Amazon UK site, I couldn’t find it on the U.S. counterpart. The closest folding shovel I saw on our Amazon looked to be the Wenzel Tri-Fold Shovel- although Amazon customers are raving about the similar-in-function US Military Original Issue E-Tool Entrenching Shovel.

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

Sources:

Picket, Kerry. “Run On Gas Masks In Ferguson.” Breitbart.com. 18 Aug.2014. (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/18/Run-On-Gas-Masks-In-Ferguson). 19 Aug. 2014.

Spiering, Charlie. “Popular Gas Mask Sales Up 434 Percent On Amazon.” Breitbart.com. 19 Aug. 2014. (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/19/Popular-Gas-Mask-Sales-Up-434-Percent-On-Amazon). 19 Aug. 2014.

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5.56 NATO And .223 Remington Lethal Enough?

Anyone read that article on The Washington Times website about the Russian military’s new gear that’s being “shown off” in the Ukraine? It’s quite interesting. Rowan Scarborough wrote on April 20:

“They’ve got better equipment than they had five years ago,” said Scott Traudt, an executive with Green Mountain, a Vermont gun manufacturer. “They’ve got new grenade launchers that are awesome. The helmets are better than our helmets. The body armor is better than our body armor. They’re doing a lot of things right. I’m pretty amazed at it.”

However, it was something said later in the piece which really grabbed my attention. Scarborough added:

U.S. soldiers have complained that their main rifle and round, the M4 carbine and its 5.56, lacked lethality in Afghanistan against a Taliban enemy that does not often wear body armor. Without a shot to the head, the enemy could take several 5.56 hits and keep going, soldiers said in surveys…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

5.56 x 45mm NATO or 5.56 NATO was originally chambered for the M16 rifle and is a standard cartridge for NATO and many non-NATO armies. It’s similar, but not identical to, .223 Remington. Both are used extensively by American shooters, including preppers/survivalists.

Now about that part in the article where U.S. soldiers are complaining about 5.56 NATO and its “lethality”- should preppers/survivalists and others using the same or .223 be concerned their ammunition also won’t be lethal enough when it matters most?

Here is some more insight on 5.56 lethality from people who know a thing or two about the subject in a combat zone…

First, there’s this from a U.S. Marine scout/sniper who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and submitted the following to The Truth About Guns website regarding a firefight in Fallujah, Iraq. He was using an M-16A4 with a heavy barrel, improved trigger, and scope- as well as standard 5.56 ammo- in the following action:

This bad guy took a knee and started to aim his RPG at our building. I fired once, hitting him square in the chest. The man stumbled a bit but regained his balance and steadied his weapon. I fired again, again hitting him. But this time, it did not faze him and he was able to touch off that grenade. The explosion rattled the building and injured a Marine below me on the second floor.

The bad guy dropped the RPG once he fired it, got up, and ran down the alley away from me. He still had the AK on his back. I fired again, twice, both times hitting him in his upper thoracic region. He was not phased. My L-T was shooting at him while yelling at his sniper (me) to kill him!

The man started pushing himself up a short wall near the end of the alley way. The wall was maybe 4 1/2ft tall. I decided to take a head shot at about 125yds. I centered the cross-hairs, and squeezed. JUST as the round broke, the man ducked his head, the bullet entered his brain housing group just at the base of the skull, effectively removing the back portion of his dome. I skull capped him.

He stumbled over the wall and fell down behind it, out of my view in the dead space. For a split second, I thought “there…” until I saw him RUNNING away from me, brains leaking from his head! As soon as I saw him, he fell down and did not get up again. It took 5 well aimed rounds to put this guy down. Granted, he was most likely on something, but it still took 4 in the chest, and one head shot to stop this guy. I was not the only Marine to be involved in something like this. Who is to say that an attacker in the U.S. is not “on something?”

Now, is the .223 (5.56) a deadly round? Absolutely! A .22lr is deadly in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. Is it effective? In this Marine’s opinion, no. The .223 is a varmint round, meant to kill targets no larger than a rabbit or coyote…

Then there’s this from the Daily Mail (UK) website from just over a year ago that talked about Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) jettisoning the 5.56 NATO cartridge. Mark Nicol reported on March 16, 2013:

The rounds currently issued as standard to SAS troops for their rifles are 5.56 mm calibre. In future, the troopers will be given 7.62 mm rounds – which are almost twice as heavy and designed to kill with a single shot.

Last night, a regiment insider said: ‘The shoot-to-wound policy was based on the assumption that once he was wounded an enemy combatant would stop fighting, and so would his comrades to give him first aid.

But this backfired against the Taliban. The 5.56 mm rounds did not take a big enough chunk out of them, allowing fanatical insurgents to keep on fighting despite their wounds. As a result, more SAS soldiers were shot and badly wounded.

‘The need for a heavier round was highlighted in the regiment’s post-Afghanistan report. Tests are now taking place on at least three rifles specially designed to fire the 7.62 mm rounds.

‘The difference in killing power between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm is startling – the heavier rounds pack so much more of a punch.’

Nicol added later in the piece:

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army commander, said: ‘The 7.62 mm round is a good, meaty bullet and will drop your enemy with a single hit. The 5.56 mm cannot compete with it for stopping power and, according to many soldiers, the round has fallen short in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘Insurgents who would have been fatally wounded by a 7.62 mm have been able to continue fighting and endanger the lives of our soldiers.

‘This is a positive step and I hope other regiments give consideration to returning to 7.62 mm rounds in the infantryman’s standard rifle. It could save lives and win battles.’

So should preppers/survivalists and others using 5.56 NATO or .223 Remington be concerned their ammunition lacks lethality?

In the past, I understood these calibers were- if anything- at least adequate in lethality. I also thought firearm proficiency and shot placement skill had a lot to do with stopping the threat as well.

I don’t think I’m wrong in believing the latter (user ability) is still important.

Readers- care to add your two cents?

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

Sources:

Scarborough, Rowan. “Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear.” The Washington Times. 20 Apr. 2014. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/20/tactical-advantage-russian-military-shows-off-impr/?page=all#pagebreak). 29 Apr. 2014.

Farago, Robert. “Marine: .223 May Not Be Lethal Enough for Civilians.” The Truth About Guns. 9 Jan. 2013. (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/01/robert-farago/marine-223-may-not-be-lethal-enough-for-civilians/). 29 Apt. 2014.

Nicol, Mark. “SAS to use bigger bullets to kill enemy outright after claiming ‘shoot-to-wound’ policy put their lives at risk.” Daily Mail. 16 Mar. 2013. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294631/SAS-use-bigger-bullets-kill-enemy-outright-claiming-shoot-wound-policy-lives-risk.html). 29 Apr. 2014.

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While Ebola Grabs The Headlines, Coronavirus Makes A Comeback In The Middle East

While I’ve been blogging about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa (121 dead last last I heard), I’ve noticed a different virus that I’ve talked about before is making a comeback further east. Deema Almashabi and Oliver Staley reported earlier today on Bloomberg.com:

The government of Saudi Arabia is trying to reassure its citizens that the most recent outbreak of a respiratory virus isn’t a cause for alarm following 16 new cases, including two deaths, reported in the last nine days.

The Saudi health ministry sent text messages through local carriers yesterday asking the country’s 30 million residents to check its website, call a free hotline and check its official Twitter account for updates on the coronavirus, which causes Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome or MERS…

Almost 230 people are known to have been infected since the virus emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, and 92 of them have died, according to the World Health Organization. Much about the disease and how it’s transmitted is still unknown…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The first time I discussed the coronavirus on Survival And Prosperity, the attention hadn’t yet focused on the Middle East. Rather, it was on Europe. I blogged on February 18, 2013:

Novel coronavirus (NCoV). A SARS-like virus I’ve been hearing more of recently. And of particular concern to the World Health Organization (WHO). From a February 16 posting on the “Disease Outbreak News” section of their website:

The United Kingdom (UK) has informed WHO of another confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (NCoV). This is the third case confirmed in the country this month and is in the same family cluster as the two recently confirmed cases.

The latest confirmed case does not have recent travel history outside the UK. The case is recovering from mild respiratory illness and is currently well.

The confirmation with NCoV in this case with no recent travel history indicates that infection was acquired in the UK. Although this new case offers further indications of person-to-person transmission, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been identified

As of 16 February 2013, WHO has been informed of a total of 12 confirmed cases of human infection with NCoV, including five deaths…

WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied.

WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

12 confirmed cases of this new coronavirus. 5 deaths.

The vibe I’m getting from public health circles is that human-to-human transmission of NCoV is pretty difficult, so there’s not much worry of a pandemic at this point in time.

Still, like the WHO suggested in their bulletin, it’s something worth keeping an eye on. People infected with the novel coronavirus have developed acute respiratory illness with symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, and pneumonia. There are no specific treatments for the illnesses caused by the virus.

By last summer, the coronavirus that now had a foothold in the Middle East was being called MERS, or MERS-CoV on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Coronavirus/Novel coronavirus/MERS/MERS-CoV- something to keep an eye out for in addition to Ebola.

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

Source:

Almashabi, Deema and Staley, Oliver. “Saudi Arabia Seeks to Ease Concerns After New MERS Cases.” Bloomberg.com. 15 Apr. 2014. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/saudi-arabia-seeks-to-ease-concerns-after-new-mers-cases.html). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 Africa, Europe, Health, Middle East No Comments

U.S. Security Experts Wary Of American Fighters Returning From Syrian Civil War

Back on December 2, I blogged:

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray…

These radicalized foreign fighters were the focus of a piece that appeared on the International Business Times (UK) website Sunday. Tom Porter reported:

Experts have warned that a terrorist attack by jihadists returning radicalised from the war in Syria is “inevitable”.

It is believed that hundreds of British citizens have fought in the three-year Syrian conflict, with many taking up arms for Islamist groups.

Some have posted videos online, boasting of their exploits.

There are growing fears among security services that returning fighters with combat experience are poised to launch terrorist attacks in the UK. The Telegraph reports that around 250 Syria veterans may be back in the country.

Ahead of a discussion on Syrian fighters at Chatham House this week, Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, spoke of the growing danger.

“It seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria,” he told the Independent on Sunday.

Last year, security forces are reported to have foiled a Mumbai-style plot, involving killing civilians with guns in central London, which involved Syria veterans

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Even though Porter talked about the U.K., Syrian Civil War veterans who fought alongside Islamists will also be returning to the United States.

And U.S. security experts are wary of them.

Henry Austin and Charlene Gubash reported on the NBC News website back on February 15:

Foreign fighters returning home to the U.S., Britain and other countries after honing their skills in Syria’s civil war are posing a “nightmare for security services,” experts and officials say.

About 11,000 people have crossed into Syria seeking to help topple President Bashar Assad’s regime – including about 60 who are believed to have traveled from America. However, many have now been left disillusioned by bitter infighting between rival rebel groups and some have given up their weapons and returned to the West.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month said that the U.S. government was “very focused” on the issue of militants returning to the country.

“Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict,” he added.

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, said recent history shows that “battlefields that have Sunni jihadist ideology have produced some sort of a threat.”

“It’s not true to say that all of those returning from Syria will come back and be a terrorist threat,” Pantucci added. “Perhaps a couple of them will, which makes it a nightmare for security services to track.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some suspect Muslim extremists have been trying hard to recruit Western Caucasian members for some time now to use in terrorist operations against the United States and its allies in the “War On Terror.”

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

Sources:

Porter, Tom. “Experts Warn of ‘Inevitable’ UK Terror Attack By Returning Syria Jihadis.” International Business Times. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/experts-warn-inevitable-uk-terror-attack-by-returning-syria-jihadis-1443631). 7 Apr. 2014.

Austin, Henry and Gubash, Charlene. “Syria’s American-Born Rebels Pose National Security ‘Nightmare’.” NBC News. 15 Feb. 2014. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/syrias-american-born-rebels-pose-national-security-nightmare-n29451). 7 Apr. 2014.

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Jim Rogers: ‘This Is Artificial Floating Of Assets And It’s Going To End Badly’

Lots of Americans these days probably think higher stock and home prices reflect the economic reality of the times.

A strong economic recovery in America?

Try fiat currency printing presses around the world working overtime.

The famous investor Jim Rogers sat down with CNN International’s Nina Dos Santos, host of World Business Today, last Friday. From their exchange:

ROGERS: It’s the first time in world history, recorded history, when all major central banks at the same time are printing a lot of money. The Japanese in December said “we will print unlimited amounts of money.” So the Americans said “we can do that!”
DOS SANTOS: You don’t agree with that strategy?
ROGERS: No, of course not. Debasing your currency sometimes works in the short-term. It has never worked in the long-term. And it doesn’t ever usually work in the medium-term. Debasing your currency- lots of politicians like to do it because it’s an easy way. But then the Americans said “we’ll print money.” And then the English said “well, we’ll print money.” And the Europeans of course. This is artificial floating of assets and it’s going to end badly.


“Rogers: Printing money is unsustainable”
CNN International Video

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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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Gerald Celente Sees Interest Rates Going Up, Housing Slowing Down, Economy Going Down

One of the “crash prophets” who correctly-predicted the 1998 global economic crisis is trends forecaster Gerald Celente. The founder and director of The Trends Research Institute appeared on RT America last Thursday and echoed what a number of his fellow “crash prophets” (Marc Faber, Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff) are saying these days about money printing and rising asset prices. Celente told viewers:

This is a known strategy. That by lowering interest rates, more money would flow into the equity markets. They knew this. We said this when it was happening when they were starting to do it. So that’s been boosting up the stock market.

And again, the only thing that’s keeping any of this going- not only in the U.S., in the U.K., now in Japan, in the European central banks- they’re all dumping money into the system and lowering interest rates. That’s the only thing that’s keeping it alive, and that’s what propping up the stock market.

Celente- who’s been forecasting trends since 1980- shared his outlook for the next year:

Our forecast for 2013 is more of the same- but worse. We see recession on the horizon. There’s going to be a point… when they have to raise interest rates because of the debasement and the devaluation of the currencies.

When that happens, you’re not going to see homes bought the way they are now. You’re going to see a slow down across the board.

Again, the only thing that’s keeping this going is the cheap money, these zero interest rates, not only in the U.S. but in Japan, around the world.

It’s a currency war. Everyone knows it.

At some point, the interest rates are going to go up. And the economy is going to go down.


“Gerald Celente – RT America with Liz Wahl – January 31, 2013 “
YouTube Video

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

(Editor’s note: 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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Jim Rogers Warns ‘Horrible Headache’ Coming For U.S. Between End Of 2013 And 2015

Investor, financial commentator, and author Jim Rogers recently appeared on the Yahoo! Finance show The Daily Ticker. Lauren Lyster interviewed the former investing partner of George Soros, who talked about a number of money-related topics in video released this morning. This included:

• Noting that gold and silver coins are “hot,” but he wouldn’t rush into them right now- “Don’t sell your gold and don’t sell your silver.”
• Predicting turmoil in currencies- “There is not a sound currency anymore.”
• Reiterating his belief in agriculture as a good investment- “I would rather own agriculture than anything.”
• Revealing he was interested in Russian rubles, Chinese renminbi
• Thinking about buying Japanese yen again
• Investing his family’s “human capital” in Asia
• Comparing America’s future to the decline of the U.K.
• Comparing China to America in the early 20th century
• Predicting China will have its share of setbacks like the U.S. did in the 19th century
• Declaring U.S. higher education a bubble
• Revealing he was “optimistic” on Russia and had invested there. Talked about how to do it.
• Revealing he had invested in North Korea. Talked about how he did that as well.
• Claiming U.S. stocks are going up because of money printing by central banks- “I mean, this is staggering what’s going on. It’s going to end so badly for all of us. We’re all going to wake up one day with a horrible headache. Probably 2014, 2015. Or the end of 2013.

Awesome exchange between Lyster and Rogers, which you can watch on the Yahoo! Finance site here and here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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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Labor Minister: France ‘Is A Totally Bankrupt State’

Speaking of France, how is the Socialist-led European state faring these days?

Not so great, it seems.

In fact, a pretty reliable source claims they’re bankrupt.

Graham Ruddick reported on The Telegraph (UK) website Monday:

Michel Sapin made the gaffe in a radio interview, which left French President Francois Hollande battling to undo the potential reputational damage.

“There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,” Mr Sapin said. “That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.”

The comments came as President Hollande attempts to improve the image of the French economy after pledging to reduce the country’s deficit by cutting spending by €60bn (£51.5bn) over the next five years and increasing taxes by €20bn.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

As I mentioned earlier tonight, some claim President Obama desires French-style Socialism for the United States.

If France’s economy truly is in shambles, and the U.S. President really wants to emulate them, well- here’s a glimpse of what Americans could expect. From an Investor’s Business Daily editorial yesterday:

Fresh after May 2012’s election, President Francois Hollande wasted no time raising government spending, hiking tax rates to 75% on those above $1.3 million in income, hiring 60,000 bureaucrats, cutting the retirement age for public pensions to 60 and undoing fiscal reforms by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. During his campaign, Hollande declared himself “the enemy of finance.” France today proves it…

Public debt has soared from 68% of GDP in 2008 to 90% in 2012, joblessness has hit 11%, and GDP growth of its $2.8 trillion economy is projected in 2013 at zero.

Tax hikes have driven the richest taxpayers from the country, making the $43 billion budget hole unlikely to be plugged by Hollande’s $26 billion tax hike. Meanwhile, a squeeze on business creates rising numbers of unemployed, who in turn demand state services.

Time will tell how this will all work out for the Socialists in France. But if history rhymes once again, keep in mind something former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said in a 1976 interview:

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.

Any of this sound familiar?

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

Sources:

Ruddick, Graham. “France ‘totally bankrupt’, says labour minister Michel Sapin.” The Telegraph. 28 Jan. 2013. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9832845/France-totally-bankrupt-says-labour-minister-Michel-Sapin.html). 30 Jan. 2013.

“Like The Bourbons, France’s Socialists Have Learned Nothing, Forgotten Nothing.” Investor’s Business Daily. 29 Jan. 2013. (http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/012913-642388-france-socialist-model-is-same-old-recipe-for-bankruptcy.htm). 30 Jan. 2013.

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Gold Flowing From West To East

“While the current world hubs for gold trading and storage are London, Zurich, and New York, stores of physical metal are also beginning to migrate east. Gold storage facilities are springing up all over Asia like mushrooms after a summer rain.”

-Tim Staermose, Chief Investment Strategist, SovereignMan.com, July 30, 2012

Some time ago, I remember well-known investor and China bull Jim Rogers say that capital is flowing from West to East.

I hear the gold is heading that way too these days.

Clementine Wallop pointed out on the Wall Street Journal website this morning:

Investors in Asia are increasingly dealing with a seemingly anachronistic problem: finding a place to stash their bars of gold.

Gold is a popular choice for those seeking to diversify their holdings and spread risk, but it isn’t the most mobile of assets. Still, gold has been moving east, and that has created opportunities for security companies in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai—financial hubs where the metal’s popularity is soaring.

Security companies are busy ordering two-ton steel doors and sophisticated monitoring systems, and hiring more armed guards as they expand their high-security vault capacity in Asia…


“Asians Using Gold Vaults to Store Designer Bags”
WSJ Video

So are Western vaults no longer a safe place to store gold bullion? Not necessarily. Wallop added:

Vault operators say banks are among those seeking to spread their risk by holding gold in a variety of locations, rather than a single stronghold in London or Zurich.

She did note:

Some private investors fret about tougher rules and the scrutiny of Swiss and other Western banks, they say.

Still, reputation and the stability of the countries these vaults are located within remain a draw for many owners of the yellow metal.

(Editor’s note: 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:

Wallop, Clementine. “Going for Gold? Don’t Forget the Vault.” Wall Street Journal. 20 Dec. 2012. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324461604578190841374704164.html). 20 Dec. 2012.

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Gold Confiscation

One thing that’s probably entered the mind of anyone who owns physical gold is the threat of government confiscation. I’ve read quite a few articles over the last several years about that danger, and what Adrian Ash published on the website of the world’s largest online investment gold service and Survival And Prosperity advertising partner- BullionVault- was one of the more informative pieces I’ve read in quite some time. Ash, who runs the research desk over at the London-based company, wrote on December 7:

When Governments Steal Gold – 7 December 2012

Three nasty examples of how people lost the gold they owned

CHATTER in the trading rooms says some gold owners fear a punitive US tax hike in New Year 2013, writes Adrian Ash at BullionVault, with the Obama government targeting precious-metal investors.

Hence this month’s sell-off (or so the tittle-tattle says) – akin to the move by Japanese households to sell gold in late 2011 ahead of new reporting rules for precious-metals dealers.

In truth, such a US move looks very unlikely. Ahead of needing cross-party support to fix both the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling disaster, it would be clearly partisan. (Not all US gold investors are Republicans, but very few are Democrats in our experience.) And besides, gold already attracts the higher 28% rate of capital-gains tax in the US, since it is deemed a “collectible”. Easier to raise CGT rates across the board, and whack anyone trying to grow their savings in fair measure. It would raise far more revenue, too.

Still, this chit-chat does highlight a key point about gold – the fact that, within living memory, it got special ill-treatment from government everywhere. Western households were blocked from owning gold bullion for 30 years and more after the end of WWII. Over the 20 years previous, their gold had been variously nationalized, compulsorily purchased and stolen.

Not just investment-grade bullion. And not just gold belonging to private citizens either.

1935: Mussolini nabs 35 tonnes of gold wedding rings

The United States “confiscation” of 1933 is well-known (in fact a compulsory purchase, made at the then-price of $20.67 per ounce before the price was raised to $35.) But with gold still central to the monetary system, many governments were looking to acquire more. With a smile, of course.

December 1935 saw popular Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini appeal to the patriotism of Italy’s wives, urging them to swap their gold wedding bands for steel rings instead. Yes, really. On Wednesday the 18th, La Stampa gave over its entire front page to this financing drive:

• “The most noble rite of ‘faith’ joins all women in Italy in one heroic will” (‘fede’ meaning both ‘wedding ring’ and ‘faith’ – clever, eh?)
• “The Queen lays down her wedding ring upon the Altar of the Homeland”
• “The proud and moving offer of the women in Turin”

Italian women were so “encouraged” by this popular show of patriotism that, fifty years later, they were still ashamed at being forced to part with their wedding rings. Mussolini got 35 tonnes all told. He ended upside down, hung on a meat hook from the roof of a petrol station.

1939: Nazi Germany steals Czech gold in London

You didn’t need to be a private individual, nor keep your gold at home, to lose precious metals in the 1930s. Little-recalled today, the Nazis’ theft of Czechoslovakian gold reserves caused such fuss in the British press in mid-1939 that the public was fully prepared for war by the time Germany invaded Poland in September.

The Bank for International Settlement had been established in 1930 to try and manage the fast-collapsing international Gold Standard. Based in neutral Switzerland, it was supposed to be above politics, and although its senior staff were all senior central bankers in their home countries, they played by a “gentlemanly” code of mutual support and respect. Unelected both then and now, central bankers held themselves to be noble and independent from the dirty business of democracy or dictatorship.

So when, on 20 March 1939, just after the Nazis marched into Prague, a message was sent to the BIS apparently by the Czech National Bank, the BIS duly passed the message on. It asked the Bank of England (then, as now, the world’s premier clearing point for physical gold) to move the metal held in BIS account No.2 to a new BIS account, No.17.

Never mind that the Czechs had already sent word that any instructions would come “under duress” and must be ignored. Never mind that the British parliament had put a freeze on all Czech assets, to defend them against Nazi theft. And never mind that the Bank of England knew BIS No.2 contained Czech gold, and that No.17 was held for the German Reichsbank. Because the Bank of England’s governor, Montagu Norman, was also a director of the non-political BIS. And he’d do anything to protect the noble independence of central bankers, applying their “gentlemanly” rules and so appeasing the Nazis one last time, by feigning ignorance of whose gold sat in those two anonymous BIS accounts.

The transfer was done before anyone outside the central banks knew, and the gold was then sold in just 10 days. By the time the story broke in May, the £6 million in proceeds was long gone. (We can find no reference to the transfer, nor to the national scandal starting in May, in Norman’s spidery-writing in his personal diary.)

1966: Britain starts prosecuting gold-coin investors

Two decades after the war ended, and 35 years after Britain quit the Gold Standard, its politicians were busy meddling with gold investment. Because the Pound was falling on the currency markets. So people were buying gold, sending money overseas to buy it and so hurting the UK’s already terrible balance of trade. Thereby hurting the Pound yet again.

To try and stem the slide, the Labour government put a block on imports of gold coin, and banned private citizens from owning more than four gold coins. Anyone with a bigger collection had to tell the Bank of England, whose officers would then judge whether the owner was a true collector, or a speculator.

Speaking in the (very heated) parliamentary debate of 13 June, the Conservative MP for Worthing, Terence Higgins, asked why the Government was attacking gold. “People are holding gold because they have no faith in the Government’s policy on the stabilization of the cost of living and on curtailing the rate of inflation…Will it take action against other specific assets which are a hedge against inflation?” (Indian households might ask the same today.)

But too bad – the “rule of four” went through (as it became known by retail dealers). By June 1967 some 4,847 people had submitted themselves to the Bank of England’s scrutiny, and prosecutions had begun. Exchange controls on gold were finally lifted by the first Thatcher administration’s first budget, in 1979.

The moral of these tales? Because gold is no longer central to the world’s monetary system, so-called “confiscation” looks a very 20th century phenomenon today. But that may well change. Exchange controls such as Britain had in the 1970s (and which Italy didn’t lose until 1999) are more likely. Because people, like governments, want to own gold when they fear inflation, financial strife or political crisis. Holding it at home could expose them to theft or coercion. If they hold it safely at arm’s length overseas, even a secure democratic jurisdiction requires clear ownership if you are retain control.

Be sure to get it if you’re thinking about Buying Gold any time soon.

Adrian Ash, 07 Dec ’12

(Editor’s note: Permission to republish the above material granted by BullionVault)

Buy gold online - quickly, safely and at low prices

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Signs Of The Time, Part 58

“You’re talking 70 million people on an island, all competing for the same resources. The most likely catastrophic situations that we could experience are natural disasters. I think there will be a new Dark Age. And I want to prep so that my children have a good chance of survival.”

-Edward O’Toole, science fiction author and British prepper

American preppers- meet your cousins from across the pond. From the Off-Grid website on November 30:

NAtGeo TV had a show in the UK last night about the growing number of British preppers – men and women who are preparing against future catastrophes ranging from economic collapse to electro-magnetic flares that knock out all electric equipment.

What they have in common is they are ready for a world without food distribution, and with no law and order…

You can read the rest of this interesting article on Off-Grid.net here.

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China, Asia Still Pushing To Become World’s Financial Supercenter

Did you see that TV commercial during the run-up to Election Day?

You know, the one featuring the Chinese professor in 2030 lecturing his students about the fall of the American “empire” through foolish fiscal policies.


“Chinese Professor”
YouTube Video

Seeing that again (I heard a lot of people got angry when they saw it for the first time) reminded me of a number of pieces I came across prior to the global financial crisis rearing its ugly head in the fall of 2008 that spoke of Asia becoming the “supercenter” of global finance as the 21st century marched on. So much so that legendary stock investor Warren Buffett confidently announced:

The 19th century belonged to England, the 20th century belonged to the U.S., and the 21st century belongs to China. Invest accordingly.

Since those more visible days of the ongoing economic crisis, I haven’t encountered that same level of interest from the financial mainstream media about the flow of capital and jobs moving from West to East. Until recently, that is. Perhaps it’s because the whole thing didn’t come crashing down like a number of China/Asia observers had been saying it would? Who knows, but Huw Jones wrote on the Reuters website back on Halloween:

Hong Kong was named the world’s top financial center for the second year running by the World Economic Forum (WEF), thanks to the strength of its business environment, infrastructure and a favorable tax regime.

The WEF’s annual Financial Development Report considered a wide range of factors and underscored the rise of Asian trading centers and the influence of China as the world’s second-largest economy.

Rival surveys based purely on the total value of transactions typically put New York or London in top place.

However, stalling capital markets, sputtering economic growth and waning trust in financial organizations served to ensure that the top six positions remained unchanged from 2011, the WEF said.

The United States was the runner-up, Great Britain third, and Singapore fourth in the 2012 rankings.

In another study of global finance centers, the British were hanging on to the top spot- for now. Catherine Boyle wrote on the CNBC website this past Monday:

London is losing its crown in the battle of the global financial hot spots, with New York expected to overtake it this year as the biggest financial-services employer and Hong Kong and Singapore snapping at its heels.

Hong Kong will overtake London by 2015 if current trends in job cuts and moving business to the East continue, according to a new report by UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

Singapore’s emergence as a financial center is also changing the focus away from London, which has had the most city-type jobs since the turn of the twenty-first century.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out down the road, but my gut tells me China/Singapore/Asia are on the road to becoming the world’s next financial supercenter- bar a complete disaster taking place. Even with a global economic crash, this region of the world appears to be in much better shape financially than its trading partners in the West, which will be vital in weathering the storm and the recovery phase. As for New York City and Wall Street? It may no longer be the center of world finance like it once was in such a scenario, but I would think it would continue to play a vital role in the global financial system, especially here in North America. The same can be said for London and Western Europe.

Down, but not out, I suspect.

Sources:

Jones, Huw. “Hong Kong named top financial center for second year.” Reuters. 31 Oct. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/31/us-financialcentres-wef-report-idUSBRE89U0BD20121031). 14 Nov. 2012.

Boyle, Catherine. “London Losing Its Crown in Battle of Financial Hubs.” CNBC. 12 Nov. 2012. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49778263). 14 Nov. 2012.

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Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 Asia, Employment, Europe, North America, Trade, Wall Street No Comments

Gold Entering Annual Sweet Spot?

This is the time of year gold traders get excited about. Don Vialoux wrote on The Globe and Mail (Canada) website yesterday:

The period of seasonal strength for gold bullion is approaching.

Thackray’s 2012 Investor’s Guideicon notes that the optimal time to invest in gold bullion for a seasonal trade is from July 12 to Oct. 9. The trade has been profitable during 11 of the past 14 periods. During the past 25 periods, gold bullion has outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 4.7 per cent per period.

Demand and supply factors seem to be in gold’s favor. Vialoux pointed out:

Despite reduced demand for gold in India, prospects for the seasonal trade this year are higher than average. Demand for gold is increasing. Chinese consumer purchases of jewellery continue to increase.

Of greater importance, central banks including Russia, China and India are rumoured to be significant buyers. China continues to take action to diversify its reserves outside of U.S. dollar investments by adding to its gold holdings. China and India are rumoured to be buyers of gold for use in a gold-for-oil arrangement with Iran.

On the supply side, production from China, the world’s largest gold producer, is believed to be declining as older mines reduce production. Meanwhile, investor demand is increasing due to concerns that central banks are trying to stimulate their economies by essentially printing more money.

The United Kingdom and Europe and China announced additional monetary stimulus last week and a third quantitative easing program by the Federal Reserve during this summer is widely anticipated. More money chasing a relatively stable amount of gold will lead to higher gold prices.

Speaking of the United Kingdom, the London-based World Gold Council, the gold industry’s market development organization, released a research report yesterday entitled, “Gold as a strategic asset for UK investors.” From a press release:

The World Gold Council has today launched its latest research entitled “Gold as a strategic asset for UK investors”, which examines gold’s role within a sterling-denominated investment portfolio. Using data spanning over 25 years, the report demonstrates that an allocation to gold helps investors obtain equal or better average returns, while incurring less volatility and reducing the maximum monthly losses.

Against a backdrop of sustained market turmoil and wealth erosion, investors are seeking a trusted source of security for their holdings. The report shows how gold can fulfil this role by acting as a consistent portfolio diversifier – managing risk and mitigating potential losses in the portfolios of UK investors, an imperative in the prevailing environment…

Juan Carlos Artigas, Global Head of Investment Research commented:

“There is robust evidence for adding gold as a foundation to investors’ portfolios; risk-adjusted returns increase, losses diminish and capital is preserved. The optimal strategic allocation to gold for sterling-based investors ranges between 2.6% and 9.5% depending on their specific risk tolerance and assets they hold. This potential for investors to avoid a significant loss or increase portfolio gains, by adding gold, is especially important during extreme market events.”

And this morning, the World Gold Council issued a similar report for Japanese investors entitled, “Optimal Allocations to Gold for Japanese Investors.”

You can access both WGC reports on their website here.

(Editor’s note: 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:

Vialoux, Don. “Get ready for gold bullion’s season of strength.” The Globe and Mail. 10 July 2012. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/funds-and-etfs/etfs/season-of-gold-bullion-strength-nearly-here/article4403228/?cmpid=rss1). 11 July 2012.

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British Spymaster: London Olympics Attractive Target For Al-Qaeda

Anti-terror police arrest two men in east London

British counter-terrorism police on Thursday arrested two men aged 18 and 32 in east London in an operation that was aimed partly at protecting the London Olympics, sources told NBC News.

-MSNBC.com, June 28, 2012

With Al-Qaeda still lurking and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to begin late next month, the head of Great Britain’s MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5- tasked with protecting the U.K. from terrorism/espionage) believes London will be a juicy target for terrorists. Ashis Ray wrote on the Times of India website yesterday:

A month before the London Olympics, head of Britain’s domestic spy agency said the games were an attractive target for terrorists and that some terror networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.

In a rare public speech on Monday, MI5 director-general Jonathan Evans though dispelled fears saying, “The Games are not an easy target and the fact that we have disrupted multiple terrorist plots here and abroad in recent years demonstrates that the UK as a whole is not an easy target for terrorism.”

The British spymaster talked about the threat posed by Al-Qaeda to our allies across the pond. From the article:

Scores of would-be British jihadis are travelling to Arab countries to be trained by al-Qaida. They are currently being trained in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Somalia, Evans said. Figures last year suggested more than 100 Britons were absorbed by terror groups in Somalia.

It is suspected that many are now being prepared for terrorist attacks across Yemen, Egypt and Libya. Evans also suggested there could be a steady stream of new recruits from the UK. From a British domestic perspective, Evans said, “Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here. This is a new and worrying development.” Speaking about the threat perception in Britain, he said, “In back rooms, in cars and on the streets of this country there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here.”

If Al-Qaeda launches a terror attack at the Summer Olympics, how would they carry it out? Asian News International reported on June 20:

The former Head of Department of Asymmetric Threats at the Joint Military Intelligence Division, in Athens, Greece, Ioannis Galatas has suggested that the 2012 Olympic Games may be a launching pad for potential terrorist threats, including Al Qaeda’s ‘dirty bomb’ plans, even as the successor to the late Osama bin Laden and a medical doctor himself, Al-Zawahiri, struggled to regain “face” amongst extremists opposing the West.

There have been numerous terrorist attacks since New York’s “9/11″ but none quite matching its scale and impact, and perhaps this has been a matter of disruption, deterrence and, most disturbingly, patience.

However, Galatas suggested that such attacks have been thwarted by national security measures and intelligence, even as the threat of a CBRN attack, referring to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, is ever present and it might also be the wild card that the terrorist networks, and “Al Qaeda” in particular are holding back.

“It is possible that Al-Qaeda’s success with the September 11 attacks has set the bar too high for its current CBRN capabilities. Al-Qaeda may be concerned that a CBRN attack that ‘only’ kills dozens of people would be perceived as a relative failure and demonstrate its weakened position relative to its pre-9/11 stature,” Galatas said.

Galatas added that there is no indication that Al Qaeda has abandoned its pursuit of CBRN weapons, including so-called “dirty bombs”.

“The possibility of a patient Al Qaeda is a disturbing possibility worth remembering,” he said.


“How Tough Is it to Build a Dirty Bomb?”
YouTube Video

Sources:

Ray, Ashis. “Britain fears al-Qaida may target Olympics.” Times of India. 27 June 2012. (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-06-27/uk/32440844_1_al-qaida-qaida-jonathan-evans). 28 June 2012.

“London Olympics may be launching pad for ‘patient’ Qaeda’s ‘dirty bomb’ terror dreams.” Asian News International. 20 June 2012. (http://in.news.yahoo.com/london-olympics-may-launching-pad-patient-qaedas-dirty-113646870–spt.html). 28 June 2012.

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Thursday, June 28th, 2012 Europe, Terrorism, War No Comments

Authorities Concerned About ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist Attacks On Anniversary Of Osama Bin Laden’s Death

On May 1, 2011, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs taking part in Operation Neptune Spear in Pakistan. With the one-year anniversary of his death fast approaching, intelligence agencies are concerned about a possible retaliatory strike(s) by Muslim extremists. Mike Levine wrote on the FOX News website this morning:

Just days before the one-year anniversary of Usama bin Laden’s death, federal authorities are telling partners around the country there is no specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland but they remain concerned “lone wolf” terrorists could use the date to avenge the former Al Qaeda leader’s death.

In an intelligence bulletin issued late Wednesday, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command note that terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Northern Africa’s Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Pakistani Taliban have called for revenge against the United States for killing bin Laden during the May 1, 2011, raid on his hideout in Pakistan.

The bulletin says Al Qaeda or its affiliates would view an attack “on this anniversary as a symbolic victory,” especially in the wake of losses suffered by Al Qaeda through U.S. drone attacks and other efforts overseas.

In addition, according to the bulletin, authorities remain concerned that so-called “lone-wolf” extremists not already identified “will execute attacks with little or no warning on or about the anniversary of bin Laden’s death.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Levine added that the intelligence bulletin cited Al-Qaeda’s emphasis on symbolic dates to launch terror attacks, and that Muslim extremists might be particularly motivated to carry out a strike in retaliation for recent controversies including Koran burnings and the desecration of corpses in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Steven Chase wrote about the concern over “lone wolf” terrorists on The Globe and Mail (Canada) website. From the article:

Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, also acknowledged Monday that al-Qaeda’s switch to a sole-actor approach to inflicting damage is presenting a problem for Western anti-terrorist agencies…

Mr. Fadden predicted al-Qaeda’s recent embrace of smaller, leaderless acts of terror is a sign of things to come.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has as recently as last fall published an online magazine called Inspire that called for “open source jihad” and instructed readers to how to carry out their own attacks, he noted. “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” was the title of article in the Summer, 2010, issue.

“My colleagues in Britain, Australia and the United States are of the same opinion: We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are acting on their own,” he said.

“When there are a certain number of people involved, there is a possibility of intercepting communications; the chances of errors are far greater. But when there’s one person who’s not talking to anybody, [counterterrorism agencies] have to be really lucky.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

In addition, Fadden pointed out that the “lone wolf” approach not only attracts the ideologically-driven, but those with “serious personal problems” as well- making them more unpredictable.

It might not be a bad idea ratcheting up one’s vigilance in the coming days.

Sources:

Levine, Mike. “Feds urge vigilance 1 year after bin Laden’s death.” FOX News. 26 Apr. 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/04/25/feds-urge-vigilance-1-year-after-bin-laden-death/). 26 Apr. 2012.

Chase, Steven. “Al-Qaeda switching tactics, CSIS warns.” The Globe and Mail. 23 Apr. 2012. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/al-qaeda-switching-tactics-csis-warns/article2411810/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=Politics&utm_content=2411810). 26 Apr. 2012.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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