Protesters in Sydney, Australia, join demonstrations on Saturday, May 16 to demand the resignation of Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina. (Via Ana Lorentz’s Facebook)New vice president does not enjoy popular supportOn Friday, Judge Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre was sworn in as Guatemala’s new vice president after Baldetti was forced to step down on May 8 in the wake of the scandal.Maldonado Aguirre, 79, is a right-wing lawyer and politician. During the 1970s, he was a member of the now extinct, far right Movimiento de Liberación Nacional (MLN). He later served as Minister of Education under the de facto rule of General Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio and as Guatemala’s ambassador to the U.N. In 1982 he ran for president as the candidate for the alliance between the Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR) and the Christian Democrat party, both of which are now extinct.Maldonado Aguirre has served as Constitutional Court (CC) magistrate on three separate occasions, under the administrations of Vinicio Cerezo, Álvaro Arzú and Otto Pérez Molina.Under the Arzú administration, he was accused of using his position to delay a legal resolution that would have allowed an investigation into the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi to move forward.More recently, in 2013, he was one of the CC magistrates who controversially voted in favor of annulling former dictator Efraín Rios Montt’s genocide conviction.Guatemala’s influential private sector lobby, the Comité Coordinador de Asociaciones Agrícolas, Comerciales, Industriales y Financieras (CACIF), has welcomed Maldonado Aguirre’s appointment.U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Todd Robinson and the U.K.’s minister for Latin America, Hugo Swire, have also expressed their approval of the final choice made by the Guatemalan Congress.However, none of the candidates on the shortlist Pérez Molina submitted to Congress, including Maldonado Aguirre, enjoyed the support of the #RenunciaYa citizen movement.On Friday, while the votes were counted in Congress, protesters gathered outside with placards that read: “We reject the candidates proposed. No more corruption!”Protesters argue that anyone willing to be part of an administration tarnished by an endless string of corruption scandals is inevitably tainted by association. Human rights and pro-justice groups also are strongly suspicious of Maldonado Aguirre’s right-wing credentials and of the fact that he voted in favor of annulling Ríos Montt’s genocide conviction.“The headline should read: the return of the white van. Maldonado Aguirre is the greatest dinosaur of all,” tweeted indigenous leader Andrea Ixchiú after Guatemala’s new vice president was sworn in. The vehicle used by military dictators to kidnap and disappear political opponents at the height of the civil war was known as la panel blanca (the white van), and the remark refers to Maldonado Aguirre’s ties to the infamous MLN party, which has been linked to death squads and was described by historian Luis Solano as “the party of organized violence.”Observers fear coup attemptIn recent days, the unprecedented crisis faced by the current administration has fueled speculation that Pérez Molina will ultimately be forced to resign, which would mean that Maldonado Aguirre would be sworn in as president until the elections are held and the country’s new president comes to power in January 2016.The scandal has led to a broad call for government reform. On Friday, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, the University of San Carlos, the Catholic Church and the Alliance of Evangelical Churches called for the creation of a “citizens’ coalition” to “find a solution to the state’s legitimacy crisis.”A possible outcome of the crisis could be that Guatemala could call for a “National Constituent Assembly,” a group of members of Congress that would initiate the process of drafting a new Constitution. Many groups – both progressive and conservative – support this type of change in order to address loopholes in the current Constitution and draft a new Magna Carta that reflects popular demands.For more than five years, a variety of political parties have called for a constitutional reform but the difficulty of reconciling the diverging interests of peasant organizations that are fighting for an agrarian reform and a conservative business elite fearful of social change, among other groups, would make this a complex and potentially volatile scenario.Due to the country’s recent history of civilian strife and authoritarian rule, observers fear that the instability generated by the political system’s legitimacy crisis could be seized upon by military and political actors to stage a coup attempt.“If popular demands are not heeded, given past experience, we run the risk that those demands will turn into anger, which could be used by certain politicians to provoke a situation of violence,” said sociologist Luis Mack.See also: Guatemalans demand president, vice president resign over corruption scandalhttps://storify.com/jillrep/anti-corruption-protests-in-guatemala-and-abroad-m Facebook Comments Related posts:Guatemala’s Pérez Molina could face impeachment Guatemalans take to the streets again as new corruption scandal rocks the Pérez Molina administration In Costa Rica visit, Guatemala president-elect Jimmy Morales reaffirms opposition to drug decriminalization Guatemala swears in comedian Morales on Thursday GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – A persistent drizzle turned into a downpour by the end of the afternoon, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands of Guatemalans who took to the streets on Saturday to demand the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina.Prensa Libre newspaper estimates that 60,000 Guatemalans took part in a peaceful march named #RenunciaYaFase 2 (Resign Now, Phase 2). This is the fourth nationwide protest to be held since the U.N.-supported International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) uncovered a massive tax fraud network known as “La Línea” that was allegedly led by former Vice President Roxana Baldetti’s private secretary, Juan Carlos Monzón, on April 16.The scandal has led Guatemalans to express their frustration and discontent with the current administration and what they regard as a lack of options for change in the forthcoming presidential elections in September.In a country deeply divided by class and race, upper- and middle-class students from the country’s top three private universities joined students from the state-funded University of San Carlos, religious groups, gay rights organizations and ordinary citizens, in a peaceful demonstration against government corruption.As dark clouds presaged rain, street peddlers wove in and out of the crowd selling umbrellas and plastic rain ponchos. For many, who attended the march with their young children, the protest became a family event.Local pop groups such as Bohemia Suburbana gave impromptu performances in Guatemala City’s central square and added a festive atmosphere to the march.Similar protests were held in Antigua, Quetzaltenango, Jalapa and other provincial cities. Guatemalans living in Panama, Mexico, Spain, and the United States also gathered outside the Guatemalan Embassy in their respective countries, in a show of support for the growing #RenunciaYa movement.Related: As Guatemala’s political crisis deepens, citizens reawaken
August 4, 2014 445 Views Fannies Book of Business Continues Downward Trend, Delinquencies Follow Suit Fannie Mae’s book of business decreased at a compound annualized rate of 1.7 percent over the month of June, slower than the previous month’s rate of 2.4 percent but continuing a streak of decreases that has persisted all year so far. Year-to-date, Fannie Mae’s book of business has declined at a compound annualized rate of 2.2 percent.The GSE’s gross mortgage portfolio declined at a compound annualized rate of 9.6 percent in June, down from a 12.5 percent decline in May and below the year-to-date annualized decline of 14.9 percent. June’s mortgage portfolio decrease is the second-slowest decline so far this year.Fannie Mae’s gross mortgage portfolio stands at $452.8 billion as of the end of June.New business acquisitions in June totaled $35.6 billion, the highest monthly acquisition total so far this year.During the month of June, Fannie Mae liquidated mortgage-backed securities in its portfolio at an annualized rate of 14.31 percent. Year-to-date, Fannie has liquidated MBS loans at an annualized rate of 13.19 percent.Currently, the GSE holds $2.8 billion in MBS and other guarantees, a number that has changed little over the course of this year.Single-family mortgage loan delinquencies at the GSE continued their downward trend in June, a trend that has persisted over the past 12 months. June’s single-family delinquency rate at Fannie Mae was 2.05 percent, down from 2.08 percent in May.Multifamily delinquencies remained steady at 0.10 percent in June and have fluctuated only 0.01 percentage point over the past six months.Fannie Mae modified 10,083 loans in June, bringing the year-to-date total to 68,054. Delinquency Fannie Mae Loan Modification Mortgage-Backed Securities 2014-08-04 Krista Franks Brock in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Secondary Market Share
July 26, 2010 This continues our report from 7/23/2010. The wooden wall forms have been removed and we can see the two levels of concrete wall. One of the first projects of this present workshop was to fill in the trench in front of the wall. [photo & text: sue] In the background we can see a packing machine that is used to compact the fill dirt. [photo & text: sue] As we mentioned in the beginning of this series of reports, the new concrete wall will shore up this area and an additional water tank will be placed here. [photo & text: sue]
Stuart SikesGlobal annual sales of streaming media devices will increase from 30 million units in 2013 to 86 million units in 2019, according to Parks Associates.The research firm said that last year 13% of US broadband households purchased a streaming media device, boosting adoption to nearly 30%. These included boxes and streaming sticks form companies like Roku, Apple Google and Amazon.Parks also claimed that by the end of 2019 more than 330 million 4K Ultra HD TVs will be sold globally.“The number of connected CE categories and devices continues to expand as companies look to disrupt the market,” said Parks Associates president, Stuart Sikes.“The key priorities for our research are to identify emerging business models, effective partnerships, and engagement strategies that help develop profitable consumer products and services.”
Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett is the author of a New York Times best-seller, The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century. He was one of 28 presenters at the recent Casey Research/Sprott, Inc. Navigating the Politicized Economy Summit, which featured a plethora of investment strategies from some of the most successful speculators in the world. You can hear every word of their actionable investment advice, as well as all of the recorded conference presentations, with the Summit Audio Collection, available in CD or MP3 format. During a break in the recently concluded Casey Research/Sprott, Inc. Navigating the Politicized Economy Summit, Alex Daley sat down with acclaimed military analyst Thomas Barnett to discuss how his consulting firm, Wikistrat, assesses global events.
In This Issue. * The dollar has the conn today. * Except against the Chinese renminbi! * YAHOO Finance retracts story! * Japan reelects Abe. And Now. Today’s A Pfennig For Your Thoughts. A Big Data Week Around The World! Good Day!… And a Marvelous Monday to you! Well, as I told you on Friday, I begin my annual winter vacation today, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss me! HA! I’ll be writing to you each day, while I get my shopping in, relaxing taken care of, and prepare my mind for some BIG changes in 2015. More on that in 2015, but for now, it’s status quo, and I’ll be here to bring you up to date with stuff as we head to Christmas and beyond! I found a great piece on the Bloomberg this morning from author extraordinaire, Michael Lewis, and I have pieces of that in the FWIW section today, so stay tuned for that! The currencies this morning are for the most part, down, led by the euro. It’s been a strange journey the past few trading sessions for the euro. First it’s strong, then sells off, then it’s strong again, and then sells off again. Traders can’t make up their minds on the single unit. But that should come as no surprise to long time readers, as I’ve always told you that traders are a fickle bunch! So, the euro is weaker this morning, along with the usual suspects. The petrol currencies are getting their rears handed to them again, as Oil continues to see its price drop. Speaking of the Oil price drop, I would have to believe that the U.S. Shale Oil producers have to be swaggering about now, doing the rope-a-dope, and bobbing and weaving. I read articles by people that believe this group can withstand these lower Oil prices longer than most believe, and then I read just as many other stories that say this group is about to raise the white flag. So, I guess it all comes down to who you believe, but either way, we’ll have to play wait-n-see to see how this plays out. I wish I could tell you how I think it will play out, but NOOOOOOOOO! The Chinese renminbi /yuan is one of the few currencies that are up this morning against the dollar, as the PBOC allowed an appreciation that just about matches the mark down the PBOC hung on the renminbi Friday morning! So, down, then up, just for GP, I guess! I had to chuckle a bit this weekend when I heard that Brazil, who had signed a currency swap agreement with China, a few years ago, had signed a different currency swap agreement with Uruguay, bypassing the use of dollars in their terms of trade. So, China started something, that other countries are now seeing as a useful tool for their terms of trade. I chuckled because I immediately thought of the old saying: Monkey see, Monkey do! But what if this making deals between countries becomes an epidemic? Well, it would be an epidemic to the dollar that is.. But what happens should this continue to take place all over the world? Well, first, think about how long it has taken for China to get currency swap agreements with most major countries of the world? I started writing about it in 2009, when after signing on most of Asia, and Belarus, China signed with Argentina, it was at that time, that my Spider Sense tingled, and I began writing about this. So, for this to catch on all over the world, I would think it would be at least another 5 years. But then that coincides with my call in 2010 that the dollar would no longer be the reserve currency of the world, by the end of this decade. Hmmm… In 2001, I wrote a white paper, called the Demise of the Dollar. It was thought by many to be just a crazy man, akin to the guy with a sandwich board proclaiming that the end of the world was near.. For who would write something like that, when the dollar was king? Well, skipping ahead to 2010, when I first made the call regarding the fate of the dollar by the end of the decade, I got those same looks. Sure the dollar had been weak for 8 years (off and on, but mostly on), that played well with the Trends stuff that I had been preaching about for years. Now, and then I see signs that this could happen as soon as 2017, so get ready, for 2017 will be here before we know it. And for those of you, who think they still have time. Procrastinating never won a ballgame for anybody. You’ll procrastinate, to the point where you wake up one day, and say. “what happened, I thought I had time!” I know, it sounds like hoo-haw when I talk about that stuff on a day when the dollar is in charge, doesn’t it? But, why not talk about it when the dollar is in charge? Makes sense to me, for it gives buyers an opportunity to look to buy at cheaper prices. If they should so partake in that. Well, Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, won his election, and his party maintained control of the Gov’t, so no changes for Japan. What this tells us is that the Japanese people are all for the Abe plan of destroying the yen, so they can have some inflation. They must be brainwashed, for his 3 arrows plan is not working, and the arrows are going to come crashing down to the ground soon. But you get what you vote for. we as Americans should know that all too well. The Russian ruble is getting whacked once more this morning, I feel bad for this currency, as it does not deserve all this weakness, the currency has all but collapsed right before our eyes. When 10.5% interest rates, won’t even attract speculators, you have to fear, what might happen next. There’s a ton of data around the world this week, like Eurozone PMI’s tomorrow (manufacturing indexes), look for the lower Oil prices, and the weaker euro to give manufacturing a boost. In the U.K. we’ll see their latest inflation data tomorrow, and jobs data on Wednesday. The lower Oil price should help U.K. inflation, and probably put the kyboshes on rate hike talk, which won’t be good for the pound. In Canada, it’ll be a busy week data-wise, as they will start by printing Manufacturing and Trade data tomorrow and Wednesday, followed by Retail sales and CPI at the end of the week, along with some minor stuff. I doubt the loonie will find any wind for its sails in this data this week. the lower price of Oil has everyone in Canada baffled, and the loonie on the run. Gold is down $11 this morning. And the other precious metals are draggin’ the line. There was some news overseas this past weekend that Ed Steer reported in his Saturday letter, that Austria is considering repatriating their Gold. 80% of their Gold is held at the Bank of England (BOE).. the roster of countries looking to repatriate their Gold is growing. Well, there was one subtraction, as Switzerland was subtracted from the roster last month. too bad for the Swiss that they didn’t see the wool that the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and Gov’t pulled over their collective eyes. Well, looky there, after all the nice things I had to say about YAHOO Finance on Friday, they retracted the story they ran that Russia had seen a reduction of $4.3 Billion in Gold in the past week. Apparently, they got it wrong, and it was actually international reserves that decreased, not their Gold reserves. So, good news for Gold. and bad news for probably dollars, but who knows what the Russians were selling from their currency reserves. But if were a betting man, I would be placing my bet on them selling dollars to buy rubles. The U.S. Data Cupboard on Friday, printed a very muted PPI (Wholesale Inflation), which as a whole fell -.2%, and as a core report was flat. So, no wholesale inflation. That is supposed to feed into the stupid CPI which will print this week. (Wednesday) The stupid CPI report is expected to print at 1.8% year on year. Now we all know that this is about as wrong as having your head buried in your smartphone 24/7. But. the markets love to have the wool pulled over their eyes, so they prefer to allow CPI dictate their thoughts on inflation. Today’s Data Cupboard has two of my faves, Capacity Utilization and Industrial Production. Both of these were quite weak in Rocktober, so I expect to see at least a bit of a rebound in November. We’ll also see the TIC Flows, which is the old Net Foreign security purchases data, that used to be significant, but once the Fed got their hands in the cookie jar, and began to get the Treasury buying all jumbled up, no one could figure this stuff out any longer, so it became insignificant to the markets. But not to me, I still track it, for one day, Alice. For What It’s Worth. Well, I promised you this and it should not only make you think about stuff, but will probably even bring a smile to your face, if not a chuckle or two. This is Michael Lewis on Bloomberg. “Eight Things I Wish For Finance That Won’t Happen:” “1. The financial sector rids itself of anyone with even the faintest reason to believe that he or she is unusually clever. All those that scored highly on standardized tests, or been invited to join Mensa, or finished in the top quartile of any graduating class will be banned. 2. No person under the age of 35 will be allowed to work on Wall Street. Upon leaving school, young people, no matter how persuasively dimwitted, will be required to earn their living in the so-called real economy. If and when they turn 35, and still want to work in finance, they will carry with them memories of ordinary market forces, and perhaps be grateful to our society for having created an industry that is not subjected to them. 3. Women will henceforth make all Wall Street trading decisions. Men are more prone to financial risk-taking, and overconfidence. 4. Wall Street will take the resources it once hurled at Harvard and Yale, to recruit their students, and invest in America’s leading retirement communities, to recruit their swelling population of elderly women, most of whom are currently wasting valuable trading hours! 5. No firm shall be immortal – or rather, no firm shall be too big to fail. 6. Strive to make the rest of society feel as if finance is something everyone can and should understand, by making it easily understandable. 7. All new American financial inventions, before they are inflicted on the American economy, will first be tested upon foreigners. The French would be ideal for this job. But if the French won’t try our new stuff before we do, we can always bribe the Greeks to do it. 8. Channel America’s testosterone into financial regulation. Of course, our new financial system will probably be so well behaved that it will not require further regulation. But as a safeguard, the Securities & Exchange Commission will need to be dismantled, and rebuilt as a for-profit enterprise. So that it might be at once feared and loathed, the regulator will be named Goldman Sachs, who will be paid a finder’s fee, by the government, for every old lady it discovers in the act of a financial crime. Chuck again. Now that was fun! And chock full-o-great-ideas, eh? Michael Lewis had more to say about each item than what I typed in. So, if you would like to see the whole thing, I suggest going here: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-15/michael-lewis-eight-things-i-wish-for-wall-street To recap. Chuck is on vacation, but you still get to hear from him! What a country! The dollar has the conn today, except with the Chinese renminbi. Lots-o-data to get through all over the world this week before Christmas. Austria is considering repatriating their Gold, the roster of countries doing so, or having already done so, is growing, sans the Swiss! The ruble is once again under siege this morning, and Japan reelects Abe and his band of compatriots. The Rolling Stones comes to mind here… You don’t always get what you want, but you sometimes get what you need. Currencies today 12/15/14.. American Style: A$ .8210, kiwi .7735, C$ .8625, euro 1.2420, sterling 1.5650, Swiss $1.0345, . European Style: rand 11.6540, krone 7.3865, SEK 7.5715, forint 248.45, zloty 3.3635, koruna 22.1840, RUB 60.15, yen 118.85, sing 1.3135, HKD 7.7525, INR 62.94, China 6.1152, pesos 14.78, BRL 2.6700, Dollar Index 88.53, Oil $58.05, 10-year 2.13%, Silver $16.81, Platinum $1,219.75, Palladium $812.78, and Gold.. $1,209.94 That’s it for today. Well, today is chock-full-o-memories for me. As December 15th is the birthday of my younger sister, Terri. So, Happy Birthday sis! But as a kid, the 15th always was the day that marked the day when my dad would walk through the front door with a Christmas Tree! The old house we lived in had 10 foot ceilings, and it always seemed to me that the star on top of the tree would be near the ceiling! There are some classic pictures of the family standing in front of the decorated Christmas tree. Seeing them now, I always think of some poor Eastern Europe family, for we look pathetic! But. we didn’t know we were poor! So. that’s 12/15 for me. Back then, 10 days before Christmas was stretching the time the tree would last. These days we go and cut them down, and they last a month! OK. well, our Blues won their game on Saturday night in Denver, our colleague, Dane, was at the game. It was a successful trip to Southwest Missouri on Saturday, again, thanks to my good friend, Duane, for helping me! My car looks so out of place sitting in the garage! Well, I know my first stop today for shopping, I sure hope there’s no hassle involved, I love Christmas shopping, until there’s a hassle.. Alex has his last final today, and will be coming home tomorrow for about a month! What do I pay for? Oh well, it’ll be money well spent, in 10 years! I just hope. no, I won’t go there, that’s not required today, Chuck, let’s just go about our business and hope everyone a Marvelous Monday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets
— – CASEY: “Severe but survivable” event coming This event will have repercussions on everything from how and where you shop and seek medical care…to how you invest and receive fixed income benefits, such as Social Security. Click here to learn more. World-Altering Shock #6: Are You Ready? Since 1979, there have been five truly world-altering shocks. Bill Bonner’s small, private network of researchers has predicted every single one so far. Today, Bill is warning of a sixth major shock on track to hit right here in the heart of America. Are you, your family, and your money prepared? Find out here. Important information about a strange website This website lets you invest in little-known $25 investment notes that pay interest rates as high as 28.99%. If you buy enough of them, you could collect thousands every month. Mark F. has already collected an extraordinary $53,539 over 6 months. Carl P. collected an incredible $67,419 over 14 months. And Isadore P. collected an unheard-of $226,080 over just 4 months. They simply logged into a strange website and started on the path to collecting that income. Click here and find out how to access this website. – L: Some people might rather stay home, not wanting to seem like a Scrooge. Doug: Now there’s something I do object to – Scrooge has become a powerfully destructive meme loose in society. Dickens was a social critic of the Victorian age, perhaps rightly so in many ways, but his attack on the creative power of wealth in the form of his caricature, Scrooge, is misleading and harmful. L: There was great injustice in the Victorian era, and, to all accounts, much inhuman treatment of poor people by the wealthy, though that was hardly a Victorian invention. But the wealthy, back then, were also usually the aristocracy, with hereditary titles and power. I’ve long thought that the problem lay in the legal power – coercive power – the wealthy had over others, not their wealth, per se. Since then, there have been changes, including a huge though incomplete separation between the non-coercive power of money and the coercive power of the state. But people still conflate wealth with coercion and various personality traits that have nothing to do with wealth. Doug: Such as? L: Many people believe stereotypes, reinforced by Hollywood and other cultural sources, that rich people are obsessed with money, care only about money, are greedy, and completely lacking in generosity. Nice people don’t care about money. Rich people are mean – and being mean is how you get rich. But it’s not true. I’ve made a study of this. All the really wealthy people I know got that way by creating enormous value. I know one of the first guys to set up “sweatshops” in China, enabling people who had few choices other than prostitution and destitution to work in clean buildings, albeit for long hours, at better pay than they could get anywhere else. I know another fellow who saw a trading pattern and developed a system to take advantage of it and then sold it to Goldman Sachs for $125 million. And more, all were passionate about creating something of value, and that’s what led to great wealth. Most started with nothing more than anyone else, and even the few that were born with silver spoons in their mouths took the money they started with and turned it into a lot more money. And none of them think the most fun thing to do on weekends is to evict poverty-stricken people from their homes. I found that rich people do think about money; they understand it, invest it, put it to work for them. But it seems to me that poor people spend a lot more time thinking about money, precisely because they have so little of it; managing every penny is critically important. Poverty is not bliss, which is why people struggle so hard to escape it. They are not idiots fooled by Madison Avenue advertising executives: they’re poor, and they know that’s no fun. Doug: That’s right. As you know, I’ve pointed out in all my books that the key to accumulating wealth is to pay attention to these very things. Produce more than you consume, so you have money to invest in creating more wealth. Maybe the Calvinists were on to something, with their notion that visible wealth was a sign of inward grace; they figured God must think you’re doing something right if he rewarded you with wealth. That brings my mind back to Scrooge, not Dickens’s Scrooge, but Uncle Scrooge, who, in my view, is a totally sound character. (Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International Speculator) This interview was first published on October 13, 2010 Editor’s Note: In yesterday’s Weekend Edition, Casey Research founder Doug Casey told us how he celebrates Christmas. Today, Doug explains why he admires Scrooge McDuck. Louis James: So, you’re not a Grinch. Reindeer and blinking lights are okay? Doug: You can even find them in some predominantly Muslim countries, and that’s fine. It’s good wintertime fun. L: I suppose societies need periodic celebrations, in one form or another. Doug: Yes, but there’s a dark side to what we call the holiday season in the West, at which time people are supposed to celebrate happiness. That’s a problem for unhappy people. L: Which is why there’s said to be so much trouble with alcoholism, increased suicide rates, and such during the holidays. Doug: Yes, and even generally happy people can feel increased stress from the increasing financial demands of the season. It’s becoming like the potlatch tradition of the Northwestern Indians, where gift giving is a very strong social expectation. That can be problematic in hard times, when extra cash for buying nice presents for others can be tough to come by. In Dickens’s days, there was no expectation that you’d buy presents for everyone you know if you were a Cratchit. Today, it’s becoming an embarrassment to go see anyone during the holidays without a gift in hand. Recommended Links “This is the Biggest Accounting Hoax Since Enron” According to Jim Rickards, this could be 525 times bigger than Enron. All 300 million Americans are potential victims. Read More. L: I’m familiar with Scrooge McDuck, but not all of our readers might be, so perhaps you should fill them in on the Disney reference. Doug: Donald Duck is better known, but he had three nephews and a phenomenally wealthy uncle of his own, named Scrooge McDuck. Uncle Scrooge is one of the great heroes of Western literature. He’s a miser, but he’s innovative and an adventurer, with a very good heart. That’s shown in all of the stories about him – he didn’t have to be transformed, as Dickens’ Scrooge had to be; rather, it was an essential part of his character. I remember one story in which he took Donald and the boys on an adventure to Alaska – he was always taking Donald and the boys on fantastic adventures all around the world – and had to make a choice between saving his sled dog, Barko, and saving the sled, which had a treasure on it. He chose the dog, which was typical of him. This is a positive image, one I wish were much more celebrated than Dickens’s caricature. L: And he created value. How many jobs did Scrooge McDuck create, feeding families all around the world? He had mines, as I recall, and factories and office buildings, always clean and modern. Doug: That’s exactly right. Scrooge McDuck embodies the true, creative, life-giving spirit of the holiday, if you ask me. L: [Laughs] You don’t have children; do you actually deck the halls? Doug: Well, I’ll be in Buenos Aires this time, and it’s a bit odd to decorate a tree with tinsel or fake snow in the middle of South American summer, but sure, I’ll get a tree; why not? L: So, when people sneer at you for being a rich Scrooge, your reply, with pride, is: “Yes, but Scrooge McDuck!” Doug: Right. The right Scrooge, the sound one, is my model. Doug Casey is a multi-millionaire speculator and the founder of Casey Research. He literally wrote the book on profiting during economic turmoil. Doug’s book, Crisis Investing, spent multiple weeks as number one on The New York Times best sellers list and was the best-selling financial book of 1980. Doug has been a regular guest on national television, including spots on CNN, Merv Griffin, Charlie Rose, Regis Philbin, Phil Donahue, and NBC News. Doug and his team of analysts write The Casey Report, one of the world’s most respected investment advisories. Each month, The Casey Report provides specific, actionable ideas to help subscribers make money in stocks, bonds, currencies, real estate, and commodities. You can try out The Casey Report risk-free by clicking here. — Recommended Links
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
The minister for disabled people has failed six times to explain which minister and government department campaigners should approach to lobby about the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).Justin Tomlinson was asked by the disabled peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell to tell disabled people which minister had responsibility for ILF and “over-arching decision-making power” on the fallout from the fund’s closure.Tomlinson and two other ministers were giving evidence to the Equality Act 2010 and disability committee, which is conducting an inquiry for the House of Lords into the impact of the act on disabled people.Tomlinson (pictured, at the hearing) appeared to accept her suggestion that one department ought to have “ultimate responsibility” but he then told Baroness Campbell that it “depends on which angle you come from” if someone wanted to know which minister was responsible for the issue.He said the Department for Communities and Local Government was responsible for the local authorities that deliver social care; the Department of Health was responsible for policy relating to the Care Act 2014; his department, work and pensions, was responsible for former ILF-users and for keeping “a watching brief” and meeting with stakeholders; while the Treasury decided “ongoing funding”.ILF was funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and when it closed on 30 June it was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.But ministers decided it should be scrapped, promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred through DCLG to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.In her fourth attempt to secure an answer to her question, Baroness Campbell said: “Who do disabled people go to when they want to collaborate and to help with the reforms in this area?“Do you not think that this leaves disabled people confused and very much torn between departments?”In her fifth attempt to seek clarity, Baroness Campbell told Tomlinson: “We all know the UN committee has come over here because it was brought to their attention that the ILF and the [closure] decision was a possible contravention of article 19 [of the UN disability convention].“Obviously it is an incredibly important issue, so who is the minister responsible who makes the final decision on this?”Tomlinson said ministers “strongly contest the allegations that were made to the UN”, but he said the UN committee’s ongoing work was confidential.And he claimed that there were “stronger protections” for former ILF-users since the closure than there had been under the fund, which had been “discretionary”, and he said that “local provision was far better to match those local needs”.Two months ago, Disability News Service reported how more than a quarter of disabled people who previously received ILF support in one local authority area had had their social care packages cut by at least half since it closed.Baroness Campbell pushed Tomlinson for a sixth time, and asked: “Who would you advise the disability lobby to go to when they want to negotiate on the ILF?“Which minister, because it’s jolly well not fair to ask them to go to all four?”Tomlinson then repeated his explanation of the different roles played by the four departments.When she asked him if he was “monitoring” the ILF closure situation, he replied: “Very much.”Baroness Campbell asked the minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan – who is also the education secretary – what role the Government Equalities Office had played in the decision to close ILF.And she asked whether more “proactive” involvement by the GEO could have prevented the policy failures that led to the government losing the first judicial review of the closure decision in November 2013.Morgan promised to find out whether any GEO officials were involved in giving advice to DWP.But Tomlinson said DWP did not believe that greater involvement by GEO would have had an impact on the decision to close ILF.
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 7 2019Obesity is a major public-health problem in the United States and around the world, with an estimated 650 million people suffering from the condition. One of the biggest challenges of this ever-worsening condition is figuring out why people become obese in the first place, and why some people are more vulnerable to obesity than others.Now, scientists at The Rockefeller University and collaborators have identified a genetic mechanism that may play a role in at least 10 percent of all obesity cases. The findings, which could help identify individuals with treatable forms of the condition, shed new light on the biology of the hormone leptin, which is produced in fat cells and controls hunger. The amount of leptin in the bloodstream, and how the brain responds to it, help determine how much weight a person will gain.The scientists report this week in Nature Medicine that, in mice, alterations in the cellular machinery that regulates leptin production can lead to a form of obesity treatable with leptin therapy. Evidence from human genetics studies further suggests that a similar mechanism may contribute to obesity in a subset of patients.How leptin is finetuned Discovered 25 years ago by Rockefeller scientist Jeffrey M. Friedman, the Marilyn M. Simpson Professor, leptin has been the subject of many thousands of studies exploring its structure and function. “We’ve learned a lot about leptin,” says Olof Dallner, research associate and lead author of the new report, “but we didn’t actually understand the basic biology of what regulates the leptin gene.”The gene coding for the leptin hormone is regulated by adjacent DNA sequences and regulatory factors that turn the gene on in fat cells, and that also controls the amount of leptin being made. As they explored this process, Dallner and his colleagues zeroed in on one of these regulatory factors, called a long non-coding RNA, or lncRNA, which they identified together with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania.When the researchers engineered mice without this specific lncRNA and fed them a high-fat diet, the mice became obese, but their fat cells produced significantly lower amounts of leptin. This unusual finding suggested to the scientists that the leptin gene could not express normal levels of the hormone without the lncRNA to help it along. In comparison, a group of unaltered control mice fed the same diet gained weight and produced the expected amount of leptin.Moreover, when these low-leptin mice were treated with injections of leptin, they lost weight–in other words, the hormone essentially cured them. And that, the researchers say, raises the exciting possibility that some humans whose obesity is caused by a similar genetic anomaly could also lose weight with leptin therapy. (A pharmaceutical form of leptin was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2014.)Related StoriesStudy: Treatment of psychosis can be targeted to specific genetic mutationStudy: Causes of anorexia are likely metabolic and psychologicalGenetic contribution to distractibility helps explain procrastinationThe fact that there may be obese people with such potentially leptin-curbing mutations was suggested by analyzing data from a large study, known as a genome-wide association study (GWAS), that included the complete genetic profiles of more than 46,000 people. Together with collaborators at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Rockefeller team found that people with alterations in the human version of the lncRNA had lower leptin levels.A potentially-treatable subtype of obesity The number of obese people whose disease may be the result of the dysregulation of the leptin gene is not known, Dallner says, but there is reason to believe it could contribute to as many as 10 percent of all obesity cases.For Dallner, who spent the better part of nine years working on the project, the heterogeneity of the obese population–the fact that different people are obese for different reasons–is the most interesting takeaway from the research. “The important part for me is that we set out to study the leptin gene in mice, and we ended up concluding that different mechanisms can cause obesity in humans,” he says.Most obese people, he explains, become resistant to leptin (which would normally curb their appetites) because they have a lot of fat. Fat cells produce high amounts of leptin and, as the hormone accumulates, the brain appears to stop responding to it.”But there is a large subset of humans who are obese and still are relatively low in leptin,” Dallner says. “We now think that many of them may have these or similar gene variants that affect the expression of the leptin gene. This gives them less leptin from an early age, making them a little bit hungrier than everyone else.”These people remain sensitive to the hormone, however, and early clinical studies have shown that obese people with low leptin levels do in fact lose a significant amount of weight when treated with leptin. But the possible mechanisms underlying such cases were not understood, until now.Dallner says that while the exact interplay between lncRNA and the leptin gene remains unclear, there is no doubt that the two are connected. “When we studied the lncRNA, we realized it was completely co-regulated with leptin. It’s expressed where leptin is expressed. When leptin is down the lncRNA is down, and vice versa. That was really the key moment, when I saw that and thought, ‘Something is really going on here.'” Source:https://www.rockefeller.edu/news/25265-scientists-identify-genetic-factors-may-cause-people-become-obese/