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Philippine army says taking fire from women, children in Marawi battle

September 4, 2017 rbksa 0
Mon, 2017-09-04 09:54

MARAWI CITY: Philippine troops fighting Islamic State-linked rebels in a southern city have encountered armed resistance from women and children, the military said on Monday, as troops make a final push to end a conflict that has raged for more than 100 days.
Ground forces were braced for higher casualties amid fierce fighting in Marawi City on the island of Mindanao, where the field of battle has shrank to a small area in a commercial heart infested with snipers, and littered with booby traps.
“We are now in the final phase of our operations and we are expecting more intense and bloody fighting. We may suffer heavier casualties as the enemy becomes more desperate,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, who heads the military in Western Mindanao, told reporters.
He said the number of fighters was diminishing and a small number of women and children, most likely family members of the rebels, were now engaged in combat.
“Our troops in the field are seeing women and children shooting at our troops so that’s why it seems they are not running out of fighters.”
More than 800 people have been killed in the battle, most of them insurgents, since May 23 when the militants occupied large parts of the predominantly Muslim town.
The battle is the biggest security challenge in years for the mostly Catholic Philippines, even though it has a long history of Muslim separatist rebellion in Mindanao, an island of 22 million people that has been placed under martial law until the end of the year.
The protracted clashes and resilience of the rebels has fanned fears that Philippine groups loyal to Islamic State, and with ties to Indonesian and Malaysian militants, have formed an alliance that is well-organized, funded and armed, and serious about carving out its own territory in Mindanao.
Citing information provided by four hostages who had escaped from the rebels, Galvez said there were some 56 Christian hostages — most of them women — and about 80 male residents may have been forced to take up arms and fight the military.
The fighting was concentrated in an area around a mosque about a quarter of a square kilometer. He said soldiers were taking control of an average 35 buildings a day and at that rate, it could be three weeks before the city was under government control.
Fighting in Marawi was intense on Monday, with heavy gunfire and explosions ringing out across the picturesque, lakeside town, the heart of which has been devastated by near-daily government air strikes.
Helicopters circled above to provide air cover for ground troops as fighting raged, with bursts of smoke rising above the skyline as bombs landed on rebel positions.
Galvez said intelligence showed the rebels’ military commander, Abdullah Maute, may have been killed last month in an air strike.
Postings on Facebook and chatter over the past two days on Telegram, a messaging application used by Islamic State and its sympathizers, had carried tributes to Abdullah, referring to him by one of his pseudonyms, he said.
“There is no 100 percent confirmation until we see his cadaver but this is enough to presume he died already,” he said.
The military has contradictory statements about the status of the rebel leaders over the past few months.
Abdullah Maute and brother Omarkhayam are the Middle East-educated leaders of a militant clan known as the Maute group that has gained notoriety in the past two years due to its ability to engage the army for long periods.
Under the name Dawla Islamiya, the Maute group has formed an alliance with Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of a pro-Islamic State faction of another group, Abu Sayyaf.
Galvez said the army’s intelligence indicated both Omarkhayam and Hapilon, Islamic State’s anointed “emir” in Southeast Asia, were still in the Marawi battle.

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Ex-Netanyahu aide and top officers arrested in submarine probe

September 4, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Police made a fresh round of arrests early Sunday, detaining a former official from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and several military officers in connection to the ongoing corruption investigation into a multi-million dollar purchase of naval vessels from Germany. The arrest of the six comes following the police testimony of Miki Ganor, the Israeli agent of German shipbuilder ThyssenKryupp, who turned state’s witness in the investigation. Among those detained were also several senior IDF officers as part of an ongoing investigation into the so-called “Case 3000,” or the “submarine affair.” A police statement on Sunday confirmed the arrests, and said they had their homes and offices searched “in order to apprehend documents relevant to the investigation.” It said the […]

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Visualizing The Unparalleled Explosion In Cryptocurrencies

September 4, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After the massive Bitcoin price surge in November 2013, the popularity of launching new cryptocurrencies took off along with it.

In fact, as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, if you go back at historical snapshots around that time, you’ll see that there were literally hundreds of new coins available to mine and buy. Here’s one from November 2014 – a time when there were only 32 coins that were worth more than $1 million in market cap, and 354 coins that were worth less than $50,000, usually trading for tiny fractions of a cent.

It seems like everyone and their dog were launching cryptocurrencies back then, even if they were a longshot to materialize into anything.

Then vs. Now

Fast forward to today, and things haven’t changed much – many people and companies are still launching new cryptocurrencies through a mechanism known as an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).

The only difference?

Today, there is real money at play, and in 12 months the number of cryptocurrencies worth >$1 million has soared by 468%. Meanwhile, the total value of all currencies together has skyrocketed by 1,466%.

Cryptocurrency is so hot, in fact, that raising money through ICOs has become more effective than traditional early-stage angel and VC funding.

For the long-time advocates of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it is now their moment in the sun.

And with this ICO activity and a wealth of opportunities emerging, a new breed of Bitcoin millionaire has been born. Like the wealthy tech founders that exit and give back to their local startup ecosystems, these new digital tycoons are using their newfound wealth to invest in upstart crypto projects that show potential – ultimately, further enhancing the ecosystem.

Out of the Woodwork

Of course, whenever there is a massive surge in prices and speculation, there are two other players that tend to come out of the woodwork.

One is of the scammer and shyster variety, and certainly crypto-fueled scams are a concern for everyone else in the broader ecosystem.

Perhaps even a bigger threat, however, are the regulators – and in recent weeks the SEC has voiced concerns about ICO “pump and dump” schemes, while Canadian authorities have clearly stated that “most ICOs need oversight”.

With the market exploding with hundreds of new cryptocurrencies and the total value reaching $177 billion, a new series of questions has emerged: what risk do ICO scams ultimately have on market? And, could misguided regulation disrupt the momentum of the crypto boom?

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist


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Why the US Dollar is About to Go Up, and the Euro Isn’t.

September 4, 2017 Fibozachi 0

After 8-months of persistent decline (-11.75%), the US Dollar ($DXY) appears poised for a strong technical bounce across daily, weekly and monthly timeframes.
With $DXY’s 92.63 monthly close, August 2017’s end likely marked an 8-month high-…

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<b>Crude Oil</b> Down After Hurricane

September 4, 2017 0

The prices for the crude oil remained struggling last week as backfire from the Harvey hurricane continues to weigh the market down. Texas took a …The post <b>Crude Oil</b> Down After Hurricane appeared first on
The p…

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Norway’s Big Fish Story

September 4, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Submitted by Nick Kamran – Letters from Norway

Decision Season

With Parliamentary elections looming, more Norwegians than usual are asking themselves the tough questions. It is now apparent that the slump in oil is not a temporary one. What will the country do now? Time for the lottery winner, after receiving the last annuity, to get a job before burning out the savings. Many are looking towards the sea, fishing and exploiting underwater natural resources. Others are looking to blast open the mountains to do the same.

However, commodity based economies, third-world in nature, are subject to mother nature’s whims, innovation, and ruthless competition.  Moreover, it creates complacency, catching the nation off guard when there is a shift in the supply curve (instead of hitting peak oil, the opposite happened). Hence, the decisions or lack thereof, made during the next four years will impact future generations. Two generations of Norwegians grew up on the delusion that their society, built on pre-socialist values and high oil prices, can endure any challenge. 

Fund’s withdraws could accelerate amid a global financial crisis: politicians burning cash to shore up the economy and secure votes.

Burn Rate

Taking the sovereign wealth fund (The Fund) for granted, many fail to realize that the underlying investments are all pinned to the prevailing low-interest rate climate. If inflation gets out of control and rates must be pushed up to cut it off, the effect on stock and bond values could be substantial.

Norwegian GDP growth correlates to oil prices.

Currently, assuming constant tax revenues, budget and oil fund value, Norway is in great shape: able to fill the budget gap for the next 30 years. But then what? Also, one must ask, how often do assumptions, which depend on everything remaining constant, endure the test of time? Is it possible to dodge a decade’s worth of black swans, some of which haven’t even been born yet? Based on observation, most believe that a miracle will happen, like it did in the past (stumbling onto one of the largest oil reserves just offshore), or the situation will just work itself out.

The New Normal

Yesterday’s lows are today’s highs: far off the $70/barrel required to balance the budget.  Technology turned oil, a once scarce resource, into an abundant commodity.

Rising rig counts rose, in the latest months, despite flat to downward trending oil prices, indicate lower break-even prices.

The technology from the American Energy Renaissance, is going global, offering all nations additional options, regarding energy sources. In addition to continuously improving fracking technology, clean coal, natural gas, wind, and geo-thermal sources, further reducing the need for imported hydrocarbons.   

The Fish Story vs. Reality

Although many Norwegian leaders believe that the nation can switch from one commodity to another, fish cannot replace oil.  However, the Norwegian Salmon’s strong brand equity could be diminished by increased on production on the back of industrial techniques. Moreover, commodity production, especially this kind, can be replicated worldwide.

The coastlines of the UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Chile, Maine, Alaska, Japan, and Russia offer similar habitats, suitable for fish farming, like those of coastal Norway.  Moreover, fish farming is not rocket science. The required equipment is available on Alibaba.  Perhaps that’s where Salmar bought their latest system.

Sources: Statistics Norway: and Fish Information and Services (

In addition to the law of supply and demand realities, new entrants joining the marketplace as long as profit opportunity exists, industrial fish farming offers a new set of problems:

  • Sea Lice poses one of the greatest challenges. Concentrated and congested in relatively small pens, the critters spread quickly, contaminating entire batches. Although the lice itself is not harmful to humans, it kills the fish. Currently, the Norwegian Ministry of Food and Industry states that there is a high risk of fish dying from lice between Karmøy and Sotra. Sometime soon, they will have a color code system (red, yellow, or green), overlaying a map of the nation’s coastlines, indicating risk levels.
  • Escapes post a major environmental hazard similar to that of Kudzu in the American South. When the genetically engineered (GMO) fish find their way into the open seas, they inevitably breed with the wild fish, weakening and mutating them. Based on a recent study, the problem is widespread.

Scientists tested half the rivers in Norway and found that every wild Atlantic Salmon population contains significant “Frankenstein” genes, introduced by the GMOs.  Escapes happen when storms tear open the containment nets, freeing hundreds of thousands of Salmon. Also, sloppy handlers and smolt (baby salmon) can slip out of containment system. The problem was so widespread in 2013 after a major “jailbreak”, which freed 127,000 fish, that a major fish producer offered a bounty: $90 per recaptured fish.

Nutritional differences exist between farm raised and natural salmon. Source:
Alexandra Morton – an activist in Canada. Norwegian salmon distinguishes and defines itself on quality. Mass production could diminish that advantage. 

Fish, especially Salmon, are an important component to the Norwegian economy but considering the public expenditure, marketplace competition, and industry risks outlined above, it will not carry the country forward.

Debt Fueled Economy

Nevertheless, Norway continues to party on.  The nearly trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund can carry the nation forward until they find a strategic replacement to oil: but for how long?

Norwegian consumers are some of the most indebted in the world while the national government runs accelerating deficits in the face of a declining oil industry.  Source: and the Norwegian Ministry of Finance

There are risks that could shorten that ability. Consumer debt, fueled by excessively low interest rates and rapidly growing money supply as well as a widening budget gap, could stoke a crisis. Such a crisis, generally international in nature, could also hit asset prices in a time of need, reducing the lead time from 30 years to perhaps 10. Imagine withdrawals accelerate while The Fund’s value takes a hit from a major stock market pullback and bursting of the bond bubble?

Source: M1 ,M2 & M3 Money Supply Aggregates. It is quite apparent that once issued, currency is hard to take back. Norwegians are not supposed to discuss this but rather just trust in Norges Bank.

Sadly, very few Norwegians understand the underlying economics tied to their prosperity, blindly believing the headlines and Central Bank headline statements.  Who is richer, the guy with a new BMW bought on credit or the used Chevy bought with cash? Culturally, there is a lot of public trust in Norges Bank (The Norwegian Central Bank) and the mainstream media.  No one appears to question the consequences of simultaneously persistent negative real interest rates and rising in money supply (systematic currency destruction and standard of living degradation).

Based on street level observations and conversations with the politicians, campaigning for the September 11, 2017 general election, it appears that “kick the can down the road” is the way to go.  Politics is the art of delaying a decision until it is no longer relevant. Hence, they could burn this fund out, trying to buy votes for the next elections, taking place every two years (alternating national and local elections every two years).

The Critical Need for Leadership vs. Management

Generally, Norwegians are overly skeptical, unimaginative, and cautious, hindering their ability to innovate and invent on a grand scale.  Letting a generation slide by without thinking about the future affirms that. There is no industry stepping in to cover oil, revealed in the trade figures above.

Instead of investigating the facts about the Paris Agreement, Norwegian leaders jumped on the bandwagon, signing the speculative and flawed agreement because everyone else did.

Europeans love per-capita statistics. Very few nations can compete with Minnesota in innovation.

Instead, they should have used their influential position, regarding environmental issues, to question the underlying science.  The agreement is based on speculation and voluntary compliance by third-world nations, still struggling with human rights and corruption. If Trump had not withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, the world would have become complacent, believing the environmental crisis was solved.  Essentially, they would have falsely believed that India could enforce the rules.

On paper and at the UN, such nations can say anything. However, the reality on the ground is very different.  Considering India’s massive population and the public sector pay scale, individual factories will operate “business as usual,” paying bribes to the uninterested civil servants, getting them off their back. It is naïve to think otherwise. 

Living in Northern Brazil for a brief time, I personally witnessed farmers and ranchers blatantly cut down rain forest, despite the rules, to expand grazing land. Hence, Russia and China will outright lie.  Then, twenty years from now, we will be in the midst of an environmental disaster, caused by unaccounted third-world development.

Remember, that Hitler’s Germany, built up a military in secret, unleashing it on the world by surprise. The solution to climate change and environmental havoc requires much more than a piece of paper designed to crippled American development to the benefit of third world nations.

Therefore, the Paris Agreement would have doomed the planet, offering a delusion that problem had been “solved” after signing. Much needed attention to the environment would have been diverted to something trivial like removing offensive statues.  Environmental issues go far beyond emissions. It also includes plastic in the oceans, clean drinking water, and deforestation in India, Africa, and South America.  

The Paris Agreement forgot those issues. Our allies should have seen through this fallacy and expressed interest in real solutions, especially the Norwegians.

Thor’s Hammer

Hence, Norwegians need to elect a decisive “Viking like leader.” Someone with lofty ambitions and ideals who is daring, seizing the opportunity with Thorium. The land of fire and ice not only holds around 15% of the world’s thorium supply but also leads in reactor technology development. Thor Energy (Halden, Norway) is in the second phase of a five-year trial, validating the viability as a commercial energy source.

This technology offers the basis to a comprehensive environmental solution that would not only cover emissions but also take care of ocean plastic, deforestation, and chronic poverty. Integrating it with other existing Norwegian technologies: shipbuilding (Aker), automated garbage sorting (Tomra Systems), autonomous systems (Kongsberg Defense) and heavy engineering (Kongsberg Maritime) and working with North African leaders, Norwegian industry could fill the massive Sahara Desert with water, terraforming it into a lush rain forest and vast fields.

The Genesis of New Greenland

Running massive Thorium powered desalinization plants, pumping water into the dessert underground over the next 100+ years, vegetation and eventually forests could take root. A new society would emerge, built on green values and sustainable technologies. That concept would do more to ensure our planets survival than a piece of paper, written by professional politicians intended to upend America. 

But how could we make this happen? It would require the massive integration of existing technologies and proven concepts:

The massive dessert, larger than the United States, was once a rain forest, recycling massive amount of CO2. Thorium technologies could restore that quicker than the Paris Agreement could lower temperatures by .5 degrees over the same time period.

  • Ship Building: Norway is already a leader in specialty ships and the floating nuclear reactor concept has been around for over 50 years. Once the people in Halden industrialize the Thorium concept, they can mount the reactors onto highly automated ships, ensuring safety, security, efficiency. 

Two types of ships are needed. The first would be one that generates electricity and desalinizes seawater. The second type would collect ocean plastic, turning into drip irrigation equipment.  

  • Electricity created by the onboard powerplant could be delivered from ship to shore by undersea cable, directly into a modern grid.
  • Desalinization technology, using excess heat generated by nuclear powerplants, already exists. For the past 20+ years, India, Japan, and Kazakhstan have been doing this on an industrial scale. 
  • Drip Irrigation tubing, pipes, and other fixtures can be made from recycled ocean plastic onboard a thorium powered ship as it collects plastic from the massive Pacific Ocean plastic patch (it is the size of Mexico). Water would be delivered by pipeline from the shipboard plant to shore, distributed underground and directly to the plant root systems.

Israel has already proven that drip irrigation works: growing crops in the dessert with almost 90% less water than by open air.

Drip Irrigation in Libya, sourcing water from an underground aquifer. It would be better to use purified seawater, preserving the underground systems. Therefore, It is already possible to
grow forests in the desert with this technology.

  • Modular Housing Components, also made from ocean plastic onboard the Thorium powered collections ships, could provide a place to live for many of the worlds displaced people and SJW’s. The houses could be covered in Earth and vegetation protecting residents from the elements in a cost-efficient manner.  Those same people could also work in the field cultivating various crops for export and consumption, making this model sustainable.

Dirt prefabricated homes – Green Magic Homes Over time, the dessert above in Libya could look like this. Eventually a rainforest canopy could take root, furthering the reduction of carbon-dioxide.

The rainforests throughout the world act as our planet’s lungs, cycling carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Hence, this concept would not only clean up the ocean but also turn the dessert into a rain forest over the next few hundred years, permanently and naturally balancing carbon dioxide instead of depending on human compliance.

The question is who would pay for it and what would be the return?

  • National government funds in Europe set aside for refugees could be spent on making them a new nation, which they will have a part in building and take pride in.
  • Bored billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and George Soros who supposedly want to do some good in the world.
  • Multi-National Corporations that supported the Paris Agreement and oppose President Trump.
  • The return would be from crop and electricity exports as well as tourism.  In addition, this new nation would be leaders in ocean plastic recycling innovation, selling housing solutions throughout the world. Norway could be at the forefront as an investor and benefactor.  


The greatest consequences of Nordic socialism are how it instills a lack of courage and imagination when facing global problems. For such a system to work, people must be mostly compliant and amicable. Currently, Norway can manage the economic shift by drawing from The Fund but I would hope that they want to do more than just get by. It is obvious that betting on fish is a bad idea.

However, culture of modesty and skepticism holds them back. Norway needs to think big if it wants to maintain the standard of living for future generations. They need to move beyond apps and electronic gadgets to true innovation: the kind that changes the world.  

Think about that when voting on September 11, 2017!


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AU: 0.5621 SDR = 1 AUD 2017-09-04 RBA 4.00 pm Eastern Australian time

AUD/SDR representative rate as at 4.00 pm Eastern Australian time on 04 Sep 2017. The value of the Special Drawing Right is calculated by the International Monetary Fund on the basis of a weighted basket of four currencies – US dollar, European euro, J…

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