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  1. Site: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
    0 sec ago
    Since the Council, an idea has been spreading that Judaism is not superseded by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ; that Jews still have available to them the Covenant of the old Law, by which they can be saved. It is therefore unnecessary for them to turn to Christ; unnecessary for anybody to convert them to faith in Christ. Indeed, attempting to do so is an act of aggression not dissimilar to theFr John Hunwickehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17766211573399409633noreply@blogger.com11
  2. Site: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
    0 sec ago
    S Paul loved his fellow Jews, his 'kinsmen' and believed "the gifts and call of God are irrevocable". He believed that at the End, those among them who had rejected Christ would be brought in to the chosen people. He believed that they were like olive branches which had been cut off so that the Gentiles, wild olive branches, could be grafted in. But, when the fulness of the Gentiles had entered Fr John Hunwickehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17766211573399409633noreply@blogger.com3
  3. Site: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
    0 sec ago
    Lex orandi lex credendi. I have been examining the Two Covenant Dogma: the fashionable error that God's First Covenant, with the Jews, is still fully and salvifically valid, so that the call to saving faith in Christ Jesus is not made to them. The 'New' Covenant, it is claimed, is now only for Gentiles. I want to draw attention at this point to the witness of the post-Conciliar Magisterium of theFr John Hunwickehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17766211573399409633noreply@blogger.com13
  4. Site: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
    0 sec ago
    We have seen that the Two Covenant Theory, the idea that Jewry alone is guaranteed Salvation without any need to convert to Christ, is repugnant to Scripture, to the Fathers, even to the post-Conciliar liturgy of the Catholic Church. It is also subversive of the basic grammar of the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments. Throughout  two millennia, in Scripture, in Liturgy, in her Fr John Hunwickehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17766211573399409633noreply@blogger.com7
  5. Site: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
    0 sec ago
    The sort of people who would violently reject the points I am making are the sort of people who would not be impressed by the the Council of Florence. So I am going to confine myself to the Magisterium from the time of Pius XII ... since it is increasingly coming to be realised that the continuum of processes which we associate with the Conciliar and post-Conciliar period was already in operationFr John Hunwickehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17766211573399409633noreply@blogger.com0
  6. Site: Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
    0 sec ago
    In 1980, addressing a Jewish gathering in Germany, B John Paul II said (I extract this from a long sentence): " ... dialogue; that is, the meeting between the people of the Old Covenant (never revoked by God, cf Romans 11:29) and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time ..." In 2013, Pope Francis, in the course of his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, also referred to the Old Fr John Hunwickehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17766211573399409633noreply@blogger.com10
  7. Site: Fr. Z's Blog
    1 hour 30 min ago
    Author: frz@wdtprs.com (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

    Once again this year I offer short daily podcasts to help you prepare for the upcoming feast as well as for your own, personal, meeting with the Lord.

    Here is ADVENTCAzT 14, for Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent

    These 5 minute offerings are a token of gratitude especially for my benefactors.  Thank you!

    Today we hear from Marcel Lefebvre about the Magnificat (hint: positive).  He has some things to say about liberals and modernists (hint: not positive).

    ADVENTCAzT 2018 14 [ 4:59 ] Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (1) podPressShowHidePlayer('1', 'http://wdtprs.com/blog/podpress_trac/play/105680/0/14_advent18.mp3', 290, 24, 'false', 'http://wdtprs.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/podpress/images/vpreview_center.png', 'ADVENTCAzT 2018 14', 'Fr John Zuhlsdorf');

    Have some Mystic Monk Coffee and have a listen!

    Chime in if you listened.

    PS: These podcasts should also be available through my iTunes feed, though maybe not immediately. Let me know how you are listening.  Through the plug in on this post? Through iTunes? Downloading?

  8. Site: The Catholic Thing
    2 hours 32 min ago
    Author: James V. Schall, S.J.

    In his 1939 lecture, The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, Abraham Flexner stressed the fact that great scientific discoveries were not necessarily made for their usefulness. They were rather the product of a “curiosity” that sought no rewards.

    In 2012, an exploratory device landed on the planet Mars. This contraption was named “Curiosity,” a fitting name. “Curiosity” is still functioning. A companion device arrived on the Martian surface in November 2018. The name, curiosity, incites our wonder: What is happening on that near-by but distant planet? Ought we to know these things?

    Most folks recall that curiosity “killed the cat.” A British rock band calls itself “Curiosity Killed the Cat.” In earlier versions of this saying, “care” killed Kitty, but “satisfaction” brought her back again. The saying cautioned uninhibited inquisitiveness.

    What’s behind those closed doors? Some things it’s best not to know. Freda-Marie Hartung and Britta Renner studied the relation of social curiosity and gossip. The latter seems more focused on entertainment, while the former just wants to know things. “Curiosity killed the cat” seems unrelated to “cats have nine lives.”

    In the New York Times (November 14, 2009), Stanley Fish recalled a lecture given at the University of Virginia by James Leach, then Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Looking over the life of UVA’s founder, Leach thought that “curiosity” would be a good word to describe the inquisitiveness to know just about everything that Thomas Jefferson displayed in his life. Leach even wanted to make “curiosity” a natural “right,” as if the word had no pejorative overtones.

    But Fish had read the Bible, Aquinas, and Newman. He was aware of another tradition that was hesitant to embrace curiosity as an unmitigated virtue or right. The Chinese surveillance of every aspect of its people’s lives represents the downside of curiosity.

    The real mother of curiosity, as Fish recalled, was our first parent, Eve. She was curious to know why she was not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So she was willing to find out by turning to a famous Serpent who told her: “No worry. You were lied to. You won’t die.”

    Needless to say, Eve’s curiosity eventually did kill her, and evidently the rest of us to boot. And we are still curious about the forbidden fruit. We keep setting up our own definitions of what is good and what is evil. Our curiosity makes us wonder why our schemes do not work.

    *

    Aquinas, unsurprisingly, devotes some pages to curiosity (ST I-II, 167). He was curious about curiosity. We spend much time and money educating ourselves. Yet in academia today, we limit ourselves to certain ideas that are dubbed “politically correct.” We are curious about how this restriction of knowledge came about in institutions that are in theory designed to be open to all that is. As Aquinas says, just seeking knowledge is not a completely neutral activity.

    Curiosity, it turns out, is not so much about knowledge as such but about “desire and study in the pursuit of knowledge.” Knowledge as such is good but it can be evil in virtue of the reasons we have in pursuing it. It easily leads to pride, the most dangerous of vices.

    We are curious to acquire knowledge of something or someone in order that “we might sin.” Aquinas even notes that the looking lustfully at someone can fall under a curiosity that needs to be controlled. In today’s world of “rights,” both lust and sodomy use curiosity to accomplish their disordered purposes.

    The Latin words that Aquinas uses are curiositas and studiositas. Alice Ramos points out that they differ as vice does to virtue. The virtue, studiositas, means the pursuit of reality in order to know and express it. Curiositas means using our knowledge for some other purpose. In this latter context, we are not interested in knowledge for its truth, for its own sake, but as a means to some less noble end.

    In responding to an objection, Aquinas gives his understanding of curiosity. He refers to the philosophers. “The study of philosophy,” he tells us:

    is in itself lawful and commendable, on account of the truth which philosophers acquired through God revealing it to them. . . .Since, however, certain philosophers misuse truth in order to assail the faith, the Apostle (Paul) says: “Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to the traditions of men and not according to Christ,” and Dionysius says of certain philosophers that they make an unholy use of divine things against that which is divine, and by divine wisdom strive to destroy the worship of God.

    The ultimate aberration of philosophy is that it can use revelation to destroy both reason and revelation. We should be indeed curious about how this aberration could happen.

    And thanks for your generosity.

    *Image: Curioser and curioser: The Cheshire Cat by Sir John Tenniel, 1865 [an original illustration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland]

    The post On Curiosity appeared first on The Catholic Thing.

  9. Site: Zero Hedge
    2 hours 47 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    We are the Little Folk—we!

    Too little to love or to hate.

    Leave us alone and you’ll see

    How we can drag down the State!

    A Pict Song, Rudyard Kipling

    Belgium has joined the list of countries that are rebelling against their elected leadership. Over the weekend the Belgian government fell over Prime Minister Charles Michel’s trip to Morocco to sign the United Nations Migration Agreement. The agreement made no distinction between legal and illegal migrants and regarded immigration as a positive phenomenon. The Belgian people apparently did not agree. Facebook registered 1,200 Belgians agreeing that the Prime Minister was a traitor. Some users expressed concern for their children’s futures, noting that Belgian democracy is dead. Others said they would get yellow vests and join the protests.

    The unrest witnessed in a number of places is focused on some specific demands but it represents much broader anger. The French yellow vests initially protested against proposed increases in fuel taxes that would have affected working people dependent on transportation disproportionately. But when that demand was met by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, the demonstrations continued and even grew, suggesting that the grievances with the government were far more extensive than the issue of a single new tax. Perhaps not surprisingly, the French government is seeking for a scapegoat and is investigating “Russian interference.” The US State Department inevitably agrees, claiming that Kremlin directed websites and social media are “amplifying the conflict.”

    Some commentators looking somewhat more deeply at the riots in France have even suggested that the real issue just might be regime change, that the Macron government had become so disconnected with many of the voters through both its policies and the rhetoric justifying them that it had lost its legitimacy and there was no possibility of redemption. Any change would have to be an improvement, particularly as a new regime would be particularly sensitive to the sentiments of those being governed, at least initially. One might suggest that the prevailing sentiment that a radical change in government is needed, come what may, to shake up the system might well be called the “Trump phenomenon” as that is more-or-less what happened in the United States.

    The idea that republican or democratic government will eventually deteriorate into some form of tyranny is not exactly new. Thomas Jefferson advocated a new revolution every generation to keep the spirit of government accountable to the people alive.

    Call it what you will – neoliberalism, neoconservatism or globalism – the new world order, as recently deceased President George H.W. Bush once labeled it, characteristically embraces a world community in which there is free trade, free movement of workers and democracy. They all sound like good things but they are authoritarian in nature, destructive of existing communities and social systems while at the same time enriching those who promote the changes. They have also been the root cause of most of the wars fought since the Second World War, wars to “liberate” people who never asked to be invaded or bombed as part of the process.

    And there are, of course, major differences between neoliberals and neoconservatives in terms of how one brings about the universal nirvana, with the liberals embracing some kind of process whereby the transformation takes place because it represents what they see, perhaps cynically, as the moral high ground and is recognized as being the right thing to do. The neocons, however, seek to enforce what they define as international standards because the United States has the power to do so in a process that makes it and its allies impossible to challenge. The latter view is promoted under the phony slogan that “Democracies do not fight other democracies.”

    The fact that globalists of every type consider nationalism a threat to their broader ambitions has meant that parochial or domestic interests are often disregarded or even rejected. With that in mind, and focusing on two issues – wholesale unwelcome immigration and corrupt government run by oligarchs – one might reasonably argue that large numbers of ordinary citizens now believe themselves to be both effectively disenfranchised and demonstrably poorer as rewarding work becomes harder to find and communities are destroyed through waves of both legal and illegal immigration.

    In the United States, for example, most citizens now believe that the political system does not work at all while almost none think that even when it does work it operates for the well-being of all the citizens. For the first time since the Great Depression, Americans no longer think of upward mobility. Projections by sociologists and economists suggest that the current generation growing up in the United States will likely be materially poorer than their parents. That angst and the desire to “do something” to make government more responsive to voters’ interests is why Donald Trump was elected president.

    What has been occurring in Belgium, France, with Brexit in Britain, in the recent election in Italy, and also in the warnings coming from Eastern Europe about immigration and European Union community economic policies are driven by the same concerns that operated in America. Government itself is becoming the enemy. And let us not forget the countries that have already felt the lash and been subjected to the social engineering of Angela Merkel – Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece. All are weaker economies crushed by the one size fits all of the EURO, which eliminated the ability of some governments to manage their own economies. They and all their citizens are poorer for it.

    There have been windows in history when the people have had enough abuse and so rise up in revolt. The American and French revolutions come to mind as does 1848. Perhaps we are experiencing something like that at the present time, a revolt against the pressure to conform to globalist values that have been embraced to their benefit by the elites and the establishment in much of the world. It could well become a hard fought and sometimes bloody conflict but its outcome will shape the next century. Will the people really have power in the increasingly globalized world or will it be the 1% with its government and media backing that emerges triumphant?

  10. Site: Zero Hedge
    3 hours 7 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    With 143 buildings 200 meters tall (660 feet) or higher constructed across the globe, 2018 was another hugely impressive year for skyscraper construction.

    As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, according to The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the total height of those buildings comes to 35,246 meters - exceeding the length of Manhattan Island if they were laid end-to-end.

    China is at the forefront of the boom in skyscraper construction, building 88 in total this year.

    You will find more infographics at Statista

    The Citic Tower in Beijing was the tallest building completed anywhere in the world in 2018. At 528 meters tall (1,732 feet), with 108 floors above ground, it's now the eighth-tallest building worldwide and the fourth the tallest in China. The second-tallest skyscraper of 2018 was the 469.5-meter-tall (1,540 feet) Vincom Landmark 81 in Ho Chi Minth City, Vietnam while another Chinese building comes third. The 452 meter high (1,483 feet) Changsha IFS Tower T1 was built in the city of Changsha.

    After China, the U.S. comes a distant second in the 2018 skyscraper league with 13 completions while the UAE comes third with 10.

    Due to China's skyward ambitions, Asia is the global hub of skyscraper construction, accounting for 76.2 percent of all completions this year. North America had an 11.2 percent share of the total while the Middle East and Africa had 9.1 percent.

  11. Site: Zero Hedge
    3 hours 27 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    Scientists have decided to publicly attempt a geoengineering experiment. The researchers from Harvard University are going to attempt to use particles to block out the sun in an attempt to save humanity from global warming, and cool the planet.

    According to Popular Mechanics, this incredibly bad-sounding idea seems like it stemmed from an actual event.  In 1991, the volcano Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines, sending millions of tons of ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. This layer of particulates actually lowered global temperatures by almost a full degree Fahrenheit for the following two years.

    Researchers speculated that by filling the atmosphere with a similar level of particulates that were shot into the sky during the 1991 eruption, while skipping the lava and explosions, they might be able to reduce global temperatures enough to halt or delay some of the more severe consequences of “climate change.”

    But even the most left-leaning of human beings are not on board with attempting to alter the global climate artificially. After all, isn’t that what the tyrants and political elitists the peons continue to vote for keep telling us was the problem in the first place?  Any small mistake could radically and permanently destroy the delicate ecosystems and global climates for centuries.

    In particular, one study published last year found that spraying particulates into the atmosphere around the Gulf of Mexico could trigger droughts in sub-Saharan Africa. But scientists are attempting to assure everyone that their test won’t have any major effect on the climate.

    The test allegedly consists of a high-altitude balloon that will fly several miles into the atmosphere and release less than a pound of calcium carbonate (a less harmful alternative to the sulfur dioxide produced by volcanoes) and then spend about a day flying through the resulting cloud to measure its effects. The purpose of this test is to figure out exactly how the substance behaves in our air so scientists can build more accurate simulations.

    Of course, others have gathered a wealth of evidence suggesting that climate manipulation is already occurring right under our noses. Dane Wigington has an entire website titled GeoengineeringWatch.org in which he publishes all of the evidence he’s collected proving that governments have been manipulated the weather for a long time.  In fact, they might be responsible for the very “climate change” they blame on the general public and make us all pay for.

  12. Site: Zero Hedge
    3 hours 47 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    The signs of a housing slowdown are starting to reach across New York City and the metro area. For instance, a new Bloomberg article talks about a home in Long Island that recently sat idly on the market until its taxes and its price were both moved lower. As we have already written about earlier this year, buyers in places like Connecticut are looking to rent houses – sometimes even for $10,000 a month – before buying them. Real estate brokers in the metro area and places like Hoboken are noticing business slow down.

    Greg Heym, chief economist of Terra Holdings, told Bloomberg:

     “Brokers ask me, ‘When is it going to get better? ‘Better’ for this market, in this area, is lower prices.”

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s high-rises in the city or homes in the suburbs: years of price appreciation, combined with caps on property tax deductions and rising rates are all guiding prices lower and slowing the market down.

    And this is indicative of a broader slowdown that’s occurring across the country. While home prices in other parts of the country haven’t slowed down tremendously, the rate of appreciation is starting to slip, especially in the metro New York area. Prices in the 12 counties including and surrounding New York City grew at only 4% in the third quarter compared to an overall price increase of 4.8% across the United States.

    The $10,000 limit on deductions for state and local taxes could be one of the reasons that New York is worse off than the rest of the country. 9 of the 10 US counties with the highest tax obligations are in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut.

    Daren Blomquist, Attom’s senior vice president stated:

     “Housing in general has quite a few headwinds right now, but the New York area is feeling the brunt of the headwinds. Counties with the slowest appreciation are the ones that tend to have the highest prices and the highest taxes.”

    Westchester County is number one on the list of high tax areas. In that county, single-family home sales were down for the fifth quarter in a row. Purchases in the Long Island suburbs were down for two of the last three quarters, including in Nassau County. Bergen County, New Jersey, which has the fourth highest tax burden in the country, showed a 6% drop in third-quarter sales contracts. Buyers used to be OK with paying the higher taxes as a result of having better school districts, but now they are starting to second-guess the extra expense.

    Matthew Lenner, a broker with Keller Williams in Long Island, told Bloomberg:

     “One of the first questions buyers ask is, ‘Have the owners grieved their taxes?”’

    It's a question that refers to an appeals process with the county’s assessment office that will sometimes allow property taxes to be lowered.

    Last month for example, a four bedroom home in Plainview that was listed since June 2017 saw its price cut nearly $100,000 to $899,999 and also had its taxes reworked to try to lower the $28,500 annual tax bill. As they were able to lower the taxes about 20%, interest in the property has increased.

    In New Jersey, the new tax law didn’t seem to be a problem – at least until mortgage rates started to creep higher. At that point, it became obvious that "sellers were getting greedy" and that prices would have to adjust.

    Jeffrey Otteau, who runs a property valuation firm, stated: 

    “Sellers have gotten greedy. It’s easier to say ‘blame tax reform’ than to say ‘we need to take an honest look at the price you expect to get for your house.’ Sellers don’t get it.”

    Buyers who now believe themselves to have the upper hand are getting creative with deals, including asking for concessions that even ask some sellers to rent homes before they buy them. Three buyers in the New Canaan area set up lease arrangements with sellers, putting down 10% and paying the rest off in a rent-to-own style arrangement that would allow them to duck out of the purchase at any point. 

    Sharon Shahinian, a Halstead broker in Hoboken summed it up:

     “All the agents are saying to each other, ‘Are you busy?' Someone will say, ‘Oh my God, it’s so slow, and someone else will say, ‘I’m glad it’s not just me.”

  13. Site: Zero Hedge
    4 hours 7 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Darius Shahtamasebi,

    Forces are aligning against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, lead by elements within the CIA and strong players in the mainstream media. But what is really behind this deterioration in relationship, and what are its implications?

    Following the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, western media and various entities, including the CIA, appear to have turned their back on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). In response to the scandal, the Guardian released a video which its celebutante, Owen Jones, captioned “Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest threats on Earth. Time to stop propping up its repulsive regime.”

    The Guardian was not alone in its condemnation. 

    “It’s high time to end Saudi impunity,” wrote Hana Al-Khamri in Al-Jazeera“It’s time for Saudi Arabia to tell the truth on Jamal Khashoggi,” the Washington Post’s Editorial Board argued. Politico called it “the tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi.”

    Even shadowy think-tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Atlantic Council released articles criticising Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s death.

    A number of companies began backing away from Saudi money after the journalist’s death, including the world’s largest media companies such as the New York Times, the Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes, Arianna Huffington, CNN, CNBC, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Google Cloud CEO, just to name a few.

    The CIA concluded that MBS personally ordered Khashoggi’s death, and was reportedly quite open in its provision of this assessment. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, also took time out of his schedule to express concern over Saudi Arabia’s confirmation of the killing.

    At the time of the scandal, former CIA director John Brennan went on MSNBC to state that the Khashoggi’s death would be the downfall of MBS. Furthermore, the US Senate just voted in favour of ending American involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen (a somewhat symbolic victory, though this is a topic for another article), but nonetheless was a clear stab at MBS personally.

    The only person who appeared to continue to uphold America’s unfaltering support for MBS, even after all the publicly made evidence against MBS, was the US president himself. So after years of bombarding Yemen, sponsoring terror groups across the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and beyond, why is it only now that there has been mounting opposition to Saudi Arabia’s leadership? Let’s just bear in mind that western media had spent years investing in a heavy PR campaign to paint MBS as a “reformer.”

    Former national security adviser under Barack Obama’s second term, Susan Rice, wrote an article in the New York Times, in which she called MBS a “partner we can’t depend on.” Rice concludes that MBS is “not and can no longer be viewed as a reliable partner of the United States and our allies.” But why is this? Is it because MBS is responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses inside his own kingdom as well as in Yemen? Is it because of MBS’ support for groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda? No, according to Rice, we “should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make it clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammad continues to wield unlimited power.”

    One will observe that the latter segment of Rice’s article almost mirrors former CIA director Brennan’s word on MSNBC word for word who stated that:

    “I think ultimately this is going to come out. And it’s very important for us to maintain the relations with Saudi Arabia. And if it’s Mohammed bin Salman who’s the cancer here, well, we need to be able to find ways to eliminate the cancer and to move forward with this relationship that is critical to regional stability and our national interests.”

    In reality, this is probably the issue that western media and government advisors have taken up with MBS. Aside from the fact he allegedly held a huge hand in the brutal murder of one of their own establishment journalists (Saudi Arabia reportedly tortured and killed another journalist not long after Khashoggi, but western media was eerily silent on this incident) MBS is not opposed for his reckless disregard for human rights. With insight into Rice’s mindset, we actually learn that if the US were to punish MBS, he would be likely to “behave more irresponsibly to demonstrate his independence and exact retribution against his erstwhile Western partners.”

    You see, the problem with MBS isn’t that he is a mass murdering war criminal, it is that he is too “independent” for the United States’ liking.

    Last week, Saudi Arabia and the other major oil producers met in Vienna at the year’s final big OPEC meeting of the year. As Foreign Policy notes, Saudi Arabia remains the largest oil producer inside OPEC but has to contend with the US and Russia who are “pumping oil at record levels.” Together, the three countries are the world’s biggest oil producers, meaning any coordinated decision made between these three nations can be somewhat monumental.

    However, it appears that one of these three nations will end up drawing the short end of the stick as the other two begin forming a closer alliance. As Foreign Policy explains:

    “But Saudi Arabia has bigger game in mind at Vienna than just stabilizing oil prices. Recognizing that it can’t shape the global oil market by itself anymore but rather needs the cooperation of Russia, Saudi Arabia is hoping to formalize an ad hoc agreement between OPEC and Moscow that began in 2016, a time when dirt-cheap oil also posed a threat to oil-dependent regimes. That informal agreement expires at the end of the year, but the Saudis would like to make Russia’s participation with the cartel more permanent.”

    Russian officials have been signalling their intention to formalise this agreement for quite some time now. Given the hysteria in western media about any and all things Russian, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that this is the kind of news that is not sitting too well with the powers-that-be.

    Earlier this year, Russia and Saudi Arabia announced that it would “institutionalize” the two-year-old bilateral agreement to coordinate oil production targets in order to maintain an edge on the global market.

    While US president Trump has been supportive and incredibly defensive of MBS during this “crisis”, the truth is that the US only has itself to blame. It was not all too long ago that Trump announced that he had told Saudi King Salman that his kingdom would not last two weeks without US support.

    Saudi Arabia is learning for themselves quite quickly that, ultimately, it may pay not to have all its eggs in one geopolitical superpower basket.

    Saudi Arabia has been increasingly interested in Moscow since King Salman made a historic visit to Moscow in October 2017. While Trump has openly bragged about his record-breaking arms deals with the Saudis, the blunt truth is that the $110 billion arms agreements were reportedly only ever letters of interest or intent, but not actual contracts. As such, the US-Saudi arms deal is still yet to be locked in, all the while Saudi Arabia is negotiating with Russia for its S-400 air defence system. This is, as the Washington Post notes, despite repeated US requests to Saudi Arabia for it disavow its interest in Russia’s arms.

    The economic threat that an “independent” Saudi Arabia under MBS’ leadership poses to Washington runs deeper than meets the eye and may indeed have a domino effect. According to CNN, Russia and Saudi Arabia “are engaged in an intense battle over who will be the top supplier to China, a major energy importer with an insatiable appetite for crude.”

    The unveiling of China’s petro-yuan poses a major headache for Washington and its control over Saudi Arabia as well.According to Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High-Frequency Economics, China will “compel”Saudi Arabia to trade oil in Chinese yuan instead of US dollars. One must bear in mind that China has now surpassed the US as the “biggest oil importer on the planet,” these direct attacks on the US dollar will have huge implications for its current world reserve status.

    If Saudi Arabia jumps on board China’s petro-yuan, the rest of OPEC will eventually follow, and the US might be left with no choice but to declare all of these countries in need of some vital freedom and democracy.

    Therefore, ousting MBS and replacing him with a Crown Prince who doesn’t stray too far from the tree that is US imperialism may put a dent in pending relationships with Saudi Arabia and Washington’s adversaries, Russia and China.

    Once we get over the certainty that the US media and the CIA are not against MBS for his long-list of human rights abuses, the question then becomes: why – why now, and in this manner, have they decided to put the spotlight on MBS and expose him exactly for what he is.

    Clearly, the driving force behind this media outrage is a bit more complex than first meets the eye.

  14. Site: Rorate Caeli
    4 hours 25 min ago
    Count Neri Capponi (left) with Michael Davies at a FIUV meeting A dear friend and reader of Rorate Caeli alerted us to the fact that a great traditionalist of the 20th century, Count Neri Capponi, died yesterday, on the feast of St. Lucy. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Neri Capponi, from a venerable Italian noble family, spent many Peter Kwasniewskihttps://plus.google.com/111940034901560611211noreply@blogger.com0
  15. Site: Zero Hedge
    4 hours 27 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Four years ago Baltimore County began a $147 million program to put laptops in the hands of students from first through 12th grade in the hopes that access to technology would transform the way kids learn and boost the lowest standardized test scores in the state, according to a new report cited by the Baltimore Sun's Liz Bowie

    Photo via Baltimore Country Public Schools

    Alas, the ambitious plan has failed to translate to an increase in achievement - as test scores are generally flat for students in grades three through eight, according to the Sun, which notes that many of those students have had the computers for at least three years. 

    An evaluation of the program by Johns Hopkins researchers found that third-grade results at 10 schools that have had laptops longest have shown some increase over four years, but it’s too soon to say if that will continue.

    “The impacts of the [laptop program] on student achievement remain encouraging, but still indeterminate given the still relatively short duration of the initiative,” the report said.

    Absent across-the-board increases in student achievement, some parents and teachers are questioning whether the computers are worth the investment. -Baltimore Sun

    "These devices do not seem to be improving my kids’ school experience," said parent Suzanne Persaud - whose three middle and high school boys have had access to the laptops. The school system is "giving them the hardware," said Persaud, "but not the courses to advance beyond the devices."

    Photo via Baltimore Country Public Schools

    With the majority of the Baltimore County school board departing this month, it is unclear whether the new board will continue the program amid calls to end the laptop giveaway. Others have suggested not giving every student a laptop. 

    New county executive Johnny Olszwecki Jr. says that while he hasn't taken a position on the program, his administration will give it serious consideration. 

    "I want to be a data-driven, evidence-based leader here for Baltimore County," said Olszwecki. "Any program that’s not having the intended gains that we’re spending money on we need to re-evaluate. Especially if it’s compromising our ability to meet other priorities."

    Overall, Baltimore County students in grades three through eight scored 18th in the state for math and 19th in English, according to a State Department of Education analysis of Maryland’s 24 school districts.

    In contrast, Baltimore City — where elementary and middle school students don’t have the same access to technology — saw significant achievement gains last year across nearly all grades and subjects on the state tests, though the percentage of city school students who passed them is still lower than in the county. -Baltimore Sun

    The Baltimore County school district has countered critics, saying that the laptop program wasn't solely intended to raise achievement - but rather to allow underpriveleged students access to technology they may not have at home, and whose families can't afford internet service or computers. 

    Verletta White, Interim School Superintendent

    It has never been about laptops increasing achievement,” said Interim School Superintendent Verletta White. “You have to take a look at all of the impacts and the levers that impact instruction.”

     School system officials added that teachers may have had too little time to adapt their lesson plans to the new technology. 

    A 2016 analysis of 10 studies concluded that giving all students a laptop does not boost math, english, science or writing scores, however the authors from Michigan State and UC Irvine stress that computers alone don't increase academic performance and must be accompanied by lesson plans conducive to the technology. 

  16. Site: Home Living
    4 hours 34 min ago
    Hello Ladies, Although I had intended to move on to another subject, I have to report our last day at the hospital. That is an interesting word, is it not? It means hospitality. This hospital where Mr. S. was a patient for 10 days was a combination of high-end hotel, airport, gourmet restaurant, espresso and internet cafe, shopping mall, music center, and I-don't-know-what-else. There Lydiahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15530969871397361970noreply@blogger.com0
  17. Site: Zero Hedge
    4 hours 47 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

    Large earthquakes aren’t supposed to happen in Tennessee. 

    On Wednesday, the largest earthquake in 45 years hit eastern Tennessee, and it made headlines all over the nation.  The magnitude 4.4 quake was so powerful that it was felt in portions of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Kentucky.  Significant shaking was even felt as far away as Atlanta, and that was highly unusual.  The original earthquake was rapidly followed by a magnitude 3.0 aftershock, and subsequently there were several other noteworthy aftershocks. 

    We live at a time when earthquakes are increasing in size and frequency, and many are concerned about what this may mean for our future.  The recent earthquakes in Alaska were a shock, but at least they made sense since much of the coastline of Alaska sits directly along the Ring of Fire.  But eastern Tennessee is not an area that has traditionally been prone to quakes.  Could it be possible that the “seismic scar” that was created when the North American continent was formed is beginning to reawaken?

    Prior to Wednesday, the last time that eastern Tennessee had experienced an earthquake of this magnitude or greater was on November 30th, 1973.

    That was 45 years ago, and many of you that will be reading this article were not even alive at that time.

    Some experts had regarded eastern Tennessee as one of the “safest” areas in the eastern half of the country, but after what we just witnessed they may want to reevaluate things.  When the earthquake happened, the shaking was so violent that it actually woke people from their sleep all the way over in neighboring North Carolina

    “Felt it here in Arden off Brevard Rd for sure. Sitting on the couch at 4:15 am reading news on laptop and it felt like the house swayed back and forth for a few seconds. Weird…….” – Wayne Womble

    “I felt the earthquake in Alexander, NC around 4:15 am. It woke me from my sleep.” – Megan S. Bottego

    “We felt the earthquake in Marshall, Madison County, NC (just outside the Buncombe County line). It woke me up about 4:20am as it shook enough to cause items on dresser to shake and rattle. It only lasted about 5-10 seconds. ” – Paula Seay

    But this isn’t the only earthquake that has happened in the region recently.

    In fact, in the center of the United States there have been 27 significant earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or greater within the last 7 days.

    Eastern Tennessee is not in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, but it is not too far away either.  And there are some that are speculating that the “deep underground scar” that was created during the formation of the North American continent may be awakening once again.  The following is what Wikipedia has to say about the formation of that scar…

    The faults responsible for the New Madrid Seismic Zone are embedded in a subsurface geological feature known as the Reelfoot Rift that formed during the breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia in the Neoproterozoic Era (about 750 million years ago). The resulting rift system failed to split the continent, but has remained as an aulacogen (a scar or zone of weakness) deep underground, and its ancient faults appear to have made the Earth’s crust in the New Madrid area mechanically weaker than much of the rest of North America.

    This relative weakness is important, because it would allow the relatively small east-west compressive forces associated with the continuing continental drift of the North American plate to reactivate old faults around New Madrid, making the area unusually prone to earthquakes in spite of it being far from the nearest tectonic plate boundary.

    As noted above, because of this scar the crust of our planet in that region is “mechanically weaker” and thus more vulnerable to shaking.

    What that means is that earthquakes in that area could potentially be far more damaging.

    According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, any earthquakes that occur along the New Madrid fault could “shake and damage an area approximately 20 times larger than earthquakes in California”

    Due to the harder, colder, drier and less fractured nature of the rocks in the earth’s crust in the central United States, earthquakes in this region shake and damage an area approximately 20 times larger than earthquakes in California and most other active seismic areas. Even though large earthquakes occur much less frequently in the NMSZ than in California, the long term average quake threat, in terms of square miles affected per century, is about the same because of the approximately 20 times larger area affected in the central United States.

    And even though most Americans don’t realize this, some of the worst earthquakes in all of U.S. history have happened right in the middle of the country.

    In 1811 and 1812 three massive earthquakes struck directly along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, and the damage was off the charts.  The following comes from a previous article

    Those earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 tore thousands of very deep fissures in the ground, they caused the Mississippi River to actually run backwards in some places, and they caused sidewalks to crack in Washington D.C. and church bells to ring in Boston.

    In our time, the U.S. Geological Survey has admitted that the New Madrid fault zone has the “potential for larger and more powerful quakes than previously thought“, and we have seen the number of significant earthquakes in the middle part of the country more than quintuple in recent years.

    There is a reason why I included a catastrophic New Madrid earthquake in The Beginning Of The End, and scientists assure us that it is only a matter of time before one takes place.

    Giant earthquakes and huge volcanic eruptions are starting to happen with such frequency now that they almost immediately start receding from our memory after they happen.  We have been witnessing one historic seismic event after another, and they are happening so fast that it is hard to keep up with them all.  And when you throw in wildfires, floods, hurricanes and all other major disasters, what we have been witnessing is truly historic.

    According to CNN, 2017 was the costliest year for natural disasters ever, and it looks like there is a good chance that we will break that record again this year.

    Our planet is changing, and many believe that very dark days are ahead for all of us.

  18. Site: RT - News
    4 hours 55 min ago
    Author: RT
    In an attempt to salvage the cornerstone treaty limiting the deployment of nuclear missiles, which the US has decided to unilaterally suspend, Moscow has introduced a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly.
    Read Full Article at RT.com
  19. Site: Zero Hedge
    5 hours 7 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    The West Coast has had one of the hottest real estate markets in the country over the last five to eight years, with Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Seattle led the way in home price appreciation.

    However, the market has recently shifted and ultimately moved in the opposite direction with surging inventory, increased lending limits, and falling home prices, have triggered a possible housing market top.

    The rapid deterioration in the housing industry is the most evident in King County, Washington, home to Seattle and the 13th-most populous region in the US. Home prices in the area have just recorded one of the most significant drops ever in the last six months.

    King County’s median single-family home price plunged to $644,000 in November, all the way from $726,000 in early spring, according to a new report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

    Mike Rosenberg, a Seattle Times real estate reporter, said Seattle home prices are falling at the fastest clip than anywhere in the country.

    The plunge in prices equals about 11.3% over the last six months, and the last time a drop of this magnitude occurred, it was -14% during the housing bubble implosion of 2008.

    Active inventory jumped 135% in the county from a year ago. The number of single-family homes more than doubled from 2017, rising from 1,879 to 4,020, while condos more than tripled, jumping from 355 active listings twelve months ago to October's total of 1,221.

    For condos, a sharp rise in inventory has sent prices lower by $61,000 from spring levels.

    Sales have also collapsed, down 19% in the last 12 months. It was the second consecutive quarter that fewer people bought homes.

    “It’s a little bit of a herd mentality,” Sabrina Booth, a Windermere broker in Seattle, told The Seattle Times, adding that "buyers were rushing to outdo each other by engaging in frantic bidding wars and signing away rights like inspection clauses. Now, they’re often taking their time, negotiating prices down and getting sellers to pay for fixes to their homes."

    “Sellers are now more receptive to that,” Booth said. “They’re not happy about it. They feel just a little bit disappointed, and they feel their house will be the exception to the rule. But when that doesn’t happen they tend to be realistic and understand that the market has changed a bit.”

    Compared to a year ago, home prices are up 2.1% in King County, as it was the smallest increase in over four years. 

    Just a few short years ago, the average year-over-year growth was pushing more than 10%. That has since come to a screeching halt.

    Home prices in several Seattle neighborhoods have just entered into negative territory versus a year ago. Among these were Southeast Seattle, Sodo/Beacon Hill, the Capitol Hill/Central Seattle area, Queen Anne/Magnolia, the Ballard/Green Lake area and downtown, said The Seattle TImes.

    Also, East Bellevue, the Eastside area south of Interstate 90, Richmond Beach-Shoreline, Jovita-West Hill Auburn and Renton-Highlands & Kennydale are other places where prices have contracted on a year-over-year basis in November.

    "When compared to the peak spring period, median prices have fallen more than $100,000 in the Capitol Hill/Central Seattle area, Queen Anne/Magnolia, Richmond Beach-Shoreline, the Eastside south of I-90, East Bellevue and Redmond-Carnation.

    The median price of a home in November hit $760,000 in Seattle and $885,000 on the Eastside, both down about $70,000 to $75,000 from their spring highs," said The Seattle Times.

    The recent slowdown has done very little to correct the affordability crisis, making the area still one of the priciest places in the country. In other words, many millennials are still priced out of the market and will not enter until prices come down significantly lower.

    Prices have climbed 109% since reaching a trough in 2012. That is down from a peak six-year rise of 136% achieved in May.

    There is an overwhelming consensus among brokers that the slowdown is temporary and could be blamed on seasonal trends. 

    "In absolute dollar terms, although not percentage-wise, the $82,000 price drop in King County over the last six months is easily the most ever for any half-year span, a function of how high prices have gotten," said The Seattle Times.

    From October to November, prices decreased $27,000, which is not a seasonal trend, due to this time of year prices remain flat. So, it might be wishful thinking that realtors think declining prices are seasonal, but instead, the entire industry reversing. 

    The cool-down is also starting to spread to the rest of the Puget Sound region, Snohomish County, and Kitsap County -- inventory is way up, and sales are down.

    An American housing bust is fully underway.

  20. Site: Zero Hedge
    5 hours 27 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored (satirically) by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

    The Indiscreet Charm of the Gilets Jaunes

    So it appears the privatization of France isn’t going quite as smoothly as planned. As I assume you are aware, for over a month now, the gilets jaunes (or “yellow vests”), a multiplicitous, leaderless, extremely pissed off, confederation of working class persons, have been conducting a series of lively protests in cities and towns throughout the country to express their displeasure with Emmanuel Macron and his efforts to transform their society into an American-style neo-feudal dystopia. Highways have been blocked, toll booths commandeered, luxury automobiles set on fire, and shopping on the Champs-Élysées disrupted. What began as a suburban tax revolt has morphed into a bona fide working class uprising.

    It took a while for “the Golden Boy of Europe” to fully appreciate what was happening. In the tradition of his predecessor, Louis XVI, Macron initially responded to the gilets jaunes by inviting a delegation of Le Monde reporters to laud his renovation of the Elysée Palace, making the occasional condescending comment, and otherwise completely ignoring them. That was back in late November. Last Saturday, he locked down central Paris, mobilized a literal army of riot cops, “preventatively arrested” hundreds of citizens, including suspected “extremist students,” and sent in the armored military vehicles.

    The English-language corporate media, after doing their best not to cover these protests (and, instead, to keep the American and British publics focused on imaginary Russians), have been forced to now begin the delicate process of delegitimizing the gilets jaunes without infuriating the the entire population of France and inciting the British and American proletariats to go out and start setting cars on fire. They got off to a bit of an awkward start.

    For example, this piece by Angelique ChrisafisThe Guardian‘s Paris Bureau Chief, and her Twitter feed from the protests last Saturday. Somehow (probably a cock-up at headquarters), The Guardian honchos allowed Chrisafis to do some actual propaganda-free reporting (and some interviews with actual protesters) before they caught themselves and replaced her with Kim Willsher, who resumed The Guardian‘s usual neoliberal establishment-friendly narrative, which, in this case, entailed dividing the protesters into “real” gilets jaunes and “fake” gilet jaunes, and referring to the latter fictional group as “thuggish, extremist political agitators.”

    By Sunday, the corporate media were insinuating that diabolical Russian Facebook bots had brainwashed the French into running amok, because who else could possibly be responsible? Certainly not the French people themselves! The French, as every American knows, are by nature a cowardly, cheese-eating people, who have never overthrown their rightful rulers, or publicly beheaded the aristocracy. No, the French were just sitting there, smoking like chimneys, and otherwise enjoying their debt-enslavement and the privatization of their social democracy, until they unsuspectingly logged onto Facebook and … BLAMMO, the Russian hackers got them!

    Bloomberg is reporting that French authorities have opened a probe into Russian interference (in the middle of which report, for no apparent reason, a gigantic photo of Le Pen is featured, presumably just to give it that “Nazi” flavor). According to “analysis seen by The Times,” Russia-linked social media accounts have been “amplifying” the “chaos” and “violence” by tweeting photos of gilets jaunes who the French police have savagely beaten or gratuitiously shot with “less-than-lethal projectiles.” “Are nationalists infiltrating the yellow vests?” the BBC Newsnight producers are wondering. According to Buzzfeed’s Ryan Broderick, “a beast born almost entirely from Facebook” is slouching toward … well, I’m not quite sure, the UK or even, God help us, America! And then there’s Max Boot, who is convinced he is being personally persecuted by Russian agents like Katie Hopkins, James Woods, Glenn Greenwald, and other high-ranking members of a worldwide conspiracy Boot refers to as the “Illiberal International” (but which regular readers of my column will recognize as the “Putin-Nazis“).

    And, see, this is the problem the corporate media (and other staunch defenders of global neoliberalism) are facing with these gilets jaunes protests. They can’t get away with simply claiming that what is happening is not a working class uprising, so they have been forced to resort to these blatant absurdities. They know they need to delegitimize the gilets jaunes as soon as possible — the movement is already starting to spread — but the “Putin-Nazi” narrative they’ve been using on Trump, Corbyn, and other “populists” is just not working.

    No one believes the Russians are behind this, not even the hacks who are paid to pretend they do. And the “fascism” hysteria is also bombing. Attempts to portray the gilets jaunes as Le Pen-sponsored fascists blew up in their faces. Obviously, the far-Right are part of these protests, as they would be in any broad working class uprising, but there are far too many socialists and anarchists (and just regular pissed-off working class people) involved for the media to paint them all as “Nazis.”

    Which is not to say that the corporate media and prominent public intellectuals like Bernard-Henri Lévy will not continue to hammer away at the “fascism” hysteria, and demand that the “good” and “real” gilets jaunes suspend their protests against Macron until they have completely purged their movement of “fascists,” and “extremists,” and other dangerous elements, and have splintered it into a number of smaller, antagonistic ideological factions that can be more easily neutralized by the French authorities … because that’s what establishment intellectuals do.

    We can expect to hear this line of reasoning, not just from establishment intellectuals like Lévy, but also from members of the Identity Politics Left, who are determined to prevent the working classes from rising up against global neoliberalism until they have cleansed their ranks of every last vestige of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, and so on. These leftist gatekeepers have been struggling a bit to come up with a response to the gilets jaunes … a response that doesn’t make them sound like hypocrites. See, as leftists, they kind of need to express their support for a bona fide working class uprising. At the same time, they need to delegitimize it, because their primary adversaries are fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and assorted other isms and phobias, not the neoliberal ruling classes.

    Nothing scares the Identity Politics Left quite like an actual working class uprising. Witnessing the furious unwashed masses operating out there on their own, with no decent human restraint whatsoever, Identity Politics Leftists feel a sudden overwhelming urge to analyze, categorize, organize, sanitize, and otherwise correct and control them.

    They can’t accept the fact that the actual, living, breathing working classes are messy, multiplicitous, inconsistent, and irreducible to any one ideology. Some of them are racists. Some are fascists. Others are communists, socialists, and anarchists. Many have no idea what they are, and don’t particularly care for any of these labels. This is what the actual working classes are … a big, contradictory collection of people who, in spite of all their differences, share one thing in common, that they are being screwed over by the ruling classes. I don’t know about you, but I consider myself one of them.

    Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. According to The Guardian, as I am sitting here writing this, the whole of Europe is holding its breath in anticipation of the gilets jaunes’ response to Macron’s most recent attempt to appease them, this time with an extra hundred Euros a month, some minor tax concessions, and a Christmas bonus.

    Something tells me it’s not going to work, but even if it does, and the gilets jaunes uprising ends, this messy, Western “populist” insurgency against global neoliberalism has clearly entered a new phase. Count on the global capitalist ruling classes to intensify their ongoing War on Dissent and their demonization of anyone opposing them (or contradicting their official narrative) as an “extremist,” a “fascist,” a “Russian agent,” and so on. I’m certainly looking forward to that, personally.

    Oh... yeah, and I almost forgot, if you were wondering what you could get me for Christmas, I did some checking, and there appears to be a wide selection of yellow safety vests online for just a couple Euros.

  21. Site: RT - News
    5 hours 37 min ago
    Author: RT
    While the pyramid porn perps who took nude photos of themselves atop the Great Pyramid of Giza are safe at home in Denmark, Egyptian authorities have arrested the next best thing – two locals who helped the pair access the site.
    Read Full Article at RT.com
  22. Site: Zero Hedge
    5 hours 47 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    There are over 8 million abandoned homes in Japanese suburbs, according to The Japan Times. 

    If you are a struggling American millennial: you could theoretically move to Japan because the sushi’s fresh, cost of living is low, and the government is giving away free homes. 

    What is driving the government to give away these homes? Well, there is a massive housing glut. 

    In part, it has to do with Japan's aging population - responsible for the high number of abandoned houses across the country. Japan has a major demographic problem, which means there are too few first time home buyers. 

    According to the World Bank Group, the country’s population declined by -0.2% in 2017 alone, while China and the US barely grew .60% and .70% respectively. Back in 2010, Japan had 1.3 million more people than today. 

    The Japan Times said an increasing number of abandoned properties are being listed on online databases known as “akiya banks”—“akiya” translating to “vacant house” -- with tens of thousands of homes being offered at a massive discount. Prices on one particular database range from 30 million yen ($266,800), while many other properties are listed under “gratis transfer” for the sum of literally zero yen.

    This is all part of a government scheme to counter the country’s unprecedented housing crisis. 

    A 2013 government report revealed that more than eight million abandoned homes were spread across Japan, with many of them located in rural regions. Nearly 25% have been deserted indefinitely, neither for sale nor rent.

    In Tokyo, where 70% of the people live in apartments, about 10% of homes are dormant, a ratio higher than in cities like New York, London, and Paris.

    And that figure is expected to surge in 2020, as deaths outpace births in a mature society where more than 25% of the population is 65 or order. 

    Nomura Research Institute forecasts the number of abandoned homes could grow to 21.7 million by 2033, or about 33% of all homes in Japan. 

    Meanwhile, the population peaked a decade ago, forecasted to plunge 30% by 2065, creating an even more profound crisis in the decades to come.

    “There is no single answer to the problem,” said Wataru Sakakibara, a senior consultant at NRI who led the think tank’s study.

    He said the government had led several measures to tackle the phenomena, including subsidies for owners willing to dismantle decaying homes.

     "But tearing down homes is costly, and a decades-old tax break that promotes construction by setting property tax on vacant lots at six times the level of those with buildings discourages demolition, " said The Japan Times.

    “If this continues, at some point it may be necessary to consider limiting new construction. But that would have a substantial impact on the economy,” Sakakibara said.

    While the Japanese government is willing to give anyone a free home, the American millennial across the Pacific Ocean is dealing with quite the opposite: housing shortages and an affordability crisis. So if you want a free home, pack your bags and head to Japan. 

  23. Site: Gloria.tv
    6 hours 9 min ago
    Author: TFP Student Action
    Can music change the way we think, act, and believe?
    Mr. Philip Calder, accomplished musician and composer, explains the history of music from the Middle Ages until our days, showing how music shapes society for good or for evil.
    Listen to the audio podcast: tfpsa.podbean.com
    Subscribe on iTunes: itunes.apple.com/…/id1331685808
    More info about TFP Student Action? Visit us on:
    Website: www.tfpstudentaction.org
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/TFPStudentAction/
    Attribution:
    1. Roundpine by Blue Dot Sessions is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial License. (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/)
    Source: freemusicarchive.org/…/Roundpine
    Artist: freemusicarchive.org/music/Blue_Dot_Sessions/
  24. Site: RT - News
    6 hours 17 min ago
    Author: RT
    At least 28 people have been injured after a tram derailed and flipped over in the Portuguese capital during Friday evening rush hour, Portuguese emergency services have reported.
    Read Full Article at RT.com
  25. Site: Community in Mission
    7 hours 32 min ago
    Author: Msgr. Charles Pope

    The John Lewis Christmas commercial shown below has a surprise ending. We are led through a traditional story line about a child who can’t wait for Christmas, but there’s a twist at the end. You may wish to watch the ad before continuing, lest my comments ruin the surprise.

    As I watched the commercial, I was first reminded of these Scripture passages: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:34), and God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).

    There is something more than a cheerful giver illustrated in this ad, though. Indeed, the young boy is an urgent giver, one who cannot wait to give the gift he has to offer. The hours and days creep by. When will he finally be able to give his gift? Finally, the day arrives, finally!

    This seemed strangely familiar to me, that it was speaking to a biblical theme. Then it hit me. Yes! This was Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem, urgent and eager to give us the gift of our salvation, to snatch us from the kingdom of darkness and translate us to the kingdom of light. Scripture has this to say about this almost impatient desire in Him:

    • As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).
    • Jesus exclaimed, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!(Luke 12:49)
    • Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … Now my soul is troubled, yet what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” … Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”(John 12:23, 27-28, 31-32).

    Scripture says that as Jesus’ apostles followed Him up the road to Jerusalem for His final journey, they were “amazed and afraid” (cf Mk 10:32). Fearful of Jesus’ predictions of His own death, the disciples protested, But Rabbi … a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going there? (John 11:8) Finally, seeing Jesus’ determination, Thomas (likely in exasperation) said, Let us also go, that we may die with him (John 11:16).

    Yes, Jesus set His face like flint as He journeyed toward Jerusalem, eager to give the gift of salvation. What distress, what impatience until He must have felt until He could give that gift! Resolutely, He went forth with fervor.

    Think about these things as you watch this Christmas commercial.

    The post Jesus’ Urgency to Save Us, as Seen in a Christmas Commercial appeared first on Community in Mission.

  26. Site: LifeNews
    7 hours 57 min ago
    Author: Micaiah Bilger

    Pro-lifers will bring joy and light to one of the darkest places in America this winter by singing Christmas carols outside abortion facilities.

    The gatherings this year center around the theme “Peace in the Womb,” and are meant to bring hope to mothers and their unborn babies through the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth.

    Eric J. Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, said this is their 16th year of Christmas caroling outside abortion facilities.

    “The message of the Christmas angels is, ‘Be not afraid.’ This is the same message our carolers are sharing with abortion-minded mothers,” Scheidler said. “Whatever fear might be bringing them to the abortion clinic, we want to help, in any way that we can.”

    He said the pro-life carolers will be prepared to refer women to pregnancy centers that offer a wide range of free services to help them choose life for their babies.

    There are 88 events planned at abortion facilities across America. One already happened at the Planned Parenthood in Columbia, Missouri.

    Mike and Kathy Forck, campaign directors for the Columbia 40 Days for Life, said about 20 carolers participated in their Dec. 4 outreach.

    SUPPORT LIFENEWS! If you like this pro-life article, please help LifeNews.com with a donation!

    “It was a very cold night, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm as Planned Parenthood a couple of clients came and went, a Planned Parenthood escort left early and a good time was had by all the singers,” they said in an email to participants.

    Along with singing carols, the Forcks said their group also donated baby diapers and displayed them in an empty manger to symbolize the approximately 77 babies who recently were aborted at the Columbia facility.

    “We pray for all of them and hope that Jesus will be able to break through to them and share the peace of the Season and heal their hearts,” the couple said.

    Scheidler said they have seven caroling events planned in Chicago alone. Dozens of others are planned in 31 states across the U.S.

    “Over the sixteen years that the Pro-Life Action League has coordinated caroling outside of abortion clinics, many women have decided against abortion after hearing the pro-life singers—including nine in 2016 alone,” he said.

    For a complete listing of locations and details, click here.

  27. Site: LifeNews
    8 hours 8 min ago
    Author: Micaiah Bilger

    The National Institutes of Health chief contradicted a leading scientist who told Congress Thursday that aborted baby body parts are not necessary for scientific advances.

    Francis Collins, director of the NIH, an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defended the taxpayer-funded grants that his agency gives to groups that use aborted baby parts in their research, Science Magazine reports. These include research involving tissue harvested from viable, healthy late-term aborted babies.

    “There is strong evidence that scientific benefits can come from fetal tissue research, which can be done with an ethical framework,” Collins said.

    However, he did admit that the Trump administration’s decision to invest in ethical alternatives to fetal tissue is “scientifically, highly justified.”

    Here’s more from the report:

    Collins told reporters “there are certain areas where it’s hard to imagine that we would know what we know without the access to fetal tissue,” such as work on how the Zika virus infects brain cells and causes microcephaly in utero. He said the administration, led by Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, simply “wants to assure the skeptics about the value of fetal tissue research [and] that this is being done according to all the appropriate regulations, guidelines, and oversight.”

    “Even for somebody who is very supportive of the pro-life position, you can make a strong case for this being an ethical stance,” Collins told reporters. “That if something can be done with these tissues that might save somebody’s life downstream, perhaps that’s a better choice than discarding them.”

    Asked what will happen if HHS determines the contracts did not meet those regulations, Collins said: “I guess we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.”

    On Thursday, however, Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D. provided testimony to the contrary during a U.S. Congressional hearing.

    Click here to sign up for pro-life news alerts from LifeNews.com

    “We do not need fetal body parts from aborted babies to achieve future scientific and medical advancements. Very little research is actually being done that currently relies on abortion – derived fetal tissue,” Dr. Lee said.

    Lee is an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry and did post-doctorate work at both Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in molecular and cell biology, later establishing her own lab to study congenital heart disease and vascular disorders in children.

    Lee added: “In the case of vaccines, cells derived from aborted fetal tissue have been used in the development process, but fetal tissues have NEVER been the exclusive means necessary
    for these breakthroughs. Instead, monkey cells, chicken eggs, and non – fetal human cells are used to produce vaccines for polio, measles, and mumps. The vast majority of scientists are focusing on other ethical tissue sources and models that work just as well, if not better. If we stopped harvesting fresh tissues from aborted fetuses today, it will not stop one person from being treated or vaccinated today nor will it inhibit the development of new vaccines going forward.

    “After over 100 years of research, NO therapies have been discovered or developed that require aborted fetal tissue. History has shown us that we never needed fetal tissue,” Lee said.

    “Modern alternatives have overtaken any need for fresh fetal tissue,” added Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

    On Monday, the Trump administration issued a plan to promote ethical alternatives to aborted baby body parts in scientific research.

    New grants through the NIH will provide $20 million to develop alternatives to “human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions,” according to the notice published Monday by HHS.

    Over the past few months, pro-life groups and conservative news outlets have been uncovering new details about government spending on aborted baby parts for research. Some of these contracts have used tax dollars to pay for body parts of healthy, late-term aborted babies – including potentially viable unborn babies up to 24 weeks. The NIH, an agency under HHS, has given about $100 million to these research contracts.

    The Trump administration has been exploring options to end the contracts and support research that uses ethical alternatives. And in September, it canceled a Food and Drug Administration contract to acquire body parts from aborted babies to be transplanted into mice.

    This new move signals the administration is continuing to address the problem.

    According to the HHS notice, the NIH soon will seek “applications to develop and/or further refine human tissue models that closely mimic and can be used to accurately model human embryonic development or other aspects of human biology and that do not rely on the use of human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions.”

  28. Site: RT - News
    8 hours 21 min ago
    Author: RT
    Outraged by the rising cost of living and price hikes on basic services, Israeli citizens who were inspired by the French Yellow Vest movement took to the streets of Tel Aviv demanding concessions from the government.
    Read Full Article at RT.com
  29. Site: LifeNews
    8 hours 40 min ago
    Author: Steven Ertelt

    President-elect Donald Trump picked another pro-life leader to join his administration today, choosing pro-life Mick Mulvaney as his new Chief of Staff.

    Trump chose U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina to head the Office of Management and Budget early on in his administration and elevated him to the top White House position today.

    In a pair of tweets Friday afternoon, Trump announced Mulvaney, 51, a former South Carolina congressman, to the post in an acting capacity. It was unclear whether Mulvaney’s appointment was a just temporary measure pending another person being picked for the role.

    The choice upset abortion advocates, who quickly drew attention to Mulvaney’s efforts to defund the abortion business Planned Parenthood.

    Mulvaney has a 100-percent pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee. On his website, he says he is “committed to promoting legislation that will protect the unborn.”

    The pro-abortion blog Rewire reports Mulvaney is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, which recently released a list of priorities for Trump’s first 100 days in office. One priority was to revoke President Barack Obama’s new rule that essentially prohibits states from defunding Planned Parenthood. Trump eventually signed that this year.

    In 2015, Mulvaney also joined 30 other Republicans in committing to opposing any legislation to fund the federal government unless it defunded the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

    Planned Parenthood, which aborts about 320,000 unborn babies a year, received about $550 million in taxpayer dollars last year. Federal lawmakers made several attempts to defund the abortion giant in the past few years, but President Obama vetoed the legislation.

    Click Like if you are pro-life to like the LifeNews Facebook page and receive the latest pro-life news.

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    LifeNews.com

    Mulvaney also has spoken out against Obamacare’s HHS mandate. Back in 2012, he joined more than 50 other members of Congress to oppose the mandate, which forces religious employers to pay for insurance coverage including birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

    He also was involved in a 2015 Congressional hearing with Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards. The hearing concerned the undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress showing the abortion chain trafficking aborted baby body parts. Mulvaney asked Richards what should be done if a baby survives an abortion. Richards responded that she had never heard of such a thing happening.

  30. Site: Novus Motus Liturgicus
    9 hours 2 min ago
    We are now more than halfway through Advent, and next Monday the Church will begin to sing the famous O antiphons each day at Vespers. These are one of the most loved features of the Church’s liturgy, and for good reason; the texts are especially rich in references to the Old Testament prophecies of the Divine Redeemer and His coming for the salvation of the human race, and the Gregorian chant with which they are sung is extremely beautiful. The Roman Rite has seven of these, and it of course well known that the first letters of the seven titles (O Sapientia, O Adonai etc.) form an acrostic when read backwards, ERO CRAS, Latin for “Tomorrow I will be.”; this is completed on the last day before the Christmas season formally begins on the evening of the 24th.

    The first six O antiphons in the Antiphonary of Hartker, written at the monastery of St Gallen in Switzerland at the end of the 10th century. (Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 390, p. 40 – Antiphonarium officii, https://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/list/one/csg/0390) When semidoubling antiphons was the norm in the Use of Rome, the O’s were always doubled, and the choir did not sit after they were intoned, as one usually does for the Magnificat antiphon. Various other particular customs were observed in other places. In the very ancient abbey of Fleury, for example, the intonation of each antiphon was assigned to a particular member of the monastic community: O Wisdom to the abbot, O Lord to the prior, O Root of Jesse to the gardener, O Key of David to the cellarer, (who held the key to all of the storehouses), etc. (Martene, De antiquis Ecclesiae ritibus IV.3.3)

    The medieval use of Augsburg in Germany contains a particularly interesting enrichment of the liturgy on these days. Each O is accompanied by a special chapter, and a special concluding oration, both of which refer back to it; these form a kind of scriptural and euchological commentary on the much older antiphons. Like many medieval uses, that of Augsburg also added other antiphons to the series, which I will note in another post next week; here are the chapters and prayers which go with the seven oldest antiphons, those found in the Roman Breviary. At Augsburg, the Os began on December 13th, and so I have noted them here.

    December 13 (17 in the Roman Breviary)Capitulum Ego Sapientia exore Altissimi prodivi, primogenita ante omnem creatu-ram. Transite ad me, omnes,qui  concupiscitis me, et a ge-nerationibus meis implemini.The Chapter
    I Wisdom came out of the mouthof the most High, the firstborn
    before all creatures. Come over
    to me, all ye that desire me, and
    be filled with my fruits.
    (Sirach 24, 5 and 26)Aña O Sapientia, * quae ex
    ore Altissimi prodiisti, attin-
    gens a fine usque ad finem,
    fortiter suaviterque disponens
    omnia: veni ad docendum
    nos viam prudentiae.Aña O Wisdom, * that comest out
    of the mouth of the Most High, that
    reachest from end to end, mightily
    and sweetly ordering all things,
    come thou to teach us the way of
    prudence.OratioFestinantes, omnipotens De-
    us, in occursum Filii tui Do-
    mini nostri, nulli impediant
    actus terreni, sed caelestis
    sapientiae eruditio faciat nos
    ejus esse consortes. Per eun-
    dem.The PrayerAlmighty God, let no earthly ac-
    tions hinder them that hasten to
    meet Thy Son Our Lord; but let
    the teaching of heavenly wisdom
    make us his fellow heirs. Through
    the same...December 14
    CapitulumEcce Deus noster: ecce Domi-
    nus Deus in fortitudine veniet,
    et brachium ejus dominabitur:
    ecce merces ejus cum eo, et
    opus illius coram illo.The ChapterBehold our God: behold the Lord
    God shall come with strength, and
    his arm shall rule: Behold his re-
    ward is with him, and his work is
    before him. (Isaiah 40, 9-10)Aña O Adonai, * et Dux domus
    Israël, qui Moysi in igne flam-
    mae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Si-
    na legem dedisti: veni ad redi-
    mendum nos in brachio exten-
    to.Aña O Adonai, * and leader of
    the house of Israel, who didst ap-
    pear to Moses in the fire of the
    burning bush, and gavest him
    the Law on Sinai; come thou to
    redeem us with arm outstretched. OratioDeus, qui hominem de lapsu in
    mortem Unigeniti tui adventu
    redimisti: praesta, quaesumus;
    ut qui ejus gloriosam fatentur
    Incarnationem, ipsius Redemp-
    toris consortia mereantur:
    Qui tecum.The PrayerGod, who didst redeem man from
    the fall unto death by the coming
    of Thy Only begotten Son; grant,
    we beseech Thee, that they who
    confess His glorious Incarnation
    may merit the fellowship of that
    very Redeemer; who liveth and
    reigneth with Thee...December 15
    CapitulumEcce radix Jesse ascendet in
    salutem populorum: ipsum
    gentes deprecabuntur: et erit
    nomen ejus gloriosum.The ChapterBehold the root of Jesse shall
    arise for the salvation of the
    peoples; him the Gentiles shall
    beseech, and his name shall be
    glorious. (Isaiah 11, 10)Aña O Radix Jesse, * qui stas
    in signum populorum, super
    quem continebunt reges os
    suum, quem gentes depreca-
    buntur: veni ad liberandum
    nos, jam noli tardare.Aña O root of Jesse, * that stand-
    est as an ensign of the peoples,
    at whom the kings shall shut their
    mouths, whom the Gentiles shall
    beseech: come thou to deliver us,
    delay thou not. OratioFestina, ne tardaveris, Domi-
    ne, Deus noster: et a diaboli-
    co furore nos potenter libera-
    re dignare: Qui cum.The PrayerHasten, delay Thou not, o Lord,
    our God; and deign Thou
    mightily to deliver us from the
    wrath of the devil. Who with
    the Father...The Prophet Isaiah, by Antonio Balestra (1666-1740). “And one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed.” (Isaiah 6, 6-7 – Public domain image from Wikipedia.)December 16
    CapitulumDedi te in foedus populi, in
    lucem gentium, ut aperires
    oculos caecorum, et educe-
    res de conclusione vinctos,
    de domo carceris sedentes
    in tenebris.The ChapterI have given thee for a covenant
    of the people, for a light of the
    Gentiles: that thou may open the
    eyes of the blind, and bring forth
    the prisoners out of prison, and
    them that sit in darkness out of
    the prison house.
    (Isaiah 42, 6-7)Aña O clavis David, * et
    sceptrum domus Israël; qui
    aperis, et nemo claudit; clau-
    dis, et nemo aperit: veni, et
    educ vinctum de domo car-
    ceris, sedentem in tenebris,
    et umbra mortis. Aña O key of David, * and
    sceptre of the house of Israel;
    who openest, and no man shut-
    teth; shuttest, and no man open-
    eth: come thou, and lead forth
    the prisoner from the prison-
    house, and him that sitteth in
    darkness, and in the shadow of
    death.OratioAurem tuam, quaesumus,
    Domine, precibus nostris ac-
    commoda: et mentis nostrae
    tenebras gratia tuae visita-
    tionis illustra: Qui vivis.The PrayerIncline Thy ear, Lord, we be-
    seech Thee, unto our prayers,
    and lighten the darkness of
    our minds by the grace of
    Thy visitation; Who livest.December 17
    CapitulumOrietur vobis timentibus no-
    men meum sol justitiae, et
    sanitas in pennis ejus.The ChapterUnto you that fear my name,
    the Sun of justice shall arise,
    and health in his wings.
    (Malachi 4, 2)Aña O Oriens, * splendor lu-
    aeternae, et sol justi tiae:
    veni, et illumina sedentes
    in tenebris, et umbra mortis.Aña O Dayspring, * splendor
    of the light eternal, and sun
    of justice; come thou, and
    enlighten them that sit in
    darkness and the shadow of
    death.OratioMentes nostras, quaesumus,
    Domine, gratia tuae visita-
    tionis illustra: ut esse te lar-
    giente mereamur et inter
    prospera humiles, et inter
    adversa securi. Qui cum.The PrayerEnlighten our minds, we be-
    seech Thee, Lord, by the
    grace of Thy visitation; that
    of Thy bounty we may merit
    to be humble in prosperity,
    and safe in adversity. Who
    with the Father. December 18
    CapitulumEcce dies veniunt, dicit Do-
    minus, et suscitabo David
    germen justum: et regnabit
    rex, et sapiens erit, et faciet
    judicium et justitiam in
    terra.The ChapterBehold the days come, saith
    the Lord, and I will raise up
    to David a just branch: and a
    king shall reign, and shall be
    wise, and shall execute
    judgment and justice upon
    the earth. (Jeremiah 23, 5)Aña O Rex gentium, * et desi-
    deratus earum, lapisque angu-
    laris, qui facis utraque unum:
    veni, et salva hominem, quem
    de limo formasti.Aña O King of the gentiles, *
    and the Desire thereof, and
    cornerstone that makest of
    twain one: come, to save
    man, whom Thou didst
    make from the mud of the
    earth.OratioExcita, quaesumus, Domine,potentiam tuam, et veni: ut abimminentibus peccatorum no-strorum periculis, te merea-mur protegente eripi, te libe-rante salvari: Qui vivis.The PrayerStir up Thy strength, o Lord,
    we beseech Thee, and come;
    that we may merit to be deli-
    vered from the imminent
    dangers of our sins by Thee
    our protector, and saved by
    Thee our liberator. Who livest.December 19
    CapitulumDominus enim judex noster,
    Dominus legifer noster, Do-
    minus rex noster, ipse sal-
    vabit nos.The ChapterFor the Lord is our judge,
    the Lord is our lawgiver,
    the Lord is our king:
    he will save us. (Isaiah 33, 22)Aña O Emmanuel, * Rex et
    legifer noster, exspectatio
    gentium, et Salvator earum:
    veni ad salvandum nos, Do-
    mine, Deus noster.Aña O Emmanuel, * our King
    and Lawgiver, longing of the
    Gentiles, and Savior thereof:
    come Thou to save us, o Lord
    our God.OratioOmnipotens Christe, Unige-
    genite Dei, propitius ad sal-
    vandum populum in te cre-
    dentem veni: ut benignitate
    solita ab omni dubietate et
    metu temporis nos jubeas
    liberari: Qui cum Deo Patre.The PrayerChrist Almighty, Onlybegotten
    Son of God, of Thy mercy
    come Thou to save the people
    that believeth in Thee; that by
    Thy wonted kindliness, Thou
    mayest command us to be
    freed of every doubt, and
    fear of our times. Who with
    the Father...The translations of the Scriptural passages are taken from the Douay-Rheims version; where the quotation is different from the actual words of Scripture (a common enough feature of medieval liturgical texts), I have placed the changed words in italics. The translations of the antiphons are based on those in the English version of the Roman Breviary by the Marquess of Bute, with many modifications; those of the prayers are my own. The Chapter which accompanies O Radix Jesse is based on Isaiah 11, 10, but is actually quoted from a responsory of the Third Sunday of Advent. Likewise, the prayer which accompanies O Clavis David is that of the Third Sunday of Advent, and that which accompanies O Rex gentium is that of the First Sunday.
    A 15th century stained glass window of Augsburg Cathedral, showing the Coronation of the Virgin Mary at top, the Annunciation on the lower left, and the Birth of Christ on the lower right.
  31. Site: Zero Hedge
    9 hours 27 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

    In a mere two years, the United States debt has massively grown.  In fact, the amount of debt the US incurred equaled the size of the entire Brazilian economy.

    U.S. government debt is on track this year to rise at the fastest pace since 2012,reported the Los Angeles Times.  The strong yet quickly weakening economy is failing to keep pace with the wave of red ink that’s rising under the Trump administration and there appears to be no end to the spending in sight.

    The total public debt outstanding has jumped by $1.36 trillion, or 6.6%, since the start of 2018, and by $1.9 trillion since President Trump took office, according to the latest Treasury Department figures. The latter figure is about the size of Brazil’s gross domestic product.

    As of Monday, the nation’s debt stood at a record $21.9 trillion. The borrowing is needed to cover a budget deficit that expanded by an estimated $779 billion in Trump’s first full fiscal year as president, the widest fiscal gap in six years, since Barack Obama’s term. By the end of Trump’s first term, the debt is expected to rise by $4.4 trillion despite historically low unemployment, relatively low interest rates and robust growth.

    In other words; the United States is actively committing suicide.

    Debt has become the default, but at some point, the entire system will crumble.

    Government funding for some agencies runs out after December 21 barring an agreement over the budget, while the statutory debt limit has been temporarily suspended through March 1, though the Treasury can take measures to keep paying the government’s bills for a few more months.

    Without extreme debt conditions, economic downturns cannot be created (or at least sustained for long periods of time). According to the amount of debt weighing down a system, banking institutions can predict the outcomes of certain actions and also influence certain end results. For example, if the Fed was interested in conjuring a debt based bubble, a classic strategy would be to set interest rates artificially low for far too long. Conversely, raising interest rates into economic weakness is a strategy that can be employed in order to collapse a bubble. This is what launched the Great Depression, it is what ignited the crash of 2008, and it is what’s going on today.

    - Brandon Smith, Alt-Market.com

  32. Site: LifeNews
    9 hours 30 min ago
    Author: Dave Andrusko

    When micropreemies, such as Rowan Breyts, are born so tiny and so fragile, it requires a lot of parental fortitude and faith not to give into gloom-and-doom diagnoses. But after a 209 day stay in a neonatal unit, the little boy whom doctors gave less than a 1% chance of survival, is at home with his family in Indiana.

    It’s easy to understand why a hospital in Illinois asked them to prepare for Rowan’s death. He was born three months premature, weighing barely over a pound, according to Caleb Parke of Fox News, and suffered from Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), an aggressive infectious disease that attacks intestines.

    “Without a small intestine, he could never eat,” Breyts told Parke.

    “He would never grow. He was too small to hope for a transplant. It was a death sentence,” Breyts said of the diagnosis. “We kissed him and cried, telling him how much we loved him and wished there was something we could do.”

    Moreover, as his mother, Jess Novac, told Alexa Green of Fox 59:

    “It was a hard balance between I wanted him to survive, but I was a realistic person, they told me he was going to die. I just didn’t want him in any pain and drag it out at that point.”

    But Rowan wouldn’t give up. Over the course of two months, rather than worsening, he improved. Looking for a second opinion, Novac and Breyts contacted Riley’s Children Hospital in Indianapolis.

    According to the couple, the hospital staff “even mentioned the possibility of a transplantation of his intestines.” That had not even been a consideration at the Illinois hospital.

    The day Rowan was accepted, he was transferred by helicopter to Riley Children Hospital where surgery was performed just four days later. Lo and behold one of the doctors “told me they saw a lot of pink viable intestine, which was the exact opposite of what we had been told,” Breyts said.

    Click Like if you are pro-life to like the LifeNews Facebook page and receive the latest pro-life news.

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    LifeNews.com

    In the two months Rowan had stayed in the Illinois hospital, all the parents could offer was their company, their tears, and their apologies (as if it was their fault, which it wasn’t).

    Now the little boy who weighed barely a pound at birth, weights 13 pounds, 9 ounces. His is healthier with each day.

    “Seeing him myself and knowing where he came from as far as how small he was and the issues that he had, in my heart he is a miracle,” Breyts told FOX 59. “He’s an honest-to-God miracle.”

    LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. This post originally appeared at National Right to Life News Today.

  33. Site: Zero Hedge
    9 hours 47 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Reporters who had descended on a Manhattan courthouse on Friday grew frustrated as a "dramatic scene" unfolded which may or may not have something to do with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to BuzzFeed News

    The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit heard Friday morning arguments involving a grand jury matter that is currently sealed - a typical practice while cases are pending. The publicly available information on the case offer little clues as to what's going on, as there are no description of the subject of the case, no information on the parties or their lawyers, and no public access to the documents. 

    The tight-lipped approach of Mueller and his team has led to rampant speculation and curiosity. In October, Politico reported that on the day a filing was due in the sealed grand jury case, a journalist overheard a man in the clerk's office request a copy of the special counsel office's latest sealed filing so that the man's law firm could put together a response. Several hours later, a sealed response was filed in the grand jury case.

    It was not confirmation that the sealed grand jury case was indeed related to Mueller's investigation, but it was enough to make Friday's arguments a must-attend event. -BuzzFeed

    What makes this interesting is that the federal court in DC is where Mueller's team has brought most of their cases - as there have been two other grand jury matters we know about in front of said court; one relates to Paul Manafort and the other is still pending in the DC Circuit involving former Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller. 

    Reporters began to gather more than an hour before arguments were scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., however no members of Mueller's team, anyone connected to the Russia investigation, or anyone from the Trump administration were spotted. After arguments began, reporters began to huddle outside the courtroom in the hopes of discovering more about the case. 

    The first case was argued. Then the second. Still nothing. At the end of arguments in the second case, court employees instructed everyone in the courtroom to leave. Court staff and security officials then cleared the entire floor, an unusual occurrence in the courthouse. Reporters scattered, staking out other hallways, stairwells, and exits. At one point at least 20 journalists roamed the courthouse building and its grounds.

    After roughly an hour and a half, reporters were allowed back onto the floor, although the courtroom was locked and it wasn't clear if arguments had ended. A little after noon, the courtroom deputy confirmed that the judges were, in fact, done hearing arguments for the day.

    "I'm ready to go to sleep forever," one reporter was heard saying as she boarded an elevator to leave. -BuzzFeed

    In short - something apparently big happened today in a Manhattan court, which may or may not involve the special counsel's investigation, and nobody knows anything about the case outside of public records showing that the sealed grand jury case was filed in August, made two trips to the DC circuit, lost one appeal - and a second appeal was heard by a three-judge panel on Friday. 

    Until we know more, this is much ado about nothing. 

  34. Site: RT - News
    10 hours 2 min ago
    Author: RT
    The fate of millions of faithful and over 200 monasteries are in the hands of Ukraine’s president, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said, urging the international community to stop Kiev from deepening the religious rift.
    Read Full Article at RT.com
  35. Site: Gloria.tv
    10 hours 3 min ago
    Author: Tesa
    China has detained more than a million Muslims in concentration camps — and no one is doing anything about it
  36. Site: LifeNews
    10 hours 6 min ago
    Author: John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera

    Another week… another example of how physician-assisted suicide targets the vulnerable. This time: Asperger’s patients.

    In 2010, 38-year-old Tine Nys was one of approximately 1,000 people euthanized in Belgium. Nys was not suffering from a terminal illness. In fact, she wasn’t sick at all.

    As I’ve mentioned before on BreakPoint, despite how it’s sold around the world, inevitable death isn’t a requirement for euthanasia in Belgium. The standard for eligibility is “unbearable and untreatable suffering,” which has come to include psychological suffering. Between 2005 and 2014, 124 people diagnosed with a “mental and/or behavioral disorder” were euthanized in Belgium. These included conditions such as depression and dementia.

    But in Nys case, it’s wasn’t even clear she was “suffering” at all, much less in an “unbearable and untreatable” sense. Nys had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism.

    Asperger’s is characterized by, among other things, difficulty in social situations and restricted interests. It’s also characterized by “remarkable focus and persistence,” “attention to detail,” and an aptitude for recognizing patterns.

    If that doesn’t sound especially unbearable, you’re correct. And many people agree. Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has called Asperger’s a possible “big advantage” in places like Silicon Valley. In fact, the person who helped me write this commentary will tell you that he displays more than a few Asperger’s characteristics, and he and I both will tell you that those characteristics help him do the amazing job he does.

    If all that was “wrong” with Nys was Asperger’s, then even under Belgium’s absurdly lax standards, her request for euthanasia should not have been approved. And so her family filed a criminal complaint against the doctors who approved her request.

    Keep up with the latest pro-life news and information on Twitter. //

    Here’s the good news: the head of Belgium’s euthanasia review commission announced he would no longer accept patients referred by Nys’s psychiatrist, Lieve Thienpont, who, by the way, partially justified Nys’s death by referring to her family as “seriously dysfunctional, wounded, (and) traumatized… with very little empathy and respect for others.”

    Still, this is too little, too late. As early as 2015, Belgian doctors were aware of “the high number of requests that this psychiatrist fielded and how many of them were approved.”

    Here’s more good news: in late November, Belgian officials opened a criminal investigation into this psychiatrist, and into two other doctors concerning the circumstances of Nys’s death.

    The bad news is this will do nothing to roll back Belgium’s culture of death. After all, Thienpont isn’t the only Belgian doctor approving requests for euthanasia from people whose “unbearable and untreatable” condition is simply psychological or even autism. She’s simply the doctor most associated with a practice the New York Post called “controversial” and “hotly debated.” That’s not the same thing as illegal.

    The case of Tine Nys is more evidence that talk about protecting vulnerable people from euthanasia once the cat is out of the bag is just that, talk. Since 2002, more than 10,000 people have been euthanized in Belgium, and before Thienpont, only one other case was referred to prosecutors and that one was eventually dropped.

    Once you concede that some lives are not worth living, then the criteria for what “not worth living” means will inevitably expand. Euthanasia isn’t nor has it ever been about alleviating suffering. It’s about personal autonomy, the “right” to live or die as you choose, and the advancement of a culture of death.

    After all, it only took Belgium eight short years to go from euthanizing terminal cancer patients to killing people whom, under different circumstances, might be working in Silicon Valley.

    Or for that matter, writing for BreakPoint.

    LifeNews Note: John Stonestreet writes for BreakPoint.org. This article was originally posted here.

  37. Site: Zero Hedge
    10 hours 7 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

    On Tuesday, we put on a small S&P 500 trading position for an oversold bounce. At first, it didn’t work and we were almost stopped out, but a late day rally kept us in the position.

    Wednesday was a different picture as stocks rocketed out of the gate on more “trade talk” news with China, but that rally faded as well heading into late day as the owner of the “National Enquirer” was granted immunity in exchange for details on another Trump-related “hush money” payment.

    Yesterday, the markets struggled out of the gate as economic data pointed to slowing rates of inflationary pressure and economic growth, fell into negative territory, and then ended the day flat.

    This morning stocks opened down as concerns of global economic weakness rose from China.

    So far, the “Santa Rally” has failed to appear and traders are beginning to wonder if they are on the “Naughty List”this year? With all of the rhetoric over trade, White House shenanigans, and weak economic data, it certainly would seem to be the case.

    But, it may actually be more of the “Grinch (aka The Fed) That Stole Christmas” this year.

    While the Fed’s rate hikes do indeed raise borrowing costs and slow economic growth, it is the extraction of liquidity from the markets which is most important. As shown in the chart below, the Fed is now reducing their flows by $50 billion each month. This is in direct contrast to the billions they were injecting previously which corresponds with the markets decade-long bull market despite weak revenue growth due to a sluggish economic expansion.

    But it is no longer just the Fed. On Thursday, the European Central Bank made two important announcements.

    1. They will stop adding to its stock of government and corporate bonds at the end of December, and;

    2. They are seeing signs of weaker inflation and economic growth.

    In other words, as world markets are beginning to struggle as the driver of the decade-long bull market is being removed.

    But yet, despite the market turmoil this year, which certainly got investors attention, the debate has turned to whether the decline is over or has it just begun?

    Dana Lyons had an interesting point earlier this week on the bout of selling.

    “Specifically, regardless of the closing performance, the past 4 days have seen the S&P 500 drop at least 1.89% each day on an intra-day basis. That is just the 11th streak of such selling pressure in the S&P 500 going back to 1960, and the first since 2008. If we relax the parameter a bit to 4 straight intraday drops of at least 1.7%, we observe 17 occurrences going back to 1960. Many of them occurred at interesting market junctures.”

    “As the chart displays, several of these instances occurred in the direct vicinity of cyclical market bottoms, including 1974, 1982, 1987, 2002 and 2009. That might give bulls some hope that perhaps things have gotten so bad, i.e., rock bottom, that there’s nowhere to go but up. Although, it is probably a stretch to conclude that we are at a cyclical low right now since we were at all-time highs just about 10 weeks ago. And looking back at the chart, we see that some of the other historical events, e.g., 1974, 2001, 2008, occurred during the meat of a bear market and saw stocks just continue to fall further, going ‘subterranean’ if you will.”

    I agree with Dana that it is hard to imagine we are at a cyclical low when we were just pegging all-time highs a few short weeks ago. As noted by Barbara Kollmeyer, Jeff Gundlach may have this right:

    “DoubleLine founder Jeff Gundlach, who told clients Tuesday evening that the S&P 500 could take out February’s 2018 low due to a growth slowdown hitting company profits.

    ‘Many equity markets are down over 20%, which some people call a bear market,’ Gundlach said in his latest webcast, according to Reuters. ‘I don’t really define bear markets as a certain fixed arbitrary percentage. I think of it more as mood. And certainly, the setup for the equity markets looked like a bear market going into the middle of this year…the global equity market which is strongly in a bear market at the present time.’

    Bottom line, his mood is still bearish, considering he warned us in November that stocks still hadn’t hit a ‘panic low.'” 

    While the Fed could certainly reduce, or even eliminate, their rate hike campaign, the extraction of liquidity is a much more problematic issue. Combined with still elevated valuation, weaker economic growth, and declining profit growth, it is highly likely that Lyons and Gundlach are correct in that the S&P 500 has yet to find a lasting bottom.

    For now, “we have our stocking hung with care in hopes that Saint Nick will soon be there,” but don’t be surprised if you wind up with a “big lump of coal.”

    Just something to think about as you catch up on your weekend reading list.

    Economy & Fed Markets Most Read On RIA Watch

    Danielle Dimartino-Booth – Quill Intelligence, LLC

    Peter Atwater – Financial Insyghts

    Research / Interesting Reads

    “The market may be bad, but I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every hour and cried. – Anonymous

  38. Site: OnePeterFive
    10 hours 14 min ago
    Author: Ryan Grant

    The papacy of Pope Francis has set many new bars for the Church. Many of us, who are faithful Catholics, have been shocked and dismayed as he appointed heterodox clergy and prelates; promulgated highly ambiguous documents that appear to challenge formal teaching; and terrified us with unguarded language of the latest airplane presser like a lightning bolt from the hand of Zeus, poised to strike at any time. “Who am I to judge” and the reluctance to handle the problems stemming from homosexuality in the clergy have caused many faithful even more dismay.

    It is little wonder that some people wish it would all go away. In recent years, some people have decided they will do just that. How? By putting it in a hat and pulling out a rabbit named Benedict. These individuals, believing that Pope Benedict did not properly abdicate the papal throne (for one reason or another, all of them wrong, as we shall see), argue that he and not Pope Francis is the true pope. Therefore, all the insanity goes away, problem solved, huzzah! Some have coined a term for them: “Benevacantists.” I will use this term as an easy reference for these individuals who hold for a certain fact that Benedict is the pope, while Francis is not.

    The great problem with the Benevacantists is that they have invented the principles and then imposed them upon the Church as if binding on even the pope himself. They then declare that Pope Francis is not the pope and that Benedict is. They describe his resignation as the “attempted abdication” or “attempted resignation” in a definitive sense, usually on the basis of various theories of events or on some perceived turn of the Latin of the resignation, with no hard facts. What is particularly galling is that, although this is an area that the angels fear to tread, you have people with no fundamental competence in Latin or theology proceeding to tell us what the Latin of the resignation really means, or what these nonexistent laws of resignations are.

    Apart from the personalities of some of those involved in perpetuating this thesis, which one priest has rightly called insanity, we can boil down the propositions to the following, which are held separately or together, depending upon whom you talk to:

    – The Latin switches terminology to prove that Benedict resigned only one part of the papacy and not another, making the whole thing invalid.

    – The Latin of Benedict’s resignation is grammatically incorrect.

    – Pope Benedict was under grave duress, therefore his resignation was not free.

    – The “St. Gallen Mafia,” as revealed by Cardinal Danneels, canvassed for votes and arranged things to elect then-cardinal Bergoglio, so the whole election of Francis is invalid.

    What does the resignation really say?

    The first place on which to focus is the question of the resignation. I have never read any translation of it, only the original Latin. As always, care really must be taken regarding the propriety of language and syntax when approaching ecclesiastical documents, and even more so when one is attempting to argue from a document a matter of grave consequence to the whole Church.

    One of the most notable proponents of Benevacantism attempted, in one blog post, to show that the use of the subjunctive for vacare – namely, vacet – by Pope Benedict to indicate that the See of Peter will be made vacant was a potential subjunctive that meant “may become vacant” but not that it will – so he couldn’t have resigned! But this is utterly erroneous, because the clause in which it appears, coming at the end of the second paragraph, reads (my emphasis), “declaro me … renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 20, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet”. The clause employed here is what is called in grammar a result clause. This means that in English, it sounds indicative, indicating the result of the action, and signaled by the use of ita (so) and the particle ut. Thus, literally, it translates to “I declare that I renounce … what was entrusted to me by the Cardinals so much so that from the 28th of February 2013, at 8:00 P.M., the see of Rome, the see of St. Peter will be vacant.”

    When this error in the vacet argument was pointed out to the above commentator, she attempted to cover herself by saying a Latin professor somewhere told her that most students make that mistake. That is just the point: students make these errors, and we may well expect them to. In this case, the notion that the Latin subjunctive is always potential in meaning is one of those myths that afflicts the inexperienced. It is rather the opposite: the subjunctive is most often employed in a dependent clause connected to an indicative verb that has an indicative feeling or sense, not a potential one [1]. That concept should be the backbone of understanding for anyone competent in Latin. The fact that the commentator in question made such a mistake demonstrates that she does not have the fundamental competence in Latin to be making arguments from the text, let alone the prudence to approach the question. If you are going to engage in a potentially (sic) schismatic act, you want to be darn sure you have your is dotted and your ts crossed, and not vice versa.

    Now let us take on the main argument: that Benedict, willing or unwilling, tried to split the papacy by renouncing only one part of the potestas, or the papal power, so that Francis could take it, which is impossible; therefore, the resignation was not valid, and Benedict is still pope. Essentially, he should have used the word munus (office), but instead, he used the word ministerium (ministry), so he couldn’t really renounce the papacy.

    Let’s look at the Latin, part of which we just cited, a little more closely. The Benevacantists argue that after twice using the word munus (munus Petrinum and hoc munus in the first and second paragraph, respectively), he then uses ministerium, therefore he must be implying that he is renouncing something other than the Petrine office. After laying out that he no longer has the strength to carry out the obligations of the papacy, he declares (my emphasis):

    Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commisso renuntiare, etc.

    The argument about a difference between munus and ministerium does not hold water for several reasons. The first is that they are more or less synonymous. Munus can mean a gift, although even there it is not disconnected from the notion that it is a gift that carries responsibility. In ecclesiastical parlance, it typically means an office or duty. Thus, the episcopate, and the papacy, is considered a munus, properly speaking. In this sense, it is roughly synonymous with officium, which is the Roman word for duty. Ministerium can mean a ministry or service, but it also means office or duty, in the sense of the essence of what the munus entails. In fact, Forcellini uses the word munus to describe ministerium in the Lexicon Totius Latinitatis: “MINISTERIUM, -ii, n. 2 (<minister), opera et munus ministri et famuli” (my emphasis) [2]. Cicero shows that munus can mean the very work that is done in an office, just as ministerium does [3]. Stelton’s dictionary of ecclesiastical Latin lists for ministerium: “ministry, service, office, duty” [4]. St. Thomas refers to the use of ministerium to refer to the power and office of the papacy: “[s]ome power was also conferred to ministers of the Church, who are dispensers of the Sacraments, to remove the obstacle, not of itself, but by the divine power and the power of the passion of Christ, and this power is metaphorically called the key of the Church (clavis ecclesiae), which is the key of service (clavis ministerii)” [5].

    The conclusion we can draw is that munus and ministerium were meant by Pope Benedict to mean the same thing. It is not unusual in vernacular in modern parlance to use office and ministry as one and the same word. There may be no particular reason why Benedict uses the word ministerium in place of munus even after using the former; writers frequently use synonyms to break up the overuse of specific words. Or it could simply be that the pope is far better read in Latin than the Benevacantists. The import of what St. Thomas is saying above is that the key of the Church, which is also called the key of ministry, or service, is the authority to discern and the power to judge [6]. On what planet, we ask, if this is what the Pope Emeritus renounced, can that not be understood as the office and power of the papacy?

    Furthermore, given the fact that the terms may be used synonymously in the vernacular as well as Latin, and given Pope Benedict’s subsequent actions, the burden is on the Benevacantist to read the pope’s thoughts for us and show us what was in his mind. Being an impossible burden, we must reject it in favor of the obvious: Benedict meant to resign the entirety of the papacy, and his vacating the office and allowing another conclave to take place is the proper interpretation of his intentions.

    But what if the Benevacantist Latin arguments had some real validity? Even then, we are faced with the fact that the Church does not demand a prescribed formula for the pope to resign, nor is there a specific model to follow. In Canon Law, it says instead:

    “If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone” [7]. The emphasis here is on rite manifestetur, or duly manifested. The word rite is an adverb meaning in a due manner, correctly, or appropriately. Here it is modifying manifestare, which is as it is in English. This means the pope needs only to properly manifest – that is, make it clear in the external forum – that he is resigning. Furthermore, he carried it out. What clearer manifestation of his will could there be? So even if the pope made a grammatical error in his resignation document (as some maintain), or if he used an imprecise word, his actions proved what he intended.

    External Forum

    This leads us to the next consideration. The papacy is a public office. Its reception is public, and a resignation of that office is publicly manifested. That means the presumption is on the validity of the resignation until it is proven otherwise in the external forum. That is, the resignation must be shown to be false in ecclesiastical courts – not on a blog, not on Facebook, and not in the formal declaration of some layman or even a cleric.

    Propter metum

    Now let us consider the argument of fear or duress that is often alleged. Proponents of this argument may quote Canon 188: “A resignation submitted out of grave fear, which has been unjustly inflicted, or because of fraud, substantial error or simony is invalid by the law itself” [8]. The difficulty is that in all acts done out of fear, there is in fact a consent to the act that is, in principle, actual consent.

    This is attested to also in Canon Law: “An act placed because of grave fear, which has been unjustly inflicted, or because of fraud is valid unless the law makes some other provision; but such an act can be rescinded by the decision of a judge, either at the instance of an injured party, or at that party’s successor’s in law, or ex officio” [9]. The import of this is that if the pope were pressured by some nebulous fear, arising from some nebulous threat, as certain blogs have opined, it would be necessary for this to be shown in a canonical court, by that party or someone succeeding to his claims, and at that point, when this fear is demonstrated in the external forum, then, and only then, could we have such a confirmation.

    The result of this is that unless the Benevacantists want to go back to Gallicanism or Conciliarism, there is only one person who could possibly put into effect a canonical trial of this matter, and that is Pope Francis.

    To summarize the questions viz. Pope Benedict’s completed and confirmed abdication, we can draw this sort of analogy. The consequence of individual laity “definitively declaring” Benedict’s resignation to be invalid, on their own authority, is not at all different from a man who discovers that his marriage is invalid due to some impediment. Even if he were one hundred percent correct and this impediment were as plain as the summer sun, he cannot just run off and marry some other woman unless the Church has granted him a declaration of nullity, which is a judgment in the external forum. In other words, because the sacrament of matrimony is a public act, not unlike taking the office of the papacy or renouncing it, any defects affecting validity must be publicly adjudicated by the Church through the annulment process so that a definitive judgment will be issued and those concerned will have moral certitude on the matter.

    To make the point even more obvious, Benedict himself has affirmed repeatedly that he did in fact resign, and he even defended his abdication to Cardinal Brandmüller, who had questioned its prudence. But then, some will say, what about Monsignor Gänswein, the pope’s personal secretary, who said, “We have two popes”? This is often used by the Benevacantists as a smoking gun. Again, whatever a third party said, this would have to be determined in the external forum in an ecclesiastical court. But even more, Mgsr. Ganswein has also clarified exactly what he meant, and it does not fit the imaginings of the Benevacantists.

    CRUX: There are a number of cardinals, Paul Badde said during the interview, that are “upset when hearing that the Church currently has two living successors to Peter.” Recently you spoke about an expanded petrine office, that Pope Benedict is said to have introduced. Could you explain that a bit further?

    GÄNSWEIN: I saw from among the reactions that I was imputed to have said a number of things that I did not say. Of course, Pope Francis is the legitimate and legitimately elected pope. Any talk of two popes, one legitimate, one illegitimate, is therefore incorrect.

    What he did in fact say, Gänswein added, was that Benedict continues to be present in prayer and sacrifice, which bears spiritual fruit.

    “When applying common sense, faith and a little theology, that should be clear,” he said.

    But what about the St. Gallen mafia? Cardinal Godfried Danneels, of Belgium, confessed in a book that he and other cardinals were actively canvassing for then-cardinal Bergoglio to be elected pope. Therefore, the Benevacantists say, all the participants were excommunicated, and Bergoglio can’t be pope. Be that as it may, again, following the canonical principles we noted above, an investigation would have to be done to determine the truth or falsity of the matter, as, naturally, such proceedings are secret.

    I don’t have any doubts that Cardinal Danneels should be excommunicated for a multiplicity of reasons. But really, a cardinal writing a book is not a smoking gun; it is rather something that demands investigation. And the person to do the investigating is Pope Francis or a subsequent pope.

    In conclusion, we have seen that there is no prescribed form for a pope to resign from the papacy apart from him making his will known and following it up with action. If there is some pressure, threat, or duress caused by whatever theory one wishes to posit, according to canonical principles, this act remains valid until it is shown otherwise in an ecclesiastical court. The presumption of validity rests upon the current officeholder until proven otherwise, just as in a marriage, presumption of validity rests upon the bond until proven otherwise.

    To overthrow due process, the gift of the Church to the legal systems of the world, and reduce judgment of who the pope is to bloggers and Facebook posts opining from private judgment is to not only attack the visibility of the Church, but to invite schism at levels unseen since the Middle Ages. Five centuries of Protestantism have dulled our senses to the evil of schism, but it is something to be feared rather than welcomed.

    The reality is, there are some who simply are not prepared to suffer under Pope Francis. While this writer is not fond of the current pontiff, he has no hesitation in affirming absolutely that he is pope, even though the same writer does not view his papacy as favorable to the Church, to put it mildly. But given the state of so many Catholics in their moral and spiritual lives, and the unhealthy attention accorded to every papal act, it seems that he is the pope we deserve. Some think everything would be better if we just had Benedict back, but it should not be forgotten that if the testimony of a recent papal critic is true, then Pope Benedict merely placed the infamous Cardinal McCarrick under private sanctions to penance and prayer. And if that story is not true, we know one that certainly is: the placing Marcial Maciel Degollado, the infamous womanizer who sodomized his own son and founded the Legionaries of Christ, under seclusion, penance, and prayer. In other words, Pope Benedict was part of the ecclesiastical corruption that led us to where we are in the current scandals. There is a wide gulf between a truly reforming pope and Pope Benedict, although posterity will no doubt be indebted to him for Summorum Pontificum.

    Finally, if it is the case that Benedict is still pope and Francis is not, then this will be adjudicated by the Church, under the aegis of the current pontificate or a subsequent one. To formally declare, not to merely opine, feel, or secretly wonder, but to definitively declare Benedict’s resignation invalid and Francis to not be the valid occupant, is nothing short of schismatic and to be avoided by all true Catholics.

    [1] To clarify for those who do not know Latin well, the subjunctive (conjunctivum) is a mood (modus) of the verb that is employed to join (hence its Latin name) certain types of dependent clauses with indicative-mood independent clauses. This is its main and proper function, while much less of the time, it is used to indicate hypothetical or potential outcomes.

    [2] “MINISTERIUM, etc., the work and office of a minister and servant.” Op. cit., vol. 3, pg. 249.

    [3] “Nulla ejus ingenii monumenta mandata litteris, nullum opus otii nullum solitudinis munus exstat.” de Officis, 1, 4.

    [4] Op. cit., pg. 162.

    [5] [E]tiam ministris ecclesiae, qui sunt dispensatores sacramentorum, potestas aliqua ad praedictum obstaculum removendum est collata, non propria, sed virtute divina et passionis Christi, et haec potestas metaphorice clavis ecclesiae dicitur, quae est clavis ministerii. 4 Sent. 18, 1. 1. 1c.

    [6] Cf. 4 Sent. 19. 1. 1. 2c, Summa Contra Gentiles, 4, 72.

    [7] Si contingat ut Romanus Pontifex muneri suo renuntiet, ad validitatem requiritur ut renuntiatio libere fiat et rite manifestetur, non vero ut a quopiam acceptetur. Canon 332 §2.

    [8] Renuntiatio ex metu gravi, iniuste incusso, dolo vel errore substantiali aut simoniace facta ipso iure irrita est.

    [9] Canon 125, §2.

    Image courtesy of manhhai via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

    The post Rise of the Benevacantists: Who Is Pope? appeared first on OnePeterFive.

  39. Site: La Salette Journey
    10 hours 18 min ago
    From Reader's Digest: 7 True Christmas Miracles That Will Restore Your Hope for the Holidays.
  40. Site: RT - News
    10 hours 18 min ago
    Author: RT
    The Israeli ambassador to Kiev has expressed outrage, after a region in Ukraine dedicated the year 2019 to the prominent nationalist leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
    Read Full Article at RT.com
  41. Site: Gloria.tv
    10 hours 19 min ago
    Author: Tesa
    Wang Yi, one of China’s best-known Protestant pastors, has been charged for “inciting subversion,” suggesting a serious crackdown on religious groups.
  42. Site: LifeNews
    10 hours 28 min ago
    Author: Michael New, Ph.D.

    On Tuesday, The Washington Post ran an opinion piece by Charlie Camosy, an associate professor of theology at Fordham University.

    In the op-ed, Camosy, who identifies as a “left-leaning pro-lifer,” criticizes the March for Life for having writer and commentator Ben Shapiro as their keynote speaker at this January’s March. Camosy states that speakers like Shapiro and President Trump alienate moderate and liberal pro-lifers and make it difficult to build the broad-based coalition necessary to reverse Roe v. Wade and change abortion policy in this country.

    Camosy’s criticism is misguided. During the past few years, Ben Shapiro has emerged as one of the most incisive conservative commentators in the country. He has over 1.7 million followers on Twitter and his Daily Wire website receives over 140 million page views on a monthly basis.  Furthermore, Shapiro is anything but a robotic Trump booster. In both his podcasts and writing he has offered both praise and criticism for the Trump administration. His appearance will give this January’s March for Life some star power and should certainly generate some extra attention for this year’s march.

    What’s more, Camosy uses Shapiro’s invitation as evidence that politically liberal pro-lifers are marginalized by March for Life organizers. His arguments are unpersuasive. He states that “non-conservative” pro-life groups hold alternative events around the March because they are uncomfortable with its tenor. However, these events are not meant to protest the March, but rather to give like-minded pro-lifers a chance to socialize and network. Furthermore, groups representing liberal pro-lifers participate in various strategy meetings, and many of these groups have booths at both the Students for Life of America (SFLA) conference and the Cardinal O’Connor conference at Georgetown. Both conferences routinely attract large crowds of enthusiastic, and politically diverse, college students.

    REACH PRO-LIFE PEOPLE WORLDWIDE! Advertise with LifeNews to reach hundreds of thousands of pro-life readers every week. Contact us today.

    Camosy claims that pro-lifers have lost ground among young people after Trump’s election. He goes on to say that the youth outreach group, SFLA has quit using the term “pro-life” in their activist work because of unpleasant connotations. However, SFLA President Kristan Hawkins says that this is a mischaracterization. Writing on Facebook, she said SFLA uses the phrase “anti-abortion” because politically liberal groups have co-opted the phrase “pro-life” for other issues and diluted its meaning. For that reason, it is simply easier when recruiting potential members to ask students if they are pro- or anti-abortion. Furthermore, there is a broad body of survey data which shows that the current generation of young people is more receptive to pro-life arguments than their predecessors.

    The pro-life movement has always been ideologically diverse and pro-lifers would do well to highlight that diversity. However, non-conservative pro-lifers should realize that successful outreach to Democrats may take a while to develop. For instance, ten years ago, groups supporting same-sex marriage did not invest much time worrying about their lack of support from Republicans or conservatives. They made consistent inroads into the Democratic Party, gained ground in the court of public opinion, and eventually won the support of some Republicans.  Similarly, a pro-life movement that continues to gain in popularity will, over time, secure the support of more Democratic officeholders.

    Overall, the pro-life movement has quietly made great progress in recent years. There has been a sharp and durable increase in the number of pro-life laws being enacted at the state level.   A higher percentage of unintended pregnancies are being carried to term.  Most importantly, America’s abortion rate continues to fall. That said, most of these positive developments receive scant attention from the mainstream media.  It is unfortunate that media outlets like The Washington Post are eager to highlight internal tensions in the pro-life movement instead of giving pro-lifers an opportunity to promote our arguments and tout the impressive progress we have made.

    LifeNews Note: Michael J. New is an Associate Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. He is a former political science professor at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is a fellow at Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

  43. Site: Zero Hedge
    10 hours 31 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Well that was a week...

    Despite The National Team's efforts on Thursday, the week ended ugly in China...with CHINEXT (China's small cap/tech heavy index) ending red after terrible economic data hit overnight...

     

    European stocks ended the week higher, despite an ugly Friday...

     

    And after a strong start which prompted every media type to claim the bottom is in, Thursday and Friday were a bloodbath...

     

    The S&P 500 closed at its critical 2,600 support level...

     

    US Small Caps broke to fresh 2018 lows - to their lowest since Sept 2017...

    6th day of "sell the fucking rip" in a row...

     

    Year-to-Date, all the majors except Nasdaq are back in the red...

    All the major US equity indices are in correction (down 10%) or worse...

    • Dow -10.5% from highs

    • S&P -11.3% from highs - lowest weekly close since March 2018

    • Nasdaq Comp -14.6% from highs

    • Trannies -17.8% from highs - Nov 2017 lows, worst 2-week drop since Aug 2011

    • Russell 2000 -18.5% from highs - lowest since Sept 2017

    The number of bulls in the AAII survey of U.S. retail investors suffered its biggest one-week decline since 2010 this week. In aggregate, sentiment is still nowhere near the overly pessimistic extremes that typically develop at major lows, but this freak out in the retail channel is a constructive development.

    The S&P Banks and Financials indices are both down over 20% from their highs (in bear market)...

     

    For The Big 4 Bulge Bracket Banks, December has been a bloodbath...

     

    FANG stocks gave back the mid-week squeeze gains (down 23% from their highs)...

     

    AAPL was hammered (down 29% from the highs)...so much for Monday afternoon's panic-bid that CNBC crowed so loud about...

     

    And JNJ crashed most since 2002 as cancer-causing talc headlines hammered the stocks down below its 200DMA (and dragged the Dow down 100pts alone). JNJ lost almost $35 billion market cap...

     

    Tesla stock had another great week... but TSLA bonds didn't - who do you believe?

     

    Breadth is getting extremely weak with just 24% of all NYSE stocks now trading above thei 200DMAs...

     

    And the S&P's put/call ratio has crashed...

     

    And the market's implied correlation is soaring (implying traders using macro overlays to hedge and not being idiosyncratically careful)...

     

    As soon as Tuesday/Wednesday's short-squeeze ran out of ammo, the week went a little pear-shaped...

     

    Credit markets actually rallied on the week in IG and HY spreads...

     

    But Leveraged Loans were a bloodbath...

     

    And stocks have a long way to catch down...

     

    Treasuries rallied on the day as stocks stumbled with 30Y back to unchanged on the week...

     

    And if equity markets are right, bond yields have a long way to fall...

    2s5s remains inverted...

     

    And as far as next week's Fed meeting, odds of a hike have slumped (very weak this close to a meeting)...

    And the market is now pricing in just 9.5bps of hikes in 2019, and a 10bps cut in rates in 2020...

     

    The Dollar Index soared again today (best week since September) - touching its highest since May 2017 intraday...

     

    Offshore Yuan roundtripped on the week

     

    Cable plunged again (5th week in a row) to the lowest weekly close since April 2017... despite a rally on May's confidence vote

     

    Cryptos had another ugly week with Bitcoin Cash crashing 25% ...

     

    Despite the terrible China data, only copper ended the week higher in commodity-land as a strong dollar dragged down PMs and WTI algos went wild...

     

    After two weekly gains (following 7 weeks straight down), WTI resumed its down trend this week testing back to a $50 handle...

     

    Gold was lower in USDollars and in Yuan...

     

    Finally, we note that after this week's rounds of economic data disappointments, all of the major economies in the world are now in negative surprise territory (but ironically the US is least worst for now)... The Global macro surprise index is at 6-month lows

    And this is probably nothing to worry about - the world's most systemically important banks continue to collapse...

  44. Site: Zero Hedge
    10 hours 42 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Hillary Clinton has a message for Bernie Bros, Democratic Socialists and other constituencies of the "Dirtbag Left".

    If you have a problem with the Democrats' agenda (which, as Tucker Carlson explained in an interview last week, has shifted away from empowering "working class" Americans to favoring globalism, militarism and big business) then go vote for somebody else.

    Demonstrating that she clearly hasn't moved on from the embarrassment she suffered at the hands of Bernie Sanders, who nearly defeated her in the 2016 Democratic Primary after riding a wave of support for his socialist agenda (something that polls suggest is becoming increasingly popular with young Americans), Clinton lashed out during a recent interview at "progressives" who won't stop attacking Democrats from the left.

    She cited the abuse received by Kamala Harris - a potential 2020 contender (and potential Clinton rival) - as an example of why the left needs to come together and unify around whoever their party's pick might be.

    "Some of my favorite Democrats - people like Kamala Harris who's out there speaking up and speaking out and is being attacked by the left - enough! If you don't want to support Democrats, then go somewhere else."

    Her remarks are just the latest sign that she has learned nothing from her historic electoral loss to President Donald Trump. And that the DNC's "mother knows best" strategy is stunningly out of touch with every day Americans.

    Dipshit Liberals Now: "If you don't want to support Democrats, then go somewhere else." YAAASSSSS YOU TELL EM"
    Dipshit Liberals In Two Years When Large Amounts of Progressives Stay Home or Vote Third Party: "WHAT THE FUCK YOU RUSSIAN BROS WHY DID YOU GIVE US TRUMP AGAIN" https://t.co/OC4wEvP1Gx

    — Gilets Jawns Movement (@lightfantastic) December 14, 2018

    If telling ppl "support Democrats or go somewhere else" is the 2020 game plan, get ready for a second term of the Trump administration. This is some of the most detached, shameful, out-of-touch bullshit I have seen in a while. If you applauded it, pls slap yourself in the face.

    — Puff the Magic Hater (@MsKellyMHayes) December 14, 2018

    Why shouldn't progressives support Clinton? Look at her many "progressive" accomplishments: Instigating a destructive civil war in Libya, gladhanding with the Saudis, Russians and other foreign powers under the auspices of the Clinton Foundation and helping to deregulate the financial services industry in the years before the financial crisis and generally promising to support free trade, corporate welfare and a robust, muscular US military presence around the world. 

    When Bernie Sanders - who is still the standard-bearer of the American socialist movement - advocated for a $15 minimum wage, Clinton one-upped him by suggesting we go to $12 instead.

    But it's not like disillusioned Democrats have anywhere else to turn...oh wait.

  45. Site: LifeNews
    10 hours 52 min ago
    Author: Gabriel Hays

    Unfortunately, actress Alyssa Milano is back in the news again … again, and this time her activism seems to have taken on a new more insidious form. Parents be warned, the #metoo champion and physical embodiment of Brett Kavanaugh hatred has just signed a deal for a new line of children’s books that promote a healthy dose of progressive activism.

    On Thursday, Entertainment Weekly reported that “Milano has signed a major book deal with Scholastic to a series entitled Hope, with the first volume slated for an October 1, 2019 release.” The book, which is illustrated by Eric S. Keyes, follows the adventures of young female protagonist Hope, who “seeks to create social change in her community.”

    Calling her new series “empowering” (Gosh we get it, already,) Milano stated that it’s important for the sake of kids discovering that their “voice matters.” “I’m so excited about my new character, Hope Roberts,” she said. “She believes in dreaming big. She’s brave and strong and confident in her abilities — but she’s also a girl just trying to survive middle school.”

    Hope’s here to help youngsters understand that they can be all they can be, like top of their class, captain of the JV cheer squad, and still have time to go down to the Supreme Court for their annual exercise in liberal group scream therapy.

    Milano added, “I’m thrilled to be working with Scholastic on this empowering book series and I can’t wait for everyone to meet Hope.”

    This isn’t the first time Alyssa has dabbled with the power of children’s literature for the sake of lefty politics. A week ago, the Charmed star posted video to social media of her reading a satirical book that attacked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. In a Dr. Seuss-style rhyme the actress butchered DeVos’ proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

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    It came as a great joy to Scholastic when the company found out that Milano was interested in making actual children’s books. Vice President and Publisher for Global Licensing, Brands and Media of Scholastic, Debra Dorfman stated, “I’ve been a huge fan of Alyssa Milano’s for years and I was so excited from the very moment she shared her idea and vision for Hope — a series centered around a smart and passionate character who is ready to conquer the world.”

    Dorfman added that “Alyssa is such a positive role model and I admire how she uses her voice and her platform to help those in need around the world, especially children.” Well Dorfman is clearly from another planet, because it doesn’t seem that any sensible parent would want to open their kids up to lefty programming, especially from somebody who embodies the worst hysterics of the #metoo movement.

    LifeNews Note: Gabriel Hays writes for Newsbusters, where this originally appeared.

  46. Site: Zero Hedge
    10 hours 57 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Authored by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com,

    Now nearly a week removed from the OPEC+ agreement, confidence in the efficacy of the deal is becoming shaky.

    Immediately after OPEC+ announced cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day (mb/d), a flurry of reports from oil analysts and investment banks congratulated the group on a job well done. After all, the 1.2 mb/d figure was larger than the market had anticipated.

    However, reality is beginning to set in. First, the cuts might not be realized in January, despite the promise. Russia indicated that it was going to slow walk the cuts, phasing in an initial 50,000 to 60,000 bpd in reductions in January. This is significant because Russia is the main actor in the non-OPEC cohort. The non-OPEC group is expected to slash output by 400,000 bpd, but if Russia is only going to do its part gradually over the next few months, the non-OPEC cuts might not reach the promised levels anytime soon. Moreover, because there are no country-specific allotments, it will be hard to hold any producer accountable.

    That undermines confidence in the deal.

    “Compared to early last week, the outcome was rather disappointing, the whole process wasn’t convincing, and it’s still uncertain whether they will actually cut,” ABN Amro senior energy economist Hans van Cleef told Bloomberg.

    While oil traders are suddenly doubting the integrity of the deal, even if OPEC+ were to adhere to its promised cuts, it still might not be enough. That’s because there are other factors that could leave the market oversupplied. Cracks in the global economy are growing, demand is showing signs of strain, and supply continues to rise.

    The EIA just issued its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, and the agency still expects significant production growth from U.S. shale despite the downturn in prices. The EIA lowered its forecasted 2019 WTI prices by $10 per barrel from its previous report, yet it kept its supply forecast unchanged – it still thinks that U.S. oil production will rise from 10.9 mb/d in 2018 to 12.1 mb/d in 2019, despite the significant downward revision in prices.

    In other words, U.S. shale production may not be slowed by the recent downturn in prices in any dramatic way, and at the same time, with its production cut agreement, OPEC+ reassured shale executives that it wouldn’t let prices fall any lower.

    “The US is not only the world’s largest oil producer at present, but will also remain the leading marginal producer in future,” Commerzbank said in a note.

    According to Rystad Energy, OPEC+ would need to cut an additional 700,000 bpd in order to balance the market and bring Brent back up to $70 per barrel.

    “The  OPEC+ agreement predictably came up short of what Rystad Energy argued would be required to fully balance the market in 2019,” Bjornar Tonhaugen, Rystad Energy head of oil market research, said in a statement.

    “The agreed production cuts will not be enough to ensure sustained and immediate recovery in oil prices. The muted market reaction seen thus far comes as no surprise to us.”

    Rystad says that the cuts agreed to in Vienna provide a “soft floor” beneath oil prices for now, and the group can still succeed if it extends the cuts through the end of 2019. The OPEC+ coalition is set to evaluate the progress of the cuts in April and might decide to extend the cuts in June if they feel the market needs more time.

    “Most likely, OPEC will be forced to conduct production management sporadically over the next few years, unless US shale supply grows even faster than we currently expect. OPEC members have their work cut out for them in the years to come,” Rystad’s Tonhaugen said.

    The supply surplus could still be eliminated by unplanned outages. Libya just lost 400,000 bpd because of encroaching militias, according to the National Oil Corp. Venezuela and Iran are also set to continue to lose output, while Nigeria remains a risk. These events are impossible to predict, and they could quickly erase any supply overhang.

    For now, though, the oil market is not convinced that the OPEC+ cuts will be sufficient to significantly increase oil prices, despite the initial euphoria surrounding the Vienna agreement.

  47. Site: Zero Hedge
    11 hours 4 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Sometimes, in fact quite often, the shortest posts are also the most informative. So we hope that the following three succinct lessons that Bank of America's Chief Investment Strategist said he learned in 2018, are sufficiently self-explanatory to also be educational.

    What we learned in 2018…

    1. That central banks trump everything…when global liquidity peaked in Q1, markets peaked
    2. That we remain in a deflationary world which cannot handle a 10-year Treasury yield above 3%
    3. That investors have no satisfactory answers to the existential questions of “If not stocks, what?”, “If not tech, what?”, “If not the US dollar, what?”

    Here is one bonus lesson for those eager to trade the his market:

    • Sell-the-rip: we wait for Profits & Policy (interest rates) to reset to secular stagnation reality.

    And finally, a problem with extra difficulty, which is causing most investors to "lose the plot":

    • It is rare for combo of such capitulation out of risk, capitulation into US dollar & Fed dovishness not to spark rally; only reason it would not is fear of “credit event” & “policy impotence.”

    c

  48. Site: Zero Hedge
    11 hours 10 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    While the market's frenzied attention has lately shifted to the cracks appearing in the leveraged loan market, which as we reported last night is seeing the "wheels come off" following record outflows, a collapse in loan prices, massive original issue discounts, pulled deals, banks retaining loans on their books unable to find buyers and a general sense that the market is about to freeze, one should not forget the original bogeyman that many believe will be the cause of the next credit crisis when the upcoming recession finally hits: a wholesale downgrade of investment grade (or BBB) rated companies into the junk space as rating agencies finally wake up to the reality of what the combustible mix of record debt, declining cash flows and a contracting economy mean for US corporations.

    And it is here that things are once again moving from bad to worse.

    Recall that just two weeks ago we reported that no less than $90 billion in A-rated bonds had been downgraded to the lowest investment grade rating, BBB, below which companies become "fallen angels" as they move from investment grade to high yield, resulting in forced liquidations as countless vanilla funds are simply not permitted by their mandate to retain junk on their books.

    Fast forward to today when Goldman reports that just two weeks after our original report, the number of A to BBB downgrades has doubled to a whopping $176 billion in the fourth quarter, just shy of the all time high hit in Q4 2015, and with several more weeks still left this quarter, it is likely that a new downgrade record will soon be hit.

    As Goldman's Lotfi Karoui writes overnight, there are good and bad news in the recent data.

    The good news is that in the credit strategist's opinion, the downgrade risk is higher among A-rated issuers than it is among their BBB-rated peers.

    The bad news is that Goldman may have been "too" correct, as this view has continued to play out through 4Q2018, and "quarter to date, over $176 billion of debt has migrated into BBB territory from the A bucket; the highest amount since 4Q2015, which was a period characterized by a heavy wave of commodity-related "fallen angels".

    Meanwhile, as shown by Exhibit 2, $12 billion worth of bonds rated A- remain on downgrade watch, and while Goldman believes that this is a relatively modest number, "we think it is worth bearing in mind that downgrades can – and often do – occur when a rating has a stable outlook."


    Putting these trends in context, Goldman writes that over the long term, "we continue to believe the risk of negative rating action in the high end of IG remains elevated, more so than in the BBB bucket" and highlights one recent example from this week in which the announcement of a debt-funded share buyback – and the related deterioration in leverage – served as the catalyst for a downgrade into BBB territory.

    We do not view this as a unique example. As we discussed recently, the willingness of many highly-rated IG firms to utilize their ample debt capacity for maintaining (or increasing) shareholder returns and pursuing M&A opportunities in 2019 is strong.

    So yes, Goldman may be right, and it is likely that the even bigger risk of a "fallen angel" avalanche is the downgrade of A-rated names to BBB. But while rating agencies are clearly adding to the pre-fallen angel camp, there is no denying that the big threat is what happens if and when the BBB downgrade deluge begins. As Deutsche Bank calculated last month, when looking at those bonds most at risk of getting junked, $150bn of the $736bn of BBB- bonds are currently on negative watch/outlook with at least one rating agency, and in danger of imminent "junking."

    And while Goldman remains clearly complacent about the BBB space at least until a recession hits, as Deutsche Bank warned last week, even before we get to an economic slowdown - some time in 2020 - or even before the market start pricing the slowdown in, "it feels like the tide might be turning and we start to see fallen angels outpace rising stars over the next year."

    So there you have it: for those who believe a recession is either imminent or will soon be priced in, keep shorting the BBB space. Meanwhile, those who think it will take some more time before the rating agencies filter out the noise, the best place to be short is those "pre-fallen" A bonds which will first become BBBs, before they too join the deluge into the junk space, some time around late 2019/early 2020.

  49. Site: Zero Hedge
    11 hours 24 min ago
    Author: Tyler Durden

    Just about a decade after Bernard Madoff was exposed as running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history – and at a time where it feels like his successor could possibly be lingering right around the corner – the flight to recoup lost principal from his fund is carrying on and making significant headway.

    Irving Picard, a New York lawyer who has been working on the liquidation of Madoff's firm in bankruptcy court, has recovered about 70% of approved claims totaling about $13.3 billion. According to a report, he is recovering principle for investors by suing those who profited from Madoff, whether they knew about his scheme or not. He’s targeting billions more and is defying the norm: ponzi scheme recoveries generally only average 5% to 30% - and most investors are left with nothing.

    Kathy Bazoian Phelps, a bankruptcy lawyer at Diamond McCarthy LLP in Los Angeles told Bloomberg“That kind of recovery is extraordinary and atypical.”

    The Madoff fraud wiped out about $19 billion that investors had "invested" with him since the 1970s. From there, it posted $45 billion in fake profits until his scheme blew up as a result of the global financial crisis in 2008. About 4800 client accounts were affected when Madoff was exposed and, as a result, he is currently serving a 150 year prison sentence. His wife was allowed to keep $2.5 million after his plea deal.

    Matthew L. Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor said: "This was the biggest, longest-running and one of the more complex frauds of all times, so it’s not surprising that it’s taking a very long time to be dealt with. [Picard] has really returned unexpected amounts of money to victims."

    Picard has distributed about $11.3 billion of the $13.3 billion he’s recovered with the rest being held in reserve while the case continues to play out in courts. Eventually, the entire fund will be paid to victims. He distributes the money in chunks of several hundred million dollars at a time.

    Picard's lawyers continue to try to revive up to 80 lawsuits where he's seeking an additional $4 billion. The suits had been thrown out two years ago, after a court found that the money was outside the trustee's jurisdiction.

    “It’s the biggest missing piece of the puzzle,” Stephen Harbeck, the chief executive officer of Securities Investor Protection Corp, told Bloomberg.

    The trustee's firm and the third-parties associated with it have been paid $1.67 billion over the last 10 years by the SIPC, not from customer funds. They have also extended a half a million dollar line of credit to victims who have been waiting for claims to be paid.

    If Picard wins the cases he’s currently trying to revive, he will have brought the total recovery for victims to 91% of all lost principle – a result that is nothing short of astounding and a result that Picard called "aspirational".

    Those who have received money back, like former Food Network personality Daphne Brogdon, owe him a debt of gratitude and have been extremely thankful for his efforts.

    She said: “We’re very, very grateful and thankful. I know it’s been 10 years, but it’s still so fresh for me. Sometimes I get a compliment on an outfit and I say, ‘Yeah, I bought that when I was rich.’ Now I shop at Marshalls.”

  50. Site: LifeNews
    11 hours 29 min ago
    Author: Micaiah Bilger

    A Washington, D.C. couple was beginning to enjoy life as empty nesters when they learned of a family crisis. Five siblings, all ages 10 and under, needed a home.

    Tyrone and Karen Mack prayed, “Lord, what can we do?” and then agreed to adopt them all, Live Action News reports.

    Now, the 55-year-olds are parents to young children once again. The five siblings plus the couple’s six grown children make the Macks parents of 11.

    “… we decided to take all the kids and keep them together. I guess that’s what God wanted us to do,” Karen told the Washington Post.

    On Nov. 18, 10-year-old Heaven, 7-year-old Chanel, 6-year-old Hakeem, 5-year-old Hayden and 2-year-old Jeremiah officially became members of the Mack family, according to the report.

    They are the biological children of Tyrone’s niece, who has drug abuse and mental health problems and could no longer care for them. Tyrone said their biological fathers have not been around to take care of them either.

    Initially, the Macks brought the girls and Jeremiah into their home, while the other boys were placed in separate foster homes, according to the report. But the Christian couple said they did not want the siblings to be separated.

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    “It was important that we kept them together,” Tyrone told the Washington Post. “So many people sit back and don’t give their all to kids that are not theirs. But if we didn’t step and take our place in their life, they wouldn’t be society ready. And these children need it more so now because they are our future. They are our Congress. They are our president.”

    Raising five young children comes with many challenges, but the Macks are committed. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the family buy a van.

    Many pro-life and Christian families are stepping up and adopting children in need. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 437,500 children in foster care in the U.S. in 2016, an increase in 2015. Many children in foster care return to their homes, so that total is not the number of children who need forever homes. However, HHS reported that, in that same period, adoptions from foster care increased from 54,000 to 57,000.

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