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UPDATE 12/27/2014: A better analysis of the Ukraine fiasco is here: https://myrandomthoughtdump.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/putins-pounds-of-flesh/

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Brinksmanship?

Brinksmanship

There was a coup in Ukraine, then Russia invaded–but why?

It seems the coup in Ukraine was related to gas (Article 1) and Central Bank corruption (Article 2):

  • Russia was NOT getting paid what they were owed by Ukraine for natural gas. Ukraine’s prior leaders didn’t want to pay for at least two billion dollars worth of gas they stole from pipeline trans-shipments “intended for the EU” but supposedly “used in Ukraine.” Russia has been unsuccessfully pursuing payment for several years. (More here.) It’s reasonable to assume that Ukraine’s leaders continued to steal gas. If only “somehow” Ukraine’s leaders could be replaced by more agreeable leaders, maybe then Russia could collect payments owed (and maybe less Russian gas would be stolen).
  • Ukraine’s prior leaders threatened to NOT renew Russia’s lease of its Black Sea naval base (located in Ukraine) if Russia continued to demand full payment for the gas they had stolen. (More here.) Tsk, tsk. If only “somehow” Ukraine’s leaders could be replaced by more agreeable leaders, maybe then it might be easier for Russia to keep it’s naval base on the Black Sea.
  • Russian gas supplies routed through Ukraine to Europe were disrupted, which is unacceptable to the European Union. In its attempts to get paid by Ukraine, Russia “temporarily” in 2009 cut back the amount of gas routed to Europe through Ukraine’s pipelines. As a result gas supplies to Europe were disrupted and gas prices in the EU shot up. This was outrage to the EU. They complained to Ukraine and Russia. Russia said they just wanted to get paid but Russia agreed to resume gas trans-shipments, but at a reduced level, until they got paid. (More here.) EU leaders were frightened that Ukraine’s leaders wouldn’t ever pay Russia and that there would never be a reliable supply of Russian gas available to Europe. If only “somehow” Ukraine’s leaders could be replaced by more agreeable leaders, maybe then Russia could be paid and Russia could turn EU’s full gas supply back on.
  • Top managers of Ukraine’s Central Bank were stealing from the Central Bank, which endlessly annoyed the Central Bank’s owners. (Article 3) Although there were demands to replace the Ukraine’s Central Bank’s top management, it wasn’t getting done. Owners of Central Banks don’t like it when the “help” start stealing from them. Perhaps these owners came to the conclusion that Ukraine’s prior leaders had to go in order to replace Ukraine’s Central Bank management?

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US economy grinding down, down, down . . .

50% less gasoline sold in US in 2012 (vs. 2007)

(Source: US Government EIA Data)

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Three Ways the Rich and Powerful Have Cheated Young Americans

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Methodist boycott vote ” . . . exposed the issue to the wider church and to the secular public in ways that Israel does not appreciate.”

Occupied Palestinian Territory: Urban Extents

Occupied Palestinian Territory: (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

By a vote of 558 to 367, a strong majority of lay and clerical delegates to the United Methodist General Conference called this week for a boycott of Israeli companies operating in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). (Source)

  • The resolution denounces the Israeli occupation and the settlements in a sweeping indictment.
  • It calls for “all nations to prohibit the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”

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The Story of Brokewhere we chose to spend our taxes:

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Rule Number One. Real estate agents will always say “Now is a Great Time to Buy” no matter what the trend of prices, mortgage rates, or inventory. Here are some phrases to expect depending on current conditions.

  • Prices are going up, better act fast.
  • Alternatively, prices are falling, homes won’t last long at these prices.
  • Interest rates are going up, better buy quick before you get priced out.
  • Alternatively, mortgage rates are falling, they won’t go much lower.
  • Inventory is huge. It’s a buyers’ market.
  • Alternatively, Inventory is shrinking fast. Don’t let your dream home pass you by.

Rule Number Two. Unless you specifically have a buyers’ agent negotiating on your behalf, the agent represents the seller.

For only $239 anyone can take a quickie class and get a real estate agent's license--and then charge you $$ thousands to sell your house. Awesome!

Rule Number Three.  The agent has only two missions:

  • To get you to buy something
  • To get you to pay as much as possible so the agent make the largest commission possible

Rule Number Four.  As a result of rules one, two, and three, it is imperative to be skeptical about anything positive your agent says.

Rule Number Five. It’s equally important, if not more important, to take cues from what the agent does not say. For example, if the agent does not say anything about the school district, it is probably a poorly rated school district. Also, don’t expect the agent to tell you if a crack house is next door, gangs have taken over a neighboring block, the tap water tastes like sulfur, or the street floods every April. At most, agents will only disclose what the law says they must.

(Source)

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How things work–explained from the perspective of the ruling elite:

See also: Econ 101

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Price of Silver

Silver continues to rise in price

Silver is hitting record highs today. It has now QUADRUPLED in price since the financial crisis started 4 years ago. Financial changes are all about how quickly one instrument changes relative to others. Just like in a car crash, it’s not stopping that kills you, it’s how quickly you stop. We are clearly in an area of high volatility. The increase in the price of silver now is a very good example of how our money is loosing more and more value. Today’s quarters can buy far, far less than they could 50 years ago. Dimes, Quarters, and Half dollars minted in 1964 and before were made of 90% silver. 1965 to present are mostly copper and have no silver. In circulation, they’re all traded as 25 cents. Money has changed, and the people that did so knew that by now nobody would remember. Silver and gold retain or increase their purchasing power because they are limited physical resources. Fiat currencies, those monies which are used for trade only because someone with power says it is worthy of such, loose purchasing power over time.

Question 1964 Quarter 1965-Present Quarter
What do they look like?

Mostly Silver Coin

1965-Present 0% Silver

Virtually Worthless Coin

What was the value then? 25 cents 25 cents
What is the value now? $7.31 25 cents
What would it cost to make now? $7.31
90% silver, 10% copper
6.4 cents
92% copper,8% nickel
How much McDonalds “food” can that buy? * Two happy meals with enough left over for dessert. None. You can no longer eat at McDonalds for 25 cents.
And in snarky pie graph form?

Pre-1965 Quarters actually meant something

This is how much more a 1964 quarter is worth than a 1965-Present quarter.

It takes 29 1965 quarters to equal 1 1965 quarter

This is how much of a 1964 quarter you can buy with a 1965-Present quarter.

How much is a roll(40) of quarters worth? $292.40 $10
Where can I sleep for that?

W Los Angeles-Westwood

Trendy W Los Angeles-Westwood, including parking

Parking for a roll of quarters

Parking at the same hotel is $10, maybe they'll let you stay the night...

 

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