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Sears Files For Bankruptcy Protection, Lampert Steps Down As CEO

The melting ice cube that is Sears – once a shining beacon of American consumerism – has finally dissolved. After missing a $134 million Monday debt payment, as was widely expected, CNBC reported early Monday that Sears filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York. To be sure, filing for Chapter 11 protection is a victory of sorts for Lampert, who has managed to convince a coterie of Sears’ largest secured creditors, including Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, into extending a $300 million debtor-in-possession loan that will allow Sears to continue operating (albeit in an even more limited form) through the end of the year (though, if we had to guess, we’d speculate that Lampert secured the loan by convincing these banks that it was in their best interest to allow Sears management to continue slowly stripping assets from the company instead of resorting to a bankruptcy firesale). Lampert has also secured another $300 million from outside investment banks (a loan that, we imagine, is backed by Lampert’s assurances that he is shopping for a buyer for Sears’ popular Kenmore appliances brand, though that buyer could end up being ESL, which has the power to forgive Sears debt in exchange for assets). By staving off Chapter 7 liquidation, Lampert has set up his fund, ESL Investments, as a stalking horse during...

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Family Doctors’ Lobby Lifts Opposition to Assisted Suicide

One of the nation’s largest doctors’ lobbies has retracted its opposition to assisted suicide. Delegates from the American Academy of Family Physicians, which represents more than 130,000 doctors nationwide, voted to change the group’s stance to “engaged neutrality” on the question of whether physicians should be able to prescribe lethal medications to patients. The resolution was reached at the organization’s Congress of Delegates held last week in New Orleans. AAFP president Michael Munger said in a statement posted to the group’s website that the resolution was designed to help doctors care for their patients. “Through our ongoing and continuous relationship with our patients, family physicians are well-positioned to counsel patients on end-of-life care, and we are engaged in creating change in the best interest of our patients,” Dr. Munger said. The resolution goes further than reversing the group’s longstanding opposition. It also seeks to eliminate the phrase “assisted suicide” and replace it with “medical aid in dying,” the preferred term used by supporters of the practice. It also encourages AAFP to woo other physician groups to reverse their opposition. AAFP will seek to convince the national American Medical Association, the largest health care group in the country, to ditch its opposition to assisted suicide and embrace a neutral position—a move that several health care chapters have done at the state level. “The action taken [on Oct. 9] allows the AAFP to advocate...

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India Yet To Figure Out Way To Pay For Iranian Oil Imports

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via Oilprice.com, India hasn’t worked out yet a payment system for continued purchases of crude oil from Iran, Subhash Chandra Garg, economic affairs secretary at India’s finance ministry, said on Friday. India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has conveyed the message that his country would continue to buy Iranian oil to some extent, Garg told CNBC TV18 news channel, as quoted by Reuters. Recent reports have it that India has discussed ditching the U.S. dollar in its trading of oil with Russia, Venezuela, and Iran, instead settling the trade either in Indian rupees or under a barter agreement. India is Iran’s second-largest single oil customer after China and was expected to cut back on Iranian oil purchases, but it is unlikely to cut off completely the cheap Iranian oil that is suitable for its refineries. India wants to keep importing oil from Iran, because Tehran offers some discounts and incentives for Indian buyers at a time when the Indian government is struggling with higher oil prices and a weakening local currency that additionally weighs on its oil import bill. But the United States continues to insist that it expects Iranian oil buyers to bring their purchases down to zero. Earlier this week, Indian officials said that they hoped India could secure a waiver from the United States, because it has significantly reduced purchases of Iranian oil. Late last week, the United States...

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Ecuador Restores Julian Assange’s Internet, Phone And Visitation Privileges

Ecuador has partially restored Julian Assange’s communications in their London Embassy after UN officials met with Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno on Friday, reports the Belfast Telegraph.  Assange, who has lived in the embassy for over six years, had his phone and internet access taken away in March over political statements he made in violation of “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.” His visitor access was also limited to members of his legal team.  Ecuador rolls back @JulianAssange isolation after UN meets with president Background: https://t.co/Mb6gXlz7QShttps://t.co/0UBIVYyKll pic.twitter.com/poFi6nBU4N — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 14, 2018 “Ecuador has told WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that it will remove the isolation regime imposed on him following meetings between two senior UN officials and Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno on Friday,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.  Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, added: “It is positive that through UN intervention Ecuador has partly ended the isolation of Mr Assange although it is of grave concern that his freedom to express his opinions is still limited. “The UN has already declared Mr Assange a victim of arbitrary detention. This unacceptable situation must end. “The UK government must abide by the UN’s ruling and guarantee that he can leave the Ecuadorian embassy without the threat of extradition to the United States.” –Belfast Telegraph Assange, having been granted...

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Violence, Public Anger Erupts In China As Home Prices Slide

Last March, we discussed why few things are as important for China’s wealth effect and economy, as its housing bubble market. Specifically, as Deutsche Bank calculated at the time, “in 2016 the rise of property prices boosted household wealth in 37 tier 1 and tier 2 cities by RMB24 trillion, almost twice their total disposable income of RMB12.9 trillion.” The German lender added that this (rather fleeting) wealth effect “may be helping to sustain consumption in China despite slowing income growth” warning that “a decline of property price would obviously have a large negative impact.” Naturally, as long as the housing bubble keeps inflating and prices keep rising, there is nothing to worry about as the population will keep spending money buoyed by illusory wealth appreciation. It is when housing starts to drop that Beijing begins to panic. Fast forward to today, when Beijing may be starting to sweat because whereas Chinese property developers usually count on September and October to be their “gold and silver” months for sales, this year has turned out to be different. As the SCMP reports, not only were sales figures grim for September, but the seven-day national holiday last week also brought at least two “fangnao” incidents – when angry, and often violent, homeowners protest against price cuts offered by developers to new buyers. These protests are often directed at sales offices, with...

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The Inevitable De-Industrialization Of Europe

Authored by MIke Shedlock via MishTalk, EU ministers agreed to binding cuts in CO2 emissions of 35% by 2030. The German auto industry won’t be able to deliver. The Telegraph reports Berlin court orders German capital to ban most diesel vehicles on 11 major roads to counter pollution. Hamburg was first in May. Stuttgart, home of Mercedes and Porsche, was second in July. A diesel ban in Frankfurt came third. Only older cars that do not meet emission standards are banned, but diesel is now toxic. No one wants to buy diesel. Merkel Can No Longer Protect Car Makers Adding to the woes, Merkel has lost control. She is no longer able to protect German industry. The European Parliament just voted to cut CO2 emissions by 40%. The European ministers voted for a 35% reduction. The latter is binding. Car sales dropped sharply in September. Eurointelligence on Autos and German Industry The German government – backed by its usual eastern European allies – fought in vain to head off the tougher standards. Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze deliberately – and astonishingly – weakened her own negotiating position by making clear that her personal preference would have been for tougher targets than those she was officially defending as her government’s position. An administrative court in Berlin decided yesterday that the city of Berlin needs to ban diesel cars – compliant with...

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F-16 Jets Explode After Mechanic Fires Cannon From Another Parked Jet In Bizarre Accident

An almost unbelievable accident occurred at a Belgian military air base days ago which involved one F-16 jet destroying two others — all while stationary on the ground.  Stunning photos of the aftermath show a completely destroyed Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter and another severely damaged one after a third fired its M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon across the flight line while parked. “You can’t help thinking of what a disaster this could have been,” base commander Col. Didier Polome told a Belgian television news station in the aftermath. The incident happened last Friday at Florennes Air Base in Southern Belgium during routine maintenance of the jet that fired, and reportedly involved the crew servicing an F-16 accidentally triggering the heavy aircraft cannon. Destroyed F-16 at Florennes Air Base in Belgium. Image source: Tony Delvita via The Aviationist The Aviationist reports the following of what is being described as a “bizarre accident“:  Multiple reports indicate that a mechanic servicing the parked aircraft accidentally fired the six-barreled 20mm Vulcan cannon at close range to two other parked F-16s. Photos show one F-16AM completely destroyed on the ground at Florennes. Two maintenance personnel were reported injured and treated at the scene in the bizarre accident. The aircraft being serviced had just been refuelled and had its six barrel cannon loaded as it was being prepped for an afternoon training mission.  The impact of the 20mm bullets on the other...

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NATO Coordinates Information War On Russia

Via The Strategic Culture Foundation, The US, Britain and other NATO allies upped the ante this week with a coordinated campaign of information war to criminalize Russia. Moscow dismissed the wide-ranging claims as “spy mania”. But the implications amount to a grave assault recklessly escalating international tensions with Russia. The accusations that the Kremlin is running a global cyberattack operation are tantamount to accusing Russia of “acts of war”. That, in turn, is creating a pretext for NATO powers to carry out “defensive” actions on Moscow, including increased economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia, as well as “counter” cyberattacks on Russian territory. This is a highly dangerous dynamic that could ultimately lead to military confrontation between nuclear-armed states. There are notably suspicious signs that the latest accusations against Russia are a coordinated effort to contrive false charges. First, there is the concerted nature of the claims. British state intelligence initiated the latest phase of information war by claiming that Russian military intelligence, GRU, was conducting cyberattacks on infrastructure and industries in various countries, costing national economies “millions of pounds” in damages. Then, within hours of the British claims, the United States and Canada, as well as NATO partners Australia and New Zealand followed up with similar highly publicized accusations against Russia. It is significant that those Anglophone countries, known as the “Five Eyes”, have a long history of intelligence...

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Want To Boost Your Salary? Try Moving To Singapore

Are you a diligent US-based worker who’s tired of watching inflation wipe out what little wage gains you’ve managed to scrape together over the past few years? Well, if you’re looking for a pay boost, but don’t want to go through all the trouble of finding another better-paying job, Bloomberg has a suggestion: Try moving to Singapore. According to HSBC’s annual Expat Explorer, 45% of expats reported earning more money working abroad than they did working in the US. For the average expat, moving abroad boosted their pay by 21%, with the highest-paying jobs found in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong. Expats living in Switzerland, notorious for its high cost of living, reported an annual income boost totaling $61,000. Salaries averaged $203,000 per year, twice the global level.  Meanwhile, Singapore was ranked best place to live and work for a fourth straight year, ahead of New Zealand, Germany and Canada, while Switzerland (probably because of the high cost of living mentioned above) ranked eighth. “Singapore packs everything a budding expat could want into one of the world’s smallest territories,” said John Goddard, head of HSBC Expat. Sweden won first place in the ‘family’ category, while New Zealand, Spain and Taiwan led the ‘experience’ category. If moving abroad has always been a personal dream, then HSBC can name myriad benefits – both financial and familial – that often accompany...

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Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9/11 Bombshell?

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation, The macabre case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi raises the question: did Saudi rulers fear him revealing highly damaging information on their secret dealings? In particular, possible involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks on New York in 2001. Even more intriguing are US media reports now emerging that American intelligence had snooped on and were aware of Saudi officials making plans to capture Khashoggi prior to his apparent disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. If the Americans knew the journalist’s life was in danger, why didn’t they tip him off to avoid his doom? Jamal Khashoggi (59) had gone rogue, from the Saudi elite’s point of view. Formerly a senior editor in Saudi state media and an advisor to the royal court, he was imminently connected and versed in House of Saud affairs. As one commentator cryptically put it: “He knew where all the bodies were buried.” For the past year, Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile, taking up residence in the US, where he began writing opinion columns for the Washington Post. Khashoggi’s articles appeared to be taking on increasingly critical tone against the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year-old Crown Prince, or MbS as he’s known, is de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, in place of his aging father, King Salman....

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