Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon, announced that he will enable extraordinary fiscal and financial measures for the tourism industry with the main objective of accomplishing a fast reactivation for the country’s tourism. In a message to the nation, the President stated that a promotional campaign with the main goal of winning back the trust of international tourists, will soon take effect.Mexico’s government is working intensely for the return of normalcy in the country and in the hopes that that tourists will soon return to Mexico and take advantage of the country’s beauty and excellent lodging, leisure, entertainment and hospitality that only Mexico can offer.During a recent press conference, the Secretary of Treasury and Public Credit stated that they will offer fiscal incentives to tourism companies, such as a 50% reduction of costs towards the use of air space and cruise ports for the next three months as well as adiscount of 20% in management quotas paid to the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).These and other actions form part of the government’s financial stimulus plan which in total add up to 17 million 400 thousand pesos (approximately 1.3 Million dollars).The measures taken to prevent the virus from spreading have caused a huge economic impact and are critical to the tourism industry, which is the country’s third source of revenue. Nevertheless, Mexico complied with federal and local sanitary protocols and collectively faced this crisis.Upon the emergence of this new virus, which had the potential of turning into a pandemic, the Mexican government acted responsibly in respect to the health of its people and in regards to the health of the world’s population; Mexico’s officials had a vision and the strength to carry it out.The World Health Organization (WHO), along with US President Barack Obama, and Chief of State, Jose Luis Zapatero, have all recognized that it is unfair to accuse Mexico of overreacting and for taking immediate effective actions aligned with international sanitation protocols.In addition, last Tuesday, Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, stated that he would petition governments to annul their commercial and travel bans in place due to the virus outbreak, unless the restrictions were founded on scientific evidence. Dr. David Nabarro, Senior UN Coordinator for Influenza, said countries must explain to WHO their rationale for such measures, and said that their effectiveness is minimal at best.”We want to be very clear that WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of this novel form of influenza,” said Nabarro. Both dignitaries’ statements are examples of the efforts being made to create unity amidst a global crisis.Financial Institutions as solid as Grupo Santander, have expressed their optimism towards the adverse situation in Mexico, stating “the Mexican government has acted magnificently in regards to this health crisis,” confirmed President Emilio Botin, “their actions have been phenomenal, very different from past incidents where action was probably not as quick, but in this occasion, fast action was taken with real organized measures and the country will come out of this crisis a lot sooner than expected…the virus will not affect Mexico’s economy in the long-term,” he added.Speaking about the current international crisis, the banker emphasized that “Mexico’s economy has been coping pretty well during this global crisis and it is much better prepared in comparison to other countries” “We will continue to invest in Mexico,” assured Botin.www.visitmexico.com or www.mexico-update.com
State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, left, met Wednesday in Lansing with Dan Murphy, president of MAG Insulation of Auburn, chairman of the board of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan. Murphy and other contractors visited the state Capitol as part of ABC-Michigan’s State Legislative Day.The organization’s highest priority is the repeal of a state law that requires school districts and state and local governments to pay the “prevailing” union wage on all public works projects, which is estimated to cost taxpayers an additional $400 million a year for new school construction and other public works projects.Glenn supports legislation repealing the prevailing wage requirement on all public projects, and he is preparing legislation to repeal the requirement specifically for all public school construction projects, which would save local school districts an estimated $224 million per year. 11Feb Glenn, Murphy meet in Lansing, discuss prevailing wage law Categories: Glenn News,Glenn Photos
01Jun Rep. LaFave urges budget negotiators to include EMS funds Categories: LaFave News,News Lawmaker: Lack of funding will hurt rural communitiesState Rep. Beau LaFave today called on House and Senate budget negotiators who are finalizing the Department of Health and Human Services spending plan to include funding for the Upper Peninsula Emergency Medical Services (UPEMS).LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said the House draft of the state budget did not include the $182,000 to fund the EMS operations, and as a result many rural communities will not have adequate emergency medical care. The Senate version did include the funding.“As House and Senate conference committees work to reconcile differences between the two budget amounts, I urge them to restore funding so UPEMS can continue to save lives in the Upper Peninsula,” LaFave said.This funding pays for an annual continuing education seminar in the Upper Peninsula for EMS drivers. Last year 500 UP EMS personnel attended. It also will fund vehicle inspections to ensure the ambulances are safe on the roads.“I cannot imagine a more appropriate way to spend $180,000,” LaFave said. “We will not be forgotten about while I’m in the Legislature.”The House-Senate conference committee will continue work on a reconciliation budget in the coming week.#####
18Dec Rep. Lucido plan creates more consistency for certificates of trust Legislation streamlining process heads to governorState Rep. Peter Lucido’s plan to streamline Michigan’s procedures for certificates of trust is headed to the governor’s desk for consideration.Certificates of trust are used to give banks, brokerage firms or transfer agents necessary information regarding a trust to help facilitate the transfer of property.Lucido, of Shelby Township, said Michigan currently has two different sets of rules for certificates of trust. One applies to real estate transactions; the other applies to non-real estate assets. His plan harmonizes the two systems.“We were in need of an update for a long time,” Lucido said. “This simple solution will help reduce mistakes and confusion by creating more consistent rules. It also will greatly reduce the costs and delays currently associated with preparing real estate certificates.”House Bills 5362 and 5398 received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.### Categories: Lucido News
Share48TweetShareEmail48 SharesJune 25, 2015; USA TODAYThe Supreme Court decision today on housing discrimination is the result of the activism of a nonprofit organization. The actual case is Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al. v. Inclusive Communities Project, et al. The nonprofit in question is the Inclusive Communities Project, a Texas-based nonprofit “that works for the creation and maintenance of thriving racially and economically inclusive communities, expansion of fair and affordable housing opportunities for low income families, and redress for policies and practices that perpetuate the harmful effects of discrimination and segregation.”The court basically agreed with ICP—and many other civil rights organizations—that ostensibly benign, race-neutral housing policies that lead to discriminatory housing conditions such as racial segregation may be subject to discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Essentially, the Court ruled that “disparate impact” claims can be pursued as housing discrimination—though in the view of swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the Court’s decision, statistical disparity isn’t enough; plaintiffs must be able to connect the statistically demonstrable racial disparity to the actions or policies of entities that cause the disparity, notwithstanding the fact that the policies or actions might not have been pursued with discriminatory racial intent.The NPQ Newswire has previously mentioned the work of the Inclusionary Communities Project before in exactly this arena, specifically its challenge of HUD policies concerning the distribution of Section 8 rental vouchers in Dallas “having the effect of concentrating blacks and Latinos in minority neighborhoods” even though a pilot program there had demonstrated how Section 8 could be used in higher income suburban neighborhoods. The case that reached the Supreme Court, which involved the TDHCA distribution of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, was initiated by ICP back in 2008, when “ICP alleged the Department has caused continued segregated housing patterns by its disproportionate allocation of the tax credits, granting too many credits for housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.” ICP’s statistical evidence of the concentration of LIHTC units in predominantly minority neighborhoods was easy to demonstrate. (“92.29 percent of [low income tax credit] units in the city of Dallas were located in census tracts with less than 50% Caucasian residents,” the District Court found.) The issue before the Court was to determine whether the policies that led to the overconcentration of LIHTC units in minority neighborhoods, conducted without racial intent, nonetheless constituted a Fair Housing Act claim.The Court in a 5-4 decision found that disparate impact was meant to be actionable under the Fair Housing Act, citing case law that many of us who were trained as urbanists or city planners have long known: Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971), Huntington Branch NAACP v. Huntington, 844 F.2d 926 (1988), Metropolitan Housing Development Corp. v. Arlington, 558 F.2d 1283 (1977), and United States v. Black Jack, 508 F.2d 1179 (1974), just to mention a few of the cases better known to this author (Note: In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas chose to reject the doctrine of stare decisis and simply declare Griggs an error and recommended that the Court “drop the pretense that Griggs’ interpretation of Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] was legitimate.”)This decision, as much as any in recent years, comes closest to tackling institutional racism and, to some extent, structural racism. Writing in the SCOTUS Blog, Howard University assistant professor of law Valerie Schneider described the Court’s logic:“Without analyzing current patterns of segregation, how can municipalities implement policies that avoid disparate impacts? Without acknowledging the racial impacts of decisions, how can courts implement remedies that have a realistic chance of addressing insidious disparate impacts where they exist? The Court recognized today that in order to effectuate the broad purpose of the Fair Housing Act, we cannot simply close our eyes to the racial impacts of seemingly race-neutral decisions.”The Court’s decision didn’t create a new cause of action under the Fair Housing Act, but reaffirmed 40 years of case law with Griggs and other decisions that disparate impact is a valid concern to be remedied under the Fair Housing Act, something that private developers and some governmental agencies wanted to eliminate.Both the specifics of the TDHCA decision and broader considerations still leave questions to be addressed by the nonprofit sector:Since disparate impact cases are difficult to bring and prove, what will be the follow-up by the nonprofit sector now that the Court has made it clear again that charging disparate impact is legitimate, important, and worthy of action?Since nonprofits in minority neighborhoods are often the recipients and users of subsidies such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Section 8 vouchers, how should they as implementers relate to the disparate impact concerns validated by this decision?And, as with many arenas of institutional or structural racism, once the issue of disparate racial impact is raised and even proven, what might be the appropriate and pragmatic remedies for nonprofits and governmental agencies to put into practice?Despite the complexity of the issue, the role of the Inclusive Communities Project and the leadership of its executive director, the widely admired Elizabeth Julian, demonstrate the importance of nonprofit advocacy and persistence.—Rick CohenShare48TweetShareEmail48 Shares
Share4Tweet21Share7Email32 Shares“RANT, this way” by NessterAugust 5, 2017; Recode and GizmodoNPQ has often discussed the efforts of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and others inside the world of technology to increase diversity and inclusion among their workforce. Often, this involves partnerships with nonprofit groups like Girls Who Code and All Star Code, staging “hackathons” and establishing mentorships to nurture an interest in programming at the point when young people are choosing careers to pursue. However, all that money and energy put toward encouraging diverse candidates to apply to and join big tech enterprises is wasted if the internal culture of those companies is toxic; recruitment is one thing, retention another.On Friday, word spread to social media of a memo circulating internally at Google that came out against the company’s measures to improve diversity, especially when it comes to matters of gender. The 10-page memo, with the header “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” explained in detail the author’s retrograde positions on closing the pay gap (unnecessary), gender balance among the tech staff (a function of evolutionary psychology), and empathy (to be “de-emphasized”). The closing recommendations included an end to programs encouraging diversity—save for “ideological diversity,” by which was meant conservative or non-progressive political views.Louise Matsakis, writing for the “Motherboard” section of VICE, discussed some of the aftermath of the memo:The 10-page Google Doc document was met with derision from a large majority of employees who saw and denounced its contents, according to the employee. But Jaana Dogan, a software engineer at Google, tweeted that some people at the company at least partially agreed with the author…. While the document itself contains the thoughts of just one Google employee, the context in which they were shared—Google is currently being investigated by the Department of Labor for its gender pay gap and Silicon Valley has been repeatedly exposed as a place that discriminates against women and people of color—as well as the private and public response from its workforce are important.A recently departed Google higher-up, Yonatan Zunger, offered some of his thoughts here, in a blog post on Medium.One of the consequences of the memo leak was a statement from Danielle Brown, Google’s new VP of diversity, integrity, and governance, who was hired at the end of June, having just held a similar position at Intel. She writes, in part,Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As [Google VP] Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, “Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ’Nuff said.”Google has taken a strong stand on this issue, by releasing its demographic data and creating a companywide OKR on diversity and inclusion. Strong stands elicit strong reactions. Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job.Google attracted some attention last year for its Project Aristotle, an initiative that started as a study of functional teams and ended up as an effort to prioritize psychological safety, defined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson in 1999 as “a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” Such safety is hard to come by in the world of tech, and we hope that Danielle Brown can use her new position to help bring more of it to Google.—Jason SchneidermanShare4Tweet21Share7Email32 Shares
Lagardère Active, the arm of the French conglomerate that encompasses TV and press activities, posted revenues of €207 million for the first quarter, down 5.3% year-on-year on a comparable basis and down 50% in absolute terms, thanks to the sale of Press Magazine Internationale and its Russian radio activities.Lagardère posted positive results for its TV channels, with revenues up 2.9%, thanks notably to strong advertising sales for its Gulli channel, while TV production saw a decline of 2.5% thanks to a number of productions being pushed back to later this year.
United Group-owned Slovenian cable leader Telemach has acquired smaller operator Kabel TV, which operates networks in north-eastern Slovenia and has a market share of about 4.6% in the country.Kabel TV posted revelues of €3.7 million last year, compared with €65.6 million for Telemach.Telemach will make the full range of its services available to Kabel TV subscribers, including HD channels, time-shifting, video-on-demand, mobile TV service D3 Go, high-speed internet, mobile telephony and free calls to SBB customers in Serbia and Telemach customers in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Poland’s SPI International has appointed a former HBO Europe country manager to take on the same role for its upcoming Hungarian portfolio.As of June 1, Tamás Fülöp has been overseeing SPI’s local FoxBox movie channels, and soon-to-launch thematic hannels bouquet.His overall remit comprises FightBox HD, FashionBox HD, DocuBox HD, 360 TuneBox, Fast&FunBox and adult channel Erox; and responsibilities include distribution, marketing and business operations of the premium networks.Fülöp joins from a Hungarian business, Hattererorszag/Done, where he was director of business development. Before that, he was HBO’s country manager for Hungary, where he oversaw the launch of an SVOD service that ranks among the territory’s first.He also held senior roles at TV2 in Hungary and Viacom-owned VIVA+.“We are very excited to bring on board such an experienced media professional as Mr. Fulop,” said SPI-owned FilmBox International’s executive director Berk Uziyel.“I strongly believe that his thourough knowledge of the TV business will contribute to the growth of our FilmBox brand not only in Hungary but also in the entire CEE region.”
Samantha GlynneFremantleMedia has hired Samantha Glynne as vice president, branded entertainment, to spearhead a push into branded content.She is tasked with driving the producer and distributor’s international branded entertainment activity, working with brands and agencies.Based in London, Glynne joined FremantleMedia’s digital and branded entertainment division last week, which is headed by Keith Hindle.He said: “Samantha has both in-depth knowledge of the brand and agency world, and the TV world, as well as experience working across borders and cultures. We look forward to increasing the involvement of advertisers in our content.”Glynne was previously managing partner and director of channels at Publicis Entertainment in London and Paris. Prior to that she was head of commercial content at North One Television/All3Media, where she launched the Audi Channel on Sky.Glynne said: “FremantleMedia is one of the few production companies with such a solid foundation of experience and relationships within the brand world. Coupled with its scale, ambition and unrivalled catalogue of TV brands, it is uniquely placed to produce and distribute some really exciting and effective branded content in multiple genres across all platforms.”
Craig ChuterOver-the-top video platform InstaDIGITAL has appointed former Saffron Digital executive Craig Chuter as sales director as it looks to expand internationally.Chuter will be tasked with driving UK-based InstaDIGITAL’s international growth and raising its profile around the world.He was previously sales director, EMEA, at Saffron Digital where he helped to bring about launches of new OTT services for ITV, BT and Carrefour.“Up until now we have very much been working in the background, building and running bespoke global VOD and OTT services for our clients, from DRM solutions to full content management systems and content players,” said InstaDIGITAL CEO Ed Pippin.“At a time where consumer appetite for on demand video is snowballing, Craig will help us to expand our reach, to take our products to new Clients and help them take advantage of the services that we offer.”InstaDIGITAL provides VoD and OTT hosted solutions using its proprietary platform. It has a suite of four tools – InstaLIBRARY, InstaDRM, InstaSTOREFRONT and InstaPLAYER which can be individually integrated into existing systems or combined to create a fully end-to-end solution.
Canal+ France lost 183,000 subscriptions in the first quarter, taking its domestic total to 8.276 million. The ongoing problems experienced by the group in France were to some extent offset by a strong international performance. Overall the group added 170,000 subscriptions in the quarter, thanks in particular to its strong showing in Africa, taking its total to 15.4 million.The group’s revenues totaled €1.328 billion for the quarter, down 3.1% despite a slight increase in ARPU in France. The pay TV unit posted an operating loss of €59 million for the quarter.Free-to-air channels in the domestic market performed better, with advertising revenues growing by 11.5% year-on-year thanks to strong audiences for D8 and D17.International pay TV revenues increased, thanks to the group adding 500,000 subscribers in Africa in the year to march. Canal+ and local player iRoko recently launched iRoko+, a new video-on-demand service aimed at a mobile audience with 1,500 hours of French-language content.Vivendi also revealed that Vivendi Content’s new mobile-targeted offering Studio+, will be available in Latin America “in a few months” thanks to a deal with Telefónica. Vivendi holds a 0.95% stake in the Spanish operator, which it views as a strategic investment that will enable it to expand its content distribution network, particularly in Latin America. Studio+ will have 25 mobile-specific original series available when it launches.Production arm StudioCanal’s revenues dropped year-on-year, pulled down by comparisons with a strong quarter last year that includes the theatrical release of Shaun the Sheep in Germany and the video release of Paddington in the UK.Increased losses at Canal+ have pulled down parent group Vivendi’s quarterly results. Vivendi revenue was more or less flat at €2.491 billion, down 1.4% in constant currency terms. EBIT was down 3.6% in constant currency terms to €213 million, while net income fell by down 27.3% to €99 million thanks to an unfavourable tax impact following settlement of litigation with Liberty Media.Separately, Vivendi named chairman Vincent Bolloré’s son Yannick to its supervisory board. Yannick Bolloré, CEO of Havas Group, replaced Philippe Donnet, whose appointment as CEO of Generali was approved by the insurance group’s shareholders at the end of April.
Liberty Global-owned UPC Switzerland has acquired the fibre network in Genthod near Geneva.The move means that UPC can now offer uniform services throughout the entire municipality. Some 150 active customers who previously purchased their basic connection directly from the municipality of Genthod will start receiving UPC’s offering from next year.Urs ReinhardThe network in Genthod was already operated by UPC. Customers have also already been informed about the change of ownership.Urs Reinhard, vice president, strategy and business development at UPC, said: “The acquisition means a significant investment in the future and in the sustainability of our network. We have already been pursuing this approach successfully in Switzerland for many years, and we will also continue along this path in the future, so that we can position UPC as a reliable partner.”
ShareTweet Among the improvement objectives identified are to increase employment opportunities and economic growth through a range of measures, to assist and develop healthy lifestyles through increased participation in high quality leisure and sports activities and to protect and enhance the environment through creating and supporting a culture of environmental stewardship.The public can give their feedback and propose new improvement objectives, or make comments on the draft improvement objectives 2019/20 by completing our online survey which is available at https://haveyoursay.derrystrabane.com/ where a draft of the plan is also available to view.You can also be sent a copy of the survey by emailing Council at Improvement@derrystrabane.com or by making contact by phone at by phone on 028 71 253 253, Ext 4266 / 6704.The closing date for this consultation is 29th May 2019. A summary showing the draft Improvement Objectives and the full draft Corporate and Improvement Plan 2019/20 is available on the Council’s website: www.derrystrabane.com/corporateimprovementplans Last chance for public’s views on Council’s 2019/20 improvement objectives was last modified: May 16th, 2019 by John2John2 Tags: chief executiveDerry and Strabane CouncilJOHN KELPIELast chance for public’s views on Council’s 2019/20 improvement objectives Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive, John Kelpie, encouraged the pubic to give their feedback on the draft objectives to allow Council to tailor its plans to meet their needs.“As an organisation we are committed to delivering on the objectives and aspirations set out in the Improvement Plan as part of our commitment to deliver improved social, economic and environmental outcomes for everyone,” he said.“In this context, we are keen to hear the views, opinions and priorities of the public and would encourage everyone to view the plan and provide their feedback.“While the Improvement Plan focuses specifically on Council’s key Improvement Objectives will continue to work to continuously improve.” DERRY City and Strabane District Council are urging the public to give their feedback on its draft Improvement Objectives for 2019/20 before the online consultation closes at the end of the month.Under Part 12 of the Local Government Act (NI) 2014, Council has an obligation to produce a Performance Improvement Plan that strives towards continuous improvement in the quality of life of all our citizens.The first draft is available to view online and Council is keen to get the views of the public on the key improvement objectives and to discover if there are any alternative objectives they would like to see considered this year or in future.
Home NewsWatch CrimeWatch News FIRST ON WOAY: Arrest Made; Gag Order Issued After Body Found in Mercer County Twitter Pinterest Previous PostFayette Co. Man Sentenced for Misusing Bank Account of Mentally Incapacitated Woman Mail Facebook Linkedin Google+ LERONA– According to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, they are unable to release much information in the case of a dead body after a judge issued a gag order.The order was issued around 1:30PM on Monday and will last for five days.Deputies tell WOAY one person has been arrested after the body was found at a home in Lerona on Sunday.The body has been sent for an autopsy and deputies are in the process of notifying the family. Tyler Barker Tyler Barker is currently the Interim News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. I was promoted to this job in Mid-November. I still will fill in on weather from time to time. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org CrimeWatch NewsFeaturedLocal NewsNewsWatch FIRST ON WOAY: Arrest Made; Gag Order Issued After Body Found in Mercer County By Tyler BarkerApr 02, 2018, 15:37 pm 831 0 Next PostUPDATE: Bluefield Police Arrest A Man for Trying To Break Into A Home Tumblr Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website
OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – Boil Water Advisory West Virginia American Water has issued a precautionary boil water advisory for customers in the area of Oak Hill, including the following streets: part of Prudence Road, Edgewood Hills Road, Ann Street, Nina Street, North Errington Road, South Errington Road, Prudence Loop, Pluto Hill, Vista Lane, Harvey Hill, Tessa Lane and Phillips Road.The advisory follows several water main breaks, which crews are working to repair as quickly as possible. Estimated restoration time is 8:30 p.m.Customers are asked to bring water used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing, and food preparation to a full boil for a minimum of one minute, then cool before use.Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that may be present in the water.Once the system recovers, we will be collecting water quality samples in the area of the outage. You will receive another message from West Virginia American Water letting you know when this advisory is lifted.For more information, contact our customer service center at 1-800-685-8660.Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to ensure the integrity of the system and the quality of the water. Local NewsNewsWatchTop Stories West Virginia American Water Company Issues Boil Water Advisory By Tyler BarkerAug 05, 2018, 21:40 pm 1025 0 Linkedin Tyler Barker Tyler Barker is currently the Interim News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. I was promoted to this job in Mid-November. I still will fill in on weather from time to time. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email me at email@example.com Tumblr Google+ Home NewsWatch Local News West Virginia American Water Company Issues Boil Water Advisory Twitter Pinterest Mail Previous Post2018 Football Preview: Meadow Bridge Wildcats Facebook Next PostARMED AND DANGEROUS: State Police Looking For Escaped Inmate From McDowell County
Linkedin Home NewsWatch Man hid 26 grams of possible crystal meth in undies Mail HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — A sheriff’s office in West Virginia say deputies stopped a man suspected of shoplifting and found about 26 grams of what’s believed to be crystal meth in his underwear.The Herald-Dispatch reported Tuesday that the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office says 28-year-old Brandon Lee Webb and a woman were stopped Saturday by Walmart employees. The sheriff’s report says the woman was charged with shoplifting $30 of clothing, and Webb was found carrying 26 grams of a clear crystal substance in his underwear. The sheriff’s report says deputies also found him carrying about $550 in cash. Webb was charged with shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.It’s unclear if they have lawyers. Next PostWoman in Ohio accused of pouring hot grease on victim during argument NewsWatch Man hid 26 grams of possible crystal meth in undies By Terell BaileyDec 05, 2018, 21:54 pm 328 0 Twitter Google+ Facebook Tumblr Previous PostSecret Santa pays off nearly $30K in Walmart layaways Pinterest Terell Bailey Bio Coming Soon
Mail BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Tuesday, four Beckley City Council members vote in favor of passing the LGBTQ ordinance to it’s final step.The ordinance would ban housing and employment discrimination against people who identify as LGBTQ. The ordinance needed at least four ‘yes’ votes to pass the first reading.There will be a second reading held on January 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, where the public will be able to make comments.If passed on January 22 the ordinance will go into effect. Facebook FeaturedLocal NewsNewsWatch Beckley LGBTQ Ordinance Set To Reach Final Step By Tyler BarkerJan 08, 2019, 18:57 pm 478 0 Tumblr Pinterest Google+ Previous PostWATCH: Tensions run high as Beckley City Council reads LGBTQ protection ordinance Twitter Linkedin Tyler Barker Tyler Barker is currently the Interim News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. I was promoted to this job in Mid-November. I still will fill in on weather from time to time. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Next PostLocal Business Owner Announces Educational Fund For Fallen Marine’s Son Home NewsWatch Featured Beckley LGBTQ Ordinance Set To Reach Final Step
Before getting to my main theme today – a contrarian view of Argentina, which I started writing rather reflexively after a number of dear readers sent me links to an interview with an Argentine expat who offered up a very dark appraisal of the country – I have a few bits and pieces I want to share with you.Ron Who?While the phenomenon of Ron Paul’s invisibility has been commented on by a number of individuals, including myself, I feel compelled to comment once again based on the experience I had earlier this week.It happened on Wednesday morning while uncharacteristically turning on the television news in the hopes of distracting myself from the drudgery of pedaling away on my stationary bike. Normally, I just listen to loud music, but for whatever reason, this week I decided to watch the news and so turned on CBS.The lead story was all about Newt Gingrich’s apparent surge in South Carolina, but also about Rick Perry and Rick Santorum and their continued battle for the nomination. At one point, the newscaster went so far as to show the four candidates on the screen as he discussed their positioning for votes in South Carolina. Yet, even though he is running third, the news program didn’t even mention Ron Paul!In the perfect hindsight afforded by the passage of the last couple of days, we now know that the grips of Santorum and Perry were so weak – single-digit territory – that they both subsequently dropped out of the running.So now that leaves just Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.Oh, and that other guy, you know Ron whatever-his-name-is.Anyone who thinks that the game in this degraded democracy isn’t rigged, isn’t paying attention.About Those Jobs…The politicians make a great show of concerning themselves with the levels of unemployment. And so they bluster about the need for this new program or that new program – in fact, about any new idea except for the one that will actually be effective. Namely, stop the meddling.This week, there have been some interesting developments that merely confirm the government’s intentions are to continue doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.For starters, we had the news that President Obama announced his administration was going to block the Keystone XL pipeline, blaming the decision on the Republicans and foisting responsibility for the call onto the back of Hillary Clinton’s State Department.Of course, the story has received quite a bit of coverage, so I won’t repeat it here. However, I will share with you a Reuter’s column by John Kemp titled “Keystone symbolizes what is wrong with US policy.” As he points out, despite an existing network of pipelines from Canada, the initial permit application for Keystone XL was filed in 2008 – and yet here we are, going on four years later, and the president is complaining about the “rushed and arbitrary deadline” imposed by the Republicans as part of the latest round of budget theatrics.The actual fact of the matter is that the United States is becoming increasingly unfriendly toward businesses that actually produce anything tangible, despite our politicians constantly carping about the evil capitalists sending American jobs overseas.On that front, there’s a great series that Bloomberg has just kicked off, titled “America’s Dirty War Against Manufacturing,” on why US manufacturing is expatriating itself. Here’s a relevant quote:Those industries left the U.S. in search not of cheaper workers, but of more supportive governments. If the U.S. lost manufacturing due to high wages (or unions, labor laws, regulation – the other commonly cited villains), how do you explain the manufacturing success of Germany and Japan? Germany, the world’s pre-eminent high-end manufacturing economy, has higher wages, stronger unions and stricter labor laws than the U.S. Japan, too, is a high-wage competitor, yet Toyota Motor Corp. still makes 60 percent of its vehicles there. General Motors Co. makes only about 30 percent in North America.So if wages aren’t to blame, what is?Policy. But is U.S. government policy really hostile to manufacturing?Sadly, yes.While the government may make life hard for the manufacturing sector, it positively detests the extractive industries – the Keystone XL pipeline being just one of many recent examples. This week, for instance, the outlook for new mineral exploration and mining in the geological treasure chest state of Nevada was cast into doubt by new regulations related to protecting the habitat of the sage grouse.So you’ll know what one looks like, in case your travels have not taken you to the remote and generally inhospitable back country where Nevada mining goes on, and thus to where sage grouse apparently roost, I was able to find a photograph to share with you.Now, personally I have nothing against the sage grouse, or any other bird, for that matter. I am simply trying to make the point that if you are trying to attract capital investment, create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign producers of the tangibles our economy relies on, surprising businesses with ever more regulations is not helpful.But the story my friend Porter Stansberry sent along this morning takes the cake – it is a proposal to establish a “Reasonable Profits Board” whose sole purpose will be to control how much companies in the oil and gas business will be able to earn going forward.A relevant quote from the article…The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.The bill would also seem to exclude industry representatives from the board, as it says members “shall have no financial interests in any of the businesses for which reasonable profits are determined by the Board.”Dan Ferris, the editor of Stansberry’s Extreme Value newsletter, was on the same e-mail string and on reading the article wrote back the following note, which I thought worth sharing. So… just to recap, then…Selling gasoline is a crap, low (if any) margin business. If you don’t attach a convenience store to it, you make nothing. Refining gasoline has a margin between something like 1% and negative infinity, except every now and then when it almost looks like it’s not another crappy business.And Congress says they make too much money. If they could guarantee a reasonable profit, they’d be subsidizing it, not taxing it.People who lend out your deposits (ten times over) and forbid Walmart from entering their business because Walmart’s model would only benefit customers, not cronies, aren’t making too much money.People who get money from the government to keep the price of sugar double the global price aren’t making too much money.People who get money from government to grow corn so they can do the most expensive possible thing with it – turn it into ethanol – aren’t making too much money.Al Gore’s carbon credit trading operation isn’t making too much money.College professors who don’t teach, who drink fine wine, live in Tudor McMansions and drive Volvos while writing papers on the oppression of women in the workforce aren’t making too much money.But people who sell gasoline… one of the skinniest margins on Earth… a product without which life as we know it comes to a grinding halt… they’re making too much money.This is what you get when you vote, people trying to make good sound bites for ignoramuses who vote, as if the political process had all the depth and meaning of a Disney movie trailer. “Coming soon: Hope, Change and Reasonable Profits!”And, finally, to put this all in perspective, the following is a quote that Reason magazine ran from Eric Schmidt of Google.Q: You recently testified before Congress in an antitrust hearing about Google. What are your reflections on the experience? Were the leaders there asking the right questions?Eric Schmidt: So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. Okay? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer. I mean, it’s fine. It’s their job. But it’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to… lower than free? You see what I’m saying?I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again here – if you want to fix the economy, stop government meddling!The Contrarian View of Argentinaby David GallandAfter receiving a number of queries on the topic, I felt compelled to further clarify the rationale for helping to establish a community of largely libertarian-thinking individuals in the remote northwest of Argentina.I am, of course, referring to La Estancia de Cafayate – or “Casey’s Gulch” as it is often referred to in deference to the role Doug Casey played in creating the vision for the place. As we have mentioned in the past, La Estancia has made incredible progress over the past five years and now boasts a community of over 200 property owners from over 30 countries.Yet, understandably, dear readers write in wanting to know why, of all the places on planet Earth, Doug Casey and his partners selected the perennially dysfunctional country of Argentina to establish a bolt hole, gilded though it may be. After all, these questioners correctly point out, it seems that hardly a week goes by without yet another quirky and invariably counterproductive decision being announced by Argentina’s government.Though the Argentine government’s predilection for self-damage is worthy of criticism, in fairness it must be mentioned that some of the most visible critics today may have ulterior motives. One in particular is currently trying to get a development project in Chile off the ground, and from everything I can see, the promoters seem to believe that the best way to do so is by grinding away at the notion that Argentina is a nice place to live. Understandable, I guess, ‘tis the nature of commerce.(As an aside, having lived in Chile for a year – our son was born there – I can attest from first-hand experience that the place has many good qualities. I just much prefer Argentina.)Doug Casey enjoying the sights in Buenos AiresMore interesting, however, are the views of a recent Argentine expat, which have made it into fairly wide distribution, in one instance in a publication put out by the aforementioned Chilean land promoter, and in another by a writer with distinctly dystopian views.I say “interesting” because a cursory glance into the background of this particular Argentine expat, a 30-year-old with apparently very little foreign travel experience, reveals that until recently he lived in one of the tougher barrios of Buenos Aires and made some meager income by writing a run-of-the-mill survivalist book and publishing a back-end blog designed to promote that book. While I have no question that the man’s experiences are authentic, accepting his dim view – and it’s a very dim view – of living in Argentina is exactly the same as reading a blog written by somebody living in a bombed-out slum in Chicago and accepting at face value that his experience is representative of what it is like to live in the United States.Oh, and for the record, the murder rate in Chicago, at 16 per 100,000, is roughly three times higher than that of Buenos Aires. Yet if you read the blogger’s posts, you would think the place was a war zone. It is also very much worth pointing out that Buenos Aires province is by far the most populous in Argentina, containing about 39% of the country’s 40 million population, a sizable chunk of which live in the city proper. As with all big cities, there are neighborhoods that are best avoided. But outside of Buenos Aires, the country is sparsely populated and generally has a very congenial small-town feeling about it with much lower crime rates. (Cafayate has a population of just 12,000.)I’ve mentioned all of this in my introduction only to stress how important it is in the Internet age to take care in evaluating the quality of the information you are receiving, and the bias of where that information comes from. (And yes, I, too, have a bias – more about that in a bit.)Viewing the matter from a slightly different perspective, you have to ask yourself why somebody as well traveled as Doug Casey, who literally wrote the book on such things (The International Man, Alexandria House, 1979), would have made Argentina a primary residence, or why other internationally savvy individuals you may have heard of – Bill Bonner, the head of Agora Financial, and Jeff Berwick of The Dollar Vigilante come to mind – own land in Argentina.While I can’t speak for Bill or Jeff, I can quote Doug from a fairly extensive interview he did recently with Alternative Latin Investor. Here’s a quote from that interview.In spite of his aversion for government intervention, Mr. Casey says that his favorite country in the region is, of all places, Argentina, a choice he says is founded on much experience and careful consideration.“I spend a lot of time living outside of the US,” he says, “so I have to ask myself where I would prefer to live. As a pure investor, I’d much rather be in Colombia or Chile. Argentina has had an unbroken track record of economic disaster since the 1940s. But the reason I like Argentina is for the culture, the sophistication, the climate, the wide-open spaces – for those reasons, not as an investor.”On a personal level, I was very fortunate to have been able to spend the better part of three years investigating literally every country I ever imagined might qualify as my own personal paradise on earth. Ultimately, I settled in Argentina, where I now also have substantial property investments, including a new house currently under construction at La Estancia de Cafayate.Simply, after investigating and living in a number of countries, Argentina was the hands-down winner because of the quality of life, which is very high. Especially if you have a certain net worth, the bulk of which resides in a different country: no one with any other option would leave serious money in an Argentine bank… but that’s a detail, not a problem.This gets to a common misperception about the nature of internationally diversifying your life. Namely, no one who has any understanding of the topic would dream of picking up everything from one country and dropping it into another. That would be simply trading one set of problems and risks for another. Successfully diversifying – which has never been more important – involves doing as much as possible of the following:Securing your assets in a number of countries.Having your tax residency in one country (ideally, one with favorable tax policies)Your actual residence(s) in places where you can enjoy a very high standard of living, but ideally not where you are a citizen – as that makes you a serf as opposed to a welcomed visitor. Your business incorporated elsewhere (which is much easier these days, thanks to the Internet).In other words, Argentina, for those of us who love the place, is just one part of the equation, the part about living well. As I mentioned a moment ago, after wandering the globe for three full years, I couldn’t find a more agreeable country – and Doug would tell you the same thing.That is especially true of Salta province, where the up-and-coming wine-growing town of Cafayate is located. It boasts altogether excellent weather – with sunshine on the order of 330 days a year. Importantly to those of us who care about such things, it’s an agricultural community, meaning high-quality, naturally grown food, almost all of which is grown within a 50-mile radius of the town, as well as excellent wines and free-range beef. Then there’s the still relatively inexpensive domestic help, friendly people and an active lifestyle that always makes time for leisurely meals with friends and family.Your correspondent goofing around at poloIn the case of La Estancia de Cafayate, the lifestyle is supplemented by the many amenities (South America’s largest golf course, a world-class athletic club, polo fields, horseback riding, etc.) and a community of intelligent and largely like-minded individuals. In short, the place has an abundance of the best things in life.The things that are not present also define the place. For example, unlike developed countries, when you are in Argentina – and especially in the countryside – you will be amazed how quickly all of the noise that comes from living in the frenzy of an “always-on” modern society fades away. No more constant drums of war or cable news programs blaring excitedly about the latest fabricated emergency or threat.(And, no, Argentina isn’t about to go to war with the UK over the Falklands again – the relatively recent debacle from military rule has left the Argentines viscerally against all things military. Today, as a percentage of GDP, the Argentines spend the same amount on their military as does Switzerland – just 0.9%. By comparison, the Chileans spend 3.2% and the US 4.8%.)Absent all that noise, it’s always a very pleasant surprise to discover how tranquil everyday life can be. The only thing I can compare it to is a sort of peace of mind that settles over you in the second week of a long vacation.Now, let me make it clear. Even though Doug and I both have a small commercial interest in La Estancia de Cafayate, it isn’t my intent here to give you a sales pitch but rather to attempt to communicate as honestly as possible the pros and cons of Argentina. In that others are so happy to constantly point out the cons (which I will also do in a moment), it’s especially important to understand the pros.In that regard, I’d like to share some data with you about the Argentine economy that might cause you to view Argentina through a somewhat different light.What Most People Don’t Know About ArgentinaI bet you didn’t know that, in dollar terms, the Argentine economy has been growing at a compounded year-over-year growth rate of around 15% for the last decade.That level of growth is on par even with China. Of course, like China years ago, Argentina was starting from a low point following its last crisis – but it has certainly not stagnated since.Thanks to the Argentine government’s controversial default in 2002, the country has almost no public-sector debt, very much not the case with most of the world’s large economies. Specifically, its current debt-to-GDP ratio, net of debt held within the public sector, is less than 14%.The private sector is also virtually debt-free. That is because credit in Argentina is viewed entirely differently than it is in the West, in part because of the country’s regular bouts of inflation, but also because it’s just not part of the culture. For example, almost no one has a mortgage on a house – they just aren’t available. That means prices for property aren’t inflated by a bubble of debt.On a macro-level, Argentina is currently running a minimal overall public-sector deficit and, thanks to the commodity boom, steadily runs a current account surplus. As I don’t need to tell you, the US government’s deficits are now running close to $1.5 trillion a year, and the country has been running a current account deficit on the order of 5% of GDP for decades – trading the nation’s wealth for other countries’ products. In Argentina, it is the other way around.Of course, as just touched upon, one big advantage that Argentina has is that it is a commodity producer in a world with a growing appetite for commodities. Furthermore, a country that deals in tangible assets – corn, beef, soy, oil, minerals – has a big structural advantage in a world undergoing an explosion of money printing.Still in the positive camp, anyone who has spent time in the country will tell you that, on the whole, the country’s population is well educated, and those from the higher social strata are typically well read and sophisticated (with an Argentine, you are far more likely to find yourself in a conversation about philosophy than the weather or sports scores). I can’t tell you the situation throughout the country, but the public school kids in Cafayate are given inexpensive personal computers as part of the curriculum.Also important, the country has a young population, so while there is always some nonsense going on with the unions, it pales in comparison to the endemic problems related to old-age pensioners in Europe – problems that will only get worse.Furthermore, while the US and so many Western countries are struggling with high levels of unemployment, Argentina has almost no unemployment.And, finally, while the uninformed might be tempted to think of Argentina as a Latin American backwater, that’s hard to square up with its membership in the G20.Of course, Argentina’s economic successes are very much in spite of the government, which seems determined to take every opportunity to throw sand in the wheels of progress. Clearly, however, Argentine businesses have learned how to deal with those interventions. More than that, they have managed to prosper at a time when so many industries around the world are struggling: earnings for publicly traded Argentine companies rose by 13% in 2011, second only to Peru in South America, which was up 14% (earnings in Chile were up only 6% and Brazil 7%).The resilience of the Argentine economy is important on a number of levels, starting with the reality that economies with a lot of desperately poor people tend to have more property crimes. A recent ranking of countries by per-capita purchasing power (an indicator of how much of life’s essentials you are able to afford) placed Argentina at 58 out of 192 countries, ahead of Chile, Turkey, Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Thailand, Panama and, of course, China and India. Argentina’s per-capita income is the highest in South America.It is worth noting, too, that while many dear readers may not be in favor of socialized medicine, in Argentina health care is free and the quality of the doctors, in my direct experience, very good, even in the public facilities. In Cafayate, there is a new and reasonably well-equipped hospital, and the doctors are well trained: one of our partners recently had an emergency appendectomy done there, laparoscopically, and was impressed with the high quality of care.Not to go on, but here’s another little-known fact – that Argentina has one of the highest levels of per-capita water usage (500 l/day) in the world. While I haven’t verified the actual reason, I was told by someone I trust it is because a high-level personal hygiene is the cultural norm, so much so that it is standard to provide showers to construction workers as part of normal work practices. That people pay attention to their appearances, as well as their hygiene, is also evidenced by the fact that Buenos Aires has a reputation as one of cosmetic surgery capitals of the world. (Need a little tuck? Prices are about half of what they are in the US.)The Challenges of ArgentinaNow, nothing I have said here should give you the impression that Argentina is perfect. As I learned from the aforementioned three-year quest for paradise, there is no such thing. Every country has its flaws.In the case of Argentina, dealing with the bureaucracy can be incredibly frustrating. Not so much in terms of daily interactions; for example, the odds of your being pulled over for a traffic offense are barely above zero, and transiting through airports for local flights involves minimal interference (and yes, you get to keep your shoes on).The dealings with the government become cumbersome when trying to do business or get an official stamp on some document related to what should otherwise be a mundane activity. For example, buying a car. There are, of course, ways that you can circumvent much of this if you have a few dollars – and I’m not talking about paying a bribe, because I’ve never been asked for a bribe in any of my dealings in Argentina – but rather by hiring a good local attorney (or an inexpensive gofer) and letting them deal with the nuisance issues.This unfortunate truth aside, however, there is no question that you can get business done in Argentina. Using La Estancia de Cafayate as a relevant example, five years ago the place was literally a horse pasture. Today, it is almost fully built out with all the infrastructure in place and about 30 homes either finished or in the construction process. By infrastructure, I refer to a championship golf course that has been playable for going on two years, a beautiful clubhouse, all the roads, power, water systems and a world-class athletic club, which is now in the final stage of being equipped before opening. A deluxe boutique hotel operated by the award-winning Grace Hotel Group is under construction and moving towards completion next year.It is no exaggeration to say in any developed country in the world you’d be lucky to even have your permitting at this point. Most likely, you’d still be deep into investigating the natural habitats of the local insects to make sure you weren’t going to inconvenience any of them.The shame of Argentina is that it literally has everything necessary for it to be one of the most successful countries in the world. The only thing standing in its way is a government that, thanks to circumstances from a half-century ago, is supported by many in the population who remain steadfast in their misdirected affection for the long-dead wife of a hardcore populist.Should common sense prevail – perhaps forced upon it by the next government-engendered crisis – and the free market be allowed to regain even a little lost ground, the country’s economy would be a force to reckon with. I’m not optimistic in that regard – either it will eventually happen, or it won’t. But that has nothing to do with the quality of life in the wine country of rural northwest Argentina, a place of stunning beauty, a warm and intelligent population, very high-quality food and all the other essentials for living well.So, that’s what I know about Argentina. While there are certainly people who know more, and I would urge you to seek them out, I can say for a fact from some of the articles I have read that there are a lot of people who know a lot less.Before signing off, I wanted to share some notes Doug Casey sent back to me after reviewing the above article.Doug’s comments1. It’s one thing being a citizen of a country, whereby the government considers you its property, and totally something else to be a visitor, who has to be courted to invest and spend. An Argentine (especially if he has no money) is much better off moving to another country. Whereas an American (especially if he has a few bucks) is much better off in Argentina.2. Argentines have learned to dislike and distrust the army and the police; that’s a very good thing – unlike Chile where they love them. Most Argentineans reflect their Italian background and don’t believe in taxes. Nobody really takes the government seriously.3. The government is very inefficient. The last thing you want is an efficient government. Especially now that the whole world is following the example of the US and is “locking down.”4. Only poorly traveled, unsophisticated people equate the travails of the government with the standard of living for a resident non-citizen.5. You don’t want to move to any new country and become a citizen. It’s a moving target – acting like a plant and making permanent roots in any one place is a stupid error. Don’t act like a plant – you’ll be eaten. But you must diversify your assets internationally and have a pleasant foreign crib in case the going gets tough at home.6. Argentina has the advantage of not being involved in NATO or any foreign wars. It’s off the beaten path and out of harm’s way.7. The fact the government has stumbled from one financial disaster to another (which has never bothered foreigners living here) just means the country is used to dealing with tough times. It’s likely to do much better than most during the Greater Depression.8. The place is more like Europe than Europe itself at this point – ethnically and demographically. And there’s no looming religious war with Islam to be dealt with.David again. If you want to understand Argentina (or any country, for that matter), buy a ticket, and by all means don’t spend your entire holiday in Buenos Aires, unless you enjoy hanging out in big cities. Getting slanted, questionable views on the Internet about any country is no way to form an opinion about the place.Now, I hate to bring it up, because it’s so blatantly commercial, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one last time the upcoming annual Harvest events this March at La Estancia de Cafayate. These events really are special, with leisurely days spent in the company of wonderful people – and a half-day Casey conference thrown in, too. But they always sell out quickly, and the March event is filling fast. If you have any interest in seeing the place, or experiencing a vacation you’ll remember for a lifetime, drop a note to Dave Norden today at dnorden@LaEst.com, and he’ll send you back an information package.Friday FunniesAs I am running late, Friday Funnies will be a bit light this week, but I did want to share an e-mail I received from Chris in New Zealand this week. It’s a set of questions and answers that actually appeared on an Australian tourism website. It’s nice to see a government agency that doesn’t take itself too seriously.Note that the nationality of the person asking the question is indicated in parentheses.Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK)A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles. Take lots of water.Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)A: What did your last slave die of?Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)A: A-fri-ca is the big, triangle-shaped continent south of Europe.Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific, which does not…Oh, forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in King’s Cross. Come naked.Q: Which direction is north in Australia? (USA)A: Face south, and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here, and we’ll send the rest of the directions. Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is…Oh, forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys’ Choir plays every Tuesday night in King’s Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)A: You are a British politician, right?Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney, and is milk available all year round? (Germany)A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled, and make good pets.Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)A: Only at Christmas.Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first. Additional ResourcesKung Fu Girl Interview with Louis James. In last week’s edition of these musings, fellow La Estancia de Cafayate community member Pete Kofod contributed an excellent essay, The Rise of the Praetorian Class, which has subsequently been widely picked up, including by Alex Jones.This week I have an offering from another member of the La Estancia community, Kung Fu Girl, who recently conducted a solid interview with our own Louis James. While investors who are experienced in the opportunities that are available in early-stage mineral exploration companies won’t learn anything new, she and Louis do a great job of recapping the fundamentals.Visit the Casey Research pavilion at the Cambridge House Investment Conference this coming Sunday and Monday in Vancouver. I won’t be there, but Louis James, Marin Katusa, Jeff Clark, Ed Steer, Olivier Garret and a number of other members of the Casey Research team will be. The program at the pavilion is quite comprehensive, featuring both the Casey team and some of the serially successful honorees of our Explorers’ League and NexTen organizations. There’s no charge.And that’s it for this week, I hope I didn’t bore you too badly with the long dissertation on Argentina – obviously something I feel pretty passionate about. Next week, I’ll make an attempt to focus on more conventional topics.Until then, thank you for reading and for being a Casey Research subscriber!David GallandManaging DirectorCasey Research
JPMorgan et al were standing at the ready to cap the pricesWith a lot of the markets in the West still closed on December 26 for the Boxing Day holiday, it was very quiet in Far East and London trading yesterday, as the gold price traded in a tight range either side of the $1,200 spot price mark.But once trading began in New York at 8:20 a.m. EST yesterday morning, a rally began that either ran out of gas or got capped in pretty short order. The high of the day came at, or just before, the London p.m. gold fix—and gold got sold down quietly for the rest of the day from that point onward.The CME recorded the low and high ticks in New York as $1,200.50 and $1,215.40 in the February contract.The gold price closed at $1,211.20 spot, up $5.90 on the day. And you can add the December 24 gain of $6.90 to that as well. Not surprisingly, net volume yesterday was very light at around 62,000 contracts.The rally in silver was similar. The only differences were that the rally began about 20 minutes before the Comex open—and the rally obviously got capped at the 9:30 a.m. EST open of the equity markets as it broke above the $20 spot price mark. After that it, too, got sold down as the Thursday trading session wore on, closing safely back below twenty bucks once again.The low and highs were recorded as $19.415 and $20.03 in the March contract.Silver finished the Thursday session in New York at $19.80 spot, which was up 30.5 cents from Tuesday’s close. Tuesday’s gain was 3.5 cents. Silver’s net volume was pretty close to 19,500 contracts which, although light, wasn’t that light, so it’s obvious that the not-for-profit sellers had to dump a fair amount of paper silver into the Comex futures market to cap the rally.The platinum and palladium prices popped at the Comex open as well, but met the same price fate as gold and silver—and at the same times. Here are the charts. Here’s the three-day dollar index chart—which I wouldn’t read a thing into. And yesterday’s rally in all four precious metals at the 8:20 a.m. EST Comex open had zero to do with the currencies. The index closed at 80.51—which was down about eight basis points from Tuesday’s close.Naturally enough, the gold stocks gapped up at the open, but the party ended once the HUI broke through the 200 mark at the 10 a.m. EST London p.m. gold “fix”—and that was it for the day. The stocks struggled to stay in positive territory at times, but did manage to close in the black, as the HUI finished up a meager 0.42%. But not to be forgotten is the fact that the HUI closed up 3.03% on Tuesday.It was pretty much the same for the silver equities, as they turned in a slightly better performance, but just barely, as Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Indicator closed up 0.83% on Thursday. On Tuesday, Nick’s indicator was up 2.27%.The CME Daily Delivery Report for Tuesday, December 24 showed considerable activity in gold, as 506 contracts were posted for delivery for sometime today. The short/issuers of note were Jefferies and Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia with 322 and 101 contracts respectively. Not surprisingly, the report also showed that JPMorgan Chase was the stopper on 501 of those contracts, all in its in-house [proprietary] trading account.There were only six silver contracts posted for delivery—and JPM stopped four of them.The CME’s Daily Delivery Report for yesterday, showed that nine gold and 33 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Monday. JPMorgan stopped all nine gold contracts—and 20 of the silver contract—all in its in-house [proprietary] trading account. The link to yesterday’s Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.With the exception of a handful of contracts, that should just about do it for the December delivery month in both gold and silver. First Day Notice for the January delivery month is upon us already—and the numbers will be posted on the CME’s website late on Monday evening EST. January is not an overly big delivery month in either metal.There were no reported changes in GLD on the day before Christmas, but an eye-watering 4,187,436 troy ounces of silver were withdrawn from SLV. That’s an awful big withdrawal to be of the “plain vanilla” liquidation variety—and I’ll be interested in what Ted B. has to say about it in his Saturday column.But there was a withdrawal from GLD on Thursday, as an authorized participant took out 48,222 troy ounces. And as of 6:13 p.m. EST yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.Joshua Gibbons, the “Guru of the SLV Bar List” had this to say in his weekly update for SLV: “Analysis of the 25 December 2013 bar list, and comparison to the previous week’s list—No silver was added, removed, or had a serial number change. As of the time that the bar list was produced, it was overallocated 734.0 oz. 4,187,436.4 troy ounces were removed on Tuesday, but not yet reflected on the bar list.” The link to Joshua’s website is here.The good folks over at the shortsqueeze.com Internet site updated their short interest numbers for both SLV and GLD as of mid-December—and here’s what they had to report. The short interest in SLV rose by 10.58% since the first of the month—and now stands at 20,376,400 shares/troy ounces. That works out to just under 634 metric tonnes of the stuff. That’s 10 days of world silver production that should be on deposit with SLV, but isn’t. About 6.1% of all SLV shares outstanding have been sold short.The percentage sold short in GLD over the same period of time increased by 7.03%. The short interest in GLD now stands at 23,236,900 shares, or 2.32 million troy ounces, or a bit over 72 tonnes. About 8.7% of all GLD shares outstanding have been sold short, which is outrageous.As Ted Butler says, because of their very nature, no precious metal fund should ever allow its shares to be shorted. Not one of these shorted shares in either SLV or GLD have any metal backing them at all.The U.S. Mint had a smallish sales report since Monday. They sold 4,000 troy ounces of gold buffaloes—and that was all.I don’t have the in/out activity for Monday at the Comex-approved depositories in either gold or silver. There’s no historical data—and the previous day’s numbers are overwritten with the current day’s data—and I didn’t write anything down.And, not surprisingly, there wasn’t much in/out activity in gold on Tuesday. The Comex-approved depositories only reported receiving 8,005 troy ounces off the stuff—and nothing was shipped out. There was no in/out activity at all in silver.Because of the holidays, I don’t have that many stories for you today, so I hope you can find time to skim them all.It was another extremely active week in the movement of metal into and out from the Comex-approved silver warehouses. More than 5 million ounces were physically moved [last] week, as total silver inventories rose another 2 million oz to 173 million ounces. This is the highest level of Comex silver inventories in many years, but the real story is in the movement, not the total. This incredibly active physical turnover is unique to Comex silver. There is no plausible explanation I can come up with other than it indicates that the vast bulk of Comex silver inventories are not available for sale at current prices and this necessitates new silver be deposited to satisfy demands for withdrawal. The active churn of silver coming and going in the Comex warehouses points to a much tighter wholesale market than the illegally-set prices on the Comex futures market would indicate. – Silver analyst Ted Butler: 21 December 2013Even though volume wasn’t overly heavy, the price action in all four precious metals at the Comex open yesterday morning in New York was certainly enough for most investors to stand up and take notice—and is one of several reasons why I have a column today.It was equally obvious that JPMorgan et al were standing at the ready to cap the prices the moment it became apparent that the market was about to go “no ask”. But capping the price wouldn’t have been an onerous task on such a light-volume day. Unfortunately, yesterday’s price action won’t be included in the Commitment of Traders Report that’s due out on Monday.I was just browsing around over on Nick Laird’s website—sharelynx.com—and I discovered something rather unusual about the Comex silver warehouse stocks. There are currently six Comex-approved depositories for silver, but only three of them are showing any activity worthy of the name. They are: the newest depository—CNT, JPMorgan Chase—and Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia/Scotia Mocatta. The other three depositories, Brinks, Inc., Delaware and HSBC USA are basically flat over the last few years. Here are the charts for the first three, as the other three are immaterial. I’ve posted the above JPM Chase chart before—and made the observation that they started adding to their silver depository almost on the precise day of the drive-by shooting in silver on May 1, 2011—and that it was hardly a coincidence. I’m still of that opinion today.As for what these charts mean in the grand scheme of things is still unknown, but it seems odd that only half of the Comex depositories in silver are active to any degree and, until recently, two of them didn’t even exist—and those two have had almost 58 million ounces of silver deposited in them since their respective inceptions.All was quiet in Far East trading on their Friday morning. Prices weren’t doing much—and volumes, which I thought were light on Thursday at this time, were microscopic in both metals by comparison as of 1 p.m. Hong Kong time. The dollar index, which did nothing all week, headed south to the tune of about 20 basis points starting around 9 a.m. Tokyo time on their Friday morning. Of course, this face plant in the currencies had zero impact on precious metal prices.And as I send this off to Stowe, Vermont at 4:35 a.m. EST this morning, the smallish rallies in all four precious metals that began around 1:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, all got met by a seller of last resort very shortly after the London open. Not surprisingly, volumes have picked up quite a bit, but are still very light for this time of day. The dollar index has really taken a header—and is now down about 48 basis points and just barely above the 80 mark—so I would guess that the rallies in the precious metals had something to do with the currency move. But, as you can tell from the price “action”, that means nothing when “da boyz” are out and about, however palladium is bucking that trend, at least for the moment.I’m sure you’ve received notification about this from Casey Research already, but I see that they’ve opened the ultra-exclusive Casey’s Club for a very short period of time. It has a very high sticker price, but as I’ve said countless times in this column—quality investment advice pays; it never costs. If you have an interest, the link to all you need to know is here.With today being Friday, I won’t hazard a guess as to how the rest of the trading day will unfold, but nothing would surprise me once the Comex opens for business at 8:20 a.m. EST this morning.That’s all I have for today. I’ll have a column tomorrow, but there probably won’t be much in it—and I’ll see you then.