Category Archives: Politics

22May/17
North Korea missile May 20 2017

North Korea Continues Missile Launches

As tensions continue building over North Korea’s build up in nuclear arms project, another missile launch as confirmed on May 20 by representatives from South Korea. The statement issued by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff read as followed:

“North Korea launched an unidentifiable projectile to the East Sea from Bukchang area in South Pyongyang Province at 16:49 today.” (The East Sea is also referred to as the Sea of Japan.) The South Korean statement later added, “The projectile flew 500 km [310 miles] and ROK and U.S. are now analyzing its details [sic]. ROK military is closely monitoring North Korean provocative trends and maintaining highest military readiness.”

After the South Korean statement, Commander David Benham, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman, issued the following statement on behalf of the White House: “U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 09:59 p.m. Hawaii time May 20. The launch of a medium range ballistic missile occurred near Pukchang. The missile was tracked until it landed in the Sea of Japan. We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely. U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) assessed that the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.”

While North Korean leader Kim Jong-un continues to taunt the US and neighboring South Korea, the international community continues to levy sanctions on Jong-un and his people. While the sanctions are creating issues, nothing seems to be deterring North Korea from further missile launches. To date, this is the 7th recorded missile launch in 2017. As long as Jong-un acts with defiance, there seems to be little chance of mediation.

16May/17
laptop ban us homeland security

US Homeland Security Looking at Wider Laptop Ban

With terrorists threats increasing throughout the air travel industry, The United States Department of Homeland Security is looking at a total ban on in-cabin computers (tablets, laptops) on designated flights. The proposed flights affected originate from 10 countries from within Europe and Africa. The ban would require all computing devices to be checked through as luggage.

If this policy is put in place, frequent travelers are going to face a major change in the way they travel. Not only will they have to endure long flights without any form of distraction, sans the airline’s movie list, but they run the risk of having their devices damaged or stolen by baggage handlers. Flight insurance would most likely cover the cost of such an incident, but who wants to get off a flight and have to head to the nearest mall for a new computer? Never mind that important data could be lost.

While the ban would only affect airlines originating in those 10 countries into the US, the likelihood the ban would eventually be expanded to include other countries would increase. There’s even a possibility Homeland Security could impose the ban on domestic flights should even one threat be exposed.

When contacted for a comment, several major US airlines (United Airlines (UAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL) nor American Airlines (AAL)) could not be reached. In anticipation of this type of ban throughout the world, several proactive airlines are allowing travelers to gate-check their devices, lowering the risk of theft and damage. There’s even a possibility the items could be stored in the cabin under lock n’ key with the airline staff. Among these airlines, which include Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, efforts are being made to offer loaner laptops, which would be controlled as the airlines property.

Stay tuned for more information on this proposed ban.

08May/17
macron victory france presidential election

Macron Claims Victory in France’s Presidential Election

With France facing significant issues related to unemployment and immigration from Muslim countries, the country’s citizens went to the polls in round two of the presidential election. As the dust cleared, Emmanuel Macron was the decided victor. The announcement came after the polls closed on a bitter fight between Macron and the far right candidate Marine Le Pen.

After Donald Trump’s victory in the US and Brexit’s victory in the United Kingdom, there were great concerns among populist leaning political figures that the tide had turned and a nationalist movement was sweeping the world. As a self-described centrist, Macron was able to strike a major victory among politicians who still favor liberal causes like open immigration policies.

Macron is a successful 39-year old businessman who decided to start his own centrist party and a run towards the presidency only a year ago. His victory serves as another clear message that tradition political concerns across the globe are under great pressure from people who want to see significant changes in the way their countries are being run.

While he never made a formal declaration of support, US President Trump was known to have been supportive of Le Pen’s tough stand against the continued immigration policies that have been creating significant problems between France’s borders. In an official statement out of the White House on behalf of the President, “We congratulate President-elect Macron and the people of France on their successful presidential election. We look forward to working with the new President and continuing our close cooperation with the French government.”

For now, liberal factions can breath a sigh of relief. In support of Macron, former US President Barack Obama just last week issued a video in support of the new French leader. In the video, he made clear the importance of the election by saying “Because the success of France matters to the entire world.”

24Apr/17
US rig count pressure oil prices

U.S. Rig Count Puts Pressure on Oil Prices

By mid 2015, oil prices had climbed as high as approximately $105 a barrel. In just a matter of months, the price took a nosedive, hitting as low as the mid $20 range by mid-2016. Due in large part to that drastic drop, oil companies in the U.S. reacted by shutting down oil and natural gas rigs in record numbers. By June of 2016, the number of operational oil rigs had gone from a record of 1,600 (late April 2015) to just above 350.

The volatility of oil and natural gas prices is well documented. For a number of reasons, the world had a front row seat to watch the wildest pricing ride in history. In the process of the drop, oil and gas companies had enormous write-offs as they recorded record losses that amounted to hundreds of billions worldwide. Fortunately, prices found stable ground by the end of 2016.

Today, oil prices seemed to have stabilized at around $50.00 a barrel. With oil prices poised to inch higher, U.S. oil and natural gas concerns are in the mood to reopen oil and natural gas rigs. Over the past 14 weeks, the number of oil rigs has increased by more than 200 to a current level of 688. Likewise, gas rigs have increased to 167.

With the addition of so much more oil activity in the U.S., the price of oil seems to be destabilizing. As of April 22, 2017, the price sat at $49.32 per barrel with continuing downward pressure throughout the world.

From this point forward, it becomes a real balancing act as U.S. firms attempt to create more supply without adversely affecting the market. With the threat of war on so many fronts, the global economic system is already jittery. It won’t take much to topple all the recent gains in oil prices, which is something the wold can ill-afford at this point in time.a

29Mar/17
Apple Disney rumblings

Apple / Disney Rumblings

Apple has created a war chest that is second to none. With over $200 billion in cash invested all over the planet, Wall Street has often made comments about what the company is going to eventually do with all this money.

In recent months, Wall Street rumblings have sent Disney’s stock up over 7.75%. Some of this increase could be due to rumors that Apple could be on the verge of buying the Entertainment giant for a large chunk of the company’s cash reserves. This isn’t a rumor that has been mentioned once or twice. In fact, this is a rumor that keeps popping up and peaking the interest of investors.

On the surface, one would have to wonder what these two mega giants have in common. The answer is content. They are both huge brand names that have derived a great deal of its success from the company’s content. While Apple sells the latest in technology, Disney uses this technology to provide the latest and greatest in entertainment.

When asked what he thinks of these rumors from Disney’s perspective, RBC analyst Steven Cahall had this to say: “Bulls think it portends well for a swan song exit via a sale to a giant like AAPL.”

The one part of a possible deal that doesn’t seem to fit is Disney’s ownership in the all-sports ESPN network. While both Apple and Disney are huge players in the international arena, ESPN is very much a U.S. domestic interest. To make this deal more fascinating, there are analysts who believe it would be in both company’s best interest to sell off the Broadcast Network as part of a mega-deal.

For now, all of this would seem to be nothing more than rumor and conjecture. With that being said, all eyes figure to be on both companies over the next few months.

15Mar/17
Trump new government

Old Government Versus New Government?

Since his election as President of the United States, Donald Trump has been under siege on a number of fronts. The anger directed towards his shocking victory over Hilary Clinton has come from Democrats, the left-leaning media and in some cases, his own party.

In recent weeks, there has been a growing concern that former President Barak Obama’s loyalist are creating issues from right inside the White House. These are individuals who hold major positions given while within Obama’s administration, and who have yet to be replaced by the new administration.

While all of the claims are alleged at this point, there does seem to be some credence to the notion that insiders might be trying to disrupt President Trump’s attempt to undo some of the laws and policies put in place by his predecessor. There has been enough information leaked from within the White House to warrant scrutiny. This past week, even President Trump went so far as to suggest that Obama resorted to ordering wiretaps to keep and eye on Trump’s election.

Whether or not any of these alleged actions have merit, it’s enough of a concern that the country is even discussing these things less than two month’s after Trump has taken office. In his inner circle, they are using the term “deep state” to refer to rogue individuals who still occupy government positions while being loyal to the cause of their former boss.

In a press conference this past weekend, press secretary Sean Spicer stated, “Well, I think that there’s no question when you have eight years of one party in office that there are people who stay in government … and continue to espouse the agenda of the previous administration. So, I don’t think it should come as any surprise that there are people that burrowed into government during eight years of the last administration and, you know, may have believed in that agenda and want to continue to seek it. I don’t think that should come as a surprise to anyone.”

This overriding feeling within President Trump’s administration might be related to a rash of firing this past week. It might be an attempt to clean the bugs out of the White House.

13Mar/17
Trump skinny america first budget

Trumps “Skinny” Budget Targets Campaign Promises

President Donald Trump’s vision for American has never been more apparent than what can be found in his “America-first Budget.” This new budget proposal is being offered up for the fiscal year beginning Oct 1st, 2017.

With each new incoming President, the prospects of putting together an expansive budget proposal within the first few months is a daunting process. Traditionally, the first budget proposal sent to Congress is referred to as a “skinny” budget. The purpose of the skinny budget is to give Congressional leaders a clear idea of the direction the President wants to take the country.

Developed as his campaign montra, the Trump America-first Budget focuses on the things that are most important to the country in the President’s view. As evidence, President Trump is requesting an increase of $54 billion in defense and border security spending, of which $2 billion is being targeted towards the energy department. All of these budget areas saw significant cuts while under the Obama administration.

In order to pay for the increases while lowering the overall budget, cuts are being proposed for the Environmental Protection Agency for environmental issues, welfare programs like public housing, various medical research programs and the Arts and Humanities. For the latter, President Trump has long been an advocate of those areas being covered by private funding resources.

Other important costs covered by the new budget proposal show $1.5 billion being earmarked for the border wall with Mexico, foreign aid cuts of about $10.1 billion (most of it running through the State Department) and significant cuts of about 13% for Housing and Urban Development, which will directly affect the poor.

As a long time advocate of taking care of the veterans who serve this country by risking their lives, Trump’s budget proposal shows a healthy increase of $4.4 billion for the Veteran Affairs Administration.

10Mar/17
Obamacare repeal replace

Obamacare Repeal and Replace is Underway

While the US GOP party has finally unveiled its plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the first step has been taken to start the dismantling process.

Against the wishes and warnings of the Democratic party and healthcare industry concerns like the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and AARP, House Republicans have pushed a bill through the Ways and Means Committee that abolishes the tax penalty levied on U.S. citizens who fail to purchase insurance. Historically, this is the part of Obamacare that the GOP has most furiously opposed. The notion people would be forced to purchase insurance goes against the fabric of capitalism.

Among the changes outlined in the GOP’s plan are cuts to medicaid programs throughout the country. These cuts are at the heart of what employers and the healthcare industry say will result in millions of Americans being kicked off insurance plans.

Not surprisingly, America’s Health Insurance Plans, representing insurers, was quick to stand behind the tax cuts that would be handed out to the healthcare industry, but still warned Medicaid changes “could result in unnecessary disruptions in the coverage and care beneficiaries depend on.”

While this is but the first step in what figures to be a long and contested repeal process, it’s an important step because it gets momentum rolling in the direction of the campaign promises made by US President Donald Trump. At this point in time, there’s enough opposition from some GOP Representatives and Senators to keep the repeal process heavily in the news for months to come.

As leader of the House, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters: “This is what good, conservative health care reform looks like. It is bold and it is long overdue, and it is us fulfilling our promises.” The lines are being drawn in the sand and the battle is on.