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A picture is worth a whole bunch of words…LOTS of words…THOUSANDS of words… Here are a few great pictures!

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612-239-0970

 

 

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A story without words about two young American heroes…

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If you have even a small token of appreciation for our US military men and women, we ask that you please share this post with someone.  All of America needs to see this story without words.  Not all our heroes are issued a uniform and deploy overseas; some of our heroes simply wait at home for those who do deploy to return.  The home-based hero often has a longer tour of duty — a lifetime — than the one who fought and came back.

A commitment to serve our country can take many different forms.

Does your own life feel a little more blessed after seeing these pictures?  We hope so.  Ours sure did.

 

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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UPDATE: Asteroid TX68 passed safely by us…

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Asteroid 2013 TX68 safely passed by Earth on Monday morning. According to the Minor Planet Center, the space rock’s closest approach occurred on March 7 at 13:42 UTC (8:42 ET) at a distance of 2,542,960 miles (4,092,497 km) from Earth, just a bit closer than the nominal 3 million miles previously estimated. The space rock approached our planet a few hours earlier than expected. The previous estimate indicated asteroid 2013 TX68 was due to pass by Earth around March 7 at 7:06 pm ET (March 8 at 00:06 UTC).

The flyby distance was about 10.64 times the Earth-moon distance, and the next closest approach dates predictions may change again, as the asteroid’s orbit is better understood and more precisely defined using new observations.

In the days leading up to this pass by 2013 TX68, astronomers were highly uncertain as to the asteroid’s closest distance to us. They knew it would not strike Earth, but – prior to today’s pass – the most recent estimate indicated a nominal or most probable distance of 3,104,591 miles (4,996,355 km).

However, the space rock might have passed as closely as 19,000 miles (30,000 km) or as far as 10,722,990 miles (17,256,980 km).

Astronomers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the variation in possible nearest distances for this asteroid was due to the wide range of possible trajectories for this object, which was tracked for only a short time after its discovery in 2013.

In the days leading up to its closest approach to us, Marco Micheli of the European Space Agency’s NEO Coordination Centre (NEOCC/SpaceDys) in Frascati, Italy, realized that this object – which was observed only briefly in 2013 before going into a region of the sky lit by the sun’s glare – was visible on some images a few days before it was officially detected on October 6, 2013. The new images let scientists roughly refine its trajectory, but just a bit.

Asteroid 2013 TX68 is travelling at a speed of 34,279 miles per hour (55,166 km/h).

According to the orbit predictions during the past two weeks, the asteroid may pass by our planet again on September 18, 2056. However, the next closest approach dates predictions will change again, now that it has swept past us.

Why has there been so much uncertainty about this object?

It’s the scenario that astronomers have always cautioned us about … the fact that asteroid 2013 TX68 approached Earth from the sun’s direction. In late February, the space rock was still approaching Earth from this direction, although the asteroid was actually at a greater distance from us than our star.

In other words, for most of the past few weeks, it has been in the daytime sky, where astronomers could not observe it.

The uncertainty of the exact date of closest approach, as well as the precise orbit, was due to the fact that asteroid 2013 TX68 was just observed during 10 days (including the newly found pre-discovery images). That is still a short time to define an orbit precisely.

On February 11, 2016, NASA removed asteroid 2013 TX68 from a list of space rocks with possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years.

Preliminary estimates of the size of asteroid 2013 TX68 suggest the space rock has a diameter of 30 meters (98 ft), which is about twice the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor that entered over Russian skies in February, 2013.

If a space rock of this size were to enter our atmosphere, it would produce a shock wave at least twice as intense as that of the Chelyabinsk meteor, which broke windows in six Russian cities – caused more than 1,500 people to seek medical care, mostly due to cuts from flying glass – and did other damage to thousands of buildings.

Orbit of asteroid 2013 TX68. The small arrow depicts the direction of the space rock, showing the asteroid is coming approximately

Orbit of asteroid 2013 TX68. The small arrow depicts the direction of the space rock, showing the asteroid is coming approximately from the sun’s direction, as seen from the perspective of Earth. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Bottom line: Astronomers now know that asteroid 2013 TX68 safely passed by Earth on Monday morning, March 7, 2016. According to the Minor Planet Center, the space rock’s closest approach occurred on at 13:42 UTC (8:42 ET) at a distance of 2,542,960 miles (4,092,497 km) from Earth.

 

(Please visit a great site called EARTHSKY.ORG for additional info.)

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  Whew! That was a close one. Glad we all made it! Next estimated close approach by this space rock to OUR space rock is in 2056. We’re planning to see that pass-by from a whole different vantage point…assuming there’s still a big space rock here for TX-68 to miss.

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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Follow-up to our last post: Economic collapse of South America is now well under way

BIG economic problems in South AmericaThe 7th largest economy on the entire planet is completely imploding.  I have written previously about the economic depression that is plaguing Brazil, but since my last article it has gotten much, much worse.  During 2015, Brazil’s economy shrank by 3.8 percent, but for the most recent quarter the decline was 5.89 percent on a year over year basis.  Unemployment is rising rapidly, the inflation rate is up over 10 percent, and Brazilian currency has lost 24 percent of its value compared to the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months.

At this point, Brazil is already experiencing its longest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and things are getting worse for ordinary Brazilians every single day.  The following comes from CNN

But with Brazil plunging into its worst recession in over two decades — hopes for a brighter future are fading. The Brazilian economy shrank 3.8% in 2015, according to government data published Thursday. That’s the biggest annual drop since 1990 and the country is in its longest recession since the 1930s.

I have never seen anything like this,” said Alves, 24, as he stood on his balcony overlooking Rocinha, a massive lower middle class neighborhood or favela in Rio de Janeiro where he grew up. “My parents would tell me about hard times, but today it is really tough. Prices are going up every day.”

So how did this happen?

Well, there are a couple of factors that are really hurting South American economies.

First, during the “boom years” governments and businesses in South America absolutely gorged on debt.  Unfortunately, many of those loans were denominated in U.S. dollars, and now that the U.S. dollar has appreciated greatly against local South American currencies, it is taking far more of those local currencies to service and pay back those debts.

Second, collapsing prices for oil and other commodities have been absolutely brutal for South American economies.  They rely very heavily on exporting commodities to the rest of the world, and so at the same time their debt problems are exploding they are getting a lot less money for the oil and industrial commodities that they are trying to sell to North America, Asia and Europe.

I want you to pay close attention to the following chart and analysis from Zero Hedge.  As you can see, the economic problems in Brazil appear to be greatly accelerating…

“The Brazilian economic downturn took a real turn for the worse in February,” according to Markit’s Composite PMI, which collapsed to record lows at 39.0. Despite a slightly less bad than expected GDP print this morning (still down a record 5.89% YoY), hope was quickly extinguished as PMIs showed economic activity continuing to contract at a record pace, job losses accelerating, and manufacturing’s collapse accelerating. As Market sums up, “With the global economy also showing signs of slowing, which will impact on external demand, it looks as if the downturn is set to continue to run its course in the coming months.”

GDP was a disaster (but better than expected)

Brazil GDP - Zero Hedge

And of course Brazil is not the only South American economy that is a basket case right now.  In fact, things in Venezuela are far worse.  In 2015, the Venezuelan economy shrunk by 10 percent, and the official rate of inflation was a staggering 181 percent.

Could you imagine living in an economy with a 181 percent inflation rate?

As prices have escalated out of control, citizens have attempted to hoard basic supplies in advance, and this has resulted in food shortages that are absolutely frightening

Cardboard signs on the door warning of “No bread” have become increasingly common at Venezuelan bakeries.

Venezuela gets 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil exports, and as crude prices have plunged, so have the country’s imports — among them wheat.

The leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has tightly controlled access to hard currency, and this has affected imports ranging from medicine to toilet paper. Now it is seriously affecting imports of wheat, which Venezuela does not grow.

Add to this the soaring inflation rate — 181 percent in 2015, the world’s highest — and you see why customers are mainly interested in buying basic food items such as bread.

Here in the United States, there are still people who doubt that an economic crisis is happening.

But in Venezuela and Brazil there is no debate.

Unfortunately, what is happening in Venezuela and Brazil is also slowly starting to happen to most of the rest of the planet as well.  It is just that they are a little farther down the road.  Economic and financial bubbles are bursting all over the world, and I like how author Vikram Mansharamani described this phenomenon during a recent interview with CNBC

Deflationary tides are lapping the shores of countries across the world and financial bubbles are set to burst everywhere, Vikram Mansharamani, a lecturer at Yale University, told CNBC on Thursday.

I think it all started with the China investment bubble that has burst and that brought with it commodities and that pushed deflation around the world and those ripples are landing on the shore of countries literally everywhere,” the high-profile author and academic said at the Global Financial Markets Forum in Abu Dhabi.

And of course the evidence of what Mansharamani was talking about is all around us.

Just this week we found out that Chinese state industries plan to lay off five to six million workers, U.S. factory orders have now fallen for 15 months in a row, and the corporate default rate in the United States has now risen above where it was at when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

There are some people that would like to point to the fact that stocks have bounced back a bit over the past couple of weeks as evidence that the crisis is over.

If they want to believe that, they are suffering from severe delusion.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the hard economic numbers coming in from all over the world tell us very clearly that global economic activity is slowing down significantly.

 

[by Michael Snyder, writing for The Economic Collapse Blog]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  See our last post for further points of reference.

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Economic numbers now screaming it’s panic button time…

Panic button time in US and around the globeWe haven’t seen numbers like these since the last global recession.  I recently wrote about how global trade is imploding all over the planet, and the same thing is true when it comes to manufacturing.

We just learned that manufacturing in China has now been contracting for seven months in a row, and as you will see below, U.S. manufacturing is facing “its toughest period since the global financial crisis”.  Yes, global stocks have bounced back a bit after experiencing dramatic declines during January and the first part of February, and this is something that investors are very happy about.  But that does not mean that the crisis is over.  All bear markets have their ups and downs, and this one will not be any different.  Meanwhile, the cold, hard economic numbers that keep coming in are absolutely screaming that a new global recession is here.

Just consider what is happening in China.  Manufacturing activity continues to implode, and factories are shedding jobs at the fastest pace since the last financial crisis

Chinese manufacturing suffered a seventh straight month of contraction in February.

China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) stood at 49.0 in February, down from the previous month’s reading of 49.4 and below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

A private survey also showed China’s factories shed jobs at the fastest rate in seven years in February, raising doubts about the government’s ability to reduce industry overcapacity this year without triggering a sharp jump in unemployment.

For years, the expansion of the Chinese economy has helped fuel global economic growth.  But now things have shifted dramatically.

At this point, things are already so bad that the Chinese government is admitting that millions of workers are going to lose their jobs at state-controlled industries in China…

China’s premier told visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on Monday his government is pressing ahead with painful reforms to shrink bloated coal and steel industries that are a drag on its slowing economy and ruled out devaluing its currency as a short-cut to boosting exports.

Premier Li Keqiang’s comments to Lew on Monday were in line with a joint declaration by financial officials from the Group of 20 biggest rich and developing economies who met over the weekend in Shanghai. They pledged to avoid devaluations to boost sagging trade and urged governments to speed up reforms to boost slowing global growth.

Across all state-controlled industries, as many as six million workers could be out of a job, with almost two million in the coal industry alone.

But it isn’t just China.  Right now manufacturing activity is slowing down literally all over the planet, and this is exactly what we would expect to see if a new global recession had begun.  The following chart and analysis come from Zero Hedge

As the below table shows, 28 regions have reported so far. Seven saw improvements in their manufacturing sectors in February, twenty recorded a weakening, and India was unchanged. This means that over 70% of the world saw manufacturing sentiment deteriorate in February compared to January.

February Manufacturing Numbers - Zero Hedge

In terms of actual expansion, there were 21 countries in positive territory and 7 in negative. In particular, Greece moved from neutral to contraction territory, while Taiwan dropped below breakeven from expansion.

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t really pay much attention to what is going on in the rest of the world.  For most of us, what really matters is what is happening inside the good ole USA.

And of course the news is not good.  There were more signs of trouble for U.S. manufacturing in the February numbers, and this continues a trend that stretches back well into last year.  The following is what Chris Williamson, the chief economist at Markit, had to say about these numbers

“The February data add to signs of distress in the US manufacturing economy. Production and order book growth continues to worsen, led by falling exports. Jobs are being added at a slower pace and output prices are dropping at a rate not seen since mid-2012.

“The deterioration in the manufacturing sector’s performance since mid-2014 has broadly tracked the dollar’s rise, which makes US goods more expensive in overseas markets and leads US consumers to favour cheaper imported goods.

“With other headwinds including the downturn in the oil sector, heightened uncertainty due to financial market volatility, global growth worries and growing concerns about the presidential election, it’s no surprise that the manufacturing sector is facing its toughest period since the global financial crisis.

Over the past couple of decades, the U.S. economy has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities.  We desperately need a manufacturing renaissance – not another manufacturing decline.

As good paying manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas, they have been replaced by low paying service jobs.  As a result, the middle class is shrinking and the ranks of the poor are exploding.

It is hard to believe, but today more than 45 million Americans are on food stamps, and a significant percentage of those individuals actually have jobs.  They are called “the working poor”, and it is becoming a major crisis in this nation.

And no matter what Obama may say, unemployment remains a major problem in the United States as well.  At this point, unemployment rates in 36 states are higher than they were just before the last recession hit in 2008.

Of course a lot of people are going to look at this article and point to the stock market gains of the past couple of weeks as evidence that “things are getting better”.  It is this kind of clueless approach that is keeping the American people from coming together on solutions to our problems.

The truth is that the United States has been experiencing economic decline for decades.  Our economic infrastructure has been gutted, the middle class is steadily deteriorating, and we have amassed the biggest pile of debt in the history of the world.

Anyone who believes that things are “just fine” (OOOObama is one of them, at least according to what he keeps telling us) is in a massive state of denial.  Consuming far more wealth than we produce is not a formula for a sustainable economy.

 

[by Michael Snyder, writing for The Economic Collapse Blog]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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World War III ready to begin: 350,000 soldiers in Saudi Arabia stand ready to invade Syria

350,000 soldiers, 20,000 tanks, 2,450 warplanes and 460 military helicopters are massing in northern Saudi Arabia for a military exercise that is being called “Northern Thunder”.  According to the official announcement, forces are being contributed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia and several other nations.  This exercise will reportedly last for 18 days, and during that time the airspace over northern Saudi Arabia will be closed to air traffic.  This will be the largest military exercise in the history of the region, and it comes amid rumors that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are preparing for a massive ground invasion of Syria.

If you were going to gather forces for an invasion, this is precisely how you would do it.  Governments never come out and publicly admit that forces are moving into position for an invasion ahead of time, so “military exercises” are a common excuse that gets used for this sort of thing.

If these exercises are actually being used as an excuse to mass forces near the northern Saudi border, then we should expect an invasion to begin within the next couple of weeks.  If it happens, we should expect to see the Saudi coalition storm through western Iraq and into Syria from the south, and it is likely that Turkey will come in from the north.

The goal would be to take out the Assad regime before Russia, Iran and Hezbollah could react.  For the past couple of years, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies have been funding the Sunni insurgency in Syria, and they were counting on those insurgents to be able to take down the Assad regime by themselves.

You see, the truth is that ISIS was never supposed to lose in Syria.  Saudi Arabia and her allies have been funneling massive amounts of money to ISIS, and hundreds of millions of dollars of ISIS oil has been shipped into Turkey where it is sold to the rest of the world.

The major Sunni nations wanted ISIS and the other Sunni insurgent groups to take down Assad.  In the aftermath, Saudi Arabia and her allies intended to transform Syria into a full-blown Sunni nation.

But then Russia, Iran and Hezbollah stepped forward to assist the Assad regime.  Russian air support completely turned the tide of the war, and now the Sunni insurgents are on the brink of losing.

Aleppo was once the largest city in Syria, and Sunni insurgents have controlled it since 2012.  But now relentless Russian airstrikes have made it possible for Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah ground forces to surround the city, and it is about to fall back into the hands of the Syrian government.

If this happens, the war will essentially be over.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies have invested massive amounts of time, money and effort into overthrowing Assad, and they aren’t about to walk away now.

If the war was to end right at this moment, a weakened Assad regime would remain in power, and Iran and Hezbollah would be the dominant powers in the country for years to come.  And once Assad died, it would be inevitable that Iran and Hezbollah would attempt to transform Syria into a full-blown Shiite nation.  This is something that Saudi Arabia and Turkey want to avoid at all costs.

So they are actually considering what was once absolutely unthinkable – a massive ground invasion of Syria.

But if Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies go in, they run the risk of a full-blown war with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.  Just consider some of the comments that we have seen in recent days

Reacting to a potential troop deployment, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Saturday, “Let no one think they can attack Syria or violate its sovereignty because I assure you any aggressor will return to their country in a wooden coffin.”

Pavel Krasheninnikov, a deputy of Russia’s State Duma, has warned Saudi Arabia that any military ground operation in Syria without Damascus’ consent would amount to a declaration of war, Press TV reported.

We could literally be looking at the spark that sets off World War 3.  I can’t believe that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are actually considering this.

And if it does happen, you can rest assured that Barack Obama gave them the green light to go in.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the decision may have already been made.  Just consider what Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is saying

“If we have such a strategy, then Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch a ground operation,” he added, fueling concerns that a foreign troop invasion may soon further complicate the already turbulent situation in the war-torn country.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE voiced their readiness to contribute troops for a ground operation in Syria on the condition that the US would lead the intervention. Damascus and its key regional ally, Iran, warned that such a foreign force would face strong resistance.

And in addition to all of the forces massing in northern Saudi Arabia, the London Independent is reporting that the Saudis have sent troops and aircraft to a military base in Turkey…

Saudi Arabia is sending troops and fighter jets to Turkey’s Incirlik military base ahead of a possible ground invasion of Syria.

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, confirmed the deployment in a statement to the Yeni Şafak newspaper on Saturday, days before a temporary ceasefire is due to come into force.

There are reports that Saudi officials are saying that the decision to send in ground troops is “irreversible”, and Reuters is reporting that the Syrian government claims that some Turkish troops have already entered the country…

The Syrian government says Turkish forces were believed to be among 100 gunmen it said entered Syria on Saturday accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents fighting Damascus.

“The operation of supplying ammunition and weapons is continuing via the Bab al-Salama crossing to the Syrian area of Azaz,” the Syrian foreign ministry said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council published by state news agency SANA.

Of course the Turkish government is not going to confirm that report, but what we do know is that Turkey is shelling Kurdish forces on the Syrian side of the border.  The funny thing is that these Kurdish forces are actually being supported and supplied by the U.S. government.

So the Turks are not supposed to be doing this, but according to Reuters they have been doing it for two days in a row anyway…

The Turkish army shelled positions held by Kurdish-backed militia in northern Syria for a second day on Sunday, killing two fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Turkey on Saturday demanded the powerful Syrian Kurdish YPG militia withdraw from areas that it had captured in the northern Aleppo region in recent days from insurgents in Syria, including the Menagh air base. The shelling has targeted those areas.

The hostility between Turkey and the Kurds goes back a long, long way.  The Syrian Kurds are not threatening Turkey in any way right now, but Turkey is using the instability in the region as an excuse to lob artillery shells at a hated enemy.  It is an act of naked aggression that the Obama administration should be loudly denouncing.

In addition, it is being reported that Syrian government forces have also been getting shelled by the Turkish military

Anatolia news agency reported that the Turkish military hit Syrian government forces on Saturday, adding that the shelling had been in response to fire inflicted on a Turkish military guard post in Turkey’s southern Hatay region.

Turkish artillery targeted Syrian forces again late on Saturday, according to a military source quoted by RIA Novosti. The attack targeted the town of Deir Jamal in the Aleppo Governorate.

Needless to say, the Russians are quite alarmed by all of this.

In fact, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is warning about what could happen if things spiral out of control

In the wake of Saudi Arabia’s proposal to send in ground troops on Thursday, the Russian Prime Minister claimed the move could spark a new world war.

“A ground operation draws everyone taking part in it into a war,” he told the Handelsblatt newspaper.

“The Americans and our Arab partners must consider whether or not they want a permanent war.”

If Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies launch an invasion and make a mad dash to take out the Assad regime in Damascus, the Russians will inevitably respond.

And if tactical nuclear weapons are necessary to keep the invading forces out of Damascus, the Russians will not be shy about using them.

I don’t know if I have ever seen a scenario which was more likely to initiate World War 3 than the one that we are watching unfold right now.

So what has the mainstream media been saying about all of this?

Incredibly, they have been almost entirely silent.  When he went looking for news about these events, James Bailey could find almost nothing on either Fox News or CNN…

I just visited the home page for Foxnews.com and found not one single mention of the insane events now unfolding in the Middle East. I could not believe it, so I used my Find tool to search for Syria and Saudi Arabia. Not one mention!

Of course that could change at any moment, but nothing there when I checked. Their stories were all about the meaningless Presidential election, which has already been decided regardless of what we think about it, and other stories about entertainment, sports, Congressional political theater, etc.

So I went to CNN and found just about the same thing with one news story about the Syrian cease fire, but when I read it there was no mention of any of the big events that have developed this week. This is truly an amazing media blackout!

But Fox News does have space to run headlines like these…

Spanish man skipped work for 6 years, still got paid

48 people rescued from stuck tram cars at New Hampshire ski resort

Lovelorn elephant takes out his rage on more than a dozen cars

And CNN apparently thinks that these news stories are more important than the potential beginning of World War 3…

Kanye West drops album, says he’s $53 million in debt

Dutch cops train eagles to hunt drones

Teen hands out 900 flowers to girls at school

If Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies are going to conduct an invasion of Syria, the most likely time for this to happen will be by the end of this month during these military exercises.

If we can get to March 1st and no invasion has happened yet, perhaps we can breathe a little sigh of relief.

But if it does happen, and the Russians and the Iranians decide to shoot back, it really could be the start of World War 3.

 

[by Michael Snyder, writing for The Economic Collapse Blog]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

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Cracks in America’s economy are growing…

US ECONOMY HIT THE BRAKES DURING THE HOLIDAYS

 

Some recent economic data even raises fears that we might be heading towards a possible U.S. recession in 2016. Big banks like Morgan Stanley estimate there’s a 20% chance of recession this year.

On Friday, the government will release data that show how the U.S. economy fared in the last three months of the year. Many experts forecast that the U.S. economy barely grew — about 1% or less — between October and December of 2015 compared to a year ago.

Even the Federal Reserve admitted Wednesday that the economy “slowed” at the end of last year.

On Thursday, the bad news continued. A key sign of confidence is orders for new products and equipment — known as “durable goods” — placed by companies to power their business. Orders for durable goods fell 5% between November and December, according to the Commerce Department. That was a lot below expectations that orders would be flat.

It shows that some companies are delaying or deciding not to purchase any new piece of equipment they need.

The news on durable goods caused Barclays to lower its GDP forecast to 0.4% on Thursday. Capital Economics, a research firm, admitted the new data posed risks “firmly to the downside” for its estimate of 1%.

Here are 3 more warning signs that the U.S. economy is heading in the wrong direction:

1. Americans are not spending much

U.S. economic growth depends on shoppers. Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the nation’s economic engine. Yet they’re sending mixed signals: U.S. retail sales declined a bit in December and they were negative or flat seven times last year.

Consumer confidence has wavered too. It peaked at 98% in January 2015 but has since drifted down in general. Consumer confidence is currently 93%. While it’s a lot better than what it was just a few years ago, any downward movement is still a cause for concern.

2. U.S. manufacturing already in recession

American factories are suffering from the global economic slowdown. Manufacturing makes up 10% of the U.S. economy, according to Morgan Stanley.

The key ISM manufacturing index has declined for six straight months, and its been negative — below 50% — for the last two months.

The strong dollar is making products manufactured in the U.S. more expensive overseas, lowering demand for American made goods. The slowdown in emerging market economies isn’t helping trade either.

3. Corporate America is hurting

Earnings season isn’t over yet but one thing is clear: American companies are making less money than a year ago. Put together, when America’s biggest companies — and employers — suffer, the economy follows suit.

The S&P 500 — the benchmark for U.S. stocks — is down 7% so far in January. Apple, the nation’s biggest company by market size, just announced record profits with a gloomy outlook ahead. It believes iPhone sales will decline in the first quarter of this year for the first time in 13 years.

Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed serious caution about the global economy. When a major American CEO raises the warning flag that’s not good for the U.S. economy.

“We’re seeing extreme conditions unlike anything we have experienced before just about everywhere we look,” Cook said Tuesday.

 

[by Patrick Gillespie, writing for CNN Money]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  If you’re looking for an excellent source of extra cash, here’s the best one we know:

POWER TO MAKE WEALTH

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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