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The Calm Before the Storm: Why Volatility Signals Stability, and 
Vice Versa

 


The aftermath of an airstrike in Aleppo, November 2014. (Rami Zayat / Courtesy Reuters)

Even as protests spread across the Middle East in early 2011, the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria appeared immune from the upheaval. Assad had ruled comfortably for over a decade, having replaced his father, Hafez, who himself had held power for the previous three decades. Many pundits argued that Syria’s sturdy police state, which exercised tight control over the country’s people and economy, would survive the Arab Spring undisturbed. Compared with its neighbor Lebanon, Syria looked positively stable. Civil war had torn through Lebanon throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s, and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 had plunged the country into yet more chaos. But appearances were deceiving: today, Syria is in a shambles, with the regime fighting for its very survival, whereas Lebanon has withstood the influx of Syrian refugees and the other considerable pressures of the civil war next door.

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The Man Who Sells Everything: A Conversation With Jeff Bezos

Bezos at a conference in New York, December 2014 (Mike Segar / Courtesy Reuters)

Jeff Bezos has always been a tinkerer. As a toddler, he tried to dismantle his crib, and in high school, he started his first business—an educational summer camp for middle schoolers. After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, he went to work on Wall Street, but he quit finance in 1994 to try his hand as an entrepreneur. Amazon.com started as an online bookseller, selling its first copies in July 1995. In the years since, it has grown into a diversified retail giant, as well as a producer of consumer electronics, such as the Kindle, and a major provider of cloud-computing services.

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Christmas in Wall Street - Eight Things I Wish for Wall Street, by Michael Lewis

<p>Who's been naughty, and who's been nice?</p>
 Photographer: Rob Kim/Getty Images

Who's been naughty, and who's been nice?   Photographer: Rob Kim/Getty Images

It's a wonderful life on Wall Street, yet here is a holiday wish list to make it even better.

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Anti-Islam Rally Grows as Immigrant Backlash Hits Europe

Photographer: Jens Meyer/AP Photo

An anti-Islamist group in Germany drew the biggest crowd ever for one of its rallies, even as the country’s leaders urged people not to participate in a movement that has gained in strength since starting two months ago.

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Now There's Something You Don't See Every Day, Chauncey

Narrator:

Well, today we find our heroes flying along smoothly...

Rocket J. Squirrel:

Flying along smoothly?

Bullwinkle J. Moose:

You're just looking at the picture sideways!

Rocket J. Squirrel:

Actually it's like this!

Narrator:

Oh... OH GOOD HEAVENS! Today we find our heroes plunging straight down toward disaster at supersonic speed!

Bullwinkle J. Moose:

That's better.

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1959 – 1964)

 

 

 

 

I have always thought that in revolutions, especially democratic revolutions, madmen, not those so called by courtesy, but genuine madmen, have played a very considerable political part. One thing is certain, and that is that a condition of semi-madness is not unbecoming at such times, and often even leads to success.
― Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859)

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Technology’s Shadow Over Democracy: As modern war relies on technology more than manpower, citizens in democracies should be vigilant

War without men: Ashton Carter, the nominee for US defense secretary, visiting a missile battery (top;) Pentagon shows off Global Hawk drone to Japanese visitors

In centuries past, the temporary erosion of civil rights during wartime – including free speech and freedom from detention without trial – was often counterbalanced by extensions of the franchise to fighting men, and sometimes also to the women who supported them. The need for soldiers to fight wars gave democracies a kind of built-in correction from the grassroots. From the American Revolution, when fighting-aged men gained the right to vote, through the Vietnam War when the suffrage expanded to 18-year-olds, contribution to collective defense has shored up political rights. Contrast this with the small number of specialized warriors, volunteers all, who are needed to fight the counterinsurgency wars of today.

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The Eastern European Spring: Voters Tilt Toward Pro-EU, Anti-Corruption Candidates

A man holds a sign reading "We want democracy like in EU, not like in Russia" in front of government headquarters in Bucharest, November 2014. (Radu Sigheti / Courtesy Reuters)

In Romania, election results suggest that eastern Europeans have directed their frustrations not at ethnic minorities but at their own governments, which are riddled with corruption and inefficiencies. Iohannis’ opponent, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, ran a campaign that catered to the nationalist vote, promising to support traditional Romanian values of “the army, church, and family” and arguing that Romania should incorporate neighboring Moldova. But he was soundly defeated on polling day. Instead, voters chose a solidly pro-EU political outsider who promised good governance.

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SECRET UPRISING: Inside Saudi Arabia's Growing Opposition Movement

The growing Saudi protest movement that's been hidden from the world. In Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern province a 3-year uprising has been raging, hidden from the world. With unprecedented access, this report explores the biggest protest movement in Saudi history. In scenes reminiscent of Libya, Egypt and Bahrain, masked protesters fill the streets, fling rocks and chant "martyrdom is better than oppression" as police bullets fly. In the Shia-dominated Eastern region of Qatif, there has been growing resentment that despite "standing on top of oil fields that feed the world", local communities suffer poverty, sectarian discrimination and no political freedom.

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Ebola: Fear, Lies And The Evidence

What are the facts about Ebola?

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Black Lives Matter...and so, therefore, must black perpetrators.

The reality is this: Black men, especially young black men, die violent deaths at appalling rates in these United States. But they do not die very often at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, thugs reminiscent of characters from American History X, police officers of any race or motivation, lynch mobs, the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Walmart, the Tea Party, Goldman Sachs, carbon dioxide, or any other bogeyman currently in vogue among so-called progressives. Blacks die violent deaths almost exclusively at the hands of black criminals.

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Catholic Geopolitics: The Pope, Erdogan, Syria, and Ukraine

Pope Francis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan walk in front of honor guard at the presidential palace in Ankara, November 28
Pope Francis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan walk in front of honor guard at the presidential palace in Ankara, November 28, 2014. (Tony Gentile / Courtesy Reuters)


Pope Francis will use a visit to Turkey to advance two goals: winning greater protection for Christians in the Middle East and drawing the Catholic and Orthodox Churches closer together. Neither is new; Pope Benedict XVI was in Istanbul eight years ago with a similar agenda and near identical itinerary. But the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine have make Francis’ mission more urgent than ever.

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African-American Rights and the Progressive Agenda

African American attitudes have truly been corrupted by the Victimology / Critical Theory / Black Liberation Theology / Race-Hustling ideologies they have been fed for 50 years  - since Democrat LBJ's Great Society was founded and began to plunder America's finances to "fight poverty".  The results?  Catastrophic poverty, a permanent underclass demanding payments and entitlements from the Government Plantation, rampant crime, collapsed educational standards, virulent racism vs. whites and other minorities, the death of the Black Family, millions of abortions wiping out generations of unborn children, and an attitude of seething hatred for being "victimized" and "disenfranchised"...and "Black" cities like Detroit becoming simulacrums for third-world dysfunction and bankrupt, crime-ridden, bombed-out municipalities.  All this after 23 TRILLION DOLLARS in "transfer payments" from American taxpayers the last half century. 

The "Progressive" agenda reaps its harvest.

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How Russia Rolled America

In the end, America’s Russia policy has not only gone from reset to regret, but may turn into retreat. This sad state of affairs will be difficult, if not impossible, for Washington to recover from during the last two years of Obama’s term in office. The next White House, whether it be Republican or Democrat, will be left to manage run-down relations with Russia following years of seemingly continuous catastrophe vis-a-vis Kremlin counterparts.

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The Myth of the Caliphate: The Political History of an Idea

Abdulhamid II, who would become the last Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, as a prince in 1867.


Abdulhamid II, who would become one of the last Ottoman sultans and caliphs, as a prince in 1867. (W.&D. DOWNEY / Jebulon)

It would be a mistake to think that twenty-first-century Islamist movements trying to revive the caliphate are doing so in the name of a clear, well-defined Islamic mandate. Rather, they are just other players in a centuries-long debate about a concept that has only occasionally taken on widespread relevance in the Islamic world.

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Stefan Molyneux: THE FALL OF GERMANY – THERE WILL BE NO ECONOMIC RECOVERY

While the mainstream media and government officials may paint the picture of economic growth and an impending financial recovery just around the corner, the current state of the German economy is perilous; high government spending, runaway electricity costs, green energy scams, wildly increasing housing costs, budget deficits, cheap money policies, crushing public sector worker pensions, collapsing GDP growth, dwindling retirement savings, low educational spending, rising health care costs, punishing taxes, hidden inflation, diminishing standard of living, unsustainable yearly deficits, stagnant wages for decades, double digit cost of living increases, and unbalanced income distribution. Stefan Molyneux studies the hard numbers and empirical evidence.

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How Albania Became Europe's Rubbish Tip

Albania is slowly sinking under the weight of Europe's waste. This report investigates an industry of waste that is both necessary for survival, yet a threat for many Albanians. For how long can it continue? "For us, the Roma, it is our only work, because nobody will hire us", says Renato, a scavenger earning half the average national wage. In the "dustbin of Europe", countries such as Serbia, Slovenia and Russia dump their scrap in vast quantities. Yet Albania's infrastructure is insufficient for dealing with this often toxic waste. Despite efforts to restrict imports, waste continues to enter under the guise of "raw material". In towns such as Elbasan, home to a large metallurgical plant, the poor control on the industry is beginning to destroy the health of its workers. As one doctor describes, "On one hand, the community has been here for a long time, and needs work. But on the other, it cannot afford the sacrifice".

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The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East

Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to yield an agreement, but the deadline for a deal has been extended without a hitch. What would have been a significant crisis a year ago, replete with threats and anxiety, has been handled without drama or difficulty. This new response to yet another failure to reach an accord marks a shift in the relationship between the United States and Iran, a shift that can't be understood without first considering the massive geopolitical shifts that have taken place in the Middle East, redefining the urgency of the nuclear issue.

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Facebook isn't dying. It's just changing: Reports of Facebook's death are greatly exaggerated. We just prefer to stalk over sharing.

 

A global map of interactions between Facebook users.

Facebook was the only network to see a drop in active usage among its 16-24 year-old users, of 0.5 per cent. Since the start of 2013, sharing photos and messaging friends has fallen by around 20 per cent, according to the report. While more than four fifths (83 per cent) of online adults have Facebook accounts, only 47 per cent consider themselves active users, a decrease of around 100 million users between the beginning and end of 2014.

As it stands, this doesn't look great for Facebook.

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How the US fracked OPEC: Oil enters new era

Lasting change: The OPEC has thrown in the towel, leaving it to the market itself to control supply, analysts say.

 Photo: Erin Jonasson

Lasting change: The OPEC has thrown in the towel, leaving it to the market itself to control supply, analysts say. OPEC's decision to cede no ground to rival producers underscored the price war in the crude market and the challenge to US shale drillers. The 12-nation group abandoned its role as a swing producer, ignoring the steepest slump in oil prices since the global recession to keep its output target unchanged.

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Pope’s Blistering Attack on ‘Haggard’ Europe: He told MEPs that Europe was tired and decrepit, and not doing enough to help imperiled migrants.

Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Pope Francis launched a blistering attack against Europe Tuesday claiming that the former cradle of democracy was growing “haggard,” soulless, and irrelevant. Francis became the first pope to address the European Parliament since the end of the Cold War, but he was in no mood to stand on ceremony. Looking tired but determined, the first Latin-American Pope told Europe that it must do more to help migrants settle safely on the continent.

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