Iran Kidnaps Five More Bargaining Chips

Faced with increasing pressure over its nuclear program, Iran recently upped the ante by detaining five British sailors.

Iran detains 5 British sailors, saying the racing yacht strayed into its waters

Iranian authorities seized five British sailors after their racing yacht may have strayed into Iranian territorial waters, British authorities said Monday.

The group was sailing a 60-foot Volvo racing yacht from Bahrain to Dubai last Wednesday when they were “stopped by Iranian naval vessels,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement. “The yacht was on its way from Bahrain to Dubai and may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters. The five crew members are still in Iran.”

Last month, Iran accused three American hikers who were taken into custody in July while trekking on the Iran-Iraq border of espionage. Their families have denied the allegations.

The seizure of the sailors comes against a backdrop of difficult diplomatic relations between U.S. and European leaders and the Iranians, intensified by a long-standing dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. On Sunday, Iran announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants. The Iranians say their program is for energy and medical use, but the United States and the European nations are concerned that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, said in a statement that the British government contacted Iranian authorities on Wednesday night to “both to seek clarification and to try and resolve the matter swiftly” and “remain in close touch.” While the United States no longer maintains a mission in Iran, Britain has an embassy in Tehran.

See also:
British sailors detained by Iran en route to Gulf yacht race
Iran Detains Five British Sailors in Gulf, U.K. Says (Update1)
Analysis: British yacht crew detained by Iran
Iran Holds U.K. Crew and Yacht in the Gulf
5 Britons held in Iran after yacht seized in Gulf
British sailors in Iranian custody
Five British Sailors Detained In Iran
British Racing Yacht Crew Held By Iran
Five Britons held in Iran after yacht seized in Gulf

Let’s recap, Iran is the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, they kidnap American and British citizens with impunity, they’re directly responsible for the deaths of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, they thumb their noses at international censure and continue moving full speed ahead to develop nuclear weapons, and they threaten to wipe Israel off the map at least once a week, etc., etc.

/how much longer is the civilized world going to put up with this [expletive deleted] before they actually do something meaningful to bring the Iranian Mullahs, who are hell bent on creating global chaos, to heel?

Weekly Watch List

BUCY
BIDU
MELI
NEU
PCLN
ISRG
SIRO
GMCR
TLVT
BCSI
ASIA
AAPL
WBD
VRX
BWY
SHOO
GOOG
BVN
AM

Additions:
AAPL
AM
GOOG
TLVT
VRX
WBD

Subtractions:
ATW
GES
PWRD

All the indexes were down or flat last week on low holiday volume. The Nasdaq slid 0.4%, the NYSE gave up 0.2%, the Dow backed up 0.1%, and the S&P 500 was unchanged. The IBD outlook remains at “uptrend under pressure”.

Although, with the market uptrend under pressure, it’s not the best time to be making new stock purchases, there is one watch list stock that is in a proper buy range this week. Last week, MELI, currently trading at $48.59, broke out of a three weeks tight pattern and is still within 5% of its $47.86 buy point.

/as usual, your mileage may vary, always do your own homework

The Chinese Garlic Bubble

China sees huge rise in garlic prices

Garlic prices are hitting record highs in China, the world’s biggest producer of the pungent bulbs, amid reports of a speculative bubble in the market even as people rush to buy it as a putative cure for swine flu.

The China Daily reported last week that a high school in the eastern city of Hangzhou bought more than 400 pounds of garlic and made students eat it at lunch to stay healthy.

Wholesale garlic prices in Beijing are now 15 times as high as in March, and still rising.

Jerry Lou, a Morgan Stanley China strategist who has researched the opaque market here, said speculators — fueled by the abundant liquidity sloshing around China — have moved into the small market and strategically driven up prices.

“You need a warehouse, a lot of cash and a few trucks. That’s how it works,” Lou said, describing garlic speculators’ tools of the trade. “Basically, what you do is try to arrest as much supply as possible, then you bid up the price. Moving garlic from one warehouse to the other, you make millions of dollars.”

Lou said garlic wholesalers told him that gangs that had amassed cash and credit from dealing property and stocks in other parts of the country had chosen the garlic market as their latest ruse.

See also:
Garlic outperforming gold and stocks
Hold Your Nose: Garlic Is Best Investment in China
Garlic, China’s Best-Performing Asset
Chinese Garlic Market Reeks of Speculation
Garlic run smells like speculative bubble
Garlic prices in China shoot up on flu fears
China Sees Huge Rise in Garlic Prices
Garlic Dealers Cashing In On Flu Rumours
Savvy investors pile into Chinese garlic
Strong demand for garlic in China drives up local prices
Garlic Investors Smell Money

History repeats itself.

Tulipmania

Traditionally, the buying and selling of tulip bulbs occurred during the summer months, after the flower had bloomed in May or June (depending on the type) and the bulb was lifted from the soil, to be wrapped in paper and kept dry indoors. The flower would have been viewed by then and the bulbs, themselves, inspected and exchanged before being replanted in September. A seller promised to deliver the bulb when lifted and the purchaser to pay upon delivery. In trade such as this, honor obviously was important, especially since a blossom in the summer need not necessarilty look the same the following year. Indeed, the changeability of tulips was one of their charms. But such variations could lead to deception or at least the suspicion that bulbs might not be the same as contracted.

In the planting season of 1635, as prices began to rise, there was a fundamental change in how bulbs were traded in the Netherlands. Increasingly, they were sold by weight while still in the ground, with only a promissory note to indicate details of the bulb, including its weight at planting, and when it would be lifted. The bulbs, themselves, the delivery of which was months away, were not sold, only these paper promises. Weight was measured in aasen (azen or aces), an exceedingly small unit equal to one-twentieth of a gram, or less than .0018 of an ounce. Although paying by weight was a more fair way to assess price, an immature bulb costing less than a more mature one, it also increased the price of the heavier bulb. And, because a bulb planted in September or October likely would weight substantially more when lifted (after blooming) the following June or July, it encouraged speculation. Even if the price per aas did not change, the price of the bulb, itself, could increase three to five hundred percent over those nine months, depending upon weight. Heavier bulbs, too, tended to flower earlier and have more offsets, the smaller bulblets attached to the mother bulb.

Tulips grown from seed could take five to ten years to produce a flower, those from offsets from three to five years to become flowering bulbs themselves. Because a tulip bulb may produce only one or two offsets a year and then only for several years before the mother bulb, itself, dies, one found to have offsets when lifted obviously increased in value. But a grower could not afford to sell a particularly valuable bulb too soon. To do so would limit the ability to produce any more of that variety–which is why particularly desirable flowers always were in short supply.

Variegated tulips, those with contrasting markings, such as red (Rosen) or purple (Violetten) against a white ground (or bizarden, against a yellow ground), were most favored, especially those whose color was displayed as thin feathers or flames that symmetrically ran along the center of each pedal and around the edges. This vivid coloring, which so bewitched the Dutch, was caused by a virus that infected the tulip but also weakened it and reduced the number of offsets. A complete mystery at the time, the mosaic virus was conveyed by aphids, which flourished in the fruit trees that were a feature of seventeenth-century gardens. An infected flower was said to be “broken” and there was no way to determine if, or when, a flower would break. It was an unpredictable process that only added to the allure of the tulip for the Dutch.

The cultivation of new varieties in 1634 depressed prices, and tulips became accessible to a popular market. No longer the province of professional growers and connoisseurs, they now could be purchased by small buyers, such as the weaver or spinner and other crafts and tradespeople. For a modest investment, often paid for in kind, one could speculate in the more common tulips that were the stock of mass trade. Late that year, prices then swung in the opposite direction and began to rise. To meet demand, offsets were sold, which only could be separated when the bulb was lifted. Buying in the winter for delivery in the summer became acceptable and, by 1636, a futures market had developed for the bulbs, themselves. Buyers promised to pay a specified price for bulbs in the ground at a fixed time in the future, speculating that, at lifting time, they would be worth more than the promissory note, which then could be sold to a new buyer in hope of realizing a profit. As spring approached and expectation increased, this trade in tulip futures became more frenzied, and, by November and December of that year, speculation was at its height. Prices for so-called “piece” goods (the more desirable varieties) doubled or trebled, and even the most plain and common tulips, which previously had been disdained, were bought. Indeed, these “pound” goods, which were sold in bulk, rose as much as twenty-fold. Smaller lots were offered, as well, and bulbs could be purchased by the basket, the pound, or the ace. Goods in kind were delivered at once, and cows and cloth, looms and land, shops and houses paid to secure the purchase.

At the height of this tulip mania, most transactions did not even involve the exchange of goods but became purely speculative. “Everything was worth money and so current that one could get in exchange almost anything one desired,” says Gaergoedt. “And all this with promises and vouchers, when the bulbs were in the earth” (First Dialogue). Even though buyers did not have the cash amount or sellers actually possess the bulb, there still was the expectation that a succeeding sale could be at an ever higher price. But buyers must have begun to wonder if the escalating prices of the previous two months could be sustained (and been suspicion, too, that more tulips would be grown, increasing the supply). In the first week of February 1637, when investors were not willing to go higher, the market collapsed, the bulbs contracted the previous autumn still in the ground.

As Gaergoedt, who had mortgaged his house, laments: “it has been a madness.”

In the end, tulips are tulips and garlic is garlic. Just like the Tulipmania of the mid 1630s, the Chinese garlic bubble will also collapse and all the latecomers to the speculative garlic frenzy will be left holding the clove, financially ruined.

/Devil Take the Hindmost

We Report, You Decide


Methuen woman sees Jesus on bottom of her clothes iron

There is one thing that Mary Jo Coady wants to make clear to anyone who hears about her, reads about her, or tries to dismiss her – she is not trying to convince anyone that the bottom of her steam iron truly carries the face of Jesus Christ.

But the image, which bears a striking likeness to popular depictions of Jesus Christ, has had a profound affect on Coady. After a challenging past two years in which her faith waned, Coady, who was raised Catholic, said she feels spiritually uplifted by the startling depiction.

. . .

Coady said she was taken aback when she spotted the image last Sunday while straightening up around the house, but she thought she might be reading too much into it. During a difficult past two years, she has separated from her husband, moved out of the home they owned, and had her hours cutback at the medical facility where she works as a secretary.

Now living with her two college-age daughters, Coady turned to relatives and friends. She posted images of the iron on her Facebook account, and asked for input. Did they see what she saw in the residue on the bottom of her iron?

The answer from her relatives – including her daughters – was unanimous:They all saw Jesus Christ, Coady recalled today. Strengthened by their support, Coady decided to share her story with others, beginning with an article published in today’s edition of the Eagle-Tribune newspaper of Lawrence.

“For me I think it happened for a reason,’’ said Coady. “I think it’s good to share it with other people.

See also:
Mass. woman sees image of Jesus on her iron
Massachusetts woman, Mary Jo Coady, finds image of Jesus on bottom of iron
Jesus iron smooths out woman’s ‘issues’
Woman sees Jesus on iron
Mass. woman sees Jesus image on her iron
Mass. woman sees image of Jesus on iron bottom (w/ photo)
A spiritual boost

/I smell EBay!

Happy Thanksgiving!

/keep your turkey close, your football and adult beverages closer

Final Score: Honduras 1 Obama 0

Faced with the utter failure of yet another of his boneheaded, anti-American ally, foreign policy decisions, Obama finally gives up, waves his ever handy white flag, and surrenders to the good guys’ rule of law in Honduras.

Honduras: Obama administration finally and completely abandons Zelaya

The Obama administration’s wishy-washy attitude toward Honduran elections finally lands him on the right side of the issue: in favor of Honduras and its democracy, and against ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who was thrown out after attempting to extend his reign illegally.

The United States says it supports Sunday’s presidential election in Honduras as an “essential” part of a solution to that country’s ongoing political crisis.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly says the U.S. thinks it is important that the people of Honduras have the opportunity to “express their votes in a free and transparent way.”

…Spokesman Kelly noted that the election, in which neither [Interim President Roberto] Micheletti nor Mr. Zelaya is running, is being organized by an electoral tribunal that was selected and installed in a transparent, democratic process before the coup. He said it is important the election be seen as free, fair and transparent, and is monitored by a credible international monitoring process.

After an Obama knee-jerk reaction to Zelaya’s ouster in June, the U.S. had insisted on Zelaya’s reinstatement. This would have harmed Honduras’s Congress and high court, which had ousted Zelaya, even as it served no discernible U.S. interest. At the same time, Zelaya’s continuation in power would have benefited one of Zelaya’s main allies and alleged sources of funding — Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

By hanging Zelaya out to dry — leaving him powerless and languishing in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, possibly facing trial for illegally seeking re-election — the administration saves face in Honduras and ultimately does the right thing. The Honduran Congress will vote on Dec. 2, after the next president has been elected, whether to reinstate Zelaya as a lame duck, and with the election already decided, they won’t be under any pressure to do so and reverse their earlier decision.

So all’s well that ends well. But even so, as we recently opined, a happy ending is still no excuse for Obama’s half-cocked diplomacy, and no number of low bows to Honduras’s next president will make up for the damage he has caused there. Again, his legendary inexperience in world matters shows.

See also:
US Expresses Support for Honduran Election
Obama’s Honduran debacle
Micheletti steps aside for Honduras poll
Zelaya warns US support for Honduras election divisive
INTERVIEW-US risks isolation over Honduras election-Brazil
Honduras vote to sideline president, enshrine coup
Hondurans march supporting elections without Zelaya
Our Man In Tegucigalpa Is A Raving Lunatic
Still Stuck On Stupid And Doubling Down
Selective Meddle For Communist Dictators

Well, ever since the U.S. reversed course and decided to support this Sunday’s November 29th Honduran elections, all the world’s communists, socialists, assorted tin pot dictators and far left loons have been screaming bloody murder.

/what does that tell you about what was the right thing for the United States to do?

But Did They Read The Terrorist His Miranda Rights?

Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.

The three, all members of the Navy’s elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral’s mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named “Objective Amber,” told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

Matthew McCabe, a Special Operations Petty Officer Second Class (SO-2), is facing three charges: dereliction of performance of duty for willfully failing to safeguard a detainee, making a false official statement, and assault.

Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe, SO-2, is facing charges of dereliction of performance of duty and making a false official statement.

Petty Officer Julio Huertas, SO-1, faces those same charges and an additional charge of impediment of an investigation.

See also:
SEALs charged in alleged assault of detainee
Notorious terrorist captured – SEAL captors arrested!
They should have just shot him
Theater of the Absurd

Terrorist show trials in New York and now this, bad craziness, sheer madness, FUBAR.

/as Pogo so aptly put it, we have met the enemy . . . and he is us

This Better Not Be True

Whispers of Surrender in Afghanistan?

It comes to our attention that the MEMRI Blog highlights an article from the Saudi al-Watan in Arabic that – according to an Afghan source – the United States is talking to the Taliban seeking to trade control of 5 provinces in exchange for the cessation of attacks on US bases. MEMRI summarizes:

An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement’s foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases.

Kunar province borders the Khyber Pass region where the majority of US and NATO supplies pass enroute from Pakistan. And the remaining four provinces constitute fully the southern 25% of Afghanistan’s territory.

This, if true, is a disturbing development.

See also:
Afghan Source: The U.S. Has Offered the Taliban Control in Return for Quiet
Taliban at the table
US Recognition of Taliban Rule in Return for Ceasefire Against US Forces
US-Taliban talks?
More talk of Taliban talks
US in back-channel talks with Afghan Taliban
In Afghanistan, A Plan To Woo The Taliban

Well, this could certainly explain why Obama keeps blowing off the decision on more U.S. troops for Afghanistan.

/if this turns out to be true and Obama is running his underwear up the flagpole and surrendering to the Taliban, it’s beyond disturbing, it’s absolutely disgusting

Weekly Watch List

NEU
PCLN
MELI
BUCY
BIDU
GMCR
SIRO
ASIA
ISRG
ATW
SHOO
BVN
BWY
GES
BCSI
PWRD

Additions:
None

Subtractions:
CERN
GOOG
VRX

Last week all the indexes, except for the Dow, were down. This negative action tacked on even for distribution days and pushed the IBD outlook over to “uptrend under pressure”. Stay defensive for the time being.

Once again this week, no watch list stocks are in a proper buy range.

/as usual, your mileage may vary, always do your own homework

One Step Closer To Socialized Medicine

Health Care Bill Moves Forward

Sweeping health care legislation has cleared its first hurdle in the full Senate on a party-line vote.

The 60-39 vote clears the way for a historic debate after Thanksgiving on the legislation. The measure is designed to extend coverage to an estimated 31 million Americans who lack it and crack down on insurance industry practices that deny benefits.

The White House released a statement saying, “The President is gratified that the Senate has acted to begin consideration of health insurance reform legislation. Tonight’s historic vote brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, providing stability and security to those with health insurance, and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it. The President looks forward to a thorough and productive debate.”

The rare Saturday session amounted to a first round in the fight to pass the bill in the full Senate, with the remaining Democratic holdouts announcing they would support at least the measure to open debate on the bill, avoiding an early knockout by Republicans.

Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana waited until Saturday to say they would vote yes for a floor debate. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced Friday his support for moving the bill forward.

All three cautioned that their votes to start debate should not be construed a support for the bill in its current form.

“It is a vote to move forward to continue the good and essential and important and imperative work that is under way,” Landrieu said on the Senate floor. “I’ve decided that there’s enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward but more work needs to be done.”

Lincoln said she still would support a filibuster if the so-called “public option,” a government-run insurance plan, remains in the health care bill.

“I along with others expect to have legitimate opportunities to influence the health care reform legislation that is voted on by the Senate later this year or early next year,” she said.

While the vote is only a procedural one, Republicans haven’t backed down.

“This is a vote about whether or not you want to fundamentally change the way health care is delivered in this country in a way which massively expands the size of government, the role of government and significantly increases the tax burden, especially for small businesses and cuts Medicare by a dramatic amount of money,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., told Fox News before Saturday’s session began.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill “monstrous” and, citing the Congressional Budget Office, said it would not bring down costs.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, now Harry Reid’s passing out taxpayer funded bribes to jam this health care travesty through.

Sen. Landrieu flaunts purchased vote: “It’s not $100 million; it’s $300 million!”

Facing fallout from an apparent sale of her health care vote to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Caucus, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) took a shocking approach in response to the payoff allegations: she flaunted it!

To help secure her vote, Reid included a provision in the bill sought by Landrieu to provide increased Medicaid funds for states recovering from major disasters such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. When the bill is closely examined, however, the provision provides immense financial support for only one state: Landrieu’s Louisiana.

Landrieu defended the inclusion of the provision and said Republican critics who accuse her of selling her vote for $100 million are wrong and that she has the support of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Then, in a statement sure to be repeated by Republicans endlessly over the coming weeks of Senate health care debate, the senator flaunted the inclusion of the provision. “I will correct something. It’s not $100 million, it’s $300 million, and I’m proud of it and will keep fighting for it,” Landrieu told reporters after her floor speech. “But that is not why I started this health care debate; I started this health care debate for all the reasons I just mentioned in my statement” on the floor.

The apparent purchase of the senator’s vote is already garnering significant response from Republicans as well as taxpayers footing the bill for this provision. The nickname for the provision? “The Louisiana Purchase.”

Unreal, this is just out of control. Never in U.S. legislative history have so many been screwed by so few, at such a high cost.

See also:
Historic health care bill clears Senate hurdle
Senate Health Care Reform Bill Vote, 60-39 Brings Reform Bill to the Floor
Healthcare bill advances in Senate, in 60-39 vote; it got ‘failing grade’ from healthcare experts
Biden says Senate handed Obama a big victory
Senator Corker Reacts to Senate Health Care Vote
Senate moves health care bill forward for debate
FACTBOX: Details of Senate healthcare reform bill
Landrieu votes in favor of health care debate
GOP hits Landrieu for $100 million ‘new Louisiana Purchase’
Thanks to100 million dollar bribe, Healthcare reform cloture passes Senate!

/trillions of taxpayer dollars, added to the national debt, so we can all pay more, to wait longer, for less health care, whee!

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