U.K.: Where reading can send you to jail
Under the U.K. Terrorism Act, having any material deemed “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” is a crime.
By: Corinne Purtill Global Post, Published on Mon May 20 2013
LONDON—In the deepening investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings, federal officials have reportedly found copies of the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire and other extremist materials on a computer belonging to Katherine Russell, the widow of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
If these reports are true, and if this case took place in the U.K., no other evidence would be needed to arrest and prosecute Russell, 24.
Simply having a copy of Inspire — or any other material deemed “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” — is a crime here.
Under Section 58 of the U.K.’s Terrorism Act, a 2000 law granting sweeping powers to law enforcement, it is a criminal offence to download, copy or otherwise possess Inspire. Same goes for bomb-making instructions, extremist speeches or any number of materials that in the United States are protected under the First Amendment.
No other evidence of terrorist activity, or intention to engage in it, is necessary to prosecute under the U.K. statute, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
“You don’t have to necessarily be planning any terrorist activity to be prosecuted under that bit of legislation, if you are possessing those type of materials,” a Scotland Yard spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
The law makes an exception for individuals who can demonstrate a “reasonable excuse” for accessing the material, such as academics or investigators. It is a narrow exemption, however, and does not automatically cover those reading the materials for research or educational purposes.
“We wouldn’t say just because you were doing it for journalistic purposes you would be immune,” the Scotland Yard spokesman said.
Launched in 2010, Inspire is an English-language online magazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It has the earnest stock-art images and slightly off-kilter layouts of a doctor’s office newsletter. But it features articles like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” and “Open Source Jihad: Sending and Receiving Encrypted Messages.”
The magazine’s second issue carried an op-ed by U.S. citizen Samir Khan, 24, in which he wrote that he was “proud to be a traitor to America.” Khan, whom U.S. government officials have named as the editor of Inspire, was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen in 2011, along with the radical cleric and Inspire backer Anwar al Awlaki.
Copies of Inspire and other extremist texts, speeches and images have surfaced in the confiscated property of terror suspects in the United States and the United Kingdom. There are no firm figures on exactly how many people have been arrested and tried under the law since 2000. In most cases, Section 58 charges are bundled along with other terror or criminal offences, said lawyer Simon McKay, who has advised the U.K. government on terror cases.
Yet there have been several recent cases of people charged solely for possession of terror-related documents.
In April, a former Hackney council employee named Khalid Javed Baqa, 48, was jailed for two years after being found with several hundred copies of CDs containing “extreme ideology and material relating to violent jihad,” according to the Metropolitan Police.
Niall Florence, 21, received a suspended 18-month jail sentence in February after he was found with copies of the weapon-making manual The Anarchist’s Cookbook, a jihadi training manual and instructions for making the poison ricin. Judge Adrian Fulford said he was satisfied the “young and naive computer addict” was not a terrorist.
And in December, a 22-year-old accountant named Ruksana Begum received a 12-month sentence after police discovered a memory stick containing two editions of Inspire in her purse. Begum’s brothers were convicted in a 2010 plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. Her husband was arrested in 2012 and charged with travelling to Pakistan to obtain terrorist training.
Begum pleaded guilty to the possession charge. She told the judge that she accessed the magazine to understand what had drawn her brothers to extremism, an explanation the judge accepted.
“There is no evidence that she was motivated by their ideology or was preparing to follow them,” said Fulford at her sentencing, adding that Begum was “of good behaviour and a good Muslim.”
The U.K. approach to such documents is radically different from the U.S. approach.
“In the United States, not only is possession of Inspire magazine constitutionally protected, but writing something like Inspire magazine is constitutionally protected,” said Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.
If such material isn’t found to be a direct incitement to violence, and the owner isn’t co-ordinating with a terrorist organization, then it’s protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The U.K. approach “invests so much authority in the government,” Wizner said.
“We’re always very skeptical of government line-drawing, because it’s never enforced in the way that people would like it to be,” Wizner said.
The U.K. is seeking to further its powers of internet surveillance. A draft bill — known in the media here as the “snooper’s charter” — would allow the government to track all email, internet and text use in the country.
The bill died in Parliament last year, though mentions of Internet security in the recent Queen’s Speech indicate the government may revisit the issue.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon May 20, 2013 11:01 am
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Michael F. Cannon
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Gold Is Money: Central Bank Actions Send Investors a Clear Message
By The Daily Reckoning | 02/14/13 3
Germany recently made big news by announcing its plan to bring home part of its massive gold reserves. By retrieving 300 tons from New York and all 374 tons from Paris, 19% of its holdings – $36 billion worth – will be repatriated. By 2020, Deutsche Bundesbank expects to have 50% of its gold reserves stored in its Frankfurt vaults.
While Germany’s announcement is no longer front-page news, it is important to consider the reasons behind this move, and the message being sent to investors by central banks around the globe – gold is money. So fasten your seatbelt, this around-the-world tour is about to begin.
The reason given by the German central bank for its recently announced repatriation plan was to “build trust and confidence domestically, and the ability to exchange gold for foreign currencies at gold-trading centers abroad within a short space of time.” Keeping reserves in London and New York – both international markets with great liquidity – affords Germany the ability to complete transactions quickly. Furthermore, Bundesbank has made it clear that this is not to be taken as a sign that it will be selling gold. Quite the opposite, as it also stated that this move is a “pre-emptive” measure “in case of a currency crisis.”
You’ll likely recall Hugo Chávez’s repatriation of Venezuelan gold in late 2011 – a decision that was widely believed to be motivated by fears of US sanctions and frozen assets. Chávez, however, said the move was to “safeguard against volatility in financial markets.” Admittedly, Chávez’s decision did not hold the same weight as Germany’s in the eyes of the world. Germany is an ally of the US, after all. However, having repatriated his gold just months before Europe’s debt crisis took hold, it’s hard to dismiss the foresight demonstrated by the 15th-largest gold holder in the world.
Russia, with the eighth-largest holding of gold in the world – almost 938 tonnes (over $50 billion) – has been increasing its gold holdings hand over fist in recent years. In 2012, its gold reserves increased a hair shy of 55 tonnes, more than 6%. The reason given, according to Reuters, is “to diversify its foreign reserves away from paper assets it views as risky.”
In 2011, an alarm was raised as many realized that more than half of the Swiss national gold had been sold off. This gave rise to the “Gold Initiative: A Swiss Initiative to Secure the Swiss National Bank’s Gold Reserves.” Launched by four members of the Swiss parliament, the goal of the initiative is clearly identified in the name; to keep gold reserves secure through three requirements.
1. The gold of the Swiss National Bank must be stored physically in Switzerland.
2. The Swiss National Bank does not have the right to sell its gold reserves.
3. The Swiss National Bank must hold at least twenty percent (20%) of its total assets in gold.
Two of the main reasons given for desiring to secure these reserves are: “the United States Federal Reserve and the European Union (with the European Central Bank ECB) are in the process of a de facto devaluation of their respective currencies, by printing tremendous amounts of Dollars and Euros”; and “These actions strongly affect the Swiss National Bank, as the Swiss franc runs the risk of being devaluated as well.” As is stated clearly, “The greater the risk, the more important it is to maintain a sufficient gold stockpile!”
Of the Netherlands’ 612.5 tonnes of gold, only about 11% is in Dutch vaults. Over half is in New York, with the rest divided between London and Ottawa. While recently the Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal Party has made an official appeal to repatriate Netherlands’ gold reserves, interestingly, this is nothing new. In January, 2012, Willem Middelkoop warned that “The Netherlands should repatriate its gold as soon as possible.”
While the World Gold Council reports China as owning just over 1,054 tonnes of gold, it’s a well-known fact that the Asian powerhouse is very secretive about its true holdings until it sees an advantage in reporting. Even then, speculation abounds as to the verity of its claims. Some have estimated that, in light of the 1,054 tonnes being reported in 2009, by the end of 2013 China may hold as much as 4,000 tonnes of the yellow metal. Even if this is true, it would still only represent approximately 8% of its total reserves. However, the gold market could react quite strongly if China announces reserves anywhere near these levels.
As the world’s largest gold producer for the past six years, China is perfectly capable of building reserves under the radar. Furthermore, due to its secrecy regarding its holdings, don’t hold your breath waiting to find out how much gold it’s holding. It seems somewhat incongruous that, unlike most central banks, the People’s Bank of China encourages citizens to buy precious metals and pursues means of making them readily available. In light of gold’s value as a hedge against currency devaluation, one can’t help but wonder why.
Boasting the first known coin – the slater of Lydia (6th century BC) – Turkey has a rich and ancient relationship with precious metals. A great deal of speculation abounds regarding how much silver and gold the people have stashed as personal reserves. Turkey’s central bank has launched an all-out campaign to persuade citizens to deposit these hoards in their vaults. This is the result of two changes in the banking system. The first was that gold’s monetary stability was recognized more fully when banks were allowed to increase their gold reserves from 10% to 30%. Second, as of the fall of 2011, banks were also allowed to include any gold deposited by customers as part of their reserves.
While it’s entirely possible you’ve not read about Azerbaijan in the headlines recently, it’s interesting to note that the largest of the Caucasus states bought almost 15 tonnes of gold last year as part of a two-year goal to acquire 30 tonnes for its reserves. Recently it’s begun taking delivery of the gold, formerly stored in JP Morgan’s London vaults, moving it to Central Bank of Azerbaijan vaults in Baku.
An Old Relationship Renewed
It’s quite evident that the relationship between the world’s central banks and gold has been changing in recent years. Just fifteen years ago, many were selling gold reserves at rock-bottom prices, seeing no real value in maintaining such vast quantities in their reserves. Today these same countries are facing public outcry as the citizenry realizes, albeit too late, that the real sovereign wealth of their nation has been squandered by myopic monetary policies. Other central banks are aggressively increasing their gold reserves.
You, the Investor
As investors, we should take note. After a couple decades of shunning gold as a useless relic, banks are refixing their sights on the yellow metal for many reasons. Central to these is the reality that gold represents the world’s true money. Whether we’re attempting to diversify our portfolios or hedge against inflationary fiscal policy, true money is one of the few tangible monetary investments backed up by its own intrinsic value.
Devaluation of fiat currencies highlights the importance of maintaining a sufficient gold stockpile Central banks are embracing policies of anywhere from 5% to 90% gold reserves. Carefully consider their reasons, and whether you are sufficiently diversified.
J. Keith Johnson
Read more: Gold Is Money: Central Bank Actions Send Investors a Clear Message http://dailyreckoning.com/gold-is-money … z2LB4er9hl
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:15 am
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Leeb – Supply Crunch To Send Silver Into The Stratosphere
Today acclaimed money manager Stephen Leeb told King World News, “… it will be very difficult going forward to acquire large amounts of silver.” Leeb, who is Chairman of Leeb Capital Management, also said that because of this, “… the price of silver is literally going into the stratosphere.”
Here is what Leeb had to say: “This is going to be very important for the silver market going forward, Eric. As an example, photovoltaics is a tremendous way to generate electricity from the sun, but it uses a large amount of silver. The major difference between photovoltaics and other ways of generating energy from the sun, is that the other methods require a great deal of water.”
“One of the methods being used to garner energy from the sun requires six to seven times more water than nuclear, and nuclear already requires tremendous amounts of water. The point I am trying to make is that photovoltaics requires a bare minimum of water and in some cases no water.
Water, which is becoming much more of a concern in today’s world, is going to be critical going forward in terms of supplies….
“Also, if you look at fracking, you are not going to be doing fracking unless you have a lot of water. And you are not going to be running a lot of nuclear power unless you have a lot of water. So water becomes a key constraint.
So the fact that photovoltaics doesn’t use any water is utterly critical. If we are going to build out infrastructure, and use the sun as a major producer of electricity, you have to put photovoltaics at the top of that list. In fact, the growth rate of photovoltaics has been exponential over the past few years.
The growth of this industry strongly suggests that silver is going to play a critical role, and a much larger role than previously assumed in the whole energy equation. I’m talking about silver as an industrial metal. The problem going forward is how to connect the dots between how much silver we produce and how much we are going to need for energy and electricity production, particularly in China.
So silver has two drivers going forward. One is the monetary aspect because silver is money. But the other is the industrial component, and the demand for silver to cultivate energy is going to skyrocket. Later on, people will not believe you could buy silver in the $20s. It’s a gift right now at $29.
I think it will be very difficult going forward to acquire large amounts of physical silver. Countries will have a very hard time picking up the necessary silver they will need for all of the demands. When you couple in the investment boom, that is still in front of us, that means the price of silver is literally going into the stratosphere.
The Chinese know this and that is why they are buying so much physical silver, as well as gold. I have said to many times that we are going to have a mania in the junior mining shares, but we are also going to have a mania in the price of physical silver.”
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:36 pm
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Dryness concerns send wheat price soaring 6%
Wheat prices soared 6% in Chicago to their highest since September, and in Paris to its highest for nearly a year, amid continued concerns over the dry weather threatening a range of producing countries.
Chicago’s July wheat contract came within 3 cents of regaining $7 a bushel before easing to end at $6.95 ¼, up 5.7% on the day and 17% for the week, its strongest weekly gain since the 1990s.
Kansas hard red winter wheat soared 4.8%, while Minneapolis spring wheat closed up 3.2%.
In Paris, the benchmark November contact closed 4.0% higher at E215.25 a tonne, the contract’s highest close since June, while London wheat gained 3.3% to £158.80 a tonne.
The rises came amid continued concerns for crops in major producing countries facing a lack of rain.
Wheat prices of close on Friday
Chicago: $6.95 ¼ a bushel, +5.7%
Kansas: $7.05 a bushel, +4.9%
Paris: E215.25 a tonne, +4.0%
Minneapolis: $7.92 a bushel, +3.2%
London: £158.80 +3.3%
Prices for July contract on US exchanges, and November lot in Europe
US Commodities, saying it was "mildly concerned", clocked fears dryness in the US southern Plains, Europe, Russia, and northern China, along with parts of the north west US Corn Belt and Canadian Prairies".
The broker added: "Remember it was the hot and dry weather in 2010 that eventually caused the worst drought in 100 years in Russia and the start of the two-year bull market [in grains].
In Russia, Alexander Tkachev, regional governor for the southern Russian region of Krasnodar, has estimated that the dryness may cut dryness by 27%.
‘Little opportunity for relief’
In the US, while major winter wheat production losses to dry weather look unlikely so late in the season, with harvest already under way in southern areas, the dryness has scotched hopes of near-record yields.
In Oklahoma , Jeff Edwards wheat specialist at Oklahoma State University Extension, estimated the state’s average yield coming in at 36 bushels an acre, compared with a figure above 40 bushels an acre it would have achieved with more benign late conditions.
And forecasts show that crops yet to be harvested look unlikely to receive rain refreshment
"Little opportunity for relief is offered to the southern Plains and southern portions of the Midwest for the next week to 10 days," Benson Quinn Commodities said.
"Rain events are expected to be confined to northern regions of the US."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri May 18, 2012 9:05 pm
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Huge corn deal, US frost send grain prices soaring
Ag futures soared – with soybeans prices returning back over $15 a bushel for the first time in nearly four years and corn and wheat futures soaring more than 3% – after a flourish of importer orders and a hard frost dents hopes for US supplies.
Chicago soybeans for May hit $15.09 a bushel at one point, the highest for a spot contract since July 2008, before losing ground in later deals.
Corn for May rose 5%, recovering its losses of the past two weeks, while wheat gained nearly 3%.
The rally followed the US Department of Agriculture’s unveiling export orders for US corn of 1.56m tonnes – the biggest one-day sales in 20 years.
‘Certainly looks like China’
While most was booked to "unknown destinations", the corn was presumed by investors as sold to China, which booked a confirmed order of 120,000 tonnes, and took to 2.8m tonnes US corn sales revealed this week through its daily alert system, which applies to larger orders.
Friday’s closing oilseed, grain prices
Chicago corn, May: $6.53 a bushel, +5.0%
Chicago corn, July: $6.25 ½ a bushel, +3.0%
Chicago wheat, May: $6.42 ¼ a bushel, +2.6%
Paris wheat: May: E213.75 a tonne, +1.3%
Chicago soybeans, May: $14.96 ¾ a bushel, +1.1%
London wheat: May: £178.50 a tonne, +0.6%
Chicago has continued to echo to rumours this week of corn sales of some 2m tonnes to China, the world’s second-ranked corn user, whose growing demand for the grain, largely to feed its pig herd and meet growing demand for pork, has tested its historic self-sufficiency.
"It certainly looks like China, and that’s the way the market is taking it," Jerry Gidel, feed grains analyst at broker Rice Dairy, said.
At Country Futures, Darrell Holaday said: "The buying from China has been a shot in the arm for the corn market," noting in particular the jump in the close-to-expiry May contract, which gained nearly $0.13 a bushel on the day over the July lot.
Typically, the July contract would hold the premium over the nearer-term contract.
"The short squeeze in the May corn contract has become one of the most dramatic inverses in history," Mr Holaday said.
Rival broker US Commodities noted that corn prices on China’s Dalian exchange closed overnight "near record highs", and at the equivalent of more than $9.60 a bushel, with soybeans priced above $19.20 a bushel.
Indeed, the USDA also confirmed export orders of 216,000 tonnes of soybeans, half to China – the day after releasing weekly sales figures which, at 1.4m tonnes, trounced market expectations and stoked expectations of an upgrade to trade forecasts.
Friday’s sales were actually for soybeans from this year’s harvest, taking total commitments for 2012-13 so far to 8m tonnes, four months before the marketing year even begins, and before most of the crop has been sown.
Indeed, the level of advance orders is a record at this stage, and equivalent to roughly 20-25% of what the US might expect to ship during the season.
The appetite for importers to book so far ahead reflects a disappointing South American harvest, which is continuing to attract downgrades following frost in Argentina, which has further damaged unharvested crops tested already by drought.
Frost has also hit parts of the US, representing a serious threat to winter wheat crops which, thanks to an unusually warm start to spring, have developed some two weeks ahead of schedule.
"A hard freeze developed overnight in key Midwest wheat states – Ohio, Michigan and Indiana," Gail Martell, at Martell Crop Projections, said, noting that 19% of wheat in Indiana had reached the headed stage of development.
Rice Dairy’s Mr Gidel said: "When wheat gets to the jointing stage it needs some four hours at 28 degrees Fahrenheit or less to damage it. When it is headed, it just needs about 30 Fahrenheit for a couple of hours."
Ohio, Michigan and Indiana between them produce some 30% of soft red winter wheat, the type traded in Chicago, and areas further south growing hard red winter wheat, as traded in Kansas, may be hit by the next wave of frost this evening.
Ms Martell said: "Temperatures may fall into the low or mid 30s Fahrenheit tonight in north west and west-central Kansas," adding that "adjacent wheat areas in Colorado and western Nebraska also may be subject to frost", if not as severe a freeze as that which hit the Midwest states last night.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:30 pm
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