Breivik just won part of a human-rights case against the government

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Business Insider

Breivik, a Norwegian mass murderer has won part of a human-rights case against the government.

The right-wing extremist who was responsible for the deaths of 77 people in Norway in July 2011, sued the Norwegian government after his arrest and imprisonment for having violated his human rights.

An Oslo district court has now ruled that the Norwegian government did indeed violate Breivik’s rights as they breached an article prohibiting degrading treatment of prisoners under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ruling cited that authorities did not give enough attention to Breivik’s mental health when determining his conditions in prison. The court also ordered the Norwegian government to pay Breivik’s legal costs of $41,000 (331,000 kroner).

During his 2011 killing spree, Breivik detonated a bomb in Oslo and then went on a shooting spree on a nearby island in which dozens of teenagers at a camp were killed.

Breivik claimed during his initial trail in 2012 that he was “a military commander in the Norwegian resistance movement and Knights Templar Norway.”

His attacks were aimed at stopping the spread of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration into the country.

skienReutersGeneral view of a cell inside Skien prison, south of Oslo, February 12, 2016.

After his initial trial in 2011, Breivik has been held in isolation in a luxurious prison cell.

According to Agence France Presse, Breivik’s cell has three rooms, “one for living, one for studying, and a third for physical exercise — as well as a television, a computer without internet access and a game console. He is able to prepare his own food and do his own laundry.”

However, Breivik and his lawyer are suing Norway, claiming the state has violated two clauses of the European Convention on Human Rights, thus violating his human rights in prison.

skienReutersGeneral view of the gym at Skien prison, south of Oslo, February 12, 2016.

Breivik maintains that Oslo’s treatment of him violates the clauses against “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” and also the clauses guaranteeing prisoners the right to respect for “private and family life” and “correspondence,” AFP notes.

A Norwegian court supported Breivik’s case of suffering under “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” but the court dismissed his claim or having his right to see and correspond with his family as having been violated.

As Fusion notes, his complaints stemmed from the fact that Breivik is essentially being kept in isolation. His cell is set off from the rest of the prison complex, isolating him from the other prisoners. He also infrequently has guests, causing his main human interaction to be with his guards. His mail is also censored.

This isolation has apparently taken a psychological toll on him, Breivik’s lawyer told AFP.

Breivik has previously stated that he has been forced to strip 880 times in total while a prisoner, Reuters reports.

skienReutersGeneral view of a cell inside Skien prison, south of Oslo, February 12, 2016.

However, Breivik has had a history of complaining about his life in prison. As The New Yorkerreported in 2015, Breivik has complained about everything in prison, ranging from how his room had a PlayStation 2 instead of a PlayStation 3 and the quality of the rubber pen he is allowed to write with in his cell.

Breivik’s complaints, including his near complete isolation, would be hard to square with the American view of prisons. Prisons in Norway are nearly unimaginably luxurious, with the aim being rehabilitation instead of penalization. The prisons include vocational classes, video-game consoles, well-prepared kitchens, and in some cases even recording studios with instruments.

Many of these luxuries are unavailable to Breivik, however. Still, he is currently serving only a 21-year sentence for his crime, which is the maximum sentence under Norway’s penal system.

In 2033, at the end of his sentence, Breivik will be evaluated to see if rehabilitation has been successful. If it is judged to have not been, his sentence can be extended for five-year increments indefinitely.

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Tempi: Solidarity with Armenians needed to impede war

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NEWS.am

Voices of solidarity with Armenians are needed – not to win the war but to impede it, the article in the Italian Tempi newspaper reads.

“In the night from April 1 to 2, the Azerbaijani attack was launched, with bombardments, tanks and occupation of villages. The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh showed resistance. An unstable truce has been established currently. But the Azeris, who have returned from ISIL detachments in Syria, are unlikely to withdraw from their “craft”.

The war makers can be named differently: irredentists, supporters of independence or reconquest supporters. Each of the two sides can call out for their help the principles of international law. People and army of a Christian nation stand on one side, that of the Muslim one standing on another.

We can’t allow the situation to remain uncontrolled:  there is a big difference in the military potential in favor of Azerbaijan. Besides, it’s known – including from the Russian sources – that the fighters have returned from the Syrian Raqqah, having been joined by the Turkish Grey Wolves fighters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated: “We pray our Azerbaijani brothers will prevail in these clashes with the least casualties. We will support Azerbaijan till the end”.

Does “till the end” mean till the final solution of the Armenian cause? Weren’t half million Armenian victims enough?

There are 3.5 million Armenians in Armenia now, 10 million of them being in the entire world (30,000 Armenians in Italy, nearly equal to the number of Jews residing in the country). They are the successors of the extermination survivors. There are about 150,000 of them in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Every time the solution to the conflict seems close, something happens. The hand of Turkey is felt behind this, which wants to dispute the current world order, feeling upsides with Russia.

The problem of Azerbaijani refugees remains, which the Baku government – rich with oil and natural resources – constantly keeps unresolved, almost the way the Arabs used and continue using the Palestinians against Israel.

Meanwhile search for a solution is underway, it’s important to hear voices of solidarity with our brothers by civilization and culture, the Armenians. Not to win the war, but to impede it”.

Japan earthquake: tens of thousands flee in fear of aftershocks and volcanoes

The Guardian

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from earthquake-hit southern Japan as dozens of aftershocks struck and officials monitored nearby volcanoes for signs of activity.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has warned there are likely to be strong aftershocks for the next week and advised people to stay away from any buildings that look unstable.

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There are also concerns about volcanic activity in the wake of the quake. The island of Kyushu, where the earthquake happened, is a highly volcanic area. A level 2 warning – meaning people should not approach a volcano’s crater – has been in place for Asosan in Kumamoto prefecture on the island since November 2015.

Rescuers dramatically pulled an eight-month old baby girl from a collapsed house in Mashiki early on Friday. Video footage provided by the National Police Agency showed the baby gently carried away in a blanket by helmeted rescuers from the rubble of the home.

The girl whose name has not been released, reportedly did not suffer any injuries. Her mother, grandfather, grandmother, and older brother were in the living room and kitchen of the home as she slept in another room on the first floor when the quake shook the southern island of Kyushu.

The family members, who all managed to escape, tried to rescue the baby but the house collapsed.

A baby is carried away by rescue workers in Mashiki town.
A baby is carried away by rescue workers in Mashiki town. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

The town, in Kumamoto prefecture, was the hardest hit by the quake and suffered eight of the nine deaths.

Head teacher Sosuke Tanaka hosted about 300 people at West Hiroyasu elementary school, which was turned into an evacuation centre, and said many in Kumamoto suffered a sleepless night. “We saw earthquakes through the evening, so many did not manage to get a proper night’s rest,” he said. About 120 aftershocks have been observed since the initial earthquake, more than 15 of which measured 3 or higher on the Japanese intensity scale.

A local resident rests with a pet dog at an evacuation center after an earthquake in Mashiki town.
A local resident rests with a pet dog at an evacuation centre after an earthquake in Mashiki town. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

At the Mashiki gymnastics centre, Yoko Marume said more and more people have been evacuating since the earthquake. “We had about 200 overnight, but now, I would say there are about 500,” she told the Guardian. “People have been gathering here from across the city, it’s a big space. Most are shaken, many believe that their houses could fall down.”

Junko Seto, an 80-year-old woman, told the Asahi Shimbun: “My husband returned to our house to see how things looked, and he says there isn’t room to stand because of the mess caused.”

“I want to go home and get things in order, but with the aftershocks I am too scared to go home yet.”

Japan’s Self Defense Forces have entered Hiroyasu, in a mountainous region of Kumamoto prefecture, to inspect the damage caused to roads and housing by the earthquake. “There has been significant damage to wooden housing around here,” Tanaka told the Guardian.

The stonewall of Kumamoto Castle is damaged by a magnitude-6.5 earthquake in Kumamoto city.
The stonewall of Kumamoto Castle is damaged by a magnitude-6.5 earthquake in Kumamoto city. Photograph: Yusuke Ogata/AP

Rations of bread and water were distributed to evacuees in the early hours of Friday. Marume said lunch boxes had arrived for evacuees at the gymnastics centre.

The initial temblor measured a maximum 7 on the Japanese intensity scale, equivalent to the force of the 1995 Kobe disaster and the March 11, 2011, earthquake in east Japan. So far, however, the damage caused in Kyushu seems low in comparison.

A spokeswoman for the JMA said: “We are watching closely, but we have seen no change in Asosan or other volcanoes since the earthquake.”

Sakurajima, in neighbouring Kagoshima prefecture, erupted in February.

Armenia FM: Karabakh will never be part of Azerbaijan

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News.am

YEREVAN. – Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian has clarified which document is currently on the bargaining table of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.

In an interview with the Public Television of Armenia, the FM noted that the working documents are considered those which have been subject to consideration by the sides. The documents, which it hasn’t been possible to reach progress on, are deposited with the OSCE Headquarters in Vienna.

“The document which hasn’t yet been deposited is the Kazanian one. All the other comments are superfluous,” the FM noted.

In his words, there are different ideas, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: the most important thing is that Karabakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. This idea stands out in all the documents, the FM stressed.

Responding to the question on the appropriateness to continue the talks when one of the parties tries to turn them into a farce, Nalbandian recalled that the entire international community urges to return to the bargaining table. “Neither the war, nor military actions can solve this issue. The history shows that after wars the parties return to bargaining table, sometimes having deteriorated their positions. I think nobody needs a new war. It’s necessary to find a way to settlement through talks,” the FM noted.

Man accidentally ‘deletes his entire company’ with one line of bad code

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Ok, this IS weird AND dangerous. Remembers me of Y2K and all that stuff which took our crap for a few months back in 1999. We depend more and more on networks, data storage and computers. What if a bad code destroyed not only one company, but all the datas in the Cloud, blocking banks and other essential services? Would it be possible, or not?

The Independent

A man appears to have deleted his entire company with one mistaken piece of code.

By accidentally telling his computer to delete everything in his servers, hosting provider Marco Marsala has seemingly removed all trace of his company and the websites that he looks after for his customers.

Mr Marsala wrote on a forum for server experts called Server Faultthat he was now stuck after having accidentally run destructive code on his own computers. But far from advising them how to fix it, most experts informed him that he had just accidentally deleted the data of his company and its clients, and in so doing had probably destroyed his entire company with just one line of code.

The problem command was “rm -rf”: a basic piece of code that will delete everything it is told to. The “rm” tells the computer to remove; the r deletes everything within a given directory; and the f stands for “force”, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files.

Together, the code deleted everything on the computer, including Mr Masarla’s customers’ websites, he wrote. Mr Masarla runs a web hosting company, which looks after the servers and internet connections on which the files for websites are stored.

That piece of code is so famously destructive that it has become a joke within some computing circles.

Normally, that code would wipe out all of the specific parts of the computer that it was pointed at. But because of an error in the way it was written, the code didn’t actually specify anywhere – and so removed everything on the computer.

“I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers,” wrote Marco Marsala. “Last night I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line.”

Mr Marsala confirmed that the code had even deleted all of the backups that he had taken in case of catastrophe. Because the drives that were backing up the computers were mounted to it, the computer managed to wipe all of those, too.

“All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script).”

Most users agreed that it was unlikely that Mr Marsala would be able to recover any of the data. And as a result his company was almost certainly not going to recover, either.

“I feel sorry to say that your company is now essentially dead,” wrote a user called Sven. “You might have an extremely slim chance to recover from this if you turn off everything right now and hand your disks over to a reputable data recovery company.

“This will be extremely expensive and still extremely unlikely to really rescue you, and it will take a lot of time.”

Others agreed that perhaps Mr Marsala was on the wrong forum.

“You’re going out of business,” wrote Michael Hampton. “You don’t need technical advice, you need to call your lawyer.”

Many of the responses to Mr Marsala’s problem weren’t especially helpful – pointing out that he could have taken steps to stop it happening before it did.

“Well, you should have been thinking about how to protect your customers’ data before nuking them,” wrote one person calling himself Massimo. “I won’t even begin enumerating how many errors are simultaneously required in order to be able to completely erase all your servers and all your backups in a single strike.

“This is not bad luck: it’s astonishingly bad design reinforced by complete carelessness.”

Mr Marsala’s problem is far from the first time that someone has accidentally destroyed their own system by missing a mistake. Indeed, responses to his post mostly referenced a similar thread posted two years ago, with the headline “Monday morning mistake”.

That error saw someone accidentally lose access to their entire server, after they didn’t notice a stray space in the code.

This week’s best financial advice

“Where is the most efficient place to stash that three to nine months of living expenses” you are supposed to have socked away? asked Kathleen Elkins at Business Insider. With savings, checking, and money market accounts yielding next to nothing, some advisers suggest moving your emergency savings to a short-term bond fund. The top short-term bond funds have 10-year annualized returns of 1.7 percent to 3.6 percent, according to Investopedia, compared with the 0.01 percent yields from savings accounts at most big banks. And unlike with some other investments, “you can withdraw your funds instantly.” Short-term bond funds are only “slightly riskier” than traditional savings accounts, but if you’re worried about price fluctuations, a money market fund is a good alternative.

When the IRS comes calling
Don’t panic if you can’t pay your tax bill in full come April 15, said Caitlin Kelly at Reuters. Your best option for staying on the right side of the Internal Revenue Service is to pay as much as possible by the deadline. In about six weeks, the IRS will send a letter explaining that you only paid part of your bill. “If you have the balance by then, write the check. If you do not have the balance, send as much as you can.” If you owe less than $25,000 at this point, it’s possible to sign up for a payment plan that will give you up to 60 months to repay, using Form 9465. In addition to a $120 sign-up fee, the IRS will levy a fee of 0.5 percent interest per month on the balance until it is settled.

New love for reverse mortgage
“Reverse mortgages have earned a bad rep, thanks to smarmy TV ads and fears that borrowers could easily lose their home to the bank,” said Pat Mertz Esswein at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. But new federal rules that reduce the risks for borrowers have financial advisers giving such loans a second look as a way to help make other retirement resources last. Reverse mortgages, officially known as home equity conversion mortgages, allow homeowners who are at least 62 years old to covert their home’s equity into a lump sum or a line of credit without having to make a monthly mortgage payment. Borrowers are now required to undergo a financial assessment to ensure that they have enough money to pay ongoing costs, such as mortgage insurance and upkeep. Before the rules changed, as many as 10 percent of these loans went into default.

Economic Collapse Is Erupting All Over The Planet As Global Leaders Begin To Panic

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by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse

Mainstream news outlets are already starting to use the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is going on in some areas of our world right now.  For many Americans this may seem a bit strange, but the truth is that the worldwide economic slowdown that began during the second half of last year is starting to get a lot worse.  In this article, we are going to examine evidence of this from South America, Europe, Asia and North America.  Once we are done, it should be obvious that there is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about the direction of the global economy right now.  The warnings of so many prominent experts are now becoming a reality, and what we have witnessed so far are just the early chapters of a crushing economic crisis that will affect every man, woman and child in the entire world.

Let’s start with Brazil.  It has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet, and it is already enduring its worst recession in 25 years.  In fact, at the end of last year Goldman Sachs said that what was going on down there was actually a “depression“.

But now the crisis in Brazil has escalated significantly.

I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article entitled “Brazil: Economic collapse worse than feared“.  I know, that title sounds like it comes directly from The Economic Collapse Blog, but I didn’t write it.

It actually comes from CNN

Amid political chaos, Brazil’s economic collapse is worse than its government once believed.

In the midst of rising calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s central bank announced Thursday that it now expects the country’s economy to shrink 3.5% this year.

That’s worse than the central bank’s previous estimate for a 1.9% contraction. The darker forecast matches what the International Monetary Fund projected for Brazil — Latin America’s largest country — and what many independent economists have suspected.

It is one thing for Michael Snyder to tell you that Brazil is in the midst of “economic collapse”, but it is another thing entirely for CNN to say it.

And of course I have been warning about the crisis down in Brazil for quite some time now.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The Economic Collapse Of South America Is Well Underway“.

Meanwhile, things are actually much worse in Venezuela than they are in Brazil.  Food and basic supplies are in short supply, the inflation rate has hit 720 percent, and crime is completely out of control.

The following is from an article in the Independent entitled “Venezuela is on the brink of complete economic collapse“…

The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever.

Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

Once again we see a very respected mainstream publication using the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is happening in South America.

You can find some stunning video of the “economic Armageddon” that is taking place in Venezuela right here.  I would encourage you to watch that video, because what is happening down there will eventually be happening here.

Meanwhile, over in Europe the collapse of the Italian banking system has entered a disturbing new chapter.  Italy’s finance minister has called a meeting in Rome for Monday that will be focusing on a “last resort” bailout plan for the troubled banks…

Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan has called a meeting in Rome on Monday with executives from Italy’s largest financial institutions to agree final details of a “last resort” bailout plan.

Yet on the eve of that gathering, concerns remain as to whether the plan will be sufficient to ringfence the weakest of Italy’s large banks, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, from contagion, according to people involved in the talks.

Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360bn pile of non-performing loans — equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders’ profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession.

As Italy descends into financial chaos, the rest of the continent better be paying attention.

Do you remember how hard it was for the rest of Europe to rescue Greece?

Well, Greece has the 44th largest economy on the planet.

Italy has the 8th.

It would be hard to overstate the seriousness of what is going on over in Europe, and it is not just Italy we are talking about.  All over the continent major banks are in deep trouble, and the chairman of France’s second largestretail bank recently told reporters that “I am much more worried than I was in 2009“.

And there is very good reason for concern.  On Sunday, we learned that a major “bail-in” had just been announced for one of Austria’s most prominent banks.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

And then today, following a decision by the Austrian Banking Regulator, the Finanzmarktaufsicht or Financial Market Authority, Austria officially became the first European country to use a new law under the framework imposed by Bank the European Recovery and Resolution Directive to share losses of a failed bank with senior creditors as it slashed the value of debt owed by Heta Asset Resolution AG.

The highlights from the announcement:

Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) in its function as the resolution authority pursuant to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Act (BaSAG – Bundesgesetz über die Sanierung und Abwicklung von Banken) has issued the key features for the further steps for the resolution of HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG. The most significant measures are:

  • a 100% bail-in for all subordinated liabilities,
  • a 53.98% bail-in, resulting in a 46.02% quota, for all eligible preferential liabilities,
  • the cancellation of all interest payments from 01.03.2015, when HETA was placed into resolution pursuant to BaSAG,
  • as well as a harmonisation of the maturities of all eligible liabilities to 31.12.2023.

According to the current resolution plan for HETA, the wind-down process should be concluded by 2020, although the repayment of all claims as well as the legally binding conclusion of all currently outstanding legal disputes will realistically only be concluded by the end of 2023. Only at that point will it be possible to finally distribute the assets and to liquidate the company.

The dominoes are starting to fall in Europe, and I would expect even bigger announcements in the weeks and months to come.

Over in Asia, economic chaos is beginning to prevail as well.

In China, the stock market is already down more than 40 percent from the peak, Chinese exports were down 25.4 percent on a year over year basis in February, and Chinese economic numbers overall have not been this poor since the depths of the last global recession.

At the same time, the Japanese economy is really struggling right now.  As I wrote about the other day, Japanese GDP has shrunk for two out of the last three quarters, we just saw Japanese industrial production experience the biggest one month decline that we have witnessed since the tsunami of 2011, and business sentiment has fallen to a three year low.  The Nikkei has dropped by about 5,000 points from where it was last summer, and some analysts believe that Japanese markets “are being destroyed” due to massive intervention by the Bank of Japan.

Here in the United States, we haven’t been hit quite as hard as the rest of the world just yet, but there are lots of very disturbing warning signs all around us.

At the end of last week, we learned that it is being projected that U.S. GDP will have grown by just 0.1 or 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2016.  And on Monday corporate earnings reporting season begins, and it is expected to be a very, very bad one.  The following comes from Business Insider

We are about to get confirmation that earnings growth for America’s biggest companies was negative in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.

When aluminum giant Alcoa releases its results on Monday, it will mark the unofficial start of the heaviest reporting season for S&P 500 companies.

The final scoreboard is expected to show a 9.1% earnings drop for the quarter, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters.

If these projections turn out to be accurate, it will be the fourth quarter in a row of earnings declines.  This is something that we never see outside of a recession.

And for a whole bunch more numbers which indicate that the U.S. economy is in very serious trouble, please see my previous article entitled “19 Facts That Prove Things In America Are Worse Than They Were Six Months Ago“.

Of course I am just another voice in the crowd when it comes to predicting that the U.S. economy is headed for rough times.  For example, just check out what Societe Generale economist Albert Edwards is saying

A tidal wave is coming to the US economy, according to Albert Edwards, and when it crashes it’s going to throw the economy into recession.

…the profit recession facing American corporations is going to lead to a collapse in corporate credit.

“Despite risk assets enjoying a few weeks in the sun our fail-safe recession indicator has stopped flashing amber and turned to red”

He continued:

Whole economy profits never normally fall this deeply without a recession unfolding. And with the US corporate sector up to its eyes in debt, the one asset class to be avoided — even more so than the ridiculously overvalued equity market — is US corporate debt. The economy will surely be swept away by a tidal wave of corporate default.

As you can see, it isn’t just one nation or one region of the world that we need to be concerned about.

Economic chaos is erupting literally all over the planet, and global leaders are starting to panic.

Unfortunately, they have had seven years to try to fix things since the last global recession, and they didn’t get the job done.  Anyone that believes that by some miracle they will be able to pull us out of the fire this time and that everything will somehow be okay is simply engaged in wishful thinking.

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse

Mainstream news outlets are already starting to use the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is going on in some areas of our world right now.  For many Americans this may seem a bit strange, but the truth is that the worldwide economic slowdown that began during the second half of last year is starting to get a lot worse.  In this article, we are going to examine evidence of this from South America, Europe, Asia and North America.  Once we are done, it should be obvious that there is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about the direction of the global economy right now.  The warnings of so many prominent experts are now becoming a reality, and what we have witnessed so far are just the early chapters of a crushing economic crisis that will affect every man, woman and child in the entire world.

Let’s start with Brazil.  It has the 7th largest economy on the entire planet, and it is already enduring its worst recession in 25 years.  In fact, at the end of last year Goldman Sachs said that what was going on down there was actually a “depression“.

But now the crisis in Brazil has escalated significantly.

I want to share with you an excerpt from a recent article entitled “Brazil: Economic collapse worse than feared“.  I know, that title sounds like it comes directly from The Economic Collapse Blog, but I didn’t write it.

It actually comes from CNN

Amid political chaos, Brazil’s economic collapse is worse than its government once believed.

In the midst of rising calls to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s central bank announced Thursday that it now expects the country’s economy to shrink 3.5% this year.

That’s worse than the central bank’s previous estimate for a 1.9% contraction. The darker forecast matches what the International Monetary Fund projected for Brazil — Latin America’s largest country — and what many independent economists have suspected.

It is one thing for Michael Snyder to tell you that Brazil is in the midst of “economic collapse”, but it is another thing entirely for CNN to say it.

And of course I have been warning about the crisis down in Brazil for quite some time now.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The Economic Collapse Of South America Is Well Underway“.

Meanwhile, things are actually much worse in Venezuela than they are in Brazil.  Food and basic supplies are in short supply, the inflation rate has hit 720 percent, and crime is completely out of control.

The following is from an article in the Independent entitled “Venezuela is on the brink of complete economic collapse“…

The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever.

Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

Once again we see a very respected mainstream publication using the phrase “economic collapse” to describe what is happening in South America.

You can find some stunning video of the “economic Armageddon” that is taking place in Venezuela right here.  I would encourage you to watch that video, because what is happening down there will eventually be happening here.

Meanwhile, over in Europe the collapse of the Italian banking system has entered a disturbing new chapter.  Italy’s finance minister has called a meeting in Rome for Monday that will be focusing on a “last resort” bailout plan for the troubled banks…

Finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan has called a meeting in Rome on Monday with executives from Italy’s largest financial institutions to agree final details of a “last resort” bailout plan.

Yet on the eve of that gathering, concerns remain as to whether the plan will be sufficient to ringfence the weakest of Italy’s large banks, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, from contagion, according to people involved in the talks.

Italian bank shares have lost almost half their value so far this year amid investor worries over a €360bn pile of non-performing loans — equivalent to about a fifth of GDP. Lenders’ profitability has been hit by a crippling three-year recession.

As Italy descends into financial chaos, the rest of the continent better be paying attention.

Do you remember how hard it was for the rest of Europe to rescue Greece?

Well, Greece has the 44th largest economy on the planet.

Italy has the 8th.

It would be hard to overstate the seriousness of what is going on over in Europe, and it is not just Italy we are talking about.  All over the continent major banks are in deep trouble, and the chairman of France’s second largestretail bank recently told reporters that “I am much more worried than I was in 2009“.

And there is very good reason for concern.  On Sunday, we learned that a major “bail-in” had just been announced for one of Austria’s most prominent banks.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

And then today, following a decision by the Austrian Banking Regulator, the Finanzmarktaufsicht or Financial Market Authority, Austria officially became the first European country to use a new law under the framework imposed by Bank the European Recovery and Resolution Directive to share losses of a failed bank with senior creditors as it slashed the value of debt owed by Heta Asset Resolution AG.

The highlights from the announcement:

Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) in its function as the resolution authority pursuant to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Act (BaSAG – Bundesgesetz über die Sanierung und Abwicklung von Banken) has issued the key features for the further steps for the resolution of HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG. The most significant measures are:

  • a 100% bail-in for all subordinated liabilities,
  • a 53.98% bail-in, resulting in a 46.02% quota, for all eligible preferential liabilities,
  • the cancellation of all interest payments from 01.03.2015, when HETA was placed into resolution pursuant to BaSAG,
  • as well as a harmonisation of the maturities of all eligible liabilities to 31.12.2023.

According to the current resolution plan for HETA, the wind-down process should be concluded by 2020, although the repayment of all claims as well as the legally binding conclusion of all currently outstanding legal disputes will realistically only be concluded by the end of 2023. Only at that point will it be possible to finally distribute the assets and to liquidate the company.

The dominoes are starting to fall in Europe, and I would expect even bigger announcements in the weeks and months to come.

Over in Asia, economic chaos is beginning to prevail as well.

In China, the stock market is already down more than 40 percent from the peak, Chinese exports were down 25.4 percent on a year over year basis in February, and Chinese economic numbers overall have not been this poor since the depths of the last global recession.

At the same time, the Japanese economy is really struggling right now.  As I wrote about the other day, Japanese GDP has shrunk for two out of the last three quarters, we just saw Japanese industrial production experience the biggest one month decline that we have witnessed since the tsunami of 2011, and business sentiment has fallen to a three year low.  The Nikkei has dropped by about 5,000 points from where it was last summer, and some analysts believe that Japanese markets “are being destroyed” due to massive intervention by the Bank of Japan.

Here in the United States, we haven’t been hit quite as hard as the rest of the world just yet, but there are lots of very disturbing warning signs all around us.

At the end of last week, we learned that it is being projected that U.S. GDP will have grown by just 0.1 or 0.2 percent during the first quarter of 2016.  And on Monday corporate earnings reporting season begins, and it is expected to be a very, very bad one.  The following comes from Business Insider

We are about to get confirmation that earnings growth for America’s biggest companies was negative in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year ago.

When aluminum giant Alcoa releases its results on Monday, it will mark the unofficial start of the heaviest reporting season for S&P 500 companies.

The final scoreboard is expected to show a 9.1% earnings drop for the quarter, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters.

If these projections turn out to be accurate, it will be the fourth quarter in a row of earnings declines.  This is something that we never see outside of a recession.

And for a whole bunch more numbers which indicate that the U.S. economy is in very serious trouble, please see my previous article entitled “19 Facts That Prove Things In America Are Worse Than They Were Six Months Ago“.

Of course I am just another voice in the crowd when it comes to predicting that the U.S. economy is headed for rough times.  For example, just check out what Societe Generale economist Albert Edwards is saying

A tidal wave is coming to the US economy, according to Albert Edwards, and when it crashes it’s going to throw the economy into recession.

…the profit recession facing American corporations is going to lead to a collapse in corporate credit.

“Despite risk assets enjoying a few weeks in the sun our fail-safe recession indicator has stopped flashing amber and turned to red”

He continued:

Whole economy profits never normally fall this deeply without a recession unfolding. And with the US corporate sector up to its eyes in debt, the one asset class to be avoided — even more so than the ridiculously overvalued equity market — is US corporate debt. The economy will surely be swept away by a tidal wave of corporate default.

As you can see, it isn’t just one nation or one region of the world that we need to be concerned about.

Economic chaos is erupting literally all over the planet, and global leaders are starting to panic.

Unfortunately, they have had seven years to try to fix things since the last global recession, and they didn’t get the job done.  Anyone that believes that by some miracle they will be able to pull us out of the fire this time and that everything will somehow be okay is simply engaged in wishful thinking.