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Juncker: EU border checks will cost billions

© AFP
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L) attends a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on January 20, 2016.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said that adding border checks to Europe's passport-free area would cost at least three billion euros a year in lost business. Juncker, whose EU executive is working on revising the bloc's asylum-seeking policy, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday that every hour of waiting time at borders had a cost.

"One after another, we close the borders and once they are all closed we will see that the economic cost is huge," Juncker said, adding, "If we close the borders, if the internal market begins to suffer ... then one day we will be wondering whether or not we really need a common currency if there is no single market, no free movement of workers any more."

Juncker pointed out that he decided to stress the economic impact because of EU governments' "cavalier" attitude to the Schengen zone of passport-free travel. The remarks come as some European governments have pledged to close their borders to incoming refugees from conflict zones.

Comment: "How much of the most recent refugee crisis is social engineering versus simply the inevitable rot of empire is difficult to tell - though the fact that social engineers would be tempted to use a vast number of refugees created by their own foreign policy indicates that their ploy in and of itself is indicative of immense, irreversible geopolitical rot." -Tony Cartalucci

The underlying strategy -- of a manufactured culture clash, heightened tensions, the incitement of fear (underscored by strategic false flag events), and increased financial burdens (in the context of an imminent global market free-fall) -- sets the stage for an upcoming destabilization in many levels of Western/EU society. The timing by the PTB has been calculated and impeccable. Cue the chaos.


USA

Half million foreigners overstayed US visa in 2015

© unknown
Documenting immigrants, an exit-entry dilemma.
Nearly half a million foreigners who legally entered the US last year, stayed in the country despite the expiration of their visas, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says. In an "Entry/ Exit Overstay Report" that was published on Tuesday, the DHS stated that, out of the some 45 million people who were granted non-immigrant admissions to the US in 2015, a total of 527,127 overstayed their visas.

As of January 4, 2016, up to 416,500 of those individuals were still believed to be in the country, violating the terms of their visas. This is while the report did not account for the people who might have illegally entered America in the same period. According to Pew Research Center, there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants living in the US in 2014. The DHS officials were slated to testify about the findings at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Congress ordered the department to conduct reports on visa overstays in 1997. Lawmakers have been asking the DHS for years to provide the data, only to be told that the data could not be compiled.

The department has also been tasked with improvising an "exit-entry system" capable of accurately tracking all people entering and leaving the US. Foreigners who apply for the US are interviewed, photographed and have their fingerprints taken before heading there. However, the US Customs and Border Protection is unable to get those biometric information from every departing foreigner. This makes it tricky to figure out who has left and who has remained.

Comment: Of the 416,500 individuals violating their visa exit, this number does not include people who overstayed student visas, foreign worker visas and exchange visas. This number only accounts for those who traveled to the US by air or sea. Less than 1% of 45M overstayed and 99% were confirmed departures.

That the WH and lawmakers are using the San Bernardino false flag to justify revising the visa entry programs shows how legislation can be based on any social motivator, real or manufactured.


Dollars

Two phases in the War on Cash

Back in 2008, I began warning of increasing capital controls that we would see in the future, as a component in the decline of Western economies (Western in the broad sense, including Japan, Australia, etc.)

Along the way, it occurred to me that, at some point, governments might collectively attempt to eliminate paper currency in favour of an electronic currency - transferred from party to party solely through licensed banks. Sound farfetched? Well, maybe, but what if the U.S. and EU agreed on an overall plan, then suggested it to other governments? On the face of it, this smacks of conspiracy theory, yet certainly, all governments would benefit from this control and would be likely to get on board. In fact, it might prove to be the only way out of their present economic problems.

Comment: For a more in-depth look at the War on Cash see:


Bullseye

South Carolina: New bill would force journalists to register and submit an affidavit of competency

South Carolina has long been known for the ridiculous and off-world bills its State House regularly submits to a vote. Indeed, the residents of the state are routinely subjected to a demonstration of the utter uselessness of the majority of its "representatives" as well as their lack of understanding and concern for civil liberties, Constitutional rights, and the general welfare of the State.

Enter another freedom-shredding bill submitted by the Constitutional non-scholar Mike Pitts, a Republican State House member from Laurens, S.C.

Pitts' bill would establish a "responsible journalism registry" to be operated by the South Carolina Secretary of State.

Comment: A great number of journalist mouthpieces at the big news networks and papers would be ousted with this bill. But, of course, this bill won't target them. It's aimed at real journalists with integrity who pursue the truth and refuse to toe the party line. As we tumble ever faster into outright fascism and the war on truth escalates expect more bills like this and more real journalists being targeted.


Fire

Massive explosion at fireworks factory in southern China kills 3, injures 53

© ChinaFotoPress
Smoke rises out of the remains of the fireworks factory
A massive explosion Wednesday at a fireworks plant in southern China killed three people and injured 53, while shattering windows of homes in the area, officials and state media reports said.

One additional person was missing from the blast that shook Hongsheng Fireworks Plant in a village outside the city of Shangrao in Jiangxi province, state-run Xinhua News Agency said. A local government confirmed the incident on its official website and said that about 1,000 people were evacuated from the area.

The blast was so strong that doors and windows of residential homes in the area were destroyed with glass shards scattered around, the district government of Guangfeng said.


Comment: Last week another massive explosion at a Chinese fireworks factory left ten dead and seven injured. Some other fireworks related explosions and fires in the past year include:


Water

Florida drinking water system hit by vandals - 400,000 gallons drained from county reserve

© veinglory/iStock
A CodeRED alert was sent to 1,700 water utility customers in the area and will remain in effect until further notice.

Vandals drained 400,000 gallons of water from the Plantation Bay drinking water system in Flagler County, Florida, raising concerns about potential contamination, according to news sources.

The incident on Sunday prompted officials to issue a boil water order. A CodeRED alert was sent to 1,700 water utility customers in the area and will remain in effect until further notice.

"When all of that water was drained, the water pressure dropped," explained Heidi Petito, general services director. "The boil water notice is precautionary, and is required any time the water pressure drops below a certain level."

The vandals opened about 20 valves in the largely undeveloped Plantation Reserve Estates and left them running.

Fire

Update - Dubai police say electrical fault caused New Year's hotel fire

© Karim Sahib/Agence France-Presse
Flames rip through the Address Downtown hotel, near the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, after it was hit by a massive fire on December 31, 2015
No flammable liquids involved in blaze

The fire which engulfed one of Dubai's most prominent hotel skyscrapers ahead of New Year fireworks was caused by an electrical short-circuit, Dubai's police chief said on Wednesday.

In a presentation to media, police officials said there had been no trace of any flammable liquids such as petrol at the site of the blaze at the 63-storey hotel and residential block, close to the world's tallest building. "The direct cause was an electrical short-circuit," police commander Khamis Mattar Al-Mazeina told reporters. He declined to say whether the cladding - layers fixed to the outside of buildings for decoration, insulation or protection - had affected the development of the fire, and directed queries about building materials to the Dubai Civil Defence authority.

The building was quickly evacuated with only minor injuries reported, and authorities went ahead with a New Year's fireworks display at the 160-storey Burj Khalifa tower a few hundred metres away.

Comment: There's been an unusual number of fires and explosions due to mysterious electrical problems in recent years.


Briefcase

Global economic gloom: Companies throughout Europe announcing mass layoffs and job cuts

Amid growing global economic gloom, including a slowdown in China and falling oil and commodity prices, major companies throughout Europe are announcing mass layoffs and job cuts.

Last Wednesday, US multinational General Electric (GE) announced plans to cut 6,500 jobs in Europe over the next two years, including 1,700 jobs in Germany, 570 in the UK, 765 in France and 1,300 in Switzerland. According to comments from the head of GE's power division last September, this is part of a plan to squeeze out $3 billion in cost savings over five years.

GE acquired French engineering company Alstom in a €9.7 billion deal in 2014, promising to create jobs. GE France spokesman Laurent Wormser said job cuts in France will hit mainly administrative jobs in the Paris area, in human resources, public relations and the legal department.

After reaching an agreement with the trade unions, French nuclear group Areva announced plans for 6,000 job cuts worldwide, including in Germany, the United States and 2,700 in France. The "competitiveness plan" deal would net Areva €1 billion in savings by 2017.

British Airways is eliminating 5,800 jobs under a plan to cut its debts, on top of 7,600 job cuts already announced earlier. These will largely hit major British airports, including 6,600 jobs cut at Heathrow airport and 3,000 at Gatwick.

Comment: Why this economic slump has legs


Eye 2

Former cop used police database to stalk woman he raped after she reported it to police


Jeffrey Martin
A former Ohio police officer has been charged with raping a woman in 2014 and then using the police database to stalk her after she reported the crime.

Former Pepper Pike officer Jeffrey Martin, 55, was arrested last month on charges of rape, stalking and menacing. The case was turned over to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office after the Bedford Police Department said that details in the case file contained information that "would have compromised our ability to stay on the case."

An indictment announced last week revealed that Martin had used a police database to stalk the woman after she contacted Bedford police. Prosecutors said that Martin pretended to be a private investigator so he could stalk his victim onto Ursuline College campus.

The indictment also noted that Martin had used a firearm during the rape, but it was not immediately clear how it was used.

According to Martin's personnel file, he had been suspended four times by the Pepper Pike Police Department. Two of the suspensions were related to inappropriate conduct toward women.

Family

Nearly half of all Americans see 'nothing positive' in Donald Trump

© REUTERS/ Mark Kauzlarich
US citizens were more likely to focus on Trump's personal traits and style when talking about potential negative aspects of Trump's presidency, according to the survey.

More than four out of 10 US nationals cannot say anything positive about billionaire businessman Donald Trump possibly becoming the country's president, a poll released on Wednesday found.

The United States will elect a new president this November. Despite his controversial remarks on migration, Trump leads other Republican hopefuls in opinion polls.

Comment: The US is not a democracy. It is an oligarchy ruled by a small economic elite. All this media hype, for an obvious bigot who wears his mental illnesses on his sleeve, serves to condition the people to even worse levels of social pathology.

Also see: