Air France Flight 4590 was an international charter flight from Paris, France, to New York City, on the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde. On 25 July 2000, at time 16:43 CET, the aircraft serving the flight (registration F-BTSC) ran over debris on the runway during takeoff, blowing a tyre and puncturing a fuel tank; the subsequent fire and engine failure caused the aircraft to crash into a hotel in nearby Gonesse two minutes after takeoff, killing all 109 (100 passengers and nine crew) aboard and four in the hotel, with another person in the hotel being critically injured.

The flight was chartered by German company Peter Deilmann Cruises, and the passengers were on their way to board the cruise shipMS Deutschland in New York City for a 16-day cruise to Manta, Ecuador. This was the only fatal Concorde accident during its 27-year operational history.


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NASA alleges Earth will experience days of a “darkened sun” in November 2017

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Quoting from

“There have been many reports about the changes our planet Earth could endure in the months and years to come but many of them didn’t really pan out, making us question everything we read on the internet. But this time, NASA confirms what’s been circling the web recently – our planet Earth will experience total darkness for 15 days in November 2017 starting from November 15 to November 29.”

it goes on…….

“NASA reports that this strange occurrence was expected to happen but they didn’t know exactly when. Upon more detailed examination the astronomers from NASA confirmed that the phenomenon will start on November 15 at 3:00 am and will most likely last until November 30, 4:45 pm.


Who turned the lights out?

According to experts this blackout will be caused by an astronomical event between Jupiter and Venus. There was even a detailed 1000 pages document written by Charles Bolden, head of NASA explaining the strange event to officials at the White House.”


According to the report, during this specific period Jupiter and Venus will come in close proximity of each other and will be separated by just 1 degree. Venus will move to the south-west of Jupiter and as a result it will shine 10 times brighter than Jupiter. Venus’ bright light will heat up the gases in Jupiter causing a reaction which will release a an absurdly high amount of hydrogen into the space. This reaction will come in contact with our Sun at 2:50 am on November 15th.

Once the hydrogen reaches the Sun, a massive explosion is bound to occur on the surface of the Sun, increasing the temperature to more than 9000 degrees. The whole process will generate so much heat that the Sun will change its color into a bluish shade. Once this happens, the Sun will need a minimum of 14 days to restore its normal color and temperature.

As a result of this strange phenomenon, the Sun’s light will be seen much dimmer from the Earth and hence the 15-day blackout NASA is talking about.


We do not expect any major effects from the Blackout event. The only effect this event will have on Earth is an increase of 6 – 8 degrees in temperature. the polar cap will be mostly affected by this. No one should worry much. This event would be similar to what Alaskans experience in the winter”, Bolden said.

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Japan horrified as Korean missile passes overhead


  • Donald Trump calls North Korea ‘a threat to the entire world’, White House says
  • Said North Korea had made its contempt for all UN nations ‘loud and clear’
  • North Korea’s test launch saw a ballistic missile fly over northern Japan
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would do all in his power to protect people 
  • South Korea in response dropped eight bombs at a range near the Korean border
  • South Korea warned North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test
  • Detected signs of it preparing another test at its Punggye-ri underground site 
  • US, Japan and South Korea have requested a UN Security Council meeting


Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that the Japanese government warned that a North Korean missile was headed toward the Tohoku region at the northern end of the country. NHK also reported that Japan took no action to shoot down the missile.

The Japanese broadcaster reported that the North Korean missile broke into three pieces and fell into the sea.

Dow Jones industrial average futures opened more than 100 points lower following the news, and was down more than 100 points in premarket trading Tuesday morning. The dollar fell against the Japanese yen.

President Donald Trump blasted North Korea as a ‘threat to the entire world,’ following its latest provocation – a ballistic missile launch over Japan today.

In a return to the saber-rattling of the last flare up with North Korea, Trump is warning that ‘all options are on the table’ – an obvious reference to U.S. military might.

His tough words came as North Korea’s latest launch, this time of a missile over Japan’s northern island, terrified Japanese citizens and caused a sudden drop in financial markets.

Weeks ago, Trump had warned that North Korea would face ‘fire and fury’ if it issued threats to the U.S.

The U.S. led an effort for new sanctions against the rogue regime that were approved by the UN Security Council.

In a telephone conversation with Japan’s President Shinzo Abe, Trump said that he ‘agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as to countries around the world,’ the statement added.

His comments followed a warning by South Korea that it would ‘exterminate’ Kim Jong-un if his administration continues to risk the safety of its population.

Within hours of Kim’s missile launch, South Korea had responded with an ‘overwhelming show of force’ by bombing a shooting range near its border to the North as part of a military drill, launching footage which contained a stern warning to Kim Jong-Un.

Seoul dropped eight Mark 84 bombs with four F15K fighter jets near Taebaek, Gangwon-do province, and released footage of the drill along with a video of its own ballistic missile tests conducted last week.

‘If North Korea threatens the security of the South Korean people and the South Korea-US alliance with their nuclear weapons and missiles our air forces will exterminate the leadership of North Korea with our strong strike capabilities,’ South Korean Colonel Lee Kuk-no warned in the video.

Drills: South Korea's F-15K fighter jets drop bombs during a training at the Taebaek Pilsung Firing Range on Tuesday morning in Gangwon-do, South Korea

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Hurricane Harvey Has Dumped 15 Trillion Gallons Of Water On Texas

Authorities are now telling us that Hurricane Harvey may end up causing more economic damage than even Hurricane Katrina did.  We already knew that some parts of southeast Texas are going to be “uninhabitable for an extended period of time”, but the latest forecasts are calling for about 10 more inches of total rain than had previously been projected.  At this moment 15 trillion gallons of water have already been dumped on Texas, and the rain continues to fall.  You can get some idea of the devastation that has taken place in Houston by watching this drone footage.  Essentially, some communities along the southeast Texas coastline have been totally destroyed.

It would be bad enough if 15 trillion gallons of water were dropped anywhere in the continental United States, but for it to happen in the Houston area makes it a disaster of unprecedented proportions.  Houston is our fourth largest city, and that means that millions upon millions of people are being deeply affected by this storm.  As I mentioned above, some experts now believe that this could end up being the most expensive natural disaster in our history

Tropical Storm Harvey has dropped more than 15 trillion gallons of water on Texas, triggering catastrophic, unprecedented flooding in the Houston area. The rains have broken all-time records, exceeding the rainfall totals seen during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

There may be no parallel available to any other rainstorm in U.S. history, based on the number of people affected, amount of water involved, and other factors, meteorologists have warned.

Due to its wide geographic scope across America’s 4th-largest city, the ensuing flood disaster may rank as one of the most, if not the most, expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.

And 15 trillion gallons is just the current number.  Meteorologists are forecasting that another 6 trillion gallons of water will fall on Texas before this storm is over.


Just yesterday, authorities were warning that some areas may see more than 40 inches of total rain, but now many forecasts are calling for “as much as 50 inches of rain” before Hurricane Harvey finally leaves Texas…

As the water rose, the National Weather Service issued another ominous forecast: Before the storm is gone, some parts of Houston and its suburbs could get as much as 50 inches of rain. That would be the highest amount ever recorded in Texas.

FEMA’s Long predicted that the aftermath of the storm would require FEMA’s involvement for years.

“This disaster’s going to be a landmark event,” Long said.

If these forecasts are accurate, the rainfall levels will exceed any previous record.

In fact, the amount of rain that has already fallen on southeast Texas would be enough to completely fill the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and then fill it all the way to the top again.

FEMA officials are already saying that they are going to be in the Houston area for “years”.  Tens of thousands are already using temporary shelters, and it is being projected that 450,000 people will ultimately file for disaster assistance…

U.S. emergency management officials said on Monday they were expediting federal resources to Texas to help with rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey swamped coastal areas of the state and forced 30,000 people to seek refuge in temporary shelters.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said more than 450,000 people were expected to seek disaster assistance due to flooding after Harvey made landfall during the weekend before weakening to tropical storm status.

Of course whenever there is a disaster such as this, bad people are going to try to take advantage of the situation.


According to Houston police chief Art Acevedo, a number of looters have already been arrested

Acevedo also said officers are focused on protecting the city from looters as floodwater recede.

“We’ve already arrested a handful of looters. We’ve made it real clear to our community we’re going to do whatever it takes to protect their homes and their businesses,” Acevedo said. “And when people come from the outside to Houston, Texas, know we’re going to be out in the city, we’re not going to rest as a police department or law enforcement community until people restore their lives.”

I am proud of how the Trump administration and the authorities down in Texas are responding to this unprecedented crisis.  The loss of life appears to be minimal so far, and thousands of people have been rescued from their homes and vehicles.

We never give emergency responders the credit that they deserve.  Day after day they are saving lives in the most difficult of situations, and I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people that are working so hard to help Houston pull through this.

Please keep the people of Houston in your prayers, because this is truly the worst crisis that city has ever seen.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho

Russia: US seeks to destabilize Venezuela through sanctions

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

Russia has said that the US’ anti-Venezuela sanctions are aimed at upsetting the country’s internal balance and creating economic problems.

“We are firmly opposed to unilateral sanctions against sovereign states,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Monday.

“The latest measures of financial pressure on Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro were introduced by Washington at a time when that country showed signs of relative internal political stabilization after the elections to the National Constituent Assembly, street protests eased somewhat and a schedule of forthcoming elections, including gubernatorial and presidential ones, was finalized,” she added.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that prohibits dealings with Venezuela, a measure taken to halt financing what the White House called President Nicolas Maduro’s “dictatorship.”

Maduro says the US is seeking to stifle oil exports through sanctions and a “naval blockade” on the Latin American country. He also says the US and its allies in the region are fomenting instability to bring down his government.

Members of the Venezuelan Army take part in military drills in Caracas on August 26, 2017. Venezuela kicks off two days of military drills in response to US President Donald Trump’s threat of military action and newly announced sanctions on the crisis-stricken nation. (Photo by AFP)

Political tensions in Venezuela rose recently after Caracas announced plans to establish a Constituent Assembly to take over the opposition-controlled parliament and rewrite the constitution. The opposition saw the move as an overt attempt by Maduro to accumulate power.

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Protests erupted on the streets, and clashes led to the death of at least 120 people from the two sides.

“In a situation like this the declared sectoral sections against Venezuela’s financial and oil sectors were quite obviously aimed at undercutting the situation in that country and worsening its economic problems,” added Zakharova.

She added that the sanctions will not have any affect on Russia’s will to cooperate with Venezuela.

“We will carefully analyze the consequences of the sanctions imposed by the US and their potential impact on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses…However, we can say now that they will not be able to influence our willingness to develop and boost our cooperation with a welcoming Venezuela and its people,” she added.

Zakharova added the Russia is ready to present political assistance to solve the current situation in Venezuela.

“This task’s solution requires, in no small measure, political assistance from outside…We are ready to contribute to the settlement in Venezuela to an extent, to which this is conditioned by the internal political developments in this state,” she added.

Super-hard Brexit: how the UK planned to blow up the Channel Tunnel

Civil servants acknowledged the atomic bomb plan could convert the tunnel into a mortar firing nuclear explosives into Kent and Calais, but reasoned it would be “100 per cent effective” at destroying our only physical link with France.  It wasn’t the first – or last – time that Channel tunnel plans showed how Britain’s relationship with the rest of Europe has rarely been straightforward.


The British Government considered using a special atomic demolition munition, similar to this one tested by the US in 1958, to blow up the Channel Tunnel. Los Alamos National Laboratory 

Fear not, there is a plan.

After all the talk about Brexit means Brexit; hard Brexit; soft Brexit, red, white and blue Brexit, and now the triggering of Article 50, some might have been forgiven for wondering whether the British Government had a plan – any plan – for Brexit.

What exactly is the Government hoping to achieve from negotiations that have begun with Theresa May making veiled threats about withdrawing security cooperation?  And, if after such a promising start things turned horribly sour, what are we going to do if our relationship with the rest of Europe breaks down irretrievably?

In fact, forget May, Brexit minister David Davis and our, err, trusty Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: has any British government, ever, made any plans for a total break with Europe?

Well, it turns out they have.


In once secret files, now tucked away in the National Archives at Kew, The Independenthas discovered the outlines of a cunning plan, drawn up by a succession of far-sighted civil servants and senior military officers, for a very hard, hard Brexit.  It involves the option of blowing up the Channel Tunnel with a nuclear bomb, and not telling the French what we are up to.

John Major and Margaret Thatcher on the inaugural Eurostar crossing in 1994, when the tunnel opened after 200 years of objections and fears had been overcome (Reuters)

There would, Ministry of Defence civil servants reasoned, be a certain amount of “collateral damage” to Kent (and less problematically to Pas-de-Calais).

But an atomic bomb would be “100 per cent effective” at ensuring a “totally irreversible total collapse, rupture [of] tunnel and sea bed to cause total flooding and complete collapse of part of tunnel”.

The main worry appears to have been the cost.

And keeping the plan secret from the French.

Because these were different times. The plan to sever our physical link with Europe was being made before the tunnel was built, at a time when it was feared that the “Barbarians at the gates of Calais” – to use one civil servant’s phrase – would not be “hordes” of immigrants, but an invading Soviet army.

Rather than making threats about security and leaving, we were trying to reassure everyone of our friendly intentions and join – and remain in – the European Community.

Hence those who drafted a letter from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Transport in March 1969 advised that explosive demolition ideas “should be covert and classified not less than SECRET UK EYES ONLY”.


 The ultra serious UK Border checks ……. in full swing
Films of nuclear bomb tests made available

Because, they argued, would it really be acceptable: “For overt preparations to be made to destroy our only link with France and the remainder of the Continent … when the UK is endeavouring to become a member of the Common Market and to convince continental Europe that we have shed forever our island mindedness?”

Perhaps they should have known the bit about shedding forever our island mindedness was a bit of a folorn hope.

After all, the history of British thinking about the Channel Tunnel tends to read a lot like a singular demonstration of “island mindedness”.

Albert Mathieu-Favier’s 1802 proposal for a coach service beneath the Channel (Creative Commons)

From 1802 and Napoleon onwards, it is littered with fears about an island nation losing “her ancient moat defensive”.

If we weren’t immediately invaded, England’s “splendid isolation” would be corrupted by visiting foreigners with their foreign ways flooding in via the “murksome, ugly bore”, its roof “festooned with seaweed”.

We would become “abject landlubbers”, a disastrous reduction in national moral fibre being occasioned by a lack of exposure to the character-building ordeal of seasickness.

For as subscribers to the Spectator magazine protested when it was proposed that a tunnel might replace ferry crossings in 1929: “We Britons must be seadogs not earthworms” … “If a Britisher has not the grit to face one hour at sea, is he fit to belong to our island heritage?”

If nothing else, perhaps, it is a reminder – albeit not necessarily needed right now – that “our island heritage” has produced a relationship with Europe that has, shall we say, rarely been straightforward.

As demonstrated after Britain got the atomic bomb in 1952.

It seems we didn’t waste too much time in considering how best to use our new weapon to destroy any link with Europe.

The first reference found in the secret files to destruction using a nuclear bomb comes in November 1959, when a Channel Tunnel building project was being proposed and the Ministry of Defence advised: “Nuclear weapon development has rendered the proposed tunnel vulnerable throughout its length. Conversely, the tunnel could be totally destroyed for defensive purposes if necessary.”

Conventional explosives, you see, just weren’t destructive enough.

“The problem here,” explained MoD official Michael Legge in February 1974, “is that according to Channel Tunnel Group engineers, the tunnel would be virtually unscathed by an explosion of very great magnitude since the force of the explosion would be dissipated along the tunnel.”

“Pre-chambering above the roof of the tunnel,” he added, “Would make it possible to cause rock falls which would block the tunnel, but such blockages could be removed in a few days.”

By contrast, as made clear in an options paper which started at “cut off power” and got progressively more destructive, option 14, “total collapse” caused by explosion using atomic demolition munitions, would be 100 per cent effective at producing irreversible blockage.

There were drawbacks, admitted Mr Legge.


The atomic bomb plan could convert the Channel Tunnel into a 30-mile-long mortar firing nuclear explosives out of both ends.

French engineer Aimé Thomé de Gamond, ‘father of the tunnel’, whose 1867 plan was accepted by both Victoria and Napoleon III – but cancelled due to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 (Creative Commons)

“An atomic explosion in the tunnel,” explained Mr Legge to officials including a representative of the Secret Service, “Could have a ‘mortar’ effect and cause widespread damage at the portals [of the tunnel] and in the surrounding area.”

The words “civilian casualties” do not appear in the minutes for that January 1974 meeting, but on the copy of the agenda that survives in the National Archives, someone has scribbled: “What about collateral damage”?

Mr Legge also appeared most concerned about the issue of cost.

In a February 1974 briefing paper he warned: “I am not sure if we possess an appropriate weapon, and if we could produce one at acceptable cost.”

And, he wondered, could such extravagant expenditure on an anti-Channel Tunnel nuclear bomb really be justified, given that if the tanks of the communist Warsaw Pact got as far as Calais, it was pretty much game over anyway?

“Frankly,” wrote Mr Legge, “If we ever reach a situation where Warsaw Pact conventional forces reach Calais without a strategic nuclear exchange having occurred, then I think the Channel Tunnel will be an irrelevance.


“Warsaw Pact air and maritime superiority should by then be adequate for invasion by other means.

“I am putting down a marker that we [the MoD] may eventually be asked to meet any extra cost incurred during construction.”

At least everyone was agreed that we shouldn’t tell the French.


Let us not forget, God forbid, that Putins panzers could use the Channel Tunnel to get into our green and pleasant Shakespearean land.

The unanimous view was succinctly expressed in 1969 by Brigadier John Constant, head of the Channel Tunnel Engineering Division at the Ministry of Transport, a man seasoned by wartime service as a sapper in the Western Desert and Burma.

“My proposal is that the Anglo-French requirement will not include any built-in demolition arrangements, but that a nominated representative of MoD be appointed to examine our plans in secret.”

In the very next sentence, he gleefully told his friend on the Chiefs of Staff Committee: “You may recall that a previous Channel Tunnel plan included an exposed section at the French coast, so that it could be bombarded by the Royal Navy when so inclined!”

In fairness to the brigadier, his attitudes were probably far more advanced than those that had prevailed among military men for most of the previous 167 years.

Ever since a Channel Tunnel was first proposed in 1802, it had been – as the Department of Transport acknowledged in 1971 – “haunted by the spectre of foreign Dragoons galloping out of the ground in Kent”.


English seaside culture

The first idea, from French engineer Albert Mathieu-Favier, for a candlelit tunnel used by horse-drawn vehicles, was scuppered by the invasion fear created by the antics of Napoleon.

Britain declared war on France in 1803 – partly because we felt insulted that Napoleon had suggested we deserved no voice in European affairs.

Emperor Napoleon III – Bonaparte’s nephew and heir – found more favour when he enthusiastically endorsed another Channel Tunnel proposal in 1865.  Queen Victoria was keen, because she tended to get seasick.

Thomé de Gamond’s 1856 plan for a Channel tunnel, with a harbour mid-Channel on the Varne sandbank. The Frenchman presented seven design proposals, eventually persuading Queen Victoria, but not PM Lord Palmerston. (Creative Commons)

Unfortunately, the government of the day was led by Lord Palmerston, a man fonder of gunboats than tunnels, and not known to suffer from seasickness.

Then in 1882, Sir Edward Watkin’s Submarine Continental Railway Company announced that using Captain Thomas English’s marvellous new boring machine, they could dig to Calais by 1886.

Cue “a great ferment”, as Prime Minister William Gladstone called it.

An 1882 Punch cartoon summed up Britons’ fears, depicting invasion by armour-clad frogs. Similarities in tone and aesthetics to the infamous ‘Breaking Point’ poster 134 years later are (probably) coincidental

At this stage in British history, it seems, the liberal metropolitan elite was implacably opposed to closer ties with Europe.  A 1,070-signature petition against the tunnel was signed by everyone from Queen Victoria’s gynaecologist to the Archbishop of Canterbury via Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Gladstone blamed “public opinion manufactured in London by great editors, and clubs … backed by the military and literary authorities and the social circles of London”.

He stood little chance against the hero of the hour, Lieutenant General Sir Garnet Wolseley, fresh returned from his triumph against Urabi Pasha at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir, who warned a military commission the tunnel would be “calamitous for England”.

The French or whoever held Calais “could by a coup de main seize our end of the tunnel,” he wrote.  “Dover would become a tête de point, from which they could issue forth with any large army they chose to bring through the tunnel.  From that moment, we would cease to be an independent power.”

Article 50 triggered: What happens now?

The resulting national mood was summed up by a cartoon in Punch magazine. It showed an invading army

rushing from the mouth of a tunnel drawn to resemble an all-devouring snake. Readers who looked closely enough saw that every soldier was an armour-clad frog.

By the time a Channel tunnel was again mooted in 1929, the military had devised further objections.  A retired admiral informed the press that a tunnel would lead to a decline in the British seafaring industry, with skilled seamen lost to unemployment.

In time of war, instead of being able to call upon a ready pool of “100,000 men who are not subject to seasickness”, the Navy would have “abject landlubbers who must be trained in seamanship and get their sea legs before they ever try gunnery”.

It wasn’t just the military men who were worried.

“The doctrine of England’s ‘splendid isolation’ was cited in some quarters,” wrote the correspondent of the American magazine Popular Mechanics, “And the fear expressed that quick and comfortable train journeys [through the tunnel] would make England a holiday resort for hordes of more or less undesirable people, who would introduce foreign customs, deface the countryside and otherwise interrupt English habits of living.”

The Spectator magazine of February 1929 duly noted “the rather misty argument that no one knows what changes our national psychology would undergo were we materially linked to the Continent”.

“The most passionate appeals,” it added, “are from the hearts of those who feel themselves descendants of a proud seafaring race.”

One subscriber vowed never to swap the fresh sea breezes on a boat for “something damp and stuffy, with water trickling down the sides, and a roof festooned with seaweed”.

And Miss F. M. Griffiths, of Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, won a five-guinea prize for “her entertaining poem” invoking Britannia and condemning:

“Such treason to Sentiment, to History and Tradition.
“Consider the impossible position
“Of the wandering patriot: Can his heart within him burn
“As his footsteps homeward turn,
“… Through a darksome, murksome, irksome, ugly bore?
“Can his manly bosom swell (As it ought to) crossing over,
“At the first soul-stirring sight Of the dear white cliffs of Dover;
“Why traitorously burrow
‘”Neath her ancient moat defensive,
“And force the dame to barter
“Her trident for a spade?
“A trident that has made
“Our fiercest foes afraid
“And our Empire so extensive.”

The 1929 plan was shelved.

It wasn’t until 1949 that the senior officers came round to the view that, actually, a Channel Tunnel might be militarily advantageous.

With the Cold War starting, they decided a tunnel could be of assistance in getting reinforcements as swiftly as possible to the British Army on the Rhine in the event of a Soviet attack – although they insisted that if we wanted a Channel tunnel, we needed a foolproof way of destroying it.

Thereafter objections from military figures tended to be of the more esoteric kind. In October 1968 retired Group Captain Eugene Vielle, former director of operational requirement at the Air Ministry, now a thriller writer, contacted The Times to warn about the newly proved theory of continental drift.

“Vielle,” The Times reported, “suggests the continent of Europe and Britain are imperceptibly drifting apart.  Even a fraction of an inch might be enough to fracture the tunnel and flood it.”

Geologists, though, were sceptical and, as The Times hinted, Vielle may have been a bit biased: “He has disliked tunnels ever since being stuck in the Simplon [between Switzerland and Italy] in the dark with a car load of frightened children.”

The atomic bomb plan, though, got overtaken by events.

In January 1975 Harold Wilson’s Environment Secretary Anthony Crosland announced that the Government was shelving the Channel Tunnel project because of its high cost.

With the 1975 EU referendum just months away, the Labour minister was immediately accused by an enthusiastic pro-European, the Conservative MP and later Thatcher minister Paul Channon, of “a decision that has been maliciously taken by the anti-Europeans and left wing in the Government”.

By that point, it seems the desire for 100 per cent destruction offered by an atomic bomb had lost out to anxieties about unintentionally firing a nuclear mortar into Kent, at vast expense.

In possibly his final word on the matter, in a letter of June 1974 to the Department of the Environment, Mr Legge of the MoD expresses the “preliminary view” that long-term tunnel destruction might best be accomplished by less explosive methods: “creating blockages by head-on train crashes” or “flooding by pumps or inbuilt scuttling devices”.

But if the more ardent Brexiteer should feel any disappointment about the extinction of plans to nuke the Channel Tunnel, they can at least take comfort in the thought that the flooding plan had the perfect patriotic pedigree.

In the 23 years since the tunnel finally opened, France has not invaded and nor has nuclear weaponry been required. Yet… (Reuters)

As the flooding idea gained favour in Whitehall in the 1970s, MoD officials passed each other a copy of the secret note written in June 1914 by the First Lord of the Admiralty.

“WSC,” the officials told each other admiringly, “was only 60 years ahead of his time.”

Because in June 1914, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, had advised: “Means of flooding the tunnel should be provided.”

The mouth of the tunnel should be at sea, he added, with the final connection to the shore being via a rail bridge, complete with a drawbridge in one of its spans.

“In strained relations, or on any sign of danger, the lifting of the drawbridge would afford absolute security, and the flooding of the tunnel could be considered at leisure.”

And “If by treachery the drawbridge was rendered inoperative, the guns of a single small cruiser could break down the bridge and absolutely prevent the passage of trains or troops by night and day.”

‘In strained relations, or on any sign of danger, the lifting of the drawbridge would afford absolute security, and the flooding of the tunnel could be considered at leisure.’ (Getty)

So now we know: if Article 50 negotiations fail, if Brexit must be hard, we can do it Winston’s way, with a raised drawbridge, a flooded tunnel and the perfect moat defensive.

After all, with the will of the people so strongly expressed by the Brexit vote, who can quibble about a few structural modifications to the tunnel that opened in 1994?

Asked whether the building of the current Channel Tunnel involved plans for disabling it in the event of an invasion, a Eurotunnel spokesman said: “There has always been a military aspect to it, but I cannot give any further insight into what plans may or may not exist.”

The Ministry of Defence was contacted for comment. When The Independent asked whether current options included a nuclear bomb, the response was prolonged laughter. It seemed genuine

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British leaders dither over E U exit

Just as Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet had started to talk with one voice on Brexit, the opposition Labour Party’s proposal to keep the U.K. in the single market for as long as four years looks set to fracture the Conservatives’ fragile unity.

May’s lack of a parliamentary majority means it wouldn’t take much for a rebellion of pro-European Tories to nudge the government toward a softer Brexit. And lawmakers will have their chance to make their voices heard next month when key Brexit legislation hits Parliament.

“There is now a real chance that the U.K. could stay in a customs union forever,” Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, said on Twitter. “But a few Tory rebels are needed.”

Labour’s proposal is a reversal that puts clear water between the two main parties on Brexit policy. It would mean the U.K. remains in the single market and continues paying into the EU budget at the time of the next election in 2022. It also leaves open the option of single market and customs union membership for good. May wants to pull the U.K. out of both in 2019.

European officials will have to figure out what the shifting dynamics of British politics mean for the talks as they sit down for the third round of negotiations on Monday. While the EU side has played down any hope of progress, and shown frustration with the U.K.’s lack of clarity or concrete solutions, Brexit Secretary David Davis continues to call for “flexibility and imagination” from his counterpart Michel Barnier.

EU officials on Friday expressed concern that language would effectively pass responsibility for the trickiest issues, such as the Irish border, to the Europeans. The U.K. needs to come up with more ideas on how to keep the border as invisible as possible, and shouldn’t use peace on the island as a bargaining chip, they told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Along with the Irish border and the rights of EU citizens, a key sticking point in the talks remains the financial settlement, which wasn’t addressed in the last round. The EU demands sufficient progress is made on all three issues before talks can move on to trade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed into the debate on Saturday, reminding Britain that it has to pay it dues and describing the matter of the exit bill as “a very difficult issue.”

For more on the U.K.’s Brexit position, here’s the rundown of its proposals. Most of them are about the future relationship rather than the divorce though, and the EU says it’s still not answering the questions in the right order.

Labour’s proposal is a reversal that puts clear water between the two main parties on Brexit policy.
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Brexit Latest

Drugs Boost | AstraZeneca will announce this week an increase in investment at its Macclesfield campus in northwest England,  Sunday Telegraph reports.

Business Unites | Brexit talks should focus on the economy on both sides, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce said, as the two lobby groups called for “clarity and certainty.”

Nissan Plans | Nissan Motor plans to increase production by 20% at its Sunderland plant and source more parts within the country as it aims to offset higher costs expected after Brexit, Nikkei says.

EU Unity | France may be willing to start trade talks as soon as October as EU unity over its Brexit stance splits, Telegraph reports

Compromise Chats | Charles Grant writes in the Guardian that behind the scenes a compromise has been discussed on the financial settlement, but hardliners on both sides are preventing a deal.

Bloomberg View | May’s government is moving too slowly, and there’s no chance of designing a final deal by the fast-approaching March 2019 deadline, Bloomberg View argues.

And Finally…

May has “penciled in” Aug. 30, 2019, as the date she will leave office, according to the Sunday Mirror.

Don’t be so sure, says Bloomberg’s Robert Hutton. In 300 years, arguably only seven prime ministers have left the job at the time they chose. Most are forced from office by the voters, their party, or by circumstances. Some (see Blair, Tony) get the chance to manage their faster-than-expected descent.

After this year’s election disaster, May won’t be allowed to fight another contest. She’ll go when the Tories feel they can manage another contest, when keeping her is judged to be more painful than losing her, or when a successor correctly judges they have the best chance of supplanting her.

The most recent British leader to succeed at choosing their own departure date was Harold Wilson, 40 years ago. And that was after unexpected election victories. May has only an unexpected near-defeat to her name.

Harold Wilson heads to Buckingham Palace to hand his resignation.


76 percent of Venezuelans oppose international intervention to remove President Maduro.

“I am here to support the Revolution… because I love my country, I’m a Chavista in the flesh and I support Chavez and Maduro, and I want that to be heard in the US, Europe and the rest of the world so they can’t say this is a show, that we don’t have numbers, that we’re paid to be here. No, this is real,” one marcher told Venezuelanalysis.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses hundreds of thousands of supporters on Bolivar Avenue in the heart of Caracas. (AVN)

The pro-government demonstration comes on the heels of a series of statements released by the US State Department and 11 neighboring countries warning the Maduro administration to “ensure the right to peaceful protest”. Caracas has blasted the communiqués as “interventionist”, calling into question the moral and legal authority of Washington and its regional allies to intercede in internal Venezuelan affairs.

Many present at Wednesday’s march likewise expressed their categorical rejection of foreign interference.

“Here we are at the largest anti-imperialist march in Venezuelan history, the US empire has done much harm and we have right-wing opposition sectors that seek the ouster of the legitimately elected government, [but] here we are in the streets, ready to give everything including our lives to prevent US boots from touching our soil,” affirmed Jesus Pinto, national secretary general for the Tupamaros National Revolutionary Movement.

The strong anti-interventionist sentiment has been reflected in a recent poll by independent pollster Hinterlaces, which found that 76 percent of Venezuelans oppose international intervention to remove President Maduro.

Meanwhile, thousands of opposition protesters marched from the Plaza Francia in the wealthy eastern Caracas municipality of Chacao towards the National Ombudsman’s office downtown, despite lacking the necessary permit from El Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez.

The government has consistently denied permission for opposition supporters to march to Caracas’ western municipality of El Libertador since a short-lived opposition-led coup in 2002, triggered by an anti-government march diverted towards Miraflores Presidential Palace that left 19 dead by opposition sniper-fire.

The march was called by the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition, which has presented the government with a hodgepodge of demands, ranging from holding postponed regional elections and allowing humanitarian aid to removing Supreme Court justices and convening snap presidential elections one year ahead of schedule.

Is a Crash coming ?

Investors pull billions from US stocks in longest outflow streak since 2004

  • Investors have pulled $30 billion from U.S. stock funds over the last 10 weeks, Bank of America Merrill Lynch says.
  • The latest week of outflows marks the 10th straight week of withdrawals, the longest in more than a decade, and internal positioning changes also indicate investors are becoming more defensive, the report says.
  • The outflows occurred despite the S&P 500’s nearly 1 percent gain this quarter and a record high on Aug. 8.

Investors are fleeing U.S. stocks in a way they haven’t since 2004.

For 10 straight weeks a total of $30 billion has left U.S. stocks, marking the longest streak of outflows since 2004, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a Thursday report, citing EPFR Global data.

Investors turned instead to emerging markets and European and Japanese stocks, which saw $36 billion in inflows over the last 10 weeks, the report said.

Streaks of consecutive weekly US stock fund outflows

Source: BofA Merrill Lynch Global Investment Strategy, EPFR Global

BofAML’s breakdown of last week’s fund flows pointed to more aversion to risk among investors, and could add to some analysts’ worries about deteriorating market internals.

The 10-week outflow from U.S. stocks comes despite the S&P 500’s nearly 1 percent gain this quarter and a record high on Aug. 8.

The report also pointed out the turn away from U.S. stocks coincided with the late June surge in the euro against the U.S. dollar to its strongest in nearly a year, after comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi suggested higher inflation and tighter monetary policy soon in the euro zone.

The euro subsequently climbed to its highest in more than two years in early August, and traded slightly below those levels near $1.186 Friday. Draghi is scheduled to speak later Friday afternoon at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In the week ended Wednesday, European stocks saw their first outflows in seven weeks, the BofAML report said, while Japanese stocks saw their largest inflow in five months at $3.1 billion.

Major contributors to U.S. stock market gains in the last several months saw significant outflows in the week ended Wednesday, the BofAML report said:

  • Technology — $600 million, largest in 49 weeks.
  • Financials — $35 million, second straight week.
  • Consumer — $1.5 billion, third largest ever

The defensive utilities sector was the only U.S. stock sector to see slight inflows in the last week.

By investing style, investors withdrew $1.6 billion from U.S. growth stock funds and $1.1 billion from U.S. value stock funds, the BofAML report said. Only U.S. small caps saw inflows, at $700 million.

Investors also piled into Treasury bonds, which saw their greatest inflows in 10 weeks at $900 billion. But riskier high-yield debt posted $2.2 billion in outflows, its eighth week out of 10 of withdrawals, the report said.

That said, analysts don’t expect the defensive turn to result in a large market downturn.

“This is definitely weaker U.S. equity inflows but still net positive and my sense is that positioning is still long and the VIX back at 11 shows there is still complacency,” Ilya Feygin, managing director and senior strategist at WallachBeth Capital, said Friday. He estimated U.S. stock exchange-traded funds, passive investment products which have risen in popularity over mutual funds, gained $6.1 billion in net inflows since June 30.

In addition, BofAML said its proprietary Bull & Bear indicator did not trigger a “sell” signal, meaning the market still remains in a rally mode.

And while overall the bank’s wealthy private clients turned more defensive, their allocation to one traditional safe haven, precious metals ETFs, has fallen to record lows, BofAML said.

Private client allocation to precious metals ETFs as % of assets under management

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BAC data

Market Warnings Lose Impact –

Stocks Could Run

In investing, a good time to buy is when worries and warnings are abundant. Now appears to be that time for stocks.

Disclosure: Author is fully invested in U.S. growth stocks

The reason for the worries and warnings becoming so loud now is the mounting consternation about the market not behaving as expected. Over a month ago, the belief in a coming downward adjustment seemingly reached critical mass:

MarketWatch (July 21): “Two-thirds of U.S. investors think stocks are overvalued”

“About 36% of investment managers find the U.S. stock market undervalued or fairly valued at current levels, according to a quarterly investment manager survey performed by Northern Trust Asset Management. That’s the lowest reading in the history of the survey, which began in the third quarter of 2008.

“Nearly two-thirds of investors—65%—say the U.S. equity market is overvalued, the highest percentage on record.”

In spite of that strong bearishness, the market has continued to show resilience. Normally, that contrarian reality would sow doubts about the worries and warnings. However, this time it has produced increased frustration, underscored by investor action.

CNBC (August 25): “Investors pull billions from U.S. stocks in longest outflow streak since 2004”

“Investors have pulled $30 billion from U.S. stock funds over the last 10 weeks, Bank of America Merrill Lynch says.

“The latest week of outflows marks the 10th straight week of withdrawals, the longest in more than a decade, and internal positioning changes also indicate investors are becoming more defensive, the report says.

“The outflows occurred despite the S&P 500’s nearly 1 percent gain this quarter and a record high on Aug. 8.”

Beyond reasoning – emotionally charged negativity

Now that the warnings are widespread yet unfulfilled, articles have shifted to scary visions of what could happen.

The 1987 stock market crash is a (the?) popular choice now. Based on a few minor similarities (while ignoring the many major dissimilarities), the Black Monday selloff is highlighted. These articles are grossly misleading because the actual causes of the 1987 run-up and crash had little or nothing in common with today’s market. Additionally, the economy and financial system were dissimilar. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the broad-based investor optimism before the 1987 crash has been absent from the 2017 stock market. Look at the chart below to see 1987’s optimistic bubble that then popped, and compare it to the mild, controlled rise in 2017.

DJIA: 2017 vs 1987

So, why was the 1987 crash chosen? For two flawed reasons.


First, because 1987 involved a positive trend that turned negative quickly. The nonsensical implication is that because 2017 also has a positive trend, it, too, could turn negative quickly.

Second, because 2017 ends in a “7” just like 1987. This idiotic reason gained a following when Barron’s and others saw fit to write about it. See “Sorry, Barron’s – The 2017 Stock Market Is Not Cursed Because It Ends In ‘7’” for an explanation of the huge flaws in proposing such a theory.

In spite of the silliness in comparing the two years, here are just some of the articles that use the 1987 crash as a vision of what could happen now:

  • Bloomberg: “The Market Is Behaving Much Like It Did in the Past”
  • “The Stock Market May Be Poised for a Replay of the 1987 Crash”
  • Fortune: “Top Economist: Get Ready for a Stock Market Drop”
  • Markets Insider: “Wall Street is sending huge warning signs for stocks”
  • Money Magazine: “Stocks Just Entered a Historically Scary Period. Here’s Why”
  • “Investment Legend Warns Of A 1987-Type Market Crash”
  • Investors Chronicle: “Black-Monday Model says Sell”
  • Business Insider: “Wall Street is at war with itself over the future of stocks”
  • Lombardi Letter: “Hindenburg Omen Indicator Signals Major Stock Market Crash in 2017”
  • Economic Times: “There’s reason in low-volatility paranoia: Market crashes follow”
  • MarketWatch: “Wall Street isn’t ready for a 1100-point tumble in the Dow industrials”
  • Financial Times: “The next crash risk is hiding in plain sight”
  • Gold Seek: “The End is Nigh”
  • U.S. News & World Report: “7 Ways to Profit From a Market Collapse”
  • Commodity Trade Mantra: “Is Apparent Strength in Stock Market Masking Deeper Problems Below the Surface?”
  • FXStreet: “The 1987 stock market crash revisited: Too many parallels to ignore, forewarned is forearmed”
  • MoneyWeek: “Here’s how the S&P 500 could get to 5000”

The bottom line

Beliefs and emotions, when they become widespread and coalesce around a particular view, are an excellent contrarian indicator. Like a pendulum, they reach an extreme point, and then begin to reverse. That reversal – call it a move back to common sense and normality – can produce a strong investment shift.

In today’s market, that means owning stocks is desirable. Not only could that selling mentioned above reverse, it could spur an increase in demand from the conservatively allocated portfolios of both individuals and institutions.

Final proof?

Are you having a hard time believing that all the negativity is wrong-headed? Then, try creating a mental and emotional picture of a true bull market, where you own growth stocks/funds, your holdings have nice gains that are increasing, analysts are discussing positive economy/company developments, investing advice is focused on optimizing capital gains and articles regularly describe how well things are going.

Got it? Now compare that picture to today. Not even close. Therefore, clearly, we are not in an overvalued, optimistic, risk-taking time in which investors are counting their winnings with complacency.


Blast From a Financial Crisis Past, Synthetic CDOs Are Back

Market for collateralized debt obligations is on the rise again after years on the decline

Aug. 28, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET

LONDON—The synthetic CDO, a villain of the global financial crisis, is back.

A decade ago, investors’ bad bets on collateralized debt obligations helped fuel the crisis. Billed as safe, they turned out to be anything but. Now, more investors are returning to CDOs—and so are concerns that excess is seeping into the aging bull market.

In the U.S., the CDO market sunk steadily in the years after the financial crisis but has been fairly flat since 2014. In Europe, the total size of market is now rising again—up 5.6% annually in the first quarter of the year and 14.4% in the last quarter of 2016, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

Collateralized debt obligations package a bunch of assets, such as mortgage or corporate loans, into a security that is chopped up into pieces and sold to investors.

The assets inside a synthetic CDO aren’t physical debt securities but rather derivatives, which in turn reference other investments such as loans or corporate debt.

During the financial crisis, synthetic CDOs became a symbol of the financial excesses of the era. Labelled an “atomic bomb” in the movie “The Big Short,” they ultimately were the vehicle that spread the risks from the mortgage market throughout the financial system.

Synthetic CDOs crammed with exposure to subprime mortgages—or even other CDOs—are long gone. The ones that remain contain credit-default swaps referencing a range of European and U.S. companies, effectively allowing investors to bet whether corporate defaults will pick up.

Desperate for something that pays better than basic government bonds, insurance companies, asset managers and high-net worth investors are scooping up investments like synthetic CDOs, bankers say, which had largely become the preserve of hedge funds after 2008.

Investment banks, which create and sell CDOs, are happy to oblige. Placid markets have made trading revenue weak this year, and such structured products are an increasingly important business line.

Synthetic CDOs got “bad press,” says Renaud Champion, head of credit strategies at Paris-based hedge fund La Française Investment Solutions. But “that market has never ceased to fully function,” he added.

These days, Mr. Champion still trades synthetic CDOs, receiving a stream of income for effectively insuring against a sharp rise in European corporate defaults.

Many investors, though, still view the products as unnecessarily complex and are concerned they may be hard to offload when markets get choppy—as they did in the last crisis.

“We don’t see that demand from our clients and we wouldn’t recommend it,” said Markus Stadlmann, chief investment officer at Lloyds Private Banking, citing concerns over the products’ lack of transparency and lack of liquidity, meaning it could be hard to offload a position when needed.

The return of synthetic CDOs could present other risks. Even if banks are currently less willing to loan money to help clients juice returns, credit default swaps can be very leveraged, potentially allowing investors to make outsize bets.

Structured products accounted for nearly all the $2.6 billion year-on-year growth in trading-division revenue at the top 12 global investment banks in the first quarter, according to Amrit Shahani, research director at financial consultancy Coalition.

“There has been an uptick in interest in any kind of yield-enhancement structure,” said Kokou Agbo-Bloua, a managing director in Société Générale SA’s investment bank.

The fastest growth this year has come in credit—the epicenter of the 2007-08 crisis. The top global 12 investment banks had around $1.5 billion in revenue in structured credit in the first quarter, according to Coalition, more than doubling since the first quarter of 2016. Structured equities are largest overall, a business dominated by sales of derivatives linked to moves in stock prices, with revenue of $5 billion in the first quarter.

“The low-yield environment hurts,” said Lionel Pernias, a credit-fund manager at AXA Investment Managers. “So there are a lot of asset owners looking at structured credit.”

These days, the typical synthetic CDO involves a portfolio of credit-default swaps on a range of companies. The portfolio is sliced into tranches, and investors receive payouts based on the performance of the swaps. Those investors owning lower tranches tend to get paid more but are subject to higher losses if the swaps sour.

For instance, an investor can sell insurance against a pick-up in defaults in the lowest—or “equity”—tranche of the iTraxx Europe index, a widely traded CDS benchmark that tracks European investment-grade companies. In return, the investor will receive regular payments, but those will shrink with every company default and stop altogether once 3% of the portfolio has been wiped out through defaults.

During the financial crisis, synthetic CDOs based on standardized indexes like iTraxx Europe suffered losses as traders expected defaults to pick up. Investors who held on, though, have since done “great,” says Mr. Champion.

Investors who agreed to insure against a rise in defaults for 10 years on the equity tranche of the iTraxx Europe index in March 2008 have made roughly 10% a year, according to an analysis of data from IHS Markit . That’s despite defaults from two companies in the index: Italian lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Portugal Telecom International Finance BV.

In contrast, investors who sold insurance on tailored CDOs packed with riskier credits—such as Icelandic banks or monoline insurers—would have been on the hook for losses.

Synthetic CDOs have evolved since the crisis, bankers say. For instance, most are shorter-dated, running up to around two to three years rather than seven to 10 years. Some banks will only slice and dice standardized CDS indexes that trade frequently in the market rather than craft tailored baskets of credits.

There are also fewer banks involved in arranging these trades. Those active include BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Société Générale.

Postcrisis regulations have forced banks to set aside more capital against these transactions and use less leverage. That has encouraged banks to parcel out the risk to clients rather than keeping it on their own books.

“There is a lot more regulation and scrutiny and a lot less leverage,” said Mr. Agbo-Bloua.

Mr. Champion says he only trades tranches based on standardized CDS indexes, which he says are easier to buy and sell than more tailored products. Currently, he sees value in selling default protection on super-senior tranches.

Mr. Champion said he has to lay down only around $1 million in upfront margin costs on a $100 million trade of this kind.

“The cost of leverage in the derivatives space is very low,” he said.


Any expectations of default rates picking up could inflict losses on synthetic CDOs, though at the moment analysts forecast they should decline. Still, the memory of how the market behaved in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis is likely to keep many investors on the sidelines.

“If you’re the person responsible for buying the synthetic CDO that suddenly goes wrong, your career risk is bigger than if you’d bought a plain vanilla bond that goes wrong. It has a bad name,” said Ulf Erlandsson, a portfolio manager at start-up hedge fund Glacier Impact, who until recently oversaw credit for one of Sweden’s public pension funds.

Write to Christopher Whittall at and Mike Bird at

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