U.S. Regulators Threaten to Fine Barclays Half a Billion Dollars

U.S. Regulators Threaten to Fine Barclays Half a Billion Dollars

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Barclays faces a bigger fine than it did over Libor fixing.

Over accusations that Barclays manipulated the energy market, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (ferc) threatened to fine Barclays $470 million. The fine could be the biggest in the ferc’s history.

The fine is roughly the same size the amount of money Barclays was forced to pay British and U.S. regulators for manipulating the Libor rate.

The ferc accused Barclays of using one part of its business to make a loss on electricity in order to push the price down, so that another part could make a huge profit. To prove their case, the ferc released expletive-laden messages between Barclays traders boasting about how they were manipulating the market. The individual traders also face fines totaling $18 million.

Barclays says it did nothing illegal and will fight the fine, saying that the ferc’s report is “by nature a one-sided document, and does not reflect a balanced and full description of the facts.”

But even if it hasn’t actually broken the law, the e-mails make the company look guilty and callous. It is also being investigated by U.S. and UK regulators over its fundraising efforts in the Middle East.

Yet another scandal for Barclays is yet another nail in the coffin for Britain’s reputation as the home of a responsible and mature banking industry.

The finance industry is one of the few areas where Britain still leads the world. The continued blows to its banking industry will hurt the whole economy.

Parliament Tells Prime Minister: Stand Up to Europe

Parliament Tells Prime Minister: Stand Up to Europe

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The British government suffered a historic defeat on October 31 as Parliament voted that Britain should aim to negotiate a real cut in the European Union’s budget. Prime Minister David Cameron had originally intended to push for a freeze in spending.

The amendment, tabled by Conservative MP Mark Reckless, was passed by 307 to 294 as Conservative Euroskeptics teamed up with the Labor Party. This is the British equivalent of Tea Party Republicans aligning with Democrats.

The vote marks a significant shift for Labor, which in recent years has wanted more Europe. At the last long-term budget negotiations in 2005, Labor significantly increased the amount of money Britain sends to the EU.

Some accuse Labor of political opportunism. But even if that is true, its reversal shows how much the public opinion has shifted against the EU.

In an article outlining its position, Labor’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander made clear that they still wanted Britain to be a leader in Europe. But if they see public opinion to continue to shift against Europe, that attitude may change too. It would not be unprecedented. Labor led the opposition to the EU when Britain joined.

Even Mr. Cameron doesn’t advocate a spending freeze because he supports the EU getting its current amount of money. With the European Parliament and European Commission demanding a budget increase of €200 billion over the next seven years, Mr. Cameron believes that an increase in line with inflation is merely the best deal Britain can realistically get.

Parliament’s vote is not binding—Mr. Cameron is free to negotiate whatever he feels is the best deal from Britain. But it makes it much harder for him to compromise. If he comes back with anything less than a real term freeze on the EU’s budget, he will be a laughing stock.

The tough line taken by Parliament pits Britain against much of the EU. Mr. Cameron has vowed to veto anything other than a freeze in spending. The French say that they’ll veto anything that cuts their sacred Common Agricultural Policy. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel isn’t a fan of increased spending, but her biggest priority is to get a quick deal so she can go on to focus on Europe’s bigger problems. Britain has allies among the Scandinavian countries.

The budget talks, scheduled for November 22, seem set to end in failure. They expose how bitterly divided Europe is, and that the EU will never be able to quickly and effectively make decisions. The talks also expose how much Britain’s political landscape has changed. Watch for Britain’s drift away from Europe to continue.

Nearly Half of British Parents Split Before Their Child Turns 15

Nearly Half of British Parents Split Before Their Child Turns 15

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Britain recognizes its family problems, but cannot fix them.

Forty percent of British 10-year-olds do not live with both parents, according to data released by the Department of Work and Pensions on October 31.

Eighty percent of children are born to parents living together. By the time they turn 15, only 55 percent of children live with both parents, according to data from 2009 to 2010.

The number of children in Britain being brought up by unmarried couples has doubled since 1996, according to another set of figures released by the Office of National Statistics on November 1. The number of opposite-sex cohabiting couples rose from 1.5 million to 2.9 million. The number of children living with these couples rose from 900,000 to 1.8 million. Cohabitation is now the fastest-growing family type in Britain, while the number of married couples bringing up children has fallen by 12 percent.

In 1996, roughly three out of four children were brought up by married parents. Now, it is three out of five. Marriage is still the dominant family structure: 12.2 million out of Britain’s 18.2 million families consisted of married couples.

The managing director of think tank Center for Social Justice (csj), Christian Guy, said, “These figures revealing growing levels of family instability and breakdown, which should raise alarm.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who founded the csj, announced plans to measure the success of social policy by how it helps families, education and employment. Family, he said is “the most important building block in a child’s life.”

“When families are strong and stable, so are children—showing higher levels of well being and more positive outcomes,” he said. “But when things go wrong—either through family breakdown or a damaged parental relationship—the impact on a child’s later life can be devastating.”

But one word was completely absent from Smith’s speech: “marriage.” Smith has been an outspoken supporter of marriage. But in a speech about the importance of strong and stable families, he didn’t mention it once. Britain’s politically correct establishment raises an outcry every time someone in government like Smith tries to stand up for marriage.

The British government is beginning to wake up to the fact that family problems are at the heart of its social problems. But Britain still doesn’t know how to fix its families. Until people are willing to talk about marriage, and the different roles of a husband and wife, these problems will continue. A traditional, Bible-based family is the only way to fix Britain’s social problems.

China Tests New Stealth Fighter

China Tests New Stealth Fighter

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Thursday afternoon, hours after photos of China’s stealth fighter hit the Internet, a video emerged depicting the prototype stealth fighter in flight.

Ross Babbage of Australia’s Kokoda Foundation said the flight test demonstrates an impressive capability on the part of the Chinese industry. “It’s a very interesting development. It shows how rapidly they’re moving ahead,” he said.

Analyst David Axe agreed with that assessment, saying the flight was “a huge leap forward for China’s ambitious stealth warplane program.” But, he continued, “there are still more questions than answers about China’s second stealth fighter model.”

The radar-avoiding aircraft was accompanied on its test flight by two Chinese-made J-11 fighters. The video is available here.

Developing a stealth fighter-intercept plane was not an easy milestone for Beijing to cross. “The technical barriers and development costs for such aircraft are enormous,” the Associated Press said.

China remains largely reliant on Russia for engines for its latest J-10, J-11 and J-15 models, but Moscow is happy to supply Beijing with this technology. Watch for these Eastern giants to continue making military strides, and to continue cooperation with each other toward that end.

To understand why these trends matter, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

EU Plans to Mobilize 200 Military Personnel to Train Malian Army

EU Plans to Mobilize 200 Military Personnel to Train Malian Army

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The European Union is considering sending 200 troops to train Mali’s frail army to stand up to the well-armed militia groups and terrorists that are threatening stability in North Africa and Europe.

“We are currently working on a number of plans, including how to guarantee that there is a republican, credible army” in Mali, said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on October 26.

In the wake of March’s military coup—Africa’s 117th “successful” coup—a weakening government in Mali lost control of the northern desert region the size of France to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (aqim). aqim is linked to the U.S. Consulate terrorist attacks in Libya. It is feared that Mali is becoming a safe haven for terrorists in a manner akin to Somalia and Afghanistan. According to the Wall Street Journal, a senior EU official said on Tuesday that the region in northern Mali is now “an ungoverned zone” that is “completely out of control.” The official went on to claim that the threat this chaos poses to the EU is “fairly direct.”

The European Union has considered three scenarios of intervention in Mali. One is to help with mere training of the Malian Army. The other is to provide training as well as help with restructuring the Malian Army with technical, logistical and financial support. The third scenario would involve EU troops joining Malian troops in combat. Member states, however, are unwilling to risk their troops in combat and would prefer to help train and restructure Mali’s army. Another EU official estimates that a team of 200 trainers would be deployed along with its own security force of the same size. Combat troops would be supplied by Mali’s army and the Economic Community of West African States.

Our article “Germany’s Mali Mission” last week noted that “Europe’s window of opportunity to tackle radical Islam is closing quickly.” Not wanting to see another Libya, the EU is acting swiftly to establish a presence in North Africa and confront Islamist militias. As the threat of radical Islam continues to rise, and as stability in North Africa and the Middle East continues to deteriorate, watch for more decisive European involvement in the region.

Shootings, Stabbings and Stampeding at Halloween Parties

In the early hours of Thursday morning, a man attending a Halloween party in Miami, Florida, stabbed four other men, critically wounding three of them. One victim went into cardiac arrest at the crime scene, but rescue workers were able to revive him.

A few hours earlier, three people were shot in a crowd of Halloween revelers in Hollywood, California. Aerial footage showed at least three men being taken into custody after the attack.

Meanwhile, officials in Los Angeles said four people were shot and wounded during a Halloween party on the campus of the University of Southern California campus.

In Madrid, Spain, three women aged 18 to 25 were crushed to death in a stampede at a Halloween party around 4 a.m. on Thursday. Another female partygoer was critically injured in the mayhem.

Days earlier, at an early Halloween party on the morning of October 27, two men, 20 and 21 years old, were shot and killed in a rented cabin just outside of Clarksville, Tennessee.

The Halloween holiday wears the disguise of frivolity and games, but its origins are dark and perverse. All Saints’ Day and its eve—All Hallows Eve, or Halloween—actually embodies the worship of Samhain—or Satan.

True Christianity stands for the exact opposite of death and darkness—it stands for light and life (John 1:4-5). No matter how much of a joke we try to make it out to be, Halloween is Satan worship. The tragedy that befell so many Halloween revelers this year reveals the dangers surrounding the holiday.

To understand the grim details of Halloween’s true origins, read “Halloween: Worshiping the Lord of the Dead.”