NORMANDY, France – Grim news.
Many thanks to all friends and readers who wondered about our safety on Friday.
As it happened, news of the Paris massacre got to the homeland faster than it got to us. We were already driving out of town when the terrorists attacked. We did not find out about it until we checked in on the markets.
“Paris attacks” were blamed for a 203-point drop for the Dow, we discovered.
Later, we read the details. The War on Terror is in its 14th year. There is no sign of victory for either side.
And now we see the familiar pattern. The body count went up. The flags went down. The fever mounts.
“We shouldn’t have let them into our country,” said an outraged neighbor.
“Muslims. They want to kill us. Their religion tells them to do it. We have to defend ourselves. But President Hollande only talks of war. He doesn’t make war.”
“War is the health of the state,” wrote Randolph Bourne. Today, French shoulders slump and hearts ache. But the French feds have rarely felt better: France is at war.
Hollande last made international news by sneaking out of the presidential mansion on a motor scooter to visit his mistress. Now, he’s able to strike a more leader-like pose.
He has declared a “merciless” war against terrorists and has called out a further 1,000 soldiers to patrol Paris and its suburbs. (There are now about 5,000 soldiers in total on patrol in the capital.)
Paris is locked down. Borders are secured (although one of the terrorists apparently got through to Belgium). And then France’s war planes were started up and sent to bomb Raqqa, in northern Syria – the Islamic State stronghold where French security services believe the massacre was planned.
A Smallish Affair
As massacres go, the Paris massacre was a smallish affair.
The My Lai Massacre, by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, left more than 350 Vietnamese men, women, and children dead. (Its chief perpetrator, Lt. William Calley, got three and a half years of house arrest for his role. Now, he lives in comfort in Atlanta, Georgia.)
The Soviet secret police, the NKVD, massacred as many as 22,000 Poles in the Katyn Forest in 1940… supposedly to eliminate the Polish “intellectuals” who might oppose the Soviet occupation.
In 1944, a Waffen-SS company massacred 642 men, women, and children in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in Nazi-occupied France… including 205 children. The exact cause was never discovered.
And in 1572, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, in which French Catholic mobs cut down Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), produced about 3,000 corpses in Paris and as many as 70,000 across France.
Pope Gregory XIII was delighted. He had three frescoes painted in the Sala Regina in the Vatican to commemorate the great event. The room is now closed to the public.
Sometimes Bad, Sometimes Good
What leads people to massacre one another?
What sets them off?
Envy, hatred, fear – the usual base emotions?
Psychologists blamed the My Lai Massacre on “prolonged fear.” It supposedly caused American soldiers to crack up.
The Catholic violence against the Huguenots in France was part of the religious wars that rocked Europe in the 16th century. But the Catholic mob was stirred to action, according to some accounts, by particular circumstances: Harvests had been poor. Food was expensive. Taxes were heavy.
And there, in their midst, were rich Protestants in all their finery, who had come to celebrate the marriage of Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, to Henry of Navarre, a Huguenot.
Our Diary dictum: People are sometimes bad and sometimes good, but always subject to influence.
War, as near as we can tell, is always a dangerous influence.
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[Editor’s Note: Tech expert Jeff Brown is getting ready to launch a new investment advisory – Exponential Tech Investor – that’ll help you profit from game-changing innovations. Below, he identifies an exciting area of breakthrough technology.]
The asteroid mining business just got very interesting…
Washington just provided a major boon for two revolutionary companies I’m passionate about. The Senate passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015.
Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries are building the technology and infrastructure to mine metals and water from asteroids. The new law means they get to keep whatever they mine.
Before we get there, though, billions of dollars of investment will be required. That’s why the new act is so important.
Before its passage, it was not clear that companies would own whatever materials they mined. But now that that’s cleared up, the payoff could be unimaginable.
Consider this: A single 500-meter asteroid can contain more platinum group metals than have ever been mined in human history.
Imagine one “space rock” being worth more than $1 trillion. Now, you see why there is so much interest in building this new industry.
Asteroid mining will become a multitrillion-dollar industry… and many billionaires will be made as a result.
Recent discoveries from unmanned space exploration in our solar system have stimulated new interest in manned missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
One of the biggest obstacles to manned space travel is water. It is heavy. So it is extremely expensive to transport from Earth into orbit.
Water is necessary for human life. But it can also be processed into hydrogen for rocket fuel.
“C-type” asteroids are rich in water and will be targeted for mining water. This will dramatically lower the cost of getting spaceships into Earth’s orbit.
Due to the massive amounts of capital required to build the kind of equipment needed to mine in space, these fledgling companies will almost certainly access the public markets via stock offerings to raise capital.
Not only will this create incredible investment opportunities for tech investors, it will allow us all to take part in the future of space exploration.
P.S. If you want to be among the first to learn about my top picks for breakthrough tech stocks on the verge of exponential gains, follow this link.
Why Index Investing Beats Stock Picking
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In a new study by Vanguard Group founder Jack Bogle projects U.S. stocks to gain about 6% over the next decade. Bonds figure to make half as much, 3%. And that’s before you account for inflation…
There’s 20 Times More Bad Debt in the Markets than in 2008
In 2008, about $1 trillion in bad mortgage debt brought down the financial markets. Today’s, there’s more than $23 trillion in potential bad debt sloshing around… and when it goes bad, the effect will be catastrophic.
Today, some feedback on Bill’s issue about Armistice Day.
There is no writer I enjoy more than Bill Bonner and his discerning observations on life’s grand circus. I’ve been reading and appreciating him for years.
Over time, I’ve noticed his pen gets razor sharp when he comments on our military men and women. I recognize his basic theme is the stupidity of our wars and those who initiate them. I’m a veteran who mostly agrees with that theme.
However, I offer this observation…
On Thursday, Bill wrote the following: “Americans stop to say ‘thank you for your service’ to military men… generously not asking what purpose it served.”
Think about that statement. How is it generous to the young man who joined up and served his country to not ask, “Can you explain to me what service you think you provided?”
The quoted comment from the Thursday message is mean-spirited in its concept. Basically, it says, “I could insult you and your service if I wanted to, but in my generosity, I won’t stick it in and twist it.”
Love your books and your letters, Bill, but you can be an arrogant snob when the mood takes you. It would be much more honest to simply say to a veteran who served, “Welcome home, brother.”
That would not be hypocritical or disingenuous to say, would it?
– Jim H
I just want to thank Bill for the Canadian slant in today’sDiary.
During the Great War, a nation of 8 million built an army of 630,000, of which an estimated 65,000 never came home. Canadians rallied behind the flag, the empire, and their allies… only to lay the foundations of a greater war 21 years later.
Those who fought in the Great War are no longer with us. And those who fought in WWII will not be with us much longer.
To quote Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
May we never forget the hard lessons that were paid with the blood of so many to give us the freedom and liberties that we casually take for granted today.
– Richard J.
“Today, historians still debate the reasons for World War I. Americans stop to say ‘thank you for your service’ to military men… generously not asking what purpose it served.”
As a veteran of the Vietnam debacle, I thank you for your comment. I tolerate the “thank you” politely from people who don’t know better. But as you say, the “Why were we there?” goes unasked.
Perhaps it is too painful of a question to ask… to begin to understand the depth of the lie is to go down a road from which there is no return.
– Al S.
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In Case You Missed It…
There’s a looming crisis in the bond market. And our colleagues at Stansberry Research believe they’ve found the solution.
Read up on it here…