Get out the way: Russian warplanes land on highway as part of tactical drill

Get out the way: Russian warplanes land on highway as part of tactical drill (VIDEO)

Russia's military turned a highway into a runway for its fighter jets and bombers so that pilots could train landing on unprepared surfaces. Traffic on a federal highway in Russia’s Rostov region was temporarily halted for the tactical flight training of the mixed aviation unit of the army Air Force and Air Defense of the Southern Military District.

Pilots of the of Sukhoi Su-30M2 fighters jets and Su-34 bombers took part in the drill, landing their massive aircraft on an 18-meter-wide asphalt road, the country's military announced. Due to the difficult weather conditions, the landings were carried out via a conveyer method, without the warplanes performing a full stop on the ground.

The jets and bombers also carried out an aerial battle with a simulated enemy and performed complex aerobatics. The forces protecting the runway repelled an attack from an adversary, while a Ka-27 helicopter was involved in a rescue mission as part of the exercise.

‘Very possible’ that N. Korea crisis can’t be resolved peacefully – Trump

‘Very possible’ that N. Korea crisis can’t be resolved peacefully – Trump

It's “very possible” the standoff with North Korea might not be resolved peacefully, Donald Trump has said in an exclusive interview with Reuters, and that he is not sure if talks will lead to “anything meaningful.” “I’d sit down, but I‘m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,” Trump said.

“I am not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful” since they have been going on for 25 years now. The remarks come after Trump’s statement earlier in January, in which he said he is “absolutely” willing to talk on the phone to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if certain conditions are met. Tensions with Pyongyang have escalated dramatically since Trump came to power in January last year, with many threats, incendiary rhetoric and provocative military maneuvers characterizing the abrasive exchanges between the two nuclear-armed leaders. During the interview, the US president also had harsh words for Russia with regards to the situation on the Korean peninsula. Trump accused Moscow of being soft on Pyongyang and not doing enough to implement the UN agreed sanctions. While supporting the UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea, Moscow has repeatedly advised that the US should take a more moderate approach towards Pyongyang and follow a diplomatic route. Trump and Kim have repeatedly threatened one another with a nuclear strike, with the US commander in chief once tweeting that his nuclear button was “much bigger & more powerful one than his [Kim's], and my Button works!”

Speaking from the Oval Office, Trump told Reuters that he still not ruling out military action. “We’re playing a very, very hard game of poker and you don’t want to reveal your hand,” he said. Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry criticized the joint US-Canadian organized summit trying to resolve the the N.Korean quandry. Moscow said the nations present in Vancouver failed to provide any alternatives to the joint Russian-Chinese “double-freeze” strategy, in which Pyongyang and the US respectively cease their missile program and military maneuvers. Neither Russia nor China were invited to the summit, where Washington again rejected the so-called double-freeze proposal. US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said Tuesday that it's Washington’s aggressive foreign policy – agitating for regime change around the world – that's lead to the tense situation with North Korea. “Regime change war policy is the reason why North Korea sees nuclear weapons as their only deterrent from a US-led attack,” she tweeted. “Kim Jong-un sees what the US has done to Gaddafi in Libya, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and the effort underway to decertify the nuclear deal with Iran,” the Democratic representative from Hawaii said.

"Yesterday Never Happened" - Stocks Stage Furious Melt-Up , Crypto-Crash Stalls

Today was The Dow's biggest point gain since the election - to a new record high above 26,100 (NOTE again that VIX ended the day higher - more call-buying?)

After the biggest reversal in 2 years, stocks exploded higher today (even with an opening dip)... (just look at the linear nature of the ramp higher... does that look human to anyone? Smells like automated buybacks being spread)

Trannies and Small Caps remain red on the week. Futures show the chaotic trading this week, another overnight ramp, opening dump...

AAPL ran weekly stops on its headlines, then dropped, then ripped vertically to the highs of the day...

Facebook briefly went red for 2018 today...

Semiconductor stocks exploded most since the election today with SOX breaking to a new record high...

New California declares 'independence' from California in bid to become 51st state


The founders of New California took an early step toward statehood Monday with the reading of their own Declaration of Independence from California, a state they describe as "ungovernable." Their solution: Take over most of current-day California — including many rural counties — and leave the coastal urban areas to themselves. "The current state of California has become governed by a tyranny," the group, led in part by vice chairman Robert Paul Preston, declared in a document published online. The split would look something like this, per the group:

"After years of over taxation, regulation, and mono-party politics the State of California and many of it’s 58 Counties have become ungovernable," the group said in a statement, citing a "decline in essential basic services" including education, law enforcement, infrastructure and health care.

The group, organized with a council of county representatives and various committees, hopes to model their split after the state of West Virginia. That's according to CBS, whose Sacramento affiliate filmed the reading in a sparsely filled conference room. Claiming the authority of Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the aspiring 51st state plans to convince California's Legislature to split the state before submitting the resolution to Congress. The effort remains, to be clear, a long shot. A California venture capitalist named Tim Draper sought in 2014 to split the Golden State into six parts, including the "State of Silicon Valley." It failed to make the ballot. New California's work with regular California's state Legislature won't likely start in earnest until later this year or early next year, organizers told CBS. “We have to demonstrate that we can govern ourselves before we are allowed to govern,” Tom Reed, a founder, told the network.

Pope Francis: “I am truly afraid” of nuclear war.

Pope Francis again threw the spotlight on the real risk of a devastating nuclear war, when asked by a journalist on the flight from Rome to Santiago on Jan. 15, whether he was really afraid of a nuclear war. He admitted frankly: “Yes, I am truly afraid. We are at the limit. An accident is sufficient.” He went on to repeat the call for the abolition of nuclear arms that he has made on other occasions. “We cannot precipitate the situation. We must eliminate nuclear arms,” the pope said. Last November at a Vatican conference on nuclear weapons, Pope Francis said the possession of such arms is immoral. Today, he revealed his own fear that such a catastrophe could happen, even by accident.

The question was sparked by the fact that soon after takeoff, at the pope’s instruction, the Vatican press officer, Greg Burke, distributed to each of the 70 journalists on the plane a photo of a young Japanese boy carrying his dead brother on his back, waiting for his turn at the crematorium in Nagasaki, after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the city in 1945. Francis commented on the photo and said, “I wanted it printed and given to you because an image moves [people] more than a thousand words.” He went on to thank the journalist traveling with him for the work they would do in Chile and Peru over the next week and then, as is his custom, he moved through the plane to greet each one individually. When he greeted Franca Giansoldati, the reporter for Il Messagero, the Rome daily that he reads, she asked him directly, “Are you really afraid of a nuclear war?” He responded frankly: “Yes, I am truly afraid. We are truly at the limit. An accident is sufficient.”

Francis arrived at the airport in Santiago, the capital of Chile, 30 minutes ahead of schedule, after a more than 14-hour flight from Rome. The president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, members of her government and the president of the Chilean bishops’ conference welcomed Francis when he stepped off the plane. After a brief welcome ceremony, at which a young girl sang for him, the pope drove through the city to the nunciature, as Chileans lined the streets and cheered him enthusiastically. On arrival at the nunciature he greeted women and children in the large crowd that had gathered outside. He will reside there for the three nights of his visit.

Pope Francis will travel south to Temuco to meet the Mapuche native people on Jan. 17 and celebrate Mass there. He will go north to Iquique on Jan 18, where he will celebrate Mass and speak on the plight of immigrants in the country. From Iquique, he will travel to Lima, the capital of Peru. Tomorrow morning, Francis will pay a courtesy visit to the president at La Moneda Palace, the presidential residence in Santiago, and there he will address the country’s political and civic leaders and the diplomatic corps. Afterward, he will drive to O’Higgins Park where he will celebrate his first Mass in Peru for hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands who will have come from his native Argentina.

Steve Bannon 'called to testify before grand jury as part of Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation'

Steve Bannon

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has reportedly been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The move marked a new tenor to the investigation – the first time a grand jury subpoena was used to compel a top member of the Trump team to testify – even as Mr Trump’s lawyers insisted the special counsel’s probe was winding down. The New York Times said Mr Mueller had summoned Mr Bannon last week, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter. It was unclear, however, whether Mr Bannon will be forced to testify.

The subpoena may have been a negotiating tactic to convince Mr Bannon to sit down with Mr Mueller for a less-formal interview in the special counsel’s offices, legal experts said. A grand jury testimony is usually more taxing for the witness, as the entire proceedings are transcribed and the witness is required to answer every question. Mr Bannon’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.

News of the subpeona came as Mr Bannon, who served as the Trump campaign director before his seven-month stint as chief strategist, testified before the House Intelligence Committee, which is also probing the campaign’s ties to Russia. It also comes on the heels of a public rift between Mr Bannon and the President, after the former strategist criticised the Trump administration to the author of a tell-all book on the White House. Mr Bannon was quoted in the book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, as calling a meeting between Trump campaign staff and a Russian lawyer “treasonous”. Mr Bannon was not present at the meeting, nor during the drafting of the President’s misleading statement on this issue – both of which are reportedly of interest to Mr Mueller. He was also not present for the controversial firing of Mr Trump’s former FBI director, James Comey.

Mr Trump responded to the book by distancing himself from Mr Bannon, claiming his former top adviser had little to do with the administration or the campaign’s victory. Mr Bannon stepped down from his role as chief executive of Breitbart News shortly thereafter. Mr Bannon was present for several controversial moments in the Trump administration, including the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he misled the Vice President about his dealings with Russia. The special counsel previously issued a grand jury subpoena for documents related to Mr Flynn’s business dealings. Mr Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Other than Mr Bannon, no member of Mr Trump’s inner circle has been called to testify before the grand jury, which was impanelled in August. Mr Mueller’s team has already interviewed Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, his former chief of staff, Reince Preibus, and his former press secretary, Sean Spicer. The special counsel is reportedly preparing to interview Mr Trump as well. Asked last week if he would sit down for an interview with Mr Mueller, the President replied simply: “We’ll see what happens.”

Bitcoin crashes to 6-week low as regulator crackdown escalates

Bitcoin crashes to 6-week low as regulator crackdown escalates

The price of top digital currency bitcoin dipped below $12,000 on Tuesday for the first time since December 5, following reports of a further crackdown on the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin slumped by almost 15 percent, trading at $11,816 as of 10:30am GMT. The cryptocurrency’s market capitalization currently stands at around $198 billion.

Other virtual currencies including ethereum and ripple have also dipped significantly. Ethereum was trading at $1,090, down more than 18 percent in the last 24 hours; while ripple fell by almost 26 percent to $1.37 per token. Regulators across the globe, in countries including China, India, Brazil and South Korea, have been warning investors about the risks of trading in cryptocurrencies. According to recent reports, authorities in China are planning to block domestic access to Chinese and offshore cryptocurrency platforms that allow centralized trading. Regulators will also target people and companies that provide market-making, settlement and clearing services for centralized trading. Bitcoin users in India have been facing difficulties with deposits and withdrawals after the country’s banks blocked all crypto-trading. Last month, the Indian Income Tax Department raided bitcoin exchanges across the country, seeking to identify cryptocurrency traders. The raids were conducted because of alleged tax evasion by exchange customers.

“The pullback seems to be coming from a lack of buyers in Asia,” Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at eToro, told CNBC. “Japan and South Korea usually dominate this market but over the last few days, the volumes have been dropping steadily. This morning the combined volumes from these two countries dropped below 30 percent,” he said.