Saturday, July 26, 2014

KO, PEP, OHI, O, GE/Bought 100 BTZ at $13.7-Roth IRA/Sold Roth IRA: 100 ZTR at $14.43/Cascades Bond Redemption/Sold Taxable Accounts: 100 CDZ:CA at C$26.24, 100 FDL at $23.82. 100 EWS at $13.68, 100 EWM at $16.17, 100 ASEA at $17.14, 50 PIE at $18.95

Closing Prices 7/25/14:
S & P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 (-0.48%)
VIX: 12.69 +0.85 (+7.18%) : VOLATILITY S&P 500  (stable vix pattern)
DJIA: 16,960.57 -123.23 (-0.72%)
Nasdaq Composite: 4,449.56 -22.54 (-0.50%)
Russell 2000 1,144.72 -11.54 (-1.00%)

TLT: $115.67 +1.35 (+1.18%) : iShares 20 Year Treasury Bond ETF
LQD: $119.46 +0.46 (+0.39%) : iShares Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF
JNK: $41.19 -0.10 (-0.25%) : SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF
MUB: $109.03 +0.17 (+0.16%) : iShares National AMT-Free Municipal Bond ETF

VNQ: $76.03 -0.53 (-0.69%) : Vanguard REIT ETF (negative correlation with investment grade bonds)
KRE: 39.12 +0.03 (+0.08%) : SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF
XLK: $39.70 -0.07 (-0.18%) : SPDR Select Sector Fund - Technology ETF
VWO: $44.88 -0.20 (-0.44%) : Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets  ETF

Big Picture Synopsis:


Stable Vix Pattern (Bullish)
Use of the VIX as a Timing Model
Short Term: Market Needs a 15%+ Correction
Intermediate Term: Slightly Bullish
Long Term: Bullish

In an article published by Seeking Alpha, David Stockman argues that ZIRP has dismantled "the market's natural stability mechanisms" which deters "excessive financial gambling".  The result in his view is that the stock market has coiled "dangerously upward, divorced completely from the fundamentals of earnings and cash flow and real world economic conditions and prospects".

I view the foregoing statements to be hyperbole and an exaggeration. However, I would agree with Stockman's general thrust that six years of extremely abnormal central bank policies, including ZIRP, have caused investors to drive up the prices of risk assets including bonds and stocks.

Bonds are probably being mispriced more than stocks in my opinion, but stocks have become mostly unappealing to me over the short term with a few exceptions.

After reducing my stock allocation by $31,000+, the net additions between February and June, Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Stock and Stock Fund Update 6/6/14, I have now embarked on reducing the allocation by another $23,000+ (the net additions between October 2013 and February 2014: Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Stock an Stock Fund Update as of 2/28/14)
Short to Long Term: Slightly Bearish Based on Interest Rate Normalization
The Difficult Path to Interest Rate Normalization

The foregoing forecast is based on an average annual CPI rate of 2% to 2.25% over the next ten years. I am referring to the break-even spread for the 10 year TIP.   

Recent Developments:

CPI rose .3% in June on a seasonally adjusted basis and 2.1% over the past 12 months without seasonal adjustment. The rise in gasoline prices accounted for two-thirds of June's increase. Core CPI rose a less than expected .01% and is up 1.9% over the past year through June. Consumer Price Index Summary

Jobless claims fell to the lowest level since 2/18/06 for the week ending 7/19:

4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims-St. Louis Fed

The HSBC flash manufacturing PMI for China rose to 52 in July, a 18 month high. markit

Markit's manufacturing PMI for the U.S. was reported at 56.3:

The Commerce Department reported last Thursday that new home sales fell 4.9% during the first six months compared to last year. WSJ Sales of new single family homes fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000 in June 2014 or 11.5% below the the June 2013 rate. This is disconcerting.

New home sales continue to hover near prior recession lows hit in 1970, 1974, 1982 and 1991:

New One Family Houses Sold: United States-St. Louis Fed

The new home sales may be one of the bears' better data points.

Coca Cola (own):

The Coca-Cola Company reported non-GAAP E.P.S. of $.64, beating the consensus estimate by 1 cent per share. Revenues declined by 1%. However, excluding structural changes, currency neutral net revenues grew 3%. Currency conversions continue to be a headwind for KO. Worldwide sparkling beverage volume grew 2% during the quarter. Still beverage volume increased by 5%. Still beverages include tea, water, sports drinks and juices.

Year-to-date cash from operations was $4.5B. The company expects that bottling transaction completed in 2013 would have a 1 to 2 point headwind on net revenues and an approximate 3 point headwind on operating income this year, up from a prior estimate of a 1% unfavorable impact on both revenues and operating income. A slightly lower tax rate than previously expected will partially offset the foregoing headwind, with the net result being about a 2 cent unfavorable impact to comparable E.P.S.

Earnings Call Transcript | Seeking Alpha

I view KO shares to be outside of a fair value range and have consequently ceased purchasing more shares with my dividend payments. I also simply do not want to own more shares.

I currently own 265+ shares at an average cost per share of $25.41. (snapshot in introduction section at KO)

The market reacted negatively to this report:

Closing Price 7/22/14: KO: $41.19 -$1.21 (-2.85%)

Closing Price 7/25/14: KO: $41.00 +0.03 (+0.07%)


Cascades Bond Redemption: 

The Canadian corporation Cascades, Inc. redeemed my 7.75% senior unsecured note at a 3.875% premium to its par value.

Bought 1 Cascades 7.75% Senior Bond Maturing on 12/15/2017 at 96.5 (9/1/11 Post)

Snapshot of Profit:

Cascades raised the funds necessary for this redemption by selling a 5.5% senior note maturing in 2022.

This is just one example among thousands where corporations are using the FED's Jihad Against the Savings Class to refinance existing bonds at much lower coupons while also extending the maturities.

Pepsico (own): 

PepsiCo reported adjusted earnings of $1.32 per share, nine cents better than the consensus estimate. Snack revenues grew 5% on a currency neutral basis, better than the 2% rise for beverages. The company raised its 2014 adjusted E.P.S. growth rate to 8% from 7% (currency neutral terms). Carbonated beverage sales declined 2% in North America with non-carbonated beverages increasing by 1% (e.g. Gatorade, Tropicana) Exclusive of currency impacts, PEP realized 8% Y-O-Y organic revenue gains in developing and emerging markets.

Earnings Call Transcript | Seeking Alpha

The market responded favorably to this report:

Closing Price on 7/23/14: PEP: $90.82 +1.65 (+1.85%)

Closing Price 7/25/14: PEP: $91.55 -0.36 (-0.39%)

I viewed the report with less enthusiasm.

I am not reinvesting the dividend.

Bought 50 PEP at $78.25 (2/25/14 Post)

Omega Healthcare (own):

Omega reported 2nd quarter FFO of $79.7M or $.63 per share. AFFO was reported at $.69 per share, up from $.62 in the 2013 third quarter. The company raised its 2014 AFFO guidance to a range between $2.82 to $2.85 and its 2014 Funds Available for Distribution guidance to a range between $2.58 to $2.51. Revenues rose 18.8% Y-O-Y to $121.8M vs. a consensus estimate of $96.5M.

I am not reinvesting the dividend.

Bought: 100 OHI at $29.85 (12/23/13 Post)

Closing Price 7/25/14: OHI: $37.93 -0.54 (-1.40%)

Realty Income (own): 

Realty Income reported that FFO per share increased 6.7% to $.64 compared to the 2013 second quarter. AFFO per share rose 8.5% to $.64 per share. Portfolio occupancy stood at 98.2%. Same store rents increased by 1.4%. Guidance for 2014 AFFO per share was given in a range between $2.55 to $2.57, an increase of 5.8% to 6.6% over 2013.

Realty Income's share price is currently outside of my fair value range for a purchase. I considered selling the shares when the price went over $45 but decided to hang onto them for now. I would anticipate a slow and steady increase in the dividend over time. Realty Income Common Stock Dividend History

The purchases of Omega and Realty Income were part of a sector rotation into REIT stocks which started last September. I am not reinvesting the dividend.

Item # 6 Bought: 100 Realty Income (O) at $36.96 (December 2013 Post)

Closing Price 7/25/14: O: $44.69 -0.03 (-0.07%)

General Electric (own):

In last week's post, I noted the weakness in GE's stock price. The price has now fallen below the 200 day SMA line: GE Interactive Chart Some of the reasons for this downdraft are discussed by analysts, whose opinions are summarized in this article.

I am in a hold pattern for my 531+ shares (average cost per share near $20), which means that I am neither a buyer nor a seller. The 2014 E.P.S. consensus estimate is currently $1.68 for 2014 and $1.83 for 2014. At a $25.8 price, the P/E is about 15.35 based on the 2014 estimate and 14.1 on the 2014 estimate.

I am not reinvesting the dividend:

Closing Price 7/25/14: GE: $25.79 -0.15 (-0.58%)


In this post, I am highlighting the stock fund dispositions that resulted in a $31,000+ net reduction in my stock allocation, when added to the ones previously discussed, the approximate increase in the stock allocation which occurred between between February and June 2014. I started this pairing process after performing this analysis in June: Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Stock and Stock Fund Update 6/6/14 I did not intend to add to my allocation. I am keeping track on a weekly basis now the dollar amounts of my buys and sells.

This reduction has been ongoing since early June 2014, so it took about one month. All of these funds may be bought back at lower prices. None are viewed as core stock fund positions and all have previously been bought and sold as trades. These kind of ETFs are used as a source of funds when I decide to reduce my stock allocation after a buildup.

1. Sold 100 ZTR at $14.43-Roth IRA (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade: 

Snapshot of History:

Total Dividends: $105.6

Snapshot of Profit: 
Total Return: $252.68 or 19.6% (holding period about 1 year)

Security Description: The Zweig Total Return Fund (ZTR) is a balanced CEF.

Data From Date of Trade (7/8/14)
Closing Net Asset Value Per Share: $15.82
Closing Market Price: $14.4
Discount: -8.99%
CEFConnect Page for ZTR

Sponsor's website: Closed-End Fund Detail | Virtus Investment Partners

Quarterly Report 3/31/14: Zweig Total Return Fund 

Total Realized Gains: $345.6 plus dividends

Rationale: I am de-risking my IRA accounts and reducing my overall stock allocation. This fund's bond allocation is weighted in very low yielding treasuries. 

I do not view those low yielding securities as providing meaningful income generation. And, the owners of ZTR are paying a management fee (about 1%) to own those low yielders. ZTR Possibly, if the managers traded those securities, harvesting the current profit, I would be more favorably inclined toward such a 20+% weighting, but I suspect that the managers will hold to maturity. I check the holdings in a September 2012 report and found the same treasuries, ZWEIG TOTAL RETURN, owned in the same amounts.

Future Buys: I may come back to this CEF after a significant correction resulting in a decline below my purchase price of $12.82 for this lot.

Closing Price Last Friday: ZTR: $14.37 -0.01 (-0.07%)

2. Sold 100 EWS at $13.68-Satellite Taxable Account (see Disclaimer): 

Snapshot of Trade:

Snapshot of History:

Dividends: $44.96

Snapshot of Profit: 

2014 EWS 100 Shares +$44.45
Bought Back 100 EWS at $13.1 (12/17/13 Post) 

Total Return=$89.41 or 6.79% (holding period about 8 months)

This was not a satisfactory return given the time period. 

Total Trading Gains: $170.82

Security Description: The iShares MSCI Singapore Index Fund (EWS) is an ETF that owns stocks in a Singapore stock index. 

EWS Page at Morningstar

Rationale: Non-core stock ETFs are viewed as a source of funds when I am reducing my stock allocation.

If I increase my stock allocation in the coming weeks, I will more likely buy an individual stock based on valuation rather than a fund, though I may add a small number of shares in low cost international stock ETFs that can be bought commission free which makes dollar cost averaging with small lots economical.  

Future Buys: I am in a trading mode for this stock ETF and will consider buying it back after a 10%+ correction in price.

Closing Price Last Friday: EWS: $14.05 -0.09 (-0.60%) 

3. Sold 100 ASEA at $17.14 (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade:

Snapshot of Profit:

2014 ASEA 100 Shares +$41.07
Bought: 100 ASEA at $16.57 (5/31/14 Post)

Security Description: The Global X FTSE ASEAN 40 ETF (ASEA) tracks the 40 largest companies located in the ASEAN region: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Sponsor's webpage: Global X ASEAN 40 ETF - ASEA

Prior Trades: Item # 1 Bought 100 of the ETF ASEA at $17.09 (January 2013)-Item # 4 Sold 100 ASEA at $17.8 (April 2013)

Rationale: Non-core stock ETFs are always viewed as potential candidates for disposition when I decide to reduce my stock allocation.

Future Buys: I will consider repurchasing this security after a correction that drives the price below $16 per share.

Closing Price Last Friday: ASEA: $17.42 -0.11 (-0.61%)

4. Sold 100 EWM at $16.17 (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade:

2014 Sold 100 EWM at $16.17
Snapshot of Profit:

2014 100 EWM +$78.46
Item # 7 Bought: 100 EWM at $15.23 (1/20/14 Post)

Dividend Received:

Total Return: $104.91 or 6.85% (holding period about 6 months)

Security Description: The iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF (EWM) is an ETF that owns stocks based in Malaysia.

Sponsor's website: iShares MSCI Malaysia Index Fund (EWM): Overview - iShares

EWM Page at Morningstar

Prior Trades: I realized a $172.64 trading EWM in 2013: Item # 5 Sold 100 EWM at $16.01 (9/21/13 Post)-Item # 4 Bought Back 100 EWM at $15.29 (8/17/13 Post); Item # 1 Sold 100 EWM at $16.45 (May 2013)-Item # 1 Bought 100 of the ETF EWM at $15.23 (January 2013)

Rationale: Non-core ETFs are viewed as a potential candidate for disposition whenever I elect to reduce my stock allocation.

Future Buys: I am apparently in a trading mode for this security, content with small realized gains.

Closing Price Last Friday: EWM: $16.13 +0.04 (+0.25%)

5. Sold 50 PIE at $18.95 (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade:

2014 Sold 50 PIE at $18.95
Snapshot of Profit:

2014 Sold 50 PIE +$31.57
Item # 4 Bought:  50 PIE at $18 12/3/13 Post)

Security Description: The PowerShares DWA Emerging Markets Technical Leaders Fund (PIE) is a quant fund that uses a momentum based technical strategy to select emerging market stocks.

Sponsor's Website: DWA Emerging Markets Technical Leaders Portfolio

Prior Trades: Item # 4 Sold: 50 PIE at $18.75 (10/11/13 Post)-Item # 3 Bought Back PIE at $17.63 (July 2013)Sold 50 PIE @ $20.06 April 2013-Bought 50 PIE at $17.08Item # 2 Sold 150 PIE at $16.76 September 2010-Bought 50 PIE at $10.01 October 2008Bought 50 PIE at $14.04 (2/2010)

Rationale: In addition to simply reducing my stock allocation, this ETF was selected for disposition due to its poor price performance.

Future Buys: I am having difficulty earning a decent return on this one, so I may need a large downdraft in price for a possible re-entry.

Closing Price Last Friday: PIE: $19.01 -0.05 (-0.26%)

6. Sold 100 CDZ:CA at C$26.45 (Canadian Dollar (CAD) Strategy)(see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade:

2014 Sold 100 CDZ:CA at C$26.24  
Profit in CADs: C$460
Proceeds: C$2,605.
Cost: C$2,145

Cost C$2,145
Snapshot of Profit in USDs:

2014 Sold 100 CDZ-CA +USD$186.13
Bought 100 CDZ:CA at C$21.26

Security Description: The iShares S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index ETF (CDZ:TOR) is a Canadian ETF that owns Canadian dividend Aristocrats.

Prior Trade: Sold: 200 CDZ.TO @ 20.13 (Realized Gain: USD$285.19)-Bought 100 ETF CDZ:TO at 19.24 CADBought: 100 CDZ.TO @ 18.64 CAD

Total USD Realized Gains= $471.32 plus dividends

Rationale: I am hoping for a stock market correction and a potential re-entry point significantly lower than the current price. Due to the decline in the CAD/USD exchange rate during my ownership period, I realized a higher profit in CADs than in USDs. As a U.S. taxpayer, my taxable gains are computed in USDs rather than CADs.

Closing Price Last Friday: CDZ.TO: C$26.40 -0.05 (-0.19%)

7. Sold 100 FDL at $23.82 (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade:

2014 Sold 100 FDL at $23.82
Snapshot of Profit:

2014 Sold 100 FDL +$62.53
Bought 100 FDL at $23.04 (5/31/14 Post)

Snapshot of One Dividend Received:

Total Return: $81.82 (holding period about 1½ months)

Security Description: The First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders Index Fund (FDL) is an ETF that attempts to track, before fees and expenses, the Morningstar Dividend Leaders Index.

Sponsor's website: First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders Index Fund (FDL)

Rationale: This ETF was a recent add and was consequently viewed as a security that could be sold as part of my stock allocation reduction.

Closing Price Last Friday: FDL: $24.03 -0.10 (-0.41%)

8. Added 100 BTZ at $13.7-Roth IRA (see Disclaimer): Since I have not discussed any buys so far in this post, I decided to briefly mention this purchase, even though there are many other purchases and sales that have not yet been discussed occurring prior to this one. I recently noted that BTZ had been favorably mentioned in two financial articles: Morningstar and Barron's.

My most recent action was to sell shares in another Roth IRA account: Sold Roth IRA: 210+ BTZ at $13.62 (3/17/14 Post)(snapshot of profit=$128.85).

My last two purchases are discussed in these posts: Item # 3 Added 50 BTZ at $12.35 (8/31/13 Post)(snapshots of realized gains to that time=$413.8); Item # 4 Added 70 BTZ at $12.63 (7/13/13 Post)

The rationale and risks for this investment are discussed in those two posts. I am mostly concerned about interest rate risks and what I call normal risks associated with leveraged closed end bond funds particularly during periods of rising rates and/or market stress.

Snapshot of Trade: 

Snapshot of Vanguard Roth IRA Account BTZ History: 

I bought the first 100 share lot in this account back in December 2012. Initially, I elected to receive the dividends in cash. When interest rates started to rise last year, I switched to reinvestment and have thereafter been buying more shares with the monthly dividend payment.

The current monthly dividend rate is $.085 per share or $.966 annually. BlackRock Credit Allocation Income Trust (BTZ) Dividend Date & History - Assuming a continuation of that rate, which is in no way assured, the dividend yield would be about 7% at a total cost of $13.7 per share.

When owned in the Roth IRA, that yield becomes a tax free one.

CEFConnect Page for BTZ

Data on Date of Trade (7/21/14):
Closing Net Asset Value Per Share: $15.51
Closing Market Price: $13.67
Discount: -11.86%

Under the "Portfolio Characteristics" tab at CEFConnect, the fund is weighted in investment grade bonds but has a significant allocation to junk rated securities (as of 4/30/14: BB=21.7%; B=13.8%; CCC=2.7%)

Sponsor's Website: Credit Allocation Income Trust | BTZ (number of holdings as of 6/30/14=573; effective duration shown at 5.64 years-Get to know your bond fund: Duration| Vanguard)


Snapshot of Position in Taxable Account as of 7/21/14:

BTZ Taxable Account Position as of 7/21/14=361+ Shares Unrealized Gain +$204.45
I am no longer reinvesting the BTZ dividend paid into that taxable account.

I may sell those shares when and if I become even more concerned than now about a rise in rates. The inevitable rise in short term rates will result in an increase in borrowing costs for leveraged CEFs. If that occurs when intermediate and longer term rates are also rising, then the bonds owned by the fund will also be declining including those securities bought with borrowed funds. The discount to net asset value per share would likely be expanding too in that scenario (e.g. rates rising throughout the maturity spectrum), creating a triple whammy for owner's of leveraged bond CEFs. .

Closing Price Last Friday: BTZ: $13.72


Politics and Etc:

1. Russia and Korean Airlines Flight 007/USS Vincennes and Iran Air Flight 655: 

As a reminder, just in case anyone forgets about Russia's true nature, Putin gave a medal to the Soviet commander, Anatoly Kornukov, who ordered the murder of 269 civilians, including a U.S. congressman, aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 007 in 1983. Kornukov ordered the murder of those civilians even if it was confirmed that the plane was a civilian aircraft and its destruction occurred over international waters. Russia at first denied responsibility and interfered with efforts to recover the bodies. When confronted with incontrovertible evidence of its complicity, Russia claimed that its actions were justified since the civilian airline was a spy mission that apparently could not be carried out by satellites and reconnaissance aircraft specifically designed for that purpose.

The U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian aircraft in July 1988, Iran Air Flight 655, mistaking that aircraft for a F-14 Tomcat fighter which has no anti-ship capability at the time. Naval Science 302 The U.S. admitted that it shot down the aircraft and eventually paid reparations belatedly in 1996 after being sued in the International Court of Justice. The actions of the Captain and crew of the Vincennes were in my opinion negligent.Vincennes: A Case Study | U.S. Naval Institute This incident occurred near the end of the Iran–Iraq War, started by Saddam Hussein who later received support from the U.S. United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war There were Iranian attacks on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. An Iranian F-1 Mirage jet did attack a U.S. navy frigate, the USS Stark, in May 1987 killing 37 sailors.

2. Is Free Water a Constitutional Right?: I was struck by the protesters in Detroit, a city so messed up that it had to file for bankruptcy, who were complaining about water shutoffs for customers who refused to pay their water bill. Of 175,000 customers, Detroit has about 80,000 customers who owe $43M. The city had to raise water rates recently to those who pay their bills due to that widespread delinquency. The protesters believe that water is a human right that has to be provided free of charge or paid by taxes imposed on "Wall Street". MarketWatch 

After much observation for several decades, I have determined that freedom from responsibility must be a constitutional right in the U.S., perhaps embodied in one of the "penumbras" and "emanations" appearing between the lines of the Constitution and observed by the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut. After all, that freedom is so prevalent in modern day America. Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Freedom From Responsibility

The general predisposition is to tell the government what you want from it, either free of charge or heavily subsidized, and then the government borrows money to fund those wants and desires. Borrowing increases exponentially over time since an important corollary is that the citizens do not actually want to pay for what they receive because they are after all entitled to it because they exist. Freedom from responsibility is nurtured, encouraged and rewarded by the government.

3. Who Is the Daddy Show? I watch almost no TV. However, when I visit my mother who is attended 24/7 by caregivers, the TV is always on and my senses are bombarded by whatever passes for entertainment in the U.S. now.

One of those shows being watched probably has a name, but I simply call it "Who Is My Daddy Show". Women bring their child or children to the show and are joined by a man or men who might be the daddy. DNA tests are given to determine who is the Daddy. Sometimes, it is necessary for the woman to appear on several shows before the real Daddy is discovered. The behavior during the show is hardly reflective of our species best attributes.

4. Abortion and Birth Control: The Supreme Court's decision in Griswold struck down a law in Connecticut that made it unlawful to sell birth control. For many, and this never has made any sense to me, abortion and birth control are synonymous, and they are intent in imposing their beliefs on the rest of society with their usual amount of zealotry.

{In this connection, I would simply note that 46% of Americans believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old, CNN, and among those True Believers is none other than Mark Rubio who may just be our next President. The monument to their religious beliefs is the creation museum in Kentucky which shows Adam and Eve walking with the Dinosaurs, NYT; Creation Museum|Vanity Fair. Perhaps those TBs can be excused from science classes, obviously a waste of time that would be better spent learning the bible by heart and then reciting it with your head bobbing up and down. There are stories in the Bible justifying being stoned to death, and maybe an exception to murder can be made for such "honor killings" based on religious beliefs in the future. I came up with a list of possible offenses: BIBLE VERSES}

Recently, the "conservatives" on the Supreme Court struck down a provision in Obamacare that required employers to provide contraceptives in their insurance plans.

I was struck by signs carried by those outside the Court that basically equated contraception and abortion.

The purported rationale for the decision was that the state was interfering with the free exercise of religion by corporations.

The republicans later blocked action in the Senate that sought to remedy the problem. Senate GOP Blocks Bill -USA Today The powerful and large American Taliban wing of the GOP is dead set against it. I will be voting in the Republican primary here in Tennessee on 8/7. I will not be voting for the Tea Party candidates. I will cast a vote for Senator Lamar Alexander (R).

5. Putin TV: There is no free press in Russia. The media operates to further Putin's interests and those of his cronies. Frequently, the propaganda can only be labelled as so ridiculous that one has to wonder whether anyone is sufficiently stupid to swallow it. I believe that a clear majority of Russians accept Putin's reality creations and support his policies. A new Gallup Poll reflects that his approval rating in Russia has hit an all time high at 83%. NBC

Russian media is controlled by Putin, who operates with no checks and balances other than possibly from the KGB or the Russian military, and would never investigate for example Russian complicity in the shoot down of Malaysian Flight 17. Instead, CBS, Bloomberg and other media outlets report that Russian stations refer to Ukraine shooting down MH17 in a mistaken effort to kill Putin or that the plane was struck by shrapnel from a Ukrainian artillery shell. CBS NewsBloomberg Businessweek"Russian Disinformation"-Accuracy in Media"Russia Conspiracy Theories"| New RepublicRussian Media

"In Russia, Crime Without Punishment | TIME"

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