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The "high flyers" have been getting pounded pretty good as of late.

But recently a number of these names -- like Netflix -- have taken some fairly-severe technical damage.

These names have not, as of yet, violated critical levels -- but several of them are close to doing so.

Netflix, for example, is close to violating it's 200MA.  It has not traded under the 200 day since late 2012!

Amazon has violated it's 200MA with authority.  It poked there a few times in 2012 and 2013, but since 2012 it has not traded below it to any material degree or for any length of time.  This is no longer true.

Facebook hasn't traded under the 100MA since mid 2013.  It has now broken that level.

As I write this the Nasdaq 100 is off 81 handles, or 2.25%.  That's a decent move, but not a "plunge."  

Yet.

But there is something to pay attention to here, because when momentum stocks that are trading on field of dreams visions instead of actual earnings roll over it is not unreasonable to believe that they may have no price support floor under them at all since their businesses are not generating material profits in the form of earnings per-share.

This is the same process that got going in 2000, and the triggering event was a little company having a wee restatement problem -- utterly unconnected to all the other names in the space.

The point here is that you don't need an actual reason for these stocks to break, and thus for the market to break hard.  You only need some critical mass of people to wake up one morning and realize that they just paid $10,000 for a tulip bulb, and it all goes to hell.

One final point: Margin debt is at all time highs, which means that if this picks up steam the odds of it accelerating dramatically due to margin calls is quite elevated.

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Well now, so much for Mr. Brash....

If you've followed the BlackBerry blow-up with T-Mobile you know there have been some pretty-amusing developments over the last couple of months.

First, T-Mobile's Legere targeted BlackBerry users on his network to sell them iPhones.  This was done although the company claims to be a "partner" with BlackBerry and had a formal distribution agreement with them that, I assume, gave the company material discounts off list prices in exchange for their support and sales efforts.

Never mind removing the phones from the stores and the employees repeatedly telling people that BlackBerry either was out of business or would be within months -- neither of which has proved up, by the way and neither of which they had any reason to do, other than to push competitors products over BlackBerry's.

When T-Mobile got called on their attempted raid by BlackBerry they responded with a "loyalty" discount that was functionally yet another raid.  

At that point John Chen had enough and said "Ok, your distribution agreement is up for renewal shortly.  Go to Hell."  Then he backed it up with a $100 coupon that he sent out to BlackBerry owners that are on T-Mobile, good for devices sold directly on shopblackberry.com for an unlocked device that can be used on any GSM/LTE carrier in the US.  

Some other media reported this as a "rumor"; it's not rumor, it's fact.  I received one in my email.

For those who wonder how BlackBerry knows where to send them, that's easy -- when you create a BlackBerry ID, which is used for their app store and BBM, you give them an email address.  They can trivially determine the cellular IPs from which their servers are "touched", and when their update server is checked the MCC/MNC (carrier ID) of the SIM in the phone is transmitted.  As a result BlackBerry knows what network a given phone is being used on.

Legere, for his part, first blasted this canceled agreement on Twitter as "removing choice" from customers.  That was utter crap; choice does not include bad-mouthing your so-called business partners, it does not include your employees claiming that a firm is going bankrupt when it is factually not and you are allegedly a business partner and finally, it most-certainly does not include attempting to raid their user base and sell them things from other competitors.

Business is business and competition is a good thing, but abusing an alleged "business partner" isn't "business"; it's utterly outrageous.  I would not be even slightly surprised if this behavior was driven by a distribution agreement T-Mobile signed with Apple that has a financial penalty in it if the volume of devices sold does not meet agreed levels.  Apple is known to demand those penalties, and while those agreements are confidential that clause has been reported with regard to other carriers, so assuming T-Mobile's agreement has a similar clause in it is not an unreasonable expectation.

But -- this means that other companies that are Apple competitors and have similar distribution agreements with the carriers are subject to being abused and the general covenant of fair dealing violated.  That covenant doesn't have to be written in an agreement either; it is inherently part of any business arrangement and in my opinion T-Mobile has repeatedly and intentionally not only violated it they have bragged about it.

Now, faced with BlackBerry selling Z-10s for $200 (with the coupon) Legere not only appears to have deleted his poke at BlackBerry on "choice" via Twitter it appears that he blogged this:

And, of course, that goes for the BlackBerry loyal, too. We hear you and stand with you. We always have and always will. So, obviously, we were disappointed in BlackBerry’s decision this week to end their agreement with us.

Well then, maybe you shouldn't have attempted to raid their customer base.  And maybe you should have fired any representative that made materially false and misleading comments about the company and its products in your retail outlets, of which I can count several in my personal experience alone.  And perhaps you should have not tweeted like a drunken jackass attacking the company too.

But you did all of the above, and John Chen has had enough of your bull****.  So he did something that I applaud: He caused the pitch of your voice to rise a couple of octaves -- by delivering a knee to your nuts.

His price for those phones is now half of yours; a Z-10 for $200 is damned impressive.  

But it gets even better in your alleged blog entry:

But here’s what really matters most for BlackBerry owners. Whether you’re an individual customer or business customer, nothing changes.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.

....

In fact, to show our appreciation for all current consumers so passionate and loyal to all things BlackBerry, we’re offering a $100 credit toward any new device, including the BlackBerry Q10 or the Z10. And this offer is good through the end of the year. So you can take your time.

Why would I be dumb enough to do that John if I want to run the device on your network?  First, you don't have them in the stores, even in the back room, as you removed them from retail distribution months ago.  Second, you no longer have a right to distribute, which means when your current stock in the warehouse is gone, it's gone and you can't get more of them.  Third, if I buy it from you it's locked to your network, and finally, your price isn't competitive when I can buy a Z-10 for $200 directly from the company.  In addition the only BlackBerry phone I see on your "personal" service site is a refurbished (not new) Q10!

If I want a Q10 I can have one for $299.  If I want a Z10 I can have one for $199.  Directly from BlackBerry, where you make zero on the device.  Unfortunately the coupon doesn't appear to work on the Z-30, but if I want one of those, again unlocked and available to work on both T-Mobile and AT&T, I can have one for $499.

So why would I buy a phone from you Mr. Legere?  Equally to the point, why would I buy your service?  I don't have to, you know.  I can walk into a WalMart and get Straight Talk, which allows me to choose my network -- it has SIM cards in it that are blue (AT&T MCC/MNC) and Pink (T-Mobile MCC/MNC.)  For $45, no contract, no credit checks, and no fees or costs other than sales tax I can have a month of service that's pretty-close to identical to what you sell -- for more money.

Now it's true that I can have a $50/month plan from you, but it only has half the data.  To get more, the 3GB bucket, I need to spend $60, or $15 more than at WalMart.  And I have to pay the postpaid fees and additional charges, while Straight Talk has a 2GB bucket and no additional costs for $45.

So why would I buy from you?

Well, if I needed tethering I might, because you include it and Straight Talk does not.  But if I'm not interested in or have a use for tethering......

Incidentally, I think BlackBerry ought to get real aggressive with WalMart and Straight Talk, acting like your competitor, which is exactly the position you have taken with them.  

Were I John Chen I'd negotiate a retail agreement with the biggest of the big box retailers and stick my devices into their nice green Straight Talk retail boxes for immediate sale anywhere in the United States within a few miles of most consumer's homes.  Since they work perfectly well with both Pink and Blue SIMs that would be a trivial thing to do.  I'd also take back control of the software update cycle at the same time and let the consumer choose which firmware release to run, at their option, either directly through the phone or through the companion BlackBerry Link package instead of allowing you and the rest of the carriers to slow-walk the introduction of new features as BB10 evolves, as you've all done thus far.  Indeed, Chen could do that right now with T-Mobile, since any contractual restriction giving you a right of review and approval you might have had in your agreement with him turns into a pumpkin along with the rest of it.

And then to really screw with the CDMA folks I'd do the same thing with Boost and/or Virgin Mobile.

To start I'd get the Z3 in there -- the one that BlackBerry recently disclosed will have an LTE-enabled version.  I'd follow that with a keyboard model.

I have a suspicion that at the right price point Chen could bury Legere and T-Mobile in this regard, and yet the customer would have their "instant gratification" as well instead of having to order online.

Indeed, I'll make a prediction here: BlackBerry is in the process of doing something of this sort right now, which is why Chen believes he has the room to fire T-Mobile.  If I'm right within the next couple of months we'll see exactly this sort of push.

Finally, there's another problem for Legere and T-Mobile to go with the rest -- the BlackBerry 10 devices really are very nice and yet Legere continues to bash both the company and the phones.  They're very different than iFruit or gRobot, of course, but today all BB10 devices will run most Android applications if you want to for some reason.  They have Hub integration for all messaging services and arguably the best soft keyboard implementation in the business.  They're fast, the Q10 and Z30 have insane battery duration (grossly outlasting iFruity garbage) and they have security features that the others simply lack.  BlackBerry has released four significant firmware updates for these devices that have added significant features in the last year, while the other competing brands typically release either one update per year (e.g. Apple) or in many cases one or even zero, ever.

I bought a Z10 from one of T-Mobile's retail stores on launch day and it has been, objectively, the best smartphone device I've ever purchased.

Will many people prefer something else?  Sure.  That's what makes a market.  But the bottom line is this -- you're not someone's business partner when you bash them and try to steal their customers, diverting them to a competitor's product, and that is exactly what Legere's actions have looked like for the last six months if not longer.

I've been a T-Mobile customer since the Voicestream days.  Go check it for yourself John, if you'd like to; I owned a 33xx series Nokia from Voicestream, then a 6610, then the original MDA, one of the first "smart phones."  That's how far back my use of your firm's service goes.

Am I about to fire T-Mobile?  Maybe, maybe not.  It's just business, you see, and so long as it makes financial sense for me to remain on T-Mobile's network I will do so.  The day it does not, I'm gone.

But this much I believe is clear: If you think I trust T-Mobile after seeing the repeatedly puerile and bullying Legere has put on display as CEO toward a firm they claimed to be one of their business partners, you're certifiably nuts.

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 From the Bureau of Lies and Scams:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

That's solid.  In addition:

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2 hour in March to 34.5 hours, offsetting a net decline over the prior 3 months. The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.3 hour in March to 41.1 hours, and factory overtime rose by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.3 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 1 cent to $24.30, following a 9 cent increase in February. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 49 cents, or 2.1 percent. In March, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged down by 2 cents to $20.47. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The only negative is the hourly earnings number, but it's not large.  Much-more important is the workweek which has the same economic impact as more than a half-million new jobs in terms of total spending power.  That's good.

Heh look, the annualized rate of change is over the 2 million number.  That's good too.

And, as expected, the population-corrected rate of change has just turned positive.  Barely -- but it did.  That's positive too.

If there's a bummer in the data it's here.  The Population:Employment rate has not moved materially at all, and remains within the band where it has been since 2009.  That's just flat-out bad, and the drop in "not-in-labor-force", 428,000 people, means that if these individuals don't find jobs it is going to result in some pretty ugly revisions and reports downline in a couple of months.

That sort of change implies a confidence shift among the workforce.  We'll see if it's justified as we come into what are typically seasonally-strong months in the late spring and early summer.

For today, however, it is what it is: This is a good report.

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Riiiight.

That's definitely not a gun. smiley

Oh wait, maybe he had a gun once.  Or a few other times.  And maybe he made a video or two as well that the friends of this now-shot individual are trying like hell to bury.

Why?

Well, according to allegations this fine citizen pointed a gun that looks awfully similar to that one at a cop. What the hell do you expect to happen when you point a gun at a cop?

"My baby didn't do nothing" eh?  Well, I don't know if he actually pointed that gun at a cop or not, but this much is pretty apparent -- he certainly had one, and apparently the police recovered it after he was shot by them, never mind that the pictures and video that have surfaced sure look like him waving a gun around to me.

All cops are not good, but by the same token all cops are not bad.  And further, good or bad if you point a weapon at someone you have to expect that either they, or their friends if they have any in the immediate area, are going to drop you and irrespective of anything up to that point if they do it's a good shoot -- period.

That's how it works when you threaten to take someone's life.

If you don't want to get shot then don't point guns at people.  Cop or not cop, white, black or Martian doesn't matter; anyone who has a weapon pointed at them in this fashion has every right not only under the laws of man but natural law to drop you where you stand -- right then and there.

It's as simple as that.

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Gee, there's no pattern here, right?

An Iraq War veteran being treated for a mental illness opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood, killing three soldiers and injuring 16 before killing himself, officials said

Army Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior officer at the facility, said at an evening news conference that there was no indication of terrorism, but added "we're not ruling anything out." Fort Hood is the same base where in 2009 U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed more than a dozen in the shooting.

Authorities identified Wednesday’s shooter as Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34. He was armed with a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson and turned the gun on himself when confronted by a female military police officer in a parking lot.

This sucks.

Let's just take the current reporting at face value; this was someone who was suffering from mental instability and "went postal", murdering three and injuring 16 before killing himself when confronted by a MP in a parking lot.  It's probably a fair bet he was on psychotropic medication of some sort, given that there are reports he was under treatment for a mental disturbance.

What did Obama say?

CHICAGO – President Barack Obama vowed that investigators will get to the bottom of a shooting incident Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas, seeking to reassure the nation whose sense of security once again has been shaken by mass violence.

Oh really?  So we trust our military members to use violence (and carry the means of dispensing it, both offensively and defensively) when overseas on deployment, but right here at home, on their own base, they are denied the fundamental human right to defend their own person in the gravest extreme.

Never mind the obvious fallacy here:

McHugh says the soldier was examined by a psychiatrist last month and was found to show no violent or suicidal tendencies. He says the soldier had been prescribed Ambien to deal with a sleeping problem.

Ah, another profession that has a job performance accuracy percentage that seems to run about the same as "weatherman."

Oh, and about that Ambien -- listed among the possible (but less-likely or rare) side effects:

  • paranoia
  • quick to react or overreact emotionally
  • rapidly changing moods
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Attack, assault, or force
  • delusions
  • dementia
  • thoughts of killing oneself or changes in behavior

That's a partial list, of course -- picking on the ones that might be relevant.... and that's assuming there weren't any other psychiatric drugs involved here as well.

But leaving aside whether a pharmaceutical frankenstein monster was involved, something we can probably never know with certainty, we again we have a shining example of why trusting the police to protect us (or you) fails.  It fails even in a place where one would expect to be safer than pretty-much anywhere else on the planet -- a US military facility in the United States.

It fails because the security model, that of a dedicated (and competent, in this case!) force of trained police cannot possibly be everywhere at once, and yet you have to be everywhere at once to stop these sorts of events in the shortest amount of time with the fewest casualties because there are some small percentage of people who are either*****ed off enough or insane enough to do things like this, and so long as that number is not zero these sort of incidents can and will occasionally happen.

"They serve with valor, they serve with distinction and when they're at their home base, they need to feel safe," Obama said. "We don't yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again."

Mr. President, those serving our country today may not be able to say this publicly lest they face disciplinary action but I can and will: You are a 5-alarm JACKASS.

If there is one place that our military damn well ought to be able to carry personal defensive weapons openly or concealed on an unrestricted basis it is on a US military base!  We trust these men and women literally with our lives; they fly combat aircraft over my home and community every single day as just one example.

Yet these same airmen and women, and all of those on the ground who make what they do possible along with all other branches of the military, are denied by executive fiat the fundamental human right of self-defense when faced with someone who has gone insane, irrespective of the reason for their insanity, and instead of defending themselves are forced to place their faith and trust in that which is physically impossible.

The tragic consequences of our government's jackbooted bull**** -- a load of crap that I argue is evidence of a mental illness called "liberalism" -- is once again on full public and tragic display.

There is, of course, no reason at all to believe that the shooter would not have managed to shoot and possibly kill someone irrespective of how many servicemen and women were armed at Ft. Hood.  

But that's not the point.  

The point is that this person, whatever his motivation, got several free shots at targets that could not shoot back because they had been disarmed by the policies of our government.  At the same time these are the very people that we trust to properly and sanely use lethal force against others in the field when it becomes necessary.  Indeed, we trust them not only to use said force in self-defense but also to advance the goals of the United States in foreign lands.

The majority of my friends and associates in this area are active duty military personnel, retired military or civilians that serve our nation in support of same.  These people have the same fundamental rights as everyone else, and among them is the right to attempt to protect their own lives should they be assaulted.  These are individuals who are competent, good people that were **** to get real I would trust with my six, and I believe they would trust me with theirs.  They serve our country with honor and dedication despite difficult circumstances and often very-material personal sacrifice, up to and including the risk of their own life.

Disarming these same people on our own soil and on their own base is criminally stupid behavior on the part of the executive and Joint Chiefs and those responsible deserve to be prosecuted as accessories before the fact to the homicides that took place yesterday.

Enough damnit.

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