Friday, April 24, 2015

Today's Links

1--"Obsessive" Buybacks Could Be Big Mistake, "Serious" People Tell Unserious People, zh

Buybacks by S&P 500 companies rose to $219 billion in the first quarter, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2007, according to TrimTabs. Meanwhile, S&P 500 corporate dividends rose to a new record of $376 billion in 2014, according to FactSet…

And there are many, many more. Here are some visuals that illustrate the situation:

"I'd like to believe that defaults are still a long way off," she said. "But my concern would be—if you think about how a company should position itself for further growth, you want to think of them as taking the cash they do have and using it to invest in something that generates growth”...

"If you think about the stock market today, it feels fairly overvalued," Padgett said.

"So you see a lot of companies buying back their shares at relatively high valuation, instead of taking that money and putting it into something more growth oriented."...

To be sure, this theater of financial engineering - because stocks are not going up on any resemblance of fundamental reasons but simply due to expanding balance sheet leverage - will continue only until it can no longer continue

2--Amazon: The more I lose, the richer I get, wolf street
3--Stephen Roach Nails It Again: Fed Is In Total Denial, Replicating Same “Deadly Trap” As Last Time

4--Russia's Lavrov says EU charges against Gazprom "unacceptable"

5--Why Is Yemen Our War?, Pat Buchanan
6--Greek finance minister tells magazine: Grexit no bluff if more austerity imposed

7--The EU-Gazprom war, pepe escobar

Nabucco – a previous, never-ending ‘Pipelineistan’ opera – is all but dead. The new salvation would be a competitor to Turkish Stream with gas starting to flow also in 2019 not from Russia but from the Shah Deniz II fields in Azerbaijan, and later on, in the most optimistic hypothesis of sanctions being lifted as soon as possible, also Iran.
Gas from Azerbaijan, though, would be enough only for Bulgaria and Greece. That’s far from what is needed. The EU badly needs Iran.

Here’s something to watch carefully; a key platform to test Washington’s true desire to go for a final nuclear deal. Washington knows that Brussels is absolutely desperate for Iranian energy – but for that to happen all sanctions must be lifted immediately, as well as hasty negotiations leading to a tsunami of investment in the Iranian energy industry. For all this to be accomplished it will take not months, but years.

8---The trouble always starts in Washington: Washington started all modern military conflicts - Russia’s General Staff, RT

Now the US has deployed hundreds of military instructors to Ukraine to train troops. Yet Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov accused Washington of sending its soldiers not to training ranges, “but directly in the combat zone near Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha.”

“The US appears to be the ultimate instigator of all military conflicts in the world. The Western countries have begun to hold themselves out as ‘architects’ of the international relations system, leaving to the US the role of the world’s only superpower,” Kartapolov said at a military-scientific conference dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory in WWII.

9--US military instructors in eastern Ukraine combat zone – Russian military, RT

10--Iran, P5+1 start drafting on sanctions removal: Araqchi

A senior Iranian nuclear negotiator says Iran and the P5+1 group have started drafting the text of mechanisms related to the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its peaceful nuclear program.
Speaking to Press TV following meetings with representatives of the P5+1 group in the Austrian capital city of Vienna on Friday, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi said that the US negotiating delegation gave the Iranian nuclear team “very useful” explanations regarding the removal of anti-Iran sanctions.

“This time we only worked on the question of sanctions but the fact is that we had worked on other issues some months ago; I think in July last year. We have already [drafted] some parts of our text. We had already done some drafting in the past, but then it was stopped because we had no solution on major issues. Now we have solutions in almost all issues. What we have to do is to write down these solutions in form of a draft of an agreement. We have also started now from the sanctions and we will go to other issues next time,” he said.

11---Iran disputes US nuclear deal 'fact sheet', guardian

12--Good clarifications made on removal of anti-Iran bans: Araqchi" Press TV

13--Petras: Moles in the state dept?

14--Trans Pacific Partnership, John Ratliff
15--China’s perspective on the Pivot and the TPP

16-- Glazyev
This is what is happening at present: The U.S. is attempting to resolve its accumulated economic, financial, and industrial imbalances at other countries’ expense, by escalating international conflicts that will allow it to write off debts, appropriate assets belonging to others, and weaken its geopolitical rivals. When this was done during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the result was World War II. The American aggression against Ukraine pursues all of the above-mentioned goals. First, economic sanctions against Russia are intended to wipe out billions of dollars of U.S. debt to Russia. A second objective is to take over Ukrainian state assets, including the natural gas transport system, mineral deposits, the country’s gold reserves, and valuable art and cultural objects. Third, to capture Ukrainian markets of importance to American companies, such as nuclear fuel, aircraft, energy sources, and others. Fourth, to weaken not only Russia, but also the European Union, whose economy will sustain an estimated trillion-dollar loss from economic sanctions against Russia. Fifth, to attract capital flight from instability in Europe, to the USA.Thus, war in Ukraine is just business for the United States

17--Blackwater Mercenaries Spotted in East Ukraine

The private military company was brought into further disrepute earlier this month when four ex-Blackwater guards were sentenced for the massacre of unarmed civilians killed in Baghdad.
“In the territory controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces, namely, in Volnovakha, the presence of 70 representatives of the private military company Academi has been revealed,” explained Eduard Basurin, Defense Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Today's Links

"A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing"

... the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire -- what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

1--Oil Mania? From peak to valley

2008/9 The financial crisis reached its zenith in 2008 with perhaps the crucial point being the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Meanwhile, as trade credit on which the oil trade relies dried up, the oil price collapsed from $147/barrel in July 2008 to $35/barrel by December 2008.

2--Through an (oil) glass darkly, chris cook

The Oil Shock
Winding the clock back to 1973, the Arab oil embargo during the Yom Kippur War came as a complete shock to the US generally and to secretary of state Henry Kissinger in particular, who believed that this step would never be taken.  As a result of this embargo, the oil price quadrupled from US$3 to $12 per barrel by early 1974.
But as we now know from the then Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, while both the Saudis and the Shah of Iran were content for the oil price to fall back to $3, Kissinger prevailed upon the Shah to maintain the price at the higher level.

Why would Kissinger and the US have done that? Firstly, new oil production   in Alaska, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico – which reduced US/UK reliance on the Saudis – was only viable at the higher price. Secondly, the US was able to pay for the oil with newly printed “petrodollars”, which it was agreed would be recycled to the US.  The genius of the strategy was that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) got the blame....

Since Saudi Arabian oil is essentially played out and in run-off mode, the profit margins that Big Oil requires are no longer to be made there, but are instead to be found in the development of Iran and Iraq’s vast, relatively unexploited, and extremely cheap to produce oil reserves.
This is today’s great oil prize. It was why a delegation of 120 French businessmen was in Tehran when I was last there, and why Germany, Italy and other European countries are all over Iran like a rash.
It is also why the US is so keen to conclude a deal with Iran, and why Big Oil will see to it that once an agreement has been reached their tame Republican legislators will call off the dogs

3--Putin speech: The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.

4--Top German Editor: CIA Bribing Journalists

Members of the German media are paid by the CIA in return for spinning the news in a way that supports US interests, and some German outlets are nothing more than PR appendages of NATO, according to a new book by Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's largest newspapers.
Ulfkotte is a serious mainstream journalist.

Operation Mockingbird, which began in the 1950s, was a secret CIA operation which recruited journalists to serve as mouthpieces for the American government. The program was officially terminated after it was exposed by the famous Church Committee investigations, but evidence of ongoing CIA influence over the media continues to accumulate. 

Just last week Glenn Greenwald's (of Edward Snowden fame) new groundbreaking investigative website, The Intercept, charged that the CIA leveraged its considerable influence - some might even say friendship - with media in order to discredit Gary Webb, the fearless American journalist who uncovered CIA cocaine trafficking as part of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s

5--The New Saudi Foreign Policy (US assumes role as military franchise )  CFR

However, in this new cold war, the Saudis will have to use their military in a manner that they had not contemplated before. In the past four years, the Saudis have already intervened in two countries—Bahrain and Yemen—and more such interventions may soon be the order of the day. This means that the Saudi military has to undergo its own modernization with creation of a more capable officer corps and a standing army larger than the coup-conscious House of Saud had previously considered safe.

The Nuclear Option?
Hovering over all this are Saudi nuclear calculations. In recent years, the Saudis have expressed interest in nuclear technologies and even establishing a domestic enrichment infrastructure matching that of Iran. Atomic weapons may yet provide an important deterrent capability for a sparsely populated state with considerable wealth. Should it possess this weapon, then Saudi Arabia can ensure that its territory will not be molested by larger neighbors coveting its oil.

In the past, America’s security umbrella had provided the necessary reassurance, obviating the need for such measures of self-reliance. This may no longer be the case. It is important to stress that in the new Middle East, the Saudi nuclear calculus may no longer be contingent on what happens to Iran’s nuclear program. It was once thought that Saudis would try to match Iran’s capabilities, but increasingly, nuclear arms may make sense for the monarchy irrespective of what happens on the other side of the Persian Gulf.

the interim president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, failed to govern effectively—unable to provide security and basic public goods such as electricity and fuel. With oil production declining, the state faced a fiscal crisis that Hadi’s government failed to address, and the economy slipped into a precipitous decline. 

7--Steen Jakobsen: Get Ready For The Biggest Margin Call In History

0% interest rates at $0 down has not created the additional momentum to the economy The Fed was hoping for. The trickle down effect, the wealth effect, has instead made for bigger inequality in society. So I think we’re set for a rate hike in either in June or in September. I think this will be the biggest margin call in history on the asset inflation created by the Fed ....

The market will ask in September when the Fed hikes: “Why are you hiking interest rate when growth is below target, inflation below target”? Well, the Fed's response will be “Because this is the biggest asset inflation we’ve seen in human history and we need to address it”.

8--US Weapons Industry Profits From Conflicts of Carnage in Middle East

The NYT describes the sales bonanza for the US weapons industry:
As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn. (Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.)

Last week, defense industry officials told Congress that they were expecting within days a request from Arab allies fighting the Islamic State — Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt — to buy thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons, replenishing an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year.

America is the land of second, third, and even fourth chances.  The same applies to house lusting buyers.  The National Associate of Realtors (NAR) had some interesting data regarding potential future home buyers.   Their analysis found that between 2006 and 2014 some 9.3 million homeowners were foreclosed on, received a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sold.  Bottom line, there were a boatload of people losing their homes when it was once thought to be the safest investment. 

12--The strategy was hardly unnoticed in Moscow, as evidenced by the annual report of the Russian Foreign Ministry published on Wednesday. The document said the US is pursuing “a systematic obstruction to Russia, rallying its allies with the goal to damage domestic economy” through blocking credits, technology transferee and an overall destabilization of the business environment.
The ministry said Washington had some success with the policy that resulted in an almost 8 percent drop of Russia’s trade with EU members in 2014

13--The US Hand in Libya’s Tragedy, SC

The R2Pers, led by then-National Security Council aide Power with the backing of Secretary of State Clinton, convinced President Barack Obama that a “humanitarian intervention” was needed to prevent Gaddafi from slaughtering people whom he claimed were Islamic terrorists.

As this U.S.-orchestrated bombing campaign was about to begin in late March 2011, Power told a New York City audience that the failure to act would have been “extremely chilling, deadly and indeed a stain on our collective conscience.” Power was credited with steeling Obama’s spine to press ahead with the military operation.

Under a United Nations resolution, the intervention was supposed to be limited to establishing no-fly zones to prevent the slaughter of civilians. But the operation quickly morphed into a “regime change” war with the NATO-led bombing devastating Gaddafi’s soldiers who were blown to bits when caught on desert roadways....

Now, the chaos that the U.S.-sponsored “regime change” unleashed has grown so horrific that it is causing desperate Libyans to climb into unseaworthy boats to escape the sharp edges of the Islamic State’s knives and other depredations resulting from the nationwide anarchy.
Thus, Libya should be a powerful lesson to Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and the other R2Pers that often their schemes of armed “humanitarianism” can go badly awry and do much more harm than good. It should also be another reminder to the MSM to question the arguments presented by the U.S. government, rather than simply repeating those dubious claims and false narratives.

But neither seems to be happening. The “liberal interventionists” – like their neoconservative allies – remain unchastened, still pumping for more “regime change” wars, such as in Syria. Yet, many of these moral purists are silent about the slaughter of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, Palestinians in Gaza, or now Houthis and other Yemenis dying under Saudi bombs in Yemen.

14--Mortgage lending standards should not be relaxed further , oc housing
15--Sergei Glazyev on Ukraine, SC

16--Obama has been working hard for those oil companies to become enabled to sell such oil into Europe. (Who will provide EU with gas, that is the heart of the conflict)  The recent bombings in Syria, and in Ukraine, are a business-operation being carried out as a war

In other words, the wars in both Syria and Ukraine are being fought basically in order to grab the European energy market, away from Russia, somewhat in the same way (though far more violently) as Iran’s share of that market was previously grabbed away by means of the U.S.-led sanctions against that country. The current bombing campaigns in both Syria and Ukraine are directed specifically against Iran’s chief ally, Russia...

there has been proposed, in order to promote  Russian gas flowing into Europe, an eastbound Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline (but sanctions stopped that); and there was also proposed, in order to undercut  Russian gas flowing into Europe, a northbound Qatar-Saudi-Jordan-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline -- those being two different and competing ways of supplying gas into Europe.
Russia’s ally Syria is crucial to both  proposed pipelines, which means that Assad has needed to be overthrown in order for the northbound pipeline from Qatar to be constructed and so to compete against Russia’s gas-supplies to Europe.
The Moslem Brotherhood want to control Syria, and would love to approve a gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria to Europe, to reward their chief benefactor, Qatar’s royals. As for the Saudi royals, they want Assad to be replaced by an anti-Iranian, Sunni ISIS leader, who will represent the Sauds’ Wahhabist sect in Islam, which provides Saudi royals their  ‘legitimacy.’ (Saudi royals say they don’t like Al Qaeda and ISIS, but that’s said mainly for public consumption in the West.) Right now, Saudi Arabia supplies less than 5% of Europe’s energy, which is a mere one-eighth of what Russia does. So: each of these two royal families relies primarily upon a different category of Islamists. Obama prefers the ‘moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood to the extremist ISIS, but Saudi royals accept his having that preference, because any way to weaken Iran and its backer Russia is fine with them, especially since it would open wide the enormous European market for their oil.

Other internal conflicts also exist within Obama’s team. For example, an expert on these matters, Felix Imonti, explained to me in a personal communication, that, “Qatar ... abandoned the [pipeline] plan in 2010 for a very simple reason. Saudi Arabia will not permit a pipeline to be constructed across its territory. Qatar is interested along with Turkey in installing a MB government in Syria. ... The Saudi objective is to drive out the Iranians from Syria.” The Saudis’ “objective was to establish a Wahhabi based [fundamentalist Moslem] state that would include western Iraq with Syria,” which, of course, is what ISIS is all about. Imonti also says: “Egypt [except for the brief time when it was controlled by the MB] is a bought puppet of Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians are bombing Qatari groups in Libya.” That Egyptian action is indirectly a Saudi attack against the Qatari royals’ own support-base. These issues between the two royal families are like squabbles within a family: more is shared in common than splits them apart. Obama’s decisions are often determinative on such matters.

So, America’s aristocracy supports both the Saudi and the Qatari aristocracies, despite their disagreements, in order to defeat the aristocracies in Russia, China, and the other “BRIC” countries.
Or, as President Obama's speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for this view on the part of America’s aristocracy: "Russia's aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China's economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy, from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones, like in any other international empire -- not  if the local aristocrats there do. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. Obama added, placing a nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.”...

Qatar ships most of its gas into Asia, they’d like to have some way to pipe it more nearby, into Europe, to undercut Russia’s Gazprom. And that’s why the U.S. is working with Qatar to bump Assad from Syria.
The Saudis are actually doing the most of all to defeat Russia, by driving oil prices down so low as to upset Russia’s economic plans, which have been based upon minimum $100/barrel projections. We’re already around 10% below that. As Imonti writes, “The Saudis can sustain these lower prices for seven or eight years while drawing on their foreign reserves to cover the deficits. They could very well be trying to break the fracking business in the U.S. that has high production costs. [Of course, America’s gas aristocrats won’t like that, but Obama has to balance multiple sub-constituencies, including Qatar’s royals.] They might also be directing the target towards Russia that supports Assad and Iran. They could be doing all of the above with one action.” If the Sauds keep this up “for seven or eight years,” then Russia will be hit a lot harder than Russia is being hit, or is likely to be hit, by any economic sanctions.
Qatar has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for the Moslem Brotherhood; and Saudi Arabia has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for ISIS....

Russia has the world's largest proven reserves of natural gas, and that’s without their even needing to use fracking-techniques in order to get at it. #2 Iran has 69% as much gas, and is allied with Russia, and it also doesn’t frack. But sanctions close them out of Europe. Then #3 Qatar, at 47%, is allied with U.S. oil companies, but has no need to frack. Then #4 Turkmenistan, 37%, is allied with Russia, and also doesn’t frack. Then #5 U.S., 20%, is allied with U.S. oil companies, and only fracks. Then #6 Saudi Arabia, 17%, is also allied with U.S. oil companies, and doesn’t need to frack.
The European Union bans fracking, because they have environmentally-concerned publics. But U.S. and other Western corporate-owned oil companies want to frack gas in Europe, just as they do in America; and the new Ukrainian Government is desperate enough to want their land to be fracked.
The main shale-gas (fracking) field in Ukraine is Yuzivska, right in the middle of the Donbass region, where the residents don’t want fracking and don’t want U.S. rule (which includes fracking).
"The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria"
"Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary ‘Rebels’ Revealed"
Tyler Durden on 05/16/2013 19:12 -0400
... [Excerpt:] So there you have it: Qatar doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using not Syrian rebels, but mercenaries: professional citizens who are paid handsomely to fight and kill members of the elected regime (unpopular as it may be), for what? So that the unimaginably rich emirs of Qatar can get even richer. Although it is not as if Russia is blameless: all it wants is to preserve its own strategic leverage over Europe by being the biggest external provider of natgas to the continent through its own pipelines. Should Nabucco come into existence, Gazpromia would be very, very angry and make far less money!
"A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing"
Tyler Durden on 09/25/2014 10:17 -0400
… [Excerpt:] Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire -- what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?

Only Assad is in the way
"Qatar: Rich and Dangerous"

No sooner had Qaddafi been caught and shot, Qatar approached Bashar Al-Assad to establish a transitional government with the Moslem Brotherhood. As you would expect, relinquishing power to the Brotherhood was an offer that he could refuse. It didn’t take long before he heard his sentence pronounced in January 2012 on the CBS television program, 60 Minutes by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
The Emir declared that foreign troops should be sent into Syria.  At the Friends of Syria conference in February, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said, "We should do whatever necessary to help [the Syrian opposition], including giving them weapons to defend themselves."

Why would Qatar want to become involved in Syria where they have little invested? A map reveals that the kingdom is a geographic prisoner in a small enclave on the Persian Gulf coast.
It relies upon the export of LNG, because it is restricted by Saudi Arabia from building pipelines to distant markets.  In 2009, the proposal of a pipeline to Europe through Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the Nabucco pipeline was considered, but Saudi Arabia that is angered by its smaller and much louder brother has blocked any overland expansion.

Already the largest LNG producer, Qatar will not increase the production of LNG. The market is becoming glutted with eight new facilities in Australia coming online between 2014 and 2020.
A saturated North American gas market and a far more competitive Asian market leaves only Europe. The discovery in 2009 of a new gas field near Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Syria opened new possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier and to secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Only Al-Assad is in the way...

Qatar along with the Turks would like to remove Al-Assad and install the Syrian chapter of the Moslem Brotherhood. It is the best organized political movement in the chaotic society and can block Saudi Arabia’s efforts to install a more fanatical Wahhabi based regime. Once the Brotherhood is in power, the Emir’s broad connections with Brotherhood groups throughout the region should make it easy for him to find a friendly ear and an open hand in Damascus.
A control centre has been established in the Turkish city of Adana near the Syrian border to direct the rebels against Al-Assad. Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud asked to have the Turks establish a joint Turkish, Saudi, Qatari operations center. “The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations” a source in the Gulf told Reuters.
The fighting is likely to continue for many more months, but Qatar is in for the long term. At the end, there will be contracts for the massive reconstruction and there will be the development of the gas fields. In any case, Al-Assad must go. There is nothing personal; it is strictly business to preserve the future tranquility and well-being of Qatar.
"Qatar: Rich and Dangerous"

17--Leading German Journalist Admits CIA 'Bribed' Him and Other Leaders of the Western 'Press'

18--Central Bank Governor Veers Off Script, Sees “Illusion of Liquidity” & “Asset Bubbles,” Dreads Crash , wolf street

Financial instability is the current central-bank and IMF euphemism for a crash. But even if central banks are afraid of this event, the current monetary policies “are not sustainable.” Someday, they must stop. Or else.
“To assess the risks associated with the unwinding of these policies, we have to identify the unintended consequences they have caused.” The policies were supposed to promote growth “by enticing more risk-taking by economic agents.” The idea was that, one, consumers would respond to QE, lower interest rates, and the hoped-for wealth effects by consuming more. And that, two, companies would respond with “real risk taking,” namely “higher corporate investment.”

None of these two things has happened. Consumers are struggling. And corporate investment actually fell, he said: “the median decline in the emerging and advanced economies has been around 2.5 percentage points of GDP.”
Instead, QE and interest rate repression have accomplished something else – the unintended consequences:
Meanwhile there has been massive investments in financial instruments of all sorts, both in local and external markets in what has been called the ‘search for yield,’ which has created considerable spillover effects of unconventional monetary policies.
The crux of the matter is that financial risk-taking has been far more responsive to unconventional monetary policies than real risk-taking has been

19--US troops arrive at western Ukraine training camp, wsws

20--Interview William Lind: The Washington establishment, which is bipartisan, thought that now we could rule the world. It could dictate to everyone and it could force its ideology, which is sometimes called globalism or liberal democracy, but is in fact the soft totalitarianism of Brave New World, on everyone in the world. If necessary, with military force. This is the classic hubris that has destroyed one great power after another. There is nothing new about it.

Victor Olevich:  Why has Washington chosen Ukraine as a battleground in its new Cold War against Russia?
William Lind: Russia under President Putin represents the state system and the way states normally act within the state system, based on their interests. The ideology of the Washington establishment says that is not how the world is going to work anymore.  It is instead going to be essentially a one world government based in Washington. This ideology includes such concepts as the feminist definition of women’s rights, devaluation of all religions, so called gay rights, and the belief that this must be universal.  Russia is saying no to this.  It is saying that it still believes in the state system and is going to pursue its own interests on the world stage.  So when Russia asserted its interests in the face of Ukraine threatening to join NATO, then Washington reacted very strongly....

William Lind: Yes, of course. The United States and the EU are being hurt by the sanctions also. Russia has very strong foreign currency reserves, and it owes about 800 billion dollars to Western banks, with much of that starting to come due. Now, because of the sanctions, Russia is not going to be able to roll that over by borrowing more in the West. Obviously, what Russia can do in that case is say that it is suspending payment on all loans due to institutions in countries that are participating in the sanctions until the sanctions are lifted. Suddenly, the sanctions will hurt Europe much more than they hurt Russia, because Europe will have another massive banking crisis on its hands. There was a news flash last week about Russia and China buying a great deal of gold.  This points to another way the sanctions can backfire. The rest of the world, and not just Russia, is getting tired of the United States trying to dictate to institutions, particularly banks, in their own countries, on what they will do, as if they were American institutions in complete disregard for their national sovereignty. One way to destroy this entire sanctions tool, not just in the case of Russia but also in regards to other countries, is to move trade to a gold basis instead of a dollar basis. The the role of American banks will become irrelevant, because trade will be completed in gold.

Victor Olevich: Is Europe able to act on its own, independently of U.S. foreign policy goals?
William Lind: No, Europe at this point is still very much in Washington’s orbit.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that the EU is an American satellite

21--Interview William Blum, RT

America, for two centuries has had one basic, overriding goal, and that is world domination, at least from 1890s if not earlier, one can say that. World domination is something which appeals to both Republicans and Democrats or Liberals or Conservatives. The idea that we're the exceptional nation and have something very important to impart to the rest of the world, our marvelous values, American exceptionalism... Each party believes in that very strongly. They don't argue about that at all, except through their campaign debate, they'll take certain opposing views just to appear different. But, in power, they have the exact same policy – world domination.

SS: Now back in 2009 President Obama made it clear that the missile shield in Europe would no longer be necessary if the threat from Iran was eliminated – and nuclear deal with Iran was struck. Now, historic deal is close, but NATO is saying there will be no change in missile shield plans – why not?

WB: Because NATO shares America's desire to dominate the world. NATO is just an arm of the U.S. foreign policy, there's no point actually in making a distinction between US foreign policy and NATO policy – they are the same. If US were not in NATO, NATO would not exist. US founded NATO, US is its main supporter and financial source, there's no distinction between US and NATO, and they share the same view of American world domination. So, it doesn't matter whether Iran is doing this or that – they know that Iran is not a lover of an Empire, and anyone who's not a lover of the Empire has a short life span. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, whatever. That is the test, do you love Empire or not.

22--The IMF’s Big Greek Mistake

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today's links

1--US Navy deploys warships to intercept Iranian aid convoy off Yemen coast, wsws

Massive explosions rocked the Yemeni capital at Sanaa on Monday, flattening residential areas and killing scores while producing explosions compared by witnesses to an earthquake. Small clouds rose over the outskirts of the city, where air strikes had targeted major weapons deposits and missile bases. Ambulances lined approaches to nearby hospitals, according to reports.

Heavy strikes continued Friday and over the weekend, with warplanes and missiles of the Saudi-led coalition targeting Sanaa, Taiz and Aden. Saudi coalition strikes have destroyed civilian neighborhoods, factories and businesses across the country, according to witnesses cited in US media.

Some 750-1,000 Yemenis have been killed during the Saudi-led air campaign, according to UN estimates, with thousands more wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been displaced from their homes in Yemen as a result of the air campaign.
“All the signs are that things are worsening,” said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN. ...

While Riyadh claims that the savage bombing of Yemen is needed to restore the “legitimate” US- and Saudi-backed government led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in reality the massacre of Yemen’s population is the product of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is intensifying under the impact of the efforts of US imperialism to maintain its dominance throughout the Middle East and Central Asia....

Saudi and Egypt began joint military exercises in the Arabian peninsula last week, staged as a prelude to a ground invasion of Yemen. Suggesting that the joint Saudi-Egyptian force might soon be used in Iraq and elsewhere, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accused the Saudi regime of using the crisis in Yemen to pursue a region-wide confrontation with Iran along sectarian lines.
Meanwhile, large areas of the country have fallen to the Sunni extremist group Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the suppression of which was the officially stated purpose of US involvement in the country.

2--Ukraine ceasefire violations blamed on ‘unidentified third party’ – OSCE

“These battalions only half obey the central government. All provocations occur where Azov and Right Sector battalions are concentrated. Namely Shirokino area, Donetsk airport and Avdeyevka. This pushes the situation to a new conflict,” Pushilin said.
“They want a new war and new blood. They aim to involve the Ukrainian armed forces in the conflict, although the Ukrainian army to a greater degree follow orders,” Pushilin said.

3---The pseudo-left and the Libyan catastrophe, WSWS

Torture, summary executions and arbitrary imprisonment are rampant. As for “wealth produced by natural resources,” the economy is in free fall, having contracted 30 percent last year. Oil production, which accounts for some 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, has fallen to less than a fifth of what it was before the US-NATO war. Schools and hospitals, once the most advanced in the region, have been shut down by the fighting. Power outages are common, as are shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies.

The Left Party in Germany, the International Socialist Organization in the US, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and a number of other similar pseudo-left groups all provided service to imperialism, supporting the pro-imperialist “rebels” and helping to dress up a naked intervention for oil and geostrategic interests as a crusade to protect civilians and promote democracy and human rights.
This gravitation to “humanitarian” imperialism neither began nor ended with the criminal war in Libya. This new pseudo-left constituency for imperialism made its debut with these organizations’ support for the “humanitarian” US-NATO bombardment of the former Yugoslavia in 1999. Much as in the Libyan case, the intervention was staged on the pretext of saving Kosovar Albanians from a supposed massacre at the hands of the Serbs, and then resulted in a skyrocketing of the death toll.

What has been the result of this “humanitarian” war for “liberation” concluded 15 years ago? Kosovo, a territory of 1.8 million people, remains economically, politically and socially unviable, dominated by poverty, organized crime and corruption. The unemployment rate is 45 percent—60 percent for younger workers—and tens of thousands are streaming out of the country....

All of these organizations bear moral and political responsibility for the catastrophes these imperialist interventions have wrought in country after country. Their lining up behind the bloodthirsty “human rights” wars of aggression is no accident and cannot be ascribed to mere political stupidity. It reflects the alignment with imperialism of a privileged upper-middle class layer, including elements within academia and the media, whose social interests are expressed in the politics of these groups.

4--US economic decline overshadows IMF-World Bank meeting, wsws

The article went on to cite comments made by former treasury secretary and a top adviser in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, Lawrence Summers, that the inability of Washington to prevent key allies from joining the AIIB signalled “the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system.”

5--Who Is Saudi Arabia Really Targeting In Its Price War? , wolf st

Saudi Arabia is not trying to crush U.S. shale plays. Its oil-price war is with the investment banks and the stupid money they directed to fund the plays. It is also with the zero-interest rate economic conditions that made this possible.
Saudi Arabia intends to keep oil prices low for as long as possible. Its oil production increased to 10.3 million barrels per day in March 2015. That is 700,000 barrels per day more than in December 2014 and the highest level since the Joint Organizations Data Initiative began compiling production data in 2002 (Figure 1 below). And Saudi Arabia’s rig count has never been higher.

Market share is an important part of the motive but Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali al-Naimi recently emphasized that “The challenge is to restore the supply-demand balance and reach price stability.” Saudi Arabia’s need for market share and long-term demand is best met with a growing global economy and lower oil prices.

That means ending the over-production from tight oil and other expensive plays (oil sands and ultra-deep water) and reviving global demand by keeping oil prices low for some extended period of time. Demand has been weak since the run-up in debt and oil prices that culminated in the Financial Collapse of 2008 (Figure 2 below)....

Saudi Arabia is not trying to crush tight oil plays, just the stupid money that funded the over-production of tight oil. Too much supply combined with weak demand created the present oil-price collapse. Saudi Arabia hopes to prolong low prices to benefit their long-term needs for market share and higher demand.

6--Greece Endgame Nears, NC

This chart from a a different Bloomberg story (this one by Mark Whitehouse) shows what the failure to impose capital controls (in combination with the ECB stoking the bank run) has cost Greece:
Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 5.47.03 AM
As Whitehouse pointed out:
Greece and its creditors would do well to step back and survey the wreckage as they enter yet another week of brinkmanship: Data on capital flows suggest they’ve undone years of confidence-building in a matter of months….
Data from the Greek central bank, which records each euro that leaves the country as a liability, suggest the capital flight has reached unprecedented proportions. Over the six months through March, about 62 billion euros ($67 billion) were taken out of Greece. That’s the equivalent of a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

It is still astonishing that the European elites have convinced themselves that adhering to the procedures used to implement clearly unsuccessful austerity programs are so important as to justify creating a failed state. Is this what the European project stands for? It’s sadistic and destructive, but there seem to be no cooler heads who can deter the power players, the ECB and the IMF, from this course of action.

7--QE makes everything worse

8--Political Murders in Kiev, US Troops to Ukraine Ron Paul

9--Investors may be ignoring potential ‘collateral damage’ from Greece , marketwatch

10--Houthi: Saudi Goal Is Occupation of Yemen




14--Iran rejects US call for ‘anywhere, anytime access’ to military sites

Iran has rejected a call by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for unlimited access of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to the Islamic Republic’s military sites.
In a Monday interview with ISNA news agency, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) described Moniz’s demand as “not practical and acceptable.”
Behrouz Kamalvandi noted that negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program “are still underway,” urging the other side to put forward its views during the talks.
Kamalvandi stressed that Tehran will not undertake any commitments beyond “common laws and regulations.”
Earlier on Monday, Moniz said nuclear inspectors will need free access in Iran as part of a possible deal on the Iranian nuclear program.
“We expect to have anywhere, anytime access,” added the nuclear physicist, who has been part of the recent nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
He stated that inspections of Iran’s military sites under a proposed long-term agreement would not be “frivolous” and would be part of “a well-defined process.”
Moniz also said it would take at least six months to lift nuclear-related anti-Iran sanctions. However, Tehran insists that the sanctions must be lifted immediately after the nuclear deal takes effect.

There have been reports in the Western media that a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries could see Tehran allow international inspectors to visit its military sites. Tehran has categorically denied the reports, describing them as mere rumors and wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April in Switzerland

Monday, April 20, 2015

Today's links

1--Removing the oligarchs, RT

In his recent radio show, Solovyov revealed that after Putin entered office, a group of oligarchs thought to have firm standing in Russian politics visited him, saying something like “Do you realize that you’re a nominal president? That it’s us who’re going to rule the country?” Putin answered: “We’ll see.”
So the task was not simply to bring oligarchs to the heel, but to root them out of power altogether.
When asked about how he managed to curb the oligarch reign, Putin said: “The means differed.”

2--Korwin-Mikke: US:  "We have to start a war"

JKM: Yes—and it was also our operation. The snipers were also trained in Poland. Even Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung already wrote who was really shooting on the Maidan. The terrorists had shot 40 demonstrators and 20 police officers in order to provoke disorders. The truth is finally coming out....

WP: NATO has a defensive doctrine, while Putin is arming on a massive scale, is sending tanks and heavy equipment to Ukraine, and you claim this is not an aggressive policy?

JKM: What NATO? The Americans! War is useful only from the American point of view. There are interest groups in the US which are pushing for armed conflict: defense industry, financiers, some politicians, generals, but also many people (some of whom I know personally) from among the neoconservatives. They are analyzing the situation with cold logic: we have built the mightiest army in the world, but we also have 14 trillion dollars in debt, and we can’t afford further development. China, which supports Russia, will soon overtake us, therefore if we are to preserve our global hegemony, we have to start a war, in a few years at the latest. Ukraine is a very convenient pretext. At present time Poland is in a position to prevent World War III.

3--TPP: Absolute capitalism

TPP elevates capitalization — the expectation of profit — as a principle to the principles of, say, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of the Rights of Man. And then, government, when it provides concrete material benefits to its citizens, must “compensate” capitalists whenever their calculated, immaterial expectations — capitalization — have been “expropriated.” What a racket! TPP is the biggest enclosure in the history of the world!

4--‘Super taper tantrum’ ahead, warns IMF, FT

Mr ViƱals also laid out a scenario which he called a “Yellen conundrum” in which the central bank is forced to tighten policy more sharply than planned because longer-term interest rates do not respond to hikes in the Fed’s target range. “This exit is a lot more complex to figure out, and this is behind the uncertainty that there is in the markets,” he said...

“The liquidity-inhibiting impact of regulatory changes, industry consolidation and other secular factors will likely become more pronounced,” the IMF said

“Markets could be increasingly susceptible to episodes in which liquidity suddenly vanishes and volatility spikes,” it said, pointing to episodes including the price gyrations seen in US Treasury prices last October

5--Easy does it: World Braces for Taper Tantrum II Even as Yellen Soothes Nerves , Bloomberg

The Fed has been very clear about saying it would be a very steady process rather than an abrupt process, and I think that should calm people down,” Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said in Washington....

The test now is whether developing nations have done enough to insulate their economies from the threats of a higher U.S. dollar and capital flight once the Fed boosts borrowing costs for the first time since 2006. How successful they are will help determine the strength of global growth that’s already taking a hit from weaker expansions in China and Brazil...

The latest Bloomberg survey shows 71 percent of participating economists expect the Fed to raise rates from near zero in September after a slowing of U.S. activity diluted speculation it would act as soon as June..

1990s Repeat

The big worry is for a repeat of the mid-1990s, when tighter U.S. monetary policy and a rising dollar helped trigger a worldwide financial crisis that devastated the economies of Thailand, South Korea, Russia and Brazil. By contrast, emerging markets largely absorbed the last round of Fed rate increases, which began in 2004.

In a sign of possible vulnerabilities, the IMF calculates debt has outpaced gross domestic product growth in each major emerging market since 2007. Dollar denominated corporate debt in such economies also has tripled over the past five years to $1.4 trillion.
Turkey, Indonesia and Brazil appear most at risk of any chilling of external finance, analysts at Pavilion Global Markets said in a report this month. Hungary, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and South Africa are among those whose equity markets also have considerable foreign ownership, the Montreal-based brokerage said. India may be protected after it acted to reform its economy in recent years.

6--Another giant coup for China: China's Xi Jinping to unveil $46bn super highway to Pakistan, BBC

7---The International Monetary Fund’s main committee of central bank governors and finance ministers is working on ways for the fund to provide a better financial “safety net” during a crisis, Bloomberg

Liquidity to impede falling stocks

8--Ukraine to bar Russian investors from buying state assets, IT
"Kiev plans to admit Western investors to privatization of Ukrainian state assets and legislatively bar this opportunity for Russian business, Ukraine’s Economic Development and Trade Minister Aivaras Abromavichus said on Sunday. "If we start large-scale privatization, then, of course, we’ll need to make a normal roadshow, i.e. to show what we have and invite Western investors," he said in an interview with Ukrinform news agency.
 "We’ll not allow Russian investors to buy the assets and, therefore, we need to expand the geography," he added. ...
"Everyone knows which assets the state owns. We have already stated that the sale list will exclude strategic enterprises in nuclear power engineering, forestry and the railway sector," the Ukrainian economy minister said."Many other assets that are not located on the temporarily occupied territories must be gradually put up for sale, proceeding from the fact that the state is an ineffective owner of these assets in such a situation," the minister added.

9--Hassan Nasrallah: so-called ‘Islamic State’ is Wahhabi, every Muslim must fight it

10--I was skeptical about the entire enterprise of Western journalistic coverage of Syria, particularly by American correspondents in the region. There was a lot of stuff that’s been told and transmitted that contradicted the realities on the ground. They created this myth about a moderate, secular group called the Free Syrian Army. And they were, in fact, attacking people like myself and others who were saying that the bulk of the fighting force of the so-called Syrian revolutionaries were militant fanatics of the bin Ladenite style. And in reality, we knew at the time that what is so-called the Free Syrian Army is no more than a coterie of criminal gangs and thugs that were running amok throughout the area of the so-called liberated sections of Syria, and they were engaged in sectarian kidnapping, ransoms, murder, indiscriminate shelling, and they would sometimes kidnap people, and they’d sell them to other gangs and so on.

11--Khamenei accuses US of creating Iran nuclear weapons ‘myth’ RT

Iran's supreme leader says the United States has created the “myth” of nuclear weapons to paint Tehran as a “source of threat.” The tough rhetoric comes days before nuclear talks are set to resume in Vienna.
"They created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat,” Khamenei said in a televised address to a hall of several hundred military commanders, as cited by Reuters. “No, the source of threat is America itself, with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions," he added.

The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, has meanwhile rejected a demand by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who said a final nuclear agreement must include inspections of Iranian military sites.

The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, has meanwhile rejected a demand by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who said a final nuclear agreement must include inspections of Iranian military sites.

12--Reuters----Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said a drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West was a threat to Moscow and had forced it to react.
"The United States and its allies have crossed all possible lines in their drive to bring Kiev into their orbit. That could not have failed to trigger our reaction," he told an annual security conference in Moscow.

Echoing his comments, General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told the meeting: "Considering themselves the winners of the Cold War, the United States decided to reshape the world to fit its needs.
"Aiming at complete dominance, Washington stopped taking into account the interests of other countries and respect international law."

13--Moscow sees US troops in Ukraine as step one to supplies of US weapons

14--Iran’s top diplomat noted in his message that: "To seal the anticipated nuclear deal, more political will is required."

"The Iranian people have shown their resolve by choosing to engage with dignity," Zarif said. "It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion."
"Iran has been clear: The purview of our constructive engagement extends far beyond nuclear negotiations," he went on. "Good relations with Iran’s neighbors are our top priority."

"Our rationale is that the nuclear issue has been a symptom, not a cause, of mistrust and conflict [with the West]," he said. "Considering recent advances in symptom prevention, it is time for Iran and other stakeholders to begin to address the causes of tension in the wider Persian Gulf region."
"One cannot confront Al Qaeda and its ideological siblings, such as the so-called Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state, in Iraq, while effectively enabling their growth in Yemen and Syria," Zarif stressed.
He highlighted the need for "establishment of a collective forum for dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, to facilitate engagement", saying that "Yemen would be a good place to start."

15---Al-Qaeda Routs Yemen Army, Seizes Major Weapons Depot
 , antiwar

16--"There will be three streams of 300 fighters of the national guard. Three streams of eight weeks. Then joint exercises," Avakov said. "After completing the exercises, the U.S. partners will provide the national guard units with a special ammunition and communications equipment.”

17--Early in the war in Syria I was warning--among others but not in mainstream US media--that an ugly terrorist threat is about to emerge in Syria facicilitated by Gulf funding and arming and with the full support of the US government.  Simiarly, there is a danger perhaps bigger looming in Yemen. Saudi regime is resorting to the use of Al-Qa`idah aginast the Huthis, and allowed them to take over an airport and maybe an oil field.  All that with US bombs and rockets provided to the Saudis, and possibly indirectly to Al-Qa`idah.

the evil America has wrought

The Saudi-US-GCC alliance in Yemen is working hand-in-hand with Al-Qa`idah. What the Saudi regime calls "rebels" or "resistance" in Yemen are none other than Al-Qa`idah terrorists. The same game was played in Syria, of course. Will Richard Engel now claim that he was kidnapped by Huthis, I wonder?

Echoing his comments, General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told the meeting: "Considering themselves the winners of the Cold War, the United States decided to reshape the world to fit its needs.
"Aiming at complete dominance, Washington stopped taking into account the interests of other countries and respect international law."

Famous Russian poems of WW2
Wait for Me
Do Not Call Me, Father

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Today's Links

“All the signs are that things are worsening,” said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the agency. “Basic services are on the verge of collapse. It’s just getting worse by the day.” NYT

1--Chemical Weapons Used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen Kill Scores of Civilians, sputnik

2--Not so quiet on the eastern front‏

3--Top Yemen scholars in the West condemn Saudi Arabia’s war, WA Post

The targets of the campaign include schools, homes, refugee camps, water systems, grain stores and food industries," warns the letter. "This has the potential for appalling harm to ordinary Yemenis as almost no food or medicine can enter."

The Saudi intervention followed the steady collapse of the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who came to power with Saudi backing in 2012. A rebellion led by the Houthis, a Shiite political movement, seized Yemen's capital Sanaa last year. Hadi fled his sanctuary in the southern city of Aden last month as Houthi forces approached and is now in Riyadh.

We write as scholars concerned with Yemen and as residents/nationals of the United Kingdom and the United States. The military attack by Saudi Arabia, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council states (but not Oman), Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, the UK and above all the US, is into its third week of bombing and blockading Yemen. This military campaign is illegal under international law: None of these states has a case for self-defense. The targets of the campaign include schools, homes, refugee camps, water systems, grain stores and food industries. This has the potential for appalling harm to ordinary Yemenis as almost no food or medicine can enter. Yemen is the poorest country of the Arab world in per capita income, yet rich in cultural plurality and democratic tradition. Rather than contributing to the destruction of the country, the US and UK should support a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and use their diplomatic influence to strengthen the sovereignty and self-government of Yemen. As specialists we are more than aware of internal divisions within Yemeni society, but we consider that it is for the Yemenis themselves to be allowed to negotiate a political settlement.

4--Navy has seven combat ships around Yemen as Saudi-led blockade continues, WA Post

US provides support for Saudi massacre of Yemen civilians.

5--Yemeni Army Tries to Safeguard Oil Fields as Qaeda Fighters Advance, NYT

Qaeda fighters have seized the airport, government buildings and a refinery around Al Mukalla, establishing themselves as the most powerful local force. In an effort to win popular support, they have begun calling themselves the Sons of Hadhramaut and have promised to quickly return control of the city to local civilian leaders. When they seized a major army base outside of the city on Friday, they allowed the soldiers inside to leave unharmed, according to a local tribal leader....

The United Nations, citing Yemeni Health Ministry reports, said at least 767 people had been killed and more than 2,900 wounded in recent weeks, and Mr. Schweizer said he had heard some estimates of more than 1,000 people killed. Intense fighting has kept medical teams from collecting the dead in some places, he said...

“All the signs are that things are worsening,” said Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the agency. “Basic services are on the verge of collapse. It’s just getting worse by the day.”

6--ISIL responsible for Jalalabad deadly attacks: President, press tv
Assim 5 hours ago
The funny thing is that Ashraf Ghani wanted to send 10 000 Afghan soldiers to fight the poor people of Yemen and protect the interests of the same wahabbi/takfiris who call themselves the Islamic State.

8--‘Saudi princes planned to down Air Force One with missile’: 9/11 terrorist gives damning testimony, RT

A former Al-Qaeda member has revealed a strong connection between the terrorist group and the Saudi Royal family in the 1990s. More notably, he alleges that Saudi princes and terrorists discussed a plan to shoot Air Force One out of the sky.
The revelations came in the form of a testimony, delivered from a maximum-security prison, where Zacarias Moussaoui is incarcerated.
According to the New York Times, Moussaoui submitted the claim on his own initiative. He sent a letter to the judge presiding over the lawsuit filed by family members of 9/11 victims against the government of Saudi Arabia.
The meeting discussing the plan to down Air Force One allegedly took place at the kingdom’s embassy in Washington DC....

“My impression was that he was of completely sound mind — focused and thoughtful,” said a Philadelphia lawyer questioning him.
It should be noted that allegations of ties between top Saudi businessmen, the political elite and Al-Qaeda are nothing new. They have been substantiated by evidence in the past. Bin Laden himself was the son of a Saudi construction magnate, and the money trail existed before the 2001 attacks.
At the same time, it’s also known that the Saudi family had collaborated with the US as well to finance Islamic militants, many of whom ended up in what would later become Al-Qaeda. This was during the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan in the 1980s

9--Markets face new threat as US Federal Reserve ponders interest rate rise

For much of Washington and the world’s economic leaders, China’s creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank crystallized the choice policy makers face. Earlier this month, Lawrence Summers, who was a top economic adviser for both President Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama, declared that China’s establishment of a new economic institution and Washington’s failure to keep its allies from joining it signaled “the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system.”

For years, China had threatened to establish institutions to rival those dominated by the West, like the I.M.F., World Bank and Asian Development Bank — or even to establish its currency, the renminbi, as a reserve currency to rival the dollar.
In 2010, Mr. Obama brokered a deal to raise China’s stake in the I.M.F. to 6 percent from 3.8 percent, still far below the United States’ vetoing share of 16.5 percent but enough to give Beijing a larger say. Congress has blocked the proposed adjustment.

Meantime, China’s international lending has soared. Fred P. Hochberg, who heads the Export-Import Bank, said that in the last two years alone, Chinese state-run lenders have lent $670 billion. Ex-Im has lent $590 billion since it was created during the Depression of the 1930s.
With nearly $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, China has plenty of resources to project its rising economic power. For example, China’s president, Xi Jinping, plans to offer $46 billion to Pakistan for infrastructure assistance that would open new transportation routes across Asia and challenge the United States as the dominant power in the region