Friday, May 8, 2015

Today's Links

1--Kerry in Riyadh: A meeting of war criminals, wsws

The White House and the Pentagon have backed Saudi Arabia to the hilt since the war began, rushing it fresh arms, including deadly cluster bombs, banned by the vast majority of the world’s nations because of their murderous effect upon civilians. It has set up a US command center in Riyadh to supply the Saudi Air Force with targeting intelligence, and it has dispatched US Air Force KC-135 Stratotankers to the region to carry out daily aerial refueling of Saudi warplanes, so that the airstrikes can continue around the clock...

The US president is scheduled to hold a summit at Camp David next week with the crowned royals of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He is prepared to offer them an advanced ballistic missile defense system as well as bunker buster bombs.
CNN quoted a senior US official as saying that “the president’s goal is building a defense infrastructure and architecture for the Gulf region that also includes maritime security, border security, and counter-terrorism.”
In other words, the Obama administration is further solidifying US reliance on the Saudi monarchy as a key pillar of its drive for domination of the strategically vital and oil-rich Middle East. Even as the US and the other major powers negotiate an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, Washington is building up Saudi Arabia and the other reactionary Gulf states for a possible war against Iran....

Even as it continued bombing Yemeni cities, the Saudi air force, with Washington’s blessings, dropped arms and supplies this week to Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) forces in Yemen, a movement that the Obama administration had previously portrayed as the paramount terrorist threat. As the most rabidly sectarian enemies of the Houthis—inspired by the Saudi monarchy’s state religion of Wahhabi Islamism that animates similar movements, from ISIS to Boko Haram—AQAP has now been recast as Yemeni patriots.

2---The Erdogan-Salman Pact Over Syria Creates Un-Islamic State 2.0

 it's being widely reported that Turkish President Erdogan and new Saudi King Salman agreed to a de-facto alliance over Syria when the former visited the new regent last March, meaning that pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups led by Turkey are fighting alongside Wahhabist ones led by the Saudis, or put another way, that mortal Mideast enemies are now wartime comrades...

When ISIL fell out of favor with the West and the Gulf States and was no longer the fully controllable vanguard of regime change that it once was, that's when the US suggested that the Saudis and Turks, its regional Lead From Behind partners and official "Syrian rebel" trainers, sit down and reach an agreement in order to create the un-"Islamic State" 2.0, now called the Army of Conquest. Just like ISIL, it would receive state support in its planned meteoric rise as it brings together a hodge-podge of anti-government and terrorist misfits, and as with its precursor and other terrorist forefathers (notably the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda), it too will likely spiral out of its creators' control and rapidly go rogue. In any case, the Army of Conquest/un-Islamic State 2.0 couldn't have been created had it not been for the resolution of the Qatari-Saudi Cold War and Doha's bequeathing of Muslim Brotherhood leadership to Ankara.....

The subsequent combination of the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabis, and al-Nusra forms the core of the Army of Conquest.
3--A warning from the generals of the former GDR: "Haven’t the recent US/NATO wars brought enough grief ?"

4--Runs still threaten the repurchase market: 2014 in review, repowatch

The structure of the repurchase market makes it particularly vulnerable to runs. Here’s how that works.
On the repurchase market, lenders make short-term loans to borrowers. Because these repo loans are only for overnight or for just a few days, the lenders can quickly withdraw in times of trouble, by refusing to renew the old loan or to make a new one. The lender just suddenly demands its money back.

We’re talking big money here.  More than $3 trillion is outstanding on the U.S. repurchase market every day, compared to less than $300 billion that typically trades daily on the U.S. stock markets. The $3 trillion flows throughout the financial markets, making its way to investors, corporations, businesses, governments, pension plans, insurance companies, and speculators.
If that flow stops, commerce stops.
Repo lenders are almost any large pool of money, like money market funds, hedge funds, government and corporate treasuries, pension plans, and endowments. Repo borrowers are almost any large participants in the financial markets, but especially investment banks and their broker-dealer operations.

When the repo lenders withdrew in 2007 and 2008, this created a panic that threatened to bankrupt the investment banks, most prominently the Big Five: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. All five were saved by becoming parts of commercial bank companies except Lehman Brothers which failed.

5--White House psychologist implicated in CIA torture now helping FBI
6--Gazprom, Ankara agree to start Turkish Stream gas deliveries in Dec 2016

7--Iran: Europe gas pipeline not a priority  press tv

8--A top Iranian energy official says a total of 14 domestic consortia have voiced readiness to finance the construction of a pipeline that will transport natural gas from Iran to its western neighbor, Iraq., press tv

9--Trans Adriatic Pipeline project open to Iran when sanctions removed

At the beginning of 2012, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
The sanctions were imposed over allegations about possible diversion in Iran's nuclear program toward military objectives. Iran has categorically rejected the allegation, noting that its civilian nuclear program is only meant for peaceful purposes.
After eight days of marathon talks, Iran and the six members of the P5+1 group – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany – reached a mutual understanding on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.
The pipeline project is currently co-owned by the British Petroleum (BP) (20%), Azerbaijan’s state oil company, SOCAR (20%), Norway’s Statoil (20%), Belgium’s Fluxys (19%), Spain’s Enag├ís (16%), and Swiss-based Axpo (5%).

10--Iran says US firms to lose to EU rivals once sanctions lifted

11--Nations ready to move beyond Iran bans despite US Congress move: German envoy

12--Stock Buybacks Hit New Records, WSJ
Stock buybacks are notching new records on several fronts.
U.S. companies announced $141 billion of new stock buyback programs last month, the highest level ever for new buyback programs during a single month and an increase of 121% from April 2014, according to a count by Birinyi Associates Inc.
The rise now puts 2015 on pace to reach $1.2 trillion worth of announced buyback programs, shattering the 2007 record of $863 billion in authorized buybacks, Birinyi said Thursday.
The research firm attributes the April rise to new programs of $50 billion a piece by Apple Inc. and General Electric Corp.GE +1.39% Those programs, for their part, are tied for the largest ever for an individual company.
Stock buybacks have been widely cited as giving fuel to the bull market in stocks, now in its sixth year. Corporations have amassed massive cash stockpiles in the years since the financial crisis, plowing much of it into shareholder friendly activities like buybacks and dividends. Cash held by S&P 500 companies stood at a record $1.43 trillion as of the end of the fourth quarter, according to FactSet.
To be sure, Birinyi’s count includes only buyback authorizations, which give companies the ability—but not the obligation—to repurchase stock. But history shows that companies come close to maxing out their programs; last year, companies bought back $677.5 billion of stock, or 81% of their authorized amount

13--Worse not better: Bond market sell-off signals mounting financial crisis

In addition to the gyrations on the bond market, another indication of mounting financial instability is contained in a report issued today which claims that emerging markets—a target for speculators in search of higher profits—have suffered a bigger exit of capital over the last three quarters than that experienced in the financial crisis of 2008–2009. The total outflow from the 15 largest such markets in the nine months the end of March was just over $600 billion, compared to an outflow of $545 billion in the same period to March 2009.

A spokesman for the firm publishing the results said the selloff could continue into the second quarter of the year. An even bigger contraction has been recorded in the foreign currency reserves of emerging markets; these have plummeted by more than $374 billion from December last March, amid falling growth rates—down to 3.9 percent in February from 4.1 percent the previous month.
While it is not clear yet where the losses in European financial markets have been sustained—and they could run into many billions of dollars—the potential for another financial catastrophe was made clear in a report issued by the Joint Committee of European Supervisory Authorities earlier this week.
It covered conditions in financial markets from September 2014 to March this year in the lead-up to this week’s sell-off. The report began by noting that since the last report in August “financial system risks” had “intensified further.”

Persistent low interest rates had sustained the demand for riskier investments and provided investors with incentives for enhancing their returns. “This is frequently achieved by renewed build-up of leverage [that is, increased debt]” with such increases “mainly limited to financial institutions outside the banking system.”...

The report also gave the lie to the claim, advanced by financial authorities in support of the program of quantitative easing, that in the long run it will provide a boost to the real economy.
Describing investment levels as “anaemic” and remaining below the pre-2008 trend, it said that with low growth rates, savers turn to bubbles to reach their targets and “over time, productive investments are crowded out, as real resources are misdirected.”
That is to say, far from leading to an improvement in the real economy via increased investment, the policies of the central banks, which have fuelled bubbles and enabled the accumulation of vast profits via financial speculation, make an already dire situation even worse.
The worsening state of the global economy has also been highlighted by figures on the American economy, which show that it all but stagnated in the first quarter this year, recording an expansion of just 0.2 percent. It would have been negative but for a build-up of inventories, often an indicator of recession

14--Mystery" Buyer Of Stocks In The First Quarter Has Been Identified

15--Liquidity illusions

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz, told Business Insider. He went on:
Aided and abetted by ultra-loose central bank policies, investors have collectively embraced a liquidity illusion – or, to be more precise, stumbled into a liquidity delusion.
As a group, they believe that, should conditions cause them to change their collective mind, there will be enough liquidity in markets to reposition their portfolios with relative ease and at a relatively low cost. But this belief runs counter to both structural conditions on the ground and recent market signals

16--Confidence tanks

17--Why are stocks so high?

Despite all the claims that U.S. companies are awash with cash and have “never had it so good,” an analysis by investment bank SG Securities calculates that in reality Corporate America has “overspent” in recent years to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Over the past five years, equity prices have almost doubled — but so has the net debt of nonfinancial companies. Both have outstripped a 60% rise in profits.

Or, to put it another way, since March 2009, the cash pile of non-financial U.S. corporations has risen by $570 billion, but debt has risen by $1.6 trillion.
Indeed over the past year net debt has risen about 20%,SG estimates — while gross cash flows have risen a more modest 4%.
Indeed, “it is also those companies with the weakest sales growth that are buying back the most,” warns SG quantitative strategist Andrew Lapthorne in a new report for clients ...

According to Federal Reserve data, non-financial corporate businesses owe 37% of the value of their net worth. That’s down from a peak of 45% in 2009. But that’s still higher than the 34% registered in 2007, at the peak of the last boom.
It’s no mystery why so many companies have been ramping up debt, either.
The money is virtually free. The Federal Reserve’s policy of zero percent interest rates has made savers so desperate for income that they’ve been willing to buy corporate bonds at pitifully low yields. The average yield on BAA-rated corporate bonds touched an all-time low of 4.29% in January, according to ratings agency Moody’s. (BAA is the lowest level of investment grade bond). In May, 2000, the yield approached 9%.

Corporate CEOs get paid these days for driving up stock prices. Their performance targets are often compared to the total returns on their company stock. Their biggest rewards come in the form of restricted stock units and options. So borrowing other people’s money for free and using it to drive up the stock price is a great deal for them.
Where does this leave the ordinary investor?
They say “the trend is your friend,” and maybe this game will just keep going for a long time. Anyone trying to call the next correction in the stock market is probably on a fool’s errand.
Yet it is a financial certainty that rising debt levels imply rising risks. The most interesting question is whether the bulk of that risk is being carried by stock investors or bond investors. Time will reveal all.

18--Violent bond moves signal tectonic shifts in global markets, AEP

'It is absolute pandemonium in the fixed income markets. Everybody has been trying to get out at the same time but the door is getting smaller,' says RBS

19--98% Of Q1 Consumer Credit Was Used For Student And Car Loans

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Today's Links

When growth is slower-than-expected, stocks go down. When inflation is higher-than-expected, bonds go down. When inflation is lower-than-expected, bonds go up." - Ray Dalio

Once you bring the rapid change in major benchmark prices and a change in the architecture of the global financial system together, you could end up with outcomes that are pretty painful, and certainly unknowable.”...

1--London bankers plotting to bring down the Eurozone, says Juncker
2--5-star resort opens for ISIS supporters in Iraq

3--Ayatollah Khamenei further described the US government as the most “disgraced government in the world,” adding that one reason for this loss of honor is the explicit US support for the Saudi aggression against Yemen.
“The Americans are supporting the massacre of the Yemeni people without any shame, but they accuse Iran, which is after (sending) medical aid and food to the Yemeni people, of interfering in this country and sending weapons,” the Leader said.

4--Saudi war on Yemen has failed: Hezbollah chief

“They claimed that they want to fight terrorism but they are offering arms to al-Qaeda and bombing the popular committees to prevent them from reaching the regions where al-Qaida is operating. They have prevented any humanitarian aid from reaching Yemen,” he stressed

the Americans have revealed their true intentions through their attempt to bestow legitimacy on the fragmentation of Iraq, and this is what the US Congress is trying to do, he noted.
The draft of a US annual defense bill, which was released on April 27 by the House Armed Services Committee, urges the US government to recognize separate Kurdish and Sunni states and provide them with at least 25 percent of the USD-715-million aid money allegedly planned to be given to the Iraqi government to help it fight the ISIL terrorist group.
The draft bill also says the figure could even amount to 60 percent of the money, about USD 429 million.
The bill mandates that “the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard be deemed a country,” adding that doing so “would allow these security forces to directly receive assistance from the United States.”

5--First Quarter GDP Likely Negative as Trade Deficit Soars

7--Liquidity drought could spark market bloodbath, warns IIF
Evaporating liquidity and higher US interest rates will cause huge market swings with potentially catastrophic consequences, Institute of International Finance warns

Corporate bond inventories have fallen by 75pc in the US and 50pc in Europe since 2007, according to IIF data. While much of this has been driven by banks unwinding large credit books, regulation has also discouraged them from holding large quantities of bonds that could help cushion violent swings in prices.
Mr Adams said a “dramatic revolution” of the players and risks of market making had also pushed risk “out into the shadows” of non-bank lending.

“We’ve rewired and re-engineered the global financial regulatory system and as a result we’re having profound impacts on institutional arrangements. At the same time we’ve had this rapid change in benchmark prices such as a 50pc drop in the price of oil, a rapid change in the dollar and other exchange rates and another drop in commodity prices,” he said.
“Once you bring the rapid change in major benchmark prices and a change in the architecture of the global financial system together, you could end up with outcomes that are pretty painful, and certainly unknowable.”...

Credit to non-bank borrowers outside the United States has grown to $9 trillion, from $6 trillion since the financial crisis, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). IIF data show emerging market dollar denominated debt has more than doubled to $2.6 trillion in a decade.
The BIS measure, which includes lending through banks registered in other jurisdictions, shows the figure is closer to $4.5 trillion today, leaving the world more sensitive to changes in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.
Meanwhile, global bond markets have grown from $30 trillion in 2000 to almost $90 trillion. However, the IIF has highlighted that trading volumes in US bond markets have fallen by 20pc compared with 2005.

8--Economic Policy Turned Inside Out, Stephen Roach, Project Syndicate

The world economy is in the grips of a dangerous delusion. As the great boom that began in the 1990s gave way to an even greater bust, policymakers resorted to the timeworn tricks of financial engineering in an effort to recapture the magic. In doing so, they turned an unbalanced global economy into the Petri dish of the greatest experiment in the modern history of economic policy. They were convinced that it was a controlled experiment. Nothing could be further from the truth....

Despite the abject failure of Japan’s approach, the rest of the world remains committed to using monetary policy to cure structural ailment...

But fear not, claim advocates of unconventional monetary policy. What central banks cannot achieve with traditional tools can now be accomplished through the circuitous channels of wealth effects in asset markets or with the competitive edge gained from currency depreciation....

Although the Fed expanded its balance sheet from less than $1 trillion in late 2008 to $4.5 trillion by the fall of 2014, nominal GDP increased by only $2.7 trillion. The remaining $900 billion spilled over into financial markets, helping to spur a trebling of the US equity market. Meanwhile, the real economy eked out a decidedly subpar recovery, with real GDP growth holding to a 2.3% trajectory – fully two percentage points below the 4.3% norm of past cycles.
Indeed, notwithstanding the Fed’s massive liquidity injection, the American consumer – who suffered the most during the wrenching balance-sheet recession of 2008-2009 – has not recovered. Real personal consumption expenditures have grown at just 1.4% annually over the last seven years. Unsurprisingly, the wealth effects of monetary easing worked largely for the wealthy, among whom the bulk of equity holdings are concentrated. For the beleaguered middle class, the benefits were negligible.

It was as if a limb body was banging against the inner walls of the cell in the van as it drove along.
When I got in the van I didn't hear nothing,  It was a smooth ride. We went straight to the police station. All I heard a little banging for about 4 seconds, and I'm thinking he's banging his head the whole time. Now I know they did something to him and his body been wobbling back there, yo. Cuz he can't hurt himself in the back of no paddy wagon.
He goes on to describe how Officers at the station claimed that Freddie "must have swallowed something" once he was revived by paramedics which is what we've heard via an anonymous police sources who spoke with Megyn Kelly.
According to the preliminary autopsy report, Gray was unresponsive by the time he reached the police station, which is exactly the period in which Mr. Allen was also in the van. He could not have been intentionally banging his head because he wasn't conscious to intentionally do anything at that time.  Also the severity of the force as far greater than that which a man handcuffed in a tiny cell could have manually inflicted on himself and Miller later described to Chris Hayes, and she had previous stated on Morning Joe.
The force of this injury is akin to a car accident. That is much more force you would get than trying to bang your head against the wall of a van,” Miller during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, pointing out that Gray was also unresponsive and therefore unable to bang his head against the wall of the van in the first place.

11--Greenwald on Lynch

I found the reaction to Loretta Lynch nomination to be genuinely remarkable, because if you look at the people who are demanding her confirmation and cheering her confirmation and what they believe, there’s a universe of distance between their beliefs and the things that she believes and what she has done in her career.

She is essentially a fairly conservative, pro-security state, pro-penal state federal prosecutor who has spent her career supporting and upholding this evil system of mass incarceration. To cheer her simply because of the historic nature of her appointment — which, of course, is significant, her being the first African-American woman to serve in that position — without regard to the things that she’s actually going to do in pursuit of these policies, I think is mind-numbingly irrational....

Is there a connection between the era of mass incarceration and the era of the burgeoning national security state?
Oh they’re completely connected and inextricably linked. There’s so many different similarities that bind them together, but the most important one is just the mentality. Part of the War on Terror is how we’re taught to think that once you have a group of people who are identified as some kind of menace or threat to security, essentially anything can be done to them. They can be killed or brutalized or imprisoned without any real due process, and that’s all justified because they’ve demonstrated themselves to be a threat 

By Patrick Martin
6 May 2015
The Middle East is a powder keg, and American imperialism is the leading arsonist, both in deploying its own military forces and selling vast (and highly profitable) caches of weapons to its client states throughout the region. That list, of course, includes the state of Israel, the most heavily armed in the region, with an estimated stockpile of at least 250 nuclear bombs, along with missiles, warplanes and submarines capable of delivering them.
The opening of the war games in Jordan follows reports in the New York Times and Washington Post that members of the US-led “coalition” against ISIS are pressing for an extension of military operations against the Islamists into other countries, including Libya and the Sinai region of Egypt, as well as unspecified repressive measures in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen.... 
Some ten thousand troops began military exercises in Jordan on Tuesday, in the fifth annual “Eager Lion” war games led by the Pentagon. The drills are in preparation for a greatly expanded military conflict in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
A total of nine Arab countries—Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, and Iraq—join the US, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Belgium, Poland, Australia and Pakistan for the exercise.
But the US military will dominate Eager Lion, supplying 5,000 of the 10,000 troops, including headquarters, air, land, sea and special operations forces. During the two-week-long exercise, from May 5 through May 19, there will be more American troops in Jordan than in neighboring Iraq, where President Obama has dispatched some 3,000 troops to train Iraqi forces and conduct special operations warfare and airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

13--Reporter: what will prevent another Freddie Gray?Mosby: Accountability. R:There hasn't been any for so long. Mosby:You're getting it now.
I heard your calls of 'No justice, no peace,'" Mosby told her city on Friday. "However, your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray."

If there is to be a turning point in the national conversation on police brutality against unarmed black men, Mosby may have delivered just that.
Must read....

14--Lynch visits Baltimore

She also took pains to meet face-to-face with Baltimore’s embattled cops, calling them “the face of law enforcement” and laying a wreath at a police memorial in Washington.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch went to Baltimore on Tuesday looking for ways to calm roiling national tensions over police violence. Her visit showed just how difficult that will be.
Lynch, who was sworn in just hours before the Maryland city exploded into riots, had a packed day of meetings with a family looking for justice, police officers looking for respect, and community activists looking for swift action that can help their city heal....

Opening a pattern-and-practice investigation has the problem of creating tension with the police force at a time I’m sure they feel under siege...

Lynch met with representatives of the strife-ridden community who demanded more aggressive action from the Justice Department, including the launching of a Civil Rights Division “pattern-or-practice” probe into the Baltimore Police Department.
She also took pains to meet face-to-face with Baltimore’s embattled cops, calling them “the face of law enforcement” and laying a wreath at a police memorial in Washington....

Lynch began her trip with a closed-door meeting with Gray’s family. Lynch then met with community leaders, religious leaders and members of the Maryland congressional delegation. While some in the room have been pressing for a larger DOJ investigation into Baltimore police practices, the attorney general held her cards close to her vest, sounding more like a counselor than a prosecutor.
“We’re here to hold your hands and provide support,” she told the group.
Within minutes, Lynch was on her way to Baltimore police headquarters, where she saluted officers as heroes, including one injured when the windshield of his police car was shattered during the violence last week.
“Thanks to all of you, I’m looking at the hardest-working police officers in America,” she declared. “We are here to help you work through these struggles.”
When Lynch moved on to a visit at Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office, the talk was about “partnership,” not investigation or confrontation.

15--Loretta Lynch thanks Baltimore cops for their service during riots

16--No Justice in Baltimore: Margaret Kimberley

There should be no celebrating unless all of the police responsible for Freddie Gray’s death are convicted. There should be no celebrating until Allen Bullock is released from jail. There should be no congratulations to the mayor, congressman or state attorney until they explain why the police prevented children from leaving school and helped to provoke the events which were then so loudly condemned.

The toll of police murder in this country is horrific and proves that claims of American justice and democracy are blatant lies. In 2014 alone, 1,100 people were killed by police. These police are rarely even charged, much less prosecuted successfully. Freddie Gray died in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland and a medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide. The State’s Attorney has brought charges against six officers, but that by no means gives any assurance of justice....

Black life itself is criminalized in this country. Driving while black, bike riding while black, walking while black, are all potential justifications for police execution. The idea of white rights over the lives of black people has been completely normalized and accepted. That is why even murders committed on camera are not punished and that is why charges against the officers who killed Freddie Gray are not yet cause for celebration.
Police are modern day slave patrollers and they are given carte blanche to mete out any treatment they choose to black people.”...
many of the protesters who originally took to the streets were criticized by the press and politicians. Those who damaged property were singled out for condemnation and some were singled out for punishment. Allen Bullock is an 18-year old who was photographed vandalizing a police car. His parents wanted him to do “the right thing” and turn himself in to the police.As every black person ought to know, that is always a bad idea. Young Mr. Bullock has been charged with eight misdemeanors but he is still in custody and must post $500,000 bail in order to be released. None of the six officers charged had such a high bail amount. The killers are walking the streets and a young man who made an unwise decision will sit in jail for as long as the system chooses.

17--Ukraine: Donetsk Republic Nationalizes Banks, Draws Ire Of NATO and World Banking Cartel


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today's links

The road to the future leads us smack into the wall. We simply ricochet off the alternatives that destiny offers: a demographic explosion that triggers social chaos and spreads death, nuclear delirium and the quasi-annihilation of the species… Our survival is no more than a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years.   Jacques Cousteau

Hezbollah chief further referred to the developments in Iraq, saying the US is seeking to split Iraq under the pretext of fighting the ISIL Takfiri group.
“After the IS [ISIL] seized control of Mosul and started threatening the rest of the provinces and the region, a US-led international coalition was formed to fight it. Back then we said that the US is not serious in fighting the IS [ISIL] and that it would utilize the threat of the IS [ISIL] in the region to realize its own scheme for the region. We said that the US has a scheme to fragment these regions on sectarian and ethnic basis -- Arabs, Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites,” Nasrallah added.  Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah

2--CFR says China must be defeated
3--What is the US doing in central asia
4--U.S. Firms Shoulder Rising Debt, wsj

5--Afghan talks agree on reopening Taliban political office
6---In Europe's Natural Gas Market The U.S. Cannot Compete With Russia
7--The plan to split Iraq, press tv
Nowadays, the Americans have revealed their true intentions through their attempt to bestow legitimacy on the fragmentation of Iraq, and this is what the US Congress is trying to do, he noted.
The draft of a US annual defense bill, which was released on April 27 by the House Armed Services Committee, urges the US government to recognize separate Kurdish and Sunni states and provide them with at least 25 percent of the USD-715-million aid money allegedly planned to be given to the Iraqi government to help it fight the ISIL terrorist group.
The draft bill also says the figure could even amount to 60 percent of the money, about USD 429 million.
The bill mandates that “the Kurdish Peshmerga, the Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard be deemed a country,” adding that doing so “would allow these security forces to directly receive assistance from the United States

8--Wider Trade Deficit Damps Growth Bets ,

The dollar snapped a three-day gain after the U.S. trade deficit widened in March to the highest level in more than six years, raising doubts that the economy was gaining traction.

The data, which showed the trade gap increasing the most in 18 years, followed a report last week that indicated U.S. growth stalled in first quarter. The focus turns to April payrolls data on May 8, as the Federal Reserve weighs whether the economy is strong enough to withstand the first interest-rate increase since 2006.
“The dollar is losing ground on a string of disappointments,” Alfonso Esparza, a senior currency analyst at Oanda Corp. in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. Weaker economic data suggest the Fed will wait until after June to raise rates, and “that change in expectations is bound to hurt the dollar,” he said

Even with the decline, the dollar is up 18 percent over the past 12 months, the most among 10 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Currency Indexes.

‘Negative Print’

The dollar slid after the trade shortfall jumped 43.1 percent to $51.4 billion, the largest since October 2008, according to Commerce Department figures, fueled by a record surge in imports as commercial activity resumed at West Coast ports following a resolution to labor disputes. It exceeded the highest estimate of 70 economists surveyed by Bloomberg

The issue really relates to the GDP calculation and the bearing it has in terms of probability of a negative print in the first quarter,” Alan Ruskin, the global head of Group of 10 foreign exchange at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, said by phone. “It’s going to be much harder for the Fed to tighten, in particularly June or July, if we just printed a negative first-quarter GDP.”

9---TREASURIES-Prices fall again, benchmark yield nears 2-month peak

Monday, May 4, 2015

Today's links

1--3 million still in some stage of foreclosure

1,409,000 properties that are 30 or more days, and less than 90 days past due, but not in foreclosure.
• 971,000 properties that are 90 or more days delinquent, but not in foreclosure.
• 782,000 loans in foreclosure process.

For a total of ​​3,162,000 loans delinquent or in foreclosure in March. This is down from 3,840,000 in March 2014.

The ruling states that immigrant mothers and their children cannot be held in detention facilities such as the for-profit jails in Karnes City and Dilley, Texas. The document also rules that it is inappropriate to even detain a child and their parent unless there is a flight or safety risk. Should the immigrants’ lawyers and government attorneys fail to reach an agreement within 30 days, Judge Gee could issue a final ruling.

The tentative court ruling could force Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to release immigrant women and children into the community and possibly end the Obama administration’s preferred policy of locking up immigrant families and speeding up their deportations. Bryan Johnson, an immigration attorney, told McClatchy news agency, “It’s the beginning of the end of family detention as we know it.”

More than 2,500 immigrant women and children have been imprisoned in four family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania since last July following a wave of immigration from Central America. The vast majority were fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries and in any humane country would be granted political asylum.

Instead the Obama administration responded by detaining 50,000 unaccompanied minors and 52,000 so-called “family units” at for-profit jails in deplorable conditions. More than 7,700 children were then deported without ever appearing in court, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times. At least 94 percent of those ordered deported had no attorney to represent them...

It should be noted that last year DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted that the policy of mass jailing of women and children was meant to punish those who cross the border illegally and deter others from fleeing their native countries.
As for the lie of maintaining public safety, it is worth recalling the horrific plight these immigrant families are forced to endure. One mother, Kenia Galeano, told the San Antonio Current that she and her 11-year-old son surrendered at the US-Mexico border in November after escaping Honduras because gang members were going to kill her after she reported one of them for threatening her family. She and her son were promptly arrested for crossing the border illegally and spent the next five months in the family detention center in Karnes City, Texas, while she fought against deportation.
After posting a $7,500 bail, a rare opportunity, she told the news outlet, “It was shocking. They can call it what they want, but it’s a prison. It’s bad enough for adults, but how are you going to have babies imprisoned? Kids can’t even run around, they must be within a yard of their mothers at all times

5--NATO & allies stage thousands-strong drills across Europe

Tavon Miles, another protester, expressed doubts that Mosby’s announcement of charges against the officers would end in a conviction. “You want to know what the real injustice here is? It’s that the kid who broke the police car’s window [during the eruption of social anger after Freddie Gray’s funeral last week] is still being held on a $500,000 bail, when the cops, who are charged with committing a murder, got $350,000 bail. That’s the injustice here.” Tavon added, “I’ve never even seen someone able to get bail for a murder charge.”

6--Buyback Bonanza, Margin Madness Behind US Equity Rally
7--Dow Fires 1,750 After Boosting Share Buyback Program To $10 Billion

8--Thus spake Bernanke.

Mr. Bernanke defends the Fed’s over-optimistic economic growth forecasts by saying the central bank has been overly pessimistic about unemployment. “The relatively rapid decline in unemployment in recent years shows that the critical objective of putting people back to work is being met,” Mr. Bernanke writes.

Now, that’s over-optimism. One reason the jobless rate has fallen to 5.5% is because so many people have left the workforce. The labor participation rate has plunged to 1978 levels during this supposedly splendid expansion. Most economists acknowledge that if the participation rate had stayed constant, the jobless rate would still be close to 8%. The failure to attract the long-term unemployed into the job market is one reason the Fed continues to hold interest rates so low...

Mr. Bernanke also says that we “argue (again) for tighter monetary policy.” If lifting the fed-funds rate to 50 or 100 basis points after six years of near-zero policy is tighter money, then we plead guilty.

But perhaps Ben should consult Stanley Fischer, the Fed’s current vice chairman, who recently said on CNBC that “we are going to be changing monetary policy from the most extremely expansionary we’ve been able to do in all of history to an extremely expansionary monetary policy.” That doesn’t sound like a return to tight money. Lifting rates off zero means beginning an inevitable return to monetary normalcy that lets markets set rates and allocate capital.

We can understand that Mr. Bernanke doesn’t like being tagged with any responsibility for poor economic results. He absolved himself for any mistakes before the financial crisis too. But sooner or later he and the Fed have to stop using the financial crisis as the all-purpose excuse for slow growth. Even President Obama has stopped blaming George W. Bush for everything. Maybe Mr. Bernanke should stop blaming everyone else too.

9--As Israel Lobby Pushes Full-Access Inspections, US Makes False Claims on Iran Nuclear Deal

10--Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare gareth porter
 In Manufactured Crisis, I show that the claim of an Iranian nuclear-weapons program has been based on false history and falsified records. The description of the Iranian nuclear program presented in official documents, in commentaries by think-tank “experts,” and in the media bears no resemblance to the essential historical facts. ....

The U.S. produced various items of evidence over the years to demonstrate the felonious intent of the Iranian program. Where did this evidence come from, and how well does it stand up to scrutiny?
The evidence adduced to prove that Iran secretly worked on nuclear weapons represents an even more serious falsification of intelligence than we saw in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
The obviously self-interested MEK member was thus the Iranian equivalent of the now-discredited Iraqi source known as “Curveball,” whose tales of mobile bioweapons labs in Saddam’s Iraq became the centerpiece of the Bush case for invading Iraq. It is well documented, however, that the Israeli Mossad was using the MEK to launder intelligence it didn’t want attributed to Israel, with the aim of influencing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and foreign governments. Further pointing to the Israeli origins of the documents is the fact that Israel was the only country in the world known to have a special office responsible for influencing news coverage of Iran’s nuclear program.....Some key points in the documents give away the fact that they were falsified. ...

And we now know from Mohamed ElBaradei’s 2011 memoirs that in 2009 Israel provided a new series of intelligence reports and documents to the IAEA that offered further claims of Iranian work on nuclear weapons both before and after 2003.
Those claims were ultimately published in an IAEA dossier of intelligence reports in November 2011. The most sensational assertion made there was that Iran had constructed a large metal cylinder for testing nuclear-weapons designs at its military-research base at Parchin in 2000. This led officials from the IAEA and some of its member states, including the United States, to charge that Iran was altering the site to eliminate evidence. But as I document in the book, Iran had allowed the IAEA to carry out inspections at ten sites of the agency’s choosing on two different occasions in 2005. Furthermore the IAEA obtained satellite images of the site covering February 2005 to February 2012, and found no indication that Iran had been concerned about hiding anything. Finally, a former chief IAEA inspector in Iraq, Robert Kelley, has said that the agency’s description of the alleged cylinder made no technical sense....

The IAEA came to play an even more partisan role after Yukia Amano of Japan replaced ElBaradei in November 2009. A WikiLeaks cable from July 2009 reveals that Amano promised U.S. officials he would be firmly in their camp on Iran in return for American support of his election as director general. “In their camp” could only have meant that he would support the publication of the intelligence dossier — based entirely on intelligence reports and documents from Israel — that ElBaradei had refused to authorize. The dossier’s November 2011 publication date was timed to provide a political boost to the U.S.-led campaign for crippling international sanctions against Iran....

I reveal for the first time in the book that a former undercover operative who brought a lawsuit against CIA leadership in 2004 claimed that a highly respected source in Iran had told him in 2001 that Iran had no intention of “weaponizing” its nuclear program. The CIA apparently never informed the White House of that information, and refused to circulate it within the intelligence community.
National Intelligence Estimates in 2001 and 2005, and a draft estimate in mid-2007, all concluded that Iran had a nuclear-weapons program. Paul Pillar, a former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East who participated in the 2001 and 2005 exercises, has recalled that no hard evidence of weaponization informed either estimate, and that their conclusion was based on inference. In the 2005 estimate and the 2007 draft estimate, the conclusion was influenced by the intelligence documents that had come from Israel by way of the MEK. The failure of the CIA’s well-staffed weapons-proliferation center to detect the fraud paralleled its failure to notice the obvious signs that the “Nigergate” document offered as evidence of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger was a rather amateurish fabrication

. The news media generally disgraced itself in its coverage of the Iraqi nuclear issue. How has it comported itself with respect to Iran?
With Iraq, there was at least dissent over issues like its alleged illegal importation of aluminum tubes, which reflected debates within the intelligence community. Coverage of Iran, on the other hand, has been virtually unanimous in reporting the official line without the slightest indication of curiosity about whether it might be false or misleading.

11--There goes the dollar

Iranian policymakers are hailing a recent initiative by the country to trade with Turkey and Russia in local currencies as a tactic to dodge the US-engineered sanctions.
MP Gholam-Ali Jafarzadeh has told the media that the initiative provides an efficient mechanism to make what Iranians have frequently referred to as “the cruel sanctions” ineffective.
“In fact, the more such deals [with other countries to trade in local currencies] are signed, the less effective will be the cruel sanctions,” Jafarzadeh told the Persian-language newspaper Aftab-e Yazd

Netanyahu travelled to the US in March and delivered a warning speech to the US Congress to stop a potential nuclear agreement with Iran.
The Israeli prime minister’s efforts to sabotage nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, Britain, Russia, China, France plus Germany – have angered Obama.

13--Why Iran must remain a US enemy

the Obama administration is no more likely to lurch into a new relationship with Iran than were previous US administrations. The reason is very simple: The US national security state, which has the power to block any such initiative, has fundamental long-term interests in the continuation of the policy of treating Iran as an enemy....

the most important factor in determining the policy of the US towards Iran is domestic electoral and bureaucratic politics - not Obama's personal geopolitical vision of the Middle East. The power of the Israeli lobby obviously will severely limit policy flexibility towards Iran for many years. And the interests of the most powerful institutions in the US national security state remain tied to a continuation of the policy of treating Iran as the premier enemy of the US. ...

Far from the Nixon-like fundamental strategic revision, as the Netanyahu camp and the Saudis have suggested, the Obama administration's diplomatic engagement with Iran over its nuclear programme represents a culmination of a series of improvised policy adjustments within an overall framework of coercive diplomacy towards Iran.
Despite Obama's embrace of diplomatic engagement with Iran as a campaign issue in 2008, when he entered the White House his real Iran policy was quite different. In fact, Obama's aim during his first term was to induce Iran to accept an end to its uranium enrichment programme.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Today's links

Today's quote:  According to the report: “Because the American effort to ‘integrate’ China into the liberal international order has now generated new threats to US primacy in Asia—and could eventually result in a consequential challenge to American power globally—Washington needs a grand strategy toward China that centres on balancing the rise of Chinese power rather than continuing to assist its ascendancy.”, WSWS

1--Trim tabs on buybacks, video , cnbc
2--The US Equity Bubble Depends On Corporate Buybacks; Here's The Proof, zero hedge

Here’s Goldman:
Of the 362 companies that have now reported 1Q results, 45% of companies have beaten earnings estimates (below the historical average of 46%) and 11% have missed estimates (vs. average of 15%). Next week, these companies, which represent more than 80% of the S&P 500 market cap, will have exited their repurchase blackout period and may resume buybacks, which should provide renewed support for the market. 
For those who require still more proof that the rally in US equities has become inextricably linked with corporations leveraging their balance sheets to repurchase their own shares, JPM is out with an in-depth look at buyback trends which strongly suggests — unsurprisingly —that buyback activity has indeed been very supportive of US shares over the last several years.
Via JPM:
Apple announced an expansion of its dividend and buyback scheme to return $200bn to shareholders by the end of March 2017, up from $130bn previously. This adds to the flurry of share buyback announcements this year bringing the YTD total of $315bn which in annualized terms ($945bn) is more than double last year’s $450bn (Figure 1). The doubling in announced share buybacks globally appears to be driven by US companies which are tracking a YTD pace that is 2.2 times last year’s pace. Non-US share are 1.4 times last year’s pace…

Net equity issuance is the most negative (i.e. aggressive equity withdrawals) it’s been since early 2008, and it’s been trending steadily lower for the better part of six years, which of course coincides perfectly with the inexorable rally in US stocks.  

3--Freddie Gray ‘conflicts of interest’: Baltimore police union calls for prosecutor to step aside, RT

4--The impending reset
Sound familiar??  It sure as hell does!  This is exactly what we are being told now.  Inventories are up, business spending has slowed, Capex is down but despite all of this recent economic weakness the Fed (and all mainstream economists) expect moderate growth this year.  Additionally that the economy will be supported by high profitability, strong corporate balance sheets and low interest rates.  Absolutely mind blowing how similar the storyline was back in March 2007 to today’s storyline.

5--The reason you can't afford to buy a home? The Fed

In the first quarter, the proportion of owner-occupant buyers fell to 63.2% of all residential sales, down from 65.8% in the fourth quarter last year, and down from 68.6% a year ago, RealtyTrac reported today. It was the lowest quarterly level in the data series going back to 2011.
Who were the other buyers? Investors. The report defined them as buyers who purchased a property but then had their property tax bill mailed to a different address. And these investors accounted for a record of 36.8% of all home sales...

But “institutional investors,” entities that buy 10 or more units a year, accounted for only 3.4% of total sales in Q1, the lowest level in the data series, down from 6.2% in Q1 2014, and from 8.7% during the heyday in Q1 2013. These big investors, including large PE firms – the “smart money” – have been losing interest for two years. But in the last quarter, they just about pulled up their stakes:...

Of all investors, 44.7% were all-cash buyers, down from 61% a year ago. Cheap debt is just too tempting. A large variety of easy-money financing options have become available for small investors as “a new crop of nationwide companies has emerged offering financing specifically for investment properties,” Blomquist said. I can attest to that because I get their spam in my inbox.
So small investors are piling into the market in record numbers, even as institutional investors are backing out, to where overall investor purchases hit a new record. And what happens? Prices soar. According to the report, the median price in March jumped 8% from a year ago

6--Timeline: What We Know About The Freddie Gray Arrest
7---Full video Gray arrest
8--Legal experts divided on Gray charges

9--Parasitism, plutocracy and economic depression

The IMF noted that business investment is at historic lows, significantly below the level experienced in the aftermath of any recovery since World War II. This assessment was borne out in the Commerce Department’s report on US economic growth, which showed that business fixed investment plunged by 3.4 percent over the previous quarter.
The slump in productive investment takes place even as corporations are sitting atop the largest cash hoard in history: US corporations alone have $1.4 trillion on their balance sheets.

Instead of using this money to invest, hire workers or raise wages, major US corporations are using it to buy back shares, increase dividends and engage in an orgy of mergers and acquisitions.
General Motors, which slashed pay of new-hires by fifty percent during the 2009 auto restructuring and is looking to cut labor costs even further in the upcoming contract, has announced a $5 billion share buy-back scheme, using its massive cash hoard to further enrich its wealthy shareholders.

Meanwhile energy giant Shell, which early this year waged a bitter struggle against oil refinery workers striking to demand higher pay and safety improvements, announced that it would make $70 billion available to buy up British oil producer BG group.
This year is shaping up to be one of the biggest for mergers and acquisitions in history, with a record $4.3 trillion available for merger activity, according to Credit Suisse....

Bernanke Payout..

The American state functions not to ameliorate this soaring inequality, but rather to facilitate the continuous enrichment of the corporate and financial aristocrats.
The institutions supposedly responsible for “regulating” the financial system do little more than cover up for and facilitate its crimes. This basic reality was expressed in the latest settlement between the United States and Deutsche Bank, in which the German bank last month received a wrist-slap fine for flagrantly helping to rig LIBOR, the key global interest rate, for its own enrichment.
Wall Street pays handsomely for the support and protection it receives from so-called financial regulators. A case in point is Ben Bernanke, the man who, as chairman of the Federal Reserve, oversaw the bank bailout and “quantitative easing” measures that transferred trillions of dollars onto the balance sheets of Wall Street.
Now, Bernanke is getting his payday: he has been hired by not one, but two leading financial institutions: the hedge fund Citadel and Pimco, one of the largest bond traders in the world, each of whom will pay him handsomely in exchange for services rendered.

10--US “Grand Strategy” for war against China laid out, wsws

“Revising US Grand Strategy Toward China...
The report’s central theme is that US global dominance is threatened by the rise of China and this process must be reversed by economic, diplomatic and military means....

Significantly, at the beginning of the report, its authors cite the Pentagon’s Defence Planning Guidance document of 1992, produced in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which insisted that US strategy had to “refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.”...

According to the report: “Because the American effort to ‘integrate’ China into the liberal international order has now generated new threats to US primacy in Asia—and could eventually result in a consequential challenge to American power globally—Washington needs a grand strategy toward China that centres on balancing the rise of Chinese power rather than continuing to assist its ascendancy.”

In the report’s words: “US support for China’s entry into the global trading system has thus created the awkward situation in which Washington has contributed towards hastening Beijing’s economic growth and, by extension, accelerated its rise as a geopolitical rival.”

Accordingly, in advancing the core elements of an American “grand strategy,” the authors place considerable importance on economic issues. As part of a plan to “vitalize” the economy, the US should “construct a new set of trading relationships in Asia that exclude China, fashion effective tools to deal with China’s pervasive use of geo-economic tools in Asia and beyond, and, in partnership with US allies and like-minded partners, create a new technology-control mechanism vis-a-vis China.”
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which currently excludes China and for which Obama is now seeking fast-track authority from the US Congress to negotiate, is regarded as essential. Failure to deliver it would “seriously weaken” the US grand strategy.

the report itself specifically rules out any accommodation with China. In their conclusion, the authors state: “[T]here is no real prospect of building fundamental trust, ‘peaceful coexistence,’ ‘mutual understanding,’ a strategic partnership, or a ‘new type of major country relations’ between the United States and China.”

11--Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China , CFR

12--Japan is a bug looking for a windshield...Japan is bust

Ultimately the pressure point remains the yen and in a currency war race to the bottom I have little doubt that Japan will be the unintentional winner. Our bold end March forecast of Y145/$ may have been missed (I was advised at the time never to give a point forecast with a date attached), but once we break the key Y122/$ multi-decade support level I think we will get to Y145 in a flash.

Regular readers will know that I am pretty horrified by the global Quantitative floodgates that have been opened since the 2008 Great Recession. Once an emergency measure of dubious effect, it is now a never ending stream of confetti money being thrown around the world to inflate asset prices. QE has now become the policy variable of first resort.

13--US jobs relapse raises fresh doubts on Fed tightening, AEP
Long-feared turning point in the global monetary cycle may be delayed yet again, offering another reprieve for dollar debtors across the world.

The closely-watched index of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) remained anaemic in April, confirming fears that the strong US dollar and energy crash in the once-booming shale states are taking a serious toll.
The employment component dropped sharply to 48.3, below the “boom-bust line” of 50 and the lowest in almost six years. The relapse is likely to set off alarm bells at the Fed, where chairman Janet Yellen pays very close attention to the labour market.
Overall manufacturing output failed to pick up as expected, remaining at a two-year low of 51.5, and looks too weak to power a full recovery in the second quarter.
There is now a clear risk that the US economy may slow to “stall speed” under the Fed’s model, defined as a “slow-growth phase at the end of expansions before falling into a recession”.

A separate report by Markit found that US manufacturing output in April fell to its lowest level this year, depressed by declining exports. ...

Huge numbers of people dropped out of the workforce after the financial crisis and have yet to be drawn back into the system.
The labour participation rate is still at a 37-year low of 62.7pc. The rate for males has dropped from 73.8pc to 69.3pc since 2007, a drastic fall that cannot be fully explained by changing technology or “structural” problems.
A new paper by Danny Blanchflower and Andrew Levin for the National Bureau of Economic Research argues that there are still large numbers of people with part-time jobs who want to work full-time. Once all forms of “hidden unemployment” are included, the shortfall reaches 3.3m jobs. The real unemployment rate is around 7.5pc.

14--Bernanke sellout
15--May 1 - A Terrific Day For U.S. Target Intelligence In Syria And Yemen, MoA
16--US Prisons House More Inmates Than Stalin's Gulags, RI

17--Why NATO Is Terrified of Russia, pepe escobar

In Ukraine, the Kremlin has been more than explicit there are two definitive red lines. Ukraine won’t join NATO. And Moscow won’t allow the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to be crushed.
We are coming closer to a potentially explosive deadline – when EU sanctions expire in July. An EU in turmoil but still enslaved to NATO – see the pathetic “Dragoon Ride” convoy from the Baltics to Poland or the “Atlantic Resolve” NATO show-off exercise - may decide to expand them, and even try to exclude Russia from SWIFT.

Washington’s master plan remains deceptively simple; to “neutralize” China by Japan, and Russia by Germany, with the US backing its two anchors, Germany and Japan. Russia is the de facto only BRICS nation blocking the master plan.
This was the case until Beijing launched the New Silk Road(s), which essentially mean the linking of all Eurasia into a “win-win” trade/commerce bonanza on high-speed rail, and in the process diverting freight tonnage overland and away from the seas.

18--Man who filmed Freddie Gray arrested 'at gunpoint'

The man who filmed the brutal arrest of African-American Freddie Gray by Baltimore police was arrested “at gunpoint” after he left a protest over police brutality.
Kevin Moore, 30, was arrested early on Friday in what he described as a clear case of “witness intimidation.”

19--UN warns of Yemen infrastructure collapse due to fuel shortage

They had assault weapons, rifles, they had everything — their tank, two choppers," he recalled. "They took me to the Western District [police station], never gave me charging papers or anything."
The majority black city of Baltimore has been the site of daily demonstrations since Gray's death on April 19, as tensions simmer over police brutality and discrimination against African Americans.

20--Exclusive - Britain told U.N. monitors of active Iran nuclear procurement: panel
21--Car sales down
Big letdown here. More Q2 downgrades on the way.
Still waiting for the burst of consumer spending from the drop in oil prices…

22--Oil prices could destabilize the financial system

23--ISM Mfg Index
There’s a new unwanted wrinkle in the ISM report and that’s weakness in employment, holding down the headline index to 51.5 in April, unchanged from March. Employment has been holding strong in other reports — but not in the ISM report where the index is down nearly 2 points to a sub-50 level of 48.3 to indicate month-to-month contraction. This is the first time this reading is in contraction since May 2013 and it’s the lowest reading since all the way back in September 2009....

24--U.S. manufacturing growth holds at low level in April, employment shrinks: ISM

The pace of U.S. manufacturing growth held at its slowest in almost two years in April, as a rebound in new orders was offset by employment shrinking to its lowest level in more than five years, according to an industry report released on Friday.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity was 51.5 in April, matching the March reading, which had been the lowest since May 2013. The reading fell shy of expectations of 52.0, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. This was the 29th-consecutive headline reading at or above 50.
The employment index fell into contractionary territory for the first time since May 2013, dropping to 48.3, the lowest reading since September 2009. In March, the employment sub-index came in at 50.0.