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.

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