Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Today's links

   Come and see our overflowing morgues and find our little ones for us...
  You may find them in this corner or the other, a little hand poking out, pointing out at you...
  Come and search for them in the rubble of your "surgical" air raids...
  Come and see them amassed in the garbage dumps, scavenging morsels of food...
under-nourished or dying from disease...
   Come and see, come and see....” 

(“Flying Kites” Layla Anwar)

“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis…It’s a scintillating stratagem.” Harold Pinter, Nobel acceptance speech


Buybacks have been trending lower for the past two years, which is a cautionary longer-term signal for U.S. equities,” said Winston Chua, analyst at TrimTabs.  “Along with central bank asset purchases, buybacks have been a key pillar of support for the bull market.” Somewhat surprisingly, the decline in buybacks takes place even as corporations issue record amounts of debt which in previous years was largely put toward stock repurchases but is increasingly going to fund maturing debt due to a rising rollover cliff in the coming year. 

The U.S. stock market isn’t likely to get as much of a boost from buybacks as it did in recent years,” noted Chua.  “Apart from big tech firms and the too-big-to-fails, fewer companies seem willing to use lots of cash to support share prices.
One month ago, David Santschi, chief executive officer of TrimTabs, warned that "buyback activity has been disappointing in earnings season", a trend that has persisted in the coming weeks. "The reluctance to pull the trigger on share repurchases suggests corporate leaders are becoming less enthusiastic about what they see ahead."

Drilling down, "corporate buybacks will remain the largest source of US equity demand this year. However, we expect share repurchases will be lower in 2H 2016 vs. 1H given reduced repurchase authorizations and weaker buyback activity in 3Q."
Our buyback desk estimates that gross share buybacks in 3Q 2016 will be 15% lower than in 2Q 2016. In addition, S&P 500 share repurchase authorizations equal $335 billion this year vs. $454 billion at the same time in 2015.
Don't expect a pick up in actual buyback activity over the next few weeks either: according to the Goldman, "next week, more than 75% of S&P 500 firms will be in the pre-3Q earnings season buyback blackout period."

Underscoring the importance of buybacks to the recent rally was the latest note from Goldman's David Kostin, who observed that foreign investors and mutual funds sold $46 billion and $19 billion of equities in 2Q 2016. In contrast, corporations and households purchased $174 billion and $87 billion, respectively.

he’s also a crook, plain and simple. He’s cheated shareholders and taxpayers and customers, and used a stockpile of FDIC-backed deposits as fodder for illicit activities that have been repeatedly investigated and fined. And he made hundreds of millions of dollars doing it.

This is not conjecture, nor sour grapes from the nonmillionaire swath of the population. It’s based on documented facts

(The goal: improving flagging earnings)

8--The “major and deadly” wars to come

The Atlantic Council, a leading US geopolitical strategy think tank, published a report on September 20 titled The Future of the Army. The document outlines the far-reaching preparations that are underway for the United States, in the report’s own words, to fight “major and deadly” wars between “great powers,” which will entail “heavy casualties” and “high levels of death and destruction...

It presents a picture of the near future (2020-2025) as a horrifying dystopia, characterized by spiraling inequality, economic insecurity and perpetual war. “Today’s world of haves and have-nots will be greatly magnified,” it states, “with those fortunate enough to have employment and access to stunning technology living in stark contrast to the hundreds of millions struggling to survive in disrupted environments.”

This world “will be marked by the breakdown of order, widespread violent extremism and aggressive large states.” The world situation will be driven by “unpredicted and unpredictable events,” including the possibility of “a nuclear exchange.” Noting that “urban operations will increasingly dominate land warfare,” the Atlantic Council predicts that armies will operate “in densely packed metropolitan areas where civilian populations are a part of the battlefield.”

9--US halts ceasefire talks with Russia

The United States on Monday suspended talks with Russia over the protracted conflict in Syria, accusing the Kremlin of joining with the Syrian Air Force in carrying out a brutal bombing campaign against the besieged city of Aleppo.

Anticipating the end of the talks after repeated warnings from American officials, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia responded by withdrawing from a landmark arms control agreement that calls for each side to dispose of 34 tons of plutonium, a material used in nuclear weapons.

The developments signaled the further deterioration of relations between the United States and Russia, which are now bitterly at odds over Syria, Ukraine and other issues

Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.
For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. ...This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city.

Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.

Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on “an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.” The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power..

The leaked recording reveals how angry John Kerry really is about being unable to topple President Bashar Assad by military means.
“I've argued for use of force. I stood up. I’m the guy who stood up and announced we’re going to attack Assad because of the weapons, and then you know things evolved into a different process,” the Secretary of State said in the tape....

What do you think this conversation shows?

Jamal Wakeem: I believe that this proves that the US was involved in the Syrian crisis since its onset and that it was collaborating with the so-called insurgents in order to topple the Syrian regime. In addition, it proves also that the Syrian crisis had its regional and international dimension since the beginning and it wasn’t a revolution against an illegitimate regime, as the West claimed at one point.

In addition, I believe that it also proves that the Obama administration didn’t give priority to peaceful and political solution for the Syrian crisis. But it used this as an alternative to its inability to use force when it was confronted by a steadfast position by Russia who refused to be dragged into another trick by the US similar to what happened in Libya and topple the Syrian regime. I believe that the Russians are aware of the fact that the war in Syria is a war by proxy directed against them and against their ally China. It is part of a bigger plan by the US to block Eurasia from having access to the maritime trade roots. In addition, I believe there was a mentioning of the presence of the representatives of the NGOs operating in insurgent territories. And this proves also that the US was using these NGOs as a tool of soft power in order to topple the Syrian regime

12-- US suspends talks with Russia as danger mounts of escalation in Syrian war

13-- Janet Yellen Sees Benefits to Central Bank Stock Purchases-- The ability to buy equities or corporate bonds could be helpful in a downturn, the Fed chief says

“There could be benefits to the ability to buy either equities or corporate bonds,” she said in reply to a question from the audience. “There would also be costs as well that would have to be carefully considered in deciding whether that would be a good idea.”
The Fed doesn’t have legal authority to buy stocks. After the financial crisis, it bought Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities to push down long-term yields to encourage borrowing, spending, hiring and investment....

“If our economy were hit by a negative shock and the Fed needed to intervene to stimulate the economy, we have less room using our conventional overnight interest rate tool to do that,” Ms. Yellen said Thursday. “We need a wider range of tools.”
Other central banks, including the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of Japan, already use stock and exchange-traded fund purchases as a monetary policy instrument. Officials at the European Central Bank also haven’t ruled it out.

NOTES:   Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab, rebel leaders fighting in the renegade Chechen autonomous region of the Russian Federation, were trained and indoctrinated in CIA-sponsored camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The CIA has exploited Islam to destroy secular institutions in the Russian Federation. “The enforcement of Islamic law in the largely secular Muslim societies of the former Soviet Union has served America’s strategic interests in the region. Previously, a strong secular tradition based on a rejection of Islamic law prevailed throughout the Central Asian republics and the Caucasus, including Chechnya and Dagestan (which are part of the Russian Federation),” Chossudovsky adds.
The Saudis imported their radical Wahhabist creed into Chechnya, Dagestan, and Tajikistan in the late 1980s following the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Islamic Djamaat of Dagestan and Chechen separatists established an independent Islamist state in the Caucasus. The CIA asset Ibn Al-Khattab organized raids against the Russian army

Among the rebels that U.S. Special Forces and Turkish Special Forces were training, ‘A good 95 percent of them were either working in terrorist organizations or were sympathetic to them,’ a Green Beret associated with the program said, adding, ‘A good majority of them admitted that they had no issues with ISIS and that their issue was with the Kurds and the Syrian regime.’

Patrick Bahzad said in reply to plantman...
In the real world, there are no viable alternatives to the present COA. In lalaland, home to a susbtantial part of the elites in the US foreign policy establishment however, those alternatives would be:
- providing better weapons to the rebels, i.e. SAMs I suppose ... Great idea, considering where such weapons might end up
- giving the Saudis and other Gulfies a free hand in their efforts to support and finance more rebels, including of the radical variety
- implementing something just short of a NFZ, kind of a NFZ light, which may also lead to direct confrontation with Russia, or Russian air defence.
Again, all of these options would play right into the hands of the Saudis, who would like nothing better than the US fighting KSA's wars...

Russia warns US against 'direct aggression'

Russia has warned that any "direct aggression" by the US against the Syrian government or army would lead to “frightening, tectonic shifts” in the Middle East.
The warning by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Saturday came after US officials said Washington had begun considering tougher responses to an ongoing Syrian assault on Aleppo, including military options

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement today condemning the US-led coalition for bombing and destroying a pair of bridges in the eastern Deir Ezzor Province, saying they amount to an attack on Syria’s economic infrastructure.
Two bridges spanning the Euphrates River were bombed on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, rendering both unusable. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that the warplanes that attacked the bridges were from the US coalition.
The Observatory warned that that destruction of the bridges both dramatically impede humanitarian aid deliveries into the area, and would hamper the movement of civilians trying to flee combat areas in the province, which is mostly controlled by ISIS
The Deir Ezzor Province is the same site where US warplanes accidentally attacked a Syrian Army base earlier this month, killing scores of Syrian troops and allowing ISIS forces to quickly overrun the base and take it over

"The Syrian war, which is now more than five years old and has claimed the lives of close to half a million Syrians, was fomented by Washington and its allies, including by directly supporting Islamist extremists, to topple the Assad regime and install a pro-Western puppet in Damascus. This was part of the US’ broader agenda of securing its unchallenged geopolitical dominance over the energy-rich Middle East and Central Asia against its principal rivals, Russia and China—an agenda which has seen Washington wage one war after another for the past quarter century." Jordan Shilton, WSWS...

Syria: US Destroyed Eastern Bridges in Attack on Infrastructure

Two Bridges Across Euphrates Bombed This Week


American officials estimate that, from 1985 to 1992, 12,500 foreigners were trained in bomb-making, sabotage and urban guerrilla warfare in Afghan camps the CIA helped to set up.
Since the fall of the Soviet puppet government in 1992, another 2,500 are believed to have passed through the camps. They are now run by an assortment of Islamic extremists, including Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted terrorist.

. 'Ironically, the bulk of American aid went to the least effective fighters, who turned most strongly to bite the hand that fed them

There is no reason for the Syrian and Russian forces to sit on their hands while this is happening. Marjorie Cohn outlines the legal consequences of the US illegal aggression in Syria @134, A few links on Syria and other issues.

Indeed, Security Council Resolution 2254, to which the cable refers, nowhere authorizes the use of military force [by US/NATO], and ends with the words,
“[The Security Council] decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”
This means that the Council has not delegated the power to attack Syria to any entity other than itself.
If the U.S. were to mount an armed attack on Syria, the Charter would give Assad a valid self-defense claim, and Russia could legally assist Assad in collective self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter.

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