Monday 15 July 2013
Photo, above: Alberto Nisman, Argentine hero. See Hour 2, Block C: Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica. Argentina under Kirchner is moving toward close alliance with the Iranian mullahs, and so is covering up specific evidence of Hassan Rohani's work in the 1994 mass-murder in Buenos Aires. As a sign of growing Iranian influence in South America, Duncan cited the absence of a key witness at the hearing: Alberto Nisman, an Argentine special prosecutor. In May, Nisman released a 502-page report as part of a long investigation of a car-bombing that killed 85 people at the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 — the deadliest terror attack in the Americas before 2001. The report describes the evolution of Iranian spy networks in the region and shows their role in attacks in Argentina and the foiled New York airport plot. Although Nisman had initially accepted the congressional invitation to discuss his investigation, last week his government abruptly barred him from traveling to Washington. The Argentine attorney general said that the topic of the hearing "had no relation to the official mission of the [Attorney General's] office," Nisman wrote in a July 1 letter to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. [more]
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, in re: The black flag in Waziristan, Afghanistan, Syria and – Burma. Jihadist front opening in Burma – Rohingya Muslims being abused and murdered by Burmese Buddhists;" Islamic Caucus of the Emirate, under Abu Saffiya and Abu Arif, have reached Burma."
2 'militants' killed in US drone strike in Pakistan Two unidentified militants were killed while riding a motorcycle in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. The strike is just the second in Pakistan this month.
Pakistani Taliban establish 'base' inside Syria The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has sent experts in warfare and information technology to Syria to establish a base, aid in joint operations, and monitor the fighting there.
Afghan Taliban lauded suicide bombings days before opening 'political office' Six days before the Taliban opened their de facto embassy in Qatar, the group published a defense and justification of suicide bombings.
'313 Brigade' claims car bombing that targeted Hezbollah in Beirut The 313 Brigade shares the same name as an al Qaeda military formation that is based in Pakistan.
Afghan soldier attacks Slovak troops at Kandahar Airfield Just one day after the formal transfer of security responsibility to Afghan forces in Regional Command South, an Afghan soldier opened fire on ISAF troops, killing one and injuring at least two more. [more]
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Raymond Stock, FPRI, in re: Egypt: when is a democracy not a democracy? Mursi won 52% of the votes cast (many voted in his favor against a member of the old regime). On July 8, the Obama administration finally did the right thing in Egypt—by not calling what Mohamed Mursi’s historically huge opposition rightly hails as its “corrective revolution” a coup. Thus it prevented the automatic cutoff of America’s $1.6 billion of mostly military aid, without which our connection to the largest Arab state (and perhaps the Suez Canal) would be lost. But it would be a grave mistake if the U.S. should insist that the aid would continue only if everyone –the deposed Muslim Brotherhood (and other Islamists) among them—is included in the now-rebooted “transition to democracy.” Nor should the Egyptians want to go to this route. Such would be an historic error that will sabotage whatever good might come from the already diminished influence which that aid buys – as well as from the heroic actions of the Egyptians themselves.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Lara M Brown, political analyst and author, and Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re: The conventional wisdom (which many consider not that wise at all) is that the sky is falling for Republicans but all is well for unified Democrats. What is probably closer to the truth is that America is fatigued with all politics, especially anything involving Washington – and Democrats will have to contend with the electorate’s mistrust in the midst of Obama administration scandals, and just as our second great experiment with embracing progressivism slides behind us. They also face a still painfully slow economy that has been tough on most Americans outside of Washington. And they will compete in the next election cycle without a rock star at the top of their ticket, one who can inspire liberals to vote and persuade undecided voters to stay home – a phenomenon that skewed the numbers in both directions in the last two cycles. The days of blaming Republicans for getting America into its economic mess have passed, mainly because Democrats are not accruing any credit for getting us out of it. In fact, Democrats don’t have much to brag about at all with Barack Obama's presidency; if we continue limping along with slow growth for the next few years, they will be hard pressed to make the argument that their party is better for the country than the GOP. Another problem . . . click here for link
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Sohrab Ahmari, asst books editor, WSJ, in re: Hassan Rohani, newly-elected resident of Iran: a cleric and a longstanding agent of the terrorism in the Iranian revolution, In the 1990s Argentine attacks, named by special prosecutor. Since that Argentine govt is trying to create a rapprochement with Iran for financial reasons, the president in Buenos Aires is downplaying the work of the special prosecutor. Also Reza Mazlouman. Rohani has a reputation abroad as a "moderate." In 1995, he was quoted in newspapers as saying, "The beautiful cry of 'Death to America' unites our nation." Rafsanjani has a subordinate from another camp, a yes-man to take the blame for everything, the fall-guy for failures, which allows the Supreme Leader to extricate himself from the suffering of the people. Problem with Ahmadinejad was that he was too blunt; Rohani is a "Smiling Mullah" – speaks of dialogue among civilizations, etc; but what he really says in Farsi is, "We're good at deceiving the West." Managed to change the definition of "suspension": made it a temporary measure while Iran is pushing ahead with nukes. This regime is not reformable.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: John Fund, National Review Online, in e: Pes Obama as an organizer: quotes Saul Alinsky in favor of being subversive within the system; he's accomplished this within the federal government. Justice has an office that Obama has added much funding and supports the work of the Rev Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. They work with outside pressure groups to coordinate rallies. In Sanford, the Department of Justice arranged a rally f/b/o the Rev Sharpton. Caused the resignation of a local police chief for having moved too slowly in his indictment of George Zimmerman. In Montana, a candidate decided to spend more time with his family; dark pools of money. Thus the Republicans may have 50 or 51 seats in the US Senate – even Nate Silver in the NYT said it's "even money." To the extent that people will blame anything on Pres Obama, incl Obamacare, that will decide the Democrats's fate in 2014. A Rube Goldberg device is all the connected parts – can’t inquire about fraud if someone doesn't ask for subsidies(?). With each passing week more whistleblowers come forward. Benghazi, IRS malfunction.
Alinskyite Administration The DOJ’s suspect Zimmerman involvement. Senate GOP braces for nuclear option “I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull the trigger on Tuesday,” says Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate. “Reid has gone so far out on a limb.”
Goodlatte to Obama: Stay away from immigration debate Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the House Republican lawmaker overseeing immigration reform in the committee phase, warned President Obama Sunday to stay away as lawmakers carefully construct a compromise that can pass the lower chamber with a majority of GOP support. “If he tries to muscle this process . . . Obama Adm: Rule by Decree The administration’s worst scandal.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, and John Fund, National Review Online, in re: US Senate confab in the old Senate chamber (where they caned Sumner of Massachusetts), meeting on the 60-vote rule, no staff allowed. Cloture vote in the morning, discussions between McConnells's and Reid's staff overnight, to weaken the filibuster; only exec branch and Cabinet. The NLRB drives this: recess appts (which GOP says was not a real recess) last year abt to run out; organized labor pressuring to get these rendered permanent, Republicans resisting esp with a case heading to Supreme Court. Two federal courts . . . reconsitute the NLRB. Business vs labor. Unions have got nothing in five years for all their efforts in supporting Mr Obama; rather, backsliding: Michigan became a right-to-work state.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica, in re: Last year, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited his ally President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, a senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) also traveled secretly with the presidential delegation to set up a joint intelligence program with Venezuelan authorities. During this clandestine meeting, "Venezuelan spymasters agreed to provide systematic help to Iran with intelligence infrastructure such as arms, identification documents, bank accounts and pipelines for moving operatives and equipment between Iran and Latin America" -- an Iranian expansion in the Americas that worried U.S., Latin American, Israeli and European security officials alike. Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act in Congress. . . . Buenos Aires is the new Berlin.
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Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited his ally President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, where the firebrand leaders unleashed defiant rhetoric at the United States. There was a quieter aspect to Ahmadinejad's visit in January 2012, according to Western intelligence officials. A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) traveled secretly with the presidential delegation and met with Venezuelan military and security chiefs. His mission: to set up a joint intelligence program between Iranian and Venezuelan spy agencies, according to the Western officials.
. . . The report resulted from a bipartisan bill, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, signed into law by President Obama in January. That measure called for a comprehensive U.S. response to Iranian incursions and a study based on threat assessments by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Most of the study is classified. A two-page unclassified section says that "Iran has increased its outreach to the region working to strengthen its political, economic, cultural and military ties." Nonetheless, the State Department assessment concludes that "Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning" as a result of Western sanctions, U.S. cooperation with allies and "Iran's poor management of its foreign relations." In a recent interview about the issue, a senior U.S. government official gave a measured assessment comparable to the new report.
"The countries of the region need to watch carefully for Iran as a threat within a spectrum of issues of concern in the region," said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. "I don't see it as a major threat now. This is worth watching. It is something there is legitimate attention to given Iran's history."
The law's sponsor, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., criticized the State Department's findings Tuesday at a hearing of a House homeland security subcommittee that he chairs. Duncan does not think Iranian influence has declined so soon after a series of events and trends — including recent public warnings by intelligence and Pentagon chiefs — that brought about the passage of the Countering Iran Act. "This administration refuses to see Iran's presence — so near U.S. borders —as a threat to U.S. security," Duncan said. "We know that there is not consensus on this issue, but I seriously question the administration's judgment to downplay the seriousness of Iran's presence here at home." State Department officials contacted by ProPublica declined to respond because the report is classified. They said they will discuss the issue with legislators in private.
As a sign of growing Iranian influence in South America, Duncan cited the absence of a key witness at the hearing: Alberto Nisman, an Argentine special prosecutor. In May, Nisman released a 502-page report as part of a long investigation of a car-bombing that killed 85 people at the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 — the deadliest terror attack in the Americas before 2001. The report describes the evolution of Iranian spy networks in the region and shows their role in attacks in Argentina and the foiled New York airport plot. Although Nisman had initially accepted the congressional invitation to discuss his investigation, last week his government abruptly barred him from traveling to Washington. The Argentine attorney general said that the topic of the hearing "had no relation to the official mission of the [Attorney General's] office," Nisman wrote in a July 1 letter to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. [more]
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Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Gordon Chang, Forbes.com, in re: Beijing does it again, overstating growth in a period of obvious weakness. Chinese Economic Growth Slows in Second Quarter Chinese economic growth slowed to 7.5 percent in the second quarter of the year amid efforts by the country's new leaders to rein in credit and pivot toward reforms. Monday's economic figures are the second straight quarter of weaker economic growth in what is the world's second and largest economy and came on lower investment and declining trade figures. Growth in industrial output compared to a year ago fell to 8.9 percent from 9.3 percent in May, and for the first time in a year, exports declined in June. But there's no sign from the Chinese central government that they plan to intervene in the economy and inject more stimulus. The government has set a growth target for 7.5 percent for 2013, and Monday's economic news raises the spectre that the country could miss it, which would be the first time since the Asian financial crisis that China has not met its stated goal for economic growth. "I think the second half will be even weaker. The government's tolerance for slower growth is definitely higher," Zhu Haibin, a JP Morgan economist, told the Financial Times. "Seven per cent is probably the growth floor."
China's economy slowed to 7.5 percent growth* in the second quarter, weighted by halting exports, sluggish retail sales and softer investment, Financial Times reported July 14. It was the second consecutive quarter of weaker growth. With the economy’s downturn continuing there is a real risk that China will fall below the government's target of 7.5 percent in 2013. If the Chinese government misses its annual growth target this year, it will be the first time since the Asian financial crisis 15 years ago. Five years ago, China's economy was more encouraging than the United States', but that is no longer the case.
* Rapid deceleration – now they say 7.5, but if you look at electricity and other stats, it looks like 3.5 – and if you take out a number of relevant factors, you get to zero. And they've got a structure such that they can’t get out of this. Aggregate financing has collapsed by 41% last month – the Chinese economy has hit a brick wall. This is along-term trend that began long before Li Kaichung came on the scene. Their economy is choking on debt: export-heavy, investment-led and inappropriate for this envt. Foreign economists are confident that these guys in the Standing Committee and their peers are geniuses who've figured out economic verities that o one else in the history of the world has got.
Note: China sending naval ships between Japan and Russia to the Sea of Okhotsk, near Sakhalin. Looks like nationalism born of leadership's political panic. Chinese have been trash-talking the US for a long time: can project power into the first island chain, etc. They always telegraph their punches, as Jas Lilley said and Arthur Waldron still warns. We hope for a transition to a liberal democracy in China, but the generals and admirals are talking about war in a short time. They’re all billionaires or connected to some, so war would be high-risk. Were the billionaires to flee, could be the harbinger of he disintegration of the state – whose outcome could be anything. We’re seeing the rapid failure f he Chinese economy. They injected a lot of liquidity on June 21 and 25, but the effect is running out. China slump.
Bangladesh: Ghulam Azam, the 91-year-old former leader of Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, was convicted and sentenced to 90 years in prison for war crimes during his country's 1971 war for independence. During the conflict, Islamist militias under the umbrella of Azam's organization, are alleged to have been responsible for widespread civilian casualties.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: New York Times writes that an American official anonymously revealed that Israel carried out an air attack on 5 July near Latakia vs Syrian material just supplied by Russia. Israel struck near or on Russian personnel?? Why is he Obama Adm putting out such a provocative report? Cui bono?? Israel has not associated itself with this attack on newly-supplied antiship missiles being stored in barracks. Second time this kind of info released y the US, undermining he confidence Israel has in its US interlocutors. Also, Washington suddenly worried lest Syria would sue the US in intl court on US supply of weapons to the (self-named) Free Syrian Army. In fact, so many weapons are being flown in by so many parties that this concern seems odd. Issue is topping h killing and avoiding total chaos and breakdown in Syria. Russia and China vote no on any attempt to sanction or discipline Iran (and to oppose anything the US propses); also, in face of serious IAEA reports on new nuke facility SE of Teheran in a mountain (info via MEK); "bomb will come from a location no one has every heard of." Weaponization, delivery system and enrichment – the three needed components – are moving full speed ahead and not discussed because of Syria, and Syria is not discussed because of Egypt. Rohani has put clearly in his book is that his MO is to stall for time and create facts. Iran feels that the heat is off it and its leverage is increased, is vastly more confident. If I were Rohani, or Khamenei, I'd think I was in a better position.
Kuwait has sent two oil tankers carrying $200 million worth of crude and diesel to Egypt, part of a $4 billion aid package pledged by the Gulf state a week ago following the ouster of then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Reuters reported July 14, citing Kuwait's al-Rai newspaper. According to the report, an oil tanker carrying between 90,000 and 100,000 tons of diesel through the Suez Canal was diverted to Egypt, while a second carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude was ordered to sail to the country. Several key Arab states have pledged billions to Egypt to keep Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamism from threatening their monarchical regimes.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: The Sinai is a rogue state: the black flag of al Qaeda flies there.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Nathan Gonzales, Rothenberg Political Report /Roll Call, in re: Top 5 Races to Watch in the Mountain Region There are many wide-open spaces but few competitive races in the Rocky Mountain West. Even though the important contests are few, they could be good indicators of which party has the upper hand next fall. Here are the top five races to watch in the Mountain region: Montana Senate. Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer accounted for his party’s A, B, and C plans for recruitment in this state, so Democratic strategists were willing to wait for his decision. So his Saturday announcement that he would not run for the seat leaves his party without a candidate and makes this a top pick-up opportunity for Republicans. GOP Rep. Steve Daines seems like a likely candidate, especially with Schweitzer out. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Pending. Utah’s 4th District. Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson narrowly survived a strong challenge from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love. Democrats can’t fathom how Matheson could lose after winning with Mitt Romney at the top of the ballot. But the race was razor close, and Love will run a better campaign this cycle. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Pure Toss-up. (Full Rothenberg Political Report analysis here)
Here are the top five races to watch in the Mountain region:
Montana Senate. Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer accounted for his party’s A, B, and C plans for recruitment in this state, so Democratic strategists were willing to wait for his decision. So his Saturday announcement that he would not run for the seat leaves his party without a candidate and makes this a top pick-up opportunity for Republicans. GOP Rep. Steve Daines seems like a likely candidate, especially with Schweitzer out. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Pending.
Utah’s 4th District. Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson narrowly survived a strong challenge from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love. Democrats can’t fathom how Matheson could lose after winning with Mitt Romney at the top of the ballot. But the race was razor close, and Love will run a better campaign this cycle. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Pure Tossup. Colorado’s 6th District. Republican Rep. Mike Coffman narrowly survived re-election in this Aurora-based district, and Democrats are coming back next cycle with what they believe will be a stronger candidate. Former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff isn’t from the district, but Democrats believe he can leverage his broader network for support. This is a top-five race anywhere in the country. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Pure Tossup.
Montana’s At-Large District. If Daines runs for the Senate seat, his open House district will attract a crowd of Republicans. The GOP primary would be the place to watch for the next member of Congress no matter what Democrats say. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Currently Safe Republican.
Idaho’s 2nd District. Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith is challenging Rep. Mike Simpson in the GOP primary. Smith is making his first run for office, but it’s worth watching to see if there is room to Simpson’s right with an outsider candidate. What’s more, as of last week, Smith has backing from the deep-pocketed Club for Growth to help his campaign. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Currently Safe Republican.
Note: The Mountain region includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Ben Protess, NYT, in re: Fabrice Tourre, a former Goldman Sachs trader, is accused of misleading clients by selling a mortgage securities investment that the Securities and Exchange Commission said was designed to fail. After Goldman and Before Trial, a Global Education for Fabrice Tourre After taking a leave from Goldman Sachs, Fabrice Tourre worked as a volunteer in Uganda. He is accused of misleading investors about a mortgage security that ultimately failed. Timeline: The Case Against Fabrice Tourre.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Simon Constable, WSJ, In re: China Slump Ripples Globally As the numbers pile up showing China's sizzling growth cooling down, industries world-wide—from German paper-cutter makers to Indonesian palm-oil exporters—are confronting an altered landscape of winners and losers.
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: John Tamny, RealClearPolitics, in re: The real shame about student loans isn't a looming 'bubble' that is probably overrated, but the fact that Congress has exempted its staffers and certain other federal employees from changes in the interest rate. This has been done to make 'government jobs more appealing,' which does major vandalism to basic economics. Student Loan Debt: And Now, For the Really Bad News
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Jed Babbin, American Spectator, inre: Putin Hopes Snowden Leaves Russia The Russian president also reiterated that he doesn't want the situation with the NSA leaker to damage Moscow's relations with the White House. The distrust we feel toward the Obama administration is leaking over to the intelligence community. The judges and members of congress supposedly overseeing the intel agencies have to do a much better job at giving the public reason to have confidence in the agencies. Right now, they're failing. The American Spectator : Leaking Distrust
Monday 15 July 2013 / Hour 4, David Sanger, NYT, in re: Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code Governments pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about and exploit weaknesses in the computer systems of foreign adversaries.
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Hour 1: Dark Shadows; Lincoln
Hour 2: War; Empire Total War; True Grit; The Recruit
Hour 3: Empire Total War; True Grit