Thursday 18 July 2013
Photo, above: British Spitfires delivered to Iran Air Force, 1941-45.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Co-hosts: Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board; Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re: the Senate deal on cloture. Was Corday the win for the White House? And they gave up the NLRB picks? Was Perez part of the Reid strategy? Do the Democrats worry they've created a problem for themselves in the likely scenario they're in the minority in 2015 or 2017?
Montana Governor Schweitzer (Dem), was overwhelming favorite to take Max Baucus's seat, decided not to run. Seat much in play, for epublicans – cd lead to a GOP majority in '14. n Wyoming, Liz Cheney to Challenge Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming Ms. Cheney, the older daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced an intent to run. Intraparty family feud: running vs a much-loved Enzi, who works hard and is a really nice guy (as Senators go); she needs to prove she's not a carpetbagger from Virginia.
Six Republicans Join Democrats In Passing Perez Cloture Vote All but six Republican senators today voted against ending debate on controversial labor secretary nominee Tom Perez today. With debate ended, Perez is expected to be confirmed shortly. Richard Cordray, CFBP. Perez wd have been great to be filibustered, but GOP has done a lot of that – went to the mat on Chuck Hegel and lost – so decided to cut a deal and filibuster again later. He broke federal law and messed with the Supreme Court docket. Hegel was incompetent; Jack Lew got sweetheart deals from bank, GOP just showed it was a D team.
The six Republicans who joined the Democrats were Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), and Mark Kirk (Ill.). Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) tweeted hours before the vote “Please reach out to your #GOP senator & ask them not to surrender & vote to cut off debate on #Obama Labor Sec nominee Perez this afternoon” and after the vote was passed, accused his six GOP colleagues of “surrender.” “If just one more Republican Senator had voted against cutting off debate, we could have stopped nomination of Obama labor nominee #surrender,” he tweeted. During his time in politics in Maryland, Perez was “a self-described progressive,” per the Washington Post. As a member of the Montgomery County Council, Perez worked hard to establish day-laborer sites — sites that were widely understood as being places where illegal immigrants could gather and find employers — and to allow ids issued by Mexico and Guatemala to be used, even thought that could help illegal immigrants get access to government-funded services. And even after a FDA official had made it clear that it was illegal to import prescription drugs from Canada, Perez pushed for Montgomery County to do so, later justifying it by saying, “Federal law is muddled” and “sometimes you have to push the envelope.”
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Edward W Hayes, criminal defense attorney par excellence, in re: Raymond Kelly, New York City's police chief; possible Homeland Security candidate. Will not be kept by either Quinn of Weiner; stop-and-frisk policy is disputed; DHS is a bigger job and pays better. Stop-and-frisk is much disliked buy minority community. Vast dept; just the Coast Guard is a large campus against the bank of the river. Disgraced and resigned: Weiner and Spitzer. The one running behind is Christine Quinn, while the two others are leading in polls. At least Spitzer had some kind of normal . . . ; but Weiner is a weirdo. New York Dems are unimaginative – young, energetic Dems in New York don’t see a future in the party.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies,American Enterprise Institute, in re: 16 Russian ships plus a Chinese fleet of 10 sailed through the strait between Sakhalin and Japan: unequivocal encirclement of Japan. Frightening. China has also harassed a US intell ship, The Impeccable: it was in intl waters. Was also harassed in 2009, became a big issue. Chinese hate it because it's charting the ocean bottom for sub routes. Adm Samuel Locklear said relations w Japan were "cordial." A gradual, unmistakable Chinese effort to get official govt entities involved. Chinese navy targeting Japanese navy with radar, et al. China, despite a crumbling economy, is acting stiff and proud, saying they’re in control. Unrestrained credit, property boom, other matters, are looking pretty grim. Economy needs 8% growth to absorb all the incoming workers, not to mention expected rising income levels. Govt-issued stats are amazingly obviously bogus. Unlikely that the govt itself knows what eh real numbers are. Chinese "no-lose" economy - whatever the banks or investors do, the govt would bail 'em out; but now that's at an end. American companies have heavily invested in China – financial, in addtn to mfrg – have seen a linear progression of income, now have a huge change of perspective, and can’t trust the figures. No one in Washington seems to grasp the depth of the problem. There was a Chinese commitment to open up the Chinese economy to outside investment – but nonbinding agreements are unlikely to be honored. Even were it, the economy as a whole is sowing: rule of law, financial operations – huge problems. See: Abe govt running in Japanese weekend elections, running on a military challenge to China.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Stuart Grudgings, Reuters bureau chief, in re:
An astounding people-trafficking network has sprouted in Southeast Asia in response to a spiralling increase in the number of Rohingya Muslims fleeing repression in Myanmar. A report reconstructs the deadly journey of 120 people aboard a Rohingya fishing boat that became lost at sea, were rescued, and then imprisoned in India before being handed over to people-smugglers in Thailand. The tale of that voyage reveals how Thai naval security forces work systematically with smugglers to profit from the surge in Asia’s new boat people. Further: Al Q is boasting of sending Jihadist organizers to Burma to help the Royhinga. Vast region in Southeast Asia – a persecuted and brutalized people, native to Burma but since WWII have been trying to settle safely, Are stateless; abt 4% of the Burmese population o f 60 million. Ethnically Bangladeshi, have been in Burma for many generations. AS the violence against them has risen in the last year, have been fleeing by boat , number has mostly quadruples; usu headed to Malaysia, being Muslim. In contrast, Thailand refuses Rohingyas to immigrate, and when the Thai navy intercepts the tiny Rohingya boats, official policy is to tow them back to sea and abandon them. They die. Thirty-four thousand have left Burma since May: much violence and danger there. In Burma, they have no access to supplies – are boycotted by Rakhine people; fear, violence, economic isolation. This is all fairly common knowledge in Malaysia and Indonesia, being Muslim; even have been clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist locals. In Singapore and other countries, less awareness. What happened to the UN refugee agency? Where's the UNHCR? When Rohingya get to Malaysia, they’re put in immigration camps for months, then can get a temporary card - not great, but heaven compared to Burma. Isolated there and scared.
Special Report: Thai authorities implicated in Rohingya Muslim smuggling network The beatings were accompanied by threats: If his family didn't produce the money, Myanmar refugee Abdul Sabur would be sold into slavery on a fishing boat, his captors shouted, lashing him with bamboo sticks. It had been more than two months since Sabur and his wife set sail from Myanmar with 118 other Rohingya Muslims to escape violence and persecution. Twelve died on the disastrous voyage. The survivors were imprisoned in India and then handed over to people-smugglers in southern Thailand. As the smugglers beat Sabur in their jungle hide-out, they kept a phone line open so that his relatives could hear his screams and speed up payment of $1,800 to secure his release. "Every time there was a delay or problem with the payment they would hurt us again," said Sabur, a tall fisherman from Myanmar's western Rakhine state. He was part of the swelling flood of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar by sea this past year, in one of the biggest movements of boat people since the Vietnam War ended.
Their fast-growing exodus is a sign of Muslim desperation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, also known as Burma. Ethnic and religious tensions simmered during 49 years of military rule. But under the reformist government that took power in March 2011, Myanmar has endured its worst communal bloodshed in generations. A Reuters investigation, based on interviews with people smugglers and more than two dozen survivors of boat voyages, reveals how some Thai naval security forces work systematically with smugglers to profit from the surge in fleeing Rohingya. The lucrative smuggling network transports the Rohingya mainly into neighboring Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country they view as a haven from persecution. Once in the smugglers' hands, Rohingya men are often beaten until they come up with the money for their passage. Those who can't pay are handed over to traffickers, who sometimes sell the men as indentured servants on farms or into slavery on Thai fishing boats. There, they become part of the country's $8 billion seafood-export business, which supplies consumers in the United States, Japan and Europe. Some Rohingya women are sold as brides, Reuters found. Other Rohingya languish in overcrowded Thai and Malaysian immigration detention centers.
Reuters reconstructed one deadly journey by 120 Rohingya, tracing their dealings with smugglers through interviews with the passengers and their families. They included Sabur and his 46-year-old mother-in-law Sabmeraz; Rahim, a 22-year-old rice farmer, and his friend Abdul Hamid, 27; and Abdul Rahim, 27, a shopkeeper. While the death toll on their boat was unusually high, the accounts of mistreatment by authorities and smugglers were similar to those of survivors from other boats interviewed by Reuters. The Rohingya exodus, and the state measures that fuel it, undermine Myanmar's carefully crafted image of ethnic reconciliation and stability that helped persuade the United States and Europe to suspend most sanctions. At least 800 people, mostly Rohingya, have died at sea after their boats broke down or capsized in the past year, says the Arakan Project, an advocacy group that has studied Rohingya migration since 2006. The escalating death toll prompted the United Nations this year to call that part of the Indian Ocean one of world's "deadliest stretches of water."
. . . Unprecedented numbers of women and children are making these dangerous voyages. A sophisticated smuggling industry is developing around them, drawing in other refugees across South Asia. Ramshackle fishing boats are being replaced by cargo ships crewed by smugglers and teeming with passengers. In June alone, six such ships disgorged hundreds of Rohingya and other refugees on remote Thai islands controlled by smugglers, the Arakan Project said. Sabur and the others who sailed on the doomed 35-foot fishing boat came from Rakhine, a rugged coastal state where Rohingya claim a centuries-old lineage. The government calls them illegal "Bengali" migrants from Bangladesh who arrived during British rule in the 19th century. Most of the 1.1 million Rohingya of Rakhine state are denied citizenship and refused passports. Machete-wielding Rakhine Buddhists destroyed Sabur's village last October, forcing him to abandon his home south of Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state. Last year's communal unrest in Rakhine made 140,000 homeless, most of them Rohingya. Myanmar's government says 192 people died; Rohingya activists put the toll as high as 748. . . . The small fishing boat set off from Myengu Island near Sittwe on February 15. The first two days went smoothly. Passengers huddled in groups, eating rice, dried fish and potatoes cooked in small pots over firewood. Space was so tight no one could stretch their legs while sleeping, said Rahim, the rice farmer, who like many Rohingya Muslims goes by one name. Rahim's last few months had been horrific. A Rakhine mob killed his older brother in October and burned his family's rice farm to the ground. He spent two months in jail and was never told why. "The charge seemed to be that I was a young man," he said. Rakhine state authorities have acknowledged arresting Rohingya men deemed a threat to security.
High seas and gusting winds nearly swamped the boat on the third day. The captain seemed to panic, survivors said. Fearing the ship would capsize, he dumped five bags of rice and two water tanks overboard — half their supplies. It steadied, but it was soon clear they had another problem - the captain admitted he was lost. By February 24, after more than a week at sea, supplies of water, food and fuel were gone. "People started dying, one by one," said Sabmeraz, the grandmother. The Islamic janaza funeral prayer was whispered over the washed and shrouded corpses of four women and two children who died first. Among them: Sabmeraz's daughter and two young grandchildren. "We thought we would all die," Sabmeraz recalled.
Many gulped sea water, making them even weaker. Some drank their own urine. The sick relieved themselves where they lay. Floorboards became slick with vomit and feces. Some people appeared wild-eyed before losing consciousness "like they had gone mad," said Abdul Hamid.
On the morning of the 12th day, the shopkeeper Abdul Rahim wrapped his two-year-old daughter, Mozia, in cloth, performed funeral rites and slipped her tiny body into the sea. The next morning he did the same for his wife, Muju. His father, Furkan, had warned Abdul Rahim not to take the two children - Mozia and her five-year-old sister, Morja. The family had been better off than most Rohingya. They owned a popular hardware store in Sittwe district. After it was reduced to rubble in the June violence, they moved into a camp.
On the night Abdul Rahim was leaving, Furkan recalls pleading with him on the jetty: "If you want to go, you can go. But leave our grandchildren with us." Abdul Rahim refused. "I've lost everything, my house, my job," he recalls replying. "What else can I do?" On February 28, hours after Abdul Rahim's wife died, the refugees spotted a Singapore-owned tugboat, the Star Jakarta. It was pulling an empty Indian-owned barge, the Ganpati, en route to Mumbai from Myanmar. The refugee men shouted but the slow-moving barge didn't stop. [more]
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re: the IRS is fenced off from everything around it, Why woud anyone reach in? Why would it respond? Tea Party 0of 2010 Carter Hull, technical office, 48-yr veteran of the IRS (his office has 16oo attorneys): the Cincinnati ofc and 501 (c0(4) applications. Hull was casual and clear – "I did this for a while, and then stopped." Under examination, several of his statements, similar to Chairman Issa's, show that Hull is just one stop along a continuum. He cannot explain why Ms Lerner told Hull to work with Mr Wilkins (politically apptd), IRS top lawyer. No explanation why Hull was to send documents to Wilkins. "I expressed my opinion that a template was not a good idea" – and soon thereafter all the cases were taken away from him. "Unusual." Issa vs Cummings vs George.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: John Tamny, RealClearMarkets, in re: Want to Break Up the Big Banks? Be Very Careful What You Wish For High-frequency traders take the big market leaps so that small investors don't have to. And as evidenced by the substantial liquidity created by this form of market activity, there are widely disparate views about the market impact of information that is either bought or sourced by aggressive investors. The skeptics who whine about fairness need to relax. High Frequency Traders Make the Markets Much Fairer
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, and David Schenker, The Washington Institute, in re: Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria. throughout Jordan: tribals, Palestinians, everyone, is thinking, Look at the chaos around us; even if we don fancy the king, he's better than the madness around us. The Beirut car bomb: Syria is 675% Sunni, ruled by the small group of Alawites; next door, the Sunnis are growing wroth, going in to fight in Syria. Also fighting Hezbollah. Good for he king in the short term; in the long term, jihadis will flow in, refugees will flow south into Jordan – a difficult story.
Violence and Political Rifts on the Rise in Lebanon Recent street battles, bombings, and political defections mark the beginning of the end of Hezbollah's relative impunity in Lebanon, potentially heralding protracted violence. On July 9, a car bomb detonated in Beirut's Hezbollah-controlled southern suburb of Dahiya, killing one person and injuring dozens of others, mostly Shiites. A day later, the parliamentary speaker announced that retired Christian general Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement would be leaving the Hezbollah-led "March 8" bloc in parliament. Since 2006, the FPM's alliance with Hezbollah has facilitated the Shiite militia's political dominance of Lebanon. If the new split persists, it will represent a significant shift in the country's political dynamics -- and further isolation of Hezbollah -- at a moment when Lebanese Sunnis are becoming increasingly militant. FIGHTING IN SIDON For more than two years, the war in Syria has been threatening Lebanon's stability. The presence of nearly half a million mostly Sunni refugees from next door has skewed Lebanon's delicate sectarian demographics, and the deaths of thousands of Sunnis at the hands of the nominally Shiite Alawite Assad regime have raised tensions to the boiling point. Most worrisome, Lebanese factions with rival combatants in Syria have been clashing at home as well. In Tripoli, for example, Sunni Salafists have been battling Alawite supporters of the Assad regime for nearly a year; Sunnis and Shiites have also been killing one another in the northern border region near Hermel. The latest and most serious sectarian clashes, however, have occurred in the southern city of Sidon, culminating in a June 24 battle between Hezbollah militiamen and 200-300 heavily armed supporters of enigmatic Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed Assir. Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) units participated in the day-long skirmishes, including an assault on Assir's compound in the neighborhood of Abra. According to Lebanese sources, LAF soldiers fired over 400,000 rounds during the battle. By day's end, Assir's forces were routed, but eighteen Lebanese soldiers and twenty-eight other gunmen were killed. Although there is no indication that LAF troops precoordinated their operations with Hezbollah, reports from the battle suggest that, at minimum, the militia fought alongside the military. This fact -- combined with the LAF's previous operations targeting Sunnis who support the Syrian rebels -- has only strengthened widespread suspicions that the military has a pro-Shiite bias. Meanwhile in Washington, the Abra incident may prompt questions in Congress about the continued provision of $100 million per year to the LAF. THE NEXT SAMARRA? On July 9, two weeks after the fighting ended in Sidon, a large car bomb detonated near Hezbollah's residential and office complex in Beirut. The incident was reportedly preceded by four other interdicted attempts to attack the neighborhood. Although it remains unclear who carried out the bombing, leading suspects include Lebanese Salafists and Syrian rebels -- no surprise given the escalating anger at Hezbollah's prominent role in killing Sunnis in Syria. The main rebel coalition, the Free Syrian Army, had previously pledged to attack . . . [more]
What Have U.S. Troops Been Doing in Jordan? RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN EGYPT Egypt has long been ruled by authoritarians, and for most of the past century, the state has been led by military men—dictators in suits—who have governed undemocratically. But the past two decades have been particularly repressive. Since 1993, in its annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties called “Freedom in the World”, Freedom House has characterized Egypt as “not free”. Within this context, freedom of religion has been an ongoing problem, especially for Egypt’s non-Muslim minorities. Many had hoped that . . . [more]
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Rep Ed Royce (R), serving his eleventh term representing Southern California's 39th District: Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee; in re: Syria; Egypt. Secy Kerry. European initiative. Atrategy dvpd in treasury to block repatiation of earnings form overseas to go back into Iran. SDid something similar to North Korea because of their c=massive counterfeiting and we shut their economy down, State Dept got it reversed. Now, out of committee have passed legislation with broad bipartisan support – and we can give the ayatollahs a choice between their nuclear program and a working economy. Difficulty s hat the tactic by Iran in using Rohani ("I was able to blindside the intl community & bring in new centrifuges and eqpt, and buffaloed the foreigners; make e chief of state and I'll do ore.") – they're working now to miniaturize a nuke weapon and put it on a three-stage ICBM. We need to be alert and realistic. Reagan said: companied sin Europe can either do bz with the US, or help the Soviets dvpt oil and gas. Not nth. There's no financial institution that'll choose to do bz with the US, into Iran. We have 370 co-sponsors. We need to be assertive and Europe needs to comply. During war w Hezbollah, I was chair of terrorism subcommittee [Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade], was in Israel as missiles were slamming into civilian areas – 600 civilians in trauma area – these were missiles originally from Iran. There's a redline with respect to Iran, and with Syria; Israel will not allow it to get to the point of [destroying Israel]. Hamas has been cut off from support from Egyptian Ikhwan financing, which is destroying smuggling tunnels. Loss of MB power has been very beneficial in curtailing Hama.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: . . . 200 tunnels several weeks ago, now 90% cut back; 11th Infantry Battalion is moving against al Qaeda and others, fighting among themselves as well as against Egypt . . . "Deliberate butchery" in Syria by all forces – Christians fleeing to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey; I a very difficult position. Christians now in coalition with Alawites, thus Assad [for their own survival; the Sunnis are working to kill them all]. Russia and China have blocked sanctions vs Iran 's nuclear proliferation. Ballistic missile delivery system, direct violation of UN sanctions; test of whole UN sanctions systems. US admits there are many sites where nukes could be produced. Iran is revamping its naval structure to fight in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Rohani's election came about because of the sanctions.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Ronen Bergman, Senior Correspondent for Military and Intelligence Affairs for Yedioth Ahronoth, in re: for a long time, Nasrallah was the most popular leader in the Arab word, being the face of defiance against Israel and the US, For the last two years, however, he's lost face – sent his best troops to support the bloodthirsty Assad; this has changed everything. Hezbollah looked like a resistance movement, now is perceived as just another corrupted power, He promised to fight Israel, but is fighting Sunni in Syria. Decline of Nasrallah power if he continues to align with Teherean, at the end of the day the Syrian civil war will topple not just Assad but also Nasrallah. Gen Aoun and his Christian coalition broke with Nasrallah – Aoun's alliance was a sign of how much power Hezbollah had, and his departure therefrom shows Hezbollah's diminishing power. Sunni and Christians were waiting for many years to pay their debt to Nasrallah to take him down; we'll witnessing at some point and Arab spring in Lebanon, one that will jeopardize the hegemony of Hezbollah Can Iran afford to have Hezbollah lose Lebanon? Will do all in their power to help it survive, but they're in a tight spot. (For Israel, this is a miracle.)
Hezbollah’s Nasrallah contemplates his imminent political demise The rebel forces in Syria have reported that in the recent bitter fighting in the strategic town of Qusair, they saw very few Syrian army troops, and that they were beaten back mainly by Hezbollah militiamen. But these victories — important as they may be in themselves — won’t save the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and no less significantly, they will have a largely detrimental effect on the future of Hezbollah and its leader. One can imagine that Assad’s rule might end quickly, perhaps with a burst of automatic fire, a strike of the executioner’s sword or a town-square lynching. The political demise of Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, will be gradual, but it is already clear that his historic role has ended. Even if the conniving Nasrallah, with Iran’s support, holds on as . . . [more]
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Robert Zimmerman, behindtheblack.com, in re: Astronomers have found evidence which suggests that most of the universe’s gold was created during the collision and merger of two neutron stars. A binary of two neutron stars will eventually spiral into each other. When they do, scientists believe that their violent merger produces short gamma ray bursts (GRB). Observations of a short GRB burst in June found a lot of spectroscopic evidence of gold. [T]he explosion had been responsible for the creation of a whole menagerie of heavy elements. They estimated that an equivalent of 1% of the sun’s matter was being flung out from the collision in a tail, and about 10 parts per million of that tail was made of gold.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Jeff Bliss, The Bliss Index, in re: Ultra-wealthy Southern California residents have just won a victory in the battle to impose their social preferences on the poor. The neo-puritan landowners of Newport Beach, worried about their “asthma and allergies,” have convinced air-quality regulators to make it impossibly hard for the public to use the beach fire-pits that have lined California’s coast for half a century. Sixty fire pits in Newport will be removed, and local officials can now ban them entirely if they decide “that the fires are causing a nuisance.” The WSJ reports: The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District voted Friday to amend rules for 765 fire rings on the beaches of Los Angeles and Orange counties. […] The new rules require that fire pits be located at least 700 feet from the nearest residence, or spaced 50 to 100 feet apart, depending on the total number of pits at a given beach. Fires aren’t allowed on days where the air-quality forecast calls for high levels of particulate matter. […] Residents who have adamantly opposed any bans on the pits were upset with the ruling. Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen of Huntington Beach, who sponsored a state resolution to protect the fire-ring tradition, said the board “overstepped its bounds…to appease a small group of wealthy landowners at the expense of all Californians.” This is what actual class warfare looks like: rich citizens winning legal battles to regulate and restrict the freedom of the lower classes to enjoy their beach communities. One of the main functions of the progressive state has always been to impose the cultural and behavioral preferences of the upper middle class on the poor. Stopping immigrants and working class Angelenos from having noisy, disruptive fun along pristine waterfronts is exactly the kind of challenge that nanny state puritans long to solve. Now a relentless lobby campaign of purse-mouthed puritans has succeeded in taking yet another chunk of liberty from young working class people. It’s starting to look like a trend: the law in California favors the preferences of the privileged over those of the poor.
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Jesse Eisinger, NYT, Deal Book, in re:
"For the first time since the financial crisis, the banks are losing some battles on tougher regulation" -- pointing to a recent proposal to raise the capital at the largest, most dangerous banks and another hoping to tighten the markets for derivatives. "The measure is a victory for reality-based thinking in an important respect: how banks measure their assets." "Under current accounting rules, assets are disclosed so poorly that banks are allowed to keep mysterious exposures out of view. Banks own pieces of businesses that reside off the balance sheet. They also make commitments using derivatives, creating obligations that are complex and difficult to quantify. The specifics of these vulnerabilities are poorly understood by everyone, including bankers themselves, but we know for sure that they can cause implosions." (latest "The Trade" column)
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Jim Snyder, in re: CLINTON FOIA FAIL. Report: Holder Falls Short on Obama Openness Pledge He Enforces – In her four years as the top U.S. diplomat, Hillary Clinton kept a running total of countries visited, miles traveled and hours spent in transit on the State Department website. Still untallied: The bill to taxpayers for her globe-trotting. [more]
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Mina Kimes, Bloomberg News, in re: THE SUN TZU AT SEARS: EDDIE LAMPERT Going inside Sears and examining how its young, reclusive, billionaire CEO Eddie Lampert has introduced an unorthodox, “Hunger Games”-type management strategy that, instead of reviving the brand, has caused shoppers, executives and investors to flee. Kimes interviewed more than 40 current and former senior Sears executives who paint a picture of a direction-less business that has been ravaged by infighting since the company was divided into to 30 business units, all run independently from one another, with no focus on Sears’s overall brand. To read the full story…
Thursday 18 July 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Mark Schroeder, Stratfor, in re: Islamic militants attacked a boarding school in a village near the northeast Nigerian city of Potiskum early on July 6, killing 29 students and a teacher, witnesses said, AP reported. The assailants were believed to belong to Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in northeastern Nigeria on May 14 and deployed thousands of troops to stop Boko Haram, but previous such efforts by the Nigerian government have only temporarily disrupted the group's operations
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