I started this thread to quench the thirst of anyone who needs somewhere to cruise for news and get a little bit of a global perspective from as many places as possible on a daily basis. That's my intent.
I encourage anyone of you to contribute and post here also so that all of us have a place to grab a headline that's fairly recent or "Breaking News" etc. This will start out slow but will gain momentum if you contribute as you come across certain items and include the IP addresses for others.
Try to refrain from entire articles if they're long or thread consuming. Photos/ illustrations/charts etc. are encouraged if it's central to the subject. Give credit where credit is due in the way of author/date etc.
The name of the game is to be informed as much as possible and although our priorities will differ at times in the content I post (or you post) the message is to stay informed of as many separate things going on all at once all over the planet.
There's a saying about ignorance being bliss. Bliss based on ignorance isn't in a Turdite's DNA.
Post away with what seems relevant and reinforce that DNA here for other's.
Hundreds of convoys of military vehicles and civilian trucks have gone south into Kuwait since President Barack Obama last month said troops would leave as scheduled, effectively ending the large-scale US military presence on Iraqi soil.
The US withdrawal from Iraq after nearly nine years of war is believed to be one of the largest removal jobs in history.
At the start of the year logistics experts calculated there were nearly 3 million pieces of equipment to be moved, from airplanes, helicopters and tanks to laptops and lights.
Toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is dead, executed in 2006, and the worst sectarian violence has, at least for now, passed. But Iraq still struggles with insurgents, a fragile power-sharing government and an oil-reliant economy plagued by power shortages and corruption
An epic lack of foresight, accuracy and rationale... https://www.tfmetalsreport.com/comment/170246#comment-170246
BAGHDAD | Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:39am EST
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - "Baghdad was built by al-Mansour and cherished by Saddam," was a slogan that adorned many buildings in the Iraqi capital before the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Nearly nine years later, as the last American troops leave, a new slogan has taken its place: "Baghdad was built by al-Mansour, humiliated by Saddam and destroyed by the Americans."
Washington pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Sunday.
They are leaving a nation divided across sectarian and ethnic lines and still struggling with an insurgency and political uncertainty after sectarian slaughter drove the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-7.
Nowhere illustrates the splintering of Iraq better than Baghdad, the capital built in 762 A.D. by the Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaafar al-Mansour on the Tigris River and for some time the centre of the Muslim world.
One symbol of the division is the Grei'at Bridge, a steel footbridge built in 2008 to enable people to move between Shi'ite areas without having to go through the mainly Sunni Adhamiya district.
Thousands fled their homes during the worst of the sectarian strife, fearing they would be attacked in their own neighborhoods because of their faith. Many never went back.
A multimedia showcase of some of 2011's top stories, including Japan's tragic earthquake, the Arab Spring, the demise of Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi, the shooting rampage in Norway, famine in Somalia and the Royal Wedding. Video
By Emma Ross-Thomas - Dec 17, 2011 6:16 AM ET
France’s credit outlook was lowered by Fitch Ratings, which also put the grades of nations includingSpain and Italy on review for a downgrade, citing Europe’s failure to find a “comprehensive solution” to the debt crisis.
Fitch affirmed France’s AAA rating and placed Spain, Italy,Belgium, Slovenia, Ireland and Cyprus on a “Rating Watch Negative” review, which it expects to complete by the end of January, according to a statement released yesterday in London. Separately, Belgium’s credit rating was cut two levels to Aa3 yesterday by Moody’s Investors Service.
The move by Fitch increases pressure on the region’s leaders to end a two-year debt crisis that has seen bailouts ofGreece, Ireland and Portugal. European Union leaders meeting this month in Brussels agreed to forge a tighter fiscal union as the thrust of their efforts, even as the European Central Bankresisted investor calls to ramp up its bond-buying program.
“Of particular concern is the absence of a credible financial backstop,” Fitch said in an e-mailed statement.“This requires more active and explicit commitment from the ECB.”
Treasuries advanced the most since early November as optimism that a summit a week ago would spur a resolution of Europe’s debt crisis faded amid political discord, fueling investor demand for U.S. government bonds as a refuge.
The benchmark 10-year note yield touched a two-month low yesterday as Fitch Ratings reduced France’s outlook and put the grades of nations including Spain and Italy on review for a downgrade. Moody’s Investors Service said Dec. 12 it will review all EU countries’ ratings. Record demand at this week’s Treasuries offerings added to optimism investor interest will remain strong at next week’s $99 billion in note sales.
“The appetite for Treasuries remains the biggest on the planet,” said Paul Montaquila, head of fixed-income trading inSan Ramon, California, at Bank of the West. “The uncertainty about what’s going on in Europe is superseding everything else. Treasuries continue to be the No. 1 asset to have.”
Dec. 18, 2011, 12:26 p.m. EST
TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) – A pipeline that transports gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan was bombed for the 10th time this year, but no fire ensued because the line was disabled, Sunday reports say.
Nine are dead and hundreds more injured in Cairo after two days of bloody street battles. The prime minister calls for calm. Video courtesy of Reuters.
No group has taken responsibility for the attacks. The latest one – which officials said was perpetrated by attackers in four-wheel-drive vehicles – occurred three miles (5 km) south of al-Arish, reports say.
Gas flows have been halted since the last attack, on Nov. 28. Egypt’s government said then that it would strengthen security along the pipeline.
AFP reported that Egyptian gas accounts for 43% of Israel’s natural-gas supplies and 80% of Jordan’s power-generation requirements.
The pipeline is a key source of revenue for the Egyptian government, Bloomberg News reported.
Egyptians overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February. The country is now holding parliamentary elections, which have been marred by clashes between demonstrators and the military.
Dec. 18, 2011, 9:38 a.m. EST
By Benoit Faucon
LONDON -(MarketWatch)- Iran said Monday it had signed a $1 billion oil-field development deal with Russia's OAO Tatneft , clinching a rare contract with a foreign company amid mounting sanctions.
Iran's Oil Ministry website Shana said state-owned Petroleum Engineering and Development Co. had awarded Tatneft a contract to help develop the Zagheh heavy crude field in southwest Iran.
Tatneft didn't return a request for comment.
The contract, which other Iranian outlets said was worth $700 million, is to increase the field's production capacity to 7,000 barrels a day.
The agreement comes as Iran has struggled to replace Western oil majors after they pulled out due to mounting international pressure over Iran's nuclear program...
Three quarters of the money is expected to come from eurozone members, but Britain will also be asked to provide funds.
Figures suggest European Union officials expect British taxpayers to be the second largest contributor. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised not to provide any extra funding for the IMF for the specific purpose of saving the euro and Britain is already liable for £12 billion of loans and guarantees to Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
Earlier this month, EU countries set today as the deadline to raise up to €200 billion in new loans for the IMF to deal with the eurozone crisis.
Finance ministers will hold a conference call in an attempt to reach agreement on the war chest.
8:39PM GMT 18 Dec 2011
Why did we join the EU in the first place? We didn’t; we joined the Common Market, which evolved into the EU. But this disguises a more fundamental truth. In the first couple of decades after the Second World War, the UK was in sharp relative decline. Meanwhile, from a state of devastation, the countries of continental Europe advanced rapidly. By contrast, the non–European world, in which we had played out so much of our history, seemed like a backwater. Add in a dose of Britain’s imagined cultural inferiority and a smidgeon of Vorsprung Durch Technik and you have the explanation.
Whatever was true then, the economic reality now is very different. Many of those backwater countries, including several members of the Commonwealth, are booming. Meanwhile, the countries of the EU have been growing relatively slowly – which looks set to continue.
Just marking my spot here, so I'll be moved to check in every day.
Here's my "bona fides" in the form of an article, the subject of which could be a market mover tomorrow.
9:03PM GMT 18 Dec 2011
The finance ministers are also tasked with devising a voting system to govern the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) after the Brussels decision to replace unanimity sparked a revolt. The ministers are under pressure to have a deal ready for approval by EU leaders when they convene on Tuesday.
There are fears that a failure to reach an agreement on either the IMF loans or the ESM would rattle markets which already have to digest the mass credit rating downgrade warnings on eurozone sovereigns that were announced on Friday night.
Fitch placed six countries, including Spain and Italy, on “negative watch”, while Moody’s downgraded Belgium. Standard & Poor’s has said 15 eurozone states face a downgrade, including France and Germany...
8:33PM GMT 18 Dec 2011
Almost 97pc of the European Union’s population is now governed by conservative or Right-leaning coalitions, or EU-imposed mandarins. All that is left to social democrats is Austria (8.4m), Denmark (5.5m), and Slovenia (2.1m).
The whole machinery of the European Union (EU) system is under the control of the Right, with variants of Rhenish corporatism in the Council, and pre-modern Hayekians at the European Central Bank (ECB). Whether you regard this Hegelian ascendancy as good or bad, it certainly has profound consequences.
For just as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher protested at Bruges that “we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level”, the Left might equally protest that they have not fought the long, hard struggle for worker rights in their own democracies to see social welfare rolled back by Brussels and Frankfurt.
In Italy, EU viceroy Mario Monti has more or less been ordered to reform the labour code, to break union power by shifting to “firm-level” wage deals and rewrite Article 18 that protects workers against sacking for economic reasons – the issue that led to the assassination of two labour reformers by the Red Brigades since 1998..
The WikiLeaks founder was this month given permission by the Supreme Court to appeal against his extradition to Sweden where he could face rape and sexual assault charges.
But his supporters claim that sending him to Sweden would place him under "temporary surrender", putting him at threat of a fast-track extradition to the US, where prosecutors are considering charging him over the release of confidential documents.
In the letter published in the Daily Telegraph
"A number of prominent political figures have called for him to be assassinated, and Joe Biden, the Vice-President, has called him a 'high-tech terrorist'. Given this atmosphere of hostility, we hold serious concerns about his safety once in American custody."
CAIRO - At least two people were killed and 222 others injured in the latest clashes between protestors and security forces Friday in Cairo, said the Egyptian health ministry.
The clashes began early Friday morning and continued late Friday. The violence was triggered by rumors that one protester was arrested and beaten by the police, said Islam Khalid, one of the protesters in front of the cabinet building.
A protester throws stones at army soldiers inside a cabinet building near a burning police booth during clashes in Cairo Dec 16, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
But there were different versions of the causes. The ruling military council said the cause of the clashes was that an officer was attacked by protestors.
Unidentified people hurled stones at protestors from the top of several nearby buildings. Protestors believed these people belonged to the security forces and fought back.
Several vehicles and the office building of the Roads and Bridges Authority were set ablaze. Hundreds of protestors threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the building attached to the Transport Ministry late Friday. A Xinhua reporter saw at the scene that firefighters were still struggling to put out the huge fire.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said in a statement that security personnel were not trying to break up the sit-in and were practicing uttermost self-restraint in handling the situation.
The council said those who hurled stones from rooftops were not members of the security forces.
The army will stop any attempt to attack any state buildings, it said. The military council denied the security forces used any real bullets or tear gas canisters in the clashes. Peaceful demonstrations are allowed to all but they should not harm public interests, it said.
The official news agency MENA earlier quoted an official as saying that the clashes were "designed" to drag the country into a state of chaos. One officer was injured by gunshots and transferred to a military hospital, the official said..
BEIJING - China trimmed its holdings of US Treasury debt by $14.2 billion in October, driving its holdings to the lowest level this year.
The move came against a backdrop of recent yuan weakness and on the declining positions of Chinese banks for foreign exchange purchases, an indicator of capital outflows.
Analysts said that the move to cut the US debt holdings indicated an attempt by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) to increase its cash holdings of dollars in order to shore up the value of the yuan.
The yuan has been faced with increasing downward pressure as investors sold the currency and sought a safe haven in the dollar amid a grim outlook for the global economy.
"The low level of China's holding of US debt indicates the huge pressure of capital outflow that the country has been faced with," said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist with Industrial Bank Co Ltd.
"The central bank is increasing its holdings of dollars in cash, preparing to sell them in the market if necessary to offset the impact of liquidity outflows," he said.
The yuan traded higher on Friday after touching the low end of its permitted daily trading range for 12 consecutive sessions, the longest run of trading days in which the yuan had weakened.
China held a total of $1.13 trillion of US Treasury debt as of October 2011, roughly accounting for 24 percent of total foreign holdings of US debt, according to the US Treasury Department. Despite the latest cut, China remains the largest foreign holder of US treasuries.
Analysts said that China should continue to accelerate the diversification of its $3.2 trillion foreign-exchange reserves, amid growing global financial uncertainty. Currently, about one-third of China's foreign-exchange reserves is invested in US Treasury bonds.
It was reported that the PBOC plans to create a fund worth $300 billion to invest the country's foreign-exchange reserves in the US and European markets. The fund will reportedly seek to invest in real assets and company shares, rather than government securities.
Gao Xiqing, vice-chairman of China Investment Corp, the country's sovereign wealth fund, said recently that the fund is actively looking for investment opportunities in infrastructure projects in countries including Britain, the US, and Brazil.
President Asif Ali Zardari. —AFP Photo
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 18, 2011, 10:48 PM (GMT+02:00)
Extreme concern was quietly voiced Sunday, Dec. 18, by American and European official circles over the state of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's health – and especially its impact on present and impending events in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, including Iran, debkafile's Western intelligence sources report. Those sources say Erdogan is suffering from Rectosigmoid cancer, but were not sure if it had reached the advanced Stage TIII (spread out of the colon to regional lymph nodes).
They also said they did not know what treatment he had received at the Istanbul hospital where he was first admitted and latterly at the Hacettepe Hospital in Ankara.
Sunday, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag, talking to local journalists, told them not to pay attention to the "gossip" that the hospital had prepared a special room for the prime minister to conduct affairs of state, but did not deny it. No denials were issued either of Turkish news reports about Erdogan undergoing "abdominal surgery " on Nov. 26. They also reported that, since he was released, an air force ambulance helicopter had been standing outside his home.
According to reports flying around Ankara Sunday, which were neither confirmed nor denied, the Turkish prime minister is back in hospital.
debkafile's sources would only admit they are worried because the lengthy medical treatment he needs has already had an effect on the state of Middle East decision-making, especially in relation to the urgent Syrian crisis.
Thursday night, Dec. 15, Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul led a top military command council meeting in Ankara to review preparations for war on two possible fronts - Syria and Iran, if Tehran decides to come to Bashar Assad's aid.
On Friday, the Turkish prime minister met US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who flew in from Baghdad.
When Turkish journalists asked after his health, Erdogan replied: "I'm fine and I will be better."
Our sources point out that whatever decisions were made at the Turkish military council conference and the consultations between Turkish and American security chiefs, Erdogan's ill health was clearly uppermost in every mind in Ankara – and not only there.
In Washington, there is considerable anxiety. US President Barack Obama regards Erdogan as a personal friend and his senior ally in the execution of administration Middle East policies, especially with regard to Iran and Syria. The two leaders were recently described by insiders as having developed "intimate relations of trust." According to some sources, they had at least 14 phone conversations in recent months.
The question asked in Washington is this: Is the Turkish leader in fit condition to continue to help the Obama administration carry forward their agreed plans in the region?
They were not encouraged by the comment heard from Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc while Erdogan was away from Ankara.
He chastised the ruling Justice and Development Party –AKP for "divisions… in Edrogan's absence…" over a bill for regulating the nomination of party candidates.
Turkish pundits saw those "divisions" as symptoms of a power struggle already afoot over the Erdogan legacy.
And so the next day, Arinc admitted "he had made a very big mistake" in bringing the argument out in the open.
There were no comments in Israel on the Turkish prime minister's medical condition.
By dt[at]spiegel[dot]de" rel="nofollow">Thomas Darnstädt
Flags in Berlin's government district: New plans for a European fiscal compact could cause headaches for the German government.
The new fiscal compact that was agreed to at last week's EU summit is supposed to help Europe out of the debt crisis. But it represents a briar patch of thorny legal and political questions. Until now, Chancellor Merkel's government has adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach with its euro rescue efforts. With the new pact, that is likely to change.
With British Prime Minister David Cameron unwilling to join the other EU member states in modifying the Lisbon Treaty to allow Brussels greater influence over member states' budgets, the rest of the summit participants agreed to enter into a new treaty entirely, one without the United Kingdom. The negotiations over this "17-plus treaty," which will include all countries within the euro zone as well as other willing EU members, are supposed to be completed by March.
Those who sign the treaty will pledge to keep their own budgets in order, with a maximum structural deficit of 0.5 percent of gross domestic product per year and so-called "debt brakes" anchored in national constitutions to automatically correct any violations of that limit. Those who sign up will also agree to subject themselves to a tough sanctions mechanism if their budgets get out of control, with the European Commission required to impose harsh penalties on states that violate the terms of the pact -- unless a qualified majority of EU members supports making an exception in a particular case. In return, crisis-stricken countries that apply for an EU bailout will be obliged to submit their national budgets to Brussels for approval.
But is that all even possible? Can a majority of EU states simply bow out of a common EU treaty and agree on something new instead? David Cameron, no longer part of the new club, has stated that he doesn't accept the other member states' decision to go it alone, but those on the Continent seem unperturbed. This is not the first time that EU member states have agreed on special treaties that are not signed by all members. The Schengen Agreement, for example, which removed border controls among most but not all EU states, was another case in which London declined to participate. And the example of the European Social Charter offers proof that a decision to opt out doesn't need to be permanent. This treaty, too, was originally adopted without British participation, but would later be signed by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Not the Optimal Solution
In the opinion of Christian Calliess, a professor of European law at Berlin's Free University, such "additions" to the EU treaties may not be "the optimal solution," but they are "a viable way" to move the European project forward. The problem is that such additions don't rest on a firm legal foundation, a fact that could come dramatically to light if disagreements should arise. What will happen, for example, if one country refuses to accept the Commission's deficit penalties on the grounds that such measures aren't stipulated in the Lisbon Treaty? Would that country's signature on the stricter 17-plus treaty be sufficient to enforce the penalties?
Such a conflict touches on a problem that has dogged the EU for years: Which is more powerful, EU law or international law?