Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday, May 13, Night Wall Street Roundup: Wall St. Drops At End Of Tough Week For Retailers

By Noel Randewich
May 13, 2016

U.S. stocks fell on Friday as a decline in oil prices added to pressure from consumer companies after gloomy quarterly reports from Nordstrom and J.C. Penney overshadowed upbeat April retail sales data.

The decline in the department stores' shares marked the end of a week that highlighted the expanding clout of (AMZN.O) and the plight of brick-and mortar retailers struggling to keep up with the online seller.

Crude prices slipped as a stronger dollar weighed and investors cashed in on gains from a three-day rally. [O/R]

That pushed the S&P energy index .SPNY down 1.25 percent.

U.S. retail sales jumped 1.3 percent last month, the largest gain since March 2015 and a bigger rise than economists expected, the U.S.

But consumer stocks, which have already been under pressure this week after a string of feeble earnings reports, fell again after Nordstrom and J.C. Penney reported lower-than-expected sales.

Nordstrom (JWN.N) slumped 13.42 percent and J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) lost 2.82 percent. Dillard's Inc (DDS.N), which gave a quarterly report that also disappointed Wall Street, fell 1.29 percent.

Amazon lost 1.12 percent but was 5 percent higher for the week following steady gains since last Friday.

On Wednesday, Macy's (M.N) poor quarterly report triggered a selloff in U.S. retailers. It lost 17 percent for the week after gaining 1 cent on Friday to $31.22.

First-quarter earnings reports are nearly all in and, on average, have not been quite as bad as expected across the S&P 500. But for June-quarter earnings, for every company that has given an upbeat preannouncement, 2.3 others have sounded warnings, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

That has left the S&P 500 trading at about 16.5 times expected earnings, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"It's hard to make a case that you're going to have stellar equity market performance. In the context of low interest rates, equity valuations look about right," said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 1.05 percent to end at 17,535.32 and the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.85 percent to 2,046.61.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.41 percent to 4,717.68.

All of the 10 major S&P sectors fell, led by a 1.29 percent decline in financials .SPSY. Consumer staples .SPLRCS lost 1.23 percent.

For the week, the Dow fell 1.2 percent, the S&P dipped 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.4 percent. It was the third week in a row of losses for the Dow and S&P 500.

The S&P 500 is about flat for 2016.

In a bright spot, Nvidia (NVDA.O) surged 15.21 percent after the graphics chipmaker forecast better-than-expected revenue for the current quarter.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,000 to 980. On the Nasdaq, 1,627 issues fell and 1,145 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 27 new highs and 76 new lows.

About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, light compared to the daily average of about 7.2 billion shares for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Article Link to Reuters:

For Iran and Hezbollah, A Costly Week In Syria

By Tom Perry and Babak Dehghanpisheh
May 13, 2016

A rebel onslaught on the town of Khan Touman near Aleppo last week delivered one of the biggest battlefield setbacks yet to the coalition of foreign Shi'ite fighters waging war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Reports put the death toll among the Iranian, Afghani and Lebanese militiamen as high as 80 in the attack spearheaded by the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. At least 17 of the dead were Iranians, seemingly the highest toll in a battle outside the Islamic Republic’s borders since the Iran-Iraq war.

"Pray for us, we can’t move. There are 83 of us in one room. We’re waiting for artillery backup so we can pull back," an Iranian fighter wrote in a WhatsApp message, quoted by state-run Iranian website Jaam-e-Jam. “God willing, we are martyred rather than taken prisoner.”

Events in Khan Touman were followed by an even bigger blow to Iran and its allies: news emerged early Friday of the killing of Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who had been overseeing the Lebanese group's military operations in Syria.

It is unclear how such reversals will affect the course of a war that grew out of Arab spring-inspired protests in 2011 calling for democratic change. Before Iran, Hezbollah and Russia came to Assad’s aid, his grip on power appeared to be failing. The commitment of these allies to support him is seen by diplomats and Middle East experts as key to Assad's survival.

Such blows are evidence of the price being paid by Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, and the wide range of adversaries they face in a multi-sided war that has escalated again in recent weeks as U.N.-led diplomacy has foundered.

Israel has not missed the chance to pick off top Iranian and Hezbollah commanders in Syria over the past year or more.

Hezbollah, a Shi'ite group established by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said Badreddine had been killed in an explosion near Damascus airport. One Hezbollah official blamed Israel. The Israeli government has not commented.

Other enemies in the predominantly Sunni insurgency are meanwhile celebrating what they see as Iran's defeat in Khan Touman, which followed the loss of the nearby town of al-Eis.

One security expert close to Damascus described low morale on the government side because hard-won territory had been lost.

One explanation of the reversal could be that there is less Russian air support. Russia has been mounting air strikes in support of Assad for seven months, but it has also been involved in U.S.-backed diplomatic efforts and supported ceasefires.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a rebel fighting in the area said the intensity of recent Russian air strikes had diminished. That could be a source of friction between the alliance supporting Assad, analysts of the conflict say.

Shock In Iran

The attack by Nusra and its allies on Khan Touman created shockwaves in Iran. Sites linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps published the names and photos of 13 Iranians killed in Khan Touman. Most of them were from a unit of the Guard in Mazandaran province in northern Iran.

But there were concerns among some Iranian officials and military leaders that the report of heavy casualties could sway public opinion against Iran’s involvement in Syria.

A press release from the Revolutionary Guard office in Mazandaran, the province where most of the Iranians killed were based, reflected these concerns.

In order to “preserve calm in society” only information released by their office should be trusted, it said.

Among the Iranians killed was Shafie Shafiee, a commander of the elite Quds force, according to the Tasnim news site, which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards. His body was seized by Syrian rebels, according to the another site, ABNA.

Pictures posted by rebels and reprinted by Iranian news sites show closeups of individual fighters killed in the battle. One photo shows what appears to be at least a dozen bloodied corpses lined up in the hallway of a building.

Another set of photos posted by the Syrian opposition show two prisoners of indeterminate nationality, bound and bloodied, being led behind a vehicle.

Mohammad Saleh Jokar, a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy committee, said there were not any precise numbers on how many Iranians had been killed or taken prisoner in the Khan Touman "disaster".

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani called it a crime carried out by "cowardly terrorists" during a ceasefire - an apparent reference to a cessation of hostilities agreement to which the Nusra Front and other jihadist groups are not a party.

"This incident will not go unanswered," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council said in an interview with the Young Journalists Club news site this week.

Footage shot from a drone by rebels shows a complex assault on Khan Touman that began with a barrage of rockets or mortars and involved armored vehicles and a tank. A mushroom cloud, apparently caused by a car bomb, is seen erupting near a building.

Hezbollah Vows To Fight On

Iran has announced the death of half a dozen generals in Syria, and a much larger number of less senior officers since 2012.

Hezbollah has meanwhile lost four prominent fighters, including Badreddine, a brother-in-law of the group's late military commander Imad Mughniyah.

Badreddine was the most senior Hezbollah figure to be killed since Mughniyeh was assassinated in 2008, also in Damascus.

Hezbollah is estimated to have lost a total of around 1,200 fighters in Syria, where its highly trained guerrillas have provided crucial support to the Syrian military.

The group depicts its war in Syria as an existential struggle against ultra-radical jihadists such as the Nusra Front and Islamic State, groups it refers to as "takfiris".

Speaking at Badreddine's funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs on Friday, deputy Hezbollah leader Naim Qassem said: "Oh martyr we are continuing in the path you chose, in confronting Israel and in confronting the takfiris".

Article Link to Reuters:

Putin: Russia Will Act To Neutralize U.S. Missile Shield Threat

By Vladimir Soldatkin
May 13, 2016

A ballistic missile defense shield which the United States has activated in Europe is a step to a new arms race, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, vowing to adjust budget spending to neutralize "emerging threats" to Russia.

The United States switched on the $800 million missile shield at a Soviet-era base in Romania on Thursday saying it was a defense against missiles from Iran and so-called rogue states.

But, speaking to top defense and military industry officials, Putin said the system was aimed at blunting Russia's nuclear arsenal.

"This is not a defense system. This is part of U.S. nuclear strategic potential brought onto a periphery. In this case, Eastern Europe is such periphery," Putin said.

"Until now, those taking such decisions have lived in calm, fairly well-off and in safety. Now, as these elements of ballistic missile defense are deployed, we are forced to think how to neutralize emerging threats to the Russian Federation," he said.

Coupled with deployment in the Mediterranean of U.S. ships carrying Aegis missiles and other missile shield elements in Poland, the site in Romania was "yet another step to rock international security and start a new arms race," he said.

Russia would not be drawn into this race. But it would continue re-arming its army and navy and spend the approved funds in a way that would "uphold the current strategic balance of forces", he said.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Thursday that the shield would not be used against any future Russian missile threat.

Frank Rose, deputy U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, warned at the time that Iran's ballistic missiles could hit parts of Europe, including Romania.

Putin said the prospect of a nuclear threat from Iran should no longer be taken seriously and was being used by Washington as an excuse to develop its missile shield in Europe.

The full defensive umbrella, when complete in 2018 after further development in Poland, will stretch from Greenland to the Azores.

It relies on radars to detect a ballistic missile launch into space. Sensors then measure the rocket's trajectory and destroy it in space before it re-enters the earth's atmosphere. The interceptors can be fired from ships or ground sites.

Article Link to Reuters:

Noonan: Mr. Trump Goes To Washington

The voters have rebuked professional Republicans and conservatives. What’s next for the GOP?

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
May 13, 2016

What is needed among Republicans in Washington now is patience, soberness of thought, and a kind of heroic fairness. Reflection and humility wouldn’t hurt either.

One of our two great parties is either shattering or reconstituting itself. It is not united and has not been since the George W. Bush era. As the pollster Kellyanne Conway noted this week, if it were, there wouldn’t have been 17 candidates for president, and Donald Trump wouldn’t be the presumptive nominee.

The optimistic thought is that it is reconstituting itself. The past year the base of the party has been kicking away from its elected and established leaders in Washington and, simultaneously, broadening itself, with new members coming in. That suggests a certain dynamism: Maybe something’s busy being born, not busy dying. We’ll see.

But almost every conservative and Republican in Washington—in politics, think tanks and journalism—backed a candidate other than Mr. Trump. Every one of those candidates lost, and Mr. Trump won. After November, think tanks and journals will begin holding symposia in which smart people explain How We Lost The Base.

Mr. Trump’s victory was an endorsement of Mr. Trump but also a rebuke to professional Republicans in Washington. It was a rebuke to comprehensive immigration plans that somehow, mysteriously, are never quite intended to stop illegal immigration; a rebuke to the kind of thinking that goes, “I know, we’ll pass laws that leave Americans without work, which means they’ll be deprived of the financial and spiritual benefits of honest labor, then we’ll cut their entitlements, because if we don’t our country will go broke.” The voters backed Mr. Trump’s stands on these issues and more.

A political question for November: Does Mr. Trump pick up more Democrats than he loses Republicans? Is that how he plans to win? Does he draw in enough new or non-Republican voters to make up for the millions of Republican voters he will surely lose?

In an act of determined denial, Washington Republicans and conservatives continue to see and describe Mr. Trump’s nomination as the triumph of a celebrity in a culture that worships celebrity, the victory of a vulgarian in a vulgar age, the living excrescence of our shallow values and lowered standards. Also, he’s tapped into the public’s rage.

He is all of those things. But he is more, and Washington is determined to ignore the more. He understood, either intuitively or after study, that the Republican base was changing or open to change, and would expand if the party changed some policies. He declared those policies changed. And he won.

As to the matter of rage, it’s more like disrespect for those who’ve been calling the shots. If you know Trump people in real life as opposed to through social media, if they are your friends and family members, you understand that “rage” doesn’t do them justice. They dislike the Republican Party, which they believe has consistently betrayed them, but Trump people in person are just about the only cheerful people in politics this year. They actually have hope—the system needs a hard electric shock, he’s just the man to do it, and if it doesn’t work they’ll fire him. They’re having a good time. Here I throw in a moment I had in Manhattan Thursday afternoon. I was standing on a corner on York Avenue in the 60s when a cab screeched across two lanes to stop in front of me. “I am voting for Trump!” the driver yelled through an open window. “You want to know why? He is neither right or left!” He then laughed and sped on. Not all Trump supporters are quiet about it.

But back to the new Republicans—the Democrats and independents who’ve voted for Mr. Trump. As usual with the Republican Party, these new friends were not cheerily invited in—who would ever think of that?—but crashed the party with the guy with the yellow hair. A lot of Washington Republicans seem to have spent the past week wondering what they always wonder: How much should we snub them? How uncomfortable should we make them? Should we not talk to them or just not give them a drink? Way to do outreach, fellas.

It is good that Paul Ryan snapped out of his smug-seeming “I’m just not ready” approach of last week, and met and talked with Mr. Trump this week. When a sitting Republican speaker of the House is cool on or considering rejecting that party’s presumptive presidential nominee, more is needed than “I’m not there yet.”

He has every right not to endorse Mr. Trump, but if he doesn’t, both Mr. Trump and his supporters deserved more. You have to explain at length and with moral and intellectual seriousness and depth in exactly what ways he’s not worthy of your support, and you have to do it in a way that summons a response that is equally thoughtful and temperate.

Not much is known about the meeting at this point. Mr. Ryan told the press afterward that he was “encouraged” by their talk, but still declined to endorse.

In a joint statement issued soon after, Messrs. Ryan and Trump said: “It’s critical that Republicans unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda, and do all we can to win this fall.” They said they were “honest about our few differences” but “there are also many important areas of common ground.” There was a nod to “many millions of new voters,” who showed up for the Republican primaries, “far more than ever before in the Republican Party’s history.”

All of which strikes me as a Trump win. Mr. Ryan referred to his conservatism and suggested Mr. Trump holds political principles.

Mr. Trump should want to bring the party together. He makes sounds that he doesn’t need to, but he does and must know it or he wouldn’t have met with GOP leaders in the first place. A party fracturing all around him will only spread unease, increase tension, and intensify sourness. He needs at least a semblance of calm so he doesn’t look every day like Thor, God of Thunder and Battle.

Those who oppose Mr. Trump should do it seriously and with respect for his supporters. If he is not conservative, make your case and explain what conservatism is. No one at this point needs your snotty potshots or your supposedly withering one-liners. I confess I have lost patience with many of those declaring they cannot in good conscience support him, not because reasons of conscience are not crucial—they are, and if they apply they should be declared. But some making these declarations managed in good conscience, indeed with the highest degree of self-regard, to back the immigration proposals of George W. Bush that contributed so much to the crisis that produced Mr. Trump. They invented Sarah Palin. They managed to support the global attitudes and structures that left the working class jobless. They dreamed up the Iraq war.

Sometimes I think their consciences are really not so delicate.

As for the political consultants who insult Mr. Trump so vigorously, they are the ones who did most to invent him. What do they ever do in good conscience?

Article Link to the Wall Street Journal:

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Friday, May 13, Morning Global Market Roundup: Nerves Dominate Before U.S. Retail Numbers

By Patrick Graham
May 13, 2016

The dollar was set for a second week of gains on Friday while stock markets fell ahead of a handful of major U.S. and Chinese data releases which may do little to settle growing nerves over the outlook for the world's two biggest economies.

A poor performance on Wall Street on Thursday, driven by another big drop in Apple shares, seeped into Asian and European markets, down around half a percent across the board.

Doubts over growth in Europe, the financial stability of China and the U.S. Federal Reserve's ability to raise interest rates have dominated the past month and U.S. retail sales and Chinese releases over the next 24 hours will be important new pieces of the picture.

The dollar - whose strength over the past three years is broadly a reflection of how the United States is outpacing its peers - hit a two-week high against a basket of currencies on Friday, posting its best fortnightly performance since February.

"Optimism from earlier this year that policy stimulus in China would provide more support for economic growth in Asia appears to be fading," said Lee Hardman, a currency analyst with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in London.

"In these circumstances, commodity-related and emerging market currencies are coming back under downward pressure against the dollar."

Data at the end of the Chinese trading day showed banks extended just 555.6 billion yuan ($85.22 billion) in net new yuan loans in April, well below analysts' expectations and less than half the 1,370 billion yuan reported in March.

A strong reading of first quarter growth from Germany and a handful of other euro zone economies did little to brighten the mood.

While growth in Germany doubled, Berlin's economy ministry warned it would slow in the second quarter and economists said weaker exports to slowing emerging markets like China would eventually begin to tell on demand.

After a poorer set of jobs numbers last week there are also more doubts over how robust the U.S. economy will be going forward.

Two Fed policymakers - Eric Rosengren and Esther George - both sounded optimistic on the chances of raising interest rates later this year in comments late on Thursday. But U.S. interest rate markets showed little sign of wanting to believe them: pricing shows the chances of rates being unmoved by the end of this year have risen to around 40 percent.

Still, both are voters on the U.S. central bank's policy committee this year and the comments by Boston Fed President Rosengren, in the past a supporter of keeping rates low for longer, point to the growing pressure within the bank for a hike this year.

Asian shares fell after the rocky performance on Wall Street, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 1.1 percent, and on track for its third straight weekly decline.

The Nikkei closed down 1.4 percent while Chinese shares fell by 0.3-0.5 percent. Chinese industrial output, investment and retail sales data are all due on Saturday.

Article Link to Reuters:

Millennials Embrace Socialism, But Do They Know What It Is?

By Jonah Goldberg
The National Review
May 13, 2016

Socialism is having a moment.

I’m not just referring to Bernie Sanders’s surprisingly strong showing in the Democratic primaries. Various polls show that Millennials have a more favorable view of socialism than of capitalism. And Millennials generally are the only age group that views socialism more favorably than unfavorably.

Some conservatives aren’t surprised. Schools have been force-feeding left-wing propaganda to kids like it was feed for geese at a foie gras factory.

On the other hand, what are we to make of the fact that only a fraction of the young people who say they like socialism can explain what it is? If left-wing indoctrination is so effective at getting kids to like socialism, you’d think it would have more success at getting kids to at least parrot back a serviceable definition.

Regardless, this is a familiar tale. Young people have a well-documented tendency of skipping facts and arguments and going straight to conclusions.

Writing in The Federalist, Emily Ekins and Joy Pullmann note that many of these young people think socialism is federally mandated niceness. A 2014 Reason-Rupe survey asked Millennials to define socialism. They had in mind a more generous safety net, more kindness and, as one put it, more “being together.”

But when asked if they agreed with a more technically accurate definition of socialism — government control of the economy — support dropped considerably (though not nearly enough). Given a choice between a government-managed economy and a free-market economy, Millennials overwhelmingly chose the latter. It seems young people realize that putting bureaucrats in charge of Uber wouldn’t work too well.

Still, it boggles the mind that anyone can see the folly of having the government take over Amazon or Facebook but be blind to the problems of having the government run health care.

More intriguing to me is the fact that kids who don’t know what textbook socialism is actually have a better understanding of what drives socialism in the first place.

Karl Marx was one of the worst things to ever happen to socialism, and not just because he set the world on a path to the murder, oppression, and enslavement of millions upon millions of people. It was Marx and his confreres who persuaded the intellectual classes that socialism was a strictly “scientific” doctrine. For generations, economists — real and so-called — worked on the assumption that the economy could be run like a machine. Just as engineers had mastered the steam engine and the transistor, they could do likewise with supply and demand.

For generations, intellectuals — real and so-called — argued that economics was best left to “planners.” Time and again, reality — specifically, the reality dictated by human desires — refused to be bent to neatly arrayed columns of numbers and well-stacked slips of paper. The philosopher-economist Friedrich Hayek long ago explained that planners suffer from what he called “the knowledge problem.” Even the best bureaucrat couldn’t know what customers, suppliers, and managers on the ground wanted or needed.

And each time the planners insisted that if they just had a little bit more power, a bit more data, a few more resources, they could make planning work. When all you have is a hammer, you’re inclined to believe that there’s no problem a few more nails won’t fix.

The Soviet Union and its various cousins did much to discredit “scientific socialism,” what with all the killing and totalitarianism. The fact that it didn’t seem to make people richer also undermined its appeal. “Scientifically,” people didn’t want to be bullied, oppressed, or impoverished.

The unrealism of socialism spelled its undoing — for a time.

The dilemma is that there is a reality underneath the fraud of scientific socialism. The first socialists were not economists or technocrats. They were romantics and nostalgists. They loathed the relentless logic of the market and its reward of merit and efficiency as judged by the marketplace.

They wanted to return to the imagined Eden of the noble savage and the state of nature. They wanted to live in a world of tribal brotherhood and mutual love. Long before the math of “scientific socialism” there were the emotions of socialism, both light and dark: egalitarianism and envy.

Young people understandably are drawn by the promise of “being together.” But they think the federal government can make it happen. If government planners can’t even provide goods and services efficiently, how will they ever provide togetherness?

Article Link to the National Review:

Should We Respond to Climate Change Like We Did to WWII?

The controversial theory of "climate mobilization" says we should.

By Emma Foehringer Merchant
The New Republic
May 13, 2016

On December 7, 1941, Japan’s surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,000 people and drew the country into World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Production Board to oversee themobilization, as factories that once produced civilian goods began churning out tanks, warplanes, ships, and armaments. Food, gasoline, even shoes were rationed, and the production of cars, vacuum cleaners, radios, and sewing machines was halted (the steel, rubber, and glass were needed for the war industries). Similar mobilizations occurred in England and the Soviet Union.

Today, some environmentalists want to see a similarly massive effort in response to a different type of existential threat: climate change.

These proponents of climate mobilization call for the federal government to use its power to reduce carbon emissions to zero as soon as possible, an economic shift no less substantial and disruptive than during WWII. New coal-fired power plants would be banned, and many existing ones shut down; offshore drilling and fracking might also cease. Meat and livestock production would be drastically reduced. Cars and airplane factories would instead produce solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewable energy equipment. Americans who insisted on driving and flying would face steeper taxes.
Wikimedia commons/ U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Though climate mobilization has existed as a concept for as many as 50 years, it’s only now entering the mainstream. Green group The Climate Mobilization pushed the idea during a protest at the April 22 signing of the Paris Agreement. On April 27, Senators Barbara Boxer and Richard Durbin introduced a bill that would allow the Treasury to sell $200 million each year in climate change bonds modeled after WWII War Bonds. Bernie Sanders has mentioned mobilization on the campaign trail and in a debate. And Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced last week that if she’s elected, she plans to install a “Climate Map Room” in the White House inspired by the war map room used by Roosevelt during World War II.

Despite these inroads, climate mobilization remains a fringe idea. Its supporters don’t entirely agree on the answers to key questions, such as: What will trigger this mobilization—a catastrophic event or global alliance? Who will lead this global effort? When will the mobilization start? And perhaps the greatest hurdle isn’t logistical or technical, but psychological: convincing enough people that climate change is a greater threat to our way of life than even the Axis powers were.

Lester Brown, environmentalist and founder of the Earth Policy Institute and Worldwatch Institute, says he first introduced climate mobilization in the late 1960s. His approach is holistic—and ambitious. “Mobilizing to save civilization means restructuring the economy, restoring its natural systems, eradicating poverty, stabilizing population and climate, and, above all, restoring hope,” he wrote in his 2008 book, Plan B 3.0.

Brown proposes carbon and gas taxes, and pricing goods to account for their carbon and health costs. In his “great mobilization,” all electricity would come from renewable energy. Plant-based diets would replace meat-centric ones. According to Brown, this new economy would be much more labor-intensive, employing droves of people in services like renewable energy and in compulsory youth and voluntary senior service corps. Brown also advises the creation of a Department of Global Security, which would divert funds from the U.S. defense budget and offer development assistance to “failed states,” (he cites countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Iraq) where climate change’s impact on available natural resources will exacerbate political instability.

This may sound far-fetched, but Brown believes we’re at a tipping point for climate mobilization. The economy is increasingly favoring renewables over fossil fuels, and grassroots campaigns like the Divestment Movement are gaining steam. Any number of circumstances could push the globe over the edge toward mobilization: severe droughts that create conflicts over water, or the accumulation of climate catastrophes from raging fires to hurricanes. When we cross over, Brown told me, “suddenly everything starts to move. ... We’re just going to be surprised at how fast this transition goes.”

For environmentalists who’ve seized upon Brown’s idea, the transition has not been fast enough. They’ve tailored their plans to include more explicit links to the war effort and a new sense of urgency. In 2009, Paul Gilding, the former executive director of Greenpeace International and a member of the Climate Mobilization’s advisory board, and Norwegian climate strategist Jorgen Randers published an article outlining “The One Degree War Plan.” The authors set out a three-phase, 100-year proposal for healing the planet, beginning with a five-year “Climate War.”

In that first phase, a cadre of powerful countries—the United States, China, and the European Union, for example—would act first, forming a “Coalition of the Cooling” that would eventually pull the rest of the globe along with them. Governments would launch the mobilization and reduce emissions by at least 50 percent. One thousand coal plants would close. A wind or solar plant would blossom in every town. Carbon would be buried deep in the soil through carbon sequestration. Rooftops and other slanting surfaces would be painted white to increase reflectivity and avoid heat absorption from the sun, which makes buildings and entire cities more energy-intensive to cool. Later, a Climate War Command would distribute funds, impose tariffs, and make sure global strategy is “harmonized.” According to the paper, this Climate War should start as early as 2018.

Much has changed since the release of Brown’s Plan B 3.0. Months after Gilding and Randers published “The One Degree War Plan,” climate negotiators faced the crushing defeat of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, where delegates left without toothy commitments. The world has experienced one record-breaking temperature after another, and two of the three global coral bleachings on record. Last year’s climate conference in Paris was a relative success, as an unprecedented number of countries proposed plans to cut their emissions. And although the final agreement won’t bind countries legally, the consent to meetings every five years to consider ramping up commitments and the efforts of groups like the “high ambition coalition,” which pushed for a legally binding agreement, showed progress. But even before the ink dried, environmentalists and some politicians condemned the wishy-washy language and limp goals.

Leaving the fate of the planet up to such diplomacy has “always been a delusion—one that I had, by the way,” says Gilding.

“In that diplomatic world they have a notion of political realism which is quite separate from physical reality,” says Philip Sutton, a member of The Climate Mobilization’s advisory board and a strategist for an Australian group advocating a full transition to a sustainable economy. “The physical reality is now catching up with us.”

To compare the fight against climate change to WWII may sound hyperbolic to some, but framing it in such stark, dramatic terms could help awaken the public to that “physical reality”—and appeal to Americans less inclined to worry about the environment.

“It’s not tree hugging—it’s muscular, it’s patriotic,” said Margaret Klein Salamon, director and co-founder of The Climate Mobilization. “We’re calling on America to lead the world and to be heroic and courageous like we once were.”

When Salamon began working on the group that would become the Climate Mobilization, she was earning her PhD in clinical psychology. “I view it as a psychological issue. What we need to do is achieve the mentality that the United States achieved the day after the Pearl Harbor attacks,” Salamon said. “Before that there had been just rampant denial and isolationism.”

Indeed, climate denial is still pervasive. Only 73 percent of registered U.S. voters believe global warming is even occurring according to the most recent survey. Only 56 percent think climate change is caused mostly by human activity. It’s going to take a catastrophe much worse than Hurricane Katrina or Sandy to alter public opinion to the degree necessary for a climate mobilization—and even then, achieving that war mentality may be impossible.

“We’re good at fighting wars. … We fight wars on drugs and wars on poverty and wars on terrorism,” says David Orr, a professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College. “That becomes kind of the standard metaphor or analogy for action.” But climate change is “more like solving a quadratic equation. We have to get a lot of things right.”

There are other reasons the war analogy doesn’t hold up. WWII mobilization was prompted by a sudden, immediate threat and was expected to have a limited time span, whereas the threat of climate change has been increasing for years and stretches in front of us forever. But perhaps the biggest difference is that our enemies in WWII were clear and easy to demonize. There is no Hitler or Mussolini of climate change, and those responsible for it are not foreign powers on distant shores. As Orr says, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.”

Article Link to the New Republic:

Why ‘Never Hillary’ Trumps ‘Never Trump’

By Deroy Murdock
The New York Post
May 13, 2016

I’m sorry, I tried.

In print, on air, online and in person, I urged GOP primary voters to send to the White House — chronologically — Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. It seems they didn’t listen.

That leaves real-estate magnate Donald J. Trump as the Republican Party’s standard-bearer. He will not run next fall against the ghost of Thomas Jefferson, the reincarnation of Ronald Wilson Reagan or even Nebraska’s former US Sen. Bob Kerrey, a thinking Democrat — all tantalizing alternatives.

Trump most likely will battle Hillary Rodham Clinton — a far-left, borderline serial criminal whose presidency would be rocket-fueled by revenge.

Hillary will spend four to eight years auditing conservatives, stripping pro-freedom groups of their tax-exempt status and curbing their free speech. She will grab the guns of law-abiding citizens. She will pick Americans’ pockets so she can gild those of her Big Labor pals, starting with the teachers unions.

A President Hillary would order liberal lawyers across the federal bureaucracy to sue “global-warming” skeptics under the anti-Mafia RICO statute, an idea US Attorney General Loretta Lynch says she has “discussed” and “referred to the FBI.” Sixteen Democratic state attorneys general already are suing those who refuse to genuflect before the “global warming” altar.

Hillary’s leftist lawyers will double down on Obama’s crusade to strip college men of due process when liars accuse them of sexual harassment or rape on campus. And Hillary will nominate left-wing federal judges to high-five all of this — until death do them part.

Many on the right accurately chide Trump for not being “a consistent conservative.” Among others, Trump’s trade and entitlement-reform positions confirm this. But Trump’s enthusiasm for the Second Amendment and his embrace of a 15 percent corporate tax, ObamaCare repeal, health savings accounts, waterboarding and securing the Southern “border” demonstrate that he’s quite conservative — if not every time, then many times.

Clinton, however, is not a consistent conservative. She is not even an occasional conservative. She is an anti-conservative. Nowhere is Hillary to the right of Lincoln . . . Chaffee. She favors devolving power and tax dollars to the states . . . never.

This is the verdict that 10,924,682 GOP primary voters have reached: On one side, an inconsistent conservative who will stand with the right — not always, but at least sometimes, and perhaps often.

On the other side, either a self-avowed socialist from Vermont (who wins primaries but gets swamped by undemocratic superdelegates) or, more likely, a stealth socialist who is nearly as far-left, but also deeply, irretrievably corrupt.

One of today’s enduring mysteries is why Hillary isn’t already wearing a prison-striped pantsuit after abusing 2,115 classified e-mails, The Wall Street Journal calculates, and benefiting from the bribes-for-favors pump called the Clinton Foundation. She’s under active investigation by “fewer than 50” FBI agents, the Washington Post reports.

But, phantasmagorically, this bothers the left about as much as if she acquired 49 new Facebook friends.

And remember the Supreme Court seat so unexpectedly vacated by the late Antonin Scalia? Assuming that vacuum persists, Trump might fill it with federal appellate Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick or US Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

There is zero chance Hillary even would glance at the résumés of these committed constitutionalists. The best-case scenario is that she would nominate former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz to the Supremes. Conversely, she could reward Obama for keeping her unindicted by tapping him to occupy Scalia’s chair — for life.

Thus, on Election Day, I will pull the lever for my fifth choice for president: Donald J. Trump. He’s the only thing standing between America and the woman who would turn our exceptional country into Christina Kirchner’s Argentina, if we’re lucky, or Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, if we aren’t.

Article Link to the New York Post:

How the U.S. Can Defeat Putin’s Shadow War

Vladimir Putin has a czarist vision of a greater Russia, and his first order of business is getting the U.S. out of Europe. To defeat him, we first must learn to play by his rules.

By Sean McFate
The Daily Beast
May 13, 2016

Recently, one of my students asked me: Why doesn’t the U.S. stop Vladimir Putin? He was no ordinary student, and this was no regular college. He was a senior military officer from an allied country, and we were at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where I’m a professor who teaches courses on national security strategy.

He is not alone. Many wonder how Putin gets away with it again and again and again. In the past few years, Russia blitzed the country of Georgia, cyber-crushed Estonia, claimed much of the Arctic as “theirs,” invaded eastern Ukraine, stole Crimea, mucked around in Syria, increased submarine patrols to Cold War levels, and is worrying eastern Europe. The Bear is back.

Five years ago, Washington, D.C. foreign policy elites mocked Russia. Now, no one is laughing. Last month, a Russian fighter jet did practice attack runs on an American destroyer in the Black Sea, flying so low it left a wake in the water, while in a separate incident another fighter did barrel rolls around a US RC-135 spy plane.

It’s as if Putin was saying to NATO, “Hey, the Americans won’t even defend themselves. You really think they’ll defend you?”

Putin has a czar’s vision for “Greater Russia,” and the strategic mind to achieve it. His objective is simple: Get the U.S. out of NATO, then extend Russia’s sphere of influence to the Atlantic. If Trump is elected, I think it could happen.

Make no mistake, Putin is waging a shadow war with the West, and winning.

Meanwhile, American strategists are chasing their tails, debating the strategic buzzwords du jour, such as: “Is this hybrid warfare or the gray zone“? Who cares. Let’s win.

To win against Putin, we must first “Know thy enemy,” according to the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. Sometimes it takes an outsider to do this. I’m a former private military contractor—mercenary to some—and I’m not steeped in the Pentagon mindset. I know Putin and the type of war he’s waging, and it’s not found in the textbooks of the war colleges. It’s found in fiction, which can reveal truths sometimes obscured by reality.

In the novel Shadow War, Bret Witter and I show how Putin’s way of war really works. Spoiler alert: it’s not your grandfather’s war.

Shadow War centers around Tom Locke, a likable albeit damaged guy. He’s a high end mercenary, working a multi-billion-dollar private military company that does things the U.S. government won’t do, or the corporate world can’t do.

Locke is sent covertly to Eastern Ukraine to ensure America’s chosen oligarch becomes the president. But nothing is as it seems. It’s unclear who his real client is. He has an American contract. Sort of. The book exposes some of the realities of the modern mercenary world.

Meanwhile, Locke’s scheming boss, Brad Winters, is working his way through Washington, D.C., Houston, New York City, London, and other places. He’s in business for himself, despite what he tells his clientele. What does a man like Winters want? Everything. He’s the global .01 percent, with a private army.

Shadow War is based on actual events. It pulls back the curtain on messy conflicts like the Ukraine, and explains why Putin continues to outmaneuver the West. It’s important because it won’t end with Ukraine. Putin has bigger plans.

Putin wins because he’s waging a shadow war, while we are not. If we want to stop him, we need to understand how shadow wars work. Here’s what you need to know:

10 Characteristics of Shadow Wars

1. States matter less.
Today’s “great powers” aren’t just countries, they’re multinational corporations as well as the super-rich. The Fortune 500 are more powerful than most countries, most of which are fragile or failed states. Although Shadow War is an international thriller, few of the “great powers” are states. Corporations are involved in conflicts like Ukraine.

2. Mercenaries are back.
This industry was dormant for centuries, and then resurrected by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, where half of America’s military personnel were contractors. Now Russia, Nigeria, the Emirates and corporations use mercenaries. Locke discovers that mercenaries are fighting on all sides of the Ukraine war, drawing out the war for profit.

3. Deep States exist. Deep States are networks of elites who can sometimes rule behind governments, across sectors, and beyond borders for their own benefit. Shadow War reveals some of the connections between Wall Street and K Street, and how national interests can be manipulated for shareholder profit. Some deny this, but it’s not new.

4. Warriors are masked, and may not fight for states. Shadow War takes you to the frontlines of the Ukraine war. Soldiers are rare. Militias, mercenaries, criminals, spooks, and refugees litter the landscape. Sometimes it’s unclear who the enemy is.

5. Economics can be weaponized. Shadow wars utilize all instruments of national power, not just military ones. Economics is a favorite cudgel of Putin. Forget World War II bombers. Putin turns off the gas to Europe when he doesn’t get his way, plunging the Europe into an energy crisis. What’s being fought for in Shadow War isn’t terrain, it’s energy and industry.

6. Clandestine operations are key.
In the information age, plausible deniability is more powerful than tank divisions. The Russian military could invade Ukraine outright yet Putin chooses to use mercenaries, proxy militia, and “Little Green Men“ (Russian soldiers without Russian insignia on their fatigues). How can you rally the world to fight a war that may not exist? You can’t. It’s a brilliant strategic defense by Putin.

7. Hearts and minds don’t matter. Forget the failed counterinsurgency strategies of Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, shadow wars aren’t about “the people.” The fight in Ukraine isn’t a continuation of the Orange Revolution. It’s about dueling oligarchs and other things.

8. Lie, a lot.
Some of the best weapons do not fire bullets. Putin understands the power of propaganda and the fickleness of the news cycle. Even when his proxies blew up a civilian airliner, the world quickly moved on, thanks to an army of cyber trolls who misdirected, reframed, and denied the obvious.

9. “Winning” has changed. You do not have to conquer in the traditional sense. Super technologies and battlefield triumphs guarantee nothing in a shadow war. Cunning and boldness are decisive. Tom Locke’s greatest asset is not the firepower at his fingertips (and he has a lot), but his brain.

10. People still matter most.
While in the field, I learned quickly that trust between people is the difference between success and failure. But betrayal is a touchstone of shadow wars, too. What happens to Tom Locke in Shadow War is a very good introduction to the ways modern warriors must navigate in this frightening new world.

War is morphing. It’s no longer a military-on-military clash for king and country. Today’s wars are fought in the shadows, yet American strategists remain mired in the WWII paradigm of “regular” war. We’re punching in the dark. Meanwhile, Putin is waging a shadow war, and that’s why he’s winning.

The solution? It’s time for America to fight back—but do it in the shadows. The U.S. did this during the Cold War. Now that a new Cold War may be resurgent, it’s time to fight back, Tom Locke-style.

Article Link to the Daily Beast:

Top Hezbollah Commander Killed In Syria

By Tom Perry and Laila Bassam
May 13, 2016

Top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine has been killed in an attack in Syria, the Lebanese Shi'ite group said on Friday, the biggest blow to the Iranian-backed organization since its military chief was killed in 2008.

Badreddine, 55, was one of the highest ranking officials in the group, and assessed by the U.S. government to be responsible for Hezbollah's military operations in Syria, where it is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The killing of Badreddine, a brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah military commander, Imad Moughniyah, is the latest big loss sustained by Hezbollah and Iran in Syria despite Russian military intervention in support of Assad and his allies.

Hezbollah has lost at least four prominent figures since January 2015, and a number of high-ranking Iranian officers have also been killed either fighting Syrian insurgents or in Israeli attacks.

Hezbollah said Badreddine had been killed in a big explosion targeting one of its bases near Damascus airport, and an investigation was underway into whether it was caused by an air strike, a missile attack, or artillery bombardment.

It did not say when he was killed.

The Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen earlier reported he had been killed in an attack by Israel, which has struck Hezbollah targets in Syria several times during the conflict that began in 2011.

There was no immediate response from Israel, which deems Hezbollah its most potent enemy and worries that it is becoming entrenched on its Syrian front and acquiring more advanced weaponry.

Hezbollah, a political and military movement and Lebanon's most powerful group, has grown ever stronger since forcing Israel to end its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. The sides fought a 34-day war in 2006, their last major conflict.

When asked by an interviewer on Israel Radio about possible Israeli involvement, cabinet minister Zeev Elkin, a close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to comment.

Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Badreddine's killing was good news for Israel but stopped short of saying Israel was responsible.

“This is good for Israel. Israel isn’t always responsible for this. We don’t know if Israel is responsible for this," he told Israel’s Army Radio."Remember that those operating in Syria today have a lot of haters without Israel."

"But from Israel’s view, the more people with experience, like Badreddine, who disappear from the wanted list, the better,” he added

A U.S. Department of the Treasury statement detailing sanctions against Badreddine last year said he was assessed to be responsible for the group's military operations in Syria since 2011, and he had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with Assad in Damascus.

Announcing his death, Hezbollah cited Badreddine saying he would return from Syria victorious or "a martyr". A photo released by the group showed him smiling and wearing a camouflage baseball cap.

Hezbollah's al-Manar TV said he would be buried at 5:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Hijackers Sought His Release

Badreddine was sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in bomb attacks there in 1983. He escaped from prison in Kuwait after Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded the country in 1990.

His release from jail in Kuwait was one of the demands made by the hijackers of a TWA flight in 1985, and of the hijackers of a Kuwait Airways flight in 1988.

For years, Badreddine masterminded military operations against Israel from Lebanon and overseas and managed to escape capture by Arab and Western governments.

Badreddine, was also one of five Hezbollah members indicted by the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri. The group denied any involvement and said the charges were politically motivated.

The U.S. Treasury statement also said he had led Hezbollah ground offensives in the Syrian town of al-Qusayr in 2013, a critical battle in the war when Hezbollah fighters defeated Syrian rebels in an area near the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Around 1,200 Hezbollah fighters are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian conflict. These include prominent fighters Samir Qantar and Jihad Moughniyah, the son of Imad Moughniyah, who were killed in separate Israeli attacks last year.

Hezbollah responded in both cases, though the incidents were contained with the sides seeking to avoid any repeat of the 2006 war, which exacted a heavy price in Israel and Lebanon.

Hezbollah accuses Israel of carrying out the 2008 killing of Moughniyah, who was killed by a bomb in Damascus.

Article Link to Reuters:

Oil Prices Fall On Stronger Dollar; Russia Warns Of Longer Glut

By Henning Gloystein
May 13, 2016

Oil prices fell by around one percent on Friday as a stronger dollar weighed and Russia warned that a global crude supply overhang could last into next year.

The dollar has recovered 2.46 percent in value from May lows against a basket of other leading currencies .DXY, reversing an almost 8-percent fall earlier in the year.

A stronger dollar, in which oil is traded, makes fuel imports more expensive for countries using other currencies, potentially hitting demand.

International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were trading at $47.66 per barrel at 0650 GMT, down 42 cents or 0.9 percent from their last settlement.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 54 cents, or 1.18 percent, at $46.16 a barrel.

But analysts said that declining output, especially in North America was preventing deeper price falls.

"A stronger U.S.-dollar came up against more positive fundamentals ... due a fall in U.S. oil production," ANZ bank said on Friday.

U.S. crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA has fallen 4.7 percent from 2016 peaks in January to 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd), according to U.S. Energy Information data, and output is down 8.4 percent from its 2015 peak.

In Canada, crude production outages from oil sand fields following forced closures due to wildfires still stood over 1 million bpd as of Wednesday, although operators said they were gradually ramping up output.

"Wildfires may have temporarily shut in as much as 1.4 million bpd of production, but there appears to be no facility damage. Operations are beginning to restart, but we believe (assuming no pipeline damages) it will take weeks to ramp production," U.S. investment bank Jefferies said.

With global demand rising by 1.4 million bpd in the first quarter of 2016, compared with the same time last year, consumption remained strong, also supporting markets.

Yet top crude oil producer Russia poured cold water on the notion that recent falls in production in the Americas, Asia and Africa had wiped out a global production and storage overhang that helped pull down oil prices by over 70 percent between 2014 and early 2016.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Thursday that the global oil surplus stood at 1.5 million bpd and that the market might not balance out until the first half of 2017.

"(The outlook that the market won't balance until the first half of 2017) is an optimistic forecast as oversupply persists and the decline in production volumes is slower than analysts expected," he said.

Novak said he expected Russia to produce 540 million tonnes (10.81 million bpd) or more of oil this year, up from 534 million tonnes in 2015.

Brazil’s Breakdown Doesn’t End With The Ouster Of Its President

By Benny Avni
The New York Post
May 13, 2016

Dilma Rousseff has no one to blame for the messy Brazil she leaves behind but herself, and the outdated Latin American political dogma she clings to.

Rousseff was temporarily removed from power by the Senate just as Brazil is struggling to show its prettiest face to the world in the summer Olympics. She vowed to fight on, but Brazilians now blame her for everything, from widespread corruption to the spreading Zika virus.

With public approval down to 10 percent, Rousseff told her dwindling but loud fans Thursday that the impeachment — in a daylong 55-22 Senate vote — was no less than a “coup.” Claiming the vote was undemocratic, she harked back to her heroic revolutionary youth, when she was imprisoned and tortured by the country’s military dictators.

Rousseff even played the gender card, reminding the crowds that she’s Brazil’s first woman president.

As for the accusations underlying the impeachment, she said, “If it wasn’t a crime before, it isn’t a crime now.” In fact, she’s not quite accused of a crime. At least not yet. (The Senate vote, and the ensuing “trial” to permanently remove her from office, isn’t a criminal proceeding but a political one.)

Instead, she’s being driven out of office because of governance malpractice. Specifically, Rousseff is accused of cooking the books to bolster her 2014 reelection campaign and taking huge loans from banks she controlled to cover up for the government’s growing budget deficits.

When Rousseff was handpicked by “Lula” da Silva in 2010 to succeed him as president, the economy was booming. Investors rushed to Brazil. It was the B in the group of nations known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), which were supposed to be the next big economic top dogs.

The country looked promising under a socialist government inspired by Cuba’s Castro brothers and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

The boom was ignited by Chinese and other countries’ lust for Brazilian commodities. Lula, the charismatic, politically gifted Workers Party’s leader, used much of the cash to lift the masses from poverty. His government subsidized anything from housing to cars and gasoline. And he was savvy enough not to fully extinguish market forces, the “invisible hand” nudging the economy along.

By the time Rousseff replaced Lula, however, world demand for commodities started to dwindle. Naturally, so did the government’s coffers.

Yet the new, stiffly ideological president continued Lula’s popular subsidy programs long after she could no longer afford them. When she finally started withdrawing support for artificially low gasoline prices, the public turned against her.

Now Brazil’s suffering its deepest financial crisis since the 1930s. Those foreign investors are all gone. Government bonds are down to junk level. With low growth, rising inflation and unemployment reaching 11 percent, even the most able politician would run into hardships. And Rousseff, stern and woody, lacks Lula’s charisma.

And here’s another almost-inevitable byproduct of too much government control of the economy: corruption in the upper echelons of power.

Lula, Brazil’s former savior and Rousseff’s idol, is now ensnared in a deepening investigation into alleged bribery at Petrobas, the country’s oil company. The ever-widening investigation into one of Brazil’s largest cash cows has plagued Rousseff’s entire second term, adding to the public’s increasing anger at political elites.

In the lead-up to her impeachment, Rousseff said it was unfair to kick her out of office on the eve of the Olympics, which she’s worked so hard to promote. But three months before opening day, ticket sales to the games are lagging. The locals can’t afford them, and fans from outside Brazil fear the mosquito-borne Zika.

Rousseff will continue to fight, she says, even as her vice president, Michel Temer, temporarily takes office.

Brazil will hopefully pull through somehow. Latin America, after all, isn’t as messy as the Mideast. (Temer became president far away from his country of birth, Lebanon, where political standoff and the threat of violence has left the president’s palace empty for two years.)

But it’s messy enough that pulling Brazil out of its political nosedive will take a lot more than booting Dilma Rousseff from office.

Article Link to the New York Post:

Hillary Hate Fan Fiction Feeds Trump

Donald Trump has hinted he has a lot of dirt on Hillary Clinton. But where is he getting his information from? Some of the best, worst Hillary fan fiction money can buy.

By Olivia Nuzzi 
The Daily Beast
May 13, 2016

Hillary Clinton is a murderer and a lesbian and she buys her muumuus on

Well, she has lesbian associations as well as affairs with men. Thank goodness the appeal of the muumuu crosses the gender divide, because she’s really more of a bisexual.

For proof of this look no further than Chelsea Clinton’s face, a close inspection of which is all you need to know that she’s not Bill Clinton’s daughter, but the product of Hillary’s sexual relationship with Webb Hubbell, her old partner at the Rose Law Firm, whose indelicate features, from certain angles, are nearly identical to hers.

Speaking of old flames, Vincent Foster was Hillary’s soulmate and while she probably didn’t kill him, she definitely moved his body to Fort Marcy Park after he shot himself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol in the White House. Though the Clintons did hire detectives to kill Kathleen Willey’s cat and leave its skull on her porch to intimidate her into silence after Bill, a cocaine fiend who trafficked the stuff into the Mena Airport in Arkansas by the ton, sexually assaulted her. His rehab stints never worked. He relied on cocaine too much for energy to globe trot with pedophiles and impregnate prostitutes in alleyways during his morning jogs.

If it seems like I’m an alternate-universe Clinton expert, you’re right, but I can’t take credit for the things I know—OK, heard.

It’s all from the exhaustive works of longtime acquaintances of Donald Trump who, intentionally or not, have written the foundational texts for the Republican nominee’s case against Hillary Clinton.

Roger Stone and his co-author Robert Morrow, along with Edward Klein, have produced books that amount to a treasure trove of opposition research for Trump. In hundreds and hundreds of pages they have revealed dark, personal secrets and transcripts of private conversations Clinton has had in the intimacy of her own home—with family and friends and even with Steven Spielberg.

Is anything they’ve written factual?

Doesn’t matter, really, when you’ve already accused Ted Cruz’s dad of playing hacky sack with Lee Harvey Oswald and imagined a parade of Muslims celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

“He’s going to use it. It’s just a matter of when,” Morrow told me of the book he wrote with Stone. “I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

Political observers have generally fared poorly over the last year when making predictions about the election, but I’d bet my muumuu that Trump takes the insights he gleans from the curriculum produced by Stone, Morrow and Klein to a cable chyron near you—and sometime before the July conventions. He’s already started. Last week, Trump criticized Clinton for being a “nasty, mean enabler” of her husband’s affairs—a page, literally, out of the doctrine.

“I’m not flattered,” Morrow said of the likelihood that Trump would cite his work. “I’m delighted he is, because it is going to napalm Hillary Clinton. She is going to be burned at the stake in 2016 and everybody should get out their marshmallows and put them on a stick.”

There are dozens of books about the Clintons, including but not limited to: sprawling biographies, shitty self-published e-books, books that cast them favorably, books that tear them down, children’s books and even a cookbook called, The ‘I Greatly Dislike Hillary Clinton’ Cookbook, which includes a recipe for jerk chicken along with dishes named, “Liar, Liar”; “Mouth on Fire Spicy Chili”; “Meatless Meatballs” and “Garbage Bread.”

But the most colorful subgenre of Clinton literature is the conspiracy scrapbook. These books tend to differ from books that merely tear them down (think Christopher Hitchens’ No One Left To Lie To, 1999). The reporting is questionable, the writing is bad and the contempt the author(s) has for the subject overshadows the story they’re trying to tell.

Since 2005, four prominent texts that fall into this category have been published by Stone, Morrow and Klein: The Truth About Hillary (Klein, 2005); Blood Feud: The Clintons v The Obamas (Klein, 2014); Unlikeable: The Problem With Hillary (Klein, 2015) and The Clintons’ War On Women (Stone and Morrow, 2015).

And what an eclectic crew the three authors are.

Stone, 64, is the white-haired, body-building, fashion-obsessed, sex-club-visiting former aide to Richard Nixon with a portrait of Nixon’s face tattooed between his shoulderblades.

Stone was introduced to Trump in the 1970s by Roy Cohn, Senator Joe McCarthy’s legal counsel, who mentored Trump politically. Stone remained in Trump’s orbit over the decades, advising him informally, before joining his presidential campaign in 2015. He left in August amid staff infighting (he butted heads, in particular, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), but he returned to the inner circle when Trump hired Paul Manafort, who’d been his partner at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, a lobbying firm in D.C. that they started in the early 1980s.

For his first (and so far only) book about the Clintons, Stone enlisted Morrow—whose resume has far fewer traditional bulletpoints than his own—for help.

Morrow, 51, is a towering and disheveled presence who dresses like a math teacher who’s fallen on hard times.

He lives in Austin, Texas and serves, much to the ire of the Travis County GOP, as the chairman of the Travis County GOP. He survives on an inheritance, and when he’s not rating anime porn on a scale of 1 to 10 on Twitter, he devotes his every waking moment to uncovering and perpetuating information—most of it highly questionable, to put it politely—about public officials.

He spent much of 2011 campaigning against Rick Perry, who he called “a rampaging bisexual adulterer.” He even ran an ad against him that asked, “HAVE YOU HAD SEX WITH RICK PERRY? ARE YOU A STRIPPER, AN ESCORT, OR JUST A ‘YOUNG HOTTIE’ IMPRESSED BY AN ARROGANT, ENTITLED GOVERNOR OF TEXAS?” He provided a phone number and email address where such people could reach him to get their stories out.

Morrow, interestingly, hates Trump. He’s a Ron Paul devotee who campaigned—and volunteered in Iowa—for Rand Paul before switching over to support Ted Cruz. Now he likes Gary Johnson, the libertarian. But he’s happy to see his work being put to use to destroy Clinton, regardless of how he feels about Trump.

“Here’s the key point,” he said, “Donald Trump didn’t murder 76 innocents at Waco in 1993, and Hillary did.”

He thinks Trump is awful—”a narcissistic, pathological, lying psychopath who says that he wants to torture the enemy and commit war crimes against their families”—but, he reasons, “the future we do not know but the past we know for certain.” And the past, as Morrow understands it, is full of Clinton’s sins.

The parts of The Clintons’ War On Women that are written coherently are hard to put down. Imagine a special edition of the National Enquirer that ran several hundred pages long and focused solely on the Clintons—that’s sort of what it’s like.

Stone and Morrow harp on what they say is Bill’s relentless coke habit, dazzling with tales of him snorting lines as the Attorney General and then in the Governor’s mansion. They wink-wink for a never-ending chapter on his association with Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire pedophile, but they never outright allege Bill engaged in pedophilia himself on any of his “eighteen” trips on Epstein’s private plane, which is “known as the ‘Lolita Express.’” (Trump, too, knows Epstein—he even dined at his house).

Unlike Stone and Morrow, Klein’s…eccentricities…aren’t apparent on the surface. He doesn’t have a Twitter account where he ranks anime “boobies” like Morrow and he’s never posed for a photoshoot dressed up as the Joker from Batman like Stone. Without reading any of his work, you might think Klein is your average veteran reporter. Just a nice 79-year-old guy with a friendly demeanor on the phone, probably somebody’s grandpa.

In conversation, he’s quick to note his long history in the news business writing for and editing reputable publications—not to boast, he says, but just for context. He started out at the New York Daily News, moved onto Newsweek, then The New York Times, and finally The New York Times Magazine, which he edited and, his biography brags, received a Pulitzer during his reign. He’s maintained what he says is not a friendship, but a reporter-source relationship, with Trump for decades. Earlier this month, they had lunch together.

Klein started writing books in the mid-90s and, he told me, began researching Clinton around 2003. Over the last 13 years (and three Clinton books), he said, he’s developed countless sources—some of whom he’s interviewed more than 70 times.

This all sounds great and credible until you read what they allegedly told him.

The beginning of Unlikeable, his most recent book, for instance, is an elaborate scene that Klein says happened “one evening” while she and Bill “were having drinks with friends” and Bill suggested she contact Steven Spielberg for advice about how to be more likable.

Klein reproduces an entire conversation’s worth of dialogue between the Clintons, in which Hillary is quoted as saying, “I get $250,000 for a speech, and these Hollywood jackasses are going to tell me how to do it!”

Later in the book, Klein writes that “in the presence of several friends” Hillary told Bill, “I don’t want to be a pantsuit-wearing globetrotter.”

In Blood Feud, Klein wrote that Hillary said, verbatim, in a private conversation, “Now we are going to be together on the campaign trail, and it’s going to be complicated. Plus, there is the dynamic that when I run for president I’m going to be the boss, and I’m not sure Bill will be able to handle that. He says he’ll be my adviser and loving husband, but I’m afraid that if I’m elected, he’ll think he’s president again and I’m first lady. If he starts that shit, I’ll have his ass thrown out of the White House.”

Unless Klein wired his sources and his sources were Bill and Hillary Clinton, none of this is likely to be even kind of true. It’s possible Klein is a fabulist, or it’s possible he has terrible sources. It’s also possible that he’s a looney toon and the multiple sources he’s interviewed upwards of 70 times each are all in his head.

Who’s to say? If I were Ed Klein I might say I know that last thing for a fact.

I asked Klein about his reporting process.

“People ask me, why do they talk to you?” he said, “People like to talk about their connection to people in power. They—it’s something that gives them a sense of their own importance and a lot of them talk to me because they feel that they’re basically letting the world know, or through me, letting me know, that they are connected to people at the highest levels of power.”

He added that, though it’s not always apparent, sometimes people leak information because they’re jealous of the person in power, even if they admire and serve them professionally.

“I’ve protected them all these years,” he said of his sources. He views critical appraisals of his work—his reviews are almost universally condemnatory—as nothing more than the Clinton Slime Room, as Maureen Dowd coined it, hard at work. He does not believe critics are reviewing his books with their own critical thoughts, but with talking points distributed by Clinton and her associates.

Clinton conspiracies are, of course, as old as the Clintons’ political careers themselves.

In 1995, the White House counsel’s office produced a 332-page internal memo, called “The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce.” Revealed by The Wall Street Journal in 1997 and made public by the Clinton Library in 2014 (though now inexplicably removed from the website), it detailed how Clinton conspiracies made their way from “well funded right wing think tanks” and conservative “newsletters and newspapers” to the internet, then to the British tabloids, who’ll print just about anything, then to the New York tabloids, and ultimately to the “the mainstream media.”

“After the mainstream right-of-center American media covers the story,” the memo read, “Congressional committees will look into the story. After Congress looks into the story, the story now has the legitimacy to be covered by the remainder of the American mainstream press as a ‘real’ story.”

Nowadays, the process is simpler: Trump says something and it’s immediately a legitimate story, because the de facto Republican nominee and leader of one of the country’s two major political parties saying something crazy is news.

I’ve written extensively about the possibility that Trump is a conspiracy theorist, and I maintain that’s likely. But likely, too, is the possibility that Trump is merely savvy.

It was just as voters were taking to the polls in Indiana—which had been perceived, a few days before the primary, as a competitive state for Ted Cruz—that Trump went on Fox News to ask why nobody was paying attention to a National Enquirer story alleging Cruz’s dad had been with Lee Harvey Oswald just before the JFK assassination.

And just like that, the narrative in the media changed from, Can Cruz Win Indiana? to Donald Trump Connects Cruz’s Dad to JFK Assassination.

Who knows if Trump believed any of it, and who cares? It worked. Cruz dropped out of the race a few hours later, making Trump, effectively, the Republican nominee.

For the general, Trump has more than just one tabloid story to knockout his opponent. He’s got an entire library’s worth of poorly-written ammo.

And his three horsemen are more than willing to assist.

“Donald does not ask me for my opinions on politics,” Klein told me. “He thinks he’s doing me a big favor by letting me hang out with him, and he is, in a way…It’s all about Donald. It’s not about me.”

Article Link to the Daily Beast:

Iran's Unstoppable March Toward Dominance

Tehran's "moment" was coming long before the nuclear deal.

The National Interest
May 12, 2016

In late June 2013 the Economist underscored the need for stripping Iran of its nuclear program “to stem the rise of Persian power.” A “nuclear Iran,” it asserted, would seriously challenge Western interests in the Middle East and endanger “Israel’s right to exist.” The magazine concluded: “When Persian power is on the rise, it is not the time to back away from the Middle East.” Arguing from the opposite angle, Hillary Mann Leverett, a former U.S. National Security Council official, wrote in March 2015: “In reality, Iran’s rise is not only normal, it is actually essential to a more stable region,” because America’s recent “imperial overstretch” to permanently create a pro-American regional order, and the post-1979 Faustian bargain involving Israel and Saudi Arabia to contain Iranian power, had failed.

President Obama has of late reckoned with this reality, after long denial by successive U.S. administrations since 1979. At the end of the second GCC-U.S. summit meeting in Saudi Arabia held on April 21–22, he delivered two important messages, among others, to the Gulf Arab leaders: that the United States had no interest in direct confrontation with Iran, and that the Gulf leaders should depend more on their military capacities to defend their countries. Implicit in Obama’s two messages was another significant message: the United States views Iran as a powerful actor in the Middle East, a reference to what he previously said in his interview with the Atlantic that the GCC should “share the neighborhood” with Iran, provoking sharp reactions from some of the Gulf allies.

Today, the rise of Iran is less of a political topic to debate and more of a reality to recognize. Compared to its Middle Eastern neighbors, Iran has made impressive strides in space technology in the past few years, putting the first satellite into orbit in February 2009; has emerged as a cyber power on the level of China or Russia; and has achieved significant advances in military hardware production, including sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles, main battle tanks, and medium and long-range ballistic missiles. The Iranian defense industry is making gradual inroads into global armament markets, with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon already receiving regular arms shipments to fight Islamic State and other rebel forces. The Iranian state is capable of projecting force in the Gulf and the Levant, and has often challenged the United States—successfully or not—to stay out of the Gulf region, showing a high degree of foreign-policy independence.

Furthermore, traditional elements of Iranian power, such as its strategic location with unfettered access to the Indian Ocean and considerable control over the Strait of Hormuz in the southern entrance of the Persian Gulf, through which one-third of the world’s seaborne oil shipments passes; its long shorelines on the Caspian Sea, connecting Tehran to the Central Asian states and Russia; a large and educated population; huge reserves of oil and gas; and an expanding industrial base contributing to nearly 40 percent of GDP, despite Western sanctions—all these buttress Iran’s bid for a major power role in the Middle East.

Iran’s Moment in the Middle East

The immediate tipping point for Iran’s rise as a major regional power has been the historic nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran and the P5+1 group of states (the United States, the UK, China, France, Russia plus Germany) signed in mid-July 2015, unleashing a rare “Iranian moment.” Politically, the deal forced the Americans to accord legitimacy to an cleric-led country they so far branded a “rogue state” or classified it in the so-called “axis of evil.” Economically, it mostly frees the Iranian economy from UN and Western sanctions to reintegrate into the world economy and thrive, while the West accepts Iran as a strategic partner in the fight against Islamic State violence and extremism.

The “Iranian moment” did not, however, emerge from the nuclear deal alone. It was two to three decades in the making, amid momentous developments that shook up strategic landscapes in and around the Middle East. Two of these crucial changes were the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the elimination of Iran’s two bitter enemies—Taliban Afghanistan to the east and Saddam Hussein’s regime to the west—by the United States in the early 2000s. Iran became the greatest strategic beneficiary of America’s military assault on Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq under the rubric of the War on Terror, which the United States had hardly intended. The so-called Sunni wall of defense against Shia Iran completely crumbled, empowering Iran to influence political and strategic developments in post-Saddam Iraq.

In the ruins of the Soviet Union, there emerged half a dozen states in Central Asia, creating a buffer zone between Iran and Russia and thus relieving Russian pressure on Iran’s northern and northeastern borders. Relations between Iran and Russia were historically plagued with tensions and conflicts, including wars of territorial aggrandizement. As recently as 1941, the Soviet Union and Britain deposed the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, Reza Khan Pahlavi (1926–1941), for his opposition to a joint British-Soviet plan to use Iran as a supply route for Soviet troops fighting German forces in areas northwest of Iran. Imperial Russia captured much of Persia’s territory in the Caucasus and Central Asia, forcing the Persian Qajar dynasty (1789–1925) to sign the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828. These historical defeats and humiliations at the hands of Russia remain quite fresh in Iran’s memory, though the two countries have in recent years forged an informal alliance relationship to oppose U.S. dominance and defend the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria, battered by a civil war unleashed by the Arab Spring.

It was the Arab Spring, especially the rise of the Islamic State in the summer of 2014, that acted as a catalyst for Iran to expand its regional sphere of influence. Tehran perceived the threats of Islamic State and Western-backed rebel groups against Syria and the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad as threats to its own security and the viability of the so-called “axis of resistance” comprising Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. The Revolutionary Guards justified military involvements and actions in Syria and Iraq in defensive terms: “If we do not fight them [Islamic State forces and various rebel groups] in Damascus, we have to fight them back in the streets of Tehran.” President Hassan Rouhani promised unconditional support for Iraq to combat ISIS terror, and Ali Akbar Velayati, a top foreign policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has often reiterated that President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster before his term ends is “Iran’s redline” in Syria. Iran appears firmly entrenched in Iraq and Syria, and has elevated its status as a power broker in the Arab world.

At the same time, a general decline in Arab state power has greatly aided Iran’s rise as the dominant regional player. Battered by the pro-democracy movements, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen are in a state of violence and chaos; Lebanon is walking a political tightrope, infested with sectarian poison and caught between “push-and-pull” pressures from Iran and Saudi Arabia; Jordan is flooded with a massive influx of Syrian refugees; and Egypt’s military-run government is under stress from domestic challenges, the most serious being a jihadist insurgency spreading in the Sinai peninsula. The Arabs seem in no effective position, at least for now, to mount any serious challenge to deflect Iranian pressure or prevent its rise. Saudi Arabia’s efforts to square off against Iran in Syria, Iraq and Yemen have so far yielded no notable outcomes.

Strategies to Enhance Power and Influence

Iran’s rise to power has come with a big strategic shift from the export of revolutionary ideology to the cultivation of solid political ties with Shia constituencies across the Middle East. Ayatollah Khomeini’s post-1979 revolutionary rhetoric, especially his call on the Arabs to rise up and overthrow their un-Islamic, pro-U.S. kings and emirs, scared hereditary Arab rulers and the West in equal measure. That forced the United States and the Gulf rulers to jointly limit Khomeini’s revolutionary zeal by militarily and financially supporting the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980. Khomeini’s revolutionary appeal fell on deaf ears, as no Muslim community answered his call for revolutionary uprisings; neither did any Muslim country choose to establish an Iran-style velayat-e faqih (government of the jurist). Iran’s only external success was the creation of the Lebanese Shia resistance group Hezbollah in 1985, along Khomeini’s revolutionary ideals, to oppose Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon.

In contrast, Iran’s current strategy is non-ideological. It consists of Shia political empowerment across the region, and the development of economic self-reliance—what the Supreme Leader calls the “resistance economy”—to absorb and survive economic shocks produced by hostile external economic policies, such as sanctions. Both elements of the current strategy substantially empower Iran for a robust regional role.

Historically, the cleavages of Persian versus Arab, and Sunni versus Shia, have stymied Iran’s efforts to spread its influence in the Arab world, except for a brief period after the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. That situation probably changed for good after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which resulted in a shift of political power from Sunni to Shia hands. It encouraged Shia from across the region, including Iranian Shias, to develop political, economic and cultural ties to jointly stave off Sunni Al Qaeda fighters and oppose Sunni dominance in Iraq. For Iraqi Shias, a return to Sunni domination was more worrisome than Iran’s influence. Iran also created its own networks of political, business and cultural allies and clients to neutralize future Iraqi threats and to gradually force America to leave Iraq. With its deep involvement in the Syrian civil war to defend ally President Bashar al-Assad and his Shia Alawite community, Iran saw itself as the leader of a Shia revival stretching from Beirut to Tehran. It was the first country to send arms and military advisors to Iraq to resist Sunni Islamic State fighters, it has trained Shias from Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight in Syria, and it supports Houthi rebels in Yemen against a Saudi-led Sunni Arab coalition.

Tehran has thus overcome ethnic and intra-Shia differences to create and lead a largely unified Shia bloc in the Middle East to ensure two things: to fend off Sunni bids to capture political power in Iraq and Syria, and to defend Shia rights in other regional states.

The concept of “resistance economics,” on the other hand, originated from Iran’s efforts to offset the consequences of intrusive Western sanctions, particularly the U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on January 1, 2012, to force Iran to give up its nuclear program. The sanctions package completely cut Iran off from the global financial-transaction system, disconnected Iranian banks from the external world and significantly reduced oil production and exports, setting off negative economic growth rates of –6.6 percent in 2012 and –1.6 percent in 2013, with the Iranian rial losing 56 percent of its value between January 2012 to January 2014.

Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s mismanagement was also partially responsible for this dire economic situation. Resistance economics was a solution to minimize the effects of existing and future sanctions. It aims to reduce Iran’s vulnerabilities to regional and global economic shockwaves by creating domestic capacities to promote a knowledge-based economy, improve industrial and technological competitiveness, fight back inflation and unemployment, and reduce dependence on oil and gas exports. The idea seems to have produced some positive result recently. In the last Iranian fiscal year (March 2015–March 2016), Iran had a non-oil trade surplus of $916 million.

The Three Challenges

Though Iran’s strategy of Shia empowerment and resistance economics is paying off, there are stiff challenges to its rise and dominance. Until recently, the most formidable challenge was the U.S.-led Western opposition to Iran that attempted to economically damage Iran, politically cut it off from the international community and diplomatically render it a pariah state. The nuclear deal has turned over that page, though tensions are still running high between Tehran and Washington over Iran’s ballistic missile program and the U.S. seizure of Iran’s frozen funds.

The second serious challenge comes from Iran’s neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia. Saudi efforts to check Iran’s rise are more geopolitical in nature and less sectarian in character, despite Riyadh’s strategy to mobilize Sunni Arab and Muslim states to counter Tehran. The Saudis, awash with petrodollars and in the absence of an effective counterweight to Iran, like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, had hardly any option but to jump into the fray to face the historical competitor. The Saudi-led challenge is unlikely to end soon, but much depends on how Iran reaches out to Saudi Arabia and allays its concerns to initiate dialogues and cooperation. A China-style “peaceful rise” policy may prove more effective for Iran to engage Riyadh and other Muslim states.

The third challenge originates from within Iran itself, and is more threatening to Iran’s regional ambitions and goals. Iranian domestic politics is fissiparous, beset with multiple divides between the three overlapping groups of Islamic conservatives, reformists and pragmatists. Deep rifts characterize their views on core national issues, including relations with the West, development strategy, regional political and strategic issues, and so on. The problem is so serious that the reformist President Rouhani has called for a domestic JCPOA to iron out political differences, building national unity to implement sound policies, spurring economic development. Unless resolved or at least mitigated, domestic political disunity may prove a dreadful obstacle to Iran’s rise to regional power status.

Notwithstanding the regional and domestic challenges, Iran definitely looks poised to rise as a dominant regional power in the Middle East—a goal all Iranian leaders, from Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to Ayatollah Khomeini to Khamenei, have sought to achieve. It is presently much closer to achieving this goal than at any other time in modern history.

Article Link to the National Interest: