Monday, August 8, 2016

Rejection Of Experts Spreads From Brexit To Climate Change With 'Clexit'

Clexit calls for withdrawal from climate treaties, rejects the conclusions of 97% of climate science experts and 95% of economics experts.

By Dana Nuccitelli
The Guardian
August 9, 2016

Brexit support and climate denial have many similarities. Many Brexit Leave campaign leaders also deny the dangers of human-caused climate change. Older generations were more likely to vote for the UK to leave the EU and are more likely to oppose taking action on climate change; younger generations disagree, and will be forced to live with the consequences of those decisions. On both issues there’s also a dangerous strain of anti-intellectualism, in which campaigners mock experts and dismiss their evidence and conclusions.

With Brexit, the Leave campaign won the vote, and the UK economy is already feeling the consequences. As Graham Readfearn reported, a new group called “Clexit” (Climate Exit) has formed in an effort to similarly withdraw countries from the successful international climate treaty forged last year in Paris. As the group describes itself:

"Brexit was Britain’s answer to the growing over-reach of EU bureaucracies. Clexit is our answer to the push for global control through climate hysteria."

Clexit leaders are heavily involved in tobacco and fossil fuel-funded organizations, in what’s become known as “the web of denial.” The group’s president is Christopher Monckton, whose extensive misunderstanding of basic climate science was revealed in a thorough debunking by John Abraham, and whoinsists that President Obama was born in Kenya, among his many controversial and conspiratorial public statements. Its vice president is Marc Morano, who began his career working for Rush Limbaugh and is essentially the real-life version of the character Nick Naylor from the film Thank You for Smoking. Its secretary is Viv Forbes, who has been involved with coal industry for over 40 years and is associated with many fossil fuel-funded groups.

With feedback from the rest of the group’s members, Forbes prepared Clexit’s summary statement, which is full of myths and misinformation about economics, energy, laws, and climate science. It includes this expression of compassionate concern over the plight of low-lying island nations that are being engulfed by rising seas:

"Some of the biggest supporters of the Paris accord are small oceanic nations seeking welfare through handouts to save them from baseless predictions of rising sea levels, even though actual changes in sea levels are tiny and not unusual.

The fact is that sea level rise in Tuvalu has been effectively zero since accurate measurements commenced in 1993, on tide gauges set up by the Australian government."

This purported fact is actually a fiction: the tide gauge data show the rate of sea level rise in Tuvalu since 1993 is 4.3 mm per year, which is faster than the global average of 3.4 mm per year. And Tuvalu is only one among the many small island nations facing the loss of their homelands at the hands of global warming-caused sea level rise.

However, when it comes to energy use, Clexit’s compassion for developing countries becomes even clearer yet:

"For developing countries, the Paris Treaty would deny them the benefits of reliable low-cost hydrocarbon energy, compelling them to rely on biomass heating and costly weather-dependent and unreliable power supplies, thus prolonging and increasing their dependency on international handouts. They will soon resent being told to remain forever in an energy-deprived wind/solar/wood/bicycle economy."

The problem with energy from burning fossil fuels is that it’s only “low-cost” if we ignore the tremendous costs of the damages its carbon pollution causes via climate change. Poorer countries are particularly vulnerable to those costs, both because they lack the wealth and resources to adapt to them, and because they tend to be located in already-hot geographic regions near the equator.

There’s a reason why 95% of expert economists agree that we should cut carbon pollution. Of course, the Clexiters deny that carbon dioxide is a pollutant:

"Carbon dioxide is NOT a dangerous pollutant – it is a natural, non-toxic and beneficial gas which feeds all life on earth."

However, this was long ago decided in the courts. In 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled that the State of Massachusetts had legal standing to sue the EPA for its refusal to regulate greenhouse gases, specifically because Massachusetts showed that it was being harmed by global warming via sea level rise encroaching on its shores. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the EPA issued an endangerment finding concluding that, based on the available scientific evidence, carbon dioxide endangers public health and welfare, and must therefore be regulated as a pollutant.

The Clexiters deny that vast body of scientific evidence. In addition to sea level rise, their summary statement denies the major role of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s greenhouse effect, that current global temperatures are hotter than they’ve been in over 2,000 years, the dangers of ongoing climate change, that most climate scientists were predicting global warming in the 1970s, and so on.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that the Clexit group denies basic climate science, since the only climate scientist on their committee is Ole Humlum, who has done some very shoddy research on fossil fuels and carbon pollution. The group effectively asks that we all reject the conclusions of 97% of climate science experts and 95% of economics experts, in favor of the myths and misinformation propagated by their fake experts. Perhaps, as top Leave campaigner Michael Gove said:

"people in this country have had enough of experts.."

Gove also pushed to remove climate change from school curriculums, before backing down.

Fortunately, given the high level of global concern about climate change, Clexit faces a much tougher road to success than Brexit, because a Clexit victory would be a disaster for the rest of us.

Article Link To The Guardian:

NY Times: New Images Suggest China Militarizing Disputed Islands

By Eric Beech
August 9, 2016

Recent satellite photographs show China appears to have built reinforced aircraft hangars on its holdings in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, the New York Times reported on Monday.

There were no military aircraft seen at the time the photos were taken in late July but the hangars have room for any fighter jet in the Chinese air force, the Times said, citing an analysis of the photos by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank.

The hangars were constructed on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs, part of the Spratly Islands. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

The images have emerged about a month after an international court in The Hague ruled against China's sweeping claims in the resource-rich region, a ruling emphatically rejected by Beijing.

The United States has urged China and other claimants not to militarize their holdings in the South China Sea. China has repeatedly denied doing so, saying the facilities were for civilian and self-defense uses, and in turn criticized U.S. patrols and exercises for ramping up tensions in the region.

The hangars all show signs of structural strengthening, CSIS said.

"They are far thicker than you would build for any civilian purpose," Gregory Poling, director of CSIS's Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told the Times. "They're reinforced to take a strike."

Article Link to Reuters:

Republican National Security Experts: Trump Would Be 'Dangerous' President

By Jonathan Landay
August 9, 2016

Fifty prominent Republican national security officials, including a former CIA director, on Monday called party nominee Donald Trump unqualified to lead the country and said he would be "the most reckless president in American history."

The statement was the latest repudiation of Trump's candidacy by veteran Republican national security specialists, and was remarkable for the harshness of its language.

"Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be president. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary," the statement said.

"None of us will vote for Donald Trump," said the statement, which noted that some signatories also have doubts about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander in chief," said the statement, which was first reported in the New York Times. "Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country's national security and well-being."

The signatories, some of whom worked for more than one Republican president, included former Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden, who also headed the National Security Agency; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; and two former U.S. trade representatives, Carla Hills and Robert Zoelick.

Other signatories included former senior State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council officials who helped plan and oversee the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Trump has harshly criticized the Iraq operation, although when radio host Howard Stern asked him in 2002 if he favored invading Iraq, Trump said he guessed he did.

The statement was organized by Philip Zelikow, who served as a top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Trump responded with a statement deriding the signatories as members of "the failed Washington elite" who "deserve the blame for making the world such a dangerous place."

“These insiders – along with Hillary Clinton – are the owners of the disastrous decisions to invade Iraq, allow Americans to die in Benghazi, and they are the ones who allowed the rise of ISIS," he continued, using an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

Response To Trump's Remarks

The statement did not cite specific comments by Trump, but it clearly was a response to a series of remarks he has made questioning the need for NATO, expressing admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling for a temporary ban on immigration by Muslims, and inviting Russia to hack Clinton's private email server - which he later said was a joke.

Many of the signatories had declined to sign an open letter disputing Trump's national security qualifications that was published in March.

The statement said many Americans are frustrated with the federal government's failure to solve domestic and international problems.

"But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election," the statement said. "We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.

Some Democratic foreign policy experts called the statement a reminder of the divisions the New York real estate developer's nomination has sown within the Republican Party.

“This letter is signed by those who remain in the internationalist wing of the party – many were former advisors to candidates who lost the primary fight to Trump," said Brian Katulis, a fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Clinton campaign adviser.

“Calling Trump unqualified to be commander in chief is tough, but also asserting that he’s lacking in character and understanding of our basic values is really pretty amazing," said Tommy Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman in Democratic President Barack Obama's administration. "That said, I think it’s unlikely to influence many voters, but it could give cover to Republican members of Congress and donors who want to cut the cord and move on from Trump.”

Article Link to Reuters:

Tuesday, August 9, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asia Shares Up As Yield Hunt Drives Record Flows, Pound Slips

By Wayne Cole
August 9, 2016

Asian shares stood atop one-year peaks on Tuesday as investors' desperate search for yield drove a record inflow into emerging market funds, while the pound slipped to one-month lows on speculation of further policy easing in the UK.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted the search for yield had led to the largest 5-week inflow on record to emerging market debt funds and the longest inflow streak to equity funds in two years.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 0.1 percent, having already risen for three sessions in a row.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 was also attempting a fourth session of gains with a tentative rise of 0.2 percent, while Shanghai stocks .SSEC were flat.

The major data out in Asia was Chinese inflation for July and it caused few ripples by coming exactly as forecast at 1.8 percent ECONCN. The benign result merely confirmed there was plenty of scope for further policy easing if needed.

The need for stimulus was clear in Chinese trade flows which disappointed in July amid slack demand both at home and abroad.

"Looking ahead, the launches of new electronic products may provide temporary support to export growth in the near term, but the overall outlook remains cloudy," wrote Jing Li, an economist at HSBC in a note.

"More importantly, weakening imports, which largely reflected the fragile nature of domestic demand, strengthens the call for more growth-supportive policies."

On Wall Street, the Dow .DJI fell 0.08 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.09 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.15 percent. Befitting the minor moves, it was one of the year's slowest sessions as a sub-average number of shares traded.

Sterling Slipping

In currencies, the dollar consolidated the moderate gains made in the wake of Friday's upbeat U.S. payrolls report.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was steady at 96.358 .DXY and up from last week's trough of 95.003. [USD/]

It edged up to 102.35 yen JPY=, and away from the recent low of 100.65, while the euro dipped to $1.1081 EUR=.

Futures markets <0> now imply around a 54 percent chance of a Federal Reserve hike in December, though it was notable that a move was not fully priced in until October next year.

That outlook is in marked contrast to much of the rest of the world where stimulus is still very much in vogue. The UK and Australia both cut rates last week and New Zealand is widely expected to ease on Thursday.

Writing in an opinion piece for the Times on Tuesday, Ian McCafferty, a member of the Bank of England's policy setting committee, predicted yet further easing might be necessary.

That nudged the pound to its lowest in a month around $1.2984 GBP= and 1.1715 sterling per euro GBPEUR=.

Oil prices were softer on Tuesday having rallied 3 percent overnight amid renewed speculation that OPEC would try to restrain output. [O/R]

U.S. crude CLc1 edged back 23 cents to $42.79 per barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1 fell 25 cents to $45.14.

Article Link to Reuters:

Oil Pares Near 3-Percent Gains Amid Oil Glut Worries

By Osamu Tsukimori 
August 9, 2016

Crude prices inched down on Tuesday in Asia, paring gains of nearly 3 percent from a day earlier, as worries over a global oil glut tempered speculation that OPEC would try to restrain output.

Qatar's Energy Minister and OPEC President Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada said on Monday the oil market is on the path to rebalancing despite the recent decline in global oil prices, adding that OPEC was in continuous talks to stabilize the market.

OPEC members are to have an informal meeting on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum, which groups producers and consumers, in Algeria from Sept. 26-28. Some OPEC officials had said a revival of talks on a global oil production freeze could be discussed at the meeting if oil prices weaken.

The upward momentum was offset by news that the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port in the United States will have an additional 2.5 million barrels in oil capacity by April 2017.

London Brent crude for October delivery was down 19 cents at $45.20 a barrel by 0033 GMT, after settling up $1.12, or 2.5 percent, on Monday.

NYMEX crude for September delivery was down 19 cents at $42.83 a barrel, after closing up $1.22, or 2.9 percent, on Monday.

Market intelligence firm Genscape reported a build of more than 307,000 barrels at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for WTI futures in the week to Aug. 5, traders said, even as analysts forecast a total U.S. crude inventory drop of 1 million barrels.

Article Link to Reuters:

Scenes From The Turkish Crackdown

By Amir Taheri
The New York Post
August 8, 2016

These days, Turkey’s parliament, the Grand National Assembly, an Italianate palace adorned with a manicured garden, looks more like a building site as workers replace shattered windows, clean debris-filled conference rooms and cover breaches caused in walls by missiles.

“In a few days all that would be a fading memory,” boasts a supervisor. “Everything will be just as before.”

Many Turks doubt it.

In material terms, the attack on the parliament building by the Turkish Air Force during last month’s abortive coup did little damage. The sloppily planned and clumsily executed scheme fizzled out within 32 hours.

Nonetheless, its ripples could go on for years, if not decades.

In the past week or so, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done even more damage to his image by lashing out wildly at everyone in his sight. The sad truth, however, is that all those interested in Turkey have no choice but to deal with Erdogan, at least for the time being.

Erdogan is certainly one of the main causes of the current crisis. In fact, in my opinion, the coup was an attempt at pre-empting a real coup that he had planned for Aug. 15 when he was to preside over a special session of the National Security Council to push through a series of power grabs disguised as “reforms.”

To start with, he wanted to end the virtual autonomy the Turkish military has always enjoyed in matters directly affecting it. The Turkish military produces large numbers of colonels who, because the slots for one-star generals is limited, often end up retiring without that first star on their shoulders. The system gives immense power and prestige to the highest echelons of the military that also enjoy the privilege of deciding military pay scales and command assignments.

Erdogan wanted, and still wants (though he may no longer be able to do it), to end all that. He also wants to fast-track his own colonels toward the coveted first star.

Anxious to demolish serious challenges to his dream of absolute power, Erdogan has also evoked a “reform” of the voting system by raising the threshold for a party’s entrance into the parliament from 10 percent to 12 or even 15 percent.

That would mean the elimination of all parliamentary opposition except for the Republican People’s Party, Turkey’s oldest party. Under the proposed quota, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party could hang on to power indefinitely.

Erdogan also wanted to “punish” the Kurds, an ethnic minority accounting for 15 percent of the population. Initially, he did some good work by removing oppressive measures against the Kurds. Now, however, he’s deeply angry with them, believing they are bent on destroying the Turkish state.

One measure introduced by Erdogan is an attempt at reviving the so-called “millat” system of the Ottomans under which inhabitants of the empire were divided into numerous religious and ethnic communities. One effect would be the dilution of the broader Kurdish identity developed over the decades.

Erdogan’s other idea, to grant citizenship to at least some of the Syrian refugees, almost all Arabs, would be to de-emphasize the Kurdish character of portions of eastern Anatolia, where ethnic Kurds form a majority.

The next adversary Erdogan wished to destroy was the Hizmet (Service) movement led by the theologian Fethullah Gülen, in exile in Pennsylvania. Much has been made in the West about the supposed theologico-ideological rift between the two, who were friends and allies until a few years ago.

However, the real fight is over sharing the enlarged Turkish economic cake.

In the first report on the Middle East by the World Bank in 1961, with an annual income per head of $219, Turkey was the richest Muslim nation after Lebanon. Today, with a GDP per head of $21,000, Turkey is the richest Muslim nation outside three small oil emirates of the Persian Gulf.

The problem is that, since 2012 at least, Erdogan has slowly shut out the Hizmet movement, which is based on a vast network of business and media interests, from juicy government contracts, favoring mostly his own cronies.

Gülen’s business network has been excluded from Erdogan’s pharaonic Greater Istanbul project, the largest real-estate venture in the world right now.

In the words of one Gülen supporter: Erdogan claims to be serving the state while he is serving the state on a platter to his business partners.

Erdogan’s friends, however, insist he holds the key to Turkey’s peace and stability. “The president is indispensable,” says Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Right now, maybe. But it’s when you think you’re indispensable that you are, in fact, most in danger of being dispensed of.

Article Link to The New York Post:

Putin Plots A New Fleet Of Spies In Space

Russia is working on new, advanced surveillance satellites. But U.S. spooks are already a step ahead.

By David Axe
The Daily Beast
August 8, 2016

The Russian military is apparently getting ready to launch a new generation of high-tech spy satellites.

It could help Moscow begin to match the as-yet-unrivaled resolution of America's own eyes in orbit. But the U.S. space force isn't standing still. While Russia races to catch up to the United States in one particular aspect of orbital reconnaissance—that is, imagery detail—the United States is plotting a sort of technological sidestep that could actually extend its lead over its rivals in space-based espionage.

Moscow reportedly plans to launch three of the new Hrazdan satellites—one each in 2019, 2022 and 2024. Essentially orbital telescopes that point down toward Earth, the Hrazdans will replace Russia's two existing Persona spy satellites.

Moscow has come to rely heavily on its military spacecraft to support long-distance deployments. Spy satellites, including the Personas, have played a central role in the Russian intervention in Syria, helping to spot targets for Russian bombers and cruise missiles.

The Hrazdans are built around huge, finely-crafted lenses. Where the Personas' feature 1.5-meter-diameter lenses, the Hrazdans' boast lenses with a diameter greater than two meters, according to Kommersant, a Russian newspaper.

The Personas maintain circular orbits around Earth at an altitude of 700 kilometers. At that altitude, the older sats' lenses afford them a 31-centimeter resolution, Ted Molczan, an independent satellite-tracker and space expert, told The Daily Beast. In other words, when a Persona takes a snapshot of the Earth's surface, each pixel in the image represents an area 31 centimeters by 31 centimeters.

At the same altitude, the Hrazdans would significantly improve on the Personas. Their resolution could go as high as 24 centimeters, according to Molczan.

“This is a significant upgrade for the Russian capabilities,” Brian Weeden, a space expert with the Secure World Foundation in Colorado, told The Daily Beast.

But while Russia focuses on improving its spy satellites' resolution, the United States is working hard to make its own spacecraft more responsive—and combining them with for-hire, commercial satellites. That's a major, major shift for the American military and intelligence communities.The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, which operates America's main spy satellites on behalf of the military and intelligence communities, can get resolutions as high as seven centimeters from its KH-11 Keyhole spy satellites, whose 2.4-meter-diameter lenses formed the basis of NASA's famous Hubble telescope.

But there's a catch. The KH-11s traditionally maintain elliptical orbits that dip as low as 260 kilometers and climb as high as 1,000 kilometers. At the highest altitude, the Keyholes' resolution degrades to 28 centimeters, Molczan said. It's only at the low point that the U.S. sats' can peer down with seven-centimeter resolution.

The elliptical orbits are no accident. They allow the satellites to modulate between viewing huge swathes of Earth at low resolution and much smaller sections of the planet at high resolution. By coordinating the orbits of the KH-11s—there are apparently four of the spy sats in operation—the NRO can maintain simultaneous wide and narrow surveillance.

But the NRO apparently has a new and, it clearly believes, better scheme in mind—one that could vastly improve America's space reconnaissance capability without simply counting on ever-larger lenses on successive generations of spy satellites.

The NRO appears to be shifting its KH-11s in lower, more circular orbits—and is set to continue this deployment pattern as new Keyholes come on line starting in 2018. “There are indications that the next-generation KH-11 may adopt a 260-kilometer-by-500-kilometer orbit, which would maintain the present seven-centimeter best resolution, but significantly improve the overall resolution around the orbit,” Molczan explained.

That would leave gaps in wide-area surveillance compared to the traditional orbital pattern. But the NRO has a plan, according to Molczan. “The task of lower-resolution, wide-area coverage would shift to commercial satellites.”

Private firms such as DigitalGlobe sell space-based imagery at resolutions as high as 30 centimeters, the current cap under U.S. law. Weeden told The Daily Beast that companies now possess the technology to collect 25-centimeter-resolution imagery, even if they can't legally sell it to private users.

DigitalGlobe's satellites orbit at 770 kilometers, near the KH-11s’ old peak. The NRO could substitute imagery from DigitalGlobe or another company for the lowest-resolution Keyhole imagery—25 to 30 centimeters—and free up the KH-11s to do what they do best—take detailed snapshots at very, very high resolution.

At the same time, the NRO is improving its satellite-communications infrastructure. Spy satellites are really just remote-controlled cameras. To make use of their imagery, analysts on the ground must download the photos.

That’s only possible when the spacecraft has a line of sight to a ground station and can beam down a digital file. Alternatively, the spy sat can beam its data to a constellation of dedicated, very-high-altitude "satellite data system" relay spacecraft that stays in constant contact with controllers on the ground.

The United States is the world leader in these SDS relay sats—and might be on the verge of pulling even farther ahead of rivals. “The U.S. appears to be investing a lot more in that than the Russians or anyone else,” Weeden commented. The NRO generally doesn't disclose the exact nature of its satellite launches, but Weeden and Molczan both said they believe the most recent NRO launch, on July 28, involved a new SDS satellite.

So yes, the Russians are reportedly getting new spy satellites. They’re apparently pretty sophisticated. But that doesn't mean the Russia is pulling ahead of the United States in the field of space reconnaissance. “From what I can tell, the U.S. still has a pretty sizable advantage at least qualitatively, if not quantitatively,” Weeden said.

Article Link To The Daily Beast:

David Cameron’s Unapologetic Return To The High Life

He lost his gamble on Brexit, and left office soon afterward. Now Britain’s former PM is rediscovering the fruits of upper-class life.

By Tom Sykes
The Daily Beast
August 8, 2016

David Cameron, the former British prime minister forced to resign after his catastrophic failure of judgment in calling a referendum on Britain exiting the EU which he then lost, has been swift to embrace the consolations of losing office.

Freed from the bounds of political necessity, Cameron has reverted to type. No longer does he have to pretend to be a ‘normal’ middle-class London dad. Instead, once again, he can embrace his wealthy upper class roots.

One immediate fringe benefit to the disaster of losing the premiership is that instead of being forced to once again go to rainy Cornwall and munch ice cream on wind-swept and sodden beaches, the Camerons are spending August in a luxury villa, costing an estimated $20,000-per week, in Corsica, surrounded by the twinkling Mediterranean instead of the stormy Atlantic. And he is sporting very expensive swimming trunks.

The family will benefit in other ways too: the prospect of London state schools for the kids is receding rapidly, and Eton is back on the cards for his eldest boy, Elwen, who turned ten in February.

Cameron adored his time at Eton, contemporaries say, and the impossibility of the PM sending his child to Eton was said to be one of his greatest regrets of taking office.

Now, he has no such political shackles to restrain him. “Boys have to be registered for Eton by the time they are ten and a half,” says a source. For Elwen, that means this month is the deadline—so Cameron’s resignation has come just in time.

And while 10 Downing Street is out, the new Cameron pad is a much nicer, £16-million mansion in Holland Park lent to them by a close pal (as their own £2m home in nearby Notting Hill is being rented out for £100,000 a year).

The friends in question, Sir Alan Parker (boss of city PR firm Brunswick) and his wife Lady Jane Parker, were ennobled by Cameron for services to business, charitable giving and philanthropy in the 2016 New Year’s Honors.

Cameron’s use of the honors system is also benefiting from his new lack of caution—there is an almighty row unfolding in the British press after it emerged he awarded his wife’s hairstylist, among others, an OBE in his resignation honors.

David Cameron himself is certainly wealthy, but not super rich. Cameron published his tax return this year, in the wake of the Panama Papers.

His tax documents reveal that he made more than £1million worth of taxable income over the past six years, including his pay as Prime Minister, rental income from his £2million home in Notting Hill, interest on his savings and dividends from his shares.

He comes from a long line of a stockbrokers (Cameron’s great grandfather, Ewen Ivan, was a senior partner of the stockbroking firm, Panmure Gordon, as was Ian’s father, Donald) and they have managed their affairs wisely and had some lucky breaks.

Ian Cameron, David’s father, a member of Whites club who died in 2010 is said to have received more than £2 million in 1986 (a considerably larger fortune today) when the Stock Exchange deregulated in the ‘big bang’.

Although the Cameron family has undoubtedly done very well for itself in their City careers, their wealth pales in comparison to that of David’s wife Samantha. She makes a good wage as a consultant to the exclusive stationery firm Smythson—she collected a £50,000 windfall when the company changed hands for £18m in 2009—but the real money is in her family, an ancient and powerful extended clan of aristocratic landowners.

Samantha’s father, Sir Reginald Sheffield, owns tens of thousands of prime agricultural land near Scunthorpe, and is conservatively estimated to be worth at least £20 million.

Sir Reginald divides his time between Scunthorpe’s Thealby Hall and Sutton Park near York.

Even Sir Reggie’s riches, however, are trifling compared to the fortune controlled by her stepfather, William, the fourth Viscount Astor, whom her mother married in 1976 after divorcing Sheffield.

Astor’s family trust controls property holdings valued at an eye-watering £210 million. Another benefit of losing office is that Cameron, freed from the need to project an image of personal austerity, will once again be able to visit Astor’s 20,000-acre estate on the Scottish island of Jura, home of what guests say is the UK’s best private stag shoot (Cameron is said to be an excellent shot).

Losing the premiership as a result of the Brexit referendum was a disastrous end to Cameron’s otherwise charmed political career—but, as he relaxes beside the pool in Corsica, he (and his wife) will no doubt be cognizant of the fact that there are considerable consolations to a lower public profile.

A return to the millionaire-y life to which the Camerons were for so many years accustomed should help to soften the blow.

Article Link To The Daily Beast:

More Records Fall As Phelps Collects 19th Gold

By Mark Trevelyan and Alan Baldwin
August 8, 2016

Michael Phelps picked up his 19th gold medal on a second night of world records in the Olympic pool, with Katie Ledecky cruising to women's 400 meters freestyle victory and Britain's Adam Peaty running away with the men's 100 breaststroke.

Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom extended Saturday's record spree in winning the 100 meters butterfly, and Peaty and Ledecky followed suit in the next two finals before the U.S. men's team, with Phelps swimming second, took the 4x100 freestyle relay.

Six swimming world records have now fallen in two days of competition, and the United States moved level with Australia on two gold medals each.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, now has 19 golds, two silvers and two bronzes. For his relay team mates Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held, it was their first Olympic medal.

London Olympics 100 freestyle champion Nathan Adrian swam the final leg for the Americans, touching first ahead of France and Australia.

"On the block I thought my heart was going to explode, I was so hyped, so excited," said Phelps, competing in his fifth Olympics.

Ledecky, the rising U.S. swimming sensation, shaved 1.91 seconds off her own world record on the way to the 400m gold, the first stage of a rare treble she hopes to complete along with the 200m and 800m.

"It's pure happiness," the 19-year-old told reporters.

"I wanted the first 200 to hurt as little as possible and I really felt like I could build into it and really explode that last 50," she added after leading the race from start to finish.

"Where Is Everybody?"

Britain's Peaty set his second world record in consecutive days, and seemed surprised by the margin of his victory - 1.56 seconds - over defending champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa.

"I touched the wall and looked around and thought 'where is everybody?' Peaty told reporters.

The last British man to win an Olympic swimming gold was Adrian Moorhouse in the same event in 1988, six years before Peaty was born. On a big night for the British team, Jazz Carlin won a silver medal behind Ledecky.

In the butterfly, Sjostrom became the first Swedish woman to win an Olympic gold medal, with Canada's 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak taking silver. American Dana Vollmer, the 2012 champion, clinched bronze.

"The feeling is totally crazy. I didn't realize it was a world record," Sjostrom said.

"I knew I was the big favorite. I was under pressure, so I tried to focus on no disasters. Before the start I said to myself: 'It's just a pool. It's nothing. I know what to do.'"

In a reminder of the doping controversies that dogged the build-up to the Olympics, there were loud boos for Russian breaststroker Yulia Efimova and the men's relay team.

Efimova, who has served two doping suspensions, succeeded in an appeal last week against being banned from Rio.

She was one of a number of Russians who argued successfully that excluding them from the Olympics would be punishing them again for the same offense.

She qualified second for Monday's 100 breaststroke final, 0.02 seconds behind Lilly King of the United States.

Article Link to Reuters:

Here’s How A U.S.-China War Could Play Out

By Peter Apps
August 8, 2016

For all the focus on terrorism, one of the most striking features of the last decade is that the risk of war between the world’s major countries has returned. For the first time since the fall of the Berlin wall, military thinkers in the United States, Europe and Asia are putting serious thought into what such a conflict might look like.

For a world with no shortage of nuclear weapons, that’s alarming. As I wrote last month, there is now not just a credible – if still limited – risk of conflict between Russia and NATO states, but also a real risk any such war would go nuclear.

Last week, U.S.-based think tank RAND Corporation – which also studied the prospects of war in the NATO member Baltic states – unveiled its latest thinking on what a potential clash between the United States and China would look like. The report is not direct U.S. government policy – although RAND has long been regarded as a major generator of thought for the U.S. military – but it does push the envelope further than much that has gone before.

The report stresses that while premeditated war between Washington and Beijing ”is very unlikely,” the mishandling of disputes like the multiple territorial confrontations between China and U.S. allies such as Japan and the Philippines are a “danger” that “cannot be ignored.”

RAND examined two different scenarios, one for an inadvertent conflict taking place in the present day and one in 10 years from now, assuming Beijing’s military and economic buildup continues at roughly its current rate. China will substantially close its military gap with the United States over the next decade, it predicts – but the fundamental dynamics of how things will play out might not be hugely different.

Even now, the People’s Liberation Army is seen as having the ability to give a bloodied nose to U.S. forces in the region. Washington could expect to lose an aircraft carrier and multiple other surface warships in the opening stages, RAND warns, citing Chinese advances in ballistic and guided missiles as well as submarines.

The report does not estimate the number of human casualties, but they could be substantial. The loss of an aircraft carrier or several major surface warships could easily cost thousands of lives in an instant.

At the same time, it’s also generally assumed that both Beijing and Washington would have considerable success with cyber attacks.

As another recent report points out, China’s effectiveness would difficult to gauge – not least because it has not participated in a major conflict since invading Vietnam in 1979.

The real decision for Washington would be how much military force to commit to the Asia Pacific theater. Other threats and responsibilities would not have gone away – the Middle East would almost certainly still be a mess and the risk of Russian action in Europe might actually be heightened. Still, the United States would have considerable reserves of aircraft and ships in reserve.

Whether a conflict only endured days or weeks or dragged on for a year or more, Washington would almost certainly retain the ability to strike widely at Chinese targets across the battle space – including, in at least a limited way, into mainland China. Over time, Beijing could face the destruction of most, if not all, of its major surface naval forces. Its relatively primitive submarines would also likely be fairly easy picking, RAND predicts, although that will probably be less true by 2025.

The real battle of attrition, however, would be economic – as it almost always is when great powers confront each other. On that front, the consequences for China could be devastating.

Washington and Beijing are each other’s most significant trading partners. The report estimates that 90 percent of that bilateral trade would cease if the two were in direct military confrontation for a year. That would hurt both sides, but the United States could likely continue trade with much of the rest of the world while almost all imports and exports to China would have to pass by sea through a war zone.

Perhaps most importantly, China might find itself cut off from vital external energy sources while Washington’s energy supply chain would be far less affected.

While RAND estimates a year-long Asian war would take 5-10 percent off U.S. gross domestic product, it believes China’s economy could shrink by up to 25 percent.

These are good reasons why war should never happen. Even if miscalculations pushed both countries to the brink, it’s all but impossible to make a logical argument for either side to push things over the edge. The danger, therefore, would seem to be primarily ill-conceived actions that might cause a World War One-style escalation.

In the case of the United States and China, RAND’s analysts say they believe nuclear escalation would likely be avoided even if both sides fought prolonged naval and air battles. That’s a major departure in Western military thinking from the days of the Cold War, when nuclear escalation was seen an almost inevitable consequence of any direct conventional clash.

Whether that’s certain is a different question. Wars tend to develop their own horrific internal logic and momentum, and the temptation to move to more powerful weapons is ever present.

For now, there’s no evidence that Beijing has adopted Moscow’s thinking on “de-escalatory nuclear strikes,” using a single nuclear warhead in an attempt to shock a Western adversary into standing down and ending the conflict. But it’s possible to imagine that happening.

It’s becoming increasingly important to consider scenarios like these. It we don’t, the unthinkable might quietly – or worse still-- suddenly and brutally become reality.

Article Link to Reuters:

Monday, August 8, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asian Stocks Jump To One-Year Highs As Yield Hunt Spreads

By Saikat Chatterjee
August 8, 2016

Asian stocks rose to one-year highs and the Australian dollar climbed on Monday as investors' hunt for yield gathered momentum against a backdrop of a recovering U.S. economy and ultra-easy easy global monetary policy conditions.

While the strong July U.S. payrolls data raised hopes the world's biggest economy may have conclusively turned a corner after some volatile readings this year, markets expect the Federal Reserve will only hike in 2017 given that other countries are still cutting rates.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.7 percent and hit its highest level since August 11 last year. It is up 12 percent in six weeks.

"The general sentiment among investors in emerging markets is to make hay while the sun shines even though this rally is starting to look a bit dangerous," said Cliff Tan, East Asian head of global markets research at Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi UFJ based in Hong Kong referring to stretched valuations.

Japan .N225 and Australian markets led regional gainers while mainland China shares.SSEC lagged, weighed down by disappointing Chinese trade data.

The U.S. Department of Labor said July nonfarm payrolls rose by 255,000 and revised the June increase upward to 292,000.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast July payrolls would increase by 180,000.

Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, said equities reacted positively to the jobs report which shed a positive light on the U.S. economy while prospects of a near-term rate hike by the Federal Reserve - generally seen as a negative for riskier assets - remained subdued.

"The Fed funds rate futures are still only pricing in about a 26 percent chance a U.S. rate hike in September and October, and about a 46 percent chance for December. This shows investors don't really expect the Fed to hike rates until December," Fujito said.

The strong U.S. jobs report was a rare bright spot of data in the global economic landscape, with Australia's central bank and the Bank of England cutting interest rates last week and New Zealand set to follow in coming days.

Along with a presidential election campaign, the global easing by central banks will cap the ability of the Fed to move on interest rates in the coming months, said Rick Rieder, chief investment officer of global fixed income at Blackrock.

The hunt for yield saw safe-haven government debt prices taking it on the chin. Ten-year Japanese bond futures tanked and even 10-year Australian bond yields AU10YT=RR, a target for yield-happy investors, firmed to 1.97 percent.

In currency markets, the dollar was up 0.3 percent at 102.04 yen JPY=. It was steady against the euro at $1.10925 EUR=.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, softened to 96.169 .DXY, not far from a one-week high of 96.522 hit on Friday after the jobs report.

While major currencies are expected to stick to recent ranges, market participants say thin market conditions could amplify moves, and higher U.S. rates were far from guaranteed.

Despite a cut in interest rates last week, the Aussie was among best performing currency in Asia as its relatively higher interest rate offer and AAA credit ratings strengthened its appeal. It was up 0.01 percent at 0.7613.

In commodities, spot gold XAU= was up 0.16 percent to $1,337.02 an ounce, a low not seen since July 29.

Crude oil futures, which ended modestly lower on Friday, rose on Monday. U.S. crude CLc1 added 0.48 percent to $42 a barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1 was up 0.45 percent at $44.47.

Article Link to Reuters:

Disappointing China July Imports Suggest Cooling Domestic Demand

By Elias Glenn and Yawen Chen
August 8, 2016

China's exports and imports fell more than expected in July in a rocky start to the third quarter, pointing to further weakness in global demand in the aftermath of Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

Imports fell 12.5 percent from a year earlier, the biggest decline since February and suggesting China's domestic demand may be faltering despite a flurry of measures to stimulate economic growth.

"I think (the drop in imports) is mainly from the demand side," said Ma Xiaoping, an economist at HSBC in Beijing.

Government efforts to cut overcapacity could produce an even bigger hit to demand in the next few quarters, Ma added.

Exports fell 4.4 percent on-year, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday, while adding that it expects pressure on shipments likely will start to ease in October.

That resulted in a trade surplus of $52.31 billion in July, the biggest since January, versus June's $48.11 billion.

China's imports have now declined for 21 straight months, while exports have fallen for 12 of 13 months, helping to drag economic growth to its slowest in a quarter of a century.

"Signs of stronger manufacturing activity among many of China's key trading partners has so far failed to lift export growth," Capital Economics' China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a note. "The country's export growth is likely to remain subdued for some time."

Economists polled by Reuters had expected trade to remain weak but show some signs of moderating as factories gear up for orders heading into the peak year-end shopping season.

July exports had been expected to fall 3.0 percent, compared with a 4.8 percent decline in June, while imports were seen falling 7.0 percent, following June's drop of 8.4 percent.

China's exports underwhelmed despite still-strong shipments of steel and oil products, with the latter hitting a record. China has come under fire from trading partners accusing it of dumping its excess industrial capacity in global markets.

Exports to the United States – China's top market – fell 2.0 percent in July, while shipments to the European Union – its second biggest market - fell 3.2 percent.

While the decline in shipments to the EU actually moderated slightly from June, economists at ANZ expect Brexit will weigh further on China's exports to Europe in coming months.

Meanwhile, China's imports from the U.S. fell 23.2 percent in July from a year ago, versus a 12.7 percent decline in June.

A more than 6 percent slide in the yuan against the dollar over the past year appears to have done little to help China's exporters in the face of stubbornly soft global demand and weak commodity prices.

For the January to July period, China's exports fell 7.4 percent, while imports fell 10.5 percent, roughly on pace with last year's 8 percent decline.

China's economy grew 6.7 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, beating expectations, as a government infrastructure spree and housing boom boosted construction activity and demand for materials from cement and glass to steel.

Iron ore imports rose 8.1 percent by volume in the first seven months of the year, but factory activity surveys last week showed domestic and export orders cooled in July, while heavy flooding in some areas disrupted business.

While there have been mixed signals on whether China is ready to cut interest rates or banks' reserve requirements again this year, most analysts agree the focus should be on structural reforms.

"In the short term I think a lot of changes would depend on the government's structural reform of state-owned companies," said HSBC's Ma.

Article Link to Reuters:

Oil Rises On New Output Freeze Calls, But Traders Bet On Further Falls

By Henning Gloystein
August 8, 2016

Oil prices rose on Monday, lifted by reports of renewed talks by some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to restrain output.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $41.99 per barrel at 0643 GMT (2:43 a.m. ET), up 19 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last close.

Brent futures LCOc1 were trading at $44.42 per barrel, up 15 cents, or 0.34 percent.

The price rise came on the back of renewed calls by some OPEC members to freeze production in a bid to rein in output that has been consistently outpacing demand, a demand that non-OPEC oil producing giant Russia was quick to dismiss.

"OPEC members including Venezuela, Ecuador and Kuwait are said to be behind this latest reincarnation. But just like previous endeavors, it seems doomed to fail," said Matt Smith of ClipperData.

Yet in the absence of an agreement, the crude and refined product glut is still weighing on markets.

In China, July fuel exports rose over 50 percent from a year ago to a monthly record 4.57 million tonnes, official data showed on Monday, as easing demand growth and a surplus in refined oil products pushed refiners to increase shipments to overseas buyers.

Because of the fuel glut, money managers have positioned themselves in expectation of lower prices, raising the amount of short positions in WTI futures that would profit from lower prices to a new all-time record. 

"In response to the negative market sentiment, parties such as hedge funds are once again taking speculative positions on further oil price declines," Dutch bank ABN Amro said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the amount of oil rigs drilling in the United States rose to 381, the highest amount since March.

On the demand side, AB Bernstein said that strong recent oil demand growth was set to weaken.

"In July following the UK Brexit vote, the IMF downgraded global growth by 10 basis points in 2016 and 20 in 2017. This has negative implications for demand," the analysts said, adding that oil demand growth would slow to around 1.1 percent in the second half of 2016 and to below 1 percent next year.

Such a slowdown would likely weigh on prices: "If record to near-record demand this summer for gasoline and crude oil failed to eat into the supply glut, then what happens to the glut once demand drops off this fall by around 1 million barrels per day?" asked the U.S.-based Schork Report in a note, adding it was bearish in its oil price outlook.

Article Link to Reuters:

Why China Can't Solve Its Debt Problem

By Christopher Balding
The Bloomberg View
August 8, 2016

For a long time, there was a recurring stereotype about China's economy: If growth started to slow significantly, the argument went, prudent technocrats in Beijing could always prop it up with fiscal stimulus and keep the country's financial institutions afloat. Combined with optimistic official data about deficits, this argument sounded reassuring for a while.

Yet now reality is intervening harshly. China's public finances are in worse shape than is commonly understood. And as debt levels rise and the economy remains sluggish, the government's ability to boost growth looks increasingly precarious. Without reform, that will have some grim consequences.

According to the International Monetary Fund, China is expected to run a moderate budget deficit of 3 percent of gross domestic product this year, with a manageable debt load equal to 46.8 percent of the economy, ranking it 100th out of 184 countries. On the surface, then, it appears well placed to manage any slowdown.

But there's more here than meets the eye. The headline number used by the IMF covers only central government debt, not that of provinces and municipalities. Since more than 80 percent of public spending in China comes from local governments, that's an important omission. Assume those governments incurred the statutory maximum debt load last year -- in total, 16 trillion yuan -- and you double total public borrowing, raising it by 47 percent of GDP.

Yet even that assumption is generous. An examination by China's National Audit Office in 2013 found debt outstanding of 18 trillion yuan. In other words, debt already exceeded the 2015 statutory limit three years ago. And since then, local finances have only worsened. The IMF last year estimated a total fiscal deficit of 10 percent of GDP. Goldman Sachs recently put it at about 15 percent. Those are enormous figures: They suggest a total deficit level on par with the U.S. during the 2008 financial crisis -- perhaps worse.

And yet they still obscure the true amount. Local governments trying to evade debt limits often guarantee off-balance-sheet loans (explicitly or otherwise) and create state-owned enterprises to pursue projects on their behalf. Last year, their liabilities grew so egregious that Beijing had to engineer a bailout by mandating a debt swap with state-owned banks.

Furthermore, investors and ratings firms struggle to draw a clear distinction between government debt and private debt. It's widely assumed in China that the government stands behind most debt owed by state-owned companies to strategic enterprises or other favored firms. And investors have tended to believe that the government will back most every major company or project.

So far, they've been right: Despite rising defaults, the government hasn't allowed any major firm to collapse for fear of triggering a crisis. Yet stresses are rising in China's banking system, and with public debt a more serious problem than official figures let on -- and still rising -- the government is increasingly constrained.

There are a number of steps Beijing could take to address this mess. Deleveraging should be first. Restrictions on what local governments can borrow simply encourage new and creative ways to hide their debt, which actually makes them more difficult to rein in. More effective -- if less politically appealing -- would be allowing zombie firms to collapse, slowing the rate of investment and accepting slower GDP growth.

Instead, Beijing seems to be praying to the Keynesian multiplier, hoping that with yet more stimulus it can grow its way out of its problems, much as it did a decade ago. But the post-2000 period was a unique one, as China joined the World Trade Organization, global growth pushed up export receipts and budgets magically righted themselves. The government must accept that history is unlikely to repeat itself.

If it doesn't, mounting bad debts, double-digit deficits and a rickety financial system are going to make for an increasingly volatile combination. Bearish investors predicting large-scale devaluations and bank crises understand the risks that have historically accompanied such profligacy. If China's credit can't expand forever, it must stop -- either by choice or by force.

Article Link to The Bloomberg View:

Cops Alone Can't Stop Terrorism

By Therese Raphael
The Bloomberg View
August 8, 2016

Statistically, the odds of being caught up in a terrorist attack in Europe are still vanishingly small. But the Bastille Day killings in Nice, the attack in Ansbach, and the brutal slaying of an elderly French priest in his church near Rouen have punctured any remaining sense that the threat from terrorism is remote or receding. Saturday's machete attack on two female police officers in Charleroi, Belgium only adds to that sense of vulnerability.

London's police chief, Bernard Hogan-Howe, wrote in a blog post last week that an attack in Britain is a question of "when not if." So far, the response seems to be to throw a staggering amount of armor at the problem.

Last week saw a new 600-man counter-terrorist police force introduced to the streets of London. From their gray Kevlar body armor to their high-speed BMW motorbikes, London's new police are a long way from the traditional gunless British bobbies: Their arsenal includes a Glock 17 pistol and a Sig Sauer MCX carbine gun. Trained to operate on water and abseil down buildings, they are equipped with battering rams and special ballistic shields.

Britain isn't the only country arming itself to the teeth to fight the terrorist threat. In Germany, the government has ended a national taboo that dates to World War II by ordering soldiers to prepare to join counter-terrorist efforts, while France is quickly becoming the kind of police state Donald Trump can only dream of. From the beaches of St. Tropez to London's shop-lined Oxford Street, combat boots and assault rifles are mixing in with flip-flops and beach bags.

All of this armament is understandable. But there is another approach that deserves more attention too.

Programs to detect and prevent radicalization work further upstream. Hundreds of such efforts are now in progress in cities all over the world, deploying a wide range of tools and strategies. They will increasingly be required to counter what French philosopher Bernard Henry Levi recently called "the uberization of opportunistic mass terrorism."

If policing is about finding a needle in a haystack, these efforts are all about the haystack. "We tend to think that this is such a unique, new and exotic challenge and in some ways it is -- the ideological component especially -- but actually what a lot of people at the municipal level say is that this is another social challenge that can be mainstreamed into our social work and our work with young people," says Jonathan Birdwell, head of policy and research at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Such programs have been around for years. They vary in scale, approach and even how they define the problem, and so it has been difficult to get a handle on what works and doesn't. That is starting to change.

In May, more than 200 delegates met in Antalya, Turkey, as part of the Strong Cities Network, which connects local officials fighting violence and provides a database of programs and best practices. This includes information on city-wide approaches such as Rotterdam’s Anti-Radicalisation Approach or the Montgomery County Model, but also training resources for initiatives such as Montreal’s Center for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence and resources for front line practitioners such as the UK’s Prevent Training Catalogue.

Inspiration and guidance sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of places. Dr. Seiny Boiukar Lamine, the mayor of Kolofata, in northern Cameroon, spent 50 days in captivity after being abducted by Boko Haram. He escaped and devoted himself to helping his community build defenses against the group, setting up "vigilance committees" in towns and villages, establishing links between local committees and government forces and seeking international support.

In the Colombian city of Medellin, once known as the world's most dangerous city, local authorities reduced the homicide rate by 90 percent -- also through creative community engagement and in part by building libraries and transport links and tackling poverty and isolation in areas where the drug cartels had found easy pickings.

The idea that Cameroon and Medellin have something to teach Colorado and Manchester may seem a stretch, but those working in counter-extremism say there are some broad lessons to be applied.

First, city-led programs are often better than nationally led ones. "If there's anything we learned," says Strong Cities Network manager Rebecca Skellett, "it's that initiative is about being locally designed, locally owned and locally led."

While Britain's much-criticized Prevent program was ahead of the curve in some ways, it discouraged local innovation. It also blurred the line between security intervention and community engagement, leading to criticism that it was discriminatory and counter-productive.

That speaks to the second lesson: "Soft state" functions should as much as possible be separate from security services. "If you are trying to build the trust of the community and running programs with young people as a way of giving them something positive to do and a safe place to talk about these issues, you don't want one of the facilitators to be MI5," Birdwell says, referring to Britain's internal security services.

In a recent survey of youth activists involved in countering extremist messages, less than half thought that law enforcement should be included. While many of those targeted by these programs have little confidence in local or national government, engaging in the community through sports, cultural events, educational programs and peer-to-peer groups is seen as highly effective.

A third lesson is the importance of a multi-agency approach, involving community leaders, schools, religious leaders and nongovernmental organizations. The pioneer in this has been Denmark, which has produced more foreign fighters per capita than any other European country except Belgium. The so-called Aarhus model, named after its second city, engaged community police, social services, youth workers, therapists, and, crucially, returning fighters and former radicals who became trained mentors, to dramatically reduce the number of foreign fighters and extremists. The approach has also been adopted in the capital, Copenhagen.

"To me, it is not a question of emphasizing either policing and intelligence or the local or municipal effort. It is about mutually reinforcing the two where it makes sense," Frank Jenson, the lord mayor of Copenhagen, told me in an e-mail.

A fourth lesson is the importance of social media in disseminating counter-narratives, something most Western governments do poorly if at all. Islamic State is a multi-channel social media powerhouse; Western governments are nowhere in their response.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue just published results of a year-long pilot study on the impact of counter-narratives. Researchers tracked the impact of 15 videos by three nongovernmental organizations -- in Somalia, the U.S. and Pakistan -- to discourage engagement with violent or extremist groups. The content, approach and target audiences varied, but the slick counter-narrative videos proved powerful, receiving over 378,000 video views and 20,000 total engagements. A handful of respondents in the study asked for help to leave their extremist group.

These programs have a long way to go and remain underfunded. The most comprehensive counter-extremism programs seek not only to prevent radicalization, but also to reintegrate radicalized individuals with exit programs, especially important as increasing numbers of younger offenders are spending time in prison. Cities should never underestimate the power of mentors and former jihadis in getting the message across to young people, as programs in Denmark, Britain have shown.

Article Link To The Bloomberg View:

What Trump Will Cost His Supporters

By Noah Rothman
August 8, 2016

From the beginning of his candidacy, Donald Trump’s appeal was in his ability to communicate a critique. It was a criticism of elites, of political parties, of globalization, of imprecise language, and of racial and cultural norms. Trump’s style and methods were, as much as his policy prescriptions, a fundamental departure from traditional American office seekers. If he were to ascend to the presidency, it would mark the beginning of a new era in American politics. But seeking the presidency is a high-stakes game, and there are consequences for misjudging the moment. Just as Trump’s victory would have reshaped the political landscape in their favor, his loss will be equally hard felt by those who put their faith in him.

It is not hard to see precisely what Trump’s appeal is to his core supporters. The real estate mogul has promised his often overlooked voters that their economic woes are the result of global forces that can be reversed. He has pledged to take a harder-line stance on immigration than any Republican—an issue that has both political and cultural resonance. Trump has unashamedly thrown off the shackles of political correctness that prevent honest dialogue and serve too often as a blunt instrument by which liberal elites shame conservatives into silence. He has gravely wounded the bloated political consultancy by ascending to lead a major party without an expensive, top-heavy infrastructure. To the American populist, Trump has told the right people he doesn’t need them.

It’s a powerful message, but it’s being delivered by an awful messenger. As the convention season has ended and the general electorate tuned into this race, Trump’s support in the polls has reverted to roughly where it was in early May. In some recent surveys, Clinton is out-performing Barack Obama among minorities while also building on his strengths among white voters. If they held in November, Clinton’s advantages today would produce a bigger and broader victory than that which Democrats enjoyed in 2008. There are still three months left in which Trump can turn this around, but there are no more free throws. If Trump is to have a “moment,” he will have to make it happen for himself. That will require a level of discipline he does not possess.

If Trump loses to Clinton in November by the margins in today’s polls, his candidacy will have served to ratify all the aspects of the status quo his supporters loathe.

Trump boldly cast aside the Republican Party’s 2012 postmortem, which focused on rebuilding the party’s appeal among minorities, women, and student-age voters. Instead, he sought to build a coalition that doubled down on the party’s traditional strength among suburban and exurban white voters. But he has alienated as many whites as he has won. Trump’s prohibitive strength among white working-class voters came at the cost of whites with college degrees—a subset of the electorate Democrats appear set to win for the first time in 60 years. A deep national loss will confirm to Trump skeptics that the voters to whom Trump appealed can be safely ignored. Indeed, to cater to their appetites is to imperil the majority coalition that all presidential aspirants are obsessed with building. Trump’s core constituency will be rendered politically radioactive.

One of those appetites that have resulted in a Manhattanite multi-millionaire playboy becoming an unlikely working-class hero is his penchant for blunt talk. Republicans of a species that predates Trump have long lamented a liberal culture that conflates cultural sensitivity with inaccuracy. They were and remain frustrated by the idea that calling radical Islamic terrorism by its name somehow legitimizes terrorists. When a suspect’s race is conspicuously omitted from a report in the local crime blotter even if that hinders an investigation, they know what is to blame. They resent an ethos that insists gender is fluid while race is absolute when it is obvious to them that the opposite is true. There is something to be said for all of this, but the way in which Donald Trump has said it is counter-productive in the extreme. He has incautiously flirted with overt racists and anti-Semites, bigots and misogynists. He has been unclear about where he stands on the KKK and provides self-described “white nationalists” with comfort and authority. “PC culture” will not merely survive the Trump campaign but be confirmed as a necessary check on conduct reinforcing important taboos on overt racism.

And let’s not forget the political class, which is right now salivating over the prospect of its rebirth in the second Clinton administration. Remember how Mitt Romney was ruthlessly mocked for having a campaign apparatus in which it required 22 people to craft, inspect, and approve a single tweet from the candidate? In the post-Trump era, that will seem downright reckless. The Trump campaign that eschewed staffing, fundraising, advertising, polling, data analytics, and micro-targeting (to say nothing of the paid staff and infrastructure that makes up a traditional ground game) will become a cautionary tale. 2016 will be the control experiment demonstrating precisely why a national campaign cannot function without a billion dollar budget and an army of consultants who understand the craft of winning elections. Those who lent credence to the fantasy that celebrity and name-recognition were all that were required to win a national race will find themselves discredited. And rightly so.

Donald Trump promised his supporters all or nothing, and it appears likely that he’ll deliver. Those who saw him as a vehicle who could address their anxieties and punish their enemies were misled. Even if Trump manages not to lose in a landslide, there will be no clear lessons in his ascension. If a sweeping loss is in the offing, the effect of Donald Trump’s candidacy will be to consign his supporters and causes to history’s ash heap. That’s in many ways tragic, but it was also predictable.

Article Link To Commentary:

The High Costs And Limited Benefits Of America’s Alliances

At at least $100 billion a year, and with all kinds of risks attached, they're a bad deal.

By Barry R. Posen
The National Interest
August 8, 2016

The United States stands at the center of a far flung global alliance system, which commits it to defend the security of countries rich and poor, great and small, liberal and illiberal. The principal U.S. formal alliances are the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S.-Japan security treaty, the Republic of Korea Treaty, and the Australia-New Zealand (ANZUS) treaty. The United States has less formal relationships with Israel and several Arab states, and many others around the world. The foreign-policy establishment insists that all of these alliances are central to our security. The reasons offered since the end of the Cold War to support this judgment are seldom clear, and the costs are always buried, if acknowledged at all.

The value of U.S. alliances should be judged on their contribution to U.S. security--the ability to defend the safety, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the United States. The combination of the inherent strengths of the U.S. economy, the nature of modern military technology--both nuclear and conventional, along with the American military's mastery of those technologies--and two vast ocean barriers, make it either unbelievably foolhardy or hugely difficult for others to constitute a major threat to the U.S. homeland. Given the relative ease of ensuring U.S. security without extensive help from others, it is a challenge to show that the security value of these alliances exceeds the costs and risks incurred for them. In no case do current allies directly "defend" the United States, though some do occupy important strategic geography, which contributes to our military power. At best, our allies defend themselves with vast assistance from the United States. What does this assistance cost?


The United States bears four principal costs for these alliances: 1) the direct military costs; 2) the costs of wars waged mainly for the purpose of reassuring these allies; 3) the nuclear risks necessary to "extend" nuclear deterrence to these allies and 4) the "moral hazard" consequences of security guarantees, which have the perverse effect of driving down the defense efforts of allies and further driving up U.S. military costs.

Supporters of the present alliance system routinely minimize its military costs. The Department of Defense's accounting systems make the calculation of such costs difficult. One cannot find a clear official statement that apportions the DOD budget to Europe, the MIddle East, and Asia. If a lay person attempts such a calculation, they will be brought up short by the defining characteristic of U.S. post-Cold War force structure: the U.S. military is essentially a global strategic reserve that can concentrate in defense of whichever ally is most in need of assistance. Small numbers of U.S. troops live abroad in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and these small numbers make the effort look tiny. We must therefore try to estimate the cost of the U.S. grand strategy that commits the country to defend all these places. I have argued that if the United States were more judicious in its promises abroad, perhaps a fifth of the defense budget could be cut (excluding the costs of actual wars), amounting to roughly one hundred billion dollars per year at current prices. This is a nontrivial sum with major opportunity costs: it could reduce the deficit; repair the country's crumbling infrastructure; retrain American workers to compete more effectively in the global economy, or simply be returned to the taxpayer. Instead it subsidizes the defense of prosperous allies, providing welfare for the rich.

The "credibility" wars that the U.S. fights, or threatens are another cost of the alliance system. The Balkan Wars of the 1990s fall into this category. So far, the post-Cold War world has not seen very expensive wars of this kind, but there was nothing about the Balkan wars that threatened the United States. Currently, members of the foreign-policy establishment argue that the United States should be assisting Ukraine in its fight with Russia and subverting the brutal Assad regime, in part to convince others of U.S. credibility. Once committed to defend allies everywhere, a state becomes obsessed with its political and military prestige, and vulnerable to the claim that "small" wars must be fought in the hope of deterring large ones. This is especially true when the actual strategic value of these allies is modest.

A third cost of these alliances is the commitment to nuclear war that they embody. We understood this during the Cold War, but no one discusses this anymore. Europe's principal potential challenger is Russia; Japan's is China; South Korea's is North Korea. To defend these regions or countries from their most plausible challengers, and to deter attack, the United States must convince those challengers that it would, if pressed, wage nuclear war on their behalf. (The difficulty of making its nuclear-escalation commitments plausible further tempts America to fight 'small' wars to build credibility.) Are these nuclear commitments strategically necessary? During the Cold War, at the margin, one could make the argument that they were. We did not want to see what the Soviet Union might extract from rich European states or Japan by way of extra resources, if it could cow or conquer them, and convert their economic assets into military power. Today, however, it is hard to argue that any of the challengers that these countries face today are capable of conquering these allies, or coercing them into making great contributions to the challenger's military war chest. The United States assumes nuclear risks in the absence of a clear case for doing so. To offer an extreme example, the Baltic states are members of NATO. The United States is committed to their defense if they are challenged by Russia. These states cannot defend themselves conventionally, and because of the peculiarities of their geography, neither can the United States (This was seldom discussed when these states were brought into NATO in the George W. Bush administration.) I believe that a full fledged Russian challenge over the Baltics is unlikely, but were it to occur the United States could face the alternative of a potentially irreversible military defeat or a dramatic and dangerous nuclear crisis.

Finally, these alliance commitments create a special kind of "moral hazard." The extravagant insurance that we offer these countries encourages them to engage in risky behavior. For the Europeans and Japanese, this consists of buying too little military insurance for themselves. Their defense budgets are too small even to sustain their present force structures. U.S. defense secretaries from both parties dutifully chide allies for their shortfalls and then go on to ignore them as we move to provide more security welfare. In NATO, for example, all but four of the allies fail to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, an alliance commitment, while the United States spends 3 percent excluding war costs. (Germany, the fourth-most-productive economy in the world and the NATO ally best placed to assist the Baltic states, spends barely 1.2 percent.) Yet in the face of European concerns about Russian adventurism, the United States has rushed into the breach with five billion dollars of additional spending on European security over the last three fiscal years, which the Pentagon smuggled into the budget for Overseas Contingency Operations, whose purpose is to pay for actual unexpected war costs, and which therefore escapes the scrutiny of normal budget politics.


I have talked at length about costs. What about benefits? As noted above, during the Cold War the United States defended these places to keep them from being absorbed into the Soviet Empire and potentially contributing to its already significant power. Russia is a shadow of the Soviet Union, if Putin wanted to conquer Europe, Russia would need a much bigger and much better military than it has now, even if the United States were not present. Germany and France have the power potential to counter Russia easily, if they were concerned, which apparently they are not. Together, their two economies are more than four times as large as that of Russia. The strategic benefits to the United States of its NATO commitments are thus slim.

The U.S. commitment to security in Asia makes a bit more strategic sense, but even there the United States is overdoing it. To the naked eye, Japan would be a rich prize for an expansionist China. But, China's already large economy continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than the last two decades, whereas Japan's seems destined to contract for demographic reasons. China thus has little incentive to expand by conquest because its relative power will rise without the risks and costs of war. China's Pacific neighbors, including Japan, have some defensive advantages of their own. The moats that separate them from China are narrower than ours, but they still can use those moats to help defend themselves. The same “anti-access area denial” (A2AD) military technologies that China employs to make it difficult for U.S. forces to enter the East and South China Seas in wartime can be employed by China’s island neighbors to make it equally difficult for Chinese forces to mount amphibious assaults across those moats. And since the U.S. Navy retains command of the open oceans, China could not blockade and strangle her island neighbors either. More problematic would be Chinese nuclear coercion, but this sort of blackmail has rarely, if ever, succeeded. And for the moment China does not seem to view its surprisingly small nuclear force as a tool of expansion. If China were to go down this road, Japan and South Korea could become nuclear-weapons states quite easily. Ironically, China seems to count on the United States to keep these states nuclear-free, even as China's behavior becomes more belligerent. Perhaps it would be better if China were a bit less confident of the U.S. restraining hand. All this said, U.S. alliances in Asia do make more strategic sense than does NATO because China is a growing power, in contrast to Russia. And however improbable, Chinese domination of the mostly weak island nations on its periphery would facilitate an ultimate challenge to U.S. command of the sea, a strategic advantage the U.S should strive to protect.

Because the geostrategic arguments for the U.S. alliance system are tenuous, they are seldom made. Instead, we are treated to tales of Russian and Chinese threats to the "rule based international order." This "order" is simply the military alliance and trading system that the United States built to wage the Cold War, and which the foreign-policy establishment assumed upon the end of that great struggle would naturally grow to encompass all the other countries of the world. Russia and China want to have exchange relationships with this order; they don't want to be in it; and they don't like its relentless expansion to their borders, which is how Russia in particular views NATO and EU enlargement. Is this "order" nice to have? Sure, though the net benefits are difficult to measure and are usually overstated. Is this order so essential to U.S. national security that the United States should be disproportionately contributing to its defense, to include assuming severe nuclear risks? On the whole, I do not think so, but this is a fit subject for a real debate, which we will not get this political season.

We can be reasonably certain, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, that the United States will remain committed to its alliance system. Given Mr. Trump's clear awareness of alliance "cheap riding," why venture such a prediction? He will need to staff his administration. The Republican foreign-policy establishment disagrees with him, and he will be forced to use their services because there isn't anyone else he can use. The ideologues who brought the Baltics into NATO, and brought the United States into Iraq, will not cooperate in the reversal of their revolutionary projects. The ensuing Republican internal guerrilla warfare would be fun to watch, but I suspect the guerrillas would win. Mrs. Clinton's views, on the other hand, are well established. She is a booster of the present system and her policies will reflect it, as did the security vignettes of the Democratic Party’s convention.

Both candidates will nevertheless find themselves facing significant pressures to reform the workings of the U.S. alliance system. The simple fact is that however fast or slowly China is growing, it is growing. No matter how fast or slowly Russia is declining, it is no longer flat on its back and the Russians remain competent at building military power. In their home regions, Al Qaeda, ISIL, the Taliban or whatever nihilistic organizations succeed them have learned how to fight the Americans, and they take the long view. The liberation of Mosul will likely not mark the end of ISIL. The costs of the U.S. alliance system, and the strategy of "liberal hegemony" in which it is embedded, are destined to grow. Meanwhile, there is so far no sign that the gridlock in U.S. domestic politics is going to end: budget compromises will likely constrain the growth of the U.S. defense budget, even as U.S. defense costs for any given size of military continue to grow relentlessly, as they have for decades. Given these likely pressures, Trump or Clinton will be forced to revisit real defense burden sharing. It is very hard to get the allies to hold up their end because the United States promises so much. And U.S. leaders do not like the political optics of public spats with allies. Enormous diplomatic determination, and willingness not only to tolerate but to precipitate tense intra-alliance relations, will be necessary to achieve real burden sharing. If the foreign-policy establishment across the two parties wishes to keep the grand strategy they have, even they will need to figure out a real, and not a rhetorical strategy to induce the allies to do more.

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